Thursday, May 31, 2012
LITTLE ROCK They may not be entirely visible at first, but there are definite tiers of country music stardom.
For the first four years of his career, Luke Bryan released a couple of records with hits that had traction on the country music charts. This afforded him a certain cachet, which led to opening-act gigs for stars at a tier above him - stars such as Kenny Chesney and Trace Adkins. Though this was definitely success, Bryan hadn’t yet separated himself from the large pack of young, attractive male country singers that Nashville propels into the marketplace year in and year out.
In 2011, however, Bryan released Tailgates and Tanlines, which included the single “Country Girl (Shake It for Me),” and suddenly the singer from the tiny town of Leesburg, Ga., had himself a country hit that was recognizable outside of country music.The party anthem stayed on top of the country charts only two weeks, but its suggestive theme - and Bryan’s many high profile performances of the song beside cheerleaders - pushed the singer to the next level.
“I think ‘Country Girl’ was a big enough up-tempo number to get me up there,” Bryan says. “Each song that I’ve had has elevated my career and pushed me to the right level. Any slower or faster climb, I don’t think I would have handled it as well.”
“Country Girl (Shake It for Me)” and other Bryan hits will be on the bill whenhe headlines a concert at Riverfest Amphitheatre 7:30 p.m. Saturday with Craig Campbell and Chancie Neal opening the show.
Bryan came close to not having a music career. Though he had been playing steadily since he was 16, Bryan was on the path of working for his father, who had a fertilizer business and a peanut farm. Bryan played on weekends when attending Georgia Southern University, but he didn’t foresee any other town but Leesburg in his future.
“When I had finished up college, I went back home and worked for my dad,” Bryan says. “I knew I would have a great life working in agriculture. I have a supportive family. My dad kinda told me he would fire me if I didn’t go to Nashville and give it a shot.”
The approach that Bryan takes to music is fairly workmanlike. He is happy to maximize the opportunity he now has. Bryan has a tradition of releasing a new EP every spring to coincide with spring break. In March Spring Break 4: Suntan City came out under Bryan’s name and promptly sold almost 30,000 copies in its first week.
Bryan says the Spring Break albums aren’t part of a grand scheme.
“The Spring Break albums started because I had compiled a bunch of party songs that weren’t ever going to make it [to] an album. As long as the music is gonna be good and fun, then we’ll keep doing them.”Luke Bryan
Opening acts: Craig Camp
bell, Chancie Neal
Where: Riverfest Amphithe
atre, 100 E. LaHarpe Blvd.,
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $46 for reserved
seats, $41 lawn seating
Info: Ticketmaster.com or
Weekend, Pages 39 on 05/31/2012