Sara Evans: Back on the road, and it’s a family affair


There’s a new guy in country singer Sara Evans’ band, and she’s learned a thing or two from him.

“He’s a senior in high school and loves Led Zeppelin,” she says by phone from her home in Birmingham, Ala. “I knew about Led Zeppelin, but I guess I didn’t know everything about Led Zeppelin and their music.”

The new guy? Her 18-year-old son Avery, her eldest.

“He’s just phenomenal,” Evans says, spoken like a proud mama. “He’s been accepted to Belmont University and Berklee. He’s just so great, and I’m absolutely ecstatic he’s joined the band. He rides in the band bus. He’s just one of the guys.”

Her son Avery wasn’t even born yet when Evans’ ballad “No Place That Far” climbed to the top of the charts, making it her first No. 1 country single. It spent 30 weeks on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts before finally peaking on March 6, 1999. Her ascent continued with more No. 1 hits, including 2000’s “Born to Fly,” 2004’s “Suds in the Bucket,” 2005’s “A Real Fine Place to Start” and 2010’s “A Little Bit Stronger.”

Now, the 47-year-old has a new album, “Words,” her eighth one. And having just wrapped up the CMT Next Women of Country All the Love Tour, she’s back on the road on her own tour — one that brings her to Sycuan Casino in El Cajon on Tuesday, April 24. Her Northern California dates — in Campbell, Vacaville and San Ramon — are all either sold out or close to selling out.

Twenty-seven years after she moved to Nashville to pursue her country-music dreams, Evans says this time, it’s different.

“When I first started, it was all about the business — getting ahead and getting on radio,” she says. “Now, country stations don’t play a lot of women artists — they just want the next party song.”

She’s different, too.

“I’m a much better singer and performer than I was back then,” she admits. “I’ve come to appreciate the music more. And to be honest, with Avery in the band, I’ve been re-inspired musically. I’m seeing and hearing everything through his eyes and ears. I mean, Led Zeppelin! I had no idea how complex that genre is, so it’s great to really focus on the music.”

And the audiences?

“Oh, they’re different, too,” she says. “They’re bigger, and they’re more appreciative of us and our music.”

“A Little Bit Stronger” — from the album “Stronger” and co-written by Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum — is the last track on her new album, “Words.” And it was put there for a reason: it means something, something special, to her fans.

“It’s this huge breakup song,” she says, “and every night, people just cry and cry, and tons of them have told me how much it helped them.”

Touring’s not easy, Evans admits, and some days, “I just need a day to crash — thank goodness for Apple TV so I can watch my shows!” What makes those exhausting days worthwhile, though, is she’s not doing it alone.

“This tour’s very much a family affair,” says Evans, who married her second husband, Birmingham radio personality Jay Barker, in 2008. “My son’s on the road with us. My brother, my sister, my sister-in-law … . My kids grew up on the road. My daughters (Audrey and Olivia) travel with us, too.” Olivia has even joined her mother on stage for encores.

The roles of mom and musician may keep her pretty busy, but Evans relishes another role nowadays: lifestyle blogger. She has launched “A Real Fine Place,” where she talks about everything from food and travel to fashion and health.

Where does she find the energy and the time?

“I have a lot of energy and a really strong work ethic,” she says. “I grew up on a farm in Missouri and farmers work non-stop and year-round. Plus, I’m really, really organized!”

Those Missouri roots — she was born in Booneville and grew up on a farm nearby in New Franklin — gave her a strong foundation musically, and she hasn’t veered much from it.

“Every year, as you get older, you kinda get drawn back to your roots,” she says, “and I’m no different. I was just talking to my brother about this yesterday. I’m really into the idea of going back to bluegrass and real Americana … that’s what we were raised on. Not just musically but as a person, it’s important for me to stay true to who I am.”

Musical bucket list?

John Mayer! I’m obsessed with John Mayer. I love his music. If you go deep into his music, there’s just so much there. ‘Born and Raised’ is one of my top three favorite albums of all time. It’s just amazing. I love everything about him: his voice, his lyrics.”

Sara Evans

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 24

Where: Sycuan Casino, 5469 Casino Way, El Cajon

Tickets: $69-$79 (21 and up only)


Twitter: @outdoorlivingsd