Leesburg native Luke Bryan performs for fans at a recent concert. Bryan kicks off his new Farm Tour Oct. 3 in Claxton and will perform in Valdosta on Oct. 6.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Country music star Luke Bryan grew up in the heart of farm country, working at his father's Lee County agribusiness before following his musical dream to Music City.
So the development four years ago of Bryan's now beloved Farm Tour was no PR gimmick for the platinum-selling artist who is currently nominated for album ("Tailgates & Tanlines," which has been certified multiplatinum) and male vocalist of the year County Music Association awards.
The fourth edition of the Farm Tour will kick off Oct. 3 in tiny Claxton near Statesboro, and it will come even closer to home Oct. 6 when Bryan performs at the Coffee Weed Plantation in Valdosta.
"We started (the tour) three years ago, and it was just a situation where we wanted to start with a few dates and grow it to a number that we feel like we could manage and just have fun with," Bryan said at the conclusion of the 2011 tour, which sold 42,000 tickets at out-of-the-way venues in Clemson, S.C., Athens, Macon, Claxton, Valdosta and Carrollton.
The growing success of the tour led to an eight-date schedule for 2012: Oct. 3 in Claxton, Oct. 4 in Clemson, Oct. 5 in Auburn, Ala., Oct. 6 in Valdosta, Oct. 10 in Villa Rica, Oct. 11 in Colbert near Athens, Oct. 12 in Tallahassee, Fla., and Oct. 13 in Macon.
"I think going to a little ole rural market and setting up a big ole show and being the biggest thing to hit that town is fun," Bryan said in comments provided to The Herald by Schmidt Relations. "Each year it's gotten bigger and better. We're enjoying getting out in fields and playing some music."
Joining Bryan for the eight dates on the tour are singer/songwriters Dallas Davidson of Albany and Rhett Akins of Valdosta -- two-thirds of the Peach Pickers -- Chancie Neal and Cole Swindell.
The Farm Tour serves as a way of giving back to local farming communities and celebrating the American farmer. Proceeds from the concerts fund scholarships for students from a farming family attending local colleges near the venues.
"We're able to give a scholarship to the local college or a kid that grew up in an agriculture background or family," Bryan said. "The main thing I hope that kids that receive the scholarships is to have some money to help them out in school. I think it will allow them to dream bigger and have an opportunity at a great education."
Bryan also said his roots played a big role in planning the Farm Tour.
"Any time we get a chance to recognize that type of lifestyle -- farming lifestyle -- I always want to do that and pay homage to that type of lifestyle," he said. "It's very surreal to pick a field where there's some horse pastures and the next thing you know you have 8-9,000 people out there."
Crowds have grown in number and enthusiasm over the first three years of the Farm Tour.
"To watch it grow, there's nothing more rewarding as an artist," Bryan said. "We just want to continue to do it as long as we've got this vibe going on around it."
Tickets for the Coffee Weed show in Valdosta and for other stops on the Farm Tour are available by clicking on Bryan's website.