Rascal Flatts Previews Stellar Tracks From ‘Back To Us’ On Westin Rooftop

Pictured (L-R): Brian Wolf (Maverick Management), Joe Don Rooney, Scott Borchetta (BMLG), Gary LeVox, Clarence Spalding (Maverick Management), Jay DeMarcus. Photo: Katie Kauss

On the eve of their 10th studio album release, Back To Us, superstar vocal group Rascal Flatts performed for a private industry and fan event atop Nashville’s Westin L27 Rooftop.

Among Thursday’s (May 18) crowd were songwriters who contributed many of the project’s titles in addition to Big Machine Label Group’s A&R maven Allison Jones, who received several shout-outs.

“Throughout the years we have been fortunate to get our hands on some of the best songs from the best songwriters in the world, and they live right here in Nashville,” said Jay DeMarcus. “We really couldn’t do it without you so thank you. And thank you for supporting us for 18 years.”

“So let’s get back to writing for album 11,” quipped Gary LeVox before leading in to “Life is a Highway,” the group’s only previously released title they performed, which was also not written by Nashville writers.

“Did anyone else see the irony in big speech about the greatest songwriters and we go in to ‘Life is a Highway?'” admitted a humorous DeMarcus after the performance.

“It takes about two years to birth a CD baby,” noted Joe Don Rooney. “A big thank you to Allison Jones, Scott Borchetta and the whole label staff who allowed us the autonomy to take our time.”

Rascal Flatts Back To Us album release party. Photo: Katie Kauss

The lighthearted performance on this beautiful, balmy late spring evening featured album standouts, including the project’s first single “Yours if You Want It” (Andrew Dorff, Jonathan Singleton), “Back To Us” (Cary Barlowe, David Hodges, Josh Thompson) and “Vandalized” (Luke Laird, Chris Stapleton), which Levox remarked, “Chris Stapleton sang the demo on this one and it was a little intimidating.”

“It’s tough with great singers like Chris, or even Shay [Mooney, who was in the audience and has two cuts on Back To Us],” continued DeMarcus on a continued humorous note. “You get the demos in and you go, ‘I don’t know if that [song] is a piece of shit and its so great the way they sang it…'”

The event also featured “I Know You Won’t,” a Steve McEwan, Wendell Lee Mobley and Neil Thrasher cut, which Carrie Underwood had previously recorded on her second studio album. “This is a great song and always has been,” commented DeMarcus. “A lot of people don’t realize this but it was pitched to us way back in the day. We for some reason said no to it. Gary was somewhere with Wendell and Wendell was playing it on his acoustic and said, ‘I got a new demo and think you guys should cut this song.’ It’s an incredible song with an incredible lyric and great melody. I love it when Mr. LeVox gets ahold of a song like this.”

Meghan Trainor Receives Vanguard Award At ASCAP Pop Awards

Pictured (L-R): Jasmine Thompson, ASCAP President Paul Williams, Meghan Trainor, ASCAP CEO Beth Matthews and ASCAP EVP of Membership John Titta at the 2017 ASCAP Pop Awards. Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for ASCAP

Meghan Trainor was presented with the prestigious ASCAP Vanguard Award during Thursday night’s (May 18) 34th Annual ASCAP Pop Music Awards at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles. The award recognizes the impact of songwriters who are shaping the future of American music, and in addition to her 2015 breakout hit, “All About That Bass,” and two multi-platinum albums Title and Thank You, Trainor penned hits in 2016 for Rascal Flatts, Lauren Alaina, Jennifer Lopez, Fifth Harmony, and more.

During the ceremony Trainor was honored by Marcus Miller with a performance of “All About That Bass” and a surprise appearance by Jasmine Thompson, performing “Like I’m Going to Lose You” and her new Trainor-penned single, “Old Friends.” The Vanguard Award has previously gone to artists including The All-American Rejects, Arcade Fire, Band of Horses, Beastie Boys, Beck, Björk, Sara Bareilles, Diplo, fun., Jack Johnson, The Killers, Kendrick Lamar, Modest Mouse, The Strokes, St. Vincent and Walk the Moon.

Max Martin was named Songwriter of the Year for an unprecedented 10th time during the evening, recognizing his role in crafting many of the past year’s hits, including “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” (Justin Timberlake), “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” (Adele), and “Just Like Fire” (P!nk). ASCAP Pop Song of the Year went to “Love Yourself,” written by Justin Bieber. And songwriter Diane Warren was honored with the prestigious ASCAP Founders Award during the ceremony and two stunning live tributes: LeAnn Rimes singing “How Do I Live,” and Jacob Latimore performing “Have You Ever.” In a surprise appearance, rapper Snoop Dogg, a past Warren collaborator, presented her with the award.

Sony/ATV was named Publisher of the Year for their role in 2016 hits like “Cheap Thrills” (Sia), “Don’t Let Me Down” (The Chainsmokers ft. Daya) and  “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” (Mike Posner). Posner honored Sony/ATV with a live performance of “I Took a Pill in Ibiza.” BMG took Independent Publisher of the Year for hits like “Hide Away” (Daya), “Work from Home” (Fifth Harmony), and “On My Mind” (Ellie Goulding). A full list of winners from the evening can be found here.

LeAnn Rimes performs onstage at the 2017 ASCAP Pop Awards. Photo: Lester Cohen/Getty Images for ASCAP

Weekly Chart Report (5/19/17)

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Reba, Maren Morris Among Honorees At Music Biz 2017 Luncheon

Pictured (L-R): CEO of Big Machine Records Scott Borchetta; Lukas Graham’s Magnus Larsson; Reba McEntire; Maren Morris; and Lukas Graham’s Lukas Forchhammer and Mark Falgren. Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Music Business Association

The Music Biz celebrated the final day of its third Nashville conference on Thursday, May 18 with its Awards Luncheon.

Honorees Reba McEntire (Chairman’s Award for Sustained Creative Achievement), Maren Morris (Breakthrough Artist), Paula Abdul (Harry Chapin Memorial Humanitarian Award) and Lukas Graham also receiving (Breakthrough Artist). Other presentations were made to honor Adele (Artist of the Year)—accepted by Darren Stupak, Sony Music Entertainment’s EVP/GM, Sales—and the Hamilton Original Cast Recording and Hamilton Mixtape (Outstanding Achievement Award)—accepted by Atlantic’s Pete Ganbarg, EVP of A&R.

BuzzAngle Music’s Jim Lidestri, host of the luncheon, welcomed the crowd to the Renaissance Nashville’s Grand Ballroom.

“I took this award as I’m the oldest one here,” said McEntire. “Music Business is my life, it’s been very good to me. I’m a third generation rodeo brat and I came to Nashville and I thought, ‘What if they’re not nice?’ ‘What if it’s a cutthroat business.’ I met the nicest people who nurtured me and took me under their wing. It took six years to have a No. 1 record and I’m thankful that I was in that era where they had patience with me… I’m not through yet, because this is too good of a family and business to walk away from after a little bit of success. The No. 1 reason I [love this business] is because of y’all.”

“I live five minutes away so this is really nice,” joked Morris. “The word ‘breakthrough’ reminds me this is not an overnight process. It’s been almost 20 years of me touring and I wasn’t breaking through a damn thing so it’s really cool to have this now. I didn’t really have a typical trail paved to get here. I didn’t know things like Spotify could break you through as an artist and my label Sony has believed in me from the really early stages.”

Pictured (L-R): Chairman of Music Biz, Facebook Fred Beteille; Maren Morris; President of Music Biz James Donio; and CEO of BuzzAngle Music Jim Lidestri. Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Music Business Association


Pictured (L-R): Poet and songwriter Sandra Chapin; Paula Abdul; and President of Music Biz James Donio. Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Music Business Association

Abdul—who has hit the road for the first time in 25 years, performing in Nashville the previous night (May 17)—confessed the Bridgestone reception brought her to tears. “There was a reason I was on [American Idol],” said Abdul. “It was an incredible experience seeing these rare jewels get up and do what they do, not understanding at first that it’s a TV show—putting themselves out there with extreme bravado, dignity and grace—letting the world and panel judge them. My whole life has been about conquering people who judge. I’m a mentor, I’ve never been a judge because people are beautiful and should be allowed to operate in their unique ability.”

Denmark’s trio Lukas Graham remarked on the humbling recognition. “Coming from a very small country and me growing up in a house without a bathroom until I was six years old, it’s quite unique to stand on a stage like this,” said Lukas Forchhammer.

Music Biz President James Donio concluded the event, echoing McEntire’s sentiments. “This has been a really incredible week and last couple of years [in Nashville]. Moving the convention is like moving a steamliner—and it’s not easy. But bringing this event to Nashville has created a new family. Music Biz really feels like it is linked to this community in Nashville. Stay tuned for details about next year.”

A previous awards breakfast was held on Wednesday, May 17, hosted by CMA to honor Mike Dungan (Presidential Award for Outstanding Executive Achievement), Terry Currier (Independent Spirit Award) with a performance by Little Big Town and presentation from Nashville Mayor Megan Barry.

Music Biz Conference Gives In-Depth Look At International Touring, Kelly Clarkson Talks ‘The Voice’

Music’s Leading Ladies Speak Out

Pictured (L-R): Atlantic Records Group chairman and COO Julie Greenwald, Senior Vice President of Music Strategy for CMT Leslie Fram, Red Light Management/Independent A&R Consultant Tracy Gershon, singer-songwriter Kelly Clarkson, CEO/President, Cosynd/Women In Music Jessica Sobhraj, Country Music Association CEO Sarah Trahern, and Sr. VP & GM, Nielsen Music Erin Crawford. Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Music Business Association

Various panels held during the 2017 Music Biz conference touched on topics ranging from touring to mentoring to The Voice.

Atlantic Records’ Julie Greenwald and Kelly Clarkson were welcomed by NPR’s Ann Powers during the 2017 Music Biz Conference for the panel Creative Partnerships, to discuss Clarkson’s recent deal with Atlantic Records and her upcoming album, which she calls more soulful and urban than her previous releases.

Clarkson discussed her early career dreams, and revealed that she originally wanted to be a backup singer. “That didn’t work out, but that was my goal. Because I thought, ‘They get to sing with a ton of artists, but they don’t have to do all the famous stuff.’ It didn’t work out, but it worked out.”

‘She also talked about her upcoming stint as a judge on The Voice, alongside Blake Shelton. Clarkson’s husband Brandon Blackstock also manages Shelton. “I love working with Blake. We love giving each other shit, so it’s going to be really fun for me.”

She also discussed what first intrigued her about The Voice.

“Literally, since the show started, I remember when Blake started on the show, even before it was on, my manager was telling me how it is set up. I was like, ‘Wait, you don’t see them? I could turn around and it could be someone completely different.’ As a singer that has a lot of things that get in the way in the press, it’s very nice for it to just be about the voice. It’s just about the talent and the storytelling. It’s not just about a great voice, it’s about a voice that tells a story. It has to move you to turn the chair. I’m so excited to do that. I have a very unique vantage point as well because I’ve been them.”

Greenwald also discussed her own career history, which began in 1992 when she joined Def Jam Records as Lyor Cohen‘s executive assistant. Ten years later, she was named president of Island Records, becoming one of only three women at the time to hold that title at a major record label. In 2004, she was named president of Atlantic Records and was named Chairman/COO in 2009.

In the following panel segment, The Life and Work of a High-Powered Female Executive, welcomed music industry executives including Sarah Trahern (CMA), Tracy Gershon (Red Light Management), and Jessica Sobhraj (Cosynd/Women In Music) discussed the importance of mentoring in the music industry. The panel was moderated by CMT’s Leslie Fram.

Pictured (L-R): Writer Ann Powers, Atlantic Records Group chairman and COO Julie Greenwald, and singer-songwriter Kelly Clarkson. Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Music Business Association


Thomas Rhett: Breaking an International Act

Akiko Rogers. Photo: Music Business Association

On Wednesday, May 17, the conference looked at the impact of international branding and efforts to expand country music into international markets. The efforts behind breaking BMLG’s Thomas Rhett on an international level with his manager were explored during a panel featuring Rhett’s manager Virginia Davis of G Major Management, as well as Jimmy Chapin from Big Machine Label Group, Anna-Sophie Mertens from Live Nation UK, Akiko Rogers from William Morris Endeavor Entertainment (WME) and moderator Billboard contributor Phyllis Stark.

Rhett’s first UK trip came in March 2016 for the Country Music Association/Live Nation Country 2 Country festival, which he followed up with a media trip in May 2016 and a string of shows in the UK in late 2016. This year, he returns to the UK for shows in larger venues.

Chapin spoke to the factors that help decide what artists will work in certain international markets.

“A lot of it happens organically, you see certain reactions before an artist has even been in that market. Thomas was one of those artists where sales numbers, streaming, radio had been picking up before we had even been to the market. So once he got over there it really was able to take off.”

Rogers spoke to the challenges of taking an established artist overseas and emphasized the benefits of focusing on international markets early in a career, when it can be a bit easier financially to explore international markets.

“You have to have the commitment to go over there. You have artists in the United States who are used to playing arenas and amphitheaters and it’s basically going over there and starting over,” said Rogers. “They have production and a big overhead. It’s special for them as well. It kind of brings you back to your roots.”

“Once you become a headliner in the US, you have a different level of overhead and it’s difficult to bear the burden of the cost it takes to go backward and build a fanbase and take the time,” Davis added. “It is an investment and it does cost money.”

The panel spoke of the importance of planning ahead and visiting an international market frequently to build an impression and grow audience sizes. “It’s a huge investment to go over there, so if you do, why wait three years when you are going to play venues the same size you did when you were there last time?” said Rogers.

Chapin spoke to the obstacles in marketing music in international markets such as the UK and Australia, versus the United States.

“Country radio format is a US thing. Australia has somewhat of a market, but in the UK, radio is genre agnostic. So we have to find ways to fit a country artist like Thomas in a pop format or a genre-less format. So that is one hurdle to overcome. Australia has a bit of a country market so his songs are played on the country radio stations down there and his videos are played on their Country Music Channel. They don’t have that here [in the UK], so you kind of have to go around that.”

Music Biz 2017 Conference continues through today, May 18.


Industry Ink: Levon, Buffkin/Baker, Exegan Media & Entertainment

Levon Celebrates Release of Debut EP

Pictured (L-R): Jim Catino, SVP, A&R, Sony Music Nashville; Levon’s producer Jamie Houston, GB Productions; Ken Robold, EVP/COO, Sony Music Nashville; Levon’s Jake Singleton, Michael David Hall and Ryan Holladay; Sony Music Nashville’s Chairman/CEO Randy Goodman, VP of Digital Strategy Ed Rivadavia, EVP of Promotion & Artist Development Steve Hodges, SVP of Columbia Nashville Promotion Shane Allen and EVP of Marketing & New Business John Zarling. Photo: Matt Berinato

In celebration of the release of their self-titled five-song debut EP this week, new country group Levon performed at a 12th & Porter showcase in Nashville. Currently on a nationwide country radio tour, the Columbia Nashville/Epic Records trio will release their first single to radio this summer.


WTW Associates Merges With Buffkin/Baker

WTW Associates, an executive search firm specializing in media, entertainment, technology and law has merged with Buffkin/Baker. WTW Associates, based in New York, will now be part of Buffkin/Baker’s entertainment/media practice, and will integrate into Buffkin/Baker’s New York office operations.


Exegan Media & Entertainment Renews Deal With The Orchard

Las Vegas-based Exegan Media & Entertainment has renewed its deal with independent distributor, The Orchard. The multi-year digital distribution deal continues The Orchard’s distribution of Exegan’s wholly-owned label catalogs, including Novelty Sounds, Herb Recordings, Gateway Recordings, Jake Records, and Nashville properties Silverado Records and Poison Tree Records.

SunTrust’s 19th Annual Hot Dog Day Set For June 8

The 19th Annual SunTrust Hot Dog Day will take place Thursday, June 8, 2017 at the SunTrust Music Row location.

The free event will be held from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and feature entertainment provided by Warner/Chappell music publishing.

SunTrust Music Row is located at 1026 17th Ave. S.

The lineup for the 2017 event includes:

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Corey Kent White
Jimi Bell
Sam Hatmaker

1:00 – 2:00 PM
Brad Clawson
Taylor Phillips
Lonnie Fowler

Liz Rose Celebrates Release Of ‘Swimming Alone’ With Nashville Party

Pictured (L-R): BMI’s Jody Williams, Leslie Roberts and Alison Smith, BMI singer-songwriter Liz Rose and BMI’s Nina Carter and MaryAnn Keen. Photo: Steve Lowry

BMI songwriter Liz Rose gathered with friends, family and fans at Nashville venue The Country on Wednesday, May 17 to celebrate her new album, Swimming Alone. Rose was joined on stage by BMI songwriter Lori McKenna for a special performance of selected tracks from the album.

“First I never thought I would do it,” Rose told MusicRow recently about the project. “All these ideas started coming to me and I think ‘Swimming Alone’ was the first title. I also had ‘Grocery Money’ and ‘Yellow Room.’ I thought, ‘These are such good titles, but they are really my story,’ and I just don’t think I could use those titles and write about anything but me.” The intensely personal album released May 12.

Rose welcomed a who’s-who of her closest songwriting friends on the album, including McKenna, Stephony Smith, Caitlyn Smith, Natalie Hemby, Lisa Carver, and more. Mac McAnally produced the album.

(L-R): BMI songwriters and Love Junkie members Lori McKenna and Liz Rose with Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild and Love Junkie songwriter Hillary Lindsey. Photo: Steve Lowry


BMI songwriters Lori McKenna and Liz Rose perform at the Swimming Alone release party. Photo: Steve Lowry

Artists Salute Georgia At Fourth Annual Concert At Ryman

“We pick Georgia!” Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal join the Peach Pickers (Ben Hayslip, Dallas Davidson, and Rhett Akins) on the Peach Carpet before the start of “Georgia On My Mind” Tuesday at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

The Ryman Auditorium may be one of Tennessee’s most iconic entertainment venues, but on Tuesday evening (May 16), it was all about Georgia as songwriting trio the Peach Pickers’ Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson and Ben Hayslip hosted the Fourth Annual Jameson Irish Whiskey Presents Georgia On My Mind concert, benefitting the Georgia Music Foundation.

Dallas Davidson took the stage, with Hayslip and Akins following moments later. “This is how our writing appointments go, except usually Ben shows up first, and then Rhett,” Davidson quipped. The trio performed several chart-toppers they penned, including “All About Tonight” and “Honeybee” (Blake Shelton) and “Huntin’, Fishin’, and Lovin’ Every Day”(Luke Bryan). For songwriters who spend perhaps the majority of their time in writing rooms, the trio was clearly at home onstage, surrounded by a crowd of fellow Georgians ready to party in support of their homestate.

They had plenty of fellow artists ready to help with that endeavor. Newcomers Cole Taylor, Jon Langston and Trea Landon, as well as Georgia luminaries including T. Graham Brown, Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, Georgia band Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, Wet Willie’s Jimmy Hall, Dexter Redding and Otis Redding III (sons of soul icon Otis Redding) all performed.

Lauren Alaina on the “Georgia On My Mind” Peach Carpet Tuesday night at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Photo: Getty Images

Lauren Alaina offered a pristine rendition of her recent first chart-topping hit “Road Less Traveled.” Kip Moore captured the audience with his acoustic, sensual rendition of “That Was Us.” Michael Ray offered “Think A Little Less,” and Billy Currington sang the classic “Georgia On My Mind.”

A few non-Georgians also came out to support for the event. California native Jon Pardi offered his recent hit “Dirt On My Boots,” a track co-written by Rhett Akins. “It’s cool to hear your songs on the radio, but it’s even cooler to see an artist start getting those first tastes of success,” said Akins. Chris Janson, a guy Ben Hayslip called “one of the nicest and most talented guys I know,” performed a foot-kicking, knee-knocking performance of “Buy Me A Boat.”

The night’s biggest surprise came when Rhett Akins took the stage to introduce surprise guest, his son Thomas Rhett. As Thomas Rhett walked onstage, the crowd’s screamed reached a feverish pitch, befitting his current ACM Male Vocalist of the Year status.

Jameson Irish Whiskey Brand Ambassador Gary Feeney presents $50,000 check to the Peach Pickers (Dallas Davidson, Rhett Akins, and Ben Hayslip) for the Georgia Music Foundation during “Georgia On My Mind” Tuesday night at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Georgia Music Foundation

The performance is one of Thomas Rhett’s first since welcoming home his daughter Willa Gray Akins, who the singer and his wife Lauren Akins recently adopted from Uganda.

“I’ve been a dad for five days now, and it’s intense,” he told the crowd. “I’m just a bit tired.” Still, he captured the crowd as they sang along to “Die A Happy Man,” which was honored as Single of the Year at last year’s CMA Awards.

Dallas Davidson, Rhett Akins, and Ben Hayslip closed the show with several songs, including Akins’ own signature hit, “That Ain’t My Truck.”

Making a special appearance were students from the Georgia Pick and Bow Traditional Music School in Dahlonega, which received a grant from the Georgia Music Foundation in 2016 from concert proceeds.

Georgia governor Nathan Deal was honored with the Flamekeeper Award for his work in promoting Georgia’s music. Additionally, the event’s title sponsor Jameson Irish Whiskey, presented a $50,000 check to the Georgia Music Foundation. The foundation has distributed more than $150,000 in funding to music education, preservation and outreach programs.

Special guest Thomas Rhett performs during “Georgia On My Mind” Tuesday night at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Georgia Music Foundation

Photo credit: Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Georgia Music Foundation
Otis Redding III and Dexter Redding perform during “Georgia On My Mind” Tuesday at the Ryman Auditorium.

Chris Janson and Ben Hayslip speak onstage during the 4th Annual Georgia On My Mind presented by Jameson Irish Whiskey at Ryman Auditorium on May 16, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Georgia Music Foundation)

DISClaimer: Tony Stampley’s “Daily Bread” Takes Disc Of The Day Honors

Yeesh. What a lackluster listening session.

No wonder I haven’t been listening to much new country music lately. If this week’s stack of platters is any indication, the genre is awash in mediocrity.

The trend of the day seemed to be unusual stage names. Folks named Mondo, Anthony K and Mighty Orq are vying for your attention. Take my advice and don’t give it to them.

There are really only three discs here that are worth your spins. Tony Stampley’s “Daily Bread” is the Disc of the Day. Big Joe Schmidt’s equally well written “Over Time” wins him a DisCovery Award.

And Nashville singer-songwriter Mike Younger has a collection of literate lyrics that touch on environmental and social justice as well as romantic issues. He has been linked with the likes of Rodney Crowell, Levon Helm and Nanci Griffith, which should give some suggestion of his abilities.

MARK MACKAY/Road To Mustang
Writer: None listed; Producer: None listed; Publisher: Phil Dixon
– He’s a West Coat, country-rocking guitar slinger. This track from his eight-song CD Trials & Tribulations is strong on rhythm and attitude, but could have used a lyric editor. He takes forever to get to the hook.

Writer: Bill Filson; Publisher: None listed, BMI; Producer: Joe Schmidt
– First class all the way. The rolling, relentless tempo is irresistible. The production throbs. His muscular, confident singing voice is just splendid. The lyric message about learning the good things in your life from your dad is potent and heart tugging. This one is definitely a keeper.

JON PARDI/Heartache on the Dance Floor
Writers: Jon Pardi/Bart Butler/Brice Long; Publisher: None listed; Producers: Bart Butler, Jon Pardi
– Listenable, if kinda lightweight. For a frothy ditty, it has a somewhat cluttered production.

CHRISTIAN DAVIS/An American Soldier’s Story
Writers: Terry R. Bell/Bruce Marshall Conyers; Publisher: None listed, ASCAP; Producer: Terry Bell & Dave Demay
– Soldiers become brothers and sisters on the battlefield and have one another’s backs, whether they are black, white, Hispanic or native American. An uplifting anthem.

Writers: Tony Stampley/Kelly Roland; Publishers: none listed, BMI/ASCAP; Producer: Tony Stampley
– It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from Joe Stampley’s talented offspring. He still has that cool, soulful singing voice. This slowly paced hymn of thanks gives him plenty of space to exercise his phrasing.

MALLORY JOHNSON/Good Mistake to Make
Writers: Troy Verges/Gordie Sampson/Hillary Lindsey; Publisher: none listed, BMI/SOCAN/ASCAP; Producer: Sammy Kershaw
– Considering the producer, it’s no surprise that the production has twang and bounce. Considering the writing credits, it’s no surprise that the song is catchy, hooky and radio friendly. Her upbeat vocal delivery is pert and perky.

MIKE YOUNGER/Poisoned Rivers
Writer: Mike Younger; Publisher: Divinerum, ASCAP; Producer: Bob Britt
– Nashville guitar great Bob Britt produced this troubadour’s self-composed CD Little Folks Like You and Me. The simple, harmonica-laced arrangement of this track gives it a bit of a Dylan-like sound. It also throws its folkie-topical lyrics into high relief as it calls for solidarity and strength in a time of cultural divisions.

MONDO/Time To Wine
Writer: Charles Armando Mariscal; Publisher: None listed, ASCAP; Producer: Mondo Mariscal
– The track rocks. His vocal doesn’t.

MIGHTY ORQ/Love in a Hurricane
Writer: J. Davidson; Publisher: none listed, BMI; Producer: None listed
– Thin sounding. I’ve heard demos with more production than this. You could drive a dune buggy through his vibrato.

Writer: Anthony K. Culver; Publisher: Boozyjones 1, ASCAP; Producer: Jamie Tate
– Redneck romance, packed with cliche lyrics.