So I wondered what it would be like for Smith to go from playing his own shows — packed with his own very loyal fans — to opening Bryan’s shows.
“We do a lot of shows on our own, but I definitely know my place in the world of country music,” Smith told me when he played a show in Chicago recently. “And being the first of three openers for Luke Bryan is definitely my place.”
Since Smith considers Bryan to be at the top of his game, he said, to be able to share a show with him is an honor.
“This is an absolute gift. To be able to share the fans, warm them up, and hopefully win them over is a big reason that I cannot wait for the tour,” he said.
My next questions was about Smith’s alter ego Earl Dibbles Jr. Would he show up at any of the Bryan shows?
“That’s up to Luke. Because it’s his show. When I was on the Florida Georgia Line tour, they always wanted Earl. They were adamant that he end the show. They’d say, ‘We have to have Earl,'” Smith said. “But if Luke has any reservations about Earl, we’ll respect that.”