All posts by Kyle3194

Hayley Orrantia Closes Out the ‘Strong, Sweet and Southern’ Tour With A Bang!

Hayley Orrantia embarked on her first headlining tour the Strong, Sweet and Southern Tour, which was named after her single with the same name. Orrantia was joined by Brennley Brown, who most recently reached the top 10 on NBC’s The Voice. The tour’s last stop was in Nashville, TN at the Wildhorse Saloon. I was able to be a part of the final show and attend the event.

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Brown kicked off the evening with a few of originals of her own and playing covers such as Joline.” At just 16 years old, Brown showed no signs of her young age and captivated the audience with strong vocals and mature performance. Brown effortlessly set the tone for the rest of the night and kicked things off with a bang.

Orrantia opened her set with her original song “Tightrope,” which was a mid-tempo song drawing the comparison between the balancing act of walking on a tightrope and a romantic relationship. The song set the tone for the rest of the night as she spoke about a few of the songs and the story behind them. The first of these was “Lewisville,” which is a song about Orrantia’s hometown and the feeling of wanting to get out for the pursuit of achieving a longing dream. Orrantia also showed off her radiant and humorous personality by covering Vanessa Carlton‘s “A Thousand Miles,” and the audience was able to see along with all of the words. Afterward, Orrantia sang a toe-tapping, uptempo song titled “Stuck in the Rhythm,” which continued the high energy feeling of the show. Before Orrantia ended her set with “Strong, Sweet & Southern,” she performed Justin Timberlake‘s “Drink You Away.” Although the song has country undertones, Orrantia showed off her diversity and flawlessly delivered a powerhouse performance that solidifies her artistry. Before ending the night, Orrantia was joined on stage by Brown, where the pair sang Cam‘s “Diane.” The pair reached back and put an exclamation point to an already impassioned night of music.

Orrantia, who is mostly known for her role on ABC’s The Goldbergs, is now quickly cementing herself into the country music world. The show solidifies the certainty that Orrantia is well on her way to a prosperous and lasting career, with a mix of intelligent and provoking originals. Orrantia is definitely one you do not want to miss out on and has the vocals to back it up. If you plan on attending CMA Fest this year, be sure to check her out. She will be performing on the Maui Jim Broadway Stage at Hard Rock Cafe on Friday, June 8th at 12:45 PM, as well on the CMA Close Up Stage at 2:45 PM on Saturday, June 9th.

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Interview: Lena Stone is The Best Lena She Can Be in “Can’t Think Straight” Music Video

Meet rising singer-songwriter Lena Stone, who is a Carlisle, MA native. Stone moved to Nashville at the age of 18 to pursue her passion for music. A few short years later and Stone is quickly making a name for herself in the music industry as both an artist and a songwriter.  Stone’s accolades include being a co-writer on Kalie Shorr‘s “Fight Like A Girl” and she is one of the founding members of Song Suffragettes (A weekly writer’s round held in Nashville, Tennessee featuring female country artists). 

Stone has been paving a pathway to success with her infectious pop-country sound and beaming personality. She is an avid songwriter and has penned over 500 songs in the last few years, crafting and defining her own artistry. Stone just released her second single, “Can’t Think Straight,” along with a music video that was filmed live on Nashville’s Music Row. We had the opportunity to talk with her about her new single and what’s ahead as she gets ready to release her EP!

Stone wanted “Can’t Think Straight” to have a summery feel to it, a song one can listen to with the windows rolled down and that is exactly what she delivered. It sparks the emotions that lost love elicits and the longing that comes after a breakup.

Am I still the one you’re thinking of, when you can’t think straight / Baby, do you go scrolling through your phone / looking for my name / When it’s 1 AM and you’re wondering why you’re still awake / Am I still the one you’re thinking of when you can’t think straight?

The song features a melancholy guitar and rainstick throughout the track which highlights the emotions of the lyrics. Stone is able to create imagery with her strong vocals and effortless sound, blending a mix of country and pop. “Can’t Think Straight” has all the potential a song needs to make a breakout artist. Stone is constantly working on new ways to reach fans and is gearing up to release her debut EP, due out later this year!

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Read Our Interview with Lena Stone

Variety Beat: You have had success as a co-writer on Kalie Shorr’s “Fight Like A Girl,” what has that been like and did you think something like that would happen?

Stone: All the success that we’ve had with “Fight Like A Girl” has been so amazing and so unexpected! Kalie, Hailey (Steele) and I wrote that song on a day when we were all feeling really down about being women in the music industry, and so we wanted to write something to empower ourselves. But the stories that we’ve heard from cancer survivors, women struggling with infertility, and all kinds of obstacles have made the song take on this amazing meaning that’s so much bigger than we originally dreamed possible!

Variety Beat: You have been a part of “Song Suffragettes” for a few years now, how has that entire journey been and how has it helped you as an artist?

Stone: Song Suffragettes is a really important part of my story in Nashville so far. It’s been a place to meet friends and co-writers, a stage to play for new audiences and test out new songs, and a community of women to lean on in this crazy industry.

Variety Beat: Inspiration for songs can come from a variety of experiences and places, is there a place that you feel would inspire you to write more?

Stone: I’m really inspired to write and be creative in places that are cozy or homey; if a writing room is too plain or there isn’t a comfy couch to curl up on, I’ll definitely be less productive!

Variety Beat: How have your life experiences and influences shaped you as an artist? Is there a defining moment that made you decide to pursue music full-time?

Stone: I don’t really have an “aha” moment with music, I feel like I’m just that three-year-old who said she wanted to be a singer and just never grew out of it! My family and the music my parents listened to around the house when I was growing up had a huge influence on me and my music. They were (and still are) big fans of the singer/songwriters of the 1970s like James Taylor, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and more, and that love of songwriting is at the heart of all the music I make today.

Variety Beat: Moving to Nashville at a young age can be a challenging and a life-changing experience, how have you overcome that challenge and what advice would you give to someone thinking about making the move?

Stone: Nashville is absolutely the place to be if you want to be a singer/songwriter, and especially if you want to be in Country Music! That being said, I think a lot of really talented people get discouraged when they get here because they haven’t quite realized what they’ve gotten themselves into and can get intimidated (it’s super easy with all the talent in this town!), so I would say make sure you’re really ready to get knocked down a bunch before you make the big move!

Variety Beat: What is the story and inspiration behind your song, “Can’t Think Straight?” What would you want someone to take away from the song?

Stone: With “Can’t Think Straight” I really wanted to write a song that felt like the summer when I was 18; that was the year I fell in love for the first time, had my heart-broken for the first time, left my hometown and my high school boyfriend behind and moved to Nashville. I spent a lot of nights missing him and wondering if he was thinking about me too, and that’s really the place where “Can’t Think Straight” came from. I really hope that anyone who hears the song will find some detail or lyric that reminds them of their first love and how magical that time can be, even if it’s over.

Variety Beat: You have been working on your debut EP, what has that whole process been like and what do you hope to say with it?

Stone: I am so excited about this EP because it will be my first time releasing a collection of songs at once instead of just singles. We just finalized the track listing and I’m so excited that the songs on this project cover all the stages of a relationship from the very beginning to the very end, all the moments and all the emotions.

Variety Beat: How would you describe your sound to someone who may not be familiar with your music?

Stone: That’s a hard one! I think my music lives in that space that’s a little bit pop and a little bit country. Some of my biggest influences are Sugarland, Sara Evans, James Taylor, Taylor Swift and Sara Bareilles, and I’m always just trying to be the best Lena I can be.

Check Out the Video for “Can’t Think Straight” Below!

Variety Beat’s 10 Artists to Watch in 2018!

In 2017 we got to see a few of our artists from 18 Artists to Obsess Over in 2017 breakout in a huge way. Luke Combs had not one, but two #1 songs as well as a fully sold out headliner tour. Carly Pearce signed her first record deal early in the year and got her first #1 with her debut single, “Every Little Thing.” As 2017 has come to a close, we look out into the future of the bright stars looking to breakout in 2018.

Josh Dorr

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Dorr released his debut EP, Sundancer, back in November of this year, which featured five tracks. Dorr has been in the country music scene for some time now, which included him teaming up with Fender for a tour back in 2015. Dorr’s crisp and distinctive voice separates him from the rest of the pack. Dorr’s EP features the song “Ready or Not,”  which was co-written along with Ryan Hurd. Look for Dorr to make a huge impact in 2018.

Notable Songs: “Ready or Not,” “I Need a Highway” and “Before the Summer Dies”

Walker McGuire

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Walker McGuire have recently been making a big splash in the country music world. The duo comprises of members Jordan Walker and Johnny McGuire, who signed to Wheelhouse Records back in late 2016. Their debut single, “Til Tomorrow,” was released back in April of this year and cracked the top 50 on the Country Airplay Charts. Walker McGuire have opened for artists such as Old Dominion and Kane Brown. Walker McGuire are defining their own sound and it is a sound that has not been heard by any recent duos. In early 2018, be on the lookout for Walker McGuire’s debut EP.

Notable Songs: “Til Tomorrow,” “Mysteries of the World” and “Lost”

Taylor Acorn

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Acorn just recently signed with Play It Again in November of this year. Acorn is a Lynchburg, Virginia native, who previously released three singles independently. Acorn just released her debut EP titled, Put It In a Song on November 17th. The EP features Acorn’s infectious title track “Put It In a Song.” Acorn has opened for artists such as Scotty McCreery and Parmalee. Acorn brings a fresh voice with intelligent songwriting that will attract fans from all over. Be on the lookout for Acorn to gain more traction in the upcoming year.

Notable Songs: “Put It In a Song,” “Same” and “Something Tonight”

High Valley

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High Valley is a brother duo with members Brad Rempel and Curtis Rempel who are Alberta, Canada natives. High Valley has had major success in the Canadian market with numerous top 10 songs like “I Be U Be” reaching the #1 spot. Today, High Valley is currently signed with Atlantic Records and are making a major impact in the US market. High Valley’s style takes some of the traditional elements of country music and blends it with a modern spin. High Valley have recently just finished their first headline tour with Sirius XM The Highway and are looking for an even more successful 2018.

Notable Songs: “Make You Mine,” “The Only” and “She’s With Me”

Mike Ryan

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Ryan is a San Antonio, Texas native and has been having a successful career in the Texas music scene with multiple #1 singles on the Texas Music Chart. Ryan has been featured as a “Highway Find” on Sirius XM’s The Highway with his song “Sad Song.” Ryan released his third studio album titled, Blink You’ll Miss It, which features the lead single “New Hometown.” Ryan is an avid touring artist playing over 100 shows per year, securing him a devoted fan following. Ryan’s voice is pure and the epitome of the what country music is, look for Ryan to have breakout success in this upcoming year.

Notable Songs: “New Hometown,”Damn Good Goodbye” and “Other Side of the Radio”

Smithfield

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Smithfield is made up of members Jennifer Fiedler and Trey Smith, who happen to be childhood friends. Fiedler and Smith did not foresee themselves forming the duo, as they both ventured into their own solo careers before rekindling just a few years ago. Today, Smithfield is one of the hottest duos in the Nashville music scene. Smithfield’s latest single, “When You’re Gone,”  has been featured on Sirus XM’s The Highway along with their previous single “Hey Whiskey.” Smithfield also went on the road back this past year on The Highway Finds tour with Steve Moakler. Smithfield is currently working on new music which is slated for release in the new year.

Check out our interview with them!

Meet Country Duo Smithfield + Watch An Acoustic Performance of “When You’re Gone”

Notable Songs: “Hey Whiskey,” “You Don’t Know” and “Good Ol’ Days”

Bailey Bryan

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Bryan was just recently inducted as a member of CMT’s Next Women of Country class of 2018 and is looking for a breakout year. Bryan released her debut EP, So Far, earlier in 2017. Bryan also had her first tour exposure when she hit the road with Dan + Shay on their Obsessed Tour. Bryan has also hit the road with Chris Lane on his Take Back Home Tour in the last quarter of this year. Bryan is looking to set herself apart with her distinctive vocals and lyrical style, with hopes of breaking out in 2018.

Check out our photo gallery of Bailey Bryan at Route 91!

Notable Songs: “Own It,” “Hard Drive Home” and “Life Goes On”

Brandon Lay

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Lay is a Jackson, Tennessee native and has been starting to make an impact in the industry. Lay signed with EMI Records back in early 2016 and he released his debut single, Speakers, Bleachers and Preachers,” in the summer of 2017. Lay has opened for Old Dominion and is slated to open for Kenny Chesney starting in April of 2018. Lay likes to describe his style as a cross between eighties country and nineties rock, clearly defining his own sound. Lay is currently working on his debut album, in hopes to release it in the near future.

Notable Songs: “Speakers, Bleachers and Preachers,” “Let It” and “Wilder Horses”

Jordan Davis

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Davis is a Shreveport, LA native who moved to Nashville after being influenced from his brother to take the chance. A few years late, Davis signed with UMG Nashville and is currently working on his debut album. Davis released his debut single, “Singles You Up,” in May of 2017. “Singles You Up” has flown up the charts and is currently on it’s way to the top 20 of the airplay charts, with no signs of slowing down. Davis recently finished opening for Kip Moore on his “Please the Fifth Tour” late this year and is looking to keep the momentum going into 2018.

Notable Songs: “Singles You Up,” “Slow Dance in a Parking Lot” and “Take It From Me”

Abby Anderson

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At only 20 years old, Anderson has already begun to burst onto the scene in 2017. Anderson signed a record deal with Black River Entertainment back in February of this year. Anderson released her debut single, “This Feeling,” this past September. Anderson also had the opportunity to open for Kelsea Ballerini and she is currently working on her debut album. Anderson also was inducted to CMT’s Next Women of Country for 2018 and is looking to build off of this success.

Notable Song: “This Feeling”

Spotify Playlist of the Artists Featured

Take A Trip Back to the “Wild West” with Runway June

Country music trio, Runaway June, have just recently released their latest song “Wild West.” Naomi CookeHannah Mulholland and Jennifer Wayne formed the trio after a write together that was formed out of chance and now are a part of Wheelhouse Records.

 

 

Runaway June’s debut single “Lipstick” had a successful run on country radio (making the top 25) and they are looking forward to release their debut album in the upcoming future.

Wow what a night Wichita!!!! We are in such a high!!!!!!!! #LoveMeLikeTheWildWest

A post shared by Runaway June (@runawayjuneofficial) on

 

“Wild West” Song Review

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“Wild West” is a love song that pays homage to the late John Wayne, who just happens to be Wayne’s grandfather. Wayne has always wanted to write a song that included her grandfather and the rest is history. “Wild West” is an organic love song that draws connections to western times when lovers would ride off into the sunset on horseback. The western imagery is prevalent throughout the song with the lyrics describing older times:

Love me like the wild, wild, wild west / Ride me off in the sunset / Outlaws making a run for it / Well come on boy, be my cowboy / Keep me by your side all night / Hold me tight / Like a pearl-handle .45 / And just let me be the whiskey on your breath / Love me like the wild, wild, wild, west

 

With Cooke at the forefront, her vocals are a blast from the past etching the setting of the song with Mulholland and Wayne providing the echoing harmonies that leaves listeners in a trance. The backing track includes the traditional steel guitar with a fiddle, that perfectly sets the mood of the song and paints the picture that Runaway June sets to create with their lyrics with every stroke of the brush. What is then formed is a masterful piece of art that will have listeners playing the song over and over again. The imagery of the wild west is continued throughout the song:

I wanna feel like we jumped a train to Santa Fe / Like we’re desperadoes, making our getaway / Wanna hideaway on some prairie / Underneath the blanket of stars / And just get lost in your arms

“Wild West” concludes with, “Baby you could steal my heart like Jesse James or go out guns blazing just like old John Wayne.” Overall, “Wild West” is a song that listeners all around will be able to connect with and will be able to feel the emotion throughout. “Wild West” offers a little something for every type of listener, old and young. There is something undeniably special about Runaway June, with vocals that have not been heard in many years, offering a fresh voice to the modern country music scene. Runaway June is forging their sound and presence that will propel them to the top of the charts in the near future. Runway June is a force to be reckoned with and will continue on creating a lot of noise, only intensifying in sound as time goes on.

Watch Runaway June Perform “Wild West”

Kalie Shorr ‘Slingshots’ Into 2017 With Her Brand New EP

Back in 2016, Kalie Shorr released her debut EP that was crowdfunded last year and is looking to breakthrough in 2017. Shorr had a successful 2016 with her debut single, “Fight Like A Girl,” which received significant airplay on Sirius XM’s The Highway. Shorr was also featured as a Highway Find and earned a spot to play at the CMA Music Festival Kick Off Concert during CMA Fest in 2016. Shorr is currently playing every Monday night at Song Suffragettes along with other female songwriters in Nashville. Today, Shorr has just released her second EP titled, Slingshot, which features Shorr’s undeniable talent along with songs that listeners will be playing over and over.

Slingshot EP Review

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Slingshot features two singles; “Fight Like A Girl” and “He’s Just Not That Into You,” along with three new songs. The first new song on the EP is titled, “Nothin’ New.” Shorr co-wrote the song with Emily Landis and Lacy Green in a unique way. Back in the summer of 2016, the three were randomly paired up during a Song Suffragettes event with YouTube, where they had to write a song with one another under a time crunch. What came from this was a raw and emotional song about a breakup that just always seems to linger around no matter what you try to do. The chorus echos these thoughts into song form:

Since the beginning / Since the world started spinning / It’s just a matter of fact / Girls want boys that don’t want them back / I’m just being honest, don’t matter what you call it / The sun still shines the sky’s still blue / You don’t want me and I love you / But that ain’t nothing new

Watch The “He’s Just Not That Into You” Music Video

 

Shorr’s strong vocals tie together the lyrics with the meaning behind the song, which will leave listeners with everlasting impression. The next song on the EP is titled, “Love Like That,” which Shorr co-wrote with Jason Afable and Eric Mallon. The song is inspired from an old relationship Shorr had back in high school where the guy was totally clueless on what it means to love someone. This leaves Shorr with the question, where did you learn to love like that?

Where you learn to break apart, somebody’s heart / Take the piece you want right off / Where you learn to make them fall and never call / Only want to get yours and get lost

 

The song is not one of those sad breakup songs, but one about that one (or many) relationships where the guy doesn’t seem to understand the relationship. The song itself is upbeat and is not meant to be a dreary song, but instead questions the guy’s understanding of love and who taught him how to express it. It is a song that many will be able to connect with and can share similar stories.

The final song on the EP is titled, “Odds Are.” This song is the most country-pop infused track on the EP, but it is done in a way where the lyrics and message are still authentic. The chorus explains:

The odds are that we probably will be alright / I doubt we gonna be alright / I doubt we gonna be alright tonight / The odds are that we will probably be alright / I doubt we gonna be alright / I doubt we gonna be alright for another night

 

“Odds Are” you will be blaring this song through the speakers every chance you get, singing along with Shorr to the best of your ability. The clever lyrics describe situations of high-odds like being struck by lightning or a meteorite and explaining that even if the situation that you are in seams grim, odds are it will be alright. The song showcases Shorr’s dynamic vocal versatility to be able to sing any type of song without sacrificing any of her talent and what is born is a pop track transformed into a country song.

 

Altogether, Shorr’s latest EP is one that will bring in new fans with her unforgettable sound and lyrical quality that sets her a part from other artists. Shorr’s personality shines through each and every song, which allows them to more easily connect with fans. Shorr’s vocals are also top-notch and noticeably different from anyone else, creating her own unique sound with her personal twist on each song. Shorr, for sure, will be on everyone’s playlist and music libraries and keep them wanting more and she is well on her way on making 2017 her biggest year yet. Be sure to keep up with Shorr on social media and be on the look out for when she is in an area near you.

Purchase Slingshot on iTunes

Kalie Shorr – Slingshot EP