Review: Colbie Caillat's 'Christmas In The Sand'

When describing Christmas in the Sand, Colbie Caillat expressed the desire to make an album for those who don’t live in cold areas and can’t relate to songs about classic wintertime clichés like snow, chilly weather, and huddling around the fireplace. While the album does maintain a generally sunny disposition, it can’t help but feature standards like “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and original lyrics in Caillat’s contributions such as “It’s not Christmas / If the snow don’t fall.” Even though Christmas in the Sand is meant to be a Christmas album for those who spend most of their time in the sun or on the beach, it still seems obligated to retread the same ground as past holiday releases.  Of course, listeners instinctively understand this, but it is worth noting how Caillat’s motivation for recording the album and the way in which that motivation plays out, at times, incongruously with the original intent, highlights the difficulty inherent in recording a type of album that in its very nature defies innovation. (more…)

Exclusive Q and A: Jerrod Niemann Talks Music, Friendship and Why He Loves Dixieland Sounds

Jerrod Neimann considers himself living proof that following your heart can make the seemingly impossible happen.

It took him more than a decade of recording and releasing his own music, but he’s now on the fast track to success. One big boost came when Brad Paisley heard his music and facilitated his signing to Arista Nashville’s Sea Gaily label, which is co-owned by Paisley. Now Neimann’s new album, Free the Music, is winning him critical acclaim and a legion of new fans. For this album, Niemann reached back to very early roots music and experimented with arrangements and instrumentation including brasswind horns, CLASP technology, and an acoustic b-bender guitar to create a psychedelic sound that’s unusual in country. But the music on the album is more than that, harkening back to Bob Wills‘ western swing, a Dixieland sound, and more.

The formula is working on the road, too.

At a recent Nashville show, the first on his Jagermeister Tour, the sold-out crowd was friendly but raucous as Niemann worked his way through the new album including Top 25 song “Shinin’ On Me,” his first release from the album. Pop powerhouse Colbie Caillat surprised fans with joining Niemann on stage to perform his song “I’m All About You,” and his long-time friend Lee Brice also joined him for an acoustic medley of Niemann’s  hits.

“Dreams really do come true!” said Niemann after the high-powered evening.
Niemann took a bit of time out recently to talk about his album, his eclectic sound, and his love of Dixieland.

Exclusive Q and A: Easton Corbin Comes Back with 'All Over the Road'

Easton Corbin’s recently released sophomore album All Over The Road proves that the “A Little More Country Than That” artist is poised to release even more hits.

Consider his new singles “Lovin’ You Is Fun,” written by Nashville songwriters Bob DiPiro and Jim Beavers, that is quickly climbing the charts. It’s just more evidence that Corbin still has plenty of fun-filled music to bring to his fans.

˜All Over the Road’ is a fun title, said Easton of choosing the title of the new album. but it’s also actually what we’re doing out there. We’re all over the road trying to get music out to everybody, so I just thought it made sense.

But don’t think that Easton’s music is country pop. Indeed, the music from the Gilchrist County, Fla. native, who’s self-titled 2010 debut album spawned back-to-back No. 1 hits, has been compared to that of such country legends as George Jones, Keith Whitley, and Merle Haggard. In fact, Corbin’s “A Little More Country Than That,” and “Roll With It,” made him the first male country artist in 17 years to have two consecutive singles hit the top spot.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that Corbin also snagged all of the Breakthrough Artist awards at the inaugural American Country Awards in 2010”Artist of the Year: Breakthrough Artist, Single of the Year: Breakthrough Artist, and Music Video: Breakthrough Artist for A Little More Country Than That. Little wonder his new album is already gaining critical and popular acclaim.

Corbin took time out just after finishing Brad Paisley’s Virtual Reality Tour to talk to OurStage about his music, his music, fans, and just where he’s going from here. (more…)

Exclusive Q and A: The Band Perry Talk Next Album, Brad Paisley and Bribes

The Band Perry is out to prove there’s a lot more to them than their chart-topping single “If I Die Young.”

The Alabama-born, Tennessee-based trio of siblings saw that song zoom to #1 on the country charts after it was released as a single from the band’s 2010 self-titled debut album. Although the song didn’t win a GRAMMY, the band still netted two of the coveted trophies and a host of other awards.

But now the real work begins as Kimberly, Neil, and Reid Perry hunker down with super-producer Rick Rubin to craft their sophomore album. The trio is also burning up the highways as it plays concerts throughout the U.S. including on Brad Paisley‘s Virtual Reality Tour.

So just how is The Band Perry planning to keep the career momentum going? Recently the siblings took time out to talk about just that. (more…)

Exclusive Q and A: Hunter Hayes Talks Carrie Underwood, Joe Walsh and the Young Woman who Inspired 'Wanted'

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsHunter Hayes has hit gold with “Wanted,” the second single from from his self-titled debut album. Between that song and the first single from the album, Storm Warning, Hayes has also watched digital sales move beyond the one million mark.

Although Hayes is only 20, he is a virtuoso performer, writer, and producer who played every instrument and writes or co-writes every song on his album. The 2012 Academy of Country Music (ACM) New Artist of the Year nominee is on a musical fast track touring with household names including Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Trace Adkins, and Hank Williams Jr. As he continues his own tour and looks ahead to joining Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away” tour this fall, it’s clear his star is continuing to rise. Recently he took time out from his jam-packed schedule to talk about his music, performing and one special inspiration for his latest hit single.

OS: Congratulations on your recent success! You’ve certainly had a lot of great news lately. It has to feel surreal in a way.

HH: Just about five years ago or so when I was a freshman in high school, I was dreaming of this day. I was dreaming of traveling in a tour bus and playing theatres and [large venues]. Now I’m dreaming about traveling with several tour buses and playing arenas. This really is all a dream come true.

OS: So you co-wrote the song “Wanted.” What is the song about?

HH: I co-wrote it with Troy Verges. I had this idea about what I wanted to tell this (female) friend of mine who I just want to spend time with every time I’m home. So we were talking about that and he was helping me with what I’d say. So that’s really how the song came together.


Judge And Win VIP Tix To See Taylor Swift And More At Capital Hoedown!

Participants must be eighteen (18) years of age or older at time of entry and must reside within the forty-eight (48) contiguous United States or Canada. Only submission materials that are determined, at the sole discretion of the Sponsors, to be classified as Country or Alternative Country as defined on the OurStage FAQ’s will be deemed valid entries.



Country Artists – Open For Taylor Swift, Reba And More At Capital Hoedown 2012

Participants must be eighteen (18) years of age or older at time of entry and must reside within the forty-eight (48) contiguous United States or Canada. Only submission materials that are determined, at the sole discretion of the Sponsors, to be classified as Country or Alternative Country as defined on the OurStage FAQ’s will be deemed valid entries.


Judge And Win VIP Tickets To See Taylor Swift And More At Capital Hoedown 2012

Open to fans eighteen (18) years of age and older residing in the forty-eight (48) contiguous United States or Canada.

Win A Performance On The Main Stage At Capital Hoedown 2012

Participants must be eighteen (18) years of age or older at time of entry and must reside within the forty-eight (48) contiguous United States or Canada. Only submission materials that are determined, at the sole discretion of the Sponsors, to be classified as Country, Traditional Country or Alternative Country as defined on the OurStage FAQ’s will be deemed valid entries.


Your Country's Right Here: Mountain Heart Reaches New Musical Peak

It’s difficult to remember the last time I was as excited about a band as I am about Mountain Heart.

So much for the impartial journalist, right?  But really, if I hear one more band tell me they embrace new members and then stick with the tried-and-truewell, you get the picture. The result, as we all know, is same-old-same-old until the “new” members leave because they aren’t creatively challenged. Yes, the music world is alive with bands that have morphed into their own tribute bands.

But I digress.

No one would have blamed the members of the much honored Mountain Heart, really, if it stuck with its strictly bluegrass formula. After all, that’s the ticket that won them the 1999 Emerging Artist award from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) and plenty other awards and kudos thereafter.

Of course, the band mates all had their musical chops down long before that. Founders Steve Gulley and Barry Abernathy had plenty of musical street cred before enlisting Jim Van Cleve, then a teenage fiddler they had worked with in Quicksilver, to join them. Adam Steffey, who had worked with Alison Krauss & Union Station, and bassist Johnny Dowdle were also part of the band.

It’s so telling of the current band members’  attitudes that they announced their newest members withticker-tape-parade enthusiastic announcements while still paying tribute to those who were leaving.

Consider the announcement they made late last year when multi instrumentalist Seth Taylorwho the band called “one of the most talented young ‘musicians’ alive” joined the band. Even though Taylor has played with everyone from the Charlie Daniels Band to his “unofficial mentor” Brad Paisley, it is still the rare musicians who will laud a new member in such a way.

And what a refreshing change that is to read. No wonder their new music, which is still based in bluegrass, mixes in more than a fair amount of country, jazz and other formats (don’t worrythey haven’t gone all rock on us though there is rock and R&B in the sound, too!).

“The funny thing about the record Mountain Heart is that it started as bluegrass,” said Van Cleve. “In 2007 [lead vocalist Josh Shilling] joined the band and that was the first day of the new era of the band. We have grown so far beyond any one [musical] description.”

And that growth started right away because Shilling, a talented Nashville songwriter as well as a key that unlocked more of the Mountain Heart band’s creativity, wrote or co-wrote each of the four new songs featured on the group’s live album The Road That Never Ends. The title track reached No. 4 on the Billboard bluegrass charts. That foreshadowed the success of the band’s next studio album That Just Happened, which went to the Top 10 of the Billboard bluegrass charts.

The funny thing about this story is that the band’s sound engineer first heard Shilling sing live and told the band they needed to hear him. Although his vocals weren’t in keeping with the band’s tried-and-true formula, Van Cleeve, Abernathy and the others rolled the dice and invited him to join. Now the band, that includes Jason Moore on bass and Aaron Ramsey in mandolin and dobro, just might need to clear more room on their trophy shelves.

“It was a gutsy call,” said Van Cleeve with a chuckle when talking about adding Shilling. “It could have gone in a lot of different ways but we had faith. He’s taken us to some amazing places musically.”

Find out more about the band and its music, including upcoming tour dates, at their Web site.