News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 10, 2010

Country star Josh Gracin to top summer music lineup at Fairbanks Park

Mark Bennett
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Music on the riverside is nothing new in Terre Haute.

The concept, carried out most often at the Fairbanks Park amphitheater on the banks of the Wabash River, hit high gear during the past decade. Nationally known artists such as Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits, America, Monkees lead singer Davy Jones, The Association, Gary Puckett and Sawyer Brown all took the stage during festivals there. It’s also home to the Terre Haute Community Band on selected nights each summer.

And, Terre Haute radio station WTHI-FM 99.9 (better known as Hi99) presents its annual Summer Bash on July 22, along with co-sponsors Old National Bank and ServPro. That night, country artists Josh Gracin, Brady Seals and Sarah Darling will perform in a free concert, beginning at 7 o’clock.

Rivers make good backdrops for a show, Gracin said.

“I’ve done quite a few riverside venues,” he said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “There’s usually a boat in the background, and people come right up to the stage. It’s a setting for a very good time, and a very fun time. I’m looking forward to it.”

He recently completed a new album, “She’s a Different Kind of Crazy,” due to be released this fall. One single, “Over Me,” has already hit radio airwaves, and a second, “Cover Girl,” should come out soon, he said.

But the 29-year-old from the Detroit suburb of Westland, Mich., is best known for his fourth-place finish on “American Idol” in 2003, the show’s second season. He followed that up with three Top 10 country hits — “I Want to Live” (No. 4), “Nothin’ to Lose” (No. 1) and “Stay with Me (Brass Bed)” (No. 5). That trio of songs came from his 2004 debut album “Josh Gracin,” the same year he completed a four-year stint in the Marine Corps. His follow-up CD “We Weren’t Crazy” spawned five Top 40 tunes, though none cracked the Top 10.

With his latest album, Gracin has shifted from his previous label, Lyric Street Records, to a new one, Average Joe’s.

Now, he’s writing or co-writing all of his own songs. There’s a touch of his Detroit roots, blended with country.

“Being on Lyric Street, they never would’ve let me do anything near this,” Gracin said.

Gracin grew up listening to Motown and rock acts, but caught the country bug at age 12 when his favorite station changed its format to that genre. The sound of Garth Brooks caught his attention. Why? “Just the fact that it was different,” Gracin explained. “It wasn’t like the country music that was on the radio [before].”

Right now, he’s also trying to distinguish himself from other sounds on country radio. “That’s going on today, where everything is starting to mash together and you can’t tell one from the other,” Gracin said.

Thus, “She’s a Different Kind of Crazy” will be a blend, written by Gracin. “I would say the whole album is very R&B and rock influenced,” he said. “The songs soar,” while the lyrics tell a stories, country style.

As Gracin spoke by phone from Nashville, Tenn., his kids could be heard in the background. He and his wife have four children. “It’s definitely very tasking, especially with an 8-year-old daughter asking for ice cream while I’m on the phone,” he joked.

As for the label change, a new album of originals and an upcoming tour, Gracin said, “It’s a little nerve-wracking, but at the same time it’s exciting. I’m interested in how it’s going to turn out.”

Mark Bennett can be reached at (812) 231-4377 or mark.bennett@tribstar.com.