Cody Johnson Brings Texas Country to Sold Out NYC Crowd

Friday night, country music fans packed Irving Plaza in New York City for a rowdy night of traditional Texas country by none other than our Swag Session album Cody Johnson.

Jobe Fornter

The opening act singer-songwriter Jobe Fortner, who is dubbed one of the hardest working guitarists from Monroe, Georgia kicked off the night. His powerful Stapleton-esque voice rocked Irving Plaza as he sang songs influenced by his southern rock background. Fortner told the crowd, “It’s damn good to be playing some country music in New York City tonight, and it feels real damn good coming from the south y’all, thank you for that.” He energized the crowd and set the stage for Johnson, and performed his brand new song “Wherever She Is.” Fortner definitely made a ton of new fans in New York City.

Cody Johnson NYC

The much-anticipated part of the night came when former professional bull rider turned rising country superstar Cody Johnson took the stage to the sold-out Irving Plaza crowd. Johnson said, “New York, are you ready to get wild?” And that they were. Dedicated COJO nation fans sang along to favorites like, “With You I Am”, “Wild as You”, “Ride With Me”, “Dance Her Home”, “Diamond in My Pocket”, and “Noise.” You could feel the intensity and emotion behind each song, especially right after singing “Noise,” Johnson told the crowd, “I think this the most intimate part of the entire set.” “The whole time God had a plan to put me on this stage right here tonight. I don’t care if this offends you or not, I’m going to go ahead and give all the credit for me being here tonight to Jesus Christ.” Johnson then sang “Dear Rodeo” a song that depicted his life immensely. His passionate lyrics and emotional tracks create such an incredible connection and bond with his fans. But if he was not singing heartfelt songs, you bet Johnson turned Irving Plaza into a good timing honky-tonk with other hit songs like “Y’all People,” and “Honky Tonk Mood.”

Cody Johnson NYC

It was not an easy road for Johnson to get where he is today, and he explained, “As for me personally, there’s a lot of people along the way that said your music will never work outside the state of Texas, there was a lot of people that said if you sign a record deal you’re gonna have to sell your soul – well here we are proving them, wrong ladies and gentleman,” He continued, “If you’re doubting yourself about something in your life tonight, I want you to dig down deep, and I want you to think about this – I am living proof that we live in the kind of country that you can step outside your box and chase your dreams and be successful. This song is for every hater in your life and everybody that wants to hate on this country its called ‘Doubt Me Now.'”

Cody Johnson

Johnson also took time during his set to invite all of the first responders, firefighters, police offers, military and the retired act of duty to raise their hands and be acknowledged. He graciously thanked each and every one of them for sacrificing and allowing everyone in the audience the freedom to be there listening to him chase his dreams. Johnson played his collaboration of “Red Dirt Road” from Brook’s and Dunn’s Reboot album, along with cover songs by his idol Chris LeDoux, Garth Brooks, Merle Haggard, Patsy Cline, George Strait and more. The crowd was loving every moment and screaming for more.

As Johnson pointed to his huge Texas tattoo, he told everyone, “Thanks for making us feel at home.” New York City fans sure did welcome Johnson with open arms, especially when he ended the incredible night with his current chart-topping single “On My Way to You” and the crowd sang back every single word to the powerful ballad. Johnson left it all on stage Friday night and fans did not want the night to end. It is no surprise that he is selling out show after show on his tour and will be joining Luke Combs at future amphitheater shows. For all upcoming tour dates head to https://www.codyjohnsonmusic.com/tour.

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Jason Aldean Brings The Ride All Night Tour to PNC

Jason Aldean brought the party and his Ride All Night Tour to Holmdel, New Jersey at the PNC Bank Arts Center on Saturday night. With him were special guests Kane Brown and Carly Pearce.

Carly Pearce Jason Aldean

Pearce opened up the show, energizing the crowd with hits such as “Catch Fire”, “Every Little Thing” and her newest single “Closer To You”. She ended her twenty minute set with her hit song “Hide The Wine”. Before the song, Pearce shouted out “Do I have any wine drinkers in New Jersey?!” which caused an uproar of the fans.

Kane Brown was next, opening his set with the first track on his newest album Experiment, “Baby Come Back To Me” and his first number one song “What Ifs”.  After performing “Weekend”, Brown asked the audience “Who out there loves their mama?” which generated a lot of feedback. He explained his next song, “Good As You”, was written in dedication to his mother and grandmother. If you are familiar with the singer-songwriter and his story, you know how important these women are to him.  Brown performed “Short Skirt Weather” karaoke style as the words were displayed on the big screen. He then covered Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” and Sean Kingston’s “Beautiful Girls”.

Kane Brown Jason Aldean

After his covers, the stage went dark and various military veterans were displayed on the screen. Brown explained how his next song, “Homesick” was dedicated to the US military. He performed a slowed down version and revealed it will be his next single to country radio.  The stage went dark again and old videos of Brown singing on Facebook and YouTube appeared on screen. “This is a little embarrassing to show but this is how I got my start in country music. It was you guys who made my dreams possible. Here’s my first radio single ‘Used To Love You Sober’”.

Brown ended his set with his two most recent number one songs in “Heaven” and “Lose It”. He brought his dance moves out for “Lose It” as the country star showed off his moonwalking skills to give the fans one last thing to cheer about before Jason Aldean took the stage.

Groundbreaking DJ/remixer/producer/radio host Dee Jay Silver was keeping the fans entertained in between sets. Silver recently released a single with country duo Waterloo Revival called “Getaway Driver” which he played for us after Pearce’s set. Silver is set to release his first full-length album titled Corners this summer. The album plans to blend music from all different genres. “The reason for naming the record ‘Corners’ is because this album literally takes you into all corners of my mind,” Silver explains in a recent press release.

Jason Aldean

The headliner for the night, Jason Aldean opened his set with “Take a Little Ride”, “Tattoos On This Town” and “Fly Over States”. Aldean then took a few minutes to chat with the crowd.  “I’m not one of those guys up here that does a lot of singing and dancing; that ain’t really my thing. So if that’s what you came to see, you’re at the wrong show. Our show’s a little bit more rock and roll if you guys are into that.”

He explained to the fans that he will be playing songs from his most recent album Rearview Town, songs from his first album and ones from the middle six. “So what I’m basically saying, we’re going to be here for a while tonight so you guys settle in.”

Unlike Brown, Aldean is not much of a talker; he wants to fit as many songs in his set as possible. Aldean performed 24 songs for the New Jersey crowd, taking very few breaks in between. His next set of songs highlighted his earlier music, including “Big Green Tractor”, “Crazy Town” and “Amarillo Sky”. He then jumped all the way to his most recent single “Rearview Town”.

Aldean then rolled off seven more hits from a variety of albums, barely stopping to take a breath. “Burning It Down”, “Any Ol’ Barstool”, “Getting Warmed Up”, “Johnny Cash” and “Night Train” were among those songs.

Jason Aldean PNC

Before performing “Drowns The Whiskey”, Aldean praised Miranda Lambert who is featured on the track and described how important she was to making this song go number one. “Unfortunately, Miranda isn’t with us tonight so I’m going to need y’all help with this one”, he encouraged. Aldean has a ton of party anthems, which he played for the fans on Saturday night. “Lights Come On”, “Girl Like You”, “They Don’t Know” and “My Kinda Party” were next in the set.

He got the crowd was roaring before “My Kinda Party” by taking a shot of tequila on stage. “I feel like at every party there’s that one thing that happens that takes it from like a really good party to a really kick-ass party….and even though I think this party’s pretty good right now, I’m about to drink this shot of tequila and I think it’s time we kick this bitch into overdrive.”

“Hicktown” and “Dirt Road Anthem” followed. Aldean then expressed his opinion on encores at concerts, calling them bull**** and how they just waste time.  “We’re going to give you guys everything we got and when the show’s over it’s just over. How does that sound?”

He closed the show with “She’s Country”, “You Make It Easy” and “The Only Way I Know”. Aldean chugged a beer and then walked off the stage in style, putting an end to the fun, exciting and boisterous night at the PNC Bank Arts Center. 

The Ride All Night Tour will return to the Metropolitan Area September 6th at Jones Beach Theater in Long Island.

To keep up with Jason Aldean, follow him on Facebook, Twitterand Instagram.

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Jillian Jacquelines Makes New York City Headlining Debut

Jillian Jacqueline

Justin Aharoni (@jaharoni) for NYCountry Swag

On Friday night in New York City at Gramercy Theatre, the crowd waited patiently for Jillian Jacqueline by listening to her opener, Joy Olakodun. This singer/songwriter from Arizona is incredibly sarcastic and funny, which is only an addition to her insane vocals. Her demeanor and stories had everyone laughing and falling in love with her immediately. As soon as she opened her mouth, you knew you had a new artist to follow; she made you want to even just be friends with her. She’s definitely one to add her to your Spotify playlist.

Jillian Jacqueline

Justin Aharoni (@jaharoni) for NYCountry Swag

When Jacqueline came out, sporting an adorable striped jumpsuit and sneakers, everyone was ready for her, and you could tell she had some major fans in the room. After playing “Prime”, “Reasons”, and “Somebody”, she talked about how special this show was to her. You could tell she was really excited. “The last time I played this room, I was opening up for another artist; I think it was about five years ago. This is kind of a full circle moment for me when I walked down the street today and saw my name up there, I definitely shed a little bit of a tear.” She had a lot of family in the room, explaining that she was Italian, so they just “came out of the woodwork”. She also said she just got married two weeks prior, calling this the “Honeymoon Tour”, because her husband happens to be her guitarist.

Jillian Jacqueline

Justin Aharoni (@jaharoni) for NYCountry Swag

She followed with the slower “Sugar and Salt”, that has a bit more of a country vibe than some of her more indie tunes. Asking where all her codependent people were at, she played “Friends” off her album Side B. After, she talked about how she had been in Nashville for about 8 years, and shortly after moving, she made a list of all the songs she wish she’d written, and then she tried to track down all of those songwriters that wrote those songs. “It was very aggressive, but that’s just the way that I am.” In addition, she wrote down a dream list of who she’d want to collaborate with, and one of them was Keith Urban, who is featured on her song “If I Were You”. “Little did I know that 8 years later, we would have a song together. It’s just really, really cool, it makes this song even more special because when I wrote this song, it was actually the first song I wrote about Bryan, which is hilarious because it’s basically saying, ‘Get the hell away from me’”.

Jillian Jacqueline

Justin Aharoni (@jaharoni) for NYCountry Swag

She can switch styles so seamlessly, evident when she played her cover of “I Feel It Coming”. Jacqueline talked about how since this was a headlining gig, she can play songs she never plays anymore. Talking about “Overdue”, she said, “This was the first song I ever released as a solo artist…I guess it hit a nerve; for me, I wrote it in a time when I was very lonely and really hoping to find someone, and it kinda just came out one day. It was like a journal entry…It’s really cool to feel that this song has connected with so many people over the years and it’s meant a lot to other people the same way that it did to me when I wrote it.” Everyone really related to this song and sang along.

Jillian Jacqueline

Justin Aharoni (@jaharoni) for NYCountry Swag

She followed with her beautiful “Kids These Days”, “Sad Girls” with a story about getting poison ivy for six weeks after shooting that music video, and a new song “When It Rains”. After a few more songs, and an encore, her fans went home happy after hearing all of their favorites, old and new.

To keep up with Jillian Jacqueline follow her on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

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Lauren Jenkins and The Wild Feathers Perform in NYC

Lauren Jenkins / The Wild Feathers

Texas-born, Carolina-raised singer-songwriter Lauren Jenkins transformed Gramercy Theatre into an intimate sharing experience with a lot of laughs for those in attendance. The Big Machine Records singer opened for The Wild Feathers and kept it real with the audience, removing all walls that could hide her vulnerability. Having been a touring artist since she was 15, she’s gone through so much, and that life experience is evident in her songs, without sparing any details.

Her ‘tell it like it is’ personality had her instantly admired, and the crowd, somewhat unfamiliar with Jenkins, immediately related to her. She lived in New York for a time, and was extremely glad to be back, saying it felt like home. She opened with her cover of Ella Fitzgerald’s “Summertime”, followed by the popular “Give up the Ghost”. Her folk style with the acoustic guitar and memorable lyrics created instant new fans. She told the stories of bad habits which came to be “Maker’s Mark, Marlboros, and You”, and the story of looking at her bank account and sparking the idea for “Pay Day”. She got the crowd to sing the last verse, laughing, saying “I have not gotten paid from this song yet, but here’s to hoping.”

The next song she played, also the title of her debut record, “No Saint”, tells her personal story of not being able to forgive someone even though she knows she should.  She goes on to tell the story of a too-long relationship she had in Charleston with a guy who cheated on her and brought a girl to the bar she was bartending at. “My Bar” describes how she kicked him out of the bar, and then wrote a song about it. “Moral of the story is don’t be a jerk, especially to a bartender, or a songwriter, and tip your bartenders.” This story got some cheers from the crowd and everyone on her side.

She finished her set with the track with the same title as her short film, “Running Out of Road”. She said, “Sometimes the road is long and you have to go on the dirt and make your own path.” This speaks to her grit and commitment to her own path and following where the music leads her. Overall, Jenkins connected with the audience and had everyone singing along by the second chorus of every song, even if they didn’t originally know the lyrics. She has the openness as well as the vocals to make a huge contribution to the music scene, and we’re excited to see how she continues to leave her mark.

The Wild Feathers Lauren Jenkins

The Wild Feathers started their set off slowly with “Lonely is a Lifetime”. The harmonies of this song were so intriguing, creating a captivating experience. They followed with tons of energy during “American”. The fans were already ready, singing along and many isolated cheers of “You’re awesome!” accompanied by loud whistles. Their voices blended well together, with their eyes closing, lost in the feel of the music. The guitar solos brought a rock vibe to the group that everyone cheered for.

“Quittin’ Time” has a strong beat and a nice rock to it. These lyrics were easy to catch on for any new fans. “Wildfire” has more of a laid back vibe, talking about burning everywhere they pass like a wildfire. The band hadn’t performed their own show in a while and was excited to be back in New York. The crowd definitely consisted of some serious fans who knew every word, and the band definitely delivered.

Showcasing songs from their latest release, Greetings From the Neon Frontier, the band who has been together for almost a decade flawlessly performed their biggest hits for a room full of fans. Their ability and their catchy songs had the room captivated all night.

Keep up with Lauren Jenkins on social media – FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Keep up with The Wild Feathers on social media – FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

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Smithfield Kick Off Their ‘We Make Our Own Tour’ in NYC

Last night, country duo Smithfield bought their first ever headlining tour to Joe’s Pub at The Public in lower Manhattan with special guest, Carolyn Miller. Luckily for us New Yorkers we got to experience an intimate night of good food and great music to kick off their ‘We Make Our Own Tour’ right here in New York City.

Smithfield We Make Our Own Tour

Justin Aharoni Photography / @jaharoni / Whole Trout Media

Kicking off the night, New York native Carolyn Miller took the stage going straight into her 20-minute acoustic set performing her song “Something Right About A Wrong Turn.” Getting the crowd ready for what was to come, she showcased her incredible vocals and stage presence performing a set of her original songs, “Save It, and “Strangers In This Bar.” While also covering a song that is dear to the singer-songwriter’s heart telling the crowd, “One of the first country songs I could ever remember hearing was this one…I was about 6 or 7 years old when I got this cd and I heard this song and fell in love with it and the storytelling. This is one of my favorite songs of all time, this is “When You Say Nothing At All” by Alison Krauss.” Performing the song effortlessly, she gave the audience a beautiful rendition to remember.

That wasn’t all for the singer-songwriter, Miller gave everyone who attended an exclusive premiere of her brand new song coming out on April 26th called “What You Can’t Have.” Before ending the night with her last song, “Remember Love,” she thanked the crowd for coming out mentioning how excited she was to see Smithfield coming up next.

Smithfield We Make Our Own Tour

Justin Aharoni Photography / @jaharoni / Whole Trout Media

Next up was the headliner themselves, Smithfield, kicking off their set with their uptempo title track “We Make Our Own” from their recently released EP Smithfield: We Make Our Own. Right off the bat, they were full of energy, getting the crowd ready for a great show ahead. As the night was just getting started the duo, Jennifer Fielder and Trey Smith took the time to welcome and thank everyone for coming out saying, “Y’all this is our first time headlining in the city so we are so excited to be here with you guys tonight, thanks for coming out to Joe’s Pub!… We know New York City is like the biggest market for Sirius XM, so they gave us our first shot to hear our first song on the radio and it’s a little song about skinny dipping,” going into their song “Nothing but the Night” followed by their new song “Counterfeit.”

Before going any further, Fielder gave the audience a little background on the duo mentioning to everyone that they grew up on different musical backgrounds as kids with Fielder being a country girl while Smith is a rock n’ roll guy. The duo got creative telling the audience, “We did a little mashup of our greatest heroes in music and we want to showcase that tonight, the songs that we love, why we do what we do up here on this stage.” They performed an epic 5-minute mashup of 90’s hits from both genres featuring songs “That Don’t Impress Me Much” by Shania Twain, “Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls, and “This Kiss” by Faith Hill, showcasing their undeniable talent no matter what song it is.

Smithfield We Make Our Own Tour

Justin Aharoni Photography / @jaharoni / Whole Trout Media

Keeping up the energy they kept the night going performing songs of their own “Slippin,” and “Me No You,” along with covers “Cry Me A River” by Justin Timberlake and “Come Back To Me” by Keith Urban. Before slowing it down Fielder asked the audience, “Are y’all cool if we just play this next one broken down just me and Trey and an acoustic guitar? Cause that’s where this whole thing started. The first time we came to New York was on the Highway Tour and we just played me, him, and a guitar.” The next song up was a very personal and special song to Fielder “If It Ain’t You,” the duo showcased their harmonies and incredible vocals syncing together effortlessly.

Before ending the night, Smithfield couldn’t leave without singing the song that started it all. Smith began talking with the audience saying,” Y’all this song we always called our little song that could cause it’s gotten us so many things in our career so far and the outpour we saw from you guys on this song, just the reaction I don’t say this lightly it meant the world to us really that you listened to it that you commented on it, thank you for being here tonight it really means the world to us guys. This is our first headlining tour, thank you for coming to the ‘We Make Our Own Tour!’ It’s a great way to kick it off!” Going into their emotionally driven ballad “Hey Whiskey,” before bringing the beat back up with their last song of the night singing their current single on country radio  “Our World.”

For those willing to travel you can catch Carolyn Miller on Chase Rice’s  ‘Eyes On You tour’ at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey on April 25th!

To keep up with Smithfield follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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Brandon Ratcliff Performs at an Intimate New York City Bar

Brandon Ratcliff

Last night (3/25), the NYCountry Swag team headed to Beckett’s Bar & Grill in downtown Manhattan to listen to rising country artist and one of New York Country Swag’s 2019 Artists to Watch, Brandon Ratcliff performed an intimate set for Sofar Sounds. This marks the second time, we’ve been able to witness the singer-songwriter’s talents with the first time being back in February, during Country Radio Seminar.

Ratcliff’s performance was part of a string of ‘Sofar Sounds’ shows that he participated in, sharing that NYC was his second to last show. A ‘Sofar’ gig is a unique show held at different venues, fans sit on the floor surrounding the artist and listen to each act play three to four songs. Most times, the crowd doesn’t know in advance which acts are performing that night, giving the rising artist a chance to organically garner fans and to interact with audiences in cities across the globe.

After a quick introduction by the emcee, the Monument Records recording artist got right into his acoustic set, performing his first unreleased song “Sometimes, Always, Never You,” with help from two band members. The catchy country and R&B infused jam resonated well with the audience, who were all swaying to the beat of the track. After the song, Ratcliff showed off his humble and vivacious personality, introducing his family and friends who were present, as well as, sharing his journey as a singer and a songwriter.

Ratcliff shared that he moved to Nashville from a small-town in Louisiana, four years ago, where he met fellow songwriters Pete Good and AJ Babcock. Read more about his backstory here in our Swag Spotlight interview. The three formed an undeniable relationship and got busy writing each and every song off his debut album, slated for release sometime later this year.

The Swag Spotlight alum continued his performance, singing the most recent song he has released, “Number in My Phone.” Excited to share this song, Ratcliff exclaimed “This song is one of my favorites off the record because I love writing about relationships because I think it’s something that we can all relate to,” adding, “Relationships are some of the most important in our lives.”

Ratcliff went on to sing his next unreleased song, “Slow Down, Hometown.” The ballad was truly touching and showed off the singer’s artistry and songwriting skills. He shared, “So I kinda wrote this song almost as a love letter to my hometown. I know you gotta move on, I know there’s a new set of kids coming up in this town, but just for a small time, while we’re here, in this moment, can we be who we were when you were my hometown?!” Adding later, that fellow musician, and one of his family friends, Alison Krauss lent her voice to this record.

Ratcliff closed out his show with the first song he ever released publicly, announcing that the song will go to country radio next month as his first single. The track already has over 20 million streams and counting and is sure to be a hit on the radio. “This song is super special because it’s kinda the catalyst that started this whole record. […] “Rules” really was just the song that was about the one relationship that made you want to break all those rules. This song’s called “Rules of Breaking Up”.”

Brandon Ratcliff

Brandon Ratcliff with Contributing Writers Danielle, Nicole and Erica with Managing Editor, Christina and Founder, Stephanie.

At the end of his 20-minute set, Ratcliff took some time to answer some personal questions from fans, including how he met his wife and of course, sharing his upcoming tour plans. The artist will accompany fellow country stars, Kelsea Ballerini and Brett Young this spring on the ‘Miss Me More Tour.’ For more information and dates head to brandonratcliff.com

To keep up with Ratcliff, follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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Maren Morris iHeartRadio ‘GIRL’ Album Release Show

Maren Morris has been promoting and celebrating the release of her sophomore album, GIRL, right here in New York City all week long. This past Monday night (Mar 11th) the songstress partnered with iHeartRadio to throw an official intimate album release party at the iHeartRadio Theater. Hosted by country radio DJ Bobby Bones, Morris performed three of her biggest hits from HERO, as well as seven brand new songs from GIRL.

Kicking the night off with the album’s title track, the Texas native gave a bit of insight behind the song’s writing process, “No one really wants to have those days where they don’t like themselves and I was having one when I wrote that song. And I just felt like it was a really therapeutic co-write that day.” She also shared one of the co-writers, Sarah Aarons also wrote her pop hit collaboration with Zedd, “The Middle.”

Transitioning into the song that she claims changed her life, “My Church” was up next. Bones asked Morris about how much her life had changed in the past three years, since releasing her debut record back in 2016. “I still have my sass and Texan in me, but I also have gotten married in the last year, fallen in love and so there’s a lot more love on this record represented [..] but also the industry’s changed, the culture of music has changed this year, I just felt Iike I wanted to put something out that’s honest and uplifting because it’s crazy times and I felt like this was a good medicinal record to put out.”

After performing her first ever number one hit“I Could Use A Love Song,” Morris transitioned into two brand new tracks, “The Bones” and “All My Favorite People.” The songstress revealed that when she played demos for this record to family and friends, each one insisted “The Bones” to be featured on the album. She co-wrote “All My Favorite People” with her husband, Ryan Hurd, in which she shared some insight into their professional relationship, “My husband and I met writing songs so it doesn’t ever feel weird to have that part of our relationship be creative and professional. We love writing songs.”

The powerhouse vocalist continued the night with “The Feels” and her seductive new song “RSVP,” which she told the crowd was intended to have country lyrics and the sound of a 90s R&B track. Before performing “Shade,” Morris told the crowd she purposefully placed it as the last track on GIRL, saying it was a perfect period at the end of her sentence, so to speak.

Wrapping up the evening with the nostalgic tribute to music, “A Song For Everything” and “Rich,” the singer-songwriter continuously thanked the audience for showing up and singing along, as well as iHeartRadio for putting on such an unforgettable event.

Morris will head back to New York City this spring, as part of her headlining ‘GIRL: The World Tour.’ Lucky for us New Yorkers, we will have two chances to catch the live show; Friday, May 3rd at Brooklyn Steel and Saturday, May 4th at Terminal 5. Tickets are available now. Visit https://www.marenmorris.com for all information.

Be sure to tune into the iHeartRadio Music Awards tonight, airing live on FOX at 8 p.m. to catch Morris presenting and hopefully taking home some awards of her own.

 

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WME & Sony Music Nashville Present: A Celebration of Women’s History Month

She Is The Music Women

Seaforth and Rachel Wammack

On Monday night, Sony Music Nashville and booking agency WME teamed up to present “A Celebration of Women’s History Month,” a night benefitting She Is The Music, a non-profit organization that focuses on increasing the number of women in music and gender equality in the industry. The night’s spotlight artists were Carlton Anderson, Rachel Wammack, Seaforth, Robert Counts, and Hannah Dasher; some of Sony’s newest artists on the roster. And hosting the night were beloved media personalities and journalists, Hunter Kelly and Ashley Eicher, the duo behind the All Our Favorite People Podcast.

WME booking agent, Carrie Murphy, was invited to start off the night by introducing the crowd to what She Is The Music was, and how the organization creates a platform for women to hone their craft and be supported on their journey in the music industry. “Girls can’t be what they can’t see,” shared Murphy.

The night took us on a chronological musical journey through country music’s finest women’s hits through the decades, from the 1960s all the way to 2010. Kelly and Eicher not only hosted the night but provided valuable summarized facts on social issues and the songs’ commercial success in each focused era.

She Is the Music Women

Robert Counts

Kicking the night off was Robert Counts, who covered Loretta Lynn’s hit song, “You Ain’t Woman Enough To Take My Man,” that was originally recorded in 1965. “This might get weird…I feel weird,” joked Counts before he sang. “[Loretta] taught me a lot about songwriting. She has done a lot for my career [and] is a huge influence.”

Up next they focused on the 1970s, a time period where the feminist movement took place. In fact, because of the inundation of this movement, TIME awarded its “Man of the Year” award to “American Women” in 1975. Covering Dolly Parton’s second single and one of Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” was Rachel Wammack and Seaforth. The soaring harmonies from both acts almost gave “Jolene” a hauntingly different version that’s been never heard before.

She is The Music Women

Hannah Dasher

The 1980s was a time when women were not getting fair wages, and part of the movement against inequality was Parton’s “9 to 5,” which was featured on the movie of the same title. The movie aptly depicted the social circumstances women were in the and workforce of that era. Hannah Dasher lent her voice to a rocking, feet-tapping cover of it.

Still keeping it in the 80s, Carlton Anderson came up on stage to pay tribute to Barbara Mandrell and her song that became a hit at the height of the urban cowboy craze, or as Kelly jokingly called it, “the early version of bro-country.” Anderson, the most traditional country-leaning act of the night, undeniably shined in his element as he sang Mandrell’s 1981 hit song, “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.”

SHe Is the Music

Carlton Anderson

The next half of the night transitioned to the beloved 1990s onwards, and it was that era that saw a promising record number of women elected into congress. Dasher returned on stage to cover Reba’s “You Lie,” with Big Machine Record’s Dan Smalley, who she introduced as “the closest thing to Vince Gill.” Following their performance was Anderson, who came back with his rendition of Patty Loveless’ “You Don’t Know Who I Am.” “I grew up listening to this song. […] When you figure out what it’s really about, it kinda hits you in the chest, and I think that’s the beauty of this genre.”

Perhaps two of the biggest highlights of the night were both from Wammack. The Muscle Shoals, Alabama native shared how several people told her when she first moved to Nashville that she “sounded like Deana Carter when [she] spoke.” Wammack played the keys and sang two of country’s timeless ballads of the 90s: Carter’s “Strawberry Wine” and LeAnn Rimes’ “How Do I Live Without You.” Introducing the latter song, Kelly shared the history of its release, and how two of country’s women, Rimes and Trisha Yearwood, both had released the single at the same time. Unsurprisingly, the 23-year-old really captivated the crowd as soon as she started playing.

She Is the Music Women

Seaforth

One of our 2019 Artists to Watch, Seaforth’s Mitch Thompson and Tom Jordan were back, and gave a refreshing cover of Shania Twain’s 1997 hit, “You’re Still The One.” Again, the duo’s harmonies packed a punch and proved why they’re Nashville’s next biggest Australia transplants in country music.

Closing the nostalgia-filled night was Counts, whose unique and raspy delivery invigorated the wistfulness of Miranda Lambert’s first number one song and her fastest-rising single to date, “The House That Built Me.”

What a night that took everyone a trip down memory lane, visiting decades of iconic hit songs from trail-blazing women in country music! If there’s one thing we’re hoping for after the show, it’s that somehow, these young acts record each of their spins on the songs they covered and share it with the world. One thing’s for certain: Sony’s newest exceptionally-talented class of acts are here to stay.

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Grammy Winners Dan + Shay Sell Out Hammerstein Ballroom

Dan + Shay Hammerstein Ballroom

Last night, Grammy award-winning duo Dan + Shay brought their headlining Dan + Shay The Tour to the historic Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City with special guest, Morgan Evans. Luckily for us New Yorkers, we were one of the stops on their completely sold-out tour this spring, making it a night to remember.

To kick off the night, Dan + Shay invited their friend and labelmate Morgan Evans to warm up the crowd. Evans took the stage with nothing but his acoustic guitar and loop pedal, performing in his signature style to showcase his undeniable talent. Opening up his set with his song “American” off his debut album, Things That We Drink To right off the bat, the rising country artist was captivated the crowd.  Slowing it down for one song, Evans began talking to the fans about his album and how he was picking the songs during the time he was seeing a girl. Mentioning to the crowd, “When your a guy that sings and writes songs in that part of your life you write a lot of love songs and I just want to chill this out for 3 minutes and 9 seconds. I really want to play this song for you guys, it’s maybe my favorite song I’ve ever written, it’s the first song I wrote for my now wife, it’s called “Dance With Me.”

Picking up the pace, Evans continued his set with his latest single “Day Drunk.” While in the middle of the song he stopped to say, “I’m here to warm you up for my buddies Dan + Shay tonight! This is the third show of the tour, I’ve watched the first two shows they are going to rock your socks off tonight. As I’ve said I got one job to warm you guys up! Are you feeling warm yet NYC?!?” Evans continued with the crowd singing along, doing just what he was set out to do. Not stopping there, he incorporated covers “Free Falling” by Tom Petty, “Hey Jude” by The Beatles, “We Will Rock You” by Queen, and “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan into his song. Throwing it back, getting the crowd fired up while belting out the lyrics along with him.

Dan + Shay Hammerstein Ballroom

Before ending his set Evans told the crowd, “It’s early in the night but I’m going to go out there and say you guys are the best crowd of the tour so far! You showed up early in the freezing cold and are singing your asses off and it sounds bloody beautiful!” Performing his number one hit song “Kiss Somebody,” making it a moment to never forget with the entire venue singing back his lyrics. To close out the set, Evans did one final jam, performing his song “Young Again” while incorporating “Honey I’m Good” by Andy Grammer and “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk The Moon.

Next up was the moment everyone was waiting for, as the lights went down and a video started playing the venue erupted in cheers and screams waiting in anticipation for the duo to take the stage. Running out, Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney kicked off Act I of their set going straight into their songs from their newest self-titled album including “Alone Together,” “Make Or Break,” their most current single “All To Myself,” and their duet with Kelly Clarkson “Keeping Score.” This was just the start of their set and the crowd was already fired up screaming the words to every song they played. After “Keeping Score,” Smyers took a moment to speak to the crowd saying, “You caught us off guard, this is absolutely insane. I’m at a loss of words right now…Thank you so much for being here, this is one of the most beautiful venues we’ve played in our entire career and you guys, I think, are like 4 or 5 songs in and Y’all might be the loudest crowd we’ve ever played for New York!”

With the night just getting started they continued Act I performing their hit single “From The Ground Up,” while the entire crowd belted out the lyrics with the duo. After the song, Dan + Shay stood there in disbelief looking into the crowd with tears in their eyes before the crowd started to chant their name. After the chant, Smyers began talking to the crowd again, “Wow that may be the coolest thing that’s ever happened to us, that’s crazy. Thank you!… I feel like we are letting you all down we are supposed to keep this thing rolling but man that was such a moment there, like the last like 30 minutes of our lives, we’re just trying to soak this in if that’s okay, I’m sorry I’m getting emotional.” Doing just the opposite they exceeded everyone’s expectations, putting on a show to never forget. Their hard work shining through each and every song they played, showing they deserve every last bit of success they have. They continued Act I playing their songs, “What Keeps You Up At Night,” “Stupid Love,” and “No Such Thing.”

Dan + Shay Hammerstein Ballroom

When it came time for Act II of their performance, another video popped up onto the screen showing Dan + Shay’s journey along the years including them winning their very first Grammy Award. As the lights came back up the duo were seen sitting on a couch in the middle of the stage getting ready for an acoustic set. Before continuing,  Smyers mentioned that New York City has been the loudest crowds they have ever played for and thanked the crowd once again saying, “I know we sound like a broken record up here and we get emotional a lot but this is seriously the coolest thing, we dreamed about this our whole lives and we appreciate you guys sticking with us throughout it.” They were nothing but appreciative the whole night and to show it, they took the time to check their socials to see what the fans wanted to hear, coming up with this part of the show were they perform some of their older songs acoustically. Each date being different this time it was their single “Show You Off,” “Sway,” and “Lipstick,” before bringing the band back onto the stage to continue the set. They covered the song “Someone Like You” by Adele along with their hit single “How Not To” to end Act II.

As the night was coming to an end with the Final Act approaching they once again thanked the crowd for listening to their music and coming out to see them live. They ended the night on a high note, starting Act III with their number one hit single “Speechless,” before continuing with their first debut single “19 You + Me.” Before performing their last song of the night Smyers said, “If the previous songs are any indication I feel like this has potential to be the loudest this song has ever been sung, we’re going to do this together, we are gonna do it big, we’re gonna do it loud!” Performing their number one hit single “Tequila,” the crowd did just that, screaming the lyrics back, making it the loudest song of the night.

Luckily for us New Yorkers, Dan + Shay will be back again in July when they open for Florida Georgia Line on their Can’t Say I Ain’t Country Tour coming to Jones Beach in Long Island on July 20th.

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11th Annual Texas Independence Day Celebration in NYC

Country music fans from all over packed Terminal 5 Saturday night, and the majority of them sported Texas gear to celebrate the 11th Annual Salute to Texas Independence Day featuring Texas artists Kyle Park, Aaron Watson, Eli Young Band, and Pat Green.

11th annual Texas Independence Day celebration

It was a jam-packed evening filled with 5 hours of Texas country music that was kicked off by Kyle Park. Aaron Watson continued the celebration singing crowd favorites such as “That Look”, “Kiss That Girl Goodbye”, and “Run Wild Horses.”

Watson paid tribute the heroes in the room and said: “I’ll tell ya, I’ve been around the world making music and we are blessed to live in the greatest nation in the whole wide world. We need to take time to give credit where credit is due, so all the veterans, the act of duty service men and woman, raise your hands. All the law enforcement officers and firemen get your hands up!” Over the cheers of the crowd, he sang “Raise Your Bottle”.

Another special moment was when Watson told the crowd, “Of all the songs that I’ve written this one means the most to me, this was the first song after my wife and I lost our little girl.” He continued, “There might be somebody out there tonight who is just hanging on by a thread, somebody who is having a hard time like I was and just want you to know, I know how you feel, I love you, God bless you, hang in there,” and he sang the beautifully written and moving song, “July In Cheyenne”.

Watson told everyone after he met Pat Green in the ’90s at a 150 person show, it was then he realized “I want to play Texas music for the rest of my life.” He played an ode to Texas with “Bluebonnets”, and “They Don’t Make Em’ Like They Used To” before closing out his set with the hit song, “Outta Style.” Watson said, “Thank you for helping to show country music that cowboys are never going “Outta Style!”

11th annual Texas Independence Day celebration

Next up were the multi-platinum selling artists straight from North Texas: Eli Young Band. A few days prior to the show, they announced they are releasing This Is Eli Young Band (Greatest Hits) album on March 29th. Fans were lucky enough to hear many of the cuts from their upcoming record, and they kept the energy level high as they sang hit after hit with “Always the Love Songs”, “Where Were You”, “Saltwater Gospel”, and “Love Ain’t”.

Young took a moment to dedicate “Skin and Bones” to his wife that was there in the audience, and sang another longtime fan favorite “Guinevere.” Young said, “Still to this day, it is absolutely positively one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written and been a part of writing, it is a song we wrote about a girl named Guinevere.” The crowd loved every minute of their set especially during “Drunk Last Night”, and they sang every word to “Crazy Girl”, and “Even If It Breaks Your Heart”.

11th annual Texas Independence Day celebration

Closing out the night, Pat Green took the stage and said: “If you didn’t know how badass New York City was, you wouldn’t be here at all – NYC is bad to the bone!” The chants for “Pat Green” rang loud throughout his set as he sang favorites like “Take Me Out to A Dancehall”, “Baby Doll”, “Songs About Texas”, and “Texas On My Mind.” Green even treated the crowd with a Springsteen cover of “Atlantic City.” Everyone sang along to his biggest hits “Feels Just Like It Should” and the final song of the night “Wave on Wave.”

Everything may be “bigger” in Texas, but the fans in the Big Apple sure did prove they can throw a huge Texas party alongside Kyle Park, Aaron Watson, Eli Young Band, and Pat Green. Green closed out the show by saying, “Thank you for having us, this is an amazing place, and we are lucky to be here.” All of the artists joined Green on stage and held a big Texas flag for a final goodbye and the crowd loved every second of it!

 

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Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here
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