Often one way to tell if a relatively new singer is good is by the company he keeps.
Country singer Easton Corbin is certainly keeping very impressive company. Last year he toured with Brad Paisley. This year he's been on the road with Blake Shelton. He has shows scheduled with Rascal Flatts.
Next Thursday night, June 2, Corbin will show off his talents locally during a concert starting at 8 p.m. at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe. This is Corbin's debut at the Peak.
Opening for him is Joanna Smith. Tickets are just $20 in advance and $25 the night of the concert.
Incidentally, Paisley, Shelton, and Rascal Flatts all had appeared at the venue just prior to becoming superstars. Is Corbin also destined for similar success?
It is very possible considering that the first two of Corbin's three singles hit number one on the country charts. They are "A Little More Country Than That" and "Roll With It." He's the first male country artist in 17 years to have such an achievement.
His newest single, the ballad "I Can't Love You Back" is rapidly climbing the charts and was number 14 on last week's Billboard chart.
In a phone interview with Corbin just prior to a show in Louisiana, Corbin said he doesn't mind singing either up-tempo songs or ballads. "I have no preference, as long as they're good songs," he said.
With "A Little More Country," the soft-spoken singer said, "My producer played it, I liked it, so I recorded it."
Corbin, 29, has been singing in country bands since he was 16. He said he wanted to be a country singer even before he learned how to play guitar.
Born and raised in rural Gilchrist County, Fla., Easton spent much of his time on his grandparent's cattle farm after his parents divorced when he was young.
While he enjoyed working on the farm, he especially enjoyed fishing. Even today, he does as much fishing as possible although the demands of performing have cut into it.
He sounded excited when told about the many fishing streams and lakes in close proximity to Penn's Peak.
He said if he wasn't involved in a music career, he probably would be working in the agricultural field since he grew up raising beef cattle.
Asked to list some of his influences, he said at the top of the list would be Merle Haggard. Others are George Jones and the late Keith Whitley.
He got his first break as a teen in Florida when an impromptu audition at a local music store led to a slot on the Suwannee River Jam, a festival that attracts thousands of people and national touring acts.
At that festival performance, he said, "It was just me and a guitar in front of a 40-acre field full of people. It was great."
Soon he was opening for other national acts when they played the area, including Janie Fricke and Mel McDaniel.
"I'm a Little More Country Than That" was written by Rory Feek (of Joey & Rory), Don Poythress, and Varble. It paints a picture of a small town and depicts old-fashioned, romantic values.
"Roll With It" speaks to the important things in life like sunsets and pick-up trucks.
"I Can't Love You Back" is a touching number of a lonely man still in love. The song entices the listener to draw their own conclusion on whether the singer is talking to a love who left, someone who died, etc.
Corbin, who lives in Nashville, said he is obviously very happy with the way his career if taking off. "It's been a great run," he said.
When asked what he would like to say to people coming to his concert in Jim Thorpe, he humbly remarked, "I just want to thank them for everything."
Easton Corbin and Joanna Smith will be performing at Penn's Peak on Thursday, June 2, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 the night of the concert. Tickets are available online at www.ticketmaster.com , all Ticketmaster outlets including Boscovs and Gallery of Sound stores, and at the Penn's Peak Box Office (Walk up only, no phone orders) during normal business hours: Monday thru Friday- 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday- 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets can also be purchased at Roadies Restaurant and Bar Hostess stand during normal business hours (Walk up only-no phone orders)