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Country star Jason Aldean is having his kind of party
When Jason Aldean went into the studio a decade ago to make his first album, he could not have envisioned what was ahead for him.
Since his first single, "Hicktown," came out in early 2005, Aldean has become one of country's consistently hottest acts. His first five albums have gone platinum or better, with 2010's "My Kinda Party" selling more than three million copies. His second single, "Why," was his first No. 1, and he's had five more of those -- including "Burnin' It Down," the lead track from his new "Old Boots, New Dirt" album -- along with six other Top 10 hits.
This year Aldean -- the Academy of Country Music's reigning Male Vocalist of the year and the most downloaded male country artist according to the Recording Industry Association of America -- played, and sold out, stadiums, while Garth Brooks name-checked the 37-year-old Georgia native as one of his current favorites. It's certainly head-spinning stuff, and Aldean says he doesn't take any of it for granted.
"I'm happy," says Aldean, who was born Jason Aldine Williams in Macon and was taught to play guitar by his father. "From where it started to where it is now, there's a big difference. So I think it's cool to look back at all the years we've been on the road sort of building up to this point.
"We worked hard to get here, so now it's cool to sit back and enjoy it a little bit."
But, Aldean adds, the desire to maintain and grow his stature prevents him from spending too much time resting on his cushiony laurels.
"I think you always want to stay on top. That's just human nature," he explains. "At the same time I realize by me doing things the way I always have, that's what's put us in this position. So I don't want to go around and change it too much. I don't want to start over-thinking things.
"Again, we're in a position not a lot of people get to, so I may as well enjoy it."
One thing Aldean doesn't like about his tenure at the top is his designation as the king of "Bro Country," a sub-genre that also includes fellow hitmakers Luke Bryan and Aldean's current tour mates Florida Georgia Line. A brawny body of songs about drinking, driving trucks and women is responsible for the designation, but Aldean considers it "the stupidest term I've ever heard" and tries to distance himself from it -- without, of course, alienating the bros and the women who love them.
"Everybody wants to put a little title on everything," Aldean -- who prefers Brooks' "muscle country" description of his music -- says with an audible shrug over the phone line. "I don't know what to call it. People have been singing songs about trucks and drinking and partying for years. I don't know why me doing it or the group of guys that's out right now singing about those things suddenly makes people want to put a name on it.
"I'm just cutting songs I can relate to and going out and trying to entertain people that best I can. I'm not going to go out and record songs that talk about something I have no idea about, ever."
"Old Boots, New Dirt" -- produced by Michael Knox the man who discovered Aldean playing in an Atlanta nightclub in 1998 and has been by his side ever since -- features 15 of those relatable songs, albeit with some new twists. The lusty "Burnin' It Down" certainly pushes country's conservative barriers, while "Sweet Little Something" is a contemporary club banger with a banjo signature to keep it in the country realm. There are plenty of other rock and pop touches in the mix, and Aldean says a desire to break new ground is one thing he hopes will stay constant in his career.
"I'm constantly looking for ways to change," says Aldean, the divorced father of two who recently announced his engagement o former "American Idol" finalist Brittany Kerr. "You can be the trailblazer that tests the path or the one that follows it after everyone's been there, done that. I never want to be the person that's following stuff. I can't speak for everybody else, but I'm constantly looking for ways to change it up and feel like I'm doing something different and not giving people the same album over and over.
"When you stop doing that, when you stop trying to get better, that's when you're gonna be left in the dust. I want to make sure that doesn't happen to me."
Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line and Tyler Farr
7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 10-11
The Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills
Tickets are $59.75 and $29.75
Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com
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