Come a little closer and Jason Michael Carroll will tell you a story. In fact, that's what the country star is best at.
Carroll, who will perform a free concert at 4 p.m. Sunday at DelGrosso's Amusement Park in Tipton, has made his young career on the heartfelt narratives of songs like "Alyssa Lies" (a cautionary tale about child abuse), "Where I'm From" (about his rural roots) and "Hurry Home" (about a father and daughter reuniting after the girl runs away from home).
They may require the listeners to pay a bit more attention, but Carroll wouldn't have it any other way.
Jason Michael Carroll will perform at DelGrosso's Amusement Park in Tipton at 4 p.m. Sunday.
"Country music to me always told the best stories anyway," he said in a phone interview with the Mirror last week. "Having a song that tells a story, that's one of the reasons I got into country music. ... Having a chance to go and sing that kind of song, it's pretty exciting."
The 31-year-old Carroll is proud that songs like "Alyssa Lies" cause emotional responses in his fans: because they also cause an emotional response in him.
"The fact that the songs mean something to me is why I sing them," he said. "Country fans are not stupid, they can sense when somebody's being real, being true."
Yet to come
DelGrosso's Amusement Park hosts many events throughout the summer, including:
Sunday: Country singer Jason Michael Carroll and Children's Miracle Network Telethon
17: WTAJ-TV Drug Free Awareness Day
19: WPSU Kid's Day, featuring "Arthur's Wonderful Kind of Storytime"
4: Summer Thunder 2010 fireworks display
16: Bellwood-Antis Community Picnic
17-18: 13th annual Native American Pow Wow
29: Altoona Mirror Day
1: Country singer Daryl Worley
6: Tyrone Community Day
5: Frontline Youthfest, featuring contemporary Christian artists Sidewalk Prophets, Remedy Drive and Curt Cloninger
19: 21st annual Italian Food and Heritage Festival
See www.delgrossos.com/events for more information.
Carroll's desire to be "real" led him to leave his record label, Arista Nashville, last year, shortly after "Hurry Home" peaked on the country charts.
"It was just time to move on and go our separate ways," he said, adding that he was looking for a label that "would really get behind my music."
Carroll's last record for Arista, 2009's "Growing Up is Getting Old," threw the spotlight on Carroll's love of his family, which includes his wife, Wendy, and his four children, three from a previous marriage. Though he's very close to his family, he admits it can be hard to leave them to go on tour.
"You have to miss certain things that you don't want to miss, (like) having to make phone calls for birthdays," Carroll said. "That can get a little tiring. I'm all about family, man."
With his split from Arista, no more singles are forthcoming from "Growing Up is Getting Old," but Carroll says he hasn't stopped making new music.
"We just got out of the studio, recording some new stuff. We're gonna start playing that stuff live," he explained. "There's a song called 'Meet Me in the Barn' that we just started playing. It's really getting a good response. It's got everybody excited about it, everybody we see at the shows, and my band is real excited about it."
One thing Carroll isn't so excited about? His look.
Formerly long-haired with a signature slim goatee, he woke up one morning last fall and decided to change his image. The result was a clean-shaven appearance with shorter hair swept back behind his ears.
"It's been interesting. I think the person that hates it most is me," Carroll says with a sigh.
Asked whether he's considering returning to the long-haired rocker look, the singer answers quickly: "I'm thinking seriously about it."
Carroll's concert is the first of DelGrosso's annual Summer Concert Series, and the park's marketing manager, Jeff Ingram, says the show is one they've been looking forward to.
"We're excited about Jason Michael Carroll for a number of reasons," Ingram said. "We certainly want to have someone who's entertaining and fun and progressive."
Ingram suggests that those attending the concert get an early start.
"We think, based on (Carroll's) history and background, we're expecting a crowd," he said. "We're suggesting people come early."
Ingram noted that Sunday is also Children's Miracle Network Telethon Day.
"It's a great day all around," he said.
Mirror Staff Writer Keith Frederick is at 946-7466.