By JOHN BENSON
Country singer Jon Pardi has played many gigs around the country but for some reason he remembers past shows at the Dusty Armadillo.
“We played there about two years ago, it was amazing,” said Pardi, calling from Louisiana. “I’m really looking forward to coming back but I definitely can’t wear my cowboy hat up on that stage. I’m tall, 6-4. I hit the ceiling. I’m like a semi-truck having to watch how tall bridges are.”
When asked whether he played power forward in basketball, Pardi jokes he was more like a bench player that didn’t get much playing time. As far as his career is concerned, that’s all about to change now with the release last month of his debut effort, “Write You a Song.”
“I’m getting some play time, baby, woo hoo!” Pardi said. “I’m so excited to have an album out and go back to all of these clubs we played when we didn’t have the album out. Now we play the same songs and have a sing-along audience.”
For those unaware of the Music City business strategy, the notion of Pardi releasing a major label debut album wasn’t a guarantee. Nowadays how it works for most artists is a single is released to radio that acts as a dangling carrot. If programmers bite and the no-name act gets radio airplay, labels are more inclined to follow that initial success up with a full length effort.
However, if that dangled song dies at radio, record weasels often get cold feet and move on to another artist. Sadly, it’s an economical way to weed out non-selling performers, who normally fall into obscurity.
In Pardi’s case, the dangled track was 2012’s “Missin’ You Crazy,” which cracked the top 25 at radio. Even though the word on the street was a full-length effort was imminent, the label wasn’t fully sure Pardi was ready. That’s why last year spring the label released “Up All Night,” which went top 10 and thus green lit “Write You a Song.”
Naturally, the tightrope experience was quite harrowing for Pardi.
“It’s hard,” Pardi said. “You see your friends doing really well, and you’re still doing the same thing in the white van going from town to town. There’s always the concern. One year we had a single that was top 25 but not a top 10 where you want to put out an album. And we didn’t put an EP out, I wanted to have an album, so we geared up to 2013 and that was the point. Now, I’m really thankful to be where I’m at and to keep on going.”
As far as his style, Pardi described his music as being in the rowdy, honky-tonk traditional rocking country variety.
Local fans will get to hear the new material when Pardi returns to the Dusty Armadillo in Rootstown tonight to open for Thomas Rhett. He promises the concert will be a lot like the sound of his name. Still, as of late he’s been keeping things in control.
“I can’t party all the time, and I don’t do as many shots as I used to,” Pardi said. “Everybody has to grow up but I still like to party.”
With that in mind, what will it take for Pardi to let loose at the upcoming Rootstown show?
“I’ll do one shot at the Dusty Armadillo, I promise,” Pardi said. “But it can’t be Fireball.”