Songs & Stories For St. Jude feat. The Warren Brothers w/Brett James, Tim Nichols, Tyler Farr, Rhett Akins, Eric Paslay & Chris JansonSinger-Songwriter
hosted by The Big 98's Amy Paige
The Warren Brothers
Brett and Brad Warren play arena tours with superstars, have their songs recorded by some of the biggest acts in the business and have made a dent as producers -- but most fans recognize these two brothers from their not-so-famous role in the cult classic CMT reality series, Barely Famous.
Brett and Brad arrived in Nashville in 1995 from their hometown of Tampa, Florida. Brad, two years the elder, holds down the band’s rocking side with his distinct lead guitar style and background vocals while Brett delivers each song with his country-blues infused voice, harmonica and rhythm guitar.
Their progressive sound piqued the interest of Faith Hill in 1999 leading to Hill and McGraw picking the Warrens for the coveted opening slot on their Soul2Soul tour in 2000. They've since appeared on McGraw’s tours as well as the award winning 2005 Brooks & Dunn “Deuces Wild” Tour, Martina McBride's 2006 "Timeless" Tour and most recently McGraw & Hill's Soul2Soul Tour 2007.
On the television front, their quick wit, sharp tongues and wild-card unpredictability made them a hit as judges on the USA Network TV series "Nashville Star," which led to their interest in pursuing more television with CMT. “Barely Famous: The Warren Brothers” The result was a reality show cult-classic among music and industry fans alike.
Nashville TN | Christian & Gospel
Tim Nichols (born in Portsmouth, Virginia is an American country music singer and songwriter. Active since the late 1980s, Nichols has written for several country music singers, including Keith Whitley, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Jo Dee Messina, and Alan Jackson. He and songwriter Zack Turner recorded one album for BNA Entertainment (now BNA Records) in 1993 as the duo Turner Nichols, in addition to charting two singles as one half of that duo. Nichols, along with Craig Wiseman, earned a Grammy Award for Best Country Song in 2004, for McGraw's Number One hit "Live Like You Were Dying".
Tyler Farr was born and raised in the small town of Garden City, Missouri. The singer was first introduced to country music at age 16, when he spent a summer on the road with his stepfather, who played lead guitar for country icon George Jones. Farr grew to love country music, and he decided to make the move to Nashville to pursue a career as an artist.
He landed a job working as a bouncer at the legendary Tootsie's Orchid Lounge for five months until he was able to convince the management to let him sing. For the next few years, he would play the Tootsie's stage four nights a week, in addition to working security at the door.
An avid outdoorsman, Farr found a friend in award-winning songwriter and fellow outdoorsman, Rhett Akins. Rhett had heard some of Farr's music, and he wanted to work with him. After writing with some of the best songwriters in Nashville, Farr eventually landed a publishing deal with Sony ATV/Monument Publishing, and it was that connection that ultimately helped him land his recording contract on Sony Music Nashville's BNA Records.
In addition to recording and songwriting, Farr has toured extensively with Colt Ford, for whom Tyler wrote the song, "Hey Y'all," as well as opening for Jerrod Niemann and Lee Brice in early 2011 on The Higher Education Tour. Tyler's four-song digital album, Camouflage - EP, is available now.
Some men are just born to be country singers. It has nothing to do with chart positions, signed deals or marketing plans. It has everything to do with a rowdy Friday night crowd singing along to a song you just wrote because they’ve immediately embraced the words. You’ve written about your life and theirs and the connection has nothing to do with music industry politics and everything to do with honest communication and gut reaction.
Just ask Rhett Akins. The talented singer/songwriter is back with a new collection of songs, People Like Me, that reflect the life he leads on stage and off as a loving father, avid outdoorsman and a quintessential everyman who has much in common with the audiences he’s been singing to for more than a decade.
Akins moved to Nashville in 1992 and landed a songwriting deal with Sony Tree Publishing. Like many other Music Row newcomers, he began writing songs and singing demos. Those demos caught the attention of an executive at Decca Records and Akins was signed to a deal in 1994. From there, the young artist became one of country music’s hottest acts, well known for such hits as “That Ain’t My Truck,” “She Said Yes” and the No. 1 “Don’t Get Me Started.” His boyish good looks, warm evocative voice and energetic stage shows made him a favorite with fans of all ages.
When the Decca label closed its doors, Akins released one project on Audium Records before just deciding to get back to the basics—the road, the music and the fans. “I just love to get out there in front of people,” says Akins. “I love the whole live thing and in my opinion there’s no authority in the world who can tell you when you are a singer and when you are not. It doesn’t have anything to do with having a record deal.”
Honesty is a powerful magnet that always draws an eager audience and it has proven to be a potent tool in Eric Paslay’s creative arsenal. Sometimes playful, often poignant and always thoroughly entertaining, the 6’ 4” singer/songwriter with the fiery red hair and easy smile has quickly earned a reputation as an artist that knows how to capture the attention of an audience and hold them in the palm of his hands.
All it takes is seeing Paslay perform once to become hooked, a fact that has become obvious as he’s toured the country, opening for Little Big Town, The Eli Young Band, Jake Owen and others. Prior to the release of his EMI Nashville debut album, fans have been able to purchase a five-song sampler at Paslay’s shows. “The very first night we got to sell them I gave the merch guy two boxes and he sold out,” Paslay says in a tone that exudes a mixture of humility and awe. After Paslay did the math, he realized that one in 12 attendees went home with his CD. “I’m just excited that I made some fans and they got to take me with them. I’m excited that my music is out there.”
When country music fans see Paslay perform, they want to take his music home and make his songs the soundtrack of their lives. Whether he’s performing on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry or taking his place this summer on the Country Throwdown Tour sharing his new hit, “If the Fish Don’t Bite,” Paslay always knows how to reel a crowd in.
His music has substance and depth, but his debut album is every bit as entertaining and accessible as it is meaningful, and therein lies Paslay’s charm. “It’s hopeful music,” he says describing his style. “There’s only one sad song on the whole record and that’s ’Amarillo Rain,’ but there’s still a beauty behind it that makes people feel alive somehow.”
Paslay has the ability to paint vivid portraits in his songs and he does just that with his new single, “If The Fish Don’t Bite,” a sly, sexy romp about a guy who has plans for his girl beyond casting a line in the water. “A lot of guys are annoyed by chicks coming to fish when it can be a lot of fun,” he says with a smile. “If the fish aren’t biting, why not cuddle up a little closer?”
Whether he’s serving up a light-hearted up tempo tune like “If The Fish Don’t Bite” or delivering an emotionally riveting song like “Deep As It Is Wide,” Paslay proves to be a compelling storyteller and versatile performer. It’s a gift he comes by honestly. “My granddad was a musician,” says Paslay, a native Texan, who was born in Abilene and raised in Waco and Temple. “Granddad and his brothers had a band called Arnold Schiller and the Moonlight Serenaders. My grandfather was Arnold, and they played at dance halls. I was two and a half when he died. It’s interesting how it rubbed off even though I didn’t really know him very well. He had red hair and it’s kind of funny because I like all the things he liked.”
Paslay says his family never pushed him to play music, but supported his interest when he began playing guitar at 15. “I love melodies,” he says. “My dad always had oldies on, and listening to that music growing up influenced me. There’s so many cool melodies and it was great ear candy. It still resonates with every teenager, every grown up, every grandmother because it’s human. That type of music really stays with you.”
By the time he began performing around Texas, Paslay had studied some of the great singer/songwriters and learned how to make a song memorable. “I was influenced by Rich Mullins,” Paslay says. “He was one of those guys I really listened to because he was real. He was a Christian artist, but it was cool to hear someone mix their beliefs with real life. He was honest and it was almost scary honest. I’d listen to his songs and think, ’Did you really mean to say that?’ It was cool. Then there was Rodney Crowell. I love Rodney Crowell. Johnny Cash has influenced me from his storytelling. He was such a cool storyteller and you really believed him.”
He also studied what made an artist command a crowd’s attention while they were on stage. “I watched Austin City Limits and the Grand Ole Opry,” he says. “I was into everything from country artists to rock artists to Southern rock artists to jazz players. In high school I definitely went and saw quite a few Dave Matthews Band shows and that was always an experience.”
Though most aspiring artists playing clubs routinely perform cover tunes, Paslay learned to lead with his strengths and played his original songs. Even though he was building a reputation for his live show, like most artists, he briefly flirted with a more stable career and during his early days in college, he planned on becoming a pediatric endocrinologist. “I had diabetes and I thought I could help kids with diabetes because I could relate to them and talk to them,” he says.
However, music was too strong a passion to be ignored and following a friend’s advice, he moved to Nashville. Paslay attended Middle Tennessee State University. He also volunteered for anything just to get his foot in a door on Nashville’s famed Music Row. He did everything from help out at a charity golf tournament to change light bulbs in the NARAS office, a feat made easier because of his height. “I’d just go help anywhere I could because I thought if you have a job to do and you do it well, then if they let you be creative and make a record, at least they know you’re going to do it well,” Paslay says. “They’ll know you are going to put all your mind, strength and skill into doing whatever job they give you.”
Paslay landed a deal at Cal IV Publishing. His songwriting credits include Jake Owen’s hit “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” as well as the title track for Donny and Marie Osmond’s country set “The Good Life” and cuts by Lady Antebellum and the Eli Young Band. Though appreciative of the songs that others have recorded, Paslay will be the first to admit he didn’t move to Nashville to be a songwriter, but to be an artist.
He has a passion for using his voice to connect with an audience, and there’s a warm, earnest quality that commands attention, particularly on potent anthems such as “Deep As It is Wide.” “It’s about the hope that there is something bigger and better than us,” he says. “There’s light at the end of the tunnel and there’s something out there. When I finished this song I wanted to make sure there wasn’t a disconnect between each verse, so I went down the street to play it for a friend. The way I was sitting, I couldn’t see her while I was playing. When I was finished singing, I turned around and she was crying, so I figured I was done.”
“Less Than Whole” is a thoughtful treatise on grace and forgiveness Paslay co-wrote with Big Kenny that Kenny included on his 2010 solo album. “Sweet By and By” is an infectious number Paslay penned with his friend Sarah Buxton. “That was the first song we ever wrote together,” he says. “I saw her the other night and she didn’t even know it was on the record. She started crying and saying, ’I’m so happy it made the record!’”
Though Paslay enjoyed recording the album and has an affinity for the studio, his true love is the stage. “I turn it on when I get on stage. I love to entertain,” says Paslay, who has opened for Dierks Bentley, Clint Black, Eric Church, Blake Shelton and Little Big Town, among others. “The songs on this record are the ones that really connect when I played them live. When I write, I’d rather there be a little bit of hope in every song, even in the sad songs. There’s still hope in there. With all the negativity everywhere these days, I’d like the positive to come out. A song can give you a little boost in confidence or make you fall in love deeper or dream higher. I’m not writing and singing this stuff to be cool. I was never the cool kid. I was the kid standing in the back of the room watching.”
Off stage, Paslay has a gentle, everyman quality that endears him to all who meet him. He loves performing, but is just as comfortable remodeling a bathroom or getting in the kitchen with his mom, Donna, and making kolaches, a pastry that is a favorite among Texans. Most of all, Eric Paslay loves forging that special connection with people that can only be made with a song. “I just love making music. I love how much you can say to someone in a song,” he says. “I want to be a part of the soundtrack of people’s lives.”
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.
Steve Bogard's music career began at age 12 fronting his first band in Tampa, Fla. By the age of 19, Steve had a top 20 R&B hit on James Carr, "Freedom Train," and two cuts on A&M Records' soulful star Rita Coolidge. While in Memphis, Steve played guitar, sang background and toured extensively with both Charlie Rich and Jerry Lee Lewis. He was drawn to Nashville in 1981 when an 11-year-old song of his -- "Touch Me With Magic" -- became a Top 10 hit for Marty Robbins. To date, Steve has eight #1 Country songs among 18 ASCAP- and BMI-award winners, including George Strait's "Carried Away” and “Carrying Your Love With Me," Rascal Flatts' career-breaking "Prayin' For Daylight," Jack Ingram's “Wherever You Are” and Dierks Bentley’s “Every Mile A Memory,” a 2007 Grammy nominee for Country Song of the Year. Steve's co-written second single on Dierks is the title cut “Long Trip Alone.” Additional songwriting credits for Steve include Clay Walker's "If You Ever Feel Like Lovin' Me Again," BlackHawk's "There You Have It," Tanya Tucker's "Hangin' In," Steve Wariner's "A Woman Loves," Patty Loveless' "Jealous Bone," Eddy Raven's "Til You Cry," Reba McEntire's "New Fool At An Old Game" and Lee Greenwood's "Mornin' Ride." Steve also has cuts by Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Restless Heart, Lonestar, Alabama, The Oak Ridge Boys and Diamond Rio.