Posted tagged ‘California’

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!

 

 

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Artist Spotlight: David Brookings

June 3, 2016

As anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis knows, I tend to focus my taste in music to the genres of country and rock. They’ve always been the cornerstone of what I choose to listen to, thanks in large part to an upbringing on Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Boston and the likes.

But sometimes, I have to go back to other areas that I also enjoy and as I’ve said many times, I’m a huge fan of all types of music. With a collection that ranges from Garth Brooks, to Metallica and Green Day, to They Might Be Giants, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, The Beatles and even Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, you might say that my love for music is a bit eclectic.

Yep. That’s how I roll!

So today, I’m going to dive into my bag of tricks. I want to bring you an artist I came across a few years ago (I’ll get to that later) and only reaquainted myself with over the past week. While he doesn’t fit in my traditional country and rock background, he’s still someone that you should take a listen to.

His name is David Brookings.

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First, a little background. Brookings grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and began his journey towards a career in music at the age of 9 when he started playing guitar and writing his own songs. By the age of 15, he was playing in local clubs with local bands. He released his first solo album, “Sounds Off” in 2000. A year later, he moved to Memphis, Tennessee, to continue his musical journey.

In 2004, Brookings released his sophomore album, “End of an Error”. During much of the decade, he worked as a tour guide at Sun Studio, where he recorded 3 more albums, bringing his total to five. Needless to say, Brookings is no newcomer to the business.

By 2009, it was time to head out to the west coast with a move to San Jose, California (my home for seven years) after a chance meeting with Apple CEO Steve Jobs. In 2013, Brookings released his sixth solo album, “The Maze”. It was at this time where I first came across his music.

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Actually, that’s not entirely true. “The Maze” was a great introduction to his own music, but where I truly know the name from is his INCREDIBLE project on The Beatles that he undertook in 2010 and 2011 to record 209 Beatles songs in 209 days. No seriously. He actually did it! More information can be found on the Facebook page set up for this project.

Now, back to the present. Brookings latest album is set for release on June 10, 2016 (hey…just one week from the time I’m writing this!). The album is titled “David Brookings and the Average Lookings” and I’m certainly looking forward to its release. Not just because I’m average looking myself, but because I know that it will be filled with some great music.

DB

Here’s a quick trailer for the album. Songs such as “Hearts”, “Time to Go”, “This is the Life” and “Place We Can Go” stand out for me.

As noted in the “Editor’s Notes” on iTunes:

A sugary blast of soaring hooks and clever lyrical turns, David Brookings’ whip-smart songwriting is a perfect match for the tight, guitar-driven backing of the Average Lookings. Songs like “Place We Can Go” and “This Is the Life” channel the fiery edge of Elvis Costello’s Attractions, where sweeter moments—like the lead-off track “Hearts” or the coy “I’m in Love with Your Wife”—are playful power pop with a well-polished, vintage luster.

If you’re reading this pre-June 10, don’t miss the official album release show which takes place that evening on Friday, June 10, 2016 at the Willow Den in San Jose, California. Should be a fun evening!

I know there’s more that I could talk about here, but I don’t want to bore you with my words. Instead, I’ll let you check out some more of his earlier music for yourself:

She’s Been Gone for Years

No Regrets

If I Don’t Make it Back

The Maze

The Dream is Over

Always be the Same

If you haven’t checked him out before, give him a look. Also, make sure you keep up with him via his website or follow him on Twitter at  @davidbrookings and Facebook for his latest news and concert schedule.

Don’t forget to check out “David Brookings and the Average Lookings” and purchase more of his music on iTunes or on his website.

So what did I miss? Have you seen David Brookings live? What do you think of him? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Artist Spotlight: Toree McGee

May 25, 2016

My 3 year old is currently in her room. Her music is turned up really loud and she’s dancing around to California Gurls by Katy Perry (yeah, I know. What’s up with that, right?).

But the song got me back to thinking about doing another spotlight on a California grown country artist. Or in this case, a “California Girl”. Let me introduce you to Toree McGee.

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Gifted with a rafter-reaching soprano range and a voice that brings out a true grit and fire, McGee describes her music as a blend of “Woodstock rock ‘n’ roll, and  sparkly country.” Interesting mix, but you’ll soon understand where she gets it from and why it works!

First a little background.

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 enjoy her live shows (I’ve probably caught here 5-6 times now) with my professed love for classic rock and country music.

McGee has some of the strongest vocals I’ve heard in a long time. Her musical style embodies elements of her influences, ranging from the sounds of The Judds and LeAnn Rimes, to  Guns N’ Roses and Aerosmith. She also embodies the vocals of Janis Joplin.

In her own words:

“I was a really big fan of Janis Joplin for a long time. I loved her uniqueness and how you could feel her emotion when she sang. But the whole rock ‘n’ roll kind of jagged edge thing wasn’t really me all the way. I always had a sunshiny personality, and I wasn’t as hardened as the rock scene was. Country music always made me happy, and everything always brought me back to that.”

McGee had her first performance as an opening act with a 30 minute set for country music superstar, Clay Walker in San Jose at the Rodeo Club, followed by another opening slot for one of my favorites: A Thousand Horses.

While she throws a lot of great cover songs into her typical setlist, McGee has a few of her own including “Run Right Back to You” and her first single, “Amen”.

Amen

“Amen”, gained airplay on Northern California radio stations and climbed to the #1 slot on 95.3 KRTY’s ‘Hot 9 @ 9’ segment. It has also gained the attention of Sirius/XM radio, as well as local news stations. The aforementioned “Amen” was released on March 31, 2015 and her full EP was officially released in October 2015. I’ve got it. You should too!

In speaking of her EP, McGee says:

“I wanted to blend my love of hard rock and country together. I have this heavy-hitting, gravelly tone I can get in my voice, and I didn’t want to lose that side of me that played in bars and grew up in bars. But country has always been my favorite genre of music. That’s where I want to be, but I want to bring a bit of that old style of rock with me.”

I mentioned her live sets earlier. Now besides her own songs, she also loves to fill her set lists with a few cover songs. Here’s just a sample of a few that I enjoy:

My Church

Girl Crush

Someone Like You

Piece of my Heart

Stay

Son of a Preacher Man

But what I enjoy the most about McGee, is her happy go lucky personality and her passion for life and her music. Nothing sums this up better than the moment she first heard herself on the radio when Randy Jones played “Amen” for the first time on KRTY. This is what it’s all about!

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 at @ToreeMcGee and Facebook for her latest news and concert schedule.

Don’t forget to check out her music on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play.

So what did I miss? Have you seen Toree McGee live? What do you think of her? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Artist Spotlight: Michael Beck

May 22, 2016

A few days ago, I was talking about California Grown country music artists. You know, the performers that we get to see here on the West Coast who have yet to be discovered in Nashville. It’s amazing how lucky we are to have such great talent on this side of the Rockies.

I was fortunate enough to catch one recently opening for James Wesley at The District in Gilroy. His name? Michael Beck.

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Beck is a local guy from the Bay Area (who actually graduated from George Fox University just 10 minutes down the road from me here in Oregon). Influenced by many of the greatest country music artists of all time, his style has a familiar feel to it, yet he comes off as both unique and highly entertaining. Backed by an energetic band, known as the Michael Beck Band, every performance is a blast and is also fun for all ages.

Trust me when I say I’d love to take my kids to one of his shows with their love for live, country performances.

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Now, let me repeat myself again for those of you who may have missed it earlier: California grown country artists don’t always get the attention they deserve, but this is an artist that Nashville needs to take notice of…and they need to take notice right away.

Man. What a voice and stage presence that screams “Forget your drink…pay attention to me”. Most young artists can come off as unpolished or even unentertaining. Beck is nothing of the sort. He makes the audience want to get up out of their seats and sing along with every song.

At the James Wesley show, he played a number of songs from his CD “Countin’ on Tennessee” (available on iTunes) as well as an assortment of cover songs from the likes of Jon Pardi (Head Over Boots) and David Lee Murphy (Dust on the Bottle). From the EP, songs such as “Tennessee”, “Gone from My Mind“, “Paradice”, “Long Gone” and “The Reason (I Love the Rain)” all have the potential to be hits. Seriously, the EP is THAT good.

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What are you waiting for. Go get it now!

However, one song that stood out to me, and I know is a personal favorite of Beck’s, is “Little Piece of Heaven”. To me, nothing is better than a song that is written from the heart, about someone you love. In this case, Beck’s 18 month old daughter. Haven’t seen this available online yet (it’s just too new), but in the coming months, if you’re looking for a song that’s destined to be a hit, this is it.

I mentioned that Beck loves to throw in a few covers during his live shows. Check out a few of them below:

Head Over Boots

Cruise

Copperhead Road

Gone Country

Boot Scootin Boogie

Friends in Low Places

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If you want to learn more about this up-and-coming artist, be sure to visit his website, where you can also pick up the CD. Also check out the entire Michael Beck Band on Facebook for more information on news and upcoming shows. These guys are amazing!

BeckBand

Hey…how about a couple shows up here in Oregon?? Would love to introduce the Pacific Northwest to some real, California country music.

So what did I miss? Have you seen Michael Beck live? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Concert Review: James Wesley and Michael Beck Bring “Real” Country Music to Gilroy, California

May 14, 2016

Just when you think a country music artist can’t get any better, they come back to town and leave you speechless. This is the only way that I can describe the latest performance from recording artist James Wesley’s this past week at The District, a fantastic new venue located in Gilroy, California, which featured Michael Beck of the Michael Beck Band as the opening act.

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Michael Beck and James Wesley (Credit: Patti Galiano)

 

If you don’t know Wesley already, then let me quickly educate you 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, 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. Wait. Did I just say hooked? More on that later…

Before I go too far, and jump into my review of this show, I can’t forget the rest of the band including Michael Blakemore, Jesse LaFave and Matt Morgeson because they’re pretty damn good at what they do too. But you get my point!

Anyway, on to the show itself.

First, a little backstory. This show was originally scheduled to take place at a venue that won’t be mentioned, but on two days notice, had to be moved to another location, the aforementioned The District. While this change of plans didn’t make things easy for fans wanting to catch Wesley live, an enthusiastic crowd still made the trek to show their support. Those who came were treated to a night of fun and GREAT music!

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Hanging with James Wesley Post-Show (Credit: Patti Galiano)

Michael Beck took the stage first as the opening act. Beck is a local guy from the Bay Area (who by the way graduated from George Fox University just 10 minutes down the road from me here in Oregon). I know that California grown country artists don’t always get the attention they deserve, but this is an artist that Nashville needs to take notice of.

Man. What a voice and stage presence that screams “Forget your drink…pay attention to me”. Most young artists can come off as unpolished or even unentertaining. Beck is nothing of the sort. He makes the audience want to get up out of their seats and sing along with every song. His setlist included songs from his CD “Countin’ on Tennessee” as well as an assortment of cover songs from the likes of Jon Pardi (Head Over Boots) and David Lee Murphy (Dust on the Bottle).

From the EP, songs such as “Tennessee”, “Paradice” and “The Reason (I Love the Rain)” were a few of my favorites. But the one song that stood out to me, and I know is a personal favorite of Beck’s, is “Little Piece of Heaven”. To me, nothing is better than a song that is written from the heart, about someone you love. In this case, Beck’s 18 month old daughter. If you’re looking for a song that’s destined to be a hit, this is it.

Check out Beck’s cover of “Head Over Boots” here.

Want to learn more about this up-and-coming artist, visit his website, where you can also pick up the CD. Also check out the entire Michael Beck Band on Facebook for more information on news and upcoming shows.

Around 9:30 p.m., it was time for the main event of the evening: James Wesley.

So how do I describe James Wesley as an artist? Simple. He is a traditionalist, which is something that is rare in country music these days.

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.

Wesley_Band4

Credit: Patti Galiano

How would I describe a James Wesley show? How about 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 (Jackson Hole, Real, Didn’t I) we were also treated once again with a selection of “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: “The You I Wanna Know”, “Running” (co-written with Marcum Stewart and Zac Wrixon) and “See You on the Radio” are just a few 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.

Check out a live clip of “Real” here.

Check out a live clip of “Running” here.

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, Dwight Yoakam and George Jones. Some “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive”. A little “White Lightning”. Fantastic stuff.

Wesley_Band2

Credit: Patti Galiano

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 in April of last year, 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 was shot last year during a concert that Wesley performed at the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament weigh station on the Morehead City, North Carolina waterfront. In case you’re wondering, he and the band will be back at the tournament on June 17. If you’re in the area, don’t miss it!

Anyways, the song, which tells the story of anglers chasing blue marlin—through the eyes of the marlin—at the Big Rock, was released through iTunes, CalcuttaFishing.com, and Thebigrock.com so you will definitely want to check this out. Wesley and the band played it live for the first time at this show last year and it was great to hear it again on the set list this year. I am going out on a ledge and say that this will be a radio hit in the very near future. Do you hear that country radio? It’s time to get this song on the air!

Check out a live clip of “Hooked Up” here.

Wesley1

Credit: Patti Galiano

 

So as always, 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!

 

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

July 11, 2014

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!

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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

June 22, 2014

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!