Posted by madcityradio.com on April 30, 2009 at 13:21:25:
Country singer Church doesn't let radio silence faze him
Wisconsin State Journal April 29, 2009
Even an avid country fan might not know much about Eric Church. Without any radio hits, mainstream country acts -- and Church is one, with a dose of old-school attitude and contemporary appeal -- usually fade from Nashville quicker than the Dixie Chicks after a political quip.
Yet Church's show on Thursday, April 30, at the 950-person capacity Barrymore Theatre sold out more than five weeks ago. It's easily one of the most-awaited country concerts in Madison this year -- and Church, who turns 32 just after the show, did it despite hearing yawns from radio nationwide.
It's happening elsewhere, too. Relentless touring attracted Church's faithful and raucous young adult crowd, and strong material from start to finish on his two albums, including the recent "Carolina," made him a relatively unknown star.
"I think that makes it a bit cooler," Church said. "We're being featured in Rolling Stone. They came to talk to us because we haven't had the radio hit, but we're having success. It's an anomaly."
Church had three top-20 cuts off his debut album, starting with "How 'Bout You." His current single, the soft-edged "Love Your Love the Most," is making a slow rise toward possible hit status. Church added: "When the radio hit comes -- and I hope it's coming right now -- it's something that's going to throw a lot of gas on this thing. But I can't worry about it. I just keep playing shows. The thing about us is you see the power of music. People are finding it by word of mouth. It's fun to watch this grow."
Boosted by Madison radio station Q106, Church receives more airplay here than most cities. Church also has played in Madison several times before, cultivating an audience. Last summer, he played a packed acoustic benefit show in a Middleton hotel ballroom. It was an astonishing show, as the crowd sang along with several album cuts from his debut, "Sinners Like Me."
"We have to get back to making great albums and building fans through that process," Church said. "I know people who have had massive No. 1s that I played with a couple of years ago, and I can't tell you where they are now."
Church, whose tour includes an appearance at rockfest Lollapalooza, wants to stay loyal to country fans. A graduate of Appalachian State University in North Carolina, he's devoted to hard-core country -- Merle Haggard is the topic of one Church anthem -- and wants to bring new fans to the genre.
"I still think country music's the coolest format. It's the true home of the troubadour. It's the true home of the singer-songwriter," Church said.
A renegade who favors Jack Daniels and Coke (and mentions the drink often in his songs), Church receives the biggest crowd response on a tune called "Livin' Part of Life" about tossing it all in and going fishing. Yes, he wishes the record label had released it as a single, but that's in the past. He's thrilled with his current tour.
"We've come into some towns and they're trying to scalp tickets in the parking lot," Church said with a laugh. "That's always a good sign."
IF YOU GO
Who: Eric Church with opening acts Jonathan Singleton & the Grove and Ashley Ray.
When: 8 p.m., Thursday, April 30
Where: Barrymore Theatre, 2090 Atwood Ave.
Tickets: Sold out
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