Country’s Wild-Card Jon Pardi Ready to Begin Alan Jackson Tour
It's difficult to imagine Jon Pardi ever sneaking out at night when he was younger. The 'What I've Been Drinking' singer is big, loud, excitable and seemingly up for just about anything. Listen to stories others tell about him (Dierks Bentley, for example ... we'll get there) and you get a sense that Pardi is a little ... okay, crazy.
But crazy is what it takes to move away from California to chase your country music dreams. Few have done it, especially recently. The 'Up All Night' singer and Alan Jackson's chosen Keepin' It Country Tour opener tried to list current stars from his home state. There's him, Gary Allan ...
It’s a big move. You just gotta be diehard, you gotta give it your all, you know.
"Hey, Merle Haggard is still alive," Pardi says, erupting with enthusiasm. "He's still touring."
Getting serious for a moment, he suggests that there may be something to why more don't head east from California. There's always been something holding his friends back when it comes to joining him in Music City. A job, girlfriend, kids or just the security of familiarity.
"I had a drummer I really wanted to move to Nashville with me, and he’s like, 'Naw, I can’t go man.’ He never could pull the trigger," Pardi explains. “It’s a big move. You just gotta be diehard -- you gotta give it your all, you know.”
The Alan Jackson tour was a pretty big surprise for Pardi and his bandmates. Upon moving to Nashville he began paying his dues at Losers and Whiskey Bent before signing with Capitol and releasing 'Write You a Song.' That song peaked just inside the Top 30, but his next single 'Up All Night' went Gold, also becoming his first Top 10 hit. Two more singles have followed, both loud, unmistakable, country jams. The music fits the man. 'Write You a Song' is a genuine album that ended up on Taste of Country's 10 Best Albums of 2014 list.
There's surely more to Pardi than the (ahem) party. He hasn't gone there with regularity yet, although 'That Man' proves he can with the same cruel efficiency he employs to stir up his live audience. He lives hard. He plays hard.
“Brothers Osborne helped me out one night. My guitar just exploded!" Pardi recalls. "Like the strings broke, the battery died and I was like ‘Oh my God!’ TJ from Brothers Osborne walked out and gave me his guitar and I finished the show.”
He jokes he likely won't ask the same favor of Jackson when they hit the road for 19 dates with Brandy Clark. The run begins on Jan. 8 in Ft. Meyers, Fla. and wraps May 17 in Denver, Colo.
“The band didn’t even believe me when I called them," he says of the invite. "It was such a big deal for us and I’m really excited.” Along with Jackson, he calls Dwight Yoakam and George Strait influences.
Jackson surely hired Pardi for his music, as well as his ability to stir up a large crowd. He did the same thing for Bentley last summer. In fact, the "stirring" often spilled over to the afterparty. The 'Drunk on a Plane' singer got his tour openers drones when the tour wrapped, then took bets on whose would be destroyed first.
“The last time I saw Jon Pardi," Bentley told Taste of Country, "we were hitting golf balls into a river and he was lighting his on fire with diesel fuel before he hit them."
Chris Young confirms this: “He’s nuts by the end of the night, every night, on the tour. We assume he’s just gonna get it out at one in the morning and crash it into the side of somebody’s bus.”
Well, the joke's on them. "I haven't even taken it out of the box yet," Pardi revealed during CMA week -- but he admits his reputation may be accurate.
"When I'm on it, I can bring it."
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