Honoring A Legacy: Randy Travis Is Celebrated On 35th Anniversary [Interview]

Randy Travis. Photo: Marisa Taylor

In a genre that pays homage to an artist’s body of work, it is rare for an artist to reach the celebrated status of a country music great.

Country music icon and trailblazer Randy Travis has done just that and is being celebrated today.

Along with a slew of honors and ceremonies, a memoir, a re-issue of his iconic Storms of Life album, many retrospective interviews, and more, Randy is getting his flowers now, and deservingly so. The Country Music Hall of Fame member has received a long list of honors including seven Grammy Awards, 11 Academy of Country Music awards, 10 American Music Awards, two People’s Choice awards, eight Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association and five Country Music Association honors. In addition, three of his performances earned CMA Song of the Year honors: “On the Other Hand” (1986), “Forever and Ever Amen” (1987) and “Three Wooden Crosses” (2002). To date, he has 23 No. 1 singles, 31 Top-10 hits and more than 40 appearances in feature films and television shows to his credit.

Randy and his wife Mary Travis are thankful to the team that has surrounded them and embraced Randy’s legacy.

“Warner, Cris Lacy and John Esposito have been there for a long time,” Mary Travis tells MusicRow. “Tony Conway came along after Randy’s stroke and has just been a Godsend. He’s like a brother to Randy. He took us on after Randy’s stoke, so he really didn’t know where he could go with it or what was going to happen with it, but just on the fact that he believed in him.

“It’s the same with Zach [Farnum],” Mary adds. “He was a natural fit. He was young so he brought a fresh breath and knew more about what was going on now. It’s a blessing. We went through something where a lot of the world walked out on us. Most of those are the people who you thought would be there. But what happened is a lot of people walked in that we had no idea would be such a blessing. They did re-create and bring back to life a career that deserved another sunrise.”

Of the many projects Randy’s team has executed is the re-issue of his Storms of Life album. The album, originally released in 1986, served as a turning point back towards more traditional sounding country music when the genre was experiencing a wave of more polished and pop material.

“That album was pivotal,” Mary says. “Good ole country music, that was Randy’s forté. Storms of Life changed lives; the listener’s and Randy’s. It was important to acknowledge it.”

Along with “Diggin’ Up Bones” and “On The Other Hand”, which originally catapulted to No. 1 on the charts in 1986, this remastering also includes three previously unreleased songs from The Vault. “Ain’t No Use,” “The Wall” and “Carryin’ Fire” were recorded 1985, but never found a place on the original 10-song album.

Randy and Mary worked with producer and engineers Kyle Lehning and Keith Stegall, who worked on the 1986 original album, for production on the remastering of the new released version. Lehning has worked with Randy on nearly every album the singer has released.

When asked what working with him again has meant to him, Randy says, “A lot,” with a grin.

“Kyle’s family,” Mary agrees. “Kyle and Randy since day one have had the best artist-producer relationship. I don’t think they’ve had an argument in 35 years. Working with Kyle is always nothing but pure joy.”

A big smile and a laugh came across Randy’s face when asked what he would tell himself if he could go back and talk to the 27 year old who was releasing Storms Of Life in 1986.

“Hold on tight!” Mary suggests. “I don’t think he had any idea it was going to do what it did. I don’t think anybody did.

“I think the older him would say it’s worth the trouble. Keep doing what you’re doing,” Mary sums. Randy smiles and nods in agreement.

And so do we.

Storms Of Life (35th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) is available everywhere now.

DISClaimer Single Reviews: John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson

Pictured (L-R): Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp. Photo: Taryn Weitzman

There’s more than a touch of Americana influence in today’s country edition of DisClaimer.

Frankly, it’s what is needed to keep the country format from becoming completely boring. Charley Crockett, Rodney Crowell, Willie Nelson and son Lukas Nelson all did their part to spice up this listening session.

So did the titanic John Mellencamp and Bruce Springsteen, who easily earned the Disc of the Day award.

Jessie James Decker stages her debut in the column this week and wins the DisCovery Award. A TV personality, fashionista, NFL wife and social media influencer, she seems like a real go-getter.

NIKO MOON / “Paradise to Me”
Writers: Niko Moon/Anna Moon/Joshua Murty; Producer: Joshua Murty/Niko Moon; Label: RCA Nashville
— It’s a mellow party vibe with a beach-y groove. Relaxing and smiley.

KANE BROWN & H.E.R. / “Blessed and Free”
Writers: David Biral/Denzel Michael-Akil Baptiste/Gabriella Wilson/Ilsey Juber/Kane Brown/Russ Chell; Producer: Russ Chell/Take A Daytrip/Kuk Harrell; Label: RCA Nashville
— Brown takes aim at the pop charts and misses. Tuneless and lifeless.

OMER NETZER / “Country Boy”
Writers: Omer Netzer/Moran Ifragan; Producer: Omer Netzer/Moran Ifragan; Label: ON
— It says here that Omer is “Israel’s hottest country music entertainer.” He has a gritty vocal quality that’s ear catching, and the guitar noodling sounds good. The songwriting could use some work.

LUKAS NELSON & PROMISE OF THE REAL / “Wildest Dream”
Writers: Lukas Nelson; Producer: Dave Cobb; Label: Fantasy
— Jaunty, welcoming country-rock that rolls along an open sonic highway. This has verve to spare.

JOHN MELLENCAMP & BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN / “Wasted Days”
Writers: John Mellencamp; Producer: John Mellencamp; Label: Republic
— As fiddles, accordions and guitars bob and weave in a dizzy swirl, these two music masters muse on the fleeting nature of life. They swap verses, and Bruce takes the high harmony vocal on the choruses. The resulting sonic tapestry is more “country” than 90% of what you hear on country radio.

EDDIE MONTGOMERY / “Alive and Well”
Writers: Eddie Montgomery/Ira Dean/Chris Wallin; Producer: Noah Gordon/Shannon Houchins; Label: Average Joes
— Rousing and uplifting. The lyric is lifted from his life: It reflects on the tragic losses he has endured (the deaths of his son in 2015 and his music partner Troy Gentry in 2017) and his ultimate will to live that they led to.

WILLIE NELSON / “Family Bible”
Writers: Willie Nelson; Producer: Willie Nelson/Steve Chadie; Label: Legacy
— Sister Bobbie Nelson provides the eloquent piano accompaniment, while children Paula, Amy, Micah and Lukas softly harmonize behind papa’s sturdy, sure and soulful lead vocal. Band mainstays Mickey Raphael and the late Paul English are here as well. It’s one of Willie’s finest early songs, and it still sounds brilliant.

JENNY TOLMAN / “I Know Some Cowboys”
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Label: JT
— Nashville’s finest unsigned talent sings the praises of Texas gentlemen in this instantly catchy, sprightly, clever country rocker. An irresistible toe tapper.

CHARLEY CROCKETT / “Music City USA”
Writers: Charley Crockett/Mark Neill; Producer: Mark Neill; Label: Son of Davy/Thirty Tigers
— This prolific Texas honky tonker has issued 10 albums during the past six years and won the Emerging Artist of the Year honor at this month’s Americana Music Awards. The title tune of his latest skewers the star-making machinery of Nashville. “I shouldn’t have come here in the first place,” he sings to the accompaniment of a classic ‘60s, steel-soaked track, “’cause folks in here don’t like my kind.” He’s retro and proud of it.

MICKEY GUYTON / “All American”
Writers: Mickey Guyton/Victoria Banks/Emma-Lee/Karen Kosowski; Producer: Karen Kosowski; Label: Capitol Nashville
— After a decade in Nashville, Mickey at last has an album. It is a 16-track dandy that is aptly titled Remember Her Name. This track from it is a soaring anthem of inclusion and togetherness. This lady can flat-out SING.

RODNEY CROWELL / “Something Has to Change”
Writers: Rodney Crowell; Producer: Rodney Crowell/Dan Knobler; Label: RC1/Thirty Tigers
— This timeless treasure offers introspection and social commentary in his new songs on an album titled Triage. His current Americana hit resonates with conviction and rhythmic thump, not to mention a striking trombone solo. Rodney’s singing is simultaneously conversational and soaring as he delivers this lyric asking for some social justice.

JESSIE JAMES DECKER / “Not In Love With You”
Writers: Sam Ellis/Jordyn Shellhart; Producer: Sam Ellis; Label: Big Yellow Dog/Atlantic Records/Warner Music Nashville
— Decker delivers the goods here, singing powerfully about moving on from a failed relationship. She deploys vocal breaks, sustained notes, vulnerable aches and whisper-to-a-shout range while the production chimes around her. Tuneful. Well done.

Jackie Jones Talks Joining RIAA, Stepping Into An Advocacy Role [Interview]

Jackie Jones

Jackie Jones is the Vice President, Artist and Industry Relations for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), serving as RIAA’s chief representative in Nashville.

At RIAA, Jones works to help elevate country artists and songwriters in the industry while translating copyright reform, trade negotiations, and creative industry policymaking for local audiences. She brings together artists, management, labels, venues, creator advocacy groups, tech platforms and distribution services when possible to work towards common goals.

Jones recently spoke with MusicRow about her role and what she hopes to accomplish in the Nashville music business.

MusicRow: Where did you grow up? How did you get into the music business?

I grew up in Memphis. I’ve always loved music, but definitely grew up in a music city. I was super interested in television, but I always wanted to produce [the VH1 show] Behind The Music. That was my dream job. When I went to college I was studying TV and film, but I always came back to the music side of things. I ended up transferring to MTSU and getting an internship at CMT. At CMT I was a producer and a writer for a long time, and then the talent team shifted gears and approached me to ask [if I wanted to join them.] I climbed up the ranks there and ended up doing all the live events and talent producing.

You joined RIAA in 2019. How did that happen?

Pictured (L-R): Cindy Mabe (President, UMGN), Ann Edelblute (Owner, The HQ), Royce Risser (EVP of Promotions, UMGN), Carrie Underwood, Mike Dungan (Chairman & CEO, UMGN), David Garcia (Underwood’s Co-Producer), Brian Wright (EVP of A&R, UMGN), Jackie Jones (Vice President, Artist & Industry Relations, RIAA). Photo: Country Radio Seminar 2020/Kayla Schoen

I had never really thought about being a part of the advocacy side of things, but the more I got to know Mitch [Glazier, Chairman & CEO] and Michele [Ballantyne, COO], I became more enamored with what they were doing. Mitch’s overall was really appealing to me. He is very adamant that all of the advocacy groups work together to push a common goal. We all represent different parts of the industry, but we know that if we go to legislators together, we’re going to get a lot more done than trying to do it ourselves. And I found that [ethic] very much like the Nashville music industry.

We all want to lift each other up. I really loved the approach and loved that that was his goal. I told him that Nashville already works like that in a lot of ways and that I thought RIAA needed to be here. I said ‘You need to have somebody here,’ and I did not mean me in any way, but then he was like, ‘Yeah, we do. We want you to come work for us!’ It took me a minute because I was totally dedicated to television and totally a creative. I thought about it for a long time. I just loved the mission, I loved the environment, and it really feels good to be doing something to help us move forward and to take care of our musicians, songwriters, artists, labels, and everyone else.

What’s a day in the life look like for you?

In the beginning it was more about looking ahead at what needs we have as an industry as a whole, working to build relationships with different advocacy groups, and working to build more relationships with all the artists management teams and everybody to educate them on what RIAA does. One of the primary goals that I have in my job is to show legislators why music is important. I had been doing that more through events and conversations with artists and industry leaders for for Congress and Senate. And then COVID hit and events went away. We pivoted quickly to working hard to get those in the music industry protected under all of the COVID packages. Then that became the big goal.

I’ve also pivoted to virtual events. This week I did a panel with JoJo and Miles Adcox talking about mental health and why that’s important. We’re going to share that with the Mondo.NYC music industry conference to try to get it out to as many people as possible. And then we will also share that with our audience of the D.C. world to show that this is a real issue that the music industry is paying attention to, and that we care about mental health and want to make it a priority.

In 2019 you produced the inaugural RIAA Honors. Tell me about that.

Pictured (L-R): RIAA Chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier and Miranda Lambert. Photo: Courtesy RIAA

That is one of those moments where we’re trying to show what music is and why it’s important to D.C. audiences. It’s pretty fascinating how far an artist visit will go in those rooms; it’s the currency that we have. Whether it’s legislators talking to a songwriter and hearing about the creative process or talking to an artist that they love, or even just hearing how a record is made, it’s so interesting to them and brings us a lot of opportunities. If we do something cool and interesting with them like that, they then will listen to us on our issues more and we’ll have a bigger place in their brain to remember us by. The inaugural RIAA Honors was honoring Miranda Lambert for her support of women throughout her career.

Then we honored Lanre Gaba, who is at Atlantic in A&R and has been responsible for helping many careers. We had a conversation with Lanre about, how do you find an artist? What does a label do? Why are they important to the artists’ profession and their long-term career? Then we also honored a couple of legislators who helped us pass the Music Modernization Act. So it was a great full circle moment where these people got in a room with some really interesting, cool people and they got to see a little bit of what we do. That’s the point of these things, so that then they listen to all of our people when we say we need something!

RIAA is probably most known by its lauded Gold and Platinum plaque program. What goes on behind the scenes in presenting those?

It’s interesting because when I came in, I only knew that RIAA did plaques. When I started talking to Michele and Mitch, I had no idea they were an advocacy group or lobbied for our rights or protected content. I just knew about the plaques. And so many people do, which is part of why I’m here: to help people understand more. But the Gold and Platinum program is an awesome program because it helps us to celebrate the sales and the consumption of the music that’s being made. Usually what happens is labels are tracking their progress and how much they’re being listened to on various digital platforms, hard sales, vinyl sales and everything else.

Pictured (L-R): Maverick’s Chris Parr, RIAA’s Jackie Jones, Darius Rucker, UMG Nashville’s Mike Dungan. Photo: Strange Bird Media

When they get to the 500,000 units, which is broken down in different ways, that is a Gold. A million units is Platinum. That counts for singles and albums, but 500,000 units for a single is different than 500,000 units for an album, especially when you get into the digital. What happens is the labels will apply for that certification, it will go through an auditing system and then they will get approved from us saying, ‘Yes, you have hit this milestone.’ They then have our seal on their plaque and we’re able to promote and share that, and sometimes be a part of the presentation.

It sounds like RIAA does a lot more than people realize. What do you want people to know that RIAA does?

A lot of people aren’t aware of the advocacy work that we do in general, that we’re lobbying for the music industry as a whole. The Gold and Platinum albums are so important and fun, but what’s going on behind the scenes is a lot of legislative work. First and foremost, we are fighting for the rights of the music community.

Second of all is content protection. I don’t think that people are aware that RIAA has people scouring the internet for stolen music 24/7. Sometimes we do that on a federal level in a big push, we all remember the Napster days. But we also do it through state levels. We might be able to get a stream ripping site down in a place that is not Tennessee by working through a law in Tennessee. It’s about balancing state and federal law to make sure that we’re catching as much as we can.

Another thing is research. We have an entire team of people that are doing research on the music industry in general: on trends, who is listening to music, how is it being consumed, where are the trends going, etc. That’s super helpful, too, and that’s usually all on our website. We have a mid-year report and a year-end report, and it’s super helpful to a lot of people that are trying to make some decisions about what they might want to do or where they might want to promote.

When do you feel most fulfilled in your role?

I find it really cool when I’m able to have an artist, a music industry leader, or songwriter connect with a representative. It is two worlds that are shockingly similar in terms of the celebrity side of it. They’re both well-known people who have very busy schedules. But when they get together and they recognize common interests and common goals, or when you see a representative get excited about a project that someone’s working on, that is really motivational to me. It makes you feel like we all really can find something to be a part of together. That’s when I feel the most fulfilled.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

Have grace under pressure.

Who have been some of your mentors?

One person who I was so fortunate to work with in my career was Chet Flippo. In the beginning of my career, he was the Editorial Director of CMT and CMT.com and I was lucky enough to spend some time with him and get to know him a bit. Being able to be in the room as he talked about new artists and new music was fascinating. He always had a clear opinion and he was always able to be kind about whichever opinion he had. One thing I learned from him was that being direct and honest was a kind thing and it could be done in a kind way. Him being in the country community made us all better and encouraged us all to work to be better.

Another way that I have been really lucky in this business is to have come up alongside some amazing and strong women. I feel like I have had women around me that have taught me so much along the way. We really do support each other and cheer each other on. That is something I am very grateful for.

Alan Jackson Reveals Hereditary Degenerative Nerve Condition

Alan Jackson. Photo: Russ Harrington

Alan Jackson revealed he has a degenerative nerve condition known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) Disorder which impacts his ability to tour and perform.

The condition, which is inherited, was passed down from Jackson’s father and grandmother. The country artist has been living with CMT since being diagnosed over a decade ago.

The condition causes abnormalities in the nerves that supply the feet, legs, hands, and arms, thereby affecting his motor and sensory nerves. Though relatively rare, the disorder is progressive and there is no known cure.

“I’ve been reluctant to talk about this publicly and to my fans, but I have this neuropathy–a neurological disease that’s genetic that I inherited from my daddy,” Jackson shared with Jenna Bush Hager on NBC’s Today. “There’s no cure for it, but it’s been affecting me for years. And it’s getting more and more obvious. It’s not going to kill me–it’s not deadly. I know I’m stumbling around onstage, and now I’m having a little trouble balancing even in front of a microphone.” He continued, “I’m just very uncomfortable. I was starting to get so self-conscious up there… so if anybody’s curious why I don’t walk right, that’s why. I just wanted the fans and the public to know. I don’t want ’em to think I’m drunk onstage because I’m having problems with mobility and balance.”

For Jackson, CMT often manifests in muscle weakness, discomfort and pain, especially when standing for lengthy periods to entertain crowds from a concert stage. Though he’s been living with his diagnosis for ten years, the Country Music Hall of Famer has continued to tour annually. 

“I never wanted to do the retirement tour like people do and then take a year off and then come back,” he explained. “I don’t know how much I’ll continue to tour. I’m not saying I won’t be able to tour. I’ll try to do as much as I can. I don’t want people to be sad for me; it’s just part of life. I’ve had a wonderful, beautiful life. I’ve been so blessed. It’s just good to put it out there in the open. In some ways, it’s a relief.”

Jackson, who released another chart-topping album, Where Have You Gone, earlier this year, will be onstage next week in Nashville as he plays a hometown show at Bridgestone Arena. The show was postponed from its original 2020 date due to the pandemic.

River House Artists & Sony Music Publishing Sign Neil Medley

Pictured (L-R): Kayla Adkins, Zebb Luster, Neil Medley, Lynn Oliver-Cline, Rusty Gaston. (Not Pictured: Scott Safford)

River House Artists, in partnership with Sony Music Publishing, has signed country songwriter Neil Medley to a worldwide publishing agreement.

Medley has written popular songs including “Tailgate Blues” by Luke Bryan; “Wasn’t That Drunk” by the Josh Abbott Band featuring Carly Pearce; “Damn Good Friends” by Tyler Farr and Jason Aldean; and “Glad to be Here” by Hailey Whitters featuring Brent Cobb. Throughout his career, Medley has celebrated cuts with prominent acts such as Cody Johnson, Tiera, King Calaway, Kid Rock, Brent Cobb, Whiskey Myers, and many others.

Medley achieved his first No. 1 song with Jake Owen’s “Made For You,” and earned success with Lindsay Ell’s single “I Don’t Love You,” which was the No. 1 most added song on country radio the week of its release and reached the Top 10 on Billboard’s Canada Country airplay chart. Medley was also nominated for MusicRow‘s Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year this year.

“Our family at River House couldn’t be more excited to have Neil join the team. His happy personality is infectious, and his love for songwriting has helped him to maintain success throughout his career. We are thankful he has trusted us to help him continue to grow as a writer and we look forward to landing many more hits together,” says Zebb Luster, vice president/general manager of River House Artists.

Medley adds, “River House Artists is one of the most respected publishing and artist development companies in Nashville. Their track record, combined with Sony’s horsepower and industry-wide reach, is an ideal situation for any writer. I am so excited to be a part of such a special roster and I’m confident we are going to do some great things together.”

Morgan Evans Talks New EP, His Full Band & “Love Is Real” [Interview]

Morgan Evans. Photo: P Tracy

Australian-born singer-songwriter Morgan Evans has a busy fall season ahead of him. As support on Brett Eldredge‘s “Good Day Tour 2021,” which kicked off on Sept. 16, Evans has also recently unveiled plans for his next studio project: The Country And The Coast Side A.

The six-song EP, set for release on Oct. 29, includes his newest release “Country Outta My Girl,” written by Evans, Ben Johnson, Hunter Phelps, and Mark Holman and produced by Dann Huff. The upbeat track gives not-so-subtle mentions of his wife, Kelsea Ballerini, and the habits and traits that she picked up from her hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee, and has taken with her all over the world.

Also included on the forthcoming project is Evans’ current radio single, “Love Is Real,” which has spent six consecutive weeks at the top of the AU Country Radio chart and is currently climbing the airplay charts in the United States. Written with Parker Welling and Jordan Reynolds, the timely track aims to capture the feeling of when everything in the world feels right, which is a welcomed feeling in our world right now.

“I tried to write the title a couple of different ways, but I felt like it was trying to be too clever or something,” Evans tells MusicRow. “When we wrote the song it was really as simple as that small feeling, but as songs tend to do, it’s found new meanings. That one feeling has become, ‘Even when all this awful stuff is happening around us, those feelings are still out there. Make sure you look for them and make sure you appreciate them when they come.’ It’s growing every time we get to play it and every time I get to talk to someone about it which is a great feeling as a songwriter.”

Of the new things that have been brought out of the pandemic, Evans has also emerged with a full band backing him for the first time since moving to the states.

Formerly using a loop pedal to build his tracks in real-time during live performances, Evans jokes, “I feel like I’m on vacation on stage now because all I have to do is play guitar and sing.

“In one way, it’s so nice because I can actually look elsewhere and I can connect with people. I can be in the moment rather than being in the technical moment of the loop pedal. In another way, it’s just so nice to have the camaraderie of a band and know that we’re doing this together,” he explains. “It’s what I started playing music for. I didn’t start playing music to be like, ‘Oh, I want to be this singer-songwriter that travels the world by myself.’ I wanted to play guitar in a band and I’m getting to do that again.”

Evans will be traveling around the country on the “Good Day Tour 2021” which has upcoming stops in Orlando, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Denver, and Salt Lake City, among others, before wrapping in Verona, New York on Nov. 6.

Before the tour’s launch, Evans shared, “I’m just looking forward to the feeling of playing live again. I’ve noticed at these [one-off] shows that everybody is equally as excited to be at a live show again. You get the energy from the stage going back and forth from the crowd, and it’s a pretty magical time to play music. Nobody’s taking it for granted right now.”

Named one of Country Radio Seminar’s 2020 New Faces of Country Music, Evans has earned nearly 610 million career streams, topped the charts with his debut single “Kiss Somebody,” and spent 25 weeks in the No.1 spot in Australia with “Day Drunk.” His upcoming EP, The Country And The Coast Side A, is available everywhere on Oct. 29.

The Country And The Coast Side A Track List:
1. Love Is Real
2. Country Outta My Girl
3. Beautiful Tonight
4. American Dream Truck
5. Sing Along Drink Along
6. Love Is Real (Int’l Mix)

Jameson Rodgers Offers Hook After Hook On Debut Album, ‘Bet You’re From A Small Town’ [Interview]

Jameson Rodgers. Photo: Matthew Berinato

In just a year, River House Artists/Columbia Nashville artist Jameson Rodgers has had his debut single “Some Girls” hit No. 1, embarked on his first headlining tour, released an EP (In It for the Money), sent another single to the Top 5 (“Cold Beer Calling My Name”), and, most recently, released his debut album Bet You’re From a Small Town.

He was named MusicRow‘s Discovery Artist of the Year in 2020, and was nominated for the publication’s Breakthrough Artist of the Year just a year later in August.

When asked about the past year, Rodgers grins and quietly admits it’s been a crazy time. “The last two or thee years have been an absolute whirlwind. They call it a 10 year town, I’ve been here 11, so I hit it right on the head,” he says.

His debut album, Bet You’re From a Small Town, features fifteen songs produced by Chris Farren and Jake Mitchell. Rodgers, who co-wrote 14 of the album’s 15 tracks, really shows off his knack for writing a modern country hook on several songs throughout the project.

In addition to his Platinum-certified, No. 1 debut single “Some Girls,” and his current Top 5 hit “Cold Beer Calling My Name,” which features Luke Combs, Rodgers’ penmanship shines on the other 13 songs on Bet You’re From a Small Town.

This is most evident on “You Won’t,” a song co-written with Smith Ahnquist, Will Bundy and Lynn Hutton that lists all the things that come back around like old songs, bird dogs, football season and Jesus, but that his lost love won’t.

Another great song on Bet You’re From a Small Town is “Missing One,” which starts with Rodgers singing about missing an Eagles record from his collection and wraps up in the chorus with him missing a girl. Rodgers wrote it with Phelps and Ahnquist, who appear a lot on the record.

“This is probably the oldest song on the record,” Rodgers says. “We were sitting in the writing room that day. Smith had done a demo session and the engineer had sent him some songs back. He was going through them and he said, ‘Oh, I’m missing one.’ When he said that Hunter perked up and said, ‘We’re writing that today,’ but it took us four months to finish it for some reason. Most of them fall out in an hour or two, but we had to work for that one.”

The track “Merle Haggard” not only pays homage to one of Rodgers’ heroes, but features the singer tapping into Haggard’s mastery of heartache tunes. Rodgers sings, “You’re the leaving in the story, you were good but no good for me / Mama tried to warn me you’d break my heart in two, Merle Haggard woulda wrote songs about you.”

Another tear-jerker is “Good Dogs,” a heart-wrenching tribute that captures the misery of losing a dog.

“That song was born on a writing retreat. I wrote it with Hunter Phelps, Brent Anderson and Jake Mitchell. Hunter had just gotten a dog and came in with that title,” Rodgers says. “It was one of those where we had to keep walking out of the room to go cry in private thinking about dogs. It’s hard to write those songs, dogs are family members that don’t get to stick around as long as they should.”

On top of more gems on the project, like “Girls That Smoke,” “Bars Back Home” and the title track “Bet You’re from a Small Town,” Rodgers’ shows off the shine of his 11-year journey on his debut album.

“They say you have your whole life to write album one,” Rodgers says. “I’ve taken advantage of that.”

Jason Aldean, Carrie Underwood Return No. 1 On MusicRow CountryBreakout Chart

“If I Didn’t Love You” by Jason Aldean and Carrie Underwood returns to No. 1 on the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart this week, marking its third week on top. The singles holds +57 spins over the No. 2 position despite losing a total of -29 spins the last two weeks.

“If I Didn’t Love You” was written by Kurt Allison, Tully Kennedy, John Morgan and Lydia Vaughan, and produced by Michael Knox.

Underwood earned a nomination for Entertainer of the Year at this year’s 55th Annual CMA Awards, which airs live from Nashville on Wednesday, Nov. 10 (8:00 – 11:00 p.m. EST) on ABC. Click here to see a full list of nominees.

Click here to view the latest edition of The MusicRow Weekly containing the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart.

RaeLynn Takes Fans Back Home On Full ‘Baytown’ Album [Interview]

RaeLynn. Photo: Alysse Gafkjen

Two-time ACM New Female Vocalist of the Year nominee RaeLynn has many things to celebrate this season with the birth of her first child, daughter Daisy Rae, on Sept. 8, and the release of her new full-length album, Baytown, which is available everywhere today (Sept. 24).

After releasing a six-song EP by the same name in 2020, the Baytown album expands upon the original set by adding eight more tracks to the full-length project.

Marking her debut studio album on Florida Georgia Line‘s Round Here Records and her first full-length release since 2017’s Wildhorse, RaeLynn is a writer on all 14 songs on the Corey Crowder-produced album alongside some of Nashville’s most in-demand writers, including Bob DiPiero, Brett James, Emily Weisband, Tyler Hubbard, and Crowder.

Baytown, named after RaeLynn’s hometown outside of Houston, Texas, draws serious inspiration from the place that made her the person and artist that she is today.

“Any artists I meet that didn’t come from Nashville are all unique in their own way. What makes them unique is where they grew up, what they were around, what music they were surrounded by, and what their environment was,” RaeLynn tells MusicRow. “For the first couple of years, I was trying to figure out who I was in Nashville. I realized that what makes me different and what makes me special is that I grew up in a place called Baytown and being the baby of eight kids. I realized that all of these different things that are woven inside of me have made me who I am, and that’s going to show into my music,” she explains.

“The best way for me to describe Baytown is country people with a little grit and sass.” When describing Baytown in a sonic sense, she sums, “It’s like if Cardi B and Dolly Parton had a baby. It’s fun, but a little ratchet in the best way.”

With tracks like the heartfelt “Small Town Prayer” and the revealing “Only In A Small Town,” RaeLynn offers up the different shades of growing up in a place like Baytown on the aptly named record.

“I love those two songs because they go to show the undeniable pureness and authenticity of a small town that makes us who we are, but then they also have the rowdiness of what a small town represents too. Everybody knows each other and gets into a little bit of trouble, but everybody has each other’s back too,” she comments.

Additionally, the album includes a couple of welcomed duets, including the entertaining “Why I Got A Truck” with her former The Voice coach Blake Shelton, and the flirty “Get That All The Time” with Mitchell Tenpenny.

Baytown also features familiar favorites like “Keep Up,” “Judgin’ To Jesus,” “Rowdy,” and “Bra Off,” while also giving fans new tracks that showcase more sides of the Platinum singer-songwriter that they haven’t heard before.

RaeLynn. Photo: Ford Fairchild

“She Chose Me,” which undoubtedly serves as the album’s centerpiece, takes listeners behind the curtain of RaeLynn’s life as she learned that she was the result of an extramarital affair. Giving a vulnerable invitation into how she came into this world, the track chronicles her mother’s momentous choice to keep the pregnancy despite the small town scrutiny while also serving as a prequel to her 2016 breakout Gold-certified single, “Love Triangle.”

Coming full-circle from there, RaeLynn also shares a demo version of “Made For Me To Love,” which make her own daughter, Daisy, her muse for the first of what’s sure to be many times to come.

With over 840 million career streams and nearly half a million album equivalents sold, one of country music’s newest parents will be spending the next few months diving into motherhood with plans of returning to the road in early 2022.

“I don’t know anything about [motherhood] so it’s all gonna be new to me, but I’m beyond excited,” she shared as she was preparing for Daisy’s arrival. “This pregnancy has honestly been an incredible experience… I’ve had such a beautiful time being pregnant, and it’s been so cool to be able to do something beyond myself.

“I’m gonna miss being pregnant for those special moments, but I am excited to drink a margarita,” she jokingly admits.

RaeLynn’s full-length album, Baytown, is available now.

Nashville A-Team Musician Bob Moore Dies

Pictured: Bob Moore, circa 1960. Photograph by: Bill Forshee, courtesy of CMHOF

Nashville A-Team bassist, Bob Moore, has died. He was 88.

Throughout his more than 60-year career, Moore was one of the lead musicians to utilize the bass guitar as a country music instrument and was the first-call bassist on Music Row’s A-Team of session musicians from the 1950s through the 1970s. Along the way, he provided rhythmic support and ideas for an array of classic country hits, including Patsy Cline’s “I Fall to Pieces,” Brenda Lee’s “I’m Sorry,” Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Roger Miller’s “King of the Road,” Elvis Presley’s “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” Marty Robbins’s “El Paso,” Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler,” and Conway Twitty’s “Hello Darlin’,” among countless others.

Pictured: Bob Moore on bass during a Brenda Lee recording session at Bradley’s Film and Recording Studio. Photograph by: Elmer Williams, courtesy of CMHOF

Born in 1932, he was raised by his grandmother near Nashville’s Shelby Park. By age nine he set up a shoeshine box near the entrance of the historic Ryman Auditorium, and before long was invited backstage to shine the boots and shoes of Opry stars.

Only a year later, Moore had begun performing in a band he formed called the Eagle Rangers. When Moore was 14, he joined the Grand Ole Opry duo Jamup & Honey before joining Little Jimmy Dickens’ band at 18. At age 23, he accepted an offer to play on the famed Red Foley television show, Ozark Jubilee.

Moore eventually met pianist and record producer Owen Bradley, who told Moore that he would soon be operating a Nashville office for Decca Records to which Moore would be a regular session bassist.

In the 1950s, Moore began playing on Nashville recordings that represented what would become known as rockabilly, including for Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Brenda Lee, Bobby Helms, Wanda Jackson, and Johnny Burnette and the Rock & Roll Trio.

In 1961, Moore also enjoyed a major pop hit of his own with his instrumental recording “Mexico.” The song went No. 1 in Germany and reached No. 7 on the U.S. pop charts.

Moore was honored as part of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museums’ Nashville Cats: A Celebration of Music City Session Players program, and was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2007, along with other members of the Nashville A-Team.

“Bob Moore’s contributions to American music are incalculable,” shares Kyle Young, CEO, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “Raised in East Nashville, he was a musical master and the most-recorded bass player in country music history. As a key member of the much-vaunted ‘A-Team’ of Nashville session players, he was both an inspiration and an innovator. He was the heartbeat behind classics including Patsy Cline’s ‘Crazy,’ Sammi Smith’s ‘Help Me Make It Through the Night,’ Kenny Rogers’s ‘The Gambler,’ and hundreds of other recordings that changed the course of country music. He played with Johnny Cash, Tom T. Hall, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and so many others, and he helped establish Monument Records, where he was a player, a producer, an arranger and a hit artist. He once said, ‘Anyone who has heard me play the bass knows my soul.’ We’re fortunate that he shared his soul with us for so many years.”

Memorial arrangements have not yet been announced.