Category Archives: Awards

Unexpected Influences

Note: This is an example of Blog Post 5.

Country music has been a huge influence on me as a person ever since I can remember. Everyone knows that I am passionate about the genre and constantly listen to it throughout each day. The genre has instilled beliefs and values into me that make me the man I am today, and I am thankful for that. I will even go as far as to say I would be a much different person if I had never adopted listening to country music. Although I have been around country music all my life, I still have a lot to learn from it. When I signed up for this class I expected to learn a lot about the genre, but wasn’t sure specifically what it would be.

PATThe first activity I completed this semester was to go see a live country show. I have been to so many country concerts in my life, and didn’t think this one would be any different. The only thing I did differently at this concert was to be aware of how this environment influenced me at that particular moment. The concert I chose to attend was a Pat Green concert here in Austin at the Fiesta Gardens. The concert was smaller than a usual Pat Green concert, because he was playing for a student organization to help them raise money for charity. The concert was as anyone would expect. People dressed in jeans and cowboy hats, and of course beer and fried food were being sold. What this concert taught me was how important a good venue is for a concert. The Fiesta Gardens is an open-air venue surrounded by a large lawn, setting the perfect tone for country music. The barn like feel gets you excited to hear country music, and the food and drinks that are available also set a good tone. When picking concerts to go to I now research the venue beforehand to see if looks fitting, I would recommend doing this.

COUPLANDThe second activity I completed was to go two stepping at a dancehall. I went to The Old Coupland Dancehall in Coupland, Texas. I went just last week, and there was a small country cover band playing. It is safe to say I have two left feet, and openly despise dancing. Despite that, I was forced onto the dance floor at the beginning of the night for what felt to be the longest three songs of my life. What this experience taught me was that you do not have to be listening to a big name singer to enjoy a dancehall. This cover band was a local Austin cover band that no one knows; yet I still had a great time. Now I am confident that I can go into a small dancehall on a random night when a local band is playing. After all I could have just as much fun doing that as I do seeing a famous artist.

Last Sunday I ended my semester activities by watching the Academy of Country Music Awards. The event was held in Las Vegas this year and hosted by Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley. When I watched the awards I noticed how many people it takes to make an album or send a star on tour. During the acceptance speeches the artists often spoke of many names that I did not recognize that helped them earn the award. All the fans hear about is the stars, not about the producer who is working long hours to make sure the album is perfect. We also don’t hear about band managers or the guys that are working behind the scenes at a concert. These people are just as important and need more recognition.

All in all I have learned more about country music this semester than I would have ever imagined. It is something I enjoy learning about, and am eager to learn more. I have now realized I have so much more to learn, its just a matter of opening my eyes and looking at the music and its surrounding in more depth. I am excited to continue my journey of learning about country music, and cant wait to see what else the genre has to offer me.


Filed under Austin, Awards, Blog Post 5, Dancing, Texas

Flashback to My First Favorite Country Song

The American Country Music awards ceremony for 2016 will take place tomorrow night, Sunday, April 3rd. Or if you’re reading this after that date, well then, you can bet they’ve already happened! I’m just waiting to see if Rascal Flatts will win Vocal Group of the Year again – because if they win, this will be their eighth ‘Vocal Group’ trophy. And they’re already the current record holders for most wins in that category!

Rascal Flatts first ACM Awards win

In this picture of them holding up their trophies at last year’s ceremony, the lead singer (Gary LeVox) is on the left. He’s definitely aged since I started listening to Rascal Flatts back when “Life Is a Highway” was their biggest hit nearly a decade ago. My sister had shared this song and another one by Rascal Flatts with me back then, even though I had told her repeatedly that my then pre-teen self wasn’t into country music.

Well, after I listened to that song a couple of times (and found myself humming the catchy tune without even thinking about it), I thought that maybe I should give country music more of a try.  The other song she shared with me though is the one that, for whatever reason, really made me love the genre, and that song is… “Mayberry”, which was released in 2002.

The funny thing is that until I had heard this song (and “Life Is a Highway” for that matter), I believed my friends who said that country music was only about girls, trucks, and beer  – three things I wasn’t too interested in at the young age of 11. But after hearing “Mayberry”  when my sister shared it with me, it became one of my favorites. And it still is to this day.

I loved the lead singer’s smooth voice and the catchy background vocals of the song, but more than that, the lyrics are what made this song my gateway into country music. Just like I did back then, I’ll occasionally listen to “Mayberry” when I get stressed out, wishing my Sundays were “a day of rest / not one more day – for progress.” I’ll listen to it when I’m driving through the countryside, passing by small towns and wondering if those were places where “people pass by / and you call them by their first names.” As someone who’s only ever lived in the heart of traffic-filled Austin, I wonder what it would be like to live in a small Mayberry-like town – the type of place with a slow enough  pace for “sitting on the front porch / drinkin’ ice cold cherry coke / watchin’ the clouds go by,” instead of the cars.

People interacting downtown in the fictional city of Mayberry, which was just a set for The Andy Griffith Show

Even though Mayberry is a fictional small town, the song just seemed so real to me back then. And it’s been giving me at least a mental escape from the hustle and bustle of big city life every time I’ve listened to it since then. It’s truly the song that got me listening to more country music, namely artists like Lonestar and Toby Keith that my sister also showed me a little while later. Ever since “Mayberry”, I realized that country music had a way of allowing me to be introspective and just get lost in a song. That’s one of the things about country music that keeps me coming back to listen to more.


Filed under Awards, Blog Post 3, Rascal Flatts, Reflection

Country Music Forever

It’s really interesting how country music has had such a big impact on my life growing up, especially since I’ve lived in the south my entire life. It wasn’t until I moved to Texas when I was 11 years old that I actually fell in love with the genre. Country music has a deep history in Texas and popularized some of the best country artists to this day (and my favorite, George Strait). From the places I’ve been to the shows I currently watch, the country music lifestyle is continuing to influence my life in pretty subtle ways. I love this class because it has really made me appreciate my loyalty to this genre.



I went to Threadgill’s a few weeks ago with my friend not knowing much about it other than the fact that it was another Austin hot spot. You walk into the restaurant and there are pictures all over the walls of some of greatest artists throughout the history of country music. Country music lover Kenneth Threadgill opened the restaurant in 1933. Fun Fact: he was the first person to own a beer license in the county. Janis Joplin even made a few appearances in the restaurant. If you want to experience live country music while eating good ole’ southern cooking, Threadgill’s is the best place to go.

Nashville (TV Show)


I started watching this television show as soon as it aired on ABC in 2012. The show stars Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere and focuses on their character’s clashing careers. Country superstar Rayna James (Britton) struggles to uphold her career with the contemporary direction country music is heading. Her stardom starts fading when Juliette Barnes (Panettiere) becomes the hot new star, appealing to the younger audience. There’s a lot of speculation if the show is based off real life situations that have happened in country music. Maybe Rayna represents Faith Hill’s diminishing career as rising country star Carrie Underwood, played out as Juliette Barnes, comes into the scene. Because Hill and Underwood had rumors swirling several years ago about tension between the two, maybe the creators based their lead characters off their public debacle. Regardless, I am a huge fan of this show and all the drama that is played out on the screen. It really shows the struggle of making it big in the industry, and it even features the renowned Blue Bird Café where several big-time artists were discovered.

2015 CMA Awards

chris and luke

I have been tuning into the CMA Awards for as long as I have been a country music fan. All of my favorite artists coming together to show-off their best work is my favorite awards show of the year. The show has been hosted by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood since 2008, and as their careers are better than ever, I don’t see them slowing down. The Entertainer of the Year award of course went to Luke Bryan, the hottest singer in country music today. Female Vocalist of the Year went to Miranda Lambert while Vocal Duo of the Year went to Florida Georgia Line. It seems that country music is starting to accept a pop sound and these successful singers are focused on creating crossover hits. Probably the biggest shock of the night happened when Chris Stapleton won Male Vocalist of the Year. His debut album was released in May, and he walked away with three awards that night. This is an artist I think all country fans can get excited about. He’s bringing back the traditional country sound with his hits like “Tennessee Whiskey” (which he performed with Justin Timberlake on the show) and “Traveller.” With all the mainstream country music, I’m glad to see that people will still appreciate the classic sound that popularized the genre through the 80s and 90s. Chris Stapleton won some incredible awards that night for someone who has only been on the radio for a few months. Who knows, maybe Chris Stapleton will be the next George Strait.

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Filed under Austin Food, Awards, Blog Post 5, Country Pop, Movies and TV

Chris Stapleton Is Killing The Country Music Scene

One of my favorite performances performed at the CMA Awards this year, which almost all would agree, was Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey”. Written by Dean Dillon and Linda Hargrove, this song was originally sung by one the most famous country music outlaws, David Allan Coe.

In the early 80s, George Jones also released a version of “Tennessee Whiskey”, reaching #2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. His version was made popular from what most considered him to have had a very distinct voice. Compared to Coe, Jones voice is much more soft, conveying a sense of compassion and more personable than Coe.

But my favorite version of “Tennessee Whiskey”, performed by male vocalist of the year and new artist of the year, Chris Stapleton. His blues-ey sound gives this song just what it needs to make its listeners turn this song on full blast while listening to it. The harmonization between Stapleton, Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton’s wife, Morgane Stapleton gives it that blues feeling, not to mention the saxophone and trumpets in the background. This performance is one that will go down in country music history. I should also mention that Justin Timberlake’s, “Drink You Away” was followed by, “Tennessee Whiskey”, which also brought the audience to their feet. It was truly a performance of a lifetime.

Although Stapleton is just starting to gain recognition as a solo artist, Chris Stapleton has actually written many famous songs most of us have heard, “Love’s Gonna Make It Alright” sung by George Strait and “Come Back Song”, sung by Darius Rucker. He has proven himself as a great song writer and now we have seen his capacity as a performer which has catapulted him into the country music world. His album “Traveller, was awarded album of the year at the CMA’s this year, something his listeners should have expected nothing less because of his talents and great singing career.

chris and justinSo many people are claiming that Chris Stapleton is doing one heck of a job in putting country music back in country music and I could not agree more. I am tired of hearing this “rapping country music” on the radio – sorry Sam Hunt. So, Chris Stapleton – we applaud you and thank you for bringing back and incorporating country music’s roots into your songs. I look forward to learning more of your songs and cannot wait for another album.


Filed under Awards, Blog Post 4

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