Posted tagged ‘Mark Mackay’

Half Year in Review: My Top 50 Country Music Songs of 2017…So Far

June 10, 2017

It’s that time of year again where I like to take a quick look at my favorite country music songs of the year so far. We’re just about at the halfway point so now is as good a time as any, right?

Now, let me preface this list as I always do.

  • I’m not a professional music reviewer.
  • I don’t get paid to promote artists.
  • I don’t go by Billboard or radio airplay charts.

This list consists of the top 50 songs that I like so far in 2017. The 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. Note that not all songs may be “traditional country”. I listen to all genre’s of music, so I have no issues with country artists who play “non-traditional” country. To me…music is music. If I like it, I’m going to listen to it (and enjoy it).

By the way, my three kids had input into this list so some songs might have ended up higher than I might have put them myself. But hey…I value their opinions!

Also, you’ll notice that a lot of mainstream, radio hits by major artists are not included. No reason except for the fact that my list is not based on how famous you are. Simple as that. It’s the songs that I love (but please feel free to sway me in your direction if I left a song off).

You probably heard some of these songs every hour (on the hour) on your local country station. Others may not have been played much (if at all) when they should have been, in my own, personal opinion. Also, while some of these songs may have come out in late 2016, and may have even landed a low spot on my wrap up of the year, they were ones that were predominantly played (if they made the radio) so far in the 2017 calendar year.

Others may be primed for success later this year so keep your ears open!

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!!!!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go through each entry and provide detailed background on the song, reasons for it’s placement, etc…But, feel free to leave a comment and I’d be happy to respond.

And now, Without further ado, let’s get this party started with my standard three way tie at #50:

(T) 50. “WD-40“, Muscadine Bloodline

(T) 50. “Different Kind of Love“, Casey James

(T) 50. “Worth the Wait“, Lindsay Ell

49. “Get While the Gettin’s Good“, Bobby Wills

48. “11:59 (Central Standard Time), The Railers

47. “Sing Along“, Kristian Bush

46. “What I Wanna Be“, Jacob Davis

45. “Settle for a Small Town“, Mark Mackay

44. “Wheels“, Steve Moakler

43. “High Time for a Good Time“, Hillbilly Vegas

42. “Makin’ Me Look Good Again“, Drake White

41. “Dive Bar in Dahlonga“, Ashley McBryde

40. “Put a Label on It“, Ryan Follese

39. “More Girls Like You“, Kip Moore

38. “Ring on Every Finger“, LoCash

37. “Singles You Up“, Jordan Davis

36. “Heaven on Down the Highway“, Halfway to Hazard

35. “Own It“, Bailey Bryan

34. “Heartache on the Dance Floor“, John Pardi

33. “Every Little Thing“, Carly Pearce

32. “Hell of a Highway“, Jake Worthington

31. “What Guy Wouldn’t“, Waterloo Revival

30. “Love Can Go to Hell“, Brandy Clark

29. “Five More Minutes“, Scotty McCreery

28. “Just a Phase“, Adam Craig

27. “You Look Good“, Lady Antebellum

26. “Getting Over You“, Jackie Lee

25. “She’s with Me“, High Valley

24. “Tin Man“, Miranda Lambert

23. “Craving You“, Thomas Rhett featuring Maren Morris

22. “Crazy About You“, The Road Hammers

21. “Think a Little Less“, Michael Ray

20. “All the Pretty Girls“, Kenny Chesney

19. “How Not To“, Dan and Shay

18. “Woke Up in Nashville“, Seth Ennis

17. “Like You That Way“, Canaan Smith

16. “Never Land“, Eli Young Band

15. “Sunday Morning“, Parmalee

14. “Missing“, William Michael Morgan

13. “In Case You Didn’t Know“, Brett Young

12. “Outta Style“, Aaron Watson

11. “Happens Like That“, Granger Smith

10. “The Hard Way“, Cash Creek

9. “Broken Halos“, Chris Stapleton

8. “Fix a Drink“, Chris Janson

7. “Greatest Love Story“, LANco

6. “Body Like a Backroad“, Sam Hunt

5. “Preachin’ to the Choir“, A Thousand Horses

4. “Hurricane“, Luke Combs

3. “Drinkin’ Problem“, Midland

2. “No Such Thing as a Broken Heart“, Old Dominion

1. “It Ain’t My Fault“, Brothers Osborne

 

Well that’s it. My Top 50 of 2017…so far!

Where did I hit the nail on the head? Where did the arrow miss the mark?

Let me know in the comments below!

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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.

JW_Gilroy1

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!

Mackay2

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.

Mackay3

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!