Posted tagged ‘95.3’

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

November 10, 2017

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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

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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!

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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!

 

 

Concert Review: Jana Kramer and Mo Pitney Have a “Good Time Comin’ On” in San Jose, California

October 23, 2015

So it’s approaching midnight and I just got back from another fantastic KRTY show at the Rodeo Club in San Jose, California. Tonight, the capacity crowd was treated to an evening of country music with two great, up-and-coming artists: Mo Pitney and Jana Kramer.

KramerPitney

Around 8:30, Pitney took the stage with his band in tow. I’ve been looking forward to seeing Pitney play for quite some time now, so I’m glad that my latest travel plans worked out this time around.

As background, Pitney was born in Cherry Valley, Illinois. He began playing drums at age six, guitar at age twelve, and later played in a bluegrass band with his brother and a friend. Eventually, Pitney moved to Nashville where he signed to Curb Records.

Last December, Pitney released the single “Country”, which he co-wrote with Bill Anderson and Bobby Tomberlin. I remember the first time I heard it. It was one of those songs that just jumps out and makes you say “wow. This is big. This is a game-changer.” And it certainly was. The song went back to traditional country roots and put Pitney on the map. I heard country music fans talking about it day in and day out. His latest single, “Boy & a Girl Thing”, was released to country radio this summer and it’s certainly another winner.

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Credit: KRTY

During his set, Pitney ran though the aforementioned songs as well as a few personal favorites including “Clean Up on Aisle Five” and “I Met Merle Haggard Today”, a song he wrote after what can only be described as the “religious experience” of meeting the man himself. Nothing like turning a chance meeting with a living legend into a great song. That’s what country music is all about, right? On top of that, the audience was also treated to a fun cover of Cheap Trick’s “I Want You to Want Me.” How can you not have fun with that one?

I have to say, Pitney may very well be the future of country music. I was quite impressed with the set. Pitney is certainly a rising star and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store from him. It’s always nice to see a traditional country musician step to the forefront, especially in a day and age where it doesn’t always get the airplay it deserves. Make sure you check out his website and give him a follow on Twitter at @MoPitney and on Facebook.

After a brief break, it was time for the main event of the evening: Jana Kramer!

You may know Kramer from her roles of Noelle Davenport on Friday Night Lights and Alex Dupre on One Tree Hill. But she began her country music career back in 2012 with the release of her debut single “Why Ya Wanna” which appeared on her self-titled debut album for Elektra Records…and she hasn’t looked back!

Credit: KRTY

Credit: KRTY

One thing I noticed right away about Kramer is her smile. You can tell that she truly loves what she is doing as a musician, playing for her fans. Not once during her set did I see that smile come off her face. OK, maybe for a second during the encore when she was singing “I Hope it Rains” right to me. But, come on, how can you keep a smile to that song, right?

Her entire set was fantastic. A great mix of songs from her first record, and her latest album “thirty one”. Songs like “Why You Wanna”, “Whiskey”, “I Got the Boy”, “Don’t Touch My Radio”, and “Boomerang” filled the high energy set list. We were also treated to a fun track from her new album, “Said No One Ever”. The sing-a-long aspect of this song was great and the audience was really into it. Oh, did I mention that we also got a killer cover of Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic”? Dare I say…awesome?

If you’ve been living under a rock, and haven’t seen Kramer live, make sure that you clear your calendar the next time she’s in town. What a talent. Her vocals. Her stage presence. The way she interacts with her fans. Oh yeah, did I mention that she performed while more than 7 months pregnant? Did I leave that out? Seriously. I can’t remember the last time I was this impressed by a solo artist. Kramer is definitely going places and I can’t wait until the next time she comes to town!

Interested in keeping up with her? Make sure you visit her website and check her out on Twitter at @kramergirl and on Facebook.

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As I sit here reminiscing on another great night of country music, I have to give thanks, and the highest praise to KRTY. As always, thank you to Nate Deaton, Julie Stevens, Tina Ferguson, Gary Scott Thomas, Randy Jones, Indiana Al, Jamie Jackson, Danika Gurley, Jenna Johnson etc…for once again bringing the best in up-and-coming talent to the South Bay. I’d love to see any other so called “local country station” in the Bay Area try to do that!

Did you go to the show? Have you seen Mo Pitney and/or Jana Kramer live? Let me know your thoughts below.

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

February 16, 2015

Ho hum. Just another Sunday night. Just another KRTY show at the Rodeo Club.

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

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

Group

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

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

Toree

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

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

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

Check it out:

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

ToreeJK

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

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

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

Clay2

via @CountryFan101

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

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

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

Set

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

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

Jam

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

Check it out:

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

Fiddle

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

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via @CountryFan101

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

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

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

This is How You Do It…

August 16, 2010

The title says it all: THIS is how you do it!

My new brother in law, Shaun Krilanovich, sings “The Woman in Me” to his new bride, Katie, during the reception following their wedding on July 31.

To the local country music stations in the Bay Area, KRTY and The Wolf, if you’re looking for an up and comer to play at any of your local shows, check the video out!

Pay no attention to Johnny, Caitlyn and I in the background…

Concert Review: “Just Another Day in Paradise” with Phil Vassar and Jaron and the Long Road to Love in San Jose, California

April 18, 2010

When you go into a show with the highest expectations, you typically end up with an enormous letdown. With Phil Vassar, though, this is never the case. Once again, here in San Jose, Vassar lived up to all expectations with 90 minutes of great music and great fun!

The night began with Jaron and the Long Road to Love and don’t let the name fool you, this is a band consisting of just one: Jaron. Although he only played five song, it was a very enjoyable opening act. The song that you’ll probably know him from is a country radio staple these days: “I Pray For You”.

He may not be well known now, but what I loved about his stage presence is that he played with the crowd and had a great time throughout his set. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more of him in the days/weeks/months to come.  I can tell he is a future star rising. Next time, hopefully, we’ll get a little longer set.

Following his set, it was finally time for the moment we had all been waiting for: Phil Vassar’s return to San Jose! The crowd was electric as KRTY DJ Randy Jones took the stage and got everyone on their feet, screaming at the top of their lungs. A moment later, Vassar took the stage.

If you haven’t seen a Phil Vassar show, you are missing out on one of country musics best. I’ve seen the best of the best: George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood, Brooks & Dunn, Garth Brooks and more. But, while Vassar isn’t seen in the upper echelon of country music performers, and on an international stage such as these performers, he really should be!

Vassar is well known in the industry as a great songwriter and over the past 8-10 years, has been very well received playing his own music. Songs such as “Carlene”, “Bye Bye”, “I’m Alright”, “In a Real Love”, “Last Day of My Life”, “Six Pack Summer”, “Little Red Rodeo”, “Love is a Beautiful Thing”, “Just Another Day in Paradise”, “American Child” and “My Next Thirty Years” filled the setlist. Vassar didn’t miss a beat as he had the audience in his hand, singing along to every word.

Another great aspect of a Vassar stage show is how he brings in other songs that are not his own that continue to keep the crowd asking for more. One of these would have to be “Summer Nights” from the Grease soundtrack:

But what I have always enjoyed most of the Phil Vassar shows I’ve been to (6 in total), is how he incorporates a Billy Joel staple, “Piano Man”, into his encore to conclude the show. What else would you expect from a great piano player such as Vassar:

As always, the show exceeded my expectations and I can safely say that everyone who was in attendance left feeling satisfied. My wife got to meet Vassar and got the autograph that she wanted 🙂 A great evening all around!

Whether you’re a fan of country music or not, I highly recommend that you check out a performance by Phil Vassar. You won’t be disappointed.

Adam Gregory Tonight at the Rodeo Club!

December 5, 2008

Another great listener appreciation concert tonight at the Rodeo Club in San Jose as KRTY 95.3 brings Adam Gregory to the stage!

Get your FREE pass here.

Once again, this is an 18 and over show. Doors open at 7 p.m. and this is a first come, first serve show. Make sure to get there early for music and line dancing!!!

Gregory’s first single to the United States country radio “Crazy Days”, which was written by Kyle Jacobs, Joe Leathers, Lee Brice and Gregory, was released in August, 2008.  When you hear him perform this evening, you’ll know quite a few of his songs he’s sung, and written, including “Crazy Days” and “What it Takes”.

Should be another great night of country music in San Jose!

Crystal Shawanda Coming To The Rodeo Club

October 15, 2008

KRTY is bringing one of the biggest up and coming female country artists  to the Rodeo Club in San Jose, California this Thursday night, October 16. Live, on stage will be none other than Crystal Shawanda!

“You Can Let Go” the smash hit and song that reminds me of my 3 year old daughter every time I hear it will no doubt be on the set list. Also songs like “What Do I Have To Do” and “My Roots are Showing” “Baby You’re Back” should also be included.

Get your FREE pass here.

Without your free pass from KRTY.com, tickets will be $10 at the door.

Come out for another great night of country music brought to you by the best country station in the Bay Area, KRTY, 95.3.

FYI: This is an 18 and over show.