Country singer Easton Corbin is true country

If you go

Who: Rascal Flatts with Sara Evans and Easton Corbin

When: 7 p.m. tonight

Where: Blossom Music Center, 1145 W. Steels Corners Road, Cuyahoga Falls

Tickets: $48 to $92 at Ticketmaster outlets

Place:Blossom Music Center

1145 W. Steels Corners Road, Cleveland, OH

By John Benson

Patiently waiting for his chance in the spotlight for years, country singer Easton Corbin is starting to reap the rewards from his 2010 self-titled debut effort, which includes No. 1 singles “A Little More Country Than That” and “Roll With It.”

Born and raised in rural Gilchrist County, Fla., Corbin spent much of his time on his grandparents’ cattle farm after his parents divorced when he was young. When he wasn’t fishing in a local river or working on the farm, Corbin could be found listening to old country records. Little did he know he was getting schooled in the traditional country sounds of Merle Haggard, George Strait and Keith Whitley. Now his debut record is getting compared to those giants.

“I love those guys, and like I always say, nobody will ever fill their shoes,” said Corbin, calling from Michigan. “Those guys are legends and there’s a reason for that, so it’s just an honor to be mentioned with them.”

While music played a large role in Corbin’s life, his journey to Nashville didn’t begin until after he earned a business degree through the College of Agriculture at the University of Florida. Soon after, he and his newlywed wife moved to Music City where the aspiring artist took a day job at a local hardware store to make ends meet. It wasn’t too long before Corbin found an agent, signed a record deal and started working on what would become his debut effort.

Guiding the singer-guitarist was producer Carson Chamberlain, who years earlier had toured with Corbin’s idol Whitley. The two shared a love of traditional-sounding material, which led to cutting tracks such as the respectful “A Little More Country Than That,” love song “The Way Love Looks” and the playful “Roll With It.”

Even though Corbin is still supporting his first album by touring as an opener with Rascal Flatts (the bill plays Friday at Blossom Music Center), he’s already looking ahead at his important sophomore release. In fact, he’s currently playing new song “Tulsa, Texas.”

“It’s a song that was around when I was doing the first record, and I didn’t think it was right for that album,” Corbin said. “When it was time to start making this record, it was still standing out. No matter what I was listening to, that song was still fresh in my mind. I figured if it was still there it must be good enough to cut, so I went ahead and recorded it.

“It’s just a great country track. It’s one of those songs where you’re pretty much leaving. You’re telling a girl you can find me in Tulsa, Texas or Tallahassee, Tennessee or Memphis, Mississippi. Basically, you’re not wanting her to find you because you’re running away”.

So does Corbin have any girls he’s running away from?

“Ah, not really,” he said shyly.

Apparently there’s not much Corbin runs away from. That includes hard work. For example, he said growing up he was heavily involved in agriculture, including the youthful rite of passage of being a 4-H and FFA member.

“I showed cows,” Corbin said. “I was just doing it because I liked it. I did take away some ribbons but never became a grand champion.”

Perhaps that latter accolade will happen in country music?

“I’d like it to,” Corbin laughed. “We’ll see.”

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