Season 4 Artists

Season 4 Artists

Dierks Bentley

Dierks Bentley

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Seven albums into one of country music’s most-respected and most-unpredictable careers, award-winning singer/songwriter Dierks Bentley continues to grow. His latest evolution comes in the form of RISER, a project released in early 2014 that stands as his most personal to date.

Written and recorded in the year following his father’s death, the album draws its title from “I’m A Riser,” a song about resilience and determination. “I’m A Riser” works as a commentary on spiritual, personal and societal recommitment, but it also applies to the competitive battlefield of the music industry. It’s particularly appropriate for an album about rejuvenation delivered by Bentley.

“Life in general has a way of knocking you down,” Bentley says. “It’s different reasons for different folks – could be personal reasons, could be family reasons, your job, drugs, alcohol. That song really applies to anybody that’s lived. There have always been those moments when we have to get back up and get on our feet. They are defining moments…breakthrough moments.”

Accepting change – and growing from it – is a key theme in RISER, and it’s reflected by the tone of the album, which demonstrates a new artistic depth and an extralevel of intensity for Bentley. It evolves from track to track, exuding a range of emotions, all the while impressing upon the listener that Bentley’s instinct for a hit is stronger than ever. Bentley made significant reconfigurations in his creative team to shake up his sonic texture without sacrificing his commercial drive. He re-enlisted executive producer Arturo Buenahora Jr., who worked on Bentley’s first two albums; and utilized producer Ross Copperman, who co-wrote “Tip It On Back” for Bentley’s current album Home.

The new atmosphere yielded the most focused and intense vocals of Bentley’s career. Some were recorded live with the band as the musicians laid down the tracks, but others were captured in less-than-obvious locales. One track’s vocal was recorded on Bentley’s tour bus. Still others were cut at Copperman’s house with the producer literally at Bentley’s side, pushing him to some of his most emotional, and seasoned, performances.

“It’s not even really a studio,” Bentley says of Copperman’s set-up. “It’s just kind of a corner of the house he’s taken over, so there was a kind of intimacy to the vocal process. It was important to get out of the studio and sing in different places, and to do it with other people in the room. That way, you have an audience and you get a sense of what’s working, what’s not working, when it’s feeling good, not feeling good. It brings a little more emotion and energy out of your voice.” Since making a life-altering drive with his father from Phoenix to Nashville when he was 19 years old, Bentley has forged his own path in an industry built predominantly on formula. He has mixed elements of modern country, classic country, bluegrass and rock, maintaining an unmistakable identity while constantly reinventing his sound. His album Home debuted at No. 1 and spawned three consecutive chart-topping hits, marking 10 career No. 1 songs for Bentley as a singer and songwriter. His five previous studio albums have sold more than five million copies, garnered 11 GRAMMY nominations and earned him an invitation to join the Grand Ole Opry.

Keith Urban

Keith Urban

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In September 2013 Urban released his seventh studio album FUSE. His fourth #1 album marked the first time that a male Country artist has debuted atop the all-genre charts in the United States, Canada and Australia. The album’s first single, “Little Bit of Everything” took the top spot on the Country Singles Chart, as did “We Were Us”, featuring Miranda Lambert, which gave Urban a streak of five consecutive #1 songs (dating back to 2011’s “Without You”).

In 2001, the Country Music Association honored Urban with its Horizon Award, designating him a talented artist with a bright future. He was the first Horizon Award winner in history to go on to win the CMA’s Male Vocalist of the Year, a title he’s captured three times, and the coveted Entertainer of the Year. Since then Urban’s career has seen a long list of groundbreaking firsts and accomplishments reserved for the music industry’s elite.

He was the first Country artist to be named an American Idol judge, a role he willreprise for the show in its 14th season, and is a four-time GRAMMY® Award winner who has also won a People’s Choice, American Music Award and been nominated for a Golden Globe. He’s won eleven Academy of Country Music Awards and has had 16 #1 songs and five consecutive platinum or multi-platinum albums. In 2012 he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

His reputation as a premier songwriter, vocalist, musician and virtuoso guitarist has afforded Urban the opportunity to collaborate with the likes of The Rolling Stones, John Mayer, Steven Tyler, John Fogerty, Alicia Keys, Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift, Vince Gill, Eric Church and countless others.  He was asked to perform on both nights of Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival and earlier this year on CBS’ “The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute To The Beatles.”

Urban has long supported numerous charities.  Amongst other things, he is an advisory board member at the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and a longtime supporter of The Grammy Foundation.  In 2013, he introduced his new URBAN™ Guitar Collection via HSN, proceeds of which went to benefit both the Grammy Foundation and Mr. Holland’s Opus Fund. The offering resulted in the largest guitar debut ever for the entertainment/lifestyle retailer, selling out in a matter of hours.  In 2014 his second offering, for his URBAN™ Guitar Collection via HSN, broke that record. His annual “All For The Hall” benefit concert for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum© has raised nearly $2.5 million.

Joe Satriani

Joe Satriani

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The reason somebody gets to be a guitar hero would appear to be fairly obvious: He can do things on the instrument that most mere mortals simply can’t. Joe Satriani passed that test handily over 23 years ago when he released the multi-platinum Surfing with the Alien. Jaws were dropped, fists were raised and millions of music fans the world over picked up guitars both real and imaginary to celebrate and emulate a shred god who would continue to thrill and amaze, dazzle and delight.

But this business of guitar hero-dom is a funny thing, and for Satriani, who has received about every guitar award there is to hand out (he’s also a multiple Grammy Award nominee), it’s a strange, beautiful and uniquely challenging one, as well. Making six strings scream and wail while flurries of notes dance into the heavens is all very well and good; making music that matters, and more importantly, sharing deeply personal emotions, that’s his true raison d’etre. On his 14th studio album, Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards, Joe Satriani exposes his soul in ways even he never believed were possible.

For Satriani, the image of black swans came to him late into his writing for the new album. Armed with a collection of songs–some half-finished, others fully fleshed out– that he had penned mostly during his highly successful year touring with his good-time rock “supergroup” Chickenfoot (which also includes singer Sammy Hagar, ex-Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith), he sat back and took stock of what he had amassed.

What he noticed was that the bulk of the material was unlike anything he had ever written before. “And that’s the thing about the term ’black swan,’ says Satriani. “The expression is one that’s very old; it basically means ’unlikely things’– images, occurrences, extreme rarities in life. That image stuck with me. I realized that what I had written were my artistic black swans–songs that my audience probably might not expect. And truthfully, a lot of them took me by surprise, as well.”

Satriani’s first inkling of the “black swan theory” permeating his work came to him after one of the most pivotal moments of his life, when his beloved mother, Katherine, passed away late in 2009. He composed the song “Littleworth Lane” in her honor–the title is taken from the street in Sea Cliff, New York, where she lived since the late ‘70s, in a house built in 1689. While the track features a shimmering, instantly memorable melody, it’s pure, unadulterated blues, “which a lot of people might not expect from me,” Satriani admits. “My mom was bobbysoxer, and she got into church music, R&B, jazz and blues.  When I was a young musician, she exposed me to a lot of that. So I wanted to pay tribute to her by writing the kind of song that she would really like, one that summed up her spirit.”

Completing the second half of the album’s title is the aptly named “Wormhole Wizards,“ a massively grooving funk rocker based on the improbable concept–although probably not to the sci-fi obsessed Satriani–that one can travel from one parallel universe to another through wormholes. “What a cool thing to be able to do,“ Satriani enthuses. “For rock bands, it would be great–getting from gig to gig would be a cinch!”

The ease of which Satriani (or “Satch”–at this point, it’s like calling Springsteen “The Boss”) has jumped from genre to genre, and now from solo artist to band member in Chickenfoot and back again (although the group is already working on their second album, due sometime in 2011), you’d swear he had his own private wormhole–along with multiple personalities. Over the course of his storied career, he’s resisted repetition the way the greatest of actors shun caricature. “I had to go deeper on this album,“ he explains. “It’s like I had no choice in the matter. I also wanted to touch people more intimately than I have before. Music they could carry around with them in their heads and hearts–that was the goal.

“I still like the idea of creating cool rock music, and I made sure that there were a lot of what I call ‘big rock moments’ on the album, but I definitely felt that it was time to affect people directly and profoundly. I wanted to give them something they never got from me before. These songs are my black swans, if you will.”

A month-long stint as a featured performer on the sold-out Experience Hendrix Tour (“a wonderful, uh, ‘experience,’” he says, laughing. “Every night was a rediscovery of some of the most incredible music ever made”) meant that Satriani had a three-month window to finish writing, demoing and then, finally, to record Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards. “It was tight,” he says, “but I found that I actually thrived under the pressure. It forced me to focus on what 11 songs should make the album. Too much time on your hands can cause whatever statement you’re trying to make drift away.”

Once Satriani set about demoing–and many of his initial takes wound up as keepers–at Studio 21, his home facility, he found that the emotional reach of the material he had written called for richer guitar tones–“very ‘un-Joe Satriani’ sounds,“ he calls them. This can be heard most dramatically on the album’s opening cuts, “Premonition,” a surging, ominous yet majestic epic in which the imposing weight of the guitar frequencies could move air, and the intoxicating, positively transporting “Dream Song,” which, true to its title, Satriani composed in his head while sleeping. “I woke up and I had the whole thing,” he says. “I had to run into my studio quickly before I forgot it. All you need is that one little thing to change from the original idea and the whole vibe is lost.”

Some changes in the recording process were welcomed, however: When Satch and co-producer Mike Fraser (whose credits include AC/DC, Metallica, Aerosmith, as well as several Satriani albums, such as Crystal Planet, Is There Love in Space? and Super Colossal) convened in late spring at George Lucas’ Skywalker Sound Studios in Marin, California, along with longtime band drummer and percussionist Jeff Campitelli, they added a couple of new faces to the mix. Bassist Allen Whitman from the San Francisco-based band the Mermen was brought on board (“he has such a unique style,” raves Satriani. “He’s a very creative rock and groove-oriented player”), as was keyboardist Mike Keneally, who has played with everyone from Steve Vai to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. “Every time you hear a simple keyboard swell or something that sounds very synth-y, that’s me,” says Satriani. “And any time you hear the piano and keyboards being played really well, that’s Mike!”

The new lineup of players challenged Satch, but in ways he relished. To “Light Years Away,” a tough, gritty stomper, they pushed the guitarist to bring his “big rock moments” to the forefront; and on the funky yet sweeping “Pyrrhic Victoria” (the phrase means “winning at a great cost”), what sounds like a rousing finale is but a precursor to another, more overwhelming coda. “On a song like that, because of its very theme, you have to go through some sort of physical sacrifice,” says Satriani. “The guys in the band helped me to not let up.”

Returning to the album’s cathartic, intimate theme, the jazzy, almost George Benson-ish Two Sides to Every Story” is another song in which Satriani pays homage to his mother. “My mom turned me on to Eddie Harris, a brilliant saxophone player,“ Satriani explains. He had a lot of songs that cross genres, and he was really great with odd times. When I wrote the piece, I knew it was Eddie Harris, and again I knew I was tipping my hat to my mom, for the musical education she instilled in me.” The guitarist recalls both of his parents in the stirring solo electric guitar interlude “Solitude,” which at first concerns the need to “be alone with one’s soul, but ultimately I realized I was channeling my folks, thinking of where they would go mentally in their need for reflection.”

Satriani kicks up some musical dirt on the gonzo but equally soul-barring “Wind in the Trees.” Remembering how he loved to sit by his bedroom window as a kid in Long Island and listen to the sound of leaves being whipped around, Satriani ran his guitar through the pitch correction software Auto-Tune (frequently used by singers and rappers, but seldom utilized by instrumentalists) to re-create a surreal yet wistful memory. “I just cranked it to full-on Auto-Tune destruction mode,” he laughs, “and it really did sound like gusts of wind blowing tree branches every which way. Crazy stuff.”

On the album-closing “God is Crying,” Satch pulls out all the stops, unleashing torrents of shred-tastic guitar on a track that ranks as one of his most panoramic of efforts. “I don’t want to say that I was intentionally holding back on the blazing guitar throughout the record,” he says, “but every song is about choices. How many notes? What notes? When writing this song, I started thinking about the concept of God and what He would do if he actually came down to Earth–I mean, physically. And I thought, He’d probably start crying at all the things we’ve done. To properly convey that message, I couldn’t hold back on my instrument. I let loose with everything I had.”

Like its creator, Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards is an album that asks as many questions as it answers. But unlike most records where you know exactly where each song is going to go, it takes off in a multitude of dizzying, disorienting directions, probing the human condition and proving once again that Joe Satriani is one of the world’s most gifted and inventive instrumentalists and composers working today. Like the black swan, he’s a shape-shifter. Artists of his caliber don’t come along every day, and neither do records like this.

John Hiatt

John Hiatt

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TERMS OF MY SURRENDER (NEW WEST RECORDS)

Forty years into his recording career, John Hiatt has chosen to title his 22nd studio album, Terms of My Surrender. Surrender? Is that as in Cheap Trick? Or Appomattox? Hiatt laughs, tentatively, at the choice.

“It’s my Appomattox,” he says, wryly. “Really I don’t know where it came from, that idea of trying to arrange the terms of my surrender. I don’t get to do that. It’s a labor in vain in that respect, if you think you can negotiate that with anyone, or anything. In reference to the title song, it’s in terms of love. You’ve got to give it up. The song says, ‘I can’t negotiate the terms.’”

That’s an essence, perhaps the essence, of the 11 songs here, the 11 stories they tell and, together perhaps, one story. Always a keen observer of life’s flings and foibles alike, usually mixed well together, Hiatt’s insights and skills at sharing them have only sharpened over the year.

With his longtime guitarist Doug Lancio taking the producer reins, Hiatt set out to bring the songs’ character (and characters) into intimate focus. There’s a close-up, patina-festooned bluesy quality tying the tales together. But it’s blues in the knotty backwoods sense, as if sprung from the Delta loam. It’s completely a band effort, his current group, which he calls simply the Combo, a tight-yet-loose unit from years together on the road — Lancio on guitars, banjo and mandolin, Nathan Gehri on bass, Kenneth Blevins on drums, with keyboards from John Coleman on some of the tracks. But it all flows from the leader.

“I had this group of songs and wanted to feature my guitar and voice — oddly enough,” he says. “However peculiar it might be, I thought, ‘Let’s put it out front and see.’”

Lancio agreed. They settled into his cozy studio, a “funky little place in East Nashville” as Hiatt describes it, for a set of unfussy, highly of-the-moment sessions, many of them essentially done in one basic take. Hiatt had in mind playing some rough-edged electric guitar for the core sound, but the producer thought acoustic would be a better fit for the songs. “I agreed,” Hiatt says. “And we ran it through the amp and it became the sound of the record — my voice and my guitar and that was the thing. You know, my singing, I’ve dropped down to a lower register. I’ve for a long time sung from the middle to the top, and this is kind of down from there. It seemed to work, fit the songs, fit the feel. And it’s easier to sing them, oddly enough.”

He pauses a second. “Plus I’m 61 and I don’t have that top range any more.” Another pause, before the zinger. “I don’t have the top of anything.”

He’s not complaining, mind you. “Doesn’t bother me,” he says of his age. “Shit falls apart and I can’t remember anything, all that stuff. But the plusses outweigh the minuses for sure.”

That right there is a strong thread running through the album. The tales aren’t autobiographical, he stresses. But they are still, in many regards, his. “It’s more stories, storytelling, from different perspectives,” he says. But he allows, “I guess from a point of view. I guess it’s mine, if you want to put it that way, at a given time. It changes.”

He cites the song “Face of God,” in which the narrator asks how long he must suffer before seeing said face. It’s of course straight out of Christian theology, spiked with a line drawing on a Kenneth Patchen poem: “They say God is the Devil until you look him in the eye.”

“At the end he’s saying to his woman, ‘I’ve done enough, show me what you’ve got,’” Hiatt says. “That’s not the way I feel about things. This guy’s genuinely in some kind of struggle to lift himself out of whatever he’s struggling with. He’s got issues — issues with people who have big cars and show their wealth, while he’s coming in through the kitchen door. That’s definitely not me. I come in the kitchen door.”

Ditto for the guy on the prowl in “Baby’s Gonna Kick” — with the kicker line being that she’s “gonna kick me out” and the killer couplet of “listening to John Lee Hooker/Got my mind on a slow meat cooker.”

“Don’t know where that came from,” he says. “Kinda sexual. Kind of a frisky song — playful. I love the groove on that. That and a couple of other songs showcase Kenneth. What a great, fat bag he has, the way he leans back. Pretty bad-ass. Such a special feel. Been playing with him since 1987 and he just gets better and better.”

Hiatt too. The run of albums starting with 2000’s Crossing Muddy Waters through this new one is arguably the most consistently, fully realized expression of his considerable gifts as a writer and performer. Not to diminish his early accomplishments, of course. There are threads through his entire catalog tying the youthful energy of the early-‘80s statements Slug Line and Two Bit Monsters to the moving renewals of Bring the Family (with Ry Cooder, Nick Lowe and Jim Keltner collaborating) and Slow Turning later that decade to, well, all the work since.

Along the way his songs have attracted many other singers, through whom some have gained a wider world of fans via other artists’ versions — Rosanne Cash’s “Pink Bedroom” and most famously Bonnie Raitt’s hit version of “Thing Called Love.” And in recent years he’s done series of shows with Lyle Lovett, “our little Smothers Brothers comedy show,” that’s brought out other spins on his art, though elements already familiar to those who’ve been there all along. Alternately bemused and profound, he’s a self-aware chronicler of both his own and others’ stumbles and epiphanies, the tales richer with each step forward.

And it’s all steps forward, even if on Terms of My Surrender there are some looks back in the process.

“This record kind of hooked back up with the John the Troubadour Folk Singer Blues Guy,” he says. “I hadn’t really been doing that for a while. That feels good. Feels like a kid. And anything you can do to feel like a kid when you’re my age, you want to do it. It’s a good thing.”

Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson

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Named by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the Top 20 Guitarists of All Time, Richard Thompson is also one of the world’s most critically acclaimed and prolific songwriters. He has received Lifetime Achievement Awards for Songwriting on both sides of the Atlantic – from the Americana Music Association in Nashville to Britain’s  BBC Awards and the prestigious Ivor Novello. In 2011, Thompson was the recipient of the OBE (Order of the British Empire) personally bestowed upon him by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. Most recently, the Americana Music Honors & Awards nominated him for “Artist of the Year”.

Having co-founded the groundbreaking group Fairport Convention as a teenager in the 60’s, Richard Thompson and his mates virtually invented British Folk Rock.  By the age of 21 he left the band to pursue his own career, followed by a decade long musical partnership with his then-wife Linda, to over 30 years as a highly successful solo artist.

A wide range of musicians have recorded Thompson’s music including Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, REM, Del McCoury, Bonnie Raitt, Los Lobos, David Byrne, Don Henley and many others.

Thompson’s massive body of work includes over 40 albums, many Grammy nominations, as well as numerous soundtracks, including Werner Hertzog’s Grizzy Man. His most recent CD, Electric, was produced by the great Nashville musician Buddy Miller (Band of Joy, Patty Griffin.). Electric continues to receive positive praise with Rolling Stone declaring, “…the excellence is undeniable.”

This year saw Richard Thompson headlining dates around the world as well as co-headlining shows with Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell. Thompson and his band joined the Americanarama Tour sharing the stage with Bob Dylan, Wilco, and My Morning Jacket culminating with Dylan himself covering RT’s classic song “’1952 Vincent Black Lightening”.

Thompson’s genre defying mastery of both acoustic and electric guitar along with dizzying energy and onstage wit continue to earn Richard Thompson massive new fans and a place as one of the most distinctive virtuosos in folk rock history.

“Genius appears early. Legends are earned. But history’s greatest never stand on their laurels. This is the artistic arc for Richard Thompson!”

Counting Crows

Counting Crows

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“There are a million great songs written every day, many on records you discover that you wish your friends could appreciate as much as you do.” That simple truth, courtesy of Adam Duritz, is as good a place as any to begin discussing Counting Crows’ Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation). After five renowned full-lengths, multiple live albums and soundtrack appearances—not to mention Grammy and Oscar nominations—the modern rock mainstays are not only issuing their first independent release, but coloring it with infectious interpretations of some of their favorite tunes.

Recorded in Burbank last April and June, Underwater Sunshine is a collection of 15 gorgeously rendered songs, in which the Bay Area seven-piece honors global icons (Bob Dylan, Gram Parsons), indie-pop heroes (Teenage Fanclub, Travis), compelling up-and-comers (Dawes, the Romany Rye, Kasey Anderson) and even their own seminal pre-Crows projects (Sordid Humor, Tender Mercies). But no matter the artist, the Crows selected each song due to its merit, not its ubiquity. “You may or may not know these songs,” Duritz concedes. “It wasn’t an intentional theme, but it did sort of fall out that a lot of the songs on this record aren’t well-known. The songs on Underwater Sunshine come from old bands and young, they stretch from the early ’60s to earlier this year, and they were recorded for major labels, for indies and, in some cases, for just a few friends to hear. Either way, they’re all great songs, and hopefully they’ll be heard by a few more people now.”

Underwater Sunshine is the sort of treat that established bands too rarely bestow upon their fans. But Counting Crows have always been cut from a different cloth. Having exploded onto the scene with multiplatinum breakout August and Everything After in 1993, the band—Duritz (vocals), Jim Bogios (drums), David Bryson (guitar), Charlie Gillingham (keyboards), David Immergluck (guitar), Millard Powers (bass), and Dan Vickrey (guitar), —has thrived for nearly 20 years as the rare radio and touring powerhouse that blows you away with songs, not superficial excess. Their enduring critical and commercial popularity is easily explained: They write from the heart, challenge themselves, and still give a damn about new music. Dashboard Confessional, Panic at the Disco and The Hold Steady are among the many to count the Crows as influential, and the band are still the kind of guys who roam from club to club at SXSW, CMJ or whatever city they’re touring, simply out of curiosity and love. Music geeks? Sure. We prefer lifers.

Underwater Sunshine is a testament to that open-mindedness. It feels homemadebecause it is, the band teaming with old friends Shawn Dealey and Brian Deck to capture what Duritz calls “the feeling of all us squeezed into a room playing songs together… almost all recorded live so everybody’s tracks are all over everybody else’s tracks.” From making the electric four-chord bump of Romany Rye’s “Untitled (Love Song)” their own to not-so-delicately expanding upon Kasey Anderson’s fragile “Like Teenage Gravity,” from fulfilling a new obsession with Dawes and a longstanding one with Big Star, Underwater Sunshine exhibits the depth of Counting Crows’ tastes in an entirely new light. Dive in with a smile.

Paul Rodgers

Paul Rodgers

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PAUL RODGERS’ passion is writing and performing music. He continues to tour internationally on an exclusive basis, playing just 20-30 shows each year. For a man who prefers to keep a low profile, he has certainly left his indelible mark on music…
– Platinum selling singer, songwriter & self-taught multi-instrumentalist
– Written, recorded, produced and released 31 albums since 1968
– Sold over 90 million records
– Formed and led 3 bands to worldwide success: Free, Bad Company and The Firm
– Grammy-nominated solo career
– Has recorded/performed with Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Brian May, David Gilmour, Buddy Guy, Joe Walsh, Slash, Nils Lofgren, Charlie Watts, Bryan Adams, Motown’s Sam Moore, The Four Tops and others

2014

– New album The Royal Sessions released January 28 in Europe, Japan, Australia & Canada and February 4 in the United States
– Closed Wall Street February 11 with the ringing of the bell and performance, at the New York Stock Exchange
– Announces North American Spring Tour
– The Royal Sessions’ single “I Thank You” reached #1 on Classic Rock Radio for three weeks and #1 on the Blues Radio Charts with “I Can’t Stand The Rain” at #7 on Adult Contemporary Charts
– All proceeds from The Royal Sessions will be given to The Stax Music Academy to enrich the lives of young people through music
– Rodgers recently told Rolling Stone magazine, “I’m revisiting the songs that influenced me so strongly when I was about 14.”

2013

– Records his first new album in 13 years, The Royal Sessions, at Royal Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. The album covers Memphis soul and Stax Recordings by Otis Redding, Albert King, Issac Hayes and others
– New single “With Our Love” charts at #4 on U.S. rock radio followed by Bruce Springsteen and Nickleback. Co-written with guitarist Perry Margouleff, all proceeds were given to Seraphim 12 Horse Sanctuary
– “With Our Love” in the Top 100 requested radio songs of the year at #37
– His only UK performance with all proceeds from the concert given to Willows Animal Sanctuary in Scotland and Mount Noddy Animal Centre. Deborah Bonham also performed on the bill
– Appears on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, kicking off Bad Company’s “40th Anniversary Tour”

2012

– Performs on Joe Bonamassa’s DVD Live at the Beacon Theatre.
– Chimes of Freedom CD released, celebrating 50 years of Amnesty International, featuring Bob Dylan songs recorded by Paul Rodgers, Adele, Sting, Jeff Beck, Maroon 5 and others
– Paul Rodgers appears and performs at Canada’s Music Week
– Rolling Stone magazine’s #1 band, The Sheep Dogs, surprise fans with a guest appearance by Rodgers performing two of his songs “I’m a Mover” and “Fire and Water”
– Voted “Classic Rock Artist of the Month” on Classic Artists Today
– Becomes a Patron of Willows Animal Sanctuary in Aberdeen Scotland along with his wife Cynthia Kereluk

2011

– Sold out UK solo tour with Def Leppard’s Joe Elliot as Paul’s special guest
– Toured Canada co-headlining with Canada’s legendary Bachman Turner
– Became a Canadian citizen making Rodgers a dual citizen of the UK and Canada
– Receives prestigious “Ivor Novello Award” for his outstanding contribution to British music presented to Paul by Island records’ Chris Blackwell. Other honorees include John Lennon, Elton John and Sting

2010

– “Million-Air” Award presented by BMI for “All Right Now” surpassing 4 million airplays on U.S. radio
– The Very Best of Free & Bad Company Featuring Paul Rodgers charted on Billboard’s Top 10 and was certified gold
– Bad Company and special guest Joe Perry Project tour the UK after a 30 year absence, culminating with the filming of a DVD at Wembley released in spring 2011
– First Bad Company tour of Japan in 35 years
– “All Right Now” #1 greatest rock single in the UK Top 40
– Bad Company’s Hard Rock Live CD/DVD reaches #4 on UK charts
– Performed with Joe Perry, Jason Bonham, Michael Anthony (Van Halen, Chickenfoot), Peter Frampton and others at KLOS radio’s “The Mark and Brian Christmas Show” in Los Angeles with proceeds benefiting the Eisner Pediatric Foundation

 

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Lady Antebellum

Lady Antebellum

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Art is a moving target. Those who do it most successfully find shades of emotion within themselves that change the texture of their work and how they feel about themselves. As a result, a real artist is ever-changing.

So it is for Lady Antebellum, whose album Golden was figuratively – and literally – borne on the move. The harmony-based trio – Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood – and its sizeable fan base bonded heavily during the band’s Own The Night World Tour, its first arena run as a headlining act, in 2012. The shows themselves were inspirational. But so was the time offstage. Lady A made a point of experimenting and creating with its road band as the one-nighters and the miles of travel piled up. That behind-the-scenes interaction inspired much of the music on Golden, an instantly infectious project in which Lady A discovered new edges for its already-successful foundation.

“Every band I love that’s been here for a long time has reinvented itself in some way,” Kelley says. “There’s a balance to it. I get a little annoyed when people reinvent themselves too much because there’s a reason people fell in love with you in the first place, but I think it’s important not to regurgitate the same stuff over and over again.”

“Downtown,” Golden’s funky lead single, announced the new direction when Capitol released it in January 2013. The band gave it an energetic, playful performance with a noticeably cleaner production than the previous album, Own the Night. The recording uses fewer instruments – each of them framed distinctly in the sound – and Scott delivers the lead vocal with a full-on attitude that’s never been completely realized in previous recordings.

“Most of the songs on this album are literally just five instruments,” Haywood observes. “Five guys playing in the studio. So it’s a little more minimal than the previous stuff.”

“Downtown” became the highest-debuting single in the band’s career and instantly created a sense of anticipation for Golden by putting a new, surprising sheen on Lady A that even the band’s associates could not foresee.

“We embraced risk,” Scott notes. “When you are pushing yourself to not go back to the same well, you’re gonna come up with something different, or you’ll find songs that are different. And that’s what happened on this album.”

Risk is never the easy path, particularly for an act already at the top of its game. And Lady Antebellum certainly could have easily relaxed a little and emulated the previous album or two. After all, things were working.

Since its 2006 inception, the group had risen quickly to become Country Music’s most influential current group. Lady A won the Vocal Group of the Year honor from both the Country Music Association and from the Academy of Country Music three times in a row. Eight of the band’s singles went gold, with four – “American Honey,” “Need You Now,” “Just A Kiss” and “I Run To You” – surpassing the platinum mark. “Need You Now” went on to sell over seven million downloads, according to the RIAA. Additionally, “Need You Now” claimed five of the trio’s seven career Grammy wins in 2011, including the all-genre Record and Song of the Year.

All of that was achieved through a fragile balance of several key pieces, each of which helps define Lady Antebellum’s sound: ingratiating melodies, the interplay between Kelley’s soulful male resonance and Scott’s scintillating female texture, the threesome’s bittersweet harmonic blend, and production elements that invariably emphasize the stylistic inclusiveness of modern country.

That sound catapulted Lady A to an enviable level of popularity. The band picked up an audience beyond the typical Country core listener, it hit the road playing arenas and stadiums, and the group performed on all the major television shows, including Saturday Night Live, Oprah, the Grammys, The Voice, and most every other daytime and late night program on network television.

That kind of attention often destroys bands. The pride that goes with success begins to undermine the act, and the members compete for recognition. Ultimately, that delicate balance devolves into a tug of war and the act simply falls apart.

That’s an unlikely scenario for Lady A. Kelley, Scott and Haywood each play a key role, not only in the band’s harmonic development, but even in the day-to-day details of the group’s mission. Each of them are keenly aware that the other members need the right amount of attention – and the right amount of space – to make the entire band work.

“We’ve seen enough Behind The Musics to know how these things turn out,” Scott suggests. “As much as we all are confident about what we bring to the table, the second that you become a little too confident is when that balance shifts, and that’s when you can implode. We know that it’s not worth that.”

In some ways, Golden reaffirms the very beginnings of Lady Antebellum. The project focuses on deft songwriting and fresh uses of their talents, which was at the heart of what drew them together in the first place. Augusta-born Kelley met Nashvillian Scott at a Music City hot spot. Their creative partnership started with a songwriting appointment with Haywood, though they quickly realized their three voices combined in a way they’d never quite heard before.

“Golden,” the last song they wrote for the project, has a sense of innocence and rediscovery not far removed from those initial creative efforts.

“It really took us back to when we first met each other, when I first met the boys and we were sitting around the piano at the house they used to live in,” Scott says. “We didn’t know each other at all, but there was still some magic – that blend of our voices and that blend of our songwriting craft together. It’s exciting to say that at record four, we can still find that.”

The magic remains because they have kept the focus on the music. They started as songwriters, and they’ve continued to prove themselves in that field. In addition to writing most of their own hits, Haywood and Kelley co-authored buddy Luke Bryan’s breakthrough hit, “Do I”; and Scott was a cowriter of Sara Evans’ #1 single “A Little Bit Stronger,” featured in the movie Country Strong.

The passion for writing spilled over into the Own The Night Tour, and thus into Golden. The band set up a jam room at every venue, giving them some time to get into the right mental framework for the evening’s show. But it also provided more cohesiveness with their backing musicians and kept their inventiveness alive. “All For Love,” a dramatic title on Golden, was written by the entire band in the jam room in sessions at several different shows. The anthemic “Generation Away,” the nostalgic “Long Teenage Goodbye” and the steely “Goodbye Town” similarly emerged from writing sessions on the road.

“We were just kind of in that mindset,” Haywood says. “We had that perspective of being on a tour and having seen what translates in an arena. We have a better idea what kind of songs are so relatable where it shakes everybody like, ‘Oh, my God, I’ve totally been there.’”

While the band was committed to its songwriting, Nashville’s music community busted down the doors with its A-list material. Six of the 11 songs on Golden came from outside writers, including the R&B-tinged “Downtown,” the Byrds-like “Better Off Now (That You’re Gone)” and the fragile “It Ain’t Pretty.”

The outside material was key in helping Lady A find new dimensions to its sound and new depths to its performances.

“We could never sit in a room together and write a song like ‘Downtown’ or ‘It Ain’t Pretty,’” Scott concedes. “Those songs that we didn’t write pull out of us different things that we couldn’t find within ourselves in a writing room.”

In the end, the mix of their road experiences and the challenging outside songs added a brightness and a freshness to the album that’s reflected in the Golden title.

“We keep calling it our roll-down-the-windows record, and that was one of the reasons why the term Golden was kind of cool,” Kelley says. “You know, you have these little road trips and you’re driving down the road and you get these little streaks of sunshine popping through the trees, especially at sunset as you’re driving. This golden thing. The album just gives you that warm, easy feeling.”

The road trip is key. The album emerged from the band’s concert tour – an over-sized road trip, if there ever was one – and it embraces the moving target that is creativity. Lady Antebellum’s familiar, established blend remains firmly intact, but there’s a sense of renewal about it, too. Golden is a reinvented version of Lady A that’s familiar but simultaneously unlike any of its predecessors. It’s an achievement that comes from the band’s journey, and from its willingness to risk.

“Golden depicts a kind of a special time for us in our career,” Haywood says. “I personally feel so humbled that we can still be making records that people are excited to hear. We’re in a really valuable, golden time.”

 

Richie Sambora

Richie Sambora

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Celebrated American rock icon Richie Sambora has become known throughout his remarkable 30-year career for his raw vocals, indelible songwriting and world-class guitar playing. As both an acclaimed solo artist and a founding member of multi-platinum, Grammy-winning band Bon Jovi, Richie has sold over 130 million albums worldwide and has co-written over 20 Top 40 hits and 11 Top 10 hits, including “Livin’ On A Prayer,” “You Give Love A Bad Name” and “Wanted Dead or Alive.” He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009.

In addition to his work with Bon Jovi, he has released three acclaimed solo albums that have highlighted a more personal and intimate side to Richie’s songwriting: 1991’s Stranger in This Town,, and 1998’s Undiscovered Soul and 2012’s Aftermath of the Lowdown, which spawned the powerful single “Every Road Leads Home To You.”

Richie is continuously lending his vocals and support to important causes and organizations that resonate deeply with him, whether it be the Hurricane Sandy relief effort affecting his home state of New Jersey or issues regarding the environment, homelessness, illness, hunger and music education.

The Fray

The Fray

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Isaac Slade
Joe King
Dave Welsh
Ben Wysocki

It’s been a whirlwind couple of years for The Fray, the Denver-based quartet whose earnest and melodic songs have been striking a huge chord with audiences. Formed in 2002 by Isaac Slade (vocals, piano) and Joe King (guitar, vocals), The Fray owe all of their early success to their organic, grassroots beginnings. In other words, they did it the old fashioned way: they earned it. It’s a story you don’t hear much anymore these days: local area gigs led to enthusiastic local press and local radio support.

Joe and Isaac were former schoolmates who bumped into each other unexpectedly, and – one thing led to another – they started writing songs together. The songs were catchy enough to attract two of Slade’s former bandmates – drummer Ben Wysocki and guitarist Dave Welsh – who soon joined, completing the band’s lineup.

The Fray garnered an early following through impressive area gigs and the support of local radio, which led to a listener-driven campaign to get the band a record contract. With strong word-of-mouth, the band won “Best New Band” honors from Denver’s Westword magazine and got substantial airplay on two of Denver’s top rock stations – the demo version of “Over My Head (Cable Car)” became KTCL’s top 30 most played song of 2004 in just 4 months. And the listener campaign worked: the band signed to Epic Records in 2004. Fittingly, instead of closing the deal in an office or hotel room, they signed on the dotted line onstage at the Fox Theatre in Boulder, Colorado.

The group’s organic rise to fame is key to their long range plans: “I think it’s vital to the longevity of a band,” Joe King says. “Of course Denver is where it all started, but word spread across the country via the internet even before radio stations were playing us. I remember on our first headlining tour, we would play cities where we weren’t on the radio at all, and the venue would be full of people singing our lyrics.” He adds, “Some people think we came out of nowhere quickly, but we had been working hard for four years before the mainstream public had heard about us.”

Dave Welsh adds, “The grassroots is where music lives and breathes, where it finds its energy and its passion. Music can still exist when it becomes mainstream, but only if it has firm roots with the fans at home. I think you become a musician at home, and simply refine that skill on the road as a touring, major label band.”

The first single from How To Save A Life, “Over My Head (Cable Car)” climbed into the top 10 on the Billboard singles chart, has been certified platinum, and was streamed more than a million times on MySpace in just one month. Indeed, MySpace has been good the to the band: they’ve been streamed over 16 million times, they have had more than 5 million views and close to 300,000 friends on the networking site. The Fray doesn’t fit easily into any niche, and they don’t need to: word of mouth (or, word of digital mouth) has been good enough. The songs stand on their own, no clever marketing or catering to genres necessary.

“Over My Head (Cable Car)” was inspired by Isaac Slade’s temporary estrangement from his brother: “It is about a fight I got in with my brother, Caleb. After he graduated high school, we drifted apart and really hadn’t spoken in a long time. One day we both realized that we needed to fight it out. We’d been friends for twenty years. That’s a long time when you’re only 23 years old. We fought it out, and he’s one of my best friends today.”

The title track, “How To Save A Life,” was inspired by Slade’s experience as a mentor to a crack addicted teen. “I was a sheltered suburban kid when I met this guy. He was a recovering addict, coming out of a really tough teenage life. Thankfully, he was on his way out of that life, so he was able to really look back with some objectivity. The song is more of a memoir about his slow motion descent and all the relationships he lost along the way.” Destined to be one of the band’s greatest hits, Slade isn’t worried about getting tired of performing the song: “It is the easiest one for me to sing every night. I constantly get emails from people who relate to it.”

The song has resonated with fans in some truly moving ways, which is humbling to the author: “Some people actually formed a non-profit organization called Save A Life. They lost their son to a tragic car accident and apparently ‘How To Save A Life’ was the last song he downloaded. Another girl lost her mother to suicide. She wrote me and said it helped her deal with her mom’s death.”

The band recently saw footage of two high school kids performing the song at a talent show, which was somewhat mindblowing for Joe King, and provided him with something of a “full circle” moment. “Something so simple as two high school students playing our song at a talent show doesn’t seem like it would be a huge moment, but it was. I’m proud of it because I relate to it so closely. That was me eight years ago, learning my favorite songs, from my favorite artists, and playing the songs that moved me. It just hit me that someone was now doing the exact same thing as I was but with my music.” It was a “full circle” moment for his bandmates as well: Slade and Wysocki first performed together at talent show years ago.

It turns out that The Fray’s music has resonated with lots of people: they are one of the most licensed bands of 2006, with their music being featured on Scrubs, Grey’s Anatomy, What About Brian, NCIS, One Tree Hill and Bones as well as in HBO’s summer promos. Joe King: “I would say my favorite so far would be the recent HBO spot and the Grey’s Anatomy spot, both using ‘How To Save A Life.’ I remember last year seeing the Aqualung HBO spot and was shocked and almost jealous by how good it was. I called our managers and asked if we could get a spot like that, and I remember him saying, ‘That’s a tough one.’ When I watched our HBO spot I didn’t move, I don’t even remember breathing because I had the chills.”

As a result of all of this, How To Save A Life is quickly approaching platinum status, and the band has gone from playing small club gigs and opening slots to headlining larger venues, including a “hometown” gig at legendary Denver venue Red Rocks, which was famously host to U2 (two tracks of their classic live EP Under A Blood Red Sky was recorded there; Incubus and Dave Matthews Band are among the other artists to release live recording from the fabled venue). Ben Wysocki comments, “When you’re the opener, you have 30 minutes, maybe 45, to prove yourself… and in a way, it is hard to settle in. When you’re headlining, you can take a little more ownership of the crowd, they’re yours for an hour and a half or so and you gotta treat them right, take care of them, be responsible with them, do the best you can to entertain them. There is pressure either way, but definitely more satisfaction in a headlining show.” With songs this strong, The Fray should get used to headlining.

If you haven’t caught their shows yet, you can get a taste on their recently released iTunes exclusive live “bootleg,” Live At The Electric Factory,” released July 18, 2006 (iTunes has also been good to The Fray: their album has been in the iTunes top 10 for six months straight, a feat not accomplished by many other acts). Of course, the live release is something of a tease: once you hear it, you’ll no doubt want to catch them in person. Wysocki offers their plans for the rest of 2006: “We’re taking August off. Then, we’re going to travel the globe in September, tour the U.S. again later in the fall, play some random radio shows in December.”

And in 2007, The Fray returned overseas early in the year, heading to Australia (where “Over My Head (Cable Car)” has just hit #1 on the national radio charts), New Zealand, Japan and Germany for the first time. They embarked on a huge US summer tour and then hit the studio to work on the follow-up to How To Save A Life, a great first chapter in the band’s career. But, to be sure, it is the first chapter in the story of a band that promises to be around for a long, long time.