FM96 + 103.1 Fresh FM Present – Wednesday July 15th, 2020
Jack Johnson grew up surfing and playing guitar in Hawaii. Since 2001, he has released 7 studio albums and 2 live albums that have sold over 25 million copies worldwide. His Brushfire Records label and touring crew have been leaders in the greening of the music industry and his All At Once social action network connects fans with local non-profits at each tour stop. Jack, with his wife Kim, founded the Kokua Hawaii Foundation to support environmental education in Hawaii’s schools and communities, as well as the Johnson Ohana Foundation to support environmental, art and music education worldwide.
You don’t sell close to two million copies of your debut album without some seriously hard work… and Australian singer/songwriter Vance Joy has never been shy of major elbow grease.
Introduced to the world via the ukulele-led charm of instant classic ‘Riptide’, Vance Joy (born James Keogh) consolidated on that first impression with further anthems ‘Mess is Mine’, ‘Georgia’, ‘Fire and the Flood’ and ‘Straight Into Your Arms’.
Those hits all found a home on 2014’s debut dream your life away – the record hitting No.1 in Australia, No.2 in Canada and Top 20 in the UK and US.
The figures are remarkable. ‘Riptide’ (a Top 10 Australian hit, Top 10 UK, Top 30 US, not to mention former triple j Hottest 100 winner) is about to clock over 200 million YouTube views and over 500 million Spotify streams. In Australia, it is now certified a phenomenal 8x platinum and remains the longest standing local single in the ARIA Top 100. Subsequent singles ‘Mess Is Mine’, ‘Fire and the Flood’ and ‘Georgia’ boast a further 400 million Spotify streams between them.
Touring dream your life away saw Vance Joy surface everywhere from singing on American Idol to being handpicked to open Taylor Swift’s 1989 Tour worldwide, festivals from Lollapalooza in Chicago and South America, to Coachella, Splendour in the Grass and of course, the AFL Grand Final.
Listeners all over the world connected to Vance Joy’s intimate yet anthemic songwriting. “It’s a cliché but we’re so lucky to be in this position, to know there are fans around the world. To go to South America and people know all the words to the songs.”
Then there was that moment Paul Kelly joined him on stage in Sydney singing a Beatles song, and selling out iconic venues in Canada, the US and the UK to thousands of adoring fans, plus a sold out arena tour back home in Australia. dream your life away went platinum in Australia, the US, Canada plus numerous territories in Europe and Latin America, nearing two million sales worldwide, his songs soundtracked an array of TV series and movies including Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, animated feature Storks and acclaimed film The Big Sick.
It was only during 2016 that Joy and his trusty band finally wound down from nearly three years of global touring to start working on Album #2.
“I just wanted a solid second album, one that would stay at the same level, maintain the standard. More solid songs I’m proud of.”
The ol’ second album pressure? Not so much.
“I wasn’t too stressed out by the idea of people waiting for a new album, it was more just actually writing the songs for it. You can’t force it. It’s hard to schedule things like writing sessions around things that are so unknown. How do I know when it’s time to stop and chill and let my well of inspiration fill up?”
However for sophomore album Nation of Two Joy wasn’t starting totally from scratch.
He tapped back into his youth for the stunning ‘Little Boy’ – a tale of a childhood accident and growing up in the Melbourne suburbs. “I’m glad I could get a bit more personal on this album with a song like Little Boy,” he says.
Elsewhere, his trusty mobile phone was a very modern archive of some vintage lyric and music ideas. One pre-prepared riff salvaged by Dan Wilson – who has worked with Adele, Halsey, Pink and Taylor Swift, and with whom he wrote a handful of Nation of Two tracks – became ‘Like Gold’, and was released as an early taste of the album for hungry fans.
Another song Wilson helped bring to life is album highlight ‘We’re Going Home’. “I’ve had that song in my pocket since 2015,” Joy says. “I had the demo for a while. I’d tried writing it a few times but working with Dan we finally got the right vibe.”
Nation of Two’s first single ‘Lay It On Me’ was another song Joy had half-prepared earlier. “I’d actually given up on the guitar riff that starts the song, but I played it to Dave Bassett (Rachel Platten, Fitz and the Tantrums) who I wrote it with and he thought it was cool.” Cool might be an understatement – the track is just about to tick over 2x platinum in Australia and has made a steady climb to the top of the Alternative Charts in the US.
‘Saturday Sun’, a tune so good that he held up delivering Nation of Two to ensure it made the cut, was also finished with the help of Bassett.
“Co-writes can be scary, but you learn things from working with other people. If you’re willing to step into the unknown and be a bit vulnerable, that’s when something exciting might happen.”
Whilst stepping out of his comfort zone was important in the scheme of Nation of Two, Vance Joy remained the driving force behind all of the songs on the album, with many still written solo, including the classic opener ‘Call If You Need Me’ and the gorgeous ‘Bonnie & Clyde’, inspired by his love of literature. “I’m really proud of the songs I wrote by myself for this album, I wanted to maintain the ability to do that.”
Complementing the dynamic song-writing, it’s fair to say that the Melbourne turned global star is sounding better than ever on Nation of Two. Joy’s compelling vocals dance around thoughtful lyrics and luscious melodies, and while he may have the special skill of making it all sound effortless, every word and metaphor is there for a reason. The album’s title came from Keogh marrying his Kurt Vonnegut phase with a book by Richard Ford called Between Them.
“The phrase Nation of Two reminds me about how your world begins and ends whenever you’re with that one person. It felt right.”
He even drew the album’s striking cover art himself.
Now, with a swag of exquisite new material added to his already impressive repertoire, comes time to start the crazy cycle all over again, this time with the bonus of simultaneous global releases and a ready-made audience.
“It’s a luxury to have made one album and it’s nice to know people are waiting to hear some new songs.”
Few artists are storytellers as deft and disarmingly observational as Andy Shauf. The Toronto-based, Saskatchewan-raised musician’s songs unfold like short fiction: they’re densely layered with colorful characters and a rich emotional depth. On his new album The Neon Skyline (out January 24 via ANTI-), he sets a familiar scene of inviting a friend for beers on the opening title track: “I said, ‘Come to the Skyline, I’ll be washing my sins away.’ He just laughed, said ‘I’ll be late, you know how I can be.'” The LP’s 11 interconnected tracks follow a simple plot: the narrator goes to his neighborhood dive, finds out his ex is back in town, and she eventually shows up. While its overarching narrative is riveting, the real thrill of the album comes from how Shauf finds the humanity and humor in a typical night out and the ashes of a past relationship.
His last full-length 2016’s The Party was an impressive collection of ornate and affecting songs that followed different attendees of a house party. Shauf’s attention-to-detail in his writing evoked Randy Newman and his unorthodox, flowing lyrical phrasing recalled Joni Mitchell. Though that album was his breakthrough, his undeniable songwriting talent has been long evident. Raised in Bienfait, Saskatchewan, he cut his teeth in the nearby Regina music community. His 2012 LP The Bearer of Bad News documented his already-formed musical ambition and showcased Shauf’s burgeoning voice as a narrative songwriter with songs like “Hometown Hero,” “Wendell Walker,” and “My Dear Helen” feeling like standalone, self-contained worlds. In 2018, his band Foxwarren, formed over 10 years ago with childhood friends, released a self-titled album where Pitchfork recognized how “Shauf has diligently refined his storytelling during the last decade.”
The Party earned a spot on the Polaris Music Prize 2016 shortlist and launched Shauf to an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden as well as glowing accolades from NPR, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and more. “That LP was a concept record and it really made me want to do a better album. I wanted to have a more cohesive story,” says Shauf. Where the concept of The Party revealed itself midway through the writing process, he knew the story he wanted to tell on The Neon Skyline from the start. “I kept coming back to the same situation of one guy going to a bar, which was basically exactly what I was doing at the time. These songs are fictional but it’s not too far off from where my life was,” Shauf explains.
For The Neon Skyline, Shauf chose to start each composition on guitar instead of his usual piano. He says, “I wanted to be able to sit down and play each song with just a guitar without having to rely on some sort of a clever arrangement to make it whole.” The resulting album finds its immediacy in simplicity. While the arrangements on folksy “The Moon” are unfussy and song-centered like the best Gordon Lightfoot offerings, his drive to experiment is still obvious. This is especially so on the unmoored relationship autopsy “Thirteen Hours,” which boasts an arrangement that’s both jazzy and adventurous.
Like he’s done throughout his career, Shauf wrote, performed, arranged, and produced every song on The Neon Skyline, this time at his new studio space in the west end of Toronto. Happy accidents like Shauf testing out a new spring reverb pedal led to album cuts like the woozy closer “Changer” and experimenting with tape machines forced him to simplify how he’d arrange the tracks. Over the course of a year-and-a-half, Shauf ended up with almost 50 songs all about the same night at the bar. Though paring down his massive body of work to a single album’s worth of material was a challenge for Shauf, the final tracklist is seamless and fully-formed.
As much as The Neon Skyline is about a normal night at a bar with friends and a bartender who knows exactly what you’ll order before you sit down, the album is also about the painful processing of a lost love. Lead single “Things I Do” examines the dissolution of the narrator’s past relationship. Over tense and jazz-minded instrumentation, Shauf sings, “Seems like I should have known better than to turn my head like it didn’t matter. Why do I do the things I do when I know I am losing you?” He explains, “a lot of this record is a breakup record. I haven’t had a breakup in a long time, but a lot of relationships have had one of those nights where one person shows up somewhere when they weren’t supposed to and then picks a fight with their partner.” Elsewhere, songs like “Clove Cigarette” explore the better times, honing in on a memory that “takes me back to your summer dress.”
With any album about a lost love, the key ingredient is a generosity and kindness that can only come from a writer as empathic as Shauf. On the standout personality-filled single “Try Again,” the narrator, his friends, and his ex find themselves at a new bar. The former lovers’ reunion is awkwardly funny and even sweet, as he sings, “Somewhere between drunkenness and charity, she puts her hand on the sleeve of my coat. She says ‘I’ve missed this.’ I say “I know, I’ve missed you too.” She says, ‘I was actually talking about your coat.'” It’s a charming moment on a record filled with them. Shauf’s characters are all sympathetic here, people who share countless inside jokes, shots, and life-or-death musings on things like reincarnation when the night gets hazy.
On top of heartbreak, friendship, and the mundane moments of humanity that define his songwriting, Shauf makes music that explores how easy it is to find yourself in familiar patterns and repeat the same mistakes of your past. His characters wonder, “Did this relationship end too soon? Would going to another bar cheer my friend up?” Or in the case of the foreboding “Living Room,” where a character asks herself, “How hard is it to give a shit?” the songs on The Neon Skyline ultimately take solace in accepting that life goes on and things will be okay. Shauf says, “there’s moments on the album where the characters are thinking ‘this is the end of the world.’ But there are also moments with some clarity and perspective: Nothing is the end of the world.”
FM96 Presents – Thursday July 16th, 2020
Grandson is an alternative artist hailing from Toronto, Canada. Born in the small town of Englewood New Jersey, he relocated to the cultural melting pot of Toronto at a young age and grew up surrounded by music ranging from jazz and rock & roll to rap, dancehall and R&B. Searching for his voice and for meaning in today’s divisive, chaotic world, grandson confronts the most pressing issues of his generation through his songwriting, such as financial inequality, governmental, environmental accountability and social justice, giving these topics a soundtrack with a genuine sense of urgency and frustration. His music also touches on adolescence, relationships and the insecurities and difficulties of growing up through your 20s. When asked about today’s music scene, he says: “I genuinely believe the world needs honest rock & roll, now more than ever”.
97.5 Virgin Radio Presents: Friday, July 17th, 2020
One of the greatest legacies in music history can be summed up by just three letters—TLC.
Those characters merely hint at the talent of Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, and the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, but they immediately evoke an unparalleled journey nonetheless. That journey encompasses immortal anthems such as “Waterfalls,” “Creep,” “No Scrubs,” and “Unpretty,” to name a few, as well as sales of 70 million records worldwide, four GRAMMY® Awards, two RIAA diamond-certified albums among a total of four multiplatinum albums, ten Top 10 singles, and four Number 1 singles. Meanwhile, the VH1 original film CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story chronicled their rise and broke records as the highest-rated television film premiere of 2013 and the highest-rated original premiere on the network between consistent touring.
Given the legacy behind this timeless moniker, it’s fitting the undisputed “best-selling American girl-group of all-time” chose the name TLC for their fifth and first album in 15 years. Countless fans quite literally “demanded” a new TLC album in 2015. Unassumingly, the girls launched a Kickstarter campaign to simply gauge interest. What they got was an overwhelming and seismic groundswell of support. Fans worldwide—including Katy Perry, New Kids On The Block, Donnie Wahlberg, Bette Midler, —enthusiastically contributed to this next chapter. Raising over $400,000, it became the “fastest and most funded pop project in Kickstarter history.”
TLC went as hard as ever in the booth. As a result, the music picks up exactly where they left off just sharper, smarter, sassier, and even a little sexier than before. The same inimitable chemistry simultaneously drives all twelve tracks, which shot the album straight to the #1 spot on the Billboard Top 100 Chart.
At the end of the day, it’s TLC through and through, and there’s nothing more CrazySexyCool than that.
Diamond Selling, Multi-platinum, Grammy award-winning rap superstar, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and actor, Nelly, has continually raised the bar for the entertainment industry since stepping on the scene in 2000 with his distinctive vocals and larger-than-life personality. He became king of the “Summer Anthem” with songs like Hot in Herre, RideWitMe, Countrry Grammar, Cruise, Shake Ya Tailfeather, Dilemma and Just a Dream. 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of Country Grammar disrupting the music scene with Nelly’s unique sound and vocals. Nelly’s collaboration with Florida Georgia Line received Diamond status and he is only one of seven rappers to date to reach this honor. Currently he is touring around the globe and recently was the first artist to play in Saudi Arabia with a mixed gender/family crowd. Nelly along with TLC and FloRida kick off a sure to be spectacular show this summer. Adding to his list of “firsts” Nelly is the first hip hop artist to play with multiple symphonies nationwide and played himself in BET’s Real Husbands of Hollywood with Kevin Hart for 6 seasons. His sports knowledge and love of all sports secured him a gig as a sports caster with Skip Bayless. 2019 is going to be a huge year for the hip hop mogul, currently Nelly is in studio preparing for new music to be released and announced another collaboration with Florida Georgia line producing an EP with Nelly and a new crossover festival! Nelly has several unique business ventures to be announce in fourth quarter of 2019 which will hopefully be as successful as Apple Bottoms was, selling for multiple millions. Billboard ranked Nelly the number three Top Artist of the Decade in 2009 and he to date holds the philanthropic honor of hosting the most African American attended donor registry to date. Nelly is the co-owner of the Charlotte Hornets with Michael Jordan and founded a college program that offers music production to students and Nelly funded scholarships.
True Hip-hop trailblazers since 1991, Arrested Development has been cultural champions of consciousness and empowerment across the planet. Their representation of eclectic and vibrant African sounds and clothing has produced a unique clash of rhythms and style that continue to contrast the expected look and sound of Hip-hop culture.
Arrested Development have been supporters of important groups and movements like the National Coalition of The Homeless, and the African National Congress (ANC).
With numerous album releases, and world tours, Arrested Development has been ground-breaking in Hip-hop culture. Their album, “3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life of…”, earned them two Grammy awards for Best New Artist and Best Rap Single (Tennessee), 2 MTV awards, a Soul Train Music Award, and the NCAAP Image Award. Rolling Stone magazine named them Band of The Year in 1992, while VH-1 named them one of the greatest Hip-hop artists of all time! The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame even named the AD smash “Tennessee” one of the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll. Sharing the stage with such important figures such as Nelson Mandela, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Hilary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, AD are the categorical definition of legends.
Jenny Berggren, lead singer of the internationally renowned swedish pop group ACE OF BASE and now solo artist, looked into the face of success rather suddenly at the age of 19.
The group’s first two released songs All That She Wants and Wheel Of Fortune coupled in the number one and number two spots on the danish sale charts before a single publicity photo had ever been snapped of Ace of Base.
The band’s album The Sign skyrocketed to the top of worldwide music charts in the early nineties, now selling over 25 million copies and making it the all-time most selling debut album ever—a title unsurpassed to this day. The album’s success even raked in more revenue for sweden that year than the country’s signature auto company, Volvo.
“Meeting the top of the world in music is very challenging in a good way, but to the way to that success i always kept in mind that i will meet the same people on the way down,” Jenny says.
Pure Country 93 Presents: Saturday, July 18th, 2020
With the release of his eagerly-awaited EP The Fall, Canadian country star Dallas Smith finds himself in a pretty enviable position.
Even before officially seeing the light of day, the collection had catapulted Smith to unprecedented plateaus in Canadian country music. Its first two singles, “Make ‘Em Like You” and “Rhinestone World,” were Smith’s fifth and sixth consecutive No. 1s and seventh in total – both records for Canadian country artists in the SoundScan era. Add to that his many major award wins, gold and platinum certifications, and you’ve got one of the most impressive resumes in Canadian music.
More important than the achievements and accolades, though – and largely responsible for them – is the fact that, at this point in his career, Smith feels beholden to nobody but himself.
“I’m having the time of my life just making music and sharing it with people who want to be a part of it,” he offers. “Honestly, I feel like I’m at the place that I’ve strived for my whole career – where you’ve got everything you could want and don’t have to worry about what anybody else thinks.”
That passion permeates much of The Fall, his sixth studio release via 604 Records, in the best way possible. Produced by longtime collaborator Joey Moi (Florida Georgia Line, Jake Owen) with Dave Cohen (Florida Georgia Line, Chris Lane), the six-song collection is ripe with memorable melodies and undeniable hooks, from its impactful opener, “Drop,” to the high-energy and heartfelt “Rhinestone World” and “Make ‘Em Like You” to the mega-fun party anthem “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink Alone,” featuring guest vocals from close pals Dean Brody and Mackenzie Porter.
Lyrically, The Fall is equally as engaging. From family and fatherhood to friendship and unconditional love, it’s clear that Smith’s words carry a lot of weight with him. “We were very selective about which songs we were going to cut this time around,” he reveals. “As I get older, I find myself less interested in competing with the kids on the charts than singing about what’s important and meaningful to me and my life right now.”
Of course, authenticity is a valuable currency in country music, and by continually keeping true to himself in the studio and on stage, Smith has become a beacon for fans seeking substance and sincerity from the artists they follow. Having already capitalized on Canada, he’s now watching his profile grow in important markets like the U.S. and Australia and is eager to keep converting followers from any stage that will have him. “That’s my fun,” Smith enthuses. “I know what it takes for me to fork over 50 bucks to go see a band I’m into, so if I can inspire somebody to come out to a show and show them a good time, that’s the big win for me. You can be all kinds of things in he studio, but on stage, there’s nothing to hide behind, and I take pride in always living up to that challenge.”
Smith now also finds himself at a point where he can enlighten younger artists with the lessons he’s learned over 20-plus years in the music business. Even before embarking on his solo career with the release of Jumped Right In in 2012, Smith earned his stripes – along with several gold and platinum certifications and a JUNO Award win – with rock outfit Default.
“We faced all kinds of nightmare scenarios as young artists trying to put out music,” Smith explains about what informed his decision to launch his own label, SteelHead Music. “This business can be a real bitch, especially with nobody looking out for you. That’s what made me want to work with and guide talented people and help them avoid those kinds of pitfalls while developing fresh and exciting new sounds.”
After all, he was only in high school when he first heard Alice in Chains’ Dirt and realized his true calling, and ironically, it has taken two decades, countless songs and shows, and an outright stylistic shift to make music as compelling and with as much conviction as his early idols. Looking back, though, it doesn’t sound like he’d change a single thing. “I’m just doing what I love to do, and more people keep coming along for the ride,” Smith says proudly. “This is the dream, and as long as there are people that want new music and want to keep coming out to the shows to share great times, I’m going to keep doing this, because that’s what it’s all about!”
Billy Currington’s latest album bears the breezy title Summer Forever, but the talented Georgia native has spent more than a decade in the spotlight proving he’s truly a man for all seasons. Possessing one of the smoothest and most distinct voices in any genre of music, Currington is equally skilled at delivering upbeat summertime anthems as well as exploring the complexities of life and love with a poignant ballad. On Summer Forever, Currington’s sixth studio album, he brings both with a collection of songs that will take the listener on a riveting musical journey and leavethem breathless at the end of the ride.
Since his self-titled debut album bowed on Mercury Records in 2003, Currington has scored eleven career No. 1 singles, most recently, “Don’t Hurt Like It Used To.” His other hits that reached the No. 1 spot includesuch memorable songsas “Good Directions,” “Let Me Down Easy,” “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right,” “People Are Crazy,” “That’s How Country Boys Roll,” “Hey Girl,” and “We Are Tonight.” Over the years, the self-effacing Georgia boy has amassed an impressive list of accolades. He won the “Hottest Video of the Year” honor at the fan-voted CMT Music Awards for “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right” in 2006. The same year, he received an ACM nod for Top New Male Vocalist. His hit duet with Shania Twain, “Party for Two,” earned nominations from both the CMA and ACM. “People Are Crazy” took Currington’s already hot career to another level. He earned Grammy nominations for Male Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song in addition to being nominate for Single and Song of the Year from the Country Music Association.
Currington has come a long way from his rural Georgia roots. He spent his early years on Tybee Island before his family moved inland to Rincon. He grew up listening to vinyl records by Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kenny Rogers, and when his mom took him to one of Rogers’ concerts, 10-year-old Billy knew immediately he wanted to someday be the one on stage performing. However, he wasn’t sure how he was going to get there. “To be honest, I never even heard of Nashville till I was 17 or 18,” he says. All that changed when Currington’s pastor recognized his talent while he was singing in church, and decided to give the youngster some career guidance. “He had been living in Nashville at one point,” Curringtonrecalls. “He said, ‘Man, there’s a town called Nashville that you can get a record deal. Your dreams could come true. I’m going to take you there.’ So he took me and showed me the town. He introduced me to people. When I got back home, I totally made up my mind that when I graduated high school I was going to go back.
And so he did. He made the move to Music City at 18 and began paying his dues by pouring concrete and working as a personal trainer at a gym during the day. At night, he was getting a musical education playing in bars all over Nashville. Naturally, he began meeting other aspiring songwriters and artists. He began writing songs and his warm, strong voice made him one of the town’s most in demand demo singers. “I was doing 10 demos a day,” he says. “Before you know it, I started getting deal offers from record labels.”
He signed with Mercury in 2003, and immediately garnered attention with his debut single, “Walk a Little Straighter,” an autobiographical song about life with his alcoholic stepfather. The song
peaked at No. 8, an auspicious debut for a newcomer. He proved the quick success was no fluke when he followed with “I Got A Feelin,” which became his first top five hit. From there, the hits continued as his sophomore album Doin’ Somethin’ Rightspawned his first No. 1 with “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right” and his second No. 1 with “Good Directions.” Released in 2008, his third album, Little Bit of Everything, featured five songs co-written by Currington. The Bobby Braddock/Troy Jones penned “People Are Crazy” became his third No. 1 and he followed that with a song he co-wrote, “That’s How Country Boys Roll,” which also hit the top of the charts. In September 2010, Currington released Enjoy Yourself, which included No. 1 hits “Pretty Good atDrinkin’ Beer” and “Let Me Down Easy.” His fifth album, We Are Tonight, further fueled him momentum spawning two No. 1 singles –“Hey Girl” and the title track.
Though Currington has grown in knowledge and confidence, his goals in making Summer Forever is the same as when he recorded his debut. “Music is a snapshot of people’s lives and most of all, I want to leave people in a happy place,” he says with a smile. “Whether they’re sitting on a beach listening to this album or they’re walking around their house or cleaning their house or whatever. Wherever they’re at listening to this album, I want to leave them with a happy and peaceful feeling.”
Nearly 30 years after Travis Tritt launched his music career, the Southern rock-influenced artist continues to sell-out shows and stay true and relevant to country music fans across the globe. Continuously performing shows and withholding a heavy appearance schedule, Tritt is proving to be unstoppable.
The highly abbreviated Tritt timeline started when the young Marietta, Georgia native incorporated his lifelong influences of Southern rock, blues and gospel into his country during a honky-tonk apprenticeship that led him to Warner Bros. in 1989. Over the course of a decade, Travis released seven studio albums and a greatest hits package for the label. His 1990 debut Country Club and its succession of hits put him in the vanguard of the genre’s early ’90s boom, dubbing him as one of “The Class of ‘89,” which included country music superstars Garth Brooks, Clint Black and Alan Jackson; all whom dominated the charts in the early ‘90s.
“Country Club,” “Help Me Hold On,” “I’m Gonna Be Somebody,” and “Drift Off to Dream” peaked at numbers two and three on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts; all which led for Tritt to win Top New Male Artist award from Billboard and the CMA Horizon Award (now known as the New Artist Award). Additionally, in 1991, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) marked Tritt’s debut album Country Club as certified platinum.
Two years after his debut, Travis’ sophomore album, It’s All About to Change, was released. Literally speaking, this album changed everything when the album shipped three million copies and all four of its singles reached the top five on the country music charts. Along with his first album, this release became triple-platinum certified by the RIAA.
At the same time, his conspicuous lack of a cowboy hat and musical assertiveness set him apart. The next series of albums, seven of which are certified platinum or higher, scored him more hit singles and led him to amass more than 30 million in career album sales, two Grammys, three CMA Awards and a devoted fan base that has filled venues coast-to-coast.
He’s been a force in sports appearances, having performed at the 1996 Olympics, two Super Bowls, a World Series Game, the opening of the Georgia Dome, the final Braves game at Atlanta-Fulton Country Stadium and, in 2013, the NCAA men’s basketball championship.
In 2012, Tritt formed his own label, Post Oak Recordings and shortly after released his album, The Calm After... In 2016, Tritt released a new project, a special live 2-disc CD and DVD, titled A Man and His Guitar – Live From The Franklin Theatre. The release shot and recorded at the historic Franklin Theatre in Franklin, Tenn., spotlights Tritt’s distinctively soulful voice and his exceptional guitar prowess in an intimate theater setting.
In late 2014 and throughout 2015, Tritt’s compilation album, Very Best of Travis Tritt, that was originally released in 2007, saw a sales resurgence as it topped the SoundScan Top 200 Catalog Country Albums chart for over 60 consecutive weeks with 15 weeks spent at No. 1 and 35+ weeks notched in a Top 5 position, while earning RIAA certified gold status by selling over 500,000 copies. The 20-track album features some of Tritt’s biggest hits, including “It’s A Great Day To Be Alive,” “Here’s A Quarter,” and “Anymore.”
Most recently, Tritt joined the upcoming new music showcase series, REAL COUNTRY, alongside Grammy Award-winning artist, Shania Twain and ACM Award-winning singer-songwriter, Jake Owen who will hand-select emerging solo artists, duos and groups to perform in showcases that spotlight the rich traditions, songs and themes of specific country genres. The best artists from each showcase will perform in a grand finale, for the chance to be named one of country music’s next breakout acts. The show is set to premiere from Wilshire Studios on Tuesday, November 13 at 10 EST/9 CST on USA Network.
Blurring the lines between Country and hip-hop music, Blanco Brown makes a southern sound that he proudly calls “trailer trap.” It’s a boundary-breaking, multicolored genre of his very own — which draws upon the rawness and storytelling abilities of his two biggest musical influences, Johnny Cash and Outkast. His debut EP, Blanco Brown, showcases the full range of its creator, who juggles multiple roles as the project’s songwriter, producer, vocalist, visionary, and multi-instrumentalist.
Years before he rose up the ranks as a Grammy-nominated engineer and major-label solo artist, and one of Billboard’s “7 Country Acts to Watch in 2019” Blanco— grew up in two very different worlds, both in the state of Georgia, splitting his time between the city projects and the rural countryside. During the school year, he’d spend his months in Atlanta, where the crime that filled his neighborhood was offset by the love and musical connection shared by his family. Every summer, he’d head out of town temporarily moving in with relatives in the small rural town of Butler, GA.
During those summers in Butler, the soundtrack that had filled his days back home in Atlanta — the R&B harmonies he’d sing with his brothers; the rap he’d hear blasting from the cassette players in passing cars; the gospel music he’d howl every Sunday morning in church — gave way to the laidback, rootsy sounds of Johnny Cash songs and Bobby Blue Bland records. It was there, far away from city life, that Blanco became a fan of Country music. As each summer drew to an end, though, he’d head back to the city, leaving behind the twangy sounds of Butler and returning once again to the projects of Atlanta.
Those two worlds come together with Blanco Brown, an EP that strikes a balance between Blanco’s contrasting backgrounds. A mix of countrified influences and street-smart lingo, the EP finds Blanco dressing up his rapid-fire lyrics and melodic hooks with layers of lap steel, thumping kick drum, harmonica, spoons, tambourine, banjo, synthesizers, 808 percussion, guitar, and plenty of vocal harmonies. The result is a debut EP that’s both urban and rural, blending the sounds of Blanco’s diverse upbringing into the world’s very first trailer-trap project.
Blanco Brown also represents a triumph over adversity. A childhood outcast who spent most of his youth in the hood, Blanco learned to channel his emotions into art at a young age. He drew. He sang. He wrote songs. Years later, he still sees colors whenever he makes music. The songs on Blanco Brown represent a mix of darkness and light, balancing the aggressive, hard-edged narratives of songs like “Country Time” with upbeat, sunlit love songs like “Head Nod.” It’s a vivid, vibrant sound — one that shines a light on Blanco’s loving personality, challenging upbringing, and boundless creativity.
Gluing the mix together in Blanco’s voice and detailed storytelling, with each song spinning true-life tales of poverty, relationships, the hood, and the journey to overcome whatever obstacles stand between you and your dream. Although most of those stories come from Blanco’s own experience, they help weave a more universal picture.
“I don’t necessarily think of the sound as being genre-breaking,” he says. “I think of it as being culture-bonding. If you listen to the messages of these songs, you’ll find it’s about the things we go all through as humans, not about race.”
Like many of his songs, “Country Time,” with its hard-hitting hip-hop bounce and bluegrass-inspired outro, was tracked on Blanco’s laptop, while “Don’t Love Her” was built upon a voice memo that originated on his cell phone. Other songs were created in more traditional studios — the kind of place that Blanco already knew well, given the years he’d spent working with musicians from across the spectrum. Blanco Brown may be Blanco’s first release as a solo artist in his own right, but he’s no newcomer. Instead, he’s a well-rounded veteran of the recording studio, with his eyes now set on the stage. Over the years Blanco worked as a vocal producer with top name artists like Fergie, Childish Gambino, Chris Brown and Kane Brown to name a few. He also wrote songs for big names like Monica in addition to working as a background singer.
“This album accentuates one side of what I went through, I can’t forget the hood,” says Blanco, who writes compellingly about his youth on songs like “Ghett Ol Memories” and “Temporary Insanity.” “I didn’t start out trying to make Country music, but these are the sounds I love—and always keep coming back to time and time again. I don’t believe in people being trailer trash, either, so I want to put a good connotation on that word. Making trailer-trap music really feels liberating to me, because I want to bring people together. That’s what this music stands for: unity. It’s multiple influences and sounds and styles, all coming together.”
*Rock the Park is a rain or shine event
*Artists are subject to change
*All ticket sales are final
*Tickets purchased are for the festival not individual artists
*Lawn chairs not permitted