It seems every male country act is opening a bar as a sideline these days; just check out Lower Broadway right now. But, if music ever takes a back seat for Curtis Grimes, he’s more likely to be found distributing bibles than bourbon.
I should’ve expected such wholesomeness from his ‘entourage’. Before I met Curtis I’d already been allowed first through a doorway by a gent in a white Stetson who actually called me “m’am”. Turns out this was Curtis’s dad, who later advised me “if he ain’t acting right, you let me know”. He needn’t have worried, Curtis is a model interviewee.
We’re on a slouchy brown leather sofa in a tent behind the main stage at Buckle and Boots festival, and Curtis is far better than me at ignoring the huge fly taking an obsessive interest in our conversation.
It’s Texan Curtis’s first trip to the U.K. Apart from our freak heatwave, his biggest surprise about Brits so far is the lack of kilts being worn around Scotland (he’s wearing a Scottish Country Mafia badge, having played in Fife). It dawns on him that it’s just a stereotype played up in the tourist areas;
“it’s probably like people thinking everyone in Texas wears hats and has a horse”.
Although, he is wearing a hat (albeit a baseball cap) and when not on stage at concert venues, he sings at cowboy churches. These are common throughout Texas Curtis tells me;
“it’s a church where rodeo guys, farmers and ranchers can feel comfortable…
…It’s real casual, they can go dressed like this [he points at his own jeans and checked shirt while I make a note to visit a cowboy church ASAP] or even show up with clothes still covered in cow pats.”
The church talk leads us to the last song of the set he’s just performed, Born to Die. It’s akin to a classic hymn and Curtis breaks from the party line to tell me “this is the most important song for me, the one I want everyone to hear”. It’s refreshing honesty since he’s supposed to be promoting the current single Put My Money on That, not this one which has already topped the Texas Country Music charts. I tell him it’s OK, over here we’re album people rather than singles.
Both songs feature on his album Undeniably Country, the first record he’s had full creative control over. It’s brought him great success on the Texas country music scene but he’s hoping the gospel album he just finished recording a fortnight ago will do even greater things.
From the outside it appears that his career is working in reverse. After finding fame on TV show The Voice and a place in the charts, the college baseball player turned country singer has moved out of Nashville and back to Texas. But this was a very deliberate decision.
“I was raised in rural Texas and I want my new baby daughter to grow up where I did”.
It’s one of many moments in our chat which shows fame is not Curtis’s priority.
“It’s great that music pays my bills but I want to use it for a greater purpose.”
For today though, entertaining festival revellers on a farm outside of Manchester seems purposeful enough to me. His set took me back to the type of country music which reigned when I first fell in love with the genre. “I grew up on George Strait and Alan Jackson” he says.
Those early influences show when he plays and so I’d recommend Curtis Grimes to fans of Strait, Randy Travis and Mo Pitney.
Curtis is finishing his 2018 U.K. tour on 29th June at Buck ‘n’ Bull, a highly recommended country night out in London.
Did you catch any of Curtis’s live shows? Let us know what you thought, below.