Nancy’s Celebrity Chat with Country Music Star, GARY ALLAN

The Gulfport Music Festival will be the kick off of the Country Throwdown Tour featuring Gary Allan and his band. They love to come down to the Coast and are particularly looking forward to playing for their southern Mississippi fans at Jones Park in a couple weeks. He has a new album in the works, the big tour is gearing up and Gary is very excited about what the future holds.

GTP: PLEASE TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD AND THE MUSICAL EDUCATION YOU RECEIVED FROM YOUR PARENTS – DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD HAVE FOUND YOUR “VOICE” AND BECAME A COUNTRY MUSIC STAR IF YOUR PARENTS HADN’T SET THE TONE IN YOUR YOUTH?

GARY: When I was growing up, my parents were always playing classic country records in the house. I also played in a band with my Dad and brother. So from the time I was twelve, I was playing everything from Merle to Buck to Jones in bars in Southern California. That helped me to find my voice and my love of country and that rugged Bakersfield sound. It was somewhat engrained in me from an early age.

GTP: YOU STARTED PERFORMING SO YOUNG, AND HONKY TONKS CAN SOMETIMES BE A PRETTY ROUGH ENVIRONMENT…CAN YOU TAKE ME BACK TO THOSE YEARS AND TELL ME ABOUT YOUR MOST MEMORABLE STAGE EXPERIENCES; ONE THAT WAS GREAT AND ONE THAT WAS MORE LIKE A NIGHTMARE?

GARY: One of the best experiences I had playing in a honky tonk was in a bar called the Lion Dior in Southern California. I had played there off and on mostly doing cover songs and then I started mixing in my own songs. One night I was playing and it just hit me that I had found my voice. I was no longer just trying to emulate Jones or Merle, I was just being me. It was a great feeling.

GTP: WHAT WAS THE DEFINING MOMENT FOR YOU WHEN YOU KNEW YOU HAD REALLY MADE IT IN COUNTRY MUSIC?

GARY: My first single, “Her Man,” hadn’t been out very long and I was playing a show at a water park in Arkansas. Some of the band guys and I went to ride some rides before the show and all of a sudden a little girl ran up to me crying and yelling my name. That had never happened before. It was such a surreal moment and one I will never forget.

GTP: YOU HAVE A VERY IMPRESSIVE BODY OF WORK, DO YOU MOST ENJOY WORKING IN THE STUDIO OR DOING LIVE PERFORMANCES AND BEING ON THE ROAD?

GARY: I’ve always liked to say I record records so I can play live. I love making new music, but there is just something about playing live. I feed off the reaction from the fans. There is nothing like the feeling of the crowds singing your songs back to you. It is an energy you just can’t replace.

GTP: DO YOU HAVE A SONG THAT YOU NEVER TIRE OF PERFORMING LIVE? TELL ME WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BALLAD AND WHICH SONG IS YOUR FAVORITE “KICK ASS” TUNE?

GARY: Every so often we will mix up the set list so that we don’t get tired of playing the same things and so that the fans don’t get tired of hearing the same things. However, there are some songs you just can’t ever take out of the show. I don’t think we could ever take “Best I Ever Had” or “Watching Airplanes” out of the set list. Those both stand out in the show and the fans love them.

GTP: THEY SAY THAT MUSIC IS THE UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE – DO YOU FIND THAT MUSIC HELPS US HEAL AND WORKS AS A CATHARSIS DURING TIMES OF CRISIS? I LOST MY OLDEST SON TO CANCER YEARS AGO AND MUSIC HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE ONE THING THAT ALWAYS BRINGS ME JOY AND MAKES ME FEEL BETTER. DOES IT DO THAT FOR YOU?

GARY: Music is extremely therapeutic. I went through a pretty rough time a few years ago. Not long after that I went in the studio and made an album called TOUGH ALL OVER. The process of making that album was some of the best therapy I’ve ever been through.

GTP: PLEASE TELL ME ABOUT YOUR BAND –

GARY: I spend almost as much time on the road with my band and crew as I do at home, so we are like a family. Even when we are home, we all still hang out together. Those guys are my best friends.

GTP: I WANT TO WELCOME YOU TO OUR BEAUTIFUL MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR COMING DOWN TO HEADLINE THE GULFPORT MUSIC FEST! HAVE YOU EVER BEEN HERE BEFORE? WILL YOU HAVE TIME TO STAY AWHILE AND ENJOY SOME GOLF OR SOME FISHING AND SOME R & R? IF NOT, YOU MUST COME AGAIN SOMEDAY.

GARY: We love the Mississippi Gulf Coast and we are really looking forward to returning this year. This will be the kick-off of the Country Throwdown Tour. We are bringing Justin Moore, Josh Thompson, Sunny Sweeny and Eric Paslay along with us. It will be one big party all day! If you don’t have your tickets yet, you should go get them. I can guarantee we are going to have a good time. It is a beautiful area here on the gulf coast and we always have a great group of fans who come out to support us when we are here, so we always look forward to coming back.

GTP: I ADMIRE THE FACT THAT YOU STICK TO YOUR GUNS AND HAVE NEVER CAVED TO PRESSURE TO CHANGE YOUR STYLE OR SUGAR COAT THE LYRICS OF YOUR SONGS. PEOPLE REALLY RELATE TO YOUR HONESTY AND RAW EMOTIONS DISPLAYED IN YOUR MUSIC. IN CLOSING, WOULD YOU PLEASE DESCRIBE YOURSELF – WHO IS GARY ALLAN AND HOW ARE YOU DOING THESE DAYS? WHAT IS NEXT ON THE HORIZON FOR YOU AND YOUR BAND?

GARY: What’s next for Gary Allan? Right now I am trying to finish up my next album. It has been two years since we releasedGet Off On The Pain, so I am ready to get new music out to the fans. I am also really pumped about the Throwdown Tour and bringing that to all the fans. It is shaping up to be a great tour and looks like it will be a lot of fun. It is going to be a good year and I think there will be lots of great things on the horizon.

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