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Chris Stapleton on drinking, hobnobbing and letting his songs ‘get some age on ’em’

Chris Stapleton doesn’t have much use for beer.

The country singer was kicked back in a Beverly Hills hotel suite when his wife, Morgane, offered a round of cold ones to a small group of folks gathered on a recent afternoon.

“You don’t drink beer,” Morgane said, gesturing to her husband as she handed out bottles. Asked why in the world not, Stapleton shrugged.

“Just not into it,” he said, then he chuckled. “It wasn’t for lack of trying. But I like bourbon. I’ll stick with that.”

Clinging to the hard stuff after giving the softer stuff a try: The preference tells you something about this impressively bearded 39-year-old, who spent a decade writing hit songs for mainstream country acts — Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Darius Rucker, Lee Ann Womack — before striking out on his own in 2015 with “Traveller,” a solo album proudly modeled on the 90-proof work of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.

Those influences alone didn’t set Stapleton apart. Even in its most pop-oriented eras, Nashville has always maintained a healthy traditionalist wing, one populated by artists like Jamey Johnson, another impressively bearded singer and songwriter whose 2010 album “The Guitar Song” was a favorite of critics and tastemakers.

But the success Stapleton found was unique. After being named album of the year at the 2015 Country Music Assn. Awards — a ceremony in which Stapleton performed a duet with Justin Timberlake — “Traveller” topped the Billboard 200 on its way to sales of nearly 2 million copies, according to Nielsen Music.

Now Stapleton is back with his follow-up, “From a Room: Volume 1,” which came out this month and debuted at No. 2. On Saturday night he’ll perform at the Forum in Inglewood — a dramatic step up from the El Rey Theatre, where he played just 18 months ago.

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