Sue Bonzell:¬†Welcome to Up N Country, powered by vLiveCast. Our guest today is Craig Campbell, direct from Nashville. I’m your host, Sue Bonzell, where I’m bringing you new, up and coming country artists. You can catch all of our episodes, get a little merch, and join our VIP exclusive club at upncountry.com. And I want to say thank you to our sponsor, SOCO PRIVATE SECURITY. Okay, let’s go meet Craig Campbell. He has played in the band with Tracy Byrd and Luke Bryan. I am so excited to have on the show today, it’s Craig Campbell. Hey, Craig!

Craig Campbell: How are you guys?

Sue Bonzell: Oh my gosh. I am wonderful today. How are you doing?

Craig Campbell:¬†Doing well, it’s super hot. I’ve been outside working at our soon-to-be coffee shop. Didn’t realize how hot it was until I walked into that building and realized it was probably 20 degrees hotter inside, because we don’t have any electricity yet. I’ve been sweating a lot today, but it’s been a good day.

Sue Bonzell: Well, you look great. So, new coffee shop. Tell me about that.

Craig Campbell:¬†Been dreaming about opening a coffee shop for about five or six years and finally talked my wife into it a couple of years ago and, long story short, we decided to do this based on a couple of things. We wanted to make sure we owned the building that we were going to be doing our coffee shop in and we also needed a drive through. The good Lord pointed us in the right direction and we were able to check both of those boxes off and hopefully we’ll have this thing up and running in the next six or eight months.

Sue Bonzell:¬†That’s super exciting. What’s the name of the coffee shop?

Craig Campbell: Grindstone Cowboy.

Sue Bonzell:¬†Oh my gosh. Brilliant. That is brilliant. Oh my gosh, I’m so excited for you guys. That’s so cool. So, you have been in country music for a long time. You’ve had many hits on the radio, the Luke Bryan connection, you played in his band, and then what did I hear? He, quote-unquote, fired you. So, I would love to hear that story.

Craig Campbell:¬†I like to use that word with a smile on my face. He fired me, but this was before Luke had his record deal. We were just hanging around and I was sound checking and playing the piano and singing a little bit and then I guess it just clicked. He runs up to the stage and he said, “You’re that guy I saw playing at the stage.” He’s like, “I remember seeing this guy at the stage one night and thought he was really good, but I never did get his name,” he said, “but it was you.” And I said, “Well, that’s cool.” A few shows pass and then he’s like, “Hey man, you don’t need to be anybody’s side-man. You need to be doing your own thing.” And he said, “I’m going to help you.” And he said, “When we get back to Nashville, I want to introduce you to some people.” And that’s what he did.

Sue Bonzell:¬†That is so cool. He seems like such a cool guy. I’ve never met him personally. Seems like a pretty cool guy. So, obviously, pretty smart, because he is absolutely correct. I totally agree and I’m glad you are on your own. So, how was it?

Craig Campbell:¬†If he wouldn’t have pulled that trigger, then who knows? Because I was comfortable. I love playing piano for other people, but I always wanted to be a front man. That was my dream. That was the reason I moved to Nashville. He saw something that needed to be addressed immediately. So he fired me and the rest is history.

Sue Bonzell:¬†That’s perfect. I want to say I saw a live TikTok with you and your wife. This was a little while ago, did Luke Bryan send you an ice chest full of beer?

Craig Campbell: He actually sent it to a lot of people and, in retrospect, I feel like that was a genius marketing move, on his part, because what happened was everybody that he sent this cooler to went live and started bragging on his beer, Two Lane Beer, and the merge and all that stuff. It was free marketing, basically, from his end. I mean, we did get a nice cooler out of it, but we all went and posted about it. But yeah, he sure enough did send us a cooler, some t-shirts, some Yeti tumblers, and whatnot. It was Christmas, basically.

Sue Bonzell:¬†It looked like fun. I was kind of impressed. I’m like, “I would love to get a package from Luke Bryan in the mail. That would be amazing. That would be great.” So you’ve been to the Grand Ole Opry and performed there over 50 times? Is that correct?

Craig Campbell:¬†We’re creeping up on 75 times.

Sue Bonzell:¬†Oh my gosh. Wow. Tell me about that experience. I have not been there. I am actually going to be in Nashville very soon and I will be at the Grand Ole–. Uh-oh, we lost him.

Craig Campbell: Say it again. Do we have to start all over?

Sue Bonzell:¬†No, we’ll start from the Grand Ole Opry part. So you have played at the Grand Ole Opry more than 50 times, is that correct?

Craig Campbell:¬†Yeah, we’re getting close to like 75, or so. I haven’t played it since COVID, but I got one coming up pretty soon. I’ve been blessed to be able to play the Opry this often.

Sue Bonzell:¬†What’s that like, because I’ve not actually been there. I’m excited because I’m going to be visiting very soon. Just the number of legends who have stood on that stage, what’s that like to step into that circle?

Craig Campbell:¬†It’s a trip. You really almost have to not even think about it, because the circle is such a specific spot on the stage and that’s where the microphone is. So if you’re singing, then that’s where you’re standing. And so to think about all the people that have actually stood in that same exact spot, it’s pretty overwhelming. I don’t take it for granted. It’s just one of those special places to be able to get in and sing. It’s pretty neat.

Sue Bonzell:¬†That’s awesome. That is so cool. You had this one song that came out, My Girl Loves to Fish. That’s one of my favorite songs, because, the first time I heard that song, I was like, “What is he going to say? Oh my gosh, he said ‘fish’.” Because you were rhyming things with ‘truck’. So what was the response originally when that first song came out? I mean, that song first came out.

Craig Campbell:¬†Honestly, when we wrote that song, we had no idea that it would be a radio song. We didn’t even think anybody would ever cut out a record deal, so I cut it. I knew that it would at least like a great live show songs.

Sue Bonzell: Definitely.

Craig Campbell:¬†So, that’s what I started doing. I started playing it live and people just loved it and they wanted to hear more of it. So we harnessed that energy from the fans and decided to make it a single and it did well.

Sue Bonzell:¬†You have so many great songs, there’s just too many to mention right now. And you do have a new song, Never Mine. So tell me about writing that song.

Craig Campbell:¬†It was a challenge. I’ve had that idea for a very long time and every time I threw it out to my co-writers, we never could wrap our brain around how to make it work. I had the, “nevermind, you were never mine”, but then one day it just hit me and I said, “Wait a minute. Nevermind that we had all this much fun and nevermind this happened, nevermind that happened. I thought there was more to it, but in the end I was wrong, because you were never mine to begin with.” I told that to my co-writers that day and they loved it and we chased it down and wrote a song.

Sue Bonzell:¬†It is a great song. I’m excited to be playing it on the radio very soon. I hope you have huge success with that song. Now, I do follow you on TikTok, obviously, because I watched your live. I’ve seen a few things on your TikTok. Now, one of them I saw recently was something about a brown recluse bite. Was that you?

Craig Campbell: Yeah.

Sue Bonzell: Holy crap, is what I have to say. It was kind of gross. But, oh my gosh. Is that like a common thing where you are?

Craig Campbell:¬†It’s common, but since I’ve gotten bit, I’ve done a lot of research and I know more about brown recluse than I want to know. It turns out brown recluse only affect about 10% of the population the way it affected me.

Sue Bonzell: Wow.

Craig Campbell:¬†You could get bitten by a brown recluse, if you’re not part of that 10%, it would look more like a mosquito bite. It killed the entire back of my arm, the skin. Luckily, I didn’t have to have any graphing done.

Sue Bonzell: Thank goodness.

Craig Campbell:¬†My doctor was like, “Look, if you’re not in a hurry for it to heal,” he said, “let’s just let it heal like a burn.” And that’s what we did.

Sue Bonzell: Wow. That was brave of you to actually put that on TikTok.

Craig Campbell:¬†It was rough. It was a solid four months of just a big, open wound. And when it first happened, they said, “Yeah, it’s going to be a three month process.” So no, not at all. Every bit of three and a half months.

Sue Bonzell:¬†Holy cow. I am so glad that you have fully recovered and you’re doing well. So that’s good news.

Craig Campbell: I still have my arm.

Sue Bonzell:¬†You still have your arm, that’s kind of important. You kind of need that. You have a couple of beautiful daughters and, one of them, I’ve seen her singing and I recently watched a video of the two of you together singing God Bless America and the national anthem. It brought tears to my eyes. I almost cry every time I hear the national anthem anyway, but it was so beautiful. What is that feeling like to see your daughter be so successful and have this beautiful voice?

Craig Campbell:¬†It was unexpected. Me and my wife always joked about, before we ever had kids, cause my wife is an amazing singer too. We know people that have kids that say, “Oh, my baby, she’s a great singer,” and then they’re actually not. So we prayed and we prayed. We said, “Lord, please, if you give us kids that love music, please make them either really, really bad or really, really good.” I’m a little biased, but at the same time I recognize talent and both of my daughters are eat up with it. So the Lord listened. He blessed us with two super talented little girls. It’s awesome to share that passion with them: the music, the piano playing, the singing, and all that stuff. It’s pretty neat to hear that with them.

Sue Bonzell:¬†They were very lucky to have you as a dad, too, to be mentoring them with all of your experience as well. Maybe I’ll end up having your daughter on my show, eventually. Maybe I’ll be interviewing her at some point.

Craig Campbell: I hope so. We joke all the time, but kind of a serious joke, both of them, we consider them our retirement plans.

Sue Bonzell: Hey, you know what? You got to do what you got to do, right?

Craig Campbell: Yeah.

Sue Bonzell:¬†So, you and your wife have done a fair amount of some home improvement projects that I’ve honestly been impressed with. I’ve seen them on your TikTok channel. How much of your house have you remodeled?

Craig Campbell: Well, we bought this house and remodeled the entire thing. We stripped it. We stripped it down to nothing, to the studs, even converted the garage into a master bedroom, master bath, laundry room.

Sue Bonzell: Oh my goodness.

Craig Campbell:¬†We did most of it, except for the heavy stuff, like the framing and the electrical and plumbing. I don’t know what y’all can see, but we did all the shiplap, the railing, everything. Mindy painted everything, stained everything. We did it all.

Sue Bonzell: You guys are impressive. How do you learn skills like that? Did you go to YouTube?

Craig Campbell: YouTube, for sure.

Sue Bonzell:¬†YouTube. That’s how you learn anything these days, right?

Craig Campbell: Absolutely.

Sue Bonzell:¬†Don’t know how to do it? Just go to YouTube. You can figure it out.

Craig Campbell:¬†Matter of fact, she was doing some bookwork this morning. With our coffee shop, she went ahead and downloaded QuickBooks and there was something she couldn’t figure out, so she went to YouTube and there it was.

Sue Bonzell:¬†There you go. The solution to every one of life’s problems is on YouTube, somewhere.

Craig Campbell: YouTube, no doubt about it.

Sue Bonzell:¬†So when you’re out, playing gigs, these kind of things, have you ever forgotten the lyrics to your own song?

Craig Campbell: All the time.

Sue Bonzell: Really?

Craig Campbell:¬†All the time. I’m the worst with lyrics and it never fails if I forget something, like a lyric to a song in the early part of the show, it derails the entire ship. It just gets into my brain. Yeah, I forget words all the time.

Sue Bonzell: Are you ready with the lyrics and are you ready to sing a song for us?

Craig Campbell: Yeah. What do you want to hear? You tell me.

Sue Bonzell:¬†I don’t know. What do you want to play? What do you love to play? What’s your favorite song to play? Or you could play the new one, if you wanted.

Craig Campbell: All of them. [singing Never Mine 00:14:32]

Sue Bonzell:¬†That is fabulous. I’m so excited to hear that song on the radio. Honestly.

Craig Campbell: You and me both.

Sue Bonzell:¬†I think you’ve got some shows coming up this fall? Do you have an album coming out?

Craig Campbell:¬†We are working on a new album. Actually going to be putting out a double album. Should be about 24 or 25 songs. The first half will come out this fall. There’ll be 13 and 14 songs on that one. Just excited. I’ve had these songs for a while now and finally get a chance to put them out, because I am proudly independent. I can do whatever I want with my music.

Sue Bonzell: Nice, I love it.

Craig Campbell:¬†We’re letting them free.

Sue Bonzell:¬†That’s perfect. I love it. Now. You’re in Nashville, right?

Craig Campbell: Just south of Nashville, a little town called Eagleville.

Sue Bonzell:¬†I’m out here in the wine country. I got to ask, do y’all drink wine? Do you like wine? Does your wife like wine?

Craig Campbell: We love wine.

Sue Bonzell: Oh, good!

Craig Campbell:¬†We are Cabernet drinkers and once Grindstone Cowboy gets up and running, we actually are going to start a sister company called Winestone Cowgirl, and that’ll be a boutique wine store.

Sue Bonzell:¬†You guys are my favorite right now. You’re my favorite. Can I be a consulting wine buyer?

Craig Campbell: Absolutely. You are from the Northern California, Napa-ish, whatever? Caymus is our favorite.

Sue Bonzell:¬†Well, obviously, come on. You got good taste, right? It’s Caymus.

Craig Campbell: Caymus is our favorite, even above Opus and all of them. Once you get to where Caymus is, they all get relative to me after that.

Sue Bonzell:¬†That’s awesome. We might have to have another chat and talk a little bit more about wine, so we’ll look forward to doing that.

Craig Campbell:¬†We’ll get my wife in on that one.

Sue Bonzell:¬†I’d definitely love to meet her. Is she there?

Craig Campbell:¬†Yeah, she’s over there somewhere.

Sue Bonzell:¬†Does she wants to say “hi”?

Craig Campbell:¬†Do you want to say, “Hey”? You can’t see yourself, but just come over here.

Sue Bonzell: Hello. How are you?

Craig Campbell:¬†She can’t hear you, because I’ve got buds on. She says, “Hello. How are you?”

Speaker 3:¬†Hello, I’m good.

Craig Campbell: And then this is Kansas.

Sue Bonzell: Oh my goodness. Look at that.

Craig Campbell: And then Anabel.

Sue Bonzell: Oh my gosh.

Craig Campbell:¬†I don’t know why y’all came over here. Get away. Go on now.

Sue Bonzell:¬†I was going to say, do you have to have an extra room in your house? You’ve got it.

Craig Campbell: Yeah, we do.

Sue Bonzell:¬†Well that is fantastic. I really, really want to thank you for your time today, for joining us, and sharing a little bit about you and your music. And we’ll look forward to hearing the song on the radio and following you everywhere you go.

Craig Campbell: I appreciate it. Thank you for having me.

Sue Bonzell: You bet. See you soon.

Craig Campbell: Alrighty.

Sue Bonzell:¬†Thanks for tuning in to UpNCountry, where we have new episodes every Tuesday and be sure to visit upncountry.com for all of the episodes and information about our VIP club, where you’re going to get exclusive backstage access. And if you’re on Instagram or TikTok, make sure to follow me, Sue Bonzell. I’ll see you next week.