Monthly Archives: May 2015

My Randy Rogers Week

With great anticipation I was counting down the days until the The Randy Rogers Band in concert. I rounded up a huge group to see him live at Floore’s country store on Saturday, April 25th. The week before I listened to all my favorite songs on repeat. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday I listened to the albums Trouble, Burning the Day Away, and Randy Rogers Band. Late Tuesday afternoon I realized I was missing something. Randy’s new duet album recorded with Wade Bowen had just been released at record stores that very day. I needed to go to Waterloo records to pick up a copy. I hopped in the car, picked up my best friend Jake, who introduced me to Randy Roger’s music, and headed for Waterloo. The savory smells of 24 Diner greeted us as we approached the record store. Randy Roger’s voice welcomed us over the loud speaker singing a song I had never heard before. We scanned the rows of records for the country music label that would lead us to Randy’s new album, instead it lead us to Randy himself, in the flesh. Yep, Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen stood in the far corner of the store signing albums and greeting fans. My soul began to soar as my dreams were coming true. My heart beat fast as Jake and I stood in line preparing ourselves to meet our favorite Texas Country artist. He wore a plaid button up and trucker hat. His sleeves were rolled up enough to reveal large tattoos covering his upper forearms. I said hello and that I couldn’t wait to see him that Saturday! He was a polite, but a shy guy, with a well groomed beard and mellow speaking voice. He was glad to hear I’d be joining him at Floore’s country store later that week and told me he would be performing a song or two off the new album. We discussed one of the songs, “Hold my Beer”. My day was absolutely made! What an outstanding surprise! Randy and Wade had performed live in Waterloo records earlier that day to promote their album and I arrived just in time to meet them before they moved on to their next obligation. It was my lucky day. By the time Saturday rolled around I was loving the new album and pumped for the concert. The songs I was most excited to hear were my old favorites, ”Buy Myself a Chance”, ” In My Arms Instead”, and my from the new album,” Standards”. “Standards” is Randy and Wade’s pledge to always sing good quality songs, not shallow fluffy pop without meaning like many country artists do today.

“…..I don’t have hits, I’ve got standards” is a line that pretty much sums up the song and The Randy Roger’s Band. My friends and I loaded up in a van Saturday night and headed to Floore’s. Everyone wore cowboy boots; boys in jeans, girls in cute dresses. The venue was smoky and crowded. Every audience member held a beer and most wore cowboy hats. My group shoved our way through the crowd and found a spot with a great view of the band. I’m not sure that we had room to two step but we did it anyways. We sang our favorite songs at the top of our lungs as the stage lights saturated the band with orange, blue and white light. My favorite moment of the entire concert was during the song “Too Late for Goodbye”, my best friend and I sang as loud as we could and jumped up and down. Toward the end of the song the boy I have a crush on lifted me up high above the crowd. I could see the band perfectly and everyone looked up at me. I reached out and felt like I could almost touch the band. I was on cloud 9. Randy ended the concert with “Kiss Me in the Dark”, probably his most popular and beloved song. My Randy Rogers week was one I will never forget. I now love him even more if that is possible!

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Filed under Austin, Live Music, Texas

iHeartRadio Country Music Festival

iheartradio_country_festival_l_0_1427982137This weekend I was lucky enough to attend the 2nd annual iHeartRadio Country Music Festival here in Austin. To say it was an extraordinary showcase is an understatement. Hosted by Bobby Bones, Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland, and Darius Rucker this festival was a special once in a lifetime event with a stellar all-star lineup. This year it included Justin Moore, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Tyler Farr, Sam Hunt, The Band Perry, Little Big Town, Brantley Gilbert, Dierks Bentley, Darius Rucker, and the icing on the cake was Tim McGraw. It was only fitting that the newest and hottest artists in country music traveled to the “Live Music Capital of the World” for a concert of a lifetime.

The iHeartRadio Country Music Festival is one of the largest and grandest country music festivals in the country and Austin has been lucky enough to host it for the second year in a row. It is sister concert to the iHeartRadio Music Festival held in Las Vegas and the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Concert Tour. John Sykes, President of iHeartMedia Entertainment Enterprises, shared with Rolling Stone that “Every single one of these artists can headline an arena or stadium on their own, but on this night they will share the stage to celebrate the amazing music on our iHeartRadio country stations”. Clearly, this was not an event to be missed.

What I did not realize was that the concert was actually being filmed to air on NBC May 27th. Given that, walking into the stadium I was not expecting to see huge cameras pointing in every direction or camera crew pacing the floor. This aspect actually made the event more special because I felt like I was a part of something big. Cameras were set all around the arena and throughout the show there were segments of staged cheering and applause conducted by Bobby Bones and Jennifer Nettles themselves. It was pretty cool to see what it was like behind the scenes and how a televised show comes together.

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 7.04.17 PMBrad Paisley kick started the show with a bang. I had never seen him in concert before so he was someone I was looking forward to watching. He definitely made it a production and got the crowd going wild. The Band Perry surprised the crowd by singing a cover of party song “Uptown Funk”, making the whole audience jump to their feet and dance. The trio sounded like they could’ve been the original artists of the song, which was remarkable considering they were country artists singing a pop party song.

I have always like Brantley Gilbert, but I did not enjoy his performance as much as all of the others. Before he took the stage, there was a video shown of him and his band looking like they could’ve been a part of a gang. Glimpses of head to toe bling and tattoos were not the quintessential things I expected to see at a country concert. In my opinion, the video jut didn’t fit the “country” mood of the night. Regardless, he was fun to watch and had abundant energy. Little Big Town sang hits like “Day Drinking” and controversial song “Girl Crush” which the audience cheered and supported despite the recent backlash. Overall, they were entertaining with Karen Fairchild standing out with her astounding vocals.

Following them was the great Darius Rucker. His performance was one of my favorites. His audience interaction was spot on and you could just tell how much he was enjoying singing in that moment. Rascal Flatts was also one of my favorite performances, which I wasn’t expecting. Despite having lost popularity in recent years, I thought their performance was amazing. From singing new hits like “Rewind” to throwing it back and singing “What Hurts the Most” and “Life Is A Highway”, I had so much fun singing along with them.

IMG_0231Finally, the one and only Tim McGraw closed the show and was nothing less than flawless. He was definitely the most anticipated artist and that showed when Darius Rucker crowd surfed the audience to introduce him to the stage. After we all sang a loud and proud “Happy Birthday” to him (since it was his birthday), he sung hits “Shotgun Rider” and “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools”. He also threw in the oldies, “Something Like That” and a grand finale of “Live Like You Were Dying”. Those two songs are some of my favorite Tim McGraw songs so I was over the moon when he played both. He was the perfect closer to an unbelievable concert and made every second worthwhile.

The iHeartRadio Country Music Festival will be back in Austin for a third time next year. This wonderful showcase of beloved artists and songs will not disappoint anyone who loves country music. Grab your tickets while you can because you definitely don’t want to miss it! I know I don’t!

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Filed under Austin, Live Music, Reflection

Where Did Clay Walker Go?

Although I consider myself a fan of country music, I would not consider myself to being anywhere close to being an expert on this genre of music. Growing up, one of the first artists that I clearly remember listening to along with Keith Urban was Clay Walker. I was able to see him perform once at the Houston Rodeo and then again at the Cynthia Woods Mitchel Pavilion in the Woodlands.

Coming in to the course I had no idea of what I could really expect, nor did I know which artists we would be discussing in class. Although I didn’t have a clue about who we would be covering this semester, I am a bit surprised by the fact that Clay Walker has not been mentioned once throughout the course thus far. Clay Walker was one of the very first artists that I came across when I first started listening to country music. Because I don’t know much about the genre, I decided to take it upon myself to do a bit of research on him to see if I could figure out why he might not be as popular as other artists.

Clay Walker began his professional career in country music began in 1993 with the release of his debut album Clay Walker. As of today, he has released a total of eleven albums with four of them that went platinum and two that went gold. His most recent album titled She Won’t be Lonely Long was released in 2010 which brings up the question: “Where did Clay Walker go?” After doing a little research I discovered that Clay Walker was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when he was only 26 years old and he has been trying to deal with it since then. Since his diagnosis he has attempted to make contributions towards the cure of this disease by  donating money as well as raising awareness about MS through his charity Band Against MS. Although it appears that he has gotten his symptoms of MS under control, the disease only continues to progress as he ages; this might explain why he hasn’t made much of a presence in the country music scene for the past five years.

I decided to put together a few of my favorite songs by Clay Walker for you guys to enjoy.

I would have to say that “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” is my favorite Clay Walker song. It always reminds me of my dad because it features Freddy Fender and for me it just brings back memories of the stories he would tell us about him growing up in Corpus and listening to Freddy Fender all the time. I also like this song because he sings part of it in Spanish and its different from any other song on the album.

Well what can I say about “Fore She Was Mama”? In contrast to the previous songs I chose this one is more of a silly upbeat song about a couple of siblings who were digging around and discovered things about their mom when she was younger. After the boys in the song uncover all of these dirty little secrets they’re shocked and its hard for them to even see her as a young, wild person who she supposedly was because they just see her as their mom.


Filed under Charity, Lists, New Country, Reflection, Texas

Walk the Line: The Music of June Carter Cash

imageGrowing up, I have many memories of listening to music in the car while on trips. While it was sometimes the radio, or Christmas music around the holidays, I specifically remember listening to the Walk the Line soundtrack with my mom after she watched the movie. We would alternate between Johnny Cash’s deep, booming voice and Joaquin Phoenix’s well-executed covers of the Cash originals. This weekend, I watched Walk the Line for the first time and while I was impressed with the story of Johnny Cash, I was particularly struck by Reese Witherspoon and her portrayal of June Carter. June was a popular female singer, having gained fame from her early performances with the Carter Family. Her portrayal in the film is more focused on her relationship with Cash, but her talent as a singer is also notable. I decided to put together a list of my favorite June Carter songs, including some performed by Witherspoon in the movie.

5. “Juke Box Blues”

This song was one of the first I heard in the movie that really sparked my interest in June Carter. The song’s instrumentation is really simple, featuring drums, slide guitar, and brief moments of piano. However, June’s swing with her voice and lively personality drew my attention in a song with repetitive melodic lines.

4. “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”

June Carter first recorded her cover of this song in 1999 at age 70 on her album Press On. The song is just as simple in instrumentation as “Juke Box Blues”. Her version of this song is unique in her subtle vibrato, use of dynamic contrast at the end of each line, and her hints of swing between notes.

3. “Ring of Fire”

This song is most famously known as one of Johnny Cash’s greatest hits, but it was interesting to learn that June Carter actually wrote the song and recorded her own version. Her version changes the rhythms and uses more stereotypically “country” instruments, like fiddle and percussion instruments.

2. “Wildwood Flower”

This song reminds me a lot of “Juke Box Blues” in its repetition of the melodic line. Her pronunciation of the lyrics in the song helps to make it unique, like “flor” instead of “flower”. While the song is sad and could get monotonous, June Carter’s voice is upbeat and positive, implying that she has emotional strength to get through depressing times.

1. “Jackson”

This song is definitely my favorite of June Carter’s, largely because it features Johnny Cash in a duet. Their chemistry is evident in this song, with hollers at each other during their individual features. In addition, the song is fun and upbeat, and the harmony between Cash’s deep sultry voice and Carter’s fun scooping soprano make the sound unique.


Filed under Country Symbols, Movies and TV, Women