Want to get up close and personal with the biggest star in country music? Just head to a local farm near you.
Singer Luke Bryan doesn’t just have a thing for the outdoors — he was practically raised out there. As the son of a peanut farmer in Leesburg, Georgia, Bryan has always been a passionate proponent of family farms. It's a big part of the reason Bryan pays tribute to his agricultural upbringing in his annual Farm Tour concert series, which brings his wildly sought-after live shows to working farms "in small agriculturally-focused communities and cities throughout the South and Midwest that don’t have an arena or venue large enough for his regular tour."
If that’s not enough for fans, Bryan has recently released a celebratory EP titled "Farm Tour … Here’s to the Farmer," which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. And with tracks like "I Do All My Dreamin’ There" and "Love Me in a Field," the album dives deep into Bryan’s roots, all while perfectly showcasing his dangerously catchy tunes.
Fox News Magazine spoke exclusively with Bryan about "Farm Tour … Here’s to the Farmer," but we also got the chance to ask what it really takes to be a Southern gentlemen, and where his most unusual experience with a fan occurred. (Hint: It didn’t involve a tractor.)
FNM: How is your new EP different from anything else you’ve done so far?
LB: This project is special because it hits close to home. The American farmer works so hard. I watched my dad every year work sun-up to sundown. I know the pressure they are under, and to be able to honor them even in this small way is exciting and a privilege. When we wrote "Here’s to the Farmer" I knew it was special. I feel like me and my co-writers tried to paint the picture of that way of life. It is one of those songs you pray that you have done right, and people can relate to.
FNM: You're one of the most successful artists in country music. Why was it important to take your live shows to local farms, as opposed to arenas?
LB: When I was young, we had to travel to the bigger cities to see shows. I always wished for them to come closer to home so we could all go. That’s what we did with Farm Tour, brought the show to small towns that might not normally get one. But what I have loved even more is being able to give back to these farming communities like the one I grew up in. We give a college scholarship to a local student from a farming family in each of the Farm Tour markets. These families work so hard to make ends meet, so it’s good to be able to help them a little.
FNM: I’ve got to ask, which has been your favorite farm to visit on tour and why?
LB: In 2012, we played in Athens, Georgia, and not only was the property beautiful, but we were in Dawg nation! That was a rowdy one.
FNM: Which track from the new EP was the most challenging to record and why?
LB: "You Look Like Rain" was the most challenging because I didn’t write it and the demo was great. I knew we had to record it and sing it just right while keeping it true to me.
FNM: How do your farming roots continue to inspire you, even after achieving fame and success within the music industry?
LB: Honestly? I just try to stay true to who I am, write what I know about, and remember to call daddy to see how the crops are doing.
FNM: What was the most surprising part of performing at farms?
LB: Well, it’s not surprising, but Mother Nature is hard to predict when you are out on a farm. We’ve been affected by it all — lightning, rain, mud, tropical storms. And this year, our second hurricane.
FNM: Tell us, what does it really take to be a Southern gentleman?
LB: Always say "yes ma’am" or "no ma’am" — it gets them every time, haha! Just be respectful and good to everyone.
FNM: Is there a song (not yours) that often has you thinking, ‘Damn, I wish I wrote that!’
LB: That has to be Justin Moore’s "You Look Like I Need a Drink."
FNM: Who are your biggest idols in any musical genre?
LB: Definitely Kenny Rogers, Charlie Daniels, Earl Thomas Conely, Lionel Richie, Ronnie Milsap, and Alan Jackson.
FNM: And finally, what’s the most unusual experience you’ve had with a die-hard fan?
LB: One time we came home from dinner and a fan was going through our trash can. That was unusual.