FAMILIAR faces, unfamiliar places. Morgan Evans is treading a busy path between Australia and the United States as he chases fame and fortune in country music.
Just back from his sixth trip to Nashville this year, in an interview on Tuesday in Australia he said it felt great to have a day off: ‘‘It’s the first feeling of relaxation I’ve had in a long time.’’
‘‘Pretty much every day in Nashville, I write one song.’’Morgan Evans
Since coming home he’s played the Central Coast country music festival, participated in a ‘‘50 songs in five days’’ songwriting camp in Sydney and played three shows last weekend in south-east Queensland.
‘‘Pretty much every day in Nashville, I write one song,’’ he says.
‘‘It’s good to come home and play them to people. I’m getting pretty close to pressing a record.’’
This year Evans won the Country Music Association award for Global Country Artist of the Year and took home the Country Music Channel’s OzMale Artist of the Year for the second time.
Besides being immersed in the music scene in Nashville (and attending a lot of shows just as a music fan), Evans has been touring extensively in the US, mostly performing as an opening act for a bundle of American country artists, from Joe Nichols to Brett Eldredge to Jana Kramer as well as playing at the Grand Ole Opry.
At one point Evans travelled 4000kilometres in four days to play shows from Colorado to Wisconsin.
‘‘It’s really fun, it’s a brand new experience,’’ he says.
‘‘We are playing new songs, it really is a trialling ground.’’
For Evans, it’s a hands-on learning environment: you write a song and you can test it on a brand new audience within days.
‘‘To be honest, when we wrote the first album [Morgan Evans, released in 2014], I didn’t know who we were writing to,’’ he says.
‘‘We played it for a year, and met the people who liked it.’’
The other half of Evans’ universe revolves around his job as an emcee with the Country Music Channel network. It was announced this week that he will be the host for the 6th annual Australian CMC Music Awards on March 10 at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane.
‘‘I must not have done too bad of a job,’’ Evans jokes about his emcee role (he was nominated for a Logie this year for his role on CMC).
‘‘If there is one thing I’ve learnt it is to realise what a cool experience it is and relax a little bit more.’’
International country music stars Jason Aldean and Kelsea Ballerini will both attend the show in their first journeys to Australia.
Evans will be performing at the Snowy Mountains Country Music Festival at Thredbo in March as well, which includes Aldean, Ballerini and several Australian performers such as Adam Eckersley, Amber Lawrence and Daryl Braithwaite. Evans is also on the bill for CMC Rocks Queensland, March 11-13, which includes Aldean, Lee Brice and Florida Georgia Line.
Closer to home, Evans will be taking part in the Lake Macquarie Christmas Carols at Speers Point on Sunday, December 13, and reckons he will be joined on stage by his mate and occasional songwriting partner, Mark Wells.
Evans will be making the trek across the Pacific early next year, most likely going into the studio in Nashville to record his second album.
‘‘I want to play a lot more myself,’’ he says.
‘‘I want to have a bit more of a say. I’m looking forward to the next one, making the next statement.’’