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Luke Bryan hopes fans keep crashing his party

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Luke Bryan crashed the country music party seven years ago, and the shards of glass are still falling to the ground all these years later.

The Leesburg, Ga., native has notched five Top 5 country albums, with three -- including last year's "Crash My Party" -- hitting No. 1. He has 12 Top 5 singles of his own, along with guest appearances on Jason Aldean's "The Only Way I Know" and Florida Georgia Line's "This is How We Roll." And Bryan's trophy case is bulging after a nine category sweep of the 2012 American Country Awards, an Entertainer of the Year win at last year's Academy of Country Music Awards (which he co-hosted with Blake Shelton) and two Billboard Music Awards earlier this year.

At this juncture, it's fair to say Bryan IS the party when it comes to country music.

"I am completely humbled and amazed -- really," says Bryan, 37, a lifelong country music fan who attended Georgia Southern University before moving to Nashville in 2001. "I'm so much farther down the path in this business than I ever could've dreamed of. I'm just trying to enjoy it and take it all in and make sure I truly enjoy where I'm at."

Bryan's initial success was as a songwriter, penning the title cut for Travis Tritt's "My Honky Tonk History" in 2004 and so co-writing Billy Currington's chart-topping "Good Directions" before landing his own recording deal and co-writing all but one of the 11 songs on his 2007 debut album "I'll Stay Me."

Bryan was an instant smash; "I'll Stay Me" hit No. 2, while he won Top New Solo Vocalist and Top New Artist at the 2010 Academy of Country Music Awards and Breakthrough Video of the Year for "Do I" at the CMT Music Awards. And his main ambition since then has been to keep things on a forward trajectory.

"Man, I'm shooting for enjoyment, love and making each album better and better," explains Bryan, who's married to his college sweetheart, with two young sons at home. "I just want the albums to progressively sound better and try to grow. I think I grew with ('Crash My Party'). I just love how this album came together and the way we put it together. Every aspect of it has been awesome."

"Crash My Party" certainly had a high mark to follow. Bryan's 2011 album "tailgates & tanlines" [cq] was his most successful release to date, giving him his first No. 1 country album, hitting No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and going double-platinum, with four Top 5 hits. "Spring Break...Here To Party," a compilation of his "Spring Break" EP tracks, followed in March by going No. 1 on the country and pop charts.

But Bryan says that he "didn't feel any pressure" while making "Crash My Party" with producer Jeff Stevens. "After I record it and my record label falls in love with it and I truly feel like they love it and nobody's blowing smoke, I just get confident," Bryan explains. "I play it for my family, my buddies; once they start loving it, the pressure's off for me. I feel like I'll be alright."

Bryan did take some chances on the album, however -- particularly on "That's My Kind of Night," which incorporates contemporary hip-hop style loops at the risk of polarizing his audience. "And I don't mind that at all," he says. "You have to go out on a limb and try things, I think. Once you homogenize yourself, there's nothing really great in that, either." No worries in the end; "That's My Kind of Night" because the first of three No. 1 singles (so far) from the album.

Bryan is already planning for his next album -- "I think about it day-in and day-out," he says -- but he's primarily focused on playing his songs, new and old, on the road throughout the remainder of the year.

"I'm just about growing the live show and touring for years and trying to keep it at a high level for as man years as I can," Bryan says. "I'm a realist in this whole thing. It's my day in the sun in so many ways, but somebody else'll come along and it'll be their day in the sun. I've enjoyed the climb, I'm enjoying where I'm at now and I'll enjoy when things slow down, too.

"But right now the throttle is wide open and it's all systems go and everything I ever dreamed off. You can't ask for more than that, can you?"

Luke Bryan, Lee Brice and Cole Swindell perform at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, June 18-19, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road at I-75, Independence Township. Both shows are sold out. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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