Luke Bryan on Peyton Manning, Colorado hunting and skiing before his Broncos Stadium concert — The Know
Country singer Luke Bryan performs onstage during the ‘What Makes You Country’ tour stop at Dodger Stadium on July 28 in Los Angeles. ( Scott Dudelson, Getty Images)
Luke Bryan is decompressing.
The country-music heartthrob, currently in the midst of his super-sized “What Makes You Country?” tour, had just played a sold-out concert at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on July 28 — the first-ever country artist to do so — before chatting with The Denver Post.
“I’m back at the house now (in Nashville),” said the 42-year-old Leesburg, Ga., native via phone this week. “It takes you about a day or two to come down from the passion of that, and the emotional and physical high.”
— Luke Bryan (@LukeBryanOnline) July 29, 2018
Bryan didn’t have much time to relax, however: He had two more huge shows on tap this week in Arkansas and Nebraska, as well as his latest headlining show at Mile High Stadium on Aug. 4, with openers Sam Hunt and Jon Pardi.
We sopped up some of Bryan’s precious down-time to talk about his frequent trips to Colorado, why big shows never come easy for him, and more.
Q: From what I can tell, this is your third headlining gig at Mile High Stadium, an impressive feat by any standard. Do you remember your first Colorado show?
A: Gosh, I guess it would have been at the Grizzly Rose? I don’t think there was anything else before that. That place is kind of the launching point for anybody coming out of Nashville to go play around Denver, or Colorado in general. It would had to have been early 2008.
Q: Do you spend much time in Colorado these days?
A: Oh, yeah. My wife and I honeymooned at Beaver Creek and we used to do a lot of skiing at Vail. Now we’ve got a lot of friends in Steamboat Springs so we go skiing (in Colorado) every year. Even when it’s unrelated to touring, I’m typically in Colorado two, three, four times a year doing outdoors stuff.
Q: Like what?
A: The main thing is that I have a yearly elk-hunting trip that I do in Hayden Creek. I always take the boys up there and we do about three to four days in the mountains with trout fishing and elk hunting. That’s always a special trip and has become kind of a yearly tradition. I think we’re in our fifth or sixth year now. The boys love it, and I love taking them hiking into the hills. Colorado’s real smart about keeping the numbers of fish and game up, and taking care of their natural resources so you can always appreciate them.
Q: Where else have you been meaning to get to in Colorado?
A: There are quite a few spots, actually. I haven’t been that far south. I haven’t been to the Telluride area. And, actually, Dierks Bentley has a house in Telluride and he keeps telling me I need to get out there to visit. Maybe at some point I’ll come out and play his festival! (The Seven Peaks Festival near Buena Vista, which debuts Aug. 31-Sept. 2).
Q: It’s a cliché for touring musicians to mention the altitude when playing here. Do you feel more acclimated than most?
A: What’s interesting is that the reason we chose to start skiing in Steamboat is that we’d take people to Vail and Beaver Creek, and with that 8,600-foot base elevation or whatever it is, we’d always have some of the children go a little under-the-weather with the altitude. So that’s why we started going to Steamboat. But when I’m on stage at Mile High Stadium, I’ll get a little winded. I can definitely feel that elevation coming from Tennessee.
Q: As can your band and crew, I’m sure.
A: We definitely all have that challenge with dry climates, certainly for my band and my guys singing with me. It’s always interesting because you have to come out there, and you want to tour for your fans everywhere, but you have to battle a lot of changing climates. But I think the fans understand, too, that it’s rough on the singers sometimes to get out there. You never want to let it deter you from doing your thing. So we just have to pony up and make the show happen.
Q: And lately, those shows have been at the biggest stadiums around the country. Does that ever get easier?
A: It never comes easy doing a stadium show. The main thing is that I’m just overwhelmed at the opportunity to be able to play music at Mile High. It’s just a beautiful place with a beautiful background. The first time I played Mile High I was pretty under the weather so I couldn’t sing like I wanted to. I’m very competitive with myself and I always want to get back and outdo my previous show. So that’s the main thing: to put on a great show and make sure the fans who come out have a great time.
Q: Have you ever seen a Broncos game there?
A: I don’t think so, unless it was before a show with Kenny (Chesney) or something. I will say I’ve become pretty good friends with Peyton (Manning).
Q: How did that happen?
A: Well, the first time I played (Mile High), Peyton came out and threw me a pass. And he’s got a house there now, he loves it so much. I’ve also made a lot of wonderful friend and connections in Colorado through the years. I’ve become very good acquaintances with Pete Coors through my Miller-Coors deal, and I’ll get a chance to see Pete when I come out to Mile High. Even when I’m out there touring, I always try to see all my people in Denver.