Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013 | 1:59 a.m.
Like the cowboys and cowgirls competing at the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo at the Thomas & Mack Center, Trenton, Fla., native Easton Corbin started strong right out of the gate.
Corbin released his self-titled album in March 2010, and it spawned two No. 1 hits, “A Little More Country Than That” and “Roll With It.” The dynamic debut was the first for a country male artist since Clay Walker did it in 1994.
(Walker, incidentally, sang the national anthem during Round 1 of the WNFR, performed two shows at the Venetian Showroom over the weekend and was a presenter at Tuesday night’s 2013 American Country Awards at Mandalay Bay Events Center.)
But don’t think that Corbin let the accomplishment get to his head.
In keeping with his farming upbringing in Florida, Corbin this year has partnered with Ram Truck and the Future Farmers of America, of which he was involved with growing up, in a yearlong, cross-country effort to promote farming by visiting communities to speak about the importance of farming and to perform.
Corbin talked over the phone last week from his home in Nashville ahead of his journey to Moapa High School in Overton on Friday for an FFA and Ram Truck appearance, followed by his concert at the Mirage on Saturday night.
What are you looking forward to most in performing at the Mirage next week [now this Saturday]?
I love Vegas! It’s NFR, and I love rodeo. It’s my crowd, and it’s a good place to be. Although after two days, it wears me out. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of people. I love NFR.
Only two days?
Well, you’re hanging out with people in the casinos, and you don’t realize how late it is. Before you know it, you look at your watch, and it’s 7 o’clock in the morning.
What can fans expect at your show?
A great time; I really want the crowd to get into it. We’ll play original stuff and covers that I love. We have a great time and love the crowd to get into it.
Tell me about your involvement with Ram Truck and the FFA.
It’s a really cool thing. Ram Truck asked me to partner in their “Year of the Farmer” promoting farming. I perform for FFA chapters across the country; it’s a wonderful organization. I was part of in high school, and it was a positive influence in my life. And I’m spreading a positive message about the importance of farming.
What is your favorite part of farming?
My grandpa owns a small cattle farm in Florida, and growing up I loved helping him. I showed cattle as part of 4-H in high school. It was our thing — a great opportunity to spend time with my grandparents. And fortunately they’re still with us.
A Little More Country Than That
All Over the Road
How did you break into the music industry?
Music is something that I have always loved. I played in bands all through high school and in college at festivals when I was attending the University of Florida. I had a demo that a cousin of mine from Montana sent to friends in Nashville, and that started it.
I grew up in Montana.
I love Montana! I just returned from visiting friends and hunting in Montana.
How was it touring with Blake Shelton this year?
Blake Shelton is a cool guy, a real class act. I met him four years ago, and even after the tons of success he’s had, he’s still the same guy I met four years ago. He’s a down-to-Earth, humble guy.
And you’re hitting the road with The Band Perry next year?
It’s a great opportunity to go out there and make new fans. We start in Canada — it’s going to be cold! — but it’s going to be really fun, especially with their younger audience and building that fan base.
How does it feel to be the first solo male artist in 17 years to have his first two singles go to No. 1?
Aw, dude, it’s a blessing. What can you say? You always hope for that success. It’s really tough out there to get that success. It’s an honor and a dream come true.
Who did you listen to growing up?
I had so many heroes growing up, but especially Merle Haggard, Keith Whitley and George Strait.
What are your plans for your third album, the follow-up to “All Over the Road”?
I’m in the studio now, and I’ve got the lead single. I’m really fired up about it. My hope is to create great music. I’ve got about seven or eight cuts right now. I really believe in it, and I hope everyone else agrees.
What do you like to do for fun in Las Vegas when you’re not working?
I am not much of a gambler — I always lose all my money — so I like to just hang out with my friends, chill out. I’ve been in town mostly for awards shows. MGM Grand is great; that place is huge.
Who are some current artists you are listening to right now?
Hold on — I need to let my dog out to go to the bathroom (laughs). A lot of traditional country music like Chris Young and Joe Nichols. I really like Joe Nichols — he’s great.
What has been your proudest accomplishment in 2013?
We’ve been off the top of the charts for a while, so just getting back out there and getting that momentum going. With my second album, “All Over the Road,” just getting music out there that I am proud to perform.
New Year’s resolution and plans for 2014?
I want to get out there and make as many fans as possible!
Don Chareunsy is senior editor for arts and entertainment of the Las Vegas Sun.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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