Luke Kaufman is musical pride of the PBR, Bronc Riding Nation and every boy and girl who has cowboy in their hearts and great music in their souls. His band is a touring cowboy party, a hurricane party, 100% Western and musically crossbred. CLN caught up with Luke early on his recent Oregon Trail Tour with Matt Borden. Not our first rodeo with the Cowboy Baller, we were set to be impressed. Turned out, the combination of Kaufman and Borden left us DOUBLY blessed. Sometimes 1 + 1 equals way more than 2.
CLN: Where in the world did YOU come from?
LK: Home is Mooresville, North Carolina, but I grew up on the rodeo trail with my parents. Dad was a bareback rider and Mom ran barrels. When I was 12, we went to a Chris LeDoux concert. I was the kid standing in front of the stage with his mouth open. Two days later, I bought a guitar. My first performances were in church.
CLN: You’re obviously a real deal cowboy. Your song lyrics have that ‘been there, done that’ honesty backed by music that blends hip-hop, rock and Western cowboy music. Let’s talk about origins and influences.
LK: My bull riding wasn’t supporting itself, so I started working the labor list at rodeos in the Southeast; feeding, watering and sorting stock. My guitar was never far and there was always time to do some picking after the dust settled. After a while, I started playing after-the-rodeo dances for a couple of committees. I bought a little sound system for that. In fact, I fell backwards into announcing PBRs because I had that system.
My musical influences are Chris LeDoux, The Rolling Stones and Jimmy Buffett.
CLN: What surprised you the most when your star started to rise?
LK: The paralyzing fear I felt when I started playing the songs I wrote for my friends and cowboy heroes. It’s a lot like baring your soul. Easier to put that out there in front of family or people you haven’t met, but for the people you admire and respect? That was scary.
CLN: What’s the best part of touring?
LK: The great feeling I get when I’m thousands of miles from home in a place I’ve never been before and the crowd knows every word to my songs. No feeling in the world like that!
CLN: Ultimately, what do you want from your career?
LK: I want to help rodeo grow. I want to see every big stadium in every US city filled with dirt at least one time every year. I want my music to help make that happen. I’m a cowboy. That’s what matters to me.
Las Vegas Afterparties! Catch Luke Kaufman with the wild and talented Matt Borden next year at the 2016 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Of course, keep an eye out for Kaufman at afterparties throughout the PBR and rodeo season across the nation.
Stay tuned into Cowboy Lifestyle Network for more country music insider stories, interviews and more as the rodeo season unfolds!