Drew Baldridge loves dance music (and dancing to it), blaring horn sections and country mixed with a touch of R&B. That’s all clearly evident on sizzling tracks like “Train” and “Dance With Ya,” which proved his breakout single this past year. Baldridge also has a real affinity for catchy song titles, best evidenced by “Tractors Don’t Roll,” “Town That Time Forgot,” and his current single, “Guns & Roses.”
Before you roll your eyes at the thought of a “tribute band” song, Baldridge quickly explains that “Guns & Roses” leads you down a different flowery path. “When you hear the title, you think it’s about the band,” Baldridge says, taking a seat inside the media center at Country Radio Seminar in Nashville. “But this is a song I totally wrote about me and my girlfriend. It’s about how opposites attract. I’m a blue jeans and boots kind of guy and she’s the kind of girl who likes to wear her nice black dress whenever she can.” With a quick smile, Baldridge adds that the opening line, “I’m a 12 gauge and she’s a wildflower,” perfectly describes their relationship.
“Guns & Roses,” which Baldridge co-wrote with Tim Nichols and Chris Stevens, serves as the lead single from his upcoming sophomore album, due in the early part of 2018. “We’re looking at probably the beginning of May,” he points out. Along with “Guns & Roses,” look for a couple of additional tunes with clever, more-than-one-meaning titles.
“There is one on there that I wrote called ‘Gentle Man,’ which is really close to me,” Baldridge says. “I grew up in a really small town of about 580 people [Patoka, Ill.], and I was raised to be a gentleman. The song is about how guys are different around their girls. When you’re in a small rural area, you throw on your boots every day and you’re taught to be this tough guy. But the first verse talks about when you find the right girl, you become this big softie. The guys don’t see it but she does. So, she makes him a ‘gentle man,’ or a ‘gentleman,’ either way. I think people are really going to connect with that song,” Baldridge adds.
He also hopes that fans will dig their heels into another cut, “Good Years on Gravel.” You can interpret that title in two different ways, either as a nostalgic look at the past or as a reference to the famed tire manufacturer. You’d be right on both counts, Baldridge acknowledges.
“That’s about me going home and jumping in my truck and driving around to the places I used to go,” Baldridge says, a warm tone lining his voice. “And it can be about both ‘good years’ and ‘Goodyears.’ I love plays on words and that’s what makes this a cool song. If you’re from a small town or rural area, it’s going to hit home. You want to put music out that people can relate to and I think this song is very relatable.”
In addition to the forthcoming album, Baldridge is also pumped about his new charity initiative. It’s known as WERD, an acronym for Win, Encourage, Rejoice, Daily. In a clever twist, the name is also “Drew” spelled backwards. The idea behind the charity platform is to raise funds each month for a different cause, uniting fans and followers through social media and other outlets. “We will have what we call the ‘WERD of the month’ and figure out where the money will go,” Baldridge says. “We can decide how it’s being used. It’s still in the middle of the designing stage,” Baldridge adds, “but we’ll start maybe in March.”
Baldridge notes that his years of doing mission work spurred the idea. “I haven’t had time to do the mission work lately,” he says, “so I started my own non-profit. We’re going to put WERD on tee shirts and hats and sell those at our shows. I think our fans will dive into it and want to help out.”
Fans will likely get a glimpse of the WERD merchandise at his shows throughout the year. Baldridge already has several dates on the docket, with more filling out as summer festival season approaches. He describes his stage show as “high energy,” punctuated with some well-timed dance moves.
“My band members and I all like to dance, so it always feels like I have The Temptations behind me,” Baldridge laughs. “We spin and slide on the stage and that always gets the biggest roars of the night. My goal is to one day be able to bring a horn section with me to all my dates.”
For the moment, he’s ready for fans to experience the new album. “With this record, I think we have figured out our sound and also what our fans expect to hear from me,” Baldridge says. “This is going to be a fun album.”