Sept 14th - Gary Allan
Brought to you by A & B Luck Plumbing and Heating and The Great Frederick Fair
With the allure of a modern day outlaw, Gary Allan has won over fans, peers, and critics with his signature blend of smoldering vocals, rebellious lyrics, and raucous live performances. While becoming a force on the country music scene, Allan has remained true to his artistic voice each step of the way. Allan re-signed with Universal Music Group Nashville in 2016, the label home for the entirety of his twenty plus year career. He is currently finishing up work on his upcoming EMI Nashville release. His last album, SET YOU FREE, topped the Billboard 200 (Pop Chart), a career first for Allan. The album also made its debut at the top of the Billboard Country Album chart (for the fourth time in a row), and produced his fifth #1 country radio chart-topper with “Every Storm Runs Out Of Rain.” The California native released his first album, Used Heart for Sale, in 1996 and since then has released eight additional studio albums selling over 8 million albums, 10 million tracks, been certified platinum on three back-to-back albums and been certified gold five times. Allan has five #1 hits at country radio, fourteen Top 10 hits to his credit and amassed over 1.5 billion total streams. He’s described as “dark and dreamy” in Entertainment Weekly, “soulful and rough around the edges” in Playboy and deemed a “maverick” by Rolling Stone. He sells out venues as a headliner from NY to LA, appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Live with Kelly and Michael and Jimmy Kimmel Live. He has also landed on the covers of Country Weekly, Pollstar and People magazine.
Sept 15th - John Kay & Steppenwolf
Brought to you by The Bud Light Concert Series
CELEBRATE THEIR 50TH ANNIVERSARY“The central theme of Feed The Fire,” says John Kay, “is, ‘don’t let the bastards get youdown!'” Lyrically, songs such as “Rock & Roll Rebels” and “Hold On” focus on theresiliency of the human spirit in spite of life’s many setbacks.The title song speaks to the needs of the inner flame that burns in all of us and drives usin our quest for fulfillment. Other tracks, such as “Man On A Mission”, “Rock Steady”and “Rage”, are songs of defiance and passion, while “Bad Attitude” and “Give Me NewsI Can Use”, rely on tongue-in-cheek and at times sardonic humor to make their point.In Kay’s words:“This album is about and for all the rock and roll rebels, be they 14 or 54, who refuse to throw in the towel and who struggle to keep their dreams alive in the faceof ever diminishing freedom.”With “Feed The Fire,” their most potent album in years, Kay and company have writtenthe newest chapter of the Steppenwolf legend.Kay has certainly lived the life of a rock and roll rebel himself. After a perilous midnightescape from post-war East Germany as a child, he grew up with a steady diet of ArmedForces Radio and became inspired by the likes of Little Richard and Chuck Berry. At age13, John decided to make rock and roll his life.“Considering I was only 13, legally blind, spoke the wrong language and was on thewrong side of the ocean, maybe I was a little optimistic,” he says.In spite of these considerable adversities, by his 14th birthday, John miraculously foundhimself with guitar in hand on the other side of that ocean in Toronto, Canada. Johnlearned English from the speed rapping disc jockeys and music from the artists of theday, and he began to perform on amateur radio shows in his mid-teens.After high school, John roamed the American continent performing acoustic blues incoffee houses and bars. He soon met and joined the Canadian band “The Sparrow” whileplaying in Toronto’s Yorkville Village in 1965. The group, migrating from Toronto toNew York and later to San Francisco, became part of the Bay Area music scene.The Sparrow broke up in 1967, after several unsuccessful attempts at recording forColumbia Records. A couple of months later, John formed Steppenwolf in Los Angeles.Powered by his gritty vocals, the band’s blues-based rock burst upon an unsuspectingpublic in the summer of 1968, creating timeless classics as“Born To Be Wild”“Magic Carpet Ride”“The Pusher”“Rock Me.”Following Kay’s decision to break up the band in the mid 70’s, he embarked on a solocareer that saw the release of albums such as:“Forgotten Songs and Unsung Heroes”“My Sportin’ Life”“All In Good Time”In the late 70’s John learned that several bogus groups, using the name Steppenwolf,were touring and trashing the very reputation of the band that Kay had created. In 1980he decided to act and the John Kay Band quickly became John Kay and Steppenwolf.Several years of intensive touring followed and resulted in the rebuilding of the name.Since the early 80’s, the group has featured the considerable talents of John’s co-producing and writing partner, Michael Wilk (keyboards/bass/vocals) and longtime drummer/vocalist Ron Hurst. Recently, they were joined by newest member, leadguitarist/vocalist, Danny Johnson.Since re-establishing the name, John Kay and Steppenwolf have released five albums andhave toured annually on a worldwide basis.In 1994, Kay returned triumphantly with the Wolf to play concerts in the former EastGermany, where he was reunited with friends and relatives he had not seen since he was4 years-old.With sales in excess of 20 million units worldwide (and increasing annually) and songslicensed for use in 37 motion pictures and 36 television programs (as of this writing), thegroup continues to focus on the future. Recent projects and activities include:
“Looking back, it has always been my inner fire that has pushed me to overcome life’sobstacles and allowed me to realize my dreams,” says Kay.For in-depth information on the life and times of John Kay & Steppenwolf, read JohnKay’s autobiography “Magic Carpet Ride” as written by John Kay and John Einarson.
- May 1994 saw the first annual Wolf Fest which draws the Wolfpack Fan Club from all parts of North
- America and Europe to celebrate a weekend of special events and activities with their favorite band.
- John Kay’s autobiography entitled, “Magic Carpet Ride” released in 1994.
- John Kay and Steppenwolf, Live at 25 (The Silver Anniversary Tour Recordings), a double CD
- Released February 1995. The album contains 23 tracks including many of the hits from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s along with two new songs.
- John Kay was inducted into the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) Hall of Fame, in March, 1996.
- The Summer of 1996 saw the launch of the group’s World Wide Web site, www.steppenwolf.com, which has become “Wolf Central” for the groups’ international fan base.
- “Feed The Fire”, the first single and video (from the album of the same name), was released in August, 1996 and continues to be supported through special promotions, and John Kay & Steppenwolf’s 1997 concert tour.
Sept 16th - Brett Young with Riley Green
Brought to you by DARCAR Toyota of Frederick
With piercing blue eyes and standing tall at 6’ 6,” it’s impossible to miss Brett Young. The former college pitcher and current CMA New Artist of the Year nominee uses his competitive edge to create music that critics, radio, and fans cannot stop raving about. “A solid winner” (Music Row), Brett has spent many late nights in the recording studio strumming chords and perfecting lyrics that encompass his “Caliville” sound – the world between Brett’s SoCal roots and Music City coming-of-age. This can be heard on his GOLD-certified self-titled album (BMLG Records) now available everywhere. Produced by Dann Huff, Brett is credited on 11 of the 12 tracks establishing himself as an accomplished songwriter.
“I think my background has a lot to do with my work ethic,” expresses Brett. “There is a discipline that you learn growing up playing sports, which I did through college. It is always my goal to work harder than the next guy.”
Brett’s soulful vocals and heartfelt lyrics are derived from a myriad of personal experience. One pass through the California native’s self-titled debut album, you are completely immersed in his love, passion, hope, and honesty.
“Everyone leaves a trail of ‘almosts’ and bittersweet memories behind on the road to ‘the one’,” says Brett. “It has happened to me on my journey—it happens to everyone – but I’m learning to use those moments now when I write music. I’m a hopeless romantic who feels everything, and that shows in my songs.”
Brett makes love look like an art form with hits including his debut No. 1 PLATINUM-certified single “Sleep Without You” and the chart-topping 2X PLATINUM-certified follow up “In Case You Didn’t Know.” With over 120 million views, the video for “In Case You Didn’t Know” hit the top spot on Vevo’s Country Chart for six consecutive weeks and is currently the only Country song on Vevo’s list of Top 10 Videos of 2017. Previously nominated for a Teen Choice Award for Choice Country Song, “In Case You Didn’t Know” has also been up for Breakthrough Video of the Year at the 2017 CMT Music Awards. Additionally, Brett garnered an ACM New Male Vocalist of the Year nomination and two Association of Independent Music Publisher (AIMP) Awards nods: Writer of the Year and Song of the Year for “Sleep Without You.”
“I grew up with Marvin Gaye, Kenny Rogers, Tim McGraw— emotionally expressive singers. I like that the emotion carries the songs, where the music is almost secondary,” he explains. “Tim McGraw’s ‘Don’t Take The Girl’ – that for me was the first time I heard a country song and said this is what I wanna do. That influenced me; as a songwriter and a performer, I want to connect like that. When your audience really feels what you’re singing, it becomes about much more than the show. You have a connection…you truly have a fan and a shared special moment.”
Having previously toured with Superstars Luke Bryan, Brad Paisley, and Thomas Rhett, the California native is currently on the road with Lady Antebellum’s YOU LOOK GOOD WORLD TOUR 2017 before kicking off his headline CALIVILLE TOUR this fall. For the latest updates, follow Brett on Instagram or visit BrettYoungMusic.com.
If Riley Green isn’t strumming a six-string and singing, chances are you’ll find him dropping a line in the Ohatchee River, deep sea fishing in Orange Beach, AL, turkey hunting at his primitive camp in Arkansas, or deer hunting at his ‘Back 40 Bash’ property. For this 6’4, blue-eyed, country crooner from Jacksonville, AL it’s not just a “Country State of Mind” – it’s a lifestyle.
Riley has achieved an incredible amount of success for someone doing it all on their own. Though you wouldn’t know it by talking to him, Green is as humble as they come for someone who has released three popular EP’s, stars in two TV shows (Winner of Redneck Island on CMT and his very own hunting show on DirtRoadTV), thousands of social media fans/followers, and has played across the southeast for the last 5 years to hordes of music lovers singing the words of his Alabama anthem (“Bury Me In Dixie”) back to him. People don’t even realize Riley’s an accomplished musician when meeting him. He’s not inclined to brag or talk about himself.
Riley was born into songwriting and performing; spending days and nights with his grandfather, Bufford Green. “My PawPaw opened a music hall in 2003, where he’d always say music goes from ‘The Bar Room to The Pulpit and Back’ each Friday Night. My Granddaddy Buford taught me a love for the sound of old traditional country, bluegrass, and southern gospel music,” explains Riley. The youngster performed at the Golden Saw Music Hall, singing songs like “Wreck on the Highway” and “Precious Jewel” by Roy Acuff with his grandfather and other men of his generation. “My Best Friend” was written as a tribute to his Granddaddy Bufford and the influence he had on Riley’s life & music. “Line in the Water” was inspired by fishing trips with his other grandfather, Granddaddy Lendon, who left a mark on the southern boy by showing him how to truly relax and enjoy the southern lifestyle.
Outside of music, Riley always found time for athletics. Riley, a three-sport athlete in high school and a walk-on quarterback at Jacksonville State University understands the importance that comes from playing sports and being part of a team.
Many of Riley’s next generation of songs reflect on the experiences of a young southern man trying to find his place in the world. With a mixture of outlaw-rebellion and respect for tradition, Riley combined these values to create his own style. “’A Little Hank’ and ‘Almost’ reflect the battle of values and what my grandfather referred to as ‘the fine line between Saturday night and Sunday morning,’” he explains. Green’s latest EP titled “County Line” which was released earlier this year and reached #14 on the iTunes Country Chart. He has also been recognized by BuzzFeed and Whiskey Riff as an up-and-comer to keep an eye on.
At the end of the day, Riley Green is still that Alabama boy grounded in the values instilled by generations of southern gentlemen. The outdoorsman (who is more than likely to address you by Sir or Mam) remains true to himself whether he’s headlining his annual homecoming show (Back 40 Bash) in front of thousands of fans or tending his deer plots as his golden Labrador (Sadie) follows close behind. This is only the beginning for the next country music star from Dixie! For more information on Riley Green visit www.rileygreenmusic.com
Sept 17th - Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League Truck & Tractor Pull
Brought to you by Krietz Auto
Sept 18th - R&R Productions Demolition Derby (CARS)
Brought to you by Mark’s Equipment Service & McHenry Small Engine
Sept 19th - R&R Productions Demolition Derby- Trucks/Vans/Figure 8
Brought to you by Mark’s Equipment services & Middletown Valley Heating and Air Conditioning
Sept 20th - Scotty McCreery
Brought to you by Southside Tire & Auto and The Great Frederick Fair
“I’ve lived a lot of life since my last record,” says Scotty McCreery. “I moved out on my own, I traveled across the country and the world, I got engaged, I was dropped by my label, I was even robbed at gunpoint. So I really wanted this album to show who Scotty is at 24, what’s going on in my life, and I think we accomplished that.”
With his third album (plus a chart-topping Christmas record), the young star takes a huge creative step forward. He co-wrote all 11 songs on Seasons Change, working with some of the finest songwriters in Nashville to express a wide range of emotions and musical styles. And after a lengthy legal struggle that kept him on the sidelines for several years, McCreery placed a bold bet with his career that has paid off with a new label and a reinvigorated attitude.
“At first, it actually started pretty simple,” he says. “We were just looking for the best songs. But then as my life got more complicated, I knew I wanted to make a record that was a lot more personal, and I felt that writing more myself would help capture that.”
After winning Season Ten of American Idol in 2011, McCreery made history when he became the youngest male artist of any genre, and the first country music artist ever, to have his debut album enter at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. Clear as Day was certified Platinum for sales of one million units in just 13 weeks and became the best-selling solo album released by a country artist in 2011. The singles “I Love You This Big” and “The Trouble with Girls” were also certified Platinum. He won the New Artist of the Year award at both the Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards and the American Country Awards, and also received the CMT Award for Breakthrough Video of the Year for “The Trouble with Girls.”
A year later, Christmas with Scotty McCreery debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Holiday Albums chart and was quickly certified Gold. His next album, 2013’s See You Tonight, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart, and “See You Tonight” and “Feelin’ It” both reached the Top 10 and were certified Platinum and Gold respectively. “See You Tonight” earned McCreery both his first BMI Award for writing one of the Top 50 Country Songs of 2015, and his first Music Row No. 1 Challenge Coin for landing atop the Music Row Country Breakout Chart.
While he had been working on his songwriting craft throughout his rapid rise, McCreery felt that he really needed to buckle down and study if he was going to tell the stories he really wanted to tell on Seasons Change. “I wanted to write with everybody,” he says. “I was just trying to be a sponge and soak up all I could. It really set me up to where I could write every song on the record, and not feel like I was compromising the quality of what I was singing.”
Key to his growth was producer Frank Rogers (Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker), who co-wrote six of the album’s songs and helped steer the ship. “Frank worked on my last record, but this time he really took me under his wing,” says McCreery. “I lean a little more to the traditional side, but he does a great job of getting new sounds and traditional sounds and meshing them together.” He also brought in Aaron Eshuis and Derek Wells as co- producers on the album. “Derek had played on my last album and he’s one of the most in-demand session players in town. I knew he had the musical ear and strong musical point of view that would enrich this project. And with Aaron — every time we sat down, we wrote a great song. Having Frank, Derek and Aaron was a great combination.”
The first song he worked on after his lengthy fight with his old label was resolved was “Seasons Change,” writing with James McNair and Tommy Cecil. “That was my first time diving back into music after dealing with lawyers for a year, and I felt rejuvenated,” he says. “I decided that very day that it was going to be on the
Another thrill came when North Carolina resident McCreery got to write the beach-music-inspired “Barefootin’” with David Lee Murphy. “He’s had such huge hits, has such a way with words, and ‘Dust on the Bottle’ is one of my all-time favorite songs,” says McCreery. “I never expected to write with him, and then we sat down and wrote one of my favorite songs—that was a great day.”
The greatest breakthrough, however, may have come in February 2015, when he wrote “Five More Minutes” with Rogers and Monty Criswell. “I knew it was a special song,” he says. “I tweeted that day that we just wrote my favorite song I’d ever written.” As the search for a new label continued, McCreery and his team made a brave decision, and released the song on their own, with no record company behind it.
“Most sane people would have said to wait,” he says, “but my management and I really believed in it—and at the core of country music, it still comes down to the song. And we were willing to bet on that. We knew it might take a while, but we felt like we could do it and build something one step at a time.”
It didn’t take a while. On its first day of release, “Five More Minutes” was ranked No. 2 on the iTunes country singles chart and No. 9 on the iTunes all-genre singles chart.
The emotional music video, with home movies of McCreery as a boy alongside his family and friends, was the No.1 country music video and the No. 2 music video overall on iTunes. It stayed at No. 1 on the GAC Top 20 Countdown for six weeks. His powerful performance of “Five More Minutes” on the Grand Ole Opry stage during CMA Music Festival won the 2016 Rare Country Award for “Grand Ole Opry Moment of the Year.”
“Sometimes you feel like you’ve really got to sell something,” says McCreery, “but this one, from the first time people heard it, everybody started telling me their own stories, and I enjoyed that more than anything else. It would have put us in a predicament if it hadn’t succeeded—looking back, yeah, it was a crazy thing to do, but we just went full steam ahead.” The final piece fell into place when, just as “Five More Minutes” hit the Top 40 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart, McCreery signed with Triple Tigers Records/Sony Music Entertainment.
“Triple Tigers is a great fit for me,” said McCreery. “They are music people and they work hard. With this label on my side, ‘Five More Minutes’ has become my fastest rising single to reach Top 15 since my debut single. And we’ve only just begun.”
Of course, there’s one other big story that underlies Seasons Change. In September 2017, the guy who was voted both “Country Music’s Hottest Bachelor” and “Country Music’s Sexiest Man” by the readers of NASH Country Weekly Magazine proposed to longtime girlfriend Gabi Dugal in the mountains of North Carolina.
“She’s a huge part of this record, the inspiration for all the love songs,” he says. “We met in kindergarten–her kindergarten diary has ‘Mrs. McCreery’ written in it with hearts around it. We started dating senior year of high school, and became best friends in the last few years.”
The song “This Is It” even spells out a play-by-play blueprint for popping the question.
“I had the ring in the closet for months and had the day all planned out,” he says. “And it all went great, just like the song lays it out—it would have been awkward if she had said no!”
Now, with a wedding on the way, a hit on the charts, and a new lease on his musical life, everything looks great in McCreery’s world. Things get sunnier. Seasons change.
Sept 21st - Darci Lynne and Friends LIVE
Brought to you Playground Specialists
Ventriloquist, Darci Lynne is the youngest contestant to ever win “America’s Got Talent.” Following AGT she sold out her headlining show in six minutes, having to add more shows. She is a young ventriloquist who is inspiring the next generation to keep it alive. Darci is someone to watch for as her career is just getting started. But in her mind, positively affecting one person through her performances is all she desires.
Growing up in Oklahoma, Darci has always been close to her family and relies on their support and encouragement. In her younger years, she had a timid demeanor that she was able to overcome through talent-based pageants. She was soon introduced to the art of ventriloquism and decided to try it out for herself. Darci had hard work, grit, and discipline already instilled in her, since she came from a gymnastics background where she practiced 30 hours a week. After only having her first puppet for two weeks, Darci was determined to audition for her first talent show never knowing it would lead her to audition for the biggest talent show on earth.
Now being on stage makes her feel like she is an entirely new person. This is where she opens up and flourishes. Darci dazzles the audience, leaving them with smiles on their faces. Performing has helped Darci learn about herself and who she can be. She is so grateful to her mentor Gary Owen and her vocal coach Tiana Plemons for all they have done for her. During her “America’s Got Talent” audition she received the golden buzzer sending her straight to the Quarterfinals. Her winning final performance has over 21M views on AGT’s YouTube, more than any other finals performance on the show. Darci will be touring into next year and hopes to continue to uplift people as they watch her.
Sept 22nd - Matthew West & Jordan Feliz
Brought to you by South Side Tire & Auto and Eddie Mercer Agri-Services.
A four-time GRAMMY® nominee, American Music Award winner, GMA Dove Award winner, K-LOVE Fan Award winner and Billboard’s 2016 pick for Hot Christian Songwriter of the Year, everybody knows that MATTHEW WEST has gone all in in his music career, but with his eighth studio album set to release, he’s ready for his fans to know that he wants to go all in in every area of his life.
The album, aptly titled All In, released September 22, 2017 with Sparrow Records and is largely an answer to a question West has been asking himself lately: “What does it look like to be all in, like never before in my life?”
As someone who lives his faith in the public eye—West says he knows how easy it can be to coast, to pretend his spiritual life is in a better place than it actually is.
“That’s a dangerous place to be,” he says. “That’s what the Bible talks about. Being lukewarm. So I’ve had this idea that I want to be all in like never before. I want to be all in on this record, I want to be all in with the songs that I write, I want to be all in with my time with the Lord, I want to be all in with my wife, I want to be all in with my relationship with my daughters.”
Because he was writing from a place of such personal conviction, longtime West fans are going to be able to hear something a little different on this album: the most vulnerable music of his career.
Since 2009, the singer/songwriter has been collecting stories from people all over the world. By now, he has well over 40,000 of them. And for the past several albums, he has taken their stories of heartache and hope and turned them into songs. All In includes songs like these, dedicated to others’ stories, but this album will give listeners a glimpse into West’s personal stories as well.
While writing early this year in a cabin in Tennessee, West says he was surprised by how personal his writing was: “I scared myself a bit. I guess it was just time. Time to take some inventory of my own story, where I’ve been, where I am now, and where I’m going.”
All In is an album that encourages and inspires from the first track to the last. Each song connects with listeners by challenging them to go all in with different areas of life. West’s story might as well be our story too; for that fear of regret, of not living life to the fullest, is in all of us.
This is exactly what the title track speaks to. The lyrics of the pop anthem “All In,” set the tone for the 13 tracks that follow. The song honestly admits in the first verse, Turns out safe is just another word for regret.
To combat regret, we must do what the chorus says, which is the heart cry of the album: I’m going all in / Headfirst into the deep end / I hear you calling / And this time the fear won’t win.
Through the writing of All In, West recalled memorable moments from his faith journey, moments that were turning points in which he had to decide if he would be all in or all out. One of those happened years ago at the Assembly Hall Arena (now the State Farm Center) in Champaign, Ill., during a Steven Curtis Chapman concert.
The song inspired by this moment, “The Sound of a Life Changing,” tells the story: Just a poor college boy making noise, writing my first songs / Steven Curtis up on stage singing “Speechless” / Left me speechless and amazed / Tears rolling down my face / I heard a still small voice say, “That’s gonna be you someday / Telling the world about amazing grace / Telling the world about a God that saves.”
“I called Steven to join me at the cabin to write the song with me,” says West. “How’s that for a full circle moment?”
Another big name in the faith inspired what West says might be the most personal song on the album, “The Beautiful Things We Miss.” During a conversation with Rev. Billy Graham, West asked the renowned evangelist if he had any regrets.
“He told me his biggest regret is that he spent so much time traveling away from his family,” recalls West.
The more contemplative ballad reflects on how easy it is to become focused on the things in life that won’t matter in the end. Quoting the chorus, West, who has been married for over 14 years and has two daughters, says, “I don’t want to look back someday and find everything that really mattered was right in front of me this whole time.”
In this vein, the album includes songs written for and about his wife and daughters. LuLu, his oldest daughter, even jumped in to sing on “Becoming Me,” a touching tribute to West’s mom, wife and daughters.
“I can remember overhearing my mom praying for me when I was a child,” says West, who wrote the song from the perspective of his daughters’ admiration of their mom. “The mother in the song has gone all in with her love of God and family.”
West also wrote a song specifically for his wife, Emily. “Jesus & You” expresses gratitude for the anchors in West’s life. As the chorus of the soulful melody says, When I think about the only things in life that pull me through / I hit my knees for Jesus and you.
“This song is about being all in with my marriage,” West explains, “communicating how I feel about her, rather than assuming she already knows.”
All In is not all personal. West still found inspiration from others’ stories to write songs like “Power Love Sound Mind,” which he wrote after reading about a soldier who was struggling with post traumatic stress disorder; and “Dream,” taken from stories about people who needed to dream again after going through a major struggle.
West is still, and probably always will be, collecting stories through popwe.org, a web home to a nonprofit he started with his dad, Pastor Joe West. The mission of popwe is to encourage people to craft, share, and live a more meaningful life. West even formed a new company, Story House Collective, built to encourage and support the next generation of storytellers who work in the music industry.
One of these next-generation storytellers will be joining West on his All In Tour this fall. Up-and-comer Leanna Crawford will open for West as they hit 38 cities across the U.S.
“I absolutely love writing songs, and I love watching those songs come to life in the recording studio,” West says. “But it’s getting on the bus, hopping on stage in city after city and carrying that music to a live audience night after night that completes the creative circle.”
It’s no wonder that the artist who is giving it his all in every area of his life—faith, family, songwriting—wouldn’t also be doing that for his fans who come to see him on tour, where he will be all in, doing what God called him to all those years ago: telling the world about amazing grace, telling the world about a God who saves.
Some years from now, the name Jordan Feliz might be the obvious answer to a trivia question that goes something like this:
What artist launched his career as a hard-touring heavy metal singer, then switched gears to become a church worship leader, before finally signing a Nashville record deal and emerging as a preeminent soulful-r&b-groove-pop artist in CCM?
Well, if the question comes up someday, you’ll already know the answer: Jordan Feliz.
Fronting the West Coast buzz band A Current Affair gave Jordan’s powerful vocals some major exposure right out of high school. The band performed on the Warped Tour and other high profile gigs before dissolving. But heavy metal was never Jordan’s passion; it was just a fun experience with his friends and a way to stretch musically. As a child, Jordan had grown up with R&B artists like Sam Cooke and Earth Wind & Fire providing the soundtrack to frequent family road trips. Artists from what his father called “the good music era.” Those
were the sounds and stylings that stuck in Jordan’s musical memory and by the time he was old enough to realize that his own singing voice was a gift, it was those early groove-funk-soul singers that had shaped his personal aesthetic. If he was going to make records, those were the kind of influences he wanted to draw from. Which brings us back to that Nashville record deal he signed with Centricity Music.
Jordan Feliz’s first full-length solo project, The River, reinterprets the rich influence of 70’s sensibilities in a modern pop context. Intentionally constructing uncluttered tracks free of production tricks and excessive instrumentation, Jordan instead focused on arrangements that were designed to give his fine-grit-sandpaperysmooth vocals center stage. The eleven songs on The River are soul-influenced pop numbers, but the instruments present are precise and articulate in their voicings and melodies, saying only as much as they need to and no more.
“I was the kid growing up with the headphones on listening to every lick and reading the lyrics,” Jordan says. “My dad had a collection of cassettes. My mom had some vinyl. I discovered artists like the Commodores, Bill Withers, and Nat King Cole through them. When I was in the studio making The River, I told my producers I didn’t want thirty guitars stacked on one track. I didn’t want five different guitar tones. I want to put one guitar sound on a song and find a way to make that one lick sound massive, the way those 70’s artists were able to do. If you stack too many sounds on one track you can lose the song in all that clutter. Building ‘clean’ tracks on The River was very intentional.”
Tag-team produced by Colby Wedgeworth (Lincoln Brewster, The Main, Lydia) and Josh Silverberg (Newsboys, Jon Foreman, Plumb), The River is packed with radio-friendly pop melodies that manage to hit those marks without compromising Jordan’s unique musical personality. The best example of his singular vision is the record’s powerhouse title track and first single, The River, which has already spent ten weeks on the radio charts at #1. While it sounds like a pulse-quickening mega-hit from the first listen—instantly singable and repeatedly listenable—The River actually rides on a deep current of soul-driven funk influence that serves to set it apart from other contemporary radio fare.
“I’m a big melody guy,” Jordan admits, “and musically The River is my own personal happy place. It’s a great driving groove that just feels good to sing. The song itself is an invitation to anyone who hears it—whether they’re stuck in pride and legalism or wallowing down in the mess they’ve made of their lives—it’s an invitation to take whatever we have and to run to Jesus. It’s an invitation to go down in amazing grace and to rise up being made new.”
The song Beloved on the other hand, while every bit as soulful and catchy as the The River, was penned from a more personal and autobiographical posture. Jordan’s wife was about to give birth to their first child, and Jordan began to consider what he, as a new father, would most want to communicate to the daughter he was about to meet.
“I wrote ‘Beloved’ before she was born,” Jordan says, “and I wrote it with two guys who both had little girls. The thing I really wanted my daughter to grow up knowing was that no matter what the world tells her, she’s beloved. She’s loved beyond compare. Regardless of what any of the people around her think, she doesn’t have to be concerned with measuring up because I’m gonna love her unconditionally as long as she lives.”
Picking up lyrically right where Beloved leaves off, another pristine and powerfully grooving track, Never Too Far Gone, completes the thought of a father’s love for his child serving as a living analogy of God’s love for each of his children.
“There was a time in my life,” Jordan recalls, “when I was running back to God but at the same time feeling ashamed and unworthy of his love. Having my own daughter and experiencing the massive love I have for her really opened my eyes to how Christ looks at us though. No matter how much I feel like I’ve messed up, no matter how far gone I think I am, the gospel tells me there is nothing I can do that will separate me from the love of my heavenly father. Nothing. It’s so clear to me now that anything I feel for my daughter is just a small echo of the love God feels for me and for all of us.”
Finding that center of truest identity in the love of God is a theme that runs deep through the songs on The River, but finds its most direct expression in the massive pop track Best Of Me. Best Of Me is a towering cut that manages to marry a blistering melodic intensity to an honest lyric. Feliz’s vocals drive right to the heart of the common struggle to lay down one’s own dreams in order to embrace God’s dreams instead.
“For so long I resisted giving my whole life to God because I was afraid of losing control of who I am,” Jordan explains. “Best Of Me was born out of the realization that when I finally did surrender my life to the Lord, in him I found the best possible version of myself. In the moment I gave everything to him, my identity shifted from being defined by who I am, to being defined by who he is. And when your identity rests in who he is, you can weather the storms that would have otherwise torn you apart.”
Having just navigated a long and stormy transition after leaving the security of local music connections and a church staff position in California in order to move to Tennessee, Jordan Feliz and his wife experienced firsthand what it means to learn to rest in the simplicity of faith in a Father who daily provides for the needs of His children. In fact, they set out from California without even enough money to make it past Phoenix. But along each leg of the journey, some music gig opened up that provided enough funds to drive the next leg. By
the time they reached their new home, Jordan had actually made several hundred dollars from the move.
“We believed God had made it clear from the beginning we should move to Nashville,” Jordan says, “but that didn’t mean it was easy. After we got here I couldn’t find a job. My wife and I were sharing one car. I was posting handyman ads on Craigslist and working as a valet downtown. I could hardly get any people to write songs with me.”
At that point, Jordan and his wife found out they were pregnant. The uncertainties and pressures and responsibilities were quickly mounting. Their whole lives felt like they were up in the air. Jordan describes it as a frightening time, but one that drove them to prayer and dependence on God. And in amazing fashion, they saw those prayers begin to be answered.
“The last year has just been like a whirlwind of good things falling into place,” Jordan says. “I signed the record deal with Centricity in February of 2015 and I finished my EP July 5th. Then, I actually won a brand new car, completely out of the blue, right before my daughter was born July 20th. My first single went to radio July 31st and shot up to #1, and the love I’ve received from radio and from new fans has been an incredible blessing. I got a slot on the Big Daddy Weave Tour which has been an amazing experience as well. And then we went right back in the studio to finish the full-length project. My life feels like it’s gone from zero to one hundred miles per hour in a blink! After so much difficulty and uncertainty, God answered our prayers. He is there for all of us and all we have to do is remain faithful.”