Grammy-nominated Trace Adkins’ career has many facets
Early in his career, Trace Adkins’ then manager Gary Borman took him aside and gave him some good advice.
“I remember one day he pointed toward the television and said, ‘Be on that little box as much as you can,’” Adkins told The Park Record during a telephone call from his tour bus in Oregon. “I’ve never forgotten that and I’ve taken most of those opportunities that come my way.”
That’s the reason Adkins isn’t just a Grammy Award-nominated country singer. The former oil-rigger is an actor who has starred in such movies as “The Lincoln Lawyer,” alongside Matthew McConaughey, and “Mom’s Night Out,” with Patricia Heaton, Sean Astin and Sarah Drew.
Adkins’ deep southern drawl can also be heard in Firestone tire commercials and he did a stint on a season of “Celebrity Apprentice.”
“There have been some that have been too far out, [and] I vowed not to do that again,” he said. “I’m not saying I would never do another reality-type show, but it would have to have some sort of charitable aspect to it. It would have to have some kind of redeeming quality. So far, that hasn’t come around.”
The next time Park City will see Adkins in person will be at Deer Valley’s Snow Park Amphitheater on Thursday, Aug. 25, when he performs his greatest hits show, which will include “You’re Gonna Miss this,” “Ladies Love Country Boys” and possibly the new song, “Lit.”
“We know what the fans want to hear,” he said about the upcoming concert. “As a country music fan myself, when I go hear a guy that I’ve been following for 20 years, I want to hear the hits. We might throw a couple of new things in there, but we won’t bore them with a lot of new stuff.”
Still, when Adkins gets on stage, he feels the parallels between his live music concerts and his filmed acting gigs.
“When you’re doing a song, whatever the subject matter may be, you have to try to emotionally put yourself in that place,” he said. “I’ve always believed the audience can tell whether or not you’re just phoning it in.
“It’s the same thing with acting,” Adkins said. “You have to immerse yourself in the dialog and be the character.”
The major difference is the feedback.
“The part where it doesn’t weave together so well is the instant gratification you get from applause,” he said with a laugh. “You don’t get that on a movie or television set. You’ll probably get, ‘Well, that was pretty good’ or ‘Do that again,’ you know?”
Adkins should know. He’s performed all over the world, including annual USO concerts that have taken him to the Middle East, the most recent being a month ago.
“We’ve been doing those for probably 15 years or so now,” he said. “We’ve averaged one major overseas tour a year, and do them all the time in the states.”
Those concerts are like no other performances he has ever done.
“Once you do one of those things and you get in front of the most appreciative audience you will ever play for, you’re going to want to go back and do it again,” Adkins said.
Even when those tours wrap up, they still resonate with the singer.
“I remember before I went on my very first one, I had the opportunity to speak with Wayne Newton, who kind of became the USO guy after Bob Hope, about what I should expect,” Adkins said. “He said, ‘Expect to feel guilty when you come home.’
And I was like ‘What’s he talking about?’”
After completing the tour, Adkins knew exactly what Newton meant.
“It doesn’t really matter how much you give of yourself or how hard you play, it feels like they [the audience members] give more to you,” Adkins said. “When I got home, I realized that not only did that all happen, but [I was able] to come home [and they weren’t].”
Adkins feels entertainers have a responsibility to boost the morale of those serving the United States.
“I think it’s incumbent upon us to let those men and women who are deployed know that we haven’t forgotten about them — that we as a people haven’t forgotten that we have men and women in harm’s way,” he said. “Every chance we get, we have to bring them a little bit of home and help them forget about their serious job for a few minutes so they can turn loose and relax. It’s also an opportunity to get on stage and say thanks.”
Earlier this year, Adkins was awarded the Dwight D. Eisenhower Award by the National Defense Industrial Association for his dedication, support and advocacy for America’s servicemen and servicewomen.
He said he was “really embarrassed” about being only the third entertainer to receive the award.
“Bob Hope was the first and Gary Sinise was the second, as far as entertainers go,” Adkins said. “Then someone messed up and gave it to me.
“To be on the list with ex-presidents, chiefs of staff and four-star generals is overwhelming,” he said. “It’s hard to compartmentalize that, but I humbly went and accepted it. I’m really appreciative about it.”
In the meanwhile, Adkins is anticipating the release of a new album.
“My parts are done and it’s been turned in,” he said. “I don’t know when it’s coming out, but I finished it.”
Making albums is the most enjoyable aspect of the job, according to Adkins.
“That’s the one thing that really hasn’t changed over the years, except for the fact that I’m not as nervous,” he said with a chuckle. “When you go into the studio on tracking days and are in the studio with some of the world’s best musicians and lay down the tracks with 10 or 12 of those cats, that is still my favorite thing to do in the music business.
“That’s my favorite day,” he said. “The creativity and level of talent in that room is the most stimulating [experience] you will ever be in.”
Those sessions are akin to performing with his idols, which Adkins has done throughout his career.
“It’s always fun when you get to collaborate with one of your peers and have a good time,” he said. “As a country music fan, some of my favorite and most cherished and honored memories are the times when I’ve got to perform with my heroes — Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Ed Bruce, George Jones.
“When I got to go on stage and sing with those guys, if my career could have been over after any one of those, I would have been fine with it,” he said.
At the moment, however, Adkins has his eye on the Beehive State.
“We’re looking forward to coming back to Utah,” he said. “We love that place.”
The Park City Institute’s St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights Summer Concert Series will present Trace Adkins at Deer Valley on Thursday, Aug. 25, at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $45 to $65 and can be purchased by calling 435-655-3114 or by visiting http://www.bigstarsbrightnightsconcerts.org
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