Jason Aldean shouldn’t be a country superstar. He shouldn’t have 12 No. 1 singles, shouldn’t be selling out football stadiums and baseball parks — or be packing 20,000 fans into the Tacoma Dome on Friday night.
His country music dreams should have ended like so many others do in Nashville, when a Music Row executive slammed the door shut 13 years ago. Except it didn’t happen like that.
Aldean, from Macon, Ga., got a rare second chance and signed to tiny independent label Broken Bow Records in 2004. Now a 36-year-old veteran and star, he’s been repaying the label’s faith in him ever since with five platinum-certified albums, including his latest, “Night Train.”
“For about five years I was trying to get another deal and couldn’t get another record company to touch me,” Aldean said. “I signed with (Broken Bow) knowing it was going to be an uphill climb at that point because they were an independent label and typically in Nashville most independent labels don’t have that kind of success. For whatever reason the stars lined up.”
The stars aligned with Aldean’s self-titled debut in 2005 and went on to hit a fever pitch with 2010’s “My Kinda Party,” which produced three No. 1 hits. He said he tried to not let the monster success of that album affect his thought process when producing “Night Train.”
“We were coming off ‘My Kinda Party,’ which was a huge album,” Aldean said. “I think when you come off a record like that a lot of times it’s easy to put pressure on yourself to match the success of that record. I really didn’t do that. I just wanted to go in and follow that album up with one that was cool and that I’m proud of, and I think we did that.”
“Night Train,” featuring songs written by previous collaborators Neil Thrasher and Wendell Mobley, as well as tourmate Thomas Rhett, is a carefully curated collection of tunes that evokes a little Southern rock and the pop theatrics of Journey. It’s full of the kind of crowd-pleasing, radio-friendly hits that translate best in venues such as the University of Georgia’s Sanford Stadium, where Aldean recorded a show in April for a DVD set to hit store shelves next month.
“It was probably one of the biggest highlights of my career playing that show, just being from Georgia and growing up a huge Georgia (sports) fan,” Aldean said. “Just being able to go back to my home state and put a show on, on that scale, was pretty incredible.”
Don’t expect anything less Friday night. Jake Owen and the youngster Rhett, 23, open; then comes Aldean, the man who shouldn’t be there.
7:30 p.m. Friday, Tacoma Dome; $37.84-$66.30; (800-745-3000 or Ticketmaster)