Performing at the Grand Ole Opry is a dream come true for any country musician.
In Craig Campbell’s case, that dream has come true — 50 times. On Oct. 20, he celebrated his 50th performance on the legendary Nashville stage.
“It’s one of those things growing up that you dream about — it’s definitely one of things on my bucket list,” Campbell said by phone from his home in Nashville, where he lives with his wife, Mindy, and two daughters, Preslee and Kinni Rose. “The 50th was pretty awesome, but at the same time, being on that stage was just as special for my 50th as it was for my first. It’s an honor to be there, and that’s something that will always stay with me.”
Campbell, whose 2010 single Family Man reached No. 14 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, has a lot to be thankful for these days. He’s working on his third studio album, featuring his critically acclaimed single Outskirts of Heaven. He just wrapped up a successful tour with Luke Bryan, joining the country star on his Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day Tour.
“I used to be in Luke’s band,” Campbell, 38, said. “I was his piano player, so it’s come full circle.”
He recently answered some questions about his music and his upcoming concert at Moonshine Flats.
You just finished touring with Luke Bryan — now you’re back on the road. Did you get any break?
CAMPBELL: October was kinda light for us. We took some time to soak everything in and regroup and work on some music in town. And then we reload and hit the ground running for my tour.
What did you do while you were on your short break?
I love just being home and being home with my girls. I love being a dad to two great girls. I enjoy just spending time with them.
Besides the sheer number of people, what’s the big difference for you between arena tours and a tour with intimate venues?
They all have their specialness, if that’s even a word. I love going out and playing to big crowds and many people. But I also love the feel and vibe of a smaller venue — being able to talk about the songs, why I recorded them, why I wrote them.
Where you are now career-wise, is it where you envisioned yourself being when you first started?
I’m definitely blessed to be in country music. I haven’t had a No. 1 song yet, and I’ve watched those award shows and haven’t won male vocalist or song of the year. So those things are still on the radar. But I’m truly blessed to be in the mix.
Talk about your early days — what was driving you?
Music is the only thing I felt I was good at. When I moved to Nashville, I didn’t really have a Plan B, so I had to make this work.
Do you remember hearing your song for the first time on the radio?
Yes! We were driving from Atlanta to Chattanooga, and we were in an area where we could get both the Atlanta and Chattanooga stations. We switched to the Chattanooga station, and a few minutes after switching over, “Family Man” came on. I thought, ‘Hey, I’ve heard this song before.’ And then it hit me: ‘This is my song, and it’s on the radio!’ We turned it up and sang along like a bunch of idiots.
You’ve always been musically inclined — can you talk about growing up in Lyons, Ga., and how that shaped you as a musician?
On my mother’s side of the family, we had some DNA dipped in the bowl of musical stew. But nobody wanted to make a career out of it other than me. I pretty much played piano for my church till I graduated high school. Playing for my church, singing … I just knew I felt like I was good at it.
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from one of your concerts?
My goal is first and foremost, I want them to walk away thinking, ‘That was awesome!’ I wanna play a few songs that touch them. But the bottom line is, people wanna have a good time. That’s my goal: to make sure everybody has a great time.
When: Friday, Nov. 10. Doors open: 8 p.m. Showtime: 10 p.m.
Where: Moonshine Flats, 344 Seventh Ave., downtown San Diego
Tickets: $10 pre-sale, $15 at the door