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Exclusive Q&A: Rodney Atkins Scores Success with ‘Take a Back Road’

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsRodney Atkins may be on more music fans’ personal play lists now that the title track of his fourth studio album “Take a Back Road,” has become his sixth No. 1 hit, but don’t think of him as anything like an overnight success.

The East Tennessee native signed with Curb Records in 1997 but didn’t really catch listeners’ ears until his 2006 album If You’re Going Through Hell. Atkins said what helped him turn the musical corner was taking a long look at his beliefs and defining exactly what songs he could write and sing from the heart.

Wonder if that worked? Consider that the album’s title track and the song “Watching You” both zoomed to the top of the charts. As he prepares for the October 4 release of his album and a supporting tour, Atkins took time to talk with OurStage about the title track, the album and just what he hopes his fans take away from his music.

OS: Congratulations on your new single “Take a Back Road” hitting No. 1! You must be so thrilled.

RA: To be honest, you get so caught up in the grind and the business and then suddenly it just hits you and you’re on your knees, so humble. I’m so humbled that I’m here and have a chance to do this. I’m just so very grateful. I don’t know why I’m doing this interview because I’m honestly speechless. Thank you for wanting to talk to me!

OS: When you approached writing and recording this album, what did you hope to achieve?

RA: When we started working on the If You’re Going Through Hell album [that was released in 2006], I lived about 100 miles from Music Row so I was constantly going back and forth. So I wouldn’t have to do the commute, I got [basic recording equipment] on eBay and set it up in the pantry, a little closet at our house.

I was working one day and my wife [Tammy Jo Atkins] and some of her friends were out on the front porch…and I had them come in and sing [a background vocal] “It is what I love about the south, about the south, about the south.” It was recording those songs in that way that got me and really affected me and lifted me. They actually say more than you realize.

So my answer is that when we made the If You’re Going Through Hell album, we were not trying to fit in and follow a trend. We were basically following our hearts. That’s what made me want to go back to that place, to sing songs and write songs that really, really touch people. [I wanted] songs that would stick with you and lift people up.”

Continue reading ‘Exclusive Q&A: Rodney Atkins Scores Success with ‘Take a Back Road’’

Soundcheck: Fall Music Preview

As the warm weather fades away and summer comes to a close, there’s still one thing to look forward to; a new season meansnew music. Now that J. Cole has dropped Cole World: The Sideline Story, and Weezy finally released The Carter IV this month as well, the bar is already set pretty high for this season’s set-lists.  Here are a few projects we can’t wait to get our hands on.

B.o.B. gave fans a taste of what’s to come last week when he released “Strange Clouds”, the first single off his upcoming sophomore album of the same name. While no drop date has been set, the song features Lil Wayne and a markedly more aggressive Bobby Ray.  He told HipHopDX, “Hopefully fans will be able to hear the new album very soon. I’m as impatient for you to hear it as you are. It’s a more mature sound but nothing too experimental,” he said. “It’s a happy medium between the sound of B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray and the mixtapes, so everyone should be able to enjoy it.”

Drake will release his sophomore effort, Take Care, on October 24 under Young Money Records.  Just last week, he released the cover art to the album with a note to fans:

“Feels like it’s been so long. Is life moving so fast in this generation that when we desire something it begins to move in slow motion? Are we just used to getting what we want right away? Or do we require one another to feel right about all that is going on around us? Maybe our anticipation is justified by the fact that we genuinely cannot wait to share a moment again? Either way, your life and mine are scheduled to meet on October 24…I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Neither would we, Drake.  Wonder if this little note was meant to distract fans from the fact that the album was due out October 4, and has been pushed back.  Still, if his singles, “Headlines” and his latest, “Free Spirit” featuring Rick Ross are any indication of what’s to come, it’s definitely worth the wait.

Continue reading ‘Soundcheck: Fall Music Preview’

Honky Tonks Where Country Learned To Stomp

Take a look at this alley right here.

Unassuming, a little grimy and out of the way, it looks like any other alley in any city on the planet. Really, based on the surface features, what more can you say?

It’s an alley.

But looks can be deceiving. This alley, as pedestrian as it looks, holds a bit of importance, at least in the history of country music. This particular stretch of concrete, found in Nashville, TN, runs alongside the famous Ryman Auditorium, perhaps better known as the home of the Grand Ole Opry, the most famous institution of country and western musical performance. The alley storied history comes from it’s use as a designated safe haven for country music fans. Coming from the Ryman or one of the bars  along 4th and 5th avenue in Nashville, the alley was a place for folks to “whoop and holler”. Revelers, intoxicated by the music and the libations they may have just consumed, could come out to this alley and make all the noise they wanted without really bothering anyone. And this alley, recognized as a historic location, is getting a facelift.

Continue reading ‘Honky Tonks Where Country Learned To Stomp’

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Radiohead do Colbert Report

Radiohead were introduced to “Televisionface” by Stephen Colbert this week on The Colbert Report and funniness ensued. After accusing the British band of stealing “American rock jobs,” Colbert questioned their anti-corporate stance while simultaneously promoting Dr. Pepper. Check out the interview below.

Guns N’ Roses and The Cure lead Hall of Fame nominees

The 2012 nominees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have been announced, and it’s quite an illustrious list: Guns N’ Roses, The Cure, Joan Jett, Eric B. & Rakim, Heart, Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Donna Summer to name a few. The actual induction ceremony won’t happen until April 14, 2012 in Cleveland, giving the nominees plenty of time to sabotage each other campaign for a place in music’s most famous mausoleum.

The Bad

Bob Dylan faces plagiarism claim with new art exhibit

Oh no he didn’t. Did he? Bob Dylan’s new exhibit at the Gagosian Gallery features paintings inspired by Dylan’s travels in China, Japan, Vietnam and Korea. But eyebrows were raised when several paintings were shown to be almost exact replicas of historic photos not taken by Dylan. Does Dylan’s freewheelin’ interpretation of somebody else’s art make you feel tangled up and blue, or are the times a-changing? The answer, friends, is blowing in the wind. OK, we’ll stop.

Hard times for Sly Stone

In a troubling video appearing on, legendary funk musician Sly Stone is interviewed from his current home inside a friend’s camper van. The reclusive singer, who has battled drug addiction for years, admits to using as recently as a week ago. Hopefully this exposure will help Stone get the treatment he needs.

The Ugly

Michael Jackson doctor trial underway

The trial of Dr. Conrad Murray began this week in a flurry of drama. With protestors for both sides taking up residence outside the courtroom and planes with aerial banners with pro- and anti-Conrad sentiments flying overhead, the prosecution began building its case against Michael Jackson’s doctor. Conrad is charged with involuntary manslaughter for prescribing the propofol that led to Jackson’s 2009 death. You can read the prosecution’s opening statements here.

Irish farmer chases half-naked Rihanna out of his field

Although 99% of mankind might appreciate a scantily clad Rihanna dancing in their field, one Irish farmer did not. Rihanna got permission from Alan Graham to use his farm in County Down to film scenes for the video to her song, “We Found Love.” But when the farmer drove by on his tractor and saw the pop star gyrating in a bandana bikini, he put the brakes on the shoot. Rihanna found love in another field, and morality was restored to the Graham estate.


Riffs, Rants & Rumors: Jonathan Wilson’s Canyon Spirit

With touches of everything from psychedelia to folk-rock to prog, singer/songwriter Jonathan Wilson’s new album, Gentle Spirit, is something of a beard rocker’s—or more accurately, beard balladeer’s—wet dream, the kind of recording that sounds like it was meant for spinning seductively around a turntable while the listener sits cross-legged on the floor absorbing the credits and cover art like they’re part of a sacred text. And the seventy-eight-minute opus, lovingly recorded on analog gear, has indeed been made available as a double-vinyl LP.

But if you end up discovering Wilson’s work digitally, don’t despair—the experience isn’t analog-exclusive. “The magic is still there,” Wilson says, “looking at a digital scan of a painting you love still conveys the intent, maybe not the detail and resolution, but the intent is still there.” Besides, it’s not like Gentle Spirit was a live-in-the-studio recording; Wilson played the majority of the parts himself, diligently overdubbing each instrument as part of a long, laborious process. “The one-man-band approachcomes very naturally,” he says, “I’ve always recorded that way. Gentle Spirit was the first record of mine that had guests helping me musically. I enjoy both sides, live tracking with others and also being completely alone, working it all out.” While it’s not a concept album, Gentle Spirit nevertheless has the feel of a slowly unfolding song cycle that makes a long elegant arc. It’s not the kind of thing you just throw together. “I had a vision for the basis of the record,” Wilson affirms, “the bulk of the songs and the record’s meaning, but many things unfolded along the way, the record took many, many months to finish, it was an extended process.”

Continue reading ‘Riffs, Rants & Rumors: Jonathan Wilson’s Canyon Spirit’

Soundcheck: Hip Hop Hits iheartradio Music Festival

The “biggest live music event in radio history” hit Las Vegas this weekend when Clear Channel’s iheartradio Music Festival kicked off Friday night at the MGM Grand. Thousands of fans came from across the country to see the impressive line-up, which included the best of the best in every music genre.  The festival marked the launch of Clear Channel’s new iheartradio app, which is designed to make users the program directors for their own fantasy radio station. Abandoning the traditional set-up of genre-specific set-lists, iheartradio allows fans to hear the latest and greatest music from their favorite artists, whether its Jay-Z or Rascal Flats. For a true music aficionado, the resulting playlist would probably sound a lot like the incredible mash-up of music offered at the two-night event.

Black Eyed Peas kicked off the show with “Boom Boom Pow” to an ecstatic crowd comprised of die-hard pop, country, hip hop and rock fans.  The night went smoothly with stellar sets from Jane’s Addiction, Carrie Underwood, Bruno Mars and Kelly Clarkson, all of whom were there to celebrate radio and prove why they rule the charts.  Coldplay delivered an amazing set including “Clocks” and Chris Martin came off as the ultimate front man.  The set was enough to convert me into an instant Chris Martin fan.

Alicia Keys was a beaming beauty when she hit the stage to perform a medley of hits including “Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart”, “Unthinkable” and “Empire State of Mind.”Shealso debuted a new song, teasing fans, “Is it OK for me to play something brand new?” The inspirational number, “A Place Of My Own” was classic Keys, who delivered airy vocals over her perfect piano playing.

Next up was Hova himself, who seemed to be in a particularly good mood when he hit the stage for his forty-minute set.  With Memphis Bleek by his side, he delivered hit after hit from his sixteen-year career.  He repped The Black Album pretty hard and touched on his most successful singles, including “Jigga What”,  “99 Problems”, “Give It To Me” “Run This Town”, “Big Pimpin’” and “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”.  He closed the show with “Empire State of Mind” after Alicia Keys returned to the stage to belt out the huge hook.

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Loyalty to the End: NeverShoutNever Travels Through Time



OurStage artist NeverShoutNever has gone through some changes lately. Starting as the sole musical conduit for Christofer Drew, NeverShoutNever took its first steps towards stardom by rising through the ranks of MySpace. The band then set off on tours with the likes of Hellogoodbye and channeled their growing Internet stardom into a major label contract. As much as NeverShoutNever seems like a dream-like DIY Cinderella story, when considering the band’s origins as a creative output for one individual, it makes the logistics behind the recently released third album Time Travel even more remarkable. Not only does the band play with new sounds, the album also marks the first project the group created together as a cohesive unit. And they weren’t alone in helping to make it happen. In the process of crafting the album, the band stopped by the up-and-coming Burbank-based production company Loyal Studios to record the music video for “Time Travel”. Check out the video and some exclusive behind-the-scenes pictures below. Also, feel free stop by Loyal Studios’ blog entry on the shooting to get an inside scoop on the process of shooting the video and insight in the growth of NeverShoutNever.

How To Write In To The OS Staff: DOs and DON’Ts

It happens to the best of us. Every once in a while, you might run into a feature you don’t recognize, discover a bug on the site or simply have a query you need answered, so you write into our Community team. Since we get dozens of these emails a day, we’ve decided to make your (and our) lives easier. Here’s a quick list of DOs and DON’Ts when writing into our staff:


Karl Everest

- Do introduce yourself to us. All your messages are read and responded by a (human) member of our Community team, not a lifeless, automated robot. We enjoy the interaction we get with you!

- Do turn off the caps lock. It doesn’t make your message any higher on the priority list and NOT ONLY DO WE FEEL LIKE YOU’RE SHOUTING AT US, BUT IT GETS TIRESOME TO READ EVERYTHING CAPITALIZED.

Do give us as much information as you can. Stating “I have a problem with my account” will only prompt us to ask “what is your problem?” We want to avoid the extra step and make our service to you that much faster. The more details we have, the better we’ll be able to help you and the quicker your problem will be solved.

- Do write in with your suggestions, ideas and feedback! We really appreciate your opinions on the site, and we take any and all submissions seriously. After all, this site is all about you. (PS: it always makes our days brighter when we get a message from a happy/satisfied user for no particular reason!)


- Don’t threaten us! We’re here to help—all we want is to make your OurStage experience better.

- Don’t send the same message five different times to every OurStage email address you can find. If you send it to the appropriate email address, your question will filter in through the proper channels and be answered much more swiftly.

- When we ask you to clarify, don’t send us the same info you sent the first time. Even though we’re certified mind readers, we can’t do it through the Internet.

- Please don’t stalk us if you’re unsatisfied with our level of support, but feel free to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare or sign up for our Newsletter to know exactly what we’re up to 24/7.

As a closing note: we’re not robots, we don’t kill or eat babies, we’re not involved in a “larger music industry conspiracy” and we’re not out to get you. Music is our passion, and we do hope we’re helping your love for it grow.

Sound And Vision: Can Florence + the Machine End 2011 Where Adele Started It (on Top)?

Florence Welch must be in a state of extreme suspense right about now. And if she is, no one would understand how she feels better than Adele. At the dawn of 2011, Adele was in the very same position in which the lead singer of Florence + the Machine now finds herself, coming off a GRAMMY-nominated (and in Adele’s case, GRAMMY-winning) US debut album with extremely high expectations from people who are music fans, music writers and both (like yours truly). Would album No. 2 be career boom or bust?

For Adele, the rest is recent music history. Her sophomore album, 21, is the biggest seller of 2011 so far in the US, where it has launched two number one singles, song of the summer “Rolling in the Deep” and the big-boned ballad “Someone Like You.”

Florence, in a sense, is someone like Adele. Both British acts broke big in the States on TV (Adele on Saturday Night Live in 2008, Florence at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards); both were nominated for the Best New Artist GRAMMY (Adele won, Florence lost); both have worked extensively with producer Paul Epworth; both were cited by Beyoncé for influencing her during the making of 4; and both played major roles in making the pop charts safe once again for British blue-eyed soul.

But is this where the similarities end? Does Florence’s upcoming second album, still untitled as of mid-September, have the same potential as 21? The power to move continents of fans with its fiery emotion, bringing them to their knees and sending them crawling en masse to iTunes?

Continue reading ‘Sound And Vision: Can Florence + the Machine End 2011 Where Adele Started It (on Top)?’

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

The Lonely Island liven up the Emmys

The Lonely Island brought a ménage a trois of their greatest hits to the Emmys this week, performing a medley of “3-Way (The Golden Rule),” “I Just Had Sex” and “Jack Sparrow.” Fake mustaches abounded. We can’t decide whose we like better—John Stamos’ creepster look or the askew stylings of Michael Bolton. Pick your favorite below.

LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” gets North Korea up on its feet

The Internet is full of stupidheads, but every once in a while you come across a real genius. This week we nominate whoever put this footage of Kim Jong II’s army parades to LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.” We’re still laughing over the description: “Ain’t no party like a Pyongyang party, ’cause a Pyongyang party is ABSOLUTELY MANDATORY.” Enjoy the nonsense below.

The Bad

R.E.M. breaks up after thirty-one years

Sad news coming from R.E.M.’s Web site this week, where the band announced they had decided to “call it a day” after a thirty-one-year run. As Michael Stipe explained, “A wise man once said, ‘The skill in attending a party is knowing when it’s time to leave.’” Is it the end of the world as we know it? Or do you feel fine? Either way, you can read the band’s goodbyes here.

Jared Followill crashes car through neighbor’s house

A series of dares between Kings of Leon’s Jared Followill and his friends led to the bassist crashing his SUV through the garage door of his neighbor’s house at 2:00 AM this week. But it’s all good yo, because Followill had bought the house a week earlier and had planned to have it torn down anyway. Johnny Knoxville, pay attention. This jackass is on fire.

The Ugly

James Brown’s publicist thinks he was murdered

James Brown died on Christmas Day in 2006 from a heart attack. Lies, says his former publicist, Jacque Hollander. Hollander hired a private detective to investigate Brown’s death, saying she suspected something was rotten in Denmark. Adding to the conspiracy theory is the fact that Brown’s son-in-law, Darren Lumar, was murdered in 2008 after appearing on local TV to say he didn’t think congestive heart failure was the culprit in his father-in-law’s death. Read about the fishiness here.

Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke fears he’s been fired

It’s probably not a good sign when you stumble across your bandmates entering a recording studio, and you weren’t invited to join them. That’s what happened to Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke in New York, as he told NME. “”I hope I haven’t been fired,” the singer said. “I don’t really know what’s going on, because we haven’t really spoken recently and I’m a bit too scared to ask.” We’re no experts, but probably talking to an international publication before picking up the phone to call your bandmates doesn’t bode well for your future.



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