Nathan Carter’s wagon wheel all set to rock into the Curragh

editorial image
It’s the day after rising country music star Nathan Carter found out that he’s won the gigging musician’s equivalent of the Euromillions.

It’s the day after rising country music star Nathan Carter found out that he’s won the gigging musician’s equivalent of the Euromillions.

Word came through last Thursday to the ‘Wagon Wheel’ star that he will support superstar Garth Brooks on two nights of his Croke Park run this July.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” said the 24-year-old, on the prospect of opening for Brooks in front of 80,000 people on the Wednesday and Thursday nights of his five-date comeback tour.

“I had an idea over the last week that I might have gotten a chance to do a night or two, but I only got confirmation yesterday morning,” he said last Friday.

Aitken Promotions, which is handling the sellout Brooks concerts, proposed Carter for the plum support slot after he performed at their Marquee concert in Cork earlier this month.

“They put my name forward and said we’d be a good support act and I’m delighted that he heard my stuff,” said Carter.

Brooks has been one of Carter’s musical idols since he was three years old, belting out ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes’ (a song which came out the year before he was born - now there’s a fact to make you feel old) on a kitchen worktop at home in Liverpool.

His granny is one of his biggest fans and used to drive him to gigs as a teenager.

“I rang her yesterday and told her the news, and she was crying for a few minutes on the phone. She’s delighted - she’s coming over for it for sure,” he said.

The Croke Park gigs will be a ten-fold increase on the biggest concert he’s ever played, and Carter is hoping that visiting fans from across Europe and further afield will be introduced to his music.

“I’ve no clues yet on the set time, it’ll probably be around 45 minutes to an hour,” he said.

Born in England to parents with Northern Irish roots, traditional and Irish music was always a big part of the Carter household. Young Nathan left school at 16 to pursue his dream of a career in music, and settled soon afterwards in Donegal.

“I grew up on trad and folk music. The Dubliners and Johnny McEvoy were always being played in the house. I love older country music, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Buck Owens, so that’s where the influences have come from,” he said.

His boyband-friendly looks and willingness to engage with fans on social media has put him at the vanguard of rising young country music stars. He’s got five albums under his belt, but it’s his 2012 cover of Old Crow Medicine Show’s ‘Wagon Wheel’ (which has over 1,700,000 YouTube hits) that lodged him firmly in the Irish consciousness.

“Social media, definitely without a shadow of a doubt, has helped me immensely in my communication with fans. It can be ruthless sometimes - Twitter, especially can be hard work, and people can say whatever they want about you, but you have to get over it,” he said.

Though he’s best known for live shows featuring screaming female fans and cover versions of popular country songs, Carter is keen to introduce audiences to his own music.

“I’ve just come back from America where I played two gigs in Chicago and was songwriting in Nashville. I signed a five-album deal with Decca in England, who are part of Universal so it’s a worldwide deal and my new album will be released in Australia and Europe, so fingers crossed people like it,” he said.

Songwriting in Nashville, the home of country music and incubator of many modern country-pop fusion acts, was “fantastic,” he said.

“I got to work with somer really good writers. There’s a different buzz out there and you feed off other writers,” he said.

The new album is being recorded at the moment and is due for releaseby the end of the year, and will feature around 70 percent original material, said Carter.

“It’s definitely a great feeling when you write a song, and hear the crowd singing along to your own stuff,” he said.

On-stage, he looks to big stars for tips on how to keep the audience in the palm of his hand.

“I admire Brad Paisley hugely, and, also, in a different style, Michael Buble. He’s so charasmatic onstage and is one of my biggest influences,” he said.

Carter will headline the ‘DoneDeal Derby Friday Hoedown’ this Friday, June 27, at the Curragh.

The young star admits he’s not a follower of action on the turf, but added: “My grandad would be a keen betting man, so he’s coming over for the gig. He’s more interested in the racing than the concert! I’m looking forward to it. I played a couple of racecourses last year and they were the most memorable gigs I did. They’re fantastic fun. There’s a great atmosphere and a great buzz, so we’re expecting a good crowd.”

Nathan Carter will headline the Done Deal Derby Friday Hoedown at the Curragh Racecourse, on Day One of the Irish Derby Festival, this Friday, June 27. Racing starts at 5.25pm and the Nathan Carter concert will kick off at 8.45pm, after the final race of the evening. Friday is the opening party night of the three-day festival, with an eight-race card and the Food Paddock. Tickets (incl racing and concert) are €10 (sen/u25); accompanied u16 free and general admission €20.