It might be the title of his latest top 10 single and his sophomore album, but “All Over the Road” also makes for an accurate description of Easton Corbin’s life.
“I’ve definitely been all over the road. No pun to that. It’s all true,” the up-and-coming country music star said in a phone interview Monday from “up above Fresno, California, up here, up in the mountains,” where he was wrapping a trio of Cali dates before setting course for Texas and Oklahoma.
“Especially any time we get to play in Oklahoma or places like that, we have a lot of fun out there and we get a great response from the crowds. I’m definitely more of a traditional country artist, so I love to get that music out to as many people as possible.”
Like his new single “Clockwork,” the Florida native is preparing to release his as-yet-untitled third album in late summer or early fall, so his tour schedule is booked solid.
His slate includes his debut this weekend at the Tumbleweed Dance Hall’s storied Calf Fry, which continues Friday and Saturday at the venerable Stillwater venue.
Along with Corbin, the “testicle festival’s” Saturday lineup includes Charlie Robison, Jaida Dreyer and Lower 40.
On Friday, the Calf Fry will feature Josh Abbott Band, Jason Boland & The Stragglers, Corey Smith, Bart Crow and The Railers.
Marking “23 years of turning bulls into steers,” the festival fries up calf testicles along with a variety of country music.
Last year, the event served up a record 3,000-plus pounds of calf fries to more than 30,000 attendees, according to organizers, and the festival’s culinary aspect was featured on the Travel Channel.
“I haven’t played Calf Fry, but I’ve played a lot in Oklahoma over the years,” Corbin said. “I’ve heard it’s a big deal. ... That’s hard to beat: Music and good food.”
Although he’s never tried them, Corbin, 32, isn’t afraid of sampling the festival’s signature dish.
“Heck yeah, why not?” he said. “That don’t bother me. ... There’s probably a few people who know how to cook that there.”
After all, the singer-songwriter spent much of his childhood on his grandparent’s cattle farm in Gilchrist County, Fla., showed cattle in FFA and earned an agribusiness degree at the University of Florida. He recently performed at 12 different FFA chapters across the country as part of Ram truck brand’s celebration of the “Year of the Farmer.”
“It’s a great, great opportunity to give back to a great organization that I was a part of all growing up,” he said. “The local fair down there, that was always, all the kids got together from all three counties, and it was just a really fun time to hang out. Of course, you got a week off from school, so that was always good.”
He also developed his love of traditional country music on the farm, where “Hee Haw,” “Opry Backstage” and “Opry Live” were the TV programs of choice.
“That’s part of who I am and what I love. You know, I grew up loving Merle Haggard and George Jones and Keith Whitley and folks like that,” he said. “Ever since I’ve been small, it’s just really spoken to me.”
His neotraditional sound quickly spoke to a significant segment of country music fans, too: His 2010 self-titled debut spawned back-to-back chart-toppers with “A Little More Country Than That” and “Roll With It,” making him the first solo male artist in 17 years to have his first two singles hit No. 1. His third single, “I Can’t Love You Back,” made the top 15, and Billboard named Corbin the top new country artist of 2010.
His sophomore effort, 2012’s “All Over the Road,” yielded two more top 10 singles with the title track and “Lovin’ You Is Fun.” The Mercury recording artist said his label has fully supported his neotraditionalist sound, even as trends in country music have favored music heavily flavored with rock, pop and hip-hop.
“To see that, it just makes me wanna sing even more traditional country music to keep that alive, ’cause there just ain’t that much of it out there being represented,” he said.
His recent set at California’s massive Stagecoach Music Festival even playfully but firmly stated his musical position: His band played snippets of AC/DC’s “Back in Black” and Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven” before he led them into “I’m a Little More Country Than That.”
“Sometimes my band gets up there and messes with me a little bit. They’ll start playing some song and it’ll be like, ‘Nah, that’s not quite what I was talking about.’ I don’t actually do the whole song, it’s just part of a show,” Corbin said with a laugh.
“I think the important thing is making music that is traditional country music but it still has a fresh sound. I think people hunger for traditional country music, really, and there’s just not that much of it out there right now.”
People.com last week premiered the seductively heartbreaking video to “Clockwork,” the first single from Corbin’s upcoming third album. The relatable ballad about a man trying to get out of the cycle of a doomed romance was written by Easton’s longtime producer, Carson Chamberlin, along with Ashley Gorley and Wade Kirby.
“When I first heard the song, I was like, ‘You know what, this definitely shows some growth, ’cause it’s a little different from what I do, but it’s still me,’” he said.
He kept that goal in mind whether he was co-writing or seeking out songs for his upcoming record. Along with “Clockwork,” he promised to play some of the new tracks at the Calf Fry, although he decided to keep the other titles a surprise.
“As an artist, you have to keep growing,” he said. “I think that’s very important. You can’t stay stagnant. You’ve got to keep evolving. Still, with that evolution and developing, you’ve still gotta make music you believe in and that’s true to you.”
Calf Fry 2014
•Featuring: Easton Corbin, Josh Abbott Band, Jason Boland & The Stragglers and more.
•When: Friday and Saturday. Shows start at 6:30 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m.
•Where: Tumbleweed Dance Hall, Lakeview and Country Club roads, Stillwater.