Continuing our Indie Spotlight featuring Tim Culpepper, the singer recently answered some questions via email. Learn more about what the traditionalist thinks about today’s country music, what you can expect on his debut album, and what country classic he wishes he could’ve written.
Category Archives: Indie Spotlight
It’s been a while since we had an Indie Spotlight feature and I must say I am super excited to introduce you guys to this new artist! This one is for those of you who love hardcore traditional country music much like the kind that took over in the 90’s. The first time I heard this guy’s voice I was blown away and I’m sure you guys will be too. So let me introduce you to Alabama native, Tim Culpepper.
A couple weeks ago we introduced a California trio of brothers called The Welch Brothers in the first installment of our Indie Spotlight. Now, we’re offering a song-by-song review of their first EP, God Bless California.
The EP contains four original songs recorded by The Welch Brothers and produced by Colby Wedgeworth. Once again the group calls themselves “California Country” which is a mixture of country, pop, and alternative genres of music all rolled up into one and these four songs show the group’s diversity and unique style of country music.
Overall this is a solid introduction to The Welch Brothers and I think they’ll continue to grow and evolve with their sound as they get the opportunity to write and record more music. I’ve said before that this trio brings a different style and sound to the genre of country music that should be heard by many people. I’ve enjoyed listening to these four songs and I look forward to getting to hear more from this talented group of brothers.
You can download the four song EP for FREE on the group’s Facebook page.
With this being the first day of March, ATC is excited to get the month started with our first Indie Spotlight of 2011! In case you’ve forgotten how this goes, we pick a lesser known artist to introduce to our readers. This month’s Spotlight features California based trio, The Welch Brothers. The group was nice enough to answer a few questions for us, so continue reading to learn more about this talented group of brothers.
For the second installment of our Indie Spotlight featuring Danielle Car we are getting to know Danielle a little bit better by asking her a few questions. Find out which artists she considers influences as well as how she feels about songwriting and the recording of her very own EP in our interview with Danielle!
Keen observation. We basically have a radio station and a Toby Keith restaurant, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m a Detroiter born and raised. The richness of our cultural and musical legacy lends itself perfectly to new creative endeavors regardless of genre or medium. Also, I feel traditional country music themes are universal and not limited to location. Tammy Wynette never specified where she wanted to stand by her man.
Growing up, I ultimately identified with whomever Mom had on the turntable. Glen Campbell, Kenny Rogers, Gene Pitney, John Denver, Neil Diamond… Though Charlie Rich’s lighter may not agree, some of those artists really brought a different style of country music to the masses and ushered in throngs of new fans including a little Italian kid from Metro-Detroit. As far as current influences go, it wasn’t until my late teens that my discovery and subsequent obsession with Dwight Yoakam and Queen entered the equation. For Dwight, I don’t know that “hero” would be a fitting term (not too sure I have any of those), but inspiration, unknowing teacher and object of my desire may be more appropriate labels, if we’re givin’ ‘em out! Also, I really admire the path Jack White has taken with regard to music. He’s managed to forego labeling himself in favor of asserting his creativity while maintaining incredible success.
Hmmm, how ‘bout this…here are the next 6 songs on my iPod as we speak:
*Dreams of Clay (Dwight Yoakam…incredible, incredible tune)
*Young Girl (Gary Puckett and The Union Gap…disturbing lyrics, great song)
*It’s Late (Queen…one of my very favorite album cuts)
*Listen (Dwight Yoakam…see “Dreams of Clay”)
*The Comedian (Roy Orbison…I could cry just thinking about it)
*Goodbye Time (Blake Shelton…great song, great voice)
After the success of our first Indie Spotlight series featuring the Stephanie Eason Band, ATC is excited to introduce a new Spotlight and a new artist to our readers. This Indie Spotlight is featuring Detroit native Danielle Car. As usual, we’ll begin our feature with a quick biography to introduce you to Danielle!
In our final segment of ATC’s inaugural Indie Spotlight, we’ll be getting to know the Stephanie Eason Band’s lead singer, Stephanie Eason, a little better by asking her a few questions. Read our interview with her to see what she has to say about performing, having an album, and about who in the band she feels is the biggest goof-ball! Also, see why she compares herself to…Hannah Montana??
Question: Who would you consider as some of your influences?
I grew up listening to Patsy Cline and The Beatles, and I quickly became a music lover. I listened to a lot of Dixie Chicks and Shania Twain when I first started singing, so I think that they influenced me quite a bit. Nowadays, I like to compare the Stephanie Eason Band’s sound to Miranda Lambert and Lady Antebellum. We have a bit of an attitude and some awesome harmonies! Haha
Question: Why did you choose to perform country music?
It’s what I grew up listening to, and I’m from Arkansas, for crying out loud. What other choice do I have? Haha! In all seriousness, I love Country music. It’s what I identify with. Country music has heart, and stories about real life. I also really appreciate that on Country radio you can still hear songs about God and songs that support our country and troops.
Question: Who is your favorite artist?
Wow, what a tough question! My favorite ARTISTS include The Beatles, Allison Krauss and Union Station, Shania Twain, Miranda Lambert, Vince Gill, John Mayer… The list goes on and on. I couldn’t pick one if I tried!
Question: You’ve gotten the chance to open for some amazing country artists, who were you most excited to meet?
Clint Black. He is probably the classiest performer that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I met him at the Tim & Willy Christmas Breakfast Show at Night in 2007 at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix. We were both performing that night and had a chance to meet backstage. As I was singing my final song of the night, he turned and gave me “the wink and nod” to show his support and approval. I was so excited and extremely flattered!
Question: If you could pick one artist to either open for or share the stage with, who would it be?
I’d love to share the stage with Shania Twain. I think I have worn out her CD’s more than any other CD that I own. I love her music and really respect her as a person. She seems so down to Earth and is an incredibly talented performer. It would be very surreal to share a stage with her!
Question: How does it feel to be touring and performing for large crowds every weekend?
I love it. I truly feel like it’s what I was born to do. I am more comfortable on stage than I am off stage. I’m in my element under the spotlight and in front of big crowds… and off stage I’m much more reserved, I think. You know how Hannah Montana takes off her pop star wig and goes back to being Miley Cyrus? It’s kind of like that. Haha, just kidding! I couldn’t resist!
Question: Where has been your favorite place to perform?
The Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix is probably my favorite venue. It has a circular stage in the center of the theatre that slowly rotates throughout the night. That way, the crowd can completely surround you and you can face everyone at some point in the night. It has a very intimate feel about it, and I’ve really enjoyed playing the Christmas Breakfast Shows there with Tim & Willy every year.
Question: Do you and the band have any pre-show rituals?
Surprisingly, not really! Does a crazed scramble for double-A batteries count? Because we all do that before our shows…
Question: If you weren’t a performing musician, what would you be doing?
Well, I got my degree in Elementary Education from ASU, so I’d probably be teaching third grade!
Question: What’s the most embarassing thing that’s happened on stage?
One time at a show, I wore a long skirt that had an elastic waistband with some of my taller heels. In the middle of one of our sets, I had to fix a cable that I kept stepping on, so I knelt down (very lady-like, of course!) to fix it. What I didn’t realize was that I was standing on the bottom of my skirt with one of my heels. Needless to say, the skirt was at my ankles when I stood back up. All the stage lights were on me and a bar full of drunk men were staring at my de-skirted self. Pretty embarrassing! I won’t even leave the house without spandex shorts under all of my dresses and skirts now! True story!
Question: What is your favorite song to perform live?
I’d have to say that I really enjoy playing “Country Time”, because it’s such a fun song to both sing and fiddle on. It always puts me in a good mood!
Question: Speaking of “Country Time,” which is an original on The Red Letter Days, how does it feel to have your very own full-length studio album?
Like a dream come true. I have waited so long for this, that it is still a bit unreal to me. The process all happened so quickly once we started the project. Our guitarist, Stan Hitson, was the final member to join the band in October 2009. We decided immediately to get to work on writing songs for our debut album, and booked our studio time and hotels in Nashville for February 2010 so that we would be more motivated to get it done. We spent the next couple months writing songs, and began rehearsing and arranging them in December. On Valentine’s Day 2010, we all hopped on a plane to Nashville and spent a week on Music Row recording and mixing “The Red Letter Days”. I feel very accomplished and extremely proud of what we have all created in our first album. Our hearts and souls are in it. (And plenty of sweat and blood, too!)
Question: What is your favorite song on the album?
Another tough one! We have three very unique writers in the band, and “The Red Letter Days” definitely has a variety of styles of music on it. I already mentioned that “Country Time” is probably my favorite to perform, but after mixing down and mastering the album, I really enjoy listening to “Charlotte to Phoenix”, “Endlessly” and “Happy Ever After”. Those are my 3 favorites, and each one happens to be by a different writer! Haha, what a politically correct answer!
Question: You wrote three songs on the album, what’s your favorite part about songwriting and when did you discover your songwriting skills?
Watching it grow. As a songwriter, you get to see an idea turn into a lyric, a lyric into a melody, and a melody into a song. It’s very exciting to work with the band I putting together an original as well. Everyone has fresh and exciting ideas to bring to the table. It’s such a rush playing a song you wrote for a live audience for the first time. I love to see people dancing and singing along… How cool!
I started writing when I was 16. I have a whole notebook of old songs about boys I used to have crushes on and break-ups and all the drama of being a teenage girl… Yikes! Nobody will ever see that! Haha!
Question: Between performing every weekend and writing songs it seems like you don’t have that much spare time. But when you do have the luxury of some down time, what do you like to do?
It’s tough having a schedule that is opposite from the rest of the world. My “weekends” are during the week, since I play every Friday and Saturday. I try to catch up with friends and spend time with my family during my time off. I have 2 little sisters and one little brother, and my whole family is really close. Since our schedules are so hectic and the band travels so much, it’s not often that we all get to spend quality time together.
Question: Anyone who had seen you and the guys live would say that you all have great energy and great chemistry on stage. Was that chemistry something that came naturally or was it something that took a little bit of time?
It is absolutely something that has grown with time, but when this particular group of individuals came together, it was clearly a perfect fit. I’ve never played in a band or known a band that has as much chemistry as we do, both on and off stage. We’re a family, and we all love this band!
Question: How do you survive being the only girl in the group?
Actually, it’s the only way we could possibly travel. If anyone else in the band packed as much as I do, we’d have to buy a bigger trailer! Haha! The other guys can pack for a whole week in a backpack… And I carry a backpack for all my hair products and styling tools. Plus, I never have the problem of accidentally wearing the same outfit as any other band mate! And if the guys ever do match me, we’re going to have to have a serious talk. The mental picture is so scary… Haha!
Question: Speaking of the guys, who do you think is the biggest goof-ball of the group?
Our drummer, Brandon Kinser. I’m sure that by now everyone has witnessed his amazing drumming dance moves behind me. He does all sorts of weird stuff when I’m singing, especially when I’m singing ballads and serious songs. When the audience starts laughing in the middle of those songs, I know something’s up. Without fail, I turn around and Brandon is doing something hilarious back there.
Question: Who do you think is the most reserved member of the band?
Hmm… Mike Galli is probably the most reserved of the group. He is also the nicest member of the band. We’re having bracelets made that say “WWMD”. Haha! He seriously is the kindest person you’ll ever meet, though.
Question: Who would you say is the most organized and the least organized?
I think that Eric is probably the most organized member, because he juggles all of the booking and planning of the tours, which takes a LOT of organization. I think we’re all very organized… and very type A. I actually just reorganized my gig bag last week, which carries everything that anyone could possibly EVER need at a show. Your shirt button fell off? Have no fear! I carry a sewing kit! Feeling sick, or worried about Mr. Slobbery who just slimed your microphone? I carry disinfectant and cleaning pads! Ta-da! Yes, I am a total nerd.
Question: To wrap up our interview on a bit of a fun note, which member of the band do you think would win a karaoke contest?
I think that Stan could easily win a karaoke contest. He has a very dynamic and expressive voice, with excellent vibrato! I’m always blown away!
I think it’s safe to say that Stephanie Eason not only has the vocal chops to become a country music star, but she’s proven to be an extremely down-to-earth woman with one of the most infectious personalities you’ll ever encounter. Please do yourselves a favor and check out the Stephanie Eason Band’s album, The Red Letter Days, and if you’re in Arizona, make sure you check out the band in concert soon. You can find tour dates on the band’s website by clicking here.
I would like to thank Stephanie Eason for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions.
That’s it for our first Indie Spotlight! Keep on the lookout for a new Indie Spotlight artist sometime in the near future!
In this portion of ATC’s Indie Spotlight, we’ll be reviewing the Stephanie Eason Band’s first full-length studio album, The Red Letter Days. Find out what we think about the album in our Indie Spotlight!
The album starts off with the upbeat “Charlotte to Phoenix” which finds Stephanie telling the story of a couple who wants to take a plunge and hit the open road from Charlotte to Phoenix to get away from their town. Stephanie provides a fantastic vocal performance that is never overshadowed by the production, which is filled with steel, mandolin, and guitars that keep its sound strictly country. In fact, the production throughout the record stays strictly country and that could be difficult to do in this generation of country music because some of it really isn’t country.
The album continues with the pop-country tune “It Ain’t Love” which talks about how love is all about being physical and not all about the romantic gestures like writing poems or giving someone flowers. The production features a prominent banjo line backed by the ever-present steel guitar. The band keeps with the country-pop production on songs like “How to Start a Fire” as well as one of the album’s highlights, “Holdin’ On.” The latter of which is a song about a woman who is engaged to a man that she doesn’t feel is the “one,” but instead finds her soul mate in a different guy which she’s holding on to.
One of the most interesting productions comes from the song “Endlessly” which possesses a very dark, mellow, bluesy production that’s filled with the usual Stephanie Eason Band instruments – mandolin, steel, and bass – mixed with a very subdued drum beat that sounds amazing on the ears. “He Don’t Know” also features an interesting production that incorporates traditional country sounds with a hint of bluegrass that results in a fantastic sounding record that could’ve been heard during the traditional country movement of the 1990’s.
The album’s strongest song is the ballad “My Heart Won’t Leave Me Alone.” Everything from the dark production to the outstanding emotion-filled vocal performance from Stephanie, the best on the album, results in one heck of a song. The song, of course, would be nothing without the incredible songwriting skills of Stan Hitson, who also wrote or co-wrote five other songs, who brings the story of how a person feels after a sudden break up to life with such brilliance.
Lead singer Stephanie Eason also shows off her songwriting skills on songs like “Holdin’ On” as well as the charming “Happy Ever After,” which talks about how the stories in fairytales we all grew up with never happen in real life, but we do all get our “happy ever after” in different ways. I’ve already raved about the production on “He Don’t Know,” but the songwriting by Eason is also something that should be mentioned because she does an excellent job at telling the story of a girl who’s in love with her best friend but is afraid to tell him, fearing that he won’t return her love.
The only time the group strays away from their country sounds is on the rocker “Be Careful What You Ask For” which Stephanie shares vocals with songwriter Stan Hitson in the telling of the story about a husband who gets caught cheating in a local bar. This song provides Stephanie the opportunity to show off her sassy side as she gets to play the wife who confronts the girl that is knowingly getting “lovey-dovey” with a married man. This song also provides the band the opportunity to show a different side to them and proves to listeners that they aren’t one-dimensional when it comes to their tastes in music.
From the excellent vocal performances from Eason to the outstanding production, this album is an outstanding representation of who the Stephanie Eason Band is. After listening to this record, there’s no doubt that the band is intent on sticking to their country roots and isn’t afraid to include influences from bluegrass, rock, and pop into that country sound. This album is a fantastic start from the group and I’m personally hoping they get the chance to record more music in their career.
The Stephanie Eason Band is a five member band led by lead singer, Stephanie Eason. The group describes their sound as one that blends mainstream country, bluegrass, pop, blues, and rock into one awesome blend of music. This description is prominently displayed during their live shows, which are among the best any bar or nightclub has seen. The group often includes covers of country songs by artists like Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum, Dierks Bentley, and countless others as well as original songs from their debut album, The Red Letter Days.
At such a young age, Stephanie Eason has already proven she’s got the vocal chops and stage presence a person needs to be the lead singer of her own band. Stephanie’s love of music began when she learned to play the fiddle and piano in elementary school. Since realizing her love and passion for performing, Stephanie has played anywhere and everywhere she possibly can. She’s already opened for legendary country artists like Randy Travis and was invited by Naomi Judd to share the stage with her at a local women’s expo. It’s clear Stephanie is already on her way to becoming one of Arizona’s brightest stars.
The rest of the band includes a group of guys who are some of the best musicians Arizona has to offer. Accompanying Stephanie on lead guitar and vocals is Stan Hitson. According to the band’s website, Stan has spent many years performing in bands and writing songs. In fact, he’s written everything from pop songs to country songs to even a rock opera. Stan wrote or co-wrote six of the twelve songs included on the group’s first full length album, The Red Letter Days.
Now, what’s one of the most essential parts of a country band?? The drums of course! That’s where SEB’s drummer and percussionist Brandon Kinser comes in. Hailing from Casa Grande, AZ, Brandon began playing the drums at a young age and has since performed all over Arizona with several bands. According to the website, Brandon’s had experience playing in several genres of music including country, rock, and jazz.
The band’s fourth member, Mike Galli, originally hails from Northern California. Mike is the epitomy of a multifaceted musician. In the band, Galli provides lead and harmony vocals as well as playing the mandolin, steel guitar, and the mouth harp. In addition to his diverse musicianship, Mike also contributes to the songwriting process as well. Mike wrote or co-wrote three of the songs on the group’s album.
Last but certainly not least is the group’s bass guitar player, Eric Gilboe. In addition to his bass guitar skills, Eric also provides harmony vocals as well as lead vocals during his turn in the spotlight at live shows. Like most of his bandmates, Eric began playing guitar at an early age and has since had the opportunity to tour around the country with country acts like Gary Allan, Dave Mason, David Allen Coe, and many more.
Like I mentioned above, the group recently traveled to Nashille’s 16 Ton Studios to record their first full-length album titled, The Red Letter Days. Next week, part two of our Indie Spotlight will be a review of The Red Letter Days, if you’d like to get a headstart on the album, which I highly recommend, then please purchase it by clicking on one of the links below.
The Red Letter Days
All Things Country is excited to introduce a new feature to the blog called Indie Spotlight. The purpose of the new segment is to give exposure to artists who aren’t on major record labels and to help get their names out there. Find out more about the segment and how to be a featured artist by reading the post.
Being a music business major, I’m learning the difficulties artist who aren’t backed by a label face when trying to get discovered. Since I started this blog late last year, I’ve been contacted by so many people asking me to feature them on ATC. So after giving a lot of thought as to how I can spotlight these artists, I’ve created the Indie Spotlight segment. Essentially, this segment is going to be all about introducing an artist to a new audience.
Each spotlight will feature a new artist that I personally find intriguing and unique and who I feel should be introduced to the ATC readers. Each segment will provide background information as well as links to websites where you can discover more about the artist. Depending on the material I receive, a single or album review could be thrown in as well. Basically, the goal of the Indie Spotlight is to introduce an artist to an new audience, and to hopefully gain them new fans.
If you’d like to be apart of this exciting new feature, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you could, I would love for you to provide links to websites as well as maybe a short bio about yourself, or the artist you’re representing. If you’d like a single or album review to be done, please include a link to where I can listen to the material.
I’m excited to get the series started and I’m excited to announce that the first Indie Spotlight will feature the Arizona group, the Stephanie Eason Band. So please check back later this week to learn more about this fine group of musicians!