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Hoopla

Jordan Booker, opening for Billy Currington in Cedar Rapids Thursday, straddles line between country and rock

Ashley Brooker

Jordan Brooker will open for Billy Currington July 25 at McGrath Amphitheatre in Cedar Rapids.
Ashley Brooker Jordan Brooker will open for Billy Currington July 25 at McGrath Amphitheatre in Cedar Rapids.

Jordan Brooker couldn’t stop listening to Billy Currington’s “Like My Dog” when he first heard the track nine years ago.

“That song really connected with me,” Brooker said while calling from his Nashville, Tenn., home. “It had a big impact on me and that led me to the rest of Billy’s catalog.”

When Currington performs July 25 at McGrath Amphitheatre, Brooker will catch his set. He’ll have a good view, too, since he’ll be watching from the side of the stage as he’s opening for Currington.

“Like everyone else that comes out that night, I’ll be looking forward to seeing Billy perform,” Brooker said. “The guy has been rock solid for many years. As far as country goes, Billy has been a big influence on me.”

Brooker, 27, who is touring behind his self-titled debut album, which was released in November, is just as influenced by rock as country.

“I love both styles of music,” Brooker said while calling from his Nashville home. “What I’m most about is real instruments played by real people. I’ll see as many rock shows and as many country shows as possible. I just saw Jimmy Eat World and Third Eye Blind last night. It was an evening of two great bands playing hard.”

Like Jimmy Eat World and Third Eye Blind, Brooker comes up with plenty of hooks.

“There’s nothing wrong with singing catchy songs,” Brooker said. “I was born in 1991 and that was when Nirvana and Soundgarden broke. Both of those bands wrote and recorded some heavy songs, but the songs were catchy. That was particularly so for Nirvana. I went from that to the bands that emerged the last decade like Augustana. I love the power of rock.”

About a decade ago Brooker discovered Dierks Bentley.

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“I got really into Dierks,” Brooker said. “I remember listening to the radio while my mom was driving and Dierks came on and I was like, ‘This guy is great.’ I love his approach. The songs are catchy but also gritty.”

When he started making music a decade ago it was natural for him to combine country and rock.

“I was compelled to marry those schools of musical thought,” Brooker said.

Brooker, who grew up in tiny Spencerville, Indiana, is adept at melding modern country and alt-rock. “Over My Head,” Brooker’s initial single from his EP, is a country-rock anthem that tells the tale of a man, who lost his girlfriend. She starts the next chapter of his life while her former boyfriend is fixated on why she left. It’s a classic tale but with updated sonics. It’s impressive how Brooker writes with so much detail.

“I love songs that paint a vivid picture,” Brooker said. “I look at Bruce Springsteen, who is incredible. Bruce is an unbelievable storyteller. You look at what his songs are made up of and that has had a huge impact on me. Hardy (Brooker’s songwriting partner) told me that I have a Springsteen-esque quality to my voice. So I dove into his catalog and I can’t get enough of it.

“When you look at Springsteen or Billy Currington, it doesn’t matter what the genre is. It’s not about rock or country. It’s about writing the best song possible. I love to tell stories in song. Music has changed a lot since I was born but one thing that hasn’t changed is that if you have a great song, people will want to hear it.”

WHAT: Jordan Brooker will open for Billy Currington

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. July 25

WHERE: McGrath Amphitheatre, 475 First St. SW, Cedar Rapids

COST: $37 to $77

DETAILS: (319) 362-1729, www.mcgrathamphitheatre.com

ARTIST’S WEBSITE: www.jordanbrookermusic.com/

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