Rascal Flatts w/Sara Haze, Riders In the Sky, Dailey and Vincent, Diamond Rio, Josh Thompson & Connie SmithCountry
In just ten years, Rascal Flatts has become one of the most honored acts in country music history, reaching heights and achieving milestones reserved for the genre's elite. They have set more venue attendance records than any country act en route to ticket sales of six million and counting. They have sold 20 million albums and earned 11 #1 singles. All six of their albums are platinum or multi-platinum and every one is among Billboard's Top 100 Albums of the Decade. They have won more than three dozen awards from the ACM, CMA, AMA and People's Choice, among others, and they have received that ultimate honor for those who have impacted the culture--a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
"We have had an unreal ten years," says lead singer Gary Levox with an appreciative smile. "We've done things we couldn't have been able to dream."
Behind those statistics is an accomplishment more basic than numbers, more important than any trophy--for the past decade, the music of Rascal Flatts has been the soundtrack to countless lives. Songs like "These Days," "Mayberry," "What Hurts The Most," "My Wish," "Stand," "Here," "Here Comes Goodbye" and "Summer Nights" have soothed and uplifted, fired up, mellowed out and otherwise impacted millions.
"I'm humbled to think that the music we've been able to make has touched so many lives and moved so many people," says bass player/harmony vocalist Jay Demarcus. "The stories are just incredible and I think I'm most grateful for that."
"To this day," adds guitarist/harmony vocalist Joe Don Rooney, "we receive letters and e-mails about how a song like 'I'm Moving On' has impacted someone's life in some way or how 'Bless The Broken Road' was played at their wedding or how 'Stand' gave them the courage to stand up and fight the cancer out of their body and mind! That's powerful stuff, and that's the reason we're in the business, without question."
Their place in country music history may be assured, but Gary, Jay and Joe Don retain a newcomer's passion about capturing magic with each new project. Now, with the release of their latest, Nothing LIke This, they have done it once again, taking their career and their legacy another long step forward.
"We've reached back a little to what brought us here while moving forward at the same time," says Jay. "We concentrated more on our vocals and chemistry again and not so much on big production."
The album is a microcosm of all the things the band does well--Jay calls it "Rascal Flatts in a nutshell"--which is to say it touches on many of the best aspects of 21st-century country music. It is first and foremost uplifting, with songs like "Why Wait" and "Play" kicking off the proceedings with the call to enjoy life no matter what our circumstances. It features both the throwback groove of "They Try" and the fresh sparkle of "All Night To Get There." "Summer Young" is an uptempo celebration of the season of warmth and romance and "I Won't Let Go" is "You've Got A Friend" for the new millennium, a song steeped in the strength of love and friendship in times of trouble. The title cut finds a way to bring freshness to the subject of love and sees Gary bringing a disarming desperation to his vocal.
"One of the more special songs on this album for me is 'I Won't Let Go,'" says Joe Don. "Being a parent now and listening to that song really hits home and truly hits me in the heart."
Evident throughout is the group's ability to recognize the best in Nashville songwriting. "It's always been about the songs first," says Jay, "and boy did we get our hands on some gems!!
"We think we've got a good balance," says Joe Don, "between the really deep, sweet, meaningful ballads and the 'right at ya' uptempos that keep the party going." "I think there's something for everybody on this project," adds Gary, "and it's a full-length example of what makes us who we are."
Guesting on the project is Natasha Beddingfield, who joins the trio on "Easy." "We had a blast recording with Natasha," says Gary. "I've always been addicted to great singers and she is certainly one of the best. It was an honor to sing with her." Fans got their initial listen to the project with the debut single, the group's first release on Big Machine Records, their new label home.
"'Why Wait' is one of the coolest tunes I've heard in a long while," says Joe Don. "I'll never forget sitting in that little studio in Santa Barbara and hearing it for the first time. Instantly we new it was a Rascal Flatts song and by the day's end we had ourselves an extremely magical track going. I love it!"
The laid-back California outpost was chosen as a creative counterpoint to Music City. "We cut half the album in Nashville and half in Santa Barbara," says Gary. "We just wanted to change it up some and enjoy the beautiful weather in California. It gave us a new spark for sure."
"It as a nice departure from the norm for us," adds Joe Don. "We recorded in a funky little studio with some amazing L.A. musicians and created some great magic together. I really think you can feel some of the energy on a lot of these tracks."
"Overall," says Jay, "this is an album about fun, growth and change. We have been at a very important crossroads this year with our ten-year mark, so I think we wanted to prove to ourselves that we could still grow and surprise ourselves and stretch."
The fact that they were able to do so reflects the magic they have always found in their approach to music and the respect with which they view their mission and each other. Their sound took root in the late 1990s, when Jay and Joe Don were band mates working with Chely Wright and Jay and Gary were playing a separate gig in downtown Nashville. When their guitar player was unable to make it one night, Jay asked Joe Don to sit in.
"We knew right away we had something special," says Jay, "even if we were the only ones who ever got to hear it!"
"I truly feel like every time the three of us lock into a chorus," adds Gary, "God's hand is in it. I feel blessed to share the stage with Jay and Joe Don and their crazy talent. They both inspire me."
"Gary is one of the greatest and most unique singers of our time," says Joe Don, returning the compliment. "I've always felt blessed that we have a lead singer who, like a quarterback, takes charge of the stage and leads us into victory night after night!" The three honed their sound with club work, cut some demos and by year's end had been signed to Lyric Street Records, where they flourished and took off on that magical decade of hits and sold-out shows. Along the way, their "Bless The Broken Road" was Grammy nominated for Country Song of the Year and Vocal Performance, they became 2006's top-selling physical and digital artist in all genres, scored four #1 country albums and three #1's overall, and hit the Top 10 Billboard pop singles chart twice, among many other milestones.
"There's never been a method to our madness," says Joe Don. "We just cut the best songs we can, and through the years we get better at what we do." When Lyric Street closed its doors, they chose Big Machine as their new label home. "We have found an amazing business partner with [label head] Scott Borchetta and the entire Big Machine family," says Gary. "They get us and we get them on every level. It feels like the right place at the right time."
Committed to giving back, they are known for their charitable work, which includes raising three million dollars for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville.
"That," says Jay, "is definitely the thing I'm most proud of."
This year sees them back on the road with their "Nothing Like This Tour," which Jay says, "is sort of a Rascal Flatts history lesson."
"As a kid," says Gary, "you stand in front of your mirror and only dream about being able to sell out arenas and stadiums. And to be able to play a place like Wrigley Field and sell it out, you can't even dream that big. The feeling is awesome."
"Without a doubt we've been blessed to have received our fair share of awards and recognitions in this business," adds Joe Don. "But above all, getting to make music that matters, that affects people emotionally and spiritually, is the greatest thing we could ever accomplish."
Never content to rest on their laurels, they are eagerly looking forward. "The goal," adds Gary," is to continue to make amazing music together for at least the next ten years, because we honestly feel like we're just getting started." "And as long as we stay true to the music and each other," adds Jay, "everything else will fall into place."
Nashville TN | Pop
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.
Dailey and Vincent
Ashville NC | Country
The most eagerly-anticipated bluegrass debut in recent memory, Dailey & Vincent area a powerful ensemble steeped in bluegrass and country music traditions, but blessed with the drive, talent, and charisma to assert those timeless values proudly onto today's stage. Even before one note of their stunning debut record had been heard, Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent earned a standing ovation at the 2007 International Bluegrass Music Association convention and were booked for more than 100 shows. Now that the album is here, the advance accolades are completely understandable. This is music that can stand side by side with any of the most revered bluegrass discs ever made.
Co-leaders Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent have already had a profound impact on much of the best modern bluegrass via their contributions to such estimable performers as Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, and Rhonda Vincent & The Rage. The decision to join forces was not taken lightly, as they both held comfortable positions within premier bluegrass bands – Dailey as lead and tenor singer for nine years with Lawson, Vincent as harmony vocalist and multi-instrumentalist with Skaggs. “But when I first heard Jamie sing,” Darrin Vincent recalls, “it absolutely brought me out of my seat. I said, ’That is somebody I need to know.’”
Vincent’s initial instincts were confirmed the instant that he and Dailey sang together. “When I first heard our voices blend, I said, ’There’s something special about that,’” Vincent continues. “It was like, ’OK, we’ve got to pursue this.’ Then I looked around, and Sonny stopped playing in The Osborne Brothers. Jim [McReynolds] from Jim & Jesse passed away. All of a sudden, there weren’t any duos in bluegrass anymore. I thought, ’This is going to be a lost thing if we don’t form a duo.’ It just made sense.”
Dailey agrees, adding that when he met Darrin six years ago, he knew immediately that he wanted to take his next professional steps with him. In 2003, the two began talking seriously about becoming a team.
“I was happy – I had no complaints,” says Jamie of his nine years in Quicksilver. “But I knew probably after being with Doyle three years that eventually I would want to step away, in order for me to fulfill what was in my heart and to get to do everything I wanted to do musically.”
“We’ve been praying about this for about four years,” Darrin comments, “because we were making sure that it’s the right choice. He (Jamie) was making really good money and doing great with Doyle. I’ve been having a ball with Ricky. With all the awards that we’ve won and all the wonderful opportunities that have come along with Ricky, it really didn’t make sense to quit.” But in 2004, Darrin and Jamie recorded “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” as a duet for a bluegrass Christmas compilation album. The response was explosive.
“When we got the response we did off of ’Beautiful Star,’ it was overwhelming,” recalls Jamie. “It just blew my mind. That’s what brought forward the idea that we needed to do our own thing.”
“Their own thing” positively bursts from the speakers from the first notes of their self-titled Rounder debut, Dailey & Vincent, released in January of 2008. The working-man’s laments “Sweet Carrie” and “Poor Boy Workin’ Blues” are vintage-sounding, rapid-fire bluegrass romps. Jamie’s tenor lead vocals on “I Believe” and “Take Me Back and Leave Me There” are high, lonesome bluegrass singing at its purest. Darrin’s upbeat lead vocals on “Don’t You Call My Name,” “Cumberland River,” and “Music of the Mountains” sound steeped in tradition.
The harmonies in “River of Time” and “Place on Calvary” will send shivers up the spine of anyone who loves the classic overtones that only great bluegrass voices can produce. “More than a Name on a Wall” sounds vintage because it is – the song was a 1989 country hit for The Statler Brothers. And as if to remind us that we are in the presence of classic talents, “My Savior Walks with Me Today” and the extraordinary performance of Gillian Welch and David Rawling’s “By the Mark” are performed in traditional, mandolin-guitar, brother-duet fashion.
Indeed, their voices blend with an uncanny, almost familial consonance, reflecting the dedication and mutual respect behind their partnership. “I get along with Darrin like family,” Jamie explains. “For six years, we’ve been working on different projects. But we’ve talked to each other on the phone just about every day all during those six years.”
“I threw songs at him, he threw songs at me,” Darrin remembers, looking back at the formative stages of their collaboration. “We went for timeless things, things we wouldn’t mind singing from now on.”
Darrin’s sister, bluegrass star Rhonda Vincent, has her own studio. Darrin asked her if he and Jamie could use it. The exceptional blend of their voices on songs like “By the Mark” captivated Rhonda and everyone else who heard the sound. Soon they were the most talked about new bluegrass band on the circuit – well before most fans heard any music at all. Pop pianist and songwriter (and bluegrass fan) Bruce Hornsby observed that “Their name is on the lips of everyone in the know, as far as I'm concerned.”
Like most overnight sensations, however, Dailey and Vincent are two men who have paid their dues many times over. Born December 27, 1969, Darrin Vincent first gained notice as a six-year-old tyke in his family’s band, The Sally Mountain Show, in Missouri. In the 1980s, he was in The Rage, the band led by his celebrated sister Rhonda Vincent. He continues to co-produce her acclaimed albums with her to this day. From 1990 through 1997 he backed John Hartford. In April 1997 he joined Ricky Skaggs’ award-winning band, Kentucky Thunder. He is proficient on guitar, bass, and mandolin and is highly regarded for his harmony-singing talent.
“I’m kind of a fish out of water,” says Darrin. “I’ve been behind people my whole life – my sister, John Hartford, Ricky. I’ve never taken front and center stage. Not even one time. I tell you, when I sang ’Cumberland River’ at the IBMA convention, I was scared out of my mind. It was extremely, excruciatingly scary.”
Jamie Dailey, on the other hand, is noted as a lead singer. But forming this duo was a big step for him as well. Born June 9, 1975, he was plucked from obscurity by Doyle Lawson to become the tenor lead vocalist in the much-awarded Quicksilver.
“People would ask me when I was a teenager if I would ever want to do this for a living,” Jamie recalls. “I said, ’Absolutely not. I would hate that. I never want to be on the road.’ I didn’t think I wanted to travel. Around that time, when I was 16, I heard Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. When I heard Doyle for the first time, it changed. I was like, ’That’s what I want to do.’ And then, in August of 1998, he called.”
Having heard of Jamie’s talent, Doyle called to inquire whether the high-singing youngster would like to audition. Jamie graduated instantly from singing in local Tennessee bluegrass groups to playing bass and guitar and singing lead and harmony vocals in one of the most famous bluegrass bands in America.
Taking with them the lessons they’ve learned from their former employers, their friends, and their families, Jamie and Darrin produced Dailey & Vincent themselves. With pride, they included on the sessions their band members Jeff Parker (mandolin, harmony vocals) and Joe Dean (banjo, bass vocals). Adam Haynes has since been added on fiddle. The result is twelve brilliant performances from two men who sound born to sing together, delivered with a thrilling blend of clarity, precision, and soul. Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent have given their lives to bluegrass, to both the traditions and the possibilities that it offers, and now they’ve made the album of their lives. Is it possible to be both classic and brand new? Meet Dailey & Vincent.
Diamond Rio recently took home their first Grammy Award for The Reason. Named Grand Ole Opry members in 1998, Diamond Rio has had an illustrious career that includes over 10 million album sales, nine #1 singles, six Vocal Group of the Year awards (Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music) and 14 Grammy nominations. The band is highly regarded for their charitable contributions as the longtime National Spokespersons for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and was further honored with the prestigious Minnie Pearl Humanitarian Award in 2004.
Born in a town in Wisconsin with a respect for people, a passion for music, a grounded personality, and little more. Nurtured by a loving family he learned about sweat, hard work, and the value of a dollar in his teens as he worked side by side with his father pouring concrete. Learning those values early in life laid the groundwork for him to passionately follow his dreams of using his hands in a different way ---- strumming a guitar making music for a living. He was drawn to country music because in his words “you can feel the pain pouring through the speakers that can just punch you in the face or take you to another place in an instant.”
It is a Nashville legend that Connie's first record, the aching and unforgettable "Once a Day," written by Bill Anderson and recorded on July 16, 1964 when she was just 23, became one of the most celebrated singles in country music history—the first debut single by a female country singer to go to Number One, a position it held for eight weeks. Forty-seven years later it is still the only first single ever to have done that. When Connie sang "Once A Day" in the all-star B-movie musical Second Fiddle to a Steel Guitar the following year, she was introduced on-screen as "The Cinderella of Country Music." "Once A Day," and her stunning rendition of "How Great Thou Art" remain the two most requested songs by her fans to this day. Connie's memorable string of hits would include "You and Your Sweet Love" "If It Ain't Love" "Where Is My Castle?" "Run Away Little Tears" "Just One Time" and "I Never Once Stopped Loving You." The passion for singing and for the songs, and the singular vocal precision in delivering them that marked those standards-to-be are fully on display in this return to recording. "If you add up all the songs on this album," Ms. Smith says, "it would add up to my personality. It's me talking again, after so many years, with a message no different than I've always had. It's just that I love you, and I want that love to come back." It's bound to.