Each year, the Florida Strawberry Festival® hosts world-famous headline entertainment from all over the globe. We work hard to provide our guests with a fresh festival experience each and every year by securing award-winning performers fit for guests of all ages. Gate admission is NOT included with the purchase of a concert ticket. We look forward to seeing you at this year’s event and encourage you to purchase your tickets soon!
2023 Headline Entertainment Lineup
or call (813) 754-1996
Thursday, March 2, 2023 · 10:30 a.m.
& His Orchestra
JIMMY STURR AND HIS ORCHESTRA
At the time that rock was reaching its crescendo, and in the era when Country was dazzling the nation, a strange phenomenon was taking place. In essence, this phenomenon was the rising popularity of JIMMY STURR as the hottest musical attraction in the polka music field.
The reigning king of the field is a good looking, smiling charmer with brown hair, blues eyes and charismatic rays emanating from his presence. Sturr is the fellow in front of the orchestra.
And what an Orchestra it is! JIMMY STURR AND HIS ORCHESTA has over 106 recordings; the excellence of these recordings has been recognized and rewarded throughout the very competitive music industry. The fact that JIMMY STURR AND HIS ORCHESTRA is on the Top Ten list of the All-time Grammy Awards, has won eighteen Grammy Awards and has received more consecutive Grammy nominations that anyone in the history of musical awards has made the music industry sit up and take notice. Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) has awarded JIMMY STURR & HIS ORCHESTRA its most valued award, the Commendation of Excellence. The only one ever awarded in the polka music field.The band constantly attracts crowds of screaming, adoring fans wherever their travels take them. Their tremendous popularity has resulted in not only numerous Grammy Awards, but also being voted The #1 POLKA MUSIC BAND IN THE COUNTRY for the past ten years.Many great things have happened to JIMMY STURR AND HIS ORCHESTRA, but none has been more exciting than just completing their Fourth recording with country superstar WILLIE NELSON. In addition they have recorded with other artists such as THE OAK RIDGE BOYS, CHARLIE DANIELS, BOOTS RANDOLPH, MEL TILLIS, BRENDA LEE, plus banjo virtuoso, BELA FLECK, and folk legend ARLO GUTHRIE.One of the major events in Jimmy’s career came when the Orchestra was asked to appear on The Grand Ole Opry. They were not only the only Polka Music Band to all appear, but the only band to appear with brass.A question on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? television show hosted by Regis Philbin, was Who is Americas polka Music king? The contestant won $250,000 by correctly answering Jimmy Sturr. Sturrs music has been heard on the TV show JEOPARDY and articles have appeared in print throughout the nation including a front page story on The Wall Street Journal and full length story in US World and News Report.The incredible popularity and success of JIMMY STURR AND HIS ORCHESTRA has caught the attention of many networks, including appearances on CNN, ABC, NBC, FOX NEWS and a fifteen-minute segment on CNN Headline News that aired worldwide.The band has made several appearances on Saturday Night Live. The quality and appearance of JIMMY STURR AND HIS ORCHESTRA makes them sought after for television commercials such as Budweiser, Pontiac, and Mrs. T’s Pierogies, who signed Jimmy to be their National spokesperson.Jimmy can now be seen on his national television show on the RFDTV network on Direct TV Channel 345, Dish Network Channel 231 on Friday’s at 7PM EST and on Family Net Sunday’s at 5:30PM EST. Jimmy Sturr syndicated radio show will now be heard on Sirius XM rural/radio Channel 80 on Saturday at 6PM EST.Due to the great demand for live appearances by The JIMMY STURR ORCHESTRA they have an extensive road schedule of 165 dates per year. They crisscross the country and make several international trips yearly. While on the road they travel in Jimmys forty-five foot customized tour bus. The Bands travels have taken them to some of the most prestigious venues in the world, including seven Sold Out concerts at Carnegie Hall and four Sold Out concerts at Lincoln Center in New York City and a sold out concert at The Palace of Culture in Warsaw, Poland where the band received seven standing ovations.The Band appears annually at many of the top casinos in the country including Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, CT; The Tropicana and Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ; Patowatomi Casino, Milwaukee, WI; Soaring Eagle, Mt. Pleasant, MI; The Presidents Casino in Biloxi, MS; Mountaineer Race Track and Gaming Resort, Chester, WV and Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas where Jimmy was the first polka music band to be booked by a major casino. The sellout crowds at these popular events keep coming back for more wherever they see the band scheduled.Today, JIMMY STURR lives in the house he grew up in, his office is across the street from the high school he attended in the upstate village of Florida, New York with a population of 1,800. His hometown recently honored Jimmy by placing a Star of Fame in the walkway on Main Street. They also display HOMETOWN OF POLKA KING JIMMY STURR signs at each entrance to the village. Five gold albums, each representing five million dollars in sales, are displayed on his office walls where he runs his various businesses which include United Polka Artists, Starr Record Company, Jimmy Sturr Travel Agency, a publishing company and his syndicated radio show.A full scholarship gave Jimmy the opportunity to attend and graduate from Valley Forge Military Academy. Among his many accolades, and something Jimmy is very proud of, is his selection by The Valley Forge Military Academy as Man of the Year, he was honored with a full-dress parade in front of the Corp of Cadets at VFMA.No one has done more for the polka field than this young Irishman from the little village of Florida, NY. Seeing is believing. When you see JIMMY STURR AND HIS ORCHESTRA in person, you know why they draw the huge crowds, have been voted #1 in the country and considered THE BEST IN POLKA MUSIC
FREE w/ paid gate admission
or call (813) 754-1996
Thursday, March 2, 2023 · 3:30 p.m.
The Oak Ridge Boys
Front Porch Singin' Tour
THE OAK RIDGE BOYS FRONT PORCH SINGIN’ TOUR
Theirs is one of the most distinctive and recognizable sounds in the music industry. The four-part harmonies and upbeat songs of The Oak Ridge Boys have spawned dozens of Country hits and a Number One Pop smash, earned them Grammy, Dove, CMA, and ACM awards and garnered a host of other industry and fan accolades. Every time they step before an audience, the Oaks bring four decades of charted singles, and 50 years of tradition, to a stage show widely acknowledged as among the most exciting anywhere. And each remains as enthusiastic about the process as they have ever been.
“When I go on stage, I get the same feeling I had the first time I sang with The Oak Ridge Boys,” says lead singer Duane Allen. “This is the only job I’ve ever wanted to have.”
“Like everyone else in the group,” adds bass singer extraordinaire, Richard Sterban, “I was a fan of the Oaks before I became a member. I’m still a fan of the group today. Being in The Oak Ridge Boys is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.”
The two, along with tenor Joe Bonsall and baritone William Lee Golden, comprise one of Country’s truly legendary acts. Their string of hits includes the Country-Pop chart-topper Elvira, as well as Bobbie Sue, Dream On, Thank God For Kids, American Made, I Guess It Never Hurts To Hurt Sometimes, Fancy Free, Gonna Take A Lot Of River and many others. In 2009, they covered a White Stripes song, receiving accolades from Rock reviewers. In 2011, they rerecorded a thirtieth anniversary version of Elvira for a Cracker Barrel Old Country Store project.
The group has scored 12 gold, three platinum, and one double platinum album—plus one double platinum single—and had more than a dozen national Number One singles and over 30 Top Ten hits.
Gospel Music Roots
The Oaks represent a tradition that extends back to World War II. The original group, based in Knoxville, Tennessee, began performing Country and Gospel music in nearby Oak Ridge where the atomic bomb was being developed. They called themselves the Oak Ridge Quartet, and they began regular Grand Ole Opry appearances in the fall of ‘45. In the mid-fifties, they were featured in Time magazine as one of the top drawing Gospel groups in the nation.
By the late ‘60s, with more than 30 members having come and gone, they had a lineup that included Duane Allen, William Lee Golden, Noel Fox, and Willie Wynn. Among the Oaks’ many acquaintances in the Gospel field were Bonsall, a streetwise Philadelphia kid who embraced Gospel music; and Sterban, who was singing in quartets and holding down a job as a men’s clothing salesman. Both admired the distinctive, highly popular Oaks.
“They were the most innovative quartet in Gospel music,” says Bonsall. “They performed Gospel with a Rock approach, had a full band, wore bell-bottom pants and grew their hair long…things unheard of at the time.”
The four became friends, and when the Oaks needed a bass and tenor in ‘72 and ’73, respectively, Sterban and Bonsall got the calls. For a while, the group remained at the pinnacle of the Gospel music circuit. It was there they refined the strengths that would soon make them an across-the-board attraction.
“We did a lot of package shows,” says Bonsall. “There was an incredible amount of competition. You had to blow people away to sell records and get invited back.”
Their Gospel sound had a distinct Pop edge to it and, although it made for excitement and crowd appeal, it also ruffled purist feathers and left promoters unsure about the Oaks’ direction. Then in 1975, the Oaks were asked to open a number of dates for Roy Clark. Clark’s manager, Jim Halsey, was impressed by their abilities.
“He came backstage and told us we were three-and-a-half minutes (meaning one hit record) away from being a major act,” says Bonsall. “He said we had one of the most dynamic stage shows he’d ever seen but that we had to start singing Country songs.”
They took his advice and the result was a breakthrough.
“Those who came to Country music with or after the New Traditionalists of the mid-eighties cannot possibly imagine the impact the Oaks had in 1977, when they lit up the sky from horizon to horizon with Y’All Come Back Saloon,” wrote Billboard’s Ed Morris. He added, “…the vocal intensity the group brought to it instantly enriched and enlivened the perilously staid Country format. These guys were exciting.”
The Oaks branch out
Their career has spanned not only decades, but also formats. In 1977, Paul Simon tapped the Oaks to sing backup for his hit Slip Slidin’ Away, and they went on to record with George Jones, Brenda Lee, Johnny Cash, Roy Rogers, Billy Ray Cyrus, Bill Monroe, Ray Charles and even Shooter Jennings, the son of their old friends Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter. Most recently, the group recorded a duet with Merle Haggard for their 2015 Rock of Ages hymns and Gospel favorites album.
They produced one of the first Country music videos. In 1977, Easy, although not released in the U.S., reached the Number Three slot in Australia. They participated in the first American popular music headline tour in the USSR.
The Oak Ridge Boys have appeared before five presidents. And they have become one of the most enduringly successful touring groups anywhere, still performing some 150 dates each year at major theaters, fairs, and festivals across the U.S. and Canada.
They did it with a consistently upbeat musical approach and terrific business savvy.
“We always look for songs that have lasting value and that are uplifting,” says Allen, who co-produced many of the Oaks’ recent studio albums. “You don’t hear us singing ‘cheating’ or ‘drinking’ songs, but ‘loving’ songs, because we think that will last. We also don’t put music in categories, except for ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ When we get through with it, it’s probably going to sound like an Oak Ridge Boys song no matter what it is.”
They proved their business acumen in any number of ways, including such steps as declining the chance to sit on the couch during their many appearances on the Tonight Show.
“We said, ‘If you‘re going to give us four minutes on the couch with Johnny, we’d rather have four minutes to give you another song that lets people know what got us here,’” says Allen. “We didn’t get here talking; we got here singing.”
They also proved themselves to be capable and tireless advocates of charitable and civic causes, serving as spokesmen and/or board members of fundraisers for the Boy Scouts of America, the National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse (now, Prevent Child Abuse America), Feed The Children, the National Anthem Project and many more.
The group’s first personnel change in many years occurred in 1987 when Steve Sanders, who had been playing guitar in the Oaks Band, replaced William Lee as the baritone singer. Late in ‘95, Steve resigned from the Oaks and exactly one minute after midnight on New Year’s Eve, Duane, Joe and Richard surprised a packed house at the Holiday Star Theatre in Merrillville, Indiana, by welcoming William Lee on stage and back into the group. The hit makers were finally together again!
The Oaks’ high-energy stage show remains the heart and soul of what they do, and they refine it several times a year, striving to keep it fresh well into the future.
“We’re not willing to rest on our laurels,” Golden says. “That gets boring. As a group, we do things constantly to challenge ourselves, to try to do something different or better than the last time we did it.”
“The people who come out, who bring their families to see us, deserve everything I’ve got,” says Bonsall.
“We’ve experienced a lot of longevity,” adds Sterban. “I think the reason is the love we have for what we do—the desire, the longing to actually get up there and do it. We love to sing together…to harmonize together. It’s what our lives are all about.”
“Back” to the future
In 2009, the group recorded a CD, The Boys Are Back, with 34-year-old, Pop-Rock producer Dave Cobb. Cobb encouraged them to stretch musically.
“Seven Nation Army was Dave’s first idea out of the chute. He said he envisioned us singing where The White Stripes and Jack White do the instrumental parts. It turned out incredibly well,” Bonsall says. “The project is diverse and includes an old spiritual from the Smithsonian archives, God’s Gonna Ease Your Troublin’ Mind, as well as a new Jamey Johnson-penned, soon-to-be-classic called Mama’s Table.”
The Oaks’ new music attracted the attention of a younger audience, while reminding dedicated fans that their favorite group is ever evolving.
“When we throw those songs at the audience, it’s fun to watch their reaction. The cool thing is they’re loving it,” Bonsall says. “We don’t give it any introduction; we just go straight into each song. We did Seven Nation Army in Minnesota a few weeks ago and got a standing ovation. The younger kids in the audience were freaking out.”
Duane Allen, who is Executive Producer for the project, adds, “We went to California to get a Rock and Roll producer who brought us back home to the very roots of our music, which is Gospel mixed with Country, Blues, and Rock and Roll.”
Golden describes the new project as a “musical journey.”
Sterban agrees. “I think David took us down some roads we might not have traveled on our own. The music may be different, but he did not try to change us, he challenged us.”
Many have labeled the Oaks’ path as one similar to what Johnny Cash traveled with producer Rick Rubin. The Oak Ridge Boys find that analogy appropriate, almost sentimental, because Cash was one of their earliest supporters and a longtime friend.
“Back when we were struggling in the early 1970’s, Johnny Cash encouraged us. He booked us on his show in Las Vegas, and he paid us too much money. But his belief in us was the most important thing. He sat us down and told us, ‘Boys, you think it’s rough right now, but there’s magic in the four of you. I can feel that magic. I know there is magic there. Don’t break up.’”
And the rest is history.
It’s Only Natural
In 2011, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store asked The Oak Ridge Boys to record an album with a blend of previously recorded and brand-new songs. The result was It’s Only Natural, a twelve-track CD with seven rerecorded hits, including the group’s multi-platinum, Country-Pop hit Elvira, and five new songs.
Veteran Oaks’ producer Ron Chancey returned to the studio with the group to produce Elvira and two new songs, and the team of Duane Allen and Michael Sykes reunited to produce the remaining nine. The album debuted on September 19, a month after the Oaks were inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.
While the combination of Oak Ridge Boys and Cracker Barrel is “only natural,” the Oaks stretched—yet again—and invited YouTube sensation Keenan Cahill to join them on what would become a viral music video for their first single from the project. What’cha Gonna Do? was released to country radio in November 2011 and received widespread acceptance on national grass roots and Music Row charts.
In early 2014—forty-one years after Duane, Joe, Richard, and William Lee first stepped onstage together as a group—they celebrated 41 million, RIAA-certified records sold by signing a new record deal with Los Angeles-based Cleopatra Records. Their first release from Cleopatra, Boys Night Out, is a 14-song live project, which was released April 15, 2014. It’s the first live country hits recording ever to be released by The Oak Ridge Boys as they continue to make history.
That history will now forever be enshrined in the hallowed halls of the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee, where The Oak Ridge Boys—Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, William Lee Golden, and Richard Sterban—were inducted on October 25, 2015.
or call (813) 754-1996
Thursday, March 2, 2023 · 7:30 p.m.
Walker Hayes’ new song “Face in the Crowd,” available everywhere now, is a story song detailing the true love between Hayes and his number one fan – wife Laney Hayes. True to Hayes’ signature songwriting style, which Billboard praised as “personal, soul-bearing storylines; rolling rhymes; and Macklemore-like cadence,” he sings:
“When my 15 minutes ends / and the world loves me a little less / I hope you know that you’re the only one / I was trying to impress / if I sold out Bryant-Denny / made my sweet home so proud / all I ever cared about, all I ever cared about was your face in the crowd”
Originally from Mobile, Alabama, Hayes’ humble southern roots and family values are put on full display in “Face in the Crowd.” With this new track he continues to share stories that reflect his personal life and experiences that millions of listeners can relate to and a way of writing that led the Washington Post to write “Hayes has broken into the mainstream by sounding different.”
Written by Hayes, with Emily Falvey and Tofer Brown, and produced by Hayes with “Fancy Like” collaborator Joe Thibodeau, and Multi-Grammy Award Winner Shane McAnally, “Face in the Crowd,” shares Hayes’ experience becoming a household name over night, after grinding for over 20 years in the music industry. Even after all that his smash hit “Fancy Like” brought him, the one thing that truly matters is the consistent support from his family.
Last year “Fancy Like” topped every country music sales and streaming chart, spent more than 6 months at the No.1 spot on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart, hit the top 5 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Songs, hit number one at country radio, was featured in a nationwide Applebee’s commercial and gave Hayes his first GRAMMY Award nomination as an artist for Best Country Song…all with a song about the simple joys of a date night at Applebee’s with his high school sweetheart, now wife, of 17 years.
After many, many years in Nashville chasing his dream, Hayes got his breakthrough singing about what he knows best – family, faith, and real life. Most unexpected of all, is that the 43-year-old father has become a country music TikTok star. Propelled by a TikTok dance Hayes made to “Fancy Like” with his teenage daughter, which has over 35 million views, his TikTok’s have been viewed hundreds of millions of times and has connected with audiences across genres.
Since “Fancy Like” was released, Hayes’ album Country Stuff The Album has become one of the top country albums in sales and streams in the genre, and is currently the only RIAA certified album in country music released last year. The album also spawned the follow up single “AA,” which was just certified Platinum. Hayes’ success continues to transcend genres, with the release of a new version of current single “Y’all Life” featuring R&B/pop superstar Ciara. Additional cross-genre collaborations include the track “High Heels” featuring international rap/hip hop star Flo Rida and “Jesus’ Fault” featuring Christian rock artist Zach Williams.
Hayes has performed his music, including the Double-Platinum RIAA certified hit “You Broke Up With Me” from his debut album boom. to national audiences on Good Morning America, CBS Sunday Morning, Late Night with Seth Meyers, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and The TODAY Show.
This fall, Hayes set out on his headlining arena tour, The Glad You’re Here Tour, which is the same name as the book he wrote with his best friend, Craig Allen Cooper, detailing his journey to finding Christ. The nearly sold-out tour saw Hayes playing to more than 5,000 people a night, and he’s not slowing down any time soon. With new music and a new tour coming next year, Hayes is poised for his biggest year yet.
or call (813) 754-1996
Friday, March 3, 2023 · 3:30 p.m.
Willie Nelson & Family
With a seven-decade career, Willie Nelson has earned every conceivable award as a musician and amassed reputable credentials as an author, actor, and activist. He continues to thrive as a relevant and progressive musical and cultural force. In recent years, he has delivered more than a dozen new albums, released a Top 10New York Times‘ bestsellers book, again headlined Farm Aid, an event he co-founded in 1985, been honored by the Library of Congress with their Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, received his 5th degree black belt in Gong Kwon Yu Sul, headlined the annual Luck Reunion food and music festival during SXSW, launched his cannabis companies Willie’s Reserve and Willie’s Remedy, and graced the covers of Rolling Stone and AARP The Magazine. In July 2020, Willie released his album First Rose of Spring – an atmospheric soulful showcase of beautifully-written songs and poignant performances. September 2020 brought a memoir with his sister and pianist Bobbie Nelson titled,Me and Sister Bobbie: True Tales of The Family Band. For 2021, he released a new studio album in February —That’s Life, Willie’s second album of standards and classics made famous by Frank Sinatra (his first, 2018’sMy Way, earned Willie the Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Solo Album). The two legends were friends, musical colleagues, and mutual admirers of each other’s work. In June 2021, a collection of his thoughts on America, family, faith and music hits shelves as a new book titled Willie Nelson’s Letters to America.These creative endeavors as well as new songs and performances that add to his classic catalog, find Willie Nelson rolling at an artistic peak, writing and singing and playing with the seasoned wit and wisdom that comes from the road.
or call (813) 754-1996
Friday, March 3, 2023 · 7:30 p.m.
We turn to rock ‘n’ roll for affirmation, empowerment, and survival. It ushers us through the most uncertain moments and enables us to shout down anything life throws at us with a wide smirk and a middle finger raised. Rather than shrink in the face of uncertainty and darkness, Halestorm consistently rise up rougher, stronger, and louder. On their fifth full-length album Back From The Dead [Atlantic Records], the Pennsylvania-bred and Nashville-based GRAMMY® Award-winning RIAA Platinum quartet—Lzzy Hale (vocals, guitar), Arejay Hale (drums), Joe Hottinger (guitar), and Josh Smith (bass)—turn up the volume across the board. The musicianship hits harder. The songwriting cuts deeper. The spirit shines brighter.
Ultimately, they’ve delivered an uncompromising and undeniable body of work that’s Halestorm through and through.
“When you listen to this record, I want you to know you’re not alone and you can survive anything no matter what,” Lzzy exclaims. “I personally needed the music to save me. It’s how I carved myself out of a dark spot. It has the debauchery. It has the self-rediscovery. It also keeps the faith intact. I hope fans see themselves in it.”
The title track not only set the tone for the creative process, but it also served as a mission statement and a call-to-arms. Throughout 2021, the band wrote and recorded in Nashville and Los Angeles, working with longtime collaborators Scott Stevens of The Exies and producer Nick Raskulinecz [Alice In Chains, Deftones]. Upon writing “Back From The Dead,” the floodgates opened. Rolling Stone described it best as “a biting but cathartic howler about overcoming all obstacles – even death,” and the song became the band’s sixth #1 at rock radio. Yet it held an even more profound significance for the musicians.
“As soon as I wrote ‘Back From The Dead,’ I knew exactly what I wanted to say if I ever got back on stage,” she admits. “On this record, we endeavored to be everything we musically are, but elevated to 11. That goes for the vocals. My little brother raises the bar once again on the drums. Joe’s guitar playing is unbelievable, and Josh killed it. We laid it all on the table. Once we did ‘Back From The Dead,’ we knew where we were going.”
On its heels, the single “The Steeple” swings from a hammering groove towards a cathedral-size chorus, affirming the transformative power of rock ‘n’ roll. In the wake of a guitar solo, Lzzy exorcises a rafter-reaching scream, practically shaking the sky.
“We made the song about the communion we have with one another,” she goes on. “When you’re surrounded by a crowd at a show, there’s a release. Think about the first concert you went to when music changed your life. As we get older, we still heal and grow through music. This is our church, and we’re in this together.”
Elsewhere, “Wicked Ways” kicks down the door with uncontainable attitude amplified by gnashing guitars and propulsive drums. “It’s one of the heaviest songs on the record,” she goes on. “I’m coming to terms with the fact nobody is inherently all good or evil. We all have a dark side.”
On “Strange Girl,” the frontwoman utilizes a vocoder for the first time on the bridge, while “Brightside” teeters between manic verses and a chantable refrain punctuated by a healthy dose of sarcasm.
“It’s different for us,” she reveals. “When you’re in a weird spot, you try to look for the silver lining, but life can really suck. So, I got a little sarcastic and spiteful with the lyrics.”
On the other end of the spectrum, naked acoustic guitar and strings underline her soulful delivery on the introspective and incisive “Terrible Things” as she wrestles with demons and ponders, “In my dreams, I believe we’re not these terrible things.” Everything culminates on the piano-driven finale “Raise Your Horns.” Practically holding back tears, her voice rings out, “Raise your horns, raise ‘em high, let ‘em soar, let ‘em fly, up through the heavens forever more.”
“Thematically, it’s about realizing you are your own hero,” she continues. “We’ve survived the external and internal anguish. We’re all here together, and that’s what matters. I love the juxtaposition of the title being traditionally ‘metal,’ but the song is only piano and vocals. I want to see everyone raise their horns.”
Halestorm have elicited an emotional, physical, and spiritual reaction from audiences worldwide since it began as a childhood dream of sister and brother Lzzy and Arejay Hale. The group scored a GRAMMY® Award in the category of “Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance” for “Love Bites (So Do I).” They became the first female-fronted band to hit #1 on the Active Rock radio charts, and cumulatively, their songs have racked up north of 1 billion global streams. In 2019, “Uncomfortable” marked their fourth #1 at Rock Radio and garnered their second GRAMMY® Award nomination. Crowned “Rock Artist of the Decade” by Loudwire, they’ve toured with legends such as Heaven & Hell, Alice Cooper, and Joan Jett, to name a few.
Simultaneously, Lzzy’s voice has resounded across popular culture. She has collaborated with Evanescence, Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, Apocalyptica, Mark Morton of Lamb of God, and The Hu. She cut the theme song to NETFLIX’s “Thunder Force” with none other than Corey Taylor of Slipknot, Scott Ian of Anthrax, and original Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo. Her various television credits include hosting AXS TV’s “A Year in Music,” serving as a judge on HitParader’s upcoming “No Cover,” and supplying the singing voice for Bella Thorne in the Prime Video hit “Paradise City.” She strives to foster a dialogue around mental health, and, as such participated in a GRAMMY® Mental Health panel last fall. A symbol of empowerment for young women in rock, she gave the keynote speech at the Little Kids Rock Modern Band Summit and recently became Gibson Guitars’ first-ever female brand ambassador and hosted the annual She Rocks Awards presented by the Women’s International Music Network.
In the end, Halestorm truly sound as alive as ever on Back From The Dead.
“I’m so grateful to be in this band,” she leaves off. “I still love the way music makes me feel. I love writing, performing, and walking on stage every day. Personally, Halestorm has allowed me to be the best version of myself. That’s what the band means to me.”
or call (813) 754-1996
Saturday, March 4, 2023 · 3:30 p.m.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and Sara Evans is about to put smiles on a lot of faces with the release of Copy That. The 13-song collection finds Evans putting her distinctive creative stamp on some of the most iconic songs in country and pop music as well as shining a spotlight on some little known gems.
Released on her own Born to Fly Records, Copy That is Evans’ first solo studio album since 2017’s critically acclaimed Words. On Copy That she shines a spotlight on songs that have served as the soundtrack for the American experience for the last six decades. Little Big Town’s Phillip Sweet joins Evans for a buoyant rendition of the Stevie Nicks and Kenny Loggins classic “Whenever I Call You Friend” and Old Crow Medicine Show adds their unique flavor to the Hank Williams standard “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” Her cover of Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ 1982 hit “Come On Eileen” is absolutely infectious and her pulsating rendition of The Knack’s “My Sharona” shows a rockin’ side of Evans rarely heard.
Over the last two decades, Evans has carved a successful career anchored by her insightful songwriting and warm, evocative voice. With such enduring hits as “Suds in the Bucket,” “A Real Fine Place to Start,” “Perfect” and “A Little Bit Stronger,” she’s earned recognition as the fifth most played female artist at country radio and continues to be a force on the road with tour dates criss-crossing the country. For her ninth studio album, the Missouri native serves up an eclectic bounty of songs that have shaped her life and storied career.
“I’ve always put cover songs on my records just because I think they are so fun. My fans have been asking for a covers record for years and now just seemed like the right time,” says Evans, who has always been a champion for great songwriting and has covered Gavin DeGraw, Radney Foster and others on previous records. “We first started out thinking we’d really change some of the songs, but then every time we started to record it we were like, ‘That part is so good, let’s just do that!’ We wanted to honor those songwriters and musicians and say, ‘What you did on this record was amazing. Now we’re just going to make it a little more modern.’”
Evans co-produced Copy That with Jarrad K — known for his work with Ruston Kelly, Weezer and the Goo Goo Dolls — at Chateau Noir in East Nashville. “I started listening to Ruston Kelly’s album and just became obsessed with it,” she says. “That’s what I do. I obsess over different artists and listen for months. Then my whole family gets addicted to it, so we became obsessed with Ruston Kelly and I said, ‘I have to find out who produced that. I want to work with him.’”
When Evans met Jarrad, they quickly discovered they were kindred spirits. “We just immediately bonded. He’s like my little brother now,” she says with a smile. “At our first meeting, we immediately fell in love musically. We were talking about the Ruston record and had such a connection. We had another dinner and then we were like, ‘Let’s do it! Let’s go for it!’ So we started just sending song ideas to each other.”
Evans admits it was difficult culling the thousands of songs they liked down to the 13 that made the album. “I knew I had to have a Patsy Cline song. I knew I had to have a John Mayer. I wanted a Wallflowers song because of how important Matt Chamberlain, the drummer, has been to my music,” she says of recording the Wallflowers’ “6th Avenue Heartache.” “Things are so different these days the way people make records, but Jarrad and I both agreed that we had to have everything real, everything super authentic, people in the studio together.”
That approach created magic that can be heard on every track. Evans recruited her son Avery to play guitar, which made the experience even sweeter. “The first day we did ‘She’s Got You’ and Carole King’s ‘It’s Too Late,’ and then we did Chicago’s ‘Hard To Say I’m Sorry.’ Avery ended up playing on the whole album.”
The project further became a family affair when Evans’ daughters Olivia and Audrey added their vocals to the album. “It was so fun. I can’t even describe it,” she says with a big smile and obvious maternal pride. “Some things are just magical and you know they are from God. I know God put me with Jarrad and having my girls with me in the studio all day every day was so special. They are truly my best friends.”
Evans admits some of the songs she chose might surprise fans, but that was part of the fun. “I was getting ready to go to my second song meeting with Jarrad and I heard ‘My Sharona’ in the car,” she says. “I was like, ‘Oh my God! We have to record that’ because it made me so happy. It’s badass! ‘My Sharona’ is worthy of being covered. It’s so iconic and I love surprising and shocking people who can’t believe that a female would cover that.”
As a big John Mayer fan, she knew she had to record one of his songs, but opted for something lesser known and more personal. “My family was against me covering John Mayer because we love him so much,” she admits. “They were like, ‘You can’t cover anything that was really popular. It has to be something obscure,’ so that’s why I chose ‘All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye.’ That was always mine and Jay’s song because I would travel so much.”
In early 2020, Evans and her family moved back to Nashville after spending the past 11 years near Birmingham, where her husband, retired quarterback Jay Barker, works as a radio personality. “It’s been the best decision,” she says of returning to Nashville. “I love the fact that I raised the kids in Alabama and it was a great thing to do. But it’s simply so much easier doing my career from here, and that’s another reason why making this album was so awesome is because I could just wake up and drive across town to the studio and not figure out how to bus up from Birmingham.”
These days, Evans is enjoying the creative process more than ever and it’s easy to hear her passion in listening to Copy That. “I’m just having fun. I love being on the road,” says Evans. “We’re working a ton. I’m having so much fun and am just deeply in love with music and performing.”
or call (813) 754-1996
Saturday, March 4, 2023 · 7:30 p.m.
CHRIS "LUDACRIS" BRIDGES
The career of the multitalented CHRIS “LUDACRIS” BRIDGES can best be described as remarkable. As a recording artist, he has sold more than 15 million albums domestically, thanks to the blockbuster success of such singles as “Stand Up,” “Get Back,” “Southern Hospitality,” “Number One Spot,” “Money Maker” and “My Chick Bad.” All these records were accompanied by ingenious videos that demonstrated Bridges’ far-reaching imagination, and his willingness to stretch the boundaries of what rap videos should look and feel like.
With an unrivaled match of lyrical acumen, wit, and imagery, Bridges has solidified himself as one of music’s premier entertainers. Although he’s best known for his infectious tunes, Ludacris has shown that he’s equally adept at writing powerful songs with serious subject matter, including runaways, with the song “Runaway Love.” Bridges’ versatility and artistic complexity also enabled him to make a seamless transition to acting.
In 2017, Bridges starred in the highly anticipated The Fate of the Furious, which broke records at the box office, becoming the highest grossing film opening worldwide. He reprised his role of Tej in Fast & Furious 9, which debuted this past June. In 2018, Bridges was featured on Carrie Underwood’s platinum song “The Champion” on which he was a songwriter. Bridges was also featured in movies “Ride” and “Show Dogs” in 2018.
His other feature film credits include Universal Pictures’ Fast 7, Fast & Furious 6, Fast Five, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Garry Marshall’s ensemble comedy New Year’s Eve; and Ivan Reitman’s romantic comedy, No Strings Attached, opposite Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman. His acclaimed performances in film, (Crash, Hustle & Flow), and television, ( Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), have Hollywood and critics alike buzzing about his increasingly impressive screen resume. Stepping back into the studio, he is working on new music with an album release sometime this year.
A consummate businessman, Ludacris is enjoying success outside of entertainment. His latest venture includes launching his educational platform devoted to the enrichment of children called “KidNation”. In addition, the opening of his long-anticipated restaurant “Chicken-n-Beer” located at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport.
Bridges’s philanthropic efforts rival his entertainment accomplishments. He started The Ludacris Foundation in 2001 which focuses on helping the youth in his hometown of Atlanta. In addition, he has recently partnered with No Kid Hungry and Feeding America.
or call (813) 754-1996
Sunday, March 5, 2023 · 3:30 p.m.
The Gatlin Brothers
Larry, Steve & Rudy: The Gatlin Brothers are Grammy® award-winners who have dazzled audiences for more than six decades. They have accrued a lifetime of noteworthy achievements in their storybook career, including a Grammy® for Best Country Song (“Broken Lady”), three ACM awards for Single of the Year (“All The Gold In California”), Album of the Year (Straight Ahead) and Male Vocalist of the Year, along with five nominations for CMA Vocal Group of the Year, Single, Album. The brothers have accumulated seven #1 singles, 33 Top 40 records; more than 20 studio albums and five BMI “Million-Air” Awards.
As a solo writer, Larry ranks 4th on Billboard’s Top 40 self-penned hits and was recently inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. His impressive song catalog has been recorded by a “Who’s Who” of entertainers, including Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Glen Campbell, Kris Kristofferson, Sir Tom Jones, Dottie West, Charlie Rich, Johnny Mathis, the Oak Ridge Boys and many others – securing his legacy as one of BMI’s top solo songwriters. In addition, Larry wrote and produced the musical, “Quanah,” which was performed in April 2017 to rave reviews.
During 2020, The Gatlin Brothers celebrated their 65th anniversary in the music industry. They have entertained audiences in venues and stages all over the world from the Grand Ole Opry to Carnegie Hall. They have also performed for the Grammy Awards, American Music Awards, People’s Choice Awards, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Oprah, Hee Haw, The Love Boat, The Midnight Special with Wolfman Jack, The Merv Griffin Show, Solid Gold, Barbara Mandrell Show and their own variety special on the ABC network.
While building their career, The Gatlin Brothers were on the fast track musically in 1976, thanks to the chart-topping success of their single “Broken Lady”. The hits continued throughout the decade with their signature song “All the Gold in California” followed by “Houston (Means I’m One Day Closer to You).” The next decade brought number one hits with “I Don’t Wanna Cry,” “I Just Wish You Were Someone I Love,” “Statues Without Hearts,” “Love Is Just A Game” and “Night Time Magic.”
They have performed at the White House, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Air Force One, Ford’s Theater, Camp David, President Bush’s 80th Birthday Party, The Lincoln Theater, Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, West Point, on the Mall in Washington D.C., The Greek Theater, Billy Bob’s Texas, Radio City Music Hall, Disney World and The Wembley Music Festival, to name a few. They have been privileged to grace the stage with legendary entertainers, like Bob Hope, George Burns, Kenny Rogers, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Vince Gill, The Mandrells, The Oak Ridge Boys, the Gaither Vocal Band, The Isaacs and many others.
The brothers have also proudly entertained our U.S. troops in Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Germany and at many military bases in the United States as well. They have appeared at many sporting events and venues singing the national anthem, including the 1985 and ’89 World Series, and the U.S. Open tennis tournament. They have performed in Yankee Stadium, the Astrodome, Nissan Titans Stadium, Candlestick Park, Chicago White Sox ballpark, NHL All Star Hockey Game, Darlington NASCAR Speedway, the Cotton Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Rose Bowl, Giants Stadium, the Superdome, AT&T (Dallas Cowboys) Stadium, Reliant Stadium (Houston Texans) and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.
Their career began in Abilene, Texas in 1955 when Larry was six, Steve was four and Rudy was two. The brothers grew up singing gospel music while listening to James Blackwood and the Blackwood Brothers, Hovie Lister and The Statesmen Quartet as well other accomplished gospel artists. As children, the brothers would sing for anyone who would listen. Soon they were singing from coast to coast and appeared at the World’s Fair in 1964 in New York City. They recorded four gospel records early in their career. In 1966, Larry went to college at the University of Houston where he studied English and law. In 1971, he auditioned for The Imperials, Elvis’ backup group. While he did not get the job, he met Dottie West, who was the opening act for Jimmy Dean. Dean would later become one of Larry’s oldest and dearest friends. Dottie was initially taken with Larry’s resemblance to Nashville songwriter Mickey Newbury. She told him one night in Las Vegas that he looked so much like Mickey, he had to be able to write great songs, too. Encouraged, Larry returned to Houston and wrote eight songs. He sent them to Dottie and she liked them so much she sent him a plane ticket to Nashville.
Through Dottie’s friendship, Larry met Kris Kristofferson, who championed his talents as a writer and singer. Kristofferson’s introduction to Fred Foster at Monument Records resulted in a recording contract with the label. Larry’s first album, The Pilgrim, was released later that year. Johnny Cash wrote the liner notes for the album and dubbed him “The Pilgrim” – a name Cash called him the rest of his life. At this time, Steve and Rudy were still in college at Texas Tech University, but in 1975 they moved to Nashville. The two joined Larry the following year to form the group as we know it today.
or call (813) 754-1996
Sunday, March 5, 2023 · 7:30 p.m.
Chris Young has become a pillar in the country genre with his distinctive baritone and memorable storytelling. Since signing his record deal with RCA Nashville at the age of 20, the multi-platinum artist, one of Billboard’s top country artists of the decade, has amassed over five billion career
streams and 13 No. 1 hits, eleven as a songwriter. Now, Young has entered an exciting new
chapter with an expanded version of his eighth studio album – Famous Friends (Deluxe Edition).
A traditionalist who continues to push the genre forward with modern production, adept
songwriting and captivating collaborations, Young reflects on his hometown crew on the chart topping title track lead single with an assist from real-life friend and labelmate Kane Brown. The
anthemic ode to his hometown has Young shining a light on his own friends with soaring guitar
features and a pounding beat that will excel in the live setting. Written with frequent collaborators Cary Barlowe and Corey Crowder while at a headline tour stop several years ago, the double-platinum “Famous Friends” has Young name-dropping real friends in his life. The three songwriters had already penned “Raised On Country” that weekend and after catching Young’s live show, Barlowe and Crowder wanted to capture the crowd’s energy and the singer’s electricity onstage. Young embraced the idea and says the song gives him the ability to share how he grew up. He later sent the song to Brown who loved what he heard, and Young suggested a collaboration on “Famous Friends.” “He and I are good buddies and being able to have that history together, it comes off as totally real – because it is,” Young says of Brown adding his vocals to the track.
Capping 2021 as Billboard’s Country Airplay Song of the year, “Famous Friends” took home
Collaborative Video of the Year at the 2021 CMT Music Awards and earned 3 Country Music
Association Awards nominations, 7 Academy of Country Music Awards nominations and his first
American Music Awards and iHeart Radio Music Awards nods. It has Young mentioning
Rutherford County, the area where he grew up in Tennessee, and Brown’s hometown of
Hamilton County before singing of their current locale – Nashville’s Davidson County. “It means
a lot because it’s honest and it’s the truth,” Young says of the autobiographical lyrics. “Being able
to sneak something like that into a song, that’s a piece of me.” Young’s many famous friends are featured throughout the album. In addition to Brown on “Famous Friends,” Lauren Alaina, Old Dominion, Jimmie Allen, Cassadee Pope and Mitchell Tenpenny each collaborate with the singer on the 20-track project. Co-writers Sarah Buxton and Hillary Lindsey also provide backing vocals.
“There are so many incredibly talented artists, writers and producers who made this album
possible,” Young, who served as producer alongside Crowder, Mark Holman and Chris DeStefano,
explains. “Having friends lend their vocals to songs they were a part of was only natural for an
album titled Famous Friends.” Alaina’s vocal talent and captivating energy complement Young’s memorable baritone on the nostalgic breakup anthem “Town Ain’t Big Enough.” Meanwhile, Tenpenny’s assist on the introspective “At the End of a Bar” – Young’s 13th chart-topper — further elevates the project. Young and Tenpenny wrote “At the End of a Bar” with DeStefano in February 2021 during a Nashville snowstorm where most of the city was shut down. It was Tenpenny who suggested the song’s title. “It’s a true testament to never skip a day of work because you never know what you might write,” Young says. “It’s also a hell of a lot of fun to sing, and Mitchell Tenpenny and I had entirely too much fun stacking vocals on this, so we had to make it a duet.”
Young has had an impressive track record with duets as his previous 2016 collaborations – “Sober
Saturday Night” with Vince Gill and the Grammy nominated “Think of You” with Cassadee Pope
– both reached No. 1. The success of those songs as well as his next two chart toppers, “Losing
Sleep” and “Hangin’ On,” kept Young on the road as headliner for several years. In 2019, Young
sold nearly 500,000 tickets throughout his Raised On Country World Tour playing for fans in three
countries. The singer is no stranger to putting himself into his songs, whether in the writing room or on the stage. The deeply personal “Drowning,” released in 2019, was written about a close friend Young lost several years ago. He and co-writers Crowder and Josh Hoge were each thinking about
someone they lost too soon when they sat down to pen the song. The poignant music video for
“Drowning,” in which Young made his directorial debut, includes people sharing photos of loved
ones they’ve lost. His live performance of “Drowning” from CMT Artists of the Year in 2019 struck a major chord with country fans and garnered the singer his first-ever award for CMT Performance of the Year at the fan-voted 2020 CMT Music Awards. Young’s award-winning performance happened when he stepped in to perform for Brown, who lost his drummer Kenny Dixon in a car crash days before the awards show. “I wrote ‘Drowning’ about a friend of mine, Adam, who passed away,” Young said in his acceptance speech. “Kane had just tragically lost a really close friend of his and that was really the meaning of this song. It was a really difficult moment for me to get up there and play that knowing that he was watching and knowing everything he was going through.”
Young, who frequented writers rounds and sought out co-writers to work with before moving to
Nashville in 2006, gets just as much joy out of songwriting as he does touring. Songs like album
opener “Raised On Country” embody the best of both worlds for the singer as he says the upbeat
track encompasses what his live show is while also allowing him to tip his hat to his influences
including Joe Diffie, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and George Strait, who he name-drops in the
song. In fact, Strait serves as a bookend to the album as final track “Tonight We’re Dancing” also
mentions the singer. “It wasn’t deliberate at all, but it’s definitely amazing to have a nod to one
of my biggest influences opening and closing an album this important to me,” Young says.
The late Diffie, who passed away in 2020, was the first artist to reach out to Young and thank the
singer for mentioning him in “Raised On Country.” “He was one of the people that I grew up
listening to and loved his voice,” Young says of Diffie. “Songs like ‘Pickup Man’ are fun and
everybody knows all the words to that, and then to be able to turn around and give you ‘Ships
That Don’t Come In.’ The breadth of what he was able to do as an artist was always really cool.”
It is this same musical breadth that Young showcases on Famous Friends as “Raised On Country”
and “Drowning” demonstrate the emotional spectrum of the project. “Those are very different
songs,” Young, who has over 13 million singles sold and 24 R.I.A.A. Gold, Platinum and Multi-
Platinum certifications, says. “You might have something fun and anthemic that name-drops a
whole bunch of people that I grew up listening to and then on the other end of the spectrum you
have something that is very deeply personal and talking about losing somebody too soon.”
Additional album highlights include the vivid and vulnerable “Rescue Me,” which serves as a twist
on the typical love song, and “Cross Every Line,” the only track on Famous Friends that Young
didn’t write. “That first verse hooked me, and the rest of the song never let go,” he says of the
latter penned by Lindsey, David Garcia and Chase McGill. “Whenever I think, ‘I wish I wrote this
one,’ I know it’s time to cut it.” Young has remained a mainstay on country radio since his first No. 1 in 2009 with “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song).” Written with Kent Blazy and Cory Batten, the song is a staple in Young’s live show and one of his favorites to perform. While the steamy ballad marks Young’s upward trajectory within the country genre, other career highlights include being asked to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 2017 and selling out Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena in 2018. And in 2021, Young received a Tennessee Music Pathways marker in his hometown of Murfreesboro, TN, installed on the Middle Tennessee State University campus outside the newly renovated Chris Young Café, a learning lab and live entertainment venue that bears his name. With the release his eighth studio album, Famous Friends, the 36-year-old singer and Tennessee native nostalgically reflects on his past while optimistically looking forward to his future. “I’ve been very lucky that all this stuff has happened to me at this point in my career. It just makes me want to work harder for whatever’s going to come next,” he says. “I think there’s a whole lot for me to look forward to with the next step and what the next chapter is for me as an artist. Hopefully it blows people away.”
or call (813) 754-1996
Monday, March 6, 2023 · 3:30 p.m.
Neal McCoy has released fifteen studio albums. In 1993, Neal McCoy broke through with the back-to-back number 1 singles No Doubt About It and Wink from his platinum-certified album No Doubt About It. His commercial success continued into the late 1990s with two more platinum albums and a gold album, as well as six more Top Ten hits. A seventh Top Ten hit, Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On, came in 2005 from his self-released That’s Life. A new studio album, XII, arrived in 2012 Co Produced by Blake Shelton & Miranda Lambert. In 2013 he released Pride: A Tribute to Charley Pride, Neal’s longtime friend and mentor. 2015 brought the Big Band Standards CD You Don’t Know Me. 2017 brought Neal McCoy’s Favorite Hit’s. 10 Hits with 2 new songs. Neal has been on 17 USO Tours around the world and continues to say it’s one of the achievements he’s most proud of. He is also the recipient of multiple Humanitarian awards from The Academy of Country Music, The Country Radio Broadcasters and The Masonic Grand Lodge. In 2016 Neal has again made a move to continue his patriotic values by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance “Live” on his Facebook page every morning. He’s reached millions of viewers all over the country and around the world. Currently he is closing in on 2500 days in a row and going strong. Neal still maintains a very busy touring schedule all through the year. Make sure to catch a show when he’s near because as Neal says “No two shows are the same!” Neal also supports his own charity organization: East Texas Angel Network which is committed to the enhancement of the lives of children of East Texas who are living
with terminal or life-threatening diseases. He hosts a yearly golf tournament, auction/dinner &
concert over two days in the Fall. The foundation has been going strong since 1995 and to date has raised over 11 million dollars for over 500 hundred East Texas families.
or call (813) 754-1996
Monday, March 6, 2023 · 7:30 p.m.
MCA Nashville recording artist Josh Turner, while a multi-platinum-selling star himself, is a country music fan first and foremost. He’s even concocted his own version of Mount Rushmore conceived solely of country music legends. Turner’s “Mount Rushmore of Country Music” boasts five faces rather than four (it’s his mountain, after all) — Randy Travis, John Anderson, Johnny Cash, Vern Gosdin, and Hank Williams.
The giants carved into the granite of Turner’s musical soul form the core of his aptly titled new album, Country State of Mind. “I’ve always said that any song you hear coming from my voice, you’re going to hear bits and pieces of those five guys,” he says. “They taught me how to be Josh Turner.”
The dozen songs on Country State of Mind, including songs from those five legends among others, span more than half a century of classic country music, encompassing both well-known standards and deep-catalog cuts. The album shows a singer in dialogue with the songs and the artists that shaped his vision. It’s a conversation — relayed in the distinctive, resonant baritone that brought Turner #1 hits and five gold and platinum albums — between the past and present of country music. And on half the tracks, Turner invites other voices — some heroes, some contemporaries — to join him in the conversation.
“I knew the artists I wanted to represent,” explains Turner, “and I chose songs that exemplified who each of these artists was from my perspective.” The result is a multifaceted album that reflects a distinctive mix of popular and personally meaningful songs. “Forever and Ever, Amen” marks Randy Travis’ first recording session since an incapacitating 2013 stroke. John Anderson, who has written and recorded with Turner in the past, joins him to reprise Anderson’s 1993 hit “I’ve Got It Made.” Early in his career, Turner often performed Vern Gosdin’s first chart-topping single, “I Can Tell By the Way You Dance (You’re Gonna Love Me Tonight),” and has long dreamed of re-introducing it to a new generation of listeners. Turner plays guitar for the first time on one of his albums on his renditions of Johnny Cash’s “The Caretaker” and Hank Williams’ “Alone and Forsaken” — the album’s oldest, and darkest, songs.
“When I was growing up, before I moved to Nashville, I was crazy about sad songs,” he says. “There has always been a part of my heart that has loved those sad, lonesome, and slow songs.”
Turner chose his guests as carefully as he did his material, selecting artists who shared his love and respect for the material. “I wanted artists I knew have an appreciation for traditional country music,” he says. Besides heroes Travis and Anderson, Turner invited Country Music Hall of Famer Kris Kristofferson to record a new version of his 1973 chart-topper “Why Me” with him. The title track, originally a 1986 hit for Hank Williams Jr., becomes a duet with fellow Grand Ole Opry member Chris Janson. The members of Runaway June take George Jones’ part on “You Don’t Seem to Miss Me,” and Maddie & Tae sing with Turner on “Desperately,” a 2004 single for George Strait and the album’s newest song.
Country State of Mind also includes songs originally made famous by Keith Whitley (“I’m No Stranger to the Rain”), Waylon Jennings (“Good Ol’ Boys” Theme from The Dukes of Hazzard), and Alan Jackson (“Midnight in Montgomery”).
From the very start of his career through chart-topping hits like “Your Man,” “Would You Go With Me,” “Why Don’t We Just Dance,” and “All Over Me,” Turner has immersed himself in country music’s history and its iconic figures. After all, this is someone who, as a student at Nashville’s Belmont University, took an open gate on Johnny Cash’s property as a sign he should knock on the legendary singer’s door and introduce himself.
“The doorknob wiggles, the door swings open, and there stands Johnny Cash,” Turner recalls. “He and I both jump back, because he didn’t expect to see me, and I sure didn’t expect him to answer the door.”
Later, as the hits came, along with multiple GRAMMY, CMA, and ACM nominations, Turner joined the Grand Ole Opry. One of country music’s oldest and most hallowed traditions, the Opry once counted Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Cash, and George Jones among its ranks; now, Turner shares membership with heroes like Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, and Patty Loveless, as well as guest Chris Janson.
For nearly two decades, Turner has been one of country music’s most recognizable voices, selling more than 8.5 million units and amassing more than 2.5 billion global streams. He has never kept his reverence for traditional country music a secret, but, with this latest album, Josh Turner is definitely in a Country State of Mind.
Really, though, he always has been.
or call (813) 754-1996
Tuesday, March 7, 2023 · 3:30 p.m.
Roots & Boots
Aaron Tippin, Collin Raye and Sammy Kershaw
Twenty-Five years – a huge career accomplishment, especially in the music business. Aaron Tippin – who marks his silver anniversary as a recording artist this year – admits that he looks at his career longevity with a little bit of amazement.
“I think about it and go ‘Wow. What am I doing still here?’ I look at the flight that we took off in,” referring to his fellow newcomers at the time of his career launch. “A lot of them are gone, it seems. Some quit by choice. Some ran out from under it, but to be here twenty-five years doing it, I am the luckiest hillbilly that ever lived.”
Tippin says that nobody was any more surprised that he got an invitation to join the roster of Nashville powerhouse RCA back in 1990 than him. In fact, at the time he inked his deal, he had almost given up hope of success as a vocalist, concentrating on his budding career as a songwriter – with cuts from the likes of The Kingsmen, Mark Collie, and Charley Pride.
“I thought my chances were gone. I came to town when I was about twenty-five years old. I had been seriously trying to get a record deal for about three or four years. I
just thought ‘Man, this ain’t gonna happen.’ I really had settled into songwriting, and my songs started to get recognized. One of the gals down at RCA – Mary Martin heard me singing my demos. She said ‘Who is that?’ They said, ‘That’s that Tippin guy down there who writes for Acuff / Rose – the muscle guy.’ She said ‘That’s hillbilly. That’s country. Let me hear what else he’s got. I want to meet him.”
Aaron recalls that walking into the RCA office to meet with label head Joe Galante definitely had a magical vibe, as well it should. “The label was on fire. Clint Black was on top of the charts, along with the Judds and Keith Whitley. What a great team to fall into there. I’m so thankful that Joe took a chance on me. It sure worked out, and I had a great run there. I remember when he sent me my plastic Nipper dog and my Varsity Jacket. I couldn’t believe it.”
He also couldn’t believe that his first single, “You’ve Got To Stand For Something,” hit the Billboard Country Singles chart – eventually peaking at # 6. The success of that record also brought him a career opportunity that completely blew his mind. “When the song started to get played in Los Angeles, we got a call from Bob Hope’s daughter Linda. She heard the song, and asked if I’d be interested in going over and entertaining the troops. It didn’t take him long to give her an answer. “I said ‘Are you kidding me? Bob Hope? I never in a zillion years dreamed I would be on the Bob Hope show.”
And, just like that, Aaron Tippin was off to the races. The hits continued to pile up – “There Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With The Radio,” “My Blue Angel,” and “Workin’ Man’s PhD,” among them. He was building his brand on songs that touched a nerve with his blue-collar audience – and that one of a kind vocal style that definitely was Country. “You either liked it or you hated it. I is what I is,” he says with a smile. “I think several times during my record career, we tried to change and follow trends and stuff. But, it never seemed to work for me. The most success I had in the business was with songs that I crafted. I’m very proud of that. I think it makes a fan able to identify with me easier because these songs are about me – my life, who I am, and how I was raised. I tell people I get recognized a whole lot faster in a truck stop than I do in my tuxedo walking into the back of the Opry. You better check my credentials when I have a tuxedo on, because it don’t look right.”
That’s not to say that Tippin was a one-trick pony. His 1995 smash “That’s As Close As I’ll Get To Loving You” showcased a more dramatic side to his vocal approach, something that continued into his next label affiliation – as the flagship artist for Lyric Street Records.
“Everybody saw that with ‘That’s As Close As I’ll Get To Loving You’ that I could do other things. So, when they were pitching songs to Aaron Tippin, it was with a lot broader range. A lot of times, it would be songs that I particularly couldn’t write. It was a new place for my career, and to kick things off at a new label – I think it was a big success,” he recalls of “For You I Will,” his debut single for the label.
Signing with Lyric Street was like a family reunion for Tippin, with many people he had worked with before – such as Greg McCarn, Randy Goodman,Doug Howard, and Kevin Herring, as well as promotional guru Dale Turner – who had helped to build the Tippin brand at RCA. “I was happy to be one of the first people they signed. I enjoyed my time there as well.”
Another important piece of the Tippin story is his wife – and business partner Thea. “She is as much Aaron Tippin as I am,” he says. “She’s only six months behind me in my record deal. I signed with RCA, and then six months later, I signed with Narvel Blackstock and Trey Turner. She was Trey’s assistant, so she started working the Aaron Tippin career six months after it started. She’s got as much stake in this game as I do. She saw me at my lowest days, stood right there and stayed – even when things weren’t great, and I wasn’t having hit records. She listened to me whine all through it all. I owe her everything.” It’s not just his 25th anniversary as a recording artist in 2015 that Tippin is celebrating, but also his and Thea’s 20th anniversary as husband and wife, as well. Family is the center of Tippin’s universe – with two teenage sons, Ted and Tom, a grown daughter, Charla, and a granddaughter.
As the new millennium dawned, Tippin returned to the top of the charts with “Where The Stars And Stripes And Eagle Fly,” a song that became part of the American soundtrack during the aftermath of 9/11. “I wanted to talk to Americans about who we are at heart, and the fact that when the going gets tough, that’s when we really stand up. We may have a lot of differences when everything is calm and fine, but when it hits the fan, I think we’re the best in the world at sticking together, and rallying around the cause. That song served that purpose very well. I wanted us to be proud as Americans, and get back on with living free.”
In the past decade, Tippin has recorded several musically diverse projects – including a well received 2009 truck driving album, In Overdrive. He also partnered with restaurant chain Cracker Barrel for the release He Believed. To celebrate his 25th anniversary making records, he plans to celebrate in a big way. “We’re looking at putting together a project that has ten old songs, ten new ones, and five recordings that you never thought you would hear Aaron Tippin do. We’ll probably do some big band stuff, like “The Way You Look Tonight” – that’s a song I love. Thea and I love Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Tony Bennett. Her dad was a jazz and big band guy. That was our dance song at the wedding. I would also love to do a little bit of bluegrass – most people probably don’t know that I came from bluegrass back in Traveler’s Rest, SC, where I grew up. Nobody’s ever heard me do any Gospel, so this gives me a chance to do that. I grew up in the south, so southern rock is big in my world. I’d like to take a shot at some of that. I don’t know what the fifth cut is going to be. We’ve got the hits cut, and we’re fine tuning the new ones. We just want to make sure that it’s everything I want it to be, It’s important to me, because I don’t know if I will make fifty years or not!”
And, of course, another place where Aaron Tippin will be celebrating such a notable milestone is on the road. The singer still delights in that hour and a half performing on the stage – and those who come out to see him. But don’t call them “fans” – he thinks of them as family. “They have been so great to me over the years, and they’re still coming out to the shows. That’s why I still sign autographs every night. I just want to get out there and shake their hand and give them a big hug – just to say thank you.
They’re not strangers anymore – they’ve been coming for twenty five years.”
Along with the new music to celebrate 25 years, Aaron has partnered with Stonehaus Winery to produce “Aaron Tippin Country Jam”. It’s a Barrel Selected Blackberry wine. “Wine making has always been a passion of mine so I’m so excited about this new venture”.
The Aaron Tippin 25th Anniversary Celebration promises to be an unforgettable year of music and fun – After all, he ‘wouldn’t have it any other way,’ would he?
Born Floyd Elliot Wray on August 22, 1960 in De Queens, Arkansas, country
artist Collin Raye was one of the true hit makers of the 1990’s. Collin still continues to crank out soulful, heartfelt material with the honesty and richness that is signature to his vocals alone. With 24 top ten records, 16 #1 hits, and having been a 10 time male vocalist of the year nominee (5 CMA and 5 ACM), this truly electrifying performer of his era remains one of the great voices of our time.
Collin Raye is nothing if not passionate. His soulful delivery has set country standards in such searing ballads as “Love, Me,” “In This Life,” “Not That Different” and “If I were you”. Always an energizing showman, he has also blazed through such vivid rockers as “My Kind of Girl,” “That’s My Story,” “I Can Still Feel You” and “I Want You Bad.”
Collin shot to fame with “Love, Me” in 1991. Listeners were so moved by this golden and pure voice that this song set the cornerstone for a career built on meaningful and emotional songs that have often been used for weddings, anniversaries, memorial services and funerals. When “Little Rock”, an anthem for those struggling with addition recovery, hit the chart in 1994, its video led to over 100,000 phone calls to Alcoholics Anonymous from folks seeking help in their addictions. “Not That Different” was a song that pleaded for tolerance. “In This Life” became a wedding favorite, and “I Think About You” won awards for its song and video which exposed the exploitation of women and children.
Collin Raye has consistently used his stardom to advance social causes. Among the organizations he has supported are Boys Town, First Steps, Al-Anon, Special Olympics, Country Cares About AIDS, Catholic Relief Services, Parade of Pennies, Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, The Tennessee Task Force Against Domestic Violence, The Emily Harrison Foundation, Childhelp USA, Silent Witness National Initiative, Easter Seals, The Life and Hope Network, and Make a Difference Day. It came as no surprise when in 2001 at the Country Radio Seminar, Clint Black presented Collin Raye with the organization’s Humanitarian of the Year award in recognition of Collin’s issue-oriented music and his tireless charity work.
The man who has topped the charts with such great songs as “On the Verge,” “One Boy, One Girl,” “What the Heart Wants,” “Every Second”, “That Was a River”, “Anyone Else”, and “If I were you” continues to touch hearts across the globe in both traditional and new ways . Collin Raye’s new outreach is very personal. In 2010, after the loss of his precious 10 year old grandchild, Haley, Collin and his daughter Britanny (Haley’s mother) established The Haley Bell Blessed Chair Foundation to honor her memory. The Foundation supports and assists families of the cognitively and physically disabled with a primary emphasis on supplying wheelchairs and other necessary medical equipment to elevate the quality of life for the disabled family member in need. Collin wrote a very special song for Haley called, “She’s with me”, which carries a powerful message for families of special needs children. Additionally, in 2011 Collin released his first inspirational album, His Love Remains, which quickly shot to #1 on Amazon for inspirational and religious music. Collin continues to perform his traditional country music across America and abroad and has added Christian and Catholic concerts to his tour schedule as well. His autobiography, That’s My Story: The Undefeated Life of Collin Raye, is set for release in early 2014. He currently resides in Nashville, TN with his daughter, Britanny and granddaughter, Mattie.
Since his debut on the music scene in the early 90’s, Kershaw has remained one of the most consistent power hitters in country music—both with a chain of major hit records and sell-out touring schedules.
Sammy Kershaw’s plan for country music is re-claiming its roots and recapturing the spirit that made it great “Man, for someone like me who had George Jones’ music imprinted in my DNA before birth, the last few years have been rough as a fan of country music,” noted Kershaw candidly in a recent national interview. “Country music is not a formula…it’s a music with its own soul…and I’m all about saving that soul!” Kershaw’s current album “Honkytonk Boots” promises to be a much-anticipated first step in that plan of salvation.
For the newest Kershaw project, the singer’s soulful sound and Cajun vocal kick is teamed back-up with the genius of producer Buddy Cannon—whose efforts, like Sammy’s, have lined his walls with platinum. Sammy’s vibe about his latest studio venture has all the earmarks of a proud father talking about his new arrival “In music, everything is timing. I knew when we were in the studio working on the new album that we had something radio and fans are ready for…the feel of the album is a return to the kind of country music I, and a lot of other people, have missed.” Powerful words from a man who has picked, written, and sung a lot of hits.
Often referred to as the “heir apparent” to the legendary ‘voice’ himself—George Jones—Sammy Kershaw helped make the ‘90’s a shining decade for country music. It’s a comparison not lost on Sammy, who grew up in the Cajun country of Louisiana on a diet of crawfish and country music. The oldest of four children, the tragic loss of his father, matured him even faster than the clubs and honky tonks he was performing in at 12 years old. He speaks openly today of years spent battling substance abuse and addictions. “It’s not a period of my life I’m proud of but I do talk about it to encourage kids not to follow in my footsteps,” Kershaw recently noted. Helping others is a subject close to the heart that beats within what might often appear to be a tough, macho exterior. Sammy Kershaw is, in fact, a softie when the subject turns to kids. If proof were needed it stands in his hometown of Kaplan, Louisiana. There Sammy has established the Sammy Kershaw Foundation. Its outreach has extended through donations so far of more than 2 million dollars in aid to children and child related charities. With projects that extend from granting wishes through “Make A Wish Foundation” to establishing camps for crippled children, the foundation exists to fulfill Sammy’s simple goal of improving the lives of children. In the course of breaking into the ranks of stardom in country music, Sammy Kershaw has made contributions to more than just the charts. His platinum albums were propelled into the records books by hits such as “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful,” “I Can’t Reach Her Anymore,” “National Working Woman’s Holiday,” “Love Of My Life,” “Cadillac Style,” “Don’t Go Near The Water,” “Haunted Heart,”…and many other milestones.
or call (813) 754-1996
Tuesday, March 7, 2023 · 7:30 p.m.
The best-selling and most-awarded female gospel artist of all time, CeCe Winans has long since cemented her status as one of the most accomplished and celebrated women in music history. It would be easy to look back and rest on such illustrious honors, but Winans has always had her eyes fixed firmly on the future and constantly evolving. Her latest chart-topping musical offering, Believe For It (PureSprings Gospel/Fair Trade Services, LLC), is her first live recording featuring some of the biggest songs in Christian music today.
The award-winning trailblazer delivers two new cuts “No Greater” and the title track, “Believe For It” which was penned by the collaborative efforts of Mitch Wong, Kyle Lee, Dwan Hill and Winans.
Additional tracks such as, “Never Lost”, “Hunger” “Shepherd” and “Worthy of It All,” leads worshipers straight to the throne room where their strength is surely to be renewed.
Believe For It dominated the Billboard Gospel charts with four number one spots in the same week:
#1 Top Gospel album, #1 Total Current Gospel Album, #1 Gospel Digital Song and #1 Top Christian/Gospel Album. Winans also made her mark at key Christian radio stations and networks holding a Top 10 presence on Billboard Christian charts. The US On-Demand streams for the single, “Believe For It” surpassed the 75 million cyber count and the album went beyond the 41 million mark.
The national media coverage and reviews included appearances on the TODAY Show, Entertainment Tonight and popular regionals morning shows in the Top 10 US markets.
“I’m thrilled with the success of Believe For It because I think the message of the song is more important today than ever before. I celebrate reaching Top 10 and the millions of views the videos have received, not because it elevates me in any way, but because the songs promote the truth of the Gospel and the hope we have in Christ,” says Winans.
In her record-breaking 2021, Winans garnered four additional Dove Award wins to her ever increasing resume: Gospel Artist of the Year, Gospel Worship Recorded Song of the Year, Gospel Worship Album of the Year, Believe For It and Inspirational Recorded Song of the Year came via her collaboration with country superstar singer, Carrie Underwood on the classic hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”
The legendary singer swept all three of her Grammy nominated categories in 2022: Best Gospel Performance/Song “Never Lost”; Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song; “Believe For It” and Best Gospel Album; taking her count to 15 wins & 31 nominations. After 12 months of riding high on the Billboard Gospel/ Christian charts she received three Billboard Award nominations: Top Gospel Artist, Top Gospel Album and
Top Christian Album, Believe For It started as a long-awaited live recording and evolved into a musical gift that keeps on giving, transitioning from a stage to the studio, giving fans the best of both worlds. To celebrate its’ success an 18 track deluxe edition of the album was released featuring three unheard songs; the studio versions of “No Greater”, “I Have A Savior” and “I’ve Got Joy.” The new single, “I’ve Got Joy” (Fair Trade Services/Pure Spring Gospel, Inc.) written by Phil Wickham and Kyle Lee was released to Christian radio.
Winans’ melodic journey spans over 40 years recording and performing as both a solo artist and as a duo with her brother BeBe, she has influenced a generation of gospel and secular vocalists over the course of her astonishing career. Her mantel today holds a staggering 15 GRAMMY Awards, 27 Dove Awards, and 7 Stellar Awards. She’s been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the Nashville Music City Walk of Fame, in addition to being named a Trailblazer of Soul by BMI and garnering multiple NAACP Image Awards, Soul Train Awards, Essence Awards, and more. She’s sold in excess of 5 million albums in the US, topping the Gospel charts repeatedly while crossing over with smashes like “Count On Me,” her stunning duet with Whitney Houston from the multi-platinum ‘Waiting To Exhale’ soundtrack, which sold 2 million copies and cracked the Top 10 on the Pop, R&B, and Adult Contemporary charts. She touched millions more with inspirational performances everywhere from Oprah to The White House, including The American Music Awards and The Kennedy Center Honors paying tribute to the late legendary actress, Cicely Tyson.
or call (813) 754-1996
Wednesday, March 8, 2023 · 3:30 p.m.
Edgy. Classic. Country. A defining voice of music and a modern-day legend, two-time 2020 GRAMMY® winner Tanya Tucker continues to inspire artists today. Born in Seminole, Texas, Tanya had her first country hit, the classic “Delta Dawn,” at the age of 13 in 1972. Since that auspicious beginning, she has become one of the most admired and influential artists in country music history, amassing 23 Top 40 albums and a stellar string of 56 Top 40 singles, ten of which reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard country charts. Tanya’s indelible songs include some of country music’s biggest hits such as the aforementioned “Delta Dawn,” “Soon,” “Two Sparrows in a Hurricane,” “It’s a Little Too Late,” “Trouble,” “Texas (When I Die),” “If It Don’t Come Easy” and “Strong Enough To Bend.” Tanya is also the recipient of numerous awards, including two CMAs, two ACMs and three CMT awards. In 2020, Tanya received two GRAMMY® Awards for Best Country Album: While I’m Livin’ and Best Country Song: “Bring My Flowers Now.” In the fall of 2020, Fantasy Records released Tanya Tucker – Live From The Troubadour on October 16, the one-year anniversary of Tanya’s historic, standing-room only set from which it originates. Tanya was in the midst of resurgent visibility and acclaim generated by her Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings produced While I’m Livin’ album released two months earlier – so the brief stand in front of the West Hollywood tastemaker crowd took on a palpable air of significance. As someone who’s been center stage for more than 50 years, Tanya is donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the album directly to The Troubadour. The country icon’s signature tequila, Tanya Tucker’s Cosa Salvaje Tequila, is now available in 14 U.S. states and Canada, with additional stores carrying the spirit every day. To order Tanya Tucker’s Cosa Salvaje Tequila, visit CosaSalvajeTequila.com. For more information on Tanya, merchandise and more, go to TanyaTucker.com.
or call (813) 754-1996
Wednesday, March 8, 2023 · 7:30 p.m.
The Pointer Sisters
The Pointer Sisters began their formal vocal training in their father’s church, The Church of God in West Oakland, California. They went on to achieve worldwide fame and have secured a place in pop music history as a dynamic female group! Their first performance in Los Angeles at the Troubadour club was hailed by critics for its versatility and range and called The Pointer Sisters “the most exciting thing to hit show business in years.” Their 1973 debut album gave us the singles, “Yes We Can, Can,” which reached #11 on Billboard magazine’s pop singles chart.
or call (813) 754-1996
Thursday, March 9, 2023 · 10:30 a.m.
Bill Haley Jr. & The Comets
If only for the impact of “Rock Around the Clock”, Bill Haley would deserve a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (He was inducted in 1987)! Yet his impact in the early days of Rock and Roll went well beyond that milestone! Two years earlier he’d put out “Crazy, Man, Crazy” an original amalgam of country and R&B that arguably became the first rock and roll record to register on
Billboard’s pop chart! For most of the Fifties, Bill Haley was a presence on the record charts, and he appeared in several rock and roll movies aimed at teenagers. It is estimated that Bill Haley and His Comets have sold 60 million records worldwide. How important was “Rock Around the Clock”? “Before it became a hit in summer 1955 – more than a year after it was recorded – Rock ‘n’ Roll was virtually an underground movement, something kids listened to on the sly,” wrote journalist Alex Frazer-Harrison. “This changed after ‘Rock Around the Clock.’ The music was everywhere!” Bill Haley has been called “The Father of Rock and Roll” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll’s first star!” “We premiered it,” he told Rolling Stone in 1967. “We put country & western together with rhythm & blues, and that was rock. The first three years were ours, all ours, till [Elvis] Presley came along.” Bill Haley penned a song called “Rock-A-Beatin’ Boogie” – whose chorus went “Rock, rock, rock everybody/Roll, roll,
roll everybody” – that was recorded by the Treniers in 1953and adopted by disc jockey Alan Freed on his Clevelandbased Moondog radio show! Now his Son, Bill Haley Jr. & The Comets, recapture the heyday of his famous father and The Comets and carry on thetradition his father started! Re-creating the Music, the Feel, the Excitement, the Authentic Stage Costuming and the Energy, Bill Haley Jr. & The Comets will transport audiences back to the very beginning of Rock & Roll! Audiences will be on their feet, dancing in the aisles and singing along to every song during this incredible, All-Ages, Affordable Show!!
FREE with paid gate admission
or call (813) 754-1996
Thursday, March 9, 2023 · 3:30 p.m.
& THE SHONDELLS
Tommy James’ road to superstardom began when a nightclub DJ in Pittsburgh discovered a two-year-old record by “The Shondells” and played it at his weekend dances. The crowd response was so overwhelmingly positive that radio deejays started spinning it and an enterprising record distributor bootlegged it, selling 80,000 copies in ten days. By May of 1966 “Hanky Panky” was the number one record in Pittsburgh and Tommy James was a sensation.
A Pittsburgh promoter tracked Tommy down at his home in Niles, Michigan and urged him to “come on down!” Unable to put the original group back together, Tommy hired a hot P-burgh R&B bar band to replace them. Two weeks later he signed a record deal with Roulette Records. The label, in turn, put their promotion team to work on “Hanky Panky” and made it the summer smash of ’66. Thus began one of the longest strings of nonstop hits in recording industry history!
Tommy James promptly followed “Hanky Panky” with two more million selling singles – “Say I Am (What I Am)” and “It’s Only Love” – and the Hanky Panky album, which went gold just four weeks after its release.
With three hits under his belt, Tommy brought in producers Bo Gentry and Ritchie Cordell, and the three produced seven back-to-back smash singles: “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Mirage,” “I Like The Way,” “Gettin’ Together,” “Out Of The Blue,” “Get Out Now,” and the party rock rave-up “Mony Mony.” The Gentry/Cordell/James team also produced three platinum albums.
In 1968, Tommy became one of the first artists to experiment with music videos, creating a mini-film around “Mony Mony” for theatrical showings, thirteen years before MTV hit the airwaves.
After spending three months on the road that year with Vice President Hubert Humphrey — the first time that a rock artist had been asked to campaign for a presidential candidate — TJ took over the creative reins of his career by writing and producing the groundbreaking “Crimson and Clover” single and album. (Humphrey wrote the C&C album liner notes, another first.)
Released in early 1969, it went multi-platinum, and spawned two more monster hits: “Do Something To Me” and “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” A fourth song from the LP, “Sugar On Sunday,” rose high on the charts in a cover version by The Clique.
Tommy followed up the Crimson and Clover album with Cellophane Symphony, which featured the newly developed Moog Synthesizer and included yet another Top Ten single, “Sweet Cherry Wine.”
Tommy James was on a roll! Not only did the total sales of his four 1969 hits top those of the Beatles that year, his second volume of greatest hits – The Best Of Tommy James and The Shondells (featuring “Ball of Fire“) – also appeared and ultimately sold over 10 million copies.
Alone among his 1960s contemporaries, Tommy had successfully made the transition from a Top 40 pop singer to a respected classic rock album artist.
In 1970 he released the gritty rock ‘n’ roll Travelin’ album (thought by many to be the band’s best work) which contained the gold singles “She” and “Gotta Get Back To You,”. Tommy then took a break.
Upon his return, Tommy wrote and produced the million selling single “Tighter, Tighter” for the group Alive And Kickin’. Over the next four years Tommy scored an additional 12 chart singles, among them “Come To Me,” “Ball and Chain,” “I’m Comin’ Home,” and “Draggin’ The Line.” During that time he also produced the albums Tommy James, Christian Of The World, and My Head, My Bed And My Red Guitar; the latter of which he recorded in Nashville with an all-star cast that featured ace guitarist Pete Drake and Elvis Presley sidemen, Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana.
In 1974 Tommy left Roulette Records and released the In Touch and Midnight Rider albums for San Francisco-based Fantasy Records. Returning to the East coast in 1980, he signed with Millennium Records and racked up three more chart singles, including the million selling AC chart-topper “Three Times In Love.” In the 1990s, Tommy formed Aura Records and scored three Top 5 AC hits from his Hold The Fire album.
Meanwhile Tommy’s songs had become pop culture classics and were being covered by everyone from punk rockers to country icons. In 1987, Tiffany and Billy Idol’s versions of “I Think We’re Alone Now” and “Mony Mony” respectively battled for the top spot on the pop chart for a solid month, and each eventually went to #1. It was the first time in music history that two cover versions of songs by the same artist hit #1 back-to-back.
That was just the beginning. In the following years, artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Kelly Clarkson, Prince, Dolly Parton, Santana, R.E.M., Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Billy Idol, Tom Jones, The Killers and many others, recorded his songs and performed them live.
In 2006, Tommy marked the start of his fifth decade as a recording artist with the release of a fan-pleasing, career-spanning retrospective 40 Years: The Complete Singles Collection (1966-2006), which included all 48 of his singles. Next came his I Love Christmas album.
His autobiography – Me, The Mob and The Music – became a bestseller for Simon & Schuster, garnered rave reviews from critics and industry insiders, and was chosen by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 25 greatest rock ‘n’ roll memoirs of all time (#12).
This thrilling tale of Tommy’s career and his tumultuous relationship with the “Godfather” of the music industry, Morris Levy, is on its way to becoming a major motion picture: a project helmed by producer Barbara De Fina, whose credits include Goodfellas, Casino, Cape Fear, Color of Money, The Grifters, The Age of Innocence, and Silence. With top Hollywood screenwriter Matthew Stone completing the screenplay, Tommy’s story took a critical step forward in the always-lengthy film development process.
Today, Tommy’s career is still in high gear. He signed an agreement with Sony/ATV Music Publishing to represent his self-published songs and the accompanying masters. This move means that all of Tommy’s songs are now being pitched for film, television, advertising and other uses by the world’s largest music publishing house.
Over the years, the response has been overwhelming with Tommy’s music being featured in national ad campaigns for the likes of Nissan and Kohl’s; and grabbing prominent placements in movie and television soundtracks, including 16 Cloverfield Lane, Moneyball, Pirate Radio, Austin Powers, We Are Marshall, The Italian Job, Cape Fear, Forrest Gump….and Crowded, Almost Human, The Goldbergs, Aquarius, Boston Legal, My Name Is Earl, Men of a Certain Age and Criminal Minds.
“Crystal Blue Persuasion” in particular scored big-time on the 2013 season finale of Breaking Bad and The Simpsons BB parody episode.
To date, Tommy has sold over a hundred million records sold worldwide, and has received five BMI “Million Air” awards in recognition of 22 million broadcast spins of his songs.
Today Tommy is still rockin’, performing his many timeless hits to sellout crowds across the country, and celebrating his 50th year in the music business by recording a new album.
or call (813) 754-1996
Thursday, March 9, 2023 · 7:30 p.m.
FOR KING + COUNTRY
Lush. Ethereal. Dynamic. Evocative. Percussive. Stark.
Joel and Luke Smallbone know how to spin a cocoon of sound that envelopes the listener, lace words of truth and use their voices to lift and inspire. For FOR KING + COUNTRY – the quadruple GRAMMYÒ-winning progressive pop artist-songwriters – what music can do, as a positive and emotional force in people’s lives, is what drives the Sydney, Australia-born, Nashville-based duo. Fearless and searching for not just commonality, but how we all can take the things that scar us and transform them to grow in love, FOR KING + COUNTRY offers rigorous engagement with the world.
The duo’s growing list of accomplishments – number one radio singles, headlining tours with sold-out arena shows in major U.S. cities, sold-out shows on multiple continents, GRAMMY and Billboard Music Award wins, multiple RIAA certifications, and appearances on CBS Sunday Morning, Good Morning America, The Tonight Show, TODAY, and CMA Country Christmas – alongside their bold pursuit of a more just and loving world, has afforded them the opportunity to create music with some of their musical heroes: Dolly Parton, Timbaland, Echosmith, Lecrae, Tori Kelly and Kirk Franklin. A resume such as this creates an ever-widening platform rife with the boundless awe and spectacle one experiences during a FOR KING + COUNTRY concert, and one from which FOR KING + COUNTRY will continue to use to share their music with the entire world.
What Are We Waiting For? marks profound personal and professional growth for the brothers following the double GRAMMY-winning album, Burn the Ships; it reflects the state of the world and their growth as men, fathers, husbands, and especially humans.
COVID and the lockdown time gave the Billboard Music Award winners the opportunity for full immersion into their music. Life slowed down enough to allow an exhale, to take stock of life, count their blessings and sound a call of compassion, togetherness and celebration.
Time off the road also afforded a diversity of producers, longtime collaborators Josh Kerr (Keith Urban, Camila Cabello) and Tedd T (Mutemath, Celine Dion) were joined by British producer and artist Matt Hales (known as the artist Aqualung) and Los Angeles-based Tayla Parx (co-writer on “Love Lies” by Khalid and Normani, “Thank U, Next!” by Ariana Grande and “High Hopes” by Panic at the Disco). For the always questing, always musical brothers, What Are We Waiting For? looks into the pain, the stumble, the jagged parts – and sees there’s more.
“The musical progression for us on this album is a question and a comment for all of us,” Joel explains. “Looking at the songs – ‘Broken Halos,’ ‘Unity,’ ‘H.O.P.E,’ ‘Together’ – the greater questions are where the urgency and hope lie. To recognize imperfections, but not be drowned in shame when we do. Knowing if you ignore (flaws), you can become such ruthless judgers of everyone else.”
“But there’s a commonality to the pre-chorus of ‘RELATE,’” Luke picks up. “If we can have that and all say, ‘I’ve been wrong,’ it’s possible to meet humanity right where they are. Rather than wanting to drown in your shame, we can heal together.”
Whether employing whirling string sections and perfect harmonies on “Broken Halos,” syncopated gang vocals, a heartbeat backbeat, broad choruses and a half-rapped, half sung deliver on “Unity” with Dante Bowe, the swirling tumble and tension of “Shy”, or a classic, melody-forward Beatles-esque ballad honoring Joel and Luke’s parents, “Unsung Hero,” the 10-time GMA Dove Award winning duo creates intriguing soundscapes, while painting meaningful truths and its new album What Are We Waiting For? certainly lives up to its name.
“When you go through the unimaginable, perhaps unexpected, challenges, the suffering produces bravery,” Luke shares. “Bravery turns to courage, then hope, which I thought was fascinating.”
“It’s this idea it’s all based on fairness,” says Joel. “But there’s often a crossroads where you recognize the troubles. This tragedy of the pandemic is a perfect example: it wasn’t just New York City, or a few countries. It was the whole world! We can use this moment to build a little more resolve. The arts in general have a tremendous ability to transcend.”
“Seasons,” opening with the simplest piano part, measures change inherent to intimate relationships with equal parts acceptance and recognition, while the cloudlike piano/string delicacy of “Harmony,” featuring “Sleeping at Last,” is a balm for minds unsettled by the world’s turbulence. Luke adds, “‘For God Is With Us’ speaks to all circumstances. No matter hardship or great delight, we can all take great comfort in God being with us.”
“We want to encourage people to engage in the larger realms of life, to reach out in community,” Joel offers. “We’re all seeking. Hopefully this [album] provides that place. After all, art bypasses the head and goes straight to the heart.”
Often writing and demoing songs straight after coming off stage while on a rigorous tour, delivering a high-energy connection for audiences of 15,000 or 20,000 fans regularly, FOR KING + COUNTRY harnessed that energy and urgency to fuel the duo’s writing. On What Are We Waiting For?, the brothers opted for an almost simmering approach to giving songs room to find their own way instead of capturing them in the white-hot velocity of the moment.
“It’s always been a very guttural and instinctual process,” Luke offers.
Growing faith in the largest context transformed the vulnerability. “Love Me Like I Am” calls for acceptance of self and each other. It’s knowing in a world of faster, harder, more, sometimes your flawed misstep makes you loveable in an even truer way.
“The lack of compassion and the lack of humanity,” Luke says. “You look, and it’s everywhere. Then you realize it’s not just you are seeing it. When we worked with Tayla, she looked at us, said, ‘What if the changes fall real quick?’ It lifted the sentiment up. It comes down to a comment, her asking, ‘What if…’ There’s more movement, and the chorus sets up…”
“You start to realize you’re always so close to the near miss,” Joel adds. “One simple comment, it changes the way the song hits people. That difference is profound. That song is much more global, where we found ourselves and who we were. Tayla really honed ‘RELATE,’ and bought it home. Two Australian white guys, Josh Kerr being a country guy and Tayla being a Black woman from California: there was such diversity, but we all felt the same thing.”
Seeking to move forward as artists and human beings, FOR KING + COUNTRY took a world on the verge, realized man’s plight, and created a compelling song cycle to deliver recognition, hope and empowerment before arriving at a benediction. “Doxology,” which closes the project, offers blessings and a glimpse of what we find when we pay attention, embrace the flow, and each other.
or call (813) 754-1996
Friday, March 10, 2023 · 3:30 p.m.
Legend. Icon. American Patriot. World renowned, record-setting performer. The Midnight Idol. Mr. Entertainment.
No other name or person is so defining, representative or synonymous with Las Vegas and the entertainment capital of the world than Mr. Las Vegas himself– Wayne Newton.
Recognized and revered around the world, entertainment superstar Wayne Newton is known for his iconic signature song, “Danke Schoen” in addition to countless other top hit singles including, “Daddy, Don’t You Walk So Fast,” “Red Roses for a Blue Lady,” “At This Moment,” “The Letter,” “Summer Wind” and “Years.”
Newton has recorded and released, to date, an astounding 165 albums in his career. In a volatile, unforgiving industry where careers and successes can appear and disappear like vapors, Wayne Newton resides atop the “Mount Rushmore of Entertainers” etched in music history.
Wayne Newton, who will make his historic and triumphal return to the landmark Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino this fall, has performed live in front of more than 40 million people during a record-setting run of 25,000-plus shows in Las Vegas, alone.
This remarkably gifted artist, who can perform 13 different musical instruments on stage, has done so throughout his career without ever being able to read a single note of music. Wayne’s rare and unique abilities only further epitomizes the wealth of talent, glamour and unquenchable energy that is–Las Vegas.
In addition to his live prowess on stage, Newton has long since established himself as an accomplished and sought after actor–both on television and the silver screen–having appeared in such memorable movies as “Vegas Vacation” and the classic James Bond thriller, “License to Kill.”
Born in rural Virginia, Wayne knew early on, at age four, that he was born to entertain. He had his first radio show at the age of six years old and then at the ripe old age of nine, he landed his first television show in Phoenix, Arizona–where his family had moved due to Wayne’s childhood asthma affliction. Not to be detoured, the now 15-year-old professional entertainer soon found himself performing six shows a night/six nights a week on stage at the Fremont Hotel in Las Vegas. Young Wayne Newton was not legally old enough to be a customer at the casino/resort, but the now “seasoned” performer was certainly talented enough to be entertaining nightly in the city known as the epicenter of the entertainment world.
Blessed with an exceptional work ethic as well as the energy and heart to give 100% to each and every performance, Newton also displayed an innate gift and ability to “connect” with his audience each and every night–adeptly tailoring and crafting each show to the needs and moods of each individual audience. Wayne knew and loved his audiences and they responded in kind each night throughout the years.
Deep, heartfelt patriotism has always resided at the very core of Wayne Newton. He has made it his duty and honor to have entertained troops in every major conflict our nation has encountered since Vietnam–where he traveled to twice. Cited as one of his greatest personal honors, Wayne was named the “Chairman of the USO Celebrity Circle,” a passing of the torch from Bob Hope and the USO Commission to Wayne Newton in the year 2000. From 2001 through 2004, Wayne directed and participated in a total of 16 USO overseas tours. Newton was the first performer to entertain troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. President George H. Bush honored Wayne with a private reception at the White House in 2001 to salute him, thank him and show the nation’s gratitude for his unwavering patriotism. Wayne Newton summed up his feelings about those who served with this quote: “Entertaining our men and women of the Armed Forces overseas has been one of the true highlights of my entire life.”
Wayne was also recognized by the United States Department of Defense when they bestowed upon him its highest civilian award for being the ONLY American entertainer to have performed in ALL of the respective countries of conflict. Wayne was deeply honored by this special acknowledgment.
Las Vegas–never a city to be outdone–made its own history when it saluted Wayne Newton by making him one of only two people to receive the city’s own Medal of Honor. In addition, he was also named the “Ambassador of Goodwill” by the state of Nevada. The honors continued when Las Vegas McCarran International Airport’s main thoroughfare was renamed “Wayne Newton Boulevard.” Las Vegas continues to honor Newton by naming him one of the “Top Three Entertainers of the Century–in Nevada and around the World” along with his dear friends and fellow performers, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.
Wayne Newton has an embedded star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as well as the very first one etched into the Las Vegas Walk of Fame.
As you can see, Wayne Newton is “Mr. Las Vegas” for good reason. And he remains ever-present in the city he helped make famous.
You’ll find him either on stage at The Flamingo, tending to his world famous Arabian horses, or in attendance at either a Las Vegas Golden Knights NHL hockey game or Las Vegas Raiders NFL football game…or ultimately doing something meaningful and important to help and support others in his city or for his country.
As one notable entertainment mogul once said: “Las Vegas without Wayne Newton is like Disneyland without Mickey Mouse.”
or call (813) 754-1996
Friday, March 10, 2023 · 7:30 p.m.
Train is a multi-GRAMMY and Billboard award-winning band from San Francisco that has had 14 songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 list since the release of their debut self-titled album. Train’s climb to the top began in 1994, as the original 5-member band tenaciously built a loyal hometown following, leading up to their debut album, released by Columbia in 1998. The tumbling wordplay of “Meet Virginia” gave them their first unlikely radio hit and 2001’s Drops of Jupiter broke them to multi-platinum status thanks to the double-Grammy Award-winning title song that spent 10 months in the Top 40, has been certified 6x platinum in the US, and earned the 2001 GRAMMY Award for Best Rock Song. The group won another GRAMMY award in 2011 for their global hit “Hey, Soul Sister” from their multi-platinum album Save Me, San Francisco. “Hey, Soul Sister” was the No.1 best-selling smash and most downloaded single of 2010 and achieved RIAA Diamond status. Train has sold more than 10 million albums and 30 million tracks worldwide, with multiple platinum/gold citations, including three GRAMMY Awards, two Billboard Music Awards and dozens of other honors. They’ve had 12 albums on the Billboard 200 albums chart with their 2014 Bulletproof Picasso reaching No. 4 in 2012 and 2017’s a girl a bottle a boat debuting at No. 8. “Play That Song,” the lead single from a girl a bottle a boat, went platinum in four countries including the U.S., hit Top 5 on the US iTunes chart, Top 10 at Hot AC radio, and charted at Adult Top 40. Train frontman, Pat Monahan, partakes in other ventures outside of music, including his award-winning wine portfolio, Save Me, San Francisco Wine Co, which was created in 2011 and has sold over 10 million bottles and won over 100 medals. Proceeds from his wine business support Family House, a San Francisco charity that supports families of children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
or call (813) 754-1996
Saturday, March 11, 2023 · 3:30 p.m.
It’s hard to know where to start when talking about Sawyer Brown.
More than 6000 shows and counting. More than a million miles behind them and still seeing the highway miles click by outside their bus window. Twenty-three albums. More than 50 chart singles. CMA, ACM, and CMT awards on the shelf. To pull a line from one of the band’s enduring hits: “This is the life and times of a travelin’ band.” A traveling band, indeed. Always on the move—on the road, on stage, and in their career. When asked about what keeps him motivated on the road, lead singer Mark Miller says, “It’s playing the next show. Be grateful for where you’ve been and be excited about where you’re going.”
That excitement has been on display since the very first time Sawyer Brown stepped foot onstage in the early 1980s. Beginning as the road band for another singer, Sawyer Brown broke out on their own playing everything from clubs to pig roasts in those earliest days. “There’s no such thing as a gig we wouldn’t take,” Miller laughs, remembering the beginning of the ride. “We knew that we wanted to play music and we knew that we wanted to work at being the best live band there was—and the only way to do that, was to get out and play shows. And so we did.”
It would certainly be an understatement to say that Sawyer Brown has “played shows.” The band has earned its place as one of the premier live acts in music. The band began by playing 275-300 nights a year for the first decade or more of its career—and has never come off the road. Tireless road warriors, the band thrives on playing live. “Live is where it all comes together for us,” keyboardist Hobie Hubbard says. “The audience brings its own energy, we bring our own energy and the music—and the combination of all of that is what makes playing live so unique. It exists for that moment in time—you’re either there, or you’re not a part of that moment. We’re blessed to be able to be a part of those moments night after night.”
The band’s live shows are legendary. Having been described as “the Rolling Stones of Country Music,” the band bounds onto the stage night after night, delivering its own unique brand of high-energy entertainment, and the band remains a perennial favorite at fairs, festivals, theatres, and casinos. “We love getting to hear the stories of where people have seen us play—and the number of times they’ve seen us play,” drummer Joe Smyth says. “For some, we’re their weekend getaway—they’ve seen us all over the country. But we never lose sight of the fact that on any given night, it’s going to be the first time someone’s seen us—and that’s exciting. We want that show, that night, to live up to everything they hoped for when they came to the show. Couldn’t ask for better motivation.”
Keyboard player Hobie Hubbard agrees: “It’s always humbling when someone comes up after a show and tells us that they hear themselves or their family in our music. I hope that they can look up there on stage and see themselves—because we can sure look out at them and see ourselves. Every day we’re on the road, one of the best parts of the day is waking around whatever town we’re in and just soaking it in—listening to folks talking in restaurants, just watching life unfold one story at a time.”
One story at a time—that is certainly the way that the life and times of this travelin’ band has unfolded. “What we try to do—what we’ve always tried to do, I think—is capture those moments that matter, and capture them in a song,” Miller says. “It seems to me that it’s really the small moments in life that are the big ones, anyway.” And capture those moments the band has. From the tentative moments of transition that underscore Miller’s evocative ballad “The Walk” to the moment that a guy realizes he just might have found the right girl in the band’s energetic signature song “Some Girls Do,” the band consistently manages to bring life to those moments that all to often slip by unnoticed—unnoticed, that is, until a song sings our life back to us.
Mark Miller and his band mates have been singing our life back to us now over the span of the band’s twenty-three albums. In addition to writing and co-writing many of the bands hits, Miller has also produced many of the band’s albums. “Mark’s got a great set of ears,” bass guitarist Jim Scholten says. “When we go into the studio to work on an album, we all contribute and all kick around ideas. And Mark’s got the gift of being able to corral our energy and encourage the best out of all of us.” Scholten laughs and adds, “Just don’t tell him I said that.”
Miller’s creativity extends even beyond Sawyer Brown. He discovered the multi-platinum contemporary Christian band Casting Crowns and has produced all of their records—including winning a Grammy for one of their albums. “Working with Casting Crowns has been an amazing adventure from day one,” Miller says. “Mark Hall is one of the finest songwriters I’ve ever known, and he and the band have an absolute commitment to spreading the Gospel through the songs. It’s a blessing to get to walk along side them in the studio.”
Connection—with Sawyer Brown, the key is in forging those connections. “Every night we’re on stage, I look at my brothers beside me on stage and think how blessed am I that I get to share the ride with these guys. And then I look out at the audience and I’m grateful that those folks have taken this ride with us,” Hobie Hubbard says.
And it really does all come down to those people in the audience for this band. As Mark Miller says, “We’re all this together—all of us. Just like the line in ‘Travelin’ Band” says, ‘Now I want to take this time to thank you’—I wanted our fans to hear a thank-you coming straight from me.” It is a thank-you that at this point literally hundreds of thousands of cheering fans have experienced not only on record, but at the band’s legendary live shows as well. Known for their high-energy, no-holds-barred approach to the concert stage, the band continues to fill venues across the country with the same enthusiasm they have had from day one. “That’s one thing that has never changed,” says lead guitarist Shayne Hill. “The business part of the music business may be changing by the minute, but playing live is still about the same thing it’s always been about: connecting to the audience right there in the moment.”
Sawyer Brown is about connection. In fact, it’s likely safe to say that connection continues to be the driving force of the band. As note connects to note, as singer connects to listener, as each mile of road connects to the one that follows it, the band senses—and forges—those connections every time they record and every time they hit the stage. “I’m a real believer that things happen for a reason—that they unfold the way they do because there’s Someone bigger than us driving this bus,” Miller says. “We know we’ve still have a lot of miles in us. We’ve got our bags packed, got our gear ready, and we’ve got plenty to sing about. We want see where the trip takes us next.”
or call (813) 754-1996
Saturday, March 11, 2023 · 7:30 p.m.
The Isley Brothers
or call (813) 754-1996
Sunday, March 12, 2023 · 3:30 p.m.
The Leroy Van Dyke Country Gold Tour, featuring Leroy Van Dyke, T.G. Sheppard, Mandy Barnett and T. Graham Brown
Leroy Van Dyke, of “Auctioneer” and “Walk On By” fame, star of the movie, “What Am I Bid?” is known around the world as an entertainer, recording artist, radio and television star, actor, auctioneer and veteran of the Nevada circuit. He has recorded over 500 songs, and probably holds the record for most repeat-performance bookings of any working, name country music entertainer. He has worked 40 to 70 fairs and livestock events per year for over five decades, in addition to a great variety of other engagements.
He was born on a farm (not in a hospital) in rural Pettis County, Missouri, without the amenities of running water and electricity. Elementary schooling was in one-room country schools, then to high school at Sedalia, where he ranked third in a class of 180 graduates.
Leroy is a graduate of the University of Missouri with a dual major: Animal Husbandry and Journalism, with a minor in Speech. He received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, did one semester of graduate work, and was a member of both the junior and senior University of Missouri intercollegiate livestock judging teams.
After serving as a special agent, U. S. Army Counter-Intelligence Corps, in Korea, Leroy was catapulted into show business while working as a journalist, when his self-penned “Auctioneer” recording went a million-plus just weeks after its release. He then joined Red Foley’s ABC-TV Network “Ozark Jubilee” in Springfield, Missouri, as a regular member, and continued in that position for three years until the show left the air.
He again had a multi-million seller with “Walk On By,” a record that stayed in the charts an incredible 42 weeks, nineteen in the number one position, and was later named by Billboard Magazine as the biggest country music record in history! Leroy then moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and became a regular member of the world-famous Grand Ole Opry.
Music industry experts named Leroy Van Dyke as the Country Music Entertainer of the Decade for the 1960s. He had the starring role in the 1967 movie “What Am I Bid?.”
Leroy was a founding co-host of “Country Crossroads,” the most widely syndicated show in radio history; he hosted his own syndicated television series, “The Leroy Van Dyke Show;” he hosted the 1965 Country Music Association Awards Show at which Ernest Tubb was inducted into the Hall of Fame; he was the first entertainer to receive the prestigious Country Music Association Founding President’s Award for contributing to the advancement and improved image of country music; he served on the board of directors of the Country Music Association, and also served on the board of the International Entertainment Buyers Association.
He was selected by the Country Music Association to represent it in showcase situations at the Waldorf in New York, The Monteleone in New Orleans, The Edgewater Beach and the Conrad Hilton in Chicago, The Ambassador in Los Angeles and numerous Country Music Association functions in Nashville.
Van Dyke is considered by industry moguls and by his peers to be the entertainer who put professionalism in country music. He was the first to blaze a trail and take a staged, produced, choreographed, self-contained country music show to the “Strip” in Las Vegas. He was the first to take country music to Bourbon Street in New Orleans’ famed French Quarter. He was the only country music performer ever to open a show for Marilyn Monroe.
Leroy is a 2001 inductee into the North American Country Music Association, International, Hall of Fame.
After more than four decades as an entertainer, Leroy still travels in excess of a hundred thousand performing miles yearly around the world . . . he performs in all facets of show business including fairs, festivals, concerts, rodeos, supper clubs, conventions, radio, television, recordings, the Nevada circuit, livestock events, agricultural shows and private functions.
He has not missed a performance in over five decades as an entertainer.
On a personal note, should you ask, Leroy will tell you that there are only four things he ever wanted to do: sing, sell, write, and raise livestock. He is living his dream. His name is a household word in country music circles around the world. He is an auctioneering Hall of Fame member. He was a successful journalist, and is the author of “Auctioneering, Motivation, Success,” a work that is rapidly becoming the textbook of the auction profession. His Arabian mules are developing a reputation from New England to California and from Canada to the Deep South.
TG Sheppard has always had an unstoppable passion for music. This passion along with 21 number one hits and being ranked among the top 100 country artists iof all time has made him one of the most popular live performers on tour today. It’s only natural with a show chock full of chart topping hits like “Last Cheaters Waltz”,”I Loved ‘Em Everyone”,”Do You Wanna Go To Heaven”, and “Party Time” that TG has developed a reputation as a solid performer who delivers exactly what audiences want. All this and more combined with a steadfast dedication to entertainment has truly made him one of the great Legends in country music.
T.G. knew early in his life that music was more than a hobby. He left his home in Humboldt, Tennessee, at the age of 15, journeying to Memphis to begin his career in earnest. Working in various bands, he began to develop his stage skills, learning how to put his own touch on the myriad of songs required to survive on the club and party circuit. Using the name Brian Stacy, he released his first record, “High School Days”, which caused a few ripples on the pop charts in 1966. The resulting acclaim brought him gigs as an opening act for some of the biggest acts in America, including The Animals, Jan & Dean and The Beach Boys.
The fledgling star veered off his musical course in 1965, reverting to his given name of Bill Browder and getting into the record promotion business. In a short time his passion for music, now redirected to furthering the careers of others, made him one of the industry’s most successful record promoters.
In 1974, T.G. found a song that would change his life forever. His astute ability to pick a hit song and promote it had paid off for numerous artists, yet T.G. kept thinking of his own musical aspirations. He knew Bobby David’s composition “Devil In The Bottle” was destined to be a hit, yet had no success in pitching the tune. After being turned down by eight record labels in 18 months, T.G. decided to cut the song himself. Heading to Nashville, he was signed to Motown, the mammoth R&B label that was trying to establish a presence in country music.
When he released “Devil In The Bottle” as T.G. Sheppard by night, he soon realized which of the two jobs would get his undivided attention. While promoting records for RCA, T.G. formed a close personal and professional relationship with Elvis Presley. The legendary performer appreciated T.G.’s unique style and personality. As a token of their friendship, Elvis gave T.G. his first tour bus in 1976, helping to provide him with the confidence to give up the promotion business and hit the road full time. During his first year on the road he scored numerous hits with the Motown imprints of Melodyland and Hitsville, including “Trying To Beat The Morning Home” and “When Can We Do This Again”.
Named “Best New Male Artist” in 1976 by CASH BOX, T.G. signed with Warner Bros. when Motown decided to get out of country music. His career then skyrocketed as he scored 14 consecutive number one songs, including such classics as “Only One You”, “Party Time”, and “War Is Hell (On The Homefront)”. In 1982, following this impressive “debut”, T.G. was honored as Music City News “Most Promising Male Vocalist”.
His sound – a smooth fusion of R&B rhythms, pop arrangements and solid country songwriting – was a blueprint for country music in the late 1970s and early 1980s. During this period, his style rarely changed, and fans came to rely on his substantial recordings of well crafted, slickly produced country-pop rhythms, highlighted by his evocative vocals.
The “promise” of T.G.’s early career continued into the 1980s, as he racked up one hit after another. His duet with Karen Brooks, “Faking Love”, scored yet another number one, and “Make My Day”, a duet with Clint Eastwood featured in the feature film “Sudden Impact” crossed over onto the pop charts.
In 1985, T.G. signed with Columbia Records, where he again found himself at the top of the charts with songs like “Fooled Around And Fell In Love”, “Strong Heart”, and “One For The Money”. During his Columbia days, he worked with renowned producers Rick Hall and Bob Montgomery to create four more albums to add to his repertoire.
By 1990, country music traditionalists had changed the course of the format, and T.G. found himself wondering how he fit the new mold. He chose to withdraw from recording at this time and instead concentrated on his live performances, touching audiences night after night with his tried-and-true repertoire of hits, delivered with non-stop energy and the same excitement he felt as a teen.
He also made a name for himself as an astute businessman. In 1988, he opened his private residence in the Great Smoky Mountains as a bed and breakfast. The 160-year-old log home, built high atop Moon Mountain, was an instant success and is still a popular tourist destination, although T.G. no longer owns the property.
The popular performer, who learned firsthand the kind of entertainment experience fans craved, was one of the original investors in the highly popular chain of country nightclubs, Guitars & Cadillacs. The clubs, located throughout the Midwest, serve as showcase venues for many emerging country singers as well as some of the format’s biggest stars.
T.G. also served as the national spokesperson for the Folgers’ NASCAR racing team for eight years. During a six-year span, he served as host/performer on “Folgers’ Wakin’ Up Country Tour”, which headlined throughout North America.
In 1995, he took a two-year hiatus from the road to perform exclusively for eight months a year at T.G. Sheppard’s Theater In The Smokies, a state-of-the-art theater in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. For the first time in his musical career, he enjoyed the luxury of going home every night after a show. But the wanderlust of a road musician was inescapable, as he returned to the road in 1997.
Charity work is a crucial part of T.G.’s career. Throughout the year, he works with many of the nation’s top charitable organizations such as Cerebral Palsy, Inc; St. Jude Children’s Hospital; The Alzheimer’s Association; The United Way; and ChildHelp USA.
T.G.’s first commercial album in over 13 years “Legendary Friends & Country Duets” has just been released. It is a duet CD with some of music’s biggest icons including Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Jerry Lee Lewis, Conway Twitty, Kelly Lang, Ricky Skaggs, The Oak Ridge Boys, Englebert Humperdink, Lorrie Morgan, Crystal Gayle, Delbert McClinton, The Whites, Mickey Gilley, Steve Cropper, Jimmy Fortune, and Wayne Jackson and the Memphis Horns. T.G. states that this is the music he is the most proud of. A 90 minute motion picture length dvd was also filmed as the sessions were recorded and has won the top award for best music documentary at the Tele Awards in Los Angeles, CA.
T.G. Sheppard’s ardor for life and unceasing energy allow him to fulfill his unrelenting passion for music. His brand new album, “Midnight In Memphis”, available everywhere on September 20, is the latest means by which he shares that passion with the rest of us.
Grand Ole Opry member Mandy Barnett, one of Nashville’s enduring musical treasures who has showcased her mesmerizing voice on stages across the globe, started singing at five years-old. She has been singing since.
Barnett’s style is rooted in the classic country and pop crooning of iconic singers and timeless sounds. She delves into a song with a keen interpretative sense, getting right down to its emotional core and rendering a powerhouse performance through her “pipes of steel” (Los Angeles Times). As one record executive put it, “Mandy Barnett is a song’s best friend.”
Barnett first gained national prominence as the original star of one of the first “jukebox” musicals, Always…Patsy Cline at Nashville’s famed Ryman Auditorium. Barnett, as Cline, performs on the original cast soundtrack album and is the only actress to have played the role on the historic Ryman stage where Cline’s legend began. The Ryman shows sold out nightly and received rave reviews, and Barnett has wowed critics and audiences ever since with her concerts and recordings.
Barnett’s critically lauded albums include I’ve Got a Right to Cry, named the “Top Country Album” by Rolling Stone in the year of its release and produced by renowned Nashville Sound pioneer Owen Bradley, who also produced Cline’s most loved chart-toppers (as well as producing Loretta Lynn, Brenda Lee, and k.d. lang). And Rolling Stone continued to honor this landmark album, placing it in 2019 on two of its “best of” lists of seminal classic country works.
With a string of acclaimed country albums, such as her self-titled Warner Bros. debut, her Christmas celebration Winter Wonderland, the Cline-inspired Sweet Dreams, and I Can’t Stop Loving You: The Songs of Don Gibson (a tribute to her friend, the late Country Music Hall of Fame member), there’s no doubt Barnett has mastered that genre and holds it dear to her heart. But Barnett is not one to be musically boxed in. Her 2018 Strange Conversation album, an Americana blend of roots, pop, and R&B tunes, includes a duet with John Hiatt and a soulful rendition of Neil Sedaka’s My World Keeps Slipping Away, which Sedaka himself sent to Barnett to record. AllMusic hails Strange Conversation as the “richest record of her career: surprising, lively, and deeply felt,” and The Philadelphia Inquirer, which listed Strange Conversation among the best country/roots albums of 2018, notes that Barnett “takes a disparate collection of pop, soul, and rock numbers and makes a riveting personal statement.”
As further testament to her diversity, Barnett sang on the SpongeBob SquarePants album The Best Day Ever (sharing the spotlight with the likes of Brian Wilson, Tommy Ramone, and Flaco Jimenez) and often incorporates a Great American Songbook standard or two into her live shows. When asked about her favorite composer, Barnett’s as likely to cite Cole Porter or George Gershwin as she is Willie Nelson or Dolly Parton.
In fact, along the lines of highlighting Barnett’s range, her 2020 A Nashville Songbook, an album of reimagined, multi-generational pop and country gems produced by Fred Mollin (producer of Johnny Mathis, Kris Kristofferson, Jimmy Webb, etc.), was inspired by Barnett’s popular “Nashville Songbook” concert.
Every Star Above, Barnett’s most recent album (also produced by Mollin), celebrates and reworks selections from Billie Holiday’s Lady In Satin, with original arrangements by the late legend Sammy Nestico. Variety magazine named Every Star Above one of the best albums of 2021.
Barnett is equally as comfortable on the Grand Ole Opry and stages with symphony orchestras, having recently performed solo concerts with the Nashville Symphony, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the Ulster Orchestra in Belfast highlighting her “Nashville Songbook” repertoire. Barnett made her New York City cabaret debut at Feinstein’s/54 Below in 2019 with an acoustic version of her “Nashville Songbook.”
Barnett’s music has been featured in many major film and television soundtracks (most recently, in The CW Network’s series “The Flash”), including projects starring Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Martin Sheen, Reese Witherspoon, Matthew Broderick, Sigourney Weaver, Ellen Burstyn, Bill Paxton, and SpongeBob SquarePants. Besides soundtrack work, Barnett often contributes tracks to other types of musical compilations, and she has appeared on “The Tonight Show,” “The Late Show,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” PBS’s “Sessions at West 54th,” PBS’s “Bluegrass Underground,” and numerous other programs.
Among the many publications praising Barnett’s talents, the Chicago Tribune calls Barnett “a torch singer in the grandest sense of the word.” Time, People, Billboard, Rolling Stone, and other major media have likewise extolled Barnett’s world-class vocals, “natural musicality” (People), “big, silky, expressive voice” (Billboard), and “vocal finesse” (New York Times). USA Today calls Barnett one of Nashville’s “finest classic country and torch singers,” while the Austin Chronicle notes that “when people start talking about Mandy Barnett, eventually the word ‘amazing’ gets used.”
It was one of the most vibrant and exciting time periods in Country Music history – the mid-1980s. A new and exciting crop of talents were springing up all over the place – and T. Graham Brown remembers it like it was yesterday.
“I remember Randy Travis and I hit at about the same time,” he recalls. “Our first singles were so close to each other. I’m not sure if it was the same week or not. Then you had Marty Stuart, Billy Burnette – who went on to Fleetwood Mac. Steve Earle was there, too. I saw him at the Grand Ole Opry a few weeks ago, and we talked about that year. We had a great year. We called our club ‘The Great Credibility Scare of 1986.’ All of us were having fun, there was no competition between us, and we all loved each other. Keith Whitley was one of my best friends, as well, and we were touring together a lot. It was a great time.”
Brown’s initial entry to Country Radio was the sad and soulful “Drowning In Memories.” That Top-40 single helped him to establish himself, and by the winter of 1986, he had warmed up to audiences with the bluesy hit “I Tell It Like It Used To Be.” Other hits quickly followed, with his first self-penned release “Hell And High Water,” which became his first number one song. “I Wish That I Could Hurt That Way Again” and “Don’t Go To Strangers” were the next releases, which all became chart-toppers.
The soulful vocal stylings of T. Graham Brown were all over the airwaves, as his sophomore release Brilliant Conversationalist added more titles to his arsenal of hits, such as the seductive “The Last Resort,” and “She Couldn’t Love Me Anymore.” It was a time period that Brown sums up as something of a blur.
“Doing shows, visiting radio stations and promoting our records, kept me out on the road over 300 days a year and that was a lot of traveling! This was when I was on tour with Kenny Rogers, who was the biggest thing going back then. I was learning so much about the business and having the time of my life. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!”
His audiences continued to make him a radio favorite as he continued to amass more hits like “Darlene,” the smash duet “Don’t Go Out” with Tanya Tucker, and the regret-filled “If You Could Only See Me Now.”
At the same time his singles were climbing the charts, T.’s powerful voice could also be heard on radio and television. His sense of style provided the platform for a successful series of cameos in commercials for international brands such as Coca-Cola, Harrah’s Casino, Burger King, and Taco Bell. It’s his work with the popular Mexican eatery that he is perhaps best known, with a series of commercials under the mantra “Run For The Border,” a campaign that lasted four years. Brown says it was an exciting time – and one where he ate more than his share of Meximelts and Nachos Bell Grande dishes!
As the 80s progressed into the next decade, Brown continued to flex his artistic muscle. A well-received concert album enabled him a chance to pay homage to his early influences, like the incomparable Otis Redding, and his hero George Jones, who he teamed up with on several projects, including the CMA Award-winning Vocal Event of the Year release, “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair.”
It was a gripping 1998 release about his battles with alcohol – “Wine Into Water”- which helped him introduce his music to the Christian audiences. This iconic song has been recorded by over a hundred artists, most recently by Loretta Lynn, on her critically acclaimed project, Full Circle.
In recent years, his first-ever Gospel album, Forever Changed, netted him a Grammy nomination, with the promise of more such music on the way. A collaboration from the disc, “He’ll Take Care of You,” paired him with Country Music Hall of Famer Vince Gill.
Now entering his fifth decade as an entertainer, T. Graham Brown continues to branch out in his career. Before moving to Nashville in 1982, he made a few cameos in feature films, including 1977’s Greased Lightning with Richard Pryor. More recently, he’s started acting again, and his colorful personality can be seen in such films as Saving Samuel and Ticket To Nashville. He is also featured in the television series The Dream Motel, which contains a unique premise.
“It’s a Christian-based Fantasy Island meets The Twilight Zone,’ says the artist known affectionately as His T-Ness. “Guests at The Dream Motel find themselves face to face with their past, their present and their future. All things are possible for guests at The Dream Motel.”
He even acted in the stage play, A Scattered, Smothered, Covered Christmas, the Waffle House Musical, where “Wine Into Water” was chosen for the score.
That being said, there’s not much that Brown would change. His career continues to sail along at a pace that seems to suit him well these days.
“I’m having more fun out there now than I ever have had. I’m not out there chasing the hits. I’m just trying to stay out there. We’re planning on doing another Gospel record later this year. I’m doing some acting, which I am enjoying. I’m no great actor, but as long as they keep calling me, I’ll keep doing it. It’s a lot of fun.”
And, for T. Graham Brown, it’s all about a career that he enjoys. He’ll tell you with a grin, “I’ve got a band and a bus, and I’ll keep taking the music to the people as long as God lets me. It’s what I love to do!”
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Sunday, March 12, 2023 · 7:30 p.m.
In 2018, Southern Rock icons, Lynyrd Skynyrd, announced that, after a career that has spanned more than 40 years and includes a catalog of more than 60 albums with more than 30 million units sold, they would embark on their Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour. Produced by Live Nation, the career-concluding farewell tour logged over 50 stops by the end of 2018.
In 2019 Johnny Van Zant, Gary Rossington, and Rickey Medlocke sat down with Dan Rather for a candid conversation on The Big Interview during the first leg of their farewell tour. Reflecting on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s enduring legacy and their fans around the world, Rossington told Rather, “It takes a long time to finish a farewell tour when you’re like us, ‘cause we’ve played everywhere… I keep jokin’ it’d take ten years to do the farewell tour.”
However, like many things since COVID hit last year, their Farewell tour has been put on pause. Lead singer, Johnny Van Zant said, ‘this past year has been very difficult on so many people, including us and our families. I think you realize once something is taken away from you, you truly realize how important it is and such a part of your life.’
Original member and guitarist Gary Rossington added, ‘you know, we were in the last part of the Farewell Tour when COVID turned our world upside down. And since that time, we have been talking amongst the band, and realized that music has such a way of healing. Maybe it’s not our time to go? And maybe it’s our time to lift people’s spirits and lives and bring back some joy and happiness after so much turmoil this past year. This country and the world have been through a lot this past year with COVID. We’re still standing, still keeping the music going. We want to do the guys who aren’t with us any more proud, and keep the name proud, too.”
The legendary rockers are best known for the RIAA Platinum-certified “Sweet Home Alabama” and self-proclaimed signature song, “Free Bird,” that Rolling Stone said was “easily the most requested live song in existence.” With everlasting hits such as “Simple Man,” “Gimme Three Steps,” “What’s Your Name,” “Call Me The Breeze,” “You Got that Right,” and more, it is easy to see why Rolling Stone named Lynyrd Skynyrd one of its 100 Greatest Bands of All Time.
Lynyrd Skynyrd, the band that USA Today called the “whiskey-soaked genre’s most popular and influential crew,” is ready to return to live music and rock Billy Bob’s for the first time as a band. Original member Gary Rossington will be joined by Johnny Van Zant, Rickey Medlocke, Mark “Sparky” Matejka, Michael Cartellone, Keith Christopher, Peter Keys, Dale Krantz Rossington, and Carol Chase.
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