Author Archives: Tyler Dial

The CMAs, the Zac Brown Band, and the Other Side of the Stage

Editor’s note: This is an example of Blog Post #5.

On the week leading up to November 4th, I made sure I got all my assignments completed so I could clear my schedule on that Wednesday night to watch the entire CMA broadcast. This would be the second year of a tradition that I started with fellow classmate, Matt Wills. We only had one yet very serious rule: NO TALKING (okay maybe at a whisper but nonetheless, we had learned our lesson from last year).

FullSizeRenderAs the night went on, there were far more critiques of performances than there were appraisals; however, it was the best Country Music Awards broadcast I have seen because of one man: Chris Stapleton. Usually I’m a big fan of underdogs but that wasn’t the reason I was rooting for Stapleton that night. A few weeks before, Matt and I were lucky enough to experience the powerful vocalist at an intimate 200-person concert in New Braunfels. When he won Best New Artist of the Year, Matt and I cheered and hugged like our favorite team had just won the game in the last second of overtime. His victories that night, along with his Justin Timberlake performance, proved that country music still has soul. Chris’ triumph that night wasn’t just a personal triumph but also one for Country music.

One of my least favorite performances that night was from one of my all-time favorite artists, Zac Brown. Being such dedicated country fans as you have come to learn through our blog posts, Matt and I decided to give Zac another chance when he performed at the 360 amphitheater on November 8th. Although it wasn’t as intimate as Stapleton’s performance in New Braunfels, Brown put on a great show that showcased his versatility as a musician. He busted out crowd-pleasers like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Let It Be.” My favorite performance of the night was when he played “Colder Weather.” By the end of the night, I was so excited to have seen one of my musical heroes but to be honest; I was a little disappointed with the song selection. Adding several covers meant that Brown had to leave out originals like “Whatever It Is,” “Keep Me In Mind,” and my personal favorite off his new album, “Bittersweet.” Regardless of his song selection, it was a valuable experience learning and observing one of the best entertainers in the Country music format.

IMG_4175This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to fly to San Jose to see two Garth Brooks shows and to play a post-show concert for KRTY, a big San Jose Country station. While I could spend the rest of the blog describing the Garth show, I’m going to be a little selfish and talk about my show! The event was held at San Jose’s Broken Spoke, a honkytonk just like the one in Austin. Walking in through the back door, I had no idea what to expect. The place was packed. I went on stage, with just me and a guitar, after a full band. Not only was the band a tough act to follow, but so was everyone’s highlight of the night, Garth Brooks. I kicked off the solo set with an original, “Make Our Own Fun.” It was incredible to see people in the crowd immediately start two stepping. They picked it up each song as I went from “Good Directions” to my single “Damn Good Time” then to “Wagon Wheel.” I finished off the night with outstanding crowd reception of Garth’s “Friends In Low Places.” It was incredible witnessing the two-stepping experience from the other side of the stage. I was even able to sneak in a dance after my set.FullSizeRender-2


Filed under Awards, Blog Post 5, Reflection

What it’s Like to be a New Songwriter in Nashville

The day after my last final exam of the 2015 spring semester, I loaded up my car with my suitcases, guitars, random dormitory decorations, and made the sixteen-hour drive to Nashville, Tennessee. I have always wanted to live in Nashville and after I got a part-time internship for Toby Keith’s manager, I was able to convince my parents to let me move there for the summer. My naïve intention was to leave Nashville in August with a handful of hit songs in my back pocket.

11351395_10205190573347495_3932612438806027592_nI don’t think any Nashville newcomer has had a better first couple days than I did. On my second day, I met with John Marks, the highly regarded radio programmer for the Sirius XM station, The Highway. He agreed to put my single, “Damn Good Time” on the air! From that meeting, we walked into the building next door and met with John Huie, the head of the largest booking agency in the country, Creative Artists Agency. It was a great introduction and he agreed to keep an eye on my progress in Nashville and invited me to a big CAA event. I also had a meeting with Mike Dungan, the head of Universal Music Group Nashville, who also said he’d keep an eye on my progress. The next day, I recorded the vocals for “Damn Good Time” with the famous Nashville producer, Chuck Ainlay, who had just received a Grammy for his work on Miranda Lambert’s Platinum.

After my honeymoon week in Nashville, I quickly realized that success wasn’t going to fall in my lap. Reality had sunk in. I was a nineteen-year-old in a big city full of talented songwriters who, like me, were chasing after the same dream. It wasn’t until I joined the Nashville Songwriter’s Association International when I made my first big step. I brought my guitar into the back room of the building and played my songs for the new artist representative. She immediately fell in love with my music and began reaching out to other talented songwriters to connect me with. That night I went to NSAI’s pitch to a publisher event where I was able to meet many other Nashville newbies. I showed up to NSAI on time, which was a huge mistake. The line was out the door and I was stuck in the back next to a few old-timers who were still trying to get their big break on music row. I asked one of them where he got his boots and he jokingly responded, “Hey son that’s a good song idea.” A few weeks later, I co-wrote one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written, “Where’d You Get Those Boots?”

As time passed, I started playing at better-known songwriting venues, such as The Listening Room, and I started writing with better writers who had publishing deals like my friend, Morgan Dawson.


My first month in Nashville was very intimidating. The lows were very low and the highs were really high. My confidence quickly grew and I was able to find a unique sound. Songwriters assumed I was a lot older and were astonished when I told them I was nineteen. When August rolled around, I had made so much progress that people close to me in the industry told me to stick around. Although I didn’t want to leave, I was ready to come back to Austin with the songwriting tools I had acquired in Nashville. As I drove out of town, I had pocketful of new songs I’m still crazy about and I knew that that wasn’t the last Nashville would see of me.


Filed under Blog Post 4, Reflection

Chris Stapleton: A Night To Remember

I was driving ten miles an hour below the speed limit on the way to New Braunfels to see Chris Stapleton as the rain pounded the car windshield. Halfway there, I got an email saying the concert was still on but if you couldn’t make it, you would be reimbursed. The event was going to be outside at the River Road Ice House but instead the sound crew had to work mercilessly to move everything inside to give Stapleton and his fans the show they deserved.

Still a naive honky-tonk-goer, I rounded up my buddies to get to the Ice House at 6:00 immediately when the doors opened because why not show up early to get good spots to see Chris Stapleton?

I’ll tell you why.

When you buy a ticket, make sure you look at the number of opening bands. There were four. That’s four separate hour-long sets that you have to sit through before the main act goes on. For a brief moment, we questioned our commitment to guarding our spot with a perfect view; however, once the first band started playing, we knew the five hours of waiting for Chris Stapleton wouldn’t be too bad. The highlight of the openers was when Jason Eady and Adam Hood joined to form the Southern Brothers band. By the end of their set, the house was packed. People were shoulder to shoulder and the crowd was so massive that up people were watching from the outdoor patio in the rain.

Okay… Finally it was 10:00 and they began readying the stage for Chris Stapleton. We stood in the same spot for 4 hours. We were hot. Our legs were tired. And our heels ached from standing in our uncomfortable boots. It took another hour of setup and although our patience wavered, our excitement for Chris Stapleton didn’t. Did I mention that I was standing next to Jordan Shipley who also waited like us?

Almost exactly when the clock on my iPhone hit 11:00, a burly figure with a majestic beard and a perfectly weathered cowboy hat appeared to the side of the stage. You could tell he was an introvert as he kept his eyes steady on his feet as he walked onto the stage. His wife and background singer, Morgan Stapleton, strutted onto the stage after him, carrying a glass of red wine. The drummer and bass player followed. It was clear that Stapleton wasn’t much of an entertainer. He was going to let his music do the talking.

Stapleton kicked off the show with his attitude-filled “Nobody to Blame.” Immediately you could feel the chemistry between Chris and his wife as they held eye contact for half of the song. Next, he played his title track, “Traveller.” At this point in the show, you could tell that Chris and Morgan were shocked at the crowd response. They were wide-eyed a giggly. It was like it was the first time every single person in the audience knew every word to each song. Then came the song I was waiting for, “Fire Away.” The world stood still as Mr. and Mrs. Stapleton had me in the palms of their hands. I could’ve left after those three songs and the five-hour wait would have still been worth it.

By the end of the night, it was clear that all the critical acclaim Chris Stapleton has received this past year was truly deserved. I feel incredibly sorry for the people who decided not to fight the rain and come to the concert because they missed out on one of the most intimate concerts they’d ever see.

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Filed under Blog Post 3, Live Music

Charlie Worsham: Country Music’s Most Underrated Man

They say that timing and luck is the key to succeeding in the music business. Some of most talented artists go undiscovered while the money and the power of record labels can’t even guarantee an artist a successful debut. This is a concept that Warner Music recording artist, Charlie Worsham, knows all to well.

In and around the Nashville scene, Charlie Worsham is a common name. He released his debut album, Rubberband, in 2013 but before that, he was in a popular unsigned Nashville band named KingBilly. Courtney Allen, a new member representative at the Nashville Songwriter’s Association International, once told me about when she used to watch KingBilly at Whiskey Row, a local music row bar. Worsham wasn’t the singer, or even the lead guitar player but she said everyone could tell his was a star. He played various instruments from rhythm and lead guitar, background harmonies, mandolin, banjo, piano, etc… He first got his start in country music when he played the Grand Ole Opry at twelve years old as a banjo player. He then built on his incredible musical talents by studying at the famous Berklee College of Music in Boston. After KingBilly broke up in 2012, Worsham decided to pursue a solo career. He has since opened for the likes of Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, Sam Hunt, Kip Moore and Wade Bowen. He has even sold out the Grand Ole Opry multiple times. His debut album featured a song called “Tools of the Trade ” that included Nashville legends Vince Gill and Marty Stuart. The fact that these two icons agreed to be on his album just vindicated the fact that Worsham is special.

I remember first hearing Worsham’s debut single, “Could It Be,” on the radio and absolutely loving it. It was a brilliantly crafted song that captured the feeling of best friends turning into lovers. Although it peaked at twenty-eight on the US Country Chart, that doesn’t fully represent how good the song actually is! At the time, Worsham was Country Aircheck’s most-added male artist in a debut week, a record that Sam Hunt went on to break. This proves that even radio programmers across the country had faith in Worsham and his music. Perhaps it was just bad timing. Things got worse for Worsham after his second single, “Want Me Too,” only reached number forty-six on the Country Chart. He hasn’t had another single since.

Worsham is the kind of artist that every musician strives to be. He has lead guitar skills that can hang with Keith Urban, he has a live show that can match any professional touring act, he can produce like any well-known producer in Nashville, and to top it all off, he is a prolific songwriter as seen in his appearances in Bob DiPiero’s CMA Songwriters Series. In an age of country music that is tarnished with ear candy and non meaningful lyrics, Charlie Worsham should be a bigger symbol of hope for music lovers. All we can hope for is that country radio gives this underdog more chances to show the world what he’s capable of.

Other must-listen-to songs include:
“Love Don’t Die Easy”

“Young to See”

“Trouble Is”

“How I Learned to Pray”

“Break What’s Broken”


Filed under Blog Post 2, Live Music, Uncategorized

How I Found Country Music and Learned That Everything Happens for a Reason

People who lose faith when their prayers don’t come true can be very misguided. When they lose an athletic game, don’t get the girl of their dreams, or don’t get a job they apply for, it’s very easy to turn away from God. Through family, faith, and country music, I have learned to keep a positive outlook when things don’t go the way I plan.

From a young age, my family ingrained in me the saying “everything happens for a reason.” I didn’t just learn that lesson from my parents, however. I learned it from the music they played. Some of my first memories were sitting in my car seat listening to Tim McGraw, the Dixie Chicks, and Garth Brooks. I specifically remember asking my dad if every country singer was Garth Brooks because I thought they all sounded the same. As I grew older, I maintained an affinity for country while my friends listened to pop and hip hop. There weren’t many country fans in Arizona and if you had asked my friends who Garth Brooks was, they would’ve had no idea. They would have never heard my all-time-favorite song, “Unanswered Prayers.”

26e0af03a250d3d93a4725b1c581c6be.1000x1000x1Although many country songs have taught me valuable life lessons, there hasn’t been one that has impacted me as much as Brooks’ “Unanswered Prayers.” It was always one of my favorite songs but the significance of the lyrics didn’t hit me until I started writing songs myself. I had the same feelings about a girl in high school that Garth did in his song. It helped me get through that. It also helped me overcome obstacles and disappointments like losing a state championship. Although the song is about a girl, I quickly learned it translates to all aspects of life. In the song, Brooks tells a story about how bad he wanted a girl in high school and if he’d have married her, he wouldn’t have met his wife today. In the second verse, Garth sings about how his “old flame” “wasn’t quite the angel” he remembered in his dreams. By the end of the song, the listener is convinced how lucky Garth was that God didn’t answer his prayer to marry his high school crush. He hits home with the hook of the chorus and arguably the greatest line ever written, “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

If it wasn’t for my family, I probably would have never been influenced by songs like “Live Like You Were Dying,” “Never Wanted Nothin’ More,” and “Stupid Boy.” If it wasn’t for songs like “Unanswered Prayers,” I would probably think country music is just about beer, the south, and tailgate parties. It’s fair to say I would be a completely different person if I didn’t have my family, faith, and country music.


Filed under Blog Post 1