Friday, December 16, 2011

Best Country Albums of 2011

As the year winds down, we'll be taking time off to spend with family and to reflect on the year that's passed. One of our great joys this year was being able to share with you some of our favorite new indie Country artists. So here's our list of best Country Albums of 2011, including many of our new friends. (The list is alphabetical, not ranked.)

Hayes Carll: KMAG YoYo
Beautifully sloppy underground Country.
Chicken Tractor Deluxe: Nightclub Jacks & Undertakers
Great retro charm.
Casey Donahew Band: Double Wide Dream
A double dose of Texas road house energy.
Michael Donner & Southern Renaissance: No Better Time
Poetic and beautifully arranged debut with punches of guitar flurry.
Family Reunion: Family Album
What can we say? We made it, we like it!
The Far West: The Far West
Good old fashioned cry in your beer country.
Merle Haggard: Working in Tennessee
Still working, still legendary.
Robert Earl Keen: Ready for Confetti
The party never ends for the seminal Texas songwriter.
Toby Keith: Clancy's Tavern
Another great sing along (drink along) collection from Toby.
Miranda Lambert: Four the Record
Her amazing hit streak continues.
Martina McBride: Eleven
Her most heartfelt album to date.
Brad Paisly: This Is Country Music
This is great guitar work, sly humor, and an all star musical guest list.
Steve Parry: The Fight Left in Me
Real cowboy songs that pack emotional punch.
Kelly Thomas & The Fabulous Pickups: Fly
An anthem to dysfuntional relationships.

Merry Christmas to all y'all! See you in 2012!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Toby Keith promises kids with cancer, "I Won't Let You Down"

Toby Keith once sang about putting an extra $20 in the plate at church in his song, "My List." Well Toby is a man of his word - and then some. Through his Toby Keith Foundation, he is helping to raise 8.7 million dollars for the OK Kids Korral in Oklahoma City. The Center will provide a home for pediatric cancer patients and their families while they are receiving treatment at The Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center, the Peggy and Charles Stephenson Cancer Center and other nearby facilities. Toby was inspired to take action after a friend's (and former bandmate) child died from cancer. The plans and designs were approved Wednesday by the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority. Construction on the 25,000-square-foot, two-story building should begin this spring and be complete in late 2013. Congratulations to Toby and his foundation for their efforts. Toby may not be "As Good As I Once Was," in some areas, but his heart is better than ever!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Album of the Week: Fly by Kelly Thomas & the Fabulous Pickups

Fly by Kelly Thomas & the Fabulous Pickups is an anthem to dysfunctional relationships. In the album's first track, "Hard Winter," Kelly introduces us to the hard-hearted object of her affections. In "Fly" Kelly urges her would be lover to take a chance on her, "you can see love as a freedom, or you might see a cage...I wanna fly high above my fears." She sweetens the offer in the sultry "Enough:" "you can look, you can touch, you can love baby, but not too much." The relationship moves from the come and go casualness of "Hello Goodbye," to the painful self-awareness of "Worse for the Wear,"and inevitably ends up with "Wish You Bad." As with all dysfunctional relationships, the initial breakup doesn't take, so Kelly dives once more into the troubled waters of her love. With several more songs that explore the explosive nature of her affair. The album reaches resolution with the beautifully tender, "High Time," where she is finally able to say goodbye for good ("you love to swim in the swill, but I love you still though I can't stand to see you this way. So I'm cutting the line, because you can't say goodbye to the booze and the pills and the pain.") Only after all ties are severed is Kelly's character able to fly away to her own freedom. In the triumphant "Fearless," Kelly embraces her new found freedom with gusto.Like someone who's been through Hell and has nothing left to fear she sets off to start a new chapter in her life. The album ends in the soothing emotional coda, "As I Abide." It's a gentle, acoustic intrumental; and perhpaps a fitting end to the story as sometimes the only way to get over a bad relationship is to stop talking (and thinking) about it.
Along this musical journey Kelly uses her vocal and emotional range to really bring the story to life. "Fly" is reminiscent of Roseanne Cash's "The Seven Year Ache." She conjures the sultriness of Elannah Myles for the tempting, "Enough." She also brings the intimacy of Margo Timmins (of Cowoby Junkies) to several songs including "Hello Goodbye." The Fabulous Pickups add to the depth of this album by changing tempos in perfect time with the narrative of the story. With mournful slide guitars and defiant electric guitar work, the Fabulous Pickups help capture all the highs and lows of this emotional roller coaster ride. But for those of us lucky enough to eavesdrop on this musical confessional, there are only highs.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Song of the Week: She Doesn't Sing by Jeremy McComb

I've been trading emails with my friends over at Turnstyled and Junkpiled about the nature of Country music in general and Americana in particular. As reviewers we receive dozens of new CDs every month. More and more of these artists are calling themselves Americana, Alt-Country, CowPunk, Psychobilly, Roots Music, etc. It seems lately independent bands are shying away from the name Country. So it was refreshing for me to finally find an artist who is not ashamed to admit that he is Country.
Jeremy McComb has a great unabashadly Country style. He's a combination of Tim McGraw and Phil Vassar, both with his voice and his songwriting. He spent seven years in Nashville honing his skills as a singer and songwriter. After several recording, and promotion, and management contracts were signed and abandoned, Jeremy was starting to lose faith (and maybe this is why so many abandon the "Country" label.) He even contemplated quitting writing when he recalled some advice from an old friend who said, "This town will either make you bitter or it will make you better." Jeremy decided to move himself to the second category and refocused on his writing. The result is his second CD, Leap (and the net will appear.) "She Doesn't Sing," from that album is a great Country song (not alt, anti, or any other adjective - just Country!) In the song Jeremy contemplates the tell tale signs that his woman is leaving, "She ain't trying to hide it, but I think she might've finally said waht she couldn't say." With melodic guitar work and subtle flourishes of mandolin that shine like blue sky through the clouds, this is a dead-on Country break up song. And even if "She Doesn't Sing," after listening to this song, you will.
And as a special bonus, here's a video for "Wagon Wheel," from his first album. Enjoy and long live Country!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hank Jr. raises $75,000 for Country Music Hall of Fame

Of all the "family traditions" that Hank Williams Jr. is famous for, my favorite is still the music. Yesterday Hank treated fans at Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame to some of his best. He played some of his hits like A Country Boy Can Survive, Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound and The Blues Man (with his youngest son, Sam, joining in on the family tradition.) Hank Jr. also played several classics from his father and his musical heroes Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings. He also sprinkled in a few tunes from his new CD, due out next March.
The concert capped off the four year exhibit, "Family Tradition: The Williams Family Legacy." Although that exhibit will officially end on December 31, 2011, Hank Jr. announced that many of the items he donated for the exhibit will remain at the museum. That and the $75K he raised makes for a nice early Christmas present for the Hall of Fame. If you'd like to follow Hank's lead, you can donate here to support the HoF and museum.

Family Tradition Exhibit Closing from Country Music Hall of Fame on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Free Download of our single!

Hey y'all! We've been busy promoting our upcoming CD, FAMILY ALBUM. In between trips to the post office and sending emails, we wanted to take time out and remember our fans who helped make this possible. To say thanks, we wanted to share a free copy of our first single, Blue Collar King,with you. Just click the link on the left and follow the instructions. See you on your ipod!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

ACA Award Roundup

Well, another week, another awards show. The American Country Awards were presented last night at the Las Vegas MGM hotel. I must confess I missed most of it to watch Disney's Prep & Landing (I have to watch anything John Lasseter has a hand in, he's a story telling genius!)
Anyway, here's the rundown of last night's winners:

Artist of the Year: Jason Aldean
Male Artist of the Year: Brad Paisley
Female Artist of the Year: Carrie Underwood
Group of the Year: Lady Antebellum
New Artist of the Year: Scotty McCreery
Breakthrough Artist of the Year: Chris Young
Album of the Year: My Kinda Party, Jason Aldean
Single of the Year: "Voices," Chris Young
Single of the Year, Male Artist: "Who Are You When I'm Not Looking," Blake Shelton
Single of the Year, Female Artist: "Mama's Song," Carrie Underwood
Single of the Year by a Group: "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not," Thompson Square
Single of the Year, New Artist: "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not," Thompson Square
Single of the Year, Vocal Collaboration: "Don't You Wanna Stay," Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson
Touring Artist of the Year: Jason Aldean
Music Video of the Year: "Who Are You When I'm Not Looking," Blake Shelton
Music Video, Male Artist: "Who Are You When I'm Not Looking," Blake Shelton
Music Video, Female Artist: Carrie Underwood, "Mama's Song"
Music Video, Duo, Group or Collaboration: "Don't You Wanna Say," Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson
Music Video, New Artist: "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not," Thompson Square
Greatest Hits Award: Alabama
Artist of the Decade: Toby Keith

I know this award is special to many performers as it is the only country award where fans vote directly for winners. So congrats to all the winners (and nominees!)Anda special congrat to Toby Keith for winning ten year's worth of awards in one night!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Album of the Week: NO BETTER TIME by Michael Donner & the Southern Renaissance

For our first album review after Thanksgiving, we give you the musical feast that is No Better Time by Michael Donner & the Southern Renaissance. Brimming with creative musical ararngements and instrumentations, No Better Time serves up a thinking fan's casserole of tasty alt-country. Like Ryan Adams and The Civil Wars, Michael Donner and band deliver introspective lyrics and melodic arrangements. With lines like, "I go down to the big creek, I get down upon my knees. I pray, Lord, won't you change a man like me." from Tall Trees, it's clear that Michael puts some thought into his lyrics. And his voice delivers those lyrics with a sweetly melodic rasp. Like a pretzel M&M, he finds that perfect mix of salty and sweet. On Arms of California, he yearns for the Golden State like a lost lover, "watching days turn into weeks, I don't think looking back is wasted time." He continues the balladeering on the delightful daydream, Slip Away, and the romantic confessional, Watching You. But for me some of the finest moments on this album are when Michael and company break out the jangling guitars and shift into second gear. Songs like, Living Free, You Really Got Me, and Been a Long Time are all great midtempo numbers. They're joyful without being raucous. They celebrate so much more than the temporary escape of weekend overindulgence, these songs are a tribute to the simple joys of freedom, nature, and solid relationships. In Been a Long Time, Michael reminds us to, "forget about the bad times and think about the good times; Lord you know we'll be all right." With the world's current state of affairs, there may be No Better Time for that message!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Song of the Week: Little Drummer Boy by Fatih Hill

Well I haven't even finished the leftover Thanksgiving turkey and the Christmas specials have already begun! CMA broadcast their annual Christmas special last night. I loved seeing my favorite diva, Miss Piggy, turn the tables on the classic, Baby It's Cold Outside, by singing the persuader part of the song to Vince Gills gentle protests. Their was a nice moment when Scotty McCreery granted a wish to a young Make A Wish fan in the audience. Brian Setzer teamed up with Brad Paisley to add a little swing to the festivities as well. But for me, the highlight was Faith Hill's version of Little Drummer Boy. She perfomed acapello with a men's choir singing backup. Amidst all the pomp and production, Faith's song was understated and reverent. It was a nice counterbalance to some of the glitz and a gentle reminder of the real meaning of Christmas.
I wanted to embed the video for y'all, but the YouTube clip from last night doesn't have the sound working properly. Here's a link to Faith doing a similar version from a few years back. Hope this helps get you in the Christmas spirit!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Family Notebook

Our good friend Alan Shephard over at Country Dreams Radio sent us a nice email about our new CD that we'd like to share with ya'll:
"After playing the first 3 singles on Country Dreams, I had high expectations for this new album. It has exceeded those expectations! There are major labels out there kicking themselves for not having a piece of this release!"
And speaking of our CD, thanks to everyone who sent in emails to win a free copy. Our lucky winner is...Sue C. from Moseley, VA.
Congratulations Sue for your free CD and your great taste in music!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Best Damn Country Mix - November 2011

Here’s a little something new for y’all. It’s a roundup of our favorite new songs of the past month. Hope you enjoy!

Jessica Lynne: Singin’ Country – Dusty Srpingfield with a twang
Bare Bones: Come In/Stay Out – Allison Kraus meets U2
Family Reunion: Blue Collar King – Full throttle country rocker
Chicken Tractor Deluxe: The Cuckoo – Banjo and fiddle fest
Mud Blood & Beer: Coming Down – Irresistible guitar licks
Casey Donahew Band: One Star Flag – High octane tribute to the Lone Star State
The Monacchio’s: The Great Flood – Tragically beautiful ballad
Boca Chica: Sin City - Wonderful steel guitar
Steve Parry: My Name is Martin Gibson – Vaguely ominous story of family shame
Michael Donner & The Southern Renaissance: You Really Got Me – A country Paul Kelly & The Messengers
Mississippi Live & The Dirty Dirty: Way Down Here – Country blues with jangling guitars
Early Ray: Where the Wild Things Are – Rowdy hell-raisers
Miranda Lambert: Easy Living – Stripped down tune, but still sassy
Willie Nelson: Why Baby Why – As distinctive as ever
David Nail: Grandpa’s Farm – Down home boogie woogie
Toby Keith: Red Solo Cup – Proceed to party!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Family Reunion gives thanks and a Free CD

We have a lot to be thankful for this year. We've been honored to be the featured artist on Country Dreams Radio syndicated music show. We have had an overwhelming, positive response to our first three singles, we made thousands of new fans (a special konnichiha to our fans in Japan!) and we finished production of our first album! The digital version is out now and the CD version will be available starting December 13th. But we'd like to share a CD copy before it's in stores! Just send us an email ( with "Family Album" in the header, and we'll choose one lucky winner on November 30th and mail them the CD before it hits the stores!
Thanks to everyone for their amazing support this year. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hank Jr and Ellen DeGeneres play Odd Couple at CMT Artists of the Year Awards

It's been interesting to see the flow of celebrities jumping on the country music bandwagaon lately. From Kid Rock and Julianna Hough to Robin Roberts and even President Obama. Now comes word that Ellen Degeneres is joining the party. She will play a part in the CMT Artists of the Year broadcast on Tuesday, December 13th. For most people, the highlights will be watching Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean and Lady Antebellum receive their well deserved recognition. But for me, the best highlight would be a pairing of Ellen Degeneres with Hank Williams Jr. (who will also be participating in the awards) for a little comic sparring. With their strong senses of humor and even stronger political views, I can envision a Comedy Central style roast breaking out in the middle of the awards! Well, I can always dream, can't I?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Album of the Week: Nightclub Jacks and Undertakers by Chicken Tractor Deluxe

In an age where many country music fans think music from the 1990's is "classic country," Chicken Tractor Deluxe goes much further back for their musical inspiration - all the way to the 1890's! With hints of ragtime (Please Don't Talk To Me) and sharecropper blues (Boll Weavil,) Nightclub Jacks and Undertakers mines the rich spectrum of American music from an era before genres and top 40 charts. Like Steve Martin's The Crow and Michele Shocked's Arkansas Traveller, Nightclub Jacks and Undertakers enthusiastically revives American "front porch" music. Driven by Kai Schafft's wonderfully frenetic banjo picking, Chicken Tractor Deluxe plays like a down home hootenany. With at least three band members taking turns on lead vocals, and instrumental flourishes provided on acoustic guitar, fiddle, harmonica, mandolin, and an occasional trumpet; this album feels like an impromptu jam session at an old genral store. Like a jam session where Union Station and Squirrel Nut Zippers happen to drop by! There are many standout moments on this album, but I am drawn to "Trail of the Lonesome Pine" and "Cuckoo." With their references to the Blue Ridge Mountains and log cabins, they capture lyrically what the rest of the album evokes emotionally in music. This album truly captures an era and an attitude. Lately, more bands (and fans) are rediscovering this uniquely American attitude of self reliance and musical independence. So on the eve of Thanksgiving 2011, I give thanks for our American musical heritage. And I am thankful that bands like Chicken Tractor Deluxe are keeping that spirit alive!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Song of the Week: Coming Down by Mud, Blood, and Beer

Somewhere between alternative and alt-country lies an alternative alternative. Not quite country, not quite rock, but definitely influenced by both. Mud, Blood and Beer, like Uncle Tupelo and Wilco before them, falls into this musical shadowland. "Coming Down," the first song on their new EP, Gone For Good, is a perfect example of this genreless genre. Like a mash-up of Old 97s and the Meat Puppets, this song breaks the laws of even outlaw country. With hypnotically rhythmic guitar work and obscure lyrics ("I do believe insanity is wasted on the youth,") "Coming Down" creates more of a mood than a story. Like a scene from a movie, this song makes you feel like you're riding through the wilderness trying to keep one step ahead of the law (or your own personal demons.) You don't know how the story's going to end, you just know it's one hell of a ride!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Toby Keith fills his Red Solo Cup with Glee

After conquering YouTube with over three million hits, Toby Keith's hit song, Red Solo Cup, is taking on the popular Fox series Glee. In this season's episode 8, Chord Overstreet's character will give Toby the Glee treatment. I can't wait to hear what he does with the Freddie Mac line! In the highly unlikely event that you haven't seen the video for Red Solo Cup, here it is. Drink it all in:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Family Album digital release!

It's here! It's here! The new album is (digitally) here! What started out as a crazy idea turned into a few singles. The response to those first three singles was so good, we decided to move ahead and do a whole album. The (old school) CD will be available on December 13th, but for those of your who can't wait (like us!) the album is available for digital download TODAY! Check us out at Amazon, iTunes, and CDBaby!
We just want to thank everyone who helped encourage and support us as we faced the trials and tribulations of being a cross-country band. So thank you Alan Shepherd at Country Dreams Radio. Thank you to our first fans on Jango. Thank you to Skydog at Red Dirt Radio. Thank you to Bert Gagnon at Neon Productions Radio. Thank you to Billie Joe at NBRN. Thank you to Good Time Charlie at the Japanese Country Festival. And thank you to our blog readers. We couldn't have done it without you!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Album of the Week: Double Wide Dream by Casey Donahew Band

As you might expect from The Casey Donahew Band's new album, Double Wide Dream, they wear their white trash roots on their sleeves. With lines like, "she likes to cuss and fight and she can drink all night..." on the title song and "Grandma,she smoked all my swag and Dale Earnhart 3 under a rebel flag..." on "White Trash Story II" they make no pretense of sophistication. In fact, "White Trash Story II" sounds like an even more dysfunctional version of Robert Earl Keen's "Merry Christmas From The Family." With lots of songs about drinking and partying and the inevitable follow up songs about lost love, this album plays like a rehab confessional. It's a glimpse into the tortured soul of someone who means well, but feels the regrets of giving in (repeatedly) to temptation. Like Montgomerry Gentry, these guys will never be confused with Nashville's more polished performers. But for that authentic honky-tonk sound, The Casey Donahew Band holds their own with fellow Texans Micky and the Motorcars, Jason Boland and the Stragglers and of course, early Pat Green. (Tell you what!) From the first chords of "Let You Go," Casey and company come out swinging with musical punch. With rockin' guitar and smokin' fiddle, the band swaggers through each track with the confidence born from playing over 200 live shows a year. "One Star Flag," one of the many highights on this album, finds them at their partying peak. With Jerry Lee Lewis inspired piano and Charlie Daniels' fueled fiddle, the song is a full throttle tribute to the Lone Star state. Another highlight, "Could Be My Time" takes a bluesy break from the partying theme of the album. With an optimistic eye toward the future Casey sings, "Keep on dreamin', reality's just believin' there's a chance..." Listening to this album, I have no doubt that this indeed could be their time. I hope we hear a lot more about these guys in the next few years!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Song of the Week: The Great Flood by the Monacchios

I'm departing from our usual party theme for this week's song of the week. Since we're partial to family acts around here, I'd thought we'd feature "The Great Flood" by the Monacchios. These two songwriters met, fell in love, wrote some songs together, and handed out CD copies of their songs to their wedding guests. The first few songs have grown into an album and the first song, especialy, is a great example of storytelling in song. It starts off with two voices harmonizing acapello (souding like a time warped duet of Cat Stevens and Suzanne Vega.) Then a single acoustic guitar is introduced, then a mandolin is added on the next verse. The verses themselves trace a poignant lover's trail of tears. Two peope meet, they fall in love, they face obstacles, they make other plans... Or as the Moracchio's sing: "My true love, it won't be long. I asked your daddy for your hand, but he got the answer wrong." This is a tragic love story in the great tradtion of Country heartbreakers. Love, like the raging waters of a flood, wash over us and carry us away. The real tragedy is to be the one left behind when the flood recedes.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

CMA Roundup

by Cousin Carrie

I don't mean to say I told you so, but back in September I told you to keep an eye out for The Band Perry. I had a feeling these guys had some big days ahead. Last night's CMA Awards proved me right! The Band Perry hauled in three awards for song of the year, single of the year, and best new artist. In accepting her award for song of the year, lead singer Kimberly Perry said: "I truly believe that 'If I Die Young' would have been written with or without me. It just always felt like a song that was meant to be here. But I'll tell you this, I was so excited to have the pen and paper in hand when it was ready to come to earth." I'm glad she was there to receive both the song and the award. As I said before, I have a feeling we'll be hearing more from Kimberly and her brothers!
As for the rest of the CMA's, here's a few personal highlights:
Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood cohosting - These two had great comic timing. Like Ricky and Lucy, they had me laughing throughout the show.
Brad's subtle put down of egomaniac Kayne West in the show's first minutes.
The crowd's standing ovation for Hank Williams Jr. (and his wilingness to play along with a joke at his own expense.)
Sarah Evans' beautiful performance of "A Little Bit Stronger;" complete with acrobats suspended on billowing red ribbons.
Taylor Swift toning it down a notch with an intimate solo performance
Thompson Square (another band we featured here on this blog) getting their first major tv exposure.
Miss Piggy's cameo and patented karate chop (or is that pork chop?)
Scotty McCreery's larger than life voice on "Walk In The Country" (Although I could have done without the contrived radio award segment shoehorned into the middle of his song.)
The heartfelt tribute to Glen Campbell
And of course, Reba. She didn't do much, and she only appeared at the end of the show, but she's still Reba, and that's enough!
(ALSO, there was a non-award highlight as Dolly Parton's new movie was advertised for the first time. I can't wait!)
I hope ya'll enjoyed the show. For those who missed it, you can check out video highlights here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Album of the Week: Steve Parry - The Fight Left In Me

The best music has the power to transport you to another time or place and to fire your emotions. The music on Steve Parry's The Fight Left In Me definitely has that power. Listening to this album, I am instantly transported to the Great Plains of yesteryear. I can almost hear the campfire crackling in the background as Steve sings earnest songs of love and loss and hopes and dreams. For some reason, I hear Steve Parry sing and I envision the Marlboro Man and that iconic image of a self sufficient man ready to face any challenge. Steve faces the challenges of human drama in the many characters he creates on this album. In "My Name Is Martin Gibson," he sings about a shame so deep it passes through generations: "My name is Martin Gibson, you can't blame that on me. I'm just another dying branch on this family tree." Steve paints a beautifully melancholy portrait of the farmer in "Till I'm Dead:" "I stare out on that red horizon, God I hope there's better days ahead. I guess it don't matter what tomorrow brings; "cause I'll work this land till I'm dead." Like Marty Stuart and Merle Haggard, Steve Parry is a true Western troubador. His acoustic guitar and his strong, yet yearning baritone voice bring each of his characters to life and straight into your heart. With subtle touches of violin, banjo, mandolin, harmonica and accordian (expertly arranged by producer Chris Cuunigham of Storyhill) the songs are each a beautifully woven tapestry of music and story. But the greater harmony is that of a man in tune with himself. Like that old Marlboro Man, Steve understands the peace that comes with self awareness. In "Tao of Betsy" he sings: "The secret to life is simply this, find what you love and you follow your bliss." This singing cowboy is clearly doing what he loves, and the result is pure bliss for those of us lucky enough to ride along.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Song of the Week: Right After the Dance by Buck Owens

As we've mentioned before, this continues to be a good year for tradtional country. Buck Owens adds his name to Country Hall of Fame artists in the news this year. Rockbeat records has recently released Bound for Bakersfield 53-56: The Complete Pre-Capitol Collection. Like Hank Williams' Lost Notebooks from earlier this year, this album is a peek into the early formative years of a country musical genius. At the peak of his career, Buck Owens influenced everybody from Merle Haggard to Creedence Clearwater Revival to the Beatles. This collection takes us to Buck's earliest recorded works and gives us some insight into his influences. As country musicians (and fans) ourselves, we often feel the tug of war between tradtional country and modern country music. Many country purists complain that country music has gone steadily downhill since the 70s. Listening to this collection reveals that the debate between traditional and modern has raged since almost the very beginning of country music itself. The cuts on this album alternate between electric telecaster-driven rockabilly (like "Rhythm and Booze") and steel guitar powered country blues (like "There Goes My Love.") In fact, many of the songs on this album appear in two versions, perhaps indicating that Buck felt pulled in two directions at this early stage of his career. But the Buck Owens who would soon become legendary managed to combine his rockabillly and country influences. The result (as in "Right After the Dance") combines the best elements of both. Perhaps that message is as great a gift as the album itself. Even in death, Buck still manages to influence us for the better.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Miranda Lambert goes on the record for Four The Record

Here's a neat little interview with Miranda Lambert discussing the making of her new album, Four The Record. She credits her husband Blake for bringing out more of her sense of humor in this album (as evident in Baggage Claim.) Miranda also explains her willingness to work with other songwriters to be able to draw from a variety of perspectives to add greater depth to ther album. As a band of six songwriters, I think that's one thing we like to do as well - bring a variety of viewpoints and life expereinces to our work. Hey Miranda, if you ever want one stop shopping for a half dozen songwriter perspectives, just drop us a line! We guarantee to give you a "Fine Tune!"

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sneek Peak at our new album!

Hey Y'all, we're inching closer to the release date of our first album! The digital version will be available in two weeks on November 15th! To get a sneek peak at one of the new songs, go to Jango and select our latest song, Peas Porrdge Cold. While you're there, make sure to give us the "thumbs up" sign and become a fan of Family Reunion. Drop us a line and let us know what you think. We'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Kenny Chesney helps couple "Fall in Love"

Here's a feel good story for you from Wilmington, OH. A guy named Steve was having no luck getting the attention of a girl named Ashley. After months of trying, he finally gave up. Then they unexpectedly ran into each other at a Kenny Chesney concert (was "Fall in Love" playing?) and felt the sparks fly. Sure enough, they get married in a few years. That's a good story right there, but there's more. Ashley developed a rare and dangerous kidney disease. Some of her family offered to donate a kidney, but they were'nt a match. Ashley did find her match though (you guessed it) from her hubby Steve. Now Ashley has more energy than ever before, so she can dance the night away with Steve to Kenny Chesney's "I'm Alive!"

Monday, October 31, 2011

Album of the Week: No Law Against Talking by Some Velvet Evening

Since we've started putting up reviews, we've been getting lots of emails from our indie country friends to include them on our blog. We're more than happy to oblige (if we can keep up the pace!) So starting this week, we'll try to feature one new album each week! To get things started, we're going to go old shcool...
This has been a good year for tradtional country music. First Patsy Cline's Winchester, VA home was finally opened to public tours, then we were treated to not one, but two new Hank Williams CDs (Lost Notebooks and The Legend Begins) Even Blake Shelton gave a nod to yesterday's country roots when he sang about Conway and Loretta in his song Honey Bee. But Some Velvet Evening goes a lot further than just mentioning the legendary Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, they channel their very spirit on every song on their new album, No Law Against Talking. From the first few bars of Still Have Your Hat, you are transported to a different era of country music (even the cover has a great retro charm.) With stripped down production and gorgeous harmonies, Some Velvet Evening captures the very essence of country music. Without elaborate arrangements, orchestration, or overdubbing, the beauty of Carrie Shepard and John Holk's voices take center stage. The two voices glide and blend effortlessly in perfect harmony. They combine to create an intimacy that enhances the lyrical story telling of this album. As almost all the songs are about relationships, the beauty and emotion of the singers add a heartfelt resonance to each tune. From the hopeful yearning of Sitll Have Your Hat ("I know you can't be gone, because I still have your hat.") to the delightfully sensuous Chore List ("I'm making you a chore list baby: 1 Do just what I say 2 undo my necklace...") and the inevitable following song, One Night of Sin, you get the feeling that you are eavesdropping on a couple's most intimate moments. Listening to this album with your sweetheart may even lead to a few intimate moments of your own!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Toby Keith taps his Irish roots (and a keg or two) for inspiration

Toby Keith discusses the inspiration for the title song of his newest release, Clancy's Tavern over at Taste of Country. Toby explains, "First of all, that story is true. It’s influenced by my grandmother’s tavern that I was raised in. But I played Ireland here about two years ago for the first time, and [at] the end of the trip it was like, I started kind of getting a desire to wanna listen to some old Irish folk songs." Toby may have found additional inspiration for the CD from Ireland's other claim to fame, provided it was served in a red solo cup.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

American Idol Lauren Alaina wants to knock (around in) YOUR boots!

Lauren Alaina scooted her boots to a second place finish on last year's American Idol. Now she wants to scoot around in YOUR boots to help promote her new album, Wildflower. She is teaming up with Justin Boots to offer a design contest. The fan who creates the best boot design (as voted on by fans) will receive:
- A signed pair of boots worn by Lauren Alaina
- A signed copy of 'Wildflower'
- Exposure by having their design featured on Lauren Alaina's social media channels
So if you're artistic, or like boots, or just like Lauren Alaina (and who doesn't,) then check out the contest and put a little soul on those boots!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Kenny Chesney's mental floss moment

CMT has a post on Kenny Chesney's inspiration for his new song, "Reality." It seems Kenny was at the dentist's office when the inspiration hit him. “I was lying in a dentist chair, I had the mask on, you know, where they give you that funny gas so they can work on your mouth without you feelin’ it and all that kind of stuff,” he recalls. “I remember thinking, ‘Wow, I haven’t been this relaxed in a long time. This is my escape from reality.’" Although I don't recommend excessive use of laughing gas for inspiration (the only thing dentists inspire in me is fear!), this post got me thinking about some of the odd ways inspiration strikes. Sometimes I get a song idea listening to a song on the radio. I'll get involved in the story, then suddenly I'll stop and think: hey there's another way to tell that story, or there's another side to that story. Sometimes I get story ideas just watching people. Spend an hour at the mall and just watch. You'll wonder why people say, do, and wear the things they do. Trying to figure the reasons will give you plenty of ideas. I've even gotten song ideas just channel surfing from station to station on TV. The last words of one station will blend in with the first words on the next station and give me an idea. Song ideas are funny that way, you never know when they'll strike. But if you're a songwriter the main thing is just to always carry a notepad and write that word or phrase or idea that pops into your head before it fades away like Kenny Chesney's laughing gas.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Song of the Week: Party Our Hats Off by J Collins

Do you like to party? I mean really party with the speakers all the way up to 11? Then this song is for you. Party Our Hats Off by Florida native J Collins will make you do just that. With big, crunchy guitar licks and a great sing along (drink along) chorus, this song is impossible to listen to sitting down. As you might guess from the title, this song won't exapnd your mind with any deep thoughts. But if you're just looking for some good time fun after a long week, then this song has it all: pickup trucks, boots, mud, bars... And did I mention the guitar work? This song will be right at home between your Brad Paisley and Toby Keith beer drinking anthems. And the more I listen to this song,the more I want to party more than just my hat off!

Friday, October 21, 2011

(mostly) Country Music Halloween Party iMix

Here's a little early Halloween treat for y'all! Here's a list of some of our favorite Halloween themed songs to help you get an early start on next weekend's parties:
Ghost Riders in the Sky - Johnny Cash
Phantom 309 - Red Sovine
Beaches of Cheyene - Garth Brooks
Ghost of a Texas Ladies' Man - Concrete Blonde
The Wtich Queen of New Orleans - Redbone
The Conductor Wore Black - Rank and File
The Devil Went Down to Georgia - Charlie Daniels
The Devil's Right Hand - Steve Earle
Zombie Zoo - Tom Petty
Zombified - Southern Culture on the Skids
Hell - Squirrel Nut Zippers
I'm the Only Hell My Momma Ever Raised - Johnny Paycheck
Pay the Devil - Van Morrison
Devil's Best Dress - Corb Lund
Devil's Stomping Ground - Southern Culture on the Skids
(You're the) Devil in Disquise - Elvis Presley
The Creature from the Black Lagoon - Dave Edmunds
Ghost Train Four-Oh-Ten - Marty Stuart
The Legend of the Wooley Swamp - Charlie Daniels
I'm Not Scared - Raindgos
Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash
These are just a few of our favorites. Feel free to add Monster Mash and Purple People Eater or any TV or movie themes to flavor as needed. Happy haunting everyone!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Come on down to South Park and meet...Brad Paisley

Last week we posted about Brad Paisley's appearance on Sesame Street. This week Brad moves from children's entertainment to juvenile delinquent as he provides a voice on tonight's episode of South Park. Brad received an invitatino to South Park Studios in Culver City, CA through a connection from a family member. While there, Brad was offered the chance to provide a voice for an episode. Says Brad, “I went in and cut a couple voices of little kids. I’m just one of the kids in the background. But, my name is in the credits, you know? And, I’m floored. I can’t believe I got to do that.” We can't help but notice the similarity between his South Park pic and our own alter egos above. Could it be that Brad is trying to copy us? Well, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Maybe we'll cover some of his songs on our next album!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Garth Brooks makes new friends in high places

Garth Brooks may be famous for his friends in low places, but this past Sunday he got to mingle with some new friends in high places. Garth, along with Alan Jackson, John Bettis, Thom Schuyler and Allen Shamblin, was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Grand Ballroom of Nashville's own Renaissance Hotel. Watching the ceremony, I was surprised to learn from Garth's producer, Allen Reynolds, that Garth always insisted on listening to and recording songs written by others when compiling his albums (Hey Garth - if you ever do another album, keep us in mind!) It was also touching to see many of Garth's collaborators perform a few bars of the songs he made famous and to hear how his recording of their songs changed theire lives. It was a touching and inspiring ceremony and one that I hope gives encouragement to all my friends pursuing their musical dreams. Maybe one day...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Song of the Week: All The Luck by Leslie Krafka

I love Leslie Krafka's voice. It has a vulnerability and earnestnest to it, like an early Linda Rondstat. Listening to Leslie, you feel like you've known her for years. She uses that intimate sound to great effect in her song, "All The Luck." In this waitress'-eye-view of drinking to forget, Leslie paints a vivid picture of what it's like to feel stuck as others (and life itself) seem to pass you by. Drawing on the influence of her fellow Texas songwriters, Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker, she puts you smack dab in the middle of the story. With lines like, "No one comes here 'cause they're happy, but happy's what they're looking for," she sings with the experience of one who knows. But despite the somber tone of her lyrics, the music is surprisingly upbeat and wonderfully melodic. In the end, the two opposing forces reconcile as Leslie confesses that "What lies in me is like the spring underneath the drifts of snow." And it's that ray of hope in all our lives that keeps depression from turning to despair. And with that little bit of hope, sometimes all we need to make it is a little luck. Having heard and felt this song, I wish Leslie "all the luck" in the world!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Randy Houser gives back "something real" to his mentor

We might never have heard the music of Randy Houser were it not for the influence of Thomas Carson. “I was playing clubs at the time and the thought of going to school was foreign to me,” Randy said in an interview with He was at a talent competition one night when Thomas Carson spoke with him and gave him "little kick in the butt” he needed to pursue music classes at East Central Community College in Mississippi where Mr. Carson taught. Fast forward a dozen years and now it's Randy's turn to help his former teacher. Thomas Carson was diagnosed with esophageal cancer earlier this year. Randy and several other ECCC alumni are performing a benefit concert to help their mentor and friend. The show is scheduled for Saturday, November 12th at the Neshola County Coliseum. “I always knew that he believed in me and my music,” says Randy. “I’ll never forget the moment he looked me in the eye and said, ‘If you can get out of this town, you need to go’. I moved to Nashville soon after. He helped me. Now it’s time to help him.” You can find out more about the generous spirit of Thomas Carson and even donate funds for his recovery here. Keep that circle of blessings going!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bayou Country Superfest Gar-An-Tees a Great Lineup

The lineup for the 2012 Bayou Country Superfest in Baton Rouge, LA was just announced yesterday, and it's a hot (dare I say spicy?) one! The two day show will feature Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Jason Aldean, Rascal Flatts, Little Big Town, Eric Church, Sara Evans, Dierks Bentley, Joe Nichols and Jerrod Niemann. Wow! That's like a whole year's worth of concerts mixed into one big bowl of Jambalaya. The event will take place next Memorial Day on May 26th and 27th at LSU's Tiger Stadium. Tickets will officially go on sale next Thursday, October 20th. And with this lineup, there's a good chance they'll go fast. So get your tickets and grab your hot sauce for what promises to be a smokin' good time! We'll see y'all there.
As a little bonus, here's a little taste from last year's festival:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hank Williams Jr. doubles down with "Keep the Change"

As I'm sure y'all know by know, Hank Williams Jr. has gotten himself in some hot water over comments he made about President Obama. In a recent interview on Fox and Friends, Hank compared the underachieving president to Hitler. The next day, ESPN announced they were drop kicking Hank and his theme song, "Are You Ready For Some Football," from the Monday Night Football opening credits. The song had been a mainstay of MNF for over ten years, but ESPN felt that Hanks' remarks were to inflammatory to keep him on the team. Hank offered some initial apologies for his remarks. But after receiving no reconsideration from ESPN, Hank has made his feelings abundantly clear in the way he does best - through his music. His song,"Keep the Change," clearly expresses his dissatisfaction with the current president ("This country sure as hell been going down the drain / We know what we need, we know who to blame," Hank sings. "United Socialist States of America: How do you like that name? I'll keep the USA, and y'all can keep the change")and, of course, ESPN gets a parting shot as well ("You can keep 'Fox & Friends' and ESPN out of your homes, too, because Bocephus and all his rowdy friends and his song is outta there.") If you agree with Hank Jr. or just like his music more than his attitude, you can dowload the song for free here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It's Official! "Little Bitty" town of Mineral, VA wins Alan Jackson Concert!

As we mentioned here a few weeks ago, Alan Jackson was going to let his fans vote to bring him to their town. Little bitty Mineral, VA quickly jumped to the lead in fan votes, led by sympathy for the devastation inflicted on the small town by an August earthquake. Things were looking up for Mineral until some lawyers got involved and pointed out the Mineral had to meet minimum seating capacity requirements. Then a few weeks after that, Mineral learned that they would not receive any FEMA aid to rebuild after the quake. Just when things looked darkest, the legal hurdles were cleared and Mineral was declared the official winner of the Demand Alan Jackson concert. Congratulations to our Blue Ridge cousins who will likely be in attendance. We'll keep ya'll posted when we learn the date and time of the show.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Song of the Week: Love You As You Break My Heart

This week's song is "Love You As You Break My Heart" by Rob Lytle. As you can imagine from the title, this song is about a broken heart. But rather than wallow in self pity or engage in revenge fantasies, this song reveals a depth of emotion that is still capable of loving even as the heart breaks. Our own Cousin JD wrote a great song with a similar theme called "Beautiful Judas" which will be on our upcoming album. But where JD focused on the pain of the moment of breakup, Rob Lytle manages to find joy in remembrance of the past. With a catchy, uptempo zydeco flavor (including fiddle and accordian - ya'll know I'm a sucker for some good fiddlin'!) Rob manages to take a moment of extreme pain and turn it into a joyful, if bittersweet, moment of truth. With his alt-country and Americana roots, Rob has discovered the secret of America's truest musical form, the blues, and shares with us that secret - that singing about your suffering is part of overcoming your suffering. And Rob's suffering is our gain, because this is a wonderful song of triumph in the face of heartbreak.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Brad Paisley's American Sunday Night

Brad Paisley has penned numerous odes to overindulgence (and I love them all!) but now he is singing a different tune. He is joining The Children's Television Workshop to introduce the concept of poverty and malnutrition to the happy cast of Sesame Street and their friends around the world. This Sunday, October 9th, at 7pm Brad will help to introduce the new muppet,Lily on the hour long special, Growing Hope Against Hunger. In a sign of the times, Brad will costar with new muppet Lily to educate children that some of us need help meeting our daily nutrition needs, even in this land of plenty. The episode introduces children to the concept of Food Banks and encourages them to share. It's certainly a worthy cause and one that we have supported in our areas. To donate, just do an online search for "food bank" and the name of your city or go to the Feeding America site (just no frogs' legs please! asks Kermit.) The more you find out, the more you'll be amazed at how much they do in your community.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Album of the Month: Zombified by Southern Culture on the Skids

I've been a Southern Culture on the Skids fan for over ten years. I've been a fan of Halloween longer than that. Put the two together and I can't resist. Zombified by Southern Culture on the Skids (SCOTS to their fans) is a tribute to the horror and exploitation movies that populated Southern theaters and drive ins during the 60s and 70s. Bringing their unique genre defying (country-rock? psychobilly? Hillbilly surf punk? Toe sucking geek rock?) sound to B Movie monster madness if pure genius. Band leader Rick Miller, bassist Mary Huff and drummer Dave Hartman crank out a serious hoodoo vibe on this perfect for Halloween collection. The band comes out swinging with the emminently danceable title track, "Zombified." They keep that 60's surf rock feel going on tracks like "Swamp Thang" and "Devil's Stomping Ground." And they deliver their signature back woods humor on "Eyeball You Later." For me,the standout tune is "Bloodsucker" - your basic caribbean tinged, vampire mambo (doesn't every band have one of these in their catalog?) Mary Huff takes over vocal duties on the wonderful torch-ballad, "Torture." (By the way,the only real torture on this album is that Mary doesn't get to sing more lead vocals, I could listen to her magnificent 50's pop diva voice all day [or night in this case!]
If you're planning a Halloween party this month and you're looking to surprise your "Monster Mash" weary friends with some truly outside-the-coffin musical mayham, this is your answer.
In decribing his inspiration for the album, Rick says, "I got into the (B mvie horror) directors, like Mario Bava, Hershell Gordon Lewis and George Romero, to name just a few. They made some entertaining and pretty disturbing movies from way outside the mainstream. A big influence on my approach to making music!" Entertaing and disturbing - what more could you want from an album this Halloween?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hank Williams Lost Notebooks

If I didn't know better, I'd think Hank Williams Sr. was gearing up for a reunion tour. Last month saw the release of a 3 CD set of his earliest recordings. Now this month comes news of the release of The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams. When Hank died in 1953 at the age of 29, he left behind a scuffed brown, leather briefcase full of notebooks that included songs, half written songs, and song ideas. Somehow A&R executive Mary Martin ended up with the notebooks and approached Bob Dylan to produce an album of the material similar to the 1998 album Mermaid Avenue where Billy Bragg and Wilco put newly discovered Woody Guthrie lyrics to music as a heartfelt tribute to the pioneer of Folk music. Eventually, the Hank Williams lyrics were dispersed to 13 different artists to put their own take on the Country music icon's words. As Michael McCall observes in the liner notes, "The history of Hank's notebooks is as complex as the legend himself. Yet, in the end, what matters most are the songs, and these new works rise from the ether with ghostly relevance. As with his many standards, these new recordings tap straight into the soul of man. This is songwriting at its most artful and most powerful."
Here are the songs and artists on this tribute to the unrealized potential of Hank Williams Sr. (I just wish Hank would have had the chance to record them himself.):
Alan Jackson "You've Been Lonesome, Too"
Bob Dylan "The Love That Faded"
Norah Jones "How Many Times Have You Broken My Heart?"
Jack White "You Know That I Know"
Lucinda Williams "I'm So Happy I Found You"
Vince Gill and Rodney Crowell "I Hope You Shed a Million Tears"
Patty Loveless "You're Through Fooling Me"
Levon Helm "You'll Never Again Be Mine"
Holly Williams "Blue Is My Heart"
Jakob Dylan "Oh, Mama, Come Home"
Sheryl Crow "Angel Mine"
Merle Haggard "The Sermon on the Mount"

Monday, October 3, 2011

Song of the Week: I'm Going to Love You Through It by Martina McBride

Martina McBride is reinventing herself this month. With a new album on a new label (with many of the new songs written by herself.) Her first single from the album 11 is, not surprisingly, about renewal. It's called "I'm Going to Love You Through It," and it's about surviving breast cancer. Although not a cancer survivor herself, Martina has a long history of supporting women's issues. She fell in love with both the song and its emotional message. To help further that message, Martina is helping raise awareness of breast cancer with a special appearane in New York City. She will personally throw the switch to turn The Empire State Building pink for the month of October. She will also perform a private concert for breast cancer survivors and their loved ones within the iconic building on Friday, October 14th. So for the sake of a good cause and good music, check out Martina's song.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Steve Martin is a Wild & Crazy Bluegrass Award Winner!

I used to watch Steve Martin on old Saturday Night Live reruns when I was in high school and l remember thinking, "sure he's funny, but can he play bluegrass?" Not really, but I did wonder why his 2009 album, The Crow, didn't receive more attention in country music circles. I thought it was a great piece of authentic bluegrass revival. I especially loved the tender beauty of the song, "Pretty Flowers." Well, it seems I'm ahead of my time because Steve Martin, and his band The Steep Canyon Rangers, just won the International Bluegrass Music Association’s entertainer of the year award. Steve was honored last night at Nashville's own Ryman auditorium. With his trademark wit, Steve accepted the award saying, “First of all, I want to congratulate the other nominees, and thank them for losing.” Well let me congratulate and thank you Steve for winning and for helping to bring exposure to one of America's truest musical forms.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Song of the Week: The Girl With The Fishing Rod by EllieMay Kay

I'm going a little off the beaten path for this week's song of the week. It's a tune called "The Girl With The Fishing Rod" by one of our ICMA friends, EllieMay Kay. As we say goodbye to summer, I thought I'd take one last trip to the river with this fun, rollicking tune. It's a high energy tribute to all us girls who'd rather bait a line than polish our nails. It'll make you want to tap your toes even if you're knee deep in the creek. The music and chorus will stay with you for days after hearing this, and the fiddle work is just pure country gold (I'm always a sucker for a good fiddle!) Of course, in the end our song's heroine catches more than fish. In addition to catching the eye of a good man, she's also reeled me in as a fan!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tell Alan Jackson to "Free" Mineral, VA

I wrote before about how Alan Jackson found a unique way to connect with his fans through his "Demand It" concert promotion. Basically, towns not on Jackson's tour schedule could go to his website and cast votes to receive a free concert from Alan. Well with only two weeks to go in the voting, the town of Mineral, VA is in the lead with nearly three times as many votes as the second place town. Problem is, Alan Jackson's team has put stipulations on the "free" concert. The winning town must meet Jackson's production requirements and find a venue that can hold 1,000 to 3,000 people. For most towns that wouldn't be a problem. But Mineral was recently hit by a devasting and rare 5.5 magnitude earthquake. Schools and other public buildings have been destroyed or badly damaged. If Mineral wins, they may not have the facility to meet Jackson's requirements. However, I suspect that Alan Jackson wanted to offer this promotion to reach out to his fans, not alienate them over a technicality. So if you have a moment, please go to "Demand It" and cast a vote for Mineral, VA. Then go to Alan's homepage and put a note in the forum asking Alan to do his part to reward the fan loyalty of the people of Mineral (and maybe even help them rebuild.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Jason Aldean earns applause for the cause

Jason Aldean is hosting his sixth annual "Concert for the Cure" to help raise funds to find a cure for breast cancer. This year's show is this Friday, September 30th in little ole Roanoke, VA (which Cousin JD informs me is the "Star City" of the South!) Jason will be donating proceeds from this year's show (as he always does) to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. He continues to perform these fundraisers in honor of his dear friend, Melissa, whom he lost to breast cancer when she was only 29 yrs old. Jason explains that "The day she passed away, my family decided that we would always do something to carry on her memory and to help in the fight." He even auctioned off a private meet and greet to this year's event which helped raise an additional $6,000. The lucky bidder won airfare and hotel to go along with the front row seats and backstage pass. No word on whether a Cheesy Western all the way from the Texas Tavern was included in the prize pack.