Posted tagged ‘Indiana Al’

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.

Cassadee Pope and Ryan Follese Bring the “Good Times” to San Jose, California

November 5, 2016

It’s always a treat for me to catch a show at the Rodeo Club when I’m in San Jose, California. Tonight was no different. The folks at KRTY always know talent when they see it and they only bring the best of the best when it comes to up-and-coming country artists.

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The night started off with Big Machine Label Group recording artist Ryan Follese (pronounced “fall-uh-ZAY”). I first came across Follese a little over a month ago 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. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: 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. I’ll tell you this: this live show made me an even bigger fan.

As a bit of 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“.

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Here’s a tidbit on Follese that you may, or may not be aware of: he 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.

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It doesn’t hurt that Follese 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 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”.

On this evening, Follese brought his “A” game and it was hard to believe that this show was his very first with his full band. By watching Follese command the stage, you could tell that he’s a polished artist who knows how to play the crowd. From the very first note, he had the crowd dancing, singing and clapping along to every note. That’s one thing that many country artists lack when they first launch their careers.

If you see Follese on the bill in your area anytime soon, don’t miss out. This is a guy destined for stardom in country music and you’ll want to catch him now before he starts selling out arenas. I’m telling you, the guy is good…very good!

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Also, if you haven’t checked out 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.

Whew. I need to take a breath after that. In fact, I had to do the same after his set because I had to prepare myself for the evening’s headliner, Big Machine Label Group recording artist Cassadee Pope.

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As background, Pope was previously the lead vocalist of the rock band Hey Monday, with whom she released one studio album and three EPs. Pope embarked on a solo career in early 2012, and released her self-titled Cassadee Pope EP in May 2012.

Where many country fans first remember her from is when she took part in the third season of The Voice where Pope found herself under the wing of coach Blake Shelton and became the first female winner of the competition. Her debut solo country album, Frame by Frame, was released in late-2013 and landed in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 charts and also debuted at #1 on the Top Country Albums, selling more than 40,000 copies in its first week.

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Pope toured extensively in support of the album, and spent much of 2014 on the road opening shows for headliners such as Tim McGraw and Dierks Bentley. In 2015, Pope began work on her next recording project, and an advance single, “I Am Invincible,” appeared in July 2015. While the single failed to make the country singles charts, let me tell you, it was fantastic! Upon its release, it received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised Pope’s vocal range as well as the song’s blending of country elements and the rock styling of her time with Hey Monday.

In 2015, Chris Young chose Pope to collaborate with him on the track “Think of You” after hearing her perform. Before he released the song, Young stated that Pope’s voice was “amazing” — and apparently, the admiration between the two stars is mutual. The song has taken over country radio and hit #1 on the charts back in May. Seriously. You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing it.

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Speaking of new music, Pope recently released her EP “Summer”. In talking with The Boot about the EP, Pope said:

“I would describe it as a collage of my personality. There’s so many different aspects of me and my colorful imagination, and all different aspects in one body of work. I’m excited for people to see different sides of me that they’ve never seen before.”

On this night, the crowd was treated to each of the songs on the new EP, including “Summer“, “Piano“, “Kisses at Airports” and “Alien“. Also on the setlist were “Good Times“, “Stupid Boy“, and crowd favorites “I Wish I Could Break Your Heart” and “Cinematic“. It’s funny, i don’t think Pope expected the audience reaction she received from “Cinematic”, but the rocking tune got a standing ovation from the San Jose crowd.

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Finally, the evening ended with my personal favorite, “Wasting All These Tears” which was the song that originally introduced me to Pope. While the song received mixed to favorable reviews from a number of music critics, I’ve always felt that this is a fantastic song that demonstrates the passion that she brings to her music. Every time I hear the song on the radio, I feel as if I can directly relate to those being depicted in the song.

That’s what a great song is supposed to do, right?

It’s hard to come up with a way that I can describe Pope’s performance. She is an amazing, amazing singer who has one of the greatest voices I’ve ever heard on the Rodeo Club stage. I truly believe that in Cassadee Pope, you have the next Carrie Underwood, ready to take the country music scene by storm. And I, for one, cannot wait to hear what is next from this talented young woman.

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

As I sit here in my hotel room, reminiscing on another great night of country music, I have to give thanks to KRTY. As always, thank you to Nate Deaton, Julie Stevens, Tina Ferguson, Gary Scott Thomas, Randy Jones, Indiana Al, etc…for once again bringing the best in up-and-coming talent to the South Bay.

Were you at the show? Have you seen Cassadee Pope or Ryan Follese live? Let me know your thoughts on these talented musicians in the comments section below.

Concert Review: LANco Brings the Trouble Making to San Jose, California

December 10, 2015

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If KRTY announces a show at the Rodeo Club, no matter what night of the week it is, you NEED to make your way down to the venue. Tonight was no different. Not just because of the rising stars on the bill, but because proceeds and donations went to support Family Giving Tree. Charity and great music, of course I made the trip down from Portland, Oregon.

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On this rainy Wednesday evening, the San Jose crowd was treated to an energy packed performance from an up-and-coming group by the name of LANco. Haven’t heard of them? Give it time. These guys are primed for success. Heck, they even landed at #100 in my “Top 100 Country Music Songs of 2015” countdown with their single “Trouble Maker”.

So I actually discovered these guys by chance on a Saturday night back in September when I was on a trip to Atlanta. Get this, I’m checking out the town and I stumble across a venue called Smith’s Olde Bar. Without any plans that evening, I decided to check things out when I heard a familiar tune (see the link to the video from tonight’s performance of this Red Sox favorite). I’m glad I walked in. Although I only caught a couple songs that night, it gave me an idea of who the band is and what they’re all about. As you can imagine, I was excited to see another show, this time on the West Coast, timed with my latest trip to the Bay Area.

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As a bit of background, formerly known as Lancaster & Company, Sony Music Nashville signed LANco to the label group’s Arista Nashville. The band, consisting of Brandon Lancaster, Tripp Howell, Eric Steedly, Jared Hampton and Chandler Baldwin, recently released their debut EP on Spotify, featuring the tracks “Trouble Maker,” “American Love Story,” “We Do,” and “High.” You should definitely check it out when you have a few minutes. You won’t regret it.

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During tonight’s San Jose show, LANco performed these songs as well as a couple of well known covers. I’ve got to admit, while I loved the energy and crowd interaction, one of my favorite songs of the night was the ballad “American Love Story”. This song is your small town love story that many of us can relate to. I sure can and I’m pretty sure that the rest of the crowd did as well. I’m going to go out on a limb right now and say that you’ll hear this one as a radio hit in 2016.

 

As I mentioned, LANco pulled a few cover songs out of their bag.

Here’s a link to one of the highlights of the evening, a cover of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”.

Here’s a link to a cover of Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance”.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a video of the encore which consisted of a cover of Eric Church’s “Drink in my Hand”, but I can tell you, it was fantastic!

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I’m not sure that there’s a lot more I can say about LANco. These guys are fun. They’re talented. They put on a show that makes you want more. It’s midnight now, and I’m still wanting to go back to the Rodeo Club and hear a few more songs. The show was THAT good! Did I mention that they played the second half of their final song from the crowd? The lead singer literally brought some drums into the crowd and went to town. The crowd ate it up!

 

LANco is currently doing a few shows with Eli Young Band, but will be out on the road again in 2016. While they aren’t sure who they’ll be touring with, I can tell you this, you don’t want to miss them when they come to your town. Whether opening for another act, or performing their own set at a club, they are well worth your time.

Interested in keeping up with LANco? Make sure you visit their website and check them out on Twitter at @LancoMusic and on Facebook.

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

Were you at the show? Have you seen LANco live? Let me know your thoughts on these guys in the comments section below.

 

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

October 23, 2015

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

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

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

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

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Credit: KRTY

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

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

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

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

Credit: KRTY

Credit: KRTY

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

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

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

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

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

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

Concert Review: Frankie Ballard and Clare Dunn Get “Young & Crazy” in San Jose, California

April 23, 2015

After a day like today, I can honestly say that there could not have been a better end to the day than by taking in a show at the Rodeo Club featuring Clare Dunn and Frankie Ballard.

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To preface this, I lost my step father this morning. I’ve had to watch him suffer through illness for many years now, and I know that he isn’t suffering anymore. But I know that it doesn’t make the loss hurt any less. So what did help lift my spirits, just a little? A night filled with some great music by two young, and up-and-coming artists.

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I’ve been hearing about Clare Dunn for quite some time now so I was obviously excited to finally see her live for the first time. Dunn has opened for some of the largest country acts, including Keith Urban, Florida Georgia Line, Colt Ford, Parmalee, Hank Williams Jr., Jamey Johnson as well as playing major festivals.

Photo Courtesy of @debrakmartin04

Photo Courtesy of @debrakmartin04

First a little background. As she mentioned during the show, Dunn was born on a farm in southeast Colorado where she grew up raising cattle, hauling water, as well as driving combines, tractors and eighteen wheelers. Eventually, she went to Belmont University where she picked up a guitar for the first time and learned to play both the acoustic and electric guitars. And that was a great decision!

What I loved about her performance is that when Dunn took the stage, she owned it. Her vocals were incredible and although she hasn’t been playing the guitar for long, you would think that she’s played it since birth. Very impressive. While her set was the standard, short opening set, the crowd was treated to an array of songs including her debut single “Get Out”, and her latest single “Cowboy Side of You.”

If you get the chance to catch Dunn live, be sure you get there early. A great performer that I believe you’ll see on the big stage shortly. Hell. Florida Georgia Line called Get Out “the best country song out by a female.” Not a bad recommendation to receive.

Photo Courtesy of @KristinToon

Photo Courtesy of @KristinToon

If you want to learn more about her, check out her website and follow her on Twitter at @claredunnmusic.

Following Dunn’s set, it was time for the main event of the evening: Frankie Ballard.

You may have heard of the guy as he’s been featured on the Grand Ole Opry and has played venues across the country where he has opened for the likes of Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift and his longtime idol Bob Seger.

I’ll admit, I know Ballard’s music and I like it. Whether it’s “country”, well that’s a matter of opinion but frankly, who cares. The guy (and his band) can flat out jam and they proved this tonight with a rockin’ and rollin’ set that was non-stop from the moment they took the stage.

Photo Courtesy of @Blueliquid11

Photo Courtesy of @Blueliquid11

As you would anticipate, most of the songs on the setlist were off Ballard’s “Sunshine & Whiskey” album, which was released in February of 2014. Songs such as the title track, “Young & Crazy” and the fan favorite “Helluva Life” were supplemented by great cover versions of “One Headlight” by The Wallflowers and Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll”. And sorry ladies, there was no Tom Cruise/Risky Business action onstage.

Photo Courtesy of @lexiwillson18

Photo Courtesy of @lexiwillson18

Now if there is one thing, and one thing only that I get across to people it’s this: I have never, and I mean NEVER, heard a band that was as tight as Ballard’s band was tonight. These guys didn’t miss a note all night long. Everything was in perfect rhythm. Words can’t describe how amazing they played.

One thing that also needs to be said is that Ballard demonstrates a true love for his fans. I had the opportunity to meet him before the show, and it was obvious that the whole “meet and greet” wasn’t just a job for him. Ballard took the time to connect with each and every fan he met. And not just the shaking of the hand and smiling at the camera. He was genuine, and a true gentleman. If there were more artists out there who took the time to actually engage with their fans like this, I believe that you would see a lot more respect across the board. Major kudos to you Frankie!

Photo Courtesy of @debrakmartin04

Photo Courtesy of @debrakmartin04

If you want to learn more about this great, up-and-coming artist, definitely go check out his website and follow him on Twitter at @FrankieBallard.

Did you go to the show? Have you seen either Clare Dunn or Frankie Ballard perform live before? Let me see those comments below.

Finally, thanks to the folks at KRTY for another great night a music, and the opportunity for me to forget about life for awhile. You guys always bring the best to the Rodeo Club and we as fans want to thank you for the fantastic work you do! Here’s to the next show!

Concert Review: Chris Cagle Gets “Back in the Saddle” with Haley & Michaels in San Jose, California

April 17, 2015

When KRTY announces that they are putting on a show that will blow you away, it’s not just hot air.

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For the past few weeks, the Bay Area country music scene has been waiting for Chris Cagle to descend upon San Jose, and his latest trip to the Rodeo Club. Cagle has been here before, and he will no doubt be back again, but in speaking with some “newbies” to the club last night before the show, they weren’t sure what to expect. They had never been to a KRTY show (blasphemy!) and had never seen Cagle live before.

Naturally I told them that they were in for a night that they’d never forget…and I’m not just saying that because we are Phi Delta Theta fraternity brothers. The guy is literally one of the hardest working performers in country music and ALWAYS puts on a show to be remembered for his fans. Not to mention he’s a great follow on Twitter at @chriscagle.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Before Cagle took the stage around 9:45 p.m., we were treated to a set by the up-and-coming duo Haley & Michaels (Shannon Haley & Ryan Michaels).

via Margo Lang

via Margo Lang

So here’s the story on these two. It turns out that they grew up only a few miles apart here in Northern California, but get this, they didn’t know each other until well after they separately started their country music careers in Nashville. Shortly after meeting they began singing and writing together and discovered they had a great connection.

What I love about Haley & Michaels is that they have this mix of vocals and harmonies that carry them through their set. You probably know them from their debut single “Just Another Love Song”, which of course was the highlight of their performance. Naturally, the crowd at the Rodeo Club was singing along to every note.

The folks at KRTY have been standing firmly behind Haley & Michaels, as I’ve seen them a few times now and each time I feel as though I enjoy them more and more. They may not be a household name to you just yet, but they have been touring with and opening shows for major acts including Brett Eldredge, Parmalee, Clint Black, Hank Williams Jr., Dustin Lynch and Martina McBride.

If you see them on the bill as an opening act, make sure you’re not late to the show. You won’t be disappointed. BTW they are getting married next month so make sure to stop by their Facebook page and give them your best wishes!

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Speaking of not being disappointed, if there is one country music artist that is guaranteed to not disappoint, it certainly would be Chris Cagle.

What can I say…I’ve been a fan of Cagle dating back to his debut album, Play it Loud. And what’s not to love. We’re talking “My Love Goes On and On”, “I Breathe In, I Breathe Out” and my personal favorite “Laredo”. Some classic songs from a great album that you still hear on the radio today.

On this night, Cagle pulled out all of the stops. Whether it’s a club show or a much larger venue, Cagle knows what it takes to be an entertainer. And that’s what the KRTY crowd was treated to…entertainment. From the moment he took the stage, until the band took their final bows, it was a non-stop mix of country, rock and rolls and emotional ballads.

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I’ll admit, I’ve never seen an artist overcome with so much emotion during a show. During a short pause while performing “Miss Me Baby”, the San Jose crowd let Cagle know exactly how much they appreciated him. Without exaggeration, he was given a 5-6 minute standing ovation that went “on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on” (sorry, I had to do it). You could see in his eyes that he truly appreciated the love from the crowd, needing to step back a few times to withhold tears.

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It really was a magical moment, and one that this artist deserved after so many years of doing what he does for us, the country music listener. These are the types of moments that you get when you come to the Rodeo Club…and I thank KRTY for bringing him to town so I can experience them.

The rest of the set was exactly what you would expect. We were treated to classic Cagle, as well as a few new songs including “Got My Country On” and “I’ll Grow My Own” from his latest album “Back in the Saddle” which concluded the set. Normally, like most people, when the new stuff comes on, I kind of tune out a little. But not this time. I really liked “I’ll Grow My Own”. It was a good choice to conclude the set…knowing that he and the band had to come out for at least one more song.

For the encore, Cagle went old school southern rock, courtesy of some Lynyrd Skynard. While it may have been a Thursday night, it quickly became a “Saturday Night Special” at the Rodeo Club.  Most people that choose a Skynyrd cover song would pull out “Sweet Home Alabama”, “That Smell” or even “Freebird”, but I love the fact that the band went another direction.

via Margo Lang

via Margo Lang

As expected, “Chicks Dig It” closed out the set. And why not. It’s a great song…one that the audience can sing along to every word of and how can you not have a smile on your face at the same time. It’s the story of a guy who has always done various stunts (most of the time injuring himself in the process) in attempts to impress women, because the “chicks dig it”.

OK guys, raise your hand if you’re guilty of that. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

What can I say that I haven’t said already. From Haley & Michaels, to Chris Cagle (and his band of course), this was another great night of entertainment.

Thank you again to Nate Deaton, Julie Stevens, Tina Ferguson, Gary Scott Thomas, Randy Jones, Indiana Al and the rest of the folks at KRTY for putting on another hell of a night.There’s a reason why KRTY is the number one country music station in the Bay Area. It’s because of the people that work there that put their heart and soul into their jobs and make sure that their audience is treated to the best that country music has to offer.

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But don’t forget, it’s also because of you (and me)…the listeners who come out to the shows and listen every day. I love coming back to the Bay Area for shows like this and I can’t wait for the next one! I’ve got my sights on James Wesley on April 29.

If you’re looking for a few upcoming shows, don’t miss Frankie Ballard (with Clare Dunn) on April 22 and Maddie and Tae (with Logan Mize) the following night on April 23. Both shows take place at the Rodeo Club. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Chris Cagle Set List:

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Concert Review: A Thousand Horses and Toree McGee “Smoke” the Competition

April 2, 2015

What can I say. Another KRTY concert at the Rodeo Club…another INCREDIBLE night of live music in the South Bay!

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Frankly, I got lucky this time around. I usually know a few weeks in advance when I’ll be able to catch a show in San Jose, based on my travel back and forth from Portland, Oregon. But this time, I learned the night before that I’d be in town and there was no doubt in my mind that I had to catch local singer songwriter Toree McGee, and one of my favorite, up-and-coming bands, A Thousand Horses. Literally, these guys are THE band to watch in 2015 (see further comments later). To say that I was excited by my last minute change in travel plans doesn’t do justice.

This is the second time I’ve caught Toree McGee at the Rodeo Club. Last time she was the opening act for Clay Walker.

On top of her own songs, including “Run Right Back to You”, “Might as Well be Us” and “Amen” (which has consistently been in the KRTY Hot 9 at 9 the past few weeks), she pulled off a great cover of “Kerosene” by Miranda Lambert. Who doesn’t like a great sing-a-long to end a set?

Oh yeah, there was also a few minutes during the set for what McGee called #toreeselfee time. While I wasn’t coordinated enough to take one with everyone else in the crowd, here’s mine after the show (thanks Toree and Indiana AL):

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

Also, props to Mr. Gary Tackett, a guitarist and manager who’s worked with the likes of Merle Haggard, Billy Currington, Vern Gosdin, Eddy Raven and Tammy Cochran, who I had the opportunity to catch up with after the show. Thanks for making the trip back down to San Jose y’all!

Now it was time for the main event of the evening. In the words of Michael Buffer: “Let’s get ready to rumble!”

A Thousand Horses is a band I’ve been talking about for a good 6-8 months now…but I’m not the only one. Check out a few of these features they’ve been included in recently:

USA Today

Rolling Stone

Taste of Country

I said it before, and will say it again, this is THE band you need to watch, follow and support in 2015. 2014 may have been the year of the horse, but 2015 WILL BE the year of A Thousand Horses.

For a little background, the band consists of four core members (but their are a bunch more!):

Michael Hobby – Lead Vocal
Bill Satcher – Lead Guitar
Zach Brown – Guitar and Vocal (not THAT Zac Brown)
Graham Deloach – Bass and Vocal

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From their look (see photo above) to their sound, A Thousand Horses can only be described as a mix of Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers and The Black Crowes. Not sure how else to describe them, but that should give you a good idea of what to expect when you take a listen to their music. I’ll say, though, that they have the benefit of pulling all of their classic rock talents together in a modern-country sound. Is there anything wrong with that? I don’t think so!

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Their new single, “Smoke”, is heading straight to the top of the airplay charts at radio stations across the country, and should be firmly on your playlist right now! The folks at KRTY have had “Smoke” in regular rotation for quite some time now, and as always, Nate Deaton, Julie Stevens and the rest of the crew (Randy Jones, Indiana Al etc…) have their finger on the pulse of what’s going to be hot in country music well before anyone else.

On top of “Smoke”, the band ran through a mix of some older tunes, as well as some new music off their upcoming album “Southernality”. Three of my favorites, “Tennessee Whiskey”, “Trailer Trashed” and “(This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial” were featured on the set as well as the catchy “Landslide”. The Wednesday night crowded was also treated to two great covers of Tom Petty’s hit “I Won’t Back Down” and The Black Crowes “Hard to Handle” as their encore. Certainly another couple of highlights of the evening.

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Don’t miss them this summer on tour with Darius Rucker, Brett Eldredge and the Brothers Osborne. Trust me. They won’t be an opening act for long! Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I know that I sound like a broken record, but if there is one new band you NEED to see in 2015, it’s A Thousand Horses.

To keep up with the band, new music and tour news, make sure you check them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at @AThousandHorses.

Did you go to the show? Have you ever seen Toree McGee or A Thousand Horses live? Please share your thoughts and comments below. Feel free to share this review as well!