Before he was Bo Duke on “The Dukes of Hazzard,” before he was an accomplished actor, singer, performer and director, John Schneider was just a kid who loved music. A kid who simply hoped to earn a good role in his elementary school’s upcoming musical.
He grew up listening to 45 RPM vinyl records in the basement with his uncle, watched his father, Jack Schneider, give concerts with his square dance band The Crop Dusters and especially enjoyed belting out tunes in the choir.
“I very much consider myself a singer who turned to acting, rather than an actor who turned to singing,” Schneider said. “I don’t remember not singing. I don’t remember a time when music wasn’t part of my life.”
Christian Davis has a similar experience. He, too, grew up in a musical family. He sang at church, learned how to play musical instruments at an early age and later studied music at Liberty University.
Both he and Schneider embarked on separate musical journeys. Davis prefers to play Americana, while Schneider leans more toward classical country. But their paths recently have converged.
They first met at an event for the Randy Travis foundation in Missouri and immediately hit it off, eventually deciding to tour together.
This Saturday, they will share their love of music with Kerrville when they perform at 7:30 p.m. at the Kathleen C. Cailloux City Center for the Performing Arts, 910 Main St. (Tickets can be purchased online at www.caillouxtheater.com/2019/john-schneider/).
Davis will open for Schneider, who will perform his biggest hits from the ’80s, along with songs from his most recent album, “Odyssey The Journey.”
“When you come to a John Schneider show and a Christian Davis show, you get a little mixture of everything,” Davis said. “Our whole goal is that people who attend our concerts — we know a lot of those folks might have had a bad day or a bad week — and it’s our job as music entertainers to set their mind at ease for a couple of hours. … It’s our job to help put a smile on their face and leave them encouraged.”
Then again, Schneider has considered that to be his job throughout his acting and musical career, always feeling an itch to entertain an audience.
Everyone knows about his acting chops. In addition to playing Bo Duke, he’s played Superman’s dad, Jonathan Kent, on “Smallville,” and stars as Jim Cryer on Tyler Perry’s soap opera “The Haves and the Have Nots.” But Schneider jokes that most people forget that he is a singer, too, and a successful one at that. He’s created 19 albums and has had four singles that topped Billboard Country charts.
But he experienced a lengthy hiatus from music. After catastrophic floods ravaged his movie studio in southern Louisiana, his production partner, Alicia Allain, encouraged Schneider to return to making music. He listened to her advice, intent on showing country music fans that he still had plenty of moxie as a singer. Along the way, he rekindled his love for music.
His passion for it became evident during a 30-minute interview. He happily reflected on the music of Cat Stevens, Harry Chapin, Jim Croce and Billy Joel — artists he listened to when he was young. He gushed about “Rocketman,” the recent biopic on Elton John.
“It really makes you listen to the words of Elton John’s song in a whole different way,” Schneider said of the movie. “When the dust settles, I think Elton John will be the most listened to and most played artist of all time. There hasn’t been a day in my life when I haven’t heard an Elton John song.”
And he lamented the recent trend of country music merging with rap.
“When you put them together, you get crap,” he joked.
Most of all, he remembered the advice his family gave him — to listen to every genre of music — still believing that every type of music possesses intrinsic artistic value.
“It’s been so much fun (touring with him),” Davis said. “Everything that John does — whether he’s singing, whether he’s acting, whether he’s speaking somewhere — he does so professionally. He’s just a pro at everything he does. I just enjoy being around him and getting a lot of knowledge from him.”
Schneider’s strategy for producing music is simple: He gravitates toward making songs that personally move him, figuring that if he has a strong emotional response to one of his songs, other people are bound to have a similar reaction listening to it.
On his recent album, “Odyssey the Journey,” released in June 2018, he attempts to evoke the typical emotions experienced during a lifetime — joy, grief, merriment and reflection.
“We are doing really well on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon — all those places where you can buy music,” Schneider said. “And people are buying music and not just streaming it. The notion was that if I get back in music, I almost have 20 years to make up for it.”
He’s off to a good start so far, already receiving a strong reception to his new music. A couple of weeks ago, a musician approached Schneider and thanked him for his song, “Thank God You Do.”
“I will be singing it to my bride at my wedding this summer,” he told Schneider.
To him, hearing that is one of the greatest compliments Schneider can receive, knowing that his love of music has positively impacted another person’s life.
He’s hoping to inspire more people when he performs in Kerrville on Saturday.
“It’s been a wild ride,” Schneider said of his return to music. “I see no end in sight, and I don’t want to. I’m enjoying every minute of it.”