Posted tagged ‘Johnny Cash’

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.

JW_Gilroy_Band

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.

JW_GIlroy_Solo

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: David Brookings

June 3, 2016

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

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

Yep. That’s how I roll!

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

His name is David Brookings.

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

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

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

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

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

DB

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

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

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

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

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

She’s Been Gone for Years

No Regrets

If I Don’t Make it Back

The Maze

The Dream is Over

Always be the Same

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

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

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

Artist Spotlight: Drew Baldridge

May 18, 2016

Today, I’ve got a real treat for you. I first stumbled upon this up-and-coming artist a few months back when a guy by the name of Eric Burgett said to check out this friend of his, a country singer from Patoka, Illinois. I finally took the time to do a quick YouTube search and listened one night and thought “hey…this guy is pretty good.”

As it happens, a couple weeks later, I heard him again on the KRTY “On Air Music Meeting” with Nate Deaton and Julie Stevens. His name? Well it’s Drew Baldridge.

Drew

Credit: drewbaldridgemusic.com

As a bit of background, Drew is a singer songwriter at heart. According to some background research I did ahead of the show, he grew up playing basketball and baseball, but would perform the National Anthem at all his games. As a teenager, he joined a quartet at church singing bass while his father sang tenor. Later on, he played acoustic gigs at a nearby bar on Saturday nights. Not a bad way to break into the business.

In 2013, Drew signed with THiS Music, joining the company of a number of the most prominent and prolific songwriters in Nashville. Soon after, he released his debut EP, All Good and singles “BYOB” and “She’s Taken” apparently became radio staples across the Midwest. Living on the West Coast, I had yet to be exposed to him.

Known as much as a performer as a singer, Drew brings an energy-packed show to every performance. Doesn’t matter if he’s opening, or the headliner. He’ll always give you 100%. No less. Over the past few years, Drew has shared the stage with artists such as Alabama, Cole Swindell, Dustin Lynch, Jerrod Niemann, Phil Vassar, Lee Brice, Eric Paslay, Parmalee and Josh Turner among others.

Not bad company to be associated with, right?

Back in January, I was lucky enough to catch Drew at the Rodeo Club in San Jose opening for Granger Smith. I’ve got to say that I was thoroughly impressed with he and the band, so much so that I hit the merchandise table after the show and bought both his CD and EP. The setlist that night was packed full of songs that were both originals, as well as a few cover songs that sent the crowd into a frenzy.

What I loved the most about the live show was how the band was always in sync and they entertained. That’s the key word. This show was entertainment at it’s finest. You could tell they were having fun up on stage. Everyone danced together while playing. Seriously. Check out the live performance video links below.

His recent radio hit, “Dance with Ya“, which closed the set (and will certainly find a spot on my Top 100 of 2016), was the most recognizable of his own songs and in San Jose, the crowd is always sure to make artists feel welcome. Check this out. Nothing says “Welcome to California and KRTY country” quite like a front row filled with Drew Baldridge bobbleheads, right?

Bobblehead

Credit: Rudy Sabin

And yes, that’s me right behind Drew’s left hand, wearing my Oregon Ducks gear!

You can generally get an idea of how a show is going to go by the setlist. Drew doesn’t disappoint. His setlist includes songs such as his latest single “Rebound”, “God’s Front Porch“, “Tractors Don’t Roll“, and “Love on Your Body“.

He also includes a great selection of cover songs including Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance”, as well as a medley of hits from the 90s such as Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”, Smash Mouth’s “All Star”, Sugar Ray’s “Fly” and Third Eye Blind’s “Semi Charmed Life”.

Of course, what country setlist wouldn’t be complete without a few classic covers such as “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Play Something Country”?

Here’s a quick clip of the live performance of “Shut Up and Dance”.

Here’s a quick clip of the live performance of “Dance with Ya”.

During Baby Got Back, the crowd was “treated” to a little rump shaking from the four guys in the band, which seemed to go over well. We also got a little “All About That Bass” from the bass player.

Oh, did I mention the drummer, Simone Simonton? She was amazing! I mean she could flat out play. She played her heart out the entire show and her drum solo was one of the highlights of that evening for me!

DrewBand1

Drew recently announced the release of his full-length debut album titled Dirt on Us. The album is set to be released on June 10 and features 13 tracks, 11 of which Baldridge co-wrote. You might recognize a few of the songs from his previous EPs.

Drew is active on social media so make sure to check him out on Facebook and follow him on Twitter at@DrewRBaldridge. Speaking of social media, also check out the Drew Crew fan page on Facebook for news, photos and discussions about all things Drew.

Anything else you can find on his website including tour dates, merchandise, news and more.

So what did I miss? Have you seen Drew Baldridge live? What do you think of him and the band? Is the setlist I mentioned pretty common? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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!

JKjames

For us hardcore country music fans, James Wesley is already known. With hits such as “Real”, “Didn’t I”, “Jackson Hole” and “Thank a Farmer”, he has been getting airplay for quite some time now thanks to stations such as KRTY 95.3 and KAT Country 103, but definitely not enough airplay (in my opinion) and I can’t stress this enough! His videos have reached the top of the GAC charts and if you see him in concert one time, you’ll be hooked.

JKmike

Before you ask too many questions about James, let me tell you this: he is a traditionalist, which is something that I find rare in country music these days. He’s also VERY passionate about his music and his especially his fans. He writes his own songs and both he, and the band, play their heart out each and every time they take the stage. Just take a look at the photos and they will give you just a small idea of what a live performance is like. But photos really don’t do justice.

JKjesse

During his show in San Jose last night, James mixed his own music with the sounds of Merle Haggard, Dwight Yoakam and George Jones (see the full set list below). “Mama Tried” some “White Lightning” and a little “Fast As You”. Good stuff! Though I won’t lie and say that I wasn’t just a little disappointed that there was no “Family Tradition” or “Folsom Prison Blues” this time around…but I’ll live!

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Besides the staples (Real, Didn’t I and Thank a Farmer) we were also treated once again with new songs that haven’t made it on the radio yet (or maybe an album in the near future???). I’ve said this before, but just to reiterate, there are a few songs that I expect to be hits in the near future, including: “Running”, “See You on the Radio” and “The You I Wanna Know”. “Running” (co-written with Marcum Stewart and Zac Wrixon) and “See You on the Radio” were two songs that continue to stick out for me as having the potential to be radio hits. Do you hear that KRTY? KAT COUNTRY?

MikeEric

How do describe last night’s show? How about high energy. Absolutely entertaining. A little bit country…a little bit rock and roll! I could go on and on but I’m sure you’d eventually get bored with my endless rant. So, in closing, I’ll say it again: if there is one artist that you see in concert in the next year, make sure that it’s James Wesley. From the stage presence, to the love of the music to the time he spends with his fans, it is not just a concert. It really is a “Real” experience that music lovers of all ages and genres will enjoy. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

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

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If you like the review (and want to help spread the James Wesley name) please share this review with your friends, family, etc…

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By the way, I left out the pregame “festivities” with KRTY DJ’s Randy Jones and Indiana Al. Or are they now known as “Indiana Lambert” and “Randy Underwood”? I’ll just post one picture and let’s just say…you might not be able to unsee this! 🙂

AlRandy

Concert Review: 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

New U2 Album Due in March

December 19, 2008

It’s being reported that U2 has named their new album “No Line On The Horizon,” and will release it worldwide in early March. I for one can’t wait!

From Reuters:

The quartet’s 12th studio album was originally expected to be released by the end of this year, but the band announced in September that it would keep writing more tunes. Recording took place in Morocco, Dublin, New York and London.

Interscope Records will release “No Line On The Horizon” internationally March 2, and a day later in North America.

It marks the follow-up to “How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb,” which was released in late 2004 and went on to sell 9 million copies worldwide, according to Interscope. It also garnered U2 their second album of the year Grammy, following 1987’s “The Joshua Tree.”

The new album was produced by long-time collaborators Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, with additional production by Steve Lillywhite. Tunes recorded in 2006 with producer Rick Rubin, the man behind Johnny Cash’s comeback, have been jettisoned.