Posted tagged ‘Music’

New Music Review: “Long Way Back” by Hillbilly Vegas

October 31, 2014

I must confess, when I stumbled upon Hillbilly Vegas a few weeks ago, I didn’t know what to expect.

As I looked at the name, I imagined Duck Dynasty meets the guys from Pawn Stars. In reality, after checking out their website, and listening to a ton of their music, I’ve found them to be more of a mixture of Blackhawk, Bon Jovi and John Mellencamp. Sounds good, right?

They intrigued me and I can say that I’ve been listening to their upcoming single, “Long Way Back”, on repeat for the last 8 hours straight (and I’m still not tired of it). From the vocals of lead singer Steve Harris, to the guitar work of Johnny Reed, as well as the rest of the band including Troy Hollinger, Robb Edwards and Stacey Thornburg, this song, which was co-written by Harris and Reed, is destined to be a hit.

Vegas

Before I get to the music, let me start with a little background.

“Long Way Back” is a very special song for the members of Hillbilly Vegas. According to the band, the upcoming video is going to be used by an organization known as Battle Saint who works tirelessly raising money to build treatment facilities for PTSD and traumatic brain injuries in returning veterans.  The Zac Brown Band and the creators of HBO’s Band of Brothers are also supporters of the organization.  The soon to be released video for “Long Way Back” will feature the great things Battle Saint does along with a number of veterans and their families. I, for one, can’t wait.

Now, onto the song itself:

Judging by the description above, this obviously isn’t a song simply about graduating high school and getting out of town as fast as you can. There’s a lot more to it than that, and that’s why “Long Way Back” is indeed a special song. While the melody and the music pull you in, it’s the lyrics that hooked me, and reminded me of my adolescence and my own struggle, wanting to get out of where I was. They say the grass is always greener, right? In the end, I knew it would be a long way back, and I still haven’t gotten there just yet.

“There’s a two-lane, blacktop, leading in and out of town”

I think a lot of us can relate to that.I grew up in Petaluma, California, which was about 30,000 people when I lived there. For the most part, we had two roads in and out of town, and both were just two lanes. It’s a symbol of old town America, the towns we grew up in.

“…and nothing ever happens no matter how long you hang around”

Remind you of your teen years growing up? I don’t care how large your hometown was, it never, ever felt like anything was going on. You always needed to be somewhere else. Where the girls were. Where the parties were. Certainly, not there. It’s funny how your perspective changes once you get out. Once you see the world. The good. The bad. The scary. Makes you think about how safe, and enjoyable, your hometown really was.

“There’s a girl back there that I used to call babe. Yes she said she’d wait but I bet by now she’s called it a day.”

While I never served, many members of my family did across a number of branches of the military. I’ve also seen it in movies where the boy heads off to battle, only to return, afraid that she’s no longer waiting for him. I can’t imagine the heartbreak. But I think that there’s a double meaning here. What about the soldiers who return who aren’t just afraid of the girl they loved and lost, but that everyone has forgotten about them. What about their kids birthdays they missed. Anniversaries. Graduations. The list goes on and on. These men and women give up everything to protect us. They should NEVER be forgotten.

“But if I ever find my way back. From wherever I’ve been. I ain’t leaving again.”

Ain’t that the truth. I know that if I could do it all over again, and I could go back and live my life in that small town, I would. Not sure why I wanted to get out so fast. Maybe it was the small town atmosphere. Maybe it was looking for my freedom. Either way, I miss that small town life. I’ve tried to bring it back by moving to a small town here in Oregon, but it’ll never be the same as my hometown. I can’t imagine the feelings that the men and women of the military have when they return home. After a year, two years or more. Away from their families…their friends. It might be a long way back, but I’d never want to leave again.

My Final Take

A good song…you’ll remember. A great song…you’ll never forget!

“Long Way Back” is certainly the latter. It’s a well written piece of lyrical genius with plenty of emotion to make you want to put it on repeat (like I did) and listen over and over again. This isn’t a fly-by-night song that you’ll hear on your local station a few times, only to disappear into the abyss. “Long Way Back” has staying power. It’s different than anything I’ve heard recently on country radio, and that makes it special.

This is the type of song that takes a band like Hillbilly Vegas and pulls them from obscurity, and puts them directly in the center of the country music map.

When you get the chance, check them out on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at @hillbillyvegas.

You can also find “Long Way Back” on iTunes and Amazon.com. The song comes out next week (November 6, 2014) and I suggest you take a listen today. You won’t regret it!

The Songs That Shaped Me…

April 1, 2014

All to often, we listen to the music. The beat. The instruments. But do we take the time to listen to it as a whole. The lyrics. What they mean.

Most people will say yes…but do they really?

As I approach my 36th birthday in two days (April 3), I wanted to take a few minutes to share the songs that shaped who I am today…and a little of background on each.

Let’s start with the one that has meant the most. Steve Holy’s “Good Morning Beautiful” is a song I sang to my girlfriend (then fiance and now wife) every morning. It will always hold a special place in my heart.

“Good Morning Beautiful” was released in July of 2001 as the fourth single from the album Blue Moon. The song slowly became a major hit, reaching # 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart on in February of 2002. The song’s five-week reign atop the chart was part of a 41-week chart run.

It’s so simple, but powerful. One listen, and you’ll be hooked.

“Good morning, beautiful, how was your night?
Mine was wonderful with you by my side
And when I open my eyes to see your sweet face
It’s a good morning, beautiful day”

Next up is another ballad (which may be an ongoing theme here). In 1992, John Michael Montgomery recorded “Life’s a Dance”. To this day, it’s one of my favorite songs of all time and probably the most quoted song I use on a daily basis. Montgomery provides listeners with the example of being too scared to ask a girl out when he was 14 years old. The girl ends up moving away and he never had the chance to ask her.

While not necessarily the same experience, we’ve all had those moments where we hesitated and never know what might have been. Thinking of this song always reminds me that we have one life to live and you learn as you go!

“Life’s a dance, you learn as you go.
Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow.
Don’t worry ’bout what you don’t know,
life’s a dance, you learn as you go.”

U2′s “With or Without You” has been my all time favorite song since it came out. The song is the third track from The Joshua Tree and was released as the album’s first single in March of 1987. The song was easily U2′s most successful single at the time, becoming their first number-one hit in both the United States and Canada. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks.

But enough background. The song just makes you think. Ponder your life. Can you live “with or without someone”. Those thoughts ran through my mind for years…you know how tough high school years are :)

“My hands are tied
My body bruised, she’s got me with
Nothing to win and
Nothing left to lose”

There was a time in my life. A time that many go through. When you don’t think you can go on. When you don’t want to go on. You come so close to taking your life, then a song pulls you back out. The funny thing is that the song that pulled me out was a song about suicide.

“Fade to Black” was the first power ballad by Metallica, released as the first promotional single from its second studio album, Ride the Lightning (their best album in my opinion). While I’m sure the band freaked out a bit how their fans would react to a ballad, I’m glad they recorded it.

It saved my life on one summer evening back in 1998.

“No one but me can save myself, but it’s too late
Now I can’t think, think why I should even try
Yesterday seems as though it never existed
Death greets me warm, now I will just say goodbye”

Those are just three of the songs that shaped me. Maybe I’ll post a few more later down the road.

How about you? What are the songs that shaped who you are today? The ones that mean the most to you?

Feel free to leave your thoughts and songs in the comments.

Concert Review: Steve Holy and Dustin Lynch Turn the “Radio Up” in Davis, California

December 20, 2013

Davis, California, may not be the world’s hotbed for country music. But, on the evening of December 19, 2013, the city welcomed two of my favorite live performers in Steve Holy and Dustin Lynch.

Courtesy of 101.9 The Wolf

Courtesy of 101.9 The Wolf

I’ve been lucky enough to catch both of these stars in small venues on multiple occasions, and after last nights show, I’m thinking that it might be my last chance to see them in such an intimate setting. In my opinion, both were tremendous performances once again. I’ll keep this simple: Steve Holy and Dustin Lynch are destined for stardom.

The Davis Graduate was the venue for 101.9 The Wolf’s Country Acoustic Christmas Show, which hardly had the feel of an acoustic show with the energy from the crowd, the radio personalities and the performers. From the moment the doors opened at 7 p.m., until Steve Holy concluded his set at 11:45 p.m., the venue was electric.

Dustin Lynch took the stage first and played a mix of his own music featuring “Cowboys and Angels” and “She Cranks My Tractor” as well as a great selection of cover songs including “Wagon Wheel”, “Callin’ Baton Rouge”, “Dust on the Bottle” and “Friends in Low Places”. How can you go wrong with any of those songs?

Lynch

Not only is Lynch a great live performer, you can tell that he loves what he’s doing and appreciates his fans. Great interaction throughout the show with the audience, who were pretty much eating out of his hand from the first note. Just like Steve Holy and other artists including James Wesley, Phil Vassar and Chris Cagle, he’s genuine. You know that he actually wants to be there, playing music for the people. Taking requests, taking photos (and photo-bombing a few being taken in the front row) and just having a good time.

If you haven’t seen a live Dustin Lynch show, you’re missing out. Check him out next time he’s in town.

Around 10:15 p.m., Steve Holy took to the stage. I’ve seen him in concert three times before, with the most recent concert being a “Songwriter’s Night” in San Jose, hosted by KRTY 95.3, along with Troy Olsen, Brian McComas, Aaron Benward and Jason Jones.

Holy

What must be said first and foremost is that Holy brings a passion to his music that is unmatched in the industry. All of his songs are written from the heart (whether serious in nature or in fun) and this comes through in his live performances.

He played all of his hits including “Good Morning Beautiful”, “Love Don’t Run”, “Hauled Off and Kissed Me” and the crowd favorite “Brand New Girlfriend.” He also threw in a great cover of “Easy” and his current single “Radio Up” which is a standard on my playlist these days. If you haven’t heard it yet, what are you waiting for??? The song is a hit waiting to happen.

I always find it hard to choose a favorite moment. On this night, I’d have to go with the few moments we got to catch up after the show in the parking lot, talking about the show and plans for 2014. Spending time with your fans, even when you’re running late and in a big hurry, is important and what sets the good artists from the great artists.

Holy

Steve Holy is a genuine, all around great guy who doesn’t get the recognition that he deserves. This is something that needs to change and it really needs to change starting in 2014. There needs to be a movement and I’ll take the charge holding the flag if need be. We need to bring Steve’s name and songs to the top of the charts. Call, email and Tweet your local radio stations and tell them that you want Steve Holy played. Tell your friends to check out his music and videos…and tell them today! Country music needs more of the likes of Steve Holy, James Wesley and others who “get it”. We need to stand up and do what we can to get their names out there!

The future is bright for both of these artists, and I can’t see what’s in store for the year to come.

Have you seen either in concert before? What was your experience? Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below. I’d love to hear them!

‘American Bandstand’ Host Dick Clark Dies

April 18, 2012

Dick Clark, who changed the way people listened to pop music with “American Bandstand,” and whose annual “Rockin’ Eve” became a fixture of New Year’s celebrations, died today at the age of 82.

I have many a New Year’s memory staying up late on New Year’s Eve to countdown to midnight and watch the latest (and greatest) musicians take the stage on “Rockin’ Eve”. Over the past couple years since his stroke, Dick Clark has played a minimal role on the show, giving way to Ryan Seacrest. But, he was still there this past New Year’s, counting down to the ball drop.

One of my favorite quotes from Dick Clark came just before the 2010 New Year’s celebration:

“I do the best I can and have been encouraged to continue because I hear it serves to inspire many others.”

RIP Dick Clark!

From The New York Times:

The television legend Dick Clark, who originated “American Bandstand” and the perennial New Year’s Eve celebration on ABC, died Wednesday morning, his representative Paul Shefrin said.

Mr. Shefrin said that Mr. Clark, 82, had suffered a heart attack.

Mr. Clark “had entered St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica last night for an outpatient procedure,” Mr. Shefrin said in a statement. “Attempts to resuscitate were unsuccessful. He is survived by his wife, Kari, and his three children, RAC, Duane and Cindy.”

Whitney Houston Dead at Age 48

February 11, 2012

Whitney Houston, who was probably regarded as one of the greatest pop singers of all time until drug use and erratic behavior led to a decline in her career, has died at the age of 48.

Anyone my age grew up with Whitney Houston. I may not have been her biggest fan, but her music was a part of my adolescence. School dances…etc. I mean “The Bodyguard” and her remake of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”. What a talent who will be surely be missed!

Not sure what else there is to say…I’ll leave you with probably the greatest National Anthem of all time at the Super Bowl:

From CBS News:

Houston’s publicist, Kristen Foster, said Saturday that the singer had died, but the cause and the location of her death were unknown.

News of Houston’s death came on the eve of music’s biggest night — the Grammy Awards. It’s a showcase where she once reigned, and her death was sure to case a heavy pall on Sunday’s ceremony. Houston’s longtime mentor Clive Davis was to hold his annual concert and dinner Saturday; it was unclear if it was going to go forward.

Keyboardist for Charlie Daniels Band Dies

October 14, 2011

Sad news in the world of country music as Joel “Taz” DiGregorio, legendary keyboardist for the Charlie Daniels Band,  has died at the age of 67.

Taz was on his way to meet the band’s tour bus when his car crashed near Nashville, Tennessee. RIP Taz!

From CNN:

“I am in shock now, Taz was one of my best friends,” Charlie Daniels said in a statement. “The CDB family has lost a great friend and musician.”

DiGregorio was a member of the band for more than 40 years and co-wrote its signature song,”The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.

The Big Show Presents: Billy the Greek Goes to San Francisco

July 26, 2011

Yet another episode of “The Big Show” with the college crew from back in 2001.

This segment once again features one of my favorite characters that I ever created…Billy the Greek…who once again demonstrates his over exaggerated Male Chauvenism.

Once again…none of our content should ever be considered PG so enter at your own risk :)


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