Chart-topping country singer Mitchell Tenpenny to play Blind Horse Saloon

Mitchell Tenpenny will play songs from his new album at the Blind Horse Saloon Jan. 5. Photo by Jim Wright.

Country singer Mitchell Tenpenny has been waiting a while for his new album, “Telling All My Secrets,” to come out.

About nine months, in fact, ever since his single, “Drunk Me,” started climbing the charts. The song, which revolves around a perfectly country music stinger couplet, “I’ve been sober since you broke my heart in two/ ’Cause drunk me can’t get over you,” peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, and Tenpenny has been eager to capitalize on that momentum. So when his full album was released on Dec. 14, he was more relieved than excited.

“I’ve wanted to get it out for so long,” he says, “and I was waiting to see what everyone said about it.”

It’s still too early to tell how the album will do sales-wise, but Tenpenny, who grew up in Nashville, says he’s gotten enough positive responses to make the wait worth it.

“It’s just been overwhelming,” he says. “I’m so happy that people are relating to the songs on the record. It’s kind of a weight off my shoulders for sure.”

Perhaps one of the reasons that he’s been anxious to see how people responded is that Tenpenny co-wrote all eleven songs on the album, a rarity in country music and an accomplishment of which he’s proud.

“I’m going to write all my stuff,” he says. “It’s hard for me to make someone believe my song if I didn’t have a part in the writing process. I’m not saying I’m not open to an outside song, but it’s going to be hard. I love songwriting. It’s what I started with; it’s something I do every single day.”

Musically speaking, Tenpenny, who will perform at the Blind Horse Saloon in Greenville  Saturday, isn’t a pure-country artist by any means. He freely mixes modern-pop production techniques and rock ’n’ roll power into the tracks on “Telling All My Secrets,” and it’s clear he has a good ear for what gets played on the radio these days. But he also has little patience for being told his music isn’t “country enough.”

“We have some die-hards who write reviews and say, ‘That’s not country music,’ but it doesn’t make any sense to me,” he says. “I don’t know why people would want you to copy someone else. Merle, Hank and Willie did their own thing; so if I try to make music like them, then I’m just ripping them off. Country music is in the lyrics to me; real home-grown lyrics. It’s just about, ‘Is this real? Is this something people are going to believe?’ I think you put yourself in such a tight box if you start thinking about what is or isn’t country.”

Tenpenny speaks with rock-solid determination when he talks about pursuing his own genre-blending musical style, and that’s probably because he was raised in Music City, where aspiring artists have to grow thick skin if they’re going to make it.

“I got to see people make it and not make it and see how long the process took,” he says. “It helped me stay focused and be prepared to hear ‘No’ a lot. It gave me that extra drive when things sucked to keep doing it and keep doing it.”

  • What: Mitchell Tenpenny (album release show), with Ross Ellis
  • Where: Blind Horse Saloon, 1035 Lowndes Hill Road, Greenville
  • When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 5
  • Tickets: $19.50, $22.50
  • Info: 864-233-1381,

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