ELYSBURG - Singer-songwriter Mike Short Jr. grew up in Ottsville, Pa., a small town where people got their kicks when and where they could. "Our big excitement was when we got our first Sonic 20 minutes away from home," Short said. "And that didn't happen until my senior year of high school!"
Fortunately for Short - a self-proclaimed "avid outdoorsman" - growing up in rural Pennsylvania suited him just fine. In fact, Short's time in the Pennsylvania outdoors have provided the inspiration for some of his songs. "To this day, I look forward to the sights and sounds that I can only get when I'm walking through the woods," Short said. "They inspire me. I have a few good songs that have come out of those personal experiences."
Short has released two full-length albums and three music videos, all of which are available for viewing on YouTube. He has opened for big-name acts like Phil Vassar, Glorianna and Aaron Tippon. In May, Short and his band embarked on a four-month summer tour which will take the band to Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, Maryland and, of course, Pennsylvania.
Short and StateWide's summer tour will make a stop in Elysburg at 1:30, 6 and 8:30 p.m. July 17 at Knoebel's Resort and Amusement Park.
For Short, a proud Pennsylvanian, the tour is a chance to revisit the places and people that have shaped him and been instrumental in launching his music career. "Growing up I was taught to never forget where you came from," Short said. "Being able to play in my hometown and around other areas of Pa. is my way of thanking all the people that have supported me throughout my journey. I'm looking forward to every concert."
Short already is halfway through his tour, which he said has been a great experience so far. "Every show has been a party and being on the road has been an amazing experience," Short said. "We have met new fans, gained new fan club members and increased our CD sales along the way."
Short's latest album - appropriately titled "Stirrin' Things Up" - is a departure from his debut effort. "It's exactly what the title says," Short said. "It's completely different from my first album. This CD is one that anyone can rock to non-stop and find a song that relates to them. It will get you on your feet or tappin' your toes."
In 2009, after graduating high school, Short moved to Nashville, Tenn., to follow his dream of becoming a country music star. He enrolled at Middle Tennessee State University to study agriculture and music, formed a band and released his debut album, "Blame It On Me."
Although he's a homebody through and through, Short said moving to Nashville - a city with a storied musical heritage - was the best decision he ever made. "It was tough leaving home but it forced me to grow up and become my own man," Short said. "It's helped me grow musically. Playing in Nashville makes you realize you are not just 'toying' around with something. Everyone there is great, everyone there shares the same dream. It's made me realize that this dream is no easy task, and I'm not giving up."
Aside from the musical education he received there, moving to Nashville provided Short with an opportunity he'd never dreamed of: to appear on a reality TV show. Short was a southern bachelor contestant on the first season of CMT's "Sweet Home Alabama." The show, which has since become a hit and is now in its fourth season, has a simple premise: 10 "city slickers" and 10 "country boys" vie for the affections of a Southern belle from Alabama. Although his time on "Sweet Home Alabama" was short-lived, Short said he is still recognized because of the show and wouldn't hesitate to do it again.
"I don't watch reality shows and I never dreamed I'd be on one, but if I could do it again I would in a heartbeat," he said. "I met new friends, a lot of new fans ... and just by singing one little song on the show. When I go out with friends, especially in Nashville, it's a pretty safe bet that at least one person will say, 'Hey, aren't you that guy from 'Sweet Home Alabama?' ' I'll just laugh and say 'yeah, that's me,' talk to them and thank them for saying hello."
Short said those who come 'say hello' at his Knoebel's shows are in for a good time. "StateWide and I are really looking forward to our show at Knoebel's," Short said. "Get ready to party, get ready to dance and get ready to holler! Every show is a new adventure, a new opportunity to make more fans, and when you become a fan of mine, you become part of the Mike Short Jr. and StateWide family!"
For more information about Mike Short Jr. and StateWide, visit www.mikeshortjr.com.