Music News & Reviews

Billy Currington is country with lots of other musical influences

Put Billy Currington’s entire catalog on shuffle mode, and it’s easy to forget all of the songs are by the same artist.

Currington blends a traditional country sound with the pop flavor that is prevalent within the genre. He adds rhythm and blues, some hip-hop beats and an occasional gospel feel to create a distinct sound that follows one of Currington’s greatest influences.

“Going back to Kenny Rogers, I’m a big fan of his because of how versatile he was,” the 43-year- old Currington said in a phone interview this week. “He could take a song like ‘The Gambler’ or ‘Coward of the County’ and make it so traditional, and it sounds so country.

“But then his next single would be a song like ‘Lady,’ and it would be so pop-sounding and so non-country. It works every time. I didn’t want to be just like him, but I wanted to be a lot like him. The fact that I’ve been able to do something similar is for sure a blessing.”

Currington, whose hits include “People Are Crazy” and “Pretty Good at Drinkin’ Beer,” headlines the Wingnuts’ second Community Benefit Concert on Saturday at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Also performing are Chris Janson, Bryson Michael Band and the Adam Capps Band.

Currington’s latest hit is “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” from his 2016’s “Summer Forever,” his sixth album. It reached No. 1 on the U.S. Country Airplay chart and No. 3 on the U.S. Hot Country chart, his 10th song to reach No. 1 on at least one of those lists.

The song was the only one on “Summer Forever” co-written by Currington, who performs material on the album from the likes of Cole Swindell, Josh Osborne and Jaren Johnston from the Cadillac Three.

Currington has co-written several hits, such as the Grammy-nominated “People Are Crazy” and “How Country Boys Roll,” but has had some given to him from the likes of Luke Bryan and Sam Hunt.

“When you’re a writer on the song that you’re singing every night, you share in all those feelings that you had about some ex-lover or some negative or positive experience that you had in life,” Currington said. “Just singing that every night, you believe it yourself because you feel it. There’s no denying that it came from inside.”

On “It Don’t Hurt,” Currington starts by shouting “Hey!” a few times, resembling the popular 2012 “Ho Hey” song by the Lumineers. Elsewhere in his catalog he references Smokey Robinson on “Hallelujah” and shifts between a steel-guitar sound like Alan Jackson’s and electric guitar with shades of Kenny Chesney.

Currington’s wide-ranging voice helps him pull of multiple styles and is helping him expand even more. He has begun recording songs in Los Angeles that stretch his abilities into literal unheard-of levels.

“Not that they’ve ever seen the light of day, mainly because I’m on a country music label,” Currington said. “I’ve written with guys – I’m not really a rapper, but all the beats that they use, the lyrics that we’ve come up with for those beats, it’s totally not country, but it works.

“I really think these songs, once we’re completely finished with them, you’ll listen to them and say, ‘This dude, what was he thinking?’”

Currington’s live show can be just as non-conforming, but always with high energy. His Wichita stop is about a month into his current tour and follows dates in Houston and Oklahoma City.

“Just the music that we play is a great, energetic, fun sound,” Currington said. “People seem to stay standing the whole show and always, with dancing or whatever, they’re moving. I always look out and see everybody moving. We like to see that, and that seems to happen a lot at all of our shows.”

Wingnuts Community Benefit Concert

When: Gates open 4:30 p.m. Saturday, concert begins at 5 p.m.

Where: Lawrence-Dumont Stadium

Who: Billy Currington, Chris Janson, Adam Capps Band, Bryson Michael and the Free Nation