Tyler Farr may be a newcomer in the country music world, but he’s already seen his fair share of the road.
He’s been touring nationally since before the release of his four-song digital EP, “Camouflage,” in late 2010. That same year, he played 210 dates as Colt Ford’s opener on his U.S. tour, and in 2011 he toured with Jerrod Niemann and Lee Brice.
But Farr, a Missouri native, cut his touring teeth even earlier than that. At age 16, his mother married George Jones’ guitarist DeWayne Phillips, who promptly took Farr with him on Jones’ U.S. tour that summer. Although Farr had dabbled with guitar prior to this tour and had been exposed to some country music, riding on the tour bus with Jones’ band and seeing Jones perform every night inspired him to become a country musician.
“Any time you’re around someone of that magnitude, obviously you’re gonna be influenced by them — that’s what guys like that do to new artists and singers,” Farr said recently from his home just outside Nashville.
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: GE Theatre at Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
How Much: $17.50
More Info: 346-6204, www.proctors.org
“I was 16, so I didn’t know fully who George Jones was yet — I knew of him, but that was about it. I got out there, I remember standing at the side of the stage listening to him sing, and just being infatuated with the music. Something made me gravitate towards that style of music, and that wouldn’t have happened at that age, at that point in my life — I probably wouldn’t [be] where I’m at here.”
Growing on the road
With two singles, “Hot Mess” and “Hello, Goodbye,” out last year, a third, “Redneck Crazy” on the way, and a debut album in the works for sometime in the spring, Farr is looking ahead to another busy year. He’ll kick off touring in 2013 by kicking off WGNA-FM’s Rising Stars series at Proctors’ GE Theatre tonight. It will be his first upstate New York show.
“Surprisingly, in New York I have quite a few people on Twitter and Facebook and stuff — I’ve already had some people hit me up about the show coming up,” he said. “It always just blows my mind. I never expect people from New York to know my music, to know who you are. It’s just kind of weird.”
With the amount of touring he has done and will continue to do in the next year, it’s fortunate for him that he enjoys traveling. Although he does admit to some homesickness from time to time, for the most part touring has helped him grow as an artist.
“There’s gonna be those times out there where you think, ‘Good Lord, can I get some rest?’ Or whatever,” he said. “But it helps you, it helps you grow as an artist, as a person, getting to see all these different places and discover new cities you’ve never been to before.”
For seven years now, Farr has lived in the Nashville area and has slowly been making his mark. His first gig in the city was as a bouncer at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, where he eventually scored a performing slot four nights a week.
Through these performances, he caught the attention of fellow country singer-songwriter Rhett Akins, who took Farr under his wing and became one of his earliest songwriting partners.
In the past few years, Brice has become another go-to songwriting partner for Farr — the two co-wrote a song along with Thomas Rhett titled “She’s Just Like that,” which ended up on Joe Nichols’ 2011 album “It’s All Good.” Both Brice and Akins will have co-writing credits on Farr’s coming album.
“I’ll maybe go on a bus with Lee over the weekend and we’ll write, or we’ll be out playing together one weekend and we’ll write out there,” he said. “He lives right down the road from me, so we’ll sit in Lee’s garage and come up with stuff. Rhett was just over here the other night — he was over at my house, and we just go to town, just write and pile these songs up.”
Farr considers himself a songwriter first, and his personal lyrics deal with everything from heartbreak on “Hello, Goodbye,” to the point of view of a soldier on “Camouflage.” But just as he’s given his songs to other artists, he has also recorded songs from other songwriters for his debut, with about half the songs coming from outside writers.
“I’m not one of those guys who has to make sure that I write my whole album,” he said. “It’s about picking the right songs, and not just whatever you write.”
At the pace he writes, he’s hoping to continue contributing material to other artists.
“I’ll always be a songwriter, and there’s times where someone wants to cut one of my songs and I don’t have an album coming out,” he said. “The thing is . . . not every song you write is going to be for you. It may not be the right song, and someone else wants to cut it. . . . Hopefully, over the years I’ll grow with that and be established in that area too. That’s really important to me.”