Rising country artist Drew Baldridge is currently on a tour he named “Baldridge & Bonfires” where he visits and plays in the backyards of his fans. He had just played nine shows in a row when he told us, “Right when the pandemic hit, all my shows canceled and I didn’t really know what I was going to do at that time. I was at a really dark place. I lost my record deal, I lost my publishing deal, and I wasn’t making any money.” Instead of feeding into the negativity, Baldridge decided to make the most of his time. He accumulated numerous new fans through TikTok, he played shows for graduating seniors, recently signed a deal with Sony Music Publishing, and just married the love of his life. “During this time, I’ve been able to do the most growth I’ve ever done.”
Baldridge is from the small town of Patoka in southern Illinois; he graduated high school with only 22 kids. His school didn’t have a music program, so he grew his love for music by singing in church and performing the national anthem at sports games. Country music was something he gravitated towards naturally due to his upbringing on a family farm. “My summers were technically just in a tractor, so I lived a country song every day. It was a simple life,” he tells us. He wrote his first song in the sixth grade about a girl who was breaking his heart at the time. When he became a teenager, he was given a guitar as a present for his 16th birthday and he started to play local bars with a friend. “Before I knew it, me and my buddy John, couldn’t fit any more people in the bars on Fridays and Saturdays. They were completely full,” he said. “I thought maybe we should start a band.” They created a cover band, and as they continued, he realized the power of his talents and knew Nashville was calling his name. He moved there after graduating high school.
When he got to Nashville he continued to perform live and secured a record deal. He’s been releasing music since 2013, but in the past year, he has had the most traction he’s ever seen. “Right now, we have the most fan engagement we’ve had in a long time,” he exclaimed. The two singles he released this year titled “That’s You” and “A Beach Ain’t One” were both teased on TikTok where Baldridge racked up millions of views. He originally told himself he would never post something on the app, but now he has almost one million total likes and over 160 thousand followers. The song that created the most buzz was “Senior Year,” a track he wrote years ago but has newfound relevance given the situation with the pandemic over the past year.
Baldridge’s father tagged him in a video on Facebook where a young girl from his hometown used “Senior Year” as background music for a video where she documented her senior photos. He was struck when the song came to the bridge that goes, “Never thought it’d disappear, senior year.” “I was like ‘oh my gosh I forgot I even wrote that.’ Like I cannot believe that that was the hook of the song and I wrote that three years ago and all these kids’ senior year is literally disappearing from ‘em,” he explained. “My goal was- I said I have to get as many kids to hear this song as possible because music is healing. I really believe that.” On social media, he told his followers he would be willing to do Zoom concerts for graduating seniors; he ended up having hundreds of schools reach out and would do seven to eight Zoom concerts a day from the couch in his living room. There were even times he would roll up to play in-person graduations that were still taking place for the class of 2020. He also messaged friends he knew involved in country radio and explained the record in order to get airtime; it worked. “All of a sudden, I looked down and I had a top 50 record on Billboard by myself,” he proclaimed with obvious excitement in his voice. “No label, no team, just me sending this song out to radio friends and country radio supporting this song in a massive, big way.”
This past summer, shows were still canceled and Baldridge felt a deep sense of urgency to get back on the road. He once again posted all over social media asking fans if they wanted a show in their backyard. He got about a hundred messages and soon enough his Baldridge & Bonfires tour was in full swing. After the first part of the tour was over, he decided to do it again in the spring; this time, he got thousands of people asking for backyard shows. Baldridge & Bonfires Part Two will take him from California to New York and everywhere in between to interact and bring joy to his fans. “I get to sit down and hang out with them and I get to eat dinner with them and get to know them and know who I make music for. I just feel so blessed that I still get to be out on the road when not a lot of people have had the opportunity” he laughs through his words as he apologizes for a wordy answer. “I’m just so happy it worked out.”
Just a few weeks ago, Baldridge announced the next part of his journey as he signed with Sony Music Publishing. For the future, Baldridge plans on releasing music as much as he can, whenever he can. “People are so hungry for music right now. I just wanna give them as much music as I possibly can in the correct way and promote it right and have good videos with it,” he tells us. “I’m just so happy.”
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