Jon Pardi: Backstage at ACM Awards

“I Just Keep the Peace”

If you want to criticize any of the pop, hip-hop or dance influences you hear in country music, just don’t do it in front of Jon Pardi.

After being presented the new male vocalist trophy at Sunday night’s (April 2) Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas, he came backstage to talk about the kind of music he’s making and why he’d never bash any other artist’s music.

“I will never, ever speak out against somebody who is living the dream and doing what they want to do, because that’s what I’m doing,” Pardi said. “I’m mixing country with kind of a modern twist to it.

“So I just keep the peace. Because in my mind, I’m just a guy playing country music.”

Pardi cites Dwight Yoakam as an influence.

“I love traditional country music, and I feel like there’s a need for it and a want for it,” he said. “But I enjoy everybody in country music.”

You’re missing out, he thinks, if you don’t mix pop with some fiddle and steel guitar to get an old school sound that’s progressive.

As for Pardi’s ACM Awards performance of his hit song “Dirt on My Boots,” he pointed out that during the three-hour show, his band was the only one with a fiddle player.

“I think I was the only guy with a fiddle in the band tonight. I can play in Texas now,” he joked in reference to Alabama’s 1984 “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band).”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.