Sunny Sweeney: Real Raw Emotion

Sunny Sweeney released her fourth album, “Trophy” one year ago and the world is better for it…

Sunny Sweeney manages to tell stories on opposite ends of the emotional spectrum with absolute attention to detail, while conveying her lyrics into real feelings for her listeners. For whatever mood you find yourself in there’s a Sunny Sweeney song to lean on for relation.

Ready to party, there’s a song for that. Feeling down, pick one because there’s plenty. Drinking, covered. Scorned, also covered. Depressed, she’s got you. In ‘Bottle by My Bed,’ Sweeney breaches a topic that’s not only rarely discussed in the open but there it is on her latest album for all the world to hear.

Trophy,” which was released just over a year ago this March is full of emotion and has brought Sweeney many new fans. Touring across the country with live performances in a variety of venues and countless miles covered, Sweeney continues to build her fan base by taking her music to the masses.

Sweeney told Rolling Stone last year about her willingness and openness for hitting all topics to which anyone can relate.

“Anybody that knows anything about my music knows I don’t necessarily shy away from subjects. I want to think that this is just an extension of that. It’s where I am and what I’m going through and there are other people going through these things as well: Wanting their marriage to be perfect, struggling with this or that. That’s what life is. Each record answers a little question for the time in your life where you are.”

Sweeney feels it’s her job as a writer to evoke emotions from those who she seeks to entertain. Whether getting to see her live or just listening in your car, her willingness to draw on those heartfelt emotions and ability to tap into real feelings is apparent.

Beginning with ‘Pass the Pain‘ and through every one of the ten songs which comprise “Trophy“, her mission has been accomplished.

Uncle Lucius: One Last Ride

Uncle Lucius will play their final show this coming Friday at Gruene Hall in Texas…

For over a decade, Uncle Lucius has been spreading his unique soul sounds across the country traveling relentlessly from coast to coast and producing four original albums to Keep the Wolves Away. Unfortunately for us fans, since founder and lead singer Kevin Galloway posted a shocking message to Facebook back in September it set the Wheel’s In Motion for a farewell tour.

While it was a somber decree for those wishing There Is No End, Galloway was quick to thank both the fans and his band for a decade of support but simply stated the he, “is moving on.” Whatever is next in store for him and the members of Uncle Lucius, they are sure to be successful in No Time Flat after displaying a resilient work ethic with no Willing Wasted Time and commitment to their craft for such a long period. We Don’t Own the Right to question his decision as it is surely in the best interest of those with the closest ties to Uncle Lucius.

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Establishing an enthusiastic fan base both inside and out of Texas, Galloway has one of the most recognizable voices and sounds in the industry. With so much music available, setting yourself or your band apart from the masses typically takes a concerted effort but once Galloway begins any lyrical journey, fans and even your average listener can immediately discern that it is Uncle Lucius they are hearing.

Hailing from Austin, Texas anyone fortunate enough to see the band perform live was given A Million Ways or at least 97 Reasons to love what they saw and with news of their final show on the horizon, people have been soaking up the final few moments as they Flood Then Fade Away.

On Friday in front of an already sold out crowd under the water tower at Texas’ oldest dance hall, Gruene Hall, Uncle Lucius will play their final show. A few tickets remain for the added Thursday night performance as part of two night “Farewell Show” performances and if you find yourself anywhere close to New Braunfels toward the end of the week, here’s a simple piece of advice – go, because All We’ve Got Is Now.

You’re only regret will be not familiarizing yourself with the soulful sounds of Uncle Lucius much earlier and while you will experience more than a Pocket Full of Misery, with no immediate hope for seeing them in the future, four albums remain for our listening pleasure as we all hope for an encore at some point down the road, although Someday Is A Far Cry away.

Margo Price: Pushing the Limit

The extremely talented singer and songwriter Margo Price is pushing the limits with her second album, “All American Made”…

Margo Price broke onto the scene after a tireless effort of playing gigs throughout the United States when her first record, “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter,” was released nearly two years ago. She continues to display staying power with her second record, “All American Made,” which came out last October. A long time in the making, Price sacrificed considerably in an effort to continue pursuing her dreams and making music alongside husband, guitarist and fellow songwriter Jeremy Ivey.

The two seen highs and lows, suffered and struggled but all the while continued their commitment to making music and putting out songs that are often without catchy choruses but instead tell a story and send a message.

Price makes it work with her persona, despite drawing criticism from some who have negative comments for the rising star about listening to songs around bars, drinking, hard times and other “outlaw” topics with her artistic style and blunt truthfulness which should be appreciated by all.

Her latest album is a political statement put to use in an environment when some are shying away from expressing their opinions. Price meets the issues head on and doesn’t apologize for her stance but instead makes it a point to reveal her feelings in such an art form.

In a recent television appearance on Conan, Price performed a song from her new album titled, “Pay Gap” focusing on the financial state of inequality between males and females. She also invited the all-female rendition of Las Mariachi Lindas Mexicanas to perform with her and noted the lyrical mastery behind story telling and point making.

No matter your religion, no matter your race
No matter your orientation
No matter your creed and no matter your taste
No matter your denomination
We are all the same in the eyes of God
But in the eyes of rich white men
No more than a maid to be owned like a dog
A second-class citizen

Unapologetically, Price is pushing the limits and continuing to draw crowds of supporters who both appreciate her sincere musical talent and message. You can see her during two upcoming North Carolina dates, on May 15 at Neighborhood Theatre in Charlotte or the Haw River Ballroom on May 16 in Saxapahaw.

The Black Lillies: Ready to Bloom

The Black Lillies are ready to bloom with a new lineup and album on the horizon…

A mix between the blurred lines of red dirt, folk, blues, and Americana music is where The Black Lillies are planted with their unique sound and lyrical storytelling. Founder and lead singer Cruz Contreras has been the engine behind this group since their formation but now shares songwriting with current band members after a significant lineup shift in 2016.

The current four piece group of Contreras, Bowman Townsend, Sam Quinn and Dustin Schaefer continue to impress and may currently be putting together the best album to date for this band. The Black Lillies are nearing a decade on the road with their fifth album currently in production and are continually putting on entertaining performances night after night.

Playing festivals from Bonnaroo, Mile 0 and Merlefest to everything in between, the group has gathered a significant fan base with their amazing harmonies and patented sound. The Black Lillies have also played The Grand Ole Opry dozens of times, becoming one of the very first independent groups to fulfill that honor.

The band just wrapped their second session at Echo Mountain Studios here in Asheville, North Carolina where they continued work on the latest album. Once completed it will be the first project from The Black Lillies to be entirely formed from the work of its members. No guest appearances and no outside input other than from producer Jamie Candiloro.

Specifically selected for his style of production, Candiloro has a track record in music that speaks for itself. Having produced or engineered for Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams, The Eagles, R.E.M. and Courtney Love to name a few, the process was difficult but ultimately it was determined that Candiloro would be tagged as the producer.

Cruz and the band are walking everyone through the entire process over at Pledge Music, where fans can contribute to bringing The Black Lillies fifth album to fruition. In addition to getting a behind the scenes look at how a record goes from an idea, to lyrics, then songs, actual music, live performances and studio changes – fans can also select to receive some awesome merchandise or experiences based on their level of giving.

Some items, such as the whiskey tumblers, are already sold out completely but everything from a digital download of the new record to being a roadie or having your own private show remains available.

The Black Lillies, Contreras, and all members of this group have always put their fans front and center and it shows in their support. Already at nearly 30-percent funded after just a little over one week, the newest album is gaining significant momentum.

Scheduled to be released in the fall of 2018, The Black Lillies are currently riding that wave through hard work, dedication to their craft and a continued appreciation for those that are listening.

American Aquarium: Rebooted and Ready to Rock

North Carolina’s own American Aquarium is the feature band of our first Music Monday…

American Aquarium was an easy choice for our first Music Monday feature being that the lead singer now calls our state capital home and has always been a proponent of the long leaf pine and his North Carolina roots. Originally flanked by a few North Carolinians in the band, the group has recently undergone a significant lineup shift but continues to press forward, gaining new fans and influencing others with their music on a consistent basis.

Having followed this group for over ten years we have been witness to both highs and lows along their musical journey but one constant remains – an unwavering commitment to the fans. After seeing B.J. Barham open with his band for another act and having their songs stuck in your head the following day, as opposed to the act you originally were there to see, it became quickly apparent that American Aquarium was worthy of following.

They initially gained notoriety around the Carolinas with a tireless touring schedule playing hole in the wall bars and restaurants from Blowing Rock to Statesville, the capital city of Raleigh and even homecoming shows pre-Thanksgiving in Reidsville. No matter the audience size or familiarity, Barham was going to connect with his fans and it is this persistence that expanded their fan base and led to national tours with sell outs in tow.

From humble beginnings the band now regularly visits Texas, has repeatedly played festivals like Steamboat and Medicine Stone, in addition to traveling across the pond for European tours over the past few years. Despite a rigorous tour schedule American Aquarium has also cranked out numerous albums which transcend the timeline and appeal to the current state of Barham and his feelings.

Burn. Flicker. Die. was originally intended to be the final album from the group but instead propelled them to even greater heights. Well received by both fans and critics, the album did just the opposite and allowed Barham and his band to continue touring and making a living but it came at a cost. A few years later the entire lineup would announce a shift in focus after their third “Roadtrip to Raleigh” with year four completed under Barham and an entirely new lineup behind him.

The band released another album, “Wolves” and the next is set to be released later this year and may be the best yet. “Things Change” encompasses the influences surrounding Barham and his band in addition to the personal aspects in his own life. Since Wolves, Barham has gotten sober, married and is soon expecting his first child, a daughter.

While no future tour dates are available on their website, a first in over a decade, to doubt that Barham will not be able to manage both touring and being a father is to underestimate the commitment he has to the music and his craft.

Taking a much needed and well deserved break for the first time that anyone can remember, expect Barham and his revamped band to come back stronger and better than ever. The impact on this genre of music has been made and people from around the country are taking notice.

American Aquarium is destined for great things behind Barham and their latest break will only leave fans wanting more. “Things Change” in every aspect of life, but the ability to adapt and forge a way has been a staple of Barham and his music. Telling personal tales that anyone can relate to and striking a chord among his followers, although changes are in store the foundation remains.

American Aquarium isn’t going anywhere and we can’t wait until they return full force behind a new album, lineup and reinvigorated lead singer.