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Local News / Entertainment

Tuesday, 27 April, 2010 1:00 AM

Steve Azar to perform at the 28th Annual Downtown Hoedown on Saturday, May 15

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Steve Azar

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

DETROIT -- Steve Azar was born on April 11, 1964 in Greenville, Mississippi. He started singing at the young age of five years old with a toy guitar. The country singer is best known for the hit "I Don't Have To Be Me ('Til Monday)," a song that reached number two on the Billboard Country Singles chart. Azar is scheduled to perform at the 28th Annual Downtown Hoedown on Saturday, May 15 at 6:15 p.m.

"Basically my whole life was between sports and music, it was a juggling act," Steve Azar said in an exclusive phone interview. "The great thing about music was you could take it to any athletic event. I started playing sports t-ball all the way to football, basketball, basically through my upbringing. I turned music into sort of the entertainment for the night. It's so long ago. I've never been taken that far back, but it feels good."

He attended Delta State University for a pre-med degree, but later decided to switch to management. Then, Azar became interested in music.

"My band was playing on a regular basis throughout college and playing throughout the southeast in the schools quite a bit," the country singer said. "By the time I graduated college, I had two 30-foot trucks and 10 people on the payroll. We were a road band playing original music and songs that I wrote and doing about three and a half, four hours of it."

Azar became famous for his single "I Don't Have To Be Me ('Til Monday)." But why was it so successful?

"Well, we had to work real hard," he explained. "It was one of those songs that lost its life about 11 or 12 times. It took over a year to work. There were stations that were playing it two years before I signed my deal with Universal. Looking back in hindsight, in the radio business, it tests really well. It has no burn. As a songwriter, it's interesting, because you want to write those songs, but you never can figure it out. Every once in a while, you get a gift to be able to record a song that's a double whammy. It's the icing on the cake to sing the song he wrote. I think he connects with people. For me, I'm usually working over the weekend. All my friends who don't do what I do, live for the weekend. I think the sentiment rung through with a lot of people."

What's the story behind your latest single "Sunshine (Everybody Needs a Little)"?

"I think everybody really does need a little," Azar replied. "It's a song that I was out with Bob Seger, opening for Bob. It was a fantastic tour. I have this habit of coming off the bus. When I do sound checks, I start making up songs, sort of not really thinking of anything. Whatever I see in the room. Usually, I'm listening to jazz, it's dark and cold. I was in the mood and I was singing. It just started happening. Then, three or four shows later on the Seger tour, we were playing it at the show. When I'm playing Sunshine, I get this feeling of Monday and Waitin' on Joe, the emotion of Waitin' on Joe and sort of the hit factor of Monday, wrapped into one song. It's selling, starting to really do well in radio. Whenever we get radio play in the daylight, it seems to make a difference. In this time, economic problems and our soldiers overseas and their families waiting on them to come home, I think its time to hold our relationships together closer than ever."

His latest album, Slide On Over Here, was released on Aug. 4, 2009.

"It was totally inspired by being out with Bob," the country singer said. "When I was out with Bob, I was realizing things that were missing in my entertaining life. Especially, on record. Sometimes on songwriters, we tend to get too heavy and too serious all the time. Sometimes, you have to lighten up. Bob took you on every emotion. He took you as deep as he could take you and then he lightened up and gave you the big smile. I felt like I was missing that. I've always had this important connection and important need to talk about my roots in the Mississippi Delta. I do that on every record and this record. With that said, I do think that this record was a direct connection with hanging out with 46 shows with Bob's band and just being on that tour. It sort of really influenced that record."

Azar returns to the Downtown Hoedown this year after a performance at the festival back in 1996.

"I remember we did it with the Kentucky Headhunters," he responded. "I remember it being a very aggressive show. I remember it being pretty warm. I remember as an entertainer, I felt the need to go hard. I'm looking forward to playing it. Every crowd is different, depending on the time of the day, how long they've been out there, what mood they're in. There's an overall feeling you get when you get on stage and look out there. I go with the crowd. The radio station there and I are good friends. They've been supportive of me even in crazy times. The last four nights we had there were at the Palace with Bob. I'm looking forward to getting outside and hopefully moving the crowd and also us as a band having a great time."

The country singer says he has lots of surprises in store for his Hoedown performance.

"My band cracks up and my tour manager says, 'hey, we got to do the set list,'" Azar said. "There's some stock stuff that I do no matter what. You just never know with me. When I get on stage, I may change up four or five things. It depends on my mood. It's hard to be able to predict. It's almost like going into a football game with a game plan at halftime. You have to make adjustments. It's very enjoyable for me, but I'm usually unpredictable. I guess we're all going to have to wait and see if we can all have a good time together. That's my goal."

He recently participated in a celebrity golf tournament with the guys from Hootie & the Blowfish.

"We got to leave with a victory, it was the Monday after The Masters," the country singer explained. "Darius Rucker and Jim Sonefeld and Dean and Mark, all the guys from Hootie & the Blowfish put on a great event in South Carolina, a wonderful charity event. Selfishly, we as a group of entertainers, we get to have a great time together. We get to play golf. I grew up playing the big game and I do love it. I don't have as much time for it as I used to. We got to participate in the victory. It was fantastic. We ended up walking away with the trophy so it was fun."

What is your advice for students looking to get into the music business?

"Well, it's got to choose you first of all," Azar said. "If you're going to do this, it's about what's in your heart and soul. It's about having real passion and really working on your talent. It takes a lot of time. I think in some cases, some people get it a little quicker. I've been a little bit of slow learner learning how to mix my Mississippi delta side with Nashville songwriting community and making that one thing. The last couple of albums, I've felt real comfortable where it was always a struggle for me. It felt like it was two different people or two different albums. Now, it's all combined. When I write songs, it's always there now. You got to get ready to buckle down. Know that your life isn't going to always be peaches and creams. There's a bittersweet side to it. It's just a journey that you got to get ready to strap in and love it."

Look for Steve Azar to perform on the upper stage at the 2010 Downtown Hoedown on Saturday, May 15 at 6:15 p.m.

For more information, visit www.steveazar.com or visit his MySpace page.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Steve Azar performed at the Monroe Mainstreet Hoedown in 2007.

 

COMPLETE COVERAGE OF THE 2010 DOWNTOWN HOEDOWN

 

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