Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day Playlist

Some times you can't find the right words for a situation, but music can tell that story for you. The weekend is over and it's officially the last Monday in May. The one day of the year set aside to pay homage to and honor the fallen members of our armed forces. While I hope you enjoyed your weekends, the BBQs, and your families, take a moment to thank those who died to help make those things possible. Below is a list of songs that I encourage you to listen to as you reflect on the fact Freedom isn't Free  and remember the ones who died to make it all possible.

James Otto "Soldiers and Jesus"

Trace Adkins "Arlington"

Big & Rich "8th of November"

Billy Ray Cyrus "Some Gave All"

Radney Foster "Angel Flight"

Tim Mcgraw "If You're Reading This"

George Jones "50,000 Names"

Lee Greenwood "God Bless the U.S.A."

Statler Brothers "More Than a Name on a Wall"

Interstate 10 "I'm Gonna Miss You"

Keith Urban "For You"

Johnny Cash "Ragged Old Flag"

Alan Jackson "Where Were You"

Wade Davis "Last Monday in May"

Toby Keith "American Soldier"

The above songs are a combination of old classics and new favorites. The theme remains the same though. There is an incredible group of men and women out there who have literally given it all for this great country, you, and me. Don't forget to honor them today, on their day, the last Monday in May, Memorial Day.

Because I know some people prefer Spotify to YouTube, I also created a Spotify playlist with the above songs. The only difference is on the Spotify list it is Joey & Rory singing "50,000 Names" instead of George Jones as his version is not available. 

Spotify Memorial Day Playlist:

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Granger Smith W/Lindsay Ell - Tulsa, OK

In 2015, Granger Smith broke onto the country radio scene with his number one hit song "Backroad Song" and the already huge YeeYee Nation exploded. May 14th, Smith came back to the Historic Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa, Ok and he had the talented Lindsay Ell opening the show for him.

Before the show, I had the pleasure of meeting Granger Smith. In a move I have never seen before, the meet and greet took place on Smith's tour bus. It eliminated the feel of an assembly line and set the tone for a more personal meet and greet. Talking with Smith, right away, I could tell he was genuinely a good person and not just because of his response to my unfortunate entrance. I’ll just say nothing loosens up a nervous fan quite like falling on their face. After the meet and greet, it was time to head back inside to hear Lindsay Ell.

Lindsay Ell - Cain's Ballroom

This was my third time seeing Ell perform and she never ceases to impress. She set the tone perfectly by opening with her single "By The Way." A fun, upbeat tune about being "good at getting over goodbye." She also played us a song she wrote for a friend called "Not Another Me," “Eyes Off You," "What Does You Good," and "Criminal." A great example of Ell's talent and skills is when she uses her loop machine before she starts “Criminal” to add a second guitar and some beat boxing to it. The song is also mixed with Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood," Ed Sheeran's "Think Out Loud," and John Mayer's "Say What You Need To Say." Among the notable covers Ell played was the classic Deana Carter hit "Strawberry Wine." She had the crowd pretty wound-up for Granger Smith.

Granger Smith - Photo Credit: S.Sanders

Granger Smith took the stage to a song from his new album Remington called "Tonight." A song all about making the most of an entire night. Some of the other songs from Smith's first major-label album that were performed was "Country Boy Love," "Echo," "Likin' Love Songs," "City Boy Stuck," "Blue Collar Dollars," "Tailgate Town," and of course the title track "Remington." A song that is about being as dependable as a Remington shotgun and one of my favorites. At one point in the show Smith slowed it down a bit. He spoke straight to our hearts with the powerful song he wrote about his grandpa titled "5 More Minutes" and the George Straight song "Tell Me Something Bad About Tulsa.” The other covers we were treated to included George Strait's "Run" and Garth Brooks' "Ain't Goin’ Down." Of course the crowd sang along to every word of both hit songs.

Smith - Photo Credit: S.Sanders

That was not all though. We also got to hear some older songs, from his album Dirt Road Driveway, that included "Miles And Mud Tires," "If Money Didn't Matter," "Bury Me In Blue Jeans," "We Do It In A field," "Silverado Bench Seat," and "19 Forever." There were several amazing moments throughout the show, but there are two that definitely deserve mentioning. Before singing his newest single, "If The Boot Fits," Smith told the crowd if they were wearing boots to slip one of and hold it up in the air. It's hard to accurately describe the energy of the crowd during that song or the sheer amount of boots in the air. So check out the clip below that Smith posted the day after the concert.

Then, during a song, I noticed Smith discover something I had already seen. In front of me, by the side stage, was an adorable little boy, four or five years old, who was dressed just like Earl Dibbles, Jr. While singing Smith ventured over to grab a guitar pick, came back, and leaned out into the crowd to give it straight to the little boy. The last song before Earl Dibbles, Jr.'s performance was "Backroad Song" and the volume change in the already vocal crowd was staggering. While Granger Smith was back stage "becoming" Earl Dibbles, Jr., the band kept playing. I didn't mind watching this band shine earlier in the show during their mini jam session with the phenomenally skilled Lindsay Ell and I was not complaining this time either. Granger Smith is backed by a stunning band made up of Jonathon Wisinksi on bass, Dusty Saxton killing it on drums, the talented Todd Howard on electric guitar and banjo, and last but, not least the second electric guitarist John Marlin.

Earl Dibbles Jr. - Photo Credit: S.Sanders

I'll be honest. Because of how Smith's alter ego was initially explained to me, I was a bit worried about the Earl Dibbles, Jr. part of the show. However, he just reminded me of half the men I grew up around! "Country Boy Love" and "Merica" were the songs Earl Dibbles, Jr. performed to close out the show. Granger Smith and his alter ego both put on a one of a kind, highly energetic show, and it's one I'd see again. If you get the chance definitely check out Granger Smith and Lindsay Ell. You can catch up with both artists on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even Snapchat.

Monday, May 16, 2016

New Face Showcase ~ Jake FM

A few of the most exciting new faces in country music just got together for an amazing showcase in Norman, Oklahoma. It was all thanks to local country station Jake FM and their annual New Face Showcase. On May 12th, the Riverwind Casino played host to the free event. This year the spotlight was on Ryan Kinder, High Valley, Lindsay Ell, William Michael Morgan, and Chris Lane. The set up for this multi artist acoustic show was a bit different then most. Because the artists were not all on the stage at the same time. Ryan Kinder was the first out to perform.

Ryan Kinder, Photo Creedit @Little_Bridgie

Kinder had his bassist and cajon player with him and it was fun to watch them interacting with each other and the crowd. I hadn't seen Kinder perform in over a year. So it was a serious treat to discover we would be getting longer sets from each artists than expected. Kinder played us several songs which included a beautiful ballad titled "Still Believe In Crazy Love," a song about hoping for a second chance titled "Kiss Me When I'm Down," and his single "Tonight." Kinder has an album available on iTunes and Spotify called Deconstructed Studio Sessions. The only duo of the night, High Valley, took the stage next. 

High Valley, Photo Credit @Little_Bridgie

High Valley was also accompanied by their bassist and cajon player, but they had a banjo\dobro player as well. Among the crowd pleasing songs the duo played was their single "Make You Mine," a sweet song called "She's With Me," and perhaps the most stunning cover of "I'll fly Away" I have ever heard. It was truly amazing to hear the entire crowd singing along with them word for word. In most duos there is a predominate singer and the other provides back up vocals. That is not the case with this Canadian duo and their vocals blended beautifully. You can download or stream the duo's music, including their newest single, on any music platform. The ever talented Lindsay Ell was out next.

Lindsay Ell

Ell was the first artist of the night to take the stage solo and she owned it. At times she would even record her own guitar playing and beat boxing to play along with her during a song. Ell started her set with her upbeat, catchy single "By The Way." She kept the great time going with more of her original songs including "Criminal" and "Eyes Off Of You," as well as a few covers. On top of fantastic vocals, Lindsay Ell is amazing on the guitar, both electric and acoustic. You can download or stream her single "BTW" on music platforms like iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify. William Michael Morgan took the stage next.

William Michael Morgan

Like Lindsay Ell, Morgan was alone on the stage. However, it did not make a difference to the crowd.  They absolutely loved his traditional sound. A sound that is currently earning him a lot of praise. He opened his set with a cover of one of my favorite Mark Chesnut songs, "It's A Little too Late." Morgan currently has an EP out right now and he played several songs from it including his current single "I Met A Girl," and a song about an old fashion kind of love called "Vinyl." You can download or stream Morgan's self-titled EP from all music platforms including iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify. The last artist of the night to perform was Chris Lane. 

Chris Lane

Lane was accompanied by two guitarist (one who played a cajon at the same time) and a banjo player when he took the stage. Lane played several songs from his EP Fix including the title track, "Her Own Kind Of Beautiful," and "Saturday Night." The covers Lane performed were a balanced combination of classic country hits and some crowd moving boy band hits. Lane was all over the stage performing and interacting with the crowd. Fix is available to stream or download from all music platforms including iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify.

While each of these artists may be "new faces," they definitely have what it takes to be around for a long time. William Michael Morgan didn't even let breaking a guitar string mid song slow him down! It was clear looking around the venue that night, there is definitely a growing fan base for each of these up and comers.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Who is Cole Taylor?

Country music is now home to another extremely talented southern Georgian.

In the world of music, country included, there are several different sub groups like musicians, artists, producers, and song\writers. I have found it advantageous to follow each. While researching a showcase of songwriters, I came across Cole Taylor and was immediately intrigued when I saw he pinned "Look At My Truck," one of my favorite Chase Rice songs. He actually started writing songs at the early age of 14! Just nine months after moving to Nashville in November 2013, Taylor landed a publishing deal with Universal Music Publishing Nashville. This Cuthbert, GA native is stunningly talented. In Taylor's bio he states, "I write for my fans and try to touch them with the songs, because some people don't know how to say what they want to say."

Cole Taylor - "Drop  Top"

Taylor is building up some impressive song writing credits in Music City including the number one hits "Sippin' On Fire" by Florida Georgia Line and "Home Alone Tonight" by Luke Bryan and Karen Fairchild. If you want to hear more of this talented writer's work be sure to pick up a copy of Cole Swindell's sophomore album You Should Be Here. Because "Making My Way To You" and "Stay Downtown" are both pinned by this talented artist. Cole Taylor does not just produce magic with a pen and paper though. He also has one amazing voice! He has two phenomenal EPs out right now that are definitely worth a listen. The first EP, released in 2015, is self-titled and has five tracks on it. Taylor's second EP, Step 2, was released February of this year and has six tracks on it.

Cole Taylor - "8 x 10"

You can follow Cole Taylor on Facebook, Twitter (@coletaylorlive), and Instagram. Be sure to watch the above videos and if you like what you hear, Taylor's EPs are available for download or steaming on most music platforms.