Concert Preview: The Pueblo Chieftain

'Front porch stomp'
Atkins brings down-home energy to live shows

August 21, 2009 12:06 am

To an audience, it may be a stage. For Rodney Atkins, it's a massive front porch.

"I learned to play guitar by sitting on the front porch with my friends and we'd play anything," Atkins said by phone earlier this week from his home in Tennessee. "It all had that ‘front porch stomp’ vibe to it."

The country star will open the 2009 concert series at the Colorado State Fair, performing after the PRCA Dodge Rodeo Aug. 28. Tickets are $20.

In less than a decade on the national music scene, Atkins has had five No. 1 songs on the Billboard country charts: "If You're Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)," "Watching You," "These Are My People," "Cleaning This Gun (Come on in Boy)” and "It's America."

The latter is the title song from his new CD; another single, "15 Minutes," is now headed up the chart. Atkins just started a headlining tour that will focus on state fairs throughout the country.

"It's kinda cool when you're playing fairs because you know it's going to be a lot of families," he said.

Family is the priority for Atkins. His wife, son and two stepdaughters come on tour with him when possible and he figured out another way to maximize his time at home: He created a tiny studio next to the kitchen, where he can record vocals.

"That's working out better and better," he said. "Lots of acts I run into will be on the road, pop into a studio, do vocals and leave. You have no input that way. This gives me more ownership . . . I'm not an engineer or anything, but it really frees you up and it's made me learn a lot. It's made me a better singer."

The studio is nearly soundproof, he said, but occasionally he'll have to turn off the home air conditioning or ask everyone nearby to be quiet.

When he does hit the road, Atkins pours everything into his live performances. He grew up on his parents' music - "Willie (Nelson), Glen Campbell, all the Charlies (Pride, Rich, Daniels)” - but also a heap of rock 'n' roll, so don't expect him to stand still on stage.

"I love the energy," he said. "I want to get to that place in a live show of just putting it all out, like Garth Brooks or Springsteen."

When he's off the stage, it's a good bet Atkins will be searching for a place to fish. In fact, he recalled a visit to a spring-fed pond in Monte Vista as one of his favorite stops.

"You find out about those secret little ponds that nobody knows about," he said. "All summer my wife and little boy came out with me and we always try to find one somewhere."

Fishing and front porches - for Atkins, home is always nearby.

            WHO: Rodney Atkins
            WHEN: Aug. 28, following the PRCA Dodge Rodeo
            WHERE: Budweiser Rodeo Arena, Colorado State Fair
            TICKETS: $20 through Ticketmaster or the Fair box office