Vikki McGee – Two Bottles

Armed with deep musical heritage, Vikki McGee has enjoyed a long and quite diverse musical career. Hailing from the small town of Port Barre’, Louisiana, Vikki followed in the musical footsteps of her great grandfather, the famed Cajun fiddler, Dennis McGee, and her uncle, the highly-acclaimed, and member of the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame Gerry McGee.

 Vikki is a singer-songwriter with a rich voice and an uncanny ability to deliver a song in such a way that, no matter the message, the listener’s experience is filled with the intended emotion. Extreme versatility is often used when describing Vikki’s style and artistry. During one week in October 2017, Vikki took her band to perform at the Johnny Cash Heritage Festival in Dyess, Arkansas, and then three days later, she performed as the Guest Artist with the Delta Symphony Orchestra at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Arkansas. She also performed at the Arkansas Roots Festival in the summer of 2017. The four-time winner of the readers’ choice award for “Best Musician” (Occasions Magazine), Vikki entertains a wide variety of audiences and wins over fans with her authentic, soulful and effortless sound.

Growing up in South Louisiana, Vikki was exposed to many genres of music and quickly developed an affinity for Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Ray Charles, and Johnny Cash. By the age of 14, she was talking her way into places that were willing to let her sing. She quickly went from weddings and social gatherings to opening shows for artists such as Tanya Tucker, Restless Heart, Little Texas and Tracy Lawrence. After the sudden death of her husband, who was also her lead guitarist, Vikki passed on a pending record deal to raise her then two young children. A choice she has never once regretted. After the hiatus, Vikki returned to the scene with a renewed perspective and has since been consistently playing shows throughout the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta Region for the past 15 years. She recently commented on her musical career, “I am fortunate to have worked with and been mentored by so many talented musicians, including another Uncle, Randy Latiolais and South Louisiana’s Ted Broussard. But I truly believe God gave me this voice and talent, and He has blessed me beyond measure, so none of this career would have been possible without Him.”

Whether with her full band on a large stage, or with her guitar in a living room for a House Concert, Vikki delivers her music with the same honesty and humility. As she often says, “Whether for 2 or 2,000, you give the same show.” Such unassuming talent is rare and undoubtedly intended to be heard.

Heather Whitney – Moving On

Singer. Songwriter. Heather Whitney comes from an itty bitty, one red light town deep in the pines of Southeast Texas where the mosquitoes are big but her love for music is bigger!

Heather’s new album, “Moving On” is full of love, heartbreak, and moving on. This album is everything she lived through, felt and overcame while in the studio. “Just because you’re working towards your dreams doesn’t mean that the world stops spinning and hardships won’t find you. What gave me strength to complete my album was knowing that I was not alone & that someone else out there would hear these songs, relate to them and possibly gain some healing like I did. We have to stick together.”

Heather Whitney has spent the last year flying back and forth from Newton, TX to Nashville, TN writing, hand picking songs for the album and recording with producer, Buddy Hyatt. She just wrapped and released her first music video for her single “Shut Up And Dance” (Now available on ITunes)!

“Everyone who was apart of this project was there because of their belief in me and I’m forever humbled and thankful for them and this experience. Everything that I put into this album will absolutely translate to the listener! Hope y’all enjoy it!”

Laura Benitez And The Heartache – With All Its Thorns

Laura Benitez and the Heartache use the three chord tools of country music to tell the simple, unvarnished truth about lovetoo much whiskey, and the call of the road. Their twangy honesty shines through in straightforward arrangements, crystalline harmonies, and spare instrumentation. Beware their catchy hooks and sweet melodies – these stray puppy tunes will follow you home.

Laura Benitez’s new album, “With All Its Thorns,” is an autobiographical collection of loving, open, vulnerable and ultimately heartbreaking songs. With her delicately distinctive voice, Benitez pulls from traditional country music and brings the sound to the present-day.

Mike McCarroll – Mysterious

Mike McCarroll music runs the gamut from outlaw country to southern rock to bluegrass and features world-class guest musicians with Mike’s signature vocals as the glue that pulls it all together.

 

Album Notes
Mike McCarroll is back with his fourth studio album and the best one yet. True to his focus on providing a little something for everyone, this ten-track album titled “Mysterious” runs the gamut from outlaw country, to southern rock to bluegrass. It features many great performances from world-class guest musicians. Mike’s signature vocals are the glue that pulls it all together.
Mysterious was produced and engineered by J. David Leonard, who also produced two previous MM albums “Honky Tonk Dreams” and “Twanglish”. The album was recorded mostly in Atlanta with some tracks recorded in Nashville and Murfreesboro, TN. This time around Mike combines some classic covers along with his original tunes.
The opener “Sweet Kentucky Girl” is an original, upbeat, and amusing pure bluegrass tune written by MM. Recorded mostly on Music Row in Nashville, it features Rhonda Vincent’s lead guitarist Josh Williams on some incredibly fast flat-picking guitar, banjo and mandolin. Todd Parks, bassist for Sam Bush provides excellent upright bass on this fun tune.
The second track, is a cover of an early Travis Tritt song titled “Restless Kind”. This one has a little different take on Travis’ arrangement, moving it more into the southern rock arena and framing it more as a biker tune. This was done deliberately so as not to try and simply copy his version. The song features Tritt’s lead guitarist Wendell Cox who played on the original song, Sara Evans’ fiddle player Bethany Olds Dick and Boz Scaggs drummer David Northrup. The arrangement was changed slightly adding somewhat of a Bo Diddly drum beat in portions of the song along with an organ track reminiscent of Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild” The song begins and ends with roaring motorcycle sounds giving it a real outlaw feel.
The third tune is a cover of Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”. This is a fun, upbeat country/bluegrass version featuring Wendell Cox on lead guitar, Josh Williams on mandolin. MM has been performing this song at live shows as a crowd sing-a-long for awhile and wanted to include a studio version of it on this record.
Track four is a cover of Candi Staton’s “I Ain’t Easy To Love” and was featured in the movie Muscle Shoals. This song is performed as a duet featuring blues artist Vallery Barbin who provides exceptional and very soulful vocals reminiscent of a combination of Stevie Nicks and Janice Joplin. While the original was very much R&B, this song was moved slightly towards a bluesy southern rock arrangement with fabulous guitar work by Jody Worrell.
The fifth song is a new MM original titled “In The Middle” with a distinct Waylon Jennings kind-of-feel to it. It features Wendell Cox using a B-Bender on his Fender Telecaster, Bethany Olds Dick on fiddle and David Northrup on drums.
Song number six is an upbeat, original rocking country tune titled “Good Thing Goin’ On”. The feel of this tune slightly reminds you of Wild Angels by Martina McBride with blazing pedal steel by the incredible Tommy Dodd, killer rock guitar by producer David Leonard, kicking drums by David Northrup. A little bass synthesizer was added for some extra texture, punch and bottom end. This is a song that you will keep coming back to it over and over.
Number seven is a song of lost love called “Signed, Sealed and Delivered”. The song laments finding a break up letter and the mixed emotions of a sudden, unexpected loss of a trusted significant other. It features a super powerful lead guitar solo by the amazing Jody Worrell that is dripping with raw feeling. The harmony vocals lend an Eagles-type feel to this bluesy country tune.
“Take It On Home” is the eighth track and is a rousing, rocking outlaw country “go away, get lost” song written by MM. Wendell Cox kicks it off with some killer guitar licks and later cranks it out with a combo Sturgill Simpson/Waylon Jennings smoking-hot solo that kicks some serious butt. Tommy Dodd tears it up on pedal steel. This is pure Mike McCarroll country-with-an-attitude music and he clearly enjoys singing it.
Track nine is a slow sweet, original country love song titled “Stay Home With You Tonight” written by Mike. Listeners will enjoy Tommy Dodd’s perfect pedal steel playing and the tight harmony vocals that make this song one you will want to play again and again.
The title cut “Mysterious” is the tenth and final track. This is a special song to Mike. His former lead guitarist, the late Perry Ray Boyce asked him to co-write it shortly before he passed away from brain cancer. Mike finished and recorded the song in memory of him. Perry wanted it to be modeled after an early Atlanta Rhythm Section sound. Steve Stone, lead guitarist for Atlanta Rhythm Section and Wendell Cox put the mojo on this tune bringing it true to form with ARS-style screaming guitars. The song features a late Paul Goddard-style bass solo and a Dean Daughtry-style Wurley by David Leonard. This one is pure southern rock through and through with an outro guitar solo that ARS fans will absolutely love.
The album is in final production and should be released in about a month.
Session musicians include:
Wendell Cox – lead guitarist for Travis Tritt
Josh Williams – lead guitarist for Rhonda Vincent
Steve Stone – lead guitarist for Atlanta Rhythm Section
David Northrup – drummer for Boz Scaggs
Bethany Olds Dick – fiddle player for Sara Evans & Pam Tillis
Todd Parks – bassist for Sam Bush
Tommy Dodd – pedal steel player for numerous top artists
Jody Worrell – former lead guitarist for Atlanta
Vallery Barbin – blues artist and “Second Life” avatar Noma Falta
J. David Leonard – producer, engineer and multi-instrumentalist

Shelly Jones Band – Highways

 

A mix of contemporary and traditional country with a little rockabilly thrown in for added spice.

John Paul Von Arx – Break Through

Country music through and through, John Paul reawakens the sounds he grew up loving with his melodic guitar lines and real-life lyrics.

Album Notes
John Paul uses his love for country music and guitar to connect with his fans. Whether he’s playing at a music festival, doing radio interviews, or leading worship at his church, he writes his music to be relatable to all potential listeners. In his song “He’s Different” he opens up about the hidden beauty in life having a brother with Down Syndrome. In “Cell Phone Blues” he demonstrates his fun-loving personality and guitar prowess in what he hopes will be an addition to every summer playlist for country music lovers.

Chris Hennessee – Ramble

Chris Hennessee says-
“Not so many years ago I loaded up the Ford Ranger and made my way out of my home town of Decatur, TN headed for Nashville. In the years that followed I have been blessed to have the opportunity to write with some of the most talented people in the world and play with the most talented musicians. I’ve also been blessed with cuts on records like Billy Currington’s “A Little Bit Of Everything” as well as Kevin Fowler, Corey Morrow, Rodney Carrington, and Cody Johnson albums. Recently a song I wrote with my friends The Wild Feathers titled “Hennessee” was featured on the hit TV show “Nashville”.
Since the Fall of 2012 I’ve been a member of one of the best bands on the road backing my good friend Mr. Jamey Johnson. With Jamey I’ve had the opportunity to share the stage with some of my musical heros like Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris and Allison Krause just to name a few.”

Great review here

https://www.savingcountrymusic.com/album-review-chris-hennessees-ramble/

 

Blue Yonder – Rough And Ready Heart

 

Every Tuesday evening since early 2013, Blue Yonder, a trio of nationally-known musicians representing diverse strands of Americana musical traditions, has given people in a small Charleston, WV, venue a soul-cleansing way to connect with themselves and each other.

With the February 2018 release of their new record- ing Rough and Ready Heart, Blue Yonder plans to bring this same experience to new audiences in similarly intimate settings beyond their home state of West Virginia.

Anchored in compelling grooves of classic country, rockabilly, swing and folk music, the band presents original songs about “living, loving and los- ing along life’s backroads and highways” that people from all walks of life can relate to.

“My songs tell stories that anyone who’s been in re- lationships or set out on a road trip can relate to, no matter where they come from,” says John Lilly, Blue Yonder’s national award-winning, and nationally traveled, performing songwriter. “It’s been great to be able to work in my home town with guys who ap- preciate playing mostly original music, and to share that music every week with our regulars, who keep coming back to hear new material.”

Blue Yonder guitarist Robert Shafer, noting the many styles of Lilly’s songwriting, appreciates that “with Blue Yonder I can stretch out more than I can with most bands.” One of few to win the prestigious Win eld Walnut Valley national at-picking contest more than once, Shafer is also known as a “spectacular rockabilly guitarist who also brings swing and bop in uences to his playing” (Washington Post).

Blue Yonder upright bass player and producer Will Carter, best known for founding the global summit of old-time musicians at the annual “Clifftop” festival in WV, reports that for him “an evening with Blue Yonder is like telling tales around a camp re – the stories we tell take me out of my speci c situation and connect me, through shared experiences and emotions, with everyone in the room.”

Recorded at Echo Mountain Recording Studios in Asheville, NC, Rough and Ready Heart introduces listeners to charac- ters dealing with life and death, love and loss, memories and aspirations – with stories set to a pleasing arc of Amer- icana styles ranging from barn-burning rockers to gentle waltzes to mournful ballads to inspirational anthems. The band’s debut recording, Bittersweet Road, features all origi- nal songs and reached #2 on the Freeform American Roots radio chart in late 2013. 

The Ragtone Ramblers – Ragtone Stomp

Playing in the pocket where country and jazz unashamedly mingle, The Ragtone Ramblers first release Ragtone Stomp, represents 12 months of careful songwriting and captures a sound that is both unique and strangely familiar.

The six tracks showcase a style distilled from the great hillbilly, honkytonk and western swing acts of the early 20th century with hints of jugband, Dixieland and country blues also getting a nod. The recording retains the warmth and character of the bands vintage sound and energetic live shows.

The sweet country twang of three distinct vocalists and songwriting styles blend seamlessly against a back drop of steel guitar, slappin’ bass, tenor banjo and the rattle of the washboard.

Introduced by a mutual friend who just knew they’d be great together, the band formed in early 2017, after realising they shared a common love of early American roots music and vintage instruments.

Evolving from bands including Floyd Family Breakdown, Mayhem County Boys and the Sugar Shakers – the Ragtone Ramblers recorded on this release are: Dennis Duigan (vocals, guitar, mandolin, harp), Mitch Humphrys (vocals, archtop guitar, steel guitar, tenor banjo), Paula Hackney (vocals, washboard, tenor banjo and snare). Toby Mellonie plays double bass at live shows.

The High Country Cowboys – Great American Cowboy

Award winning yodeling and Traditional Western Harmony with a Classic sound similar to the original Sons of the Pioneers.
 

Remembering the good old days of Western Music and the Silver Screen Cowboys like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and the Sons of the Pioneers, the High Country Cowboys present to you, their brand of this Classic Genre! Born and raised in Montana, the three brothers John, Joe and Marty were brought up in the heart of ranch country where the roads are all dirt, and the cows still out number the people! They grew up watching the old B-western films on VHS which instilled in them their love for the west and of course cowboy music. Since their beginning in 2014, they have been recognized by different associations across the country. Their lead singer Marty has been awarded as Western Music Associations ‘Yodeler of the Year’ 3 times and once with the Pro Cowboy Country Artist Association. The PCCAA Also awarded the group as “Music Group of the Year” in 2017. They also received “Best Traditional Album of the Year” with the WMA IN 2017. Their traditional sound and three part western harmony has been compared to the Sons of the Pioneers and Marty Robbins.