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Carrie Underwood Performs Aboard Carnival Cruise Ship
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews

Last week I had the pleasure of escaping to the West Coast for a cruise to Catalina Island and Mexico to witness Carrie Underwood perform aboard the Carnival Imagination as part of the Carnival Live concert series. When I started You Sing I Write nearly 10 years ago I never imagined I’d be taking a cruise to cover a concert, I was simply hoping to write about some of my favorite bands. It was an experience I’ll never forget! Read my recap below and for an interview with Carrie, visit Sounds Like Nashville.

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Passengers aboard the Carnival Imagination on Tuesday evening (April 4) were in for a very special treat when Carrie Underwood boarded the cruise ship in Catalina Island for an intimate concert. The singer played a nearly two-hour, 21-song set for a sold-out audience in the 900-seat Dynasty Lounge as part of the ongoing Carnival Live concert series.

Underwood’s performance culminated her year-long partnership with Carnival and Operation Homefront where the singer surprised several military families over the past year with meet and greet opportunities, tickets to her concert as well as a private show aboard the Carnival Vista in New York. Each audience member at Tuesday’s concert received a limited edition dog tag which benefits the Honor, Family, Fun initiative in support of Operation Homefront, an organization aimed at assisting military families.

The country singer was at ease in the intimate venue Tuesday night backed by her eight-piece band. Stories about her family’s whereabouts, her childhood hero Dolly Parton and frequently being told by her mother to “keep it down” when singing to her favorite artists as a child were peppered throughout her set as Underwood gave audience members a rare glimpse into her personal life.

“You guys seem like you’re having a great time,” she said two songs into her performance. “Of course you’re having a great time, you’re on vacation! We just ended a lot of travel. We were up in Toronto for a few days and then had the ACMs the night before last so we’re just going to pretend we’ve been on vacation with you all night long. It’s our night to cut loose and have some fun. Feel free to sing and dance and do whatever it is you want to do. There are no rules!”

Underwood segued effortlessly between the upbeat songs like “Good Girl” and “Cowboy Casanova” to poignant ballads including “Heartbeat” and “Jesus Take the Wheel,” a song she said she’ll sing a million more times and it will mean just as much, if not more, to her as the first time she heard it. Prefacing previous No. 1 “Heartbeat,” she dedicated the song to her husband before confessing that she wasn’t quite sure where he was.

“I see a lot of couples in the room. I don’t do too many love songs. When I was writing this one, it felt kind of nice,” she admitted. “I thought my husband could use it because I seem to write a lot of cheating songs and killing songs. He’s probably like, ‘What am I doing wrong?’ This one’s for my husband, wherever he is. Is he at home? Is there a home game tonight?”

After finishing “Heartbeat,” she told the audience that her husband, NHL Nashville Predators player Mike Fisher, had a home game that night.

“I know where my husband is. I feel like we’ve been away from home for a while so it’s nice to sing a little love song and think about him. He’s going to be gone when I get home,” she said as she received a collective “aw” from the audience. “I know! It’s all right. That’s our lives. My son will be there. He’s the one I really wanted to see.”

For more of my review, visit Sounds Like Nashville.

April 11, 2017 | | (0) comment comment
Tin Pan South 2017 Takes Over Nashville
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews

The 25th Annual Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival was held last week in Nashville, Tenn. The world’s largest songwriters festival, the week included nightly showcases around Music City featuring some of the biggest talent in country music. I was on hand to cover the festival where I spent my nights catching sets by Old Dominion, Mickey Guyton, Kristian Bush, Craig Campbell and many more.

The combined talents of Old Dominion’s Matthew Ramsey and Trevor Rosen alongside frequent collaborators Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne amass countless No. 1 songs that include everyone from Kenny Chesney and Dierks Bentley to Miranda Lambert and Sam Hunt. The friends and co-writers kicked off night one of the 25th Annual Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival on Tuesday (March 28) at The Listening Room in Nashville where the evening served as part writers round and part comedy show.

Ramsey, Rosen, McAnally and Osborne have been writing together for years and that camaraderie was showcased throughout their 90-minute set as the good friends frequently finished each other’s sentences and poked fun at each other. “We’re going to play some songs for you guys,” he told the packed room. “Hopefully you’ll know some of these. We are not all collectively Old Dominion but half of us are.”

McAnally then jumped in, pointing to Ramsey and Rosen while telling the crowd they were Old Dominion and he and Osborne were Young Dominion as the audience laughed. After back-to-back No. 1 songs with McAnally’s “American Kids” which was a hit for Chesney and Rosen’s “Sangria” which topped the charts for Blake Shelton, it was Ramsey’s turn to play.

“I remember moving to Nashville and wanting to be a part of Tin Pan South and I couldn’t afford to even come into a show so this is nice to be here,” he reflected. “It’s even weirder that I’m about to play a song that’s a hit that I wrote that I also am in the band that performs it. It’s pretty mind blowing whenever that happens.”

He then segued into Old Dominion’s most recent No. 1 with “Song for Another Time” as fellow band member Rosen assisted on guitar and harmonies. For my complete recap on their showcase, visit Sounds Like Nashville.

The Late Late Night with Creative Nation showcase at Tin Pan South 2017 was one not to be missed and those attending the songwriters festival were well aware as the line to get into the show wrapped around the building and down the street of the Listening Room. For nearly two hours on Wednesday (March 29), those lucky enough to get in the door witnessed four of Nashville’s most respected songwriters perform up-close and tell the stories behind their hit songs.

Longtime friends and co-writers Natalie Hemby, Lori McKenna, Luke Laird and Barry Dean, all writers with Creative Nation, played in the round and the evening tugged on the emotions. At one point, after several heavy-hitting songs were played, Dean joked that maybe Kleenex should be a sponsor while Laird advised the audience to take an Uber home.

“After a night of hearing some more of these songs you may want to call an Uber. There is going to be a lot of alcohol sold and a lot of picking yourself up off the ground,” Laird reasoned.

Fittingly, Hemby kicked off the round with her most recent No. 1 song, Justin Moore’s “You Look Like I Need a Drink.”

“If you live in Nashville you have to write a drinking song eventually,” she mused. “We’re a drinking town with a music problem.” Read my recap here.

Additional highlights of Tin Pan South included the CMA Songwriters Series showcase, Mickey Guyton, Rick Brantley, Victoria Banks and Tenille at The Station Inn and Kristian Bush and Craig Campbell’s set at 3rd & Lindsley.

April 8, 2017 | | (0) comment comment
Dashboard Confessional End Nashville Residency with Fiery Sold-Out Show
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews

Dashboard Confessional closed their fifth and final night at Nashville’s Basement East on Tuesday (Feb. 28) to a sold-out crowd. The packed room had longtime fans singing along word for word throughout the band’s lengthy catalog that spanned back to 2000’s The Swiss Army Romance.

The band’s residency was a homecoming for the musicians and the evening struck a chord with frontman Chris Carrabba, who remarked that he loved being able to drive to work every day. “It’s weird to be able to drive to work,” he admitted mid-set. “This week has been the best week of my entire life.”

Some famous fans in attendance agreed, as Kacey Musgraves and Paramore’s Hayley Williams posted videos of themselves singing along throughout the night. As Musgraves noted, Dashboard were “making my dreams come true tonight.”

Carrabba & Co. kicked off their set shortly after 10 p.m. with “Vindicated” and as the first guitar lick was played the venue erupted into screams. While the audience sang along, Carrabba wasn’t convinced they were fully into the show.

“Stop acting like you’re in L.A. and put your hands up,” he commanded.

The audience more than obliged and the Basement East quickly turned into a sweaty rock club as Dashboard fired through their set. While many of the songs played were well over a decade old, you’d never know it based on the audience’s reaction. Hands were in the air and voices were at an all time high screaming along.

Several songs into the set Carrabba asked if the crowd liked love songs. “You wanna sing a love song?” he asked before slowing down the performance for fan favorite “Stolen.”

“We live here too,” Carrabba later said. “It’s nice to be home with you guys. This is the last of a six-night stint and I really don’t want it to end.”

Throughout the band’s 90-minute set, they peppered in some new music. One song was the striking “We Fight,” which urges the listener to make his voice heard among those who frequently try to shut him down. “Somewhere there’s a kid who needs to hear this,” Carrabba sang alongside soaring guitar accompaniment.

“I never really fit in anywhere,” Carrabba prefaced the song, adding that finding music helped him feel included. “The thing that I’ve always loved about this music scene is that when I look around at a show, everyone is represented. There are people of every race and who practice every religion . . . we all seem to get along in here.”

He then urged concertgoers to bring that acceptance outside of the club and into our everyday lives. It’s a statement we can all get behind. Following the performance of “We Fight,” Carrabba closed the wall between performer and audience once again as his band left the stage and he was alone with his voice and his acoustic guitar. His three-song solo set included “The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most,” “Ghost of a Good Thing” and “The Swiss Army Romance.”

The night was far from over and when the band rejoined Carrabba on the stage they kicked the energy right back up where they left off. Highlights included the impassioned “Screaming Infidelities” and set closer “Hands Down.” Not quite ready to leave, as the song came to an end Carrabba asked the crowd if they had “a little more” for another sing along of the chorus. They did and the night ended in an epic sing along.

“See you soon,” he promised his Nashville neighbors. “If you see me on the road stop and say hi. I like people.”

March 2, 2017 | | (0) comment comment
Little Big Town Host ‘The Breaker’ Release Party at Ryman Auditorium
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews, Features

I had the pleasure of interviewing Little Big Town earlier this month about their new album The Breaker, how Justin Timberlake and Pharrell Williams helped inspire the project and much more. On Friday, they kicked off the first-ever residency at Ryman Auditorium and brought out surprise guests Chris Stapleton and Sam Hunt as well as played many of their hits and their new album in its entirety. Below is an excerpt of my review.

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Little Big Town made history on Friday night (Feb. 24) when they kicked off the first-ever Ryman Auditorium residency. Dubbed “Little Big Town at the Mother Church,” the band’s stay was initially announced for six nights and then extended to nine due to overwhelming popularity.

Each of the band’s nine shows at the Ryman will feature different support acts and surprise special guests and the residency’s start did not disappoint. Both Sam Hunt and Chris Stapleton graced the stage while Brent Cobb opened the show. Throughout Little Big Town’s set, the country quartet performed their new album, The Breaker, front to back as well as threw in several older fan favorites. Meanwhile, the excitement and the honor to be the first act to play a residency at the famed venue was not lost on Little Big Town.

“Oh my goodness were at the Ryman everybody!” Kimberly Schlapman said three songs into the set. “And we’re here all year long! We are so excited about this night y’all. We worked on this record for over a year and we’re so happy. We’re going to do this two times. We’re going to play this record once tonight and tomorrow and that’ll be it the whole way down. So thank you for being here. We hope we remember the words but you won’t notice if we don’t!”

Friday was a special day for the quartet as it marked the release of their seventh studio album, The Breaker. In celebration, Little Big Town played the entirety of the record track by track kicking things off shortly before 9:30 with the upbeat Lori McKenna and Hailey Whitters-penned “Happy People.” The spotlights shined brightly on all four members throughout each song as their voices echoed within the venue’s church pews and stained glass windows.

Highlights included the stunning “Free” which showcased the quartets striking harmonies, the beautifully nostalgic “We Went to the Beach” and the synth-heavy ’80s rock throwback “Drivin’ Around,” which Audra Mae was a co-writer on. Following the band’s energetic performance, Karen Fairchild called out the songwriter who was in attendance.

“Maybe you should come tomorrow night and sing it with me,” Fairchild suggested. “If you’re not from Nashville you might not know, but we have the best songwriters in the world. So many of the writers are here tonight who collaborated with us on this record. We are really blessed and fortunate that we get to live in this town and we get to create music with these people. Thank you to all the writers that are here tonight, thank you for sharing your talents with us.”

For more of my live review visit Sounds Like Nashville.

February 27, 2017 | | (0) comment comment
Luke Bryan Brings the Party to Mexico with Crash My Playa 2017
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews

A photo posted by Annie Reuter (@yousingiwrite) on

It’s hard to believe exactly one week ago I was soaking up the sun and on a beach covering a music festival in Mexico! I was lucky enough to be asked back to cover Luke Bryan’s third annual Crash My Playa festival in Mexico this past weekend for Sounds Like Nashville. For four days, nearly 60,000 country music fans flew to Mexico to witness country music in a picturesque setting. Hosted by Bryan, each day included poolside concerts and nightly performances on the beach at the Barceló resort in Riviera Maya.

While each night boasted a new headliner — Little Big Town, Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton — Saturday night was the most memorable evening as Shelton had an hour-long encore where many of his famous friends made a surprise appearance.

“It’s 11:06. I think that’s time to rock,” Shelton said after performing “Footloose,” his first song during the encore. Moments later girlfriend Gwen Stefani ran onto the stage for a high intensity one-song set of No Doubt’s “Hella Good” where she had everyone jumping on her command.

“Holy! That’s Gwen Stefani for real,” Shelton said after Stefani left, blowing him a kiss. “That’s gonna cost Luke. We are in overtime so we can do whatever the hell we want. I’m tired of my own songs. I want to play other people’s songs. Let’s see what happens.”

Shelton’s band then became the karaoke bar band for the remainder of the evening. As the familiar opening riff from George Strait’s “All My Ex’s Live In Texas” was played Bryan entered the stage to join in on the fun. Several minutes later Little Big Town made their appearance to assist on Restless Heart’s “The Bluest Eyes in Texas” where they stayed for the remainder of the night.

Drinks in hand for each singer, the country stars and friends then performed covers of Rhett Akins’ “That Ain’t My Truck,” Billy Joel’s “My Life,” Mel McDaniel’s “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On,” Brooks & Dunn’s “Neon Moon,” The Bellamy Brothers’ “If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body,” Rupert Holmes’ “Escape (The Pina Colada Song),” Hank Jr.‘s “Family Tradition,” Dwight Yoakam’s “Guitars, Cadillacs” and Garth Brooks’ “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old).” It was an epic end to Shelton’s previous 90-minute set.

Throughout the weekend I had the pleasure of chatting with Dustin Lynch, Old Dominion, Brothers Osborne, Brooke Eden and Adam Craig. Stay tuned for my interviews and to read each nightly recap, visit Sounds Like Nashville.

January 26, 2017 | | (0) comment comment
Willie Shaw & Friends Raise Hundreds for Cancer Awareness in Nashville
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews

Rascal Flatts

Photos by Rachel Deeb

Willie Shaw kicked off the first of a new monthly pop series at The Country on Friday (Jan. 13) in Nashville. Each month, Shaw and other local musicians on the lineup will dedicate the money made from performance tips to a new cancer charity.

January’s charity of choice is Vincible, a film project that aims to raise awareness for the faceless young adult cancer demographic. More than 70,000 people between the ages of 15 and 39 are diagnosed with cancer each year. The film will follow 27-year-old cancer survivor, Kayla Redig, as she creates a voice for those suffering with cancer.

“As musicians, we’ve been given a gift to bring people together and to do good,” Shaw said in between sets, urging those in attendance to donate money to the cause. His persuading worked as the evening raised over $500.

Performances throughout the night included Shaw, Pocket Change, Kate Puckett, Jackson Dreyer and Dakota Bradley. A versatile mix of pop music, the first installment of The Country Goes Pop was a success as each band captivated the packed bar.

Shaw kicked off the evening with a soulful set where his impressive falsetto often brought to mind Justin Timberlake. In fact, Shaw said that one song called “Falling In Love” was inspired by JT. It was easy to see the resemblance with Shaw’s sultry vocals alongside a backing band that infused jazz and soul music.

Meanwhile, the funky “Down Low Lover” switched gears with a grooving bass line that highlighted his voice and kept the crowd dancing along.

Pocket Change followed suit and brought their blend of soul, rock, pop and hip-hop to the venue. The Season 1 contestants of televised music competition American Supergroup energized with several originals as well as covers including Jay Z and Justin Timberlake’s “Holy Grail” and Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black.” Alternating lead vocalist, at times their set brought to mind the Black Eyed Peas with pulsating beats, rap features and powerhouse singing from female lead Kendra Chantelle.

P_Change1

 

While Pocket Change’s intensity made them a tough act to follow, Kate Puckett welcomed the challenge as she strapped on a keytar for her first song. Her ethereal vocals captivated her audience as she performed several songs off her forthcoming EP Break due out later this month. Puckett’s sing-along cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” had her jumping around the stage and the audience doing the same from the floor.

Kate Puckett

For more information on the monthly pop concert, keep up-to-date with Willie Shaw. The next two installments will be held on Feb. 17 and March 4 at The Country.

January 17, 2017 | | (0) comment comment
Blake Shelton Shuts Down Music Row
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews

Blake Shelton

Blake Shelton has come a long way since 1994. In the ’90s, the then-mullet-wearing singer would drive past Music Row in hopes that one day he’d have a record deal. Wednesday, (Sept. 23) thousands of fans flocked to that very same spot to catch a free concert by the singer—a fact that was not lost on him.

“I have been coming back and forth to this town since 1994,” he told the crowd on a stage set up outside of Warner Music Nashville’s offices for the label’s final Pickin’ on the Patio performance of the season. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d see this street blocked off and watch this many people sing along to my songs.”

For nearly an hour, Blake and his band performed for the crowd. While the show didn’t start until after 6 p.m., fans had been lining up for hours, some fainting in the hot Nashville sun as they waited for the singer to take the stage.

“Well, holy hell. I am shocked and honored that this many people came out to see me today,” he said two songs into his set. “Look at all these people. There are country music freaks out here!”

Before he began to perform “Mine Would Be You,” he informed the crowd that many of the songwriters behind his hits were in the audience. He added, “Welcome to Nashville. This is country music.”

For my complete review, visit Nash Country Weekly.

September 26, 2015 | | (0) comment comment
Top Musical Moments at CRS 2015
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews, Features

garth brooks

(Ben Krebs © GCOM)

Each year, thousands of radio professionals travel to Nashville for the Country Radio Seminar (CRS). The annual three-day gathering is packed with live music, industry-related panels, parties and surprises, and this year I was lucky enough to attend and to take it all in.

Between artist interviews, label showcases and even a few ‘secret’ events, I covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time. There were tons of highlights, but below I’ve singled out my top 10 CRS moments. For the rest of the list, visit Radio.com.

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1. Garth Brooks’ Secret Club Show

Garth Brooks came out of retirement last year and has been selling out arenas ever since. So, to witness the country singer live at a small club with a few hundred people was an experience that will likely never happen again. Though he has been off the grid for nearly 20 years, it was impossible to tell. He put on the show with the same energy as if it was a sold-out gig at Madison Square Garden. In addition to playing some new material off his latest release Man Against Machine, Brooks’ set spanned his catalog of hits including “The Dance,” “The Thunder Rolls,” “Callin’ Baton Rouge” and fan favorite “Friends In Low Places.”

2. Keith Urban’s Intimate Midnight Show

Keith Urban is no stranger to the spotlight. He is in homes across the nation every week as a judge on American Idol, but in the early hours of Friday morning it was as if he took CRS attendees into his own home. Shortly after midnight, Urban took to the historic Ryman stage where a carpet engulfed his music gear. Urban performed his first few tracks alone and it was as if we were in his living room having a conversation. Throughout his hour set, he played most of his previous hits stripped down on acoustic guitar, banjo and piano and even filled the audience in on his writing process. Before he began “Somebody Like You,” he said the track was written with the help of a drum machine and his old six-string banjo. Other highlights included a brief cover of “Jessie’s Girl” into “Long Hot Summer” at the start of his set, a piano version of “Somewhere In My Car” and “Kiss a Girl,” where he invited audience members to join him onstage and take over the mic to have their own moment in the spotlight.

3. Dinner Cruise with Cheap Trick

A dinner cruise isn’t complete without some music, and Sony’s 29th annual CRS boat show did not disappoint. The night included a sit-down meal with live performances from Sony’s roster while sailing down the Cumberland River. While highlights included Trisha Yearwood‘s moving cover of Linda Ronstadt’s “Blue Bayou,” Jake Owen‘s powerful new single “What We Ain’t Got” and Brad Paisley‘s impressive cover of Van Halen‘s “Hot for Teacher,” it was the surprise performance by Cheap Trick that had everyone on their feet. The band walked out on the stage as Paisley was covering their song “I Want You To Want Me” and stayed to perform “Surrender,” “Ain’t That a Shame” and “Dream Police.”


4. Dierks Bentley’s ’90s Country Cover Band

When he’s not on tour (and working on how to prank his tourmates), Dierks Bentley likes to play in another band called Hot Country Nights. This band however, is not like anything you’ve ever seen before. Hot Country Knights is Bentley’s ’90s country cover band and he and his friends really get into the roll complete with costumes and ridiculously awesome wigs. On Wednesday (Feb. 25) night Bentley called on friends Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum‘s Charles Kelley, Randy Houser, Kip Moore and Brothers Osborne to join him at The Stage on Broadway to make some very special music. Highlights included covers of Alan Jackson’s “Chattahootchee,” Brooks & Dunn’s “My Maria,” Shania Twain’s “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under” and a very disturbing Russian rendition of Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart.

5. Lee Brice’s Sold-Out Show at Ryman Auditorium

A year ago, Lee Brice released the video for “I Don’t Dance,” which was shot at an empty Ryman Auditorium. This past week he returned to the famous venue, and there wasn’t a single empty seat—a situation that was not lost on him. “I cannot believe this,” he said between songs. “The last time I stood on this stage I was filming a music video and there was not a soul here. I was dreaming of the day when it would be filled completely, and so here we are.” Throughout his set, Brice demonstrated his prowess and versatility for songwriting and entertaining. The show had peaks and valleys, and while his more tender songs like “I Don’t Dance,” “Love Like Crazy” and “More Than a Memory” silenced the room, tracks like “Drinking Class,” “Parking Lot Party” and “Beer” transformed the Mother Church of Country Music into a tailgate party, showcasing the best of both worlds.

March 9, 2015 | | (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
CMJ 2013: 5 Bands to Watch
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews, Features

cmj2013

 

Last week, hundreds of bands and music industry professionals ascended onto New York for the annual CMJ Music Marathon. While many acts attended with the goal to be signed by a label or simply get their name out there, artist Will Hoge offered advice during his set Wednesday night at the Bell House. Urging artists not to simply play a festival in hopes to get signed, he said they should instead hit the ground running by buying a van big enough to fit the band and their friends and tour the country themselves.

“If you want to follow your dream, you don’t want to ask permission,” he told the crowd. “It may take a long time. It may take five years, ten years, 15 years. You just don’t know. You could be a long way from home.”

5. Will Hoge

Hoge knows this firsthand as he’s been working in music for 15 years. While he wasn’t exactly on the official CMJ lineup, his performance was during the festival and as a few badge holders trickled into his set, he was a reminder of how hard work, persistence, and a little luck are essential for a career in music. His show acted as a an album release party and tour kickoff and his blend of country and rock reaffirmed just why he’s so highly regarded in the music community.

 

 

4. Marc Scibilia

During his set, Marc Scibilia, played many of the songs from his most recent EP, The Shape I’m In, released last month. ”I almost missed two flights today. Fortunately, I only missed one flight. I spent a lot of time in the airport but I’m here now so it’s fine,” he said before he began to play “The Shape I’m In.” It was a fitting introduction, as the song details the many miles he’s traveled in life.

 

 

3.Tommy & the High Pilots

Santa Barbara-based band Tommy & the High Pilots performed Friday night as part of my work showcase. The moment they took the stage the energy in the room changed with their radio-friendly pop-rock. Playing songs off their latest album, Only Human, the band urged the crowd to dance along for their last track “Outta My Head.” The band’s upcoming tour with the Plain White T’s and Parachute will likely shine a light on their catchy choruses and strong pop sensibilities.

 

 

2. Rocket & the Ghost

Part of why I love attending CMJ is that you can walk into any venue throughout New York and never quite know what you’ll find. On Wednesday, I went to meet my roommate at The Living Room to check out a few bands. As soon as I heard the first notes being played by Rocket & the Ghost I was hooked. It’s hard to believe that the band will be releasing their debut Self-Titled EP in November as they had this distinct professionalism and command of the stage that made them look like lifers.

 

 

1. James Bay

Another artist who was part of Radio.com‘s acoustic set Friday night, from the moment James Bay took the stage I was entranced. His soulful vocals are reminiscent to Ray Lamontagne and once he swapped his acoustic for an electric guitar the comparisons to John Mayer were undeniable. The only difference: Bay seems more sentimental, even singing of having butterflies at the beginning of a relationship. Key line: “I realize you’re all I need. I hope I’m not too late.”

 

 

October 23, 2013 | | (0) comment comment
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