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Author: "Nancy Dunham"

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Your Country’s Right Here: Billy Ray Cyrus Gets Back to Basics

Billy Ray Cyrus goes back to basics on his latest album Change My Mind—and it sounds so good.

The title song, inspired by his decision to end divorce proceedings and reunite with his wife, is one of nine tunes that mixes bluegrass, roots, southern rock, gospel and country music for a distinctive sound. Those that only know Cyrus from his work with daughter Miley on the Disney show Hannah Montana, may find the gritty sound surprising, but Cyrus said it’s his true musical voice.

“I’m very proud of this album,” said Cyrus who wrote or co-wrote every song on the album. “This is really who I am. When I grew up and listened to country music, this was the music I wanted to make.”

Cyrus talked about his life as a young singer-songwriter, living in his car and hoping for his big break. Yet when his single “Achy Breaky Heart” from his 1992 album Some Gave All album topped Billboard charts for weeks and went 9x-platinum, it was a double-edged sword. Cyrus was bashed by critics even as sales soared and the album stayed at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Top 200 chart for 17 weeks in a row and became the best-selling debut album of all time by a male solo artist. Continue reading ‘Your Country’s Right Here: Billy Ray Cyrus Gets Back to Basics’

Your Country’s Right Here: Florida Georgia Line “Cruise” to Big Time

From the minute Florida Georgia Line hit the  stage at a recent Washington, D.C.-area show, it was clear why the duo’s star is rising.

It wasn’t just the ease and enthusiasm they put into their performance—right from the first notes of “It’s Just What We Do”—but a certain mix of confidence and amiability that blends into a palatable charisma. Not that the duo—known individually as Tyler Hubbard of Monroe, Ga., and Brian Kelley of Ormond Beach, Fla. —thinks that way.

“It says Florida-Georgia Line but we know we couldn’t have couldn’t have done it without our amazing management, our booking agent, our whole team,” said Kelley, back stage after the duo’s set opening for Jake Owen, speaking of the band’s first gold record for “Cruise.” “Our manager has assembled what we think is the best team in Nashville so we know it’s for everyone, not just us.” Continue reading ‘Your Country’s Right Here: Florida Georgia Line “Cruise” to Big Time’

Your Country’s Right Here: Risa Binder Makes Country Pop

Risa Binder not only lives in Nashville, she revels in it.

The country-pop singer songwriter may have grown up in Columbia, Maryland, but her heart was in Music City, after she found Loretta Lynn and then other icons such as Alison Krauss. Little wonder that the reality of living and working in Nashville — not to mention actually having Krauss drop by the studio in which Binder was recording her debut “Paper Heart” — still takes her breathe away.

“I just go and sit in the Bluebird Cafe and soak everything up,” said Binder. “Nashville is so crazy. It’s so exciting to be hear and hear a song come to life and play it and know others hear it. It’s all about everyone creating music.” Continue reading ‘Your Country’s Right Here: Risa Binder Makes Country Pop’

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.

Your Country’s Right Here: Andrew Osenga Gets Spacey with Folk

Andrew Osenga has taken folk music where, arguably, no artist has gone before—space.

How else to explain the Nashville-based singer/songwriter/producer/musician Osenga’s “story” Leonard, The Lonely Astronaut, released on September 18. Perhaps the album’s theme was born of his love of science fiction and folk? Sure, rockers have explored this concept for years—David Bowie‘s 1973 album Aladdin Sane and Pink Floyd‘s 1973 album Dark Side of the Moon come immediately to mind—but it’s fairly new territory for folk. Credit Osenga’s eclectic taste in music for the turn.

“I was into grunge and then Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, all the shows on the big stages,” he said of his early influences. “The music was heartfelt but they could hide the fact that they were heartfelt by putting on a big show. When I moved to Nashville I became friends with folk artists and really got into Paul Simon, Emmylou Harris…..And I’m a huge literary nerd, too, so that helped make this.” Continue reading ‘Your Country’s Right Here: Andrew Osenga Gets Spacey with Folk’

Exclusive Q and A: Jake Owen Keeps the Summer Party Going

Jake Owen is working his way around the country on his first headlining stint, “CMT Tour: The Summer Never Ends Tour,” behind his new EP Endless Summer that debuted at #2 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums Chart. As if that isn’t enough, he and his wife Lacey are expecting their first child in a few weeks.

The golden rays of summer still seem to be shining bright for the Florida native whose 2011 album Barefoot Blue Jean Night debuted at # 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums Chart and launched back-to-back # 1 hits.

Owen took time out of his high-energy days to talk to OurStage about his career, his music and more. Continue reading ‘Exclusive Q and A: Jake Owen Keeps the Summer Party Going’

Your Country’s Right Here: Lyle Lovett to Receive ASCAP Award as he Continues Tour behind “Release Me”

Lyle Lovett doesn’t know what is next for him, but he finds that exciting.

After spending the bulk of his career with Curb/Universal Music Group, he’s now parted ways with the label. No hard feelings, said Lovett, just time to move on.

“My deal has been with the two companies for my career,” said Lovett. “It does feel like the end of an era in my life. A lot of things have changed in the record business since 1986, and I’m eager to be in the new world. I don’t know how it will work yet, but I know I will be able to make records. I’m just glad to have some options.” Continue reading ‘Your Country’s Right Here: Lyle Lovett to Receive ASCAP Award as he Continues Tour behind “Release Me”’

Exclusive Q and A: David Nail Talks About ’1979,’ Adele, and Life without Romantic Misery

It seems that no sooner did David Nail finish his tours with Keith Urban and Gavin DeGraw than he launched his own tour this fall. But the 2011 GRAMMY Award nominee is reveling in playing some smaller venues for the rest of the year.

Perhaps that’s because the music on his latest project, the three-song EP 1979, is so emotional, that it almost begs to be played in more intimate settings. As fans know, the songs on the recording are acoustic versions of his songs “The Sound Of A Million Dreams,” “Half Mile Hill,” and a cover of Adele‘s “Someone Like You,” which set off a Twitter storm when it was first released.

Nail took a bit of time out to talk about his latest recording and just why it speaks to his heart. Continue reading ‘Exclusive Q and A: David Nail Talks About ’1979,’ Adele, and Life without Romantic Misery’

Your Country’s Right Here: Anais Mitchell Barnstorms for Good Folk

Anais Mitchell wants listeners to fully immerse themselves in her music.

Such passion for her songs and her efforts to have them reach listeners on a visceral level is one reason that Mitchell is loved by so many, including such high-profile artists as her own musical idol Ani DiFranco and the members of the GRAMMMY Award winning Bon Iver. Although Mitchell has barely cracked her 30s, she projects the insights and virtuosity of some folk artists who performed well before she was born. Any doubters need only sample her most recent album Young Man in America. Continue reading ‘Your Country’s Right Here: Anais Mitchell Barnstorms for Good Folk’

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. Continue reading ‘Exclusive Q and A: Easton Corbin Comes Back with ‘All Over the Road’’


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