Album Review: Midland’s ‘On the Rocks’

Midland; Cover Art Courtesy of Big Machine Records

 ANNIE REUTER • SEPTEMBER 18, 2017 - 9:46 AM

 ANNIE REUTER • SEPTEMBER 18, 2017 - 9:46 AM

 

Midland’s debut album, On the Rocks, is a memorable walk back in time. Blending classic country music from the ’70s and ’80s with their own flair, the 13-track release brings to mind popular artists like Gary Stewart, Keith Whitley, Johnny Rodriguez and Johnny Lee. Meanwhile, country legends Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Waylon JenningsGeorge Jones and George Strait have indisputably left their mark on the Texas trio, too. As a result, On the Rocks has Midland reinterpreting country sounds from decades prior while putting a distinct spin on their material with memorable musicianship, unique storylines and clever wordplay.

“Lonely For You Only” kicks off the album with throwback guitar parts, mesmerizing pedal steel and frontman Mark Wystrach’s twang-filled vocals. A song that has a man going out every night to drown his sorrows after a breakup, “Lonely For You Only” embodies the classic tear in my beer country archetype and sounds like a song George Strait would record. Additionally, striking harmonies from bass player Cameron Duddy and guitarist Jess Carson beg comparison to the Eagles.

New single “Make A Little” picks up the pace and the spirits. On the song, Midland stress that a night of love making can solve a major problem: “There’s just not enough love in the world / So we should make a little / Then make a little more tonight.”

Traditional country music is well known for songs about cheating and there is no shortage of lamenting over the end of a relationship throughout On the Rocks. Songs like “At Least You Cried” has Midland questioning if an ex ever took them seriously with horn accompaniment giving a mariachi band vibe and recalling acts before them like Johnny Rodriguez. “Did you ever mean it when you said you loved me / Was this all just a game for you?” Wystrach croons.

Meanwhile, songs like the standout “Burn Out” and the clever “Altitude Adjustment” also showcase Midland’s talent as songwriters. The trio penned “Burn Out” with Nashville hit makers Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne, who also produced the album with Dann Huff, where they compare the disintegration of a relationship to a cigarette burning out. “These done me wrong songs hit me so right / I was so on fire for you, it hurts how / Fast a cigarette can burn out,” they sing on the chorus.

Additional album highlights include “Check Cashin’ Country” and “Electric Rodeo,” both of which detail the struggles of life on the road as a country band. “We got miles to cover and places to be / If y’all don’t two-step, then we don’t eat / Sure ain’t out here for the money / This ain’t check cashin’ country,” they assert on “Check Cashin’ Country.” Later, “Electric Rodeo” talks about putting one’s life on hold in hopes to find success in music. The song features soaring guitar and string accompaniment that only furthers the loneliness traveling musicians often endure.

For those questioning where quality country music has gone, Midland is indisputably the answer. Their striking harmonies, traditional country instrumentation and visual storytelling transports listeners to a simpler time with authentic songs that aren’t chasing a trend, and instead, are showcasing an artist’s heart. With their infectious lead single “Drinkin’ Problem” recently topping the charts, traditional country fans can rejoice as Midland is here to stay.

Troy Gentry Takes the Lead in New Montgomery Gentry Song, ‘Better Me’

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 LAUREN JO BLACK • SEPTEMBER 15, 2017 - 1:48 PM

Shortly before the tragic death of Montgomery Gentry’s Troy Gentry, the singer and his duo partner, Eddie Montgomery, put the finishing touches on a brand new album. Slated to be released via Average Joes Entertainment next year, the album features a song that was deeply personal to Gentry called “Better Me.”

With lyrics like “I might cuss and fight, tell a few lies / Break a few rules making promises I can’t keep / But I’ve turned a page on wilder days / I’m writing all this down hoping you’ll see / I ain’t saying I’m perfect, but I’m working on a better me,” friends of Gentry say the track was autobiographical for the singer. In fact, the track features Gentry on lead vocals and is also the song that the family chose to use to close his public memorial service, which was held at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville on Thursday (Sept. 14).

Just one week after Gentry’s death, “Better Me” is now available for streaming and purchase via online retailers. Fans can listen to the poignant new song in the video above.

Gentry died on Friday (Sept. 8) in Medford, New Jersey after a helicopter he was riding in crashed before the duo’s concert at the Flying W Airport and Resort. The 50-year-old singer is survived by his wife Angie and daughters Taylor and Kaylee.

 

 

Blake Shelton Falls in Love on ‘I’ll Name the Dogs’

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 KELLY BRICKEY • SEPTEMBER 8, 2017 - 9:16 AM

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Blake Shelton - I'll Name The Dogs; Cover art courtesy Warner Music Nashville 

Blake Shelton may not come off as the romantic kind, but he definitely shows his sweet side on his single, “I’ll Name the Dogs.”

Not following what fans would expect from the title, Shelton imagines a married life with the one he loves complete with the white picket fence and kissing in the kitchen. Dreaming of the day they make it all official, the country singer idealizes the happiest moments to share with that special someone and hopes to create the relationship in reality.

With the simply adorable lyrics such as, “You find the spot and I’ll find the money / you be the pretty and I’ll be the funny / you plant the flowers, I’ll plant the kisses / baby, let’s get right down to business,” Shelton can’t help but make fans’ hearts melt with his classic devotion to a true love.

It’s not farfetched for Shelton to be singing of such a love as he and his girlfriend, Gwen Stefani, have been together for quite some time now. The two met back on their days on NBC’s The Voice and began dating back in November of 2015. They’ve become inseparable ever since, getting to know each other’s families and even recording a duet with one another on Shelton’s song, “Go Ahead and Break My Heart.”

“‘I’ll Name The Dogs’ is a bit of a throw-back song for me,” Shelton shared in a press release. “It’s traditional country with fiddle and steel and I’ve got Jimmy Olander from Diamond Rio playing the guitar solo. It brings the sound back a little more traditional for a minute, which I felt like needed to happen musically for me.”

Shelton’s new single marks the first endeavor since his most recent album, If I’m Honest, which produced hits such as “Came Here to Forget,” “A Guy With a Girl,” “Every Time I Hear That Song” and “She’s Got a Way With Words.”

Currently, Shelton is balancing his release with the upcoming season of The Voice, which will premiere its 13th season on Monday, September 25, at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

“I’ll Name the Dogs” is out for fans to take a listen to now, and fans can be on the lookout for more music from Shelton on the way in the next coming months. The superstar will debut the single on the Canadian Country Music Awards, airing live from the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on CBC this Sunday (Sept. 10).

Breaking News: Country Music Hall of Famer Don Williams dead at 78

With his imposing stature and soft-spoken nature, he was known as the "Gentle Giant" of country music. Ayrika Whitney/USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee

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Juli Thanki, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee

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Country Music Hall of Famer Don Williams died Friday after a short illness. He was 78 years old. 

With his imposing stature, smooth vocals and soft-spoken nature, Williams was the "Gentle Giant" of country music. He was a staple of country radio in the 1970s and '80s, and over the course of his four-decade solo career, he recorded numerous songs now regarded as classics, including "Good Ole Boys Like Me," "Tulsa Time," "I Believe in You," "Lord, I Hope This Day is Good" and "It Must Be Love."

Don Williams was born May 27, 1939 in Floydada, Texas. In the 1960s, he was a member of the folk group Pozo-Seco Singers before striking out on a solo career in the early 1970s.

Country Star Don Williams Dead at 78

9/8/2017 by Chuck Dauphin

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Texas native Don Williams, who forged his own musical identity in the 1970s with a unique and low-key style of country that earned him the nickname “The Gentle Giant,” passed away on Friday (Sept. 8). A press release from the singer's PR team confirms his death "after a short illness," saying that funeral arrangements are pending. He was 78 years old.

Williams was born May 27, 1939 in Floydada, Texas, growing up in nearby Portland. Music had always been close to Williams’ heart, as he entered his first talent contest -- and won -- at the age of three. His prize was a brand new alarm clock. Williams played in a band with several friends during his teenage years, and started a family not too long after graduating high school, marrying his wife Joy in April 1960. To make ends meet, Williams worked a variety of jobs, including that of a bill collector. However, he never gave up on his love of music, eventually forming a folk trio, The Pozo-Seco Singers, in late 1964. Comprised of Williams, Lofton Cline, and Susan Taylor, the trio released three albums for Columbia in 1966-1968, hitting the Billboard Hot 100 six times -- with their biggest hits including “Time” (No. 3 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1966), “I Can Make It With You” and “Look What You’ve Done” (both No. 32 singles on the Hot 100 in 1966 and 1967, respectively.) Williams left the trio in late 1969.

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Soon, the singer found his way to Nashville, and was writing for the publishing company of Jack Clement. By 1972, he was on the roster of Clement’s JMI Records, where he made his Hot Country Songs chart debut the following year with “The Shelter of Your Eyes.” Four subsequent releases on JMI all charted, including 1974’s “We Should Be Together,” which hit No. 5 on the Hot Country Songs chart. 

Williams’ career caught the eye of veteran executive Jim Foglesong, who signed the singer to Dot, (later ABC / Dot) where his debut single for the label “I Wouldn't Want To Live If You Didn't Love Me” became a chart-topper in September 1974. The successes continued to come for the singer. In fact, each single he released from 1974 through 1991 hit no lower than No. 22 on the Hot Country Songs chart, including the late-'70s No. 1s “Say It Again” and “Some Broken Hearts Never Mend,” which led to his being named as the Male Vocalist of the Year in 1978 by the Country Music Association.

The next year would see Williams’ recording contract be absorbed by MCA Records, but there was no slowdown in his success rate. He topped the chart that year with “It Must Be Love” and “Love Me Over Again,” and recorded the 1981 crossover hit “I Believe in You,” which hit No. 24 on the Hot 100 in addition to hitting the top of Hot Country Songs. His star shined throughout the decade with hits such as “Stay Young,” “Desperately,” and “Old Coyote Town,” keeping his records in the top 10 through label changes to Capitol (1986) and RCA (1989), where he notched his final top 10 hit, 1991’s “True Love.” All in all, Williams' Hot Country Songs chart numbers include 45 top 10 hits and 17 No. 1s, with his final leader being 1986’s “Heartbeat in the Darkness.”

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With his chart heydey behind him. Williams continued to tour in the United States as well as abroad. His smooth sound had made him fans the world over, including Great Britain, New Zealand, and South Africa. Williams retired from the road in 2006, but he couldn't shake his love of the stage, returning to audiences in 2010. He also returned to the recording studio for a pair of albums for Sugar Hill, 2012’s And So It Goes, and 2014’s Reflections, both of which made the top 20 on Top Country Albums chart. Williams called it a career in 2016, with his final release being a Live CD / DVD recorded in Ireland, where he developed a loyal following.

In May 2017, Williams was the subject of a tribute album, Gentle Giants: The Songs of Don Williams. Garth Fundis, who produced many of Williams’ biggest hits, oversaw the project, which included cuts from The Pistol AnniesGarth Brooks, and Lady Antebellum. At the time of the release, Fundis was quick to praise his old friend’s acumen for picking songs.

“He never let himself stray from what he felt about music. I think that’s where the consistency comes from. It had to work for him in a simple way. Sometimes, we do orchestrations and get a lot of instruments going, but it was usually pretty simple. He always was the rudder that kept the bowel pointed in the right direction, to use a sailing term. It was wonderful how he could always take different kinds of songs, and by the time he was done with them, they all kind of fit together in a really wonderful way.”

His first hit, "The Shelter of Your Eyes," came out in 1972; his first No. 1 single, "I Wouldn't Want to Live if You Didn't Love Me" came two years later. Between 1974-1985, he took 16 songs to the top of the charts.

In 1978, Williams won the Country Music Association's Male Vocalist of the Year Award. That same year, his recording of Danny Flowers' "Tulsa Time" took home the Academy of Country Music's Single Record of the Year trophy.

He also brought country music to international audiences. "Don Williams: Into Africa," a concert special filmed in Zimbabwe, was recorded on a tour of Africa in the late 1990s. 

Williams launched a farewell tour in 2006 that included a stop at Lipscomb University's Allen Arena, but retirement didn't stick. He returned to the studio and released two fine albums, "And So It Goes" and "Reflections," on Sugar Hill Records in 2012 and 2014, respectively. Those were the last studio records of his career. A live album recorded in Ireland was released in 2016.

Williams was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010. He was unable to attend the medallion ceremony due to a bout of bronchitis, but Alison Krauss, bluegrassers the Del McCoury Band, and Chris Young were among the artists who performed his songs that night, a testament to his wide-ranging influence and appeal.

"In giving voice to songs like 'Good Ole Boys Like Me,' 'Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good,' and 'Amanda,' Don Williams offered calm, beauty, and a sense of wistful peace that is in short supply these days," said Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO Kyle Young on Friday. "His music will forever be a balm in troublesome times. Everyone who makes country music with grace, intelligence, and ageless intent will do so while standing on the shoulders of this gentle giant." 

Williams retired again in 2016, stating "It's time to hang my hat up and enjoy some quiet time at home."

"Gentle Giants," a tribute album featuring Krauss, Chris and Morgan Stapleton, Garth Brooks, Dierks Bentley and more singing Williams' songs, was released earlier this year. 

Funeral arrangements are unavailable at this time. 

Don Williams, the ‘Gentle Giant’ of Country Music, Dies at 78

BY JEREMY BURCHARD

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Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Country music mourns the loss of Don Williams today, the “gentle giant” whose smooth baritone delivered classic songs like “Tulsa Time,” It Must Be Love” and “I Believe In You.” Williams passed away after a brief illness. He was 78.

Don Williams was born in Floydada, Texas, a tiny West Texas town Northeast of Lubbock. He grew up in Portland, Texas and embraced music from an early age. In fact, he won a talent contest at only three years old.

After graduating high school, he moved to Corpus Christi and formed a folk band called The Pozo Seco Singers. The group was active from 1964 to 1979, before Williams moved to Nashville to pursue a solo career.

In 1971 he signed a contract as a songwriter with “Cowboy” Jack Clement and quickly earned the respect of his peers. Before long, Williams’ laid-back sound caught the ears of radio.

His song “Shelter Of Your Eyes” entered the radio chart in 1973. Over the next 20 years, every single Williams released made it to the charts except for one. He amassed 17 No. 1 singles.

Williams earned the nickname “The Gentle Giant” in the early 1980s thanks to a combination of his tall frame, deep voice and mellow music. Williams became a bit of a folk hero as country music continually shifted with different trends.

His 1981 duet of Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You” with Emmylou Harris remains a staple in the world of folk music. Despite country radio abandoning his smooth sound in the 1990s, Williams continued to sell out shows across the globe all the way into the 2000s.

Don Williams briefly announced a retirement in 2006, but returned to the road in 2010. That same year, the Country Music Hall of Fame inducted him. He then officially retired in 2016.

In May, Gentle Giants: The Songs Of Don Williams came out. The tribute album features artists such as Lady Antebellum, Jason Isbell and Garth Brooks covering the singer’s legendary songs.

 

Don Williams Dead at 78

 CHUCK DAUPHIN • SEPTEMBER 8, 2017 - 4:37 PM

Don Williams; Photo courtesy Webster PR

The country music community is in mourning today with the passing of Don Williams. Known as “The Gentle Giant,” the Texas native ranks as one of the most successful country balladeers of all time – eventually earning a spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Williams was 78 years old.

Born in Floydada, Texas, Williams grew up being very much inspired by the music of the late 1940s and 50s. Playing in several bands around the Lone Star state, he eventually became a member of the Pop / Folk
group The Pozo Seco Singers. The group inked a deal with Columbia Records, and were soon on the pop and easy listening charts with such hits as “Time” and “Look What You’ve Done.” The group disbanded around the dawning of the next decade, and Williams soon found himself in Nashville.

Signing with a publishing company owned by Jack Clement at first only as a songwriter, he eventually landed a recording contract with Clement’s JMI Records. He began hitting the charts with songs such
as “Come Early Morning,” “Amanda,” and “We Should Be Together,” which earned him his first trip to the top ten, peaking at No. 5 in 1974.

Later that year, he signed with ABC / Dot (later absorbed by MCA), where he recorded some of the biggest hits of the decade – “She Never Knew Me,” “It Must Be Love,” “Rake and Ramblin’ Man,’ among them. In 1976, the singer was nominated for the first of six times as a finalist for the Male Vocalist of the Year prize from the CMA, winning the award in 1978. Upon winning the award, Williams – famous for his quiet nature – simply said the words “Thank You” in acceptance of his honor.

The 1980s saw no slowdown in Williams’ musical fortunes. He opened up the decade with Bob McDill’s “Good Old Boys Like Me,” which peaked at No. 2 on the charts, but “I Believe In You,” his biggest hit, and signature tune, was just around the corner.  Not only a number one hit, the song also proved to be his only crossover hit, making it to No. 24 on the pop charts.

As the 1980s progressed, Williams added more hits to his list – “Love Is On A Roll,” “Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good,” and “That’s The Thing About Love.” After a decade run with MCA, Williams switched labels in 1986 to Capitol, staying at the label for three years, and adding hits such as the number one “Heartbeat In The Darkness” and “Desperately” to his chart history. He also recorded for RCA from 1989 until 1992.

Though his radio days ended in the early 1990s, Williams remained a crowd favorite in the United States, but also overseas. His easy-going style, which earned him the moniker “The Gentle Giant,” helped him make fans all over the world, from Ireland to England to Africa. Williams retired from touring in 2006, but was back on the road by 2010, the year he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He recorded two final albums for Sugar Hill – 2012’s And So It Goes and 2014’s Reflections – both of which hit the Top-20 on the country album charts, featuring cameos from artists such as Alison Krauss and Keith Urban, who has long cited Williams as an influence.

Earlier this year, Williams was the subject of Gentle Giants, a tribute album that featured his hits performed by acts such as Lady AntebellumGarth Brooks, and Trisha Yearwood. Upon the release of the set, Garth Fundis, his longtime producer, praised Williams’ uncanny acumen to pick hit songs, telling Billboard that Williams “never let himself stray from what he felt about music. I think that’s where the consistency comes from. It had to work for him in a simple way. Sometimes, we do orchestrations and get a lot of instruments going, but it was usually pretty simple. He always was the rudder that kept the bowel pointed in the right direction, to use a sailing term. It was wonderful how he could always take different kinds of songs, and by the time he was done with them, they all kind of fit together in a really wonderful way.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Breaking News: Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry Dies at 50

 

9/8/2017 by Colin Stutz

Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry performs during the 2012 CMA Music Festival on June 7, 2012 in Nashville.

Troy Gentry of the country duo Montgomery Gentry has reportedly died in a helicopter crash on Friday (Sept. 8), LEX 18 of Lexington, Kentucky, reports. He was 50. 

The local news station confirmed with sources that the helicopter crashed at the Flying W Airport in Medford, New Jersey, with Gentry and one other aboard. Both perished. 

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The Kentucky-based group had been scheduled to perform at the Flying W Airport & Resort on Friday. Gentry's bandmate, Eddie Montgomery, was not on the helicopter. 

The band's Twitter account confirmed the news of Gentry's death, noting the crash took place around 1 p.m. local time. 

Montgomery Gentry has sold 5.2 million albums in the U.S. through Aug. 31, 2017, according to Nielsen Music. The duo’s best-selling album is 2002’s My Town, which sold has sold 1 million.

The pair has moved 6.4 million song downloads and collected 163.1 million on-demand streams in the U.S. as well.

 

Sounds Like Nashville Country News Roundup

Kenny Chesney; Photo by Allister Ann

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Kenny Chesney Distraught by Devastation in the Caribbean Caused by Hurricane Irma

 LAUREN JO BLACK • SEPTEMBER 7, 2017 - 12:56 PM

 

If you know anything about Kenny Chesney, you know that he has a special connection to the islands in the Caribbean Sea, specifically the Virgin Islands where he owns a home in St. John. Many of the superstar’s songs are inspired by island life and the people he’s met during his travels to paradise.

On Wednesday (Sept. 7), Hurricane Irma struck the islands and the surrounding coasts, bringing winds of up to 180 miles per hour and causing total devastation. As photos and video of the aftermath of the storm began to surface the following morning, Chesney found himself distraught by the devastation and penned a heartfelt letter to his fans and friends via his official website.

“As daylight is hitting the islands, and we’re really getting a sense of how bad this all is… I don’t know what to say,” he began. “I’ve never been in war, but the devastation, the people’s faces in a place I know by heart have left me feeling helpless. It’s total devastation.These are people who live off the sea, who depend on it. They live right there and it’s gone. Most everyone’s displaced. They are frightened, confused, and they don’t know where help is going to come from.Those lives have changed, and will never be the same. Those small islands are hard to get to and they rely on each other to get through what life hands them. For all of them though they’ve been where I’ve leaned for emotional and creative support for fifteen years because they are so generous.”

Chesney then rallied for his fans to help and promised he would do anything in his power to assist those who have lost so much.

“I don’t know right now how we’re going to do this. But I want to help,” he continued. “I want to enlist my friends to figure out the best ways to make a difference, to help in whatever ways, small or larger, that we can. I’m blessed with so many great people… We’re already talking, trying to figure out how to get in there. And I know the No Shoes Nation is mighty. They’ve dug in before and made a difference. I have a feeling once we have our plans in the place, they’ll be there again. Give us a few days to figure this out. Pray/send good thoughts to everyone who’s been effected or is in the path of #hurricaneirma. This is unlike anything they’ve ever seen from St Maartens to St Barths to Puerto Rico then the Caribbean and onto Key West. Be safe. Tell someone how much you care. Remember to Spread the Love. More Soon.”

Hurricane Irma is one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. It is expected to make landfall once again on Sunday morning in Miami, Fla.

Luke Bryan Taps Sam Hunt and Blake Shelton for Crash My Playa 2018

 KELLY BRICKEY • SEPTEMBER 7, 2017 - 12:14 PM

 

Sam Hunt; Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images, Luke Bryan; Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for dcp, Blake Shelton; Photo credit: Natasha Moustache/CMA

Crash my playa indeed for Luke Bryan, with the announcement that his buddies, Blake Shelton and Sam Hunt, would be packing up to head to the beach and join Bryan for the beloved country music fiesta.

Hitting the sandy shore of Riviera Maya, Mexico, this year marks the fourth year Bryan has hosted his Crash My Playa concert festival and as always, he’s bringing the best of the best to celebrate the tropical weather alongside him. The four-night fest will bring two headlining performances from Bryan himself, with Shelton and Hunt trading off the other headlining slots for the coordinated nights.

The dynamic trio anticipate an extravaganza to kick off their years in 2018, and Bryan couldn’t imagine doing it next to anyone but Hunt and Shelton.

“Blake and Sam are two of the hottest artists in country music and I couldn’t be any more pumped that they have agreed to come join me this year. I swear this event just gets better and better each year,” Luke shared in a press release.

Not only is the “Light It Up” singer pumped to bring his pals down for a rowdy good time, but Shelton also expressed his happiness to fly back down South of the Border for another year to remember at Crash My Playa.

“It’s a dream come true to go back to Mexico to join my BFF Luke for Crash My Playa. We had such a blast playing together last year that I’d come back every year if he’d let me,” Shelton concurred about the news.

With the headlining lineup all set, fans will anxiously await any surprise guests that happen to ‘crash the playa’ with the guys, just as Gwen Stefani did last year by performing a couple hits of her own during Shelton’s late night set.

Bryan’s Crash My Playa concert vacation will be held in Riviera Maya, Mexico, from January 17 to 20, 2018. Fans can get more information about trip packages for the beach bash on the event’s website.

Thomas Rhett Shares Private Details From His Phone, Performs ‘Unforgettable’ on ‘Tonight Show’

 KELLY BRICKEY • SEPTEMBER 7, 2017 - 11:51 AM

Thomas Rhett may not keep many secrets from his fans nowadays, but now he’s letting them go behind the four-digit code to access his confidential iPhone information in a quick-fire round of ‘Internet Pop Quiz.’

The country singer stopped by the set of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to promote his new record, Life Changes, when they snagged a couple minutes with Rhett to play the revealing game. It looked as though Rhett didn’t feel any nerves while whipping out his phone for the challenge and gave his honest answers with no hesitation.

Admitting that he’s a fan of the Rap Caviar playlist on Spotify when he hits the gym and Game of Thrones is his and his wife’s go-to binge show, Rhett also gave fans a peek into his contact book as he told the video crew about the weirdest celebrity number in his digital book.

“The most unexpected celebrity? Um, I don’t know. Ashton Kutcher is kinda random. He’s in my phone,” Rhett laughed.

He even announced with no regret that his biggest online food order involved a whole lot of a Mexican fast food classic.

“The largest food order I’ve ever made online…I don’t know…probably spending $300 at Taco Bell. I feel like that’s a bit absurd to spend at Taco Bell considering everything is like less than $5.”

Even more facts rambled out of the “Craving You” singer’s mouth as he called himself a former addict of the Maze Runner game and that he enjoys snooping on the life of Kit Harrington a.k.a. Jon Snow via Instagram whenever he gets a free minute.

Rhett then took the New York audience by storm with a performance of his new single, “Unforgettable,” which tells the story of a love at first sight meeting.

Life Changes hits shelves this Friday, September 8.

 

Chris Young Reveals ‘Losing Sleep’ Track List

 KELLY BRICKEY • SEPTEMBER 7, 2017 - 11:42 AM

 

Chris Young; Photo by John Shearer

October 20 couldn’t come soon enough for Chris Young fans with the release of his brand new album, Losing Sleep, hitting stores.

Building up to the release date, Young has been thriving off of the anticipation by announcing details regarding the record left and right. His latest move involved the track list of the project for fans to get attached to as they get to know their soon-to-be favorite songs from Young.

Young worked with a number of accomplished Nashville songwriters such as Josh Hoge, Liz Rose, Chris DeStefano and more when it came to the making of Losing Sleep. He even contributed on the writing end of things as well, with his name in the credits of each of the 10 songs.

Looking upon the fresh music to represent his growth in the next step of his career, Young hopes to only progress further thanks to his producers and fellow co-writers that helped him get inspired for each individual track along the way.

“Every album you make as an artist, you want to continue to grow,” Young said recently. “And you also want people to be in love with it. That’s such a difficult thing to balance, but I think there’s a little bit of something for everybody on this record.”

Currently, fans can hear a sneak peek of the album by listening to the single, “Losing Sleep,” which is being played on country radio now.

‘Losing Sleep’ Track List

  1. “Losing Sleep” – Chris Young, Chris DeStefano, Josh Hoge
  2. “Hangin’ On” – Chris Young, Corey Crowder, Josh Hoge
  3. “Holiday” – Chris Young, Cary Barlowe, Johnny Bulford, Corey Crowder
  4. “Radio And The Rain” – Chris Young, Corey Crowder, Josh Hoge
  5. “Where I Go When I Drink” – Chris Young, Tyler Reeve, Trent Tomlinson
  6. “She’s Got A Way” – Chris Young, Cary Barlowe, Corey Crowder
  7. “Leave Me Wanting More” – Chris Young, Corey Crowder, John Pierce
  8. “Trouble Looking” – Chris Young, Corey Crowder, Liz Rose
  9. “Woke Up Like This” – Chris Young, Corey Crowder, Josh Hoge
  10. “Blacked Out” – Chris Young, Josh Hoge, Jon Randall

Blake Shelton Bringing the Party to Tishomingo for Old Red Grand Opening

 KELLY BRICKEY • SEPTEMBER 7, 2017 - 7:10 AM

Blake Shelton; Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/WireImage

Oklahoma…where the wind blows, sweeping through the plains, and where Blake Shelton is headed to celebrate the grand opening of Ole Red Tishomingo.

The Oklahoma native inspired the new venue with his classic hit, “Ole Red,” which will feature entertainment space, retail openings and a restaurant for patrons to stop by and enjoy their time in the small Midwestern town. Shelton will host his own extravaganza to welcome the venture into town for the first-ever Ole Red location.

“For a song that meant so much to me to take this shape and come to life as Ole Red has is really mind-blowing,” Shelton said recently. “Our community is in for a treat with the Opry bringing their famed broadcast to Tishomingo for this special show. It’s a proud day for us Oklahomans.”

Shelton will be joined by friends to host a show open to the public in town that will serve like a Grand Ole Opry celebration. Artists such as RaeLynn, Jeannie Seely, John Conlee and Ronnie Milsap will all be in attendance to hang out with the fans, as well as WSM’s Bill Cody as the co-emcee for the evening.

Although the big opening night holds all of those fun festivities, some lucky winners will be treated to their own private performance by Shelton the night before. All of the proceeds raised from the ticket sales of that show will be donated to J.C. Reaching Out, which helps out local families with the financial burdens of cancer treatments. Tickets have already gone on sale for Shelton’s show, which will be held on Friday, September 29, at Ole Red Tishomingo.

The official Old Red Tishomingo Grand Opening will take place block party style on Main Street in the heart of town on Saturday, September 30, at 7 p.m. CST, with more details found on the venue’s website.

 

High Valley To Headline SiriusXM’s The Highway Finds Tour

 KELLY BRICKEY • SEPTEMBER 7, 2017 - 7:07 AM

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High Valley, Photo by Robby Klein

High Valley won’t be hanging out in their native Canada much this fall as they’ve been selected as the main headlining act to go on the road for SiriusXM’s The Highway Finds Tour.

Taking their gig all across the country to show off their stellar harmonies and authentic country songwriting, the guys are pumped to meet all their fans from the west to the east as they embark on a massive two-month stint.

“New fall tour dates coming at you this week! So excited to hit the road on the @SXMTheHighway Finds tour! Tickets go on sale Friday,” they wrote to their Twitter followers about the big announcement.

They’ll be taking Ashley McBryde and Adam Doleac out with them to open up for a few dates sprinkled in here and there for fans to get the well-rounded effect that SiriusXM’s The Highway goes for while finding the hottest new artists.

Tickets for SiriusXM’s The Highway Finds Tour featuring High Valley go on sale to the general public on Friday, September 8, at 10 a.m. local venue time.

SiriusXM’s The Highway Finds Tour Dates

Wed. Oct 18*^          Washington, DC         The Hamilton

Thurs. Oct 19*           Toronto, ON               Danforth

Fri. Oct 20*^               Asbury Park, NJ        Wonder Bar

Sat. Oct 21*^             New York, NY            Gramercy Theatre

Thurs. Oct 26*^          Charlotte, NC             The Underground

Fri. Oct 27*^               Nashville, TN             Mercy Lounge

Sat. Oct 28^               Birmingham, AL         Workplay

Sun. Oct 29*^            Atlanta, GA                 Aisle 5

Wed. Nov 1*^            Cleveland, OH           Cambridge Room @ House of Blues

Thurs. Nov 2^            Columbus, OH           The Bluestone

Fri. Nov 3^                 Grand Rapids, MI      The Stache

Sat. Nov 4^                Indianapolis, IN          Deluxe

Thurs. Nov 30^          Omaha, NE                Bourbon Saloon

Fri. Dec 1^                 Denver, CO               Marquis Theatre

Sat. Dec 2^                Cheyenne, WY          Outlaw Saloon

Mon. Dec 4^              Billings, MT                Pub Station

Tues. Dec 5^              Salt Lake City, UT     State Room

Thurs. Dec 7^            Hollywood, CA           Troubadour

Fri. Dec 8^                 Anaheim, CA             Parish @ House of Blues

Sat. Dec 9^                San Diego, CA           Voodoo Room @ House of Blues

*With Ashley McBryde.

^With Adam Doleac.

Lady Antebellum Headed to the Beach for 30A Concert Series

 KELLY BRICKEY • SEPTEMBER 6, 2017 - 2:12 PM

 

Lady Antebellum; Photo courtesy the Greenroom PR

Lady Antebellum will get their toes wet at the 30A Sessions Concert Series held down in the popular Florida vacation spot.

The inaugural concert will host the country trio down on the sandy beaches for a festival-meets-concert experience. Teaming up with Coastal Living Magazine, Tracery Interiors and the St. Joe Company, Lady A will perform to select attendees for a show under the sun to kick off the whole series.

“30A Sessions is Austin City Limits meets the beach,” said Mike Ragsdale, Founder of The 30A Company recently. “A handful of guests will have the opportunity to experience Lady Antebellum’s extraordinary talent up close and personal.”

While Lady Antebellum takes on the duty of being the first artist to perform at the 30A Sessions Concert Series, they open the door for many more musicians to get involved within the coming years. Many stars in the music industry travel down to the gorgeous coastline and purchase holiday homes down in the area to get away from the madness, and maybe now, play a show or two.

The band ties back to 30A as they went there on a songwriting and recording retreat during the making of their most recent album, Heart Break. Each of the members also spend a lot of their time off down on the Florida coast to soak up the rays with their families in the little piece of paradise, as seen through many of their Instagram posts.

The first show of the 30A Sessions Concert Series will be hosted at the WaterColor LakeHouse on Saturday, October 28. Tickets go on sale for the concert on Friday, September 8, at 10 a.m. EST, with more details available at 30Asessions.com.

Dustin Lynch Announces Hurricane Harvey Benefit in Dallas

 SYDNEY SMITH • SEPTEMBER 6, 2017 - 2:02 PM

 

Dustin Lynch; Photo by Mindy Small/FilmMagic

It looks like Dustin Lynch’s current mood is helping those in need. The “Small Town Boy” singer will be aiding Hurricane Harvey relief with a benefit concert in Dallas, Texas on September 12.

Though Lynch does not have Texas roots, he was inspired by stop at a shelter for Hurricane Harvey storm victims in Dallas after his show there on Saturday (Sept. 2). During his visit, he met with and performed for Texans who had been displaced by the hurricane with hopes that his music could bring them a bit of peace.

Lynch and his team worked quickly to plan the show as soon as possible. The date falls in the middle of a busy week for Lynch as he promotes his upcoming Current Mood album, but for him, helping others comes before anything else.

“The spirit of Texas, and of Country music, is to help your neighbor – to pitch in when others are struggling,” says Lynch. “So many people have stepped up to lend a hand to those affected by this storm, and I’m proud to do my small part to support the citizens of Houston and surrounding communities. After visiting the storm shelter, and meeting people whose lives have changed forever, the least I can do is come back to Dallas and try to raise spirits.”

The benefit show will be hosted at Cowboys Red River in Dallas. Tickets to the 18+ event are $10 and can be purchased on the KPLX and KSCS websites as well as at the door. The first 500 fans to arrive will receive a copy of Lynch’s new album Current Mood. All proceeds from the show will be donated to the American Red Cross.

Album Review: Thomas Rhett’s ‘Life Changes’

 ANNIE REUTER • SEPTEMBER 6, 2017 - 10:40 AM

 

Thomas Rhett; Album Cover Art Courtesy of The Valory Music Co.

Thomas Rhett knows a thing or two about life changes. In just three months the singer went from a family of two with wife, Lauren, to four after adopting Willa Gray from Uganda and having a child of their own with newborn Ada James. As a result, all of the ups and downs of his family and professional life are showcased in Rhett’s third studio album, fittingly titled Life Changes.

The 14-track release has Rhett doing what he does best: blending sounds from the country, rock, R&B and even EDM genres for a versatile release. Rhett co-wrote 10 of the album’s 14 tracks and produced the project alongside Dann Huff, Jesse Frasure, Julian Bunetta and Joe London. Throughout Life Changes, Rhett proves to be both a powerful storyteller and an artist willing to take risks as he continues to push boundaries with his music.

Life Changes kicks off with Rhett’s latest No. 1 single, “Craving You.” Written by Dave Barnes and Julian Bunetta, “Craving You” is an undeniably catchy country-pop tune with infectious ’80s production. This bold and anthemic sound is further helped by Maren Morris’ pristine harmonies on the track. Another song, “Renegades,” maintains an arena-ready sound as the song recalls classic hits by John Mellencamp and Tom Petty. Meanwhile, its updated production and sing-along chorus has all the makings of another timeless hit for the singer/songwriter.

Throughout much of Life Changes, Rhett gives listeners a glimpse into his love story with his wife. Songs like upbeat new single “Unforgettable” reveal a night where the two transitioned from childhood friends to lovers. Additionally, the title track looks back on his dreams of becoming a songwriter in college before popping the question to Lauren when everyone around him urged him to wait. “I bought a ring and she said I do / But everybody else said, ‘Man you’re 22 what you tryin’ to prove? / Hey, why don’t you wait’ / Because I’ve been waiting on her since the second grade,” he croons.

The album’s sweetest song comes in the form of album closer “Grave” where Rhett sings of how his wife is his everything. An adequate follow-up to “Die A Happy Man,” the stripped down ballad has a gospel element with hand-snapped rhythms and backing vocalists that embody gospel singers. “When the good Lord calls me home and this life is through / I may be six feet deep but I’ll still be lovin’ you,” he sings on the chorus.

While Rhett’s sentimental side is showcased on Life Changes so is his swagger. The singer proves that he can hold his own with artists like Bruno Mars, the Weeknd and even Drake on several R&B influenced tracks. The sultry beats of “Gateway Love,” bombastic rhythms of “Leave Right Now” and impressive falsetto on “When You Look Like That” showcase his natural ability to segue effortlessly from genre to genre while leaving his distinct mark on each song.
Additional highlights include the doo-wop throwback of “Sweetheart” and heartbreaking piano ballad “Marry Me.” On the latter, Rhett sings of a girl who has her whole wedding planned out. At first, it seems like he’s the groom but as the story develops there’s a twist. It’s on this song and the nostalgic “Sixteen,” where Rhett sings of being 15 while dreaming of driving the open road, that his prowess as a songwriter is best showcased. On “Sixteen” each verse finds Rhett wishing he was one year older until he turns 25. Then, instead of going full speed ahead he looks back on his life and reminisces of his youth — something we can all relate to.

His most ambitious release yet, Life Changes has something for every listener. As Rhett embraces new sounds and unpredictable production, he also allows a closer look into his personal life, all while showcasing some of the best songwriting within the country genre. With songs that can both strike a chord and start a party, Life Changes proves that Rhett is a force to be reckoned with.

George Strait to Host Hurricane Harvey Benefit in San Antonio

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Essential Broadcast Media

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As a dedicated native to the state of Texas, George Strait has taken on the task of hosting an official Hurricane Harvey benefit show out in San Antonio.

Strait isn’t doing the duties alone though, as he’s booked fellow country artists such as Miranda LambertChris Stapleton, Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen to join along for the festivities. They plan to perform at the Majestic Theater in San Antonio, with selected performances airing alongside the coverage for the already announced national benefit.

One of his performances from the San Antonio benefit concert will be aired live as a part of the star-studded Hand in Hand televised benefit, in which the nation will witness celebrities from all ends come together in New York, Los Angeles and Nashville to help those in need. Blake Shelton was announced to co-host the Nashville portion of the broadcast alongside actress Reese Witherspoon. Other famous faces set to help out during the broadcast include Beyoncé, Oprah, Barbra Streisand, George Clooney, Matthew McConaughey and many more yet to be announced.

Fans wanting to be a part of Strait’s benefit show are able to purchase tickets on Wednesday, September 6, at 10 a.m. CST on Ticketmaster. All of the proceeds raised will go right back into the Rebuild Texas Fund thanks to the help of a handful of charitable sponsors.

The Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Harvey Relief will air on all the major broadcast networks as well as select cable channels and social media outlets on September 12 at 8 p.m. EST. A re-airing of the program will go on at 8 p.m. PST for viewers on the West Coast. Phone lines, text messaging and digital donating will all be open to the public throughout the show, as well as an hour following its premiere.

George Strait to Perform Live from Texas for Hurricane Harvey Relief Telethon

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BY JEREMY BURCHARD12 HOURS

 

Terry Wyatt/Getty Images

Country superstar George Strait just joined a star-studded lineup for the Hurricane Harvey Relief Telethon. The one-hour televised event takes place on Sept. 12. All proceeds go towards aiding hurricane victims.

Strait is one of Texas’ most famous musicians. He also owns a home in Rockport, a coastal town that suffered major damage in the storm.

Last week, Strait referenced working on Harvey relief efforts via Twitter. He tweeted that he’s working on something that includes the “whole country music community.”According to Variety, the relief telethon spans much more than just the country community. Dubbed Hand In Hand: A Benefit For Hurricane Harvey Relief, the telethon will air on the four major networks, as well as CMT. Stars will join in from Los Angeles, Nashville and New York.

For his part, Strait will appear in concert. He set up a live performance at San Antonio’s famous Majestic Theater. Which is notable in and of itself, since Strait retired from touring.

READ MORE: George Strait to Mark 25th Anniversary of Pure Country with Special Concerts

Other famous musicians appearing during the special include Houston native Beyoncé, Blake Shelton and Barbra Streisand. But that’s not all. George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey, Julia Roberts, Jamie Foxx and Matthew McConaughey (both Texas natives) plan to appear, among many others.

Hurricane Harvey devastated the Texas coast a little over a week ago. Tens of thousands of people in Southeast Texas lost their homes, and at least 63 people lost their lives. Much of Houston flooded to historic proportions.

Harvey is estimated to be the costliest natural disaster in Texas’ history. Recovery efforts will take years and cost tens of billions of dollars.

Strait isn’t the only major country musician stepping up. In fact, the country music community and much of America as a whole rallied around Houston. Professional athletes from the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans raised millions of dollars for relief. Chris Young and Lady Antebellum raised hundreds of thousands of dollars almost immediately.

Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton Join George Strait’s San Antonio Harvey Benefit Concert

BY LORIE LIEBIG6 HOURS

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Cooper Neill/Getty Images

George Strait has assembled some of country music’s biggest stars to help give back to those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Earlier today (Sept. 5), it was announced that Strait would perform as part of the upcoming Hurricane Harvey Relief Telethon. That performance will be taken from a star-studded benefit concert featuring Strait and his Ace in the Hole band at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio, Texas. He’s also recruited Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton, Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen for the once in a lifetime concert.

A selection of performances from the concert will be included in the national telethon. If you want to see the entire show, the full event will also be streaming via Facebook Live.

READ MORE: Watch Chris Stapleton’s Powerful Cover of a George Strait Deep Cut

If you’d rather head to San Antonio and see it all happen for yourself, you can snag a ticket beginning Sept. 6 at 10 a.m. CST via Ticketmaster. All proceeds raised from the show will go towards the Rebuild Texas Fund. Tickets will surely go fast, as this will be one of the most intimate and historic performances of Strait’s career.

Miranda Lambert & Chris Stapleton to Join George Strait for Hurricane Harvey Benefit: Exclusive

9/5/2017 by Melinda Newman

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Miranda Lambert and George Strait perform at MGM in Las Vegas in 2014.

 

Miranda LambertChris StapletonLyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen will join George Strait and his Ace in the Hole Band for a Sept. 12 Hurricane Harvey benefit at the Majestic Theater in San Antonio, Texas.

Select performances from the 2,300-seat Majestic Theater will be broadcast on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and CMT as part of Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Harvey Relief, a telethon organized by Houston rapper Bun B and Scooter Braun that will also feature BeyonceBarbra Streisand, George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey and others. The special will air live Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. EDT and replay at 8 p.m. PDT. The telethon broadcast and Strait’s Hand in Hand Texas show will air internationally via Facebook.

After Harvey hit Aug. 26, devastating Houston and surrounding areas, Strait tweeted on Aug. 30, “We are working on putting together relief efforts with the whole country music community.” He followed with another tweet on Sept. 4, “We’re rallying the country community. Stay tuned for Tuesday.”

READ MORE

Harvey Relief Telethon: Beyonce, Barbra Streisand Join Star-Studded Benefit

Tickets for the Strait concert, which will serve as the first in Strait’s ongoing relief efforts, will benefit Rebuild Texas Fund and go on sale Sept. 6 at 10 a.m. CDT at ticketmaster.com. Sponsor for Strait’s benefit show is Cavender Auto Family, with assistance from the Majestic Theater, Ticketmaster, VER, Bill Young Productions and the City of San Antonio. Louis Messina of Messina Touring Group is the key coordinator for Strait's benefit. 

Proceeds from the one-hour Hand in Hand telethon will benefit United Way of Greater Houston, Habitat for Humanity, Save the Children, Direct Relief, Feeding Texas, Rebuild Texas and The Mayor’s Fund for Hurricane Harvey Relief.

Strait was born in Poteet, Texas and grew up in tiny Pearsall, Texas. He has proudly remained in Texas throughout his career, often referencing his home state in song via such hits as “All My Ex’s Live in Texas,” “Amarillo By Morning,” and “Does Ft. Worth Ever Cross Your Mind.” Similarly, 6-time CMA female vocalist of the year Lambert, 4-time Grammy winner Lovett, and Texas Heritage Songwriter Hall of Fame member Keen all are Texas natives. Stapleton, the reigning CMAmale vocalist of the year, is from Kentucky. Through her MuttNation Foundation, Lambert has been working with the Humane Society to move animals already in local shelters in and around Houston to other homes or shelters to make room for pets that were displaced by the hurricane.   

Strait’s Sept. 12 concert represents a rare live performance by the King of Country, who, after retiring from touring in 2014, began a residency in April 2016 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. His next dates in that exclusive run are Dec. 8-9. 

Tuesday Country News Break

Old Dominion; Photo by Dove Shore

 

Old Dominion’s ‘Happy Endings’ Debuts at No.1

 KELLY BRICKEY • SEPTEMBER 5, 2017 - 1:44 PM

 

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There’s ‘No Such Thing as a Broken Heart’ for the guys of Old Dominion as they just got wind that their album, Happy Endings, reached the No. 1 slot on the charts.

The debut of their latest release soared up the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart following its August 25 release. Making its way to the top chart, as well as the No. 7 position on the all-genre Billboard Top 200, Old Dominion is making waves in 2017 with their upbeat progression with their catchy sound.

Noting it as one of their more personal pursuits, lead singer Matthew Ramsey previously told Sounds Like Nashville that Happy Endings dives into a lot of serious subjects while maintaining that laidback feel they established from their debut.

“There’s definitely a lot heavier subject matter on this album than there was on the first album. There’s still fun, goofy stuff that we are known for, too. But it definitely does get into a bit more serious subject matter,” Ramsey said.

Working off the success of their album, the guys also landed an opening positing for Thomas Rhett on a couple of his shows this fall. From the iconic Greek Theater in Los Angeles to Louisville, Kentucky’s KFC Yum! Center, the band will set up shop for Rhett for a dynamic show like none other. They also will cross the pond for a handful of international shows for their fans abroad throughout the autumn season as well.

Old Dominion is feeling the love even more as they recently snagged a pair of nominations for the 51st Annual CMA Awards this fall. Getting looks from the Vocal Group of the Year and New Artist of the Year categories, the band feels proud and honored to be among their friendly competitors.

Fans can purchase Happy Endings on iTunes now.

 

Thomas Rhett Readies His ‘Life Changes’ Record with Excitement and Nerves

 KELLY BRICKEY • SEPTEMBER 5, 2017 - 10:57 AM

 

Thomas Rhett; Photo Credit: John Shearer

Time doesn’t skip a beat for Thomas Rhett as he jumps from one duty to the next. With his whirlwind lifestyle dropping him from task to task, he’s come to terms with the idea that everything will stay in fast-forward mode throughout the rest of the year.

But the country singer doesn’t seem to mind the madness that crashed upon him as Rhett reflects upon the pandemonium throughout his highly-anticipated record, Life Changes. From becoming a new father to two beautiful girls to headlining his very own Home Team Tour, Rhett can’t complain on where his dreams are headed and he wants his new music to replicate his exact feelings through the authentic lyrics he penned for the project.

“In the fact that every time you put out a new project, it’s scary—are people going to like it at all or is it going to flop or is it going to do great? In the other sense, I feel like I’m in such a groove. This record was not made out of any sort of fear. It was made out of excitement and sheer, ‘I cannot wait to record these songs because I’m so passionate about these songs,’” Rhett explained to Sounds Like Nashville and other media recently. “In that aspect, it does take a little bit of the pressure away, because I know in my heart that this is the best representation of me today. If I can do that, I’m doing myself and hopefully everyone else, a favor.”

Approaching his next project as somewhat of a diary, Rhett relived the nostalgic memories and envisioned the stories he infused right back into his progressive sound. Giving the album a title that portrays the obvious span of events that Rhett has experienced over the past couple years, he finds confidence in his growing catalogue by letting the events unfold naturally.

“I think I started to write more about my life in general, because I don’t think I’d ever experienced that many life-altering events in such a short span of time than over the last two years,” Rhett shared. “‘Life Changes’ was actually written toward the end of the adoption process and about four months into Lauren being pregnant. ‘Life Changes’ and a song called ‘Sixteen’ were written just about life and basically ripping pages out of a diary. I don’t keep a diary, but if I did, those two songs would have been written out of that. I think ‘Life Changes’ was a pretty perfect title for a song and for the name of this record, just to describe what life has been over the last couple of years.”

Of course, Rhett knew that with every new album comes a gradual change in his personality through music. Allowing influences from pop to hip-hop to EDM take over, Rhett dug his vocals into his Southern roots to keep his country roots alive while still incorporating different beats into the mix. That development will be ever present on his track, “Leave Right Now,” as the bass drops like that of a Top 40 song but maintains the honest qualities in the lyrics that swing the song right back into country territory.

“I’m pretty sure when this album comes out I’m going to get a ton of comments on the song, ‘Leave Right Now,’ because it’s so progressive,” admitted Rhett. “It was a song that we didn’t even write with the intention of having somewhat of a drop, if you will. It started out just three dudes on an acoustic guitar. I was writing this song with a bunch of guys from LA. I’d been listening to a bunch of Chainsmokers songs at that point and was obsessed with that kind of music and the way it made me feel. I said, ‘Hey, can we add something after the chorus in this song?’ That’s what they added, and never in a million years did I think it was ever going to make the record. The more I started listening to it, I was like, ‘Why would I not want a song of mine that makes me feel incredible to be on the record?’”

He’s also pumped about the two collaborations on Life Changes that create a depth he hasn’t touched before on previous projects. Rhett already hit No. 1 with “Craving You,” thanks to the powerful harmonies of Maren Morris scattered throughout the rocking tune. Rhett even kept it all in the family by writing and recording a cut from his dad, Rhett Akins, called “Drink a Little Beer,” in which the twang takes over with a banjo lead-out shining through as the bright spot of the record.

Come September 8, Rhett will let his musical journal fall into the ears of fans as they get to know the biographical side of his songwriting throughout Life Changes and discover what makes the man that everyone knows as Thomas Rhett.

Life Changes is due out everywhere on September 8.

Album Review: Dustin Lynch’s ‘Current Mood’

 ANNIE REUTER • SEPTEMBER 5, 2017 - 10:22 AM

Dustin Lynch; Photo by Ford Fairchild

Dustin Lynch has made a name for himself as an engaging live performer and his third release, Current Mood, ups the ante. The album boasts beat-heavy production bound to keep Lynch’s audience on their feet as the Resistol hat wearing singer kicks off his own headlining tour later this year.

Current Mood had five different producers at the helm including Brent Anderson, Mickey Jack Cones, Ross Copperman, Zach Crowell and Will Weatherly. As a result, the album is less cohesive and instead takes on Lynch’s wide range of influences and emotions — something he intended to do.

“There’s a song for every emotion I’m feeling right now,” Lynch explains. “All these songs are a behind-the-curtain-look at my heart and soul, and it’s so diverse because I listen to all kinds of music. Depending on what mood I was in, I would start the session out with ‘Hey, I was listening to Sugar Ray last weekend in San Diego, I want to feel like that today.’ Or ‘I just saw Imagine Dragons, let’s try something like that.’”

Lynch co-wrote seven of the album’s 13 tracks and says his goal for the project was to stretch himself. As a result, the upbeat songs take the forefront throughout the album while the ballads take a backseat, which is unfortunate. On Current Mood the singer, who got his start with the heartfelt debut single “Cowboys and Angels” inspired by his grandparents’ long-lasting relationship, turns to R&B and pop produced tracks that have little depth. Instead of pining for that everlasting love, Lynch sings about partying (“Party Song”), late night romps in the hay (“Why We Call Each Other”) and wishing a girl was beer (“I Wish You Were Beer”).

 

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Dustin Lynch – Current Mood; Courtesy of Broken Bow Records

That’s not to say the album is at a complete loss, though. The seductive and sultry lead single “Seein’ Red” was just an introduction to where Current Mood was headed with its infectious pop-rock sound. Meanwhile, follow-up hit “Small Town Boy” showcases a country storyline with light R&B production appeal.

The R&B flavor continues throughout Current Mood and is best demonstrated on the late night hookup song, “Why We Call Each Other.” On the track, Lynch sings of being a secret lover: “no strings ’cause it isn’t real . . . it’s just the right shade of wrong . . . you’ll be gone by sunrise like it never happened.” Later, on “Back On It,” Lynch amps up the sex appeal with his sultry slowed singing style as he compares a woman’s love to a drug. “Baby I ain’t ever done cocaine / I swear there’s something running through my veins,” he croons.

The album’s standout moment is on a stripped down ballad called “Love Me Or Leave Me Alone.” The striking song has Lynch lamenting about not knowing where he and a woman stand in their relationship. Added harmonies from Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild make the already powerful ballad even more striking. “Love me or leave me alone / Hold me or just let me go / ‘Cause I’ve felt this fire for so long / So baby love me, love me / Love me or leave me alone,” Lynch sings on the chorus.

Another highlight includes nostalgic album closer “Sun Don’t Go Down On That” where Lynch reminisces of a past summer love alongside slick production. “You’ll never forget the way that it is when you know it’s love,” he sings softly.

Lynch’s goal for Current Mood was to continue to stretch himself as an artist. While he accomplishes exactly this on the record, he may have stretched himself too thin. The overproduction on some tracks proves distracting and, as a result, loses the storyline and the listener on the song. In a genre with a foundation for storytelling this is unfortunate. More heartfelt ballads like “Love Me Or Leave Me Alone” could have solved this problem and given what’s an already compelling album more depth.

2017 CMA Awards Nominations: Surprises and Snubs

 LAUREN JO BLACK • SEPTEMBER 4, 2017 - 10:08 AM

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Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Blake Shelton

Nominees for the 51st Annual CMA Awards were revealed Monday morning (Sept. 4) on ABC’s Good Morning America. The list of top nominees was a bit expected, with country queen Miranda Lambert coming in with five nominations, followed by Keith Urban and Little Big Town with four nominations each.

It was the artists left off the list of nominees that had people talking on Monday. In true post-CMA Awards nominations fashion, Sounds Like Nashville is here to tell you which artists were overlooked, or snubbed, and which nominations left us scratching our heads and/or jumping for joy.

The Overlooked

Jason Aldean: Aldean didn’t receive a single nomination for the second consecutive year. It’s quite surprising as Aldean is a two-time ACM Entertainer of the Year and has had a successful year on the road and on the charts. Perhaps this plays in to politics of some sort. Either way, there’s no doubt he deserved something!

Florida Georgia Line: Love ‘em or hate ‘em, these guys deserved another nod or two. Not only did FGL have two successful tours during the nomination period, the duo also released collaborations with Tim McGraw and the Backstreet Boys during that time. We were sure we’d see their name pop up a bit more.

“The Fighter:” Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood had musical gold on their hands with “The Fighter.” It was shocking to not see them among the nominees for Vocal Event of the Year.

Blake Shelton: ZERO nominations. You read that right. Shelton released a chart-topping album that spawned several radio hits and he didn’t receive a single nod. Has Nashville has decided that he’s “too Hollywood?”

“In Case You Didn’t Know:” We thought Brett Young’s smash hit was a shoe-in for Song of the Year. It surprisingly didn’t make the cut.

The Surprises

Maddie & Tae: They’re insanely talented, but they haven’t released a single in well over a year. Big & Rich was missing from the list of Vocal Duo of the Year nominees and could have been a great replacement.

Jon Pardi: The California native has been going at it for quite some time, so it’s nice to see him finally getting some recognition. His California Sunrise album was a game changer for him, and “Dirt On My Boots” took his career to the next level. Well-deserved!

Luke Bryan and Garth Brooks: Both are nominated for Entertainer of the Year, but didn’t receive a nomination outside of that category.

“Tin Man:” Miranda Lambert’s heart-wrenching tune is up for Single of the Year, but has barely cracked the top 30 at country radio.

Entertainer of the Year: This category is dominated by males. We’re surprised that Miranda Lambert or Carrie Underwood didn’t earn a nod here… but are we really that surprised? “Tomatogate” lives on!

Single and Song of the Year: The same five songs are up for both awards. There is usually some overlap, but we’re shocked to see the same songs in both categories.

Taylor Swift: Receiving her first CMA Awards nomination since 2014, Swift is back with a nod for Song of the Year with “Better Man.”

What do you think of this year’s nominees? Tweet us @soundslikenash and let us know!

The 51st Annual CMA Awards, hosted by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, will air Wednesday, November 8 on ABC.

2017 CMA Awards Nominees Revealed

 LAUREN JO BLACK • SEPTEMBER 4, 2017 - 7:46 AM

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Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert, Thomas Rhett

Brothers OsborneLauren Alaina and Dustin Lynch were up bright and early on Monday (Sept. 4) to reveal the final nominees for the 51st Annual CMA Awards on ABC’s Good Morning America. 

This year’s top nominee is Miranda Lambert, who racked in a total of five nominations, including a nod for Album of the Year for her double album, The Weight of These Wings. Following close behind with four nominations each are Little Big Town and Keith Urban.

Other top nominees include Eric Church, Maren Morris, Thomas Rhett, and Chris Stapleton, who garnered three nominations each.

See the complete list of CMA Awards nominees below and be sure to tune in to “Country Music’s Biggest Night,” The 51st Annual CMA Awards, hosted by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, on Wednesday, November 8 on ABC.

Entertainer of the Year
Garth Brooks
Luke Bryan
Eric Church
Chris Stapleton
Keith Urban

Single of the Year
(Award goes to Artist, Producer(s), and Mix Engineer(s))
“Better Man” – Little Big Town
Producer: Jay Joyce
Mix Engineers: Jason Hall, Jay Joyce

“Blue Ain’t Your Color” – Keith Urban
Producers: Dann Huff, Keith Urban
Mix Engineer: Chris Lord-Alge

“Body Like A Back Road” – Sam Hunt
Producer: Zach Crowell
Mix Engineer: Zach Crowell

“Dirt On My Boots” – Jon Pardi
Producers: Bart Butler, Jon Pardi
Mix Engineer: Ryan Gore

“Tin Man” – Miranda Lambert
Producers: Frank Liddell, Eric Masse, Glenn Worf
Mix Engineer: Eric Masse

Album of the Year
(Award goes to Artist and Producer(s))
The Breaker – Little Big Town
Producer: Jay Joyce

From A Room: Volume 1 – Chris Stapleton
Producers: Dave Cobb, Chris Stapleton

Heart Break – Lady Antebellum
Producer: busbee

The Nashville Sound – Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Producer: Dave Cobb

The Weight of These Wings – Miranda Lambert
Producers: Frank Liddell, Glenn Worf, Eric Masse

Song of the Year
(Award goes to Songwriter(s))
“Better Man”
Songwriter: Taylor Swift

“Blue Ain’t Your Color”
Songwriters: Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey, Steven Lee Olsen

“Body Like A Back Road”
Songwriters: Zach Crowell, Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne

“Dirt On My Boots”
Songwriters: Rhett Akins, Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley

“Tin Man”
Songwriters: Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall

Female Vocalist of the Year
Kelsea Ballerini
Miranda Lambert
Reba McEntire
Maren Morris
Carrie Underwood

Male Vocalist of the Year
Dierks Bentley
Eric Church
Thomas Rhett
Chris Stapleton
Keith Urban

Vocal Group of the Year
Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Old Dominion
Rascal Flatts
Zac Brown Band

Vocal Duo of the Year
Dan + Shay
Florida Georgia Line
LOCASH
Maddie & Tae
Brothers Osborne

Musical Event of the Year
(Award goes to each Artist)
“Craving You” – Thomas Rhett featuring Maren Morris
“Funny How Time Slips Away” – Glen Campbell with Willie Nelson
“Kill A Word” – Eric Church featuring Rhiannon Giddens
“Setting the World on Fire” – Kenny Chesney with P!nk
“Speak to a Girl” – Tim McGraw & Faith Hill

Musician of the Year
Jerry Douglas (Dobro)
Paul Franklin (Steel Guitar)
Dann Huff (Guitar)
Mac McAnally (Guitar)
Derek Wells (Guitar)

Music Video of the Year
(Award goes to Artist and Director(s))
“Better Man” – Little Big Town
Directors: Becky Fluke and Reid Long

“Blue Ain’t Your Color” – Keith Urban
Director: Carter Smith

“Craving You” – Thomas Rhett featuring Maren Morris
Director: TK McKamy

“It Ain’t My Fault” – Brothers Osborne
Directors: Wes Edwards and Ryan Silver

“Vice” – Miranda Lambert
Director: Trey Fanjoy

New Artist of the Year  
Lauren Alaina
Luke Combs
Old Dominion
Jon Pardi
Brett Young

Chris Young Invited to Join the Grand Ole Opry

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 LAUREN JO BLACK • AUGUST 30, 2017 - 7:37 AM

 

Chris Young received the surprise of a lifetime Tuesday (Aug 29) when Vince Gill invited him to become the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Gill, a Country Music Hall of Fame and Opry member, joined Young on stage at the Opry to perform their chart-topping hit “Sober Saturday Night.” Before they sang the first lines, Gill joked that he had never been paid for his session work on the single.

“I’ll make you a deal,” Gill told him. “I’ll forgive the session fees if you’ll be the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry.”

A overwhelmed Young happily accepted as fans in the packed Opry House rose to their feet and erupted with applause.

Vince Gill and Chris Young; Photo by Chris Hollo

“You’re getting triple scale at this point,” Young laughed. “Dang, you got me good! I love you guys. I love everybody here. I love this place.”

“As a friend and someone that’s been out here for 30 years, you will not believe the friendships, the relationships, and the heart that you will gain from being out here for the rest of your life,” Gill shared with him. “It’s going to be really powerful to you, so congratulations.”

Young, who made his Opry debut on June 15, 2006, will officially be inducted on Tuesday, October 17, just days before his new album, Losing Sleep, is released.

George Strait Working on Hurricane Harvey Relief Effort

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By Billy Dukes August 29, 2017 4:56 PM

George Strait has revealed that he was personally affected by Hurricane Harvey and that he’s working on a relief effort “with the whole country music community.”

Two tweets signed by the singer himself shared these details but little more. Strait first sent thoughts and prayers to his fellow Texas. “My family & friends were personally affected in surrounding areas. God bless us all,” he writes. The legend has a house in Rockport, Texas, but lives full time north of the Texas border with Mexico. Coincidentally, his name full name is George Harvey Strait.

Country musicians have long been the first to respond to tragedy with their time and music. Toby Keith planned a massive tornado relief concert that netted several million dollars after tornadoes touched down in Moore, Okla., in 2013. Blake Shelton also raised money to help victims of that tragedy with a benefit concert that aired on NBC in May 2013.

Similar all-star concerts helped citizens of Alabama and Nashville recover after tornadoes and floods devastated the area. Within 48 hours of Hurricane Harvey making landfall, stars like Chris Young were pledging support. The disaster is still playing out in real time however, and details about the deaths, injuries and amount of destruction are difficult to tally.

Strait has not said how he plans to help or that he’ll be part of arranging any sort of concert for victims of Hurricane Harvey. Other Texas-raised artists who’ve been playing close attention to the storm and the aftermath include Miranda LambertKelly ClarksonJosh Abbott BandRaeLynn and Granger Smith. Taste of Country has created a portal with links to fundraisers started by country musicians, as well as links to the American Red Cross and Salvation Army.

Read More: George Strait Working on Hurricane Harvey Relief Effort | http://tasteofcountry.com/george-strait-hurricane-harvey-relief-event/?trackback=fbshare_top_flat_3&trackback=tsmclip

Midland Snags First-Ever Career No. 1 with ‘Drinkin’ Problem’

Midland; Photo by Harper Smith

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 KELLY BRICKEY • AUGUST 29, 2017 - 9:22 AM

Midland’s ‘Drinkin’ Problem’ sounds like a solution to them as they sing in their debut track, and that led them to notch the No. 1 position on the Mediabase Country Airplay Chart this week.

The trio stepped onto the scene with their traditional sound, only to shock people with their hilarious tongue-in-cheek lyrics throughout “Drinkin’ Problem.” Making the twang of 70s country cool again, they earned their spot at the top after making the rounds within the format.

Celebrating the accolade in great company over the weekend by opening up for Kenny Chesney at his iconic Gillette Stadium shows, the guys of the group couldn’t be more grateful for the success they’ve worked so hard for over the past year.

“This is unreal. This is our family and this is the only thing that matters . We love you guys. Y’all are number 1,” they captioned their celebratory Instagram post.

Taking the vibes of country legends like Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson, Midland hopes to revive the outlaw themes that were quite popular during the 70s and 80s in country music. Their modern take on the vintage approach holds nostalgic for many fans of the genre, and gives promise to Midland toward their hopeful future in the industry.

Midland plans to release their second single, “Make a Little,” to radio soon and fans can hear the track when they pre-order the trio’s album, On the Rocks.

Midland Reveals Debut Album Title and Track Listing

 LAUREN LAFFER • AUGUST 15, 2017 - 7:01 AM

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Cheers to Midland, who just announced the title and track listing of their debut album, On The Rocks. Each of the 13 songs on the project were either written or co-written by the band’s Cameron Duddy, Jess Carson and Mark Wystrach, and also includes songwriting credits from country music power players Shane McAnallyJosh Osborne and Rhett Akins.

“We’re working really hard at cultivating an album full of songs that mean something to us but also fit together,” Duddy told Billboard when the project’s release date was first announced. “Picking songs that fit together nice and tell our story and represent the place that we’re at right now in music has been the agenda for putting this thing together, and we’re very excited to share it with people. We’re proud of it.”

The album’s title is likely pulled from the chorus of the trio’s debut single, “Drinkin’ Problem.” “People say I’ve got a drinkin’ problem / That ain’t no reason to stop / People saying that I’ve hit rock bottom / Just cause I’m living on the rocks,” Wystrach croons in the chorus.

Prominent on the group’s album cover is the band’s classic country look, complete with embroidered appliques and rhinestones. The look, Wystrack explains, is something he took as a young boy from his father.

“From a very young impressionable age, for me, I was just coming out of the 70s into the early 80s, and for me I was a small little impressionable child watching how my dad dressed,” he shared. “My dad wore tight wranglers with French cut, beautiful Paul Bond handmade boots in Nogales, Sonora, with a huge gold belt buckle and a big gold chain and I’d see the way that my dad dressed and to me that’s what I am reminiscent and nostalgic for.”

Fans can catch Midland out on the road this fall when they open for Jon Pardi on the Lucky Tonight Tour, which kicks off in Birmingham, AL on October 12.

Fans can pick up a copy of On The Rocks when it debuts on September 22.

On The Rocks Track List:
1. “Lonely For You Only” | Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Mark Wystrach, Rhett Akins, Josh Osborne
2. “Make A Little” | Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Mark Wystrach, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne
3. “Drinkin’ Problem” | Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Mark Wystrach, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne
4. “At Least You Cried” | Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Mark Wystrach, Jonathan Singleton
5. “Burn Out” | Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Mark Wystrach, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne
6. “Out Of Sight” | Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Mark Wystrach, Luke Laird, Shane McAnally
7. “More Than A Fever” | Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Mark Wystrach, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne
8. “Check Cashin’ Country” | Jess Carson
9. “Nothin’ New Under The Neon” | Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Mark Wystrach, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne
10. “This Old Heart” | Jess Carson, Mark Wystrach, David Lee Murphy, Jonathan Singleton
11. “Altitude Adjustment” | Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Mark Wystrach, Rhett Akins, Rodney Clawson
12. “Electric Rodeo” | Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Mark Wystrach, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne
13. “Somewhere On The Wind” | Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Mark Wystrach, Rhett Akins, Josh Osborne

Aaron Watson Finds Success With His Own Brand of Country Music

Aaron Watson; Photo by Zack Morris

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 CHUCK DAUPHIN • AUGUST 29, 2017 - 10:05 AM

August 19 is a date that Aaron Watson won’t forget any time soon. On that day, the singer, a native of Abilene, Texas, was playing before one of the largest crowds of his career, at the home of the Texas Rangers in Arlington. Watson performed a full hour set at Globe Life Park immediately following a Texas victory over the visiting Chicago White Sox. As a native of the Lone Star State, Watson said it was a moment in his career that he will never forget.

“When you can combine music with family, that’s everything to me,” he shared with Sounds Like Nashville. “Much like when we played our debut show at the Grand Ole Opry, Mom and Dad were celebrating their fortieth anniversary, and I had my wife Kimberly there with me. The crowd, the fans, and the music just made for an unforgettable experience.”

The success of his new album, Vaquero, and his Top-30 single, “Outta Style,” have made 2017 one for the books. “We’ve had such a great summer this year, where we played four countries in one week. So, anyone in the music industry that thinks of me as a regional act, then I am covering a large region,” he said with a smile.

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Watson said the day was special because he got to combine many of his passions into one afternoon. “First of all, I am a huge baseball fan,” he explained. “My entire family loves getting to see the Rangers play, but what made it so special was that it was my dad’s birthday, and the Rangers took such good care of us. We had two suites, and all-you-can-eat food, and between that, friends and family, that was his definition of heaven right there. He was so happy. It was so much fun being surrounded by those that I love and those that love me. They gave Dad a ‘Happy Birthday’ shout-out on the big screen, and the next thing you know, there’s an entire stadium roaring for him. After the show, they said it was one of the largest post-game concerts that they have ever had. Usually, with August in Texas, it’s miserable hot, but it wasn’t. It was a beautiful night, and the Rangers won. It was a special night, one I will never forget.”

The singer also got to involve one of country music’s most hallowed institutions in the festivities as Watson participated in an “Opry Circle Throwdown” from the stage when he brought out a replica of the famed six-foot Opry Circle of wood symbolizing the oak center stage at the Opry House, making its Texas debut. He said he was humbled and honored to include the WSM Radio show in the evening. “I love country music, and I love Nashville though I am unapologetically Texan. To be able to bring the Opry to Texas was a lot of fun. We love the Opry, and they are just the best folks over there. I love how they keep with the trend, but stay true to tradition. That’s what we’re doing. That’s my brand of country music.”

 

Aaron Watson; Photo by Zack Morris

Watson, whose last three albums all hit the Top-10 on the Country Albums chart, said that he has been very blessed with his success, but tries to keep it all in perspective. “Anything that I have done is far less than important than anything my mother and my dad have done. My dad is one hundred percent disabled from serving our country. The reason why we’re free is people who have made that kind of sacrifice, and my mom is a schoolteacher – underpaid, under-appreciated, yet she still does it anyway. I’m not really impressed with me and what I’m doing. I’m just blessed. My goal every night is to get on stage and share my love for my family, my faith and Jesus, and give the fans a great experience and try my best to have a positive impact on them.”

Watson hopes that his music makes an impact on his fans, and also that his hard-working example has a likewise effect on the team he has assembled at his company, Big Label Records. “I use my story all the time to try to encourage these kids to get out there and work hard. I’ve had influential people in the business who would tell me either that I didn’t have what it takes, or what I was doing was never going to work. Hard work and hustle pays off. Babe Ruth once said, ‘It’s hard to beat a guy who just won’t give up.’ The fact of it is that in this day and age with social media and people downloading albums online, there’s a lot of advantages for an independent artist,” he said, but stressed that doesn’t necessarily describe his situation. “I’m not an independent artist. I’m an artist who owns his own record label. We’ve hired an incredible team at radio. They work so hard, and are passionate about me and my music. I have twenty-seven employees, and each of them have a spouse and children. We’re a big family. The label is growing. It’s not just about me. It’s about the label. Eventually the plan is to sign other artists.”

With his music starting to take off on the airwaves, Watson promises he’s here to stay. “We love country music and country radio. I tell radio all the time, ‘You better get used to my face. It took me eighteen years to get here, and I’m not going away.’ I’m here to play ball.”

What is it like for the singer when Bob Kingsley or Kix Brooks includes him in the weekly countdowns, laying testament to his growing success and fan base? “Honestly, I flip out like a little girl who just got a new puppy. It’s ridiculous. I’m glad that nobody has caught that moment on camera so far. Bob and Kix have both been so good to me. I think because I’m from Texas, a lot of people want to make it into a “me versus them’ thing like Texas versus Nashville, but it’s not that. There’s a lot of great pop country artists, and I like their music,” he said. “But, that’s not me or my music. The Beatles couldn’t be The Rolling Stones, and The Rolling Stones were not The Beatles, but they each did their own thing well. One thing that we’ve lost today in music is that with so many artists, a lot of of people have lost their identity. Every record sounds different. I think it’s because they are chasing the current sound. If you buy a Merle Haggard record, it sounded like a Merle Haggard record. The same for Johnny CashWaylon [Jennings] and Willie [Nelson] and the other legends. They stayed true to who they were. You could always depend on those artists to remain true to who they were. We’re just out there having fun and doing what we do.”

Now that he has played at Globe Life Park, what about that other stadium just down the road in Arlington that is home to the Dallas Cowboys? He says he and his band are ready whenever Jerry Jones wants to call. “I’m ready to go,” he exclaimed, adding that chances are pretty good that he will be there at a few games at least in 2017 to cheer on Dak Prescott and company. “I haven’t looked at the Cowboys’ schedule yet, but my dad and my boys and I load up every year, and we go catch some games. It’s gotten crazy. I show up at AT&T Stadium, and it turns into a meet and greet session, so I have to find my seat and stay put for a while. When I am at a game like that, and one of the teams play my music over the speakers, my boys look at me like ‘My dad is a big thing.’ That’s what means the most to me.”

 

 

35 Years Ago: George Strait Earns First No. 1 Hit With ‘Fool Hearted Memory’

(L-R, Byron Hill, George Strait and Blake Mevis – with the iconic Gene Watson photo looking over Hill’s shoulder – in 1982 at the number one party for “Fool Hearted Memory.” Photo courtesy of the Country Music Foundation)

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By Gayle Thompson August 28, 2017 8:00 AM

It’s been 35 years since George Strait earned his first No. 1 hit with “Fool Hearted Memory.” The Texan’s first single from his sophomore album, Strait From the Heart, shot to the top of the charts, paving the way for 59 more singles to follow; it reached No. 1 on Aug. 28, 1982.

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“Fool Hearted Memory” was Strait’s fourth career single. The song, written by Byron Hill and Blake Mevis, was penned for a movie titled The Soldier and called on the relatively unknown Strait to sing for the soundtrack.

“I had written a song for a movie called The Exterminator,” Hill recalls to Country Weekly. “The same company came to my publisher and wanted a song for The Soldier. But there was more to it. The studio wanted a major-label artist to record the song and perform it in the movie. And they would only commit to the song if it was released as a single.”

The film was not a success, but the song, which was also Hill’s first No. 1, helped Strait’s career take off.

“George was just starting to happen and was very open to the idea of being on a movie soundtrack,” Hill tells American Songwriter. “The song, which was really going to be pretty insignificant in the scheme of things, turned out to be a lot bigger than the movie.”

In addition to earning a total of 60 No. 1 hits, Strait has gone on to sell more than 70 million albums. He is the only artist in the history of music to have a Top 10 hit every year for 30 years.

“Fool Hearted Memory” is available for download on iTunes.

Read More: George Strait Earns First No. 1 With 'Fool Hearted Memory' | http://theboot.com/george-strait-fool-hearted-memory/?trackback=tsmclip

 

Byron Hill Talks “Fool Hearted Memory,” Three Decades Later

 

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Written By Rick Moore // August 20, 2012

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In terms of songwriters whose contributions to Nashville helped shape the city, the low-key Byron Hill may be the least recognized for having done the most. With well over 600 cuts since the late 1970s, several of them number ones, Hill is also credited with discovering and producing such country stars as Kathy Mattea and Gary Allan. Hill is still active, winning awards as producer for Canadian artist Gord Bamford, and getting cuts on new albums by Teea Goans and Don Williams.

Right now, though, Hill is looking back at an event that changed his life and the life of a young country singer from Texas named George Strait. It was 30 years ago this month that now-living legend Strait had his first number one record, “Fool Hearted Memory,” written by Hill and Strait’s then-producer Blake Mevis. Since that time, Strait has gone on to have more number one singles than anyone in music history, and has never produced anything less than a gold album. And Hill’s career, as one would expect, has been the better for his association with the man who has come to be known as “King George.”

“I’d had cuts by the time we did ‘Fool Hearted Memory,’ but, like George, that was my first number one,” Hill recalled. “It’s really a classic story of a music publisher doing what they’re supposed to do. I was writing for ATV Music and had written a song for a movie called The Exterminator, and the film company came back and wanted another song for a bar scene in a movie called The Soldier. Gerry Teifer, my publisher at ATV, got together with (longtime Nashville music executive) Jim Foglesong at MCA Records, and, along with Blake Mevis, came up with a plan to fill the bill with a song on a rising young artist named George Strait. George was just starting to happen and was very open to the idea of being on a movie soundtrack. The song, which was really going to be pretty insignificant in the scheme of things, turned out to be a lot bigger than the movie.”

“I think it was pretty much a guaranteed single, but we still had to come up with a great song for it to be a single,” Hill continued. “The stars aligned and we wrote a really great song. I’m always careful not to use the word ‘great’ but it really is a great song. But I think it also takes a great artist and a great history to make something really ‘great.’ The song just really fit the situation at the time.”

As far as the demo, it was a no-brainer, especially since the deal was essentially done if Hill and Mevis could deliver the goods. “Blake went home the night we wrote the song and sat down in his kitchen with a TEAC four-track and played rhythm and lead guitar and sang the demo,” Hill said. “We pitched it and George took it to the top from there.” Mevis also continued to have a highly successful career, producing Keith Whitley, Craig Morgan and others.

 

Hill still treasures the photo that was taken in the lobby of MCA Records at the number one party for Strait’s record. “There we were, in the MCA Records lobby at the number one party, under a picture of Gene Watson who was also on MCA,” he said. “Gene is one of the greatest country singers ever, and George was trying to make it the way Gene had. It was just all so cool. Great history.”

For all his cuts and his relationship with Strait, Hill didn’t have another cut on Strait for some 20 years. He finally got another one with “My Infinite Love” on Strait’s 2003 Honkytonkvillealbum. “I wrote it with Billy Yates and a woman named Annette Grossberg, who gave us the title and the idea,” Hill said. “I never actually met her because she died of cancer shortly after we did the demo. Billy sang it at her funeral.”

Hill said that, before the month is over, there will be a celebration of some sort marking this landmark in his career and the 30thanniversary of what began an unequalled string of hits for any singer of any genre. Hill will definitely be there, but no word yet on whether or not King George will be coming in from Texas for the party.

 

Country Stars Provide Flood Aid for Texas

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Miranda Lambert Deploys MuttNation Foundation to Help Hurricane Harvey Victims

 KELLY BRICKEY • AUGUST 28, 2017 - 2:51 PM

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Miranda Lambert; Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images

It’s all about saving the pets, so Miranda Lambert’s MuttNation Foundation is headed down to her home state of Texas to lend a helping hand to people dealing with the destruction of Hurricane Harvey.

Loading up their trailers full of pet supplies and food, the MuttNation Foundation decided it was time to give back to Houston and the surrounding areas during this devastating weather pattern and go save the animals in crisis down south. As a pro-rescue foundation themselves, they wanted to bring the services they offer to those pets trying to find a safe place in the aftermath of the devastating storm.

 

“Our team is headed South! It was important to our AMAZING founder, Miranda Lambert that we do our part for her home state! We are headed to Houston to give relief to municipal shelters. We will help transport any animals currently in shelters so that there is room for displaced animals from Hurricane Harvey! Plus any other support we can offer!!! You can help support our efforts by donating atwww.muttnationfoundation.com! Friends, please pray for Texas,” the organization posted on their Facebook page.

Lambert also personally expressed her grief over the desolation from the Category Four hurricane that ran rampant through Southeast Texas via a short and sweet post on social media.
“Prayers, light and love for Texas!  #home #hurricaneharvey,” Lambert tweeted earlier alongside a retweet from Ellen DeGeneres about donating to the American Red Cross.

Many country stars are getting behind relief efforts, with Chris Young starting a GoFundMe page with a $100,000 donation and Lady Antebellum donating all of the proceeds earned from their merchandise sales from their show in Dallas to disaster relief efforts.

Those interested in helping out the victims of Hurricane Harvey can go onto the American Red Cross website to learn more about donating.

Lady Antebellum Donates Proceeds from Merchandise Sales to Hurricane Harvey Relief

 KELLY BRICKEY • AUGUST 28, 2017 - 11:23 AM

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Lady Antebellum; Photo by Mike Coppola/WireImage

Lady Antebellum is joining the list of country artists that are showing their support for those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

Although the country trio was forced to cancel their tour date in Houston due to the Category Four hurricane, they decided to give back with the simple notion of donating all of the money made from their Dallas merchandise sales right back into the relief fund to help those caught in Hurricane Harvey’s path.

“We are so sad to have had to cancel our show in Houston tonight. Last night, we played a show up the street in Dallas and all of our merch proceeds will be going towards hurricane relief funds. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by #HurricaneHarvey,” Lady A wrote on social media.

It’s unknown how much money would be sent off to aid the victims in the horrific storms, but their random act of kindness goes a long way in the line of lending a hand during these catastrophic weather patterns.

Chris Young started his own initiative to help out with Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area by creating a GoFundMe page for fans to donate as much as they could to the American Red Cross. Giving $100,000 of his own money to kickstart the cause, Young already raised almost $50,000 in a matter of less than 24 hours.

Other country stars expressed their sadness and woes via social media, with Miranda Lambert sending prayers to her home state and Brad Paisley admitting his disbelief over all of the damage done in the Southeast Texas region.

Fans interested in giving back to the communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey can head over to the American Red Cross website now to donate.

Chris Young Establishes GoFundMe Page for Hurricane Harvey Relief, Donates $100,000

 KELLY BRICKEY • AUGUST 28, 2017 - 9:43 AM

In times of crisis, Chris Young is coming to the rescue to help those affected Hurricane Harvey.

The country singer is using his platform to reach out to his hundreds of thousands of followers to encourage them to make a donation to the victims of Hurricane Harvey and aid in disaster relief efforts. Hoping to raise a total of $500,000 to help citizens of Texas rebuild and recover from the horrific weather conditions, Young set up a GoFundMe page and dedicated a whopping $100,000 himself to get the donations flowing.

Within less than 24 hours of creating the account through the charitable start-up company’s site, Young received more than $43,000 from 609 pledgers to give back to Houston and the surrounding communities for all of their losses, both personally and structurally.

Young’s personal connection to the Houston area as a homeowner gave him the gumption to start helping out his community by urging his friends and fans to give as little or much as they can to the American Red Cross in order to boost up the morale for so many who lost everything in the hurricane.

“I have friends and family there and I’m almost certain my house down there may have to be torn down as it was in one of the areas that was hardest hit by winds and flooding…But that’s the least of my concerns. I’m worried about the people there – my friends, family and neighbors – and I want to help,” he said in the persistent video clip. “Love you guys and every little bit helps. In times like these, you turn to your friends to help those in need and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I hope you’ll donate… and Texas…we love you.”

Hurricane Harvey is one of the strongest hurricanes to hit Texas in many years, with a Category Four rating upon landfall. The storm brought up to 20 inches of rain in some areas of the Southeastern region of the state, leaving thousands of homes without any power and completely flooded to capacity. The catastrophe has killed five people, and the devastation will only continue to hit throughout the next couple days.

Those who want to donate to Young’s page can head to the listing HERE or log onto the American Red Cross website to pledge directly to the cause.

 

 

George Strait, Chris Stapleton and More Honor Jerry Lee Lewis

Photo: Lorie Liebig/Wide Open Country

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At the age of 81, Jerry Lee Lewis proved he still has plenty of fire left in him during Skyville Live’s tribute to his long and enduring career. Some of country music’s biggest names took the stage alongside him to perform covers of The Killer’s greatest hits.

Although his songbook is extensive, the tribute show was tightly packed into one hour. There were no lengthy speeches or video montages. Instead, they rolled through an impressive lineup of performances from artists who usually play massive venues. This time around, they played for an intimate audience that included Lewis himself, along with fans and music industry executives.

 

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George Strait photo: Lorie Liebig/Wide Open Country

The room lit up when George Strait took the stage for a rollicking rendition of “Great Balls of Fire.” It kicked off a set that showcased both Lewis’ rock stylings and his country roots.

Lee Ann Womack. photo: Lorie Liebig/Wide Open Country

Ever soulful and pure, Lee Ann Womack’s vocals brought things to the next level with her take on “What’s Made Milwaukee Famous.”

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Toby Keith, Lorie Liebig/Wide Open Country

Ever the showman, Toby Keith opted to tackle three Jerry Lee Lewis hits. He rolled through “Thirty Nine and Holding” and “Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee” before going all in with “Chantilly Lace.”

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Kris Kristofferson, Lorie Liebig/Wide Open Country

Fellow musical legend Kris Kristofferson performed a lighthearted rendition of “Mean Old Man.”

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Chris Stapleton, Lorie Liebig/Wide Open Country

It’s no surprise that Chris Stapleton earned a standing ovation. But his rendition of the gospel song “I’ll Follow Him,” accompanied by the McCrary Sisters, was a true goosebump-worthy moment.

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Chris Stapleton, Toby Keith and Kris Kristofferson, Lorie Liebig/Wide Open Country

It all wrapped up with Lewis heading to the piano to perform his trademark hit “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On” with the night’s guests as his backing band. Although he can’t get around as well as he used to, it was clear that his talents are charms were as strong as ever.

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Jerry Lee Lewis, Lorie Liebig/Wide Open Country

“That was some of the best music I ever heard in my life,” he told the performers and crowd with a shaky voice. “I’ll never forget this.”

You can watch a replay of the entire Skyville Live stream here.

 

Dustin Lynch Reveals Track List for ‘Current Mood’

Dustin Lynch; Photos by Daniel Vorlet

 

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 KELLY BRICKEY • AUGUST 23, 2017 - 1:23 PM

 

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Dustin Lynch - Current Mood; Courtesy of Broken Bow Records

With the anticipation building for his upcoming project, Dustin Lynch is obliging fans by announcing the official track list for Current Mood.

Coming in at a solid 13 tracks total, Lynch will explore a variety of sounds on his forthcoming creation from the traditional rhythms of country to a splash of pop, R&B and rock thrown into the mix.

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The Tennessee native slyly shared the track list with his Instagram followers throughout the past couple of weeks by posting photos of himself sporting t-shirts with song lyrics and titles on them.

Lynch sets forth with Current Mood by explaining that the record reflects his growth as an artist and human being over the past handful of years and dives into many of the life-changing moments he’s experienced throughout his time in the business. He wants his listeners to be able to grasp onto another side of him they haven’t experienced yet and he’s hoping this record will do just that.

“This album is a glimpse into the last three years of my life…the travel, the adventures, the relationships and the personal growth,” said Lynch recently. “I think this is the most personal release I have done and I’m really excited to share with everyone my Current Mood.”

The record will feature two of Lynch’s most recent radio releases such as “Small Town Boy” and “Seein’ Red.” He’ll follow up the album with a headlining tour throughout the late fall and early winter months. Fans can find more details about the tour on his website.

Current Mood will be released to stores and digital retailers on September 8.

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Current Mood Track List

  1. “I’d Be Jealous Too” (‪Dustin Lynch, Ross Copperman, Jon Nite)
  2.  “Seein’ Red” (Tully Kennedy, Kurt Allison, Steve Bogard, Jason Sever)
  3. “Small Town Boy” (Rhett Akins, Ben Hayslip, Kyle Fishman)
  4. “Why We Call Each Other” (Dustin Lynch, Lee Miller, Ross Copperman)
  5. “Here We Come” (Dustin Lynch, Zach Crowell, Jon Nite)
  6. “Love Me or Leave Me Alone” (Dustin Christensen, Chris Gelbuda)
  7. “Back On It” (Brent Anderson, Will Weatherly, Smith Ahnquist)
  8. “I Wish You Were Beer” (Jon Nite, Josh Osborne, Justin Ebach)
  9. “State Lines” (Dustin Lynch, Kyle Fishman, Andy Albert)
  10. “Party Song” (Brett Tyler, Craig Wiseman, Morgan Wallen)
  11. “New Girl” (‪Dustin Lynch, Zach Crowell, Ashley Gorley)
  12. “Why Not Tonight” (‪Dustin Lynch, Jimmy Robbins, Jon Nite)
  13. “Sun Don’t Go Down On That” (‪Dustin Lynch, Ross Copperman, Jon Nite)

 

 

Luke Bryan Debuts Sexy New Single, ‘Light It Up’

Luke Bryan, Light It Up; Photo courtesy Capitol Nashville

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 LAUREN LAFFER • AUGUST 23, 2017 - 9:50 AM

 

Luke Bryan is giving us a taste of his upcoming sixth studio album with the release of his new single, “Light It Up.” The track, which debuted on iHeartRadio Wednesday morning (Aug. 23), was co-written by the Georgia native with the help of Old Dominion’s Brad Tursi.

“You want to hear the most ironic thing about the song? Brad and I had never written,” Bryan told the Bobby Bones Show. “Caroline and I, we had built our house, just built, built, built. Never thought it was going to get done, never thought it was going to get done. I built a music room, put a piano, got my guitars in there. First writing appointment in my writing room was this song.”

The writing session resulted in “Light It Up,” with Bryan crooning the words “I get so neurotic about it baby / ‘Cause I know you’re reading your phone / I can’t help from going crazy / Thinking you might not be all alone / I wake up, I check it / I shower and I check it / I feel the buzz in my truck / And I almost wreck it / I always got it on me / Just in case you want me / So, if you’re looking for my love / Then light it up.”

Bryan credits Tursi for coming up with the line ‘I get so neurotic,’ which gave them a launching pad for the rest of the tune.

“Brad had the ‘I get so neurotic…’ and I was like well I’ve never heard neurotic in a country song. It’s funny because when we’re recording it, people asked me ‘you think that word needs to stay?’ And I’m like ‘I don’t know. It’s an interesting word,’” he explained with a laugh.

“Light It Up” is the lead single from Bryan’s upcoming album, which he teased is set to release “after Thanksgiving, but before Christmas.”

Fans will likely get to hear the new track when Luke Bryan embarks on his 2017 Farm Tour, beginning September 28. Sounds Like Nashville has your chance to attend Farm Tour by winning a pair of tickets and meet & greet passes. To enter, click HERE and fill out the form at the bottom of the page.

Listen to “Light It Up” on the Spotify playlist below.

Country Thunder Alberta 2017 in Pictures

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The second year of Country Thunder Alberta wrapped up yesterday at Prairie Winds Park In Calgary.  A near capacity crowd under sunny skies watched & listened to an impressive lineup of performers who encompassed the full range of today's country music.  From headliners Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley & Thomas Rhett to a strong supporting cast including Randy Houser, Joe Nichols, Old Dominion, Terri Clark, Road Hammers, High Valley, Dallas Smith. James Barker Band & Chase Bryant, it was a winning lineup.  Country Thunder Alberta 2018 will return with headliner Erich Church announced this weeknd with early bird tickets now on sale at CountryThunder.com 

Rodeo Country captured some shots of the weekend performances....we hope enjoy these moments from a great weekend.  See you next year!

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Brad Pasiley & Special Guest Brett Kissel 

Brad Pasiley & Special Guest Brett Kissel 

Brad Paisley

Brad Paisley

Blake Shelton 

Blake Shelton 

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Thomas Rhett

Thomas Rhett

Blake Shelton 

Blake Shelton 

Terri Clark

Terri Clark

Randy Houser

Randy Houser

High Valley

High Valley

High Valley

High Valley

Old Dominion 

Old Dominion 

Old Dominon

Old Dominon

Dallas Smith

Dallas Smith

James Barker Band 

James Barker Band 

Blake Shelton brings down curtain on Country Thunder Alberta

 

 

BY LISA WILTON, SPECIAL TO POSTMEDIA

Overcast skies didn’t put a damper on the third and final day of Country Thunder Alberta.

The second-annual festival wrapped up Sunday with about 18,000 fans making their way to Prairie Winds Park in northeast Calgary for nine-plus hours of music, culminating with a headlining set by country star and TV talent judge Blake Shelton.

Several hundred people were lined up before the gates opened at noon, with some even showing up as early as 8 a.m., to get a good spot near the stage.

Lori Hiscoe and Liesl Negraiff came from Vernon, B.C., for a ‘girls’ weekend’ and said they couldn’t have asked for a better time.

“This is my first year here,” said Negraiff.

“It’s been super relaxing. A few bevvies, some food and enjoying good friends.”

Hiscoe said she was excited to see Shelton.

“I want to see if he’s the genuine person I see on The Voice,” she explained.

“He seems so laid back … And maybe we’ll see Gwen.”

Hiscoe was, of course, referring to Shelton’s girlfriend (and Voice co-host) Gwen Stefani, who was indeed spotted standing side stage during his 90-minute set.

The 41-year-old Shelton did not disappoint his faithful fans, who stretched from the front of the stage to the top hill that separated the main viewing area from the smaller Country 105 stage concert bowl.

Starting with the anthemic Neon Light, Shelton’s chocolatey smooth vocals robustly resonated throughout the park.

He certainly isn’t the flashiest performer and there were far more energetic singers on the Country Thunder stage this weekend. But Shelton can mostly get away with his distinct lack of pizazz thanks to his easygoing demeanour and charming — if somewhat rehearsed — between-song banter.

Don’t underestimate the appeal of being the guy people want to share a beer with.

Missouri singer Chris Bandi also possesses that down-to-earth charm. He was all smiles as he kicked off the mainstage Sunday with his pop-infused country.

Ontario’s James Barker Band were most engaging when they kept to southern-style country, especially their rocking cover of The Georgia Satellites’ Keep Your Hands to Yourself. However, much of their music was indistinguishable from their modern country contemporaries, though there were some clever lyrics in the nostalgia-craving single, Throwback. And Barker’s solo cover of Corb Lund’s Truck Got Stuck was a crowd favourite.

Alberta brothers Brad and Curtis Rempel, a.k.a. High Valley, are have been gaining traction on U.S. country radio stations thanks to the catchy singles Make You Mine and She’s With Me.

As with James Barker Band, High Valley don’t exactly stand out from the hundreds of other country bands doing the same thing.

What they do have going for them is a great stage presence and a strong rapport with their audience.

While modern country has been leaning into pop music for the past several years, Old Dominion have taken it one step further into Yacht Country.

The five-piece band from Nashville are fine musicians, but their songs are dishwater dull. A shot of old-school country grit would do wonders.

On the organizational side of things, Country Thunder was a resounding success. Although each night fell a bit short of the site’s 20,000 capacity, general manager Kim Blevins was happy with the turnout.

“I said the same thing last year, I’ll say the same thing this year: the fans in Calgary are some of the best we’ve ever seen,” Blevins told Postmedia Sunday evening.

“The community has been so supportive. From the Imam at the (Baitun Nur Mosque) to the local businesses, everyone has expressed their gratitude that we’ve brought this event to their community. It’s been nothing but positive for us.”

Blevins says Country Thunder Alberta received no noise complaints over the weekend and there were no serious security or safety issues.

“It’s been very quiet,” a said.

“There were a few bumps and bruises here and there. People were enjoying rolling down that big lovely hill at the end of the night. For the most part, there have been no fights, no big issues. People are just here to have fun.”

Rhett thunders up the ranks

Rhett thunders up the ranks

There are country artists who are bigger household names, but there are few who are rising as fast through the ranks as Thomas Rhett.

Rising country star brings talented charisma to Country Thunder stage

BY LISA WILTON, SPECIAL TO POSTMEDIA

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There are country artists who are bigger household names, but there are few who are rising as fast through the ranks as Thomas Rhett.

The 27-year-old Georgia native — who headlined the second day of Country Thunder Alberta Saturday night — comes from solid country stock. His father, Rhett Akins, was the voice behind the 1996 Billboard number one, Don’t Get Me Started, but Akins Jr. really has only one foot planted in the country music genre.

As he’s explained in interviews, Rhett comes from the ‘playlist generation’, meaning he’s just as comfortable laying down a funky soul jam as he is belting out a country barnburner.

His diverse tastes seem to mirror the youthful crowd who crammed in close to the stage to see Rhett deliver a lively, pop-infused set.

Wearing a long-sleeved Kawasaki-emblazoned white sweat shirt, Rhett began his show on a more mellow note, accompanied by a soulful saxophone before ramping things up with funkier — but overly slick — numbers such as South Side and Make Me Wanna.

He may annoy country purists, but even they can’t deny he’s got charisma. Plus, he gets extra points for a rousing singalong version of Garth Brooks’ Friends in Low Places.

There was a definite chill in the air when Rhett took to the stage (“Why is it so cold in August?”, he asked at one point) but earlier in the day sunny skies and a light breeze made for perfect festival-going conditions.

Canadian country supergroup The Road Hammers set the energy bar high for the day with their boisterous set of outlaw trucker country.

Jason McCoy thanked the crowd for coming to the festival early saying, “You know what bands say, a show without an audience is just a rehearsal.”

If that’s true, then some of the earlier acts on the smaller Country 105 stage on the opposite end of the Prairie Winds Park festival site got some good practice time in.

It’s too bad more of the 18,000 people who showed up for day two didn’t stop to watch the up ’n’ coming Canadian and local bands on the stage, although later acts such as the hugely talented Trinity Bradshaw started to draw bigger crowds as the tables next to the nearby beer sales tent filled up.

Bradshaw was among very few female artists booked for this year’s Country Thunder Alberta festival.

Only two women performed on the mainstage all weekend, including Medicine Hat’s own Terri Clark. She joked about it, but it’s disappointing that with so many successful women in the genre, Country Thunder could not add a few more to their mainstage lineups.

As the biggest female name this weekend, Terri Clark more than held her own.

A veteran performer, Clark charmed the crowd with her usual entertaining banter, bringing out all the hit singles from her 30-year career.

Her voice was a little shaky on No Fear — a track she wrote with Mary Chapin Carpenter — but she was back on form for the rest of the hour-long set that featured several new numbers.

Joe Nichols, another veteran of the country music scene, also came armed with a few new tracks.

He seemed to have trouble with his in-ear monitor during his first song, What’s a Guy Gotta Do? It didn’t faze him too much though as he continued seamlessly into his next few songs, without nary a glance at his sound guy.

Nichols threw in some great covers of Tom Petty’s Runnin’ Down a Dream and The Band’s The Shape I’m In and dipped into his latest album, Never Gets Old. The record’s been getting a lot of attention recently thanks to the inclusion of his hilarious, but surprisingly good country shuffle version of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s hip hop classic Baby Got Back, which he did to the delight (and some confusion) of the Country Thunder crowd.

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By the time big-voiced Mississippi singer Randy Houser hit the stage, more than few festivalgoers were worse for wear. (Pro tip: Stay hydrated if you’re going to spend eight hours drinking outside in the sun.)

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That said, his party-ready, redneck country was a suitable soundtrack for the swaying masses, who sang along loudly to Hauser’s honky tonk hits, including They Call Me Cadillac, How Country Feels and the wholly ridiculous, Honky Tonk Badonkadonk, which was written by Hauser and became a Top 5 hit for Trace Adkins in 2005.

Country Thunder Alberta continues Sunday with headliner Blake Shelton.