Texas native and Nashville resident Nestor AnDress released his most recent album, Falling in Love back in February. Having been out on the road this summer, AnDress is gearing up to return to the studio to work on a deluxe version of the album to be released sometime later this year. Ahead of his shows in Florida, AnDress kindly took the time to talk about his current single “Drunk In A Bar,” its accompanying video, what’s ahead and more.
You were on the road to becoming a lawyer when you chose to follow your dream of making music. Was there any one thing that spurred the career change?
I had always been a poet and a writer, so when I found out I could play a melody on the guitar alright, I put them together - and I fell in love. For me being, being able to have an influence and impact on people through music is an incredibly cool thing.
And was your family supportive of the change?
Absolutely not! At first, nobody really understood what I was doing because no one in the family plays and sings. One time though, I brought my mom on stage at a rodeo to sing her a song I wrote for her called “Mama.” When she heard a bunch of strangers singing back the words I wrote for her she said, “Nestor, you’re born for this.” That was all I needed to hear.
Formed in New Zealand and currently based in Nashville, Tattletale Saints - Cy Winstanley and Vanessa McGowan - fuse jazz, harmonies, upright bass, and Americana into a sound that's as wide-ranging as it is appealing. With their self-titled sophomore album due September 2nd, the duo has added electric guitar and percussion to their sound, bringing full band arrangements to their well-crafted narratives, providing a new depth and fullness to the songs. In advance of the release, Vanessa McGowan kindly took some time to speak about their roots, the album and what’s ahead.
You and Cy met in New Zealand, played together in London and eventually settled in Nashville. That’s quite the musical journey.
Cy and I have known each other since we were sixteen. We met playing in a jazz group outside of high school in New Zealand. He then moved to London while I moved to Las Vegas to pursue a Masters in Jazz Bass. Eventually, we connected over My Space, which seems funny now, but was normal at the time. After I received my Masters, I moved to London and we started playing together in a different four-piece group, Her Make Believe Band. During that time, Cy was writing his own songs, but didn’t have an outlet, a band, for his material. So, we started Tattletale Saints about four to five years ago.
After London, we returned to New Zealand to make our first album [How Red is the Blood]. We were throwing around names of whom we wanted to produce it - we wanted someone who could capture the songwriting and Tim O’Brien came to mind, but we had little hope that he would do it. So we emailed him a show reel of us talking, playing and explaining why we’d love to work with him and he said yes. He asked us if we’d like to come to Nashville to record and we jumped at the chance. We came over in January of 2013 to record the album and along the way met friends who took us to gigs and hangs. We felt like we were in a music community with others who were on the same path and striving for the same thing as we were. So we returned to New Zealand, but felt we really needed to expand our touring and remembered the time spent in Nashville and booked a tour of the states. We started playing our music as well as playing with other people, and decided it made a lot of sense to stay. We love it here.
Having honed his sound all across the U.S. from Georgia honky-tonks and Gulf Coast joints to Nashville and Los Angeles clubs, singer-songwriter Boo Ray recently released his new studio album, Sea Of Lights. Recorded live to 2” tape at Noah Shain’s White Buffalo Studio in Los Angeles with a band anchored by Steve Ferrone (drums), Paul Ill (bass), Sol Philcox-Littlefield (guitar), Dallas Kruse (Hammond B3), Smith Curry (pedal steel), and the background vocals of twin brothers Todd and Troy Gardner, the album is a rollicking ten track collection perfect for road trips, hanging out and everything in between. Taking time from his busy schedule, Ray kindly agreed to answer a few questions about the album via email.
Prior to the recording Sea of Lights, Ray's publishing deal ran out which found him working double shifts operating a forklift when he was robbed at gun point. In addition, he experienced an automotive mechanical disaster and had to abandon his vehicle on the side of the road outside of Chattanooga.
It seems like you were having more than a run of bad luck before you got the call to record with Noah, which appears to have been something akin to divine intervention or perfect timing.
No doubt about it. That kind of timing’s not likely an accident. I can only speak for myself and say that somehow the difficulties were necessary to allow for the success.
I read that you wanted the right songs for the project, so were they some that you had around, some that were freshly written or a combination of both?
Both. I’m always writing songs for the next record and had a few of those on hand to cull through. But once Noah called I set out to write some important songs for the record. I knew what kind of songs I needed in particular and hollered at a couple of my songwriting partners to write with. Mostly we wrote straight down the page, not having a chorus to write to. The chorus showed up right about the time we got to it.
Released in November, Josh Abbott Band's Front Row Seat debuted at #1 on the all-genre Billboard Top Independent Albums Chart and at #9 on the Top Country Albums Chart. The personal and unique sixteen-track concept album, which is divided into five "acts," chronicles a relationship from its joyous beginnings to its painful dissolution, something many, including Abbott, have experienced. In a year that has seen the band touring expansively as well as performing on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Abbott graciously took the time to answer some questions via email about the album, touring and more.
Front Row Seat is a concept record, which isn’t often seen much in music. Was it something you set out to do, or something that fell into place as you gathered the songs for the album?
Fortunately, it developed during the studio process. We already recorded several of the songs from Acts 4/5, 1 from Act 1, & of course our single "Wasn't That Drunk" from Act 2. Looking at them on paper I saw how they all told a different part of a love story, that was inherently very reflective of mine and so many others. So we picked out the rest of the tunes based on if they would flow in order; not only lyrically, but sonically.
The album received national critical acclaim from outlets like Rolling Stone, EW, Noisey, NPR and more. In addition to the well-crafted songs, do you think the utterly personal and mature nature of the project contributed to the response?
First and foremost, we're very grateful for the critical acclaim we received from those outlets and many more. I do believe the personal nature of the album drew intrigue. We all want our favorite bands to write about real experiences; it provides the personality of an album. I also think it's because we've been a band for a while now and naturally we've gotten better at our craft, therefore, we recorded a better album than before. We matured on this album. I can't say enough about how great it was to work with our producer Dwight Baker. He really gets us in a way no one else has.
Being that putting yourself out there on any record can be scary, I imagine it can be even more so when the subject matter is so extremely personal. Why did you want to give people a front row seat into your personal life?
Most of our fans already knew I had recently gone through a divorce. They were almost waiting for the songs that would transpire because of it. There's a couple of songs that didn't make the album because they were too personal at the time but I felt okay in releasing the realness behind what we chose for Acts 4/5.
Recently nominated for the IMEA Country Female Artist of the Year and Country Song of the Year for her single, "Take My Hand," country newcomer Katie Perkins is blazing her own trail on the country music scene. Classically trained in voice, the singer-songwriter, and Connecticut native, blends country and pop in songs that focus on impactful storytelling. Recently, Perkins graciously called to talk about her roots, "Take My Hand" and more.
Your interest in music goes back to a very early age.
I’ve been singing pretty much ever since I could talk. I performed in my first talent show, which was also the first time I performed in front of an audience, when I was ten or eleven. And as soon as I walked off the stage I knew that music was what I wanted to do with my life - and the story kind of writes itself from there.
Ever since then music has been my top priority in life. I wanted to be a well-rounded musician, so I started taking voice lessons at thirteen, took music theory in high school and went onto college to study at Berklee.
Prior to heading to Berklee, you had a health scare. How did that impact the pursuit of your dream of music?
That definitely impacted my life. Music was always important, but I didn’t realize how important until all of this happened. One night when I was fifteen, I was hyperventilating and couldn’t stop. My mom took me to the emergency room where they did an EKG which found a hole in my heart. I was told I needed open heart surgery and if I didn’t have it, I could die from a heart attack or stroke in thirteen years - if I made it that long. That was a lot for me to take in, but even as he was telling me I needed surgery, the first thing that came to mind was that I was going to need to have a tube down my throat and if it hit my vocal chords in the wrong way I may never be able to sing again. I made the doctors promise that they would do whatever it took to ensure that I could wake up and sing again - because I would rather sing for the next thirteen years than never sing at all. It took a lot of thinking, but they used the smallest breathing tube they possibly could and said as long as I could respond to commands in the recovery room, they would take the breathing tube out - which is unheard of. I had the surgery, which was successful, and now, part of me feels like because it was found so randomly, that I was saved for a reason. It made me realize even more that music was what I needed to be doing and what I needed to fight for.
Named one of Spotify’s Spotlight on 2016 Country Artists, Dylan Scott has been garnering the attention of country fans with his singles “Makin’ This Boy Go Crazy” and “Crazy Over Me." On August 12th, Scott released his self-titled debut album which contains thirteen tracks including the popular single, "My Girl." In the midst of a whirlwind couple of weeks which included a performance on the Grand Ole Opry, Scott kindly answered a few questions via email about the album, touring and more.
Country music was part of your upbringing, but your music also showcases a wide variety of styles. Who do you look to as influences, in country and beyond?
Keith Whitley was my Elvis you could say, but at the same time I grew up listening to everything!! Maroon Five, Lil Wayne, Usher, Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, etc.
Your new album released August 12th, did you have a hand in writing the songs? And if there are ones that you did not write, what drew you to them?
I wrote a little over half the album. [The ones I didn't write] just spoke to me. I heard them and immediately related, and knew I wanted to record them.
A seasoned songwriter with nine albums to his name, Sean McConnell has gained a devoted following with his distinctive vocals and vividly told, emotionally charged songs. With his latest self-titled release - which recently debuted on the Americana charts - receiving accolades, McConnell is now poised to reach an even broader audience. While on tour, he kindly called from the road to talk about the album, its personal nature and more.
Having heard a few of these songs live and acoustic prior to hearing the album, I noticed you kept the production understated & focused on the lyrics and your voice as the main instrument. Was that intentional?
It really was. I feel like these songs are very simple, honest and understated and I wanted the production to reflect that.
It very much does.
Ten albums in, what if anything did you do differently with this album from your previous releases?
Every time I make a record, I go in wanting to make the best record I possibly can, so I didn’t have a majorly different mindset. I think every record is different in its own right because of the collection of songs. This record is the most autobiographical collection I have ever put out there, so the nature of the content led the way for it being a little different than the previous records.
You have written with so many other people, yet everything on this record is a solo write.
I have a handful of co-writes across the ten records, but the albums I end up putting out are generally songs I write by myself, although every once in a while, there’s an exception.
Held in Challis, Idaho in August, the Braun Brothers Reunion is three days of music featuring esteemed artists from the Texas, Americana, and Red Dirt music communities. This year, the BBR will be held from August 11-13th and will feature sixteen plus artists, including Reckless Kelly. In the final of our series highlighting some of the featured artists, Cody Braun talks about the festival including early memories, how it's grown and what makes it special.
Your parents [Muzzie and JoAnn Braun] have been hosting the BBR for almost forty years now. Do you recall any early moments?
We've been on stage doing something pretty much since we could stand. Willy always had a knack for it and liked being front and center, while I played fiddle and kind of hid behind my Dad for the first few years.
I remember Willy and me on stage in Stanley, in the early 80’s. Dad was running a bar that had a big open dance hall, which is where we had the two to three-day event. Willy and I got up and sang “Dreams” by the Everly Brothers with my dad and uncle’s band, The Syndicate. We sang at the reunions as kids, and in 1995 we played as the Prairie Mutts before doing it as Reckless Kelly.
How has it changed for you over the years?
Well, it really did start as a musical family reunion, so initially it was much smaller. We had maybe 500-1000 people in Stanley where we basically had a flatbed trailer set up with my family and their bands along with other vocal groups. So it started out very grassroots, and mostly just for fun, and changed so that it’s now a legitimate festival. We have twenty acts from all over the country and 3000 people a day for three days. As it's gotten bigger it's more of a business, but it’s still really fun and really holds that small town family feel.
"If you cut my veins music is going to pour out of them. It’s who I am to the core and I think the fact that I can say truly, with heart and hand to the Bible, that if tomorrow I wake up and it’s all gone, I am going to be happy. I’m going to be thankful and say what a hell of a ride that was." ~ Cody Johnson
Already well-known in the Texas community, Cody Johnson made national attention when his 2014 album Cowboy Like Me bowed at #7 on the Billboard Country Charts. On August 5th, Johnson will undoubtedly make a bigger splash with his highly anticipated follow-up, Gotta Be Me. In advance of the album, Johnson graciously called to talk about his roots, the album and much more.
Many people, particularly in Texas, know your music and story, many others are new to you. While you have been pursuing music for years now, your official music education began in the church. How so?
My family is a very musical one, in fact on the Johnson side of the family, and my mom’s too, if you trace back the lineage you will find musicians going back maybe five or six generations. My mom, she's a good woman, she kept my Dad, brother and myself in church, where my parents, both of whom have some of the most incredible voices I have ever heard, would sing. It was at church where I got to try out and cut my teeth on drums, piano, and bass. And then it was the house, with family there at Christmastime, where I would have my first audience. I would sing and play a few songs and the ten to fifteen people there would listen and clap at every song I sang.
I didn’t have a lot of formal musical education, though, it was all by ear, which is how I learned to tune a guitar and work on the melodic structure of songs. And I think that’s due to my mom and dad who wouldn’t let me sing lead until I sang all of the other parts, which helped hone my ear.
In addition to the music in church, you were also influenced by what you heard at home and what you heard in the honky tonks across the lake from where you grew up.
I was raised on the belief that nothing good happens after midnight, and was told to stay out of those bars because that’s when the devil gets you. Still, I was always curious about what went on in those honky tonks….and fast forward to me now looking back and you know, I’m not so dang curious anymore (laughing). I know it’s mostly bad, so I got out as fast as I got in.
I heard the music that was played there, but my mom and dad always listened to country music especially the guys that could sing well - Glen Campbell on cassette was one of the first voices I ever heard. And I wanted to sound like that. I wanted to sound like Merle Haggard when he sang “That’s the Way Love Goes” and songs like that. I had a love for country music that was unexplainable and no matter what else I‘d done in life, it’s always been at the forefront. If I’m mad, sad, or glad you will always see me with pen and paper writing. Music has been an emotional outlet, a way to pay the bills, kind of a curse sometimes, but man what a blessing it's been most of all.
Originally from East Tennessee, singer-songwriter Mitch Rossell moved to Nashville in 2010 and has been perfecting his craft writing and performing ever since. Rossell recently debuted his new album, Raised By The Radio, a collection of eight cleverly written, heartfelt and relatable tunes. On a break from supporting Garth Brooks, where he has been easily garnering new fans nightly, Rossell took the time to talk about the new album, working with Brooks and what's ahead.
In late July, you released your new album, Raised By The Radio. Were all of the songs for this record written since your last record or were there older ones as well?
They were pretty much all written in that time frame. Over the past few years, I feel like I took a big step forward in my writing; I came into my own space and found out who I was. I tried to write quality songs whether they were fun, sad, chill or whatever. Out of all of the songs I wrote and chose for this record, I tried to pick what flowed best and made the best album possible instead of a bunch of singles. I wanted to make a record you could just play, enjoying the entire thing as it took you on a journey.
The writing is real storytelling but done in often clever ways. If someone looks at a title, they might think it plays out one way, but when they listen, it’s something totally unexpected.
I grew up on 90’s country where, when you got to the hook, you just wondered, “How did they do that?” I take writing very seriously and in mine, I try to write something that provokes thought. There can sometimes be a pitfall when writing clever hooks though because you can forget you’re writing something you want people to feel - you don’t want a song to be so clever that the emotion is taken out of it. The goal then, for me, is to find the marriage between a song that people can relate to while at the same time, saying, “Man, this is really clever.”