Luke Combs has come a very long way in a relatively short amount of time by most Nashville standards.
They don’t call it a 10 year town for nothin’, but in Luke’s case, that saying has proved to be little more than hearsay, as his trajectory to super stardom has been absolutely insane over the last several years.
He’s had a record-breaking 13 consecutive #1 singles, and about a month ago, he returned to his hometown honky tonk of Coyote Joe’s in Charlotte, North Carolina, to play for the hometown crowd.
I was lucky enough to be there, and I’ll just say that he damn near blew the roof clean off the building.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people in that building in my life, and even though it was hotter than blue blazes outside and Coyote Joe’s doesn’t have air conditioning, it was an incredible experience.
It’s rare to see a megastar of Luke’s caliber play a small venue like Coyote Joe’s once he starts selling out stadiums, so that in and of itself made it an unforgettable night.
And Luke sat down with Kelleigh Bannen for her Apple Music Country podcast ahead of the show to talk about what that bar means to him and how he got his start there so many years ago.
He actually saw Eric Church play at the venue in 2014, which is what initially really inspired him to play country music.
And after years of begging the owner to let him play a set or open for someone, Luke finally got the opportunity to play Coyote Joes’ iconic 1, 2, 3 night:
“They have 1, 2, 3 night. I don’t know if they still have it anymore. But it was $20 to get in, and it was $1 beers, $2 well, $3 call, whether it was shots or mixed drinks.
So we begged Allen, the owner, for a while, like ‘Let us come in here dude. Let us come in here.’ And he had heard of me before, ‘cuz I’m sure I had sent him emails when I was in college, like, ‘Man, let me open for somebody.’
I must’ve sent a million emails, ‘Hey, man, let me open for Kip Moore, Lee Brice.’ Anybody that was in here that had anything going on. I was trying to be the opener, but you couldn’t get in here ‘cuz they had a house band.”
And because they always have a house band Out of the Blue, which remains the house band to this day, it was pretty damn hard to ever get a spot on the lineup if Luke wasn’t coming with the headlining artist:
“The house band was always the opener. It was like, if there wasn’t an opener that the headliner was bringing, the opener was always Out of the Blue. It’s still that way here. It’s the same band.
And so we finally got… I think we got $2,500 and we got Allen to agree to let us play, but a night where there’s not a built in crowd.
That’s the idea of the One, Two, Three. As a business owner is, get some people in the door that aren’t coming in the door normally.”
At the time, Luke had seven songs out, the six he put out on his respective 2014 and 2016 The Way She Rides and Can I Get An Outlaw EP’s, in addition to his smash #1 hit “Hurricane.”
He didn’t have a whole lot of music out then and wasn’t even really headlining his own show, so they were all expecting around 500 people to show up…
But because of Luke’s loyal grassroots following in this part of North Carolina at the time, that number quadrupled:
“That’s what Allen was thinking. And there was 2,000. I think 2,000 people came or something.”
And because Allen made bank that night, he ended up doubling the initial $2,500 payout he promised Luke.
Not too shabby for a regular old 1, 2, 3 night:
“And Allen ended up paying us double, actually, so shout out to Allen… because he made so much that night. I’d love to know what he actually made.”
A true testament to Luke’s talent and just another example of how he’s become the biggest thing in mainstream country over the last several years.
Though Luke always had an innate belief in himself and his talents (and rightfully so, clearly), he knew that he needed to prove himself and his abilities before he really got any huge opportunities in the music business:
“To be fair, and I’ve said this before, I don’t know if I would’ve believed in myself if I was someone else. Let’s put it this way, I’m not the car on the lot that you go, ‘Which one’s going to win in the race?’
But it’s always what’s under the hood. You know what I mean? And that’s the thing, I always felt that way, so I never really faulted anybody for being that way.
‘Cuz it’s just human nature, really, I think. I mean, it’s just the way people are. And that’s okay, I just had to go out there and prove it.”
But I think Luke summed it all up best himself:
“Just go out there and run a bunch of races and beat every motherf*cker out there, that’s all I had to do… I just knew I had to go out there and do it.”
Amen to that… a pretty foolproof strategy that applies to anything in life, if you ask me.
You can watch the entire Apple Music Live concert performance tomorrow evening, and catch part of his interview with Kelleigh here: