31 Days of Women: Hailey Whitters

Credit: Harper Smith

Editor’s Note: In celebration of Women’s History Month, You Sing I Write is highlighting female country artists and songwriters throughout March.

Hailey Whitters moved to Nashville 13 years ago to follow her dream of becoming a country singer. Her latest album, Living The Dream Deluxe, was released in February and follows the singer’s long journey of navigating Music City, while also sharing elements of her small-town Iowa roots.

“My mom brought me to Nashville when I was 15-years-old and we went to the Grand Ole Opry,” Whitters tells me over coffee at Nashville’s Falcon Coffee Bar weeks after making her Opry debut in 2019. “That curtain went up and I saw those lights and that was the moment I was like, ‘This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.’”

Whitters has had several country artists record her songs including Little Big Town (“Happy People”), Alan Jackson (“The Older I Get”) and Martina McBride (“Low All Afternoon,” “The Real Thing”), and now the singer-songwriter is sharing her talent with the world. In 2020, she signed a record deal in partnership with her own label, Pigasus Records, and Big Loud Records/Songs & Daughters.

Below is an excerpt of my interview with Whitters from 2019 shortly after she released her EP, The Days, which she self-funded.

When was the moment you knew you wanted to be an artist?

I come from a non-musical family. I always had this draw to country music, and I have a memory of sitting on the back of my dad’s lawnmower while he mowed the lawn, singing to myself. I think I always had a really strong pull to writing. I remember being in elementary school, and I had a guidance counselor who knew that I had this passion for it, and he asked who I like. I liked the Dixie Chicks and the Spice Girls. He was like, “Well, you know the Dixie Chicks write their own music.” So then I got a guitar and I started dabbling with that.

What was the first song you ever wrote? 

My friends and I, we would try to start a chick band on the playground in elementary school and Spiceworld  had just come out. So we were making up dances and pretending we are the Spice Girls. We wrote this one song. I’m trying to remember how it went … I remember the feeling of writing a song back then. It felt like you could do anything and that’s still a feeling I get today when I write a song that I just love. You walk out and you feel like you’re on top of the world.

What’s the most autobiographical song on your EP?

“Ten Year Town” is probably the most autobiographical song because it feels so up-close and personal. [It’s] very much like my broken heart ballad to Nashville. I wrote that song with Brandy [Clark] two years ago and I was only 10 years into [living in Nashville]. Jake [Gear] was like, “You should change it. You’re only here 10 years.” It’s been this weird universe thing that we’re finally releasing it and I am 12 years in. It was just a weird timing thing.

What’s the story behind “Heartland?”

I was feeling really homesick and just questioning like, “Well, what’s my place in Nashville?” I was writing with Nicolle [Galyon] and Forest [Glen Whitehead]. Nicolle is also from the Midwest, so we started talking about going home and Nashville. [Songwriter] Barry Dean told me once, “Nashville will try and change you and make you someone you’re not. It’ll make you forget who you are and it’s important to find that place or those people that you can go to that bring you back.” That’s always been the Midwest [for me]. The Heartland and everything it stands for: hard work and honesty and good people. That is what always draws me to the Midwest. I like to go back a lot. It keeps me grounded.

For more of my interview with Hailey Whitters, visit Billboard. Her latest project Living the Dream Deluxe, which includes “Fillin’ My Cup” featuring Little Big Town, is out now.

Concert Reviews Features

Little Big Town Host ‘The Breaker’ Release Party at Ryman Auditorium

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.


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.

Concert Reviews

Luke Bryan Brings the Party to Mexico with Crash My Playa 2017

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.

Interviews Q&A

Top 25 Interviews of 2014: No. 8 Little Big Town

I was fortunate to interview Little Big Town back in 2012 for Billboard when their single “Pontoon” was about to hit No. 1. They were as delightful to speak with as you’d imagine and this year I got the chance to sit down with Little Big Town again in our studio in New York as well as attend their album release show for their latest album, Pain Killer. With their first single off the release being called “Day Drinking,” I had to ask them what alcoholic beverage best describes their latest release.

Kimberly Schlapman doesn’t miss a beat. “Fireball!” she asserts, as her three bandmates nod their heads in approval.

Karen Fairchild then asks Kimberly if she has ever tasted the cinnamon-flavored whiskey. “No, but maybe I will,” she jokes.

Meanwhile, Phillip Sweet, who began the interview by singing Taylor Swift‘s “Out of the Woods,” says that Fireball “packs a punch and it’s sweet,” just like Pain Killer.

Karen, on the other hand, likens the new album to an Old Fashioned because “it has a bit of a vintage throwback to it, but it’s strong.”

One of the standout tracks on the album is “Girl Crush,” where Karen takes the lead and sings of how she has a crush of sorts on the object of an ex’s affection.

“I want to taste her lips, yeah ’cause they taste like you/ I want to drown myself in a bottle of her perfume/ I want her long blonde hair/ I want her magic touch/ Yeah, ’cause maybe then you’d want me just as much,” she sings.

“It’s written like a good old country jealousy story,” she explains. “I think we’ve all felt that, where we’ve lost a relationship and been rejected and we look at, ‘What did he want that I didn’t have?’ I think it’s a really easy thing to relate to, and yet you’ve never heard it said in that way.”

Other highlights on the album include “Save Your Sin,” which Phillip likens to a garage band rocking out. For this track Kimberly is on lead vocals, and as Phillip explains, “her voice went to a new place that we’ve not heard her do much of in the past.”

Her secret to getting that guttural growl on the song? Fireball whiskey.

While Kimberly admitted during our interview that she’d never tasted Fireball, that all changed the following night during their album release show. After the band notices a fan holding Fireball in the front row, she remarks, “I get crazy when we talk about Fireball,” confessing that she has never actually tried it. At first, despite prompts from fans to take a swig of it, she refuses. “I can’t do that in public! My mama might see.”

Not wanting to upset fans, though, her defense soon changes. “As far as I know, my mama’s not here tonight,” she says, then she takes a swig. “I feel it. This is kinda like moonshine. Don’t y’all tell my mama, now. I will deny it. I will lie to my mama.”

Catching up with her backstage after the show, I had to ask: Now that she just tried Fireball, does she still liken Pain Killer to the whiskey?

“Yes,” she says as she grabs my hand with a big grin. “It burned all the way down.”

Read more of my interview with Little Big Town at


You Sing I Write’s 12 Most Memorable Interviews of 2012

Josh Turner

2012 was quite the year. In February, I started a new job at CBS full-time where I interview bands, cover concerts and write music news stories every day. Pretty much my dream job that I was starting to doubt existed. In addition to many memorable interviews I finally met John Mayer (!!!), attended my very first music video shoot (Gaslight Anthem!), album listening party (Justin Bieber) and album release/film screening (Rascal Flatts).

Throughout the year I’ve interviewed so many artists and while it was hard to narrow down my favorite interview I’ve compiled a list of my 12 most memorable interviews from 2012. While some allowed me to bring my mom along (Josh Turner), others were over the phone (Gaslight Anthem) but none were any short of interesting. I’m sure 2013 will bring even more excitement. Happy New Year!

12. Rascal Flatts

Rascal Flatts have been making music together for over a decade. With eight albums under their belts, it’s nearly inconceivable that the popular country trio almost called it quits. But they did and I learned this all at a red carpet film premiere in New York where I chatted with the band.

“We’ve been more excited about this one then we’ve been in a long time,” Jay DeMarcus told me of their new album Changed. “We feel like we’ve got renewed energy and a resurgence of the spirit of what Rascal Flatts was about to begin with.”

11. Jerrod Niemann

I know I’m not supposed to be friends with rock stars (at least according to Almost Famous) but country artists make this so difficult! The moment I met Jerrod Niemann I knew it would be a great interview. I started off gushing about my love for Nashville and by the end of the interview we were discussing cowboy boots (he had on a pair of alligator skin boots!). A bit self-conscious about wearing mine in NYC, and finding it a cliche to wear them while interviewing a country artist at that, Jerrod put me at ease. “Hey, everybody thinks I’m crazy most of the time,” he told me. The next week I wore my pair of boots to work twice.

10 and 9. Benny Horowitz and Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem

If you’ve been reading this blog over the years then you know of my obsession with Jersey band The Gaslight Anthem. This interview was also a long time coming. I used to work with drummer Benny Horowitz in college. While attending Rutgers University I was Features Editor for the college paper, The Daily Targum. As editor, one night a week I had to proofread the whole paper before it was sent to the printer. Benny was the Night Pro editor and always talked about the bands he was in. Little did I know a few years later he’d be sharing the stage with Bruce Springsteen and touring the world.

In 2008 during my internship at Rolling Stone I was flipping through the magazine and was in shock when I saw Benny’s band featured as a Breaking Artist. At first I didn’t think it was him, but sure enough once I read the photo caption and contacted all my former co-workers I realized it 100% was him. For four years I tried interviewing the band for various publications but for some reason it just never worked out. My friends would always joke with me that I could interview Taylor Swift and Pat Benatar but not Benny, who I actually knew.

Well, 2012 was finally the year. I interviewed Benny and frontman Brian Fallon after their music video shoot and found out some facts no magazine feature could ever reveal. Truthfully, personally knowing someone who followed his dreams even in the midst of countless obstacles and witnessed success is one of the reasons that has kept me perusing my own passion. When you actually know someone who has succeeded in the industry, you can’t help but think, “I can do that too.” And that’s exactly what Benny has done for me. Knowing that his band could make it into the pages of Rolling Stone made me realize that I too, could make it writing for Rolling Stone. Why not? The sky’s the limit.

The day after I was on the set with the guys for their music video shoot I spoke with Benny on the phone and he informed me that Gaslight’s debut album Sink or Swim was full of desperation because in his mind that was his last shot at music. He had been in bands since he was a kid and in his head if Gaslight didn’t work out he was going to give it all up and get a boring 9 to 5 job. Luckily for him (and the rest of us) that never happened.

8. Gari Lamar Askew II aka John Mayer’s photographer

John Mayer has been an infatuation of mine for quite some time. My former co-workers at WebMD and colleagues at JANE Magazine, heck all my friends, family and acquaintances know of my love for John Mayer. He’s one of those artists who has been such a major part of my life that the idea of meeting and interviewing him was so full of anticipation and high expectations. My dream interview, I’ve been trying for years to get a shot at interviewing him. I even got the okay from but unfortunately he hasn’t been doing many interviews as of late.

So, when I got the email that he’d be signing autographs for fans in New York at a pop-up store I just knew I had to cover it. When I got to the pop-up store location and realized I wasn’t on the press list I instantly felt defeated because with nearly 3,000 fans lined up to meet Mayer too, there was little chance I’d get inside. Luckily, some co-workers started talking to one of the men by the door and it turned out he was John Mayer’s photographer (Gari) who had traveled with him and had photos on display at the exhibit. This guy not only traveled with John, but considers him a friend and only had the nicest things to say about him. After I interviewed him about his experience working with Mayer he was able to get us inside. Gari asked if I was going to talk to John and I suddenly became so shy. This singer who I’ve grown up listening to was standing 10 feet in front of me!

Of course I had to at least say hi, right? After purchasing an album for him to sign for a friend along with something for myself my friend Wendy and I approached the table where he was signing. “Hi, I’m Annie” I said reaching out my hand for him to shake. He looked at me inquisitively and I couldn’t help but wonder if no other fans in line shook his hand. After much coaxing from Wendy for John to take a photo with me he apologized that he wasn’t able to take photos with fans since the line was so long. As the manager clearly wouldn’t let a photo opp happen I assured Mayer that I understood and it was no big deal (although of course I wanted a photo!) As we were ushered to the door he turned to me and said, “Thank you for being so understanding, Annie.”

That was it. I didn’t ask him any burning questions about his music I’ve wondered for years or say anything witty. I simply introduced myself and got something autographed and was ushered out of the store like every other fan in line. No fireworks, nothing remarkable to report. I walked out of the store indifferent and realized — here’s the shocker — John Mayer is just a person like the rest of us. He’s not some musician who should be worshiped or idolized. He’s just another human being working at making a living doing what he loves.

7. One Direction

Having grown up a boy band fan, I can recognize when the next big sensation is coming. Early in the year I received a press release on One Direction, revealing that their first U.S. fan signing brought over 5,000 fans to a local mall in Boston. I mentioned it to my boss and we learned the guys would be in town in a few weeks so we set up an interview.

I had a flashback to the 90s when Backstreet Boys, N’ Sync and 98 Degrees ruled the charts when I saw girls line up hours before their concert at Radio City Music Hall (and heard their screams from the 44th floor of my building!). When I interviewed the boys of One Direction I got a behind-the-scenes look at what life is like for the current music sensation and it wasn’t pretty. With back-to-back interviews lined up on their day off with little but a second break in between, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the guys. A few of them kept remarking how they just wanted to go home while the publicist assured them they just had one more interview (which they didn’t). Just a glimpse into their daily life made me thankful I never became a rock star.

6. Little Big Town

There is no concert I look forward to more than the CMA Songwriters Series held at Joe’s Pub. It’s here that the songwriters and singers from Nashville come and share the story behind their songs and perform in a round. I attended the show Little Big Town were performing at and afterwards interviewed the band for Billboard. The day I sat down with them their ever popular single “Pontoon” just hit No. 1 on the country chart. It became the group’s very first No. 1 hit. Incredibly down to earth, I confessed to the band that I never knew what a pontoon was before their song.

They shared with me the story behind the song and how it was important to showcase their live sound on the new album. In order to channel their live performance, the band came into the studio at 6 p.m. to record as if they were rehearsing for a performance later that night.

“We just wanted to do something different. That was our producer’s idea, Jay Joyce,” Kimberly Schlapman said. “He wanted us to come in like we were playing a show and to have the energy and a little bit pressure like it is to put on a show. He wanted us to sing it live and put us on the spot a little bit. That was his idea and it worked like a charm.”

“I think it’s just a bolder, bigger, more confident sound from us,” Phillip Sweet said. “It’s unapologetic and just honest.”

One Republic

5. OneRepublic

To be honest, I was very fearful this might be my worst interview ever. The guys of OneRepublic were coming to CBS at 8 a.m. for an interview. I only had 15 minutes with them so I know I had to make it quick. From the moment they sat down though I thought it was a bust. When I asked my first question I was greeted by silence.

“You know that part in the car where I said, ‘Can you guys answer some questions today?’ Cue,” frontman Ryan Tedder said to the band.

Man, could I feel my nerves heat up, but he quickly apologized and the interview went on without a hitch.

“Can you ask the question again? I’m going on four hours of sleep here.”

4. Darius Rucker

Back in May I got word that I’d be interviewing Darius Rucker for CBS. In order to understand my complete excitement I have to take you way back to the summer of 2009 when my love for country music began. My best friends Wendy and Deana had been talking about visiting Nashville for quite some time. It just so happened that every June the city of Nashville is transformed into country music heaven as thousands of fans and artists descend on the city for the CMA Music Fest, what used to be known as Fan Fair.

For four days country music fans are treated to live performances and exclusive meet-and-greets with their favorite country artists. The three of us booked our flight and festival package and I wound up covering the nightly press conference and days events for Marie Claire. An outsider to country music, it was also my first time attending a press conference. While I knew the major artists like Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts and Reba, each night I was introduced to new acts. My first night in the press conference was intimidating to say the least. Not an exceptionally outgoing person, I soon learned that in order to get your question in you usually had to yell out to the artist onstage. The first artist in the room was Darius Rucker. The Hootie & the Blowfish frontman recently released his debut country album and would be performing on the main concert stage later that night.

Being my first time in the press room I kept raising my hand in hopes to get my question answered. When the last question was asked and the publicist started to usher him off the stage he pointed in my direction. “You’ve been so patient this whole time,” he said. “What’s your question?” After looking around and realizing he was talking to me I was shocked and thankful to be given a second of his time. So, I asked him how his Hootie fans have reacted to his leap into country music and he told me they’ve embraced and supported his career in country music. Still stunned he pointed me out in the crowd I instantly knew country would become my new favorite genre.

So, early this yeah I finally interviewed Darius one-on-one about his career, writing process, transition into country music and what it’s like working with Lionel Richie. I also filled him in on the fact that he’s pretty much the reason I decided to start covering country music and he actually remembered that time in the press room nearly three years ago!

3. Tristan Prettyman

In June, I chatted with singer-songwriter Tristan Prettyman whose new album Cedar and Gold dropped in September. Formerly engaged to fellow singer Jason Mraz, the album was deemed a breakup album. Reading over all the press material, I wasn’t sure exactly how I’d bring up the elephant in the room, but everything was stated pretty clearly in the press release so I wouldn’t be a good journalist if I didn’t.

The more we talked about the album and her relationship, the closer I came to having to bring up his name. So, I asked if she was nervous to have Jason listen to the album and she revealed that she sent him a few tracks and he responded, remarking at the fact that she didn’t hold anything back.

As Tristan continued to talk about the songs and her relationship she started to tear up and while I wasn’t quite sure whether to keep asking questions, I figured if she felt that uncomfortable she’d let me know. We continued the interview and I was so grateful for her honesty. Writing songs is often like writing in one’s diary and she shared so much of her process and the stories behind her songs with me. After our interview, I have no doubt her release will help a lot of people deal with their own heartbreaks. And that in itself is often the goal for a songwriter.

As far as my future interview goals, while I definitely don’t strive to make anyone cry from the questions I ask them, I hope I do allow them to feel comfortable enough to let their guard down for a moment. I know it’s not always the best idea to be friends with rock stars, but building a 30 minute friendship during our interview can’t hurt, can it?

2. James Valentine

When I found out that I’d be interviewing Maroon 5 guitarist James Valentine I joked with my co-workers about the last time we used a payphone. After listening to their hit single “Payphone” on repeat I knew I had to ask him the same question.

Still trying to implement the idea of making my interviews more like a conversation with a friend, I was a bit nervous but determined to make it work. Having seen Maroon 5 perform the night before I at least had a few good conversation starters. As the interview went on I found my questions fitting seamlessly into the interview with no internal dialogue of “what am I going to ask next?”

By far my favorite interview to date, James Valentine took me behind-the-scenes of his writing process with Adam Levine, how he came to join the band, and of course the last time he used a payphone. This was the first interview I’ve had in a long time that really felt like a conversation with distinct connection.

1. Josh Turner

In September I learned that Josh Turner would be coming in for an interview. My mom’s a huge fan so I HAD to bring her along. I’ve never seen my mom speechless or star struck before so it was a treat to have her sit in on my interview and even ask Josh a few questions of her own. It was during this interview that my mom finally realized what all my hard work, unpaid internships and years of freelance work amounted to and I could tell she was proud. It hasn’t been the easiest journey convincing my family that I would make a career out of music journalism but in 2012 I finally proved it was possible. I have no doubts that 2013 will bring even more fun and a lot more stories to add to that future music memoir! Thanks for joining me for the ride.

Song of the Week

Song of the Week: “Pontoon”

(Credit: Williams + Hirakawa)


I have to be completely honest: I never knew what a pontoon was before I saw Little Big Town’s music video. Growing up in Jersey with a pool in the backyard, we never went to the lake. I never even heard the word pontoon in context until their song.


Earlier this week, I interviewed the band for Billboard and I surveyed my co-workers to find out if they were familiar with this mode of transportation. Turns out everyone knew what a pontoon was except me. Not quite sure if I should admit this to Little Big Town, (my sister said no) I decided I might as well– but waited until the very end of our interview.


The band were good sports and didn’t seem too alarmed. In fact, when preparing for their CMT performance earlier this summer in Las Vegas they said most of the people they talked to there never heard the term either.


So, boat makers everywhere have Little Big Town to thank for teaching us all what a pontoon really is. Their fastest selling single to date, the group is providing pontoon awareness all the way up the country charts.


Join Little Big Town in the water below and stay tuned for my interview with them!


Concert Reviews

Dierks Bentley Electrifies in NYC

The day after his record release, Dierks Bentley celebrated in New York with three back-to-back performances Wednesday night. It’s not every day your favorite country artist comes to New York so some diehard country fans were lucky enough to catch all three sets.

Shortly after 8 p.m., Bentley took the stage with his band and performed “Tip It On Back,” a song off his latest release Home. Throughout his nearly hour set, he played a slew of his high energy hits and got the party started early. While his new material impressed, it was the older fan favorites that had everyone screaming along. “Feel That Fire” struck a chord with Bentley’s deep and familiar vocals with captivating instrumental interludes while “Am I’m the Only One” kicked up the festivities.

“Am I the only one that thinks this is pretty cool getting a chance to play Ed Sullivan Theater with you guys in New York City?” he asked the audience before he began his hit song. “We’re definitely gonna be raising a little bit of hell tonight so I’m glad you’re all here with us. I thought I’d write a special third verse just for all you crazy New York country fans.”

Before he began “5-1-5-0,” Bentley introduced the track as “a song about being crazy about a girl.” The popular “Lot of Leavin’ Left to Do” followed suit with standout banjo and heart pounding drums while Bentley asserted, “This is so much fun!”

Beautiful ballad “When You Gonna Come Around” showcased his more sensitive side with acoustic guitar and dobro. A song he recorded with Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town, he said they’re one of his favorite bands.

What’s a country show without fiddle, dobro and mandolin? Clearly not a Dierks Bentley concert. “Heart of a Lonely Girl” kicked things off with appropriate fiddle accompaniment while next track, “Up On the Ridge” is a “banjo song that talks about moonshine.”  Bentley closed his set with the poignant “Home” and upbeat “What Was I Thinkin'” while shaking hands and throwing guitar picks into the crowd.

“Thank you for making this a night we will never forget.”

After a fun, high energy set, there is no doubt that New York country fans felt the same way. Watch the full performance below.