EDGERTON—Craig Morgan doesn’t put on airs. He doesn’t pander, and he isn’t polished.
Ask the country singer known for such songs as “Redneck Yacht Club,” “That’s What I Love About Sunday” and “International Harvester” if he’s been to Edgerton before, and he won’t pretend he remembers.
“I really don’t know. After 20 years of so many shows sometimes exceeding 100 a year, it’s hard to relive them all,” he said. “A lot of guys would say, ‘Oh yeah,’ and then look it up online beforehand. I just can’t say for sure.”
That situation will change Friday, Sept. 6, when Morgan hits southern Wisconsin’s tobacco capital to headline Country Edge, the downtown music show that leads directly into the 30th annual Chilimania celebration the next day.
The whistle-stop in Edgerton comes as Morgan nears the release of a new, yet-untitled album—his first since 2016’s “A Whole Lot More to Me.” He plans to share some of the unreleased work from that album with Country Edge attendees.
“We’re going to do everything that they (the fans) hear on the radio. We’re going to do all the hits,” he said. “But we also want to integrate some of the new stuff because we’re excited about the new project. And you might hear a few songs that have impacted me as an artist and as a writer throughout the show.”
Note he says “a few songs” because hearing all of the music that molded Morgan would require an unreasonably long performance. When you’re a songwriter born into the business, a deep catalog of songs tends to come with the territory.
“I’m the only guy in the business that was literally born in Nashville. Grew up there. My dad was a musician,” he said. “It was always a part of my life.”
Initially, however, Morgan had no interest in following his father’s path.
“Unlike a lot of guys that have this desire to be in the music business, it wasn’t something I wanted to do,” he said. “I wanted to do something else, which is why I joined the Army. After being in the Army, I realized the one thing I thought I didn’t want to do was something that I really enjoyed, so I ended up getting into it anyway.”
After serving a combined 16 years of active and reserve duty in the military, Morgan shifted toward the music business with a clear plan in mind: to write songs. He admits he’s not too keen on being the center of attention on stage.
“Being an artist wasn’t part of my initial plan,” he said. “I just wanted to be a songwriter. But I like to think my singing and songwriting have gotten better and, like anything you do in life, the more you do something, the better you should be getting at it ... or you should think about doing something else.”
When it comes to writing new music or choosing songs to record, Morgan said he looks for what speaks to him while always considering whether or not it will speak to others.
“I don’t sell records to myself,” he said. “My intention is to sell music. That’s the business part of the music business, and that’s what we’re here to do. And I don’t write songs for me. I write songs I hope will affect other people in such a way that they get the urge to buy it. That’s what we do.”
Plenty of people have bought Morgan’s music over the years, and for that he is thankful.
“Every song, whether I wrote it or not, has a special place,” he said. “Each one was a milestone in my career. It’s all been very humbling.”
Morgan’s upcoming album—his 10th—is the next milestone. And as long as folks such as those coming out to Country Edge want to share them, Morgan is more than happy to keep providing them.
“I’m always trying to work hard and achieve new goals, maintain success and just be relevant,” he said. “The day I’m not relevant in the business anymore, I’m going to move on.
“If I’m not doing things that are good for the business or good for the people around me, I don’t want to be here.”