Easton Corbin is a road dog. Reached by phone last week on his way to another date in Roscoe, Texas, the country singer/songwriter wasn’t sure where exactly he was, but he sure knew where he was going.
“I know it’s in west Texas, I know it’s way out there and I know it’s a long drive,” he said.
Corbin has been a nonstop traveler since making one of country music’s grandest entrances in 2009, when both his debut and follow-up singles, “A Little More Country Than That,” and “Roll With It,” respectively, hit number one on the U.S. country charts.
Corbin, who is single, celebrated his 35th birthday on April 12.
“I’ve been very blessed and I’m happy to be here,” he said of the milestone. “It’s better than the alternative, as they say.”
Corbin and his six-piece band will land at the Grand Sierra Resort’s Grand Theatre at 8 p.m. May 13.
Corbin was born in Trenton, Florida. He was raised on his grandparents’ farm, where he was steeped in old-school country music and classic television shows like “Hee Haw,” which was hosted by country legends Buck Owens and Roy Clark and was on the air from 1969 to 1992.
He began taking guitar lessons as a teenager from local musician Pee Wee Melton at Dixie Music Center in nearby Old Town, Florida. What follows is a classic tale of showbiz discovery, though perhaps it’s more of a Hollywood, Florida version: After gaining proficiency on guitar, Corbin joined a local band. The group played a local festival and opened for 1980s stars Janie Fricke and Mel McDaniel. With music still more of a hobby than a career, Corbin enrolled at the University of Florida’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, eventually earning a degree in agribusiness.
In 2005, Corbin dropped by the 1st Street Music in Lake City, Florida and entered a contest to play at the Annual Suwannee River Jam. After hearing Corbin’s raw talent, the store’s manager, Andy Temple, contacted friend and songwriter Reese Wilson in Nashville, Tennessee. Wilson too was impressed, and shortly thereafter he and Temple began working with Corbin on a set of demos, as well as teaching the young singer the business side of things, including how to craft press releases and secure showcases.
Corbin left Florida and moved to Nashville in late 2006, where he worked at a hardware store by day and pursued music at night, gigging at local writer’s nights. Corbin also got married in 2006, but has since divorced. Later that year, Temple and Wilson introduced Corbin to producer Steve Davis. Temple, Wilson and Davis teamed up to work with Corbin, which produced a now collector’s item demo CD in 2008. Only a few copies of the collection exist. The set includes six tracks,”All About You,” “I Ain’t A Highway,” “Missin’ You,” “Gettin,’ Got, Good,” “Miracles Happen” and a cover of Hank Williams, Jr’s “Eleven Roses.”
The work paid off. In 2009, Corbin signed to Universal Music Group’s Mercury Nashville label. His debut, “A Little More Country than That,” written by Rory Lee Feek, Don Poythress and Wynn Varble, was released in July. The single eventually climbed to Number One in April 2010. His second single, “Roll With It,” also went to No. 1 in October of 2010.
Since the initial splash, Corbin has released two more albums, “All Over the Road” in 2012, followed by 2015’s “About to Get Real.” Corbin said he hopes his as of yet untitled new record will be released in the fall.
Corbin has tracked six songs for the new album. They are unmixed at this point. “A Girl Like You,” the lead single, was released in January. The next set of songs will be recorded in the next month or so, he said: “We’ve been working real hard on that in between shows. It sure is tough to find the time sometimes, but we’ve been doing it.”
Corbin’s current performance schedule has taken on a bit of a Bob Dylan “Never-ending Tour” vibe.
“We’re all over the place,” he said. “It really never stops, honestly. But, of course, I love it. I like the road. If I’m off more than about three or four days, I get kinda antsy and I need to get back out.”
And while the road may be a grind for other artists, Corbin said he’s well suited for the musical vagabond life.
“I love playing in front of a live audience and hearing their reaction,” he said. “That’s one of my favorite things.”
A man and his guitar
Corbin’s songwriting process always starts on an acoustic guitar. And like many country artists, Corbin finds it helpful to write with others.
“I like to collaborate,” he said. “As far as inspiration, it comes from all over. There’s no one place that it comes from. It’s all different ways. I might get an idea just through talking and having a conversation. You just never know.”
Corbin’s wide musical tastes may surprise some.
“I like all types of music,” he said. “Shoot, man, I like rock, the Rolling Stones and stuff like that. I like Bruno Mars. But my main frame, my hero, is Merle Haggard.”
Asked about new artists, Corbin had one in particular he wanted to mention.
“I like William Michael Morgan. He’s a new cat I think people should give a listen to.”
Corbin’s hopes for his upcoming Reno show were simple: “We just want ’em to come out and have a good time,” he said. “We’re looking forward to it.”