From Wednesday’s Life section of The Oklahoman.
Country singer Justin Moore’s success is no joke
“Small Town USA” singer-songwriter has already notched a No. 1 hit and an opening spot on Brad Paisley’s tour, coming Saturday to Tulsa
Country singer-songwriter Justin Moore is looking forward to his Saturday night show at Tulsa’s BOK Center with a particular level of excitement and anxiety.
The concert will be his last with superstar Brad Paisley after spending much of the past year opening for the newly crowned Country Music Association entertainer of the year. And Moore suspects Paisley the prankster has a special farewell trick planned for him.
“He’s been pretty tame to us. You know, I had a daughter back in February and he sent out the biggest man on his crew in just a cloth diaper to give me a hard time and celebrate that. And then he’s doctored up a few pictures of us, but … I know the big one’s gotta be coming,” Moore said in a phone interview last week on the road to an acoustic gig in Roanoke, Va.
“He’s a terrible person is what I think about it, I mean, my goodness,” Moore deadpanned about Paisley’s penchant for practical jokes, which have included hiding a rotten chicken in Oklahoma native Blake Shelton’s tour bus and pelting Easton Corbin with dinner rolls during his hit “Roll With It.” “No, you know, it’s fun.”
All joking aside, opening for Paisley first on his “American Saturday Night Tour,” which included an Oklahoma City show back in January, and now on his “H2O World Tour” has been a boon for Moore’s burgeoning music career.
“It’s been miserable. If it wasn’t for the catering on that tour, I would have jumped that ship long ago,” Moore joked., revealing a Paisley-esque sense of humor. “No, I’m kidding, it’s been a huge opportunity for us as a new artist … to get out and play that many shows with somebody like Brad. And Brad is as classy as he seems and very, very great to us and been a huge part of our success over the past year.”
Moore, 26, released his debut album in August 2009, and the self-titled effort has spawned four top 40 singles on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, including his first No. 1 with “Small Town USA.”
“I think you write best about what you know, no matter what that is and no matter what you’re going through at the time,” said Moore, who just finished work on his second album. “The more personal that you can get, I’ve learned, the better. If it’s personal to you, it’s probably personal to somebody else.”
With “Small Town USA,” the Poyen, Ark., native thought only people who grew up like him in a hamlet of 300 people would relate to the song. Fortunately, his twangy ode to rural life struck a chord with many country fans, and he celebrated his first chart-topper by getting “highly intoxicated” in the Wisconsin bar he was playing the night he got the big news.
“It was really, really cool. There’s a lot of great artists that have great careers and never get to experience one of those,” he said. “For it to be that particular song — a song I wrote about how I grew up and where I grew up and have all my family in the video … made it even more special.”
He co-wrote nine of the 10 tracks on his debut, including the bawdy “Back That Thing Up,” the rural rocker “Backwoods” and current single “How I Got to Be This Way.” Penning own material gave his debut an autobiographical feel and helped country music fans get to know him. He considers himself a regular guy, “I just have a really cool job.”
“I’m not one of these guys that has to write every song on my album, but for me, it just kind of worked out that way. Writing kind of defined what I was going to be as an artist,” he said. “I’ve kind of learned over the past few years that everybody obviously wants to know what you sound like on the radio, but I think before they spend money that they don’t have probably on albums and tickets … I think it matters to ‘em who you are as a person, too. I think we did a pretty good job of putting songs on the album that gave people a pretty good view of that, so I think that’s been a lot of our success.”
The newcomer also got to witness his benefactor reach a new level of success: Moore was on hand last week when Paisley won the CMA entertainer of the year title for the first time.
“I’m really, really proud and happy for him on his big win,” he said. “I’m gonna have to give him a hard time on crying, but other than that, it was great.”
He knows he better get in the hits while he can. On the final night of the “American Saturday Night Tour,” Moore got his crew to don skimpy Speedo swim suits and raid the stage during Paisley’s “Water.” He expects retribution is in the offing as he finishes his run on the “H20 World Tour.”
“He hasn’t got us back since then, so you kind of know it’s coming. But you don’t really think about it,” Moore said. “You gotta have thick skin to be buddies with him.”
With: Darius Rucker and Justin Moore.
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Where: BOK Center, 200 S Denver, Tulsa.
Information: (866) 726-5287 or www.bokcenter.com.