Are you ready to see the country’s hottest country music artist in concert?
Good. Because Grammy Award-nominated Eric Church is hitting the Southland.
Riding the blazing hot heels off his number one album “Chief,” Church and his torrid band will perform at 8 p.m. on Nov. 4 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles and then on Nov. 8 at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
Church is in the middle of the biggest year of his singing and performing career.
Besides his million-selling album, Church’s number one single “Springsteen” was one of the biggest country songs of the year, and his current tour — the “Blood, Sweat, and Beers Tour” — has become one of the most popular of 2012.
The sudden rise in fame has not gone unnoticed.
“I told somebody, I said, ‘I feel like we were just in clubs last year,’ and then I said, ‘Wait a minute. We were in clubs last year,’” Church recalled. “It’s been a big jump. It’s been a fast rise since ‘Chief’ has come out, but it’s been one heck of a ride.”
Church has a chance to become the most decorated artist at this year’s Country Music Awards, as he leads the pack with five nominations: Male Vocalist, Album, Single, Song, and Video.
The award ceremony will air this Thursday, Nov. 1.
“It’s strange. It doesn’t feel like it’s happening to me. But it feels good. We’ve been doing this a long time, so it feels great to be nominated by your peers.”
When he hits Southern California, fans can expect a rousing, explosive concert as well.
Church’s reputation as a live performer is such that heavy metal gods Metallica hand-selected Church and his band to headline at their Orion Music Festival this past June. The festival was curated by the members of Metallica.
“(It was) scary,” Church admitted when asked what it was like to be the only country music artist at a festival full of mostly metal and hard rock acts.
“We were the band right before Metallica went on, on their stage, and the crowd was feeling us out. It helped that James Hetfield (Metallica’s lead singer) introduced us, but I think the turning point was when we played our new song ‘Jack Daniels.’ That’s when we knew we were OK.”
Church continued: “We kept it about the music. It was cool to see the crowd let the music be the main communicator, and not hold onto any prejudices and preconceived notions. We had a big opportunity to win, and I think we had the least to lose.”
Church is also a true musical artist — one who wants to see popular country music continue to grow and evolve.
“What we try to do — during the time we have and are relevant — is to take country music somewhere it’s never been. I feel that’s my job.”
“There’s a changing of the guard,” Church continued. “Genres and boundaries are gone — there are so many ways people get their music today. They’re listening to everyone.”
Church is seeing that “medley” in his fan base as well.
“I’m seeing a different crowd now — a different collection of people. Bikers, college kids, girls. What we’re doing is playing to that diverse audience. And we love it.”
To learn more, click here for concert information and tickets for both So Cal shows.
Chris Baptiste is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.