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Josh Gracin' still has nothin' to lose

Josh Gracin, who finished fourth on the second season of “American Idol,” headlines Friday’s Live on the Levee.

After each season of “American Idol” ends, the Top 10 hit the road for an American tour. It’s good exposure for the budding pop stars and a chance for them to connect with fans as well as launch their careers.

Josh Gracin placed fourth in season two. He should have gone on tour. He was entitled to. But he didn’t.

Gracin, who performs Friday at Live on the Levee, just laughed and said, “No, I had to go back to my day job.”

Gracin was a U.S. Marine.

“I went back to the base. It was business as usual, and it kind of sucked.

“I think I missed out on $200,000 or $300,000, something like that,” he added. “But it is what it is. I signed up to the Marine Corps to serve my country, and I was fortunate enough that they left me do the show and take part in it.”

The money might have been nice, but Gracin doesn’t have a lot of regrets.

“Hindsight being what it is, if I had gone on the tour, it would have screwed everything up.”

The Marines would have let him go do the tour, he explained.

“Basically, they were going to forward me all my leave, and then I would take all my leave that I was going to earn for the rest of my time in service. I wouldn’t have had the leave I needed to record my first album.”

It was only a couple of months anyway.

“Everything happens for a reason,” he said.

The Marines were good to Gracin. He misses parts of it, he said, and under the right circumstances, would probably go back if he thought he was needed somehow.

“But I think I made the right decision getting out.”

Since “American Idol” in 2004, Josh Gracin has done pretty well, better than most former finalists, though superstardom on the level of Carrie Underwood has, so far, eluded him.

Still, over the course of three records, he’s scored nine country hits in the Top 100, including eight that broke into the Top 40. Three of those — “I Want to Live,” “Stay With Me (Brass Bed)” and “We Weren’t Crazy” — made the Top 10, and “Nothin’ to Lose” went all the way to No. 1.

Gracin’s next release will be an EP called “Worth This Love.”

It’s an independent record, and in a lot of ways, it represents the changed musical landscape Gracin finds himself a part of. These days, he isn’t signed to a big record contract with a big record company, but he is an independent artist with his own label.

He calls himself a singer and a songwriter, but he doesn’t think he is only a country singer/songwriter.

“I want to be everything,” he said. “If you look back at the ’50s and ’60s, it didn’t matter if it was country music or pop or whatever, everything was being played on the hit radio stations. It didn’t matter, as long as it was a good song.”

Labeling artists and their fans, he said, is more about marketing and commercial exploitation than what people actually want to listen to.

Because of the Internet, social media and the ability for listeners to purchase individual songs digitally, lumping audiences and artists into separate categories is becoming nearly impossible.

“I think it’s hard to keep it all segregated,” he said.

As an EP, the new release will have only four or five songs, as opposed to a full-length album, which typically has 12 or more.

“Albums aren’t selling,” he said. “Why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on one record when you can release an EP every couple of months and do pretty much the same thing?”

To him, it’s all about keeping new, fresh music flowing to listeners.

Gracin said the EP could be out in a couple of months. A video for the title track is scheduled to be shot in September.

Maybe because he’s an independent artist, Gracin is deeply involved. The video will be based on a story he has and his ideas for direction.

“So, if it fails, it’s 100 percent my fault,” Gracin laughed.

Reach Bill Lynch at, 304-348-5195 or follow @LostHwys on Twitter.

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