Luke Bryan on the Growth of His Farm Tour: 'It's Pretty Mind Boggling'

Jim Wright
Luke Bryan

Luke Bryan will launch the 11th edition of his Farm Tour this week. The six-city trek has the country star performing on stages set up in the fields of farms throughout the U.S. and marks the first time Bryan will bring the Farm Tour to Kansas and Oklahoma.

Ahead of Bryan’s 2019 Farm Tour, which kicks off on Thursday (Sept. 26), the “Knockin’ Boots” singer spoke with Billboard and other media outlets about the trek and the importance of recognizing the farmer. The Georgia native grew up in the farming community and at each tour stop he shares his appreciation by donating a check to a local farmer and local charity as well as hands out a scholarship to a student who comes from an agriculture background. Over 150 scholarships have been given out to date.

“I can't believe I can say that I've done anything for 11 years that’s been minimally successful,” Bryan says with a laugh over the phone. “We've been having an amazing time with the Farm Tour, being in the country and playing beautiful farms, watching people come in as the sun goes down. [I’m] reconnecting with my background being the son of a peanut farmer. To have that ag[riculture] background was one of the main reasons why we started Farm Tour. I remember beginning a kid from a rural area and never having big concerts come to my area, so it’s pretty fun to be able to bring our concert into these areas.”

Bayer serves as a tour sponsor for the fifth year and will continue its #HeresToTheFarmer social campaign. For every hashtag of #HeresToTheFarmer, Bayer will donate a meal through Feeding America. Over the past few years, the campaign has donated nearly 3 million meals and $180,000 to food banks and local farmers in each of the tour stops.

When Bryan started the tour 11 years ago, on a friend’s farm in Georgia, around 1,700 fans attended. As his star ascended within country music and Hollywood, as Bryan now serves as a judge on American Idol, each Farm Tour stop has increased to host nearly 20,000 people.

“We've had to get really, really knowledgeable on how to move and build a city. We're basically a traveling circus,” he says. “We want to make the best fan experience that we can. We want to leave them with something that they can look back and go, ‘Remember when the Farm Tour came to that hayfield right there and we listened to music and had a blast?’ When I look out and there's 19,000 people in the field, it never gets old. It's pretty mind boggling to know where we come from.”

Bryan says Farm Tour is another opportunity for him to “spread my wings.” In addition to continually releasing new music, appearances on American Idol, and serving as headliner for his own Crash My Playa festival each January in Mexico, the singer admits that he is not good at taking vacations. He attributes this tireless work ethic from growing up with a farming background.

“Every influential man that I [knew] as a kid, most of them were farmers and I watched them work. People look at me like I'm crazy when I create all these things that I do. It's almost like I don't know any better,” he says. “I really want to look back and go, ‘I gave it all I had. I tried to help a lot of people and I had a lot of success and fun along the way.’ I have a lot of things going on, but it's the way I roll.”

He adds, “It's a lot to juggle and I've got a few more gray hairs every year, but I’m still loving every aspect of what I get to do every day.”

Bryan’s team typically begins scouting farm locations early spring each year. As the tour has grown, the farm areas have expanded from the Southeast to the Midwest. Bryan says his team meets with farmers to educate the community on what they’re trying to do and to make sure the farm is easily accessible for fans to attend.

The 2019 Farm Tour will include performances by Bryan, Cole Swindell, Mitchell Tenpenny, The Peach Pickers and DJ Rock. Bryan’s Farm Tour set will be different than his usual headlining tours as he says it’s important to include songs of his that discuss farming.

“We always change the set list up some. I always try to do a couple songs from my back catalog that have farming references in them,” he explains. “Sometimes we're in the middle of a dusty field, sometimes we're played in the rain at 42 degrees. So, the environment always changes the dynamic of the show and makes it pretty special too.”

Bryan’s Farm Tour kicks off Sept. 26 in Marshall, Wis., and runs through Oct. 5. Complete dates are below.

September 26 -- Marshall, WI @ Statz Bros. Farm
September 27 -- Richland, MI @ Stafford Farms
September 28 -- Pleasantville, OH @ Miller Family Farms
October 3 -- Louisburg, KS @ MC Farms
October 4 -- Douglass, KS @ Flying B Ranch
October 5 -- Norman, OK @ Adkins Farm


THE BILLBOARD BIZ
SUBSCRIBER EXPERIENCE

The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.


To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.