Concert Review: Fans Get “Hooked Up” with James Wesley in Gilroy, California

Posted April 30, 2015 by Kreuzer33
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Just when you think an artist can’t get any better, they come back to town, rock the house, and leave you absolutely speechless. This is the only way that I can describe recording artist James Wesley’s performance at The District, a great new venue located in Gilroy, California, on Wednesday, April 29.

Poster

If you don’t know Wesley already, then let me quickly educate you. With hits such as “Jackson Hole”, “Real”, “Didn’t I” and “Thank a Farmer”, Wesley has been getting airplay for quite some time now across the country. Special thanks go out to a number of local, California stations such as 95.3 KRTY, KAT Country 103, 101.9 The Wolf and 105.1 KNCI who continue to keep Wesley on their playlists. But in reality, he’s still not getting enough airplay (in my opinion) and I can’t stress enough that if you see him in concert one time, you’ll be hooked. Did I say hooked? More on that later…

If you can only catch three shows this year, James Wesley is one of them (with A Thousand Horses and Phil Vassar being the others). OK, I can’t forget the rest of the band including Michael Blakemore, Jesse LaFave, Matt Morgeson and Drew Scheuer either because they’re pretty damn good at what they do too. But you get my point!

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Now, before you ask too many questions about James, let me tell you this: he can only be described as a traditionalist, which is something that is rare in country music these days. He’s also VERY passionate about his music and his especially his fans. He writes, or co-writes most of his own songs and both he, and the band, play their heart out each and every time they take the stage. Plus, Wesley is one of those guys on Twitter (@jameswesley1) who loves to engage with his fans. Make sure to give him a follow.

Take a look at the a few of the photos from the show and you’ll get a small idea of what a live performance is like. But, in reality, photos will never do justice.

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So how would I describe a James Wesley show? Simple: high energy. Absolutely entertaining. Just like me, it’s a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll! I could go on and on with descriptors but I don’t want to bore you with my ranting.

Besides the staple set list songs that I mentioned earlier (Real, Didn’t I and Thank a Farmer) we were also treated once again with “new” songs that haven’t made it on the radio yet. Heck, maybe we can find them on an album in the near future? I’ve said this before, but just to reiterate, there are a few songs that I expect to be hits in the near future, including: “Running”, “See You on the Radio” and “The You I Wanna Know”. “Running” (co-written with Marcum Stewart and Zac Wrixon) and “See You on the Radio” are two songs that continue to stick out for me as having the potential to be radio hits. The later, was the closing song on the set for this show and it certainly has the legs to make a solid run on country radio.

To my radio friends out there…do you hear me???

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But let’s not forget about the beauty of the cover song. One thing that Wesley and the band like to do is mix their own music with the sounds of Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Dwight Yoakam, George Jones and even some Chuck Berry. “The Fugitive” some “White Lightning”, “Folsom Prison Blues” and a little “Fast As You”. Fantastic stuff. But possibly the most fun of the evening was a cover of Johnny B. Goode. I swear the entire audience leaped from their seats and a full on dance party broke out. Good times for sure. The band nailed it!

I mentioned earlier that if you see Wesley in concert one time you’ll be hooked. Well, now you can officially get “Hooked Up” with Wesley’s newest single by the same name. Back on April 8, officials from Big Rock Sports, LLC announced that Calcutta®, a proprietary brand of Big Rock Sports, partnered with Wesley to produce the single and music video “Hooked Up”. The music video will be shot during a concert that Wesley will be performing on May 30 at the new Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament weigh station on the Morehead City, North Carolina waterfront, as well as during the tournament which takes place June 6–13.

HookedUp

The song, which tells the story of anglers chasing blue marlin—through the eyes of the marlin—at the Big Rock, has been released through iTunes, CalcuttaFishing.com, and Thebigrock.com so you will definitely want to check this out. By the way, a portion of the proceeds from the song downloads will go to the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament Charities and the ASA’s Keep America Fishing Foundation. Wesley and the band played it live for the first time at this show and I am already going out on a ledge and saying that this will be a radio hit later in 2015.

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OK. I’ve talked your ear off but let me say this once again: there are only a few artists that I give a five star recommendation to. James Wesley is one of them. If there is one artist that you see in concert in the next year, make sure that it’s Wesley. From he and the band’s stage presence, to the love of the music to the time he and the band spend with their fans, it is not just a concert. It really is an experience that music lovers of all ages, and across genres, will enjoy. Trust me, you won’t regret spending $10, $15, $20 or more to see these guys live!

Thanks again to Nate Deaton, Julie Stevens, Tina Ferguson and the rest of the crew over at KRTY for bringing James and the band back to the Bay Area. Always a fantastic show!

With that being said, have you seen Wesley and the band in concert? What did you think? Please leave your comments and thoughts in the comments below! I would love to hear about your similar experiences!

Concert Review: Frankie Ballard and Clare Dunn Get “Young & Crazy” in San Jose, California

Posted April 23, 2015 by Kreuzer33
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After a day like today, I can honestly say that there could not have been a better end to the day than by taking in a show at the Rodeo Club featuring Clare Dunn and Frankie Ballard.

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To preface this, I lost my step father this morning. I’ve had to watch him suffer through illness for many years now, and I know that he isn’t suffering anymore. But I know that it doesn’t make the loss hurt any less. So what did help lift my spirits, just a little? A night filled with some great music by two young, and up-and-coming artists.

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I’ve been hearing about Clare Dunn for quite some time now so I was obviously excited to finally see her live for the first time. Dunn has opened for some of the largest country acts, including Keith Urban, Florida Georgia Line, Colt Ford, Parmalee, Hank Williams Jr., Jamey Johnson as well as playing major festivals.

Photo Courtesy of @debrakmartin04

Photo Courtesy of @debrakmartin04

First a little background. As she mentioned during the show, Dunn was born on a farm in southeast Colorado where she grew up raising cattle, hauling water, as well as driving combines, tractors and eighteen wheelers. Eventually, she went to Belmont University where she picked up a guitar for the first time and learned to play both the acoustic and electric guitars. And that was a great decision!

What I loved about her performance is that when Dunn took the stage, she owned it. Her vocals were incredible and although she hasn’t been playing the guitar for long, you would think that she’s played it since birth. Very impressive. While her set was the standard, short opening set, the crowd was treated to an array of songs including her debut single “Get Out”, and her latest single “Cowboy Side of You.”

If you get the chance to catch Dunn live, be sure you get there early. A great performer that I believe you’ll see on the big stage shortly. Hell. Florida Georgia Line called Get Out “the best country song out by a female.” Not a bad recommendation to receive.

Photo Courtesy of @KristinToon

Photo Courtesy of @KristinToon

If you want to learn more about her, check out her website and follow her on Twitter at @claredunnmusic.

Following Dunn’s set, it was time for the main event of the evening: Frankie Ballard.

You may have heard of the guy as he’s been featured on the Grand Ole Opry and has played venues across the country where he has opened for the likes of Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift and his longtime idol Bob Seger.

I’ll admit, I know Ballard’s music and I like it. Whether it’s “country”, well that’s a matter of opinion but frankly, who cares. The guy (and his band) can flat out jam and they proved this tonight with a rockin’ and rollin’ set that was non-stop from the moment they took the stage.

Photo Courtesy of @Blueliquid11

Photo Courtesy of @Blueliquid11

As you would anticipate, most of the songs on the setlist were off Ballard’s “Sunshine & Whiskey” album, which was released in February of 2014. Songs such as the title track, “Young & Crazy” and the fan favorite “Helluva Life” were supplemented by great cover versions of “One Headlight” by The Wallflowers and Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll”. And sorry ladies, there was no Tom Cruise/Risky Business action onstage.

Photo Courtesy of @lexiwillson18

Photo Courtesy of @lexiwillson18

Now if there is one thing, and one thing only that I get across to people it’s this: I have never, and I mean NEVER, heard a band that was as tight as Ballard’s band was tonight. These guys didn’t miss a note all night long. Everything was in perfect rhythm. Words can’t describe how amazing they played.

One thing that also needs to be said is that Ballard demonstrates a true love for his fans. I had the opportunity to meet him before the show, and it was obvious that the whole “meet and greet” wasn’t just a job for him. Ballard took the time to connect with each and every fan he met. And not just the shaking of the hand and smiling at the camera. He was genuine, and a true gentleman. If there were more artists out there who took the time to actually engage with their fans like this, I believe that you would see a lot more respect across the board. Major kudos to you Frankie!

Photo Courtesy of @debrakmartin04

Photo Courtesy of @debrakmartin04

If you want to learn more about this great, up-and-coming artist, definitely go check out his website and follow him on Twitter at @FrankieBallard.

Did you go to the show? Have you seen either Clare Dunn or Frankie Ballard perform live before? Let me see those comments below.

Finally, thanks to the folks at KRTY for another great night a music, and the opportunity for me to forget about life for awhile. You guys always bring the best to the Rodeo Club and we as fans want to thank you for the fantastic work you do! Here’s to the next show!

Concert Review: Chris Cagle Gets “Back in the Saddle” with Haley & Michaels in San Jose, California

Posted April 17, 2015 by Kreuzer33
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When KRTY announces that they are putting on a show that will blow you away, it’s not just hot air.

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For the past few weeks, the Bay Area country music scene has been waiting for Chris Cagle to descend upon San Jose, and his latest trip to the Rodeo Club. Cagle has been here before, and he will no doubt be back again, but in speaking with some “newbies” to the club last night before the show, they weren’t sure what to expect. They had never been to a KRTY show (blasphemy!) and had never seen Cagle live before.

Naturally I told them that they were in for a night that they’d never forget…and I’m not just saying that because we are Phi Delta Theta fraternity brothers. The guy is literally one of the hardest working performers in country music and ALWAYS puts on a show to be remembered for his fans. Not to mention he’s a great follow on Twitter at @chriscagle.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Before Cagle took the stage around 9:45 p.m., we were treated to a set by the up-and-coming duo Haley & Michaels (Shannon Haley & Ryan Michaels).

via Margo Lang

via Margo Lang

So here’s the story on these two. It turns out that they grew up only a few miles apart here in Northern California, but get this, they didn’t know each other until well after they separately started their country music careers in Nashville. Shortly after meeting they began singing and writing together and discovered they had a great connection.

What I love about Haley & Michaels is that they have this mix of vocals and harmonies that carry them through their set. You probably know them from their debut single “Just Another Love Song”, which of course was the highlight of their performance. Naturally, the crowd at the Rodeo Club was singing along to every note.

The folks at KRTY have been standing firmly behind Haley & Michaels, as I’ve seen them a few times now and each time I feel as though I enjoy them more and more. They may not be a household name to you just yet, but they have been touring with and opening shows for major acts including Brett Eldredge, Parmalee, Clint Black, Hank Williams Jr., Dustin Lynch and Martina McBride.

If you see them on the bill as an opening act, make sure you’re not late to the show. You won’t be disappointed. BTW they are getting married next month so make sure to stop by their Facebook page and give them your best wishes!

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Speaking of not being disappointed, if there is one country music artist that is guaranteed to not disappoint, it certainly would be Chris Cagle.

What can I say…I’ve been a fan of Cagle dating back to his debut album, Play it Loud. And what’s not to love. We’re talking “My Love Goes On and On”, “I Breathe In, I Breathe Out” and my personal favorite “Laredo”. Some classic songs from a great album that you still hear on the radio today.

On this night, Cagle pulled out all of the stops. Whether it’s a club show or a much larger venue, Cagle knows what it takes to be an entertainer. And that’s what the KRTY crowd was treated to…entertainment. From the moment he took the stage, until the band took their final bows, it was a non-stop mix of country, rock and rolls and emotional ballads.

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I’ll admit, I’ve never seen an artist overcome with so much emotion during a show. During a short pause while performing “Miss Me Baby”, the San Jose crowd let Cagle know exactly how much they appreciated him. Without exaggeration, he was given a 5-6 minute standing ovation that went “on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on” (sorry, I had to do it). You could see in his eyes that he truly appreciated the love from the crowd, needing to step back a few times to withhold tears.

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It really was a magical moment, and one that this artist deserved after so many years of doing what he does for us, the country music listener. These are the types of moments that you get when you come to the Rodeo Club…and I thank KRTY for bringing him to town so I can experience them.

The rest of the set was exactly what you would expect. We were treated to classic Cagle, as well as a few new songs including “Got My Country On” and “I’ll Grow My Own” from his latest album “Back in the Saddle” which concluded the set. Normally, like most people, when the new stuff comes on, I kind of tune out a little. But not this time. I really liked “I’ll Grow My Own”. It was a good choice to conclude the set…knowing that he and the band had to come out for at least one more song.

For the encore, Cagle went old school southern rock, courtesy of some Lynyrd Skynard. While it may have been a Thursday night, it quickly became a “Saturday Night Special” at the Rodeo Club.  Most people that choose a Skynyrd cover song would pull out “Sweet Home Alabama”, “That Smell” or even “Freebird”, but I love the fact that the band went another direction.

via Margo Lang

via Margo Lang

As expected, “Chicks Dig It” closed out the set. And why not. It’s a great song…one that the audience can sing along to every word of and how can you not have a smile on your face at the same time. It’s the story of a guy who has always done various stunts (most of the time injuring himself in the process) in attempts to impress women, because the “chicks dig it”.

OK guys, raise your hand if you’re guilty of that. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

What can I say that I haven’t said already. From Haley & Michaels, to Chris Cagle (and his band of course), this was another great night of entertainment.

Thank you again to Nate Deaton, Julie Stevens, Tina Ferguson, Gary Scott Thomas, Randy Jones, Indiana Al and the rest of the folks at KRTY for putting on another hell of a night.There’s a reason why KRTY is the number one country music station in the Bay Area. It’s because of the people that work there that put their heart and soul into their jobs and make sure that their audience is treated to the best that country music has to offer.

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But don’t forget, it’s also because of you (and me)…the listeners who come out to the shows and listen every day. I love coming back to the Bay Area for shows like this and I can’t wait for the next one! I’ve got my sights on James Wesley on April 29.

If you’re looking for a few upcoming shows, don’t miss Frankie Ballard (with Clare Dunn) on April 22 and Maddie and Tae (with Logan Mize) the following night on April 23. Both shows take place at the Rodeo Club. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Chris Cagle Set List:

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Concert Review: A Thousand Horses and Toree McGee “Smoke” the Competition

Posted April 2, 2015 by Kreuzer33
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What can I say. Another KRTY concert at the Rodeo Club…another INCREDIBLE night of live music in the South Bay!

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Frankly, I got lucky this time around. I usually know a few weeks in advance when I’ll be able to catch a show in San Jose, based on my travel back and forth from Portland, Oregon. But this time, I learned the night before that I’d be in town and there was no doubt in my mind that I had to catch local singer songwriter Toree McGee, and one of my favorite, up-and-coming bands, A Thousand Horses. Literally, these guys are THE band to watch in 2015 (see further comments later). To say that I was excited by my last minute change in travel plans doesn’t do justice.

This is the second time I’ve caught Toree McGee at the Rodeo Club. Last time she was the opening act for Clay Walker.

On top of her own songs, including “Run Right Back to You”, “Might as Well be Us” and “Amen” (which has consistently been in the KRTY Hot 9 at 9 the past few weeks), she pulled off a great cover of “Kerosene” by Miranda Lambert. Who doesn’t like a great sing-a-long to end a set?

Here’s a quick clip of “Amen”:

Oh yeah, there was also a few minutes during the set for what McGee called #toreeselfee time. While I wasn’t coordinated enough to take one with everyone else in the crowd, here’s mine after the show (thanks Toree and Indiana AL):

Toree_AL

If you haven’t checked her out before, do so now. Also, make sure you keep up with her via her website or follow her on Twitter and Facebook for her latest news and concert schedule.

Also, props to Mr. Gary Tackett, a guitarist and manager who’s worked with the likes of Merle Haggard, Billy Currington, Vern Gosdin, Eddy Raven and Tammy Cochran, who I had the opportunity to catch up with after the show. Thanks for making the trip back down to San Jose y’all!

Now it was time for the main event of the evening. In the words of Michael Buffer: “Let’s get ready to rumble!”

A Thousand Horses is a band I’ve been talking about for a good 6-8 months now…but I’m not the only one. Check out a few of these features they’ve been included in recently:

USA Today

Rolling Stone

Taste of Country

I said it before, and will say it again, this is THE band you need to watch, follow and support in 2015. 2014 may have been the year of the horse, but 2015 WILL BE the year of A Thousand Horses.

For a little background, the band consists of four core members (but their are a bunch more!):

Michael Hobby – Lead Vocal
Bill Satcher – Lead Guitar
Zach Brown – Guitar and Vocal (not THAT Zac Brown)
Graham Deloach – Bass and Vocal

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From their look (see photo above) to their sound, A Thousand Horses can only be described as a mix of Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers and The Black Crowes. Not sure how else to describe them, but that should give you a good idea of what to expect when you take a listen to their music. I’ll say, though, that they have the benefit of pulling all of their classic rock talents together in a modern-country sound. Is there anything wrong with that? I don’t think so!

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Their new single, “Smoke”, is heading straight to the top of the airplay charts at radio stations across the country, and should be firmly on your playlist right now! The folks at KRTY have had “Smoke” in regular rotation for quite some time now, and as always, Nate Deaton, Julie Stevens and the rest of the crew (Randy Jones, Indiana Al etc…) have their finger on the pulse of what’s going to be hot in country music well before anyone else.

On top of “Smoke”, the band ran through a mix of some older tunes, as well as some new music off their upcoming album “Southernality”. Three of my favorites, “Tennessee Whiskey”, “Trailer Trashed” and “(This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial” were featured on the set as well as the catchy “Landslide”. The Wednesday night crowded was also treated to two great covers of Tom Petty’s hit “I Won’t Back Down” and The Black Crowes “Hard to Handle” as their encore. Certainly another couple of highlights of the evening.

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Don’t miss them this summer on tour with Darius Rucker, Brett Eldredge and the Brothers Osborne. Trust me. They won’t be an opening act for long! Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I know that I sound like a broken record, but if there is one new band you NEED to see in 2015, it’s A Thousand Horses.

To keep up with the band, new music and tour news, make sure you check them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at @AThousandHorses.

Did you go to the show? Have you ever seen Toree McGee or A Thousand Horses live? Please share your thoughts and comments below. Feel free to share this review as well!

Concert Review: “Rumor Has It” Clay Walker and Toree McGee Rocked San Jose, California

Posted February 16, 2015 by Kreuzer33
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Ho hum. Just another Sunday night. Just another KRTY show at the Rodeo Club.

OK. I can’t even begin to attempt keeping a straight face and hide my sarcasm trying to say that. The high praise I have for the efforts put in by both Toree McGee and Clay Walker (one of my ALL TIME favorites) probably can’t even be put into words, but I’m gonna try to do it anyways.

On February 15, country music fans in San Jose, California, were treated to a heck…no…a HELL of a show by two artists who both demonstrated a passion and a love for music (and their fans) that I haven’t seen in quite some time.

Group

Opening the show was Toree McGee, an up-and-coming, East Bay-based singer/songwriter who I first came across last August when KRTY sponsored a contest to give a local act a chance to sing with award-winning country musician Keith Urban. Suffice to say, I was not disappointed.

First, a little background that I learned. McGee’s grandparents were part of a traveling gospel quartet, and her father was a singer in what can only be described as a “garage rock band”. Her father can be credited with giving McGee her love of classic rock and her passion for music, while her mother gravitated toward classic country. Not surprising that I enjoyed her show with my professed love for classic rock and country music.

Toree

McGee has some of the strongest vocals I’ve heard in a long time at the Rodeo Club. To me, her vocal range pulled in a little LeAnn Rimes and one of the all time greats, Janis Joplin. How can you go wrong with those two?

On top of her own songs, including “Run Right Back to You”, and “Amen” (which by the way I heard for the first time on KRTY during Randy Jones’ broadcast prior to the show), she flawlessly pulled off two fan favorite cover songs: “Stay” by Jennifer Nettles and “Kerosene” by Miranda Lambert.

But what I enjoyed the most about McGee (both during her show and during the 10 minutes I was able to chat with her following), was her happy go lucky personality and her passion for life and her music. Nothing sums this up better than the following clip where she first heard herself on the radio (on KRTY as mentioned above) This is what it’s all about!

Check it out:

Oh yeah, there was also a few minutes during the set for what McGee called #toreeselfee time. Here’s mine (thanks Toree):

ToreeJK

If you haven’t checked her out before, do so now. Also, make sure you keep up with her via her website or follow her on Twitter and Facebook for her latest news and concert schedule.

Also, props to Gary Tackett, a guitarist and manager who’s worked with the likes of Merle Haggard, Billy Currington, Vern Gosdin, Eddy Raven and Tammy Cochran, who I had the opportunity to speak with before and after the show. Thanks for coming to San Jose!

As we neared the 9 o’clock hour, it was time for our main event of the evening…Mr. Clay Walker!

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via @CountryFan101

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past couple decades, then you are already very familiar with the man who brought you hits like “Rumor Has It”, “Live Laugh Love”, “If I Could Make a Living”, “What’s It To You”, “Live Until I Die”, “She Won’t Be Lonely Long” and “Then What?”, among others.

Seriously. How many artists can you see in concert who can perform an assortment of their greatest room, but not have time to play them all? But to Clay’s defense, he played a LONG set and got each and every song in that the audience requested.

Here’s the setlist (which doesn’t include an incredible rendition of “Hard to Handle” by the Black Crowes that was performed during the encore):

Set

What a high energy, high passion and high intensity show! I know, I feel like after every show I say how “this was the best Rodeo Club show I’ve ever been too.” But heck, this certainly ranks in my top three of all time, and I’ve been going to the Rodeo Club for the better part of the last decade.

It’s not very often that you find an artist like Clay Walker who can do it all and have the audience eating out of his hands the whole time. Think Garth Brooks-esque. He mixes in his classic hits with new songs as well as a cover or two. And he takes the time to talk to the audience and shows that he really cares about his fans. He’s not just an artist. He’s an entertainer!

Jam

One of my favorite aspects of the show came near the conclusion. Following a medley of a number of Walker’s hits, the San Jose crowd was treated to some traditional Irish Fiddle. Being the father of an Irish Dancer, there was no way that I was going to miss this.

Check it out:

See what I mean? How can you NOT love this?

Fiddle

Make sure you keep up with Clay via his website, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

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via @CountryFan101

All in all, I couldn’t have been more pleased with flying 700 miles from Portland, Oregon, to catch this show. I was very impressed by Toree McGee and Clay Walker, who I had not seen live in nearly a decade, lived up to (and surpassed) all expectations.

If you went, please leave your comments below. Would love to hear what you thought!

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. If you ever get a chance to catch a KRTY show at the Rodeo Club, don’t miss out. The folks at KRTY (Nate Deaton, Tina Ferguson, Indiana Al, Randy Jones etc…) always have their finger on the pulse of what’s hot in country music. You never know which “unknown” is going to be the next “Entertainer of the Year”.

New Music Review: “Smoke” by A Thousand Horses

Posted January 20, 2015 by Kreuzer33
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It’s not very often that when I see a band live for the first time I am absolutely BLOWN AWAY. The latest band to do this to me: A Thousand Horses (Republic Nashville).

ATH

I had the pleasure of catching A Thousand Horses recently opening for Josh Thompson and Will Hoge at the Rodeo Club in San Jose. Nate Deaton, General Manager at KRTY, said that this was not an opening act to miss…and he was right! No joke. During the set, I sent out multiple text messages to friends to tell them that they HAD to see this band live (which they did a few days later and they felt the exact same way as I did!)

For a little background, the band consists of:

Michael Hobby – Lead Vocal
Bill Satcher – Lead Guitar
Zach Brown – Guitar and Vocal (not THAT Zac Brown)
Graham Deloach – Bass and Vocal

From their look (see photo above) to their sound, A Thousand Horses can only be described as a mix of Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers and the Black Crowes. Not sure how else to describe them. But, they have the benefit of pulling all of their classic rock talents together in a modern-country sound. Nothing wrong with that!

Their new single, “Smoke” is the type of song that’s ready to jump to the top of the airplay charts at radio stations across the country, and should be firmly on your playlist right now! But don’t take my word for it, take a listen for yourself:

iTunes

Google Play

See what I mean? Great vocals. Great rhythm. It’s catchy and it’s what country radio needs right now!

According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2014 was the year of the horse. But I’m telling you, this band is ready to make 2015 the year of A Thousand Horses.

Don’t miss them this summer on tour with Darius Rucker, Brett Eldredge and the Brothers Osborne. Trust me. They won’t be an opening act for long! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

To keep up with the band, new music and tour news, make sure you check them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at @AThousandHorses.

How the 2014 Oregon Ducks Helped Make Me a Better Father

Posted January 13, 2015 by Kreuzer33
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I’m not going to lie. This loss stings. It stings a lot. But like all things in life, you can’t let it get you down Ducks fans. Sometimes, there are more important things in life than the outcome of a football game.

My dad passed away on August 11, 2014. Those first few moments after I got the call from my brother to tell me, it felt like the end of the world. After weeks of trying to understand why this happened, and attempting to get my life back to normal, August 30 came around. This marked the beginning of the college football season. Sure, it was a game against a team perceived to be an inferior opponent (South Dakota), but it was the first bit of normalcy I had in my life since my dad’s death. As I sat quietly on the couch watching the game, alone, one by one my three kids (ages 9, 7 and 2) came and joined me.

They asked a lot of questions. “Who’s playing daddy?” “Did they score?” “Who’s winning?” I think that day was the first time I smiled in weeks.

It’s funny. My dad and I had a close father/son relationship, but it was always this sort of “unspoken word” relationship. Two things we had in common: a love of music and sports. Sure, we watched games together as a family, both in-person and on TV (and even on this thing called a radio), but there was never an emotional attachment. I remember when I was little, sitting on my dad’s lap watching a San Francisco Giants or 49ers game, but we just never had those truly bonding moments that you see on TV or in the movies. I figured that it’s probably just a fantasy that doesn’t actually happen in real life, but I have strived to be different with my kids (and I think part of that has been done both consciously and subconsciously). It’s not bad that my dad and I didn’t have this, it’s just something that I look back on and wish could have been a little different.

Which brings us to the National Championship game and the basis of this post. My kids were very excited once they got home from school and they stayed up and watched most the game with me again last night (note that the 7 year old didn’t make it into our Kreuzer “team” picture below).

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They don’t like sports all that much, but they have been to a few games with me. Mostly minor league baseball games. But I formally introduced them to Oregon football this season with that South Dakota game on August 30 and they watched a number of games with me this season. Sure, I’ve been a Ducks fan since 2002 when we first moved to Portland. But watching Oregon football this year was an opportunity for me to teach them the game. To teach them to love a team. And most importantly, to have bonding moments with them. Unfortunately, I think they got spoiled with this great team.

Last night, the two older kids were nearly in tears (like I was…not gonna lie) as the game got out of hand in the 4th quarter. They kept saying “it isn’t fair daddy.” “The Ducks are supposed to win daddy.” “Can’t we do anything.” It gave me the chance to talk about winning and losing. How there are going to be times where you have to understand that you can’t always win. During those final minutes of the game, they disappeared. I wasn’t sure where they went, and to be honest, it made me a little nervous that I couldn’t hear them.

But then they came back with these drawings in an effort to make me feel better about the loss that was about to be made official:

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I couldn’t help but smile and give them the biggest hugs I think they’ve ever had. I realized at that moment that, like I had told them just a few minutes earlier, it wasn’t about winning and losing. It was about the time we spent together over the past six months, culminating with the National Championship game in Dallas. It was about healing from personal loss. Finding that one thing that brought us together.

Even though the Ducks didn’t have the fairly tale ending that we had hoped for, we were all together. We were spending those moments on the couch that I will never, ever forget. Dealing with the hardest time of my life through college football, while it sounds crazy, had not pulled us apart, like it seemed it would in those first two weeks. It had made us stronger. In reality, looking back, the 2014 Oregon Ducks had helped make me a better father.

When I look back at the season, I can’t help but be proud of this team and the coaching staff, just as I’m proud of my own kids. What a story of inspiration. I can’t think of another team that had to battle through so many injuries, and yet found themselves winning a conference championship, a major bowl game (and not just a major bowl game, but the Granddaddy of them all: The Rose Bowl) and played for a national championship. Let’s not also forget that Marcus Mariota brought the first Heisman Trophy to the University. All great accomplishments and much of the credit goes to coach Mark Helfrich.

Sure, people will say the Ducks aren’t tough enough. They make fun of the infinite number of uniform choices (thanks Nike!) But, at the end of the day, they finished this season behind only one team: The Ohio State Buckeyes.

I have to give a lot of credit where credit is due. The Buckeyes came into this game hungry. They, like Oregon, have had to deal with their own fair share of injuries. Can you imagine winning your conference championship game by 59 points, against a good Wisconsin Badgers team, with Cardale Jones, a 3rd string quarterback? Then, to take down the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl, again with a 3rd string quarterback? You get the idea. The Buckeyes won the National Championship with a 3rd string quarterback. A guy with 3 career starts! Phenomenal.

Let’s not forget the play last night by Ezekiel Elliott. Just a sophomore, he ran the ball 36 times for 246 yards with four touchdowns. Yes. four touchdowns in the National Championship game. This was his third straight game with more than 200 yards. He was named Offensive Player of the Game and broke the record for highest rushing total by an FBS player in a championship game. Again, phenomenal.

Finally, there’s Urban Meyer. You must now consider him arguably one of the greatest head coaches in college football history. I have no problem ranking him up there with anyone on the Mount Rushmore of college coaches. What he has done at Ohio State is amazing and I can’t help but think that there could be a dynasty forming in Columbus.

As for the Ducks, I just want to reiterate that this season was not a failure. So much good came out of this year that fans should not hang their heads. I’m not…and you shouldn’t either!

I know that we played hard, through adversity, and we will be back again next year. Yes, we didn’t achieve our end goal of winning a National Championship, but we played our hardest and finished as the second best team in the country. Again, we won the Pac 12. We won the Rose Bowl. Mariota is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Don’t be sad. Be glad that you were there to witness history.

I leave you with a few of my favorite lines from the movie “The Mighty Ducks”. Yes, it’s a hockey movie, but I think that the words ring true for us today, tomorrow and forever as Oregon Ducks fans:

“Have you guys ever seen a flock of ducks flying in perfect formation? It’s beautiful. Pretty awesome the way they all stick together. Ducks never say die. Ever seen a duck fight? No way. Why? Because the other animals are afraid. They know that if they mess with one duck, they gotta deal with the whole flock. I’m proud to be a Duck, and I’d be proud to fly with any one of you. So how about it? Who’s a Duck?”

While I never attended the University of Oregon, I have made many, many friends along the way who did and I consider myself to be a Duck. Like each and every one of them, I’m damn proud to be a Duck (and a father of the three best kids in the whole world)!


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