Thom Shepherd is an Austin, Texas-based singer/songwriter. After years of living in Nashville, Thom relocated to Texas in 2011 to pursue a full time touring career.
He is the writer of the #1 singles “Redneck Yacht Club”, recorded by Craig Morgan, and “Riding with Private Malone” recorded by David Ball. He wrote the title track of Tracy Lawrence’s Grammy nominated album “The Rock,” and the #1 Josh Abbott and Pat Green single, “My Texas.” Kevin Fowler recorded two of Thom’s songs, taking “Beer Season” to #1 for three weeks and “Cheaper To Keep Her” to #3 on the Texas Music Chart. He wrote the 2011 GMA Canada Song and Video of the year for High Valley’s recording of “A Father’s Love (The Only Way He Knew How).”
In total Thom has had over 10 singles and had over ninety cuts by artists including Easton Corbin, Colt Ford, Bucky Covington, George Jones, Trailer Choir, Montgomery Gentry, Buddy Jewell, and Cledus T. Judd.
His music has taken him on 9 tours performing for our military in 17 different countries.
His latest release is the single “Simplify” from the CD of the same name, distributed by Smith Entertainment.
He was born in St. Louis, Missouri and spent his high school and college years in Stephens City, Virginia. He is a graduate of George Mason University and moved to Nashville in 1993. He is a two time cancer survivor, a father of two, a full time songwriter and touring performer.
Cameran and his band, Guardrail Damage Ahead, are touring extensively and his new album “Happy To Beer” released in June 2013 including the tracks “Thrown”, which reached #70 on the Texas Regional Radio Report, “Happy To Beer”, which remained on the Texas charts for 24 weeks and reached #19 on the TexNet50 music chart, and the new single “Reckless In Texas” which will be released in August 2013! Look for the new album on iTunes.com/camerannelson and www.cdbaby.com/camerannelson . For a hard copy visit www.mytexasmusic.org/camerannelson
If you added all the miles Cameran has lived in Texas since being born in Haskell, Texas, to living south of Kingsville, East of Rockwall, west of Lubbock and now living in the hill country, Cameran is from 1,815 miles of Texas! Cameran, with his high-energy Texas sound and energetic live show, has shared the stage with acts such as Roger Creager, Randy Rogers Band, Kevin Fowler, Jack Ingram, Cody Johnson, Reckless Kelly, Gary P. Nunn, Mickey and The Motorcars, and has shows booked this summer with Kyle Park, and Eli Young. In early 2013, Cameran was nominated for 3 Texas Music Awards, Male Vocalist, Rising Star, and Record of the Year.
“Getting on stage and playing is just that!” says Cameran about his show. “The work is over and we get to cut loose and have some fun!”
With a commanding yet natural stage presence and a voice full of gravelly emotion, he has the ability to hold the crowd in the palm of his hand; a trait no doubt instilled in him by his musical background. Cameran spent a few years selling merchandise for the late great Gary Stewart. While working for Gary, Cameran was able to see how the “King of Honky Tonk” kept a crowd entertained, and also learned how to play a few of Gary’s hits from Gary himself. At the age of thirteen, Cameran began playing bass in his dad’s country band and built on this foundation by furthering his education at South Plains College, where he studied voice and guitar.
Pulling from a deep well of life experiences, he writes songs that strike universal chords. He knows all too well about loss, after losing his best friend and guitar player in a car accident at the age of 17. Delivering a love song is as natural as the love for his wife and three children. He’s not afraid to get a little “wild and reckless” as well, as his newest single, “Reckless in Texas” can attest. “I’m so grateful to be able to do this. I love getting to share our show and songs with new audiences,” says Cameran.
Not many just-turned 15-year olds are invited on stage by a legendary group like the Oak Ridge Boys to sing acapella. The captivated audience in Galveston’s prestigious Opry sat enraptured… then came thunderous applause and a standing ovation for Mary Sarah’s rendition of the 1961 Connie Frances hit, “Where the Boys Are,” a song that most artists of her tender age would not even attempt, much less, know.
At 12, Mary Sarah toured the U.S. for 6 months as a featured lead vocalist and dancer in KidzBop®, a Razor & Tie Records and Vee Corporation production, produced by Michael Anderson in Los Angeles. This was an 18-song rock concert from Kidz Bop albums, which to date have racked up 7 Gold albums, with “kid-friendly” cover versions of hits. The experience from performing in front of 4-6,000 kids per show defined her stage presence and earned her national and global popularity.
After the Kidz Bop tour, Mary Sarah returned to Texas and began performing in local and regional Opry Theatres, Town Squares and Charity fundraisers.
Like many top country artists, Mary Sarah’s first performances were in church at age 8. One advantage of living in Texas is the presence of hundreds of country radio stations and numerous regional Opry Theaters and Mary Sarah has performed in almost all of them multiple times, paying tribute to her heroes – the legends of country music.
The ISC, Inc. (International Songwriting Competition) Founder/Director, Candice Avery, has placed Mary Sarah in the Top-Ten, TEEN CATEGORY, for her self-penned song “A New Crush,” which was chosen from 15,000 entrants, making this an extraordinary achievement.
Mary Sarah has also been awarded by Musicati Inventor/Co-developer, Troy Stacy, a $50,000 promotion package servicing 20,000 digital juke boxes throughout North America, beginning April 1, 2011 for her first CD titled, CRAZY GOOD, recorded at age 14.
It didn’t make any difference how Zane Williams went about writing a song, it just came out country. You might say Zane didn’t so much find country as country found him.
And that suits him just fine.
“Everything I wrote just sounded country because I was telling stories that I could relate to; that other people relate to,” he said. “I believe that’s what makes a great country song.”
You don’t have to listen to Zane’s music long to recognize he reaches deep within his soul to pour out songs like, “Pablo and Maria.” But if you listen to his, “99 Bottles,” you also know Zane likes everybody to kick up their heels and have a good time on a Friday night.
“When I moved back to Texas I knew I was going to be playing honky-tonks so I figured I needed a good beer-drinking song,” he said. “The only beer-drinking song I knew when I was growing up was ’99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall,’ so this is my take on it.”
Zane nearly gave up songwriting the year before producing “99 Bottles.” He had moved to Nashville shortly after graduating from college and started chasing his dream to be a singer/songwriter. Nine years later, Zane was still cranking out songs, including Jason Michael Carroll’s 2010 top 15 hit, “Hurry Home.” He had other songs – award-winning songs – recognized for their craftsmanship and thoughtful ideas, but he was only scratching out a living. Time to move on, he finally decided, but then he got a second unexpected boost…
…from the real estate industry.
He enrolled in a seminar to learn how to make money through revitalizing entire neighborhoods then selling the houses. Helping people and providing a better life for his family; it sounded like something about which he could get passionate. On the conference’s final day, the presenters spoke about work that aligned with your passion. It reminded Zane of a song; one of his songs.
“I said, ‘Hey you guys want to hear a song I wrote about chasing your dreams and the difference between who you are now and who you want to be?’ I got out my guitar and sang this song for this group of 30 or 40 people, and when I got done they were like, ‘Why are you here? If you can write and sing like that, you need to go do that!'”
So he did. Zane packed his family’s belongings and moved back to Texas. The real estate conference rekindled the dream into a blaze, and he wasn’t going to doubt again. The move proved to be the best career decision to date, mostly because the simplicity of life found around family, close friends and hunting and fishing connects Zane with “what’s real in life.”
“It was wonderful to be back close to our families,” he said. “My first gig was at an open mic night, and I met a local DJ there who started playing my music that very week. I started making fans right away, and there was so much appreciation for my style of music down here in Texas, almost reverence. For the first time in my life, I started to feel the momentum building.”
The momentum has certainly picked-up. Zane has received consistent radio airplay on country stations across Texas that led to his first entry on the Texas Music Chart with “Ride With Me,” from the 2011 album with the same title. Zane is also one of the featured artists on Troubadour Texas, a television show documenting his rising career.
“I can honestly say I’m doing what I love,” Zane said. “And I’m where I need to be.
Thirteen years can put a hell of a lot of wear and tear on even the hardiest of rock ’n’ roll bands. But don’t be fooled by all those hundreds of thousands of miles on Micky & the Motorcars’ odometer: pop the hood of Hearts From Above, the long-running Austin band’s seventh album, and you’ll find a brand-new engine, fine-tuned and good to run for at least as many more miles still ahead. And behind the wheel? Two brothers and founding members Micky Braun (lead vocals and guitar) and Gary Braun (guitar, mandolin, harmonica, and vocals) invigorated and supercharged by a transfusion of new blood from fresh recruits Dustin Schaefer (lead guitar), Joe Fladger (bass), and Bobby Paugh (drums). Micky and Gary, who by their own admission, haven’t been this fired up about playing together since they first rode south from the Whitecloud Mountains of Idaho to stake their claim to the Texas and wider Americana music scenes.
Sundy Best crafts music that re-imagines timeless classic rock of the ‘70s and ‘80s –
think the Eagles and the smart, whiskey-voiced lyrics of Tom Petty and Bob Seger. With
Nick on guitar and Kris on cajon, Sundy Best takes that sound, modernizes it in their
own unique way by borrowing hints of country and bluegrass, to make it personal.
Offstage, the pair are lifelong friends, college athletes and dog-lovers; onstage the
musical duo delivers something wholly fresh and original, blending their best influences
with personal music histories.
“We set out to do this,” says Kris. “We write our songs, play and sing; it’s what we’ve
done, it’s what we’ll do. We want to create something that will stand the test of time, like
Seger or the Eagles. We don’t really have a standard genre. If people want to call us
country, let them. But with Bring Up the Sun, you’ll get a really good sense of what
we’re doing in our style of country music, and it’s got ‘70s classic rock sounds, with a
little pop, rock, and bluegrass.”
Sundy Best began as a high energy Lexington, Kentucky bar act. As kids coming up
together in Eastern Kentucky, they played music in church and formed their own band in
“Growing up, my earliest memories are of my dad playing and singing, and listening to
records with him,” says Kris. He played drums along with Dad, and the cajon remains
his instrument – part of what gives Sundy Best its distinctive sound. All songs on Bring
Up The Sun were recorded using cajon, no drums or cymbals.
Nick recalls his mom playing piano. By first grade, he took piano lessons too, though
practicing wasn’t his thing. “I remember my whole family played bluegrass at the
holidays. I was shy growing up; I didn’t try to sing much.” Eventually, guitar became his
Both athletes, Nick headed to Pikeville College for football, while Kris played basketball
at Centre College in Danville.
English major Kris read Twain and Melville when not on the basketball court; Nick
started strumming guitar in bars. When his favorite football coach, a fellow musician, left
the school, he gave Nick a parting gift – a real passion for live music.
“He introduced me to the bar and pool hall scene in Johnson City. The musicians I met
inspired me, I found myself writing music. My life took a new direction.”
“The Statesboro Revue is in the process of re-defining rock and roll, refusing to let blues and country, the real roots of rock music, fall by the wayside. Stewart and the Statesboro Revue are trying to remind America what rock music is really all about: soul. Mann’s voice, songs, and band have that in spades.” Andy Hertsch, Vail Daily News
Rob Baird will be the first one to tell you that he hasn’t always been 100%, shall we say, forthright as a songwriter. Back in college (not too terribly long ago), he recorded an album that he has since “completely buried” — primarily, he says, because back then, “I just wasn’t writing about anything that really meant anything to me.” His next album, 2010’s Blue Eyed Angels (which he considers his proper debut), was a fair deal closer to his heart, but even then he was still an artist in search of himself. Songs like “Could Have Been My Baby,” “Blue Eyed Angels” and especially “Fade Away” all demonstrated that he was ultra-confident in the hooks department and talented enough to sound like he knew what he was doing, but Baird himself was still not entirely convinced.
By striking contrast, one listen to his new album, the aptly titled I Swear It’s the Truth, and it’s clear that Baird has not only found his sincere artistic identity, but grabbed his sense of purpose by the wheel and pushed pedal to the metal. “I’m moving like the wind through the trees, like a train on a track, there ain’t no stopping me,” he declares on the opening “Dreams and Gasoline. “Let the wheels spin free.”
Three years of touring successfully can have an effect on one’s confidence, as does the benefit of just having a little more time to mature. Baird, now 25, wrote and recorded Blue Eyed Angels when he was only 21, at the end of his senior year at Fort Worth’s Texas Christian University. Baird stayed in Texas after graduation (relocating to Austin) and began carving out his own niche. But even as Blue Eyed Angels found traction on regional radio on the strength of his steady touring and solid singles like “Could Have Been My Baby” and “Fade Away,” Baird formulated his own style, cut with guitars both jangly and crunchy and crisscrossed by rivers of pedal steel and tasteful organ, that
quickly set him apart from rest of the Texas crowd.
Since then, Baird has drawn favorable comparisons to artists from the wider Americana landscape like Ryan Adams, Chris Knight, John Mellencamp, and Tom Petty.
Scott Davis, long-time Hayes Carll band member, produced both Blue Eyed Angels and I Swear It’s the Truth. “I met Scott through my first manager, and he started taking me under his wing,” Baird says. “Scott was a pretty big influence as far as going, ‘You can be two kinds of people: You can be a party band, or you can try to be an artist.’” Baird picked the latter.
Last March — three years after making Blue Eyed Angels but less than a year after the album’s release — Baird and Davis began work on I Swear It’s the Truth at Austin’s Cedar Creek Recording studio. They had to work around both Baird’s and Carll’s touring schedules, though, which allowed Baird plenty of time to fine tune his latest batch of songs and Davis time to assemble the perfect team. In addition to Baird (guitar) and Davis (guitar, banjo, piano, and organ), the album features guitarist Keith Gattis; Carll’s rhythm section of drummer Kenny Smith and bassist Cody Foote; pedal steel and dobro players Ricky Ray Jackson and Ben Kitterman; and background vocal support from Kelly Mickwee of the Trishas and Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist of the Band of Heathens. Near the end of the sessions in January, guitarist Woodrow Morgan and drummer Nate Coon from Baird’s road band came in to play on one of the pedal-steel laced “Same Damn Thing.”
“That’s actually my favorite song on the record, I think,” says Baird of “Same Damn Thing,” one of several he collaborated on with co-writer Rick Brantley. “It describes pretty much how you feel every time you play, no matter if it’s a good show or a bad show. By the time that you’re walking out of the bar at 3 in the morning, you’re like, ‘Dude … everything’s good, but what an interesting life this is.’”
Baird and Brantley also co-wrote “Dreams and Gasoline” (another slice of life on the road) and the album’s emotionally gripping centerpiece, “Redemption.” “He’s really into desperation, the small town kind of stuff, and I am, too, so we complemented each other on that,” Baird says. “‘Redemption’ has a real kind of loneliness thing going on; it seems like a lot of these songs have that theme.”
In addition to Brantley, Baird also co-wrote songs with fellow Texas-based artists Ryan Beaver (“Along the Way,” “More Than Willing”) and Drew Kennedy (“Don’t Cry for Me”), as well as one with East Nashville’s Andrew Combs (the trenchant “Black and Blue”). Baird wrote the decidedly more optimistic-leaning (but still lonely!) “Can’t Stop Running” solo, and the album is rounded out by three outside contributions: Combs’ “Please Please”; “40 Days and 40 Nights,” by Brantley, Mark Shelby, and Tia Sellers; and “I Can’t Get Over You,” by Americana mainstay Buddy Miller. The miller song was a longtime favorite of Baird’s that he turned to during a trying time in a relationship, which made it the perfect coda for I Swear It’s the Truth, an album that rings emotionally true from beginning to end.
“I just think it’s a really honest record, and it’s kind of the only record that I knew how to make at this point,” says Baird. “‘I’ll swear it’s the truth’ is how I feel about all of these songs. I’ve definitely felt this way in the past three or four years, and I feel like this is a pretty strong collection of songs representing where I am now and what I’m trying to do, whether it’s for better or worse.
“I’ve really spent a lot of time trying to perfect my writing, or at least trying to figure out who I am and convey that better in my songs, and trying to perfect the live show, because I want to be around for awhile,” he continues. “I just want longevity. If it takes a long time to figure out how to get enough fans to be able to tour the country and stay out there, then that’s fine. Because if it’s just going to be a flash-in-the-pan kind of deal, it doesn’t seem like it’s worth doing.”
By facing his losses and demons on the page, McKinney is able to write relatable music. His passion and energy is a perfect foil for his down-to-earth songs: it is hard to imagine anyone listening to “June 7th,” about his divorce, without getting a lump in their throat. The song starts, “It was the 7th of the sixth month when my world stopped spinning/ When you said that you don’t love me anymore/ We swore that we would hold on, so I didn’t see it coming/ And I guess I really still don’t understand,” and his hurt is palpable. By being so specific with his lyrics, McKinney opens his heart up to the audience while still writing a song everyone who has ever loved and lost can identify with.
Likewise, more laid-back songs like “Middle of Nowhere” are about growing up in the Midwest, and would fit in on any contemporary radio station—“Born on the Westside of a Midwest town/ Indiana boy without a doubt/ Raised on the banks of the Ohio/ skippin’ rocks to see how far they’d go” evokes more than just his own memories, these are the shared childhoods of Midwesterners.
He also talks about touring and the blessing and curse that music can be in “Strangers, Stages, and Cheap Hotels,” with lyrics “ I fell for the one mistress who don’t share/ she gives me strangers, stages and cheap hotels” and writes about new beginnings on songs like “Better the Second Time,” with lyrics like, “Every now and then you get a second chance/ Someone comes along that makes you want to live again,” which make it obvious that McKinney is taking the pain of the path of all he’s learned in his life and moving forward. He is ready to leave his permanent mark on the music industry.
Award for best costume!
The story of Midnight River Choir is proof that sometimes great bands just happen. One night, four strangers ended up on a late night float trip down the Guadalupe River. As they made their way down the river singing songs, the beautiful harmonies floated into the heads of sleeping campers. The next morning, the boys overheard a man telling a friend that he was “awakened by a midnight river choir.” That was all it took. Eric Middleton (lead singer and guitarist), Justin Nelson (lead guitarist), Jeromy Yager (former bassist), and Mitchell Pyeatt (drummer), realized the magic of their combined talents and began writing and performing together under that River-God given name.
The formation of Midnight River Choir was nothing short of a force of nature that now translates seamlessly during their live shows. This band needs no labels or comparisons. Their music speaks volumes about who and what they are. Their lives have been woven together by a strong thread of energy both on and off stage. That energy is raw and natural and soaked up from the earth through their bare feet. They believe that what you get is what you give and they give everything they have to their crowds. When that kind of energy lands back at the feet of the boys it is something of supreme intensity. And no one ever forgets it.
With roots buried deep within the genres of blues, alt. country, americana, soul, and a major influence of old-fashioned American rock and roll, it’s extremely hard to describe exactly what brand of music you’re hearing coming from whatever stage or stereo system the Offenders are occupying. But one thing is for sure. It refuses to go unnoticed. And what good is music once it’s been labeled anyway?
The guys released their debut album, ‘Shape of it All,’ late in the summer of 2007 and have sent several songs to the top requested lists – including the number 1 song of 2008 on radiofreetexas.org, ‘Fallin From High.’
The band spent much of 2009 gearing up for the release of their much anticipated ‘Lee Road Sessions’ EP to be followed up with a full length album of entirely all new material.
Now, after teaming up with famed producer Mike McClure, the third record is complete and will be released January 18th, 2011. ‘Not Broken Yet’ is a 13 track (12 new, 1 re-recorded) album of material unlike anything you have ever heard from Hunter McKithan & the Offenders. Be sure to grab a copy of the album and catch a live show next time they’re in your area.
Anyone wondering about Wood & Wire’s sound need not look any further than the four-piece band’s name, which honors the purity of acoustic instruments and the gorgeous music a skilled artist can coax out of just simple wood and wire.
Founded in 2010, Wood & Wire’s core members are Tony Kamel on lead vocals and guitar, Dominic Fisher on Bass, and Trevor Smith on Banjo. Their sound, as Smith puts it, is “a modern take on traditional mountain, hillbilly, and country music”. In just a few short years, the band has had the honor of playing notable festivals and venues across the country like The Telluride Bluegrass Festival and Old Settlers Music Festival. Later in 2014, they’ll make their way across the country playing Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in Oak Hill, NY and the IBMA Street Fair in Raleigh, NC. After that the guys will make their way home to Austin to play the Austin City Limits Music Festival.
In February 2013, the band released their self-titled debut album to much critical acclaim. In March of this year, the guys began work on their follow up album working again with Grammy nominated producer/engineer Erick Jaskowiak in Nashville, TN. Their second effort is a coming of age collection of original songs based on real and personal experiences with a coastal theme and is set for release in early 2015. While Kamel is the primary songwriter and vocalist, his tunes become Wood & Wire tunes when coupled with the talents, insight, and ideas of Fisher and Smith. The album will also feature an original written and sung by Fisher and an eclectic instrumental composed by Smith.
Touring heavily to round out the second half of 2014, the band has recently enlisted the talents of Billy Bright on the mandolin. Billy is a veteran in the acoustic music world having toured with Peter Rowan for many years and worked with heavy hitting legends like Tony Rice and Vassar Clements.
Wood & Wire is poised to have a another breakout year; as they bring fiery bluegrass footstompers and loose, acoustic jams to packed venues across the country, it’ll be hard to say who’s having a better time: the band or the crowd.