Posted tagged ‘North Carolina’

Artist Spotlight: McKenzies Mill

May 23, 2016

I’ve been on a major southern rock kick the past couple of days. Sometimes I find that I just need to step back from listening to new music and revert to the classics. Listening to some Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers etc…

That’s probably how I stumbled across my latest Artist Spotlight: McKenzies Mill,  two brothers from North Carolina, now based in Nashville, Tennessee, that absolutely know how to rock!

Founded by Justin and Ryan Harris, and backed by the a few of the best musicians around, McKenzies Mill brings its audience what has been described as “Southern Fried Rock & Roll.”

From Ryan’s own words (via Wrangler Network):

“Southern Fried Rock-n-Roll” is definitely the way that we most often describe our music. For the people that see us live, I like to think that most of them walk away thinking, “man, those country boys can rock!” If they are, then we’re doing it right.”

There you have it! A little bit country, a little bit southern rock and a little bit rock and roll. Take three of my favorite genres, wrap them up in a package, and put them out on the road. Just what I love…and that’s what these brothers give you night in and night out!

While you might not be familiar with McKenzies Mill (yet), the duo is in no way a newcomer to the music scene. They’ve been featured at NASCAR’s Speed Street Fest in Charlotte, North Carolina, and at BayFest in Mobile, Alabama. They’ve also been featured alongside artists such as Brad Paisley and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

In terms of music, McKenzies Mill has released two albums, “One Hell of a Ride” and a self-titled album, “McKenzies Mill”. In 2014, they were named a Band to Watch by CMA Close-Up magazine back and the duo also won Bud Light’s National Battle of the Bands back in 2012.

In addition, last September, the duo released two new singles, “Middle of Nowhere” & “Willie“.

I know there’s more that I could talk about here, but I’ll let you check out the rest of the band’s music for yourself. Here’s a sample of their own songs, as well as a few great covers:

Fishin’ in the Dark

My Heaven is a Small Town

Dirty Things

Country Born & Raised

Yee Haw

If you see McKenzies Mill on the bill anytime soon, make sure you’re there early. You don’t want to miss your chance to see this band. I said it before and I’ll say it again: they can flat out rock.

Also, make sure that you check them out on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at @McKenziesMill. Upcoming tour dates can be found here.

Don’t forget to check out their music on iTunes.

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

Artist Spotlight: Chasin’ Crazy

May 19, 2016

So I’m just going to come out and say this right now: the first time I ever heard of Chasin’ Crazy, I was told by a good friend that they were an incredible band, but they were the equivalent of the Backstreet Boys of country music.

Say what???

After hearing that I paused and thought “could there really be a Backstreet Boys of country music?”

Anyways, even with that description, I set out to find out more about the band. And I’m sure glad that I did.


Credit: Rudy Sabin

First, here’s a little background:

Chasin’ Crazy came to be back in 2012 when Jimmy James Hunter and Forest Miller met in Nashville while playing in separate acts at a show. It was out of this meeting, during which the two also met Travis Fincher, that Chasin’ Crazy was born. For several months they performed as a trio until they were approached by Scott Siman and April Rider from RPM Entertainment who believed that they had the talent, musicianship and passion to be successful.

Obviously, the next step was to build out the band which came by way of a fan who suggested that Hunter talk to Landon Parker. Apparently, Parker was in another band in North Carolina at the time, and Hunter was in awe with his vocal skills and convinced him to visit with them in Nashville. Soon after, he joined the band, moving to Nashville and committed fully to the project. Creigh Reipe joined several months later and the rest, as they say, is history.

I’ve been chatting with these guys on Twitter for nearly a year now and had the opportunity to catch them live at the Rodeo Club in San Jose at a KRTY show opening for A Thousand Horses. What’s funny is that I had taken some time to listen to some of their music ahead of the show, but nothing prepared me for their live performance.


Credit: Rudy Sabin

I always find it interesting to see the difference between recorded music and live music. Chasin’ Crazy is a band that you definitely need to see live. Love their music, but their live performance takes things to a whole different level. You’ve got a band that is completely polished, who play off each other during the live show.

It’s obvious that they love making music and love playing to a crowd.

Smack Dab”, written by Parker, Drew Davis and Danny Myrick, is definitely my personal favorite song by the band. It’s a tune about being “Smack Dab” in the middle of love. Don’t get much more country than that, right?

Another favorite of mine is “That’s How We Do Summertime. I think the lyrics say it all:

“Yeah it’s gonna be a hot one, so drink em if ya got em…”

Sounds good to me!

And of course I can’t forget “Trespassin’”.

I know there’s more that I could talk about here, but I’ll let you check out the band, and the rest of their music, for yourself. If you’re interested in keeping up with Chasin’ Crazy, make sure you follow them on Twitter at @ChasinCrazy and on Facebook.

You can follow each of the guys individually on Twitter at , ,, ,.

So what did I miss? Have you seen Chasin’ Crazy live? What do you think of them? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Concert Review: James Wesley and Michael Beck Bring “Real” Country Music to Gilroy, California

May 14, 2016

Just when you think a country music artist can’t get any better, they come back to town and leave you speechless. This is the only way that I can describe the latest performance from recording artist James Wesley’s this past week at The District, a fantastic new venue located in Gilroy, California, which featured Michael Beck of the Michael Beck Band as the opening act.


Michael Beck and James Wesley (Credit: Patti Galiano)


If you don’t know Wesley already, then let me quickly educate you for a moment. With 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, he’s still 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. Wait. Did I just say hooked? More on that later…

Before I go too far, and jump into my review of this show, I can’t forget the rest of the band including Michael Blakemore, Jesse LaFave and Matt Morgeson because they’re pretty damn good at what they do too. But you get my point!

Anyway, on to the show itself.

First, a little backstory. This show was originally scheduled to take place at a venue that won’t be mentioned, but on two days notice, had to be moved to another location, the aforementioned The District. While this change of plans didn’t make things easy for fans wanting to catch Wesley live, an enthusiastic crowd still made the trek to show their support. Those who came were treated to a night of fun and GREAT music!


Hanging with James Wesley Post-Show (Credit: Patti Galiano)

Michael Beck took the stage first as the opening act. Beck is a local guy from the Bay Area (who by the way graduated from George Fox University just 10 minutes down the road from me here in Oregon). I know that California grown country artists don’t always get the attention they deserve, but this is an artist that Nashville needs to take notice of.

Man. What a voice and stage presence that screams “Forget your drink…pay attention to me”. Most young artists can come off as unpolished or even unentertaining. Beck is nothing of the sort. He makes the audience want to get up out of their seats and sing along with every song. His setlist included songs from his CD “Countin’ on Tennessee” as well as an assortment of cover songs from the likes of Jon Pardi (Head Over Boots) and David Lee Murphy (Dust on the Bottle).

From the EP, songs such as “Tennessee”, “Paradice” and “The Reason (I Love the Rain)” were a few of my favorites. But the one song that stood out to me, and I know is a personal favorite of Beck’s, is “Little Piece of Heaven”. To me, nothing is better than a song that is written from the heart, about someone you love. In this case, Beck’s 18 month old daughter. If you’re looking for a song that’s destined to be a hit, this is it.

Check out Beck’s cover of “Head Over Boots” here.

Want to learn more about this up-and-coming artist, visit his website, where you can also pick up the CD. Also check out the entire Michael Beck Band on Facebook for more information on news and upcoming shows.

Around 9:30 p.m., it was time for the main event of the evening: James Wesley.

So how do I describe James Wesley as an artist? Simple. He is a traditionalist, which is something that is rare in country music these days.

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.


Credit: Patti Galiano

How would I describe a James Wesley show? How about high energy. Absolutely entertaining. 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.

Besides the staple set list songs that I mentioned earlier (Jackson Hole, Real, Didn’t I) we were also treated once again with a selection of “new” songs that haven’t made it on the radio yet.

Heck, maybe we can find them on 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: “The You I Wanna Know”, “Running” (co-written with Marcum Stewart and Zac Wrixon) and “See You on the Radio” are just a few songs that continue to stick out for me as having the potential to be radio hits. The later, was the closing song on the set for this show and it certainly has the legs to make a solid run on country radio.

Check out a live clip of “Real” here.

Check out a live clip of “Running” here.

But let’s not forget about the beauty of the cover song. One thing that Wesley and the band like to do is mix their own music with the sounds of Merle Haggard, Dwight Yoakam and George Jones. Some “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive”. A little “White Lightning”. Fantastic stuff.


Credit: Patti Galiano

I mentioned earlier that if you see Wesley in concert one time you’ll be hooked. Well, now you can officially get “Hooked Up” with Wesley’s newest single by the same name.

Back in April of last year, officials from Big Rock Sports, LLC announced that Calcutta®, a proprietary brand of Big Rock Sports, partnered with Wesley to produce the single and music video “Hooked Up”. The music video was shot last year during a concert that Wesley performed at the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament weigh station on the Morehead City, North Carolina waterfront. In case you’re wondering, he and the band will be back at the tournament on June 17. If you’re in the area, don’t miss it!

Anyways, the song, which tells the story of anglers chasing blue marlin—through the eyes of the marlin—at the Big Rock, was released through iTunes,, and so you will definitely want to check this out. Wesley and the band played it live for the first time at this show last year and it was great to hear it again on the set list this year. I am going out on a ledge and say that this will be a radio hit in the very near future. Do you hear that country radio? It’s time to get this song on the air!

Check out a live clip of “Hooked Up” here.


Credit: Patti Galiano


So as always, I’ve talked your ear off. But let me say 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 next year, make sure that it’s Wesley.

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!


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!

New Music Review: “Hooked Up” by James Wesley

September 21, 2015

James Wesley is back, and he’s back in a big way!

The last time many of you heard from Wesley, he was hitting the airwaves with “Thank a Farmer”, a heartfelt ballad which tells the story of how much hard work it takes to be a farmer in Middle America. And it doesn’t come much more Middle America than Wesley’s music.


First, a little background. Wesley grew up in Mound Valley, a community of only 200 people in Southeastern Kansas. He first discovered country music via his grandmother’s record collection, which included heaping helpings of classic crooners such as Marty Robbins, George Jones and Ray Price. His mother was the first to notice Wesley’s own talent for singing when she overheard him belting out his favorite songs behind his bedroom door. By his late teens he was singing in local nightclubs and beginning to think about making music his life.

I can certainly say that i’m glad he made this decision.

Wesley signed with Broken Bow Records back in 2009 and quickly exploded onto the country music scene with his debut breakout single “Jackson Hole.” To date he has had two Top 25 singles, including one of my personal favorites “Real”, making his voice a staple on country radio. If you’ve ever seen Wesley in concert, then you know that he sings directly to real people about real things that profoundly affect real lives. From his small-town upbringing to his blue-collar work ethic, Wesley has a deep understanding of what country listeners want to hear.


Now, on to the song. “Hooked Up” was co-written by Harry Smith and Todd Morris, and tells the story of a blue marlin that is being pursued by fisherman at the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament. Announced backed in April, Wesley formed a partnership with Calcutta to shoot the “Hooked Up” music video and promote the song to the sport fishing communities.

The accompanying music video for “Hooked Up” takes fans along with him for the journey of a lifetime. The video was shot during a concert, performed by Wesley, which took place at the new Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament weigh station on the Morehead City, North Carolina waterfront. Additional footage was shot during the tournament between June 6–13.

OK, before I tell you why I love this song, go ahead and check out the video for yourself.

Now you’ve seen the video and heard the song for yourself. Admit it, there’s so much to love about “Hooked Up”. It’s so easy to get hooked by the chorus. It’s upbeat. It’s toe tapping. I’ve listened to the song a good 70-75 times now, and each time I get to the chorus, I find myself belting out the lyrics at the top of my lungs. Sadly, the kids keep telling me to leave the singing to the artist. They’re probably right!

But isn’t that what country music is all about? Isn’t it supposed to make you feel passion? Shouldn’t it make you want to sing along at the top of your lungs? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: country radio NEEDS more James Wesley. Is “Hooked Up” the song that takes him back to the top of the charts? I certainly hope so. I think it certainly has a chance!


I’ll admit, I have a personal connection to the song. It doesn’t make me biased. Anyone who knows me knows that I shoot from the hip in all of my reviews. This review is no different.

My step father, who passed away this past March, was a fisherman his entire life. He used to tell all those fish stories that you always hear about. Catching the “big one” and “the one that got away”. He told them all. He participated in tournaments around the country. He spent years in Alaska. He even owned his own charter in Bodega Bay/Tomales Bay, California. Bald Eagle Fishing. I’ll never forget it.

The first time I heard the song was only a few short weeks after he passed. At the time I was devastated (after losing my birth father only 6 months earlier). That first time brought tears streaming down my face. Just listening to the lyrics reminded me of all of the good times. The fishing stories. Knowing that he would have absolutely LOVED this song. Hearing “Hooked Up” for the first time brought a smile back to my face for the first time in weeks.

That’s the mark of a great song. Bringing pure emotion out of me…the listener. That’s what great music is all about, right?


Before I forget, a portion of the proceeds from downloads will go to the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament Charities and the ASA’s Keep America Fishing Foundation, so make sure you download “Hooked Up” today from iTunes or from and

Also, can’t forget the guys who don’t always get the credit they deserve. Michael Blakemore, Jesse LaFave, Matt Morgeson and Drew Scheuer. You guys all rock!

Don’t wait. Go get “Hooked Up” now. You won’t regret it!

For more information about Wesley, and to take a listen to the rest of his catalog, visit

Honor Student’s Body Found in River

April 22, 2011

The body of Phylicia Barnes, a 16-year-old honor student from North Carolina who had been missing since December, has been found in a Maryland river.

From CNN:

Russell Barnes, the girl’s father, said that a female body found in the Susquehanna River in northeast Maryland is that of his daughter, Phylicia Barnes. It was recovered about 40 miles from where she was last seen, in the city of Baltimore.

On Thursday night, Maryland State Police Superintendent Terrence Sheridan and Baltimore Police Commissioner Fred Bealefeld confirmed at a press conference that the body is that of the teenager student from Charlotte, North Carolina.

“All of us, since that fateful day, have been praying and hoping for a different outcome,” said Bealefeld. “But unfortunately, we are here today.”

Phylicia Barnes’ body was one of two found Wednesday in the river — one south and the other north of the Conowingo Dam — state police said.

Pilot Finds Hole in Plane’s Fuselage

March 29, 2011

The FBI trying to discover what caused a small hole in a US Airways plane, which was discovered by a pilot as he checked the aircraft before a flight.

From CNN:

The puncture in the Boeing 737 airliner is the size and shape of a bullet hole, but that doesn’t mean someone shot at the plane, said Amy Thorenson, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Charlotte, North Carolina. Investigators don’t yet know what could have caused the hole, she said.

The aircraft had flown to Charlotte from Philadelphia and was being prepped for another flight when the pilot discovered the hole above a passenger window toward the back of the plane, according to airline officials. The airline pulled the plane from service and called in the FBI.

It’s unclear whether the hole appeared before or during that flight or while the airliner was on the ground in Charlotte, but investigators and the airline were operating under the assumption that it happened in flight, Thorenson said.

Remains Confirmed to be Zahra Baker

November 12, 2010

Investigators said today that they have found the remains of Zahra Baker, a disabled North Carolina girl who was reported missing nearly a month ago.

“Today, our community mourns, our state mourns, our nation mourns, and the world mourns,” said police Chief Tom Adkins of Hickory, North Carolina.

From the Associated Press:

Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins said investigators matched a bone found a couple of weeks ago with 10-year-old Zahra Baker’s DNA.

“I’ve been dreading this moment from early on in the investigation,” Adkins said. “We have recovered enough physical evidence to think we have found Zahra.”

Police also found a child’s remains earlier this week in western North Carolina in an area near where Zahra’s stepmother once lived. The remains will need to be tested to make sure they also belong to Zahra, Adkins said.

The freckle-faced Zahra, who had bone cancer that forced her to use a prosthetic leg and hearing aids, was reported missing by her parents Oct. 9. They said she was last seen in her bed at their home in Hickory, about 50 miles northwest of Charlotte.

A couple of weeks later, her prosthetic leg and the bone were discovered in some brush, about five miles away from where the other remains were found buried.

From CNN:

Adkins said that DNA from a bone dug up off Christie Road in Caldwell County — the same place Zahra Baker’s prosthetic leg was recovered late last month — was consistent with that taken from the girl’s personal items.

Using DNA swabs taken from Zahra’s biological father and mother, investigators are trying to confirm that more human remains found at a site five miles away also belonged to her, according to Adkins. But he said the medical examiner’s staff at the site said those bones appeared to have belonged to a girl of Zahra’s age.

“Investigators, agents, officers and staff who have worked on this case are devastated that they were not able to bring Zahra home alive,” Adkins said.