Chris Young, The Del McCoury Band, Mandy Barnett, Love and Theft, John Conlee, Riders In the Sky, Jim Ed Brown, & Keith AndersonCountry
Murfreesboro TN | Country
Young’s career is ticking like a Swiss watch. The last four singles Chris Young has released have all hit #1 on the charts, including “Tomorrow” and the smash hit “Gettin’ You Home,” a song that earned him his first-ever Grammy nomination. All signs are pointing skyward as NEON debuted at #4 on the all genre Billboard Top 200 chart with more than 72,000 first week fans declaring their devotion to Young. He’s also been fêted by the media with glowing review in USA Today, People, Associated Press and Billboard in addition to high profile TV appearances on Good Morning America, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Fox & Friends.
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.”
Love and Theft
Love and Theft is a bit different from the group that scored a Top 10 hit two years ago with "Runaway." But the changes that have affected the group-most notably, signing with RCA Records and downsizing to a duo-have actually brought Love and Theft closer to what it originally set out to be: a band that writes, records and performs honest, soulful country music.
While Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson are proud of their successful first effort, they are excited to have teamed with producer Josh Leo (Alabama, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) on their RCA effort. "We love performing" says Stephen. "The way we are recording now is the way our influences made records: live with a band. It's a lot more organic."."
Eric's earthy voice is the perfect complement to Stephen's high-altitude tenor. The guys happily share lead vocals, harmonize like a church choir, and bolster their band with their own guitar work. "Stephen and I have always been on the same page as far as the vision for Love and Theft and what we want it to be," says Eric. "We feel like we have made the record we've always wanted to make."
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.
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.
Jim Ed Brown
If there is one word best suited to describe Jim Ed Brown, it is veratile. As a dynamic component in duets and a trio, as a solo recording artist, and as a popular television host, in the course of his professional lifetime, he has filled role after role with shining success. The last career of this balladeer from Arkansas can easily be likened to a well-cut gem, with its facets reflecting light on many different planes, yet collectively achieving the warm, enduring brilliance of an unforgettable star, a TRUE LEGEND...
Nashville TN |
Keith Anderson could be the poster child for the notion that good things happen to good people. He's quickly earned the reputation of being an adept writer of award nominated hits, not just for his own projects but for other artists as well and his good guy persona is as widely known as his high energy, let's-get-this-party-started live shows. The release of his sophomore album C'MON! finds Anderson, the Grammy-nominated songwriter, in fine form. He co-wrote 10 of the disc's 11 tracks, pairing with some of Nashville's top tunesmiths including Rivers Rutherford, Tim Nichols, Chuck Cannon, Vicky McGehee, Jeffrey Steele (also the disc's producer) and Bob DiPiero. "I wrote by myself for so long that it's fun to co-write," the Oklahoma native says. "I'm just such a social person that I love people and working together with them. Different co-writers have different strengths and I think you tend to tuck away certain ideas for certain co-writers."