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Brett Eldredge finds comfort making music

Brett Eldredge

Brett Eldredge

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♦ 10 p.m. Feb. 1

♦ Joe’s Bar, 940 W. Weed

♦ Tickets, $10

♦ (312) 337-3486

Updated: January 30, 2013 4:50PM

For someone who can effortlessly put his deepest feelings into a song, Brett Eldredge says he actually can hide his true emotions rather well out in the real world. Since making his Grand Ole Opry debut in 2010, he has traveled to small towns and toured in small tour buses and sang big songs over and over again with a smile on his face and a dream in his heart.

But this past January, Eldredge sat down, hugged his guitar and cried.

“The day I found out my grandfather had died was a day like no other,” says the 26-year-old from Paris, Ill. “I picked up my guitar and just started singing. Nothing made a whole lot of sense at that moment, but it helped me cope. Music has always helped me cope.”

Indeed, it was Eldredge’s grandfather, often standing just off stage in those small towns, cheering on his beloved grandson. “He was the inspiration behind a lot of my music,” he says. “We played a video at his funeral where he was dancing and singing. At the end of the video, he gave a big fist pump to the camera and smiled that smile of his. People were clapping and cheering. People don’t usually clap at funerals. . . . but he deserved every ounce of that ovation.”

And so does Eldredge.

A graduate of Elmhurst College, the Atlantic recording artist returns to Joe’s Bar on Feb. 1, eager to feel the love from the Chicago crowd.

“I play all over the country, but there is a real sense of community at Joe’s Bar that I don’t always get in towns that I have never heard of,” says Eldredge. “It doesn’t get any better than having a drink and singing a song with your family, friends and fans.”

With his debut album coming out later this year and his new single “Don’t Ya” currently climbing the charts, Eldredge currently finds himself at one of the most promising points in his young career.

“I’ve been out there for a few years, so I’m certainly not brand new, but things are starting to come together like never before,” he exclaims.

Working alongside songwriter and producer extraordinaire Luke Laird, Eldredge says collecting the songs for the new album has felt quite organic.

“I like to work under the pressure of having to get something done, so we did live and breathe in that studio for two weeks straight in order to really delve into the album,” says Eldredge, who has had a hand in writing a majority of songs on the new record.

“Sometimes in the studio, it can be really hectic and stressful. This didn’t feel like that. We were all in there having fun. And believe me, when musicians are enjoying themselves, it’s a good thing.”

With a voice that exudes a magical combination of innocence and heartiness, Eldredge officially came on the country music scene in 2010 with his hit “Raymond,” which told the gut-wrenching story of a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Tricia Despres is a local free-lance writer.

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