Rayland Baxter
Andrea Behrens

Being raised in Bon Aqua, Tennessee – a stone’s throw from Nashville makes Thursday’s (July 17)  performance as part of the summer concert series Nashville Dancin’ presented by Dollar General a homecoming of sorts for performer RayLand Baxter. “I enjoy the fact that I am living and performing so close to where I was born,” Baxter told Billboard. “It’s a rare breed of people that are actually from around here. There’s definitely some pride there, and I’m grateful for all of that.”

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The summer series has been a hit, attracting thousands of music fans each Thursday night. “They have done such a great job with it, and the line-ups have been so diverse. I actually worked as part of the crew for Nashville Dancin’ one week this year. I helped turn over the stage. There were so many people there, and I was impressed. I remember one of the first shows I went to before I moved back to Nashville was My Morning Jacket, so it’s pretty cool to be playing on that stage.”

You might think that being the son of pedal steel icon Bucky Baxter (Bob Dylan, Steve Earle), that music was a passion from the beginning of his life, but it actually came much later. “I was big into sports, and running around in the woods fishing. Music really came to me by accident. I tore my ACL, so I couldn’t run around as much as I wanted to. My dad gave me an acoustic guitar, and it kind of took off from there the way it should have. It wasn’t something I had to do every day. There were no music lessons. It just kind of happened.” It wasn’t until later that his father’s impressive musical pedigree started to make an impact with him. “I didn’t think anything of it. I didn’t at all. The older I get, the cooler all that stuff becomes in my mind. “

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Baxter is currently in the studio working on his third disc. “We are in the middle of mixing the new album. I say we, because though it’s my name in the title, there’s quite a few people who are working on it as much as I am. Eric Masse is sitting in the studio as we speak, twisting knobs. We have another five songs to mix, and it should be ready to release next year.”

Following up his 2013 EP AshkeLon, the singer-songwriter said he loves mixing it up musically. “I just want to do something different and a bit more fierce from what I’ve done before. I just want to create something that is completely unique – just as Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, or Leonard Cohen did. When you hear their music, you know immediately from the first five notes, who it is.”

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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