Frankie Ballard: 5 things you may not know

The highly anticipated Florida Georgia Line “Anything Goes” Tour hits the Miami Valley this Friday. Unless you’ve been taking a nap for the past three years, “FGL” consists of Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, two tattooed young men who’ve taken country music by a storm, winning countless awards from a bunch of No. 1 hits and selling out shows left and right.

Now on their first headlining tour, Tyler and “BK” are bringing their act to Wright State University’s Nutter Center. Along for the ride, Thomas Rhett and Frankie Ballard. It seems the show’s been practically sold out even before tickets went on sale, if that’s possible.

If you weren’t able to score a ticket, you can still get a taste of a third of the lineup for free at W.O. Wright’s after the show. The 32-year-old will be performing a short acoustic set to what is sure to be an amped up crowd.

The “Sunshine and Whiskey” singer has been in the business for a while, but is finally getting the street cred he deserves. Whether you’re already a fan, or a fan-in-the-making, here are five things you may not know about Frankie Ballard:

1. He’s from the home of Pop-Tarts. Frankie comes from Battle Creek, Mich., which not only has given us the deliciousness of the tarts but also endless amounts of Kellogg’s cereals such as Frosted Flakes. Yes, Frankie is “grrrrreat!”

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2. How does a kid from Michigan end up in country music? Frankie told me, “People always ask me, ‘What do you know about country music? You’re from Detroit!’ My parents still live in the same small house I grew up in. Michigan is full of middle-class, blue-collar, hard-working people, which is what country music is all about.” My dad turned me on to outlaw country. We would work in the yard listening to Waylon and Willie and Johnny Cash.

3. He’s clean cut now, but he wasn’t always that way. “I wore my hair really long for over 10 years. I woke up one day and thought, ‘I’m gonna get my hair cut.’ It’s a lot easier now.” And he has ink. “My full proper name is Frank Robert Ballard the Fourth. One of the tattoos is in honor of the first Frank Robert Ballard, my great grandfather, born in 1887. I’m a Christian, so this other is an old-school snake and dagger, but it’s going through the snake, symbolic of that whole Jesus thing of slaying the serpent.”

4. Prior to touring with Florida Georgia Line, Frankie has hit the road with Bob Seger and Taylor Swift. “I played in some of the same arenas on both tours, but a Taylor Swift crowd is waaayyyy different than a Bob crowd. Bob’s tour was the complete opposite with a bunch of Harley rock ’n’ rollers out there. On the Taylor tour, I was new, and her audience didn’t know who I was, but they treated me like I was in The Beatles! I’m playing acoustic, and when I got close to the stage, these girls would scream — it was shocking! I’m throwing my picks out to them, which costs about 12 cents and they’re fighting over them. And glitter everywhere! But it was amazing. Once you go on tour with Taylor, you get credibility with her fans, ‘Oh he’s with Taylor, he must be OK.’ ”

5. He’s copped a clue. “I used to party a lot back in the day. When I was in my early 20s, I didn’t see much of the daylight hours, but now I have wisdom. Back then, most of my day leading up to a show was trying to figure out when I could take a nap. Now that I’m more ‘mature’ (he laughs), traveling to all these new cities, instead of napping through it, I go out and try to experience something unique to that area.”

You’ll never know where you’ll find Frankie Ballard, but for sure on Friday night he’ll be at the Nutter Center and W.O. Wright’s afterward, wide awake.

Nancy Wilson is a morning radio personality for K99.1FM.

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