Eric Church, the country star taking center stage at the Spokane Arena on Friday, has won awards, scored platinum selling albums, and sold out concert halls around the world and performed with fellow country stars Keith Urban, Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan. He’s in the midst of his “Holdin’ My Own Tour,” and there’s some literal truth to that title. He’s not bringing along an opening act, and he and his band will play two full sets each night.
Here are 7 things to know about Eric Church.
1. He knows how to rock. Just listen to “A Mistress Named Music,” the second track from his latest studio album, 2015’s “Mr. Misunderstood.” It sports a guitar solo that would not be out of place on any arena rock album. He’s been known to mix it up live, too, incorporating into the song classic rock tracks by artists such as Bob Seger, Billy Joel, Little Feet and Kenny Loggins. The album’s title track drops references to not only Texas singer-songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard, but Elvis Costello and Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy.
2. Then there’s Springsteen. And “Springsteen.” “Springsteen,” the song, is Church’s biggest hit, going triple platinum and scoring nearly 83 million streams on Spotify. It’s not about the Boss, but about young lovers enjoying a great night at a Springsteen show. In it, Church name-checks huge Springsteen hits such as “Born to Run” and “I’m on Fire.” It appears he’s taken cues from Springsteen’s famously epic concerts – the setlists on the “Holdin’ My Own Tour” have ranged from 29 to 38 songs. More than one concert reviewer has drawn a comparison between the two artists. People should get their money’s worth on Friday.
3. He’s a fairly regular visitor to Spokane. Church made what appears to be his first stop in town in July 2010, with a show at the Knitting Factory. A year later, he hit the outdoor stage at Northern Quest as the opening act for Toby Keith. By January 2015, he was headlining the Arena, where he returns this weekend.
4. Maybe it’s the legal weed? That’s probably not what brings Church to town, but it’s no secret that Church has been known “to drink a little drink, smoke a little smoke,” as he sings in “Smoke a Little Smoke” from 2009’s “Carolina,” Church’s only platinum album (so far). At the ACM Awards in 2014, Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan joked about Church’s dressing room as a euphemism for a cannabis dispensary.
5. Still, Church is a family man, married with two sons. His 5-year-old, Boone, has been acting as a roadie on this tour. As he recently told the Sounds Like Nashville website, “And Boone’s got a radio, he’s got his flashlight, he’s got a little work belt and his pass,” and he helps get his dad on stage in a prompt manner.
6. He’s among the artists leading the fight against ticket scalpers. Last month, he canceled 25,000 tickets for the spring tour that were purchased by scalpers for resale on the secondary market, usually at a huge markup. Those tickets then were made available to fans at face value. He told the Associated Press he’s doing all he can do to stop what he calls a criminal organization that’s making millions. “They buy thousands of tickets across the U.S., not just mine, and they end up making a fortune,” Church said in an interview. “They use fake credit cards, fake IDs. All of this is fraud.”
7. Remembering Waylon. Church is among the country luminaries paying tribute to the late Waylon Jennings in a TV special airing April 7 on CMT. Rolling Stone referred to it as “an outlaw-worthy cast of artists influenced by Waylon Jennings” that gathered in Austin in 2015 to celebrate Jennings, who died in 2002. Church lent his voice to “Lonesome, On’ry and Mean,” while Sturgill Simpson and Willie Nelson teamed up for “I Can Get Off on You.” Chris Stapleton, Kacey Musgraves, Toby Keith, Jamey Johnson, Alison Krauss, and Jennnings’ Jesi Colter and their son Shooter Jennings also are on hand. “Outlaw: Celebrating the Music of Waylon Jennings” also is being released on a CD/DVD package.
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