Patoka, IL native Drew Baldridge's music reflects the small town life in which he was raised, from fun filled weekend nights to his religious influences. Over the past few years, the singer songwriter has shared the stage with artists such as Alabama, Phil Vassar, and Josh Turner among others. On April 7th, Baldridge released his newest EP, Crossing County Lines Volume 2. He kindly took the time to talk with us about his roots, the project, and the exciting things ahead.
You began playing guitar and writing music at age seventeen. Was music always something you were interested in?
I always played music growing up. I played piano for a long time, but gave it up when I started playing sports. Of course you know how it is--when you’re around seventeen years old you get your first girlfriend and it goes south ....and then you start writing about it! It all started with the emotions around that story. Then my mom surprised me on my 18th birthday with tickets to see Josh Turner in Nashville at the Wildhorse Saloon. We came down to see him and while watching him I thought “man I want to do this” and decided to give music a shot.
Is it true that you gave up the opportunity to play college basketball and baseball to pursue music?
I did. Several different colleges had scholarship for me. I went to visit, but the whole time in my mind I was thinking that this wasn’t really what God wanted for me. One day I just said to my mom that I didn’t think I was going to play sports in college; I was going to move to Nashville to do music. She looked at me and agreed it was the right thing to do. She and my Dad have believed in and supported me 100% since the day they drove me down here [to Nashville].
What specifically drew you to country music?
It was just the way I grew up. I was raised in a small town of six hundred people. My grandpa had a farm and we all helped him. It’s what I know. I’m not saying that I don’t love other kinds of music, I do. I listened to a lot of Elvis, Michael Jackson, and the Backstreet Boys; I loved all that stuff, but I gravitated to country music. No matter the production, a country song tells a story. That’s what a country song is [to me] and that’s what I love about country music.
Earlier, you mentioned Josh Turner. Is he one of your musical heroes?
Oh gosh yes! I got to do a mini tour of the Northeast with him and he was on stage and said “can I say what a god job Drew Baldridge just did.” I looked at my drummer and bawled my eyes out! It was one of those surreal moments. I really was living my dreams.
Crossing Country Lines Vol. 2 was released April 7th, how involved were you in writing for the record?
I wrote all of the songs except one, “Something Like You.” That song was written by Ben Hayslip and Rhett Akins. It’s the only outside song I’ve ever sung, but I felt there was something special about the song. I knew the band would like it and that it would go over great with fans, which so far it has.
I am a big dancer on stage and I wanted to write a dancing song, so we wrote "Dance With You." The song is really different which I think will turn people's heads. We made it as crazy as we could!
This EP is volume two in a series. Why did you chose to release music in this manner?
I released All Good in 2013 and six months in the hard core fans were reaching out asking me when there would be new music. With ipods and such, six songs really is not enough for people these days. Being independent, music is here and gone the next day. So I sat down with my publisher and we got to talking about a new strategy for releasing music. We wanted to do it differently while giving fans more music. We came up with the plan to release four to five songs every few months and Crossing Country Lines was the result. The first volume came out in December 2014 and the second was released just a few weeks ago. We’re hoping to release the third in August. Volume 1 was in the Top 15 on the iTunes chart and Volume 2 was even more well received by the fans. We just want to keep giving the fans new music, keep them involved and grow along the way.
A personal favorite from the EP is “God’s Front Porch.” What is the story behind that song?
That is one of my favorite songs. I was writing with Monty Criswell who wrote “I Saw God Today” and “Like Jesus Does.” I knew he was a Christian and wrote those kinds of songs, so I told him where I wanted to go when writing; that I wanted to write a song about God with a good message. He had the idea about God’s front porch and it came out really fast. Writing it was such a blessing from God, we wrote what we were supposed to write very easily. It was pretty unbelievable. I’ll probably start playing this one live, just me and my acoustic guitar.
In this day and age, social media is pretty important in connecting with fans and spreading the word about your music. You do something called “Drewsday Tuesday.”
Every Tuesday afternoon we release a video; some videos are personal, like behind the scenes stuff from my eyes, others are more of a get to know feature. They’re a lot of fun to do.
What are your touring plans for the summer?
We are going to be playing lots of fairs and festivals like the Windy City Smokeout, where we’ll be playing with Chris Young. We’re really excited about that and playing with Lee Brice in the summer as well. We are having more dates coming in as we speak too. It’s a big step from last year when we were fumbling for dates to now having people call us. It’s really exciting to see us grow!
Finally, is there any recent release that you cannot stop listening to?
It’s not recent, but I have been jamming to Earth, Wind and Fire’s Greatest Hits album in my car for the past two weeks. I get on these weird kicks of music, but I suggest you give it a listen, especially the song “September.”
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