John Schneider has plenty of hats to wear these days and not just ones that the singer and actor has found at Waco’s Standard Hat Works during visits here.
There’s the acting hat, dating from his early days of stardom as the free-wheeling Bo Duke on the 1985 television series “The Dukes of Hazzard” and continuing through “Smallville” and Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and Have-Nots.”
The country singer hat, with four No. 1 hits to his credit, including “Country Girls” and “I’ve Been Around Enough to Know,” plus his popular cover of Elvis Presley’s “It’s Now or Never.” The recording producer hat, from his recording work through John Schneider Studios. The performer and band leader hat, which he’ll wear at his Saturday concert with a six-piece band at the Waco Hippodrome.
“I’m working on a book at the same time,” he said in a phone interview conducted, no surprise, while on the road.
Schneider, 59, comes to Waco after finishing work on the movie “Christmas Cars,” a story about an independent studio owner who loses much of his business in a flood, but vows to persevere, even if it means considering the sale of his prized race car.
The story behind the story is Schneider’s own struggle to overcome the 2016 flooding of his John Schneider Studios in Holden, Louisiana. The race car in the movie, incidentally, resembles his Rebel flag-topped “Dukes of Hazzard” car, the General Lee.
The resemblance is intentional, he said. “It’s my answer to the P.C. crowd getting after the General Lee,” he said. “I mean, c’mon.”
Schneider also has been involved in the recent indie films “Season of Miracles,” “A Gift of the Heart” and the upcoming “Roe v. Wade.” But it’s music, specifically what he calls “our big, pure country Southern rock, Delta rock show,” that brings him to Waco.
He’s encouraged to find fans responding to his last recording project, “The Odyssey,” in which he took overlooked songs from Nashville songwriters, connected them to performers and released them online, a song each week for a year.
“There’s no B-side or album cuts. Every one is worthy of being a single,” he said. “Since people only buy singles, you’ve got to step up your game.”
In the three decades that Schneider has performed as a country singer, he’s seen a shift that puts more weight to the song and a less-produced sound. “(Music) has changed and gotten simpler. There’s more air in it . . . now you can hear everything,” he said. “As the recording of music has gotten better, the quality of the song has to be better.”
It delights him to hear fans sing along to one of the songs released on “The Odyssey” — it shows that project has found an audience — and it amuses him when audiences think they’re hearing a Schneider hit as something new.
“People will hear those songs and say, ‘When did you do that? It sounds like the guy on the record,’ ” he said. “Well, I’m the guy on the record.”