Dustin Lynch is Pleasantly Surprised By Southern California's Country Scene

Dustin Lynch
Dustin Lynch
Justin Nolan

Country music fans will be knee deep in tunes and twang at the inaugural ShipKicker festival, set to storm the Queen Mary's Waterfront Park May 23 - 24.

Dustin Lynch tops Saturday's lineup, and there's no mystery behind his success in the country music realm. The Nashville-based singer's velvety voice is suited for lovesick ballads and country pop anthems alike, all laced with a wise-cracking sense of humor. Lynch first garnered attention for his syrupy, down-tempo track "Cowboys and Angels" but his light-hearted nature was revealed with the fiddle-laden, jukebox charmer "She Cranks My Tractor." His down home demeanor and sing along hooks gave country fans something to cling to, and judging by his growth in popularity over the last two years, they're not letting go anytime soon.

Lynch is currently riding a wave of success from his sophomore album, Where It's At, which was inspired during his time on the road with Keith Urban and spawned his current gig touring with country music heavyweight Luke Bryan. In between dates, Lynch will mosey over to lead ShipKicker, along with the festival's day two headliners Parmalee. We caught up with Lynch over the phone to discuss his headlining gig, when to expect new material, and whether or not Southern California is prime territory for country music.

OC Weekly (Heidi Darby): You've opened for some big names in Southern California, but you're topping Saturday's lineup for Shipkicker. How does it feel to be the main draw this time around?

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Dustin Lynch: First of all, ShipKicker is the best festival name of all time. It's hilarious. As for [headlining], obviously it's the goal and what we want to do as a band. We're fired up for this. Our show is super upbeat, I don't want to say intense, but it's rockin'. The whole time we're on stage we're trying to get people to dance, I think a lot of folks are gonna come and not expect it. Bring your dancin' shoes, you're gonna be moving around.

Southern California isn't exactly a hot spot for country these days, do you feel like it's a challenge playing here?

You know what, I've been pleasantly surprised. We always go to that part of the world and I always assume no one's gonna show up. I don't know why that is, but I always expect it to be tough. And then we get there and the crowds for us, well, let me put it this way. People ask me what's our favorite place to play, or where the best fans are at, and the answer for me is south Texas and California. Every time.

That's surprising. At least the California nod.

Yeah, that's been a shocker, but in a great way. We look forward to those moments, when we get to go back. I don't know why we had those assumptions before we started playing music there, but it was one of those places where I didn't expect anything, and then all of the sudden we have incredible fans, and a lot of them. It's been really cool.

Given the success of Where It's At, have you even thought about new material yet?

This album is only on the second single. We've got some more music we'll put out and we'll see how that goes. But I'm always writing and looking for the next chapter and looking towards the next direction. We were writing just today, and yesterday, too. Feeling the energy of the road and performing, it's been good for me and the guys. I feel like we have a better idea of what's making us work. And we're actually writing for the next album already, but we're gonna see what comes from this first.

Understandable considering the momentum the album still has behind it. What's changed the most since that record?

What's changed the most in my life is that the crowds have grown astronomically. It's been unbelievable to watch this album take our shows to the next level. And now that we're out with Luke Bryan, it's just insanity. We were in good shape before, we had great crowds and loved what we were doing. But now we're selling out everywhere we go... It's crazy how far we've come as a band. Seeing the progression and the crowds grow is a testament to what we're doing on stage, and what we put into our live show -and it's so much fun.

Dustin Lynch performs day one of ShipKicker at The Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Hwy, Long Beach (877) 342-0738; www.thequeenmary.com. Saturday, May 23, advance tickets begin at $35, all ages. For more information on Dustin Lynch visit www.dustinlynch.com.

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