Luke Bryan's 'Dirt Road' leads to Nassau Coliseum

Luke Bryan kicks off his "Dirt Road Diaries"

Luke Bryan kicks off his "Dirt Road Diaries" tour Feb. 7 in Uniondale. (Dec. 10, 2012) (Credit: AP)

Luke Bryan is a laid-back guy.

The "Tailgates and Tanlines" country singer is best known for a mix of happy-go-lucky songs, as well as a string of EPs celebrating spring break, with the fifth and latest installment due out next month. And he will soon be trading comedic barbs with Blake Shelton as co-host of the Academy of Country Music Awards in April.

But when it comes to the Dirt Road Diaries Tour, his first as an arena headliner, Bryan gets serious about making sure folks have a good time at his shows. (The tour stops at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday.)

"Anytime it's your sandbox and your world and you can create what you want, it's pretty damn awesome," says Bryan, calling from a tour stop in Florida. "I knew how I wanted the show to flow, and we set out the vision and put it to motion."

For Bryan, that means plenty of production meetings with his team about lining up the right sound packages and lighting rigs. It also means making sure his music gets fans in the right mood.

"I just want them to have a great time and keep a smile on their faces," he says. "I want the vibe to feel like you can let your hair down at this concert. Nobody's going to be judging you for having the time of your life... [People need that] now more than ever."

Bryan would certainly know that "having the time of your life" feeling.

At the American Country Awards in December, he landed an amazing nine awards -- including artist of the year, album of the year for "Tailgates and Tanlines," and single of the year and video of the year for "I Don't Want This Night to End."

"That was one of the highlights of my career," says Bryan, the 36-year-old son of a Georgia peanut farmer. "It was a completely amazing night that I will remember forever. I never thought I would get that many awards. It was really a big deal. I was just super-flattered."

Bryan works to keep that feeling in his music. He has almost wrapped work on the follow-up to "Tailgates and Tanlines," due out later this year, which he calls "another step in the right direction." He also is working on a video for his latest "Spring Break" EP that will arrive next month.

Bryan, a married father of two sons, says he still feels the importance of spring break in his life. "It's just a complete association of fun," he says. "It's great for me to write music that has that mentality."

While he uses the memories of the spring breaks from his college days for inspiration, he also looks to make new spring-break memories each year when he heads down to Florida to play shows there.

"My wife gets on the bus, and we go down and have a great time each year," he says. "It's still a big time way of life for us. We enjoy it, and as long as I have the ability to not outgrow it, I'm gonna fight the urge and not outgrow it."

However, Bryan is excited about growing into the new role of co-host for the Academy of Country Music Awards in April, stepping into the role the legendary Reba McEntire has held for so many years. It's quite a leap to co-host, considering it's only been three years since he won best newcomer at the ACM Awards, though Bryan says he's ready to work hard to prove to organizers they made the right choice.

"I don't ever really get into the game of questioning things that are happening in my life," Bryan says. "I just hold on and enjoy it and make the most of the opportunity."

WHO Luke Bryan

WHEN | WHERE 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nassau Coliseum

INFO $25.25-$50; 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com

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