HitShop Records artist Weston Burt has been getting an up close and personal look at the challenges an artist faces when trying to move a career from the launch pad to the country radio airwaves. Turns out in addition to working hard, he’s having a pretty good time.
Nekst: What’s it been like going on the road and visiting radio programmers to promote your first single, “Lucky Sometimes?”
Weston Burt: I realize I’m the new guy, so I’m trying to work even harder than everyone else. But going out to country radio has been eye opening, educational, scary, frustrating, exciting and delightful all at the same time. After many years of touring I’m used to life on the road, but by comparison a radio tour is slam tight. You get up at 5 am in the morning to catch a plane, arrive in time for a lunch appointment, then off you go to radio and dinner meetings. When do you work out? There’s no time. So, yes it’s very demanding, but in addition to meeting some great people there are all these places I’m getting to visit for the first time. This United States is so beautiful. I’d never been to Texas, California or Colorado, for example. So I’ve crossed a lot of stuff off my bucket list. Like where JFK was shot, which sounds a bit morbid, but it was something I wanted to see.
Nekst: Do any visits stand out in your memory?
Weston Burt: People warn you, “Be prepared,” but I haven’t found even one station yet that was bad. Everyone has been so open and thankful to have me. I’m thankful to them for taking the time. But there are some stations do stand out. For example, the first time I went to WQYK and met Mike Culotta in Tampa was so cool. They had posters up everywhere with my picture and the date of my visit. That made me feel so welcome. The entire office was there, almost 65 people. Everyone was so energetic, loud and happy it felt just like a concert. Mike is no longer at the station, but Brian Thomas and Jay Roberts are also great hosts.
Nekst: Have you developed any tricks for keeping track of everyone on the road?
Weston Burt: First, I keep notes from every visit and often will send hand written thank you’s. If you take time out of your day to sit down and write something, address and stamp an envelope it’s meaningful. But now that I’m starting to build some relationships I also might just call or even text to say “hello,” “thanks for adding my record,” or just “Happy Birthday!” It depends upon the person and how they like to communicate. I see it as a kind of partnership between myself and everyone at radio. I want to make it as easy as possible for these guys to get on board with me, but never impose.
Nekst: Did your Fort Payne roots effect upon your career?
Weston Burt: Alabama was definitely a big influence on me, but not just musically. I remember in second grade we had a career day parade where you dress up to show what you wanted to be when you grew up. One of my buddies was an astronaut, there were some doctors and a lot of guys in football outfits. I wore an Atlanta Falcons outfit and carried a guitar. I said, “I want to be a football player when I’m in high school, but a country music singer when I grow up.” Everyone just laughed. I didn’t know any astronauts, but we had four pretty successful country singers in Fort Payne proving that it could happen here. And Teddy Gentry, was my next door neighbor.
Nekst: It’s early in your career, but have you set any goals for what you hope to achieve?
Weston: I understand that paying your dues is more than just a cliche. We make jokes about it on the road whenever something doesn’t go right. But when it comes to music I want to be the best and at some point earn enough success to be able to headline my own tour. I’d also love to feel the validation of having a song I’ve written cut by another artist. But truly, if I can just provide for my wife and four year old daughter and not have to worry about money, enough to where my bills are paid, the family is fed and maybe we have a little bit in savings then I’m successful and it’s all worth it.