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Album review: Feels Like Carolina by Parmalee

I don't think I can properly express how excited I am to be reviewing this. I'm been wanting this album for a while now and it's finally here. I'll be getting to the review shortly, but I wanted to take a second to announce that I'll be doing a giveaway over the next few weeks. I haven't done one in a while and it's safe to say that this'll be the biggest one I've ever done. I bring it up here because Feels Like Carolina is going to be one of the albums included. More details to come sometime over the next few days.

So. Feels Like Carolina. Right off the bat I give Parmalee credit for doing the bulk of the writing on the album and for cutting and/or writing songs with lesser known songwriters. I have absolutely nothing against all the popular songwriters out there, but it's great to see acts who are willing to give other people a shot. There's so many fantastic songwriters out there so I love seeing writers I've never heard of get cuts. …

CMA Predictions: Part 2

I was just skimming over the list of all the performers for the show this year and it looks like this is the year of the collaborations. There's always a few, but it seems like there's more than usual this time. Zac Brown Band will be joined by Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, Hunter Hayes will be performing his new single with Jason Mraz, Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert are singing their new duet and Taylor Swift will be performing with Vince Gill and Alison Krauss among others. And then Alan Jackson and George Strait will be teaming up to honor George Jones. There'll also be a special tribute to Kenny Rogers that will include Rascal Flatts, Jennifer Nettles and Darius Rucker. I don't know; just seems like more than usual this year. Should be interesting.

In any event, in Part 1 of my predictions I talked about Entertainer, Male Vocalist, Female Vocalist, New Artist, Group and Duo. Now it's time to shift focus a bit. Starting off with…

CMA Predictions: Part 1

Well it's that time again. Less than a week until the CMA Awards and everyone's been busy making their predictions and sharing their thoughts. So I figured I better hop on that train before time runs out. Remember: the CMAs are on ABC this coming Wednesday (November 6th) at 8/7 Central. This year the CMA will be doing a live stream of the press room, starting at 5/4 Central over on http://www.cmaworld.com/cma-awards/. Might be worth checking out.

I've done prediction posts a few times and I never seem to do them the same way twice. Oh, they all amount to the same thing. My thoughts on who I think will win and who I want to win and why. But I always seem to tweak the posts in some way or another. This time I'm going to be including a list of who I would've nominated if I was able to. Because like so many of you, I don't agree with every nomination and you know what? That's okay. Never let anyone tell you that you need to be in perfect agreement with the CMA.…

Book Review: Let Hope In by Pete Wilson

At its heart country music is, and always has been, about the lyric. It's everyday life set to music. Our everyday lives are full of so many different kinds of things. Different experiences, different emotions, different relationships and so on. And country music goes into all of it. There is a country song for just about any situation you can think of. A lot of it's about good times. Good experiences and emotions. But I think that the best country songs - the best songs, in general - are the ones that speak to the heart. Oftentimes those are the ones about not so great times.

You know, those times when something happens that leaves you reeling. Someone you love dies or your relationship falls apart. You lose your job or you get diagnosed with some life-threatening or chronic disease. Maybe it's not you; maybe it's a friend. You struggle with an addiction or some kind of disorder. And so on. These kinds of things make for a great country song, but when we're going …

Album review: Bring You Back by Brett Eldredge

To say that I was happy that this album finally came out would be an understatement. I first saw Brett Eldredge open for Trace Adkins in Baltimore on July 1st, 2011. I don't always remember dates of concerts I go to, but I remember this one for two main reasons. The first: it was on my birthday. The second: I got to meet Trace Adkins at this show and that was pretty cool. This show also marks the time I truly became a Brett Eldredge fan. His debut single "Raymond" had come out the previous fall if I'm remembering correctly and I loved that song the first time I heard it. But I didn't know much about Brett outside of that single. Before the concert I liked the song; after the concert, I liked the man himself.

So I hate that it ended up taking so long for his debut album to come out. It seemed like it was constantly getting pushed back to the point where I was starting to worry that it would never come out. It's been a long couple of years on this front. I'…

Odds, Ends and an Announcement

I can't believe it's September already. I know I've been MIA for a while now and that's been because things have been a little hectic lately. I spent most of the last month helping to pack up the house I grew up in and didn't have time for writing. This post is going to be a pretty short one. I figured I'd take some time to run through some of the things that will be coming up on this blog.

First: reviews. I've been such a horrible reviewer this year. I knew it'd been a while, but I was stunned to come on and see that I haven't reviewed anything since January. There's been so many great songs and albums released so far this year and I hate that I've let so much time go by without talking about most of them. So I intend on getting some long overdue reviews up, mainly of singles but also some albums. 
Second: cover series. My covers wish list series is one I enjoy writing and so I'm planning on getting more of those out. Especially since I…

CMA Fest recap: The Grand Ole Opry 6/4/13

I've been wanting to write about the Grand Ole Opry ever since I started this blog and for some reason it's just never happened. So I'm very happy to be getting this post out there as part of my CMA Fest recap. Just a heads up: this is pretty picture heavy. In case I haven't mentioned it before, clicking on a picture should enlarge it. Every picture I post is one I took, unless I say otherwise. All of these in here are mine. CMA Fest really got me in touch with the zoom on my camera, I'll say that. I'm going to talk more about this particular Opry show after the break, but first I wanted to talk a bit about the Opry in general.

Starting with some basic facts that I'm sure some, if not many, of you will already know. The Grand Ole Opry is a radio show broadcast on WSM 650AM. They've recently created an app and you can listen to the shows on that as well. The Opry started in 1925 and is the longest running radio show in the United States. I've been to…

CMA Fest recap: Day 1

I've been to CMA Fest a few times by now and it's usually hard for me to pick a favorite night because they tend to be pretty evenly matched. Not so this year. In my opinion, the first night was the strongest night by far. Before the show we headed to the BMI stage that was set up outside of LP Field. They had performances there each night of the festival, but we only made it to the first one. And that's where this starts.

CMA Fest recap: Day 2

So day 4 was JakeCarrieStormGate 2013. Day 3 was the Lenny Kravitz fiasco. Day 2? Well, there was  some sort of technical difficulty and a huge failure to communicate just what was going on. A situation that they chose to handle by not handling it. The artist involved? Little Big Town. But like the other couple of days, I'll get to that later.

Let's start with the beginning of the night show at LP Field.

CMA Fest recap: Day 3

All right, so we covered day 4 and what I dubbed as JakeCarrieStormGate 2013. Now we move backwards to Saturday, day 3, which gives us yet another controversy. This time involving the surprise guest. A guest which has me wondering just what on Earth the CMA was thinking. Actually, scratch that, I can guess what they were thinking: having this artist showing up on the TV special airing August 12th will make for good TV. Or rather, what they believe will be good TV. I may be way off base here, but lately it feels like there's people out there who seem determined to prove that country music is cool. And do so by trying to cater to fans of other genres. It's the only explanation that makes sense.

The problem? Well, first it implies that country music isn't cool already and that's nonsense. Country may in fact be at the height of its coolness. Look at how just about every singing competition has a country judge now. People say that having Keith Urban on Idol or Blake Shelto…

CMA Fest recap: Day 4

Hello everyone. Long time, no post. I'm not going to waste time with excuses that don't mean much anyway. The important thing is that I'm getting back into writing and what better place to start than with this year's CMA Fest? I hadn't been for a few years and this is the first year I've attended as a Nashville resident. I was pretty surprised by how different living here seemed to make things. I'm not even sure I can describe it, but it was an interesting experience. I really didn't get to do as much as I'd originally hoped, but I figured that I'd talk about the things I did and the shows I went to. I'll be breaking it up by day and event and also talk about a few others things. Like what could be improved upon and believe me, there's a lot.

Now I'm sure some of you looked at the post title and maybe got a little confused. No, you did not miss any posts. I've decided to do something a little strange and work my way backwards. St…

Covers Wish List #3

Welcome to the third installment of this series! If you missed them, you can check out parts 1 and 2 here and here, respectively. Again, this is an ongoing thing I'm doing and I'm enjoying it so far. It's fun trying to think of songs that never, or rarely, get covered and then deciding which current artist could do it best. Each installment will feature 10 songs and then if anyone would like to suggest any, let me know and I'll add it in as a bonus song in a future installment. It can be any song, from any artist in any genre from any time period.

Before I get started, I want to first to tell everyone about a movement going on in country music right now. Some of you may have heard about this already. I'm taking about the "Sixty for Sixty" movement. What is it, you ask? Well, George Strait will be turning 61 on May 18th. So far in his career he has had a total of 59 #1s. Now we're not talking about the same song being released on multiple charts or rem…

My 2013 ACM Thoughts, Picks & Predictions Part 2

Wanted to stop this off by saying that if you have any thoughts about anything I write about, I'd love to hear them. Whether you agree or disagree, I welcome opinions of all kinds. All I ask is that everyone remain respectful. I had a comment come in last night on one of my reviews that I ended up deleting due to the use of profanity. That's something that I'm not going to tolerate. There's no need for it. I don't like deleting comments, but I will remove any that include profanity. Right now I allow anonymous comments and I'd like to keep it that way. Hopefully that comment will prove to be a fluke; it's the first one I've gotten that I felt I had to remove. I really don't think this will be a big problem, but I wanted to get this out there. 
So now that that's taken care of, here's the rest of my ACM thoughts, picks and predictions. Kicking it off with...

My 2013 ACM Thoughts, Picks & Predictions: Part 1

Well, the Academy of Country Music Awards - the ACMs - are less than a week away. So it seemed like time for me to get myself into gear and get my picks all posted. I'm going to try to get all my picks up in two posts and then I'll be doing a couple of follow up posts sometime after the show. Remember the show is this Sunday, April 7th, on CBS at 8PM Eastern and will be hosted by Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan. I'm going to miss seeing Reba hosting, but I'm looking forward to seeing what Blake and Luke come up with. I can only imagine.
I have to say that I thought some of the nominations this year were downright wacky. Some great examples of industry politics coming into play for some of them. I don't blame the artists for this; I just think it's messed up. So for anyone who was disappointed that one of their favorite artists didn't get nominated for anything, please keep this in mind. There were some major snubs this year. Not to mention some ridiculous incl…

Covers Wish List #2

Welcome to the second installment of my covers series. Check out the first part if you haven't already. Since picking songs using shuffle worked so well for me the last time, that's exactly how I'm going to do it every time. As far as I know none of these songs have ever been done by any of these artists. I forgot to mention it last time, but wanted to urge everyone to check out any songs that they don't know. You should be able to preview all of them on Amazon or iTunes. Or even YouTube. Once again, if any of the artists featured in this installment happen to come across this than they can take it as a challenge. I imagine that some of the choices might throw a few of them for a loop if they did see it. Especially one of them. Remember: I'm trying to think out of the box and not always go with what seems obvious. Some choices are more creative than others.

If you came to this post via a direct link and missed part 1, you can find it here.

So that said, let's g…

Covers Wish List #1

I'm a big fan of the shuffle feature. Sometimes there'll be a specific album I want to listen to and in those cases I usually end up listening to the songs in order. But most of the time I'll listen to music on shuffle. Whether it's a certain artist I'm listening to or one of my many playlists. I like the randomness of it. Of course, as anyone who listens to their music on shuffle knows, it can make for some pretty interesting transitions. Downright strange ones at times. Especially if you're like me and have some playlists that have a little bit of everything on them. It is said shuffle feature that inspired this post, which is going to be the first of who knows how many. I see this being an ongoing thing.

See, the other day I was doing something on my computer and listening to music and it went from Carrie Underwood to Janet Jackson. As I was listening to the Janet Jackson song, it occurred to me that Carrie Underwood could probably do an interesting cover of…

Song review: "Carolina" by Parmalee

As I've said before, I think it's interesting to read reviews of songs before I review them myself. Not because anything I read influences what I write, but because I like to see what other people think of a song. And in reading some reviews for "Carolina" I've concluded that some people just don't know what to think of Parmalee. So what usually ends up happening: they say it's not country and the review becomes more about that than the song itself. Sometimes the accusation is valid; most of the time it's an excuse to give a bad review. Now don't get me wrong - these people are free to write what they want about it and free to feel how they feel about it. I just think that a lot of times people are too quick to say a song or artist isn't country.

My thoughts on whether or not Parmalee is country? Well, the past few days I've been on what I'm going to call a Parmalee binge: watching performance videos and interviews, in an attempt to ge…

My Top 12 Artists of the Year: Part 2

I was just thinking about this list and thinking about all the great artists who didn't make the cut. And there's a lot! I keep saying it: 2012 was a very good year for country music. It seemed to be a year of artists discovering exactly who they're supposed to be, musically speaking. I get so excited when that happens. It just makes everything that much better. Finding and creating the music one is supposed to make increases their confidence. You can see it. They start seeming a lot more comfortable and in that, having more fun. 2012 was a great year for that. In saying that, it is my hope that those who found their sound keep it. And that the ones who are still looking, still trying to figure it out, find it. That's my hope for 2013. One of them anyhow.

Of course, now it's time to look back. But first it's time to make a change. See, I really wanted to keep this at 12 artists. 12 for 2012. I deliberated over my choices and had to make some tough cuts. There&#…

My Top 12 Artists of the Year: Part 1

Well, it's that time of year when blogs and country sites all over create lists just like this one. I always enjoy reading these lists because it's interesting to see who people choose and why. I'll be honest. When I decided to make my own list, there were some artists who came to mind instantly. But choosing the rest was very hard for me. I didn't base this on numbers or sales or anything like that. Rather, I tried to think of which artists interested me the most this year. Which ones stood out among all the others and why. In doing so I realized that a lot of artists impressed me this year. Some of whom it almost pains me not to include. But there could only be twelve. There will be artists that you may be surprised to see on here and some who you'll be surprised to not see on here. Some of which surprised me when I chose or didn't choose them.

So who made the cut? Well keep on reading to find out. Including some of my pictures in here because why not? That…