April 23, 2014

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Craig Morgan’s popularity growing

If you’re not familiar with country music singer Craig Morgan, odds are you will be real soon.

Not only did the Nashville native, known for his hits “Little Bit of Life,” “I Got You,” “Red­neck Yacht Club,” “Almost Home,” “Love Remembers,” “Bonfire” and “That’s What I Love About Sunday,” spend the spring opening for Carrie Underwood, but now the 10-year U.S. Army veteran has his own fishing-hunting show, “Craig Morgan All Access Out­doors,” which airs on the Out­door Channel.

Morgan views his extracurric­ular activities as serving a vital part in his career.

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“I’m having a blast, and I’m blessed,” said Morgan, calling from Mt. Vernon, Ohio. “What we’re doing right now is trying to connect the dots with peo­ple. We’ve been very fortunate.

I’ve had 14 or 15 top 20s, 12 top10s and we’ve had two No. 1s.

So we’ve had a lot of success, but we’ve had problems con­necting the dots. People know all of the music but they could­n’t really put the face with it.

“The TV show is helping a lot, and being on the road with Carrie Underwood put me in front of a lot of people who otherwise might not have seen me. … While I’m performing I read lips out there where peo­ple say, ‘I didn’t know he sang

that song.’ So yeah, we’re working, working hard, and we love what we do. We’re grateful for the fans and the opportunity and hope to be here for years to come.”

Whereas some artists — you know, those with egos the size of China — in the same situation would feel insecure, Morgan isn’t one of them.

Proud of his common man roots, this Army veteran who served overseas in Iraq’s “Operation Desert Storm” and Panama’s “Operation Just Cause,” boasts that he stays grounded by using his time offstage to just be a regular guy. While home, he mows his grass, works his farm, takes out the trash and helps his kids with their homework.

But make no mistake about it — Morgan hopes to go platinum with his next studio effort, which is due out early next year and will be the follow- up to 2008’s “That’s Why.”

Among his new songs is his favorite, the up-tempo “Chicken on the Bone.”

“We are playing a song or two from the next album right now to see what people think about it,” Morgan said. “I feel like this next album, because of the success that we’ve had, is going to step us up to the next level. I feel like there are a lot of award-winning songs.

We’ve won awards in the past and have been nominated for (Academy of Country Music awards), and I think this album really has the potential to secure some of those things.”

Morgan’s fans will get a chance to hear the new material and his old hits at the Lorain County Fair. Growing up, Morgan said attending the Tennessee State Fair was the big summer event. Furthermore, he can’t wait to play the Lorain County Fair, but he apologizes ahead of time to the food vendors selling devilish delights.

“I don’t eat the fair food,” Morgan said. “The only thing I have is the kettle corn. I work too hard to stay in shape. But I have to tell you, it’s really hard when you’re on stage and you smell that cotton candy or corn dogs. I have to finish my show and get on that bus and leave because I know I will be eating it up.”

Hypothetically speaking, if Morgan could indulge with impunity, what would be his choice of decadence?

“Oh, those apple dumplings with the vanilla bean ice cream on top,” Morgan said, laughing. “Lord, almighty, you pay for it.”

Craig Morgan is scheduled to perform 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Lorain County Fairgrounds Grandstand. Tickets are $20. For more information, visit www.loraincountyfair.com.

Contact John Benson at ididhear@aol.com.