Singer-songwriter Josh Turner has been criss-crossing the country on his 2013 Punching Bag Tour, which makes a stop at Seneca Allegany Casino’s Events Center in Salamanca, NY on Sunday, Sept. 8 at 5pm.
Turner’s career has earned him nominations for CMA, ACM and Grammy awards since his debut album, “Long Black Train,” as well as seeing his songs, “Your Man,” “Would You Go With Me,” “Why Don’t We Just Dance” and “All Over Me” hit number one status.
I spoke with Turner recently and asked him if there was a certain something or a specific time that made him realize he had made it … that he was a country music star. “When I made my Grand Ole Opry debut and got two standing ovations and an encore,” he recalled. “Also when my first record went platinum.”
“Punching Bag,” his fifth album, has been going strong since it’s debut a year ago and his tour of the same name is selling out wherever he goes. His music idols, which he calls his “Mount Rushmore” of country music, have definitely influenced his old school country sound. Country icons like Randy Travis, Bill Anderson, Johnny Cash, Vern Goslin and Hank Williams.
We talked about the scholarship fund he and his wife, Jennifer started, where he was the first time he heard his song on the radio and the heart tugging moment when he helped a young autistic man realize his dream - all of which you will read about in the conversation at right.
As far as what’s next for the country star, he says, “I’m in the process of writing new material and listening to the outside songs to try and unearth those hits I have inside of me, and those laying around out there somewhere, which for me is the hardest part of creating a new album.”
A CONVERSATION WITH JOSH TURNER
Interview By Melanie Hulick
HULICK:Have you played this area before?
TURNER:Yes, I have played in Western New York, but I know I haven’t been to this particular venue. There are a lot of great country fans in your area and I love coming that way.
HULICK:You’re newest album, “Punching Bag,” which is your 5th, has gotten rave reviews.
TURNER:Yes, I can’t complain at all. I’m very proud of this record. I wrote eight of the eleven songs, so you can really hear a lot of my heart, my personality and my artistry. My band’s really taken to it and the first single, “Time Is Love,” was the most played country song of last year. So we’ve had a lot of good things to celebrate.
HULICK:With this album you had said that a couple of words come to mind - confidence and fearless.
TURNER:You know honestly when the song ideas start coming and you end up writing good songs and finding good songs, I think that’s what really gives you the confidence and in turn that leads to being fearless while you are out there promoting them and sharing them with the fans. With this album I was fortunate enough to have a lot of good ideas come my way and we ended up capitalizing on that … and that’s hard to come by.
HULICK:I’d like to talk about the Josh Turner Scholarship Fund, which assists students interested in pursuing a future in arts/music.
TURNER:My wife and I started it back in 2005 with our own money and we’ve been watching this whole thing evolve over time. We know there are rural schools in this country that might not have a music program or music education at all to give students that particular foundation, but there’s still going to be that handful of students that have a passion and a dream to go into a career of such. We wanted to be able to assist those students in those schools that don’t have a budget for a band or a music program to go to the college of their choice and major in music or art. It’s a springboard to them achieving that. It’s not just about being able to sing or play an instrument - take my daddy for instance … he can’t carry a tune in a bucket and he can’t play an instrument, but he was really good at music classes at school and he’s always been a music lover. Without the music lovers, we musicians aren’t going to have a job. (laughs) I think the reason he was so good in music classes is because he’s mathematically minded. It’s been proven that music and math go hand in hand, so the ones that do well in music tend to do well in math and vice-versa, except for me. I completely broke the mold on that because I stunk at math. (laughs)
HULICK:(laughs) I think there are still people out there that don’t understand how important it is for our kids to be able to have music programs available to them and how music really ties everything together in your life. I think a perfect example of that is when you invited a young man named Logan Blade, who is autistic, up on stage to sing with you at the Grand Ole Opry. He has issues in his normal everyday life, but when you put that microphone in front of him he was perfectly fine in communicating through the music.
TURNER:Yes, it was amazing to watch first-hand, because of what you just said … he had apparent issues when he was in a regular social environment, but when he stepped up to the mic it was just miraculous. It was amazing to watch that and to see how music had changed him. You know, that’s my hope for anybody and everybody, that they will hear my music and be changed in some way for the better, whether it’s giving somebody a little bit of joy or bringing a little hope to their lives.
HULICK:Where were you the first time you heard your first song on the radio?
TURNER:I was actually with my wife heading to my hometown in South Carolina and we were about 30 or 40 minutes away and I heard my song, “Long Black Train” come on my hometown radio station. It was such an emotional moment that I had to pull off the highway and get myself together because the tears started flowing. I just couldn’t believe that it was happening! It was so surreal because I had been listening to that station and all the artists, dreaming of what it would be like to be in that mix and when I finally got to hear my song in that context it was very emotional and exciting at the same time.
HULICK:Describe for me your perfect day.
TURNER:Oh man … wow … that’s a good question. My perfect day would be where I just feel good, I’m with my family, I’m at home and the weather’s great and we just do whatever we want to.