Top country stars to play Palace tonight
If you go: Country music act Craig Morgan, with special guest Gloriana, will play at 7 tonight at the Corn Palace. Tickets are $40 and are available at the Corn Palace box office at 995-8430.
Craig Morgan describes himself as a “bit of a survivalist.”
“I taught it in the military,” he said.
Maybe that’s what helped the soldier-turned-singer make it in the country music business, chart 15 top-10 singles and gain induction into the Grand Ole Opry.
“I spent better than one-third of my life in the Army. It’s a big part of my life,” Morgan said. “The term is ‘once a soldier, always a soldier.’ I attribute our work ethic and a lot of the things that we do to those things that I learned in the military.”
Morgan, with special guest Gloriana, will hit the Corn Palace stage at 7 tonight as the third night of entertainment during the Corn Palace Festival.
Corn Palace Director Mark Schilling said about 1,200 tickets have been sold for Craig Morgan and Gloriana, which is slightly below projections.
“We’re still hoping for a good number of day-of sales,” he said. “I’d like to see if we can get to that 1,500 number.”
This week’s shows have a 2,600- to 2,700-seat capacity, but Schilling said staff will likely remove a few seats on the floor because they won’t need them, which will allow for more room for those who do attend.
Morgan’s hit singles include “That’s What I Love About Sunday,” “Redneck Yacht Club,” “International Harvester” and “Bonfire,” all of which celebrate the idylls of small-town, country living. His latest album, “This Ole Boy,” was a Top 5 debut on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart.
Even more than his hits, Morgan said one of the highlights of his career was being inducted into Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, country music’s most famous stage, in 2008.
“In my opinion there’s no greater honor that can be bestowed on a country singer,” Morgan said. “It represents our format greater than no other. That’s the Special Forces of country music, right there, in my opinion.”
As a veteran of the Army, it’s not a comparison Morgan makes lightly. According to his website, Morgan spent 10 years on active duty in the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions serving multiple overseas assignments, plus another nine years in the reserves. Since leaving the military, Morgan said he has continued to support veterans at home and abroad, and was awarded the 2006 USO Merit Award. He’s a proud supporter of Folds of Honor, which provides scholarships for dependents whose parents have been killed in action.
In addition to his successful music career, Morgan has turned his love of the outdoors into his own TV show, “Craig Morgan’s All Access Outdoors” on the Outdoors Channel.
“We’ve been really blessed with a lot of success with that show,” Morgan said. “I love the outdoors, in particular hunting and fishing.”
Morgan said the show features escapades ranging from skydiving to deep sea diving to the Fjallraven Polar in April, a five-day, 200-mile dog sled experience in northern Scandinavia -- an experience Morgan said was “colder than a well-digger’s butt.”
“I have two full-time jobs that most people would give their left arm to do either one of,” he said. “I don’t take it for granted. Every day is a blessing in our world, and we appreciate it.”
Morgan’s TV show paved the way for his first true acting roles in 2012, which included parts on “Army Wives” and “Rizzoli and Isles.” Now, Morgan said he’s working on a movie.
“I just wanted to try it. I felt like I did it and managed to do it well, and it was something else I could do that would bring attention to my music.”
Morgan jokes that it was a natural next step for someone who had “been acting like a country singer for 10 years.”
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “The only difference is, when I get on stage, it’s the same guy as I am at home.”
Morgan said people can expect that authenticity during his show, which might include a preview of a single from his new album, expected to release in September, and some of his hits.
“If we can keep our drummer clothed, it will be a good show,” he said with a laugh. “We just have a lot of fun.”Gloriana
But fans won’t just be treated to Morgan’s musical stylings; they’ll also see rising stars Gloriana, comprised of Rachel Reinert and brothers Tom and Mike Gossin.
“We’ve worked with them in the past, quite a bit,” Morgan said. “A good group, nice people. We’ve always had fun working with them.”
Tom Gossin agreed, saying Craig Morgan was one of the first people Gloriana opened for. That the group is now headlining its own shows, Gossin said, is “everything we ever hoped for.”
“It’s totally like a dream come true for us,” he said. “We all worked really hard for it.”
And, they’re excited to play the Corn Palace.
“It’s got a lot of history. I’m excited to play in it,” Gossin said, adding it seems like a good combination of two things he enjoys. “I like corn. I like palaces.”
Along with Morgan, Gloriana spent almost two years on a first major tour with mega-star Taylor Swift.
“It was a good thing for us every night to really pick up some helpful tips on where to go,” Gossin said. “She’s a good showman. She’s a great performer. So it was really cool having a mentor like that.”
Now, Gloriana has several accomplishments of its own, including the popular singles “(Kissed You) Good Night” and “Can’t Shake You,” and being named the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Vocal Group in 2010.
One of the ways Gloriana has distinguished itself is through songwriting; every song on its “A Thousand Miles Left Behind” album, released in 2012, was written or co-written by one of the band’s members.
“Every song has a real life story that one of us has been through,” Gossin said. “I think when you make your songs personal like that, people like that.”
“Can’t Shake You,” explores one of Gossin’s own personal experiences, and writing it helped him get through a breakup.
“That’s why I love writing music,” he said. “For me, it’s my favorite part of the whole process. You take in all these life experiences the same way everybody else does, but it’s my job to come up with a clever way to talk about them with a good tune. I love that.”
And, touring with his brother isn’t so bad, either.
“People kind of get weirded out by us because they say we get along too well,” he said with a laugh. “We’re really different guys, so I think that helps. We don’t get in each other’s way.”