Luke Bryan Is Ready for Headliner Status During CMT on Tour

Roadwork With Lee Brice and Josh Thompson Begins This Week

Taking a cue from Luke Bryan's recent Top 10 single, chances are high a substantial number of "country girls" and guys are preparing to "shake it" this summer.

They'll soon get their chance.

CMT on Tour: Luke Bryan Tailgates & Tanlines kicks off Thursday (Sept. 15) at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, W.Va., with opening acts Lee Brice, Josh Thompson and CMT's Next Superstar winner Matt Mason. The first shows of the tour continue Friday at Terminal 5 in New York City and Saturday at the Utica Memorial Auditorium in Utica, N.Y.

"We're gonna get out there and try to kill it night in and night out and make a really, really big deal out of it," Bryan promises.

Having won an ACM award for top new artist in 2010, followed by USA Weekend breakthrough video of the year at the 2010 CMT Music Awards for "Do I," Bryan is a natural choice to serve as headliner for the 10th annual CMT tour. In doing so, he joins the ranks of Sugarland, Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and Trace Adkins.

"To partner with CMT just feels so right, and we're so excited to be a part of that tour," Bryan says.

He admits, "I think there's no better way to determine how you're doing out there than to step out there on a limb and start headlining."

Opening shows for Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts and Jason Aldean was an invaluable learning experience for Bryan as he sets out on this venture.

"When you tour with big acts, you learn the professionalism from those big acts and what they do on a day in and day out basis to get to where they are," he says. "My main thing is just taking what little things I learned about their tour and applying it to mine. It's such a nice kind of school to learn under to see those guys and to become friends with them and to even get to pick their brains on stuff."

In return, he hopes to do the same for his opening acts.

"While they're out with me, I'll do whatever I can to try to promote their artistry," he says. "I'll do everything in my ability to make them shine."

Bryan says he's been friends with Brice since moving to Nashville, and Thompson is "somebody I've always really looked up to."

He explains, "They're out there duking it out, working hard every day, touring and playing big night clubs and big shows and big festivals. Anytime you can have guys like that start kicking off the show and opening up for you, it's really flattering."

Bryan co-wrote eight of the 13 tracks on his third album, Tailgates & Tanlines, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's country albums chart. The project is a mix of coming-of-age tunes ("Too Damn Young," "Faded Away"), a shout-out to his upbringing in Leesburg, Ga. ("Muckalee Creek Water," "Harvest Time") and songs of heartache ("Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye," "Been There, Done That"). It also features the recent hit, "Country Girl (Shake It for Me)," and his new single, "I Don't Want This Night to End."

"What I love about this album is, each song, I love it like a child. I love it for its originality and what it does for the album," he says. "I'm more excited about this one for that reason."

Bryan scored consecutive No. 1 singles with "Do I," "Rain Is a Good Thing" and "Someone Else Calling You Baby" -- all of which he co-wrote. He's the first to admit conditions have to be just right in order for a song to truly make an impact.

"To be a songwriter and to have a hit is a series of miracles," he explains. "It's a miracle to write a great song. To get a song recorded is a miracle. To record it right is a miracle.

"You can write a great song, but that doesn't mean you're going make it sound like a hit. And to get radio to play it and get the fans to like it -- and then for it to be entering the charts -- there's a lot of things that have to happen."

Hits, of course, are the fuel that help propel an artist to headliner status.

"Anytime you can string together some really impactful hits, it's always so beneficial for your career," Bryan says. "We're on a little ride and having a blast with it."

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