If you live in Charlotte and want to hear songs off of Jason Aldean’s new album, you basically have two options.
One is to get yourself to his “Six String Circus Tour” concert; as luck will have it, you can do just that next Thursday night, when the megastar closes out PNC Music Pavilion’s 2016 country-music season.
The only other way to hear “They Don’t Know” – which came out Sept. 9 and soared to No. 1 on the Billboard chart almost immediately – is to buy it. Not stream it. Buy it.
Aldean, 39, is once again withholding his latest CD from subscription-based streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify and even Jay-Z’s Tidal (we show slight surprise due to the fact that he is one of several part owners of it) due to his long-held contention that they shortchange the people responsible for making the music.
In November 2014, Aldean was among the first artists to follow Taylor Swift’s lead by withdrawing his catalog from Spotify. He relented a year later.
This time around, the singer has said the hiatus will last one month.
In explaining his decision to the Observer recently, he said: “What’s sometimes hard to deal with is when you have these streaming services that are making all this money off of our music, but not really wanting to pay it out like they should, to the people who are writing it, and recording it, and producing it. ... And it’s not about me myself trying to make more money. I make my money on the road, I don’t make it off the album sales, so it’s not something that’s gonna affect me in a huge way one way or the other. But there’s a lot of people that do count on that money to survive.
“Some people,” Aldean continued, “(just want to) pay 10 bucks a month and have unlimited access to a bazillion songs. Well, in reality, that 10 dollars is not gonna go and pay a bazillion writers and producers and artists and whoever else is involved in it. I mean, it’s pieces of a penny at that point – it’s not what it should be – and meanwhile the streaming services are making a ton of money off the music and advertising and everything else. ... Morally, it’s not right.”
Frustrations aside, though, Aldean should be coming to Charlotte in a pretty good mood: On the strength of “They Don’t Know’s” success, Billboard this week proclaimed him the top musical act in the United States; and although he was snubbed when the 2016 CMA Awards nominations came out last month, he is the reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year and was recently awarded the ACM’s Triple Crown award.
On top of that, his in-laws (Donald and Debbie Kerr) live in Charlotte; his wife, makeup artist Brittany Kerr, is a South Mecklenburg High School graduate who used to sing in the choir at Calvary Church on Pineville-Matthews Road. Aldean and Kerr married in 2015.
The former Charlotte Bobcats cheerleader makes a cameo in Aldean’s brand-new video for “A Little More Summertime,” but as his sweetheart, not as his singing partner.
“She still sings all the time,” Aldean said of Kerr, who caught Simon Cowell’s ear as a contestant on “American Idol” in 2012. “Now, (as for) her pursuing it as a career: I don’t know if she necessarily is trying to do that anymore. ... She’s a makeup artist, so she found her niche in that, and is focused on that.”
Aldean said he’s 99 percent sure Donald, a small-business owner, and Debbie, a dental hygienist, will attend the Charlotte show, and that Brittany should be there, too. (“She travels with me a lot,” he said. “The majority of the time.”)
They’ll be joined by about 20,000 other Jason Aldean fans at PNC Music Pavilion next Thursday night.
“I don’t know that you ever really get used to that (big of a crowd). It’s funny, because in the early days, we would play clubs and we maybe had 50 people watching us,” said Aldean, who cut his teeth at mid-sized venues like Charlotte’s Coyote Joe’s.
And speaking of that iconic Wilkinson Boulevard country-music bar, which also helped jump-start Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert: “I remember it was one of the first clubs that I played after I got my record deal, and it was one that we went back and played pretty often. It was always fun, and I remember the first time we sold it out. ... It’s a cool scene when there’s not room to fit one more person in a bar like that.
“So to go from that to what it is now – whether it’s an arena, or an amphitheater, or even a stadium – you walk out and it’s packed ... you know, it’s a good feeling, man. Like I said, I don’t know that you ever really fully get used to that. But you can’t take it for granted. It could be gone tomorrow, so you just try to enjoy it as much as you can.”
The country singer brings his “Six String Circus Tour” to Charlotte, hot on the heels of his return to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Artist 100 chart. He’ll play his biggest hits – including “Dirt Road Anthem” and “Burnin’ It Down” – in the hometown of his wife Brittany Kerr, a former Bobcats cheerleader. With Thomas Rhett and A Thousand Horses.
When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 29.
Where: PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd.
Details: 704-549-5555; www.livenation.com.