SCRANTON — In one of his earliest performances, Drew Baldridge donned a white glove and red jacket and danced to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in a second grade talent show. Behind his hit single ‘Dance With Ya’ the grown Illinois country artist is two-stepping all the way to Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Part of Froggy 101’s Guitars & Stars 12, Baldridge performs at 5 p.m. May 10, at the Scranton Cultural Center with fellow country artists Charles Kelley, Granger Smith, Michael Ray and Brandy Clark taking the stage beginning at 7 p.m.
Baldridge was named an up-and-comer by CMT, Country Weekly and Taste of Country. “Dance With Ya,” a tune featuring funky guitar chords and a horn section, ranked No. 48 on the Billboard country airplay chart as of April 28.
“I just love to dance,” Baldridge said. “I always wanted to write a song that would make people dance, and I could dance on stage and have a good time too.”
With influences as disparate as Josh Turner and James Brown, Baldridge has flavored his twang with pop funk and soul and worked dancing into his live show.
“Now, the whole show, we’ve got choreographed around a bunch of fun songs, up tempo things, and it makes for a really good time,” Baldridge said.
The popularity of his genre-bending hit, Baldridge said, has made him more confident in following his instincts.
“We knew it was going to be really different for country music, but I was OK with it,” Baldridge said. “I’m not going to stick to any boundaries. I’m going to make the music I want to make and see how the world reacts to it.”
So far, the world is dancing along side Baldridge.
The songwriter releases his newest record “Dirt On Us” June 10. The album features upbeat songs like “Dance With Ya” and “Train” as well as small-town country ballads like “Tractors Don’t Roll,” a reflection on Sunday as a day of rest in Baldridge’s hometown of Potoka.
“I wanted my album to be a mixture of small-town, real life with some good grooves on it,” Baldridge said.
Working with friends Chris Yarber and Jake Mitchell as well as award-winning writers Monty Criswell and Tim Nichols, Baldridge said the album’s 13 tracks were the best the team could deliver.
“I’ve learned so much from these guys,” Baldridge said. “You learn so much so fast about how to craft a good song.”
Baldridge said he’s excited to get the album off the ground and to visit the Northeast, where he’s aware there is a big market for country music.
“I really think my music fits the mold with the Northeast lifestyle,” Baldridge said. “We’re going to be playing acoustic … so you can expect some fun covers. You’re going to hear some of the new songs off the album … but you can expect us to play ‘Dance With Ya’ and some other songs we’re really known for.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArts
If you go:
What: Froggy 101’s Guitars & Stars 12
When: 5 p.m. May 10
Where: Scranton Cultural Center, 420 North Washington Ave., Scranton
Ticket information: Prices range from $18.50 to $83.50 depending on seating and ticket package. Tickets are available by visiting www.scrantonculturalcenter.org, visiting the Fidelity box office or by phone at 570-344-1111.