Now THAT’S a Supreme Court mic drop!
Today, I am VERY happy for many, many friends, classmates, colleagues and others who no longer have to feel like 2nd class citizens!
I’ve been talking about A Thousand Horses for quite some time now, ever since I was formally introduced to their music by the folks at KRTY as the opening act for Josh Thompson and Will Hoge at the Rodeo Club late last year. So please let me take a few minutes of your time to tell you about what I feel could be the Best Country Album of 2015, “Southernality.”
As a live band, A Thousand Horses is second to none with their energy and love for music. The band, which includes Michael Hobby (Lead Vocals), Bill Satcher (Lead Guitar), Zach Brown (Guitar and Vocal) and Graham Deloach (Bass and Vocal), prides themselves on being influenced by some legendary bands, such as The Black Crowes, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and The Allman Brothers. And let me tell you something, you can certainly hear those influences from beginning to end on their new album.
I’ve had the album for three days now, and it has been playing on repeat ever since. First and foremost, the music is fantastic and something that is desperately needed in today’s country music scene that has become oversaturated with the same songs, same artists and “bro country” taking over the airwaves.
While the mixed Southern Rock/Country genre is not new, it’s refreshing to hear these days. From songs like “Sunday Morning”, co-written with Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes and arguably the best track on the album, to “Landslide”, a favorite of mine which grasps the spirit of the working man (and often leads off their live show) A Thousand Horses demonstrates that they can do it all, and not miss a beat from Track 1 to 13.
“Tennessee Whiskey” showcases the band’s Southern roots as it shows emotional heartbreak in the form of a conversation with none other than the iconic drink. Yep. It plays just like it sounds. “Trailer Trashed” brings out the redneck side of the band and “(This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial”, the band’s second single which is just hitting the airwaves, tells the story of singer Michael Hobby looking for a second chance in a relationship gone wrong. Now THAT sounds like a country song, right?
I’ve reached the 6th paragraph, and I’ve yet to mention “Smoke”, the #1 hit on country radio which has made A Thousand Horses a household name. I originally wrote a review of this single back in January, and have been thrilled to watch it climb the charts over the months since it’s debut. You may have caught it on National TV recently as well as a short snippet on the CMT Awards. Great vocals. Great rhythm. It’s certainly catchy and, like I said earlier this year, it’s the type of song that country radio needs right now!
I’ve heard others say that A Thousand Horses is too close to a knockoff of the bands I mentioned above. But I’m here to tell you that they are far from it.
This is a band that goes out and does their own thing every night. Like everyone else, they take cues from their influencers, but A Thousand Horses is a band that you need to see live to fully understand why they should be considered one of the artists to watch over the next few years. The band is currently on tour with Darius Rucker and Brett Eldredge and trust me, this is a band that won’t be an opening act for long so make sure that you arrive early if you are catching the show! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
In my opinion, “Southernality” is in the running for Country Album of the Year in 2015. This is an album that you can listen to from beginning to end without having to skip a song. Playing a mixture of southern rock and well-written ballads, A Thousand Horses is what country music needs in 2015.
*My only wish is that they would have included live tracks of The Black Crowes “Hard to Handle” and Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down”. Two great cover tunes that the band tends to play live. Maybe on the next album!
So if you’re looking for a great album this summer, make sure you pick up “Southernality”. You can find it at stores like Best Buy, Target and Walmart and it is available for download on iTunes and Amazon.
You won’t be disappointed!
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.
This list consists of the top 20 songs that I like so far in 2015. 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. 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 2014, they were ones that were predominantly played (if they made the radio) so far in the 2015 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 a tie at #20. Sorry, couldn’t drop either of these songs out of my Top 20.
(T) 20. “Kiss You in the Morning”, Michael Ray
(T) 20. “Nothin’ Like You”, Dan & Shay
19. “Better Than You Left Me”, Mickey Guyton
18. “My Mistake”, Cam
17. “It Feels Good”, Drake White
16. “Break Up with Him”, Old Dominion
15. “Young & Crazy”, Frankie Ballard
14. “I Love This Life”, LoCash
13. “Sippin’ on Fire”, Florida Georgia Line
12. “Love Me Like You Mean It”, Kelsea Ballerini
11. “All Country on You”, Austin Webb
10. “Love You Like That”, Canaan Smith
9. “She Don’t Love You”, Eric Paslay
8. “Biscuits”, Kacey Musgraves
7. “Hooked Up”, James Wesley
6. “Don’t It”, Billy Currington
5. “Trailer Hitch”, Kristian Bush
4. “Country”, Mo Pitney
3. “Girl Crush”, Little Big Town
2. “Homegrown”, Zac Brown Band
1. “Smoke”, A Thousand Horses
Well that’s it. My Top 20 of 2015…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!
OK. The headline is a little misleading because this wasn’t just another Friday night with Eric Paslay and Waterloo Revival. It was a night of good times, good friends and of course, good music. What else would you expect from KRTY?
I’ve been looking forward to this show for a few weeks now. Partially because I’m a big fan of singer/songwriter Eric Paslay, but also because I have been trying to see Waterloo Revival for months. Unfortunately, I’m always just missing them by a day or two wherever they play on the West Coast. This wasn’t going to happen again.
Before we jump into the show, here’s a little background on Waterloo Revival. Back when Cody Cooper met George Birge in their Austin, Texas middle school, he inspired him to express himself through music. Good thing because this took them down a path that affected both of their lives. Later, Waterloo Revival began sampling tunes during Nashville songwriter showcases, adopting the town as their new home. They soon caught the attention of Scott Borchetta, President and CEO of Big Machine Label Group, and signed a deal with Big Machine Records just one week later.
Talk about a whirlwind!
Anyways, let’s get to the show, which was certainly worth the wait. Waterloo Revival took the stage around 8:50 p.m. and, after a few technical difficulties with their sound, began their set. They had a nice mix of ballads and uptempo country music.
If you know me, you know that one thing that I enjoy most is when the entertainers interact with the audience. This wasn’t an issue with Waterloo Revival as they spent time between each song telling stories about how they wrote a song, or just chatting with the audience.
While “Hit the Road” is currently finding it’s place on country radio, and has received an overwhelming positive response from programmers, critics and listeners, Waterloo Revival has a few additional songs they played that could certainly find their way on the radio. Songs like “Slow and Steady”, “Two Shots” and “I Love You, I Hate You, I Miss You” are two that immediately come to mind.
If you see Waterloo Revival on the bill anytime soon, make sure you’re there early. You don’t want to miss your chance to see this band, like I did so many times before. Make sure that you check them out on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at @WaterlooRev.
Following a brief intermission, it was time for the man who I believe is right up there with Phil Vassar as one of the best singer/songwriters in country music today, EMI Records recording artist Eric Paslay. As background, Paslay graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 2005, but his passion was always music. Heck, he began playing guitar and writing music when he was just fifteen years old. From what I’ve read, the first song he wrote was a poem he wrote for a girl which he eventually put to music. Awww…
I’ll admit, one thing I didn’t expect was how tall Paslay was. This was obvious when Randy Jones of KRTY took the stage to introduce him, and had to do some nifty mic work. At 6’4″, the singer is the man behind the number one single “Friday Night”, which naturally he closed his set with. But what the average country music listener might not know is that he has also written huge hits for Jake Owen (Barefoot Blue Jean Night), Rascal Flatts (Rewind), Love and Theft (Angel Eyes) and the Eli Young Band (Even if it Breaks Your Heart).
His debut, self-titled album Eric Paslay has been extremely well received and features a collection of songs that cover a wide range of emotion. In addition to the before mentioned, up tempo single, “Friday Night”, it includes the ballad “She Don’t Love You”, as well as “Deep As It Is Wide” and “Song About A Girl”, which was a Top Ten hit for Paslay in 2014.
I’m happy to report that Paslay didn’t miss any of his hits during the show, and also treated the crowd to some new music. Judging by the reaction of the crowd, his next album will be just as big, if not bigger, than his first. I, for one, am very much looking forward to hearing more from this artist in the years to come. Be sure that you give him a follow on Twitter at @ericpaslay.
What else can I say. Every time I make my voyage to the Rodeo Club, I don’t leave disappointed. While there was no “full band” show, with the speakers bumping and guitars blazing, it was still a great, intimate evening in San Jose. Thanks again to the folks at KRTY, Nate Deaton, Julie Stevens, Tina Ferguson etc…for once again bringing the best in up-and-coming talent to the South Bay.
What did you think of the show? Please feel free to leave your thoughts on the show in the comments below.
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.
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!
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.
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???
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
When KRTY announces that they are putting on a show that will blow you away, it’s not just hot air.
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: