Updated: Aug 6, 2019
Nashville musician Luke DeJaynes has been on the road for two weeks now, playing drums for Jameson Rodgers, the opening act for country superstar Luke Combs’ first headlining arena tour. The "Beer Never Broke My Heart" tour (also featuring the band LANCO) is one of the hottest tickets in country music in 2019 – with many venues selling out the first weekend of ticket sales. The tour will stop in 28 cities in the US and Canada this Spring, with the final show on May 12 in the foothills of Denver, CO. “Saying yes to this tour checked a few more things off my bucket list,” says Luke, “and playing legendary venues like Red Rocks Amphitheatre was one of them.”
Luke has known Jameson Rodgers for several years, and recalls a phone conversation that took place nearly a year ago. “He called and said, ‘What are you doing in 2019?’ And I joked, ‘Probably retiring, why?’” Jameson told him he got offered to go on Luke Combs’ arena tour, playing for 10,000-18,000 people a night. After discussing it with his wife, Luke was all-in. “It’s a great gig in and of itself. But the fact that Jameson and the other guys in the band are good friends, it felt really right for me to take it.”
(Band backstage L to R: Jimmy Hendricks, Adam Flohmeyer, Jameson Rodgers, Luke DeJaynes)
In addition to being the drummer for Jameson Rodgers’ band, Luke is also the “show producer.” He spent months in his studio before the start of the tour creating song arrangements that will work better for the live shows. Luke explains that, for the most part, the band will play songs at a concert the same way as on the recorded versions. “But every chance we get to add something that’s just a little bit special, or a little extra flare to a song, we do. Sometimes we’ll make new intros to the song, or create a new spot in the middle if we know it’s a song the crowd will want to sing along with. So that’s part of my job, to help build those moments into the show and make sure the show is cohesive from start to finish.”
Another part of Luke’s job is to produce background tracks for the live shows. The recorded versions of the songs typically have 80-100 tracks of music happening, but on stage, there are only four band members. “So I’ll take some of the little subtle things from the record (tambourine, drum loops, etc.) and put them on a support track to fill out the sound so we don’t just sound like four guys in a garage.”
As the opening act on the tour, Jameson Rodgers’ band will play a 30-minute set of original songs. And while “Jameson Rodgers” is not yet a household name, some of the bands and artists he has written songs for certainly are. He co-wrote Florida Georgia Line’s “Talk You Out of It” and Chris Lane’s “I Don’t Know About You.” Jameson Rodgers’ band will play a mash-up of those two songs on the tour. “That automatically gives us a little more legitimacy with the crowd… for the people who don’t know who Jameson Rodgers is yet.”
Luke grew up in Iowa in a musical family. Before he was born, his parents toured full-time in a band in the Midwest. “Music has been a part of my family since I was in diapers.” He started playing drums at the age of four and guitar at 15. A year later, Luke and his father turned their garage into a recording studio. “We had a fishing boat and an old '57 Chevy. We sold both of those and just bought a bunch of equipment. All throughout high school, I was learning how to record and engineer and produce. That’s really what started me in this field.” With only one other recording studio in their town, Luke and his dad were busy every weekend working with local bands and artists who wanted to make records.
But his first love was baseball. “Baseball was pretty much my life through high school, and music was my side hobby.” (Luke traveled back to his home town last month when his 1997 baseball team was inducted into his high school's Hall of Fame - see photo below) When it was time to go to college, the baseball coach at Greenville University (near St. Louis) told Luke that the music program and baseball team were both very demanding, and advised him to make a choice. “I loved baseball, but I knew that road probably had a shorter lifespan for me.” He chose to double major in performance (jazz) and recording.
In the next ten years after graduation, Luke got married, had kids, toured with other bands, moved to Nashville and back to St. Louis again, played in a band with his brother, and taught drums at his old college. And then, in 2012, doors opened for him to move back to Music City. “I really felt like there was more that I wanted to accomplish.”
Luke confesses that he used to be somewhat of a snob when it came to country music. Then he started working in Nashville and saw “there is such a different set of talent that goes into this genre of music that I wasn’t even giving a chance, but then I really learned to love it and appreciate how amazing people in this town are.”
When the Beer Never Broke My Heart Tour ends later this year, Luke will have plenty of projects to come home to. He is in demand as a live and session drummer and guitarist, and he records and produces artists and bands at his studio. Additionally, Luke teaches at the Contemporary Music Center in Brentwood, which offers a semester-long program that prepares college students for careers in the entertainment industry while living out their faith as Christ-followers.
Luke says his true passion is developing artists and helping them find their vision or sound. “I love it when a young artist comes in here with some ideas for some songs, but they really need help shaping them into something that’s going to be a sound or a vibe or a final product that takes it to the next level. That’s what gives me the most satisfaction about producing and working in the studio.”
For more information, go to www.LukeDeJaynes.com
FUN FACTS AND TRIVIA
In his spare time, Luke enjoys listening to podcasts (Check out Astonishing Legends and Girls Just Pod to Have Fun with Jill and Kate)
Favorite Nashville restaurant: Pomodoro East
Favorite restaurant of all time: Pad Thai Café (Murfreesboro)
Favorite coffee shop: The Well on Old Hickory (Luke likes the Cuban)
Favorite book/movie: Harry Potter
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