Artists Testing The Country Waters

They may have gotten their starts in the pop/rock world, but The Doobie Brothers and Uncle Kracker are among a group of artists warming up to country.

As reported earlier this month, The Doobie Brothers have been working their single “World Gone Crazy” at country radio. Now comes the news that the band will make its Grand Ole Opry debut on Sat., Feb. 26. Founding members Pat Simmons and Tom Johnston, along with members John McFee (formerly in Southern Pacific) and Guy Allison, will be joined by touring member John Cowan, of New Grass Revival fame.

The band, celebrating its 40th Anniversary in April, has long flirted with country sounds, with songs such as “Black Water” and “Long Train Running.” Their newest album, World Gone Crazy, continues the country connection with a guest performance from Willie Nelson on “I Know We Won.”

Uncle Kracker has enjoyed some country crossover success for several years, spurred originally by his connection with Kenny Chesney and their hit “When The Sun Goes Down.” Uncle Kracker’s recent radio hit “Smile” was also a success on the country charts. His collaboration with Kid Rock, “Good to Be Me,” is nominated for ACM Vocal Event of the Year at the upcoming awards show.

Now Kracker is in Nashville recording his new album with hitmaking producer Keith Stegall, according to Billboard. Among the writers contributing songs are J.T. Harding and Shane McAnally, who scored as co-writers of Chesney’s latest hit, “Somewhere With You.”

Kracker is set to hit the road with Chesney next month.

Other rockers venturing into the country world as of late include Staind frontman Aaron Lewis. Of course, the biggest crossover success story in recent memory is Darius Rucker, whose 2008 country debut Learn To Live spawned three No. 1 singles and helped earn him a Top New Artist CMA Award.

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Sarah Skates has worked in the music business for more than a decade and is a longtime contributor to MusicRow.

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