Songwriter Travis Meadows Preps October Album With Jeremy Spillman, Jay Joyce

Travis Meadows. Photo: Joshua Black Wilkins

Hit songwriter Travis Meadows will release a full-length album, First Cigarette, on Blaster Records, Oct. 13. The collection is produced by Jeremy Spillman with executive producer Jay Joyce.

“I’m an orphan who turned into a preacher, a preacher who turned into a songwriter, a songwriter who turned into a drunk, and a drunk that is learning to be a human being,” Meadows says, describing his journey.

Meadows grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, and endured physical and emotional pain at an early age, coping with abandonment by his parents, the loss of a sibling, and a near-death experience with cancer at only 14. While music was his sanctuary, drugs and alcohol became his crutch as he laid the foundation for his musical career at local blues bars in his hometown. By 24 years old, a religious experience led him into the world of Christian music where even in the midst of his self-destruction, he had eight Top 20 singles in the genre.

Pursuing his dream of writing country music, Meadows scored a publishing deal with Universal Music bringing him to Nashville. Though Meadows was successful as a staff writer, his spiral of addiction continued until in 2010 when he hit an all-time low. Between jail and rehab, Meadows began a journal for his counselor, which transformed into Killin’ Uncle Buzzy. The album, which now has an almost cult-like following “changed everything” in Meadows’ words. The brutal honesty in his writing connected with other songwriters, publishers and artists and in the next two years he scored album cuts by artists including Eric Church (“Knives Of New Orleans”/”Dark Side”), Dierks Bentley (“Riser”) and Jake Owen (“What We Ain’t Got”) while maintaining his new-found sobriety.

First Cigarette paints a brighter outlook. Expanding on the themes of recovery and survival, Meadows delves into the healthy expression of emotion (“Sideways”) to finding contentment where you are in life (“First Cigarette”) to the quest for satisfaction in (“Hungry”).

Academy Of Country Music Names Tom Torii Sr. VP/Finance & Operations

The Academy of Country Music has named Tom Torii Senior Vice President, Finance & Operations. In this newly-created role, Torii will oversee all aspects of the Academy’s finance, planning, analysis, operations and human resources functions. The position is based out of the Academy’s headquarters in Encino and reports to Pete Fisher, Chief Executive Officer of the Academy of Country Music.

Torii joins the Academy from Anschutz Entertainment Group, where he served as CFO. During his nearly decade-long tenure as Vice President of Finance at AEG and Chief Financial Officer of AEG Sports, Torii oversaw all finance of sports entities including Amgen Tour of California, Houston Dynamo, Los Angeles Galaxy, Los Angeles Kings, and many other marquee brands. In addition, he led finance activities for non-sports entities such as AXS TV, JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton at LA Live, Ritz-Carlton condominiums at LA Live, ticketing platforms for and, among others. Prior to AEG, Torii developed and implemented financial strategies at the operational level as Interim Chief Financial Officer at AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour.

“It is with great excitement we announce Tom as the newest member of the Academy’s team. Tom’s skill set and experience are an exact match for what we need to transform the Academy and accomplish the strategic vision of our Board,” said Fisher. 

“I am so thrilled to join the Academy of Country Music and ACM Lifting Lives team and become part of the ongoing growth of this entire organization. Previously being involved in finance of sports entertainment and studio entertainment, I look forward to expanding and pursuing my knowledge in the country music industry, and I am excited to help take the Academy to the next level,” said Torii.

Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Payne Added To Skyville Live Event Honoring Jerry Lee Lewis

Kris Kristofferson. Photo: Marina Chavez

Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Payne have been added to a special Skyville Live event that will honor Jerry Lee Lewis on Aug. 24 in Nashville.

The event will feature performances from Jerry Lee Lewis, as well as Kristofferson, Payne, and previously announced performers Chris Stapleton and Lee Ann Womack.

“This is going to be a tremendous night of music packed with so many memorable moments,” commented Wally Wilson, creator of Skyville Live. “We pride ourselves on being a show that artists really enjoy doing, and the amazingly talented group coming together to celebrate Jerry Lee Lewis will make it a great night for everyone and surely lead to some more of the fantastic collaborations we’ve seen on the Skyville Live stage.”

The show will film live in front of a studio audience on Aug. 24 and streaming details will be announced at a later date. The latest edition of Skyville Live will also feature the Skyville Live band of industry elites. Led by guitarist Kenny Greenberg, the band features the best session musicians around including Mike Rojas (keys,) Mickey Raphael (harmonica,) Fred Eltringham (drums,) Justin Schipper (pedal steel/utility) and backup singers.

Waylon Payne


Artist Pics: Michael Ray, Canaan Smith, Wheeler Walker Jr., Newsboys

Michael Ray Throws First Pitch At Cubs Game

Atlantic Records/Warner Music Nashville’s Michael Ray stopped in Chicago on Tuesday (Aug. 1) to throw out the first pitch at the Cubs’ Wrigley Field.

 “Watching the athleticism of the players and the teamwork of an organization like the Cubs is so inspiring,” says Michael Ray, who is known for his recent No. 1 hit “Think A Little Less.” “The energy from the crowd when you’re on that mound coupled with the anticipation of that first pitch… it is just insane. What an experience!”


Canaan Smith Meets With Goo Goo Dolls Lead Singer John Rzeznik

Country entertainer Canaan Smith, known for “Like You That Way,” often covers the Goo Goo Dolls hit “Iris” in concert. When The Goo Goo Dolls performed at Nashville’s Ascend Amphitheater recently, Smith spent time with The Goo Goo Dolls lead singer John Rzeznik backstage. “Like You That Way” currently has more than 9 million streams on Spotify.


Pictured (L-R): John Rzeznik and Canaan Smith



Wheeler Walker Jr. Makes Festival Debut At Faster Horses

Wheeler Walker Jr. made his festival debut at Faster Horses Festival in Brooklyn, Mich. on Friday, July 21, 2017. He offered songs from his debut album Redneck Sh*t, as well as his more recent Ol’ Wheeler, produced by Dave Cobb. He was joined onstage by Dierks Bentley for a duet of his latest single, “Summers In Kentucky.”

Wheeler Walker Jr. Photo: Marc Nader


Newsboys Lend A Hand In Baja, Mexico

Pictured (L-R): Newsboys’ Duncan Phillips; Eric Prager, executive director, Baja Christian Ministries; Bob Sanders, founder, Baja Christian Ministries; God’s Not Dead Missions Director and musician, Adam Agee; and Newsboys’ Michael Tait.

Members of CCM band Newsboys took a break from their summer tour schedule to help build homes in Baja, Mexico, last week. In partnership with Baja Christian Ministries and God’s Not Dead Missions, Newsboys’ Michael Tait and Duncan Phillips joined volunteers from around the U.S. to construct two homes for disadvantaged families. The week culminated with a community-wide fiesta hosted by the God’s Not Dead Missions team, featuring music, food and entertainment.

Partnering with Baja Christian Ministries for more than 15 years, Newsboys have helped build dozens of homes, schools and churches in the region.

Tyminski’s ‘Southern Gothic’ Set For October Release

Tyminski (Dan Tyminski) contemplates the struggles we all face between the light and the darkness on his anticipated solo project, Southern Gothic, set for release Oct. 20 on Mercury Records Nashville. The project features 13 tracks co-penned by Tyminski and writers like Jesse Frasure, Josh Kear, Carey Barlowe, and Sarah Buxton, and came to life when Tyminski realized he wasn’t ready to let go of the songs he had been writing for other artists.

After lending his vocals in 2014 to Avicii’s international pop hit “Hey Brother,” (which went No. 1 in at least 18 countries and has global streams of over 1.1 billion and downloads of 5.3 million), Tyminski began to realize that he could fit outside of his acoustic music box. He enlisted the help of producer Jesse Frasure to meld together the genres that make up Southern Gothic.

“I feel that the light and dark in this record are truly my journey, my personal journey in life,” explains Tyminski. “I think we all feel that whisper from each side of your shoulder, someone saying, ‘yeah do it,’ or ‘no don’t do it.’ I have an enormous struggle with that in my life, but it’s something that I’m aware of. I try to make sure that I understand what the right voice is. I don’t make quick decisions because light and dark, in my opinion, can often look very similar.”

The Vermont native who taught himself how to play banjo by ear has been a member of Alison Krauss’ Union Station for the past 25 years, and was also the singing voice of George Clooney’s character in the film O Brother, Where Art Thou?. He has won 14 Grammys throughout the course of his career.

Southern Gothic Album Track List:

  • Southern Gothic (Dan Tyminski, Jesse Frasure, Josh Kear)
  • Breathing Fire (Dan Tyminski, Cary Barlowe, Will Weatherly)
  • Gone (Dan Tyminski, Kyle Fishman, Nick Bailey)
  • Temporary Love (Dan Tyminski, Cary Barlowe, Jesse Frasure)
  • Perfect Poison (Dan Tyminski, Jesse Frasure)
  • Devil Is Downtown (Dan Tyminski, Ashley Monroe, Paul Moak)
  • Hollow Hallelujah (Dan Tyminski, Sarah Buxton, Jesse Frasure, Amy Wadge)
  • Good For Your Soul (Dan Tyminski, Sarah Buxton, Jesse Frasure)
  • Wailing Wall (Dan Tyminski, Sarah Buxton, Tofer Brown)
  • Haunted Heart (Dan Tyminski, Andrew Dorff, Cary Barlowe, Jesse Frasure)
  • Bloodline (Dan Tyminski, Cary Barlowe, Jesse Frasure)
  • Wanted (Dan Tyminski, Brad Rempel, Seth Mosley)
  • Numb (Dan Tyminski, Kyle Fishman, Nick Bailey, Ryan Ogren)


DisClaimer: Florida Georgia Line’s “Smooth,” Funky New Single

The superstars are in short supply this week.

Fortunately, Florida Georgia Line’s new single is so strong that it doesn’t matter. They would have blown everybody else out of the water, no matter how big. Give those Belmont fugitives a Disc of the Day.

Our many newcomers this week include Marty Heddin, Jagertown, Candy Fernaux, Tara Shannon, Jesse Rice and our hands-down, no-contest DisCovery Award winners Benji Harris.

Benji is a Dallas native who moved to Music City in 2009. He has been on the road working in the bands of folks like Sam Hunt, Jana Kramer, Mickey Guyton, Bo Bice and, currently, Cassadee Pope (singing Chris Young’s part on “Think of Me”). Here’s hoping he gets his own spotlight.

BENJI HARRIS/That’s How You Get a Girl
Writers: none listed; Producer: Sean Giovanni; Publisher: none listed
– It has a very cool, stuttering, hooky groove. His jaunty, youthful voice has personality and bounce. The production is flawless. Absolutely play it.



Writers: Bailey James Koehler/Steve O’Brien/Julie Downs; Producer: Jeffrey Teague; Publisher: none listed, ASCAP/BMI
– I’ve liked everything she’s ever put out so far, and this continues her winning ways. The band is cooking, and she’s a master chef as a singer. Toe-tapping tempo, a catchy tune and a home-run performance are the ingredients.

RONNIE DUNN/I Worship the Woman You Walked On
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed
– His vocal is as perfect and piercing as ever on this power ballad. I don’t much care for the synth-y, string-soaked, processed production.


Writers: Jesse Rice/Patrick Davis/Django Walker/Phillip Lammonds/Mark Bryan; Producer: Jesse Rice; Publisher: none listed
– Well sung and extremely well played. But in this case, the whole isn’t more than the sum of its parts. Oddly colorless, in a bland, beach-y kinda way.

TARA SHANNON/Take This Rock (And Roll)
Writers: J. Gregory/T. Shannon; Producer: Hayley McLean; Publisher: Willow Sound/James Gregory, SOCAN/ASCAP/BMI
– This Canadian thrush displays plenty of finger-snapping sass on this rollicking, bluesy “attitude” tune.

Writers: Tyler Hubbard/Brian Kelley/Nicole Galyon/Jordan Schmidt; Producer: Joey Moi; Publisher: Big Loud Mountain/T Hubb/Prance Ringle/Round Hill/Warner-Tamerlane/A Girl Named Charlie/Freshy/We-Volve/Tri Star, BMI/ASCAP
– Funky and loosey-goosey, in a very cool way. The backbeats, drawled voices, twang tones and saucy flavor combine for a sensational summertime jam. I’m in.


Writers: none listed; Producer: Keith Stegall; Publisher: none listed
– As the “house” bandleader at the Cowboys clubs in Dallas, San Antonio and Atlanta, this fellow has opened for everyone from Tim McGraw to Toby Keith and Kenny Chesney. His debut, six-song EP is produced by Keith Stegall. If you expect solid professionalism, confident honky-tonk singing and assured personality, you won’t be disappointed. This man has the goods.

JAGERTOWN/Small Town Superstars
Writers: Preston Creed; Producer: Jim Gist; Publisher: none listed, ASCAP
– This kicks off with what sounds like drum-line percussion and Queen-style, arena-rock shouting. And it goes downhill from there, coming across like a cover-band version of “Cum on Feel the Noize.”

Writers: Margo Price/Jeremy Ivey; Producer: Margo Price, Alex Munoz, Matt Ross-Spang & Jeremy Ivey; Publisher: Peach Pit/Fisheye, SESAC
– Thin and rinky-dink sounding. Under produced.


Writers: Candy Fernaux/Wyatt Easterling; Producer: Considerable Music & Wyatt Easterling; Publisher: none listed, ASCAP
– Pleasantly listenable. But little more.

Brett Eldredge Sets ‘The Tonight Show’ Appearance For Aug. 9

Brett Eldredge is gearing up for a string of media appearances to celebrate the release of his upcoming self-titled album, which will be available on Friday (Aug. 4). He takes over Today on Aug. 7, followed by an appearance on NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Aug. 9, at 11:35 p.m. ET. The singer-songwriter will perform “The Long Way” from the upcoming album.

Leading up to the album release, Eldredge has offered fans early listens to tracks including “Castaway” and “No Stopping You,” in addition to his current single “Somethin’ I’m Good At.”

Eldredge says he pushed himself in the writing room, exploring new ways of relating universal experiences. On “Cycles,” penned with Matt Rogers, Eldredge looks at relationships realistically.

“Cycles was one of the hardest songs I’ve ever written,” Eldredge says. “It’s very continuous – I mean, literally, it’s in a cycle of how the lyric goes, but it’s all about a relationship where you’re falling in love and you’re falling out of love. [When] they come back and they show up at your door again, how do you say no to that person? You love them but you know it’s never going to work out. It’s a vicious cycle and you can’t stop it.”

On another track from the album, “Superhero,” penned with Ross Copperman and Heather Morgan, Eldredge demonstrates his aspiration to come through for the one he loves.

“I love the thought of being a superhero. I love the story of someone coming in and saving the day. I was always so envious of Superman, because I want to be that guy. I think that’s why Superman was so popular. We all picture ourselves as that nerdy guy who can go hop in a telephone booth and change into a superhero and save the day and win the girl over.”

Eldredge is currently on Luke Bryan’s Huntin’, Fishin’, and Lovin’ Every Day Tour.


Industry Ink: ACM, Big Spring Entertainment, Silverado Records

Duo Smithfield Visits ACM

Photo (L-R): Trey Smith; Pete Fisher, CEO, Academy of Country Music; Jennifer Fielder. Photo: Michel Bourquard/Courtesy of the Academy of Country Music

The Academy of Country Music welcomed country duo Smithfield to the office while they were in Los Angeles last week. While at the Academy, Smithfield performed their new single, “When You’re Gone,” and other songs from their current self-titled album, Smithfield.



Big Spring Entertainment Adds Taylor Freeman

Big Spring Entertainment, which produces and presents shows across the Southeastern US, has hired Taylor Freeman as a Talent Buyer. He will also oversee Touring Relations for Big Spring Entertainment. Freeman was most recently Director of Marketing and Touring Relations at Spectra Presents.

Big Spring Entertainment is based in Huntsville, Alabama, and has a Nashville office.

“Taylor will have an immediate impact to our bottom-line. Our company has been doubling in volume year over year, and Taylor will continue to expand our footprint,” shared Jason Oschwald of Big Spring Entertainment. “It’s an exciting time to be a part of this company and we are elated Taylor is on board.”

Freeman can be reached at [email protected].


Silverado Records Promotes Two

Silverado Records’ Marketing Director, Heather Cramsie, has transitioned to Partnerships Director for Exegan Media & Entertainment, Silverado’s parent company. Cramsie has also taken on the role of A&R Director for the newly relaunched rock label Poison Tree Records.

Silverado Records’ administrative assistant Kaylie Thomas has been promoted to Marketing Coordinator for the label.

Details Revealed For Loretta Lynn Country Music Hall Of Fame And Museum Exhibit

The Country Music Hall of Fame has revealed more details for its exhibit Loretta Lynn: Blue Kentucky Girl, set to open on Aug. 25.

The exhibit chronicles Loretta Lynn’s 50-plus years in the country music industry, and will include her handwritten manuscript for the 1970 hit “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” along with the American DR-332 ribbon microphone used during her first recording session at Western Recorders Studio in Los Angeles in 1960. That session would yield her first single, “I’m A Honky Tonk Girl.”

Numerous dresses will be on display, including the green chiffon gown Lynn wore to the 1972 CMA Awards, where she was named Entertainer of the Year. The red dress Lynn wore on the cover of her 1968 album Fist City, will also be included in the exhibit, as will the 1956 model 99 Singer sewing machine Lynn used to make her own stage clothes early in her career.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom, presented to Lynn by President Obama in 2013, will also be on display.

Loretta Lynn: Blue Kentucky Girl will run through Aug. 5, 2018.

Lynn, who is recovering from a stroke she suffered in May, says, “I am so excited for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s exhibit to open this month. It’s gonna show off my 50 some odd years in country music, and I’m so proud to share my life and music with the museum. Y’all come see us!”

“Owen Bradley once described Loretta Lynn as ‘the female Hank Williams,’” said museum CEO Kyle Young. “Like Williams did, Loretta has created music that echoes the challenges and joys of the working class. She has influenced countless artists who followed her, and her unique sound continues to transcend genre and inspire her many listeners. We are thrilled to share the story of this ‘blue Kentucky girl,’ and we look forward to the day when Loretta feels well enough to see the exhibit herself.”


Alan Jackson’s Honky Tonk Highway Tour Rolling Through Fall

Alan Jackson’s Honky Tonk Highway Tour continues rolling into the fall, with new dates and cities added through November. Multi-platinum singer Lee Ann Womack, who has thrilled crowds all year long on the tour, remains his special guest.

The outing began in January with sold out stops in Oklahoma and Florida, followed by massive crowds at the Houston Rodeo and Atlanta, and a capacity crowd at downtown Nashville’s Ascend Amphitheater early this summer.

Jackson is a 2017 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee.

Tickets and information for all shows are available by visiting

Lee Ann Womack

Alan Jackson’s Honky Tonk Highway Tour

Thursday, August 3 – Detroit Lakes, MI (WE Fest) ++
Friday, August 4 – Brookings, SD (Swiftel Center)
Saturday, August 12 – Sedalia, MO (Missouri State Fair)
Sunday, August 13 – West Allis (Milwaukee area), WI (Wisconsin State Fair)
Friday, August 25 – Evansville, IN (Ford Center)
Saturday, August 26 – Champaign, IL (State Farm Center)
Friday, September 8 – St. Charles (St. Louis area), MO (The Family Arena)
Saturday, September 9 – Cedar Rapids, IA (US Cellular Center)
Friday, September 22 – Charleston, WV (Charleston Civic Center)
Saturday, September 23 – Erie, PA (Erie Insurance Arena)
Friday, October 27 – Green Bay, WI (Resch Center)
Saturday, October 28 – Minneapolis, MN (Target Center)
Friday, November 3 – Lafayette, LA (CajunDome)
Saturday, November 4 – Belton, TX (Bell County Expo Center)

++Festival event; Lee Ann Womack does not perform at this show