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CRS Finale: Get to know these 12 artists

Last month during Country Radio Seminar (CRS), Matt Bailey and I conducted more than a dozen interviews as social media extras for The Music Universe Podcast. We thought our interview coverage was done at that point. Well, a month later, I realize we had received an overwhelming amount of responses to a printed Q&A we also offered, but technology failed to notify me of those submissions. Instead of publishing 12 different interviews with the same questions, I’ve compiled them into a single collective interview. You can catch several of these artists as part of the aforementioned video podcast series. There are eight questions, so this is quite an extensive read, but it’s a great introduction into the lives of some upcoming artists who’ve had to reconfigure their plans in 2020 and are looking forward to the future.

Are you working on any new music? If so, was it planned before the pandemic or did it happen because of it?

Andrew Beam: I am always working on new material, regardless of the pandemic. We have our first album dropping on April 16th, but that was relatively planned prior to COVID (obviously this delayed our timeline). At this point, there is enough solid material in my notepad for the second album.

Houston Bernard: I had recorded my new single, “People We Are” in Dec 2019, I knew I was release it within 12 month or so, but we did delay a few months because of the pandemic.

Manny Blu: We’re literally always working on new music, and new projects. No one in my camp likes to just stay idle for too long. We anticipate being significantly busy this year with the hopes of releasing 2 EP’s and 3 parts of of our live series on YouTube called “Live and Turned Up” each part has about 5 to 6 videos. So yes we have a lot coming this year! All the pandemic did was give me time to reflect on what I wanted to do moving forward.

Daniel Borge: I’m always working on new music. I’ve been writing as much as I can and making demos. Because of the pandemic, I’ve had more time to write than I did before.

Dave Herrera: Yes, absolutely! I had been working on music before the pandemic and have continued to do so. Music is one of those things you never stop working on, especially when it’s part of you! It’s like an old car – you are always working on it!

Nicky James: I am very pumped to be able to release the first single off my second EP March 10th. I went back and forth on if it was a good time to put music out or not and decided to just go for it. Eric Torres produced it and I couldn’t be more happy with the sound and craftsmanship we got out of these four songs.

Juna: Yes, the release got postponed and it was frustrating.
Joey: We are working on new music and wrote a lot of songs while at home.

Alannah McCready: Like everyone in our industry, the pandemic greatly affected my career. Going from touring/playing shows on a regular basis to not at all was quite a shock for all of us. It took a little while to figure out how to transfer that energy and I found that getting back in the studio was the answer for me so I guess I would say it happened because of the pandemic! I created a new EP that I am very excited to share this year! The first single “Something Like That” will be available everywhere on Feb. 26!

Jason Charles Miller: I have two new albums coming out, and I’d say the pandemic definitely changed my plans around the release, but I’m actually releasing MORE music than I had planned to, so I guess I’m making lemonade out of lemons.

Nashvillains: We are working on an Andrew Dorff song produced by his father and our friend Steve Dorff. We’re currently still writing for our new album with some of the top songwriters in Nashville.

Texwestus: We just wrapped up and finalized the masters to our next project! This new project happened 100% because of the pandemic – it gave us time to actually sit down and write/record new music.

Kylie Trout: Yes I am! All of the music I am working on has been stuff that I have come up with throughout the pandemic. I am grateful to have had lots of writing time!

What do you think touring will be like when it resumes on a wider scale? Will meet and greets resume or be more socially distant?

Andrew Beam: Lord, I hope everything returns to normal. I am a handshake kind of guy, always will be.

Houston Bernard: I think it depends on the artist, as long as we are being safe I hope to meet everyone who wants to meet me.

Manny Blu: I think we’re gonna have to look at it in steps. 1st lets get back to playing shows and then everything else will fall into place. But I do think it might take time before a majority of people feel comfortable to be doing M&G’s and being crammed in the pit by the stage.

Daniel Borge: I hope everything will go back to how it was before. But I do think it will take a while before that happens.

Dave Herrera: Okay, I’m going out on a limb with this one, but I think touring may happen in the fall and winter of 2021 or the beginning of 2022. I hope that meet and greets will happen again in the future because bands and artists love to interact with folks that appreciate the music!

Nicky James: I personally think touring needs to start up again, there are plenty of social distance options that can be implemented to insure a safe setting but the small venues are getting killed by this pandemic and we as musicians and a industry owe it to them to keep them in business. Touring on a large scale may not be able to happen but I think there are plenty of ways to keep having shows and to keep people safe at the same time.

Juna: I think there will be reduced capacity and most venues will continue to require social distancing.
Joey: Meet and greets will be a challenge – I am hopeful that the venues will figure out a solution.

Alannah McCready: I think and hope touring will go back to relatively normal! I think in the beginning meet and greets will be more socially distant until everyone gets into the swing of things. I am hoping sometime in the future we can all safely go back to normal meet and greets that include hugs because the fans are why we do it!

Jason Charles Miller: I have no idea, but I LOVE meet and greets, so I hope there’s a safe way to do them! I love nothing more than to talk to people after the show.

Texwestus: As of right now, we think things will start slow – open aired venues, socially distanced, etc. I can’t imagine meet and greets will look the same just yet, either. If they happen, it will be distanced and masked, I’m sure. We’re ready for things to go back to normal! Most outdoor concerts have shown to be very successful so far, so we are optimistic that touring will resume very soon.

Kylie Trout: If all goes well, hopefully we can go back to normal touring, however I personally don’t see that happening on a wider scale for a while. I think in time large meet and greets will resume, but for the time being maybe small gatherings for meet and greets will be accepted sooner than later, it just all depends on location.

Nashvillains: Meet and greet will probably return with more social distance between fans and artists whether we like it or not. As far as touring returning I think it will be on a state by state basis.

What are you most looking forward to when it comes to touring?

Andrew Beam: I honestly miss meeting new people and extending our rock-solid network of fans as much as I miss the stage. Aside from playing, I enjoy getting to hang out with some of the best individuals in the most interesting places wherever the shows take us. Looking forward to plenty more of that.

Houston Bernard: The connection of meeting people who enjoy what I am doing, the energy of the live show is incomparable.

Manny Blu: Getting back to the reason I started this career which was to play live shows, it’s my favorite thing to do and I can’t wait to be back on stage damn near every day.

Daniel Borge: I’m really looking forward to being able to sing my songs and connect with an audience. There is a special feeling with live gigs. I can’t wait to get that feeling again!

Dave Herrera: I am most looking forward to the interactions with other artists and bands as well as fans! I can’t wait to hear live music with the sound of a large crowd having one hell of a time watching a live show!

Nicky James: Just the interaction with fans and being able to play these songs live sounds amazing right now. I really feel for my band members and just want to get them out doing what they love to do as well.

Alannah McCready: The FANS! We have all been playing Zoom shows but there is just nothing that compares to playing a show and seeing all of those smiling faces right in front of you singing along to the music!

Jason Charles Miller: Just being back on a stage!

Nashvillains: We are most looking forward to meeting our fans and hearing how our music affects them.

Juna: I’m looking forward to exploring new places, meeting other artists, and, hopefully, one day playing the top venues on our list.
Joey: I hope to have our own tour bus one day. I also always look forward to hanging out with new friends and fans!

Texwestus: We are looking forward to traveling and being back in front of real audiences! Virtual concerts are good in a pinch, but when it became a “way of life” for a while, they got old very quickly. Music is meant to be enjoyed widely from a live setting.

Kylie Trout: I am most excited to run around on stage and play my never-heard-before songs!

Are there any dates in the books for 2021, knowing that it’s possible that could change?

Andrew Beam: Considering music is my sole income, we can’t live like shows are going to be postponed forever. We are continuing to book shows with optimism that things will turn around here soon.

Houston Bernard: Yes I have a few dates, a couple festivals and private events.

Manny Blu: Getting back to the reason I started this career which was to play live shows, it’s my favorite thing to do and I can’t wait to be back on stage damn near every day.

Daniel Borge: There’s nothing scheduled at the moment – venues will not set a date until everything calms down.

Dave Herrera: I have a few dates on the books that are only tentative at this point. I will hopefully have some shows in June of 2021 if we can do so safely.

Nicky James: Yes, I currently have two festivals on the books, Mile 0 Fest (April 27th-1st) and Keywest Songwriters Fest (May5th-9th). We will continue to add bars and small venues as the year goes along and cant wait to get out and play live again.

Juna: Yes, if it’s safe to do so, we’ll be performing with Twinnie in the UK in September.
Joey: In March, we have a writers round at The Local in Nashville and The Texas Troubadour which is also in Nashville.

Alannah McCready: I recently just moved to Nashville, I am still getting my bearings here so I haven’t put anything on the books yet but, hopefully, that will start soon!

Jason Charles Miller: As of now I’m booked on the Muddy Roots Festival at the end of August, so my fingers are crossed on that one!

Nashvillains: Yes we have several irons in the fire in regards to booking for 2021.

Texwestus: Yes! We already are trying to pack our schedule as much as possible – we are treating life as normally as possible, but we know it all may change again. We are optimistically booking, this is our way of life.

Kylie Trout: Yes there are a handful! Most importantly, I am scheduled to open for the Marshall Tucker Band on July 31st, and I’m already counting down the days!

Have you been taking advantage of live-streaming?

Andrew Beam: I have done two live streams and learned after about two bars into the first song that if that’s the future of music…I’ll go back to being a Game Warden. Music is about connecting with an audience, which just isn’t the same energy transfer from a screen or distanced. Small, outdoor tailgate-type shows are what I have been playing the past few months. We’re looking forward to a time when larger audiences are safe to gather again.

Houston Bernard: Yes, I have a couple weekly acoustic things I do and a monthly full band livestream as well.

Manny Blu: Ya, when we were at the peak of quarantine we had adapted out Blu Cru Happy Hour for a virtual thing and I have to give all the credit to my team for helping me organize it and making it a high-level production rather than just going on IG live or Facebook live.

Daniel Borge: Probably not as many as I should have! I’ve been thinking about the lockdown and I initially didn’t think the pandemic would last as long as it has. I have done a lot but not nearly as many as I should have!

Dave Herrera: I have been focusing on creating more music and video content! We released a docuseries called “The Shit Show – All Groupies Wanted” which will give you a sneak peek into my life with friends and family and my music as well! Also, I just released the music video for “Visiting Nashville” (you can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aitDTzK9khY)

Nicky James: You know not as much as I probably should but I’ve really been zoned in on writing as much as I possibly can right now. When we do get back to a normal tour season its very hard to find time to write and Im trying to take full advantage of the ample amount of time I’m gifted right now.

Juna: Yes, we have learned how to use most platforms and we have a schedule we follow. Every Tuesday, we have an Instagram Live session and on Fridays, we share announcements on YouTube.
Joey: We have also used Streamyard, Zoom, Twitch, and many more depending on what the interviewers set up.

Alannah McCready: I actually have my first live stream show next week on Feb. 24 for Nashville Meets London and I am looking forward to dipping a toe into the live stream pool!

Jason Charles Miller: Absolutely! I launched my own Twitch channel and I stream three times a week. I have Miller’s Music Mondays, which always has another guest. I run it like a songwriter round, and have had a lot of amazing guests on like Ellis Hall from Tower of Power and Duane Betts from the Allman Betts Band. Then I host a songwriting show on the Codename Games Twitch channel on Tuesdays, and then it’s back to my channel for Whatever You Want Wednesdays. It keeps my chops up and keeps me interacting with people!

Nashvillains: Yes we have a weekly show called Beer 30 on facebook live where we bring on music industry veterans that we’re friends with and have worked with. We also have a show called Broke Down sessions where we showcase writers and artists that we admire. We interview them and perform their hits with them.

Texwestus: We have! Not as much lately as we did in the beginning, but with the lack of being in a real venue, it’s a great way to connect with people. We definitely find that people seem to become calloused to the constant live streams. In person concerts is where the magic happens on a larger scale.

Kylie Trout: Most definitely! I am so grateful for live streaming so I can still connect with followers!

Do you feel that live-streaming shows will continue when touring resumes? If so, on what scale?

Andrew Beam: Again, Lord, I hope not. I am ready for the doors to open, full-tilt boogie.

Houston Bernard: I do actually, I enjoy the new connection with my peeps.

Manny Blu: I think it’s a good way to connect with people on a bigger scale, however, I don’t think it’s anyone’s first option. It will still be relevant but probably on a much smaller scale.

Daniel Borge: Right now, I feel like people maybe had enough and that it will disappear. Nothing beats listening to live music and people are hungry for some great concerts! I think as soon as it’s safe to have live music, people will get out of their houses and go listen to live music again!

Dave Herrera: I think live streaming will definitely still exist, but to me, it’s just not quite the same as the in-person experience with the band/artist and fans.

Nicky James: Honestly I hope not. Live streaming is a great way to connect while in a pandemic but we as a society can not get use to the thought of sitting at home and turning on your computer to watch a show thats just not normal. The act of getting with your friends and going to a live show is such a beautiful thing and I hope that never gets traded in for live streaming.

Juna: Yes, they are here to stay and I think we massively benefitted from live streams.
Joey: We are able to adapt as the music business evolves.

Alannah McCready: I think we are all itching to get back on the road touring so I definitely think the live streaming will be cut back a little. I do think they will continue though because it is a nice way to play shows for your fans that may not be able to make it to a city you’re performing in.

Jason Charles Miller: I think it’s part of a lot of people’s daily routine now, so why shouldn’t it continue?

Nashvillains: We think livestreaming is here to stay, Its a great way to reach a worldwide audience in an efficient manner.

Texwestus: I imagine they will! They’ve already cut back significantly across the board and have settled into more of a routine. I imagine artists will be doing a weekly live show at most rather than the every night that was happening at the beginning of the pandemic.

Kylie Trout: I fell like live streaming shows have become our new normal, and many people have found a love for it, so I totally think they will continue post-pandemic. Its the easiest way to connect with fans all over the globe!

Any upcoming projects aside from new music?

Andrew Beam: We have a music video coming out for our single “You Should See the Other Guy” that I’m really excited about. Be on the lookout for that. Andy Turner and his crew, who film for the Clemson football department, undertook the project. They are an incredibly gifted group and knocked this one out of the park for their first music video.

Houston Bernard: Yes, we have been developing a TV show.

Manny Blu: Yes, check out the Live and Turned Up videos on my YouTube channel (@MannyBluMusic) and be part of the Country Punk revolution.

Daniel Borge: I’m working on getting everything together so I can move to Nashville for a while – as soon as the borders open.

Dave Herrera: Yes – my new docu-series called The Shit Show – All Groupies Wanted. We will continue to release more episodes as it has been fun to let loose and show the behind- the-scenes life of Dave Herrera!

Nicky James: Myself and the team always have something new in the works, but right now I’m excited to get this new EP out into the world. I cannot wait to keep sharing with my fans my stories and hope they can connect with them as much as I do.

Juna: Yes, we will have some video content to accompany our self-titled EP.

Alannah McCready: My new house! I just moved to Nashville so while I am releasing new music, I will also be making my new house a side project!

Jason Charles Miller: I’m currently the voice of Kasuga in the Netflix anime series, Kuroko’s Basketball and I’m the voice of the Gilden Commander in the video game, “Godfall.” I’m also in quite a few projects coming up that I’m not allowed to talk about!

Nashvillains: Upcoming project – we could tell you but we’d have to kill ya. lol.

Texwestus: We have signed with a new management company and have really been working on an overhaul of our branding. That in itself is a project! We have had to completely rethink all social media, photoshoots, website designs, and we’re on TikTok now!

Kylie Trout: Just new music videos and content on social media!

Anything else you want to add?

Andrew Beam: Our first single from the album “You Should See the Other Guy” is now available. The second single, “Selma by Sundown” (also the title track), will drop on March 19th. Y’all do me a favor and spread the word!

Houston Bernard: Thank you for supporting what we are doing. Its appreciated. HoustonBernard.com

Daniel Borge: I would like to add that I will be releasing a whole bunch of new music in 2021. I plan on dropping some singles and then an album – so excited about that! Thank you so much for having me!

Dave Herrera: Be on the look-out for more new music! To keep up with me, you can check out my website and YouTube channel. Thank you for having me!

Nicky James: Appreciate y’all’s support, love for country music and for giving artist like me a platform to tell their story!

Juna: This is our third CRS and we love meeting all the folks at radio and we’re looking forward to our first radio tour as soon as we are able to do that.
Joey: Thank you for this opportunity that you have given us – we really appreciate the support. Thank you from Juna and me as well as River Run Records!!

Jason Charles Miller: I hope everyone is staying safe and doing the best they can to get through this difficult time! You’re not alone.

Nashvillains: We’re ready to explode on the music scene. We’re excited to introduce this band to the world.

Texwestus: Find and follow us everywhere @texwestus ; We just released a new single, “Lonestar,” that is available on all digital streaming platforms! Look out for another release mid-summer!

Kylie Trout: Make sure to follow my social medias all @thekylietrout and check out my music on Spotify/Apple Music! Thank you so much!