It could be easy to peg Luke Pell as one of those ‘what you see is what you get’ sort of guys – essentially a football player turned reality star turned country music wannabe looking to extend his stardom anyway he possibly can.
But not so fast.
Because anyone who has taken the time to listen to the gritty, Eric Church-esque voice on the West Point graduate and former U.S. Army Captain quickly realizes that there is much more to this Texas native than just movie star looks and gossip-filled storylines.
There is just one problem.
LUKE PELL AND LOGAN MIZE
With: Elizabeth Lyons
When: 7:30 p.m. April 6
Where: Joe’s Bar, 940 N. Weed
He still has to convince Nashville.
“Nashville is a very competitive town to start a career in,” Pell remarks in an interview. “It’s all about earning your name on Music Row and truly earning your stripes. I mean, it’s all about who you know. You end up getting used to the realization that everyone around town is watching you. Everyone judges you in one way or another.”
And while this realization may sway others into a different musical direction, it serves as nothing more than another challenge for Pell, who has longed for a country music career since turning on Garth Brooks on his radio back in his home state of Texas.
“Country music has its shares of ups and downs,” says Pell, who will play Joe’s Bar in Chicago on April 6 alongside fellow country artist Logan Mize on the Hometowns and Highways Tour. “It’s a long journey to success for many, and that’s fine to me. Every corner holds itself another new surprise and a new challenge. We played a show in downtown Manhattan recently for the first time and the fan turnout and reaction was so encouraging. It makes all the long hours and travel worth it.”
Granted, Luke says that he realizes a good portion of his current fan base knows him from his days starring on the 12th season of ABC’s “The Bachelorette” and most recently “The Bachelor Winter Games.” “It’s been a real interesting experience working in reality TV,” says Luke, who signed a publishing deal in Nashville back in 2016. “It can be really trying. It definitely has its pros and cons. Luckily, many of my current fans fell in love with my story from the show and then stumbled across my music.”
And while Luke was widely rumored to be named the 21st “Bachelor,” his single days just might be behind him. “I’m at a point where everything is changing for me,” explains Luke. “Being on a reality show, everyone knows about your personal life, which can be rather tumultuous. But right now, I am at a point in my personal life where I’m in a relationship and I’m in love and I’m excited. It’s a new spot for me. I’m content and happy. It feels much better than being on a roller coaster all of the time.”
This personal contentment has led to songs with a whole new attitude. “Writing has been different for me as of late,” says Luke, whose album “Come Back Road” reached the top 20 on the Billboard Country Albums chart as well as the top 20 on the iTunes All Genre chart. “When you walk into that writing room, its all about how you are feeling personally that day, so I’ve been writing a bunch of positive songs lately. (Laughs) I’m excited to put some new music out there.”
And yes, he can’t wait to get that music in front of his fans. “I’m slowly getting to that point where we have fans who don’t even know that I was on a reality show, and that’s very cool for me to see,” explains Luke, who played 100 dates last year throughout the country. “I’m so excited to play Joe’s Bar in particular. We played Joe’s Live in Rosemont last year and the fans were just crazy. And now to have the chance to play the iconic Joe’s Bar is just a dream come true. There are so many artists, true heroes of mine, who played Joe’s Bar early in their career and now they are all blossoming. I can only hope that if it happened for them, it can happen for me too.”
We have a feeling it just might.
Tricia Despres is a local freelance writer.