The 'Stars & Stripes' of country music

August 12, 2004|by ANDREA ROWLAND

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Fasten your seat belts for country musician Aaron Tippin's hard-drivin', foot-thumpin' concerts at Chambersburg's Capitol Theatre this weekend.

Tippin will perform at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 15.

"We think country music's fun, so we like to have some fun with it," said Tippin, 46, of Tennessee. "Tell everybody to wear their seat belts. This isn't going to be a sit-down show."

Tippin fans will be treated to a mixed bag of hits from the singer's collection of "blue-collar type of everyday music," he said. He expects to hear the audience singing along to a few of his time-tested favorites.


"It's cool to see people remember those old tunes," Tippin said.

Tippin's last Tri-State-area performance was at the WAYZ Summer Fun Fest in Rouzerville, Pa., in August 2001. His latest CD, 2002's "Stars & Stripes," hit record stores one year after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The musician wrote the title track, "Where The Stars And Stripes And The Eagle Fly," two years prior to 9/11 but cut the song right after the tragedy.

"There was a couple times it was almost impossible to get through it," said Tippin, who donated proceeds from the single - which zoomed to No. 2 on the Billboard chart - to the American Red Cross to distribute to 9/11 victims.

"The most important thing about it is that country fans went out and bought the record to help other Americans who needed help at the time," Tippin said. "I never expected any less. They're just plain good folks."

Tippin credits his father with instilling in him a deep sense of national pride. He likes to recall the time his dad laid down the law to two guys who continued gabbing while the national anthem was being sung at a football game. "He walked right down to 'em afterwards and said he didn't appreciate their disrespect," Tippin remembered.

He's been known as a voice of patriotism since his debut single, "You've Got to Stand for Something," hit in 1991 and became an anthem for a nation embroiled in the Desert Storm conflict. Such hits as "There Ain't Nothin' Wrong With The Radio," "Working Man's Ph.D.," "That's As Close As I'll Get To Loving You" and "Kiss This" cemented Tippin's loyal fan base on the country music scene.

"The fans are my mainstay," he said. "If I have hits, don't have hits or ain't had a record in three years, they appreciate me anyhow."

Flying high with country roots

Tippin said he admired the music of Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Thompson and Lefty Frizzell while growing up on a farm in South Carolina. He began playing guitar and performing at age 10. By 20, Tippin was working as a freelance and corporate pilot while building flight time and studying for his Airline Transport Rating - then the fuel shortage struck. As major airlines started furloughing pilots, Tippin started pursuing a career in music. He made the move to Nashville, Tenn., in 1986, and signed his first recording contract with RCA in 1990. Tippin joined Lyric Street Records in 1998.

He's always on the lookout for his next great song.

"There are a lot of great writers that I like to keep up with, but I'm always looking for that next guy in town that ain't had a hit yet," Tippin said. "I never turn my nose up at anything. It doesn't matter to me who wrote it if it's a great song."

Tippin also co-wrote several songs on "Stars & Stripes," including "Love Like There's No Tomorrow," a duet he wrote and recorded with his wife, Thea Tippin. The singer said he's mellowed since the early days of his career - learning to relax and take things in stride.

"I was from a world of aviation where pilots bark orders across the cockpit at each other and there's nothing wrong with that; it's how it goes. You don't have time to say 'please' much. When you tell somebody to put the landing gear down you mean right now. It's a different world," he said. "Now I try to relax about things that are out of my control. I appreciate what has happened and appreciate the things that are the most important to me in life."

Family man

While his musical career still keeps him busy - he took time for this phone interview while touring in Ohio - Tippin said he makes time for his wife, daughter Charla, 26, and sons Teddy, 6, and Thomas, 3.

"It's important to me to concentrate on my family," he said.

The Tippins own an outdoor supply store in their hometown of Smithville, Tenn. Aaron Tippin still pilots his own small airplane - and enjoys taking his young sons flying. The musician also dabbles in making wine. So how does he find time to maintain that trademark trim and toned physique?

Tippin said he works out every day - even while he's on the road.

He's now working on his next album.

"Just keep your fingers crossed," he said.

Up close and personal

To learn more about the musician, go to on the Web.

If you go

Aaron Tippin concerts

Capitol Theatre

159 S. Main St.

Chambersburg, Pa.

4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 15

Tickets cost $29, $31 and $34.

Tickets are available at the Capitol Theatre box office or by calling 1-717-263-0202.

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