Drew Baldridge: Country music’s ‘gentle man’

Drew Baldridge was all set to attend college on a sports scholarship when fate intervened. Instead, he joined Nashville’s legendary music scene, writing songs, playing clubs, and touring for five years before releasing his first studio label record, Dirt on Us, which alludes to how hard he and the band worked, logging some 100,000 miles on the road. With two singles already released on an upcoming album, “Guns & Roses” and “Gentle Man,” his current tour brings him to Stamford’s Palace Jan. 25. Andrea Valluzzo spoke with him about the upcoming show.

Andrea Valluzzo: Who were your musical inspirations growing up?

Drew Baldridge: It’s kind of widespread. One of my favorite country artists is Josh Turner. I grew up singing in church, I just loved how he always brought gospel music into country music, which made it really awesome. One of my other big inspirations and this sounds kind of crazy but it’s Michael Jackson. I just loved the way he entertained and danced on stage.

AV: Who are you listening to now?

DB: I listen to a little bit of everything, I’m listening to Earth, Wind and Fire and now I’m loving the new Shawn Mendes record. Right before we got on here [on this phone interview] I was listening to Kenny Chesney’s There Goes My Life. I love these old country songs and the way they told stories. I want to do that with my songs too.

AV: I read you were all set to play college baseball, what happened?

DB: Music happened. Growing up, I played baseball and basketball, I travelled around and did travel basketball since I was in sixth grade. Baseball was a big part of my life too all through my grade school and high school years. On my 18th birthday, my mom took me to Nashville and surprised me with tickets to see Josh Turner, who was my musical hero. I just realized that OK, if Josh Turner can do music, I’m going to do music. I gave up all my baseball scholarships, chances at basketball, moved to Nashville at 19 and dove into the honky tonks here and started playing. I think it was the best decision I ever made, I just love what I get to do every day.

AV: You worked hard on your first album and the title Dirt On Us references that.

DB: My first record, I didn’t even know I was making it then, I was just writing songs, writing songs and writing songs. Some of those songs on that record were three or four years old before I actually got to make my first record on a label. I was putting out songs by myself independently and finally when I got a record deal, that was big time for me. I just wanted the record to be as good as it could possibly be so I knew had to keep writing and writing until I felt like I loved every song on the project. We put the last record out in 2016 and we are just focusing on new music. I’ve been writing since the day I put the other one out. Here it is 2019, and we’re hoping to put out a new record or EP this year, I’ve been writing for this for three years. I take a lot of time on it, I make sure every song is perfect. I’m going to be singing these songs hopefully for the rest of my life and I want to be — when I am on stage — proud of them and want my fans to be proud of the music I am making. Making a record is a long-drawn out process.

AV: How important is connecting with your audience to you?

DB: I think it is so important. We have not been blessed yet to have a top 20 hit yet, we’ve been really lucky to have top 50 songs and really good streaming numbers on Spotify, so when we come out, our goal is to put on the best show we possibly can. We take a lot of time, a lot of rehearsal time. Next week we have rehearsal for four days straight, making sure it’s the best show we can make it and that fans are connecting to what we are doing live on stage. Me and my guys we like to move and dance … it just makes for a really fun show.

AV: What can audiences expect from this show?

DB: They can expect to have a lot of fun. We like to put smiles on people’s faces, like I said earlier, we like to dance and make sure the crowd is very involved in every song we play. It’s very high energy. We play a little bit of everything, not just country.