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story.lead_photo.caption Poyen native Justin Moore brings his “Hell on a Highway Tour” to Little Rock on Friday.

Right now the highway doesn't seem so hellish for Justin Moore.

It's late April and the Poyen native's tour bus is in Ohio, headed for another stop on his "Hell on a Highway Tour." But first, a diversion.

Justin Moore

“Hell on a

Highway Tour”

Opening act: Dylan Scott

7:30 p.m. Friday, First Security Amphitheater, 400 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock

Admission: $20-$46.75

(800) 745-3000

verizonarena.com

"We're rolling down the road and we're going to stop in Akron to play some golf at Firestone [Country Club]," the singer says. "I got lucky and got an opportunity to do that. Then it's on to Youngstown to play the show tonight."

Moore brings his tour back to his home state Friday with a show at Little Rock's First Security Amphitheater.

Curiously, even though he has played plenty of sets in central Arkansas, this will be his first while headlining his own tour.

"It's hard to believe, but this is the first time we've brought our own tour through there," the 34-year-old says. "We've done Riverfest and different things in conjunction with Razorback games, different charity events, but we've actually never brought our tour through there. We're looking forward to it."

Moore sort of eased into his singing career.

"I always loved music and always sang along to the radio, but the thought never crossed my mind to play music until my dad and mom wanted me to record a little CD for them before I went to college."

The CD -- with its covers of songs by George Strait, Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw and others -- made the rounds and Moore's vocals left an impression. And even though he loved performing onstage with an uncle who played in bands, making music still wasn't really in his plans.

"You grow up in a town of 300 people in Arkansas, you don't think, 'I'm gonna go be a country singer,'" he says. "For me, that was never attainable. But my dad actually came up to me and said, 'What do you think about playing music for a living?'"

Still not convinced about a musical career, Moore, the salutatorian of the Poyen High School class of 2002, entered college. Two weeks of higher education was enough, though, and he left for Nashville.

By 2003, he had a songwriting deal, but it wasn't enough to pay the bills. Among his side hustles was a gig selling meat.

"I'm not talking like the Schwans man," he says, referring to the frozen food home delivery company. "I'm talking about peddling cases of meat out of my truck. I'd be writing songs with some big writer one day and the next day I'd drive an hour out of town because I didn't want to knock on somebody's door I might be writing with the next day. It wasn't fun, but those are character-building times. Every artist has been through it."

In 2007, Moore signed a record deal with Big Machine Records imprint Valory Music Group.

His self-titled debut came out in 2009, followed by Outlaws Like Me in 2011, Off the Beaten Path in 2013 and 2016's Kinda Don't Care. He's had six No. 1 hits on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, including "Small Town USA," "'Til My Last Day" and "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away."

Moore and his wife, Kate, lived in Nashville for almost 10 years before returning to Arkansas to raise their family, which includes three daughters, ages 8, 6 and 3, and a 10-month-old boy.

"We moved to Bryant, and now we're [back] in Poyen. I actually live on the property I grew up on. It was always my intention to move back home and we were able to do that. I've really enjoyed being back in Arkansas."

Moore says he has been on a writing hot streak and hopes to start recording a new album in late summer.

"I've actually been writing more over the last six months than I've written since the beginning of my career. It's going to be the most traditional sounding album we've done. I'm really excited about the music we've been writing."

Weekend on 05/10/2018

Print Headline: Justin Moore to perform -- as concert headliner

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