Singer Jason Hughes has suddenly never been busier – and he's got country legend Garth Brooks to thank.
Ireland's reignited love affair with Brooks is reaping rewards for Jason's tribute act. Bookings for the superstar soundalike and his band have skyrocketed in recent months.
Jason is one of the best-known Brooks tribute acts – he jokes that he has "been Garth Brooks longer than Garth Brooks" – but this dramatic new spike in demand has caused even him to raise an eyebrow.
Hot from a gig at Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast, the Londonderry man said he was stunned by the reaction since Brooks came out of retirement to launch a world tour.
He said the country star's sold-out run in Dublin in July had made his tribute act more sought-after than ever.
"I have been doing this for 18 years now and I have always been able to make a living from it but this year has taken things to a whole new level," he said. "We have toured Europe, America, Ireland and Scotland. The demand has never gone away.
"I think to a degree Ireland forgot how much it loves Garth Brooks, but when he announced his comeback people fell in love all over again. As a result our bookings have increased from around 40 to over 140 this year."
Jason said the response to his show has been phenomenal.
"I am actually quite a shy person when I am not on stage and the reaction from the audiences at times leaves me gobsmacked," he added.
"The gig at Crumlin Road Gaol was a fine example. People were really getting into the music and at the end they were asking for my autograph."
Brooks is playing an unprecedented five shows at Croke Park this summer – but ironically Jason will be far too busy to attend any of the gigs himself.
- Country music singer Garth Brooks broke records for both sales and concert attendance throughout the 1990s.
- A new world tour starts on July 25, 2014, with five sold-out concerts at Croke Park in Dublin.
- Some 400,000 tickets were snapped up by fans with hours of being released.
- Tomorrow, disappointed fans may get one final chance to go to a Croke Park gig when an extra batch of tickets will be made available.