INTERVIEW & REVIEW: Steve Martin on The Grand Ole Opry

Steve Martin, who will be 64 in August 2009, proves by the fact that he waited so many years to do his latest project, that you should never give up pursuing the dreams you had as a kid, and that if you keep dreaming, you can make those dreams a reality someday.

The Grand Ole Opry stage welcomed Martin for a very special performance Saturday May 30th and there was not an empty seat to be found. Martin along with Vince Gill, Amy Grant and John McEuen received enthusiastic applause and standing ovations after each song.

Prior to his performance on stage, a private press conference was held where Martin says he was 17 when he first decided to pick up the instrument and teach himself to play (with help from his friend John and listening to others play). Over the years has honed his expertise of various banjo styles, such as "three-finger" picking, made famous by Scruggs, and "clawhammer" a style known for its syncopated rhythms and distinct melodic phrasing that employs the back of the fingernails to strike or strum the strings, and a thumb technique that alternates between the strings.

When asked about his dreams of playing the Opry and what it meant to him, his reply was “that it ranks very high on his list of things he has always wanted to do”. He fell in love with Bluegrass in the 60’s when he wrote for the Smother’s Brothers comedy hour where Minnie Pearl was a frequent guest, and his desire to play has grown over the years.

Nashville is no stranger to Martin’s career. The Exit Inn was one of the first venue’s to host his comedy act and his first sold out crowd according to Martin.

His new CD project "The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo" was released in January 2009 online at Amazon.com and it has risen to No. 1 on Billboard's bluegrass chart. He is touring this spring playing songs backed by the Steep Canyon Rangers; comprised of five young men who play fiddle, guitar, stand-up bass, mandolin and banjo. "The Crow" debuted at No. 106 on the Billboard 200, when he performed the album track "Pretty Flowers" during the "American Idol" season finale along with contestants Megan Joy and Michael Sarver singing vocals.

When asked what has been the biggest surprise or unexpected reward so far on this new path he responded that the chance to play the Opry was definitely the biggest so far. Stating what a thrill it was to be in the studio with Vince Gill and Dolly Parton as they sang his songs was also an unbelievable moment, he stated he sat there and thought to himself that so many great musicians and artists never get that opportunity.

Vince Gill affirmed that he has always known Steve Martin had a musician’s heart and that the banjo was not just a prop, so he was not at all surprised when this project came up.

Martin noted the similarity in the energy and feeling before a live television performance and being backstage at the Opry. Martin said the emotion is much related. You know there is a live audience waiting and the excitement and anticipation is very much the same, and added “But I don’t know that I am worthy of being on the Opry stage.”

John McEuen (of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) produced the album for his lifelong friend and actor. Martin wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on this album, creating a new body of work that will stand alongside the classics for years to come. John says "The album is great! People will be shocked at how vast and varied is music is, and how great he plays… this album will show Steve as a composer of unique hot licks and soulful lyrics. He is definitely a songwriter with an unusual twist for notes and lyrics; and, in the 45 years I've known him, I've never heard him playing better. I am working with the Chaplin of our era”.

John has known and worked with Steve Martin since high school. John scored Steve's television specials, was instrumental in teaching him how to play the banjo, and has arranged his music and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band played on Steve's hit song, "King Tut." McEuen states “During the entire recording session, I felt a warmth that filled the room. I saw that every musician and all the engineers seemed focused on the music and nothing else. Sitting quietly and unassumingly, Steve played his banjo, teaching us some of his intricate compositions.” McEuen adds “Steve’s songs are infectious and haunting and leave you wanting to hear it again.”

Steve alluded to the fact that some of the compositions were written decades ago, but they sound as fresh as if they were hot off the press. That's because real music built to last, regardless of its genre, always maintains its value.

In 2001, Steve Martin was involved in a project with Earle Scruggs on the recording of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown”, which featured Martin on 2nd banjo, Albert Lee and Vince Gill on guitars, Marty Stuart on mandolin, and Paul Shaffer on piano. "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" is a well recognized bluegrass music instrumental by the seminal bluegrass artists Flatt and Scruggs. It is frequently used as background music, and was featured in the 1967 motion picture Bonnie and Clyde, especially in the car chase scenes. Gill, who was also the host for the final portion of the Opry, asked Martin and McEuen to “try and play” the song, which they did with exuberance and energy.

Martin closed the show with his song “Late For School” which combines his talents as musician and comedian, and again had the crowd on their feet and wishing for more.

For more information on Steve Martin visit http://www.stevemartin.com/

ARTICLE: Frist Friday Kickoff - Danielle Peck Raises Awareness for Safe Haven

Friday May 29th kicked off summertime and Frist Fridays in Nashville with a concert by Danielle Peck to raise awareness for Safe Haven. This monthly event is noted as one of the most popular activities for friends and families, who fill the Turner Courtyard for live entertainment, great art and complimentary hors d’oeuvres under the stars. The festivities start at 6:00 p.m. and conclude at 9:00 p.m. It really is one of the best ways to start the weekend.

One of the current exhibits at the Frist Center is Photographs of Safe Haven. An excerpt from the exhibit explains that in April 2008, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts partnered with Safe Haven Family Shelter to provide an opportunity for cultural enrichment through a community art program offered to its residents. Local photographer Allen Clark and the Frist Center's outreach educators led participants, who ranged in age from three to sixty-five years, in a two-week photography workshop, during which they learned about composition, visual storytelling, and photographic technique. Writing exercises and preliminary drawings helped residents form ideas for images that reflected their thoughts about their lives. On the final day of the workshop, each resident was provided with a Holga 120N camera and invited to capture the compositions they had planned.

Danielle Peck has been a part of raising awareness for Safe Haven since 2006 when she saw the lack of support and recognition of homeless families and became an avid volunteer. The Safe Haven Celebrity Council was created in the summer of 2007. Soon after, she became Safe Haven’s Celebrity Spokesperson. The council is designed to maximize community awareness and demonstrate the true compassion of performing artists. Some of those on the council with Danielle include Martina McBride, Keith Anderson, James Otto, Carters Chord, The Warren Brothers, Emily West and Deana Carter.

Safe Haven relies heavily upon churches and organizations for aid not only in monetary form, but in the voluntary aspect as well. Over the years, they have received unprecedented support from the local community. Without this helping hand, the organization could not exist. The time spent, monetary gifts, and talents have been and continue to be an invaluable contribution.

For more information on The Frist Center for Visual Arts visit http://www.fristcenter.org/

For more information on Safe Haven visit http://www.safehaven.org/

For more information on Danielle Peck visit http://www.daniellepeck.com/

Additional photographs of the event can be seen at www.digitalrodeo.com/drphotos or www.flickr.com/photos/momentsbymoser

INTERVIEW: Jeff Cook "Ashes Won't Burn"

Jeff Cook has been involved in the music industry since he was 13 years old and making his dreams come true, he has not stopped dreaming throughout his career and now is realizing the dream of his own recording studio and solo venture come to fruition as well.

Cook has released a new CD titled “Ashes Won’t Burn” which he refers to as “funtry”. I was able to slow him down long enough to get him to explain why and visit with him about chasing his dreams and the rewards he has gotten in the pursuit.

Bev: Jeff thank you for taking some time out of your busy schedule for me today. Congratulations on your new project. I know you have been very busy promoting it and watching this path of your journey unfold and take on a life all its own, how have the fans embraced it?

Jeff: I have not had any negative responses at all. Everyone has been telling me how refreshing it is and impressive the CD is. So I guess I am doing something right.

Bev: Your dream of the entertainment industry began at an early age, and quickly started to come true for you, tell me how the dream itself has changed over the years.

Jeff: When you have worked in the industry as long as I have; you figure out the dreams and the reality of the business are not what you initially thought. There are many misconceptions, but the desire to do what you love keeps you dreaming up ways to change the business side.

Bev: Let’s go back to your early years and talk about when you were thirteen and already had your sights set on some pretty big goals. You had your own local radio show and owned a tv station. How has all of this impacted your musical career?

Jeff: I worked at a very small market station when I started out and there was a small box with 45’s and there were six slots marked A through F, the first four or five would be for the pop songs, and then the sixth box would be country, so I had exposure to a lot of other genres and some country which gave me a great understanding and perspective of the different cultures and I started to blend them as I began my own career. I believe this had a big impact on my musical career.

Bev: When ALABAMA decided to stop touring and recording as a group it was a major decision and I am sure very emotional. Can you tell me the emotions you feel now as you are starting fresh with this new direction you are headed?

Jeff: After the last show ALABAMA did in North Dakota, I felt a feeling of relief. I could exhale. That night as I spoke wit Larry Hansen, who now plays with me in the AGB, we were making plans then to keep on pursuing the music. As some were saying goodbyes, we were in a different frame of mind and it was more of a “see you next week” feeling. It was exciting to know we could continue doing what we loved. I never felt like I was starting over.

Bev: You and the AGB (Allstar Goodtime Band) continue to the play some of the hit songs of your outstanding past along with the new recordings. Do fans encourage you to keep both in the play lists?

Jeff: I have had a lot of requests for both; I think it is an even mix. I enjoy doing both. The whole band enjoys doing both and there is so much talent there. It is not just about me, it is about the band as a whole. We all take our turns in the spotlight.

Bev: Speaking of the AGB, how did the name come about?

Jeff: I came up with it I guess. Some of the members were from the “Chosen Few”, a name of a group I played with in high school although none of the members are the same. I had played with them even while I was a part of the group ALABAMA. Later we added the rest and came up with the name.

Bev: There are nine members in the band, hand chosen by you. How did you arrive at that number and the kinds of instruments?

Jeff: I set out for eight, but the last one was the percussion player who kept coming to play and would do it for free just to play with us, so I said well if you are here anyway I may as well pay you.

Bev: I have read that you always dreamed of having a state of the art recording studio of your own, and now you do atop Lookout Mountain in Ft. Payne Alabama. Tell me a little about the studio and some of the changes you have had to make as technology and the industry has changed over the years.

Jeff: I think I have everything current with Pro Tools and all the touch screen technology. I have revamped everything a few times to keep it up to date. I love the producing end just as much as I enjoy doing the vocals and performing, so it is a good balance for me to have the studio.

Bev: I would love to visit with you about the new CD. How have you decided to make it available to the fans?

Jeff: The CD is available on most anywhere you can download in digital format; iTunes, CD baby, Amazon, and you can order from my website of course (http://www.jeffcook-agb.com/). I think we may ahead of our time, but I think the future of a physical CD is on the downside and eventually everything will be digital only.

Bev: You have self described the current CD as “funtry”, a blend of country and rock with some soul sounds mixed in. How did this nickname come about?

Jeff: “Funtry” is good music. It does not matter if it is country or pop, it is fun music to play and fun to listen too. I just coined the term one day and it stuck.

Bev: You have often times been referred to as “Mr. Musician” because of all the different instruments you have acquired the talent and ability to play. What was the first instrument you learned to play?

Jeff: I learned guitar and piano at the same time. My dad played guitar and I surpassed his abilities by the time I was thirteen. My parents encouraged me to play and when I found I had the desire and talent it just took off.

Bev: Which was the hardest instrument to learn?

Jeff: Fiddle was very hard for me. I do not see myself as a fiddle player.

Bev: Do you have a favorite out off all them?

Jeff: I love the bass, but guitar is right up there, and fiddle and mandolin … (ha ha ha he chuckles) I guess I really enjoy playing them all. I am actually learning to play the saxophone right now. I love learning to play.

Bev: You named the CD “Ashes Won’t Burn”, was the any significance to the name?

Jeff: The song “Ashes Won’t Burn” has always been a strong song that I have carried with me for many years and always wanted to do. It is reminiscent to Muscle Shoals style of music.

Bev: In today’s economy and ever changing music industry, we are seeing more and more artist that are not signing with the major labels and instead marketing their product themselves. How has this self release pushed you to reach out and venture into areas you may not have had to do with past projects?

Jeff: Major labels had their chance. I have more control now and of course one less entity to split profits with. The major downfall is there is not the budget available for promotions you would have if a major label was behind you, so you have to utilize your creative side to come up with ways to promote and market your product. I think we have tried to take advantage of all the media types and opportunities to get this CD in front of everyone and we have been pretty successful so far.

Bev: Are you a hands on person when it comes to the online social media sites that are so popular in promoting the artists and other products or do you prefer to let others do that part?

Jeff: I am on the computer a lot, but personally I do not do the Facebook or Twitter. My website of course has web chats and I am very involved in that aspect of the internet team.

Bev: CMA Fest is just around the corner, are you participating in the event this year?

Jeff: I am doing the Porter Wagner Bass Tournament, the Somett Pavilion and a few other things. I will definitely be participating.

Bev: The initial release of “Ashes Won’t Burn” was on iTunes in March of this year. What has been the most common reaction you get from the fans?

Jeff: The fans love the variety of the songs and the variety of vocals. I am not always the lead and I think this is one thing that makes this so special.

Bev: With you being in the music industry for so much of your life, what are your peers saying about this project?

Jeff: Everyone has been supportive and encouraging. I have my own approach to recording and entertaining, and as long as I continue having success I will keep doing it my own way.

Bev: Did you produce all of this yourself?

Jeff: I did, everything was produced at my studio in Fort Payne.

Bev: On a very personal level, you have emerged with this new project with a new look and dramatic weight loss. Can you share your experience and elaborate what motivated you to get where you are right now?

Jeff: In August 2005 I had a gastric bypass surgery. It was a textbook procedure with no complications. I lost weight and my blood pressure dropped. It saved my life. I had been carrying a lot of weight and had not been taking care of myself, now I am much healthier and I would recommend it to others.

Bev: Is this something you would consider being a spokesperson for?

Jeff: I have not officially been approached, but I do encourage others when I am given an opportunity.

Bev: Jeff is there anything else you wished I would have asked you that I did not or that you want to get out to the listeners and fans?

Jeff: Yes, I need to sell millions of these, so please tell everyone you know to buy a copy. There are originals, covers and a good variety of music on this project and everyone will like it. The difference in technology comes out in this project and I honestly want people to give it a listen and not base it on recognizing song titles.

Bev: What is next on the horizon for you and the band?

Jeff: I have a Christmas CD in the works and also a gospel project I want to do so I plan on keeping very busy.

Bev: In closing I want to talk about one other special song project you are involved with called Tribute To A Soldier. Can you tell me more about this?

Jeff: This makes reference to the time people lose while they are serving our country while in the military. It is based around a poem Ken Randolph heard and he recruited me to help along with Charlie Daniels. This is also available on iTunes and is a very touching song. Everyone knows someone who is in the military or was, it is very inspirational and therapeutic.

Bev: Thank you so much Jeff, I always enjoy spending time with you. Best of luck with everything and see you again soon.

Jeff: My pleasure and I appreciate you taking the time to take interest in my work and that of the band.



ALL ACCESS MAGAZINE: Digital Rodeo Hires Bev Moser

DIGITAL RODEO/NASHVILLE has tapped veteran photographer and journalist BEV MOSER to their editorial team. MOSER's duties will include exclusive artist interviews, showcase and event features, album and concert reviews, music news and photo assignments.
Since moving to Nashville in 2000, MOSER has been covering music industry events through her freelance business, MOMENTS BY MOSER. She has been a contributor for publications such as MUSIC ROW, ASCAP TODAY, DREAM WEST MAGAZINE, CountryHound.com, as well as others. MOSER tells ALL ACCESS that her blog will continue at www.mosermoments.blogspot.com.
MOSER can be reached at (615) 347-4661 or bevmoser@comcast.net.

Bev Moser Joins Online Network Digital Rodeo

Online country music lifestyle portal Digital Rodeo has announced the addition of photographer and journalist Bev Moser to their editorial team.   Moser’s duties will include artist interviews, showcase and event features, album and concert reviews, music news and photo assignments.
Since moving to Nashville in 2000, Moser has been covering music industry events through her freelance business, Moments by Moser.  Her work has been featured in ASCAP Daily, Dream West Magazine, Music Row, and CountryHound.com, among others.
“In our quest to offer country fans the latest in country music news, we are thrilled to add Bev Moser to the Digital Rodeo team.  Her talent promises to bring amazing content to Digital Rodeo’s fans and artists alike,” said Digital Rodeo Director of Marketing and Promotions John Pyne.
Moser can be reached at 615-347-4661 or bevmoser@comcast.net.
About DigitalRodeo.com:
DigitalRodeo.com is the premier country news, music and lifestyle portal for country music fans everywhere.  Community membership is free and offers fans and artists alike the opportunity to connect with each other, upload and download audio and video, watch exclusive DigitalRodeo.com content and stay updated on what’s happening in the world of country music.  For more information, visit www.DigitalRodeo.com.

ARTICLE: Cops and Jocks Celebrity Softball Game for M.A.D.D.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) benefited as a large crowd of spectators and fans of all ages gathered to enjoy the 2009 Cops and Jocks Celebrity Softball Game held on Tuesday May 26th, at Mundy Park in Mt Juliet, TN. Organized by Lt. Wesley Neely of the Mount Juliet Police Department, this year celebrates the tenth year for the event, which enlists officers from Mt. Juliet, Metro Nashville, and both the TN and KY Highway Patrol along with many celebrities and professional sport athletes.
The fundraising event started as a result of a tragic automobile accident in 1998 when a drunk driver killed both Joyce and Jennifer Bennett of Mt Juliet while traveling on Lebanon Road. The purpose of the event is to bring to the forefront the awareness of drinking and driving but, the crowd and the participants of the event also enjoyed entertainment on and off the field, chances to bid on one of a kind autographed items and a free after game concert.
Several items that were auctioned off, included a guitar autographed by all the celebrities who participated in the fundraising event, an autographed silk shirt worn by Randy Travis, a Charlie Daniels autographed fiddle as well as some of the players baseball gloves, shoes and T-shirts which had also been autographed.

Celebrity players participating in this years event included Tennessee Titans Kyle Vanden Bosch, Casey Cramer, Justin Gage, Craig Hentrich, Donnie Nickey along with several Titans Cheerleaders, country artists Vince Gill, Dean Sams and Cody Collins of Lonestar, Rhean Boyer- Jeremy Baxter and Marvin Evatt of Carolina Rain, Bo Bice of American Idol, Justin Moore, Lee and Elaine ( The Roys), Music Row’s number one song plugger, Sherrill Blackman, News 2 Reporter Joe Dubin and many many others.
The evening was highlighted with a free concert on the ball diamond held after the game concluded. The crowd was entertained by, Will Peppers and Chris Young.



For more information on MADD please visit http://www.madd.org/



Additional photos of the event are available at www.digitalrodeo.com/drphotos or www.flickr.com/photos/momentsbymoser



ARTICLE: BMI holds #1 party for “It’s America”

Music Row executives, members of the music community, family and friends gathered on Tuesday May 26th at BMI to recognize those involved with the #1 song, “It’s America”. The single from the album of the same name was written by Brett James and Angelo Petraglia and recorded by Curb recording artist Rodney Atkins. Producer Tod Hewitt was also on hand to receive accolades for his participation on this project.

A signature guitar was given on behalf of BMI to writer Pertaglia, along with a silver engraved cup to the artist, writers and producer of the song. Awards and plaques were also graciously given by Tammy Genovese from the Country Music Association, Ed Salamon of the Country Radio Broadcasters and Country Weekly Magazine presented a special plaque for the story behind the song. Curb Records was on hand to present each of them each with a framed commemorative CD recognizing the #1 status.

“It’s America” is the fifth number one single for Atkins, and is the first release off his third album. The song comes at a perfect time when Americans are coming together to help fellow mankind during a time of need in so many families. The song tugs at emotions from the first verse referencing a lemonade stand and the iconic picture perfect postcard to the chorus filled with the things listeners hold dear as childhood memories and American traditions.

Petraglia is a valued song writer and producer in the music scene, both in the country genre and pop music. He’s scored cuts in recent years with a variety of mainstream artists such as Martina McBride, Tim McGraw, Trisha Yearwood, Sara Evans, Leann Womack, Brooks and Dunn and Jessica Andrews and is recognized as a valued part of the Kings of Leon.

James an artist and hit songwriter is well known for Carrie Underwood’s 2006 Number One hit “Jesus,Take The Wheel”, which received Grammy Awards for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song. He has also had great success with songs recorded by Kenny Chesney, Jessica Andrews and Martina McBride.

For additional photos of the event, check out Digital Rodeo photos at www.digitalrodeo.com/drphotos

ARTICLE: Steve Azar "MOO LA MOO" Sneak Peak Video Shoot



Steve Azar is hitting the airwaves again, and he brought along some friends from L.A. to the Mercy Lounge in Nashville on Wednesday May 20th to film the video for his first single on his upcoming CD. Actors Paula Trickey ("The OC") and Gary Valentine ("The King of Queens") offered Azar friends and fans an opportunity to get up close and personal during the day long shoot for “Moo La Moo”.

The video is directed by Eric Welch [who also directed the video for Azar’s hit song “I Don’t Have To Be Me (til Monday)”]. In a dance floor scene, Valentine holds a series of dance auditions to get a line dance craze started for the tune where his physical comedy on the dance floor as well as audition videos adds humor and lighthearted fun to the atmosphere. Trickey along with other dancers are showcased auditioning and showing off their dance moves while Azar and his band perform live on stage while the auditions are taking place.

Later that same evening Azar invited the public to join in on the excitement and be a part of the live concert portion of the video. The first 100 fans were welcomed to the venue at no charge and the concert was open to the public once the video wrapped.
"Moo La Moo," written by country-rock artist, Azar and hit songwriters A.J. Masters ("Change My Mind", "Love Ain't Like That") and Jim Femino ("Just Got Started Lovin’ You", "Like A Woman"), is an upbeat, light-hearted song about an all-too-relatable dilemma -- being broke long before payday comes. The single is already receiving air play after its release in April and can also be downloaded at iTunes.

Look for Azar’s new album on Ride Records, scheduled for release this summer. For more information on Steve Azar visit http://www.steveazarlive.com/.

REVIEW: Lainey Edwards "Lucky Girl" CD Release Party



Lainey Edwards took the stage on Thursday May 21st at The Rutledge in Nashville to showcase her new CD titled “Lucky Girl”. Jody Williams of BMI introduced Lainey as one of the industry’s hottest new female acts to hit town.

Music row executives, family and a room packed with friends and fans listened as Lainey performed many of the songs from her album in which she co-wrote with some of Music City’s finest song writers. One of the songs performed “I Found A Good Man”, was precluded with a heartfelt and special thanks to her co-writers, Kent Blazy and Cory Batten. The lyrics encourage listeners to not rush, but wait to fall in love with the right person. Lainey also sang a powerful version of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” accompanied only with piano. Her astounding and soulful sound gave the song a new life and garnered an enthusiastic and loud applause from her guests.

Brett Beavers, another well known name in the music industry produced “Lucky Girl” and has said “She can write 'em.....and she can really sing 'em. I have been a huge fan of her smoky, soulful, powerful voice since the first recording I heard of her. I love the classiness of her style, her steady work ethic, and her sharp business sense.”

For more information on Lainey Edwards visit http://www.laineyedwards.com/ or www.myspace.com/laineyedwards.




For more photos of the event visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/momentsbymoser/sets/72157618671595426





ARTICLE: Jamey Johnson Gold Celebration at BMI



Jamey Johnson was the guest of honor at BMI during a rooftop celebration in Nashville on Tuesday evening May 19th to acknowledge the certification of his Gold record for “That Lonesome Song”.


Luke Lewis, Chairman of Universal Music Group Nashville, spoke to the crowd and presented Johnson and those who contributed to the success with Gold Album plaques commemorating the accomplishment. Initially this album was only available as a digital download, which makes it this milestone an accomplishment to be very proud of.

Jamey’s family joined him in the festivities along with his producers (Dave Cobb) and band; Kent Hardly Playboys (Wayd Battle, Jim "Moose" Brown, T.W. Cargile, Kevin "Swine" Grantt, "Cowboy" Eddie Long and Dave Macafee). Perusing the crowd, familiar faces were everywhere, including Teddy Gentry, Phillip Sweet of Little Big Town, Whispering Bill Anderson, The Oak Ridge Boys, Keith Anderson and Heidi Newfield, as well as many other industry executives and music row writers, publishers and management who turned out to share in this momentous occasion.


During the photo’s many of the label personnel surprised Jamey by donning goatees similar to Jamey in humor of his rough and ragged appearance. They even had one for his young daughter to wear which brought rounds of laughter from the crowd.


Jamey Johnson’s critically acclaimed album, That Lonesome Song, has been certified gold by the RIAA commemorating 500,000 in sales. The record has spent 20 weeks inside the top ten on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart. That Lonesome Song was released on Mercury Records on August 5, 2008. The music industry, fans, country radio and journalists from all over the country were drawn to the authenticity of Johnson’s music and he immediately garnered rave album reviews. That Lonesome Song made “Best Albums of 2008” lists (all genres) by Rolling Stone, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Houston Chronicle, The Dallas Morning News, Billboard, PASTE and many more. iTunes named Johnson’s That Lonesome Song the Best Country Album of 2008 and his debut single, “In Color,” Best Country Song of 2008.


Johnson co-produced the tracks "Place Out on the Ocean" and "Between Jennings and Jones" with Dave Cobb and his band, the Kent Hardly Playboys (Wayd Battle, Jim "Moose" Brown, T.W. Cargile, Kevin "Swine" Grantt, "Cowboy" Eddie Long and Dave Macafee). The rest of the album was produced by the Kent Hardly Playboys. Former ALABAMA bass guitarist Teddy Gentry plays bass guitar on "Stars in Alabama".


Recently, Johnson took home the ACM Song of the Year award for his hit single “In Color.” This was Johnson’s second win in the ACM Song of the Year category. He previously won in 2006 for “Give It Away,” which was recorded by George Strait. CMT just announced their first round finalists for the “2009 CMT Music Awards” and Johnson received two nominations for “In Color” - one for Male Video of the Year and the other in the USA Weekend Breakthrough Video of the Year category.


For more information on Jamey Johnson visit http://www.jameyjohnson.com/


ARTICLE: Plantin' Hope In The 'Boro


Nashville may be a large city, but the community has a small town feeling when it comes to helping neighbors during times of need. A perfect example of the warmth and compassion was apparent at the “Plantin’ Hope In The ‘Boro” fundraiser held at The Limelight for the April 10th tornado victims in Murfreesboro.
(Photo L -R: Karyn Rochelle, Corey Batten and Kent Blazy)

Music Circle Inc. helped organize the function with Trisha Fogle, who partnered with Greenhouse Ministries, an organization actively involved in the rebuilding efforts in the Rutherford County area. One of the many ways Greenhouse Ministries is assisting those who lost so much is with a tornado relief warehouse at the old Goody's location at Stones River Mall to help tornado victims get the items they need to rebuild a home for their families. Donated items are being accepted at the warehouse through June 20th.

Performers took the stage in typical writers round fashion to share not only the music, but the stories behind the songs that held special places in their hearts. Some of the hit song writers and country artists who generously gave of their time and amazing talent included Leslie Satcher, Doug Johnson, Kent Blazy, Cory Batten, Karyn Rochelle, Chas Sandford, Chip Davis, Aaron Benward, Brian McComas, Erin Enderlin, Mark Stephen Jones, Shane McAnally & Camille Wallin. The last round held a special treat for guests when surprise guest Hal Ketchum jumped on stage to share his talents and beautiful vocals. The evening closed, but not quietly as Doug Johnson and Chas Sanford had the crowd on their feet and many on stage during their performance of the huge hit song “Missing You”.

Anyone wishing to donate to the Tornado Relief Fund, an account has been set up at Wilson Bank and Trust. You may also make a donation at Greenhouse Ministries' office. If your home was damaged, please contact Julie(494-0499) at Greenhouse Ministries to set up an appointment.
For additional information on Greenhouse Ministries visit http://www.greenhousemin.org/home.

ARTICLE: Jo Dee Messina Helps St. Judes With Inaugural Music Row Road Race



Jo Dee Messina donned her running shoes and campaigned for runners in the community to join her at the inaugural Music Row Road Race on Saturday, May 16 through historic downtown Nashville. The 5K and Celebrity Fun Run was organized to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

As you looked through the crowd it was easy to identify the participants who choose to raise additional donations and become a St. Judes’ Hero as they all wore a maroon tank top with the HERO insignia on front designating them as a St. Jude’s Hero. These caring members of the community were there to show their support in making a difference in the lives of children battling cancer and other catastrophic diseases at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital where children are treated regardless of a family’s ability to pay.

“Bring On The Rain” was not the theme song organizers had in mind for the event; skies were gray and rain fell during the early morning registration, but as the fun run for the younger runners started, the clouds parted and the sun came out to make the race day perfect. Mayor Karl Dean was on hand to thank everyone for coming out and start the race; both he and Messina joined the participants to run in the event which started and ended in front of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Jo Dee lost her five year old nephew to cancer so it makes perfect sense that St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital is very close to her heart and she loves to run, so the idea was born to merge the two and the 1st annual fundraiser was organized. The event was sponsored by Cracker Barrel, Nashville YMCA, Pie In The Sky Pizza, Nashville Muse, Fox 17, WSIX the Big 98 and The Spa of Cool Springs. Tents and booths were set up in the Hall of Fame Park for the various sponsors where you could indulge in chair massages in the Hero tent, entertainment for youngsters such as balloon animals, crafts and children’s games and everyone enjoyed the live music performances by Charlotte Medley, Due West, Jimmy Barret, and Rachel Williams, who was joined on stage for an impromptu song with Ms. Messina.

St. Jude’s organizers held a ceremony in the Hall of Fame Park following the road race where the top runners in each age division were given an award in the shape of a glass musical note. An on stage presentation of framed Hatch Print commemorative posters where given to Jo Dee and the top event sponsors for their participation.

Saturday evening, a concert was held at the Wildhorse Saloon for the participants and volunteers. Musical trio Point of Grace opened the show headlined by Messina, who kept the show very intimate and personal, taking requests from the crowd as well as sharing touching personal stories about her songs and those in her life touched by cancer. Jo Dee was honored with several standing ovations from the crowd during the evening for her outstanding performances and emotion charged songs. The top ten fundraisers for the Hero’s event were given an opportunity to meet Jo Dee backstage for autographs and photos. During the concert fans rallied and collected over $1500 more in donations to be added to the $100,000 raised at the 5K run earlier in the day.

For more information on St. Judes’ Children’s Hospital visit http://www.stjude.org/. For more information on Jo Dee Messina visit http://www.jodeemessina.com/ or http://www.digitalrodeo.com/jodeemessina.

Additional photos of the Music City 5K Road Race and post event concert can be seen at http://www.flickr.com/photos/momentsbymoser/collections/72157618265413843/ .

ARTICLE: Country Songwriters Celebrate First No 1. Single With "She's Country"

BMI hosted a private invitation only party on Tuesday May 12th in celebration of the #1 Jason Aldean hit song “She’s Country" penned by Bridgette Tatum and Danny Myrick. Not only is this the first country song for both songwriters, it also took the number one spot on iTunes all-genre ringtone chart. Released in late 2008 as a single, it is the seventh single of Aldean’s career, as well as the first from his third album, "Wide Open".

Root 49 songwriters Myrick (formerly of the band Western Flyer), along with Tatum, both expressed genuine gratitude to many people who contributed to their success and believed in them during the awards presentation. Bridgette credits her co-writer Danny Myrick with helping her take her own fiery stage performances and translate that energy to her debut recordings. Producer Michael Knox was also on hand to receive various accolades and awards from BMI and other Music Row Executives.

“She’s Country” was debut’d at the CMA Awards in November and has pushed Aldean’s third and latest CD sell more than 108,000 units its first week—an accomplishment that landed Wide Open at the No. 2 spot on Billboard’s Country Albums Chart and in the No. 4 slot on the all-genre Billboard Top 200 chart.
(More photos uploaded soon)

REVIEW: MUSIC 4 MUSIC An Evening Of Story and Song

The Performing Arts Center inside Ravenwood High School in Brentwood, TN was bustling with excitement and energy on Thursday May 7th. The 5th annual Music 4 Music fundraiser, which benefits the Ravenwood High School band program, had three of the music industries finest singer/songwriters on hand to share their songs, sign autographs and pose for photographs to help raise money for the music program. A silent auction also was a highlight of the evening with a wide assortment of autographed memorabilia from the music industry as well as TN Titans, Vols, and many more highly sought after items.

(Above: Monty Powell, Julianne Hough & Chuck Wicks)

Julianne Hough (ABC's Dancin' With The Stars, "That Song In My Head" "My Hallelujah Song"), Chuck Wicks (ABC's Dancin' With The Stars, "Stealing Cinderella" "All I Ever Wanted") and Monty Powell ("Days Go By," "Sweet Thing," "Tonight I Wanna Cry," "One Of These Days") graciously spent time visiting with students and fans during a VIP reception which preceded an intimate show to a very appreciative crowd. All three joked and told stories about the making of the songs as well as sharing some personal moments about themselves, each other as well as a little about the behind the scenes on Dancin’ With The Stars.




















(Above: Olivia Galloway, Julianne Hough and Kate Galloway during the VIP reception)

For more photos of this event, please visit http://www.digitalrodeo.com/drphotos/photos/album/Music4MusicJulianneHoughChuckWicksandMontyPowell

10 Celebrity Cancer Survivors Who Have Inspired Others

There can be no question that cancer is blight on the world; every year it takes the lives of huge numbers of people across the globe. It has no prejudice, striking down young and old, black and white, rich and poor alike. As such, it also strikes our cherished celebrities taking their lives in equal numbers.
But, also, as with all cases of cancer, many Celebs get through their ordeal and come back as strong as ever. The only real different with celebrities that win their fight and survive cancer is that they can be seen back in the public eye and are a clear inspiration to other people who are suffering to not give up hope and fight back and hopefully win the battle against these various forms of cancer.
Here are just Ten of the many celebrity cancer survivors who are showing that it is possible to win the cancer fight.

1. Kylie Minogue

kylie minogue
( photo by niceguycomefirst )
Kylie Minogue, the famous Australian starlet, who is known for her sexy music videos and sultry voice especially in the world wide smash “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” also had a bout with breast cancer in 2005.
She is now currently in remission and in the past year has published a children’s book and returned to both the concert and Broadway stage.
Throughout her battle she remained strong, publicly stating that with the aid of friends and family she was determined to beat breast cancer and pick up her life where she left off before her diagnosis, it is said that untold numbers of young women were saved by early detection as a direct result of the publicity around her story.

2. Steve Jobs

steve jobs
( photo by TechShowNetwork )
Steve Jobs, a celebrity due to his status as co-founder of Apple, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2004. Although he is most recognizable for the Apple brand, Jobs also is a member of the Board of Directors of Walt Disney and was CEO of Pixar Animation until Disney acquired the stock.
Despite the fact that pancreatic cancer is normally inoperable, Jobs is now in remission after undergoing a radical new procedure in which part of the pancreas is removed [Pancreatic cancer treatment].
Although there has been speculation about his health, Apple reports Jobs still contributes heavily to decisions and is in remission from cancer.

3. Lance Armstrong

lance armstrong
( photo by LENSOVERTURE )
Lance Armstrong is well known for his battle with testicular cancer in 1996 and was given a 2% chance of surviving the cancer. This is because it had spread to his brain, lungs, and abdomen.
Not only did Armstrong beat the odds and successfully enter remission but he also won the Tour de France not once, but, seven times since having a 98% chance of succumbing to cancer. [Testicular cancer cure]
Although he retired in 2005 from competitive bicycling it seems he cannot keep away as he returned to the sport in January of 2009.

4. Nelson Mandela

nelson mandela1
( photo by PHILIP SCHEDLER )
Political figure Nelson Mandela was also diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001 after being released from prison and ending the Apartheid regime in South Africa.
At this point he retired from the public eye and entered radiation for his cancer which was successful as he has now been in remission since 2004 [Radiation treatment].
Mandela is enjoying his peaceful life with family and can credit a Noble Peace Prize to the list of accolades he has received.

5. Fran Drescher

fran drescher
( photo by linhngo )
Fran Drescher, known for her nasal vocal qualities in many movies and starring as TV’s The Nanny, had to put her life on hold when she was diagnosed with stage 1 uterine cancer in June of 2000.
Although it was misdiagnosed for about two years, when it was discovered, fortunately, it was still in stage 1, allowing her to undergo a radical hysterectomy procedure and now lives her life without cancer in the background. Fran spoke out about her battle in a book title Cancer Schmancer.

6. Gene Wilder

gene wilder
( photo by Caroline Bonarde )
Gene Wilder, who most people know fondly as Willy Wonka from the Chocolate Factory movie, was diagnosed with lymphoma, (non-Hodgkins) in 1999 but was able to beat the strain and has been in remission and living a private life since 2000.
His wife Gilda Radner passed away from ovarian cancer [signs of ovarian cancer] and he has been a vocal advocate of cancer charities since his recovery. Also, since he went into remission for his cancer he has published several books including the 2007 release My French Whore and in 2008 The Women Who Wouldn’t.

7. Kathy Bates

kathy bates
Actress Kathy Bates, who is best known for her work in Misery for which she won an Academy Award, has waged a private battle with ovarian cancer in 2003 but since it leaked to the press she has announced that she was able to make a full recovery and is now more than five years into remission.
Bates continues to pop up in movies as the overbearing adorable characters she is known for; with appearances recently in films such as PS I Love You, Bee Movie, and The Family That Preys.

8. Suzanne Somers

Suzanne Somers
( photo by Marzal )
Suzanne Somers, known as the endless beauty and author of several self-help books as well as the sexy step mother in Step by Step in the early nineties, battled breast cancer in 2001.
Unlike most people she choose to receive surgery and radiation treatment but bypassed chemotherapy for alternative cancer treatment that included mistletoe injections.
Since then she has been an avid supporter of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy and also penned a bestselling novel on the topic entitled Ageless.

9. Olivia Newton John

olivia newton john
Most people recognize Olivia Newton John as Sandy in Grease or for her hit single Let’s Get Physical, but John now spends her time campaigning and raising awareness of breast cancer.
In 1992 she was diagnosed with the disease at a time when the subject was still taboo in pop music culture. Since then she has literally changed her tune releasing music to uplift women’s spirits and donating a generous portion or proceeds to breast cancer foundations.
John continues to raise cancer awareness and release albums and recently was seen on stage at Sound Relief in aid of the Victoria brush fire victims in Australia.

10. Christina Applegate

christina applegate
( photo by indoloony )
The most recent celebrity to be profiled publicly for her bout of cancer, Christina Applegate, known for her role in Married with Children and in a rash of movies, was diagnosed with cancer in August of 2008.
Although the cancer was caught early and only in one breast she found that she carries the gene mutation that would cause the cancer to arise again and elected to have a double mastectomy.
She is now cancer free and undergoing reconstructive surgery. The recent 2009 People magazine voted her the most Beautiful Person of the Year and the production of her new Television sitcom “Samantha Who?” has continued production as usual.

REVIEW: CMT Crossroads Bryan Adams and Jason Aldean

CMT Crossroads has again brought together voices that when put together on stage blend into a magical sound that leaves the listener begging for more. Jason Aldean and Bryan Adams, both independently strong vocalist and songwriters who come from distinctively opposite upbringings and are classified in different musical genres, but together create an out of the ordinary blend of sound.

Taped at The Factory in Franklin, TN, there was not an empty seat in the house. The “invitation only” audience lined the outer edges of the room to fill the standing room only area so they could witness the two powerhouse artist as they bantered and joked with each other; sharing stories that bring a personal aspect to the show.

In typical Crossroads fashion of having the artists sing the others songs, the night could have gone on for several more hours with no complaints from the guests who were on their feet, singing every word, clapping to the beat and swaying with the music to such hit tunes as “Summer of ‘69”, “Why”, “Country”, “Heaven”, “Amarillo Sky”, “The Only Thing That Looks Good On You Is Me” and “Cuts Like A Knife” and more.

Bryan Adams is a Canadian rock singer-songwriter whose career has spanned 29 years since the release of his first album, but he has been performing since age 15 when he quit school to become the lead singer in nightclubs. He is recognized for his Grammy winning song "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" which spent a record-breaking seventeen weeks at number one.

Jason Aldean is an American country singer-songwriter from Macon, GA who rose to the music scene in 2005 and since then has had seven singles on the Billboard country singles charts, including the two number one hits.

This episode of CMT Crossroads will premiere on June 26, 2009 – set your DVR, this is one you will want to keep!

For more information on CMT Crossroads visit http://www.cmt.com/shows/dyn/cmt_crossroads/series.jhtml.

For more information on Bryan Adams visit www.bryanadams.com and for additional information on Jason Aldean visit www.jasonaldean.com.

INTERVIEW: Tracy Lawrence "The Rock"

Tracy Lawrence is an icon in the genre of country music. His songs have always had a message and a meaning as well as story lines his listeners could relate to. As Tracy emerges with his new CD titled THE ROCK, he keeps a promise to his parents who have been encouraging him to record a spiritual album for years.

A few words taken from the promotional packet included with an advance copy of the CD that I felt summarizes the feeling of the music and sets a mood on what you can expect on this project.

“In youth, the road of life is paved with distractions and temptations. A false sense of invincibility and immortality skews our vision and direction; dreams of riches and the perception of our own mortality blur the line between fantasy and reality. A meaningful life has chapters – each more fulfilling with learned patience and faith. Character replaces ignorance; pride replaces shame, truth in place of deception, hope for despair, forgiveness of guilt and harmony where none existed all in the cradling arms of God."

Tracy and I took a few moments to chat about this new project and how life has changed him and what the future might hold.

Bev: I know you have waited for many years to do this project, do you recall the moment you decided this was the right time?

Tracy: I jut knew in my heart that the time was right. I grew up very spiritually and the road I have traveled to come full circle back to this place I am in right now in my personal life has taken me a long time. I think my kids have been a big part of the decision as well. My wife and I agree it is very important to raise our children with the church, so we have started to attend services again and be involved with the church and making it a priority in our lives. It has had a positive affect on me in a lot of good ways. I ran from it for a very long time. God has protected me from myself for a very long time. I did not want anything to do with it, and it is really strange, because this project has probably landed in my lap at one of the most appropriate times when you look at the situation the country is in and it truly feels like there has been an upper hand in it.

Bev: Speaking of raising your own children in a Christian way, was your own upbringing in a strict religious fashion or were you not exposed to it so much?

Tracy: It was pretty strict. We attended church every Sunday and I was very very involved in the youth activities in our church. I was president of our local UMC Youth Group and I was elected the district president, youth delegate, and you name it. There was a point that I actually considered going to seminary. Country music had such a strong hold on me and I felt so strongly about following the music, that I chose that path. Looking back now, I believe that this was all a part of his plan and that the full circle was to enable me to experience some of the bad so that I could be in the place I find myself now. I have seen life from so many perspectives, that I am now able to write some of the best music I have ever written in my life because I have so much to draw from; bad marriages, bad mistakes, just so many things that as an artist, the more you live the more believable the songs are when you write them. Had I done the same songs at twenty three, they would not be accepted the same as they are today.

Bev: In the past you have always had songs which had a story line and a meaning, did you try and incorporate that same concept into this CD project or were you aiming for a different direction?

Tracy: I did not want to depart from what I have done in the past. I did not have a blueprint of exactly what I was looking for, I just knew as I listened to all the songs what hit home for me and which songs moved me, and those are the kinds of songs I wanted to put together to make this album. I did not have a goal to choose any specific sound or have a specific message.

Bev: Being a husband and parent, how has it changed the way you view life and your career?

Tracy: For me I am in a place where every decision I make I put my family into consideration first, where it used to be all about me; all of the time. It is a drastically different for me, and what blows my mind is the less focus I put on me and the more I put others first, it seems the more success I gain in my own career. Everything seems to fall into place and life continually gets a little easier. I wish I could have figured that out ten years ago.

Bev: How do you feel you have changed as an artist and songwriter from when you first started to where you are now?

Tracy: I have grown a lot. The kid in me is still there, but the one thing I have noticed is that there was a point in time when I lost my passion for the music, but I am very proud to say I have found it again. I am enjoying writing again, and performing and getting up on stage. I am so thankful after almost twenty years on the road that I can get out there and sing “Sticks and Stones” and enjoy it, because there are many who do lose it and not find the love of it again. I am happy at home, and I have found the peace and foundation to enjoy my family and all that encompasses. It is special to me and I think all of those factors reflect in my music.

Bev: Do you think that you lost the passion because of the business side of the music or were there other factors that pushed you away?

Tracy: It was a lot of the business side. I will admit I made the business much too much of a high of a priority in my life and even towards the end of last year, I found myself overwhelmed. We had opened our own company here and I was here every day when I was not on the road, and we were trying to get new acts recognition and I got to a point where I knew I needed to be where I could be creative and writing and let others do the business side. When I did that, I accomplished so much and have already written more than 20 new songs and have been able to channel the negativity into creativity.

Bev: Do you feel more pressure now that you own your own label?

Tracy: Oh, without a doubt. I am the captain of the ship and if I am not working, the bills do not get paid. There is office staff, the people on the road and I am the guy that has to make sure we are successful and things as a whole are successful. I got to a point that I really had to ask myself what the priorities were for me and what I needed to do to take care of those priorities in my personal space and life.

Bev: Are you the kind of person who always says yes when asked to do something and then find yourself overwhelmed trying to keep everyone happy?

Tracy: No. I am pretty good at saying no. I am a very structured person. I am used to being pulled in many directions at one time. I do not give any answers or make and decisions without looking at my calendar. I always want to know what is going on around me and I like to know what I have going on in my life. This is the one thing that does keep me sane.

Bev: You have amazing talent as writers on this CD, how involved were you with the songs, or did you select them after they were written?

Tracy: I chose the songs after they were written; I did not make any lyrical changes at all. I did structurally change them so that the album came out as dynamic as it could be and I was very involved in making sure the tracks moved and transitioned.

Bev: The song “Jesus Come Talk To Your Children” has a choir that sings with you, is this a special group of people or do they have a significance to the album, or is it just a back-up choir?

Tracy: It is a group of back up singers; it is very cool isn’t it?

Bev: Do you find it easier to sing something you have written and possibly have a connection too or is it just as easy to sing someone else’s song?

Tracy: No it is not a factor for me. When you spend a lot of time with a song once you have chosen it, you become connected to it.

Bev: Do you find yourself choosing songs you have a personal connection too over songs that are simply jingles or message free?

Tracy: Absolutely. I never have been the kind of artist to sing a little ditty. I need something that is personal and I can sing and be happy with the rest of my life.

Bev: I have seen you perform many times, both in small personal settings and in big arenas. You always connect with the crowd, do you prefer on kind of setting over another?

Tracy: No I am just as comfortable in a large arena as I am a small stage. I have gotten so that lately, I am enjoying the intimate acoustic shows in front of very small crowds, but comfort wise I do not have a preference.

Bev: Let’s talk about awards. Which one of your is the most treasured?

Tracy: The ACM and CMA awards that I won last couple years mean more to me, for many reasons. When I went through my divorce in the nineties and I watched so many doors close to me because of how nasty the whole situation was, I spent may years rebuilding my career and to be on an independent label and have my first number one record in ten years; then to win an ACM off of it was extremely validating for me. As I bounced around the major music labels it was very frustrating for me to feel that what I had to say and contribute did not matter. This really gave me a boost and proved my worthiness not only the industry and my fans, but to myself that I still knew what I was doing and had a lot to contribute.

Bev: You always hear stories of the fans telling you how much a song means to them, have you ever gotten a new song idea because of a reaction someone had to a different song?

Tracy: Wow, no, I cannot think of a situation that I have written one from that kind of scenario.

Bev: Going back to “The Rock”, do you think being strong in one genre and now reaching over to another is a benefit since you are a household name already, or do you feel you have to start all over again with the Christian genre?

Tracy: I am not trying to be a Christian artist. I have seen so many artist who have had success in the country format, and feel they do not have anything left to give in this genre, that go to another format. I felt that I am back in the game, I am not desperately looking for a new audience, but I want to share a message and for the right reasons; to move people. I hope if nothing else to bring more of an audience into the country music format that may not have been before. This is a powerful project and I think it will combine the audiences.

Bev: Your parents encouraged you to do this kind of album for years, what are they saying now?

Tracy: They are very happy to see where I am in my life and career. As a parent that is what we all want to see in our children.

Bev: Talk to me about the songs on this album, do you have a favorite to sing?

Tracy: There is one, it is called “I’m Done” and it reflects so much about me and where I am personally. I am ready to let go, move on and when I heard the song, it really moved me.

Bev: I read recently you are venturing into a new arena in the digital arena as well bringing the concerts to the fans in a digital download, can you elaborate on that?

Tracy: We are offering live performances over the internet to the fans. We are recording every night, full songs and more often than not, full shows. It will be all audio, not video. There have been a couple songs I have written this year I already have in my live show, and it is the only way you can get these songs right now is to get them in this fashion.

Bev: Of all the songs you have written, what is your favorite? Why?

Tracy: “Front Porch” is my favorite that I have written and the one I did not write is “Time Marches On”. Lyrically it says more in three minutes than any song out there.

Bev: You are involved with charities and have done a lot of fundraisers and helped in many ways, do you have any one in particular you are close too?

Tracy: My non-profit organization, The Tracy Lawrence Foundation back home in Texas which I have been doing for fifteen years. We have two different scholarships at two different Universities, we have built a pavilion for an orphanage, put computers in the high school, helped the police department and fire department, we have raised money for the local Alzheimer’s chapter and in so many other ways we have been able to give to others in need.

Bev: Do you have a specific event that raises the funds or how do you raise the money?

Tracy: I have two. There is a golf tournament every April and a concert in June. This will be the last year for the concert. I have tapped out on that by asking all my friends to contribute (jokingly says he has run out of friends), it is hard to keep a committee this long and it has run its course. The golf tournament raises a large amount of money and has less overhead so we will just do the golf thing for now.

Bev: Will you replace the concert with anything else?

Tracy: I am actually am wanting to start a non-profit in Tennessee and start up a golf tournament here because there are local things I would like to do and to help with, so this is something I am planning on getting started.

Bev: You used your own band in the studio on this project, how did you arrive at the decision to record in this way and do you feel this is becoming more and more common?

Tracy: I felt like I was confident enough in myself as a producer that I could make it work, but also felt like the guys in the band rose to the occasion and are just as good as the studio musicians. We cut twelve tracks in two days and that is what I set out to do. I definitely think I will continue to do this on future projects. It adds something to the synergy and makes everyone a part of the project, plus it gives them some incentive because they get a piece of it. I would like to see it become more of a trend in the music industry. I think it takes more preparation; you have to be efficient with your time when you do not have a big label behind you.

Bev: Do you have your own studio you work out of in your home?

Tracy: No, I feel like I am much more productive and fresh if I can get up and go to the studio vs. working from home. I want to be able to come home and leave my work at work and enjoy my time with my family when I am there.

Bev: Besides the traditional radio promotions, are you doing anything out of the ordinary to promote this CD?

Tracy: We are doing some commercial advertising with this project, and of course doing the Christian radio format as well. Otherwise we will be doing all the same marketing structures as we have in the past. We utilize the internet and other mediums out there to get the word out to the fans.

Bev: Have you gotten caught up in the world of technology and all the social networking, Twitter, Facebook etc?

Tracy: I do not participate in any of it. I text on my phone and check my email, but I personally do not have time to do all of that. I have staff members that keep my fans updated using that technology though.

Bev: Do you feel these are beneficial to bringing fans and artist’s closer on a personal basis or are there boundaries where too much information is available to anyone these days?

Tracy: I have always believed that there is a lot to be said about the mystique of being an artist. I do not feel it is necessary for fans to have all your personal information. I think people are so consumed nowadays with all of it.

Bev: Tracy, it is always great to see you and I always enjoy talking to you. I wish you all the best with this project.

Tracy: Thank you so much it was good seeing you too and thank you for the time you put into doing this for us.

For more information on Tracy Lawrence visit http://www.tracylawrence.com/ or http://www.myspace.com/tracylawrence.

ARTICLE: Brooks House Benefit Concert: Don and Stacey Schlitz, Gary Burr, Danny Flowers, and Victoria Banks

(Below: Gary Burr, Victoria Banks, Danny Flowers, Stacey Schlitz and Don Schlitz)
An amazing line up of Nashville singer/songwriters comprised of Don and Stacey Schlitz, Gary Burr, Danny Flowers, and Victoria Banks performed before a crowd for a benefit concert at the Lebanon High School Auditorium on Saturday, May 2nd. Proceeds from the event will assist programs at The Brooks House, who’s mission is to provide a safe, comfortable environment for women and children seeking shelter and connect them with resources to help change their lives. The Brooks House is a safe haven for homeless women and children in the Lebanon, Tennessee area which offers temporary housing, career assistance, medical and dental services, counseling, and a host of other services to help get people back on their feet.

Don Schlitz is a Grammy winning Hall of Fame songwriter who has penned such hits as "The Gambler" (Kenny Rogers), "When You Say Nothing At All" (Keith Whitley & Alison Krauss), "On The Other Hand" (Randy Travis), and "I Think About You" (Collin Raye). He's had songs cut by Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, Alabama, Kathy Mattea and many more. Stacey Schlitz, Don's wife, is a performing musician and songwriter who has worked in several bands, commercials, films, and recording demos.
Gary Burr, also a Hall of Fame songwriter who has written "In A Week or Two" (Diamond Rio), "What Mattered Most" (Ty Herndon), "A Thousand Times A Day" (George Jones), and "Love's Been A Little Bit Hard On Me" (Juice Newton) to name only a few. Gary has cuts by Garth Brooks, Randy Travis, Tanya Tucker, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Faith Hill and so many more.
Danny Flowers spent many years on the road with Dobie Gray and Don Williams as a guitarist. During that time, he wrote the hit song "Tulsa Time" which was recorded by both Don Williams and Eric Clapton.
Victoria Banks has had cuts such as the award-winning "Saints and Angels" (Sara Evans), "Come On Over" and "Remember That" both singles off Jessica Simpson's latest album. Victoria has written with some of Nashville's well recognized artists Gretchen Wilson, Julie Roberts, Cowboy Crush, Whisperin' Bill Anderson, plus a host of others.



To make a contribution to The Brooks House visit http://www.brookshouse.org/.

INTERVIEW: Justin Moore – Small Town USA

Justin Moore may be small in size comparison to a couple of his idols, Randy Houser and Jayme Johnson, but coming from a very small town and embracing the values of his upbringing is making him a pretty big name with his latest single, and title of his soon to be released CD, "Small Town USA”.

Justin and I slowed down from our crazy lives long enough to grab some lunch at Bosco’s and talk about the music, his life and his big dreams.

Bev: Justin, you have a new CD coming out this Spring, and I know you have been working very hard to get it done and get the music heard, how are you feeling at this point?

Justin: Well, right now we are looking at June 9th for the release and I am very excited for everyone to hear the rest of the project. We have worked a long time on getting this together and doing it so it is just right.

Bev: You did something a little different, along with your label The Valory Music Co., in the song selection process for this CD which enabled the fans to select which songs they wanted on the album. How did this all come about and how do you think it worked out?

Justin: The idea came from me, because I write songs all the time, and every time I finished one I went to the label and said “this has to go on the record”. They were good about listening, but jokingly said to me they were not going to put out a box set. What we did, was each week for the last ten weeks of the year, we put up two songs and would let them decide which of the two they liked better. It all works out great for me because I wrote them all, with the exception of “Back That Thing Up”, so I am thrilled with how it all has come together. I think it was a very cool way to get the fans involved, because they are the ones going out and buying it.

Bev: Will there be any bonus cuts or surprises on there, or have the ten been selected and that is all you will have on this one?

Justin: I believe we are set and the ten will be it. It is well rounded and the fans really did a great job choosing the songs I would have chosen as my favorites too.

Bev: Since moving to Nashville from your hometown of Poyen Arkansas, population 272, what has been the biggest adjustment for you?

Justin: Well I cannot pee off my front porch anymore. (Laughing) I grew up on 100 acres, so I could do whatever I wanted by walking out my back door. I could hook up to the boat and fish and go hunt without it being a major ordeal. I miss that. I go pretty stir crazy. I am actually trying to talk my wife into letting me buy a boat so I can go fish when I am in town, and that would help me relax and feel more at home.

Bev: Your childhood dream was to be in Nashville and become a country star, what has been the biggest eye opener and furthest from what you thought would happen?

Justin: Learning to be very patience is definitely the biggest thing I have had to learn. I moved to Nashville almost eight years ago and I think I speak for a lot of aspiring artist thinking we will move to town and make changes and be the next big thing. It does not happen that way. Even when you do land a record deal, the wheels move very slowly. In looking back it has been a luxury actually to be able to move so slow and grow and learn and appreciate everything where you are, and it keeps you working your butt off, because if you don’t someone else will step in there and take your spot and pass you up.

Bev: You have been touring with big name artists such as Trace Adkins, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hank Williams Jr., Brooks & Dunn and ZZ Top. What has been the best memory you can share about this?

Justin: Hank Jr. and Lynyrd Skynyrd were probably my most favorite to go out with, but these guys were who I grew up with. It is who I drank hot beer too and that brought back so many memories for me and to be out on tour with them was just a pinnacle moment for me. That is the kind of stuff I dreamed of. My guitar player and I were talking the other day about how these guys influenced my music and how cool it is we were able to do that.

Bev: Now that you are becoming a household name, you are also asked to lend your time and help promote special events and charities. Do you have any stories that have impacted you from these events?

Justin: I played Gulf Shores last week for a cancer research fund raiser, and I had been to St Judes a few months prior, so finding a cure for cancer is close to my heart. There was an 18 year old girl there who had gone in for a sport physical and they had found a football size tumor in her stomach, but seeing this 18 year old completely bald just grabs you and makes you really realize what is important. We tend to worry about where are songs are on the charts and where we are headed on tour, but you see things like this and it makes you see the bigger picture. I have lost several family members in the last few years and my grandpa was just diagnosed with cancer, so this is a very personal issue for me and my family.

Bev: If you could choose a style of music and be labeled on that kind of artist, what would you want to be?

Justin: Well I think I have already been labeled an outlaw. I did not set out to be, but I kind of been branded that from the first song I released digitally, and then a slightly risqué’ video to go with it, and now “Back That Thing Up”. But that is okay with me, it is what I grew up with and listening too. Right now the only other outlaws are Jayme Johnson and Randy Houser and I love them two, so to be in their company is fine by me because I respect their music.

Bev: You have been singing from a young age and I am sure have been offered advice many times along your career. What is one piece of advice that always stuck with you?

Justin: I grew up singing in church, and remember there were only about 300 people there, so not very many people sang in key. I had to do all the leads in plays and musicals. When I moved here, the best advice I received was to be myself and follow my instincts. If it felt right to me, then it would be ok. Stay true to yourself. I had people tell me I could not say certain things in my songs and they have ended up making huge strides for me. I was told no one would listen to “Back That Thing Up” and it is the song that got me my record deal and on tour with Hank Jr and Skynyrd.

Bev: Do you have a favorite song to perform, whether it be old or new or regardless if it is something you have written?

Justin: I think as a songwriter you always enjoy playing your own songs. Your favorite is always the one you just wrote yesterday. We always end with ZZ Top’s “Give Me All Your Lovin’” when we play live, it is a personal favorite of mine and fun to do.

Bev: If you could choose anyone from the past or present to perform with, who would you like it to be?

Justin: Dwight Yoakam. I am a huge, huge, huge Dwight Yoakam fan. I am never nervous to meet people, but I am honestly not sure what I would say to him if I met him. I would love to make it happen that we could perform together though, and I guess it would force me to think of something to say.

Bev: If you absolutely could only do one or the other, would you choose live performances or studio recording?

Justin: Ohhhh no doubt live performances. A lot of artist enjoy the studio, but it is boring to me. God bless the producers and studio people, but I did not get in this business to do that. Someone asked me if I would want to co-produce my next album and I said no way. I do this to get out on stage and sing and perform to a live audience.

Bev: Are you presently anyone sponsoring you or you have anything in the works you can talk about?

Justin: Yeah, there are a few things in the works. I am a redneck at heart and Wrangler has been talking to us about some things, which would fit into who I am. We have a few other things we are looking into, but as of right now, we are not sponsored by anyone. I would love it if Bud Light would come on board.

Bev: What is the best thing about being an artist or performer?

Justin: Going on stage every night and seeing the crowd react is the best. That is what I meant before, I live to get on that stage and sing to a crowd. The part people do not see or realize is my least favorite, but it is still fun. We are putting in very long days between stage set up and interviews and sound check and all of the other little things that go on to put this thing together. My parents were at a show the other night and I barely got to spend five minutes with them, because I was busy with everything else. So that is the hard part.

Bev: Have you had anything really embarrassing happen to you while you were performing?

Justin: I have been pretty lucky not to fall over any of the wires, but the other night I tripped and pulled the cord out of my guitar player’s guitar and the lick just stopped, there was no sound, and it was a little embarrassing. Another was I jumped down off the stage into the crowd and the stage was up maybe eight or ten feet off the ground and I realized there was no way back up. I had to rely on a body guard to give me a boost back up there.

Bev: I know you will be doing the Opry this week for a special show, can you tell me about the show and how you feel about playing the Opry?

Justin: Playing the Opry means more to me than about anything else. The tours were cool, but the history there is so amazing. We are doing a show called Country Classics, so I get to do a Waylon Jennings song and one by George Strait. It is a Texas themed show and I am very excited about that. I dream of being asked to be an Opry member someday.

Bev: As far as promotions and other events you have going on in anticipation of the release, can you share some of what you are doing?

Justin: Right now we are on the road most of the time performing and introducing the music to the people. You have to get out there and expose the music in order to get a following. I am doing some listener appreciation shows for radio stations. Country Radio has been amazing and I have been asked to do a lot for them, especially the writer rounds.

Bev: I understand you have started a You-tube video series, can you share the story behind these?

Justin: That started out because I was bored one day while out on our radio tour and the gal from the record label turned the camcorder on and I was just being stupid and acting like a moron and being myself. The fun thing is my fans love it and it keeps them coming to the website. We have a lot of fun with it.

Bev: The ultimate question of the day, do you Twitter?

Justin: That is so funny you asked, because I have a meeting with my label today about setting up a Twitter account for me. Is that not ridiculous? A Twitter meeting. I am so illiterate when it comes to technology. But we will figure it out. As of today or tomorrow you can follow me on Twitter. I will be Tweeting.

Bev: With CMA Fest around the corner, do you have a lot of things planned for that?

Justin: I know I am going to be there, but where I am playing yet I am not sure. I know we are trying to organize a fan club party and I might be involved with some other things if we can work it all out.

Bev: Justin, I have enjoyed our time talking to you and wish you much success and longevity with your music career. I look forward to seeing you again.

Justin: Thank you and I have enjoyed talking to you too, I appreciate you taking time to do this.

For more information on Justin Moore visit www.thevalorymusicco.com/justinmoore or www.myspace.com/moorejustinmusic.