Author Archives: MDuffy

Jake Owen Charms at Country Summer


Even though thousands of people descended on the Sonoma County Fairgrounds Friday night to see headliner Jake Owen at the Country Summer festival, the country superstar still managed to pull off a show that felt intimate and personal.

Donning a short-sleeved t-shirt amid the increasingly chilly weather in Santa Rosa, Calif., a barefoot Owens bounced up and down the ramp that jutted out into the crowd throughout the evening, taking time to connect with as many fans as he could.

Like the headphones-wearing baby whose hand he shook when her enthusiastic parent held her up during the early song “!972.” Or the person holding up a sign farther back that Owen pointed out during “Alone With You.” Or mugging for the phone at the end of a long selfie-stick.

And those were hardly the only memories Owen created for the audience, as he seemed to build and build off the energy projected up at him.

“Y’all are getting wild as hell, aren’t ya?” he joked before picking up a Gretsch for “Alone With You,” which comes off his smash 2011 album, Barefoot Blue Jean Night.

Owen worked some new music, as well, most notably in the single “Real Life” and the never-before-played “LAX” – which could be interpreted as “LA-Ex,” as he sang about a love lost when she moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.

“Dead 70-degrees and sunny, please hold on to my California honey,” he sang during the sweet solo acoustic number, drawing both appreciative sighs and knowing chuckles from the NorCal crowd.

Owen also shows his versatility by covering snippets of classic party songs. During his own “Pass the Beer,” he teased Sublime’s “All I Got,” a band he has cited as an influence on his upcoming album, and Shaggy’s “Angel,” not to mention a check of Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice.”

“Seems like y’all know a lot of music, from country to Snoop!” he exclaimed.

Later, he strode out wearing an acoustic guitar and talked about his love of country stalwarts like Gary Allan, who rocked the Country Summer main stage before Owen, Alan Jackson and Brooks and Dunn.

As he professed his love for those legendary artists, Owen then played a verse or two of Jackson’s “Chattahoochee” and Brooks and Dunn’s “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” much to the delight of his thousands of newfound karaoke partners.

By the end of the show, Owen came out for a raucous encore of “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” and as he called for “lighters in the dark in the middle of a rock show,” everyone seemed to oblige, whether by phone light or flame.

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Watch Israel Nash Perform on KEXP


Israel Nash KEXP
Singer/songwriter Israel Nash and his amazing band recently recorded a few tracks inside the Seattle studios of KEXP, bringing an Americana vibe to the station.

Nash performed songs from 2014′s Israel Nash’s Rain Plains, a selection that included “Woman At The Well,” “Mansions,” “Rain Plans” and “Rexanimarium.”

Watch the brief but moving set below.

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Watch Two Gallants Perform on KEXP


Two Gallants KEXPEarlier this year, Two Gallants released a new album called We Are Undone, and they played a few of those songs during a recent in-studio visit to Seattle’s KEXP.

But the San Francisco band also reached into their back catalog for the performance, pulling out the track “Reflections of the Marionette” from their 2007 self-title offering.

Watch Two Gallants in action below and click here for a list of upcoming tour dates.

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Watch Country Duo Whitehorse Perform Intimate Set for CBC Music


Whitehorse CBCCanadian country duo Whitehorse is composed of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland, artists who have both enjoyed successful singer/songwriter solo careers in their own right.

But as Whitehorse, they have been rightfully gaining buzz this year with the February release of third album Leave No Bridge Unburned.

And to support the release, the husband-and-wife duo recently recorded a First Play Live session for CBC Music.

The intimate set took place in a brewery in downtown Toronto, and it was perfect to capture Whitehorse’s folksy blues. With Doucet and McClelland utilizing drums, bass, guitar, percussion and a looper, it was impressive how big the sound could get in a live environment.

For a look at the sessions, watch clips of Whitehorse playing “Tame as the Wild Ones” and “You Get Older” below.

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Hozier Duets with Este Haim at Coachella


It was no surprise that Irish singer/songwriter Hozier played his Grammy-nominated single “Take Me to Church” during his phenomenal set at Coachella on Saturday.

But he did have one big surprise up his sleeve. After he got the massive crowd in front of the festival’s main stage to sing “Happy Birthday” to bassist Alex Ryan, Hozier then called out Haim bassist Este Haim to join him for a spirited rendition of “Jungle Love” from the Time.

Haim – the woman, not her sisterly band – not only pitched in on vocals, but she also gamely executed the signature dance Time frontman Morris Day made famous in the movie Purple Rain.

But Hozier’s evening was also filled with gems from his own catalog. Yes, there was a rousing rendition of the aforementioned “Take Me to Church” that had nearly everybody in the audience singing along, but he also showed his R&B, soul and rock roots with an eclectic mix of songs.

Backed by a five-piece band and two backup singers, Hozier treated fans to a little R&B early on, kicking off his show with “Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene” and “Jackie and Wilson.”

Hozier adopted a bluegrass vibe with “Like Real People Do,” pulling out a resonator and performing the first part of the song solo before he was joined by his fellow musicians.

He even got the sun-baked audience to noodle in the grassy grounds of the Empire Polo Club with an extra-danceable version of “Someone New,” giving the hit a refreshing breath of life in a live environment.

When it was time for “Take Me to Church,” tons of fans had their smartphones primed to film what is always a spiritual moment. The song reached the heavens during the chorus, which had the help of not only Hozier’s backup vocalists, but also the thousands of people adding to the beautiful song.

It was truly a moment to appreciate.

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