ACL Music Festival Interviews

ACL Music Festival Interviews
Photo By Gary Miller

Jack Ingram

Sunday, 6:30pm, Austin Ventures stage

For the better part of two years now, Dallas' KPLX has aired Jack Ingram's Real American Music Hour, a program that's reinforced an important lesson for its host.

"The capacity for Tim McGraw fans to accept and explore is a lot greater than most people give them credit for," says Ingram, whose show debuts in 15 new Texas markets this fall and can already by heard on XM. "They might not love Tom Waits, but a Tom Waits tune isn't going to freak them out and make them change the station."

For Ingram, that's great news. With each album, Ingram's songs have been significantly darker, a little more rock and a lot less what most people would define as commercially viable country.

"It's been a long and tricky transition," says Ingram, who recently moved his family from Dallas to Austin. "For a while I felt like I was talking out of both sides of my mouth. On one side I'm saying this stuff isn't like country; people that love singer-songwriters should love this stuff too. Out of the other side of my mouth I was saying I wanted to sell a million records."

Like Ingram, Toby Keith appears to believe there's a way to find a middle ground. Ingram is the first signing to Keith's new label, Big Machine, an operation that's already promising more muscle then he saw across both the albums he made for Sony Nashville. That frees Ingram to focus on satisfying a live fanbase that most well-established country acts would kill for.

"I've always done best at something like ACL, where there's a huge crowd," says Ingram. "I love a sweaty little club, but at the end of the day, this music is supposed to work in front of a large audience. And it does."

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