Denny Strickland 01 - photo_Brad_Hardisty

Denny Strickland 01 – photo_Brad_Hardisty

“We hit the green light and we were about dead even but when I caught second gear, I start pulling away from him and I look in my rear view mirror and I see him. He starts coming unglued! He’s slappin’ the steering wheel. He’s getting’ all upset. His wife’s slappin’ him and he’s slappin’ her.”Denny Strickland

When Denny Strickland showed up in Nashville a few years ago he brought the 1968 Camaro Super Sport that he had owned since high school. It’s only natural that his first release “Swerve On” had to do with the open road with a modern take on the trucker life.

Denny will soon be releasing a fresh road tale, “How Far You Wanna Go” that not only features the trucks again, but, will feature his own bright red and chrome fire breather. Denny enjoys the nightlife of Lower Broad, especially behind the wheel of his barely street legal hot rod.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: What made you decide to use your Camaro in the new video?

Denny Strickland 07 - photo_Brad_Hardisty

Denny Strickland 07 – photo_Brad_Hardisty

Denny Strickland: In “Swerve On” we catered to the trucks and we did drag racing with the pick- up truck. My next single is “How Far You Wanna Go” and it does deal with a diesel truck but I’m going to put my Camaro in the video too as a little tease for eye candy. I’ve had it forever. It was my first car. I have been wanting to put it in a music video and I feel that it will definitely add to this one.. The song talks about you and your girlfriend and her taking control of the wheel and her deciding whether she wants to go to Memphis or Mexico.

TNB: Your songs definitely rock a lot.

DS: It’s more simplified. It’s rockin’ and it definitely shows that rock side of me but we’re going to give it the club element, that’s my persona. It starts with my jeans and that’s my country side and my rock elements you know, I wear graphic T’s and I got my bracelets on and I got my rings and that stuff, is my 80’s rock influence and I wear my hat and my boots. You know, that all ties in with the clubbin’ thing.

TNB: Where are you shooting the video?

DS: We’re scoutin’ out locations in Memphis and we’re looking at Mexico and another location. We’re definitely going to push the envelope.   The video is definitely going to be high energy. We just now decided on the cover art and it is dark and edgy. You know, we’re keeping it real modern and rockin’.

Denny Strickland 02 - photo_Brad_Hardisty

Denny Strickland 02 – photo_Brad_Hardisty

TNB: What’s the story line?

DS: Well, this song is going to basically be a cross country road race from Memphis to Mexico. We are partying along the way and I’ve got my girlfriend with me. We’re goin’ out and we’re hittin’ these spots where we’ve got this much time to do it and we’re pushin’ the envelope.

TNB: Does that come from life experience?

DS: I’ve travelled all over and you know I’ve been on many road trips. It’s gonna be a journey and a trip across the bottom half of the United States down into Mexico. Everybody talks about escaping to Mexico and head to the border. It always seems to be a big element in Country Music. Memphis has such a big music scene too. But, “How Far You Wannna Go” is a driver’s song but it’s focused on where we’re headed. I have been workin’ on the treatment for the music video and the picture is just now comin’ together. You have to be able to tell that story and tie it all in and I definitely feel like this next video is going to fill the gap and paint the picture for the audience.

TNB: Tell me a little bit about some of your experiences with your 1968 Camaro SS around Nashville?

DS: I will tell you the truth. I knew just about every tow truck driver by their first name. I haven’t been stranded in a while. I take that back. I was stranded a couple of weeks ago. I ended up getting stuck and had to call a tow truck service. Yes, I’ve been stranded all over Nashville. When I first moved here, I kind of just parked it for a while. You have to be able to work on them cars. I can pretty much take care of everything on it. But, you get in those situations when you do have to call. You have to break down and you have to call somebody. The tow trucks have definitely saved my tail many times. They’re definitely a life saver. I’m actually going this week to get a fire extinguisher. I’m keepin’ that car!

TNB: A fire extinguisher? What brought that on?

Denny Strickland 06 - photo_Brad_Hardisty

Denny Strickland 06 – photo_Brad_Hardisty

DS: My air cleaner caught on fire the other day. The timing was off on the motor and it caused it to back fire and I have one of those Edelbrock low profile air cleaners and it has the foam that you keep in the grill and it caught on fire for about five minutes. It was quite an experience. My friend ran across the street and ended up getting a rag trying to get it put out. But, it wouldn’t go out right then. We sat there and it took us quite some time. You know, that’s part of hot roddin’. You’re livin’ on the edge, you know.

TNB: I’m sure you get some guys that want to race you.

DS: Well, I was down on Broadway one night. This was a couple of years ago now. I had parked in front of the Hard Rock and I had my Uncle with me and I had went in to get a bite to eat. I had come out and I was workin’ on my car. I was settin’ the timin’ and makin’ sure everything was good. My Uncle was holdin’ the wires to my timing light and I had just gottin’ my timin’ light adjusted and got my timing all fixed and right when I did that he had just got the wires all caught in the alternator and broke it right after I got it all tuned. Luckily, I just got it tuned. If it had broke before that then that would have been it and I would have been in trouble. As we were workin’ on it, this couple walks out and they must have been from up north somewhere. They were real “Yankee.” They come out and they were drivin’ a 66 Cobra. It was one of those kit cars. It was fire engine red. Of course, my Camaro is red too. I guess he had been drinkin’ a little bit. The first thing he said was, “What you got there? A little 350?” I said “No sir, it’s a 383 stroker, forged. Dark pro 1 engine!” I had dark pro one heads on it. It was a hydraulic roller motor. I mean it’s popped up. I mean it wasn’t stock. Of course, he had some toys of his own in the Cobra that he was drivin’. He had a big block in it and after his little smart ass remark he jumps in his car and he cranks it up. He had those electric cut outs on his muffler where he could flip a switch and it was like he was runnin’ open headers. He didn’t realize it, but I had electric cut outs too. So, he flips his switch on and he’s got his car loud and what not. Well, I flipped mine on and mine it is just as loud or louder. He’s turnin’ his head and all shakin’ up and getting his game face on and telling his wife to buckle up and he takes off and we follow him. Well, he pulls out into the wrong lane and he is oncoming traffic.

TNB: Not a good way to start.

Denny Strickland 03 - photo_Brad_Hardisty

Denny Strickland 03 – photo_Brad_Hardisty

DS: He had apparently been drinkin’ and didn’t know where he was. He had never been to Music City and he had got his car down behind this bus. I told him, ‘You’re takin’ a chance bein’ in a place you’ve never been before with a Hot Rod. Those things are undependable and you never know when you are going to be broke down.” He said, “Ah, hell, we’ll be alright.” I told him, “Yeah, well I know every tow service in town if you do break down or somethin’.” Anyway this is right before he took off.

TNB: Just trying to be helpful, right?

DS: I was being friendly and he was the one being kind of a smart ass. Us guys down here are all about southern hospitality. Anyway he pulls out and he is in the wrong lane and we laid back a little bit just to see where he was goin’. Well, I was still testing everything on my car making sure everything is okay. I was checkin’ my gears and I had it down in first. I have a converter down in my car. I can rip ‘it up to about 1300 before it starts pullin’. It’s an automatic. I put that stall in there .He has a standard transmission in that Cobra. So, we follow him and he gets on Hermitage Street and we kind of play a little bit on the road. Well, I motioned for him, “Just stop, let’s do a dig. Let’s do a different stop.”

TNB: I’m sure he was paying attention.

DS: We get up there to that first light on Hermitage Street across from the railroad tracks and we line em up and we’re sittin’ there waitin’ for the light to turn green. I’ve got my stall. I revved up to about 3200 and I’m sittin’ there brakin’, you know, power brakin’ and we take off. I got Mickey Thompson A/T streets on my car and it don’t take much of a burn out to get them things hot. I was ready. He had some trick of his own. I mean, his car wasn’t stock by no means. We hit the green light and we were about dead even but when I caught second gear, I start pulling away from him and I look in my rear view mirror and I see him.

TNB: He probably didn’t like that.

DS: He starts coming unglued! He’s slappin’ the steering wheel He’s getting’ all upset. His wife’s slappin’ him and he’s slappin’ her. I tell you what, he’s pissed off and we beat him through the 1/8 mile and I’m stopped. He keeps on goin’. I tried to get his attention because you know if you keep goin’ down Hermitage, you end up in the bad part of town. I mean not many lights and he was in an open coupe and he had no top on his Cobra. I told him, “Go back toward the light!” He couldn’t hear me, so, they end up driving into the dark. I looked at my Uncle and said “ Hey, we’re goin’ back to civilization. I don’t know where they’re goin’ but, we’re goin’ back to town.” So, we never saw him again. I mean that was it. We ended up going back home.

TNB: Would you like to race on a drag strip?

Denny Strickland 04 - photo_Brad_Hardisty

Denny Strickland 04 – photo_Brad_Hardisty

DS: You know, I have never raced my car at the drag strip. I would like to just pull up to the track and get staged and just run it and see what it will do. I have never had a successful run at the track with my car. I have always had problems. I went to Union Hill drag strip up here in Goodlettsville. I was already to go and I was staged and right when I gave it gas when it turned green, my throttle cable broke. The guy that was lighting me up flipped out! He said, “what are you doin’?” I said “I can’t move. My throttle cable broke.” I put it in neutral and he pushed me out of the way. I rolled out of there and I had people stop and try to give me a lift. I ended up calling a friend of mine. I went to the parts store and I fixed it right there at the track and I drove it home. If it would have been somethin’ else, I would have had to call a wrecker or somethin’. For the most part, I can take care of anything on it.

TNB: One more thing. If there’s anybody you could work with in town, who would it be?

Denny Strickland 05 - photo_Brad_Hardisty

Denny Strickland 05 – photo_Brad_Hardisty

DS: You know, there are so many people in this town. I hate to say one person and then upset somebody else for me not mentioning them. That’s such a tough question. It’s like a family affair with the music business. You almost have to have your hand in every part of it to be successful.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN

Doug Phelps talks about Chuck Berry, Keith Richards and the late Johnnie Johnson.

The Kentucky Headhunters with Johnnie Johnson: Meet Me In Bluesland

The Kentucky Headhunters with Johnnie Johnson: Meet Me In Bluesland

“We dead stopped right out on there in the middle of recording Soul and basically spent three days writing in the studio as we went. It was all off the cuff, spur of the moment stuff and we came up with Meet Me In Bluesland. It was so organic…”Doug Phelps

Country rebels, The Kentucky Headhunters are set to release Meet Me in Bluesland [Alligator Records] on June 2nd, a recording made with late pianist Johnnie Johnson, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, known for his work with Chuck Berry, not long before his passing.

The Kentucky Headhunters met Johnnie Johnson at a Grammy after party in 1989 after they had won the Grammy for best Country performance by a group or duo for Pickin’ On Nashville.

Their name would be brought up by Keith Richards when Johnnie was getting ready to record his second solo album. A friendship both personal and professional endured through recordings, jam sessions and live gigs until Johnnie’s passing in 2005.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: How did you work with Johnnie Johnson in the first place?

Doug Phelps / Kentucky Headhunters: Keith, Eric Clapton and NRBQ got on the project with Johnnie for his first solo record. That would have been, I guess that was the early nineties when that came out. They wanted to do another album and Keith recommended The Kentucky Headhunters, because he couldn’t do it at the time.

TNB: So, Keith recommended you guys. I guess that was really an honor. Most people are still not aware how important Johnnie Johnson was to Chuck Berry’s songwriting and recordings as well as some of the other things he did.

DP: Let’s go all the way back to the beginning. Johnnie hired Chuck Berry in 1955 to be his guitar player. He had a sax player that couldn’t make it to a gig and he knew about Chuck. Of course, you know, Chuck ended up taking over. Anyways, Johnnie was the initial person that hired Chuck and that’s how he got that ball rollin’ in the first place. So, Johnnie sang on all the early hits and played with him for years. Chuck at one point in time decided he just wanted to start playing with the local band and he let everybody go. So, Johnnie played with Albert King for a while and recorded with him and toured with others.

TNB: I never heard much about him after that.

DP: Johnnie got off the road and became a bus driver in St. Louis. He was a city bus driver.

TNB: The realization of how important he was to Chuck Berry’s style as well as the way Chuck would do two string leads didn’t really come to my attention until the film Hail Hail Rock and Roll and Johnnie Johnson was up there playing and Chuck’s music sounded like it was supposed to.

Kentucky Headhunters Live

Kentucky Headhunters Live

DP: Yeah, Keith Richards kind of brought that out and got them playing together for the first time in quite a while. When they chose Keith to be the director, he said “I’ll do this on one condition, I’ve got to find Johnnie Johnson and put Johnny and Chuck together. “

TNB: Keith knew how important that original partnership was to the integrity of those songs. Chuck and Johnnie were really partners at one time.

DP: When you think of Johnnie and Chuck back in the day, you think so much of the teams like Robert Plant and Jimmy Page or Keith and Mick. They were the first rock and roll team if you can call it that.

TNB: What period of time was the band in when you got approached to work with Johnnie?

DP: We were approached to do the second Johnnie record.

TNB: Didn’t you meet Johnnie Johnson at the Grammys before that?

DP: I wasn’t there at the Grammys. At that time, they had just brought the Johnnie record over there to the Grammys. The first thing they ran into at this Grammy after party was Johnnie Johnson. He was over there by himself. So, they immediately went over to him and hung out with him all night. And that’s really where they first met him and they became friends with Johnnie. Then they got approached to do the second project with Johnnie which was called That’ll Work and that was in 93. So, that’ll fix you up on how they met.

TNB: So what was that first session like?

DP: Johnnie walked into the practice house and said, “Play a song and if I like it great and if I don’t, I’m out.” They tore into something and Johnnie loved it. Johnnie said, “Alright, I’m in the Headhunters!”

TNB: It sounds kind of like it gelled from the first time the band jammed with Johnnie.

DP: We really just love Johnnie. I came back in the band in 95. So, when I met Jonnie we did some shows together. We` would bring him out and use him on some of his recordings.

TNB: So, how did Meet Me In Bluesland come about?

DP: It came time for us to do our next project for Audium during 2003 and so we were recording Soul and on that particular album we were going to do the Freddie King song, “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” and we wanted Johnnie to play on it so we got in touch with him. The night before he was in Houston and sat in with The [Rolling] Stones. He is a heavy heavyweight in music. He had hung out with The Stones all night., In the meantime, Francis, Johnnie’s wife, called Richard and said “I know you have him coming into record this one song for this project but you are going to have him for two or three days there. He’s not getting any younger.” I think he was seventy eight at the time. She basically said she would love us to record and write with him, do some stuff and record with Johnnie because who knows how much longer he is going be around, so that is basically what we did.

TNB: You’re in the middle of recording Soul and the project stops?

DP: We dead stopped right out on there in the middle of recording Soul and basically spent three days writing in the studio as we went. It was all off the cuff, spur of the moment stuff and we came up with Meet Me In Bluesland. It was so organic and Johnnie made you play like men. He made you grow up in your playing. We got the project finished and just basically put it under the bed. Richard literally put it under his bed at the house. We figured there would be some point when we would take a look at it and see what we could do with it.

TNB: It’s been over a decade since it was recorded. The public never knew about it. Why didn’t this come out earlier?

photo courtesy The Kentucky Headhunters

photo courtesy The Kentucky Headhunters

DP: Now, we have been asked this question already. Johnnie passed away in April 2005 so it wasn’t much beyond this project that he passed. You know, we were asked the question, why didn’t you release it at that point? It just seemed like we didn’t want to misconstrue the fact that we were taking advantage of his death. We had the highest regard for Johnnie as well so we just we said we will just wait until Francis says what about the project or what are you gonna do with it?

TNB: So, ten years passes.

DP: It’s October of last year and we get the call from Francis, “I’m not getting any younger myself. Now, I know you got the project and I’d love to hear it.” And we said okay that’s our sign that it’s time for us to do something. Ironically, we were in the middle of writing for a new Headhunter record. We weren’t in the studio yet but kind of like that same thing like when he came in we just stopped Soul in the middle of recording.

TNB: You dropped everything again.

DP: We stopped our writing and then went full force, full speed on getting this project back out. We knew we’d done it. We were really under the gun and in a hurry. We knew it was good when we did it but it had been a long time since we had heard it so we didn’t know what we were going to get into when we pulled the tracks back up and to our surprise it was all there. I re-sang two songs. Richard re-sang two songs. Greg wanted to re-do one of the guitar parts. It was just little bits here and there and that was it. It was all there.

TNB: It was only a few days but the magic was there. Johnnie had really fit in with the band or vice versa.

DP: It was one of those magical things that just happened in the studio with Johnnie.

TNB: Yeah, then you had to figure out distribution and all that.

DP: The first thing we did was go to Alligator Records and wanted Bruce Iglauer to hear it. We figured that would be a great blues label home for it. He loved it and we started negotiating immediately with Alligator Records. We wanna make sure it gets its due. There is a lot of historical value with this project that we did with Johnnie. Johnnie brings a lot to the table and we just happened to be along for the ride. We want to be good stewards of what we do with the project. We thought that if anybody could pull that off, Alligator Records could.

TNB: It’s good to see that The Kentucky Headhunters are still around. A lot of the big rock sound in Country today can trace back to what you started back then.

DP: We were ahead of our time. Yet, we still somehow or another broke through and you know it was just such a crazy time that we were just fortunate that it turned out like it did. Well we’re all the way back to where we started with just the four of us. That’s how we started.

TNB: What about the new Headhunters album you were working on?

DP: We were about seven songs into our writing process when Francis called. We waited too long. We should have had a Headhunters project out last year or even at the end of the year before last because Dixie came out in 2010. We knew were a little behind and coming out with something new helps our tour dates. It kind of goes hand in hand. When this came up, we knew this was the project that we need to work on right now. Once it gets past the bulk of this, we are going to get back into writing and finishing up the record ahead of us. So there will be another one of them sooner than later.

TNB: This is a cool project.

photo courtesy The Kentucky Headhunters

photo courtesy The Kentucky Headhunters

DP: I still get chills when I talk about it. That’s how special it was for us and how much respect we had for Johnnie and how close we became over the years. We’re very excited about it.

  •  Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN

Shantell Ogden just released ghosts in the field

Shantell Ogden, photo - Angie Miller

Shantell Ogden, photo – Angie Miller

Shantell Ogden continues her partnership with Producer John Willis on ghosts in the field [Hip Farm Chic Records] after the acclaim of Better at Goodbye which garnered Americana Album of the Year by the International Music and Entertainment Association.

The seven tracks featured on ghosts in the field show continuity although Shantell continues to evolve as a songwriter and a vocalist.

Track one, “Ghosts In The Field” brings Shantell back to her roots of the three generation dairy farm that she grew up on. The most poignant reference is about her grandfather. A touch of old Tom Petty style riffage makes one feel like time travelling back twenty to thirty years while walking the north forty.

So much for day drinking and being drunk on a plane, “Who Comes First” could be a call and response song to all the bro-country drunken anthems about the significant other that is left at home while the person she loves goes off honky-tonkin’ and carousing. The slide guitar definitely brings to mind the drinking on a plane theme of last fall. In the song, the person says “if you reach for me when you’re hurtin’, I’ll be your glass of top shelf bourbon.” It might be something that an alcoholic can relate to and I am sure the theme touches a lot of people that have to deal with a partner’s alcoholism.

shantell-ogden_ghosts-in-the-fieldWhile the seven songs touch on a lot of themes, the most inventive ones of the bunch are “Blossom In The Dust” that reminds one of a lot of people. It can be a reflection on how people view themselves physically or emotionally, especially coming out of a relationship where there may be some emotional scars and baggage. It may take the right partner to see through all the emotional scars and be able to help heal an individual and restore self image and awareness through channeling their original inward beauty.

The other track that really shifts gears for Shantell is the final track, “As Long As You’re Mine” with an arrangement reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready.” The feel grooves like a Dan Penn tune out of Muscle Shoals or maybe a Memphis Stax Gospel cut.

The background gospel choir brings to mind Gladys Knight or maybe something Aretha might go after. Shantell goes from the very Patty Griffin – Emmylou Harris Americana arrangement of “Blossom In The Dust” on track 5 to the soulful “As Long As You’re Mine” two tracks later.

The amazing thing is they are both great songs with two very distinct arrangements just minutes apart.

Shantell Ogden, photo - Chuck Eaton

Shantell Ogden, photo – Chuck Eaton

More than anything, it shows that Shantell is capable not only as an interpreter of her own creations but she could possibly be another Jeffrey Steele writing all over the studio walls of many Country Artist sessions finding her spark of genius climbing up the charts.

Songs like “God Counts Every Tear” could be another page of Little Big Town as much as it could be for this recognized independent Country girl’s muse.

  • Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

KC talks about new album and the new fan base at Pandora

Harry Wayne "KC" Casey photo - A. Streiber

Harry Wayne “KC” Casey photo – A. Streiber

The iconic KC and The Sunshine Band rolled out their newest release, Feeling You!, a collection of TOP 40 Hits from the 60’s that takes on the decade that shaped America during the Vietnam War, Civil Rights and the landing on the moon.

AM Radio’s Top 40 format featured everything from Swamp Pop to Motown to the British invasion and this was during the formative years of Harry Wayne “KC” Casey. KC would go on to forge a change in the musical landscape.

Feeling You! features songs by sixties legends like Ben E. King, The Righteous Brothers, Jackie DeShannon, Aaron Neville and others. KC says this new album stems from an inspiration to pay tribute to those songs who helped shape him into the revolutionary artist he is today.

BMI recently honored KC and The Sunshine band with a coveted Million Airplay Award, as well as an outstanding 2014 Urban Pop Award, recognizing their revolutionary impact on modern pop music since the 70s. The presentation took placed just before the March release date of their latest album.

KC & The Sunshine Band were in preparations for an upcoming tour when KC sat down with The Nashville Bridge to talk about the new album and how to get music out into the public conscience both digitally as well as a future vinyl release.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: On the new album, how was it to record the songs that were part of your formative times?

KC: I feel right now the way I felt about them then over the last 60 some odd years, some of them were done because they were fun songs and they were good positive energy and I thought it would be great to have them on the album, not just on the album but, to do live. Other songs have a more personal connection to me. There are a couple on there, that I did, that have a slight political undertone on them.

TNB: Okay, you did Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind” and that was a protest song back in the Sixties.

KC: Correct, it is so appropriate for what is going on right now.

TNB: You got some good reviews on “Stand By Me.” What was your favorite track to work on?

KC: They were all fun to work on. I don’t know if I have a favorite. I do “Stand By Me” and “Bring It On Home” is definitely the Sam Cooke song. It was my favorite song to do. I love really doing “You Really Got A Hold On Me” also.

TNB: What do you think is the difference between now and then to get a hit? Is it just money?

KC: I think there is a lot more money behind records today. First of all [back then] you had to be able to sing on key. It had to be a great song. I don’t know if it is easier now. It was easier to know if you had a great song back then. Now, you have so many more opportunities to get your music out. You don’t have to depend on one person deciding your future.

TNB: Back then you had been working as a session guy and eventually got the opportunity to take a chance on your own ideas.

KC & The Sunshine Band photo - Jeremy Westby

KC & The Sunshine Band photo – Jeremy Westby

KC: Yes. I didn’t really have anybody telling me yay or nay. You are absolutely right. I set out to change things. I set out to put out a different kind of music. I just wanted to put out an album with high energy and something that people could just enjoy at a party or feel good about playing the entire side A to side B and that is kind of how it all really started. You know, the only master plan that I had was to create this high energy up tempo music, you know, the groove.

TNB: I know you are getting ready to tour. How big of a band do you tour with? The Sunshine Band used to be 11 members.

KC: There are 15 of us on the stage at all times. There are 20 of us that travel together.

TNB: That’s fantastic and you said you are doing “Stand By Me” in the new set?

KC: I do “Stand By Me” and “Bring It On Home To Me” live now. We just went into rehearsals and will add a few more songs.

TNB: I’d love to hear you do “Tell It Like It Is.”

KC: Oh yeah, it sounds great live.

TNB: Are you releasing this worldwide or just in the U.S.?

KC: It’s worldwide.

TNB: So by the time you get to like China I guess they have it available through like Amazon or would that be digital distribution at that point?

KC: It’s mostly digital. We will have hard copies at the show. A record [vinyl] version will be coming out.

TNB: I was going to ask you about the vinyl because it would be fun to even put out a seven inch.

KC: Sure. I know that “You Keep Me Hanging On” on this album is #17 on the Dance Charts. It came in at #24 and then it went to number 17 so we are getting some dance play off of this album. I am speaking to management and stuff today. We need to get a single off of this and get it on the radio stations.

TNB: It would be cool to see a limited release on Record Store Day.

KC: Yeah. I wish that was happening. That would be awesome.

TNB: Nowadays, getting music out and getting paid for it presents a lot of opportunities.

KC: I think there are some opportunities for soundtracks, motion pictures. There is still a chance that somebody might want to use the songs that I have done in a commercial. Of course, I didn’t write the songs on this project but there is still a lot of opportunity with even the music of this album for sync licenses and stuff. It will be interesting to see where it all goes.

TNB: Everything goes in cycles and performers like Amy Winehouse and Sharon Jones highlight music right before you originally hit.

KC: I know. I feel like I’m on the verge of that cycle. I was just at Pandora music and learned that 71% of our listeners in the last 30 days were in the 18-24 age demographic and 11% were between ages 8-18. My percentage was way above the average Pandora percentage which was 63%.

TNB: I think it’s cool that they are searching and finding KC & The Sunshine Band.

KC: Yeah.

kc and the sunshine band feel youKC and The Sunshine Band On Tour:

03.20 Hard Rock Hotel and Casino / Hollywood, FL

03.21 Seminole Casino Immokalee / Immokalee, FL

03.26 Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino / Lemoore, CA

04.11 Busch Gardens / Tampa, FL

04.18 Seven Feathers Casino – Grand Ballroom / Canyonville, OR

04.19 Snoqualmie Casino Ballroom / Snoqualmie, WA

07.04 A Capitol Fourth Independence Day / Washington, DC

07.11 Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheatre / Peachtree City, GA

07.17 Three Rivers Festival / Ft. Wayne, IN

07.25 Burton Chace Park / Marina Del Rey, CA

08.08 Tropicana / Atlantic City, NJ

08.20 Indiana State Fairgrounds / Indianapolis, IN

08.22 Delta Downs – Delta Center / Vinton, LA

08.28 Monticello Grand Casino / Santiago, Chile

08.29 Monticello Grand Casino / Santiago, Chile

10.03 University of Buffalo Stadium / Buffalo, NY

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmailddotcom

 

James Carothers at Lower Broad, photo - Brad Hardisty

James Carothers at Lower Broad, photo – Brad Hardisty

James Carothers talks new single and growing up with three sisters.

*****Update: Benefit show has been rescheduled to March 18th due to severe weather in the Nashville area*****

James Carothers rolled into Nashville last month after finding success on secondary market Country radio stations with “New Country Singers” that profiles his ability to write like Ray Stevens or more like the one two punch of strong guitar and funny lyrics a la Jerry Reed [“She Got The Goldmine (I Got The Shaft)] which is rare and needed in today’s Country format.

James’s follow up “I Must Be Alive” has more of an introspective feel with lyrics starting about winter and really go well with conditions in the Northeast with snow piling up and not much to do but play board games, get on Facebook or call relatives and friends. It already is in rotation on several stations.

James Carother honky tank landJames Carothers current record Honky Tonk Land is real Country with fiddle and steel prominent throughout from strong Nashville session players. James can write, sing in that Josh Turner range with his definite Southwest Tennessee drawl that shows a lot of Mississippi clay in his tone and Tupelo in his subject matter.

His strongest point live is that James is funny. Check out his videos of live performances and how he interacts with the audience and he will remind you of Jim Lauderdale hosting the Americana Awards or Jerry Reed as the Tupelo Mississippi Flash. A James Carothers show is great music and lots of entertainment.

James recently survived some Illinois snow that piled up outside while he was playing in Carthage, driving the crowd to a frenzy with a real steel player and a tight band from Missouri only to face the drive back to Nashville. Coming up, He is playing at the All-Star Whitey Shafer benefit put on by Moe Bandy and featuring top tier entertainers like Rhonda Vincent now rescheduled on March 18th at The Nashville Palace.

The Nashville Bridge met up with James at Crema in downtown Nashville on a Sunday morning to wake up and smell the coffee and rewind time a little bit to find out what James Carothers brings to the table.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: You started making trips to Nashville before moving here, right?

James Carothers at Crema 01, photo- Brad Hardisty

James Carothers at Crema 01, photo- Brad Hardisty

James Carothers: I was working on the record last year, I came here to record , I’ve come here for any kind of a music business thing that my wife would set up for me.

TNB: What was the turning point to move to the Nashville area?

JC: Secondary radio started doing better, especially in Europe.

TNB: What cut broke first?

JC: The “New Country Singers” song.

TNB: You have a new song out now.

JC: Yeah, that one is called “I Must Be Alive”. That one is kind of like the serious song on the record. It’s about death.

TNB: I was thinking it was a perfect winter release song, Stuck at home up north with all this snow they have had, reflecting on life.

JC: It seems like a good time to break it. It seemed like right after Christmas when radio was saturated with Christmas music. It seemed more like the bad side of winter. A week ago today, I was up playing in Carthage, Illinois and we got out about twelve-o-clock and there was like three inches of snow on the ground and it was coming down in sheets. You know how it is.

TNB: Did you get stuck up there?

JC: We drove it through. My band was going back to Missouri and I was coming back here. It was like, alright we can wait till there is like a foot of snow or we can brave it and see how far south we can get before it turns back into rain. We decided to do that.

TNB: Was that a hired gig or a band you work with regularly now?

James Carothers in Nashville 201502 - photo - Brad Hardisty

James Carothers in Nashville 201502 – photo – Brad Hardisty

JC: That was a group I work with when I’m out there, like four or five times so far. They are a pretty good band to work with. They are good guys. They play a lot of classic country and they are in and out of Branson and the Kansas City area and so any time I go back there I have been able to get them. Usually I run myself on guitar and vocals then they add bass, drums and a steel guitar. [After the interview, James added that it was really cool to bring a steel player to that gig because you could tell they probably don’t see too many and really got into the sound.]

TNB: Some have compared you to Vince Gill. Is that fair or who’s style of playing are you thinking about? Are you a Tele picker?

JC: I’m a Tele player. I’m not in the same ball park as Vince Gill.

TNB: Do you use the traditional Telecaster and a Fender Amp or a boutique amp like a Dr. Z?

JC: Fender amp. I still haven’t made enough money to carry around a boutique amp unless somebody wants to make me one. That’s fine.

TNB: You can find anything here in Nashville.

JC: I try to emulate someone like Vince Gill when I am playing guitar. What I like about Vince Gill is that he does throw real firecracker licks but mostly he does stuff that is pretty tasteful too. Melodic, people say Vince is more of a musical guitar player than Keith Urban is, from what I’ve heard.

TNB: Thinking more for the song and the melody?

JC: Yeah, I like Paisley but, these guys are all from another planet and they are like way better.

TNB: Almost like Van Halen.

JC: Yeah, it’s almost like when you hear something that Paisley plays and he is like shredding , its like he shreds and puts in a bunch of notes and he is awesome but when Vince Gill plays something, he also shreds but it is not quite as jumbled together, to me, it sounds better.

TNB: It’s interesting to me that you bring up Vince because to me, with your background in Rock and Country of course Vince was playing in Southern Rock band Pure Prairie League before…

JC: Oh yeah, that’s right.

TNB: So the way that Vince processes ideas may be close to where you come from.

JC: Yeah, he is a heck of a bluegrass picker, player and singer too. He’s an all-around musician.

TNB: So what is your writing process? Do you start on electric or picking on an acoustic sitting on a couch?

JC: Yeah, acoustic to come up with a hook. I’ll be sitting around playing and out of nowhere I’ll get a good hook going if it’s a musical song and build it from there. The other way is when I hear somebody say something that’s funny and then I go from there so there is a musical start and also a verbal start.

TNB: How do you read an audience  playing different  size venues and crowds?

James Carothers in Nashville 201503 - photo - Brad Hardisty

James Carothers in Nashville 201503 – photo – Brad Hardisty

JC:  I think maybe a real good example of that is when I was playing the other night up in Kansas City. You know, you play to whomever you have in the room. I played a room of 50 people and I know about half of them so it is going to be more of an informal type of thing. We are going to be talking to the people. So, we are not going to be trying to, I guess, try to patronize a crowd like that and say “How is everybody, let me hear you scream, holler and swaller!” I’m not going to do that to these good people I know. I think you’re right, it is definitely playing to the audience. You gotta know your audience is the way I have to say it.

TNB: You’re really comfortable on stage or as they say “controlling a room”. How do you figure out what to do or say each night?

JC: Stuff like that, it’s kind of like, getting inside of peoples’ heads, looking at a group of people but you are looking at somebody to pick out of the crowd.

TNB: You are great at being n the moment, not just from a musical stand point but being an entertainer from what I have seen in clips.

JC: That makes sense. I really like to figure it out and kind of zero in on certain people. I have to zero in on the people that are paying attention. Any time you play now, about half the people might be looking at their phones and a third of the people might be looking to get a drink or chase some girl or something. Then there are a few people who are listening. So, I really try to zero in on the people who are listening and watching what is going on. Kind of just start establishing a relationship in another way.

TNB: I was going to say you have a comedy pacing going on some times which is really cool. I don’t see to many people that can do that, I mean Little Jimmie Dickens obviously was a great comedian. Jim Lauderdale is actually fun. A lot of people don’t know that about him. He’s always the host of the Americana Awards. Do you enjoy getting people to laugh and have a good time?

James Carothers at Crema 201502, photo - Brad Hardisty

James Carothers at Crema 201502, photo – Brad Hardisty

JC: Oh yeah, definitely, I guess I grew up with three sisters and they were always really good at pointing out things and laughing at me, laughing with me but, laughing at me too, I think that gave me a good sense of humor. If you are up there in front of people who laugh at you and stuff it’s pretty hard to be super cool the whole time. If you are going to be goofy or a dork (a dork is what my sister’s would call me), They would say you are such a dork. You might as well kind of embrace it and hopefully people are going to be entertained. I think they are a lot more entertained if you are comfortable with yourself being a dork part of the time because otherwise you come across too cool for school.

TNB: It is easier just to play it off. You’ve come out with a well-received album. Now you are in Nashville, what does the future look like?

JC: In the next year, I expect I will have a lot of co-writes and then I also expect to have an album.. I know there will be a lot more songs that I will be able to cut.

TNB: Do you have a distribution deal right now?

JC: No. I am doing it all myself driving around playing shows and pulling out CD’s that I already have out..

TNB: It sounds like you have support from radio.

JC: Yeah, some stations are picking up so, the Country music programming directors from the small to medium markets around the country have been really supportive. I’m looking forward to seeing a bunch of them ag CRS.

TNB: So, maybe a radio tour in the future?

James Carothers in Nashville 201504 photo - Brad Hardisty

James Carothers in Nashville 201504 photo – Brad Hardisty

JC: We’ll talk about that when all the programming Directors are here. I’ve got a breakfast with them. I’m not necessarily going to sing my head off for them. I think you need to know who your audience is. I don’t want to come in “la la la”. I’m just going to see what they’re like, what their people want and see if there is something I’m doing naturally that aligns with it that I do well.

  • Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

JIM ED BROWN Returns To Grand Ole Opry® On January 30 & 31 Following Four-Month Absence

photo - Anna OConner

photo – Anna OConner

With Cancer in Remission, Legend Celebrates New CD With Opry Store Signing

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (January 28, 2015) – Living legend JIM ED BROWN returns to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry on Friday, January 30 and Saturday, January 31, following a four-month absence for treatment of lung cancer. Brown will appear both nights during the 8:45 p.m. CT segment, and will sign copies of his new CD, IN STYLE AGAIN, at the Opry Store on Saturday from 9:15-10 p.m. Fans can listen to the performances live as they stream on wsmonline.com.

Brown was given an “all clear” by his doctors on January 19. “I am in remission,” he stated. “There are not enough thanks for the prayers, well wishes, and support I’ve received during the toughest time of my life. I am so grateful.”

The gracious star was invited to join the Opry in 1963, when Ernest Tubb asked Jim Ed and his sisters Maxine and Bonnie, to join the august establishment as The Browns. As a 50-plus year member, Brown considers the Opry his “second home,” and can think of no better place to re-launch his remarkable stage shows.

The excitement Jim Ed feels at returning to the road is matched by reviewers’ enthusiasm for his new CD:

Jim Ed Brown discusses new project completed with a little help from some friends.

JimEdBrown_InStyleAgain_cover_lrgI’ll tell you one thing, the roots of Country music are deep and strong and great.” – Jim Ed Brown

Jim Ed Brown just released In Style Again [Plowboy Records] yesterday capping a milestone that began with his recent recognition by the Grand Ole Opry for his fifty years as a member of that distinguished group.

Helmed by Producer Don Cusic, In Style Again features his sister Bonnie Brown who was there when it all began along with sister, Maxine as The Browns in the Louisiana Hayride years when Elvis Presley would hang out at the family house in Arkansas.

The Browns 1959 hit “The Three Bells” was a million seller topping the charts when AM Radio ruled the airwaves as a crossover hit on all three major charts: Pop, Country and Rhythm and Blues when that was a rare occurrence.

Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius shine on “Don’t Let Me Cross Over” as well as guest spots by Vince Gill on “Tried and True.” Bluegrass icons The Whites take on “You Again” with Jim Ed Brown.

The Bobby Bare produced cut “In Style Again” featuring Nashville guitar ace Brent Mason is included as well as new material recorded at Sound Emporium with Chris Scruggs on Pedal Steel and Dave Roe [Johnny Cash} on bass and an all-star session line-up.

In Style Again spotlights Jim Ed Brown at the top of his game with pristine production that rivals latter day works by Loretta Lynn, Porter Wagoner, Charlie Louvin and Ray Price.

There is solid interest in hearing works by the masters within the Music Row Chart stations, Americana formats as well as Indie formats where even modern Country radio has taken notice.

That could have been the reason it was time after thirty years to drop a great album, but the story really begins with a friendship with Shannon Pollard at Plowboy Records. Jim Ed Brown shared the story with The Nashville Bridge.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: The original Bobby Bare produced single that featured Brent Mason on guitar “In Style Again” was released over a year ago and really got things going again, didn’t it?

photo - Pete Mroz

photo – Pete Mroz

Jim Ed Brown: You know that that was a number one song around the country in the secondary radio [Music Row Charts] stations. Wasn’t that great?

TNB: Fantastic! Did Bobby Bare work with you on the new album?

JEB: The only thing Bobby did was “In Style Again.” Don Cusic produced most of the songs on the new album.

TNB: The single came out when you received recognition by The Grand Ole Opry for fifty years as a member of that distinguished organization and your life time achievements. Was that the catalyst for this project?

JEB: Well, you know, not really. The reason for the album was I was friends with Eddy Arnold and Eddy Arnold, when he passed away, he left his Grandson [Shannon Pollard] in charge of the trust and he wanted to start a record label. Knowing his Grandfather and some of the songs that Eddy had done through the years, I was talking to him one day. He is out here in Brentwood and so am I. We were just talking and one thing lead to another and the first thing you know here I had a contract in my hand and we were making records. Making something new, doing recording.

TNB: You may be riding the crest of a time when people start to look at the roots of what Country music is. What do you think?

photo - Anna OConner

photo – Anna OConner

JEB: I’ll tell you one thing, the roots of Country music are deep and strong and great. In Style Again is going to be released January the 20th. Right now there is a single out there called “When The Sun Says Hello To The Mountain.” [featuring sister, Bonnie Brown]

TNB: That was great that your sister Bonnie was able to be a part of this project.

JEB: Maxine [Brown] was going to come into Nashville but she was unable to. She was under the weather and Bonnie came in and did Maxine’s part as well as her part and you know what? You can’t tell the difference in them. I won’t deny that’s me because it sure sounds like me, doesn’t it.

TNB: Having Bonnie on there was a great idea. You also did a duet with Helen Cornelius, right?

JEB: Also, Vince Gill is on there. The Whites are on there.

TNB: The album sounds great! Are you going to try to get out and do some more shows in 2015?

photo - Roberto Cabral

photo – Roberto Cabral

JEB: Oh yeah. I am already booked on quite a few shows for this year. In fact, I start like February the 9th I think it is at The Florida State Fair so there on the 9th and then quite a few dates. I’ll do about 40 dates this year maybe 50.

TNB: Great, is the Grand Ole Opry going to be in that group?

JEB: You better know it, because I love the Grand Ole Opry.

TNB: Do you know what date you are going to be on there yet?

JEB: I do not. I’m thinking not this weekend but maybe next. I’m thinking seriously about it.

TNB: That would be great. I was going to say we have had a lot of members pass away. Little Jimmy Dickens was kind of the Elder Statesman. That puts you pretty close to that position in the Grand Ole Opry now.

JEB: Well, you know what? I don’t know what position I’m in Brad but, I love the Grand Ole Opry and as long as I can, I will continue to do the Grand Ole Opry.

TNB: It’s kind of a big Elvis year too. They have the 80th Birthday thing going on and I think you have some of the best stories I have read about Elvis hanging out at your house back in the Louisiana Hayride era.

JEB: He was a good friend. You know we helped get him started. I hear that they are selling both of his airplanes and some of his other things and that is a big auction. Elvis was a great Entertainer. If I would have known he was going to be as great as he was, I would have got him to sign a life time contract whenever we were working together.

TNB: When you get out on the road, are you going to do any shows with Helen Cornelius?

JEB: I will. Helen Cornelius will be at the Florida State Fair. We will definitely be doing some shows together.

TNB: Also, will you be continuing your radio show Country Music Greats Radio Hour?

photo - Pete Mroz

photo – Pete Mroz

JEB: I sure will. I love that show, it gives me the opportunity to play some old records and some things from the people that’s passed and tell some stories not only about the songs but about the Artists that recorded them. It is a fun show for me.

TNB: I wish you all the success.

  • Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom
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