Actor-author-country music star Trace Adkins brings his many hats to Monterey County Fairgrounds.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Trace Adkins knows how it feels to work 12-hour days, sweating his ass off under an unforgiving sun. The country music superstar used to make his living performing labor-intensive duties, including a decade-long stint working on an oil rig, until he got signed at the age of 34.
“I’ve often said that roughneck describes me better than entertainer does,” Adkins says in his trademark deep, southern drawl. “I’m really a roughneck and my hobby turned into my career.”
Adkins’ tireless work ethic has helped him translate his talent into a buffet of show-business success: Since 1996, he’s recorded 10 albums, written a book (A Personal Stand: Observations and Opinions from a Free-Thinking Roughneck) and appeared in movies and on several television shows.
Music will always be Adkins’ number one love, though, and the accomplishments are ample there as well: The musician, who performs on Friday at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, has racked up four Grammy nods, two Country Music Awards and has had more than 20 singles on the Billboard country music charts. But Adkins says the most prized honor of his music career was becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
On Aug. 2, Adkins released that 10th album, Proud to Be Here, a record that he says clearly demonstrates his growth as a musician since his debut.
“On my first album, I hear a guy that’s scared to death and doesn’t know what he’s doing,” he says. “Now, I can hear a guy that’s having a good time and has confidence that he knows what he’s doing. I can definitely hear the difference in the work. It’s night and day as far as I’m concerned.”
“If I Was a Woman” – one of four additional tunes featured on the deluxe addition of the album – shows off a little bit of humor, Adkins style.
“If I was a woman, I’d love a man like me,” he sings.
“[The song] was an idea that [collaborator] Blake Shelton had and I thought it was funny,” he explains. “We thought it would be funny if it was about two guys jousting back and forth with one another trying to compete for the woman.”
Adkins delves into more of a sentimental vibe with “Just Fishin’.” The tune is about a father and his daughter – Adkins has five daughters – going fishing. Through the experience, he learns about her life: “I’m lost in her there holding that pink rod and reel/ She’s doing almost everything but sitting still/ Talking bout her ballet shoes and training wheels.”
“That’s one of those songs that I did for myself and fathers everywhere,” Adkins says.
The video, featuring the country singer and his 6-year-old daughter casting and reeling, was filmed on Adkins’ property in Nashville.
“[Making the video] was very comfortable because we were at our own place,” Adkins says. “The director was a mother herself so she had that sensibility and knew how to make sure [my daughter] was as natural as she could be.”
Even though music is Adkins’ true love, he can’t seem to stay away from the cameras: He recently starred in the thriller The Lincoln Lawyer, a film based on the Michael Connelly novel starring Matthew McConaughey and Marisa Tomei.
“I went and read for the part,” says Adkins, who plays a badass motorcycle gang leader Eddie Vogel. “It wasn’t one of those things where the director had me in mind for the part. After I read, the director said he had since learned who I was but I got the part because of the reading. I said, ‘I take that as a compliment, but you don’t know who I am? I thought I was a bigger deal than that.’”
At one point in the film, Adkins rides a motorcycle through the streets of Los Angeles.
“I was thinking, man, I’m actually getting paid for this,” he says.
The Lincoln Lawyer wasn’t Adkins first time behind the camera: In 2008, he appeared on the train wreck known as Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice with Stephen Baldwin, Piers Morgan and Tito Ortiz. And Adkins was actually one of the three finalists.
“[Celebrity Apprentice] was an exercise in restraint,” he says. “I hoped I would go up there and get a couple plugs in for the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network and didn’t really expect to make it all the way to the end. There was a point when we were half-way in when I realized ‘These people don’t have any game. I can do this.’”
Adkins will be touring steadily through Thanksgiving in support of the new album. In December, he’ll co-host the Country Music Awards for the second time.
“I’ll probably slow down for a little while after that,” he says.
That helps illustrate that, though it may appear that the relentless working man in him never says no to any opportunity, there are times when he’ll decline a gig.
“It’s usually because I haven’t been home and that’s the only reason that I turn stuff down,” he says. “I say, ‘I’d like to do this for you and I appreciate the offer and the money, but I just need to go home.’”
TRACE ADKINS plays 7:30pm Friday, Aug. 19, at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, 2004 Fairgrounds Road, Monterey. $20-$65. 394-8432.