Big Riggs: Country artist Sam Riggs plays Waco Friday

Austin-based musician Sam Riggs is trading places today, coming to Waco during his home city’s South by Southwest Music Festival. He will play at The Backyard Bar, Stage and Grill at 8 p.m. today. Photo credit: Courtesy Photo

The up-and-coming Austin-based independent country music artist Sam Riggs is hoping to sell out once again when he performs in Waco at 8 p.m. Friday at The Backyard Bar, Stage and Grill.

Riggs is currently touring to promote his new album “Breathless,” which debuted on February 19th.

“‘Breathless’ is really an unfiltered look at me as a writer and as a human, the human condition and finding a way to talk about the common ground we all share,” Riggs said.

Riggs will also be doing an in-store signing starting at 4 p.m. Friday at Hastings on Bosque Boulevard.

Tickets to the show this weekend are available online at and are $15. While there is a chance of rain this weekend, owner Brian Brown said The Backyard plans to hand out parkas to the audience or else move the show inside.

“It will cut our capacity, but the show will go on,” Brown said.

“Breathless” has received a lot of attention from the music industry already. quickly soared to No. 3 on the iTunes Country chart, preceded only by mainstream artists Chris Stapleton and Sam Hunt. His album also ranked No. 12 on the Billboard Country Albums Chart.

Photo credit: Courtesy Photo

“He is a great artist and doing well on the Texas charts,” Brown said. “We had quite a few people, friends and costumers, ask if and when we were going to have him in. We’re big fans.”

Riggs is a singer-songwriter from Florida, but when he decided to pursue music he started looking to move to a more lucrative city for musicians. Nashville and Austin were his two choices, but the latter won out.

“It really was a coin toss,” Riggs said. “I felt Austin would probably be more of an incubative place for me to figure out what the hell I was doing.”

Riggs said he grew up around music and everyone in his family played something or sang, although none of them were ever career musicians. He played in band in middle school and was a part of the drum line in high school, but it wasn’t until 10th grade that Riggs picked up the guitar and started writing. He moved to Austin in 2007, when he was 18, hoping to make something of himself.

“I wanted to find a way to inspire people and live a life that I was proud of,” Riggs said, “A life outside of the box. I’ve always had this obsession with dreams and goals and not accepting failure, and I guess that music was just the biggest thing I could think of at the time.”

Riggs didn’t release his first CD until 2010, but his first full-length album, “Outrun the Sun,” got him a lot of attention in 2013. Thus far he has recorded all of his music under his own label, Deep Creek Records, because he wants the freedom to explore his musical creativity without restraint.

“For me in my life right now, I’ve sort of always made my own show,” Riggs said. “I wanted to keep doing that. We did a Kickstarter [for “Breathless”], and it was the most inspiring thing ever because essentially our fan base funded this record.”

Riggs said he chose country music partially because he grew up in the South, but also because it is so lyrically driven. He is particularly inspired by Garth Brooks.

“[Brooks] is just a great writer, but I think the biggest thing is his live performance and how he interacts with and treats his audience,” Riggs said. “He always finds time to talk to people, and his stage performance is 100 percent focused on the crowd. That’s what we strive for every night.”

Riggs said it has been inspiring and encouraging getting so much attention from both industry and fans.

“It’s something you strive after for forever,” Riggs said. “Last night I played for a huge crowd in South Padre, and everyone knew the songs and were singing along. It’s moments like those when you realize that it’s working.”

Riggs has already started working on his next album, but has tried to slow down in order to focus on “Breathless.”

“As a writer you’re constantly reinventing yourself and finding new ways to express yourself,” Riggs said. “I’ve already got a bunch of songs on demo right now, but I’ve got to focus on ‘Breathless.'”

Focusing on music hasn’t gotten in the way of Riggs’s other life-long dream: aviation. The musician recently earned his pilot’s license and enjoys flying single airplanes whenever he gets the chance.

“One of my passions is flying airplanes,” Riggs said. “I think there is a definitive connection between the thrill of flight and the thrill of being on stage.”

With his career finally starting to lift off, Riggs said he is excited to see where his music career will take him next.

“You reach out for a dream and some people strive their whole life for something and it never happens,” Riggs said. “But I put both feet on this and prayed for a break and now it’s happening and the momentum itself is just beyond inspiring. It’s incredible.”