Grace Askew Music

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I recall the first time I saw or heard Grace perform was on the TV show The Voice. Ever since then I’ve been captured by her unique style as an artist but also her style of music.

Grace is an artist who is a stand out who will never be accused of not telling the truth and the artist’s latest collection of songs, from her soon to be released CD titled "Scaredy Cat". A total of 11 tracks all of which represent Grace’s style of a marriage of Memphis blues and Americana. And rightly so, as Grace hails from Memphis.

After listening to all 11 songs you can tell that Grace brought some method acting principles to the recording process, only taking her group of seasoned musicians and allowing them to create as the tape ran. The result is something that feels lively, reserved and at times unsteady, but in a very good way, reflecting the notes the lyrics speak to. Carrying it all forth are Graces raspy vocals, a twinge of Memphis twang rounding out the ends of lines that shine a light into her soul.

Track #11 ”Scaredy Cat” is in my opinion nursery rhyme lyrics yet Grace once again makes the song work which I found myself listening too several times over. Track #7 “Sycamore Tree” also captured my attention as did Track #9 “Cinnamon”. With some of the names of the songs its made me curious how and what Grace was thinking when naming and writing them, yet I won’t question her as like a magician she’s made the lyrics and music blend quite nicely together.

Track #6 “Tip-Top Liquor and #3 “Calvary” I really enjoyed. In many of my reviews I like to write and share what each song is about but with this one I found that each song needed no explanation as this is a record that you just need to listen too without analyzing it which I tried to do and feel like I succeeded.

Because I did not mention some of the other songs on the record does not mean they are not worthy as they are without question. All in all this is an record that is outside of country music yet is a MUST have as you’re sure to enjoy it as much as I did.

I sincerely thank Grace for giving me the opportunity to review the album prior to its release and allowing me to share my view with the music fans.

I would be very honored to have the privilege to meet Grace one day. A powerful and confident woman/artist who knows who she is and where she’s going. I so appreciate the honesty and freshness in this record. Well done Grace!  

In closing, the entire album resonates with authenticity through and through alongside powerful musicianship, this record marks another commendable milestone in the artist’s musical journey.

Be on the lookout for its release as you’ll want to get several copies as the holidays will soon be approaching.

Be sure to follow Grace on Twitter @GraceAskew and also like her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Grace-Askew/95961207400 and of course learn and hear more about Grace at http://www.graceaskew.com/ 

I proudly give this record FIVE STARS*****

 

Justin Fabus Band Music

I first became aware of Justin and his band a tad over a year ago when he reached out to me. I respect and admire Justin as his focus and determination to share his music with the world is simply put “passionate”.
 
Justin knows how to take constructive criticism as he’s fully aware it will only make him better at his craft. And better he’s getting and it shows in his NEW single titled “Kiss of A Gypsy”. Nice lyrics with modern melodies and production techniques. This single is a perfect example of determination with an infectious chorus only bettered by the lyrics of the verses. There will be some who see “Kiss of A Gypsy” as nothing but just another song but to me, it feels much different as I heard progress in his vocals.  
 
It remains to be seen if the mainstream country music fans will fall in love with "Kiss of A Gypsy". It’s certainly not for the lack of trying. That, for me, is what makes Justin stand out.
 
I look to see Justin grow and expand as an artist and song writer over the next few years. I hope that he allows me to take the trip with him.
 
Justin and his band have several other songs that are well worth the listening time like "Leavin Kind" and "Save Me" all available on I-tunes at  https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/kiss-of-a-gypsy-single/id885909949 
 
Be sure to follow Justin via Twitter @Justinfabusband and also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/justinfabusband 
 
FOUR STARS****

Jacob Bryant Music

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Artist Jacob Bryant was born to make music and country music that is. Hailing from the state of Georgia his NEW EP “Jacob Bryant” contains 5 SUPERB songs that beg to be heard. This EP is one that I was quite excited about and it does not disappoint you as the songs are all very well written and performed.

After purchasing the EP I couldn’t wait to listen and listen I did. When I got through all 5 songs I found myself listening to them all over again. This EP is a MUST have in my book and worth more than just the $4.99 available via I-Tunes and Google Play. I don’t know one country music fan in America that won’t LOVE and APPRECIATE this EP. It over delivers!

The #1 song on the EP titled "I’ve Been Gone" I can see getting some country radio play as it’s that good. I now see why Jacob led with this little gem of a song. Well done Jacob!

Song #5 “Throw Down” was one of my favorites for sure yet I found it very challenging not to like any of the songs. Song #3 “Good Man Goes to Hell” is about a man cheating on his girl and her leaving him and him trying to come to grips to what he’s done and what he’s lost. #2 “This Side of Sober” really caught me emotionally by the lyrics and touched a side of me that I couldn’t seem to put into words. Song #4 “All The Way” about a man and his girl and the positive impact she has on his life and the love and passion he has for her.

I can only imagine what’s next on Jacob’s horizon. If it’s anything like this album count me in as I’ll be first in line. 

I proudly give this EP FIVE STARS*****

Be sure to follow Jacob on Twitter @jacobbryant1 and also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JacobBryantFans 

Get Jacobs music at http://jacobbryantmusic.com/music/ 

ARTISTS: Who’s Listening?

Radio may still reach more than 90% of Americans, but younger generation listeners aren’t tuning in as much as their elders. 

According to a new report from Nielsen Audio, the millennials so desired by advertisers (specifically, people in the 18-34 age group) listen to an average of 11.5 hours of radio a week. That’s less than people in Generation X (those aged 35-49) and baby boomer (50-64) categories, who average 14 hours and 14.5 hours a week, respectively.

While nine out of 10 millennials still listen to at least five minutes of traditional radio a week, young adults are splitting their time with other audio options such as streaming services (including Spotify, Rdio and now Beats Music) and their personal music collections.

Also, young people are less likely to work full-time than some other demos. Employment tends to be linked to radio listening.

However, the generational trend generally holds for employed Americans, who are more coveted by commercial brands. Among those with full-time jobs, millennials listen to 13 weekly hours, while employed Gen-Xers notch 14.5 hours and working Boomers register 15.7 hours.

For millennials and Gen X-ers, country music radio was the most popular format. The boomers had the highest radio engagement of any demo, but leaned toward news and talk as their genre of choice.

Country was the most popular format in general, with a 14.8% share of all radio listening. News and talk came in second with 11.3%, followed by pop contemporary hits with 8%. 

Millennials are upending not only media, but the world.

Your mission, should you accept it, is to spend more time learning about them than becoming enamored of the technology and social media that changes constantly.

Facebook is about 10 years old and it is falling out of favor with Millennials.

Yet radio and the music industries still embrace it.

They should be embracing Instagram – until, that too, falls out of favor, which will be even quicker.

What’s your plan to expand your fan base and listening audience? Today it’s about the artist being a BRAND and not so much about the music. Some notable BRANDS in country music are George Strait Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, etc.

Alyssa McQuaid Music

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Alyssa wears her defiance on her sleeve. She leaves no doubt what she has in mind on her new CD from the title ”This Is Your Song” Alyssa is paying her dues just like any other performer that’s making her way to the next level in country music.

The fact is though, as the CD emphasizes and underlines, that Alyssa’s vocal talents are well synched with her writing talents. Over top of nicely crafted arrangements her voice conveys clarity, vibrancy and presence, which is pretty convenient, as Alyssa is among the all-star cast helping out, and the combination of them on “The Water Is Wide” and “New Mistakes” makes for two of the better tracks.

Alyssa most recently finished recording her EP “This is Your Song” in Nashville, with Juno award winning producer/engineer Josh Gwilliam. Alyssa will also be featured on the Atlantic Rising Stars compilation later on this year.

Alyssa has performed at various venues and festivals throughout Canada and was recently a highlighted entertainer in the Alberta Music Association’s “Untapped Talent in Alberta” tour 2010, a Songwriting finalist in The Nashville Connection in Greenville South Carolina 2011, Winner of the eWomen Network National Sing off in Dallas Texas, 2011 and highlighted performer at the Canadian Country Weekend beer gardens stage 2011 as well as the main stage in 2012, opening for Aaron Pritchet and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

The closer, features Alyssa singing “How Great Thou Art” featuring Kristina Wrenn. This song takes me back of when I lost my mom a few years back as this was one of her favorite songs which we honorably played during her memorial service. This one definitely got to me. Alyssa’s talents are no secret to the country music crowd, or for that matter those who know her and her music in Canada.

I’d like to see more country music fans getting to know her and her music which I hope in some way contribute to spreading the word about her.

All in all the album over delivers especially with her title single “This Is Your Song” and is quite enjoyable! I’d like to hear Alyssa do some country/rock tunes to see if she can deliver her range even further.

She’s definitely one rising star in country music and many should take note as she’s got the talent to go far so keep your eyes and ears open for what’s next with her.

I graciously give this album FIVE STARS***** and look forward to hearing what she’s got coming up on the horizon. Be sure to follow her on Twitter @alyssamcquaid also visit her website at http://alyssamcquaid.com/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AlyssaMcQuaidSings 

Sweep Up more Fans With These Promotional Tactics

Every artist would love to build a fan base and increase engagement. Creating engagement-oriented content increases the likelihood that your music will gain traction and spread, so why not let the fans do the talking for you?

Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. We live in a social-media-saturated world where over half of active adult social networkers follow a brand or certain artists. Your audience might be spreading the word for you, but it can take years of practice and research to get them consistently hitting the “share” button for you.

Using well-executed sweepstakes promotions, drawings, and contests to reach fans can increase the likelihood that members of your audience will share with their friends—AKA, your future audience.

These three tips will help you sweep up more fans in no time.

1. Create ways to engage that seamlessly integrate with your fans’ social habits

If the fans feel interrupted in their day-to-day lives or they think that their privacy is being invaded, they’ll tune you out, without thinking twice. Every aspect of the contest needs to fit flawlessly into your audiences’ conversations. Find out where your fans are spending the majority of their time. Is it Pinterest? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Vine? Once you unearth that channel, you can work on intersecting with their lives.

2. Don’t underestimate the power of incentives

Studies show that when people are provided incentive, 20% more will share vs. those without incentive. When your relationship is mutually beneficial, your audience is more likely to come back for more.

We all know that fans love freebies. If you don’t have money in the budget for daily or monthly giveaways, try something else: additional entries. Prodding fans to share the promotion on their favorite social media sites or follow you on social sites in return for more chances to enter a sweepstakes competition is a win for both you and the player. Fans get the opportunity to earn more entries, while you reach more people with your music.

Try these tactics on for size. Giving fans a chance to win more entries:

  • Get +1 entry for following you on Instagram.
  • Earn 25 more entries when you tweet this to your followers.
  • Receive 10 additional entries for sharing this promotion on Facebook.
  • For each friend you forward this email to, you will receive one additional entry.

3. Partner Up!

Analyze your target audience. Pinpoint their other interests and activities and partner with a brand or company that aligns with your core audience.

For example: The travel industry is known for partnering up. Hotels, flights, and car rentals just naturally go together. American Airlines, for instance, capitalized on the vacation season, teaming up with the Grand Wailea Waldorf Astoria Resort to offer AAdvantage Members a little extra reward: a week’s stay at the fabulous Hawaiian resort for two, plus airfare and an extra activity. The catch? You must be an AAdvantage Member—whether you are currently a member or you sign up for the first time to enter the sweepstakes. The move not only captures American Airlines and the Waldorf Astoria’s current customers but also attracts new members.

Sweepstakes are a fun and exciting way to engage current fans while also capturing new ones. Find where your audience socializes, what their likes, and preferences are, and give them incentives to share and partner with a strong outside player. Although there are countless other ways to boost engagement, these tips will start you off strong.

Best of luck…………..

 

Gwen Sebastian

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I had the opportunity to see country artist Gwen Sebastian and her band perform in Dallas at The Glass Cactus on 2/8/2014 (Gaylord Property). The Glass Cactus is noted for headlining country super stars as well as rising stars. In this case based on her performance I would clearly say Gwen has surpassed “rising star” and has made the list of “super star”. She has certainly made her dreams come true from her growing up years in Hebron, ND.

Gwen’s performance was stellar! The crowd was engaged on the dance floor, those who were not dancing held their sights on the stage in awe. It was one of the best performances I’ve seen in some time. The energy in the venue was intoxicating!

Gwen along with her band performed numerous cover songs from The Doobie Brothers to Fleetwood Mac which I and the audience was not expecting. It certainly provided us to hear Gwen’s vocal range and range she has. Surprising that she did not make the final cut on the 2nd season of “THE VOICE” but she did capture Blake Shelton’s ear and she now tours with him doing back up vocals. A lucky man he is to have such a “VOICE” behind him.

Gwen performed some of her other songs along with her recent single “Suitcase” which I found to be one of my favorites as did the women in the audience. More mainstream country which always grabs my ears and attention.

When Gwen got off the stage and went down on the dance floor and began dancing with some random guy it caught me as well fans a bit off guard as you don’t usually see a female artist do this type of thing yet this is why we love Gwen as she’s always reaching out and taking chances which I fully respect. Now that’s a performer engaging the fans. Some artist could learn from her as its more about being on a stage than just performing and singing. Fans want a show and a show they got!

There are many things to appreciate about Gwen and one that I see is that she welcomes the fans with open arms and sincerely thanks them for their support. She said thank you several times during her performance. When she says thank you, know how sincere and grateful she really is. Trust me folks, Gwen’s very appreciative for her fans and shows it and often. Very endearing!

Gwen and her band definitely know how to work an audience and that they did Saturday night. They played three sets, again a nice surprise as most were only expecting two. The fans definitely got their money’s worth!!!

If you get an opportunity to see Gwen and her band perform I strongly suggest you do so. If you can’t see her live simply download her music at http://www.gwensebastian.com/music as every song she signs is well worth the spend.

Be sure to follow Gwen on Twitter @GwenSebastian and like her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/gwensebastianmusic 

In closing, Gwen is doing what God created her to do and that is to write music and perform. Not only am I grateful to know her and her music, I’m ever so grateful for her valued friendship!

FIVE STARS*****

Gary Quinn Music

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In country music you rarely hear of a singer/song writers/performers from Ireland and or for that matter from Europe as a whole. Today I’ll share with you one talented performer who’s overcome “boundries” and making himself known as a true standout in country music.

To say that I had trepidation about this album heading into it is probably understated. I should have known better and just trusted the Gary Quinn name and the weight that it carries, and had a little more faith when he announced that he was putting out a new debut album.

Gary has performed and shared the stage with many super talents such as Kristian Bush from Sugarland, Clint Black, Bill Anderson and Bob Di Peiro. In 2013 Gary was Nationally recgonized for his single “He Don’t Show Her Anymore” which was awarded ‘Song of the Year’ by the British Country Music Awards for 2013.

I must admit that I’m grateful that Gary took the time to seek me out. When he did he was generous enough to share with me his debut album simply titled “Gary Quinn”. The album has 10 tracks on it. After listening I was taken by surprise just how good they all are.

Four songs on the album really grabbed my attention “The Power Of You And Me”, On Your Way Out”, Dodge Your Bullet” and “He Don’t Show Her Anymore” which I see all of them resonating with the country music fans of today. Each song is artfully written and performed and to be honest I could see “He Don’t Show Her Anymore” being played on country radio. Out of the four this one definitely kept me engaged. I definitely see country music fans loving this album just as much as I did.

Lots of country acts out there today proclaim just how “country” they are, claims that are often dubious. In the case of Quinn, an unexpected touch Gary he underpins his vocals chops with the instrumentation to back it up. Quinn goes against the grain and is far better off for it.

All, in all you can’t go wrong with album as it has a good cross between country and a slight touch of what I call "Memphis Bluesy" feel that blends quite nicely together.

To learn and hear more about Gary, his band, and music go to http://www.garyjpquinn.co.uk/live and be sure to follow Gary on Twitter @GaryQuinnMusic and also be sure to like his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GaryQuinnMusic 

FIVE STARS*****

Shantell Ogden “Better At Goodbye”

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I was blessed when Shantell reached out to me. The more I got to listen to her music and read her bio and lyrics I became ever so intrigued to learn more.

But first, Shantell has a new album coming out on 12/17/2013 titled “Better At Goodbye” that in my opinion is a MUST have! Yet I’ll further comment on the new album a bit later as I want to share with you more about the artist.

Shantell Ogden’s songs have been recorded by multiple artists, receiving airplay on more than 145 commercial country radio stations nationwide. “Great American Song” reached the Top 50 Music Row Breakout Chart in 2012, and another of her tunes broke onto the Top 100 Music Row Charts in 2011. Four of her songs were featured on the CW’s popular TV series Hart of Dixie and another was included in the 2013 feature film Storm Rider.

As you can see this is one talented artist that is swiftly making a name for herself in country music.

Now back to her soon to be released album. There are 8 songs on the album of which “The Lie I Tell Myself” and “Better At Goodbye” are two of my favorites.

Shantell has been at her best on ballads and she immediately shows this off on the lead single and title track “Better At Goodbye” It’s such a wonderful song. I’ll be surprised if no one elects to cut the song next year or two. I see Faith Hill or Sara Evans signing up for this one.

Shantell sings quite well by showcasing a vocal many of the “young guns” could learn from while “Love Shouldn’t Hurt” is one song about how ”Love Shouldn’t Hurt” and in its true honest fashion conquers all, no matter how angry and mad we can feel at times, when we’re killed with love and kindness, all the anger and negativity simply moves away. It’s a strong message song and Shantell delivers again here.

All in all the album is well worth your listening time and spend. You can learn more about Shantell and the new album http://www.shantellogden.com/home and while your at it be sure to like her page on https://www.facebook.com/shansmusic and of course on http://instagram.com/ You may also sign up for her e-mail list for the latest and greatest news about her http://shantellogden.us7.list-manage2.com/subscribe?u=e172039e9d46bbe21815b9145&id=4172b555a1 and be sure to follow her on Twitter @shansmusic

FIVE STARS*****


 

Aron Michaels “This World’s On Fire”

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Artist Aron Michaels is a singer/song writer that makes New York his home yet his music is puristic country with a dash of rock making for his debut album "This World’s On Fire" a MUST have. 

Produced by Jeff Denny the album consist of 10 total songs of which two of my favorite are “From A Faded Old Cadilliac” and “There’s A Cold Wind Blowin In”. The album is rich and quite enjoyable. You can sample all of the songs and review the lyrics for each at  http://www.aronmichaels.com/fr_home.cfm I think most who listen will find that the entire album likeable and well worth the spend via I-Tunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/aron-michaels/id390591458 

The future looks promising for Aron as he’s making himself known with his song writing capabilities. There’s a lot of singer/song writers in Nashville. Professionaly I think Aron needs to stay where he his and get his songs in the hands of some A-Listed artists and publishing companies. A talent that Aron has mastered that doesn’t need to go unnoticed. Nashville take notice!

You can follow Aron on Twitter @Aron_Michaels and be sure to like his page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AronMichaels

In closing, Aron is a talented singer/song writer that you may just want to keep your eyes on as I see BIG things coming from him in the not so distant future.

FOUR STARS****