Events

Faster Horses 2018

Friday

Jul 20, 2018 – All Day

(daily until Jul 22, 2018)

12626 U.S. 12
Brooklyn, MI 49230 Map

  • Walker Hayes
  • Tyler Farr
  • Blake Shelton
  • Parmalee
  • Brooks and Dunn
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Brantley Gilbert
  • Billy Currington
  • Chris Janson
  • LoCash
  • RaeLynn
  • Dustin Lynch
  • Ashley McBryde
  • Midland

More Info

99.5 WYCD presents the 3-day music & camping festival with today’s hottest and up-and-coming artists! It’s the #PartyOfTheSummer!

Three-day wristbands go on sale Friday, February 9th!
Walker Hayes: Walker Hayes had no business being in Nashville, yet here he is. He may have moved to Music City on a lark, but his determination—and a loving and supportive wife—helped him develop talents he didn’t know he had.

Raised in Mobile, Ala., in a “Brady Bunch” household—his parents each brought four children to a blended family before making Walker the ninth—he discovered music early in his life. His father was a former music minister and one of his half-sisters once auditioned for “Star Search.”

“My parents once caught me conducting Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony,” Walker admits. “I’ve always been different.”

While he learned piano at a young age, Walker was torn between music and sports. “I grew up an athlete/ choirboy in turmoil,” the boyishly handsome singer-songwriter says. “Half my friends were jocks and half were in choral. I was pulled between them.”

He eventually chose sports. “Music was my back-up plan,” he admits now with a chuckle. But despite his affinity for sports, particularly track and basketball, the call of the stage was too strong.

Walker performed in musicals while in high school, which is where he met his now-wife, Laney—they co-starred in the school’s production of Little Shop of Horrors.

He completed a degree in general music with an emphasis on piano in just two years at Birmingham-Southern College and then attended the University of North Carolina before moving back to Mobile to work in real estate with his father and half-brothers.

But his father could see how much Walker missed music, so he convinced a waitress at a local restaurant to let his son play a few songs. Walker took the job, though he was hardly prepared. “I played five songs over and over for an hour,” he admits now. Still, it was enough for him to reignite his passion.

Faced with the choice between a corporate job and pursuing a fanciful dream, the now-engaged Walker opted for the latter.

He and Laney moved to Nashville immediately after their honeymoon. There was only one problem—he was moving to the songwriting Mecca of modern music and he had barely written two songs in his life. “I didn’t know anything about writing,” he says.

Undeterred by his shortcomings, or perhaps oblivious to them, Walker performed two cover songs at an open mic night at the famed songwriter’s hangout, the Bluebird Café.

Determined to make it in Music City, Walker honed his songwriting skills and a year after moving to Nashville he had a publishing deal.

Hit songwriter Paul Nelson (“Lessons Learned”) was an early supporter. “I don’t know why he took me under his wing, but he gave me an office at his house and wrote with me every week for two years straight. I learned a lot from him,” Walker says.

Still, success didn’t come immediately. “I did a lot of yard work,” he says with a laugh. He also performed on the streets of Nashville’s Lower Broadway, playing for tips and honing his performance skills. “I just went down there and found an empty corner. It was kind of scary, but it was also liberating,” Walker admits. “It was good for my soul.”

At around the same time, Walker began playing at Puckett’s Grocery, a well-known area haunt famous for its songwriter nights. “I wanted to get out of the writers room and take my music to the masses,” Walker says. “Puckett’s was my first regular gig in Nashville.”

After a few false starts, Walker caught the attention of Autumn House, an A&R executive at Capitol Records Nashville, who had heard his voice on a few song demos pitched to Keith Urban. Intrigued, she brought him to label president Mike Dungan, who quickly signed him to the label.

Walker’s signing typified the business plan of Capitol Nashville, which aims to sign unique artists to their roster.

Because of his unique style and creativity, Walker and the label wanted to look beyond Nashville for a producer who could bring his material to life. Los Angeles-based producer Marshall Altman (Marc Broussard, Matt Wertz) fit the bill. Altman fell in love with what he heard and agreed to take on the project.

The combination was magic. That Walker’s influences are varied—he counts the Oak Ridge Boys, Mariah Carey, Steve Miller, Sugar Hill Gang, John Michael Montgomery, Keith Whitley, Don Williams and classical music among his guilty pleasures—is evident when one listens to his debut album. “I like all music,” Walker confesses.

He attributes his diverse appreciation to listening to the radio as he grew up—and the local Waffle House jukebox. He knew every time a new song was added to the jukebox’s playlist.

Perhaps not surprisingly given his quick learning curve, Walker’s debut album, Reason To Rhyme, doesn’t sound like a debut at all. It reminds one of a polished stone, not a diamond in the rough. The album is rife with picturesque images of love and lust with just the right dash of his trademark sense of humor.

The album’s title is a tribute to his wife, who has fully supported Walker’s crazy dream. “It’s nice to hear your wife say, ‘I'm with you, not because I'm biased, but because you’re crazy good and you’re talented,’” he says.

With song titles like “Mama’s Hot” and “Naked,” it seems obvious what Walker has on his mind. But looks (and song titles) can be deceiving. Take “Naked,” for example. While the song and its lyrics can be taken at face value hey baby let’s get naked, a closer look reveals that the singer is talking about revealing one’s inner most thoughts and feelings.

Walker is a romantic, no doubt. “I get off on finding new ways to tell my wife ‘I love you,’” the father of three admits.

“Pants,” the debut single from Reason To Rhyme, which not so coyly states, she can wear the pants as long as I can take them off her, is also a study in contradictions. “I wrote that totally for Laney,” Walker says. “She is so much better than me at so many things—for example parenting our kids—and I will bow down and cower to whatever she says. She does wear the pants and I’m OK with that, as long as I can take them off her.”

“Kitchen Table” equates relationships with the dents and dings that come with the wear and tear of life. “Relationships are kind of like leather shoes,” Walker explains. “They're dinged up but comfortable, and that's kind of how me and Laney are.”

Walker’s music also reflects his unique sense of humor. “My Best Friend’s Fiancé,” for example, which finds the singer in lust with his friend’s intended and which rhymes “fiancé” with “Beyonce,” was written “just for fun,” Walker admits.

Sticks-in-your-head, “Wax Paper Cups,” paints an enticing picture of a day at the beach with a loved one, complete with his trademark love for Icees, George Strait music and a tailgate.

No matter what happens next, Walker has proved that dreams, with a heaping helping of determination, can come true. The man who sang cover tunes at the Bluebird Café is now a songwriter of extraordinary proportions. “From now until the day that I die I can get up and write a song and hopefully it will be better than the last one I wrote,” he says.

Tyler Farr: Born and raised in the small town of Garden City, Missouri, Tyler grew up hunting and fishing, playing football and baseball, and of course, singing. At the age of 16 he had the opportunity of going on the road with country music legend, George Jones. That was all it took for him to realize that's what he wanted to do. With the help of a friend and hunting buddy, Rhett Akins, Tyler began to move forward in the industry. For the past year Tyler has been writing for Sony BMG's publishing company "Monument" and working with Jim Catino. He continues to write music on a weekly basis and get in his deer stand when he can find the time. For the following year Tyler will be on the road opening and playing for Colt Ford. Look for his upcoming songs on I-Tunes and playing around a hometown near you!--------- " A big thanks goes to Colt Ford for giving me this great opportunity, my fans and everyone supporting me. Without you it would be much harder. Another thanks goes to God for believing in me when no one else did and standing by my side both day and night through thick and thin. I am grateful for everything You have given me. And lastly, I want to thank my family for loving and supporting me all these years. Thank you and God Bless." -------Tyler Farr-------

Blake Shelton: Born in Ada, Oklahoma, Blake Shelton took to music from an early age. He learned to play guitar at age 12, and by the time he was 16, he was already an award-winning, amateur musician. After graduating high school, Shelton journeyed to Nashville to pursue his dreams of country music superstardom. The young singer didn’t have to wait long; his debut single, “Austin”, from his self-titled debut album shot to the top of Billboard’s Country chart, and even broke into the Top 100. The album itself quickly went platinum, and set the stage for his illustrious career.

Shelton’s third album, Blake Shelton’s Barn & Grill, featured two Top 10 singles (“Goodbye Time” and “Nobody But Me”), as well as the #1 smash hit single “Some Beach”. As with his debut album, Blake Shelton’s Barn & Grill also went platinum. In 2007, Shelton began appearing on television singing competitions, appearing as a judge on Nashville Star. He also released his fourth album, Pure B.S., which featured the hit singles “Don’t Make Me” and “The More I Drink”. He scored another hit when the album was re-released the next year, with Michael Bublé’s cover of his song “Home”.

In 2010, Shelton released his first original E.P., Hillbilly Bone, which featured the acclaimed, self-titled duet with Trace Adkins. That same year, he also released his first “Greatest Hits” album. Shortly after the album’s release, Shelton received an invitation to join the prestigious Grand Ole Opry; he was inducted by Trace Adkins in October of 2010. Shelton released his sixth studio album, Red River Blue, in 2011. The album set the record for fastest gold certification by a male country singer, and featured a slew of #1 singles. 2011 was also the year that he became an original judge on Season 1 of The Voice, where he has become a national sensation due to his successful finalists and friendly feud with co-star Adam Levine.

In 2012, Shelton released his first Christmas album, Cheers, It’s Christmas, which topped both Holiday and Country charts. His eighth studio album, Based on a True Story, set yet another record, as Shelton gained the most #1 singles of any male country singer. His next album, Bringing in the Sunshine, topped the Billboard 200 and eventually went platinum. 2016's If I'm Honest was possibly Shelton's most introspective record to date, and was heavily influenced by his tumultuous personal life in 2015. Audiences and critics responded enthusiastically, and the album has since attained gold certification. Also in 2016, the country star earned his fifth victory as a coach on The Voice, mentoring singer Sundance Head to a win in the final round.

Parmalee: From this tiny town that’s home to a gas station, two blinking yellow lights, and a small tin-roofed barn dubbed Studio B, country rockers Parmalee launched their long journey to Nashville. The near-fatal robbery Parmalee experienced after a show would have destroyed most bands. But brothers Matt and Scott Thomas, cousin Barry Knox and longtime friend Josh McSwain didn't call it quits. Instead it reinforced their intense motivation and dedication to one another and to their determination to succeed.

Each obstacle that delayed Parmalee’s arrival to Nashville was an extra mile that allowed the groundbreaking sounds of artists like Jason Aldean and Eric Church to pave the way for the worlds of country radio and Parmalee’s brand of country music to meet at the perfect crossroad.

Parmalee’s country rock sound has its roots in the bluegrass, traditional country, southern rock and blues covers the guys grew up hearing their families play.

Matt and Scott Thomas grew up near Greenville, NC watching their father Jerry front a popular local southern rock blues band. The boys watched and learned, picking up their own instruments and jamming along with their dad's band. From this they learned how to integrate their own style into the songs they were playing. Barry Knox, who played drums for the church choir, loved what his cousins were doing and soon joined them.

All that practice paid off one night when Matt and Scott, then teenagers, snuck into a club to watch their father perform." The guitar player got too drunk before the gig and didn't show," Matt explains. "I knew all the songs so my dad called me on stage. I was in the band from that point on." Scott replaced the drummer, and Barry learned bass in order to secure his spot in the band. The line-up became the newly minted The Thomas Brothers Band.

The Thomas Brothers Band cut their teeth on the local club circuit and would often share the same marquee with a cover band that starred their friend Josh McSwain on guitar and keys. Josh’s upbringing paralleled Matt, Scott and Barry’s. Josh also traveled and played with his father who was in a bluegrass band called “Get Honked.” A fan of Josh’s musical prowess, Matt invited Josh to play with Barry, Scott and himself. The foursome clicked immediately on stage. Their first gig was held at local watering hole, Corrigans, near East Carolina University where the guys went to school. From this moment in 2001 Parmalee was born.

The band set up camp every Tuesday and Thursday evening in the Parmele, NC barn they named Studio B after its original builder Mark Bryant. They added an extra “e” to the band's name to make it easier for those outside the area to pronounce it. “Tuesdays and Thursdays were the only nights we could all get together and rehearse – the rest of the time we were each out working in order to fund Parmalee,” Matt says. “Every person in town could hear us practice in the barn, so we also had to stop at 11 p.m. to be considerate of the neighborhood."

The residents of Parmele wereN't the only ones within earshot. The band developed a devout regional following based on the intensity of their live shows. But, the guys knew to turn their dreams into reality they would have to leave North Carolina. Their journey took them all over the country including New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta as they tried to find their musical direction. All of the producers, managers, and label representatives said the same thing: "you guys need to be in Nashville."

Matt, Barry and Josh parked their RV, which doubled as their studio, in the Comfort Inn parking lot on Nashville’s famed Demonbreun Street near Music Row. For the next month the parking lot was home and office. They began writing new material and networking. Their new connections led to a co-writing session with David Fanning, who is part of the celebrated production team New Voice with Kurt Allison, Tully Kennedy and Rich Redmond. "Going into these appointments, you never know who you're going to meet or how it's going to go," Matt explains. "But when I wrote with David, we hit it off."

During the same weekend as the infamous Nashville flood, Parmalee and Fanning wrote “Musta Had a Good Time” - even recording the demo in the RV’s recording “studio” - oblivious to the devastation that was happening to the city around them. After the “Flood Sessions,” Parmalee went into the studio with New Voice to record some sides, including “Carolina,” and “Musta Had a Good Time.” NV played the songs for BBR Music Group President/CEO Benny Brown who was impressed and asked to see a showcase as soon as the band returned to Nashville.

Parmalee put together a short tour in North Carolina to fund the trip back to Music City. But after the first show, plans changed.

After their September 21, 2010 show, Josh and Barry were packing gear in the venue while Matt and Scott were outside loading their RV when two armed men knocked on the door. The men put a gun to Matt’s head and demanded money. Shots were fired. Scott, who possessed a concealed weapons license, fired back. One of the gunmen died and Scott was shot three times. One bullet hit Scott's femoral artery causing him to nearly bleed to death. "He bled out on the air flight to Charlotte, and his heart stopped twice,"; Matt recalls. "When we got to the hospital, the doctor gave him a five percent chance to live."

Scott was hospitalized in Charlotte, NC for 35 days - 10 of which he spent in a coma. News of the shooting spread like wildfire and the local news stations carried weekly reports on Scott's progress. Parmalee's fans turned out in droves to show their support. Through Facebook campaigns and benefits they raised enough money to help cover Scott's medical bills. The Nashville community also rallied behind Parmalee donating autographed items and VIP packages to help cover Scott’s medical expenses. "We knew we had a lot of friends and fans," Josh says. "But we found out exactly how many we had.”

By February 2011, Scott was well enough to get behind a drum kit for the first time and the band finally performed their promised label showcase. "We wouldn't tell everybody how bad off I was because there was no way I wasn't going to play that show,"; Scott says. "I was in a leg brace, but I only had to get through six songs. Parmalee had fought for so much for so long that we decided we hadn’t come this far to stop now." Through sheer willpower, the band nailed the set and landed a deal with Stoney Creek Records, home to ACM Vocal Duo of the Year Thompson Square and chart-topper Randy Houser.

Looking back on their experiences, the members of Parmalee have no regrets about the path they chose. “All the obstacles and craziness we’ve been through allowed us to help find our home in Nashville,” Matt says. "It took us going through all that to mold us," Barry continues. "In Hollywood and New York we were always pushed in opposite directions. But Nashville helped us capture our sound – a sound that’s authentic to who we are as both artists and as people."

“Artists like Jason Aldean and Eric Church helped pave the way for our country rock sound. If you think of Jason Aldean as the rockin’ side of country then think of Parmalee as the country side of rock,” Matt explains.

All of Parmalee’s hard work, dedication and perseverance is paying off in a big way. Country fans have voted the band’s debut single, “Musta Had A Good Time,” #1 for 4 consecutive weeks on SiriusXM’s “The Highway,” and the song is edging Top 40 at country radio. The raucous party anthem has been featured in national sporting event broadcasts from the PGA to MLB. Parmalee has been highlighted in USA Today, AOL’s The Boot, Country Aircheck and has been named a “Bubbling Under Artist” by Billboard magazine. On the eve of their first major music video release for “Musta Had A Good Time,” the signs are clear that after a long, tumultuous journey to Nashville, Parmalee is home at last.

Brooks and Dunn: The undisputed kings of the '90s line-dancing craze, Brooks & Dunn are not only the biggest-selling duo in country music history, they've also sold more records than any other duo period, save for Simon & Garfunkel. Ronnie Dunn was the quietly intense singer with the soulful voice, while Kix Brooks played the part of the high-energy showman. Neither had been able to break through as a solo act, but together they hit upon a winning formula of rambunctious, rocked-up honky tonk with punchy, danceable beats, and alternated those cuts with smooth, pop-tinged ballads. The combination made them one of the most popular country artists of the '90s, and they were still going strong as the new millennium dawned.

Leon Eric "Kix" Brooks (born in Shreveport, LA) and Ronnie Gene Dunn (born in Coleman, TX) arrived in Nashville from very different backgrounds. Brooks was a neighbor of Johnny Horton and first began singing with the country legend's daughter at age 12; after a time working on the Alaskan oil pipeline, he moved to Maine and performed in ski resorts and other local venues. He went to Nashville in the early '80s and found success as a songwriter, penning hits for John Conlee, Highway 101, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, among others; however, his solo recordings -- a few small-label singles in 1983 and a self-titled album in 1989 -- failed to make any impact. Dunn, meanwhile, had been playing with traditional string bands since he was a teenager, but originally aspired to become a Baptist minister. He attended the highly conservative Abilene Christian University, but was kicked out for continuing to play music on the side in area bars. He decided to pursue music full-time and moved to Tulsa, where he led a house band and recorded for a local label from 1983-1984. In 1988, he won a songwriting contest whose prize included a recording session in Nashville; the producer, Scott Hendricks, was impressed enough to pass some of Dunn's material on to Arista executive Tim DuBois. DuBois had a hunch that Dunn and Brooks would complement each other well, and he introduced the two and encouraged them to try writing and recording some demo songs together. When he heard the results, DuBois signed the newly minted Brooks & Dunn duo to a contract.

Brooks & Dunn issued their debut album, Brand New Man, in 1991, and it was an out-of-the-box smash. The title track, "My Next Broken Heart," "Neon Moon," and "Boot Scootin' Boogie" all hit number one on the country charts, and the latter song in particular was an inescapable smash that helped kick-start the line-dancing fad that swept country bars across the nation. Brand New Man eventually went on to sell over five million copies, and made the duo into country superstars; their supporting tour established their penchant for theatrical live shows as well. Their follow-up, Hard Workin' Man, consolidated their success with a string of five Top Five country hits: the title track, the number ones "She Used to Be Mine" and "That Ain't No Way to Go," and the number twos "We'll Burn That Bridge" and "Rock My World (Little Country Girl)." Hard Workin' Man sold over four million copies, and by the time its run of singles was exhausted, the duo had already completed a follow-up in 1994's Waitin' on Sundown. Five more Top Ten hits followed, including the number ones "She's Not the Cheatin' Kind," "Little Miss Honky Tonk," and "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone" (the others were "I'll Never Forgive My Heart" and "Whiskey Under the Bridge"). Waitin' on Sundown went double platinum, confirming Brooks & Dunn's status as a blockbuster success.

Brooks & Dunn's commercial dominance continued apace with 1996's Borderline, another double-platinum success which produced two more chart-toppers in "My Maria" (a cover of the B.W. Stevenson pop hit from 1972) and "A Man This Lonely," and a number two hit in "I Am That Man." In 1997, the duo issued The Greatest Hits Compilation, whose new tracks, "Honky Tonk Truth" and "He's Got You," both reached the Top Five. And they weren't done as hitmakers by any means; despite failing to go platinum, 1998's If You See Her contained two number ones in "Husbands and Wives" (a Roger Miller cover) and "How Long Gone," and another Top Fiver in "I Can't Get Over You." With such a consistent track record, Brooks & Dunn were perhaps due for the inevitable slip, and 1999's Tight Rope was the closest thing to a commercial misstep they'd ever recorded. Despite some chance-taking in the production and the cover of rocker John Waite's ballad "Missing You," other parts of the album found their formula wearing thin. The record produced only one Top Ten hit in "You'll Always Be Loved by Me," and failed to even go gold.

Faced with a downturn in their sales, Brooks & Dunn spent more time crafting their next album, 2001's Steers and Stripes. It helped restore their commercial fortunes with a trio of chart-topping singles: "Ain't Nothing 'Bout You," "Only in America," and "The Long Goodbye." The following year, the duo issued their first holiday album, It Won't Be Christmas Without You. The duo pushed the envelope even further with 2003's Red Dirt Road, a song cycle that served as both a biography and a tribute to their roots and upbringing. The rowdy Hillbilly Deluxe, a Top Ten hit, followed in 2005, with 2007 bringing Cowboy Town, released on Arista Records.

Florida Georgia Line: Guitarists Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley met at Belmont University in Nashville and the rest, as they say, is history. After much crafting and collaborating, the duo released their debut EP, Anything Like Me in late 2010. Performing under the now infamous moniker of Florida Georgia Line, the album was crafted independently and showcased their raw, natural talent. While the album didn't immediately launch them into stardom, their song "Black Tears" was used by Jason Aldean on his 2012 album, Night Train, with writing credit going to Tyler.

Another EP, It'z Just What We Do, which featured the tracks "Cruise" and "Get Your Shine On". These tracks would eventually make it onto their debut full-length album, Here's to the Good Times, which made Florida Georgia Line a household name in country music. The album shot to the top of the Billboard Country Charts and went platinum in both the US and Canada. It also made Kelley and Hubbard sought-after commodities on the country festival circuit.

Brantley Gilbert: Brantley Gilbert joins a long line of country outlaws this summer on Willie Nelson's Country Throwdown Tour this 2011. The aspiring country rocker is hitting the road all summer long to promote his first hit single "Country Must Be Country Wide". Additional Brantley Gilbert tour dates are scheduled at other venues throughout 2011. Don't miss a date on Brantley Gilbert's concert schedule 2011; Use Eventful as your source for Brantley Gilbert tour dates and concert tour information.

Gilbert hails from Jefferson, Georgia and cites his southern roots as the basis for his lyrics. It wasn't until a near fatal car accident in which his truck flipped over several times on the highway that Gilbert realized that life is short and precious. Following a lengthy recovery, he then focused his energies towards his passion and embarked on a full-time career in music. He was picked up for an indie record deal in 2005 and was supposed to release his debut album, A Modern Day Prodigal Son, but he was dropped from the line-up before the album hit stores. Brantley Gilbert toured constantly, and performed as many concerts as venues would have him in order to secure another deal.

Years of constant touring earned Gilbert a record contract with Average Joe's Entertainment who released his debut album in 2009. Although, no singles were released, the album did appear on the Billboard Country Albums chart in 2009 and garnered him attention in and around Nashville. Gilbert was noticed by Jason Aldean who re-recorded Gilbert's "My Kinda Party" for his 2010 album of the same name. The single became a #2 hit for Aldean and legitimated Gilbert as a songwriter. Aldean also recorded the Gilbert penned track, "Dirt Road Anthem", which serves as his current single and is climbing up the Billboard country charts. Brantley Gilbert tour dates were vigorously scheduled throughout the Southeast and he was soon picked up to a major deal with the Valory Music Group.

Gilbert scored his first charting single with "Country Must Be Country Wide", in 2011. The single is currently rising up the country charts and his sophomore album, Halfway to Heaven, has been in stores since 2010. The aspiring country star has been on the road touring for the better part of 2010-11 to promote his records. In addition to individual Brantley Gilbert tour dates, the country rocker has signed on to Willie Nelson's Country Throwdown Tour, which is playing fairgrounds and festivals throughout Summer, 2011. Don't miss a Brantley Gilbert concert or performance; Use Eventful as your source for Brantley Gilbert tour dates and venue information.

Billy Currington: Currington emerged in 2003 with his self-titled debut which spawned the hit single "I Got A Feeling". But it was his duet, "Party for Two", with country's biggest country star, Shania Twain, that pushed Currington to the top of the charts. He released his sophomore set, Doin' Somethin' Right which peaked at #2 on the Billboard Country charts and he hit the touring circuit in 2005. The video for "Must Be Doin' Somethin Right" won Currington the CMT Music Award for Hottest Video of the Year and garnered him a lot of attention from female fans. While Currington toured, he penned his #1 hits "People Are Crazy" and "That's How Country Boys Roll", which solidified Currington as Country's party boy.

Dustin Lynch: “Shhh!” The note on the Bluebird Café’s Facebook page says it all: customers who visit the Nashville songwriters club – instrumental in the development of Garth Brooks, Faith Hill and Kathy Mattea – are expected to keep quiet and listen to the words from some of Music City’s most influential composers.

Listening has an added benefit – it gives the listener a chance to learn.

That’s how singer-songwriter Dustin Lynch used the Bluebird. And he used it intensely. He rented an apartment behind the venue’s back parking lot and literally walked to the Bluebird several times a week to listen and learn about the mysterious art of creating songs from some of Nashville’s most important writers. Don Schlitz (“The Gambler”), Tony Arata (“The Dance”), Paul Overstreet (“Forever And Ever, Amen”) – all are mainstays of the Bluebird legend, and it was at their proverbial feet that he picked up key insights about the writing process.

“I was soaking it in, trying to be a sponge,” Lynch says. “I was mainly trying to hear the story behind the song, how it came about, what it’s really about. There’s something about understanding the songwriter’s realm. You get a little more grip on the way it was written and why it was written and how they got to the finished product.”

That education paid off in a big way for Lynch. He signed with Broken Bow Records – the home of Jason Aldean and sister label to Stoney Creek Records (home to Thompson Square) – and is working with producer Brett Beavers (known for his work with Dierks Bentley) and engineer Luke Wooten (Brad Paisley, Sunny Sweeney) on his debut album with a backlog of his own songs. He’s written that material with a bundle of Music City’s top writers – Dallas Davidson (“Just A Kiss”), Tim Nichols (“Live Like You Were Dying”), Casey Beathard (“Don’t Blink”), Phil O’Donnell (“Back When I Knew It All”) and Steve Bogard (“Prayin’ For Daylight”), to name a few.

But it all goes back to the Bluebird for Lynch, a native of Tullahoma, Tennessee. Influenced in his youth by such stalwart country singers as Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks and Clint Black, Lynch knew the importance of the Bluebird, and he chose his college – David Lipscomb University – in part because it was less than two miles from the club, which proved immensely important in his development.

Lynch auditioned on a Saturday morning for a chance to play its open-mic night the following day. He passed the audition and impressed host Barbara Cloyd so much that she chased him into the parking lot and offered to help him get some footing in the community.

As he began to establish himself at the Bluebird, Lynch got a call from Pete Hartung – manager for singer-songwriter Justin Moore – who had found Dustin’s MySpace page and wanted to get involved. Within weeks, Lynch had a publishing deal, and he made the most of it, writing a staggering 200+ songs in less than two years.

“I’m a workaholic,” he says. “I was getting paid to write songs, so that’s what I did. That’s just the guy I am, if I’m not doing something I get bored, so I was trying to write the best record possible and decided to just get after it as hard as I can.”

Even as a Bluebird visitor, Lynch had made an impression. After he signed his publishing deal, one of the company’s executives persuaded Phil O’Donnell and Casey Beathard to book a co-writing session with the new writer, even though they’d never even heard his name. As soon as he walked through the door, they exploded: “Holy crap, Dustin! We know you!”

But it’s not just physical recognition that Lynch has achieved with his studious approach to songwriting. He combined his fascination with words and melodies with concert skills he developed in high-school bands and playing the southeastern club circuit. That combination has made him one of country’s artists to watch, a performer who’s written his own mix of party songs and ballads with a unique perspective. It’s his own viewpoint, honed from watching the world, and watching the experts.

It’s all there, waiting for anyone else willing to…

Listen.

Ashley McBryde: Take the voice of Terri Clark, add Dolly Parton's songwriting, and throw in Bonnie Raitt's guitar skills and you get a talented new artist named Ashley McBryde. This free-spirited singer-songwriter pens honest, country lyrics and has a raw twang in her voice that can be heard on her self-titled debut album.

McBryde describes her sound as “... sort of a rag-tag gypsy kind of thing. It's classy-trashy, it's a very clean dirty, it's got a little trailer on it, and its probably lived in the back of a covered wagon most of its life.”

The winner of the state of Arkansas' 2004 Colgate Country Showdown songwriting competition is honored to call Carl Jackson, songwriter for artists such as Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, and Ricky Skaggs, her mentor from age 12. She has opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artemis Pyle's self-titled band, blues singer Barbara Blue, country artist Chris Cagle, and played gigs at the world-famous honky-tonk, Tootsies. After winning over huge audiences in Jonesboro and Memphis, she made her lifelong dream come true when she moved to Nashville in 2007.

McBryde grew up on a farm in Mammoth Springs, AR, with a big musical family of eight. Her dad gave her a mandolin to play at age four, because she couldn't leave his guitars alone. Never the shy type, she got her first taste of singing in front of an audience when she was invited on stage a year later to sing while at one of the many bluegrass festivals her family attended. By the time she was nine, she had outgrown the mandolin, moved on to learn the guitar, and had written her first real song, “Fight the Flames”, at age 12. Years later, while playing at her friend’s house, she was given the nickname “Ashley Guitar” because of her love of the instrument.

In October 2005, McBryde recorded her self-titled album at a private studio in Nashville. Released in January 2006, this heart-wrenching album displays simple and honest lyrics that run the gamut of emotions. McBryde describes her album as “something you would put in and listen to if you were driving in the rain.”

Her CD features her playing the acoustic guitar and lyrics that paint a picture way beyond her years. Her music can make people tear up, or light their eyes up with joy. She’s had people dancing when there was no dance floor and captivated the audiences’ attention when conversation once filled the room.

Carl Jackson gave the young writer some advice regarding her songwriting that she carries with her. She said he explained it to her by saying, “You're not the one writing the songs. The songs are writing you. You have no idea that you are writing the soundtrack to your life.”

Learn more about Ashley McBryde www.AshleyMcBryde.com.

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