Interview: Drew Baldridge Ready to Share ‘Funkry’ Debut Album With Fans
It's an "exciting time" to be Drew Baldridge, the singer says: The up-and-comer's debut album, Dirt on Us, is due out on Friday (June 10), he's on the road for a radio tour, and his current single "Dance With Ya" is climbing the charts.
"This week, it's No. 45. That's the highest I've been, ever," Baldridge told The Boot just before Memorial Day. "I know that doesn't sound like real high, but hey -- it's somewhere for me, and it's exciting to -- just consider, man, I have the No. 45 song in the country. It's crazy to think about that."
When it came time to select songs for his project, Baldridge was serious about having some fun -- so serious, in fact, that he's coined the term "funkry" ("funk" plus "country") to describe his particular style of music.
"You know, our fun and upbeat stuff," he says with a laugh. "It's got a little funk and country ... but I never take away from my small-town roots and where I come from ... It's a groovy album with a small-town layer."
Baldridge grew up in Patoka, Ill. (population: about 600). He sang in church with his dad, helped out on his grandfather’s farm and graduated high school with 42 kids in his class. So his first record's title -- and its title track -- offers layers of meaning: On the one hand, it's a winky nod to the everybody-knows-everything part of small-town life, but it means something more serious than that to the singer.
"You know, we got a lot of dirt on us: We work really, really hard," Baldridge explains. "It makes sense for where we're at right now; it shows all the hard work that we've done."
Baldridge is proud of the diversity and depth of Dirt on Us -- "there's some seriousness, there's some small-town stuff," he notes, in addition to party tracks such as the lead track, "Train" -- but ultimately, "Dirt on Us" is the song he would pick if fans could only hear a single track.
"I love playing that out," he admits, "and I love the feeling I get when I sing it because it's so real and it's so true."
Still, Baldridge is having a blast introducing his fans to all of his album's 13 songs..
"It's a fun album to play live," Baldridge says, "because there's a lot of fun songs on it."
And audience reaction is important; in fact, it's part of how Baldridge decided which songs from his previous EPs to include on Dirt on Us.
"They were just the songs that were getting the most reaction," he admits. "And they were the songs I liked the most out of all of them ... When we play them out, we see the reaction that we get, and all those songs that we chose get a great reaction."
Baldridge will have the chance to see plenty of audience reactions in the coming weeks: He'll be playing the 2016 CMA Music Festival's Radio Disney Stage on June 9, and on the festival's Walk of Fame Park Stage on June 10, the day his album drops. Then, on June 15, he'll make his debut at the Grand Ole Opry.
"[It's] just absolutely crazy to think I get to do that," Baldridge says of playing the Opry. "I mean, that's unbelievable."
The artist says he's thinking about pulling out a cover for his Opry debut, but he's pretty sure he'll also play "Dirt on Us." And while Baldridge says that he rarely gets nervous performing live anymore, the Opry is a different story.
"All the history that's there, all the greats that have been on that stage, you kinda get up there and stand in that circle and wonder, 'Man, do I really deserve to be here?'" he muses. "And, you know, it's nerve-wracking, but it's very self-gratifying to think, 'Wow, I've finally made it this far. I can't believe I'm here' ... It's very awesome and very scary at the same time."
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