Just an ‘Ole Boy’

Just an ‘Ole Boy’
Country singer Craig Morgan will perform at the 2013 Pumper & Cleaner Environmental Expo during the ever-popular Industry Appreciation Party.

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Country star Craig Morgan rolls into Indianapolis and the Pumper & Cleaner Environmental Expo a year removed from his latest CD, "This Ole Boy," which peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart.

"When you go out and buy an album, and I've done it myself, you sometimes feel, 'Well the songs on the radio were great but the rest was just OK,' " says Morgan, a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 2008. "When they play this record, I want them to say, 'Man, I like the songs on the radio but I love this other song even better!' That's what's rewarding about an album."

Reviewers seem to think Morgan's latest meets that standard. A review on the Taste of Country website says, " 'This Ole Boy' is an easy listen. Morgan includes 12 wholesome, folksy country songs, most sung with a crooked grin but no lack of sincerity. You find yourself charmed by his good-natured, every-man character on songs like 'More Trucks Than Cars,' 'Being Alive and Living' and 'Better Stories.' "

Great American Country says the album is "full of easygoing charm. Songs like the sexy 'Love Loves A Long Night' and 'Fish Weren't Bitin' fill out a solid collection that feels like a warm conversation. Craig's music and voice have always been engaging and accessible, and it's no different here."

A successful decade

Expo attendees will sample tracks from that album when Morgan performs on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at the annual Industry Appreciation Party at the JW Marriott Hotel, connected to the Indiana Convention Center. They'll also hear some of his 14 Top Ten hits, which include "Redneck Yacht Club," "Almost Home" (Music Row song of the year in 2003), and "That's What I Love About Sunday" (Billboard's most played country song of 2005 with five weeks in the No. 1 spot).

Morgan's songwriting and recording career goes back 13 years. He made his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry stage on April 21, 2000, and was invited to become an Opry member during a special concert for troops at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C., on Sept. 18, 2008. The setting was fitting, since Morgan himself was stationed at Fort Bragg for two of his 10 years of active duty tenure in the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division.

His Grand Ole Opry profile ascribes his appeal to honesty, work ethic and humility. "We grew up tough — dirt road, single-wide trailer," he says. He never saw himself in a music career, even though his father was a bass player in Nashville. He spent time as an emergency medical technician, a contractor, a sheriff's deputy, and an assistant dairy manager at a Walmart store, in addition to his nearly two decades of military service, which include nine years in the Army Reserve.

He remains a big supporter of service members, travelling even to dangerous places to entertain. "I was one of the first artists to go into Afghanistan," says Morgan, who received the 2006 USO Merit Award. "Right after the invasion, they were still sweeping up glass in Kandahar in the airport. I get to give those men and women a little piece of home. It really does make a difference."

Hard at work

Success in the music business doesn't seem to have changed him. "After most gigs, he is right there with his band and road crew loading up the truck," according to his Opry profile. Morgan adds, "Something in my genes and my blood requires that I work — right or wrong, it makes me feel like a man."

His Opry appearances number more than 130, and he plays some 200 sold-out concerts per year. He has toured with the likes of Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, LeAnn Rimes, Brad Paisley and Trace Adkins. He is also a competitive dirt bike racer in the Mid-South Hare Scramble Series.

In June 2010, he launched the "Craig Morgan: All Access Outdoors" TV program on the Outdoor Channel. It follows his lifestyle
at home, touring and outdoors: hunting, aerial bow fishing, bungee jumping and skydiving. In its first season, it became the network's top-rated Saturday morning hunting show.

Staying grounded

Amid all the activity, family comes first with Morgan. "I love the music. I love singing and writing songs and producing records," he says. "But ultimately, I do what I have to do to take care of my family. People ask me how I stay grounded. Man, I go home and I still mow my own grass. I clean my own pool. I have kids that I play with and love the same as everybody else. I will always be that same guy.

"Whether I was working at Walmart or as a police officer, I enjoyed what I did. And I could go right back to that today. I'm going to make whatever I do interesting and fun. I've always tried to look at this like, 'It's a job, and I'm blessed to have it.' "

Reflecting on his latest album, he observes, "No matter what level of an artist you are, you choose songs based on who you are at that time and how you feel. I'm at a point in my life where I'm extremely comfortable, extremely confident. I feel good about my family, my children, my friends, my career. I think the songs that I picked, looking back now, kind of reflect that."


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