ELIZABETHTOWN, Kentucky (AP) — Country star Luke Bryan was a bit stiff as he stepped onboard his tour bus in the middle of a soybean field in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. His right arm hung limp in a sling, a casualty of breaking his collarbone during a bicycle accident the day before during his previous tour stop in Tennessee.
But instead of canceling his show, he switched his microphone over to his left hand and took to the stage, shaking his hips to the music. A few days later, he had surgery to "bolt it back together," as he described it, so he would heal faster.
"I will never outgrow being clumsy," Bryan says. "And now I gotta answer questions about it for the next five months."
But Bryan isn't going to let a broken bone stop him from his Farm Tour, which is a passion project for the reigning CMA entertainer of the year. He's been doing the Farm Tour for eight years and it's grown in scale and purpose. This year, he put out an EP to go along with the tour, similar to what he did for years during his annual Spring Break tours.
The Farm Tour brings Luke Bryan concerts to working farms in small agriculturally focused communities and cities throughout the South and Midwest that don't have an arena or venue large enough for his regular tour. Crews erect a massive stage in pasture land or hay field and 15,000 fans drive through winding dirt paths to get to the stage. It's like a country version of Bonnaroo, but for one night only.
Bryan feels right at home on Highland Farms in Kentucky. He grew up in a farming business, the son of a peanut farmer in Leesburg, Georgia.
"I spent the majority of my life thinking I would work in agriculture," Bryan said. He was drawn to music as a teen and graduated from Georgia Southern with a business administration degree. His passion for music persisted until he finally made the move to Nashville, Tennessee.
"I think I picked the right profession," Bryan said. "Farming is pretty brutal, but you know it's also a very fulfilling life. I could have farmed the rest of my life and really had a fun, happy enjoyable life."
Bryan provides a scholarship for a local college student at each of his stops on the Farm Tour, which runs until Saturday. By the end of this year's tour, he'll have given out 50 scholarships.
"On a lot of these farms, these kids from farming backgrounds, they don't want to go to college because they don't want to leave their family with the burden of the farm," Bryan said. "So hopefully we can kick-start their college career."
Follow Kristin M. Hall at twitter.com/kmhall