Jerrod Niemann’s been touring with Miranda Lambert, one of country music’s hottest acts, for nearly six months.
“Yeah, it’s pretty dang cool,” Niemann said recently during a short break from the road. “Between her and Blake (Shelton, Lambert’s likewise singing-star husband), you can’t ask for better friends. I’m so happy for them.”
Niemann rejoined Lambert’s On Fire tour last week but he’s also playing other dates, including his Saturday, May 26, appearance at Bayou Country Superfest.
The singer from Liberal, Kan., is so enthusiastic about playing Superfest in LSU’s Tiger Stadium that he created special purple and gold Jerrod Niemann merchandise for his Death Valley debut.
Niemann’s inspiration for the merchandise includes the famous earthquake game of Oct. 8, 1988, during which a hard-fought victory by LSU over Auburn triggered a Tiger fans celebration of such magnitude that it registered across the campus on a Geology department seismograph.
“When I heard about the crowd screaming so much, I thought, ‘OK, before I die, I want to go to that stadium and hang out with those people,” he said. “And now I get to play there at such a legendary place with such a legendary program.”
Besides warming up the stage for Lambert, Niemann’s been opening act for major stars Dierks Bentley and Brad Paisley.
“Especially in Nashville, it’s not who you know, it’s who you know,” he explained with a laugh. “I’ve had some really cool people be kind enough to open a door and not slam it in my face.”
A country performer and country music fan, Niemann, like members of his audience, enjoys seeing performances by Lambert, Bentley, Paisley and the other stars he works with.
“Every night I get to listen to Miranda Lambert and Chris Young and be the happiest country fan in the world,” he said.
Fans of the headliners he appears with are receptive to him, Niemann said. After all, he has the Top 10 hits “Lover, Lover” and “What Do You Want” and a No. 1 album, Judge Jerrod & The Hung Jury, to his credit.
“They’ll say, ‘All right, we’ll roll with you for a minute and see what’s going on,’ ” Niemann said. “And they’re always willing to sing along or hold a beer up when you ask them to. They make me feel right at home. Especially Miranda’s fans. They’re pretty much the people who I hang out with every day. They’re girls who drink pretty much nothing but beer and guys who drink pretty much nothing but whiskey.”
Niemann and his peer and pal, Lee Brice, wrote his latest single, “Shinin’ On Me,” two summers ago at AquaPalooza, a country music festival on water near Austin, Texas.
“I thought, man, what a great day, just hanging out on a lake with all these people singing along, having fun,” he said “So we went to the back of the bus and wrote ‘Shinin’ On Me.’ I hope people will crank it up this summer.”
“Shinin’ On Me” is the lead single from the singer’s forthcoming album, Brassoline: A Venture Through Wayd’s Worst Nightmare. As the meant-to-grab-attention title suggests, the album, unlike most contemporary country music, features horns.
“It is rare now, but it’s certainly not original,” Niemann said. “Country music featured horns back to Bob Wills and Willie (Nelson) and Waylon (Jennings), Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard. All my favorites tinkered with horns, even Hank (Williams) Jr. And, in the modern day, Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith.”
Niemann’s early Nashville success included co-writing three songs for Garth Brooks, “Good Ride Cowboy,” “Midnight Sun” and “That Girl Is A Cowboy.” Should Brooks ever stage a comeback, he said, it’ll be a great day in country music.
Brassoline, to be released later this year, follows 2010’s Judge Jerrod & The Hung Jury.
“The first album was a huge learning experience,” Niemann said of the breakthrough project he recorded before he had a record deal.
“So this new one going in, instead of feeling pressure I feel excitement,” he said. “Because, for the first time in my life, people are paying attention to music that we worked so hard to make. So we want to work even harder and make cooler music.”