Tim McGraw on Track With Next Album

Singer Spends Studio and Stage Time With Dancehall Doctors

While fans await the release of his new album later this year, Tim McGraw debuted new material during a recent fundraiser for a Nashville-area charity.

McGraw was in an especially charitable mood during the benefit that helped out the Boys & Girls Club of Williamson County. In addition to debuting some songs he plans to include on the new album, he also treated the crowd to an acoustic set of his well-stocked arsenal of hits.

Among the new songs is “Blank Sheet of Paper,” co-written by two of his friends, Brett and Brad Warren. The Warren Brothers, who watched from a nearby table in the audience, are one of the opening acts on McGraw’s summer tour.

For the second CD in a row, the singer is recording with his band, the Dancehall Doctors.

“Oh, their heads … they’re swelling man,” McGraw joked while talking to the media before the informal concert. “Darran [band leader-guitarist Darran Smith] can’t wear his hat anymore. I’m having to give him one of my hats. I’ve had more hits, but he’s had, as a producer, three No. 1’s now, and he’s asking for a raise. He wants his own bus. They want their own record now. I mean, we’ve got to get a record deal for these guys.”

The album is expected to be in stores Aug. 31. No title has been chosen, but McGraw says the first single should be out sometime in May.

“The album is close,” McGraw said. “We still have a few more songs to cut, and I’m still working on the vocals. But it’s going to be great. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Although he enjoys working in the studio, McGraw is more anxious to step out on stage again.

“You never grow up dreaming about playing guitar and being in the studio in this sterile environment,” McGraw said. “You always grow up dreaming about being on the road and slinging what hair you have at people and sweating, and that’s what I love to do the most.”

New Warner Bros. duo Big & Rich will join the Warren Brothers in kicking off the Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors Out Loud Summer Tour 2004 in Virginia Beach, Va., on June 11.

“It’s going to be a great tour,” McGraw predicted. “I like playing outside. The last time I played outside, I think, was when Kenny Chesney was opening the tour with me. It was a great time.”

Lately, though, McGraw has been busy acting in front of the camera. He’ll be featured with Billy Bob Thornton in Friday Night Lights, a film shot in Odessa, Texas.

“I would never see myself as a movie star, but if I can see some parts that I think that I can do well without screwing it up for everybody, then I’ll continue to try it,” McGraw said.

In Friday Night Lights, McGraw portrays the alcoholic father of a Texas high school football player.

“It was just a chance to get on screen and be somebody that nobody would directly point to and say that’s obvious it’s somebody I would play,” he said. “I hate seeing myself in this movie, especially the way I look in this movie.”

With a laugh, McGraw added, “There’s nothing attractive about the guy I play in this movie.”