Howard Bellamy Interview: Blake Shelton Tour & Advice For Newbies

Howard Bellamy Interview

As one of the most successful duos in music history, the Bellamy Brothers are still touring and going strong after 40+ years on the road. Today, in this exclusive Howard Bellamy interview, he talks with us about the brothers’ upcoming tour with Blake Shelton, their successful show on The Cowboy Channel that lets you take a peak into what life is like on their ranch and advice that they would give to anyone just entering the music business.

Howard Bellamy Interview

Howard Bellamy Interview: Blake Shelton Tour & Advice For Newbies

EPR: Tell me about your upcoming tour with Blake Shelton.

Howard Bellamy: It starts this February. We did it last year actually, same tour, and it went quite well. So Blake decided that he wanted to do the same tour over again. So, it’s our second year together. This year we are going to the west coast and touring there. Last year we were mainly East Coast and Midwest. We are looking forward to it. It was a whole lot of fun and a very successful tour. Blake’s been a long time friend and he got these old dudes, he kind of liked our music growing up, so he decided to take us on tour with him. It was a good stroke for us and he enjoys it as well.

EPR: Between your music and his as well, that’s a lot of good music. How long do you guys play? Or how long does each show last?

Howard Bellamy: We kind of come back and forth during the shows. It’s laid out so that we make an appearance for a few songs, we go away, and then we come back and do a few more and then, at the end of the show, we all get together in a circle and do an acoustic thing, a sing-along, with the audience. We do some of the bigger hits and we do a little contest to see who can get the most people singing. It gets to be fun. And you know, Blake is Blake. He always exaggerates things [laughs]…so it’s laid out pretty well and, so far, it’s probably the same show that we will be doing this year.

Howard Bellamy Interview

EPR: You guys have been touring since like the 70s. How do you keep from getting burned out?

Howard Bellamy: Well, that’s a really good question that I don’t have an answer for because I have burned out [laughs]. As you get older, at our age, of course we pace ourselves a whole lot different than we ever did. I mean, we don’t do the crazy things that we used to do. You just learn to pace yourself. We still do like 150 shows a year, which is a lot for a younger act. Somehow we have been able to maintain and at times I wonder what we are trying to prove. But we are still doing it. So it’s just what we have done all these years and it gets to be in gets to be in your system. I guess we are adrenaline junkies or something. You just get used to doing it and you don’t know any different. You just keep doing the same old thing.

EPR: I was talking to Doug Gray from the Marshall Tucker Band one time and he said that he wouldn’t know anything else to do. Is that kind of the way that you feel?

Howard Bellamy: Well, we wouldn’t know anything else to do and we are not good for anything else! So, it gets to be what you do. It’s like a habit you can’t kick. As long as the people come and enjoy the show…you get used to having fun with the crowds and the fact that you’ve made somebody feel better that day, coming to the show and leaving feeling good. It’s a great feeling to do that.

See What Their Life Is Like On Honky Tonk Ranch

EPR: On the days that you are off, when you actually have downtime, what do you do to relax and unwind? What kind of hobbies do you have?

Howard Bellamy: We live on our old family ranch in Florida. We kick around on the ranch and enjoy, really, just doing nothing, just whatever comes to mind…You’re on a schedule so much, if you can have a few days where there is just no schedule, you can sleep in and have no plans, just kind of [do] spontaneous stuff, that seems to be my favorite things to do. That’s how I come off of it best.

Howard Bellamy Interview

EPR: Someone could easily see a little bit of what life is like on your ranch because you guys have a show on the “Cowboy Channel.” Tell me about “Honky Tonk Ranch.”

Howard Bellamy: We just started our 3rd season filming. So we will be, quite a few weeks in the winter, filming that show. And it’s doing quite well. This season we have some bigger things happening and it’s been streaming into like 67 countries. So, it’s got to be quite successful and it’s going to be expanding this year. Yeah, we’ve got that going on, too.

Howard Bellamy On Touring 72 Countries

EPR: You do have a lot going on! And you guys have toured pretty much everywhere, lots of countries that other acts won’t go to. Is there any place that you want to tour that you haven’t had the opportunity to yet?

Howard Bellamy: Well, we have been to 72 countries and toured. There are a few places left – we haven’t been to Argentina or Brazil – [places] I would like to go. I like ranches a lot and we recorded with Brazilian artists and had hit records down there but never toured there. And we haven’t toured China, which I don’t really know if I want to go there or not. I can’t make up my mind. There are few left that [I] am curious about. 72 countries, that’s a lot of countries, and we have certainly seen a big part of the world, and played to lots of crowds. It makes you realize that music truly is a common language. You don’t have to speak the same language for people to have fun. And whether they can speak your language or not, they know the words, they know the melodies, and sing-along with you. That’s a really great thing that we have been fortunate enough to witness throughout the years, going to new places and breaking new ground.

EPR: You guys had a book come out last year [“Let Your Love Flow: The Life and Times of The Bellamy Brothers“] that shares a little about your time in the music industry. What is something that you talk about in your book that people might not expect?

Howard Bellamy: If you read the book, you are going to learn the real truth. You never really know what people think of you, they have their own opinions. But we laid it out pretty much the way it happened in the book. There’s a lot of truth in there, a lot of things went down that people never had any idea went down. There’s a lot of corruption in this business and we’ve survived. And the wild, crazy days of the 60s and 70s that we were fortunate enough to live through. Hopefully, at this point, we have a little more common sense than we used to have. It’s a story of survival, really. We had a lot up against us. It starts in Florida as kids coming up on the ranch, a little bit about what went down there, how rural it really was, and how far in the country we really lived. To go from that to having [now] toured 72 countries, it’s pretty amazing that can happen to someone. But as they say, “Only in America,” right?

Howard Bellamy Interview

Advice For Music Industry Newbies

EPR: Since you have been in the music industry so long and have seen so many things and know so much about it, what is one piece of advice that you would give someone just starting out in the industry today?

Howard Bellamy: You know, advice is the hardest thing to give. I think different people have different careers and they take different paths. It’s never really the same. We used to say, “Go to law school first, because the record labels will take you for a ride.” Historically, especially in the old days – I think now they still do it. But we used to always say to go to law school first and then become an entertainer because you are going to need it. If you are going to get a lawyer, they are going to take you for a ride, so somebody’s going to take you for a ride. [laughs]

EPR: Either way you’re in trouble, right? [laughs]

Howard Bellamy: But, you know, if it’s your passion, you’re head set that’s what you are going to do, stick with it. I’ve seen people who are very talented who never made it, more talented than some who did make it. So, it’s not total justice in that way it comes down either. It’s like life itself, some people get a good break and some people who deserve it never get the break.

EPR: And my last question for you: what is your song that people request the most, that people never get tired of hearing?

Howard Bellamy: It’s between 2 or 3 songs. I think the song most requested, and of course depending on what area you are in, is “Let Your Love Flow,” “If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body” and “Redneck Girl.” It’s between those songs and if you are in rural Texas, you’re going to have to play “Redneck Girl” to even get out of there. And, oddly enough, in a lot of parts of the world, that song, it’s the same way. It’s one of the more mindless songs that we ever wrote…

EPR: But it’s fun…

Howard Bellamy: It is fun. I think that’s it. People want to have fun. And that’s what you forget. I remember being younger in a band. You always took everything so technical. It comes down to having fun with the people, that’s what you realize later one.

Catch The Bellamy Brothers live locally at the Liberty Showcase Theater on this Friday night and check out the rest of their tour dates here.

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Raelyn Nelson Discusses Her Music, Puns & Her Famous Grandfather

Raelyn Nelson

Though you might not have have heard of Raelyn Nelson yet you are about to. She is the granddaughter of Willie Nelson, yes that Willie Nelson, and music runs through that family’s blood. Starting out on a guitar gifted to her by her famous grandfather, she has now been playing and learning a variety of instruments for years. Read on to learn more about the Raelyn Nelson Band and be sure to check out their music today.

Raelyn Nelson Discusses Her Music, Puns & Her Famous Grandfather

EPR: So tell me about your band. What kind of music do you play? Who provides inspiration?

Raelyn Nelson: Okay, so my band is like punk garage rock with a country girl frontin the band. So I met Jonathan Bright through a mutual friend and I was trying to find a place to record some songs that I’d written, and he had studio in his back of his house and he was like “Oh come over. I won’t charge you much to do some demos.” This was a few years ago and my kids had just gotten old enough where I could get out a bit more. I had gotten done nursing them and I was able to get out a little bit more.

So I started going over there and recording some demos and by the end of the first session, he was like, let’s put a combo together and and write more songs and I was like, “Okay!” I was so ready to jump in and his background has always been rock, garage rock, underground in the independent underground rock music scene. His stuff is like Cheap Trick, Ramones, The Clash, a mixture of all kind of that stuff and then when you add a country twang melody on top of it is basically a hybrid of what it is. It’s like men and me singing my melodies on top of it.

And we’ve kind of stayed around here for two or three years and then over the past couple of years we’ve been able to get out and about. We’re still an independent band. We’re not signed by anyone or anything like that, not that we’re against it. We just haven’t been approached and, you know, we’re just trying to get out and share with everyone. My grandpa’s always been real supportive. My whole family makes music and are all making our own different kinds, different sounds. But, what else is there? We were doing singles for a long term and then just packaging it as an EP, and we were given the advice, “Ya’ll just need to put together a full album and do it.”

Raelyn Nelson Band Debut “Weed And Whiskey”

So over the past year, that’s what we’ve been doing – putting together this album and it’s just come out November 8. And our first single was “Weed and Whiskey,” which is like a protest to the opioid crisis, because my little sister went through – one of her boyfriend, last year, he ODed died, and it’s been a huge impact on my little sister and our family and his family, of course.

So, all of us have someone in our life who has been affected by the opioid crisis, and my thoughts are, we don’t need to. All we need is a little bit of weed, a little bit of whiskey. And so I wrote the song. And it was kind of like a protest to the opioid crisis but it sounds like a party anthem song.

Turns Out Raelyn Nelson Is Quite Punny

EPR: Tell me about “Pun with Raelyn Nelson.” I saw it on your Facebook page.

Raelyn Nelson: Okay, so before we had any anything really ready we were just writing songs and getting things going. We we like, “We need something to put out to start the Raelyn Nelson brand or whatever.” And I’ve always loved puns, and we thought of the first one, and then thought of a second one and just kept going and it’s completely ridiculous and stupid but we love it so much. I actually get people like, “We need another pun,” you know, so it was kind of part of the thing and I feel like I’m minor in comedy so…

EPR: You have to entertain them any way you can right?

Raelyn Nelson: Yeah! You know, back in the day when country music was first starting, people would tell jokes on stage. It was like a Dolly and Porter, Loretta and everything. They would tell jokes and I just want to bring that back and lose all the seriousness. Just don’t take it so serious.

Raelyn Nelson On Her Love Of The Ukulele

EPR: So, a ukulele – that is an unusual instrument to choose to play. Tell me what you love about playing the ukulele.

Raelyn Nelson: Okay, so when I first went to J. B.’s place, Jonathan Bright’s place, he had just finished an all ukulele album – that was replacement cover songs. It was done in all ukulele and it was with Tom Littlefield, the album is called “Treatment Bound,” by Bright Little Field.

There were like six different ukuleles around the studio, and I picked one up while he was engineering stuff on our music and I was like hey, I was like, “Can you teach me how to play this ukulele?” And it turns out if you play guitar, you can pick up the ukulele pretty quickly. It’s not a hard instrument to play, and I was playing it a lot in the studio and I was like, “You know what? I want to play this and it’s easy and I can move around and I didn’t have to think about it too much.” And let’s be fair, like you said, it’s an interesting instrument to choose and you just kind of stand out a little more.

But also, if you plug it in to an amp, it kind of sounds like a really high guitar. Not high necessarily, but like the high end of the music is is pinging in on top of all the grungy guitars and I think it sounds great. And my voice is soprano so it kind of melds in with my voice better. And I play it a little better than I play acoustic guitar, and I’ve just fallen in love with it. I can move around more on stage so I don’t have to think about what I’m playing as much, like I said, it’s really easy to play the ukulele.

So, you know, it’s just like I can, I can focus on entertaining and singing, and still be able to play because I like when artists are playing something rather than just getting up and singing. I respect all artists, but I like the look of it better. The shows that I like to watch are ones when everyone’s playing an instrument.

Raelyn Nelson

Raelyn Nelson On Her Famous Grandfather

EPR: Okay, so you are the granddaughter of Willie Nelson. Do you feel that that has helped open more doors for you in the music industry, or do you think that instead, it’s out more pressure on you to live up to, you know, someone else’s legacy.

Raelyn Nelson: I think a little bit of both. I think there’s a good part because they’re like “Oh, you’re Willie Nelson’s granddaughter!” So I know everybody’s probably going to take a listen to the song, you know songs I’ve written. But that doesn’t mean that they’re going to like it because my music is not my grandpa’s music, but I will say he did inspire me to become a songwriter, and I’ve always had these melodies floating around in my head which, that’s really what I bring to the table – my opinion or lyrics and melody. I feel like it comes from the same spot where he writes his songs because he’s always been a huge amazing person, and always working.

I was like, four or five years old when I realized, that first moment of, “Oh he’s a big deal,” because we were all at a restaurant and all of these people start swarming him. And my dad picked me, held me really close and tight, and I remember everyone just being really tense and trying to get us all out of the restaurant and I remember my little brain being like, “Why is everybody trying to talk to him?” It confused me but that was my first moment of like, “Oh, he’s a big deal.”

And ever since then, it’s always been like, “Protect him!” You know what I mean? And one point of view is like he’s always working, and he is entertaining and he’s devoted his life to his music and the fans, and I don’t see him ever stopping. I think she will die on the road, you know, and that’s how I want to be. And I just want to play forever.

Editor’s Note: Willie Nelson, at 86, is still actively touring and performed a duet with Kacey Musgraves called “Rainbow Connection” on this years CMA Awards last week. Several media and podcast outlets made assumptions that Willie Nelson was sick after seeing his CMA performance last week. But it was in the teens that night [cold weather is notoriously rough on a voice] and he is, afterall, 86, and has smoked a LOT in his day. So, his granddaughter is quite protective of her grandpa and thinks perhaps we all should chill. 😉

Raelyn Nelson

EPR: Kacey [Musgraves] seemed pretty protective of Willie [Nelson] and like she really cared about him and I was wondering if there’s a chance they might actually rerecord “Rainbow Connection” together

Raelyn Nelson: Yes! It was really pretty. Sure. Yeah, sure. I will suggest that. And you’re right, she’s great. I almost kind of thought that maybe him and her had smoked before they went on, just the way they both kind of looked. You could tell that both of them were in the moment, too. I’ve met her before and I was like, I wonder if they had smells a little weed beforehand too and I think that she is one of the ones he would actually want to smoke with. He loves Kacey.

EPR: Yeah she seems sweet. So, with the Willie Nelson Family tour, would you ever be part of that? Do you ever tour with him at all?

Raelyn Nelson: He’s suggested it before, and I’m kind of…I just want them to suggest it. I don’t want to be like “Hey, put me on!” I want them to be like, “Let’s put Raelyn on.” So I’m just biding time and waiting and trying to build up as much as I can for my band and my music by myself so that is more likely to happen. Now we have done, I mean family shows with all our bands get together and play. But the Willie Nelson Family Tour, he’s always called his band “The Family,” so it’s super confusing, and my uncle Lucas goes with him and takes a little bit of the heat off of him vocals and guitar wise, too. So it’s a little confusing, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re all going to be there but a lot of times family is there and everybody gets up for the Gospel set the end of the show and he always invites the family to sing in the gospels sets. But yeah, I’m hoping. I just don’t want to push it on my own. It’ll mean more if they are like, “Hey Raelyn, we want you.” I know he would make it happen if I ask. But I don’t want to ask someone to be asked.

Raelyn Nelson

EPR: Willie Nelson is going to be headlining Merlefest, that’s near me, next year. It would be really cool if you were there for Merlefest.

Raelyn Nelson: Okay, Merlefest! I will reach out to Merlefest and see about getting on that way.

EPR: Yeah, because that’s a big festival with a large, diverse crowd. It would be really cool if you could be on the stage at Merlefest. So definitely look into that.

Shop Raelyn Nelson Band’s store here and check out the band’s tour dates here.

Get Social With Raelyn Nelson

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Robert Earl Keen Talks Willie Nelson, Tyler Childers & The Texas Music Scene

Robert Earl Keen Talks Willie Nelson, Tyler Childers & The Texas Music Scene

You can’t be a real fan of the Texas music scene if you aren’t familiar with Robert Earl Keen. A member of the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame, Keen’s musical influences span many genres and include talented musicians, making his style both interesting and hard wrap in a neat package at the same time. Today, Robert Earl Keen talks to us about his musical influences, the Texas Music Scene and his badass sister, the foosball queen.

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One On One Interview With Richard Sterban Of The Oak Ridge Boys

One On One Interview With Richard Sterban Of The Oak Ridge Boys

Richard Sterban has been a fixture in the Oak Ridge Boys for decades. As the wonderful, deep bass voice featured in iconic Oak Ridge Boys classics like, “Elvira,” he helps to round out their unique and trendsetting sound. Now a published author, in our interview with Richard Sterban, we discuss his decision to leave Elvis to join the Oak Ridge Boys, the band’s partnership with Dave Cobb and their enduring friendship with President George Bush.

One On One Interview With Richard Sterban Of The Oak Ridge Boys

On The Oak Ridge Boys History & Longevity

EPR: You guys have a pretty full tour schedule this year, don’t you?

Richard Sterban: We are a group that traditionally works a lot. We average about 150 days a year, every year. And this year is no exception. In fact, when it’s all said and done, we are probably going to end up with more than 150 this year.

EPR: Tonight you are going to be in concert with Alabama in Salem, Va. They have been touring for 50 years and the Oak Ridge Boys have been touring a similar amount of time. How do you compare?

Richard Sterban: We have a very long and fascinating history. Believe it or not, it actually dates back to the 2nd World War. There was a group back during the war called the Georgia Clodhoppers. That’s a fact. That name actually did exist.

They would go to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and they would entertain the people there that were actually working on the development of the atomic bomb. It was called the Manhattan Project. These guys would go to Oak Ridge on a regular basis because the people there could not leave because what they were working on was very top secret stuff.

So, going to Oak Ridge all the time, they then became known as the Oak Ridge Quartet. And that group continued singing from the end of the war until the middle of the 1950s as the Oak Ridge Quartet. It was then disbanded and reorganized in the later 1950s as the Oak Ridge Boys. None of us are from that group either, I would also like to report. 

William Lee Golden, the guy in our group with the long beard, he’s the first guy who joined the group, in 1965. Then our lead singer, Duane Allen, came 1 year later, in 1966. I joined the Oak Ridge Boys in 1972. I was singing with Elvis. I was actually singing with the King of Rock and Roll. One year later Joe Bonsall joined in 1973. 

So we have been together like this, this foursome, for 46, almost 47 years now. But Duane Allen and William Lee Golden have been in this group for over 50 years. So we have established some longevity in the music business as well. There’s no doubt about it. 

EPR: That’s awesome because so many groups have internal fights and disagreements and they just can’t get along or stay together that long.

Richard Sterban: Well, you are right about that, you know? And I have to be very honest with you. There have been times when we have had our differences and disagreements. But I think over the course of the years we have developed a friendship that I think is second to none.

Each guy in the group is different and each guy brings something different to the table. But I think that is part of our appeal. And I think that over the course of the years we have learned to respect that difference between the four of us. I think as we have gotten older, we now get along better really. I think we all realized a long time ago that we need each other so we pulled together as a team. We are a true brotherhood. And now that we are older, I think that we get along better than we did when we were younger. I think we are too old now to let little things bother us.

One On One Interview With Richard Sterban Of The Oak Ridge Boys

On Leaving Elvis To Join The Oak Ridge Boys

EPR: You mentioned Elvis a minute ago. You have a book out, “From Elvis To Elvira.” Tell us a little about that.

Richard Sterban: First, I love the title, “From Elvis To Elvira.” The title says it all basically. For about two years. prior to joining the Oak Ridge Boys, I sang in a group called JD Sumner and the Stamps Quartet. For about a year and a half of that time I actually sang with the king of rock and roll, with Elvis. And back then, he was the biggest star in the world. His tour was the biggest tour in the music business, no doubt about it. And so I was a part of it. It was very, very exciting to be part of it.

I have some very fond memories of the times I spent with Elvis and I did get to know him just a little bit. It was a very special time in my life. And now that many years have passed, I have a chance to look back on that, I am really very glad. I am very thankful I had a chance to experience that and get to know one of the biggest stars in the world ever.

Quite often I think, “Who is out there today, 40 years after they pass away, that will still be as big as Elvis is today?” I don’t know that there is anyone out there today that has what Elvis had back in those days. He was certainly one of a kind. He was a special person. Forty years after his passing, he’s still a big star worldwide.

The fact that I was able to be part of his tour for a while and get to know him just a little bit was certainly very special for me personally. It really was.

And one thing that is kind of interesting, I think it’s one of the most important parts of my book, is a major decision that I made. I was singing with Elvis, apparently on top of the world. I got a phone call one day from William Lee Golden of the Oak Ridge Boys. Back then he didn’t have that long beard [that he has now]. He was Mr GQ back then. He had short hair, dressed in the latest fashion of the day. He was a pretty hip guy. He is still today, I think, but anyway, he was totally different back then. He called me up and he said that the bass singer in the Oak Ridge Boys wanted to leave the group and get off the road and the Oak Ridge Boys wanted to know if I would be interested in joining the group.

So here I was, singing with Elvis, but I had to make a decision. So what do I do? At the same time, I was a big fan of the Oak Ridge Boys. I believed that the Oak Ridge Boys had a great deal of potential. So I really wanted to be a part of the group. So I made the decision to leave Elvis, leave the king of rock and roll, and to join the Oak Ridge Boys.

So back then when I made that decision, several people said “How in the world can you leave Elvis to join the Oak Ridge Boys?” But I really believed I was doing the right thing. And I think time has proven that I made a pretty good decision. That was in 1972 and I will never regret that decision because so many great things have happened to us as a group.

We’ve been very fortunate and we’ve had a great career and it all culminated about 3 and a half years ago when we were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. What a tremendous honor. It’s difficult to find just the right words to describe how special that is. I never dreamed years ago, when I was singing with Elvis, that someday I would be in the same hall of fame with him. Now I am in the same Country Music Hall of Fame, with Elvis, with Johnny Cash, who was also very instrumental in the early days of the Oak Ridge Boys, with George Jones and Dolly Parton, and our friends Alabama, they are in the Country Music Hall of Fame as well. So it’s a very unique family of artists and for the Oak Ridge Boys to be part of that is beyond words and a tremendous honor. So in the last almost 50 years, a lot of great things have happened to us but the greatest is probably being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

One On One Interview With Richard Sterban Of The Oak Ridge Boys

On Being Pioneers, Elvira & William Lee Golden’s Beard

EPR: The Oak Ridge Boys also got the ACM Pioneer Award. Tell me more about what that means.

Richard Sterban: That is awarded by the Academy of Country Music. It’s a pioneer award, basically. It’s for an act that kind of blazes the trail and makes what is happening today in country music possible because of what we did years ago. So we were awarded as pioneers in country music and that is awarded by your peers. So that is a special award as well to say the least.

EPR: It’s definitely an honor when your peers recognize you. We talked about “Elvira” a minute ago. Speaking of “Elvira,” how often do people approach you and ask you to do your signature bass lines in the song?

Richard Sterban: The answer to your question is probably an obvious answer. Yes. Very few days go by when somebody doesn’t ask me to do that. And I do a lot of the interviews for the Oak Ridge Boys, just like I’m doing with you right now. Especially radio guys, not so much newspaper people. But radio guys always want to hear a sample, you know, “Giddyup oom papa oom papa mow mow.” And I usually oblige because people want to hear it. If I had such a thing as a claim to fame, it would probably be that line.

We recorded that record in 1981 and to this day it is still one of the largest selling single records to ever be recorded in Nashville so that’s something that we are proud of. And you can count on the fact when we come to Salem, Va., that “Elvira” is definitely going to be on the show and you are definitely going to hear me do, “Giddyup oom papa oom papa mow mow.”

EPR: On a different note, how long did it take William to grow that beard?

Richard Sterban: The only thing that I can tell you is that it has been many, many years since he has shaved. At this point it’s been so long, I don’t remember him hardly ever not having it, if that makes any sense. He threw his razor away many years ago. And he could fill you in on this better than I can but several years ago a razor company or someone offered him a substantial amount of money to do a commercial and to shave that beard and he turned them down and refused. That is his trademark, it really is. It’s the thing that probably makes him the most recognizable of all the Oak Ridge Boys.

Sometimes when you are in a group, when you get away from the other members, you can become anonymous, to a point. But it’s more difficult for him. Even when he is somewhere by himself, people spot him. They know he is somebody. There is no doubt about it. He has a unique look and it’s part of what makes the Oak Ridge Boys the Oak Ridge Boys. I don’t know that we would be the Oak Ridge Boys without William Lee Golden. He is certainly a very special person.

One On One Interview With Richard Sterban Of The Oak Ridge Boys

On Working With Dave Cobb & “17th Avenue Revival”

EPR: Tell me about your new album and what it was like working with Dave Cobb.

Richard Sterban: I could spend hours talking about Dave Cobb and the relationship that the Oak Ridge Boys have with him. He is a special person. If you know anything at all about the music scene in Nashville, he is hot right now. He is probably the most in demand producer. He has now produced two different projects on the Oak Ridge Boys. We worked with him for the very first time about 12 years ago on a project called, “The Boys Are Back.”

We got to know Dave Cobb through Shooter Jennings, Waylon Jenning’s son. Shooter is an artist now in his own right and he called us up about 12 years ago and asked us to sing on a song with him and we obviously agreed. We knew Waylon very well and we remembered Shooter when he was just a little boy. So we go to the studio and Dave Cobb is producing Shooter Jennings.

And we hit it off and [Cobb] agreed to do a project on us and it was called, “The Boys Are Back.” The title song was written for us by Shooter Jennings. And it was a very much critically acclaimed project and he took us down some roads, musically, that we had never traveled before. For example, we did a cover of the White Stripes’, “Seven Nation Army.” That’s something that we would never have dreamed about doing on our own. But Dave Cobb said, “Trust me on this fellows, this is going to be a great song for you.” And sure enough, it got us more attention probably than anything we have done in years. Another song we did on that project was Johnny Lee Hooker’s “Boom, Boom.” I did the lead vocal on that and it’s something I would have never thought about doing but Dave Cobb kind of insisted that we do it and he was right. We are still doing that song and we’ll probably do it when we come to Salem.

So anyway, we remembered working with Cobb 12 years ago, so after our induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame a few years ago, we talked amongst ourselves. We decided that we would like to do something special to commemorate the fact that we are now in the Country Music Hall of Fame and we decided that maybe Dave Cobb would agree to work with us again. We knew it was a long shot because, since those days, he has moved to Nashville, and he is one of the hottest producers.

So we got in touch with him and he agreed to work with us again. He said, “Sure, I feel like the Oak Ridge Boys are family.” He refers to us as his older uncles. We had to wait our turn because he is in such demand. So it took a little while to get it together but he finally called us and he said, “I’m ready to work.”

I remember, we had lunch with him at a restaurant right on Music Row and I will never forget, his very first words were, “What I want you guys to do, I want you to think of Elvis, maybe Jerry Lee Lewis, that old rockabilly kind of sound, maybe some old blues. Think of Ray Charles, and maybe even some of the old black gospel, spiritual type things. What was it about those artists that made them so special? It’s the same thing that makes you guys special. The very first singing that they ever did was in church. It was gospel music.” So he said, “What I want to do on this project, it doesn’t have to be an all gospel project, a lot of it will be, but the most important thing is I want to go back to church. I want to tap into that feeling of going to an old time revival.”

And Dave Cobb knows something about that because his mother was a Pentecostal preacher and he has been to his share of revival meetings. So he knew exactly what he was talking about and he knew that all of us had experienced that as well. So recording this project at RCA Studio A, the most historic recording studio in Nashville, was like going to church. It was almost a religious experience.

And it’s not all gospel, a lot of it is the old hymns that we were assigned as kids in church and in Sunday school. But, also, some of today’s contemporary country song writers are represented on this project. Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, two of the hottest writers in Nashville, they have a song on this project. Vince Gill and our good friend Jamey Johnson has a song. So it’s a nice mixture, it’s a nice balance of today’s modern country writers, along with some old fashioned gospel. And one black spiritual on there was so old that Dave Cobb had to actually go to the Smithsonian to get the lyrics.

He took old rockabilly and he married it with gospel and today’s country music. And the final result is something that we are so proud of and the music is very meaningful. It’s music that’s touching people’s lives. So we will include some of the music from 17th Avenue Revival, along with all of our hits, I already told you that we are going to do “Elvira,” in Salem.

The title, “17th Avenue Revival” is an interesting title. It represents the revival of that old, historic recording studio, RCA Studio A, right in the heart of music row. They were going to tear it down about 5 years ago. Developers tried to buy that property and build high rise condos. But investors and many people in the music business got together and we were able to save that studio. So recording this album there represents a revival of that old, historic recording studio. Chet Atkins developed the original Nashville Sound right there in that studio.

Dave Cobb has now moved into Chet Atkins’ old office and does all of his stuff there. He does all of Chris Stapleton’s stuff there. And the Zac Brown Band. The list goes on and on. Now he’s recorded the Oak Ridge Boys there. I could talk for hours about how great it was to work with Dave Cobb. He really is a special guy.

One On One Interview With Richard Sterban Of The Oak Ridge Boys

On Their Enduring Friendship With President Bush

EPR: Tell us about your long lasting friendship with President George Bush.

Richard Sterban: Back in December, we had an amazing honor. We sang “Amazing Grace” at the funeral of President George Bush. I told you that being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame was the greatest honor that the Oak Ridge Boys have ever experienced. Singing at President Bush’s funeral was also a tremendous honor.

We established a friendship with President Bush many years ago. We first met him when he was the Vice President under President Ronald Reagan. President Reagan invited us to sing on the lawn of the White House at the Congressional Barbecue while he was president. I remember that day, we went there and we were doing a sound check on the lawn of the White House. They had set up a stage there. While we were doing the sound check, in the middle of the afternoon, we notice this entourage of men walking across the White House lawn towards the stage. The guys came up on the stage and right in the middle was this tall, lanky gentleman and he introduced himself as Vice President George Bush. He did not have to do that. Of course we recognized him immediately. But he proceeded to tell us that he was a big fan. He said that he could not be at the concert that night, he had to fly to China, I believe, on some official Vice Presidential business. But he asked “Would you guys be willing to do a few songs for me, right here and now?” We said, “Sure, Mr Vice President. What would you like to hear?”

We realized at that moment that he really was a big fan because he started naming album cuts, not hits, but obscure album cuts that he wanted to hear, so we realized that he really was a big fan. And we gave him a little mini concert that afternoon, right there on the lawn of the White House, and on that day, that started the friendship with him that lasted for many years. And not just with him, but with his wonderful wife, Barbara Bush. We maintained that friendship for many years, even after they left the White House. Many times we would go to Kennebunkport in the summertime, the four of us and our four wives, and hang out with them. And we would give private concerts, right there in his living room. And he would invite the neighbors over and it was a very informal kind of a thing. We always sang for him right there in his living room and one song that he always wanted to hear, and we always included, was his favorite song, “Amazing Grace.” We did it for him many times over the course of the years.

Not too long before he passed away, he asked us if we would sing “Amazing Grace” at his funeral. And we promised him that we would do it. We told him, “You can count on us, regardless of wherever we are, we will be there.” It just so happened that he passed away in December while we were in the middle of our Christmas tour. We were in a place called Spokane, Washington. We could not have been much further away, really. After the concert, we did our Christmas show, which is about 2 and a half hours, we went right to the airport, got on a private plane that was donated to us by a very dear friend of ours, and we flew to Houston. We got there at 5 o’clock in the morning, no time to get any sleep. We went to the hotel and had like an 8 or 8:30 call at the church. There we talked to George W. Bush and Jeb Bush, the former Governor of Florida, and they thanked us so much for doing this for their father. We went to the church and we sang, “Amazing Grace,” at the funeral. What a tremendous honor and a very emotional experience. After the funeral, we went back to the airport, flew on the airplane back to a place called Kennewick, Washington, did another Christmas show that night, all of that without any sleep. We did not miss a show but the most important thing is we were able to keep our promise to President Bush.

See the Oak Ridge Boys in Salem, Va, with Alabama TONIGHT and check out the rest of their tour schedule here.

Photos courtesy of Oak Ridge Boys via Facebook and RichardSterban.com.

One On One Interview With Richard Sterban Of The Oak Ridge Boys

Get Social With The Oak Ridge Boys

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Classic Country Throwdown: Tracy Lawrence, Phil Vassar, Little Texas And Cledus T. Judd 10/4 Cary, NC

Classic Country Throwdown: Tracy Lawrence, Phil Vassar, Little Texas And Cledus T. Judd 10/4 Cary, NC

For one night only, catch the Classic Country Throwdown featuring Tracy Lawrence, Phil Vassar, Little Texas and Cledus T. Judd. This will be a North Carolina exclusive taking place in Cary on 10/4 at Booth Ampitheatre. Tickets are on sale now! [Read more…]

Ray Scott On The Rise Of Independent Artists Finding Success Through Social Media & Satellite Radio

Ray Scott On The Rise Of Independent Artists Finding Success Through Social Media & Satellite Radio

Having scored four #1s in the United Kingdom and being an artist who has received major airplay on SiriusXM, Ray Scott knows a thing or two about how to be successful in the music business, all without having the backing of a major record label, I might add. He recently released his 5th studio album, “Guitar For Sale” and is currently working on an EP entitled, “Honky Tonk Heart,” scheduled to be released in October. You can see him locally at Muddy Creek Cafe and Music Hall in Winston-Salem Saturday night. We recently chatted with Scott about the rise of independent artists and how they are finding success in non-traditional ways, as well as where you can find the best chicken in Nashville. Naturally. [Read more…]

Catching Up With Kasey Tyndall At Carolina Country Music Fest #CCMF2018

Catching Up With Kasey Tyndall At Carolina Country Music Fest #CCMF2018

Last week I attended the 4th annual Carolina Country Music Fest in Myrtle Beach, SC. Let me tell you, it was hot. So hanging out on an air conditioned RV and chatting with North Carolina native, Kasey Tyndall, was a welcome reprieve. She was fresh off of Parmalee’s “Hotdamalama” tour as well as a performance in Nashville for CMAFest. I actually caught a show in the “Hotdamalama” tour but Kasey wasn’t on that particular bill so I was glad to finally get to meet her at Carolina Country Music Fest. Ronda and I got to get out of the Myrtle Beach heat and chill with Kasey on an air conditioned tour bus. Life is good. 😉 [Read more…]

Lewis Brice Interview: Can You Duet, Joey and Rory & Brotherly Love

Lewis Brice Interview: Can You Duet, Joey and Rory & Brotherly Love

Interviewing Lewis Brice at this year’s Carolina Country Music Fest was unlike any other artist interview that I had ever taken part in previously. I met up with some of his crew, caught the end of his set and watched as he did a meet and greet with a line of very eager fans. Then I got to go backstage as we preceded to walk through a crowd to the RV where the interview was to take place. Along the way, several fans stopped him to asked for autographs and pictures and such, to which he happily obliged. I even held his beer while he signed a few things. So ladies, I like to think I helped make this happen for you in a very tiny way, lol. He sang along to Morgan Wallen’s “Up Down” [Wallen was on stage as we were walking to the RV] so I feel like I even got my own little impromptu concert.

Lewis Brice Interview: Can You Duet, Joey and Rory & Brotherly Love

EPR: So you had two performances here this year?

Lewis Brice: I did.

EPR: Are you going to do anymore? Or where are you going next?

Lewis Brice: I think I am done for today. So I had 2:30 on the stage right there – it was awesome. I had a great time. And then I had the Blue Moon Tent, which was fantastic. I mean, it was packed in there.

EPR: And you did meet and greets.

Lewis Brice: Yeah, meet and greets at that. And so, I’ve been rock and rolling all day, since I got here.

EPR: Are meet and greets typical at your shows?

Lewis Brice: Yeah, we are getting more and more. Now I guess I am doing a little better and better so people are requesting meet and greets so yeah we are doing meet and greets at shows and stuff like that.

EPR: That’s cool. A lot of people really love that you know? How many shows do you usually do a year?

Lewis Brice: Weekend Warrior, if that puts it in perspective – about 4 days a week. It comes out to about 180 to almost 200 something like that.

Lewis Brice Interview: Can You Duet, Joey and Rory & Brotherly Love

EPR: So where are you going next?

Lewis Brice: Well, I am finally finishing up CMA Fest this week and Carolina Country Music Fest. I fly back tomorrow, actually, and I have one more CMA Fest show. So I’ve had like 3 shows this week and then today and then tomorrow I have one more show, acoustic. When I get done with that, I am done for at least one day. Then I’m back on the road – I think I have a show in Ohio on the 21st, back in Nashville the 23rd. From there I am off to the races. I know I am playing Maine, I’m thinking I’ll be in Minneapolis, Oregon.

EPR: So you are from South Carolina, right?

Lewis Brice: Just 2 hours down the road from Myrtle Beach, right down Myrtle Beach Highway in Sumter, SC.

EPR: So this is kind of like your stomping grounds. Do you get to come back to South Carolina a lot?

Lewis Brice: More holidays now. We are so busy. I live in Nashville. I mean my favorite times to come back are Thanksgiving and Christmas. And then we go camping right here at North Myrtle Beach, around the Little River area. So, we actually made the Myrtle Beach News a couple of years ago, I think we did. It said “Loud Explosions In The North Myrtle Beach Little River Area That Nobody Can See!” We go on a camping trip every year, in the middle of the swamp and just have a good time.

EPR: Obviously having a really good time. [laughs]

Lewis Brice: Yeah, we make noise. [laughs]

EPR: So people who are on the outside who didn’t get invited get to know? That’s kind of messed up isn’t it? [laughs]

Lewis Brice: [laughs] Well, you know, that’s a very personal trip. It’s like 6 of us at the most. And we just sit in the woods for 3 days and that’s our 3 days to not worry about our cell phones or anything. It’s our 3 days a year off.

EPR: You need more than 3 days, but hey, 3 days is 3 days.

Lewis Brice: Awww, if I’m awake, I’m working.

Lewis Brice Interview: Can You Duet, Joey and Rory & Brotherly Love

EPR: Alright. Alright. So tell me about your partnership with the Disabled American Vets.

Lewis Brice: It’s really awesome. I met Mike – he got in a pretty bad spot. He couldn’t find a job, this, that and the other and I met him today for the first time. I talked to him a couple of days ago. And the service he gave, just what he did for our country. Now, he has his own organization, or he’s working with the organization. He’s just an inspiring person, you know? I can’t even imagine being in his position, when the bullets are flying at you. Somewhere else in the world where the people around you, they aren’t fans of you. It’s crazy what he put up with.

He’s just a good dude. I’ll hang out with him after the show today. I think he’s still around. I think he’s back in the room. I told him to come back a little later, we’ll have a couple of cold ones.

EPR: That sounds like a good day. So you were on “Can You Duet?”

Lewis Brice: I was. I moved to Nashville over 10 years ago. A couple of years in, I was able to go on a show called “Can You Duet?” through CMT. And we did well, I got the Top 8. It was a great, great experience, it really was. I learned a lot about the business, in the TV sense, I guess. A lot of it was like hurry up and wait, but the talented people I was fortunate enough to meet on that show, my buddies Brownell & Richey, Nick Brownell and Jeremiah Richey.

I met a couple other people – some of my favorite people I met on the season were Joey and Rory. They were on my season, God bless her soul. They were the sweetest people in the world and I was able to become friends with them. But everything that happened with her… their base on faith, it’s awesome. It’s an amazing, beautiful thing. Man, Rory, he’s just a great dude. Joey, she was a beautiful soul.

EPR: They seemed like they genuinely cared for each other.

Lewis Brice: 110,000%. When I met them, that’s exactly – you saw them, wherever you saw them, that’s exactly who they were. They were some of my favorite people. They loved each other, they loved life. They were just beautiful human beings. I think out of that season, I was just fortunate to meet them.

EPR: Yeah, and like 1000s of people try to get on that show.

Lewis Brice: I think they said the number was like 3 or 4 or 5,000 or something like that. I was able to make the Top 8, so…

Lewis Brice Interview: Can You Duet, Joey and Rory & Brotherly Love

EPR: Were you nervous? Was that a nerve wracking show for you?

Lewis Brice: It was kind of nerve wracking because there’s a differene between playing on TV and playing in front of an audience. In front of audiences, you can be a little more live and a little more loose, but on TV they hear every word and every inflection in your voice. Yeah, I was a little nervous. I don’t get nervous that often, but for that I did.

EPR: Do you have to sing differently [on TV]? I know you were talking about every inflection or whatever, but is it a different style entirely – how you use your voice?

Lewis Brice: You really have to hear your voice. It’s not really – you gotta sing how you are going to sing. I would have to learn a lot more about singing, like I would have to scream to sing I guess if I were trying to sing sing. But when you are in the studio or on TV and it’s right there, you hear everything, so it’s more singing than it is the former, I guess.

Lewis Brice Interview: Can You Duet, Joey and Rory & Brotherly Love

EPR: So, you and your brother [country singer Lee Brice] have both been able to make it in the music industry. Is it odd at family reunions and get togethers that so many people are doing well? Any fun rivalries?

Lewis Brice: Actually it’s really awesome. Honestly, it’s a cool thing. I mean, 2 brothers working it out in country music. So, it works out well. Him and I work very well together. We are best friends and he helped me produce my last album and I helped him produce the new album. I tell you, he’s a work horse. I’ve learned a lot from him and when we get together he believes in that music just as much as I believe in it. I’m very blessed to have a good brother like him. We’ve done a really good job to keep separate I guess.

EPR: So, you have made a lot of lists like, “New Country Artists To Know,” and “Ten Artists To Watch.” How do feel about that? On such big label magazines.

Lewis Brice: When it comes to musicians, Rolling Stone, Rolling Stone Magazine – when I woke up and I saw that I had that article in Rolling Stone Magazine, I was like “Geez, that’s crazy!” I was also in Billboard this past year. I’m going to try and prove them right. I’m going to keep on working and I have new music coming out.

Check out Lewis Brice’s tour dates here.

Lewis Brice Interview: Can You Duet, Joey and Rory & Brotherly Love

Get Social With Lewis Brice

Official Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

MerleFest 2018 Announces Chris Austin Songwriting Contest Winners

MerleFest 2018 Announces Chris Austin Songwriting Contest Winners

Earlier this year I told you about the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest coming to Merlefest. This was a fabulous opportunity for songwriters to get their pieces heard by true legends in the industry like Rodney Crowell. The Merlefest 2018 Chris Austin Songwriting Contest winners were announced yesterday and I have them below for those of you who want to check them out! [Read more…]

Derek Jones Opens For Billy Ray Cyrus & Releases New Album “Pray”

Derek Jones Opens For Billy Ray Cyrus & Releases New Album "Pray"

Looking for some new music to listen to? We recommend checking out Derek Jones. He has been touring with Billy Ray Cyrus and has just released his new album, “Pray,” featuring songs that he and Cyrus co-wrote. Get all the info on his recent television debut and international tour dates below. [Read more…]