Mandy Barnett w/John Conlee, Terri Clark, Riders In the Sky, Chuck Mead and His Grassy Knoll Boys, Florida Georgia Line, Jean Shepard & Darryl WorleyCountry
Mandy Barnett, a native of Crossville, Tennessee, started singing at five years-old. She has been singing since.
As a teenager, Mandy starred as country music legend Patsy Cline in the stage show “Always . . . Patsy Cline” at the celebrated Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. The performances were sold out nightly and received rave reviews across the country. Mandy, in role as Patsy, appears on the Decca Records cast recording.
Mandy soon signed with Asylum Records where she released her first album as herself, appropriately entitled, “Mandy Barnett.” The album received glowing reviews in major trade publications and magazines, including “Time" magazine, as well as praise from veteran country artists and fans.
In due course, Seymour Stein, who introduced the world to Madonna, Seal, the Barenaked Ladies, and k.d. lang, heard Mandy’s voice and was, he said, “spellbound.” When Stein launched Sire Records within Warner Music Group, Mandy was the first artist he signed. Mandy’s Sire Records project paired her with the undisputed pioneer of the Nashville Sound, producer Owen Bradley. The album that they made together, “I’ve Got A Right To Cry,” would be his final contribution to the community who knew him through his work with legends Ernest Tubb, Brenda Lee, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, and Kitty Wells. Owen passed away four songs into the project, but not before leaving his unmistakable mark on the album. His brother and longtime partner, Harold Bradley, inherited the delicate task of finishing the album with Mandy. A legal pad filled with Owen’s handwritten notes for each song guided the two through the rest of the sessions, and what was to be Owen’s farewell to the world was poised to propel Mandy and her remarkable vocal talent once again into the national limelight.
“I’ve Got A Right To Cry” was a huge critical success. “Rolling Stone” magazine named it the top country album of 1999. Other stellar reviews appeared in “People,” “Newsweek,” “Interview,” and multiple national newspapers. Mandy appeared on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” as a result of her acclaim.
In addition to her own albums, Mandy has been featured on movie soundtracks, including “A Walk On the Moon,” “Traveller,” “Space Cowboys,” “Election,” “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” and “Crazy.” Mandy also sang on the SpongeBob SquarePants album “The Best Day Ever,” sharing the spotlight with the likes of Brian Wilson, Tommy Ramone, Flaco Jimenez, and NRBQ.
Mandy tours regularly and is a frequent guest on the Grand Ole Opry. She reprised her role as “Patsy Cline” in the acclaimed production “Always . . . Patsy Cline” at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee during 2009, in honor of the 15th anniversary of the celebrated venue’s extensive renovations and re-opening. Back by popular demand, Mandy again hit the Ryman stage in “Always . . . Patsy Cline” in June and July 2011.
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Rounder Records teamed up for the 2010 exclusive Cracker Barrel store release of Mandy’s Christmas album “Winter Wonderland,” which distinguished music historian and critic Robert K. Oermann called “an instant classic.” Among other publications praising “Winter Wonderland,” the “L.A. Times” lauded Mandy’s “pipes of steel,” “big” voice and “glorious echo” harkening back to the likes of all-time great female singers like Cline and timeless sounds. “All Music” proclaimed “Winter Wonderland” as “timeless,” as Mandy captures the nostalgic holiday mood “perfectly and wonderfully.” Rounder re-released “Winter Wonderland” widely for holiday season 2011.
Mandy’s latest album “Sweet Dreams,” released in 2011 on the Opry Music label, features Mandy’s renditions of songs previously recorded by Patsy Cline. Along with Cline hits like “Crazy,” “I Fall To Pieces,” “Faded Love,” and the album title track, Mandy offers stunning versions of Irving Berlin’s pop standard “Always” and the Mel Tillis-penned “Strange.” Reviewing “Sweet Dreams,” DigitalRodeo.com applauded Mandy’s talents as “one of the most beautiful ’classic country’ female voices of all time. She has total control of her voice and sings effortlessly. Barnett is a true master of her craft.” “Country Weekly” magazine affirmed this view, noting how Mandy embodies “the emotional torch-and-twang style of Patsy Cline with authority” with her captivating “effortless and emotional performances.”
Fort Worth TX | Country
One of the most respected vocalists to emerge during the urban cowboy era, John Conlee was known for his superb taste in material and his distinctively melancholy voice. Conlee was born and raised on a tobacco farm in Versailles, KY, in 1946, and took up the guitar as a child, performing on local radio at age ten. He went on to sing with the town barbershop chorus, but didn't initially pursue music as a career, instead becoming a licensed mortician. He also worked as a disc jockey at numerous area radio stations, and made important industry connections via that area when he moved to Nashville in 1971. Five years later, Conlee's demo tape got him a contract with ABC. He released a few singles, but didn't find acceptance until 1978's "Rose Colored Glasses," a song he'd co-written with a newsman at his radio station, rocketed into the country Top Five. Conlee spent the next decade or so scoring hit after hit, nearly all of them helmed by producer Bud Logan. He had two number ones in 1979 alone -- "Lady Lay Down" and "Backside of Thirty" -- and four number two hits through 1981, which included "Before My Time," "Friday Night Blues," "She Can't Say That Anymore," and "Miss Emily's Picture." Conlee returned to the top of the charts three times over 1983-1984 with "Common Man," "I'm Only in It for the Love," and "In My Eyes," and had his last number one in 1986 with "Got My Heart Set on You." All told, Conlee made the Top Ten 19 times through 1987, when he moved from MCA to Columbia and reached the Top Five with "Domestic Life." Never much for touring, Conlee subsequently curtailed his recording activities as well, instead devoting his time to charity work (often on behalf of American farmers), raising his family, and running his own farm outside Nashville.
Where to start with Terri Clark’s Classic?
You might begin in 2004, the year Terri joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry, tapping into the rich traditions of country music’s most famous stage.
There’s always 1995, the year Terri launched her career with “Better Things to Do,” a contemporary twist on the no-nonsense approach of Kitty Wells’ “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” and pretty much the entire Loretta Lynn catalog.
Or maybe you go all the way back to 1987, when Terri’s mother and her best friend packed the aspiring singer and her belongings into a Honda Civic and drove from Canada to Nashville, leaving her to play for tips at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, a legendary Lower Broad honky-tonk.
The deeper you delve into Classic, the deeper you find its roots go.
The story really starts two generations back, with Clark’s maternal grandparents, who raised five kids while playing country music in Montreal nightclubs with names like The Kit Kat and The Western Stop.
“My grandmother was nicknamed The Canadian Kitty Wells; that’s what they called her around Montreal,” Terri says. “They couldn’t go to Nashville and take a bigger stab at it – with five kids that just wasn’t going to happen. So I made the pioneer trip to Tennessee.
The songs of Classic span four decades of timeless country music, starting with the tunes young Terri learned via impromptu living-room parties her grandparents often hosted – standards like “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” or “I’m Movin’ On” by ’The Singing Ranger’ Hank Snow, the first Canadian member of the Grand Ole Opry. Terri’s grandfather would break out his fiddle, her grandmother would start singing; soon it seemed like the entire neighbourhood would join in.
And the music didn’t stop when the party was over.
“My mom would tell me stories about how she would hear my grandmother walking around the house, vacuuming and cleaning, singing Loretta Lynn and Kitty Wells,” Terri says.
Years ago, a family friend gave Terri an LP that had her grandmother singing “This White Circle on My Finger,” one of the nearly three dozen Top 10 hits Wells released after “Honky Tonk Angels” blew the barroom doors wide open for women who yearned to sing country music.
That recording begins Classic. Then pedal-steel player Paul Franklin works some modulation magic, and Terri kicks her own version of “Honky Tonk Angels” into high gear.
From there, Classic conveys a history of country music viewed from a personal perspective. “I tried really hard to pick at least a song or two from every decade from the ’50s to the ’80s,” Terri says.
In doing so, she reveals the starting point for every part of the Terri Clark sound: the hardcore honky-tonk of Merle Haggard; the California country-rock of Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris; tough-minded women like Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline; Canadian stars from Hank Snow to Neil Young.
Classic bears the stamp of influences Tanya Tucker and Reba McEntire, who each join Terri for duet versions of their hits. Friends Jann Arden, Dierks Bentley and Dean Brody sing with her, as well.
Terri grew up singing most of these songs and playing many of them during her years at Tootsie’s, which shares an alley with the artists’ entrance to the Ryman Auditorium, one of the homes of the Grand Ole Opry. During the ’50s and ’60s, the historic Nashville nightspot, originally known as Mom’s, was a regular hang for greats like Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. Loretta Lynn’s husband used to drink there when Lynn played the Opry. Terri, of course, played Tootsie’s many years later, and only in the afternoons – her mother forbid the young singer from venturing there after dark.
“It was a war zone down there at that time, nothing but peep shows and pawn shops and adult theatres,” Terri recalls. “And there was Tootsie’s and the Ernest Tubb Record Shop in the middle of it all.”
Like many of her heroes whom she covers on Classic – Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Emmylou Harris among them – Terri eventually became a member of the Grand Ole Opry – the first and only Canadian female to date. That long-running, live radio show has an important place in the album.
“The Opry is a big part of this,” Terri says. “I wanted to be a member of the Opry because of this music. Every time we step on that stage, we’re playing tribute to everybody that came before us.”
Two of Terri’s Classic duet partners are fellow Opry stars. Dierks Bentley joins her for a remake of the George Jones and Tammy Wynette tale of pawnshop romance, “Golden Ring.” Reba McEntire harmonizes with her on “How Blue,” originally a hit from McEntire’s 1984 My Kind Of Country album, itself a collection of mostly covers.
“The guests on the album are people who have influenced me or people I’m a fan of, as artists,” says Terri, who was once a card-carrying member of the Reba McEntire Fan Club. Literally – she still has the card. Terri also still has a T-shirt her mother ordered from the fan club and gave her for Christmas one year.
“I took it into the studio the day Reba came into sing and said, ’Look what I found,’” she says.
McEntire wasn’t the first guest to sign on for Classic, though. That honour went to Tanya Tucker, who reprised her 1972 smash “Delta Dawn.” “Delta Dawn,” Terri says, was the second song she ever learned on the guitar (the first being “The Long Black Veil,” a 1959 hit for Lefty Frizzell that quickly became a folk standard). “I remember picking up the guitar and learning the chords and getting blisters on my fingers. I didn’t have calluses yet, because I only knew three chords.”
Tucker’s hit gains an additional level of empathy for the haunted Dawn in this new version, and a graceful fiddle-and-accordion tag sounds like a tender farewell to Dawn as she departs for that mansion in the sky.
On that track, and throughout Classic, Terri makes great use of some of Nashville’s top session musicians. Several of them have recorded with her throughout her career, playing on hits like “Better Things to Do,” “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” and “I Wanna Do It All.” This time, Terri let them loose in the studio.
“They had fun,” she says. “And they played with reckless abandon – it’s not all polished and perfect. It sounds like they had a great time. That’s what always spoke the loudest about the records I’ve loved: It’s not about perfection, it’s about feeling an energy.”
That energy runs all the way through Classic, the energy of a contemporary artist having a lively discussion with the music that made her who she is. The spirit of Kitty Wells and Merle Haggard and Glen Campbell and Patsy Cline comes through loud and clear in the songs of Classic. At the same time, it sounds like a Terri Clark record.
“These are the songs that led to ’Better Things to Do’ and to everything else that followed in my career,” Terri says. “They shaped who I became as an artist, from the very beginning.”
Classic – November 13, 2012
Riders In The Sky
Riders In The Sky are truly exceptional.
By definition, empirical data, and critical acclaim, they stand "hats & shoulders" above the rest of the purveyors of C & W - "Comedy & Western!"
For more than thirty years Riders In The Sky have been keepers of the flame passed on by the Sons of the Pioneers, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, reviving and revitalizing the genre. And while remaining true to the integrity of Western music, they have themselves become modern-day icons by branding the genre with their own legendary wacky humor and way-out Western wit, and all along encouraging buckaroos and buckarettes to live life "The Cowboy Way!"
Riders In The Sky are exceptional not just in the sense that their music is of superlative standards (they are the ONLY exclusively Western artist to have won a Grammy, and Riders have won two), but by the fact that their accomplishments are an exception to the rule as well. That Riders In The Sky was even formed is a feat of improbable likelihood. What are the odds that a theoretical plasma physicist, a wildlife manager - galvanizer - Life Scout, an English major - shot putter - Bluegrass Boy, and a Polka Hall of Fame member would collectively become "America's Favorite Cowboys?" And even more unlikely is that 30-plus years later, the original members are still "bringing good beef to hungry people" while putting up Ripken-like numbers! The Rolling Stones only made it a few years before replacing Brian Jones; the Sons of the Pioneers constantly changed personnel; even the Ringo-era Beatles only lasted 8 years. (Perhaps Too Slim, as a sophomore writer for the University of Michigan Daily, had an ulterior motive in 1969 by propagating the rumor that Paul McCartney was dead! It's true... go ahead and Google "Paul is dead rumor"...) But the key to keeping the same founding members intact for three decades on the road is more easily explained: "Separate hotel rooms," cracks Ranger Doug!
Riders In The Sky's first official public performance was Nov. 11, 1977, at the erstwhile Nashville nightspot "Phranks & Steins." Taking the stage that night for a crowd of eight or nine (counting Herr Harry behind the bar) were Ranger Doug (Idol of American Youth) on arch-top guitar and baritone vocals, and Too Slim (A Man Aging Like Fine Cheese) on bunkhouse bass, face, and tenor vocals. A chain saw may have been in the mix somewhere that night, but was soon retired. Replacing the chain saw was Woody Paul (King of the Cowboy Fiddlers) on fiddle, tenor vocals and rope tricks, and the launch was successful! They subsequently added the "Stomach Steinway" stylings of Joey the Cowpolka King on accordion and baritone vocals, much to the delight of 'Polkaholics' everywhere.
As a classic cowboy quartet, the trail has led them to heights they could have never predicted. Riders have chalked up over 6100 concert appearances in all 50 states and 10 countries, appearing in venues everywhere from the Nashville National Guard Armory to Carnegie Hall, and from county fairs to the Hollywood Bowl. Their cowboy charisma and comedic flair made them naturals for TV, and landed them their own weekly show on TNN, as well as a Saturday morning series on CBS. They have been guests on countless TV specials, documentaries and variety shows, appearing with everyone from Barney to Penn & Teller. And their animated likenesses have shared the screen with Daffy Duck on the Cartoon Network, and the Disney Channel's Stanley. If you consider their compositional credits, one might call them "Writers In The Sky!" In addition to penning award winning songs for their own albums, they wrote the score for Pixar Animation's 2002 Academy Award-winning short "For the Birds." They composed the theme song for the internet cartoon show "Thomas Timberwolf" by renowned Bugs Bunny creator Chuck Jones. But the animated character that history will most certainly link to Riders In The Sky is the loveable cowboy Woody, as Riders performed "Woody's Round Up" in "Toy Story 2," with the album of the same name garnering Riders their first Grammy Award in 2001 for "Best Musical Album for Children." Two years later, Riders roped their second Grammy in the same category, for "Monsters Inc. - Scream Factory Favorites," the companion CD to Pixar's award winning movie.
Equally as exceptional, but of greater significance, is that in 1982, Riders In The Sky became the first, and to date only, exclusively Western music artist to join the Grand Ol' Opry, the longest running radio show in history, and thus began a love affair with radio as well. In 1988, they recorded comedy skits for the album "Riders Radio Theatre" and launched the long-running international weekly radio show of the same name on public radio. And keeping pace with the ever-changing technological landscape, in 2006 "Ranger Doug's Classic Cowboy Corral" debuted on XM Satellite Radio, still heard weekly on SiriusXM Channel 56.
Exceptional artists also appeal to a diverse and broad-based cross section of their adoring public. Riders In The Sky's music and comedy delights cowboys and cowgirls of all ages, and from all walks of life. Riders are equally at ease amusing a theatre full of children as they are enthralling a symphony audience accompanied by 50 or 60 classically trained instrumentalists, or even an NCO club full of servicemen during a USO Tour. Riders have performed at the White House for both Democratic and Republican administrations, and at Major League Baseball's winter meetings for both American and National Leagues (although with an admitted bias for the Detroit Tigers). With their ability to persuade cowpokes on both sides of the fence to set aside their differences for a brief escape from day-to-day tribulations, is it any wonder that Riders have a virtual home called "Harmony Ranch?"
Ultimately, exceptional careers do not go unnoticed, and throughout theirs, Riders In The Sky have been honored regularly. In addition to being inducted into the Grand Ol' Opry, Riders are in the Western Music Association's Hall of Fame, the Country Music Foundation's Walkway of Stars, and the Walk of Western Stars (in Newhall, CA near Melody Ranch Studios) along with Gene, Roy, John Wayne and other cowboy legends. No less important than their two Grammies, Riders have been the Western Music Associaton's "Entertainers Of the Year" seven times, and won "Traditional Group of the Year" and "Traditional Album of the Year" multiple times. The Academy of Western Artists has named them "Western Music Group of the Year" twice in 5 years, and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum has bestowed Riders with their Wrangler Award statuette three times. It comes as no surprise then that Billboard magazine's Jim Bessman counts them as one of "the most historically significant acts in the history of American music."
Yes, it would be "The Easy Way" to call it a career after 30-plus years, but it wouldn't be..."The Cowboy Way!" And so, the never-ending trail drive continues. The ponies are rested and watered, and America's Favorite Cowboys are ready to saddle up and ride, bringing good beef to hungry people wherever they may be. Yes, Riders In The Sky are truly an exception to the rule.
Chuck Mead and His Grassy Knoll Boys
After leading several popular '80s cult bands in and around his hometown of Lawrence, Kansas, Chuck Mead landed on Nashville's Lower Broadway where he co-founded the famed '90s Alternative Country quintet BR549. The band's seven albums, three Grammy nominations and the Country Music Association Award for Best Overseas Touring Act would build an indelible bridge between authentic American Roots music and millions of fans worldwide. With BR on hiatus, Chuck formed The Hillbilly All-Stars featuring members of The Mavericks, co-produced popular tribute albums to Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, guest-lectured at Vanderbilt University, and became a staff writer at one of Nashville's top song publishers. In 2009, he released his acclaimed solo debut album, Journeyman's Wager, and toured clubs, concert halls and international Rock, Country and Rockabilly festivals with his band The Grassy Knoll Boys.
As Music Director for the Broadway smash Million Dollar Quartet, Chuck began crafting the music arrangements during the show's original Daytona and Seattle workshop productions, supervised the musical performances for its 2008 Chicago opening, created new music material for the show's Tony-winning Broadway run, produced the original cast album, and oversaw the music for its smash 2011 premiere at London's Noel Coward Theatre.
Chuck's new album, Back At The Quonset Hut, was recorded at Nashville's legendary Quonset Hut Studio where Patsy Cline, George Jones, Merle Haggard Roger Miller, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash and more cut some of country's greatest tracks. Produced by original BR549 producer Mike Janas and with the participation of students from Belmont University's College of Entertainment and Music Business, the album of classic covers features surviving members of Music Row's original 'A Team' studio musicians as well as guest appearances by Old Crow Medicine Show, Elizabeth Cook, Jamie Johnson and Bobby Bare. "It's been incredibly liberating to do all these things I've never done before," Chuck says. "I've already gone from the bars of Lower Broadway in Nashville to the Broadway stage, and the upcoming album is one of the most unique and rewarding projects I've ever been a part of. I'm looking forward to where it all brings me next."
Florida Georgia Line
The full-throttle excitement that Florida Georgia Line has carried to packed houses throughout the Southeast is now going nationwide.The duo—Monroe, Georgia’s Tyler Hubbard and Ormond Beach, Florida’s Brian Kelley—have turned their highly engaging brand of showmanship into opening slots for artists like Blake Shelton, Jake Owen, Brantley Gilbert and Colt Ford, and into a coveted spot on the 2012 Country Throwdown Tour with the likes of Gary Allan, Rodney Atkins, and Justin Moore.Now they have captured all the fire and energy of that stage show in a new single, “Cruise,” an infectious anthem to love in its first magic moments. The first offering from their upcoming EP, it brings their trademark harmonies and rocking sound to bear on a tale of youthful attraction, music and Georgia back roads. Produced by Joey Moi, whose credits range from Jake Owen to Nickelback, “Cruise” is sure to thrill their old and new fans alike.Florida Georgia Line has combined electrifying, hard-driving rock with honest, expressive lyrics into one of the most exciting sounds in all of country music. They’ve come a long way since their days as students at Nashville’s Belmont University, where they played local clubs and wrote songs between classes. They drew on an eclectic mix of influences, from country to hip-hop, with one common element: “All of our idols create great music that’s real and that everyone can relate to,” says Brian. “That’s the same kind of music we want to make.”
It’s music they enjoy making as much as their fans enjoy hearing—and they are appreciative for the rapidly growing fan base supporting them. “It’s such a blessing that we get to do this for a living,” says Tyler.
To be called a legend in the entertainment industry, one must first be a pioneer and then proceed to accomplish many more "firsts". JEAN SHEPARD has done that and much more. A sample listing of some of her "firsts" includes: *Starring in the 1st network country music show, THE OZARK JUBILEE. The 1st female in country music to sell a million records. The 1st country music female vocalist to overdub her voice on records. The 1st country music female to make a color TV commercial. The 1st female country singer to be a member of the GRAND OLE OPRY for 47 years.
Darryl Wade Worley was born October 31, 1964 in Memphis, Tennessee to Tommy and Bonnie Worley. His family moved to Pyburn, Tennessee when he was young and he was raised there. His father was a Methodist preacher and his mother sang in the church choir. Worley attended the University of North Alabama and earned a degree in biology and chemistry. He worked in the chemical industry prior to pursuing country music, and wrote for FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. One of his first cuts as a songwriter was a track on Archer/Park's 1994 debut album.