After their debut into the Texas Country scene three years ago with the EP Worrying Kind, the Hunter Rea Band - Hunter Glaske (Vocals, Guitar), Adam Rea (Drums). John Allen Davidson (Bass), and Mason Hightower (Guitar) - is back with their first full-length album, Lovin’ Ain’t Free. This new project features eleven tracks that highlight the band's honest songwriting and unique sound of bluesy country. Recently, Hunter Glaske took some time to call and speak about the band's roots, the new album, and more.
Congratulations on the release of your first full-length album, Lovin’ Ain’t Free, which came out on July 7th. How did you all initially come together?
We got together in college. Adam and I played football together for two years, and when we called it quits with that we were like, ‘What’s next?’ We both played music, so we began playing parties here and there, and eventually, we decided we wanted to start a band. It was at that point we brought on John Allen. We played as a threesome for almost four years and then Mason joined us. We released Worrying Kind in 2012 and put out our first LP, Lovin Ain’t Free, a few weeks ago. We always wanted to put out a full album, and now we finally got to that moment. We’re excited to take it all in and see what people think about it.
The album draws on a variety of influences from Country, Rock, and the Blues.
We come from an assortment of different backgrounds. John comes from traditional country, Adam is a rocker, and I come from a conglomerate of genres. In the beginning, I was not a good singer at all, which I prove to people when I play them my recordings from freshman year in college (laughing), but the voice truly is a muscle and if you can hear music you can teach yourself to do anything.
As this is your first full-length, did you approach it any differently than you did the EP?
We decided to do an album for a couple of reasons. One of them being that the guys that we talk to, like Josh Abbott, have given us advice, and the other being that I don’t like to save music for the next time. I feel like with each song and album you get the opportunity to craft a sound and hone in on something that’s unique to you. That can be a daunting thing because there’s so much music out there, you can easily get lost in a box and slide into whatever is popular, but I think making a full-length album helped us develop our sound and hone in on who we are as a band.
Since the release of her self-titled EP in 2014, Sandra Lynn has been on the road opening for Kenny Chesney, Kenny Rogers, Josh Thompson, and Jana Kramer. Her singles “Afterparty” and “Bar Hoppin’” could be heard on Sirius XM, and the music video for “You Belong” was featured CMT, GAC, and the Country Network. Lynn, who is gearing up for the release of a new album, recently premiering the upcoming project’s first single, “Hey California” on Radio Disney Country and kindly took some time to chat about the single, its upcoming video, and more.
We last spoke in 2014 with the release of “You Belong’,” what have you been up to since then?
Well, I released my debut EP which was produced by Jay DeMarcus and saw my singles, “Afterparty” and “Bar Hoppin,” get play on Sirius XM’s The Highway. I did some touring, and when I came off the road, I dove into writing with different people in Nashville and L.A. I’ve been taking my time working on the songs that will be on my debut full-length album which will be released later this year.
And the first single from that project, “Hey California,” recently premiered on Radio Disney.
I co-wrote "Hey California" with my producer Dave Brainard [Brandy Clark]. When we sat down to write, we just clicked. I really wanted to write something that would be fun for Summer, but also give a nod to my Southern California roots all while having a Beach Boys vibe because they were some of the first records I remember my parents playing as a child, especially Endless Summer.
One listen to Josh Ward, and you'll instantly be reminded of the country greats of the 80's and 90's. The Houston native and country music traditionalist has seen an unprecedented seven consecutive #1's in Texas over the last two albums, four of those off his latest, Holding Me Together, with his new single "Change My Mind" quickly ascending the TRRR Chart in hopes of being number eight. In advance of a busy summer, which includes a West Coast tour with buddy Cody Johnson, Ward kindly called to talk about his roots, success, and more.
Similarly to Chris LeDoux and Cody Johnson you had a career in rodeo before changing direction to pursue music. How did you progress from that path to where you are now?
I’ve loved music from a very young age, and it has always been a part of my life. Even when I rode bucking horses, there was never a time when I wasn’t playing music for myself and my friends. When I finally decided I wanted to do music, I kicked the tires and lit the fires - played with a of couple bands, put my own together, hit the road, and here we are fifteen years later. I always said when I was younger I wanted to be that cowboy, but somewhere along the way I smartened up (laughing).
Well, it seems like you made a good decision! Your sound is very traditional, is that the type of music you were exposed to or drawn to from an early age?
I was raised on the greats - Haggard, Jones, Whitley – and they owned me. I'm not trying to copy what they did, but they were influential on me, and that’s the vein I fell into. It’s funny, I’ve been doing this for many years, and it was tough trying to get in the main scene, so I played bars and beer joints until people started taking notice of me. It was hard, but as Barbara Mandrell said, 'I was country when country wasn’t cool.' I was living that then, and now, we're seeing a turn-around where country is cool again, and I’m happy to be a part of that.
With seven consecutive singles from two albums, I'd say you definitely fall into the cool category. Do you feel that the success that you’ve encountered has been a whirlwind of sorts?
The ride to the success I’ve had, it’s been a blur, but I just keep my head down and go to work. It’s one of those things where I look at the numbers, as far as the #1’s, and it’s awesome. I honestly never thought in a million years I’d have one #1, much less seven of them. I have a great radio promoter, but we never had a huge record push, so to have all of this happen at a grass roots level is incredible. I appreciate being noticed and having people think I’m good enough to run up the charts, but at the end of the day the numbers don’t matter as long as the fans are there and they’re digging and loving on our music.
I really think a lot of our success we’ve had has to do with song selection. For me, it’s not just put a song on a record because it’s there to fill the #5 spot. I’ve always tried to put songs on a record that mean something or move me. If it makes me feel, I think it might do the same to a person who is listening. That’s the way I pick songs. I’m not going to pick it just because it sounds cool and that’s what’s in, or what everybody else is doing right now. I like to pick songs with substance. And if it’s a great song it needs to be heard.
Singing together for decades, Rhonda Vincent and Daryle Singletary join forces on the all-duet project, American Grandstand, which was released July 7th. The twelve song set contains both new songs, as well as wonderfully done renditions of traditional country duets such as “Can’t Live Life” and “Golden Ring,” that remind the listener of the great pairings of decades ago. A few days before its release, Rhonda Vincent graciously took the time to talk about the record, the need for traditional country, and more.
Daryle and yourself are friends who have sung together before, but this is your first album of duets together. What was the impetus to record this project?
Daryle is one of the greatest singers, and I love getting to sing with him whenever I have the opportunity. We have sung together quite often to the point where if we would both be somewhere people would always ask if we would sing a duet. It got to be tradition, or expectation, so we started talking about how much we did love singing together and thought about doing an all duet project. In music today, there may be a duet sung here or there, but I don’t think anyone is doing anything like this or has done anything like this, in years. I think this album fills a void and we’re really thrilled to get to do that.
Was it a long-time planning or did the two of you decide to do it and then the album came together quickly?
I’d say the record came together in the course of the last nine months to a year. Once we decided to do it, we put it into play and worked every waking moment on it. Daryle and I are polar opposites in the sense that my kids are grown and married, and Daryle has four small children under the age of six, so the challenge became about finding a time when we could be in the studio together. Daryle took one afternoon and began singing on his own, but soon called saying making the record that way was not going to work. When two people sing together, there is a whole different dynamic than if they recorded their parts separately, and as soon as we got in there together, it sparked something incredible. Recording together brought this entirely different vocal dynamic to the entire project; we challenged one another and gave one another new ideas and inspiration. We had fun doing all of these vocal acrobatics to the point where the engineer said, ‘Ok great, now that we got that over with, let’s get back to singing’ because we just went crazy singing every line out of the ordinary (laughing)! We had a great time and every time I sing with Daryle, it’s equally as fun. I just love it.
Hailing from Ontario, singer-songwriter Jacqui Verellen began singing at the age of five, and since then has won over 75 different vocal, acting, choral, dance and songwriting competitions. From a young age, Jacqueline has had a passion for music, spending time after school dabbling by ear, learning various instruments and taking any opportunity to enjoy it.
Operatically trained, Jacqui earned a degree in Opera Performance from the University of Western Ontario. She has played many Theatrical Canadian roles such as Fantine in Les Mis, Belle in Beauty and the Beast, and most recently Cinderella in Into the Woods. Now, Jacqui is ready to make her mark on the music world with the release of her debut single, "Home Is Home," a song that stresses the importance of home and family. Recently, Jacqui took some time to answer a few questions via email about her roots, "Home Is Home," and more.
It seems like you knew from an incredibly young age that you had a passion for music and wanted to pursue it professionally.
Yes! It came very naturally. It wasn't like anyone suggested I should sing or anyone told me I had to practice, I just really, REALLY loved it. I always wanted to perform, and when I couldn't, I'd just pretend to on my front porch. I think that was God's way of letting me know it was for me, because looking back, I remember myself as a little girl, and I say 'Yes. It's definitely what I've always had in my heart.' Whenever I have tough times, that sort of thought keeps me going strong!
You play various musical instruments including guitar, piano, ukulele, and flute. Did you begin writing at an early age as well?
Yes, I did. My parents have stored a bin of hundreds of songs I wrote at home. I found it really fun, (although wanted no one to ever see them,) and wrote about everything from crushes to life, to my view as a young girl. I think that practice that I did for fun, helped me to become a successful writer now.
That's wonderful they kept them!
What types of music were you exposed to as a child?
I was exposed to everything! Country, Classic Rock; I studied opera and theater, sang pop and jazz and everything else! I think that's why when you listen to my song, it's definitely country, but it has this blended indie feel too. I'm very happy about that, even though I used to be worried about it. I've realized being 100% me is the best way to make real honest music, and it's not a weakness, but rather adds a touch of individuality!
Being that you are operatically trained, what made you gravitate to country music?
I think again this was natural; I always wrote country songs while studying classic voice, it was the weirdest thing! I also love how relaxed and at home I felt singing country in comparison to feeling so technical with opera. The opera world is so (no offense) uptight! It all had to be so perfect and I wanna be able to stop worrying about technicalities and singing other people's music, and just write, in English, what I feel, and sing it exactly how I want to, with no rules! My voice has always been a little rough around the edges, and I want to be able to forgive myself for that and accept myself fully, and country 100% allows me to say, 'This is me, this is how I feel and how I sound and darn it I love it!' Not to say I don't work on improving my voice still, but I have no worries when something isn't cookie cutter, because it's just a part of me that makes my country music better and interesting!
Based in Georgia, Southern Folk artist, Jefferson Ross, is a singer-songwriter-guitarist who blends the intimacy of a house concert with a live recording on his latest, Live at Hillbilly Haiku. The incredibly warm collection of fourteen songs includes old favorites, as well as two new tracks, that will have the listener experiencing a range of emotions from laughter to tears. Recently, Ross took the time to check in and speak about the album and more.
You have released four albums throughout your career, is this your first live recording?
This is my first live album, yes. I made a number of records with different levels of production, but my live show is basically me sitting on a stool, playing my guitar, and singing my songs. People often told me they would like to hear that on a record, so I thought why not do it.
Is there a significance to the title, Hillbilly Haiku?
Hillbilly Haiku is a house concert series outside of Nashville run by Denise and Rick Williams. They’ve booked me a few times through the years, and we got to be friends, so I thought doing it there would be a nicely contained way to make a live record. We had a nice group of attentive, warm people present in a really intimate setting.
How did you choose which songs to include on the record?
Whether you play by yourself or with a band, shows evolve, and songs fall out and come back, so this record is a window, a snapshot, of what I’m doing live now.
When East Nashvillian (via Idaho) singer-songwriter Korby Lenker began working on his latest album, he decided to skip the studio and head to his home state to record in places that held particular meaning for him. Venturing forth with his guitar and some recording gear, Lenker captured his vocals and guitar in more than a dozen locales before spending months traveling the country to collect contributions from artists such as Nora Jane Struthers, Carrie Elkin, Molly Tuttle, Becky Warren and the Punch Brothers’ Chris “Critter” Eldridge, among others. From Wisconsin and Seattle to Boston and Austin, he recorded their work in backyards, hotel rooms - even a bookstore - culminating with the release of his intimate and serene seventh album, Thousand Springs. In advance of the album's release on July 14th, Lenker took the time to talk in depth about the project.
Thousand Springs was recorded in a pretty unique manner. Why’ did you opt to skip the studio and return to Idaho and other places to record it?
I’ve been in Nashville for eleven years, and I love it, but at this point in my career, I wanted to make a record of songs about things that are personally important to me in a way that I wanted to hear them. I knew that I wasn’t going to do the traditional studio thing, so I decided to record in Idaho where I first started playing. I raised money on Kickstarter, bought some gear and a high-end battery, and drove to Idaho where I set up my kit in all these different places. I recorded at Craters of the Moon, my dad’s mortuary...really all over the place. The only place that had significance to me that I couldn’t gain access to was my childhood home. I did knock on the door, but no one answered, so that’s something for the next record.
Was each of the twelve tracks recorded in a different location?
There might have been one or two songs that were recorded in the same spot, but I was in a different place most of the time, and a lot of it was experimenting. I had two acoustic guitars, a Gibson and a Martin, both of which have their own flavors, and I would record things in different ways, listen to them later, and choose one direction or another to build on.
Previously one-half of the successful sister duo, The Pierces, Allison Pierce steps into her own with her first solo project, Year of the Rabbit, which was released this past May. Pierce has said the twelve song collection, all of which she wrote or co-wrote “…feels like the most important creative outpouring of my life so far….and the most genuine expression of who I am, musically and personally.” Currently, on tour, Pierce was recently in NYC to play City Winery and graciously took some time before her show to talk about the album and more.
After successfully collaborating with your sister as The Pierces, what spurred you to take a break when you did and pursue this solo project?
We had each wanted to explore doing solo projects, and after the Pierce’s fifth record cycle, we just needed something new. I had to figure out how I was going to go forward, but it didn’t end up taking long. I called my old friend Ethan Johns [Ryan Adams] who I had become friends with while my sister and I were making our first record in Nashville. Many years ago, we had discussed making a record together, so I asked if he was still interested; he said absolutely, and within three months we made a record.
Being this is your first solo project, did you approach things differently than if it was a Pierces’ record?
It’s very different from our last record. I had fun playing this other role with the Pierces, who were essentially very melodic, polished Pop-Folk, but this record is always who I was deep down. Although I draw from a broad range of influences from Prince and Michael Jackson to Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, I always wanted this record to be like Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.