published Thursday, January 10th, 2013

It’s all about the song to Niemann

Despite critical success as a singer, country star Jerrod Niemann calls himself

IF YOU GO

• What: Jagermeister presents Jerrod Niemann

• When: 8 p.m. Friday, Jan.11; doors open at 7 p.m.

• Where: Track 29, 1400 Market St.

• Admission: $20 in advance, $23 day of show. Must be 18 or older to attend

• Phone: 558-0029

• Website: track29.co/events

DID YOU KNOW?

After Niemann’s bus caught fire last March in Chattanooga, a female fan in Boston started a Twitter feed called Jerrod Niemann’s bus, with his blessing. Its funny, irreverent tweets soon had other celebrity buses rolling out their own Twitter feeds. “At Christmas, she contacted me and said that somebody had offered her a job doing online promotions because they’d read the bus feed,” said Niemann. “Now she has a full-time job doing something she loves. So it’s pretty cool to see good happen from something so chaotic.”

Last time Jerrod Niemann was in town, he lit up the Tivoli Theatre.

Literally.

His bus caught fire while parked on Chestnut Street behind the building, and the story made national news.

Friday night’s show at Track 29 will be his first trip back to the Scenic City since that fateful night last March.

“I may just hitch a ride with somebody,” he joked about his choice of rides from Nashville in a telephone interview this week. “If the bus catches on fire this time, I’ll just figure somebody doesn’t like me that much.”

Niemann’s career was hot long before the bus fiasco. After scoring a No. 1 album with “Judge Jerrod & The Hung Jury,” his current album, “Free the Music,” was about to be released last fall. That sophomore CD also cracked the Top 10 country albums, and its first single, “Shinin’ on Me,” rose to No. 17 on Billboard’s Top Country Songs. The video for his current single, “Only God Could Love You More,” will be shot in Nashville beginning Jan. 21.

Yet as exciting as his singing success has proven, Niemann says it’s all about the song and being a songwriter is most important to him. Songwriting is what drew him to Nashville from Texas and got his foot in the door when he started writing with Garth Brooks, he says.

“There is nothing more important than a song, and all we are is vehicles for the song. To think, ‘Wow, I can contribute to my own singing career and at the same time possibly be a part of others’ is something I’ve always loved. It always gets me excited.”

This week he started writing with his pal Lee Brice for Brice’s new album.

“We’ve got songs on his current album, we wrote my current single together. We make a pretty good drinking team and a good songwriting team — sometimes at the same time,” he jokes.

Niemann’s current single, “Only God Could Love You More,” is not the wedding tearjerker the song title implies. The breakup song describing how much he loves a woman despite all their arguments almost reads like the prequel to his hit “What Do You Want.” And Niemann laughs that, yes, they are about the same woman — and she knows it.

“I haven’t had many songs like ‘What Do You Want’ that I can get onstage and sing and have it connect like that song does. When we were writing, ‘Only God Could Love You More,’ I just felt what a beautiful thought to let somebody know that nobody could love you more than the Creator. Instead of making it a mushy love song, we wanted to make it where it was real, not about the moon and the stars. Something you could really relate to.”

The singer said his show at Track 29 will be backed by his band and the horn section heard on “Free the Music.”

“A lot of people forget just how significant horns have been in country music. People get pretty upset when they think you’re messing with country music. They don’t realize how many times it’s been done, that horns in country go back to the 1930s, the biggest song being ‘Ring of Fire,’” he says.

Joining him at Track 29 will be new artist Kelleigh Bannen and former “Nashville Star” semifinalist Sean Patrick McGraw, who, like Niemann, is sponsored by Jagermeister.

Contact staff writer Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6284.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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