Monthly Archives: October 2015

5 Best Country Sing-Along Jams

If you’ve never had a hair-flipping, bed-jumping, scream-singing dance party to country music, what have you been doing with your life? 90s and early 2000s women country singers gave so much to the pop-esque country genre. Their independent and take-on-the-world qualities make their music fun, and their love for love makes their music desirable. So grab a hairbrush to sing along because the following five songs are considerably some of the best country hits to dance around to that will make you feel like a professional while you belt them out in your room (with some sick dance moves, I’m sure…)

The Way You Love Me – Faith Hill

Honestly, does it get any better than Faith Hill? I can’t help but listen to her music and assume everything is about Tim McGraw and that makes me so happy I can hardly stand it. This song is the ultimate ode to the perfect man. This song is an accurate representation of how everyone in a relationship wants to feel. I could jump around to this song forever. Also, this video (!!!) is the greatest thing ever.

Best lyric to sing-along to: “You’re the million reasons why there’s love reflecting in my eyes”

Man! I Feel Like a Woman! – Shania Twain

Girls, this is our anthem. This song is best sung when you’re driving around with all your best girlfriends. (I can’t help but think of the scene in the Britney Spears movie Crossroads when Brit and friends belt this out on their road trip.) This might be the most poppy you can go and still be country. Shania really made herself known with this one. Girls just want to have fun and listen to Shania Twain and wear men’s shirts and short skirts.

Best lyric to sing-along to: “The best thing about a-bein’ a woman is the prerogative to have a little fun”

Suds In The Bucket – Sara Evans

This goes out to all the girls who have thought about the perfect boy that would make them drop everything to go be with him. This story about a small town teenage girl going off to be with her love regardless of the life she’s leaving behind is something that is straight from the movies. “You can’t stop love,” Sara sings and we all want to feel just that. The instrumental in this song provides for some necessary two-stepping and twirling around in cowboy boots.

Best lyric to sing-along to: “A little pony-tailed girl grown up to be a woman and she’s gone in a blink of an eye / She left the suds in the bucket and the clothes hangin’ out on the line”

Bye Bye – Jo Dee Messina

Although we love to jam out to happy, lovey songs, some of the best dance songs are the upbeat break-up ones. This one is a prime example. What’s better than screaming bye bye to the one who broke your heart? Sure, the dancing and the screaming is going to make you insanely tired but you’ll inevitably burn a lot of calories while doing so. Jo Dee sings about a man who just couldn’t make up his mind so she does it for him. You go girl. Keep doin’ you, we’re all taking notes.

Best lyric to sing-along to: “I’ve lost the game I guess / I did my best to win the part / Now I’m leaving here with what’s left of my heart”

Kerosene – Miranda Lambert

This is a complete and polar opposite song from many on this list (which is good because everybody enjoys a little variety) and is so necessary for anyone who is thinking of the perfect revenge to get on the worst of the worst who didn’t know how to treat you. Cheating is never ok, ok? Miranda totally gets revenge by setting this boy’s house on fire. “Life ain’t hard but it’s too long living like some country song,” she sings and decides to give up on love. One would deem this an appropriate statement after having your heart broken. So, don’t dance to hard to this one. (And don’t set any houses on fire…)

Best lyric to sing-along to: “Now I don’t hate the one who left / You can’t hate someone who’s dead / He’s out there holding on to someone / I’m holding up my smoking gun”

This mini-playlist is guaranteed to get you in the best mood and will provide the best dance party you’ve ever had. I’ll just go ahead and say you’re welcome — YOU’RE WELCOME.


Filed under Blog Post 3, Country Pop, Lists, Music Videos

Country Music Hall of Fame: The Class of 2015 & 5 People who Still Haven’t Been Recognized

Note to students: You’re welcome to comment on this post for a grade.

HOF Class of 2015Earlier this week, the Country Music Hall of Fame formally welcomed its new class of inductees, which included the vocal harmony groups the Browns (in the Veterans Era category) and the Oak Ridge Boys (in the Modern Era category), as well as the iconic guitarist Grady Martin. At some point, the new members and the old members who attended the ceremony got together for the kind of photograph that my family takes after weddings and other family reunions. Looking at the picture, I had the following thoughts:

  • Of course Brenda Lee is sitting in Grady’s son’s lap. She’s 70 years old and still the queen of the “Christmas party hop.”
  • What a shame that Jim Ed Brown, the best known of the three Browns, couldn’t make it. At least the Hall of Fame had the heart to bring the medal to his hospital bed before he died.
  • For all the complaining I do about the Hall of Fame, I have to admit they made a great decision inducting Connie White. Despite the record-shattering success she had with “Once a Day” in 1964, she’s exactly the kind of woman performer that the Hall of Fame typically overlooks.
  • In this group, Vince Gill (58) and Garth Brooks (53) look like teenagers. Vince needs to shave.

I also couldn’t help but wonder about all the people without medals who were left to stand around eating cocktail weenies on toothpicks while the picture was being taken — among them Garth’s wife Trisha Yearwood and Connie’s husband Marty Stuart.

But Trisha and Marty are only two of many worthy performers who are still waiting for the Hall to welcome them in. Being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame wouldn’t mean anything if they let everybody in, and yet there are some exclusions that make me scratch my head more than others.

Here are five names that I would love to see recognized next year with plaques in that hallowed Nashville rotunda:

1. Rose Maddox

The Maddox Brothers and RoseRose Maddox led a storied career as a sassy country belle for more than 40 years. As the lead vocalist of the Maddox Brothers and Rose in the 1940s and 1950s, she helped invent rockabilly music, she popularized the flashy suits that everyone from Porter Wagoner to Marty Robbins would be wearing by the late 1960s, and she primed the live country scene in California for the likes of Wynn Stewart (also uninducted), Buck Owens, and Merle Haggard. As a soloist in the 1960s, she had several chart hits, and her influence can be heard in many of the women who followed her into the industry, among them Jean Shepard, Wanda Jackson, Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton — all of whom (but Wanda, see below) have beat poor Rose into the Hall of Fame. Seriously, what more can a gal do?

2. Skeeter Davis

In 1953, Skeeter Davis and her friend Betty Jack Davis made history as the first female group to hit #1 on the country charts with “I Forgot More than You’ll Ever Know about Him.” Their hopes of becoming a successful duo were dashed later that summer, when Betty Jack was killed in a car accident. A few years later, Skeeter re-emerged as a solo performer, and in the early 1960s she racked up a number of pop-country crossover hits including “The End of the World,” which is one of the decade’s most enduring songs in any genre. In the 1970s, she shed her image as an innocent girl singer and recorded edgier material including the anti-war song “One Tin Soldier.” Along with Dottie West she is one of the few major stars of the Nashville Sound era who hasn’t yet been recognized by the Hall of Fame.

3. Stonewall Jackson

While we’re on the subject of big stars from the 1960s who’re still waiting for their Hall of Fame plaques, let’s talk about Stonewall Jackson. As one might expect from a guy who was named after a Confederate general, Jackson brought an appreciation of history to some of his biggest hits, among them 1959’s “Waterloo,” which uses Napoleon’s defeat as an allegory for falling in love, and 1966’s “The Minutemen (Are Turning in Their Graves),” which draws a contrast between the American Revolution and the anti-Vietnam protests of the 1960s.

He hasn’t recorded a new album since the late 1970s, but he has continued to perform on the Grand Ole Opry. Why he hasn’t been inducted yet is anybody’s guess. Maybe it’s because the lawsuit he filed against the Opry in 2008 for age discrimination turned some powerful Nashvillians against him. Maybe it’s because the Hall of Fame knows that late night TV shows and The Onion will have a field day if it inducts an artist whose name conjures such strong images of the Confederate south. Whatever the hold-up is, I just hope the Hall gets over it while the guy’s still alive to enjoy it. The pictures of him attending other people’s induction ceremonies are heartbreaking.

4. Wanda Jackson

I fell in love with Wanda Jackson last year, when I caught her performing a live show at the Continental Club. Even at age 77, she was a ball of fire, shrieking like a sex-starved inmate during “Riot in Cell Block #9,” yodeling her way through “I Betcha My Heart I Love You,” and turning the heat up on Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good.” The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has rightfully recognized her contributions to rock music, but really, rock was a short detour for Jackson, who started her career singing country music and returned to country music when the rockabilly moment passed. In the 60s, she racked up an enviable number of Top 40 country hits, including “The Box It Came In” (1966) and “My Big Iron Skillet” (1969), which warned no-good husbands that their wives might do them in if they didn’t clean up their acts. As a sign of her versatility, Jackson has also recorded albums in German and Japanese.

5. Hank Williams, Jr.

Hank, Jr., has sold 70 million albums over the course of a career that began in in 1964 and shows no signs of stopping any time soon. With eleven #1 songs (and more than 30 others that reached the Top 10), he is, as my country blog-hero Trigger puts it, “the most decorated artist to not be in the Hall of Fame who has been eligible for an extended period.” I don’t care for the guy’s politics, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think he’s a major and positive influence on country music, or that the Hall hasn’t taken too long getting ’round to recognizing him. Make it a “Family Tradition,” y’all.

CMHOF-LogoWith the 2015 induction complete, the Country Music Hall of Fame can turn its attention to selecting the next three members to join its exclusive ranks. This country fan can only hope that when the new class is announced early next year that one of these five deserving names will finally be called.

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Filed under Awards, Class work, Hall of Fame, News, Women

Nashville’s Newest Stars: A Closer Look at the Dynamic Duo, Lennon & Maisy

lennonmaisy-4_3The casting directors of the hit show Nashville had a moment of genius when casting the roles of Rayna James’s daughters. They selected none other than the Canadian sisters Lennon and Maisy Stella. Who are they you might ask? Well, Lennon (16) and Maisy (12) started their singing career by performing covers for hit songs such as “Call Your Girlfriend” and “Ho Hey” on their YouTube channel. So, lets take a closer look at these young stars.

Born into a musical family, with both parents in the music business, the girls became interested in the music world from a very early age. Lennon even got her first guitar when she was five. Her father, an experienced guitarist taught her how to play and from then on she was hooked. The most surprising fact about the sisters is that neither of them has ever received lessons or professional vocal training, they both play numerous instruments and sing in two-part harmony without prior instruction. The girls have written songs together in their early years and played at various shows and festivals alongside their parents before being discovered by Nashville.

NASHVILLE - "Someday You'll Call My Name" - Rayna immerses herself in her kids' lives and her husband's campaign, and is sobered to learn that she and Teddy are facing financial ruin; Juliette offers Deacon an exclusive contract to write and tour with her; and Juliette's troubled mother, Jolene, re-enters her daughter's life in dramatic fashion. Meanwhile, Scarlett and Gunnar's big break with Watty is threatened, on "Nashville," WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 24 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/KATHERINE BOMBOY-THORNTON) LENNON STELLA, MAISY STELLAAlthough music was the girls’ true passion, Maisy had always been interested in acting and decided to try it out. She had been featured in several different commercials and music videos growing up so acting became her second love. When her agent became aware of a role in a new ABC show that was being filmed in Nashville, Maisy immediately saw it as a a sign and auditioned. During the final stages of the auditioning process, the casting agents discovered that Maisy had an older sister, Lennon, and decided that the girls would be a dynamic duo on the show. Lennon & Maisy began starring in the ABC drama Nashville in October 2012 and have become a nationwide hit. Their sweet and innocent sound as captivated viewers. They have truly become some of the most popular young artists in the Nashville scene. If you haven’t heard them sing before, trust me you will be listening for hours.

Their first hit, Lennon and Maisy’s cover of “Call Your Girlfriend” by Robyn and Erato showed their potential as artists and hooked viewers on their sound. Using empty containers of butter as musical instruments, the girls displayed an aspect of creativity that was hard to match.

Their cover of “I Wont Give Up” by Jason Mraz shows the range of their voices and the beauty of their two part harmony.

Finally Maisy’s performance of “Have a Little Faith in Me”, by John Hiatt, shows the 12 year olds ability to harmonize with any voice.

I hope you have become interested in these young artists, because trust me they are taking not only the country music world, but entire musical kingdom by storm.


Filed under Blog Post 4, Movies and TV, Nashville Sound, New Country, Women

A New Texas Country Performer To Look Out For

What do you think of when you picture West Texas? Something that comes to mind may be a straight road through the middle of no where with a speed limit of 85 or possibly a dark starry night with abandoned diners. That is what I thought of too until a few weekends ago. Now, I picture the beautiful Big Bend National Park and the welcoming people of Marathon, TX. This is an image that I am sure El Paso native and country music singer Abe Mac can agree on with me.

maxresdefaultThese days it is hard for artists to “make it big” and this under the radar musician is someone I want to share with ya’ll.

When first arriving to the Gage Hotel in Marathon, I was a little concerned that I could stand at one end of the town and see the other. But once discovering that there would be a live performer for dinner, I was satisfied. I had the privilege of eating a delicious meal while listening to Abe Mac perform for the restaurant. He grew up in far west Texas just minutes away from Rosa’s Cantina. Never heard of it? Well maybe you have heard of Marty Robbins’ song called “El Paso” where he says, “night-time would find me in Rosa’s Cantina.” Mac was not only inspired by Robbins, but also many other Texas country stars like George Strait and Merle Haggard. He can play drums, keyboard, and guitar. Throw out a song and he can make a beat and play. He had no back up band with him but was using a multi track song recorder to create his own band. He would record a few guitar chords and a beat with his fist on the body of the guitar and then start playing.

But, his original songs were even better.

Mac has released two albums, “My Kind of Friends” and “American Country,” and a single since 2013. He has a couple of music videos out as well. His songs range from an array of county music topics like tequila, whiskey, girls, family, and America. Going off of that last topic, his song “Far Away,” that is accompanied by a music video, is one of my favorites.

In this song he is singing from the point of view of a soldier. It discusses the troubles of coming home after being deployed. You can tell from the music video that he actually knows people who have experienced these troubles and cares about the topic. He actually works with the American Patriots non-profit organization to raise awareness for PTSD. This is a song he wrote, not something that a producer told him to just sing, which comes through in his performance. In fact, Mac is an unsigned independent artist who just loves to play his music.

While watching him perform he was just so happy to be up there entertaining people and connecting with the crowd. While he clearly has high hopes of making it big and playing at sold out venues, he loves what he does and is in it to make himself and his fans happy.


Filed under Blog Post 3, Texas

Thank You, Luke – A Country Night I’ll Never Forget

‘Do you think he’ll remember you?’ my mom called and asked me on Friday as I sat delayed in the Austin airport. After seeing Luke five times in concert, and getting to meet him once, she has come to realize when it comes to Luke my sisters and I don’t mess around.

I tried to explain to her Luke Bryan, the ACM and CMA reigning Entertainer of the Year, has performed for over a million people just this year, and would absolutely not recognize my sisters and I in a crowd. Our evening started around 5:00pm- a solid two hours before the first opener even came on. We staked out our spots in the pit and ended up standing in the same spot for about a solid six and a half hours- but it was more than worth it.Luke3

Luke busted out on stage like an energizer buddy, blasting “Kick the Dust Up”. Without missing a beat, he seamlessly transitioned into one of his oldest hits, and my personal favorite “All My Friends”. Sure, no Luke concert would be complete without some booty shaking, growling into the mike (I think only he can get away with that one), and some other funny but scripted moments.

In formal interviews, he’s a little more guarded now. After suffering another family tragedy, the loss of his brother-in-law (husband to the sister Luke lost almost 10 years ago), and wary of some reporters constantly trying to nail him with ‘Gotcha!’ questions about the bro-country debate, it’s not unexpected.Luke2

We saw how spontaneous he is on stage, when he’s in his element and in control doing what he loves. So many times he would just crack himself up about something, or he would bust out a move that no one else could have pulled off with pride unless they had a great sense of humor. We could even see him motioning to the sound crew to turn down the music volume- he can hold his great vocals on his own more than fine- shenanigans and all.

Oh, and one more thing. He can sing. Besides playing over 18 of his own songs, from “Rain is a Good Thing” and to “Strip it Down”, Luke went above and beyond to make the concert as fun and amusing as he himself is.

From DJ-ing “Apple Bottom Jeans” on the piano (only Luke), admitting that yes, he’s no Calvin Harris, to entertaining the crowd with a delightful discussion of the Whip, to killing it on the piano to one Alabama’s classic hits, to then rolling right into George Strait’s “The Chair”, beyond showcasing his mastery of the piano, Luke was making a much larger point.

No matter how many awards he racks up or how many albums he sells, slacking off as an entertainer isn’t something he’s interested in.

He brought out his opening acts again mid-concert, Dustin Lynch and Randy Houser, on stage for an awesome harmonization of “Sugar”- but not without some Moscow Mules and tequila. Luke created THE funniest and most fun concert environment I have ever been in.


The concert felt just as intimate as when he first performed at the Houston Rodeo as a nervously excited but energetic 34 year old. I attribute that not to a venue, manager, or set list- but to the performer. My 11-year-old sister put it best, ‘When I think of Luke Bryan, I just think he’s my buddy.’

History will determine his place in country music, bro-country debate included. As the Dallas Morning News wrote in their assessment, it seems like he’s put it behind him, regardless of what nitpicky skeptics still say. But for now, it’s his likability and love and talent for what he’s doing that has him on top.

So no, mom. In the pit as he leaned down and sang a double encore of Country Girl, he didn’t recognize us- unfortunate but not unexpected. But from how much fun he was having, and how his contagious humor and energy infected the whole performance and venue from start to finish, it sure felt like he did.


Filed under Blog Post 4, Concert