The gettin’ has gotten more than good this month for Corey Smith, who will strap on his guitar to perform at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Carolina Country Music Fest in Myrtle Beach.
Calling Wednesday morning after a fishing outing, the singer-songwriter in country, rock and blues spoke of the joys June will bring. He will play June 13 at the CMA Fest in Nashville, Tenn., as well as the Grand Ole Opry on June 23, the day Sugar Hill Records releases his 10th CD, “While the Gettin’ Is Good.” The video for “Feet Wet,” the first single from the 12-song album, also will premiere next week.
Smith credits Keith Stegall, a producer who has worked with country titans such as Charley Pride, George Strait, Randy Travis, Steve Wariner, and fellow Georgia natives Alan Jackson and the Zac Brown Band, for guidance and a road turn because it had been “three to four years since I put out a full-blown studio album.”
“I always wanted to make a record in a more traditional way,” said Smith, who found himself hitting “a glass ceiling” in self-production and wanting someone “to work with ways to teach me” some new directions to go.
Two times, he said, he had rounded up “a bunch of tracks” for this next album in various “incarnations” with about 20 songs, but it didn’t shape up the way he wanted. Meeting Stegall, though, “I knew almost immediately he was the right guy, and we spoke the same language.”
Smith said he chose the “Gettin’ ” CD title for two reasons, mainly because “I don’t know if I’ll ever have the opportunity again to make this album, and have the resources.”
Then, landing with Sugar Hill, with its roster of releases by artists including moe., Nickel Creek, Dolly Parton, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Doc Watson, and Lee Ann Womack, Smith said the label, based in the Volunteer State, serves “well-respected artists who haven’t immersed themselves in the mainstream.”
“One of my favorites is Darrell Scott,” Smith said lauding his “Family Tree” CD.
Smith said having finished the “Gettin’ ” album that trying to find a home for it was really tough, because “every major label had passed on it.” However, linking up with Sugar Hill, perseverance paid off, especially with the company’s accent on “looking for good music.”
Fest invitation ‘flattering’The native of Jefferson, Ga., near Athens, found the invitation to entertain at the Carolina Country Music Fest “a great fit” and “really flattering,” especially on a day’s slate headlined by Eric Church.
The timing also was perfect, Smith said, because he’s honored to “be no stranger to South Carolina and Myrtle Beach,” spoke especially after years of regular tour stops at House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach, including several New Year’s eves.
Smith also salutes fans for continued support and turnout in his 10 years of recording and almost constant concert circuit.
He said playing a festival such as the event this weekend, with 45 to 60 minutes on stage, lets him “enjoy the change of pace,” because besides fans so kind to cheer him on, others in the audience not familiar with me get their first chance to listen to my music.”
So, performing for this kind of crowd, Smith said, it presents “a balancing act” between songs the longtime fans want to hear, and new material and “songs to get other people’s attention.”
As a fan himself attending concerts, for “a great learning experience” in shaping his own shows, Smith understands every artist wanting to play his or her latest works, but the right balance with hits for which one is known wins across the board, as when “I saw James Taylor this year.”
Smith said a little time off from the touring regimen has been welcome of late, especially to hang out with his wife and both sons, ages 10 and 8, as summer begins.
“It’s been about 10 years now,” Smith said of his path to succeed in the music business. “When I started, I thought that if I’m able to do this for 10 years, it’s amazing.”
Anyone who wants to see more of Smith in concert, or cannot catch him this weekend, has another chance soon. He’ll play House of Blues, in Barefoot Landing again, at 9 p.m. July 25.
If you go
What | Carolina Country Music Fest
Benefiting | A plan for Savannah’s Playground for special needs children, named after 19-year-old, Myrtle Beach native Savannah Thompson, who copes with Williams Syndrome, which causes such conditons as developmental delays and heart defects. About $650,000 has been raised toward a $1.5 million goal, with a preliminary park concept including a fitness trail, musical park, interactive playground, swing sets, a pond overlook, an early childhood playground, school-age playground, and future water park.
When | Thursday-Sunday
Where | Myrtle Beach’s Ocean Boulevard, between Eighth and Ninth avenues North, at the site of the former Myrtle Beach Pavilion, with artists alternating between two stages.
Scheduled performers |
▪ Thursday – “Kickoff Party” concert, with Dee Jay Silver at 6 p.m., Darrell Harwood 6:30 p.m., Early Ray 8 p.m., and Sam Hunt 10 p.m.
▪ Friday – Dirty Grass Soul 1:30 p.m., Outshyne 2 p.m., Kuntry Boys 3 p.m., Davisson Brothers Band 3:30 p.m., Tim Cifers 4:30 p.m., Georgia Satellites 5 p.m., John King 6 p.m., Rodney Atkins 6:30 p.m., Cole Swindell 8 p.m., and Rascal Flatts 10 p.m.
▪ Saturday – Gal Friday 12:30 p.m., Brandon Bailey 1:30 p.m., Trent Tomlinson 2 p.m., Taylor Centers 3 p.m., Brooke Eden 3:30 p.m., Ricky Young 4:30 p.m., Corey Smith 5 p.m., Brian Davis 6 p.m., Colt Ford 6:30 p.m., Big (Kenny Alphin) & (John) Rich 8 p.m., and Eric Church 10 p.m.
▪ Sunday – Mikele Buck 1:30 p.m., Mo Pitney 2 p.m., Morgan’s Road 3 p.m., Marshall Tucker Band 3:30 p.m., Margaret Valentine 4:30 p.m., Kellie Pickler 5 p.m., Rainey Qualley 6 p.m., David Nail 6:30 p.m., Hunter Hayes 8 p.m., and Lady Antebellum 10 p.m.
How much | Including processing fees:
▪ Kickoff party with Sam Hunt on June 4 – $42.14. Also, for Myrtle Beach residents with ID, $19 (plus fees), available from Carolina Country Bar, 300 Ninth Ave. N., Myrtle Beach.
▪ Single-day tickets for Friday, Saturday or Sunday – $101.22 general admission.
▪ Two-day passes for Friday-Saturday or Saturday-Sunday – $168.74 general.
▪ Three-day passes for Friday-Sunday – $210.94 general admission, $369.19 “Main Stage VIP,” or $1,347.92 “Super VIP.” Also: $159 rate (plus fees) available for government employees, and current and retired military, police and rescue personnel.
▪ For group rates with 20 or more people, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
▪ Three-day camping package at Lakewood Camping Resort, 5901 S. Kings Highway, about a mile south of Myrtle Beach city line, and two general admission concert passes, for June 5-7 – $626.92.
▪ Optional add-on for one flight on zip line, nearby at Myrtle Beach Adrenaline Adventures for time and festival day to be selected, $43.18.
Information | www.ccmf.com
Also | Corey Smith returns for a concert, with Bryson Jennings opening, at 9 p.m. July 25 to House of Blues, in Barefoot Landing, on U.S. 17 in North Myrtle Beach, for $24.50 general admission. 272-3000 or www.hob.com/myrtlebeach, and coreysmith.com.