June 24, 1997. The Last Day of my Life…

Posted September 10, 2018 by Kreuzer33
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

On this World Suicide Prevention Day, it’s time to get personal. Sit back because it’s story time, and this is one that I hope you all will read until the end.

I’ve only told this story to three people (two currently are Facebook friends, and one who does not participate in social media), so most of you will have no idea that this was even going on in my life in the summer of 1997. Frankly, I’ve thought about telling this story many times over the years, but decided that it was better left a secret held between myself and a couple close friends.

Today, I’m going to tell the story from beginning to end. A lot of you will probably be quite surprised. Some of you will probably be pretty pissed off at me for never saying anything. In fact, this will come as a shock to a lot of my family members, all of whom have never heard this story until now.

To my family, I’m sorry for broadcasting it to everyone at once, rather than telling each of you about it individually, but I feel that today is the day to do this and that this is the forum that I can tell it the best. Hopefully, after you read my entire story, you can take this, learn from it, and potentially help someone else who may be hurting.

The date was Tuesday, June 24, 1997. My first year of college had just completed and it had been an extremely difficult year. A year before, my parents had announced their divorce after a marriage that lasted the first 18 years of my life. I had reached a weight of nearly 275 pounds which was contributing to my self esteem issues. Fitting in at school, even though it was close to home, was still difficult. While I had hoped to make new friends in college, it just wasn’t happening. At the same time, I was too busy with school work to spend the time that I used to with my high school friends, except on the weekends.

For nearly 10 months, I had been experience bouts of depression and by the end of the school year, I was spiraling out of control. I had fallen in with a crowd of people that I never should have associated with. They were friends of friends that were leading me down a path that I simply didn’t care if I ever came back from. And, to be honest, I almost didn’t come back from. I was finding myself distancing myself from everyone. Long time friends. New friends. Family. Just about anyone who could have helped me.

For weeks, I had contemplated taking my own life. I was depressed. I had begun cutting myself. First, just a few cuts that didn’t leave much of a mark. But as the days and weeks went by, it got worse. First drawing blood. Later, going deeper and deeper until I needed to wear gauze and bandages. I started to wear long sleeves and sweatshirts, even in the early summer heat, to cover the marks. I felt ashamed. I felt scared. “Is this something I really wanted to do? Is this something I could actually do?”

Every night the answer to that questions was: I don’t know.

For weeks, I had been trying to talk to someone…anyone about it. Every time I approached the subject, no one seemed to take me serious. They either pushed back that they didn’t want to talk about the subject of depression, suicide, etc…Like I was just joking around with them. But I wasn’t, and apparently, I was the only one who knew that I was dead serious. I tried, unsuccessfully, for weeks to get help from friends. Each time, no one was there for me. At the time, I wanted to talk to my immediate family, or other relatives, but I didn’t want them to be disappointed in me, like I thought everyone else was. Looking back, I should have gone to them first.

I almost did. One night on the weekend before, I sat in the garage of our home. In the dark. Wearing all black. Listening to Pink Floyd in the dark. At one point, my brother made the walk down the ramp to look grab laundry (I think). He didn’t even know I was in there. But he heard the music. He looked at me and was like “WTF?”. He grabbed his clothes and walked back up the ramp, shut the door and I just sat there. Continuing to listening to Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here on repeat for the next 4 hours.

Finally, came the day that I had decided would be the end of it all. The weekend before had not gone as hoped. Trying to fit in at social functions was a bust. Typical adolescent “picking on” and “being ditched” by friends had left me all alone. When I woke up that Tuesday morning, I knew that I needed to make one final effort to reach out to anyone that I could to stop me. I set up a series of meetings with everyone close to me to try and talk to them. To get them to talk to me. To talk me out of what I was thinking. Or to simply say my goodbyes.

I started with breakfast with my mom who had finished another one of her overnight shifts. She was so worn out that morning. She was talking about how tough things were. With work. With housework. With everything going on with her life. We sat and ate Frosted Flakes and eggs. I just couldn’t bring up the topic because I felt that I was one of the burdens on her life. So I had failed (in my mind) to do what I had intended to do. I gave her a hug and let her go take a short nap while I carried on with my day.

Next came lunch with my grandparents. We sat at their kitchen table and I had a tuna sandwich. Afterwards, I went with them to their garden to help pull weeds and talk. However, I knew that if anyone would be disappointed in me in what I was thinking, I assumed that it would be them. I didn’t want to burden them with my problems, so I said goodbye and left. Without even approaching the subject.

Next came a quick trip to my dad’s house. Anyone who knew him, knew that he spent many of the first few years after the divorce depressed. When I arrived, his house was trashed. Covered in records, boxes, garbage. It was a hoarders paradise. From the moment I arrived, I became more and more depressed in conversation. Talking about how bad his life had become. That people weren’t visiting anymore. That he didn’t know what he could do to make his life better. If anything, I blamed myself because I had distanced myself so much from everyone that I was ruining people’s lives.

I said goodbye and headed to my final destination.

Pepperwood Lane in Petaluma had become a destination for quite some time to get away from life, and have a good time. The stories I can tell won’t be repeated, but we had a lot of fun in the years after high school. However, even the good times weren’t getting me through the bad. I had hoped that this might be the place where someone would talk me out of what I was planning that later that evening.

The whole crowd was there. The good…and the bad. That weekend, and that night in particular, it was a melting pot of all the good, the bad and the ugly. I must have gone up to everyone that night. Trying to talk. Trying to get their attention. I was wearing short sleeves so that everyone could see the pain I was feeling in the form of bandages and gauze halfway up to my elbow. Unfortunately, no one seemed to know. Everyone had their own things (and I’m sure problems). I finally sat there, sitting on the couch, thinking about my life. Was it really as bad as I thought? Was I really ready to do what I thought needed to be done?

As I sat there alone, I decided to take a walk. It was almost 10 p.m. on one of the longest days of the year and the sun had finally set. There was a park in the complex where we used to go hang out and drink, smoke, whatever. I found myself sitting atop the playground structure in the dark, thinking about my life. Thinking about the good times…and the bad. Trying to justify reasons for living. Why should I stay? Who would miss me? It kept coming back to me that I was a disappointment. To my family. To my friends. Would they miss me if I was gone? Would killing myself take away the pain I was feeling?

Then, as I had finally come to terms with my decision, I was getting ready to head home. I took a deep breath as I stood atop the structure, looking out across the complex where I had hung out with friends for the past few years. It was quiet. The early summer fog was rolling in. The temperature was dropping and I knew that it was time to go home. No one would be there so having the house to myself was ideal.

As I stood there, I saw a shadowy figure walking towards me. She called my name. Was she looking for me? I didn’t respond, thinking that she would either make it to where I was. She came close, but never made it. After a few minutes, she turned to walk away. It was then that in that moment I decided to call out “up here”, I said.

She climbed up and we started talking. First about the party that was taking place at the house. Then the people who were there. How we both were experiencing some of the same things. For me, it was a feeling of disconnect. That I was a misfit who didn’t belong. Unloved. For her, it was a feeling of trying to belong, even though she wasn’t being respected. People were spreading rumors, like teenagers do. But at that moment, I was starting to feel like I wasn’t alone.

That maybe, just maybe, this was just a passing phase and that things could get better. Still, I wasn’t sure.

As we sat and talked, I started to open up. I talked about the thoughts I had been having for weeks. She saw my arms. She was pretty shocked at the site. She asked me to remove a bandage, where she saw cut marks, many of which were somewhat deep. At that moment, she grasped the seriousness of the situation and whether or not she knew it at the time, she made a decision to help me.

At first, I thought she was upset. Angry at me for even thinking about suicide. For cutting myself. But then she started to tell me the things that I needed to hear. The things that I had been hoping to hear for a long time. That I was loved. That I was respected. That I needed to be there to be a part of everyone’s lives. That I had a lot to live for. That someday, I was going to get away from this town.

For the first time in weeks, I was thinking about living. I was thinking about getting help for my depression. Getting thoughts for my thoughts of suicide. I was thinking about getting better and living.

In that moment, my life had been saved. I wasn’t going to go home and take my own life. I was going to take my life into my own hands and do something with it. I was going to defeat the demons that I was battling…and I did.

From that moment on, I vowed that things would be different. We went back into the party and I re-engaged. For the rest of the night, this girl did not leave my side. We continued to talk. We laughed. We drank. We talked about how good things were. The cloud of sadness seemed to have lifted. But would it last? I hoped that it would.

Before I finish, I want to say one thing.

For 21 years, this story has been kept close to the vest. In fact, the girl who saved my life…has no idea that she did it. She knows that I was suicidal, however, she has no idea that I planned to do it that night, if not for her stepping in and stopping it with her words, her compassion and her understanding. To this day, we are Facebook friends, and we don’t talk as often as we should, but it may be time to finally tell her. To thank her. To let her know that without knowing it, she saved me and I’m still here today.

The rest of that summer was different. I cut ties with a few “friends” who I didn’t need in my life. I started a workout program to cut the weight that I felt was keeping my self esteem low. It took more than two years, but I finally got myself into shape and that helped. I also started talking to a psychiatrist who got me mentally fit to avoid falling back into a deep depression.

When the next school year began, I started hanging out more on campus with new friends who I am still friends with today. I branched out and joined activities and eventually, became the person that I always wanted to be. Looking back on the dark days, I couldn’t believe I had gotten to where I wanted to be in such a short time.

The point of this post is not shock value. I’m sorry for all of you who have been kept in the dark for so long. I’m sorry that I never told any of you this as it was happening, or even in the years following. I should have. But part of me was embarrassed, and part of me was ashamed.

The point of this post is that ANYONE could be hurting. We all have issues that can lead us into depression. But, there is help. Talk to someone.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll continue to say it…I’m always available if anyone needs to talk. Day or night. I WILL make time. As I see bullying in schools, in the workplace and online, I hate it. I know that it is one root cause of a lot of people’s depression which can, in turn, turn to suicide. But, it doesn’t have to.

Keep an eye on your friends and family. Your children. Your parents. Depression knows no age limit. There are plenty of phone numbers you can call to talk:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1‑800‑273‑TALK (8255)

Trans Lifeline: US (877) 565-8860

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233

Crisis Text Line: Text HELLO to 741741

Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1

We only have one life to live…and we’re all in this together.

Thanks for reading!

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Year in Review: My Top 100 Country Music Songs of 2017

Posted December 7, 2017 by Kreuzer33
Categories: Uncategorized

It’s that time of year again where I like to take a quick look at my favorite country music songs of the year. We’re just about to the end, so now is as good a time as any, right?

Now, let me preface this list as I always do.

  • I’m not a professional music reviewer.
  • I don’t get paid to promote artists.
  • I don’t go by Billboard or radio airplay charts.

This list consists of the top 100 songs that I liked in 2017. The songs that I wanted to come on my radio while driving to and from work, on a road trip, or when I was just sitting at home. Note that not all songs may be “traditional country”. I listen to all genre’s of music, so I have no issues with country artists who play “non-traditional” country. To me…music is music. If I like it, I’m going to listen to it (and enjoy it).

By the way, my three kids had input into this list so some songs might have ended up higher than I might have put them myself. But hey…I value their opinions!

Also, you’ll notice that a lot of mainstream, radio hits by major artists are not included. No reason except for the fact that my list is not based on how famous you are. Simple as that. It’s the songs that I love (but please feel free to sway me in your direction if I left a song off).

You probably heard some of these songs every hour (on the hour) on your local country station. Others may not have been played much (if at all) when they should have been, in my own, personal opinion. Also, while some of these songs may have come out in late 2016, and may have even landed a low spot on my wrap up of the year, they were ones that were predominantly played (if they made the radio) in the 2017 calendar year.

Others may be primed for success next year so keep your ears open!

Either way, I’m sure that I’m going to leave quite a few songs off this list that could have easily made it. I know this going in and expect each and every one of you to say “hey, what about this song…or that song.” Please do.

Fight for the music and artists that YOU love!!!!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go through each entry and provide detailed background on the song, reasons for it’s placement, etc…But, feel free to leave a comment and I’d be happy to respond.

Now, without further ado, let’s get this party started:

100. “Ballad of 1892“, Jeremy Pinnell

99. “What I Wanna Be“, Jacob Davis

98. “Better Now“, Jericho Woods

97. “My Ex“, Emma White

96. “Free Drinks“, Faren Rachels

95. “Either Way“, Chris Stapleton

94. “Sky Stays This Blue“, Dallas Smith

93. “Sway“, Danielle Bradbery

92. “We Don’t Sleep“, Denny Strickland

91. “Different Kind of Love“, Casey James

90. “The Way I Talk“, Morgan Wallen

89. “Hillbilly Love Song (Hey Y’all)” Little Feather

88. “Lonely Call“, RaeLynn

87. “Love in a Bar“, Ryan Hurd

86. “Get While the Gettin’s Good“, Bobby Wills

85. “11:59 (Central Standard Time), The Railers

84. “Sing Along“, Kristian Bush

83. “Hide the Wine“, Carly Pearce

82. “Put a Label on It“, Ryan Follese

81. “No Peace in Quiet“, Delta Rae

80. “High Time for a Good Time“, Hillbilly Vegas

79. “Makin’ Me Look Good Again“, Drake White

78. “Stuck in my Head“, Craig Wayne Boyd

77. “Perfect to Me“, Clark Hill

76. “Kiss Somebody“, Morgan Evans

75. “Hell of a Highway“, Jake Worthington

74. “Ring on Every Finger“, LoCash

73. “Rollin“, Jackson Michelson

72. “Stay Downtown“, Cole Swindell

71. “She Got Me“, Cash Creek

70. “Wheels“, Steve Moakler

69. “All on Me“, Devin Dawson

68. “More Girls Like You“, Kip Moore

67. “I Could Use a Love Song“, Maren Morris

66. “Worth the Wait“, Lindsay Ell

65. “Settle for a Small Town“, Mark Mackay

64. “Losing Sleep“, Chris Young

63. “Own It“, Bailey Bryan

62. “Legends“, Kelsea Ballerini

61. “The Fire“, Ray Scott

60. “Craving You“, Thomas Rhett featuring Maren Morris

59. “Written in the Sand“, Old Dominion

58. “You Look Good“, Lady Antebellum

57. “The Long Way“, Brett Eldredge

56. “Three Chords & the Truth“, Chase Rice

55. “God Bless This Mess“, Jillian Jacqueline

54. “Last Time for Everything“, Brad Paisley

53. “Missing“, William Michael Morgan

52. “Old Porch Swing“, Tony Jackson

51. “Diane“, Cam

50. “Think a Little Less“, Michael Ray

49. “When Lonely Calls“, Sons of the Palomino

48. “Wild West“, Runaway June

47. “Our Side“, Michael Beck

46. “Like You That Way“, Canaan Smith

45. “Sunday Morning“, Parmalee

44. “California“, Big & Rich

43. “Preachin’ to the Choir“, A Thousand Horses

42. “WD-40“, Muscadine Bloodline

41.  “Yours“, Russell Dickerson

40. “Bottle By My Bed“, Sunny Sweeney

39. “What Guy Wouldn’t“, Waterloo Revival

38. “Singles You Up“, Jordan Davis

37. “Sweetheart“, Kari Lynch

36. “Dive Bar in Dahlonga“, Ashley McBryde

35. “Getting Over You“, Jackie Lee

34. “Clean Up on Aisle Five“, Mo Pitney

33. “Better Me“, Montgomery Gentry

32. “Love Can Go to Hell“, Brandy Clark

31. “Crazy About You“, The Road Hammers

30. “Ask Me How I Know“, Garth Brooks

29. “Happens Like That“, Granger Smith

28. “Broken Halos“, Chris Stapleton

27. “In Case You Didn’t Know“, Brett Young

26. “How Not To“, Dan and Shay

25. “Five More Minutes“, Scotty McCreery

24. “What Ifs“, Kane Brown featuring Lauren Alaina

23. “Heaven on Down the Highway“, Halfway to Hazard

22. “Never Land“, Eli Young Band

21. “Make a Little“, Midland

20. “Just a Phase“, Adam Craig

19. “Speakers, Bleachers and Preachers“, Brandon Lay

18. “Woke Up in Nashville“, Seth Ennis

17. “Hurricane“, Luke Combs

16. “Body Like a Backroad“, Sam Hunt

15. “Heartache on the Dance Floor“, John Pardi

14. “All the Pretty Girls“, Kenny Chesney

13. “The Hard Way“, Cash Creek

12. “You Broke Up with Me“, Walker Hayes

11. “She’s with Me“, High Valley

10. “Bridges“, A Thousand Horses

9. “Drinkin’ Problem“, Midland

8. “Greatest Love Story“, LANco

7. “Every Little Thing“, Carly Pearce

6. “When it Rains it Pours“, Luke Combs

5. “Fix a Drink“, Chris Janson

4. “Outta Style“, Aaron Watson

3. “It Ain’t My Fault“, Brothers Osborne

2. “Roots“, Zac Brown Band

1. “No Such Thing as a Broken Heart“, Old Dominion

 

Well that’s it. My Top 100 of 2017!

Where did I hit the nail on the head? Where did the arrow miss the mark?

I want to hear from you!

Let me know in the comments below!

James Wesley Brings “Real” Country Music to Goldendale, Washington

Posted November 10, 2017 by Kreuzer33
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Goldendale, Washington.

You might ask the question: What brings someone out to this small community of approximately 4,000 people just north of the Columbia River Gorge?

Well, for one thing, how about the music of James Wesley!

This summer, I took the family 3 hours East to catch a show at the Klickitat County Fair and Rodeo. My kids have been fans for years, but due to circumstances (such as playing 21 and over shows at the bar) they haven’t had the chance to catch a live performance.

I can tell you that they weren’t disappointed.

1

Frankly, anytime Wesley and his band make the trek out to the West Coast, I pretty much do whatever it takes to take in at least one show. There aren’t many performers in country music today like Wesley. While much of the genre has gone pop, he continues to stick to his traditional roots and he always brings his “A” game to his live performances.

First a little background…

Let me quickly educate you on this artist for a moment. With hits such as “Real”, “Didn’t I”, “Jackson Hole” 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 California stations, such as 95.3 KRTY, KAT Country 103 and 101.9 The Wolf, who continue to keep Wesley on their playlists.

But let’s be REAL for a second. To this day, Wesley is 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.

People often ask me: what’s the best way to describe one of his shows? How about high energy. How about highly entertaining. How about worth every penny. Do you get the idea? I’ll put it another way: 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.

Most importantly, he’s also VERY passionate about his music and 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 and check him out on Facebook. Trust me. He’s as friendly in-person as he is on Twitter and really makes every effort to get to know each and every one of his fans. I wish more artists would follow his lead.

2

Now, back to the show. Being in a small, farming community, you can expect that Wesley was able to find an immediate connection with the crowd. And he certainly did. While not the size of a stadium show, Wesley packed in what seemed to be half the town on a chilly, breezy summer night.

Besides the staple set list songs that I mentioned earlier (Jackson Hole, Real, Didn’t I, Thank a Farmer) we were also treated once again with a selection of “new” songs that haven’t made it on the radio yet (but perhaps on an upcoming album?).

I’ve said this before, but i want to be sure that I touch upon this again in this review: there are a few songs that I expect will be hits in the near future, if given the opportunity. These songs include: “Cornfield”, “Trouble I Like”, “The You I Wanna Know”, “Running” (co-written with Marcum Stewart and Zac Wrixon), “You Should Be Here with Me” and “See You on the Radio”. These are just a few songs that continue to stick out for me as having the potential to be radio hits.

Other songs, such as “Rooster” and “Walking Contradiction” are two that always jump out at me during the live shows. Both of these tunes always get the crowd on their feet, and at both shows this week, I can safely say that they did it again. However, while it’s always great to hear original songs, let’s not forget about the beauty of the cover song. Especially at a live show. One thing that Wesley and the band like to do is mix their own music with the sounds of Merle Haggard, George Jones, Hank Williams Jr. and Johnny Cash. Some “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive” and “Mama Tried”. A little “White Lightning”. Even a special treat with “Family Tradition”.

Fantastic stuff.

However, most importantly, the band did a fantastic rendition of my kids favorite song, “Hooked Up”. He even dedicated it to them in advance. I can tell you that this made their day. They are STILL talking about it!

3

I’ll admit, I have a personal connection to the song. It doesn’t make me biased. Anyone who knows me knows that I shoot from the hip in all of my reviews. This review is no different.

My step father, who passed away a few years ago, was a fisherman his entire life. He used to tell all those fish stories that you always hear about. Catching the “big one” and “the one that got away”. He told them all. He participated in tournaments around the country. He spent years in Alaska. He even owned his own charter in Bodega Bay/Tomales Bay, California. Bald Eagle Fishing. I’ll never forget it.

The first time I heard the song was only a few short weeks after he passed. At the time I was devastated (after losing my birth father only 6 months earlier). That first time brought tears streaming down my face. Just listening to the lyrics reminded me of all of the good times. The fishing stories. Knowing that he would have absolutely LOVED this song. Hearing “Hooked Up” for the first time brought a smile back to my face for the first time in weeks.

That’s the mark of a great song. Bringing pure emotion out of me…the listener. That’s what great music is all about, right?

4

As always, I’ve done a lot of talking here. But Wesley and his band are worth my gift of gab. I do want to reiterate 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 coming 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!

As always, I had a fantastic time and as I sit here writing this review, I’m once again going back through the photos and realizing what night it was!

5

So 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!

 

 

Half Year in Review: My Top 50 Country Music Songs of 2017…So Far

Posted June 10, 2017 by Kreuzer33
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s that time of year again where I like to take a quick look at my favorite country music songs of the year so far. We’re just about at the halfway point so now is as good a time as any, right?

Now, let me preface this list as I always do.

  • I’m not a professional music reviewer.
  • I don’t get paid to promote artists.
  • I don’t go by Billboard or radio airplay charts.

This list consists of the top 50 songs that I like so far in 2017. The songs that I wanted to come on my radio while driving to and from work, on a road trip, or when I was just sitting at home. Note that not all songs may be “traditional country”. I listen to all genre’s of music, so I have no issues with country artists who play “non-traditional” country. To me…music is music. If I like it, I’m going to listen to it (and enjoy it).

By the way, my three kids had input into this list so some songs might have ended up higher than I might have put them myself. But hey…I value their opinions!

Also, you’ll notice that a lot of mainstream, radio hits by major artists are not included. No reason except for the fact that my list is not based on how famous you are. Simple as that. It’s the songs that I love (but please feel free to sway me in your direction if I left a song off).

You probably heard some of these songs every hour (on the hour) on your local country station. Others may not have been played much (if at all) when they should have been, in my own, personal opinion. Also, while some of these songs may have come out in late 2016, and may have even landed a low spot on my wrap up of the year, they were ones that were predominantly played (if they made the radio) so far in the 2017 calendar year.

Others may be primed for success later this year so keep your ears open!

Either way, I’m sure that I’m going to leave quite a few songs off this list that could have easily made it. I know this going in and expect each and every one of you to say “hey, what about this song…or that song.” Please do. Fight for the music and artists that YOU love!!!!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go through each entry and provide detailed background on the song, reasons for it’s placement, etc…But, feel free to leave a comment and I’d be happy to respond.

And now, Without further ado, let’s get this party started with my standard three way tie at #50:

(T) 50. “WD-40“, Muscadine Bloodline

(T) 50. “Different Kind of Love“, Casey James

(T) 50. “Worth the Wait“, Lindsay Ell

49. “Get While the Gettin’s Good“, Bobby Wills

48. “11:59 (Central Standard Time), The Railers

47. “Sing Along“, Kristian Bush

46. “What I Wanna Be“, Jacob Davis

45. “Settle for a Small Town“, Mark Mackay

44. “Wheels“, Steve Moakler

43. “High Time for a Good Time“, Hillbilly Vegas

42. “Makin’ Me Look Good Again“, Drake White

41. “Dive Bar in Dahlonga“, Ashley McBryde

40. “Put a Label on It“, Ryan Follese

39. “More Girls Like You“, Kip Moore

38. “Ring on Every Finger“, LoCash

27. “Think a Little Less“, Michael Ray

36. “Heaven on Down the Highway“, Halfway to Hazard

35. “Own It“, Bailey Bryan

34. “You Look Good“, Lady Antebellum

33. “Missing“, William Michael Morgan

32. “Hell of a Highway“, Jake Worthington

31. “What Guy Wouldn’t“, Waterloo Revival

30. “Love Can Go to Hell“, Brandy Clark

29. “Five More Minutes“, Scotty McCreery

28. “Just a Phase“, Adam Craig

27. “Getting Over You“, Jackie Lee

26. “Heartache on the Dance Floor“, John Pardi

25. “Singles You Up“, Jordan Davis

24. “Sunday Morning“, Parmalee

23. “Craving You“, Thomas Rhett featuring Maren Morris

22. “Crazy About You“, The Road Hammers

21. “She’s with Me“, High Valley

20. “Happens Like That“, Granger Smith

19. “How Not To“, Dan and Shay

18. “Woke Up in Nashville“, Seth Ennis

17. “Like You That Way“, Canaan Smith

16. “Never Land“, Eli Young Band

15. “Hurricane“, Luke Combs

14. “In Case You Didn’t Know“, Brett Young

13. “Broken Halos“, Chris Stapleton

12. “All the Pretty Girls“, Kenny Chesney

11. “Preachin’ to the Choir“, A Thousand Horses

10. “The Hard Way“, Cash Creek

9. “Body Like a Backroad“, Sam Hunt

8. “Greatest Love Story“, LANco

7. “Every Little Thing“, Carly Pearce

6. “When it Rains it Pours“, Luke Combs

5. “Outta Style“, Aaron Watson

4. “Drinkin’ Problem“, Midland

3. “Fix a Drink“, Chris Janson

2. “No Such Thing as a Broken Heart“, Old Dominion

1. “It Ain’t My Fault“, Brothers Osborne

 

Well that’s it. My Top 50 of 2017…so far!

Where did I hit the nail on the head? Where did the arrow miss the mark?

Let me know in the comments below!

Concert Review: James Wesley Returns to California with “Real” Country Music

Posted May 12, 2017 by Kreuzer33
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When you travel around the country on business all the time, it doesn’t seem odd when you plan a trip around a concert. I’ve been known to do it in the past…and I know I will again in the future. That’s why I jumped on a flight from Portland, Oregon, to San Jose, California to catch a show on May 4, 2017, at The District Theater in Gilroy.

JW_Gilroy1

Frankly, anytime James Wesley and his band make the trek out to the West Coast, I pretty much do whatever it takes to take in at least one show. There aren’t many performers in country music today like Wesley. While much of the genre has gone pop, Wesley continues to stick to his traditional roots and he always brings his “A” game to his live performances.

First a little background…

If you’ve been living under a rock the past few years, and can actually say that you don’t know who Wesley is, then let me quickly educate you for a moment. With radio hits such as “Real”, “Didn’t I”, “Jackson Hole” 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  California stations such as 95.3 KRTY, KAT Country 103 and 101.9 The Wolf  who continue to keep Wesley on their playlists.

But let’s be REAL for a second. To this day, Wesley is 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.

Now, before I go too far, I can’t forget the rest of the band including Michael Blakemore, Jesse LaFave and Matt Morgensen, because they’re pretty damn good at what they do. To be a successful solo artist, you need a supporting cast that plays as a team. Cohesion, combined with hard work and dedication, is key to a successful live show. These guys have all of these attributes, and I would have to say that they are some of the hardest workers in the industry and deserve to be recognized for the effort they put in night in and night out to make a James Wesley show what it is.

JW_Gilroy_Band

Now onto the show itself.

Prior to James Wesley taking the stage, the audience was treated to the music of California’s own Mark Mackay who just released his new album, Trials & Tribulations, on May 1. Trials & Tribulations was recorded with producer, Phil Dixon and mixed by Christian James Hand. On this night, Mackay played a number of songs off the eight-track collection, of which many were written solely by Mackay. The album demonstrates his songwriting and authentic sound that bridges country and rock-and-roll music.

Mackay

A few of the songs that jumped out to me were I’ve Already Won”, “I Can’t Stop You”, the traditional “Reno” and my personal favorite “Settle for a Small Town”. I’m not gonna lie…immediately after the set, I went over to the merch table and bought the album and listened to it on the way back to the San Jose airport in my rental car. Really…really good stuff! But thinking back, I should have had him sign it when he was walking around later in the evening. Missed opportunity!

Mackay2

Credit: Patti Sue

Anyways, if you want to purchase it for yourself, please follow this link. Also, for more information on new music and tour news, make sure you go follow Mark Mackay across all of his social sites including Facebook and Twitter at @M2Mackay.

Mackay3

Credit: Patti Sue

Now onto the main event of the evening: James Wesley!

People often ask me: what’s the best way to describe one of his shows? How about high energy. How about highly entertaining. How about worth every penny. Do you get the idea? I’ll put it another way: 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.

Most importantly, he’s also VERY passionate about his music and 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 and check him out on Facebook. Trust me. He’s as friendly in-person as he is on Twitter and really makes every effort to get to know each and every one of his fans. I wish more artists would follow his lead.

Now, back to the show(s). Besides the staple set list songs that I mentioned earlier (Jackson Hole, Real, Didn’t I, Thank a Farmer) we were also treated once again with a selection of “new” songs that haven’t made it on the radio yet (but perhaps on an album?).

I’ve said this before, but i want to be sure that I touch upon this again in this review: there are a few songs that I expect will be hits in the near future, if given the opportunity. These songs include: “Cornfield”, “Trouble I Like”, “The You I Wanna Know”, “Running” (co-written with Marcum Stewart and Zac Wrixon), “You Should Be Here with Me” and “See You on the Radio”. These are just a few songs that continue to stick out for me as having the potential to be radio hits. The later, which is typically the closing song on the set for his shows, unfortunately didn’t make the cut this time around due to time constraints, but it is still one of my favorite and one I expect to hear on the radio in the future.

Other songs, such as “Rooster” and “Walking Contradiction” are two that always jump out at me during the live shows. Both of these tunes always get the crowd on their feet, and at both shows this week, I can safely say that they did it again. However, while it’s always great to hear original songs, let’s not forget about the beauty of the cover song. Especially at a live show. One thing that Wesley and the band like to do is mix their own music with the sounds of Merle Haggard, George Jones, Hank Williams Jr. and Johnny Cash. Some “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive” and “Mama Tried”. A little “White Lightning”. Even a special treat with “Family Tradition”.

Fantastic stuff.

As always, I’ve done a lot of talking here. But Wesley and his band are worth my gift of gab. I do want to reiterate 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 coming year, make sure that it’s Wesley.

JW_GIlroy_Solo

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!

As always, I had a fantastic time and as I sit here writing this review on another flight, I’m once again going back through the photos and videos and realizing what night it was! Special thanks to Rudy Sabin of Rudy Sabin Photography for taking so many great photos!

So 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!

New Music: A Thousand Horses Keeps on “Preachin’ to the Choir”

Posted April 12, 2017 by Kreuzer33
Categories: Uncategorized

A Thousand Horses is back and better than ever with a brand-new single from their forthcoming sophomore album. Written by Heather Morgan, Morgan Wallen, Brad Warren and Brett Warren, the new track, “Preachin’ to the Choir”, is best described as a tribute to the hard-working, hard-partying everyday people that make up the United States of America.

Preach

I mentioned the songwriters earlier, but here’s a bit of trivia for you. What was the first song that A Thousand Horses recorded that they didn’t write themselves? If you guess “Preachin’ to the Choir”, then give yourself ten points. However, even though the band didn’t write it, doesn’t mean “Preachin’ to the Choir” takes away from their signature sound and lyrical storytelling.

Speaking of the band, A Thousand Horses consists of:

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

ATH_Group

Credit: Rudy Sabin Photography

While they have their own distinct sound, A Thousand Horses (in my opinion) are a mix of Southern Rock legends 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!

Now, let’s talk about the new single.

“Preachin’ to the Choir” 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! Don’t believe me? Take a listen for yourself.

Hobby told Rolling Stone Country that “Preachin’ to the Choir” is “the working people’s anthem.” When speaking about A Thousand Horses fans, Hobby says, “They work hard, they love hard and they play hard, and that’s what the song really speaks to.”

Much like their debut single “Smoke”, “Preachin’ to the Choir” stands out to me as a traditional southern rock with a country twist. The latest single is a little heavier lyrically than previous radio hits released by the band, but A Thousand Horses finds success in adapting great storytelling into their soulful sound. “Preachin’ to the Choir” is a perfect example of the  talent the band brings, both musically and lyrically.

Here’s a sample:

“If I’m preachin’ to the choir

Raise your hands a little higher

If you wanna sing along to a Saturday night revival song

Let me see you sparking up your lighters”

But what about the workers and the drinkers out there living the dream? A Thousand Horses has you covered:

 

“If you’re a 40-drinking, 40-working, living the dream, then you’re just like me

And I’m preachin’ to the choir”

After listening to the song on repeat for much of the last hour, I have to say that “Preachin’ to the Choir” solidifies A Thousand Horses as well-respected Southern rockers within today’s country music genre. Coming off a successful run with Jason Aldean and Thomas Rhett on the Six String Circus tour, the band is ready for a big year to come and “Preachin’ to the Choir” will play a major role in their continued success.

But don’t take my word for it, here’s what others are saying:

“Preachin’ to the Choir” is the Horses’ doctrine, a crisp blast of country-rock that extols the virtues of the 9 to 5. Featuring the group’s signature gospel-choir backing vocals, the song’s hypnotic “all-in, all-out” chorus calls to mind the band’s Number One single “Smoke.”

Rolling Stone Country

Heavy guitars and the Horsettes add the signature to this new a Thousand Horses song. They’re working with Dann Huff now, but there’s not much to distinguish this song sonically from cuts on Southernality…it’s as straightforward of a country rock song as you’ll find on the radio.

Taste of Country

I truly enjoyed getting my first official taste of the bands second album and I can’t wait to catch up with Hobby, Satcher, Brown and Deloach on the road soon.

The guys, along with the always hard-working Horsettes, have really caught lightning in a bottle with “Preachin’ to the Choir” and I highly recommend that you check out both the song, and A Thousand Horses, at your earliest convenience.

“Preachin’ to the Choir” is available now for download on iTunes and look for the band on tour in a city near you. To keep up with A Thousand Horses, new music and tour news, make sure you check them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at @AThousandHorses.

Oh yeah…don’t forget to also check out the A Thousand Horses Stable on both Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates on the band.

ATH_Stable

Year in Review: My Top 100 Country Music Songs of 2016

Posted December 11, 2016 by Kreuzer33
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

It’s that time of year again where I like to take a look back at my favorite country music songs of the year. We’re into the home stretch so now is as good a time as any, right?

Now, let me preface this list as I always do.

  • I’m not a professional music reviewer.
  • I don’t get paid to promote artists.
  • I don’t go by Billboard or radio airplay charts.

Got it? Good. Let’s get going. My list consists of the top 100 songs that I loved over the past year (or so). The songs that I wanted to come on my radio while driving to and from work, on a road trip, or when I was just sitting at home.

Now you might notice that a lot of mainstream, radio hits by major artists are not included. No reason except for the fact that my list is not based on how famous you are. Simple as that. I listen to the radio all day long, but a lot of the songs that are played just get played too often. I get burned out. Or, I hear them so often that I change the station. For that reason, those songs may or may not be on my list.

Frankly, it’s my personal list which includes the songs that I love and want to hear (but please feel free to sway me in your direction if I left a song off or ranked a song too high/low).  I must also put in the caveat that my kids did have some influence on the Top 100. They don’t listen to as much music as I do, but they certainly know the songs they like and hearing them over and over and over again helped push a few underdogs up the list.

You probably heard a lot of these songs every hour (on the hour) on your local station. Others may not have been played much (if at all) when they should have been, in my own, personal opinion. You’ll note quite a few songs on the list that haven’t even been played on the radio. If you see those…be sure to take a listen!

Also, while some of these songs may have come out in late 2015, they were ones that were predominantly played (if they made the radio) in the 2016 calendar year. Others may be primed for success later next year so, like I’ve said before, keep your ears open!

Either way, I’m sure that I’m going to leave quite a few songs off this list that could have easily made it. I know this going in and expect each and every one of you to say “hey, what about this song…or that song.” Please do.

Fight for the music and artists that YOU love!!!!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go through each entry and provide detailed background on the song, reasons for it’s placement, etc…But, feel free to leave a comment and I’d be happy to respond.

Now, without further ado, let’s get this party started with a three-way tie at #100:

(T) 100. “California Grown“, Tyler Rich

(T) 100. “Paradice“, Michael Beck

(T) 100. “Find a Way“, Lucie Silvas

99. “Monterey“, Dean Brody

98. “Let’s Ride“, Interstate 10

97. “Ice Cold Summer“, Trailer Choir

96. “The Dogs“, Justin Wells

95. “One Less Fool in Amarillo“, Marcus Lindsey

94. “Crazy Last Night“, Michael Tyler

93. “June“, Runaway Angel

92: “California“, Carolina Gold

91. “Fishing Alone“, Erik Dylan

90. “Rebound“, Drew Baldridge

89. “Think a Little Less“, Michael Ray

88. “Hometown Girl“, Josh Turner

87. “Angels in This Town“, Eric Paslay

86. “Room to Breathe“, Chase Bryant

85. “Are You With Me“, Easton Corbin

84. “Leaving Nashville“, Charles Kelley

83. “Leave the Light On“, Jackie Lee

82. “Drunk People“, Ryan Hurd

81. “There’s a Girl“, Trent Harmon

80. “Everywhere“, Mo Pitney

79. “With You I Am“, Cody Johnson

78. “A Few More Cowboys“, Toby Keith

77. “Better Than Today“, Kari Lynch Band

76. “I’m Not the Devil“, Cody Jinks

75. “Wrong Side of the Dream“, Austin Lucas featuring Lydia Loveless

74. “Shake it Like a Hillbilly“, Hillbilly Vegas

73. “New Hometown“, Mike Ryan

72. “Drinking with Dolly“, Stephanie Quayle

71. “One Wave at a Time“, Cash Creek

70. “Damn Drunk“, Ronnie Dunn

69. “Love Can Go to Hell“, Brandy Clark

68. “Lipstick“, Runaway June

67. “Dirty Laundry“, Carrie Underwood

66. “Hurtin’ on the Bottle“, Margo Price

65. “Roots“, Parmalee

64. “Running for You“, Kip Moore

63. “Cigarette“, Frankie Ballard

62. “Woke Up in Nashville“, Seth Ennis

61. “Better in Boots“, Tyler Farr

60. “Backwood Bump“, Waterloo Revival

59. “Middle of Nowhere“, McKenzies Mill

58. “Make You Mine“, High Valley

57. “If the Boot Fits“, Granger Smith

56. “If I Told You“, Darius Rucker

55. “Wasn’t That Drunk“, Josh Abbott Band w/ Carly Pearce

54. “Put a Label on It“, Ryan Follese

53. “American Country Love Song“, Jake Owen

52. “Setting the World on Fire“, Kenny Chesney featuring Pink

51. “Today“, Brad Paisley

50. “Suitcase“, Steve Moakler

49.  “Sooner Than Later“, Jacob Davis

48. “Livin’ the Dream“, Drake White

47. “Someone to Take Your Place“, Tara Thompson

46. “Getting Over You“, Jackie Lee

45. “Bluebonnets“, Aaron Watson

44. “Different for Girls“, Dierks Bentley

43. “Fix“, Chris Lane

42.”Rock On“, Tucker Beathard

41. “Break Up in a Small Town“, Sam Hunt

40. “American Love Story,” LANco

39. “Mayday“, Cam

38. “I Met a Girl“, William Michael Morgan

37. “Hurricane“, Luke Combs

36. “It All Started with a Beer“, Frankie Ballard

35. “Think of You“, Chris Young w/ Cassadee Pope

34. “Forever Country“, Various Artists

33. “Outskirts of Heaven“, Craig Campbell

32. “American Outlaw“, Halfway to Hazard

31. “Peter Pan“, Kelsea Ballerini

30. “Record Year“, Eric Church

29. “Drink by Drink“, Tony  Jackson

28. “Snapback“, Old Dominion

27. “80’s Mercedes“, Maren Morris

26. “Long Live Tonight“, LANco

25. “You Should Be Here“, Cole Swindell

24. “Humble and Kind“, Tim McGraw

23. “I Know Somebody“, LOCASH

22. “Girl Next Door“, Brandy Clark

21. “Sleep Without You“, Brett Young

20. “Vacation“, Thomas Rhett

19. “H.O.L.Y.“, Florida Georgia Line

18. “She Got Me“, Cash Creek

17.  “21 Summer“, Brothers Osborne

16. “Southernality“, A Thousand Horses

15. “From the Ground Up“, Dan & Shay

14. “Dirt on my Boots“, John Pardi

13. “Parachute“, Chris Stapleton

12. “Backroad Song“, Granger Smith

11. “Mr. Misunderstood“, Eric Church

10. “Dance With Ya“, Drew Baldridge

9. “Beautiful Drug“, Zac Brown Band

8. “It Don’t Hurt Like it Used To“, Billy Currington

7. “Better Man“, Little Big Town

6. “Song for Another Time“, Old Dominion

5. “Head Over Boots“, Jon Pardi

4. “Saltwater Gospel“, Eli Young Band

3. “May We All“, Florida Georgia Line featuring Tim McGraw

2. “My Church“, Maren Morris

1. “Die a Happy Man“, Thomas Rhett

Well that’s it. My Top 100 of 2016!

Where did I hit the nail on the head? Where did the arrow miss the mark?

I want to hear from you!

Let me know in the comments below!