KEARNEY — In concert, Tracy Byrd plans to play a lot of his hits from the 1990s that his fans remember.
“I won’t say we’ll be doing all the hits, but we’ll do almost all of them,” the singer said. “It’s nice to have the problem of not being able to do all of them every night. And I’ll throw in a couple things from my latest album and a couple of covers we like to do, just to give the concert a little variety.”
The country music star started his career in 1992 with the release of “That’s the Thing About a Memory.” That song didn’t break the Top 40, but a year later he recorded his first a No. 1 hit, “Holdin’ Heaven.”
“It’ll be a fun concert,” he said. “It’ll be country so if they don’t like country music they might want to stay away, but this is traditional country music. We carry the full band with steel guitar and the fiddle, piano, lead, drums and bass and myself playing the acoustic guitar. It’s good country music.”
Byrd will bring his band to Kearney for an 8 p.m. concert on Wednesday at the Merryman Performing Arts Center. Tickets for the show are $39-$50.
His list of hits includes songs like “Lifestyles of the Not So Rich and Famous,” “Watermelon Crawl,” “The Keeper of the Stars,” “Big Love,” “Don’t Take Her, She’s All I Got” and “I’m From the Country.”
When it comes to creating a hit song, Byrd knows it takes more than luck or a catchy tune. He can’t always tell if a song is going to resonate with his fans.
“I wish it was that easy,” he said. “I know I’ve had some of the best songs I’ve released as singles that ended up not making it up the charts. I don’t know about now. Things are so different with streaming and social media. It’s different than it was in my day. In my day, you relied on the radio stations.”
So many other forces determine the fate of a song that Byrd records.
“But I never let that sway me from the way I picked my songs,” he said. “I just went with that gut instinct every time — and about 70 percent of the time it was right. And that was good enough.”
Byrd agreed with the advice of “just playing what you like.”
“That’s very good advice,” he said. “If you’re going to give people what you are, you have to do it that way. That’s still good advice. At least that way you’ll be true to yourself. You feel like you’ve represented your style and your heart and your mind. You represented it authentically. That’s always very important.”
Success for Byrd stems from that idea.
“In the end, if you deal with it like that, you’ll be successful regardless of what the charts say,” he said. “At least you’ll enjoy singing the songs every night. If they become hits, you’re going to be doing them for the rest of your life. It better be something you like.”
Decades later, Byrd’s string hits still ring true for him.
“Everyone of them represents a time in my life, a success and a win,” he said. “They’re almost like kids. You can’t pick a favorite kid and you don’t dislike a kid because he’s been around a long time. They’re special in their own way and you’ve benefited from all of them in some way. You can’t give up on that kind of stuff so I still enjoy the appreciation of them being hits and to be able to sing them every night and have people sing along. It’s still special.”
Even with his successful career, Byrd knows why he gets on stage each time.
“As a performer you have to never lose sight of what you’re there for,” he said. “And what you’re there for is to entertain people, even though it might not be the song you wish to sing at the time, it’s the song your audience wants to hear. It’s important to keep this in perspective.”