Bright lights, Music City: TV stars, musicians Esten and Peeples open season with a twang


The season three finale of “Nashville” left the audience wondering if Deacon Claybourne survived his surgery. While nobody is sure if he’ll reappear in in the fourth season, the Chautauqua audience is the lucky bunch that gets a chance to hear him live this weekend.

Charles “Chip” Esten, better known as Deacon Claybourne on the hit ABC show, will perform at 8:15 p.m. Saturday in the Amphitheater.

Esten was to be joined by his on-screen niece, Scarlett O’Connor, played by Clare Bowen, but due to last minute travel and work visa issues, she is unable to make it for the show.  Instead, Aubrey Peeples, who plays Layla Grant on the show, will join Esten.

“ ‘Nashville’ is a popular show, and I am hoping that the Chautauquans enjoy their performances,” said Marty Merkley, vice president of programming at Chautauqua Institution. “We try to keep everybody — from the ages of three to 103 — happy, and I am pretty sure these guys will help us do so.”

Peeples hails from Florida. In a recent interview with refinery29, she spoke about the artists who influence her music.

“There are definitely people I find super influential in my music, like Bonnie Raitt, The Black Keys, Jack White — anything along that blues-rock feel,” she said.

Esten is originally from Pittsburgh and describes his style as “country music with a very traditional rock edge.”

“I plan to sing some Deacon songs along with my original ‘I Know How To Love You Now,’ ” he said.

His set will include “This Town Is Ours Tonight” and “Whiskey Lips.” One of his finale numbers includes his friend and popular country music singer Chris Janson’s “Buy Me A Boat.”

“This is my first time in Chautauqua but I have heard so many great things about this place that I am really excited to play my music for them,” Esten said.