Tag

country music

Conner Smith

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In this week’s episode of Here’s What We Know, Conner Smith dives into how he communicates through song, getting started in Nashville, College football, collaboration, and the examples of the industry stars that have gone before him and paved the way.

He also talks about what he has in common with Michael Jackson.

This episode is also sponsored by:

In This Episode:

  • Living out childhood dreams
  • Telling stories through song
  • Meeting your heroes
  • Being a new artist on the radio
  • College Football
  • “Take it slow” song with Ryan Hurd
  • The example of older stars
  • The impact of social media

Quotations:

“I’ve been a product of being in the right environment, and that’s something that I don’t take for granted.” – Conner Smith

“Growing up … song was just how I expressed things.” – Conner Smith

“As a new artist with your single on country radio, it’s like all of your dreams hang inside of that one song.” – Conner Smith

“How much of Tennessee’s success right now is dependent on Hendon Hooker? Is it this the sort of thing where, you know, we’re gonna continue this and really kind of build a program that can sustain itself and last for years to come? Or is this kind of the perfect mix of ingredients? Either way, we finally have a coach that I can trust in, and that means something.” – Conner Smith

“Well, at the end of the day, it’s been a long time since we have been worried about another team taking our coach.” – Conner Smith

“I’ve kind of just become the Tennessee guy a little bit, with the songs, and it’s become so much a part of the brand.” – Conner Smith

“Are there some student athletes? Yes, there are. And the majority of those kids are student athletes who are truly trying to get the education and stuff. But also, I’ve talked to so many division one athletes who go, ‘It is all-encompassing. All you have time to do is workout, practice, train, workout, practice, train.’” – Conner Smith

“That’s a special song, and it’s one of those songs. I think you put out songs in the world and, you know, some of them catch fire and some of them don’t. That was the one that did, and fans just really gravitated towards it.” – Conner Smith

“Thomas Rhett … more than anything he’s ever done for me, he’s taught me how to do this thing the right way.” – Conner Smith

“It [social media] definitely changes the way you kind of view life and for better or worse, and it’s something you grow to live with. I think, especially my generation, you kind of grow up understanding that you’re accountable at every second.” – Conner Smith

“Keep the people around you that truly know your heart and truly know who you’re trying to be” – Conner Smith

Watch the Video:

Guest’s Bio:

Just 22 years old and already a seasoned veteran of Nashville’s elite songwriting community, Conner Smith has become one of Country’s most hotly-anticipated new artists – an uncommon talent mixing prime-of-life passion with old-soul perspective. After penning his first song at 6 and scoring a publishing deal at 16, the Country prodigy wrote five of the six songs on his Zach Crowell-produced 2022 debut collection DIDN’T GO TOO FAR (The Valory Music Co.). The charismatic effort laid an artistic foundation that earned Smith 2022 Artist to Watch status from Spotify, Amazon Music, and Opry NextStage, while also making him the only Country artist on Pandora’s Ten List 2022 and securing 2023 recognition from MusicRow Next Big Thing, CMT Listen Up, and more. Often hiding deep-thinking themes in plain sight, Smith scored his first Top 40 hit with the young-at-heart “Learn From It” and followed up with love-savoring “Take It Slow,” which quickly racked up nearly 100 million global streams to date. Tracks like “I Hate Alabama,” “Orange and White,” and “Summer On Your Lips” are my unexpected insight from vivid everyday stories. As Smith grows up in full view of his fans – both on the page and the stage – CMT calls him “an unstoppable force to be reckoned with.” That momentum will keep building in 2023. Smith follows a year of touring alongside Thomas Rhett, Parker McCollum, and Ryan Hurd with upcoming select dates opening for Chase Rice and promises a new batch of “next level” music, further mixing in-the-moment energy with timeless meaning. Smith is currently on the road for his first-ever headline IF I WENT TO COLLEGE TOUR with special guests Mackenzie Carpenter and Jonathan Hutcherson, presented by the Monster Energy Outbreak tour, and joins Luke Bryan’s COUNTRY ON TOUR this summer.

Guest’s Contact Info:

Raffaella Braun

By Music One Comment

Sometimes a chat with a friend is the order of the day. In this episode, Gary is joined by his friend Raffaella Braun with Triple Tigers Records to discuss current trends in the music industry and how these trends impact artists.

In this episode:

  • Social Media vs. Ratings
  • The Competitive Nature of the Music Industry
  • How the Music Industry Had Changed
  • Commentary on Various Artists and What They Add to Country Music
  • Maintaining A Connection with the Audience When Life Happens

Quotations:

“But now what you’re seeing physically is a resurgence of vinyl instead of CDs and tapes and DVDs.” ~Raffaella Braun


“And I looked at ’em and they said, ‘Hey, Gary, you have way too much talent and way too much ability for what we have planned here.'” ~Gary Scott Thomas


“But really, once you strip her [Cam] down, she’s independent, she’s authentic, she’s thought-provoking.” ~Raffaella Braun


“Music’s just as competitive as sports. But it is that drive, and you almost have to be at echelon above to even start on a level.” ~Raffaella Braun

Bio:

Raffaella Braun has built a multi-faceted career with a wide range of experience in the music business. She started with Premiere Radio Networks and Westwood One in 2002 (through 2009), handling live radio remote logistics around such major music events as the ACM Awards, CMA Awards, CMA Music Festival, and Grammy Awards, among others. Always possessing a passion for music and live concerts, she moved on to Creative Artists Agency in 2003 and became an Agent in 2008, negotiating concert deals and contracts, seeking out new talent, and executing promotions for a roster of 60+ Country and Classic Rock artists. She collaborated on projects with the CAA Sports division and LA clients like Pete Wentz.  In 2011, she moved to the Radio Promotion realm and began an eight-year run with Warner Music Nashville as Manager of West Coast Radio and Streaming, winning the Regional of the Year Award in its 2nd year of existence.  She returned to Nashville in 2019 to Triple Tigers Records as their first-ever National Director of Promotion.  There, she has assisted in guiding their artists to an additional 5 #1 singles, a Top 10 record, and breaking Billboard records for consecutive #1s (Scotty McCreery) and weeks in the Top 10 (Russell Dickerson). Braun won Country Aircheck’s National Director of the Year Award (Crystal Microphone) in Feb 2022, the same year Triple Tigers won its 2nd award for Gold Label of the Year. 

A 2002 graduate of Vanderbilt U., Braun is a member of both the Academy of Country Music (serving on the Special Events Committee from 2010-2014) and the Country Music Association, as well as an alum of SOLID. She served on the CRS Agenda Committee in 2016-2017 and again in 2017-2018 for the 50th year of CRS. A finalist for the 2008 Nashville Emerging Leader Awards, she went on to create Music Row Madness, an industry bowling event to raise funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle TN, which is now hosted by SOLID and grew last year to $50,000. Since 2017, she has helped Musicians on Call expand their volunteer mission at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and now as a Nashville guide and she sits on the Boards of the TN Innocence Project and The Collective Nashville (Gerald Allen Scholarship Fund).

Adam Wakefield

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The man with four names, Adam Wakefield, talks about country music, cancel culture, and why he chose a career in music.

In this episode:

  • What is Country Music?
  • Cancel Culture
  • Social Media’s Impact on Young People and Music
  • Letting Artists be Human
  • The Role of a Songwriter

Quotations:

“What’s the point of knowing half a song? What good is it? What good does it do you as a musician to learn half a song?” Adam Wakefield

“Everybody should be telling everybody to vote. Yeah. Because that’s something everybody can get behind. Everybody should be voting.” Adam Wakefield

“The way I look at songwriters is like, they’re the ones that are supposed to be able to live outside of everything so they can have an objective view of what’s going on so they can spread the truth to people, you know, and, and be honest about things.” Adam Wakefield 

“Back then it was still cool, okay. For white guys to do blues music, you know what I mean? Like, it was still, it was still okay for me to sing a song about like whatever.” Adam Wakefield

Bio:

Think “New Hampshire” and let the images flow. Cozy inns. Fireplaces. Vivid colors of fall. Crisp, clean air. Deep blue lakes. Searingly honest songs, laced now and then by irony or heartache or weighted by weary wisdom. Vocals that jolt these lyrics to life with a unique immediacy and intensity…

Wait a minute. You won’t find that last part in any travel brochure. But on his upcoming debut album for Average Joes, Gods, and Ghosts, Adam Wakefield proves it’s not where you come from that counts. It’s where you’re going and how you get there — which, in his case, is on the wings of undeniable talent.

What makes Wakefield different? First, it’s his varied roots: Memphis soul, rock ’n’ roll, New Orleans funk, even jazz and classical, pre-bro country — pretty much all music that speaks from the heart. In terms of genre, he follows no rules, though one resolution does govern what Wakefield wants to achieve: If it doesn’t have a conscience, if it’s afraid of risk or candor, then he’s not interested.

You can feel this throughout Gods and Ghosts, scheduled to release on November 30, 2018. On the down-home, blues-steeped “Breaking Strings,” he writes and sings with wry, hangdog humor: “I found the meaning of life, but I got no one to tell … I’m down on my luck, or luck’s down on me. I’m looking over my shoulder, but there’s nothing to see.”

A similar rumination unfolds over a classic country waltz time in “Cheap Whiskey & Bad Cocaine,” sung from the bottom of a glass or the end of a line: “I ain’t ever been on radio, barely got a dime to my name. Never walked down no red carpet, never had my 15 minutes of fame. But I know in my heart I could be a star. ’Til everyone else feels the same, I’ll be riding high as a Georgia pine on cheap whiskey and bad cocaine.” “Dry Days” continues the story, this time over a bubbling acoustic guitar hook. “Back to the powder when the milk runs out,” Wakefield begins as he faces another one of his “too tired to try days.”

But there’s light ahead as Wakefield awakens with a strangely clear head on “Good Morning Sunday.” To a woozy slow beat, steadied by a little accordion and steel, he notices with a touch of wonder the unfamiliar warmth of sunshine on his face and the cheery chirp of birds. He wishes he could claim credit for the experience but admits that the night before, “I just tripped over the dog, and the bottle fell from my hand. Now it’s in pieces on the floor .. here I am!”

The title track speaks to his loved one over an intimate acoustic guitar. This is a song about secrets too painful for even this most candid of songwriters to reveal — although in admitting to this, he reveals more than most of his peers dare to do. And on “Prairie Lullaby,” he sings for anyone whose mistakes have left them far from the ones who most matter: “I drive all night just to bring her home. We’d pick up where we left off long ago,” he imagines. But then, “I wake up … and put myself to sleep.”

Wakefield is that rare singer and songwriter who can bridge the personal and the universal, who can sadly laugh and softly ache through an uncommonly poetic lyric and performance. What accounts for his achievement? Maybe we should start at the place where he grew up, a small college town in the care of parents whose example encouraged him to imagine and explore.

“Even though they were poor, they were very educated and liberal. My mom worked for labor unions, helping coal miners and stuff like that. And she was a strong feminist, which is one reason I don’t write bro-country songs — she would disown me,” Wakefield says, with a laugh.

Instead, he absorbed deeper lessons, through frequent travels with his family as well as the lure of expressing himself through music. “Pretty much all we had were records and a piano and a crappy Chevy van,” he says. “I started playing the piano because I thought I could do it better than the girls who did it in show-and-tell.”

Turns out he could, to the extent that after high school, he earned admission to the Jazz and Contemporary Arts program at New School in New York City. But as he sharpened his technique and deepened his understanding of music theory, Wakefield began to feel restless. As he recalls, “All I wanted to do was to be in a band, play piano and get high.”

So he dropped out and moved with his brother John to Baltimore. They started their own band, Old Man Brown, and over the next several years, toured up and down the East Coast as well as twice in the United Kingdom. They released two albums, the first settling into a Southern rock vibe with Johnny Neel of the Allman Brothers producing. The second veered more toward soul and even a bro-soul focus, complete with a horn section and backup singers.

As their popularity grew, Wakefield stepped up his output of original songs, not so much to pursue excellence as a writer, more to simply have something the band could play other than covers.“But I got better at it, the writing as well as the singing,” he says. “I attribute that to this routine we had in our band house. Everybody had to put five hours a week into individual practicing. We’d keep track of what we did with this schedule on the fridge. Band rehearsals were every night, Monday through Friday, with Monday night reserved for showing everybody what we had been working on. For young kids, we were strangely responsible.”

Wakefield’s approach to bettering himself as a singer involved addressing specific issues each night. “If I wanted to get better at singing runs and complicated stuff, I’d learn some Stevie Wonder stuff. To work on tone, I might learn some Gregg Allman. For range, it might be Donny Hathaway or Marvin Gaye.”

After his run with Old Man Brown, though, Wakefield decided to try his luck in Nashville. He and his girlfriend, an aspiring country singer, drove into town in their van. He formed a bluegrass group, started writing more seriously and made ends meet by painting houses. Opportunity struck when a scout for The Voice heard him play at Soulshine Pizza and invited him to audition. By the time he made it to the finals of Season 10, America had gotten the word about who Adam Wakefield is and what he has to offer.

Working independently, he hit the top of the iTunes chart with “Lonesome, Broken and Blue,” the original song he performed during the season finale for The Voice. He also aced one of Nashville’s most challenging gigs when the SteelDrivers asked him to sit in for their lead singer Gary Nichols, who was taking some time off. “Honestly, it made me a better singer,” he insists. “And it helped me write better too. A few of songs on Gods and Ghosts come from that period. One of their songs, ‘Peacemaker,’ specifically inspired the droning lick I put at the beginning of ‘Shoot Me Where I Stand.’”

All of these experiences — on the road, in the studio, in writing rooms and on national TV — play into Wakefield’s artistry. “I’m not saying I’ve had a hard life,” he says. “But when I write songs about somebody dying or trying to get sober, these are experiences I’ve had. The more you wear your heart on your sleeve as a writer, the better the tunes seem to turn out. That’s what John Prine, Jamey Johnson and people in that vein do. That’s where I want to go with what I do.”

Meghan Patrick

By Music, Personal Growth, Uncategorized No Comments

As a self-described musical theater nerd to a now award-winning country music artist, Meghan Patrick joins Gary to discuss her journey both as an artist and an individual. Patrick shares how different genres and life experiences have influenced her path, and a desire always to make time for the important things. 

In this episode:

  • How Meghan got her start
  • The dynamics of being in a band 
  • Being authentic in the music industry
  • Finding balance as a boss 
  • Facing the economic realities of pursuing a career in music

This episode sponsored by:

Quotations:

“It’s not just the job itself. It’s not just writing songs and performing on and being on the road. For me, it’s also like making sure I get to work out and get outside and that just makes me a better person.” ~Meghan Patrick 

“That was my first exposure to like the country fans. And it all just came together where I was just like, these are my people. I love these people.” ~Meghan Patrick 

“I’m the person. I intend to live a lot of lives within my time that I’m given here on earth” ~Meghan Patrick

And so it’s like always trying to kind of walk that line of, of being able to fully be myself while trying to make that fit within the country genre when it comes to songwriting. ” ~Meghan Patrick 

Bio:

Gifted, award-winning, chart-topping… cool. There are plenty of apt adjectives that apply to Meghan Patrick. But perhaps the most meaningful descriptor for the acclaimed country singer/songwriter is authentic.

Patrick is a musician who always tells it like it is in a voice as gorgeously persuasive as they come.  So, when she describes her electrifying third full-length studio album, Heart on My Glass, as “the most ‘me’ record I’ve ever made,” it’s a profound statement given the sincerity that has come before.

It’s also a handy metaphor for summing up the new album’s many sonic textures and flavors, some familiar to long-time listeners and others new— blues and gospel, anyone? — but all yanked straight from Patrick’s rich reservoir of influences.

Funny what a pandemic year spent hunkering down in a town like Nashville will do for your music.

“This is a special record for me for a lot of reasons,” Patrick confirms. “I had so much more time over the past year to focus on writing and really being able to dig into what my sound and message should be. This feels like the most all-encompassing representation of me as a writer, an artist, and a human. All the pieces fell into place.”