Country Convert

Darryl Worley arrives at country stardom near midlife, but his brand of traditionalism may have fresh legs

"You've got people that are born with talent but who are largely unaware, unschooled, in other areas," says co-producer Rogers. "But Darryl's book smart, common-sense smart, and music smart, with a good grasp of what he wants to sound like and look like. There aren't any decisions being made for Darryl that he doesn't have a hand in, whether it be the music or the marketing. One thing is certain -- he's not anybody's puppet."

The good news on Worley is that he isn't some purty young Garthified showboater who was born in the age of Eddie Rabbitt. He cites Merle Haggard, Jones, Faron Young, Willie Nelson and Keith Whitley as influences, and he knows Hank's honky-tonk from a hole in the ground. And it shows. He's a traditionalist, like Jackson, with pop traces, not the other way around.

His voice, which is stronger now than on his first disc, leaves the vapor trails of the men listed above. Nevertheless, the lyrics are concise and smart. Like Dwight Yoakam, Worley writes or co-writes almost all of his songs, and he's successfully learned to de-intellectualize the material. "Darryl doesn't overthink the music. I think of it as intelligent simplicity,'" says Rogers. "His epicenter is Savannah -- small-town Tennessee. That's where his heart and soul and music is. At his age, and with his experience, he gets the big picture of life and music and family and friends, and he communicates all of that with music that is simple but never dumbed-down."

I miss my lunch: Not even a recent bout with the flu can stop Darryl Worley's ascendancy.
I miss my lunch: Not even a recent bout with the flu can stop Darryl Worley's ascendancy.

Details

Scheduled to perform with Trace Adkins on Friday, November 15. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets range from $19 to $37.50. Call 602-267-1600 for more information.
Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street.

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The result is music that is Tennessee-whiskey strong, and unabashedly country, but not without a bit of a pop chaser here and there. As to whether Worley is going to be the next Alan Jackson, it appears that Alan Jackson will be Alan Jackson for some time to come. But it might not be surprising if, some years down the road, someone might tout an up 'n' comer as the next Darryl Worley. Stranger things have happened.

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