To say this is the moment Ricky Gunn has been waiting his entire adult life to experience would qualify as a vast understatement.
The Columbus native, who began pursuing his dream of becoming a major country music performer two decades ago, is poised to release his first full-length album Friday, a polished 13-song production recorded at the esteemed Blackbird Studio in Nashville, Tenn.
“It’s been a long time coming and I finally get to let everybody else hear what’s been in my heart for the past couple of years,” said Gunn of the album, titled “Livin’ Like Me,” a project he began working on 2½ years ago. “I’m just really excited to get it out.”
Aside from the release of the video and cut from the record, “King of This Town,” a few months ago, Gunn and his band have simply been going about their business, playing steadily in clubs and at various events. On Saturday, they will be performing in the plaza at Turner Field in Atlanta, before the Braves’ game against the Chicago Cubs.
Of course, with the release of “Livin’ Like Me,” the Shaw High graduate, who cut his musical teeth in Columbus karaoke venues, knows he faces a very competitive landscape. Also on Friday, country legend Alan Jackson’s first album in three years, “Angels and Alcohol,” hits store shelves. And Luke Bryan’s latest, “Kill the Lights,” is out Aug. 7.
“That’s the thing with this business is we’re going to be up against heavy hitters,” Gunn said. “You know, we’re just going to do what we do and keep out there plugging away, man. I think the album will do what it’s supposed to do on its own.”
It doesn’t hurt that the country artist’s record company, Nashville-based New Canvas Entertainment, put their budding star in position to succeed by laying down the album’s tracks at the well-equipped and high-tech Blackbird Studio.
A who’s who of country, rock and pop performers and bands have recorded music at the facility, including Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Bruce Springsteen, Kings of Leon, Brooks and Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Willie Nelson, Taylor Swift and The White Stripes.
Gunn’s new album also is available on iTunes, and there are plans for a “Livin’ Like Me” video. And it doesn’t appear he and the band are taking much of a deep breath before heading back into the studio for more songs on a second album. There also are hopes for landing as a “special guest” opener on a major country act’s U.S. tour.
Here is the song list on Gunn’s new album: “Out in the Country,” “Livin’ Like Me,” “Georgia Backroads,” “Drink ‘Til We Are,” “Don’t You Wanna Know,” “King of This Town,” “Wild One,” “She’s Outta Control,” “The Good Life,” “As Good As It Gets,” “Heartbreak I’m Working On,” “‘Til the Fight Is Gone,” and “Tonight I Broke the Bottle.”
Country performer Ricky Gunn discusses his career journey, what it’s like for him to write a song, and why he wants his music to remain closer to traditional country rather than the slicker country-pop flavor that is now hot in Nashville.