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Heath Wright

By Music No Comments

This week on the Here’s What We Know Podcast, we sit down with the lead vocals, lead guitar, and fiddle of the renowned ’90s country band, Ricochet. Tall, good-looking, and incredibly talented Heath Wright shares his epic journey from delivering donuts to insurance agencies with our very own host, Gary Scott Thomas, to becoming a cattle rancher in Oklahoma. He reminisces about the bizarre things bands did back in their early days and gives us an inside look into life on a ranch, new music releases, and his reflections on being part of a band. Join us in this amazing episode filled with laughter and more! Tune in now!

This episode is sponsored by:

(Be sure to tell them Gary sent you!)

In this Episode:

  • The early days: Reminiscing about when Ricochet delivered donuts to an insurance agency, showcasing the unique promotional stunts bands undertook while climbing their way to fame.
  • A day in the life of a rancher: Heath candidly shares his current routine of tending to sick animals on his cattle ranch, highlighting how far removed it is from the typical musician’s lifestyle.
  • Nostalgia hits hard: They reflect on ’90s country music trends and discuss why some bands endure while others fade away.
  • The evolution of performance: Heath talks about singing their hit song “Daddy’s Money” 30 years later and jokes about wishing he’d recorded it in a lower key due to changing vocal ranges over time.
  • Behind-the-scenes look at recording: Insights into re-recording classic hits for today’s audience using modern technology are shared, preserving originality while enhancing sound quality.
  • Album release excitement: There’s a buzz around Ricochet’s new album, featuring both rerecorded classics and fresh tracks that blend past glory with present vibrancy.
  • Thought-provoking discussions reveal what goes into maintaining longevity in music, including making tough business decisions similar to those made by other successful groups like Sawyer Brown and KISS.

I’ll Still Be Loving You by Restless Heart (Live Performance with Heath Wright)

Quotations:

“I got to thinking to myself, well, If I’m lucky, I might get 10 years out of this, out of this career. But here I am 30 years later, still, still singing Daddy’s Money in the original key.” ~ Heath Wright

“If I had it to do over again, I don’t know that I would be in a band, or if I were, I would probably do it more like Mark Miller did it.” ~ Heath Wright

“I’m one of those guys who loves country music. I’ve been a country music fan long before I was a country music artist.” ~ Heath Wright

“When I go see a band, and I still do, I still go to concerts, I still love to listen to music and go out and listen to live performances and stuff, and, uh, when I do that, I like to sing along with the songs.” ~ Heath Wright

 “I loved it. It is refreshing that you’re so knowledgeable and that you’ve actually done your homework on Ricochet.” ~ Heath Wright

“I refer to myself as the spare tire of Restless Hearts. So they called me the sixth member. I’m basically the spare tire.” ~ Heath Wright

“My band is made up of professionals. I’ve handpicked the very best musicians out of Eastern Oklahoma and Western Arkansas.” ~ Heath Wright

“I need people to understand that, you know, even though these aren’t the original guys anymore, these are the best guys in the business.” ~ Heath Wright

Bio:

Heath Wright is the lead vocal, lead guitar, and fiddle of the country music band Ricochet. He is a proud native of Vian, Oklahoma, and has always stayed true to his roots, even during his 15-year stint in Nashville, TN. Heath’s journey began on the Rockin’ W Ranch, where he serenaded a captive audience of Hereford cows and honed his musical talents. Despite early shyness, Heath’s passion for music blossomed, leading him to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management at Northeastern State University before delving into a unique Country Music degree program at South Plains College.

Upon graduation, Heath embarked on the most significant journey of his life – the move to Nashville. There, he co-founded Ricochet, a band that skyrocketed to success with chart-topping hits and prestigious awards, including the New Vocal Group of the Year from the Academy of Country Music and several other CMA and ACM nominations. Top 10 hits (and even a multi-week #1) on the Billboard charts were no stranger to Heath and his band, Ricochet. During their highest point, Heath and Ricochet made numerous television appearances on Country Music Awards shows (as performers, presenters, and nominees), the Grand Ole Opry, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. In 2011, Heath received a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sing lead vocals for Restless Heart, a band he admired since childhood. Despite his bustling career, Heath’s proudest achievement remains his son, Dustin Heath, and the cherished moments they share on the family ranch.

Today, while Heath continues to perform with Ricochet and Restless Heart, he also fronts his band, “Heath Wright & the Hangmen,” showcasing classic-style country music across Eastern Oklahoma and Western Arkansas.

Guest Contact Info:

Website: https://ricochetonline.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RicochetFanPage/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/officialricochetband/

Matt Stell

By Music, Personal Growth No Comments

This week on the Here’s What We Know Podcast, host Gary Scott Thomas had a fun and candid conversation with the country music singer, guitarist, and songwriter, Matt Stell. Join us as Matt shares stories from his roots in Center Ridge, Arkansas, to the bustling streets of New York City. Matt isn’t just carrying his guitar on tours; he brings along memories, aspirations, and heartfelt stories that resonate across every destination he has been to! We are sure that this podcast episode has something delightful for everyone. Tune in now!

This episode is sponsored by:

(Use code “GST” on their website and enjoy an exclusive 10% discount on your favorite shoes!)

(Be sure to tell them Gary sent you so you can save 20%!)

In this Episode:

  • Discover how people from small towns like Center Ridge “round up” when explaining where they’re from.
  • Get a taste of city life through Matt’s eyes and why he appreciates visiting places like New York but prefers living elsewhere.
  • Learn about being a “professional traveler” as part of a singer’s job and why sometimes life gets in the way of exploring new cities.
  • Gain insight into his record label experience with Sony in Manhattan and how his authentic style resonates beyond traditional boundaries.
  • Pizza talk! Find out if New York really does have better pizza and what constitutes an acceptable topping, according to Matt.
  • Explore destinations still on Matt’s bucket list.
  • Understand the allure behind festival shows both as an artist performing for large crowds and as a fan enjoying other musicians’ sets.
  • Delve into who inspired him growing up (hint: ’90s alternative bands) and who he’d love to collaborate with today.
  • Peek into the creative process behind hits like “Prayed For You” starting with just one line that sparks an entire song narrative.

Quotations:

The thing about New York is their bad pizza is good. You know what I mean? Like the floor is so high.  You can walk into anywhere and get a slice and it’d be amazing. Uh, and quick and ready to rock.” ~ Matt Stell

“I really want to go to Japan. I want to see, I want to see, uh, Tokyo. I want to, I want to just see how other people do it.” ~ Matt Stell

“Even on the other side of the world, you know, we’ll have some things in common for sure.” ~ Matt Stell

“Well, it’s better to be lucky than good. Sometimes for sure.” ~ Matt Stell

“It’s just such a vibe when people show up to listen to the live music and I want to be there all day and you get to be a part of it. And then also I get to be a fan. You know, I get to see these bands that I’m a fan of that. I usually don’t get to see ’cause we’re on the road.” ~ Matt Stell

“It just makes you appreciate all different kinds, you know, and I always make you appreciate how, uh, a lot of people can like a lot of different things, which is, you know, variety is the spice of the spice of life.” ~ Matt Stell

“I always love to get a ball in my hand and, uh, get some shots up for sure.” ~ Matt Stell

“Most of the time you start from the chorus and kind of work your way out.” ~ Matt Stell

“When I have kids, they’re not gonna have any choice. They’re going to love those garden greens.” ~ Matt Stell

“That’s just great to see music resonate with people all over the place, man, for sure. I didn’t know that song was going to do that when I wrote it, but man, I sure love it when it does.” ~ Matt Stell

Guest’s Bio:

Matt Stell is an American country music singer, guitarist, and songwriter. Matt began releasing music in the early 2010s after teaching himself guitar while in college. He had a breakthrough with the streaming hit “Prayed for You” in 2018, which topped the Country Airplay charts in 2019, a position matched by “Everywhere But On” that year. After a couple of quiet years, Stell delivered the One of Us EP in February 2023.

Raised mostly in Center Ridge, Arkansas, with some time spent in Central Florida, Matt Stell grew up listening to a mix of classic country, country-rock, blues-rock, and rap while making a name for himself in basketball. He went on to play college basketball at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri, where he started playing guitar between school and team obligations. As soon as he could play barre chords, he began writing songs and performing at a local bar. Music quickly became a passion, though he finished a master’s degree in communications at the University of Arkansas, made missionary trips to Haiti, and considered medical school before deciding to pursue it as a vocation.

Talking about the beginning of his career as a singer, he was the lead singer of the band “The Crashers” in the late 2000s and early 2010s. This personality released three albums independently while being involved with the said band. Those albums were The Sound & the Story, Vestibule Blues, and A River Through It. Followed it with the single “Country Love Song” in 2015. In the meantime, he opened shows for headliners including Luke Bryan and Eric Church. An offer from Wide Open Music in Nashville, Tennessee, led to the release of the single “Prayed for You” and the EP Everywhere But On in 2019. “Prayed for You” went viral, amassing over ten million streams across platforms before the end of the year. The single’s success translated to the charts: it topped Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, as did “Everywhere But On.” Another EP, Better Than That, arrived in October 2020 and included the song “Look at Me Now.” The non-LP single “That Ain’t Me No More” followed in 2021, with 2022’s “Man-Made” teasing the early 2023 release of the One of Us EP.

Guest’s Contact Info:

Al Pitrelli

By Music No Comments

This week on the Here’s What We Know Podcast, host Gary Scott Thomas had the opportunity to have a fascinating conversation with one of the most innovative guitarists of our time, Al Pitrelli of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Join us as he shares his personal and professional experiences in the music industry, from playing rock with Alice Cooper to making history with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. We also delve into the heartwarming anecdotes about Paul O’Neill and how seemingly insignificant life events led Al right into Paul’s path, leading them together toward creating magic.

This is not just any other podcast episode; it’s an emotional exploration of artistry, resilience, and legacy! So don’t miss out on this captivating narrative where every note tells a tale!

 For additional information, visit:  www.trans-siberian.com

This episode is sponsored by:

In this Episode:

  • A look back at Al’s unexpected path in music that started with Alice Cooper and eventually led him to Paul O’Neill, creator of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
  • Discover how working alongside Alice Cooper shaped Al’s understanding of theatrical presentation in rock ‘n’ roll.
  • Sharing a heartwarming encounter years later with Paul O’Neill.
  • Navigating the loss of Paul O’Neill and keeping his art form alive.
  • Diving deep into music, inspiration, and influences.
  • Discover how Al celebrates Christmas in different cities.

Quotations:

“The Trans-Siberian Orchestra that was created by Paul O’Neill 28 years ago has a universality to it that I didn’t see on the radar, and I’m so proud of what it’s become and what it’s still becoming every day.” ~ Al Pitrelli

“The more yesterdays that I have,  that I have, uh, tomorrows to come, in theory, uh, it’s those little left and right turns and those moments that happen in your life that cause you and I to be sitting down right now, having this conversation.

If one of us wasn’t fired and one of us made a left instead of a right, this conversation is null and void, not going to happen.” ~ Al Pitrelli

“Just life being life and fired, hired, whatever. But it’s a very peculiar, circuitous journey. And if you change one thing, dude, we ain’t here together today.” ~ Al Pitrelli

“That I would rather miss somebody than to have never had them in my life,  you know? And I will miss Paul forever.” ~ Al Pitrelli

“Sometimes it makes you sad. Sometimes it makes you smile. That’s life. It’s the journey. This is a forever process.” ~ Al Pitrelli

“The only time I’m ever nervous is if I’m unprepared.” ~ Al Pitrelli

“You have to be very, very in opinion to be extremely vulnerable to bear your soul and play something meaningful or to create something meaningful.” ~ Al Pitrelli

“I just love that way of thinking and the older I get I whistle melodies. I don’t whistle solos.” ~ Al Pitrelli

“If you want to see a little extra sparkle in my eye, that’s because I just saw my daughter.” ~ Al Pitrelli

“Nothing really makes me much happier than looking down into the audience and seeing a four-year-old little girl on her granddaddy’s lap. She’s standing on his lap and they’re nose to nose, and every time the pyro goes off, she grabs his neck a little tighter. And then they both, you know, make the metal sign in the air.” ~ Al Pitrelli

Guest’s Bio:

Al Pitrelli is one of the most innovative guitarists of our time and has been an active and vital part of TSO since its inception. Currently, he is the lead guitarist and musical director of TSO West and the co-musical director for studio recordings.

Long before he entered the TSO realm, Al set the stage for his work in the band thanks to an impressive musical pedigree. After leaving Berklee School of Music in Boston in the early 80s, Al’s versatility led to recording and touring work with musicians and groups such as Alice Cooper (where he served as the band’s musical director), Asia, Megadeth, and numerous others.

In the mid-’90s, he joined the progressive rock group Savatage, where he began working with producer Paul O’Neill. Paul’s vision of creating a new type of band that would do anything to allow their music to have the maximum impact on the listener led to the eventual formation of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Al’s edgy guitar playing and vast musical lexicon merge perfectly with TSO’s passion and intensity.

“I really didn’t want to do anything else, no side projects,” declares Al. “I could care less, and he kept me working literally around the clock, like 10 or 11 months a year. It was Paul’s world. And it is. I’m just happy to be part of it. I loved working for the man. I love working for his family. I loved to help him bring some of his ideas to life. I loved him guiding me, I loved throwing ideas at him. It was just the greatest quarter century in my life, musically.”

Al is very aware of the musical legacy he is upholding in TSO and how Paul wanted the music to live on.

“For those of us doing it now,” declares Al, “I’m going to make sure to the best of my ability that it continues to a younger generation of people who are getting involved. It’s like any other art form or anything else that you want replicated for decades and centuries—we’re going to do our best. I owe everything to O’Neill and the O’Neill family.”

Guest’s Contact Info:

Michael Ray

By Music No Comments

This week on the Here’s What We Know Podcast, host Gary Scott Thomas had the pleasure of sitting down with a talented country artist with four No. 1 hits under his belt, none other than Michael Ray. Join us as he shares his journey from humble beginnings to becoming one of country music’s top artists. This unique conversation explores not just the glitz and glamour but also reveals what happens behind the scenes in creating his unforgettable music. He also highlights his new album, the art of staying true to your style, and the grind behind success in music.

Listen to this episode filled with laughter and nostalgia as we dive deep into the world of country music!

This episode is sponsored by:

Tell them Gary sent you so you can save 20%!

In This Episode:

  • New Music Ventures: Learn about his exciting collaboration with producer Michael Knott as they take a fresh approach to crafting new music.
  • Musical Influences: Discover how traditional country musicians like top and modern-day singers have shaped his musical tastes.
  • The Journey to Artistic Identity: Hear about the challenges artists face in finding their true identity amidst industry trends and public opinions.
  • Country Music and Personal Experiences
  • Best Voices in Country Music History: Naming some of the best voices in country music history based not on popularity but pure vocal talent

Quotations:

“You have to be very okay with people liking you and not liking you. And people have an opinion that don’t even know you, you know, good and bad. And so really knowing who you are at the core is, it takes time, man, you know, and it takes time to have that confidence to stand up, go, here’s who I am, here’s what I’m singing, or here’s what I’m acting or doing, or, you know, whatever, here’s my business, here’s what we are.” ~ Michael Ray

“It’s all about the journey and the process  to get to where you’re going.” ~ Michael Ray

Guest’s Bio:

Michael Ray is an American country music singer known for his soulful voice, engaging stage presence, and chart-topping hits. Born in Eustis, Florida, he developed a passion for music at a young age and began performing in local venues as a teenager. Ray’s career took off after he won the reality TV singing competition “The Next: Fame Is at Your Doorstep” in 2012. This victory helped him secure a recording contract, and he released his self-titled debut album in 2015, featuring hit singles like “Kiss You in the Morning” and “Think a Little Less.” His music draws from traditional country roots while incorporating a modern edge, making him a favorite among both country purists and contemporary country music fans. Ray’s energetic and heartfelt performances have endeared him to a wide audience, and he has continued to release successful albums, including “Amos” (2018) and “Higher Education” (2021). Throughout his career, Michael Ray has earned critical acclaim and numerous award nominations, cementing his status as a prominent figure in the country music industry. He remains an artist to watch for future chart-topping hits and captivating live performances, solidifying his place in the world of American country music.

Guest’s Contact Info: