A member of the Grand Ole Opry, Adkins was raised on country and gospel music. The former oil rigger is a family man with five daughters. - Photo courtesy of Britt Festival

Trace Adkins at Britt Festivals

The release of Trace Adkins' newest CD, "Proud to Be Here," in August came with the usual flurry of interviews and other promotional activities that come with a new recording. But these days, the buzz before an album release doesn't feel the same.

"When I was starting out, new album releases were something you got so excited and amped up about," Adkins says. "We don't sell CDs like we used to, and people don't listen to the full album in the downloading world."

For a country artist like Adkins, this is a troubling thought because "Proud to Be Here" is the best CD he's done in some time, he says. For one thing, he likes the balance between humorous songs — "It's a Woman Thang" may get a rise out his female fans — and more serious material such as the title track.

Adkins will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 30, at the Britt Pavilion in Jacksonville.

Adkins says he's pleased that "Proud to Be Here" takes his music beyond the traditional country that has long informed his albums.

"I think it stretches out as far across the spectrum as I can go," Adkins says. "I think on this one, with the inclusion of (the song) 'Love Buzz,' it takes it to a little bit bluesier place than I've gone before. It's a different place than I've been to in a while. And the song 'Poor Folks' is so traditional that it's almost retro."

Adkins' "Proud to Be Here," his tenth studio album, features the hit "Just Fishin' " and the single "Million Dollar View." The album was released last year on Universal Music's Show Dog label and debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Country Album Chart.

It's clear that Adkins is more honest and open than most artists. He's willing to admit to flaws in his music and will delve into subjects that many of his peers would gloss over, such as songwriting. On "Proud to Be Here," Adkins is credited with co-writing three of the songs — a bit more input on the songwriting than usual for his albums.

He credits Kenny Beard, co-producer of the album, for goading him into the songwriting.

"He's always telling people that I'm the best lazy songwriter that he knows," Adkins says. "I should write more, I know, but I get so much joy and instant gratification from what I do onstage, and I do enjoy the studio process. The rest of the time, I've got five kids and things that are pulling me in a lot of different directions. It's just really hard for me to sit down and write anymore. I don't know why. Like I said, I'm a little bit ashamed to admit that, but I will."

Adkins also has done voice-overs for commercials, narration and some acting, with recent roles in films like "The Lincoln Lawyer" and "An American Carol." He wants to continue making time for those pursuits.

"I remember when I was first starting out and opening shows for everybody," Adkins says. "I would hear these guys go out onstage and do 90 minutes of nothing but hits. I thought 'Wow, man, I can't wait for the day I can get to that point. That must be nice.' And it is, man. When you get to go out there and rip off four or five tunes that were hits and then hit the audience with something new, and then go back and do four or five more that they know and then spring something else new on them. You keep their interest and keep them singing along. It's really cool to finally be able to do that."

At press time, the Trace Adkins show had sold out. Call 541-773-6077 or 800-882-7488.

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