Posted tagged ‘George Jones’

Concert Review: James Wesley Returns to California with “Real” Country Music

May 12, 2017

When you travel around the country on business all the time, it doesn’t seem odd when you plan a trip around a concert. I’ve been known to do it in the past…and I know I will again in the future. That’s why I jumped on a flight from Portland, Oregon, to San Jose, California to catch a show on May 4, 2017, at The District Theater in Gilroy.

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Frankly, anytime James 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, Wesley continues to stick to his traditional roots and he always brings his “A” game to his live performances.

First a little background…

If you’ve been living under a rock the past few years, and can actually say that you don’t know who Wesley is, then let me quickly educate you for a moment. With radio 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.

Now, before I go too far, I can’t forget the rest of the band including Michael Blakemore, Jesse LaFave and Matt Morgensen, because they’re pretty damn good at what they do. To be a successful solo artist, you need a supporting cast that plays as a team. Cohesion, combined with hard work and dedication, is key to a successful live show. These guys have all of these attributes, and I would have to say that they are some of the hardest workers in the industry and deserve to be recognized for the effort they put in night in and night out to make a James Wesley show what it is.

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Now onto the show itself.

Prior to James Wesley taking the stage, the audience was treated to the music of California’s own Mark Mackay who just released his new album, Trials & Tribulations, on May 1. Trials & Tribulations was recorded with producer, Phil Dixon and mixed by Christian James Hand. On this night, Mackay played a number of songs off the eight-track collection, of which many were written solely by Mackay. The album demonstrates his songwriting and authentic sound that bridges country and rock-and-roll music.

Mackay

A few of the songs that jumped out to me were I’ve Already Won”, “I Can’t Stop You”, the traditional “Reno” and my personal favorite “Settle for a Small Town”. I’m not gonna lie…immediately after the set, I went over to the merch table and bought the album and listened to it on the way back to the San Jose airport in my rental car. Really…really good stuff! But thinking back, I should have had him sign it when he was walking around later in the evening. Missed opportunity!

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Credit: Patti Sue

Anyways, if you want to purchase it for yourself, please follow this link. Also, for more information on new music and tour news, make sure you go follow Mark Mackay across all of his social sites including Facebook and Twitter at @M2Mackay.

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Credit: Patti Sue

Now onto the main event of the evening: James Wesley!

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.

Now, back to the show(s). 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 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. The later, which is typically the closing song on the set for his shows, unfortunately didn’t make the cut this time around due to time constraints, but it is still one of my favorite and one I expect to hear on the radio in the future.

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.

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.

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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 on another flight, I’m once again going back through the photos and videos and realizing what night it was! Special thanks to Rudy Sabin of Rudy Sabin Photography for taking so many great photos!

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: George Ducas

May 21, 2016

In the world of country music, there are singers…and then there are artists. Artists who construct lyrics that reach down into all facets of our emotions. Artists who can be considered musical poets that can satisfy even the most eclectic listeners.

When I think about an artist who fits this bill, I think of George Ducas.

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Growing up like many of us did on Willie Nelson records, George spent much of his high school years as a private songwriter. Unfortunately for the rest of us, he did not perform professionally until he attended college at Vanderbilt University. After graduation, he accepted a banking job in Atlanta but returned to Nashville in 1990 to pursue music on a full-time basis…and the world is a better place for this decision!

George is seasoned with experience, driven by his passion for his songwriting and overall musical talent. With a string of Billboard charting songs that established him early as a country music trendsetter, George’s musical offerings encompass a creativity, sentiment, edge and wisdom of a man who lives each day with a passion for life and music.

In his own words:

“I consider myself very much a singer and songwriter with an emphasis on performing and being out there playing for people is a chance for the songs I write to live and breathe.”

George’s writing talents have been part of some of country music’s biggest hits including: Sara Evans #1 hit “Real Fine Place To Start,” Josh Thompson’s “Won’t Be Lonely Long,” The Eli Young Band’s “Always The Love Songs” as well as additional songs recorded and performed by country music royalty including The Dixie Chicks, Trisha Yearwood and the Randy Rogers Band.

George and Keith Anderson were two of several co-writers on “Beer Run (B Double E Double Are You In?)”, the Top 30 duet for Garth Brooks and George Jones back in 2001. What a fun song that was! Gary Allan and Radney Foster have also recorded album cuts which he co-wrote.

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Credit: buddyleeattractions.com

But enough about the artists he’s written for. George has also seen success as a national major label and critically acclaimed solo artist, which includes a string of hits including the Top 10 single “Lipstick Promises”.

But the life of a musician can take a toll on you and eventually George took some time off to devote his attention to raising his son and daughter. You’ve got to respect that. I can only imagine what life on the road is like. I travel two weeks a month for work, and even that amount of time is hard not seeing my three kids. The life of a musician must be even more hectic.

Now, George is back…and better than ever! He recently returned to the country music scene to put a voice to his songs. His latest offering, “4340”, which debuted back in October of 2013, does that and more as it showcases his talents to illuminate storylines with imagery that brings his lyrics to life.

4340

Here’s a quick preview of the album. If you want to listen to pick up his music for yourself, you can find it on iTunes and Amazon.

I know there’s more that I could talk about here, but I’ll let you check out the rest of his music, for yourself. Here’s a sample of songs off the new album, as well as a few older ones:

Lovestruck

Cow Town

Party with Your Boots On

All Kinds of Crazy

Breakin’ Stuff

I Need to Love You

Every Time She Passes By

White Lines and Road Signs

Make sure to check out his website and follow George on Twitter at @George_Ducas and on Facebook. Upcoming tour dates can be found here.

Hey George, how about a date at the Rodeo Club in San Jose or Duke’s in Portland???

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

New Music Review: “Hooked Up” by James Wesley

September 21, 2015

James Wesley is back, and he’s back in a big way!

The last time many of you heard from Wesley, he was hitting the airwaves with “Thank a Farmer”, a heartfelt ballad which tells the story of how much hard work it takes to be a farmer in Middle America. And it doesn’t come much more Middle America than Wesley’s music.

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First, a little background. Wesley grew up in Mound Valley, a community of only 200 people in Southeastern Kansas. He first discovered country music via his grandmother’s record collection, which included heaping helpings of classic crooners such as Marty Robbins, George Jones and Ray Price. His mother was the first to notice Wesley’s own talent for singing when she overheard him belting out his favorite songs behind his bedroom door. By his late teens he was singing in local nightclubs and beginning to think about making music his life.

I can certainly say that i’m glad he made this decision.

Wesley signed with Broken Bow Records back in 2009 and quickly exploded onto the country music scene with his debut breakout single “Jackson Hole.” To date he has had two Top 25 singles, including one of my personal favorites “Real”, making his voice a staple on country radio. If you’ve ever seen Wesley in concert, then you know that he sings directly to real people about real things that profoundly affect real lives. From his small-town upbringing to his blue-collar work ethic, Wesley has a deep understanding of what country listeners want to hear.

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Now, on to the song. “Hooked Up” was co-written by Harry Smith and Todd Morris, and tells the story of a blue marlin that is being pursued by fisherman at the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament. Announced backed in April, Wesley formed a partnership with Calcutta to shoot the “Hooked Up” music video and promote the song to the sport fishing communities.

The accompanying music video for “Hooked Up” takes fans along with him for the journey of a lifetime. The video was shot during a concert, performed by Wesley, which took place at the new Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament weigh station on the Morehead City, North Carolina waterfront. Additional footage was shot during the tournament between June 6–13.

OK, before I tell you why I love this song, go ahead and check out the video for yourself.

Now you’ve seen the video and heard the song for yourself. Admit it, there’s so much to love about “Hooked Up”. It’s so easy to get hooked by the chorus. It’s upbeat. It’s toe tapping. I’ve listened to the song a good 70-75 times now, and each time I get to the chorus, I find myself belting out the lyrics at the top of my lungs. Sadly, the kids keep telling me to leave the singing to the artist. They’re probably right!

But isn’t that what country music is all about? Isn’t it supposed to make you feel passion? Shouldn’t it make you want to sing along at the top of your lungs? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: country radio NEEDS more James Wesley. Is “Hooked Up” the song that takes him back to the top of the charts? I certainly hope so. I think it certainly has a chance!

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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 this past March, 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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Before I forget, a portion of the proceeds from downloads will go to the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament Charities and the ASA’s Keep America Fishing Foundation, so make sure you download “Hooked Up” today from iTunes or from CalcuttaFishing.com and TheBigRock.com.

Also, can’t forget the guys who don’t always get the credit they deserve. Michael Blakemore, Jesse LaFave, Matt Morgeson and Drew Scheuer. You guys all rock!

Don’t wait. Go get “Hooked Up” now. You won’t regret it!

For more information about Wesley, and to take a listen to the rest of his catalog, visit JamesWesleyMusic.com.

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.

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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.

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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?

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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! 🙂

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Concert Review: James Wesley Keeps it “Real” at The Rodeo Club in San Jose, California

December 3, 2013

As most of you know, I love to go to concerts. Lots of concerts. Country concerts…rock concerts…punk rock concerts…you name it! I guess it’s pretty obvious if you’ve listened to me talk for even five minutes.

I’m proud to say that I’ve seen them all, across genres: Kenny Chesney, Brooks & Dunn, Florida Georgia Line, Zac Brown Band, Tim McGraw, Blink 182, Green Day, Pearl Jam, Metallica, U2, The Rolling Stones and the list goes on and on.

So if I were to tell you that I went to one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to, then you’d probably stop and take notice, right?

I can honestly say that in all of my 35 years, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been to a show that seemed to have as much energy as there was at the Rodeo Club in San Jose, California, on Friday, November 22. I wonder if Chevon and Christine would agree with me?

The gang together at the show!

The gang together at the show!

Ladies and gentlemen, if you don’t know him already, go take some time on YouTube (or below) and check out Broken Bow recording artist James Wesley. If you can only catch one show in 2014, this is the guy to see. Dead serious! OK, maybe not just James. Marshall Weidner, Jesse LaFave, Neil Alexander, Michael Blakemore and Eric Burgett are all pretty damn good too.

For those of us who follow country music closely, this man is already known. With hits such as “Real”, “Didn’t I” and “Thank a Farmer”, James has been getting airplay for quite some time thanks to stations like KRTY (but definitely not enough airplay and I can’t stress this enough!!!). His videos have reached the top of the GAC charts and if you see him in concert just once, you’ll be hooked.

James Wesley and I after the show.

James Wesley and I after the show.

James is a traditionalist which I find rare in country music these days. He’s also passionate about his music…and his fans. He writes his own songs and he plays his heart out each and every time he takes the stage. During his show in San Jose, he mixed his own music with the sounds of Hank Williams Jr., Merle Haggard, George Jones and Johnny Cash. I’ll admit, anytime you can absolutely NAIL “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Family Tradition”, you’re doing something right!

Good Times!

Good Times!

I think one of the best parts of the show was the opportunity to hear new songs that haven’t made it on the radio yet. There are a few songs that I expect to be hits in 2014 including “Running”, “The You I Wanna Know” and “You Should Be Here with Me”. I really wish I would have shot some video because I’d love to share these songs with you, alas my phone was dying and wouldn’t allow me to. “Running” (co-written with Marcum Stewart and Zac Wrixon) is the one that stuck out in my mind as the one that should be the clear-cut radio hit next year (do you hear that Indiana Al at KRTY???). I think I probably live-Tweeted that thought multiple times during the show. Loved both the lyrics and the beat.

Rockin' Out!

Rockin’ Out!

And now for my favorite part of the evening. Following the show, James does what a lot of other artists don’t…he spent hours meeting, talking to and taking photos with his fans. I’m lucky enough to have had the opportunity to meet James via Twitter (@jameswesley1) last year and have had a number of conversations with him over the past few months. You don’t realize that sometimes, just sometimes, artists are exactly the same in-person as they appear online. James truly is one of these people. He doesn’t pull punches. 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.

Having Some Fun!

Having Some Fun!

I’ll say it again: if there is one artist that you see in concert in 2014, make it James Wesley. From the stage presence, to the music to the time he spends with his fans, it is not just a concert…it’s an experience. A “Real” experience that music lovers of all ages and genres will enjoy. You won’t regret it!

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

James Wesley Setlist: San Jose, CA on November 22, 2013

James Wesley Setlist: San Jose, CA on November 22, 2013

George Jones Calls Out Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift

November 3, 2009

Seems like George Jones still fears change. The country music legend is speaking out against up and coming stars such as Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift and others, saying that they need to leave country music and find a genre that better suits them.

Yes, today’s country music isn’t the same as traditional country music, but what “The Possum” needs to learn is that people change, styles change and music changes.

Sorry George. I’ve been a fan of both traditional and modern country music and if it reverts back, I think you’ll lose at least one fan (me). I enjoy a lot of the country songs on the radio today, but when I hear new music by George Strait, and even Alan Jackson lately, I have to turn the station. Their songs just don’t do anything for me anymore.

These days, I’m more of a fan of singers such as Kenny Chesney, Billy Currington, Toby Keith and Brad Paisley and bands like Trailer Choir and Montgomery Gentry. These are artists who can reach across different genres of music and reach a larger audience. In Jones interview, he said that he had no intention of collaborating with any musician of another genre.

We’ll see what happens! I have a lot of respect for Jones, but right now, he’s coming off like a grumpy old man.

From The Boot:

George Jones says he’s been robbed. Not of his personal belongings, but of something perhaps even more valuable: his role as a country singer.

Referring to some of today’s biggest stars, including Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift, the country legend tells the Associated Press, “they’ve stolen our identity.” And, he maintains, they need to give it back and move on to another genre. “They had to use something that was established already, and that’s traditional country music. So what they need to do really, I think, is find their own title, because they’re definitely not traditional country music.”