CRESTVIEW — Buck Owens famously sang "On the Cover of the Music City News." For a 1988 Crestview High School alumnus, being featured on the cover of an English country music magazine is just about as prestigious.
By day, Artie Rodriguez keeps residents safe. By night, he serenades them with country music. The twain met when he was the featured cover artist on Country Music People magazine's March issue.
Rodriguez, a Walton County Sheriff's Office lieutenant, is a traditional country music singer, and by "traditional," he means steel guitars, fiddles and nary a hint of rock.
"I play the opry style traditional country," Rodriguez said. "I was raised up with traditional country like George Jones, Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty, George Strait, Freddy Fender, Ray Price: The real country music."
He said few local venues play the music he loves.
"In this area ... you’ve got the tourists and they want to hear more of the rock and roll, beachy, Margaritaville kind of music,” Rodriguez told CMP editor Duncan Warwick.
The 2011 release of Rodriguez's first album, "She Loves George Jones," brought him to Warwick's attention, leading to such a large following in the magazine's motherland that it's boosted Rodriguez to star status in England.
The 14-year law enforcement veteran, a polygraph operator for Sheriff Mike Adkinson Jr., released his second album, "I'll Give You Something to Drink About," in February.
"He has released what I consider to be one of the best country albums I have heard in a while," Warwick said. "I personally admire that Artie stays true to traditional country music, and continues to make records in that style."
Adkinson takes having a country music star on his staff in stride.
"Artie's passion for music is the same love of service he brings to the citizens of Walton County," Adkinson said.
"I love being a law enforcement officer, and I love country music," Rodriguez said. "I'm glad I'm able to balance the best of both worlds."
WANT TO GO?
Law officer by day, country singer by night, Artie Rodriguez will perform next month at the Panhandle Opry.
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. May 17
WHERE: Ed and Vera Strickland Music Hall, 657 DeShazo Rd., Mossy Head
TICKETS: Adults $8, seniors $7, children 6-16 $5, children under 6 free
NOTES: Artie Rodriguez will be guest performer during the evening's opry. His CDs are available on iTunes, CDBaby and ArtieRodriguez.com, and will be for sale at the Panhandle Opry.