Tag Archives: Jason Aldean




     Jason Aldean’s hit song about Nashville, “Crazy Town,” describes rolling into town and shaking off the “where you came from dust” so you can become somebody famous. “It’s a crazy town full of neon dreams, Everybody plays everybody sings.” That’s the artist side of things. Sell your soul to the devil for a hit record. For every artist who comes to Nashville hoping the city is a dream catcher, there’s a songwriter who moves there to tell stories. He’s not looking to shake off where he came from because that’s the foundation of his character and the source of his inspiration. While an artist may be willing to edit his image, a songwriter is only as good as the truth he can tell. Travis Meadows didn’t come to Nashville with aspirations of standing in a neon spotlight or becoming a songwriter. He was a songwriter long before he set foot in Music City and fame wasn’t something he coveted. His craft is dependent on taking life’s moments of stark reality and turning them into lyrics. “Davidson County Police” is a song Travis wrote that describes some of his truth. Blue lights shining in his face, it’s as if he was asked to take a songwriter’s oath: “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” Hand on the Bible, Travis answers in the affirmative. The truth is all he knows.

     To be a songwriter, you must first be a writer. In Travis’ words, “You either are or you aren’t a writer. You don’t become one.” For Travis, the writing started around age six or seven when be began rhyming things, writing poems. His progression from poetry to songwriting took place casually in his childhood. He grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, the dirt beneath his songwriting roots. About the age of ten, he started playing drums and learning rock songs. KISS’ “Detroit Rock City” and Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak” were among the first he recalled having played. Around eleven, he connected the dots between poetry and songwriting. He wrote a poem and started making up words. “Lonely Heart” was his first song. A tectonic shift in his life happened when he was eleven, the age he remembers his first addiction started. He describes himself as having an addictive personality. When he does something, it’s all or nothing. His songwriting would become a product of those addictions and an addiction in itself. This was the beginning of Travis’ lifelong need to write songs.

     You might expect that Travis Meadows cut his songwriting teeth and his performance skills in Nashville. He didn’t. When Travis stepped off the bus, or got out of the car, the sign he saw said ‘Gatlinburg.’ Around the age of 21, Travis moved to Gatlinburg and learned to play the guitar. This would be no casual MEADOWS, TRAVIS GUITAR CLOSE UP EYES CLOSEDpreoccupation. When he was learning something new, it consumed him. He would play a song for 24 hours, marking it indelibly in his mind. One of those he learned was “Helpless” by Neil Young. Travis said he never followed bands much. He was more a fan of the singer/songwriters like Neil Young and Bob Dylan. What led to his taking a seat behind a microphone, putting a guitar in his hands, and singing his songs to entertain people wasn’t emulating those musicians he admired. It was a fellow Mississippian turned Tennessee resident that caught his eye. Watching Elvis movies, Travis saw a regular guy going about his life turn into something special when he picked up a guitar and started to sing. People suddenly paid attention to him. Encouraged, Travis started performing for the lunch crowd at a deli in Gatlinburg. He says he started out playing just three songs. He added a fourth and eventually was able to make selections from 100 songs he knew. This was the beginning of a dream for Travis that would lead to his making a bucket list move a few years down the road.

     Travis didn’t move to Nashville to become a famous songwriter. He moved to Nashville because he wanted to write with the best songwriters. Starting out an unknown entity in Music City, he went about trying to get a publishing deal. He’d had a few hits on Christian radio but now had to get the guys in the country market to pay attention to him. He had a series of meetings where he was playing some Christian songs while the guy that was supposed to be listening to him was otherwise occupied checking his email. At the last of these meetings, he decided to play some country tunes. This made the listener start taking notes. A day or two later, he had three publishers meetings. He said the first two went so bad he didn’t bother to go to the third one. He left demoralized. Songwriting was what he’d come to Nashville to do. There was no plan B. What happened next he describes as “the beginning of the end that started the beginning.”

     After an unplanned hiatus from songwriting, Travis found his way back to his passion. He says he traded dingy, dank bars for open mic and writer’s nights at more reputable establishments. These places are the proving grounds for some of Nashville’s best songwriters. Surrounding himself with new walls and new MEADOWS, TRAVIS SINGINGfaces was the inspiration he needed to write again on a level that might just land him a publishing deal. He described this new source of inspiration as “digging water from a different well.” Travis had been writing songs for an Australian country singer named Adam Brand. On the day that Scott Gunter from Universal came to see him perform, he played three of those songs. Unlike his previous experiences, this turned out to be a life changing day in a good way. Scott loved the performance and signed him to a publishing contract. He also learned that day that Adam Brand had recorded one of his songs. I doubt it happens often that a newly signed songwriter has a recorded song on the first day of his publishing contract. This would be his lucky day. If you ask Travis how he landed this deal, he’ll attribute it to luck as much as his credentials as a songwriter. He says landing a deal is a crap shoot based on the particular day and whose ear is doing the listening. Music is subjective by nature. Just as we choose music based on what we’re in the mood to hear at a given time, so might the guy whose job it is to decide the fate of your deal. Your future as a professional songwriter may be at the mercy of his mood.

     So Travis Meadows is now a professional songwriter living in Nashville. His dream come true! I’d always wondered how songwriters make money, so I took this opportunity to ask one. Travis’ response: “Hell if I know.” He says quarterly checks appear in his mailbox and calls it “magic money.” Explaining what he did know, he summarized the two types of royalties that songwriters earn. Performance Royalties are paid when music is performed publicly. This would include radio, in a bar, over Spotify and Pandora, etc. PROs (performance rights organizations) such as ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, collect performance royalties from music users and subsequently pay the songwriters and publishers. Mechanical Royalties are paid to songwriters and artists whenever music is sold. This would include vinyl and CD sales as well as streaming. For songwriters, mechanical royalties are set by the government (9 cents for every dollar earned via sale).  To receive his royalty check, Travis had to decide which PRO he wished to join. He was with ASCAP for 15 years before switching to BMI. The rate of payout fluctuates and often determines which PRO a songwriter will sign with. Travis doesn’t dwell on the subject of money when talking about songwriting. He says if you got into songwriting to make money, you’d be better off as a plumber. For him, it’s never been about making money. Commercial success rarely happens to writers. In his words, “Writers write because there’s something on the inside that needs to get out.”

     While songwriting is Travis Meadows’ occupation, it’s not a nine to five gig. Inspiration can come at all hours to a writer and may strike when you have nothing more than a napkin to write on. Creative passion doesn’t punch a time clock, nor can it be ordered up like a hamburger with toppings that suit the consumer. Songwriters have taken a beating for the cliched sound of country radio these days, lambasted as if they’ve suddenly run out of words. Travis says he pays no attention to country radio. He keeps busy – “head down and hands on the plow.” His spark comes from inside and his songs reflect the truth that built the man. He quoted Harlan Perry Howard, a hall of fame songwriter, when relating the belief from which he writes. “Country music is three chords and the truth.” Travis understands the role radio plays, often filling commute time with non-thinking music. Someone has to write the music to fill that spot and there are songwriters who do that exceptionally well. For something deeper, you’ll have to look outside the box. Many have been quick to report the demise of  good songwriting in country music, never having looked past the store window that radio represents. Great songs are written every day by truth tellers like Travis Meadows, but it’s unlikely you’ll ever hear them. Travis says that sometimes great songs slip through to country radio, but historically, the best cuts never do. For the holy grail of Nashville songwriting, attend a Writers’ Round.

     Travis played a Writers’ Round at Douglas Corner recently with friends, Lucie Silvas and Tyler Bryant. Patti McClintic was there for that event and had this to say about the experience: “Travis is enjoying commercial success with hit songs he’s written for Jake Owen, “What We Ain’t Got,” and Dierks Bentley, “Riser.” He played both of those songs for the crowd gathered at Douglas Corner and they were well received, but it was his lesser known songs that brought down the house.” Patti said it was difficult to choose which songs she felt most impacted by and which she would talk about because all of his MEADOWS, TRAVIS GUITAR FINGER UPselections deserved a mention. The two she settled on were “Minefield” from Travis’ 2011 album, Killin’ Uncle Buzzy, and “Black” from his 2007 album, My Life 101. In her words, ““Minefield” speaks to anyone who has ever found themselves in a dark place, found the light, and succumbed to the darkness once again, generally thanks to one’s own poor decisions. To hear Meadows explain how this song came about, reveals how honest he is about his own difficult past. He makes no apologies for that past, and rightfully so. “Black” is a song written for a grandfather that served as a surrogate father for Meadows as a boy. The relationship was a good one and left him with fond memories. The title refers to the black coffee that “granddaddy” used to drink. “Real men drink their coffee black.” This song was so powerful, as I glanced across the capacity crowd, I could see people trying to nonchalantly wipe tears from their cheeks. Rare is the writer that can evoke such raw emotions from the listener.” In such a setting, Travis has the opportunity to explain his connection to the song and the  circumstances that inspired its writing. Being in a room with several songwriters, all performing their powerful truths, is a cataclysmic experience. Patti called this the “perfect storm of songwriting” and summed up her review by saying, “It was the best ten bucks I ever spent.”

     Outside the Writers’ Rounds, where the truth is less self evident, country music is a changing genre. There’s been a lot of debate about the sound of country music and where it’s headed in the future. Traditionalists want to pull the genre back to its roots while others think the time is right to push the boundaries. Travis keeps an open mind about the music and doesn’t see the need to compartmentalize it. He referenced Eric Church when talking about this subject, saying that his fans aren’t necessarily country fans. Eric has amassed a following based on his music and who he is. If this were a game of rock, paper, scissors, music beats genre. The impact of the digital age on music hasn’t been lost on Travis either. He says that people buy songs these days, not albums, and they make playlists that include different genres of music. He isn’t surprised that this type of genreless listening has found its way into the music and thinks it may not be such a bad thing. He also reminded me that this isn’t the first time country music has had its boundaries tested. In the 60s, Ray Price added orchestral parts to the music, breaking from the traditional honky tonk sounding arrangements that were the accepted norm of the day. Travis sees country as a genre in a box, imposing its own growth restrictions. As a songwriter whose craft depends on his growth as a person, he relishes the artistic freedom that growth allows.

     Travis Meadows says he’s growing as a person and channeling that growth into a new album. There’s no time limit on the project and he’s not sure what the finished product will look like. As of now, he has about 17 songs for it but admits he has no idea what will end up on the record. What he does know is that MEADOWS, TRAVIS WITH HARMONICAthis album will definitely be lighter than the first two. When he wrote Killin’ Uncle Buzzy, he says the purpose was to save a life. He never intended for it to be heard. When it was so overwhelmingly accepted and lauded for the truths it told, it cast a long shadow on what was to follow. Travis says just to get past the reverberations of Uncle Buzzy, he wrote and released Old Ghosts & Unfinished Business. He admits there was no other reason for it. This time, he wants things to happen organically. He’s playing shows, going about his daily life, and thinking about what he needs to say. In order to say something new, he says he has to answer the question, “Who is Travis today?” The music will reflect that personal growth.

     For Travis Meadows, his life and his life’s work is in the songs he’s written, and he says he loves them all. I asked a hard question of a songwriter, to choose a few of his favorites from among the vast catalog. Travis said the list would change daily, but these rose to the top on this day: “Learning How To Live Alone” (Killin’ Uncle Buzzy), “Davidson County Police” (Killin’ Uncle Buzzy) because it was heavy and life changing, “Lucky One” (My Life 101), “My Life 101” (My Life 101) because it was his truth, not what they wanted to hear, “Old Ghosts” (Old Ghosts & Unfinished Business) because he made peace with the ghosts of his past by turning and looking at them, “Riser” (Dierks Bentley, Riser), and “What We Ain’t Got” (Jake Owen, Days Of Gold). Having come to Nashville to write with some of the best songwriters, I asked who he most enjoyed writing with. He said there were many, so just to name a few he listed Jeremy Spillman, Tony Lane, Tom Douglas, and Melissa Peirce. Travis said you never know what’s going to come out of a writing session, sometimes you come up empty, but every once in a while you come up with something great. With characteristic humility he said, “As a songwriter, you have to smile at heaven when you write something bigger than you because it’s too clever for you to have written.”


     I requested an interview with Travis Meadows the songwriter, what I got as a bonus was a conversation with Travis the man. There is no separating the man from his work. His work is merely a manifestation of the the life he’s lived and the man he’s become. He spent a good many years of his life learning to be comfortable in his own skin. As he put it, “I had to learn to be me.” His MEADOWS, TRAVIS WAIST UPsongwriting is the embodiment of all that he’s learned and the truth of his actions. Commercial success is not what motivates him. He told me that he writes what he loves, not what you want to hear. At the end of the day, when he signs his name to a song he’s written, he does so knowing it was the best he could do that day. He’s become known for writing good songs. Even with the spotlight that writing hit songs for Jake Owen and Dierks Bentley has given him, Travis is most at home where songwriters gather. He said playing at the Ryman was not the pinnacle for him. Playing the 9 o’clock show at the Bluebird Cafe is a gratifying pat on the back that says he’s made it in a songwriter’s town, where the best of the best come to tell their truths. His was not a neon dream. Travis has found that success for a humble man is simply three chords and the truth.

From WAY North of Nashville……..Bev Miskus

Watch the video for Jake Owen’s “What We Ain’t Got”!

Songwriters: Travis Meadows, Travis Jerome Goff

Travis said when they wrote the song, it was with the idea that it would be a guy and a girl song. Jake’s video gave it new life. He said he never envisioned it like that and it’s become bigger than he ever thought it could be.

Visit Travis Meadows’ website: http://travismeadows.com/


Download My Life 101 on iTunes: HERE


Download Killin’ Uncle Buzzy on iTunes: HERE


Download Old Ghosts & Unfinished Business on iTunes: HERE


Photographs courtesy of Bill McClintic at 90 East Photography.

Visit his website for contact information: http://www.90eastphotography.com/home.html

The essential Travis Meadows playlist!

Learning How To Live Alone” – Killin’ Uncle Buzzy

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

Davidson County Police” – Killin’ Uncle Buzzy

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

Lucky One” – My Life 101

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

My Life 101” – My Life 101

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

Old Ghosts” – Old Ghosts & Unfinished Business

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

Black” – My Life 101

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

Minefield” – Killin’ Uncle Buzzy

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

What We Ain’t Got” – Jake Owen – Days Of Gold

Songwriters: Travis Meadows, Travis Jerome Goff

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

Dark Side” – Eric Church – The Outsiders

Songwriters: Eric Church, Travis Meadows, Jeremy Spillman

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

Riser” – Dierks Bentley – Riser

Songwriters: Travis Meadows, Steve Moakler

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

©2015Bev Miskus



(Featuring DEE JAY SILVER!!)


Available on iTunes: HERE

     When someone says they’ve hired a DJ to play at an event, what comes to your mind? Usually it’s not a particular stereotype of the actual person spinning those records (sorry, old school lingo), but more an image of what you’ll hear. Mostly, there’s little thought given to WHO will be playing the music, just WHAT they’ll be playing. If you find someone who’s serious about the music and the profession, the personality of the DJ will become as much a part of the entertainment as the music is. When you discover a really good one, it can feel like you’ve struck gold – or in this case, SILVER!

     I heard about DEE JAY SILVER and I listened to his music long before I saw him at a Jason Aldean concert last summer. Having never been to a country concert prior to that one, I didn’t know whether having your own tour DJ was unusual or not. I knew Jason Aldean wouldn’t fit in any pre-cut mold, so I doubted his DJ would either. Have you ever heard of a DJ putting out his own EP or being signed to a record label? Me neither. Those two things, coupled with Jason Aldean putting him on his tour, told me that this was not some B list music geek with an overly large collection of music, who happened to be a COUNTRY CLUB EP DEE JAY SILVERfriend of Jason’s. I expected this guy to blow my mind – musically. When I listened to his Country Club EP for the first time, I thought iTunes was messing with me. These were country songs and iTunes had labeled it country, but Alabama never recorded with Nappy Roots and Carrie Underwood and Dolly Parton had never duetted on those songs as far as I knew. I figured either iTunes had been hacked, or this guy was smoking some serious weed. I know now that iTunes was not hacked; I didn’t ask about the other one.

      So how does someone get started doing something this cutting edge, and have the guts to play it outside the confines of their garage? First, you have to start with a personality like Dee Jay Silver’s. Having talked with him for the purpose of this article, what struck me most about the conversation was the guy I was talking to. When someone loves what they’re doing, it shows, even through a phone conversation. He got started 11 years ago. He’d gone to college, had a good paying job, and was quickly becoming a responsible adult…and hating every minute of it. Most people would continue along that path and hope something better came along. John (that’s his real name) had a better idea, and more importantly, the guts to give it a try. And because of that bold move… “you’re now listening to the sounds of Dee Jay Silver!!

      You can’t be a DJ if you don’t love music, so that’s a given. Dee Jay Silver LOVES country music but listens to all genres like most people these days. He told me that when he’s on the road at concert venues, what he hears in the parking lots is not just the music of the artist these people are paying to see. Coming from the formidable sound systems in some DEE JAY SILVER NIGHT TRAIN TOURof these vehicles, is usally a mix tape. The iTunes mentality extends itself to the way we listen to music, everywhere. How often does anyone play an entire album anymore? Even if they do, it’s likely they shuffle the order, because they can. So the leap from shuffling the songs to mixing things within the songs isn’t really that far fetched by today’s standards. However, like all things, the timing is often as important as the product. Jason Aldean’s 2010  album, My Kinda Party, was cutting edge in its own right. The second track, “Dirt Road Anthem,” had Jason rapping parts of the song. When he did a remix of the song and featured Ludacris doing the rap parts, I can still remember the performance, and I bet I’m not the only one. Dee Jay Silver went on the road with Jason for the My Kinda Party Tour. He said Jason asked him to listen to the remix and tell him what he thought. When I think of those two in a room listening to that remix, I can picture the angel Gabriel tapping Tupac on the shoulder and saying “Holler If Ya Hear me.”

      Dee Jay Silver had a lot to say about Jason Aldean and his respect for him as an artist was evident. The chances Jason took musically and the opportunity being on his tour at DEE JAY SILVER AND JASON ALDEAN that time presented, gave him the platform with which to experiment as a DJ. He told me that “Dirt Road Anthem” was not well received initially, but when the remix came out, things started to gel. Eventually it would become the top selling ringtone (=vindication, just sayin’). Being on the road together over three years and becoming close friends in the process, what came out of that time was an interactive, intuitive Dee Jay Silver, who not only played just the right songs at just the right times, but who took being a DJ to a whole new level. His Country Club EP came out in June of last year. Without any marketing at all it went to #23 on iTunes, which gives you an indication of his talent as an artist and the doors that talent would soon open.

      If you look at Dee Jay Silver’s website, you will see the list of his upcoming shows. You will also see the diversity in the places and events he plays. He has done shows in the U.S., DEE JAY SILVER CMA FESTCanada, and Mexico. He’s played marquee events, sporting events, celebrity parties, award show after parties, and the X-Games, just to name a few. This is in addition to being on tour with a top country artist all year. With most people, this topic would have dominated our conversation. It didn’t. He talked to me about the hard knocks he had to take to open doors for those who would follow. He talked about how others had helped him along the way. What I found in Dee Jay Silver was a guy who loves country music and wants everyone else to give it a try. He wants to share what he loves to do with his audience and hopes  that they go home at the end of the night with at least an appreciation for, if not a newfound love of the music he played. That’s it. He has the utmost respect for the genre and for the artists who are a part of it, and for the fans who make it possible.

      When I asked Dee Jay Silver for an interview, I expected his schedule wouldn’t allow it even if he wanted to. When he’s not on the road, he’s in Nashville…somewhere. The wealth of opportunities that have come his way, he’s earned. He records a weekly syndicated DEE JAY SILVER RADIO SHOWradio show in Nashville every Tuesday. “The Country Club with Dee Jay Silver” is now in 47 markets across the country and picking up new stations weekly. The skills he’s developed while on the road plus the innovative music he’s recorded make him a natural fit for a radio show. Listening to him reminds me of radio DJs of old  who created a brand with their radio shows. Hearing that voice with the added bonus of pulling in listeners with their personality, is something you don’t see much anymore. Much of radio today feels clinical and highly formatted. Dee Jay Silver’s feels more like a club atmosphere, combining the high energy and spontaneity of clubbing on a Saturday night. In addition to his radio gig, he’s also working on an album (yea!), and he’s launched a clothing line called, appropriately, Silverwear. This year marks a bit of a separation for he and Jason (no irreconcilable differences) as the opportunity to work with Brad Paisley was offered and he accepted. It’s an exciting combination on the road with Brad’s guitar hero skills and Dee Jay Silver’s ingenuity, and the possibilities are….well go see the tour!

      Some genres today have people talking more because of the antics onstage than the music. There’s a great deal of discussion about country music and where it’s headed. The positive in all of this is that people ARE talking about country music. It’s entering markets once thought unreachable. Dee Jay Silver is one major reason for the shifting tide we’ve seen in the acceptability of country music, not just on the back roads but in the night clubs and at posh parties as well. He’s taken his fair share of criticism, as all innovators do, but he hasn’t lost his enthusiasm for the music or the job. What makes him so unique, as a DJ and as an artist, is that he sees no boundaries and doesn’t fear stepping into the unknown. The possibility that he might convince one outsider to give the music a try, is all he asks for. He’ll keep mixing and remixing the music until he finds a combination his audience DEEJAY-SILVER-FINAL-BLACK-BACKlikes. If you search for a DJ, you’re likely to find an abundance of them. Anyone can play a song or announce a song title. The DEE JAY SILVER brand is one of a kind. He’s at home in country music, but not exclusively in the country. He can take his show anywhere, worldwide, and find a mix his audience will appreciate. He’s making country music fans out of people who’ve never bought a country album before and don’t know who George Strait is (Shh! – I think that’s a felony in Texas!).  They say gold is more valuable than silver. Apparently, they’ve never met this SILVER, because his stock is way up, on the New York Stock Exchange and in country clubs everywhere!

 P.S. Dee Jay Silver assured me that he and Jason will be together again some day. As soon as I finish this, I’m drawing up a contract. They will both be getting a copy in the mail. Sign and return guys!

From WAY North of NashvilleBev Miskus




There are an abundance of ways to see Dee Jay Silver live, listen to his music, his radio show, and connect with him….

Visit his website at http://deejaysilver.com/

Follow him on twitter @deejaysilver1 https://twitter.com/deejaysilver1

Visit his facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DeeJaySilver

Visit this link to see his scheduled events: http://deejaysilver.com/index.php/schedule.html

For information on Brad Paisley’s Country Nation World Tour with special guests: Randy Houser, Charlie Worsham, Leah Turner, and rock star DEE JAY SILVER, visit Brad’s website – because he’s the boss https://www.bradpaisley.com/tour

To listen to his music, check out soundcloud here https://soundcloud.com/djsilverstl

His AWESOME EP – COUNTRY CLUB – is available on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/country-club-ep/id652248155



©2014Bev Miskus


I WANNA BE A ROCKSTAR…Real Life Lessons From Nashville Rockers Rich Redmond and Derek Williams


      These rockstars aren’t too cool for school….they’re cool because of it!



This poll is closed! Poll activity:
start_date 17/05/2014 13:27:01
end_date 01/09/2014 23:59:59
Poll Results:
Both of these guys ROCK, but somebody has to have bragging rights! Does Rich Redmond, representing Jason Aldean's band, ROCK your world? Or does Derek Williams, representing Jake Owen's band, make you wanna be a ROCK STAR?

     As the song by Nickelback explains it – “We all just wanna be big rockstars, And live in hilltop houses drivin’ fifteen cars, The girls come easy and the drugs come cheap, We’ll all stay skinny ’cause we just won’t eat…Hey, hey, I wanna be a rockstar.” As a life plan, being a rockstar is probably not a career choice your parents or your guidance counselor is likely to embrace. When I hear high school kids proclaiming their rockstar dreams out loud, they’re often labeled ‘dreamer,’ ‘delusional,’ or ‘deadbeat.’ Society seems to have a love affair with music but a gross misconception of musicians. Rockstars have often enabled those misconceptions by letting their wild lifestyles and larger than life personalities overshadow the music. Largely the term ‘rockstar’ is linked to personality rather than music professionalism. More often than not, being a musician isn’t considered a day job, or even a real job. The average person on the street thinks being in a band is all fun with little or no real work involved. If so, I wanna be a rockstar!

     When I looked up the word ‘rockstar’ in the dictionary, it is listed as a noun – “a famous singer or performer of rock music.” What’s lacking in that definition is the verb ‘work,’ preceded by the adjective ‘hard.’ If all there was to being a rockstar was buying a guitar or a drum set, taking a few lessons, and embracing your inner badass, there would be more rockstars than politicians (and how sweet that would be!). When a college student says they’re pursuing a music degree, generally it’s viewed as an easy course of studies with limited job opportunities pursuant to graduation. Over the course of three years, I had the opportunity to follow a college student at Shepherd University who was teaching my daughter piano lessons while working towards a music degree. Observing what her weekly schedule was like and all that was involved in earning that degree, was an eye opening experience. It may not be rocket science, but it is rocket science multitasking. Students looking for an easy path to a college degree need not apply! Earning this degree doesn’t guarantee success, but it does provide an unparalleled foundation for those who dream of one day becoming a professional rockstar.

     Contrary to popular belief, musicians who get paid to play are professionals. They have a passion for music and take their job very seriously, at least the good ones do. They’ve often spent years honing their craft, working odd jobs to support that passion, until they find an opportunity to play that earns them a decent living. There isn’t a reality show to win this opportunity, nor a lottery with a golden ticket to a rockstar lifestyle. Working hard and being prepared is the only yellow brick road to Music City. Most people probably wouldn’t make their way to Nashville if they were scouting rockstars, but you’d be surprised how many reside there. Country music has some of the best musicians in the industry. They may not rock and roll all night and party every day (#KISS), but they’re bringing a new sound to country music, a little less twang and a lot more bang! Some of these guys are headliners and guitar heroes, like Keith Urban and Brad Paisley, but many of them tour with the big names we know and love and have rockstar qualities of their own.


     After Garth Brooks and Shania Twain brought a new sound to country music and then stepped away for awhile, I lost interest in the genre. What brought me back was a drummer, a voice, and a band unlike anything I’d heard before on country radio. Rich Redmond was the drummer; Jason Aldean was the voice; and the band was rockin’ a song called “Hicktown.” I didn’t have a clue who Jason Aldean was, much less have any idea who the rockstar at the end of those sticks was. Rich Redmond is NOT a casual drummer. Having seen him play live a few times now, he is often the most enthusiastic guy on the stage next to the headliner. There is a quality to his drumming and a polish to his style that perfectly punctuates every song he plays on. Never too much or too little, always just right, and the delivery is controlled dynamite. He is a professional musician, a rockstar, with a reputation for excellence he earned. After reading his story, I was surprised to learn that he has a masters degree in music education. Awed by that, actually. So much for that stereotype of rockstars. Rich is a guy who has immersed himself completely in what he loves and shares his talents all over the country. He is a teacher, speaker, author, producer, and songwriter, when he’s not being a rockstar drummer with Jason Aldean’s band. I have no idea when he sleeps. He also has a great program called CRASH Course for Success, through which he shares his knowledge of what it takes to be successful, not only in the music business, but in life. Rich Redmond is a self-made man and an incredibly talented musician. If you or your child wants to make a career of music, there is no better role model than Rich. If drumming is your passion, he’s the guy to follow and/or take lessons from. To read his inspirational story, click this link: http://www.thatsmygig.com/artist-interview-no-overnight-success-with-jason-aldean-drummer-rich-redmond-part-1/ You can follow him on twitter @RichRedmond. Visit him on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/richredmond Connect with him via his website at: http://richredmond.com/ To learn more about his CRASH Course for Success, get the details here: http://crashcourseforsuccess.com/


     Following Rich Redmond’s career led me to the story I referenced above and a blog called That’s My Gig. I was so impressed by what I saw and read on that website that I wanted to know who was behind it. That curiosity led me to Derek Williams. Derek did the interview with Rich Redmond and after I read Derek’s bio, I discovered how similar their life and work philosophies are. Derek was a self-proclaimed rockstar wannabe from an early age. He was born in Nashville, but by no means did that guarantee him a music career. The lesson in Derek’s success story is that it takes more than a zip code to put you in the right place to realize your dreams. Poverty and drug abuse were two of the obstacles Derek had to overcome in his pursuit of a music career. His passion for music drove him to seize every opportunity, large or small, and to chase his rockstar dream through education, hard work, and perseverance. Today, Derek is on tour with Jake Owen. He is a guitarist, teacher, and career counselor. If you or your child has aspirations of being a guitar hero, this is your guy. Not only will you get guitar lessons from a skilled professional, you’ll get the added bonus of a mentor who’s living the dream. Visit Derek’s website to read his amazing bio and get information on the guitar lessons he offers: http://www.derekwilliamsguitar.com/ If you want to know what it’s really like being on tour, follow his tour journal via the website. His rockstar cool blog is called That’s My Gig. For anyone thinking about being a professional musician, this is your bible. The articles and information you’ll find here make up the rockstar book of revelations. You can subscribe to and read this AWESOME blog here: http://www.thatsmygig.com/

     Some of the biggest rockstars in history are also some of the greatest musicians. Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Jimmy Page aren’t rockstars who played guitar. They’re masters of the guitar whose playing made them rockstars. That mastery didn’t come from having a casual relationship with the guitar. That level of musicianship can only come from passion to the point of obsession. Practice makes perfect, and it takes a lot of practice to reach that level of perfection. Music education is often the catalyst for such fiery passion. Whether it’s a music lesson outside of school or part of a standard curriculum, the benefits from a strong music education program cannot be overstated. Through music, children learn to solve problems and make good judgments. Different types of music offer a kaleidoscope of perspectives and enrich the learning environment. For some, it’s the spark that keeps kids coming to school. Increasingly, music education programs are being cut in favor of more time spent on core subjects. For kids like Derek Williams who grew up impoverished, school music programs may be their only shot at finding and developing their musical talent. Guys like Derek and Rich are glowing examples of how to turn music lessons into life lessons. Education, practice, and hard work led them to a successful career in music. Being able to play alongside some of the biggest names in music knowing they earned it, made them rockstars. Perhaps it’s time to tweak that definition of rockstar to read something like this: a well educated, hard working music professional, who plays well with others and looks totally badass while doing it! For the path to get there, emulate Rich Redmond and Derek Williams. Think Rich Redmond’s CRASH Course for Success, not the crash course Motely Crue teaches. Hey, hey….I wanna be a rockstar!!

From WAY North of Nashville….Bev Miskus

http://crashcourseforsuccess.com/ WITH RICH REDMOND!








©2014Bev Miskus