Posted tagged ‘Luke Laird’

Brandy Clark and Steve Moakler Put Songwriting Talents Front and Center in San Jose, California

August 18, 2016

It’s been quite a whirlwind the past few weeks and my travels have kept me away from the Bay Area for a few weeks now. Unfortunately, this has meant that I haven’t been able to attend any shows at the Rodeo Club for quite some time.

Well, that all changed this week when I found myself in town on a Wednesday night, and wouldn’t you know it, KRTY had two of my up-and-coming favorites on stage on the same night. Ladies and gentleman, if you haven’t been introduced to Brandy Clark and Steve Moakler, you’re about to get a formal introduction.

 

I’ll dive in first with the opening act, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native Steve Moakler. As background, Moakler moved to Nashville back in 2006, honing his craft in a town where the best singers and songwriters go to find their country music dreams. After performing hundreds of live, local performances, Moakler placed a series of songs with several country artists, including Dierks Bentley, Kellie Pickler and Jake Owen. He also released three independent albums, including 2011’s Watching Time Run, which Moakler funded via a Kickstarter campaign.

I talked about how Moakler placed songs for a number of country music artists, but he is well-known, and highly regarded, as one of Nashville’s most respected, up-and-coming songwriters. In fact, Rolling Stone tabbed Moakler as one of “10 New Country Artists You Need to Know”. The magazine called him a “thoughtful singer-songwriter fare in the blue-collar vein of Springsteen, with an Americana bent.”

Did you know that Moakler co-wrote Bentley‘s recent single, “Riser,”  with Travis Meadows? Yep. Naturally, he performed “Riser” during his San Jose set, and was one of the highlights of the performance. However, for me, the highlight of Moakler’s set was a fantastic cover of The Eagles “Take it Easy”. Not only is this one of my all-time favorite songs, Moakler pulled it off in a way that even The Eagles would have been impressed…that is, once we got to hear the third verse. I can neither confirm, nor deny, that the second verse might have been repeated.

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Getting back to his own music, for the first single from his new album, Moakler turned to a song that I first heard earlier this year, “Suitcase“. In fact, it landed at #45 in my “Top 50 of 2016…So Far“. The song was crafted with writers including Luke Laird, Barry Dean and Thomas Rhett and, in my opinion, deserves more radio airplay than it’s currently seeing. Stations like KRTY and others have been great in getting this song out there to their listening audience, now the word just needs to be spread even more because it’s a hit in waiting.

I’ve got to admit, Moakler’s performance was exactly what I expected…and more. Stripped down, professional, and a fantastic experience. What I love is that he pours his heart and soul into his music. You can tell that we he plays, he’s playing from the heart. Each and every song tells a story, and that’s something that’s missing in country music today. Moakler isn’t up in your face. Rather, he takes the time to draw you in with lyrical poetry and brings it home with smooth, flawless guitar playing that gets your toes tapping along with the beat.

If you get the chance to catch Steve Moakler when he’s in town, make sure you get there early and grab a spot right up front. You won’t regret it.

Before you do anything else today, make sure to check out Moakler on Facebook and follow him on Twitter at @stevemoakler. Also, don’t forget to check out his music on iTunes.

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Credit: Rudy Sabin (www.rudysabin.com)

Speaking of talented songwriters, they don’t come much better than the headlining act of the evening: Brandy Clark.

With songs recorded by the likes of Billy Currington, Darius Rucker, Miranda Lambert, The Band Perry, Reba McEntire, Sheryl Crow, LeAnn Rimes and Kacey Musgraves, Clark is certainly well-known and well-respected in the industry. In fact, Clark is a four-time Grammy Award nominee, including a nominee for Best New Artist at the 2015 awards.

As a bit of background, Clark hails from Morton, Washington, a logging town of less than 1,000 people, located in the shadow of Mount St. Helens.

Growing up, Clark was influenced by a variety of country music artists including Barbara Mandrell, Ronnie Milsap, Merle Haggard and Loretta Lynn. She first picked up a guitar at the age of nine and made her singing debut in school musicals. When she entered her first year of college, she started to get more serious about music, taking guitar lessons and joining a band along with her mother and a friend. As a teenager, she discovered the music business program at Belmont University, so she enrolled and moved to Nashville in 1998. After graduation, Clark landed a job with Leadership Music, which led to her eventual publishing deal.

Credit: KRTY

Like Moakler, Clark excels at her storytelling through her music. She is far and away one of the greatest songwriters I have ever had the pleasure of listening to and her live performance only extenuates her talent. On this evening, the audience was treated to a mix of tunes she wrote for The Band Perry (Better Dig Two) and Miranda Lambert (Mama’s Broken Heart), as well as a selection of songs both old and new.

Clark has a new album out, “Big Day in a Small Town“, which tells the stories of the football star, the father, the homecoming queen and the hairdresser. Why? Because those are the stories and people that Clark grew up knowing in her “small town”.

Check out the tracklist below, which includes a who’s who in songwriting credits:

1. “Soap Opera” – Brandy Clark/Bryan Simpson

2. “Girl Next Door” – Brandy Clark/Jessie Jo Dillon/Shane McAnally

3. “Homecoming Queen” – Brandy Clark/Luke Laird/Shane McAnally

4. “Broke” – Brandy Clark/Shane McAnally/Josh Osborne

5. “You Can Come Over” – Brandy Clark/Jessie Jo Dillon/Mark Narmore

6. “Love Can Go to Hell” – Brandy Clark/Scott Stepakoff

7. “Big Day in a Small Town” – Brandy Clark/Shane McAnally/Mark D. Sanders

8. “Three Kids No Husband” – Brandy Clark/Lori McKenna

9. “Daughter” – Brandy Clark/Jessie Jo Dillon/Jeremy Spillman

10. “Drinkin’ Smokin’ Cheatin'” – Brandy Clark

11. “Since You’ve Gone to Heaven” – Brandy Clark/Shane McAnally

There were a few highlights of the evening for me, but one that stood out for me was her performance of “Daughter“, which could be due to the fact that I relate to the lyrics, having two daughters of my own. In fact, one is only a couple years from dating age. Also, I’ve always loved “Stripes” so I was glad that this song found its way on the setlist.

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Another highlight would be the live performance of “Girl Next Door“, a song which goes back to the roots of country music and also landed at #18 in my “Top 50 of 2016…So Far“. This song, like all of Clark’s music, is what country music needs today..a swift kick in the ass!

I’ve said this before, and will say it again, too much of today’s music is lacking substance. Many of the artists, and songs, are cookie cutter. For the most part, there’s no real feeling. No emotion. Yes, there are some great songs being written, but they’re being buried and that’s a damn shame.

Artists like Brandy Clark are what country music needs. I can’t stress her songwriting talents enough. I could never do justice. Don’t believe me, go take a listen. I guaranteed you’ll be hooked right away.

Clark is active on social media so make sure to check her out on Facebook and follow her on Twitter at@TheBrandyClark. You can also pick up her new album on iTunes. Don’t delay. Go out do it now!

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, etc…for once again bringing the best in up-and-coming talent to the South Bay.

I also have to give thanks to one of the best photographers out there…Rudy Sabin (see his photo above). The guy is incredible. Be sure to check out his website for some samples of his work and follow him on Twitter at @rudyphoto.

Were you at the show? Have you seen Steve Moakler or Brandy Clark live? Let me know your thoughts on these talented, talented musicians in the comments section below.

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Year in Review: My Top Ten Country Music Songs of 2013

December 29, 2013

It’s that time of year again. Time to reflect on the year that was. I know…I know. I’ve seen the video that’s circulating that pretty much says that every country music song was exactly the same this year. But I’m not here to support or fight that claim. I’m here to present you with “my” top ten country music songs of 2013.

Now, let me preface this list. I’m not a professional music reviewer. I don’t get paid to promote artists. I don’t go by the Billboard or radio airplay charts. This list consists of the top ten songs that I wanted to come on my radio while driving to and from work, on a road trip, or when I was just sitting at home. You probably heard some of these songs every hour (on the hour) on your local country station. Others may not have been played much (if at all) when they should have been, in my own, personal opinion.

Either way, I’m sure that I’m going to leave quite a few songs off this list that could have easily made it. I know this going in and expect each and every one of you to say “hey, what about this song…or that song.” Please do. Fight for the music and artists that YOU love!!!!

To begin, a few songs that just missed the cut were: “Point at You” by Justin Moore, “Don’t Ya” by Brett Eldridge, “It Goes Like This” by Thomas Rhett, “Outta My Head” by Craig Campbell, “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)” by Gary Allan, “Anywhere with You” by Jake Owen, “Drunk Last Night” by Eli Young Band, “Jump on In” by Zac Brown Band, “Runnin’ Outta Moonlight” by Randy Houser and “Crash My Party” by Luke Bryan. Consider these, in no particular order, my numbers 11-20 (and yes, I could have easily gone up to 50).

Without further ado, let’s get this party started:

10. Tyler Farr, Redneck Crazy

Tyler Farr crashed the country music scene this summer with his hit “Redneck Crazy”. The classic story of love and loss…or is it more of an in-your-face, cheating girlfriend, you’re gonna regret it later song? Either way, it was fun and it was a staple on my playlist this year.

9. Steve Holy, Radio Up

You know him from hits such as “Good Morning Beautiful”, “Brand New Girlfriend” and “Love Don’t Run”, but in 2013, Steve Holy definitely turned the “Radio Up” with another fan favorite. “Radio Up” got some great airplay on KRTY in San Jose thanks to DJ’s Indiana Al, Randy Jones and others, but is still fighting for airplay nationwide. If you haven’t heard it yet, take a listen below. Remember, if you like it, please tell your local station to add it to their rotation!



8. Eric Paslay, Friday Night

Eric Paslay seem to have taken the Phil Vassar route: After gaining acclaim for writing hit songs for other artists, he is finally breaking out on his own. He definitely did this in 2013 with his hit “Friday Night”. Great song by an up-and-coming star. Keep an eye out for this guy in 2014.

7. Parmalee, Carolina

California and Carolina once again came together in 2013. No, it wasn’t a Jo Dee Mesina remix. It was the Parmalee hit “Carolina”. Now, I know what you’re thinking: this song came out well before this year. It’s true. The song was first released on their 2008 EP entitled Complicated before being re-released this past February. Either way, it was a huge hit this year and lands at number seven on my list for 2013.

6. Thompson Square, If I Didn’t Have You

“If I Didn’t Have You” was released back in October of 2012 as the first single from Thompson Square’s album Just Feels Good. The song was written by Keifer and Shawna Thompson with Jason Sellers and Paul Jenkins. It’s a powerful song, and one of two ballads that makes my list (see below for the other).

5. James Wesley, Thank a Farmer

Broken Bow recording artist James Wesley was at it again in 2013. Following hits “Real” and “Didn’t I”, Wesley went back to his roots this year with “Thank a Farmer”, an ode to those farmers that put food on all of our tables and takes listeners, wherever they may live, directly into the heart of Middle America. A song that should be on everyone’s playlist, “Thank a Farmer” really drives home the fact that real songwriting is still alive and well in 2013. Go take a listen and enjoy!

4. Kip Moore, Hey Pretty Girl

The second ballad that ends up on my list, “Hey Pretty Girl” seemed to be on my radio constantly for months earlier this year. The song was released back in January as the third single from his debut album, Up All Night and was co-written with Dan Couch. A simple, yet moving ballad, “Hey Pretty Girl” basically tells the story of a man who makes some moves on a woman, dances with her, then marries and has a child with her. Simple enough, right?

3. Lee Brice, Parking Lot Party

“Parking Lot Party” was a huge hit for Lee Brice in 2013. It was released in May as the fourth single from his 2012 album Hard 2 Love and was co-written with Rhett Akins, Thomas Rhett and Luke Laird. In simple terms, this was a song about partying with your friends before a concert. Talk about a fun song. Who hasn’t done that??? Every time this song came on the radio, I immediately turned the volume up to ten. I suggest you do the same!

2. Darius Rucker, Wagon Wheel

Where do I begin with “Wagon Wheel”. I absolutely love this song, and especially the cover in 2013 by Darius Rucker. As a bit of background, “Wagon Wheel” was originally written by Bob Dylan and later completed by Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show. Rucker, with some help from Lady Antebellum, took the song to a new level this year. I heard this song everywhere, from my cousins wedding to my living room (where I danced to it with my one year old every night to help put her to sleep).

1. Florida Georgia Line, Cruise

Could I go anywhere else with my selection for number one song of 2013? “Cruise” was everywhere this year. It crossed genre’s with the Nelly remix and spent more than 20 weeks at the top of the charts. Brian Kelley (from Ormond Beach, Florida) and Tyler Hubbard (from Monroe, Georgia) have been performing the hit on every major show out there and after starting the year doing club shows, are now selling out arenas nationwide. More hits followed with “Get Your Shine On”, “Round Here” and “Stay” and their album is FULL of more hits (not to mention their cover of Alabama’s “I’m in a Hurry”). I’ve followed Florida Georgia Line for a couple of years now and it’s great to see that they have finally “made it”.

So that’s it. My top ten country music songs for 2013. I know that there were a good 10-15 more songs that could have easily fit onto this list, but in the end, I had to go with the ones that would be on my ten song playlist.

Thoughts? Who/what did I miss? Please leave your thoughts (or your list) in the comments below.