PANAMA CITY BEACH — In a conversation last summer, Spinnaker’s general manager, Sparky Sparkman, said country music was a big part of the beach club’s atmosphere.
“Where we are really defines the type of place we are,” he said. “We are in the Deep South, and we have a large contingent of our following that’s really into country music, New Country, classic rock ’n’ roll, and some alternative rock.”
That’s certainly true with Spinnaker’s lineup of free concerts scheduled during Spring Break, which started Thursday with the Chris LaneBand and continues today with Rodney Atkins. The country singer takes the Waterfall Stage about 4 p.m. for a free, all-ages, general admission concert, so show up early to get a good spot.
According to his official bio, Atkins’ smash single, “Take A Back Road,” celebrates the feeling of getting away from the noise of everyday life, really living in the moment, and getting right with your soul. That may seem like a deep thought for Spring Break crowds, but it isn’t really: He’s telling them to enjoy the moment while it lasts.
“What does it mean to follow your own path?” the Tennessee native said. “I try to think about that a lot when I’m making an album. To me, it’s going somewhere you’ve never been, because when you do that, you wind up seeing things that no one has seen before, which means you can paint the picture differently.”
The next free concert — Sunday — will paint a little different picture with the Randy Rogers Band from Texas. The five-man group has recorded four studio albums and two live albums, and have charted seven singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. “One More Sad Song,” released in late 2012, was the band’s first Billboard Top 40 hit.
Then the “Rebels on the Run,” Montgomery Gentry, will perform Monday. Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry are Kentucky boys who say that, when it comes to them, what you see — and hear — is what you get.
“We don’t act like we don’t drink or cuss,” Montgomery said on the duo’s website. “We have faults like everybody else, and that’s who we are.”
The duo’s new album brings Montgomery Gentry fans back to their working class origins, but with a fresh attitude.
“We are blue-collar workers, and we lived the songs that we sing,” Gentry said. “Because of that, our fans are able to make the connection, and when they hear our songs, they know we are singing with passion and we know what we are talking about.”
Next up: Country superstar Luke Bryan will return for his fifth consecutive Spring Break visit to Spinnaker, performing for two days — Tuesday and Wednesday. Again, the time will be about 4 p.m., with free admission for all ages.
Last spring, he stopped the music long enough to exhort the crowd: “It is Spring Break; it is the time of your life! Do you understand that? … Here’s the deal: We gonna play till the sun goes down.”
In the years he has visited, Bryan has released five Spring Break-theme albums, including his latest, “Spring Break: Here to Party,” which was released Tuesday. The CD is available online and in record stores, and contains many of the songs previously released on EPs, as well as two original songs.
Bryan shot his “SunTan City” music video at Spinnaker, where an estimated 40,000 fans flocked to the beachside to see him perform during his two-day visit in 2012. His latest hits include “Drunk on You” and “Country Girl.”
“It’s been the best time ever,” Bryan said of his last visit to Spring Break in a video interview on his YouTube Channel. “It’s been an awesome time down here.”
Lee Brice, who has toured with Bryan in the past, will bring the next free performance in the series on March 17. And although at age 32 he’s still a relative newcomer to the country music scene, he said he feels like he’s growing up.
“I’ve done a lot more singing, not just in the studio but live,” he said in an official statement. “I’ve done about 200 shows a year for the last five years, and I realized that you can move people and peel their faces back without necessarily screaming at them. I’m just learning there is a patience that you gain with experience and I’m trying to dig in. You could be a great singer or performer, but it’s the whole package that makes an artist. It starts with the music that’s out there.”
Brice’s sophomore album, “Hard 2 Love” demonstrates that new maturity and patience, according to reviewers. It’s more cohesive than his first album, “Love Like Crazy.”
“Everything on the new album is very pertinent to who I am right now and where I am in my life,” Brice said. “I have some very personal stuff on there, and I had to be really honest with it. Hopefully, folks will see that.”
Currently, the spring series is set to conclude on March 22 with a performance by Big & Rich, the duo of John Rich and Big Kenny Alphin made famous by “Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy.” They were recently nominated for an Academy of Country Music award as Top Vocal Duo after releasing their new album, “Hillbilly Jedi.”
The Force is with them, as the album contains great party songs like “Party Like Cowboyz,” “Rock the Boat” and “Get Your Game On.”
“It came out in a writing session we were doing with Richie Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi,” Alphin said, explaining the album title. “We got to that line (in the song ‘Born Again’) and Bon Jovi stops and says, ‘Hillbilly Jedi? That’s it! I’d buy that shirt.’ We were like, ‘Hey, that’s about as descriptive as you can get of what we are.’ ”
- Where: Spinnaker Beach Club, Panama City Beach
- Who and When: Rodney Atkins, Friday, March 8; Randy Rogers Band, March 10; Montgomery Gentry, Monday, March 11; Luke Bryan, Tuesday and Wednesday, March 12 and 13; Lee Brice, Sunday, March 17; Big & Rich, Friday, March 22. All times approximately 4 p.m.
- Details: SpinnakerBeachClub.com