Year in Review: My Top 50 Country Music Songs of 2014

Posted December 13, 2014 by Kreuzer33
Categories: Countdown, Country, Country Music, Music, Review

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It’s that time of year again. Time to reflect on the year that was. For me, it was a difficult year. I lost my father on August 11, and I am still trying to deal with the loss. One thing that helped me get through the past few, difficult months, is good music.

Now, let me preface this list. I’m not a professional music reviewer. I don’t get paid to promote artists. I don’t go by the Billboard or radio airplay charts. This list consists of the top 50 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.

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 2013, they were ones that were predominantly played (if they made the radio) in the 2014 calendar year. Others may be primed for success in early 2015 so keep your ears open!

Either way, I’m sure that I’m going to leave 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, with a list this long, I wasn’t able to go through each entry and provide 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:

50. Dallas Smith, Wastin’ Gas

49. Chase Bryant, Take it on Back

48. John King, Tonight Tonight

47. Natalie Stovall and the Drive, Mason Jar

46. Maddie & Tae, Girl in a Country Song

45. Casey James, Fall Apart

44. Kip Moore, Dirt Road

43. The Swon Brothers, Later On

42. Canaan Smith, Love You Like That

41. Zac Brown Band, All Alright

40. Billy Currington, We Are Tonight

39. Randy Houser, Goodnight Kiss

38. Brantley Gilbert Featuring Thomas Rhett and Justin Moore, Small Town Throwdown

37. Justin Moore, Lettin’ the Night Roll

36. Ray Scott, Drinkin’ Beer

35. Frankie Ballard, Sunshine and Whiskey

34. Jerrod Niemann, Drink to That All Night

33. JT Hodges, Already High

32. Parmalee, Close Your Eyes

31. Sam Hunt, Leave the Night On

30. Lee Brice, I Don’t Dance

29. Scotty McCreery, See You Tonight

28. Jason Aldean, Burnin’ it Down

27. Luke Bryan, Play it Again

26. Florida Georgia Line Featuring Luke Bryan, This is How We Roll

25. George Strait, I Got a Car

24. Brantley Gilbert, Bottoms Up

23. Randy Houser, Like a Cowboy

22. Love and Theft, Night That You’ll Never Forget

21. Lady Antebellum, Compass

20. John Pardi, Up All Night

19. Cole Swindell, Chillin’ It

18. Craig Campbell, Keep Them Kisses Coming

17. Florida Georgia Line, Dirt

16. Kenny Chesney, American Kids

15. Will Hoge, Middle of America

14. James Wesley, I’m a Lonesome Fugitive

13. Maggie Rose, Looking Back Now

12. Miranda Lambert, Automatic

11. A Thousand Horses, Smoke

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/smoke-single/id952514687

10. Jake Owen, What We Ain’t Got

9. Eric Church, Give Me Back My Hometown

8. Hillbilly Vegas, Long Way Back

7. Cole Swindell, Hope You Get Lonely

6. Dustin Lynch, Where It’s At

5. Eli Young Band, Dust

4. Luke Bryan, Drink a Beer

3. Brett Eldredge, Beat of the Music

2. Dierks Bentley, Drunk on a Plane

1. Dierks Bentley, I Hold On

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

Posted October 31, 2014 by Kreuzer33
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I must confess, when I stumbled upon Hillbilly Vegas a few weeks ago, I didn’t know what to expect.

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

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

Vegas

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

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

Now, onto the song itself:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Final Take

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

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

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

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

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

Easton Corbin and John King Prove They are “A Little More Country Than That”

Posted August 27, 2014 by Kreuzer33
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It’s been a whirlwind two weeks for me following the sudden passing of my father. I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to get out of the house after the emotional toll this has taken on me. But I’m glad that I took the first steps in getting life back to normal tonight by checking out Easton Corbin and John King at the Rodeo Club in San Jose, California.

What a crowd. A sellout on a Tuesday night. You don’t see that too often but KRTY is known for bringing the best in country music to the Bay Area and tonight’s show DID NOT disappoint.

First to take the stage was John King. As background, just last year, Black River Entertainment signed King to their artist roster which includes the likes of Kellie Pickler and Craig Morgan. Great move guys! King is a star waiting to happen.

King

When you go to a show, I’ll admit, you usually look right past the opening act in anticipation of the headliner. Boy am I glad I didn’t miss this one! King is already a polished performer who not only knows how to work the crowd, he has them eating out of his hands. With songs like “Tonight, Tonight”, “Something in the Water” and crowd favorite “Huk’r Shoes” (that’s right, I said Hooker Shoes), King nearly stole the show tonight. 

But, one of the best parts of the evening was when, out of nowhere, King suddenly appeared in the crowd after his set. Signing autographs for his fans. Taking photos. Who does this??? I’ll tell you who does: John King. I can’t wait to see him again soon (whether it’s here in San Jose or in my home state of Oregon). Bravo Mr. King. Bravo!

Now, it was time for the main event: Easton Corbin. I’ve seen Corbin before, but not in a small venue such as the Rodeo Club. What a treat! How often can you say that you’ve seen one of country music’s biggest acts in front of 1,000 of your closest friends.

Easton

Corbin was on his game tonight. Mixing it up all night long with an assortment of new music, established hits and cover songs. “A Little More Country Than That”, “Lovin’ You is Fun”, “All Over the Road”, “Roll with It” and “Clockwork” were crowd favorites, but we also got a taste of some new songs that are going to hit the radio soon…and judging by the reaction for the crowd they can’t come soon enough! 

Cover songs? Did I mention cover songs? How can you go wrong with the likes of “Brand New Man” and “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas” by Brooks & Dunn and Alabama, respectively. The perfect encore to a great evening of music. I don’t know his name, but Easton Corbin’s fiddle player is FANTASTIC. It’s always great to get some fiddle action.

So there you have it. Another great show from the Bay Area’s country music leader KRTY! If you haven’t seen either of these acts before…what are you waiting for!

I’ve said this before (on Twitter @KreuzersKorner), and I’ll say it again: John King is a star in the making. Take notice now before it’s too late. And as for Easton Corbin: the guy is one of the best out there today. From the first time I heard him a few years ago, all I could think of was George Strait. Seriously. The voice draws an immediate comparison. Quite a compliment for sure.

Were you at the show? Have you seen either in concert? What did you think? Share your thoughts and personal experiences in the comments section below.

Taking it Day by Day…

Posted August 16, 2014 by Kreuzer33
Categories: Uncategorized

Experiencing all of the stages of grief over the past 5 days following the sudden passing of my father. 

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We had our good times, we had our tough times. But at the end of the day, we always had our weekly calls about whatever came to mind. Getting the two of us together in a conversation (two people who could talk your ear off forever) was always an adventure.

I hope you found that big Grocery Outlet and record store in the sky..and that they are in the same shopping center!

We love you and miss you.

Taking Some Time Away…

Posted August 11, 2014 by Kreuzer33
Categories: Uncategorized

I probably won’t be posting for quite some time (a few weeks) but I didn’t want everyone to worry.

I have been dealing with some family issues for a couple of months that now must be handled. Sorry to be vague but I just need some time to process things.

Dont’ worry, my wife, the kids and I are doing fine. Healthy and getting along (as best we can) :)

Thank you all in advance for your understanding. Please take care of The Korner while I’m away…

Concert Review: James Wesley Keeps on “Running” in San Jose, California

Posted July 11, 2014 by Kreuzer33
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Ladies and gentlemen…boys and girls…children of all ages!

If you don’t know him already, go spend some time on YouTube and check out Broken Bow recording artist James Wesley. If you can only catch one show this year, this is the guy to see. OK, I can’t forget Jesse LaFave, Michael Blakemore and Eric Burgett either because they’re pretty damn good too. But you get my point!

JKjames

For us hardcore country music fans, James Wesley is already known. With hits such as “Real”, “Didn’t I”, “Jackson Hole” and “Thank a Farmer”, he has been getting airplay for quite some time now thanks to stations such as KRTY 95.3 and KAT Country 103, but definitely not enough airplay (in my opinion) and I can’t stress this enough! His videos have reached the top of the GAC charts and if you see him in concert one time, you’ll be hooked.

JKmike

Before you ask too many questions about James, let me tell you this: he is a traditionalist, which is something that I find rare in country music these days. He’s also VERY passionate about his music and his especially his fans. He writes his own songs and both he, and the band, play their heart out each and every time they take the stage. Just take a look at the photos and they will give you just a small idea of what a live performance is like. But photos really don’t do justice.

JKjesse

During his show in San Jose last night, James mixed his own music with the sounds of Merle Haggard, Dwight Yoakam and George Jones (see the full set list below). “Mama Tried” some “White Lightning” and a little “Fast As You”. Good stuff! Though I won’t lie and say that I wasn’t just a little disappointed that there was no “Family Tradition” or “Folsom Prison Blues” this time around…but I’ll live!

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Besides the staples (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 (or maybe 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” were two songs that continue to stick out for me as having the potential to be radio hits. Do you hear that KRTY? KAT COUNTRY?

MikeEric

How do describe last night’s show? How about high energy. Absolutely entertaining. A little bit country…a little bit rock and roll! I could go on and on but I’m sure you’d eventually get bored with my endless rant. So, in closing, I’ll say it again: if there is one artist that you see in concert in the next year, make sure that it’s James Wesley. From the stage presence, to the love of the music to the time he spends with his fans, it is not just a concert. It really is a “Real” experience that music lovers of all ages and genres will enjoy. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

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Have you seen James and the band in concert? What did you think? Please leave your comments and thoughts in the comments below! Would love to hear about your similar experiences!

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If you like the review (and want to help spread the James Wesley name) please share this review with your friends, family, etc…

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By the way, I left out the pregame “festivities” with KRTY DJ’s Randy Jones and Indiana Al. Or are they now known as “Indiana Lambert” and “Randy Underwood”? I’ll just post one picture and let’s just say…you might not be able to unsee this! :)

AlRandy

Concert Review: (Steve) Holy Moly! KAT COUNTRY 103 – 2014 Listener Appreciation Concert

Posted June 22, 2014 by Kreuzer33
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LAC

What else can I say. I drove nearly 700 miles from my home in Portland, Oregon, for this show…and it DID NOT disappoint!

Yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure of spending nearly 7+ hours with 15,000 of my newest, closest friends in Stockton, California. While it may have been nearly 95 degrees for this outside show, it didn’t matter. To see acts including Maggie Rose, Natalie Stovall and the Drive, Chuck Wicks, Josh Thompson, Love and Theft, Steve Holy and Keith Anderson, no weather (neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night) could have kept me from having an incredible afternoon.

Credit: Nikki Thomas. We're having a blast at LAC 2014. Ignore the gum that apparently was about to fall out of my mouth.

Credit: Nikki Thomas. We’re having a blast at LAC 2014. Ignore the gum that apparently was about to fall out of my mouth.

First and foremost, I have KAT COUNTRY 103 to thank for their 2014 Listener Appreciation Concert. This includes the staff, volunteers and everyone else who made the event happen. Concerts like this take months of hard work and dedication, and from what I saw, incidents were minimal and everyone had A LOT of fun!

OK. That’s enough of the introduction. Let’s get to the music!

First to take the stage was Maggie Rose.

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I’ve seen her once before at the Rodeo Club in San Jose, California, and was excited that KAT COUNTRY brought her to kick off the show. She definitely set the tempo for a “kick ass” afternoon. Songs such as “Mostly Bad”, “Better”, my wife’s personal favorite “I Ain’t Your Mama” and radio’s next big hit “Looking Back Now” filled the set list, which sadly was only a few songs due to the number of acts at the event. If you haven’t caught Maggie live, I suggest you pick up a ticket next time she’s in town. She won’t be an opener for long. She has headliner written all over her!

Next up was Natlie Stovall and the Drive.

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I’ll admit, this was the act that I knew the least about going into the show, but I certainly left a HUGE fan. Let me introduce them to you. The band consists of Natalie Stovall (lead vocals, fiddle), Miguel Cancino (guitar), Zach Morse (bass), Joel Dormer (guitar, vocals) and James Bavendam (drums).

Anyways, I can’t say enough about this band to do justice. High energy doesn’t even begin to describe them. Awesome work on the guitar…the bass…the drums. Oh, and did I mention Natalie has a great voice and is an incredible fiddle player. This was demonstrated in their closing rendition of Charlie Daniels “Devil Went Down to Georgia”, one of the highlights of the entire afternoon.

OK. Stop reading my review for 10 seconds and visit their website, bookmark it, and come back to read the rest of the review.

Back? Good…

Next up was Chuck Wicks.

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What can I say about Chuck Wicks. I’ve been fan of his since his first hit “Stealing Cinderella” hit the radio back in 2007, and was very excited that the song made the set list. But then again, why wouldn’t it!

The crowd was also hanging on every note of “All I Ever Wanted” which kicked off the set as well as one of my personal favorites “Old School”. My wife was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see Chuck bust out any of his moves from Dancing with the Stars, but she, and all of the women standing around me, were content with the opportunity to see his eyes when the sunglasses came off and was joined on stage with Keith Anderson.

Next up on this afternoon in Stockton was Josh Thompson (sporting a KAT COUNTRY temporary tattoo).

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How can you not love a Josh Thompson show. Even with an abbreviated set list, he was able to pack in all of his hits as well as some new songs which will appear on his new album “Turn it Up”.

I’ve seen him twice before, both at small club shows at the Rodeo Club, but this was my first time in a larger venue. He didn’t disappoint. Songs such as “Beer on the Table”, “Way Out Here”, “Cold Beer with Your Name on It” and “Won’t Be Lonely Long” filled the set list and I can still hear the echo of the crowd singing every note, ringing in my ear today.

A great performance by a great artist (who by the way came out with Maggie Rose, Natalie Stovall and others to the after party following the show).

As we passed the halfway point of the afternoon, Love and Theft took the stage.

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Love and Theft, featuring Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson, who both sing lead vocals and play guitar, is a band that I see EVERY TIME they come to town. This was my fourth time seeing them play, and they just get better with each and every performance.

The set list started off with the rocking “Runaway” and concluded with radio favorite “Angel Eyes”. In between, they talked to the audience and just had a good time. Oh yeah, they also played “If You Ever Get Lonely” and the crowd favorite “Let’s Get Drunk and Make Friends”. If you haven’t heard this one, look it up. It’s a fun song that the crowd really gets into every time! Those of us in the front row were having a good time to it and the actual drunks behind us seemed to relate (with hugs and kisses for everyone around them).

Next up was the act that I specifically came for: Steve Holy!

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I’ve said this before, and I will say it again here: while he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves, Steve Holy is one of the best male country artists today. Fact!

Not only does Steve Holy have the voice and the hits, he has a stage presence that is second to none. No one is able to build a rapport with the audience quite like him. While he spent much of time during his set interacting with the crowd, his rapport building, and love for the fans, was demonstrated with the dedication of his hit “Good Morning Beautiful” to a young, 6 year old girl named Paisley (named after Brad Paisley). What a great moment.

The set list featured other hits such as “Love Don’t Run”, “Hauled Off and Kissed Me”, and my personal favorite “Men Buy the Drinks (Girls Call the Shots)”. While we didn’t get to hear “Radio Up”, instead, we were treated to “Wrap Around”, which was co-written by Keith Anderson who joined Steve on stage for the song.

Following the set, I was able to catch up with Steve (along with Chevon and Christine of course) for a few minutes AND introduce him to my wife. Being my wedding anniversary, and knowing that “Good Morning Beautiful” was our wedding song, this was a great few moments and the highlight of the afternoon for us.

An all-around great guy (and performer), don’t miss Steve Holy when he comes to your town. You’ll leave a HUGE fan!

To end the afternoon was the one, and only, Keith Anderson.

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Keith Anderson is not only a great performer, he’s an incredible songwriter. A quick Google search will bring up the songs that he has played a part in, either recording or writing, and it was great that we had a nice sample of them on this afternoon. As a country music fan, how could you not like songs such as “Pickin’ Wildflowers”, “XXL”, “I Still Miss You” and “Lost in This Moment”.

But besides the music, one thing that I really enjoyed (and respected) was how he seemed to come out and watch every act perform. He didn’t show up 30 minutes before his set and leave right away, like I know some artists do. The guy was out there supporting and enjoying each of the acts and even joined in on a few of them. We saw him taking photos with the other performers and just having a good time. That’s what I consider awesome!

Speaking of having fun….I think Maggie Rose and Natalie Stovall may have had the most fun of anyone when they weren’t performing. Definitely a couple of “Charlie’s Angels” with the water guns cooling off the crowd.

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So that’s it. Not much else I can say other than that! What an incredible afternoon with 7 GREAT acts!

I have to thank KAT COUNTRY 103 for putting on this shindig! Pulling together a lineup from top to bottom that has no holes in it is difficult to do in any musical genre, but you succeeded and I can’t wait until next year’s show.

I also have to thank my wife who was able to secure tickets for us, for our anniversary, from 700 miles away. She knew that I can’t miss a show that features Steve Holy or Love and Theft, and I got to see both (and 5 other fantastic acts).

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Yep! That’s me trying to look cool with my hand on the rail (thanks to Tim Cruz from KAT Country 103 for taking the picture).

Top Moments:

*10 minutes with Steve Holy after the show (and “Good Morning Beautiful”)
*Natalie Stovall and the Drive’s fantastic version of “Devil Went Down to Georgia”
*Keith Anderson checking out all of the other performances (and joining in on a few)
*Love and Theft’s “Let’s Get Drunk and Make Friends” sing a long
*Chuck Wicks “Stealing Cinderella”
*Maggie Rose with the super soaker (with help from Natalie Stovall)
*Josh Thompson putting some “Beer on the Table”

Were you in Stockton for the show? Tell me about your experience and what you enjoyed the most in the comments below!


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