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"You can't forget that just a couple of years ago I was playing nowhere," Combs told Rolling Stone. "But I think I've come far enough and played enough gigs now that I can handle whatever."

His first album, "This One's For You," is a smash. Its first five singles hit No. 1 on Billboard's country airplay chart. It has sold more than 2 million copies. It won him Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association awards.

It made Combs a huge star.

But before all that, Combs was just another North Carolina boy. In high school, he played football. He liked singing and performed with school vocal groups.

It wasn't until he went to college at Appalachian State University that he even picked up a guitar. Combs started writing country songs, and he asked to play gigs at the bar where he worked.

Gigging and working crappy jobs helped Combs scrape together enough money to record an EP. When it sold thousands of copies in the first few weeks, he dropped out of college, quit his jobs and headed to Nashville.

At first, he cut songs and released them on his own. One song, "Hurricane," began attracting attention. In 2016, Combs landed a deal with Columbia Nashville, and his first five singles reached No. 1 on the radio. "This One's For You" was the best-selling country album last year. He got nominated for best new artist at the Grammys.

Every date on last year's arena tour sold out. Then his 2019 tour dates sold out. Then the tour's next leg, which runs through December, sold out, too.

"I've always been a super regular guy," Combs told Rolling Stone. "I think there's kind of a comfortability with me onstage — and I think my cool factor is not having one. I'm not extra cool or extra different. I'm an honest dude, not trying to be anything other than who I am."

Combs' material bridges the gap between the whiskey-soaked country authenticity of Chris Stapleton and the rock-inflected country-fled jams of Jason Aldean. And Combs has the songwriting talent and a powerhouse voice to pull it off.

Maybe you've heard the songs.

"Crazy Beautiful," the ballad about the "unpredictable, unforgettable" girl who's beautiful and a little crazy.

Or "When It Rains It Pours," about a breakup that leads to a laugh-filled streak of uncanny good luck.

Or maybe "Hurricane," the song that started it all, about bumping into an ex who gets your heart beating.

Or his brand-new single, "Beer Never Broke My Heart," a strummy singalong cut. It has just the right message to get country fans raising a red cup and shouting every word at the top of their lungs.

Combs is so big that the new song, which was released this week, is already a favorite among fans, who shout every word at his concerts after sharing covertly taped live videos of the tune all over social media for months.

"I just love writing songs and singing them," Combs told Rolling Stone. "People seem to enjoy them, and that's all you can really ask for. I didn't get into it to try to be a celebrity or whatever."


When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: CHI Health Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St.

Tickets: Sold out

Information: or 402-341-1500

Luke Combs' Omaha set will cover his hits — amaybe a few other hits

Duke Combs has one album. He's released 18 songs. So how will he fill out a headlining arena set on Saturday in Omaha?

Spoiler alert: With a little help from his friends.

By taking a look at recent setlists from the fast-rising country superstar, you'll find he fleshes out the show by playing all his hit songs, a few others from his album and a bunch of covers, including "All My Rowdy Friends," "Desperado," "Brand New Man," "Ramblin' Man" and more.

What else should you expect?

We compiled snippets from recent reviews to help you pregame for Combs' concert at CHI Health Center.

During two dozen songs Combs proved he is the real deal. A gifted songwriter who taps deep strains of desire, loss, and regret, the 28-year-old delivers wisdom with clever rhymes and sophisticated lyrical nuance. The banally titled "Beer Can" contained the line, "Well I woke up at 1 p.m./And introduced myself to my new girlfriend," a clever confession from a lost night.


Combs pranced around the entirety of the stage, red Solo cup in hand, as his booming vocals had the audience entranced and on their feet. He held the sold-out crowd in the palm of his hands as they sang each song back to him word for word. ... While new songs like the clever "Beer Never Broke My Heart" were peppered throughout Combs' set, it was fan favorites like his first No. 1, "Hurricane," and set closer, "Let the Moonshine," that further exemplified his power as an engaging headliner with a promising future.


Combs made sure to take stock in the moment as vindication for a lack of belief that led up to his unexpected and seemingly overnight rise. Noting that he'd just turned 29, the singer offered a vivid recollection of being dissuaded from his dream when he moved to Nashville at 24. "I had a meeting a few months after I moved there with some folks. They told me, 'One, you need to learn to write better songs. Two, you're going to be a songwriter because nobody is ever going to pay money to come and watch you play these songs that you've written.' Well, here I am standing in Indio, California, in front of 80,000 people. I sang three songs that day, and I am pleased to say that all three of those songs are No. 1 songs now."


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