Tucson is getting a double-dose of Nashville this weekend, starting with Gary Allan on Saturday, Dec. 3.
Rising newcomer Lauren Alaina (“Road Less Traveled”) follows up Monday, Dec. 5, headlining the KIIM 99.5-FM Penny Pinch Concert at The Wreck to benefit the Arizona Children’s Foundation. It will be the first time Alaina, a 22-year-old former “American Idol” finalist, has played Tucson.
Allan, who celebrates his 49th birthday two days after his Tucson show, is a regular to Tucson stages, and always he’s always here about this time of year. He tries to end his year on the West Coast, near his native California and Vegas, where the National Finals Rodeo is held every December.
We caught up with him in Nashville on the Monday before Thanksgiving to talk about his show and his highly anticipated 10th career album. He has finished recording it, but the project has been stalled in record label drama — he switched labels midstream from MCA Nashville to EMI — and missed opportunities for more than a year.
“I have no idea when it’s going to come out. They’ll want something in the top 10 so I have no idea what they’re going to do,” Allan lamented.
The album’s troubles include the release in spring 2015 of what was billed as the first single, the bluesy pop song “Hangover Tonight.” The song never broke into the Top 40.
“It’s just way different. And I love getting outside of the box, and I do it on every record,” Allan said.
Six months ago, he switched labels and in May released a second single from the album, “Do You Wish it Was Me?” The song was picked up by radio in phases with a handful playing the song in heavy rotation. By the time the rest of country radio caught on, the song was on its chart decline.
Which brings Allan, who is celebrating his 20th year in country music, to a bit of a standstill.
He said he’s frustrated “big time, because I’m still trying to get the same album out, and I feel like I can’t move on.”
“We’re trying to figure it out, how we’re going to do this together,” he added.
Until they figure it out, Allan will do what he loves most:
“I love playing. I love watching people cry during my shows because you know that you’re right in the middle of a moment with them,” said the father of three adult children. “If you’ve been through a lot of heartache, you like my stuff. There’s lots of things I could have done that’s more fluffy, and I could have had a lot more success, but I don’t think I would have had near the integrity or be as happy with what I’ve done.”
About Lauren Alaina: The Georgia native was still in her teens when she finished second in the 2011 “American Idol” contest. Within months she released her first album “Wildflowers,” which debuted at No. 5 on Billboard’s Top 200 and sold 69,000 copies the first week. The first single “Georgia Peach” went as high as 28 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart.
Her latest single is the empowering “Road Less Traveled,” which hit No. 19 on the charts last summer.