Posted tagged ‘CMA’

Concert Review: Eli Young Band, Ryan Follese, Jackie Lee and Brennin “Turn it On” in San Jose, California

November 6, 2016

Two hours sleep. Yes, I’m writing my latest concert review on only two hours sleep.

However, it was definitely worth it.

For the second night in a row, I was treated to an amazing show at the Rodeo Club in San Jose, California, featuring some great up-and-coming talent, as well as one of my all time favorites: The Eli Young Band. Joining the headliners were Ryan Follese, Jackie Lee and Brennin, and as with other KRTY-hosted shows, this one certainly did not disappoint.

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As the clock struck 9 o’clock, Brennin Hunt (Brennin) was the first artist to take the stage. Brennin is a singer, songwriter, producer and actor who hails from Harrah, Oklahoma. To chase his lifelong dreams, he moved to Nashville back in 2007 and soon after landed his first publishing deal. He began writing and performing songs for numerous television shows while touring and opening for artists across the United States and Canada.

If you like artists such as Thomas Rhett and Sam Hunt, with their blend of country and pop, then Brennin is right up your alley. Brennin gained notoriety in 2011 as a contestant on the first season of Simon Cowell’s “The X Factor” and again in 2015 when he made a guest appearance on ABC’s “Nashville”.

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Currently signed with William Morris Endeavor and Deluge Music Publishing, his latest song, “I Can’t Do This” appears on Vince Gill’s 2016 album Down To My Last Bad Habit. His self-titled, 6 song EP, is available now.

When Brennin first took the stage, I could hear all the girls around me talking about one thing: his looks. But what I noticed about Brennin was how he immediately engaged the crowd with his guitar and voice, while at the same time, showcasing great songwriting skills. Once he had finished his first song, the same girls who merely mentioned his looks just a few minutes earlier, were now saying that they were surprised that he wasn’t just another cute guy with a guitar. The guy is talented, that’s for sure!

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If you haven’t heard his music before, I recommend listening to songs such as his latest single “Lose My Cool”, “Slow Rise” and a favorite of the audience, “Strut”. Here’s his “Promo Performance” of “Lose My Cool”:

Make sure you check out his music on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and Amazon. Also, keep up with him via his website or follow him on Twitter at @BrenninMusic and Facebook for his latest news and concert schedule.

After just a few minute respite, KRTY General Manager Nate Deaton took the stage to introduce the second act of the evening, Jackie Lee. Funny story here. Lee wasn’t even on the bill originally, but Deaton found himself sitting next to him on his flight back from the CMA Awards and invited him to play a few songs ahead of Eli Young Band and Ryan Follese. Naturally, he accepted.

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As background, Lee was only six years old when he stepped into a professional recording studio to cut songs with famed country songwriter, musician and producer Carson Chamberlain (Keith Whitley/ Easton Corbin). Lee’s father was a devoted fan of traditional country music, while his mother enjoyed pop hits from the 1980s. As a youngster, he  found himself influenced by everyone from Bob Seger to Justin Timberlake.

After high school, Lee headed to Nashville, and at the age of 19, he signed a recording contract with Republic Nashville. However the deal with Republic ended without the artist releasing anything for the label, and Lee was looking for another chance. He heard a demo of a song called “She Does,” and was curious about the tune until he was told Kenny Chesney had plans to record it. Chesney eventually passed on the tune, which worked out in Lee’s favor when he landed a new record deal with the independent Nashville label Broken Bow. Lee and his team decided “She Does” was the perfect song for his recording debut, and when his version was released in the fall of 2014, it soon landed on the Billboard Country Airplay charts.

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While the crowd was only treated to two songs on this evening, Lee certainly earned new fans. I would say that I was one of them, but that would be a lie. I actually became a fan of Lee’s at an earlier Rodeo Club performance. The guy can sing and he definitely knows how to make an impression on a crowd. I could hear folks all around me talking about how impressed they were with this young, up-and-comer.

His new single, “Getting Over You”, is just hitting country radio and made quite an impression on the audience. Make sure to keep an eye out for it and start requesting it right away. This song has what it takes to quickly climb the charts.

Take a listen:

Make sure you check out his music on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and Amazon. Also, keep up with him via his website or follow him on Twitter at @JackieLeeMusic and Facebook for his latest news and concert schedule.

Next up was Big Machine Label Group recording artist Ryan Follese (pronounced “fall-uh-ZAY”). As I have mentioned in a couple of previous posts, I first came across Follese a little over a month ago when I heard KRTY promoting that he would be in San Jose opening up for both Cassadee Pope and Eli Young Band. I’m certainly glad that I didn’t miss either show because Follese is something special. When I talk about artists that you need to drop what you are doing immediately and take a listen to, Follese is one of them.

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For a little background, Follese  co-wrote each of the six tracks on his self-titled debut solo EP, the Ryan Follese EP, including “Put A Label On It,” which hit country radio in October as his first official single and, naturally, was the closing song of the evening. We were also treated to his summer vacation anthem “Float Your Boat.” While the aforementioned songs might have received the notoriety to date, we also had the opportunity to hear a few more, great tracks from the EP such as “Wilder“, “One Thing Right” and “Lose a Little Sleep“.

This might surprise you, but Follese originally hit it big on the pop scene. During his successful run fronting the band Hot Chelle Rae, Follese co-wrote their #1 hit “Tonight, Tonight” and toured around the globe, featuring arena dates with none other than Taylor Swift. What really stands out for me is how Follese has seamlessly transitioned from pop-rock to country music. I’ve seen a number of artists go the other direction, and a few that have tried to join the country ranks, but I have a feeling that we’ll look back in a few years and realize that Follese made the right decision.

It also doesn’t hurt that Follese grew up surrounded by the music of his country music songwriting parents, Keith and Adrienne. Their songwriting catalogue includes songs that he covered on this evening including Tim McGraw’s “Something Like That”, Faith Hill’s “The Way You Love Me” and Martina McBride’s “I Love You”.

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Watching Follese command the stage, it was clear that he is a polished artist who knows how to play the crowd. From the very first note, he had the crowd singing along to every note. That’s one thing that many country artists lack when they first launch their careers.

Make sure you check out his music on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon. Also, keep up with him via his website or follow him on Twitter at @RyanFollese and Facebook for his latest news and concert schedule.

Finally, around 10:15 p.m., it was time for the main event of the evening: Eli Young Band. To give you a little background on the guys, Eli Young Band is composed of members who met while students at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. They include:

  • Mike Eli (vocals and guitar)
  • James Young (guitar)
  • Jon Jones (bass guitar)
  • Chris Thompson (drums)

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Mike Eli and James Young met at the University of North Texas and became dorm roommates their freshman year. They played guitar and eventually began writing and singing songs together. They originally formed the acoustic duo, Eli & Young, while attending school. Thompson and Jones joined them later on and the rest is history!

With the 2011 release of their Republic Nashville debut, Life at Best, the Eli Young Band scored their first No. 1 hit with the aforementioned “Crazy Girl.” The double platinum single became the most played country song of the year on Billboard’s 2011 year end chart. The band’s follow up single (and one of my all-time favorite songs), “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” became their second #1 and was certified platinum. It earned the band Grammy nods for Best Duo/Group Performance and for Best Country Song as well as Single of the Year and Song of the Year nominations from both the CMA and ACM.

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In recording 10,000 Towns, the Eli Young Band gathered songs from Nashville’s top songwriters, including Craig Wiseman, David Lee Murphy, Jon Randall and Will Hoge, and the band wrote half of the songs on the new album themselves. Their careful and detailed approach to writing and finding the very best songs for the new album paid off quickly as their first single off the album, “Drunk Last Night,” became the band’s third #1 hit. The second single, “Dust,” was the #1 most added song on the chart the first week with more than stations on board across the country. The song, my favorite on the latest album, is a rock-tinged number about a girl leaving small town life behind and taking charge of her future.

Their latest single, “Saltwater Gospel”, ranks up there (in my opinion) as one of their best songs to date. The song isn’t one of those Kenny Chesney toes-in-the-sand, beer-in-your-hand kind of summer anthem. It’s more like spending a Sunday morning at the “Church of the Beach”. And it works! Here’s the video, which by the way, was shot just down the road from me at one of my favorite places, Cannon Beach, Oregon:

Ok. So I’ve talked a lot about the band, their background, and their music. But this bears repeating: if you are looking for a legitimate, hard rocking, country band, then the Eli Young Band is it. There are not a lot of bands touring today who I can put in the same bucket as them. Their live show is a real treat. These guys give it their all from the very first note and don’t quite until their set is complete.

What I love is that they mix their new songs with the hits. They don’t shove a show full of new music down your throat, like many do these days. The band understands the needs and wants of their audience. They want to hear songs like “Even if it Breaks Your Heart”, “Dust”, “Crazy Girl”, “Drunk Last Night” and “Always the Love Songs”. They get it. Before they were country music superstars, they were country music fans. But that doesn’t mean that they won’t introduce you to new music. And that’s not a bad thing. They’ll even throw in a cover song or two. A little “Dust on the Bottle”. Some “Learning to Fly” from Tom Petty. I even heard some Fleetwood Mac guitar riffs. Nothing wrong with that at all.

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To summarize, the Eli Young Band tore down the house and the Rodeo Club will never be the same. I can honestly say that I got my money’s worth and more. There are not many acts currently on tour who put on a show like these guys. When they come to your town, make sure you check them out!

Also, you can find their entire catalog of music on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon. You should definitely keep up with them via their website or follow them on Twitter at @EliYoungBand and Facebook for their latest news and concert schedule.

Finally, as always I have to give thanks to the staff at KRTY. Thank you to Nate Deaton, Julie Stevens, Tina Ferguson, Gary Scott Thomas, Randy Jones, Tony Michaels, Indiana Al, etc…for once again bringing the biggest and best talent to the South Bay. No one does it quite like you guys, and it is appreciated more than you could ever know!

Were you at the show? Have you seen Eli Young Band, Ryan Follese, Jackie Lee or Brennin live? Let me know your thoughts on these talented musicians in the comments section below.

Taylor Swift Takes Top Honors at CMA Awards

November 12, 2009

It was a big night in Country Music last night as Taylor Swift walked away with four Country Music Association Awards, including the top prize of Entertainer of the Year, over longtime favorites Kenny Chesney, George Strait, Keith Urban and Brad Paisley.

Other CMA Award winners for 2009 included Best New Artist Darius Rucker, Best Duo Sugarland and Best Group Lady Antebellum. I thought that there were some great moments during the show including both Swift and Rucker’s wins but one performance that should not be overlooked was the Zac Brown Band’s rendition of The Devil Went Down to Georgia by Charlie Daniels. It was my favorite moment of the night!

What was yours? Did you agree with Taylor Swift winning Entertainer of the Year? What about Sugarland taking Best Duo from Brooks & Dunn and how about Lady Antebellum dethroning Rascal Flatts? Great night!

From the Los Angeles Times:

Taylor Swift made history at Wednesday night’s Country Music Assn. Awards by becoming the youngest person, at only 19, to win the coveted entertainer of the year title. Only five women —  Loretta Lynn (1972), Dolly Parton (1978), Barbara Mandrell (1980, 1981), Reba McEntire (1986) and Shania Twain (1999) — as well as one female group, the Dixie Chicks (2000), have received this honor in the 43-year history of the CMAs.

Swift — who just two years ago was named best new artist by the CMA — also won album of the year for her top-selling disc “Fearless,” video of the year for “Love Story” and female vocalist. Among those she edged out for that last award was show co-host Carrie Underwood, who had taken this prize the last three years running.

Her co-host on the ABC kudocast, Brad Paisley — who led with half a dozen nominations — was just one of three of last year’s champs to repeat with his third-in-a-row male vocalist win. Paisley also shared the trophy for musical event with Keith Urban for their duet “Start a Band.”

Sugarland won its third consecutive duo award despite the impending breakup of sentimental favorites Brooks & Dunn, who dominated this category every year but one from 1992 to 2006 (Montgomery Gentry bested them in 2000). Musician of the year was once again all-rounder Mac McAnally.

From Newsday:

Darius Rucker became the first black singer to win new artist of the year at the Country Music Association Awards, joining Charley Pride as the only African-American to win a major individual award, while Taylor Swift won two awards, including album of the year.

“First of all, to the fans, thank y’all for accepting me,” the jubilant Rucker said. “And I think most importantly, to country radio, you took a chance on a pop singer from Charleston, S.C. Thank you so much for that!”

Swift, who won the top prize of entertainer of the year, thanked the fans for their support of “Fearless,” the top-selling album of the year. She also won video of the year for “Love Story.”

“You guys, this album is my diary and so to all the people who voted for me for this, thank you for saying you love my diary because that’s the nicest compliment,” Swift told the audience.

Concert Review: Trailer Choir is “Off the Hillbilly Hook” in San Jose, California

May 15, 2009

All I can say is that this show was “Off the Hillbilly Hook”!

I’ve seen Trailer Choir before, but not in a venue as small as the Rodeo Club in San Jose, California. It hasn’t even been an hour since the show ended, but the vision of the crowd singing along to a trio of talented musicians is still running through my head.

I was happy that I got the chance to meet with Randy Jones and Indiana Al of KRTY both before and after the show. Great guys who work for a great, local country music station. 95.3 in the South Bay Area!

Here’s a little background on the band:

The group’s building momentum reached new heights when, after yet another packed show, Toby Keith introduced himself. “And then it was off to the races,” Big Vinny says. Trailer Choir were soon on a tour bus headed out on Toby’s Big Dog Daddy tour, where they played side stages, beer stands, parking lots – anywhere they could find fans to listen. “Toby said get your stuff, get the band, just get out there and introduce yourselves and play,” Butter says.

Keith’s fans enthusiastically embraced the band and their good-time sound. Songs “Off The Hillbilly Hook,” “My Next Five Beers,” “Rollin’ Through The Sunshine” and “Rockin’ The Beer Gut,” as well as their “did you see that?” stage show, led to a multitude of accomplishments.

These included 49 shows opening for Keith, performances at the CMA Music Festival and National Finals Rodeo, “Off The Hillbilly Hook” featured in the movie and soundtrack of the feature film Beer For My Horses, and the original song “Last Man Standing” used by ESPN & ABC in a national NASCAR promotion. And all this activity culminated in the November 2008 release of the four-song EP Trailer Choir, produced by Keith himself.

And all this activity culminates in the June 9th album release “Off the Hillbilly Hook.” The CD features the singles “What Would You Say” the title track, “Off the Hillbilly Hook” along with the crowd pleasing highly requested summer anthem, “Rockin’ the Beer Gut” just to name a few.

The show was opened by the California Cowboys, a local band that had some really great tunes! I’ve seen them before at the Sonoma-Marin County Fair and they’re playing the San Jose Flea Market this weekend.

Before Trailer Choir began, the band was seen wandering through the audience. The nice thing about still being a relatively unknown band (what am I saying, these guys are about to be huge) is that you can still walk around, unnoticed. Except by me I guess 🙂

I had a few minutes to sit and talk with Big Vinny as he made his way through the crowd. The guy is not a small man but he is one of the nicest, down to Earth artists I’ve ever met in person. He wrote their new hit “What Would You Say” and has dance moves that a man his size shouldn’t be making! I asked him if the band is starting to get noticed when out and about and he said that they’re just starting to get used to it. Just wait guys, you’re time is coming!

As the final preparations were taking place, I had a few seconds to talk to lead singer Butter. Very nice guy who, like Big Vinny, is very down to Earth and a class act. When I told him that we’re ready for a great show he said that “It’s about time for the fun to begin. We’ve got a lot planned so hold on to your hat!” Yeah, I had my trademark North Carolina hat on. Thanks for noticing! I knew the show would be good, but boy did I underestimate!

Trailer Choir hit the stage just after 10 p.m. tonight and it was a party atmosphere from the moment they hit the stage. An eclectic mix of their own songs, and cover songs from bands of every genre of music.

The crowd really got going with the second song of the evening, “The Joker” by the Steve Miller Band. A great sing along tune and you know everyone in the audience knew every word!

Have I mentioned yet that Big Vinnie is 380 pounds and he was a dancing machine…complete with a reverse worm!

My personal favorite “Rockin’ the Beer Gut” was next and lived up to the expectations I had hoped. The crowd was into it and Butter mentioned once again that this will be the bands next single…sweet!

More covers including “I Will Survive” by the stunning Crystal herself…Referred to by the band as Fergie May Clampet 🙂

“Jack and Diane”, “Baby Got Back ” and more followed!

Gotta love the happy go lucky “Rollin’ Through the Sunshine” followed by more covers including a stirring rendition of “Sweet Home Alabama”. The crowd had a choice between that and “Ice Ice Baby”. Either would have been a winner!

The show concluded with a great live version of “Off the Hillbilly Hook”. The crowd was going wild by this time and  Indiana Al, who coined this phrase years ago, could be seen dancing in the crowd with the spotlight (a small flashlight) over him.

A show wouldn’t be a show without an encore, which was gladly brought to us by the band. How many times can you say that you went to a country concert and left with Sublime’s “What I Got”. A perfect finish to a great show!

What really surprised me was that Trailer Choir did not play their current hit “What Would You Say”, a tribute to the 13 miners killed in West Virginia. I guess that the song didn’t fit into the party of the set list that was being used but it would have been great to have fit the song in.

Overall, what can I say. I had high expectations, and they were easily met. This is a band that is on the cusp of stardom and I’m proud to say that I got to meet them before they took that final leap to the big time. In my mind though, they’re already there!

Come back to San Jose soon y’all! Best show I’ve seen in quite some time. Top 5 for sure all time!

Caylee Anthony: Who Does CMA Refer To?

February 11, 2009

Attorney Brad Conway today addressed a question many were left wondering after yesterday’s memorial: Who was her uncle Lee Anthony referring to when he repeatedly said “CMA?”

What do you all think? Who was Lee Anthony referring to? Caylee? Casey? The Country Music Awards? 🙂

From the Orlando Sentinel:

Was he referring to Caylee? Was he talking to his sister — and Caylee’s mother — Casey Anthony? They both share the same initials.

When Lee Anthony eulogized his niece at the pulpit at First Baptist Church, he brought with him a laptop and read from it.

He told the mourners to withhold judgment and to fill their hearts with patience and grace. He spoke about “CMA,” saying how much he missed her and will never forget the promise he made to her.

Who is “CMA?”

Lee Anthony was “talking to all of them,” Conway said.

“He wanted his sister to know he loves her.”

The memorial served as an emotional day of closure for a family that has been in the media glare since last summer when Caylee was reported missing. Her remains were found in December a short distance from the Anthonys’ home in east Orlando.

22-year-old Casey Anthony is in the Orange County Jail under indictment for her daugher’s murder. She had pleaded not guilty.

On Tuesday, a crowd of about 1,100 people — many of whom never met Caylee — got a glimpse of the joy she brought to her family. The service lasted almost two hours and included prayers, performances by several singers, home videos and a photo slide show.

Kenny Chesney, George Strait Win Big at 2008 CMA Awards

November 13, 2008

It was a great night of music and awards last night on ABC. Country music once again brought together the top superstars (minus one of the greatest, Toby Keith) for the annual CMA Awards. Awards were handed out in all categories all night but to complete the evening, Kenny Chesney won his fourth entertainer of the year award, a feat which ties Garth Brooks for most Entertainer of the Year awards.

George Strait took home both single and album of the year, Sugarland won for Best Duo, Rascal Flatts took home the honor for Best Group and Lady Antebellum was named the Best New Artist.

Near the close of the show, Kenny Chesney did a great live version of “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven” with The Wailers. Other top artists performed on the show including Kid Rock “All Summer Long” and James Otto “Just Got Started Lovin’ You”.

Otto will be performing at Club Rodeo in San Jose, California on Thursday, November 20. Tickets can be bought in advance at the KRTY studios for just $10. Tickets will be $20 at the door.

From the Associated Press:

After winning the evening’s top award, Chesney said: “As much as tonight is about awards, I really believe that being able to stand up here is more about great songs, more about the fans, more about being on stage every night in front of a lot of people that really make it happen for me and the band out there.”

“This is my fourth time standing up here, and I’m really humbled and I really appreciate it,” added Chesney.

The award — his third straight win in the category — helped Chesney avoid a shutout. He was the night’s lead nominee with seven but did not pick up a trophy in the other categories.

George Strait won single and album of the year. Strait thanked the songwriters for “letting me sing such a beautiful song” after the poignant “I Saw God Today” won single of the year. He later won album of the year for “Troubadour.”

“Everybody says they’ve got the greatest fans. Well, I’ve really got the greatest fans,” Strait said in accepting the album award.

Also winning two awards was Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland. Sugarland won the award for duo of the year, and earlier, Nettles won song of the year for Sugarland’s hit “Stay.”

“It’s just been a gift from the beginning and been a gift to write and I hope it’s been a gift and touched your heart,” she said in accepting the award.

Carrie Underwood, who co-hosted the show with Brad Paisley, won her third consecutive female vocalist award.

“I just want to say Mom, it’s real hard to sing when you’re in the second row crying,” a teary-eyed Underwood told her mother during her speech. It came after her performance of her No. 1 hit “Just a Dream,” about a woman who lost her loved one in war. The song was introduced by Leslie Ponder who lost her husband in Afghanistan.

The former “American Idol” champ also thanked country fans. “I got here in an unconventional way, and you guys didn’t have to accept me at all.

Paisley, who won video of the year earlier, hugged Keith Urban and kissed the stomach of his pregnant wife, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley, as he went up to collect his award.

Rascal Flatts won their sixth straight vocal group of the year award, beating out the Eagles, Emerson Drive, Lady Antebellum and Little Big Town for the honor.