On The Row: George Birge Talks His Journey From Waterloo Revival To ‘Beer Beer, Truck Truck’

George Birge. Photo: Dustin Haney

Singer-songwriter George Birge made waves this year with his tongue-in-cheek viral hit, “Beer Beer, Truck Truck.”

After Birge saw a TikTok from influencer and music educator Erynn Chambers who joked that men in country music only sing about “beer beer, truck truck, girls in tight jeans,” he was inspired to write a song in response. Thus “Beer Beer, Truck Truck” was born.

In less than 2 weeks, Smith’s demo of “Beer Beer, Truck Truck” had 2.7 million views and earned him 130k followers. In June of 2021, Records Nashville, the Music City division of Barry Weiss‘ Records, a joint venture with Sony Music Entertainment, announced it had signed Birge to the roster. He released it as officially single in August, with Chambers as a co-writer.

“Basically every record label in Nashville started blowing up my phone, which was everything I prayed for. It was really surreal,” Birge said in a recent virtual visit with MusicRow

But Birge wasn’t just another overnight TikTok sensation. The singer-songwriter first moved to Nashville as part of the country duo Waterloo Revival, and had modest success with singles “Something You Ain’t Ever Had” and “What Guy Wouldn’t” on Big Machine Records and then Show Dog Nashville. The duo announced their break up in February of 2021.

“Waterloo Revival brought me to town and was where I’ve had some of my best memories on the road,” Birge said. “But I was in a place where I wasn’t super excited with the direction I was being pushed in.

“It was a scary time because you dream your whole life of getting a record deal and then you’re sitting there with what you prayed for and it wasn’t exactly what you thought it was going to be,” Birge added about his time in Waterloo Revival. “So in the middle of last year I asked out of my record deal, without a backup plan.”

After asking out of his recording contract, Birge started to write songs for other artists, which proved to be successful for the Wide Open Music songwriter. Birge has written songs with Matt Stell, Chris Lane, Gary LeVox and Jay Demarcus, among others.

He also got pulled in to write on Clay Walker’s current single “Need A Bar Sometimes,” and “Catching Up With An Ol’ Memory,” on Walker’s latest album Texas To Tennessee.

Walker, who boasts over 1 million followers on TikTok, was the one who encouraged Birge to start taking the platform seriously. Birge remembers having a beer with Walker after the two were finished writing for the day, and coming to the country star for advice on what to do next, after he had left Waterloo Revival.

“He sat me down and said, ‘Man, I’ll tell you exactly what you need to do.’ Clay is a superstar and has been around the block, so I’m expecting some pretty profound advice. He says, ‘You need to put your songs on TikTok,'” Birge said with a laugh. “That wasn’t exactly what I was hoping to hear from Clay Walker.”

But that night Birge created a TikTok account and saw Chambers’ video that spawned “Beer Beer, Truck Truck.” The rest is history.

Now, with a new record deal and a viral hit under his belt, Birge is releasing more music. His newest song, “Mind On You,” was released today (Nov. 5). Co-written by Birge along with Jaron Boyer, Michael Tyler and Colt Ford, and produced by Ash Bowers, “Mind On You” almost wasn’t recorded by Birge.

“I thought it could be a big hit for Jason Aldean, so I sent it to his producer Michael Knox. About 24 hours later I got an email saying, ‘Hey, don’t play this song for anyone else. We’re taking it,'” Birge said.

However, once Birge signed to Records Nashville, executive Barry Weiss told him he should cut the song. “With my tail tucked between my legs I asked for the song back,” Birge said. “I cannot say enough about how gracious that camp was. They gave me the song back and were so excited for my story.”

Birge’s “Mind On You” is available on all streaming platforms now.

Artist Action: Elvie Shane, Mandy Barnett, BlackHawk

Elvie Shane’s “My Boy” Receives Gold Certification

Pictured (L-R): Brian Wolf (Maverick), JoJamie Hahr (BBR Music Group), Elvie Shane, Jay Jones (BBR Music Group)

Wheelhouse Records’ Elvie Shane is celebrating another career milestone as his No. 1 single “My Boy” has officially been certified Gold by the RIAA, with over 500,000 units sold since its release. Shane was surprised with the news of his Gold certification during an interview with CMT Hot 20 Countdown.

“Music isn’t just the noise we make,” shares Shane. “It is the people that consume it. This song isn’t just a song. It is a chapter out of my personal journey. A sincerest ‘Thank You’ to my listeners for giving my story a Gold Record.”

“My Boy” is included on Shane’s debut full-length album Backslider. Shane recently spoke with MusicRow about the project and how it came to life.

 

 

Mandy Barnett Becomes Newest Member Of The Grand Ole Opry

Pictured (L-R): Marty Stuart, Connie Smith, and Mandy Barnett. Photo: Chris Hollo

Mandy Barnett was welcomed as the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry Tuesday night (Nov. 2) by Marty Stuart.

Barnett began her set with her very first single, “Now That’s Alright with Me,” following it with various stages of her career, including “(Won’t You Come Home) Bill Bailey,” which she performed countless times in the role of late Grand Ole Opry star Patsy Cline in the musical Always…Patsy Cline.

Stuart took the stage, saying: “You are like our sister, and we all want to be around you at this moment.” Inviting his band and Connie Smith to join him center stage, Stuart continued, “Many meaningful ladies have sung at this microphone, and I can’t think of anyone who was more born for this moment than you. 520 times—that’s how many times you’ve now played the Opry. That’s a long audition! On behalf of the cast, staff, and all the members, we welcome you with open arms and deepest hearts.”

“This is just so unbelievable,” exclaimed Barnett. “I’ve been pinching myself since the birthday invite. This means everything to me. I’ve wanted to be a part of the Opry since I was a little girl. This is just the greatest moment of my life, and I will cherish it.”

Barnett recently caught up with MusicRow to discuss her road to the Grand Ole Opry. She is scheduled to appear in four “Opry Country Christmas” shows debuting this coming holiday season at the Opry House on Nov. 28, Dec. 5, 8, and 12.

 

 

BlackHawk Donated $25,000 To Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

Pictured (L-R): Dave Robbins (BlackHawk), Henry Paul (BlackHawk), Dr. Justin Balko (Vanderbilt), Lori Stefanski (Vanderbilt)

At the recent fifth annual Freeborn Jam benefit concert held at Nashville’s City Winery, members of country group BlackHawk continued their annual tradition of donating to Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

Henry Paul and Dave Robbins presented a $25,000 check to Vanderbilt on behalf of BlackHawk’s “Van Stephenson Memorial Cancer Research Fund.” Stephenson, a founding member of BlackHawk, passed away from melanoma in 2001. Since 2006, the fund has generated $400,000 for the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

“BlackHawk’s commitment to fund cancer research continues as we strive to honor Van’s dying wish, ‘That we do what we can to try and find a cure,'” says Paul. “This effort started more than twenty years ago and will continue into the foreseeable future.”

“What an honor for Henry and I to support Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center year after year in memory of our friend and original co-founder of Blackhawk, Van Stephenson,” adds Robinson.

Executive Team Set For Premiere Of ‘CMT Music Awards’ On CBS

Pictured (L-R): Switched On Entertainment’s John Hamlin, CMT’s Leslie Fram, CMT’s Margaret Comeaux

CMT has revealed its executive team responsible for the 2022 CMT Music Awards, as the show makes its global premiere on CBS. Margaret Comeaux (CMT), John Hamlin (Switched On Entertainment) and Leslie Fram (CMT) will all serve as Executive Producers of country’s only entirely fan-voted award show. The CMT Music Awards will air live on Sunday, April 3, 2022 at 7 p.m. CT exclusively on CBS, and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

The upcoming telecast marks the 14th year Comeaux and Hamlin have been at the center of ViacomCBS’ signature show and the 10th consecutive year for Fram. Also included as the executive team is Amy Lin Johnson (Co-Executive Producer), Jackie Barba and Heather D. Graffagnino (Executives in Charge of Production), and Shanna Strassberg and Taryn Hurd (Talent Producers).

“On behalf of the entire production team at CMT, many of whom have worked together for decades, we’re thrilled to bring the 2022 CMT Music Awards to CBS LIVE from Nashville,” says Comeaux. “Every year, we strive to deliver the most exciting, unexpected musical event on television and we look forward to elevating that one-of-a-kind experience within our ViacomCBS family.”

Earlier this year, ViacomCBS announced the 2022 CMT Music Awards would premiere on CBS for the first time. This past June, the 2021 show saw more than a 10% increase in total viewers and dominated as the No. 1 most social program across all of TV for the night. Additionally, the company announced it would be kicking off its inaugural Country Music Week with special programming and events in the lead-up to the show’s inaugural CBS broadcast. 

Celebrated for its cross-genre performances, the CMT Music Awards have been on air since 2005. The 2021 show, hosted by Kelsea Ballerini and Kane Brown, featured the most ever first-time collaborations and blended-genre pairings in the show’s history.

Belmont University Names Ballroom To Honor Alumnus Brad Paisley & Kimberly Williams-Paisley

Pictured (L-R): Belmont University President Greg Jones, Rev. Susan Pendleton Jones, Brad Paisley, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Brad Paisley Scholarship recipient Jeanette Porcello. Photo: Courtesy of Sam Simpkins/Belmont University.

Belmont University is honoring alumnus Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams-Paisley by naming the ballroom in the campus’ new Fisher Center for the Performing Arts after the couple.

The announcement was made during “A Night of Stories and Songs” at the new performing arts center, celebrating the university’s new president Greg Jones‘ inauguration on Thursday, Nov. 4.

“Brad and Kim together represent so much of what is wonderful about Belmont,” said Jones. “To paraphrase a song that Brad has sung, ‘When we all get where we are going’ we’ll all be grateful and for the better because we’ve been associated with Kimberly Williams-Paisley and with Brad Paisley. This remarkable facility will long be associated with the legacy of both of their contributions to Belmont.”

The dedication is attributed to the Paisleys work they’re doing with The Store—a nonprofit they founded in 2019 that helps supplies grocers to those in need—and to express Belmont’s gratitude for the endowed scholarship fund the couple created and the strong example Paisley sets for students following in his footsteps.

Since opening at the beginning of the pandemic in Spring 2020, The Store has served more than 1.5 million meals.

The Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams-Paisley ballroom unveiling. Photo: Courtesy of Sam Simpkins/Belmont University

“I look around now at what Belmont is doing, and it’s incredible,” said Brad Paisley. “When I was going here, I just wanted to find my place in the Nashville music business, but now you can almost do anything you want in the world once you get a degree here. That impacts our charity in a way we never envisioned when we first pitched this idea—It can be so much more than a grocery store. I just want to use us as a school and as a charity to do good things in the world.”

The Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams-Paisley Ballroom can be utilized for acoustic and amplified performances, as well as a rehearsal space for performances on the main stage of the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, a stunning new Nashville venue which was officially dedicated in September.

Cody Johnson To Celebrate Holidays This Year With First Christmas Project

Cody Johnson is releasing his first holiday album, A Cody Johnson Christmas, on Nov. 19 via CoJo Music / Warner Music Nashville. In celebration of the new project, Johnson is gifting fans with the release of a new holiday original, “Hat Made Of Mistletoe,” across all digital music platforms today (Nov. 5).

The ten-song project includes many of Johnson’s holiday favorites, along with two new songs penned by producer Trent Willmon. Johnson and Willmon also crafted newly-imagined arrangements for the standards “Away In A Manger” and “Silent Night.”

“It feels great to finally share all the details about my first Christmas album,” said Cody. “Every song on this record holds a special memory for my family. I hope my fans can make their own memories listening this holiday season.”

A Cody Johnson Christmas Track List:
1. Christmas All Year Long – Trent Willmon
2. Pretty Paper – Willie Nelson
3. I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Kim Gannon, Walter Kent, Buck Ram
4. If We Make It Through December – Merle Haggard
5. Away In A Manger – *arrangement by Cody Johnson, Trent Willmon
6. Hat Made Of Mistletoe – Trent Willmon
7. White Christmas – Irving Berlin
8. Silent Night (feat. Clara, Brandi, and Cori Johnson) – *arrangement by Cody Johnson, Trent Willmon
9. Feliz Navidad (feat. Kevin Fowler and Roger Creager) – José Feliciano
10. Santa Claus Is Back In Town – Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller

Sony Music Nashville Signs Nate Smith

Pictured (L-R, front row): Randy Goodman, Sony Music Nashville Chairman & CEO; Nate Smith; Chief Zaruk, The Core Entertainment; (L-R, back row): Steve Hodges, SMN EVP, Promotion and Artist Development; Caryl Atwood, SMN SVP, Sales and Streaming; Ken Robold, SMN EVP and COO; Margaret Tomlin, SMN VP, A&R; Jennifer Way, SMN SVP, Marketing; Gaby Zelhof, SMN A&R Representative; Nicole Hunt, SMN Director, Marketing; Simon Tikhman, The Core Entertainment. Photo: Alan Poizner

Sony Music Nashville has signed country singer-songwriter Nate Smith.

The powerful vocalist first earned acclaim soon after releasing the poignant “One of These Days,” which he wrote after a wildfire devastated his hometown of Paradise, California. The reaction to the track inspired Smith to move to Nashville.

After he arrived in Music City, Smith released his biggest song to date, “Wildfire,” and signed a publishing deal with Sony/ATV. He has since released new music including “Sleeve” and “Under My Skin,” which has amassed over 40 million on-demand streams to date. Smith is managed by Kevin “Chief” Zaruk and Simon Tikhman with The Core Entertainment.

To celebrate his newfound record deal, Smith released a new emotive track co-written with Trannie Anderson and Jonathan Smith, “Raised Up.”

“The day we wrote it, I had to leave the room because I was tearing up,” Smith says. “The song talks about ‘Any time I lose my way, I turn the way I was raised up,’ and for me, whenever I’m lost or feeling alone, I’ve got God. That has really helped me, but it can be whatever somebody needs. It could be thinking about something your grandma said one time you now hold on to, or the phrase you have tattooed on your arm. It’s however you find your way back home.”

Charlie Daniels Patriot Awards Dinner Raises Over $250,000 For U.S. Military Vets

Pictured (L-R:) Hazel Daniels, U.S Navy Vet Mathias Gutman. Photo: Robyn McIsaac

The 3rd annual Charlie Daniels Patriot Awards Dinner was held last week at Nashville’s City Winery, raising more than $250,000 for our nation’s military veterans.

The benefit for The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project featured a performance by Chris Young, special guest speakers, and presentations of the 2021 Charlie Daniels Patriot Award to recipients such as country artist Darryl Worley, decorated military veteran Mark “Oz” Geist (Benghazi survivor and co-author of 13 Hours/U.S. Marine Corps, retired), the Daniels Center at Middle Tennessee State University, and firearms manufacturers Marty and Cindy Daniel of Daniel Defense.

Pictured: 2021 Patriot Award recipient Darryl Worley performs. Photo: Robyn McIsaac

Prior to his passing last year, Daniels and his longtime manager and TCDJHP co-founder David Corlew handpicked this year’s Patriot Award recipients. The criteria is based on the mission of the organization: to support veterans in their return, rehabilitation, and reintegration back into civilian life. Previous recipients include Young, Mike Huckabee, Judy Seale, William Horton, Donnie Mingus and The Shepherd’s Center.

Special guest speakers and presenters during the evening included Corlew, TCDJHP board member Major General Terry “Max” Haston (retired), former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, David Rutherford (former U.S. Navy SEAL), Eddie Gallagher (former U.S. Navy SEAL) and decorated military veteran Chris Spence, one of the real horse soldiers portrayed in the 2018 film 12 Strong starring Chris Hemsworth.

“This year we were faced with both a physical challenge as well as an emotional one … moving venues as well as trying to do one without Charlie,” explains Corlew. “I quote Charlie in saying, ‘By the grace of almighty God and the United States military,’ we did it. It was an epic evening with friends, family, an awesome group of veterans, warriors and music giants. It couldn’t have been any better, and I know Charlie would be proud. We’d also like to send a special ‘thank you’ salute to 96-year-old Navy vet Mathias Gutman who was in attendance. He served on six islands in the South Pacific during World War II. A true American hero.”

“I was humbled to receive the Patriot Award in the presence of so many veterans that have given selfless service to our nation,” adds Worley, who also performed his patriotic 9-11 No. 1 hit “Have You Forgotten” during the evening. “I was so honored to be at the top of Charlie’s list. It all just makes me want to ‘do it better!’”

Thomas Rhett Shares New Single, Reveals New Album Coming Early 2022

Thomas Rhett is giving fans a taste of his upcoming sixth studio album Where We Started with a new single, “Slow Down Summer,” out now via The Valory Music Co.

The new track features a piano melody and a 14-piece string section and was written on retreat in Montana with Rhett’s frequent collaborators Ashley Gorley, Jesse Frasure, Sean Douglas and his father Rhett Akins. Produced by Frasure and Dann Huff, the song captures a romance which burns hot, but is destined to change with the seasons. Where We Started is set for release in early 2022.

“I wrote this song from the point of view of two people who are in love during senior year of high school,” Rhett explains. “I envisioned them headed off to different schools and they’re starting to understand that the moment the weather starts to change, they’ve got a 99-percent chance this relationship is not going to work. I know that myself and a lot of people have been there before, wishing the fireworks stage doesn’t have to end.”

“Slow Down Summer” comes on the heels of Rhett’s 18th career No. 1. Rhett recently wrapped his headlining “The Center Point Road Tour,” and is nominated once again for Male Vocalist of the Year at the upcoming 55th annual CMA Awards on Nov. 10.

Eric Church Hits No. 1 On MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart

Eric Church. Photo: Reid Long

“Heart On Fire” by Eric Church is the most spun single this week on the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart. Solely written by Church, the single gained +95 spins pushing it to the No. 1 spot.

Church is currently on the road on his Gather Again Tour with dates slated through May of 2022. In the arenas Church has adopted an in-the-round set up, with the stage at the center of each arena floor in order to accommodate as many fans as possible.

Church, in addition to Chris Stapleton, lead in nominations for this year’s 55th Annual CMA Awards with five nominations. Church is nominated for Entertainer, Male Vocalist, Album (Heart), Single (“Hell Of A View”), and Song of the Year (“Hell Of A View”) at Wednesday night’s awards (Nov. 10).

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

UMG Nashville Promotes Annie Ortmeier To Sr. VP Streaming Marketing

Annie Ortmeier

Universal Music Group Nashville has promoted Annie Ortmeier to Sr. Vice President, Streaming Marketing. She will now oversee the company’s streaming department.

Ortmeier joined UMG Nashville in 2013 as Director of Digital Marketing where she managed digital partner relationships including all domestic audio and video streaming services. Since then she has earned promotions to Sr. Director, Streaming & Digital Marketing followed by Vice President, Marketing – Digital Accounts.

During her tenure, Ortmeier has played a vital role in making UMG Nashville the country music market leader in streaming. In her new role, Ortmeier will oversee all DSP relationships as well as be responsible for overseeing both audio and video streaming marketing strategy for all UMG Nashville artists globally. UMG Nashville’s expansive roster includes Alan Jackson, Billy Currington, Boy Named Banjo, Brandon Lay, Brothers Osborne, Carrie Underwood, Catie Offerman, Caylee Hammack, CB30, Chris Stapleton, Chrissy Metz, Darius Rucker, Dierks Bentley, Eric Church, Gary Allan, George Strait, Jon Langston, Jon Pardi, Jordan Davis, Josh Turner, Kacey Musgraves, Kassi Ashton, Keith Urban, Kip Moore, Kylie Morgan, Lauren Alaina, Little Big Town, Luke Bryan, Maddie & Tae, Mickey Guyton, Parker McCollum, Priscilla Block, Reba, Sam Hunt, Sam Williams, Shania Twain, Travis Denning, and Vince Gill.

“Over the years Annie’s industry knowledge, leadership and dedication has played a large part in UMG Nashville’s overall success,” says UMG Nashville’s EVP / COO, Mike Harris. “Having Annie oversee all streaming and video strategy going forward is the perfect fit to position both UMG Nashville and artists for continued success in the future. Congratulations to Annie on this well-deserved promotion.”

Ortmeier was honored by MusicRow in its 2018 class of Rising Women on the Row.