Fresno Beehive

Jon Pardi cracks country scene as a (neo)traditionalist

Country singer Jon Pardi plays the opening slot on Dierks Bentley’s
Country singer Jon Pardi plays the opening slot on Dierks Bentley’s

Jon Pardi walks the line, to quote Johnny Cash.

The Academy of Country Music’s Male Vocalist of the Year plays well balanced neo-traditional country music, which means he’s equally at home (and accepted) playing alongside Alan Jackson or Dierks Bentley. He’s done both. Jackson personally chose Pardi as the opener for his 25th anniversary Keepin’ It Country Tour in 2014 and Bentley tapped him to join Cole Swindell in opening slots on his What the Hell tour, which stops Saturday at Fresno’s Save Mart Center.

“I just always wanted to sound country,” says Pardi, talking on the phone in advance of the concert. He means ‘90s country, the kind of stuff he grew up on, though he adds in some modern elements. Otherwise, he’d simply be retro.

Right now, Pardi is a rising star.

Along with his ACM win, he is featured in the Country Music Hall of Fame’s “American Currents (Music of 2016)” exhibit, along with Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton and others and is the first country artist to be part of VEVO Presents video series, which in the past has featured the likes of Ariana Grande, Bastille and The Weeknd. Pardi’s album “California Sunrise” debuted at the top of Billboard’s Country charts and was one of Rolling Stone’s 25 best country and Americana albums in 2016.

Bentley chose Pardi for the tour for just that reason, and because he knew the singer would deliver the goods every night. Though, to hear Pardi tell it, he lobbied hard to get himself the spot. There were plenty of group texts back and forth between him Bentley and Swindell. “I was working him,” Pardi says.

Pardi’s set is a quick one – just 30 min – but the band has it dialed in, he says. So, you’ll want to get to there early. Especially, if you’re a fan who caught Pardi when he was in town, playing the amphitheater at Woodward Park.

Or, at that quick radio gig he did down at the Boot Barn, though Pardi doubts anyone remembers that gig, he says, with a laugh.

“No one gave a shit we were playing the Boot Barn in Fresno.”

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee