Granger Smith paid a visit to Music City recently, headlining a sold-out show at Exit/In. Smith said playing in Nashville offers a special vibe.
"Nashville is one of the most rewarding and exciting places for us to play. The guest list is astronomical, since so many of our friends and colleagues are here, and it's such a great feeling to know we have so much support. To top it off, my wife is here today, and it's special because she doesn't get out on tour that often," he says.
With a grassroots approach, Smith's career continues to skyrocket. He is currently in the studio with legendary producer Frank Rogers working on the follow-up to his highly successful Dirt Road Driveway, released last year. All told, Smith has built quite a reputation and success story. "It amazes me so much, and every day I am grateful for the journey that has led me to the place I am now," he says. "Dirt Road Driveway really broke through and we were able to get out in front of amazing crowds in new markets, and people started spreading the word...so every day, I'm thankful for that."
Another key element in Smith's continued career climb is his comic alter-ego, Earl Dibbles Jr., the consummate country boy who has helped the singer score over 25 million YouTube views of his videos. He admits that keeping the two personalities separate can be a challenge. "It happens both ways nightly. It does set off a little alarm in my head when I address the crowd sometimes -- 'Oops, that was Earl, and not you.' It's funny, and I think people have become really accepting of the fact that we are the same person."
Smith tries to make sure that he doesn't lose the essence of what makes Dibbles special. "Especially over the last six months, I've been going back to reference that first video which set all this in motion. Just to refresh myself on his moves and dialect -- all those things will slowly fade away and evolve into someone else unless I stay current with him." He says he's amazed that some of his fans don't realize he's both acts. "It happens a lot," he says. "Someone recently tweeted, 'I just figured out that Earl Dibbles is a singer, and his name is Granger Smith.' When I see that, that means success. That means people are making the connection and finding the music."
On the upcoming disc, look for more music from both Smith and Dibbles. "There will be at least one new song from him next year, and maybe two. We're looking at continuing to grow him, and grow our show with him." As Dibbles, the entertainer keeps sports fans in stitches every Tuesday night on CBS Sports Network's "Inside College Football" with his "Dip 'Em and Pick 'Em" segment. This is the second season he has appeared on the show in which Dibbles makes his picks for the upcoming week and provides banter for the show's host and analysts.
"I absolutely love it," says Smith, a Texas A&M grad. "It's one of the handful of things in my career that isn't music-related, which is sort of strange being an artist. It's surreal, and I love being in that role because I love college football so much. Being a part of CBS and college football is truly a huge honor, and I hope I can continue doing those types of things."
Another highlight of 2014 for Smith has been the release of a self-titled documentary that allowed fans to see his world up close and personal. "That was very important to us in helping to launch a YouTube series which we call 'Yee Yee TV,' and the documentary was kind of the catalyst for what we wanted that to be. I wanted to give people a view of what goes on behind the scenes on a tour -- how is this independent act going out nationwide and selling out all these markets? How does this alter-ego thing work? We answer all those questions. I think every artist should try to do that. We're planning the next project that focuses on the making of the record. The fans really seem to love it."
The last single off Dirt Road Driveway, "Bury Me in Blue Jeans," just impacted radio, and Smith is on the last leg of his 65-day headlining tour.