DISClaimer Single Reviews (02/29/12)

Phillip Thomas and Joanna Smith

I love it when the underdog wins.

Despite the presence of legendary Johnny Bush, superstar Carrie Underwood and funnyman Cledus T. Judd, it’s the far lesser known Joanna Smith who carries home today’s Disc of the Day award. She and producer Buddy Cannon have the finest sounding single of this week, by far.

Our DisCovery Award winner introduces himself with a seven-song EP titled Scars. Phillip Thomas recorded it in Austin with what appears to be a largely Latino supporting cast. Bueno.

Writer: Phillip Thomas/James DeBerry; Producer: Omar Vallejo & Phillip Thomas; Publisher: Matt Stevens, BMI; Muy Grande  (www.phillipthomasmusic.com)
—The scampering banjo that underscores this country rocker is just one of the reasons that it’s a slab of excitement. Deft electric guitar work, a pulse-quickening rhythm track and a soaring melody bring this thing home smartly. And then there’s his youthful, soaring, tenor vocal. You’ve got something, kid.

CLEDUS T. JUDD/Double D Cups

Writer: Brett Beavers/Jim Beavers/Brett Warren/Brad Warren; Producer: Cledus T. Judd & Chris P Cream Clark; Publisher: Beavertime Tunes/Chestnut Barn/Chrysalis One/EMI Blackwood/Sony-ATV Tree/StyleSonic, BMI; Warner Bros.
—As usual, his parody perfectly apes the original sonically. In this case, it’s “Red Solo Cup.” If they left out any synonym or nickname for breasts in this lyric, I sure didn’t spot it.

MARTY McINTOSH/She Makes Me Look Good
Writer: Tom Botkin/Tony Stampley/Toni Dae; Producer: Frizzell Productions; Publisher: Paris Landing, BMI; Nashville America (track) (www.martymcintoshmusic.com)
—You have no business being in a recording studio.

JOHNNY BUSH /Who’ll Buy My Memories
Writer: Willie Nelson/Eddie Noack; Producer: Justin Trevino; Publisher: none listed; Heart of Texas (track) (www.heartoftexascountry.com)
—This Texas honky-tonk legend’s latest is a whopping 16 songs long. Some of the tunes are chestnuts, such as “Am I That Easy to Forget,” “Pop a Top,” “Drinking Champagne,” and “I’ve Got a New Heartache.” Others are lesser known, but ALL are bona fide classic country. His vocal on the Willie Nelson title tune is robust, if a little timeworn in the vibrato department. Trevino’s production is hillbilly perfection.

JERRY VANDIVER & VICTORIA BANKS/Leave No TraceWriter: none listed; Producer: Jerry Vandiver; Publisher: none listed; Paddle Songs (track) (www.jerryvandiver.com)
—Vandiver is a successful Nashville tunesmith with such credentials as Tim McGraw’s “For a Little While” and Gene Watson’s “Don’t Waste it on the Blues.” He is also an avid canoer, and his True and Deep concept CD is a celebration of paddling on America’s waterways. This lilting, dobro-laced duet with 2010 Canadian Country Female Vocalist of the Year winner Banks is about enjoying nature without marring or spoiling it. Soothing and highly listenable.

Writer: Carrie Underwood/Chris DeStefano/Ashley Gorley; Producer: Mark Bright; Publisher: Carrie-Okie/EMI April/Sugar Glider/External Combustion/Out of the Taperoom/Songs of Southside Independent, BMI/ASCAP; 19/Arista
—It’s a rocker that warns the title femme about the no-good guy she’s seeing. Oddly for someone with such a fine vocal instrument, she often chooses material with more attitude than melody. This is one of those, but the production surrounding her dazzles.

Writer: Curtis/Flanery/Rhem; Producer: Budy Cannon; Publisher: Tattoo/More Luckey, BMI/ASCAP; KMG (track) (www.curtisandlucke.com)
—They fall in love on spring break, and he becomes her “naughty little secret” just like that bit of body art. Extremely catchy and sung with jaunty charm.

JOANNA SMITH/We Can’t Be Friends
Writer: Brandy Clark/Shane McAnally/Shelley Skidmore; Producer: Buddy Cannon; Publisher: Tunes of Bigger Picture/Bigger Pictures Group/Vista Loma/Crazy Water/Little Blue Egg/Kobalt/Chrysalis/BMG Rights, ASCAP/BMI; Columbia
—This sweet/sad ballad portrays the complexities of lovers who’ve broken up beautifully. Her wistful vocal is echoed by lovely acoustic guitar work and framed in a gorgeous, echoey, wafting production. This is as pretty as it gets.

Writer: Casey Coesel/Chad Hudson; Producer: Michael Bowen & Anson Carter; Publisher: none listed; Black Gold (track) (www.ansoncartermusic.com)
—There already is a Montgomery Gentry. Also, “I’ve got blue collar running through my veins” makes no sense.

ONE NIGHT RODEO/We Could Go to Jail
Writer: Kim Tribble/Keith Follese; Producer: Kim Tribble; Publisher: Songs of Category 5/Tunes of RPM/Magic Midas/Jamanayre, SESAC/BMI; Fox Hill (CDX) (www.onenightrodeo.net)
—They’re so hot for each other that what’s on their minds could be illegal. I like the rapid-fire lyric delivery and the Southern-rock guitar work.

Rusty Gaston Receives Milestone Award from Belmont and ASCAP

L-R: ASCAP's Ryan Beuschel, Michael Martin, LeAnn Phelan, Rusty Gaston, Belmont's Sarah Cates, Dan Keen. Photo: Donnie Hedden

Belmont’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business and industry partner ASCAP celebrated Belmont’s connection to Music Row by honoring alumnus Rusty Gaston, GM and partner of This Music, as the first recipient of The Music City Milestone Award (MCMA). The award recognizes a young Belmont graduate who has achieved superlative success in the entertainment and music industry.

Gaston’s moved from Texas to Nashville 16 years ago and is today at the helm of This Music, a partnership with writers Tim Nichols and Connie Harrington. The company is a  joint venture with Warner/Chappell and supports nine songwriters with hits from artists such as Blake Shelton, Josh Turner, Chris Young and Luke Bryan.

Belmont Instructor of Music Business and creative force behind the MCMA award, Dan Keen notes, “One of the most rewarding facets of nurturing young people is celebrating their growth and successes. Rusty Gaston was a stand out student in my music publishing class at Belmont and is already one of the most successful independent publishers on Music Row. He is the type of person that Belmont and ASCAP want to encourage students and young executives to emulate.”

Underwood’s “Good Girl” Debuts At No. 1

Carrie Underwood’s new single, “Good Girl,” debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Digital Country Songs chart with 108,000 downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The song was released on Friday, Feb. 24.

“Good Girl” is the lead single from Underwood’s forthcoming album due May 1, and was co-written by Underwood, Chris DeStefano, and Ashley Gorley, and produced by Mark Bright.

Since her 2005 debut Some Hearts, Underwood has sold more than 14 million albums and has taken 14 singles to No. 1.

Rucker Celebrates No. 1, Plans New Album

L-R: Steve Hodges/Capitol, Marc Driskill/ASCAP, Frank Rogers, Darius Rucker, Ron Stuve/UMPG, Cyndi Forman/UMPG, Mike Dungan/Capitol. Photo Credit: Jim Wright

Darius Rucker recently celebrated his fifth No. 1 single, “This,” while in Nashville to work on his third album for Capitol Records. The song appears on Rucker’s sophomore album, Charleston, SC 1966.

“‘This’ was a special song for me because it was the first time I ever wrote a song on iChat,” Rucker shared. “Kara [DioGuardi], who had started writing the song with Frank [Rogers], was in Los Angeles and we were in Nashville! I just thought it was the perfect song to really bridge the gap from Learn to Live to this album.”

Rucker is currently in the studio with Rogers and expects to release his new album in Fall 2012. “I come from that ‘album age,’ so with this next record–while we’re writing a lot of material that’s different from Learn to Live and Charleston–we’re still focusing on creating an album fans will hopefully want to listen to from start to finish,” added Rucker.

For more information, visit www.dariusrucker.com.

Photo: “Drink In My Hand” No. 1 Party

L-R: (back row) Kent Earls, Executive Vice President/General Manager, Universal Music Publishing Group; Mike Dungan, President/CEO, Capitol Records, Nashville; Jody Williams, Vice President of Writer/Publisher Relations Nashville, BMI; and Troy Tomlinson, President/CEO, Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville; (front row) co-writer Luke Laird, Eric Church, and co-writer Michael Heeney.

Music industry professionals gathered at BMI’s Nashville office yesterday (Feb. 28) to celebrate Eric Church’s first No. 1 song, “Drink in My Hand.” The rowdy anthem is the second single off of Church’s hit album, Chief. The song was co-written by Luke Laird, who has nine No. 1 hits to his credit, and Church’s long-time collaborator, Michael Heeney, who now has three No. 1s.

Dungan Gets UMG Start Date, Lewis Plans New Venture

(L-R): Mike Dungan, Luke Lewis

Universal Music Group officially announced today (2/29) the appointment of Mike Dungan to Chairman & CEO of Universal Music Nashville Entertainment. The move was first reported by MusicRow on Feb. 24. He will succeed current Chairman & CEO Luke Lewis, who has decided to focus on launching a new music venture in partnership with UMG, with details to be announced shortly.

Lewis will continue to lead UMG Nashville until Dungan takes office starting May 1. The announcement was made today by Lucian Grainge, Chairman & CEO of UMG, and Zach Horowitz, President & COO of the company, to whom Dungan co-reports.

“UMG is committed to expanding opportunities for artists on Music Row and Mike’s appointment is testament to that fact,” stated Grainge. “He is one of music’s most formidable creative executives, whose determination, talent and passion for music have given rise to the careers of countless superstar artists. We’re delighted to welcome him to the UMG  family.”

“I am thrilled to join the Universal team, honored to represent the fine roster of artists under the storied MCA, Mercury, and Lost Highway labels, and proud to have the opportunity to expand on the great legacy that Luke Lewis has built,” said Dungan.

“Mike is one of the best music executives in the business, with a great eye for talent, great ear for songs and great instincts for artist development,” commented Horowitz. “We’re thrilled he has chosen to make UMG his home.”

“During his long, successful tenure leading our Nashville family of labels, Luke has been a bold maverick in applying fresh new approaches to nurture and break country artists,” added Grainge. “We look forward to continuing our relationship with him.”

Credited as one of the leading executives behind country music’s broadening appeal, Dungan has for the last twelve years served as President & CEO of Capitol Nashville, where he assembled a stylistically diverse roster of superstars, including Lady Antebellum, Alan Jackson, Keith Urban, Darius Rucker, Dierks Bentley, Eric Church, and Luke Bryan.

Dungan joined Capitol following time as Senior Vice President and General Manager for Arista Nashville. He was instrumental in developing the careers of artists including Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, Brad Paisley, Pam Tillis, Diamond Rio, and BlackHawk. Prior to that he held a variety of promotion, sales, and marketing positions with Arista, RCA Records and BMG Distribution.

MusicRowPics: Thomas Rhett Artist Visit

Valory Music Co. artist Thomas Rhett stopped by MusicRow headquarters yesterday (2/28) with Valory VP Promotion, George Briner, to share his music and visit with the staff. Rhett, who joked about his grade school nickname “T-Rhett,” is no stranger to Country music. The young musician grew up immersed in it, often hitting the road with his father, country artist Rhett Akins. But it wasn’t until he was in college that Rhett decided to pursue a Country music career for himself. He signed his first publishing deal with EMI in 2010 and landed his first cut, “I Ain’t Ready To Quit,” on Jason Aldean’s multi-platinum album, My Kinda Party. A year later, he signed a record deal with Valory.

The Georgia native played “What’cha Got In That Cup,” an up-tempo number co-written with his father. Rhett then confessed the favorite song he’s ever written was his follow-up performance, “If I Could Have A Beer With Jesus.”

He also performed his new single, “Something To Do With My Hands,” which is now available on iTunes, and currently climbing MusicRow’s CountryBreakout Chart.

Rhett is currently scheduled to appear on select dates with Miranda Lambert‘s On Fire tour, and his debut album is expected later in 2012.


Swift Extends ACM Invitation to Teen Battling Cancer

It looks like Taylor Swift won’t be single at this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards. The ACM Entertainer of the Year nominee has a date: 18-year-old Kevin McGuire. According to a Facebook event page, “Taylor Swift Take Kevin McGuire To Prom!” created by McGuire’s sister Victoria, the New Jersey teen was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 13. McGuire beat the illness in April 2010 but recently relapsed, prompting Victoria to start petitioning Swift to take Kevin to prom.

Upon seeing the petition, Swift intervened. While she regretfully told the teen that she would be unable to attend his upcoming prom, she said she would do him one better. “The ACM Awards are coming up.. Would you be my date?” she countered.

“Taylor, I would l love to go with you. Thank you!” McGuire said on Philadelphia’s CBS 3.

“Thank you so so so so so much!” McGuire’s sister recently posted to Facebook. “The McGuire family could never show how grateful we are to all of you! We have won in more than one way.. we got Taylor to take Kevin on a date, and we have made so many good friends along the way!”

The 47th annual ACM Awards air Apr. 1 on CBS. Swift is nominated for Female Vocalist, Video of the Year (“Mean”), and Entertainer of the Year.

Scotty McCreery Gets Gold For His “Trouble,” Pranks Paisley

McCreery dressed like Paisley, complete with goatee, and surprised him onstage.

Scotty McCreery’s second single, “The Trouble With Girls,” has been certified Gold for reaching sales of 500,000 units, becoming his second single release to receive a Gold or higher certification by the RIAA.

McCreery’s platinum debut album Clear As Day debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200, making him the youngest man in history to open at the top of the all-genre chart with a debut release. It also garnered the highest sales of any country solo album released last year and held the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart for six weeks.

For 2012, McCreery has been on the road with Brad Paisley‘s Virtual Reality Tour 2012 and the tour mates have been scheming pranks. During Paisley’s show, he projected doctored photos of McCreery’s head on the body of a muscular man in a bathing suit, and when he sings “Celebrity,” the screens flash fake tabloid headlines “Is Scotty McCreery Brad Paisley’s Love Child?”

McCreery capitalized on the publicity by dressing up like Paisley and surprising him onstage.

“Apparently Brad leaves his hat backstage at every show, but I didn’t find out until last week,” McCreery says. “I was going to take the hat out onstage that day and poke fun, but we decided it would be too early in the tour because it would leave too much time for him to prank me back. He loved it! He was cracking up. So now I am sleeping with one eye open.”

McCreery is also nominated for ACM New Artist of the Year, along with Brantley Gilbert and Hunter Hayes. Voting runs March 19 through April 1 on the ACM site, and GAC will premiere its ACM New Artist of the Year special on March 19.

Photo: “All Your Life” No. 1 Party

The great tradition of musical family was the theme of the day, when BMI toasted the team behind The Band Perry’s No. 1 song “All Your Life” on Monday, Feb. 27. The song was co-written by Clara Henningsen with her father Brian, and was performed by one of the top family groups in country music. Clara and Brian Henningsen were also saluted—along with Clara’s brother Aaron—for co-writing TBP’s hit “You Lie.” Additionally, The Band Perry celebrated its self-titled Republic Nashville debut album reaching platinum status.

“Brian and Clara wrote a great song and we are so happy that they pitched it to us!” says Kimberly Perry. “We get such a great reaction from it live and the fact that it stayed in the #1 position for two consecutive weeks proves what a well-crafted song it is.”

BMI Assistant VP, Writer/Publisher Relations Clay Bradley presented the band and writers with silver cups for the achievement. BMLG President/CEO Scott Borchetta and Republic Nashville President Jimmy Harnen then presented TBP with a Platinum plaque for their self-titled album.

(L-R): (back row) BMI’s Clay Bradley, Republic Nashville’s Jimmy Harnen, Rainbow Skyline Music’s Paul Worley, EMI Music Publishing’s Ben Vaughn, Big Machine Label Group’s Scott Borchetta, producer Nathan Chapman, and Cactus Moser Music’s Cactus Moser; (front row) The Band Perry’s Neil, Reid, and Kimberly Perry; and co-writers Clara Henningsen and Brian Henningsen. Photo: Rick Diamond