The music industry is full of stats. Oftentimes artistry can become overshadowed by the sordid topic of numbers and sales. But hey, business is business, and album sales keep the machine greased up and able to crank out more "art". Sometimes the specifics of who sold how many can become mundane and tedious, albeit necessary. But other times, those numbers deserve to be celebrated and revered, especially when they catapult an artist into a stratospheric level...where he hovers...solo.Read More
Filtering by Tag: country music
First off, I want to start by saying how appreciative I am of all the support I've received from all my friends, family, and "supporters" since Chantel (my manager/producer) and I began this crazy project. No one even knew what the hell Eat Travel Rock TV was, yet you all were on board. Well now it's here and it's LIVE on my site... Just click HERE for all the available episodes... yet you still may not know what the hell it is.
Eat Travel Rock TV came about from the frustration I had while working on other TV projects, coupled with my desire to put my specific brand on camera. I've had a vision of a show that fully integrates food, music, and travel in a unique and unexpected way. There is nothing like it on television, nor the internet (as far as I've seen... those interwebs are a mighty huge place). Plus I get to be ME! There are no network constrictions, nor producers/directors who don't share my vision and let me do what I want to do and act how I want to act.
Here are some examples of who you will meet along this journey: I interviewed Chase Rice at the Windy City Smokeout (music and food, baby!) I interviewed Love and Theft in Key West, FL (music and travel!) I had Ryan Chiaverini give me a guitar lesson in his home (unexpected music!) and I brought Down With Webster to Fulton Market Kitchen. We have launched 5 episodes today, and we will be releasing 1 episode each Wednesday.
No two episodes are alike, and I have MANY ideas for the future. Stay tuned for many bands, musicians, famous chefs, innovative restauranteurs, Chicago athletes, notable personalities etc. I plan to Eat a ton, Travel a bunch, and constantly rock out... so please join me on this journey. I truly hope you enjoy this labor of love and I welcome your thoughts, feedback, and requests. Thank you!!
Ok everyone. Time for MY picks of the shows I am most excited about over the next couple months. They are ALL over the place. So listen up!
Phish- (July 18-20) Calm down everyone. I know, I know. I have avoided this mega tour since 1995. And today, it's finally happening. I have always enjoyed Phish's studio albums, especially in high school and college. I have been super anti-jam band basically because I lack patience and don't wanna hear a 18 min song. But I have relented, and thanks to a free ticket, I WILL be attending a show this weekend at Northerly Island. It's all happening folks...
Down With Webster- (July 24th) Subterranean in Wicker Park. My favorite Canadian band (and also besties) are back in town. I am SO excited for this venue, mainly because it won't let in their usual under 21 screaming girl fans. These 6 guys are so talented and their style covers hip-hop to rock to pop. They are awesome to listen to and not bad to look at. They give Avril Lavigne and Justin Bieber a run for their money at all the Canadian music award shows, and sell out shows to thousands of screaming fans in the Great White North...Yet are still under the radar in the US. So get in while you can and see them up close and personal... because they are going to be HUGE here soon. Mark my words.
Panic! At The Disco- (July 25th) Northerly Island- If you're unfamiliar with Brendon Urie (lead singer) and how hilarious this man is, you're missing out. Check out his Vine videos. But more importantly, the band rocks. Their newest album (Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die) is a hit, especially with tracks like Miss Jackson and Vegas Lights, and Far Too Young to Die. It's more electro-pop than their past albums, and if you like Fall out Boy you'll love Panic! as they're the cooler, sexier, bad-boy LA version of the Chicago band.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (Aug 23rd) United Center- Honestly, I can't... Can't being to explain how FUCKING PUMPED I AM FOR THIS!!!! Out of the hundreds of shows I've been to in my life... Tom Petty may be number ONE. Dead serious, can't top it. I've never heard such badass guitar riffs and instruments fill an arena more than when I've been at a Tom Petty concert. He's a legend... so is his guitarist Mike Campbell. Case closed.
Zac Brown Band (Sept. 13th) Wrigley Field- I know, y'all were wondering where the country music was on my list. Fear not. ZBB is my favorite modern day country artist. Part Southern Rock, part jam band, part bluegrass, ALL hardcore talent. Zac has some of the strongest vocals in the biz and he can shred the shit out of an acoustic geetar. Whether you're a "country" fan or not, you will not be disappointed seeing this Georgia crew tear up the Friendly Confines.
There is no better opportunity for me to write a blog than when I'm able to combine all of my favorite things into one event. Turns out, 2 weeks ago was the epitome of eating, traveling, and rocking out... all rolled into one incredible 4 day trip. Actually, the traveling began when my best Nashvillian friend, Nanci, asked me to drive with her from Music City USA to Los Angeles.... of course, the spontaneous lunatic in me said..."Hell Yes!" We made our way from Nashville, through Memphis where we got to eat some of their famous BBQ and pay an obligatory visit to Graceland. Stayin in Dallas and Fort Worth Texas was probably some of the most fun I've had in years. Witnessing real life cowboy honky-tonks and learning to two-step were experiences I'll take with me to the end of my days. Yet the craziness began while we're driving through New Mexico and I get a phone call from the manager of Florida Georgia Line, "Hey Kelly... ummm can you be in Cancun the day after tomorrow? We really need you for the lead in our new music video- BK said to call you asap." So I hauled ass to Phoenix so I could hop a plane home to Chicago, so I could fly down to Cancun. It was a whirlwind but was the best hasty decision I've ever made. Turns out my good friends, Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley (BK) of the smash hit Country Music duo Florida Georgia Line were filming the video for their big new single, "Get Your Shine On". I was beyond flattered they wanted me to be BK's "video girlfriend" and one hell of a trip ensued. I arrived on Monday at the Hard Rock Hotel in Cancun to find the entire hotel flooded with pictures and posters of FGL and their upcoming mega-concert on the beach. Turns out, the band and over 50 person crew from all over the US and Mexico dominated the entire hotel that week.
Video shoot Days 1 & 2: These were no ordinary days in paradise. Usually waking up at 5:00 is pretty much the worst thing that can happen to me... yet when it's accompanied by a beautiful sunrise, breakfast chilaquiles, and country music blasting at the pool....it wasn't so bad ;). My fellow video chick, Estephania (Tyler's " video girlfriend"), and I got to watch the boys finish their first shoot... where their whole band was actually performing IN the Hard Rock pool. It was surreal to actually watch the making of a huge production music video... let alone being a part of it. The scenes over the next couple days included... The 4 of us playing pool, flying across the ocean on waverunners, partying at a swim-up bar, frolicking on the beach with Mexican wrestling midgets (yes, I'm serious), cruising through the jungle and through town in an old army Jeep, and diving into clear pools and caves in the Cenotes. One of my favorites was BK chasing me on the beach in Tulum and trying to take pics of me with an old fashioned camera. There may or may not have been an on-camera smooch as well. Let's just say trying to act "romantic" with a crew of 40 people watching you is much more glamorous than it sounds! The down side of all of the was that craft services was the most delicious authentic buffet of regional Mexican specialties...yet whenever I was about to load up my plate I got some interesting "looks" from my stylists and the directors as my wardrobe consisted of nothing more than a bikini, and that I should probably be indulging in the veggie platter instead. Nevertheless... I would sneak some Empanadas con jamon y queso... and proceed to "suck it in" for the rest of the shoot.
The wrap party was bitter-sweet as we knew our time in Cancun was winding down. Yet we still had some party left in us. The entire crew and band bid adieu to the Hard Rock by consuming massive amounts of Tequila while head-banging to a Mexican hard rock cover band. It was a blast and probably one of the best nights I can (somewhat) remember. The video will be released within the next week and I CANNOT WAIT for everyone to see it! It will truly be an epic music video and will go down in my history books as one of my coolest life experiences and the time I got to Eat, Travel, and Rock Out Mexican/Country style!
This last weekend at Joe's Bar was like this year's second Lollapalooza. It was an over-the-top smorgasbord of interwoven and overlapping acts and concerts. Let's just say I am STILL worn out! The most wonderful aspect was that even though not every show was AT Joe's Bar...Joe's was still a huge part of everything that was going on.
Here's how the craziness began: November 29th witnessed a mass immigration of country artists to our fair city of Chicago. They were scattered everywhere... from State Street to Weed Street. My first stop along this musical journey was the House of Blues for The Florida Georgia Line, Love and Theft, and Jake Owen concerts. Love and Theft's Eric and Stephen are good friends, along with Eric's beautiful wife, Emily, so we watched the rapid fire shows from the artist's balcony. Unfortunately, I had missed Florida Georgia Line's energetic performance at Joe's in September, so it was amazing to finally see them live. It's incredible to see the reaction the crowd has every time "Cruise" is performed. I had to sneak out of this show early as I needed to rush over to Joe's to interview Jerrod Niemann as well as host the live streaming of his concert. This was so cool, as this type of broadcast, using Laplive.TV, hadn't been done before at Joe's and it was a monstrous production. Over 3,000 fans around the country got to watch the show live at Joe's thanks to the live streaming. Jerrod was thrilled to be able to "bring Joe's TO all of his fans." You can catch the rest of our discussion/interview here. Jerrod's show was non-stop action with an entire horns section and back to back crowd pleasing hits. He has such a wonderful demeanor and stage presence, he makes every audience member feel like a family member and an integral part of the show. The highlight for me was his beautiful ballad, What Do You Want, which was also co-written by a dear friend, Rachel Bradshaw. Jerrod's deep and powerful voice had the audience captivated for the duration of the show but that song was on a whole different level.
The next day, Friday, was truly epic. If you were at Joe's, you witnessed the intensity first hand. Once again, I ventured to House of Blues for the 2nd performance of Florida Georgia Line, Love and Theft, and Jake Owen. After the show I had to round up the troops and help get all the boys over to Joe's so they could support their friend, Chase Rice, who was performing his first sold out show. Chase is an interesting guy. On the outside, he seems to be a tall, handsome, ummm jock? But he's got so much more going on than that. This guy has done it all, and all by the young age of 27. We had a really fun interview... you can watch it here. When Chase took the stage, he really rocked it... of course, the ladies were ecstatic, but he really was pulling the guys in too... as they could all relate to his "fun time" music. Chase called up buddy Stephen Barker Liles (Love and Theft) to jam with him for one song, yet the "piece de resistance" was during the encore performance. Chase sneaked off stage and was scrambling upstairs to gather all his fellow songwriters and performers for one last colossal track. He grabbed Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line, and Jesse Rice (co-writer). They are the conglomeration responsible for the current number one song in country, Cruise. No one at Joe's had ever seen a crowd go so crazy before... especially during the last chorus of "In this brand new Chevy with a lift kit... would look a HELL OF A LOT BETTER WITH YOU UP IN IT!"
Fortunately, for those of you who missed any of these shows, you can be confident all of the artists will be back in 2013. There's already an incredible line up that's in place for January and February. Check it out here and hope to see y'all soon at a show soon!! Stay tuned... I'm going to tell you about my last crazy trip to Nashville and review Florida Georgia Line's new chart topping album, Here's to the Good Times.
Sometimes I feel as if song lyrics are grossly underrated. It boggles my mind how few people pay attention to lyrics. They’ll never know any words to any song…even the world’s most famous and recognizable songs… like Happy Birthday???? Now, I’m not one for poetry…hate it as a matter of fact… but when those words are set to music, it takes on a whole new life. It’s incredible how you can have a page full of words and it would be next to impossible for a human to memorize them… but introduce a beat and a melody, and you can memorize those words almost immediately.
Song lyrics have been incredibly important to me, I feel like my life story can be told through songs I deem as my favorites. I also tend to gravitate to certain songs and lyrics depending on which mood I’m in, or to illustrate something that is occurring in my life. I almost pity people who don’t have this relationship with song lyrics because you’re missing an outlet… a friend you can go to no matter what trials and tribulations you may be encountering. Not to mention, you are missing one of the biggest points the artist is trying to make with their music.
Here are some examples from my extensive love affair with music:
Pearl Jam- Black– “All the love gone bad turned my world to black…Tattooed all I see, all that I am, all I'll be…. “ Even though I never really had any “love gone bad” while I was in high school, this song and its lyrics made a profound impact on me. It even inspired my (gulp) Pearl Jam stick figure tattoo I got when I was 16. It really came full circle when, in May, Eddie Vedder asked me curiously, why did I get my tattoo. All I said was “Black” and he knew exactly what I was talking about… he then smiled proudly and gave me a huge hug. Quite the moment.
Alanis Morissette- Head Over Feet- “You’ve already won me over in spite of me, don’t be alarmed if I fall Head Over Feet…” This was a big song for my friends and me. It works perfectly for any situation where you fall for a guy you were resistant to… whether because they were the “bad boy” or too much of a “nice guy” (never happens). This song helped justify “giving in.” Haha.
Elton John- I Want Love- I’ve always loved this slightly more obscure newer tune…and not just because Robert Downey Jr. was in the video. But after a breakup and you’re feeling really shitty, these lyrics make you feel tough and hopeful. “So bring it on, I’ve been bruised. Don’t give me love, that’s clean and smooth. I’m ready for the roughest stuff. No sweet romance… I’ve had enough.”
Fiona Apple- Criminal- “I’ve been a bad bad girl…I’ve been careless with a delicate man…” Ladies, need I say more?
Laura Pausini- Come Se Non Fosse Stato Mai Amore- For some reason Italian pop music can make me happy no matter what mood I’m in… strange I know. She’s my favorite Italian artist and her lyrics are intense. – Here are some helpful words… “E cancellare... tutte le pagine con la tua imagine, E vivere... COME SE NON FOSSE STATO MAI AMORE” You can’t expect me to translate too, can you??
Martina McBride- Wrong Baby Wrong- We all know country music is known for it’s descriptive and true to life stories. This song is no exception and is a go-to I play for girlfriends who just went through a break-up…ahh such a good friend ;) “Wrong baby wrong baby wrong, it ain’t the end of the world, don’t you worry pretty girl…Now that he’s gone baby gone baby gone, you got nothing to lose…count the minutes if you want to, it won’t be long baby long baby long till you find somebody new.”
Zac Brown Band- Jolene- Even though this was written by Ray LaMontagne, Zac brings a spine chilling pain to the song. The song actually hurts when you listen to it, yet it’s absolutely beautiful “I found myself face down in the ditch, booze in my hair, blood on my lips…A picture of you holdin’ a picture of me, in the pocket of my blue jeans.”
Avril Lavigne- Hot- People may think Avril is a manufactured teeny bopper… untrue. I have followed her career from the beginning, and before Taylor Swift and the likes, Avril was the artist girls listened to to hear their own lives put to music. She’s an incredibly talented musician and writes all her own lyrics. I picked “Hot” because even though I love her darker notes and tones the most, this is a feel good song and usually what I put on when I’m getting ready to go out at night…basically when I wanna feel like a sexy bitch… “You make me so hot, make me wanna drop, you’re so ridiculous, I can barely stop…” Pretty profound, eh?
I can clearly go on and on forever (clearly)…but my point is; if you are a person who has never really made song lyrics a big part of your life… I emplore you to open your heart and ears, have a bit of patience, and try to hear what the artist is trying to convey. It’s a shame to miss out on this dynamic and pure relationship with music. What are some of YOUR favorite lyrics???
When you think of Oysters, do you also think of Country Music? No? Well in Chicago, we do. They go hand in hand just like Shaw’s Crab House and Joe’s Bar go hand in hand. Last week, these two institutions joined forces to put on one hell of an event in River North. A massive parking lot was transformed and packed full of 4,000 attendees who were visibly hungry for two things… delicious oysters and live country music. Lettuce Entertain You supplied all types of delectable goodies, but their oysters stole the show. Actually, the oysters shared the spotlight with County Music star Lee Brice. I’ve met Lee before and we have a ton of mutual friends, so it was a good ol’ time catching up with him on his tour bus before he took the stage. We got to chat about his recent #1 hit and his coveted CMA Award nomination for Best New Artist. You can catch the entire interview by clicking here.
The crowd seemed to forget how cold this October night was once Lee commanded the stage. His bold performance, powerful melodies, and poignant yet fun lyrics captivated the audience. He rocked through his biggest hits: Hard To Love, A Woman Like You, Love Like Crazy, as well as the fun-time anthem, Beer. He also surprised me by performing "Crazy Girl." This was a recent #1 hit by Eli Young Band and one of my favorite songs because of its haunting beauty… I had no idea that it was Lee who penned it... almost a decade ago for an ex-girlfriend. The outdoor festivities were immensely successful… but we all know the fun couldn't stop there. The die-hard music fans retreated back to Joe’s for the after party. Tyler Farr performed to an exuberant crowd and Lee sneaked back on stage for an impromptu performance of MY REQUEST: More Than A Memory!! Another painfully gorgeous remnant of his songwriting days… which happened to be a #1 hit for an obscure and up-and-coming artist, Garth Brooks. :-) It's always a pleasure when Lee or any of his buddies (Jerrod Niemann, Jamey Johnson, Randy Houser, Jake Owen) visit Joe's. They're a blast, yet so down-to-earth and easy going. Can't wait to see when some of the other guys will be coming back... StayTuned!!
Chicago’s relationship with country music is quite an enigma. Depending on where you are, and with whom, you will either discover that Chicago is the next best thing since Nashville….or you’ll hear crickets when you ask, “Hey, have you heard of Jason Aldean?!” For me, personally, I’ve been a country fan as long as I can remember…even growing up in Lake View. Shockingly, my Sicilian immigrant father got me hooked on Waylon, Willie, Conway, The Gatlin Brothers, and the Oak Ridge Boys before I could even walk. I think the first song I learned when I was two was, “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.”
Yet today, I have my friends divided into two groups: My country friends, and my non-country friends. I know when I’m with my “country friends” I can put on the most obscure Garth Brooks, or the newest hit from Little Big Town, and they’ll know every word and turn whatever venue we’re at into our own little honky-tonk. I also know when I’m with my “non-country friends” I better not even mention how excited I am for the upcoming Zac Brown Band show, or god forbid play any Eric Church for them on my iPod. I will, without a doubt, get the “How can you listen to that stuff?” or “Turn that redneck music off!!”
I believe this happens because in Chicago, it’s easy to go your entire life and not necessarily be exposed to country music. This would NOT happen if you grew up or lived in the South. You may not be country’s biggest fan, but you will damn sure be familiar with the genre. In the Windy City, there are no fair-weather country fans. I’ve noticed you’re either a “die-hard” or a “hater”. Now, I’ve also noticed that the “haters” are people who just haven’t given country a chance. Almost every “hater” I’ve encountered can easily be converted into a “die-hard” by listening to a few key crossover artists who can gingerly swing them over into the country-friendly realm.
Once you become a fan of country, Chicago is an amazing place to be. We have the country’s BIGGEST country music radio station inUS99.5 (in terms of listenership…quite the accomplishment). We are also a mega-hub for every country artist to appear… major and minor alike. This is why our beloved Joe’s Bar is such a phenomenon. It gives the “die-hards” a place to see their favorite artists up close and personal, yet also provides chance to experience up and coming artists. It’s also the perfect venue for a “die-hard” to bring a “hater” friend for a non-threatening and eye-opening introduction to country music. There is NO way the non-country lover will leave a show at Joe’s and say they didn’t have a blast and a new found appreciation for the genre they’ve been shying away from.
Clearly, the people at Joe’s, US99, and myself (wow, I’m in good company) have made it our mission to bring country music to the masses and to the forefront of our fair city. It is a big undertaking, but fortunately, the music speaks for itself and does most of the work. However, there is no better feeling of accomplishment than turning a “hater” into a “die-hard.”