There’s no bigger time to party in Augusta than during Masters Week. This year is no exception, with one of the biggest acts ever to come to the area — international country superstar Keith Urban — hitting the stage April 5.
Urban, breakout country artist Russell Dickerson and country singer/songwriter Ray Fulcher (who is a native of Harlem, Ga., and was named Metro’s Best Local Solo Artist for 2017) will be performing at Lady A at Evans Towne Center Park starting at 7 p.m. April 5. Produced by Friends With Benefits Productions, a portion of the Grand Ole Rager concert’s proceeds will go to St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
“To have someone of Keith Urban’s caliber coming to Augusta is just … it just hasn’t happened before,” said Grand Ole Rager organizer and Friends With Benefits founder George Claussen IV. “With the stage of his career he’s in right now, we’re not used to seeing that, because acts like that are playing other cities — Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, stuff like that. To have him come play here is not normal, because they’re playing some major festival somewhere, and Augusta just doesn’t pop up on any type of Richter scale for them. … So it’s just been a really big blessing to be able to work with an artist like Keith Urban in the current state of his career.”
Originally from New Zealand and Australia, Urban is the only male country artist to have an album (two albums, actually) debut atop the all-genre charts in the U.S., Canada and Australia. His 2016 release “Ripcord” was the second of his albums to do that. Urban is a highly celebrated country artist, with the 2017 Country Music Awards (his 12th CMA) bringing him an award for Best Single (for “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” the fourth No. 1 song on “Ripcord”) and Favorite Country Song at the American Music Awards, where he also collected trophies for Favorite Country Album and Favorite Male Country Artist.
Rolling Stone Magazine describes Urban’s last album release (and eighth solo album) “Ripcord” in 2016 as “half country, half something else entirely, heavy on the electro-pop and drum loops, light on the twang, riddled through with the charged-up surreal pluckings of his beloved ganjo (a.k.a. a six-string banjo).”
He very recently released a new single, “Coming Home” on his upcoming album “Graffiti U.” The new song, Billboard Magazine reports, is “co-written by Urban and co-producer J.R. Rotem, along with Julie Michaels, who sings on it as well, and Nicolle Galyon. The song includes a sample of Merle Haggard’s 1968 hit ‘Mama Tried,” with Haggard also getting a writing credit for Urban’s song.”
Urban explained the sampling.
“I’ve had this idea to use certain samples from famous country songs to try to write something new from it,” Urban told Billboard. “But I don’t want to sort of gratuitously shove a sample into a song where it didn’t flow, but I did want to try to use something to create something new, and I always loved the intro of ‘Mama Tried,’ the rolling guitar and the (Fender) Telecaster line that’s well-known to country fans.”
Urban hasn’t always had a clean-cut path in his life. Rolling Stone tells of “past problems with drugs and alcohol that nearly wrecked his marriage to actress Nicole Kidman in 2006, when it was just four months old.” The magazine goes on to say that many of the country star’s casual fans think he’s had an easy life, especially with his marriage to the actress and his four years as a likeable judge on “American Idol.” But he’s risen above his troubles to great success.
St. Jude was chosen as the concert’s charity because of Urban’s work with the children’s hospital — he is an advisory board member for the nonprofit organization.
Other notables who will be in town this week include George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Scott McCreery, Bret Michaels and Lil Jon. Of course, these aren’t the only performances going on in Augusta area nightlife. Check the music listings page in this issue for many more live shows!
GRAND OLE RAGER (Evans Towne Center Park, 7016 Evans Town Center Blvd., Evans)
— Thursday, April 5 (6 to 10:30 p.m.): Keith Urban, Russell Dickerson, Ray Fulcher $69.50, general; $20, VIP (proceeds go to St. Jude Children’s Hospital)