Jesse McReynolds w/Riders In the Sky, Josh Turner, George Hamilton IV, Jeannie Seely, Montgomery Gentry, Jimmy C. Newman, Jim Ed Brown, Parmalee, Mike Snider, Steve Wariner & Blake SheltonCountry
Gallatin TN | Country
Jesse Lester McReynolds (born July 9, 1929, in Coeburn, Virginia) is an American bluegrass musician. He is known for his innovative crosspicking and split-string styles of mandolin playing, and has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1964. He is a multiple Grammy nominee and award winner and one-half of the famed Jim & Jesse bluegrass duo.
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.
SC | Country
As a family man, a philanthropist, a devoted Christian, and a passionate sports fan, you might say Josh Turner’s commitments run as deep as his voice.
Of course, he’s also a double-platinum-selling singer, songwriter and disciple of traditional country music, a mentor to up-and-coming artists —and one of the youngest members of the Grand Ole Opry.
All of those layers construct Josh’s new album, Punching Bag. His fifth for MCA Nashville, the record is a knockout collection of bluegrass-influenced barnburners, lonesome laments, and the slow and steady love ballads on which Josh’s trademark baritone excels.
The follow-up to 2010’s Haywire, which yielded the No. 1 hits “Why Don’t We Just Dance” and “All Over Me,” Punching Bag represents Josh in fighting shape. Throughout all 11 songs, he bobs and weaves like a champ, exhibiting new range in both his voice and his songwriting. Josh penned eight of the record’s eleven tracks, including the rollicking title song that, he says, set the tone for the entire project.
“When the idea for ’Punching Bag’ came along, it really hit me,” Josh says, pun intended. “It became the central idea for this record.”
Ironically, the up-and-at-’em tune was inspired by a particularly down day for the singer. “I’ve learned that songs come to you in various ways, from all different angles,” he says. “Nothing was going my way that day, and I felt like I was up against the world. When I got home, my wife Jennifer and I were talking about things that happened and I said, ’You know, I just feel like a punching bag, like life is beating me up.’”
Soon, Josh was off and writing, brainstorming lyrics with one of his most trusted creative partners, Pat McLaughlin.
“I wanted to express the idea that life is tough,” he says. “You get a lot punches thrown at you and a lot of times you’re not in control. But you have to take those punches and keep moving forward,” he says.
This is exactly the position Josh found himself in while making the album.
“With this record, I had just gone through a lot of craziness in my life,” recalls the father of three young boys: Hampton, Colby and Marion. “We had just had our third child and I had spent two years building a writer’s cottage, a log cabin for me to write in. It was a very stressful time getting all that done.”
But when the bell rang, Josh was still standing. And with something to show for it--all eight songs that Josh wrote or co-wrote for the album were conceived in that very cottage on his Tennessee property. A refuge from the distractions of life, the cabin, with its wraparound porch and stone fireplace, also serves as a depository for Josh’s priceless musical mementos. “It has all the awards I’ve won over the years, a red, white and blue Telecaster that Buck Owens gave me and an original ceiling joist from the Ryman auditorium,” he says. “They’re all things I hold dear.”
Consider it the “Cottage that Music Built.” As such, it holds a special spot in his process as a musician. “It’s turned out to be quite an inspirational place. It’s where I allow myself to think, be creative and make mistakes along the way,” says Josh, who encourages music and arts students in his native South Carolina to follow their own muse via his Josh Turner Scholarship Fund.
That uncluttered approach paid off in some of Josh’s most clever compositions yet, all highlights on Punching Bag. With a photographer’s eye and novelist’s vocabulary, the Grammy, CMA and ACM Award nominee has developed a Mark Twain-like knack for turning common phrases on their heads.
“I’m very observant of what’s going on around me,” Josh says. “I like to take phrases that people use in everyday life and use them to my advantage. You hear people say, ’They gave me the cold shoulder,’ but they don’t go beyond that. If it’s something that has been said before, I want to say it in a different way.”
In “Cold Shoulder” he does just that, using that term to address not just a one-time brush-off, but the progressive dissolution of a romance. Elsewhere, in “For the Love of God,” he transforms the phrase from one of frustration to one of jubilant intent, while the notion of the “right hand man” sidekick is redefined as a loyal husband in “Left Hand Man,” one of two songs Josh wrote with Peach Picker Ben Hayslip.
With help from his longtime producer Frank Rogers, Josh has a gift for selecting just the right material from other sources, like the album’s first single “Time Is Love,” written by Mark Nesler, Tony Martin and Tom Shapiro.
“When I’m looking for outside songs, I look for songs that I probably wouldn’t write myself,” he says. “’Time Is Love’ is a song that speaks to the idea of quantity of time versus quality time. Quantity time—getting to know people better and growing relationships—is the more important thing.”
It was that sense of fragility that inspired one of the most haunting cut on Punching Bag, “Pallbearer.” The song was partly inspired by the death of one of Josh’s relatives that he looked up to and admired. When Josh learned that his dad had helped carry the casket at the man’s burial, the grieving writer retreated to his cottage and put his feelings to paper. “It’s about how lonesome a person can feel,” he says. “And being a pallbearer at a funeral is pretty lonesome.” Featuring mandolin from Marty Stuart and backing vocals from Iris DeMent, the song adopts the idea as a metaphor for a man jilted by his lover. Written, naturally, in a minor key, the song is one of the most compelling and poignant songs on the album.
Punching Bag, pound for pound, may be Josh’s most ambitious and confident record to date. He’s never sounded so focused, so committed—or as he puts it—fearless.
“Fearless is being confident, faithful, and having trust in something that is bigger than you, and I think that’s a good description of me,” Josh says. “These songs are like a barometer for where I am in life, both in my age and in my experiences. They tell a story about me that nobody else can. I’m very confident and secure in the kind of music I’m making.”
In other words, he’s ready to come out swinging.
George Hamilton IV
Franklin TN | Country
Titusville PA | Country
Along with many accolades including awards from Billboard, Cashbox and Record World, country music legend Jeannie Seely has achieved No. 1 songs as a solo artist, as a duet partner and as a songwriter. Her deeply moving vocals earned her the nickname of "Miss Country Soul".
Jeannie’s recording of "Don’t Touch Me" not only topped the charts, but also earned her a Grammy Award for the "Best Country Vocal Performance by a Female". It is ranked at No. 97 in the book "Country Music’s 500 Greatest Singles" published by the Country Music Foundation, and also included in "The Stories Behind Country Music’s All-Time Greatest 100 Songs".
Born in Titusville, Pennsylvania, and raised on a farm outside of nearby Townville, Jeannie was singing on Meadville radio station WMGW at age 11, and by 16 was performing on TV station WICU in Erie. When she moved to Nashville upon the encouragement of friend Dottie West, Jeannie only had $50 and a Ford Falcon to her name, but within a month Porter Wagoner hired her as the female singer for his road and television series.
Montgomery Gentry is back and kickin’ ass.
With a new album, a new label and a renewed sense of musical purpose, Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry are poised to stake their claim as one of country music’s all-time greatest duos.
When the two Kentucky boys—Eddie, is from Lancaster and Troy is from Lexington—first busted onto the national scene in 1999 with the defiant “Hillbilly Shoes” notice was served—country music had never seen a hard driving duo like this.
The duo’s new collection, the aptly titled Rebels On The Run, brings Montgomery Gentry fans back to the beginning, but with a fresh attitude. Produced by Michael Knox, who has helped build Jason Aldean to superstar status, Eddie and Troy’s latest effort will likely be remembered as their best album thus far in their decade-plus history.
Despite the millions of albums sold, the sold out shows and the scores of awards and accolades, Montgomery Gentry remains in touch with its working class roots. “We are blue collar workers and we lived the songs that we sing,” says Troy. “Because of that, our fans are able to make the connection and when they hear our songs, they know we are singing with passion and we know what we are talking about.”
“People are going to be able to touch on each one of our songs and say. ’Yeah man, that song is a little bit about me,’ or ’I know a person that lives next door to me that’s been through what you just got done singing about,’” Troy continues. “People can associate themselves with ours songs.”
“With us is what you see is what you get,” Eddie says of the duo’s down-to-earth demeanor. “We don’t act like we don’t drink or cuss. We have faults like everybody else and that’s who we are.”
Who they are is a duo with fourteen Top 10 singles, including five No. 1s, “Something To Be Proud Of,” “If You Ever Stop Loving Me,” Lucky Man,” “Back When I Knew It All” and “Roll With Me.”
Their latest album is certain to add to that total.
Hometown proud first single, “Where I Come From,” continues the thread of the duo’s Top Five anthem “My Town.” The party hearty “Ain’t No Law,” co-written by Eddie and which includes the lyrics, live as fast as you can, cuz you can’t get it back is classic Montgomery Gentry. The vulnerable “Empty,” with powerful vocals by Eddie, drips with raw emotion and pain.
Meanwhile, the album’s title cut is a relatable tune sure to hit close to home to anyone who has been a teenager, which is to say, everyone. “Work Hard, Play Harder,” which Troy co-wrote with hit songwriters Jim Collins and Rivers Rutherford, is destined to be a blue-collar anthem
The Southern rock guitar-infused “So Called Life” is a raucous testament to hard working people everywhere. Legends Charlie Daniels and Alabama’s Randy Owen guest on “I Like Those People,” a blood-is-thicker-than-water testament to the things that really matter.
Now signed with powerhouse independent label Average Joes Entertainment, Montgomery Gentry has found the freedom the duo needs to move to the next level of their career. “It just seems like over the last couple of records there was so much going on at our old record company that we kind of got away from what Montgomery Gentry was about,” Troy says. “Rebels On The Run has a little bit of a newer sound, but it still has that edginess like the first two or three records we put out.
“We were able to go into the studio fresh, without our hands tied, and we were able to get the stuff done that we wanted to do and produce what we think is our best work to date,” Troy continues.
“It’s just so unreal when you get a fresh start and everybody is on the same page,” Eddie chimes in.
Average Joes, yes, but Montgomery Gentry is a superstar duo nonetheless. Whether it’s headlining tours, scoring a Grammy nomination, winning Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music Awards, garnering critical acclaim or simply earning the admiration of their millions of fans, Eddie and Troy have met the criteria reserved for but a few in country music history.
But awards and accolades aside, it’s Eddie and Troy’s induction into the venerable Grand Ole Opry in 2009 that means the most to them.
“Unlike other awards, becoming members of the Grand Ole Opry is something people can’t take away from you,” Troy says. “Other awards come and go, but once you become a member of the Opry, you are a member for life—that’s something that Eddie and I are very proud to be a part of.”
There’s no doubt that they’re hard-running honky tonkers, but Eddie and Troy are also empathetic citizens of the world. Acknowledged by the Academy of Country Music as the 2010 winners of its Humanitarian Award, they devote their time and energy into making the needs of others a priority. They are active participants in many charitable organizations, including the U.S. military and numerous charitable organizations such as the TJ Martell Foundation, Camp Horsin' Around and the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Middle Tennessee, among numerous others.
Make no mistake about it: with Rebels On The Run, Montgomery Gentry has secured a place in musical history with a unique blend of country, southern rock and Everly Brothers-like harmonies combined with relatable lyrics.
“We grew up on Charlie Daniels, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Merle Haggard,” Eddie says with conviction. “That’s who we are. We cut our teeth in the honky tonks and no matter what you try to do, we have to be us or it just doesn’t sound right.”
Jimmy C. Newman
TN | Country
The legendary Jimmy C. Newman is an absolute pioneer in Cajun-Country music history! He charted 33 songs on the Billboard Country Chart from 1954-1970. A Grand Ole Opry member since 1956, Jimmy C. and wife Mae continue to make their home on their Singing Hills Ranch in Rutherford County, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville.
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...
From this tiny town that's home to a gas station, two blinking yellow lights, and a small tin- roofed barn dubbed Studio B, country rockers Parmalee launched their long journey to Nashville. The near-fatal robbery Parmalee experienced after a show would have destroyed most bands. But brothers Matt and Scott Thomas, cousin Barry Knox and longtime friend Josh McSwain didn't call it quits. Instead it reinforced their intense motivation and dedication to one another and to their determination to succeed.
Each obstacle that delayed Parmalee's arrival to Nashville was an extra mile that allowed the groundbreaking sounds of artists like Jason Aldean and Eric Church to pave the way for the worlds of country radio and Parmalee's brand of country music to meet at the perfect crossroad.
parmalee's country rock sound has its roots in the bluegrass, traditional country, southern rock and blues covers the guys grew up hearing their families play.
Matt and Scott Thomas grew up near Greenville, NC watching their father Jerry front a popular local southern rock blues band. The boys watched and learned, picking up their own instruments and jamming along with their dad's band. From this they learned how to integrate their own style into the songs they were playing. Barry Knox, who played drums for the church choir, loved what his cousins were doing and soon joined them.
All that practice paid off one night when Matt and Scott, then teenagers, snuck into a club to watch their father perform. The guitar player got too drunk before the gig and didn't show, Matt explains. I knew all the songs so my dad called me on stage. I was in the band from that point on.” Scott replaced the drummer, and Barry learned bass in order to secure his spot in the band. The line-up became the newly minted The Thomas Brothers Band.
The Thomas Brothers Band cut their teeth on the local club circuit and would often share the same marquee with a cover band that starred their friend Josh McSwain on guitar and keys. Josh’s upbringing paralleled Matt, Scott and Barry's. Josh also traveled and played with his father who was in a bluegrass band called Get Honked; A fan of Josh's musical prowess, Matt invited Josh to play with Barry, Scott and himself. The foursome clicked immediately on stage. Their first gig was held at local watering hole, Corrigans, near East Carolina University where the guys went to school. From this moment in 2001 Parmalee was born.
The band set up camp every Tuesday and Thursday evening in the Parmele, NC barn they named Studio B after its original builder Mark Bryant. They added an extra e to the band's name to make it easier for those outside the area to pronounce it. Tuesday's and Thursdays were the only nights we could all get together and rehearse and the rest of the time we were each out working in order to fund Parmalee, Matt says. Every person in town could hear us practice in the barn, so we also had to stop at 11 p.m. to be considerate of the neighborhood.
The residents of Parmele weren't the only ones within earshot. The band developed a devout regional following based on the intensity of their live shows. But, the guys knew to turn their dreams into reality they would have to leave North Carolina. Their journey took them all over the country including New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta as they tried to find their musical direction. All of the producers, managers, and label representatives said the same thing: you guys need to be in Nashville.
Matt, Barry and Josh parked their RV, which doubled as their studio, in the Comfort Inn parking lot on Nashville's famed Demonbreun Street near Music Row. For the next month the parking lot was home and office. They began writing new material and networking. Their new connections led to a co-writing session with David Fanning, who is part of the celebrated production team New Voice with Kurt Allison, Tully Kennedy and Rich Redmond. “Going into these appointments, you never know who you’re going to meet or how it’s going to go,” Matt explains. “But when I wrote with David, we hit it off.”
During the same weekend as the infamous Nashville flood, Parmalee and Fanning wrote “Musta Had a Good Time” – even recording the demo in the RV’s recording “studio” – oblivious to the devastation that was happening to the city around them. After the “Flood Sessions,” Parmalee went into the studio with New Voice to record some sides, including “Carolina,” and “Musta Had a Good Time.” NV played the songs for BBR Music Group President/CEO Benny Brown who was impressed and asked to see a showcase as soon as the band returned to Nashville.
Parmalee put together a short tour in North Carolina to fund the trip back to Music City. But after the first show, plans changed.
After their September 21, 2010 show, Josh and Barry were packing gear in the venue while Matt and Scott were outside loading their RV when two armed men knocked on the door. The men put a gun to Matt’s head and demanded money. Shots were fired. Scott, who possessed a concealed weapons license, fired back. One of the gunmen died and Scott was shot three times. One bullet hit Scott’s femoral artery causing him to nearly bleed to death. “He bled out on the air flight to Charlotte, and his heart stopped twice,” Matt recalls. “When we got to the hospital, the doctor gave him a five percent chance to live.”
Scott was hospitalized in Charlotte, NC for 35 days – 10 of which he spent in a coma. News of the shooting spread like wildfire and the local news stations carried weekly reports on Scott’s progress. Parmalee’s fans turned out in droves to show their support. Through Facebook campaigns and benefits they raised enough money to help cover Scott’s medical bills. The Nashville community also rallied behind Parmalee donating autographed items and VIP packages to help cover Scott’s medical expenses. “We knew we had a lot of friends and fans,” Josh says. “But we found out exactly how many we had.”
By February 2011, Scott was well enough to get behind a drum kit for the first time and the band finally performed their promised label showcase. “We wouldn’t tell everybody how bad off I was because there was no way I wasn’t going to play that show,” Scott says. “I was in a leg brace, but I only had to get through six songs. Parmalee had fought for so much for so long that we decided we hadn’t come this far to stop now.” Through sheer willpower, the band nailed the set and landed a deal with Stoney Creek Records, home to ACM Vocal Duo of the Year Thompson Square and chart-topper Randy Houser.
Looking back on their experiences, the members of Parmalee have no regrets about the path they chose. “All the obstacles and craziness we’ve been through allowed us to help find our home in Nashville,” Matt says. “It took us going through all that to mold us,” Barry continues. “In Hollywood and New York we were always pushed in opposite directions. But Nashville helped us capture our sound – a sound that’s authentic to who we are as both artists and as people.”
“Artists like Jason Aldean and Eric Church helped pave the way for our country rock sound. If you think of Jason Aldean as the rockin’ side of country then think of Parmalee as the country side of rock,” Matt explains.
All of Parmalee’s hard work, dedication and perseverance is paying off in a big way. Country fans voted the band’s debut single, “Musta Had A Good Time,” #1 for 4 consecutive weeks on SiriusXM’s The Highway “Hot 30 LIVE” countdown and the song became a Top 40 hit on mainstream country radio. The fun-loving party anthem has been featured in national sporting event broadcasts from the PGA to MLB. Parmalee was named a “Bubbling Under Artist” by Billboard magazine (June 2013) and one of Clear Channel’s NEW! Artists to Watch in 2013. MTV Networks also hand picked Parmalee to perform as part of its 2013 O Music Awards.
Parmalee’s current single, “Carolina,” is a Top 10 hit and continues to soar up the Country radio charts.“Carolina” is also the band’s second consecutive single to be fan-voted #1 on SiriusXM’s The Highway “Hot 30 LIVE” countdown.
Gleason TN | Country
Mike Snider, (born May 5, 1961), is an American bluegrass banjo player and humorist. He learned to play banjo at the age of 16. Although he is well known for irreverent humor, he is a well respected banjo player. Much of his comedy is based on stories about his wife, Sabrina, referred to as Sweetie.
Few country artists have ever known the kind of success Blake Shelton has earned. Fewer still have done it with the openness and honesty he brings to the table.
"For the life of me," says Blake Shelton, "I'll never understand how you can be an artist but not want people to understand who you are as a person."
More than a decade into a career whose opening salvo was the chart-topping "Austin," that transparency has helped Blake become one of the best ambassadors the country music genre has ever had, in a league with Glen Campbell and Roger Miller. His wit, intelligence and, above all, his irreverent sense of fun have endeared him to his peers on NBC's megahit "The Voice" just as surely as it has to the millions of fans he is introducing to country music. He is, says wife Miranda Lambert, "the life of every party he goes to," and these days, the world is his party.
Careers have been known to founder when artists reach beyond their core strengths into uncharted territory, but Blake's has only strengthened, primarily because he has never lost focus on the basis of everything he does--the music.
"I've spent a lifetime in love with country music," he says. "I listened all the time as a kid and I was playing and singing before I was a teenager. I moved to Nashville at 17 to make music and since then I've put everything I have into doing it right."
The results of that approach speak for themselves. He is the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year, three-time Male Vocalist of the Year and he and Miranda garnered Song of the Year honors for co-writing the platinum-selling chart-topper, "Over You." He has earned a host of other awards and nominations, including multiple Grammy nominations, six gold and platinum albums, and is the three-time host of the ACM Awards.
The most important statistic, though, is musical. He has had 12 No. 1 singles, including eight in a row, starting with "Hillbilly Bone." With songs like "All About Tonight," "Who Are You When I'm Not Looking," "Honey Bee," "God Gave Me You," "Drink on It" and "Over," he has proven his versatility and shown himself as one of the genre's strongest and most compelling vocalists. His live show--hit-filled, high-energy, unpredictable--has kept him among country's most popular touring acts.
Now, with the release of Based on a True Story... he takes the next big step forward. That he was able to follow so strongly an album with the success of the platinum selling, GRAMMY nominated album Red River Blue, which launched four No. 1 singles is further proof that he is still on the ascent as an artist.
"I really did believe that Red River Blue was the best that I could do and maybe someday I could tie it," he says, "but I think that just taking a simpler approach to making this album made it better because I wasn't comparing it to anything else. We put it together piece by piece, saying, 'Hey, man, I love that song. Let's cut that.' I was just recording things I loved and the next thing you know we had built something terrific. I'm really proud and excited about the songs on it."
The album relies on some of the country's top tunesmiths, including Rhett Akins, Rodney Clawson, Dallas Davidson, Dean Dillon, Michael Dulaney, Chris Tompkins and Craig Wiseman, with songs that are in general more upbeat than those on Red River Blue.
"You know, honestly, I'm in a good place in my life," he says. "I'm happy and I'm thankful and I want to sound like that in my record. I want to be that guy on my albums right now because I don't have that dark cloud I've had before and that we've all had in our lives. If you listen to this album, by the end you'll go, 'Man, this guy's pretty happy with his lot in life!' And I am."
That reality, he adds, accounts for the project's title.
"I was listening to the album and I thought, 'Man, every song on here is either "Been there, done that," or I'm doing it right now,' so It really is my true life."
Perhaps nowhere is that truer than in "Small Town Big Time," which talks about a city-dweller casting his thoughts back to the people and places back home. There is also "Doin' What She Likes" and "Lay Low," each of which, he says, deals with aspects of his relationship with Miranda, "Boys 'Round Here," a shout-out to country boys, "Country on the Radio," which touches on Blake's lifelong love of country radio, and "Granddaddy's Gun," an evocative and poignant song about the place of memory and heritage within families. The tone varies from "Do You Remember," a song that looks back on a relationship more in nostalgia than regret, to "I Still Got a Finger," perhaps this generation's "Take This Job and Shove it." The CD's first single, "Sure Be Cool If You Did," launched the project in style, heading straight to the top of the charts.
Sonically, Based On A True Story enters new territory for Blake.
"I'm a fan of Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan and Miranda and Taylor and Carrie," he says, "and I get excited when I hear how they're pushing the boundaries with their records and I kinda felt like that's the one thing that I hadn't done, is really push it with sounds and things. And so that's one thing that I did want to do on this record. "Doing What She Likes" has a banjo intro, but the banjo's going through a wah pedal and I never heard anything like it. It just sounds so cool. And that was important to me to do things like that."
The result is a project that showcases Blake as one of the premiere artists of his generation. The journey that brought him to these heights from a childhood in Ada, Oklahoma, was a storied one. Two weeks out of high school, after encouragement from legendary songwriter ("Heartbreak Hotel") Mae Axton, he left for Nashville. He met and worked with another legend—Bobby Braddock ("He Stopped Loving Her Today")—and earned a deal on Giant Records. It would be several years before that led to a contract with Warner Bros. and "Austin," and a long journey from there to the heights he has scaled.
"I'm still learning, still reaching and growing," he says now, "and it's great to have more and more people along for the ride."
He is, this far along, looking to the future.
"I just want to do what George Strait has done and what Reba has done, to make great music year after year," he says. "I don't think there's a magic formula. I think you just go and make the best record you can make and give the best you have when you walk out on that stage."
With Based on a True Story..., Blake takes yet another long stride toward that legacy, a legacy his growing legions of fans view as already well under way.