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Smoke Out The Window: Rick Monroe On Finding Himself and His Signature Sound!

Smoke Out The Window: Rick Monroe On Finding Himself and His Signature Sound!

When the creative light bulb glows and an artist connects with their true calling, the true winners are their established audience and eager new fans. Such is the case for Rick Monroe, the seven-time Jägermeister Country Brand Ambassador who’s poised to share the expanded sonic palette found deep within the grooves of his most fully realized album to date, “Smoke Out the Window,” which cracks the lid on its release on September 21, 2018 via Thermal Entertainment.

From the raw grit of the opening track “Good as Gone” to the honky-tonk twang of “Truth in the Story” to the soulful testifying of “Rage On” to the sensitive revelations of “October,” “Smoke Out the Window” signals a powerful new direction for a man who has an unbridled passion for performing in front of audiences across the globe. In fact, in 2017, vocalist/guitarist Monroe and his ace touring band logged more than 120,000 miles and performed more than 170 shows as a result — proof they’re serious road dogs. “Honestly, everything we put into the making of this album has been gauged around what we do in our live show,” Monroe admitted. “The truth is, this record was developed because of our live show.”

At the heart of it, these 11 tracks of Smoke are the extension of Monroe’s stage presence, now unleashed in the studio environment, with the resulting music forging a category all its own. “I know we’re not up-the-gut mainstream country by any means — and I don’t even know what mainstream country even is anymore,” Monroe confessed. “I also know we’re not super-heavy rock either, so I’d like to call what we do blue-jean country rock. Fashions come and go, but blue jeans are a timeless statement that never fades — and that’s what I want my music to be.” Monroe’s ultimate goal is to be recognized as a multi-faceted performer whose name defines who he is as an artist.

It’s taken Monroe a lifetime of searching, stretching, and experimenting to make a record as solid as “Smoke,” but the results made the journey worthwhile. “Smoke Out the Window” shows a myriad of facets of an artist willing to share his innermost self with his audience. This is an album charting how Rick Monroe arrived, and how he may soon be headlining all those big arena and stadium stages across the country himself as a result. After all, where there’s Smoke, there’s fire — and for Rick Monroe the artist, the future burns bright.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Rick Monroe to get a glimpse inside his career, the challenges he has faced along the way, the making of “Smoke Out The Window” and what the future holds for him both short and long term. 

How did music come into your life and begin to take hold?

I don’t remember this, but my mom has always told me that she would always break to the beat of the songs when she was pregnant with me. I think that got into me somewhere along the line! She loved the classic rock stuff like Creedence Clearwater Revival and all that stuff. So, when I was growing up, that’s what I would listen to and got into early on. I started off playing drums when I was about 9 years old but then I realized that was just way too much gear to carry! [laughs] I said, “I want to see what this singer thing is like!” Eventually, I had to pick up the guitar because I wanted to start creating my own music and everything snowballed from there. I’ve been very fortunate because I don’t have any musicians in my family but my brother and my mom are both extremely big music fans! Their tastes were very eclectic. My brother would listen to everything from AC/DC to Garth Brooks to Hank Williams Jr. to Metallica and that kind of stuff. Meanwhile, my mom was a big Jim Croce fan, so I got exposed to a really good range of music as I grew up.

I don’t need to tell you a career in music is one of the most challenging things you can take on. What inspired you to take the plunge?

Um, being stupid! [laughs] Honestly, it’s just something that has evolved over time. It’s like getting up in the morning, breathing or walking! It’s just what I do! I didn’t think much about it but when I started playing it just felt like the right thing to do and it was something that I was good at! Like I said, I never really thought about it, I just kept developing my skills and moving forward.

When you hit the stage, you make it look easy. At what point did you come into your own as a performer?

That’s something that’s still a work in progress. You’re always trying to get better and more adept at what you’re doing. There are certain stages I remember going through where I was able to calm down enough onstage to not get super tight, which allows you to sing a little better. There are definitely plateaus you hit but there is always something to work on and a new level to try to get to.

What were the biggest obstacles you faced and overcame early on in your career?

I think that there is just so much noise and other stuff out there that you have to find a way to peek out around all of that. That’s difficult because people are willing to do almost anything to be noticed. You have to find a way to stay legitimate, stay in your own lane but still become relevant. It’s difficult, especially as a songwriter and you want to promote yourself and the stuff you write, when you go into a club and the bar owner says, “We want 90% covers.” That can be difficult. I’m not knocking covers because some of the biggest cover bands in the world are Led Zeppelin, Joe Cocker and the Beatles. They all covered stuff! That was always a difficult thing; keeping your ego in check and realize that you’re there to entertain people and not to just be about your own thing.

Rick Monroe is one of the hardest working men in music.

What are the keys to success in the music business?

I think it comes down to doing this because you love to do it. Play music because you love to play music, if nothing else. If you’re in it for that reason, then you will always be successful. Careers go up and down. You’re going to encounter both good things and bad things along the way. It’s a long, winding, wavy road. As long as you’re doing it because you love it, I think you’re going to be successful in that sense. What is success? To me, success is the fact that I pay my mortgage playing music, so in my mind, I’m successful. Let me tell you about one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received. Someone asked me, “Do you want to be famous or do you want to be successful?” He said, “I’ll work with you based on your answer?” I said, “Well, I want to be successful.” He said, “That’s the right answer because fame is fleeting but success is a consistent career that actually generates income and keeps you doing what you love to do.” That is something that has always stuck with me.

You are driven when it comes to your career and body of work. What fuels your creative fire?

It’s really just having the ability to try and create something that’s going to connect with people. There’s nothing better than sitting around my coffee table writing down ideas, meeting with the guys and showing it to them. The next thing you know we’re cutting it and actually listening to it! To get to see that happen is amazing! Then to have someone you’ve never met from the opposite side of the world say, “Man, I really love this song for this reason … .” That’s one of the coolest things in the world! There are also those moments when you’re on stage singing it and even if the audience doesn’t know the first chorus by the time the second chorus comes around you find everyone is singing along with you. That means you’ve connected with them. That’s another thing that really drives you!

What goes into the daily grind of keeping your career moving forward?

It always varies. One of the blessings and curses is that there is no formula. If there was a formula, then everyone would adhere to that formula and be very successful. Literally every day it’s something new. Every day you have to create the next step. If you’re a doctor, you go to school and get your degree before you can say, “I’m a doctor.” As a musician, every day you find yourself saying, “I’m a musician but we need to find the way to promote this. We need to find a way to promote that.” You find yourself constantly changing hats, reinventing your situation and trying to find new avenues. It definitely keeps you on your toes.

Your new album “Smoke Out the Window” is to be released September 21 via Thermal Entertainment. Tell us about your creative headspace going into the process.

The funny this is that we had just finished an EP called “Gypsy Soul.” We put out a single and it was doing fairly well in the secondary market. As we started touring on that, the song “Gypsy Soul” really started to resonate. As we kept playing that and playing that, we started to realize that was the core to our sound as a band. At that point, we started looking at the rest of the stuff we’d done and said, “I think we’ve missed the mark up until now. I think we found what we’ve been looking for!” I went to my buddy, who had also cut a song called “Rage On,” and said, “Hey, between these two songs, I want to do an entire project within those parameters.” He said, “Let’s go cut some stuff!” His name is JD Shuff and he has a studio. This guy is a phenomenal drummer and everything else. He’s a total musician genius! We just started working out some ideas and trying different things. I used my touring guys, which is different because a lot of times in Nashville you use your studio guys. I use the guys who toured with me because they knew the material. We started picking songs that we were playing live, but we had never recorded. That’s where we started really drilling in on that idea and sound. Everything really started to come together! We only intended to do an EP but, as we were recording, we found ourselves saying, “This sounds really good! Let’s keep going!” We ended up with an 11-song LP, which I’m really excited about. It’s the first time I’ve done that in years!

Tell us about your songwriting process. How has it changed through the years and how does it relate to this album?

Before I moved to Nashville I used to write by myself a lot. I wrote almost exclusively by myself, aside from one or two songs with other people. When I came to Nashville, I got very much involved in the co-write. I’ve had about 10 or 12 songs cut by artists. Nothing of notoriety yet but they keep cutting, which is awesome! On this record, I started to go backward in terms of writing by myself. I wanted to be really particular about who I wrote with because I wanted a certain feel. I wrote a couple of songs by myself, a couple with JD and one with JD and my bass player. Ya know, it’s always different. Sometimes I will sit down, and I can’t pick up a guitar without getting a melody idea. I always have a stream of melody ideas and I will record them, so if I have a writing meeting I can pop them out and say, “Check this out!” Anyway I might work by hearing a phase. For example, the song “Great Minds Drink Alike” was on one of the last records. That’s a phrase that just needs to be a song! I couldn’t believe it wasn’t a song already, so we wrote it! [laughs] I might hear a phrase on TV, hear somebody say something or get a melody in my head. There are times when I’m in the writing room and I can’t think of something and someone else comes up with a unique idea that I can grow off of and help something come out of that. It’s always different!

Rick Monroe

What did producer JD Shuff and the players on the project bring out in you creatively?

Oh, man! They brought a lot to the table. Their parts played a huge role in developing the sounds. The guitar player came up with some riffs that we would’ve never come up with. I don’t even think a session player would have come up with them. We had the opportunity to sit, think and relax while going through the process. It wasn’t like we were on the clock at a studio where you are constantly in a hurry. It was almost like that record Sheryl Crow did when she started getting together with her friends every Tuesday night. That was kind of what this record was like. I would say, “Hey, I’m available Wednesday. Let’s go in and see what we’ve got!” We’d go in, all in one room, and cut a couple of ideas. We’d say, “Oh that sounds cool” and then slowly build on that. We did that throughout the course of the process.

The very last song we wrote, “Truth In The Story,” we actually wrote in the studio. A lot of these songs I had already written and brought to them. With this song, I had two choices. I had a song that I wrote with Royal Bliss called “Life’s a One Way Road.” They cut it and sent me the stems. I just said, “I’m just gonna go ahead and put my vocal on it and will put that as the 11th track.” The producer said, “Ya know, it’s a great song and it’s really cool but could we try something else? Let’s try something.” So, we sat there, and he started with this drum groove. I said, “Woah, man! That’s weird! I have this riff that I wrote this morning that goes with it.” I started humming it to him and he was like, “That’s it!” We wrote it, cut it and it was done in one day! If I could just go and spend a couple of months in a studio with that same group of guys — it would be the best thing in the world! I can’t imagine what we’d come up with!

You hear artists talk about songs coming easy and others being harder to nail down. Was that the case with these songs?

Yeah, that’s always the case! “Cocaine Cold and Whiskey Shakes” was a pretty easy song. I try to get a bunch of different people to write it with me. I kept saying, “I’ve got a great title! It’s really cool and it’s going to be a nice edgy thing.” Everyone was like, “Yeah, I don’t know if I want to deal with that subject matter.” I was like, “It’s not glorifying it. It’s about a guy who’s at his wits end.” One day, I just said screw it and sat down and wrote it! I felt bad because my nephew was doing his homework while I was writing it! [laughs] He was like, “Mom! Rick’s writing a song about cocaine!” [laughs] I also wrote the song, “October.” It’s funny because it’s both one of the easiest and hardest songs I’ve written. Not to get overly heavy on the situation but my brother had been diagnosed with throat cancer and he had told me that within six months he would be gone because of their diagnosis. That would have been October. I sat down and wrote the entire song right away. It just poured out of me. My brother is still alive, thank God, and fighting! That song kind of looms over me and it’s very personal. This record has a lot more personal stuff since we picked the material, as opposed to having a producer coming in and picking songs. We all did it as a group and I think it ended up being more personal that way.

In terms of life post-release of “Smoke Out The Window,” what are you looking at both short and long term?

Short term, we’re hoping to break through all of the noise and have people actually hear the record. I believe in my heart that if people hear the record, they will hear the heart and soul we put into it. That’s the one thing I know for a fact — everybody that played on this record poured everything they had into this record. Even the hired guns! For example, we had Lee Turner come in and play keys. He plays with Darius Rucker and is a high-profile player. He was writing me and going, “Dude, I love this song. It’s some of the best stuff that I’ve worked on. “Truth In The Story” gave me a workout!” [laughs] I think that everyone genuinely put their heart and soul into this. I hope that beyond the business crap and everything else that we can get it to the people and have them make the decision on it. That’s the hardest thing about this industry. You might have direct marketing and a direct connection with people, but it is still hard for them to actually take the time and listen. Once they listen, you got them! So, the short-term plan is to get it out there and get them to listen. Hopefully, by doing that, the long term will come more into focus. The long term is getting out there, touring on it, growing our fanbase and creating more music in the same vein as what we’re doing. It took me a really long time as an artist to find our sound. I honestly think that this is the closest I’ve ever been to being on top of it.

“Smoke Out The Window” will be released on September 21st, 2018.

Obviously, we focused on the new album today. Is there anything from your recent past that fans should dig into as well?

Like I said, “Gypsy Soul” is the other record that’s out there. We did some great stuff on that one like “It’s A Love Thing.” We also have a song called “Just The Same,” which is a ballad. The sad thing is that this is one of those “Music Industry 101” things. We got it done, shot an amazing video and just as we were about to launch it to radio, the record label went belly up. I think it is one of the nicest looking videos I’ve ever done that has a great storyline to go along with the song. I think this song was really strong and it got nominated for a bunch of Grammys. It made it to the first or second round. It was a great song and I was really excited about it, but it just wasn’t meant to be. It was like, “Wah wahhh wahhh!” [laughs] It’s funny, in the song “Truth In The Story,” at the end of the song the whole thing is “The only thing I know how to do is this. It is what it is.” Honestly, that has to become your mantra in this business! There’s another good one in “Smoke Out The Window.” It says, “What don’t kill you is going to leave a mark and your skin gets thicker with every scar.” You’ve just gotta let it roll like smoke out the window and keep going!

Looking back on your career, how have you most evolved?

Growth is inevitable! Hopefully, you are going to grow every day and every experience you have has an impact on you. My friend summed it up in the best way, “Life experiences are like upgrades. You really can’t see them but they’re there.” By that I mean, when you upgrade something on your computer, you keep upgrading and things get a little bit different. The sound gets turned down a bit, life gets a little more defocused and all these things. It’s a subtle process that happens over time. I’m hoping that’s been happening with me with the amount of touring we have been doing and the focus that we are putting into this work.

I was blown away by the amount of touring you do. You logged a tremendous number of miles and shows under your belt. I imagine you learn a lot from those experiences as well.

Completely! I’m the guy who befriends every crew person, finds out what they do, watch them and hang out with them. I will also sit in the production room and listen. The good thing is that I could probably run a full-blown tour at this point at almost any level because of the knowledge I’ve been able to pick up on the way. I’ve also learned a lot from working guys like Eric Church, Lee Brice and Dierks Bentley. Those guys bring it every night no matter what! Even if the crowd might not have been what they thought; good, bad or indifferent, it never mattered. They always brought the best show that they can. That’s something I really respected and something I learned from them. I learned that you need to find your niche, do your thing and give it your all! Those guys do that!

You have to be excited to be able to get out there and perform this new album for the fans.

Yeah, I really am. The one good thing is that we’ve really had the opportunity for the last year-and-a-half to play a lot of the songs for people. These songs have already had a good opportunity to be out there and start getting into people’s heads. A lot of times I found myself thinking, “Is that on our record?” Now, I’m like, “It will be!” So, it will be good to see people get it and then hopefully it will spur its own growth. We just joined forces with Thermal Entertainment, which is a new thing for us. Right now, with us adjusting agents, the future is pretty wide open, and we don’t have a ton of plans. We are picking up as many shows as we can along the way and trying to get a game plan for where it goes. Again, hopefully we get some inertia out of the record itself which will start pushing us toward some other things!

Did you find the material evolving in the live setting?

Oh, they always evolve, and the will probably continue to evolve somewhat. If you come see us play “Gypsy Soul,” it’s a completely different song than what is on the record because we ended up adding solos and a bunch of stuff. We’ve learned how to work into these songs and get more of the feel and life of the song, so that definitely starts to change up the basic makeup of the song. The heart and soul is still there but you definitely start to change things a little bit here and there. Plus, it depends on what musicians we have when we are out. Sometimes, we just travel as me on guitar, guitar player, bass player and drummer. So, we have to make up for missing tones because we don’t have the keys. We don’t sample. At this point we don’t do any kind of tracking, so it’s probably more raw sounding off the record.

Rick Monroe on the road.

I can tell you are an artist who is constantly looking to the future. Where are you in regards to new music?

I’m always writing! Actually, I’ve already started getting the troops together to go back in and do some more recording. I think we’re onto something and once we’re on to something, I don’t ever want to let it go. I’ve already got a couple of songs that I’ve been playing with everybody that they’re all really excited about, so we’re going to get back in and keep cutting! That’s the thing about nowadays, content … I hate to call it that, but people want content. If you can keep producing music that people are enjoying you can keep putting it out there. Obviously, we’re doing things a little bit more traditionally but there are so many different avenues these days to do things in a nontraditional way as well. We will see how all that works!

What’s the best way for fans of your music to help support you at this stage in your career?

They can go to any of the big music outlets to get the album. Thermal Entertainment has it for sale as well. If you go to www.rickmonroe.com, there is splash page with all of my stuff. It also has links to all my social media as well. I wrote all my social media and I don’t have anyone else who does it, so if you get in touch with me, you get in touch with me! I’m the one who’s putting up all the stupid videos and everything that we do! That’s me! [laughs] We try to keep it entertaining, especially on Instagram and stuff. I can’t stress enough how important it is — if you really love a band, you really need to get out there and promote that band. It’s more important now than ever. Radio is a dodgy thing, as are the video channels. Nothing is like it used to be. Without fans, friends and family really going out and spreading the word it’s very hard to get the word out. No matter how much things change you can’t get past the fact that word-of-mouth is the most valuable thing in the world. It’s one of the best feelings in the world knowing that people are out there spreading the word for word of mouth because that’s when people truly get interested. So, if you support or love a band, get out there and be a warrior for them! If you want them to keep making music that’s the one thing you can do as a fan or a friend that will make their journey continue on for years to come.

I don’t know how often you get told but you’re doing some amazing work and it’s really inspiring to see! Kudos to you!

Well, thank you very much! Not often enough! [laughs]

I had a feeling that might be the case! [laughs]

It’s much appreciated! Like I said, I think I do it for all the right reasons. I try to keep my head down and keep moving forward. I know what the reality of life is — we don’t cure cancer and we don’t save lives. We just play music and try to make the world a better place! As long as I can stay in that lane and keep my head about me, I think I’ll be fine!

I can’t wait to see where this journey takes you, Rick! Thanks again for your time today. I look forward to spreading the word on everything you have going on!

Thanks, Jason! I really appreciate it!

For the latest news and dates for Rick Monroe, visit his official website at www.rickmonroe.com. Connect with him on social media via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. “Smoke Out The Window” hits all music retails on September 21, 2018 via Thermal Entertainment.

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BUCKSHOT: Check Out An Exclusive Clip From Joshua J. Smith’s Country Music Comedy

BUCKSHOT: Check Out An Exclusive Clip From Joshua J. Smith’s Country Music Comedy

Check out an exclusive clip of Joshua J. Smith’s ‘Buckshot.’ The film follows Charlie Stillman (Conor Murphy, “The Good Place”), a struggling country singer from New Jersey, who journeys to Nashville to follow in his late father’s footsteps and become a country music star. But when his father’s checkered past derails his chances, his only job offer is to drive Buckshot Thomas (Tim deZarn, The Cabin in the Woods), an aging, hard-living, honky-tonk legend, cross-country to his final concert. Along the way, the two men forge a rare friendship that could change both their lives forever.

‘Buckshot’ features an amazing collection of artists – such as Sickstring Outlaws featuring Ron Houston and Cecil Allen “Peewee” Moore – who celebrate the spirit and sound of Outlaw Country Music.

‘Buckshot’ will be released wide on demand July 31.

Joshua J. Smith wrote and directed Buckshot in addition to serving as a Producer alongside Tim deZarn. Justin Corsbie and Allyssa M. Smith are the Executive Producers. Buckshot concluded its 2017 festival run with five awards including “Best Feature” and “Best Actor” (Tim deZarn) at the Culver City Film Festival, “People’s Choice Award” at the Rockport Film Festival, as well as “Best Director” (Joshua J. Smith) and “Best Actor” (Tim deZarn) at the Marina Del Rey Film Festival.

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BLAZING A TRAIL: Country Artist Cole Bradley Discusses His Blossoming Career!

BLAZING A TRAIL: Country Artist Cole Bradley Discusses His Blossoming Career!

Cole Bradley is a true star on the rise in the world of country music.

Country singer and songwriter, Cole Bradley, is an up and coming contender in the North American music scene. Growing up listening to the likes of Kenny Chesney, Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw, Bradley first graced the stage at the young age of five. Since then, Cole has fostered a passion for performing and sharing his music with others. Much like Bradley himself, his songs are upbeat, positive and full of life. He is a natural entertainer with an infectious energy. His unique vocals and his edgy country sound, make his music fresh and original. Whether he is belting out a rowdy party anthem or a heartfelt ballad, he is able to captivate fans of all ages with his sense of humor, warmth and honest songwriting.

Bradley has had the privilege of working with world class producers and writers in Canada, Nashville and Los Angeles and has opened for various country music entertainers including Thomas Rhett, High Valley, Chad Brownlee, and Brett Kissel. Prior to making the move to Nashville, Bradley was chosen as a finalist in the inaugural year of Project Wild, one of Canada’s biggest artist development programs and was also nominated for Fan’s Choice at the Alberta Country Music Association Awards. Since his move to Nashville, Bradley has continued to work on the craft of songwriting while playing at local venues including the historic Bluebird Cafe where he made his debut in September 2017 and played again in February 2018, happily returning to play for the attentive audiences for which the The Bluebird is famous.

Cole Bradley just released a brand new single — “Happy Hour.” Written with co-writers Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, Sandy Chila, and Alex Dezen, the track serves as a great introduction to his captivating voice and positive vibes and is sure to be  the party anthem for the summer of 2018! If you’re in Nashville for CMA Fest, you can catch him performing live on June 7th at The Local and at The Bluebird Cafe on June 8th. 

Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Cole Bradley for a quick Q&A. In the interview, he offers up an inside look at his blossoming career, his passion for songwriting and everything he has cookin’ for us in the months to come!

There is no doubt that music is your true love, so let’s start at the beginning. What are you first memories of music?

My first memory is dancing around the living room at the age of two with my grandad listening to “Penny Lane” by the Beatles. He passed away not too long after so it’s very special to me; it’s one of my first memories of him and my first memories of music. The other memory is singing along in the backseat of my mama’s Toyota at the age of three listening to Garth Brook’s Greatest Hit’s record.

What can you tell us about the process of finding your creative voice as a young artist?

I’m not going to lie, it took some time. I think it’s all about experiencing life and trying to tell your story in a unique way. I was lucky that I had some music mentors growing up that helped guide me on my path.

Dedicating yourself fully to your art is a big step. Did you ever have any reservations about taking the plunge?

Oh, for sure! Any artist who didn’t is definitely lucky. Anything you do in life is a risk, especially in the music industry. But the “highs” overpower the “lows” so I wouldn’t change my path because every success story and failure has shaped me into the artist I am today.

Cole Bradley

Who were some of the performers and people behind the scenes who helped to shape the artist we see today?

I love this question. Two performers that helped shape me into who I am today are Michael Bernard Fitzgerald and Andrew Allen. Both of these artists have had great success in North America playing big venues, selling tons of records etc. These men saw something in a fourteen your old kid and gave me so many opportunities and taught me so much. Other people behind the scenes are of course my family and friends who have been there from day one, my producer Sandy Chila and manager Leslie Mitchell.

You are clearly very driven when it comes to your career. What has kept you inspired throughout the years as an artist and fueled your creative fire?

The music. Good music. Great songwriting. There are so many talented people in this industry and they just make you want to push harder and improve your craft. You can never stop learning in this business and I’ve been lucky to have surrounded myself with people who also want to be better.

For those who may be reading this before hearing your work, how would you describe the sound you have created?

We have a country music sound that isn’t afraid to go outside the boundaries. All our writing is honest and comes from the heart (which is country music) but we aren’t afraid to do different things on the production side. Whether it be a unique bass groove or percussion, we want to be unique in the way we’re telling our story.

Where do you find yourself looking for inspiration when it comes to the music you are making?

From real life experiences. If I can live what I’m writing about, the song will be special.

What can you tell us about the songwriting process for your music?

It differs on every song and who I am writing with. Sometimes we will start with a lyrical idea or melody and other times we’ll start with the music. There’s no real structure in a songwriting session and that’s what makes writing songs so fun!

What was the first song you ever wrote?

First song I ever wrote was one called “Can’t Stop.” I was ten years old and I wrote it about my first crush. Looking back, it’s kind of embarrassing but it’s also pretty cool to see how far my writing has come!

You’re originally from Western Canada but relocated to Nashville. How did making that transition impact you as an artist?

It was a big transition yet small in some ways. Obviously, in Nashville everyone is trying to be an artist so in that way it can be a little overwhelming. Yet the people are so kind and the city itself has a great atmosphere so it’s very similar to where I’m from in Canada in that way.

You’ve come a long way in a short time. What do you consider your biggest milestones along the way?

Well, thank you. I’ve been lucky enough to open for some super great acts along the way including Thomas Rhett, and High Valley so to share those stages was definitely special. I’ve been lucky enough to play some very historic venues like the Bluebird Café. But the biggest milestone would be the first time I heard a big crowd sing my songs back to me when I was on stage.  This journey has been so much fun, but I understand that there is still a LONG way to go!

I’m sure you have a busy summer ahead when it comes to performances. Going all the way back to your early years, what do you remember about the first time you steeped on stage to perform to a crowd?

It started at singing recitals and I always knew I had a love for performing. I remember just wanting people to hear me and the story I was trying to tell. It’s funny because I still have the same goal performing today as I did back then: to make people happy through my music.

What excites you the most about being a part of the country music scene in 2018?

What I love about the country music scene is how there’s room for all kinds of artists in the business. Whether it’s a down-home, soulful country act like Chris Stapleton or a guy like Sam Hunt who isn’t afraid to try something new – I like how country music is inclusive!

What are you currently listening to for inspiration and what songs are your guilty pleasures?

For me, I’m always looking to my heroes for inspiration. That includes Kenny Chesney, Garth Brooks, and U2. Man, there are so many songs but “The Good Stuff”, “Just To See You Smile”, and “Standing Outside The Fire” have to be my guilty pleasures.

You have been a busy guy this year. What can we expect from you musically in the months to come?

We just started releasing new music a month ago and you can expect a new record sometime soon! It’s exciting – we started working on this new record in 2016 so I’m so glad to finally be sharing these new songs with my fans.

What is the best way for fans to help support you at this stage in your career?

Two things: to listen/share the music and show support on social media. It means the world to have people listen to my songs and to spread the word. Social media following is also key in today’s music world so if people can follow the social’s – that helps out so much.

You’ve got a great social media presence and we can get little glimpses into your world there. What do you think people would be most surprised to find out about you?

When I am not doing music, I just love doing the “simple things” in life. Whether it’s having a beer with my friends, watching a hockey game with my dad or working out – I enjoy just hanging with the people I care about most. I’m a pretty normal guy!

You can serve as a great inspiration for so many aspiring artists and young people. What is the best lesson we can take away from your journey so far?

A musical mentor of mine once told me “Take care of the music and the rest will sort itself out”. It’s easy for an artist to lose sight of their “craft” by getting too stressed out by the business side of things and that whole whirlwind. But if an artist takes care of the music, the writing and the live show – I believe all the other stuff will work out.

I always like to ask if there are any special or organizations you might be involved with that we can help shine a light on. 

I’ve done some work with an organization called Community Kitchens of Calgary back home in Canada. The people at this organization work to tackle hunger thorough a series of great programs in the community. The work they do is inspiring!

Visit Cole Bradley’s official website at www.PlayItCole.com. Connect with him on social media via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!

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THE OUTSIDER: Jesse Dayton On Life, The Road & The Making of His New Album!

THE OUTSIDER: Jesse Dayton On Life, The Road & The Making of His New Album!

Jesse Dayton’s story reads like a who’s who of American music. Want to talk about being “born into it”? Imagine a 15-year-old kid born and raised on the Texas/Louisiana border, playing his Telecaster guitar in all-black zydeco bands in Lake Charles, Louisiana; honky-tonk country bands with members left over from the Starday Records’ George Jones days around his hometown of Beaumont, Texas. Dayton was underage and sneaking into night clubs to play shows ’til 3am with east Texas blues legend Little Mack Minor (cousin of Lightning Hopkins and Mance Liscomb), until eventually he was spotted by Gulf Coast hit producer Huey P. Meaux. Mr. Meaux approached Dayton and asked him to record with zydeco star Rockin Dopsey at Houston’s hit factory, Sugarhill Studios. And the story just keeps getting better.

As he enters early adulthood, Dayton begins packing clubs and theaters on the Texas scene with his trio in Houston, Dallas, and Austin. He records his first solo record titled “Raisin’ Cain” for Justice Records with featured guest luminaries, Doug Sahm, Flaco Jiminez and Johnny Gimble that hits Number 1 on the Americana Radio Charts. Jesse tours around the world opening for punk legends Social Distortion, The Supersuckers and X. Jesse is then asked to help arrange and play guitar on The Supersuckers biggest selling record, “Must’ve Been High.” While in Nashville doing press, Waylon Jennings spots him on Nashville TV show ‘Crook & Chase’ and calls Jesse out of the blue at his hotel to play lead guitar on his record, “Right for The Time.” Dayton blows off his flight back to Austin, heads to Woodland Studios where Waylon has sent a car for him, and knocks on the door. Johnny Cash answers it and says, “we’ve been waiting for you.” This leads to Dayton recording guitars on records and film with Cash, Ray Price, Willie Nelson, Johnny Bush and Glen Campbell.

While Dayton is ignored by mainstream country radio, his cult following in the US and Europe continues to grow. A whole new crowd of Americana listening room folks, young college alternative rock fans & disenfranchised aging punk rockers embrace him. He embarks on headlining tours without any tour support from a label.

Just when you thought the story couldn’t get any cooler, horror director/rockstar, Rob Zombie hears Dayton’s record at a party, hunts him down, and calls him to write and record a soundtrack for his film ‘The Devils Rejects’ which lands him in Rolling Stone magazine. Then they co-write songs for Rob’s follow up franchise film, ‘Halloween 2’ (which Dayton appears in playing the part of character ‘Captain Clegg’). Then Dayton writes and records songs for a thirdRob Zombie film (this one animated) titled, ’The Haunted World of El Super Beasto.’ After years of pounding the pavement day-in and day-out, Jesse buys a house in Austin, and heads back on tour in his 40-foot redneck RV with his band of hillbilly punks.

Dayton has had over 50 songs licensed to film and television and even ended up writing and directing a horror film shot in New Orleans called ‘Zombex’ starring Malcolm McDowell, Sid Haig, Lew Temple from Walking Dead and John Doe from the band X. The film was sold to a distributor and got a theatrical release. After stockpiling songs during his film work, he heads into the studio to record “The Revealer” (back where it all started at Sugarhill Studios in Houston), and the first single “Daddy Was A Badass” becomes a hit on SiriusXM’s Outlaw Country channel. As this is happening, Dayton gets a call from the aforementioned, John Doe and is asked to fill in for guitarist Billy Zoom on 40-city U.S. tour with the original line-up of iconic punk band X while Zoom was taking time away from the band to undergo cancer treatment.

Jesse Dayton has been on tour non-stop for four years all over the US and Europe. His new record “The Outsider” was literally recorded while on tour in Atlanta, Denver, Nashville and Austin and mixed by Grammy Award winning engineer/producer Vance Powell (who has worked with the likes of Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell and Jack White). About “The Outsider” Dayton says, “It’s a lot like ‘The Revealer’, but even more stripped down with some sweet acoustic guitar songs and some raw electric guitar work”. All the influences are there; the George Jones-inspired singing on “Changin’ My Ways,” the Outlaw country twang of Waylon and Jerry Reed on “Belly of the Beast,” the angst and energy of The Clash and X on hillbilly protest song “ Charlottesville,” and the deep east Texas blues and Cajun rockabilly of “May Have To Do It” and “Hurtin Behind The Pine Curtain.” While there are many different sides to him musically, this all rolls into one big hybrid that Jesse Dayton has been honing for over 20 years.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Jesse Dayton to discuss his life in music, the moments that have impacted him as an artist and the making of his latest album, ‘The Outsider.’

I wanted to start by giving everyone an idea of where you came from musically. How did music come into your life and begin to take hold?

I was thinking about this the other day for the first time. I mean, really, the first time! The three things I distinctly remember are these – First, I remember falling asleep in a coat rack in a honky tonk and Johnny Bush and Willie Nelson were playing! That’s one of my first memories of music. I was a little bitty kid and I couldn’t stay up and I would fall asleep, so they brought me back to the coat racks where I fell asleep on the coats! Another one was seeing Chuck Berry on “The Tonight Show” doing the duck walk. That just blew me away! I was like, “Man, I’ve got to do that!” [laughs] Then, I also remember putting a Beatles 45, which was my older sister’s, on the record player for the very first time as a toddler. I remember the Apple label! In our house, we had mandatory piano lessons. The folks were the first ones to make it out of the oil field and they became pseudo-academics in terms of their college education, they went and studied. They were trying to bring their kids up like that, so we all had to take piano. I thought that was boring! I wanted to play Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” but instead I was playing Chopin or something! [laughs] Then I got a drum set — a 1966 Ludwig Blue Sparkle set. It’s still in my parent’s attic in Beaumont, Texas! I was a little drummer boy who used to go play with all of these old country bands. They would give me 20 bucks. I met this guy named Granville Cleveland. What a great name, huh? [laughs] He had played with Johnny Edgar’s White Trash Blues Band. Johnny and Edgar are from my hometown and they lived about 2 blocks away from me. When he found out I was from Beaumont, he gave me some guitar lessons. He kind of showed me where to put my fingers and from there I was off and running! I had a gig 3 months later! That was the first thing! The first three songs I learned on the guitar were “Hey, Hey, My, My” by Neil Young, “Hey Good Lookin'” by Hank Williams and “Hey Joe” by Jimi Hendrix. I call ’em the three heys! [laughs] That was the beginning, man! Once I learned to play the guitar, I was like, “Uhhh, I’m not going to let this fat redneck coach on the baseball team ever yell at me again. I’m done with you guys.” I never looked back.

Jesse Dayton: A True Outlaw

The life of musician isn’t an easy road to take. When did you decide to pursue your passion as a profession?

It’s tough to be a musician and make a living. It doesn’t matter who you are, from Elvis to Keith Richards. I just kept getting opportunities to play. When I first started playing guitar, it came to me super quick. I was a really horrible 3rd baseman on the baseball team but I could play guitar! People in school started to say, “Hey, why don’t we get Jesse to play at our party?” So, naturally, I would play guitar and sing. Opportunities just kept happening for me. It’s crazy! There’s a famous producer, who produced all the Doug Sahm stuff and all of the Freddy Fender stuff like “Before The Last Teardrop Falls” and “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights.” I went to Houston and I bugged him to get free studio time. He put me on a Zydeco record by a guy named Rockin’ Dopsie. I was literally the only white boy on the session.

Things like that just kept happening. Waylon saw me on a little TV show. I’m not sure if I’ve ever told you that but that was kind of the beginning of me saying, “Okay, I’m a guitar player.” This big-time publicist in Nashville by the name of Evelyn Schriever saw me play at the Continental Club in Austin when I was super young. She said, “I want to get you on this TV show in Nashville.” Keep in mind, I didn’t have a record deal or any support system. I drove my truck up to Nashville and got on this cheesy Nashville show with all these guys with mullets. It was kind of the beginning of bro-country, and I didn’t fit in at all. Kris Kristofferson was on the show that night, so I met him and he was super cool. We hung out, I did my song and he did his song. I was like, “Okay, I’ll just drive back to Austin. At the very least, I got to meet Kristofferson!”

The next morning, my phone rings. I’m staying out in the bricks, because I can’t even afford to stay by Music Row where the action is. I answer the phone and this voice says, “Hey Hoss, I saw you on TV last night with Kris. I cut my finger last night cookin’ with Jessi Colter. You wanna come out and play guitar for me?” He said, “This is Waylon Jennings.” I just stared at the phone for a while! [laughs] I snapped back into it and said, “I’ll be right over.” He said, “Come to Woodland Studio. Get a cab and I’ll pay for it.” I go over there and knock on the door. The door opens and it’s The Man in Black, Johnny Cash, standing right there! I’m standing there with my mouth wide open! [laughs] He says, “We’ve been waiting for you. Come on in!” If you Google “Jesse Dayton, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings,” footage from that day comes up! They were older then, so they had film crews following them incessantly because it was like when dinosaurs walked the Earth! It was like, “Yeah, we need to get footage!” They were filming them constantly! Some of that footage got leaked and there I am — playing guitar with both of them! We had a great time and they made me feel super comfortable. Two weeks later, Waylon called me and said, “Hey, do you want to play guitar on my new record?” I was like, “Of course!” That kind of started it and I went on to play on some Willie Nelson tracks, Johnny Bush tracks, and the whole Waylon record. I also cut some stuff with Glen Campbell. I played on the whole Ray Price record and that’s what started my career. That’s how I got going!

There is no doubt that you’re one hell of a guitar player. When do you feel you really came into your own as a performer and songwriter?

Well, I wrote some songs and I got a publishing deal. They put me on a monthly draw and that led to getting a record deal. I always felt pretty confident with my voice. Even early on, I had gigs where I was like, “Okay, I’m gonna get up there and sing tonight!” I’d rip through 30 classic country songs. We’d all make a couple hundred bucks and go home. So, I knew I could do that. When I got offered a record deal, that’s kind of when it started. To have a record with pedal steel, fiddles and all that, at the time was pretty rare. Now, you can’t swing a dead cat in East Nashville without seeing somebody in a Nudie suit playing traditional country. This was before Hank III and before Mike Ness put his solo country record out. I was doing it really early and people just did not know what to think! I couldn’t go out on tour with any of the bands from Nashville because they didn’t get it. They were way to square to understand it. They were like, “What’s this? Why is he playing this old, 1960s honky tonk stuff?” That led to me going out with punk bands! I went out with Social Distortion, X, Supersuckers and a bunch of other people. Unknowingly, I started to build this cult following that carries on to this day!

In your time in the business, you’ve seen the music industry change exponentially. What do you consider the keys to longevity?

For me, diversifying has been a big way of sustaining my career. For example, creating new revenue streams through things that I’m actually good at. I do all kinds of stuff! A big thing for me that really helped my career was when a friend of mine introduced me to Rob Zombie. Rob Zombie called me and said, “Hey, we’re making a white trash horror movie called “The Devil’s Rejects” and we’d like you to do the music. We want this kind of 70s, hillbilly crazy stuff.” That was the second movie he had made, and it was a big deal. A lot of the critics didn’t get it because they didn’t realize he was doing this B-movie-esque, Roger Corman-esque type of thing, which was very 70s. What was so cool about it was that the movie studio was behind it. I mean, no matter how great a director Marty Scorsese is, he’s never sold millions of records! [laughs] Rob had, so when I put this soundtrack out and I had the publishing on the songs, it did really well for me. It helped me tremendously! It helped me reinvent myself. I went on and did three films with him, and I even ended up writing and directing a film called “Zombex” starring Malcolm McDowell. That helped pad my financial situation, so I could get in an RV, go out on the road with the guys and not freak out if we bombed in Boise or if we sold out in Denver!

That leads us to your new album, “The Outsider.” What can you tell us about the headspace you were in on this one?

This record was recorded on the road. It was recorded on tour and a lot of those classic 70s rock records and country stuff that was coming out of California were done that way because they were traveling all the time. On this record, there were two songs done in Atlanta, two in Denver, 3 songs in Austin and 4 songs in Nashville. What I wanted to do, to keep the record cohesive and have a thread running through it, was strip the whole thing down and build it around my guitar. There is barely any pedal steel or fiddle on it. When we’re playing country stuff, stripped down like that, it’s more of a Jerry Reed thing. It has this kind of southern 70s vibe to it and that’s what I wanted to go for. I wanted to create that vibe because it’s something I love! I love those Jerry Reed, Tommy Joe White, and Bobbie Gentry records. I’m really happy with this record and I can’t wait for people to hear it! It’s a real hybrid thing! We’re not trying to be a perfect recreation of Buck Owens and The Buckaroos or anything like that. There is some of that in it, but it also has some different influences like blues, folk, Cajun and stuff like that.

With this album being recorded on the road, I can’t imagine there were quite a few adventures along the way! What are some of your favorite memories form this unique recording process?

Check this out! Our upright bass player’s bass, just crapped the bed. This friend of ours called us and said, “Oh, man! You should take it over to my buddy’s place and he will fix it for you before you get to the next town. We go over to this place in Denver. We didn’t know where we were going to a until we got there! We go in and this guy has an amazing recording studio! We said, “Hey, uh, who owns this studio?” He said, “Oh, I do! You wanna come in listen to some stuff we did?” We had the next day off, so we gave the guy $300 for the day and went into the studio to work up some new originals! We did this song called “Hurtin’ Behind The Pine Curtain.” The Pine Curtain is a reference to East Texas. It’s a nickname for it because there are a lot of pine trees. We also did a song called, “May Have To Do It, Don’t Have To Like It.” We just kind of started to do that! We got to a spot in Atlanta where we were going to be off for a couple of days. I asked a friend of mine where we should record, and he said, “Oh, you should go to this guy’s house. He’s got all this old gear in his basement and he’s like a total mad scientist.” So, we go to this guy’s house and it looks just like a regular house. We walk in and say, “Okay. Where is the recording studio?” He said, “Well, it’s a 2,500 square foot house but I have 2,500 square foot underground!” So, we go down there and sure enough, he’s got all this old gear. He’s got 1/2″ tape and so on. It’s not straight up Pro Tools! It’s the real deal! [laughs] We just went down there and started playing around. It was so cool because there was no pressure to go into a big studio and have record executives coming in and out, checking on a single and seeing how their money was being spent. There was no pressure! We just went in and kind of goof off!

That sounds like a pretty good way to approach it! [laughs]

It is, man! I tell younger guys all the time — “You don’t need to sign a bad bank loan with these people. You can go and do this stuff on your own. That way you don’t have to be indebted to them. You can actually own your masters. You don’t have to go in and record a record all at the same time. Go in and concentrate on two songs. Make them the best you can ever make them! Live with them for a while and if you want to change something, change something!” The days of being told, “Okay, you guys go in and cut a record. Do 12 rhythm tracks in 2 or 3 days and then we’ll start the bass…” — Those days are over for me! I’m not worried about that. I just want to make great songs, one song at a time!

What can you tell us about your songwriting process for this album?

It’s weird because I think I’ve become a real hybrid from all the stuff I listen to. I mean, there is no one, firm process for me. Sometimes, I will go the Roger Miller route. I will hear somebody say something witty. For example, I heard a guy say, “I’m home getting hammered while she’s out getting nailed.” I heard a carpenter guy say that at a bar one night! BOOM! — White trash Shakespearean epiphany! A light bulb went off in my head, and I ended up writing that song on the back of a Whataburger bag! Then there are times when I’m sitting down with somebody and we are going for a certain thing. Other times, I might start with a title or a melody. I might be tuning my guitar and I will accidentally play a melody and say, “Oh, that was cool!” I will record it in my phone and two weeks later I will sit down in a quiet room and try to bang a song out! The songs come to you in all different way! Another example – I saw a picture of me and this elderly African American woman who helped raise me. She was an old Creole woman from Louisiana. I saw this picture of her and I together. She was walking me home from school and I was probably 5 years old. I wrote this song about her called “Miss Victoria.” That happened fast. I wrote the song in about 15 minutes with tears in my eyes and I haven’t changed a word of it! The point is, sometimes you bang ’em out in months and other times they come really quick! The important thing is to just keep writing! It’s a discipline. You’ve gotta turn your phone off, go into a room, shut the door and tell everyone to leave you alone! Then you can think about what you’re doing!

Jesse Dayton

You’ve had the unique opportunity to work with some legends in your time. Who’s had the biggest impact on you and your approach to your career?

As far as lifestyle, it’s probably Willie Nelson. When I first met Willie, I was scared to death! It seemed like we always had that 8-track in the car and the records in the house when I was growing up. I can’t stress enough to your listeners what a God he is in Texas. The only thing I can think would be pseudo-close would be if you grew up in New Jersey on the shore and you’re Springsteen fan. Maybe that! The colloquial power that he has is unbelievable. Willie is a very Zen guy. He’s a country boy in his heart but he’s also learned how to life! He exercises, drinks a ton of water and stays away from hard drugs and pills. He smokes a little weed and I’m sure he drinks a little tequila once and a while or whatever! He’s figured out how to manage his life in the middle of this crazy career that all of us have! So, what I learned from him isn’t so much about the music part, as it is the lifestyle part. I’ve changed a lot over the years as well. I’ve changed my diet and I exercise. Sure, I’ll still go blow it out with the boys every once and a while if I need to, but lifestyle is a big part of your career. The road is literally trying to kill you! There are bad roads, bad weather, booze, drugs, crazy women, and unsavory characters! [laughs] When my band is on our bus, we tried to put a lot of healthy food in there and drink a lot of water. We also turn down a lot of stuff that people want us to do because at the end of the night they get to go back to their house, which is 10 or 15 minutes away. Meanwhile, we have to drive to the next city and do it all over again! So, yeah, as far as lifestyle, Willie’s had a big impact.

What’s the best lesson we can take from your journey as an artist?

I think I’m the last of a generation. I grew up when there was still regional radio and before there was MTV. It’s nothing now but when it came out, MTV was huge. Before that, I got to play with a lot of these guys. Sadly, we’ve lost a lot of them along the way. We’ve lost Merle, John, and Waylon. Kris and Willie are still out there kicking ass, but it’s because they take care of themselves. I think if people want to hear an extension of all the real American roots music, they should listen to me! [laughs] I’ve put my whole life into it! Our show is kickass, man! We can’t go out and open up for bands. They don’t want us to open up for them because we go out there and destroy the place! We’ve been on tour for 5 years. It started when Billy Zoom got sick and John Doe called me to fill in and play guitar for X. It seems like ever since then, I’ve been on tour! It’s really that Malcolm Gladwell thing of “Ten Thousand Hours.” That’s a really big part of it, ya know? I guess some people get squirrely, write a hit song, it gets huge and they get signed. Maybe that’s their career. For me, it’s always been, “I’m just workin’!” [laughs] Really, what we’re doing is building this cult following. We just did our first headlining tour of Europe. We did not know how it was going to go. In fact, we played a couple of really big shows to help pay for the whole thing, just in case it was a total disaster. We got over there, and we did 21 shows and 19 of them were packed! It was just word of mouth! We had a good publicist in London and I got played on the BBC. What we’re doing right now is trying to bring more people into our tent. That’s all I care about. All I care about is growing gradually. What is it they say? “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Well, my biggest competition is me. I’m running my own race. When I pulled into Des Moines, Iowa, I started playing there for 23 people but now we get there, and the club is sold out! That’s pretty awesome considering that I play a style of music that’s not super popular, I have no major corporations funding me and I’m totally punk rock and do-it-yourself. The crowds just keep building! So, to anyone out there saying, “Oh, remember that guy? Is he still around? Is he still out there doing it?” I would say the reason you are asking that question is because you got the minivan, you moved to the suburbs, you have 2.3 kids and your life has changed, but I’m still out here doing this! Some of those people still come and see me but we also get tons of new people every year! It’s just getting bigger and bigger, and that’s all I care about. I don’t care about hit songs or any of that stuff. I’m still doing movie stuff and I just wrote some songs for a new film with Shooter Jennings. It will be out this year! What more can you ask for? I’ve got a beautiful wife and I bought a house in a cool neighborhood in south Austin. I can park my bus behind there and I’ve got a studio. I think the more independent you are and the less you have to depend on the tastemakers, the happier you’re going to be, man!

Jesse Dayton will release ‘The Outsider’ on June 8th, 2018.

I’m sure some people are going to discover your work for the first time via your new album, “The Outsider.” However, you have a terrific back catalog of music. Where is a good spot for the new fans to jump in?

That’s a good question. We don’t really have hits per se, but we have crowd favorites. When we go tour, we have to play those songs! We have a song called “Daddy Was A Badass” that I wrote. It was kind of a hit song on Sirius XM. We played in Phoenix one time. My agent had booked us at this big theater and I was blown away. I called him as soon as I got there and said, “Dude, are you crazy” This is going to look horrible with a couple hundred people in it. He goes, “Oh no, dude. You pre-sold almost half of the room!” I was like, “Really?” He said, “Yeah, man!” Anyway, I get off the phone, we get there, and the place is almost sold out. It’s totally packed, and we have a great show! Every night after our show, I go to the merch booth and I meet people. There is a line of people there and every single one of them said, “Hey, man. I listen to you every day on Sirius XM’s Outlaw Country!” I was like, “Ohhhh, okay! That’s what’s going on!” So, that song, “Daddy Was A Badass” is a good place to start with me. There are some other ones as well. There’s a song called “Think of Me When You Take Out The Trash,” which is kind of a dirty rock ‘n’ roll song. I’ve got some songs that are full-on country off the record called “Country Soul Brother.” There is also a record called “The Revealer,” which I put out last year. They should go and listen to that whole record because that’s the majority of what I’m playing at my shows. Those are some good places to start!

What’s the best way for fans to support you and help you continue to thrive as an artist?

Ya know what I do? If there is a band that I like, I will go out, pay cover and buy t-shirts, vinyl or a CD. That’s a big deal. People don’t realize how powerful their economical choices are. If we all started shopping at Mom and Pop shops only, it would change the economy. It would change the world! So, when you come out buy one of my shirts or records… Let’s say you got The Revealer” on red vinyl. You buy it for $25 bucks and I give the label $5 bucks or whatever, but I have $20 bucks to put into my gas tank to go to the next town or that $20 is going to pay part of my mortgage or to put my kid through college. I try to do the same thing that my fans do for me. I went out and saw a band in Austin, a few nights ago before I left on tour, called Eve and The Exiles. It was an all-girl band and the frontwoman, Eve Monsees, is a blues player who came up with Gary Clark, Jr., and I really dug them! So, I bought the t-shirts! There is a lot of power in that! It’s so awesome just to think that we can get our friends to make some artwork, buy some t-shirts, go on tour and actually show a profit! It’s very exciting to me, still, at this age! It’s like, “I can’t believe we’re pulling this off, man!” [laughs]

Well, we’re certainly glad you are! Congratulations on everything you’ve accomplished so far. We can’t wait turn a few more people on to the awesome music you are making!

I really appreciate that, Jason! I’ll catch up with you again soon! Take care!

Jesse Dayton will release ‘The Outsider’on June 8th Via Blue Élan Records. Visit his official website at www.jessedayton.com for the latest news and tour dates. Connect with him on social media through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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ON THE RISE: Emily Hackett On Her Blossoming Career, Artistic Growth and More!

ON THE RISE: Emily Hackett On Her Blossoming Career, Artistic Growth and More!

Emily Hackett speaks the truth. The singer/songwriter raised in Atlanta, GA pulls these emotions into her music, stirring in an authentic blend of self-deprecation that is both unique and refreshing. What poises her against the rest of the soul of fiery artist ready to light up the stage, all the while still as honest as her southern roots.

The result of Emily’s insatiable passion is undeniable. In the last few years, Emily has made a splash in the music scene releasing two EPs – ‘As It Comes and Fury,’ ‘Fear and Heartbreak.’ In 2013, Emily released an acoustic cover with Megan Davies of Lorde’s hit “Royals.” The response has brought in over half-a-million views on Youtube, was featured on Buzzfeed, won “Best Coffeehouse Cover of 2013” on Sirius XM and reached the final round of “Best Royals Covers” on Ryan Seacrest. In 2014 Emily won the national Belk’s Modern Southern Music Showcase where she played tour dates with artists like Lady Antebellum, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Rascal Flatts. In the same line, her duet with Parachute frontman Will Anderson, “Take My Hand (The Wedding Song)” reached over 50k streams on Soundcloud in less than two months and peaked at the No. 4 spot on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter chart. The music video for the single currently sits at over 15 million views.

There’s a compatibility between the novelty and depth found in Emily’s artistry. Her music has the power to transform listeners in a direction where many songwriters fear to tread. With her organic honesty and raw-honey vocals, it’s no wonder that the possibilities continue to unfurl for Emily Hackett. Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with the artist on the rise to discuss her musical roots, the challenges she has faced along the way, her creative evolution and much more!

Going all the way back to the beginning, how did music first come into your life?

I was introduced to great music very early on because of my dad. Both my parents were music lovers but my dad was a rock and roll critic in Cleveland and also played guitar around the house and with friend as a hobby so I knew all the words to “American Pie” by the time I was ten probably!

At what point did you realize music was something you wanted to pursue professionally?

When I figured out that I was actually good at it, probably. When I discovered that just by singing my favorite songs I could get people’s attention, there was some lightbulb moment that happened in my soul that realized I was meant to do that. It wasn’t until high school though that I knew anything about Nashville and the professional life waiting there.

Dedicating yourself fully to your art is a big step. Did you ever have any reservations about taking the plunge?

Absolutely! I think only the people who are following their dreams are the ones who have reservations at all. Fear is a truth-teller. If you are scared of failing but the desire still keeps you up at night, then you’re on the right road. You’ve just got to surround yourself with the right support system, and my family and friends were that times ten.

What can you tell us about the process of finding your creative voice as a young artist and finding your current creative direction?

It comes with finding out who you are. Who are you with your family? Who are you with the boy you have a crush on? Who are you after you break his heart? The more in-touch with yourself you are, the more authentic your creative voice will be. Don’t be scared to be honest.

Who were some of the performers and people behind the scenes who helped to shape the artist we see today?

I was always infatuated with the female artists growing up, probably because I wanted to learn from them and follow in their footsteps. They impressed me most. Everyone from Joni Mitchell to Aretha Franklin to Michelle Branch and Spice Girls. It was especially the girls who I discovered wrote their own music too though. My parents were amazing about introducing me to new music too, via albums played around the house as well as a bunch of different concerts. I saw a lot of live music by the time I was 15.

You are clearly very driven when it comes to your career. Your passion is truly inspiring. What has kept you inspired throughout the years as an artist and fueled your creative fire?

It’s a little bit of the, “Well what else are you gonna do that’s gonna make you this happy? So have some coffee and get to work!” It’s also a lot of the feeling that you get when you know you have created something good. It’s magic. Who doesn’t want to feel magic?

Last year, you released single titled “Nostalgia.” Tell us a little about what inspired this song and what it means to you?

A very intricate guitar loop that Mikey Reaves created. He played it for me and for some reason I went right back to my hometown. I was having these flashbacks of growing up with my friends and writing poetry in my room. I couldn’t describe it any other way than “Nostalgia,” so after attempting to figure out how to rephrase it, I instead accepted it and said, “What if we just bring that feeling to life?”

The video for the song is great and captures the spirit of the song perfectly. It looks like you had a blast! What was that experience like for you and what memories spring to mind when you think of bringing it to life?

I don’t know if I’ll ever have another video experience quite like that one. It was all by the seat of our pants. What you see is what you get—candid laughter, real moments. I hired my videographer, Craig Hill, based off of the question, “Are you more of an ask for permission or beg for forgiveness kind of guy?” I knew we were in for a good time when he answered the latter.

In early 2018, you released “Once In A While.” Another beautiful song and video. Tell us a little about how this one came about.

Thank you. I wrote that song with Austin Taylor Smith a few years ago and knew it was a special one. I was just honest with him one day when I started telling him about how hard it can be when you think about an ex that you’ve hurt and you just want to know how they are doing—for your own sake! To feel better about what you did or whatever. But you know that it’s better to just let them be. So it became more of a letter that I never sent.

What I love about your songs is they come from a very real place. Was it a difficult process to get to a point where you were able to bare your soul?

Actually, no! That is funny to admit to, but I think I had a harder time baring my soul in real life so doing it in my songs was my outlet. I even performed some at a really young age in front of guys I wanted to date or that I wanted to apologize to for hurting, because it was easier to sing it to them then it would have been to say it to their face.

What can you tell us about the songwriting process for your music?

It’s never the same every time. Sometimes it starts with a bunch of words and no music. Sometimes it’s mumbling nothing to a cool melody idea. I just chase what feels right.

What was the first song you ever wrote?

“Dreams Come True.” I wrote it for the 6th grade talent show. My parents definitely have incriminating footage of it somewhere.

You brushed elbows and worked with some amazing artists along the way. How has had the biggest impact on you artistically?

I think I’m impacted, daily by the fantastic musicians and songwriters I get to write and perform with. I’ve been lucky to work with people who I’d also consider my closest friends. Will Anderson and the Parachute boys have all been crazy supportive of my artistry and have taught me a lot along the way. I also had the chance to watch and learn from the guys of Needtobreathe in the studio when they worked on their acoustic version of “Brother.” Talk about some crazy creativity and persistence. I was also super humbled (and thrilled) when they asked me to sing BGV’s on the track.

The majority of music fans don’t give much thought to the business side of the music industry. What are some of the major challenges you find yourself facing as a working musician?

The lack of equality in the field is definitely something that gets cast in the shadows. Females have had such a tough time in the music industry in general over the last decade or so and especially in the country genre. I think it stems from uncertainty about what the females are going to do or say in our music–God forbid we give a different perspective. I love watching more and more of these girls coming up, like myself, have the same attitude about it and decide to push those boundaries out because we’re tired of the scale weighing so heavy on what the guys have to say. No offense boys, we love you, but we want some time on the mic.

As an artist, so many things can be said about the current state of the music industry. What excites about the business in this day and age?

It’s tough that artists, and I mean that in the sense of creators in all aspects of the industry, don’t get paid what they deserve because of outdated laws and the global desire for free art. You could even say entitlement, and I have to include myself in that because I’m a Spotify and Apple Music user too. What’s exciting is that the accessibility to a ridiculous amount of music—new music—gives independent artists like myself an opportunity to find fans that we perhaps never would have found us.

How do you feel you have most evolved as an artist since you first started professionally?

I think I just discovered production and how it could change the sound of a song of mine so drastically. It took time and a little experimenting with recording and performing for a few years before I really felt confident about vocalizing how I wanted to hear something. Now I know. Even if I don’t know the music-theoretical way to communicate it to a roomful of session players, I know how to describe it and reference it and most importantly, know when we get it or if we need to try something else.

What do you consider your biggest milestones along the way?

Choosing to be a performing artist and not just a songwriter. Making my first full-length record. Making my first music video. This is just the beginning for me and I’m so excited.

You have a lot of productive years ahead of you. Where do you see yourself headed musically in the future — with short and long term?

I think it’s too soon to tell! I like a lot of different kinds of music and I’m influenced by it all. I hope to get a chance to collaborate with inspiring artists.

What is the best way for fans to help support you at this stage in your career?

Listen to the music. Come to the shows. Just be a fan! That’s why I love you.

We would love to help spread the word on any causes or organizes you support. What is closest to your heart at this point in time that we can help shine a light on?

It’s honestly hard to choose one charitable organization I recommend more than another right now. My heart is pulled in a lot of directions when it comes to what the world needs. I think my best answer would be to just choose the one that strikes you as important and act on it—give blood to the Red Cross, adopt an animal instead of breeding one, donate old clothes to a bettered women’s shelter. It doesn’t have to be about the money. Time is money too.

You can serve as a great inspiration for so many aspiring artists and young people. What is the best lesson we can take away from your journey so far?

Be yourself, no matter what!

For the latest on Emily Hackett and everything she has going on, visit these locations:

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Candi Carpenter Releases Stunning Video for Her New Song “Cry Baby”

Candi Carpenter Releases Stunning Video for Her New Song “Cry Baby”

Candi Carpenter is a an unstoppable musical force!

Up and coming Nashville-based country singer Candi Carpenter shows off her powerful voice in her debut music video for her new song, “Cry Baby”, which premiered yesterday on The Boot. “Cry Baby” was inspired by the artist’s first few months in Nashville; she moved to Music City at the age of 15.

“I had the opportunity to perform with other icons like Loretta LynnLittle Jimmy DickensPorter Wagoner and Jean Shepard. Patsy Cline is one of my biggest influences, and “Cry Baby” pays homage not only to her, but also to my traditional country background.”

In addition to the “Cry Baby” music video, Carpenter wants fans to send in videos of them lip-syncing the song for a lyric video, to be released this spring. Those interested can e-mail submissions to TeamCandiLand@gmail.com, with a note stating that Carpenter can use the clip. Fans are also encouraged to share their videos on social media.

More About Candi Carpenter…
“I write my best songs when men piss me off,” says Candi Carpenter, whose fiery first single, “Burn The Bed” tells the story of a scorned woman’s cheating husband. Her aching, soulful voice has drawn comparisons to Janis Joplin and Patsy Cline, while critics have dubbed her “the modern Loretta Lynn” of country songwriting.

“A lot of people say I have a crazy story,” she says. “Maybe I do, but I think we’re all messed up in our own way. That’s why I write about the bad, the ugly, and the good that makes it all worthwhile. The hurt, and the healing, and everything in between.”

Candi’s musical roots are buried deep in memories of stained glass windows and dog eared hymnals, as she toured the midwest with her family’s gospel band. At age 11, she crashed a Vince Gill concert by writing “Can I yodel for you?” on the back of a ticket stub. Later that year, she signed her first production deal in Nashville. She traded high school for a small room at The Shoney’s Inn downtown, and the stages of honky tonk dives like Tootsies and The Broken Spoke Saloon became her classroom. She performed every night until the bars closed down, hiding from the police in the bathrooms.

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LEGEND IN THE MAKING: Candi Carpenter Talks Life, Career And Passion For Music!

LEGEND IN THE MAKING: Candi Carpenter Talks Life, Career And Passion For Music!

Candi Carpenter is a an unstoppable musical force!

Candi Carpenter is truly a country music legend in the making. Her musical roots are buried deep in memories of stained glass windows and dog eared hymnals, as she toured the midwest with her family’s gospel band. At age 11, she crashed a Vince Gill concert by writing “Can I yodel for you?” on the back of a ticket stub. Later that year, she signed her first production deal in Nashville. She traded high school for a small room at The Shoney’s Inn downtown, and the stages of honky tonk dives like Tootsies and The Broken Spoke Saloon became her classroom. She performed every night until the bars closed down, hiding from the police in the bathrooms.

When Candi was 16 years old, country music legend Jack Greene heard the raw honesty in Candi’s music and took her under his wing as his duet partner. She spent her weekends backstage at The Grand Ole Opry, or writing and touring the country with the likes of Bill Anderson, Little Jimmy Dickens, Porter Wagoner, and Loretta Lynn.

As time went on, Candi had very little say over her career or the music she recorded, and found herself being shepherded in a direction that wasn’t true to who she was as an artist. “I was told that I needed to tone it down. I wasn’t able to grow, and I wasn’t allowed to find myself musically.” Immediately after extricating herself from the management deal that robbed her of her childhood, she was pulled into a disastrous marriage. With the support of her loved ones, she rallied the strength and courage to move out, move on, and take control of her life.

She cleaned houses, and worked three jobs to pay for demos and groceries, until signing with CTK Management in 2014. That relationship ultimately resulted in a recording contract with Sony Music Worldwide. “If her future is as bright as her talent, she is going to be a very big star,” said the late Phil Everly, a close friend and collaborator. Look for “Burn The Bed,” now on country radio. In 2018, her future is as bright as ever as she remains laser-focused on bringing her heartfelt songwriting to the masses.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Candi Carpenter to discuss her musical roots, the unique path she has taken as an artist, her passion for songwriting and much more!

Going all the way back to the beginning, how did music first come into your life?

I was born into a family of touring gospel musicians. My parents, uncles, and grandfather had a family band called “Heaven Sent” that played gigs at churches and county fairs all over the midwest. My father was the pastor of the Bethel Alliance Church in Lansing, Michigan, and the upright piano in the sanctuary was my favorite toy. I wrote my first song sitting at that piano when I was three years old. It was terrible. By the time I turned eight, I was a full fledged member of the band.

At what point did you realize music was something you wanted to pursue professionally?

As a very little girl, around 5 or 6, I wanted to be a professional basketball player in the WNBA when I grew up. I think I started realizing that just because I was tall for my age, didn’t mean I had the talent of an athlete. When LeAnn Rimes hit the scene in 1996, I understood for the first time that a career in music was a possibility. After buying the album “Blue,” I started teaching myself to yodel, and listening to Ranger Doug from Riders in the Sky. I became obsessed with country radio, learning the words to every single song I could. My Mom started driving me to singing competitions wherever we could find them, and we began traveling to Nashville once every couple of months. I signed with my first producer at the age of eleven.

Candi Carpenter performing at age 10.

Dedicating yourself fully to your art is a big step. Did you ever have any reservations about taking the plunge?

I think I was too young to have any reservations. I often wish I could send a message back in time, telling the little girl I used to be who to watch out for. By fifteen, I’d dropped out of high school and I was living in a seedy hotel room in downtown Nashville, playing the honky tonks every night. At sixteen I was touring with Grand Ole Opry legend Jack Greene and his contemporaries. I spent my teen years growing up backstage at the Opry, and I learned so much from that experience, but I was also being abused and mistreated by the person who “managing” me. Jack was suffering from dementia and needed constant care, and this person also took advantage of his legacy and career. We all lived together under one roof, and I did my best to look after him, but I was just a teenager. The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was remove myself from that sad situation. I miss Jack with all of my heart, and think about him daily. He was like a grandfather to me, and one of the greatest vocalists who ever lived.

You’ve come a long way since you toured the Midwest with your family’s gospel band. What can you tell us about the process of finding your creative voice as a young artist and finding your current creative direction?

I’ve gone through many phases creatively. My biggest mistake, and I think it’s a common one, was trying to chase what’s already popular instead of embracing my own unique voice and perspective. Lately, I’ve thrown caution to the wind and just done what comes naturally. I think that learning to be okay with being yourself is one of the hardest obstacles any artist faces. Allowing yourself be authentic and vulnerable can be scary.

Who were some of the performers and people behind the scenes who helped to shape the artist we see today?

My manager, Danny Nozell, signed me when I didn’t have a penny to my name, and I thought my career in music was finished. I was going through a terrible divorce, and starting over with nothing. He believed in me, and got me my record deal with Doug Morris at Sony Music Entertainment. Truly Alvarenga has been my head of creative, stylist, and wardrobe designer for the last ten years, and Justine Feldt has been by my side working on EPK’s, music videos, and all things creative for almost a decade as well. Jenny Garner came on board several years ago as lead makeup artist, and jack of all trades. I’m nothing without my team, and I love them with all of my heart. I’ve been fortunate to work with some phenomenal, established co-writers like Leslie Satcher, Blair Daly, and the late Phil Everly of The Everly Brothers, as well as talented new writers and artists like Kalie Shorr and Alden Witt, who have really helped me shape my sound and re-discover the joy of writing.

Candi performing in Tootsies Orchid Lounge on Lower Broadway at age 13.

You are clearly very driven when it comes to your career. Your passion is truly inspiring. What has kept you inspired throughout the years as an artist and fueled your creative fire?

I’m on a mission to bring my music and my message to the world, and I won’t stop until I do. I want to be a force for good in this industry, by helping and encouraging others.

You recently released a new single titled “Nights and Weekends.” Tell us a little about what inspired this song and what it means to you?

Believe it or not, “Nights and Weekends” isn’t a single… yet! Over the next few months, I’ll be releasing several acoustic performances to show my fans what I’ve been working on. I’m excited about all of the new music, and looking forward to getting feedback. I worked as a barista at Starbucks for three years, as a waitress and a restaurant host, among a lot of other jobs including cleaning houses. Sometimes I was working as many as three places at once to pay the bills and fund my music career. I often felt like giving up, but I never allowed myself to have a plan B. “Nights and Weekends” was born late one night after my cowriter and roommate Jess Adams came home from working a double shift at an East Nashville restaurant. I thought a lot about my father when we were writing the second verse. He works the third shift, and only gets to hang out with my mom on the weekends.

From what I read, you gathered friends and fellow artists for the acoustic video for the song which sounds awesome! What was that experience like for you and what memories spring to mind when you think of being on set that day?

What I remember most about the day we filmed is Jenny Garner laughing hysterically every time we finished a take, and Aaron Kessler doing his best to encourage it. I had to make an uncomfortable amount of eye contact with Hannah Bethel and Melanie Bresnan, which didn’t help. At the end of the video, you can actually see a shot of all of us losing it. We had a blast.

Your previous single, “Burn The Bed,” is a powerful tune and even drew comparisons to legendary songwriter Loretta Lynn. What can you tell us about the songwriting process for your music?

I’m always writing. Even in my sleep. My phone crashed a few months ago because I have too many voice notes. I try to keep everything organized in Evernote, but my creative process is messy. I started writing “Burn the Bed” several years ago, and it didn’t come together until I was out of the relationship that it was written about. Sometimes a song will come together on the same day I get the idea, but that’s uncommon. I think the key for me is to keep editing, and not rush the process.

What was the first song you ever wrote?

It’s the single worst song ever written. It’s called “Jesus Cares For Me,” and I wrote it when I was three. Every line ends with the word “me.” Please never ask me to play it for you.

Your songs can be intense and very personal. Was it a difficult process to get to a point where you were able to bare your soul?

I once had a boyfriend who called me “The Queen of Useless Information.” That was very offensive to me at the time, but he was probably on to something. Sharing personal information comes a little TOO easy to me, much to the horror of my friends and family.

You brushed elbows and worked with some amazing artists along the way. Who has had the biggest impact on you artistically?

Of course, Jack Greene taught me so much about performing and entertaining, and so did Loretta Lynn, Vince Gill, Little Jimmy Dickens, Porter Wagoner, and the numerous other artists I had the opportunity to work with as a teenager. Because of them, I’m comfortable on any stage. Dolly Parton has also been a huge supporter, and I’m truly humbled by that. She’s one of my greatest influences, as a songwriter, entertainer, and business woman. These are just a few of the wonderful people who have helped me along the way, and I’m extremely grateful to them.

Candi at 17 years old with Jack Greene and the legendary Dolly Parton.

The majority of music fans don’t give much thought to the business side of the music industry. What are some of the major challenges you find yourself facing as a working musician?

When I was in the seventh grade, my math teacher told my mother, “I hope that Candi becomes a big star, so that she can hire an accountant.”

As an artist, so many things can be said about the current state of country music. What excites about the industry in this day and age?

We’re on a new frontier! Female artists are about to change the face of country music, and I think the audience is ready for that. I can’t wait to hear what’s coming from some of these new ladies next year!

How do you feel you have most evolved as an artist since you first started professionally?

It’s funny. I’m kind of back to where I started when I was a little girl. After years of searching, I found myself buried under layers of other versions of myself, that had all been created and decided by others. A few weeks ago, I wrote a modern yodeling song. Nine year old me would be so happy!

What do you consider your biggest milestones along the way?

Getting signed to Sony was probably the biggest milestone so far. Seeing my first single chart in Billboard Magazine was right up there too.

Candi Carpenter has her sights set on bright future in the music industry.

You have a lot of productive years ahead of you. Where do you see yourself headed musically in the future — with short and long term?

This first record is going to be infused with elements of my gospel, and traditional country roots. As I move forward, I think you’ll start hearing more elements of rock seeping in. No matter what happens, rich storytelling, and a flair for drama will always be recurring themes.

What is the best way for fans to help support you at this stage in your career?

First of all, I want to thank my fans for being there for me. It means more than I can say. Word of mouth is a great way to help, so please share the songs and tell your friends!

We would love to help spread the word on any causes or organizes you support. What is closest to your heart at this point in time that we can help shine a light on?

Suicide prevention and awareness is very close to my heart. I wrote “Ghost on a Bridge,” about one of my best friends who took her own life several years ago. SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education) is an organization that’s helped save a lot of lives. For more information, please visit www.save.org.
You can listen to “Ghost on a Bridge” at this location > 

You can serve as a great inspiration for so many aspiring artists and young people. What is the best lesson we can take away from your journey so far?

That is very kind of you to say. Never, ever, ever, give up. You never know what would have happened the day after you do.

Stay connected with everything Candi Carpenter has going on by visiting her official website at www.candicarpenter.com. Connect with her on social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

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Kid Rock Releases New Song “Tennessee Mountain Top”

Kid Rock Releases New Song “Tennessee Mountain Top”

At one minute past midnight Kid Rock unveiled his latest song “Tennessee Mountain Top” on streaming and sales platforms. “Tennessee Mountain Top” is impacting at Country Radio October 2. The track brings out a Country infused southern rock spirit that has drawn Country fans to Kid Rock for almost two decades since he released the CMA, ACM nominated “Picture.” Both “Picture” and his massive summer anthem “All Summer Long” continue to be fan favorites at Country Radio.

A five time Grammy nominee with over 26 million albums sold to date, Kid Rock has consistently blazed his own trail. His career intersected early with Country audiences and created a connection that has continued to grow each year. He has been twice nominated for CMA Awards, “Picture” with Sheryl Crow (2003) and “Can’t You See” with Zac Brown Band (2010). This October 6th and 7th he will host Kid Rock’s Third Annual Fish Fry in Nashville, yet another sign of his close ties to Nashville and Country Music.

Since the spontaneous release of his two most recent tracks in July, “Po-Dunk” and “Greatest Show On Earth” and their accompanying videos, Kid Rock has been at the center of media coverage speculation as to his musical and personal ambitions.

While others speculate, the artist known for his slew of American anthems and his explosive live shows has been busy touring and preparing for an epic series of concerts opening Detroit’s new Little Caesars Arena. Not only is he the maiden act for the venue, he recently announced that the venue will play host to his own Made in Detroit restaurant to open on the Woodward Avenue side of Little Caesars Arena.

Purchase/Stream “Tennessee Mountain Top” here.

For more information visit: www.kidrock.com

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Country Music Superstar Shania Twain Announces 2018 NOW Tour

Country Music Superstar Shania Twain Announces 2018 NOW Tour

In what promises to be one of the most anticipated tours of 2018, Global superstar Shania Twain has announced that she will hit the road next year in support of her new album, NOW.  These dates mark Shania’s first tour since “Rock This Country” back in 2015. Produced by Live Nation, the tour kicks off May 3rd in Tacoma, WA and will run through the rest of the summer, culminating in Las Vegas on August 4th at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

American Express® Card Members can purchase tickets before the general public beginning Tuesday, August 22 at 10:00 a.m. local time until Thursday, August 24 at 10:00 p.m. local time. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on August 25th. For more presale details and ticket information, please visit www.ticketmaster.com.

One of the most highly anticipated albums of 2017, NOW, will be released on September 29 via Mercury Nashville, and is offered as both a 12-track standard and 16-track deluxe album. Fans can pre-order the album HERE and instantly receive “Life’s About to Get Good,” “Poor Me”, and beginning tomorrow, Aug. 18, pre-orders also receive Shania’s brand new single impacting radio Sept. 18, “Swingin’ With My Eyes Closed.”  Shania debuted “Swingin’ With My Eyes Closed” last night on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Watch the performance HERE.

Shania is set to headline the Opening Night Ceremony for the 2017 US Open on Monday, Aug. 28, in Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The ceremony will be televised live on ESPN2. She will be performing some of her biggest hits as well as songs from the new album, NOW.

Shania is a five-time GRAMMY Award-winner and the reigning Queen of Country Pop. With more than 90 million albums sold worldwide and U.S. sales topping 34.5 million, Shania remains the top-selling female country artist of all time. Shania’s albums include her Platinum-selling 1993 debut, Shania Twain; the GRAMMY Award-winning, Double Diamond-selling 1995 release, The Woman in Me; Come On Over, the best-selling studio album in Soundscan history by a female artist in any genre and the best-selling country album of all time with over 40 million units sold worldwide; and UP!, Shania’s third consecutive Diamond-selling album release.

Shania Twain NOW Tour Dates:

Thurs., May 3, 2018 – Tacoma, WA – Tacoma Dome
Sat., May 5, 2018 – Vancouver, BC – Rogers Arena
Sun., May 6, 2018 – Vancouver, BC – Rogers Arena
Wed., May 9, 2018 – Edmonton, AB – Rogers Place
Thurs., May 10, 2018 – Edmonton, AB – Rogers Place
Sat., May 12, 2018 – Saskatoon, SK – Sasktel Centre
Sun., May 13, 2018 – Winnipeg, MB – MTS Centre
Tues., May 15, 2018 – St. Paul, MN – Xcel Energy Center
Wed., May 16, 2018 – Sioux Falls, SD – Denny Sanford Premier Center
Fri., May 18, 2018 – Omaha, NE – CenturyLink Center Omaha
Sat., May 19, 2018 – Chicago, IL – United Center
Fri., June 1, 2018 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – BB&T Center
Sat., June 2, 2018 – Tampa, FL – Amalie Arena
Mon., June 4, 2018 – Duluth, GA – Infinite Energy Center
Wed., June 6, 2018 – Dallas, TX – American Airlines Center
Thurs., June 7, 2018 – Austin, TX – Frank Erwin Center
Sat., June 9, 2018 – Houston, TX – Toyota Center
Sun., June 10, 2018 – New Orleans, LA – Smoothie King Center
Tues., June 12, 2018 – North Little Rock, AR – Verizon Arena
Wed., June 13, 2018 – St Louis, MO – Scottrade Center
Fri., June 15, 2018 – Detroit, MI – Little Caesars Arena
Sat., June 16, 2018 – Cleveland, OH – Quicken Loans Arena
Mon., June 25, 2018 – Ottawa, ON – Canadian Tire Centre
Tues., June 26, 2018 – Montreal, QC – Bell Centre
Thurs., June 28, 2018 – Québec, QC – Videotron Centre
Sun., July 1, 2018 – Hamilton, ON – FirstOntario Centre
Tues., July 3, 2018 – London, ON – Budweiser Gardens
Wed., July 4, 2018 – London, ON – Budweiser Gardens
Fri., July 6, 2018 – Toronto, ON – Air Canada Centre
Sat., July 7, 2018 – Toronto, ON – Air Canada Centre
Wed., July 11, 2018 – Boston, MA – TD Garden
Thurs., July 12, 2018 – Philadelphia, PA – Wells Fargo Center
Sat., July 14, 2018 – Brooklyn, NY – Barclays Center
Sun., July 15, 2018 – Washington, DC – Capital One Center
Tues., July 17, 2018 – Pittsburgh, PA – PPG Paints Arena
Wed., July 18, 2018 – Grand Rapids, MI – Van Andel Arena
Fri., July 20, 2018 – Louisville, KY – KFC Yum! Center
Sat., July 21, 2018 – Nashville, TN – TBD*
Tues., July 24, 2018 – Kansas City, MO – Sprint Center
Wed., July 25, 2018 – Des Moines, IA – Wells Fargo Arena
Fri., July 27, 2018 – Denver, CO – Pepsi Center
Sat., July 28, 2018 – Salt Lake City, UT – Vivint Smart Home Arena
Mon., July 30, 2018 – Phoenix, AZ – Talking Stick Resort Arena
Wed., August 1, 2018 – Fresno, CA – Save Mart Center
Fri., August 3, 2018 – Los Angeles, CA – Staples Center
Sat., August 4, 2018 – Las Vegas, NV – MGM Grand Garden Arena

*On sale date To Be Announced

ShaniaTwain.com | Facebook.com/ShaniaTwain | Twitter @ShaniaTwain | Instagram @ShaniaTwain


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NOT ENOUGH WHISKEY: Kiefer Sutherland Discusses His Musical Evolution

NOT ENOUGH WHISKEY: Kiefer Sutherland Discusses His Musical Evolution

While Kiefer Sutherland may be best known for his work on the silver screen, in his heart he has always been an aspiring musician. With the 2016 release of his debut country album, ‘Down In A Hole,’ Sutherland ushered in a new era of his already captivating career. Featuring 11 tracks co-written by Sutherland and producer Jude Cole, the album offered up a perfect blend of hard-edged country-rock songs about love, pain, and regret, all washed down with whiskey. The release would garner the attention of a wide-ranging variety of music fans, along with the most seasoned critics. Dedicated to bringing his music to the people, the multi-faceted performer continues his trek across the United States and will soon embark on the European leg of the ‘Not Enough Whiskey’ 2017 Tour. Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Kiefer Sutherland to discuss the success of the album, his musical evolution and where he sees himself headed creatively in the near future. 

Music has played an important role in your life. How do you view your musical evolution?

Well, it’s different. My evolution as a listener would be that I listen to a great many more genres of music then I did in my youth. When I come home at the end of the day and make dinner, I’m not going to play the same six records over and over, which I certainly would have done in my 20s! As a listener, I have evolved a great deal. As a writer and a player, it’s all still very new and fresh. I’m excited about the fact that I feel I have so much to learn. I think one of the interesting things for me, is that I’ve done 70 some odd films, 216 hours of ‘24’ and other series as well. I feel I have accumulated a lot of information that I feel very confident, I don’t want to say settled as an actor, but I have seen a lot and I really do have a process as an actor that I think it’s quite evolved. Musically everything feels really fresh, new and exciting because, to me, it is in fact really new. In regards to music, I feel I am an evolved listener but as a writer/performer, I feel like I have just gotten started and have so much to learn. That’s actually a really exciting prospect for me.

What can you tell us about the headspace you were in creatively when you started penning the songs that would appear of ‘Not Enough Whiskey.’

Kiefer Sutherland

When I started writing and when I started writing a lot more, the things I would draw on were the personal experiences that I have gone through. Like anyone else, they were very general things — loss of love, finding love, and over the course of my life I have lost some really good friends far too soon. As I would write about all these things it became the easiest thing. The only song in the record that is not a personal story was a song called “Shirley Jean,” which is about a man’s last night before his execution. Everything else was just what was in front of me. Maybe I was or maybe I wasn’t evolved enough as a writer to spend a lot of time trying to create and craft a story. I’ve never kept a diary in my life but, in a way, maybe this becoming that for me.

I figured that with 30 years of being onstage or in front of a camera, I would be able to go out and figure out how to perform and that would be that. All of a sudden, I realized I was telling the audience where I was when I wrote a song and I realized I was talking about my life. I put myself in a position to open up and away that maybe I wasn’t prepared for. I felt very guarded and uncomfortable at first. That took a little bit of an adjustment. I have to say when I finally did and came clean and talked about what a particular song is about, it was a really freeing experience for me. I think that’s a big part of why I have been enjoying this as much as I do.

What where the biggest lessons learned from this first album and tour cycle?

We played almost 75 to 85 dates last year. It became one of the most exciting that I have ever had an opportunity to do. I think the biggest thing I learned is that I won’t quit. The first few shows were not easy and I had to force myself to get out there and do it. I think it was very nervous I did not know what the outcome was going to be, but I pushed through it. I think that’s something I have done all my life. Then I got to a place where I actually really enjoyed it. I can’t say enough about the audiences that we got to play to over the last year and half. There was a thing that I really started to feed off of. I guess the biggest thing I learned about myself was that if I task myself with something, I’m going to follow it through for better or worse!

Where do you see yourself headed musically in the future?

We have been writing and we are well into writing the second record. I’ve got about 5 or 6 songs that we have bed tracks for for the record. When we finish this tour, I will go back to Toronto to start shooting ‘Designated Survivor’ again. After that hopefully we will start finishing up the second record, which will hopefully be ready by the spring of next year.

Thanks for your time, Kiefer. We can’t wait to see where the journey takes you!

Thank you so much, man! Thank you for that!

Keep up with Sutherland on the road by visiting kiefersutherlandmusic.com or connect with Sutherland by following him on Twitter and Facebook.

April 30 – Stagecoach Festival – Indio, Calif.
May 02 – Belly Up – Solana Beach, Calif. (SOLD OUT)
May 03 – Roxy Theatre – Los Angeles, Calif.
May 04 – Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, Calif.
May 06 – Mississippi Studios – Portland, Ore. (SOLD OUT)
May 07 – Tractor Tavern – Seattle, Wash. (SOLD OUT)
May 09 – Urban Lounge – Salt Lake City, Utah
May 10 – Fox Theatre – Boulder, Colo.
May 12 – Choctaw Event Center – Grant, Okla.
May 13 – 3Ten – Austin, Texas
May 14 – Gruene Hall – Houston, Texas (SOLD OUT)
May 17 – Terminal West – Atlanta, Ga.
May 18 – Singin’ River Live – Florence, Ala.
May 19 – Exit / In – Nashville, Tenn.
May 20 – Fubar – St. Louis, Mo.
May 21 – Thalia Hall – Chicago, Ill.
May 23 – The Birchmere – Alexandria, Va. (SOLD OUT)
May 25 – Bowery Ballroom – New York, N.Y.
May 26 – Stephen Talkhouse – Amagansett, N.Y. (SOLD OUT)
May 27 – The Stone Pony – Asbury Park, N.J.
June 01 – Skraen – Aalborg, Denmark
June 03 – Rockefeller – Oslo, Norway
June 04 – Debaser Strand – Stockholm, Sweden
June 06 – Mojo – Hamburg, Germany
June 07 – Heimathafen – Berlin, Germany
June 08 – Technikum – Munich, Germany
June 10 – WUK – Vienna, Austria
June 12 – Gloria – Cologne, Germany
June 13 – Gibson – Frankfurt Am Main, Germany
June 14 – La Cigale – Paris, France
June 16 – 013 – Tilburg, Netherlands
June 17 – Melkweg – Amsterdam, Netherlands
June 18 – Rockhal – Esch-Sur-Alzette, Luxembourg
June 20 – Bierkeller – Bristol, UK
June 21 – Worthy Farm – Pilton-Somerset, UK
June 21 – O2 Academy – Birmingham, UK
June 22 – Islington Assembly Hall – London, UK
June 23 – Trucker & Country – Interlaken, Switzerland
June 25 – Glastonbury Festival – Pilton-Somerset, UK
June 26 – Manchester Gorilla – Manchester, UK (SOLD OUT)
June 27 – SWG3 – Glasgow, United Kingdom
Aug. 11 – Boots & Hearts Festival – Oro-Medonte, Canada
Sept. 23 – Bourbon & Beyond Festival – Louisville, Ky.

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