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Local News / Entertainment

Wednesday, 28 July, 2010 11:33 PM

Country star Billy Dean to perform on Aug. 1 at The Ark in Ann Arbor

Photo credit: www.billydean.com

Billy Dean will perform an acoustic concert on Aug. 1 at The Ark in Ann Arbor, Mich.

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Country music singer Billy Dean has released eight studio albums, five compilation albums, 28 singles and three guest singles. is known for playing at big venues like stadiums, fairs and festivals. Now, he is touring the country in intimate smaller venues. Dean will perform an acoustic show at the Ark in Ann Arbor on Sunday, Aug 1 at 7:30 p.m. He is known for the hit singles "Only Here for a Little While," "Billy The Kid," "If There Hadn't Been You" and "Let Them Be Little."

Dean's father, Bill Sr., was part of a band called The Country Rock in his spare time. Billy joined the band at the young age of eight. What advice did your father give you related to music?

"I always used to get on my dad about his health, he wasn't in all that good of health," Dean said about his father. "I'd say, 'I want you to be around if I ever make it in the music business.' He said, 'It won't suprise me if you make it. It will surprise me if you don't make it.' That show of confidence was a big show of confidence. I used work on my lead guitar playing. He'd say, 'There's a lot of guitar players, a dime a dozen. Not many great singers vocally.' He really pushed me more into being a singer and listening to some of the classic country singers like Marty Robinson, Merle Haggard, Charlie Pride and some of the outlaws like Willie and Waylon. His favorites were the crooners like Marty Robinson, Jim Reeves and Merle Haggard. I was more attracted to the outlaws like Willie and Waylon in high school. He kidn of made me like a combination of both."

You've had many hit singles over the years, but which is your favorite to perform?

"I like 'Billy the Kid' probably to perform," he responded. "The song that has given me the most respect from my peers in Nashville was 'Somewhere in My Broken Heart.' A lot of my peers have told me they feel it is a flawlessly-written country song. That makes me feel great about that."

His latest album, Billy Dean Sings Richard Leigh, was released on May 26, 2009.

"The description of this album would be a cross between Frank Sinatra and Hank Williams," the country singer replied. "We named the music HankSinatra. The highlights would be 'Angels,' my version of 'The Greatest Man I Never Knew,' which was made popular by Reba McEntire. The writer, Richard Leigh, always wrote that from a son's point of view of his father, but it never was recorded that way. Hearing 'The Greatest Man I Never Knew' from a male point of view is kind of bone chilling I think. One of my favorites would be 'Til Someone Comes Along.'

Why haven't you released any new singles since "Swinging for the Fence" in 2006?

"I'm not going after singles anymore," Dean answered. "It's an old model. It's an old way of doing the music business. We're trying to move forward with a new business model with music that is guerilla marketing on the web. Pairing up with corporations to help provide music through companies where the public can receive free music, but the creators would be paid by the corporations. We're in the midst of building that new model right now. Terrestrial radio is struggling, I hate it for them. A lot of kids are listening to their iPods. I don't know if radio is the way to reach new listeners anymore. I think the internet and talking to guys like you is the way to do that. We're not really going after that model anymore, releasing singles to radio anymore. It's too pricey and it doesn't seem to work anymore."

Can you give me a preview of your upcoming performance on Aug. 1 at The Ark in Ann Arbor?

"There will be a lot of comedy, I love to make people laugh," he said. "A goal will be to make you feel like you're sitting in my living room at home having a private concert with just you. I tell a lot of funny stories that have happened to me. I play a lot of hits that I've had over the years. I play cover songs that I grew up listening to, kind of a throwback to what I grew up listening to. I try to write a little verse of chorus of the area right on the spot in real time. I kind of give a little demonstration of how we write a song, try to write something fun and funny about the area. I'm pretty notorious about meeting people in person. I think fans want access to the people they support. I'll be very accessible after the show. I usually come out, mingle with the audience in the lobby, sign autographs and that sort of thing. I've had more support from fans up in Michigan than probably any other place. I'm hoping to reconnect, hope to make some new fans. My one man song is about showing the quality of songs and songwriting."

Billy Dean performed at the Downtown Hoedown in 1992, 1994 and 2005. What was that show like for you?

"It was pretty amazing really," the country singer recalled. "I remember being that in bowl-shaped venue that they play there in the Downtown Hoedown. I think I was really surprised at how many country music fans were in that area. I'll always remember that. It was a big party. We got up and played. I still do shows with my band. I enjoy playing with my band. You need a band for those type of big festival types of shows. It's a certain kind of performance that's fun, but it's really not the kind of venue that I prefer. I prefer intimacy, I prefer really putting on an acoustic, fun, entertaining show as supposed to a big, outdoor party that's all raise hell, get drunk and throw a party. I'm kind of over that myself. I like to really have a relationship with an audience while I'm there."

You were discovered on the TV talent show Star Search. What do you think of some of the talent coming out of shows like American Idol and Nashville Star?

"I don't think anybody's made it really big from Nashville Star," Dean responded. "I wasn't a big fan of Nashville Star to be honest. I thought it was kind of an American Idol wannabe. I just didn't think it was done well. American Idol is done very well. We've seen superstars career come out of that. We've seen that show work. I think you get out of it what you put into it. I'm just not sure that Nashville Star has put the right resources into it. American Idol we've gotten Carrie Underwood, we've gotten Kelly Clarkston, Matt Giraud, who I liked when he was a top five contestant last year. There's real singers that come out of that. They're usually amazing vocalists and that usually works. I think there's a lot of stylists. If American Idol was the only way that we were delivered our new stars, Johnny Cash would have never made it, Kris Kristofferson would have never made it, Willie Nelson would have never made it. It's one way to do it, it's not the only way to do it."

The country singer has started offering songwriting and corporate team building exercises.

"We are sharing for the first time, trade secrets and how we can get the message down to three minutes and move millions of albums and capture the attention of people through songwriting," he answered. "We're showing corporations how to mind the creativity of their own people instead of having to outsource it. We're taking years of experience that you can't get at a university, any other way, but to get this experience the way we got it, which was coming to Nashville with a dream and a prayer, living out of your car and doing everything you can do to get access to the great songwriters and the great singers to learn how to write the great song. It's really hard to do, it can be taught. We basically write a song with several members from the company. We break off in groups and co-write a song about their company, not a jingle, but a real song."

Click here to order tickets for Billy Dean's acoustic performance at The Ark in Ann Arbor.

For more information on Billy Dean, visit www.billydean.com, www.billydeanwritersblock.ning.com, facebook.com/countrysingerbillydean and twitter.com/billydeandotcom.

 

Photo credit: dev.annarborcvb.org

For more information on The Ark music venue, visit www.theark.org.

 

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