Americana—Early Bird Festival Rate; Hayes Carll Honored

Americana—Early Bird Festival Rate; Hayes Carll Honored

• April 28, 2011
SESAC Awards Hayes Carll
SESAC presented singer-songwriter Hayes Carll with a plaque in honor of his No. 1 Americana album, KMAG YOYO. Carll took time to receive the award and visit with SESAC executives in Nashville before his packed show at Mercy Lounge.
(L-R): SESAC’s Shannan Hatch, Hayes Carll and SESAC’s Tim Fink. Photo: Bev Moser

Americana Music Festival: Last Chance for Early Bird Rate
The early bird registration rate for the Americana Music Festival and Conference ends Sat., April 30, offering the discounted price of $250 for AMA members and $350 for non-members. This is $200 off the walk-up price. Showcase submissions also close April 30. Details on all this and more at
The festival and conference will run October 12-15, 2011. Registration includes access to all daytime music, panels and workshops; priority admission to nightly showcases; and a ticket to the critically acclaimed Americana Honors & Awards show at the Ryman Auditorium. The 12th annual conference will be based at the Sheraton Nashville Downtown Hotel, which is offering a special rate of $169 per night for attendees, online or by calling 615-259-2000.

REVIEW: DJ Miller Industry Showcase

DJ Miller did not just put on a standard industry showcase for the Music Row executives and media members in attendance at his performance on Wednesday April 27th at tht Rutledge, he entertained. The talented 21 year old not only has an great voice and ability to sing, but he has put great effort into studying the stage performance persona of hitmakers of today such as Brad Paisley as well as Garth Brooks. He connects with his audience both on stage and off, and it is not uncommon for this young man to jump into the crowd to sing and dance with his fans.

“You can’t be the only one having fun,” Miller explains. “You have to interact with the crowd. You want them to be wondering what’s gonna happen next. If you just stand there and sing your songs and play your music, you might sound really good, but if you don’t give your fans a real show, then they may not have a reason to come back and see you again.”

Miller debut album will be out in May on Evergreen records and the young artist gave those in attendance a taste of the music while singing songs he has written with hit songwriters Don Goodman (Blake Shelton, Faith Hill, Brooks & Dunn) and Charlie Black (Alan Jackson, Reba & Phil Vassar). His current single, entitled “Whatever It Takes” is a traditional styled country ballad which was written with Goodman along with Trini Triggs and Brad Wolf and is currently in the top 40 on both Billboard and Music Row charts.

Keep your eye on this young man, call your local radio stations and request his music and if you get a chance to see his live performance you will not be disappointed.

For more information on DJ Miller visit  

Additional photos of the industry showcase can be viewed at

INTERVIEW: Doug Gray (Marshall Tucker Band) Soul Of The South

Forty years ago the Marshall Tucker Band roared out of Spartanburg, South Carolina, at the dawn of the '70s, spurred on by camaraderie and a hunger for adventure. They began forging a musical legacy that quickly turned into a legend. Their ability to blend rock, country, jazz and blues won them a fervent following and changed perceptions of what American pop music could be. On April 5, 2011, marking its 40th Anniversary, the Marshall Tucker Band released The Marshall Tucker Band: Greatest Hits (Shout Factory). The 14-track album features original recordings of the songs that made the MTB a household name.

Lead singer Doug Gray unveiled his lost R&B solo album, Soul Of The South (Shout Factory), on the same date as the MTB Greatest Hits. The unreleased 30-year-old recordings’, featuring the MTB, showcases Gray's vocal affinity for Soul and Blues.

Doug and I chatted about the music and the release of both albums, along with what else we might expect in the future from him and the Marshall Tucker Band.

Bev: I am in love with your new solo project, “Soul of the South”, can you shed some light and a little background about it and why you decided to put it out now?

DG: Well, thirty years ago, Tommy had just died in a car wreck. We were all life long buddies and we weren’t sure what was going to happen with the band. So, I came to Nashville wanting to do some background stuff for some things that I really liked, some good soulful music. I wanted to add some things to it and make it the way I remember music before there was Marshall Tucker. I was offered a record contract and turned it down. The band was already signed to a label, I think it was Warner Brothers at the time and I wasn’t about to leave. A lot of guys want to go out and do their solo career, but I wasn’t one that wanted to do that. I liked being in a band and in a group. I could have taken the easier route, but I chose to take the harder path by staying in the Marshall Tucker band and keeping it going for thirty years. You always have this gut instinct, the guys you went to high school with, you want to stay with those guys. It’s almost like being married to people. You certainly want to stay there, you don’t want to leave. Some “get too cool for school” and think they are a little better than the band they are with. I never felt that way. Some forty years later, it is still run the same way. Everyone is important to the group. There is no one person that sticks out, including me. I’m just the oldest one in the band. Being the oldest one, they give me more respect (laughter) but that doesn’t mean I have to be a boss, I just have to be a part.

Bev: In correlation with your CD, the Marshall Tucker band also has a Greatest Hits CD out. What prompted both at the same time?

DG: The reason for doing that was we haven’t had a Greatest Hits CD out for over ten years and while touring, people would come up and ask us when we we’re going to put a Greatest Hits CD out with this song or that song. I wrote these things down over the ten year period and realized that if we added these songs to our hit songs, then it really would be a Greatest Hits CD. Sure enough, this is a result of it. We added four or five songs that people wanted and this way they don’t have to carry around a bunch of Marshall Tucker CDs. The record label and the distribution both said that the Doug Gray record was good and I should have put it out twenty years ago. It fit more to the times then and it is different. It has the band on it, everyone but Tommy.

Bev: What is the one re-occurring question that everyone wants to know?

DG: They want to know when I am going to stop. I think they come to see us just to see if I am still alive — that being a joke I hope. Probably the one question is how does it sound similar, but it is different guys down through the years. The first band was only together for nine years and then the band changed. The guys matured and wanted to try different things. People want to know how it changes and how do we make it strong and keep going.

Bev: On a personal level, how have things changed for you? You started singing shortly after you learned to walk. For you to start so young and music has been a huge part of your life, how have you seen things change for you personally over the last few years?

DG: It has gotten a lot easier and people are more interested now than they’ve ever been. I am amazed. It use to be you would go out and play a version of a song and now, thirty years later someone says “you know, that version is really, really good and now, I would like to hear the other version”. I have to say to them that that was a period of time version. It is not really that much different but it is. They don’t say those things to be hurtful. I think people appreciate The Marshall Tucker band a lot more than they did a long time ago. The same people are coming out to see us, but they are not bringing Jack Daniels bottles anymore, they’re bringing cookies because there’s three generations along with them now and THAT is what is cool.

Bev: Have you ever thought of doing something else? Have you ever thought you might want to expand to another area like acting or something?

DG: One good thing about YouTube is you learn what you can do. Back when it was cool to put out all those different videos, we put them out and we did some commercials. I learned that was not my way to go. Once you look at yourself on video, you can pretty much tell and I didn’t want to look at myself anymore. It is like finishing a record. Once you finish that record, you never want to go back to it unless you have an ego bigger than the world. I don’t have that kind of ego. Once I saw myself in some of those really expensive videos that we did and they’ve been played all over and thousands of YouTubes out there, I realize I don’t need to be an actor.

Bev: When you have downtime and not doing anything musically, what are your hobbies?

DG: I ride my Harley. I go to see different people. I love the beach and I love the Harley, those two things go together.

Bev: Earlier you mentioned that you jotted notes and things down. Do you keep a journal?

DG: Of course. I think that is one of the smartest things anyone can do because no memory is that good. It is like you having to record this interview. A lot of people use to get it wrong. For me, if I can make notes on it, then I am much better in two or three days. I was never so glad when people started recording interviews. I have always been impressed with the people that were recording it because they always get it right.

Bev: You mentioned that you thought there was more interest now. Do you think social media added to that?

DG: Oh yes. When I go on my Facebook account, I can’t answer all the questions because there are so many of them at once. It lets me know that as far as the ability to communicate, I think you guys are the ones that make it easier on us. You have made it to where someone can ask the question and that question is answered 500 times. That pleases me a lot because I can’t do all those interviews. Our parents worked and we understood what a dollar was and we had to work in order to get it. That made that nine year period we had, the strongest period anyone could have. It was like working towards the final goal and those goals are being represented today I hope, by me and the rest of the guys

Bev: Are you recording or writing anything new?

DG: We are writing all the time. We have about seven or eight songs in the can. We have a bunch of things. I just finished mixing some things from England and some recorded stuff from Paris that we did in the original band and boy, it puts you back when I am sitting in there knowing I am the only one left out here doing music from the original band.

Bev: When you listen to that, what are the feelings you get? It was so amazing back then.

DG: I don’t want to go back because if you go back, you get sad. So many sad things have happened to everyone. There was a lot of sadness before we ever got to be such a popular band. We were junior high school and high school friends and we were losing friends and band members. It honestly got to where it drew us closer. I just remember everyone caring. Do I want to go back? No, let’s go on and create another step in our lives.

Bev: What is going to be next?

DG: We were in a movie called “Angel Camouflage” where we sang a Run DMC song; that’s tricky. That’s pretty unique in itself because we weren’t Marshall Tucker in the movie, we were someone else. The movie will probably come out next year. As far as recording, we are continuously recording down here. That is what you do when you come home. Also, we are getting ready to go entertain the troops in the next month or so.

Bev: Doug I am sure we could go on forever, I really enjoyed this time visiting and I know I am not alone in looking forward to all the new stuff to come. Thank you for taking time to visit with me.

DG: Bev, if I can do anything or you need anything, you just let me know. I have also enjoyed chatting and visiting with you as well.

For more information on Doug Gray please visit

INTERVIEW: Charlie Daniels Operation Yellow Ribbon

Operation Yellow Ribbon is a daylong symposium sponsored by Lipscomb University and featuring experts from the Center for Deployment Psychology (CPD), Challenge America, Not Alone and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The day was filled with clinical as well as non-clinical approaches to working with veterans and developing a better understanding of this unique population. Another focus of the symposium is to bring together university administrators, certifying officials and others who work with student-veterans to discuss best approaches in creating veteran-friendly campuses as thousands of veterans across the country are enrolling in universities through the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Lipscomb’s Yellow Ribbon Program offers eligible Post 9/11 GI Bill veterans and their family members an undergraduate degree tuition-free or a graduate degree tuition-free or at a greatly reduced tuition rate.
Capping off the day’s events, General Tommy Franks (Ret.) addressed attendees at Lipscomb’s Allen Arena as well as musical appearances by Charlie Daniels, Wynonna, Montgomery Gentry and The Grascals.

“Our goal is to provide an informative day for those who work with veterans at universities across the country to help equip them with knowledge and expertise to make their campuses more accessible and friendly for veterans. By partnering with the Center for Deployment Psychology we want to help educate university counseling teams so they can offer programs that adequately serve our veterans as they reintegrate home and adjust to university life,” said David K. Hughes, Lipscomb University assistant dean of students and director of the Yellow Ribbon Program.

I spoke with Charlie Daniel prior to his participation in Operation Yellow Ribbon and his involvement and personal endeavors for our military men and women.

Daniels: I am honored to be a part of this. I’m honored to be a part of anything that honors the troops, especially something like this that does it in a practical way. Something you don’t think about is educating and providing tuitions for our veterans, our people in service. A lot of times they go to war, they had plans of something they wanted to do for the rest of the lives when they get out of the military. Sometimes they receive an injury that will prevent them from being able to do that so they have a big change of plans. They are physically no longer able to do what they intended to do. It has to be a very confusing time. To have someone come along and say “hey, come get an education at a great university, let’s start there. You can’t do what you wanted to do so let’s prepare you for something you’ll like and can do.” That’s a big deal, a huge thing in someone’s life. We owe these people so much. When you go into harm’s way and do what these people do defending our country; everyone that goes does it for that reason. They’re not there for fun, there’s nothing entertaining about it. They go because they want to defend their country; they want to be part of something great. They’re doing that for us and they deserve our support. I am always glad to do anything that helps them out in some way.

BEV: Last year was very touching, not only for everyone that was up on stage but sitting out in the audience surrounded by all the wives and families. There were a lot of tears in that audience. What was one of the things you remember most from last year?

DANIELS: I remember two things I am going to mention. I remember the spirit of what you are talking about, to be in a hall full of people that were all there to honor the troops. 100% of the people that were there were there for that specific reason, to say thank you to the people that serve in our military. The other thing I remember is how surprised I was by what a standup comedian General Tommy Franks was. He was hilarious. I never heard him speak like that but he was a very funny man. He is coming back this year and he probably has some new material. I think he is worth the price of the ticket, just to see him.

BEV: Was that the first time you had met him?

DANIELS: No, I had met General Franks when he was in Tampa the same time I was. He came by and we went and played some songs for some troops that were there. I took my guitar and entertained them for a little while. He was just very down to earth, an old southern boy. He is 100% American soldier and a pleasure to be around.

BEV: If they asked you to be the spokesperson, what would be the one thing you would say to any of the veterans, anyone out there? Give me one piece of advice to encourage them to be involved with this?

DANIELS: I don’t think you have to impress the importance of this on anyone that has served. I think anybody that has served recognizes there are very special needs of people coming out of the military, especially the ones that have been wounded in one way or another. There are people that planned on going to school when they got out of the military but can’t afford it now. This is very important; it is a life changing thing, something that deals with people’s lives, their quality of life. To the regular citizens, I would say, you will never be doing the wrong thing by helping a veteran out. If the same kind of people that showed up last year would show up this year, I would be a happy man. I felt like a part of everything going on, not just what was going on on the stage, but what was going on in the audience. Everyone was in the same frame of mind, it was a special night to honor some special people and do some good for them. I say, let’s just do it again.

For more information about Lipscomb's Yellow Ribbon educational program that provides veterans a tuition-free college education click here.

INTERVIEW: Margaret Durante

With the release of her four-song digital-only “Maybe Tonight EP,” much of the music world is getting its first glimpse of one of country music’s most exciting young voices, Margaret Durante. The title track from the EP is a contagiously upbeat look at new love at its flirty and romantic best. It is also her new single and a great introduction to Margaret, whose world-class pipes and dynamic stage presence have been wowing audiences since she was a young girl.

Margaret and I sat in the studio on Music Row recently to visit about the release, what it took to get where she is and where she hopes to go from here.

Bev: Do you know when you realized that you wanted to be in the music business and how old you were when you first performed in public?

MD: I started singing at a very young age. My parents noticed that I was singing before I was talking. I was really intent on listening to music. My favorites were “Little Mermaid” and “Fine Young Cannibals”. (What a combination!) I would make them play it all the time and sing along with it. Because of their encouragement, it made me want to continue to perform for people. My love for singing and music evolved because they were always supporting me. At sixteen, I was introduced to the Bruce Springsteen cover band called The B Street Band. They have been together for thirty-five years and let me do my own set before they played. The songs I performed consisted of Mary Chapin Carpenter, Melissa Etheridge, Shania Twain, and Linda Ronstadt, all these artists that I have enjoyed covering. It got to the point that we became such good friends that I started writing my own music. They would learn it and they were backing me and I got to perform these original songs before a live audience. I caught the bug and became addicted to performing live.

Bev: How old were you at that point?

MD: It was before I left to go to college; probably about seventeen or eighteen. While I was attending college I went to clubs in South Carolina and I traveled back to the Jersey Shore whenever I could to perform. I was studying music and music management, I knew wanted to work in the music industry ideally as a performer. That was all I really wanted to do. Through six degrees of separation, I was heard by Tommy Mottola, who invited me to visit him in his office to sing some of the songs I had written and I made a fan out of him. I always wanted to sing country, as that is where my heart was. He introduced me to James Stroud. Tommy is in the pop world and worked with Laura Stroud when she was with A & R at Sony. He also worked with the Dixie Chic’s on the Fly album. After meeting James, we just totally hit it off. He loved my music and I loved working with him. It was an honor to work with him. I have been recording all my music with him ever since.

Bev: Have you ever thought of revisiting some of your first songs that you have written? Perhaps tweak and rewrite some of them?

MD: I have given some thought to that actually. The first song I ever wrote was called “One Way Love”. Being totally biased, my parents still love that first song I wrote. There is a lot of sentimental value attributed to that song. I wrote the songs when I was at Clemson, by driving in my jeep around campus holding a hand held recorder. I lived in a sorority hall where it is very noisy. But all my friends knew this is what I wanted to do, it was no mystery to any them and they were all so supportive of me. Looking back I think it is sort of funny that that is how I had to craft my first song. Then I came to Nashville where there are places to write like houses on Music Row, and people whose job it is to help you. It has helped me to evolve as an artist and as a writer.

Bev: What has been your best writing experience?

MD: I have had a lot of those memorable writing experiences. The first song I ever wrote was with Stephanie Smith and Shelly Fairchild. It is going to be on the full album which should come out later this year and the song is called “If Love Will Let Me”. I think what makes it so magical is that it was the first time I had ever met them. I had heard their music and been fans of theirs before we met. It was the first time I had ever written with anyone who had already accomplished so much in their careers of music. It was very humbling. The friendship that came out of it, the song that came out of it, the sense of pride that I felt after writing it, was all an incredible experience. And then, there is “Like Tonight”, where one afternoon of light hearted fun, a natural process where we all just tapped into that place where you are in the beginning of a relationship where you are falling in love, where everything is perfect. The song just came together. Then there are the times where you struggle through it and it emulates the pain you are writing about. “Paper Chains” took a few times to hammer out. I think it was because it was about such a distinct pain that I was going through. I wrote it with Connie Harrington and neither of us wanted to just settle. There were so many things we wanted to fine tune. The whole thing is a metaphor about how this guy behaves like a child. We use paper chains because it is a child’s arts and crafts. Every lie he tells is one more link in this paper chain. Once we finished it, it was very therapeutic to get it off my chest.

Bev: Are you the type of writer that has a methodical way of writing?

MD: I usually have a lyrical idea or a melody in mind before I start. But because I co-write all the time, it is usually one or the other. We usually work together to find that marriage between the two.

Bev: Do you play any instruments?

MD: I play the guitar. I started playing after moving to Nashville. I have been playing about three years. I took piano early on. But nothing other than singing has clicked with me as much as guitar. I play guitar when I perform.

Bev: You mentioned melody earlier. Do you imagine a guitar playing or your voice when you write?

MD: The melody and my voice because I have been singing my whole life. I really struggled when I first started writing with people to make the chord structures with the song.

Bev: I know you have you been busy on the road doing radio tours, what is one of the most memorable things that has happened to you on the road?

MD: One of the most memorable experiences was when I played WYCD in Detroit for their Ten Man Jam. It was the first time I played on a big stage with other artists, like Chris Young and Gretchen Wilson, people I have listened to and admire. There were thousands of people in the audience. This is how you reach people.

Bev: After you have performed and you talk with the fans, what stands out in your mind as to what they are saying about you?

MD: When I was playing at the St. Jude’s show in Charleston, at a place called The Wind Jammer, I was taken by surprise at a meet and greet afterward when a listener came up and mentioned how much she loved “Paper Chains”, a song I had not released yet. They were so touched by it that they went and listened to other music. It showed me in that one comment the power of music. Everything you put out there is another way to communicate with your audience. She took it upon herself to find out more about me. There was something she related to. I felt like I had a friend in the audience.

Bev: Do you enjoy contributing to the social media of Facebook and Twitter etc?

MD: I enjoy it. Especially now that I have my iPhone. It is like second nature. It does not scare me. I think it is a great way to learn about an artist’s personality. Maybe their music will mean more to you because you know a little bit more about where they are coming from as you are getting exposed to that side of their life. I think it is great and something the artists should take advantage of.

Bev: Do you think there is a line that should be drawn as to how much information is too much information?

MD: Twitter, to me, is an opportunity for me to talk to my listeners and my followers about everyday life. I do not want them to feel like I am soliciting them for help every time I Tweet. I want them to feel like I am checking in. Sometimes I vent on Twitter. Sometimes I tell them about someone in my family having a birthday. Twitter can sometimes make or break the fans’ perception of that artist. If you like someone’s music, but their personality stinks, does that mean that you cannot like their music? That is for the listener to decide for themselves now. And the social media contributes to that.

Bev: Just this morning the four song digital EP was released? Where were you when you heard it, what was your response, how did it feel?

MD: Actually my little sister texted me last night about two minutes after midnight. She said excitedly, “I just bought you new EP!” I said she beat me to it. She is the first one that I know of that officially purchased it on ITunes. As far as how I feel, it is over whelming. It is really fun for me to be able to release multiple songs at once because I feel like any person that you meet when you are learning about their personality, there is not just one note, there are dynamics to a personality. And I feel that in getting to know an artist, you want to hear more than one song. And I think this EP is a great way for me to give listeners an idea of what is to come on the full album.

Bev: How did you or management decide to release using The Boot instead of another avenue?

MD: The Boot has been following my music and have been fans as well as supportive of what I have been doing. They wanted to feature the video and since they have so many people who follow their site, I felt like it was a great opportunity. When you go to The Boot clearly you want to learn more of the genre’s you enjoy listening to.

Bev: How much involvement and participation do you still have in the creative part of your music career?

MD: Being involved with Stroudavarious I am in a very wonderful and unique position. It is a very tight family here. They respect me. They let me have my artistic and creative vision, but I respect them as well. I am glad that I have someone to filter my ideas who will work with me to make these ideas a reality. I do not feel like my creativity is stifled in any way. Quite the opposite, they are motivators. It is a big happy family. They are very supportive and are true believers not only in what I am doing but in what we are doing. It is a joint effort, a big collaboration.

Bev: So, what is next? What else do we have to look forward to?

MD: The full album comes out later this year. That is what this four song EP is meant to do; create anticipation for the album and to introduce myself to my listeners. I would call it a “getting to know you EP”. Also, I am going to start touring. Not just radio tours. I want to connect with my audience. I am anxious to get out there and start doing some live shows.

Bev: Do you have anything set up yet as far as who you might be traveling with as part of the opening act?

MD: Nothing officially is set up as yet. We are working on that.

Bev: Talk about the video a little bit. Talk about making it; was it the first video you have ever done?

MD: It was the third video. I did a video with Universal Republic called “Use Somebody” which is a cover of The Kings of Leon and I also did one for “Mississippi’s Crying” that I co-produced with my friend Ben Charles. We had a crew of five people, but it is beautiful! It was really fun because I got to write the story with Ben and to hold the auditions for the casting. It was a very different experience for me. It was very fun to do. I feel like listeners want to see how an artist would visually interpret this. I felt like I had to do it for “Mississippi’s Crying”. “Maybe Tonight” was a two day video shoot downtown Nashville. We were fortunate in that the weather was beautiful. The whole premise is that I am a cupcake vendor driving around the city in my school bus, which is my bakery on wheels. I am engaging with kids hop scotching, old couples and young couples. Everyone is outdoors enjoying the warm weather. It is supposed to be about spring or summer love feeling. Kristen Barlowe is the director of the video. She wrote this great treatment and then I came back and said I wanted to incorporate dancing into the video like in “Five Hundred Days of Summer” when he finally got Zooey Deschanel and he is on his way to work and he just busts out dancing with everyone. And he makes them all start dancing with him. It is totally unrealistic, but you understand what they are trying to achieve by having that in there. So we have that sort of flash mob thing going on in the music .video. I want to make people feel good and I think that video does that.

Bev: If you could only send out one message what would you want to make sure to let fans and listeners know?

MD: At this point I just want to direct people to the music, the video, and to find me on Facebook. I love interacting with fans.

Bev: Is there any part of the business, such as the interviews, that you are uncomfortable with?

MD: No, I think it is totally part of it. It is why you sing, why you perform. You want to reach out to people. It is just another way of communicating. Here is your opportunity to say what you want. By Nashville standards, my being here three and a half years, I am considered a new artist. But so far, there is no aspect of the business that I do not like. The one thing that makes a radio tour hard is the conference room performances. When I perform for the program directors in the conference rooms, they are always happy to welcome new artists. They are excited to get that exclusive sneak peek if you will. I guess it is the challenge of transforming the conference room setting into performance space.

Bev: What about bloopers? Have you had any onstage times when something has gone wrong?

MD: I do have some dumb blonde moments when I forget to plug in my guitar. In Detroit at the Ten Man Jam I was talking about earlier, I did not plug in the guitar. I was like “There is no sound! Ha ha”. Trailer Choir was playing with me on stage and Chris Young and these are my peers and I am going “Why isn’t my guitar working?” How many times have I plugged my guitar in and played my acoustic on stage? Plenty! I should know to do that. In Wichita I played at a birthday bash. It was in the same sort of stadium setting. My tuner battery was dead and I was so out of tune. I seem to have little mechanical difficulties here and there.

Bev: Margaret, I think you have a great career ahead of you, the current single is great and you have a wonderful personality. I look forward to seeing you again.

MD: Thank you so much, it was wonderful to visit with you!

For more information on Margaret Durante visit

ARTICLE:The Twelfth Annual Eco-Energy Best Cellars Dinner

The Twelfth Annual Eco-Energy Best Cellars Dinner was presented on Monday, April 25, 2011 at the Hutton Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. The event benefits the T.J. Martell Foundation’s Frances W. Preston Labs at Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center.

The Best Cellars Dinner is one of the Foundation’s signature events that is known for pairing Best Sellers (country music’s top selling artists and other celebrities) with Best Cellars (Nashville’s top wine collectors) plus an extraordinary gourmet meal prepared by a guest chef. The event has raised more than $1.5 million for the mission of funding ground-breaking cancer research.

Blake Shelton poses with Kellie Pickler
 The Nashville Best Cellars Dinner welcomed a special group of celebrities that attend the dinner each year. This year’s celebrities included: Lisa and Clint Black, Kix Brooks, Jonathan Cain (Journey),Big Kenny, Martina McBride, Kellie Pickler, Amy Grant, Blake Shelton, Phillip Sweet, Karen Fairchild and Jimi Westbrook of Little Big Town and more.

The Nashville Best Cellars Wine Hosts play a special role in the dinner by providing premier wine from their personal wine cellars to share at their tables.

Some of the wines poured included a 66 Haut Brion, 82 Pichon Lalande, an 89 Margaux, an 82 Mouton, a 95 d’Yquem and a 97 Montrachet and many more of the greatest world class wines.

2011 Best Cellars Wine Hosts included: Mary and Sam Beall, Larry and Jamie Beckwith, Tom Black, Jim Clendenen, Chantel and John Esposito, Joe and Patricia Harbison, Billy Ray and Nancy Hearn, Jeff Hopmayer, Irv Lingo, Eliza Kraft Olander, Keith and Deby Pitts and Bill Shea

Additional photos of the event can be viewed at:  

Interview: Burns & Poe SECOND CHANCE

Keith Burns and Michelle Poe are one of the fast rising duo’s to become a household name in Country music. They were recently named Music Row Magazine 2010’s “Independent Artist Of The Year”; the award is given to the independent artist with the most spins on Music Row stations over the course of the year.

They have a new single about to be released along with a new video and are excited about what the future holds for them. I recently spent time visiting with them about the new song and some of the stories that go along with their ever blossoming career.

Bev: “Second Chance” is your next single to be released to radio. Tell me about the background of the writing, the story behind the song.

Michelle: Actually I had never written with this writer before, his name is Tom Stipe. It was Keith, Tom and I on this writing appointment. The song, when we finished it, we knew it was good but I wasn’t sure it was “single” worthy. When we got in the studio, we decided to change the tempo, brought it up and then we knew it was good enough. We got a lot of compliments on it, a lot of radio people saying that they hoped it would be a single. We decided to release it and shot the video last week so they got their wish. Hopefully it is a success.

Bev: How much emphasis do you guys put on reaction of radio and fans as well as the industry when you are not really sure what direction you are going to go with a song?

Keith: A lot, and honestly, I put more weight on it when we do it live, when we go out and perform a song live, how well it goes over, how well the people like it. During Country Radio Seminar (CRS) week, a lot of people told us they were excited about this song for radio. They were saying “this is really cool, there’s nothing out there like it”. The song is basically a conversation set to music. It’s Michelle and I having a conversation. It’s like listeners are eaves dropping, listening in on our conversation which is really cool.

Bev: The video for this was shot recently. How much input did you have on the concept for the video and what the story line was going to be?

Michelle: Oh yes, we sat down and had a meeting. They brought the treatment to the table and we sort of tweaked it and worked on our own individual opinions of what it should be. They were really great working with us and with what we wanted the video to do. We can’t wait to see even the rough of it. We’re all excited to see how the story plays out.

Keith: The song sort of dictated two different ways to go with this video because it is a story in itself. The song is a “life time” movie; it could be on the Life Time channel. We basically just followed the story line of the song; we veered off of it a little bit and gave it a nice little twist. Like Michelle said, we’re excited; I think it’s going to be very romantic. It’s shot at a great location so we’re excited.

Michelle: They used a really beautiful model for my part so I am really excited about that.

Bev: What part of making the video was the most fun for you?

Michelle: This time I actually enjoyed watching the actors act. The other video that we did was a performance video, just all about Keith and me on stage. This time the actors are acting out what the story line is. It was really cool. It was like being on the set of a movie for me. That’s the part I enjoyed the most. Plus, they weren’t hard to look at, neither one of them.

Bev: Let’s talk about your recent award for Independent Artist for the Year. Can you share what your reaction was? You have worked so hard and everyone has goals and always reaching for the next step, was this something you could ever anticipate?

Michelle: It was definitely a great kick start to 2011 to have that award under our belt. That means radio is playing our music and people are requesting it. The award is based on spins so it truly is about how many times they have played our song “How Long Is Long Enough”. We’re proud but we’re humbled and were just excited to be recognized.

Bev: What is the “apple” you’re reaching for? Do you have short term or long term goals? How do you base your steps?

Keith: We don’t sit down and go “hey, we want to be here” but obviously we would like to get this next thing going and get it up the charts. We haven’t had a top 40 single on Billboard yet. We’ve had three top 20s on the Music Row chart. I think our next goal is to get to that next level with the mainstream stations and maybe get nominated for an award or something. We need to get our music out there and maybe get to walk the red carpet at the CMAs where we can get a little more exposure and get some more people that know Burns & Poe.

Michelle: Having a really high quality video to show on GAC and CMT will really give us a boost nationally too, and we hope this next video will do that.

Keith: Baby steps for us. If you ask Taylor Swift or Tim McGraw, somebody like that the same question, they would say “it would be nice to sell three million records out of the box” but for us it would be nice to…(Keith pauses, laughs and turns to Michelle)

Michelle: Sell a T-shirt…

Keith: You want to buy one? (laughter)

Bev: What has been the hardest part for you both transitioning into a duo after having solo careers and working within the industry for so long.

Michelle: In my opinion, I think it is better, more pros than cons. You share the spotlight, you share the responsibilities. Keith is fun to be around and musically he writes great songs and he is a business minded motivator. It’s like what one person’s weakness is, the other person makes up for it. We can play off each other on stage, it’s less pressure, I love being in a duo. There are no negatives for me except for Keith’s opinion which… (she says tongue in cheek_

Keith: doesn’t matter…it doesn’t matter now and never will. I wear the pants in the duo but she picks them out. (Laughter)

Bev: Speaking of the humor and the banter between you two, you have been referred to as the “Sonny and Cher of Music Row”. Was that a publicity statement or something someone said and it stuck?

Keith: I think people just started doing that because of our live show. People would say “you’re just like Sonny and Cher but country”…

Michelle: So we added “I’ve Got You Babe” to our cover songs that we use.

Keith: We changed the words up a little bit because it was all lovey dovey and talking about “I got you to hold my hand”, so Michelle and I rewrote that ending.

Bev: What is one of the funniest things that has happened to you guys? What kind of a blooper really stands out?

Keith: Funny to them is daily to us…daily. It’s like we are in one big movie and I keep waiting for somebody to come out from behind the bush with a camera going “You’ve been punked!”.

Bev: Looking at the CD, which I have in my hand, explain the concept behind having two CDs, the duet side and the other. How did you come up with that?

Michelle: On the first one, we just wanted to showcase ourselves as individuals in songs that we loved and felt the closest too and we wanted one that brought us both together and made us a true duet. It was Keith’s idea to have the two separate CDs which I thought was a really good idea at a time when most people are making six song CDs. You are really getting your money’s worth when you buy this record and you’re getting the bonus track. It’s a concept that is not out there and we wanted to be creative and different.

Bev: When you choose songs for duets, do you have a criteria that you look for?

Keith: No, not really. We are very fortunate that when we sit down to write or sit down to listen to a song for Burns & Poe, it can be a duet; it can be a female lead vocal or a male lead vocal. It can be a story song from a third party that we both sing two part harmony all the way through. If we like the song or we are writing it, we just make it ours…

Michelle: We go back and forth and say “you sing this one” and “no, you sing it”…

Keith: …no you sing it.

Bev: Do you ever record both versions; one where Keith sings it first and then Michelle sings lead and then you decide which version you like better?

Michelle: Yes, we have done that too.

Keith: and it is always her version. You have male/female, which version we going with? Female…alright… (laughter)

Bev: Fans want to know where you will be next and how to stay in touch with what you are doing, where can they find you?

Keith: The new album is coming out May 10th, in stores, online, iTunes, etc. Please come out and support our live shows. We are really booking a lot of live shows. Also, check out our website. Facebook has really become our friend too, join us so when we get to your town to do a show, we will already know you.

Bev: As always, it has been really great talking to both of you and I am sure I will run into you again soon. Thank you so much for sharing and making the great music you do.

For more information on Burns and Poe please visit

transcribed by Pam Stadel

ARTICLE: Music Row Road Race with Jo Dee Messina

On Saturday April 9th and the third year in a row Jo Dee Messina joined 1000's of runners in a 5K road race on Music Row in Nashville. The event took place at The Music Row Road Race started and finished at the Walk of Fame Park (across the street from the County Music Hall of Fame) which is located at the corner of Demonbreun and Fifth Avenue and was held to raise awareness and money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Along with the 5K was also a one mile fun run for children and families to participate in.

Winners of the race were divided by age divisions and awarded plaques designed by patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Divisions receiving awards included Overall male and female trophy’s for first through third place, a Masters (40+) top three male and female and top three male and female in each age group.

Saturday evening Messina entertained participants in a concert at the Wildhorse Saloon where she brought an intimate evening of music along open questions, song requests and much laughter. The stage was a replica of her home studio, including sofas, soft lighting and the feeling of joining her for a personal show. Opening the show was The Lunabelles who sing sisterly-three-part harmonies with a mixture of a Bluegrass and down home country sound.

Jo Dee Messina has scored nine No. 1 singles and three No. 1 albums, has been honored by the Academy of Country Music Awards, the Grammy’s, and the Country Music Association. She currently has a trilogy of albums out called Unmistakable: Love, Unmistakable: Drive and Unmistakable: Inspiration.

“This is the third year St. Jude and I have teamed up for the 5K here in Nashville," Messina said. "I have been thrilled with the turnout and fundraising done by the runners in the past and am confident this year will be no exception. I am working to set up a St Jude 5K tour so that we can let runners all over help to raise money for St Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the amazing things they do.”

At one point during the evening Messina asked The West Point Glee Club to come on stage and perform a touching song dedicated to the service men and women of our country. The West Point Glee Club is a sixty-voice mixed chorus whose members serve as musical ambassadors for West Point and rank among our nation's most prestigious college choirs.

For more information on how you can help St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital visit

To view the photos of the Music Row Road Race visit


Bluegrass music is a unique art form that is as much about feel and instinct as it is technique. Blending proficiency and passion into a musically intoxicating package, The Roys make their debut with LONESOME WHISTLE (Rural Rhythm Records), a spirited set that showcases the siblings’ stellar vocals, taut musicianship and enviable songwriting skills.

I had an opportunity to visit with Elaine (1/2 of The Roys duo) and visit with her about the new project as well as some of the other exciting things happening for them.

Bev: Congratulations on winning the Inspirational Country Music(ICM) "Duo of the Year" for the second year in a row, such an honor. In your own words, describe how the genre of "International Christian Music", "Country" or "Bluegrass" makes a difference on your audience or how you choose songs.
Elaine: We always try to cut good material. Something that touches us or speaks to us. Usually by doing it that way, from the heart, it comes across to the audience that we are truly being genuine. We never think of what genre is this going to fit better. We let the song speak for itself. We always believe that if we sing from the heart and sing about what we hold true the audience will get it. It hasn't let us down yet.
Bev: Your current single, is “Coal Minin' Man" and released a week ago, for those who have heard it what has been the overall reaction?

Elaine: The reaction has been great. Everyone is commenting on how great our harmonies are and what a great message the song has. We wanted to pay tribute to those hard working folks. The label felt this was the first single off the album and it's been doing really really good for us.

Bev: What are your personal feelings towards the lyrics?

Elaine: I think the lyrics tell the story of the life of a coal miner in a positive light. All too often we hear the downside of the industry. We wanted to pay respect to their life's calling.

Bev: Your bio states that Bluegrass music is a unique art form that is as much about feel and instinct as it is technique. Where does the "feel and instinct" come from each of you?

Elaine: We grew up on Bluegrass and Traditional County Music and that is where our hearts are. We have been singing this type of music our whole lives. This feels like coming home for us. We are just writing and singing the music that we love and I think it really comes through on this album.

Bev: The "Coal Minin' Man" video was shot in Hazard, KY, how did the location get chosen and how much input did you have in the video?

Elaine: One of our friends on Facebook mentioned how she loved our song and that she had family members in the coal mining industry. Our management contacted her and then contacted the Teco Company in Hazard, KY and they said yes!! There was no script for the video. Once we got on location, Paul Jackson, the manager, brought us on the site to scope out the locations. The video director, Marcel, saw the locations he loved, we went from there. We wanted the miners to be the real focus of the video and I think we did that.

Bev: What was the best part of shooting this video?

Elaine: Meeting all the miners and seeing what they do everyday for all of us. We take for granted what they do, but seeing it up close really put a different light on it. They are very hard working men and women and we could feel how they loved what they did. It's their calling just like ours is music!

Bev: What was the worst part of shooting this video?

Elaine: There really wasn't anything that was bad about shooting the video. It did rain just a little bit and we were worried about our instruments getting wet; but other than that it was a perfect day!

Bev: You wrote the title track to LONESOME WHISTLE in two short hours while on the road in Maine one night. "The story is about a couple whose lives revolve around a train. The train carries him off to war, she sits and waits for the train to bring him back home - and in the end, the train does bring him home on his last ride." What was the inspiration behind the song?

Elaine: We had a title that we had written down a few months before. We were talking about the album and I told Lee that we needed to write something up-tempo and that is how it started. Though we didn't use the original title that we had, we just kept going back to a couple and their unending love. The train came about because when we lived in Coal Branch, New Brunswick, Canada and there was a train that ran right through the little town we grew up in. We head that lonesome whistle everyday, twice a day!!

Bev: This project is a culmination of a dream that began for each of you during childhood; when you were young, how did you envision the dream?

Elaine: Our dreams were very different than how our journey has unfolded. When you start out on your way to live out your dreams you think, this will happen if I do this, but sometimes that just doesn't happen. You can't plan for all the twists and turns that you run into on your journey. Sometimes it's been really hard to accept that this or that hasn't happened in such a way. What I know today is that I have no control over my destiny. God has a plan for our lives and we are going where he leads. I wouldn't change a thing because it has made me the person I am today. We appreciate everything that comes our way because we've worked hard and I don't think we would have been so appreciative when we first started out. It just comes with growing up!!

Bev: What is the craziest thing that has happened that you never could have envisioned?

Elaine: I think everything that has come our way, we could not have envisioned. Like meeting President George W. Bush, winning two ICM Vocal Duo awards, going to Bogotá, Columbia with Compassion International and meeting our two sponsored children. This list goes on and on. It's all been incredible!!

Bev: What dreams do you still have that you are reaching for?

Elaine: Singing on the Grand Ole Opry!!! That has been a life long dream of ours. There are so many others but that one is on the top of the list for me!!

Bev: I know you play guitar and Lee plays drums, bass and mandolin. What other instruments do you play?

Elaine: I only play the guitar. Lee got all the talent in the family lol!!

Bev: Which instrument is your favorite?

Elaine: I love all instruments when they are played well. I love the fiddle because our Grandma LeBlanc played it for us. I also love the dobro.

Bev: What would you like to learn to play and who would you like to teach you?

Elaine: I would love to learn to play the fiddle. I wish my Grandma LeBlanc could teach me because she sure played it so good!

Bev: You joined the ever growing "The Boot Campaign” this year supporting our military when they come home, and you also were involved in the Compassion International mission trip to Bogotá, Columbia, South America as well as being spokesmen for Compassion International and are sponsoring 2 children, what criteria do you have when asked to be a part of charity work?

Elaine: We love to give back. We feel so blessed to be able to be in the music industry and we really feel strongly about helping out where we can. If we believe in the cause or charity and they ask us to help, we love to do our little part. If what we do helps one person then it was all worth it!!

Bev: Is there any charity that is particularly close to your heart and why?

Elaine: We love St. Jude because of all the children that they help. Compassion International is very dear to our hearts too. Going to Bogotá, Columbia and seeing the extreme poverty that people live in really opened our eyes. Also learning that when you sponsor a child through Compassion that the $38.00 a month is not the most important thing. Writing letters to your child is the most important thing. Visiting homes and seeing where the children had their sponsors letters hanging on the wall like a piece of art was life changing. They live for those letters. Who knew that writing a letter to your sponsored child could change his or her life? Amazing!!

Bev: With the release of the current project, what feelings are each of you experiencing?

Elaine: Excitement, excitement, excitement. This is our first release on a label other than our own and it feels good. To be a part of such a great team and to know how hard they are working to make this happen is incredible. I can't wait for everyone to hear it.

Bev: As social media has taken over and video outlets such as YouTube are prevalent sources of interaction with fans, do you have a favorite or do you have any you particularly do not want to participate in?

Elaine: I really like Facebook. To communicate with your fans and have them react to your post immediately is great. I love reading all their comments to us!! We have the best fans!!

Bev: I have enjoyed the visit with you and appreciate you sharing your experiences and everything you have going on with The Roys; I always love to see you two!

Elaine: Thank you, you are always so wonderful to us and we appreciate all you do!

For more information on The Roys visit where you can keep up with what they are doing and visit their Digital Rodeo, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace etc.

SESAC Showcases at Tin Pan South

SESAC Showcases at Tin Pan South

SESAC hosted a special night of music during NSAI’s “19th Annual Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival” at Nashville’s Listening Room Cafe showcasing the amazing talents of affiliates as Cary Barlowe, Rob Hatch, Jon Stone and Victoria Shaw.
A plethora of other SESAC affiliates such as Elizabeth Cook, Jim Lauderdale, Jerry Salley, Blaine Larsen, Roxie Dean Brice Long and Amanda & Kim Williams performed at various venues around town during the annual music festival.

(L-R) Jon Stone, Victoria Shaw, SESAC's Tim Fink, Rob Hatch, SESAC's Amy Beth Hale and Shannan Hatch, Cary Barlowe

Photo: Bev Moser