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Mark Wills to bring his hits back to The Maryland Theatre

September 01, 2012|By AMY DULEBOHN | amyc@herald-mail.com
  • Country singer Mark Wills is also known for his charity work and for hosting "3 Gun Nation" on NBC Sports.
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He's a platinum-selling artist with eight Top 10 country hits and he hosts a TV show for NBC Sports, but on a recent Wednesday morning, Mark Wills was walking through his local Walmart, looking for a way to replace a pair of faulty brake lights on wife Kelly's truck.

"I'm a giver," he said, during a telephone interview from said department store.

"I just get to be the one who comes to Walmart and hangs out for a little while while everybody else goes about their daily lives and does their stuff," he said with a laugh.

Wills will bring that family-oriented energy and humor to the stage of The Maryland Theatre at 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7. He said he is looking forward to the show.

"Anytime you get to play a nice, little, what I call a sit-down venue, those are a lotta fun. It makes for a good concert experience for the fan," he said, noting that the event is much different than at an outdoor venue.

Wills, who also performed at the theater in 2000, said Friday's concert, "should be a fun show."

He promises to perform music from his latest album, "Looking for America," as well as fan favorites from days gone by.

"The shows that we're doing right now really just constitute around the hits," he said. "I love to play the new stuff, but after 17 years of hits, a lot of it comes down to people coming to the show, wanna hear the songs that they've heard on the radio, the songs that mean something to them. So we try to balance our live show now with all the hits, throwing in some of the new songs that we feel like have the potential to be hits."

One of those songs will no doubt be "19 Something," which spent six weeks at the top of the country charts and was named the second most-played song on radio for the 2000-2009 decade. Wills said he wasn't surprised at the magnitude of the song.

"When I heard '19 Something,' I instantly thought, 'Holy goodness, that is one of those songs that comes along very rarely,." he said. "We made it the first single off of the greatest hits package. And man, what a great experience."

The song references pop-culture and national events from the 1970s and '80s, including Farrah Fawcett, Rubix Cubes, MTV and the 1986 explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger. The single strikes a chord with the masses, too, at least those of a certain age, he said. "('19 Something') is one of my favorite songs to sing because of how many people really sort of get it. They enjoy that song. They have a good time with it," he said.

"Don't Laugh at Me," another hit for Wills, which, like, "19 Something," was nominated for Single, Song and Video of the Year by the Country Music Association, is another one that's meaningful not only to Wills, but to a legion of fans.

"(The song) basically has taken on its own life and become huge," he said. "You don't get much better than that. I love it probably more than any other song. That song is so special to so many people in so many different ways."

In addition to singing and touring, Wills hosts the TV show "3 Gun Nation." The show has just been picked up for a third season. Wills was about to head to Kentucky from his Georgia home for filming the show, and that played a hand in getting his wife's truck repaired.

"(I'm) getting my wife's truck fixed so I can put the trailer on my truck  ... for a big '3 Gun' match. I take a couple weekends off during the touring season to be able to go and play shoot 'em up. and hang out with my shooting buddies," he said.

"3 Gun Nation," which explores the world of target shooting, gives Wills a chance to spend some additional quality time with his daughters, Mally, 14, and Macey, 9. Both of the girls are great shooters, he said.

"It's pretty neat that dad's got a pretty little blonde-headed girl that loves to get out and shoot guns with the boys," he said of Mally.

And as for her younger sister, "she's actually a better shooter than I am. She's Annie Oakley," he said.

Wills also hosted a series on GAC called "The Year," and has done voiceovers in animated films, he said.

In addition, Wills is a spokesperson for the Children's Miracle Network, an organization close to his heart.

"It's such a wonderful group of people that raise money selflessly for the children's hospitals around the country," he said. "It's great to call them friends and travel around and do some really wonderful things for some very special families."

In addition, Wills has made several trips to the Middle East to entertain soldiers.

"I'm getting ready to make my 11th or 12th trip this month. And we get to do what I call the hardship tour. I get to go to Hawaii and Okinawa, Japan, to do some shows. Its the only tour that I've ever done like this. The only other tours I've done have been to Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait. That's where I feel those men and women need (entertainment) the most. We signed up for the tour before we knew where it's going," he said.

At the end of the day though, it all comes down to the simple things in life, said Wills, who was named Top New Male Vocalist in 1998 by the Academy of Country Music.

"I'm pretty blessed to be able to do a lot of cool things," he said. "I've been very fortunate for quite awhile to be able to travel and sing my music and at the same time have some pretty neat hobbies."



If you go ...

What: Mark Wills in concert

Where: The Maryland Theare, 21 S. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown

When: 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7

Tickets: $15 to $25 and available at www.mdtheatre.org, or by call The Maryland Theatre box office, at 301-790-2000

More: The Boro Boogie Pickers will perform at 6 p.m. Friday as part of the theater's Wind Down Fridays. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets cost $5; $2 for children ages 12 and younger

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