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Where Are They Now? Our 2017 Artist to Watch Update

Justin Aharoni (@jaharoni) for NYCountry Swag

Here at New York Country Swag, we pride ourselves on being tastemakers, finding and championing new and up-and-coming artists and introducing our followers to the best of the best of the rising acts. Back in 2017, we named the 10 artists below in our “Artists to Watch in 2017” and we are proud to say, we know rising talent before they make it big. Check out what each of these artists has done over the past two years and what is coming up for them in 2019.

 

10. Seth Ennis- Last year, Ennis followed his debut single, “Woke Up In Nashville” and “Look at You” with the captivating “Call Your Mama,” featuring A-list superstars, Little Big Town. The singer-songwriter went on to make his TODAY Show debut with that song, taking his career to new heights. This year, Ennis also opened up for Dylan Scott on his headlining tour.

 

9. Trent Harmon- Continuing to ride the high from dropping his debut album You Got ‘Em All, Harmon released the title track to country radio last year. The song peaked in the Top 40 on Country Airplay.

 

8. High Valley- The Canadian country duo continues to take the country music world by storm. Back in April, they released their new single, “Single Man” from the forthcoming studio album. The song already reached the number two spot on the Canadian country charts. Earlier this month they released “Your Mama” and the video features real-life shots of their families. We hope 2020 brings more music from the rising duo.

 

7. Runaway June- The ladies of Runaway June have had arguably the most successful year! The trio released their debut record Blue Roses, and their radio single “Buy My Own Drinks” cracked the Top 5 on the Country charts, making history as the first song by a female trio to break into the Top 5 in a decade. Additionally, the ladies joined superstar, Carrie Underwood on her sold-out headlining tour. Check out how they expressed their excitement for their success with us here, during our interview with the girls at Taste of Country Music Festival and our most recent Swag Session below.

 

6. Brett Young- 2019 was a big year for Young, both personally and professionally. The singer-songwriter’s beautiful wife Taylor gave birth to their first child together in October, after they celebrated one year of marriage. As a recording artist, Young released his new project, The Acoustic Sessions EP, which followed the release of his Number 1 sophomore record Ticket to L.A. Fans of Young have his newly announced headlining tour to look forward to in the new year. The tour stops at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom on February 2nd.

 

5. Ryan Hurd- In 2019, Hurd focused on advancing his career as a solo artist. The talented singer-songwriter sold-out Bowery Ballroom in New York City this past January. We got to catch up with him at Taste of Country, where he shared what it’s like playing for New York fans. Hurd upped the ante by releasing both his EP Panorama and Platonic this year, including lead single “To a T.” Just recently announced, he will be headlining the Platonic Tour with Niko Moon, the tour hits NYC for a two night run on March 4th and 5th.

 

 

4. Russell Dickerson- We are proud to continue to champion the very first artist that New York Country Swag ever featured at our very first event back in January of 2016. Dickerson continues to be one of the most promising rising artists and infectious entertainers on the scene right now. This year, the singer-songwriter achieved a rare feat, as his first three singles to ever go to country radio hit the number one spot on the charts! Even better, the entertainer finally made it to the big stage at Madison Square Garden, where he opened up for Thomas Rhett on his sold-out tour and even shouted out our company, during his set!

 

3. Walker Hayes- Hayes continues to release music that he can be proud of and that his fans can always relate to. This year, he released a beautiful tribute to his wife, Laney, titled “Don’t Let Her,” headlined his own tour, and is about to release Volume 3 of 8Tracks. Check out our interview with the Swag Session alum below, as he talks about “Don’t Let Her,” and his journey.

 

2. Luke Combs- Combs has officially solidified himself as a bonafide country superstar in just a few short years. The singer recently accepted his membership into the Grand Ole Opry and released his record-breaking sophomore record What You See Is What You Get. Combs’ has had seven consecutive singles reach the top spot on County Airplay and continues to sell-out shows in arenas across the country. 2020 is shaping up to be another mega-successful year for the entertainer.

 

1. Drake White- It’s been a relatively quiet year for the White; however, that has not stopped him from bringing his unique talent to stages across the United States. The singer-songwriter captivated fans in New York City back in February when he played at Irving Plaza. He continues to be a mainstay at country music festivals as well.

Be on the lookout in the coming weeks for an update on all the artist we named to watch in 2018 and 2019, and then coming soon, our carefully-cultivated 2020 Artist to Watch list.

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The Hero Collection by NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.

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Brett Young Announces He Will Be Headlining The Chapters Tour

Brett Young Chapters

Get ready country fans, another artist is announcing their 2020 headlining tour! On the heels of his one year anniversary to his wife and the birth of his daughter Presley, platinum-selling country singer, Brett Young is ready to go back out on the road. The singer-songwriter is headlining THE CHAPTERS TOUR, beginning January 2020.

Young is bringing along special guest Matt Ferranti to open for him on the thirty city stretch of shows throughout the United States and Canada. The tour is a celebration of life for the singer, as he has had a landmark 2019, including the debut of his second studio album, Ticket to L.A.

The country crooner expressed his gratitude to his fans in a recent press release, sharing “I’m so excited about THE CHAPTERS TOUR for so many reasons. Being in a position to continue to headline even bigger shows is an honor and humbling, and I can’t wait to show our fans what we’ve been working on for them.”

New York fans can snag their tickets to the February 1st show at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom. Tickets for the Manhattan show and additional dates go on sale this Friday at 10:00 am. For tickets and more information, head to BrettYoungMusic.com.

THE CHAPTERS TOUR Dates:
1/30 – Knoxville Civic Auditorium – Knoxville, TN
1/31 – Stranahan Theater – Toledo, OH
2/1 – Hammerstein Ballroom – New York, NY
2/6 – Old National Events Plaza – Evansville, IN
2/7 – Stifel Theatre – St. Louis, MO
2/8 – Brown County Music Center – Nashville, IN
2/14 – SNHU Arena – Manchester, NH
2/15 – Bob Carpenter Center – Newark, DE
2/27 – Orpheum Theatre – Omaha, NE
2/28 – Mankato Civic Center – Mankato, MN
2/29 – Swiftel Center – Brookings, SD
3/26 – Robinson Performance Hall  – Little Rock, AR
3/27 – The Criterion – Oklahoma City, OK
4/16 – Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Auditorium – Chattanooga, TN
4/17 – Township Auditorium – Columbia, SC
4/18 – Sprint Pavilion – Charlottesville, VA
4/25 – Red Rock Casino Resort Spa – Las Vegas, NV
4/26 – Mechanics Bank Theater – Bakersfield, CA
5/1 – Avila Beach Resort – San Luis Obispo, CA
5/4 – The Union – Salt Lake City, UT
5/7 – Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium – Edmonton, AB
5/8 – Grey Eagle Event Centre – Calgary, AB
5/9 –  Abbotsford Centre – Abbotsford, BC

To keep up with Brett Young, follow him on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

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SHOP THE HERO COLLECTION

The Hero Collection by NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.

—————————-

Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here 
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

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Brett Young and His Wife Taylor Welcome A Beautiful Baby Girl!

 

Announced this morning, Brett Young is a dad! The Young’s welcomed Presley Elizabeth Young on October 21st and the country music community grew a little bit bigger.

The country singer-songwriter shared in an Instagram post: “Taylor, my wife. You are a superhero. Your beauty and strength never cease to amaze me. You brought our beautiful girl into this world with a level of grace and quiet confidence that I never knew existed. I’m so impressed by and proud of you. Thank you for this incredible gift. I could not love you more! // My daughter, Baby P, you’re perfect. I am so head over heels in love with you I can’t even explain it. My world is forever changed because God gave you to me. I’m going to do so many things wrong, but I promise to never stop trying, or learning, or loving you as fiercely as is humanly possible. You are my angel, and I will never take for granted the beautiful gift God has given me in trusting me with you. I will always be your rock and your safe place. I am so proud to be your daddy and I am quite certainly the luckiest boy in the world. (Side note, no boys til you’re 30). ”

For the full People.com article and more details about the new addition click here.

To keep up with Young, follow him on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

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SHOP THE HERO COLLECTION

The Hero Collection by NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.

—————————-

Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here 
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

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NYCS First Impression: Brett Young The Acoustic Sessions

Singer-songwriter, Brett Young released the final track off his The Acoustic Sessions EP on today (9/13). It contains five songs from his most recent album, Ticket to L.A. Young’s current single to country radio, “Catch”, the lead single, “Here Tonight” (featuring Charles Kelley), “Don’t Want To Write This Song” (featuring Sean McConnell), “Chapters” (featuring Gavin Degraw), and the title track, “Ticket to L.A.”

The acoustic version of “Catch” has a totally different vibe than the one you hear on the radio. The piano is emphasized making it more of a ballad. The lyrics stayed the same however as the song is about an unintended relationship forming between two people at a bar. The man just wanted to have a nice, chill time with his friends before he caught glimpse of this girl. This track was penned by Young, Ross Copperman, and Ashley Gorley.

Young slowed down his fourth number-one single, “Here Tonight” for this EP and added Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley, who co-wrote the song with Young, Ben Caver, and Justin Ebach. The song is about a man who wants this exact moment with his girl to last forever. Kelley takes the second verse and the two team up to make the second chorus sound even more beautiful than the original.

Just when you thought “Don’t Wanna Write This Song” couldn’t sound more melancholy, Young releases the acoustic version of it. This song is Ticket to L.A.’s “Mercy”; it is the most heart wrenching track on the album as it’s about a man having a tough time moving past the death of his wife.  Sean McConnell’s vocals feature in the background of this song, unlike on the original recording. McConnell co-wrote the song with Young and Zach Crowell.

Young kept his childhood inspiration, Gavin DeGraw on the acoustic version of the next song. “Chapters” is based on Young’s true story. He was the star pitcher on his high school and college baseball teams before a serious arm injury ended his career. Luckily for Young, he was blessed with other extraordinary talents, singing, and songwriting. Young wrote this with DeGraw and Copperman.

Just released today, “Ticket to L.A.” is about how two strangers get to know each other in an airport due to a delayed flight and quickly hit it off. She’s headed to L.A., not far from Young’s hometown. Young sings the verses in this acoustic recording with hardly any instruments backing him. Young, Crowell and Jon Nite wrote this song.

To keep up with Young, follow him on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

Listen to the whole EP on Spotify. Check out more new recently released music here on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.

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SHOP THE HERO COLLECTION

The Hero Collection by NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.

—————————-

Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here 
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

+ Follow our country music adventures on InstagramTwitter & Facebook:

Brett Young Tells His Real Life Story in the Visual for “Catch”

Brett Young Catch

Country singer-songwriter, Brett Young returned to his alma mater, Ole Miss, to shoot the music video for his next radio single, “Catch” off his newest record Ticket to L.A. Watch the video below!

The song, which was co-written by Ashley Gorley and Ross Copperman, takes place at a bar. Young sings about how he just wants to go out with the boys and take in a game but then sees a girl who steals all his attention. The visual, however, takes place on the baseball field. Young is the star pitcher of the Ole Miss Baseball team. While on the mound, he catches a glimpse of the young, attractive girl in the front row who returns the same look. They meet up after the game to get milkshakes and just like that they’re campus’ cutest couple. He waits for her to get out of class and greets her with lunch and she’s at every game, cheering on her new boyfriend as he strikes out a bevy of opposing hitters.

This feel-good story suddenly takes a turn for the worst. After Young throws his next pitch, he immediately clutches his right arm in pain as the ball sails over the fence. He heads to the training room to be treated; his girlfriend following to comfort him in his time of need. His bullpen session the next day does not go well as the coaches agree to shut him down for what would end up becoming forever.

This video is based on Young’s true life. Young, slated for a career in professional baseball, suffered a serious elbow injury that would halt his ability to pitch for good. Luckily for Young, he was blessed with two outstanding gifts growing up; his pitching arm and his voice. Young began singing in high school as a worship leader and became inspired by country music through Gavin DeGraw records. “Chapters”, another track off the new album features DeGraw and is all about Young’s life in baseball.
The story does a complete 360 as Young catches a young boy’s pitch on the same baseball field Young used to pitch in. He then grabs the boy’s hand and walks off the field.

“Catch” was a Most Added song at country radio this week, debuting on the chart at number 48. The music video was directed by Seth Kupersmith, who also directed the video for Young’s “Mercy”.

To keep up with Brett Young, follow him on Facebook, Twitterand Instagram.

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Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

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Brett Young Reveals Acoustic Sessions with Charles Kelley

Brett Young Acoustic Sessions

California hitmaker, Brett Young has made quite the name for himself in Nashville. On the heels of success stemming from his sophomore album Ticket to L.A, the singer-songwriter has embarked on a new project. The multi-platinum selling artist revealed a video series, entitled ‘Acoustic Sessions,’ featuring stripped-down performances of songs off his sophomore record. Co-writer and Lady Antebellum’s, Charles Kelley joined Young for a performance of “Here Tonight,” as the first installment of the new series.

Young’s video series is directed by Steve Jawn. In the first session, he slows down his mid-tempo love song and chart-topping hit, turning it into an epic ballad, reminiscent of hits “In Case You Didn’t Know” and “Mercy.” The camera shows clips of the singer, in the recording booth, singing the first verse and chorus of the song, later panning to fellow singer-songwriter, Kelley, also in the booth, singing the second verse of the song.

On the second chorus of “Here Tonight,” the two talented men team up, both lending their voices to the powerful lyrics. The duet adds a beautiful and unique harmony to the stripped-down version of the track. The new series shows a more vulnerable side to Young, allowing fans to see the process that goes into putting together and recording a song.

Young is wrapping up his the ‘Miss Me More Tour’ with Kelsea Ballerini and newcomer, Brandon Ratcliff later this week. The recording artist will be performing at multiple festivals this summer. In June, he will perform at CMA Fest in Nashville, Tennessee and Country LakeShake in Chicago, Illinois. Additionally, Young will open up for superstar, Luke Bryan at Gillette Stadium on June 21st. For tickets and more information, head to brettyoungmusic.com.

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

 

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Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

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and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

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NYCS First Impression Brooks & Dunn Feature New Artists On ‘REBOOT’

Brooks & Dunn REBOOT

Making their old hits new, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn have gotten together with some of country music’s hottest acts to repurpose and reimagine their biggest songs in the new album REBOOT. It has been over a decade since the best selling duo of all time released new music and exactly 10 years since they released anything at all, their last album #1s…and then some was a compilation of their hits.

For fans who are new to loving the genre, they may not be familiar with the duo or any of their songs however Brooks & Dunn have shaped the landscape of country music and helped cultivate and influence the artists that you know and love today. This new project allows fans of Kane Brown, Luke Combs, Ashley McBryde and so many more really dig into these tracks otherwise may have been lost on them.

Released first and prior to the full album, Luke Combs and Kane Brown’s contributions (“Brand New Man” and “Believe”) gave fans a taste of what to expect from REBOOT, without changing the songs melodically, they breathed new life into them.  “What’s really intriguing to me is that we didn’t do any production meetings about how we might cut these things,” Kix Brooks said in a recent press release. “We kind of just went in, and it morphed in the process.”

Choosing which songs out of their twenty, that’s right twenty number one hits, couldn’t have been easy but each track shows a different side of the duo’s outstanding discography. A standout on the record is “Ain’t Nothin’ Bout You” which features Brett Young’s soulful and sultry vocals. Young starts the song with the familiar lyrics, sonically slowing things down to accentuate the words, changing things just a bit, instead of singing to the girl, they are singing about her to each other. The addition of a saxophone solo adds a sexy spunk to the vibe, making this track one of the best on the record.

Currently one of the most talked about country acts, Kacey Musgraves who humbly took home Album of the Year at this year’s Grammy Awards is featured on “Neon Moon”. Her sweet voice highlights the buzzing neon signs in bars that will always welcome you back when experiencing heartbreak.  The decision to have a female voice adds so much to the two tracks on the record, the ACM New Female of the Year Ashley McBryde adds her grit and unique vocals to “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone”.

Possibly one of their most popular songs, “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” is energized by Grammy-nominated Midland who’s debut album is filled with songs just like their cover for REBOOT. Their version is perfect for dance halls and bars across America.

While every song on the record is an absolute proven gem, when Texas native, Cody Johnson starts off the last chorus alone on “Red Dirt Road” over a quiet acoustic guitar, it will make you fall in love with the song that has been a classic since its release in 2003.

It was just recently revealed that Brooks & Dunn will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame later this year. Making timeless hits brand new again, fans Brooks & Dunn and fans of these modern day country artists will have a record to blast for years to come.

To keep up with Brooks & Dunn, follow them on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

REBOOT is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music here on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.

 

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and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

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neonPPL Release Next Collaboration with Brett Young “ONElittleTOWN”

 neon PPL ONElittleTOWN

neonPPL, the mysterious and talented collective out of Nashville, just dropped their second song featuring the talented Brett Young. “ONElittleTOWN” is a message about unity and that despite our differences we are all similar in a lot of ways – “all the same kind of different”, “somebody’s sons and somebody’s daughters”. This is definitely a song you are going to have on repeat. The mystery female lead sounds amazing and pairs perfectly with Brett’s sultry voice with a catchy beat to boot. This was a great follow up to their first single “BeYoutiful”.

It seems this group is more out to spread a message with their music than be in the spotlight. In a recent press release, they were quoted as saying, “Through our music, our goal isn’t to tell you how to feel, but more so just to hope that the songs make you feel something. We want to give affirmation and a feeling of acceptance through them. We’re happy Brett joined us for this song and we hope it spreads the positive message we’re hoping to convey with this music. We are all neonPPL.” Having released two songs promoting positivity and collaboration, they’re clearly here to spread the love without gaining any recognition. This will allow people to really focus on the music and their message. There sure will be some curiosity on this talent though. Everybody loves a good mystery. We can’t wait to see who they collab with next!

To keep up with neonPPL follow them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook

“ONElittleTOWN” is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music here on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix

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Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

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and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

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CMT Crossroads Featuring Brett Young and Boyz II Men

Crossroads Boyz II Men Brett Young

Photo Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Held at Stage A at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, and broadcasted on CMT last night, Boyz II Men and Brett Young were featured last night for another incredible episode of CMT Crossroads. Who knew this was the collaboration everyone needed?

In last night’s broadcast, Young shared the stage with the iconic group in their first country collaboration. Young and Boyz II Men had met the day before this was filmed, however, their mesh of musical styles and stage presence appeared like they were old friends, performing together. The night kicked off with “Motownphilly” getting the crowd singing along and ready for what’s to come.

In between the songs, Young and Boyz II Men talked about how similar their two genres are and how love songs connect with everyone. “There’s country, there’s R&B and those two genres are exactly the same, we just change a couple of instruments to make one country and one R&B,” Nathan Morris of Boyz II Men says. “We are meshing genres but at the same time, we do very much of the same thing, and I think that’s really cool” Young continued. “But that’s the whole point of Crossroads, it gives the viewer something that they might not have seen on their own,” Shawn Stockman explained.  The group and Young jumped right into a beautiful rendition of Young’s “In Case You Didn’t Know”. They also performed the group’s hit “Water Runs Dry,” which is also the song that Young covers in his set on tour. It has the elements of a hit country track that engages the group and Young’s voice flawlessly.

Before singing Young’s next couple of songs he mentioned his single “Here Tonight” was the first time he put an actual tempo song out to radio. “Sometimes it’s nice to write a song that even though the topic is obvious, the story is so vague that anybody can make it their story,” Young says. “We don’t say where here is, here is here for you, it’s here for me, it’s wherever that is for anybody.” The single is currently climbing the charts sitting at #3 on the Mediabase chart and in the top three on Billboard. Young also explained to Boyz II Men that his track “Mercy,” was the song the crowd would cheer for to encore before it was even a single. Arguably, one of the most impactful songs of the night was “End Of The Road” which gave each artist a chance to really harmonize together, even allowing the fans in the audience to sing the final chorus acapella.

To end the night, they performed Boyz II Men’s smash single “I’ll Make Love To You.” “This was a challenge I was excited for, “ Young said of the collaboration and working with the band. “The process might’ve taken longer or gone differently if you guys weren’t so genuine and warm and open and fun about it.” There were roses placed on the stage for them to hand out to the audience. The artists took advantage of this opportunity by handing them out to the ladies in the crowd. Between the sultry vocals, amazing harmonies and beautiful roses it was a definite ‘’swoon’ moment for those in attendance.

As members of the Grammy award-winning band talked earnestly with the rising country throughout the show, it was apparent that they appreciate the country music genre, as much as Young appreciates them and the way their music has influenced him. “Country music leaves space for the song to breathe, they leave space for the artist to sing the lyrics so you can hear the story, ” Morris stated. “All of those beautiful things that country is known for, that’s why people love it still, it still touches the heartstrings,” Stockman concluded. This collaboration was an unexpected yet clever decision made by CMT.

To keep up with CMT’s Crossroads future shows, make sure to visit http://www.cmt.com/shows/cmt-crossroads. To keep up with Boyz II Men follow them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and Brett Young on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here 
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and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

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What We’re Listening To: March Picks

NYCountry Swag’s “What We’re Listening To” playlist highlights the wide range of our team’s favorite songs and artists when it comes to the country music genre.  At the end of the day, we are all fans first with a passion for country music and are eager to share with you all what we’ve got on repeat each month.

Find below each of our team member’s favorite songs and why in our March picks. Then be sure to give our Spotify account a follow and listen to our favorite tracks!

 

MARCH PICKS:

 

Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: “Forever’s Gotta Start Somewhere” – Chad Brownlee
Songwriters: Cary Barlowe, Donovan Woods, Todd Clark

This month I’m listening to Chad Brownlee’s “Forever’s Gotta Start Somewhere”. The song paints the picture of making that first move whether in a dive bar, on a train, in a crowded room, etc… the idea that for any relationship to begin, it’s got to start somewhere, anywhere first. 

“I know what you must think /Another guy tryin’ to buy your drink / Two for one on a Tuesday /
How can a good thing start this way / Well it could end up anywhere / Forever’s gotta start somewhere”

I love the idea behind these lyrics and paired with the catchy rhythm of the song, it makes it easy to sing along to and keep on repeat.”

 

Christina Bosch, Managing Editor 

Pick: “Ten Year Town” – Hailey Whitters
Songwriters: Brandy Clark and Hailey Whitters 

“I’m twelve years into a ten-year town”  That is the opening line of this incredible song. From the moment I heard it the day it was released, I knew it would be my pick this month.  Hailey Whitters moved to Nashville when she was just 17 years old and has been paying her dues since the day she got there. In a time when pop production has taken over the country genre, this track is simple and Whitters’ voice is delicate, almost melancholy as she explains the struggles she’s dealt with.

“Waiting tables another month, waitin’ on that break to come / all it’s ever done is break my heart”

Whether it’s a songwriter like Whitters who is waiting for that big break, just like a ton of artists in Nashville or co-writer, Brandy Clark who has been nominated for six Grammys but can’t get airplay on country radio, we are all looking to find our little place in this industry.  For me, this track can resonate with anyone waiting for validation in any career, music industry or not.

“Payin’ dues don’t pay the bills / Dreams come true, and I think mine will / lesser fools would have given up, they don’t go for broke like a dreamer does, ya gotta get back up when you get knocked down, I’m twelve years into a ten-year town, this next song could turn it all around”

I hope that I can be a small part of allowing others to hear this song and to take notice of amazing artists and songwriters striving for the spotlight.

Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Chapters” – Brett Young feat. Gavin DeGraw
Songwriters: Brett Young, Ross Copperman, and Gavin DeGraw

Like Young, I am also a huge Gavin DeGraw fan. He has always been one of my favorite artists so I was very excited to see him on Ticket to LA’s track listing.

“Chapters” is a true story about Brett Young’s life and his love for baseball growing up. Young received offers from Tampa Bay and Minnesota after high school but turned them down to play in college. However, an elbow injury ended his career which made him get into songwriting. Clearly, it worked out well for him, but his ability to turn the page and start a new chapter is what got him through that tough time in his life. Young and DeGraw explain throughout this very powerful and moving song that just because things didn’t work out the way you intended, doesn’t mean you failed; God had a plan the whole time.

“Every page you’ve turned is a lesson learned / And we all, and we all, just tryna get it right /
These are the chapters of my life.”

Nicole Bochinis, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Brand New Man” – Brooks & Dunn feat. Luke Combs
Songwriters: Don Cook, Kix Brooks, Ronnie Dunn

“Brand New Man” by Brooks & Dunn is one of my favorite country songs. I grew up listening to it with my family during BBQs in the summertime. When I heard that Luke Combs was going to be a part of a reboot for the song I couldn’t contain my excitement. I heard Combs cover this song the first time I saw him live and let me tell you, he does an awesome job and the crowd sings every word with him. Having one of your favorite artists cover a song you love is one of my favorite moments at a show. He’s such a great addition to this song and I’ve had it on repeat since it was released.

 

Jeremy Chua, Contributing Writer 

Pick: “Keep Abilene Beautiful” – Carlton Anderson
Songwriters: Carlton Anderson, Tom Douglas, Tony Lane

“You don’t have to be from Abilene or Texas to love this song. It’s lyrical, vocal and (traditional-leaving) instrumental perfection, evoke a very palpable sense of longing for the familial and familiar warmth we’re sometimes too far away from. And, needless to say, Carlton’s performance of this personified song coupled with his personal connection to the said city in Texas really bolsters the impact “Keep Abilene Beautiful” has on our heartstrings. Personally, I’m rooting for this to be his next single at country radio. With the standing ovation, he got at his Opry debut and the reaction this song is seeing, it could very well be a career-defining one for him— if given the chance to be heard on the radio.”

 

Taylor Felvey, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Sad Song” – Mike Ryan
Songwriters: Mike Ryan, Brent Anderson, and Clint Lagerberg

“San Antonio native, Mike Ryan gives a soulful take on a love song on his Album Blink You’ll Miss It.  The ballad tells the story of a love affair caught in a vicious cycle. It’s a relationship that’s headed nowhere, and will certainly end in heartbreak as the lyrics take you through the tumultuous situation.

“I watched the taxi cab take you away / I was the one left alone in the rain / I’ve drained a few bottles /
Stared a hole through my phone / I’ve come to grips with the fact that you’re gone /
And here you are standing in tears at my door / I don’t know what to tell you / I’ve heard this one before”

 

Molly Holmberg, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Try Saying Goodbye” – John King
Songwriters: Paul DiGiovanni, John King

“I have always loved John King’s upbeat songs from “Tonight, Tonight” to “Heat Wave” although I feel King has never got the attention he deserves. As an amazing songwriter, including Randy Houser’s “We Went”, his newest slow song “Try Saying Goodbye” hits a new chord. The song explores the difficulties of relationships and singing in the chorus, King thought sorry was going to be the hardest thing he would have to say, turns out goodbye is. The main theme of the song is to not take things for granted and be okay with admitting when you are wrong, never letting your pride get in the way.

With such a powerful message, I thought I could not be more compelled to press replay, but I was wrong. The paired music video was also done so well and certainly makes you emotional listening to the song and reflecting back on your own past relationships. Looking ahead, King has new music in the works for the coming year and I cannot be more excited to support him as an independent artist.”

 

Nicole Piering, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Tammy Wynette Kind of Pain” – Reba
Songwriters: Brandy Clark, Mark Narmore, and Shelley Skidmore

“In country music, there are few voices that are as instantly recognizable as Reba’s. In the weeks leading up to the release of her new album, Stronger Than the Truth, the Queen of Country has been releasing a string of new tracks, each showing a different side of the superstar. On “Tammy Wynette Kind of Pain,” co-written by the genius that is Brandy Clark, Reba sings of a cheating man, admitting that “standing by your man, well that’s a broken plan.” Lyrically, the song is absolutely brilliant, weaving in and referencing various Wynette songs to tell the tale of a broken heart. However, it’s Reba’s delivery that makes the song a true masterpiece, as you can absolutely hear the sorrowful ache in her voice. Knowing that Reba went through her own divorce a few years ago, it’s hard not to wonder if she drew upon her own heartache when recording the song. Either way, it’s a powerful performance that once again reestablishes her as the undisputed Queen of the genre.”

 

Olivia Reese, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Gone West” – Gone West
Songwriters: Colbie Caillat, Danelle Reeves, Jason Reeves, Justin Kawika Young

“I’ve absolutely loved the message in “Gone West” by Gone West. Although it can be difficult to leave what you’ve always known the adventure can be worth risking it all, “Sailin’ off to search the islands / Gone west for somethin’ new.”

Additionally, the harmonies with folk undertones are what initially drew me to the song as I have a proclivity for loving harmony bands. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Gone West.”

 

Nicole Sellati, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Give Up The Ghost” – Lauren Jenkins
Songwriters: Emily Shackleton and Lauren Jenkins 

“From the moment I first heard Lauren Jenkins’ song “Give Up The Ghost” off her soon to be released debut album, No Saint, I instantly fell in love with it. From the very first listen I knew this was going to be one of my go-to songs to sing at the top of my lungs while blasting in my car. She combines the essence of rock and country into this song creating the ultimate jam, while the lyrics tell a story about a former flame causing a disruption in a present relationship.

“I know I could make you happy / Baby, if you’d only let me / But two of us is one too many / Open the door and set her free / Give up the ghost, hold onto me”

It’s my favorite song released from the album so far and I can’t wait for No Saint to come out this Friday!”

Danielle Tornatore, Contributing Writer

Pick: “To Hell and Back” – Maren Morris
Songwriters: Maren Morris, Jessie Jo Dillon, Laura Veltz

“I’ve had Maren Morris’ new album GIRL on repeat all month long and I absolutely love every single song, but this one sticks out to me as being the most vulnerable track on the record. The story told in this one is so beautiful. It’s about a partner’s willingness to love you fully and freely and I just love everything about it.”

“You didn’t save me / You didn’t think I needed saving / You didn’t change me/
You didn’t think I needed changing / My wings are frayed and what’s left of my halo’s black /
Lucky for me, your kind of heaven’s been to hell and back”

 

Shanna Vitaliano, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Ol Muddy River” – Dee White
Songwriters: Dee White

“This month, I have Dee White’s “Ol’ Muddy River” on repeat. I heard White and his band perform last year when opening for Ashley McBryde and I was hooked on this song ever since he sang it live.  “Ol Muddy River” is a classic vintage country song with a catchy guitar twang and fiddle.  White singlehandedly penned “Ol’ Muddy River’ and tells a story about going to a river that brings him peace and tranquility.  He sings about his admiration for a place where he can go to escape problems with lyrics:

“All my life’s been wild like the river, so he and I really get along just fine /
Everything’s easy at the Ol’ Muddy River / You know that’s where I like to spend all of my time”

When I listen to “Ol’ Muddy River,” I can easily picture myself fishing and not worrying about a thing!  White released his debut album Southern Gentleman on March 1st, and a week later he made his debut at The Grand Ole Opry.  I am so excited to see what the rest of the year has in store for him!”

 

Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “A Song For Everything” – Maren Morris
Songwriters: Jimmy Robbins, Laura Veltz, Maren Morris

“My March song pick came super easy this month.  The second I heard Maren Morris’ sophomore album GIRL, I instantly fell in love with the nostalgic ballad “A Song for Everything.” It is everything I never knew I always needed in a song. The song is essentially an ode to music for always being there for us, as we go through good and bad experiences in life.

When I was looking for the words / Somebody said it first like they knew me / They were singing right to me /
One danced you through love / One rocked you through lonely / Mixtaped your heartbreak and made you feel holy / For the hits and the misses / For the fire and rain / Close your eyes and listen /
‘Cause there’s a song for everything, yeah / There’s a song for everything / There’s a song for everything”

Ironically, I’m sure that this song will be one of those memorable tracks that I attach to future experiences for a long time coming. Thank you to Maren Morris and her co-writers for penning this monumental song.”

Listen to our picks on our “What We’re Listening To” playlist on Spotify and be sure to give it a follow, so you can catch our monthly updates.

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