Texas Music Star Connects With Gun-Totin' 'Country Boy' Character
Texas artist Granger Smith loves to create. In the past year, he has released two very well received albums -- the studio disc Poets & Prisoners as well as the recent live album Live At The Chicken, recorded at the Chicken Ranch Dance Hall in Ledbetter, TX. In addition, the personable singer is about to do something very unique - in launching a brand new comedic persona named "Earl Dibbles, Jr." He admits that he loves getting to exercise his creative muscle.
"Sometimes people will say that it is too much," he admits to Billboard, "but I love moving forward with new ideas. That is my favorite thing about the business. Besides songwriting and singing for the fans, just being able to have no ceiling for creativity keeps me in it every day."
Though Smith is one of the biggest stars in the Texas format, his music has more of a laid back feel, similar to Don Williams. That's a comparison he likes -- a lot. "I love him, that's huge. I think about that concept everyday," he says of his different style. "When you're different, it has negative effects. However, I try to remind myself that anything that breaks big in the end was different in the beginning. I try to remember when I play music, I can only do what's natural. As much as I would love to be the rough guy who has that Texas sound because it sells a lot of records. But, ultimately I can't," he says. "It comes out sounding like me every time. I had someone tell me once that you can't chase the market. You've got to just do what you do and let the market chase you."
In addition to the two albums he has issued over the last twelve months, Smith is releasing a new single this week titled "The Country Boy Song," as the afore-mentioned Dibbles. Watch the Video:
Smith says it's another outlet for his creativity. "I've done a lot of different characters on YouTube, and the most recent character I have come up with is Earl Dibbles, Jr. He's a country boy who lives out on the ranch. It's actually my parents' ranch --- where they live. There's an old abandoned house out there. We created the skit in literally a couple of days. We threw it together -- the life of Earl Dibbles, Jr -- and the things he does in a day. He wakes up, puts a good dip in, cracks a cold one, gets dressed, and sits on logs. We thought it was funny, but we didn't think we had a goldmine of any sort. I don't remember being that excited about it, but suddenly it started taking off."
That is somewhat of an understatement. Smith smiles when he describes just how big Dibble has become. "People began to share it and pass it around. It started going and going," he reflected. "Now, we're over 410,000 views, so we know that we've got something special with it."
He says it has been received the way it has because the character is very familiar to people. "Everyone knows an Earl Dibbles, Jr. They have either met him, have one in their family, or have an aspect of him in themselves. Just like with music, I had always wanted to connect with people, and this video started to do that."
Smith plans to share the stage with Dibbles during his shows as the single picks up steam. "We are going to play our whole show, then I'll leave at the end, and I'll throw on the hat and overalls, and Earl will come out -- as if he's the headliner."
Smith doesn't have to be told that it's a unique approach to releasing a record. The closest thing that it could be compared to is Ferlin Husky recording as "Simon Crum" in the 1950s, or the Statler Brothers' transformation into "Lester 'Roadhog' Moran and the Cadillac Cowboys" in the 1970s. Though a risk, he likes rolling the dice. "It could totally fail, and be an embarrassment and a joke, but I am excited about it!" he exclaims. The single is available on iTunes today.
Highly respected Texas Music journalist Rita Ballou thinks the experiment will be nothing short of a slam dunk.
"Granger Smith fans or subscribers to his YouTube channels know that his 'characters' are nothing new, but there is just something about Earl Dibbles Jr. that was so different that people could immediately relate to. I think it is because everyone has a little Dibbles inside them or even has one in their family. Earl seems to allow Granger to let loose and show his vulnerability while still keeping that country boy pride," she says.
Check out the story of Dibbles at EarlDibblesJr.com.