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Another Reflection On CRS 2012


Faith Hill performing during CRS 2012

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Well, I finally have a quiet moment to reflect on CRS 2012.  Matt’s already shared his perspective and I thought I would take a few minutes to share mine.

WOW.  That’s the best adjective that I can think of to describe this amazing 4-day long country music event known as CRS (Country Radio Seminar).  Matt and I were fortunate enough to be allowed to cover all of the events of CRS as media for the very first time this year for Focus on the 615.

This was simply an amazing experience for anyone who loves music as much as I do! THIS is quite simply why I do what I do so I can be there, hearing firsthand, connecting, and then sharing with you this love for music.  My love for music has gotten me through some of the worst times in my life and some of the best times.  Especially country music with it’s incredible lyrics and songs filled with emotion.  I feel so fortunate to be able to attend an incredible event such as CRS.  I’m one of the lucky ones allowed to hear some of the most amazing music that is out there today up close and to be able to come in contact with many of the people who are making this great music.  It was almost too much packed into 4 days to be able to absorb and much sleep was lost that week in order to take it all in, but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat and hope we are given the opportunity to attend this extraordinary musical event next year.


Hunter Hayes performing during New Faces show at CRS 2012

High points of the week were being able to attend the Country Radio Hall of Fame ceremony and dinner, Sony Music afterparty, and Black River Entertainment afterparty where long time friends Due West performed along with new friends, Sarah Darling and Glen Templeton.  Then, there was the Lady Antebellum concert with Darius Rucker and Thompson Square opening followed by Warner Music’s Attack of the 80s afterparty where favorites like Jana Kramer, THE FARM, Jason Jones, Frankie Ballard, Gloriana, The Dirt Drifters, and Big & Rich performed one original song then one 80s song.  That was one of my very favorite moments during CRS and a great way to end the night with all of the amazing people at Warner Music! Then, an incredible lunch brought to us again by Warner Music where I was front row being entertained by a full scale concert by none other than Faith Hill, who if anyone has doubts, has STILL got it and I eagerly anticipate the release of her new album! What an incredible performance and I’m fairly certain that will be the best lunch that I ever experience during my lifetime.  Lofty words, but THAT will be hard to top! There were elegant cocktail parties and a fun meet & greet mixer with large spreads of food and just about everyone who is anyone in country music in attendance just to talk to and take pictures with.  Then, the last night, another nice cocktail party where The Lost Trailers started off the evening with a short performance that ended with a gospel choir on stage singing this incredibly touching song “Underdog” that left me in tears.  It was quite difficult for me to keep my camera in focus and take the pictures I was trying to get as I tried to see through my tears because I was so moved by their performance.  Not only that, but they share a very touching story.  It was all very moving! Check them out if you haven’t heard of them! Lastly, there was the New Faces show concluding the event that featured full band performances on the same incredible stage that had been set-up earlier that day for Faith Hill.  Performers included: Eli Young Band, Hunter Hayes, Sunny Sweeney, and David Nail who each gave incredible, crowd-stirring performance that were appreciated by all in attendance at this elegant dinner.  Thompson Square was set to perform, but due to the loss of a loved one the evening prior, had to cancel unfortunately and completely understandable.  At least, we got to see them a couple of days before with Lady Antebellum.

We even thoroughly enjoyed all of the hours spent in the media room every day as we had the opportunity to sit down with many favorite artists to talk about their music like Gloriana, THE FARM, Jana Kramer, Frankie Ballard, Amber Hayes, Due West, Marlee Scott, Glen Templeton, Billy Dean and many more…we had so many great interviews in those jam-packed 4 days! Please look for those interviews throughout the site as there were so many, we are continuously uploading more video interviews and not nearly done!

I created Focus on the 615 this past August because I want to help promote great music and the artists who make it that I believe in. All of which is coming straight out of Nashville, TN! Being allowed to attend such a special event as CRS only solidifies for me my reasons why I created this music blog and why I want to continue to support the music & artists for many years to come.  If I want there to continue to be great music made, I feel like I have to do my part a little bit, too, and help promote.  As great as the internet is in reaching masses, it’s had such a devastating impact on the music community as a whole because of illegal downloading and sharing.  Countless labels have had to close their doors already, record deals have been lost due to labels simply not having the funds like they used to in order to fully develop and promote talented artists…in short, illegal music downloading has had a far reaching impact on the music industry.  So please, if you love music as much as we do on Focus on the 615, pay for your music downloads from places like iTunes or buy the physical cds from the stores.  Great music isn’t created for free and we can’t continue to get great music unless we support it.  A few dollars for a cd or $1.25 per song on iTunes is a very, very small amount to pay for something that will bring enjoyment for many years to come!

Thanks to the staff at Aristo PR for putting together such a spectacular event!

I would like to leave you with this great video from new Curb recording artist, Rachel Holder! When I saw this video aired just prior to the New Faces show, I absolutely loved it and it continues to stick out in my mind! Enjoy!

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Focus on the 615 at CRS 2012

And that’s a wrap. Averaging four hours of sleep per night, around noon on Friday we finished up our last of 23 interviews for CRS week. Aside from all of these (stay tuned to watch them all here), the week consisted of exclusive performances, incredible after parties and an overload of fun.

CRS again is the Country Radio Seminar, a weeklong event at the Nashville Convention Center “created to provide a platform and structure for education and growth for the Country Music format, serving as the conduit connecting the interests of Country Radio with the Country Music Industry” (crs.org). Our job was to cover it as part of the media… therefore we hung out in the media room and interviewed artists instead of going to the educational seminars. Not a bad gig.


Day 1 was Tuesday, a day that proved just a warm up for the week ahead. We started at Warner Music where we caught up with The Dirt Drifters, HER & Kings County and Ty Stone. HKC are some of the most energetic people we had the good fortune of meeting.

“Y’all kicked our hangover to the curb like a Bloody Mary.”
– HER & Kings County

You’re welcome guys.

Then it was up to the Bridge Bar (a cool lounge area located on the walkway over Commerce Street) to meet up with The Roys, DJ Miller and Mark Cooke. Six interviews ain’t bad for a days work, and then we were invited to attend the Country Radio Hall of Fame induction ceremony, followed by the Sony-hosted after party featuring Brent Anderson, Wade Bowen and Jerrod Niemann. They all brought the house down, especially Niemann’s finale, a cover of the classic Pride and Joy.


Now we come to the day where we almost had TOO MUCH fun. No kidding, it was almost hard to process it all.  The day started early with an interview with The Farm, a great group of people, then Gloriana, who I’ve had my eye on since their first single Wild At Heart three years ago. Then finally, I got to meet Jana Kramer who is in fact the sweetest person in the entire world.Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan

Then came lunch at The Ryman, one of the best musical venues in the country, for a performance by nearly the entire Universal Music Group roster. I won’t mention them all, but it started off with none other than King George Strait. Let me tell you, there is not a lot that can trump watching Troubadour live in The Ryman Auditorium as the sun shines through the stained glass windows. But if there was one thing that could, it was the way they closed the show: with Lionel Richie. And he immediately brought out one of his biggest fans to perform with him: Luke Bryan. They played Easy (Like Sunday Morning) one of my favorite songs of all time, and after a well-deserved standing ovation, we were back to the media room. So yeah, that was lunch.

After this, we caught up with Marlee Scott, Frankie Ballard and Jason Mitchell. Soon thereafter we found ourselves at a meet-and-greet with most of the aforementioned artists in attendance, along with Josh Turner, Scotty McCreary, Lauren Alaina, Luke Bryan, Craig Morgan, and others. No interviews with those folks unfortunately, but all very nice people.

But we weren’t done yet: after that was the sold out Lady Antebellum concert at Municipal Auditorium. Thompson Square opened the show in incredible fashion before Darius Rucker took the stage, singing a couple Hootie & the Blowfish classics as well as a Nashville favorite Family Tradition. Then it was Lady A’s turn, and they put on one impressive show. They played all the hits, and even featured surprise cameos from Luke Bryan (performing Do I, co-written by Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood) and Sara Evans (who performed Stronger, co-written by Hillary Scott). After the show we were exhausted… oh, but not done yet.Faith Hill

The after party was a Warner Music gathering with an 80’s theme. Artists played one of their own songs followed by an 80’s classic. On the roster were (among others) HER & Kings County, Ty Stone, Jana Kramer, THE FARM, Jason Jones, The Dirt Drifters, Frankie Ballard, Hunter Hayes, and Big & Rich who performed a rousing rendition of Madonna’s Like A Virgin.

Cue exhaustion.


After Wednesday, Thursday became a blur of sleep deprivation masked with too much caffeine. Of the interviews I remember, we had Glen Templeton, Due West, Amber Hayes, Jessie James, Deborah Allen, Adam Gregory, Maggie Sajak and Bucky Covington (forgive me if I forgot anyone). By the time Bucky finished out the day our batteries were drained figuratively AND literally (Bucky’s interview ran slightly short due to the death of the camera battery).

Lunch featured an acoustic set by Alan Jackson, and shortly thereafter we had a few hours where I was able to go home and nap before the Black River Entertainment showcase featuring Glen Templeton, Sarah Darling and Due West.


An easy day today! Only two interviews with icon Billy Dean and the lovely The McClymonts, and then on to lunch with Faith Hill! She debuted two new songs during her performance, and sounded as good as ever.

After a little break, we were back for the New Faces of Country Music show. The pre-show and happy hour featured a performance by The Lost Trailers, before we adjourned into the performance hall to see Hunter Hayes, Eli Young Band, Sunny Sweeney and David Nail. Thompson Square was also set to perform, but had to cancel due to an unfortunate death in Shawna’s family. The performances were amazing, and the after party was equally as amazing with everyone cutting loose after a long week.Hunter Hayes

We have pictures of all this excitement on our Facebook page, and will be sure to post these interviews online as soon as possible, so be sure to check back often! We would also like to thank each artist for their time, their management for their patience, and everyone who was involved with CRS for their hard work and dedication to an extraordinary week. Thank you!



Below is a recap of our CRS interviews:

The Dirt Drifters

HER & Kings County

Ty Stone

The Roys

DJ Miller

Mark Cooke

The Farm


Jana Kramer

Marlee Scott

Frankie Ballard

Jason Mitchell

Glen Templeton

Due West

Amber Hayes

Jessie James

Deborah Allen

Adam Gregory

Maggie Sajak

Bucky Covington

Billy Dean

The McClymonts

CRS 2012


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Album Review: Hunter Hayes Releasing Debut Self-Titled Album October 11th

HunterI had the pleasure of meeting 20-year-old Hunter Hayes and discussing his music back in June of this year.  What struck me the most about Hunter is how humble and grounded he is.  I foresee and hope for nothing but great things ahead for him.  Hunter is a true musical prodigy on the verge of stardom! He was already a skilled musician at the age of only 4 when he made his appearance on stage with Hank Williams Jr. in front of a large audience playing an accordion and singing “Jambalaya“.   So, I guess it’s no real surprise that Hunter produced and played every instrument on his debut album.  Just extremely impressive! How many people can say all of that? Makes everybody else look like they need to go find a href=’http://www.weldingtraining.org’>day job in welding training.

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Hunter Hayes Joins Nashville Mayor Karl Dean For ‘Music Makes Us’ Program Unveil At The Ryman

HunterNASHVILLE, TN – (September 16, 2011) – Multi-talented musician, writer, producer and performer Hunter Hayes joins Nashville Mayor Karl Dean at the historic Ryman Auditorium today as part of the Music Makes Us initiative to make music education in Nashville a world-class program. Hunter spoke at the press conference on his personal experience with music education and how the initiative would have benefited him when he was in school. Music Makes Us: The Nashville Music Education Project would overhaul Nashville Public School systems’ current music program with an updated contemporary curriculum.

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