Sarah Darling, Jason Crabb, The Grascals, Steve Wariner & moreCountry
Des Moines IA | Country
Declared by the New York Times as a "sophisticated songwriter" with a "crisp, powerful voice," Black River Entertainment artist Sarah Darling is confidently making her mark on the country music scene. She made her Grand Ole Opry debut in February 2011 and quickly followed that up with the #1 music video for her hit "Something To Do With Your Hands" from her sophomore release, Angels & Devils. The multi-dimensional artist is aligned with such high profile brands as Crock-Pot and Betsey Johnson. Her rendition of The Beatles classic "Blackbird," recorded for the charity-based compilation album benefiting "The Women and Cancer Fund," received heavy airplay on SIRIUS XM's The Highway and the music video for "Blackbird" made its debut at No. 1 on the CMT Pure 12-Pack Countdown. Darling is currently in the studio working on her upcoming album with producer Dann Huff (Keith Urban, Faith Hill, Rascal Flatts) to be released in 2012.
Great musicians will always find a way to make good music, but for great musicians to make great music, they must form a bond – one that, more often than not, goes beyond the purely musical to the personal. For The Grascals, that bond has been forged at the intersection of personal friendships, shared professional resumes and an appreciation for the innovative mingling of bluegrass and country music that has been a hallmark of the Nashville scene for more than forty years. As their records prove, The Grascals’ rare musical empathy gives them an unerring ear for just the right touch to illuminate each offering’s deepest spirit - whether they’re digging into one of their original songs or reworking a bluegrass classic or a pop standard.
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.
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.
Jason Crabb (born March 3, 1977 in Beaver Dam, Kentucky) is a Christian music singer and musician. He has been the lead vocalist for the group The Crabb Family. Crabb was voted "Favorite Male Vocalist" at the first annual Harmony Honors Awards and "Favorite Young Artist" at the 2000 Singing News Fan Awards. In 2004, he was voted 2004 Gospel Music Male Vocalist of the Year. He has been nominated for many other awards during his career. He has worked extensively with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir as a soloist. As a solo artist, he was signed to Spring Hill Music Group. His self-titled debut solo album was released on June 30, 2009. It reached No. 62 on the Billboard 200, No. 2 on the Billboard Christian albums chart, and No. 1 on on Nielsen SoundScan’s Southern Gospel albums chart. The album won a 2010 Grammy award for "Best Southern/Country/Bluegrass Gospel Album". It won a 2010 Grammy Award. The album was also nominated for a Dove Award for Country Album of the Year at the 41st GMA Dove Awards.On September 28, 2010, Spring Hill Music Group released Jason's second solo project, a Christmas album titled Because It's Christmas.
Nashville TN | Pop
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.
For his first single, JT Hodges has come out of the gate with a song about hunting. It does not involve bird calls or camouflage, but rather the most universal pursuit known to man. In a rollicking song that recalls a hot night in Memphis, Hodges sings: "She said, 'Look me up when you get back to town.'" His answer: "'Look you up?' I said. 'Hell, I'm gonna hunt you down!'" Catch-and-release never sounded so steamy.
Country fans are wanting to hunt Hodges down, too, after getting a listen to this undeniable summer hit single. Besides "Hunt You Down," there's plenty more to be pursued in "JT Hodges," the Texas newcomer's alternately tender and raucous Show Dog -- Universal Music debut. The singer/songwriter worked with a trio of top producers -- Mark Wright, Don Cook, and Mark Collie -- who collaborated for the first time to bring their find to the public. Those aren't the only Nashville "names" putting their imprint on this freshman effort: Hodges' co-writers include top veterans like Rivers Rutherford and Chris Stapleton. Vince Gill even adds his harmony vocal and a guitar solo to one ballad. What these insiders already know, fans are quickly finding out: Behind those baby blue eyes lies the seasoned soul of a true country artist.
JT was raised in a recording studio... literally. "My family started Fort Worth's first multi-track recording studio," Hodges explains, referring to Buffalo Sound Studios, a facility that played host to artists as disparate as T Bone Burnett and Michael Bolton. Were the kids allowed to hang around? "Oh, it was part of our chores!" he laughs. "On weekends when there were sessions, Pops would make us vacuum and clean the bathrooms. Once we were done, my brother and I would be so excited to go into my dad's audio library and listen to record after record, on vinyl or quarter-inch tapes. That was the environment that I grew up in, crawling around under the console starting at 8 months old.
Hodges' parents weren't just studio owners: They had their own band. "My mom had a country record deal with MCA Nashville but she didn't want to leave us kids and ended up choosing motherhood." His folks had met under professional musical circumstances. Dad studied concert piano at Juilliard and then went to the University of North Texas to get his masters' degree in jazz composition. He also had a country covers band to help pay his way through grad school, and when he was 27, a 17-year-old girl drove up to audition. She got the gig and got the guy -- and they both got a boy who shared their consuming love of all kinds of music.
"Country is the first thing I ever remember hearing. My grandmother loved Conway Twitty and we used to listen to him all the time. His parents, meanwhile, had a fixation on the early rock of Elvis, Jerry Lee, and Buddy Holly, whose influence can certainly be felt in some of the new album's original songs, like "Rather Be Wrong Than Lonely."
There was a post-college detour to L.A., after Hodges graduated from Texas Christian University. He followed some buddies out to the west coast for a couple years, hitting the coffeehouse circuit to test out the material he was writing. That's where he met his "future" wife, an expat from Missouri, who had moved out to L.A.
Hodges and his wife soon migrated to the Music Row songbelt, and in the spring of 2010, he landed a record deal. "Mark Collie brought me in and introduced me to all the songwriters in this town. He introduced me to Don Cook, who was responsible for a lot of Brooks & Dunn hits. Together they brought me to Mark Wright, and the three of them agreed to co-produce me. Don and Mark Wright had been friends for a long time but I was the first artist they'd ever worked on together and for that, I am truly honored."
There is the sense of a dream deferred and fulfilled, as Hodges' musical parents "argue over who's my No. 1 and No. 2 fan." As more and more people get to hear the new album, Mom and Pops may encounter a lot of competition for those slots.