‘Craving You,’ ‘Unforgettable’ score No. 1 awards

 Thomas Rhett picks up ‘Gold’ album, too

Nashville is turning into a party town. A ‘Number One’ party town, that is, with frequent festivities to honor the writers of recent chart toppers.

It was a ‘twofer’ party for Thomas Rhett on February 16, as the writers of two of his recent hits, ‘Craving You’ and ‘Unforgettable,’ were recognized for their achievements.  The party at Von Elrod’s was jointly hosted by ASCAP and BMI, commemorating Rhett’s eighth and ninth career Number Ones.

(L to R) Julian Bunetta, Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley, Thomas Rhett, Shane McAnally, Dave Barnes and Dann Huff attend the BMI Thomas Rhett # 1 Party on February 15, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for BMI)

Dave Barnes and Julian Bunetta were recognized for writing Rhett’s RIAA Platinum-selling mega hit, ‘Craving You,’ that also featured the voice of Maren Morris. Interestingly, it was not certain that ‘Craving You’ would be released with the Maren Morris backing vocals. Versions were mixed both with and without Maren’s vocals. On comparing the two, Rhett and his team decided that the ‘with’ version was better, even though he had originally felt that ‘Craving You’ wasn’t really a duet song.

Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley and Shane McAnally co-wrote “Unforgettable” with Rhett, released as the second single from Rhett’s 2017 album, ‘Life Changes.’  Frasure, Gorley and McAnally are all veteran hit writers with literally scores of No. 1 notches on their belts.

Both Frasure and Gorley better not stray too far: they’ll be back on February 21 to receive awards as writers of John Pardi’s No. 1 hit, “Dirt On My Boots.” co-written with Rhett Akins – who happens to be Thomas Rhett’s dad.

‘Life Changes’ goes GOLD

(L-R): Big Machine Label Group’s Nicole Csabai, BMLG’s Mike Rittberg, G Major Management’s Virginia Davis, Thomas Rhett, BMLG’s Scott Borchetta, BMLG’s Allison Jones, The Valory Music Co.’s George Briner and BMLG’s Jake Basden. Photo Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

If that wasn’t enough, Rhett was also surprised with a plaque to commemorate ‘Life Changes’ (The Valory Music Co.) earning RIAA Gold Certification for achieving 500,000 units sold less than six months after its release. Additionally, his current Top 5 single “Marry Me” has been certified Gold as it continues to climb the Country radio charts.

As a songwriter, Thomas Rhett is a force to be reckoned with. Next week, Thomas Rhett will be recognized as a CMA Triple Play Award recipient, which honors songwriters who have penned three No. 1 songs within a 12-month period (“Die A Happy Man,” “Star of the Show” and Michael Ray’s “Think A Little Less”).

Rhett is keeping up the momentum with his ‘Life Changes Tour 2018,’ set to kick off in April. For more information and for a full list of upcoming tour dates, visit www.ThomasRhett.com.

Preshias Harris is a music journalist and music career development consultant with the emphasis on new and aspiring artists and songwriters. Her book, ‘The College of Songology 101: The Singer/Songwriter’s Need to Know Reference Handbook’ is available at www.collegeofsongology.com Follow her blog at www.nashvillemusicline.com

Kip Moore, songwriters celebrate No. 1

‘More Girls Like You’ lead single from ‘Slowheart’

(L to R): Steven Lee Olsen, David Garcia, Kip Moore, Josh Miller. Photo credit: Preshias Harris

MCA Nashville artist Kip Moore was at The Hutton Hotel’s Analog on Tuesday, February 13 to celebrate with fellow songwriters of his newest Number One, “More Girls Like You.” The party, co-hosted by ASCAP and BMI, honored the song’s four writers David Garcia, Josh Miller, Steven Lee Olsen and Moore.

“More Girls Like You” is the lead single from Kip’s third studio album, Slowheart, following 2012’s Up All Night and 2015’s Wild Ones.

Kip has undeniably paid his dues on his trek to stardom. He made his first public appearance singing at a Mellow Mushroom in Valdosta, GA, and moved to Nashville in 2004. He was signed to a songwriting deal with the help of producer/songwriter Brett James. It would be a further eight years before Kip was signed to a recording contract with MCA.

“There was no Plan B”

During the media session before the award presentation, I asked Kip what he did with his career during those long eight years to keep his eyes on the prize. With a smile, he said, “It was knowing I wasn’t going to be happy doing anything else.  There was no Plan B.” He admitted, however, “It was a battle to keep one foot in front of the other.”

(L to R): BMI’s Bradley Collins, songwriters Steven Lee Olsen, David Garcia and Josh Miller, Moore and ASCAP’s Evyn Mustoe. Photo credit: Ed Rode

The four writers reminisced about the way “More Girls Like You” came about. Steven Lee Olsen (whose first No. 1 as a writer was the Grammy-nominated “Blue Ain’t Your Color” for Keith Urban) noted that when the writers got together, “something magical” happened. “We started talking and that’s how it started.”

“It started falling together fast,” added Kip. “They knew where my head was, coming back from Cost Rica!”

“Kip almost didn’t show up,” said Josh. “He was headed to the lake for some wake boarding.”  We were reminded that Kip has a passion for the water, having been something of a ‘beach bum,’ surfing in Hawaii before making the commitment to come to Nashville.

Discussing tour plans, Kip said he is joining Luke Bryan on his ‘What Makes You Country’ Tour.  “Luke has always been a gracious and nice guy,” said Kip. “I’m looking forward to touring with Luke and the Cadillac Three.”

CMA Songwriters’ Series in Europe

Kip will soon be crossing the pond for concerts in Dublin Ireland, Glasgow Scotland and London England as part of the CMA Songwriters’ Series. He’ll be joining his old friend Brett James for the European dates, along with Luke Combs, Natalie Hemby and Nicolle Galyon.  In addition to a packed U.S. tour schedule, Kip also has 2018 shows booked in Canada and Australia.

Kip’s story of his arduous journey to the top is yet another reminder to aspiring artists and songwriters that there is no such thing as ‘overnight success.’   There will always be a battle to ‘put one foot in front of the other’ as he put it. For Kip, there was no Plan B.

For tour dates and more info on Kip Moore’s new album Slowheart, go to http://www.kipmoore.net

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Preshias Harris is a music journalist and music career development consultant with the emphasis on new and aspiring artists and songwriters. Her book, ‘The College of Songology 101: The Singer/Songwriter’s Need to Know Reference Handbook’ is available at www.collegeofsongology.com Follow her blog at www.nashvillemusicline.com

Brett Young celebrates third No 1, “Like I Love You”

“We used our own money to cut the demo”

Jesse Lee and Brett Young answer questions before the No. 1 party. Photo: Preshias Harris

Big Machine Label Group’s Brett Young celebrated his third Number One at a party honoring him and co-writer Jesse Lee, Monday, February 12.  “Like I Love You” is his third chart-topper and comes just over a year since the release of his debut self-titled album.  The party was co-hosted by ASCAP and BMI.

Brett is one of only three acts in the Country music genre to achieve RIAA ‘Gold’ certification for an album released in 2017.  His breakout single, “In Case You Didn’t Know,” has already reached 3X Platinum status, making him the only debut artist since 2014 to achieve that level. He is also the only new Country artist with a 2017 song to go multi-Platinum, too. All three Number Ones are from his debut album.

Second No. 1 for Jesse Lee

Pictured (L-R): Scott Borchetta, BMI’s David Preston, Jesse Lee, Ole’s John Ozier, Brett Young, ASCAP’s Michael Martin, BMLG Records’ Jimmy Harnen and Big Machine Music’s Mike Molinar. Photo Credit: Ed Rode

Co-writer Jesse Lee was celebrating her second No. 1 as writer, following 2016’s “Peter Pan,” a hit for Kelsea Ballerini.

“Like I Loved You” spent three weeks at Number One, but its release as a single was by no means a guarantee, following the success of Brett’s two previous hits.

“My first two singles were happy love songs,” said Brett at a pre-presentation media session. “Then Jesse and I wrote this one that is really different. My songs are like my babies. A part of me is attached to that song,” he noted. “I fought for getting this song on my record. We used our own money to cut the demo.”

Speaking about the writing session that resulted in “Like I Love You,” Brett said that this was a different kind of co-write, too. “We’d never met before.  We went to lunch then came back and wrote it. That was in late 2014.”

The long road to Nashville

Both Brett Young and Jesse Lee might seem like newcomers, but as with most successful people, that isn’t really the case. At the media session, Brett noted that he’d been playing and performing for 14 years before moving to Nashville.

Jesse Lee is not new to the music business either. Signed to Atlantic Nashville in 2007, Jesse had some minor chart success as a recording artist, but then took a different path.

‘I reinvented myself and started to write’

Jesse Lee

Speaking of her early career as an artist, she said, “People didn’t want me one the radio! So I reinvented myself and started to write.  Then I realized I was getting into publishing companies because of my writing not my artist talents.”

Reminded that Nashville is often referred to as a ‘ten-year town’ when it comes to developing a career in music, Jesse laughed and said, “it’s been more than a ten-year town for me. It’s been eleven!”

Speaking about the diversity of his musical styles and interests, Brett said, “I grew up with rhythm and blues and soul music, so You will hear the soul in my music.”

Brett is about to head out on Thomas Rhett’s ‘Life Changes Tour 2018’ this spring.  Find tour updates at brettyoungmusic.com.

“it’s been more than a ten-year town for me. It’s been eleven!” Jesse Lee

ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo 2018 set for May 7 – 9

Unforgettable experience” for music creators

ASCAP has announced the first wave of music creators who will take the stage at their 2018 “I Create Music” EXPO. Among these ASCAP members from across genres and generations are multi-platinum recording artist Jason Mraz, Grammy Award-winners Marc Cohn, Darrell Brown and Dan Wilson, multi-time ASCAP Latin Songwriter of The Year selection Claudia Brant, jazz legend Marcus Miller, Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees Desmond Child and Paul Williams, rising pop star Billie Eilish and her close collaborator Finneas O’Connell. Now in its 13th year, the ASCAP “I Create Music” EXPO is the largest conference of its kind in the United States, attracting over 3,000 music creators for three days of panels, workshops, master classes, keynotes and one-on-one sessions with the industry’s top hitmakers.

The 2017 “I Create Music” EXPO included nearly 200 panelists from across the music business covering dozens of compelling topics, from Congressional legislation benefiting songwriters to expanding the role of women in film music to a case study with the team behind Justin Bieber’s Purpose. The 2018 EXPO will feature a comparable amount of panels and panelists, with a host of noteworthy lineup additions planned for the coming months. This will include the announcement of 2018’s keynote speaker, an honor previously given to Katy Perry, Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones and Justin Timberlake.

Registration now open

Registration is now open for this year’s EXPO, to be held Monday, May 7 through Wednesday, May 9 at the Loews Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles. ASCAP’s New Year discount is active on all pricing levels through February 14 at www.ascap.com/exporegister.

Ashley Gorley named Songwriter of the Year

Blake, Kelsea, FGL also win top awards

(L-R): MusicRow Publisher/Owner Sherod Robertson, Ashley Gorley and MusicRow Chart Director Alex Kobrick. Photo: Preshias Harris

Ashley Gorley has received yet another honor. At the MusicRow Magazine’s 16th annual Country Breakout Awards, Gorley received the Songwriter of the Year Award.  The award goes annually to the songwriter with “the most songs that commanded country radio in … secondary markets,” according to MusicRow Publisher and Owner, Sherod Robertson. It was Gorley’s second consecutive win.

The Awards ceremony was part of MusicRow’s annual ‘Country Radio Meet & Greet’ held at the Listening Room Café in Nashville. As before, it was held during the first day of the Country Radio Seminar (CRS).  Although it is not part of the official CRS program, the event always attracts large numbers of radio air personalities and program directors, as well as members of Nashville’s music community.

Seven Number Ones in 2017

Ashley Gorley. Photo: Tape Room Music

Gorley was honored for the remarkable achievement of co-writing seven Number Ones on the 2017 MusicRow charts. Among those songs: Blake Shelton’s “A Guy With a Girl” that was Gorley’s 30th Number One as a writer.

Gorley’s other MusicRow Number Ones for 2017: Thomas Rhett’s “Unforgettable,” Jon Pardi’s “Dirt On My Boots,” Dierks Bentley’s “Black,” Chris Janson’s “Fix A Drink,” Brad Paisley’s “Today” and Billy Currington’s “Do I Make You Wanna.”  Gorley is also the only songwriter to have received the ASCAP Songwriter of the Year Award five times, a record that he set in 2017.

A native of Danville, Kentucky, in 2011 Gorley partnered with Combustion Music and Warner/Chappell Music to start up Tape Room Music, his own music publishing company.

Blake, Kelsea Artists of the Year

Blake Shelton. Photo: MusicRow

At the Country Breakout Awards, Blake Shelton earned the Male Artist of the Year Award for more spins than any other male artist on the MusicRow Country Breakout Chart, achieving 83,208 spins reported by stations on MusicRow’s panel. His spin total included three No. 1 hits on the Country Breakout chart: “I’ll Name The Dogs,” “A Guy With A Girl” and “Every Time I Hear That Song.”

Kelsea Ballerini. Photo: Sara Barlow/MusicRow

Kelsea Ballerini was recognized as Female Artist of the Year with 80,928 reported spins. Kelsea had two No. 1s on the MusicRow Country Breakout chart with “Legends” and “Yeah Boy.” This was Kelsea’s second consecutive win in this category.

FGL nab 4th win; Combs, Owens honored

Florida Georgia Line

The Group/Duo of the Year Award went to Florida Georgia Line for the fourth consecutive year with 76,938 spins in 2017. FGL’s Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard topped MusicRow’s chart with “Smooth” and also with “God, Your Mama and Me,” a collaboration with Backstreet Boys.

Luke Combs. Photo: Louis Brown

Luke Combs received the Breakout Artist of the Year Award. Combs’ songs, including the Platinum-certified hit “Hurricane,” racked up 78,978 spins on reporting stations. His debut album, ‘This One’s For You,’ has already been certified Gold by RIAA.

Shane Owens

Shane Owens took home the Independent Artist of the Year Award, gaining more spins than any other indie artist in 2017 with a total of 33,428 spins. Owens’ songs, including “19” helped him lead the pack of independent artists.

Capitol Records Nashville locked in an unassailable 14th win as MusicRow’s Label of the Year. The UMG imprint scored 457,962 spins in 2017 with airplay from artists such as Darius Rucker, Dierks Bentley, Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood.

The annual MusicRow Country Breakout Awards go to artists, songwriters and labels that have achieved the most spins as reported by secondary market radio stations that report to the MusicRow Country Breakout chart.

Full details and more can be found in the February/March issue of MusicRow magazine and online at musicrow.com.

Six songwriters honored at Number One party

Dan + Shay celebrate two consecutive Number Ones 

What’s better than a Number One party? A DOUBLE Number One party, and that’s what happened Tuesday January 30th for writers of two of Dan + Shay’s recent chart-toppers.  The double-header, co-hosted by ASCAP and BMI, was held at ASCAP’s Nashville HQ.

“From the Ground Up” and “How Not To” are the second and third U.S. Country Airplay chart toppers for Warner Bros. Nashville artists Dan + Shay (Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney) following 2015’s “Nothing Like You,” a cut from the album WHERE IT ALL BEGAN.  The two latest Number Ones are both cuts on OBSESSED.

The honorees for “How Not To” were songwriters Kevin Bard, Paul DiGiovanni and Adam Hambrick. Publishing honors went to Kevin Bard Music, Ole Red Cape Songs, Paulywood Music, Sony ATV Music Publishing, Red Like The Sunset Music and Universal Music.

Accepting songwriters’ awards for “From the Ground Up” were Chris DeStafano, Shay Mooney and Dan Smyers, while the publishers’ nod went to Beats and Banjos, CDS Words & Music, Shay Mooney Music, Sony ATV Publishing and Warner/Chappell Music Publishing.

Inspired by grandparents’ long-lasting love

From left: Dan Smyers, Shay Mooney, Chris DeStafano talk during media session. Photo: Preshias Harris

At a pre-presentation media session, Dan, Shay and Chris talked about the origins of “From the Ground Up.” The idea was sparked by a very personal incident. “Driving back from my grandfather’s funeral, we ended up at [Chris] Stefano’s place,” said Dan.  “When Chris stepped outside to take a call, [Shay and I] started talking about how both our grandparents were married for 65 years. it so incredible to married for 65 Years!” It was from that discussion and family memories that the song took shape. “We knew we had something special and it was written in about 45 Minutes,” Dan added.

‘Personal moments’ shape songs

Personal life moments are often the genesis for songs, as Dan and Shay can attest. During the media session, they recalled writing “When I Prayed For You.” The song, about a soon-to-be-father praying for his child, was featured in the movie, “The Shack.”  Shay noted that it was written when he and his wife Hannah were expecting their daughter, Asher. Anticipating the birth of a child in real life added poignancy to the writing, Shay recalled.

Getting back to “From the Ground Up,” Chris DeStefano said, “It’s amazing to me to be part of a song that fans can connect with.” Chris is no stranger to chart toppers, having written or co-written Number One songs for Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Brett Eldredge, Jason Aldean and more. “I won’t ever take it for granted, being a songwriter,” he said.

Wexford, Pennsylvania, native Dan Smyers and James Shay Mooney (from Natural Dam, Arkansas) met in Nashville in December 2012 and began songwriting together. They were quickly signed to Warner/Chappell Music. The following year, their first single – “19 You + Me” – went to Country radio.  Although it never topped any chart, the song continued to sell steadily since then and has since been certified Platinum by RIAA.

Pictured (l-r): Songwriters Chris DeStefano, Paul DiGiovanni, Kevin Bard, Adam Hambrick and Dan+Shay’s Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney. Photo: Ed Rode/ASCAP

On the road with Rascal Flatts

Continue reading “Six songwriters honored at Number One party”

Are these really the best albums of 2017?

When it comes to music, everyone has their own opinion about what is ‘best.’  Below are some links to “Best 2017 Album” lists, plus important news about legislation that will affect songwriters’ income… and a Justin Timberlake video you just gotta see! But we’ll start with an item about a company creating laminates that deliver complete albums, videos and photos to your fans.

Check out these interactive souvenir laminates from iDitty

iDitty laminate for Big & Rich

Artists looking for something that’s both nifty and original might want to check out a neat product from iDitty, a state-of-the art tech company that manufactures digital, interactive souvenir laminates. They offer a customizable, fan-oriented “All-Access” laminate designed to make artist happenings and music accessible in real time at the swipe of a finger.

Since its formation in 2014, award-winning country music entertainers, legends and chart-toppers (Big & Rich, Kelsea Ballerini, Chris Young, Charlie Daniels and Tracy Lawrence), along with some of today’s hottest newcomers (Lee Brice, Justin Moore and Joe Denim) have aligned with iDitty to move full album sales. Collectively, iDitty claims $2.5 million in music sales to date, and Music Row Influentials validate the one-of-a-kind merch item as “the CD replacement.”  For more information, visit iDitty.com or contact Hugh Kirkpatrick here: hughkirkpatrick@comcast.net.

Best albums of 2017

Question: What were the best albums of 2017?  Answer:  Depends on who you ask. You can find Rolling Stone’s ’50 Best Albums of 2017’ here. Meanwhile, NPR (National Public Radio) have prepared their own Top 50 album list here.   When it comes to Country, there are several lists to pick from.  Start with Taste of Country’s  ’10 Country Albums That Stood Above the Rest in 2017’ here. and then check Billboard’s ‘The 10 Best Country Albums of 2017: Critics’ Choice’ at the magazine’s website.   No doubt, with every list, you’ll say, “What?! How could they leave out [insert your favorite album name here]!”

“Songwriters are the lifeblood of Music City”

In late December, Congressmen Doug Collins (R-GA) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) introduced “The Music Modernization Act Of 2017” (HR 4706), legislation designed to improve songwriter royalty rates from digital streaming companies while making the music licensing process more efficient.

In a story published at musicrow.com, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) says, “Songwriters are the lifeblood of Music City, and their paychecks ought to be based on the fair market value of their songs – so that when they write a hit heard around the world, you can see it in their billfolds.” Alexander continued, “We intend to introduce legislation that we have been working on for months to help songwriters receive fair market compensation early next year, and we will be including in our legislation many of the same provisions that were in the House bill introduced today.”

Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch were noted as guiding forces throughout this process, years in the making. A Senate version of the legislation will be introduced in early 2018. Read the full Music Row story here.

And finally…

Justin Timberlake – way before NSYNC

Justin Timberlake, age 11

Some people muttered “He ain’t Country,” when Justin Timberlake appeared onstage with Chris Stapleton during the 2015 CMA Awards for their “Tennessee Whiskey” duet.  But Justin’s country roots go w-a-y back to when he was just a tyke growing up in Shelby Forest, Tennessee.

If you haven’t already seen it, take a look at a young Timberlake performing an Alan Jackson song on Star Search here.

Country Rising: 2nd Hurricane Relief show added

‘Downtown Jam’ added to Nov 12 Bridgestone Arena show

Although the original Bridgestone Arena show sold out fast, a SECOND show has been added. Country Rising: Downtown Jam will take place at Nashville’s Ascend Amphitheater, Nov 12. Tickets are on sale now but going fast at ticketnaster.com.

The Downtown Jam will be hosted by Storme Warren, with performances by Bobby Bones & The Raging Idiots, Bailey Bryan, Lindsay Ell, Chris Janson, Jon Pardi, Eric Paslay, Carly Pearce and Drake White, with more artists to be announced.

Aldean, Dierks, Garth, Lady A and more

As for the ‘sold out’ event at Bridgestone Arena, country music’s biggest stars have rallied for COUNTRY RISING, a benefit concert to support those in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and additional Caribbean islands who have been impacted by the recent hurricanes. The star-studded lineup at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 12 will include performances by Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Garth Brooks, Sam Hunt, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Chris Stapleton, George Strait and Carrie Underwood. Updates at CountryRising.org.

The original Bridgestone Arena show, now sold out

The Nashville music community has also stepped on board, with AEG and Live Nation teaming up as the official show promoters working alongside organizer Red Light Management, Bridgestone Arena and the Nashville Predators. COUNTRY RISING will benefit The Country Rising Fund of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, which was established to support charitable initiatives to help victims of the September 2017 hurricanes — Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria. In the course of rebuilding lives disrupted by these devastating storms, there are immediate needs and there also will be long-term needs. This fund will strategically support both as they emerge.

For more information, visit: www.CountryRising.org.

About The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee

The Community Foundation exists to promote and facilitate giving in the 40 counties of Middle Tennessee and beyond. It does this by accepting gifts of any size from anyone at any time and by empowering individuals, families, companies, nonprofits, and communities to respond to needs and opportunities that matter. The Community Foundation works with people who have great hearts, whether or not they have great wealth, to craft solutions that reflect their intentions and goals. For more information, call 615-321-4939 or visit www.cfmt.org.

Note: Proceeds from the show will go to support victims of the Las Vegas shooting in addition to those in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and additional Caribbean islands who have been impacted by the recent hurricanes.

Michael Ray helping animals in need

Collects animal shelter donations on 15-stop trek

Michael Ray with adopted dog Wrigley. Credit: Courtesy PAWS Chicago

I already knew Michael Ray was a great guy but he’s gone up even higher in my estimation as he proves how much he cares about animals that need a helping hand.

Inspired by his rescue dog Wrigley, Michael Ray has launched a special initiative, Wrigley Cares: Helping Animals In Need, just as he sets out on his “Get To You” Tour. The Gold-selling artist, whose latest single “Get To You” is currently climbing the charts, will collect donations with help from Zappos For Good and local animal shelters.

Wrigley Cares: Helping Animals In Need kicked off as Ray took the stage for the tour’s opening night in Tuscaloosa, AL. Since adopting Wrigley earlier this summer at Chicago’s Country Lakeshake Fest, Ray has been searching for impactful ways he and his fans can give back to rescued animals. Wrigley came to Michael from Paws Chicago, a no-kill animal shelter.

Changing lives of shelter dogs

“Wrigley is a huge part of my life – she’s on the road with us and she’s there for all the major moments,” shared Ray. “She changed my life back in June and I’m hoping we can change the lives of other shelter dogs by lending a helping hand.”

The Atlantic Records/Warner Music Nashville recording artist logged thousands of miles in 2017 and will wrap the year with his second headline tour. Already achieving two No. 1 singles, Ray’s anticipated lead single “Get To You” notched the most-added on the country airplay charts upon release and previews his forthcoming sophomore album.

Helping local shelters

Zappos for Good, the charity team at Zappos.com, will amplify Wrigley Cares by identifying local shelters in need and setting up donation stations at each tour stop. Concert attendees can drop supplies at the donation stations and receive a special discount code redeemable on Ray merchandise. All donations are welcome and each local shelter is specifically looking for: dry/wet dog and cat food in addition to new/slightly used towels and blankets which will be used to line shelter crates.

“We’re thrilled to work with Michael Ray and team to help support animal rescue,” said Steven Bautista, Head of Charity for Zappos.com. “We’re passionate about animal welfare and see this adoption event as an extension of our core, which is customer service.”

You can find out more about Michael Ray (and Wrigley!) and check out his full tour schedule here.

October ‘Inside Track on Music Row’ posted

Big & Rich, Craig Wayne Boyd, EXILE and more

My column, ‘Inside Track on Music Row,’ is America’s longest-running monthly country music column, and here’s a ‘heads up’ to let you know that the full October 2017 column is now posted at my other website, I Know Country.  Meanwhile, here’s a taste of a few items from the column…

Big & Rich are doing it for the party!

Big & Rich, Did It For the Party

Big & Rich have released their sixth studio album DID IT FOR THE PARTY, guesting on several national TV shows and a major media blitz. They will also be the musical guest on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” October 2.

The new project features 13 new songs, all produced by Big Kenny and John Rich. Fans, who are dubbed the “Freak Parade,” can order the album now on Apple Music / iTunes, Amazon and Google Play, as well as pick up a CD at major retailers nationwide through a partnership with TWIX®.

In addition to the lead single “California,” the album is classic Big & Rich, featuring a combination of upbeat anthems like the “Congratulations (You’re A Rockstar)” and “No Sleep,” while also showing their softer side with the heartfelt tribute to their sons, “My Son” featuring The Isaacs. Thirty Tigers and The Orchard are handling marketing and distribution for the album. Tour dates and more at bigandrich.com

Craig Wayne Boyd’s TOP SHELF

Craig Wayne Boyd, Top Shelf

Fans who pre-order Craig Wayne Boyd‘s new album, TOP SHELF, will receive an instant download of Boyd’s never-before-heard new single, “Stuck In My Head.” The album will be released everywhere Oct. 27 by Copperline Music Group and is available for pre-order at iTunes.

Those who pre-order can also receive Boyd’s “We Sweat” through instant download from September 29, and will receive the track “Better Together,” which Boyd co-penned, on October 13. TOP SHELF has been described as ‘a musical kaleidoscope – a whirl of celebration, heartbreak, the sweet pain of love, and the comfort of faith’s embrace.’

During his rise to fame after winning Season 7 of NBC’s “The Voice,” Boyd’s “My Baby’s Got a Smile on Her Face” debuted at No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart, becoming the second song (following Garth Brooks’ “More Than a Memory”) to achieve that level of chart success. More at craigwayneboyd.com.

EXILE’s ‘Fan Appreciation’ show set for Oct 17

EXILE

EXILE will stage a fan appreciation concert at the Wildhorse Saloon October 17. Soon-to-be announced special guests will help the band kick off the road to their 55th anniversary “No Limit Tour” in 2018.

Partnering with WSM-AM for the free show, Exile is set to perform at 6 p.m. CT with special guests starting at 4 p.m. CT. Concert details at WildhorseSaloon.com. 2018 will be the 55th anniversary for the band, which formed in Richmond, KY. Since beginning in 1963 the band has had No. 1 hits on both the pop and country charts, achieving ten No. 1 hits on the country chart. Today, the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame members continue to tour performing their greatest hits and fan-favorite on-the-road songs from over the years. More at Exile.biz and Facebook/Twitter.

A personal note: Growing up in Kentucky, in the late 70’s to the mid 80s, a day didn’t go by without hearing Exile on the radio. So to be able to celebrate their ’55 years in the business’ kick-off concert is like one item marked off my bucket list!

Read the complete column, and an archive of many previous columns, at iknowcountry.com and check out my music Q&A book, “I Know Country!”