Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Write You A Song Podcast - An Interview With Songwriter Bob Dipiero

We share another new podcast from host Tom Mailey from Bonneville radio station New Country 105.1 KNCI in Sacramento. Tom is a country radio veteran with over 30 years of experience in Seattle and Sacramento and a key partner in our Golf & Guitars Children's Charity Music Festival, a little event in our twelfth year that has raised well north of a million bucks for kids and individuals with disabilities. It highlights the songwriters in our industry and is entitled Write You a Song. It's his hope that this podcast will shine a little overdue spotlight on the talented men and women who, mostly behind the scenes, write the songs that become part of our lives. You know their words and music, but maybe not their names: Write You a Song will feature some of country music’s biggest songwriters--like Jeffrey Steele, Brett Warren, Ashley McBryde, Tim Nichols and more.

Bob DiPiero is a genuine Nashville songwriting legend, with over 1000 songs recorded, not to mention dozens of top tens and number ones. In this episode of Write You a Song, the Songwriting Hall of Famer shares his journey from Midwest rock n roller to the guy to the guy who wrote some of the most biggest, most iconic country songs of the past 40 years.  Plus, he shares why it's a fine line between stupid and a half million dollars.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Celluloid Country: Watch The Premiere Of New Documentary - "The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash"

YouTube Originals has made available a brand new documentary titled The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash. Johnny Cash stands among the giants of 20th century American life. But his story remains tangled in mystery and myth. This documentary, created with the full cooperation of the Cash estate and rich in recently discovered archival materials, brings Cash the man out from behind the legend. Taking the remarkable Folsom Prison recording as a central motif and featuring interviews with family and celebrated collaborators, the film explores the artistic victories, the personal tragedies, the struggles with addiction, and the spiritual pursuits that colored Johnny Cash's life.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

53rd Annual CMA Awards Celebrates The Women In Country Music - Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris, Ashley McBryde Among Big Winners

The 53rd Annual CMA Awards proved to be an historic night for women in Country Music. Anchored by host Carrie Underwood and special guest hosts Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton, the evening began with a once in a lifetime collaboration led by Underwood, featuring McEntire and Parton as well Terri Clark, Sara Evans, Crystal Gayle, The Highwomen’s Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Morris and Amanda Shires, Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman along with Martina McBride, Jennifer Nettles, Tanya Tucker and Gretchen Wilson. The sold-out crowd roared their appreciation as the women performed a decades-spanning medley of iconic songs that have become part of the very fabric of Country Music.

Luke Combs and Kacey Musgraves were the nights big winners, each receiving two wins. Last year’s CMA New Artist of the Year winner Combs took home the CMA Male Vocalist of the Year as well as CMA Song of the Year for “Beautiful Crazy,” alongside songwriters Wyatt B. Durrette III and Robert Williford. Musgraves won two trophies—CMA Female Vocalist of the Year as well as CMA Music Video of the Year for “Rainbow,” alongside director Hannah Lux Davis.

Garth Brooks took home the coveted CMA Entertainer of the Year, extending his reign as the most-awarded CMA Entertainer of the Year with seven career wins. CMA New Artist of the Year was awarded to Ashley McBryde, winning for her first ever CMA Awards nomination.

Maren Morris took home her first CMA Album of the Year win for GIRL, alongside producers Greg Kurstin and longtime collaborator busbee, who passed away in September. In her speech, she shared that she’d be remiss “if I didn’t mention a huge facet of why this album sounds the way it does and we miss him so dearly. He texted me the morning we got the nomination for Album of the Year this year and we were so excited and that’s our friend busbee.”

CMA Single of the Year was awarded to Blake Shelton’s “God’s Country,” alongside producer Scott Hendricks and mix engineer Justin Niebank.

Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus won CMA Musical Event of the Year for their record-breaking hit “Old Town Road (Remix),” along with producers YoungKio, Michael Trent Reznor and Atticus Matthew Ross, all first-time CMA Awards nominees alongside Lil Nas X.

Old Dominion extended their reign as CMA Vocal Group of the Year, while Dan + Shay were awarded their first ever CMA Awards win for CMA Vocal Duo of the Year.

Fiddle player Jenee Fleenor made CMA Awards history, marking the first time a woman received a nomination as well as a win in the CMA Musician of the Year category.

In a year that saw unprecedented exposure to Country Music through Ken Burns’ PBS documentary, “Country Music,” the release of groundbreaking new music and the relentless efforts of Country artists touring the world, this year’s CMA Awards celebrated both the genre’s legends and fresh new faces. Willie Nelson teamed with fellow Texan Musgraves to perform “The Rainbow Connection,” a song Musgraves performed as a child. She even shared a video of an early performance days before the ceremony.

Among the evening’s many highlights was a special tribute to the legendary Kris Kristofferson, the recipient of the 2019 CMA Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award. Dierks Bentley, Sheryl Crow, Chris Janson, Brothers Osborne’s John Osborne and Joe Walsh teamed for a stellar performance of Kristofferson’s classic “Me and Bobby McGee.” Bentley and crew brought the classic lyrics to life yet again through their distinctive vocals and Janson wailed on harmonica.

The CMA Awards have long been known for unique pairings of pop, rock or rap artists with Country Music stalwarts, always resulting in visually explosive moments on stage. This year was no exception. Halsey and Lady Antebellum demonstrated that great songs know no boundaries as they delivered a mashup of Halsey’s “Graveyard” with Lady Antebellum’s “What If I Never Get Over You,” with Hillary Scott and Halsey trading lines at the end in a potent crescendo. P!NK and Chris Stapleton teamed for an electrifying performance of “Love Me Anyway,” which held the audience spellbound as their burlap and silk vocals intertwined resulting in one of the evening’s most affecting performances.

The CMA Awards’ three leading ladies thrilled the crowd with some of the evening’s most memorable moments. Parton joined forces with award-winning Christian music duo for KING & COUNTRY to render an evocative performance of their hit “God Only Knows” and then sang “There Was Jesus” with Christian hitmaker Zach Williams. Her segment ended on a blockbuster note as Nashville’s Christ Church Choir joined the Country legend for a rousing rendition of “Faith.” McEntire belted out fan favorite “Fancy” with all the explosive sass and style long associated with her iconic hit. Underwood took a break from hosting duties to wow the crowd with a sultry performance of her latest single “Drinking Alone,” from her hit album Cry Pretty.

Girl power was evident throughout the night with the ladies of Country Music delivering some of the most talked about performances of the evening. Seated in the midst of the sold-out audience, Kelsea Ballerini delivered a poignant performance of her rising hit “homecoming queen?” and then segued into Little Big Town’s CMA Award-winning hit “Girl Crush” as the mainstage became filled with a who’s who of Country Music’s most exciting young female artists, including Lindsey Ell, Maddie & Tae, McBryde, Carly Pearce and Runaway June. Little Big Town’s Fairchild, Schlapman, Phillip Sweet and Jimi Westbrook took the stage to finish up their groundbreaking hit. After the performance, she introduced every young artist on stage by name and then said, “Ladies and gentlemen, you’re looking at the future of Country Music.”

Although it was a night that celebrated the talented women in Country Music, the genre’s top male vocalists took their turn center stage for some of the evening’s most magical moments. Thomas Rhett delivered a soulful performance of “Remember You Young” from his latest album Center Point Road. As the set glowed with a backdrop of flames, Blake Shelton roared through an incendiary performance of his chart-topping celebration of rural life “God’s Country.” Armed with just a guitar, Keith Urban turned in a riveting performance of “We Were” and in another understated but effective moment, Eric Church shared “Some of It.”

High octane honky tonk fun was also on the evening’s musical agenda. Newly minted Country Music Hall of Famers Brooks & Dunn were joined by Brothers Osborne for a rousing performance of the Brooks & Dunn classic “Hard Workin’ Man.” Combs served up a charismatic rendition of his upbeat hit “Beer Never Broke My Heart.” As the telecast hit the home stretch, Brooks and Shelton had the crowd singing along to their infectious duet “Dive Bar.”

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Ties That Bind – Former Marine & Country Music Star Jason Michael Carroll Pays It Forward Through Golf

Jason Michael Carroll had just gotten out of the U.S. Marine Corps, after serving for four years, when he joined some of his dad’s friends for golf one day.

It was Carroll’s first time playing golf, his very first round, the first time he was ever on a golf course.

“My very first time playing golf, I shot a 96,” Carroll recalled of his day at Brevofield Golf Links, located in Wake Forest, North Carolina.
It was years and years ago, but Carroll can remember what the experience did for him.

“I was thinking, ‘Wow, I think I’m pretty decent at this game,’ ” he said in a telephone interview from his home in Raleigh, N.C. “And then I got cocky. The next time I went out, about three weeks later, I shot 120.”
Carroll, a country music star with a number of big hits, has continued in golf – a game that he plays as often as he can.

“There’s some really beautiful spots out this way,” Carroll, a singer-songwriter, said.

“A lot of my friends are members at some prestigious golf courses in the area,” he added, referring to Hasentree, a course in Wake Forest that was designed by Tom Fazio; 12 Oaks, a course in Holly Springs, N.C., designed by Jack Nicklaus; and The Country Club at Wakefield Plantation’s course, located in Raleigh, N.C., and designed by Hale Irwin.

“It’s pretty cool to be able to have connections in those places, where I can go … and see the masterful work by the groundskeepers and the course superintendents.”

Carroll’s connection to golf involves his family as well.

Two of his children play golf, following in their father’s footsteps.

Carroll travels to the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex in Sacramento each year to participate in its Golf & Guitars Children’s Charity Pro-Am & Music Festival. He is also there to play golf and spend time with military veterans through the PGA HOPE and Wounded Warriors golf programs that Haggin Oaks offers.

KNCI 105.1 and the Morton Golf Foundation sponsored the 12th annual Golf and Guitars Music Festival, held in May. It’s a two-day music festival that also serves as a fundraiser for the Morton Golf Foundation, according to

“The Morton Golf Foundation funds programs offering a healthy outdoor recreational environment that stresses the building of lasting personal relationships while seamlessly instilling life’s core values for the youth, disabled, and under-served communities of Sacramento. We need your support to continue our mission of helping those in need in the Sacramento area,” according to

PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) is the flagship military program of PGA REACH, the charitable foundation of the PGA of America, according to PGA HOPE introduces golf to veterans with disabilities to enhance their physical, mental, social and emotional well-being, according to

There is no cost for veterans to participate, as all programs are funded by PGA REACH and supplemented by PGA Section Foundations.

The program, taught by PGA professionals trained in adaptive golf and military cultural competency, introduces the game of golf through a developmental 6-8 week curriculum, reported.
PGA HOPE is the flagship military program of the Northern California PGA Foundation, based in Vacaville.

“Since 2015, 750 veterans in Northern California were impacted by PGA HOPE. By the end of 2019, more than 1,000 veterans will have participated in PGA HOPE Programming,” according to
Carroll does all he can to provide help and support for veterans. He has also performed with USO tours overseas.

“We like to wave our flags as a community. But I think a lot of people don’t really know how to get involved and how to help,” he said. “An organization like PGA HOPE … shows their appreciation. But it also gives these veterans a pastime, so they are not sitting there, thinking about what they don’t have, or things that they can’t do. I think that’s a beautiful thing.”

It was Ken Morton, Jr., VP Retail & Marketing for Morton Golf, LLC and the Event Manager-Golf & Guitars Children’s Charity Pro-Am & Music Festival, who reached out to Carroll, inviting him to Sacramento, to perform and to play with a group of wounded veterans.

“I was like, ‘Absolutely,’ ” said Carroll. “I can’t thank (Morton) enough for this. It’s because of the efforts through groups like PGA HOPE … some of these veterans are out there, learning the game of golf, learning how to handle it and to adapt with their disabilities. And I’m like, ‘Wow, good for you.’

“Being able to be a part of Golf & Guitars has been amazing for me. My appreciation for the event has gone through the roof. I think Ken’s noticed how interactive I’ve been. I think Ken sees that I genuinely do care about the fans that come out there and support this event.”

For the last six years, Carroll has donated his day and foursome to play with four members of Haggin Oaks’ PGA HOPE or Wounded Warriors golf programs, said Morton.

Carroll’s day spent each year with the veterans goes much deeper than golf. He gets to know each player, and by the end of the round, each one has his contact information.

“Everybody that I’ve ever played golf with at Golf & Guitars, the veterans that I’ve played with, each one of them has my (phone) number by the time we are done with the round,” said Carroll, 41.

“It’s something that you’ve got to commit to. For the most part, most of them text me. We stay in touch.”

Carroll said he is also involved in a charity event in Ohio for wounded veterans. Organizers take veterans out on guided pheasant hunts. Sky diving is also offered.

“Some of them are still fighting. You know, the war doesn’t stop because they’re not at war right now. The internal war is pretty intense,” he said. “Some of these people are really dealing with some serious things.” Links to Freedom, a charity organization based in Lorton, VA, assists with veterans as well.

“Links to Freedom is dedicated to restoring a sense of normalcy to our Wounded Warriors, disabled veterans, their families and caregivers through rehabilitative and adaptive golf programs at military and civilian golf courses nationwide,” according to

Carroll is not the only one who plays golf in his family. He has a son and a daughter who also play.

“I tell my kids all the time: the game of golf … you’re out here playing with your friends. But literally, you’re playing against you. You’re in your own head space,” he said.

“I have a lot of friends that play, and they all want to go out. But there’s moments when you want to get away. There’s so much going on in your head and everything else, that you’ve just got to clear it. I go out to the golf course and hit balls.”

* Marty James is a freelance writer who makes his home in Napa. He retired on June 4, after spending 40 years as a sports writer, sports editor and executive sports editor for the Napa Valley Register, a daily newspaper in Napa County. He is a 1979 graduate of Sacramento State and a member of the California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association, Associated Press Sports Editors, and California Prep Sports Media Association. He was inducted into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame in 2016 and the Vintage High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2019.

Kenny Rogers To Release New Live Album From Final Tour On Dec. 13

Artist: Kenny Rogers
Album: The Gambler's Last Deal
Release date: December 13, 2019

Kenny Rogers is releasing a combination DVD and CD from his last tour called The Gambler's Last Deal.

Filmed at the legendary London Palladium in 2017 at the end of his final world tour and combined with live footage from numerous other venues on the tour, the concert spans an impressive six-decade career that established Kenny as a top recording artist with 150 million records sold worldwide.

Rogers weaves in humorous anecdotes of his career between songs. The concert is also interspersed with interviews with his two sons, fellow artists and writers who helped shape his musical career, including Lionel Richie, manager Ken Kragen, producers David Foster and Larry Butler and president of Capitol Records Jim Mazza.

Complemented by his longtime touring band, Kenny covers his hits "Ruby", "We've Got Tonight", "Coward of the County", "Islands in the Stream", "The Gambler" and many others. Special guest Linda Davis joins Kenny on a number of songs.

This DVD/CD set is packaged in a deluxe digipak and includes a booklet of vintage photos of Kenny and a forward by writer/producer Kelly Junkermann. A selection of songs from the concert are featured on the CD.

Track listing:
Lady Luck
Walking My Baby
Something's Burning
Just Dropped In
But You Know I Love You*
Tell It All Brother
Medley: Through the Years/You Decorated My Life/She Believes In Me
Every Time Two Fools Collide**
I Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Isn't Me Tonight*
Lesson in Leavin* [DVD only]
Coward of the County/Six Pack
We've Got Tonight*
Sweet Music Man*** [DVD only]
Daytime Friends*
The Gambler
Islands in the Stream
You Cant Make Old Friends
Blaze of Glory*

*Joined by Linda Davis
**Features Dottie West
***Sung by Dolly Parton & Alison Krauss

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Pam Tillis Signs New Record Deal, Teases Upcoming Album

Artist: Pam Tillis
Album: TBD
Label: ONErpm
Release date: TBD

GRAMMY and CMA Award-winning country music hitmaker Pam Tillis has signed with ONErpm, a full global distribution and branding company, to release new music.

"This week is a very exciting time for me," says Tillis. "I was so happy to be asked to be a presenter at the CMA Awards and to have inked my partnership with ONErpm. I can finally release the album I've had in the works. Every album is its own little journey, and this one may be a little more winding than usual. I've had some of these songs in my back pocket for a long, long time."

"We're thrilled to be part of this project," notes ONErpm General Manager Ken Madson. "The heart, authenticity and artistry Pam brought to this album make it something very special."

Throughout her career, country star and Grand Ole Opry member Pam Tillis has earned nearly 20 Top 10 and six No. 1 singles. Tillis, the daughter of the late Mel Tillis, has won three CMA (Country Music Association) Awards — including the coveted Female Vocalist of the Year in 1994 — and two GRAMMY® Awards. She has experimented with pop, Broadway, soul, and jazz, seamlessly incorporating those influences into music that remains unmistakably country at its core. Through the '80s, Tillis worked as a back-up vocalist, jingle singer, club performer, songwriter and demo singer before her first hit single, "Don't Tell Me What to Do" reached the Top 5 in 1990. She followed with hits including "Maybe It Was Memphis," "Shake the Sugar Tree," "Mi Vida Loca," and "Cleopatra, Queen of Denial." Two albums (Homeward Looking Angel and Sweetheart's Dance) were million-sellers.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

New Music Video From Jordan Rager - "Dirt In My Veins"

A down-home country boy in every sense of the term, Jordan Rager was born and raised in the small rural community of Loganville, Georgia, which lies just 30 miles west of Atlanta (also the home base for Tyler Hubbard & Jon Langston.) He's the son of a preacher, and his early days of singing in church instilled in him a great sense of worship and unwavering passion for performing. After signing with Riser House in 2018, Rager got to work releasing music and establishing his sound in the country music landscape.

“The words in this song are my story. I spend most of my life away from home and I rarely ever get to see my hometown anymore,” claims Rager. “But I carry a piece of it with me everywhere I go so I never feel too far away. I feel like the music video really captures that.”

Up & Coming New Nashville - Meet Dark Water, Kristian Bush's New Trio

Band: Dark Water
Bandmates: Kristian Bush, Brandon Bush & Benji Shanks
Label: Architect Music Collective

Sugarland's Kristian Bush and his new bandmates have just revealed a few details about the new band he's started. It's called Dark Water, and it includes him, his brother Brandon Bush and their friend Benji Shanks:

"These songs don't feel like they have an expiration date, and neither does the production," says Dark Water's Benji Shanks. "In 10 or 20 years from now, they will still possess their sense of urgency."

"They feel like they existed before and now we have to be good servants to the songs," says the band's Kristian Bush. "If you were to make a comic book out of the Dark Water story, it's like we found them somewhere in a chest and were magically able to play them. And now they're here."

"You know enough to recognize when something becomes a band," says Brandon Bush, who rounds out the group. "I know when something is better than its individual parts and has a life of its own. That's when you just get out of the way and let it happen."

Once Brandon, Benji and Kristian surrendered themselves to the idea of Dark Water, they began writing material at a wicked clip, signaling the musicians' most prolific and inspired periods of creativity. For the wordsmith Kristian, that meant a return to writing poetry ("I was obsessed with the rhythm of the words," he says), which would mature into songs once he and his bandmates began experimenting on the studio floor with any instrument within their reach.

"The band is all us, playing everything," says Benji, an Allman Brothers enthusiast and veteran of the Southern jam scene who has shared the stage with the likes of Warren Haynes and Blackberry Smoke. His fluid guitar work ties the Dark Water material together and lends the group its earthy vibe.

"Every great band I've ever known had a guitar player that made me go, 'What?'" says Kristian of Benji's evocative playing. "The guitar is the soul of the band. The lyric can't ever get as close to the feeling as that instrument can."

But it's the way that Benji's guitar, pedal steel and bass gel with Brandon's drumming and keys, and Kristian's vocals and guitar that makes the music so immersive. Listen to the rustic "Scarecrow," the brooding "Goliath," the ebullient "Flowers on the Fire," or the hopeful "One of a Kind," all of them songs that envelop and cast a spell over the listener. To listen to Dark Water music is to have a transcendent experience.

In fact, the name of the band was inspired by an NPR report about magnetically charged water beneath the South Pole. The theory is that the "deep water," as scientists call it, absorbs energy and contains it forever.

"I think we'd all love to dip our whole bodies in that and let it wipe our troubles and mistakes away," says Kristian.

The hymn-like song titled "Dark Water" centers on that idea of restoring oneself. According to the band, it has a higher purpose. "That song exists to do something," says Kristian. "When we play it live, you can just feel it in the room."

Along with the magical material, it's the shared history of the members that solidifies Dark Water. Brandon, Benji and Kristian have been soundtracking the lives of listeners for nearly 20 years as members of various bands, from Brandon's tenure in the rock outfit Train and Benji's turns in the jam world, to Kristian's own Grammy-winning duo Sugarland and his solo project.

"That's what makes these songs all work," says Benji. "We combined our individual musical experiences into the collective Dark Water and it became what it is now. And then the songs just came to us."

"It's a high level of a musical relationship that is not easy to acquire," says Kristian of the group's chemistry. "But somehow we acquired it and now we do it. Dark Water is the embodiment of that."

But for all the talk about the songs being gifts from the universe, the reality is that this is a rare band of expert players and writers — the only type of musicians who could ever create such nuanced melodies and phrasings. To achieve that result, the members followed Brandon's discipline that "walls make better art. If you have a boundary," he says, "you work within it, or you push against it." The outcome, almost always, is art that is vibrant and effecting — and in this case, music that also comforts.

"I was interested in how music that I listened to affects us all and what it teaches us," says Kristian. "Why do we go back to listening to certain songs to comfort us?"

"This music is an emotional reset for everyone," Brandon says. "It's an opportunity to reconnect with what inspires and soothes us. And everybody needs that in their creative life."

Their first release is the effervescent positive message song "Paint it Blue."