A Benefit for The Alex LeVasseur Fund
Jeffrey LeVasseur (born August 27, 1961 in Burbank, California) is an American country music singer and songwriter, more commonly known by the name Jeffrey Steele. Along with recording his own material, Steele has become a prolific Nashville songwriter, having co-written more than sixty hit songs for such artists as Montgomery Gentry, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, LeAnn Rimes, Rascal Flatts, Billy Ray Cyrus, and others.
Perryville MO | Country
A fortunate few come to Nashville and find a home in the city's historic honky-tonk district. Then there are those incredibly rare talents who manage to set it on fire. Chris Janson is one of the latter.
Chris came to Nashville at 18 and pleaded with the doorman at the legendary Tootsie's Orchid Lounge for the chance to sing one song with the house band. Not long after he'd finished "Folsom Prison Blues," the bar's owners offered him a job.
Virtually overnight, Chris became the talk of the Nashville music scene. Crowds packed Tootsie’s to experience this Missouri-born musician, who could own an audience the way just a handful of his idols, a compelling and charismatic group of country and rock greats that range from Waylon to the Ramones, could do. For the next year he played four shows a day.
Chris began performing at the age of 11, although he didn't choose music as a career path until the summer after high school. He'd earned a scholarship to attend college to study veterinary medicine, but decided to try Nashville instead. With his parents' blessing, he took off with a few hundred dollars and quickly landed the Tootsie's gig.
His audience quickly began to include celebrities. Director Jonathan Demme saw Chris and offered him a small part in the Neil Young concert film Heart of God. Young, Rob Reiner, members of Guns N' Roses and many others came by to watch him perform. On one memorable night that looked like a convention of Music Row executives, he was offered publishing, booking, and management deals. Chris has toured Europe with the Critically acclaimed Moonshine Session's band....and the US with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hank Williams, Jr, Sugarland, Jamey Johnson, Shooter Jennings, and James Otto.. He has shared the stage singing and playing with Hank Jr, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Velvet Revolver, James Otto, Neil Young, and the list goes on and on......
He is most impressive on stage, bringing an array of strengths into the spotlight. He is an accomplished singer/songwriter, a dynamic multi-instrumentalist, a compelling vocalist, and a dynamic entertainer. The music, while drawing on a range of influences, is nonetheless solid country and unmistakably Chris Janson.
As of 2012, Chris is newly signed to the Bigger Picture Group label, sharing the roster with Zac Brown, Craig Campbell, among others.
The Shuggah Pies
We’re The Shuggah Pies! Us three girl’s have been singing together for as long as we can remember, it’s the best feeling being on stage and looking over to see your sister’s right beside you. We grew up in Florissant, MO a suburb of St. Louis. That’s still where most of our family lives, but now we call Nashville home. Nashville is amazing.
Music moves us. We have always been surrounded by music. Our style is influenced by a combination of the classic rock our dad played and the country we grew up with. Some shows you’ll catch us covering The Eagles or even Guns n Roses. It’s fun putting our own spin on songs we love, but more than anything we love creating our own music. Our lives, our stories, the good the bad, coming alive in a song. How cool is that!
We believe in family. Our family has fostered and encouraged our love of music from day one. Whether good or bad, family is always there and we come from a pretty big one. We love the holidays when we all are packed into our grandma’s house laughing and celebrating together. Courtney is the middle child in our family and Amy and Angela are twins, Amy’s one minute older in case you were wondering.
When we’re not on the stage or in the studio, two of our favorite places, you can probably find Courtney in the kitchen baking something amazing! Or painting her nails, she has a pretty extensive color collection. Amy might be curled up on the couch watching the history channel or an old movie. And Ang is probably sipping a pumpkin spice latte, shopping for shoes to add to her collection. Or maybe we’re all just hanging out quoting lines from Forrest Gump or another one of our favorite movies.
We all have a major sweet tooth, which is what inspired our name. Open up anyone one of our purses and you’re guaranteed to find a little shuggah inside.
We put so much time and love into our music and we are so excited to share it with all of you. Without our incredible fans none of this would be possible. We love playing for you and meeting you and we love hearing you can connect with our music. That means the world to us!
The Shuggah Pies
Billy Ray Cyrus
William "Billy" Ray Cyrus (born August 25, 1961) is an American country music singer, songwriter, actor and philanthropist, who has achieved great success worldwide. Having released twelve studio albums and forty-four singles since 1992, he is best known for his Number One single "Achy Breaky Heart", which became the first single ever to achieve triple Platinum status in Australia. It was also the best-selling single in the same country in 1992. Thanks to the video of this hit, the linedance catapulted into the mainstream, becoming a worldwide craze. Cyrus, a multi-platinum selling recording artist, has scored a total of eight top-ten singles on the Billboard Country Songs chart. His most successful album to date is the debut of Some Gave All, which has been certified 9× Multi-Platinum in the United States and is the longest time spent by a debut artist at Number One on the Billboard 200 (17 consecutive weeks) and most consecutive chart-topping weeks in the SoundScan era.
The LoCash Cowboys' time has come.
Finally, the promise shown in their phenomenal live shows comes to fruition on their first powerhouse indie album, LoCash Cowboys. What else would you expect from the duo that co-wrote Keith Urban's number one "You Gonna Fly," and "Truck Yeah," a smash for Tim McGraw?
"As much as I'd like to call this Fifty Shades of LoCash, the Album," jokes Chris Lucas, cowboy-hat-wearing half of the team, "it's true. We've captured everything LoCash is about on this album. It's all killer, no filler. With our label, Average Joes Entertainment, it's the right fit at the right time."
So much so that acclaimed Nashville hit maker Jeffrey Steele ("What Hurts The Most," "My Town") came on board to produce and co-write a number of the tracks. Says the songwriting and performing duo, "He taught us everything about songwriting. He's our mentor and our big brother." In fact, Steele calls himself the third LoCash Cowboy. "Country music really boils down to the power of the song," sums up the eloquent Preston Brust. "We wanted to broaden our listeners, to reach the older crowd, the younger crowd, and the middle crowd. And we really tried to pick songs that were the best songs we could find to define LoCash. Hopefully we achieve that in this album." Though the high energy, roof-raising spirit of LoCash's live shows (and over 10 million YouTube views) tends to brand them as a party band, LoCash Cowboys, as the new album proves, are super-focused musicians and songwriters. Here, they showcase their light-hearted, fun-loving edge ("Little Miss Crazy Hot," the redneck anthems "Hey, Hey, Hey" and "C.O.U.N.T.R.Y"), as well as their emotional side ("I Hope," "Best Seat in the House," Chris's tribute to his late father, and "Keep in Mind," a parent's loving farewell to a child venturing into the world).
They also offer a tip of the hat to the helmsman of the highways in "Independent Trucker," featuring the legendary George Jones.
"He sounds amazing on it," says Preston. "He had me come into the vocal booth with him. I was really nervous to be in there with him while he was recording. But we were just cutting up, and I could tell that he really wanted to achieve a good vocal, because he was into the music, he really likes us, and he wanted to help." It was a red-letter day for everyone, Chris remembers. "I'd never seen Jeffrey Steele act like a ten-year old boy before, but when George Jones walked into the studio, Jeff was a ten-year old kid." LoCash (the named is derived from a group of Preston's high school friends) got their launch in the summer of 2002, when Chris, a high school all-star football player from Baltimore, Maryland, worked as the entertainment director at Nashville's Wildhorse Saloon. Preston, a Kokomo, Indiana, preacher's son who wrote his first song at age eleven on his paper route, had just arrived in town. Chris offered him a job filling in for him as a DJ.
One night they were goofing around on the mic, not even singing, when their electrifying banter caught everyone by surprise. It made Chris think about how Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin-idols of his grandfather-could hold an audience in the palms of their hands, and make them part of the show.
"It's something that came naturally to me and Preston. It's really all about the crowd, about making them feel their lives are changing. That first day on the mike, we were both thinking, 'Gosh, we've got something here, dude.' I said, 'I hope you sing.' And Preston was like, 'I do, do you?' And that's the way it started."
Yet their musical backgrounds were as different as heaven and hell. Preston, whose great uncle Albert E. Brumley wrote the gospel classic "I'll Fly Away," grew up steeped in the blood of the lamb, sneaking into the closet to listen to the only three secular records in the house--Eddie Rabbit's "I Love a Rainy Night," Willie Nelson's "Angels Flying Too Close to the Ground," and the Oak Ridge Boys' "Bobbie Sue."
In contrast, Chris grew up with his ear glued to Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, and Whitesnake. "I was definitely a head banger, man. I loved '80s rock and glamour rock, and later R & B. Then Garth Brooks changed my life. I watched his show, and I said, 'I want to do this.'"
What made LoCash unique from the beginning is their harmony blend. When Chris sings lead, Preston provides the low harmony, and when Preston sings lead, Chris sings high harmony, bringing variety, freshness, and a new edge to the duo sound.
Yet for years, they sat in the Wildhorse DJ booth, dreaming and wishing, watching big name artists take the stage. But soon record labels began recognizing just how much of the total package they, too, had--great vocals, world-class dance moves, a unique look, and charisma to burn, along with a wealth of experience and a work ethic that impressed everyone who dealt with them.
In 2008, they headlined the Redman/Maxim Roadhouse Tour, and in the first time they'd come back to the club, they sold out the Wildhorse.
As if in a scene out of a movie, the two reveled in the excitement and the girls crushing up next to the stage. Then right in the middle of a Jeffrey Steele song, a man with crazy hair and tattoos on his fingers fought his way to the front row and waved Preston down. Just as Preston thought, "Who is this guy? We're gonna need security," he recognized the wild man as Steele himself.
"We made eye contact," Preston remembers, "and he said, 'I get it! I hear it! I see it!' And he just started laughing like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He said, 'Call me. All you need is the songs.' And he fell backwards into the crowd and disappeared." Though it took three months to get Steele's phone number, the search was worth it. They met at his house to discuss their future.
"Boys, if you want to make an album that's really different and takes risks," Steele told them, "put your hands in on three. If you don't, I'm not your guy." "Three seconds later," says Preston, "we were a team."
It was the break they needed, after years of near success, losing it all, and living off of mac and cheese, tuna fish, and tortured dreams. In 2003, for example, when a record label deal went south, they hooked a U-haul to Preston's Jeep Grand Cherokee and hit the road, playing three-hour shows at clubs all across the country for five hundred dollars a night. They never broke even, but garnered tons of fan support and sold such an impressive number of homemade CDs that they knew their time would come. "We leaned on each other, man," says Chris. "And it's like a healing process to be on stage, to see people smile and laugh and cry. To know we're making an impact on people really, truly kept us going."
However, their darkest year arrived in 2011 with numerous professional setbacks, the death of band member Ryan "Troop" Jones, and the passing of Chris's dad, the inspiration for LoCash's new song "Best Seat in the House."
As Preston recalls, "It was like, 'What is going on in our lives? Not one good thing has happened to us this year. You start thinking some kind of energy is against us.' Then all of a sudden you get a phone call, and a voice says, 'This is Keith Urban. I'm releasing your song, "You Gonna Fly," as my next single.' Talk about a light at the end of the tunnel! That's when it started to change."
And change it has, both personally and professionally. Chris is now married with a young son, Caden. (Preston is still single, "but looking.") And the duo, which formerly wrote and recorded the theme song for from Tanya Tucker's reality show "Tuckerville," is in negotiation for a television show of their own.
Though the show will likely emphasis the entertainment side of LoCash's effusive personality, Chris never loses sight of one thing: "We're very serious musicians. This is our career. There is no Plan B. This is our life."
Athens GA | Country
Colt Ford is back with his best album ever and all it took was a return to his roots.
“I went backwards,” Colt says. “I went back to Ride Through The Country.” Which is not to say Colt simply re-hashed his breakthrough album. Quite the contrary, in fact.
'Declaration of Independence,' released on Colt’s own Average Joe's Entertainment, will no doubt go down as one of the most noteworthy releases this year, which is saying a lot for a man who has already sold nearly a million albums and 3 million downloads. From planting his patriotic flag on the album’s first track, "Answer to No One, "and closing the album with a prayer on the poetic, honest, and heartfelt "Angels and Demons," which features a conversation with God, the Athens, GA native has covered every human emotion on this record and then some.
Longtime collaborator Shannon “Fat Shan” Houchins handles production duties on the album, all-star producer Dann Huff (Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts) also adds his skills to Colt’s groundbreaking effort.
In all, Colt wrote or co-wrote 14 of the album’s 15 tracks. “This album is very real and honest and by far the best record I’ve ever made,” Colt says with pride. “The last two records—I stand up and cheer for them—but I tried to make a lot of people happy on the last two records and I took the edge off of it. On this record I put the edge back on there.”
The former professional golfer and collaborator with Jermaine Dupri is used to adversity, taking country music by storm at a time when Nashville labels deemed him “not pretty enough” and country radio sees him as too distinct to add to their playlists.
The fact is Colt Ford is hard to categorize is exactly why he’s been successful. His fans appreciate his diverse musical talents by the boatloads, as a visit to one of his shows will prove.
Colt’s list of guests superstars on 'Declaration of Independence' is an impressive one. Jason Aldean, for whom Colt co-wrote the smash “Dirt Road Anthem,” lends his vocal talents to “Drivin’ Around,” while Jake Owen adds his unique spin on “Back,” the album’s first single.
“Jason and I tried to do songs on the last two records and we just hadn’t found the right song,” Colt says of the duet with Jason. “As soon as I heard this one I knew it was the right song. It’s fun. It’s Jason being Jason and me being me.”
And while it’s the lone song on the album Colt didn’t write—it was penned by hit tunesmiths Craig Wiseman, Rodney Clawson and Chris Tompkins—he calls “Drivin’ Around” a “gigantic” tune.
Similarly, Colt says he and Jake were just looking for the right song, which they found in “Back”— a very personal song that Colt co-wrote. With a strong hook and powerful verses, the song will make everyone that hears it want to call their mom and dad to talk about growing up.
His collaboration with Darius Rucker on “Way Too Early” is another of the album’s highlights. “I’ve known D for a while and he’s got such a distinctive voice. I thought this song suited him very well,” says Colt. “The song says it all: Sometimes late comes way too early. Everyone can relate to that. Sometimes things are over way to soon.”
Meanwhile, Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn fame guests on “All In” and label mates Montgomery Gentry add their distinctive gusto to “Ain’t Out Of The Woods.” “That’s as country honky tonk as you can possibly get,” Colt says of the former tune.
Those familiar with Colt’s lotta-fun-legacy shouldn’t be surprised that Declaration of Independence is chock-full of good time anthems and left turns. “I hear artists say, ’I’ve got 10 songs and they’re all singles.’ Well, I don’t know if I want to even hear that record, because that shouldn’t be the case,” Colt contends. “If you did 10 songs and they’re all singles you did a whole album of vanilla. I would prefer to have a few different flavors. Just because something isn’t designed as a single, doesn’t mean it’s not a great song.”
While some may see Colt’s duet with Wanya Morris of Boyz II Men on “Happy In Hell” as a strange combination, Colt disagrees. “Great songs are great songs,” he says. “I don’t care who sings them. I just like making the coolest songs I can make. At the end of the day I’m a country artist 100% through and through, but that don’t mean you can’t like other music.”
For the legion of fans that have seen Colt’s live shows—over 750,000 did in 2011 alone—“the edge” is what they’ve come to expect. In the same way that a superstar athlete leaves everything he has on the field, Colt knows no other way to perform than to be all in. “I give it everything I’ve got when I go out on stage,” he says. “It’s about the fans. That’s my goal, to reach and touch as many people as I can. I don’t really have any goals beyond that. I’m so blessed and lucky to play music for a living.”
That Colt has seen little love from mainstream media and radio only heightens his resolve to get his music in the hands of his fans. “I’m definitely an underdog,” Colt admits. “There ain’t no question about that. Everything about me says I shouldn’t be able to do what I do.”
Perhaps it’s that sense of not belonging that allows Colt to connect to his blue-collar fans. “There’s nothing about me that ain’t country,” Colt says with a laugh.
As millions of fans and Colt’s artist friends know, truer words have never been spoken.
From the band's earliest days, the members of Gloriana have always known that good things take time. The country trio first came together in 2008 when brothers Tom and Mike Gossin moved into Rachel Reinert's Nashville apartment. Together they spent months in cramped quarters, surviving on Ramen Noodles while trying to shape their sound. "Gloriana are three people who have played music for their entire lives" says Mike. "But we never really caught a break until coming together. Tom and I played in bars for 10 years, but it wasn't until the three of us got together that we knew we had something special." That something special has held Tom, Mike, and Rachel together through all manner of personal and professional struggles over the past several years: from relationship upheavals, to the departure of band-mate Cheyenne Kimball, to long stretches away from loved ones on the road, to wondering whether their music would ever catch fire. Fortunately it did when Gloriana's 2009 self-titled debut album soared to No. 2 on the Billboard Country Albums chart propelled by the gold-certified single "Wild At Heart". That same year, they spent two years on the road with Taylor Swift and won both an American Music Award for Breakthrough Artist and a coveted ACM Award for Top New Vocal Group in 2010.