Concert Review: Blake Shelton “Ten Times Crazier Tour 2014”

Blake Shelton with The Band Perry, Dan + Shay & Neal McCoy
“Ten Times Crazier Tour 2014”
Amway Center
Orlando, FL
August 30th, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Blake Shelton is no question one of the best thing that country music has going for it in recent years. His music is fun, careless and if you don’t like it you can kiss my country music loving ass. The “Ten Times Crazier Tour 2014” is not your regular concert. It features Blake Shelton along with The Band Perry, Dan + Shay & Neal McCoy (who not plays once but three times).  This is a real party. The event started at 6:45pm and went all the way to just past 11pm. Now if you ask me that is one hell of a concert and these fans are really getting their money worth.

The night kicked off with Neal McCoy, who only took stage for 15 minutes and sang some fun cover songs…but don’t worry we didn’t see the last of him and his band. Next up was Dan + Shay, who I did not get to see due to being backstage  meeting up with Blake Shelton! That’s right baby meet and greet! He is one cool (and tall) dude! What I did hear though, there were really stealing the crowd and getting them warmed up. Neal McCoy came out again after that for another 15 minutes before The Band Perry really stole the show.

I have never seen The Band Perry live and not really a huge mega fan. I know (and like) a bunch of their songs but not really a number #1. Well after this performance, I am now a number #1 fan! The Band Perry took the stage and literally tore the roof off the Amway Center. Kimberly Perry is such an amazing performer and has such presence. She is also quite theatrical and dramatic, which really adds to the performance. Of course they song their classics like If I Die Young and Chainsaw, which really drove the crowd into an all out singing fest.

After The Band Perry, Mr. McCoy took the stage once more again singing some amazing classics and keeping the crowd ready when the stage was being set for the main attraction, Blake Shelton. Having met the man, a mere minutes before, it was surreal when he hit the stage and he was belting out his hits literally six rows from my seat (thanks to his management team for the outstanding seats BTW).  What I love about Shelton is that it just seems so effortless for him and yet at the same time, the guy seems like an average Joe who at points honestly seems nervous. He is just a great performer and keeps his audiences attention from the moment he comes. He is funny and also a great storyteller.

The top selling/Grammy winning country singing artist played his hits like “Kiss My Country Ass”,  “Mine Would Be You”, “Some Beach”, “Hillbilly Bone”, “Sure Be Cool If You Did” and “My Eyes”. Also in one of the coolest things that I have ever been a part of, Blake actually recorded the video to his latest single “Neon Light”, which is set to be released on his new album “Bringing Back the Sunshine”, due out September 30th. It was a blast to get to be a part of such an amazing event.

As the night grew later, Shelton went all Acoustic on us and came up to the front of the stage solo only with a guitar and really poured his out with tracks like “Austin”, “Drink On It” and one of my favorites, “Home”, which is of course a Michael Bublé cover. But the mood didn’t end on a quite not as he closed out the night with his biggest hits “Honey Bee” and “Boys ‘Round Here” and brought in the night with fireworks. I do not think that there was one person not singing or screaming those lyrics.

This was no question of the most fun that I have had at a concert in recent years. When I left the Amway Center, my cheeks were killing me and mine and my wife’s voices were shot due to singing for hours straight. I hope Blake and his team realized that Florida has its share of country fans and knows how to tear it up with the best of them! Till next time Mr. Shelton! Thanks for a great night, you sure know how to throw a great party!

The Band Perry Setlist:
Night Gone Wasted
You Lie
All Your Life
I’m a Keeper
Timber (Pitbull feat. Ke$ha cover)
Fat Bottomed Girls (Queen cover)
Don’t Let Me Be Lonely
If I Die Young
Better Dig Two

Blake Shelton Setlist:
All About Tonight
The More I Drink
She Wouldn’t Be Gone
Doin’ What She Likes
Kiss My Country Ass
Mine Would Be You
Nobody But Me
Some Beach
Ol’ Red (George Jones cover)
Who Are You When I’m Not Looking
Hillbilly Bone
Sure Be Cool If You Did
Neon Light
My Eyes
Over You
Drink On It
Home (Michael Bublé cover)
Honey Bee
Boys ‘Round Here
Footloose (Kenny Loggins cover)
God Gave Me You

CD Review: Blake Shelton "Based on a True Story…"

Blake Shelton
“Based on a True Story…”
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Label: Warner Bros.
Tracks: 12
Running Time: 44 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Blake Shelton has been very busy for the last two years.  His last major album was “Red River Blue”, which was easily one of the best of 2011 and last year’s “Cheers, It’s Christmas”, which was also fantastic.  Then there is this little show he is involved with called “The Voice”.  Where does this guy have time to be this busy?  Well “Based on a True Story…” is a fantastic follow-up to “Red River Blue”.  When I found out about the album, I thought it is going to be real hard to top that album. But this album is such a smash hit! Since I received the album it has been a constant loop and I just keep enjoying the songs more and more.  If you love Blake, then you shouldn’t need to even read this, pick this up! If you are new to his music, then this is a great start and also a must have for any country music fan!

“Based On A True Story…” features 12 tracks with each track trumping the next. The first track released as a single, “Sure Be Cool If You Did”, is already a smash hit and debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Digital Tracks chart. The great thing about that track is that it is amazing but not even the best track on the album.  So if you love that song, like many do, just think that the best is yet to come.  It is catchy and real draw for the album though. What thing I love about Shelton is that he is country but doesn’t really throw it in your face, if you don’t like the genre there are still some great songs on the album that you would enjoy. I like to say that he has a little bit for everyone on his albums.

My person favorite on the album is “Do You Remember”.  What a beautiful song.  I see this being a very big single for him.  But like I said when you listen to an album like “Based on a True Story…” you literally have the option to release each song as a single that is not always the case. If you like Pistol Annies, who doesn’t, they pop in on the first track “Boys ‘Round Here”.  This song is a great kick off for the album. It has a lot of attitude and gets those toes tapping! Another talent musician to appear on the album is Gwen Sebastian on the track My Eyes”.  Whatever you are doing Blake, keep it up brotha cause it is working well for you!! He should start getting ready to clean up the Grammy awards with this new album for sure! Can’t wait to see what is next!

Track Listing:
1. “Boys ‘Round Here” (featuring Pistol Annies)
2. “Sure Be Cool If You Did”
3. “Do You Remember”
4. “Small Town Big Time”
5. “Country on the Radio”
6. “My Eyes” (featuring Gwen Sebastian)
7. “Doin’ What She Likes”
8. “I Still Got a Finger”
9. “Mine Would Be You”
10. “Lay Low”
11. “Ten Times Crazier”
12. “Grandaddy’s Gun”

CD Review: Blake Shelton “Cheers, it’s Christmas”

Blake Shelton
“Cheers, it’s Christmas”
Release Date: October 2, 2012
Label: Warner Bros.
Running Time: 42 minutes

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

In my early years, I would never be caught dead listening to country music.  In the last five years or so though, I have changed that tune quite a bit. Blake Shelton was one of those reasons. His sound is just so unique, enjoyable and he just has this wonderful presence.  When I heard he is coming out with a Christmas (my favorite time of the year) album, I literally got super excited.  The album itself is not just a bland cookie-cutter release though. It is a really great mix of classic tracks and some really fun new country songs. When I first received this album, I kept it on loop for almost 8 hours. Usually you can tell when an album starts looping, not with this one.  It just blends together so well and continuously entertains throughout the whole album.

Blake Shelton is not alone on this album though he has some really great duets as well.  On “Jingle Bell Rock” he sings along with Miranda Lambert and it is a wonderful collaboration. On “Oklahoma Christmas”, which is a very fun track, it features Reba on the track. “There’s A New Kid In Town” is a really sweet song featuring Blake singing with Kelly Clarkson. “Home” features a duet with Michael Bublé  and it is easily my favorite track on the album.  “Blue Christmas” features Pistol Annies and is a great take on the classic song. “Silver Bells,” features a nice duet between by Blake and Xenia.   Blake really nails the track, “The Very Best Time Of Year” as he debuts with Trypta-Phunk. Blake even has a track debuting with this mom Dorothy Shackleford on “Time For Me To Come Home”, which is very sweet as well.

Blake Shelton does not take this reign of ACM and CMA Male Vocalist of the year lightly.  You can tell that he is given 100% in this album just like it was a non-holiday release. If you are looking for a way to get in the holiday mood, this album will surely do the trick and kick-start the season early.  I am also very happy that now “Cheers, it’s Christmas” will easily become a must-listen each year during the Christmas season. I look forward to sharing this album with my friends and family as well and hopefully it will have the same effect it does on them as it has me.  Thanks Blake for sharing your heart with us and delivering a wonderful Christmas album!

Track Listing:
1. Jingle Bell Rock (feat. Miranda Lambert)
2. White Christmas
3. Oklahoma Christmas (feat. Reba)
4. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
5. There’s A New Kid In Town (feat. Kelly Clarkson)
6. Santa’s Got A Choo Choo Train
7. Home (feat. Michael Bublé)
8. Winter Wonderland
9. The Christmas Song
10. Blue Christmas (feat. Pistol Annies)
11. I’ll Be Home For Christmas
12. Silver Bells (feat. Xenia)
13. Time For Me To Come Home (feat. Dorothy Shackleford)
14. The Very Best Time Of Year (feat. Trypta-Phunk)

Lynn Shelton talks about directing “Your Sister’s Sister”

With only three feature films to her credit, Lynn Shelton has built a reputation as a writer with a keen ear and a director with a similar eye. Her last film, “Humpday,” earned her multiple awards, including the prestigious John Cassavetes Award at the Independent Spirit Awards.

Her latest film, “Your Sister’s Sister,” continues her rise as one of the most talented and respected independent filmmakers of her generation. While promoting the film’s release, Ms. Shelton took time out to speak with Media Mikes about her love for the Pacific Northwest and her even greater love: being behind the camera.

Mike Smith: What was your inspiration in writing this film?
Lynn Shelton: The initial kernel of the film came from Mark Duplass. It was a little different. It was a guy and a girl who were best friends and the guy loses his brother. She sends him up to the cabin to be alone and he meets her mother. Her hot, youngish mother. It was going to be a kind of mother/daughter bed switching comedy. It was something he had envisioned making with his brother, Jay. But because it dealt with a dead brother Mark felt that it might be a little too close to home for them to handle as filmmakers. But he liked the idea still so he brought it to me with Jay’s blessing. And I made a few changes. I set it in the Pacific Northwest, where I set all of my movies. I just finished my 5th filmthere. I live in Seattle and I love to work in Washington state. And I also changed the mom to a sister. I always liked the idea of exploring a sister relationship…I’ve had an incredibly fascinating and rich love/hate relationship with my sisters my whole life and I thought it would be rich territory for a film.

MS: As a writer do you encourage your casts to improvise?
LS: I do. Well, in this case, for sure. My last film, “Humpday,” was 100% improvised in terms of the actual dialogue. I knew what was going to happen in each scene but we would talk before hand. Then we’d turn the camera on and they would find their way through the scene. In this film I actually had most of the dialogue written out. But I asked them to just hold the words loosely in their heads…don’t memorize the lines. It was really a quest for naturalism. I wanted the audience to believe that these people were having real conversations.

MS: You kind of touched on the fact that Mark Duplass is also a talented writer/director. Is it harder or easier to work with someone with that experience? Not to the point that he would second guess you but would he step back and offer advice?
LY: Not really. It’s a very open environment on set and everybody is contributing a lot. All of the actors. And I find that his experiences as a writer and director are really very invaluable. His input is really, really valuable. He never tried to overstep his bounds. He’s always an actor. I like to engage my actors…I like them to bring everything they’ve got to the table. I find it an incredible value.

MS: And as someone who also acts it might be easier to see where they’re coming from in certain situations?
LS: Yes. And that’s why I still like to keep my toe in that discipline. If somebody asks me to do a role and I’m able to…if it’s small and not too time consuming…I like to say “yes” because it keeps me close to that process. It also reminds me how difficult it is and what ittakes to do it. So you’re right. I am extremely empathetic with my actors. I try to create an emotionally safe work environment. That gives them the best chance of giving their best performance.

MS: Since we’re on the subject, have you decided to remain more behind the camera or is there still an acting role out there you’d like to do?
LS: I’ll never say never but right now I’m just so in love with directing that it’s hard for me to imagine taking on any kind of major acting role. But there may be something that comes down the line when I have an opening in my schedule that feels like the right thing to do. So I don’t want to put a total nix on that. But I’ve really just fallen in love with directing so it’s kind of hard to imagine taking acting seriously at this point in my life.

MS: You mentioned that you just finished your next film. Can you talk about it or what else you have coming up on your schedule?
LS: Sure. We wrapped shooting about five weeks ago. It’s called “Touchy-Feely.” My other films have been three character pieces and I wanted to get away from that. This one has an ensemble cast. It’s not a typical “Lynn Shelton” film. It’s a real departure. It was a great deal of fun to shoot.

Hank Williams III talks about new solo albums

Hank Williams III has recently released four new solo albums. These albums were the first to be released by William’s newly formed label Hank 3 Records. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Hank 3 about what it was like releasing four albums simultaneously.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the idea of releasing four albums simultaneously?
HW3: For me I wanted to try something different. There are many different angles. Doing something different was the first one. The second part for me was trying to make another mark in musical history. I am standing on my own two feet. People can look back on my career and see that I did quite a few different things with the family he was from. A third reason is I haven’t been able to sell a CD at any of my shows in almost 18 years. I wanted to be able to give the fans a chance to see all the different sounds and a chance to also buy them. I don’t know if I will ever have that much focus or drive to do that amount of work again in a short period of time. There are all kinds of things that prompted me to push myself a little harder and do something un-standard. I also kicked off Hank 3 Records with these releases. What better way to do it than to come out of the gate strong.

AL: What made you decide to start your own label?
HW3: Basically I am going through one lawyer instead of five or six. I have less people trying to tell me what I can or can’t do. It’s pretty simple what I am trying to do. I am making music and touring. When I get a chance to work with another musician I don’t want that opportunity shut down. I have always known my sound. Henry Rollins gave me some advice a long time ago about only really needing a good distribution company as the other stuff is already in place. I kept his words very close to me. So far things have not been an issue. However if it starts cutting into my creativity then I might think about changing it up. Right now it is just another way of trying to become more hands on.

AL: Did the writing/recording process vary at all between the four albums?
HW3: The country is always a bit more serious to me. I have to worry about pitch and the tone as well as the timing. I take that a lot more serious when I am working on the country sound. At night I would do a lot of the “ADD” and “3 Bar Ranch” stuff. It was a good way to end the session and wind things down. For a couple of months it was working from the time I got up until the time I went to sleep. Things were full on. I have always been that way when I have been working on the country stuff. You have to be sharper with that stuff. The other material I am playingmostly by myself so things are less intense. There are no outside players coming in and needing your ideas explained to them.

AL: What interested you in using different auctioneers in the back ground of the “3 Bar Ranch” album?
HW3: I have always looked at cattle auctioneers as different singers. I thought the speed of the auctioneers combined with the speed of heavy metal were a good mix. I lost more than 60% of the guys I wanted to use on that album because they didn’t feel comfortable with what I was doing. I was trying to explain to those guys that they weren’t going to like the music or understand it but I was in no way making fun of their industry. I wanted to offer inspiration to younger auctioneers in a different way. I also wanted to give maybe aspiring bull riders a different kind of music to get all amped on before going on an 8 second run. There are quite a few angles but it just goes back to doing something out of the box and different. This album is only for select people out there that might get into this kind of stuff. For me it was a lot of fun. I pushed myself to some other limits as a player. It was a good way to end all of the records.

AL: Did you use samples of auctioneers or did you actually go out and record at various places?
HW3: Basically I would have to try and track the guys down. A lot of them already had stuff up on YouTube. I would call and talk to them about what I was doing and make them an offer. Everyone got offered the same deal. It didn’t matter if you were 17 years old or one of the highest paid auctioneers out there. I just told them this is what I was offering and would they want to be a part of it. When I started losing like 60% of the guys out there I went and recorded a few local people. I did all of the Tennessee auctioneers in person. There were a few guys that were really helpful. Some of the older guys have started to see what I am doing and they have gotten a feel for what it is. I am being a little different but trying not to be disrespectful. At times people don’t quite understand creativity or art views.

AL: What has it been like playing these albums live?
HW3: It’s been fun. By the time I get to the “3 Bar Ranch” stuff we are about 3.5 hours into it. We have taken the audience through a lot of different moods already. For that last little segment it’s pretty intense. For me it’s a lot of fun. When everything is right it feels great. For now we have to work around samples of the auctioneers. One day it would be great to find the right kid who can do that stuff live and correctly. Until then we have to work around the samples. We have done 5 tours with “3 Bar Ranch” so far. There are still some people hanging out at the end of the show who come up and tell us their minds have been blown. It’s always good when you leave an impression on someone.

AL: Personally is there one of the four albums that stands out for you above the rest?
HW3: It just depends on which way you are looking at it. Creativity wise a lot more went in to “Ghost to a Ghost” and “Gutter Town”. This was only because of all the outside players and effects. There was a lot more work that went into that as opposed to “Cattle Callin” and “ADD”. It is intense but not as intense. That stuff is a little more fun and I don’t have to be as strict on myself. It’s like taking a break in a way. The hardest part out of all of this was the mixing. Each album is special to me in its own way. People seem to recognize more with my roots in country music more so than in rock or heavy metal. I try to make sure I deliver some stuff to the hardcore fans out there.

AL: Do you have any more tour plans for these albums?
HW3: We are getting ready to do a Mid-West run which will be sort of a short tour. From there we will be heading over to Europe for about a month. That will take us through mid July. When I get back from that and I take some time to put myself back together we have a west coast run scheduled for August. We are possibly trying to get into Canada as well.

AL: Do you think you will be back in the studio anytime soon?
HW3: Once I break even. I have to keep working until I break even. Once that happens and everyone is satisfied then I will be able to think about that. For me I can’t get creative until I get everything back level.