After a mammoth 2022, singer Adam Doleac has continued to see his star rise this year. And that goodwill continues this week as the Mississippi native heads out on the road joining Old Dominion on the band's North American tour.
The trek, which kicks off Thursday night in Grand Rapids, Michigan, will include stops in Milwaukee, Detroit, Pittsburgh and more, and it comes as Doleac has been steadily releasing a string of singles, such as "Biggest Fan," "Wrong Side of a Sunrise," and most recently "Don't Make Me Get Over You," which dropped last month, following his debut album Barstool Whiskey Wonderland, which was released just months before the country crooner got married. A big year, indeed!
Of course, that hasn't kept Doleac from working on new music, which he has definitely been doing in recent months.
"I'm always working on new music for sure," says Doleac, speaking with Variance just days before hitting the road on the upcoming tour. "We took a couple days in Montana and turned it into a bit of—I mean, it's a little bit of a vacation but also worked on some new music. So, yeah, I've probably got about half of my second record done. There will definitely be some influence from that trip on there."
Doleac is quick to note another famous singer who happens to own property in Montana. That would be John Mayer, whose music Doleac admits has influenced his own, and it's something fans have come to recognize as he embraces the role of being the John Mayer of country music.
"I grew up listening to Amos Lee and John Mayer and Gavin DeGraw and that kind of stylistic music like that," says Doleac. "When I got to Nashville, I think there's a tendency to start chasing after whatever's on the radio or whatever your label thinks you should sound like, you know what I mean? And you're chasing this particular sound and a lot of times that's just not what you love to do. And so the longer that I continue to make music and write music, I'm just kind of getting a little more brave in the idea of putting out something that sounds like me and not chasing after anything else."
The singer, who has previous written for the likes of Kane Brown, Darius Rucker, Lainey Wilson and Dan + Shay, acknowledges this is an interesting time for country music, which continues to push the limits of what is a country song and who is welcome as a country artist, something celebrated by many but also frustrating for others. Doleac says, for his part, he'd rather focus on the core of the music rather than the genre.
"I think now more than ever, the most important thing that you can be with fans is honest," he says. "Fans need to believe you. So I think whatever your influences are, whatever you love, or whatever you grew up loving, I think leaning into that now is super important. And so I think that's what's translating across to fans."
He continues: "I think you're seeing with country music being a pretty broad category, and they've got people going more rock and people going more pop and whatever it might be. I think it just kind of doesn't matter now as long as it's believable. The most important person that needs to believe you is yourself. So I think it starts there."
While that concept might seem like a simple one, it's certainly a reflection of Doleac's own growth as an artist, having grown up loving sports such as golf and baseball, and earning a scholarship to play the latter at the University of Southern Mississippi, which might not have happened had his friends not encouraged him to play.
"I had a full ride to play golf," he explains. "I signed a full-ride in my junior year of high school and I hadn't played baseball since I was 12. My friends talked me into playing baseball my senior year and so I only played one year, and had a good year," he says with a chuckle. "I got a scholarship to play at Southern Miss, which was a top 25 team in the country. And I'm a bit of a gut feeling type of a person. So I had a gut feeling like, 'I can play golf 'til I'm 90. I should go do this baseball thing.'"
So that's what he did. And after a few good years, including making it to the College World Series, he was eyeing a career playing Major League Baseball. Meanwhile, something else was bubbling under, because outside of sports, he had also long loved music. He had a drum set since he was 2, and most of his teammates and roommates played guitar, which prompted him to pick up the acoustic guitar himself.
"It was pretty easy for me with my background in drumming, rhythmically," he recalls, saying it was mostly for fun around the house. "But [my teammates] kept telling me they'd hear me singing and they'd be like, 'You have a cool voice. You should sing in front of people.' And of course, I was terrified to sing in front of anybody. But they actually booked me like three shows around Hattiesburg, Mississippi, which is my hometown. And they were like, 'We booked you these shows, now you have to show up.'"
He adds: "I showed up at these little bars and like 500 people were there, mainly because people knew me from baseball, not because I was any good at music. But they were sold out. And I just kind of fell in love with it. I was so terrified. But I loved it, so much so that when it came to choosing Nashville or baseball, I chose Nashville and moved up this way. And that's how it all started."
Now he's hitting the road with Old Dominion, and after a run of shows with them, he'll join Carly Pearce on her North American trek, which kicks off in October. Doleac says he's excted, but he's also not taking anything for granted.
"It's been really cool to watch this year," he says, noting he recently capped his own headlining tour earlier this year. "And now people are showing up because of the music and not the baseball. So that's good. But I'm super excited to go out with Old Dominion and Carly. I think both are really, really good fits for what I do musically and, as an artist, it's the kind of stuff you dream of. I love their style. I'm really excited."■