Country star Dustin Lynch on finding creative inspiration in San Diego 


“I really love San Diego, and I’m not just saying that because I’m coming to play there.”

The country singer Dustin Lynch, speaking from his home in Nashville, isn’t kidding. The area made such an impact on the star he wrote a song about Encinitas, “Sun Don’t Go Down on That,” the closing track of his hit 2017 album, “Current Mood.”

“It’s really a place I long to go to. Seeing the coastline, feeling the weather, being able to walk on the beach and watching people surf all captivated me,” he says.

Fortunately for Lynch, he’ll have another chance to pay a visit to the North County community when he’s back in the region for a show at Harrah’s Resort Southern California on Sunday, March 31. It’s part of a tour that’s serving as a victory lap for Lynch. His most recent smash, the feel-good love anthem “Good Girl,” hit the No. 1 on the country charts as 2019 dawned. It’s the latest in a string of chart-toppers since his self-titled debut album in 2012 hit No. 1, effectively minting him as the genre’s latest star.

Since that auspicious bow, his stats are impressive: Over just three albums, he’s garnered a billion — with a b — streams and six No. 1 hits, including “Good Girl.” Its success peaked while Lynch was taking some time off over the holidays. Says Lynch its country radio ubiquity: “A little gas on the fire is always nice to keep me rocking and going full speed.”

With phrasing like that in normal conversation, it’s no wonder Lynch prides himself on his songwriting prowess as much as his vocal talents or performance know-how.

“It all goes back years ago to open mic nights in Nashville and learning from everyone who came through the Bluebird Cafe,” he says of the famed Nashville venue where as a teenager he first began to forge his career, eventually ignoring his degree in biology from Nashville’s Lipscomb University to focus on music full time.

“I moved to town to learn how to write songs, so it was always a dream I had.”

When it comes to concocting “Good Girl,” its popularity was made all the more special considering it was the first song Lynch had a writing credit on to nab that coveted top spot on the charts.

“Early on, while we were working on it, I remember jumping up and down and telling my co-writers to pick out their boats, because this will song will help us all buy one,” he explains with a laugh. “To have a gut feeling about something like that before it was completed was exciting, but also pretty damn scary. You don’t want to count the chickens before they hatch. There are a whole lot of songs written every day and a very, very small percentage of them ever get recorded and released. Even fewer hit No. 1.”

The same can be said for country music acts, with Nashville bursting at the seams with young talent pining for their shot at glory. It only was a decade ago, after all, when Lynch was just another fresh face who once waited in line to get Trace Adkins’ autograph and had a crush on Reba McEntire. So it was only fitting this past September that Adkins himself would invite Lynch to become a member of the iconic Grand Ole Opry, and for McEntire to induct him to boot.

“Trace was the first country artist I ever shook hands with in my life, and Reba has been an inspiration for me for forever,” he says. “It’s funny — I’ll have random moments where I’ll think about my career and milestones and I’ll have to remind myself: Holy crap, I’m a member of the Grand Ole Opry! It still doesn’t feel real to me.”

Lynch has another reason to be excited: a new EP. Dubbed “Ridin’ Roads” and released earlier this month, it consists of three fresh songs, including the eponymous title track, and expands on the laidback and heartfelt themes that made him a star in the first place. Of course, he also has that Harrah’s show on the horizon as well.

“I’m excited to see our fans, but there’s something special about playing for new folks as well. That’s always a goal for us.”

Dustin Lynch

When: 8 p.m. Sunday, March 31

Where: Harrah’s Resort Southern California, 777 Harrah’s Rincon Way, Valley Center

Tickets: $49