Saturday night, Stoney LaRue will play a sold-out show in the glitz and glam of Norman’s illuminated Riverwind Casino. Ten or so years back, he played the same city on a weekly basis at the humble, beloved The Deli.

Although the Red Dirt icon appreciates the huge production and massive capacity — now necessary to house his legions of fans — of a place like Riverwind, he’s not done longing for the quiet comfort of those simpler nights.

“I was always a fan of the saying, ‘The people make the church.’ At The Deli, things were just so laid-back, and you could always bounce new songs off the crowd. I loved it, and I’d like to go back there and join Travis Linville on a Monday night again,” he said. “[I enjoyed] being out there and in the middle of the people you were singing to. Not losing that pulse of the crowd.”

Like most of the Red Dirt heavy hitters, LaRue hasn’t lost touch with his roots as brethren in pop or even Nashville country might.

“The whole way we started and the foundation we built on, there was always room for everybody,” he said.

“It wasn’t all about setting yourself apart from the pack, it was more about setting the pack apart from everything else. We’re all brothers.”

He means that figuratively and literally. His brother, Bo Phillips, is also a musician, and the tie they feel with the others might as well be blood, too.

“There’s a truth and an honesty,” LaRue said. “I think it’s easy to see that camaraderie isn’t fake, because we were riding together back when we were nothing.”

LaRue is arguably the most successful of the Red Dirt solo artists. In August, he released his second studio album, “Velvet,” six years after his debut, the aptly titled “The Red Dirt Album,” after spending 250-plus days on the road a year for more than half a decade.

“I’m glad that it’s done, and I can finally start the next one. And I’m glad it’s not total shit,” he said. “I think it captured those six years that were lost out on the road. This happened at the perfect time: right when it was supposed to.”

Joshua Boydston

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