One good hit deserves another

Dustin Lynch discusses his expanding career in country

By L. Kent Wolgamott

Photo: Dustin Lynch will play Thursday, Dec. 17 at Bogarts in Cincinnati

Dustin Lynch draws on everything from Incubus to Mutemath to hip-hop in his music. But country music’s “new hat” says he will never stray far from his primary influences.

“Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson and George Strait: they’re my three guys,” Lynch says in a recent phone interview. “As far as guys out there today, it’s [Tim] McGraw and [Kenny] Chesney and Luke Bryan, especially Bryan. It took him a couple albums to get traction and then he exploded.”

And that’s the route Lynch is following.

His self-titled debut album came out in 2012, generated a No. 2 hit with “Cowboys & Angels” and spent some time at the top of the country charts.

Released in January 2012, “Cowboys and Angels” was Lynch’s first single, and his big breakthrough. It powered his self-titled debut album to No. 1. That in turn landed Lynch the much-sought-after opening spot on Keith Urban’s “Light the Fuse” 2013 tour.  Lynch got a half-hour in front of Urban’s fans each night.

“The Keith Urban show was all about getting out there and saying to people, ‘This is who I am, hope you like the songs,’” Lynch says. “That tour was life-changing for me. I forever owe Keith for that.”

Lynch is now on a headlining tour, having played the last currently scheduled date of a tour with Bryan this summer and early fall. And Lynch has more musical ammunition to deploy.

Last year, he released Where It’s At, the album and a single of the same title. The catchy romantic mid-tempo number raced up Billboard magazine’s Hot Country Airplay chart in September 2014 and became Lynch’s first No. 1 record. A follow-up single, “Hell of a Night,” followed suit, topping the Country Airplay chart.

“It’s incredible,” he says of having a chart-topper. “It’s an amazing feeling and a dream come true … We had a great run with ‘Cowboys and Angels.’ It got all the way to number two. To get to No. 2 and not go to No. 1 was kind of disappointing, but that makes this that much sweeter.”

The song “Where It’s At” hit the top of the singles chart the same week the album debuted at No. 2 on the country albums chart and topped the digital download countdown.

“We were going up against my buddy Lee Brice,” Lynch says. “He got us on the albums, but we took him down in the digital sales. I’m proud of that.”

A Tennessee native, Lynch knew he wanted to go into country music when he was in high school. But he had to find a way to get to Nashville.

That came in 2003 via a golf scholarship to Lipscomb University, where he graduated with a 3.9 GPA. Lynch was accepted to medical school at the University of Tennessee at Memphis. But he opted to stay in Music City.

“I went to college to be a doctor,” he says. “I promised my parents I’d get a college degree and I did that. I wanted to give music a shot. But I’ve got a pre-med degree if I need to use it. It’s good to have a fallback like that.”

Getting into Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe songwriter/guitar pull scene, Lynch wrote songs and played as much as he could before he was signed to Broken Bow Records, the Nashville indie label that’s also home to Jason Aldean.

Broken Bow, Lynch says, has given him all the support and exposure he could ask for. Everything else, he says, is up to him.

That starts with constant touring and making as many TV appearances as possible. Touring in 2015 has included playing his own headlining shows in clubs and small halls, getting on festival bills, the aforementioned opening slot on Bryan’s “Round Up the Music Tour” and the current year-ending run of headlining shows.

It’s fitting that Lynch has hooked up Bryan, his model of success for touring. But Lynch says there’s a final element to getting to where he wants to go. He needs to have more hits.

“If we can do that, it will take us to another level,” Lynch says. “Our goal is to have a headlining theatre, arena tour. We can do that … I don’t want to be a flash in the pan. I want to be somebody who’s around for a long time, like Strait.”

Strait retired from the road last year after more than 30 years of touring, a decision Lynch says he hopes to be able to make in about 2040.

“I can only hope to be around that long,” he says. “I’m sure going to try.”

Dustin Lynch will play Thursday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. at Bogarts, 2621 Vine St. in Cincinnati. Tickets are $23. For more information, please visit dustinlynchmusic.com.\

Reach DCP freelance writer L. Kent Wolgamott at LKentWolgamott@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer L. Kent Wolgamott at LKentWolgamott@DaytonCityPaper.com

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