MUSIC ROW MAGAZINE: Williams Riley Celebrates William Morris Endeavor Signing

(L-R): Brinson Strickland, Pres./CEO Golden Music Nashville; Tinti Moffat, WME; Rob Beckham, WME; Paul Moore, WME; Steve Williams, Williams Riley; Rick Shipp, WME; Steve Hauser, WME; Charlie Hutto, Williams Riley; Lane Wilson, WME; and Derek George, Williams Riley. Photo: Bev Moser

An industry crowd gathered at Nashville’s 12th & Porter yesterday (7/1) for a Cajun lunch and showcase hosted by Golden Music, William Morris and Jim Havey PR on behalf of new band Williams Riley. The seven piece outfit, fronted by singer/songwriter Steve Williams, charged through an energetic set including its current single “I’m Still Me,” “I Wish I Would Have Said That” and possible next single “(All About) Country Livin’.” The band is back on the road over the holiday weekend with an appearance in Cincinnati scheduled today and another in Frederick, Maryland on July 4. Kix Brooks even offered a video intro. WME’s Rob Beckham commented, “I was immediately a big fan of Williams Riley after seeing the ‘I’m Still Me’ video on GAC. Great song, great harmonies. I was drawn in immediately. I have known and worked with the band’s Derek George for years, and am proud to be a part of any project he is associated with.”

PRESS CONFERENCE: Luke Bryan Backstage at CMA Music Festival 2009

Luke Bryan took a few moments to speak to the press before hitting the stage at the 2009 CMA Music Festival at LP Field.

Question: What has been one unexpected surprise for you this year at the CMA Music Festival?

Luke: We did our fan club party yesterday and I realized we had two hours and I have decided we need to do four next year; because I wanted to just sit down and talk to everyone. My drummer does a mean Aaron Neville, so I had him come out and sing a little Aaron and I actually wanted to do more. That is stuff we do on the bus, whatever gets you through the monotony of riding down the road. We wanted to do something like that with every musician in my band, but we were running out of time and I wasn’t doing any songs and I think the fans were probably wanting to hear me sing. It has been fun watching the fan club grow and next year, we are already planning for maybe two fan club parties or definitely a bigger event or bigger place.

Question: What would you do when you have a headlining stage?

Luke: You dream your whole life to headline and I am using this time now to work out kinks and get smarter and bigger. We have plans, I have it all in my head and it is just the time to get there. I have people tell me I am already kind of a headliner, but I am a long way from it. The beauty of last year, getting to tour with Kenny, you see headlining at the largest scale possible and what is involved. I remember that whole tour and sat back and watched it all and took it in. I saw the things he did and even when I was out front watching Keith Urban on one of those dates and you see these guys, I am always mesmerized by the headliners. That is what you work at and work hard for. The best answer is I am constantly dreaming and being prepared for that moment, you can feel that momentum to where you are getting ready to start selling out these 5,000 seaters. That is what I pray for every night, to get to that point.

Q: What about the 60,000 sellouts?

Luke: Talking about that tour, being with Kenny gets me comfortable in that environment. I walked out there and it feels good to have that many people looking at you. That is what it’s all about. You have to go do that so you will be ready and comfortable up there.

Q: You have a trio of friends and you help them out and they have helped you out.

Luke: What she is referring to is Charles and Dave of Lady Antebellum who helped me write my current single. We all wrote it together, they came out to the house and sat on the porch, drank a couple of beers and now I have a single out. But we all did it, Hillary heard it and she flipped out over it and she went “Luke, you have to cut it”. We recorded it and of course, there was no other background singer I could use other than Hillary. So Lady Antebellum is all over that song. I was on their bus and showed them the video we just finished and to see their excitement and to know, they are there, they are winning all the group awards and stuff and watch them get excited about having a Luke Bryan song out there was a pretty special thing to watch and go through.

Q: What are you thinking about when you are on the stage performing?

Luke: When I was out with Trace, I started thinking about what was going through my mind and I would get to worrying some. My guitar player and I have been playing together for 13 years and we can just look at each other and make a move that hopefully looks somewhat planned and not stupid. The main thing is to get out there, the spontaneity and the non-structure of it makes it more comfortable out there. When you see someone walk to a spot, stand and do their run of the mill, I have never been a fan of that. I am crazy, when you are out there doing 130 shows a year and when we get to about ten in a row and they are the same, I start losing it. I talk to the band and it is like I am going start calling out crazy stuff to break the monotony of it.

Q: Coming up Sept 26, you are going to be the honorary spokesperson for the National Hunting and Fishing Day. Can you talk about taking something that you all ready love and have a passion for and being in that position to share it with other people.

Luke: I love the outdoors and grew up in the outdoors. I heard I was doing it and didn’t realize how big of a deal it was exactly. Two months in and after several PSA’s it hit me that, it’s for children, you are fishing and hunting; but that’s not the real part of what is going on. I remember my Dad and the days we spent outdoors, we would go fishing every weekend it seemed. It has been an honor to hopefully share some stories of mine and hopefully I will build more awareness. The outdoors seems to be getting smaller, especially the hunting side. I just want to bring awareness to it and get some people out there enjoying the outdoors.

Q: The current single has really allowed you to spread your wings both creatively and vocally. Was there ever any anxiety? It is a little bit of a departure for you.

Luke: My second single didn’t go as well as I planned. I think everyone wanted to keep hearing up-tempo, fun party stuff. To come out with a ballad when everyone was wanting a summer hit; we thought about it for a second, but we had so much excitement about this song. When you hear the song recorded, you feel like it really has a great shot. It’s my chance to show a different side, try to branch out and really have a shot at a big top five or even a number one with this one; and have Capitol and everyone around be so excited about it was fun too.

Daryle Singletary News

Media Days In Nashville Finds Daryle Singletary Interviewing For New Album Release Subscribe
Daryle Singletary was in Nashville this week for "Media Days" interviewing with various media outlets and magazines for his new CD release "Rockin' In The Country" on the E1 label.  The buzz and interest is growing within media circles and radio alike regarding the forthcoming-highly anticipated Daryle Singletary album release and the new single "Love You With The Lights On" that is now playing on Country radio across the USA.

Among the media interviews conducted with Daryle at Fun House Studios/Nashville were; Today’s Country Magazine contact: Jeffrey Kurtis, Nashville Country Club contact: Leslie Armstrong, Strum Magazine contact: Chrstina Midgett, contact: Matthew Bjorke,, Digital Rodeo contact: Bev Moser, and Cornerstone Entertainment "Give A Living Rose" contact: Roxanne.

When asked of Chuck Rhodes, Director of E1 Music/Nashville Division, he says; "The interviews went great and the media and radio people are extremely excited about the new single and the new CD, just as we are here at the label."

The above interviews will be available online and in print soon.  Check back here often for further Daryle Singletary updates as the release date of "Rockin' In The Country" nears.

INTERVIEW: Jimmy Wayne Backstage CMA Fest 2009

Jimmy Wayne took a few moments to speak to the press before hitting the stage at the 2009 CMA Music Festival at LP Field.

Q: I want to ask about your memories of your first CMA Music Fest or Fan Fair. Talk about the differences and what was so cool about that time.

JIMMY WAYNE: I drove in from North Carolina in an old pickup truck. It had an engine block in the back and a bicycle just in case the truck broke down. I remember pulling into a friend’s driveway and he said “let’s go to Fan Fair”. We went down to the fair grounds and I remember standing there as a spectator just watching the artist on stage, I forget who it was at that time. I remember saying to myself “one day, I hope to be up there playing”. It was always a dream of mine and here I am today actually getting a chance to stand on this stage for the first time in eleven years, since that day I moved to Nashville. I am getting that opportunity to walk out on that stage and play my songs for 60,000 people. It is going to be amazing.

Q: You are out on your first major tour with Brad Paisley. Can you tell us what that is

JIMMY WAYNE: Coincidentally, we opened the tour in my home town. It wasn’t necessarily planned that way by my team but when we looked at the calendar, it said Charlotte, North Carolina. I was “WOW, this is so weird because it is my hometown”. So we utilized that time, we filmed a live video for the new single that is out, “I’ll Be That”. I remember walking out on stage; I was so emotional. Walking out there and seeing those familiar faces, family, friends, school teachers, students from college, and knowing that it is my home town and that it is my first time ever to be on a major tour in eleven years. There is a first time for everything. It seems like this is a “first time” for a lot of things in this week.

Q: CMA Music Fest is doing a lot to try to attract a lot of Nashvillians to this show. There are a lot more free stages, Riverfront stages are free this year. Since you live here, why is that important for locals to come to CMA Music Fest.

JIMMY WAYNE: There are a lot of folks that are use to this and it is like when you live here, you don’t get out. They should take a vacation and come downtown and hang out with us. I think it is important for them to get out and realize this is going on downtown.

Q: You are very active in keeping in touch with your fans via your posts online with your cell phone.There are very interesting photos of you in bed, by the pool. How do you decide what to post?

JIMMY WAYNE: Sometimes it is a mistake. You can’t erase a photo once it is up there and I have been called by the record label multiple times for putting up stuff. For instance, “Hey guys this is what it looks like when I am not in my underwear” and I put up a picture of my underwear. It got millions of hits though. I think instead of having MySpace and Facebook pages, where you actually have to log in, you actually can use your phone. It is real time and I want to bring the fans closer in to where I am on the road, sometimes I am in the airport laying on the floor. I am like “you gotta see this”, click and I send it and it reaches everyone all over the world and they can actually be with you at all times. I think it is fun for the artist.

Q: Would you be up for a reality show?

JIMMY WAYNE: Yes, I would. It has to be funny though. Everyone thinks I am so serious and I’m not.

Q: What is the strangest thing you been asked to autograph

JIMMY WAYNE: It is not really strange but I was asked to sign an egg. You always get asked to sign boobs but I don’t sign boobs, money or flags.

Q: You helped collect instruments earlier today. Can you talk a little about that charity and why you help it?

JIMMY WAYNE: When I was a teenager, I saw a convict from a local prison come to our school. He was on a “Think Smart” program. “Think Smart” was stay off drugs, don’t be like me. He got up and told his story and played a guitar. I remember looking around the audience and I thought to myself, “wow, that is exactly what I want to do” with the exception of going to prison. That weekend, I stopped at a yard sale on my way to work at a textile factory and I bought this $40 Harmony guitar. I went home and taught myself some chords that night and I never stopped. I hired a great guitar teacher here in Nashville by the name of Ellen Britton-she is awesome. Today I went out there to gather some instruments for less fortunate kids in the communities around here that are not fortunate enough to be able to buy the instruments. Had it not been for my guitar, my first guitar, I know for sure I would not have had that kind of focus. I would probably have been in trouble. It kept me focused and out of trouble and it also gave me a great career.

Q: What country songs do you most relate to and why?

JIMMY WAYNE: That is easy. If you haven’t seen my blog, it’s “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow”. When I worked in the textile factory, every night I would work overtime because we had to blow off the cotton machines with an air hose and it took the entire shift to do this-the entire eight hours. My theme song was “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow” by Alan Jackson. I just got an opportunity to go on the road and open a couple of shows for him and stand beside the stage and look at him play and think to myself “wow, that’s amazing, here I am opening up a show for him”. That is definitely my theme song.

Q: What kept you going for eleven years to get you where you are today?

JIMMY WAYNE: I think it is the person I am. I grew up in and out of the foster home system and lived on the street when I was a teenager. I’ve always been a fighter. I have never taken no for an answer, I just figured out a new way to ask the same question and just kept going and going. I knew I had something to give, I knew I had a story to tell and I knew I could pull it off with a guitar and singing. I tried it out a little bit and noticed that there were a lot of folks out there that related and that fueled the fire. It was never the money because I remember having four hits on the radio and still pulling up on the red carpet in my four door Honda Civic.

Q: How did you choose which songs to put on this project?

JIMMY WAYNE: I have been off the radar for three and a half years when the record label Dreamworks was closed and I moved over to Universal. I was let go by Universal and moved over to Big Machine and then moved over to the Vallory Music Company.
Some say that was horrible but I don’t look at it that way. It was an opportunity to recharge, write new songs, to have that time to write a great record where I can turn it into any radio station and say play any song off this record, I can promise you every song on there is great. Songs like “I’ll Be That”. I was thinking one day that I have this heavy song, like “No Good For Me” which is a duet that Patty Loveless and I did. I got songs like “Kerosene Kid” that talks about a kid that is unfortunate that grows up poor. Then I said “I have to round this record off”, it has to come back around so I am going to throw something on there that is light, it’s fun, it’s uptempo, roll your windows down, you don’t think about it, it’s not a crossword puzzle. You just listen to it and you smile and you look at your woman.

Q: Going back to the tour with Brad Paisley, I read some reports that you had already began dreaming up practical jokes for him, now you’ve had a couple of dates. Have you seen where you might have to pull some of these things out?

JIMMY WAYNE: I’m scared. Brad asked me to have lunch with him the other day. And the whole time I am sitting there I was thinking “he’s plotting”. You know how the fox circles the pen? That was exactly what he was doing. I knew he was plotting. He was “hey man, we’re real glad to have you out here”. I was “I know I am going to be the poster child, I know it already”. I remember when Lonestar had me come out and do a couple dates with them one time, they pranked me. I am kind of spontaneous, I don’t think of these things ahead of time, I think of them at the last minute. For instance, when Lonestar pranked me one time by putting hot sauce on my microphone. The next night I got off the stage and in the dark, slipped up to the keyboard and put a strip of scotch tape across the keys so when they played, it didn’t work-they didn’t see it.

Q: What are some of the things you have learned about performing to a big crowd? The hardest lesson you have had to learn?

JIMMY WAYNE: Not relying on the story, relying strictly on the songs. That was a lesson learned. You have to have great songs, songs that carry themselves. They can’t rely on story. There are three shows, I have the acoustic show, I have the trio show and then I have the full band show. Acoustic show is storytelling, funny, we’re laughing and talking. Trio is more stories and playing but the band show doesn’t have much talking so you have to keep it up. I remember one time telling my story at a fair and the guy on the front row opened up a newspaper and I said “I won’t be doing this much”. I had to figure out a new plan. That is my plan now: hit them from the first song and keep it rocking, keep it strong all the way through. A voice teacher told me one time, she said when you start a note, you have to keep it as strong on the ending as it was in the beginning and keep it round. That is how I look at my shows; keep it strong from the beginning all the way to the end.

INTERVIEW: Taylor Swift Backstage CMA Musicfest 2009

Taylor Swift answers a few questions backstage with the media before hitting the main stage on LP Field during CMA Music Festival 2009

Q. What is your ultimate goal as an artist. If you are looking back on the career of Taylor Swift what is it you most want to be remembered for?

Taylor: I want to be great to people first and a great artists second. People on that list are Garth Brooks, Reba McIntire and Faith Hill; people that strive to be great people and kind people first before anything else gets factored in. And to hear something so wonderful from one of those people on that giant, huge amazing list is awesome, I love Reba.

Q: The first time I drove a car over hundred miles an hour, it was thrilling and scared me to death. I think you are going 100 miles per hour. Is it too fast or is it just right?

Taylor: This is just right for me. I am loving it. I played Atlanta last night and got in at 3am this morning. I went straight to the convention center to sign autographs for 5 ½ hrs and that’s the way I want to live my life. This is my favorite time of year because I remember when I was 14 years old and I was holding a clipboard interning at the CMA Music Fest. I was feeling like if there was ever a chance that one day people would line up for me to sign something of theirs, it would be a really, really good day for me. I am really happy to say that today was that day. It is so wonderful to get the chance to do this.

Q: On your recent trip to the UK, you were a success. What was it like to experience that?

Taylor: It was wonderful going to the UK. I love it over there. The people there are so wonderful and they have been so accepting. I love playing shows in London and places where they pronounce my name differently. They chant my name here and it is “Taylor” but over there, before the shows, it is “Tayla, Tayla”. It is really cute.

Q. What role does religion or faith play in your life and your music?

Taylor: I definitely know there is someone looking out for me. It is wonderful to know that all of this has happened; there has to be someone up there holding all the cards because I could never had done it on my own.

Q. Thanks to Twitter, we know that you may be doing something with John Mayer, You may be doing something with T-Pain but the details are under wraps right now. Could you talk about working with those kind of artists? What is that like for you creatively?

Taylor: I love making new friends. I respect people for a lot of different reasons. For me, great music doesn’t have to fall into one category or one genre. I just love appreciating all kinds of music. Country music is obviously my favorite and that goes without saying. I have always loved John Mayer and I think T-Pain is brilliant. Getting to work with people like that has been really fun for me. Something that I have always wanted to do and the fact that country radio has been so wonderful to me and remained so true to me despite the fact that I have gone and done all these things I dreamed about doing. It has been a really cool thing.

Q. What is it going to be like to perform with T-Pain and Def Leppard.

Taylor: The T-Pain collaboration has not really been specified yet and it has been really fun to keep that a secret. We have never confirmed if it is a performance or something else.

Q. Your music is so personal, what was it like the first time you performed a song about someone on stage?

Taylor: For me, writing a song, I sit down and the process doesn’t really involve me thinking about the demographic of people that I am trying to hit or who I want to be able to relate to the song or what genre of music it falls under. For me, when I sit down and write a song, the only person I am thinking about in that room is the person I am writing the song about. It’s what I want them to know and what I wish I could tell them to their face but I am going to say it in a song instead. For me, music is more about a diary and a confession. I love being able to say things to people that I wouldn’t be able to say if I was standing face to face with them. Music is a way for me to verbalize those things that I feel that I can’t say.

Q: What country song do you relate to the most?

Taylor: I have favorites, my top favorite country songs are “Run” by George Strait, “You Were Mine” by the Dixie Chicks and Faith Hill’s “Breathe” and “This Kiss”.

Q: You have spent the day with fans. What was the craziest and most creative thing they brought to sign?

Taylor: As far as the creative things they bring to sign, I have had a lot of interesting things like a turtle shell with my face painted on it! Today, my fans know me so well, they get me awesome presents. This one girl brought me this bracelet, I really like it. A lot of the jewelry and things I wear are fan gifts because they are so awesome. They bring great presents.

Q: As I have walked around on the streets the past few days, I have seen so many little girls from tiny to much older running around this week with sundresses and cowboy boots. Is this a fashion phenomenon that you started?

Taylor: Yes!! I wasn’t trying to start anything, I really wasn’t trying to make people dress a certain way but seeing girls come to my shows wearing sundresses and cowboy boots and curling their hair is one of my favorite experiences ever. I remember when I was considered “weird” for dressing the way I dressed and I was “weird” for having curly hair. It is really fun to see that I am not that weird anymore.

Q. I want to go back to the question about going 100 miles per hour. What do you do to keep from burning out?

Taylor: As far as burning out, I get tired a lot but I never get tired OF it. I remember when I was a little kid and I would sit there and think about how lucky I would be if someday people cared about the words I wrote. How lucky I would be if someday while walking through the mall, I saw some little girl walking by with my face on her shirt. When you spend so much time daydreaming about things like that and then it actually happens, you don’t ever complain about it. When I go to a restaurant, I know a line is probably going to form in front of the table but didn’t I always wish for that? Yes, I did and I never want to be the girl that wanted something so bad her whole life, just one thing and then gets it and complains about it. I am not going to be that girl.

INTERVIEW: George Canyon

Straight from the bio and description of George on his website; as I could not say it much better. You can go ahead and just dance to the music of George Canyon, if that's what you want. He's a country neo-traditionalist par excellence, producing music situated somewhere between the bright and studio-tooled Nashville ideal and something a little older, with a voice that can soar with emotion or linger in a heavy bottom-end that feels like a kick in the chest from a faith healer. It's instant.
When you see the man, with piercing eyes that hang above his square jaw, the star appeal becomes even more obvious, and you remember all those achievements – the string of hits, a shelf-full of Juno’s and Canadian Country Music Awards, not to mention his rocket-ride to American fame on Nashville Star 2 in 2004, and the subsequent blockbuster albums One Good Friend, and Somebody Wrote Love.
George and I spent some time visiting while he was in town for the Global Artist Showcase during CMA Music Festival and I have to say, the above description fit him word for word.

Bev: George I think the first I became aware of your music was on Nashville Star, how many years has it been?

George: I think this is coming up on 5 years.

Bev: Tell me a little bit about what’s evolved between now and then and what you have been doing?

George: You know I’ve been so blessed. I’ve been everywhere, I’ve been all over the world; Vietnam, Cambodia, Ireland, Scotland, France, Germany with our troops and it has been an amazing ride. I’ve been on the Opry multiple times and that’s got to be the coolest thing for me. As a kid I always wanted to be on the Opry and to have little Jimmy Dickens tell me dirty jokes before I go on stage is the greatest thing ever. Being back in Nashville is great, but I’m a little torn right now because I’ve been away for almost two years; I’ve been all over the rest of the world and to come back now it’s interesting. I’ve got butterflies, but at the same time I feel comfortable.

Bev: Did a lot of those doors that opened up for you to travel all over open because of Nashville Star?

George: I would say a lot had to do with that, I’ve been in the business since 1990. I’ve been building the basement, if you will, never quite finishing the walls and Nashville Star finished the walls and stuck a roof on it and it’s been because of that it really allowed me to be at the supper table of most people in both Canada and the United States. We are so blessed and we hope doesn’t end.

Bev: Is this the first time you performed with this type of showcase, the Global Showcase?

George: I think it is. My management said, “Hey the CMA’s wants you to do a showcase and come down and play” I said, “Sure I haven’t been down in a while.” We’ve been touring up in Canada for a couple of months. The schedule worked out to have this one day open to squeak in. We would have liked to come down earlier and stay longer, but we flew in this afternoon and we fly out tomorrow morning first thing, but I would never say no to this kind of opportunity to come down and play again. I love being in Nashville; a lot of my friends are coming out to the show who I haven’t seen in almost two years. So that’s pretty cool.

Bev: What does this kind of showcase mean to you?

George: Oh, it’s great. The country music talent and country music itself has really opened up more than it was twenty, twenty-five years ago. Now it’s encompassing a lot more style within the genre from what I’ve just heard at sound check, it blew me away. It’s very unique to listen to artists that are from the U.K, hear their accents and to hear them sing. I still get a big kick out of that because to hear them sing that accent goes away. I guess mine does too!

Bev: So what are you going to try and do the short time that you are here? Are you going to try and squeeze anything in?

George: You know I’ve been in meetings this afternoon and then I get to do this show tonight and I’m on a plane first thing in the morning. I don’t get to squeeze anything else in. I would have liked to maybe get some time to just visit with some friends and stuff, but we’ll come back. Hopefully come back sooner than another two years. We’ve just been too busy to get back down here so we got to make time.

Bev: What’s the one piece of advice that you’ve been given that you would pass on to someone else who wants to get into this?

George: Well I had a lot of dreams when I was a kid that were dashed when I became a type one diabetic and the one thing I didn’t do was give up or listen to anybody who told me I couldn’t do something. One thing I always wanted to do was to be a pilot and to be in the Air Force. A year ago I got my pilot’s license and they made me an honoree Colonel in the Canadian Air Force. It was very cool and I get to be a part of that elite organization a very small part, but uniformed and everything. It means a lot. So I would say never give up, never listen to anybody that tells you can’t do something.

Bev: Before you go on stage do you have any tradition that you do? Some people say prayers, some chant? What do you do?

George: My boys in my band and I always pray before we go out on stage and if there is anybody we need to pray for during that time, we throw that in there too. What’s funny is when we first started I had to find them to do it, but now they come find me and it’s a great feeling and it’s just a great camaraderie we have and that’s the most important thing we do before we go on stage.

Bev: Thanks so much George, I wish we had more time to talk, but good luck tonight and come back to Nashville soon.

George: Thank you too it has been a pleasure and I look forward to visiting with you again as well.

For more information on George Canyon visit or

INTERVIEW: Q & A With Darius Rucker Backstage at CMA Fest

Q & A with Darius Rucker Backstage at CMA Fest

Q: This is basically your first real experience with Music Fest, last year you came and saw and now you have experienced. What is it like for you?
A: It’s just crazy. This is wild. You know when you are driving around and you see the line around the convention center...It is amazing that this entity that is Country Music says to its fans come to Nashville this week and you get to meet everybody. I really don’t know of any other music genre that could do something like that.
Q. With two number ones and it looks like the next one will go number one as well, what is your secret? Others have tried coming to the Country format and failed miserably. You seem to be doing so well, is there any trick to this?
A: I don’t know what the trick is, I have to be honest with you. We didn’t expect what is happening. I don’t think Capitol ever really sat down and said this record is going to do what my record has done. I wanted to make record that people will listen to. When I write songs, I write songs that I want people to want to listen to. It feels really good to know that this thing I talked about in 1986, I finally got to do it. That is a cool feeling.
Q: You talk about coming into country music and now here at Country Music’s biggest event, what would you say is the most unique thing about our genre?
A: The relationship between the artist and the fan is just so unique in Country Music, it is scary. I told this story so many times about when you couldn’t turn on a radio and not hear Hootie and the Blowfish, I didn’t know the DJs in New York, I didn’t know the DJs in my town. In Country, the Country DJ in my town text me this morning and said can you call me, it is T.J.’s birthday. And all over the country, think about it, these guys in Seattle and down in Tampa and all these DJs that are friends. We text each other and we talk and have a great time. I have a great theory about that. I truly believe the reason the artists and radio can be so close is that in Country Music radio really believes in an artist. They’ll say to you “as long as you keep giving the good songs, we’ll give you air, if you give me crap, we’re not going to play it”. And in Pop music, “I don’t want to be your friend and we might be playing your record right now but chances are I am not going to play your next record. I want to be your friend but I don’t want you to call me when I am not playing your record”. Country is not that way and that is why I am blessed to be where I am standing.
Q: You just got started on the Rascal Flatts tour, comment on that and that I have heard there is going to be a lot of golf. Has it started yet?
A: Oh yes, we have already played. We played two shows and one round of golf. It was so funny, I was at the ACMs and it was late night and somebody said I am going over to the Rascal Flatts party. I said yeah, I have to go to that. I am sitting down and I am there for about an hour and a half and I think between the three of them, it was said about 80 times, “hey, we are going to play so much golf” and it is true. They have such a machine out there and it runs so smoothly. Those guys are great to hang out with and I bet at the end of this tour, we will be good buddies.
Q: Can you talk about charities and the first time you played by yourself this year and your special guest.
A: A lot of years ago, with Hootie and the Blowfish, we were really into charities, education charities in South Carolina. We asked a bunch of these educators that we didn’t know, what was the biggest problem they had. It was amazing that all the rural schools said school supplies, they didn’t have enough supplies and the teachers were trying to go with their small salaries and buy school supplies for these kids who aren’t bringing them to school. So we started this thing called “Home Grown” where we would go and do a show and we would advertise as much as we could and make sure the word got out that we asked everybody to go to Target or Walmart and buy school supplies. And when we played Charleston, we played to a lot of people and we filled up four school buses full of stuff that we would take around to the schools that were needy in the area. We did it for years. One year, Dean, our bass player had some hip surgery and we have taken a few years off. I decided I was going to do it myself. One thing that is great is hanging out with Dierks and I explained it to Dierks. I said “man I would love for you to do this” and without hesitation, he said “Yeah, absolutely”. I called him up last week because we had to change the date to two days later, thinking he’s going to be out. He said “wherever I need to be, I’ll be there” and that’s Country Music. So it will be me and Dierks.
Q: What is the strangest thing you have been asked to autograph?
A: It is always strange to me when you get the random bra and it is not like the bra that is on but like someone just brings their bra and says will you sign this. Is this a new fashion I don’t know anything about? That is always weird to me.
Q: If you had a chance to ride a steel horse or a real horse, what would you pick?
A: Definitely a real horse because my wife doesn’t want me riding a motorcycle. Actually, I have made a vow to myself that if I ever get invited back to the rodeos in Texas, I am going to ride a horse onto the stage. I am going to practice all year.
Q: If you were a Country Music fan and you were to come here to meet someone, who would be you sitting out in the heat to see?
A: Definitely the Flatts , those guys, again, I am really learning a lot. In just two days of watching their show, I just went “wow” this is rock and roll. And for me, the guy that is just blowing me out is Toby Keith’s new record. I would be sitting waiting for him and Jamie Johnson.
Q: Can you tell us a little about the video you just shot.
A: We shot it in Venice, a bunch of crazy people there. I am not going to lie to you guys, Wayne does great work and I love it and I also love the fact that he does one day shoots. It is a lot of fun. It is a fun summer video and I was really happy with it. It just looks great.
Q: I wanted to know about your Hootie fans, are they receptive to the Country Music?
A: I think so, I think it is a really good mix of people that come up to me.

INTERVIEW:Courtney Dickinson Living Her Dreams

If you have not heard of Courtney Dickinson yet or recognize her as a household name, you will soon. Courtney Dickinson at the age of 13 has been blessed to have performed a Duet with Billy Ray Cyrus and has opened for Major Label Country Artists: The Road Hammers, Joe Nichols, Julianne Hough, Kellie Pickler, Jason Aldean, Jonathan Singleton, Jimmy Wayne, Darryl Worley, Trent Tomlinson, Phil Vassar and LeAnn Rimes.

Courtney grace the Grand Ole Opry stage at 5 years and age six she sang at Pres. Jimmy Carter’s Birthday Celebration in Plains Ga. Dickinson has credits in over a dozen commercials, magazine, film & TV.

Bev: Courtney, WOW, you have already done more than most people dream of in a lifetime, and I am so impressed. What has been your most cherished moment so far in your career?

Courtney: There has been a lot, really. It is hard to choose only one. I won a radio contest that allowed me to perform a duet with Billy Ray Cyrus and that was like a dream come true for me.

Bev: Is he someone you have always admired and listened too?

Courtney: My dad has listened to him forever, so I was very familiar with his music.

Bev: What is your dream at this point of what you ultimately hope to achieve?

Courtney: I want to be a solo act, but I also want to cross-over and do acting as well, because I have done so much of that and I enjoy it and much of one flows into the other, so I really want to be both.

Bev: Of all the performers you have had the opportunity to work with, who has been your favorite and why?

Courtney: In January of 2009 I had an opportunity to perform in Chicago at an event that had fourteen major acts, and as they broke down one act and prepared for the next, I was singing on a stage during this time so I opened for Kelly Pickler, Julianne Hough, Darryl Worley, Phil Vassar and I absolutely love every one of them so that has been my favorite time to perform with other artist so far.

Bev: Do you have a preference of the kind of entertainer you hope to eventually settle into or do you enjoy the variety and having many options to choose from?

Courtney: I do want to do a variety and be able to branch into several things.

Bev: Do you enjoy contests and showcase events where you compete against others?

Courtney: I do. It is fun to meet other people and see who is out there. I did one called American Kids and I loved competing in that one.

Bev: Do you find the competition side to be more stressful than some of the other things you have done?

Courtney: Sometimes it is, but I am so excited to have the chance to sing and entertain, so I don’t let it get to me.

Bev: You have four songs that you have written and are available for download on MySpace, do you have a favorite?

Courtney: I have written a lot of songs, but we only have the four online for download right now. My favorite of these four is “It’s Gotta Be Rough”. Another is “Notice Me” which I have not made available yet for download.

Bev: Are you shopping for a label?

Courtney: No, I am trying to get out there and sing and create a fan base, and learn all I can about the business while I grow and improve my skills. I will be putting a CD together soon, but right now I am not shopping for a label.

Bev: Are you planning on utilizing or iTunes or any of the other online resources to sell your songs?

Courtney: No, but when I perform at Tootsies this week during CMA Fest I will be giving away a CD with my new song on it called “Falter” written with Lisa Torres and produced by Steffon Hamulak

Bev: When you write, do you try and write about things you know, or do you write about subjects you have to do research on when you have an idea?

Courtney: I write about things I have experienced, and even though I am young, I have done a lot in my short lifetime, so I can relate to things a lot of others can. I did one called “Ten Words Or Less”, it is about describing love in less than ten words, and even though I have not been in love, I still can write about it.

Bev: Do you target an audience that is your age or do you aim for a wider audience?

Courtney: I do write things for people my age, and I enjoy putting a message in my songs, but I do not just want a young fan base. I want to reach people of all ages.

Bev: Are you addicted to the Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and other online social sites?

Courtney: Absolutely YES! I love all of them and am on them all the time. It is the best way to keep in touch with people when I am travelling and share what is happening in my life and career. I was in Panama City for a week and did not have internet, and it really about killed me not having it.

Bev: What has been the best piece of advice someone has given you?

Courtney: “Turn nothing down but your collar”. I did a competition where I heard this saying and I really believe in this, because you never know where opportunity might be. I think this is so true.

Bev: What has been the most embarrassing moment for you?

Courtney: Oh, I can write a book. I do a lot of embarrassing things. I tripped over a door recently and then hit the door frame in front of people. I cannot think of anything on stage. I have forgotten words, but I mumbled my way through it.

Bev: Because you began entertaining at such a young age, did you show natural talent that led into all of this, or did your parents or someone else encourage you to participate?

Courtney: Well my parents encouraged me, I won a contest for a pretty baby contest – and I had no hair, but my mom thought I had the biggest and most beautiful eyes, so she sent in the photo, and I won. From there, it just kept leading into other things, like the modeling and competitions and singing.

Bev: I understand you are learning the guitar. How is that coming and are you taking lessons or teaching yourself?

Courtney: I am taking lessons from a member of our church; he is also my math tutor. It makes for an interesting time.

Bev: Are you home schooled?

Courtney: I am now. I attended school for half of this school year, but with all the traveling I do, it is easier to home school. I will be in ninth grade next Fall.

Bev: What other instruments do you play?

Courtney: No others right now.

Bev: Has there been a special performance or venue that really has meant a lot to you?

Courtney: Chicago was definitely the best when I was there with so many major artists. I love to travel and see new places, so any venue is an adventure.

Bev: What kind of pressure do you feel at the thought of being a role model for other young performers?

Courtney: I try not to do anything stupid. I do feel some pressure, but I look up to people like Carrie Underwood and try to emulate what they portray.

Bev: CMA Fest is next week in Nashville, what will you all be participating in and experiencing?

Courtney: I am performing twice a day at Tootsies Orchid Lounge during the days, focusing more on the family crowd. I did a set one time last year as well. I am also doing a lot of interviews with the media and trying to meet people.

Bev: Is this your first time to be here during CMA Fest?

Courtney: This is my second year at CMA Fest, and I am so excited to see the fans and my friends again who have been supporting my music. It is a very fun experience and I really enjoy everything when I am here.

Bev: Before you go on stage, do you have any rituals you perform or anything special you do?

Courtney: I warm up my voice and do some scales and I pray I don’t mess up!

Bev: Besides all the acting and singing, what do you do when you are relaxing or off the road?

Courtney: I really enjoy being home so I can hang out with friends and do nothing.

Bev: Do your friends treat you any differently or have they been around you all your life and only know you as the entertainer and model and so on?

Courtney: At school they did, in church not so much, and it is one reason we decided to home school. My friends are all excited to see me achieve goals and see me succeed.

Bev: Courtney, you are quite the young woman and I wish you much success. Thank you for meeting with me and taking time to share so much about yourself. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Courtney: I just want to encourage people to come see me on July 26th for a pre-party for Two Foot Fred’s birthday. I perform at 2 pm before the Big and Rich Concert in Pheasant Run, near Chicago. I am also singing before the Atlanta Braves game on August 2nd.

For more information on Courtney Dickinson please visit her website at or

INTERVIEW: Interview with Duane Propes of Little Texas

Little Texas, known for chart-topping hits such as "Some Guys Have All the Love," "Kick A Little," "Life Goes On" and "Amy's Back in Austin," as well as the No. 1 singles "What Might Have Been," "God Blessed Texas" and "My Love," is celebrating its official 20th-anniversary tour. Four original members remain Duane Propes on bass guitar and background vocals, along withlead guitarist Porter Howell, vocalist-guitarist Dwayne O'Brien, and drummer Del Gray.

With such a rich history and close friendship bonds, Little Texas members always knew the band would reunite at some point. Currently in the midst of the tour I caught up with Duane Propes to talk about the success of the band, the current schedule and future plans.

Bev: Duane, thanks so much for taking time out of your schedule to visit. Of course I grew up listening to Little Texas and still enjoy the songs like so many others. Let's talk about the group Little Texas today, is it just the four of you?

Duane: Yes it is the four of us and all are original members.

Bev: I know you are doing some shows labeled the Triple Threat, with Restless Heart and Diamond Rio, how did that come about?

Duane: We actually started this in 2007 and the original lineup was Blackhawk and Restless Heart. To shake things up we wanted to bring in another act, so we asked Diamond Rio to come on board. We wanted three bands, and we wanted someone who recorded their own material and was sincerely the real deal, what you heard on stage was the same thing you heard on the records.

Bev: I am sure for you guys it is fun to get together and spend time, since you were all so busy on the road and going your own directions before.

Duane: We have done about four shows together this year and we have a blast. We love the time we get to see them on stage. I was overwhelmed when I saw them the first time and realized the talent they have and how great the music is.

Bev: When I looked at the upcoming tour schedule, there were a lot of casino dates on there, are you trying to do those types of venues ?

Duane: It really is not up to us, we rely on the booking agent to fill the schedule. We are open to fairs and other settings as well. Right now, with the economy as it is, casinos seem to have the budget so we play where we can. We are not targeting any specific venue.

Bev: You were in your early twenties when the band was hot and chartingsongs, how have things changed now that you are back out there with thereunion tour?

Duane: We see a lot less tour dates, but that was an intentional . We consciously made a decision to not go out on the road 200 and 300 dates a year. We all have families or other commitments and a life we want to enjoy, so we schedule most of the performances on weekends.

Bev: Are you recording any new songs?

Duane: We are very busy writing. We are actually still under contract with our now defunct label, so we cannot record anything until all of that has been settled. We are very excited to get back into the recording studio and put some new material out there.

Bev: During the time you took off from performing, what did you and theother members do?

Duane: Del Gray is a great song writer and he had several hit songs for Trace Adkins and Gretchen Wilson he wrote with Shannon Lawson; Dwayne O'Brien went back to college and got his masters degree from Vanderbilt in Sound communication and I went into the corporate world for a couple years and worked in Houston for a couple years before moving back to Nashville and working with Gibson in the artist relations.

Bev: Your latest album "Missing Years" has been out for a little while, canwe expect anymore singles to be released from this ?

Duane: We can’t unfortunately since the record label has gone out of business. We would love too.

Bev: Can you offer any digital downloads or anything from the album?

Duane: No it is not under our ownership, so our hands are tied on that project.

Bev: What has been the best thing you have experienced with the reuniontour?

Duane: Seeing a whole lot of our fans from before. Especially those who were really young then, who come back now with their families and are raising them on our music. That feels great. It is so neat to see the next generation and to know that our music touches them as much as it did their parents.

Bev: Have there been any surprises on the tour?

Duane: No big surprises. We have all been in the industry for so long. One of the nice things was just how easy it all came back and how simple it was to fall right into the groove again.

Bev: Going back to you mentioning the label, how does that affect your touring and the budget etc?

Duane: We always have done our own. Even back in the day, our label did not offer tour support, so we do not know any other way.

Bev: Have you noticed any major changes in the touring industry as far as how things work behind the scenes or not?

Duane: No, everything has been the same forever really. Once you have a date and a contract you show up and play. It is not rocket science, although some people try and make it that way. It is what we know and what we do. We do not even have a road manager.

Bev: I am sure touring with friends you have had for so long, there arebound to be some pranks and joking around, can you share any of those?

Duane: Del had a birthday last month, and we had some radio interviews scheduled so we made arrangements ahead of time for the radio stations to have fans come and get autographs and bring him Little Debbie snack cakes and Twinkies instead of birthday cake. One of the best and biggest was a joke we played on Clint Black in the early 90’s. He had a giant rock arch like the Mohave arch in Utah, and at the end of every show he would dive through it, on the very last night of the tour covered the stunt mat in shaving cream and baby powder and when he got up he looked like Casper the ghost. Of course he is dressed in all black. That was the pinnacle of pranks we played.

Bev: Which venue has been one of the most memorable for you?

Duane: To me it has been at the Target Center. It sold out 360 and right behind the Eagles Tour. We sold more tickets than they did and it was just a very cool feeling to know that.

Bev: Does the group have any kind of pre-performance ritual you do beforetaking to the stage?

Duane: No, I am afraid we are incredibly boring when it comes to that. We have always just grabbed our guitars and headed out to the stage. Nothing special we do.

Bev: Of all the songs recorded by Little Texas do you have a personalfavorite? Why?

Duane: My personal favorite is “Kick A Little”, during the guitar solo when I was doing the base line on it I actually threw in a little bit of Ozzy Osborne’s “Flyin’ High Again” and I think it is hilarious every time I play it that country radio was playing Ozzy.

Bev: Which one seems to be the fan favorite?

Duane: There are two. “What Might Have Been” and “God Blessed Texas”. They are the two we get the most requests for and hear from the fans about. Some of the newer ones are starting to creep up there as people get to know them more.

Bev: I know you have said the songs are real because you have lived them andtherefore the fans probably have too, and that helps them relate, does thegroup try and use that as a guideline when choosing songs to record?

Duane: It has to be real to us. It is hard not to put a personal part of us in there. When we listen to other material, it has to be believable.

Bev: What is next for Little Texas?

Duane: We will keep touring and doing what we have been, and of course writing all we can. We are looking forward to being able to get back into the studio again and recording. Summer is always our big season, so we are looking forward to seeing all the fans.

Bev: Thank you so much for visiting with me today and I look forward toseeing you perform soon. Is there anything else you wanted to add?

Duane: We are glad that we have the opportunity to keep doing what we do and that people still want to hear our music. I appreciate you taking time to do this and look forward to seeing you at a show sometime soon.

For more information about Little Texas, including upcoming tour dates, visit