COLUMBUS. Ga. (WRBL) — It’s all about telling a story people can relate to. Or at least, that’s how Alabama country artist Jonboy Storey feels about his music. Before Storey takes to the Uptown Columbus stage this Friday at 7 p.m. on the 1000 block of Broadway as part of the fall Friday Night Concert Series, he met up to discuss his music and changes in the country music industry.
“Around the Alabama area, [country] is what everybody grows up on,” said 26-year-old Storey, who grew up in Phenix City. He explained why he chooses to create country music and continued, “I listen to a lot of stuff besides country, but that’s one of the main things that, you know, I listen to all the time, so it kinda just comes with the territory.”
The artist’s latest release is “Good To Be Back” (2023), which currently has nearly 12,000 streams on Spotify. In comparison, the artist’s most-listened-to song on the platform to-date is his 2019 single, “I Can Live with That,” with over 100,000 streams.
Storey has been writing songs since he was a teenager. He said his biggest musical influences include award-winning country artists Jon Pardi and Eric Church. While Pardi is known for songs like “Heartache on the Dance Floor” (2016) and “Starlight” (2019), Church’s hits include “Talladega” (2014), “Springsteen”(2011) and “Some of It”(2018).
Sonically, elements present in Storey’s music reflect these influences. Like Church, many of Storey’s songs feature softer vocals and modern, yet stripped-down instrumentation. The danceable nature of Pardi’s hits also rings true in Storey’s songs, like “Cowboy She Needs” (2022). Many of his releases have an up-tempo feel, reminiscent of Morgan Wallen’s 2023 single, “One Thing at a Time.”
While these elements can be found across Storey’s songs, he noted his music has changed over the years.
“I look back at some of the songs I’ve written when I was 13 and look at some of the songs I’ve written now, there’s a big difference,” said Storey. Part of the shift comes from practice, but a lot of it comes from having different experiences as he’s gotten older, Storey explained.
Regardless, Storey added that this is an exciting moment for country music.
While performers like Zach Bryan, Tyler Childers and Oliver Anthony have recently taken over the limelight bringing mainstream recognition to the genre, they’ve also made time to play smaller venues. Bryan is set to make a tour stop at the Auburn Rodeo on Oct. 7, following the release of his self-titled album which came out just under a month ago on Aug. 25.
“It’s really cool that you get these big people coming out to small areas,” said Storey. “You don’t have to go to Nashville to see, you know, Morgan Wallen or whoever you want to see. They’re actually coming to you out here in the country.”
Bryan, Childers and Anthony’s music all plays into a stripped-down, folkier-sounding subgenre of country music. According to Storey, the rise in popularity for this sound is almost cyclical. What was popular five years ago will eventually make its way back to the forefront of the genre.
The key, he explained, is rolling with the punches.
“It all comes back around eventually,” Storey said. He added these shifts ultimately impact his work, pushing him to explore features of popular, contemporary country in his music.
Storey said he was “over the moon” when Uptown Columbus’ concert series organizers reached out to him to perform.
“It was an automatic, ‘Yes, I’d love to,’” he said. Storey explained he has been coming to concerts in the area for years. Now, he has the opportunity to transition from crowd member to performer.
On Friday, Storey plans to play the Uptown stage “until they shut us down,” which he expects to be around 10 p.m. Storey will play two sets, separated by a performance from local pop-country artist Mili West. West is currently a student at Glenwood High School.
According to Storey, concertgoers can expect him perform many of his original songs, including his current favorites “Dad” (2020) and “Thank You for the Doubt” from his 2018 EP “Mr. Heartbreaker.” Both songs, he said, tell stories close to his heart and hold sentimental value.
Storey added he also plans to cover several songs by Church during his sets.
After his Friday Night Concert Series appearance, Storey’s upcoming shows include opening for Clint Black at the Dothan Civic Center on Oct. 7. He is also looking forward to another performance in Columbus on the evening of Nov. 22, where he will join Sonia Leigh, a two-time hit song writer and Storey’s long-time friend, at The Loft.