PRESS CONF: Rascal Flatts Joins Big Machine Record Label

During a "Pinnacle" moment from the 22nd floor of the gorgeous Pinnacle Building downtown Nashville and with the amazing view of the cityscape background behind him, Big Machine President/CEO Scott Borchetta announced that Rascal Flatts ( Gary LeVox (lead vocals), Jay DeMarcus (bass guitar, vocals), and JoeDon Rooney (lead guitar, vocals) would be the latest addition to the Big Machine family. A new album called Nothing Like This, produced by Dann Huff, is due out November 16. The first single “Why Wait,” written by Neil Thrasher, Tom Shapiro and Jimmy Yeary, is being released to radio today.

The trio’s most recent album, Unstoppable, was their last with Disney-owned Lyric Street Records. The Rascal Flatts catalog will remain with the Disney Music Group. There is no official word on the status of remaining Lyric Street staff.

“Rascal Flatts are the biggest band in country music and we’re honored and thrilled to have them join the Big Machine Records family,” said Big Machine Records founder/CEO Scott Borchetta. “While they are celebrating the first ten years together I selfishly can’t wait to start on their next ten years. They have made a fantastic new album and they are completely energized and ready to take on not only the US but also the rest of the world. Why wait?”
“We are extremely excited about our new partnership with Big Machine Records,” says Rascal Flatts bassist Jay DeMarcus. “We believe that Scott Borchetta and all of the folks over there are a perfect fit for what Rascal Flatts is trying to accomplish over the next few years. The last 10 years have been amazing but we are even more excited out the next phase of our career; Scott understands us, he knows what we’re about and it’s always a wonderful thing to have someone who believes in you and your music that much in your corner.”

For more photos of the press conference as well as the view of the city visit

REVIEW: Laura Dodd Industry Showcase

Tuesday July 20th, Laura Dodd wow'd the music industry with a special invitation only showcase. Special guests from Music Row, media, family and friends enjoyed a six song set on the world famous stage of the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville, TN. Included in the set list were several tunes penned by Dodd "My Fellow Gypsy Friend", "Songbird", and "Spread My Wings". Also included were songs co-written by Dodd and Tom Walker "Daddy's In The Garden" and "Alabama Blues", as well as a Jesse Alexander tune titled "Unfulfilled".

It only takes a few notes of Laura Dodd’s singing to recognize that you’re hearing the next classic Country voice.

A native of Gadsden, AL, Laura acquired her passion for music early, hearing the a capella voices in the Church of Christ. With that as a foundation, as well as experience with various live ensembles and vocal coaches, Laura has entered the Country market with a spare, unique and highly original sound that blends traditional front-porch Country with Blues, Bluegrass, and even hints of Jazz. Laura has shared stages with the likes of Rascal Flatts, Patty Loveless, Bruce Hornsby, Josh Turner, and Ben Vereen. Her rendition of Sam Gay and Scott and Carolyn Parker’s “WOW” reached 54 on Music Row’s Country Music Breakout chart, without the benefit of a major label promotion.

Laura’s most recent release, “Songbird,” stands alone in the market, using only the barest of acoustic guitar or piano-driven arrangements. Laura’s voice harkens back to the great crooners of old. The single is the theme song of the film "Dandy Kids," a documentary about children living with Dandy Walker Syndrome. Laura also recently performed this song on Capitol Hill to help raise awareness of the disease.

Currently featured in a film titled "The Goal" gives Laura an opportunity to showcase her acting abilities and can be seen performing her song "Where Eagles Fear," co-written by Keith Perry.

You can hear and see Laura live on her website or on’s viral Internet video network.

Additional photos can be seen of the showcase at

INTERVIEW: Joe Nichols "Gimme That Girl"

Show Dog - Universal Music Artist, Joe Nichols and ASCAP writer Ben Hayslip were recognized and presented with #1 plaques at ASCAP on Monday June 14th for "GIMME THAT GIRL". Also on hand were BMI Co-writers Rhett Akins and Dallas Davidson. Published by Mellisa's Money Music, THIS Music and Warner / Chappell Music. Country Radio Broadcasters (CRB) also presented #1 plaques in recognition of the hit song.

Prior to the celebration I sat down with Joe Nichols to visit about his music and personal feelings about the song.

Q: What was it like watching that clock waiting for this record to go to number one? I know you have had number ones before, but it took quite awhile for this one to go from the debut to number one.

A: I do not think there was ever a moment with this record with this song that I thought we were in trouble. You always have those scary moments when you think the song is going to be dead in fifteen or twenty. But with this song I always thought it had life. I need to say that I pray about my life and my career and I prayed about this song. So I think this song is a gift, truly, from God. So I think having that confidence in a big old God that I believe in helped. Not saying that every time out of the gate we will get a number one song because we asked for it; but this time I feel like He blessed us and it was very nice to see that every week that it continued to build. The fans were reacting the way you always want fans to react to a song. And to watch it grow bigger every week, passing other records that I felt were very strong, it was very gratifying. It says a lot about this song, and I felt good from day one.

Q: Which do you prefer; a song that goes number one in thirteen weeks and then a few weeks later it is kind of on its way down or one like this that slowly simmers and gains a little bit more strength each week?

A: Well, in a perfect world you always prefer to have those songs that get to number one in fourteen weeks because that way you can have more of them. This song was about twenty eight weeks on the charts before it went to number one. So you are talking about two songs in a year. So if things go well, you could have two number one hits in the same year. If you cut that in half, you could have four in a year. But in bigger business terms I think a big huge swelling song, the slow burn approach, it takes twenty five or thirty weeks to get to number one, those tend to be the bigger songs. They sell the most records, because in order for a song to take that long to get to number one, you have more than just a great promotion stuff. You have to have the fan connection, plus a lot of other stuff and not what radio thinks of this song. All those things combined usually makes for an enormous song, which this turned out to be for me. They both have their ups. I would take a number one over a number two any day of the week and it does not matter if it is fourteen or fifty weeks.

Q: You said you prayed a lot about this song, when you make a song selection, what criteria do you keep in the back of your mind?

A: My first indicator is my gut. What does my gut tell me about this song? Because my gut is like anybody else’s instinct out there that listens to a song for the first time. What does it do to me the first time? Do I not feel anything at all? Do I feel like there is potential there? Then we can roll with it. Do I feel like this song offends me? Then it probably is going to offend somebody else. Do I feel like I love this song, am I passionate about this song? Then it is a good chance other people will react that way too. The thing I have to do most of the time is not think my way out of or into anything. I can hear a song on any given day and think twelve things about it. And I can hear the same song the following week and think twelve different things about it. So therefore I always try to rely on my gut as much as possible because it is usually right.

Q: Do you have anyone that you can bounce the songs off of to help you make the decision?

A: If I really feel strongly about a song, and I want to make sure I am not being bull headed about something, if I really feel passionate about something, I will ask Heather what she things about it. Am I being ridiculous in thinking that that is a massive song? And she will usually tell me what her gut says. If I cannot trust my guy I will trust hers.

Q: What is it about the song that actually resonated with the fans?

A: Well, I think first the melody catches you. That is the first step. That is the introduction. By all accounts, the melody is what you hear first. You do not really pay attention to the lyrics as far as the casual listener to the radio goes. And then after that I think comes the lyric; a clever, likeable lyric that does not offend anybody. It actually caters to women and it is a cute way of saying “ hey, the things that you do not like about yourself I find incredibly attractive. So you are attractive one hundred percent of the time. Just so you know.” Well what woman does not like to hear that? So, it is a good lyric, a clever lyric that is very endearing to women, with the melody which is the introduction that hooks you. So, all those things usually make it a big hit. It worked for us!

Q: Did you have any friendship with the songwriters before you heard the song “Gimmie That Girl”? Or how did this song come to you?

A: We were already in the process of making this record when I heard “Gimmie That Girl”. It came through the A & R Department at the time . So when Mark Wright sent me the song, I believe he e-mailed it to me, said to check this out. He thought it was good. I heard it and I thought, “Let’s put this in the pile of short list of songs we going in to cut in a week or two. There were probably seven or eight songs and we would probably take four or five. So when we got there that day, I remember sitting down Indian-style on the floor and looked at these songs spread out on the floor. And it’s like, okay, we got this one, this one and this one. Alright, which ones are you kind of iffy about and which ones are you absolutely sure you are going to cut? That was the first one. So let’s put this one over here. So we have like six left, you know? That is how “Gimmie That Girl” started. I thought it was too good to pass on. We had to do it. It just felt right. And I think Mark had already agreed long before that. He said “oh, that is a given.” It was good to get that unanimous kind of feeling about it. You know, sometimes, one guy has to talk another into something. Or two guys have to work on the other third.

Q: Hearing you talk it seems that it is not just about you, Joe Nichols. It is about the team around you. How good do you feel about the record label change in the past few months?

A: Well, I will say this. For me, there were some scary moments as far as the transition goes because when you see a record perform like “Gimmie That Girl” did, over the course of the record , you see it perform week in and week out, you know we have a big hit here! And then something as drastic, something as big as the label is merging with another label , there is going to be some completely new chemistry. The staff is going to be half old, half new, or maybe even mostly new, some old. When all that stuff changes, you think “Wow! This is going to disrupt everything!” I think the true credit lies in the transitional period. With the new team coming in and saying, “I am not going to mess this up. I realize what we have here and I am going to take this and put all of our energy behind it and give it its full potential or try to reach its full potential. We’ll do everything we can to make this happen.” I think there were a lot of people at Universal South that contributed to making this song number one for the first half of the record. They did everything they could to get it to a certain point. Then after that, like I said, true credit belongs to Showdog Universal for picking it up, realizing that we were in a tough situation with the transition, putting all their energy and effort behind it. They realized that it was too good to pass up, that they needed to make this happen. They had an opportunity.

Q: My question is more along the personal line, but when you realize that you have a number one, how do you celebrate it?

A: Nowdays, I think a simple little high five! Personally, with my wife, there is “Explicative---Yes!” That is usually what we do. Then we start planning other things. And moving on. I think internally the celebration is (clasps his hands) “Thank you Lord, for blessing me big time. This is much more than I could ever ask for--much more than I deserve”. So that is probably the celebration initially. And then we have parties like this where they serve you awesome food and people can talk to you and make you feel special.

Q: Did this song make the usual music row rounds where it was sent to different people or did you get hold of it first?

A: You know, I am not sure but I do not think it made its way around. I think we heard it pretty quickly after it was demo-ed. I am not sure how quickly but I do not think it made its way around. I think possibly one artist but I am not sure.

Q: Have you ever thought of doing an album of standards or classics?

A: You know that is funny but I talked about it just the other day, not only talked about the idea of doing a classic country album but as you mentioned, standards. Standard standards, like jazz maybe. Or classical . But we just talked about it as something way on down the road if we were given the opportunity. Of course everything costs money now days and that has to be a factor . But yes, we definitely had those conversations. It is definitely something I want to do.

Q: Social Media; how important is that in the marketing process

A: Well, the management company that I work with, Triple A, have great thinkers, they think outside of the box. They have a keen sense of how to include people in other ways than just radio. Of course there is a heavy involvement with radio, that is our number one priority. But to go along with and to partner with, other things ----to make sure the fans are involved on a much more personal level rather than just hearing a song on the radio and going and buying the record. The more fan involvement we have in the building process in this hit and hopefully others to come, I think that the more the fans, the audience, the listeners , the more personal we make it, the more one on one we make it, the more interaction we have with them , I think the more invested they feel. And we all know that this is an investment by the fans or we would not be here. I think it is important we do a lot of leg work and make sure we reach the masses in as many creative ways that we can. One of those ways is having contests. Certain contests and certain web interactions like those web casts we do to make sure that the fans get to know me and feel like they are a part of the building process. So that they feel like they are investing in what I do.

Q: Talk about the new single that is coming.

A: The next single is called “The Shape I’m In”. It was written by the same three guys who wrote “Gimmie That Girl”. We firmly believe in the motto “If it ain’t broke --”. If it is working, it is working for a reason. The chemistry is right, the writers know what they are doing. The producer knows what he is doing. Our job is to just not think about it too much. And get out of the way.

Q: You mentioned the fans and their interaction etc. Do you enjoy Facebook and Twitter?

A: Yes, sometimes a funny thought will strike me and I think that people enjoy some not-so-standard humor. You know, funny things happen on the road and funny things happen at home. I think it is another part of letting people in to see me in everyday situations. It lets them see some of the funny ways we interact with the fans and letting every one know that they are involved with me and the building process.

Well, thank you, Joe. Good to see you again. And thank you for continuing to bring us great music!

For additional photographs of the #1 Party at ASCAP for “Gimme That Girl” visit

REVIEW: Little Big Town Ride For A The Cure

Over 500 bikers attended the fourth annual Little Big Town Ride for the Cure over the weekend in Nashville. The event was founded by the band to raise money for the Frances Williams Preston laboratories at the city's Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

The day's events included a ride, an auction for a signed guitar and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and a concert featuring Little Big Town, Luke Bryan, Josh Thompson and the Band Perry.

"All of our families have been touched by cancer. Maybe we saved a life today," Little Big Town's Kimberly Schlapman told reporters at the event.

Bandmember Phillip Sweet, who rode in the event, explained that riding "helps you clear your mind." He added that riding a motorcycle is fun, "especially when you have the wind and the surroundings and the smells of outside, you're not focused on anything but just riding. It's therapeutic and relaxing. I really enjoy it."

Performances by Cali Rodi, Brett Eldridge and Randy Montans began at 8:30 at the Tin Roof during the registration and pre-ride activities. Post ride performances in Columbia included hosts Little Big Town, Luke Bryan, Randy Hauser, Josh Thompson, and The Band Perry.

The event was emceed by Storme Warren who aided introductions of the performers and special VIP guests and the live auction.

For more information on the event visit

All proceeds from Ride for a Cure benefit the T.J. Martell Foundation:

The T.J. Martell Foundation is dedicated to funding cutting-edge, bench to bedside research nationwide at eight top cancer and AIDS research facilities. Since its inception 35-years ago, the T. J. Martell Foundation has raised more than $240 million toward groundbreaking and innovative leukemia, cancer and AIDS research. T.J. Martell-funded research has contributed to numerous important breakthroughs and advances in the treatment of these deadly diseases.

Additional photos of the event can be viewed at

REVIEW: Blake Shelton at Winstar Casino

I consider myself not only a lover of country music, but also someone who truly appreciates artists at every level, but especially the who not only play the music, but feel it too. Winstar Casino in Thackerville, OK blessed me with two artists that fit that bill, Roger Craeger and Blake Shelton.
I have to preface this review by saying there has only been one other occasion when the music affected me the way it did at this particular venue. The last time was on a stormy night in Padre Island, TX and the artist was Garth Brooks. I realized back then, as the rain fell on my face, that the reason I was there was because of the music, and the music is and was so much more compelling than the face on stage. The music would live on long beyond the person performing it, all I had to do was listen.
Roger Craeger, a Texas music songwriter and singer whom I never consciously heard of before this performance opened the show. I was immediately drawn to his musical talent and his ability to perform for the crowd. Likely best known for his hit “The Everclear Song”, Craeger pays the trumpet, piano and harmonica simultaneously while delivering a soul felt performance. Influenced by artist such as Robert Earl Keen and Jerry Jeff Walker, Craeger delivered an upbeat opening act that included “I’m From the Beer Joint”, “The Everclear Song” and the ballet “Late Night Case of the Blues”.
What do opening acts usually perform, 6-9 songs? Well, whatever the final count was, I know Roger Craeger left that performance with at least two new devoted fans.
“It’s All About Tonight” was the opening number for Blake Shelton, an excellent precursor to what lie ahead. Blake delivered on this songs premise, making his performance special for this mostly Oklahoman crowd. The opening song was followed by “Some Beach” and “Kiss My Country Ass”. These three back to back hits brought the crowd to life.
Blake delivered a nice mixture of down home country songs and beautiful country ballads the way only Blake can do, packaged with a lot of humor and wrapped up with a whole lot of heart. Songs like “Just Hold On”, “You’ll Always Be Beautiful”, a Conway Twitty cover of “It’s Goodbye Time” (also on Blake’s Barn & Grill CD), and “I Drink”.
Blake shared with the crowd that he borrowed his brother-in-laws truck to take a few hours and go visit his farm just up the road. While he was there he wrote a poem and shared it with the crowd. I’d share the poem but it’s not suitable for print. It sure had the crowd laughing. When he was done reading the poem from the piece of paper he pulled from his back pocket he gave it to a woman on the front row.
Of course he performed the hit that introduced us to Blake Shelton, “Austin”. It was during his performance of “Home” that I had my “just close your eyes and listen” moment. His version of that song is by far the best there is. (Move over Michael Buble – love your sound, but Blake owns this one!)
The encore was by far the funniest and best ever. He was trying to play to the crowd with his cover of Rupert Holmes “The Pina Colada Song”. When he didn’t get the reaction he expected it occurred to him that he was in Oklahoma with a bunch of rednecks who would clearly relate to “Hill Billy Bone”. The crowd went wild for this hit. It was a perfect ending to a perfect night.

Dallas TX Correspondent Kathy Wheeler

REVIEW: Luke Bryan at Billy Bob's

Billy Bob's in Fort Worth, Texas plays host to many of country's biggest stars and Saturday July 10th, 2010 was no exception when Luke Bryan was in town.

Billy Bob's was the place to be on Saturday night, Luke Bryan drew a crowd of all ages. Luke, donning a baseball cap and vintage Billy Bob's "Buck Off" t-shirt, prepared for the show back stage by ingesting Red Bull and visiting with a large group of family members before opening his 2 plus hour show to a sea of fans all on their feet for the performance of "Doin My Thing".

Luke's boyish charm, infectious smile and obvious love for country music served as the foundation for a show that featured many of his chart toppers including, "Do I", "All My Friends Say" and "Country Man". Throughout his performance, Luke interacted with the over zealous crowd by taking personal notes from fans and entertaining with signature dance moves that included a timely wiggle when delivering the line "whiskey makes my baby feel a little frisky" during "Rain Is a Good Thing".

Solid vocals and his playful on stage demeanor speak directly to the crowd and serve as a testament to Luke's strong bond with his roots and his fans. Covering songs like One Republic's "Apologize", and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's "Fishing In The Dark" demonstrate Luke's depth as a performer and cement his traditionalist style.

Luke's performance delivered a balanced mix of catchy, fun party songs and heartfelt ballads. The entire show kept the audience in anticipation of what was next and left them wanting more. Luke Bryan is definitely a country artist to be reckoned with and one that Billy Bob's and his Texas fans will welcome back with open arms.

Review: Digital Rodeo Dallas Correspondent Kat Wheeler
Photo Credit: Darren Wheeler