Well known as one half of Sugarland, Kristin Bush is preparing to show the country music audience his voice with his new album Southern Gravity. The album, produced by Tom Tapley with executive producer Byron Gallimore and set for release April 7th, contains twelve tracks all co-written by Bush. Already scoring a Top 20 hit with "Tralier Hitch," Bush took the time to speak about the album, including his excitement for the release, it's unique moments and more.
Congratulations on the album, which is just really fantastic. It seems like every track has the potential to be a radio single.
I love you for saying that (laughing)! I’m glad that you feel that way. I love being on the radio; I think it informs what I do, so [with this record] I was trying to make music that would be played on the radio, but I also tried to make music that I knew I would have to play in front of people for the first time knowing they never heard it before. I wanted songs that were as memorable as possible and very sing-able because I need people to sing them back to me by the second time the chorus comes around.
Having been in two duos, this is the first time we get to hear you at the forefront. Is it nervous, exciting or a bit of both?
The nervous part is hearing people’s reactions to figuring out that I can sing! Overall, I’d say it’s very exciting! I can’t wait for people to hear the album and react to it. I want to know what it makes them feel like because it makes me feel very happy.
It is most definitely a very happy, positive record with a great energy. Is that reflective of where you are personally?
Yes! It’s exactly where I am sitting. I’d hoped to put as much joy into this record as I could. It changes you when you play it and perform it every night. It does something to you that’s hard to explain. It might be a hokey way to say it, and without trying to make it sound like a self-help book, but the record is very healing.
Easily one of the most talented songwriters of today, William Clark Green's third album, Rose Queen, cemented his place as a notable artist in the Texas music scene. Now Green is preparing to release his eagerly anticipated new record, Ringling Road, which has already seen its first single, "Sympathy," reach #1 on the Texas charts. Green took some time during his and his band's Northeast run to talk about Ringling Road--from polishing their sound to co-writing and much more.
Rose Queen was such a huge record for you. Awhile back you said that you were nervous to record a follow up because you weren’t sure you could top it. Going into Ringling Road, were you nervous or did you simply set out to make the best record you could?
The idea was to definitely make the best record we possibly could, but I was extremely nervous and not confident going into it. Rose Queen was a very good record for us. Thinking about it, it took twenty-five years to write Rose Queen while I only had one year to write Ringling Road [Green took a year off from writing after Rose Queen]. It was definitely a difficult task, but I learned a lot over the course of making Rose Queen, especially in the studio that, I applied to this record. I learned what I wanted in a record and I think that had a lot to do with how Ringling Road turned out.
We really began polishing our sound with Rose Queen and I feel like that continued with Ringling Road. We didn’t have a clue with what we were doing with Rose Queen, or what we wanted to sound like, which was why it was so great working with Rachel Loy. She really helped us find that. It was like “yeah, that’s who we are and what we wanna sound like.” It’s taken six years to figure it out, but now we’re confident on who we are as musicians. It’s been a great experience to realize where we were and see where we’ve come.
I feel like everything happened for a reason with this record and it turned out the way it was supposed to. We worked night and day, and in my opinion, we trumped Rose Queen, so we’ll see what everybody else thinks about it.
Diana Upton-Hill is a versatile performer who began singing with her dad’s band and performing solos for school and church concerts at a young age. She is also an accomplished theater actor who has performed in productions of Beauty and The Beast, and Miss Saigon. Now, Diana's career has taken a new path to country music. She recently released her debut country EP, Do Love Well, as well as the single of the same name. Diana took some time during her radio tour to talk about the album, the single and more.
You have been involved with music since a young age. Did you always know that you wanted to pursue music professionally?
My parents were both very much into music. My dad was a performer and DJ and my mom was a music lover. There was always music on in the house! In seemed like we had all of the music you could ever want! I listened to everything from Pat Benatar to Ozzy Osborne to Madonna. We also listened to singer songwriters like Joni Mitchell, John Denver, and Joan Baez; and in country there was Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton among others. Listening to such a wide variety really helped me appreciate all genres of music.
My parents were really supportive of me pursuing music when I was growing up, whether I was playing the flute or singing at church. There was never any question in my mind that music wasn’t an option for me.
Born and raised in Austin, Texas, troubadour Aaron Einhouse has that unique ability to put stories into songs. In March 2014, he released his latest record, Blue Collar Troubadour, which was produced by Mike McClure and recorded in his Oklahoma studio. The album includes two tracks that Einhouse wrote with his friend and mentor Walt Wilkins as well as his current single "I Could Fall." An independent artist who works hard and continually hones his craft, Aaron graciously took the time to talk about his roots, story songs and more.
You have said that hearing the words of Townes Van Zandt’s “To Live Is To Fly”, and Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Getting By” at your uncle’s funeral was a defining moment in your life, that it “was the first music I had ever heard that really, truly, spoke to me,” and helped you realize your calling. How old were you at the time and what was the path you were going to take?
I was seventeen or eighteen. I started playing guitar during my senior year of high school, but didn’t really begin to write until my junior year of college and didn’t truly perform for anyone until my last year of college. I graduated from Trinity University, and worked for four years as a real estate analyst in San Antonio. During that time I would go to Cheatham Street Warehouse a lot and play. One night Kent [Finlay] told me that he thought that I had a lot of good songs and should get a band together. He believed that I could do pretty well with a career in music, and to hear him say that to me was pretty mind blowing!
How did you come to have a working relationship and friendship with Walk Wilkins?
Walt is someone for whom I have a great deal of respect. When I finally got my band together and was ready to make my first record, I had asked Kent to put in a word with Walt for me. I gave Walt a demo of my songs and he liked it. Walt was never critical of my writing, in fact he always spoke very highly of it, which is really nice! He ended up producing my first two records and we co-wrote a couple of songs together for the current record. He really helped me out a lot and has been a very big part of my life and my music.
Ray Scott is an artist who values traditional country music and respects its roots. This is particularly evident on his latest single "Ain't Always Thirsty" which is due to impact radio in the coming weeks. The song, co-written with Mark Stephen Jones, is a realistic story from his personal history that is paired with the country music fiber on which the traditionalist was raised. Ray graciously took time to discuss the story behind the song, the upcoming accompanying music video and more.
Your latest album was released in October. The first single “Drinkin’ Beer” enjoyed extensive airplay on Sirius XM's The Highway, was HotDisc UK Song of The Year, and ranked 18 on Rolling Stone’s Top 25 Country Songs of 2014. It must mean a great deal to have that kind of support.
Oh, it does. It’s nice to know the music is getting an audience and that the audience and critics are responding well to it. I couldn’t be happier about that. It makes a huge difference to an independent artist having a career.
To prepare for the release of the second single,“Ain’t Always Thirsty,” you recorded six performances videos with your interpretation of such classics as “Put Another Log On The Fire” and “That’s The Way Love Goes.” What inspired this and why did you chose those songs in particular?
Those songs and artists were a big part of my childhood and have become favorites of mine. Outside of that, it was just me trying to show everybody where I’m coming from. In this day and age the kind of bro country, pop and rock influenced stuff has sort of made its way to the top of the heap in the mainstream. I come from a more traditional place. I appreciate storytelling, instrumentation and everything else from a few years back. Releasing these performance videos was my way of letting people know where I come from musically and artistically. I also wanted to introduce people to really great artists they may not be aware of; obviously everyone knows who Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash are, but a whole lot of twenty year olds may not know who Billy Joe Shaver or Tompall Glaser are. In a way, the videos were my “public service.” (laughing)
Fifteen years into a career and Will Hoge continues to do what he does best on his tenth album, Small Town Dreams, which will be released on April 7th. A songwriter with the ability to write genuine story songs that while personal, are also accessible to the every man (or woman), Will graciously took the time to talk about the album, the desire to write really great songs and adjusting one's dreams.
So ten albums in, what, if anything, did you do differently for this album than the previous ones?
I haven’t worked with a producer for the last four records, so for this record in particular it was interesting to be able to share that responsibility, give up that responsibility really, to Marshall [Altman]. That freed me up to concentrate on just being an artist which ultimately made the album more complete.
He definitely retained the Will Hoge sound on the record, but what specifically did he bring to the record to make it stand out?
Well thanks for saying that because one big thing for me was that I still wanted to make a Will Hoge record. I didn’t want to have a departure from who I am or what I’ve done or built a career on, so I’m glad that that rings true. A big part of what Marshall does is with production. I’m still a band guy. I like the band to be in the studio and have a particular sound where it sounds like a bunch of guys sitting in a room playing together. I know that sounds dated and old, but that’s important to me. That’s something that I do well myself as a producer, and I think Marshall did a good job of maintaining that. Also Marshall, he’s great at the after the fact stuff; he can go in, look at the big picture and inject little bits of things here and there like a guitar part or counter melody. He does things uniquely in that way and helped with the overall sound of record. He glued everything together in a way that I felt was pretty special.
Small Town Dreams definitely has a theme; did you go into the album with that in mind or did it happen more naturally?
It happened more naturally. As I write over the course of the year, songs tend to group themselves together. I put them in piles; some in this group, that group or a whole new group, and then what happens is eventually you get four or five that kind of stand out in a group, and then I focus on those as a record. I work around those writing other songs or putting other pieces together to feel natural with it. This is more organic than me sitting down and saying ‘hey I wanna write a record about what it feels like to grow up in a small town and what that feels like…. go.’
Singer/Songwriter Rhea Francani grew up near Buffalo, New York in close knit musical family who exposed her to a wide variety of musical styles. This year, she released her debut EP, I Want You To Know, which includes her breakout song "Dizzy." Rhea is an honors graduate in Musical Theatre Performance from Wagner College, NYC and a soon-to-be alumna of Teachers College, Columbia University, NYC with a Master’s Degree in Music and Music Education. She graciously took some time out of her busy schedule to talk about her roots, recording her EP in Nashville and what's ahead.
Growing up, your family was not only very close knit, but also musical. Did that influence your decision to pursue music professionally?
Both of my parents are very passionate about music. My Dad plays piano and played in a band, so growing up it was always like a musical concert at our house! Dad would play and my sisters and I were always singing and performing everything from Motown to Country to Pop. My parents are now business owners, but I definitely got my passion for music from them and my sisters.
Having been exposed to various musical styles, what drew you to country?
Early on I studied jazz, but wasn’t sure that was what I wanted to do. In high school, I got involved in musicals. I became so passionate about that area it became my focus of study during my undergraduate years. I always loved country though. I gravitated to the lyrics in country music and the stories told through the songs and found that the more I listened to it, the more I started writing in the genre. I have been a fan of Carrie Underwood since American Idol and I really like to listen to Miranda, Blake and Lady Antebellum.
Since the release of his 2010 debut album, It All Happened In A Honky Tonk, Jon Wolfe has garnered six consecutive top ten singles on the Texas charts as well as an ever expanding and loyal fan base. On March 31st Wolfe will release his newest full length studio album, Natural Man, which has already produced the top ten hit “What Are You Doin’ Right Now.” The latest single from the project, the toe tappin', cheeky “Smile On Mine,” is currently climbing the Texas charts. Jon took the time to talk about his roots, Natural Man, his upcoming album release tour and more!
You were on track for a prosperous career as a trader, but abandoned that to pursue music, which you have been doing, successfully, especially in Texas and Oklahoma, for about ten years now.
I graduated college in 2001 and got hired by British Petroleum. I worked in Chicago for two years on one of the largest and most aggressive trading floors. It was fast paced, and a lot of fun and I was set to have a great career, but by 2004, I was playing beer joints and struggling my way around. I made the choice to pursue music in my early twenties believing that if there was a time to do it, it was then, especially knowing that it would take years to break through. I like to make sure people know I wasn’t doing that [trading] for ten years and then late in the game decided to go into country music.
You ventured into a career in country music in your 20's. Did you start playing guitar, singing and writing then or did those things come earlier?
I grew up in Oklahoma surrounded by musical people. My sister was a successful gospel singer and my stepfather played bass in country band--the same one Joe Don Rooney from Rascal Flatts was in, actually. I would go and watch them and I fell in love with country music. I started singing as a teenager, but didn’t think it was cool to be a guy and sing; it wasn’t the manly thing to do at the time. So I kind of hid it from my parents until I was comfortable with it. I became more visible playing guitar, singing, and learning cover songs in my late teens. Songwriting came later, when I moved to Nashville.
Based out of Corpus Christi, Texas, Jake Ward and his band, The Coast Riders, blend classic country, folk and rock into a winning combination that is gaining them new fans all over the Lone Star State and beyond. Their high energy live show blends harmonies, fiddle and harmonica into a show that you soon won't forget. The band has just released their second single, "Ignorant Bliss," and is gearing up to release their full length debut later this year. Jake graciously took some time to talk about the single, the album, and more.
You started performing when you were seven years old, did you know then that you wanted to pursue music professionally?
That was the first time I performed for people and I really got a taste for it. It was then that I kinda realized what I wanted to do and so far, I guess I have followed my childhood goal (laughing). [Ward is 22years old]
Both of my grandparents are Baptist missionaries, so I grew up singing in the church, as well as performing a lot of musical theater. I remember once being on stage and messing up because I was nervous. I was so embarrassed, but the crowd just started cheering for me! I realized then that there was no reason to be scared when performing because if you’re scared you won’t put on a good show. I’m comfortable and confident on stage….more than I am in my normal life (laughing).
Your sound blends rock, country and folk. Who did you listen to growing up and who would you consider your influences?
You know, I grew up listening to George Strait, but I also listened to the Bee Gees, The Beach Boys and Elvis. I have this weird conglomeration of music that affects my songwriting and style. I don’t know if we sound like anybody; I think we’re very unique, or I like to think we’re very unique (laughing). A lot of people come up to me after shows and compare me to different artists, but I have never heard the same comparison twice.
When did the band, The Coast Riders, come together?
The band was in flux for a while as we tried to find the perfect fit, but the guys we have now, they’re amazing--probably the best in town. My guitarist [Paul Teltschik] and I have been together two and a half years. We found our drummer [Daniel Hawkins] about a year ago and the remainder of the band [Mitchell "Sunshine" Williams, Bass and Owen Fitzsimmons, Fiddle] followed suit after that.