Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Amy Allen's CD "Someday Is Today" Now Available

Congratulations to... Amy Allen, whose new CD of 11 original songs is now available at iTunes (digital download) and CD Baby (CD).

The album includes the hit single, "Someday Is Today", which is currently in the Top 50 of the New Music Weekly Country Main chart. 

"Someday Is Today" at CD Baby: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/amyallen 

Please listen and let Amy know what you think (with a testimonial) at http://www.TheAmyAllen.com.

Monday, September 23, 2013

'Tunesmithing' to Return on Oct. 15 with 'Kick-off Show' at The Row Kitchen & Pub

By Chuck Whiting
MCAU Editor

            NASHVILLE, Tenn. (September 2013) -- The monthly "Tunesmithing" songwriters showcase will return on Oct. 15 (Tuesday) to The Row Kitchen & Pub with a "kick-off show" starring Orleans co-founder Lance Hoppen, the hit Americana duo Nancy Moran & Fett, and internationally known World Music artist Laura Powers.

            "Tunesmithing", which is celebrating its 11th year, will occur the third Tuesday of each month with a hit/professional songwriters segment from 8-9:30 p.m., followed by an emerging songwriters segment from 9:30-10:30 p.m.  The Row Kitchen & Pub is located at 110 Lyle Ave. at the former site of Longhorn's (near Music Row).

(Photo: Lance Hoppen)

           Performing on Oct. 15 will be

            * Hit/Professional Songwriters Segment (8-9:30 p.m.): Lance Hoppen, Nancy Moran & Fett, and Laura Powers.

            * Emerging Songwriters Segment (9:30-10:30 p.m.): Tay Barton, The House, Brad Howard, Jaime Nelson, and Tommy Turner.

            Admission is free. Snacks and beverages will be available for purchase. Publicist Chuck Whiting and comedian Paulina Combow will emcee the show. Songwriter/audio engineer AJ Bigler will handle sound. "Tunesmithing" is sponsored by Whiting Publicity & Promotions, Music City Arts Update, and Shine Time Records and Books. Other upcoming shows include Nov. 19 (Amy Allen) and Dec. 17 (Lisa Aschmann).

           "Tunesmithing" was founded in 2003 to spotlight emerging, professional and hit songwriters. The event offers mentoring, career growth and networking opportunities for tunesmiths at all levels. 

(Photo: Nancy Moran)

           "We have a wonderful lineup of songwriters for our return show," said show founder Chuck Whiting of Whiting Publicity and Promotions. "It's very exciting to have The Row Kitchen & Pub hosting each month. The building where the venue is located has been a gathering place for songwriters for many years."
            For more information about "Tunesmithing", call (615) 423-9857, write Info@Tunesmithing.com, or visit http://www.Tunesmithing.com.


CD Review: Amy Allen's 'Someday Is Today' Offers Colorful Mixture of Country, Pop and Americana

(Editor's Note: Amy Allen's new CD, "Someday Is Today", will be released on Sept. 24. Amy will celebrate with a CD release party and concert at The Row Kitchen & Pub in Nashville on Sept. 26. The first single from the album recently hit the Top-50 of the New Music Weekly Country Main Chart.)

By Scott Johnson
MCAU Assistant Editor

It’s not easy to put Amy Allen in a musical box. Her second CD, “Someday is Today,” is a colorful mixture of country, pop, Americana and the blues. It’s also the perfect soundtrack for the new season. This release is unique in its joyfulness and hopeful attitude. Even the album artwork has the artist smiling and embracing her guitar. It’s clear that Amy is re-energized after returning from a musical hiatus and wants to share that excitement in her music. The album is even more personal as all 11 songs were either written or co-written by the artist. Amy’s positive attitude is most clearly revealed through the first single “Someday is Today.” This catchy earworm of a song will not leave your head for days! It’s no surprise that the song is gaining airplay across the country and in Europe. This is an anthem for chasing your dreams.

            Another standout is “Josie Rae,” a song written about Amy’s daughter. It has an undeniable hook and joy oozes out in every note. The artist knows some of her listeners might not have kids, but they can connect with the feeling of joy that another person can bring.

The album has something for everyone, including heartbreaking ballads. “Cryin’ Time” allows Allen a chance to show off her emotional vocals. She pours out all the feeling into the lyrics:

I get the cryin’ time
I get to feel that sting inside
From where the nagging memories don’t seem to fade
I’m the one who feels the pain
I get the cryin’ time

            This Patsy Cline-esque ballad is the kind of classic that will stand the test of time.  

            Amy’s influences can easily be heard in sassy songs such as “Thought of Being Alone.” This song would not be out of place on a Bonnie Raitt or Wynonna album. Meanwhile “Abbey Lane” is a song any Beatles fan would enjoy. It is full of Beatles references, and it’s fun to pick all of them out. From "Penny Lane" to "Abbey Road", there’s a lot for Beatleheads to find!

“Someday is Today” is hopefully the first of many musical offerings from the talented El Dorado, Ark., songwriter/artist. Don’t call it a comeback. This time Amy Allen has truly arrived, and Nashville is more than ready for her musical take over.

            Amy’s album, “Someday is Today”, is now available at iTunes and other major online retailers.

            Learn more about the artist and her music at http://www.TheAmyAllen.com.

Monday, September 16, 2013

MCAU Artist Spotlight: Country Rock Band Leather & Lace

By Chuck Whiting
MCAU Editor

            Leather & Lace is a family oriented country rock band in Clarion, Pa., featuring veteran musicians Andrew Weckerly, Darla Weckerly-Warren, David Weckerly, and Bill Warren. After opening for Colt Ford with standing ovations at the Washington County Fair near Pittsburgh, they are on their way to local, regional and national success.

            The Weckerlys founded Leather & Lace in 2011 to continue a storied family tradition that started with musical grandfathers in the Allegheny foothills of Pennsylvania. They bring heart, grit and soul to the stage with hints of Zac Brown Band and Little Big Town -- yet with a passionate, high-energy country rock sound that is all their own.

            Leather & Lace immediately began to receive major bookings and radio airplay after its first album, "Family Tree", was released in 2013. The project, which was produced in Nashville by Kim Copeland, includes original songs about romance, temptation, heartbreak, faith and forgiveness. The band has already performed at noted venues such as the Washington County (Pa.) Fair, the Canfield (Ohio) Fair, and the Peek'n Peak Resort & Spa in Clymer, N.Y. Selections from the project, including the title cut, are receiving radio airplay.

            "Our song, 'Family Tree', pretty much represents what we're all about," said David Weckerly, who was more than happy to join his brother and sister, members of the former duo Southwind. "We depend on each other during good and hard times, performing our music to celebrate, heal, and just let loose. That's the way it's always been in our family. Our love of country, music and faith in God pours out with every performance."

            Three lead vocals and expert instrumentation add depth and variety to the band's live performances. Andrew plays guitar; Darla plays piano, mandolin and violin; David plays bass, banjo; and Bill plays drums and percussion. Their one-of-a-kind mix of originals and country classics encourage and entertain fans of all ages. Soaring vocal harmonies, weaving melodies, and thought-provoking lyrics bring "real stories" to life.

            The band's one to three-hour shows include popular originals from the album such as "Family Tree", "Red" "Rain on the Windshield", "Ready to Fall" and "If I Run". Audiences also enjoy creatively arranged covers such as "Toes"/Zac Brown Band, "Pontoon"/Little Big Town, "Whenever You Come Around"/Vince Gill, "Folsom Prison Blues"/Johnny Cash, "Down South Jukin'"/Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Seven Bridges Road"/Eagles, and "Copperhead Road"/Steve Earl.

            The act is receiving rave reviews from music industry professionals across the nation.

            "Leather & Lace is an outstanding band," says Jeff Lash, a board member for the Washington County (Pa.) Fair. "They sound awesome and harmonize second to none. They are a very easy band to work with. They came ready to play and had a great interaction with the crowd. They did an excellent job opening for Colt Ford."

            "This band is destined for greatness," notes Nashville producer Kim Copeland. "The vocals are powerful, the harmonies are infectious, and the songs are hits. They are a triple threat in every way. Three distinctive lead singers with a sibling blend both excite and astound. Leather & Lace has great musicians and performers as well."

            "I get to listen to lots of new country artists as part of my job," says Bill Hughes, host of the "Rising Stars" show for radio stations Y 99.5-FM, 101.7 WJSQ-FM and WYGO-AM in Tennessee. "Listening to Leather & Lace's new album, 'Family Tree', is pure pleasure from beginning to end, and I'll be sharing every track with my 'Rising Stars' listeners. My prediction is that the band is going to enjoy a very large family of new fans real soon."

            All of the band members carry life-changing family and musical experiences to Leather & Lace.

            Andrew, Darla and David tear up when they talk about their grandfathers, Lawrence "Babe" Elmadollar and "Stormin'" Norman Weckerly. Impromptu performances by the coal miners at backwoods music gatherings in the 1930s eventually led to a courtship between "Babe's" daughter, Lorraine, and "Stormin's" son, Darl.

            The Weckerly music legacy continued when the three grandkids backed up "Babe" on a weekly radio program. Andrew and Darla later pursued a 15-year career as members of the popular country duo Southwind, playing venues across the region. Darla also teaches music for a youth correctional facility.

            Venturing out on his own, David served as a lead soloist for the Penn State University Choir and later as the co-producer of the CD, "Neon Skies", a collaboration with his brother Andrew. Ironically, he also has carried on the family tradition in the coal industry as a mechanical engineer for Joy Mining Machinery.

            Darla didn't know it at the time, but her marriage to touring Canadian musician Bill Warren would complete the framework for Leather & Lace.

            More tears (and lyrics) come when the siblings reflect on their mother's miraculous recovery from a life-threatening stroke and the heartbreak of coal mining loved ones who have lost everything. When the four musicians got together to "jam" for the first time, their emotions came pouring out. But leaving their individual music roads behind wasn't easy. Rave reviews from fair operators, fans, friends and family members changed everything. With major performances already under their belts, including a rousing opening for Colt Ford in Pittsburgh, they are ready to make a big impact on the country music scene.

            The act performs at concert venues, fairs, nightclubs, hotels, casinos and festivals. For booking information, contact Leather & Lace by e-mail at Info@LandLRocks.com; by phone at (814) 758-0613 or (814) 221-3295; or by visiting www.LandLRocks.com.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

'Building Bridges Through Art' Exhibition and Silent Auction to Occur in Franklin on Oct. 12

     NASHVILLE, Tenn. (September 2013) – Artist/instructor Gail McDaniel and nine of her student artists will premier original watercolor paintings in a special exhibition benefiting Bridges Domestic Violence Center from Oct. 1-31 at the CharacterEYES Boutique, 407 Church St. in Franklin, Tenn.

(Gail McDaniel's "Sunset Petals")

     The "Building Bridges Through Art" exhibition will feature a reception and silent auction from 6-9 p.m. Oct. 12 (Saturday). During October, the exhibition can be viewed from 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. Art lovers will be able to see paintings by McDaniel and student artists Chris Burns of Nashville; Linda Curb of Nashville; Judy Howell of Columbia, Tenn.; GiGi Mallory of Brentwood, Tenn.; Vikki Nordstrom of Nashville; Billie J. Osborne of Whites Creek, Tenn.; Iris Rotker of Franklin, Tenn.; Terri Tyler of Nashville; and Sandy Weddle of Nashville. 

      The paintings feature breathtaking images of landscapes, animals and people using various watercolor painting techniques. Proceeds from art sales will benefit the Bridges Domestic Violence Center, a domestic abuse shelter in Franklin. Each artist is donating 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of at least one painting. "Building Bridges Through Art" is part of an ongoing series of exhibitions established by CharacterEYES Eyecare and Optical.

 (Iris Rotker's "Stormy Cove")

     McDaniel, who lives in Franklin, has served as an associate member of the Winsor & Newton Creative Artist Network in London, England. From 2001 to 2012, she helped raise more than $90,000 for the arts in area public schools through the "Students and Friends of Gail McDaniel Awards". Workshops and classes led by McDaniel have drawn students from 36 states (including Alaska and Hawaii), the District of Columbia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines and South Korea.  

     For more information about the exhibition, call (615) 599-1800.  To view Mcdaniel's artwork, visit http://www.gailmcdanielart.com.

(Linda Curb's "Pink Water Lillies")

(Gail McDaniel's "Vintage Wines")

(Vikki Nordstrom's "Aspen Afternoon")

(Gail McDaniel's "Serengeti Sunset")

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Amy Allen to Release 'Someday Is Today' CD with Nashville Party and Concert

By Chuck Whiting
MCAU Editor

            NASHVILLE, Tenn. (September 2013) – Amy Allen, a blues-accented country, pop and Americana singer-songwriter who has performed at venues ranging from the White House to the Ryman Auditorium, will celebrate the release of her second album in late September with a CD release party and concert near Music Row in Nashville, Tenn.

            "Someday Is Today" features 11 original songs inspired by real-life experiences. Selections from the project, including the title track, are receiving radio airplay across the U.S., Europe and Australia in advance of the CD's Sept. 24 release date. An invitation-only concert and CD release party for music industry professionals will occur on Sept. 26 near Music Row at The Row Kitchen & Pub, 110 Lyle Ave. Learn more about the artist at http://www.TheAmyAllen.com.

            The artist describes her sound as a versatile mix of blues-accented country, pop and Americana with hints of Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Elton John, and Patsy Cline. She has opened for country acts such as John Conlee, Patty Loveless, and Brooks & Dunn. A preview EP, which was released in August, was named "New and Noteworthy" on the country music page at iTunes.com.

            "Every note I sing or every note or chord I strum is given with all of the love I have for the song I am performing," the former Warner Music Nashville studio singer said. "My voice is the voice of someone who has been down many different roads."

            Recorded in Nashville, "Someday Is Today" offers heartfelt ballads, mid-tempo crowd pleasers, and rock-accented dance numbers. Allen is joined by an all-star cast of Nashville session musicians, including guitarist Scott Neubert, background vocalists Jaimee Paul and Vickie Carrico, electric guitarist Jason Roller, and keyboardist Steve Peffer. The album, which retails for $15, is distributed by Wormwood Records.

            Allen left the music industry in 2001 to raise a family in her hometown of El Dorado, Ark. She is returning to the national stage with the help of noted producer Denny Martin, the Nashville Songwriters Association International, and others. Her concert tour, which will begin in September, will include stops in Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Texas.  She recently performed to a sold-out crowd at the South Arkansas Arts Center in El Dorado, Ark.

            "I produce a lot of artists in my studio, and Amy is truly an original," said Denny Martin, who co-wrote her bluesy ballad, "Cryin' Time". "Her natural-given voice is stunning in its clarity and expressiveness. Her sense of humor and joyful personality come through in her writing and her singing. I consider myself extremely fortunate to know her, to write with her, and to produce her. The world is about to hear what I've been hearing for more than two years."

            Amy's songs are an emotional reflection of what's she's experienced as a singer, songwriter and mother.

            The title cut, "Someday Is Today", was written for individuals who are patiently waiting for their dreams to come true. Allen's passionate alto vocals express the joy of overcoming life's sometimes-difficult road to discover what she's always longed for -- making music to change lives. Her country/pop anthem encourages listeners to believe that anything is possible in a fast-changing world of constant doubt.

            The CD's 10th cut, the moving ballad "Putting the Music Back In Me", expresses love and appreciation to the teenaged girl who encouraged Allen to sing again. She shares a thought-provoking story when introducing the song at her concerts.

             Amy was only 20 years old when she was first "discovered" in an Arkansas honky-tonk by a music industry executive. Her rendition of Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" led her to the footsteps of Shoney's on Music Row and eventually a contract with an independent record label. With stars in her eyes, she recorded her first album with some of Nashville's top musicians.

            Then came heartbreak. At age 22, Amy experienced a mild heart attack after going on a strict diet and losing more than 100 pounds. Although Amy was her ideal weight, she was told she must have plastic surgery to keep her contract. Amy faced a hard decision. She could continue to pursue her dreams under very difficult circumstances or return home to marry and raise a family. As her car climbed the ramp onto Interstate 40, she thought her days as a songwriter and singer in Nashville were over.

            Some years later, while going through a very difficult divorce, Amy heard a 12-year-old girl singing songs from her first album, "Night Vision".

            "It was as simple as that," Amy added. "Somehow, every emotion flooded through my body at that very moment, as well as the first realization that my musical story was not over. I wrote the song as a gift for that teenager. That experience is what led me back to Nashville."

            Allen's role as a loving parent is revealed in "Josie Rae", a mid-tempo country pop song that can easily be renamed to reflect any mother's love for a daughter. The singer-songwriter writes, "You make my world such a wonderful place to stay... Thanks for making everyday for me Mother's Day."

            The artist closes her "Someday Is Today" CD with the rocky, rousing, dance-inspiring "Tailshaker". Allen shows her versatility and ability to just let loose. She feels totally comfortable taking the nightclub stage, growling to her listeners, "I'm a tailshaker, money maker... I'm a woman, I'm an entertainer... I'm in a different town every night... And I bet you think you're my first Mr. Right...."

            Allen joined the Winchesters soon after arriving in Nashville in the 1990s, appearing at tourist bars on Broadway and at festivals in Arkansas and Tennessee. The artist also served as a studio singer for Warner Music Nashville. She has taken the stage as a solo artist at the Statue of Liberty, the White House, the Ryman Auditorium, Disney's Magic Kingdom, Vanderbilt University, and the Garden Hotel in Machakos, Kenya.

            The artist delighted audiences for the first time at age 4 as a singing angel in the children's choir at First Christian Church in her hometown of El Dorado, Ark. With her grandmother's encouragement, she spent her childhood years soaking in recordings by artists such as BB King and The Rolling Stones. She was only 12 when she joined the Down Home Band as a vocalist and pianist, giving her first professional performance at the American Legion Club. The band played dozens of bars across Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. She joined the Ralston Girls country duet at age 15, opening for country artists such as John Conlee, Patty Loveless and Brooks & Dunn. While attending South Arkansas Community College and the University of Arkansas, she sang and played guitar and piano for the band Spare Change.

            Since the release of her first album, "Night Vision", and return to her hometown of El Dorado, Ark., she has performed regularly at Fayrays restaurant; the South Arkansas Arts Center; hundreds of house parties and charity events; Timberlane Health and Rehab; and numerous churches.

            "I can sing the blues as well as put a tear in my beer with country music," Allen noted. "I have been blessed with diversity and the ability to touch people with different musical styles.

            Allen will take her "Someday Is Today Tour" to concert venues, arts centers, nightclubs, art galleries, hotels, casinos, festivals, assisted living centers, and churches.

            The "Someday Is Today" CD will be available beginning Sept. 24 through major online retailers such as iTunes, Sound Cloud and Amazon. An EP featuring the singles "Someday Is Today", "Cryin' Time", and "Josie Rae" is available for download at iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/someday-is-today-single/id677814938?ign-mpt=uo%3D4. A portion of the proceeds from album and concert ticket sales will benefit local non-profit charities that provide the support and resources people need to discover their dreams.

            For more information about the CD or booking Allen for an upcoming event, call (870) 918-4403, send an e-mail message to info@TheAmyAllen.com, or mail correspondence to Wormwood Records, 736 Bodenhamer Drive, El Dorado, AR 71730. To learn more about the artist, visit http://www.TheAmyAllen.com. Media and management-related inquiries may be directed to Arts@WhitingPublicity.com or by calling (615) 423-9857.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Big Kenny Takes Country Music to the Dance Clubs with Electro Shine

By Scott Johnson
MCAU Assistant Editor

(Editor's Note: Scott Johnson has joined Music City Arts Update as an assistant editor. For his first assignment, Scott attended a press conference in Green Hills announcing Big Kenny's new group, Electro Shine.)

           NASHVILLE, Tenn. (September 2013) – Big Kenny, the infamously top-hatted half of country duo Big & Rich, recently opened the doors to his recording studio to offer a sneak peek at his latest out-of-the-box project.

           This time around he aims to take country music to the dance clubs. If you’re thinking of ‘90s era line dancing, think again. Big Kenny’s “passion project” is Electro Shine, a group that fuses acoustic instruments with electro dance music. Yes, we’re talking Bluegrass and glow sticks!

   Earlier this year the group released several singles, including “Dance Upon the Solid Ground” and “Hope Chant.” This week Electro Shine takes a second look at the Big & Rich catalog with the release of the “Party Like Cowboyz/Born Again” single on iTunes. Both songs were originally on last year’s Warner Brothers release “Hillbilly Jedi” and have been remixed by Electro Shine.

   “It’s (Electro Shine) very much done in the whole philosophy of the (Music) Mafia and that is, if there’s greatness; then it should be brought together…,” said Big Kenny. “We hold no boundaries or prejudices against any other kind of music or wherever it may come from. At this point in time, the thing we’re focusing on creating is music that makes you want to dance!”

   He added that a full length Electro Shine album should be released by the end of the year from Glotown Records.

         The beginnings of the group can be traced back to early 2011. Big Kenny took note of the huge reaction to the dance remix of Big & Rich hit “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” and decided it was time to continue the party. He collaborated with co-producer CheBacca (aka: Che Brooks) and instrumental strings duo ChessBoxer to create something he calls the “New Revolution of Musika Without Prejudice.” ChessBoxer brought in organic instruments with sounds ranging from country, bluegrass, world-folk, Appalachian, classical, and rock. Then the team mixed in electronic dance beats to create a new, distinct sound.

   Although the combination might seem odd, the concept is taking off. Dance artist Avicii is currently riding high on the Billboard charts with “Wake Me Up,” a song that includes banjos, guitars, and electronic beats. Big Kenny says that he wants to show the world that Nashville is open to all types of music and hopes his no boundaries approach can inspire others.

   “Now we have the opportunity to be on the cutting edge of spreading something else from right here in Music City USA… making this even more of a beacon of creativity than it already is,” he said. “We’re just continuing to push the envelope!”
   In keeping with his “Love Everybody” philosophy, Electro Shine singles have featured collaborations with Megan Mullins, Dave Stewart of The Eurhythmics, as well as Ky-Mani and KJ Marley. Big Kenny says his collaboration with the Marleys involved a trip to Jamaica where he proudly played the banjo for locals.

   Electro Shine has tested its EDM/country music fusion to fans across the world. From CMC Rocks the Hunter in Australia to Twin Lakes, Michigan and back to Belmont University in Nashville; Big Kenny says his number one goal is to get everyone to dance.

   “We did one (a show) in Twin Lakes. I bought a circus tent!” he said. “We bring what we feel is the energy that we see in the big clubs on the East and West Coast. We bring this feel to Middle America in a place that we know where our audiences are and let them feel what that’s like!”

   Big Kenny is known as one of Nashville’s biggest risk-takers. For the past decade, the Culpepper, Va., native has been blending rock, hip-hop and country influences with John Rich. Since 2003, Big & Rich have sold over 5 million albums and charted 10 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. Big Kenny has also penned top ten hits for artists such as Tim McGraw, Gretchen Wilson, and Jason Aldean.

Learn more about Electro Shine: