Craig Campbell may be considered a new face in country music thanks to smash hits, “Family Man” and “Fish” but the Georgia native had his first break into Nashville’s music scene when he became Tracy Byrd’s keyboard player, touring mid-level venues across America. Campbell then toured as country superstar Luke Bryan’s keyboard player and it was Bryan who pushed Campbell to write his own songs and perform. Campbell later signed to Bigger Picture Group and the rest is history. Craig will be performing on the Briggs and Stratton Big Backyard Stage at Summerfest,Thursday, July 5th at 8pm. I caught up with the singer before an afternoon Harley ride to talk about current projects, touring, and his upcoming performance at Summerfest.
Right now you are working on your second album. Are you using the same producer you used on your self-titled debut?
Yes, we’re using Keith Stegall again. He’s my hero. I don’t know if I’d want to make another record without him.
What is the status of the album process right now? Are you still tracking?
We haven’t gone into the studio yet but we are scheduled for July 17th. We’ll be going in to record five new songs and hopefully that will get the ball rolling so we can have a brand new song on the radio in August.
Do you have any idea what song you are leaning towards right now or are you just going to wait?
I have found that it’s kind of bad luck to predict what song is going to be released next. With my first record I’d get excited about a song and I would call my co-writers and say, ‘Hey y’all this is going to be the next single’ and then something would come up and it would get in that way of that. We have a couple songs in mind and we’re going to see how they turn out.
Thursday you will be playing Summerfest in Milwaukee. You’re technically opening for Hunter Hayes who has a completely different country music fan base than you. I don’t think you’ve ever played Summerfest before, is that correct?
I don’t know that I have as a singer. I used to play piano for Tracy Byrd and I think I played there with him in 2005, I think. I’m not sure but it seems like the festival is ringing a bell with me.
I’m curious, are you big into social media? To me it seems like even a few years ago, country music artists were not using these tools to the fullest extent. Now, I would go as far to say they use social media more so than artists in other popular genres of music.
I try to be. I definitely try to engage my fans as much as I can. I try really hard to make it personal between me and the folks that that dig my music and come to the shows.
On your website you have the Craig CAM which gives weekly updates on your website. Did someone suggest you do this or did you come up with the idea on your own?
I used to play piano for Luke Bryan as well and we’ve stayed really good friends over the past couple of years. I noticed he was putting out a weekly LBTV (Luke Bryan TV) webisode kind of thing and I just thought that was the coolest thing ever. So, when I started doing it myself I thought we should at least do a weekly video so people can stay in touch and see what is going on behind the scenes. We’ve gotten a really good response off it.
Other than recording this summer will you be touring and doing the country music festival circuits or will you be focusing simply on the record?
We’re going to continue what we’re doing and play shows, honky tonks, and festivals. When we release the new song in August, there comes radio promotion and networking. We’ll be getting out and plugging the song and trying to have it played on radio. I’m going to be very busy this fall.
See Craig Campbell perform songs off his self titled album at 8pm on Thursday, July 5th at Summerfest.
By - Arika Kaosa