Alan Jackson w/Bobby Osborne and the Rocky Top X- Press, Jeannie Seely, Ricky Skaggs, Jaida Dreyer, Gene Watson, Oak Ridge Boys, Chris Janson, Jimmy Dickens, Connie Smith, George Hamilton IV, Dailey and Vincent & John ConleeCountry
Superstar Alan Jackson's amazing chart success has been chronicled in the release of 34 Number Ones, a career-spanning, double-disc collection featuring all of Jackson's #1 hits to date. Even before its release, the album title has already been eclipsed by Number One #35, with the chart-topping success of the current single, "As She's Walking Away," with Zac Brown Band featuring Alan.
With 37 songs in all, the project includes all 34 of Jackson's previous #1 singles, together with "As She's Walking Away" and two additional tracks: the beautiful "Look at Me" (previously available on the 2008 soundtrack to Billy: The Early Years) and Jackson's never-before-released take on the classic Johnny Cash hit, "Ring of Fire."
Alongside Alan's first chart-topper, 1990's "Here in the Real World," are such enduring favorites as "Gone Country" (1995); Jackson's poignant, GRAMMY-winning "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" (2001); the Jimmy Buffett duet "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" (2003); the recent "Country Boy," and many more.
Over the course of those 34 number one hits, Alan's sold more than 50 million albums. As superstars go, he's one of only a handful of artists who've been around for two decades who still regularly top the country chart. And unlike the other consistent smashmakers who can make that claim, he's the only one who is a true singer/songwriter, penning most of his own material.
In fact, over the course of his career, Alan has become one of the most successful and respected songwriter/performers in music - which has, no doubt, been a contributing factor in him being 16-time award winner at both the CMA and ACM Awards and a GRAMMY-honored songwriter, as well.
Bobby Osborne and the Rocky Top X- Press
Bobby Osborne is a bluegrass musician known for his mandolin playing and high lead vocals. Born December 7, 1931 in Leslie County, Kentucky, Bobby Osborne is known primarily for his collaborations with his brother Sonny Osborne in their band, the Osborne Brothers. He was a pioneer in conceiving the now-popular "high lead" vocal trio concept. He has released numerous recordings since the 1950s. Most notably, the Osborne Brothers recordings of "Rocky Top", and "Kentucky" inpired their being named official state songs of Tennessee and Kentucky, respectively.
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.
Cordell KY | Country
A life full of music is the story of Ricky Skaggs. By age twenty-one, he was already considered a “recognized master” of one of America’s most demanding art forms, but his career took him in other directions, catapulting him to popularity and success in the mainstream of country music. His life’s path has taken him to various musical genres, from where it all began in bluegrass music, to striking out on new musical journeys, while still leaving his musical roots intact.
The year 2012 marks the 53rd year since Ricky struck his first chords on a mandolin, and this 14-time Grammy Award winner continues to do his part to lead the recent roots revival in music. With 12 consecutive Grammy-nominated classics behind him, all from his own Skaggs Family Records label (Bluegrass Rules! in 1998, Ancient Tones in 1999, History of the Future in 2001, Soldier of the Cross, Live at the Charleston Music Hall, and Big Mon: The Songs of Bill Monroe in 2003, Brand New Strings in 2005, Instrumentals in 2007, Salt of the Earth with The Whites in 2008, Honoring the Fathers of Bluegrass: Tribute to 1946 and 1947 in 2009 and Ricky Skaggs Solo: Songs My Dad Loved along with Mosaic in 2010), the diverse and masterful tones made by the gifted Skaggs come from a life dedicated to playing music that is both fed by the soul and felt by the heart.
Ricky was born on July 18, 1954 in Cordell, Kentucky, and received his first mandolin at the age of five after his father, Hobert, heard him harmonizing with his mother from across the house as he played with his toys. Two weeks after teaching him the G, C and D chords, Hobert returned from working out of town shocked to see his young son making chord changes and singing along. He soon earned a reputation among the locals in his community. When the legendary Bill Monroe came to Martha, Kentucky for a performance, the crowd wouldn’t let up until “Little Ricky Skaggs” got up to play. The father of bluegrass called six-year-old Skaggs up and placed his own mandolin around his neck, adjusting the strap to fit his small frame. No one could have imagined what a defining moment that would be in the life of the young prodigy. By age seven, Skaggs had made his Grand Ole Opry debut and performed with bluegrass legends Flatt & Scruggs on their popular syndicated television show, for which he earned his first paycheck for a musical performance.
In 1971, he entered the world of professional music full-time with his friend, the late country singer, Keith Whitley, when the two young musicians were invited to join the band of bluegrass patriarch Ralph Stanley. Ricky soon began to build a reputation for creativity and excitement through live appearances and recordings with acts such as J.D. Crowe & the New South. He performed on the band’s 1975 debut album for Rounder Records, which is widely regarded as one of the most influential bluegrass albums ever made. A stint as a bandleader with Boone Creek followed, bringing the challenges of leadership while giving him further recording and performing experience.
In the late 1970’s, Ricky turned his attention to country music. Though still in his 20’s, the wealth of experience and talent he possessed served him well, first as a member of Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band and later as an individual recording artist on his own. With the release of Waitin’ for the Sun to Shine in 1981, Skaggs reached the top of the country charts and remained there throughout most of the 1980’s, resulting in a total of 12 #1 hits. In 1982, he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry, the youngest to ever be inducted at that time. As his popularity soared, he garnered eight awards from the Country Music Association (CMA), including “Entertainer of the Year” in 1985, four Grammy Awards and dozens of other honors. These achievements also placed him front and center in the neo-traditionalist movement, bringing renewed vitality and prominence to a sound that had been somewhat subdued by the commercialization of the ’Urban Cowboy’ fad. Renowned guitarist and producer, Chet Atkins, even credited Skaggs with “single-handedly” saving country music.
In 1997, after Ricky’s then-current recording contract was coming to an end, he made the decision to establish his own record label – Skaggs Family Records. Since then, Skaggs and his band Kentucky Thunder have released an amazing 12 consecutive Grammy-nominated classics (8 of which went on to earn the revered award) while also opening the label to a variety of other musical artists, all the time keeping emphasis on bluegrass and other forms of roots music. Since then, Ricky and Skaggs Family Records have had the privilege of working with many musical talents, including the Del McCoury Band, Jerry and Tammy Sullivan, Blue Highway, The Whites, Mountain Heart, Melonie Cannon, Ryan Holladay, Keith Sewell, Cherryholmes and Cadillac Sky.
Ricky’s first release for Skaggs Family Records, Bluegrass Rules!, set a new standard for bluegrass, breaking new sales records in the genre, winning Skaggs his sixth Grammy Award and earning the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Album of the Year Award. In 1999, his second all-bluegrass album, Ancient Tones, won a Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album – his second consecutive Grammy in that same category. Just one year later, Ricky won his eighth Grammy Award in the Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album category for Soldier of the Cross, his first all-gospel project with his band Kentucky Thunder.
Ricky made further progress with the release of his fourth bluegrass album in 2000, Big Mon: The Songs of Bill Monroe, a project which featured an all-star cast of musicians ranging from Dolly Parton, Patty Loveless and Travis Tritt to Joan Osborne, John Fogerty and Bruce Hornsby, and celebrated the music and the life of Ricky’s mentor, Bill Monroe. Big Mon received much critical acclaim, including a Grammy nomination for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals. The album was re-released by Lyric Street Records in 2002 under a new name, Ricky Skaggs and Friends Sing the Songs of Bill Monroe. His fifth bluegrass album, History of the Future (2001), a timeless collection of both traditional bluegrass standards and newly conceived acoustic gems received rave reviews and industry accolades, including a Grammy nomination for Best Bluegrass Album and an IBMA nomination for Album of the Year, once again placing Skaggs among the leading innovators in the genre.
Skaggs’ first all-live album with Kentucky Thunder, Live at the Charleston Music Hall (2003) led to an IBMA Award for Instrumental Group of the Year – an award Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder has taken home 8 times in the last decade. The decision to record a live album was an obvious one for Skaggs. From a string of high-profile tour dates with the Dixie Chicks in 2000, to his position as host of the unprecedented “All*Star Bluegrass Celebration” which aired nationwide on PBS in 2002, to his participation in the wildly successful 41-city ’Down from the Mountain’ tour – Ricky has become one of bluegrass’ most dynamic and sought-after live performers.
He counts the current configuration of Kentucky Thunder among the best group of musicians he has ever worked with. “This group of guys meets my approval every night,” Ricky says. “Each and every one of the pickers in Kentucky Thunder totally amazes me in every show…and that, to me, outweighs any award we could ever win.” The all-star lineup of Kentucky Thunder includes Andy Leftwich (fiddle), Cody Kilby (lead guitar), Paul Brewster (tenor vocals, rhythm guitar), Eddie Faris (baritone vocals, rhythm guitar) Justin Moses ((banjo, background vocals) and Scott Mulvahill (bass, bass vocals). Live at the Charleston Music Hall was honored in 2004 with a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group for the Harley Allen-penned track, “A Simple Life.”
In 2005, Ricky earned his 10th career Grammy (Best Bluegrass Album) for Brand New Strings – a beautiful collection of music featuring four Skaggs originals as well as several tunes by some of his most admired contemporaries, including Harley Allen, Guy Clark and Shawn Camp. In 2006, Skaggs was honored with a Grammy Award – this time in the Best Musical Album for Children category – for his contribution to Songs from the Neighborhood: the Music of Mister Rogers. Greater success followed with the release of Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder Instrumentals, an album of all-original, all-instrumental material in the fall of 2006. Praised by fans and critics alike as a landmark album for Skaggs, Instrumentals debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s bluegrass album chart and earned Ricky his 12th career Grammy Award (Best Bluegrass Album).
Cross pollination has been a mainstay throughout Ricky’s career, from his weekly collaborations with various artists as host of The Nashville Network’s Monday Night Concerts in the 1990’s to his recent pairings with Bruce Hornsby and The Whites. Released in March of 2007, Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby (Sony/Legacy) drew from the deep roots in mountain music – adding piano and Hornsby’s inimitable songwriting to the core bluegrass lineup of mandolin, guitar, bass, fiddle and banjo. A major ’CMT Crossroads’ special coincided with the album’s release.
His next recorded project, released in September of 2007 on Skaggs Family Records, was a literal family affair. After years of blending their voices from the living room to the stage, Ricky Skaggs and The Whites teamed up for their first collaborative gospel album, Salt of the Earth, which resulted in a 13th career Grammy Award for Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album, followed by a Gospel Music Association Dove Award for Bluegrass Recorded Album of the Year and Inspirational Country Music Awards for Musician of the Year as well as Mainstream Country Artist of the Year and Inspirational Bluegrass Artist of the Year (with The Whites).
In 2008, Skaggs paid tribute to the man he has often referred to as his “musical father”, Bill Monroe, and the original lineup of the Bluegrass Boys (Earl Scruggs, Lester Flatt, Chubby Wise and Howard Watts) with the release of Honoring the Fathers of Bluegrass: Tribute to 1946 and 1947, earning a 14th career Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album.
A musical father in his own right, Skaggs continued on the full circle path with the addition of a ReIssue Series of his groundbreaking country music masterworks to the Skaggs Family Records catalog in 2009. Beginning with 1982’s Highways & Heartaches, and followed by 1981’s Waitin’ for the Sun to Shine and 1983’s Don’t Cheat in Our Hometown, the ReIssue Series will include nine albums total and includes bonus retrospectives with each release, which feature Ricky, in his own words, sharing never-before-told stories about the making of each project.
Skaggs’ first-ever solo album, Ricky Skaggs Solo: Songs My Dad Loved (2009), celebrated the man that caused him to fall in love with music – his father, Hobert Skaggs. He elaborates, “If I could’ve gotten my dad into the studio, this is how I would’ve wanted him to sound.” Playing every instrument and singing every note on the album, Ricky brought raw, emotional honesty to the songs. By coming home to the music that meant so much to him as a child, Ricky tapped into a wellspring of passion that is channeled into every tune, as though he willed himself back to his family’s house in Kentucky. Solo was honored in the American roots field with a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Folk Album in 2010.
Ricky Skaggs’ album, Mosaic (2010), marked a return to a full band sound that mixed elements of Country music with Beatles-esque melody and lyrics that spoke to Skaggs’ faith, “making music that is in my head and in my heart,” as Ricky said. Grammy winning songwriter/producer Gordon Kennedy, who co-wrote Eric Clapton’s “Change the World,” was instrumental as co-producer and writer. This most special album hooks the heart, as the sounds invite you in to take notice and come closer. They have blended their talents and love of music with their love for the Lord to create this distinctive collaboration of writing and talent, unparalleled in strength of genius. The song, “Return to Sender” from Mosaic was nominated for a Grammy for Best Gospel Song, and the album was a contender for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album at the 53rd Grammy Awards, receiving major critical acclaim.
Marking Ricky’s 50th year in music was the release of Country Hits Bluegrass Style (2011), a compilation of many of Skaggs’ #1 country hits and fan favorites played in a bluegrass style. Combining his country and bluegrass roots along with Ricky’s impeccable tenor voice, his eight time IBMA Instrumental Band of the Year, Kentucky Thunder, and some of Ricky’s original award-winning country band alumni together with special friends added to the magic of this release.
Long awaited by country and bluegrass music fans alike, Music To My Ears (2012) is an exciting new offering by Ricky. Fresh, new bluegrass tunes co-written by Skaggs along with a brand new instrumental mark this CD in distinction among all others, while new takes on older bluegrass standards add to its charm. The album features a new duet with Ricky Skaggs and Barry Gibb (of Bee Gees fame) on deeply moving “Soldier’s Son,” along with new bluegrass treasure “You Can’t Hurt Ham,” inspired by a true story of Mr. Bill Monroe.
Ricky Skaggs has often said that he is “just trying to make a living” playing the music he loves. But it’s clear that his passion for it puts him in the position to bring his lively, distinctively American form of music out of isolation and into the ears and hearts of audiences across the country and around the world. Ricky Skaggs is always forging ahead with cross-cultural, genre-bending musical ideas and inspirations.
Jaida Dreyer didn’t grow up intending to become a country music artist, but to hear the story of her crooked road to Nashville, it’s clear she was meant to be here all along. Her unmistakable voice, bubbly personality, and eclectic, insightful songwriting scored her a publishing deal with Grammy Award-winning producer Byron Gallimore (Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Sugarland) at the precocious age of 19; this February, Gallimore announced the creation of his own label, Streamsound Records, and threw his full support behind Dreyer’s career. “I’m proud for her to be our flagship artist,” says Gallimore. “She’s the real deal. I couldn’t feel stronger about anybody.” Building on the success of Dreyer’s spunky, self-reliant debut, “Guy’s Girl,” her second single, "Confessions," goes to radio this month.
Paris TX | Country
It is difficult to imagine the world of country music without the vast contribution that Gene Watson has made to it. Between his major label debut on Capitol Records in 1975 and the present day, Gene Watson has excelled with his traditional slant within country music.
Gene Watson is a singer in country music's grand tradition & has the skill to give powerful vocal performances and draw all the emotion from his selected material effortlessly. Gene has remained true to his Texas music roots for the best part of 30 years & is a standard bearer for honest, traditional country music.
Following years of honing his country music craft around Texas, Gene emerged on the American country music scene in July 1975. He immediately earned himself a reputation as one of the best of the new 'real country' singers to emerge on the scene and for adhering to a traditional country sound, characterised by prominent steel guitar and swirling fiddle.
Gary Gene Watson never intended becoming a professional singer within the country music genre. Apparently, he didn't go searching for music - music found him. For those of us who love traditional country music, we have a lot to be thankful to Gene Watson for.
When you consider the vast catalogue of classic country songs that he has recorded since the late 1960s, his absence from the country music world would have left a gaping hole. Of course, other artists could have recorded these tracks, but not with the same passion, emotion & genuine feeling that Gene Watson has brought to them.
Oak Ridge Boys
Hendersonville TN | Country
Theirs is one of the most distinctive and recognizable sounds in the music industry. The four-part harmonies and upbeat songs of the Oak Ridge Boys have spawned dozens of Country hits and a Number One Pop smash, earned them Grammy, Dove, CMA, and ACM awards and garnered a host of other industry and fan accolades. Every time they step before an audience, the Oaks bring three decades of charted singles, and 50 years of tradition, to bear on a stage show widely acknowledged as among the most exciting anywhere. And each remains as enthusiastic about the process as they have ever been.
"When I go on stage, I get the same feeling I had the first time I sang with the Oak Ridge Boys," says lead singer Duane Allen. "This is the only job I've ever wanted to have."
"Like everyone else in the group," adds bass singer extraordinaire Richard Sterban, "I was a fan of the Oaks before I became a member. I'm still a fan of the group today. Being in the Oak Ridge Boys is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream."
The two, along with tenor Joe Bonsall and baritone William Lee Golden, comprise one of Country's truly legendary acts. Their string of hits includes the pop chart-topper Elvira, as well as Bobbie Sue, Dream On, Thank God For Kids, American Made, I Guess It Never Hurts To Hurt Sometimes, Fancy Free, Gonna Take A Lot Of River and many others. They've scored 12 gold, three platinum, and one double platinum album, plus one double platinum single, and had more than a dozen national Number One singles and over 30 Top Ten hits.
The Oaks represent a tradition that extends back to World War II. The original group, based in Knoxville, Tennessee, began performing Country and Gospel music in nearby Oak Ridge where the atomic bomb was being developed. They called themselves the Oak Ridge Quartet, and they began regular Grand Ole Opry appearances in the fall of ’45. In the mid-fifties, they were featured in Time magazine as one of the top drawing Gospel groups in the nation.
By the late ’60s, with more than 30 members having come and gone, they had a lineup that included Duane Allen, William Lee Golden, Noel Fox, and Willie Wynn. Among the Oaks’ many acquaintances in the Gospel field were Bonsall, a streetwise Philadelphia kid who embraced Gospel music; and Sterban, who was singing in quartets and holding down a job as a men’s clothing salesman. Both admired the distinctive, highly popular Oaks.
“They were the most innovative quartet in Gospel music,” says Bonsall. “They performed Gospel with a Rock approach, had a full band, wore bell-bottom pants and grew their hair long... things unheard of at the time.”
The four became friends, and when the Oaks needed a bass and tenor in ’72 and ’73, respectively, Sterban and Bonsall got the calls. For a while, the group remained at the pinnacle of the Gospel music circuit. It was there they refined the strengths that would soon make them an across-the-board attraction.
“We did a lot of package shows,” says Bonsall. “There was an incredible amount of competition. You had to blow people away to sell records and get invited back.”
Their Gospel sound had a distinct Pop edge to it and, although it made for excitement and crowd appeal, it also ruffled purist feathers and left promoters unsure about the Oaks’ direction. Then in 1975, the Oaks were asked to open a number of dates for Roy Clark. Clark’s manager, Jim Halsey, was impressed by their abilities.
“He came backstage and told us we were three-and-a-half minutes (meaning one hit record) away from being a major act,” says Bonsall. “He said we had one of the most dynamic stage shows he’d ever seen but that we had to start singing Country songs.”
They took his advice and the result was a breakthrough.
“Those who came to Country music with or after the New Traditionalists of the mid-eighties cannot possibly imagine the impact the Oaks had in 1977, when they lit up the sky from horizon to horizon with Y’All Come Back Saloon,” wrote Billboard’s Ed Morris. He added “... the vocal intensity the group brought to it instantly enriched and enlivened the perilously staid Country format. These guys were exciting.” Within a year, Paul Simon tapped them to sing backup for his hit Slip Slidin’ Away, and they went on to record with George Jones, Brenda Lee, Johnny Cash, Roy Rogers, Billy Ray Cyrus, Bill Monroe, Ray Charles and others. In 2007, they recorded with the son of an old friend. Shooter Jennings, the son of Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter, invited the Oaks to perform Slow Train, a song on his sophomore CD.
Their career has spanned not only decades, but also formats. They have appeared before five presidents. They produced one of the first Country music videos (Easy, in 1977, although not released in the U.S., it reached the 3 slot in Australia). They participated in the first American popular music headline tour in the USSR. And they have become one of the most enduringly successful touring groups anywhere. They still performing some 150 dates each year at major theaters, fairs and festivals across the U.S. and Canada.
They did it with a consistently upbeat musical approach and terrific business savvy.
“We always look for songs that have lasting value and that are uplifting,” says Allen, who has co-produced the Oaks’ last seven studio albums. “You don’t hear us singing ’cheating’ or ’drinking’ songs, but ’loving’ songs, because we think that will last. We also don’t put music in categories, except for ’good’ or ’bad.’ When we get through with it, it’s probably going to sound like an Oak Ridge Boys song no matter what it is.”
They proved their business acumen in any number of ways, including such steps as declining the chance to sit on the couch during their many appearances on the Tonight Show.
“We said, ’If you’re going to give us four minutes on the couch with Johnny, we’d rather have four minutes to give you another song that lets people know what got us here,’” says Allen. “We didn’t get here talking; we got here singing.”
They also proved themselves to be capable and tireless advocates of charitable and civic causes, serving as spokesmen and/or board members of fundraisers for the Boy Scouts of America, the National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse (now known as Prevent Child Abuse America), Feed The Children, the National Anthem Project and many more.
The group’s first personnel change in many years occurred in 1987 when Steve Sanders, who had been playing guitar in the Oaks Band, replaced William Lee as the baritone singer. Late in ’95, Steve resigned from the Oaks and exactly one minute after midnight on New Year’s Eve, Duane, Joe and Richard surprised a packed house at the Holiday Star Theatre in Merrillville, Indiana, by welcoming William Lee on stage and back into the group. The hit makers were finally together again!
The Oaks’ high-energy stage show remains the heart and soul of what they do, and they refine it several times a year, striving to keep it fresh well into the future.
“We’re not willing to rest on our laurels,” Golden says. “That gets boring. As a group, we do things constantly to challenge ourselves, to try to do something different or better than the last time we did it.”
“I feel like I can do what I do on stage just as good now as I could 20 years ago,” says Bonsall. “I plan to be rockin’ my tail off out there as long as I’m healthy. The people who come out, who bring their families to see us, deserve everything I’ve got.”
“We’ve experienced a lot of longevity,” adds Sterban. “I think the reason is the love we have for what we do—the desire, the longing to actually get up there and do it. We love to sing together... to harmonize together. It’s what our lives are all about.”
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.
Bolt WV | Country
Hillbilly singers never will come any hillbilly-er than Little Jimmy Dickens. Indeed, as he put it himself on one early hit record, he’s “a plain old ... cornbread lovin’ country boy,” from the toes of his loudly colored cowboy boots to the top of his head, just 4’11” higher.
The current generation of country fans will recognize Jimmy from his frequent guest spots in the videos of Brad Paisley, but the truth is that Jimmy first gained national exposure nearly half a century ago. None other than Roy Acuff first introduced him to the old Ryman Auditorium stage all the way back in 1948, and Dickens has been wowing Opry audiences pretty much ever since—longer than any other current cast member—with his flamboyant rhinestone-studded outfits, wild novelty hits, and country humor.
Jimmy was the oldest of 13 children born to a West Virginia farmer. He started singing on radio station WOLS in nearby Beckley while attending the University of West Virginia, opening his program “crowing like a rooster.” Even though Jimmy had to walk to and from the station, he set his sights on an entertainment career that would eventually find him spreading his brand of “Hillbilly Fever” all around the world.
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.
George Hamilton IV
Franklin TN | Country
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.
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.