Radio.com Essentials: Jason Aldean, Country’s Biggest Rock Star
It’s not any artist who can sell out venues as large as New York’s Madison Square Garden, Boston’s Fenway Park and Chicago’s Wrigley Field. But then again, Jason Aldean is not just any artist. He’s a bona fide country superstar.
Radio.com spoke with Aldean recently about his his career, his latest album Night Train, and his 2013 tour, which is currently in progress and includes upcoming dates at Fenway (July 12-13) and Wrigley (July 20).
The two historic baseball stadiums can pack in upwards of 37,000 and 41,000 people, respectively. Couple those figures with the fact that earlier this year he also sold out Madison Square Garden (over 18,000) and played the first-ever music show at Athens, Georgia’s Sanford Stadium (to a crowd of more than 60,000), and it’s clear that Jason Aldean has reached a new level of popularity. As music journalist Alan Light says in our Radio.com Essentials profile on Jason, he “blew through being an arena headliner” and this year aimed much higher.
As he has since the early days of his career (his debut album was released in 2005), Aldean works hard to create a concert experience that every year is bigger and better for his core crowd — and in the process also attracts new fans. “Your live shows are just like anything else,” Aldean tells Radio.com. “The more you’re out there on the road, playing your shows, you see stuff, every year, that you get more ideas about. And each year you try to change it up” so that “people don’t think they’re coming to see the same show every single year.”
His popularity can in part be attributed to his ability to choose the right songs. “When you’re putting albums together,” Aldean explains, “the songs will reflect whatever place you are at that particular time.” And in the case of his latest collection, Night Train, when it came time to put together material for that album, he was coming off the biggest success of his career to date (his 2011 album My Kinda Party). “So that was where my mindset was when we started recording this record.”
“He doesn’t write any of his own stuff,” notes country journalist Beville Dunkerley, “but he has the knack for picking the songs that sound like something he could have written himself.” And on Night Train, he’s again reaching a high degree of success with his picks. The album has sold over 1.3 million copies, helped earn him another ACM Entertainer of the Year nomination, and has so far spawned three Top Ten hits: “Take a Little Ride,” “The Only Way I Know,” and the goofy Joe Diffie tribute “1994.” A fourth single, “Night Train,” was released to radio in June.
A rock’n’roll edge is part of Aldean’s sound — and part of his large appeal. “It’s not just country served up right down the middle,” Aldean says of his sound. “I love traditional country and grew up with a lot of that stuff. But it’s not something I particularly want to get out on stage and sing for an hour and half every night. I want [my music] to be little edgier than that.”
Walker echoes that sentiment. “When you’re playing to 30-, 40-, or 50000 people,” he said about Aldean’s sound, “you might have more of a rock feel to fill the stadium.”
Jason Aldean’s Night Train Tour continues across North America through the summer and fall.