One of the most recent stops on the tour was in Louisville, Kentucky, for a show at Old Forester’s Paristown Hall, where he met Dilan Peirce.
Dilan stumbled upon Zach’s music sometime last year, and immediately related to it because of some things going on in his personal life at the time. He’d just recently picked up playing guitar again, and was spending hours after work everyday trying to get really good at it, playing a lot of Zach’s songs for practice.
As a huge fan, Dilan drove four hours from home to see him perform live for the very first time at the show in Kentucky, and with just a duffel bag, a guitar, and a couple friends, he had hopes to meet Zach at some point after it was over.
When the show ended, Dilan ran to his car to get his guitar and headed towards the artist exit where he knew Zach would eventually leave from. He immediately started playing every Zach Bryan song he knew, and without too much trouble, he had the whole crowd singing along outside.
About two hours later, Zach finally walked out, and hearing the music, started singing along to his fan-favorite song, the aforementioned jam “Heading South”. As Zach started signing autographs for people, Dilan waited all night until it was finally his turn.
He was going to have Zach sign his black acoustic guitar, except for the fact that neither of them had a silver sharpie, so the signature wouldn’t show up if he signed with a different color. As it turns out, there were bigger and better things in store because of that.
In what’s actually a pretty bold move (if you didn’t know, musicians don’t love other people handling their instruments), Dilan left his guitar with Zach in Louisville and told him he would meet him at another show someday down the road, without any sort of concrete plans or real way to get it back.
Not long after he left that night, Dilan ended up buying tickets for the show the very next day in Cincinnati, Ohio, at Bogart’s. He messaged Zach to tell him he’d be there, mostly just so he could get his guitar back as soon as possible.
But, without any prompting or warning, Zach replied with this:
“What song do you want to sing on stage?”
After getting over the initial shock of realizing what was about to happen, Dilan responded saying he’d prefer to perform “Revival” or “Heading South,” and Zach chose “Heading South”.
Dilan tried to keep it to himself in terms telling people he was getting up on stage, but after some friends and co-workers found out, they told him to leave early that day and go enjoy the moment. When he got to Cincinnati, all he knew was that he’d be going on stage with Zach at some point to sing a little bit, thinking he would be in the background helping out.
Eventually, the crew informed him that he was going to be singing “Heading South” center stage, playing with Zach’s guitar, immediately following “Snow” on the set list.
Needless to say, he was internally freaking out just a little…
He took the stage like a pro, though, and introduced himself to the crowd as if he’d been opening for Zach on the whole tour:
“This is the best fucking night of my life.
I really wanna thank my job for letting me out of work early today to be here. He texted me about this, and they were like, ‘Dude, just leave, this is a once in a lifetime experience.’
My name’s Dilan Peirce, I’m from a little town called Ada, Ohio. It feels fucking great to be up here with you, Cincinnati. I never dreamed I’d be doing this in my fuckin’ hometown.”
There’s a reason Zach wanted him on that stage. Dilan sang the song like there was nothin’ to it… he strapped on Zach’s guitar, stepped up to the mic, sang the hell out of the song, and had the whole damn crowd singing along with every word as a result.
And, knowing that’s one of the tracks people look forward to hearing the most at a live show, it’s all the more impressive.
If it sounds like it was all a pipe dream, it still feels surreal to Dilan days later:
“Reading the message from him was the most chilling moment of my life. When I received it, I had chills.
I almost couldn’t drive the 2.5 hours home. It was an amazing feeling.”
And, to state the obvious again, if he didn’t already before, Zach now has a fan for life in Dilan:
“I’m a huge fan of his. If not for him and his music, the last year of my life wouldn’t have been the same.”
It’s just so freaking cool to see an artist like Zach, who already resonates deeply with his fans so authentically through his music, finally getting out there on tour and reaching out to them like this. It’s truly not something you see very often at all from artists these days, unfortunately.
I think we all know Zach’s a superstar in the making because of his songwriting talent and fantastic tunes, but things like this are going to be what propels him to the very top of country music for a long time.
Not because it’s showy or flashy, but because it’s so damn humble, down to earth, and above all else, authentic.
And because I love a story with a happy ending, I just wanted to let y’all know they finally got their hands on that silver sharpie, too: