Wednesday night on Long Island at the Patchogue Theater, radio station 96.1 hosted their 'Match Up.' The event paired one male artist with one female artist who took the stage together and alternated telling stories and playing songs for five rounds. All of the artists were not only talented, but extremely personable and funny; enjoying banter with one another as well as joking with the audience.
First up were Chuck Wicks and Lindsay Ell. Chuck had many adoring female fans in the crowd, but he is truly more than a pretty face. He is a talented performer who was more than comfortable on the stage. His voice is very warm and emotive, especially on ballads. He performed his newest single "Us Again" as well as music that will be on the album he is currently working on. He closed with his biggest single, "Stealing Cinderella."
Mark my words: Lindsay Ell will be known as one of the most talented female guitar players of all time. The entire crowd was mesmerized every time she picked up her guitar and played. I have no idea how she made that guitar sing the way it did, but I know from the thunderous applause and cheers from the crowd, she made an impression. She covered Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel" and had the crowd singing the chorus. She also played new tunes, including "Not Another Me" a song she wrote for a friend with Muscular Dystrophy whose boyfriend found it difficult to deal with her condition and left. She ended with her debut single "Trippin' On Us." Lindsay's prowess on the guitar definitely impressed (intimidated?) Chuck. Prior to her final song, he asked if she was going to play the electric guitar. When she replied "yes" he followed with a humorous "then I'm going to have to walk off the stage." (he didn't)
Next up were Will Hoge and Kelleigh Bannen. Will started out with one of his older songs, "Better Off Now," and told the story of how the song came to be on Lady A's new record. He then played "Even If It Breaks Your Heart," the song he wrote with Eric Paslay, that Eli Young Band made a #1 hit, smiling the entire time as the crowd sang along. He sang how being married with kids changes your life in the utterly relatable "Bad Old Days". He closed out with a story of how one of his favorite writers from the Tennessean, Gail Kerr, had passed that morning. He dedicated the emotional "When I Get My Wings" to her, standing at the front of the stage, no microphone, singing with the theater so quiet you could hear a pin drop. At the conclusion, he received a standing ovation. i have said it many times before: Will is the real deal.
Kelleigh Bannen spoke of how she and Will grew up in Nashville and when she was seventeen years old, her father would get her into the clubs just so she could watch Will perform. She, like all of the artists, thanked the crowd for coming out and said how happy she was to be playing tonight. She played a lovely, traditional country song called "Church Clothes" that she said hoped country radio had room for. She also played "Broken Record Hearted" and her first single "Sorry On The Rocks." She forgot the lyrics to that one, but no one minded because she took it in stride and with humor. She concluded with her current single, "Famous" on which she played mandolin. Honestly, I was not a fan of the radio version of that song, but hearing it acoustic...I'm sold.
Finally, Dustin Lynch and Danielle Bradbury took the stage. Dustin opened with "She Cranks My Tractor" then played a new song inspired by his parents and grandparents called "Daddy's Boots." He invited girls up to the stage to dance when he sang "Wild In Your Smile." Additionally, he played his new song which comes out next week, "Where It's At." He closed with "Cowboys and Angels," a song that he wrote for his grandparents 55th wedding anniversary four years ago.
The audience that night was full of young girls who absolutely loved Danielle Bradbury. Before launching into "Daughter of a Working Man," she told the crowd how she was a daddy's girl. Additionally, she covered Pink's "Try" and closed with "Heart of Dixie."
Afterwards, many of the artists stayed to meet, sign and take photos. It was a terrific night, that hopefully 96.1 will repeat in the future.
Jerrod Niemann's new album High Noon was released this past Tuesday, but on Sunday night, March 23rd, about seventy five fans got the chance to attend the cd release party at Harding's in NYC. The intimate bar/restaurant was decorated with "wanted" posters while the stage was set with a stool, a microphone and a High Noon tarp. There were a few tables and benches with candles and the complimentary drinks were free flowing.
A little after 6pm, Jerrod came out and for the next hour he played songs from the new cd (via the cd/venue's sound sytem) and treated to the crowd to acoustic songs both old and new. He played "Drink To That All Night" and "Donkey." Mind you, that one is not my favorite song, but when Jerrod explained to the crowd how he just wanted a fun, silly song to take people's minds off of the unpleasantness in the world, it made me understand and appreciate it a little better.
As songs from the new record played, Jerrod, who is extremely personable and funny, greeted fans in the crowd with warm hugs and smiles. Then he returned to the stage to perform.
After questioning the crowd for the best hangover cures, Jerrod gave his reply in the form of a new song, "Buzz Back Girl." He also performed, and told the stories behind, "Space" and "Can't Give In Anymore" as well as fan favorites "The Buckin' Song," and "For Everclear," He closed the night with "Lover, Lover." At the end of the hour, he took photos with everyone in attendance.
For more information visit here.
High Noon is available everywhere.
Photo Credits: Jolene Vladimir and Doreena Silva
Back in December when it was announced Bart Crow would be coming to play NYC, I might have yelled out a "yes!!" in the aisle of Bed, Bath and Beyond. Bart is one of the few artists whose albums I can listen to in their entirety and love every song.
The show at Hill Country was Bart's first official time playing in NYC. He and the band came on around 11pm, to a crowd of approximately eighty to ninety people, far less than the usual packed venues he is used to. No matter, they played as if the place was full and upon surveying the crowd, it was obvious that everyone was enjoying the music with many people even singing along.
For an hour and a half, he kept the energy high and the real deal music flowing, seamlessly weaving the end of one song into the beginning of the next. He played all of his five #1s on the Texas charts including "Saying Goodbye," "Dandelion" and "Run With the Devil." Additionally, the set included "Falling For You," the foot tappin' "Quarters," and "Cold Heart." He also debuted a new song "City Limits Signs" about leaving, returning to and leaving again, his native Maypearl, Texas. Bart's undeniably identifiable voice delivers music that is believable and truly heartfelt, which can especially be heard on songs like "I Miss You" and "All I Need." On stage, he is warm, personable and funny and there seems to be a genuine camaraderie between him and the four skilled members of the band.
They closed out the night with "Loving You's A Crime" that segued into fan favorite "Wear My Ring," which had people out of their seats dancing and singing along. It marked a perfect way to cap off the night. Hopefully this trip to NYC will be the first of many!
Bart is a fan favorite in Texas and beyond. If you're new to his music, pick any one of his five albums and I guarantee they will soon be added to heavy rotation on your playlist. Then, definitely catch a show when he's near you.
For more information visit www.bartcrowmusic.com
Follow Bart Crow on Twitter
This past Wednesday, Jennifer Nettles brought her That Girl Tour to the beautiful Beacon Theatre in NYC. The venue was filled with enthusiastic fans of both Jennifer, and Brandy Clark, who is supporting Jennifer on this tour.
Brandy quietly entered the stage at 8pm and performed for approximately thirty-five minutes. Her set was simple, yet brilliant and her voice was warm and strong. A kind and humorous personality shown through as she told stories about the songs and talked with the crowd. She performed songs from her excellent 12 Stories, as well as songs she has co-written for others, including "Mama's Broken Heart" and "Better Dig Two." After she was finished, she greeted fans in the lobby and signed for them.
Like, Brandy, Jennifer's performance was pitch perfect and flawless. Jennifer, of course, performed songs from her That Girl album as well as a few of Sugarland's hits, which had the crowd on their feet. In addition to her own material, she covered Ambrosia, Barry Manilow and Imagine Dragons. She brought Brandy back to the stage to sing a fantastic duet of "His Hands." Finally, she closed out the show with Bob Seger's "Like A Rock," which she said she enjoyed putting a female perspective on.
Jennifer not only has a tremendous voice, but is an extremely comical and entertaining presence who delivers live on many counts. If you have the chance, definitely check out the That Girl Tour.
For more information visit here.
The first ever Nashville To New York was an evening of hit songs and the stories behind them. The show, patterned after the famous “In The Round” writer nights at the Bluebird Café in Nashville, was hosted by Hall of Fame songwriter Gary Burr, and his wife, hit songwriter Georgia Middleman, both members of the critically acclaimed group Blue Sky Riders.
For this initial outing, Gary and Georgia brought Maia Sharp and Marcus Hummon along with them. As with the typical writers' rounds, each artist took a turn telling a story behind a song and then playing said song. Early on Gary had said that when any audience members talk during a show at the Bluebird, they get shushed. No one was talking during this show! Those in the crowd were quiet and respectful, eager to hear the stories and the songs. In fact, the artists commented on multiple occasions how attentive and polite the crowd was. The writers on stage bantered not only with one another throughout the evening, but with the audience as well.
They joked that they all took the "sorrow train" and the "story train" that night, playing songs that told stories that were melancholy in tone. Gary was up first and told the story behind a song Leann Rimes recorded, "Nothin' But Love Makes Sense." He wrote it, he said jokingly, simply because he wanted to hear the words "jumbo shrimp" in a song. Additionally he played a new song on his record and a song he initially wrote for Garth Brooks, but got recorded by Ty Herndon and went to #1, "The Only Way I Know."
Maia played a beautiful song titled "Me After You" that was on one of her records that sold "tens of tens..." She also played "A Home" recorded by the Dixie Chicks and "Long Way Home" recorded by Art Garfunkel.
Marcus started off with a story about Sara Evans. They were having a writing session and she had just gotten off the phone with people from the label. She was crying. Why? They had told her she needed to lose weight after having her baby. That inspired her song "Born To Fly." The he switched from guitar to piano to play his song "The Favorite Son." He talked a bit about being in the business for 27 years and the state of co-writing with the young songwriters in Nashville. He commented that songwriters used to be "politicians, poets, theologians" and how things are differently now.
Georgia Middleman began with a song sung by Reba and inspired by the diner scene in When Harry Met Sally, "I'll Have What She's Having." She also played a song with a twist at the end, "Table 32," as well as a few more. She added lovely harmonies when the other writers played their songs.
If you enjoy hearing the stories behind the songs, sung by the actual people who wrote them, then make sure to keep these shows on your radar. The night was definitely one to remember. We can't wait for next installment.
About the artists, from the Cutting Room:
GARY BURR Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame member. ASCAP, Billboard and NSAI Country Songwriter of the Year. Fifteen #1 hits. Songs recorded by Faith Hill, Garth Brooks, Carole King, Ringo Starr, Reba McEntire, LeAnn Rimes, Christina Aguilara and Ricky Martin, Kelly Clarkson and more. Member of the group Blue Sky Riders with Georgia Middleman and Kenny Loggins.
GEORGIA MIDDLEMAN Songs recorded by Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill, Reba McEntire, Joe Nichols, Martina McBride, Radney Foster, Maia Sharp, Mark Chestnutt, Sarah Buxton, Terri Clark and many others. Recently had her song “When The Right One Comes Along” featured on the ABC hit TV show “Nashville.” Currently one third of the new trio, Blue Sky Riders with Kenny Loggins and Gary Burr.
MARCUS HUMMON Grammy winning songwriter, recording artist, composer, playwright and author. His best known hits are: ‘Bless The Broken Road’ (Rascal Flatts), ‘Cowboy Take Me Away’, and ‘Ready To Run’ (The Dixie Chicks), ‘Born To Fly’ (Sara Evans), ‘One Of These Days’ (Tim McGraw), and ‘Only Love’ (Wynonna). Marcus has written 5 musicals, 2 operas and his songs have been nominated for Grammys, ACMs and CMAs.
MAIA SHARP Songs recorded by The Dixie Chicks, Bonnie Raitt, Trisha Yearwood, Keb’ Mo’, Cher, Edwin McCain, David Wilcox, Art Garfunkel, Paul Carrack, Lisa Loeb and many more. As a producer, Maia has worked with Edwin McCain, Art Garfunkel and Crystal Bowersox, among others. She has five solo releases that have all been critically acclaimed and enthusiastically embraced by press and radio.
For more information visit The Cutting Room official website
With all the hype surrounding the Swon Brothers following their appearance on The Voice, I decided to check out their free show (Swoncert) at Toby Keith's Bar & Grill on the eve of the release of their first single "Later On."
The Swon Brothers (Colton & Zach) put on an acoustic performance that highlighted the brothers vocal harmonies and Zack's amazing guitar skills. They did an hour long set that included all the songs they performed on The Voice as well as a very cool three song Eagles tribute.
In addition, they performed two new songs from their upcoming cd. One was entitled "Pray For You." Colton explained the story behind the song saying, "Have you watched the news lately? With all the bad in the world, we decided to write song with a message of hope." In it, they sing "Tonight I'm not gonna love you/Tonight I'm gonna pray for you."
They closed the show with their current single "Later On," which had all the ladies in the crowd screaming. Throughout the evening the crowd was singing word for word with these newcomers. This long time concert veteran was impressed at the amount of crowd participation for an up incoming artist.
All in all these talented young men performed a spot on set and seemed to genuinely enjoy their fans and performing for them.
For more information visit their official website
Photo credit to, and guest post written by, David Watts
NYC celebrated Texas this past weekend with fans coming in from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Maine to see the Texas Tailgate and the Four On The Floor Tour.
Friday night, Kevin Fowler kicked off the Texas Tailgate with an almost hour set of high energy songs. I had never seen Kevin before and I have to say he was pretty terrific, a lot of fun and really funny! He joked around, interacted with the audience and just showed everyone a great time. he moved around alot...hence, no photo for y'all.
Next up was Reckless Kelly. These guys have been around for about seventeen years. They are seriously one of the best bands around and if you don't know them well.....you need to. They also kept their set high energy, slowing it down just once. They played songs from their 2013 Grammy winning album Long Night Moon as well as "Ragged As The Road" and "Love In Her Eyes." I cannot say enough positive things about this band, from the quality of their songs to their ability as musicians, they are top notch. I sincerely hope these guys make it back to our area soon.
Casey Donahew Band, who for the first time headlined the Tailgate, opened their set with "Stockyards" and played songs that the entire crowd was singing along to like "Double Wide Dream," "Whiskey Baby" and "Small Town Love." Again, their set was up-tempo, fun and filled with great songs (and maybe one small fight on the floor). The night concluded with "Go To Hell."
If Friday night was crowded, Saturday night for Four On The Floor was jam packed! Truly, one of the best nights of music ever. Stoney LaRue, Wade Bowen, Josh Abbott Band and Randy Rogers Band gave their fans four hours of fantastic tunes. You might think "really, Texas music lovers in NYC?" Well....yes and lots of them. I was so pleasantly surprised that there were people who knew the words to almost every song each artist played. It's amazing to me (and makes me so happy) that bands who get no national radio airplay can have such a following, especially outside of their region. It just proves that there is terrific music out there that you are not hearing on your radios. You may have to dig a little to find it, but it's there and when you do, you'll have wondered how you ever got along without it.
In fact, Wade and Randy both commented that although none of the four bands have ever come close to having a radio hit (although Wade's "Saturday Night did hit #39) the place was packed with people who really appreciated their music. They seemed both surprised and grateful and made sure to thank everyone for coming out.
These bands don't require video screens or theatrics. It really is all about the music, the musicianship and having a good time. What was really nice to see was a true camaraderie between all of the guys on stage. Josh Abbott came out to join Wade on "Resurrection" and Willy Braun assisted Wade on "Glory Days." In addition, Stoney came out to play with JAB and the drummers from all four bands just seemed to hang out with one another, playing and laughing and smiling the entire show.
The night ended with an interesting take on "Fuzzy" with Josh, Stoney and Wade coming out on stage in animal costumes and a giant sing along to Merle Haggard's "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink."
Let's hope we don't have to wait a year for these guys to come back to the area.
Watch Wade Bowen with special guest Willy Braun of Reckless Kelly perform "Glory Days."
Randy Rogers Band perform their new song "Satellite."