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Published: Sunday, 7/29/2007

Trace Adkins balances rowdy, fun-loving hits with serious songs

BY BRIAN DUGGER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Trace Adkins' hits include 'Ladies Love Country Boys' and 'HonkyTonk Badonkadonk.' Trace Adkins' hits include 'Ladies Love Country Boys' and 'HonkyTonk Badonkadonk.'
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Trace Adkins is a tough guy. He s got that low voice that spews toughness. He was an oil-rig worker, played college football at Louisiana Tech, got shot by his ex-wife. You think of tough, you think of Trace.

And then he calls from his bus, a bus shared with his wife, Rhonda, and four of their five daughters. His 2-year-old is chattering in the background.

He probably had the family outside the bus doing push-ups before calling, right?

We just went out and did the fair thing today, he says. I just put my hair up under a ball cap, throw on a pair of sunglasses, and go.

The fair? Yep, Adkins comes across as rough, and you d probably want him on your side in a bar fight, but he makes no apologies for being a family man first. He recently was named the honorary chairman for the Walk for Food Allergy, an event sponsored by the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, which raises money for research and education about the dangers of food allergies.

My 5-year-old little girl [Brianna] has really severe food allergies. That s something we ve really gotten involved with. By accident, she got ahold of some peanut butter [when she was 18 months], and that was our first trip to the emergency room. It is terrifying. It s something we have to deal with on a daily basis, he says.

Brianna is, of course, one of Trace s advisers. She suggested he release Ladies Love Country Boys as a single. That turned into a No. 1 hit. Brianna also thought Honky Tonk Badonkadonk would do all right, too. She knows how to pick them.

Honky Tonk Badonkadonk points to the conundrum that is Adkins. On one hand he can release playful songs like Badonkadonk, Hot Mamma, Chrome, and Swing. Then he ll turn around and release deep songs like Arlington, Help Me Understand, and his current single, I Wanna Feel Something. He chuckles when asked whether the real Trace Adkins is playful or serious.

I think he encapsulates all that stuff. I m a pretty balanced individual. I like a good joke as much as the next guy, but there s a serious side to me as well, he says.

I Wanna Feel Something is the serious Trace. It talks about being numbed by today s world.

I was thinking about this the other day. When I was growing up, we had three networks we could get with an antenna. You picked one of those networks and watched 30 minutes of news a day. We d get the paper once a week and that was it. Today, you re bombarded with news 24/7 if you choose to be, and I think it makes us a little jaded, apathetic, and complacent to a certain extent. Anymore, it takes something really insane to grab our attention, he says.

I Wanna Feel Something is the third release off of Dangerous Man, likely to be Adkins third consecutive platinum album. He s been in the studio finishing work on his next album, which he s hoping to release by the end of this year or the beginning of next year.

I m excited about it. I think it s got some really good stuff on it, he says. We re going to come with the first single pretty quick, probably next month.

So life continues to move on for Adkins. It s been about 11 years since he released his first album, Dreamin Out loud, which included Every Light in the House, (This Ain t) No Thinkin Thing, and I Left Something Turned On at Home. Those 11 years have seen millions in record sales and a more crowded tour bus, but he says he still has goals to reach.

When people think about the top four or five guys in country music, I don t think I m included in that. I m a pretty competitive guy. I want to perform at the top of my game. I want to be the best at it, so I m not going to quit working until I decide to hang my spurs up and go home.

Trace Adkins will be in concert at the Monroe County Fair in Monroe, Mich., Monday at 8:30 p.m. Ticket range from $20 to $30 and can be purchased by calling 734-241-2702. Additional information can be found at www.monroecountyfair.com.

Contact Brian Dugger at:

bdugger@theblade.com.



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