Country 92.5’s Concert For Kids 2014

Country 92.5’s Concert For Kids 2014
Cadillac Ranch Restaurant
Cole Swindell, Thomas Rhett, Kellie Pickler, Scotty McCreery, and the LoCash Cowboys.
 February 25, 2014


Each year, Connecticut’s Country Music radio station puts together an acoustic show at the Cadillac Ranch, in Southington, CT. The show is a benefit for St. Jude’s Children Hospital in Memphis, TN, a charity country music singers have always greatly supported. This year’s show included Cole Swindell, Thomas Rhett, Kellie Pickler, Scotty McCreery, and the LoCash Cowboys. 


  1. Love This Life – LoCash Cowboys
  2. You Make Me Wanna – Thomas Rhett
  3. Suit & Tie (Cover) – Thomas Rhett
  4. Best Days of Your Life – Kellie Pickler
  5. Buzzin’ – Scotty McCreery
  6. Brought To You By Beer – Cole Swindell
  7. Hey Hey Hey – LoCash Cowboys
  8. Pour Some Sugar On Me (Cover) – LoCash Cowboys
  9. Round Here (Cover) – Thomas Rhett
  10. Selma Drye – Kellie Pickler
  11. Water Tower Town – Scotty McCreery
  12. This Is How We Roll (Cover) – Cole Swindell
  13. Hope You Get Lonely – Cole Swindell
  14. Best Seat in the House – LoCash Cowboys
  15. It Goes Like This – Thomas Rhett
  16. Closer to Nowhere – Kellie Pickler
  17. Feelin’ It – Scotty McCreery
  18. Ain’t Worth The Whiskey – Cole Swindell
  19. You Gon’ Fly (Cover) – LoCash Cowboys
  20. Truck Year (Cover) – LoCash Cowboys
  21. Get Me Some of That – Thomas Rhett with Cole Swindell
  22. Red High Heels – Kellie Pickler
  23. See You Tonight – Scotty McCreery
  24. Chillin’ It – Cole Swindell
  25. Friends In Low Places – Thomas Rhett, Cole Swindell, Kellie Pickler, Scotty McCreery & LoCash Cowboys

This year’s event seemed to draw an even bigger (and rowdier crowd) than in years past.  Broadway and Cory, Country 92.5’s Electric Barnyard morning show introduced the artists and each of them sat on a stool next to each other.  The rest of the night followed a guitar pull, in which each artist takes turns down the line playing a song of their choice.

First up was the LoCash Cowboys.  They are very entertaining performers who tend to blend genres with a Hick-Hop type of vibe.  However, they were most convincing on their emotional song “Best Seat In the House” written for one of the member’s deceased father.  Their final pull was a combination of songs they have written for some of country music’s superstars, Keith Urban (You Gon’ Fly) and Tim McGraw (Truck Year).  The entire crowd was on their feet singing along word for word. 

The second artist was  Thomas Rhett, who has quickly risen from a talented Nashville songwriter to a solo artist with star potential.  He started with “Make Me Wanna” and threw in a little Justin Timberlake/Jay-Z “Suit & Tie” at the end of it.  He, of course, played his #1 hit “It Goes Like This” and sang the #1 song he wrote for Florida Georgia Line, “Round Here”.  He even freestyle rapped on one of LoCash Cowboy’s songs.  However, what I thought was the highlight of the night, was when he and Cole Swindell collaborated on his new single “Get Me Some Of That”, which happened to be co-written by Cole. 

Kellie Pickler was next on the stage and she added some background to each of the songs she sang.  “Red High Heels” got the biggest reaction of all of her songs, but the song about her grandmother, “Selma Drye” stood out the most to me.  It is a true story about her gradmother who she knows she got “her crazy from”.  Kellie was the only woman on stage and more than held her own.  Her voice was soulful and she looked as beautiful as ever. 


American Idol alum, Scotty McCreery was next and he ran through a mix of his new songs.  His deep, resounding voice boomed through the speakers on his four songs.  “Water Tower Town” had a huge reaction from the crowd, but it was “See You Tonight” that was arguably the best vocal performance of the night.  He explained to the crowd that it was his first single to make the top 10 and it is still climbing.  I had never seen Scotty live before and I was very impressed with his vocal performance. 

Cole Swindell was last but certainly not least.  He was, by far, the most charismatic of the performers and seemed to get the biggest response from the crowd.  He was into each of his other artists’ songs encouraging the crowd to clap and was constantly pumping his fist.  His songs off his new album such as “Brought To You By Beer”, “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey” and “Hope You Get Lonely” got reactions from the crowd as if they had been released for years, not just one week ago.  However, his final song, “Chillin’ It”, which is currently the #1 song in the Nation, got the biggest response.  He was extremely humbled and appreciative of the crowd, his fans, and his fellow artists’ support. 

The night ended with the entire cast singing Garth Brooks’ “Friends In Low Places” with Scotty McCreery taking the reigns on the final “hidden” verse.  After the show ended, the artists sat in line and signed autographs for one hundred fans.  All the money was dedicated to St. Jude’s and the night was a complete and utter success, once again.  I commend Country 92.5 for putting on this annual event which helps such a worthy cause.   

Track by Track Dissection: Dierks Bentley’s “Riser”

Track by Track Dissection
Dierks Bentley: “Riser”
Released: February 25, 2014
Capitol Records Nashville
Produced by Ross Cooperman

A few times per year, I like to sit down and write down my thoughts of each track on an album that really impresses me.  Dierks Bentley has always been synonymous with making quality music, but after hearing Riser, I felt compelled to dive into each song individually.  It really is an artistic and diverse creation of music which compounds all of life’s emotions.  Dierks includes the happy, sad, dark, fun and complex moments that everyone experiences in life.  The result is an album about how life is all about rising above all the hurt and pain to find happiness.  You may not agree with my thoughts and I do not write this as a review, but more of what I found in the meaning of such a phenomenal creation of music. 

Track Listing:

  1. Bourbon in Kentucky
  2. Say You Do
  3. I Hold On
  4. Pretty Girls
  5. Here on Earth
  6. Drunk on a Plane
  7. Five
  8. Riser
  9. Sounds of Summer
  10.  Damn these Dreams
  11. Back Porch
  12. Hurt Somebody

1. Bourbon In Kentucky

This song has been out on itunes for some time now and was even released as a single until being mysteriously pulled from radio.  That being said, I think it is not only one of the best songs on the album, but one of the best country songs I’ve heard period.  Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am a bourbon connoisseur, so that gives an added pleasure to me.  However, the song is a dark story about a man who cannot drink enough bourbon to drown the memory of a woman he has recently lost.  It is apparent the break-up absolutely devastated his life and the desperation and pain in Dierks’ voice is moving.  Grammy Award Winner, Kacey Musgraves, adds her vocals in the background to this phenomenal tune. 

2. Say You Do

A man wishing that a woman would love him like she used to.  It’s that scary moment where someone realizes they have lost their lover.  The story teller will do anything, even allow lies and pain to just have a single moment of the way it used to be. 

3. I Hold On

The first official single off of the album, currently sitting in the top 10 on Mediabase is a personal song which Dierks describes meaningful things to him that he holds on to.  I think this song works so well because everyone can identify a materialistic thing that they keep because it has emotional value.  He sings about how he keeps his truck even though it’s old, not because of the truck itself, but because of the memories he had driving to Nashville with his recently deceased Father.  Further, he talks about an old guitar that he has had since the start.  He is holding on to these things not for their materialistic value, but for the emotional memories that they stand for.  A brilliant and unique idea that only Dierks can pull off.  If this does not hit #1, country radio should be ashamed of itself.


4. Pretty Girls

This is a song which Miranda Lambert apparently hounded Dierks to record.  It is a song written from the perspective of a guy who goes to a concert with his friends just to watch “pretty girls drinking tall boys”.  In the Riser Documentary which aired this past weekend on numerous channels, Dierks said he wrote it on a cocktail napkin at the Bowery Hotel in New York City after a show where he recalled this scene that he sees every night at his shows. 

5. Here On Earth

If you have lost someone who has meant something significant to you in life and hear this song without shedding a tear, you may want to check yourself for a pulse.  A truly heartbreaking account of someone trying to deal with the death of a loved one.  I know when I lost someone way too early that meant so much to me, I went through a time of darkness where I could not understand why it happened.  This song speaks to that very moment where there are no answers that can make it better. 

6. Drunk On A Plane

When I first saw this title I must admit, I rolled my eyes and expected it to be rather cheesy.  On the contrary, Dierks showcases why he is one of the best in the business.  He creates a fun party song that is the result of another heartbreaking moment (a break-up before a vacation which was to serve as a honeymoon).  The song is catchy as hell and will do exceptional on country radio if released as a single.  I dare you to listen to the song and not find yourself singing “buying drinks for everybody” for the rest of the day. 

 7. Five

Another heartbreak song where the story teller has lost a woman he loves and would do anything to get her back.  He speaks about not her every leaving his mind despite her moving all the way across the country and out of his life.  However, a twist comes at the end when the girl calls him up and says the same thing to him that he has been thinking all along.  It comes in the middle of the album as the theme of the album begins to “rise” towards a happier, more content feeling. 

8. Riser

A true highlight of the album which brings together the meaning of the album as a whole.  It’s the moment a man regains his sense of being after getting through hard times.  He tells his loved ones they do not have to worry any more because he is strong.  Each line and each word in the song is inspiring.  It makes the listener want to stay strong for all who depend on them.  I really hope this is also released as a single as I feel it is one of Dierks’ best songs of his career. 

9. Sounds of Summer

A unique way to approach a topic which has been sung about a million times, summer.  Instead of the normal cliches that you usually hear, Dierks approaches it from not the sights, but all the sounds you only hear during the warm months.  Sonically, the production shines on the track with drum rolls, screaming guitars, and reverb on his voice at times.  I could see this doing very well on radio as well. 

10. Damn These Dreams

A beautiful song dedicated to his family and how hard it is to be away from them while he is on the road.  It’s an interesting look into the life of a singer who is trying to follow his musical dreams while still balancing family life.  You can hear pain in Dierks’ voice, but it’s a different because he knows he can’t leave either of his loves: music and family. 

11. Back Porch

Just a fun, good timing summer party song.  There is no deep meaning behind this song, but fits in perfectly in the full scheme of what I think Dierks tried to achieve on the album: a full landscape of life.  There are certainly fun times amidst any trials and tribulations we may come across.  Back Porch is a song you can tap your foot to and let the stress just melt away with some beer on ice. 

12. Hurt Somebody

A simple love song about knowing there is a woman who is out of the story teller’s league.  He knows the girl is trouble and will eventually hurt somebody, but he cannot help himself from hoping it is him. 

CMA Songwriters Series 10th Anniversary at Joe’s Pub

CMA Songwriters Series
10th Anniversary
at Joe’s Pub, New York City
February 12, 2014

On Tuesday and Wednesday night, four award winning country music songwriters took to the Joe’s Pub stage as so many have over the past years.  However, this time, it was to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the CMA Songwriters Series at Joe’s Pub, which is located at 425 Lafayette Street in New York City.  I was lucky enough to be invited by the Country Music Association to attend the 7 PM show on Wednesday, February 12th and witness a truly special show. 

For anyone who has not been to one of these Joe’s Pub CMA shows, you are truly missing out.  Not only is the venue a small, intimate nightclub, but you get to witness a guitar pull, where each artist takes turns playing a song.  On this particular night, each artist performed four songs, of which almost every one of them was a huge radio hit.  Bob DiPiero has been the host of each of the CMA shows I have been to at Joe’s Pub, and tonight was no different.  He is charismatic, funny, and extremely talented.  He started things off with “The Church on Cumberland Road” which was recorded by Shenandoah.  Kix Brooks, formerly of the mega-duo, Brooks & Dunn, who was the star artist of the night, played a flawless harmonica while DiPiero sang and electrified the crowd with his guitarmanship. 


What followed was a multitude of hits and stories behind the songs.  Of course, songs such as “Red Dirt Road” and “Only In America” by Kix Brooks had the crowd smiling and singing the most.  But Jon Nite, quietly proved to have a budding future already chock full of #1 songs under his belt.  He was the most modest and quiet of the bunch, but when he told his stories and sang his songs, he had the crowd in the palm of his hand.  He told a story about the recent #1 hit “We Were Us” which Thomas Rhett turned down because he “hated it”, but Keith Urban recruited Miranda Lambert to sing on it and made it a huge hit.  He also spoke about a tough time in his life which led to him to write the Dierks Bentley hit “Tip It On Back” which allowed him to escape from the moment he was in.  The CMA Songwriters Series works so well because of the dissection of how the song was made.  For a fan of country music like me, who especially the stories they create, it brings even more intrigue by hearing the story behind the story. 

Not to be outdone, Tim Nichols added his humor to each of the songs he sang.  He even did a little Trace Adkins-like dance to the end of “Ain’t No Thinkin’ Thing”.  But his powerful “Live Like You Were Dying” (recorded by Tim McGraw) produced the biggest sing a long of the night as the entire crowd was in unison.  That particular song was not really about the story behind the song, but Tim touched on the reactions he got from people after the song was released.  The messages in the song are so strong about the real reasons for living that he felt amazed how much he really touched people.  That is the beauty of real music. 

 Kix Brooks, however, stole most of the show as he has always been a performer personified.  He told stories about having Jell-O shots with Ronnie Dunn in New Orleans, being on a bus with Merle Haggard, the struggles of being in a duo for twenty years, and even played along with every single songwriter’s song.  However, as he introduced “Only In America” (see video clip below), he told a hysterical story about how the song was President Bush’s campaign song which ultimately led to him being invited to the White House for the inauguration.  He said he met Muhammad Ali, Colin Powell, and even Ricky Martin.  He also said he was a bit surprised when he heard his song eight years later during a Barack Obama campaign (because he had not given him permission to use it) and receiving a text from John Rich as it played saying “not cool, man”.  His jokes had people in stitches and his songs were sung with gusto. 

All in all, the art of the song was the true star of the night.  What makes the CMA Songwriters Series at Joe’s Pub so special is the intimate venue and the story behind the song, then hearing how that story translated into such a huge hit.  I know I am not the only one that hopes the CMA keeps bringing these amazing shows for another ten years and beyond …
  1. The Church on Cumberland Road – Bob DiPiero (recorded by Shenandoah)
  2. Red Dirt Road – Kix Brooks (recorded by Brooks & Dunn)
  3. We Were Us – Jon Nite (recorded by Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert)
  4. Heads Carolina, Tails California – Tim Nichols (recorded by Jo Dee Messina)
  5. American Made – Bob DiPiero (recorded by Oak Ridge Boys)
  6. Can’t Make This Stuff Up – Kix Brooks (recorded by Kix Brooks)
  7. Tip It On Back – Jon Nite (recorded by Dierks Bentley)
  8. Girls Lie Too – Tim Nichols (recorded by Terri Clarke)
  9. Can’t Take the Honky Tonk Outta the Girl – Bob DiPiero (recorded by Brooks & Dunn)
  10. You’re Gunna Miss Me When I’m Gone – Kix Brooks (recorded by Brooks & Dunn)
  11. Beachin’ – Jon Nite (recorded by Jake Owen)
  12. Ain’t No Thinkin’ Thing – Tim Nichols (recorded by Trace Adkins)
  13. Southern Voice – Bob DiPiero (recorded by Tim McGraw)
  14. Only in America – Kix Brooks (recorded by Brooks & Dunn)
  15. Whatever She’s Got – Jon Nite (recorded by David Nail)
  16. Live Like You Were Dying – Tim Nichols (recorded by Tim McGraw)