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chase rice

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My Top 15 Country Artists to Watch in 2015

2014 was an amazing year for country music. I heard so many great songs and saw so many amazing performances that I’m already pumped for what 2015 will bring. As I wrap my head around all my goals for the new year, I thought it would be fun to reflect on 2014 and those that I can’t wait to see do big things this year. Here we go! My top 15 artists to watch in 2015:

Cale Dodds – This past July I headed down to Myrtle Beach to see Sam Hunt and opening for him was a guy by the name of Cale Dodds. I looked him up on iTunes and before I even saw him live I had downloaded pretty much every song he had out there. His performance at the Boathouse in Myrtle Beach was nothing less than dynamic and the songs were even better in person. I had the opportunity to watch him perform again in Greenville, SC at Sam’s album release party for Montevallo and once again he impressed me with his performance, music and personality. I personally am excited for all that is in store for him over the next year. I have a feeling I’ll get to say, I knew him when

Chase Rice – Heading out on the road this year with Kenny Chesney, a larger audience will get to see the exceptional stage presence Rice brings from beginning to end. His Ignite the Night album charteda top 5 song on its first release with “Ready, Set, Roll.” Big things are to come for this North Carolina native. Get ready to fall hard for his next single “Gonna Wanna Tonight.”

Sam Hunt – Familiar with success from his songwriting skills with song like Keith Urban’s “Cop Car” and Kenny Chesney’s “Come Over,” he’s no stranger to the top of the charts. Hunt’s first single “Leave the Night On” went straight to number 1 and paved the way for a whole new sound in country music influenced by a mix of artists Hunt grew up listening to. “Take Your Time,” the second single off his debut album Montevallo, has already been released and if you haven’t heard it yet, keep an ear out for it. You’ll be a Sam Hunt fan in no time.

Dustin Lynch – With a brand new album out in 2014 and a number 1 song already under his belt from it, I’d say we have yet to see what will be to come for this guy.

Annie Bosko- For every girl out there who doesn’t follow the straight and narrow. For every girl out there who walks to the beat of her own drum and isn’t afraid be who she is and do what she loves no matter what anyone around her might think, this is the girl you’ll be listening to this year. “Crooked Halo” was released in November 2014 and honestly it’s such a motivating and inspiring song for all the girls out there who feel pressured to fit the cookie cutter image society has laid out for them.

Kelsea Ballerini - There hasn’t been a song of hers I’ve heard so far that I don’t like. “Love Me Like You Mean It” is the anthem of every girl out there searching for Mr. Right and tired of finding Mr. Wrong. It’s catchy and upbeat and lyrics wise, spot on.

Chris Lane – I saw a car with a crack in the windshield the other day and started singing the lyrics “looking at life through a broken windshield view.” A true to life growing up in a small town song, Lane’s single “Broken Windshield View” will hit home for many. I saw him in concert this past fall where I was fortunate enough to get a sneak peek at even more songs from his soon to be released EP and I am so ready to get my hands on them. Lots of good ones on there.

Chase Bryant- His single “Take It On Back” is still climbing the charts and from the looks of it, it will continue to do so as we enter 2015. Keep an eye on this guy.

Dallas Smith – I’m willing to give anyone a chance when I find them scrolled across Florida Georgia Line’s news feed, but Dallas Smith really backs up that support. As long as the boys of FGL, Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan continue to pave the way for songs like “Tippin’ Point” and “Wastin’ Gas,” Smith will definitely gain as much success here in America as he already has in his home country of Canada.

Old Dominion- “Break Up With Him,” is probably one of the most clever songs I’ve heard in awhile. It’s catchy and honest with a little bit of humor thrown into it. And then, there’s “Shut Me Up.” A modern twist on real country that reminds me of Diamond Rio and Alabama. Touring this past year with Chase Rice was only the beginning for them, I know it.

Canaan Smith  – You know when you first hear a song and you go, “that’s it?” A song so perfectly written and performed there is no doubt it’s about to blow up? Well in my opinion, Canaan Smith found his song. “Love You Like That” in all honestly is pure perfection. This guy better buckle up and get ready for one heck of a ride.

Logan Mize - He’s a mainstay on XM’s The Highway and reminiscent to me of Tyler Farr. He’s got the vocals and the songs to really go places.

Jana Kramer- I’ve loved her ever since One Tree Hill and I am really pulling for this girl. She really can sing and her songs are country chart worthy. I’m hoping 2015 is a big year for this lady (other than wedding planning that is).

Ashley Monroe- Have you heard her newest duet with Blake Shelton? She’s talented enough by herself, but with a little push from one of the big guns, she’s surely going places.

Thompson Square – They’re back! I saw them at a recent Fan Fest here in Charlotte and they were simply amazing live. A little birdie mentioned they’d been working on some new music and with their track record, I’m sure it will not disappoint..

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Twenty Minutes With Sam Hunt …. Is That Enough?

It was my friends birthday last Saturday and the only thing she wanted was to see Sam Hunt in concert. How perfect that he happened to be in town on that day with CMT on Tour. As soon as tickets went on sale, I bought a pair and my friend very patiently counted down the days.

Doors opened at 7 and once we made our way in we squeezed in with the other thousands of people who lined the floor. A few minutes after 9pm, Sam hit the stage with “Raised On It.” He brought energy, he brought passion and he brought talent. If you’ve followed Sam Hunt from his mixed tape days, you’re very familiar with songs like “Raised on It” and “Ex to See.” He followed those up with his fast rising radio hit “Leave the Night On” and news off of his soon to be released album Montevallo: “Take Your Time” and “Break Up in a Small Town.”

He then thanked the crowd as genuinely and grateful as he always does and headed off the stage. Sam Hunt did not disappoint that night. He delivered a show that was well worth watching. A talented songwriter in his own right, Sam has gracefully found his stage presence and improves each time I see him. Two things were very clear to me that night. 1. Sam Hunt is going to do big things with his career. 2. A vast majority of those in the room came particularly to see Sam. That’s why when I looked down at my phone after he walked off stage I was confused: 9:23.  Twenty minutes? A guy who’s single is currently top 5. A guy who has songs everyone in the crowd sang the lyrics too with no actual album out yet? How could he play for only twenty minutes?

This sort of piggy backs on my last post about Old Dominion playing for a full hour while on tour with Chase Rice. How rare that is. And I know when you go to a show to see the openers, not necessarily the headliners, you’re most likely going to get a shorter version of their nothing less than spectacular performance, but is 20 minutes really a fair amount of playing time?

I’m sure the artists themselves are thankful to be on the tour, thankful to be playing every night and I’m sure there is some kind of logic behind it. Tyler Farr played for about 20 minutes when I went to see Florida Georgia Line on the Burn it Down tour this past summer. It seems like a magical number and those talented enough make the most of it, but I still really just don’t understand.

Music Fans and Concert Goers of any genre: I’d love to hear your thoughts. Should openers get a little more playing time? Or is 20 minutes fair enough?

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Chase Rice and Old Dominion Come to Charlotte

It’s been over 2 years since I first saw an add for Dirt Road Communion on my Facebook page. That, as corny as is sounds, is how I found Chase Rice. His song, “Only a Country Girl,” has been a staple on all of my playlists since. Living in NY, he never came around my neck of woods, so I followed him via social media until my move to Charlotte. He comes around this area much more often and one year ago next month will mark the first time I saw him live. Last weekend, I returned to the Fillmore to see him again.

Old Dominion

The first time I saw Chase, he brought Sam Hunt along. I’m sure you’ve heard of him before! This time, he brought with him the band Old Dominion. Not only does Chase put on a seriously high powered show, but he seems to always find openers that know how to do the same. The best part was that Old Dominion played for a full hour before Chase hit the stage. Not very often do you ever get to see an opening act for more than 20-30 minutes. What I also loved, was meeting the writers behind some of my favorite songs. They wrote a few for The Band Perry as well, but Craig Morgan’s “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” and Tyler Farr’s “A Guy Walks into a Bar” are two of my absolute favorite songs these days, so it was cool to hear them cover those and find out they had a hand in writing them too!

If you haven’t heard of Old Dominion yet, I highly recommend doing your research now. I will admit, I’m very picky about my music and who I listen to and I’ve already purchased their EP and have had it on repeat in my Jeep for the last week. “Break Up With Him” is probably my favorite upbeat song of theirs followed closely by “Dirt on a Road.” Doing some research, I heard a song off their YouTube called “Never Stopped You Before.” I don’t know when or if that song comes out, but I’m kind of obsessed. It’s more of a slower ballad, but really shows of the vocal harmonies and sets more of a serious tone.

I’m looking forward to hearing more from these guys! And now… on to Chase!

Chase Rice

Every time I’ve seen this guy, his show gets better and better. Even within the two months since I last saw him, he changed it up. He’s starting to input more songs from the Ignite the Night album now that it’s released, along with the old school stuff that made me a fan in the first place. “Jack Daniels and Jesus,” no matter how many times I hear that song, the goosebumps always come. Here in Charlotte, one of the biggest highlights for me, now being a Carolina Girl, was his introduction of the song “Carolina Can.” Of course I’m partial to thinking that’s the best song on the album, and I’m glad he played it last week!

He also played “Beer with the Boys,” which ranks quite high on my list as well. I think I’m a fan of this song because it’s the true way guys really think of romance. Any of the guys I know anyway. Like hey, it’s Saturday, I’m hanging with my boys, drinking some beers and having a good time, but I’ll be out of here in a heartbeat, just say the word.  A guy putting you before beer and poker lol you know he’s a keeper.

One of the best parts of the show I thought was the band solos. Each pulled out an old school song for Chase to jump in with the lyrics. One of them was Puddle of Mudd’s “She Hates Me.” A great change in tempo.

This guy knows to how to pull out all the stops in a show. He gets the crowd involved, plays to everyone’s preferences and slows it down at just the right times. Chase was certainly born to be a performer. For someone relatively new to headlining, he played a high energy show for about 90 minutes and never lost the crowds attention for a second. That is pretty impressive. Anytime he’s within driving distance, I will be there because I know he makes it worth my time. Well done, Chase. Well done. The only recommendation I have for ya Chase is maybe next time you can play a little “U-Turn” ;) …. that’s my fav!

If you haven’t had a chance to see Chase in concert yet, here’s a little recap of what you’re missing.