Walking The Walk This Way

“This is for all you f-$@#-ers in the back!”

Before I met Steven Tyler in person last week during a listening event in Los Angeles where we shared a nice, albeit brief personal chat, that’s the last thing I remember him saying directly to me.

Okay, fine. So he wasn’t talking DIRECTLY to ME. I mean, there were roughly 350,000 of us in the crowd, but I was one of those select “fuckers in the back.” And I mean waaaay in the back, at Ontario Motor Speedway for California Jam II on the night of March 18th, 1978.

Steven was kind enough to dedicate “Train Kept a Rollin” to me and my fellow FITB that lovely evening, and I never doubted his sincerity. Speaking of “I nevers,” the idea of me someday being involved with Country music was on that list; so was eventually meeting Tyler one-on-one. Last week, those two streams crossed in one of life’s odd, serendipitous happenstances, and — BOOM! There I was in my home town, chatting up Steven Tyler about his upcoming Country album.

Now, 37 years and two months removed from Cal Jam II, I still don’t doubt his sincerity. It’s one thing to say, “I want to make a Country album!” History has provided us with chapter upon chapter of cautionary tales from both anonymous and well-known artists who’ve tried and failed to make a Country connection (Jessica Simpson, anyone?), but this is not a stop-and-chat for Tyler. He’s been living in Nashville and immersing himself in the songwriting community for months now; by that, I mean not just listening to songs, but participating in grind-it-out, perspiration-over-inspiration sessions, crafting well-constructed, by-gawd Country tunes. As an example, one impressive ‘behind the curtain’ moment came when Tyler played a very raw demo of an as-yet-untitled tune. He told the room he and the Warren Brothers demoed the song within 10 minutes of finishing it – but nine HOURS after starting it. So we heard Tyler – and the Warrens – delivering a song in its entirety for the first time ever – and absolutely nailing it.

During an hour-long listening session, Tyler mentioned a virtual who’s-who of Music City-based songwriters he’s had sessions with – the ones responsible for much of the current chart and Country’s overall direction during the past five years or so – the Warrens, Brett James, Eric Paslay, Hilary Lindsey and Rhett Akins, just to name a few. And here’s the moment when it occurred to me that Tyler has a solid understanding of this town and a feel for the format: The lead single (and this week’s most-added song with 38 commitments!), “Love Is Your Name,” is NOT something he wrote. That nuance, the confidence of knowing one person can never out-write this town, is an important one. So is picking a tune written by Paslay and Lindsey Lee for your initial foray into Country.

In spite of a big first day, here’s a shocker for ya: There are naysayers, and the project is polarizing, because – let’s be honest, shall we? – Country as a format, as a sector of the music business, and specifically the community of Nashville – often has a tendency to be somewhat parochial in thinking. So now, propose the idea of Steven Tyler, lead vocalist of an iconic Rock band, transitioning to Country music and you realize what rolling a meatball up a hill or baking a watermelon is like.

But who are the naysayers? Are they Country listeners or the format’s gatekeepers? Are they 45-54-year-old music fans who remember Tyler’s inseparable connection to Aerosmith and can’t fathom the idea of him doing Country? Or is it 18-34s, some of whom only know Tyler as that guy who was a judge on “American Idol?”

We know longtime Country artist Clay Walker isn’t a fan. Interviewed by the Modesto (Ca.) Bee last week, Walker said, “I can’t stand to see outdated rock-and-rollers coming in to play country music. That really p—ed me off. We have great singers, great country musicians. There’s no reason we have to dilute it by letting people in the format that don’t have any business being in the format.”

Clay, if you’re reading this, we’ve been friends a long time and I love you. But, “Letting people in the format?”

Really?

Apparently I missed the memo about Country as a format becoming a private, exclusive club, where potential members are carefully screened; with some sort of initiation rite, annual dues and a secret handshake required before limited entry is granted. Maybe you live in a gated community; I don’t.

Will Tyler ultimately be judged on the IDEA of a rocker making Country music – or the actual Country music he’s just made?

Does anybody remember a similar conversation when Darius Rucker – one-time front man for Hootie and the Blowfish – announced he was making a Country album? Yes, Rucker’s band didn’t have as much longevity and heritage as Aerosmith, but who among us can’t recall people actually referring to Rucker as “Hootie?” How’s that for an obstacle when launching a new project? But Rucker immersed himself in this format, and the community too, making tons of radio friends by hitting the road and doing grassroots-style campaigning. He’s come out the other side as a solid mainstay artist for this format – so much so that I submit when people saw Hootie and the Blowfish reunite on David Letterman back in April, some probably said, “How come Darius Rucker is playing with those guys?”

Similar to Rucker’s Country debut, Tyler has demonstrated a genuine feel for Country with “Love Is Your Name,” the essence of which are stories, and how they’re interpreted through song. This is a dialed-back Tyler, vocally and production-wise, but you still feel his signature powerful, soulful presence. He’s not out of character or trying too hard. In fact, he’s trying less here. Steven Tyler can really sing – always could. But the result of his less-is-more approach vocals on this project for Dot is somewhat transformational for Tyler. The songs and stores are the thing here; his always amazing vocal skills are assuming the role of delivery vehicle. Thus, as a Country artist, Tyler understands he must be more nuanced storyteller than all-out crooner.

BMLG Pres./CEO Scott Borchetta whispered the words ‘Album Of The Year’ candidate to me when talking about what will be the finished product. Is he biased? Well, yeah. But Country radio will have several legit songs to consider, and there’s a subtext to the album, too. In the form in which I heard them, several other songs are potentially embraceable by Triple A radio programmers; and there are several additional straightahead rockers, because that’s just who Tyler is. He’s positioned himself for critical praise and commercial airplay at the same time. This will allow new and existing fans the chance to peel back another layer or two on Tyler from a musical standpoint – they will appreciate and enjoy what’s deep inside.

Before any music was played in LA, Tyler shared a story about hearing – and loving – “The Battle Of New Orleans” when he was a boy, thanks to his dad. After doing the math on both Tyler’s and the song’s origin, I’m assuming he meant the original, Johnny Horton version, which was released in 1959. This was an early introduction to Country music for Tyler, whose connection to it has apparently remained – amid, and in spite of the aforementioned historic career with Aerosmith .

Right now, Country as a radio format has a small, elite unit of arena/stadium-packing superstar artists and a large stable of new and developing ones. That latter group hasn’t collectively achieved consensus on a definable sound driving the format’s future growth and popularity so far. We’re diverse, but a signature sound is currently a total jump ball.

A subset of that toss-up for the format is the male vocalist category, which feels more crowded than ever in 2015. The most likely contenders to grab the baton next, and ascend to star status, seem to be Cole Swindell, Sam Hunt, Brett Eldredge, Thomas Rhett and Chris Young.

Into that equation, say hello to a potential grenade named Steven Tyler, freshly tossed into the room with pin cleanly pulled and ready to send stuff flying everywhere. And maybe that ends up being the point – that the format’s signature sound right now IS a wide-open diversity.

RJ Curtis

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SiriusXM Host Buzz Brainard Signs On For 2015 Country Cruising Cruise

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SIRIUSXM “MUSIC ROW HAPPY HOUR” host BUZZ BRAINARD is joining the 2015 “COUNTRY CRUISING CRUISE” as the official radio ambassador. Hosted by Country artist NEIL MCCOY, the “COUNTRY CRUSING CRUISE”  is a themed entertainment vacation featuring performances from artists including CRAIG MORGAN, TRACE ADKINS, THOMPSON SQUARE, JOE NICHOLS, PARAMLEE, CHARLIE WORSHAM, LINDSAY ELL, BLACKJACK BILLY, and JAMES WESLEY.

BRAINARD’s SIRIUSXM show features music and interviews with some of the top acts in Country music, making him the perfect candidate to take the reins on the “COUNTRY CRUISING CRUISE,” which offers fans the opportunity to experience intimate Q&A session and songwriter workshops. For more information, visit the 2015 “COUNTRY CRUISING CRUISE”

 

Billy Lord’s Summer Hit “Steal The Evening Sky” with Carly Jo Jackson Spinning Globally

 THE BILLY LORD STORY 

 Two wheels, one guitar, and the open road…

 After spending almost a year riding a Harley cross country with a
guitar strapped to his back, Billy Lord is set to become the breakout
star of 2015 and an American icon…

11,774 miles, 50 acoustic shows, and 20 new songs later, Billy has an
epic new album and TV show, National Anthem, ready for release
in 2015.

Billy, whose vocal and musical styling have drawn comparisons from
Bob Seger to Eric Church to Bruce Springsteen, is a New York City country rock musician experiencing what can best be described as a meteoric rise on the American music scene….

 #1 on the NY rock charts, #22 in the US, and #30 in the world (Reverbnation artist chart rankings 1-28-15)

Seamlessly weaving songs between pop, rock and country, Billy’s aptly titled debut album American Music was heralded as “one of the best new releases of 2012..” and earned him an opening gig with
platinum-selling artist Uncle Kracker. The album’s first single, On a
Summer Night, gained Billy national radio play and 2013 EOTM Award nominations for Best Country Song and Best Country Music video. Billy closed out the EOTM Awards show at the Pacific Design Center in Hollywood with a live performance that drew rave reviews.

American Music also launched the single Fighting Back, an aggressive adrenaline-fueled anthem based on Billy’s own personal battles. The song struck a heavy chord with listeners and earned him radio play on some of the biggest rock radio stations in the country, including New York’s Z100 and Providence, RI’s Home of Rock n Roll, 94 HJY.  With Fighting Back playing on the radio, Billy rose from one of the city’s working homeless – singing his songs in parks and subway platforms – to one of the most talked about new artists in the city scene seemingly overnight.

Fighting Back was named Best Rock Song of 2012 by voters on Twitter
@YouTubeRisingStar and eventually earned Billy a featured artist honor
from Z100 radio.  By early 2013, Billy had his own station on Pandora.
Not one to rest on his early success, Billy set out on a motorcycle in
February of 2013 with his guitar and a mission to write a great
American rock album that would stand proudly alongside the classic albums that have been his inspiration. Billy earned gas and food money by playing songs wherever he could; from small bars to street corners, often sleeping outside on picnic tables, in gas station bathrooms or in the laundry rooms of hotels. During the cross country journey, Billy found songs for his follow-up album in the people and places he encountered along the way. In the middle ofhis epic ride, Billy was asked to return home to play a concert in his hometown on the eve of 4th of July. Billy’s performance drew a record setting crowd to the venue, estimated at over 5,000 adoring fans. Upon his return, Billy was approached by Ellen Rakieten and Relativity Entertainment and flew to Hollywood to develop a TV show based on the journey and the making of the album from the road.

On the cusp of super stardom, Billy has worked harder than ever on the songs for National Anthem, working with acclaimed producer Lu Rubino.
The new CD, set to release in February 2015, will feature 13 new songs, including the single Steal the Evening Sky, a duet with another rising star, Carly Jo Jackson. The official Itunes release will include a digital booklet with pictures and maps from Billy’s cross country journey, along with journal entries chronicling the stories behind the songs on the album.
Album cover art is being painted by Orlando artist, Maureen Robinson. A Billy Lord “Freedom” model guitar is also in development, to be manufactured by the Vargas Guitar Company.

A 2015 National Anthem tour is in the works and dates will be posted at www.reverbnation.com/billylord

 Lee Cherry Entertainment is currently working the single “Steal The Evening Sky”  to radio outlets which is rapidly gaining ground. Radio can find the single for download at airplayaccess.com

Eric Church’s Baby Boy: The Name Breakdown

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Eric Church’s second son, Tennessee Hawkins Church — little brother to Boone McCoy Church — is 3 months old now, but his name is going to be the coolest about six years from now.

During a recent interview on the syndicated Country Countdown USA radio show, the singer-songwriter talked about where the littlest Church’s name came from.

“Hawk was just something that kind of came to me,” Church explained. “We have a bunch of property out west of town, and I was out there one day, and honestly saw a hawk, as weird as that is, and I called my wife, and said, ‘Have you thought about Hawk?’”

He added that if he imagined himself at 6 years old, “Hawk” would be a very cool if name to have.

“It’s like a Top Gun fighter pilot,” he said of the boy’s nickname.

As for the first name Tennessee, Church says that comes from two places.

“I love Tennessee Williams, but also one of my favorite songs was by Don Williams, ‘Good Old Boys Like Me,’” he said. “It’s got that line in it — ‘Hank and Tennessee.’ It’s one of my favorite songs,” he said of the 1980 hit song that included the lyric, “I can still hear the soft Southern winds in the live oak trees/And those Williams boys they still mean a lot to me — Hank and Tennessee.”

Kenny Chesney’s Bus “Moby” Racks Up One Million Miles

Kenny Chesney tour bus odometer

“Talk about heavy. We were on Interstate 64 headed west, just passing exit 24 — and all those zeros just rolled over. It was a used Silver Eagle when I bought it — and the bank had no business lending me the money ‘cause all I owned was a little pickup and my guitar,” Chesney said. “But I knew if I owned my bus, we could keep doing this, keep bringing the music to the people.”

Mission accomplished.

2015 New Music Weekly Showcase Rocks Nashville

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Artists, Radio Programmers and Promoters were just some of the industry professionals joining the packed house at The New Music Weekly Showcase in Downtown Nashville on Thursday 2/26/2015 during CRS (Country Radio Seminar). Food, Spirits, Performances and Industry Connections made for a great time had by all. The special guest host was Morgan Alexander from WKDF Radio in Nashville. The live performances were second to none including Tom McClear & Friends, Morgan Riley, Matt Farris, Susan Hickman, Sarah Buss, Michael Easton, Dave Caley Amy Louise, Gary and Carol Bibb- also mingling in the crowd was Rugby Records newcomer Chad Pfeifer and charting performer D.A. Cole. For downloads of these artists singles for radio visit airplayaccess.com. A very special Thanks to Paul Loggins and staff for pulling off such a memorable logoevent. Next year’s event promises to be even bigger and better!

Country Artists Working Hard and Enjoying Family This Thanksgiving Weekend

Some country artists have more on their to-do lists than basting turkeys, making casseroles, and watching football this Thanksgiving holiday weekend. These artists will be busy performing and making appearances in Nashville and/or on national television. Meanwhile, others are taking full advantage of the downtime to indulge in some homemade cooking or trips to the beach.

• Lucy Hale, Cole Swindell, Meghan Trainor, Dan+Shay will all take part in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which airs at 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 27) on NBC.

• Lee Ann Womack will sing “The Star Spangled Banner” prior to the Dallas Cowboys game against the Philadelphia Eagles inside AT&T Stadium. The game will begin airing at 3:30 ET on FOX on Thanksgiving Day.

Kimberly Schlapman is encouraging Tweets to feed the hungry this holiday.

Miranda Lambert's Thanksgiving must-haves.

• Miranda Lambert is cooking for her crew this Thanksgiving. The star posted this pic on Facebook this afternoon. She recently celebrated the opening of Redemption Ranch, a no kill animal shelter in Tishomingo, OK and 12 animals were soon adopted.

• Sam Hunt is headed to Tallahassee, FL to perform at the Friday Night Block Party, the official tailgate event for Seminole fans before home football games.

• Kip Moore is touring this weekend, playing Friday in Detroit and Saturday in Cleveland.

• Carrie Underwood is hosting Thanksgiving dinner at her house with friends. Hubby Mike Fisher will be playing for the Nashville Predators that day, so she will be watching him on TV.

• Jamie Lynn Spears is hanging with her family in Louisiana over the Thanksgiving holiday, and will also visit her in-laws with husband Jamie Watson.

Getting a head start on Christmas, Brenda Lee will take part in the Country Music Hall of Fame’s annual lighting of the museum’s 30-foot Christmas tree in Nashville, and will offer a live performance. The event takes place Friday, Nov. 28.

Ronnie Milsap will celebrate the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Deck the Hall festivities with a performance on Saturday, Nov. 29 at 8 p.m.

Doug Briney And Delnora Reed To Perform At “American Pickers” Nashville Location

MTSdoug and DelnoraMTS Management Group is happy to announce Tate Music Group recording artist, Doug Briney will be performing at Antique Archaeology in Nashville, TN on Saturday, November 22nd, from 12:30-2:30pm.  Joining Doug for the free show, will be fellow Nashville-based artist,Delnora Reed. The venue has been featured on the popular History channel show, “American Pickers.”  Antique Archaeology is located at 1300 Clinton Street, #130, in Nashville.

Doug Briney is an Independent Country Music Association (ICoMA) and International Music and Entertainment Association (IMEA) Award Winner. His current album, Super Country Cowboy has received international airplay and chart success. The single, “Unknown Soldier” has helped raise funds for Operation Troop Aid, to benefit our veterans. Doug hosts regular songwriter nights at Uncommon Grounds in Old Hickory, TN, and he is also a pastor for a Nashville-area congregation.  For more information, visit http://www.dougbriney.com.

Delnora Reed has shared the stage with Craig Morgan, Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle, Marty Stewart, The Church Sisters, Eddie Stubbs, The Chuck Wagon Gang, Danielle Peck, Stella Parton, Georgette Jones, Paul Thorn, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Buddy Jewell, Leona Williams, Leonard Ahlstrom, Jason Deere, Jan Howard, Roy Clark, Jr., Jett Williams, Billy Yates, Buck Moore, Gary Duffey, Mark Alan Cash, Tommy Barnes, and many more.  She has just finished recording as a member of the trio The Shotgun Rubies for Grammy Award winner Carl Jackson’s latest project, “Orthophonic Joy – The 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited”, which is slated for a January 2015 release on Sony Records.  For more information, visit http://www.delnora.com.

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