Five years ago, Luke Bryan had just scored his first No. 1 song as songwriter for his work on Billy Currington’s “Good Directions.” And the ink wasn’t even dry on his first record deal.
Today, he’s got five No. 1 singles of his own and is planning his first arena tour for 2013.
“With me, I’ve been lucky where all of my steps have come as they should, kind of gradual,” Bryan said during a phone call from a tour stop in California. “With this (arena tour), it’s been a gradual, gradual climb where it’s time for that to be happening for me now. It’s not overwhelming for me. It’s really fun and exciting. Now, we put that focus in and kind of remember what got us here and try to amplify that.”
Country music fans can get a free peek at what Bryan’s headlining tour might be like Wednesday when the “Drunk on You” singer headlines the Capitol Street Party 5.
The event has moved from its previous home on Demonbreun Street to Broadway between First and Second avenues. Labelmates Jon Pardi and Kelleigh Bannen will open the show, which is expected to draw more than 12,000 people.
“We started the Capitol Street Party five years ago as a forum to let the fans and the music community celebrate the great music that makes Nashville Music City and our home,” says Cindy Mabe, senior vice president of marketing at Capitol Records Nashville. “The economy has certainly taken a hit these past five years, and it was a way for us to reinvigorate this community as the place where great music is made and celebrated by offering free concerts by some big headliners and great new talent.”
‘One of the best’
Bryan, who is nominated for male vocalist of the year and album of the year at the Nov. 1 CMA Awards, plans to deliver his entire hit-laced, high-energy show with his full stage set for the street party crowd. He feels that playing shows like the street party, as well as his current Farm Tour of rural towns, helps him to figure out what elements he wants to include in his arena tour next year.
“We are looking at stage setups and how many buses it’s going to take and how many trucks to haul it around and the lighting and trying to pick new songs and new things,” he says of the planning process. “So we’re going to get through this year and spend the off season thinking about how we’re going to do things and how much money it’s going to take to put it on and figuring out the way to put on the best show out there.”
Bryan got plenty of practice playing some of the largest arenas in the country this year as the second act on Jason Aldean’s tour. Aldean situated his stage in the middle of the arena and sold seats on every side. The setup allowed Bryan to push himself even more as an entertainer, and Aldean saw his friend come into his own over the course of the tour.
“Luke is one of my best friends in the world — honestly,” Aldean says. “And I think Luke could have gone out and headlined his own thing this year, but he chose to go out with us. He’s at a point where he’s ready to do his own thing. He’s had a monster year this year, and his show has come a long way from when he was out with us two years ago to what it is now. Just as an entertainer in general, he’s come a long, long way.
“You love to see good things happen to good people, and he’s one of the best people in this business.”
Album in the works
Another thing that’s going to help Bryan on his headlining tour is new music. The singer recently released “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye,” the fourth single off his “tailgates & tanlines” album, and he says it will be the last from the platinum-selling project. His next single, which will be released after the first of the year, will be from his upcoming album.
“We just want to have a fun new single to kick off the headlining tour,” he says.
Bryan is already hard at work looking for songs for the new album, which will be in stores sometime in 2013. He spends most mornings sitting on his tour bus listening to songs he’s written and others that have been submitted to him from Nashville’s top songwriters.
He says he couldn’t be more thankful that he’s finally reached the point in his career where he rates access to the genre’s best material.
“I’m really feeling good about the album,” he says. “I feel like we could make the album tomorrow, but I’m still going to work hard and try hard and try to beat what I’ve got. I’m really and truly blessed.”