Tag Archives: Parmalee



     “Suntans and white tank tops….Summertime and no flip flops…..A little country, a little rock, yeah, yeah.” Sounds like summer in Parmele, North Carolina, where four guys grew up and nurtured their musical roots. Matt and Scott Thomas are brothers who grew up in Parmele along with their cousin, Barry Knox, and friend, Josh McSwain. Barely a dot on the map with a PARMALEE INTERVIEW PARMELEpopulation of just 278, the closest concert venue was 88 miles away in Raleigh. The Walnut Creek Amphitheatre opened in 1991 and has played host to over 20 years of live music, including many concerts these guys attended. Watching some of their favorite bands perform on the big stage fueled their dreams of becoming a band worthy of playing here some day. Ten years after the opening of this venue, in 2001, these brothers formed a band that was as much a product of their musical influences as it was their talent and home town. Once Parmele born and bred, now bound together as Parmalee.

I’ll Bring the Music” – Feels Like Carolina

     For those old enough to remember the tape deck and the audio cassettes it played, it was a tedious process to fast forward to the exact spot you were PAISLEY, BRAD COUNTRY NATION WORLD TOUR WITH PARMALEE AND THE SWON BROTHERSlooking for in the music. Oftentimes you had to rewind when you overshot it and fast forward again to hit it just right. This is much like the process a band goes through in their formative years. I met with Parmalee on their tour bus outside the WVU Coliseum, where they were set to open for Brad Paisley on the winter leg of his Country Nation World Tour. They were comfortably confident on this day that they were prepared for the task. Their set list for the evening opened with “I’ll Bring the Music,” but to find out where that music came from, we’ll have to rewind to the music they were listening to “Back in the Day.”   

Back in the Day” – Feels Like Carolina

     Watching the bands play live at Walnut Creek is how Parmalee learned to play like one. Pearl Jam, The Allman Brothers Band, and Foo Fighters were among their favorites, but it wasn’t just the music that influenced them. Bands such as these have longevity on their side and it shows in their live WALNUT CREEK AMPHITHEATRE RDUperformances. Studying them is how these four guys honed their stage presence as a band. In the studio, there are a lot of things to play with that can affect the recorded sound. Live, it’s all about what you can make happen as a group in the moment, which means skill and interaction must balance to put on a high quality, entertaining show.

     Fast forward to the stage they’ll be playing on with Brad Paisley. When selecting the songs for the set list, knowing your audience is key. Parmalee PARMALEE INTERVIEW BARRY MATTmakes it their job to figure out what kind of crowd they’re playing to and uses the opportunities they have to play something they would like. Whether the fans prefer Bob Seger or Snoop Dog, they “Think You Oughta Know That.” Many of today’s headlining acts play to pre-recorded tracks. Parmalee doesn’t. Everything you hear, they’re actually playing. Their philosophy is if you’ve come to see a live show, you want it to sound live. Part of the fun for a band is keeping it fresh on stage and creating unique moments within each performance. Doing that means knowing your bandmates well enough to anticipate each other’s moves and react PARMALEE INTERVIEW JOSH ON GUITARaccordingly. Within their set, there is no down time for these four guys. Creating a live, organic performance means working through every minute on stage as if the band’s success depends on it. Unlike the headliner, whose set is likely in sync with lights, sounds, and videos, Parmalee has some leeway to change things up and still have their lighting engineer on target. Matt knows his limitations when the mood strikes to stray from the preset program and keeps it fresh, yet manageable.

Think You Oughta Know That” – Feels Like Carolina

     For Parmalee, being a band means their approach to the set list is creating an outline for an original performance. It is in no way a simple reproduction of their PARMALEE INTERVIEW BARRY MATT JOSHrecorded album. Within several of their songs, it works well to add snippets of popular music covers that vary based on the audience. Call it creating a live mixtape on the fly. One of the advantages they have to playing songs not everyone is familiar with is vocal flexibility. Fans become attached to their favorite songs as they were recorded. How it was sung on the one day of its recording is pressed in PARMALEE SCOTT IN COLORour memories. When the singer strays from that version, audiences don’t always react favorably. As the lead vocalist, Matt tries to stay close to the recorded sound while changing it up as he sees fit. As for the music, Scott says he never plays the drums live the way he played on the record. His versatility pushes the rest of the guys to adjust and create in the moment. Today,  Parmalee is an outstanding live band because they understand and embrace this concept and can adjust to suit any size venue or setting.


     With only four guys to create the sound of Parmalee, instrument choice and volume control matter. How much equipment they’re toting depends on the PARMALEE INTERVIEW BARRY POSEsize of the room that sound has to fill. Looking back, the guys credit playing all those shows in small rooms when they were just starting out for giving them a full spectrum vantage point. Being able to “Move” seamlessly between different sized venues, and not compromise their sound, is something Parmalee has done for years. They may play an acoustic setting where no amps are required one night and switch to two electric guitars and a bass the next in an arena. More equipment is needed to produce the volume an arena demands and how loud the drums are will determine how high that volume needs to go. Making adjustments is what sound check is for.

Move” – Feels Like Carolina

     Parmalee has the middle slot on Brad Paisley’s tour, which means their sound check will come after his band has finished and before the opening act, PARMALEE INTERVIEW BARRY JOSH ON KEYS MATTThe Swon Brothers, gets their turn. I asked them for their assessment of being in the middle relative to what they were used to. For most of the years they’ve been playing together, they’ve headlined their own shows, playing sets as long as 75+ minutes. They’ve had the opening slot at festivals but not on an organized tour, essentially skipping that step to where they are here. Being in the middle makes them less vulnerable to PARMALEE SCOTT ON DRUMSwhat happens during the day, which can lead to delays and a crunch for time. Opening acts take the fall for what may go awry on show days, sometimes missing a sound check entirely and having to “throw and go” when the lights go down. Parmalee’s set on this tour is 45 minutes long, “a breeze,” they called it, from what they’re used to as a headliner. Comparatively, they said an opening act may have two songs the audience is familiar with in a short set. Parmalee said they have three songs the fans may know and a longer time to entertain with songs they don’t. Their new single, “Already Callin’ You Mine,” was just released to radio, making it one more the fans will soon recognize off their debut album, Feels Like Carolina. There are no cover songs in Parmalee’s set, so the songs on the album get shuffled to make up the set list. It would be the launch of this first album that set the wheels of their tour bus in motion.

Already Callin’ You Mine” – Feels Like Carolina

Download the new single through iTunes: HERE

     The first thing I asked about, when I sat with the guys for this interview, was the bus we were sitting on. They’ve done a lot of traveling in their 14 years as a band, most of which was not on a comfortable tour bus. Van and trailer gigs are the norm for a band starting out, and Parmalee said that getting the bus is PARMALEE INTERVIEW MATT ACOUSTIC COLORprobably the biggest change for a band. When they started playing the big festivals, the bus became a necessity, making their time on the road a whole lot easier. A tour bus is considered a big perk for a band, but Josh said having a crew with them now is an even bigger perk. When I asked what the criteria was for hiring a crew, the guys laughed and said, “Getting paid enough to have one.” Fair enough. Last year, they were able to hire two guys to assist them. Now, they have six crew members and a driver along for the ride, making it a snug fit with PARMALEE INTERVIEW BARRY TAMBOURINE11 guys on the bus. They’re also hauling a trailer packed from top to bottom with equipment. Prior to having the crew, they would arrive for a show and have to set everything up themselves. They said it’s taken about a year to find the right guys that fit the bill and the budget, mostly going by word of mouth recommendations and choosing from what they called a small community of roadies in Nashville. The other big change for them this year is finding themselves on stage with someone they idolized, Brad Paisley. Brad is one of the most skilled guitar players in Nashville, and that fact is not lost on these guys. Sharing the stage with him has left Parmalee a little awed by where they are and cognizant of where they’ve been. Now that they have the bus, they can toast this with a little “Day Drinkin’” in style.

Day Drinkin’” – Feels Like Carolina

     Between show dates, the guys are back home in Nashville working on their upcoming new album. There is no scheduled release date for it yet, but we PARMALEE INTERVIEW JOSH B & Wdiscussed the process of recording in Nashville, which is unlike any other place in the world. Taking advantage of present day technology and the resources they have available in Nashville makes them appreciate how far we’ve come in the evolution of music. The guys remember listening to things on the tape deck with their dads and said they came of age doing things on analog tape. They’ve gone through the process of making music in a lot of different ways, appreciating the experience for what it’s taught PARMALEE INTERVIEW MATT POSEthem. Only in Nashville can you potentially write a song, record the demo, have top musicians play on it, press it, and have it ready for sale in one day. Not that anyone does this, but Nashville has the resources to make it possible. Recognizing the advantages of digital music and the speed of the process, they still expressed a desire to have at least one of their albums pressed in vinyl. Having a record player, like Barry does, and a collection of vinyl albums is hip again. Perhaps if they get a vinyl copy of the new album, they can listen to it at Barry’s house, and talk about the days when vinyl was king. Just “Another Day Gone.”

Another Day Gone” – Feels Like Carolina

     In some ways, Parmalee has embraced the old school way of recording and settled into the process with their second album. They’ve found things easier this time around because they’ve gotten to know the songwriters better and have been able to write with some of the best in Nashville. They’re writing as th5O88P53Lmuch as they can, and with the luxury of not being pushed to finish the record, if a great song comes their way, they can opt to record it. They’ve recorded four songs so far, but the process is ongoing. It’s not as simple as going into the studio and in one day having a finished product. Parmalee works with New Voice Entertainment on the production process, a group comprised of Rich Redmond, Tully Kennedy, Kurt Allison, and David Fanning. Getting the four of them and the four guys from Parmalee in one room PARMALEE INTERVIEW JOSH ON KEYSat the same time is a balancing act that requires finding small blocks of time over the course of a year to complete the process. They may cut 20 songs for the record and have to whittle it down to 12 or so, but that’s a positive problem. While writing is a big part of the new project, so is playing on the album. On most of the records recorded in Nashville, studio musicians are used instead of the guys who play on tour with the artist. These professionals can knock out a recording in one day. Parmalee, as a band, plays on their own records. They spend most of their time playing as a live band and that’s the sound they want to capture on the recordings. This requires time and patience to get it to sound the way they want it to, but they see it as part of being a band, and they love it. Like the lyrics of  “My Montgomery” state, “trading these Chicago lights for fireflies,” there’s something to be said for finding brilliance in what comes naturally.

My Montgomery” – Feels Like Carolina


     From the studio to the venue, if there’s one thing Parmalee‘s music makes you want to do, it’s “Dance,” and in 2014, those dance floors got bigger. On select dates, Parmalee opened for Jake Owen on the Days of Gold Tour. If you saw one of these shows, you “Musta Had a Good Time.” This took them to PARMALEE INTERVIEW BARRY WITH JAKEsmall arenas and amphitheatres across the country. In addition to those dates, they played large festivals that sometimes had them performing for 60,000 people. They opened a show in Ohio for Florida Georgia Line and Jason Aldean and played Faster Horses in Michigan. Aside from the festivals though, the sold out crowd at the WVU Coliseum was the biggest they’d played for. As it so happened, I was witnessing Parmalee PARMALEE INTERVIEW MATT AND JOSHhistory, and this is just the start of a big year for them. They have three months on tour with Brad Paisley, after which they will go back to headlining their own shows again. Their first USO Tour is coming up in a couple of weeks. It’s a ten day trip and a chance to support the troops they’re looking forward to. In late April, they’ll be playing Stagecoach for the first time, and when the summer season arrives, they will once again be performing for multitudes at outdoor festivals.

Dance” – Feels Like Carolina

     When most people talk about their dreams, you picture it as something that exists only when you “Close Your Eyes.” When I asked Parmalee what their dream venues were, their eyes were wide open and looking towards the future. The three places that came out first were Madison Square Garden, The PARMALEE INTERVIEW CAROLINA LYRICS PICHollywood Bowl, and Red Rocks. Then, almost in unison, they declared the Walnut Creek Amphitheatre in Raleigh their ultimate choice. “Carolina” became Parmalee’s first #1 single with lyrics that may have foreshadowed these dream choices. “…she feels like Carolina, looks like California, Shining like those New York lights on Broadway.” They’ve played the side stage at Walnut Creek but haven’t had the chance to play the main stage yet. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. Having met these guys, one thing is certain, Carolina will always have their back as much as this band of brothers will always have each other’s. In their music, on the stage, and in life, these four guys exude a bond that is palpable. The music and the talent they play it with is entirely a product of who they are and where they came from. They take nothing for granted and appreciate the journey they’ve been on and the places it’s taken them so far. No matter what stage they play on, in any city in the world, as long as they can play music together the only way they know how, it Feels Like Carolina.

Carolina” – Feels Like Carolina

From WAY North of Nashville…..Bev Miskus


All of the LIVE photos of Parmalee are courtesy of Bill McClintic at 90 East Photography. Visit his website to see additional photos and for booking information: http://www.90eastphotography.com/home.html


Feels Like Carolina is available through iTunes NOW for just $5.99! HERE

Read my review of Feels Like Carolina: http://waynorthofnashville.com/parmalee-ready-to-make-their-move/


Visit Parmalee’s website: http://parmalee.com/

Follow Parmalee on Twitter @parmalee

 Follow Parmalee on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/parmaleemusic


For information on how you can join the Parmalee Famalee and all the amazing things they do, read my interview with Shari: http://waynorthofnashville.com/stand-by-me-superfans/

Become a member of the Parmalee Famalee on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/parmaleefamalee/

 Follow Parmalee Famalee on Twitter @ParmaleeFamalee

©2015Bev Miskus


Country Roads Take Brad Paisley’s Winter Tour Home To West Virginia


Download Brad’s #1 single, “Perfect Storm,” through iTunes: HERE

       Brad Paisley came home this past weekend to kick off the winter season of his Country Nation World Tour in Morgantown, West Virginia. He performed two shows at the WVU Coliseum with a lot of students in attendance, none of which were likely expecting to be schooled by Brad in the art of concert Brad-Paisley-Country-Nation-World-Tourperformance 101. The cost of this class was the price of admission and on Saturday night, this was a sold out class. As one of the lucky students in this coliseum turned classroom, I watched a master class in live performance by a headliner who appreciates the art form that live music can be and the professional musicians it takes to create such art. Every aspect of this show was staged only to the point of being a platform for audience interaction, opening act participation, video enhancement, and inspired musical excellence. Not one detail was missed in the preparation for this show when taking into account all of the elements that would be present. When Brad’s drummer, Ben Sesar, broke into a drum solo late into the evening, I already knew where this was leading and I was ready to shout these lyrics: “Got it bad, got it bad, got it bad…….I’m HOT FOR TEACHER!!”

     Brad Paisley is an entertainer who values family and music and his live show is an extension of those values. His opening acts on this tour are two family based groups, The Swon Brothers and Parmalee, both of which share Brad’s approach to creating music and delivering an organic, in the moment performance. The Swon Brothers, Zach and Colton, engage with the audience THE SWON BROTHERS LATER ONas if they know every person in the room. Their opening slot only allows for the playing of a few songs, giving them little time to make a lasting impression. Most people aren’t familiar with their original music just yet, so it’s not as much about what they’re singing as it is about their delivery. Covering a Boston classic was a comfortable fit and leaving the audience with their radio single, “Later On,” provided the first link to a future musical identity. It was a solid performance that was well received.

     Parmalee is a band made up of two brothers, Matt and Scott Thomas, a cousin, Barry Knox, and their best friend, Josh McSwain. They’ve played together for a very long time and their live show is a product of that relationship and longevity. Parmalee’s music is arena ready and could easily be reproduced on the stage with nothing more than a turn it up mentality. Fortunately, these Parmalee_CountryMusicRocks_net-copyguys are a band in every sense of the word and understand the opportunity they have to create something new with each performance. They opened with “I’ll Bring the Music” and it was a statement they delivered on. Matt was brilliant in introducing each song with a scenario that played on relatability. In the absence of having instantly recognizable intros, giving the listeners a connection to the music keeps them attentive and engaged. It also allows for improvisation within the songs because the audience isn’t attached to a singular recorded version. While Matt was talking to the crowd before each song, the band provided a unique segue that gave them flexibility to keep it fresh. They used particular creative license in “Musta Had a Good Time” and “Dance” by adding snippets of other songs the audience knew well. Parmalee’s set was an invitation to dance and have a good time while leaving this West Virginia audience with a sampling of music that Feels Like Carolina. I’d say the crowd’s reaction made these boys from Carolina feel like home’s not so far away.

Download Parmalee’s new single, “Already Callin’ You Mine” thru iTunes: HERE

     At this point in the show, the opening acts typically disappear and the headliner takes the stage. Not here. Never before have I seen such a creative and thoughtful opening to a headliner’s set. In the spirit of family and the tradition of Appalachian folk music from West Virginia to Tennessee, the stage PAISLEY, BRAD COUNTRY NATION WORLD TOUR WITH PARMALEE AND THE SWON BROTHERSset up was like what you’d find on a front porch in the mountains. As if family had just dropped in and started playing together, Brad’s band members assembled at the front of the stage with The Swon Brothers and Parmalee. With an improvised lyric, they sang an Appalachian standard, “Good Old Mountain Dew.” Towards the end of the song, Brad simply walked onto the stage from the right side and took his place amongst the other front porch players as casually as if he were no one in particular. They finished the song and went immediately into “The World” followed by “Camouflage.” This mini-set ended with the intro to “Moonshine In The Trunk,” which was the perfect way to come full circle with the theme of this opening. “Good Old Mountain Dew,” an ode to moonshine, was written in 1928 in ballad form about a man accused of making illegal alcohol during prohibition. The title track from Brad’s latest album is “Moonshine In The Trunk.” In the song, he describes a joy ride with a girl that feels like an illegal liquor run…..and this would be the feel of the rest of the evening.


     The band took their regular places on stage and the roar of that car engine launched us into full throttle “Moonshine In The Trunk.” It was the perfect kick start to what would be an incredible night of music and entertainment. Brad’s set included 27 songs, and he and his incredible band didn’t give an ounce less WVU COLISEUMthan their best to every one of them. The setting of the WVU Coliseum, on the campus of the state’s flagship university, was home field advantage for Brad and he played to it brilliantly. His banter with the crowd, knowledge of what riled them up, video footage of the campus, lyrical changes to suit the location, and love for his home state made for an A+ performance and a showcase of musical ability. His many years of success in the music business have taken him far outside his Southern Comfort Zone and the borders of his home state, but on this night, he was full of Mountaineer pride and it resonated through the strings of his many guitars.



     If Brad were to provide a syllabus for this master class in concert performance, it would be broken out into five key components – creating the music, use of video, audience interaction, staging, and set list. These essential elements aren’t something he puts together at the start of the tour season and sets to auto pilot at each show. He creates the framework and allows space Little+Jimmy+Dickens+Country+Comes+Home+Opry+96U-gIIrDKRlwithin that to tailor each show to its audience. His videos are highly imaginative and entertaining without detracting from the music. During his singing of “When I Get Where I’m Going,” there was a video tribute to his late friend, Little Jimmy Dickens. It was a very moving moment in the show, at the end of which, Brad tipped his hat towards the screen. During the song, “Crushin’ It,” the video included pictures of the WVU campus as well as live footage from WVU football games. His commentary during the song mentioned the school’s team getting no respect on ESPN and its being the number one party school in the world. Both of these facts were met with cheers from the audience.



     Creating moments with the audience is something Brad does naturally and his use of the stage often helps to encapsulate such moments. He invited a young couple to join him on stage for his singing of “Then.” A few of his band members joined him at the front of the stage, creating an opening within their circle for the couple to dance in. If you’ve seen a Brad Paisley concert before, you know where this is going…..guy drops to one knee, asks girl to marry him, she says yes, and they finish the dance. Magic moment, courtesy of Brad Paisley. His awareness of his surroundings, and in this case, knowledge of his audience, helps to create unique moments in the show where he can ad lib between songs or within the song and entertain in the moment. When fans attend a concert, it’s nice to leave knowing that you had an experience no one else will. This is what a live performance is all about.



     At the heart of every concert experience is the music, and no one understands that better than Brad Paisley. His dedication to excellence in music drives his performance at each show and gives the fans an opportunity to see organic live music as it happens. Brad doesn’t just play through the music, he breathes life PAISLEY, BRAD WV GUITARinto it through his exceptional guitar playing and the talented musicians he shares the stage with. Unlike many of today’s live acts, Brad and his band do not use pre-recorded tracks. Everything you hear is being played live in the moment. Brad is a rare exception to the norm in that he uses his tour band to play on his records. They’ve been together for 15 years and that longevity contributes to the quality of their live shows. Watch their interaction during a song and you will see the individual contributions create the whole. The six gifted musicians who share the stage with Brad are Gary Hooker (guitar), Kendal Marcy (keys), Kenny Lewis (bass), Randle Currie (steel guitar), Justin Williamson (fiddle), and Ben Sesar (drums). Throughout the show, each one of them may get a chance to spotlight their ability in a particular song. How that plays out depends on the set list.



     Brad Paisley has an extensive music catalog to draw from and the set list for this show was a greatest hits manifesto. Out of this extensive 27 song playlist, only two of the songs were covers, John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher.” The other 25 songs were an ebb and flow of fun songs with a sprinkling of his tender ballads. “Southern Comfort Zone” and “Waitin’ On a Woman” used the video backdrop to support the stories. “I’m Still a Guy” was a hit with the men in the audience and we were invited to disregard the current cold season in favor of warmer temps with “Beat This Summer.” “Mud On The Tires” showcased the dynamic fiddle playing of Justin Williamson and we got to ad lib a famous TV line WILLIAMSON, JUSTIN BRAD PAISLEY FIDDLE PLAYERin “American Saturday Night” – LIVE from Morgantown, it’s Saturday night!! “I’m Gonna Miss Her” and “She’s Everything” were back to back examples of the diversity in Brad’s songwriting, humorous and heartfelt. Four songs off the new album were part of this set with “River Bank” anchoring the end of regulation time and “Perfect Storm” leading off the encore. Just weeks ago, “Perfect Storm” became Brad’s 23rd number one hit and the performance of this song was worthy of the accomplishment. With the help of the video showing stormy seas and the sound of thunder and lightning crashing, the song erupts from the stage. Hearing this on the radio or on an ipod is like trying to contain the ocean with a few sandbags. The power of the song was made for an arena setting where the video can provide that imax feel and the band can demonstrate its full bodied potential behind the intense playing of Brad on guitar. This was truly an encore moment.



     The evening ended just as this set began, with an ode to “Alcohol” and both of the opening acts back on stage for the singing of it. Brad’s live bobble head counterpart makes an appearance here to serve the troublesome beverage to those on stage. The playing of this encourages a sing-along and sends everyone home in a celebratory mood. Brad’s extended guitar play at the end of the song put an exclamation point on an outstanding night of live music. Brad’s home town of Glen Dale, West Virginia is just 85 miles from Morgantown. Since moving away to Nashville, he’s played some of the most prestigious venues in the world and traveled in style on the superhighways music has led him to. Yet it’s these simple country roads in West Virginia that supported his journey and welcome him back home on occasions like this. I’m not originally from West Virginia, but I’ve lived here for the past 12 years. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is a special song to the people of this state and I’ve heard it many times since moving here. Watching Brad sing this in Morgantown, surrounded by family, friends, and fans from his home state, was as moving a moment as you’ll find on a concert stage. The power of music, as grand as it can be, can often be felt most deeply in the simplest of arrangements. A simple lesson from a master class in musical performance by West Virginia‘s own, Brad Paisley. I think all in attendance would agree that on this night BP, you nailed it, as they say!


From WAY North of Nashville….in West Virginia…..Bev Miskus

The drum solo at the end of this is performed by Ben Sesar!


Download Moonshine In The Trunk through iTunes: HERE

Visit Brad Paisley’s website: https://www.bradpaisley.com/home

Download Feels Like Carolina through iTunes: HERE

Visit Parmalee’s website: http://parmalee.com/

Download The Swon Brothers through iTunes: HERE

Visit The Swon Brothers’ website: http://www.swonbrothers.com/

©2015Bev Miskus


TOA screenshot


     We’ve come a long way since the days of groupies and mail order fan clubs. Today there are any number of ways to connect with your favorite music artists through social media, fan clubs that offer exclusive merchandise, opportunities, and events for members only, and mega fan events like CMA Fest. Social media was by far the biggest game changer in the way artists are able to connect with their fans. The list of possibilites that are internet driven seems to increase every year. It’s easy to “follow,” “unfollow,” “like,” unlike,” “tweet,” “retweet,” “favorite,” etc, but what does that really mean? If someone has 5 million “followers” on twitter, does that mean there are 5 million people around the world who “follow” their every tweet and spend their days devoting time and money to this demi-god? Let’s hope not! I’ve spent some quality time on twitter (I swear that’s possible!) this past year and twitter behavior patterns are interesting to say the least. You can tell a lot more than you might think about someone based on their twitter personality, or lack thereof. You can also tell a lot about what type of fan someone is based on the various fan sites that exist, both virtually and in real life.

     Country music has a reputation for attracting a loyal fan base. Country lyrics are all about connecting with their audience. They make people feel something they can relate to, otherwise it’s just performance art. Subsequently, when you feel connected to someone, you tend to care about that person or group and you become invested in their well being. How invested is where fan groups come into play. Every artist who reaches a certain level has a fan club they operate. You join via their online website, pay the member fee if there is one, and gain access to all the perks and benefits they offer. All this exclusivity is generally not free, so potential fan club members have to decide if what they get is worth what they’ll be paying. In addition, if you’re looking for free fandom opportunities, there are now Facebook sites as well as twitter accounts run by, well, we don’t know who they’re run by. In my researching fan sites for the big names in country music, it looks like the foreclosure market hit Facebook and Twitter as well. There are numerous abandoned fan sites on both those social media entities that look bleaker than the estimated longevity of Kim and Kanye’s marriage. Concerts long forgotten, contests long over, pictures nobody recognizes anymore, litter these sites like relics. It seems our ever decreasing attention spans affect our fan behavior. Fan today, “unfollow” tomorrow. If someone better comes along or our favorite falls from grace, the concert tshirt becomes a rag and we move on.

     Whether it’s Facebook or Twitter, there are usually competing sites looking for fan followings. On Facebook, it’s easier to determine who’s running the site and what their motivation is. Sometimes one Facebook page will be the clear fan favorite and wins out over all the others. On Twitter, it gets interesting. I noticed over time that certain fan groups “favorite” and “retweet” frequently and interact through postings on a regular basis. When I decided to launch this summer Battle of the Bands contest, I thought it would be great to get the fan groups involved. I started messaging some of the fan groups I thought were most active to see if they would be willing to talk to me about what they do and how they got started. Again, I found that many of the sites had been abandoned, their last activity being years ago. Some of the ones who were active, did not respond to my request. The bigger the name, the less likely to find an active large fan group on twitter. Lots of pledging their eternal love accounts and marriage proposals, but very little real fan following without illicit intentions. As the stars got a little less bright, I found two gems.


     Parmalee Famalee is a fan group supporting the band Parmalee, and when I say “supporting,” I mean intent on taking them to new heights. When you commit yourself as a fan group to someone who isn’t yet a household name, the tasks you take on are very different than they would be if you were a fan of Justin Timberlake. Parmalee released their debut album, Feels Like Carolina, last December. Are they a new band? Hardly! The four guys who make up Parmalee have been together since 2001. In today’s music world, getting a career off the ground takes more than a village. Sometimes it takes moving mountains, and that’s where Parmalee Famalee comes in. Parmalee’s record label is Stoney Creek Records. As a record label, they have certain responsibilities in releasing and promoting the album. Does someone from the record label call or tweet radio stations on a daily basis and request Parmalee songs? I doubt it. But their Famalee does!

me and parmalee

(The founder of the Parmalee Famalee, Shari, with Josh, Matt, Barry, and Scott.)

     When I requested an interview with whoever was behind the Parmalee Famalee’s twitter account, I had no idea I would find Shari. The guys from Parmalee are from North Carolina. Shari lives in LA. Not exactly neighbors. Her first exposure to Parmalee’s music was hearing their debut single, “Musta Had a Good Time,” on the radio in 2011. She had this to say about that experience: “The song was so tight – fun and catchy, but with a great lead vocal and first class musicianship.” *(Please see the note at the bottom of this article about Parmalee’s producers, New Voice Entertainment.) She was so impressed by the talent they had and how polished they sounded as a group, that she contacted their record label to ask if Parmalee had any support, like a  fan club. They didn’t, so Shari became the first member of the Parmalee Famalee! Her first live Parmalee show didn’t happen until 2012. At the Buck Owens Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, CA, Shari finally got to see Parmalee in concert and meet the guys she’d committed her support to. When I spoke to her, it was evident from the beginning of our conversation that her investment in Parmalee was not a selfish one. She talked about the guys in the band and their families and all the people who have supported them along the way. The conversation kept going back to the talent Parmalee has and a strict focus on promoting the group coast to coast. I learned very quickly by talking to her that she is organized and fierce in her determination to see Parmalee succeed beyond their wildest expectations!


(This song is climbing the charts thanks to the Parmalee Famalee’s efforts!)

     There’s a lot of trial and error involved when you set about creating a fan following and Shari’s efforts have evolved over the past couple of years. Parmalee Famalee has a Facebook presence that operates as a closed group. The reason for this is to attract only those fans who are committed to the same goals as the other Famalee members. Currently, the group is made up of actual family members of the guys and those who’ve been adopted by the Famalee! They decided to call themselves Famalee because that is exactly how they work together, minus the awkward holiday get togethers! On their Facebook page is everything you can do to help promote the band plus shared experiences and events involving the guys. The group on Facebook is 1,444 members strong, and I do mean STRONG! If you’d like to join the group on Facebook, simply send them a request to join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/parmaleefamalee/. In addition to their Facebook presence, they have a twitter account at https://twitter.com/ParmaleeFamalee. “Follow” them and you’ll receive updates about the band and reminders of how you can help promote them. Shari has put together a media base list that is enviable to say the least! She has collected resource outlets through which to shop Parmalee’s music nationwide. If Shari were in charge of ground troops, the world would be a peaceful place! If you’d like to see her amazing handiwork, check out the Parmalee Famalee blog site she’s created. This is a Parmalee information vault, complete with everything you could possibly need to call yourself a superfan of the group. For a lesson in fan blogging, or to support Parmalee, take a look: http://parmaleefamalee.blogspot.com/p/links.html.

     When I first had the idea for creating a summer-long contest involving the bands on the road, it came out of a feature article I’d done on Derek Williams, guitarist for Jake Owen, and Rich Redmond, drummer for Jason Aldean. Once voting was set up, I noticed that The Owen Army was responding to this effort consistently and enthusiastically. Their twitter account, @TheOwenArmy, was appearing frequently in my “favorite” and “retweet” notifications. Thinking about this article, I decided to ask the owner of the account for an interview. Meeting, albeit by phone and lots of DMs, co-founder of @TheOwenArmy and theowenarmy.com, Jaime Loomis, was like getting a present you never expected. For Jake Owen, his army is truly the gift that keeps giving!

2014-05-24 14.05.36

(Founders of The Owen Army, Jessi McCorkel and Jaime Loomis.)

     Jake Owen is originally from Vero Beach, FL. Jaime Loomis lives in Connecticut. The other co-founder of The Owen Army is Jessi McCorkel who lives near Knoxville, TN. The two Jake enthusiasts met online through Jake’s fan club site. When they discovered their similar passion for promoting all things Jake, The Owen Army was established in 2011. Again, this is not a selfish effort. The mission of The Owen Army is this:

TOA postcard _2

You’ll notice the words “dedicated to country artist, Jake Owen” in there. Those words completely describe their amazing efforts on his behalf. Notice the respect for Jake that comes through in that phrase. Many fan groups say they’re “dedicated” to certain things, the object of that dedication often being questionable. Not here. What drives these two women and the members of The Owen Army is their determination to support an artist who they believe in as a music professional and, perhaps more importantly, as a man. They describe Jake as being constantly appreciative of his fans and their efforts to lift up his career aspirations. He engages with his army members regularly and treats them with the same respect they show him. I was told that the man you see on stage and in live appearances elsewhere, is the man you’ll meet on the street in Nashville. In other words, someone you’d want to work tirelessly for.

twitter wallpaper

(The official Owen Army postcard!)

     I was blown away by what The Owen Army does as described to me by Jaime. This is NOT a casual effort! Take a look at their website and you’ll see what I mean: http://www.theowenarmy.com/. On it are links to all things Jake, links to radio stations where you can request Jake’s songs, an Army store with current items available for purchase, and all the news and information about Jake Owen you need to make you a true recruit! This is definitely a labor of love. Jaime and Jessi take care of their army members as well as they support Jake. They have worked with Jake’s management team to secure merchandise that is given away to members who donate to Jake’s charity during their monthly fundraising events. The biggest give-aways happen annually in August, Jake’s birthday month, and in November as an end-of-year, pre-Christmas thank you to the army! Just this past November they were able to give away a signed Jake Owen guitar! How cool is that?! Along with their donors, Jaime and Jessi’s efforts involve raising money for The Jake Owen Foundation. This is Jake’s official charity and includes St. Jude’s, Autism Speaks, and Indian River County. The Owen Army hosts events and activities that augment Jake’s personal efforts to raise funds for these worthwhile causes. You can also donate through http://www.gofundme.com/theowenarmy. You may purchase items through The Owen Army, the profits from which are donated to the foundation. Their efforts thus far have raised $15,000 for The Jake Owen Foundation! These women are a force of nature! Each year, at Jake’s end-of-year charity benefit in Vero Beach, Jaime and Jessi get to present the check to him personally! Not a bad meet and greet! You’d be hard pressed to find an army more motivated, organized, and enthusiastic than this one. If being in the music industry these days is like going into battle, Jake is in good hands! If you’re a Jake Owen fan, this is your tribe!! Join The Owen Army online at  http://www.theowenarmy.com/Contact_Us.html, connect with them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheOwenArmy, and follow them on twitter at https://twitter.com/TheOwenArmy.

     We throw the the word “super” around a lot these days. It indicates, by definition, something larger than the norm. The term “superfan” is defined as “a person who shows a great deal of enthusiasm for something or someone.” Does the myriad of opportunities we now have to “follow” our favorite stars on social media, attend their concerts weekly if we so choose, and buy an endless supply of their merchandise make us all superfans? Sounds more like super consumerism and super stalking. Mostly, we’re fickle fans. We dole out our favoritism based on what we receive in return. A perceived “relationship” with our favorite star can quickly come apart like the petals of a daisy – he follows me, he unfollows me; he likes me, he unlikes me. Being a fan doesn’t mean what it once did. If you were a Zeppelin fan or a Stones fan, you’ll go to your grave in that old concert tshirt with a vinyl album clutched to your chest and walk right up that “Stairway To Heaven,” hoping that heaven means a Zeppelin reunion. (ask Jake, he knows! #1972)

     This is why the Parmalee Famalee and The Owen Army are such finds. That kind of long term, committed dedication, without expecting a big payout in return, is indeed rare. These true superfans don’t get paid for what they do. They selflessly invest their time and money in supporting and helping to build the career milestones they hope their favorite artists will have. Their satisfaction is in their beneficiaries success. Why do they do it? As I talked to both Jaime and Shari, the words that kept coming up were character and appreciation. It was gratifying to them to be doing something positive for someone they felt was deserving of their dedication. That’s also rare. When budding careers are in their infancy, potential stars are overly appreciative of every helping hand they can find. They reach a stronger foothold and the appreciation comes out a little less often. They reach a pinnacle and, at best, it becomes a patronizing “thx” in a tweet, most likely because their management team reminded them to. Starting a fan club, “famalee,” or an army from the grassroots level, is a daunting task. Record labels don’t pay for this support and rarely reward their success, no matter how deep their pockets become as a result of that charity. Keith Urban rewarded his superfans with an all expense paid trip, exclusive gifts, and probably what meant more to them than anything else, quality time with him. THAT’S impressive! That is character and class personified. I can see Jake Owen doing the same thing someday. If you’ve seen Jake amongst his fans, he glows with appreciation. Watch Parmalee with theirs, same thing. Their fan groups won’t splinter because they’re too deeply rooted in the cause. What unites true superfans with superstars is the perceived commitment they make to each other. It’s easy to find VIP who want to rub elbows with you once you’ve made it to the top. But it’s the people who took up your cause when no one knew your name that will ultimately stand by you, come what may. Congratulations Parmalee and Jake Owen! You both have superfans! And I know the superfans of Keith Urban will agree with me when I say, KU…you ROCK!


(Keith Urban and his elite group of superfans!!)

From WAY North of NashvilleBev Miskus

Call it a Parmalee Famalee reunion! These pics came from some proud relatives!

2014-05-24 14.02.21

(Jaime Loomis & Jessi McCorkel at the Riverside Cafe in Vero Beach.)



(Where it all started for Jake Owen! There’s no place like home!!)

Tully Kennedy, Kurt Allison, David Fanning, and Rich Redmond

 (Tully Kennedy, Kurt Allison, David Fanning, and Rich Redmond, Nashville, TN)

*Parmalee’s debut album, Feels Like Carolina, was produced by New Voice Entertainment. NV3[1]The four production phenoms that make up that group are Kurt Allison, David Fanning, Tully Kennedy, and Rich Redmond. The combination of Parmalee’s talent and the expertise of these producers made Feels Like Carolina the exceptional debut album it is. For something to sound so good on the radio that someone like Shari would commit herself to the success of a group, entirely based on that one song, speaks volumes about the mastery of that production. If you’re looking for top-notch producers, look no further. You can find contact information for them here: http://newvoiceentertainment.com/index.php or here: http://richredmond.com/. The Wizard of Oz had the Emerald City. The Wizards of Nashville perform their magic in Music City. You can follow the yellow brick road or follow The Highway to hear their creations. That’s Sirius XM on your radio or Hwys. 65, 40, or 24 in your car!

©2014Bev Miskus



     Spring has officially arrived WAY North of Nashville, according to the calendar. No more weather delays! Or so we thought…..A Sunday afternoon concert in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania turned out to be a challenge for the artists scheduled to play, the organizers of this event, and the venue. This Spring day brought heavy rain, sleet, and snow to the area and left Chuck Wicks, the scheduled opening act, grounded in Kansas City. The local country radio station, Great Country WGTY 107.7, sprang into action in the wee hours of Sunday morning to arrange two new opening acts for Parmalee, the scheduled headliner. Fans don’t often get to see what goes on behind the scenes of events like this so it was a rare treat to hear about the mechanics that went into this one. The amazing people at WGTY were nothing short of heroic in bringing local talent, Kayla Kroh, and rising Nashville star, Canaan Smith to the stage, while also securing Chuck Wicks for a future date to appease disappointed fans. Congress could learn a lot from watching these guys work!!

     Kayla Kroh is a 16 year old singer/songwriter from York, Pennsylvania. Commit that name to memory because this bright star is just beginning to shine. She’s got a voice filled with experience and control far beyond her years. Kayla took on some big names in the covers she performed and owned every one of them. Jennifer Nettles herself would have been blown away by Kayla’s delivery on “That Girl.” Breathtaking! “Blame Train” is an original song off Kayla’s EP, On Your Own, and one that put the spotlight on her many talents. Kayla drew me in from the moment she took the stage (and with only a few hours notice!) with her engaging personality, acoustic tenacity, and her ability to captivate an audience simply with the strength and maturity of her voice. This young lady is going to make a splash in Nashville! Kayla’s EP is available through iTunes: ON YOUR OWN


     Not everyone would answer their phone at 5am on a Sunday morning, especially after they’d played a show the night before, but apparently Canaan Smith does! He was literally called upon to fill in for Chuck Wicks, like get up, get dressed, get to the airport NOW! WGTY swept him up like a tornado and dropped him onto the runway in Baltimore so he could follow the sleet covered road to Gettysburg. Welcome to the wicked winter of the Northeast Canaan! I imagine it’s kind of intimidating to be a last minute substitution at a venue in a small town where the vast majority of the audience probably has no idea who you are. Google’s most popular query on Sunday afternoon at the Majestic Theater? Who is Canaan Smith? I was one of the few who did know who he was and I was thrilled to get the chance to see him perform. If there is such a thing as a quadruple threat, he’s it. His vocal ability is on an even par with some of the best male vocalists in country music. On guitar he plays with enough fervor that you forget he’s not backed by a full band. His songwriting is thoughtful and relatable and his charismatic stage presence is irresistable. The songs in his set were a great mix of country rock, ballad, and make you wanna dance tunes that the audience responded well to. His passionate rendition of “Black Tears,” which he co-wrote, was a highlight in his set for me along with his single, “We Got Us.” Canaan Smith has talent and potential in spades and if the songs in his set are any indication, he has plenty of great material for a debut album. Don’t keep us waiting Nashville!! A HUGE thank you to Canaan for making the unscheduled trek to Gettysburg on a less than ideal day and for sharing your music with us. You were great! Canaan’s single is available through iTunes: WE GOT US


     And finally….PARMALEE!!! I had written previously about their powerful debut album, Feels Like Carolina, and my personal belief that their sound was too big to be confined by small venues. This event was a test of that theory and my first opportunity to see them LIVE. It won’t be the last! Apparently Parmalee CAN rock a small venue and they don’t even have to stand up to do it. Their largely acoustic setup perfectly suited the theater and the volume was just right. The set list was incredibly inclusive as they played every song on their album except the one I blew my speakers on, “Move,” and they added three others. If you weren’t familiar with their album, their performance would impress you. For those of us who knew every song, it was even more impressive. The overall feel of the show was like being at a jam session where you got to watch the band just go where the music led. The order of the set was fresh and innovative and the live arrangements were magnetic. Especially so was their live version of “My Montgomery.” This is one of the most unique songs on the album and the studio cut is a masterpiece, something you don’t normally tinker with. The live acoustic version was as intriguing as the original. They captured the essence of the song and somehow channeled the studio production in the delivery. Amazing! If a live performance alone could propel a single to the top of the charts, “Close Your Eyes” would already be there. The song, written by Adam Craig, Trent Tomlinson, and Shane Minor, is Parmalee’s latest single off the album. Matt rocked the delivery on this song and the band’s arrangement was pure gold. Loved it! Their Fireball-inspired rewrite of the Miley Cyrus hit “Wrecking Ball” was a definite crowd pleaser. Call it the country version. I had already suspected that there was a range in Matt’s vocal abilities that we hadn’t gotten to see yet and his cover of Bob Seeger’s “Night Moves” proved that. A definite show stopper!

     There is no one in country music today doing what Parmalee does. They have a versatility that is unmatched. Their live performance punctuates how strong they are as a band and how explosive they can be both vocally and musically. Their tight delivery on every song they do makes you see them as one, and that level of synchronicity is a testament to their years of playing together. I still think that Parmalee’s rock side invites a big stage and really big speakers, but they surprised me with their ability to adapt that big sound to a smaller venue and let the music just fill the room. An outstanding live performance!!

For tour information, visit their website: http://parmalee.com/tour/

                            From WAY North of Nashville…..Bev Miskus

Parmalee’s album is available through iTunes: FEELS LIKE CAROLINA

©2014Bev Miskus



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From WAYNorthofNashvilleBev Miskus

Bringing the stories of country music to life!






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


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

©2014Bev Miskus