Masterful country music stylist, Gene Watson, from Houston, Texas has been thrilling audiences for more than 50 years. The depth of emotion in his singing, his brilliant phrasing, his jaw-dropping range, and the power in the lyrics he chooses are all factors in the awe he inspires in both fans and his musical peers. A proud member of the Grand Ole Opry, Gene Watson’s tally of 75 charted titles, 23 top-10 hits, and 6 number-one singles has also led to membership in the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame and the Houston Music Hall of Fame. Radio listeners are still transfixed whenever classics like “Farewell Party,” “Fourteen Carat Mind” or “Love in the Hot Afternoon” are played. Watson is one of the rare singers who still sings in the same key as he did 30 years ago and his audiences respond with standing ovations night after night when he nails the octave jumping last note on his most requested song, the now country classic “Farewell Party.” Considered one of the finest pure-country singers of his generation and known as “The Singer’s Singer,” Watson offers up one of the best traditional country shows in the business. His stunning voice captivates audiences and keeps his fans coming back again and again.
In the last seven years since his debut, Cole Swindell has racked up over 4 BILLION global career streams, an impressive 10 No. 1 singles; 11 No. 1 singles as a songwriter; one 1 billion+ audience reaching single (“You Should Be Here”), nine Platinum singles (two singles at 2x Platinum); a Platinum-certified debut album (Cole Swindell) and a Gold‐certified sophomore album (You Should Be Here), his No. 1 hit “Break Up In The End” was named the NSAI Song of the Year (2019), as well as numerous songwriting including being named the NSAI Songwriter/Artist of the Year (2016) and Music Row’s Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year during his debut (2015). The Grammy‐nominated multi‐Platinum rising superstar has toured with the biggest superstars in country music including Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Dierks Bentley, and officially became a headliner on his own Reason To Drink Tours in 2018. Swindell has sold out all four of his Down Home Tours in support of the Down Home Sessions I, II, III, IV. The Georgia native kicked off his headlining Down To Earth Tour in March 2020 before it went on pause amidst the COVID‐ 19 and shortly after released his now multi‐week No 1 single “Single Saturday Night.” He is currently on tour with Thomas Rhett’s Center Point Road Tour. Swindell has played on some of the biggest stages in the world including making history being the first-ever live radio and TV broadcast from the 57th-floor terrace of 4 World Trade Center, overlooking the Freedom Tower where he performed his hit “You Should Be Here.” He has played high‐profile national television performances on NBC’s Citi Concert Series on TODAY, ABC’s Good Morning America, The Ellen Degeneres Show, Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, ABC’s CMA Fest specials, CMA and ACM Awards, MLB Network, NASCAR and Sports Illustrated among others.
Comprised of Bobby Bones and Eddie “Producer Eddie” Garcia, Bobby Bones & The Raging Idiots is a band who has earned a reputation for “their comedic deliveries” (American Songwriter), and now has the whole world singing and laughing with them. Bobby Bones is an award-winning radio and TV personality. iHeartMedia’s The Bobby Bones Show is the #1 Country morning show, broadcasting to over 180 stations with millions of weekly listeners. The Bobby Bones Show recently garnered its second Country Music Association Award for National Broadcast Personality of the Year and fourth ACM Award for National On-Air Personality of the Year and earned Bones the title of youngest-ever inductee into the prestigious National Radio Hall of Fame. Bones breakout TV series for National Geographic, “Breaking Bobby Bones, is streaming now on Disney+. He has served as the official in-house mentor on ABC’s “American Idol,” won season 27 of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” and serves as host and executive producer of Circle Network’s “Opry.” Producer Eddie first met Bones while working as his producer for a local TV station. Together they produced daily segments highlighting the local and national music scene and would later create a late-night talk show on the same station, aptly titled “The Almost Late Show with Bobby Bones.” Eddie moved to Nashville with Bones to serve as the show’s media producer but quickly found himself on the air performing with Bones. The Raging Idiots started while Bones was in high school, then later as a “fake” opener for his solo comedy act. The band was reinvented again in 2014 for a single charity event for no more than 40 people. Soon after, they decided to do one more show for charity in Wichita, KS, selling over 3,000 tickets and fueling their drive to continue to use humor and music to help various communities. Since then, The Raging Idiots have rallied together to raise millions while sharing the stage with superstars Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn, and Luke Bryan. Most recently, their sold-out 5th Annual Million Dollar Show raised over a quarter-million dollars for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, helping to bring Bones’ and The Bobby Bones Show total for the cause to over $16 million. The duo released its AWARD WINNING EP on May 14. The project follows the success of fan-favorite hits like “The Target Song,” “Hobby Lobby Bobby” and “The Emoji Love Song” and features three fresh new tracks anchored by “comedic deliveries that blend, but don’t overshadow their actual, legitimate musical talent” (American Songwriter). Most recently, Bobby Bones & The Raging Idiots kept “music and laughter flowing” (Sounds Like Nashville) as they headlined the inaugural BOBBYFEST —an all-day, family-friendly music festival hitting two cities over two days —New Braunfels, TX (9/4) and Wichita, KS (9/5), which also featured performances by Russell Dickerson, Maddie & Tae and more.
By now the story of Grammy-winning, multiplatinum hip-hop superstar-actor-entrepreneur-philanthropist Nelly’s meteoric rise to stardom is a well-known, oft-recited part of hip-hop history. The standout member of the St. Louis rap collective the St. Lunatics inks a deal with Universal Motown Records, drops a sizzling single called “Country Grammar” with a familiar nursery rhyme hook, and follows it up with a debut album of the same name that spawns three humongous hits, spends seven weeks atop the Billboard 200 chart, scores three Grammy nominations, and sells an astonishing 9 million copies worldwide. That, of course, is the abridged version of a story that began years ago in a part of St. Louis known as University City. It’s the story of a young man whose life was so unsettled that he moved from place to place, from family member to family member, and hung out on the streets with “the big dirties” who introduced him to the underbelly of the city. But Nelly’s is also a story of achievement—overachievement, even. As a child, Nelly, born Cornell Haynes, Jr., was always the fastest runner, the best catcher, the hottest player on the team. He was so gifted, in fact, that he almost ended up in professional baseball instead of music. Much to the delight of the legions of fans that now rank him among hip-hop’s premier artists, Nelly charged onto the hip-hop scene in the summer of 2000 with his groundbreaking debut album, Country Grammar. The critical acclaim, accolades, and awards rolled in almost as fast as the record sales. Country Grammar snagged four Grammy nominations, two for Best Rap Solo Performance (“Ride Wit Me,” “Country Grammar”), Best Rap/Song Collaboration (“Where The Party At,” with Jagged Edge), and Best Rap Album (Country Grammar). Nelly also topped Billboard’s 2000 year-end chart as the Top Male Rap Artist, and he was nominated for two Source Awards, an MTV Video Music Award, two BET Awards, an American Music Award, and a Soul Train Music Award.
“It felt like the beginning of the next chapter in my life,” says Sam Hunt of finishing his second studio album, SOUTHSIDE. Daring in both its emotional heft and sonic explorations, the set arrives on April 3. Hunt made his remarkable debut back in 2014 with Montevallo, a revealing self-portrait told via a pastiche of sounds native to Hunt’s Georgia hometown: country, hip-hop, and R&B. The collection went triple platinum and logged four No.1 Country Airplay singles, a first for any male in the history of the genre off of a first album. Singles like “Leave the Night On,” “Take Your Time,” “House Party,” and “Break Up in a Small Town,” all platinum-certified in their own right, each also enjoyed true crossover success. All four cracked the Top 30 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100. But fame and fandom have curious effects on creativity, Hunt found. And while working on his follow-up, there were moments where he felt the weight of public perception and expectation. “I knew too much,” he says, “there was a lot more to consider. I didn’t know what I wanted to say—how I wanted it to sound.” He stopped writing entirely for two years. “I questioned what was next for me,” he confides. He searched for a breakthrough with a variety of pop and hip-hop producers, all eager to try on a variety of sounds. (“I did a lot of over-thinking,” he quips, recalling the quest.) Direction arrived instead when Hunt reunited with names familiar to those who’ve studied the Montevallo liner notes: powerhouse songwriters Josh Osborne (Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw) and Shane McAnally (Kacey Musgraves, Thomas Rhett) and songwriter-producer Zach Crowell, who helmed the soundboard for SOUTHSIDE. “There’s a beauty to writing with people who know you well,” he says, “people who you spend a lot of days with—people who you have had conversations with about what you want to do and people who know what your limitations are. They know what’s authentic, in terms of what kind of song you want to write.” Re-embracing that team became an obvious choice. “The progress spoke for itself,” he explains. “The greatest thing about them is that they have opinions and they’re assertive. We all take that approach with each other in the studio.” In doing so, it brought him back to the way he used to pen songs, straight from the heart. “I had to lose some of the calculation,” he recalls. “It had become too mechanical.” It became about, again, “letting the emotion lead; using more heart than the head when it comes to writing.” In Osborne, in particular, he found a partner in his heady approach to songcraft. “When we have an idea, Josh and I will sit and talk out all the ways not to write it, and all the best ways to write it,” Hunt explains. It takes time, but the extra effort is, for the 35-year-old, a necessary part of the process. “We put a fine-tooth comb to a song. He’s willing to do that—a lot of people won’t.” Together, they fashioned songs that snake between open-hearted, Nineties country (“2016,” “Let It Down,” “Breaking Up Was Easy in the 90s”), sizzling R&B (“Nothing Lasts Forever”), and brooding speak-singing confessions (“That Ain’t Beautiful,” a set standout). “Young Once” sees Hunt turn nostalgia into the sounds of the future, laying a soulful missive over airy atmospherics and a glitchy drum loop. And on “Sinning With You,” he ruminates on his ever-evolving faith over choral effects and reverb-soaked strings. One-upping the old adage that country music is just “three chords and the truth,” here, he makes magic with only two. Hunt has sent shockwaves through the industry before, moving the very mainstream of the genre towards his hip-hop inflected fare following the release of Montevallo, and he finds welcome new terrain again with the irresistible “Hard to Forget.” Currently climbing the Airplay and Hot Country Songs charts, Hunt warps a Webb Pierce sample (1953’s No.1 “There Stands the Glass”) into a drop, mixing in a boom-thwack beat. The results are downright euphoric; a true celebration of musical innovation.