Album Review: Parmalee – Carolina

Album Review: Parmalee – Carolina

Parmalee – Carolina

Parmalee - Carolina
Parmalee – Carolina

I think perhaps the week of 12/8/2013 will be one that Matt, Scott, Josh and Barry are going to remember as a turning point in their career.  Their single “Carolina” hit #1 – “Feels Like Carolina” their debut CD was released and in their words, they had “really good seats” at the ACS’s & they introduced Thomas Rhett. Things are getting “real” for them after a long hard climb the hard work and dedication is paying off as their dreams are materializing as we speak.

I waited to hear “Feels Like Carolina” for over a year and am thrilled it is finally here! Parmalee has a lot to offer the music world and I’m glad they are getting their chance to share it with us. I was comfortable with the album on the first listen to – to me that is a good sign. – Familiar in an odd sense, the songs are fresh and thankfully Parmalee’s sound comes out loud in clear in each and every song.

They kick it of in high gear with “Musta Had A Good Time” – humorous lyrics with some fantastic music backing up them up! The song took me back to the “good ole days” of my youth and “the house” that we all frequented to get our “party” on.

Day Drinkin – has a great feel and flow to the song – Matt does some fun things with some of the lyrics like his “Lets’ Go” love it – keeps you swaying to the music for certain

“Dance” – what a fun beat – what a fun song from when Matt starts is off with “Aw start it up.” The song has traditional country sound mixed with “new” sound keeps it very relevant for radio play today!

“Dance” Starts with a great country vibe – fun lyrics meld well with the music – will fill the dance floors with it’s boot scootin feel.

“Carolina” – Y’all are probably most familiar with “Carolina” – I liked the song the first time I heard it however it is one of the songs that grows and resonates. It’s like fine wine the more you hear it the better it becomes. It showcases the softer side of the guys and tells us what it’s like for them on the road missing that special someone –

“Think you Oughta Know That” – Matt’s tender voice reaches through to the core as the song builds you pick up the nuances of Matt’s voice – the honesty – the rawness the vulnerability you hear is sexy. This is one of my favorites on the album.

“My Montgomery” is a great song with catchy lyrics and strong music backing them up, its talking about going back to “small town” home.’ The musicality, the beat of it hooks you as Matt’s voice draws you in with his sultry voice.  You always hear that “country music” is about the “lyrics and story they tell” based on that this is an outstanding “country song.”

The guys next single just released to radio is “Close Your Eyes” This song captivated me from the get go!! Matt does a fantastic job of portraying the emotion of the song! Very subtle and sexy – might be my favorite Parmalee song!! The song is well written as it sets the setting for a the “perfect” romantic night ~  Start requesting it – I certainly see another #1 coming with this one, and I bet it climbs there pretty quickly.

It’s a fun album!! Over all “Feels Like Carolina” runs the gambit from the tender heart warming songs like Close Your Eyes  to Harder hitting songs like I’ll Bring The Music and a few in between – the common thread in the CD is some top notch writing with fantastic delivery by Matt, Josh, Barry and Scott!  I foresee it being very successful in introducing the music world to Parmalee!!

-Guest Columnist Nickie Techmanski

Album Review: Brett Eldredge – Bring You Back

Bring You Back
Bring You Back
From song one, “Tell Me Where You Want To Park,” Brett Eldredge gets on it! His ooooo is pretty sexy in a very subtle way getting the point of the song across. It’s got kind of a “feel good” feel to it and is one that I can see getting air time. Certainly the type of song you can picture everyone singing back to him at a show.

“On and On” stands alone – it’s simple yet the music is fantastic. It’s an easy light song with deep rooted emotion oozing out of the lyrics.

“Gotta Get There” is another “quirky” song with a catchy beat – you feel comfortable with it and want to sing along the first time hearing it.

“One Mississippi” holy moly this song is fantastic. The piano sets the tone throughout the song. It’s a bluesy type country that really highlights the flexibility in Brett’s voice. I’m hooked on this one. The intricacy of the lyrics is great and the delivery is second to none. “Everyone has their demons’ – ain’t that the truth. It questions why we run. From the beginning, Brett’s vulnerability brought me deep into the song. They lyrics are so telling and the realism that Brett is able to bring to the song is outstanding! Literally the song gives me chills time and time again. Hands down one of my favorites – special spot on my iPod.

“Bring You Back” is Brett’s newest single and the second he’s released off the CD. Honestly it is so heartfelt that I imagine it has quickly become a staple on many a girl’s play list. It is so realistic for us all as we all have “fears” and we all have “heartbreak.” We all tend to live in a world of denial when it’s convenient for us emotionally and I think that is why this song a resonated so well so quickly.

On “Waited Too Long” you get another glimpse into Brett’s wide range vocally. Strong – yet soft! The delivery allows me to picture a video as I hear the song.
Brett walking on a dark rainy night with the moon trying to glow as it is peaking out behind a cloud, he pauses, looking at a house, up at a window then out of the door he sees her walk out on another man’s arm, with deep angst in his eyes he lowers his head “I waited too long.”. Now, that my friends is what country music is all about it tells us a story, delivered to good music felt in the heart.

“Mean To Me” is another deeply felt song. Brett does make you believe every word that he’s singing. The music keeps you anticipating … the lyrics deliver the “fire” … perfection.

“Signs” has a strong musical interlude that I love. It probably has the truest “country sound” on the CD because of the strong fiddle playing. I like the upbeat toe tappin’ sound. It’s a song you can see being used for a “soundtrack” small town football Friday night scene.

I like the beat the ‘oddity’ of it in “Go On Without Me,” it brings the song to a different place, it’s as if it’s your heart beating. The ending is like life’s last heartbeat. Simply put, it just made a playlist of mine that I won’t be around to play.
Some of the songs tend to stray in a direction many will say ‘that’s not country,’ however that to me is unimportant. The entire collection of songs is great and will be relevant in today’s country. He didn’t take it too far into the pop realm, so I think it will be well received by even the more traditionalists. Brett exceeded my expectations with the entire CD, his vocals are outstanding and not repetitive. The music is some of the best I’ve heard in a long time, at times it as if he has a symphony backing him up. I could go “On and On” talking about how great this album is but what I’d really recommend is for you to grab it and give it a spin to see or should I say hear for yourself.

-Guest Columnist,
Nickie Techmanski

Artist Review: Parmalee



I recently had the pleasure of talking to Matt Thomas of Parmalee followed by seeing them at The Grizzly Rose this is a combination of the 2 experiences.

Parmalee is comprised of brothers Matt Thomas (lead vocals/guitar) and Scott Thomas (drummer). Barry Knox (bassist) is their first cousin as for Josh McSwain (guitar and keyboards) “we met Josh in college and have been together ever since.” With no hesitation Matt went on to say “he is family now we’re family with his mom, we’re just all a big family.” That sentiment is also relayed on stage when
he referred to the band as a family band. As I talked to Matt and saw them in concert, my mind kept going back to the fact that not long ago he, they had a gun pulled on them during a robbery. His brother Scott was seriously injured when it ended in gunfire. Without Scott having his concealed weapons permit and the fact that he was carrying and was able to shoot the intruders it’s one of those situations that make you wonder “what if.” What if Scott didn’t have his own gun? Pretty powerful thought when you consider the most obvious answer – I surely wouldn’t be sitting here talking to Matt about the great music they make. Powerful ~ Thought Provoking. We started our conversation talking about that night. When asked how it affected the band emotionally, in his answer you can hear the deep rooted emotion and yes even feel it through the phone lines as he talked about the aftermath of that September night. “Well I mean it brought everybody tighter obviously. Because we had to go through all that together with Scott ~ he spent 35 days in the hospital ~you know we were being a nurse ~ the good thing that came out of it once that happened we got so much support mainly from our fans, but our family, and friends and everybody that was around us. You realize even though we’ve been kind of beatin up and down the roads for years doing our thing you touch a lot of people. They respect that and reached out to help us out. The biggest thing that came out of it minus the whole new look on life, was the fact there were people out there who cared about what we were doing and wanted see us continue to make music and they kept us a float for 4 months. Paying our bills, donating money doing benefits all kinds of just crazy fundraisers ~ all kinds of help they gave us.” You could hear the sincerity in his voice as he continued “That was the great thing if something like that had never happened we would never have known that kind of kindness. But we got the chance to see it.” He sounded humbled by the whole experience and obviously it touched them all deeply. Matt did write a song called “September” the night Scott got out of the hospital you can tell it’s still pretty “private” as he explained it’s a “personal song that you do for your fans that know you and know what went on its not an album cut.” Hmm maybe if you catch a show near Parmale you’d get to hear the song or hopefully perhaps one day we’ll all get to hear it on an album. Since emotion makes a song real and it seems as the deeper rooted that emotion is the better the song, the better the performance I for one would love to hear it. He did tell me about a song “Another Day Gone” that is on the album “it is based around the mentality of the fact you’re never guaranteed the next day and you need to take advantage of what you have in front of you. Kind of a reflection on the whole aspect of life is fragile better take advantage of it.”

Speaking of the CD they are in the studio now – in fact he jumped on our call just out of the studio where he had been “writing with Blair Daly laying down tracks.” That was rousing news to hear for me. The CD is still a work in progress; they have 12 songs worked out and they are writing and recording more. He was expecting it out by summers end. As far as songs on it he said “we have co- written with lots of wonderful people in Nashville we have written with in the band and we’re taking outside songs.” Hearing things like “our mentality is the best song wins” makes the anticipation for the album grow more intense. “Fortunately most songs are songs we’ve written.” He attributes that to “we know who we are. After we come out with a record you’ll have Nashville writers writing songs right down our alley. But as of right now most of the stuff we have on the record will be ours.” Talk about collaboration. As a band they write together. They write solo. They write individually with other people, the band works with other people and then they bring it all together. That’s just the beginning. Throw in their producers, Rich Redmond, Kurt Allison, Tully Kennedy (Jason Aldean’s band) and David Fanning which make up Indie New Voice Entertainment, one of Nashville’s hottest productions companies. Another key player is Benny Brown from Broken Bow records. He helps determine songs as part of the process. A big part of the final song selection is what Matt feels he can perform with honesty and what they feel is real for them. Matt said fan reaction goes a long way in helping to determine as well, “especially people who have never heard you, everything is new to them you get a good feel for what is sticking and which ones aren’t” One of Matt’s favorites to do live is one of their new songs “Day Drinkin” I can see why and it was a crowd favorite at The Grizzly Rose when I saw them. Fun song great beat and great musically! Matt did go on to say “’Carolina’ takes the cake it is kind of the Golden Child” It is their current single released on iTunes January 22, 2013 and officially released to radio February 4, on February 5th it was the #2 most added song at stations for the week. “It’s been a good blessing – it is the
song that got us out here” The song has kind of come full circle in a sense. They wrote the song, released it in 2008 on an independent thing in 2010 it was picked it up to be released as a single by Benton Blount. “That’s how we got the whole deal” after the it garnered so much interest they decided “we’re going to roll out to Nashville because we’re song writers. We’re going to try take up every opportunity we get as the writers of the song. We co-wrote with New Voice and that led to the deal with Stoney
Creek. I’ll always stand behind its release to country radio without us behind the song” he chuckled as he finished “you know not being the performers just being the writers.”

Now let’s go to a show … they came out with a bang! Super infused music which lead into “Musta Had A Good Time” They are some hard rocking guys up on stage. Matt is full of personality, very cute. The talent oozes off the stage from all of them! Very impressive! They intermingle with one another and the crowd. One of Matt’s favorite covers he does is “Night Moves” by Bob Seger, and I can
tell you they do an amazing job on the song! They did an amazing montage of covers (“Midnight Rider” Allman Bros – “Can’t You See” Marshall Tucker – “Let’s Get It On” Marvin Gaye & “Seven Bridges Road” Eagles) that was simply stunning! They ran through some great originals that I sure hope made the “cut”. One of my favorites was “Calling You Mine” I fell in love first time with that song. Another favorite is “Can’t Tell My Heart What to Do” all about that tug of war relationship I think we all experience at some point. I didn’t hear one song that if it came on the radio I would change the station. No question about it they were all right at home on stage – it was a pretty full house that night and they had the crowd well entertained. They ended much the same as they started they hit up “MHGT” again and went out with some strong hard hitting finish! After the show they stayed to meet the fans and sign for them.
They again were very comfortable and seemed to really enjoy this part of the night.

Matt lights up as he talks about music you hear his appreciation for MUSIC. He is well versed –I get the impression he is a musical connoisseur and I for one would love to spend an evening listening to tunes talking to him about music, about some of his experiences, I’d bet the farm it would be fascinating. The band’s music evolved from the exposure they had growing up, it led them to where they are now as a band. They all 4 had exposure to some degree from their families being involved with music. Matt and Scott’s dad (Jerry Thomas) was in a cover band, “My dad was a soul southern soul singer with country roots. He sounded like Travis Tritt and Bob Seger kind of mixed together. We (Matt, Scott and Barry) grew up in that world. When we were kids he was playing in a cover band doing things like Travis Tritt, Kentucky Headhunters, Bob Seger, Allman Brothers all that southern stuff he also did soul greats like Jackie Wilson, Marvin Gaye that kind of stuff. We were exposed to all that music” Matt calls it “southern country soul music. For me Scott and Barry it was a big part of growing up.” They didn’t just listen to his dad’s band they got to play in it. Josh’s dad was in a blue grass band and he grew up going to blue grass festivals all the time.

“What you’re exposed to real early on kind of holds a little place in your heart and that’s kind of where we’re back to now.” They’ve dabbled in it all pop, rock, hip-hop country soul “It’s like taking parts of it all and putting it together in what we do.” He talked about so much music, such a variety and when you see them, hear them it all makes sense. It is an accumulation of their broad exposure to music growing up as well as them experimenting with many different genres that have brought them to where they are now. I got to see a video from 2008 of Matt, Scott and Barry playing “Feelin Alright” with Jerry.

It is a 6 minute musical extravaganza. You see how deep rooted the talent on the “music” side really is. Hearing all this and getting a good sense of his appreciation for music, it’s no surprise Matt has a wide variety on his iPod – one of his most listened to is The Allman Brothers Live at Fillmore East. It reminds him of his dad. I imagine one day there will be people listening to Parmalee because it takes them back home to their family – to their parental units.

They’ve always known that they would be doing something in music. There was no “backup plan,” Matt and Scott were loggers, Barry was a furniture reposseser and Josh was a pizza maker. Making music was always in their sights, they always had their focus on it. It is all starting to pay off as the “wish list” is starting to get some pretty significant check marks on it. They’ve signed with a
great label, in the middle of putting together their first CD with some top notch producers; “Musta Had a Good Time” broke the top 40 on the charts. Matt is hopeful that “Carolina” will help a couple more of those dreams come true, like playing at the Opry, or maybe breaking into the to 20. One of their aspirations I am in full agreement with is they want to play at Red Rocks “that’d be on that list for sure.” You could hear his excitement as he talked about wanting to tour with people like Jason Aldean, Brantley Gilbert, Eric Church and yes Kenny Chesney would be the ultimate to tour with if they could swing it.

For now they are taking it piece by piece just soaking it in and appreciating it all along the way. They are enjoying seeing the country, meeting the people behind radio and meeting and making fans all along the way. If they come to a venue near you I would recommend checking them out! Don’t forget to visit iTunes to download “Musta Had a Good Time” and “Carolina” – rate and review them. Be sure to request their music wherever you listen to it.

Be sure to follow @parmaleefans and like their fb page as well.They are the official fan site for Parmalee. They will keep you well informed as to what the guys are up to and what you can do as a fan to help them keep on keeping on this journey of theirs.


Album Review: Aaron Watson – Real Good Time

Aaron Watson – Real Good Time

Raise Your Bottle to Aaron Watson and his new CD! From the very first boot scootin’ beats of “Real Good Time” as a country music fan you are in for a real treat! The Honky Tonk Kid has some pretty hard hitting “Texas” country boys helping him out. The CD is a bit of who’s who in Texas country featuring collaborations with the likes of Willie Nelson, who joined him for one of Aaron’s classics, the title song from his 2004 album The Honky Tonk Kid. Justin McBride joins him for “Cadillac Cowboy” which is another fast paced song, one that will fill he dance floors through time. Justin and Aaron sound fantastic together!

You’ve got “Texas Boys” where Pat Green and Josh Abbot sing along about the “crazy life” of the TX music scene. It’s a great tune I like to call a ‘warning label’ for ladies that think they want a ‘country musician’ for a mate with lyrics like “So If you think you can take it, enjoy the nonsense and noise girl it ain’t easy holding onto hard living honky tonkin Texas boys” and “ask Willie’s 4 ex-wives”. The music is rich and makes you appreciate the band behind the words.

“Dear Blind” surprised me, with Aaron and Kevin Fowler, who joined him on this one, being such avid hunters I expected the song to be about …well hunting. To my surprise it’s a frisky little song about having their “baby up in a deer blind” with a different kind of hunting in mind – it made me giggle.

Speaking of frisky, he always does a special song for Mrs. Aaron Watson on each CD. This one “Lips” is well yes “frisky”. I knew when listening to the short 10 sec clip he previewed for us this was Kimberly’s song. Although he was a bit nervous for her to hear it, and she thought that perhaps it was a bit risqué for him to put on the CD I am glad he didn’t listen to her. Hands down this is one of my favorites on the CD. I adore the song and being married for 29 years, and as a women, I can appreciate it! He wants to be sure his children know through his music as well as through their personal living how he loves their momma, and this song will do that for eternity. It teaches them not only how he loves her but how they should love and be loved in their future when they grow up and move towards the relationship period in their lives.

A very poignant song “July In Cheyenne”, he did for Lane’s mama. Lane Frost was a bull rider that was killed while riding at Cheyenne Frontier days. Elsie, his mama didn’t feel that the movie, 8 seconds, paid proper tribute to his whole life. Yes he was a world champion bull rider, but that wasn’t his biggest accomplishment in her eyes. It was the fact that the year before his passing he asked Jesus to be his savior, and had walked a very different walk that final year. He walked along side Jesus. So Aaron had one goal in mind with the song, he wanted Lanes mama to approve and like the song. He went about the song in his wonderfully story telling way and set the story straight. Although it is really one line, it is a very powerful line at the end of the song “if you’re washed in blood you’ll see him again and casino it won’t be in rain in the mud in July in Cheyenne.” It is no surprise that Elsie loved the song!

When I once asked Aaron about cover songs, he said the only time he will put one on his CD’s if he can do it better, improve upon it. Well as a huge Fleetwood Mac fan I was curious to hear “Leather & Lace”, he had Elizabeth Cooke join him on it. I (♥♥♥♥♥)LOVE it! It quickly became one of my favorites and most listened to songs on my iPod.Elizabeth’s voice is more vulnerable than that on the original song, which brings the honesty out in Aaron. Elizabeth’s’ sultriness paired with his yearning voice take you inside their emotion. You can feel it leap out of the speakers and believe they are in love. I would sure love to hear another duet by them!

“Nowhere Fast” is a bit different for Aaron and it shows the depth of his talent! It is country through and through but has a bluesy edge to it. Makes me want to hear more like it! He tells a story once again through the intricacy yet simplicity of his lyrics. “I’m gonna watch those cotton candy clouds float on past I’m going somewhere where I know I’m going nowhere fast ♫ ♪ like a lazy Sunday drive ♫ ♪ feeling good to be alive ♫ ♪ leave all my troubles in the past”.

“Raise Your Bottle” is an important song to Aaron! His father came home from war a disabled vet he knows firsthand the sacrifices our military families make! He wanted to honor them past, present and future, therefore every penny of profit ever earned on the CD goes to help the troops. The proceeds go to the “boot campaign”, which is a grassroots movement begun by 5 women to raise proceeds to help the military families adjust to living upon their return. A very small percentage of the money raised by them goes towards “operational” costs. The vast majority of it goes to “cultivate awareness of the challenges they (our servicemen) face upon return and raise funds for military programs meeting the physical and emotional needs of our heroes.”

Aaron wants to make music his kids can be proud of and I must say mission accomplished once again!! The musicality of the CD is steeped in Country tradition with Aarons flare for “Aesop’s fable” type lyrical stories. I know you have heard one of my favorites lots in the review, simply because it is a must have CD!

Nickie Techmanski

– Nickie Techmanski – Guest Writer


Artist Review: Sweetwater Rain

~~ Please allow me to introduce you to Sweetwater Rain ~~

Sweetwater Rain
Sweetwater Rain

They are one exciting new band on the horizon. I heard and met the band a few weeks back at my local radio stations new music “wolf den.” They invite artists in along with a few listeners for a short acoustic set along with a chat. I was taken back when they started the first song. The power in Fred’s voice is alluring, then incomes the harmonic beauty of Ruth. It is all to the background of some serious guitaring. They played a few of their songs and I was ready to buy a CD on the spot! Although that is down the road a bit, their first single “Starshine” is available now on iTunes. It will be dropped to radio officially on October 22. I would encourage y’all to visit iTunes and download the single and be sure you let your local radio stations know you are interested in hearing it.

Sweetwater Rain was not planned, per say…

Danny Rivera had been chasing a dream since childhood same as their guitarist Fred Stallcup and bassist Thomas Hewlett. They all wanted to share their music with people, to be able to sing for a living, Fred and Danny had even played together in a band Rio Grande. Ruth Collins a singer, songwriter found her way to Nashville and got signed by CURB records as a solo artist ….

The guys were approached and asked to listen to Ruth and have her harmonize on a song. It was the piece that was missing so instead of a one-time collaboration they became well, one. It made sense to go Php Aide in this direction, having Ruth join with the guys added a whole new dimension. How ironic that the song that brought them together is a song about ‘destiny’. The song features a strong vocal beginning by Fred, the intensity builds through the lyrics then some hard hitting strumming introduces Ruth’s beautiful harmonic voice into the mix. I would say that it was destiny that brought them together and will keep them together for a very successful career. They had all been with other bands but never seemed to fulfill what they were chasing, they seemed to be doing what “others” wanted not what they wanted to be doing. That is all different now!! They are super excited because this is who – what they have all wanted and been chasing. While doing a songwriting session with songwriter, producer Anthony Smith their shared love of music brought it all together and Anthony signed on to produce their 1st album. Anthony has worked with some of the best of the best, George Strait, Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw and the list goes on. I most emphatically state that as all the pieces continue to come together and as country music fans start to hear Sweetwater Rain, they will most definitely reach more of their dreams like playing at the Ryman and of course at the Opry.

Sweetwater Rain has been out all over the country doing a radio tour. They have been enjoying their travels across the country, especially getting to experience the “foods” of the area they go to. By doing the radio tours they are able to get to know fans in a way that should help them build a great following for many a year to come. They are so humble and sweet very “girl or boy” next door. They felt like, well, friends pretty much instantly.  There was no pretentiousness at all, Ruth even baked cookies. Now it is usually me taking something like that to a meet and greet for the artist. . They are wrapping the radio tour up in the next 4-5  weeks then will be back in the studio working on that CD so be sure  to stay tuned to their website, FB page and twitter to keep up to  date on them.


-Nicki Techmanski – Guest Columnist


Album Review: Blake Shelton – Cheers It’s Christmas

I LOVE this CD! It is a perfect fusion of “traditional memory lane” type songs with more obtuse ones as well as Blake originals. The CD gets off to a rockin start when wife Miranda Lambert
joins him for “Jingle Bell Rock” ~ Miranda and Blake complement one another with a symphony
backing them up. They add a bit of country twang to it and it sets the perfect mood for the CD.
It sets the perfect mood for the season. Although the players change the musicality remains
consistent and extraordinarily strong throughout.

A few of them take me down memory lane. Being a young girl at my grandparents’ open
house as their friends and neighbors filtered in and out visiting holiday cheer – music playing in the background the entire time. My sister and I often times played DJ on the 45, that duty, honor, later
shared with our cousins. “Let it Snow” and “Winter Wonderland” and I’ll Be Home for Christmas”
are some of the true classics and Blake did them proud. “Let It Snow” is finger snapping good, and
honestly I can picture Blake standing there singing the song swaying, snapping along.

Personal friend of his, Kelly Clarkson joins Blake for “There’s A New Kid in Town” –
STUNNING! This instantly became my favorite version of this song, my favorite on the CD. From the
very beginning Blake touched me with the honesty in his voice then when Kelly joined him, simply
put, it turned amazing! It literally gave me goose bumps. This song is a must on my Christmas
playlist and will become one for the ages. Another that reached out and grabbed me was his
collaboration with Xenia – his ex ‘student’ on the Voice. She brings out a vulnerable tone in him,
not sure I can say I’ve heard that in him before as they put a Xenia spin on Silver Bells. I wouldn’t be
unhappy to hear more of either of these two with him on an upcoming song.

Longtime good friend, mentor and fellow Oklahoman, Reba McIntire joins him
for “Oklahoma Christmas” they instill upon us that it doesn’t matter where you are, you can have
your ‘customary Christmas’. He and Michael Buble’ harmonize beautifully on “Home” a song that
Michael re-wrote to fit the holiday season. Blake gets downright bluesy in “Blue Christmas” with
the Pistol Annies.

“Time For Me to Come Home” is one that is sure to become a classic. He co-wrote and
performed the song with his Mother Dorthy Shackleford. It’s all about the longing of a “son” to
come home from the road for Christmas. Very country and very true to what they know from
personal experience. A feeling many a mom and dad have had about both a son and daughter
during the holiday season. Especially in today’s ‘nomadic’ world “Mama just called and said it’s time
for you to come home” ♫

‘Cheers its Christmas’ is an outstanding CD! From the beginning song “Jingle Bell Rock” till
the ending “The Very Best Time of Year” a melodic country blues song, co-written by and featuring
Trypta-Phunk ( an instrumental rock/funk group formed by Nashville based musicians – who spend
most of their time touring with Blake as his band.) There is some fantastic collaboration on the CD
yet without question Blake kept it “country” but it should have mass appeal to any true music lover.


I think Blake enjoyed working with his collaborators as much as I enjoyed listening to them as evidenced
in the stellar quality of the CD. After doing the review I read the liner notes from the CD – You can feel
the love Blake poured into the CD in every song!
Blake’s Liner Notes
“Miranda, your voice is home to me. I love you!
Reva, you’re my hero. I love you!
Kelly, you seriously amaze me. I love you!
Micheal, I can’t believe you re-wrote such a personal song for this. I love you (not in a weird way)
Xenia, such a unique and beautiful voice. I love you!
The Pistol Anniew, y’all make me look so cool. I love you!
Team Blake from the Voice Season 3, you are ll supoerstars. I love y’all!
Trypta-Phunk, so cool that we finally recorded together. I love you!
Mom, you are my inspiration for this album. I love you!

Very special thank you to my producer Scott Hendricks I’m so glad we went into the uncharted territory
together. You made this a reality for me. I love you! Special thanks to Charlie Judge for writing such
incredible arrangements and working so hard on the album. I love you!”

–Nickie Techmanski

Aritst Review: Jake Owen

A carefree day on the water in Vero Beach … Wipe out … Mangled shoulder … Lead to one of the most poignant new beginnings for Jake Owen.

A wakeboarding accident severely injured his shoulder and squashed his dreams of becoming a pro-golfer. He knew he had to reassess, redesign his future. Lucky for us, music is the direction he chose to focus his interest and hard work! He picked up a borrowed guitar and learned to play it. He started out playing covers in bars, once he had a few original songs he tried them out – good response – more of him followed! He signed a record contract when he was 24 with Sony/BMG Nashville. Jakes 1st CD was released in 2006 – his 3rd Barefoot Blue Jean Night was released in 2011. Easy Does It came out in between in 2009, and housed “8 Second Ride”, his 5th top 25 on Billboard”s Country Hits.

In 2011, the release of ‘Barefoot Blue Jean Night’ was another new beginning, beginning of people starting to really know and understand his music. The self-titled single was Jake”s first #1 hit! Released in April 2011 it steadily rose up the Billboard country charts securing the top spot in September 2011. The song finished with the 2nd highest ranking for the year. He was touring with Keith Urban ~ Up next opening for the epic Brothers of the Sun tour.

He has had new beginnings in his private life as well …. In 2012, he asked his girlfriend Lacey Buchanan to marry him. He did it in his own “Jake surprises his fans” style. He proposed on stage in his hometown of Vero Beach on April 7, 2012. They got married a month later again in Vero Beach FL… yup, many new beginnings ahead here as well!

Jake appreciates his fans and shows it by including them in things like his proposal. He interacts with them on a personal level on twitter, sometimes even responding physically to special requests. By having impromptu Stageit concerts, back to back both with encores! He is just him on those nights. He shares with the fans as if he were talking to friends. Once he talked about a life mentor named Pearl. What a special person she was in his life, he then shared when she passed. He has introduced us to Lacey and never hides his feelings, his love for her. The relationship he is building with his fans has helped launch him to the next level in his career they will be there for the duration.

His current single “The One That Got Away” is steady on the charts at 25 now and it is slowly making its ascent upwards. Could it be another #1 hit single for Jake?

September 25th, Jake will be releasing an EP “Endless Summer”. October 10th, he kicks off his headline CMT on tour ~~ Summer Never Ends ~~ in New York City. This is his first headlining tour and he is bringing ‘Love and Theft’ and ‘Florida Georgia Line’ along for the ride. Are there more new beginnings in store for Jake? With the tour along with the fact that Jake and Lacey expecting a daughter in November I imagine the answer is yes!

The One That Got Away —
Barefoot Blue Jean Night —
8 second ride —
Jakes proposal to Lacey —
Jakes Web site —

– Guest Writer Nickie Techmanski (Find her on Twitter:

Artist Review: Steve Holy

[important]Folks, please welcome Nickie Techmanski! She”s our new guest writer and will be sharing some timely and informative articles here! Please comment with your feedback for her![/important]

Steve Holy

After taking a few years off to enjoy fatherhood, Steve Holy was getting ready to come back to us. When he was leaving home to go to Nashville, his daughter asked “Dad, where you going?”
“To Nashville dear, I need to work”
“You don’t work, daddy”…

Thankfully, he did go back to work because he released Love Don’t Run in September 2011, in which he teamed up with producer Lee Miller. The first single titled “Love Don’t Run” fared relatively well becoming his 3rd top 20 song. Steve has now released his 3rd single off the CD – “She Hauled Off And Kissed Me”. This upbeat, fun song is a reflection on how things have changed with time. How women no longer sit and wait for the man to make the move. Steve would like to see this one move up and be his 3rd #1 hit, however he surely wouldn”t mind it taking off with a bit more fire then his 2 previous #1 hits! Although Steve is used to being patient, it took his first hit 18 months from the release of Blue Moon to hit the top spot. And it took his 2nd one 36 weeks to climb the charts.

Nine years after Steve’s 1st big break in 1993, he won a weekly country music variety show held in Arlington, TX, and had a hit! Steve is probably most known for this legendary song – “Good Morning Beautiful”, which stayed at #1 on the charts for five weeks in 2002. The song was featured in the movie Angel Eyes starring Jennifer Lopez and even reached 29 on Billboard Top 100. The CD Blue Moon that the song came from reached Gold Status nine years after its release. The hit is always a staple in the romantic song queue.

Steve released some singles over the next few years including “Rock A Bye Heart”, that topped off at 37 on the charts in 2003. In 2005, he released his second CD Brand New Girlfriend ~ the title track was the ringer on this one as it did become his 2nd #1. “Men Buy The Drinks” started the climb but petered out at 38 on the charts, but it is always a fan favorite at his shows.

Love Don’t Run contains a cover of “Help Me Make It Through The Night” in which Steve’s voice cuts you to the core. You can feel his emotion coming out of the speakers. The song became an instant favorite of mine! “Wonders” is a snappy tune and is one of his favorite songs it wouldn”t surprise me to see it come out as a single before it is all said and done.

… He tends to agree with his daughter, “This isn”t work.” He knows it is a blessing he gets to do this every night. And so do we and for this reason we give a wholehearted welcome back to Steve and look forward to hearing what he brings to the table in the future as well.

If you like what you hear, call or text America”s Country and request ~ She Hauled Off And Kissed Me ~

Here are some links to his website and videos –

– Guest Writer Nickie Techmanski (Find her on Twitter: