On Tuesday night (Feb. 10), Dustin Lynch will take the stage in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to kick off Luke Bryan’s tour.
But Lynch didn’t exactly take the traditional path to get there. You know the one: Sing in church. Buy a pawn-shop guitar. Move to Nashville. Play for tips. Sign a record deal. Isn’t that how it usually goes?
It’s never this: Get a C in high school music class. Go to college on a golf scholarship. Get accepted into medical school. Sign a record deal.
But that was Lynch’s one-off path into the world of country music.
First, there was that C.
“I loved singing, but when I got that C in music, it was a good thing. I’m glad that happened because it gave me an out to stay at home and play guitar,” Lynch told me when he was in Chicago recently. “But once I started to play guitar, I had to learn how to play and sing at the same time. The first song I mastered was Randy Travis’ ‘Forever and Ever, Amen,’ but it took forever.”
Then there was college. Lynch went to Lipscomb University in Nashville on a golf scholarship and found ways to sneak a little music into his life on campus.
“We had a midnight curfew because it was a Church of Christ school, so we had to be in bed at 12,” he said. “We couldn’t drink, either. So we’d sign out like we were going to visit family, and we’d go crash at a Vanderbilt (University) dorm, so we could go to a frat party and then come back the next day.”
But Lynch couldn’t have been partying too hard. He obviously learned enough to get a 28 on his MCATs (Medical College Admission Test) and was accepted into the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis.
Lynch wanted to be a surgeon.
But then he had that turning point that put the little voice in his head telling him country music might be a better career route.
“It killed my parents. They still bought me scrubs for my birthday, even after I decided not to go to med school,” Lynch admitted about his tough decision to put his doctor dreams on the back burner.
“But things were happening. I had started playing college bars and frat parties, and I had a good following all around the Southeast. And I was making $2,000 on a Friday night. That’s a lot of money for a college kid.”
Then one night, he and his buddies bought lottery tickets.
“We were talking about what we’d do if we won. Like buy a helicopter and this and that. And I said, ‘If I win, I’m still gonna go and play at that UT Knoxville frat party,’” Lynch recalled. “That was the turning point for me — that if I have more money than I know what to do with and I still want to go play a frat party, I should keep playing my music.”