Third Day was a Christian rock band formed in Marietta, Georgia during the 1990s. The band was founded by lead singer Mac Powell, guitarist Mark Lee (both of whom were the only constant members) and Billy Wilkins. Drummer David Carr was the last band member to quit, prior to the band’s farewell tour in May and June 2018. The band’s name is a reference to the biblical accounts of Jesus’ rising from the dead on the third day following his crucifixion. The band was inducted in the Georgia Music Hall of Fame on September 19, 2009. They have sold over 7 million albums in the United States and had 28 number one Christian album chart radio hits.Their fans are known as “Gomers” after a song on their second album about Gomer.
Pacific Northwest native Trent Beaver has a heart straight out of the south. By mixing his country upbringing with his love for west coast rock, Trent has managed to create a sound truly one of a kind. Weather it’s the power in his voice or the soulful lyrics, the combination demands attention when in a crowded room. A “True Troubadour” only scratches the surface of describing this unique artist.
If you haven’t yet heard of Arkansas Dave, you’re in for a treat. The critically acclaimed Austin musician–whose impressive work has already taken him from Switzerland to Nashville and all over the U.K.–will return to Nashville in September for the annual Americanafest. The annual music fest, which The New York Times calls “the coolest music scene today” is a celebration of folk, country, blues and soul. This year’s festival will take place from September 11-16 in Nashville, Tennessee, with a five-day program replete with panels and performances. From the brightest minds and brightest stars in the music industry. Fittingly, Americana’s all-star lineup includes Arkansas Dave.
A former drummer for Guitar Shorty & The Hard Pans, Dave triumphed over a lifetime of hardships to get on the stage at Americana. Born in Little Rock and raised in Camden, Arkansas, the multi-instrumentalist was reared in a house divided by fundamental Christianity and crippling drug abuse. He migrated from Arkansas with nothing but his love for music, and started surviving on side jobs here and there while honing his craft wherever he could. He eventually found his way to Austin, where he enrolled at the Media Tech school and plied his trade in the same studio where Willie Nelson and Neil Young cut records. A series of bands followed, including a stint on tour with Guitar Shorty. Dave developed a following in Austin, and parlayed that local fame into his first record.
Written in 2016 and released this year, Arkansas Dave’s self-titled debut album is the story of his life–in the form of a searing and unforgettable blues rock epic. Pop Dose hailed the record as “nothing but pure goodness,” and Dave isn’t the only one who deserves credit. To add even more flair and style to an already blistering blues record, Dave brought in the Swampers, the legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.
“Taking this record on the road means the world to me,” Dave says. “ It’s all I’ve ever dreamt of”. But don’t expect the newfound fame to get to Dave’s head. The road ahead may be smoother than what’s behind him, but it’s a road that’s yet to be traveled; a road Dave will pave through Nashville with his grit, determination and sheer musical talent.
“I still have a lot of work, and the road never ends; I’m just glad I’m able to travel that road and do what I love to do”.
Bishop Gunn of Natchez, Mississippi, is rooted in the history and sounds of their home and the surrounding Delta, and features a blend of rock and roll, soul and blues.
In 2017, the band appeared on Kid Rock’s 8th Annual “Chillin’ the Most Cruise” and was voted the best band on the boat by the “chillers.” The group went on to do commercial film for Southern Comfort in Clarksdale, Mississippi and spend their summer touring. In September, Bishop Gunn took the stage at the Pilgrimage Festival in Franklin, Tennessee alongside artists like Justin Timberlake, Eddie Vedder, Mavis Staples and Gary Clark Jr. The band then played Laid Back Festival dates with Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band, Jimmie Vaughan, The Gregg Allman Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Bishop Gunn released their debut full-length album Natchez in May 2018. They worked on the release with Grammy Award-winning producers Casey Wasner and Mark Neill at legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and FAME Studios, as well as The Purple House in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee where the band lives and creates in a farmhouse on the outskirts of Nashville. The album, named after the band’s hometown, entered the Billboard charts as the #4 Blues Album and also appeared as #8 on their Heatseekers South Central chart. Rolling Stone Country featured the band among their “Artists You Need to Know,” asserting “anyone can cite the Muscle Shoals sound as an influence, but few acts can actually pull off making music worthy of such a claim. Nashville band Bishop Gunn is one of those acts…The resulting music is the perfect blend of Nashville and the Shoals, and is the rare album that builds upon its influences rather than resorting to outright mimicry.”
Prior to the release of Natchez, the band was featured at SXSW, played support dates for Blackberry Smoke and was invited for a return appearance on Kid Rock’s 9th Annual “Chillin’ the Most Cruise.” They then spent the rest of 2018 touring in support of the album, including performances at The Peach Fest and The Big House Museum, as well as support dates for The Marcus King Band, Whiskey Myers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Outlaws, and Black Stone Cherry. They look forward to kicking off 2019 performing on the Southern Rock Cruise and embarking on a European tour which includes support dates with Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators.
Michael Cameron Anderson known professionally as Anderson East, is an American R&B musician from Athens, Alabama, who currently is based in Nashville, Tennessee. His song “Satisfy Me” was released in March 2015 and received consistent radio airplay. His major-label record debut, Delilah, was released on the Low Country Sound, an imprint Elektra in July 2015. In the beginning stages of his career, East opened for Holly Williams and ended up playing guitar and singing harmonies with her. At the same time, he worked as a session musician as well as a recording engineer to provide a way to make ends meet.
East began his musical career in 2009, self-releasing an album titled Closing Credits for a Fire under the name Mike Anderson. He then began recording under the name Anderson East with the release of an EP titled Fire Demos. East’s self-released debut album, Flowers of the Broken Hearted in 2012, was made up of two records: one record which he recorded in Los Angeles with producer Chris Seefried and session players Charlie Gillingham, Don Heffington and Rob Wasserman, and a second recorded in Nashville with Tim Brennan and Daniel Scobey. The record is 15 songs long, and is made up of two CDs each with their own music genre: The White disc is made up of a progressive soul and Americana vibe, while the Red disc is darker and has more of a rock sound. He funded the record as a PledgeMusic project, with a percentage of the proceeds going to Water Aid, a nonprofit organization that brings water to communities that do not have clean drinking water.
East’s major label debut album, Delilah, was released by Low Country Sound, an imprint of Elektra in July 2015. It was produced by Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton) and features a song by George Jackson recorded at the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. In 2017, East appeared on the Fifty Shades Darker Soundtrack, performing the track “What Would It Take” which he co-wrote with Aaron Raitere. This particular soundtrack debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200. East also covered Brandi Carlile’s song “Josephine” to be included for her charity album Cover Stories.
On August 15, 2017, East released the first single from his upcoming album Encore, “All On My Mind”, which he subsequently performed on October 13, 2017, in an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
SCOTT SHARRARD IS BEST KNOWN as lead guitarist and bandleader for the late Gregg Allman. But his personal artistic journey – which includes singing, songwriting, producing and arranging – began long before he first teamed up with the rock icon. It’s a mission that resumes with “Saving Grace,” Sharrard’s fifth album — and his first since Allman’s death. “Saving Grace,” with the blues at its core, bears a distinctly southern spirit, seamlessly assimilating the sounds of American roots music that Sharrard has long embraced. Sessions took place in Memphis and at the historic FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Half the album employs the Hi Rhythm Section, the other The Swampers of Muscle Shoals. Sharrard’s travels to the heart of the American South began in the Upper Midwest. He was born in Michigan on December 28, 1976 – the day his hero Freddie King died – and spent his formative years in Milwaukee, where he was a club fixture long before he could legally take a drink. Then came a chance 1996 move to New York City. The 20-year-old Sharrard, eager to bolt Milwaukee, had his mind on New Orleans. But his friend Sean Dixon, with whom he had a band called The Chesterfields, had found a rent-controlled apartment in the East Village.
Sharrard had been in the Big Apple but a year when he met iconic Atlantic Records executive Ahmet Ertegun, who mentored The Chesterfields and gave the young guitar-slinger some sage advice. The Chesterfields cut three albums and toured nationally before Sharrard began to chart his own course. A series of releases followed, including “Dawnbreaker” (2005), “Analog/Monolog” (2008) and “Ante Up” (2009). Ertegun wasn’t the only legend with Sharrard on his radar back then: The young guitarist also forged a relationship with Levon Helm – performing with The Band drummer about a dozen times, including his final gig just before his death in April of 2012. Sharrard remains close with Helm’s daughter, Amy, and a host of other artists on the Woodstock scene. It was through Amy’s then-husband, multi-instrumentalist Jay Collins – already a member of Allman’s band – that Sharrard embarked on the collaboration of a lifetime. In the fall of 2008, Sharrard began a nearly decade-long run with the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. Sharrard joined the Gregg Allman Band as a touring guitarist and later became Musical Director. The fruitful partnership ended with the 69-year-old Allman’s death on May 27, 2017. But not before Allman covered Sharrard’s “Love Like Kerosene” on 2015’s “Gregg Allman Live: Back to Macon, GA,” and again on Allman’s eighth and final solo album, the posthumous, GRAMMY-nominated “Southern Blood” (Rounder Records, 2017). Another “Southern Blood” track, the unforgettable farewell “My Only True Friend” – co-written by Sharrard and Allman – earned a GRAMMY nomination for Americana Song of the Year.
Sharrard’s deep respect for Allman factored heavily into the 2018 release date for “Saving Grace.” Tracking was completed in December of 2016. But Sharrard – knowing Allman’s health was failing and that “Southern Blood” would be his last hurrah – chose to delay its unveiling. He’s now begun a new chapter with an album he consciously wanted to summarize the last 20 years of his work – and one that showcases the totality of his artistry: as guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer, arranger and bandleader.
Hailed as “gospel titans” by Rolling Stone, the Blind Boys first rose to fame in the segregated south with their thrilling vocal harmonies and roof-raising live show. They released their debut single, “I Can See Everybody’s Mother But Mine,” on the iconic Veejay label in 1948, launching a 70-year recording career that would see them rack up five GRAMMY Awards (plus one for Lifetime Achievement), enter the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, collaborate with everyone from Mavis Staples and Stevie Wonder to Prince and Lou Reed, and perform on the world’s most prestigious stages. It would be difficult to overstate the Blind Boys’ influence on their contemporaries and the generations that came after. The New York Times said that they “came to epitomize what is known as jubilee singing, a livelier breed of gospel music,” adding that “they made it zestier still by adding jazz and blues idioms and turning up the volume, creating a sound…like the rock ‘n’ roll that grew out of it.” TIME Magazine raved that “they’re always hunting for – and finding – the perfect note or harmony that lifts an old tune into the sublime,” while The Washington Post praised their “soul-stirring harmonies” and “range of cross-genre collaborations,” and The New Yorker simply called them “legendary”.
“When the Blind Boys started out, we weren’t even thinking about all these accolades and all that stuff,” founding member Jimmy Carter told NPR. “We just wanted to get out and sing gospel and tell the world about gospel music.” Mission accomplished!
The son of a preacher man, Mississippi-raised Thorn spent much of his childhood in church, participating in multiple weekly services with his father as well as at neighboring African American congregations, where he became entranced with the music whose infectious spirit is captured on the new album.
Don’t Let the Devil Ride collects soulful songs originally cut by black southern gospel groups and features guests the Blind Boys of Alabama, The McCrary Sisters, the Preservation Hall Jazz Horns, and Bonnie Bishop.
The album was recorded at three temples of sound: the Sam C. Phillips Recording studio, whose namesake gave another son of Tupelo his start; at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, where Thorn worked as a songwriter for legendary producer Rick Hall early in his career; and at Preservation Hall, where horn players from the celebrated jazz venue lent songs a New Orleans vibe. The new release marks Thorn’s first time recording gospel music after a dozen albums in roots-rock mode, though his upbringing has previously been reflected in his creation of a body of strikingly original songs. In his own songwriting, Thorn often addresses the foibles of human relationships, although he doesn’t favor the sacred over the profane.
As an accomplished painter, former professional boxer, and seasoned skydiver, Thorn has never shied away from new challenges, but cutting a gospel record was just like going home. Thorn soon met his longtime songwriting partner Billy Maddox, who had strong ties to the musical hub of Muscle Shoals. The duo began writing under contract for Rick Hall, owner of the legendary Fame Recording Studios, where Thorn cut demos of their songs.
As a performer, Thorn was playing solo gigs in Tupelo for $50 a night and further supplemented his factory income with boxing. He learned to box from his paternal uncle Merle, a one-time pimp celebrated in “Pimps and Preachers,” Thorn’s autobiographical song about his two mentors.
The songs on Don’t Let the Devil Ride, co-produced by Billy Maddox and Colin Linden, likewise fall into that same comfort zone. The other songs stretch back much farther, but their themes – of redemption, taking stock of one’s life, and resilience in the face of troubles – are universal, making them readily adaptable to the fresh takes here. Nashville’s McCrary Sisters, for instance, lend a buoyant feel to “You Got to Move,” a northeast Mississippi standard, best known through a solemn slide guitar take by Mississippi Fred McDowell.
The sisters’ father was a founder of the Fairfield Four, a capella gospel singers whose live radio broadcasts on CBS in the ’40s and ’50s were extremely influential. Fellow guest artists the Blind Boys of Alabama, founded in 1944, were founders of the “hard gospel” quartet style that dominated the era from which many of the songs on this record where drawn. Also joining Thorn on vocals is Texas-born Bonnie Bishop, who attributes her soulful singing style to spending her formative years in Mississippi. Both Maddox and Thorn were longtime friends with Hall and the Phillips family, and Maddox says that recording in Memphis and Muscle Shoals was a natural extension of the whole process and the only proper way to honor this particular body of work.
“Well, I went up to the city to find myself, and didn’t find a thing at all/ except for a couple new ways to forget what I was lookin’ for… but gimme a compass needle, some honest people, and a place that I can stay/I can find my own way home.”
Thus begins Kirby Brown’s Uncommon Prayer, a ten-song soliloquy of loneliness and longing, underpinned with a fundamental belief that there is always a home to be found. From being raised in a small, picturesque farm town, to years spent roaming the charged, gritty sidewalks of New York City, Brown has made his home in the extremes of American culture. However, it is his own experiences of personal loss and subsequent growth — in combination with these varied backdrops — that inspire his constant search for perspective.
Brown’s life took a sharp turn in his late teens. Shortly after high school, both his first love and his long time best friend died tragically and unexpectedly in the space of a year, and it was feelings of immense loss and brokenness that initially inspired him to record an album. Rather than attend university as he had previously planned, Brown found himself floating around the Dallas area, working for his friend’s band and trying to regain his sense of what life was supposed to be. Out of sheer emotional necessity he began to write and record what eventually became his first album, Child of Calamity. When a gig brought him to New York City, Brown unexpectedly fell in love with the place.
Joined by fellow Dallas musicians and frequent collaborators The Texas Gentleman and producer Beau Bedford, Brown sounds completely at home on Uncommon Prayer, which was recorded at the legendary FAME studios in Muscle Shoals. His conversational phrasing and plaintive vocals lead the listener through the winding hills of the Ozarks, the muggy heat of Texas, and the crowded streets of New York City with ease. Despite his literary bent, the songs are upbeat and go down easily, with clear pop melodic sensibilities complementing the evocative lyrical twists and turns. His hopeful tone leaves the listener feeling both understood and inspired to “keep on keeping on,” and to embrace the pain and loneliness that we all inevitably come upon. Throughout the album Brown conveys to his listeners that no matter where they are on their own journey through brokenness and growth, there is always beauty, truth, and a sense of meaning to be found. As he says in “Broken Bell”: “anyway you come is plenty enough for you to feel at home — until you move along.”
Making Room 41 nearly killed Paul Cauthen. Ironically enough, it’s also the very thing that saved him. “Finishing this record was one of the craziest experiences I’ve ever been a part of,” reflects Cauthen, the larger-than-life Texas troubadour nicknamed Big Velvet for his impossibly smooth, baritone voice. “I’m honestly glad it’s done because I don’t think I’d survive if I had to do it all over again. No way.” Written during a roughly two-year stint spent living out of a suitcase in Dallas’ Belmont Hotel, Room 41 chronicles Cauthen’s white-knuckle journey to the brink and back, a harrowing experience that landed him in and out of the hospital as he careened between ecstasy and misery more times than he could count. Cauthen has long been a pusher of boundaries (musical and otherwise), and Room 41 is no exception, with electrifying performances that blend old-school country and gritty soul with 70’s funk and stirring gospel. His lyrics take on biblical proportions as they tackle lust and envy, pride and despair, destruction and redemption, but these songs are no parables.
Cauthen first earned his reputation as a fire-breathing truth-teller with the acclaimed roots rock band Sons of Fathers, but it wasn’t until the 2016 release of his solo debut, My Gospel, that he truly tapped into the full depth of his prodigious talents. Vice Noisey dubbed it “a somber reminder of how lucky we are to be alive,” while Texas Monthly raved that Cauthen “sound[s] like the Highwaymen all rolled into one: he’s got Willie’s phrasing, Johnny’s haggard quiver, Kristofferson’s knack for storytelling, and Waylon’s baritone.” The album landed on a slew of Best Of lists at the year’s end and earned festival appearances from Austin City Limits and Pickathon to Stagecoach and Tumbleweed along with dates opening for Elle King, Margo Price, Midland, Cody Jinks, Social Distortion and more. He followed it up two years later with Have Mercy, an album that prompted Rolling Stone to dub him “one of the most fascinating, and eccentric, new voices in country music” and NPR’s Ann Powers to proclaim 2019 as “the year of Paul Cauthen.”
Cauthen credits his survival in no small part to his collaborators on the album, a wide range of writers, musicians, and producers who rallied around him and believed in his work enough to help him see it through. The production credits alone read like a who’s who of modern Texas music, including Niles City Sound (Leon Bridges, Nicole Atkins), Matt Pence (Jason Isbell, Nikki Lane), and Beau Bedford and Jason Burt, Cauthen’s longtime creative foils at Dallas’ Modern Electric studio. The mix of producers and recording environments helped Cauthen walk the line between retro and modern, with bold, adventurous arrangements informed by country tradition but completely untethered from its strictures. The introduction of album opener “Holy Ghost Fire” sounds more like Gnarls Barkley than Merle Haggard, and the ultra-funky “Cocaine Country Dancing” flirts with Prince, but the arrival of Cauthen’s unmistakable voice gives each song a singular life of its own.
In the end, writing and recording Room 41 showed Cauthen that he wasn’t alone, and in that sense, maybe these songs are parables after all. As richly detailed and firmly rooted in Cauthen’s lived experiences as they are, the stories here are universal, with the kind of deeply layered meanings and insights that continue to reveal themselves slowly over time. These days, Cauthen is out of the hotel, but he still carries the lessons he learned in room 41 everywhere he goes, approaching life with a newfound gratefulness and living in the moment with an appreciation for the present that might have seemed impossible even just a year ago.