Monthly Archives: September 2014



     A lot of topics in country music give rise to debate. When it’s award season, Entertainer of the Year provokes the most heated discussions. This seems to be the one people are most passionate about. When the nominees are announced, PAISLEY, BRAD - MOONSHINE IN THE TRUNKthere are the usual gasps at who made the list and who didn’t. The night of the awards ceremony, when the winner is revealed, will either be considered a coronation of the deserving nominee or a WTF were they thinking moment of dismay amongst fans. When I ask who the best are in concert, I hear the same names repeatedly. Some I’ve seen. Some I haven’t. Brad Paisley had been on my radar for awhile. I was intrigued by what I thought he was capable of and just what he might do at a live show. When he announced the title of his new album, Moonshine In The Trunk, my curiosity was piqued. Adding DEE JAY SILVER to the tour, sealed the deal. I had no idea what to expect from a BRAD PAISLEY concert and the date I selected made it even more uncertain. September 20 at JIFFY LUBE LIVE in Bristow, VA, was the last US stop on his COUNTRY NATION WORLD TOUR. Being such, I knew it would be a prank filled night where even he couldn’t predict what might happen.


     The only time BRAD PAISLEY has won CMA ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR was in 2010. The devastating flood in Nashville earlier that year had wiped out much of what was needed to start his summer tour. With the help of his crew, they pulled things together and went out as scheduled. He dedicated the win to his crew for their efforts, not something I’ve heard anyone else do. “This Is Country Music” was his featured song that night. It was new and hadn’t been PAISLEY, BRAD - THIS IS COUNTRY MUSICreleased yet. He called it a love song for his fans and the industry who allow him to do what he loves and make music people can relate to. Leaving the show Saturday night, thinking about what summed up the evening, that is the song that stuck with me. From the opening acts to Brad’s encore, it was a night of country music as wild and free as you can imagine. Innovative, current, relative, yet true to the roots of the genre, it was a concert event unlike any I’d ever seen.

     Waiting for the gates to open before the show, I was standing in line with a friend who, like me, was a rock girl at heart. Country concerts are a very new thing for us and we were discussing with others Brad’s guitar skills versus say Slash or Eric Clapton. It was generally agreed upon that Brad and Keith PAISLEY, BRAD - COUNTRY NATION TOUR POSTERUrban were two of the best country music had to offer. Could they hold their own with some of rock’s greatest guitar heroes? I’d seen Slash perform just two weeks earlier at this same venue when he opened for Aerosmith. Perhaps some of the lingering aura would settle on Brad’s guitar tonight. It was to be a jam packed show with three opening acts and the incomparable, DEE JAY SILVER, entertaining us between them. CHARLIE WORSHAM, Leah Turner, and RANDY HOUSER were all part of the COUNTRY NATION WORLD TOUR.

     I went into this concert knowing that the opening acts would be solid if they were on the road with Brad Paisley, and they did not disappoint! CHARLIE WORSHAM has to be one of the most talented artists to ever open on a major tour. What he brings to the concert stage is better than what I’ve seen from PAISLEY, BRAD - WORSHAM, CHARLIEsome headliners. His voice is rock solid. He establishes a rapport with the audience the moment he steps on stage. His musicianship is off the charts astounding, and his stage presence is magnetic. It didn’t matter if you knew any of his songs, he captivated with sheer talent. I believe he changed instruments on every song, and I’m not just talking about the color of the guitar. He was like watching a pinball that was shot onto the stage with a force you weren’t expecting, and for the length of his set, he stayed in play no matter what obstacles were thrown at him…and there were obstacles. Being the last night of the tour, pranks were inevitable. He and his band members were teepeed (yep, wrapped in toilet paper by crew members WHILE PLAYING) multiple times. Charlie was slapped on the back, mid-song, enduring the installation of a “KICK ME AGAIN” sign on his back. At one point, he took off, WORSHAM, CHARLIE - RUBBERBANDrunning through the aisles of the venue while playing a guitar and singing the entire trip. He interacted with the fans in the pit and never broke his connection to the audience, come what may. The last song of his set was the title track from his debut album, Rubberband. Now I want you to think for a moment about Brad Paisley’s sense of humor. What do you think might have happened to Charlie while playing a song called “Rubberband? That’s way too easy. Yes, he was bombarded by rubberbands from seemingly every crew member Brad could muster. It was a Yankee ambush on a Mississippi born Rebel. But the unflappable Charlie Worsham left the fans with an indelible impression. He ROCKED “Rubberband” instrumentally, vocally, and performance-wise. What a set! And his band gave an outstanding performance despite being tortured throughout. Charlie Worsham should not be Nashville’s best kept secret.  This young Rebel just took the Union capital with a rubberband.

     Leah Turner wasn’t added to this tour just to fill a gender gap. The girl can sing! There’s an obvious strength in her presence on the stage that warns you not to take her lightly before she’s had a chance to show you what she’s got. Leah is no shrinking violet. Her set was full of songs that showcased her vocal grit and the powerful emotion she brings to a song. If something is tugging at TURNER, LEAH - EPher heart strings, you’re going to feel it too. If she’s in love, she’ll sweep you up in the moment. If she’s pissed, stand back, or at the very least, get out of her way. She has two singles off her new EP, “Take the Keys” and “Pull Me Back,” which both require an emotional connection to breathe life into the lyrics. The grit in Leah’s voice seems to pull her vocals from the depths of her soul. Her mature sound defies her youth, making you forget she hasn’t yet lived a full life. What I loved about Leah’s performance was the straight forward approach she took to the music. She was there to wow the audience with her singing. Period. There was nothing contrived about her image or how she performed. Her spotlight prank of the evening came during one of her most powerful songs. She covered the Dixie PAISLEY, BRAD - LEAH TURNER SOLOChicks’ “Cowboy Take Me Away,” during which she was literally taken away on the arms of Randy Houser’s band mates (all wearing cowboy hats of course). While being carried like a sacrificial offering, she still managed to sing the song and made every attempt not to lose eye contact with the audience. Leah keeping her composure during this physical interruption to her song was only part of why I was impressed with her. It’s been a very long time since I heard anyone cover a Dixie Chicks song. This tells me that Leah Turner is her own woman and refuses to be a cookie cutter version of anything. The last song on her EP, and one she performed, is called “My Finger.” Should you need any further convincing of her straight forward character, download this song. It was an empowering lyrical manifesto explaining what she will and will not put up with in a relationship and one that had the audience cheering her on. We may not have known what was coming when Leah took the stage, but there was no need to ask for ID when she left. Leah Turner. Damn straight.

     When RANDY HOUSER takes the stage, you’ll know it. He does not come quietly into his set, nor does the outstanding band he has backing him PAISLEY, BRAD - RANDY HOUSER'S DRUMMER - KEVIN MURPHYup. Besides Randy’s commanding presence on the stage, I couldn’t help but notice his drummer, Kevin Murphy. From the outset, these two were like a one-two punch. The enormous sound coming from the stage had me wondering if they’d set those amps on Appetite For Destruction instead of How Country Feels. And this was not a temporary moment of sound eruption. They played like Guns ‘N Roses blazing the entire set. Lights flashing, drums pounding, guitars rockin’, and Randy’s big voice leading this barrage of sight and sound ammunition. Had we HOUSER, RANDY - HOW COUNTRY FEELSbeen paying attention in 2010, he warned us, “I ain’t just Whistlin’ Dixie.” Well that ain’t no lie! Randy’s set included all of his big hits and he was definitely no stranger to the crowd. He has a classic country voice with a rock star projection. When he goes for that big emotional note, hold on! Jiffy Lube Live lit up with the power he mustered and reverberated from the excitement of having a guy “goin’ out with his Boots On” leave a wake. His new single, “Like a Cowboy,” is a power ballad, and was expected to be an emotional moment in his set. Naturally, this would be where Brad would provide some comic relief. Rather than having Randy sing this heart wrencher to a woman, a man in a wheelchair, wearing a cowboy hat, holding red flowers, was wheeled onto the stage at the beginning of the song. I never quite got the significance of this other than to completely throw Randy off his game on this one. Nice try, but he held it together, for the most part. I was told, just prior to Randy’s set, that he would be my new favorite country singer after hearing him tonight. If this is “How Country Feels” with Randy Houser on stage, sign me up for the fan club!


     Typically, between acts, the venue will play some preset music over the sound system and everyone will go about their business. Fortunately for us, Brad Paisley had DEE JAY SILVER on tour with him. Most people in the audience PAISLEY, BRAD - DEE JAY SILVERseemed to know who he was. When it was announced that he would be providing the music between acts, women stood up to dance. His job is to become a musical amphetamine. He selects songs that are addictive, mood-altering, and stimulating, thereby keeping our attention in focus and preventing us from falling asleep. He is a master at what he does and makes it look effortless. By the time that headliner is stage ready, fans may wish to hold him back for a moment, or at least until that AC/DC song Dee Jay Silver is playing is over. That’s when you know you have a good Dee Jay in the house…when HE becomes a show stopper.

     You’re not supposed to put Mountaineers (Big 12)

and Volunteers (SEC) together, in a song

And tellin’ folks we’re one big “Country Nation

Can rub ‘em wrong

It ain’t hip to sing “Moonshine In The Trunk” and “Alcohol

Near Westboro Baptist

Yeah that might be true

But “This Is Country Music”…..and you never know what Brad will do


     For those of us who grew up on Saturday Night Live from its inception, there were seven words we looked forward to hearing every weekend….LIVE FROM NEW YORK, IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT! This marked the beginning of the best LIVE 90 minutes on television. It contained some of the best pranks, parodies, and live music you’d ever see on an “American Saturday Night.” If you took the components of that show, added a double shot of musicianship along with aPAISLEY, BRAD - AMERICAN SATURDAY NIGHT generous portion of country music roots and a twist of “Limes,” put it all in a blender and let it rip, what you’d be sippin’ on is BRAD PAISLEY LIVE! Even his entrance onto the stage served to “Remind Me” of the unassuming way that show used to start. Brad didn’t drop from the ceiling, rise from the floor, or exit Air Force One in a grand show of  “Celebrity,” (actually, that kind of happened but, shh…security here is VERY excitable!). The lights went down…and he walked on stage. No cliché pyrotechnics or flames needed to kick this show off. What ignited this night of music was “Moonshine In The Trunk.”

Well, you like to play a prank or two

On tour, and delight the crowd

Are you thinkin’ your opening acts would love to get you back

But don’t know how?

Do you wish your tour mates had the nerve

To show that childish boss of theirs

That payback is on their minds too

Well, this is the last night of the tour, and they do


     Only Brad Paisley could write a song called “Ticks” and turn it into a hit. The silliness of this song proved the perfect opportunity for his tour mates to get a little payback. I’m sure Brad was expecting some sort of barrage for all the unanswered shots he’d fired, so when his companions on tour made their move, PAISLEY, BRAD - TICKSthey brought the cavalry. Silly string was flying, and suddenly there were a lot of people on stage trying to pull off their version of Punk’d. Crew members appeared on the risers like holograms of guitar heroes. Each band member had a twin trying to engage them in a game of shadowboxing with instruments, and someone had the all important responsibility of disrupting the king himself. As expected, the master did not fall for this and finished the song as if nothing more problematic than a tick had crawled up his arm. He apologized for the “silliness” that went on during that song as if scoffing at their childish ways. Truthfully, he was probably a proud papa after this attempt thinking, my work here is done.

     Brad’s set included 22 songs. He’s got a huge catalog to choose from and an infinite number of ways to stage them. What he did was use a bit of nostalgia to showcase this incredible night of music. If you see Brad Paisley do a single performance or hear one of his songs on the radio, it will not do justice to the artist and entertainer he is. Sit through a concert and I guarantee, you’ll be PAISLEY, BRAD - WHEELHOUSEback. His set design was simple, yet high tech enough to accommodate 3D looking graphics and the appearance of throwback home movies. Throughout the show, the images on the big screen, located directly behind center stage, played like a film we’d come to see with a soundtrack that was Grammy worthy. Some of these images were taken from his videos and others were newly filmed. “American Saturday Night” and “Southern Comfort Zone” are both big sound songs with geographically diverse images illustrating our world connections. Brad’s guitar playing, along with the phenomenal talent of his backing band, was as big as the world we were looking at. These two songs played consecutively made us feel like we were standing on top of the Eiffel Tower looking down on Times Square. Cue the big guitar and church choir!

(Photo of Brad Paisley courtesy of 90 East Photography, Art of Reflection By Bill)

 So turn it on, turn it up and sing along

This is real, this is your life in a song

Yeah this is country music

     The next three songs in Brad’s set directed our focus to what was playing on the screen behind him. The video for “Waitin’ On a Woman” features Andy PAISLEY, BRAD - WITH ANDY GRIFFITHGriffith talking to him about the virtues of doing just that. The interplay between the two was brought to life on stage with an emphasis on the music track. At the end of the song, acknowledging the passing of that television icon, Brad tipped his hat towards the image on the screen. This would be the first of many acts of gratitude throughout the show. “Celebrity” brought to the screen the night’s first glimpse of a character I can best describe as Brad’s bobblehead twin. His gigantic head doesn’t exactly PAISLEY, BRAD - BOBBLEHEAD BRADbob, but proportionally, the image suits. I have to believe the size of the head piece worn signifies the ego that often comes with celebrity. In one scene, Brad’s bobblehead wore a nude colored body suit, cowboy hat, and boots while swinging on a wrecking ball. Fully appreciating the parody of this, the audience laughed at the many outlandish stunts this ego driven bobblehead would try in this ode to adios reality. Perhaps because he followed that example of what not to emulate with “This Is Country Music,” it seemed to be a tribute to the legends of country music who Brad so obviously respects. Like something you’d see at the Country Music Hall of Fame, a highlight reel of country greats provided the back drop for this moving song. Seeing who was included in this montage spoke volumes about PAISLEY, BRAD - THIS IS COUNTRY MUSIC BACK DROPwhere Brad gets his inspiration from and his nod to George Jones (again with the tip of his hat), showed the humility he feels in their presence. Part of the lyrics to this song talk about serving one’s country and the devastation felt when you get the phone call no one wants to answer. Brad’s respect for the military and all those who serve is well known. This concert venue sits in what locals consider part of the suburbia of Washington DC and draws from all of the surrounding states. We have a high concentration of military members here and many were in the audience for this show. When the flag flies in the image on screen, the pride of patriotism ripples through the crowd and manifests itself in a loud ovation. This song was a defining moment in the show and one that left the fans beaming with pride over an artist who truly connects with his fans. As concert moments go, they don’t come any better than this.

Are you haunted by the stories of those nurses

At Bull Run?

Cryin’ as they lose another patient

To a soldier’s gun?

And if there’s anyone that still

has pride and the memory of those

that died just five miles from the site of this venue

This is Virginia…and we do

     Whether it’s a lighthearted, playful song, or a serious power ballad, Brad sings a lot about his love for a woman. The next seven songs of the evening were devoted to just that topic. “I’m Still a Guy” has huge appeal for the male fans in PAISLEY, BRAD - I'M STILL A GUYthe audience who more than applauded this musical defense of their actions. Appealing to the females in  attendance, he poured his heart out in “She’s Everything.” In addition to the tremendous vocal performance he gives on this song, his heart strings play their love song on his guitar strings and you can’t help but feel his passion for both the girl and the music. Last summer’s seasonal hit song, “Beat This Summer,” was illustrated through images in a View-Master. PAISLEY, BRAD - VINTAGE VIEW-MASTERSome of us are old enough to remember the original version of this toy that came with images on a paper wheel that was inserted into the “camera.” A slide show was presented by clicking the button on the side continuously. This was an awesome nostalgic touch to the set. He continued framing the evening with “The Mona Lisa” and “Then” turned our attention towards the back of the amphitheater for the night’s Kodak moment. He made his way to a platform located behind the last PAISLEY, BRAD - THEN LYRICSof the seats, just below the crowd gathered on the lawn. He introduced the song by saying if you’d come to make out with someone tonight, this would be your best chance. Part way through the song he stopped to allow a guy and his girlfriend to join him in the spotlight. It didn’t take long to figure out where this was going. Brad called attention to his military service in Iraq and gave him the floor to propose to his unsuspecting girlfriend. She said yes, Brad congratulated them, and finished the song. Is there any doubt what their first dance will be?

So turn it on, turn it up and sing along

This is real, this is your life in a song

Just like those country roads, take me home

To the place I belong…

West Virginia


     Finished with the sentimental portion of the show, it was time to get a little “Mud On the Tires.” You cannot call it a country concert if there isn’t at least PAISLEY, BRAD - MUD ON THE TIRESone ode to trucks and mud. You’re going to have to drive a ways to get mud on your tires in the DC area, but based on the pick ups in the parking lot that night, clearly there were some experienced fans among us. It wasn’t hard to guess that where there’s mud, there’s water. Brad didn’t bring just ordinary H2O to the stage; he brought the “Perfect Storm.” This is his latest single off Moonshine In The Trunk and it is an absolute stunner. Crashing waves and lightning enveloped the screen as Brad’s soaring vocal on this matched power with the awesome storm we PAISLEY, BRAD - PERFECT STORMwitnessed. If they awarded standout concert moments that matched a powerful song to its staging, this would be a winner without question. Like the calm after the storm, we emerged from that force of nature to sunshine and “Water.” This song played out in home movies on the big screen of people of all ages enjoying summer’s most essential element. To illustrate just how important water is to our headliner, he testified in song. “I’m Gonna Miss Her” gave Brad a chance to ham it up over his decision to choose fishing over a woman. The men in the audience weren’t shy about their approval.

    What happened next I’d heard rumors of but wasn’t sure how exactly Brad would include such a rock divergence into his This Is Country Music set. As I said earlier, nostalgia was in the air. Darkening the front part of the stage, our attention was diverted to the two risen platforms at the back of the set. Brad appeared on one and DEE JAY SILVER was on the other. Consider this the PAISLEY, BRAD - ADDS SILVER TO TOURlive version of Guitar Hero. Dee Jay Silver picked the challenging riffs and Brad had to answer. This was sweet satisfaction for those of us whose wheelhouse rocks. Playing to my heart’s desire, my favorite dee jay threw AC/DC and GNR Brad’s way. Just two weeks earlier, Slash himself had stood on that stage not far from where Brad was playing. When he launched into the opening riff of “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” the rock angels did sing. But don’t let Brad’s country picking fingers fool you. Apparently, he’s spent more than a few hours in his room practicing this riff, so feel free to crush it Brad, you nailed it! To further PAISLEY, BRAD - BEN SESAR DRUMMERappease us throwback rock lovers, he then came down onto the stage and took us back to 1984, channeling his inner Eddie Van Halen. Say what you will about country bands, but this one ROCKED “Hot For Teacher.” And this was no karaoke version. His drummer, Ben Sesar, did a KILLER drum solo on this and his fiddle player – yes, I said FIDDLE PLAYER (whose name I sadly don’t know), was bad ass on this song! When this one was over, Brad’s guitar was seriously overheated.


  (Photo of Brad Paisley courtesy of 90 East Photography, Art of Reflection By Bill)

      Recharged from our rock interlude, it was time to play me some Old Alabama.” This one is full of old school country and a nice tribute to an iconic country band. Carrie Underwood appeared via hologram to assist with their PAISLEY, BRAD - OLD ALABAMAhit duet, “ Remind Me,” which would be the last of the serious song moments for the evening. His regular set ended with this summer’s smash hit, “River Bank.” The water skiing squirrel made an appearance on the big screen for this one and it was a fun way to bring the summer to a close. Brad made his way to the raised platform for the end of this one and thanked the fans for all their support. It was PAISLEY, BRAD - RIVER BANKobvious from the way he looked out over the audience that he was taking in the moment and that his thanks was genuine and heartfelt. The platform on which he was standing had turned into a pool of sorts (think dunk tank) and he jumped in to exit the stage, appearing to swim away. The crowd applauded and whistled their approval of the evening’s entertainer, knowing full well he’d be back. Inviting everyone backstage, including his bobblehead, he reappeared PAISLEY, BRAD - ALCOHOL LYRICSwith an entourage and a cart full of shots. The soundtrack for this finale would be, of course, “Alcohol.” All of the crew and the opening acts took part in this toast to a great tour. Shots were also shared with some of the lucky few in the pit area. Despite the celebration surrounding him, Brad continued playing, giving it his all to the very end – as did his band. Somehow I missed the partial unrobing of his drummer in all of this commotion. At the end of the song, he was suddenly bare chested. I learned later that Randy Houser’s drummer was responsible for this. All’s fair the last night of the tour I guess!

This is country music

This is country music

    Looking at the fans filing in for this concert, it was a cross section of America. There were families and young adults, corporate execs and farmers, grandparents with their grandchildren. Brad’s home state of West Virginia was PAISLEY, BRAD - WVUwell represented in their blue and gold Mountaineer sportswear. He appeals to all of these people. He puts on a show that everyone can enjoy and he does it with a big dose of humor, expert musicianship, and a healthy dose of humility and appreciation for his fans. His rapport with the audience is everyday man. He signs things handed to him, gave a signed guitar to a young child, accepted flowers from a fan, made a video on someone’s cell phone, and asked about the WVU game that was in progress during showtime (they were losing). I’m always impressed when a headliner with Brad’s reputation and expert musical skills takes the stage like he’s just another guy who plays guitar. The only pyrotechnics he needs come from his fingers touching the guitar strings. It’s cool and it’s classy. Everyone leaving this show PAISLEY, BRAD - CMA FEST - BILL'S PICS 3left with a smile on their face. From the opening act to Brad’s encore, every part of this concert event left an impression on the audience. It was a display of truly excellent musicianship, not only from the artists, but their bands as well, presented in a way that was engaging and entertaining. I’ve often wondered about the CMA process for nominating artists for Entertainer of the Year. Living in the nation’s capital, we recognize politics when we see it and it PAISLEY, BRAD - CMA FEST - BILL'S PICS 4appears Nashville is no stranger to its ways. If the nomination process and subsequent winner was based on a fan vote, it would be more representative of what the award stands for. How can you judge someone’s entertainment value if you haven’t been to one of their shows? Sometimes the people I expect to blow me away, don’t. Other times, I go with few expectations and leave so impressed I can’t wait to see them again. Two things are absolute at a Brad Paisley concert – This Is Country Music and Alcohol. Across our Country Nation, that’s a winner!

(Photos of Brad Paisley courtesy of 90 East Photography, Art of Reflection By Bill)

From WAYNorthof Nashvillepart of one big Country NationBev Miskus

The featured black and white photograph and others noted throughout the article are courtesy of 90 East Photography, Art of Reflection By Bill. For professional inquiries and to view more of his acclaimed photos, visit his website:


Brad Paisley, 2010 CMA Entertainer of the Year

Whiskey Lullaby

(This is country music)

The World

(This is country music)

Little Moments

(This is country music)


(This is country music)

Anything Like Me

(This is country music)

Little Moments

(This is country music)

Welcome to the Future

(This is country music)

Outstanding In Our Field


Visit Brad Paisley’s website:


Moonshine In The Trunk is available through iTunes: HERE


Visit Randy Houser’s website:


How Country Feels is available through iTunes: HERE


Visit Leah Turner’s website:


Leah Turner – EP is available through iTunes: HERE


Visit Charlie Worsham’s website:


Rubberband is available through iTunes: HERE


Visit Dee Jay Silver’s website:


Country Club – EP is available through iTunes: HERE




To find out more about country music’s HOTTEST DEE JAY, read my interview with Nashville’s DEE JAY SILVER

©2014Bev Miskus


DAN WELLER @FGL #musician #MasterofBandAdmin



Download the song through iTunes: HERE

DAN WELLER demos how to Maximize your Band’s Assets

     Brad Paisley and Keith Urban teamed up a few years ago to offer their advice on how to Start A Band.Let’s see what they had to say.Just get you a guitar and learn how to play/Cut up some jeans, come up PAISLEY, BRAD - START A BANDwith a name/When you’re living in a world that you don’t understand/Find a few good buddies, start a band.Sounds easy enough. Is there anything else we need?Scrape up some money, buy a van/Learn Free Bird and Ramblin’ Man.Is that it?Grow out your hair.Got it. Now if we do all of these things, what can we expect in return for our investment?All those girls who were too cool to talk WELLER, DAN - START A BAND CHORUS LYRICSto/They’ll be waiting in the line out back/Might get your picture in the hometown paper/Maybe buy your momma that Cadillac.Really?Never buy another beer again.Awesome!With a little bit of luck you’ll be packing the stands.Wow!No need to study/Call up some buddies man, start a band.Does this sound like good advice? Let’s ask Florida Georgia Line band member, Dan Weller. Why? What makes him qualified to hand out advice about the music business? A whole lot more than the stereotype would infer.


     Dan Weller is currently on tour with Florida Georgia Line. His job description involves playing keys, banjo, acoustic, and singing harmonies on all the songs. His audition did not require submitting a formal resume. If it had, you WELLER, DAN - FGL ALBUM COVERwouldn’t be surprised he got the job. What would shock you, is the calculated path he took to his current success. Dan was born in Wichita and raised in Hays, Kansas. He wasn’t a child musical prodigy and did not opt for an early exit from school to start a band and pursue a career in music. Those things would come later. When he was six or seven, he took an interest in his dad’s full size classical guitar. At the time, he said it was bigger than he was. With his oversized intentions and a book, he taught himself to play some chords. Nearby, at Fort Hays State University, there was a grad student there named Mark Selby. He WELLER, DAN - FHSU LOGOtaught private lessons while attending grad school and pursuing his own musical interests as well as an advanced degree in music. At eight, Dan was fortunate to get to work with someone of Mark’s caliber. After Mark graduated, Dan began taking lessons from Mark’s college instructor, Dr. Martin Shapiro. Being exposed to the possibilities in higher learning, Dan took advantage of the opportunities he found there. By 8th grade, he’d started taking college courses.


     By high school, Dan was intoxicated…..with higher learning and broadening his musical experiences. Sophomore year, he took his guitar playing skills to new audiences. He played both acoustic and electric guitar in the pit for musicals at the university and was eventually invited to audition for the FHSU Jazz Ensemble. Throughout his remaining high school years, he continued this relationship with the university music program and took courses there to WELLER, DAN - STRIPED SHIRTsupplement his high school curriculum. Looking back at the advice Brad and Keith gave us on starting a band, Dan put his own twist on this endeavor; he started a band AND stayed in school. Around 16, honing his electric guitar skills, he joined a band with other classmates called Broken Promises. So let’s see how he’s doing. He has the guitar/learned how to play/not sure if he cut up his jeans, but he did come up with the name. In fact, he’s named and/or come up with the logo for every band he’s played in. So far, I think he’s doing pretty well with these start a band instructions. By comparison to his peers at the end of high school, I’d say he was definitely more experienced in the music world. 


     Entering college with both academic credits and music experience at that level, Dan’s years at Fort Hays State University would serve to sharpen his focus on the theory behind the music skills he had and allow him to cut his teeth on the business side of the music. Many of the classes you take while earning a bachelor’s degree may seem rote and without purpose. I would bet at the time Dan WELLER, DAN - FHSU LOGO WITH TIGERwas taking those music theory classes at FHSU, he was probably as bored as everyone else in the class. Recounting to me how he landed the gig with Florida Georgia Line, he now credits those tedious classes for his current employment. Seems like there should almost be a statue of Dan Weller outside the music department building on campus with a hologram of FGL on stage surrounding it. The memorial plaque would read: Stay in school. This could be you. Embarking on the business side of things during this time, Dan started another band he named Apollyon, later changed to Zion. Their genre was rock/pop and they traveled around to nearby states playing mostly clubs WELLER, DAN - BITING PACKAGEand frat parties. This would mark the beginning of Dan’s interest in entrepreneurship, being involved with the band’s investment in their equipment and setting up a side business to earn capital from renting it out. Most of us were lucky if we could oversee the funding of beer and pizza on the weekend. The only thing we invested in was a hangover, and the return on that investment was not pretty. Dan, eye of the tiger, college survivor, Weller, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a major in damn good business sense. The return on his start a band investment so far – his picture in the hometown paper and occasional free beer.



     After college, Dan would do more than get his picture in the hometown paper, he went to work for the second largest newspaper publisher in the U.S. at that time, Knight Ridder. This was the parent media company to 32 daily newspapers, one of which was the Miami Herald. He started out selling newspaper ads and went to Miami to further his training. His time there would give him a greater understanding of multiple forms of media and how to tailor ads for clients to maximize their intended reach. The experience he gained from his time with WELLER, DAN - WICHITA STATE UNIVERSITY LOGOKnight Ridder and clients sparked an interest in entrepreneurship with a goal to understand the inner workings of a business from every angle. Should he someday decide to own and operate a business, there would be no naivete in the venture. Supplementing his hands on education, he pursued a bachelor’s of business administration (BBA) degree in entrepreneurship and marketing from Wichita State University. During this time, he would embark on a new start a band project with the zeal of a student and the detailed perspective of a budding entrepreneur. Perhaps stamping his lofty expectations on the name of the band, he called it King Me. Following dutifully the next set of Brad and Keith’s “Start A Band” instructions, “When you’re living in a world that you don’t understand/Find a few good buddies, start a band,” Dan set out to be an example of just how to go about understanding what you don’t. Most young, eager musicians watch successful bands and try to follow their lead. This band leader got an MBA. While working on his MBA studies at Wichita State University, with the help of the supportive staff in the Entrepreneurship Department, he officially made “Start A WELLER, DAN - START A BAND LYRICSBand” his grad project. Put that in your lyrics fellas! The department staff served as mentors on the project and allowed the use of university resources to help with marketing and development of the group. As a result…the band never played outside of Wichita, Kansas. Sounds like they were a flop, huh? Without leaving that zip code they managed to receive national airplay on stations even the big players in the market couldn’t reach. Suddenly, they were receiving calls from major labels wanting to know how they did it and RCA and Roadrunner even showed some interest in the band. I’d say they earned an ‘A,’ and Dan became a master. Adding to the lyrical instructions, “Scrape up some money, buy a van/Learn Free Bird and Ramblin’ Man”…and get an MBA, if you can!


     Despite the success King Me had achieved, Dan parted ways with the group he’d help start after earning his MBA. Turns out, starting a band is the easy part, keeping all the parts moving in the same direction is more problematic. If band members cannot agree on a singular goal, goodbye harmony. Putting his education to work, Dan moved to Kansas City and took a job with Arthur Anderson. His work there was team oriented and their task was to take apart struggling WELLER, DAN - JUMPINGbusinesses and put them back together more efficiently. After about a year at this, he accepted a position with Anderson’s Global Consulting Group in Dallas. Over the next three years, he worked a stable day job and played music on the side. Prior to 2001, though he wanted to, Dan hadn’t really considered playing music professionally full time. He was focused on getting a solid education and some financial footing. While based out of Dallas, he performed with touring house bands who played in nearby states and joined backing bands for regional artists on the Texas circuit. His only connection to Nashville during that time was getting a call to play with the band Rushlow. Tim Rushlow had formerly been the lead singer for Little Texas and formed a band based out of Nashville. Dan played with them for a short time but the gig didn’t last long enough for him to consider WELLER, DAN - BLACK AND WHITE WITH GUITARrelocating to Tennessee. In 2004, he moved back to Kansas City and became a full-time stay-at-home-dad. He and his wife had planned this arrangement (one would stay at home) prior to marriage and job opportunities. The time of their son’s birth landed Dan the at-home-employment gig. You might say divine intervention brought Dan back to playing music on a regular basis. He’d started playing bass because of his background in marketing. He told me that “you could throw a rock and hit a guitarist, but no one played bass.” You might even call this a classic example of principles of econ 101 – simple supply and demand. His bass skills were such that no one even knew he played guitar until it came up in conversation. As you would expect, these were gospel gigs he played on and he said it was a nice change of pace. Once they heard him play guitar, they were looking for a new bass player – ’nuff said! Enjoying the music again, he started looking for guitar gigs in WELLER, DAN - FENDER FORUMthe area and played around with a few bands. Through an online connection on The Fender Forum, he’d met a guy he instantly became friends with. Jason, by that time, had moved from Atlanta and lived in Nashville, working as a third generation professional musician. In 2007, Dan started making trips to Nashville for “weekend runs” with Bobby Pinson, Jamie O’Neal, and Carolyn Dawn Johnson. The Pinson gig came about through Jason and he got to play with both his online buddy and a bassist he’d recommended from KC. As gigs go, he said this was “one of the best, most fun groups” he’s worked with. Their time together would qualify under the instruction: “Call up some buddies man, start a band.” Done!


     Everyone who’s in the music business will tell you that it’s all about relationships. Bands are built around them, and sometimes, they form in the oddest of places. If you’ve seen Dan Weller, and heard him play, this next part of his story is gonna shock you. Our exceedingly educated, musically gifted Dan Weller, one time Arthur Anderson associate, is going to start his next gig….in a Walmart parking lot….playing with….Colt Ford. I can hear you WELLER, DAN - WALMART PARKING LOTgasp from here. Brad Paisley is from West Virginia, and even he couldn’t fathom this scenario for his “Start A Band” lyrics. Dan had met a few of Colt’s band members when they were passing through Texas. His online friend Jason (relationships!)  had started working with Colt and, as instructed, he called up some of his buddies again to round out this band. When they passed through KC, Dan would meet up with them and hang out. In a bind, Jason phoned a friend. He innocently asked Dan what he was doing the next couple of weeks. Being the star student Dan is, he asked what he needed to learn and where to meet them. For those of you who don’t know, WELLER, DAN - COLT FORDKansas City is split between Kansas and Missouri. Dan lives on the Kansas side. At 3am, in a Walmart parking lot, on the Missouri side of KC, Dan was picked up by Colt’s bus, given a bunk to sleep in, and woke up in Minnesota to play a gig. There was no rehearsal. Two weeks later, Colt asked him to stay on full time, and he spent the next two years touring with him. Honestly, I thought this seemed an odd fit, until he explained Colt’s performance philosophy. Dan couldn’t say enough good things about this man. He said that Colt believes in giving his fans the best show he can, regardless of who gets the spotlight on the stage. He encourages his band members to showcase their skills and give the audience the best show they possibly can. Often, band members are cautious in pushing too much, even if the song calls for it, in fear of upstaging the artist. He said Colt Ford is one of the most generous headliners you will ever find. He called him a “salt of the Earth” kind of guy who isn’t FORD, COLT - DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCEanything on stage that he isn’t off it. Dan played lead guitar on Colt’s 2012 album, Declaration of Independence, and that seems fitting. Colt allowed him the independence to be the musician he can be and the album is better because of it, the fans love it, and Colt couldn’t be happier about it. His time with Colt Ford laid the groundwork for his current gig with FGL, but there is a cautionary lesson to be learned. Don’t start a band in a Walmart parking lot, because not even Brad Paisley could come up with a lyric for that.



     Dan’s connection to the guys from Florida Georgia Line began while he was touring with Colt Ford. They were a very new group at that time and had just started opening for bigger artists on a regular basis. FGL was touring out of a van and trailer and literally had nothing in the way of creature comforts. Dan would often sneak them bus stock because venues offer nothing until you reach a more VIP status. His list of the “essentials” he swiped for them included: vodka, tequila, rum, and peanut butter. FGL touring WELLER, DAN - FGL TOUR 2012without Fireball?? Somebody call social services! This is clearly abusive. Tyler and Brian used to joke with Dan that if they ever needed another guy, they’d hire him. Hmm…By May of 2012, Dan had been on the road for roughly 400 shows with Colt Ford and needed a break. At that point, he thought he was done touring. He had a few other opportunities come his way, but he’d WELLER, DAN - BLACK AND WHITEdecided that if he was going to go back out on the road, it had to be with a band that was singularly focused. In FGL, he found that. “Cruise” had just dropped with the promise of an album still being finished. Their appearance on Jimmy Fallon had been their first national TV exposure and they were scheduled to open for Luke Bryan on his upcoming tour. Dan dropped them a note and offered his services if they needed anyone with the intention of just trying to help them out. He says he wasn’t looking at it as a potentially lucrative gig and they made no illusions that it would be. When they passed through KC for a show, he was told that they needed a lead guitarist who could sing and cover keys/utility or a singing keys guy who could cover guitar/utility. If he was hired, the other slot would be filled eventually.


     Prior to this audition, Dan had known Tyler Chiarelli (current FGL guitarist) for about eight years in Kansas City. They’d crossed paths being in different bands on the same bill. Brian Bonds (current FGL guitarist) came to KC one weekend to hang out with his friend, Tyler. Dan meets Brian WELLER, DAN - WITH BRIAN BONDSand….this is fast becoming a testament to six degrees of separation. At the time of Dan’s audition, Brian Bonds was the band leader for FGL (relationships!). He auditioned on every instrument they threw at him….piano, organ, electric and acoustic guitar, banjo, and vocals. He landed the gig and opposite Brian, they were expecting a KILLER dual guitar assault. As FGL’s popularity went through the roof, they started to fill arenas and began making lists for a keys player. “With a little bit of luck you’ll be packing the stands.” Check that box on the return investment promise! Being half of this expected new WELLER, DAN - ON KEYSKILLER guitar attack, he never expected the pat on the back he got from management. They LOVED what he was doing….on keys and utility. Their plan was to hire another guitarist. Talk about shock and awe. Looking on the bright side, Dan says it’s improved his keyboard skills tremendously and at the same time, he sees the irony in this. He sums up the experience by saying, “The highest profile gig I’ve ever had has me primarily playing the two instruments I have the least experience with (keys/banjo or ganjo).” He then thanks FHSU for his theory, aural skills, and keyboarding courses. This would seemingly negate that advice, “No need to study.”


     Now that we’ve come to the end of our “Start A Band” project, let’s see how Dan and Florida Georgia Line have fared. The only instruction we haven’t addressed is the “grow out your hair” idea. Tyler Hubbard has that one covered and the rest of the band supports the cause through hair dye and styling products. As for the return WELLER, DAN - BRAD PAISLEY START A BAND LYRICSon investment they promised, “Maybe buy your momma that Cadillac” is probably covered and “All those girls who were too good to talk to/They’ll be waiting in the line out back”….covered in spades!!! Equally covered is “Never buy a beer again”…..or an alcoholic beverage of any kind. And as for sneaking them bus stock, probably no longer necessary. The lesson to be learned from the highly educated and experienced Dan Weller, is that music is indeed a business so it’s important to understand the mechanics that make a band, and its musicians, financially successful. As a musician, it’s necessary to study theory in WELLER, DAN - BLURRED BLUEorder to expand your skill set and maximize your potential assets. Entertaining an audience is about putting on the best show possible. If you restrict your assets’ potential, you undervalue them, causing your stock value to fall. Marketing is about taking what you have and using it to the best of your ability to ensure the greatest return on your investment. By working together, as FGL and their band members do, they give the best performance possible every time they take the stage. With each member giving their all, it’s a demonstration in how to maximize your band’s assets and succeed in the music business. The “Start A Band” instructions may be the encouragement you need to get started, but if you stay in school and build your music business foundation, your band is likely to be on more stable ground and may someday have you raising a shot glass in toast: Here’s To The Good Times!


Download the album through iTunes: HERE

From WAYNorthofNashville…Bev Miskus

Bringing the stories of musicians in country music to life!


To stay connected with Dan Weller:


Follow him on twitter @dan_weller

 Check out his Facebook pages:

Subscribe to his YouTube channel:

His website has been removed for a rebuild but should be back up by the end of the year! The address will be:


Catch Dan on tour with FGL! Visit their website for tour dates:


Download Colt Ford’s album through iTunes:  HERE

Thanks to all of the partner companies who support Dan Weller and professional musicians! Please support these companies who help make it possible for Dan and others to do what they do so well!!

©2014Bev Miskus



Friday Night Live! with BILLY CURRINGTON & SAM GROW

     If you’ve ever been to downtown Baltimore, it doesn’t have that big city feel to it. This is a city that grew out of the Chesapeake Bay, on its east side, and reflects Maryland‘s love of the water. It is not a city of famous streets and GROW, SAM - BALTIMORE NIGHT VIEWtourist landmarks. This is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own unique flavor that adds to the unusual mix of people you’ll find here. It’s largely a working class town that gravitates toward the simple things in life. Here, that means beer (Natty Boh), baseball (the O’s), and Maryland crab cakes. On a Friday night recently, I traveled to Baltimore for a concert being held at POWER PLANT Live! My 5pm arrival had TGIF written all over it. Traffic was backed up in all directions, pedestrians were crowding the GROW, SAM - ORIOLE PARK AT CAMDEN YARDSsidewalks, and the roar of the crowd could be heard coming from Oriole Park at Camden Yards (the Yankees were in town). The popular Inner Harbor area acts as a beacon for those visiting the city, drawing them in for local fare, drinks, and entertainment. Just off the Inner Harbor, you’ll find Market Place, a revitalized area teeming with bars and restaurants and the concert venue known as POWER PLANT Live! The stage there plays host to musical guests from all different genres, but on this night, country music was in the early fall air.


     Maryland is considered a Mid-Atlantic state that lies south of the Mason-Dixon Line, giving it a blend of northern and southern traditions. Country music has certainly made its way in recent years from the back roads they love to sing GROW, SAM - MARYLAND STATE FLAGabout to city streets and the venues therein. The crowd that assembled for this Friday night of live music was a hybrid that well represented the state and its multifaceted cultural influences. The set up at POWER PLANT Live! creates the feel of a block party with its open air stage, so the only thing left to do was invite the neighbors and turn up the volume on this Maryland kind of night. If you want to hear country music in Baltimore, you turn your dial to 93.1 WPOC (Pride Of the Chesapeake). If it’s a weekday morning, you’ll hear Laurie DeYoung. In the GROW, SAM - LAURIE DEYOUNG WPOCever changing climate of radio broadcasting, Laurie is a constant. In 2010 she was inducted into the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame. This year, she has a CMA nomination for Major Market Personality of the Year. Laurie’s presence at this show was welcomed by an appreciative GROW, SAM - WPOC LOGOand enthusiastic crowd, many of which grew up listening to her before school or on their morning commute. She introduced the evening’s talent and was especially proud to welcome Southern Maryland’s own, Sam Grow!

     When Laurie DeYoung introduced Sam Grow, she said how impressed she was with him. At the conclusion of his set, everyone else was too. Sam was the perfect fit for the venue and the neighborhood atmosphere Baltimore provides. He exudes Maryland pride and love for the community he was raised in. I’d seen Sam perform twice prior to this, both times as the headliner. I was curious to see how he would approach being the opener. GROW, SAM - BLACK AND WHITEWalking towards the venue earlier in the evening, I heard the last song of his sound check. There was the answer. When Sam Grow puts on a show, don’t expect a wine tasting. His opening song will hit you like a shot of whiskey. Serious, strong, and just right. He opened with The Allman Brothers Band’s “Midnight Rider,” and it’s the perfect choice for four reasons. It engages the crowd immediately because everyone knows it. Sam gets to showcase his powerful vocal ability and the finesse he brings to the song. It gives the audience a preview of what his band can do and puts them on notice – he’s schooled in the classics. After this kick start to his set, he talks about the new EP GROW, SAM - DARE TO DREAMhe has coming out soon and immediately plays two songs from that project. Both are fun, flirty songs that allow Sam to show off the range he has with his voice, style, and presentation. At the conclusion of the third song, he takes a moment to thank the crowd for supporting live music, which allows him to make a living doing what he loves. This is not a patronizing thank you. Sam Grow is as genuine as they come, and he never misses an opportunity to say thanks to the people who make living his dream possible.

     His next two song choices display opposite emotional situations and both made the cut on the new EP. He calls them the “sexy song” and the “angry song.” Back to back he delivers the emotion necessary to convince someone to “Take It Off” and, conversely,  that he is indeed “Over You.” Halfway through his set, Sam explains the dog tags around his neck and the best friends they represent. He ALWAYS gives a shout out to the military at this point and plays his friend’s favorite song, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man.” This has become one GROW, SAM - WITH GENE, JOE, AND MIKEof my favorite parts of the show. There were a lot of military members in the crowd and this is such a cool moment of connection and appreciation for everyone. It doesn’t get any more heartfelt between a singer and a song than when Sam sings this one. Gives me chills every time. He also gives a shout out to his “band of brothers” here. They’ve been with him for awhile and are all from Southern Maryland. Mike Stacey on lead guitar; Gene Quade on bass; and Joe Barrick on drums. Mike has a fabulous solo in this song and Sam makes sure the audience knows who he is. He thanked the local radio station, WPOC, and the fans again for spending their hard earned money to come out and see him play. This is his few moments of grounding in every show to make sure he never forgets where he came from and who helped him get there. It’s a lesson a lot of headliners could learn from.

      Sam’s drummer, Joe, got married recently, and he and his bride asked if Sam would sing their favorite song of his at the wedding. Since then, “We Got Tonight” has been dubbed “Joe’s wedding song.” Sam talks about the truly GROW, SAM - JOE BARRICK DRUMMERimportant events in life that don’t take place on the stage and the importance of keeping that in perspective. This is a beautiful song, and one that obviously means a lot to both Joe and Sam. Next he covered Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel,” much to the delight of the crowd. Everyone sang along and the camaraderie in the room at that moment was magnetic. He finished the set with another original song and a classic that went down like the smoothest of night caps.  Sam talks about his dad before this one and the relationship that exists between the classics, his dad, and his first guitar. I won’t share the details of that here because it’s so cool the way Sam GROW, SAM - HOT LICKS GUITAR SHOPtells it. The song is “Bring It On Home To Me,” by Sam Cooke. It’s a strong, soulful finish to a set that captured and moved the audience. Sam doesn’t play TO an audience; he plays FOR them. He wants to connect with the fans and he wants them to have a good time. He calls his band members out by name and thanks his sponsor, Hot Licks Guitar Shop, in Waldorf, Maryland. One last time, he thanks everyone for coming and being a part of his support system. He says without that, no dream exists. Sounds like a toast. Pour a shot of Fireball and I’ll drink to that!

     To compliment the whiskey that Sam Grow brought to this TGIF party in downtown Baltimore, Billy Currington added a shot of sunshine after dark. There’s just something about him that says its time to relax, let go, and have CURRINGTON, BILLY - CASUAL SHOT WITH GUITARsome fun. Billy doesn’t take the stage with a lot of fanfare. He picks up a guitar like he’s just strumming around a campfire on the beach to entertain a few friends. It’s casual and fun. When he starts to sing, that’s when you feel the warmth of the sunshine he projects. His carefree set is perfect for a TGIF celebration and the crowd embraced it completely. There’s a wide range in what he brings, from traditional country to the latest pop tunes, yet surprisingly, it all works for him – and the audience. Nothing to be uptight about when you’re just blocks from the water. Whatever the tide brings in, roll with it!

     From the beginning of Billy’s set, it was obvious that the crowd was no stranger to his music. They contributed to every song from start to finish. It’s a much different concert experience at POWER PLANT Live! than what you’d find GROW, SAM - VIEW FROM THE STAGE AT POWER PLANT LIVE! BALTIMOREalmost anywhere else. It’s an open air, semi-enclosed area, with buildings on both sides creating the concert space in between. The cover that connects the buildings at roof level protects from the rain and shields from the sun’s blazing rays. The ground level is standing room only, general admission. A catwalk overhead about mid-way allows for viewing in a more private, less crowded setting. Billy didn’t take the stage until just GROW, SAM - ANTI-YANKEESbefore 10pm, but even at that hour, it still felt like a gathering of friends for drinks after work. I don’t know if people in Baltimore are always this happy and polite on Friday nights, or if it was the euphoria in the air coming from Oriole Park (they took two from the Yankees that night!), but this had to be one of THE most well behaved crowds I’ve ever been in. Billy’s music struck the right chord and the crowd welcomed him to the neighborhood.

     Nearly all of Billy’s hit songs were in the set list. “Love Done Gone” got everyone swaying in unison and warming up their vocal chords for what was to come. Revving up his country side, he did two in a row that got CURRINGTON, BILLY - PRETTY GOOD AT DRINKIN' BEER SINGLEa BIG reception. “That’s How Country Boys Roll” and “Pretty Good At Drinkin’ Beer” popped the tops on this party and the crowd responded loudly to let Billy know that, yes indeed, they’ve mastered the art of drinkin’ beer. Cheers! After all that exertion, he pulled them in with “Let Me Down Easy” and “Don’t.” You would be hard pressed to find an artist more capable of delivering the melt you love song than CURRINGTON, BILLY - HEY GIRL SINGLEBilly Currington, and based on the female reaction, he gets an ‘A’ for this effort. “People Are Crazy” is a song most people know and is great fun to sing along to. Billy didn’t have to sing the chorus on this one, the crowd was more than happy to raise their voices and alert passersby that “God is great/ Beer is good/And people are crazy.” From there he went right into “Hey Girl,” one of the hits off his most recent album, We Are Tonight. The fans knew this one was coming and danced with delight when it did.

     Not having seen Billy Currington in concert before, I had no idea what to expect from his set list other than the obvious hit songs. When he does a cover, he goes BIG! I was still in a state of reverie after hearing him sing “Must Be Doin’CURRINGTON, BILLY - DOIN' SOMETHIN' RIGHT Somethin’ Right” when the beginning of his next song snapped me out of it. I knew it. I’d heard it. It was a classic. Hank Williams Jr.?! By the time my mind caught on to the fact that I was hearing Billy Currington do HWJ, the crowd was answering his questions….LOUDLY. “Why do you drink? Why do you roll smoke?” And Billy answered, “I’m just carrying on an old FAMILY TRADITION.” The fans loved it and he nailed it. WOW! Seamlessly, he jumped right back into his own music with “We Are Tonight.” Taking in the lyrics, it was a great spot in the show for it. The CURRINGTON, BILLY - WE ARE TONIGHTcrowd was singing, “It’s a Friday night/It’s a small town girl/Everything is right and we rule the world.” They were clearly happy and up for anything and this song is about just that kind of feeling. And from that high, he went low…. “Friends In Low Places,” that is. When the song started, you would have thought that Garth himself was standing on the stage. The reaction was deafening! Many of the people in the audience were too young to have listened to Garth when that song came out in 1990, but they recognized it immediately and sang every word. Hank, and now Garth. Where would our laid back headliner go next?

     He would prove that he is just like everybody else when it comes to mixing up the music they listen to. For decades, kids have been expanding their musical tastes outside the confines of  a single genre. This exposure is largely responsible for the cross-genre recording that’s become the norm. Billy’s ???????????????????????????penchant for delivering those dreamy love songs made the pop covers he tackled not at all out of bounds for him. Bruno Mars’ “Treasure You” was an ideal fit for his voice and smooth delivery. The crowd was delighted by the song choice, responding as if their favorite tune had just come on the radio. They sang along and moved to the music, not the least bit bothered by Billy channeling his inner Bruno. Pushing his boundaries a bit further, he went about as far outside the country line of demarcation as you can get on his last cover of the evening. Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” wins Billy the boldest move, without falling on your face, at a country concert award. It was a seamless transition from Bruno to Robin and the audience loved it! Looks like the Orioles weren’t the only ones hitting home runs that night!

     Wrapping up this impressive TGIF party, Billy ended with the perfect song to put the night’s musical experience into perspective. “Good Directions” is from his 2005 album, Doin’ Somethin’ Right. Sam Grow pointed out, as I said earlier, that dreams don’t exist without a support system. Everyone who ever dreams of playing in big cities, on grand stages, starts out in their hometown – playing in GROW, SAM - MARYLAND WELCOME SIGNtheir neighborhood, amongst friends. These early supporters lead to community sponsorship and a wider audience. Each level of support gives rise to the next, creating the steps needed to continue the climb to success. Once you’ve reached a higher landing, it’s easy to forget the individual rungs you stepped on to get there. Sam returns often to his native Maryland to connect with his family, friends, and fans, many of which made the trip to Baltimore to see him. His fans, in turn, support the headliner he opens for. The Marylanders, who bought tickets to see Billy Currington, were thrilled to have an artist with local roots on stage that night. Their pride was evident in the way they embraced his music and the journey he’s on. The local radio station, WPOC, their award winning DJ, Laurie DeYoung, and Baltimore’s fabulous venue, POWER PLANT Live!, all contribute to the support of native talent so vital to their continued success. Neighborhood by neighborhood, the blocks of support lead to  big cities tCURRINGTON, BILLY - GOOD DIRECTIONS LYRICShat will someday host our local favorites on their stages. Sam had the home field advantage in Baltimore, but Billy Currington was as welcome as Miss Bell’s sweet tea. No matter how far from home an artist may travel, it serves them well to remember their way back home. Good directions are a necessity… “Then a left will take you to the interstate/But a right will bring you right back here to me.” Welcome back Sam Grow….and Billy, feel free to stop by any time. Great night Maryland! Thanks for the hospitality Baltimore!


From WAYNorthofNashvillevery close to BaltimoreBev Miskus

Bringing the stories of country music to life!

There’s nothing better than LIVE music and nothing worse than a loved one not returning home from that great concert. Drink responsibly. Enjoy the show. Drive safe. Thanks for the reminder Budweiser!!


For photographs of the concert, please visit WPOC‘s website via this link:

Follow WPOC on Facebook and be sure to LIKE their page:


To check out all the happenings at Baltimore’s POWER PLANT Live!, visit their website:


Support those who generously support local live music and musicians! Thank you Hot Licks Guitar Shop in Waldorf, Maryland!! Visit their website at:


Keep up with SAM GROW via his website:

Follow him on Facebook and be sure to LIKE his page:

Follow him on Twitter @samgrowmusic

Subscribe to his YouTube channel:

Follow him on WEBSTA:

Billy Currington

Visit Billy Currington‘s website at:


Download his latest album, We Are Tonight, on iTunes:

©2014Bev Miskus


I’ve got a little MOONLIGHT CRUSH….on OUTSHYNE! #thatswhatsup


     When you think about country music and the artists who perform it, all thoughts immediately turn to Nashville. Once they’ve reached a level where media outlets are interested in them, they’re likely already living there. Music careers are built on the foundation Nashville provides, but the roots they’ve grown from were probably planted elsewhere. The South has sewn a lot of the seeds that have become country stars, nurturing their development with water steeped in Southern traditions, encouraged skyward by the intensity of the Southern sun. Basking under the sun, the heat they’ve absorbed during the week turns into heated rivalries on the weekend, contested on fields that demand loyalty. If you’re from South Carolina, you may have to choose your home field at either Clemson or USC, the state’s flagship university. Each will try OUTSHYNE - MOONLIGHT CRUSH LYRICSto outshine the other, standing taller and prouder for the effort. When the sun sets on the day’s exertions, giving way to the glow of the moon, you may find a local star that outshynes its larger neighbors. If you grab a couple of beers in this good time atmosphere and turn the radio to Sirius XM The Highway, you may find OUTSHYNE playing over and over. Stay tuned and you’ll find out if it’s love….or just a little moonlight crush.


     South Carolina is home for the group of five musicians collectively known as OUTSHYNE. Four of them grew up together in Laurens, a city southeast of Greenville. They attended Laurens High School and worked together after school at the local Burger King, each with a different duty. The team work involved in this would serve them well after they left the fast food world to pursue their love of music. Waylon Owings, Jason Paxton, Josh Coleman, and Matthew “Smiley” Norris were four of the founding members of a band they formed in 2007. Waylon sings lead vocals and plays guitar; Jason adds his OUTSHYNE - COUNTRY BOY IN MEskills on bass; Josh plays lead guitar (more than capably I’m told!); and “Smiley” is the man with the beat on drums. It would be a few years of sharpening their skills, songwriting, and playing together before they increased their focus on recording and performing professionally. In 2010, Outshyne the band became a full time gig for these guys, playing nearly 200 dates a year in support of their debut album, Country Boy In Me. This is not a band looking for their sound. They found it, defined it, and Owings it – RIGHT HERE!


     Make no mistake, this is a group effort, and Waylon would be the first to tell you that. Having the advantage of knowing a little about their background before I listened to this album, I was keenly aware of the individual talents that OUTSHYNE - WAYLONwent into making this record. These guys have known each other a long time, and musically, they are as tight as the bonds of that relationship. The title of the album is a lightning rod, striking a chord in every song that describes the lifestyle they’ve lived and learned from. This includes the music they grew up listening to and the time spent learning to play it. Being from South Carolina, one might assume that country music was their inherited genre. It was definitely in the air and on the radio, but it wasn’t the only thing on the radio. All of the music that defined the 70s, 80s, and 90s was there too. For kids learning to play guitar and drums, it provided an irresistible rock, metal, and grunge OUTSHYNE - WAYLON AND JASONattraction that no amount of camouflage could hide. On this album, the songs describe the lyrics they were living, backed by the sounds that built and transformed them into musicians. Pulling that all together is Waylon’s voice. If the Country Music Hall of Fame had just one voice, it could be expressed by Waylon Owings. When I listened to Country Boy In Me for the first time, it was like finding a time capsule. I could hear the roots of country music from its earliest stars to its present day hit makers. That classic country sound was undeniable. Reaching back through the decades, his vocal range is anything from rock to past and present country. His reflective intonation throughout the album is flawless. This is essentially an old school country album with the embellishments of modern day music. What makes that work is the honesty in Waylon’s voice. This is an extraordinary debut effort that should be re-released and made widely available (read: played on country radio often!).


     Over the next two years, after the release of their debut album, OUTSHYNE would become an even stronger band with the addition of guitarist, Casey Joe Kelly, who replaced departing original member, David McCall. Casey is originally from Anderson, SC, directly west of Laurens. He was pursuing a OUTSHYNE - STARTIN' OVERcareer as a solo artist, prior to joining the band, and was introduced to them by a mutual friend. He is a GREAT GUITAR PLAYER (emphasis Waylon’s, read: bad ass!) and another strong voice for vocals. He’s been a perfect fit for the group and an asset in moving the band forward as they continue to grow their sound and define themselves musically. In 2012, Outshyne released their second album, Startin’ Over. It debuted at #11 on iTunes the day it was released, giving their sophomore effort the bump it needed to make a splash on country radio. “Dirt Road Romance,” written OUTSHYNE - DIRT ROAD ROMANCEby Florida Georgia Line and Albis Albritton, was the first single off this album and one that had hit written all over it. It was popular among fans but struggled to gain major market radio airplay. FGL had yet to make their meteoric rise. If this song were to hit Sirius XM The Highway today with FGL’s backing, it would have a much better shot at hitting the charts. It’s a great song that deserves to be heard. The second single released from this album has become their breakout hit. “Moonlight Crush” was picked up by Sirius XM as a “Highway Find.” After OUTSHYNE - THE HIGHWAY LOGOconsistent play, it went to #1 on The Highway Countdown for several weeks. Wide market exposure could easily put this one on the Billboard chart with the backing of the fans and country radio. Written by Marve Green, Blake Wise, and Rodney Clawson, it’s a beautiful ballad that captures the feel of a summer romance on a moonlit night. Waylon’s soft, yet powerful delivery, puts the irresistible in this moonlight crush. Combined, “Dirt Road Romance” and OUTSHYNE - MOONLIGHT CRUSH SINGLE“Moonlight Crush” have racked up 100,000 downloads on iTunes and a million views on YouTube. Clearly, fans are giving a thumbs up to the music.  The rest of this album builds a strong case for love and the power of a new relationship. The title track is a heartfelt good-bye to a love lost before it’s gone. Waylon’s vocal is full of emotion and again, spot on. “My Best Friend’s A Girl” (note: iTunes has it listed as My Best Friend’s Girl – not what this song is about!) is another tender love song you can’t help falling for. The nine tracks on this album exude the feel of summer in the South and the charm southern boys are known for. In Outshyne’s case, the charm of their character isn’t only found in the music.


     Often times, we think of a band with a predetermined image of what they stand for. We size up where they come from and what type of music they play and make assumptions about motive and behavior. OUTSHYNE doesn’t approach charitable work for the benefits it may bring the band. They do OUTSHYNE - GROUP PIC WITH BILLY BLOCKit because they believe in giving back to the community that has supported them and their music and because they believe in helping others in need whenever possible. Sunday is a day off for the guys, but at least once a month, they donate their time to a charitable cause in the area. When their local radio station was hosting a marathon for St. Jude, the guys offered to help by enlisting their loyal South Carolina fans to join the cause. The combination of their efforts helped raise $130,000 for the Children’s Research Hospital and no one was more thrilled by the success of the event than they were. Being a part of the community they grew up in is important to these South Carolina natives who still call the state OUTSHYNE - WAYLON, CASEY, AND JASONhome. They’ve opted to stay in their home state for now, rather than move to Nashville, keeping them grounded in the roots they came from. As they continue to work hard at their music and tour to expand their opportunities, their focus as a band is united. They appreciate the loyal fans they have in South Carolina as well as the fans they’re attracting elsewhere. Being able to establish a relationship with their fan base and meet with them routinely is something that’s important to them. While growing as a band and reaching OUTSHYNE - MILLSTARfor higher goals within the music industry is something they strive for, it’s not their entire motivation at the expense of everything else in life. With the obstacles and inherent demands of the music business these days, it’s easy to lose perspective and grab whatever you can, while you can. It’s a rare quality to find such grounded principles in a young band and something they work hard at sustaining.


     The last couple of years have been busy ones for OUTSHYNE as their success gains momentum and puts them in front of bigger audiences with headlining acts. To their credit thus far, they’ve opened for Jake Owen, Eric Church, Lee Brice, Colt Ford, Joe Nichols, Gary Allan, and Justin Moore. Fans may also have seen them on the Hard Rock stage at CMA Fest. Besides seeing more OUTSHYNE - SONY REDradio airplay for their music driven by the success of “Moonlight Crush,” they’ve also signed two deals this year to broaden their reach. In January, they signed a distribution deal with Sony Red, and just this month revealed a booking agreement with Buddy Lee Attractions beginning in 2015. They’ve been touring extensively this year and have gone back into the studio to work on a new album they’re expecting to release early next year. The first two singles off OUTSHYNE - BUDDY LEE ATTRACTIONSthis album were released simultaneously to iTunes last week. “Night With Your Name On It” will be the first single released to radio with the companion lyric video already circulating. Written by Cole Swindell, Adam Sanders, and Thomas Archer, it’s got a bold, enthusiastic opening that sets the tone for the song. This one’s a joy ride bursting with expectation. When Waylon pitches his plan for a night out, you’ll want to slide in next to him. His enthusiastic delivery should OUTSHYNE - NIGHT WITH YOUR NAME ON ITmake this one a crowd pleasing favorite and a standard on country radio in the next few months. The second song released from the album is “Whiskey Whispers.” Written by Chase Rice, Cole Taylor, and Thomas Archer, this feels like the lyrical continuation of what’s up as the “Night With Your Name On It” reaches a climax. Revealing exactly what’s up, the waves of emotion the music creates here wash over you like a whiskey buzz. The layering of sound and style creates a brilliant mix of tortured feelings that play out in the guest vocals of Jillian Jacqueline and Alan Cook. This song pulls you in from the opening and holds you there as a captive audience of this spellbinding love song. The strength of this one is 90 proof.


     As they put the finishing touches on their next album, songwriting and song choice will be key to the success of the finished project and it’s embrace by country radio and fans alike. The guys do write together, some in South Carolina and Waylon with other writers in Nashville on occasion. Song selection will OUTSHYNE - WAYLON AND CASEYcome down to the strength of what they’re pitched by other songwriters compared to what they’ve written personally. They’re intent on finding the best possible songs to express themselves authentically through the lyrics and the music in a manner the fans can relate to and enjoy. They have the full support of a dedicated fan base in South Carolina along with a local business that sponsors their efforts, Palmetto Moonshine. They’ve just renewed a sponsorship that runs through 2015. The next step in their growth OUTSHYNE - PALMETTO MOONSHINE PROMOis to attract fans nationwide with their music and the heart they put into it. Country radio will factor heavily into their success and they’re hoping to continue to impress and impact the airwaves. What makes OUTSHYNE different than a lot of their peers is their old school approach to making music in a new age. They honor the past while not sacrificing their place in the present. Their dedication to the music OUTSHYNE - #THATSWHATSUPand determination to make it all that it can be, both for the studio recordings and their live performances, shows their maturity as professionals. The character they bring to the process is refreshing and will be rewarded by the fans as they continue to get to know this band over the years. It takes a community effort to launch a music career and Outshyne has certainly earned the support of their home state. As they travel the U.S. sharing their music, give them a listen and meet them if you can. Tell your friends AND country radio that Outshyne is your little moonlight crush……and #thatswhatsup.

From WAYNorthofNashville…..Bev Miskus

Bringing the stories of country music to life!


The performance photos that appear throughout the article were shot at The Cannery in Nashville earlier this year by concert photographer, Bill McClintic, of 90 East Photography. For professional inquiries, please refer to the contact information on his Facebook page:

Watch the lyric video for their new single,


Download NIGHT WITH YOUR NAME ON IT through iTunes: HERE

Watch the video for their SMASH hit, “MOONLIGHT CRUSH”!

Download the radio version of MOONLIGHT CRUSH via iTunes: HERE

Download their album, STARTIN’ OVER, through iTunes:HERE



Listen to their HOT new single “Whiskey Whispers”!


Download WHISKEY WHISPERS through iTunes:HERE

Visit OUTSHYNE’S website:

Check out their tour dates:

Check out the merchandise in their online store:

LIKE their Facebook page:

Follow them on Instagram:

Follow them on Twitter:@Outshyne

Subscribe to their YouTube channel:

Keep up with the latest episode of OUTSHYNE WORLD!

Support their local sponsor PALMETTO MOONSHINE!


 Visit their website:


©2014Bev Miskus






     *Since the writing of this article, Jake Owen’s Days Of Gold Tour has come to an end. The guys from Averitt have been on the road for eight months, delivering the sights and sounds of this tour to Canada twice and 68 cities in 44 states. They’ve logged 37,958 miles in their North American travels and given new meaning to the term ‘road trip!’ A big thanks to Tim, Mike, Jeff, and Todd for their expert delivery of these tour goods and making our concert experiences possible!


Download the song through iTunes: HERE


Download the song through iTunes: HERE


Now the seats are all empty

Let the roadies take the stage

Pack it up and tear it down

They’re the first to come and last to leave

Working for that minimum wage

They’ll set it up in another town


     Today’s live performances are often a spectacle of lights and sound. Our favorite headliners take the stage amid elaborate stage setups that often dwarf them in size and technology. Giant video screens broadcast the performance for fans whose seat1606912_807488285929038_3638528685578128546_n[1]s aren’t near enough for an intimate viewing or the coveted selfie with the artist. But no matter where your assigned seats are, the focus of the event will be the artist at center stage. Like the view through a kaleidoscope, in your peripheral vision you will see thousands of images in various shapes and colors all vying for your attention. As the lights go down and your focus is diminished to just a small circle of light in the middle of the viewing area, what you came to see is revealed. Simply. Sharply. The euphoric party atmosphere ebbs momentarily as we look back to sunrise on this August day in Nashville to see what went into the making of this JAKE OWEN BEACH PARTY event as his signature trucks arrive for load in.


Tonight the people were so fine

They waited there in line

And when they got up on their feet

They made the show


     Concert events come in all shapes and sizes. What’s needed for the production of these shows may take up just a single truck, or…it might take 27 of them! Delivery of the equipment necessary for this beach party event actually started in verbal form before it became a physical embodiment in need of transport. Jake Owen made a promise. When that happens, things are set in 10172757_806043132740220_6128097566386403623_n[1]motion and some sort of delivery method will be required. Like Ticketmaster, he has options for delivery, but electronic is out of the question. Delivering on this promise will require several trucks and a skilled set of workers who know exactly what to do when those trucks arrive for load in. We’ve all seen the colorful trucks bearing the artist’s tour banner either on a highway or parked near the venue. We know they aren’t empty and whatever is in those trucks will be part of our concert experience. What happens between their arrival at one venue and their departure for the next is not commonly known. This being a Jake Owen event, he would know the procedures and many of the people who perform them. These guys are part of Jake’s tour team and integral to the show he puts on for his fans.

15027295185_deaf7d458f_z (1)

And that was sweet

But I can hear the sound

Of slamming doors and folding chairs

And that’s a sound they’ll never know


     The BEACH PARTY was held in the BMI parking lot behind their headquarters on Music Row in Nashville. That would be the load in spot for TIM BURNHAMJake’s three drivers to deliver their concert cargo to. Tim Burnham is one of the drivers in this convoy and was kind enough to talk to me about what happens on show days. His rig is always the first to unload and the last one out after the show. There is a method to this madness! His two fellow drivers are Mike Wambles and Jeff Richardson. When a fourth truck is needed, Todd Pass drives that one. If you’re wondering how one gets this plumb assignment, being on tour with Jake Owen, it was earned. Averitt Express is the parent company that owns On Tour Logistics. They provide the drivers and the trucks for Jake’s operation. All of the drivers that applied for this assignment were vetted, their records 1970811_793936747284192_556907153_n[1]thoroughly checked. They were brought to Nashville for interviewing and selected from a large pool of hopeful applicants. As you can imagine, being a tour driver is much more appealing than hauling freight so these assignments are much coveted. These drivers take pride in what they do and the company they represent. Job security may be directly related to how well you perform your duties and impress the headliner. It should be no surprise that not all artists are a dream to work for. As was stated to me more than once during this interview, Jake Owen is.


Now roll them cases out and lift them amps

Haul them trusses down and get ‘em up them ramps

‘Cause when it comes to moving me

You know, you guys are the champs


     When the trucks arrived at the BMI parking lot on the morning of August 18, it was approximately 7am. Their typical load in time runs between 5 and 7am the day of the show, depending on their drive time and start time of the event. This would have been a short haul for the drivers because two of the trucks are 10550974_868610583150141_3149372031472515804_n[1]parked in Nashville between tour dates and the other two in Montgomery, Alabama. Storage location of the trucks is dependent on what repairs may need to be done to the rigs themselves or the equipment they’re hauling. Three trucks were used for the beach party (they use four for full production) and their arrival is a coordinated effort. Once parked at the venue location, they are met by a team of  loaders and pushers whose job it is to build something out of the rigging, lighting, and audio components that have just been delivered. They travel with 15 “true guys” who will coordinate this set building venture, but 90% of the workers used for load in and load out will be union local labor hired by 10462987_844332952244571_2592417475956752511_n[1]the venue. This isn’t a motley crue assortment of guys they enlisted off the street. Over the next four to five hours, these trained professionals will be handling expensive equipment that has to be moved and assembled in a precise way. Damaging any piece of the production puzzle they’re building could cause a delay in the day’s tightly arranged schedule. When things go akilter, as they sometimes do, rental equipment must be arranged to replace what needs repair or didn’t arrive on time. In full production, Jake’s set design includes palm trees and a tiki bar. Should any of these pieces be damaged in transport or get held up by unforeseen circumstances, welcome to the nightmare of adjusting on the fly! Good luck trying to rent a palm tree or a tiki bar in Canada. But, the show MUST go on!


But when that last guitar’s been packed away

You know that I still want to play

So just make sure you got it all set to go

Before you come for my piano


     On a normal tour day, after the load in, the trucks would stay parked at the venue in close proximity to the staging area. Due to the unusual location of the BEACH PARTY event in the compact area of Music Row in Nashville, the 10346519_515938741886143_6985160470606381224_n[1]trucks would have to park several miles away. In contrast, we’ve all seen the trucks parked near or immediately adjacent to the stage. What we haven’t seen are the drivers of those rigs who’ve been up all night dodging the hazards of the open road. The miles they’ve logged on their night’s journey can range anywhere from a couple hundred to as many as 600+ on a particularly long trek. So while we’re asleep, dreaming of that incredible concert we’re about to see, these guys are battling the elements to make sure you’re not disappointed. Tim said 10441142_848639355147264_7573255839005558525_n[1]they’ve been lucky on this tour so far as weather hasn’t played a big factor in slowing them down. Their toughest weather-related challenge has been dealing with high winds and having to control that heavy rig at the mercy of Mother Nature. Once they’ve safely arrived at their destination and the trucks are parked and unloaded, they’ll have to stay in or near them in case something comes up and they need to be moved. When zzzs are needed, these weary drivers don’t get to climb into a comfy hotel bed. They’ll attempt to catch a nap inside the truck. If it’s a larger venue and the trucks are parked some distance from set up, sound check, and surrounding activity, they might succeed in getting some much needed rest. If they’re parked at a fair, directly adjacent to the constant clatter of the event, not so much. I was told as fact that no one sleeps while on tour; you just nap. Throughout the day, the drivers will rest every chance they get. When you run a full tour season, tired is the new normal.


But the band’s on the bus

And they’re waiting to go

We’ve got to drive all night

And do a show in Chicago…. or Detroit, I don’t know


     Doing a show in Nashville gives the headliner and the guys in the band a much appreciated home field advantage. For the BEACH PARTY event, they had a short commute to work. With any luck, they had a good night’s sleep beforehand. Such is not the case on tour. Fatigue isn’t only a problem for the photo-5-1[1]truck drivers. Jake travels with three buses to his concert locations. One is his personal bus; one’s for the band members; and one is for the crew (light, sound, and production guys). Obviously, these buses do not drive themselves, so there is also a professional bus driver for each. He, too, will be up all night, tasked with the job of delivering his precious cargo to a stage near you! If you’ve ever tried to sleep in a moving vehicle (past the time you fit in a car seat), you know this isn’t ideal for REM sleep. It’s fitful, at best (unless you’re passed out and that comes with its own set of problems). Once the buses have arrived at their destination, the bus drivers will have hotel rooms to sleep in. Throughout the day, those buses may encounter more traffic in and out the door than they did on the highway. A driver trying to sleep through the congestion would not be a safe chauffeur Photo_Video_41746134926806127680098_big[1]come midnight. Hotel rooms may also become a restful haven for the band and crew members if time allows the indulgence. Often, the tight schedule they keep and extracurricular demands on their time may only allow for napping on the bus, or some attempt at that. Parking these precious buses and the contents therein comes with its own set of hazards and impending problems. When Jake played in NYC earlier this year, both the band and crew buses were hit by cars. The drivers had the unenviable job of navigating NYC traffic to drop the guys off and then had to park at an off-site location – a WAY off-site location! The truck drivers for this tour stop got to tangle with rush hour traffic in NYC at 8am with a vehicle not exactly made for tight spots and city drivers not pleased with their arrival.


We do so many shows in a row

And these towns all look the same

We just pass the time in the hotel rooms

And wander ’round backstage

Till those lights come up and we hear that crowd

And we remember why we came


     Forgoing some of the problems unavoidable on tour, Jake Owen, his band, and the production team got to entertain a homecoming like crowd in the BMI parking lot. This was the second free party event, and with Jake’s popularity BILL AND PATTIexploding as the result of his first headlining tour, THIS was a jam (and fan) packed show! I was fortunate to have two outstanding resources for this on-site accounting of what it was like to be in that crowd of reportedly 40,000+ fans. Patti and Bill McClintic are loyal Jake Owen supporters who traveled 700 miles from Buffalo, NY, to attend the event. Having made the trip for last year’s show as well, they got to witness firsthand the swelling of fans that made this year’s concert a tightly packed affair. They were not up front for this one, as they were last year, so their vantage point was much different this time. Bill, an acclaimed concert photographer, shot the show last year and was attempting to repeat his BILL MCCLINTIC PHOTOGRAPHERsuccess. The challenges he faced didn’t come from the performers on stage. He got to experience, up close and personal, the true meaning of action photography. As Bill wrestled with the demands of shooting around moving, space invading, camera blocking obstacles, to get the 800 shots he captured that night, Patti took in the sights and sounds of this unique concert. It’s no secret that Jake Owen is an extremely generous performer. Not only is he generous with his friends, his family, and his fans, he is also a selfless supporter of other artists, songwriters, and musicians, regardless of genre. The advent of his now famous FREE BEACH PARTY is the result of just such generosity and selfless behavior. In some ways, this event was a living documentary of Jake Owen’s life, manifested in his music career.


Now we got Country and Western on the bus

R & B, we got Disco in eight tracks and cassettes in stereo

We’ve got Rural Scenes and Magazines

We’ve got Truckers on the CB


     Jake Owen may come off as lighthearted and easy going, but don’t misinterpret that for a casual attitude when it comes to his music or his fans. The loyalty he gets from his fan base he gives back tenfold. And when Jake Owen makes a promise, you can tattoo it on your arm in indelible ink. The JAKE OWEN BEACH PARTY INVITATIONBEACH PARTY isn’t just a party. It’s the sound check on that promise, and it’s free because he wants ALL of his fans, regardless of their VIP status in life, to be able to hear that promise coming through the speakers loud and clear.  Last August, prior to the release of his latest album, Days of Gold, he wanted to do something for his fans and celebrate all that the song “Days of Gold” speaks of. He set a date for the event and invited his fans to show up in Nashville. For those of you who may be new to Nashville, you’ve probably heard a great deal about this first block party. It was attended by roughly 20,000+ fans. Jake put on an JAKE OWEN SUMMER BLOCK PARTYamazing show that wowed his fans in the manner they’ve become accustomed to. What you may not remember is that Jake had a portion of one of his fingers amputated that morning, prior to show time. A serious infection that developed in the finger, due to a prior accident that summer, forced this emergency procedure at a less than ideal time. Many artists would have sent a replacement, and Jake certainly could have found one, but not wanting to disappoint his fans or break a promise he’d make to them, HE showed up as scheduled. He gave everyone in that parking lot the party they came for, with no regard whatsoever for his personal discomfort. That’s what serious artists do.


And we’ve got Richard Pryor on the video

We got time to think of the ones we love

While the miles roll away

But the only time that seems too short

Is the time that we get to play


     Last year, Jake’s Summer Block Party was more of an impromptu event. This year, it was a highly anticipated gathering. Jake is several months into his first headlining tour and it’s been an unarguable success. Given that, it was expected that the beach party may well take up more than a block this time PATTI MCCLINTICaround. In the same space designated for the event last year, they packed in double the amount of attendees. Patti described the scene on the ground as a violation of the fire code, had there been one. Jake’s meteoric rise in popularity, both hit music and reputation driven, brought his fans out in record numbers, and they were willing to withstand heat and sardine-like conditions to see what Jake had  in store for them. He doesn’t come alone to this party. He brings friends. Lots of them. And in true Jake fashion, you never know who might show up, unannounced. If you’ve seen Jake on the Days of Gold Tour, you know that his show is beach party themed. This would be no exception. Beach balls were flying through the air and the festive atmosphere was palpable. Old Dominion got things started off with a lively set intended to get this 15003460806_b4019ff2a5_zparty started off right. Their songs play right into the mood Jake brings to every event he hosts. His invited guests for the evening are perfectly suited to the type of party he wants this to be. Their music is intended to mingle with the tastes of his BEACH PARTY fans and not create a hyper-charged, star-studded show and sing. Jake is very supportive of new artists and sensitive to the struggles of 15026075502_6f75fa52a4_zeveryone trying to make it in the music business, regardless of their contribution. Bobby Bones’ band, The Raging Idiots, made an appearance with up and coming artist, Lindsay Ell. She is relatively new on the Nashville scene, but she is no stranger to that guitar in her hands. Giving her this guest spot not only puts her in front of 40,000 potentially new fans, but lets them know the girl can PLAY!


People you’ve got the power over what we do

You can sit there and wait

Or you can pull us through

Come along, sing the song

You know that you can’t go wrong


     The rest of the evening would be a musical testament to who Jake Owen is in the most unassuming ways possible. The Brothers Osborne have been 14840411188_f4d91f7681_zmaking a huge splash among country music fans with their infectious single, “RUM!” Jake topped this day off with a sinking summer sun, so why not mix it with RUM? Mmm. Mmm. He joined one of the Brothers Osborne on stage to duet this effort, no doubt with the enthusiastic approval of the fans. They’re another new act around town and this exposure of their hit single, in 14840393529_e5c81600e6_zadvance of a new EP, was Jake’s way of entertaining while endorsing – wholeheartedly. Singer-songwriter, Sonia Leigh, made an appearance at this party. She’s not new to the country music scene but some of her contributions have probably flown under the media radar outside of Music City. There are always songwriters behind those big hits, but rarely do fans know who they are. Sonia was a co-writer on two Zac Brown Band hits, “Goodbye in Her Eyes” and “Sweet Annie.” She’s an accomplished solo artist in her own right, and giving her the spotlight on this big stage gave her the opportunity to showcase her singing talent in front of fans15024125011_bff0540912_z who likely weren’t familiar with her. Knowing Jake’s deep appreciation for songwriters, highlighting her efforts here would also be a reason she was an honored guest. Hot country duo, Dan + Shay, crashed onto the country charts with their debut single, 19 You + Me. It didn’t take long for their music to catch on and put them on the fast track to being an in demand opening act. 15028086721_3a5c8a0140_zTheir sound suits a beach party, even if it is in a parking lot. Fans of Jake Owen would welcome their summer feel music and give a big nod of approval to their performance. Earlier this summer, Jake collaborated with pop artist, Mike Posner, on a remix of his #1 single, “Beachin’.” He surprised the crowd with Mike’s guest spot, which got the ENTIRE audience jumping as a solid mass to his mega hit single, “Cooler Than Me.” Definitely a cool moment in the show!


‘Cause when that morning sun comes beating down

You’re going to wake up in your town

But we’ll be scheduled to appear

A thousand miles away from here


     The Cadillac Three have been on the road with Jake since the beginning of the Days of Gold Tour in March. They open for him at every stop on the tour. They took part in the first Summer Block Party and were invited back for this 15025992342_9ca1608b10_zone. Their friendship with Jake is no secret. What may have surprised some fans this time was the shout out Jake gave to one of the members of TC3, Jaren Johnston. Jaren is a well known songwriter in Nashville and a co-writer on five of the tracks on Days of Gold. Jake took a few moments during the show to offer a toast of sorts to Jaren for writing the songs that he says changed his life. “Beachin’” and “Days of Gold” were both co-writes for Jaren. To some, it might seem odd that Jake would pick this time to thank a songwriter. What better time to give a songwriter his due than in front of 40,000 of your fans who clearly LOVE those songs? They were already standing, Jake just gave them a reason to offer the ovation to a 15003937006_c9981b69a2_zdeserving friend and songwriter. Exceptionally classy move. Lee Brice‘s appearance had everything to do with a song. “Parking Lot Party” was a huge hit for Lee. He was a co-writer on that tailgate anthem and it was a song practically written for this occasion. Neither of these attributes was lost on Jake that night. Lee’s career is taking off under the power of his great voice and award winning song choices. His new album, I Don’t Dance (already a #1 single), is due out this week. The two had a ball with the song on stage and shared a beer to illustrate the fine art of tailgating before a show…or in this case…during the show.


People stay

Just a little bit longer

We want to play

Just a little bit longer


     Taking in the sights and sounds of JAKE OWEN’S BEACH PARTY, Patti described to me in great detail the mood of the crowd, some of the more 14844468669_29932a84d8_zcolorful incidents that happened throughout the evening, and the audience’s reaction to the performances. She was in the thick of that tightly packed mass of fans and felt as if she were being squeezed into the mosaic of shattered, colorful pieces that made up the periphery of the kaleidoscopic image that twisted and turned with each new musical guest’s appearance. Their focus would be in and out of the events on the stage with the intensity the moment dictated. Amidst the party atmosphere that permeated 15030818182_e9b586a123_zthe event and the engaging way Jake Owen puts on a show, his connection to a song and a songwriter would turn out to be a defining moment for everyone. Following the success of his summer smash hit, “Beachin’,” Jake recently released a ballad off Days of Gold as the next single. What We Ain’t Got” was co-written by Travis Meadows. It’s a time stopping song that forces you to step outside your noisy, chaotic life and take stock of the things you do have and the value we sometimes overlook in them. Travis is a brilliant songwriter with many hits to his credit. The struggles he’s faced likely weren’t known to the crowd, but no doubt Jake knew about them. He brought Travis out on stage with him to 14844511500_5509ae1aeb_zpersonally say thank you for a song that Jake says “may be the one I hang my hat on.” He’s full of pride when he talks about recording this song and releasing it as a single. For him, it was an honor to have Travis there to sing the song. The setting exemplified the meaning of the lyrics. Jake could have chosen to make the performance of this song all about him. The event itself could have been a celebration of all that he’s accomplished in his career thus far. Instead, he chose to put the spotlight on a raw moment of heartfelt emotion, poured out in a 14844651947_e74cd1f82e_zsimple arrangement, accompanied by a piano. Travis and Jake sang together and Joe Arick played the piano. Jake knows that you can get caught up in all that life has to offer, especially when you’re in a position to grab a bigger piece of the pie. This was his way of counting his blessings instead of his money, and giving his fans the impetus to do the same. Only someone who doesn’t know Jake Owen would see this as out of character for him. He isn’t the life of the party with an occasional aha moment. He’s serious about connecting with people through his music and building a camaraderie that can celebrate life’s good times and lift you up during the lows. It’s exactly why his legion of loyal fans always wants him to stay and sing just one more song.


Now the promoter don’t mind

And the union don’t mind

If we take a little time

And we leave it all behind, and sing

One more song


     All of the Jake Owen fans I’ve spoken to lament that time at the end of the show when they have to say good-bye to their favorite headliner until next time. They’d stay all night if he’d just keep singing. I asked Tim, the driver of one of his trucks, if he gets to watch all the shows. He said he could if he wanted to, and running on empty jackson browne[1]he did for much of the first few months of the tour. Unfortunately, show time is when he can try and get some rest before the all nighter he’s about to pull. As soon as the show ends, the work will begin again for the drivers and the crew who have waited patiently all day to tear down and pack up what you hoped would never leave. Tim told me that it takes a couple of hours to complete the process known as load out, generally putting them back on the road about 2-2:30am. JACKSON BROWNE immortalized “The Load Out” in a song by that name as a tribute to his roadies and his fans. It’s a song Jake Owen would appreciate for the 220px-The_Load_Out-Stay_12-inch_45_Promo_Label_Jackson_Browne[1]sentiments expressed and one his driver, Tim Burnham, proudly made me aware of. It’s a song I grew up singing, without ever really paying attention to what the lyrics were talking about. We all go to concerts, love the shows we see, and go home, never giving a second thought to what happens after we leave. As they wait for the load out to be complete, Tim tells me that their longest stretch on the road without getting home was eight and half weeks. It’s becoming a more common occurrence among drivers on tour, due to the increasing demand on the artists to stay out on the road longer in order to make ends meet financially. Jake didn’t schedule stops in Canada during the rough winter season but there are plenty of other acts who did. If that trend continues, we may soon see the ice road truckers sign on to safely deliver the goods to igloo amphitheaters up north. Welcome to 21st century On Tour Logistics!


Oh, won’t you stay

Just a little bit longer?

Please, please, please

Say you will, say you will


     Once the trucks are loaded and the checklist is complete, there’s no time for delay. Tim and the other drivers have a specific routine they follow when pulling out of a venue in search of the next. Tim’s truck will be the last to close it’s 1780899_795579157119951_1677395834_n[1]door after the final cargo is loaded, but the first to signify departure. The procedure they follow exiting the parking area has become one of superstition among them. Disregard it, and your safety could be in peril. Their official tour song is one recorded in 1984 by Ronnie Milsap called “Prisoner of the Highway.” Tim started playing it over the truck CB when they rolled out early in the tour season and it stuck. It talks about the freedom of the open road and the need to pacify a restless soul. The lyrics are something that resonates with the drivers and makes them appreciate the job they have. Tim said Jake’s crew members and mpGK3y3xxL2LGz6s9lvg2oA[1]tour drivers are a great bunch of guys. They all like the work and despite the fact that it is work, they have a great time doing it. Sounds like a philosophy Jake adheres to. The alternative to tour driving for many of the guys would be hauling freight. It’s an option they’re ok with, but one they’d rather avoid if a touring slot is available. These assignments are strictly based on a single tour schedule. There is no long term contract that guarantees you’ll be back with a particular artist when the next tour begins. True to Jake’s loyal character, he’s already said he wants the same guys back with him next year and though they know that anything can happen, they’re thrilled by the prospect of getting to stay on with Jake. He seems to have that affect on people. Anyone who’s spent any time around him just wants to stay a little longer. Leaving the BMI parking lot in the wee morning hours after JAKE’S BEACH PARTY, just after “Prisoner of the Highway” ends,  driver Jeff Richardson will come on the radio with a weather report for their intended destination. Stay as they might like, this is the green light that it’s time to move on.


Oh, won’t you stay

Just a little bit longer?

Oh please, please stay

Just a little bit more


     For everything we know about our favorite artists, there’s an equal amount we don’t know. The same could be said about the shows they put on and what 10429832_836186326392567_529760426835927398_n[1]went into the production of that concert we’re dying to see. We pass the trucks, see them parked at the venue, marvel at the stage setup and technology used at the show, without ever thinking about the crew and the skills involved in making all that concert magic happen. Just the logistics involved in getting everyone and everything delivered safely to each tour stop location is a minefield that must be traversed daily. The production materials have to arrive AND work to 14844683937_0cc14914a9_zmake that band look and sound as good as they can. Just as important is the safe delivery of the artists/musicians. Without them, you’ll be getting a refund (and probably be unhappy). The demands of touring, with the expectation of perfection in every performance, will take a toll after a long season that just keeps getting longer. As the headliner, all of this expectation from the fans, those counting on you for a job, and the label you’re signed to, will fall squarely on your shoulders 24/7. Add family responsibilities and a personal life to that, and anyone who can reasonably pull this off should be named entertainer of the year!


Now the promoter don’t mind

And the roadies don’t mind

If we take a little time

And we leave it all behind, and sing

One more song


     Artists live for the concert experience. The pinnacle of that is being a headliner. By the time they’ve reached that lofty place, a lot has gone into the making of the music that will be played and the relationship the artist has built 14840731778_e187509a2a_z with the fans. Fans love a great concert, and when it’s their favorite artist, they always want them to stay and sing just one more song. That’s what encores were made for. If you stumbled upon JAKE OWEN’S BEACH PARTY and didn’t know who he was, you might make certain assumptions. As you were walking past, you’d see what he looked like, hear a sound byte of his music, and hastily pass judgment. Depending on what part of the concert you saw, your opinion of Jake Owen would be different. If you were there for the entire event, 14844571838_97e91a1bcb_zyou would have a better understanding of Jake, his music, and his character. Bill McClintic‘s pictures from that night captured more than just Kodak moments from the show. When you photograph Jake, you get as much of his personality in those shots as his physical features. His character is present in every picture. Jake doesn’t take the stage at an event like this with 40,000+ fans screaming at him and think ‘Wow! Aren’t I cool?’ He 15026676582_819dc0044a_zthinks there’s nobody cooler than his fans…each and every one of them. Jake relates to people on a personal level, and his music is the expression of that connection. When Jake commits to a tour stop or an event, you don’t get an ‘I’m just passing through’ representation of him. You get ALL of him. He doesn’t hide away in his bus until show time. He immerses himself in the opportunities to leave something behind besides just empty beer cans and a half-hearted “thanks for coming.” He’ll invite some fans to lunch and pay the bill. Being the health 14844573907_c7614a37ec_znut he is, he likes to see kids eat, especially on his dime. If he has beer, he’ll find someone to share it with. If he’s got a night off on tour, he’ll ask at the local bar if he can play a free show for whoever shows up that night. Find a group of middle-aged women celebrating their birthdays, and he’ll leave tickets for the show and invite them on stage. Jake can be silly, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t be equally serious. He makes music that takes you where he’s been and shows you where his heart is. Music is a gift in his life and it’s one he RIVERSIDE CAFE JAKEcontinuously pays forward. The trucks bearing the Days of Gold banner will continue across America like a rolling stone. They’ll make stops in cities and the country alike before ending the tour in Jake’s home town of Vero Beach, Florida. He may look a little worse for wear when he gets there, but they won’t judge him for that. He’ll make the rounds, say hello to everyone, and probably play a free show back where he started at the RIVERSIDE Cafe. The visit will end too soon. They’ll wish he could stay, and he will too….just a little bit longer.


From WAYNorthofNashvilleBev Miskus

Bringing the stories of country music to life!


P.S. The live version of Jackson Browne’s song, “The Load Out,” was recorded at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD, on August 27, 1977. Jake will be playing at Merriweather Post on October 4-5. I bought those tickets long before I decided to write this article or had any idea that his drivers had a connection to the song. All in favor of Jake playing that song there…it’s overwhelmingly YES JAKE!!!


All of the photographs from Jake Owen’s 2014 Beach Party in Nashville, TN, appear courtesy of Bill McClintic of 90 East Photography. For professional inquiries, please refer to the contact information on his Facebook page:


All of the photographs of Jake’s tour trucks and drivers appear courtesy of Tim Burnham (On Tour Logistics).

Special thanks to Tim Burnham and Bill and Patti McClintic for their ENORMOUS contributions to this article! Without them, the facts and event photographs would not exist!

Jake’s band members provided not only the AWESOME music for this concert but the rock star poses for the pictures!! They are: Dave Wallace (guitar), Derek Williams (guitar and whatever else needs playing), Rob Emerson (bass), Joe Arick (keys, guitar, harmonica), and Myron Howell (drums).


Download Jake’s new single! Only .69 NOW on iTunes! HERE

Better yet – download the whole album! HERE


Jake’s set design for the Days of Gold Tour was inspired by the Riverside Cafe in his home town of Vero Beach, Florida. Jake got his start in the music business here and will always call it home. To see what went into the making of Jake’s set and his music career, read my article about the FABULOUS RIVERSIDE CAFE:

There’s nothing better than LIVE music and nothing worse than a loved one not returning home from that great concert. Drink responsibly. Enjoy the show. Drive safe. Thanks for the reminder Budweiser!!

©2014Bev Miskus