Alannah McCready

By Music No Comments

In This Episode:

  • Her new EP “Back to Me”
  • How she chooses songs
  • Writing the songs on her newest EP
  • Is she dating Will?
  • The steamy video for “Can I Call?”
  • When it’s too late for a booty call
  • How this EP was healing
  • What was a wake-up call
  • The difference between Alannah McCready today and Alannah McCready 10 years ago
  • How she ended up in a toxic relationship
  • The journey from Hockey to Country Music
  • Leather pants
  • Her dream collaboration
  • Hockey and Dierks Bentley


“I just wanted it to be a very concise group of songs that covered everything of who I am as an artist right now in my career, and just have something for every listener.” ~Alannah McCready

“I feel like when writing with someone who knows you really well, rather than just being in a co-write with people who don’t know you, I feel like he was able to push me and be like, ‘What would you really say?'” ~Alannah McCready

“It’s a good thing I went through all of that because it allows me to have experiences and shared experiences that I can now write about and as a better songwriter than I was then.” ~Alannah McCready

“I really do feel like I finally know who I am as a person, as an artist, as you know, just an adult in general.” ~Alannah McCready

“Now I’m at a place where I’ve had to cut some people out of my life who were in my life for a very long time.” ~Alannah McCready

“When there are feelings involved and love involved, it’s easy to make excuses for people who don’t necessarily deserve them.” ~Alannah McCready

“It’s and it’s all a crap shoot, especially TikTok.” ~Alannah McCready

” ~Alannah McCready

Guest’s Bio:

Alannah McCready has made a lifelong habit out of pouring her heart and soul into every task she puts her mind to. 

Growing up in Minnesota and getting her first pair of skates at the age of three, it was inevitable that McCready was going to become a hockey star. “It’s called the state of hockey for a reason,” she notes.  The Minneapolis native discovered her expertise as a hockey goalie at skating camp at the age of 10 when she stopped all but two shots from entering the net, proudly telling her father, “I think I might be good at that.” But it was her mother who imprinted her with a love of country music that she grew up on in Oklahoma, the young McCready learning how to sing by watching the techniques of Trisha Yearwood and Martina McBride. “These individuals exemplified who I wanted to be, and that’s when I knew what I wanted to do,” McCready praises of the country icons. In between rounds on the ice, McCready spent her childhood days offering free concerts to her family, her mother often finding her four-year-old daughter in the bathroom at weddings entertaining the guests. “Everything was a song. When I was talking, I would just start singing what I was talking,” McCready describes of making every moment a musical one, a habit she admittedly has yet to break. 

But McCready was just as sharp vocally as she was on the ice. Throughout her youth, McCready maintained her skills in both music and hockey, going so far as to overload her schedule in high school to accommodate both passions, her days starting at 5 a.m. for goalie training, followed by school, team practice, homework, and bed – repeat. The ambitious student would even go such lengths as singing all of her parts at a choral concert to get credit for choir class before jetting off to a hockey game that same night. “I was the only person in middle school and high school who was in choir and played a sport. Everyone thought it was so weird. Everyone always did one or the other and I refused to just pick one,” McCready recalls. “I would sing the National Anthem in my equipment before games and then skate to the net and play.”

After high school, she attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was part of two NCAA Women’s Hockey National Championships. On top of her intense schedule on the ice, McCready was also balancing a hefty workload as a sociology and communications major, which taught her the value of a strict schedule and time management, McCready crediting her athletic background for providing her with an unwavering steadfastness toward her dreams. “I think having to be disciplined at an early age when you’re playing a sport and being pushed and tested like that, carries over,” she observes. “An athletic mentality is something that only athletes really have. Now I’m finding being an independent artist and a singer-songwriter, you have to have the same mindset and the same work ethic because just like in sports and music, no one’s going to want it more for you than you have to.” 

After graduating from college, McCready headed to New York and launched a career in sports public relations for a sports management company, running the daily lives of nearly 20 NFL players. But as much as the job came naturally to the multi-faceted talent, music remained heavy on her heart until one day she had an epiphany that it was now or never to pursue music professionally. “It’s that looming fear of ‘if I don’t do this for myself, I’m never going to reach these goals. No one’s going to pick me up and put me there,’” McCready realized at the time. “’If I don’t give everything to my music now, I might not ever, so I just need to do it.’” With a sense of urgency in place, McCready made the leap and turned her attention to music full-time. She soon headed south, devoting several months to recording her first album Love Hangover in Nashville, which came in the aftermath of years of tumultuous relationships that left her feeling hungover. During one of the recording sessions, McCready arrived at a crossroads, asking publisher Dan Hodges point-blank if he believed she had what it took to be an artist. “I sat down with him. I’m like ‘I need you to be really honest with me. Do you think that I should be doing this for a living? I think I should, but I don’t want to be biased. I really want you to be honest with me and frank with me, do you think that this is something that I could be successful at as a career because it’s what I want.’ He’s like ‘yeah, I think so.’ I’m like ‘ok, done deal.’ I’ve had my foot to the pedal to the metal since then and I started doing music full-time from that point forward,” McCready recalls of the life-changing moment.

Love Hangover and follow-up album Ricochet Heart set McCready on the path that’s led her to her upcoming EP. “Since it’s been three years since Ricochet Heart, I’ve been through more things and I know more about myself, and I think that’s why I’m so excited about the new music because I think both of those albums culminated into exactly what I wanted to do and didn’t want to do in my music anymore. I was in a different headspace when I was writing these and more of a comfortability in who I am and what I want to say in my music,” she explains of the process for the upcoming project that embodies “a lot of feeling.” “I think it’s the most relatable project I’ve ever done.” She sets this tone with the lead single “Something Like That,” an easy-listening, pop-country bop where McCready lays down some unfiltered truths in the first few lines, divulging that she’s been cheated on three times and didn’t recognize her self-worth. But she’s since shed the innocence of the past, finding strength in her mistakes and knowing now that what she truly needs is a nurturing and loving partner. “I think a lot of people are afraid to be okay with the simple things,” she ponders. “I feel like it gets to a point where the song ended up, ‘I want these simple things from someone that shouldn’t be that difficult to give to someone that you’re supposed to care about, and if you can’t give me something like that, then I don’t have time for it.’”

The five-song project continues to dive deep below the surface as McCready relays the feeling of having her life flash before her eyes on the morning she turned 30 in the tear-inducing “On My Own,” to offering her perspective on the modern world of online dating in the cautionary “Take it Slow.” She rounds out the EP with the girl-power anthem “Back to Me” while empathizing with couples who have to communicate long-distance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic with the tender-hearted “Can I Call.” “This new music, I feel like I’m finally in the lane that I should be in,” McCready says of the album that took a decade to be ready for and allows her to feel “completely confident and solid in knowing that this is my lane I want to be in and this is how I want to sound and how I want people to see me as an artist.” 

McCready also views the EP as claiming space in the country music landscape while also offering a source of healing – an element she hopes translates to those who experience it. “I think that music is the most healing thing on earth and I think that the majority of people use music as an emotional healing pathway. Music has healed me so much and writing all three of my projects has healed me in some way or helped me through something just by getting them out and singing it. Writing and singing these things helped me process things in my life, so I just hope that it’s relatable,” she expresses. “I think country music is ready for me at this point. I feel like I’ve been ready for it for a while, but I feel like now we’re moving to a space where it’s finally ready for me.”

Guest’s Contact Info:

Craig Allen Cooper

By Author, Faith, Music, Personal Growth No Comments

If you need some encouragement, this episode will do it! Have you heard Walker Hayes’ song “Craig?” This is THAT Craig! This story is just so good. Craig shares about the first time he met Walker, how they became friends, and about the book they just wrote together. This episode will definitely lift you up.

Also in this episode:

  • The first time he realized Walker was a talented artist
  • What he thought the first time he heard the song
  • Tearing down the fence between their houses
  • How Walker encouraged him
  • How God answered Craig’s questions about his purpose
  • The time he failed as a minister
  • How he got into ministry
  • Why Gary has so much Alabama gear
  • Writing a book with Walker Hayes


“It’s really remarkable what the Lord’ done.” ~Craig Allen Cooper

“The smile of God was on both our families.” ~Craig Allen Cooper

“Dude, mark my words. You [Walker Hayes] will pack stadiums.” ~Craig Allen Cooper

“Jesus is alive and is working today.” ~Craig Allen Cooper

“God’s a refuge for us.” ~Craig Allen Cooper

“God is in charge.” ~Craig Allen Cooper


I’ll share a little bit about me (and I’d love to hear more about you!). I’m a Bible teacher, author, and speaker based in the greater Nashville, TN area. 

Basically, I’m the guy next door. I live an incredibly ordinary life, but I’ve seen God do some extraordinary, remarkable things — things that can only be attributed to Him.

I love meeting new people and hearing everyone’s unique stories, and I have a deep passion for encouraging others — who doesn’t need more encouragement in this broken world?

I believe every person on this planet has divinely attributed value, worth, and dignity as individuals created in the image of God, and that means that you are so valuable in God’s sight. I also believe every single person in the world has been uniquely gifted by God. Each one of us has particular gifts, strengths, and abilities that are intended to make the world a better place, and that’s how God designed it. So, I love focusing on, highlighting, and celebrating other people’s strengths. Let me encourage you!  You may not see it right now, but there is SO MUCH to celebrate in you (because ultimately it came from Him).

You matter. Your life matters.

You can — and do! — make a huge difference in the world around you.

Guest’s Contact Info:

Instagram username

Jason Michael Carroll

By Booze, Music, Personal Growth 2 Comments

This week, Gary spoke with Country Music Artist Jason Michael Carroll, and was it raw! Jason spoke about having an abusive upbringing and the time he thought he had killed his dad.
Also in this episode:

  • The future of radio
  • Living in a small town
  • Being a PK (pastor’s kid)
  • Having an abusive father who was a pastor and how that affected his faith
  • Getting migraines while trying to write songs
  • How the Marine Corps was easier than his upbringing
  • Breaking the cycle of abuse
  • Having a male-hating mom
  • Thinking kids would fix a marriage
  • Reconnecting with his high school sweetheart
  • His mom taking his ex’s side during a messy divorce
  • Being angry with God
  • Writing Easter plays
  • Why he got passed up to host TV shows
  • Not being reactionary


“My father quit smoking and drinking cold turkey, but couldn’t quit his anger.” ~Jason Michael Carroll

“She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” ~Jason Michael Carroll

“I’m trying to be the best me.” ~Jason Michael Carroll

“Be still & know.” ~Jason Michael Carroll


Country music hit-maker Jason Michael Carroll from Youngsville, North Carolina, is gearing up to release his first new album since 2011, featuring the single “Close Enough.” He’ll be hitting the road in 2016 on a cross-country tour and overseas to perform for the military.

Carroll rose to fame after being discovered at a local talent competition in 2004 and later signed to the Arista Nashville label in 2006, releasing his debut album Waitin’ In The Country. The album produced three Top 40 hits including “Alyssa Lies,” “Livin’ Our Love Song,” and “I Can Sleep When I’m Dead” and soared to number one on the US Country charts, selling nearly half a million copies. Both of Carroll’s following albums, Growing Up Is Getting Old and Numbers have charted on the Billboard Top 200.

He has opened for Brooks & Dunn, Trace Adkins, and Alan Jackson, and was a featured part of Carrie Underwood and Martina McBride’s 2008 tour. He also performed on Good Morning America, thrilled the crowds at the CMA Music Festival, and graced the Grand Ole Opry stage on multiple occasions.

Jason Michael Carroll is a consummate songwriter and continues to write and release new material. Carroll remains humble and optimistic about the future, stating, “I don’t take for granted what I’m doing, and I thank God and my fans every day I have the chance to keep doing it.”

Guest’s Contact Info:

Instagram username

TikTok Username

André Darlington

By Author, Booze, Fun, Music No Comments

He had Gary at Booze and Vinyl!! This is probably unlike any other episode you’ve ever heard. André Darlington has written two books where he pairs great music with a craft cocktail recipe! And he’s really done his research on the music so he pairs just the right drink.

In this episode:

  • How to “slut up” a boring beer
  • How to make a GREAT martini
  • Staples you should have in your at-home bar
  • “Naked & Famous”
  • Liquors you probably didn’t know about from around the world
  • The place you probably didn’t think about getting liquor from, but should be
  • The drink that “devastated” Gary
  • Finding dead animals in moonshine
  • The “unicorn beer”
  • The research behind the book


“Make sure your ice is fresh. If your ice has been sitting next to a bag of shrimp, the chances are, it’s going to have taken on some of the flavors, and you don’t want that.” ~André Darlington

“The other thing, specifically with martinis, is that vermouth is low proof. So you want to have that stored in the refrigerator.” ~André Darlington

“You don’t want the bottom of the shelf–just good level, you know, middle-shelf kind of liquor is what you’re looking for.” ~André Darlington

“Nowadays it could be Paper Planes; it could be Naked and Famous.” ~André Darlington

“What’s interesting is all cocktails come from India in a way. When the British were stationed there, they started making what they called “punch,” which the word for “punch” was originally a Hindu word, meaning “five things.” ~André Darlington

“India is really a fascinating place for cocktails.” ~André Darlington

“You’d be surprised at how many bartenders sneak away and Google it.” ~André Darlington

“You can kind of take a can of beer, especially a not great kind of commercial beer, and just slut it up with all kinds of stuff.” ~André Darlington


André Darlington is the author of Booze Cruise: A Tour of the World’s Essential Mixed Drinks and Gotham City Cocktails: Official Handcrafted Food & Drinks From the World of Batman, as well as The Official John Wayne Cocktail Book (Sept 20, “22) and Bar Menu (Oct 18, ‘22). He is co-author of Booze & Vinyl, Booze & Vinyl Vol. 2, The New Cocktail Hour, and TCM’s Movie Night Menus.

In addition to food and beverage writing, André has published two books of poetry. The Prettiest Star was a finalist for INDIES Book of the Year in 2018. Kirkus Reviews called the debut work “breathtaking.” China Bus was an IndieNext Recommended book of 2018 and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award in 2019. 

André has been a columnist for Organic Life magazine, a contributor to Mandarin Quarterly, as well as the alt-weekly, Isthmus, where he was an award-winning food critic and wine columnist. In 2016 he opened the lauded farm-to-table restaurant and natural wine bar, Field Table, designed by JBF award-winning architects, Heliotrope.

André has been a Napa Valley Vintners’ Association Fellow and a judge for the international wine competition, Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, as well as for the American Craft Distillers Association. He is a frequent guest speaker for companies, non-profits, and clubs such as Google, The Smithsonian, ThinkCompany, and Park House Dallas.

Guest’s Contact Info:

You can follow André on Instagram and Facebook.