John proudly introduced Tyler to the crowd as '"a veteran, the outlaw kid, my adopted nephew. He's a prodigy, he's the real McCoy. You hear the tone is this man's voice ... if you knew about his life story you'd call him a man, too. He's had one hell of a life, 16 going on about 40 right now and you can hear it in his voice. True country music to me are artists, not singers. The difference between a singer and an artist -- an artist says something that only they can say, and they sound only like themselves. Tyler Dickerson is a by-god country artist."
And so Tyler took the stage, all stick-straight straw blonde hair under a black cowboy hat, and lived up to every bit of that introduction. His single, 'Tell Your Sister I'm Single,' is pure radio fun, but there's definitely more to this kid than that, as he proved on songs like 'Bad Boy,' and the sweetly honest, 'She'd Be You.' Any question of Tyler's devotion to and appreciation of Nashville and country's colorful history and roots was removed when he called Tootsie (the original owner of the club where he performed for two years and landed his deal) by her full name onstage. And any question about his talent was removed when he performed the song that got him his record deal and started the ball rolling on his career, 'Always on My Mind,' the pop-country smash most closely associated with Willie Nelson.
It was hard to keep a dry eye when Tyler explained the significance of the song and just how far he's come in such a short time. "I started singing when I was 9 and this song I'm about to sing for you is the song that got me into the country music industry, and the artist who sang it is one of my heroes and this song means a lot to me. I started doing it when I was 9 and picked up a guitar when I was 10, and moved to Nashville when I was 13. I started playing at Tootsie's at 13, and a year ago in June is when I signed my deal with Lyric Street Records. And that still gives me chills to say that. And when I signed my deal my mom and dad and sister and I were living in a popup camper at the KOA campground. And you can only imagine 4 people living in a popup camper in a KOA and only having one car. It was in the dead middle of winter, and below zero outside, and we didn't have heat inside the camper and we stayed in that for about 5 months. And there were times I would go sleep out in the car. I got down about it and felt like it was my fault, and beat myself up over it every day. And I lost sleep over it and when Lyric Street came along I was able to get myself out of that situation, and out of everything I've accomplished, that was probably one of my biggest accomplishments was getting my family out of that camper. So every day I wake up it's like one more puzzle piece falling into place in this puzzle."
Another piece of the puzzle had fallen in place earlier that day as well, when it was announced that Tyler would be opening Brooks & Dunn's final tour beginning in April. He closed out the memorable evening with an appropriate medley of Merle Haggard's 'Workin Man Blues,' and the Johnny Cash classic, Folsom Prison Blues,' paying homage to some of the outlaws who have obviously informed his music and may just be in his soul as well.
Tyler Dickerson on AOL Music