Make-shift music crafted up in an adjacent corner to the green-room. Curious, Colt Ford follows the party of percussion in a backstage hall of Brewsky’s in Hattiesburg, Miss.
“Yeah!” Ford exclaimed, clacking his boots to the beat. Echos of emoji hearts flowed over an iPhone screen-- Ford logged in to an engaging session of Instagram live with 211,000 of his closest friends. “I just love music. I love playing. I’ve played growing up in between songs. My crew guy is holding a trash can. Whatever, whenever, I like the chance to play music for people.”
Ford has had Bowling Green people on his mind for nearly seven years now and performs Sunday as the closing headliner of Vette City Motorcycle Music Fest. It will wrap with afternoon performances by Louisiana Swamp Donky at 2:20 and Ford at 3:30.
“I got a really special place in my heart for Bowling Green,” Ford said, recalling his last set visit with friend and collaborator Jason Aldean.
Today, Ford hauls an average of 150 national tour dates annually. His pace, paused for fans selfie requests while departing the venue, is an image pulled out of an academy award winning picture. The pitch black shades married to the intimidation of the renowned cowboy hat, he smiles. “I hadn’t been out very long, so it was very different for me. There was a big crowd and they just embrace me. They were so good to me...I just fell in love with the way they embraced me and showed me love,” Ford said, recalling his last visit to Bowling Green.
The love is bountiful, worldwide. Colt built a series of staggering successes surfing to mainstream notoriety. He notched five consecutive Top 10 debuts on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart with Declaration of Independence bowing at number one in 2012. Two years later, Thanks for Listening ascended to the Top 10 of the Top 200, with the album reaching number one on Billboard Rap & independent charts.
Ford, on second-nature, gives a single “thank you” to fans down domino-esq lines. And among many accolades, sold over three million albums, attracting millions of followers on social media and hitting more than one billion streams. Aptly, like his seventh and eighth albums, he’s for the people. “I don’t get it when I see artists not wanting to take a picture, not wanting to sign. We’re all busy and that’s cool, but we play music, none of us are neurosurgeons...The fans are what make all this possible. So I just love the opportunity and every night I get to do that.”
We The People, Volume 1 [2019 and release Sept. 20] and We The People, Volume 2 , Ford, a founding father of his genre, once again tossed the rule book out the window, perfecting his dynamic and definitive distillation of country, hip-hop, and rock on nearly 30 songs.
“The single, “We The People” and the whole album-- to me, where I’m at in my life, I look at what’s going on in the country and the divisiveness and all the finger pointing... It’s like, let’s just find a common ground with each other. Let’s be good human beings. Let’s have common decency. It’s not as difficult as we made it out. Let’s just go enjoy this music,” Ford said.
It doesn’t stop; you’re listening to him, when you’re not. Ford co-wrote Jason Aldean’s #1 hit “Dirt Road Anthem” and Brantley Gilbert’s number one hit “Country Must Be Country Wide. He is a behind-the-scenes force in the studio.
Vette City Motorcycle Music City Fest, launched last year by the Daily News and radio station WDNS (D93), this year features 25 total bands and a host of other activities starting Thursday for a kickoff party at the Harley-Davidson dealership on Cumberland Trace Road. Music and fun Festivities continue three more days at its new location, Edge Hill Farm at 13101 Louisville Road in Oakland. Rock band Puddle of Mudd (Friday headliner), hard rock Jackyl (Saturday headliner).
“...When I saw the chance to come back, I saw the festival (Vette City Motorcycle Music Fest) and was like ‘damn...absolutely, I’m about that,” Ford said “...In the full record, I didn’t do a whole ‘thank you.’ I just wrote ‘I’m the luckiest man alive’ because I get to do this. I get to play music every day and people come to see it. It means something to them and they all tell me their story. I want to hear that stuff. I love that. I want to hear it means something to ya because it means something to me.”
He is a trailblazer for collaborations.The country star’s dynamic discography spans collaborations with everyone from Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban and Jermaine Dupri to members of No Doubt, Lit.
“...It’s fun, It’s interesting. The fans like seeing different artists work together and do things. Get managers and record labels and everybody out the way and let the artist be artist. Put artists together that are like-minded or know who they are. If they know who they are, you can put me in the room with another artist and I don’t care who it is. That could be Jay-Z, Five Finger Death Punch, The Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift, I promise you, if people get out the way, we’ll make a cool song. I don’t tell you it’ll be a hit number one, but it will be something cool. And that’s fun to me. I would love to do that.”
Other multiple musicians to perform at Vette City Motorcycle Music Fest include Saliva, Trapt, Saving Abel, Tantric. The kick-off party for Thursday will feature Kyle Daniel along with Dustin Lee Benefield and Kentucky rock bands Wolf Island Kosmonauts and Gravel Switch at Harley Davidson dealership . It will include food vendors, beer garden and tethered hot-air balloon rides.
More information about the music fest, schedule of events, activities and tickets can be found at vcmmf.com website.
“If you wanna enjoy some music, have some fun, and forget about all that bull----t for a while, then you need to come see me,” Ford said. “ ‘Cause that’s where it’s at!”