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Today in European Spotlight, Stripes talks with Doug Adkins, a country music singer in Germany:

How did you get involved in country music?

Everybody asks that. To be honest, I think when my voice changed and I couldn’t sing rock-and-roll anymore. But, seriously, my mother was a singer and I grew up singing music. In Montana, AM radio was what we had when I was growing up. FM actually came in when I was about 14 years old, so I had a lot of influence on AM radio and it was mostly country. So it just kind of got into your blood by default, I think.

How many records have you sold so far?

I’ve recorded seven CDs of original material, and for small artists usually 10,000 of each CD is pretty typical. But when you don’t have to pay a record label 95 percent, 10,000 is good. The big boys got to sell about 10 times that much before they see any money. So, in some ways, it’s almost better this way. But, yeah, probably about 10,000 of each CD I’ve put out.

How would you describe your music?

I would describe my music as pretty heavily blues-influenced and pretty heavily hard-core country-influenced.

So, how does somebody from Montana end up in Germany?

Well, I toured over here before, from ’90 to ’93. And then when my wife [who works for the Air Force in the Kaiserslautern area] had the option to be stationed over here, and I knew the country market was strong here. As an American or Montana guy in Europe, it works well for the military people because they get something authentic and it works well for the European people because of the same deal.

Do Europeans really like good ole American country music?

They love it. They love it. The Europeans are probably more knowledgeable about the old country music, certainly more than we are. We’re hooked on what’s out today. But country people are country people all over the world, and Americans find that hard to believe. But there are places just 15 miles or 20 miles over into the Alsace region [in France] that are as country as anything in Montana or Texas.

So Germans listen to more than techno, David Hasselhoff and bad American pop bands?

Yes. Exactly. All of Europe does. In Germany, there’s 20-plus stations that just focus on country music. And then in all of Europe there’s a bunch.

Do they know how to two-step?

You know, line dancing is huge over here. Huge. And if guy or girl can’t get somebody to dance with them, line dancing is perfect. So it’s very popular.

Is it true Garth Brooks almost recorded one of your songs?

Yeah, he was considering recording “To the Rodeo.” What I was told was he already had his songs set, not that he didn’t like it.

What did you do before this?

I managed a golf course for the Air Force for a few years. I managed a hotel restaurant and I did a lot of little things. I worked on pipelines. I worked on a ranch growing up. I worked on oil rigs in Montana. Tough. You know, oil rigs are not easy.

This is a lot more fun, right?

This is definitely more fun. I mean, can you imagine? This Saturday night, 500 people are going to buy a ticket to watch me sing country songs. Hell, I wouldn’t buy a ticket to watch me sing country songs. I wouldn’t do it. If I can’t get my tickets for free, I don’t go.

How far do you think your musical career could go?

Well, for me, you push it and work it as hard as you can and be OK wherever it lands. You play for the No. 1 and you’re OK when it comes at 160.

Interview by Scott Schonauer.

Doug Adkins

Age: 39

Country music singer, father of three, spouse and former Army infantryman

Europe readers: Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Send the person’s name and contact information to news@mail.estripes.osd.mil.

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