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