Wednesday, May 24, 2017
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Brian Dugger

COMMENTARY

Luke Bryan is upping the ante

"I'm just trying to be a country music star, man."

Luke Bryan's answer to the simple question of what he's been up to is delivered through the phone in a heavy southern drawl, probably unique to southern Georgia where he was born and raised, and punctuated with a hearty chuckle.

If you hear most people say they are trying to be a star, you might roll your eyes and think they need an attitude adjustment. Not with Bryan. He's humble and grateful, as evidenced by his jumping up and down on stage at the recent CMT Awards when he won Male Video of the Year.

If one of his goals is to be a country music star, let's just let him check that off his list. This week, his single, "Drunk on You," became his fifth single to reach the top of the radio charts. His album, "Tailgates & Tanlines," sold another 28,000 copies last week, bringing its total to 1,204,000.

On July 7, he'll be one of the headliners in the typically star-packed lineup at Country Concert in Fort Loramie, Ohio. Bryan will take the stage at 8 p.m., just before Blake Shelton. They are just two of the stars who will perform during the three-day festival, which begins on Thursday. Justin Moore and Eric Church will be playing on Thursday, the Zac Brown Band is at Hickory Hill Lakes campground on Friday, and Bryan and Shelton cap a full day of entertainment on Saturday. A full lineup and ticket information can be found at countryconcert.com.

There's no doubt there will be legions of female fans coming out to see the unassuming superstar with the movie star looks from Leesburg, Ga.

"My thing is that I just try and have fun and not take all this too seriously. I think fans like seeing somebody not scared to be a little goofy and who will put a song out there that's fun," he says.

One of his most fun songs, of course, is "Country Girl (Shake It for Me)," which always gets that legion of female fans up dancing.

"I look forward to 'Country Girl' every night. I've been fortunate that the past few songs keep getting bigger and bigger."

He followed up "Country Girl" with two straight chart-toppers -- "I Don't Want This Night to End" and now "Drunk on You."

"This has been a year for me where I feel like I've turned the corner, and it's time for me to be a legitimate headliner," he says. "I'm in the game with the biggest headliners. Now I need to put together a show, music, and songs that can make that happen."

For those at Country Concert who will be seeing him for the first time, they probably won't be disappointed. And if they are, they are going to have to deal with it because he's going to be around for a while.

"I want to hit it as hard as I can for the next 10 to 15 years, and I want to get better and better each year and up the ante," he says. "I want to be a better singer, performer, and piano player. If I can do that, I'll be a better entertainer."

Brian Dugger's column on country music runs in The Blade the last Saturday of every month. Contact him at bdugger@theblade.com or on Twitter @DuggerCountry.

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