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Country star Billy Currington to headline show

By JACK W. HILL SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

This article was published March 6, 2014 at 2:44 a.m.

Billy Currington

A veteran of several opening act slots at Verizon Arena, Billy Currington is headed to town for his first headlining show.

“I’m excited about my first big tour with my name at the top of it,” he says. “I love touring and getting back out on the road. It’s been since October that we were out and about. Naturally, I’m not a big fan of winter, but at least I got in some surfing on some waves that got bigger and bigger, one of my favorite things to do, in Hawaii.”

Currington, who was born in Savannah, Ga., turned 40 on Nov. 19, and still considers home to be in Georgia.

“I very rarely see it, though,” he says. “Maybe from 10 to 20 times a year I may get home. I do about 100 shows on the road, which is plenty enough for me.”

His career path is a prime example of the old motto, “If at first you don’t succeed, try,try again,” as he tried - and failed - to win a spot at the Opryland theme park as a high school junior. He returned after high school and found work, but only with a concrete company and as a personal trainer. At least the trainer gig led to meeting someone who invited Currington to record demo tapes, and that led to songs he had written being recorded by George Strait, Tracy Byrd and others.

He was signed by Mercury Nashville, which released his self-titled debut in 2003, Doin’ Somethin’ Right in 2005, Little Bit of Everything in 2007, Enjoy Yourself in 2010 and We Are Tonight in September. His No. 1 singles include “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right,” “Good Directions,” “People Are Crazy,” “That’s How Country Boys Roll,” “Pretty Good at Drinkin’ Beer,” “Let Me Down Easy” and “Hey Girl.”

His path to stardom has not been without obstacles, with an attack of laryngitis causing the cancellation of tour dates in July 2007 and a delay in recording his third album. Further delays occurred when he underwent therapy for trauma of abuse he had suffered as a child. Then in 2009, he suffered a concussion at a festival in Alberta, Canada, when high winds caused the stage to collapse, killing a spectator and injuring one of his band members.

“That was a terrible thing,” Currington says. “It seemed like tornado winds, and the speakers were falling on folks.”

Currington ran into legal problems in April when he was charged after an angry encounter with a tour boat operator on the water close to his coastal home in Georgia. In September, Currington pleaded no contest to charges.

Two opening acts are also on the bill. Brett Eldredge, who will turn 28 on March 23, is a native of Paris, Ill., who released his debut album Bring You Back in August. The album contained his first No. 1 single, “Don’t Ya.” Eldredge was one of the opening acts on Taylor Swift’s “Red” tour.

The other opening act, Chase Rice, placed second on the TV reality show Survivor: Nicaragua in 2010 and co-wrote a song, “Cruise,” a No. 1 single recorded by the group Florida Georgia Line.Rice, 27, grew up in Asheville, N.C., and he was a linebacker on the football team at the University of North Carolina. After he graduated from UNC, he worked on the NASCAR teams of Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson.

Rice released the EP Country As Me in March 2011, followed by the album Dirt Road Communion in March 2012 and another EP, Ready Set Roll, in October 2013.

Billy Currington

Openers: Brett Eldredge, Chase Rice 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Verizon Arena, East Broadway and Interstate 30, North Little Rock Tickets: $45, $40 (reserved seating in lower bowl; general admission on floor) (800) 745-3000 ticketmaster.com

Weekend, Pages 35 on 03/06/2014

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