Delaware State Fair kicks off with Jon Pardi

Country singer Jon Pardi will bring songs off his hit record “California Sunshine” and more Wednesday to the Delaware State Fair. (Submitted photo)

HARRINGTON — Jon Pardi has been writing songs, touring across the country and recording hit records since he came to Nashville in 2008.

So it may have come as a surprise to some of his fans when he received the Academy of County Music’s Best New Artist Award just this April.

As for Mr. Pardi, he was more than fine with it.

“I just think about the years I never got to be part of the show. Nobody likes the guy who says, ‘Where you all been?’ You just wave, smile and be very thankful,” he said last week by phone from Milwaukee where he was to play a concert that night with Dierks Bentley and Cole Swindell.

Mr. Pardi has much to be thankful for these days. His latest album “California Sunrise,” released last year, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country charts. Two songs from the album hit No. 1 on the U.S. Country radio airplay charts.

“Head Over Boots” went platinum while “Dirt on my Boots” reached gold status. He’s been on the road nonstop for the last couple of years with his own tour and as part of others and will front the CMT Tour this fall.

He’ll roll into Harrington with Chris Lane Wednesday as he headlines the Delaware State Fair kickoff concert starting at 7:30 p.m.

In March 2012, Mr. Pardi released “Missin’ You Crazy,” his debut single off of his first album, “Write You a Song,” which debuted at No. 58 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and peaked at No. 29. “Up All Night,” his second single, was released in 2013, and became his first top 10 hit.

The singles “What I Can’t Put Down” and “When I’ve Been Drinkin’,” were released to country radio in 2014.

“Write You a Song” hit No. 3 on the Country Albums chart. “The B Sides,” which included songs intended for “Write You a Song” but weren’t included, was released in 2015.

With “California Sunrise,” the 32-year-old Dixon, California, native has his most successful album.

He’s grateful to the fans, known as the Pardi Animals, and his record company, Capitol Nashville, for sticking with him through it all.

Chris Lane will join Jon Pardi Wednesday at the Delaware State Fair. (Submitted photo)

“We’ve been playing the clubs since 2011 and it’s been great. We’re getting more and more people on board and I’m really happy that the fans are with us and more people are noticing. It really gives you the drive to keep going,” he said.

“I’m thankful to the record label as well. I’ve always been told that this whole thing is a marathon, not a sprint. But it’s really been the record label believing in me and the fans loving the stuff we’ve been putting out.”

This age of social media has played a part as well. Fans knew songs from “California Sunrise” before they were even released due to videos of him in concert being posted online.

“This crappy iPhone video of me singing “She Ain’t in It” got posted to Twitter and fans knew the song before it was even out. It was pretty funny,” he said.

He says he has new music for a third album written but hasn’t performed any of it. He’ll start pre-production in August.

Along with Mr. Bentley and Mr. Swindell, he’s toured with some of the biggest names in country music including Luke Bryan, Eric Church and Alan Jackson.

He says Mr. Bryan gave him some of the best advice he could get as he made it through the ranks.

“He said ‘The longer it takes to make it, the longer you have to figure it out.’ I’ve never forgotten that,” he said.

Mr. Jackson, one of Mr. Pardi’s biggest musical influences, picked him to be a part of Mr. Jackson’s 25th anniversary “Keepin it Country” tour in 2015.

Mr. Jackson said at the time that he picked Mr. Pardi because of his authentic country sound, a sound he’s become known for in this increasingly pop country age.

“Country gets in the groove where music gets tested and they get feedback and feedback’s great but then when people hear something different, they tend to pull away and say ‘What’s this?’,” Mr. Pardi said.

“But this is my sound. And I think you can meet in the middle and take traditional country and mix it with a modern sound. With that said, I’m not going to be rapping anytime soon. I’m just going to stay the course.”

While “California Sunrise” has its roots in traditional country, tracks do have influences of Motown and The Eagles.

Although he is a devout follower of country mainstays like George Strait and Buck Owens, his tastes run the gamut, while keeping it old school.

“I love Ray Charles. I just got into Hall and Oates. ‘Sara Smile’ is such a great song. I just love old music so much better than new stuff. They did it so much better back then,” he said.

“I take little bits and pieces from all of the greats. I listen to everything. Life’s boring if you listen to the same thing.”

His touring schedule has been a grueling one for the past couple of years but he admits he misses it if he gets too much of a break.

“We tour like a rock band. We’re a rock ’n’ roll band at heart. We just play country music. Traditional country is the new rock ’n’ roll,” he said.

“If I’m off too long, I’m itching to get back on the tour bus. I played a show for the first time in a long time (July 6) and I just loved it. I thought to myself ‘This is so fun.’

“My goal is to take two weekends off a year and I’m working on it. But it’s not going to happen anytime soon.”

Tickets for Jon Pardi and Chris Lane are $31 to $66 with a $100 VIP package and can be purchased by visiting DelawareStateFair.com or calling 302-398-3269.

No gate admission will be required for the kickoff concert, but also no fair basics will be in place including carnival rides, livestock animals, circus performances, etc. A limited amount of food vendors will be open.

The 98th fair runs through July 29.

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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