If you’re into country music, then you are sure to know songs by Phil Vassar. This Nashville resident has written some of this genre’s biggest hits for the likes of Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson and Jodee Messina (just to mention a few). He has 10 No. 1s, 15 Top 10s and 26 Top 40s with such songs as “Six-Pack Summer,” “Just Another Day In Paradise,” “Carlene,” “Little Red Rodeo,” “American Child” and “My Next Thirty Years.” Needless to say, when this man sings people listen. He’ll be coming back to Maine for a show in Skowhegan at the Moose Festival on Saturday, June 9. He called from his home in Nashville to chat about that show.

Q: So you’re coming up to our neck of the woods again, I hear.

Vassar: I know! I’m excited and I can’t wait. I love Maine, it’s always fun, it’s always beautiful, too. I have a lot of friends up that way and a lot of my family lives in Maine, like my uncle. They’re more in the South Harpswell/Bar Harbor area and Portland. So I’m excited to get back up there and see everybody.

Q: You’ve got a new album out now, correct? Called “American Soul,” I believe?

Vassar: Yeah, it came out in the fall, we’ve got the Deluxe Summer Edition of that out now. We had another album come out in just the U.K., we just did that in the last month-and-a-half. So, yeah, we’re still cranking along, still cruising, and I think I’m having more fun now than I’ve ever had in my whole life playing music, I really am, so I’m very lucky.

Q: On your website I noticed that after the Skowhegan show the touring seems to slack off a bit, I imagine a break from the road gives you a well-deserved rest.

Vassar: Yeah, definitely, but the thing of it is, we still do a lot of corporate events and things like that that never show up on the calendar. I mean, we did three of those last week, Tucson, Kansas City and Chicago. We were all over the place with that. We try to mix them in because I really like doing those things, you know? I’m playing one this Thursday for the PGA golf tournament, so I’m doing two this week. People look at the calendar and go, “Oh, you’re off this week!” and I’m like, “Ah, nope!” We kick back on tour this summer and in the fall pretty hard, all the way through September and October. We have another Christmas tour coming up with Lone Star this December, so that’s going to be a lot of fun. tThey’re great guys. So we’re cruising right along, my brother.

Q: I’d like to ask you about songwriting, if I might. It seems to be something that comes fairly easy to you, or am I out in left field with that assumption.

Vassar: No, no you’re not. I mean, for me it’s almost like trying to find time to do it. It’s not like it used to be when I was writing all the time, I wrote every day, now I tour so much and my TV show “Songs from the Cellar” is starting to air in the fall and I shot all of that last year.

Q: A television show?!

Vassar: Yeah, it was recorded at my house in my wine cellar and it’s really cool. I’ve had artists from Peter Frampton to Styx to Steve Cropper, a lot of great songwriters, a lot of country guys — but also Mike Tyson did my show and Carrot Top and people like that. I mean, Brenda Lee did my Christmas episode, which is pretty cool because she’s my freaking hero. To have folks like that come over to my house and do this thing with me is absolutely fascinating, you know?

Q: Yeah, I do, that’s really amazing. Where can folks find this TV show?

Vassar: I think it starts airing nationally on PBS in September. That’s exciting for me, I’m really pumped about that — and we’re starting to look at this year. We’re going to do some stuff at Francis Ford Coppola’s vineyards too. I mean, it’s going to be great. I’m pretty sure I have the best job in the whole world. Between that and touring, things are pretty stacked up. I don’t get to write as much as I used to but I’m still doing it.

Q: So when one considers your touring, a television show, songwriting and recording, is there anything you haven’t done that you’d like to do?

Vassar: Well, I’m a terrible dancer.

Q: So no “Dancing With The Stars” for you then?

Vassar: Oh, they asked me to do that show years ago but I said, “No, that would be awful!” and they said, “Oh, but it would be funny!” and I said, “Well, I don’t want to be remembered as the guy who was an awful dancer!” But anyway, I just feel like now I’m free to do what I want to do without any labels looking over my shoulder. I can create my music and put it out when I want and play wherever I want. I really feel a lot of empathy for these guys today who really have to do the dog-and-pony show that they have to do, it’s a hard business. It’s so different than it used to be and I feel so blessed that I don’t have to worry about it, you know? It’s really nice.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this article about your show coming up in Skowhegan?

Vassar: I’m just excited to get back to Maine, to get back to that part of the country. That particular weekend we’re doing Massachusetts and Maine and Albany, it’s just a beautiful run and we love it up there, especially that time of the year. A helluva time, it’s exciting!

Lucky Clark, winner of a 2018 “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award, has spent 49 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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