Joshua Radin. Hotel Cafe Tour. 2008
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Artist of the Week: Kip Moore
CATEGORIES: Artist of the Week

KipM_JW-10_3315_HIres

I can’t remember the first time I heard a song by Kip Moore but then again I can’t remember not being a fan of the country singer-songwriter. Maybe it was on the radio or perhaps it popped up at work while streaming country music videos on VEVO. I do know though, that last year his 2012 debut album Up All Night was my most listened to album of the year.

In a world where singles trump album purchases, Up All Night is one of those albums you have to listen to all the way through. From the more upbeat party songs like “Beer Money” and “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck” to the poignant “Hey Pretty Girl” and “Faith When I Fall,” the album has it all. As does his live show.

On Thursday (Sept. 25), Kip kicked off his first major headlining tour at New York’s Best Buy Theater which also included openers Sam Hunt and Charlie Worsham. Kip’s nearly two-hour performance during the first date of the CMT Up In Smoke Tour left a lasting impression as fans sang along for the hits as well as his deeper cuts. And, when it was time for his new material everyone paid attention.

“How many of you have been waiting for the record to come out?” Kip asked halfway through his set. “I want to give y’all the most amazing record I can possibly give. A new single is dropping the first of the year and a record to follow.”

In the meantime, he told the crowd he decided to release a new EP called Soundcheck. The five-track EP includes his No. 1 hit “Beer Money” as well as four other previously unreleased songs that were all recorded in Nashville. Prefacing “Heart’s Desire” off the EP, he said the song was the loneliest he has ever felt.

Singing of how he “let love slip through my fingertips,” he vividly got his point across with his slowed, raspy yearning vocals and stripped down instrumentals. Listen to the track, along with four others on his new EP below.

Additional highlights throughout the night included the acoustic “Hey Pretty Girl” and a lively performance of “Fly Again,” in which he walked the audience through the three stages of heartbreak before assuring us all that everything will be okay.

“It’s a damn good life hanging out with y’all. Thanks for giving us a life,” he said before segueing into gritty new track “Lipstick.”

Before he closed the night with an energetic performance of “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck” and then an encore of “Faith When I Fall” and “Free Fallin’” he once again thanked his fans for sticking with him over the years.

“We were traveling for many, many years before you heard us on the radio. It’s all about you guys. I don’t give a shit except making music for you guys.”

September 29, 2014 | | (0) comment comment
Band of the Week: Josh Abbott Band
CATEGORIES: Artist of the Week, Band of the Week

Josh-Abbott-Band

On a regular Tuesday night in New York City earlier this month, country music fans were seen two-stepping along to the Josh Abbott Band. It was almost as if the packed Bowery Ballroom in Lower Manhattan somehow became a honky-tonk in Texas. “I didn’t expect to see a ton of people dancing in New York,” Josh Abbott told me over the phone.

But, according to the frontman, no matter where they go they often see their fans busting a move. “When you come to a Josh Abbott concert you come to enjoy the music, drink a couple beers and do some two-stepping,” he says. “That’s part of what we do and we embrace that.”

Their major label debut is five-song release, the Tuesday Night EP, (out Sept. 23) and is just a taste of what’s to come on the band’s full length debut due out next year. But Abbott hopes their current single “Hangin’ Around,” which he wrote with country hit makers, Shane McAnally (“American Kids,” “Mama’s Broken Heart,” “Better Dig Two,”) and Josh Osborne (“Chainsaw,” “We Are Tonight,” “Merry Go Round”), will be their breakout song.

The EP, Abbott says, is all about having fun. “It’s a reflection back on my college years,” Abbott says. “I wanted it to be something that’s more nostalgic for me and people that have already graduated from college, that they can listen to this and remember that time. Maybe when their life related to some of these songs.”

 

 

For more from my interview with Josh Abbott, visit Radio.com.

September 22, 2014 | | (0) comment comment
Song of the Week: Brett Eldredge’s “Mean to Me”
CATEGORIES: Song of the Week

Mean-to-Me

Sometimes a song hits you at the right moment. That’s exactly what happened last July when I heard Brett Eldredge perform “Mean to Me” at the CMA Songwriters Series at Joe’s Pub. It was a week or so before his excellent debut album Bring You Back was released and I remember sitting there, tearing up as he played the beautiful song on an acoustic guitar.

A week later, I interviewed Brett and learned the story behind the song.

“‘Mean To Me’ is very much a one-on-one love, romantic song that’s telling somebody else how much they mean to you,” he told me last year during his album release week. “I wanted to write a song telling someone, ‘If I could mean half as much as these things, half as much as you mean to me, then that would be amazing.’”

Brett wrote the song with Nashville songwriter Scooter Carusoe and said “Mean to Me” came about pretty naturally.

“I was just fiddling around on the guitar and we just started pouring them out [the lyrics] in these real descriptive ways. It’s a real special song that hopefully I can sing to my future soulmate one day.”

Watch the video for “Mean to Me” below.

September 20, 2014 | | (0) comment comment
Video Interview: Darius Rucker
CATEGORIES: Videos


 

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Darius Rucker several times over the past few years and he’s always one of the friendliest and easiest artists to talk to. This time, he was in New York for a CMA Songwriters Series showcase so he stopped by the studio to give some insight on what we can expect from his next country album, Homegrown Honey, due out next year.

In addition to talking about the single “Homegrown Honey,” which he wrote with Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelly, Rucker revealed that he’d be releasing a Christmas album on October 27. I don’t know about you, but hearing holiday songs from Darius is already starting to put me in the holiday spirit. Watch my video interview with him above and to read the complete article visit Radio.com. The track listing for his holiday album is below.

Home For The Holidays Track Listing:

01. I’ll Be Home For Christmas
02. White Christmas
03. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
04. Winter Wonderland
05. Please Come Home For Christmas
06. What God Wants For Christmas written by Darius Rucker, Frank Rogers and Monty Criswell
07. Baby, It’s Cold Outside (featuring Sheryl Crow)
08. O Come, All Ye Faithful
09. You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch
10. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
11. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
12. Candy Cane Christmas written by Darius Rucker, Frank Rogers and Steve Leslie

September 18, 2014 | | (0) comment comment
Song of the Week: Josh Abbott Band’s ‘Hangin’ Around’
CATEGORIES: Song of the Week

Josh-Abbott-Band

Earlier this week, I caught Josh Abbott Band‘s debut headlining set at Bowery Ballroom in New York. It was as if I was transported to the South watching the band play and it makes sense why: they’re from Texas.

The room was packed with hardcore fans singing and dancing — might I add two-stepping — along throughout the entire show. I haven’t seen a crowd that energetic in a while. Throughout their raucous set they played some of their older classics including “She’s Like Texas” and “Taste,”  as well as performed some songs off their upcoming EP Tuesday Night due out on Sept. 23.

While their set was lively, complete with electric, acoustic and bass guitar alongside banjo, fiddle and drums, Josh Abbott Band segued effortlessly from the more upbeat numbers to the softer ballads. Current single “Hangin’ Around” had the crowd singing along. And, long after their performance ended it was implanted in my head. An ear worm of a song, “Hangin’ Around” catches your ear from the very start of the track. The fiddle accompanied by Abbott’s memorable lyrics make it nearly impossible not to dance and sing along.

Listen to “Hangin’ Around” below. Josh Abbott Band’s EP Tuesday Night will be available on Sept. 23.

 

September 11, 2014 | | (0) comment comment
Video Interview: Nick Carter and Jordan Knight of Nick & Knight
CATEGORIES: Q&A

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Over the weekend, I told you all about my interview with Nick Carter and Jordan Knight. And now you can watch two of the clips!

For their debut duo album, Nick & Knight, both agreed they didn’t want to make a big, pop-produced album. Instead, they regard the record as more of an indie release.

“We just let ourselves be free. It’s more of a broken down, rhythmic sexy vibe,” Jordan told me.

The guys also filled me in on that infamous term “boy band.” While they never grew fond of the description, they now accept it.

“When I came out with a solo album in 1999 I would always get asked, ‘How does it feel to be from a boy band?’ I would always get defensive and upset,” Jordan said. “Boy band, the term wasn’t used until around that time. I was a little defensive back then. Now, it’s just like whatever. That’s who we are, that’s what we are it’s all good. Yes we are now in man bands, which is a little better. We’re men.”

Watch the complete interview below.

 

 

If that’s not enough for you, you’re in luck. I also chatted with Nick about his reality show, I Heart Nick Carter, which airs on VH1 tonight at 10/9C. He and Jordan were very open with the difficulties that not only they face, but how their wives deal with being married to celebrities. Watch it below.

 

September 10, 2014 | | (0) comment comment
Q&A: Dustin Lynch
CATEGORIES: Q&A

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(Credit: Paul Familetti)

Last November, I visited Nashville for my 29th birthday. The way I saw it — as a country music journalist and country music fan — there was no better place to spend the last year of my 20s than Music City.

While there, I attended a Spotify event that showcased Jennifer Nettles and her upcoming solo material. It was like a scene out of Nashville – country artists and actors from the show Nashville mingled with each other while the liquor flowed.

At the end of the night, I met Dustin Lynch. When the “Where It’s At” singer learned I was from New York he quickly told me that his favorite spot in the City was Serendipity. A self-proclaimed chocoholic and frequent patron of the quaint dessert establishment myself, he told me I should move to Nashville and open Serendipity Nashville. Not a half bad idea for this country music loving chocolate addict. So, when I learned he’d be coming to New York for press on his upcoming sophomore album I knew Serendipity was the perfect spot to catch-up.

 

 

A self-professed sweets fanatic, Lynch said he first stumbled upon Serendipity years ago when he was on the hunt for cheesecake in New York. His publicist had recommended Serendipity.

“We got here and it was like, ‘Wow!’ Every dessert that came out was bigger than life,” he told me.

So what did he think of his Frozen Hot Chocolate?

“Good grief,” Lynch said, after taking his first sip. “The gym has to happen tonight,” he said grinning, before going in for another sip. “We can run to dinner.”

The conversation eventually turned from frozen treats to music—specifically, Lynch’s new album Where It’s At. It’s his sophomore release, and thanks to the popularity of the title track, the momentum is already building fast.

Read my complete interview with Dustin Lynch on Radio.com.

September 9, 2014 | | (0) comment comment
Song of the Week: “One More Time” by Nick & Knight
CATEGORIES: Photo of the Week, Song of the Week

nick and knight

This week was truly a bucket list moment for me as I sat down and interviewed a Backstreet Boy in person. My 12-year-old self was definitely freaking out on the inside. And, I’d be lying if I said my 29-year-old self wasn’t just as excited. You see, I grew up a hardcore Backstreet Boys fan. I attended all the concerts, knew all the words to every song, tried to learn the dance moves, and my childhood bedroom in Jersey was covered from floor to ceiling in posters of the guys. Yes, I even thought one day I’d marry one. (Brian Littrell was my favorite in case you were wondering.)

A few months ago I learned that BSB’s Nick Carter and New Kids On the Block’s Jordan Knight were teaming up to release an album. Fittingly, they named themselves Nick & Knight. Flash forward to this past Wednesday when they came into my office and I sat down with them for an interview. I can’t deny the nerves I had right before they walked into the studio at CBS. But, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I’m a professional.

As the guys were putting on their mics, I just sat there watching them joke with each other, saying they were releasing their first reggae album in questionable accents, asking what kind of animal fur our boom mic was made out of and clearing their throats extremely loud as they were testing the mics. They even took time to compliment me on my dress, saying how much they loved it. (Yes, I was secretly dying on the inside, but surprisingly didn’t blush at all!)

Once I asked my first question the nerves thankfully vanished and I was impressed with how passionate Nick and Jordan still are about creating music and touring. They told me that they approached their debut album with more of an indie outlook than a big, pop boy band record. They also admitted how they hate the term boy band, but it’s something they’ve had to live with for decades now.

You can get a feel of their musical direction in their single “One More Night” below. Stay tuned for my complete interview which will be posted next week which includes both of the guys talking about their debut duo release, the self-titled Nick & Knight, as well as Nick opening up about his reality show I Heart Nick Carter which premieres on Wednesday, Sept. 10 on VH1.

 

 

And for my cousins who are anxiously wondering if I asked Nick to teach me the “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” dance, I didn’t. But that’s not to say that he didn’t do some moves from the video during the interview! Stay tuned for a few fun features I asked the band about too. All in all, sometimes things are well worth the wait and finally sitting down with a Backstreet Boy after all these years really is a dream come true.

September 6, 2014 | | (0) comment comment
Darius Rucker Debuts New Music at CMA Songwriters Series in New York
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews

darius rucker

The CMA Songwriters Series celebrates its 10th anniversary in New York this year and Darius Rucker was along for the party last night (Sept. 3). Just hours after he announced the nominees for this year’s CMA Awards, he joined songwriters Bob DiPiero, Rivers Rutherford and Luke Laird at Best Buy Theater to perform their hits and tell the stories behind the songs they’ve written.

Host DiPiero kicked off the night with his love letter to the South – “Southern Voice” – made famous by Tim McGraw. Rucker followed suit with his love letter to his wife – “Alright.” Co-written with Frank Rogers, Rucker explained how the previous time the two got together they wrote a divorce song and quickly decided that they should try to write songs they can play for their wives.

In addition to playing his brand new single “Homegrown Honey,” a song he wrote with Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley, Rucker debuted “Southern Style.” Written with Rutherford and Tim James, Rucker said the track will be the second single off his fourth country album due out next year. The soulful number praised a woman who was raised in Southern style and is a fan of Lil Wayne and Lynyrd Skynyrd. “I love that song. That song gives me chills,” Rucker admitted once he was done singing it.

Other highlights from Rucker included “Southern State of Mind,” in which he called out a girl in the front row with the song’s title tattooed on her. Earlier, he told the story behind “Let Her Cry,” a song he and his band Hootie and the Blowfish made famous. Written in college after a night of drinking, he explained how the Black Crowes’ “She Talks to Angels” and Bonnie Raitt’s album Home Plate influenced the song. “I went home that night and I wanted to write ‘She Talks to Angels’ for Bonnie Raitt,” he said.

 

 

Standout songs throughout the night included Laird’s “Give Me Back My Hometown,” which he wrote with Eric Church. On his drive from Nashville to North Carolina to meet up with Church for a songwriting session his truck broke down so he bought a new one. Once he got to Church’s cabin he told him, “Man we gotta write a hit because I just bought a truck.” The song would later go on to No. 1 on the country charts, so he got his wish.

Meanwhile, Rutherford made the tears flow with his poignant ballad “Stealing Cinderella,” which he said he wrote with his father-in-law in mind and now dedicates to his two daughters who just left for college.

 

 

“It’s an amazing job. Making shit up and getting paid for it,” DiPiero joked during the show. After listening to the songwriters play and explain each song they wrote for two hours it was easy to see why. Rucker further showcased how inspiration could strike anywhere when he ended the evening with a spirited sing-along of “Wagon Wheel.”

“Wagon Wheel” was written in part by Bob Dylan and later finished by Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show. Though Rucker didn’t write it himself, he managed to put his own personal spin on the track. He explained that the decision to cut the song came from his daughter’s high school talent show. In the midst of making his third album, once he heard the faculty band countrify the song he knew he had to record it.

“I won’t ever cut a song that I don’t want to play for the rest of my life,” he said. “I have to play this for the rest of my life.”

September 4, 2014 | | (2) comment comment
You Sing I Write’s May/June Wrap Up
CATEGORIES: Features, First Person

I had the opportunity to tour with my first band back in 2008 when I was an intern at Rolling Stone. It was not as glamorous as I had previously thought, but an experience nonetheless. The band was Army of Me and I was in a tiny van with four guys as they toured with The Used. While it was a rite of passage I’ll never forget, I’ve always wondered what life on a tour bus is really like and I finally got to find out this year when I spent 24 hours on the road with Hunter Hayes as he broke a Guinness World Record for the most shows in 24 hours in multiple cities.

I spent 24 hours en route on a media bus where I tested out the bunks, realized the awkwardness of using the bathroom and had a newfound appreciation for the road life that so many artists deal with every day. You can read my full recap on Radio.com.

While I may not jump at the chance to travel the country on a tour bus myself, I wouldn’t say no to the next band opportunity. What was even more exciting was that that experience presented me with my first ever music plaque. I have a few softball trophies under my belt, but a music plaque is definitely a first.

That Hunter Hayes experience was just one of several that exhilarated me so far this summer and made me stop and cherish this crazy journey of being a music journalist. Last month, I interviewed Jason Mraz who I had grown up listening to. He was pretty much my college roommate’s life soundtrack and whenever I hear “I’m Yours” I’m always reminded of her ringtone.

I have not been that nervous for an interview in a very long time. I usually still get butterflies, but this time it was a huge knot in my stomach. He turned out to be more than cool and just a super chill person. Basically, exactly what you’d think he’d be like in real life. Watch our chat below.

 

 

Another highlight was interviewing Miranda Lambert. She just released her new album Platinum and while I only got 15 minutes with her, I was taken aback by how down to earth she was. While she’s married to perhaps the most popular man in country, Blake Shelton, she was so incredibly nice and even gave me some hilarious, yet questionable advice about turning 30 in November. “There’s always Spanx and Botox, you’ll be fine.” Watch my interview with her below.

 

 

I was lucky to spend some time chatting with the guys of The Wild Feathers over beers and found a new favorite band in married duo Johnnyswim during an interview. Also, Naughty Boy told me my interview with him was like therapy, which reaffirmed my decision to major in journalism and not psychology. Now I have the best of both worlds!

Stay tuned for more adventures next month. I promise to update more often! In the meantime, follow me on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with my day-to-day.

July 13, 2014 | | (0) comment comment
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Mean to Me
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