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John Corbett shows his West Virginia roots

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Entertainment,Music,Nancy Dunham

For all John Corbett's Hollywood success, he's still a West Virginia guy at heart.

Sure, he's grabbed big-time fame for his stellar acting in such high-profile movies as my "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and TV shows including "Sex and the City," but he's ready to prove he also has the heart, spirit, and yes, the chops of a country musician, even though he acknowledges many that attend his concerts likely think he can't hack it.

"I know people come to my shows and think this is just a narcissistic thing," said Corbett. "But by the third song, they see that we know what we're doing and they start to relax and enjoy the show. You know, I'm not knocking [some well-known] country musicians, but I am more country than they are."

Corbett's defensiveness is understandable when you consider that he also fields plenty of negative comments from Hollywood insiders that insinuate his music is a way to cash in on the country music craze. But he's quick to point out that since he made his way to Music City seven-plus years ago, he's truly felt as if he has come home.

Onstage
John Corbett
» Where: Hill Country, 410 Seventh St. NW
» When: 10 p.m. doors, 10:30 p.m. show, Thursday
» Info: $20 to $25; 1-877-4FLY-TIX; ticketfly.com

"Nashville is like that," he said about the warm welcome he received from those throughout the music community. "The people are very friendly and open and invite you to meet other people."

That's just how he met singer-songwriter Jon Randall Stewart, who co-produced his latest album with Gary Paczosa.

"When I first moved [to Nashville] I heard this tape of some guy singing and playing with almost no production at all, and it was great," said Corbett. "I asked somebody who it was and found out it was Jon Randall. He and I got together and hit it off and we became good buddies."

And Corbett, who said he has listened to "hundreds and hundreds" of country songs while exploring the format, became a huge fan of Stewart's music. In fact, when he was exploring ideas for what became his latest album, "Leavin' Nothing Behind," which was released last month, he immediately hit on the idea of recording only Stewart's songs.

Although Stewart dissuaded Corbett from the plan, he wrote seven of the 10 songs on Corbett's album and contributed background vocals to the project. He has also performed live with Corbett on more than a few occasions.

"I just want to tell the story," said Corbett, likening his musical interpretations to acting. "I am glad to have somebody else write the words. I don't care if a squirrel comes down from a tree and hands me a song, if it's a good song I want it. But really, when I put [the songs that I've written] up against Jon's, the difference is so black-and white, there's no decision to make."

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