Posted tagged ‘Nate Deaton’

Concert Review: Eli Young Band, Ryan Follese, Jackie Lee and Brennin “Turn it On” in San Jose, California

November 6, 2016

Two hours sleep. Yes, I’m writing my latest concert review on only two hours sleep.

However, it was definitely worth it.

For the second night in a row, I was treated to an amazing show at the Rodeo Club in San Jose, California, featuring some great up-and-coming talent, as well as one of my all time favorites: The Eli Young Band. Joining the headliners were Ryan Follese, Jackie Lee and Brennin, and as with other KRTY-hosted shows, this one certainly did not disappoint.

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As the clock struck 9 o’clock, Brennin Hunt (Brennin) was the first artist to take the stage. Brennin is a singer, songwriter, producer and actor who hails from Harrah, Oklahoma. To chase his lifelong dreams, he moved to Nashville back in 2007 and soon after landed his first publishing deal. He began writing and performing songs for numerous television shows while touring and opening for artists across the United States and Canada.

If you like artists such as Thomas Rhett and Sam Hunt, with their blend of country and pop, then Brennin is right up your alley. Brennin gained notoriety in 2011 as a contestant on the first season of Simon Cowell’s “The X Factor” and again in 2015 when he made a guest appearance on ABC’s “Nashville”.

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Currently signed with William Morris Endeavor and Deluge Music Publishing, his latest song, “I Can’t Do This” appears on Vince Gill’s 2016 album Down To My Last Bad Habit. His self-titled, 6 song EP, is available now.

When Brennin first took the stage, I could hear all the girls around me talking about one thing: his looks. But what I noticed about Brennin was how he immediately engaged the crowd with his guitar and voice, while at the same time, showcasing great songwriting skills. Once he had finished his first song, the same girls who merely mentioned his looks just a few minutes earlier, were now saying that they were surprised that he wasn’t just another cute guy with a guitar. The guy is talented, that’s for sure!

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If you haven’t heard his music before, I recommend listening to songs such as his latest single “Lose My Cool”, “Slow Rise” and a favorite of the audience, “Strut”. Here’s his “Promo Performance” of “Lose My Cool”:

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

After just a few minute respite, KRTY General Manager Nate Deaton took the stage to introduce the second act of the evening, Jackie Lee. Funny story here. Lee wasn’t even on the bill originally, but Deaton found himself sitting next to him on his flight back from the CMA Awards and invited him to play a few songs ahead of Eli Young Band and Ryan Follese. Naturally, he accepted.

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As background, Lee was only six years old when he stepped into a professional recording studio to cut songs with famed country songwriter, musician and producer Carson Chamberlain (Keith Whitley/ Easton Corbin). Lee’s father was a devoted fan of traditional country music, while his mother enjoyed pop hits from the 1980s. As a youngster, he  found himself influenced by everyone from Bob Seger to Justin Timberlake.

After high school, Lee headed to Nashville, and at the age of 19, he signed a recording contract with Republic Nashville. However the deal with Republic ended without the artist releasing anything for the label, and Lee was looking for another chance. He heard a demo of a song called “She Does,” and was curious about the tune until he was told Kenny Chesney had plans to record it. Chesney eventually passed on the tune, which worked out in Lee’s favor when he landed a new record deal with the independent Nashville label Broken Bow. Lee and his team decided “She Does” was the perfect song for his recording debut, and when his version was released in the fall of 2014, it soon landed on the Billboard Country Airplay charts.

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While the crowd was only treated to two songs on this evening, Lee certainly earned new fans. I would say that I was one of them, but that would be a lie. I actually became a fan of Lee’s at an earlier Rodeo Club performance. The guy can sing and he definitely knows how to make an impression on a crowd. I could hear folks all around me talking about how impressed they were with this young, up-and-comer.

His new single, “Getting Over You”, is just hitting country radio and made quite an impression on the audience. Make sure to keep an eye out for it and start requesting it right away. This song has what it takes to quickly climb the charts.

Take a listen:

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

Next up was Big Machine Label Group recording artist Ryan Follese (pronounced “fall-uh-ZAY”). As I have mentioned in a couple of previous posts, I first came across Follese a little over a month ago when I heard KRTY promoting that he would be in San Jose opening up for both Cassadee Pope and Eli Young Band. I’m certainly glad that I didn’t miss either show because Follese is something special. When I talk about artists that you need to drop what you are doing immediately and take a listen to, Follese is one of them.

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For a little background, Follese  co-wrote each of the six tracks on his self-titled debut solo EP, the Ryan Follese EP, including “Put A Label On It,” which hit country radio in October as his first official single and, naturally, was the closing song of the evening. We were also treated to his summer vacation anthem “Float Your Boat.” While the aforementioned songs might have received the notoriety to date, we also had the opportunity to hear a few more, great tracks from the EP such as “Wilder“, “One Thing Right” and “Lose a Little Sleep“.

This might surprise you, but Follese originally hit it big on the pop scene. During his successful run fronting the band Hot Chelle Rae, Follese co-wrote their #1 hit “Tonight, Tonight” and toured around the globe, featuring arena dates with none other than Taylor Swift. What really stands out for me is how Follese has seamlessly transitioned from pop-rock to country music. I’ve seen a number of artists go the other direction, and a few that have tried to join the country ranks, but I have a feeling that we’ll look back in a few years and realize that Follese made the right decision.

It also doesn’t hurt that Follese grew up surrounded by the music of his country music songwriting parents, Keith and Adrienne. Their songwriting catalogue includes songs that he covered on this evening including Tim McGraw’s “Something Like That”, Faith Hill’s “The Way You Love Me” and Martina McBride’s “I Love You”.

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Watching Follese command the stage, it was clear that he is a polished artist who knows how to play the crowd. From the very first note, he had the crowd singing along to every note. That’s one thing that many country artists lack when they first launch their careers.

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

Finally, around 10:15 p.m., it was time for the main event of the evening: Eli Young Band. To give you a little background on the guys, Eli Young Band is composed of members who met while students at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. They include:

  • Mike Eli (vocals and guitar)
  • James Young (guitar)
  • Jon Jones (bass guitar)
  • Chris Thompson (drums)

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Mike Eli and James Young met at the University of North Texas and became dorm roommates their freshman year. They played guitar and eventually began writing and singing songs together. They originally formed the acoustic duo, Eli & Young, while attending school. Thompson and Jones joined them later on and the rest is history!

With the 2011 release of their Republic Nashville debut, Life at Best, the Eli Young Band scored their first No. 1 hit with the aforementioned “Crazy Girl.” The double platinum single became the most played country song of the year on Billboard’s 2011 year end chart. The band’s follow up single (and one of my all-time favorite songs), “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” became their second #1 and was certified platinum. It earned the band Grammy nods for Best Duo/Group Performance and for Best Country Song as well as Single of the Year and Song of the Year nominations from both the CMA and ACM.

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In recording 10,000 Towns, the Eli Young Band gathered songs from Nashville’s top songwriters, including Craig Wiseman, David Lee Murphy, Jon Randall and Will Hoge, and the band wrote half of the songs on the new album themselves. Their careful and detailed approach to writing and finding the very best songs for the new album paid off quickly as their first single off the album, “Drunk Last Night,” became the band’s third #1 hit. The second single, “Dust,” was the #1 most added song on the chart the first week with more than stations on board across the country. The song, my favorite on the latest album, is a rock-tinged number about a girl leaving small town life behind and taking charge of her future.

Their latest single, “Saltwater Gospel”, ranks up there (in my opinion) as one of their best songs to date. The song isn’t one of those Kenny Chesney toes-in-the-sand, beer-in-your-hand kind of summer anthem. It’s more like spending a Sunday morning at the “Church of the Beach”. And it works! Here’s the video, which by the way, was shot just down the road from me at one of my favorite places, Cannon Beach, Oregon:

Ok. So I’ve talked a lot about the band, their background, and their music. But this bears repeating: if you are looking for a legitimate, hard rocking, country band, then the Eli Young Band is it. There are not a lot of bands touring today who I can put in the same bucket as them. Their live show is a real treat. These guys give it their all from the very first note and don’t quite until their set is complete.

What I love is that they mix their new songs with the hits. They don’t shove a show full of new music down your throat, like many do these days. The band understands the needs and wants of their audience. They want to hear songs like “Even if it Breaks Your Heart”, “Dust”, “Crazy Girl”, “Drunk Last Night” and “Always the Love Songs”. They get it. Before they were country music superstars, they were country music fans. But that doesn’t mean that they won’t introduce you to new music. And that’s not a bad thing. They’ll even throw in a cover song or two. A little “Dust on the Bottle”. Some “Learning to Fly” from Tom Petty. I even heard some Fleetwood Mac guitar riffs. Nothing wrong with that at all.

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To summarize, the Eli Young Band tore down the house and the Rodeo Club will never be the same. I can honestly say that I got my money’s worth and more. There are not many acts currently on tour who put on a show like these guys. When they come to your town, make sure you check them out!

Also, you can find their entire catalog of music on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon. You should definitely keep up with them via their website or follow them on Twitter at @EliYoungBand and Facebook for their latest news and concert schedule.

Finally, as always I have to give thanks to the staff at KRTY. Thank you to Nate Deaton, Julie Stevens, Tina Ferguson, Gary Scott Thomas, Randy Jones, Tony Michaels, Indiana Al, etc…for once again bringing the biggest and best talent to the South Bay. No one does it quite like you guys, and it is appreciated more than you could ever know!

Were you at the show? Have you seen Eli Young Band, Ryan Follese, Jackie Lee or Brennin live? Let me know your thoughts on these talented musicians in the comments section below.

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

November 5, 2016

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

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The night started off with Big Machine Label Group recording artist Ryan Follese (pronounced “fall-uh-ZAY”). I first came across Follese a little over a month ago when I heard the folks at KRTY promoting that he would be opening for both Cassadee Pope and the Eli Young Band in San Jose. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Follese is something special. When I talk about artists that you need to drop what you are doing immediately and take a listen to, Follese is one. I’ll tell you this: this live show made me an even bigger fan.

As a bit of background, Follese  co-wrote each of the six tracks on his self-titled debut solo EP, the Ryan Follese EP, including “Put A Label On It,” which hit country radio in October as his first official single and, naturally, was the closing song of the evening. We were also treated to his summer vacation anthem “Float Your Boat.” While the aforementioned songs might have received the notoriety to date, we also had the opportunity to hear a few more, great tracks from the EP such as “Wilder“, “One Thing Right” and “Lose a Little Sleep“.

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Here’s a tidbit on Follese that you may, or may not be aware of: he originally hit it big on the pop scene. During his successful run fronting the band Hot Chelle Rae, Follese co-wrote their #1 hit “Tonight, Tonight” and toured around the globe, featuring arena dates with none other than Taylor Swift. What really stands out for me is how Follese has seamlessly transitioned from pop-rock to country music. I’ve seen a number of artists go the other direction, and a few that have tried to join the country ranks, but I have a feeling that we’ll look back in a few years and realize that Follese made the right decision.

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It doesn’t hurt that Follese grew up surrounded by the music of his songwriter parents, Keith and Adrienne. Not a bad household to grow up in! Their songwriting catalogue includes songs that he covered on this evening including Tim McGraw’s “Something Like That”, Faith Hill’s “The Way You Love Me” and Martina McBride’s “I Love You”.

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

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

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Also, if you haven’t checked out Follese before, make sure you check out his music on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon. Also, keep up with him via his website or follow him on Twitter at @RyanFollese and Facebook for his latest news and concert schedule.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Artist Spotlight: Ryan Follese

October 26, 2016

As many of you know already, I’ve written about a lot of up-and-coming country music artists. Obviously, there are a lot of musicians out there trying to find their place in , but not everyone is destined for stardom. Today, you are in for a real treat.

I first came across Big Machine Label Group recording artist Ryan Follese (that’s “fall-uh-ZAY”) when I heard the folks at KRTY promoting that he would be opening for both Cassadee Pope and the Eli Young Band in San Jose in early November. I was lucky enough to be in California that week to catch both shows and let me tell you this: he is something special. When I talk about artists that you need to drop what you are doing immediately and take a listen to, Follese is one.

Ryan Follese Float Your Boat Single

As a bit of background, Ryan Follese  co-wrote each of the six tracks on his self-titled debut solo EP, including “Put A Label On It,” which hit country radio earlier this month as his first official single.

Additionally, SiriusXM kickstarted the launch this summer, selecting Follese as their “Highway Find” and spinning his summer vacation anthem “Float Your Boat.” Selling more than 40,000 downloads to date, and amassing nearly 2 million streams, the Ryan Follese EP was recorded with producers Dann Huff and Cameron Montgomery in Nashville. While the aforementioned songs might have received the notoriety to date, don’t miss other great tracks such as “Wilder“, “One Thing Right” and “Lose a Little Sleep“. “Wilder” might be my favorite of the bunch.

In speaking with The Boot, Follese described the EP as follows:

“It is definitely country. It is a look into my life over the last year, which, in my existence so far, has been the most real-life stuff that’s happened to me in the last year. You won’t get that all from the lyrics necessarily, but the meaning and how much heart and effort I put into this is a result of just coming of age, I guess.”

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Now you may not know this, but Follese originally hit it big on the pop scene. During his successful run fronting the band Hot Chelle Rae, Follese co-wrote their #1 hit “Tonight, Tonight” and toured around the globe, featuring arena dates with none other than Taylor Swift. You might not remember, but Follett performed on the 2012 CMT Music Awards with Lady Antebellum, secured a performance on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest and wrote“Thug Story” with Swift and T-Pain. Follese also earned the 2012 American Music Awards’ Best New Artist award. Not bad, right?

Recently, Follese refocused his songwriting, going back to his country roots to incorporate the storytelling lyrics and influences he was raised on. It doesn’t hurt that he grew up surrounded by the music of his songwriter parents, Keith and Adrienne. Not a bad household to grow up in! Their songwriting catalogue includes major hits for Tim McGraw (Something Like That), Faith Hill (The Way You Love Me), Little Texas (Life Goes On), Lonestar (Smile) and Martina McBride (I Love You). Currently previewing his new music nationwide, Follese has been tapped for Live Nation’s ‘Ones To Watch’ Tour with headliner (and one of my personal favorites) LOCASH.

What really stands out for me is how Follese has seamlessly transitioned from pop-rock to country music. I’ve seen a number of artists go the other direction, and a few that have tried to join the country ranks, but I have a feeling that we’ll look back in a few years and realize that Follese made the right decision. Granted, he has the advantage of some strong country music lineage, but he’s done this for himself.

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When speaking of his transition in an interview with Sounds Like Nashville, Follese said:

“It is coming back to my roots. I wish there was a better way to say it but it really, that’s what it is. I grew up surrounded in country and I feel like that’s what made me want to start a rock band to begin with. Just like, you revolt against your parents. Country music was the only thing I knew until I was a teenager and then I was like ‘oh, I want to be in a rock band!’”

Additionally, here’s what Follese had to say to The Boot:

“Country chose me. Everything I wrote for the last few years came out this way. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up in it; I don’t know if it’s because it comes more natural to me. That and the combination of, this is the way to tell the stories I want to tell. The things that I’m going through that I want to do, and being close to my family and being here in Nashville, this is the way to live for me, and that is something that I want to grow old in.”

If you haven’t checked out Ryan Follese before, make sure you check out his music on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon. Also, keep up with him via his website or follow him on Twitter at @RyanFollese and Facebook for his latest news and concert schedule.

I just included Follese as one of fifteen country music artists you need to have on your playlist, so make sure you go and give him a listen.

So what did I miss? Have you seen Ryan Follese live? What do you think of this guy?

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.

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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?

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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!

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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: Granger Smith and Drew Baldridge Bring the Country to this “Tailgate Town”

January 29, 2016

I don’t know how they continue to do it, but KRTY topped themselves once again with amazing live performances by Drew Baldridge, Granger Smith and a special appearance by none other than Earl Dibbles Jr.

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Just one night after Dustin Lynch, Chris Lane and Tyler Rich took the Rodeo Club stage, this trio had the unenviable task of trying to best them. As difficult as I thought that might be to do…I think they succeeded!

The night started off with a bang around 8:45 p.m. when Drew Baldridge arrived. 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.

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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” became radio staples across the Midwest.

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, Phil Vassar, and Josh Turner among others. Not bad company to be associated with, right?

I’ve got to say that I was thoroughly impressed with Drew and the band, so much so that I was sure to hit the merchandise table after the show and buy both his CD and EP. The setlist 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 was how the band was always in sync and they entertained. That’s the key word. This 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 link below.

His current single, “Dance with Ya“, which closed the set, was the most recognizable of his own songs and here in San Jose, we were sure to make Drew feel welcome. Nothing says “Welcome to KRTY” like a front row filled with Drew Baldridge bobbleheads, right? Yep, that’s me right behind Drew’s left hand, wearing my Oregon Ducks gear!

Bobblehead

Credit: Rudy Sabin (www.rudysabin.com)

The setlist also includes songs such as “Rebound” and the aforementioned covers of Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance”, as well as a medley of hits from the 90s including 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, the night wouldn’t be complete without a few country covers which included “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”. Thanks Maggie Doran for capturing it!

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.

DrewBand1

Oh, did I mention the drummer, Simone Simonton? She was amazing! I mean she could flat out play. Her drum solo was one of the highlights of the evening for me!

I’ve seen a lot of shows. And I’ve seen a lot of so-called “opening acts”. Well I will tell you this. There is NO WAY that Drew Baldridge remains an opening act for long. The last time I saw an opener like this was when A Thousand Horses came to the Rodeo Club to support Josh Thompson. They blew the roof off the place that night, just like Drew and his band did opening for Granger Smith. I can’t wait to see what these guys have in store for them in the months and years to come!

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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.

After that set, I certainly needed to catch my breath. But I didn’t have long because soon after, the headline of the evening, Granger Smith, made his way to the stage (minus a guitar player who’s wife apparently went into labor!).

Before we get into the music, first, let me provide you with a little background on Granger. He was born and raised in Texas where he grew up with two brothers. Apparently his life changed when he was 14 years old when he decided to teach himself to play guitar. This was motivated by two things: He thought the guitar would make girls pay attention to him, and George Strait played one. Two great reasons!

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By the time he turned 15, he was performing weekends on small town stages in North Texas, and doing his best as a fan club member to attend every George Strait concert he could. By age 19, Granger was satisfied with enough songs he had written to make an album. As a freshman at Texas A&M, he was able to scrape together some money by pre-selling the album to friends around campus. That album eventually landed him a songwriting deal with EMI Music Publishing, and the following year, he headed off to Tennessee.

Granger’s little brother, Tyler joined him in 2008. Together they worked from the ground up with the goal of not only building an artist, but a brand. Like many others, they embraced social media, searched for real connections with fans, and most importantly, ignored their doubters. They created alter-egos through videos to help promote the music and that’s where the world-famous Earl Dibbles Jr. came from back in 2011. While it may have started out as a short, funny video, it turned out to be something that completely changed the shape of Granger’s career.

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After independently releasing seven studio albums, a live album and two EPs, Granger signed his first record deal in 2015 with Broken Bow Music Group (BBR Music Group). And as they say, the rest is history…

So before the doors officially opened, a crowd of about 100 of us were lucky enough to attend an “Album Preview Party”, hosted by KRTY, which gave us a few snippets from his upcoming album “Remington”, due out on March 4. Granger took the stage and introduced each of the three songs and gave us a little insight into the making of the album, and the stories behind the songs. I’ve got to say that the title track is a hit waiting to happen. Although, I wasn’t disappointed by any of the songs that were played. I could easily see all three as follow up singles to his current hit “Backroad Song“. Definitely looking forward to purchasing the album, and I’m sure I’ll order it when pre-orders begin on February 5. Additional details on the new album can be found here.

Now on to the show, and what an action packed set it was. Granger knows how to play to an audience. The guy has a charisma and stage presence that is infectious. Apparently he also has a beautiful smile according to the girls next to me, but I’ll leave that up to you.

And can I just say that he’s got an amazing touring band. Guitar to bass to drums, these guys rock. I kept watching the drummer, Dusty Saxton, who was hidden in the back in his plastic enclosure, leading the organized chaos on stage.  Also had a pretty good view of Jonathan Wisinski on the bass. I’d love to see these guys in an arena or an even larger venue.

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Granger has a full archive of his own music that I swear could fill three full shows. At this show, he ran through a great assortment of favorites and new songs including “The Country Boy Song”, “Bury Me in Blue Jeans”, “Tailgate Town”, “If the Boot Fits” and “Backroad Song”.

 

Now, before I get too far into this, did I mention this was an acoustic show? Now let me ask you a question. How many times have you been at a show where the band blows out the sound…on an ACOUSTIC show??? Well, Granger and the band were successful in accomplishing this. Something I’ve never personally witnessed, but pretty cool in its own right. To pass the time, Granger signed some autographs, took a few pictures with the crowd and was both amused and stoked by the “USA…USA…” chant from the folks in San Jose.

Upon fixing the sound issue, the crowd was treated to a few more song and then, just as quickly as the show began, it appeared to be over. The stage went dark. The crowd went silent. Was it really over? Were we going to get an encore? Was there anything else to come?

Well, for those who know Granger, they also know his alter ego, who I mentioned earlier, Earl Dibbles Jr. Decked out in his white t-shirt, overalls and an American flag, accompanied with a full bag of tobacco, it was Earl time! Needless to say, the crowd exploded with his arrival.

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I don’t know many other artists out there who have an alter ego (Garth, we’ll forgive you for Chris Gaines). But Earl Dibbles Jr. is certainly my favorite. He bleeds red, white and blue and he loves his fans. Not only did we get a stirring rendition of “A Country Boy Can Survive”, but he also spent a good 10-15 minutes at the conclusion of the set signing every single autograph he could from the stage. Gotta love that!

Before you do anything else today, make sure to check out Granger on Facebook and follow him on Twitter at @grangersmith.

I really hope that the San Jose crowd appreciated what they saw tonight. We saw two (OK 3) young, talented, up-and-coming artists who blew the roof off the Rodeo Club. I don’t say things like this lightly, but these guys are heading for the top. I could certainly see them headlining large venues in the years to come. They’re that good. If you see them coming to your town, cancel your plans, get a babysitter and GO TO THE SHOW. You will not be disappointed.

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As always, I want to give thanks to the folks at KRTY. Thank you to Nate Deaton, Julie Stevens, Tina Ferguson, Gary Scott Thomas, Randy Jones, Indiana Al, Jamie Jackson, Jenna Johnson etc…for once again bringing the best in up-and-coming talent to the South Bay. Let’s see any other so called “local country station” in the Bay Area try to do that!

Were you at the show? Have you seen Granger Smith, Earl Dibbles Jr., or Drew Baldridge live? Let me know your thoughts on these guys in the comments section below.

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

December 10, 2015

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

LANCO

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

October 23, 2015

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

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

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

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

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Credit: KRTY

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

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

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

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

Credit: KRTY

Credit: KRTY

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

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

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

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

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

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