It only took one word for Brad Paisley to express what he expects to contribute to this year's Stadium of Fire on Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo. "Noise," Paisley said.
Not just any kind of noise. The 38-year-old Paisley is the Country Music Association's reigning Entertainer of the Year, and his newest album, "This is Country Music," released May 23, has already posted a No. 1 single, the 19th of Paisley's career.
Paisley, who's married to actress Kimberly Williams and has two sons, said that it's important to him for people to get their money's worth. "When I take my family to a show," he said, "I want it to be something they'll remember."
Known for his high-energy performances, Paisley said that he hopes to get people on their feet at Stadium of Fire. He also thinks that country music is a natural fit for the strong emphasis on celebrating America that comes with Stadium of Fire, the showpiece event of America's Freedom Festival at Provo. "Of all formats of music out there," Paisley said, "the one that's not afraid to wave the flag, or support the troops, is country."
Paisley will be joined on the Stadium of Fire stage by David Archuleta, the "American Idol" runner-up from Murray who's promoting a new album of his own, "The Other Side of Down," released Oct. 5. The two won't be performing together, Archuleta said, but he's happy to be on the same bill.
Paisley, Archuleta said, is "a really great guy. I'm looking forward to watching him perform." The two met briefly in 2008 when Archuleta presented Paisley with the award for Favorite Country Male Artist at the American Music Awards.
For Archuleta, this year's Stadium of Fire is a return engagement (it's Paisley's first appearance at the event). When he was 12, in 2003, Archuleta sang the national anthem at Stadium of Fire (another country artist, Martina McBride, was the headlining act that year). "It was really a crazy experience, but it was really great to get to do it," he said.
Paisley said that he's enjoyed celebrating the Fourth of July since he was a kid growing up in West Virginia. His father, a state department of transportation official, ran the town fire department, and Paisley got to ride in a fire truck each year and pass out candy during parades. "It's really one of my fondest memories," he said.
Archuleta remembers going to Murray Park to see the city fireworks display with his family. "We'd get the sparklers out and run all around," he said. "It was always a really fun experience to do as a family."
It will be a while before either Paisley or Archuleta puts out another new album, but both are keeping busy. Archuleta said that he's enjoying "working on new music" without having a recording deadline looming. "I'm just trying to focus on my sound and experiment," he said.
For Paisley, there's a book set to arrive in November, "Diary of a Player: How My Musical Heroes Made a Guitar Man Out of Me" (with David Wild). Paisley, whose guitar playing is often cited as being among the best in any genre, said that Steve Warner, Vince Gill, Eric Clapton and Eddie Van Halen are among the guitarists who influenced him.
Paisley has been playing since age 8, but said that the guitar didn't come naturally to him, something that didn't really occur to him "until I'd been around some."
"I didn't take to it like some sort of prodigy," he said. "It's not like there was some electric shock when the guitar was handed to me and the heavens parted."
The secret, he said, is effort. "There's people with more ability than I have," he said, "but I don't think they work as hard as I do."
Archuleta said he's kept track of "American Idol" since Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez were added as judges. He said that he "really likes" the new judges, but that he doesn't know whether he would have done any better under their tutelage than he did with departed judges Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul.
Clint Eastwood won't be at Stadium of Fire this year, but Paisley did convince the iconic movie star to assist him with "This is Country Music" -- the octogenarian tough guy does some whistling on the instrumental track "Eastwood." Paisley said that he loved the fact that Eastwood was "willing to goof around with me," and that the movie star was refreshingly ego-free.
So will Eastwood be returning the favor with a role for the country singer in one of his upcoming movies? "I greatly doubt it," Paisley said. "He hasn't called."