Country superstar Luke Combs might want to pack an extra black Columbia fishing shirt when he comes to Minneapolis on Saturday. It's an unofficial Minnesota holiday: the fishing opener in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

"I wasn't aware of that, but my plans may have changed now," he said last week. "That sounds amazing. What's our main catch here?"

"Walleye, northern pike."

"Man, walleye is insanely delicious," said Combs, who has been to Minnesota before but has never wet a line here.

Since he performs only one concert a week — in a stadium, that is — Combs can probably afford some fishing time. After all, he's done things his way and become country's most decorated male star of the last half-dozen years — a two-time CMA entertainer of the year and a record setter whose first 15 singles each went to No. 1.

He's Everyman. A burly, bearded, ballcap-wearing dude who likes to fish, hunt, play video games, drink beer and barbecue.

And country fans are buying Combs big time.

"When he came out, he didn't have the Nashville-approved 'look' but had a whole bunch of high-quality songs," said Gregg Swedberg, longtime program director for Twin Cities country radio station K102. "He had an air of authenticity that was missing. He has yet to release a bad song. And he's also as smart as any artist I've dealt with."

Observers have called him Garth Brooks 2.0. But while Brooks sells sincerity, Combs is indeed all about genuineness.

"I never wanted to be anything I'm not," he said last week from Nashville. " 'What You See Is What You Get' was my second album. That's the way it is. There isn't an act. I'm just myself. I think there's beauty in that.

"I want to be remembered as a good guy, a good friend, a good dad, a good husband, a good boss. All those things, to me, are first. My worth is in the man I am, not in the guy onstage."

As he sat around with his best friend and assistant Austin Harper, they tried to come up with adjectives to describe Combs.

Sincere, caring, thoughtful, lazy, curious, fun, creative, well-rounded, down to earth, goofy.

"I'm just goober. I'm not that cool. I don't feel the need to be cool," Combs insisted. "I just am what I am. And I enjoy that."

Combs, 33, is a new father, trying to figure out Tex's first birthday party on June 19 and getting ready for the birth of his second son, due in September.

Family is a concern. That's why if Combs had a private chat with Brooks, he'd want to talk parenthood, not shop.

"I'd ask him stuff about being a dad and what that experience was like especially at the level he was at when he had his kids," he said. "And just how to navigate those things."

Combs has reflected his change in life in his last two blockbuster albums — last year's "Growin' Up" and this year's "Gettin' Old," which were recorded at the same time and have theme-and-variation covers.

The latest album includes "Joe," a song about sobriety, that is a change of pace from the singer of such hits as "Beer Never Broke My Heart."

"I've had a bunch of friends who've been through [getting sober]. When you're up there doing 10 beer songs and if there's somebody who doesn't drink in the crowd, what's their experience like? Having a song for them is super important. I love that tune."

Sang at Carnegie Hall

Combs grew up in Asheville, N.C., thinking he might become a homicide detective. Performing came naturally, as he found out when his high school choir was chosen to sing at Carnegie Hall in New York City. He auditioned for a solo in front of all the other singers. And he got the part.

"That was supercool," he recalled. "At that time, I wasn't considering [a music career]. But it was a huge confidence builder."

While studying at Appalachian State University, Combs worked as a bouncer at a bar and later began performing there and around North Carolina. In 2014 he headed to Nashville, where he self-released two EPs before signing with Columbia.

Whether it's ballads or barroom romps, his music doesn't have a hint of hip-hop or pop like most of today's country. His sound is more 1993 than 2023.

Combs has ascended rapidly but doesn't see himself changing, even though he's vaulted into stadiums. He's leaving the bells and whistles to other megastars like Taylor Swift.

"Her show is a true performance in there's costumes and lighting and dancers and choreographers and all these magic tricks happening," he pointed out. "That's just not something that would work for me. My thing is you come out and there are songs you love, and you're gonna get a bar band playing in a stadium. That's what we want it to be."

Other aspects of Combs' shows are no-frills, as well. Unlike many big stars, he doesn't have pricey VIP tickets or charge for backstage meet-and-greet sessions.

"You can make God knows how much money for whatever people charge for meet-and-greets. It didn't feel right to me," said Combs, who has a free backstage sign-up on his website. "I just wanted to meet people who were coming to the show whether it was their first show or their 50th show.

"It's already so expensive to go to concerts. I don't want to nickel and dime my fans at every turn. I want them to come back to the show in five years or the next time."

The simple things

Another thing that sets Combs apart from other Nashville stars is he markets aggressively, emphasizing streaming as well as CDs, performing at noncountry fests like Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, and touring heavily in Europe and Australia.

"I think country music has a broader appeal than people give it credit for. There's quote-unquote 'country people' all over the world. They enjoy the outside, hanging with their family or living a slower-paced life. Enjoy the simple things, which is a common theme I'd imagine throughout the world, right?"

Speaking of simple things, Combs has his own line of camo-decorated Crocs, which is as close as he gets to the Sean John clothing line of that other famous musical Combs, Sean (P. Diddy) Combs, his "long lost brother," he jokes.

"I love 'em," he said of Crocs. "We reached out to them. They were super receptive to it. It's been a fun partnership."

For the record, Combs has never worn Crocs onstage. "I stick to my boots up there," he assured.

He's had an endorsement deal with Columbia Sportswear since 2018, a year after releasing the first of his four No. 1 country albums. At one time he owned at least 30 black Columbia fishing shirts, which have become his onstage go-to. Now he has about five.

"It's dwindling," he disclosed. "I need to re-up. Usually, I take two [to a concert]. One in case of disaster, and the main one."

Maybe he'll bring one more to the fishing opener.

Luke Combs

Opening: Riley Green, Lainey Wilson, Flatland Cavalry and Brent Cobb

When: 5:45 p.m. Sat.

Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, 401 Chicago Av. S., Mpls.

Tickets: Resale at $75 and up,