Posted tagged ‘Faith Hill’

Artist Spotlight: Ryan Follese

October 26, 2016

As many of you know already, I’ve written about a lot of up-and-coming country music artists. Obviously, there are a lot of musicians out there trying to find their place in , but not everyone is destined for stardom. Today, you are in for a real treat.

I first came across Big Machine Label Group recording artist Ryan Follese (that’s “fall-uh-ZAY”) when I heard the folks at KRTY promoting that he would be opening for both Cassadee Pope and the Eli Young Band in San Jose in early November. I was lucky enough to be in California that week to catch both shows and let me tell you this: he 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.

Ryan Follese Float Your Boat Single

As a bit of background, Ryan Follese  co-wrote each of the six tracks on his self-titled debut solo EP, including “Put A Label On It,” which hit country radio earlier this month as his first official single.

Additionally, SiriusXM kickstarted the launch this summer, selecting Follese as their “Highway Find” and spinning his summer vacation anthem “Float Your Boat.” Selling more than 40,000 downloads to date, and amassing nearly 2 million streams, the Ryan Follese EP was recorded with producers Dann Huff and Cameron Montgomery in Nashville. While the aforementioned songs might have received the notoriety to date, don’t miss other great tracks such as “Wilder“, “One Thing Right” and “Lose a Little Sleep“. “Wilder” might be my favorite of the bunch.

In speaking with The Boot, Follese described the EP as follows:

“It is definitely country. It is a look into my life over the last year, which, in my existence so far, has been the most real-life stuff that’s happened to me in the last year. You won’t get that all from the lyrics necessarily, but the meaning and how much heart and effort I put into this is a result of just coming of age, I guess.”

Image result for ryan follese ep

Now you may not know this, 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. You might not remember, but Follett performed on the 2012 CMT Music Awards with Lady Antebellum, secured a performance on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest and wrote“Thug Story” with Swift and T-Pain. Follese also earned the 2012 American Music Awards’ Best New Artist award. Not bad, right?

Recently, Follese refocused his songwriting, going back to his country roots to incorporate the storytelling lyrics and influences he was raised on. It doesn’t hurt that he grew up surrounded by the music of his songwriter parents, Keith and Adrienne. Not a bad household to grow up in! Their songwriting catalogue includes major hits for Tim McGraw (Something Like That), Faith Hill (The Way You Love Me), Little Texas (Life Goes On), Lonestar (Smile) and Martina McBride (I Love You). Currently previewing his new music nationwide, Follese has been tapped for Live Nation’s ‘Ones To Watch’ Tour with headliner (and one of my personal favorites) LOCASH.

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. Granted, he has the advantage of some strong country music lineage, but he’s done this for himself.

Image result for Ryan Follese

When speaking of his transition in an interview with Sounds Like Nashville, Follese said:

“It is coming back to my roots. I wish there was a better way to say it but it really, that’s what it is. I grew up surrounded in country and I feel like that’s what made me want to start a rock band to begin with. Just like, you revolt against your parents. Country music was the only thing I knew until I was a teenager and then I was like ‘oh, I want to be in a rock band!’”

Additionally, here’s what Follese had to say to The Boot:

“Country chose me. Everything I wrote for the last few years came out this way. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up in it; I don’t know if it’s because it comes more natural to me. That and the combination of, this is the way to tell the stories I want to tell. The things that I’m going through that I want to do, and being close to my family and being here in Nashville, this is the way to live for me, and that is something that I want to grow old in.”

If you haven’t checked out Ryan Follese before, 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.

I just included Follese as one of fifteen country music artists you need to have on your playlist, so make sure you go and give him a listen.

So what did I miss? Have you seen Ryan Follese live? What do you think of this guy?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Concert Review: “Just Another Day in Paradise” with Phil Vassar

August 12, 2016

I get spoiled sometimes with the amount of concerts I have the opportunity to attend each year. However, most of those shows fall outside of my home state of Oregon. So when I heard Phil Vassar was returning to the state with a show, hosted by 98.7 The Bull, at the Yamhill County Fair, there was no way I was going to miss it.

Credit: News-Press

I’ve seen Vassar a number of times in the past. Starting with the KZLA Country Bash back in 2001 in Irvine, California. This was a concert which had a certain feel to it as it took place just weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I’ve also caught shows at the Rodeo Club in San Jose, and at larger venues as the opening act for Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.

Just two years ago, I saw his performance at the Tillamook County Fair, which turned out to be quite bittersweet when I found out the next morning that my father had passed away while we were at the show. My dad was always a fan so naturally, his service was filled with a number of Vassar’s greatest hits.

So this night was a special one for me which I had been looking for since it was announced that he would be coming to McMinnville. Of course, being in my backyard, I had to bring the kids. All of whom have grown up listening to songs such as “I’m Alright”, “Bye Bye”, “Little Red Rodeo” and more.

Thankfully, all of those hits made the setlist. If they hadn’t, my three year old daughter would have had to have a chat with Vassar after the show (she might be the biggest fan of all of us!). Check out the video below…

 

Vassar has a long list of hit country music songs. This list includes 10 No. 1 singles and 26 Top 40 hits. Amazing, right?

But what I love most about Vassar is that he always plays for the crowd. He always has a good time. While he might have an idea of what songs he’s going to play, he doesn’t always have a set list in place. He uses Twitter for song requests. He talks to the people. In fact, he and the band also have a couple of drinks with the crowd. Nothing wrong with that right?

There aren’t a lot of artists out there that put on a show quite like Phil Vassar. When you go to one of his shows, you know you’re going to get your money’s worth and a whole lot more. On this night, we were treated to a set full of the songs we know. The songs we love. Classic songs like “Carlene”, “Just Another Day in Paradise”, “My Next 30 Years”, “Six-Pack Summer”, “Joe & Rosalita”, “I’ll Take That as a Yes” all filled the evening. We also got the usual cover tunes thrown in including “Stay (Just a Little Bit Longer)”, “500 Miles”, and of course “Piano Man” to close out the night.

I say close out the night, but luckily for my kids, there was one more surprise up my sleeve: a quick meet & greet and photo with their favorite: Phil Vassar. You can tell in the picture below that they were absolutely thrilled. Thanks Phil!!!

Vassar

So that’s it! Another concert in the books…and what a show it was! I’ve got to say, if you haven’t checked out Phil Vassar before, what rock have you been hiding under for the past two decades???.

Make sure that you check out a concert the next time he’s in town. You won’t be disappointed. Vassar’s shows are some of the most highly entertaining and energetic in country music today, as they always have been, and with as many hits as he’s written, you’re guaranteed to know just about every lyric to every song he sings all night.

With his first new album in a few years coming out soon (we were treated to a few of his new songs during the show…they’re great!), you should definitely be sure to keep up with Vassar via his website, follow him on Twitter at @philvassar and Facebook for his latest news and concert schedule.

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

 

Artist Spotlight: Halfway to Hazard

May 18, 2016

“Just’a good ol’ boys
Never meanin’ no harm.
Beats all you never saw
Been in trouble with the law
Since the day they was born.”

Wait. I thought I was going to talk about the Dukes of Hazzard today. You mean I’m not?

All kidding aside, I’m here to continue my Artist Spotlight series with another up-and-coming group that goes by the name Halfway to Hazard. Heard of them? Maybe a few years back? More on that later…

H2H

As background, Chad Warrix and David Tolliver, better known as the group Halfway to Hazard, can only be described with the same words I’ve used here on my blog for years, “a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll.” Nothing wrong with that. In fact, that’s two of my favorite things when it comes to music. And they live up to that descriptor. From what I’ve seen, the group holds nothing back in their music. In fact, if they were in NASCAR, I’d say that they put the pedal to the metal and don’t look back until they cross the finish line.

So before I get to the music, you’re probably wondering where the band’s name came from? Well, it seems that Halfway to Hazard are the opening words of the song “Cold,” which it so happens was the first song Warrix and Tolliver wrote together several years after they left their home state of Kentucky. Eventually, they wound up where many aspiring country music groups find themselves…in Nashville. So much for my assumption that they were huge fans of Bo and Luke Duke. Side note: I probably should have known since the name was missing an extra “z”.

Now let’s get to the most important thing that I’m here to talk about today: the music. Plain and simple, it’s good. It’s really good.

Their debut single, “Daisy“, was a Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts way back in 2007. That same year, the band toured as the opening act on Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s Soul2Soul Tour. In 2008, they went on tour with McGraw and a youngster by the name of Jason Aldean. They were also nominated by the Academy of Country Music (ACM) for the Duo of the Year award. Not a bad two year stretch, right?

Sadly, in January of 2010, the duo went on an extended hiatus. After some ups and downs over the next few years, Tolliver and Warrix decided to officially reunite Halfway to Hazard in late 2014…and I for one am glad they did!

Released earlier this year, the song from Halfway to Hazard that I’m absolutely hooked on is “American Outlaw“. Oh, the video isn’t too bad either. In fact, it’s really good!

According to The Rowdy:

The video is being used as a tease for the upcoming spanking new record that’s still in development that has HTH returning to the studio after their personal hiatus was declared in 2009, and will put them back in the tour bus for their 2016 REDEMPTION TOUR.

Penned by Tolliver and Warrix with the aid of Matt Alderman, the single will be featured as the theme for a documentary about the song’s subject, which gives Halfway To Hazard a chance to see the back story of their old stomping grounds.

You’ll definitely want to check it out on iTunes.

Here’s to hoping that they get their new album out this summer. I’m really looking forward to it! Until then, take a listen to some more of their music. You’ll find links to a few additional Halfway to Hazard songs, both old and new, that I’m sure you’re going to enjoy, below:

Meet Me in Vegas (Potential next single)

Heaven on Down the Highway

Countrified

I Know Where Heaven Is

Country Til the Day We Die

I know there’s more, but I’ll let you check out the band, and the rest of their music, for yourself. If you’re interested in keeping up with Halfway to Hazard, make sure you visit their website and follow them on Twitter at @HalfwayToHazard and on Facebook.

So what did I miss? Have you seen Halfway to Hazard live? What do you think of these guys? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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

December 13, 2014

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

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.

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.

Did Faith Hill Lip Sync Her Super Bowl Performance?

February 4, 2009

Interesting question.

I was thinking the same thing when I watched live.

Thoughts?

From The Boot:

ABC News is among many sources speculating that both Hill, who sang ‘America the Beautiful,’ and Jennifer Hudson, who sang the national anthem, lip synced their performances before Sunday’s big game. But don’t be too shocked — according to insiders, these days pre-recording a performance for a prominent broadcast is standard practice. And it’s not necessarily the artist’s choice.

“That’s the right way to do it,” the Super Bowl pregame show’s producer,  Rickey Minor, tells the Associated Press. “There’s too many variables to go live … the slightest glitch would devastate the performance.”

Apparently the biggest “glitch” of all came in 1993, when Garth Brooks threatened to walk out minutes before his Super Bowl performance unless NBC would agree to play his new music video. The country superstar had not pre-recorded the anthem, meaning the NFL had nothing to play in Brooks’ place if he made good on his threat. Since that incident, the league has required artists to provide a backup recording.