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It's good to be back: Austin Jenckes at The Seasons

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Austin Jenckes started playing music in front of people when he was 13.

He’s 33 now. That means for more than 60 percent of his life, standing on stage and singing has been his thing. The Duvall-born country songwriter rode that ability to a spot on “The Voice” back in 2013 and has parlayed that profile-boost into a legit career in music, playing bigger venues and being featured in Rolling Stone and all of that. He was riding high throughout 2019 on the strength of his album “If You Grew Up Like I Did.”

Then 2020 happened and live music essentially shut down all over the world. Jenckes still played, of course. There were a couple of virtual gigs, livestreamed online. And there was a three-song set last month at the Grand Ole Opry. But he hadn’t played a full set in front of a live audience in more than a year when he got up on stage at The Seasons Performance Hall on Saturday.

“I feel like a new man,” he said during the performance.

There’s a lot of that going around lately, as more people are vaccinated and are able to go out in public. Most of the people in the audience — around 50 or 60, given state COVID capacity constraints — probably hadn’t seen a show in more than a year themselves. That included Joyce Buck, Jencke’s mom, who blew him a kiss from the audience after he played “Never Forget,” a new one he wrote for her a few months ago.

“This has been the best night of my year so far,” Jenckes said at the show’s conclusion.

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Guests wearing masks check in to attend a live performance by country singer and songwriter Austin Jenckes Saturday, April 3, 2021, at The Seasons Performance Hall in Yakima, Wash.

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A sign which bears the inscription “ENTER through these doors” is seen Saturday, April 3, 2021, near the hall entrance at The Seasons Performance Hall in Yakima, Wash.

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Host Randy Beehler, right, announces safety protocols before a live performance by country singer and songwriter Austin Jenckes Saturday, April 3, 2021, at The Seasons Performance Hall in Yakima, Wash.

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Guests take a selfie with a cellphone before a live performance by country singer and songwriter Austin Jenckes Saturday, April 3, 2021, at The Seasons Performance Hall in Yakima, Wash.

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Country singer and songwriter Austin Jenckes performs “Wandering Mind” in front of a live audience Saturday, April 3, 2021, at The Seasons Performance Hall in Yakima, Wash.

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Country singer and songwriter Austin Jenckes performs “Never Forget” in front of a live audience Saturday, April 3, 2021, at The Seasons Performance Hall in Yakima, Wash.

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Host Randy Beehler, left, interviews Joyce Buck, mother to country musician Austin Jenckes, during a virtual live performance Saturday, April 3, 2021, at The Seasons Performance Hall in Yakima, Wash. Just moments before this interview, Jenckes performed “Never Forget,” a song written and dedicated to his mother.

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Country singer and songwriter Austin Jenckes performs “Daddies with Daughters” in front of a live audience Saturday, April 3, 2021, at The Seasons Performance Hall in Yakima, Wash.

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Host Randy Beehler, left, interviews country singer and songwriter Austin Jenckes, right, during a recorded live performance Saturday, April 3, 2021, at The Seasons Performance Hall in Yakima, Wash.

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Seen from the second story balcony, country singer and songwriter Austin Jenckes performs “Fat Kid” in front of a live audience Saturday, April 3, 2021, at The Seasons Performance Hall in Yakima, Wash.

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Guests dance to a live performance by country singer and songwriter Austin Jenckes Saturday, April 3, 2021, at The Seasons Performance Hall in Yakima, Wash.

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Country singer and songwriter Austin Jenckes performs in front of a live audience Saturday, April 3, 2021, at The Seasons Performance Hall in Yakima, Wash.

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Guests dance to a live performance by country singer and songwriter Austin Jenckes Saturday, April 3, 2021, at The Seasons Performance Hall in Yakima, Wash.

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Guests sit next to a character cardboard cutout in the audience during a live performance by country singer and songwriter Austin Jenckes Saturday, April 3, 2021, at The Seasons Performance Hall in Yakima, Wash. Cardboard cutouts were placed throughout the audience to act as spacers following social distancing guidelines.

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Randy Beehler hosts a virtual live performance by country singer and songwriter Austin Jenckes Saturday, April 3, 2021, at The Seasons Performance Hall in Yakima, Wash.

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Country singer and songwriter Austin Jenckes, right, shares a story about his friendship with musician Cody Beebe, seen left, during a live performance Saturday, April 3, 2021, at The Seasons Performance Hall in Yakima, Wash.

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Musician Cody Beebe performs “In My Head” with country singer and songwriter Austin Jenckes during a live performance Saturday, April 3, 2021, at The Seasons Performance Hall in Yakima, Wash.

Reach Pat Muir at pmuir@yakimaherald.com.

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