Luke Combs Is Putting His Name Behind Independent Country
When making the case for the character of someone, it’s not just about how they rise to the top, but what they do when they get there. In the case of Luke Combs, he’s been using his platform and his time off of the road during the pandemic to promote and collaborate with some of the best artists in the independent country and roots realm.
Right now there’s nobody bigger in country music than Luke Combs, only rivaled by the surging success of Morgan Wallen. But he hasn’t been using his newfound prominence to hobnob with P-Diddy and Post Malone, or give tabloid publications fodder through leaked stories of his personal life. To keep his name in the press, he’s been putting out promotional singles beyond his radio singles to continue to seed and satiate his surging fan base.
When Luke Combs revealed he’d written what has become one of the signature country songs during the COVID-19 shutdown in “Six Feet Apart” with independent country songwriters Brent Cobb and Rob Snyder, we were pretty surprised. But perhaps we shouldn’t have been. Earlier in his career, Luke Combs regularly collaborated with others, including releasing a couple of promotional singles with Leon Bridges in 2018, where Leon appeared on a version of Luke’s “Beautiful Crazy,” and Luke on Leon’s song “Beyond.”
In mid September, Luke Combs released another promotional single with Amanda Shires called “Without You.” Again, it seemed like a surprise pairing, until you recalled that Amanda also played fiddle for Luke Combs on the 2019 ACM Awards.
Luke Combs also made a big stink about the Texas music supergroup Hill Country, and their new, self-titled record, tweeting out “I just can’t stop listening to this Album, it just strikes every chord that I want it to. The melodies, the harmonies, the instrumentation, and the songs. All just grade A. Y’all check this record out.” (Editor’s note: Hill Country has now changed their name to Wilder Blue.) Luke Combs later said he heard about the band while reading Saving Country Music. Who knew Luke was so attune with what was going on in independent country?
And these Luke Combs collaborations and shout outs aren’t just perfunctory or performative. They’re putting attention behind these artists, and cash money in their pockets. “Six Feet Apart” became a Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, and even hit #36 at radio without any promotion behind it. “Without You” with Amanda Shires hit #15 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs upon debut, and is being used to promote the upcoming deluxe edition of Luke’s latest album What You See Ain’t Always What You Get out October 23rd.
Then on October 1st, bluegrass maestro Billy Strings tweeted out (and Luke retweeted) that they were in a writing session together. Maybe something magical will come of it, maybe it won’t. But the fact that Luke Combs is working with what many consider one of the most talented musicians of our time is another sign that not only is he willing to work with important independent artists, but that he’s paying close attention.
You mention the name “Luke Combs” among the independent country and roots set, and you apt to hear some grumbles, like you will with most any mainstream country star. But Luke Combs doesn’t reciprocate. He’s listening to many of the same artists as they are, and doing things that and support those artists in ways much of the mainstream won’t.
October 5, 2020 @ 10:52 am
This surprises me zero. He’s a good and smart dude.
October 5, 2020 @ 3:28 pm
Sure would like to see something from him and his buddy Jacob Bryant
October 5, 2020 @ 10:54 am
Grady Smith pointed out on Instagram that “Luke Combs” and “Billy Strings” are both complete sentences and now it’s all I can think about.
October 6, 2020 @ 3:06 am
There was a series of photoshopped pics with captions like “Robert plants while Tom waits” and other sentence names.
Or Ed shearin’ a sheep
October 5, 2020 @ 10:57 am
I don’t mind LC. saw him a few times before he blew up big. He puts a lot energy into his show, and has fun songs that aren’t completely vapid. It doesn’t surprise me that he would work with some of these people. I also heard thru the grapevine that his management team also signed Flatland Calvary somewhat recently.
October 5, 2020 @ 11:02 am
This is good. Combs probably has enough market inertia to bust up the corral a bit.
Trig – that 49 Winchester album you’re teasing in the news ticker really rips. If Tyler Childers veered off a bit in the rock direction it *might* sound as good as 49 Winchester.
October 5, 2020 @ 11:38 am
If the majority of mainstream country sounded like Like Combs, I could turn on FM radio for background music while I’m working. That’s a higher praise than I could give even 5 years ago
strait country 81
October 5, 2020 @ 11:54 am
Just long as they don’t associate with Confederate flag i guess independent artists are okay with him.
October 5, 2020 @ 12:33 pm
These grasping at glimmers of straw hope stories of far fetched redemption narratives make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
October 5, 2020 @ 1:16 pm
How bout is old buddy Upchurch ??? WHAT HAPPENED TO PROMOTING HIM ??? TO MUCH SOUTHERN IN HIS COUNTRY ????
October 5, 2020 @ 1:36 pm
Yeah, Luke doesn’t want to stir the pot too much. His label would probably have a problem with him collaborating with an artist that uses ‘racist’ symbols.
Strait country 81
October 5, 2020 @ 2:47 pm
Southern Pride is all about being proud of being born & raised in the Southern region in America. Being proud of living & doing things in the Southern lifestyles. And yes Southerners do celebrate American Pride along with Southern pride. No matter if you’re Northerner or Southerner, we’re all Americans. If his label don’t like it, then like Upchurch new song says Fu** it.
October 6, 2020 @ 7:36 am
I agree, man. It’s a damn shame the PC sissies run the game.
October 7, 2020 @ 3:41 am
The Confederate flag is a traitor’s flag, that’s just a fact. Fly it, or fly the Stars and Stripes. But the two don’t mix.
October 8, 2020 @ 7:11 am
Yeah said fuck it! Fuggen
October 5, 2020 @ 1:20 pm
Wouldnt let me leave comment about his old friend Upchurch. Must have forgotten those days RHEC
October 5, 2020 @ 1:22 pm
Your comment was posted.
October 5, 2020 @ 2:09 pm
Luke Combs represents the Every Day, Blue Collar Man!!
That’s his image.
Independent artists likely represent the blue collar folks too.
Luke is a smart man.
October 5, 2020 @ 4:15 pm
It’s interesting that they talk about all these Independent Artists and don’t mention Ryan Upchurch. He’s one of the biggest independent country artists out and used to have a friendship with Luke Combs. They even had a music video for their version of can I get an outlaw.
North Woods Country
October 6, 2020 @ 6:25 pm
Why would they mention Upchurch when talking about Independent country artists? He’d have to be a country artist, wouldn’t he?
October 8, 2020 @ 7:16 am
How is he not a country artist? He’s as country as it gets man! So what he has alittle hop in his jams that makes for good music. His rap songs bleed more country than 90 percent of the mainstream country singers. So fuck it!
October 5, 2020 @ 4:19 pm
I live on the same island that Luke and Billy are on in the Florida Keys – Luke shows up at one of the bars I play at but I have not seen him yet but all of the wait staff speaks highly of him – I am so happy a big star is endorsing so many independent artists.
October 6, 2020 @ 7:20 am
Islamorada, The Lorelei?
October 6, 2020 @ 8:08 am
No – Luke has a house on Big Pine Key – I have friends that live a few doors down…
October 6, 2020 @ 9:27 am
If the BayGrass Bluegrass Festival happens (as is hoped) am going to try to be there.
Will call some friends, head down.
IF it goes, & Billy Strings shows, that would/will be fabulous.
Regardless, there will be a lot of insane talent there.
You know, the kind of talent nouveau Nashville, is ignorant of.
October 5, 2020 @ 5:37 pm
Luke is no doubt working within his label limitations. At least he is working it so don’t be too hard on him id certain artists are not being referenced by him. Shouldn’t have to be that way but it is what it is.
October 5, 2020 @ 6:07 pm
Allow me to make an astute observation while we are on the subject of Luke.
I feel he has enjoyed success be relativism. Common comments about him go like this, “Luke is better than most of the modern #$@# you hear on mainstream radio today”.
He is the antithesis of mainstream pop that is on country radio. I emphasize mainstream in this observation. In other times when pop ruled country radio, there were always a few authentic artists that were “allowed” to have success by the radio gods.
This is NOT a knock on Luke. He is a good artist but part of that is he is better than most of the current crap.
But is he a seminal artist? I don’t think so. He is not a Ricky Skaggs: “When Ricky Skaggs came onto the country music scene, he was like the white knight riding into battle to save the day,” said author and country historian Robert Oermann.
He is not a Randy Travis and we all know what he did.
He is not a Dwight Yoakam that made Bakersfield twang hot & sexy.
And that is ok. He doesn’t need to be a Ricky, Randy, or Dwight. He deserves the success he has achieved and it IS certainly better than most of what passes on modern country radio.
Will his music be a genre-defining event like the aforementioned artists? Probably not. But again, that is perfectly fine. Not every artist needs to be. But somewhere there is an artist that can be. That is, if they are ever allowed on radio again.
North Woods Country
October 6, 2020 @ 6:30 pm
I think the fairest way to capture what Luke Combs is to country music would be to say that he’s an exceptional artist without having his own sound.
I often don’t know it’s Luke Combs until he starts singing. And that’s perfectly okay because the music is undoubtedly good.
October 6, 2020 @ 8:15 pm
“…he’s an exceptional artist without having his own sound.”
That’s as good a way to put it as I know.
October 5, 2020 @ 6:29 pm
Love Charley Crockett’s, Wreck Me.
He cracks me up.
Love his Spirit, Integrity, & Drive.
October 6, 2020 @ 6:53 am
I never liked hull country as a name. Changing it now is a bit of a surprise to me considering the album being out and being so good as well..
October 6, 2020 @ 7:16 am
Hill country lol
October 6, 2020 @ 10:15 am
October 6, 2020 @ 7:34 am
Roosters don’t lay eggs
October 6, 2020 @ 7:44 am
Luke Combs is what country radio should sound like.
It is unfortunate that he is the exception in Nashville.
October 6, 2020 @ 2:36 pm
Trig, went to look up Wilder Blue on Spotify and got nothing but a shit Hunter Hayes song. Looks as though they’re still under the name Hill Country on Spotify
October 6, 2020 @ 4:08 pm
Changing Metadata stuff on Spotify can take weeks or months, as it can on other platforms. They deleted their Facebook page and it all looks official. I’m working on a story about it.
October 6, 2020 @ 8:30 pm
He seems like a great guy. I did finally check out his music and while I didn’t make it through any of his songs I was totally shocked by his voice! He looks like someone I would run into on a jobsite (HVAC guy?) but he sounds like Paul Bunyan or something! Does he have any recordings that are more stripped down sounding than others? I would love to hear him with bluegrass instrumentation to really allow for his vocal to really shine!
April 21, 2023 @ 4:16 am
Everyone scared to mention ole upchurch woods largest indipendant artist