Country newcomer Drew Baldridge will release his full-length debut album, Dirt On Us, on June 10th. While the first single from the project, "Dance With Ya" is climbing the charts, Baldridge is gearing up for a busy summer that includes stops at CMA Fest and the Grand Ole Opry. In advance of the release, Baldridge kindly took the time to talk about the record, making his Opry debut and more.
Congrats on being named One to Watch by numerous publications as well as one of CMT’s Listen Up Artists. Are the accolades pleasantly surprising?
They are very pleasant surprises. They really make me want to put out the best music I can because I want to make sure that all of those publications were right about me!
You know, I moved to Nashville five years ago and have been working really hard, so finally being able to see the fruits of the labor is very, very exciting and very humbling. I definitely feel I am on the right path and feel very blessed.
Previously, you released a few EPs, so why was now the right time to put out a full-length record?
It was the right time because I actually have a record deal and I finally have the music - that really tells who I am - for a full-length project. I wanted to make a diverse record that shows that I’m not just this guy who dances around onstage all the time; I wanted it to have depth too. There’s music on here that is a bit different for country music – it’s what I like to call “funktry” - but I always go back to my roots, especially in songs like “Tractors Don’t Roll”, “Dirt On Us” and “Town The World Forgot” that explain where, and how, I grew up. I’ve been working really, really hard to make sure this record is perfect for my fans, and I think we nailed it.
One year out from the release of their critically acclaimed Me Oh My, North Carolina’s The Honeycutters returned with a brand new album, On The Ropes, on May 20th. Produced by Amanda Anne Platt and Tim Surrett, the album finds the quintet embracing their country roots on the thirteen song project that deals with trials, persistence, love, and self-awareness. Principal songwriter and front woman Amanda Anne Platt graciously took the time to talk about the album, the stories behind the songs and more.
Congratulations on the release of On The Ropes. Most artists don’t release an album so soon after their previous record, what spurred you to make another so quickly?
I think we would have done that all along if we would have had the backing [The Honeycutters were signed to Organic Records in 2015]. We recorded Me Oh My in 2013, but it wasn’t released until 2015 and by then I was ready to get back in the studio. I know some songwriters buckle down before they make an album, but I write all the time; I feel like it’s something I can’t turn off. And even though On The Ropes just came out, I’m already excited about two albums from now.
Being such a prolific songwriter, were all of the songs written within this year?
Most of them were, except “Piece of Heaven” and “Back Row,” which were both written around 2008-2009. It’s a funny thing, you get excited about a song and think you have to put it on a record and then after some time are like, “Well, maybe not.” They finally made it to the band this time and fit nicely on this record.
Jeff Slate and his all-star band – featuring musicians who have played with some of the greatest roots rockers of all time – return to Hill Country Live! with an evening of stellar music, celebrating Bob Dylan's 75th Birthday Bash, this Friday, May 20th. In advance of the show, Slate kindly took the time to talk about his musical journey, his new record and more.
Over your career, you have played in various bands from punk to rock and roll and now weave in an Americana feel in your solo projects. Where does such a diversity originate from?
I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s with older siblings, so my house was always full of music. We listened to anything from Sinatra and Dean Martin to Merle Haggard and Buck Owens to The Clash and Bowie. My brother in law was a session musician so he had to learn the Platters and the Spinners, so we listened to those 45’s as well. So really as a young person growing up, I didn’t discern labels, I just liked what I liked. When I started my first professional band around 1984-1985, the music we played was very influenced by the British invasion: The Who, The Clash, and Small Faces. We also were influenced by the American wordsmiths like Kristofferson and Cash, but when you’re seventeen and in a band you just want to turn it up and play.
I moved to New York for college and in the 90’s had some luck catching the attention of some people; I did some demos for Pete Townsend and opened for Sheryl Crow. I had a moment where everything seemed to be going right but then, like for many people, it didn’t. There were a lot of meetings with labels and it ultimately didn’t happen and part of that was my taste. The thing I wanted to do as an artist wasn’t being Nirvana or Oasis. Then in the 90’s I was in The Badge and we had a pretty successful run in Europe and Japan, but that ran its course and in 2010 I started making solo music. As I’ve gotten older, and so has the audience, there is a more mature sensibility; music is not just about three chords, a guitar, and the truth anymore. You want to say something and reach a broader audience who can identify with what you’re singing about. That led me back to Dylan, Cash, Kristofferson and Haggard as well as The Clash and The Beatles. Those are people who are hugely influential in my life; they have a point of view and something to say. They aren’t afraid to take risks.
Since releasing their 2014 debut album, Baby LA, Steven James and the Jaded have been working non-stop. Touring all over Texas, they are building a solid fan base while breaking into the Top 40 on the charts with their debut single, "Weak In The Knees." In anticipation of their new single and upcoming album, frontman Steven James took the time to talk about his rock roots, "Texas Girls," and more.
You have been pursuing music since you were quite young, in various bands, before finally fronting your own.
I grew up in Houston and started playing guitar when I was twelve. At thirteen, my parents were driving me around and chaperoning me while I was playing gigs in clubs. Throughout college and beyond, I played in a lot of rock bands. I spent eight or nine years playing in Austin while I also had a day job as a newspaper reporter. About two years ago I was in a rock band that was getting popular and about to be on the radio, when – and I know this is a familiar story – the guys went separate ways and the band fell apart. That was the fourth time that happened to me, so I just decided to go solo under my own name because I knew that I would never quit myself. And when I did that, things started taking off.
Born and raised in Texas, Amanda Rosser knew from a young age that she wanted to be a singer-songwriter. Now nineteen years old, she recently released her debut single, "Looking For A Man." The young songstress kindly took the time to talk about her roots, the single, empowering young girls and more.
Being that your music is new to a lot of people, can you give a little background as to when you started singing, playing guitar and pursuing music?
I was born and raised on the outskirts of Houston, where we have a ranch. I started singing in talent shows when I was five and did that through high school. I grew up listening to country music; my mom loved Garth Brooks and my uncle was a huge George Strait fan and I knew that music was something that I wanted to pursue - it’s where my heart is. I learned to play guitar when I was twelve and the songwriting just came after that, which was right around the time Taylor Swift came out. I knew I wanted to be just like her so I started going to songwriting meetings and studying with my vocal coach, Tom McKinney. A year ago I left school and have been pursuing music relentlessly ever since.
Cody Canada & The Departed, Ray Benson, Kyle Park and William Clark Green recently added to the lineup!
On Sunday, May 15th, the 8th Annual Reckless Kelly Celebrity Softball Jam will take place at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas. The family friendly event bridges the worlds of music and sports as Reckless Kelly, their family, friends and fans enjoy an afternoon of “athleticism optional” softball followed by six hours of music in the outfield. This year’s event features, among others, Wade Bowen, Cory Morrow, Jamie Lin Wilson and Shinyribs, and will benefit various youth sports programs in Central Texas as well as the SIMS Foundation. In advance of the Jam, Cody Braun graciously took some time to talk about the day, the great organizations it supports and of course, who to put your money on to win it, his Sultans of Sing or brother Willy’s One Hit Wonders.
2016 marks the 8th year of the Jam which is pretty significant when some events don’t last past two or three years. Did you envision this as a yearly event when you guys started it?
Well, we were definitely going to try to do it for a couple of years and see if we could make it work, but the first year we had 6000 people attend. It was a huge success - which I don’t think we envisioned right from the get go - and every year after, it has gotten better and continues to be successful, which is great.
The Jam merges the worlds of sports and music in a very family friendly atmosphere. Was having a day that families could enjoy together something that was important to you when you founded it?
Yeah, it really was. You know we, and our musician friends, spend so much time on the road away from our families, that to be able to have an event where everyone can come to spend the whole day, play some baseball, play music in the outfield and have kids come down on the field and run around is great. It all really ties in incredibly well and makes it a fun event for the artists and the fans. It’s such a great way to give back to the community and have a lot of fun doing it.
Hearing the words of Townes Van Zandt’s “To Live Is To Fly”, and Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Getting By” were defining moments in Aaron Einhouse's life. It was those songs that truly spoke to him and helped him realize his calling as a singer-songwriter. After playing Cheatham Street Warehouse on mulitple occasions, the late Kent Finlay encouraged Einhouse to pursue songwriting, which he did, being embraced by such luminaries as Walt Wilkins and Hal Ketchum along the way. On May 13th, he will release his new record, It Ain't Pretty, which finds the troubadour further refining his sound on ten well-crafted tunes. In advance of its release, Einhouse kindly took some time to talk about the new record, the duality of a musician's life and more.
It Ain't Pretty was successfully funded via Kickstarter. Had you taken that route with any of your other records?
No, this was the first time I had done a Kickstarter and it was nerve-wracking! I was worried about making the goal, which I did, but by the skin of my teeth!
One of the really neat things about doing a Kickstarter though is that it gives you a direct feeling for how people appreciate you, the music and the sacrifices you make. It’s cool for them to see the time and effort that goes into making a record and have them support it. You get that on a certain level when people say, “Keep it up” or “Great record,” but it’s such an amazing thing when people support you like this. It’s a little bit more visceral than a pat on the back.
I totally get that.
As compared to your previous albums, It Ain’t Pretty seems to have an edge, with a real energy pulsing through it. Do you think that's the case?
Absolutely. I think there are a lot of twists and turns with an emotional drive and a general energy that I think starts off with “Dancin’”. That song really sets the tone for the album because it’s so up-tempo and toe tappy that it’s hard not to feel excited listening to it. It’s one of my favorite songs on the record partly because it’s just so different from what I’ve done before, but also because it’s something that whether people listen to the lyrics or not there’s just this kind of unintentional response; it rises and falls with energy and keeps you moving.
After a trying year personally and professionally, Sarah Peacock returns with her new album, Dream On. The album, an acoustic collection of ten inspiring songs, is Sarah’s testimony, weaving awakening, strength and purpose that trace her path and detours along the way. In advance of the release, Peacock kindly took the time to talk about her journey, the album and more.
The album is said to be inspired by an encounter with rock bottom. Can you elaborate on that?
First of all, gratitude is the attitude. But last fall I did Kickstarter for a new studio album that I was going to make in Nashville. We ended up raising $29.3K of our goal of $35K in thirty days which was just a huge outpouring of love from the fans, but we ultimately did not make the goal. I appreciate so much that the fans supported me and were behind me, but I was also disappointed. So I went back to the drawing board and unplugged for a little bit to reevaluate what was going on with me and my music, where I was going and whether this was the right thing for me to do.