Press and News
Country singer Denny Strickland no longer horsin' around, gets his 'Swerve On'
By: Kevin Wierzbicki AXS Contributor Feb 5, 2015
Rising country star Denny Strickland is no stranger to the spotlight, it’s just that the light is shining from a different angle these days. Not so long ago Strickland was traveling the country as a competitor in American Quarter Horse Association events, a pursuit that ultimately earned him a world title. Now he’s on the road promoting his new single, “Swerve On.”
In a way, it was a horse show that provided Strickland with a way into the music business. After participating in a competition in Tunica, Mississippi, Strickland was relaxing in a bar and ran into Marshall Grant, whose expansive resume included things like being a member of Johnny Cash’s band and serving as manager of the Statler Brothers. The meet would lead to Strickland being mentored by Grant, who passed away in 2011. No doubt he would be proud of his protégé today.
Strickland was understandably depressed by Grant’s death, something he says he is just now getting over with the release of “Swerve On,” a feelin’ good, drinking and carousing song currently working its way onto the country charts. We sent Strickland a few questions by email, asking about his horse show days and how they prepared him for the ride he’s on now. Below are his answers, given exclusively to AXS.com
You are an American Quarter Horse Association champion. Can you explain exactly what that is, and how you achieved it?
One of the most popular AQHA show events is “Western Pleasure.” Contestants compete simultaneously, riding the perimeter of the arena. At the discretion of the judge, you are asked to walk, jog, lope and reverse the direction of the horse. Horses are evaluated on quality of movement while staying quiet and calm, traveling on a loose rein. I was awarded a world title in this event when I was younger.
You were handing out demos back in your days on the horse show circuit. Did your schedule allow any time for performances back then?
It did, I was invited to play at many different sponsored AQHA arenas and functions. I got exposure in Texas, Ohio, and back down to Mississippi as well as on the west coast.
Would you like to comment on your relationship with the late Marshall Grant?
He was a great man that I learned a great deal from. His involvement with me in the early years of my music career was a once in a lifetime experience that I'll never forget!
What did you learn on the horse show circuit that you can now put to use as your music career takes off?
We traveled a lot with the horses and that's something that's prepared me for the constant travels I'm facing today. Not to mention, the early performances gave me the chance to learn about putting together a live show.
It looks like you had a lot of fun making the video for “Swerve On.” Can you tell us about that experience?
We did! The drag race scene was fun. They told us to keep it to a minimum on our speed but I had to go all out. I'm not one to fake anything! Everyone was very professional on the set. I'm looking forward to the next one!
It’s cool that in “Swerve On,” a song with lots of drinking references, that there are lyrics about handing over the keys and not driving. Could you comment on the inclusion of that sentiment?
Yes. If you’re gonna drink and go all out have a designated driver (DD) ‘cause it just might be me you run over! I've been a DD I don't know how many times. It's better to be safe than sorry!
Are you working on a full-length release at this time? Can you tell us a little about any of the songs you’re considering for the effort?
At this time we are song searching for possible contenders to be thrown in the mix. You'll just have to wait and see. Until then keep getting your “Swerve On”!
Your bio mentions that you have boundless energy. What do you enjoy doing when it’s time to unwind?
I'm not one to stay still for too long. I'll usually get something cool to drink and try to cool off! I'm usually burning up when I leave the stage. If there’s something going on after the show I'll usually go and chill for a bit. You never know where I might be. I've shown up at some random places but one thing about it, it's always fun.
More fun with Denny Strickland is available at AXS.