Friday, December 16, 2016

Kelsea Ballerini: I'm Diggin' What She's Doin'

2 ACM Award Nominations
1 ACM Award
2 Teen Choice Award Nominations
2 CMA Award Nominations
1 AMA Nomination

And that's just 2016.

If you're still not impressed, Kelsea Ballerini has a head start on 2017 with two nominations for Favorite Country Female Artist (People's Choice Awards) and Best New Artist (GRAMMY Awards). She's creating a lot of first times for herself, for  women, for country music, and for women in country music (pun fully intended). #YouGoGirl

The first time I was introduced to Kelsea's music was back in March of 2015 when she opened for Billy Currington and that was when I knew I'd love her. To quote myself after that show, "Have you ever instantly connected to an artist after only hearing them perform just once?" Yes. Connected then. And still connected now.

I've been following her journey ever since, and I'm so happy to see how her career has taken off... Like when you fast forward to December 2 and Kelsea is headlining her own tour and selling out venues in New York City. 

The atmosphere inside Irving Plaza was incredible. We were belting out lyrics as if we had written them, because we've all been there. That is precisely why Kelsea connects so well with her audience (aka me); we know how it feels to love someone or to have a broken heart, and she helps us put those feelings into words (cue Stilettos and Peter Pan). And I'll speak from experience, nothing is more liberating than shouting "you don't get to get to me" and "you're never gonna be a man, Peter Pan" with a room full of others who just get it.

So there we were, deep in our feelings, swaying to the music, realizing that tomorrow we'd have no voice, when... sirens. Nope, not the song; actual warning lights were flashing like lightning. Right in the middle of a new song about high school, the fire alarm went off and KB and her band cleared the stage. Despite all that we had been taught in high school, the crowd didn't move. I guess we all just wanted to dance in the eye of danger?

10 minutes of confusion, someone shouting "There's a first time for everything, Kelsea!" and she was back on stage. From Love Me Like You Mean It to The First Time to Dibs - if it was anyone's first time with Kelsea, it certainly won't be their last. Not only is "Country's Next Queen" a great performer and songwriter, she's also among the most humble and appreciative, and for that reason alone, no one deserves the success more. Keep it up, girl.

For all of you other KB fans out there, she told us she's working on a new album and I am very much looking forward to that. 

I ain't staying down, tonight I'm going out
Yeah, even if I have to fake it
A little black dress to cover my mess
So you won't know my heart is breaking


**Full list of Awards & Nominations here.... because 2015 was also stacked.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Making Memories Of Us, With Them

It isn't news to anyone how much I love music -- we've been there a few times -- but one of the things I love most is its special relationship with the memory. Amongst many other things, music can be all transporting, captivating, uplifting, saddening, inspiring and motivating. It can make you feel things -- both new and old. It can change your mood. It can transport you to another place and time, for better or for worse. Music always leaves an impression, whether you realize it at that moment or not.

Keith Urban is an artist I grew up listening to -- Stupid Boy, Somebody Like You, Raining On Sunday, and You'll Think Of Me were my jams. Hearing those songs will forever remind me of the way I felt the first time I heard them; spouting his lyrics at the top of my lungs while driving with the windows down; and the bond Keith's music created within my family. So, you can probably imagine my excitement seeing him in concert for the first time.

I don't know if it's because it was the final stop on the Ripcord Tour, but my experience that night was unparalleled. I'd always heard Keith Urban put on a great show, but this was more than great. He had a stage presence like I'd never seen and at the start of each song I'd lean over to my friend and say, "OMG, I love this one!" ... "This one, too!" (How is it that even after a number of years pass by, a song comes on and somehow the words just roll so easy off your tongue? The memory, man.) To say he's a remarkable performer would be an understatement. He belongs on the stage. And there isn't even a shred of doubt in that statement. Who wouldn't wanna be him?

Maren Morris had me feeling like I was at Bonnaroo all over again (sigh). She also reminds me so much of Miranda Lambert, and apparently I'm not the only who thinks so because she sang We Were Us with Keith, and crushed it. 

And when it comes to Brett Eldredge, I could go on and on, and on and on, all day long. Just thinking about his voice right now gives me chills. Would it be a stretch to call him a modern day, country Frank Sinatra? He also knows just how to make a woman feel special. Throwing flowers out into the crowd, Brett? You really do want us to be drunk on your love, don't ya?

Most valuable play of the night -- Keith's and Brett's duet of Somebody Like You. During the end guitar solo the entire arena was jumping up and down like they were on the stage. That was quite a liberating moment for me and I can still feel the thrill of it now.

Wow. What a night.

And now for my obligatory see what I did there moment... It certainly wasn't wasted time, but it was definitely time well spent.

If you're into reliving moments like I am (and jogging that unbelievable memory), here's a playlist that will take you back to that night -- or just help you pretend like you were there.

The rain is coming down tonight
I'm smiling looking at this photograph
I hear that song and I'm flying right back
To when we had it made


Saturday, November 5, 2016

I Know Who's In My Heart Shaped Locket

Brothers Osborne.

I have never experienced anything quite like last night. Fresh from the CMAs, this was the Vocal Duo of the Year's first show after winning, and I don't think being welcomed to New York City by a sold out Irving Plaza is a terrible way to celebrate. From the smell of burning incense to the array of stringed instruments, this was nothing like what I expected. It was better.

There was Rum. There was an emotional Love The Lonely Out Of You. A kick ass performance of It Ain't My Fault, which was prefaced by TJ saying "I don't care if you know the words or not. You better get loud." (aaand we did). And then of course, 21 Summer and Stay a Little Longer (which is all that I wanted to do). Somewhere between the phenomenal perfomances of their own songs, the bluegrass piece, and the sick covers of Whiskey River, Atlantic City, and Pick Up Man, I found that it really is possible to love your favorite songs even more. Who'da thunk it?

Everything was so perfect, it's difficult to say what was my favorite part. Was it the many, many outrageous guitar solos by John? Was it during Stay a Little Longer when I TJ killed it on the cow bell? Or was it when a "USA" chant turned into a "CMA" chant? Maybe it was when TJ forgot the words to Heart Shaped Locket and had to start over (LOL). No, no, no. I know what it was. My favorite moment of all was when the entire venue sang along to Take Me Home, Country Road. I have never, ever heard a louder, more energetic crowd. This was undoubdtedly a venue full of passionate fans, of which I am now one.

It wouldn't be right to leave out the hip-shakin', heart-breakin' LANco, which were a perfect start to the evening. Thanks for letting me have my moment with Trouble Maker. I can't wait to hear what y'all put out next!

I'm pretty sure I didn't quit stompin' my boots the entire night, I definitely never stopped smiling (except for when I basically cried during Love The Lonely Out Of You), and I want to go back and relive it a thousand more times. Because there is something truly, truly special about this band. No wonder they won a CMA award. 

As I was leaving the show, I heard my exact thoughts echoed by person after person after person. "That was so f$!*ing good." And it was. Here's to wishing we all could've stayed a little longer...

Blame the bar for the band 
Blame the band for the song
Blame the song for the party that went all night long
But it ain’t my fault


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Oh, What a Feeling

As I rode the subway this morning listening to my Song For Another Time playlist, I had an 'aha' moment. 

love music. 

Simple. Nothing profound. But nevertheless, true.

The playlist is a compilation of all of the references in Old Dominion's Song For Another Time by Old Dominion and spans across a number of different genres (hello 80s and 90s). The commute and routine was just like any other day, except that it wasn't. I was somewhere between Marina Del Ray and Dancing on the Ceiling, and it hit me. Music. This stuff is great. And I can't believe I get to wake up every day in a world where it's all around me. 

Whether it's exploring new stuff or reliving the favorites (or keeping that new Jake Owen tune on repeat), the possibilities with music are endless. Like, that moment when a song you love (and otherwise totally forgot existed) comes on, it feels like it's new all over again. Or those days when you have a mini concert in your apartment (all too familiar to me).  But there is still so much I've yet to hear. People could stop creating new music today (but please don't) and I still would be able to discover something new every day... for the rest of my life. And I think that's pretty darn cool.

Maybe it's because I watched the CMA Awards last night. Or perhaps I just woke up on the right side of the bed this morning. Whatever it is.. it's a good day.

Oh, what a feeling.

Let's be brown eyed girl sweet Caroline
Free fallin' small town Saturday night
Before you lose that lovin' feeling
Let's go dancing on the ceiling


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Old Dominion Comes to Playstation Theater, So You Go.

And you love every single second of it. 

I don't need to ramble on about how much I love Old Dominion, or how unbelievable their show was, because you've already had your fair share of that (here, hereherehere, here, aaand here - but who's counting?). What I will share with you though, are some of the important highlights from last night's show in New York.

1) Album number two is in the works, and last night they played two new songs that'll be a part of it -- Be With Me and So You Go. These songs fall nothing short of the witty, catchy tunes you're used to hearing from them (yet never tire of). Crossing my fingers that Can't Get YouStill Writing Songs About You, and Brad Tursi's Almost September will also make the cut. Now we just, wait...

2) A lively version of Pink Houses by John Mellencamp was a nice surprise, and also led to a "USA!" chant immediately following (ya gotta love country music, folks). Though I knew Song For Another Time was full of song references, this prompted me to look a little deeper and was I blown away. In case you also want to be in the know, check out the Spotify playlist I made. 

3) We Got It Right. They got it right. And everything was more than alright. I fell in love with this song from the first moment I heard it, and somehow witnessing it live (for the first time) made me love it even more. Thanks for giving me my moment. 

4) Sold Out. What a year these guys have had! As I was looking back to reference just how many times I'd written about Old Dominion, I stumbled across this line (circa May 2015), "Old Dominion is definitely going SOMEWHERE fast." It was true then, and it's still true now. Hats off to you, fellas!

It wouldn't be right to end this piece without applauding the phenomenal opener, Steve Moakler. Though the crowd may have only known Love Drunk, Suitcase and Riser, I don't expect that to be the case next time around. There's more where that came from... here are a few of my personal Moakler faves -- All The Faint Lights; Damn, Do I Think About You; Steel Town.

Why night's like this go by so quickly, I will never understand. But on the bright side, they're touring so. much. Which means plenty of opportunities to fall even harder for this incredible band (if that's possible).

Yeah, we got the looks
We got the lights
We got the days
We got the nights
Even though it ended
We got it right


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Let Those Summertime Blues Melt Away

With the end of summertime just around the corner (sigh), this is the perfect time for a little pick-me-up. And anyone who tries to tell you that country music doesn't exist in New York City obviously doesn't know what they're talking about. There's so much to look forward to. And the best part? They're all right. here.

September 14: Willie Nelson & Family with Aaron Lewis @ Coney Island Amphitheater
September 23: Cody Jinks, Whitey Morgan @ Gramercy Theatre
September 23: David Nail, Kelsea Ballerini @ Irving Plaza
September 30: Trace Adkins @ The Cutting Room
September 30: Parmalee @ Gramercy Theatre

October 7, 8: Blake Shelton, RaeLynn @ Barclays Center
October 21: Phil Vassar @ City Winery
October 22: Old Dominion, Steve Moakler @ Playstation Theater
October 25: Carrie Underwood, Easton Corbin, The Swon Brothers @ Madison Square Garden

November 4: Brother's Osborne @ Irving Plaza
November 9: Cole Swindell with Jon Langston @ Terminal 5
November 19: Keith Urban, Brett Eldredge, Maren Morris @ Barclays Center

December 1: Kip Moore, Jon Pardi @ Terminal 5
December 2: Kelsea Ballerini @ Irving Plaza
December 3: Kane Brown @ Irving Plaza
December 16: Dan + Shay with Walker Hayes @ Playstation Theater

We know there ain't no cure for the summertime blues, but that's quite a lineup. What shows are you headed to? Share below!

Sometimes I wonder what I'm a-gonna do
Cause there ain't no cure for the summertime blues


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Nights Like This

It probably goes without saying that I have been to more shows than I can count. I have seen some phenomenal artists put on some amazing concerts. I have felt all of the feelings and incurred many (many) days of the post-concert blues, but not one of those shows has ever made me feel the way I do tonight. 

I am inspired. I'm moved. I'm happy. I'm on a high. And I have a fire in me that cannot be put out.

Tonight I got to sit in a bookstore with six of the best songwriters in country music and listen to them play their songs. Walker Hayes, Drake White, Brad Tursi, Matthew Ramsey, Trevor Rosen and Shane McAnally. You might recognize a few of those names if you're into the band, Old Dominion (or maybe you just read my countless blog posts about them), but even if you think you're not familiar with the others, you've most definitely heard their words on the radio.

The writer's round at the Housing Works bookstore tonight allowed each artist to sing four songs, but that just skimmed the surface of all the music they've written. These guys are killing it in Nashville and they gave us some of the stories behind their hits. We heard: Back To Free, Song For Another Time, Follow Your Arrow, Sangria, A Guy Walks Into a Bar, and Lela's Stars (and some really, really, really great new ones), just to name a few. Life, love, memories, dreams, broken hearts, feelings, children, lovers, haters. These guys were not just singing songs they've written, they were singing songs they've lived. And that's what makes all six of them so unbelievably special. 

The chemistry in the room was off-the-charts - you could tell how much they all appreciated each other's music. But man, the back-and-forth banter. I've never laughed and also wanted to cry so much in one night. My face still hurts from how much I was smiling (now I guess I know how Brad feels). Ah guys, it would take a much longer post to truly convey how special this night was - I mean I could go on for days about how incredible Drake White's voice is (just wow). I would take a show like this ANY day over a big concert hall or stadium. This is where memories are made. This is where fans and artists alike all get the chills. This is where writers like Matt Ramsey say "That was my favorite time I've ever played that song." Isn't that what it's all about?

Not many people get to attend as many concerts as I do, and for that I already feel so grateful. I am so lucky. I am so fortunate. But mostly, I am so inspired. Thank God for country music, and for the people who are bold enough to chase their dreams and spend their lives writing it. To whomever takes the time to read this - never, ever, ever stop following your dreams. These guys didn't, and I'm not going to either. Nashville, I'm coming for you.

And if that doesn't inspire you, please read Walker Hayes' story. 

Lots of reason just to give it on up
Leave your soul on the shelf collecting dust
Live in a world of broken promises and empty tanks
Aw, but look at us


**All of the profits from the evening go to Housing Works and its efforts to fight AIDS and homelessness.

Monday, August 15, 2016

I Like The Sound Of That

I've been frequently asked by coworkers to make a country playlist for them. They're not familiar with the genre and want a taste of what it's like. I love introducing people to my music, but I always have such a hard time keeping the playlist at a reasonable length (I can listen to it for 7 hours and 54 minutes, but can they? Probably not.) This is when I had a revelation. I'm already making and updating playlists daily for myself, why not share them? So, I've added a new page to the site - What I'm Listening To - which features a NYCountrified Curated playlist built from the ground up by yours truly. This set of tracks will be constantly evolving, serving as a taste of what's been playing in my headphones all week and will hopefully keep you going when you've exhausted that New Boots.

Disclaimer: this playlist contains mostly new music so if you're looking for the classics, this is not for you (thought I’d be happy to help you out with that). Be sure to click "follow" so you can keep up with all of the freshest tunes!

What are you listening to?
Is it headphones on a downtown train?
Or a window seat on an outbound plane?
Is it LA sunny and Memphis blue?
I wish I knew I wish I knew


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Yeah, It's A New York Summer

Right now I'm sitting on a plane to San Francisco (yay Outside Lands!) - it's cold, a baby is crying, the guy behind me keeps kicking my chair and I've still got about 4 hours left. There's nothing I want more than to be back at Madison Square Park, dancing, singing and vibin' with Jake Owen.

Blankets, beer, and bodies filled the lawn at Madison Square Park last night, making New York feel just a little bit more like home. There were die hard Jake Owen fans (like the father son duo I met that had flown all the way from Florida just to attend). There were country music aficionados. And other people were there just hoping to have a good time. It was a beautiful night, and the palm trees, flamingos and sunglasses that covered the stage made it feel exactly like summertime should. 

Because the concert was free and in a very public setting, many people had just stopped by to see what all of the hype was about, asking "Do you know what band this is?" One man even had the nerve to tell me I don't know what country music is. I politely avoided that argument. Why is everyone always trying to put country music in a box? But I digress, and that's a post for a different day. No worries Jake, if they ain't gonna love you then I sure will.

Other than a wonky sound system (which you could tell JO was struggling with), the concert was pretty great. There was a nice mix of both old and new songs, but my personal favorites were Alone With You, The One That Got Away, Beachin' and Anywhere With You. His recently released American Love album has a beach-funk feel to it, and is beautifully named (because we could all use a little more love). One of the tracks, LAX is about an LA-X that apparently broke his heart (come on, who in their right mind would break up with that guy?) and it's all kinds of feelings. Covers by Drake, BeyoncĂ©, and Joe Cocker made the outsiders not feel so outside, and a U-S-A chant made the country fans feel right where they belonged (is it really a country concert without that inevitable cameo?). 

Jake Owen's even more handsome and kind than I imagined, and I'd highly recommend attending a show of his if you haven't yet. Shout out to the Madison Square Park Conservancy and Sony Music, because even though I think they've got some logistics to work out, this event was pretty cool. And who doesn't love a free concert?

Good times
Good vibes
And a damn good memory


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Jake Owen, & Other Things You Notice When You're Paying Attention

When I woke up today I had one goal in mind -- to be fully present. I listened to a guided meditation specifically dedicated to the topic and even posted an inspirational photo on Instagram. Why? I realized that we (myself included) spend so much time burying our heads in our phones or thinking about tomorrow, or our next meal, or an upcoming vacation - that we sometimes forget to truly live in the moment. Moments like walking to and from the subway - as mundane as they sound - are actually times when some of the most amazing things happen. And today I wanted to open myself up to those experiences. 

Here's what happened...

While taking a walk through Madison Square Park to get some lunch, I decided this was one of those moments where I needed to be fully present. So, I was. I paid attention to the people, the cars, and all of the other sights, sounds and feelings around me. What I noticed was: angry car horns, silly phone conversations, master plans and ideas, a couple breaking up, a kid about to lose his ice cream cone while hopping in a cab, a man singing for money, ambulance sirens, how amazing flowers in the park smell, and... Jake Owen. Yes, you read that right. Okay so maybe it wasn't JO in the flesh, but it was a sign (literally & figuratively) advertising a free performance by Jake Owen for tomorrow night. I quickly envisioned my calendar realizing I was free - I couldn't believe it.  Had it been a normal day, I may have never even noticed that sign. I guess that was some good timing

The lesson? Good things happen when you're willing and able to see them. Maybe it's Jake Owen, or maybe it's just feeling more in tune with the universe and all it's happenings. Let this be a reminder to all of us to be fully present, wherever you are, whatever you're doing.

Oh, and I didn't bring my phone so here's a photo I took the next morning when I went back. ;)

No, I don’t think it’s coincidence
Running into you here like this
Sparks flying, see you smiling
Baby ain’t it crazy? We got… good timing


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Bonnaroo: A Weekend of Discovery

When asked what Bonnaroo is all about, Grace Potter will tell you that it's "discovering." And a quick internet search will tell you that to discover is to find (something or someone) unexpectedly or in the course of a search. While I may not have been in search, I found many somethings and someones this weekend at Bonnaroo. Grace, you are right... Bonnaroo is in fact an entire weekend of discovering, and that word took on a whole new meaning for me.

At my first Bonnaroo, I met new friends, tried new things, fell in love, let loose, got hardly any sleep, danced in the middle of a field at a tiny art car, saw a completely naked man walking alone, used a porta-potty more times than ever before in my life, sweat a lot, found myself a Bonnaboo, ate 3am pizza, learned how to properly recycle and compost, bonded with coworkers, waited out a lightning storm in a trailer, ate amish donuts, let my hair down, got a tan, chilled out hard to Kalliope (EDM say whaaaat), lost track of time, lost my credit card, lost my mind, met Maren Morris, forgot to take pictures, talked to the lead singer of a band and had no idea, got lost, found myself, got really dirty, lost my voice, laughed, cried, sang, danced, drank more Summer Shandy's than I should admit, walked over 40 miles (in flip flops), and felt a lot of feelings (which right now is the Bonnablues).

Musical Paradise

It's pretty amazing that with just a short walk you can hop around from stage to stage and hear some of the best music that exists today. Bonnaroo not only allows you to jam out with your favorites, it also gives you the chance to see artists and bands live that you may not have paid to see before. And when you love them, it's freaking amazing. That's exactly what happened with X Ambassadors. I'd only known one song, Renegades, but wanted to check them out and I'm SO glad I did. I was blown away by their energy and I'm so in love with their music (I haven't been able to stop playing Gorgeous since I left).

Chris Stapleton was even more unbelievable than I could have imagined, so that I almost cried during Fire Away because it was just so. damn. good. Maren Morris is tiny but boy is she mighty. This girl has a unique and powerful voice and I'll admit it's hard not to get a little caught up in your feelings while listening to her sing her heart out (while also being drenched in sweat). 

Then there was Sam Hunt aka my headliner. I danced, I jumped up and down, I lost my breath, I sweat my butt off, and I'm pretty sure I've never been more captivated than I was in that moment. I've seen Sam Hunt a few times but this was the absolute happiest I've ever seen him and his band. They all seemed so psyched to be there, their smiles could light up an entire town. The vibes were so contagious I have chills right now thinking about it. But by far, one of the best feelings in the world is introducing your friends to your favorite artist or music and having them not just like it, but love it. "I get it. I get why you love him so much" they said. FINALLY.  That's the good stuff.

I can think of no better way to conclude my musical experience at Bonnaroo than to get back in touch with my childhood. I was reminded of exactly why I used to love them so much and I wasn't alone - the entire place was filled with energy and excitement. Third Eye Blind, you killed it. Jumper, Never Let You Go, Semi-Charmed Life. Yes please.

X Ambassadors, Chris Stapleton, Maren Morris, Sam Hunt, Third Eye Blind, Aubrie Sellers, Chvrches, Halsey, St. Lucia, Ellie Goulding, Miguel, J.Cole, and Haim - ahhh. All of the music. And even though I missed some really great ones (cough, Anderson East, Jason Isbell, Nathaniel Rateliff), at least it will give me an excuse to go back! If you also love my rad lineup, check out my Bonnaroo playlist but beware: there is A LOT of Sam Hunt.

Feeling Feelings

"Radiate Positivity" is one of the main messages at Bonnaroo. Step one foot on The Farm and you will feel just that. You can see it on the faces of every single person you walk by, every vendor, every artist, every fan. Everyone truly does radiate positivity and the kindness factor is off the charts. Bonnaroo is the happiest place in the world.

Something about being in Tennessee and at Bonnaroo also made me feel very zen. From the food, to the people, to the feelings. And even though I've been back in New York for a few days now, I'm not ready to lose that just yet. It was life changing. 

My four days on The Farm led to a discovery of new music, new love for old music, new friends, new joys, new appreciations, but most importantly, a discovery of myself. I discovered what it feels like to truly be free and happy. And I finally understand what all the hype is about. Bonnaroo, I love you and I will never forget this (even if most of my clothes and shoes are Bonna-ruined).

Videos & photos on Insta: @itsmesummerr & @nycountrified.

We are young, we are free
Like renegades, like James Dean
Beat the drum, sing off-key
You set me free, you set me free


Monday, April 11, 2016

Why You Shouldn't Hesitate to Listen to Steve Moakler

Do yourself a favor and buy a ticket to this show right now.

Who's Steve Moakler, you ask? I certainly don't know much, but what I do know is that you've probably heard his hit Suitcase, and you probably love it (because how could you NOT?). 

Lately I've been in the mood for some fresh music - a new artist, or at least something outside of my monthly playlist that gets entirely too much love (no offense, Kenny). I did some clicking around on Spotify today via the "Related Artists" feature and stumbled across Steve Moakler. Remembering how much I adore Suitcase, I figured I'd give him a shot. Easily the highlight of my day. 

One thing led to another, and here I am, purchasing a ticket to his show at Mercury Lounge later this month. His music is exactly what I'd hoped to find - refreshing, beautiful, and honest. Hesitate had my heart from the moment I heard the piano... and the words... and let's be honest, everything else (it's love). I'm not even halfway through everything he's got on Spotify and I can already tell you he's going to be my new favorite. If you don't believe me, those 172,112 other listeners should count for something, right?

Happy listening.

I've always been the kind to contemplate
But you like the kind that don't hesitate


Thursday, April 7, 2016

One Hell of a Year with NYCountrified

Howdy, friends! It's been well over a year now since I started this blog and it's been SO much fun. Can you believe this was my very first post back in January 2015?! I've learned a ton about writing and blogging, and have met some pretty remarkable people along the way. Thanks so much to everyone who's been following my country music journey here in New York City (or wherever else you are!). Much love <3

I wanted to share a recap playlist of all the fantastic artists and bands I was lucky enough to see in 2015 (yes, there actually were 29 country concerts, 1 festival, and 5 Old Dominion shows). These songs have been hand selected by yours truly, and are ones that take it on back (for me) to the night of each show.

For your listening pleasure:

It was one hell of a year, and I can't wait to see what the next one has in store. In the meantime, check out the archives for some of my favorite 2015 shows.

My circle of friends
This circle of life
Here's to all the good time Friday nights


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

New York City's Very Own Guitar Pull

What comes to mind when you think of music? Is it dancing? Is it a night out on the town? Maybe it's seeing your favorite artist perform live or singing karaoke with your friends. Or, perhaps, it brings back a memory, eliciting an emotion or feeling. There are many many many types of music, accompanying all sorts activities and invoking various kinds of feelings. But what happens when you strip away all of the accompanied noises? You have words.

When I think about music, I think about lyrics. I'm a lyric person. I listen to understand, to feel something, to connect. And there's nothing more special to me than to fully understand why a song was written and hear it performed in its purest form. That's exactly what you get when you attend a guitar pull. It's the most country-sounding term, and rightfully so - it's roots are in country music. But for all you other singer-songwriter aficionados, it just might be your new favorite thing. 

By definition, "the 'guitar pull' is a tradition unique to country music, and it probably originated in a living room or out on a back porch. Typically, several would-be singer- songwriters would gather at a friend's house and take turns singing songs they wrote or playing old favorites."

Well, ladies and gentlemen, last night I attended my very first guitar pull, and in New York City of all places. I had the pleasure of hanging with Brian Falduto, Molly Adele Brown, Adam Melchor and Leanne Weiss for an evening and was pleasantly surprised. The setting at Brother Jimmys was very relaxed, yet very comforting. It felt like I was amongst a bunch of friends, though I'd never met any of them. Leanne accurately described it when she said "I feel like I'm in the middle of Nashville." They took turns performing songs they either wrote or loved, and shared insight to the songs meaning or background. Here's what you missed:

Molly Adele Brown's emotional song about her dad passing away made me think about how therapeutic music really is. It has the power to heal - whether you're the one writing it, performing it, or on the receiving end in the crowd. And her cover of Ring of Fire was pretty great. Adam Melchor's rendition of Laundry Room by the Avett Brothers had me convinced he wrote the song. He sang it with such conviction and emotion, I believed every word he was saying. And if his voice wasn't impressive enough (yes, some unexpected high notes!), the guy can kill it on the guitar, and has a personality that makes you want to be his best friend. Blown away. It was Brian Fadulto's first time performing his songs to the public and I was glad to be there to witness it. The songs he shared were all very relatable (because we all go through breakups) and I admire his courage to do so. I was not expecting that deep voice of his, and I'm still trying to figure out who he sounds like. He also organized the entire event which speaks volumes about his passion. Leanne Weiss performed her new title track, Momentum (amongst many other kick-ass songs) and I loved it. It's a motivational song describing someone fearlessly in pursuit of their dreams, lighting the fire in your soul. I also remember thinking the entire time that she sounded so much like Sara Evans, and that's not a bad thing in my book.

There were songs about breakups, lost loved ones, life stories, pain, sadness, happiness, good times, bad times, and about being strong and fearless. For a solid hour, I was captivated. And I'd be here all night if told you about each and every song, because I loved them all. But I learned something very important from the artists that I must share. Chase your dreams. Watching each of them up on stage performing their songs, doing something they love really resonated with me. It made me think of E.E. Cumming's quote, "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are," and I've never believed that more than I do now. So, if nothing else, today have some courage. Try something you've always wanted to do. These four people did, and I'd say they look pretty darn happy.

I could write all night long about each of the talented artists. But instead, I'll let you check them out for yourselves. If you missed it, don't worry. I have a feeling this won't be the last of its kind. Right, Brian?

My next thirty years I’m gonna settle all the scores
Cry a little less, laugh a little more
Find a world of happiness without the hate and fear
Figure out just what I’m doing here
In my next thirty years