Granger Smith

The City Center Presents...

Granger Smith

Earl Dibbles Jr, Morgan Wallen

Thursday December 14th

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 7:00 pm (event ends at 2:00 am)

$20.00 - $30.00

This event is 19 and over

Granger Smith
Granger Smith
My name is Granger Smith. Sometimes long, fancy industry bios are helpful, but
other times you just need to hear from the guy actually living it, so here’s my
I was born and raised Texan, and I’m proud of that. I grew up along with two
brothers, a couple of yellow labrador retrievers and parents that stayed together
because they loved each other. My life changed when I was 14 years old and
decided I would teach myself to play guitar. This was motivated by two things: I
thought the guitar would make girls pay attention to me, and George Strait played
one. By the time I turned 15, I was performing weekends on small town stages in
North Texas, and doing my best as a fan club member to attend every George
Strait concert within driving distance. Playing high school football was an
important rite of passage for me, along with hunting and fishing, but the dream of
a music career consumed me. At age 19, I was satisfied with enough songs I
had written to make an album. As a freshman at Texas A&M, I was able to
scrape together some studio money by pre-selling the album to friends around
campus. For being just a kid, that album did pretty well. It landed me a
songwriting deal with EMI Music Publishing in Nashville, and the following year, I
took the leap to Tennessee.
My time in Nashville was important. I absorbed the craft of songwriting from
some of the best, learned my way around studios and recording gear, (which
paid off for me later) and cut my teeth on countless stages as both a singer and
as a steel guitar player for other singers. After four years, I had a shelf full of
song demos, a little bit of music business know-how and a strong conviction to
move back to Texas, finish my degree at Texas A&M, and start a band.
Moving back to College Station meant basically starting over. The gigs were
hard to book and when they did, nobody showed up to watch. But I was happy
and felt creative. I saved money by making albums out of my house and using
my band. We wore out vehicles and went from two pickup trucks, to a suburban,
to a van and then another van. The trailers we towed got bigger, and ever so
slowly, so did our crowds. I learned how to use a camera and some editing
software for making homemade music videos and we made lots of them.
My little brother, Tyler joined me in 2008. He traded a pretty good job at the bank
to jump in an old van and sell t-shirts in honky-tonk dive bars. I think he did it not
only because he shared the same vision as me, but also because his competitive
nature was excited about proving a bunch of people wrong. And that’s exactly
what we did. Together we conspired and worked from the ground up with the
goal of not only building an artist, but a brand. We embraced social media,
searched for real connections with fans, studied our predecessors and ignored
our doubters. The good shows helped pay for all the bad ones, and the songs
that sold helped fund all the others that didn’t. We put communities first, knowing
that without the people, we were without a job.
We created alter-egos through videos to help promote the music and that’s
where Earl Dibbles Jr. came from in the summer of 2011. It started as a short,
funny video that my brothers and I filmed out where my parents live in Central
Texas, but it turned out to be something that completely changed the shape of
my career. I actually like to think of it as an “intentional accident” because as
planned, the video went viral and became a huge promotional tool for my music.
But we had no way to know if it would actually work, especially since many of my
videos before it never caught fire.
In the early morning of April 16, 2013, I woke up and checked the iTunes store
on my phone with tired eyes. I was absolutely shocked to see my new album,
Dirt Road Driveway sitting at #1. Things were rapidly changing on the road,
too. We were seeing sold out shows in markets we had never played, and a
passion in fans unlike anything I had seen before. After independently releasing
7 studio albums, 1 live album and 2 EPs, I finally signed my first record deal in
2015. I met some great people at Broken Bow Music Group (BBR Music Group)
in Nashville who sought us out, believed in my dedication and wanted to take
what I was already doing, and magnify the message. We worked together not
only as colleagues, but as friends unified on the same mission. Within only
weeks of the signing, my debut single “Backroad Song” was a hit at mainstream
country radio faster than any of us expected.
A few years ago, I was standing with my boots in red, sandy, Iraqi soil watching a
beautifully majestic Middle Eastern sunset, when one of my band members
asked me, “Can you believe music got us here?” No, I can’t. What a journey it
has been since I decided to chase this crazy dream. We’ve played 10 countries,
3 continents, even the White House a few times, and I still can’t believe it all
started with a few guitar chords. In my song called “Sleeping On The Interstate,”
I wrote, “Connecting map dots like poets and prisoners, trying to live more like a
lover than sinner, slave to dreams so far away.” That’s me. If there’s one thing
I’ve learned from the music business, it’s that you don’t really choose this life,
you are this life. That’s the truth no matter if you’re selling albums or not. I do
what I love and love what I do, and there’s no sweeter freedom than that.
Morgan Wallen
Morgan Wallen
He’s a passionate singer with a unique sound, who grew up in Appalachia, and you’ll be hearing a lot more of MORGAN WALLEN before 2017 is over. Currently out supporting Florida Georgia Line’s explosive DIG YOUR ROOTS TOUR, followed by select dates on THE SMOOTH TOUR 2017, he is climbing Country radio with his Top 30 “The Way I Talk” on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart and has racked up over 7 million Spotify streams (and counting). Offering up the first real taste of his Big Loud Records EP – also titled THE WAY I TALK – Wallen’s drawling, fun-loving anthem penned by hit-makers Ben Hayslip, Chase McGill and Jessi Alexander, plays off the young star’s dynamic vocal delivery and features a sound straight out of the modern South, combining elements of both country and rock

Back when Wallen moved to Nashville in July 2015, he was not sure what he would find, but convinced that he should at least give his dreams a legitimate shot. Less than a year later, he’d already been signed to Big Loud Records, recorded some initial tracks with producer Joey Moi (Florida Georgia Line, Jake Owen) and hit the road on his first radio promotion tour.

It might appear that Wallen’s on the fast track, but it took him a while to get there. Born in Sneedville, Tennessee (a town that also lays claim as the birthplace of bluegrass pioneer Jimmy Martin), to a hard-rock-lovin’ preacher and contemporary-Christian-devoted teacher, he showed his musical interests early, singing in front of the local congregation at age three and asking for a violin for his fifth birthday. He would soon switch to piano and later add guitar to his arsenal, though he never really imagined it was possible to make a
career of it.

“I didn’t think that was realistic because I had no clue about how the music business worked,” Wallen admits. “Even living three hours away, I had no idea about Nashville.”

Instead, he focused his efforts on baseball and he was pretty good at it. Playing shortstop and pitcher for Gibbs High School in Corryton – the same school where Kenny Chesney graduated. Wallen earned an offer to continue playing at a major college.

But fate intervened. While pitching during his senior year, he felt a pop in his right elbow and would undergo a tendon replacement procedure. While he was able to continue playing guitar and piano, it proved to be the end of his baseball career.

“Looking back, I’m glad it happened the way it did, because I really actually loved music more than I ever did baseball,” he shares.

The kind of music almost didn’t matter. Rock, hip-hop, country – he loved it all,
particularly the emotional connection that it created between the musician and the listener. But when he wrote, the music was invariably country.

“Writing music was a way for me to get my feelings out,” he explains. “I don’t really express my feelings very much and I guess it was just a way for me to let some of that go. It’s my safe place.”

During extended time in California, Wallen met Sergio Sanchez, the lead singer and writer for Jive Records’ hard-rock band Atom Smash. While Sanchez initially served as Wallen’s vocal coach, they hit it off and started co-writing regularly back in Knoxville. Sanchez brought the music to the attention of producer Paul Trust and partner Bill Ray, who in turn produced an initial batch of songs. From there, things moved quickly. Wallen’s managers, Dirk Hemsath and Mike Bachta of Working Group Artist Management, set him up to play for William Morris Endeavor’s Kevin Neal, agent for Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line. Neal signed him on the spot. Hemsath and Bachta next sent demos to Big Loud Shirt’s Seth England, hoping to land some co-writing opportunities with songwriters at the publishing company. England was so impressed that he brought Wallen in to audition for his partners in Big Loud Records: Craig Wiseman, Clay Hunnicutt, Kevin “Chief” Zaruk and Joey Moi. They signed Wallen to both the label and the publishing company.

Wallen started woodshedding as a songwriter, working with the likes of Wiseman (“Live Like You Were Dying”), Rodney Clawson (“Dirt”), Chris Tompkins (“Drunk On A Plane”), the Warren Brothers (“Highway Don’t Care”), Tommy Cecil (“Home Alone Tonight”) and Matt Dragstrem (“Sippin’ On Fire”). Meanwhile, Big Loud Records proved that it was big-league – while Wallen worked on his own music, the label’s first-ever single, Chris Lane’s “Fix,” shot to #1, an unheard-of start for a brand-new label.

Wallen hopes to build a similar story. His end goal is to continue to be onstage, making that emotional connection with his distinctive sound, as well as releasing his anticipated forthcoming debut album of Big Loud Records.

“We’ve just really been trying to get the focus on the music,” he concludes. “If we don’t have that, then there’s no point in playing.”
Venue Information:
The City Center
505 S. Chestnut Street
Champaign, IL, 61820