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.
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.
Last week, I saw Yuna perform at Highline Ballroom in New York after my roommate raved about her and said she’d be an artist I like. Well, she was right. At the show there was something so familiar about her music, and the next day I realized that a friend of mine pitched her to me nearly three years ago.
“I think the most interesting thing about her is that she doesn’t compromise her Muslim beliefs but doesn’t drown her lyrics in religion,” she told me.
I couldn’t agree more. Her songs are so uplifting and while she dresses elegant and conservatively for a pop star, the Malaysian singer-songwriter grabs the concertgoer’s attention right off the bat. One song in and I was an immediate fan.
Before the show, a friend sent me her latest single “Rescue” and it struck a chord. It’s funny how sometimes the right song finds you. Lately, I’ve been questioning a lot of things, career-wise. While it’s my dream to move to Nashville, is it really realistic? More than anything, I miss the freedom of writing what I want every day, discovering new bands I’m passionate about and writing about them. That’s why I’ve vowed to throw myself back into this blog in 2014. At the end of the day, this is my personal resume and I’ll look back in 10, 20 years and remember that concert I attended that changed my perspective on life, that chance star-sighting at a bar in Nashville, and of course all the band interviews along the way.
Yuna’s lyrics also helped put this all in perspective:
“She thinks she’s all alone and all her hopes are gone and so I wrote this song so she can move along. Things were bad. She was in despair. Things were bad and you were never there, but things were bad, she came up for air. She said a little prayer, she found herself. Yeah she’s got light in her face, she don’t need no rescuing she’s okay.”
So it’s been over a week since I’ve come back from Nashville and I’m already feeling nostalgic. There is a reason they call it Music City — music is literally everywhere you go. And not just country music. Just being there a few days I ran into several indie bands I had already interviewed or seen perform in New York. Upon entering any bar I’d strike up a conversation with someone who was, nine times out of ten, a musician. Maybe gravitating to people in music is a natural thing for me, but I always enjoy the conversation.
I was lucky to have met Saints of Valory on the night of my birthday in Nashville. They were in town for a show the next evening, sharing the bill with another band I interviewed earlier this year, Terraplane Sun. That’s the thing about Nashville, it’s such a small town that later that night we were at a bar when Terraplane Sun walked in and later Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys (!!!). To say it was a great birthday is an understatement.
The next morning my friend and I listened to Saints of Valory’s new single “Neon Eyes” and really liked what we heard. Their hand-clapped rhythms and catchy choruses kept us coming back for more. Their EP Possibilities is just a hint of what’s to come. With a full-length on the way next year, this is one band to keep on your radar. If you’re in New York tomorrow, catch them at Mercury Lounge. Listen below.
When I really like a song I tend to keep it on repeat. That’s what happened when I first heard Eli Young Band‘s “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” last year. The best songs have something that allows the listener connect, and this song definitely had that for me. “Keep on dreaming even if it breaks your heart,” they sing. Something relatable to me, I likened it to my dream of being a music journalist. There are so many obstacles thrown at you if you decide to really go for that dream and at times it all seems nearly impossible.
For me, this rang all too true as I was struggling last January to make life as a freelancer work. Down to just a month of rent in my savings account, I often wondered why the heck I decided to pursue this field. Hearing this song reaffirmed that dream. If something is truly worth fighting for, there will be obstacles thrown at you. You just have to embrace them and figure out a way to combat them. “You gotta keep believing if you wanna know for sure.”
Upon reaching out to all my contacts, I learned that CBS Local had just started a music department. I applied and a week later had three interviews lined up that led to a job offer. This past weekend, several people asked me how I came to work at CBS when I helped host a music memoir workshop for Girls Write Now. It was a long journey, but the words I kept repeating was that music journalism was all I ever dreamed of doing and if you work hard enough for something it will all work out. At least that’s what happened to me and I’m constantly reminded of this whenever I hear “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” on the radio.
I was lucky enough to interview the songwriter behind this song earlier this month. Sitting down with Will Hoge on his tour bus and him telling me how the song came together was so intriguing. He wrote the song with Eric Paslay, who he described as being fresh in the music scene and still very optimistic. Hoge, on the other hand, has been struggling for 15 years to make his dream work and was slightly more realistic when it came to music. While Paslay came up with part of the chorus, “keep on dreaming,” Hoge added in “even if it breaks your heart.” Listen to Hoge’s version below.
With my high school reunion approaching and one of my close friends getting married next weekend, I thought this song was fitting for my song of the week. A sweet sentiment, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s song hits close to home as it’s so true — you can’t make old friends.
I’m blessed to still consider my best friends girls that I grew up with and met in middle school (and obsessed about boy bands with). It’s crazy to think I still keep in touch with people I met when I was 10-years-old, but over the years they’ve come to be my biggest supporters and I really don’t know what I’d do without them. It’s so rare to have friends that you’ve known for nearly two decades and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Kenny Rogers’ album, You Can’t Make Old Friends, will be released this Tuesday, October 8th. I’m interviewing him tomorrow for Radio.com so stay tuned for my complete article!
Last week, I interviewed Train frontman Pat Monahan. While we chatted a lot about songwriting and country music, he also touched upon the influence love has in his music. In fact, he admitted that most of the songs he writes are about love. “That’s all music is. That’s all movies are. That’s all anything is. When you look at all things in this world, everything is about love,” he told me.
One of my favorite tracks on their last album California 37 is a stripped down song called “Feels Good At First” which details the start of a relationship, when everything is going well. When I told him this, he confessed that it’s one of his songs that he really hopes to hear on the radio. Read a snippet of my interview below and for the rest visit Radio.com.
How did “Feels Good At First” come together?
I wrote that song with Allen Shamblin outside Nashville, Tennessee. Somehow Allen inspired that vibe in me. It’s a definite truth, that song. I sent it to my manager in New York and he was like, “How did you think of this? Actually, the better question is, how is this the first time anyone has thought of this?” He said, “It’s so simple. It’s so true. Love feels so good at first and then it starts to get funny and complex.” I don’t know why that song got written but it’s definitely a real place inside of me.
Is there any chance you’ll release “Feels Good At First” as a single?
That would be amazing. If you said to me, “Hey, is there a dream song?” That would be it. My manager is so a believer in that song that he had us do a video for it to put it out on YouTube and get wheels rolling. When we do that song in Europe I don’t even have to sing it, they sing every word. That’s my dream-come-true song if we can get that on the radio somehow.
This week I had the fortunate pleasure of seeing Jack Johnson perform live for the first time and then interviewed him in person. As a result, I’ve had his music on repeat all week and have found myself in an incredibly relaxed state. While his new album From Here To Now To You doesn’t come out until September, he gave me a preview of what to expect (see interview below). In the meantime, listen to his popular track “Banana Pancakes,” which I’ve had stuck in my head all week!
While the album is populated with love songs for his wife Kim (like first single “I Got You”), others are written through the eyes of his children.
“I have three wonderful kids and its fun to look at the world through their eyes,” he told me earlier this week. “It’s inspiring. And then I have a few love songs. Its just usually me trying to make my wife laugh and then they end up being the songs.”
One of those love songs on the album is “Never Fade,” a track Johnson played Monday evening. “Picture a Bill Withers drum beat,” he said before he began to strum the song on his acoustic guitar. When discussing the song with us the following day, he explained the difficulties of playing his music solo.
“Sometimes when you have it on a record you picture or hear the production a certain way,” he explained. “I hear the drums when I’m playing so when I’m playing that song alone I miss my drummer or I miss having the ukulele on top or the bass line. ‘Never Fade,’ when I play that one alone it feels particularly sparse to me but the story is still there and I have to remind myself that that’s the way I would hear it because when I wrote it, it was like that.”
For my complete interview with Jack Johnson, visit Radio.com.
I have been playing this song on repeat all week. While part of it was because I was preparing for my interview with Robin Thicke (yes, that’s us above!), the other part is that this track is so undeniably catchy. It instantly makes me dance in my chair, which is a little awkward if you pass by my desk at work. I talked with Robin Monday for Radio.com about the song, which just went to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
“In the studio, Pharrell and I started jamming,” he told me. “One of the first things Pharrell did was go, ‘Hey, hey, hey!’ and then we started having such a great time. We were dancing around the studio like old men. We were doing our old men barbecue dances.”
Pharrell and Thicke found themselves dancing around the studio all night to “Blurred Lines,” but he never fathomed the reception it would receive a year later.
“We felt like maybe it was something special but it was so different,” he admitted. “We didn’t know it would be this big.”
Read my complete article at Radio.com and stay tuned for my video interview with Robin where he told me what to expect from his upcoming album and gave me some love advice.
David Nail will always hold a special place in my career. In 2009, I flew to Nashville to cover CMA Fest for the first time. I instantly fell in love with the city, the music, and every artist I met. I was very much a country newbie and a bit intimidated but everyone I met was so incredibly friendly my nerves quickly disappeared.
I headed over to a stage right off the main strip of downtown Nashville to see Nail perform right before I interviewed him. I figured it’d make good research and it did. At this point, he was about to release his debut album and was pitched to me as being one of country music’s latest heartthrobs. He was.
It’s been fun to watch his success over the years and his singles climb to the top of the country charts. He has such a distinct emotive quality in his voice. Whether he’s singing of heartbreak on his first single “Red Light” or cheating on “Let It Rain” you can’t help but feel for him and take his side in every song.
His latest single, “Whatever She’s Got” shows a different side of him, though. More upbeat, he said it’s the first track of his that he’s ever seen his wife dance along to. That has to tell you something. Listen below and stay tuned for new music from him later this summer.