REVIEW: HELLO DAVE - Industry Showcase

HELLO DAVE, a band that formed by accident at Eastern Illinois University by singer/songwriter Mike Himebaugh performed a showcase for Nashville music executives and members of the media recently at The Rutledge. Peering through the crowd you could catch a glimpse of Larry Pareigis of Nine North Records, staff from Country Air Check, Today’s Country Magazine, Kevin Neal of Buddy Lee, Jon Anthony from No Shirt, No Shoes Radio and Keith Baumhor from APA among other music row members.

The group has gained national exposure and is known for addictive melodies, ringing harmonies and heartfelt, memorable lyrics, the band delivers roaring guitar riffs and a thunderous rhythm section. Alongside lead singer and guitar player, Mike Himebaugh; the band consists of Marty Williamson and Mike “Magoo” McGohan on guitar, Anne Harris plays a mean fiddle along with Al Wetzel on bass and Peter Bauschke on drums.

Currently on the road promoting their new single titled GOLDEN, the group played a sampling of melodies showcasing their broad range of vocal abilities along with their honed instrumental skills. Guests at the showcase were treated to the current single along with fan favorites “Chicago Twang”, “Waterville”, “Saturnalia”, “Biminy”, “Colorado” and “Mountains”.

Hello Dave currently plays an average of 140 shows a year. They were featured on the 2009 Kenny Chesney Sun City Carnival Tour and played the official pre-parties for five of Chesney’s stadium shows. They have also toured with and opened for such bands as Big & Rich, Little Big Town, Pat Green, Van Zant, Blues Traveler, The Doobie Brothers, and they have been regular performers at Festivals such as Country Thunder. Hello Dave brings new fans on board with every stop they make, including 3 shows on last winter’s sold-out Lynyrd Skynyrd/Simple Man Cruise. The band has also traveled the world entertaining U.S. troops, including Afghanistan and two trips to Iraq.

For more information and to connect with Hello Dave visit www.hellodave.com.

Photos of the showcase can be seen at http://www.digitalrodeo.com/drphotos/photos/album/HelloDave

ARTICLE: SONGS FOR THE CURE - An Evening With The Hitmakers

The Listening Room in Nashville was home for a extraordinary SONGS FOR THE CURE benefit for Savannah, a nine year old young gal from Mount Juliet, TN with Stage IV Metastatic Alveolar Rhabdomyo Sarcoma (Rhabdo for short). She was initially diagnosed at age 5 on Feb. 2, 2006 and currently battling for the third time. Rhabdo is a rare and aggressive childhood cancer.

Cancer touches everyone; whether you are a cancer survivor, a parent of child or a child of a parent who has been touched by the disease. Cancer affects everyone regardless of age, race or religion and through such efforts as Songs For The Cure there is renewed hope and moments of bringing light to the dark periods in the lives of those affected through song and music. 100% of the proceeds of SONGS FOR THE CURE goes directly to the family affected.

Savannah’s parents, Robin and Bruce were recognized as the evening’s special guests during the heart touching event, and the special guest of honor, who is currently receiving chemo treatments watched the event dedicated to her online at www.uaradio.net (the live taping is available for replay online); the show was also dedicated to Keith Anderson’s mother who lost her battle with the horrific disease.

A fantastic job of hosting was done by the one and only, Storme Warren of GAC; who warmly introduced each performer, shared touching stories and brought attention to the cause of the evening with special give-a-ways and announcements.

Some of the highlights of the evening included performances by the hit-makers that make Nashville the treasure chest of music and song which it is so well known by. Performers for the Songs For The Cure show included the amazing talent of Mark Wills; Don't Laugh At Me, 19 Somethin', I Do (Cherish You) ,Keith Anderson; Pickin’ Wildflowers, Every time I Hear Your Name ,Julie Roberts; Break Down Here, Wake Up Older, Dean Sams; A member of the band Lonestar! Way too many hits to name them all, Gary Burr; who’s hits include songs with Randy Travis, Patty Lovelace and plays with Ringo, Georgia Middleman; who currently has hit songs by Keith Urban and Sara Buxton, Brian White;13 #1 tunes. "I've Been Watchin You”,” Rough And Ready", Lisa Carver; a long list of hit songs with Jewell, Tim McGraw, Sugarland, Reba, Cory Batten; Two #1's in 2009; one each for Blake Shelton and Chris Young, Brice Long; Gary Allan’s "Today" and “Anything Goes" by Randy Houser, Chas Sandford; "Missing You" and big hit tunes w/Fleetwood Mac, Tina Turner, Billy Yates; George Jones, George Strait, Sara Evans, Joe Nichols, Kenny Chesney, Karyn Williams-White; who has written a book and is an incredible singer/songwriter, Pete Sallis; Rodney Adkins and Bucky Covington and 2006 CCMA honors, Gary Talley; a member of the Boxtops from the 60's. Famous for "The Letter" and made his TV debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. Gary also played with The Doors and Rod Janzen; "Slow And Easy" for Dierks Bentley and his lead guitar player.

Nile Peaytt, the organizer for Songs For The Cure says, “We are songwriters and artists fighting cancer. Not only do we raise money and awareness...but we reach out to the cancer community. We spread hope with our friendship and through our music.”

For photos of the event visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/momentsbymoser/sets/72157623306809958/

Sound And Speed Behind The Scenes: Session Four Q & A

Session Four:Brian Scott, Justin Allgaier, Kate & Kacey, Morgan Shepherd

For the past four years, this two-day fan event featuring some of the top names in country music and NASCAR has attracted an estimated 40,000 fans and has raised more than $800,000 for Victory Junction (a year-round camping experience founded by Kyle and Pattie Petty for children, ages 6-16, with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses) and the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum.

On Saturday, Jan. 9th fans of racing and country music had the opportunity to get up-close and personal with drivers and country music stars at Nashville's Municipal Auditorium for autographs and question-and-answer sessions. NASCAR stars Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Michael Waltrip, Clint Bowyer, Reed Sorenson, David Stremme, Aric Almirola, Justin Allgaier, Kyle Petty, Michael Annett, Carl Edwards, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Busch, James Buescher, Brad Kesolowski, Logan Ruffin, Brian Scott and Morgan Shepherd joined country music stars Chris Young, Jason Michael Carroll, Josh Turner, members of Diamond Rio, Danny Gokey, Danielle Peck, Corey Smith, Ashton Shepherd, Brady Seals, Nathan Lee Jackson, and duo Kate & Kacey.

Behind the scenes, media also has an opportunity to visit with the participants in Q & A (Question and Answer) interview sessions throughout the event.

Q: Morgan, how do you look forward to 2010 and 2011 with a new car company, realizing you been working with Johnny Davis on that car. How much of a struggle is it for you as an owner of small, limited funded team, is that new car going to affect you?

Morgan: I found it is like anything in life. You have to have a passion for it first of all and you have to have determination. We operate with a very small amount of money, the race fans help us. Tony Stuart helped us last year but he won’t be able to do it this year. He bought us tires before. We are going to go out every time with the same goal of making every race. Where there is a will, there is a way. We have the will and we will find the way.

Q: Morgan, why is a seasoned veteran driver like yourself and other veteran drivers having a hard time finding jobs, race seats and top notch equipment?

Morgan: First of all, the people want the young drivers because they are going to be here a long time and they are the ones that your big companies are trying to promote. There are people that support us, too. It seems like we should be able to get a vitamin sponsor or Geritol. Anyway, everything is pointed toward the young people and that is the way it should be. We’re here to encourage other people; you’re not dead after you are 50 years old. We encourage people to get up off their couch and do something with your life; that’s what I am about.

Q: Morgan, for someone that has such an impressive resume as yourself and other drivers to have impressive resumes, why was there a rush to get a new hotshot young gun driver?

Morgan: I don’t have that answer. That is just part of life whether it is racing, boxing or basketball or football. There is a time that you are not going to be as good as you were when you started. With our sport and the safety of it with race cars, as long as you have good reflexes and determination, you can do it; I think I have proven that. Some people get burned out with what they are doing but I have never felt like I was doing something I didn’t want to do. I have never felt I didn’t want to work on a racecar. I really don’t know how many race car drivers would be up there if they had to do it our way because I still work on my race car, sometimes all night. We drive across country where some guys get in airplanes and fly back and forth. It’s determination and that is what I have and keeps me here.

Brian: The important thing is to remember the legacy of Morgan Shepherd. He paved the way for us younger drivers and helped shape NASCAR into what it is today.

Q: Kate and Kacey, congratulations on signing to Big Machine Records. Who is your producer there?

Kate and Kacey: We have worked with several producers in the past year on different tracks. Mostly, whoever we wrote the song with, we would go in the studio with them and record it. Right now we are working with Danny Myrick. He is a songwriter that wrote “She’s Country” for Jason Aldean and he has the new Gloriana single. He wrote our single and a bunch of other songs with us and we are looking forward to going into the studio with him and really focusing on what the three of us do together.

Q: Brian, you are coming on full time with Nationwide and looking to have some success. What can you take from the brief experiences from last year or your truck experiences to possibly get you “rooky of the year” and maybe a top five finish at the end of the year?

Brian: Hopefully I can take the experience and a little bit of respect from the other drivers in the Nationwide series. Hopefully they feel a little more comfortable with what I did. I hope to have a little more familiarity with the vehicles, the equipment, the length of races. The equipment is different in the truck series than the Nationwide car. The aerodynamics is very different, so just figuring out all the million little things a driver has to do in a race to make it look so simple on TV. Hopefully, I have a little bit of an edge. I will have a new crew and some new equipment. I did four races with ***** racing, I have some familiarity with their equipment. They are changing their Toyota Camry around, changing their aerodynamics, making their programs better. I know they are taking steps forward and I am excited to get back with the crew chief. There might be some familiar faces, two of the guys that were on my truck team are coming; one is an interior guy and that is incredibly important for the driver. I will have that peace of mind knowing that that part is taken care of. All I have to do it strap myself in and go as fast as I can go.

Kerry: Thank you all for being here.

Transcribed by Pam Stadel

INTERVIEW: Jenna Zablocki "Powerful Stuff"

According to her bio, Jenna Zablocki began a love affair with music around the age of 5 when she started plunking out "little ditties" on her grandmother's piano. For the next eleven years she studied classical composers, played for friends, family, competitions, recitals, choirs, and for pure enjoyment.

Never before dreaming of actually recording her own album, she took a leap of faith and ventured into a whole new world of music. Those years of training in different genres and the love for all things musical, developed into a blend of something all its own. Accompanied by Jenna's flair for interpretation and expression, her voice has been described as 'ethereal', 'light', 'refreshing', and 'unique'. When asked to compare it to a female singer out in the masses already, no one has been able to come up with one. You'll know why the moment you listen for yourself. Her debut country/pop/rock album will be hitting the airwaves this summer and promises to be a real pleasure!

Jenna and I visited about a little bit of everything and had a very enjoyable conversation about her music career.

B: Jenna, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule, I am excited to get to know you better. Let’s start with the current project what can you tell me about it?

J: The album is coming out at the end of the month or early February. I don’t have an exact date yet. The single “Don’t Underestimate My Heart” has been playing on the radio and Internet airwaves and is doing really well. I started playing some shows in L.A. have a date opening up for Pink, we are planning tours. I am living it!

B: How long have you in the music business?

J: I started first recording about eight years ago, but did not finish a CD. I started singing at about age 11, but it wasn’t until I moved out here that I thought about a career in the music industry.

B: When you were 11 years old, where were you singing?

J: Choirs mostly. My focus then was musicals. I toured doing music theater and Off-Broadway. I went to school for it and thought it was always what I wanted to do. When I moved out to Los Angeles I met producers that heard my voice and they suggested thinking about recording. I never had before because, it had always been musicals or opera; because that is what I grew up doing, but we tried it out with a few songs and that was the start of it!

B: You mentioned you are the opening act for Pink, who else have you gone on tour with or opened for?

J: I haven’t yet! This is the beginning.

B: What have been the hardest and scariest things for you up to this point?

J: The fear that it is not going to happen. I always believed that it would and mom always believed that this is what I was meant to do. My family has always supported me, and my manager fought to the death for me but there is always that fear in the back of my head asking “what if it doesn’t happen? What will I do then?”

B: On the opposite extreme, what has been the most exciting part of it?

J: What we have going on now. I am actually able to get out and perform the songs. Anytime I would see someone performing on a stage I would think to myself “That should be me! I should be doing that!” I knew I had it in me. Now that I am actually doing it, I am proving the people who did not believe in me wrong.

B: Let’s talk a little about your fan base and their reaction? Do you find there is a favorite or one song over another that touches them?

J: People at the shows have really liked many of the songs that are on the album; which was what I hoped from the beginning. Every song that is on the album I picked myself for one reason or another, but I also hoped that they would reach the general population like they touched me, and it is doing that. Realizing that makes me very happy. One person will say “I love that song Powerful Stuff”, one band members favorite song is this one, and someone else has another one. That is exactly what I hope for.

B: Did you write all of the songs on this project?

J: No on this project I only wrote one of them

B: Do you prefer to sing things that you have written or are you just as content singing someone else’s songs?

J: I can go wither way. I am happy to have my songs on my album, but I know I am not the best songwriter out there. There are people in Nashville that do it for a living and they have been doing it for years; I trust their songwriting skills.

B: Is writing something you want to elaborate more on?

J: Of course.

B: Where are you originally from?

J: Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia and then I spent some time in New York.

B: What are your ties to Nashville? Is it just for the music?

J: I have a cousin in Nashville, but aside from that my producer is Tom Harding who is from there. I spent time there to record the album. All of my songs came out of Nashville and all of the musicians on the album are out of Nashville as well.

B: Are you going on tour with Pink or are you just doing one show?

J: I am just opening for her for one show.

B: Do you have other shows booked to open for other people or are you still doing the independent one person shows trying to get your name out there. How are you promoting it?

J: Both. My manager is doing most of it. I tell him I do not like to know anything until it is set in stone. I do not like to hear “you are probably...” or “you are possibly”. I prefer to not know until it is done. Things change a lot.

B: What do you enjoy the most about performing live?

J: When people sing along to the songs. The album has not been out there that long, but the songs are catchy. People will come up to me days later and say “That song is still in my head!” I love watching people sing along to the songs, and they are smiling and clapping.

B: I assume you are using all of the social networks; Facebook, Twitter etc

J: I do not Tweet, but I do have a Facebook Fan page and Myspace.

B: Is the CD going to be available in stores or digital?

J: Both. I don’t believe it is on CD Baby yet, but it is on iTunes, Rhapsody and Amazon.

B: Have you done anything out of the box as a promotional idea?

J: I have not, however I have people who are working on that. I can not do it all myself. It takes an entire team to get it all out there.

B: Is there a song on the project that is your personal favorite?

J: The one closest to my heart is called “Daddy’s Little Girl”, but it is not necessarily my favorite. I don’t know that I have a favorite on there.

B: What genre do you classify yourself?

J: Country/Pop/ with a little rock

B: Now that you are connected with Nashville, are you planning on a presence at CMA Fest this year or Country Radio Seminar since your music has a country audience?

J: I would love to do Country Radio Seminar I don’t think it s going to happen. I am sure they would love to get me to CMA Fest but they have not mentioned anything yet.

B: Is there anything you would like to add or get out the readers and your fans?

J: I just really hope they like it! I titled the album Powerful Stuff, not just because of the song, but because I believe that each song on there is powerful in its own way. There is a song on the album about getting out of an abusive relationship and finding the strength to move on. There is another song called “Can’t Afford to Fall Apart” about a single mother who’s broke and trying to raise two kids; who has to keep a smile on her face. I hope that those songs will give strength to someone when they hear them. I hope my music speaks to people. A lot of the songs have a deep rooted meaning.

B: I am very excited to get to know you better and when you are back in Nashville I will make it a point to come out and see you!

J: Thank you Bev, I have enjoyed this as well and thank you so much for taking time to do this. I look forward to seeing you.


For more information on Jenna Zablocki visit www.myspace.com/jennazablocki


Transcribed by Vicke Raye

Sound and Speed Behind the Scenes: Session Three Q & A

Session Three: Sound and Speed Behind The Scenes Q & A: Carl Edwards, Kyle Petty, Jason Michael Carroll and Love and Theft

For the past four years, this two-day fan event featuring some of the top names in country music and NASCAR has attracted an estimated 40,000 fans and has raised more than $800,000 for Victory Junction (a year-round camping experience founded by Kyle and Pattie Petty for children, ages 6-16, with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses) and the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum.

On Saturday, Jan. 9th fans of racing and country music had the opportunity to get up-close and personal with drivers and country music stars at Nashville's Municipal Auditorium for autographs and question-and-answer sessions. NASCAR stars Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Michael Waltrip, Clint Bowyer, Reed Sorenson, David Stremme, Aric Almirola, Justin Allgaier, Kyle Petty, Michael Annett, Carl Edwards, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Busch, James Buescher, Brad Kesolowski, Logan Ruffin, Brian Scott and Morgan Shepherd joined country music stars Chris Young, Jason Michael Carroll, Josh Turner, members of Diamond Rio, Danny Gokey, Danielle Peck, Corey Smith, Ashton Shepherd, Brady Seals, Nathan Lee Jackson, and duo Kate & Kacey.

Behind the scenes, media also has an opportunity to visit with the participants in Q & A (Question and Answer) interview sessions throughout the event.
Kerry: To my left is Carl Edwards. Carl drives the #99 for AFLAC. He is certainly one of the more accomplished drives in our sport. We are pleased to have him here today.
Also representing NASCAR and maybe representing country music, is Kyle Petty. Certainly one of the more recognized names in our sport, we are glad to have you here. We are glad for all the things you do in the sport but also the things you do outside the sport, they are very much appreciated.
Holly: Next to Carl, we have Jason Michael Carroll. After being discovered at a local talent competition in North Carolina in 2004, Carroll was signed to the Arista Nashville label in 2006. He released his debut album “Waiting In The Country” that year and it produced three consecutive top 40 hits for him on the Billboard top country songs charts. The second album “Growing Up Is Getting Old” has also produced two top forty country hits “Where I’m From” and “Hurry Home”.
On the end, we also have Love and Theft, Steven, Eric and Brian. After opening shows for Taylor Swift in 2008 and Jason Aldean in 2009. Love and Theft is gearing up to hit the road with Country Music superstar Tim McGraw this spring. They have been featured on the Today show and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and have their music included in promos for ABC’s daytime programming. Their album “World Wide Open” was released in August 2009 on the heels of their big top 10 single “Runaway”. Their newest single is “Dancing In Circles” and is quickly climbing the charts.
Kerry: For those that didn’t know, Carl Edwards has his own record label. Carl, tell us a little about that and your interest in the music industry.
Carl: We started a small label called “Back Forty Records”. We have two albums finished and it is just a fun way to get some of the local folks in central Missouri’s music out there on iTunes, get them a little bit of recording time and things like that. It has been a blast. I definitely have a whole new respect for the music industry. It is a very tough business but it has been a lot of fun.
Kerry: Are you going to let Kyle record?
Carl: Kyle can come in and record any time. We don’t have anyone that has played at the Opry.
Kerry: Speaking of the Opry, Kyle Petty made his debut last night at the Ryman Auditorium. Kyle, tell us about that.
Kyle: I was checking credentials at the back door; it was pretty cool to be a security guard at the Opry last night. Here’s the deal, I figured I have one shot to go there and do this. It is an incredibly humbling place. I grew up on Country Music; I grew up on beating it up and down the highway with my father in station wagons and old cars going to races all over the country. We listened to Floyd Cramer, Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn, Merle, people like that on an 8-track. That was just the way it was. We would come to Nashville, Marty Robbins, who drove a race car, would bring us over and we’d stand here and see these people perform here at the Opry. It is an absolutely humbling place to be. I didn’t ever think I would have a shot to do that and if I was ever to do that, I would sing my own stuff and then I could say I sang a song at the Opry that I wrote. It was an incredible experience for me. I have been blessed to be able to do a lot of stuff. When you drive a race car or you do music, you meet people in other aspects or places of life whether it be actors or writers or whatever.
Holly: Love and Theft, would you tell us about your upcoming tour with Tim McGraw and how you got started with that and what you are doing right now?
Love and Theft: Starting in April, we will be out on the road with Tim McGraw. We have all grown up as huge Tim McGraw fans; he is an incredibly talented guy. We are inspired by his music and his fans as well as his acting career. We are still on tour with Jason Aldean through January. We are promoting our new song “Dancing In Circles”, talking to radio as much as we can and doing shows. We are staying as busy as we can.
Holly: Jason, would you tell us what you are doing?
Jason: We are going to headline a lot of shows on our own this year. Right now, we are coasting on our single we released in the fall called “Hurry Home”. It is now #14 on the charts and it looks like we may have a top ten soon. Then we move onto the next single and there will be a video to do with that. There is going to be a lot to do this year. It’s like what Kyle was talking about with NASCAR on the stage with the Q & A, in this business we are all friends but it is a very competitive business. There are only so many spots in an hour to fill and trying to get out there and be a part of that, you really have to do something to stand out. That is what we are continually facing.
Q: Kyle, how important is this event, as a fund raiser for Victory Junction?
Kyle: It is hard to say how important it is and what I mean is it not only brings in cash which is important to any charity, and this obviously benefits the Victory Junction in North Carolina and the one we are building in Kansas but also the great building and institution like the Country Music Hall of Fame. When you put those two together, the cash that it brings in is great, but for us, it is residual benefits that we get from the exposure from being here in Nashville. It is a totally different area from the events that we have, from the press that you guys generate. People that aren’t even at this event will watch it on GAC, CNN and the NASCAR publications, they will think they need to donate something to the camp or donate a little bit to the Country Music Hall of Fame, that is an intangible. You can’t touch it, you can’t feel it. You get thirty or forty thousand people here or whatever the number of people that show up. The thing that we do at the Groove is, so much happens. Jason Michael, you meet guys like him, they come, they are a part of camp, they do fund raisers, and they help you at camp. There are so many connections that you make here. For us, this event, in the last five or six years has sent 300 to 400 kids to camp which is a phenomenal stat; just off this event. For us, it has become one of our mainstays, one of our main fundraisers. We have to raise in the neighborhood of 6-8 million dollars a year to keep camp up and running because it is totally free for the kids. We bring kids from all over the United States to camp and we pay for them to come so that we are not a financial burden on their families. It is a heavy undertaking and to have events like this and have guys like this come out and be a part of it, it is a lot bigger thing for us than I think they even realize.
Q: Jason Michael, what prompted the new haircut?
Jason Michael: I guess it is that old saying “If you want someone to do something, don’t say anything about it”. For the first two years I was signed to the label, I kept getting calls “you need to cut the hair”, “you need to do something with the hair” and to their credit, when they signed me, it was about down to my shoulders and I let it grow almost down to my elbows before I started cutting it. One day I woke up, it was one of those months where I had been told what to do all month long, I had a day off, I thought “you know what? I going to take my own personal day and do my own thing, I am not going to tell anyone what I am doing”. I literally didn’t tell management, didn’t tell the label and I didn’t tell my wife, Wendy either. I literally went straight to the salon, walked in and told them I wanted a haircut and I wanted to look ok when I walked out and they did it. I literally held my breath when they took the first snip, I don’t know why but at that point it was like jumping in cold water I guess. It is something I decided to do on my own.
Q: Jason Michael, you have your sophomore album out. How much more difficult was it working on that album than your first album?
Jason Michael: You know they say you take your entire life to make your first album and only two or three months to make your second. I didn’t realize how true that was. On my first record, I got caught up being on tour, being on the bus, going out and hanging out, going to a lot of different parties and being invited to the after parties here and there. That is one of the reasons we decided to call the second record “Growing Up Is Getting Old”. At that point, we were suppose to be working on the second record, the label came to me and asked me what I had. I told them I’d get back to them. At that point we went from “I can sleep when I’m dead” attitude to “I can’t go to that thing tonight, I have to wake up first thing in the morning and I have this to do and that to do and I need to go and take a nap”. That is when we thought growing up was getting old.
Q: Kyle, you remember what The Preview was like in Winston Salem, will you compare that to Sound and Speed?
Kyle: The Preview was a totally different animal and a totally different time in sports, let’s be real clear about that. The Preview was one of those ideas that T. Wayne and the folks at R.J. Reynolds came up with. It really was a local event that blew up into what it became in later years. Trying to replicate The Preview is like trying to replicate a great fraternity party. You can’t go back and do it again. You have to start somewhere else and I think that is what this event was. We didn’t try to duplicate that when we came here and looked at Sound and Speed with the late Brian Williams from SunTrust, when it was his project and his baby. It wasn’t about The Preview per se. It was about taking NASCAR to a place where we don’t come to and race, a different market. They have their fan festivals here for the music industry in June. We are doing this in January to bring a totally different audience to Nashville and to bring NASCAR to an area where we are not at right now. It’s a great area, great opportunity to draw people from Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia, Mississippi. It has a great airport facility and we can bring in the music industry at the same time. The music gave it a little bit of a twist for NASCAR core fans. For us, it is a different event, a different feel to the event. It is a little bit of an upscale event but everybody can reach out and touch at the same time. The fans get autographs and ask questions and that is a piece of The Preview that was there. We don’t have 38 show cars, we don’t have all the drivers, we try to keep it a little bit more special for the guys that come and a little bit more special for the artists that participate in it. If this was T. Wayne and this was our organization starting the event today and not having The Preview to compare it to, I think this is what we would have come up with. It has grown and evolved into what it has been in the last couple of years and I hope it continues to grow.
Q: Carl, there is a lot of talk that NASCAR is going back to the blade spoiler, do away with the double yellow lines and make some other changes to liven up the racing. What do you think needs to be done?
Carl: That is a good question. First of all, to tell you what I think needs to be done; I think it is cool that NASCAR is willing to make changes to try to do anything they can to make the racing as exciting as it can be for the fans. That is what NASCAR is about, having the most fair competition and things people want to watch and cheer for. My opinion is they need to take all the down force away from the race cars. Then you don’t have any down force to lose. If I pull up behind someone, I don’t have any to start with, it sure can’t get any worse, I think that is what they need to do. The blade is a good idea, taking the front splitter away is a good idea, making the cars where they drive like they use to at Darlington and Atlanta, places like that. You have to drive the race car, that is what I think needs to be done. I don’t like to go down to the corner and turn my wheel and find out how great my engineers are or aren’t. That is not what I like to do in a race car, I want to drive.
Q: Kyle, you mentioned your father; you grew up with a father that was known for his racing and set a lot of records. However, since you have come on the scene you probably fill his shoes as well as anybody, just in a different manner, a philanthropist. You have done a lot to draw more attention to philanthropy and NASCAR by being involved. How special is it to you to be known as a philanthropist?
Kyle: I think we are very blessed. We all talked about it when we go out there; how cool it is to wake up in the morning and think, my God, this is what I get to do today, this is what I do for a living, whether it is play guitars and sing or drive a race car. It is pretty cool to be at this point and time in my life and I have never had an office-I’ve never had to work in the office. We all feel blessed and I think we all look at whatever the subject is, whatever the cause is and each one of us looks in the mirror and says but for the grace of God, there go I. That’s how simple it is. We are very blessed to be in a sport, to be in a business where you can use what celebrity status you attain to help other people. NASCAR and the drivers have always done that for years and years. You go back to Cale Yarborough and Pierson, my father and guys like that; go back to the late 1960s and that; they always did stuff in their communities, whether it was at a local high school or somewhere else. We just grew as a national sport and are able to do it on a totally different level. When Adam was killed, we as a family kind of looked at the camp and said this is something we want to do and are blessed to be in this sport where your competitors like Carl, Tony, Jeff, Junior and Michael and guys like that say “yeah, we’ll help out, whatever you need”, and they built that camp. It is something that happened to us that the NASCAR community, the NASCAR drivers, the NASCAR foundation now and the fans have built. In turn, Carl has his foundation and does his stuff, Jeff does his stuff. It is not all about the camp; it is about giving back to different causes and different areas. So, I think if we look at it, I think it is important for all of us, me, everyone sitting up here, all of you out there to be known for giving something back. However small, however big, it doesn’t make any difference.
Q: Love and Theft, from the very beginning of your career, you have been on stage with heavy weights like Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean and soon Tim McGraw. Do you look at it as an honor or does it put some intimidation into it to tour with names of that stature? Also, the songs you have recorded, is there one song that you guys can identify with? A song that best defines who Love and Theft is?
Love and Theft: “Runaway”, our first single is what we identify with. One of the reasons we all wanted to put that song out is we all picked up and moved from our home towns of Charlotte, Austin and Tampa Florida; became runaways in pursuit of country music dreams. We wanted a song that kind of says a lot about us. We were all kind of runaways and that song is about moving on to something positive so for us, I think that song fits us. We write all of our own songs, we are very passionate songwriters.
As far as the first question goes, before the first show with all those folks, you are obviously very intimidated. We had never met Jason Aldean or Taylor Swift. Probably we were intimidated to meet her the first time and the same thing with Jason. We have become really close friends with both of them now. We kind of know Tim but not too well. We are good friends with the Warren Brothers and they will be out there. That will take the intimidation factor down a little bit. They are best friends with Tim. We feel privileged to even be mentioned in the same sentence as those people. We’ve worked very hard to get where we are now but we feel incredibly fortunate to be included on tour with those folks and get out there and play our music for the people.
Q: For Kyle and Carl, this event is kind of the kickoff to the 2010 season. One of the main things is going to be, on a part-time basis at least, Danica Patrick. Is it going to be too big of a step for her or do you think she is doing it the right way? What is it going to be like for her?
Carl: It is going to be tough. Honestly, at first, I thought there was no way but then I heard just yesterday, my friend told me that at testing, she was really fast. You never know. What I have been saying from the beginning is for her to be successful over here would be not only a huge benefit to her and her sponsor but to the whole sport. It would be great. I hope she does well, not any better than me but I hope she does well. I think it will be tough, just like it is for everyone.
Kyle: Here is what I say, and this is what I have said from the very beginning. She is an incredibly talented driver. Can this be huge for her and for NASCAR? Yes it can! Obviously, open wheel built what the sport is now off of her because it was a floundering sport. That is not a criticism of that sport or what they do because the guys over there are incredible drivers too but the sport was not growing like NASCAR was growing. They took her and that marketing machine that she is and they went there. I agree with what Carl says. Talking to people that saw her test, she was fast but going fast and racing are two totally different things. That is like being a fast ball pitcher and being a pitcher. There are pitchers out there. Carl is a driver, he can drive fast but he can drive too. There are guys out there right now running cup that are fast but they can’t drive. That is just blunt, sorry. I think, when you look at that and think she can come here, I look at Franchitti, I look at Tony; when Tony first came over from open wheel to run the Busch car, and I look at Juan, and they are incredibly talented individuals. Juan Montoya, car control wise is the most amazing human beings I have seen in a car. He struggled for three years at this level before he really got to where he could race. She is not Juan Montoya, sorry; and she is not Dario Franchitti and she is not Tony Stuart. She has done stuff over there and won races over there but numbers wise, she is just a marketing machine. When you look at it like that and from what she has done on the race track, I hope she is successful. Let’s look at the facts; she is going to help the sport, the publicity of the sport, she can help a lot of that stuff but in the end, will she perform on the race track. It is going to be all on her shoulders.
Q: Would you say it is fair that all those other guys you named don’t have as good of equipment that she might be coming in with?
Kyle: What do you mean?
Q: They don’t drive necessarily for the top teams.
Kyle: She is coming into a situation where that car, the one she is getting into has won races. If she gets in that car and doesn’t win races, it’s not the car, it’s not the engine, not the team. They only changed one thing. Will she have an impact on the sport? Yes, initially she will have an impact on the sport. Will she have a long term impact on the sport? If she is successful, she will have a huge long term impact on the sport. If she is not successful, the only impact she will have on the sport is she wasted two or three years in a car that a good driver could have been in, could have been developing.
Q: Carl, you have been really busy lately, you took a trip to Costa Rica, shot a commercial for AFLAC in LA recently, your wife is not here, she is going to have a baby in just a couple of weeks and you are headed to Daytona. Tell us a little bit about Costa Rica, a little bit about what the AFLAC commercial will look like and your thoughts about going to Daytona and having a baby.
Carl: We had a really great time in Costa Rica. We were going to go to Cozumel and the trip this year was going to be extra fun because I flew my own plane. I had never flown it to Central America or anything like that. At the last minute, the weather looked really good in Costa Rica. I didn’t even know where Costa Rica was to be honest with you. Three years of Spanish didn’t help either. We went there and had a good time and then we went to California and shot this really neat commercial for AFLAC. I just can’t say enough good things about AFLAC. They are an amazing corporation, they do good things for people and they give back a lot too. At the AFLAC cancer center, they treated over 6,000 patients, children, last year whether they could pay or not. They are nice enough to use me in their marketing campaign. This commercial was a lot of fun. I got to stretch my acting skills out a little bit. You will be seeing it right around the winter Olympics. Now, we are getting ready to go to Daytona, I can’t wait. I am like a lot of you guys that cover racing all the time. After a couple of weeks off, I don’t know what day it is, and I start to think “what if I can’t drive like I use to”. I want to go drive something. I am excited about testing next week. The baby, I don’t know where to start there. I am kind of still in denial. That baby is really well behaved in her stomach, they say they are not that way when they come out so we will see what happens.
Q: Carl, can you tell us what you think about possible changes to the restrictor plate rules and the yellow line rules? People talk about your accident possibly being part of that.
Carl: I don’t know if my accident in Talladega was the product of the yellow line. It was probably more of a product of Brad Kesolowski and I both wanting to beat the other one really bad. We talked about that with Mike Kelton and them the other day. They think the yellow line rule is a good rule for most of the race because it keeps people above that slowdown area. It gives people a lane to slow down in if they are having a problem. Also, you can’t see through the cars, I have a feeling that if we didn’t have the yellow line rule, we would just be down there in the grass a lot, even if you didn’t mean to be. What we told NASCAR from Roush Findley’s driver’s side is that the yellow line rule is good but I personally like, and I think my teammates like the idea of when you see the checkered flag, anything goes. I think that is kind of fun. We are already wrecking every time so we might as well get to shoot for the grass and go for it. I hope they go back to that. The checkered flag just needs to be a race, no holds barred.
Q: Carl, talk about the tick and the performance of your team at the end of last year, maybe what you have learned over the off season and what RPM has brought to the table.
Carl: There was a tick but we did gain a little bit at the end of the season. I was as fast as I had been in the mile and a half in Homestead. RPM; we are getting Allmendinger, Sadler, Cain, their engineers, their expertise on things that they have been spending time and energy on. Hopefully, we will be able to combine a little of that. We are not in the same shop, we are separate teams. To me, to be able to have another guy of Casey’s caliber to go talk to about things. His crew chief, maybe be able to share some stuff with them, that would be huge. The big thing now is to show Casey that we can do well enough and that Ford’s the company to be with, get him to stay to help make our team strong in the long run.
Q: Carl, I enjoyed your impressive driving in the 2008 Race of Champions. You represented Americans very well. How did you feel to be in the same race as Michael Schumacher? Did you convert any European fans to NASCAR?
Carl: I went over to London to the Race of Champions. The first thing is they said they had “duckies” in their tub, they didn’t understand why I had a duck (AFLAC) on my driver’s suit. They gave me a hard time about that. The first race, I went up against Tinson Button. We were on separate tracks, I drove down to the first corner and hit my barrier so hard I moved the barrier and almost wrecked him on the other side. The guy that decided to bring me there to represent America was mad after that race. You could tell he was thinking he didn’t know why he brought “this idiot” from Missouri over to race. In the next race I got to race Michael Schumacher and I figured this is it; one of the greatest drivers to ever live. My trainer, my good buddy wears this Ferrari hat all the time just to make me mad and tells me Michael Schumacher is the greatest driver to live. So Michael is standing there and I am thinking all I want to do is beat him. That way I could have something on my buddy for wearing the hat. We had a great race and I beat Michael Schumacher and that was cool. That was one of the true highlights of my career. I was proud to do that.
Q: Did you convert any European fans to NASCAR fans?
Carl: I don’t know. I have some European fans on my Facebook page. I would like to go do some more stuff like that. I think it would be a lot of fun to go race some of the rally drivers. Sebastian Lowe is probably the best driver I have ever seen in my life. I got to ride a couple of laps with him. That raised my expectations of myself, just being in that car with him. I would like to go back over and do more. Did you guys see my Daytona prototype debut in Montreal? The first guy to almost kill himself before the green flag! I still have the scar on my arm. I am not a great sports car driver, it is like hit the wall or win.
Q: Carl, you are going into year seven now in the Chase. Does it seem that last season’s strategy has changed somewhat for guys like Montoya who were clearly saving stuff for the final ten. What is your outlook for 2010? Are you guys looking at it a little bit differently? Are you going to change things a bit?
Carl: It is tough. We have a chase format like the playoffs to qualify to get in and then you race after that. The year before that, I thought we did well. I get in the race car and I go as fast as I can all the time. Bob and the crew and team have to have a strategy where they try some things throughout the year but the way that the 48 teams perform and even the five teams for that matter? There are two goals. First is make the chase and then be the best you can be in it. Where we found ourselves having trouble is we got close to the chase; we were on the edge of not being in it so now we have to devote everything we can to just making it in. When you get to the chase you are like “wow, we made it”. That doesn’t work, those guys are geared up and ready to go so you have to be so strong and after about the first ten races, if you aren’t just flying and not in the top two or three points, then it is really tough. For a while, people were focused on the last ten and then they were focused on the ten leads and now you have to win Daytona, you have to be good from the beginning. You can’t even begin to focus on the end. What I am saying is you have to be fast in every turn, every race. You have to have something in reserve.

Kerry: Thank you guys very much for being here.

Transcribed by Pam Stadel

REVIEW: Lee Roy Parnell and Friends at The Basement January 2010

These days, Lee Roy Parnell is not slowing down or cooling his heels, he performed for a standing room only crowd at The Basement on a recent Monday evening that left everyone begging for more. His charm was as smooth and slick as the licks on his guitar; and if you have ever been in the presence of Parnell playing guitar, you know there was an electric energy bouncing off the rafters and the basement walls. This man can play a guitar!

Parnell has recently begun a series of shows entitled “Lee Roy Parnell and Friends” where he plays the 1st portion of the show with his band, The Hotlinks and his friends are artists, songwriters and instrumentalist who join him on stage to play and jam with him on a few songs for the second half of the show.

At a this particular show Parnell let loose with his portion of the night playing with The Hotlinks and singing such songs as “On The Road”, “Holdin’ My Own”, “T-Bone Shuffle” and his hits “Love Without Mercy” and “What Kind of Fool Do You Think I am”. He also did “Heart's Desire” and sang a song that he performed when he was six years old on Bob Wills radio show called “Milk Cow”.

Opening his second half of the show, Parnell brought up his back up singers for “Back To The Well” and then Lance Miller joined him on stage for “Sing Me Back Home” and “Old Back In The New School”.

His next guest, Kenneth Wright had the audience laughing as he sang “Betty Was Black” and an astounding “Rainy Night in Georgia”. You never know who will be in the crowd at one of Parnell’s shows, and on this particular evening he spotted Dave Pahanish, who came up on stage and sang a song he wrote called “American Ride” (recorded by Toby Keith).

Steve Wariner joined Parnell for an electric rendition of “Carmelita” (written by Steve and Lee Roy) and then performed “Guitar Talk”. Together they executed a version of “Workin' Man Blues” that had everyone in the crowd geared up and wanting more.

Late into the evening surprise guest Steve Cropper was spotted in the crowd and with encouragement from Parnell, Wariner and the crowd, he joined them on stage to show off his incredible guitar talents along with his hit songs “Midnight Hour”, “Dock of the Bay” and “Soul Man.”

The next Lee Roy Parnell and Friends show is scheduled for February 22nd at The Basement with guests to be announced soon so mark your calendars and plan on attending, because it promises to be a show you do not want to miss.

For more information on Lee Roy Parnell visit www.leeroyparnell.com/ or www.myspace.com/leeroyparnell

For photos of the last show http://www.digitalrodeo.com/DRPhotos/photos/album/LeeRoyParnellandFriendsatTHEBASEMENTJan18th

PRESS RELEASE: Triple Seven PR Hello Dave



Chicago based Hello Dave made their Nashville debut last night at the Rutledge for a special showcase.

From left to right:
Back/top - Peter Bauschke - drums
Second row - Marty Williamson - guitar, Mike Himebaugh - lead vocals/guitar, Al Wetzel, bass, Anne Harris, fiddle Front row - Mike "Magoo" McGohan, guitar

Photo credit Bev Moser


Hello Dave was accidentally formed at Eastern Illinois University by singer/songwriter Mike Himebaugh. Set on being a veterinarian while in college, Himebaugh curiously picked up an old acoustic guitar he found in the garage one day and taught himself to play. “Something changed in me when I started playing and I realized it was something I had to pursue,” says Himebaugh. “I come from a musical family and that guitar sparked an ‘aha’ moment. I formed the first incarnation of Hello Dave soon after and began playing shows at school events and moved quickly into shows across the MidWest.”
Big Al Wetzel (bass player) and Mike “Magoo” McGohan (electric guitar) joined Himebaugh in 1999 and together they began booking acts at clubs, bars and festivals, toured the country, and the world. In 2006, Peter Bauschke joined the band as the new drummer, and shortly thereafter, guitar-player Marty Williamson rounded out the band.
“I feel so blessed to have such talented band mates” says Himbaugh. “We’re also extremely fortunate to have such passionate and loyal fans across the country and we’re very excited to take things to the next level.” Many have dubbed Hello Dave’s fresh, new sound ‘Chicago Twang.’ Known for addictive melodies, ringing harmonies and heartfelt, memorable lyrics, the band delivers roaring guitar riffs and a thunderous rhythm section.
Hello Dave currently plays an average of 140 shows a year. They were featured on the 2009 Kenny Chesney Sun City Carnival Tour and played the official pre-parties for five of Chesney’s stadium shows. They have also toured with and opened for such bands as Big & Rich, Little Big Town, Pat Green, Van Zant, Blues Traveler, The Doobie Brothers, and they have been regular performers at Festivals such as Country Thunder. Hello Dave brings new fans on board with every stop they make, including 3 shows on last winter’s sold-out Lynyrd Skynyrd/Simple Man Cruise. The band has also traveled the world entertaining U.S. troops, including Afghanistan and two trips to Iraq.

The band’s newest material features the radio-emphasis track, “Golden,” the insightful “Waterville,” live favorite “Chicago Twang,” traditional country-groove “Ona Mae”, and the wistful “Hazel Shine.” Mike Himebaugh penned the songs, along with bass player Al Wetzel’s contribution on “Ona Mae.” The full-length album Chicago Twang is scheduled for release in early 2010 through Mountain Records, the band’s record label founded by Hello Dave’s manager John Wanzung.

For more information about “Golden” and Hello Dave, please contact manager John Wanzung, wanzung@hellodave.com, or 773.255.8069, and connect with Hello Dave via www.hellodave.com.

PRESS RELEASE: Aristo Media for Darby Ledbetter

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Local Media, Artists, National Guard Show Support For Singer-Soldier-Songwriter Darby Ledbetter at BMI Event


(Nashville, TN – Jan. 25, 2010) A packed house turned out Friday, Jan. 22 at the Nashville BMI offices to recognize singer-soldier-songwriter Darby Ledbetter for his ongoing 10-year service in the National Guard and his emerging career as a Country artist. Following in the footsteps of artists like Kid Rock and Three Doors Down, Ledbetter is only the third artist chosen by the National Guard to have one of his songs, (“I Won’t Let My Guard Down”), chosen for a national movie theater ad campaign. Ledbetter is preparing to deploy for his fourth combat tour overseas, with plans to release his debut album, Soldier Up, in the near future.

National Guardsman and Country singer Darby Ledbetter gathers with fellow artists at his
media event at BMI on Friday, Jan. 22. L to R: Lee Roy (The Roys), Lane Brody,
Ledbetter, Elaine Roy (The Roys), Aaron Tippin, Ty Williams. Photo: Bev Moser.

National Guardsman and Country singer Darby Ledbetter (c) poses with Dewayne Brown
(left; Director of Artist & Label Development, RED Distribution) and international promoter
Judy Seale (right; President, Judy Seale International, Inc.) at Darby’s media event, held at
the BMI offices last Friday, Jan. 22. Photo: Bev Moser.


ARTICLE: "Consider Me Gone" #1 Party


The beautiful Starstruck building on Nashville’s Music Row was aflutter with excitement on Monday evening during a big party celebrating the 34th #1 for Reba McIntire which was written by Steve Diamond and Marv Green.

During McIntire’s career she has had number one songs on the music charts during each of the last four decades; “Consider Me Gone” being her longest running single to date and staying on the charts for four weeks.

ASCAP kicked off the awards presentation recognizing Steve Diamond for his contribution to the project and amazing songwriting talents. Plaques commemorating the achievement were presented Steve and his wife, Teri, as publishers and also to Reba and Scott Borchetta, President/CEO The Valory Music Co. A plaque was also presented to Mark Wright who co-produced “Consider Me Gone” with McIntire; noting this was the twentieth #1 song produced by Wright.

Jody Williams, BMI Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations, Nashville acknowledged Ms. McIntire for her consistency in the music industry, as well as all of her entertainment endeavors since 1983 when she achieved her 1st number one song. Marv Green was recognized for his talent as a songwriter and collaboration on the number one song. Mark Wright as producer, Warner Chappell’s Tracy Gershon for music publisher, Scott Borchetta and Reba McIntire were all presented with BMI Awards.

Tracy Gershon, Sr. Vice President for Warner Chappell kicked off her presentation with the announcement than in lieu of fancier awards, a donation was being made in honor of Marv Green’s new son, Gibson, towards relief efforts in Haiti, stating this was the first of many donations to be made. Tracy applauded Reba for her continued leadership as a class act and representation of country music. Awards were given to each of the songwriters, producer, music label and artist by Warner Chappell Music.

Accolades and honors were also handed out by Wade Jessen, Chart Manager of Billboard Magazine; Hank Adam Locklin, Senior Manager of Membership and Industry Relations for the Country Music Association; Charlie Monk [Honorary Mayor of Music Row] for the Country Radio Broadcasters; David Ross, Vice President and John Freeman, Chart Director for Music Row Magazine and David Scarlett, Managing Editor for Country Weekly Magazine.

Scott Borchetta spoke warmly of Reba, who he touted as the queen of country music. During his words of appreciation he encouraged everyone to see the new tour before handing out plaques to everyone on behalf of The Valory Music Co.

Country music is a love of Reba’s and all of those who make the music tick, and she thanked everyone in the room for being a part of the team. She spoke of her motivation from the 1st award to now and how it continues to drive her to continue reaching for higher goals and lovingly gave kudos to Narvel Blackstock for always being there as both her manager and husband, stating this number one would never be forgotten.

For additional photos of the event visit http://www.digitalrodeo.com/DRPhotos/photos/album/ConsiderMeGone1Party

ARTICLE: Darby Ledbetter "I Won't Let My Guard Down"

Darby Ledbetter is no stranger to taking chances; he is a National Guardsman with prior service in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy and presently preparing to head back to Iraq for his fifth combat tour. Darby is also gearing up to release his first album as a Country artist with the release of his single “I Won’t Let My Guard Down”; a song written by a Soldier—for all Soldiers.

Ledbetter is a Warrant Officer with the Tennessee National Guard and wrote the song to honor the men and women who proudly serve their nation as Citizen–Soldiers. His soulful music tells the compelling story of these Soldiers, their Families and the commitment they make at home and abroad.


In the middle of a national promotional campaign for his song, “I Won’t Let My Guard Down,” Darby was once again called upon to serve his country. Rather than abandon his dream of being a Country singer, Darby accepted the challenge as a soldier, recognizing a noble opportunity to do what most musicians never get the chance to do: put their money where their mouth is.


On the afternoon of January 22nd, members of the marketing media for the National Guard, main stream media representatives, music industry executives, artists, and songwriters all gathered during a private invitation event in one place for a common purpose; to let Darby share what can be done when Americans share a vision and share the work. Special guests included members of the National Guard; from Washington, Colonel Dones and Major Wagner who were the backbone leading up to the event at BMI and Captain Britt, head of the marketing division and in house marketing material for the National Guard. Jessica Boyle Sr. Account Executive of LM&O Advertising from Washington and country artists Aaron Tippin, The Roys, Lane Brody and Ty Williams were also on hand to show support.

Clay Bradley, BMI Writer/Publisher Relations, welcomed the distinguished guests who gathered to honor Ledbetter and view the touching video for “I Won’t Let My Guard Down.” Bradley also presented Ledbetter with a leather BMI journal, stating, “I know you are going to go overseas, you can stack that in your backpack to keep all those ideas for your next album.”


Jeff Teague, President of A & R reiterated the welcome and added, “There is an old slogan here in Music City, “it all begins with a song” and that is exactly what happened when Darby Ledbetter drifted into our office.” After hearing his music and his story, the idea was born to approach the National Guard about Darby being a personal and musical ambassador for the National Guard, which soon led to a series of talks and visits from people from the pentagon. Another union was forged between Darby and the National Guard Bureau in Washington DC that does the marketing on a national level, which resulted in a nationwide theater campaign that featuring the song called “I Won’t Let My Guard Down.”


Teague continued to say, “As this blossomed, Darby was planning to release his music in the full CD form when a piece of paper arrived telling him that he is about to deploy to go overseas again. The man who has been singing, performing and delivering the message “I Won’t Let My Guard Down,” has been called to put his rear end where his lyrics are.”


Hank Adam Locklin, Sr. Manager of Membership and Industry Relations for the Country Music Association thanked Ledbetter for his selflessness and defending our country and presented him with several gifts from the CMA after asking him to sign his CMA membership agreement.

Jeff Walker President/CEO Aristo Media represented Mark Woods, Director of Operation Troop Aid. Woods spent 21 years in service and retired as a Navy officer in June 2008; since then, he has devoted his life to Operation Troop Aid. Reading from a letter Woods sent to Darby, “though I am not in the war zone anymore, I am fighting every day to raise money to send the much needed and truly needed care packages to you and the troops. Since I started OTA a few years ago, I have been blessed to have sent just about 700,000 in care packages. It gives me great pleasure to announce that in honor of you Darby and your deployment, I will be sending $5,000 worth of care packages to you and your unit. In addition, in your name, we will be sending another $5,000 worth to Pat Tillman’s unit for a total of $10,000 worth. I will be putting these packages together February 26th at the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville with many of the country music colleagues helping prepare these care packages”.


Ledbetter presently is in Mississippi with the 278th ACR and members of the Tennessee National Guard preparing to go on his next deployment. 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment (278th ACR) is a regiment of the Tennessee Army National Guard with headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee. Although termed a regiment, it is currently organized as a heavy brigade combat team. Later on this week, they are unveiling a monument for the fallen soldiers. At the reception at BMI, Ledbetter dedicated and sang a song entitled “It’s Just Me” to the families and those soldiers.


For more information on Darby Ledbetter visit www.myspace.com/darbyledbetter or www.nationalguard.com/events/darby-ledbetter


Local Media, Artists, National Guard Show Support For Singer-Soldier-Songwriter Darby Ledbetter at BMI Event

A packed house turned out Friday, Jan. 22 at the Nashville BMI offices to recognize singer-soldier-songwriter Darby Ledbetter for his ongoing 10-year service in the National Guard and his emerging career as a Country artist.  Following in the footsteps of artists like Kid Rock and Three Doors Down, Ledbetter is only the third artist chosen by the National Guard to have one of his songs, (“I Won’t Let My Guard Down”) chosen for a national movie theater ad campaign.  Ledbetter is preparing to deploy for his fourth combat tour overseas, with plans to release his debut album, Soldier Up, in the near future.
Photo Credit: Bev Moser, Moments By Moser
National Guardsman and Country singer Darby Ledbetter poses with several artists at his media event at BMI on Friday, Jan. 22.  L to R: Lee Roy (The Roys), Lane Brody, Ledbetter, Elaine Roy (The Roys), Aaron Tippin, Ty Williams.
Darby Ledbetter
National Guardsman and Country singer Darby Ledbetter (c) poses with Dewayne Brown (left; Label & Artist Development, RED Distribution) and international promoter Judy Seale
(right; President, Judy Seale Entertainment) at his media event, held at the BMI offices last Friday, Jan. 22.
Darby Ledbetter

Sound and Speed Behind The Scenes: Session Two Q & A

Session Two: Sound and Speed Behind The Scenes Q & A 1-9-2010
Mike Skinner (NASCAR) and Ranger Doug of Riders In The Sky (Artist)


For the past four years, this two-day fan event featuring some of the top names in country music and NASCAR has attracted an estimated 40,000 fans and has raised more than $800,000 for Victory Junction (a year-round camping experience founded by Kyle and Pattie Petty for children, ages 6-16, with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses) and the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum.

On Saturday, Jan. 9th fans of racing and country music had the opportunity to get up-close and personal with drivers and country music stars at Nashville's Municipal Auditorium for autographs and question-and-answer sessions. NASCAR stars Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Michael Waltrip, Clint Bowyer, Reed Sorenson, David Stremme, Aric Almirola, Justin Allgaier, Kyle Petty, Michael Annett, Carl Edwards, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Busch, James Buescher, Brad Kesolowski, Logan Ruffin, Brian Scott and Morgan Shepherd joined country music stars Chris Young, Jason Michael Carroll, Josh Turner, members of Diamond Rio, Danny Gokey, Danielle Peck, Corey Smith, Ashton Shepherd, Brady Seals, Nathan Lee Jackson, and duo Kate & Kacey.

Behind the scenes, media also has an opportunity to visit with the participants in Q & A (Question and Answer) interview sessions throughout the event.

Moderators: Kerry Tharp with NASCAR and Holly with Kaleidoscope Media & Marketing

Kerry: Mike Skinner has certainly been one of the more successful drivers that we have had in our sport. He is the 1995 NASCAR Camping World series champion, the first year of that series. He finished third in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series this past season. He is the series all time leader with 47 polls.

Holly: For thirty years, Riders In The Sky has been reviving, revitalizing, and remaining true to the integrity of Western music. They have become modern day icons by branding the genre with their own wacky humor and way out western wit while encouraging people to live the cowboy way. Please say howdy to guitarist Range Doug, governor of the great state of rhythm.

Kerry: Mike, as you look forward to this next season, what are your thoughts for how you think your team is going to do and your thoughts about being here today.

Mike: First of all, when you get to my age, you are not suppose to have as much desire as I do to get racing again. I wish Daytona was tomorrow. We are actually going to Daytona this week to do some short track testing. It will be our first time back in a race car, truck in this case, since Homestead. I’m just chomping at the bit, can’t wait to do it. This event just revs me up all the more, coming here and seeing the race fans and a lot of the Country singers and stars and some of my fellow NASCAR drivers. I just can’t wait, I wish it was tomorrow. We started out in the truck series, left it in 1997 and went to the cup series until 2004. We left a big void there and we still hold a couple of records. I don’t regret that move but I think the books might have been written a little bit different if I had stayed there all those years.

Holly: Ranger Doug, please tell us about Riders In The Sky and how you got involved with Sound and Speed.

Ranger Doug: Riders In The Sky started 32 years ago in November. We started with the express desire to keep alive the great Western music of Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and The Sons of the Pioneers. We have played 5,861 appearances now and that works out to about 182.3 a year. We have won a couple of Grammy’s for our work with Disney in Toy Story II and have 30-some albums. It has really been fun. I got involved with Sound and Speed just because Michael at the Country Music Hall of Fame asked if I would like to and I said sure, I’d love to. I love cars and I love to help with a great cause and I love the Country Music Hall of Fame as well.

Q: Mike, as far as preseason testing, who determines when, where and what race tracks you go to and the new Smyrna track, how does that relate to which track you normally race at in this series?

Mike: NASCAR does not allow testing anymore. You are not allowed to go test at any racetrack that you are actually going to race at. New Smyrna is not a NASCAR track and we don’t have an event at New Smyrna Speedway so what the race teams do whether it is the Sprint Cup series, the Nationwide series or the Camping World Truck series, we find race tracks that we don’t go to and we go and test there. Just to get an idea, New Smyrna is about 12 or 13 degrees in banking, it is only a half mile race track. Race tracks that we will get data for and learn things about go from a range of Martinsville Speedway to New Hampshire to Pocono Speedway to Michigan, which is a two mile speedway. There is a broad range of places that we can learn from even testing at a lot lower speed on the half mile track. We just compile data information on suspension parts and different things that we want to do throughout the year. NASCAR sets the rules, they say you can’t test. We don’t have to hide the fact that we are testing, we just can’t test on a NASCAR track

Q: Ranger Doug, I would like to talk to you about this other fine band you have called the “Time Jumpers”. A lot of people in here probably don’t know about the Time Jumpers; please fill them in on it.

Ranger Doug: The Time Jumpers started about 10 years ago. It was a bunch of people that played in the studios all day, played music for other people all day, that started a band of traditional western swing just to play what they wanted to play. We play every Monday night at a place that is called the Station Inn right here in the Gulch. We rarely tour because everyone has such busy schedules but we are just playing the music we love. There are eleven pieces, two girl singers, three fiddles, a steel guitar; just like an old Texas dance band. I get to play rhythm guitar in that band. I don’t have to front the group or think of clever things to say, just sit back there and play my heart out. I love the Time Jumpers. I think we were nominated for two Grammy’s last year. We didn’t win either category but it was nice to be recognized. We’re probably the premier western swing group, certainly in the last 30 or 40 years and maybe ever. We will never have the success that Bob Wills did but it is a wonderful, fun band and I advise anyone that enjoys traditional western music to come see us on a Monday night.

Q: Mike, with your record of polls in the truck series, what’s the secret to being a good qualifier? What do you do that is better than others?

Mike: I think the desire and the willingness to scare the Hell out yourself comes into play. They came out with the restrictor plates as I call them, a spacer plate under the carburetor now that takes about 100 horsepower. We were making so much horsepower that these trucks were running over 200 miles per hour at some of these places. They are not aerodynamically sound for that speed, so NASCAR slowed us down to keep us from flying up and hurting someone in the stands or hurting ourselves. A few years ago, there might have only been three or four of us in the field that was crazy enough, brave enough, stupid enough, I am not really sure which, to try to hold it wide open all the way around the race newer race tracks like Texas, Atlanta and the like. I have been blessed to have the ability to be one of those people that has been able to do that. Now days, everyone holds it wide open qualifying. So there is no real advantage to be a great qualifier in this day and time except when you get to places like Martinsville, Virginia and Bristol. Anywhere you have to lift off the throttle, then it is still really important, but a lot of the racetracks we go to now, everybody runs wide open.

Q: Mike, the news this week is Ken Schrader is going to run for Red Bull in the Bud Shootout. Someone told me you are affiliated with Red Bull also? Can you tell us about that? Also, for the over 50 crowd for NASCAR, drivers like Mark Martin, Schrader and yourself, there seems to be a renaissance going on.

Mike: A few years ago, if you were old enough to shave, you were washed up; you were too old to run NASCAR. Some of us old guys came back in this past year. I won three races, I think Ron won five or six; Mark Martin won a bunch of races. The old guys have come back and we had really great success last year. There is no substitute for youth but there is also no substitute for experience. I look at this gentleman right here (Ranger Doug) and I try to play the guitar, I play maybe five or six chords and I am terrible. I just envy what they do. It is amazing what a fine line it is between the young guy that is coming in, the Joey Louganis of the world, that are coming in, that are going to be the future that makes up our sport. And the Mark Martins that have been here forever, and myself, we have that knowledge of what to do, we don’t have the youth anymore but for some reason we are still getting it done. I have had an affiliation with Red Bull for the last few years. I am basically a substitute driver, if one of their drivers gets hurt; they call on me to drive the car. I have done some driver development. I helped AJ Allmendinger out when they were struggling. I have mentored some, tried help Scott Speed get going, and I am like the “on call” guy. Ken Schrader is running that race because he is guaranteed a spot in that race. I don’t know if we will continue to have the Red Bull relationship this coming year, it wouldn’t surprise me. But, I might get called in for ten races; I might not get called at all. I do endorse the product, I like the product, I drink Red Bull and I think they are an awesome company. They have the best energy drink out there. This past year we went to Goodwood, another festival of speed and it was fantastic to get to drive the Red Bull car.

Q: Mike, NASCAR put the spacers in the Camper World Truck series in 2008. In my opinion, I think it has diminished the racing, the trademark of the NASCAR Camping World racing which is the bumper to bumper racing. Do you think it takes more driving skills to drive a Camper World Truck these days with the spacers than driving a Camper World Truck in say 1996?

Mike: I don’t want to degrade myself or anyone else by the way I answer this but I am like you. I don’t like the spacers; I am not a fan of the spacer. I think that the guy that is brave enough to run it off in the corner and try to get it slowed down and turned around is not really a big advantage anymore. They have taken guys; we call them wheelmen, and tried to turn us into chess players. We are more like tackles on a football field, we want to chomp at the bit and go out there and attack the race track, attack it every lap. This spacer plate doesn’t work too good. Now we have to learn to play chess instead of getting out there and rock ’em sock ’em.

Q: Have you drivers pleaded with NASCAR to take the spacers out of the Nationwide and Camper World Truck cars?

Mike: Yes, we have and I have to say I would hate to be in NASCAR’s position because it is a double edged sword. They take those plates out and we go and put a truck up in the grandstand somewhere and harm our fans, now have a really big black eye in our sport. We go out and a couple of drivers lose their lives, we have a huge black eye. It is a double edged sword. I totally understand NASCAR’s position but I do believe we need to put recovery and acceleration back in these things. I still think the Camper World Truck series is the best show in NASCAR, the time of the race, it is about half the distance, we race every lap from green to checkered and I enjoy it. I would vote for putting the horsepower back in.

Q: Ranger Doug, Riders In the Sky, when are we going to get a new CD? Is it going to be on Rounder Records or another label?

Ranger Doug: (to Mike) The first thing I would like to say is you might be a lousy guitar player but you ought to see me drive.

Mike: He wants to do what I do and I want to do what he does.

Ranger Doug: We have a new CD about to come out. We did three days with the Nashville Symphony about a year ago. We have symphonic charts, western music is built for a symphony. It is like seeing an old western with John Ford in it where you hear the violins or French horns come up. It will be out next month and it will be on the Nashville Symphony label and it is called “Riders In The Sky lassoed live at the Schermerhorn”.

Q: When is the next one going to be?

Ranger Doug: After that? We have about three of them half done. We have a continual request for an inspirational album so I guess that will probably be the next one that comes out. Like what many artists are doing today with the fluctuating music industry, it looks like we will probably just put it out ourselves, sell 1/10th as many and make twice as much money.

Q: Ranger Doug, when you talk about an album and you say you have two or three things half done. Is it because you don’t want to put it out there until you have it perfected? I have seen artists throw a bunch of songs on an album just to sell an album.

Ranger Doug: We don’t want to do that. Part of our problem is we have a really busy road schedule and it is just hard to finish them up. You can lay down the initial tracks and then you go back and lay down the vocals but to fit all the pieces together and make them just perfect, it takes time and we just haven’t had it. We did 215 dates year before last and 280 last year and that just doesn’t give you much time to get in the studio.

Kerry: Thank you all for being here.

Transcribed by Pam Stadel

Sound and Speed Behind The Scenes: Session One Q & A

Session One: Sound and Speed Behind The Scenes Q & A 1-9-2010
Ernie Irwin (NASCAR), Mallory Hope (Country Artist), Mike Bliss (NASCAR)


For the past four years, this two-day fan event featuring some of the top names in country music and NASCAR has attracted an estimated 40,000 fans and has raised more than $800,000 for Victory Junction (a year-round camping experience founded by Kyle and Pattie Petty for children, ages 6-16, with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses) and the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum.

On Saturday, Jan. 9th fans of racing and country music had the opportunity to get up-close and personal with drivers and country music stars at Nashville's Municipal Auditorium for autographs and question-and-answer sessions. NASCAR stars Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Michael Waltrip, Clint Bowyer, Reed Sorenson, David Stremme, Aric Almirola, Justin Allgaier, Kyle Petty, Michael Annett, Carl Edwards, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Busch, James Buescher, Brad Kesolowski, Logan Ruffin, Brian Scott and Morgan Shepherd joined country music stars Chris Young, Jason Michael Carroll, Josh Turner, members of Diamond Rio, Danny Gokey, Danielle Peck, Corey Smith, Ashton Shepherd, Brady Seals, Nathan Lee Jackson, and duo Kate & Kacey.

Behind the scenes, media also has an opportunity to visit with the participants in Q & A (Question and Answer) interview sessions throughout the event.

Moderators: Kerry Tharp with NASCAR and Holly with Kaleidoscope Media & Marketing

Kerry: Welcome to the 2010 Sprint Speed and Sound presented by Sun Trust here in Nashville TN. It may be a little chilly on the outside but certainly warm on the inside. It is a great way to combine two very passionate fan bases and industries, NASCAR and Country Music. It benefits two great causes, Victory Junction Camp and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. We appreciate everyone being here today.

Kerry: To my left is Ernie Irvan. Ernie was named one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers in 1998. He is the 1991 Daytona 500 winner, 313 career NASCAR sprint cup series races and went to victory lane 15 times. Ernie, welcome to Nashville.
Kerry: To the far left is Mike Bliss, NASCAR driver extraordinaire. He has run in all three series, 476 combined starts across the three national series. He is coming off a very solid year and finished fifth in the NASCAR Nationwide series standings. He is going to be racing NASCAR Sprint cup series full time in 2010.

Holly: In the middle we have Mallory Hope. By the time she was a sophomore in high school, she was performing over 150 shows a year. Her determination was so intense that her whole family pulled up stakes in Georgia and moved to Music City when she was 17 years old. She finished her education as a home schooled student while enroute to signing a publishing contract and recording over 500 demos as a music row session singer. Last November (2009) at age 21, she signed a recording contract with MCA Records. Her single, “Blossoms in the Dust”, will be coming out in February.

Kerry: Let’s start it here with Ernie. Tell us about your involvement with Sprint Sound and Speed and why you like coming here. I think you have been here several times.
Ernie: I like coming here for to try meet Country singers. I am going to take Mallory and go ARCA racing. She is going to outdo all the other females that are starting to run ARCA. We are going to do that and a lot of people are going to start watching her.

Kerry: Mike Bliss, I know you had a lot of good news come out last month. You are driving the number 36 car for Tommy Baldwin and racing full time this season. Talk about that and your take on the 2010 season.

Mike: First of all, we came here for the good weather. I don’t know if it is any warmer, maybe we should have gone to Miami. Yes, I am driving for Tommy Baldwin Racing. This is his second year as an owner. He has been a crew chief for a long time and won a lot of races. Him and Wave Energy drink is our sponsor. My hat’s off to Tommy being an owner and not a crew chief. He is really sticking his neck out so I am excited about being involved with a team that’s in its sophomore year.

Holly: Mallory, tell us about yourself.

Mallory: I moved to Nashville from Georgia when I was a senior in high school. I started writing songs and singing demos. I have a really great team behind me and they decided that it was time to go to Music Row and visit a few record labels. I felt like I had the songs ready and the record done already. I walked in and played for MCA and Luke Lewis, the president and in my heart I felt that was where I was supposed to be. We put a song out in August 2009 and it went to around #36 on Billboard and we are getting ready to release an new song in February called “Blossom in the Dust”. On my album, I got to co-write 10 of the 11 songs. If you want to know about my life in Georgia, every song on there has a story. I can’t wait for you to get the album and hear all about my life.

Q: Mallory, how old were you when you started singing and decided you wanted to be a singer?
Mallory: I started singing when I was two or three. We came to Nashville when I was nine and I sang with the house band at The Nashville Palace. On the way back to Georgia, I told my parents that no matter what happens; this is what I want to do. I wanted to quit cheerleading and sports and sing. I had heard someone yodel while I was in Nashville and I drove my parents nuts all the way back to Georgia trying to teach myself to yodel too. I figured it out by the time I got home.

Q: You are the only successful artist to come out of NACMA (North American Country Music Association. You must be very proud.

Mallory: NACMA is a great organization. I joined when I was about 13 or 14. I joined the Country Music and Gospel Association in Georgia and it turned into the NACMA organization. Each spring, kids would come and compete and sing. I did that for five years; it put me on stage and allowed me to meet other musicians.

Q: Mike, do you think with Danica’s part time schedule will help put more focus on the races?

Mike: I think Danica Patrick is going to steal a lot of thunder from a lot of drivers. There is a lot of emphasis on her and she is someone that they are going to be watching at Daytona. Thank God it is her, the camera is going to be on her; a lot of pressure. It is hard for a regular Nationwide driver and his team to get that kind of attention because it is overshadowed by the cup guys. It has been that way for awhile. We are starting to lose some of the Nationwide owners because of that.

Q: Mallory, as a songwriter, are there any songs on your upcoming CD that you have a great story behind and would like to share?

Mallory: Actually, “Blossom In The Dust” is coming out February 16 so please call your local radio stations. That song is also the title of the album. I wrote it with two great friends and it is a story about a girl I went to school with who grew up in a rough family life and at one point was adopted. It talks about this little girl that didn’t really have a chance and then someone else giving her a chance. She blossomed from the dust. Every song on there really does mean a lot to me. The single that was released last summer is called “Love Lives On” and it was written about my sister. Her and her husband are both in the military and had just had a baby. I asked my sister if my nephew was planned or a surprise because we had just found out that my brother-in-law was getting ready to leave for 18 months in Iraq. She said that when they found out he was going, they decided to have a baby because if something were to happen to him while he was at war, she would want to have a piece of him to be reminded of him and see him in that child. From that conversation, I wrote the song “Love Lives On” the next day. Every song on there has a story.

Q: Ernie, can you compare this event here in Nashville with the event that used to be held in Winston Salem.

Ernie: The deal in Winston Salem grew through the years. Nashville is starting to grow now; it is bigger and better organized this year. They are making it easier for the drivers to come here, get in and out and sign autographs. That is very important and I know that SunTrust and everyone involved have been doing that. Also, this auditorium is perfect to do this in. Everyone that wants autographs can get one; they can meet the drivers and see the cars and the singers.

Q: Is it fun to have the Country Music stars here?

Ernie: It is great to sit next to Mallory, this is Nashville and this is the Country Music part. A lot of people like to ask her questions. Country singing, NASCAR and going fast correspond with each other. A lot of NASCAR fans are Country Music fans and it is nice to be able to come and intermingle with the singers and participate in the events and hear them sing and perform. They get to see us perform on the racetrack but now they get to mingle with us right here.

Q: Mike, congratulations on your new ride. Your first race is going to be the biggest of the season. How much pressure is that for you going into it with a new team?

Mike: Daytona is our “Superbowl” of the year. We have qualifying races on Thursday to get us in the race. Thursday is probably one of the worst races of the whole season as far as trying to get into the race. I remember, in past seasons constantly being on the radio asking “what do we need, what do we need to spot”. If you are involved in a wreck, then there goes your whole weekend. The year starts with Daytona and keeps going. There is a lot of pressure on Thursday, that is the first race of the whole year.

Q: Ernie, in 1999, you stepped into a Nationwide car that unfortunately ended your career. Looking back on that, would you not race in a Nationwide series knowing that you are a lucrative Sprint car driver?

Ernie: I would probably have still done the same thing because you never know what the future brings. I got hurt the first time in a cup car, it could happen anywhere. When you drive down the street, you don’t know what will happen. It was a great car, a well-built car and I owned it, so we felt like we had done everything possible to make the car safe. Today, the cars are so much safer, the walls are softer, and there are so many safety features that have come about because of the wrecks that have happened. We have all learned from the past. Today, I would probably still be running the Nationwide car and still running the cup car. I am almost at the age where I would be too old but Mark Martin keeps making it where I could still be doing it.

Q: Mallory has there been one compliment that has stood out through the years for you?

Mallory: Most recently, the song “Love Lives On”, that has been out for about six months. It is very interesting to me because I know I am just getting started with my career and I have been able to go across the country and sing in different states and meet different people. I have met so many that have used the song in their daily lives. We left the topic open so anyone going through a loss could use the song and every day I get messages on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and email from people that tell me about their husband that is overseas or their Mother that just passed away or they lost their child. Everybody that sends me messages has changed my life and it is great to know that I am having an emotional impact on others.

Kerry: Ernie, Mallory and Mike, we appreciate you being here. Thank you.

Transcribed by Pam Stadel

PRESS CONF: Trace Adkins joins Show Dog-Universal Music


Toby Keith and Mark Wright (Principle and President respectively of the newly merged Show Dog-Universal Music Label) visited with members of the media today at a press conference held at BMI to answer questions about the expectations and possible changes. They also took the opportunity to announce that Platinum star Trace Adkins is the first new artist to be signed under the newly combined Show Dog-Universal Music.

Adkins joined them at the event, telling reporters that he had 15 good years at Capitol Records, but was excited about the new partnership. Adkins has known Toby Keith for many years, but became better acquainted and discovered how much they have in common on tour together last summer while performing on the 2009 America's Toughest tour. Adkins recalled seeing Keith onstage every night, describing him as “a 12-year-old on Christmas morning.” Then joking, “It’s real…he ain’t that good an actor.” Adkins, who celebrated his 48th birthday today was presented with a cake as members of the label, media and music row executives sang Happy Birthday.

Adkins has been working on new music; of it Keith told the crowd, “he finally saw what he wants and went for it… it’s got edge, it’s got smile.”

Keith and Wright, who have known each other at least 16 years, talked of other details of the merger, calling the newly combined label a “perfect match.” Universal South's big contribution to the merger, Keith and Wright agreed, was to bring in an A&R department. The merger involved the loss of two staffers from Show Dog and six or seven from Universal South; but no other major changes were in the works at this time. Wright went on to say that making changes to staff was the one part of his job he disliked, and they tried to keep the employee roster an easy transition with as few eliminations in positions as possible.


Keith’s superstar power is expected to bring big opportunities for the newer acts signed to the label. They can join him on the road, and play his namesake Bar And Grills.
Artists involved in the merger include Show Dog's Carter's Chord, Mica Roberts, Mac McAnally and Trailer Choir as well as Univeral South's Randy Houser, Phil Vassar, Joe Nichols, Jonathan Singleton & the Grove, the Eli Young Band, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Baylie Brown and Ashley Ray.

Keith said the merged label will release albums this year from Trailer Choir, Carter's Chord, Jonathan Singleton & the Grove and possibly Adkins.