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Blake Shelton: Country Music Freaks Tour

  • Date: February 15, 2018
  • Time: 7:00pm
  • Venue:
    200 South Denver Avenue
    Tulsa, OK 74103
  • Cost: From $43.00 to $112.00

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Upcoming Events for Blake Shelton

Blake Shelton may have chosen the amusing title “Pure BS” for his fourth album, but it’s the “pure” part of the name that most aptly describes the music.

Traditional-minded but produced with a contemporary edge, “Pure BS” perfectly showcases Shelton as a powerful and expressive vocalist while also showing off his impressive songwriting skills on three of the tracks.

To get that “pure” sound, Shelton pushed himself harder than ever before as a singer and as a writer and stepped out of his comfort zone in the studio to work with some first rate producers who pushed him even more. The end result, Shelton believes, is his best album to date, and one that has already spawned the hit single “Don’t Make Me.”

In addition to his longtime collaborator, Bobby Braddock, Shelton worked with producers Brent Rowan and Paul Worley on his new CD, an experience that proved to be fruitful. In the end, Braddock and Rowan each produced four of the album’s tracks, and Worley helmed three. But the finished CD reveals that all three producers shared the same vision.

That vision sprang from his last album, “Blake Shelton’s Barn & Grill,” which featured Shelton’s hit remake of Conway Twitty’s “Goodbye Time.” When that song became a single, the artist says people frequently told him “I didn’t know you could sing like that.” Those comments inspired him to “showcase what I can do vocally a little more” on “Pure BS.”

While he says the “hard times, broken heart, drinking songs” are still where he’s vocally the most comfortable, Shelton and his producers also looked for songs that, he says, “pushed me to sing better and to see how far my range could go.”

Shelton had worked exclusively with Braddock on his first three CDs. “Bobby and I were very successful together,” he says. “We’ve sold two and a half million albums with our work together. I’m very proud of that. At the same time, I felt like for the fourth album I didn’t want to completely abandon the sound that Bobby and I had together, but I wanted to explore new stuff. I didn’t want to keep making the same album over and over again.”

Shelton’s new producers pushed him to “try new things and see what’s still inside me that I haven’t tapped into yet.” And sure enough, he says, “I did find more of myself that I didn’t know was there. I had to dig down deeper and be uncomfortable again with somebody that I didn’t know that well in the studio and feel like I had something to prove to that person.”

With Rowan and Worley, he says, “I didn’t really know what would happen when he and I went in the studio together, but man, I couldn’t be more thrilled with the stuff we made together.”

That’s not to say it was easy. Worley in particular was a tough task master. “In the studio with Paul, I would sing something that I thought sounded great and he’d hit that talkback button and say ‘Man I know you’ve got better than that in there.’ It was frustrating, but you step up and you sing harder and you reach for a note that maybe you wouldn’t have even tried,” Shelton says. “It turned out to be the right call.”

For Shelton, 2006 was a time of personal and professional changes. He and his wife amicably divorced and Shelton moved back to his home state of Oklahoma, declaring Nashville a place where he “could never get totally comfortable. It’s just way too big for me.” On the professional side, Shelton joined forces with veteran manager Narvel and Brandon Blackstock, who also handle the career of Reba McEntire.

His newfound sense of freedom even inspired a new look as Shelton shed his trademark long curls for a shorter hairstyle that more closely matches his growing maturity and stature as an artist.

After a difficult year, Shelton can relate to every song on “Pure BS,” saying they’re all “pretty much were I am as a person right now. It’s not that bad of a place. I’ve been through some tough times but . . . I feel good right now. I want to sing about a lot of those things I’ve gone through and a lot of those emotions. That’s what’s going to help me come through a better person on the other side.”

As an artist, Shelton has shown steady growth and momentum since his impressive 2001 debut, which earned him the title of Radio & Records magazine’s breakthrough country artist that year. His hits run the gamut from the sweet sentiments of “Austin,” and “The Baby” through Shelton’s powerful take on “Goodbye Time” and on to the hilarious “Some Beach” and the wildly original prison break story song, “Ol’ Red.”

The collection of songs on “Pure BS” is equally diverse, ranging from “She Can’t Get That” -- a cheating song with a twist -- to the funny “The More I Drink,” in which alcohol turns the song’s character into “the world’s greatest lover and a dancing machine.” Among the album’s other standout tracks are a remake of the edgy Chris Knight/Craig Wiseman song “It Ain’t Easy Being Me,” and the sing-along anthem “The Last Country Song,” which features guest vocals from two of Shelton’s all-time heroes, John Anderson and George Jones.

Shelton and Braddock wrote “The Last Country Song” with Michael Kosser. The lyrics, while largely about farmland giving way to development, also reference Anderson’s classic song “Swingin’” and Jones’ signature song “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”

“What I love about that song is the statement it makes not only about America, but about country music, about how what a lot of us have gotten comfortable with and used to and love about country music is going away,” Shelton says of the track. “It’s changing, and whether it’s for better or for worse there’s no stopping it.”

Despite all his professional achievements, Shelton has a unique vision for what will ultimately define his success as an artist.

“I will never stop looking for that next level of my career and how to get there, but not for the reasons that a lot of people want to get there,” he says. “I’m not chasing a dollar and I’m not trying to be the king of the mountain. I want to be that guy who, when some old guy is driving down a back road somewhere 20 years from now, he still has one of my old CDs that he’s been listening to all that time.

“I want to make those albums that [last] forever that people never throw away. When they break it they go buy another one because I sing songs that they really relate to and my music means something to them. That’s what I’m chasing.”

Upcoming Events for Trace Adkins

As he has gained autonomy, Trace has proven his ability to cut consistently first-rate country music that is both aesthetically and commercially viable, and the resulting trajectory is unmistakable.

“I've never had this much momentum,” he says, relishing the moment even as he looks for ways to build on it. At a time when the Louisiana native's engine is hitting on all cylinders, it's no surprise his new CD represents yet another major step forward. Dangerous Man is a collection that proves once again that Trace is a master both of the rowdy-that place where fun, sexy and rocking come together-and of the searingly honest slice of life.

Working with a team that includes producers Frank Rogers and Dann Huff, songwriters Craig Wiseman, Rivers Rutherford, Tony Lane and Racal Flatts' Jay Demarcus, and a stellar crop of Nashville's top session players, Trace has strengthened his position as one of country music's most versatile and powerful artists.

That versatility is once again strongly in evidence. With “Ladies Love Country Boys,” “Swing,” ”Southern Hallelujah” and the title cut, Trace is back in the territory that has made his rowdy take on love and romance a staple of honky-tonks, dance floors and video screens. Then there are songs like “Words Get In The Way” and “I Wanna Feel Something,” in which he explores that place in the male psyche that recognizes and struggles to rise above its own limitations, reaching out in pure need across the chasm that can exist between a man and a woman. “The Stubborn One” and “I Came Here To Live” are Trace at his emotional best, bridging generations to talk about those things we take from and give to each other, and the beautiful bond those interactions build through time. Through it all, Trace proves himself again to be one of the most engaging singers in the industry, with an eye for songs that draw power both from their sweep and from their telling details.

In addition, Trace makes his debut as a producer, teaming in that role with Casey Beathard and Kenny Beard on “I Wanna Feel Something.”

The project's debut single provided plenty of evidence that Trace has found a way to make his art connect with the public. “Swing,” with its clever use of baseball metaphors in describing the art of romantic pursuit, became an immediate favorite not only with fans but with Major League Baseball, which debuted it on its website, helping kick off a process whereby it became a favorite at baseball stadiums around the country.

All of this, of course, follows in the wake of “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” the kind of no-holds-barred smash most artists can only dream about. Its attraction for a wider audience can be seen in the fact that in a world where 70% of downloaded ring tones are urban and hip/hop tracks, some 75,000 people added “Badonkadonk” to their cell phones in just six weeks. The song helped increase sales of Songs About Me every week for four months, culminating in Christmas week sales of 134,157 albums-double those of the album's debut week and more than artists like Madonna, U2, Kanye West, Gorillaz, Green Day and Cold Play, all of whom had the added help of Grammy appearances. “Badonkadonk” also became the top-selling country song on iTunes, the year's #1 Dance Club Single & Video, and the #1 Video on both CMT and GAC, among many other accolades and accomplishments.

It was a fitting breakthrough for a man who has brought a working-class mentality and a true fan's sensibilities to bear on a career that has built slowly to its present heights. After stints in a gospel group and as a pipefitter on an off-shore drilling rig, Trace made a name for himself in the honky-tonks of Texas and Louisiana. He moved to Nashville in 1992 and did construction work to survive while he sang at night and looked for his break. It came three years after his move when then-Capitol Records president Scott Hendricks spotted him playing in a working man's bar outside Nashville and signed him. Trace's one-of-a-kind voice and his knack for putting believability into songs dealing with love, loss, sex, and blue-collar realities did the rest.

As the hits came, Trace remained one of country's most down-to-earth standard-bearers. People outside the industry took notice, and he became a regular on political talk shows, a spokesman for commercial products and a recurring voice on “King of the Hill.” He appeared on ESPN's "Cold Pizza", NBC's "My Name Is Earl," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” the Food Network's "Emeril Live," "Hannity & Colmes," the "PBS National Memorial Day Concert" and many more. He could also be found taking part in an ABC Radio Veterans Day special and in a tribute to Kris Kristofferson as the legendary writer was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

If there is an accomplishment that gives him particular satisfaction at this point, though, it may be one that goes unnoticed outside the industry—the fulfillment of his long-term contract with Capitol Records..

“There are a lot of artists,' he says, 'that can't say, 'I made it to the end of my contract.' I'm proud of the fact that I did that for several reasons. An artist and a label have what amounts to a long-term marriage. They're in the business of making art together. Times change, singers and styles go out of fashion, and key people at the labels come and go. Staying together for eight albums means we made it work during good times and bad, and it means I've made music people have wanted to be a part of for an entire decade. Yeah, I don't mind saying I'm proud of that.”

Day-to-day, throughout his career, Trace has been most at home on stage, thrilling fans with a career's worth of hits and enjoying himself thoroughly as he sells out night after night.

“We've gone up to that next level production wise,” he says, “and it's just a beautiful world. It's very comfortable and the crowds are great, and you cannot ask for more than that. So, touring is easier and we're just having a blast doing that.”

He is quick to credit the team around him, but the ultimate responsibility for success on stage or on record comes to rest on his big shoulders, something he has never shied away from.

“I think I have a pretty good idea of what they're going to like and what they'll enjoy listening to,” he says. “I really do, because I'm just a fan that got really lucky and was in the right place at the right time and met the right people and got this opportunity.”

He is also not shy about aspiring for true greatness. Having earned himself an indelible and unique position in country history, he is looking to attain the stature of his own idols.

“As a country music fan, I enjoy watching the TV shows that talk about country music history,” he says, “and there's always that elder statesman that they go to. It used to be Waylon would do that stuff, or George Jones, Merle Haggard, those guys that people go to when they want that bit of wisdom that comes from experience and achievement. Some day, I want to be that guy.”

Ten years into his remarkable career, it's clear that Trace is on the right path.

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