Monthly Archives: March 2014



    Listen to the hit single “Kiss You Tonight!”

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

      Album reviews come out in a flurry when new music is released. There is an urgency to be heard first and foremost. Some albums are so hyped prior to their release that the reviews are trampled in the rush to purchase and were largely irrelevant before they were written. Record labels like to see new albums drop into a vat of black ink, the result of incessant marketing and consumer hyperactivity surrounding this must have new music. Some of the best albums in music history didn’t open to record sales. It wasn’t until they’d been around awhile that their quality was appreciated, popularity spread, and sales turned from red to black. David Nail’s new album, I’M A FIRE, dropped with the intensity of a three-alarm blaze. After you sit with it for awhile, cozy up to it and listen repeatedly, you’ll feel the heat rise and find yourself calling for backup units to put out this backdraft.

      Certain albums are song driven. The success the record achieves is built upon hit singles. This is where iTunes is a marketing ally. I had purchased two of the songs off I’M A FIRE via iTunes prior to the album’s release. I had previewed the other songs and liked them, but the sound bites offered through iTunes didn’t put the pieces of this album together in any meaningful way. Shortly after the album dropped, I was surprised by an email telling me I had won a signed copy of  it in a contest I had forgotten I’d entered. What luck! When it arrived, I listened to it entirely. And then I listened to it again.  And again. As I felt this album pulling me in, the words I kept coming back to were passionate and sophisticated, neither of which came to me during my iTunes tour.

      I’M A FIRE is the title of a blueprint. This bonfire wasn’t thrown together haphazardly. It was carefully planned out and built to burn slowly with the use of accelerants in just the right places. It opens with the hit single, “Whatever She’s Got,” followed by the equally playful “Broke My Heart.” Both are fun songs to listen to with great grooves. The fire is lit and sparks fly. Roast your marshmallows here because tracks three through seven burn with the intensity of a firestorm. “Burnin’ Bed” opens breathlessly and will leave you panting. David delivers an incredibly passionate vocal on this one, tempting us to follow him into the flame. Little Big Town adds their powerful harmonies to the fourth track, “When They’re Gone (Lyle County),” to create one of the standout songs on this album. Together, David Nail and LBT provide the perfect blend of strength and smoothness to punctuate the lyrics and remind us why we won’t forget this song when it’s gone. “Brand New Day” is one of those songs that pulls you in from the first beat. Again, the vocals on this song are so intense that you can’t help but feel moved by it. It’s a beautiful song that relates the sadness of a bygone relationship and the hope of better days to come.

      Tracks six and seven reveal the pain of regret when a relationship ends that shouldn’t have. “Kiss You Tonight” is a heart-wrenching ode to lost love. It’s sung with the desperation we’ve all felt when something so right has slipped through our fingers. Perfect control of the vocal on this one. “The Secret” is one of those songs you can’t forget once you’ve heard it. It has a haunting quality about it in such a way that you’re just awed by the story it tells. David and Scooter Carusoe wrote this one and the lyrics are spellbinding. This is my favorite track on the album because of the absolute perfect union of singer and song. The only production needed here is simply letting David sing this one from the heart. It’s a stunner and a track not to be missed. “Countin’ Cars” is one of those waiting for something to happen songs. It’s got an anxious feel to it in a rhythmic way. Easy to sing. It’s tone makes it a good transitional song from the heat of the previous tracks into the less intense fire the next two bring.

      “Easy Love” is a turn it up, dance, celebrate good love song. It’s got a rock feel to it with a fun beat and some great guitar moments. This one plays like a joy ride on a sweet summer day. You just don’t want it to end. The title track, “I’m A Fire,” is a love song. It’s telling the one you love why they light up your world and fire up your heart. There’s a happiness in this song that cannot be denied. Great rhythm. Easy listening. After you’ve come through the intensity of the middle of this album, “I’m A Fire” feels like coming out the other side where the flames aren’t quite as hot and you can cozy up to the fire again. Picture a fire on the beach in late summer, and that brings us to “Galveston.” This song was written by Jimmy Webb and famously recorded by Glen Campbell in 1969. The original lyrics were intended to portray it as an anti-war song, but part of the lyric was rewritten to make the intent appear patriotic. Either way, the soldier and the girl who waits for him will need peace to bring them back together on that beach in Galveston. Lee Ann Womack joins David on this one and the arrangement makes it feel new again. It’s a fresh look at two people in love, separated by an ocean and conflict. For now, the waves have crashed upon the beach and put out the fire, but the tempo of the song indicates that doves will fly again and when these lovers are back together, their spark will ignite a new fire.

      I found this album a perfect example of how the format of iTunes can sometimes do an album a disservice. It’s like trying to evaluate something without all the information relevant to the product. As a single track, “Galveston” didn’t make sense to me. It felt like the odd man out. As part of the whole, it completes the album beautifully. It lends validity to the soulfulness of this album in showing that you have to have experienced certain things in life to fully appreciate where you’ve been and where you’re going. It’s light at the end of a tunnel. I’M A FIRE is a controlled burn. In order to appreciate it, you have to let it burn slowly. Listen to the album in its entirety and see how tempted you are to listen to it all over again. There’s just something about that flame that draws you in. David Nail sings new songs with an old soul. I would call this cutting edge country because it combines the artful storytelling of classic country songs with the sounds of country, pop, and rock blended together. Anyone can record an album. Very few can deliver a piece of art through music. Well done David Nail!

              From WAY North of Nashville…..Bev Miskus

NOTE: The strengh of the whole comes from the sum of its parts, therefore, I think it’s important to recognize some of the people who helped make this album what it is. The producers are Frank Liddell, Chuck Ainlay, and Glenn Worf. The AMAZING songwriters on this album are: Scooter Carusoe, Brandy Clark, David Cook, Bob Dipiero, Tom Douglas, Michael Dulaney, Brett Eldredge, Jaren Johnston, Jay Knowles, Shane McAnally, Lee Thomas Miller, David Nail, Jon Nite, Jimmy Robbins, Jonathan Singleton, Trent Summar, and Neil Thrasher.


Preview and download I’M A FIRE through iTunes: HERE

Don’t miss DAVID NAIL this fall on his headlining I’M A FIRE TOUR!!

Watch David’s acoustic performance of “Countin’ Cars!”

Songwriters: Lee Thomas Miller, Michael Dulaney, Neil Thrasher.

Watch this simply stunning acoustic performance of “The Secret!”

Songwriters: David Nail and Scooter Carusoe.

©2014Bev Miskus



     No matter what we’re doing at any given time during the day, chances are, we’re plugged in to something. Whether it’s an ipod, iphone, ipad, or some other electronic device, we’re listening to someone. Teens often ask each other “who are you listening to?” Sounds like a simple enough question to answer, but what went into making that choice of who you’re listening to may be more involved than you think. In this digital age, we’re bombarded with news and information 24/7. Things that shouldn’t be newsworthy become so on a slow news day. Our favorite music artists don’t just sing anymore, they’re now media stars as well. Their brand image is as important as the music they make, sometimes more so. Are we drawn to the music or the image? Are we likely to listen to the music if we don’t like the image?

      When American Idol first aired back in 2002, it was groundbreaking in the sense that it gave music fans a voice in selecting who they wanted to hear from. Call it the television version of “A Star is Born.” Often over the years we’ve seen contestants win votes based on their image as much as their vocal ability. In 2011, The Voice entered the television market with an alternative approach to the selection process. “Blind auditions” determine who will get their chance to appear on the live shows. As both shows progress through their seasons, contestants further define themselves as artists and begin the all important image creation. This is much the same process that record labels use when presenting their hopeful hit makers to the public for the first time. The image they present is as important as what’s on that debut album. New artists have to make the rounds, smiling and befriending all the people who could potentially make or break them at this early stage. For the record labels, brand creation is all about marketing. The packaging on the artists they represent will be carefully crafted with the intention of selling records, attracting fans and sponsors, and ultimately capitalizing on the consumer market.

      When social media entered the marketplace, it was a game changer. Facebook launched in 2004 and Twitter in 2006, and these viral networks gave music fans the power to play a major role in determining whose careers take off and whose fizzle. Young fans are equally boisterous when they like someone and when they don’t. Racking up Facebook friends and Twitter followers became a gauge by which popularity is measured. “Unfriending” on Facebook and “unfollowing” on Twitter gives fans the power to turn on and off their allegiance with the simple click of a mouse. Call it the electronic version of “he loves me,” “he loves me not.” Gathering a large following on Twitter often comes down to personality or who seems to be hot at the time. Some artists are very interactive on Twitter and this can be very effective in strengthening an already popular image and adding new fans. Those artists who are more reactive in their use of Twitter walk a fine line between helping or hurting their image. Some choose not to engage at all on Twitter and may come off as aloof or uncaring about their fan base, or their account is controlled by someone else who appears equally distant. Like it or not, Twitter can define a personality, for better or worse. A virtual image is often just as important as a real one.

      Images that come from print media are another animal entirely. Sometimes the artist has a say in what’s printed and which pictures are shown, unless the source is one of those ever-so-credible tabloids that greet us as we’re checking out at the grocery store. Record labels may build relationships with certain media outlets to ensure that their artists are shown in a favorable light in both good times and bad. They want their go-to source to be reliable and loyal whenever called upon to create an image or patch one up. Will these sources tweak the truth or look the other way when writing a piece in order to stay in the confidence and good graces of their benefactor? If the bottom line is money, and it always is, then yes. At best, images promulgated by print media are suspect because there’s always an angle, depending on who has something to gain. Television appearances for music artists these days are nearly as important as hearing them on the radio. When big announcements are to be made, they rarely come out in print anymore. Artists are flying coast to coast to appear on morning and late night television shows with the hope of reaching a wider audience and showcasing that shiny image. If you like what you see, you’re more likely to listen to what they’re singing and buy what they’re selling. Visual pleasure equals cha-ching!

      What we’ve come to expect from the images of our favorite music artists seems to depend on the genre. This might be considered stereotyping and those lines are starting to blur some, but in music, that comes with the territory. When rock bands ruled the music world, we expected them to behave badly. They built their reputations on that bad behavior and they owned it. The worse they behaved, the better we liked it! Rock and Roll isn’t just a musical genre, it’s an attitude. Pop stars of the 80s started to define themselves and differentiate from others by using signature costumes and theatrics onstage in their performances. Michael Jackson and Madonna created their legendary images in just this fashion. Our pop stars of today, such as Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, and Justin Bieber, have continued in that tradition of sometimes outlandish behavior to promote their music and cement their brand. When it comes to country artists, however, we expect something a little different. As the sound of country music is ever-changing, what sets country artists apart from their contemporaries in other genres is how they behave, on and off stage, and the brand they represent. Part of what makes someone a country artist is an authenticity in their public persona and in the music they sing, a kind of what you see is what you get advertising. Flaws and all, what you get is the real deal, or at least it used to be.

      The clamor that is persistent in the music market today demands attention to detail. The music is only part of the equation. Image often trumps all. One false move in your personal life can have disastrous effects on your career, no matter how good your music is. Ask Chris Brown. In country music especially, fans connect with the artists based on a perceived shared experience. Reputations and careers are built on that common ground. Songs become a part of the image these artists build. Country lyrics are explicit. They describe a lifestyle, what’s important, and why. If you’re singing it, you better be living it. That’s country. If you step outside that box, you could end up like the Dixie Chicks, exiled from the realm. You can recover from a bad song. It’s much harder to repair a damaged reputation. As the dollars add up and the opportunities expand for country artists, how far can those images stray from their down home roots and still tout an authentic brand? 

     Marketing is all about image. Image is what gets you in the door. On The Voice, the coaches are forced to listen before they can look. But that’s not real life. We almost always look before we listen. We perceive things before a word is spoken or a note is sung. If the artist has a reputation that precedes your first listen to their music, can you be objective about the music without your personal feelings about them clouding your judgment? Probably not. We are an image-hyped nation. What we see outweighs what we hear. In country music, this means walk the line. If that cowboy image is built on the truth, I better not be able to shoot holes in it. If I can, your days at the top are probably numbered. Unlike big corporations, no artist is too big to fail. Not anymore. Social media has changed all that. One misstep can spread like a viral wildfire and leave a career in tatters before your PR person can stop the bleeding. Protecting that image is as important as copyrighting the songs. Shiny sells. Tarnished doesn’t. If country fans don’t like your image, regardless of how good you sound, you’re probably not who they’re listening to. Unfriend. Unfollow.

From WAY North of Nashville…..Bev Miskus

©2014Bev Miskus



     Guys from North Carolina usually know something about fast cars. This one is a 2000 Dodge Hennessey Viper Venom 800TT. It boasts 830HP and can go 0-60 in 2.4 seconds – in the rain. It is advertised as one of the “fastest roadgoing supercars of our time.” If you wanted to see what it could really do, would you test drive it in a Wal-Mart parking lot or find an open road?


  “Don’t that just make you wanna Move” – Parmalee

     This car came out the year before the guys from Parmalee played their first gig together in North Carolina in 2001, and there was no fast track from there to Nashville. It’s been a slow, rough ride for these guys, but with the release of their debut album, Feels Like Carolina, it feels like they’re on the verge of a breakthrough year. They’ve got a full tour schedule this year which includes a spot on Jake Owen’s Days of Gold Tour beginning next month. Their latest single, “Close Your Eyes,” is spinning on country radio and climbing the charts. Most people probably haven’t seen Parmalee live yet and if they have, it was most likely at a small venue. Having seen a live feed from one of their appearances recently, it felt like I was watching this Dodge Viper, idling in neutral, just waiting to flex its HP on an open road. Unfortunately, the format didn’t allow them to demonstrate their capabilities.

      To find out what Parmalee is really capable of, let’s look at the engine they’re running on with their new album. Feels Like Carolina was produced by New Voice Entertainment, which means you’re going to get a finished product that is sleek, modern, and powerful. Lyrically, this is a country album, but musically, it’s a well-blended hybrid that leans heavily on its rock edge. “Musta Had a Good Time” is a party anthem that could have been the soundtrack for the movie The Hangover. It’s a morning after feel good song to clean up your mess by. The power of this track sets the tone for the album. “Day Drinkin’” and “Dance” will make you want to do both. Volume takes a back seat to the easy rhythms on these two songs which makes it irresistably inviting to follow the lyrics.

      “Carolina” was released as a single and became Parmalee’s first #1 hit. It has since been certified GOLD. The production here fits the feel of the song, making it the perfect choice as the title track of this album. The chorus on “Think You Oughta Know That” sounds like a power ballad and Matt Thomas is certainly capable of delivering that. The acoustic intro of the song builds beautifully into the heart-wrenching chorus and mimics the tug of heart strings the lyrics describe. Truly perfect production on this song! If there is such a thing as a country rock alternative ballad, “My Montgomery” is it. The sassy drumbeats and echo of the guitar that open this song give it a unique vibe that doesn’t fit neatly into a single genre, but whatever it is, it’s an original track that deserves a push of the repeat button.

      “Back in the Day” and “Already Callin’ You Mine” are fun songs to sing along to with great beats. “I’ll Bring the Music” could become their rock anthem. This song was meant to be played LOUD and with a lot of room to break the sound barrier. Stadium crowds will go nuts for this one and it might make a great song to open their set with someday. “Another Day Gone” brings the album to a close on a softer note than it opened but not without showcasing Matt’s vocal prowess in delivering the firm resolve needed to make these lyrics believeable. Looking back at the strength of the 12 tracks on this album, it’s hard to believe this is Parmalee’s debut. The experience they’ve gained over the years and the expertise brought to the production process by New Voice Entertainment has resulted in a killer first album that should launch these guys into the national spotlight.

      Now let’s get back to the image of that fast car. Just looking at it, you may underestimate the power it’s harnessing under that hood and the moves it’s capable of making. Listening to Parmalee on your ipod or at a small venue, you may do the same with them. The songs are great and the music still sounds good, but… The only song I haven’t mentioned on this album is the third track called “Move.” This is my personal favorite and every time I listened to it I felt the urge to turn up the volume. I have (had) a decent sound system at home and decided to take these guys out for a test drive to see just how much noise they could make. There’s a line in this song that says “Aw hell got the Jbl’s so loud you can’t think.” As irony would have it, this is the exact line on which my Jbl’s blew. Crackle, hiss, static…..oops! My husband had a different reaction to this experiment but I was thrilled to confirm my suspicions of how much power was in that song. It also strengthened my belief that Parmalee does not belong in small venues. Liken it to letting Motley Crue play at your child’s birthday party. Just shouldn’t happen!

      I’ll venture a guess that in the 13 years since they played their first gig they’ve logged more miles and played in more smoky bars than they can remember. They’ve overcome bigger obstacles and endured more adversity than any band should have to. 2014 looks like their year to step onto a bigger stage and show audiences what they can do. On tour with Jake Owen, they’ll get a chance to play some big venues that will do their sound justice. I would strongly encourage their management to invest in some powerful speakers to avoid a disastrous sound check. Feels Like Carolina has plenty of HP for them to hit the open road with and get those stadium crowds going from 0-60 in 2.4 – rain or shine. Aww…start it up!!

From WAYNorthofNashvilleBev Miskus

Bringing the stories of country music to life!






Close Your Eyes” is Parmalee’s new single! You can download it HERE through iTunes!!


Don’t miss Parmalee on the Days of Gold Tour with Jake Owen! It’s the hottest ticket of the summer! Click here to visit Parmalee’s website for tour info:

©2014Bev Miskus



    A few months ago, I went to a concert at a very small venue in Virginia. Arriving early, I had a chance to speak to the guy selling merchandise for the band. Nashville was the home base for these guys so I assumed he lived there. When he told me that he spends his off days working in Atlanta, I responded with, “Oh, so you’re from Georgia?” If looks could kill, I wouldn’t be writing this. You would have thought I’d insulted his mother in some way. His response was an icy stare and these words, “That’s an insult. I’m from South Carolina,” and to that he added “nothing good ever came out of Georgia.” Gasp! Well that was a shot from Fort Sumter I didn’t see coming! Trying to regain my wits, I stood there thinking – here I am, descended from Yankee soldiers, standing less than a hundred miles from Richmond (capital of the Confederacy), about to defend the great state of Georgia. This is gonna wake my ancestors from the dead.  Had Stonewall Jackson been there that night, I would have told him to hold my beer and watch this!!

     Clearly I was not in a position to ask him to step outside with me as any self-respecting Georgia boy would have done, so I quickly called to mind the ammunition I didn’t even know I was holding, backed him into a corner (thanking God for the 5” stilettos I was wearing that put me at eye level with him), and let him have it. In rapid fire succession, I proceeded to peal off the names of every Georgia-born country singer I could think of, surprising even myself with the abundance of names that were flying out of my mouth. He wasn’t impressed by this list and stood by his convictions, adding yet another derogatory comment about the quality of the names I’d offered. Lucky for him, someone interrupted this standoff and turned his attentions elsewhere. I left that encounter with a new appreciation of the way Georgia boys tend to handle these types of situations, when only a good butt kicking will do.

     Thinking about this little skirmish on the ride home that night, I went back over that list of Georgia-born country singers and wondered what it is about that state that seems to breed these guys like kudzu. Just in the country genre alone I had more than 30 names on this list. When I looked at hometowns, they’re spread out all over the state, so you can’t link all this talent to a particular local moonshine distillery. Something in the water maybe? Oh come on, Georgia boys don’t drink water! Most of them probably drank their baby formula mixed with whiskey. If you listen to the songs they sing, they talk a lot about back roads and the back pew, so maybe there’s something in the way they’re raised that brings out the singer/songwriter in so many of these guys. Looking for a commonality among them in the sound of their voices or singing styles, I couldn’t lump them all together here either.  

     As songwriters, they do tend to revert to the vernacular more than others in their use of local imagery, including the Georgia peach (referring to both fruit and girls), Georgia clay, tan-legged Georgia dream, Georgia pines, Georgia Bulldogs, and the ever-present big black jacked up truck. One of Georgia’s most prolific songwriting teams is a group of three guys who call themselves collectively The Peach Pickers. Legally they are Rhett Akins (Valdosta), Dallas Davidson (Albany), and Ben Hayslip (Evans). These guys seem to turn out hit songs on a weekly basis and the range in their songwriting styles is stunning. In looking at the names of country singers from Georgia, nearly every one of them is also a songwriter, and not just an occasional one. Many of them write or co-write every song on their albums. I have yet to figure out how these guys can write songs that touch on so many different genres, from country songs and party anthems to power ballads, rock songs, rap songs, and beautiful love songs. Regardless of genre, Georgia has given us some incredible songwriters. Johnny Mercer (Savannah) was a lyricist, songwriter, singer, and co-founder of Capitol Records. He wrote more than 1500 songs in his lifetime, mostly popular hits at the time, but he also wrote for movies and Broadway shows. He received 19 Academy Award nominations and won four of them for Best Original Song. The roots of Georgia songwriting run deep and the influences they write from are all over the musical map.

     Country music has taken on a new sound in recent years and part of the reason for that is the arrival of so many Georgia boys in Nashville. When these guys relocated, they brought a rich musical heritage with them. No matter where they grew up in the state, music was in the air and there was plenty to choose from. One of the earliest women to record country music, Roba Stanley (Dacula), grew up just east of Atlanta. Around this same time, the early 1900s, Ma Rainey was singing the blues in Columbus. She is considered the Mother of the Blues and her pioneering contributions to that genre echoed far and wide. She would become famous well outside her home state, even recording with the great Louis Armstrong. In 1990 she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the imprint she left on the Blues. On the opposite side of the state, born in Thomson, just west of Augusta, Blind Willie McTell would also leave his mark on the blues with his voice and his guitar playing. He was a recording phenom as a blues musician and his style would come to inspire future artists such as Bob Dylan and the Macon-based Allman Brothers Band. McTell’s song, “Statesboro Blues,” was famously covered by The Allman Brothers and is ranked as the ninth greatest guitar song of all time. Another gifted guitar player, Chet Atkins, spent part of his youth in Hamilton, just north of Columbus. It was there that he shaped his unique guitar playing style that would eventually put him on the list of greatest guitar players at #21. He is credited with creating a sound in country music in the late 50s called the Nashville Sound, which bridged a gap between country and pop music at that time. Early on in Georgia music history the framework was being laid for the groundbreaking contributions that would come from their homegrown musicians across multiple genres.

     The 50s and 60s would bring monumental changes to the music world with the birth of rock and soul music and many of the key players in this movement were Georgia born and raised. Between 1930 and 1944, Georgia birth certificates would bear the names of Ray Charles, Little Richard, Otis Redding, and Gladys Knight. Although born in South Carolina, James Brown moved to Augusta when he was just five years old and would spend much of his life in the state. He is often referred to as the “Godfather of Soul” and a founding father of funk music. Otis Redding, born in Dawson and raised in Macon, would leave his mark on soul music in the 60s, eventually being crowned the “King of Soul.” He is considered one of the greatest singers in popular music and his songwriting would land him in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He died in a plane crash in 1967 at the age of 26, just three days after recording one of his most famous hits, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” Following in the tradition of these soul pioneers, Gladys Knight, born in Oglethorpe, just east of Columbus, reigned in Motown and earned her title as the “Empress of Soul.” Little Richard, born in Macon, paved the way for future rockers with his flamboyant showmanship in the 50s and became part of the funk and soul revolution that swept the country in the 60s. Ray Charles, born in Albany, is ranked second on the list of greatest singers of all time and tenth on the list of greatest artists of all time. The barriers he broke both musically and socially in the 60s cast his legacy in stone. Long before this current group of Georgia-born country artists would storm Nashville, Ray Charles was considered a crossover success with the release of his two albums in 1962 – Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Vols. 1 and 2. This helped bring country music into the mainstream at that time. His version of Don Gibson’s “I Can’t Stop Loving You” hit #1 on the R & B charts in 1962 and stayed there for ten weeks. He was one of the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

     The 70s rolled in with a determination that rock and roll was here to stay. In addition to the legendary rock bands that were coming out of England at that time, southern rock bands were making their own brand of rock music and the Macon-based Allman Brothers Band was at the forefront of that genre. The success they were able to achieve made it possible for the likes of The Marshall Tucker Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Black Crowes (Marietta), and many others to find an audience outside of the region and make a name for themselves on a national stage. Duane Allman was a co-founder and lead guitarist of the Allman Brothers Band. He died at the age of just 24 in a motorcycle accident in Macon, but not before he would leave his mark with his skill on slide guitar. In 2003, Rolling Stone would rank his guitar playing second only to Jimi Hendrix. The most recent rankings have him as the ninth greatest guitar player of all time. When hip hop and rap music exploded in the 80s and 90s, Atlanta became a hot bed for these artists and their producers. Many who would become major players in that genre moved to Atlanta and contributed to the hip hop innovation that developed there. This melting pot of styles pushed the sound of hip hop forward and launched the careers of Ludacris, T.I., Usher, Toni Braxton, TLC, and so many others. So So Def Records, founded by Jermaine Dupri, and LaFace Records, founded by L.A. Reid and Babyface, made their home base Atlanta and were largely responsible for the distribution of urban music that came out of this region in the 80s and 90s. To the east of Atlanta, in Athens, home to the University of Georgia, alternative rock bands found a nurturing environment in this college town. The B-52′s, R.E.M., and Widespread Panic all got their start in Athens and put this city on the map of places to find great alternative music. In the suburbs of Atlanta, alternative bands Collective Soul and the Indigo Girls also found an inspiring place to make their music.

     Georgia has proven itself a breeding ground for talented artists who push the boundaries in their respective genres of music and sometimes create sounds that are entirely new. Nowhere is this more evident than in the albums coming out of Nashville recently. Within the last decade, country artists from Georgia have taken the risk of incorporating some of the musical influences of their youth into their work, regardless of genre. Colt Ford (Athens) introduced us to country with a hint of rap mixed in and opened the door for others to explore the possibilities of mixing traditional country sounds with the rhythms of rap. Several of today’s most successful artists from Georgia have infused a rock edge into their brand of country music that reflects some of the southern rock they grew up on. The current class of country superstars from Georgia grew up shuffling their ipods long before there was such a thing. Mix tapes were cool and perhaps planted the seeds for what would grow into albums that often sound like those experimental mixes that rocked the bonfires and back roads. Diversity is their hallmark and every album they make reflects that.

     With so much musical diversity residing in one state and the abundance of pioneering musicians that Georgia has produced, you would think there should be some statewide recognition of this. Well, the fact is, there was. The Georgia Music Hall of Fame was located in downtown Macon from 1996-2011. It housed a collection of items relevant to their music history, special exhibitions, an education outreach program, and a space for performances. The idea for this was hatched in 1979 by the Georgia General Assembly and pushed forward by the vision of then Lt. Governor Zell Miller. It would be 1990 before the framework was in place to construct and maintain this facility. The building was constructed in two phases with the first phase opening in 1996 and the second in 1999. Just 12 years after construction was completed, this long overdue museum would close due to low attendance and reduced state funding. The exhibition pieces are now being housed at three different state universities and in private collections. Geographically and musically, Macon is the magnetic center of Georgia and home to Little Richard, Otis Redding, The Allman Brothers Band, and Jason Aldean. It lies just 80 miles south of Atlanta and 90 miles south of Athens, the other two music epicenters of Georgia. Based on its music history, accessibility within the state, and cost of construction, this choice would seem logical. However, viability became an issue in the early years of the new millennium due to the economic downturn and a stagnant tourism industry. The Georgia Music Hall of Fame fell victim to outside circumstances and was forced to close its doors. Mercer University has since purchased the building.

     March 7th marks the 35th anniversary of that day back in 1979 when Ray Charles performed his classic song, “Georgia On My Mind,” in front of the Georgia General Assembly. After that performance, the connection to the state was made official. The following month, on April 24, “Georgia On My Mind” was adopted as the state song. It seems a shame that such an important part of our musical heritage is no longer on display in one location to honor these artists for their invaluable contributions to music and inspire future generations. Personally, I think this is a wrong that needs to be made right again. The value of music cannot be overstated and funding for music programs is being cut at both the federal and state levels. This could be a golden opportunity to showcase what Georgians have meant to music’s history in a state of the art exhibition that is interactive, educational, and performance-related. Location is key and corporate sponsorship is a necessity. Artist involvement from all genres of music is also vital to the success of the project. For over a hundred years Georgia-born musicians have made music in ways no one had before. They are now a part of America’s music history and they deserve a national spotlight that shines from within Georgia’s borders. I still don’t have the answer as to why so many Georgia natives have the gift of music in their blood, but I’m thankful for their talents every time I turn on the radio or listen to my ipod. If I were less determined, I could be content with the earful I gave that ill-informed boy from South Carolina, but I’d rather settle this by getting the Georgia Music Hall of Fame reinvented and reopened so there will be a permanent location, say in Atlanta, where he can see and hear some of the good things that have come out of Georgia. Maybe his part-time job will be located nearby, close enough for him to hear this refrain… Georgia, Georgia/The whole day through/Just an old sweet song/Keeps Georgia on my mind.

     From WAY North of Nashville…..Bev Miskus

Ray Charles died June 10, 2004. The 2005 Grammy Awards were dedicated to him. This video clip shows Alicia Keys and Jamie Foxx with Quincy Jones conducting the orchestra in their rendition of “Georgia On My Mind.”

©2014Bev Miskus



I HOLD ON” is a CMA nominated Song of the Year!

Songwriters: Brett James and Dierks Bentley

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

      Sometimes it’s hard to bridge that gap between being young and, well, not so young, but if there’s one thing that can cause trouble at any age, it’s getting out of bed. The reasons vary but inertia is an equalizer. Music is another source of common ground for people of all ages with the only difference being how we relate to it. Dierks Bentley’s new album, Riser, dropped with a purpose. The title alone tells me that Dierks didn’t roll out of bed with a hangover for this one; he got out of bed with a purpose, because there were some things he needed to do.

      It appears Dierks has hit that age where he’s seen that life can sometimes get in the way of your dreams and the paths you take may not be where you thought you were going. Riser is a passport to a musical journey that adults can relate to. In a world obsessed with youth and money, this album is about real life. Once those birthday candles start adding up and you realize that not every day is a party, music can still provide whatever pick-me-up you need that day. The songs on this album are sometimes fun and light-hearted, sometimes thoughtful and heavy. Each one is likely to strike a chord somewhere and have you reaching for the repeat button.

      “Bourbon In Kentucky” is not a drinking song; it’s a song to drown your sorrows by. With a little help from Kacey Musgraves, this one is a pour your heart out downpour. It’s a validation that sometimes life hurts and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it except to ride it out and find whatever helps you do that. “Say You Do” is one of those escape from life songs when you just want someone to tell you what you want to hear, even if it’s not the truth. Even adults need a bedtime fairy tale every now and again. “I Hold On” is an autobiography set to music. It’s an impassioned ode to what’s important in life and the reasons we hold on to those things. In these first three songs, Dierks gives us the passion your heart feels when life gets rough and his vocal on these puts the exclamation point on that passion.

      “Pretty Girls” and “Here On Earth” offer more of a reflective melody that plays in the back of your mind whether you’re remembering good times or trying to figure out what it all means. “Here On Earth” is an impassioned plea for an answer Dierks already knows he isn’t going to get. The vocal grit on this one drives home the helplessness we’ve all felt when things happen that defy reason. “Drunk On A Plane” is a much needed respite from life’s troubles when you know alcohol won’t solve the problem but it sure feels good going down. The turbulence Dierks creates on this flight makes the idea of a 737 “rockin’ like a G6” sound like fun!

      The vibe of the next three songs is an upbeat, determined resolution. “Five” and “Riser” are defy the  odds, try and stop me anthems. They’re not heavy-handed, get loud, thump your chest rock anthems, but the fire in the determination to conquer whatever life throws at you comes through in the lyrics and the vocals. “Riser” is the phoenix of this album. Whether you’ve taken a tumble from some of life’s high moments or you’re trying to resurrect yourself from the ashes, this song will see you through. The strength of this vocal gives anyone who listens to it the feeling that no trouble in life is insurmountable. Dierks is everyman in this song and it provides a pinnacle of relatability. “Sounds Of Summer” is a touch of nostalgia for everyone. As winter drags on and we long for those hot days of summer, this song reminds us of what we’re missing. There’s a reverie to the sound of it which makes you look back on the summers of your youth and at the same time look forward to the things summer brings at any age.

      “Damn These Dreams” is a reality check. This one makes you question the choices you’ve made in life against the responsibilites that are ever-present. The mantra of youth is to follow your dreams. In adulthood, it becomes a balancing act. Again, the vocal here makes this song the powerful track that it is. The push and pull Dierks describes here is evident in the way he delivers this one from the heart. The impact of these lyrics would be irrelevant if the singer wasn’t truly connected to the song. It appears this one haunts Dierks every time he walks out the door and every other parent who has experienced this same struggle. “Back Porch” is a cold beer on a hot day. It’s cheap entertainment on a suburban street or at a country farmhouse. It’s a reminder that the best things in life are BYOB. “Hurt Somebody” reminds us that life isn’t always simple and sometimes we’re going to make choices we probably shouldn’t. Just like that old truck Dierks holds on to, you have to have some miles on you to understand what this one’s all about. It may not make sense to anyone else but life is like that sometimes.

      It seems everything is marketed for youth these days. The targeted demographic is often 18-29 year olds. The music industry seems especially adherent to this practice. Radio stations, record labels and retail outlets will do anything to reign in that consumer group as if they alone drive the global economy. Everyone falls into that age range at some point and then you come out on the other side and find out that life doesn’t end at 30. Depending on how you look at it, life can get more interesting and/or complicated after 30, but the adventure continues and so does consumer spending. Your taste in music may change but love of music lasts a lifetime. The songs you loved growing up will always stay with you but it’s important to have songs that resonate at each stage of life. Bucking this trend of playing to the targeted audience is a very adult thing to do. Dierks Bentley isn’t 29 anymore and he sings with the voice of experience now. You can listen to the songs on this album in order or hit shuffle on your ipod. Life isn’t always predictable and the songs here reflect that. If there’s an advantage to getting older, it’s that we get to appreciate albums like this knowing what it took to make them. Riser is a superb effort by Dierks Bentley and one that might just earn him a Grammy. How nice it would be for his dad to see him holding on to that.

FromWAYNorthofNashville……Bev Miskus

Bringing the stories of country music to life!

RISER is a CMA nominated Album of the Year! To preview and purchase the album through iTunes, click HERE


RIGHT NOW on iTunes, RISER IS JUST $7.99!! That is a steal of a deal on this award winning album!! Don’t forget, you can gift these to people too!!


DRUNK ON A PLANE” is a CMA nominated Single of the Year!

Download the song through iTunes:  HERE


Drunk on a Plane” is a CMA nominated Video of the Year! WATCH!!

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©2014Bev Miskus