Country star Randy Houser has had a busy year.
He just wrapped up a tour with Gary Allan and Jerrod Niemann and is starting a sting of solo gigs.
He hits the stage at 6 tonight during WRBT-FM's (BOB 94.9) Toys for Tots benefit concert at The Field House, 895 Old Trail Road, Newberry Township.
He was nominated for Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association awards and, in June, he shared the stage with Kid Rock at the CMT Music Awards show.
In September, his album "They Call Me Cadillac" debuted in the Top 10 on Billboard's country albums chart.
Yes, Houser said in a recent interview that "Cadillac" is indeed his nickname.
Where are you calling from: I'm in Macon, Ga. I'm playing a club called Whiskey River tonight (Dec. 10).
How was the tour with Gary Allan and Jerrod Niemann? We had a blast. (Allan) likes to have fun. Usually, the last show of the tour is really exciting. During the last show, we surprised (Allan). I had a big Saint Bernard costume and Jerrod had a Spider-Man outfit. We wore those on stage trying to mess with him.
You've been to a few award shows recently. What were they like? The last one I was at was the ACM awards. It was awesome. Those are huge nights for country music and so many fans are watching. I remember watching the shows as a kid and wishing I could just sit in the audience. Now that I get to play (at the ceremony), it's kind of weird.
Who were you rooting for when you watched the award shows as a kid? Hank Williams Jr. For a few years, he was winning everything. And Vince Gill. I was such a huge fan.
How did you get interested in music? My dad was a musician. He got me started when I was a baby. (I knew I wanted to be a performer) when I was probably 5 years old. As soon as I saw my dad playing with a band, I knew what I wanted to do. I remember growing up wondering what other kids lives were like because they didn't know what they wanted to do when they grew up.
The benefit tonight is for Toys for Tots. Is that charity special to you? The last few years, I've done a lot of Toys for Tots benefits. Usually, the benefits we do are pre-planned (by the radio stations) and, as artists, we're game to help out. I support several charities (including) Saint Jude (Children's Research Hospital), Fisher House (Foundation), Shriners (Hospitals for Children). Make-A-Wish (Foundation) is another big one I support.
Have you been to Central Pennsylvania before? I'm sure I have. Harrisburg is a cool town. I'm pretty sure I've been to York. After a while, it kind of blurs together. (Laughs)
What are your thoughts about "They Call Me Cadillac"? I think it's a great record. I really think it's something that definitely reflects . . . the past couple years. The songs and things I wrote about reflect . . . my life. That's where it has to all start.
What are you up to during the next few months? I'm going to take a little time off for Christmas. I'm not sure yet where I'll be. I kind of fly by the seat of my pants. I'm sure I'll see my family, but I don't know if I'll come to them or they'll come to me.
What do you want for Christmas? Rest. (Laughs)
Besides rest, what do you like to do on your downtime? I like to ride my motorcycle a lot. It keeps me out of the house, and I can be by myself for a while. (I have a) Harley-Davidson Road King Classic. (While touring), you live on adrenaline. The thing that excites me is playing music. I like being on the road more than I do home. I don't do so well sitting still.
Are you working on any new songs? I have been writing a lot more songs and getting ready to record again . . . in the middle of January. I'm always itching to record.
- ERIN McCRACKEN, FLIPSIDE STAFF
Another country show
Travis Tritt will perform at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21 at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St., York.
Tickets cost $25, $34 and $39. They are on sale for Strand members and go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday for the public.
Tickets are available at the Strand box office, by phone at 846-1111 or online at www.strandcapitol.org.
In the '90s, Tritt had a string of platinum albums and three No. 1 hits.
For details, visit www.travistritt.com.
For details about Randy Houser, visit www.randyhouser.com.
To read more meet-the-artist interview, visit www.strandcapitol.org.