Exclusive Q and A: Kip Moore Talks Trucks, Touring and Eric Church

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsKip Moore’s debut title Up All Night, is well named, because the newly minted country star hasn’t had much downtime since the album came out this spring. Not only did his single “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck,” become a Platinum seller and summertime anthem but his next single “Beer Money,” is headed in the same direction. Always a road warrior, Moore has just signed onto Eric Church’s Blood, Sweat & Beers Tour and is making plenty of high-profile appearances, too. Recently Moore shared some of his precious downtime telling us about the past few month including the one thing he can’t get even though he tries and tries (hint: it’s got four wheels).

OS: So what is the story with the truck? Did you get it?

KM: I finally got a new truck! It’s great. I was driving around in it yesterday before I left and it’s great.

OS: So this is the kind of truck you sang about in “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck?”

KM: No, this is a new one. That was an ’86 that I wanted. I still haven’t found one of those.

OS: “Beer Money” has been doing well on the radio. Congratulations! You wrote that one, didn’t you?

KM: I wrote all the songs on the record and, you know, just growing up in my hometown I just remember feeling that way all that way through college. The whole week was all about savoring what was coming, making just enough money for fun on the weekend. Small town life can be very suppressing for a young person. When you are older and settled down, that life make sense. When you are young, everybody lives for the weekend. It was all about Ramen noodles and we had a case of the cheapest most water downed beer. But it was all great. (more…)

Exclusive Q and A: Trisha Yearwood Talks About Her New TV Show, Next Album, and Garth

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsTrisha Yearwood definitely doesn’t want to be thought of as “that cooking woman.” Sure, she wrote two cookbooks that made it to No 1 on the New York Times’ Bestseller List of Advice, How-To and Miscellaneous, but music is her true passion. That’s not surprising for this star whose accolades include three GRAMMY Awards, two Academy of Country Music Awards, three Country Music Association honors and had nineteen Top 10 singles.

It might seem odd, then, that she has agreed to star in a cooking show titled Trisha’s Southern Kitchen that debuts at 10:30 a.m. ET/PT on Saturday, April 14 on the Food Network.

Of course, the program is something of a natural extension of her two successful cookbooks, Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen” the 2008 cookbook which references her Georgia roots and the state where she and husband Garth Brooks and their family make their home”and Cooking for Family and Friends released in 2010. But it was the death of her mother, Gwen Yearwood, last October that convinced the much-loved country singer to keep her music on the back burner for just a bit longer and do the show.

For me, cooking is very connected to my family and friends, said Yearwood.   Every recipe on the show carries wonderful memories with my loved ones…I really see this as a tribute to my mom.”

The six-episodes of the show were all filmed in a Nashville home and Yearwood has special guests including family and some of her dearest friends.

Just before the show debuted, Yearwood talked to OurStage about what viewers can expect, her mother and just why the daughters she shares with husband Garth Brooks likely won’t be on the show.

OS: You have been offered cooking shows in the past. Why didn’t you do them?

TY: I was just not interested. I fell into the cookbook [writing] and enjoyed doing it, but never thought I’d continue. I don’t want to be known as always standing behind a cup of sugar. When this came up, I thought if we could make the show like the books, like the story about families, if I could make it a show with sister and uncle and friends it could work. We did that and it was so much fun!


Exclusive Q&A: Zac Brown Band's John Driskell Hopkins Talks Music, Eats and Garth Brooks

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsZac Brown Band’s newest single””No Hurry””seems perfectly suited for the band. When I spoke to Zac and his closer-than-family band mates  the year before the band”in the musical vernacular””blew up” after the release of the 2008 album The Foundation, lack of time with fans was their biggest worry.

That’s understandable when you consider the band is comprised of friends that think of each other”and their followers”as family. Just a few years ago, Zac was immersed in trying to develop a way to change that dynamic. Sure enough, he and his musical family developed the now famous “Eat & Greet” concept that allows fans to mingle with the band as well as enjoy the show.

The idea is really an extension of the band’s earliest days, playing as the house band for Zac’s Place, the restaurant Brown and his dad ran not far from Atlanta. The bottom line: Think of the Zac Brown Band as country’s version of Grateful Dead or maybe Fairport Convention and other bands that never met a stranger.

John Driskell Hopkins, producer, engineer and bass player for the band, took some time out of his busy schedule to talk with OurStage about just where the band is now and where it’s going.

OS: Wow, what a few years you’ve had!

JDH: We can’t believe all the things we have to celebrate!

OS: It’s funny because when you guys started out, it seemed you didn’t want to be classified as “country” and now you’ve been embraced in that format.

JDH: It’s not that we didn’t want to be considered country. We’ve been embraced by the country community and we’re very pleased. It’s just that we are a little too schizonphrenic to be under one name, in our minds. There are many facets of our musical influences. We all love different styles of music but it really seems what we do works great on country music and country fans like it. We’re glad to have that. We are all a product of all our influences, mostly southern rock. We are all country boys from the south in one way or another.

OS: So how did you, as a country boy, get into music?

JDH: I was always a singer in the choir. We have videos of me singing at the age of three. I think the first time I ever really considered a musical instrument was in the fifth grade, when I was taking piano. Then I got my dad’s guitar out from under the bed and taught myself how to play that. I got a bass soon after that.

OS: I know you started writing songs when you were really young and you were already playing. Is that how you got to work with Zac?

JDH: I got into producing in the early to mid 1990s. Zac and I produced his [first albums including the 2005 album Home Grown and then I joined the band.

OS: It seems like you do everything in the band, but everyone else does too!

JDH: I remember hearing a story about the first time [Garth Brooks] went on tour. He showed up at 7 a.m. with tool belt and drill [ready to build the set]. He still probably shows up at 7 a.m. with a drill in hand! We have that kind of mentality. We don’t necessarily go that far but we always have done all we could ourselves. It wasn’t that long ago that we were taking our own sound system [to gigs]. Until recently, the [public address] system we used belonged to me.

OS: It seems like you’re always working, even when you’re home.

JDH: It’s funny, people believe I just come home and lounge and that’s not what I do. Recently, I was in Nashville for a couple days writing with the guys up there. My wife works, too, and over the weekend I try to be with her.  But during the week I’m in my studio working. I did have a day to ride motorcycles with friends of mine, but I don’t have every day to do that.

OS: You and Zac are very involved in the record label you all started, Southern Ground, too. I know one of your brightest stars in Sonia Leigh. Why was she the first artist you signed to the label?

JDH: I don’t want to compare her with other artists but what she brings”and here’s what some artists don’t bring”is that she writes and she is an incredible writer plus a great singer and an accomplished instrumentalist. She is an outstanding writer and paints incredible pictures [with her music]. She deserves every bit of recognition she gets. She has really earned what is coming her way. We couldn’t be prouder of her.

Find out more about the Zac Brown Band, Sonia Leigh and more at the band’s Web site.

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Your Country's Right Here: Jason Boland & the Stragglers Band Relish Red Dirt

Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, Sugarland and other big-name country musicians makes it easy to overlook some of the considerably less flashy but incredibly substantive performers”and that’s really a shame.

Consider Jason Boland & The Stragglers that surely embody the heartfelt country sound”for lack of a better term”and spirit of such artists as Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Ray Wylie Hubbard and Jamey Johnson.

Ever notice that the myriad of country music award shows almost never even give a nod to the aforementioned artists, despite their virtuoso playing and heartfelt, often profound, musical offerings?

Perhaps that’s a conversation for another day, but the point is that only the drive-by fan should turn to such all-star entertainment extravaganzas to completely guide their music choices.

Before readers throw up their hands in disgust, please note the term “completely.” I enjoy mainstream artists as much as the next person, but I’m likening them to exclusively eating one type of food”such as meat. Aren’t you glad you also know about grains?

That’s where Jason Boland and his band, perhaps one of the best-kept secrets out of Texas, come in. Although he and his band are well known on the Texas circuit, they are hoping to expandbeyond with their latest album Rancho Alto.

“We went in there and tried to get live tracks,” said Boland of the eleven-track album. “A lot of current music today is overdone. We try to get live drums, live bass, and [other live instrumentation] in there.”


Karen O's "Psycho Opera" And The Other Crazy Side Projects Of The Artists We Love

Karen O, Karen O, Karen O. We love your crazy fashion sense, we love your music, we even love saying your name. But how far will this love go? We’d love it if you put out another record with Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but a “psycho-opera”?

According to a release from The Creators Project via Twentyfourbit, the as-of-now untitled work will be about “an assault on the tragic joys of youth” and will be premiering in mid-October as part of the The Creators Project’s big homecoming after travelling the world (kind of) doing very artsy, very cool things. The opera will be presented alongside numerous other art installations and multimedia performances, so all in all in sounds like a pretty sweet shindig. But still, “psycho-opera”. What does that even mean? What could such a performance possible entail? Are we going to go crazy if we watch it more then three times or something?

Many of our favorite musicians are creative dynamos, unable to be bound by the limitations of one inspirational outlet, branch out into other mediums non-stop. Sometimes it’s amazing! And occasionally it’ll leave us more “innovatively-challenged” types scratching our heads. Like some Garth Brooks/Chris Gaines type stuff.

Weezer have made a career out of churning out endless amounts of good time, fun rock and they’re better at it then pretty much anybody else. So it must’ve been interesting for fans back in 2000 to see the group, performing under the moniker Goat Punishment and performing covers of Oasis and Nirvana tracks. And not just the obvious singles, but some deeper cuts as well. All that adds up to some sweet ’90s alt rock goodness.


Sound And Vision: Pop Songs On TV – Last Season's MVPs (Most Valuable Programs)

If video killed the radio star in the 1980s, television is still hammering the nails into its coffin three decades later. Yes, radio still has its place in the selling of pop music, but nothing says, “Prepare to scale new chart heights,” like a plum spot on a popular TV show. I’m old enough to remember when General Hospital turned Christopher Cross‘s “Think of Laura” from just another song on a flop sophomore album into a Top 10 single in 1984 and Days of Our Lives made a 1986 hit out of Gloria Loring and Carl Anderson‘s “Friends and Lovers.” But recently, television has been sending singers and songs up the charts like never before.

Radio didn’t make Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert and Susan Boyle stars. Had it not been for their small-screen exposure on American Idol and Britain’s Got Talent, “Since You’ve Been Gone,” “Before He Cheats” and millions of Glamazons never may have been thrust onto the world, and Blackburn, West Lothian, Scotland (Boyle’s hometown), certainly wouldn’t be on the map!

Which TV show is the most effective hit/star-maker? This past TV season, it would have been a toss up between Idol and Glee. Idol may have taken a season off (No. 9) from creating a new superstar, but it relaunched an old one while spawning and boosting a number of hits in its 10th round. Idol judge Jennifer Lopez probably owes her musical comeback to her gig and the airing of the “On the Floor” video on the March 3 results show. The following week, the single soared into the Top 10, becoming Lopez’s first hit in four years. And everybody loves wacky uncle Steven Tyler, but would “(It) Feels So Good,” his first-ever solo single, have debuted at No. 35 on Billboard’s Hot 100 had the video not premiered May 12 on Idol? (If only the show had had so much chart influence for non-contestants during the Paul Abdul years!)

Katy Perry, too, has benefited from Idol. Her “E.T.” single rebounded to No. 1 after she and Kanye West performed it in a pre-taped results show segment. And then there’s Adele, who may owe her US stardom to a lucky performing slot on the October 2008 Saturday Night Live episode in which Sarah Palin made an appearance and blasted the ratings into the stratosphere. “Rolling in the Deep” was doing just fine before Haley Reinhart took it on in Top 7 week. She landed in the bottom three, but Adele zoomed from No. 10 to No. 2 en route to No. 1.

Soon after, Jared Leto’s band 30 Second to Mars found itself on the Hot 100 at No. 99 the week after James Durbin performed its song “Closer to the Edge” (not to be confused with the Robert Palmer song by the same name!). In recent weeks, Beyoncé has taken to TV (Idol, the Billboard Music Awards) to turn her dead-on-arrival “Run the World (Girls)” single around (as a result, it jumped from No. 75 to No. 50), but by the time the Idol finale rolled around on May 25, she’d moved on to new material: a ballad called “1 + 1.”

Getting back to Adele, she got a further boost a few weeks after her Idol exposure when “Deep” was featured on Glee, and I’m pretty certain that Cee Lo Green‘s “F**k You” owes its second or third wind on the charts to Gwyneth Paltrow and her rendition of the song during her first appearance on Glee last November. Of course, Glee has done more for its own cast”who now have had more entries on the Hot 100 than any act ever and have produced eight Top 10 albums and three Top 10 EPs”than it has for any of the artists they’ve covered. But perhaps no after-shock of the Glee treatment was more unexpected this past TV season than the one following the May 3 episode devoted to Fleetwood Mac‘s landmark Rumours LP. The nearly 35-year-old album re-entered Billboard’s Top 200 album chart way up at No. 11, selling nearly 30,000 copies, 1,951 per cent more than it had the previous week. Matthew “Mr. Schuester” Morrison’s self-titled album debuted at No. 24 one week later, but he might have been better off making it a Glee soundtrack.

The Bevery Hills 90210 spin-off 90210 may not have the ratings to kickstart hits the way Idol and Glee do, but by blending the latest greatest hits (which last season included “Rolling in the Deep” before it was a big hit) with music from more obscure artists, it’s done more for buzz-bin bands (including Australia’s the Temper Trap, Angus & Julia Stone and Boy & Bear) than any TV entity since the days of MTV’s 120 Minutes.

Award shows, though not as dependable as all of the above, can occasionally be good for launching a chart success. Florence and the Machine‘s Lungs album and “Dog Days Are Over” single became hits after a performance on the MTV Video Music Awards last September, and major GRAMMY wins are always good for a one-week bump in sales. More recently, country hunk Blake Shelton became a pop star when his “Honey Bee” single landed on the Hot 100 at No. 13, after the singer debuted it on the April 3 Academy of Country Music Awards telecast, becoming the highest debut for a male country artist since the Garth Brooks/Chris Gaines 1999 song “Lost in You” (not to be confused with Rod Stewart‘s ’80s hit!) entered at No. 5. Shelton is now a judge on The Voice, so look for him to reap more benefits from TV, along with his fellow judges, Christina Aguilera (who could use a J. Lo-style comeback of her own), Maroon 5’s Adam Levine and Cee Lo Green, whose post-GRAMMYs chart momentum for “F**k You” lasted months.

Good Morning America also has gotten into the hit-making act this year. I’m not sure that morning news and talk shows influence album sales in any significant way, but Chris Brown‘s temper tantrum after his interview with Robin Roberts and the ensuing publicity surely had something to do with helping him earn his first No. 1 album with F.A.M.E., which was released the day of his GMA visit.

Will radio ever go out of style? Probably not completely. But these days, stars are born (and reborn) not there, but on TV.

Country Call 'Em: A Country Christmas

OSBlog02_CCE_MASTERAll I want for Christmas is you, my two front teeth and a maybe a few rockin’ Christmas albums. New or old, I’ll need some jolly tunes for my long night of gift-wrapping, family hugging and eggnog drinking. I’ve wrangled and hogtied a few killer country Christmas albums that you just can’t pass up for this year’s holiday. Of course any day you are listening to country music is the most joyful day ever, but coupled with a little spiked ‘nog and a few wacky relatives and you got yourself a country Christmas that takes the (fruit)cake.



OSBlog02_CCE_MASTERLooking for love? Become a country star! Not only are our favorite country singers shacking up with each other, but they’re also collaborating outside the bedroom on tours, events and music. In today’s celebrity-obsessed climate, pop, rock and rap star romances are ripe topics for gossip fodder (take Peter Wentz and Ashley Simpson, Jay-Z and Beyoncé, Gwen Stephani and Gavin Rossdale for instance). Country music is perhaps even more well-known for it’s long history of famous couplings, from Roy Rogers and Dale Evans to Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. Today’s country couples are using synergy and teamwork to take their already booming careers to new heights with the one person who really matters, their significant other.

Combing their undeniable talents

Combing their undeniable talents

Take Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Nashville’s pinnacle of country coupling. After meeting on the Spontaneous Combustion tour in 1996, Faith and Tim got married, had three little girls and made tidal waves in the ocean of duets and tours together.  Tim and Faith’s collaborations include daughters Gracie, Maggie and Audrey, as well as four Top 10 hits and two tours. Their first duet, It’s Your Love (1997) started their career coupling fire, making it to #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs and Tracks charts. Following that hit came Let’s Make Love (2000), Like We Never Loved at All (2005) and I Need You (2007), all of which made the Top 10 on the charts as well. Not only were they able to make one hell of a duet, they also put on quite a tour as well. With 182 shows, the Soul2Soul tours in 2000 and 2006-2007 sold over 2 million tickets combined. The second tour, Soul2Soul II made history, as it was the highest grossing country tour of all time. With all of this success career-wise, you’d think the couple would lack elsewhere but that’s just not the case. They schedule their tours around the school schedules of their 3 young children, and refuse to go more than 3 days apart from one another, making their thriving careers, and overall success, a family affair.

What a great looking, and sounding, couple

What a great looking, and sounding, couple

A younger country couple, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert have also used their love for the better. Having met on CMT’s 100 Greatest Duets concert in 2006, it’s no surprise they can make sweet, sweet music together.  They recorded a cover of Michael Bublé’s Home, for which Miranda takes credit in finding for Blake. Not only did they go on a successful tour together in 2008, but they also use their celebrity for the better. They also teamed up for the Cause for the Paws events, which help struggling Humane Societies in Texas. This year, the couple helped rasie over $118,000 dollars for their furry friends.

With all the mushy love ballads, heartfelt breakup songs and little diddies about makin’ love, its no surprise gatherings of country stars are brimming with emotion. Other country couples who make their love known on the country circuit are Mr. Country Music himself, Garth Brooks and his bride, Trisha Yearwood,

The Paisley's with first son, Huck.

The Paisley's with first son, Huck.

who met while touring together nearly 20 years ago. Also, Brad Paisley met his match, “According to Jim” star Kimberly Williams Paisley when he requested the actress star in a music video he hoped to make, influenced by her Father of the Bride movies, which was for a song off his album Part II. Since then, they’ve had 2 sons, William Huck, and Jasper.

Based on all these country couples do together, while staying together, its pretty clear that love really does bring out the best in them.