National recording artist coming to Seymour

[email protected]

The second in a series of national acts will be performing Saturday night at Jackson Live and Event Center in Seymour.

T. Graham Brown has 15 studio albums and has charted more than 35 singles on Billboard, Cash Box and Gospel charts since 1986. Some of his hits include “Hell and High Water,” “Don’t Go To Strangers” and “Darlene.”

He was the face and voice of the popular Taco Bell Run for the Border campaign for four years. He currently hosts “Live Wire” on Sirius XM’s Prime Country and has fun doing some acting from time to time. He also just finished a western.

It has been the goal of Jackson Live owners Rodney and Amanda Burton to bring national recording artists to the area since their venue opened last summer.

That goal was realized last month when McBride and the Ride performed at their 8,700-square-foot 500-seat venue at 1849 First Ave.

“It was a great show, and they took the time to meet and greet fans afterward,” Rodney said. “People don’t realize what a great opportunity this is to see national recording artists up close and personal.”

Now, the Burtons are happy to bring Brown to their stage.

Other acts in the series this year include Exile, Andy Griggs, Darryl Worley, Doug Stone, Terry McBride and Billy Dean.

“T. Graham Brown is a funny guy and really talented, and we’re super excited to have him here,” Rodney said.

Ashley Barron will be open the show at 7 p.m. Saturday. She embraces the independent and powerful countrywoman aura in her writing and music, according to ashleybarronofficial.com.

Influenced by the country greats such as Johnny Cash and other modern stars like Miranda Lambert, Barron now incorporates her life experiences and stories into her writing, creating passionate, homegrown and relatable music.

Through Friday, tickets for the show will be buy one, get one free, so $20 each. Add $10 if you want to sit in the first two rows, subject to availability. Tickets at the door will be $40.

Burton said several local radio stations, including 92.7 WXKU, 101.5 WKKG and 105.3 WMPI, are giving away tickets to the show.

T. Graham Brown

Anthony Graham Brown, known professionally as T. Graham Brown, was born in Athens, Georgia, on Oct. 30, 1954.

Growing up, being a musician never entered his mind because his dream was to be a baseball player.

“I went to college at the University of Georgia and was on the baseball team but spent a lot of time on the bench,” Brown said. “I’d had an offer to sing at a local Holiday Inn there in Athens, and the guy had offered to pay me money even though I had never sung professionally.”

Brown and his friend, Dirk Howell, were singing together at a party one night when another friend who worked at Holiday Inn suggested they audition for a job in the lounge.

“So I went to baseball practice that afternoon and told my coach that I was sitting on the bench all the time and wasn’t enjoying it and that I’d had an offer to sing,” he said. “I asked the coach if he thought I should play baseball or sing, and the coach said I should probably go sing.”

Brown and his friend got the job at the hotel lounge and kept it all the way through college, performing as Dirk and Tony.

Following graduation, Brown wanted to add a band and go on tour, but Howell had other career plans, so the two amicably parted ways.

Pursuing a music career, Brown formed a hardcore country band, Reo Diamond, but soon learned the financial hardships of touring in a band without a recording contract.

Brown met his future wife, Sheila, at a Dirk and Tony concert at the University of Georgia and then saw her again a few years later when she came to a Reo Diamond concert. They were married Nov. 30, 1980.

“She was studying to be a veterinarian and came home to the farm one day and suggested we move to Nashville after she finished her master’s work,” he said. “If it didn’t work out, she said we could move back to Georgia.”

Brown said he was nervous to make the move, but Sheila was all for it because if they didn’t go, she was afraid he would always be second-guessing himself for the rest of his life, wondering “What if?”

“So we just picked up and left for Nashville in 1982 and didn’t know anybody or anything about how it worked,” he said. “We just kind of figured it out, and it was an adventure.”

Initially, Brown sang songwriter demos to get some experience, and then Capitol Records heard his voice.

“I signed with them and put a single out around 1984 or 1985 that went to about 39 on the Top 40,” he said. “Then we put out a second single, ‘I Tell It Like It Used To Be,’ and that was a big hit, and then we put out an album.”

Brown came along in the mid-1980s, which was an exciting time in country music with a crop of rising talent such as Randy Travis, The Judds, George Strait and more.

“I got to work and tour with what I call the ‘one-name people,’ like Willie and Waylon, Merle, George and Tammy, Conway and Loretta, Kenny and Dolly and all of those folks,” he said.

Brown said he did about 300 shows with Kenny Rogers when he was “the biggest thing on the planet.”

“We played really big places, so I got thrown into the huge arenas right off the bat that I had no experience in but figured it out pretty quick,” Brown said.

Keith Whitley was one of Brown’s best friends back then, and they were like brothers.

“We were big drinking buddies, and you know he died of alcohol poisoning, and it got to where it was a problem with me,” He said. “But thank God almighty and the love of Sheila Brown, I was finally able to get straightened out.”

His song “Wine into Water” is about his struggles with alcoholism. The song was on his first gospel album, “Forever Changed,” which received a Grammy nomination in 2014.

When COVID-19 shut things down last year, Brown used that time to make an acoustic album of his greatest hits called “Bare Bones,” which will be available for streaming Oct. 9.

“I’m hoping to start on another album within the next six months, which will be a hymns record,” he said. “I’m looking forward to that.”

Currently, he is finishing a soul tribute album containing soul hits from the 1960s.

“I have a bunch of friends that are going to be on that, like Wynonna, and the other day, I went to Texas and recorded Tanya Tucker,” Brown said. “Dwight Yoakam’s on it, Sammy Hagar and a lot of other friends that’ll sing duets with me.”

He said it feels great to be back out on the road again after shows were canceled last year.

“It wasn’t a good financial year, but we made it through,” he said. “People are really happy to come out to the shows and are enjoying live music again.”

Brown will be 67 in a couple of months, so he and his five-member band pick and choose the shows they want to do. They perform on weekends and do around eight shows a month.

“We’re having a good time right now and are really enjoying it and having fun,” he said. “I’m probably having more fun now than I did then because things were hectic.”

Brown said their son is grown and married, so Sheila travels with the band all of the time now.

“She takes care of our merchandise and works hard at four or five different jobs, and she’s always going,” Brown said. “We just don’t work as hard as we used to, and thank goodness we don’t have to.”

At the end of Brown’s shows, he tells the audience about his struggles with alcohol and drugs and stresses the importance of mental health.

“I’m bipolar, and I want them to know they don’t have to live that way because there are medicines now if they’ll go to the doctor so they could live a normal life,” he said.

Brown and his wife are part of a church building ministry, but their personal ministry is to help people get sober and stay sober.

“We’re just trying to do what we think God wants us to do,” he said. “I want people to know God loves them and God bless the U.S.A.”

As for Saturday night’s concert, Brown said the audience will hear the hits they’re expecting to hear, plus a few gospel songs and who knows what else.

“I guess I want to keep doing this as long as Tony Bennett did, and he just retired at 95,” Brown said. “At least a few more years anyway.”