Striking Matches, the duo comprised of Sarah Zimmermann and Justin Davis, had a huge 2013. And if the start of 2014 is any indication, they are in for another amazing year. The duo recently played the C2C Festival in England and Ireland. In addition, they officially signed to I.R.S. Nashville, becoming members of the Capitol Records family. They graciously took the time to speak with us about playing overseas, their upcoming album and having their music featured on the television show Nashville.
You recently returned from a trip overseas where you played the Country 2 Country festival. Talk about that experience.
SZ: It was incredible! We did the CMA Songwriters Series with Martina [McBride], Brett James and Bob DiPiero, which was so cool. We had done songwriter's rounds before, but not with such an illustrious group of people. We sat right next to Martina which meant we had to follow her six times! She is someone I had looked up to forever, which made the experience so cool.
JD: I don't know how they decided to put it in that order 'yeah let's put the new kids on the end and have them come after Martina' (laughing), but we did our very best!
We also played two other shows at the o2 on their pop up stages, which are smaller side stages. It reminded us a bit of how CMA Fest works with the big events happening [at LP Field] and the smaller stages that are set up throughout town. We hoped the reception would be a warm one, but we were blown away by how many people were there and how into the music they were. One of the shows was in a wide open walking area, and I think security had to turn people away because so many people gathered around. It was crazy! We didn’t want to leave. Everyone was so incredible to us.
Last fall it was announced that you would be the first artists signed to the newly launched label I.R.S. Nashville. Did things recently become official?
SZ: Yes! Yesterday [March 20th] we officially signed at the Country Music Hall of Fame, a place that we love.
JD: The Capitol folks were in town and they held an event at the Country Music Hall of Fame. When it was our turn to play some songs, they decided we couldn't play until we signed the contract. So we signed it in front of everybody, which was really so cool. It was great to finally officially get to this point. It was a true ABC Nashville moment (laughingly).
Will there be an album this year?
JD: A record has been a dream of ours for a very long time. We have been working on pre-production and are counting on the record being a 2014 release. We are very, very fortunate to be working with T Bone Burnett, who is producing the record. If someone had asked us a year ago who would be our dream producer, we probably would have laughingly said him knowing that it would probably never happen.
SZ: Our manager [John Grady] and T Bone have known one another forever. Coincidentally, we had some songs on the first season of [the television show] Nashville, which T Bone was producing, so he knew of us. He heard that we would be making an album and he wanted to be the one producing it.
Being songwriters, how involved will you be in writing for the record?
JD: We have all of the songs for the record and they are all ones we have written. There are some songs that we have been playing out for a time and some people have never heard. We are songwriters so it's very important to us to have our songs on the record, as we have things to say. Of course, there is always the case of finding a song that is written by someone else that connects with and is special to us. We wouldn’t cut a song by someone else just because we didn't write it. If we think a song is important and the right song came along, then we would cut it.
Will you be playing on the album as well?
SZ: Yes! We well be doing all of the guitar and mandolin playing. We will probably have bass and drums and do everything else ourselves.
JD: However, this being a T Bone Burnett record too, there might be interesting things to come.
You continue to have many of your songs featured on the television show Nashville.
SZ: We have had a total of six songs featured on the show! We never have written for the show; they have always been our songs that found their way onto the show. There are definitely a couple of songs that have been on the show that are keepers for our record for sure.
A few weeks back you appeared in a scene on Nashville playing in a band on the show. How was that?
SZ: It was very cool!! We had two of our songs on that episode and Buddy Miller called us to ask if we would want to play guitar and mandolin. He said 'they're your songs; let's get you guys on there.' It was two days of filming music scenes, which was a really cool experience.
JD: It was kind of bizarre too when I watched the episode. Right after the commercial, you could hear the music first before they cut to shot and I thought 'why do I know that' then 'oh because it's me playing, that's why I know that!'
So, is acting in your future?
SZ: We realized that after the thirteen hour days filming that acting is not in our future (laughing).
JD: We know that our strong points are songwriting and performing.
Over the past year, you have become quite the regulars at Grand Ole Opry.
SZ: We played the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday [March 22nd]. It was our twenty third time performing there since December 2013. They have truly welcomed us and have become like a family to us.
You will be coming back to NYC with Ashley Monroe to play Joe's Pub on April 14th. Talk a little bit about your friendship with Ashley and playing NYC.
SZ: Ashley is one of our dearest, sweetest friends. She is super talented and we are extremely lucky to be able to do things with her.
JD: We were all discovered over the past year, so we are kindred spirits. She is an amazing friend, co-writer and inspiration. She and Sarah are like sisters, so it's pretty funny when we are together.
The reception when we play in New York is really great. People don’t realize that there are a lot of country music fans in New York; really, just a lot of music fans. They hear something they like and they’ll respond to it without getting caught up in the title [genre]. They will just find music they like and that’s cool.
Is there one thing you want to accomplish this year?
JD: Well, the obvious thing would be to make a record that were are very proud of and our fans are proud of; that will forever be a first record in a body of work that when we look back we can still be proud of it. Other than that....how about playing a show on Mt. Rushmore (laughing)? How do you get up there?
Striking Matches will be with Ashley Monroe at Joe's Pub in NYC for two shows on April 14th at 7pm and 930pm. For more information visit here.
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Rising country newcomer Lindsay Ell is definitely one to watch. Her debut single "Trippin' On Us" showcases her singing, songwriting and skills on the guitar. She recently supported The Band Perry on their We Are Pioneers World Tour and is currently working on her debut album. Lindsay graciously took the time to call and chat with us about her influences, writing and what's ahead.
You started playing piano at age six and guitar at age eight. Did you know from an early age that music was the path you wanted to take?
You know I really did. My parents are extremely musical and I had music all around me when I was young, which was definitely a nice environment in which to grow up. I knew it was what I wanted to do and that nothing else would top that for me. I loved music and performing so much. I started performing my first shows when I was ten years old. Music was my passion. I won't say I wasn’t nervous at times performing that young, but I think it made me stronger to accomplish one challenge and go onto the next one. I just got bit by the bug at an early age and did not want to stop.
You must have a very supportive family.
One of the most supportive families anyone could ask for! I have the best parents and older brother. From an early age, it really was a big sacrifice for everyone because you had to commit 100% of time and effort to it. Even now, they are just so supportive and I love them to death for it.
When you were younger, you traveled with your Dad to bluegrass camps. Was that the type of music you were exposed to as a child?
I started playing bluegrass music when I was really, really young. Then when I was ten years old I started getting into rock and blues, which opened my mind to another side of guitar playing. It gave me a whole new vocabulary to pull from and I am so thankful for that.
How did you meet Randy Bachman [from Bachman Turner Overdrive] who really took you under his wing and mentored you?
I met him through a songwriting buddy of mine when I was little. He was given a demo of cover songs that I did. When he heard the cd, he said that the person playing sounded like a young Chet Atkins and when he found out I was a girl, he wanted to meet me.
Randy was like another Dad to me growing up. He has been so supportive and a huge mentor. He really taught me how to song write at an early age and gave me my first real experiences recording in a professional studio. He definitely got me off to my start when I was really young.
Did you start singing at an early age as well?
Yes! Ever since I could talk I was singing! I walked, talked and breathed music everywhere I went. I probably annoyed my brother half to death!! When I started playing, singing just went hand in hand with that.
You have such a varied musical background. Why gravitate to the country genre to make your home?
Country is my roots and who I am. I'm originally from Calgary which is a very country music city. I moved to Nashville three and a half years ago. The move really instilled my country roots in me again. It felt like I was coming home and where I'm supposed to be.
I am really grateful to Randy for helping me explore jazz, rock and blues. Now I feel that I can play, write and sing country music and pull from those influences when I'm playing a guitar solo on stage.
You are a singer, songwriter and musician. Do you have different influences on each part of who you are?
Yes, completely different! On the guitar it is Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Eric Clapton. As a singer, the list includes Aretha Franklin, and Celine Dion. And as for songwriters I am influenced by Joni Mitchell, the Beatles and Don Henley. I have a very wide list of influences.
Such a wide range of influences makes for a unique sound. To me, "Trippin' On Us" is unlike anything else out there. Do you think?
I think so and I really hope so! Being a female in country music right now, you really need to find a unique voice and come out with something people haven’t heard before. So I hope that through all of my influences growing up and what I've gone through, I am able to make something unique and fresh that people will hopefully want to listen to.
Congratulations on the success of "Trippin On Us." The song was the most added its first week out which is very impressive for a debut single.
It was a great way to finish the year ! I wrote that song with David [Fanning] and Vicky [McGhee]. David and I were jamming on the guitar riff for a little while and then we just sort of fell into the verse and three hours later, the song just miraculously turned up onto the page.
Country Weekly recently included you on their Ones to Watch in 2014 list and CMT named you one of the Next Women of Country, which is defined as "someone who will make a major impact on country music". No pressure, right?
No pressure!! Oh my goodness, when I read that I was like 'oh boy!' I cannot thank them enough for recognizing and featuring me. I'm completely humbled by it and thankful that they are showcasing female artists.
There is a lot of talk about the lack of female presence on country radio. What are your thoughts on that?
I think it is a cycle. It always baffles me that there aren't more females on the radio and more specifically, female guitar players. I definitely think it’s a good time for females to showcase what we're doing and to give fans a new message they can latch onto. I hope that I can come out with something they haven’t heard before and be an inspiration to young females.
You recently toured with The Band Perry on their We Are Pioneers World Tour. How was that experience?
That tour was truly amazing. It was my first time in Europe. We performed twenty shows in nine countries under thirty days. It was a whirlwind, but so amazing. I cannot wait to be able to, hopefully, play more shows with them in future.
You have toured with Keith Urban and Buddy Guy. Is there someone who you want to play with that you haven’t?
When I saw Keith Urban and John Mayer do Crossroads it sort of instilled a little fire in me. John Mayer has been a huge inspiration to me. To be on stage with the two of them would be incredible. Of course I would love to do something with Eric Clapton or Eric Church too. I have long list, I'm not asking for much! (laughing)
Will there be an album in 2014 and how involved are you with writing for it? Will you be playing guitar on it?
Yes, there will be an album! We are hopping into the studio right after the ACM Awards and we will be finishing the record, but there is no official release date yet.
I am very involved in writing for the album. I have written or co-written all of the tracks so far. I probably will have a couple of outside songs from my favorite writers, but I'll write 80% of it.
I am playing on the record! Thankfully the producers have embraced me as a guitar player and they really allowed me to do my thing and play all my own guitar solos.
When you write do melody or lyrics come first or does it vary?
Well, I always say it depends because every writing session is different. Generally, I am a more musically driven person so a song will usually start with a guitar lick or a melody and then the rest of the idea will come.
What are you touring plans for the year?
In the Summer we will do radio tours and festivals. I will also have a few shows during CMA Fest. I cannot wait to get back on the road again. It is my happy place.
I am a Facebook fanatic! I am on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram two to three hours a day responding to fans. I love having that one on one connection with them! I will post all show details on there when they are announced! People can keep in touch with me there as well.
What is the one album currently, that you have on repeat?
You know, I'm a huge fan of Dierks Bentley's new album Riser. I just got it and love it! I like how he is constantly reinventing himself. I've been rocking out to that.
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Doreen Taylor is an award winning singer and actress who has received critical acclaim as one of the best songwriting talents in the industry whose songs contain captivating melodies and expressive lyrics. In 2013 she released her debut album, Magic, and toured nationally to support the project. Her newest endeavor is writing and recording a song entitled "Colors of the USA" for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) in honor of the National Parks Centennial. Doreen graciously took time from her schedule to call and chat about the song, music and what's ahead for 2014.
Tell us about how you came to pursue music as a profession.
I have always loved music and it has always been a huge part of my life. I never had the faith to think I could make it a profession though. I was under the misconception that musicians were starving artists. I had done musicals and plays in high school, but the parts never really showcased what I could do vocally. Those experiences focused more on acting than singing. One day out of nowhere in high school a good friend turned to me in biology class and just said 'you are going to go to school for music.' She was the type of person who always said random things and my reply to her was something like 'how can that be?' I had plans to go into medical school, as my brother was a doctor, but I always had this pull to music; even when I tried to fight it, something would pull me back.
I played violin since the fourth grade, but started studying voice very late, I was almost seventeen. I actually started voice lessons on a whim. When she heard me sing, my teacher was amazed because I had an almost four octave range. She asked me to humor her and audition for undergraduate music schools. I auditioned for the three top schools and got into all three of them. I took a leap of faith, decided to attend Hartt School of Music and never looked back. I cannot imagine having taken a different path. I don't believe I would have been truly happy. I always say I did not pick this as a career, it picked me.
You graduated with a degree in Opera, have performed on and off Broadway and have had many varied experiences. Do all of these experiences contribute to your sound?
Yes, I graduated with a Masters degree in Opera Performance. I always tried to ignore my past because when people hear the word opera they have a misconception as to how you are going to sound.
Now though, I am embracing my past because everything that I learned and the experiences that I have had contribute to who I am as an artist and how I write and perform. For example, when I did the Magic Tour it was really more like a Broadway show. We brought in actors and tried to tell the story of my journey through music in the show. The show had a heavy southern rock sound, but done in a Broadway style. I think that made it a cool experience for both me and the audience.
So how would you describe your sound?
As an independent artist by choice, I am very against labeling music. I believe music is an art and art should never be defined or dumbed down to make it marketable. Music is supposed to touch people. I want to make the music I like; something I would want to listen to if I turned on the radio or bought an album. When I recorded Magic I was not thinking about what the masses wanted. I was thinking about making a record that I would be proud of and my peers would be proud of. I wanted it to be something I could put my stamp on and be able to say I made the best record I could that was honest and real and wasn't made for any other reason than to make good music.
I guess if you had to pigeonhole me....I would presume that Magic was country pop. However, the way I have grown over the past year, I have toughened up my sound a little. It has taken a lot of work to change my technique so I do not sound so classical anymore. I have more of an edgier, Southern Rock style to my vocals. It was difficult to find what my heart and my voice wanted to be, but I finally found it and it clicked. I really found my home.
Who would you say are your writing and performing influences?
I have always gravitated to songwriters, like Bon Jovi. He just really has a sound that appeals to me. Even though he is from New Jersey you can hear country influence. I also love Phil Collins, Journey, and very old school songwriters. I like to take those influences, spin a country flavor on it and marry it into my sound.
I always said that if I was ever to be a mainstream artist, I wanted to do it in a different way. I wanted to stand out and have someone be able to say 'oh that’s Doreen Taylor' and know it's me singing right away. I think it stands the test of time in the industry to have a very identifiable sound.
Do you write all of your own material?
I do, I write it all myself. I used to do a cover show in Atlantic City, and all around the country, which is how I bridged the gap to what I do now. It was a one women show where I would sing all genres from Top 40 to Rock to Country. I would dance, sing and interact on stage; it was exhausting. I thought that if I could do that, I could do anything.
Honestly, the things I had written were so personal, it scared me to bare my soul and share it with people. Then I thought about having grand kids someday and knew that I wanted to pass this down and be able to show someone what I did. That's why I did my album. I never went in thinking it would be successful. I wanted to get my songs out of my head in case I ever got amnesia (laughing). When we went into the studio to record Magic, we all looked at each other and knew we had something different. From there it took on a life of its own. It really hasn't sunk in yet and I don't know if it ever will. Sometimes it's like I blink my eyes and wonder how I got here.
Talk about the song "Colors of the USA" and how you became involved with NPCA.
Well, it has been a work in progress for a little over a year. I connected with the NPCA in late January of last year. I was doing an unrelated interview and it had come up how I was a huge supporter of the preservation of land. After the interview I got involved with NPCA, which is the nation's largest non-partisan parks advocacy organization. We discussed what we could do for their centennial and the idea for the song came to me. We are going to debut the song live at the Salute To The Parks Gala on April 9th at the Newseum, a gorgeous building in Washington DC. I am very excited and cannot wait to perform the song. We will have a big east coast release party for the song on April 22nd in Philadelphia.
What are your plans for the rest of year?
Well, the song for the parks is going be what I am focusing on for the next few months. We have been documenting the process of how the song came about and will document the performance for a possible DVD/CD. We will shoot a video for the song in Texas or LA shortly and I am going back in the studio to record my sophomore album. There are a lot of exciting things coming up!
You may have been hearing Adam Craig's name quite a bit lately as he is one of the co-writers of Parmalee's current single "Close Your Eyes." However, Adam has been in Nashville songwriting for ten years now. He fronts the Adam Craig Band, who has a new single "Little Bit More of You" being showcased as a Highway Find on Sirius XM's The Highway. Adam kindly took some time to call and chat to us about the single, songwriting and more.
You and your band have been together since 2006. Can you tell us how you decided to pursue country music as a career?
Well, I was trying the lotto a lot, but that just wasn't working (laughing). No, really I just don't know what else I would possibly do. I started playing guitar when I was about eighteen years old; a couple of bad relationships here and there and the next thing you know I was writing songs. I made the decision to take the plunge and move to Nashville from Washington.
Even though three of us in the band are from Washington state, we all met each other in Nashville. We all were playing on Broadway and were involved in the whole music scene. We just gravitated towards one another.
Was country what you listened to growing up?
I switched over from the great hair bands of the 80's to country music in 1989 when Garth Brooks came out.
Who is your biggest musical influence?
The person I wanted to be forever was Travis Tritt and then Tim McGraw all through the 90's. Then when 2000 hit, it was Keith Urban because he wrote his own songs and played guitar. Now, I would have to say that other great songwriters are my biggest influences.
You have written songs recorded by Jason Aldean ("Church Pew or Bar Stool") and Parmalee ("Close Your Eyes"). Talk about writing a little bit.
They say Nashville is a ten year town and it's so crazy because this is my tenth year and I have never had this many people cut songs. I have eleven cuts this year so far which is crazy.
I write for Sony Music and every day I turn in my songs. They pitch them and place them in people's hands. I write with people every day so we have an abundance of songs and you hope that maybe one of them will be the next huge hit. One of the great things about Nashville is that you're buddies with all the guys on radio and it is inevitable that you're going to run into people and maybe share a story with them. Everybody roots for each other here which is so cool. There is always a competitive spirit, but it's one that drives everyone to be better. It's healthy competition, not cutthroat.
Your single "Little Bit More of You" is a current Highway Find. How did Sirius XM get the song and what does it mean to you that they are playing it?
Oh my gosh, it's a dream come true and so cool. It's crazy. Just about a year ago we were playing guitar with Cole Swindell at spring break opening for Luke Bryan. We played in front of 120,000 people in two days. He had just gotten word that "Chillin' It" was going to be a Highway Find. I didn't even know what that meant, but was like 'right on buddy' and now he's a superstar. This past October, I opened a show, which turned out to be an XM show, for him in Chicago at Joe's Bar. We played our set like every other night trying to do the best we can. Afterwards, John Marks stopped me and we had a really casual conversation about what I'm doing. The he tells me 'you're ready' and asks me to give him some music. It was just so neat because it happened so naturally. I finally heard the song in full yesterday which was the coolest thing ever. I'm very thrilled and excited because you never know what will happen.
Is there a story behind the song?
I wrote that song with Brandon Kinney and Michael Carter probably two years ago now. We wanted to write a love song, but put our own little flair on it. You know you never know what you're gonna get when you go into a writing session. You are put in a room with different people, who have their own ideas and direction, every single day. So it's really cool when you all hit it off and write a song.
It's just so awesome to have this song on the radio now. I have never woken up to a hundred messages before. I was so eager to read and respond to everybody. It is amazing when people record your songs. Having success with other people singing your songs first is awesome and I am so thankful, but truth be told the reason I moved to Nashville was because I wanted to sing the songs I write, that's why having "Little Bit More of You" out is so cool.
You have released a full length record and two EPs. Do you have plans to release more?
Yes, we just finished an EP. Michael [Carter, Luke Bryan's guitar player] is really busy, but as soon as we got the news that The Highway was going to start spinning the song, we decided too go into the studio and do what we needed to do. I am so excited that he produced the EP. It's so great to have a buddy that you can go into the studio with knowing you both want to get the best product you possibly can.
The EP is available at our live shows and should be up on iTunes shortly.
What are your plans for 2014?
I would like to get in front of as many people as possible; that's my #1 goal. We had the opportunity recently to open for Eric Church, whom I idolize. The chance to get in front of his crowds was so much fun and the coolest thing ever.
In addition to playing, I also just want to write as many good songs as I possibly can.
What are you listening to now?
"Talladega" by Eric Church. I am listening to that whole record in general. I am really loving that and the new Eminem record.
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Described as having a cool modern sound with echoes of the past, Gary Quinn is an award winning singer-songwriter that knows how to pull on the heartstrings of his audiences. Creating beautifully crafted lyrics he draws you in with his acoustic driven performances of rock infused country balanced with the traditional. He graciously took some time to "chat" with us via email about his new record, touring and his plans for the year.
Please provide a little background on yourself for those who might not know your music.
I was born and raised in Ireland. I grew up listening to my father’s Kris Kristofferson tapes and then fell in love with the new country music coming out of America after hearing the Garth Brooks album No Fences in the early 1990’s. I recently released my self titled debut album GARY QUINN, a 10 track offering of self penned material. My songs can be heard on radio stations in Ireland, the UK, America and Australia.
Being from Ireland, how does one get involved in country music especially as a career? Was it something you grew up with?
Country has quite a strong following in Ireland going back many years. In fact, historians would say the emigrating Irish helped introduce the fiddle to the genre. Its more the older country that people like. ‘Country ‘n’ Irish’ has had a strong resurgence in the last 18 months however it’s the more contemporary country sound that I follow. I grew up listening to Kris Kristofferson and then Garth Brooks as mentioned above.
Is country the genre you were always drawn to? Who are your musical influences?
Yeah, as my friends would have followed what was current in the Pop charts, but I was always listening to the latest Garth Brooks record. In Ireland/UK in the early 90’s we had access to CMT (which we sadly no longer do) so we could keep up with what was current in the US. I remember seeing a lot of Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks and Joe Diffie. My main influence include Garth Brooks, Kris Kristofferson, Brad Paisley and Keith Urban.
Your songwriting ability has been awarded and recognized on many occasions, do you write your songs yourself and/or co-write?
Yeah I do a lot of writing and all of the songs on the current album are self penned or co-writes. I’ve been fortunate enough to perform in Nashville on a few occasion and meet some really decent writers so have taken advantage and collaborated with a few people out there. Some of those collaborations are on the current records like "Power of Me and You" with David C Banning (songs cut by Chris Cagle and Joey & Rory) and "A Day I Find Love" with Benita Hill, who has had three songs cut by Garth Brooks. Solo and co-writes both have their merits and I enjoy doing both and hope to continue with both in the future.
How did it come about that you participated in the CMA Songwriters Show with Bob DiPiero?
I’ve been very fortunate to be invited to play the Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival (BelNash) in Belfast for the last number of years. Each year they have given me great opportunities. In 2010 I opened for Carlene Carter and in 2012 I opened for the CMA Songwriters Series (that included Bob DiPiero, Bill Anderson and Clint Black). The following year the CMA wanted to be involved again and the BelNash organisers arranged for them to allow a local act to share the stage with them. Thankfully I was chosen to share the stage with Bob DiPiero and Kristian Bush.
It was a brilliant experience and hearing the comments of support have really driven me on to get better as a performer and writer. Hopefully I can get to do it again sometime. I’m a huge admirer of the way Bob writes in particular so a dream would be to do a co-write with him some day!
You were in Nashville in 2012 for the Belfast Nashville Songwriter Showcase. What was that like, have you returned since & do you want to?
Again, I owe a lot of gratitude to BelNash for having the faith to invite me, along with four other Irish singer-songwriters, out to organized showcases in Nashville. I got to perform with Pam Rose and Billy Montana (‘Suds In The Bucket’ – Sara Evans & ‘More Than A Memory’ – Garth Brooks) which was a great experience. Benita Hill heard me at one of the showcases and we were introduced which led to us writing together. Playing in Nashville was a dream and only further fueled my desire to do it again!
I was selected to represent the UK at the CMA Global Artist Party in June 2012 and performed at The Stage on Broadway. I was the only European representative on the night which was pretty cool. Then, having opened for the CMA Songwriter Series in Belfast in the Feb I got in touch with the CMA to say I was performing in Nashville for the Global Artist Party and they invited me to play the CMA Fest a few days later. Playing both those gigs is something I extremely proud of and hope to replicate in the near future.
You released a new self-titled record recently. Do you have a favorite song from it?
My favorite song on the record to listen to is probably ‘Rewind’. It’s a very personal and reflective piece for me. I’ve always been a sucker for a teary ballad and that’s what I was going for on this song. I’d love Brad or Keith to take this to another level, I can only dream!
My favorite song to play live is ‘I Love To Watch You Leave’. I first performed in Nashville at the Belfast Nashville Songwriter Showcase and the crowd responses to the acoustic version were great, but playing it now with my band is real fun! Fun is an integral part of writing and performing for me and it great to take an audience on a roller coaster journey. I try to do that on the album and playing live.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
My performance highlight has to be sharing the stage with Bob DiPiero and Kristian Bush in my home country. Now I just need to replicate it Nashville! The career highlight is releasing a self penned album as an indie artist that was fan-funded through PledgeMusic and continues to get positive review from fans and industry insiders alike. It took a long time but I got there and hope the next album won’t take as long.
You have been asked to play C2C in March, that must be very thrilling?!
When I got the call I was ecstatic! To be involved in the same festival as some of my musical influences is amazing. I really excited to see Brad Paisley perform live again and Dierks Bentley.
I’m also really proud to be playing both dates too. One will be an acoustic set with my guitarist and buddy Luke Thomas and the other will be with the full band. The Pop-Up Stages are free to everyone on both afternoons which is great for the fans, even those not attending the evening shows.
What are your plans for 2014?
I plan to write more to get material ready for the next album (no plans for release dates yet) and play as often as I can to showcase the current album. I play the BelNash Festival again in early March, then C2C in London the week after. Following that I take the band on the road for a quite a few festival dates through out the spring/summer/autumn with performances in Denmark and a mini acoustic tour of Germany squeezed in between. I'm also performing at One More Shot in Birmingham, UK in November. So I’m planning to be busy.
What are you currently listening to?
The artist I’m currently listening to the most is someone who I feel is delivering the same kind of country that Keith Urban was doing about 3-4 years ago, which is why I’m really liking it. I’m listening to ‘Could It Be’ and ‘Want Me Too’ by Charlie Worsham. Garth, Brad and Keith are always on in the back ground too!
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