AP NEWS

Swindell brings headlining tour to Huntington

March 22, 2018

HUNTINGTON - Country music singer and songwriter Cole Swindell has been in the music business for quite a while, writing hits for other artists and making a dent on the country radio charts on his own. A protege of Luke Bryan, Swindell has now set out on his first-ever headlining tour as a musician, with support from Chris Janson and Lauren Alaina. He brings his show to the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 22.

Tickets for Cole Swindell’s Reason to Drink Tour range from $30 to $50. For tickets or other information, visit www.bigsandyarena.com or call 800-745-3000.

Growing up in Georgia, Swindell went to college as a marketing major and never began to play music in the clubs until he was out of high school.

“I didn’t start playing the bars until I got to college,” Swindell said.

“During my first two years in college, I was undecided and didn’t know what I wanted to study. Finally I chose to study marketing, but about the same time I began playing in the bars and started falling in love with playing music. I was already a huge country music fan, but wasn’t sure I wanted to move to Nashville. A couple years later, we were playing all over my home state, and it was soon time for me to move to Nashville. I’m glad I did study marketing, however, as I think it has helped me with my own career. Music was what I really loved to do, so I guess marketing was my backup plan.”

Swindell grew up in a family that had music in the home.

“My first memory of music around the house was when my dad would break out an old guitar and play it all the time,” Swindell said.

“He had his own band back in the day, when he was in high school, so I guess I got it from him. But he never forced it on me. I just always loved music. I never would have dreamed back then, while listening to Randy Travis and others, that I would get to make music for a living. It is pretty cool how it all turned out.”

The songwriting grind in Nashville is different these days than in the old days, yet it is still the way many artists start in the business.

“Songwriting was someone’s advice to me on how you get started in this business,” Swindell said.

“There are a lot of people that can sing and will be able to sing better than you can, possibly, but songwriting is just an honest and a real life thing to do, so I moved to Nashville to be a songwriter. That led me to getting my first record deal as I was singing on my own demos. I had songs recorded by Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and Thomas Rhett, and finally the people from the record labels that heard my versions of those hits were asking, ‘Why aren’t you singing these songs yourself? Do you not want to be a recording artist as well?’ At that point, I decided that even though I moved here to write songs, I had always wanted to go after a record deal. It was the perfect storm. I had been writing for three-plus years and had all of these songs I was trying to get other people to record, but it turns out that I needed to record them myself.”

Swindell learned about the country music business by working with Bryan and watching his success.

“Luke has been a huge mentor to me,” Swindell said.

“It’s incredible to go from being a fan of somebody’s music to getting to really know them and see what a great person they really are. Luke is at the top of our format and for me to come up selling his T-shirts and then writing songs with him and then writing songs for him, I consider myself very lucky. I’ve also been fortunate enough to watch how Luke handles his life and the situations he’s in and to learn from him.”

As with most artists on the rise, Swindell remembers what it was like to hear one of his own songs on the radio for the first time ever.

“I was actually writing a song at my publishing company, Sony/ATV, and my song ‘Chillin’ It’ was going to be played for the first time on a local radio station,” Swindell said. “I remember one of the guys from the station telling me about what time to listen for it, so we took a break from songwriting. I was writing with Michael Carter and Brandon Kinney that day, and I’ll never forget it. We all went out to the truck and got to hear it on the radio for the first time. It was a special moment considering I grew up listening to country radio and loving music and then was able to hear my dreams coming true on the radio.”

Now, Swindell is thrilled to be able to headline his own tour and bring it to the Tri-State.

“These shows are everything I’ve ever dreamed of and more,” Swindell said.

“It’s not the first time we’ve played in these sized venues, but it’s a little different with me being the last person to step on to the stage. It’s hard getting that through your head the first time you walk through the arenas. But, once you step onstage and realize that the fans bought a ticket to see you perform, and the fact that I have opening acts like Chris Janson and Lauren Alaina, who are both stars in their own right; I’m so fortunate to have them out with me like this. It’s been a fun few weeks so far, and we’re looking forward to the rest of the tour.”