Posted tagged ‘Merle Haggard’

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

May 12, 2017

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

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Frankly, anytime James Wesley and his band make the trek out to the West Coast, I pretty much do whatever it takes to take in at least one show. There aren’t many performers in country music today like Wesley. While much of the genre has gone pop, Wesley continues to stick to his traditional roots and he always brings his “A” game to his live performances.

First a little background…

If you’ve been living under a rock the past few years, and can actually say that you don’t know who Wesley is, then let me quickly educate you for a moment. With radio hits such as “Real”, “Didn’t I”, “Jackson Hole” and “Thank a Farmer”, Wesley has been getting airplay for quite some time now across the country. Special thanks go out to a number of  California stations such as 95.3 KRTY, KAT Country 103 and 101.9 The Wolf  who continue to keep Wesley on their playlists.

But let’s be REAL for a second. To this day, Wesley is not getting enough airplay (in my opinion) and I can’t stress enough that if you see him in concert one time, you’ll be hooked.

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

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Now onto the show itself.

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

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

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Credit: Patti Sue

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

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Credit: Patti Sue

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

People often ask me: what’s the best way to describe one of his shows? How about high energy. How about highly entertaining. How about worth every penny. Do you get the idea? I’ll put it another way: just like me, it’s a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll! I could go on and on with descriptors but I don’t want to bore you with my ranting.

Most importantly, he’s also VERY passionate about his music and his fans. He writes, or co-writes most of his own songs and both he, and the band, play their heart out each and every time they take the stage. Plus, Wesley is one of those guys on Twitter (@jameswesley1) who loves to engage with his fans. Make sure to give him a follow and check him out on Facebook. Trust me. He’s as friendly in-person as he is on Twitter and really makes every effort to get to know each and every one of his fans. I wish more artists would follow his lead.

Now, back to the show(s). Besides the staple set list songs that I mentioned earlier (Jackson Hole, Real, Didn’t I, Thank a Farmer) we were also treated once again with a selection of “new” songs that haven’t made it on the radio yet (but perhaps on an album?).

I’ve said this before, but i want to be sure that I touch upon this again in this review: there are a few songs that I expect will be hits in the near future, if given the opportunity. These songs include: “Cornfield”, “Trouble I Like”, “The You I Wanna Know”, “Running” (co-written with Marcum Stewart and Zac Wrixon), “You Should Be Here with Me” and “See You on the Radio”. These are just a few songs that continue to stick out for me as having the potential to be radio hits. The later, which is typically the closing song on the set for his shows, unfortunately didn’t make the cut this time around due to time constraints, but it is still one of my favorite and one I expect to hear on the radio in the future.

Other songs, such as “Rooster” and “Walking Contradiction” are two that always jump out at me during the live shows. Both of these tunes always get the crowd on their feet, and at both shows this week, I can safely say that they did it again. However, while it’s always great to hear original songs, let’s not forget about the beauty of the cover song. Especially at a live show. One thing that Wesley and the band like to do is mix their own music with the sounds of Merle Haggard, George Jones, Hank Williams Jr. and Johnny Cash. Some “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive” and “Mama Tried”. A little “White Lightning”. Even a special treat with “Family Tradition”.

Fantastic stuff.

As always, I’ve done a lot of talking here. But Wesley and his band are worth my gift of gab. I do want to reiterate this once again: there are only a few artists that I give a five star recommendation to. James Wesley is one of them. If there is one artist that you see in concert in the coming year, make sure that it’s Wesley.

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From he and the band’s stage presence, to the love of the music to the time he and the band spend with their fans, it is not just a concert. It really is an experience that music lovers of all ages, and across genres, will enjoy. Trust me, you won’t regret spending $10, $15, $20 or more to see these guys live!

As always, I had a fantastic time and as I sit here writing this review on another flight, I’m once again going back through the photos and videos and realizing what night it was! Special thanks to Rudy Sabin of Rudy Sabin Photography for taking so many great photos!

So have you seen Wesley and the band in concert? What did you think? Please leave your comments and thoughts in the comments below! I would love to hear about your similar experiences!

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.

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.

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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.

Concert Review: A Thousand Horses, Brothers Osborne and Darius Rucker Bring the “Southernality” to San Jose, California

August 1, 2015

I’ve been to a lot of shows. I’m also a man of many words. But after last night, I’m pretty much speechless.

Following the big show at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California, which featured Darius Rucker, Brett Eldredge, Brothers Osborne and A Thousand Horses, those who were lucky enough to find their way to the Rodeo Club in San Jose were in for a treat. Let’s just say that some great country music rolled into like a “Landslide”.

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Hanging with A Thousand Horses

KRTY listeners had been hearing for quite some time that there were “A thousand reasons to come to the after party at the Rodeo Club”. Who knew that it was more like a thousand…and three! On this night, a capacity crowd had the privilege of not only seeing A Thousand Horses and Brothers Osborne, but they were also joined by the headliner himself, Darius Rucker, live on the Rodeo Club stage. What a thrill for the crowd!

A Thousand Horses kicked off their set a few minutes after midnight, kicking into their set with the raucous Landslide, their staple, opening song. On top their number one hit, “Smoke”, the band ran through some music off their album “Southernality”. Three of my favorites, “Sunday Morning”, “Trailer Trashed” and “(This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial” were featured on the set as well as the catchy “Travelin’ Man”. The Friday night crowd was also treated to two great covers of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down”, which they performed with the Brothers Osborne, and The Black Crowes “Hard to Handle”, which they performed with Darius Rucker, much to the delight of the crowd. These were certainly a few highlights of the evening, but as always, the entire night was a night to remember.

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ATH with Darius Rucker

I have said this many times before, and will say it again now, A Thousand Horses is THE band you need to watch, follow and support in 2015 and beyond. For a little background, the band consists of four core members (but there 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

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 they are in no way a copycat act. The band has their own look, their own sound, and a stage presence that captivates an audience from the first note. They truly bring together their classic rock talents with a modern-country sound. There is nothing else like them on the radio today and A Thousand Horses is what country music needs.

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.

I didn’t get a chance to talk about them much, since they only joined A Thousand Horses for one song, but let me tell you this: the Brothers Osborne are talented. VERY talented.

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A Thousand Horses and the Brothers Osborne

As background, brothers John and T.J. Osborne once performed in a cover band called Deuce and a Quarter, where they played cover songs from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Dwight Yoakam, Merle Haggard and Bob Seger. The duo released their debut single “Let’s Go There”, which reached Top 40 on Country Airplay at the end of 2013.Their second single, “Rum”, debuted in early 2014. The single also reached Top 40 on Country Airplay, and is included on their five-song, self-titled EP. Their third single, “Stay a Little Longer”, originally appeared on the EP, but it has since been re-recorded as a single and is currently their third consecutive top 40 country hit.

If you haven’t heard “Stay a Little Longer”, go check it out. It’s on my playlist every hour on the hour and one of the best songs on the radio today! They’re album Pawn Shop comes out in January so don’t miss that when it’s available.

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

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, Danika Gurley, etc…for once again bringing the best in up-and-coming talent to the South Bay. Not to mention bringing Darius Rucker to the Rodeo Club! I’d love to say any other station in the Bay Area try to do that!

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A Thousand Horses and Darius Rucker

The Bay Area is lucky to have a station like KRTY. I’ve lived up and down the West Coast, and you won’t find a harder working “family” than these folks. I say family, because that’s what they are. You can tell when you meet the staff that they are more than co-workers. They love going to work each and every day with each other and bringing you, the listener, the best in country music. And most importantly, they keep it local. That’s what it’s all about. Radio stations come, and radio stations go, but in the end, it’s the local stations that truly care about their listeners that have staying power. Other stations may claim to be local, but there is only one true, LOCAL country station in the Bay Area, and that’s KRTY. While I may not live full time in the South Bay anymore, I truly thank you guys from the bottom of my heart for sticking to your roots. Don’t EVER change!

Well that’s it! What a night!

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

Concert Review: Brothers Osborne and Lauren Alaina “Stay a Little Longer” in San Jose, California

July 30, 2015

Forget staying a little longer. I would have stayed all night for more music from Lauren Alaina (Interscope Records) and the Brothers Osborne (Universal Music Nashville).

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When you come to the Rodeo Club in San Jose, you know that you’re in for a treat at each and every show. On this night, the audience did not leave disappointed.

After a quick, pre-show set from Chris Giles, Director of Business Operations for the San Francisco 49ers, and country musician (who knew???), it was time for Lauren Alaina to take the stage.

You may know Alaina best from her appearance on the 10th season of American Idol where she finished as the runner-up. American Idol was certainly an experience which displayed her enthusiasm and incredibly powerful voice that has been compared to the leading ladies of country music including Carrie Underwood and Martina McBride.

But well before American Idol, Alaina’s first public performances came with a kids’ choir as well as an annual vacation location that offered karaoke (who doesn’t love karaoke!). According to her website, word soon spread about her talent and she began receiving invitations to perform at different venues. Beginning in elementary school, she routinely landed lead roles in school plays. Obviously, music came to Alaina at a very early age.

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Credit: Rudy Sabin Photography

Her debut studio album, Wildflower was released in October of 2011. The album, which included one of my personal favorites “Georgia Peaches”, as  well as “Like My Mother Does” and the radio hit “18 Inches”, debuted at number five on the Billboard 200 chart. She’s currently working on some new music for her upcoming sophomore album, which she showcased to a full house at the Rodeo Club.

I think one of the best moments of the night would be during her performance of “Next Boyfriend” where lucky attendee “Kevin” (and his A’s hat which was quickly confiscated by Lauren) was pulled up on stage as she performed. Luckily this time, “Kevin” wasn’t married, or her cousin, which apparently happened to her at an earlier event. Oops!

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Credit: Danika Gurley

We were also treated to “My Kind of People”, which was my personal favorite of her new music, as well as a fantastic rendition of Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush”. Good stuff all around!

I’ve got to tell you something. After last night’s performance, I know why Alaina is compared with the likes of Carrie Underwood and Martina McBride. Her vocals are incredible, which is amazing considering she’s coming off vocal chord surgery just last year. I can’t imagine the recovery process and getting back into the studio and out on the road. MAJOR kudos Lauren!

If you have not seen her perform live, make sure to check her out! You won’t regret it! Make sure that you are also following Alaina on Twitter at @Lauren_Alaina and on Facebook.

Around 10 p.m., it was finally time for the main event of the evening: The Brothers Osborne. This is a band I have been waiting to see for months. I had the opportunity to see them twice before, but both times, my plans were changed at the last minutes. I’ve have been kicking myself for not seeing them, but this time around, nothing was going to stop me from seeing them.

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Credit: Rudy Sabin Photography

As background, the Brothers Osborne, (John and T.J. Osborne) once performed in a cover band called Deuce and a Quarter, where they played cover songs from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Dwight Yoakam, Merle Haggard and Bob Seger. While in this band, they performed at small, local venues, but it was this experience that the Brothers Osborne got the taste for performing live. In the mid-2000’s they moved to Nashville to pursue their dreams.

The duo released their debut single “Let’s Go There”, which reached Top 40 on Country Airplay at the end of 2013.Their second single, “Rum”, a personal favorite of mine, debuted in early 2014. The single also reached Top 40 on Country Airplay, and is included on their five-song, self-titled EP. Their third single, “Stay a Little Longer”, originally appeared on the EP, but it has since been re-recorded as a single release and is currently their third consecutive top 40 country hit.

Let me tell you this: the Brothers Osborne are talented. VERY talented. The audience was treated to a mix of traditional country, modern country and southern rock. You name it, they played it. What was great was that we got a sample of not only their radio hits, but also some new music that the band is currently recording. I especially loved “Greener Pastures”. I won’t dive into what the song is about but you can let your mind wander and come up with an idea, based on the title. I think Willie Nelson would be proud!

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The audience, naturally, was all over “Stay a Little Longer” and “Rum”, but enjoyed hearing a few cover tunes, including “Hey Good Lookin'” and “La Grange”. How can you not love it when a band can pull off both Hank Williams and ZZ Top flawlessly! Those performances were two of the highlights of the evening for me.

BTW, Lauren Alaina came out in the audience during the Brothers Osborne set and sang along to every single song. Heck, she was standing right next to me and it was obvious that she was a fan, just like the rest of us. You’ve got to love seeing another artist in a moment of fandom! I’ll admit, though, that I felt pretty bad screaming into her ear as I sang along. Hope she didn’t mind!!!

Anyways…I would be remiss in not mentioning two things. First, the guitar playing by John Osborne is something that you need to see live. All I can say is wow! Words won’t do justice. Second, the vocals from T.J. Osborne are up there with the best. He was certainly “on” on this night, whether he was rocking out or taking it down a little with a ballad. The range was incredible.

SetList

If you haven’t seen the Brothers Osborne (and their full band) before, what are you waiting for??? Make sure that you are also following the Brothers Osborne on Twitter at @brothersosborne and on Facebook.

I’m very excited that I get to see them again on Friday, July 31 at Shoreline Amphitheatre opening for Darius Rucker. Heck, A Thousand Horses and Brett Eldredge will be there too. I better get myself prepared for my head to explode from an evening of fantastic country music!

Overall, another great night of country music with KRTY. As always, thank you to Nate Deaton, Julie Stevens, Tina Ferguson, Randy Jones, Danika Gurley, Jenna Johnson etc…for once again bringing the best in up-and-coming talent to the South Bay.

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

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Credit: Rudy Sabin Photography

What did you think of the show? Have you seen either of the performers before?

Please feel free to leave your thoughts on the show, or the artists themselves, in the comments below.

Concert Review: “Rumor Has It” Clay Walker and Toree McGee Rocked San Jose, California

February 16, 2015

Ho hum. Just another Sunday night. Just another KRTY show at the Rodeo Club.

OK. I can’t even begin to attempt keeping a straight face and hide my sarcasm trying to say that. The high praise I have for the efforts put in by both Toree McGee and Clay Walker (one of my ALL TIME favorites) probably can’t even be put into words, but I’m gonna try to do it anyways.

On February 15, country music fans in San Jose, California, were treated to a heck…no…a HELL of a show by two artists who both demonstrated a passion and a love for music (and their fans) that I haven’t seen in quite some time.

Group

Opening the show was Toree McGee, an up-and-coming, East Bay-based singer/songwriter who I first came across last August when KRTY sponsored a contest to give a local act a chance to sing with award-winning country musician Keith Urban. Suffice to say, I was not disappointed.

First, a little background that I learned. McGee’s grandparents were part of a traveling gospel quartet, and her father was a singer in what can only be described as a “garage rock band”. Her father can be credited with giving McGee her love of classic rock and her passion for music, while her mother gravitated toward classic country. Not surprising that I enjoyed her show with my professed love for classic rock and country music.

Toree

McGee has some of the strongest vocals I’ve heard in a long time at the Rodeo Club. To me, her vocal range pulled in a little LeAnn Rimes and one of the all time greats, Janis Joplin. How can you go wrong with those two?

On top of her own songs, including “Run Right Back to You”, and “Amen” (which by the way I heard for the first time on KRTY during Randy Jones’ broadcast prior to the show), she flawlessly pulled off two fan favorite cover songs: “Stay” by Jennifer Nettles and “Kerosene” by Miranda Lambert.

But what I enjoyed the most about McGee (both during her show and during the 10 minutes I was able to chat with her following), was her happy go lucky personality and her passion for life and her music. Nothing sums this up better than the following clip where she first heard herself on the radio (on KRTY as mentioned above) This is what it’s all about!

Check it out:

Oh yeah, there was also a few minutes during the set for what McGee called #toreeselfee time. Here’s mine (thanks Toree):

ToreeJK

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 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 speak with before and after the show. Thanks for coming to San Jose!

As we neared the 9 o’clock hour, it was time for our main event of the evening…Mr. Clay Walker!

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via @CountryFan101

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past couple decades, then you are already very familiar with the man who brought you hits like “Rumor Has It”, “Live Laugh Love”, “If I Could Make a Living”, “What’s It To You”, “Live Until I Die”, “She Won’t Be Lonely Long” and “Then What?”, among others.

Seriously. How many artists can you see in concert who can perform an assortment of their greatest room, but not have time to play them all? But to Clay’s defense, he played a LONG set and got each and every song in that the audience requested.

Here’s the setlist (which doesn’t include an incredible rendition of “Hard to Handle” by the Black Crowes that was performed during the encore):

Set

What a high energy, high passion and high intensity show! I know, I feel like after every show I say how “this was the best Rodeo Club show I’ve ever been too.” But heck, this certainly ranks in my top three of all time, and I’ve been going to the Rodeo Club for the better part of the last decade.

It’s not very often that you find an artist like Clay Walker who can do it all and have the audience eating out of his hands the whole time. Think Garth Brooks-esque. He mixes in his classic hits with new songs as well as a cover or two. And he takes the time to talk to the audience and shows that he really cares about his fans. He’s not just an artist. He’s an entertainer!

Jam

One of my favorite aspects of the show came near the conclusion. Following a medley of a number of Walker’s hits, the San Jose crowd was treated to some traditional Irish Fiddle. Being the father of an Irish Dancer, there was no way that I was going to miss this.

Check it out:

See what I mean? How can you NOT love this?

Fiddle

Make sure you keep up with Clay via his website, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

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via @CountryFan101

All in all, I couldn’t have been more pleased with flying 700 miles from Portland, Oregon, to catch this show. I was very impressed by Toree McGee and Clay Walker, who I had not seen live in nearly a decade, lived up to (and surpassed) all expectations.

If you went, please leave your comments below. Would love to hear what you thought!

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. If you ever get a chance to catch a KRTY show at the Rodeo Club, don’t miss out. The folks at KRTY (Nate Deaton, Tina Ferguson, Indiana Al, Randy Jones etc…) always have their finger on the pulse of what’s hot in country music. You never know which “unknown” is going to be the next “Entertainer of the Year”.

Concert Review: James Wesley Keeps on “Running” in San Jose, California

July 11, 2014

Ladies and gentlemen…boys and girls…children of all ages!

If you don’t know him already, go spend some time on YouTube and check out Broken Bow recording artist James Wesley. If you can only catch one show this year, this is the guy to see. OK, I can’t forget Jesse LaFave, Michael Blakemore and Eric Burgett either because they’re pretty damn good too. But you get my point!

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

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

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

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

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