Turnpike Troubadours: Come See For Yourself

The Turnpike Troubadours are headed to western North Carolina this week…

Anytime an artist or band who is cemented into the local red dirt and Texas music scene ventures this far east it creates a sense of excitement but when that band is The Turnpike Troubadours, it’s cause for elation on extreme levels. It won’t be the first, and hopefully not the last time lead singer Evan Felker and his band mates visit North Carolina but it has been a while.

Having played dates in Raleigh and Charlotte over the past few years, the band lands in western North Carolina for a Thursday night show at Salvage Station in Asheville, this week. While the venue and city make for an easy trip from Charlotte, Winston-Salem and all points west, the band itself should draw patrons from across North Carolina and many neighboring states as well.

Even if you have not yet heard of The Turnpike Troubadours, it is likely that if you follow country music the name Evan Felker rings a bell. Recently it was revealed that Felker and country music superstar Miranda Lambert have been involved in a relationship, although the media’s portrayal of Turnpike as a neo-folk group was comical to those who have been following the band for some time.

Originating around 2007 from Oklahoma, the band has organically grown a following outside the heart of red dirt music. Both recent and upcoming tours with Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town should assist in growing their already spirited fan base.

Most songs are contrived from Felker and bassist R.C. Edwards, whose storytelling abilities to compose parallels between, not just separate songs, but over entire albums and even across different records is remarkable.

The band itself, comprised of other members: Kyle Nix (fiddle), Ryan Engleman (lead guitar), Gabriel Pearson (drums) and Hank Early (steel guitar) has a unique sound of their own. A blending of so many red dirt staples, including an occasional accordion, harmonica and banjo serve as a strong foundation for their music.

It is this sound coupled with creative lyrics that have aided their rise in the red dirt scene. Arguably the best and most successful band currently touring, The Turnpike Troubadours continue to escalate their game and live performances with each passing show.

Featured on Austin City Limits with Chris Stapleton and preparing for another television taping at the Bluegrass Underground, coming up on Saturday, their exposure has seemingly been growing across all platforms for some time.

Make your way to Asheville on Thursday and find out for yourself what makes this band so special. If you are a fan of live music and want to witness first-hand a group of extremely talented musicians who are continually working to hone their craft, then make plans now to be in attendance.

Doors at 8:00pm, purchase tickets here.

Aaron Watson: Underdog no more

West Texas singer and songwriter Aaron Watson performs this Saturday night in Charlotte…

Aaron Watson has always been committed to his fans and music. Original music backed by lyrics dedicated to lasting relationships, loving families and life in general, his hard work over time has created a significant following both in and out of Texas.

This Saturday night, North Carolina gets to experience Watson and his band, Orphans of the Brazos, first-hand as he performs on the 103.7 Super Stage at Coyote Joe’s in Charlotte. An awesome place to enjoy a live show, it is guaranteed to be an event you do not want to miss.

Releasing numerous independent albums since his first work, Singers and Songwriters, came out in 1999, Watson has seen a recent surge in his audience over the last six or seven years. His latest record, Vaquero, is a 16-song marathon filled with hit after hit.

Named for the Spanish horseman that originated into the modern day American cowboy, Watson epitomizes the relentless work ethic necessary to succeed. His efforts are paying off as he remains committed to being himself while enjoying success.

The Underdog, predecessor to Vaquero, was the first time an independent male country artist debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums Chart. Outselling major labels, Watson achieved a milestone that has helped pave the way for other independent artists in this scene.

It won’t change who he is though. Someone who has long been committed to his own style of music and doing things his way.

“It doesn’t really matter whether I’m playing a dancehall in Texas or a stadium tour around the world, I’m just me,” he says. “I won’t change. I’m just too rooted in what I believe in. When you’ve played for such a long time to nobody, now that there’s somebody, you really don’t take that for granted.”

There is somebody now and this weekend it could be you. Make plans to be in attendance on Saturday night as Watson and his band roll into town. If you’re unfamiliar but appreciate real country music, you will be a fan from the very first note.

Come see for yourself.

Doors at 7:00pm, purchase tickets here.

Shinyribs: Get Your Dose Today

Shinyribs is a band unlike any other with the cure you need, even if you didn’t know you did…

Shinyribs, a name synonymous with entertaining, high-energy, can’t miss performances. The ability to entertain through stage presence, voice, music and the sheer talent of everyone involved – audiences are always left wanting more after any of their shows. From the always fun and thoughtful introductions to a never know what you’re going to get show, Shinyribs has been wowing audiences throughout the land since 2007 and in their current form for the past few years.

Led by lead singer Kevin Russell, formerly of The Gourds, Shinyribs began as a side project before morphing into the awesome show they are today. Performing both their own original music and a number of covers, Shinyribs never fails to entertain and their reputation precedes them.

Our first experience with Shinyribs was a 12:20am (start time) show on Day 1 of Mile 0 Fest and Russell was electric. Backed by the Tijuana TrainWreck Horns and Shiny Soul Sisters, Russell wore an eye catching outfit and danced the night away while jamming to the tunes and appearing to enjoy every last second of his set.

So too did the crowd who treated the late night set as a warm up for their main stage performance. Donning a bright yellow suit, Russell took the stage for a few songs before leaping from the riser and initiating a conga line throughout the festival grounds.

Whether you are familiar with the sounds of Shinyribs or not, one thing is guaranteed. You will be entertained. Always worth the price of admission, Russell and his crew never disappoint and he’s brining the cure to whatever ails you at MerleFest this year.


Their latest album, “I Got Your Medicine,” was released in 2016 and couldn’t have come equipped with a better title. Even if you’re oblivious to the gaping hole in your musical spectrum, Shinyribs will fill it with one live performance.

The combination of country, folk, bluegrass, funk, rap and any other genre you can think of creates a sweet elixer of enjoyment that you won’t soon forget.

Don’t miss Shinyribs on day one (April 26) as they kick off MerleFest here in North Carolina!

Thursday, 4:15pm-5:15pm (Watson Stage)

View the full MerleFest schedule and stage lineup here.

John Moreland: Changing your tune

Now there’s a John Moreland song for whatever mood you’re in…

Singer and songwriter John Moreland has built a reputation for passionate lyrics and acoustic performances that connect with audiences across the country. Born in Texas, Moreland spent time there and in Kentucky before another move brought him to Tulsa, Oklahoma when he was 10 years old.

It was here where Moreland began to play guitar and write his own songs. A member of a few different bands, his initial interest was in hard core music but a transition to his more familiar sound began to occur following high school. Moreland has built a following largely on his own, consistently writing songs, self-producing and releasing three solo albums. Even using his parent’s home as a recording studio for his third album, High on Tulsa Heat.

Becoming known for his story telling capabilities and piercing lyrics that often not only hint at, but face dark and depressing tones full on, Moreland himself began to succumb to his own endeavor. He shared these feelings with Rolling Stone in a past interview.

“When I heard the sad bastard thing more and more, it came to a point where I felt like a caricature of a real person. It made me really depressed for a little while, where I kind of believed it and put too much stock in that. I felt like it was all I had to offer: just bumming people out. It got really dark. I was a happy person, and then everybody called me a sad person, and then that made me sad. I felt like, ‘Am I just bumming everybody out? Is my art just this one-dimensional, negative thing?'”

Now a few years older, in love and married, Moreland released his first full band record, Big Bad Luv last year. His most recent performances have been a mix of his rock based beginnings, fully backed anthems and a peppered mix of his acoustic renditions, which still can quiet a venue demanding their appropriate attention.

Moreland has been heralded by country superstar Miranda Lambert but won’t be writing anything for her or anyone else, anytime in the near future. A rising star in his own right, Moreland continues to receive praise from Lambert and countless others in the music industry.

As his evolution continues, expect Moreland’s music to maintain its hard hitting ability to impact an audience – now, covering an even wider array of emotions.

Caleb Caudle: Crushing It

Get to know North Carolina native Caleb Caudle and his music…

Recently, Caleb Caudle returned home to North Carolina for an album release show at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro. The late February release of Caudle’s eighth album, Crushed Coins, has been well received by all who have listened and has him gaining serious recognition for his music, in addition to comparisons of Jason Isbell and John Moreland.

Caudle left the comforts and familiarity of home to record his latest record out in Los Angeles at Mixtown USA’s studio. His storytelling and songwriting is based on a lot of personal experiences and since his previous release, Caudle has gotten married and traveled across much of the United States.

According to him, “Crushed Coins is a departure from my past records in a few ways. In the months leading up to recording these songs, I was listening to a lot of jazz, specifically a copy of Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way that my wife bought me. That album helped me realize you can truly do whatever you want with music, and it put me in that mindset heading into the studio. I also did the majority of the record near Skid Row in Los Angeles, which took me out of my comfort zone having made the last couple albums at home in North Carolina. I worked with my long-time engineer and collaborator Jon Ashley, but we approached this record with an anything-goes mentality, unafraid to do whatever the songs called for.”

Listeners will also enjoy the sounds of other talented musicians who are featured on the album including: Joshua Hedley, Erin Rae, electric guitarist Megan McCormick, pedal steel player Brett Resnick and bassist Kevin Black (longtime member of the band with Sturgill Simpson, who has also more recently played with Margo Price). Caudle himself has also been on the move, performing on this year’s Cayamo Cruise, South by Southwest and Willie Nelson’s own Luck Reunion.

Caudle has a few more North Carolina dates upcoming on Friday, April 13 in his hometown of Winston-Salem and Thursday, April 26 back in Carrboro. Following, he embarks on a summer tour extending across 13 states over the next couple of months.

If at all possible, get to one of his shows this month and find out first-hand why Rolling Stone describes Caudle as, “the musical equivalent of high-proof bourbon – rich in flavor, with a subtle, satisfying bite.”

Sarah Shook and the Disarmers: Years in the Making

Sarah Shook and the Disarmers new album, “Years” is set for release this Friday…

Sarah Shook wasn’t born in North Carolina but after moving to the state at 19 years old has spent the majority of her adult life here. The lead singer has been on a musical journey since beginning her first band in 2010, Sarah Shook and the Devil.

After disbanding, Sarah Shook and the Dirty Hands were formed and relatively short lived in 2013, before the now well known Sarah Shook and the Disarmers came into being late that same year.

The group put out their first record, “Sidelong”, in October of 2015 and after signing with Bloodshot Records, the re-release early last year put Shook and her band into the spotlight for new country and Americana artists to watch.

Over the past year, Shook has been touring all over with recent stops at South by Southwest in Austin and in the southeast with Nikki Lane. She returns to North Carolina this Friday for an album release show at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro.

Sarah Shook and the Disarmers "Years" album cover

Sarah Shook and the Disarmers “Years” album cover

“Years,” the bands’ second album, has been described as a “record about finding a way. A way through exhaustion, frustration, betrayal, hangover after hangover, upper after downer after upper, fight after never-ending fight. It’s about picking yourself and dusting yourself off after years of being trampled and beaten down, jutting your chin out, head high, after they’ve done their worst, and saying ‘Still here.’” by Shook herself.

The Disarmers also benefited from another North Carolina band dissolution as former American Aquarium drummer Kevin McClain recently came on board. McClain is no stranger to touring, traveling with his former group for many years and fits perfectly into Shook’s band with his own unique style on the drum kit.

Following the album release party on Friday night, Shook and the Disarmers will visit Neighborhood Theater in Charlotte as they begin a 14 state tour through the end of May, before boarding a plane to Sweden.

Once there, the band will play multiple shows across the country and into Norway before a grand finale at the Stockholm Americana Festival on Saturday, June 16.

Years in the making, “Years” should only serve to further the rise of Sarah Shook and the Disarmers into the future.

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.

Image may contain: text

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.