If a customer treks 2,205 miles for breakfast, the bistro must be special. Country singer-songwriter Aaron Tippin occasionally flies from his Sparta, Tennessee home to Felts Field and typically lands in the morning so he can chow down on his go-to dish at the airport’s Skyway Cafe.
“My favorite meal at the Skyway Cafe is two eggs scrambled, bacon, hash browns and a waffle,” Tippin said while calling from Sparta.
There is no need for Tippin to tell the staff of his order. “We know what Aaron wants when he comes in,” Skyway Cafe owner Sandy Melter said. “I think it’s wonderful that he loves our place. When he arrives, it’s like, ‘Oh my God!’ They (patrons) try not to disrupt him but they always do but he’s good about signing autographs. Aaron is just amazing.”
Tippin has no problem with all of the attention when he lands at Felts Field and dines at Melter’s cafe.
“I love Felts Field and the Skyway Cafe! I tell everyone about it. My wife (Thea Corontzos) has relatives in the area so we get over there to see them.”
Corontzos focused on music and vocal performance at Gonzaga during the ‘90s. “Thea studied there for a couple of years before moving to Nashville,” Tippin said. “Most of her family went to Gonzaga so there’s a long history with Spokane. I don’t remember the first time I flew into Spokane but we’ve been coming there for many years. We love it!
Tippin, 64, isn’t known for his aviation skills. The Pensacola native became a star a generation ago courtesy of some of country music’s most patriotic songs. “You’ve Got to Stand for Something” and “Where the Stars and Stripes and Eagles Fly.”
“I stand for what I believe in because that’s how I was raised,” Tippin said. “I know not all folks agree with me and that’s OK. That’s what makes us America. We can disagree with one another because we live in this country that is free and I pray we will always stay that way.”
Tippin learned to respect the flag, the military and the country due to his father. “My dad was my hero and when we lost him it was very hard,” Tippin said. “He’s the reason I am as patriotic as I am. He taught me that at an early age. He also taught me how important it is to shake a man’s hand and look him in the eye and he gave me a work ethic that has served me well.”
Considerable effort is put into each song Tippin crafts.
“I was a songwriter in Nashville before I got a record deal,” Tippin said. “To me the song is the most important thing. If the song is well written then anyone can have a hit with it and it will stand the test of time. Without a song you have nothing. My personal favorite song that I’ve written is one I wrote with my wife, Thea, about my dad. It’s called ‘He Believed.’ ”
Tippin has penned an array of tunes about his beloved country, his family and the blue collar man but there is one type of track that is most challenging.
“I’ve written all kinds of different songs through the years but I would say love songs are probably more difficult to write,” Tippin said. “My wife helps me a lot with the female perspective since she’s a songwriter too and I think we’ve written some good ones.”
The former farmhand has knocked it out of the park with such songs as “That’s as Close as I’ll Get to Loving You,” “Without Your Love” and “For You I Will.”
With more than 30 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, it would seem to be a chore for Tippin to choose songs every night.
“The setlist is pretty easy,” Tippin said. “People come to hear the hits so that’s what we do and we just put them in an order that makes sense for the flow of the show.”
Tippin just finished a tour with his pals Sammy Kershaw and Collin Raye, which he enjoyed.
“Touring with Sammy and Collin has been a blast,” Tippin said. “We all came from the same era and we have a great time singing the old hits. We’re so thankful people still love that ‘90s country.”
But Tippin, who will perform Friday at the Bing Crosby Theater, isn’t a nostalgia act. “I’m always writing new material so you never know when I might release something,” Tippin said. “Be on the lookout in the New Year for some new songs from me.”
Tippin eyes the future as he writes new songs but he also looks back at an enviable run. There are a number of highlights for Tippin but a patriotic experience with an icon is his proudest moment.
“My career started out performing for our troops with Bob Hope and that’s been pretty hard to top in these 32 years,” Tippin said. “I’ve been so blessed to have a lot of incredible moments but another one that stands out for me was seeing my CD floating in space with the astronauts. They chose to wake up to my song, “Big Boy Toys” on one of their missions. That was pretty awesome!”
Tippin’s life would have been very different if there wasn’t a gas crisis during the ‘70s.
“I did fly corporate and cargo when I was younger,” Tippin said. “But the energy crunch in the ‘70s was tough on pilots so I decided to go a different route and ended up in country music. I would have been a pilot for a living for sure if the music business hadn’t worked out. Now I have the best of both worlds. I get to sing and fly!”
And where else does he visit when he flies to Spokane? “We love to go to O’Doherty’s and have known the family for years and just walking around downtown,” Tippin said. “Mostly, we just love spending time with the family and hanging out with them.”
Tippin has done more than chill with a beer at O’Dohertys. The country star/everyman has sung karaoke with owner Tim O’Doherty.
“I was one of the Pips and he was Gladys Knight,” O’Doherty owner Tim O’Doherty said while chuckling. “I really love to sing and to be able to get up there with Aaron was such a blast. He’s the brother-in-law of one of my really good friends and he is such an everyman. It’s great when he sings in here but it’ll be so much fun to see him sing when he comes back to town (at the Bing).”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter
Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.