Posted tagged ‘Oregon’

James Wesley Brings “Real” Country Music to Goldendale, Washington

November 10, 2017

Goldendale, Washington.

You might ask the question: What brings someone out to this small community of approximately 4,000 people just north of the Columbia River Gorge?

Well, for one thing, how about the music of James Wesley!

This summer, I took the family 3 hours East to catch a show at the Klickitat County Fair and Rodeo. My kids have been fans for years, but due to circumstances (such as playing 21 and over shows at the bar) they haven’t had the chance to catch a live performance.

I can tell you that they weren’t disappointed.

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Frankly, anytime 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, he continues to stick to his traditional roots and he always brings his “A” game to his live performances.

First a little background…

Let me quickly educate you on this artist 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, 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.

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.

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Now, back to the show. Being in a small, farming community, you can expect that Wesley was able to find an immediate connection with the crowd. And he certainly did. While not the size of a stadium show, Wesley packed in what seemed to be half the town on a chilly, breezy summer night.

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 upcoming 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.

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.

However, most importantly, the band did a fantastic rendition of my kids favorite song, “Hooked Up”. He even dedicated it to them in advance. I can tell you that this made their day. They are STILL talking about it!

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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 a few years ago, 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?

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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.

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, I’m once again going back through the photos and realizing what night it was!

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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!

 

 

Concert Review: “Just Another Day in Paradise” with Phil Vassar

August 12, 2016

I get spoiled sometimes with the amount of concerts I have the opportunity to attend each year. However, most of those shows fall outside of my home state of Oregon. So when I heard Phil Vassar was returning to the state with a show, hosted by 98.7 The Bull, at the Yamhill County Fair, there was no way I was going to miss it.

Credit: News-Press

I’ve seen Vassar a number of times in the past. Starting with the KZLA Country Bash back in 2001 in Irvine, California. This was a concert which had a certain feel to it as it took place just weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I’ve also caught shows at the Rodeo Club in San Jose, and at larger venues as the opening act for Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.

Just two years ago, I saw his performance at the Tillamook County Fair, which turned out to be quite bittersweet when I found out the next morning that my father had passed away while we were at the show. My dad was always a fan so naturally, his service was filled with a number of Vassar’s greatest hits.

So this night was a special one for me which I had been looking for since it was announced that he would be coming to McMinnville. Of course, being in my backyard, I had to bring the kids. All of whom have grown up listening to songs such as “I’m Alright”, “Bye Bye”, “Little Red Rodeo” and more.

Thankfully, all of those hits made the setlist. If they hadn’t, my three year old daughter would have had to have a chat with Vassar after the show (she might be the biggest fan of all of us!). Check out the video below…

 

Vassar has a long list of hit country music songs. This list includes 10 No. 1 singles and 26 Top 40 hits. Amazing, right?

But what I love most about Vassar is that he always plays for the crowd. He always has a good time. While he might have an idea of what songs he’s going to play, he doesn’t always have a set list in place. He uses Twitter for song requests. He talks to the people. In fact, he and the band also have a couple of drinks with the crowd. Nothing wrong with that right?

There aren’t a lot of artists out there that put on a show quite like Phil Vassar. When you go to one of his shows, you know you’re going to get your money’s worth and a whole lot more. On this night, we were treated to a set full of the songs we know. The songs we love. Classic songs like “Carlene”, “Just Another Day in Paradise”, “My Next 30 Years”, “Six-Pack Summer”, “Joe & Rosalita”, “I’ll Take That as a Yes” all filled the evening. We also got the usual cover tunes thrown in including “Stay (Just a Little Bit Longer)”, “500 Miles”, and of course “Piano Man” to close out the night.

I say close out the night, but luckily for my kids, there was one more surprise up my sleeve: a quick meet & greet and photo with their favorite: Phil Vassar. You can tell in the picture below that they were absolutely thrilled. Thanks Phil!!!

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So that’s it! Another concert in the books…and what a show it was! I’ve got to say, if you haven’t checked out Phil Vassar before, what rock have you been hiding under for the past two decades???.

Make sure that you check out a concert the next time he’s in town. You won’t be disappointed. Vassar’s shows are some of the most highly entertaining and energetic in country music today, as they always have been, and with as many hits as he’s written, you’re guaranteed to know just about every lyric to every song he sings all night.

With his first new album in a few years coming out soon (we were treated to a few of his new songs during the show…they’re great!), you should definitely be sure to keep up with Vassar via his website, follow him on Twitter at @philvassar and Facebook for his latest news and concert schedule.

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

 

Artist Spotlight: Michael Beck

May 22, 2016

A few days ago, I was talking about California Grown country music artists. You know, the performers that we get to see here on the West Coast who have yet to be discovered in Nashville. It’s amazing how lucky we are to have such great talent on this side of the Rockies.

I was fortunate enough to catch one recently opening for James Wesley at The District in Gilroy. His name? Michael Beck.

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Beck is a local guy from the Bay Area (who actually graduated from George Fox University just 10 minutes down the road from me here in Oregon). Influenced by many of the greatest country music artists of all time, his style has a familiar feel to it, yet he comes off as both unique and highly entertaining. Backed by an energetic band, known as the Michael Beck Band, every performance is a blast and is also fun for all ages.

Trust me when I say I’d love to take my kids to one of his shows with their love for live, country performances.

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Now, let me repeat myself again for those of you who may have missed it earlier: California grown country artists don’t always get the attention they deserve, but this is an artist that Nashville needs to take notice of…and they need to take notice right away.

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.

At the James Wesley show, he played a number of songs from his CD “Countin’ on Tennessee” (available on iTunes) 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”, “Gone from My Mind“, “Paradice”, “Long Gone” and “The Reason (I Love the Rain)” all have the potential to be hits. Seriously, the EP is THAT good.

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What are you waiting for. Go get it now!

However, 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. Haven’t seen this available online yet (it’s just too new), but in the coming months, if you’re looking for a song that’s destined to be a hit, this is it.

I mentioned that Beck loves to throw in a few covers during his live shows. Check out a few of them below:

Head Over Boots

Cruise

Copperhead Road

Gone Country

Boot Scootin Boogie

Friends in Low Places

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If you want to learn more about this up-and-coming artist, be sure to 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. These guys are amazing!

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Hey…how about a couple shows up here in Oregon?? Would love to introduce the Pacific Northwest to some real, California country music.

So what did I miss? Have you seen Michael Beck live? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

How the 2014 Oregon Ducks Helped Make Me a Better Father

January 13, 2015

I’m not going to lie. This loss stings. It stings a lot. But like all things in life, you can’t let it get you down Ducks fans. Sometimes, there are more important things in life than the outcome of a football game.

My dad passed away on August 11, 2014. Those first few moments after I got the call from my brother to tell me, it felt like the end of the world. After weeks of trying to understand why this happened, and attempting to get my life back to normal, August 30 came around. This marked the beginning of the college football season. Sure, it was a game against a team perceived to be an inferior opponent (South Dakota), but it was the first bit of normalcy I had in my life since my dad’s death. As I sat quietly on the couch watching the game, alone, one by one my three kids (ages 9, 7 and 2) came and joined me.

They asked a lot of questions. “Who’s playing daddy?” “Did they score?” “Who’s winning?” I think that day was the first time I smiled in weeks.

It’s funny. My dad and I had a close father/son relationship, but it was always this sort of “unspoken word” relationship. Two things we had in common: a love of music and sports. Sure, we watched games together as a family, both in-person and on TV (and even on this thing called a radio), but there was never an emotional attachment. I remember when I was little, sitting on my dad’s lap watching a San Francisco Giants or 49ers game, but we just never had those truly bonding moments that you see on TV or in the movies. I figured that it’s probably just a fantasy that doesn’t actually happen in real life, but I have strived to be different with my kids (and I think part of that has been done both consciously and subconsciously). It’s not bad that my dad and I didn’t have this, it’s just something that I look back on and wish could have been a little different.

Which brings us to the National Championship game and the basis of this post. My kids were very excited once they got home from school and they stayed up and watched most the game with me again last night (note that the 7 year old didn’t make it into our Kreuzer “team” picture below).

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They don’t like sports all that much, but they have been to a few games with me. Mostly minor league baseball games. But I formally introduced them to Oregon football this season with that South Dakota game on August 30 and they watched a number of games with me this season. Sure, I’ve been a Ducks fan since 2002 when we first moved to Portland. But watching Oregon football this year was an opportunity for me to teach them the game. To teach them to love a team. And most importantly, to have bonding moments with them. Unfortunately, I think they got spoiled with this great team.

Last night, the two older kids were nearly in tears (like I was…not gonna lie) as the game got out of hand in the 4th quarter. They kept saying “it isn’t fair daddy.” “The Ducks are supposed to win daddy.” “Can’t we do anything.” It gave me the chance to talk about winning and losing. How there are going to be times where you have to understand that you can’t always win. During those final minutes of the game, they disappeared. I wasn’t sure where they went, and to be honest, it made me a little nervous that I couldn’t hear them.

But then they came back with these drawings in an effort to make me feel better about the loss that was about to be made official:

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I couldn’t help but smile and give them the biggest hugs I think they’ve ever had. I realized at that moment that, like I had told them just a few minutes earlier, it wasn’t about winning and losing. It was about the time we spent together over the past six months, culminating with the National Championship game in Dallas. It was about healing from personal loss. Finding that one thing that brought us together.

Even though the Ducks didn’t have the fairly tale ending that we had hoped for, we were all together. We were spending those moments on the couch that I will never, ever forget. Dealing with the hardest time of my life through college football, while it sounds crazy, had not pulled us apart, like it seemed it would in those first two weeks. It had made us stronger. In reality, looking back, the 2014 Oregon Ducks had helped make me a better father.

When I look back at the season, I can’t help but be proud of this team and the coaching staff, just as I’m proud of my own kids. What a story of inspiration. I can’t think of another team that had to battle through so many injuries, and yet found themselves winning a conference championship, a major bowl game (and not just a major bowl game, but the Granddaddy of them all: The Rose Bowl) and played for a national championship. Let’s not also forget that Marcus Mariota brought the first Heisman Trophy to the University. All great accomplishments and much of the credit goes to coach Mark Helfrich.

Sure, people will say the Ducks aren’t tough enough. They make fun of the infinite number of uniform choices (thanks Nike!) But, at the end of the day, they finished this season behind only one team: The Ohio State Buckeyes.

I have to give a lot of credit where credit is due. The Buckeyes came into this game hungry. They, like Oregon, have had to deal with their own fair share of injuries. Can you imagine winning your conference championship game by 59 points, against a good Wisconsin Badgers team, with Cardale Jones, a 3rd string quarterback? Then, to take down the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl, again with a 3rd string quarterback? You get the idea. The Buckeyes won the National Championship with a 3rd string quarterback. A guy with 3 career starts! Phenomenal.

Let’s not forget the play last night by Ezekiel Elliott. Just a sophomore, he ran the ball 36 times for 246 yards with four touchdowns. Yes. four touchdowns in the National Championship game. This was his third straight game with more than 200 yards. He was named Offensive Player of the Game and broke the record for highest rushing total by an FBS player in a championship game. Again, phenomenal.

Finally, there’s Urban Meyer. You must now consider him arguably one of the greatest head coaches in college football history. I have no problem ranking him up there with anyone on the Mount Rushmore of college coaches. What he has done at Ohio State is amazing and I can’t help but think that there could be a dynasty forming in Columbus.

As for the Ducks, I just want to reiterate that this season was not a failure. So much good came out of this year that fans should not hang their heads. I’m not…and you shouldn’t either!

I know that we played hard, through adversity, and we will be back again next year. Yes, we didn’t achieve our end goal of winning a National Championship, but we played our hardest and finished as the second best team in the country. Again, we won the Pac 12. We won the Rose Bowl. Mariota is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Don’t be sad. Be glad that you were there to witness history.

I leave you with a few of my favorite lines from the movie “The Mighty Ducks”. Yes, it’s a hockey movie, but I think that the words ring true for us today, tomorrow and forever as Oregon Ducks fans:

“Have you guys ever seen a flock of ducks flying in perfect formation? It’s beautiful. Pretty awesome the way they all stick together. Ducks never say die. Ever seen a duck fight? No way. Why? Because the other animals are afraid. They know that if they mess with one duck, they gotta deal with the whole flock. I’m proud to be a Duck, and I’d be proud to fly with any one of you. So how about it? Who’s a Duck?”

While I never attended the University of Oregon, I have made many, many friends along the way who did and I consider myself to be a Duck. Like each and every one of them, I’m damn proud to be a Duck (and a father of the three best kids in the whole world)!

Concert Review: Florida Georgia Line “Cruise” Into Eugene, Oregon with Dallas Smith and Colt Ford

December 15, 2013

It’s amazing to see how much can change for a band in just one year. From seeing Florida Georgia Line for the first time in front of a crowd of 200, to a club show at the Rodeo Club in San Jose with 1,000 of my closest friends, to the sold out Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Oregon this past Friday night. What an amazing journey it has been.

As always, the boys put on a fantastic show. Actually, fantastic is an understatement. The entire band put on an incredible performance and one that I won’t soon forget.

Here’s a little taste of the final song of the evening, their signature song of 2013 “Cruise”. You might have heard it once or twice (either by themselves or with Nelly).

If you have the “Here’s to the Good Times” album, then you’ll know about 90% of the songs they played. A few of my favorites, including “Hell Raisin’ Heat of the Summer”, “Country in my Soul” and “Stay” filled the set list as well as fan favorites such as “Get Your Shine On”, “Round Here” and “Stay” and a great cover of Alabama’s “I’m in a Hurry”. Definitely good times for sure! DO NOT MISS this band if they come to your town. They are only getting bigger as the days, weeks and months go by.

On top of Florida Georgia Line, we were treated to two, great opening acts. Canadian Dallas Smith led off and did not disappoint. What a great mix of country and rock. You might know his current single “Tippin’ Point”, which was produced by Joey Moi and written by Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard along with Jaren Johnston. If you haven’t heard it, check it (and him) out. This guy is going places for sure…straight to the top of the charts. He sounds like an evenly split mix of Jason Aldean and Gary Allan. Absolutely loved his live show. Would go to see him as a headline with no doubt. Give him another year or two at most. He’ll be all over the radio. Dare I say, the next Jason Aldean???

Following Smith was a crowd favorite in Colt Ford. Ford brings a mix of country and rap that is second to none. His energy level was high and it was obvious that he was feeding off of a rowdy crows in Eugene. Fan favorites such as “Chicken N Biscuits” and his closing rendition of “Dirt Road Anthem” had the crowd eating out of his hands and I personally loved how he threw some Red Hot Chili Peppers in with “Give It Away”. Great artist! Great performer! Great show! Hope to catch him at the Rodeo Club in San Jose later this week!

That’s a quick recap for you. Heading to California tomorrow where I’ll be catching Steve Holy and Dustin Lynch in Davis, California next Thursday night. Hope to catch you there too!

Just Do It…

November 13, 2013

That’s the caption I came up with for this photo of my daughter. Anyone else have a better idea? 🙂

Makayla

Weddings, Yosemite and More…

October 14, 2013

Well, I’m starting to get used to this traveling back and forth between Oregon and California.

Glad to be here this weekend as it was a fun one with a family wedding at Yosemite. Amazing to see the destruction first hand from the Rim Fire earlier this summer, but the venue, the Evergreen Lodge, was a spectacular site for the wedding (even though the original site for the ceremony was lost in the fire as was most of the surrounding area.

At least 20 miles of road (Highway 120) was charred on our drive in. I can’t imagine the scene when the fire was raging!

Even with the Government Shutdown, we got to see some sites and took some great pictures. No hassles from anyone, which was a good thing.

Anyways, congrats to my cousin Tom and his new bride Adrienne! Welcome to the family!

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