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Award Doesn't Alter Country Singer's Intent

Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

He has the Academy of Country Music's Song of the Year, but that hasn't changed Jamey Johnson's ambitions at all.

"I think right now we'll just keep doing the same thing we've been doing, which is going out and playing our shows for people," says the Alabama-born Johnson, who's "In Color" took the ACM honor at last month's ceremony. "If that turns into bigger venues, then that's fine.

"But for right now, you've got a honky-tonk band playing in a honky-tonk bar, and that's what we do. I don't need arenas and private jets and all that crap. I just play country music."

The award has certainly had some impact, however. After the ceremony Johnson's current album, "That Lonesome Song" sold 18,000 copies, according to SoundScan, a 60 percent increase. The album jumped 25 spots to No. 33 on the Billboard 200, with total sales now at 386,000.

It's further proof that BNA Records may have erred in dropping Johnson after 2006's "The Dollar," but he doesn't view the sales, the award, the three Grammy nominations or glowing reviews as retribution.

"It never was about retribution," says Johnson, whose video for "In Color" is up for two CMT Music Video Awards on June 17, Male Video of the Year and Breakthrough Video of the Year. "There's no element of hostility here. It's just about playing country music the way that I like it and the way that people who love traditional country music like it, and that's got nothing to do with paybacks or anything like that."

Johnson and his band have dates booked into October and is working a new single, "High Cost of Living," from "That Lonesome Song." But he's also started work on his next album, including some collaborations with Teddy Gentry from Alabama.

"I've been writing some, but I haven't had the kind of time I've had available to me in the past," says Johnson, who's also contributed some songs to George Strait for considering on his next album. "I think we're looking at hopefully getting an album out in fall if not early winter, but we'll definitely have to get some time in the studio to make that happen."

Jamey Johnson and Ryan Bingham perform Thursday (April 16) at Clutch Cargo's, 65 E. Huron St., Pontiac. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20. Call (248) 333-2362 or visit www.clutchcargos.com.

Web Site: www.clutchcargos.com

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