“My Side Of The Story” By Ryan Sims Is Songwriting At It’s Best…

It was a pleasure to speak to Ryan Sims on his sophomore album “My Side Of The Story”. A true country, rock and Americana sound that has you feeling every emotion in the song. We would like to thank Ryan for his time and wish him all the best and hope to see him on the road soon.

B Chord: Hey man, give us a little insight into your background and how you got into music?

Ryan Sims: At the age of 3, I had this overwhelming urge to play guitar. I’m not really sure where it came from. I did not have anyone in my family that was really a role model for it. It just seemed like that’s what I had to do. I didn’t want to be a firefighter or a cop or a superhero, rather I just wanted to play guitar and sing. It’s a calling man like anything else that God chooses for you. If I didn’t do it, I probably wouldn’t be alive. It’s my reason to be on this earth.

B Chord: You have your new album out “My Side of the Story.” Can you tell us a little bit about the project and the writing process? I know this is a very personal album and very dear to your heart.

Ryan Sims: It all happened out of a tragedy that turned into an opportunity. I was slated to go into the recording studio in April and had all of the songs picked. Some of the songs were ones that I had recorded in the past and didn’t feel like I had done them justice. Then I went through a breakup that was very traumatic with a person that I thought that I would be with forever. She had an affair with a so-called buddy of mine. This was two weeks before I went into the studio and my whole world got turned upside down. I wasn’t really sure how this was going to affect the recording process. What ended up happening was that I threw away all of the plans that I had of recording those songs that I had already written and just began writing my ass off by myself and my producers Justin Gray and Doug Green. We put together six brand new songs that did not exist in the world. So, that tragedy brought about my very best work thus far. Hopefully these songs can help someone else heal like it did for me.

B Chord: Where have you been playing if someone is looking to come out and see you?

Ryan Sims: Right now, I have been in Phoenix where I currently live and we have been agent shopping. So if you want to see me currently you can come to Phoenix. Starting in January, it looks like we will be starting a nationwide tour. Once I hit the road in 2018, I plan to be on the road for an undetermined amount of time. I used to live in Parkville, Maryland and played with my band EastonAshe. It was my first rock band that I toured with for many years and toured the east coast. We played at Ram’s Head, The Record Theatre in Towson and many other venues in the Maryland area.

B Chord: Who are some of your musical influences?

Ryan Sims: My four major influences were: John Cougar Mellencamp, Matchbox 20, James Taylor, Dave Matthews.

B Chord: In that album, I heard a lot of John Cougar Mellencamp in your music.

Ryan Sims: Jimmy Arnoff , who was John Mellencamp’s drummer was on the project as well. I think that is what you were hearing.

B Chord: “AmericanThings” is one of my favorite songs on the album. Tell us a little more about the writing process for this song.

Ryan Sims: That song is the only tune on the record that is written by the producers and myself. When we decided to do this project, we had a problem trying to define what the music was going to be. I think my biggest asset is that I write many different styles of music and it is also my biggest downfall because agents, producers, and music buyers want to be able to tell someone what they are getting. So given that rock and roll and country was primarily what I was writing but not necessarily either, we decided to go with Americana. That being said, I wanted to put a song on the record that really enveloped the whole American theme. So we started talking about what the song should be about. I absolutely love my country and we started talking about the best parts of the United States, so “American Things” came about. The song is just what I love about this country when I wake up every day and then the bridge is about how we are not quite ourselves right now, but it’s not over and we will bounce back because we are Americans and that’s what we do.

B Chord: I love that you are so open and honest about your story. What would you like to share with someone who may be going through the same?

Ryan Sims: I don’t think a writer has any choice but to be honest with their music because the only thing that will suffer if they are not is the music. I really didn’t have a choice than being open and honest with my story or my listeners would pick up on it in my music.

B Chord: “Tragedy” is another very touching song. Can you tell us what inspired the writing of that song?

Ryan Sims: That song is the only song on the record that was written prior to what I call “the situation.” That came about from a previous relationship that ended amicably and it was one of those things where we were absolutely in love with each other but it was just not the right situation. It was probably one of the only adult break ups that I ever had. The chorus just lends to the fact that we all have this idea about what love should be and what relationships should be and a lot of that comes from growing up watching Disney cartoons and life is not a Disney cartoon.

B Chord: You have an all star cast on this album. What was it like working with some of the best musicians on this project?

Ryan Sims: OMG, I got the opportunity to record with what would be considered a supergroup if any of these musicians got together outside of my project. Given that Mellencamp was one of my heroes, having his drummer who it can be safely said that Kenny Aronoff was integral to John Mellencamp’s sound, having him on my record gave me goose bumps. The original drummer, Vinnie Colaiuta who is most sought after drummer in the world, I was on cloud nine being able to get him and at the last minute he had to back out and my producer, Justin Gray said “Well, we got Kenny Aronoff instead, is that okay?” I think my head hit the ceiling when I jumped out of my shoes. Having Darrell Jones from the Rolling Stones….that came about because we were at the Gibson boutique in Beverly Hills and we were talking to the gentleman who ran that store and telling him that we needed a bass player and he said “you should get Darryl Jones” and I said yes we sure should just joking around. He said I’ll call him. I took a deep breath and tried not to show how excited I was. Darrell answered the phone and said he would do it at the “bro price” which is unbelievable. We got Jason “Slim” Gambill from Lady Antebellum via a mutual friend in Los Angeles and Kim Bullard who is Elton John’s keyboard player. I have been finished recording this EP for five months and I still don’t think I have grasped just how great this opportunity was that I just got to experience. Also, these guys were so into the project, they didn’t just lay down their tracks, they put in the time. I think that best idea that we had with these guys was not to give them direction, rather give them the tracks and let them do what they do. As we were getting these tracks back from each player, and listening to this body of work and what is was going to be, my skin hurt from all of the goose bumps that I had all the time.

B Chord: You are a true Inspiration and I am in your corner 100 percent.

Ryan Sims: Thank you so much!

B Chord: You are stranded on an island and you can take only one instrument with you. What would the instrument be and why?

Ryan Sims: That’s a no-brainer! It would have to be my guitar. I just got a new guitar a Collings D1 acoustic and this is my first big boy guitar. Collings is made in Austin, Texas and it is the most perfect instrument that’s ever been created on God’s great earth. Probably will be the last acoustic guitar that I will have to buy. I will probably buy others but because I want them.

Please do yourself a favor and download this album and catch Ryan when he is on tour. All links for Ryan Sims are below. Photo Credit: Mark Morgan

Website – http://www.ryansimsmusic.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RyanSimsBand

 

 

Erik Stucky, “For Old Times’ Sake” Has A True Grasp On Americana And Bluegrass Music…

We spoke with the amazing musician, singer songwriter and mandolin extraordinaire about his latest solo album release “Stray Clouds“. We introduce you to his musical career as well as his inspiration. We thank Erik for the interview, and I can’t wait to hang out with him on our next trip to Nashville, TN.

B Chord: Hey man, tell us a little bit about how you got into music and your career so far?

Erik Stucky: I started playing mandolin around the age of 10. I grew up in Colorado and my Dad was a big music enthusiast especially in folk and bluegrass. We used to attend bluegrass festivals .I grew up listening to Bluegrass Revival, James Taylor, Lyle Lovett, and Mary Chapin Carpenter. I began playing mandolin after hearing Mark O’Connor play it at a bluegrass festival. I took lessons and got to playing the mandolin for a while and then got into singing and song writing around the age of 18. I live in Nashville now and just released my first solo album. I play mandolin for a couple Americana artists as well.

B Chord: You had the privilege of opening for John Oates. Can you tell us a little about that?

Erik Stucky: John Oates produced a friend of mine, David Starr’s latest album. When John was playing at the Station Inn, he asked David to open for him. David asked me to play some mandolin for that show. Playing at the Station Inn was a really cool setting.

B Chord: I see you play a lot of instruments? Which ones? What is your favorite?

Erik Stucky: Mandolin and guitar are the instruments that I play at my shows. So that’s pretty much what I do. I do play bass and fiddle when I am recording my albums, but as far as my performances, I play mandolin and guitar.

B Chord: Tell us a little about “Stray Clouds” and the songs on the album?

Erik Stucky: “Stray Clouds” is the first solo album that I have done. There are songs on there that range from new to about 5 years old. I also included  the ones that I had a real desire to put out. One song on the album I wrote two weeks before entitled “Old Habits Never Die.” This was because I wanted an upbeat bluegrass tune to pay tribute to my upbringing. There is a span of 5 years of songwriting on that one album.

B Chord: I love “For Old Times’ Sake” can you tell us a little about the writing process?

Erik Stucky: That was actually one of the older songs that I wrote when I was out living in Santa Barbara, California and that was a reflection from being from a small town in Colorado and reminiscing about that. There is a line in there “a drive-in movie screen” which we still have in Montrose, Colorado which is a rare thing. I was thinking a lot about home when writing that song.

B Chord: Do songs come to you easily or do you have to get away to write?

Erik Stucky: It works all sorts of different ways. I think songwriters are always discovering their process because it seems to be changing for me. I’ve written songs where I have had to sit down night after night to write them. I have also written songs….Well I wrote “Holding Back the Rain” without a guitar driving a tractor in Kansas and I saw a cloud and just started singing it. I went in at lunchtime and worked it out on the guitar, but everything was written while driving. I moved to Nashville full time a year ago and before that I made trips down here. I now do a lot of co-writing here.

B Chord: What do you have lined up for 2018 so far?

Erik Stucky: Well I am actually playing a gig tonight and then I have a string of gigs coming up in California next month…….some are solo and some I am playing with Nathan McEuen. We also are doing a trio thing with Nathan, Paul Allen and myself. They are both incredible musicians and songwriters in the LA area. In March, I have a big month-long Texas tour where I am playing live radio shows to listening rooms.
B Chord: You have a very nice distinct folkie American sound that is all your own.  I do hear a little James Taylor in there. Who are some of your inspirations?

Erik Stucky: Well thank you very much. James Taylor. Lyle Lovett is just an artist that I really dig. His creativity is just very expressive. Darrell Scott.  Paul Simon is someone else that I grew up listening to a lot. On my album, I did a couple covers and Don Williams was one of them to pay tribute to that older country era. John Hartford is also someone I grew up listening to. He wrote “Gentle on My Mind” that Glen Campbell performed. He was a fiddle and banjo player and a very creative guy. There are so many, but those are the ones that were prevalent when I was growing up. I also like the band Nickel Creek. John Moore, the guy who produced my album, who plays a lot of guitar and the banjo player are in a band called Bluegrass, Etc. They had a huge influence on my music through my teen years and I still hang out with them and am still learning from them.

B Chord: You are stranded on an island and you can take only one instrument with you. What would the instrument be and why?

Erik Stucky: I’d take my Collings mandolin which is the model that I play. The mandolin was just my first intro to music and set fire to me wanting to play. The guitar came much later. Collings MT2 A Style mandolin and I might take an F style as well. I really like the Collings mandolin.

Thank you again Erik for a fantastic insight on your musical career and your current projects. Please check out the links below and download “Stray Clouds” today, come on what are you waiting for it is just below!

website – www.erikstucky.com/
Facebook – www.facebook.com/stuckysmusic/
Instagram – www.instagram.com/erikstucky/
Music Links
https://www.amazon.com/Stray-Clouds-Erik-Stucky/dp/B06XPVTBL2
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/stray-clouds/id1216915585
https://open.spotify.com/artist/3VNMVp1XJKhDRf1SAilwzv
Erik Stucky Photo 4

“Get Drunk and Cry” Over The Sweet Vintage Sound of Ruthie Collins…

I had the privilege of talking to the one and only Ruthie Collins who is a tremendous singer songwriter. She was born in Fredonia, NY, currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee and sings like an authentic Bluegrasser. She was raised on a beautiful 13 acre grape farm that has been in her family for over 200 years. Ruthie was the baby of four girls; started singing, playing piano and violin under her mom’s guidance at age 3. When Ruthie was 18, she left her tiny town and headed to Boston where she attended Berklee College of Music for 3 1/2 years, just one semester shy of graduating. She moved to Nashville in 2006 to be a songwriter.

I have always heard you should not meet or talk to the ones you are a big fan of or look up to. Well, all I can tell you is that Ruthie did not disappoint. She is one of the most sincere and humble individuals I have ever spoke with. Years ago I was flipping around through underground country music and I came across Ruthie. As soon as I heard the old-school country bluegrass sound about love and heartbreak, I was hooked right away. In my mind Ruthie Collins is one of the best singer songwriters in Nashville today. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did because I feel it is 100 percent real and to use one word to best describe Ruthie, Vintage.

B Chord – So Ruthie, you are one of my favorite artists because you are true to yourself and the true vintage country and bluegrass sound!!

Ruthie Collins – Oh, thank you so much!

B Chord – Tell us a little about the writing process of “Get Drunk and Cry.” Will that be the new album title? Is this newly written or a song you have had for a while?

Ruthie Collins – Yes, so “Get Drunk and Cry” will be my single going out to country radio and it will also be the title track of the album as well. I guess when we were thinking of the title of the album that just was not an obvious one that stood out for me. Then the label said “So we think the album should be titled “Get Drunk and Cry”. I said “Well, ok, I think I could be that girl then.” I am really happy we went with that title because it really does stand out. I am not sure that every song on the album requires you to get drunk and cry, but there is a theme there. It’s all good. I actually wrote that song about 5 years ago with my friend Luke Sheets as we were talking about a relationship I was in at the time. I described the night I had with this guy and told him that as I went into the night, I just knew I was going to get drunk and cry. Luke then said, wait! Is that a thing? I said no I knew I was already upset and I know you are supposed to go out and get drunk after with friends. I knew if I went out with them for more drinks it would happen. Right then, he said we have to write a song about this. It really became a verb so to speak.

B Chord – I saw a little of the short video for it. Where was it filmed?

Ruthie Collins – We filmed in Nashville. Actually, what we have done is filmed a mini visual album to go with the record. It will be released on October 17th 2017. It consists of five of the songs on the album. It begins with a song entitled “Getting Out There” and then goes into “Get Drunk and Cry”, “Boys and Beaches”, “You Don’t” and ends with “Pink Bic Lighter”. The videos have the same characters, the same common thread and story line. There are monologues in between this girl’s journey of “Get Drunk and Cry” fiasco. We filmed all over, but much of it was done in East Nashville. “Getting Out There” was filmed at a really cool bar called Crying Wolf and we also filmed at the American Legion in Inglewood Post 82. It was so fun! “Boys and Beaches” was filmed out at the lake. It is really more like boys and lakes lol. “You Don’t” was filmed in East Nashville, a little bit in my house and “Pink Bic Lighter” was filmed in this amazing party house we found online. So, yes all of the video was filmed right here in Nashville!

B Chord – I have to say I feel the true vintage country sound is working its way back in today’s country music. . How do you see that taking form?

Ruthie Collins – It is so exciting! I am a big music fan and I truly enjoy all genres. I think country music has brought in almost all the genres. In the 90’s, you could be in an alternative band or a folk band or a hot ac band. That is still out there, but I feel that country music has absorbed a lot of those sub-genres and now everything is country! I think that while that can be fun and cool and gives us such diversity in the genre, I am excited to hear some super country stuff on the radio again. That is truly what I love!

B Chord – Has it been a struggle having more of that country bluegrass sound while trying to make it on today’s radio?

Ruthie Collins – I think so. There have definitely been times when publishers in town will say “we only want pop songs.” There are also a lot of artists in town that will not cut a song by a Nashville writer anymore because everything has gone so pop. It is a struggle for all of us who got into this genre for the vintage sound and song writing. However, everything is cyclical and it all comes back around and sticks out. So yes it is very exciting!

B Chord – What has been the favorite song you have ever written?

Ruthie Collins – Oh gosh. I have no idea. Well let me think for a second. The typical response is the one that I wrote yesterday because an artist whether they are painters or writer or poets, the last is always the favorite. There are songs that I really enjoyed the process of writing and you put them out in the world and they are all your babies. The ones that are received well by people become your favorites. There is a song on the album called “Mockingbird” and it is my Mom’s favorite so I love playing that song live. I can dedicate it to my Mom and all the Mom’s that are at the show in the crowd. I wrote that song with one of my best friends, Jessica Roadcap, so that has a lot of meaning to me. I have literally written thousands of songs, so to pick one is really hard for me.

B Chord – I know Tom Petty was one of your idols in music. How did he inspire you and which of his songs is your favorite?

Ruthie Collins – That would definitely have to be “Wildflowers”. I found Tom Petty in college through some friends that just loved him so much. I was just talking to another friend the other day about this and really Tom Petty taught us what was cool. He taught us what type of gear we should play, how to just stick to your guns and your career and if something doesn’t feel right don’t do it. There is the story about how he said “No you aren’t going to use my success to make cd’s $22.00. That is not something he was going to let his fans deal with even though the label said we can charge that much and get it. He taught us so much of just how to be in this business. I feel that I will always remember my Mom telling me where she was when Princes Diana died. I feel the same way about Tom Petty. I was getting on the on ramp at Trinity Lane in Nashville and it came on the radio and I was like what?? It was all around just a horrible day.

B Chord – The first time I ever heard Ruthie Collins it was a cover of “Ramblin’ Man”. Gosh, I love that song! How did you come up with that version and where were you when you recorded?

Ruthie Collins – Well, to be totally honest with you, I was just trying to do something that would make my record label want to release a single. This is basically what I try to do every day. I was sitting in a recording studio with my producer, Curt Gibbs and we were working on another song and we were talking about Avichi. Do you remember that Avichi song that was out “Hey Brother”? I remember asking him “hey what is this.” Curt was really into Pop music which is why some of these elements have wound up on my CD. So, I asked him “what is this? “ I really like this until the dance beat comes in lol. He said this guy is just a DJ and he sampled this song and I said wait a minute, has anyone ever done this in country? Curt said I really don’t know. So I said we have to do this! I mean right now! So I told him I truly mean right now, let’s do this. So we thought about a classic country song that reminded us of me. Something that was kind of haunted and sad, I just love sad songs and old country. So Hank Williams immediately came to mind. I started going through songs and when I sang that “I love you baby” part it made me feel like some girl who had this guy saying “yeah I like you so much but I gotta go”. It is the story of every girl in Nashville that is trying to date a musician. So I really related to that and it sounded so forlorn and cool sounding and I said we need to put that in there. Kurt said “Um ok” I then said now make it up tempo more up tempo for me because I knew the record label would it that way. We started playing the up tempo and I googled the lyrics and we recorded the vocal and we never changed the melody. I opened by starting to sing the lyrics and we never stopped knowing we had it! I played it for the label the next day and brought them in on the idea which they loved at first. But, come to find out it was a little too different. The whole process was a different way at going about it and I absolutely loved it.

B Chord – What is Ruthie’s guilty pleasure that we as fans would never guess?

Ruthie Collins – Never guess huh? Oh gosh. I feel pizza is the obvious one. You know I love me some Nick Jonas. That is a guilty pleasure and a record I would put on for a long drive and if I am getting a little sleepy. Also, I really like gin. But that is also one not so surprising to my friends. They know that if I have a gin martini, it is about to get turned up! I can drink beer with the best of them, but if you give me three gin martini’s I am like Wheeewwww! It will definitely be a short night.

B Chord – Tell us a little about Home.Made that you are now in on A&E?

Ruthie Collins – This was a really neat opportunity. I had bought my first house about a year and a half ago. I was doing all of these projects to try and fix it up. In Nashville, it is growing so fast that is really hard to find someone to come over to your house to do a $100 job because they can go four doors down and work on a million dollar renovation. So I had to buy some power tools and learn how to do a lot of things on my own which was a lot of fun. I started posting photos online of all the projects I was currently working on or had finished. We did some web series stuff with a label I was with and we did an Airstream renovation. That web series just came out a week ago, because things have been so crazy with promoting and working on the album. We will be putting that on social media in about a week, I promise. I had a little TV experience and I really liked it so my agent said to me “Hey there is an opportunity for A&E are you interested? They are looking for a duo so do you have anyone in your life that you think you could work with? They are looking for a big personality.” I said, my buddy Danny is a carpenter and he has been helping me out with projects and he is just so goofy. We sent in an audition video and that got my agency so excited. They said do you want your own show? I said yeah of course I would love my own show. We were in the process of shooting a pilot and Amy called and said we want you for this. So we put all of that on hold and I filmed two series’ with A&E and I just love it! It is so much fun.

B Chord – If you had one person in all of Music you could collaborate with whom would it be and why?

Ruthie Collins – Do they have to be living? I mean obviously, Tom Petty comes to mind because of the conversations we were just having. I do have to say it would be a tie between Tom Petty and Emmylou Harris. I really admire her and Dolly the same way. I think these women that have made longevity in the music business their main focus. I want to be singing and performing songs that I wrote on stage when I am 80 years old. That is what I do and love to do and never want to stop doing. When I see all these women out there still writing, producing, touring and involved in all different facets of the music business, I know that is what I want to do. I say to myself, I want to do that and know how to keep that going in my career for that long. Definitely I have to say Emmylou and then be able to hang out with Tom.

B Chord – The song “Dear Dolly” really hits deep to the female artist in country music today. Has Dolly ever reached out to you about the song? The song is truly amazing! How do you feel the genre is doing with female artist on the radio now?

Ruthie Collins – I think that she has heard the song, but we have never talked about it. I know we were supposed to get coffee after her last tour was over. That reminds me, I need to follow up with my manager about that. Lol. It is so sad because I wrote that song about six years ago and at the time I wrote about my record label. I just turned in a full record I spent a year of my life on and they said we hear hits all over like this but women are too hard right now. I wrote that song about that subject because it was just so frustrating and I wished we as female artists had someone to talk to about it so I said well, Dolly would know what to do. I wrote that song with my bud, Natalie Stovall and Jessica Roadcap. It sat around for a few years until the label heard it and said “We need to release this”. I remember saying really you want to release a 6/8 ballad that is over four minutes long about how country radio will not play it? Please don’t do that to me guys, I am so excited about releasing music but that was just so interesting. It also felt a little untimely because the Tomato Gate thing had happened. I have to be honest with you; I feel people are tired of hearing all about it. Statistically it is worse now than it was then and that is really sad. I do feel that we have had some wins as women in country music and they have been big wins. Kelsea Ballarini, Maren Morris, Cam and Lauren Alaina who has a number one now. I just hope that women will continue getting chances because it only gets better and better the more we have wins. A win for one of us is a win for All of Us! People are tired of hearing about it and honestly we are tired of talking about it but it is one of those things about our lifestyle you don’t get to keep quiet. We have to keep talking about it and I truly feel it will get better and better, but Nashville needs to take some ownership of this issue as well. If you don’t sign new talent, you are going to have a record label with only a couple artists that when they need to retire you don’t have anyone to step up. If Nashville doesn’t take some ownership and start signing young talented women, cultivating relationships for them in the publishing world and the record label world it will never get better. I really want to see Nashville get behind this cause. I hear people say you know I started seeing success as a songwriter when I stopped writing songs for girls. These are women saying that and this is so true because if there is no one to produce these songs why write them. It is the whole chicken before the egg problem.

B Chord – So, we have a signature question we ask every artist that we interview. Here it goes. You are stranded on an island and you can take one instrument with you. What would it be and why?

Ruthie Collins – Oh man I would have to take…. Can it be a supernatural desert island where the sun will not hurt the item?

B Chord – Sure it can!

Ruthie Collins – I would have to take my Mom’s piano. I was really thinking a really nice 1960’s Gibson, but I have to be a little sentimental and say her piano. It is a1920’s gorgeous baby grand piano. The soundtrack to my childhood was my Mom playing this piano. She taught piano lessons so there were always kids playing on it. That would be a really special thing to have, so that would be my choice.

Ruthie has done one of the coolest things with her new album release that will be out on October 20th, 2017. She released a mini short film for songs off the album. We have attached the link below and it absolutely amazing. You will probably notice some cameos from Natalie Stovall, Nikita Karmen and Mitchell Lee. Hats off to you Ruthie for such an amazing project and we will be behind you every step of the way! Check out all the links below….

 

 

“Get Drunk and Cry” Pre-Order Here – https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/get-drunk-and-cry/id1273895234

Website – http://www.ruthiecollinsmusic.com/

Photos from Ruthie Collins Website

High Valley Brings High Energy Country Bluegrass to Today’s Music..

Curtis Rempel, one half of High Valley spoke to us about the group’s career, life in Canada as well as new music. High Valley will be the headlining act when they perform at The Hamilton in Washington, D.C. on October 18, 2017. This will be a concert you will not want to miss! Please visit their website and purchase your tickets for this event. The group wanted you know that there are VIP upgrades that will allow you in for their sound check prior to the show with swag and much more! We had the best time talking with them and cannot wait for this blockbuster night. Here is a little backstory on High Valley.

                Growing up in a remote town without TV or FM radio, Brad and Curtis Rempel listened to country radio on the only AM radio station available. High Valley is comprised of brothers Curtis and Brad who are quickly becoming known for the melodic blending of their voices paired with their expert string musicianship. Brad leads vocals and plays guitar while Curtis supports with the harmonies. The pair’s current single is “She’s With Me” and was co-written by Brad alongside Ben Stennis and High Valley’s producer Seth Mosley. High Valley’s musical influences include Ricky Skaggs, Diamond Rio, Shenandoah and the Everly Brothers. They are currently headlining the SiriusXM’s The Highway Finds Tour and I promise this is a must see!

B Chord – The first thing I want to say is I love your sound! Country music needs some of the true folk and bluegrass sound back. Did you always know Country music was for you?

Curtis High Valley – Yeah definitely! We grew up in a very rural community. We grew up on 1400 acres of farm land and horses, cows, old trucks and granaries. We are as Country as it gets. Mom and Dad would listen to country music well before we were born so it was kind of ingrained by the time in the home when we came along.

B Chord – Did either of you try solo acts before you decided on the group?

Curtis of High Valley – We have never attempted anything on our own. Brad and I are two of six siblings and we often had all six on stage with Mom and Dad. We have been eight people and as the family grew and things progressed, High Valley turned into just the two of us. Brad and I decided to pursue this full time professionally and the rest of the family is growing and having babies. It’s not like we are not we are doing that too.

B Chord – Dear Life is your fifth studio album but the first major label release. What was that process like? You both have been performing music for a while I’m sure and then you get a big label release.

Curtis of High Valley– Yeah it was huge getting the big label release. Just like anything in life, if you have something that you love you want to introduce it to other people and have them experience your new discoveries with you. That is why we all search for companions and somebody to do life with. Music is another example of that. We have discovered songs and Brad writes songs all the time and we listen to them and analyze them, pick our favorite songs that we are most proud of and count down until release day. That is the best day, because it is like a musician’s Christmas being able to share the gift with the rest of the world. The process is spaced out – we are in the studio a little bit here and there, analyze what we did and pick the best stuff and then share it with the world. We are just getting started now listening to some songs and Brad is writing like crazy. The moment we release new music the two of us are on twitter reading responses and getting energized through social media.

B Chord – So you are playing at The Hamilton in Washington DC on Oct 18th. Have you ever played in DC before? What can we expect if we have never seen your show?

Curtis of High Valley – I believe we did a couple small acoustic venues, but this will be our first headline show in Washington, D.C. We are really excited about that. High Valley’s goal is to get everyone on their feet as much as we can dancing and clapping and having a great time. Brad and I love to have a lot of fun, joke around a lot with high energy acoustic vibes with the mandolin, banjo and dobro. It is a high energy bluegrass/ country experience!  

B Chord – One of my favorite songs is Dear Life and happens to be the title track. Can you tell us a little about the song and the writing process? It makes me feel that the questions I ask every day are normal.

Curtis of High Valley – Dear Life is a very special song for the two of us. As you mention, these are the crazy times. We had our first major label release last year and we just can’t believe what is happening right now on the road touring our faces off right now. It is a diary entry expressing our emotions about celebrating how crazy our life is right now. We have so many good things happening and time is going by so fast that we are trying to savor these moments right here, right now. Our kids, our families, and our career all at the same time is a struggle all at the same time, but because it is so good you want it to last. So the song is an emotional song about all of those feelings and experiences.

B Chord – How did the transition go from coming from Canada and having good success to then coming into the US and going straight up the charts in country music?

Curtis of High Valley – Well, I will tell you exactly what it was like. We were a brand new act in Canada a handful of years ago and now High Valley once again is a brand new act in the United States. So we feel that we are veteran rookies if you know what I am saying. We have had a lot of practice in the brand new act department. We love running the process again and building a brand in a new territory. The US population is about ten times the size of Canada so there are a lot of impressions out there to make.

B Chord – Biggest thing you miss from Canada?

Curtis of High Valley – Oh let’s see. You know what I miss, in the summer the sun only goes down for a couple hours especially in the north where we grew up. I truly miss those long summer nights where you could hang out outside around the campfire and you can see everyone’s face until 2 in the morning. You never have to go to bed, because you are getting the energy from the sunlight.

B Chord – I want to ask a question and you can pass on it if you want. I know you recently played Rt 91 Harvest in Vegas. I know all of our hearts are breaking over what happened. Country music is one of the closest knit groups I have ever seen. They love country music and they support the genre. You guys played on the 29th right? Is there anything you want to say about the tragedy?

Curtis of High Valley – Obviously just a really sad and tragic event that everybody wishes would not have had to happen. Brad and I just feel that it is definitely our responsibility to continue doing what we are doing. Keep creating what we create which is our art and use it to bring light into a world that seems very, very dark at times. We know that we have the gift of music and it is our responsibility to share it with the world whether we are scared or not. This is not going to get in the way of entertaining people and allowing families to have a great time and getting together listening to music. Unfortunately, now it is on our minds now when we think about what stages we are going to be performing on and it really sucks that somebody had to do something that evil. We have to think about those sorts of things now. I think we would be losing if we decided to stop bringing families together and having a good time, so we will not do that anytime soon and we are excited to get back on the road and on the stage. It was so great to see the community of country fans embrace each other, having strangers helping strangers. It is truly amazing to see the beauty that comes out of such a tragedy. We are so lucky and blessed to be a part of this community for sure.

B Chord – Being brothers, I am sure you have some great experiences but do you all have any fun little disagreements on the road?

Curtis of High Valley – Fun disagreements is that what you just said. Ha. I think the biggest is debating between health foods and cheeseburgers! Brad is a pretty fit guy looking for the low carb/high protein healthy situations and whenever I see a neon sign that says cheeseburger I get all excited like Christmas! That is the constant struggle that we have.

B Chord – What instruments can both of you play?

Curtis of High Valley – Well, I play Mandolin and guitar and little bit of banjo. I play a little and hesitate to call myself a banjo player because I do not compare to the people that I idolize. I do hold a banjo on stage sometimes though. Brad sticks with guitar.

B Chord – So we ask all of the groups that we interview the same question and here it goes. You are stranded on an island and you can take one instrument with you. What would it be and why?

Curtis of High Valley – I think I would bring a guitar. It would have to be my 1971 Yamaki Japanese made rosewood back and sides, spruce top dreadnought that I found on EBay for $300.00. It was cheap but it is not replaceable and I really love the vintage sound that it’s got. I would choose a guitar because it is the most versatile instrument. I love the mandolin and I love the banjo, but they don’t resonate quite as long. A guitar is just so versatile and I just love the guitar.

B Chord – Thank you so much for spending the time with us and we truly appreciate your time. Keep up the great work!

Curtis – Thanks a lot and we appreciate it as well.

Below you will find all of High Valley’s links to social media and websites. Please make sure you upgrade and purchase the VIP Ticket for the show at The Hamilton for a once in a life time experience.

VIP Status for The Hamilton Upgrade – http://highvalley.storenvy.com/products/21311420-10-18-washington-dc

High Valley’s Website – http://www.highvalleymusic.com/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/highvalleyofficial/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/highvalley

Twitter – https://twitter.com/highvalley

Spotify – ttps://open.spotify.com/user/highvalleymusic/playlist/4jCqSlhMevu51ljSBqBHmy

iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/dear-life/id1163770854

Image result for high valley album artwork

Christian Lopez Aims “Red Arrow” at Annapolis…

Christian Lopez Annapolis

 

On Saturday September 2nd, I headed to downtown Annapolis to see a matinee show with Christian Lopez who opened up for Sister Hazel at Rams Head On Stage. I was able to watch the concert and then meet with him at 49 West , a perfect coffee shop and restaurant to conduct our interview.

Christian Lopez is a Martinsburg, WV native who now lives in Nashville, TN and has devoted his life to music. He is a singer/songwriter who is poised and ready to release his new album “Red Arrow” on September 22nd with Blaster Records.

I was seated at a table with a very nice couple that knew Christian very well. They love his music and have followed him for quite some time. They shared how much of an amazing talent he is and the kindest and most humble person in the world. There was a terrific crowd for the matinee show.

Christian took the stage with his coffee in hand from his stroll through downtown Annapolis prior to the show. He introduced himself and explained how much he loved the area. It was from that moment on that he started to win over a crowd that was there primarily to see Sister Hazel. He picked up his acoustic guitar, walked to the mic stand and began playing. The best way to describe Christian’s performance is that every song that he played made you feel like you were a part of it and the story that he was telling. One of my favorite moments that evening was when he took out the harmonica and made it talk. His vocals were so pure and talented. He played heartfelt ballads as well as some up-tempo feel good tunes. At one point, I had to tell myself, wow it is just him playing and not a guitarist accompanying him. He is also a true musician on the strings. After every song the applause grew louder and louder. I guarantee everyone walked out of this show knowing who Christian Lopez was and wanted to purchase his music. He truly was born for an acoustic set.

A very touching moment was when Christian talked about the song “Steel on the Water” He told us a story about how after his 21st birthday he went to Pearl Harbor and boarded a vessel to perform for the troops. He met so many people his own age and realized the sacrifice they were making as well as the pride each had for their country. As he started playing the song it truly painted a picture for me. We were blocks from the Naval Academy where our service men and women sacrifice so much for our freedom. It was such an amazing moment. I truly recommend listening to this song as it will pull at your heartstrings.

He began playing his last song and was almost finished when one of his strings snapped on his acoustic. Like a pro, he stopped and said “Well, this is a first. Don’t worry we will get through it!” He even joked about not having a guitar tech with him on this road trip. At that moment, he was given Drew’s guitar from Sister Hazel. He then treated us to another song to close out the set. Christian is releasing his album Red Arrow on September 22nd and I highly recommend pre-ordering it now. I promise you everyone will know the name Christian Lopez very soon!

We then walked down to 49 West and had a bite to eat while discussing his career thus far. The food and atmosphere was incredible! I hope you enjoy!

B Chord – So Christian, Rolling Stone names you as one of the “10 New Country Artists You Need To Know” how does that make you feel?

Christian Lopez – You know, when I saw that and I had got a heads up a couple days before it came out I thought, every day in this world of music you are trying to get to that next small goal. Pieces of press and good shows that happen to the one bigger goal. When something comes out like Rolling Stone, it kind of helps you put into perspective what you have done, where you have come and it is validating. It is a great reminder and motivator to keep going and be proud of what you have done. It is an amazing feeling. The thing that I love about it the most is validating feeling of all the hard work you put in.

B Chord – “Red Arrow” your new album has a release date of September 22nd. Tell us a little about the project and the feel of the music.

Christian Lopez – I stated pre production for the album last October. It has been a long time. I started working with my producer Marshall Altman. The 2 years after my first album “Onward” came out I had 40 or 50 songs I wanted to consider but I knew the record needed to flow as not only, one piece of art but also a narrative of its own. So song production is a big thing and pre-production that’s what you hash out. You figure out what songs your going to choose and how you’re going to record them in sequencing. Overall vibe of the album as one piece and that is what I worked on for half a year to a year with Marshall. Then we went into the studio for 5 or 6 months to record it. But it was extremely thorough unlike my last album. Part of getting the magic on the last album was moving fast. But I really wanted to take things slow this time and we did. I feel like I gave this album “Red Arrow” everything that I had and it is a line in my song “Swim The River”. The final verse it says “I’m not good at aiming but I am taking every shot pointing my red arrow at your heart”. Basically that is symbolizing I am giving all I have, everything that is me, I am throwing it in to this situation. I am putting all my eggs in one basket and we will see what happens. I’m taking that shot. Sometimes doubt gets in the way and failure and sometimes you just need to do it. It represents this whole record and my 5 years being on the road working with this label at my age. It is where I am in my life.

B Chord – We watched the video for “Don’t Wanna Say Goodnight” on CMT and it is fantastic. Can you tell us where you filmed it and the process behind it?

Christian Lopez – We filmed it with Steve Condon and he is just awesome. The whole video was filmed in East Nashville but the main party scene is at a store called Old Made Good, awesome place. It is a thrift shop in town and we made it look like this cool old living room with a house party. We went to a laundry mat literally right next door to shoot those scenes. We took a mid 60’s Lesabre but that was a total car rental. I took that down the Percy Priest and that is where I jump off that cliff into the water. We then went to a bowling alley on the south side and shot that too. It was just all random places throughout Nashville. We tried to stick to the outskirts and I think it turned out great. It took us a couple days and then came back to shoot a few more scenes. Cece Hetrick is the girl in the video. She is actually a musician and also does some video work as well. A lot of my friends are the extras in the video and all the dance scenes were professional dancers. The people that dance really good weren’t my friends (said with a laugh). It was wonderful.

B Chord – You worked with Grammy-winning producer Dave Cobb on your last album. Many know him because of his connection with Chris Stapleton. Tell us a little about Dave and working with him.

Christian Lopez – Dave is amazing. I remember when Dave told me about Chris Stapleton for the first time. I didn’t know who he was. He told me “I just got hired to make this record for Stapleton” and we listen to the album in the studio when he was making “Onward” we had just finished it. We all were there listening, crying when we heard “Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore”. It is crazy to have gone from there to then seeing Stapleton absolutely rule the world. Dave works in a very interesting way, which I think is a beautiful way of capturing the magic. His thing is taking first reactions and I felt it was a great way to make my first record. It was a lot of who I was as a kid but also my live show. Every day you learn what to do and what not to do. I learned from Dave that I need to trust myself and trust my gut. My gut feeling after working with Dave was do a record where I could really dive into it and take my time and be thorough. Working with Dave was amazing and I am glad I have the opportunity to try different things with other producers as well.

B Chord – How are you feeling leading up to the release of “Red Arrow” on September 22nd?

Christian Lopez – You know I am so excited. I wasn’t as involved on my first album. It moved very fast and I trusted in everyone that they were taking care of everything. This time I am involved in every step. I am on the phone at least once day asking how is everything, where are we. I really wanted to be hands on and involved in the process more. We are playing a show in my home town of Martinsburg, WV. the day after it comes out at the Shenandoah Hotel. See the problem with West Virginia is we do not have many concert venues. So a lot of the time we need to find the spot and make it. We contact the hotel and we will have the whole downstairs set up for the show. It is going to be great. I haven’t played there since my first album came out. I always try to bring those big milestones to my hometown. I am very excited and truly looking forward to it.

B Chord – I love the song “Swim The River”. It is very American and country routed. Did you write that song and where did you get the idea?

Christian Lopez – Well thank you so much for saying that. I co-wrote that song with my buddy Jordan Lawhead in Nashville. I remember I went over to his place and we were sitting on the deck. He was smoking weed out of an apple. I did not partake in the smoking but I will say I ate the apple after. We were just sitting around picking and the idea came out and the song was born.

B Chord – Favorite song to play live?

Christian Lopez – Hmm that is a really good question. You have me going through my albums and sets. I would have to say it is “Steel on the Water” That song is so heartfelt and has such a special meaning. When I wrote that song after the trip, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t offend anyone in the process. It made me realize that there are kids my age out there risking it all. I wanted to honor them with that song. It was so cool to play that today in Annapolis.

B Chord – We have a signature question that we ask at every interview. You are stranded on an island and you can only have one guitar with you. What would it be?

Christian Lopez – Oh well that is easy. It would be my broken string Fairbuilt I played today (making both of us chuckle). I love that guitar. It was built by Marty Fair just for me. So that is the only one like and it is mine. I really like that question.

I would like to thank Christian again for his time that he spent with us. He lived up to the hype and I have to say he is one of the most humble, kind and well rounded individuals I have met. I know he has some pretty amazing things coming his way.

 

Please check out the links below for Christian Lopez’s music, website and social media.

Christian Lopez

Website – http://christianlopezmusic.com/

Rolling Stone Article – http://www.rollingstone.com/country/lists/10-new-country-artists-you-need-to-know-july-2017-w491510/christian-lopez-w491513

“Don’t Wanna Say Goodnight” Video – http://www.cmt.com/videos/christian-lopez/1732031/dont-wanna-say-goodnight.jhtml

Shenandoah Hotel Release Party “Red Arrow” tickets – http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3044133

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Clopezmusic/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/clopezmusic/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Clopezmusic

Spotify – https://play.spotify.com/artist/1znIH6fNMWar92jiLLW1Eo

Fairbuilt Guitars

http://www.fairbuilt.com/

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ChristianLopez-byRobbyKlein-2017-6781

Photo by Robby Klein