Austin Burke has a secret.
He has a “huge” full band show set for January, but he’s not allowed to reveal any details. However, fans can get a sneak preview of new material at Dierks Bentley’s the night before Thanksgiving.
“It’s going to be a really fun show,” he says. “I’m excited to go back the day before Thanksgiving. Everybody will be back in town.”
Among the songs on his setlist is “Love You Most,” his ode to his fiancée, Lexy Kadey, whom he will marry on New Year’s Eve in Nashville.
“A lot of people love her and think she’s awesome,” he says. “I had to write a song, putting a stamp on me loving her the most.”
The show will have a feel of an intimate Downtown Nashville bar, where acts perform acoustic sets and tell stories.
“It’s definitely going to be a more intimate show, rather than a full-band set,” Burke says. “There will be stories about the songs, like The Bluebird (Café) in Nashville. I want to bring that vibe, but it’s definitely a fun time. Before my big show in January, I want people to know the meaning behind the songs. I think a lot of people appreciate that.”
Getting his due
Burke’s last appearance in the Valley was to sing the national anthem at Chase Field. That is Burke’s forte.
“I learned the anthem at 2, and I sang for the Diamondbacks, Rattlers, Coyotes and Suns—all over the Phoenix area,” Burke says.
“I sang the national anthem at the first D-backs Spring Training game at Bank One Ballpark. I was used to singing in front of thousands of people early on.”
Sports was equally as inspiring as music. Burke wanted to be like Garth Brooks, who participated in Spring Training with the San Diego Padres, New York Mets and Kansas City Royals
“I met Garth Brooks at a San Diego Padres Spring Training game when I was 4,” he says. “It was Garth’s lyrics that drew me to country music. That set up everything for me. I wanted to be like Garth, the singing baseball player. I sang all the way until I was 10, then I retired just like Garth and came back.”
And he came back with a vengeance. His single, “Whole Lot in Love,” catapulted Burke to Spotify stardom, garnered nearly 600,000 streams on YouTube alone. He also released two other songs, “One Summer” and “Slower.”
Burke’s hometown is Scottsdale. The fifth-generation Arizonan attended Desert Shadows Middle School and was scheduled to attend Chaparral High School when his family moved to San Diego.
Burke—whose father attended Saguaro High School, while his mom went to Horizon High School—played a short set at Country Thunder when he was 5. He performed at Parada del Sol and Rawhide, where his father filmed him singing the national anthem. He sent the video to Rosie O’Donnell and she invited him to cover “Friends in Low Places” on her program.
“She had me on her show twice,” he says. “It was something else.”
After high school, Burke played college baseball, but an injury cut his career short. He relocated to Nashville at age 19.
“I wanted to return to my roots,” Burke says. “What I love is country music. I was lucky enough to have a couple songs breakthrough, so I could get out of the restaurant business.”
For the next four years, he waited tables, wrote songs and saved money to record his debut song, “Sleepin’ Around.” It caught the attention of WME, who signed him to its roster. Soon he was opening for the likes of Vince Gill, Cole Swindell, Casey Donahew and William Michael Morgan.
“There’s something special about country music fans and the genre as a whole,” Burke says. “Everybody’s in it together.”
Recently, he signed a publishing deal with Rhett Akins and his son, Thomas Rhett.
“I have been writing a lot with Rhett, trying to get my songs to the best of my ability,” he says. “I want really good songs.
“The fact that I get to write and learn from guys like that is such a cool experience. Rhett just scored a huge No. 1 with ‘Look What God Gave Her.’”
Since moving to Nashville, Burke has felt inspired by the likes of Akins and Rhett.
“There are so many incredible musicians and artists who live here,” he says. “I hardly go downtown, but when I do, it’s just unbelievable the amount of talent at these bars. I wonder why these people are not huge megastars. There’s so much talent it’s insane.”
Burke feels blessed to be successful.
“It’s been a dream come true, really,” he says. “The coolest part is there are so many people trying to do what I do in Nashville, hoping and praying for a break. A year ago, I was working at a restaurant. To do what I love is such a blessing. I think it’s cool.”
Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, 323 N. Gilbert Road, Gilbert, 480.476.8595, dierkswhiskeyrow.com, 8 p.m. Wednesday, November 27, free.