The Direct Buzz September Issue 2013

Page 1

Carl Jackson “Nashville’s Hidden Impresario”

Sherrill Blackman Behind The Desk

Darden Smith Beyond the Song The Indie Way The Writers Round Now Media Three Questions for Radio APD Global Radio Indicator Charts Featured Artists & Killer Tracks September 2013

8 Cover Story – Carl Jackson Multiple Grammy Award winner and APD “Artist Ambassador” Carl Jackson shares in an interview with tDB his influences and experiences during a career that spans decades, from appearing on the Grand Ole Opry stage at fourteen years of age to a decade plus artistic relationship with the legendary Glen Campbell where he grew and excelled. Carl’s latest project, Grace Notes, is an inspired guitar instrumental portrait of dearly loved hymns and is just another milestone on a career path that began when he was just eight years old and already a prodigious talent.

16 Behind The Desk – Sherrill Blackman An interview with Sherrill Blackman, Founder & President of SDB Music Group – Nashville, TN, in which he shares with us some of his successes as an accomplished song plugger and publisher, talks about his time at Buckhorn Music with Marijohn Wilkin and shares how the lessons he learned there continue to influence him today. He also offers advice to independent songwriters and new song pluggers just getting started in the music business.

34 Beyond The Song – Darden Smith Austin-based singer-songwriter Darden Smith sits down with tDB to discuss some of his various songwriting programs including The Be An Artist Program and the SongwritingWith:Soldiers Program in which he uses collaborative songwriting to encourage creativity in young students as well as a way to help soldiers and veterans tell their stories.

32 The Indie Way:

Social Media Aids Independent Artists

4 The Writers Round:

Interview with 9giants songwriters of “Monster


33 Three Questions for Radio:

Interview with Wildman Steve –

WildmanSteve Radio

14 Now Media:

The Importance of Radio Followup

26 Killer Tracks: Townes Van Zandt, Burning Bridget Cleary, Larry Cordle 27 “Stranger” Things Can Happen 30 Featured Artists: Winners of tDB “Buzz About You” Artist Contest 38 APD GLOBAL RADIO INDICATOR CHARTS™ ---------------------------------------------------------------PUBLISHER & FOUNDER: Robert Weingartz ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Lynda Weingartz DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS: Alexandra James CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Michael Harnett, Clay DuBose, Alexandra James, Fred Boenig, Rich Mahan, Rick Moore, Ryan Smith, Elsie Sycamore, Mark Logsdon ART DIRECTION: Aleven Creatives (

---------------------------------------------------------------© 2013 by AirPlay Direct, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

FROM THE PUBLISHER As we move into the second half of 2013 AirPlay Direct continues to grow and prosper at an extremely high rate. We are very proud that AirPlay Direct now delivers more Bluegrass, Folk, Americana and Blues music to radio globally than any other company in the world. AirPlay Direct currently has over 36,000 artist / label members and over 8,500 radio station members in 85 countries globally. September will mark the 4th edition of the Direct Buzz since our re-launch. The hardest part of putting together this great magazine is going through the selection process of which artists to highlight and feature. After many hours of debate, I believe the Direct Buzz team has put together another exciting edition that will hopefully entertain you, and maybe you just might pick up a tip or two along the way. The Direct Buzz cover for September features Mr. Carl Jackson. Carl has had a tremendous career along the way that includes many accolades and awards including 3 Grammys. Carl is truly a “force of nature”, starting out as a young prodigy, growing into a musical virtuoso and eventually becoming the man we all love and respect, “Nashville’s Hidden Impresario”. AirPlay Direct is also pleased to announce the promotion of Alexandra James to the post of Director of Operations for both AirPlay Direct and the Direct Buzz. As always I would like to thank the APD Executive team and all of our partners for their dedication, professionalism and on-going support. With fine regards and respect,

Robert Weingartz Chairman & CEO, AirPlay Direct Founder & Publisher, the Direct Buzz Founder & Executive Director, Collective Evolution

THE WRITERS ROUND by Alexandra James

9giants “Monster Mouth” From the CD: Bright Lights. Empty Spaces. the Direct Buzz (tDB): 9giants’ new CD Bright Lights. Empty Spaces. features the single “Monster Mouth”. What was the inspiration for writing “Monster Mouth”? Where did the concept come from and what was the driving force behind it? Eric Hulstedt (EH): During the writing process I sing along in a stream of conscious fashion until some lyric or phrase comes out that I find interesting. The first line of the chorus came to me and I built the story around that. I am a big fan of Dexter so I used that as my inspiration to write the remainder of the lyrics. I watch a lot of sci-fi TV and movies so I like to write stories around those themes. It also makes for great content marketing. tDB: Tell us about the creative process and development of writing “Monster Mouth”. What all was involved? Mark Matson (MM): Musically, the song started from a sample loop I got from a video I shot while on tour in Chicago. There was a drummer playing on the sidewalk. I grabbed a few bars and looped it. Eric came up with the signature guitar riff around it, and we had the nugget of the song. Eventually we threw out the sample.

EH: I then took the basic song structure home and spent hours developing the lyrics and melody for the verse and chorus. Once I was happy with imagery/action verbs/ melody/flow, we tracked the song. tDB: The 9giants formed and began as a project to complete some previous writing sessions between you both. What kind of mind set does it take to sit down and co-write and are any other members of 9giants involved in this process? MM: We’ve always had a collaborative musical connection as we were learning our instruments. I came from bands that would sit around make stuff up all the time. I really never learned any cover songs until much later. EH: Mark and I have a lot of the same influences musically so it is

easy for us to come up with music that we both like. We set aside time before recording sessions to try out new ideas we have worked on separately or free form jam. David and Jim attend the writing sessions when their schedule permits. Mark and I spend more time writing together because we work at the studio. “12Monkeys” and “Material Things” were song snippets that David Plagman brought to the table. Anyone can bring in an idea or take part in the writing sessions. tDB: In the new music industry paradigm, how has AirPlay Direct impacted 9giants’ success at global radio? EH: We are just getting started with AirPlay Direct and have already been added to terrestrial and internet radio stations with very little effort. Being able to reach so many stations without send-














ing expensive CD packages is a huge benefit for us. AirPlay Direct makes it easy for us to connect with decision makers at radio stations that may potentially add us to their lineup. tDB: The 9giants film and produce their own music videos and are really into sci-fi, music, film, and technology. Tell us about 9giants’ vision in the making of the video for “Monster Mouth”. MM: The lyrics are about a serial killer, and I think Eric had this hot chick/Dexter concept up his sleeve the whole time. We just kind of tried to copy a Dexter episode, but with a band playing and a hot chick Dexter. EH: I wanted to take some of the key elements of the Dexter TV show and marry them with a female Dexter character. Rather than dressing her up in the Dexter costume, I wanted her to look like Aeon Flux to add a “sci-fi” influ-

ence to the video. This also gave us the ability to content market our video on Facebook to both Dexter fans and Aeon Flux fans. tDB: The video for “Monster Mouth” has had over 200,000 views combined on YouTube and ReverbNation. Tell us your thoughts and feelings about that. MM: I think it’s pretty amazing that the technology is in place to reach such a wide audience, without a label behind us, promoting things. It’s a very organic way to reach the people who may enjoy what we have to offer. EH: We would never have this many views without content marketing our video to Dexter fans on Facebook. Everyone needs a reason to want to watch your video. There is no better way to get people to listen to your music or watch your video than to tie-in with something that already has a large following. Content market-

ing was the key to our success. We were able to gain many 9giants’ fans this way. Our fans then put our music together with actual Dexter video on their own YouTube channels. We have a “Monster Mouth” playlist on our YouTube page (youtube/9giantstv) dedicated to videos that others have made using our song. tDB: At the time “Monster Mouth” was written, who and what would you say were some of your biggest influences? MM: I’m very into EDM, acid jazz, chill music, stuff that really didn’t have much radio play a few years back. I was and still am influenced by Portishead, Massive Attack, BT, the Crystal Method. But I think as a band we find common ground on the Classic Rock and Progressive Rock sounds we grew up on and learned about music from. Yes, Rush, Ozzy, and assorted cheese rock of the 80s.

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Carl Jackson by Clay DuBose


he final notes ring from the 1943 Martin D-28 and the gospel medley “Just as I Am / Softly and Tenderly” comes to a close. This is the last of twelve gospel hymnals performed instrumentally on twelve different vintage guitars by Carl Jackson on his masterful CD Grace Notes. Grace Notes, part of which is spoken word introduction, comes across as a love letter to family, friends, and fans - a project so personal and yet open to all. Grace Notes is another milestone on a career path that began when Carl was just eight years old and already a prodigious talent. Appearing on the Grand Ole Opry stage at fourteen years of age and then on to a decade plus artistic relationship with the legendary Glen Campbell when barely out of his teens, Carl sprung forth into the music industry with talent, desire and dreams aplenty.

As a recording artist, Carl went on to record with Capitol Records, Sugar Hill and Columbia winning a Grammy in the process. As a writer, Carl has received hundreds of cuts with sales in excess of 40 million. As a producer, amidst the many projects in which he has been involved, Carl won another Grammy for “Livin’, Lovin’, Losin’ - Songs of the Louvin Brothers”. And now, after a career that spans decades, Carl’s talent, desire and dreams are undiminished. He approaches his music with the same sense of wonder as that eight year old kid and with an unassuming grace that belies his many accolades and accomplishments. The Direct Buzz is very pleased to present this conversation with Carl Jackson – “Nashville’s Hidden Impresario”. the Direct Buzz (tDB): Carl, at the beginning of Grace Notes you speak very lovingly about your mother and

father. You’ve mentioned that your dad, to this day, is still your number one fan. He also seems to be quite the guitar collector, having provided you with quite a few! Can you speak of your dad’s influence on your career? He must be very proud. Carl Jackson (CJ): I know he is proud and seeing that emotion flow out of him when he talks about something I’ve produced or something I’ve written is special to me beyond words. To this very day, no one has ever believed in me and my talent more than him. I express it that way though because an equal amount of support and encouragement came from my angel mom and precious sister, Dianne. For that matter, my entire family always believed in me and that is a blessing few receive and for which I am forever grateful to the Man above. When I think about how difficult it must have been for them to see me pull out of sight on Jim

& Jesse’s bus at fourteen years old to follow my dream, it brings tears to my eyes. That took more vision, trust, and knowledge that I was doing exactly what God put me here for than most possess. Believe me, it was just as hard for me to see them waving in the distance, but I somehow just knew it was the right thing to do. So yes, I can speak of my dad’s influence, as well as my mom, my sis, and the rest of my family. They loved me. They truly loved me enough to let me go and I love them more than I know how to say. tDB: At the onset of your career, you landed a gig with the great Glen Campbell - a stretch that lasted a long while. This alone would have been a career capstone for many folks. What kind of mentor was Glen Campbell? What did he teach you about music and about life? CJ: After my dad and the rest of my family, I don’t think anyone has had a bigger influence on my career than Glen. Being onstage with him for twelve of the best years of my life was a continuous mentoring session. How many people get to spend that much time around one of the best guitar players on earth and as far as I’m concerned, the greatest singer I’ve ever seen? I not only learned so much from him musically and vocally, but he instilled so much confidence in me. After all, it was GLEN CAMPBELL and he asked me to pick and sing with him!!!! tDB: Was it a difficult decision to leave Glen Campbell or did the move seem like a natural evolution at the time? CJ: It was time. Glen was going through a pretty tough period right through there; I had landed a record deal myself on Columbia, and once again it just seemed the right thing to do. Glen has always continued to do anything he could to help me. He is just like family… in fact, his daughter, Ashley, is my Goddaughter and

I’m so proud of her. tDB: You’ve had quite a stellar career. You are a session player, a songwriter, a producer, and an artist. Do you suppose this versatility has played a role in your career’s longevity? CJ: I think it’s safe to say it has. People ask me all the time what I love to do most in the industry. My consistent answer is, “the combination of all of them”. Playing, singing, writing, producing… they all are equally important to me. Honestly, I think I would go crazy if I was forced to choose one and do that all the time. tDB: Out of the three Grammys you have won . . . .which is your favorite or made you happiest at the time? CJ: That is a very tough question. First of all, I guess you could technically say there are three, but I have only two actual statues. I produced “How’s The World Treating You”, but the hardware went to James Taylor and Alison Krauss because it was for Best Country Vocal Collaboration. I only received a certificate for that. However, as Producer, I received the 2003 Best Country Album

trophy for the entire Louvin Brother Tribute from which that track came. It was an incredible feeling to go up against Shania Twain and Willie Nelson that year and win out. However, I’m not sure it can match the feeling of winning that first one in 1991 for Best Bluegrass Album. I remember when John Starling and I initially talked about doing the Spring Training album saying to each other that if we were going to do it, we should try to win a Grammy for it. Then it happened… it was surreal. tDB: You have gotten so many cuts. Nashville has a reputation of being a song mill; a virtual assembly line of daily song production. How does your songwriting process work in a manner that’s similar or different to what’s happening around town? When you have time to collaborate, who are your favorite co-writers? CJ: While I was a staff writer at Polygram and Famous Music, I took the more “show up at the office to write” approach, but never was one to write huge numbers of songs per year. I still feel I write my best things when I am truly inspired, either by a personal experience or maybe a great

For July 2013,

Tom Rush’s “Celebrates 50 Years of Music” on Appleseed was #1 on AirPlay Direct’s

folk/bluegrass chart with 830 downloads. Tom Rush: “Celebrates 50 Years of Music”

We have equally high hopes for our next release, available on AirPlay Direct in late August:

“Only Slightly Mad” by the modern master of roots and Americana music, vocalist/guitarist

David Bromberg, produced by three-time Grammywinning producer Larry Campbell, who adds his own guitar skills. Recent Appleseed releases available on AirPlay Direct by Pete Seeger, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Jonathan Edwards, Johnny Clegg and others.

David Bromberg Band: “Only Slightly Mad”

APPLESEED RECORDINGS says, “Thank you, AIRPLAY DIRECT!” Since radio interest in our folk/roots/Americana releases is always on the rise, working with your company has helped us extend our music to an increasing number of stations and locations! •

idea or title that I weave into a story. I don’t co-write a lot these days, but my favorites over the years have certainly been folks like Jim Rushing, Larry Cordle, and Jerry Salley. I enjoy writing with folks who care more about getting the song right than they do worrying about who might cut it. tDB: What has been the biggest surprise in your career and your biggest disappointment? CJ: I’m afraid it will come out wrong, but it’s almost like there haven’t been a lot of surprises. I’m not sure I can totally explain it, but when school mates literally sign your yearbook with things like “See you on Glen Campbell one day” and then it comes to pass, you start to have a quiet confidence inside that hard work and integrity can really go a long way toward making a dream come true. Disappointment… we all have them certainly, but when measured against the blessings God has bestowed on me, I don’t need to even go there. tDB: Country music often has cyclical flirtations with pop music but this go around seems to be the most blatant. Bluegrass has always been a kissin’ cousin of country music but now rock production has usurped some of that influence. Perhaps not so coincidentally, it seems that Americana and now nouveau folk artists are starting to engage the public’s attention. Perhaps this is filling the void left by country music’s temporary abandonment of traditional art forms. Will real country music ever come back? CJ: It didn’t really go away… the term “Country” has just been hijacked to a great extent. All I know is it’s a complete shame that a truly great country ARTIST like Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, or even Glen Campbell would have a hard time getting a major record deal in today’s “country” market. When someone has to tell me how “country” they are

in a song, immediately preceding the obligatory screaming guitar solo… well, something just doesn’t line up there. “Today’s Country” can’t hold a candle to “Yesterday’s Rock” and appeals to me about as much as listening to a “Beyonce Sings The Stanley Brothers” record. Big Band music was the biggest thing in America at one time. I have no idea, but maybe some brilliant record executive decided they could reach a younger audience if they’d just continue to push the envelope. In my opinion, Bluegrass is filling the void to a certain extent left by the relabeling of “country” music. Bluegrass artists will still cut a great song even if it doesn’t mention sipping ice tea in a pick-up truck next to a bonfire. Bottom line to me, no matter what label is placed on any music, is whether it’s good or bad. The argument can no doubt be made that the “pet rock” was good, certainly for those who came up with it. I tend to look a little deeper than that and instead only see absolutely brilliant short term marketing. I don’t begrudge anyone’s success, but in the long run, an ounce of gold will always be greater than

a barrel full of “pet rocks” and one great ARTIST in any genre will outweigh a roster full of ACTS. Hopefully, enough great ARTISTS slip through the cracks of the sheep mentality to sustain the greatness found in all genres of music, without any further “hijacking” of labels. tDB: Your prowess on guitar and banjo is well known but you are also a great singer and get a lot of session work as a vocalist. In some of your recorded works as an artist and a producer - you have a real fondness for close harmony singing. Who were the biggest influences on you as a vocalist? CJ: When it comes to three part harmony, the quick and simple answer would be The Osborne Brothers. Their structure of Bobby singing a high lead with the two parts below had a major impact on me. When speaking of duets or just the normal tenor part above the lead, my heroes are many, but the list would certainly have to include Ira Louvin, Jim McReynolds, and Don Rich. As far as having the overall biggest influence on me though, it would have to be Glen Campbell. I don’t believe

there’s ever been a better singer and having the privilege to sing with him for twelve years left a lasting impression. I sincerely think that learning experience is what led to the many opportunities I’ve had to sing with so many of the greats. I suppose analyzing it even further Glen should receive a lot of credit for the wonderful friendships I share with so many of those “one name” artists like Emmylou, Dolly, Linda, Vince, etc… One thing is for sure, without Glen, it’s unlikely they’d know me simply as “Carl”. tDB: One hallmark of your production career is your ability to coordinate multi-artist projects such as the Louvin’ project, the Gram Parsons project and Mark Twain: Words and Music. In these types of endeavors, do you produce all the artists? CJ: Yes, I’ve had the pleasure to work with so many amazing talents while producing those projects. Much of that goes back to the true friendships I’ve developed over the years, but also the longevity and body of work have garnered a trust that I will do everything in my power to make an artist proud of the finished product. tDB: On Grace Notes, you play a Civil War era Martin Parlor Guitar. This brings to mind the magnificent

“Mark Twain: Words and Music”. Hemingway once stated, in essence, that there would be no American Literature without Huckleberry Finn. It would seem that Mark Twain’s legacy has plenty of room for exploration - given the nexus of music, literature and history. Can you share anything regarding future plans? CJ: The Twain project was a complete labor of love and something I’m so proud of. I’m so happy my childhood friend, Cindy Lovell, asked me to produce something to honor the great Samuel Clemens. Cindy and I share a dream to hopefully one day adapt it to the stage and see those words and music on Broadway. It lends itself well… and after all, pretty much everything starts with a dream, doesn’t it? tDB: In 2011, the state of Mississippi honored you with an official Country Music Trail Marker in your hometown of Louisville. Louisville being the town of your birth and where your father still resides, what feelings did this stir inside? CJ: I’ve been told I’m pretty good with words sometimes in my songs, but it’s pretty difficult to string the right ones together when describing this. Mississippi is home… and to be loved by the homefolks cannot be topped. The Mississippi Music Hall

of Fame, the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and the Country Music Trail Marker are honors that mean the world to me. tDB: On Grace Notes you share how Bud Rose gave you your first banjo instruction and how those lessons impacted your life. It would seem a musical imperative in a traditional form like Bluegrass that wisdom be passed on. Now you are giving back. What was it like giving banjo and vocal instruction recently to the students in West Virginia? CJ: I actually taught a songwriting class this year and although the banjo class the first year and the vocal class last year were a lot of fun, this year was a total joy. I had a full class of fifteen wonderful students who understood that a God given talent cannot be taught per se. However, learning how to embellish and polish whatever level of talent is already there is completely possible. I let the students drive the “course” with no questions being out of bounds, from the business side to the creative process. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say we had a blast… I know I did. tDB: You have worked closely with the AirPlay Direct team on your last two records with great success.

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How do you feel AirPlay Direct has affected your success and the success of the many artists you produce that also use AirPlay Direct? CJ: AirPlay Direct is invaluable in making your music available to everyone. I’m not sure most artists, especially those without major label deals, understand how difficult it is to simply get your music into places where it can be heard. Having a great project doesn’t amount to much if no one knows about it. And how is someone gonna want to buy it if they’ve never heard it? AirPlay Direct is a service I recommend highly and without hesitation. tDB: You have now become AirPlay Direct’s very first “Artist Ambassador”. That is quite an honor. Do you have a special agenda for yourself in this new role? And now that you are part of the AirPlay Direct / Collective Evolution family as an Artist Ambassador, do you have any advice to artists, writers or musicians starting out in an industry that is markedly different than the one you entered back in the early 70s? CJ: First of all, what an honor Robert and Lynda Weingartz have bestowed upon me! There can only be one “first” and I’m truly grateful for their trust and belief in me. My goal is to educate other artists about the importance of a service like AirPlay Direct and the light it can potentially shine on their career. The industry has changed and will continue to change, but it’s not all negative. In fact, there are a lot more ways to take more control of your own destiny these days and not have to constantly battle the “man” or the “machine”. AirPlay Direct is a big positive!!!! My advice is use it! tDB: Carl, thank you for your words and music. We look forward to much more over many years to come. CJ: It has been my pleasure, Clay… thank you sincerely.

by Rich Mahan

The Importance of Radio Followup Greetings fellow AirPlay Direct Artist Members… In the last issue of the Direct Buzz, Now Media talked about a step by step guide to using the AirPlay Direct DPK (Digital Press Kit) feature to promote your music directly to radio programmers, and customizing your message with HTML images to give it a branded look. So you’ve now sent your DPK out to your list of radio contacts, and look at that! Your music is being downloaded and checked out by radio programmers across the globe! Off and rolling… But wait, you aren’t done. Oh no, and in fact, here’s where some very critical work begins that can really make a difference in the success of your music and your music career. There is a feature on your AirPlay Direct account that allows you to pull a report and see exactly who has streamed, and more importantly, who has downloaded your music for airplay consideration. After logging in to AirPlay Direct, click on TRACKING in the left hand menu. This opens and gives you two options to choose from, pick PROFILE STATISTICS. For this article, we’re going to focus on your Song Stats tab in the graphic that should now be open. The top window shows you your total downloads for the past twelve months, and the window below that shows your song downloads. Click on any of the vertical blue/grey bars in this “song downloads” window. A new page will open up that shows your total downloads for the last month, and below that (Here’s the meat and potatoes) is a list of all the

programmers who downloaded this song of yours. There are two links for each entry, a web address for the radio programmer’s show or station, and a link to open an email form so you can send them a message. This is where you can get down to business and follow up with each of the programmers who have downloaded your music. Click on the name of the radio station, and a new window will open with the aforementioned email form. Fill in the required fields including your name and email address, and then put in your subject line. I like to thank them for downloading the music right here, with something that reads like: “Thanks for Downloading music from My New Album.” In the message field, you have the opportunity to ask them if they have added your music to their playlist, ask them to add your email address to their weekly playlist emails (Most programmers send out a weekly email blast with their show’s playlist included), offer them copies of your CD for on air giveaways, offer to cut a radio ID for their show, offer an interview… the possibilities are endless really. Not all will reply, but when they do, make sure to capture their email addresses and add them to your database of contacts, so when you send out another DPK blast, you can include them. This great feature allows you to follow up and make the most out of your promotional opportunities, so make sure you spend the time to follow up with those radio programmers who support you!

Sherrill Blackman SDB Music Group the Direct Buzz (tDB): You knew that you wanted to be in the music business early on in your life and you set out from Dudley, North Carolina to Nashville with a purpose. What kind of songs and artists were you listening to as a young man that made you fall in love with music and the music industry? Was there a defining moment for you when you decided that the music industry was your destiny? Sherrill Blackman (SB): Well, I didn’t know early on that I wanted to be in the music business. I really actually didn’t know there was such a thing as the music business. I just knew I loved music, just being a fan. I think the defining moment was when I found out about Belmont College here in Nashville. They had degrees in music business with classes in publishing, management, record company operation and studio work and when I found out about Belmont it was a revelation. From that moment on, I knew that I had to be in Nashville. As far as the music I grew up listening to, I was exposed to country through my parents. They always listened to county music and always had the country shows on television when they aired, but I was really into rock & roll, whatever the music was that was playing in the early 70s, well the whole 70s actually. People laugh when I tell them that I was actually a metalhead listening to heavy, heavy metal like Black Sabbath and groups like that. So when I got into

by Clay DuBose

country music, my parents were quite amused based on what I’d grown up listening to. tDB: It’s funny you would say that because my parents were, particularly my father, avid country music fans and I grew up on Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath so it was quite a surprise to them when they first figured out what I was listening to. SB: And actually when I moved to Nashville, my goal was not to get into country. My goal, and I laugh at this now because it was so ignorantly arrogant, I thought I was going to change Nashville into rock. I truly thought “Well, I’m going to make Nashville rock & roll music.” And so for the first three or four years until I actually got into the country industry, I was dead set on doing rock & roll and pop. As I got into the country music business I began to learn to love and appreciate country music more and now I really can’t listen to modern music as far as rock. It just doesn’t speak to me. tDB: I feel the same way. There’s not a lot of modern rock music that’s very compelling to me at this point. When you look for great songwriting

and musicianship, much of it can be found in country. SB: A lot of today’s pop and rock music is just derivative of something that came many, many years ago. tDB: I think a lot of rock fans feel the same way because there has been some migration. SB: That’s why artists like Jason Aldean and Brantley Gilbert and Lady Antebellum . . . these artists have strong pop rock overtones to them and I think the fans plug into that. tDB: When you graduated from Belmont you got some great experience at NSAI, but Buckhorn is where

it kind of came together for you. Now Marijohn was an important influence on Kris Kristofferson in his early career. What was the most important thing that you learned from Marijohn at Buckhorn that you’ve carried with you throughout your career? SB: Wow, that’s hard to measure because there were things that she would teach me or try to teach me at the time that did not make sense and didn’t make sense until years later when I would be involved in something and then all of the sudden the light bulb would go off like “Oh, now I get it.” “Now I know what she means when she said whatever she said.” It’s like “Okay, now I understand.” I had to grow into her wisdom. tDB: Lessons that you continued to learn throughout your career. SB: Everyday something is revealed in the business that she tried to teach me years ago that I was just too young to understand. She was just that advanced. tDB: When you left Buckhorn and decided to form SDB, was that a difficult decision for you or did that just sort of evolve on its own? SB: It kind of evolved on its own. When I left I’d taken Buckhorn as far as I could take it. Marijohn, as gracious and generous as she was, really didn’t want to spend any more money keeping the company growing and vibrant like I thought it should. So we had a discussion about it and she said “I can tell I’m holding you back. I know you want to do more than I’m able to allow you to do.” So I turned in my resignation and she gave me her blessing. I had kind of been promised jobs by other companies. They’d say “If you ever need a job come look us up and we’d love to hire you and have you work here.” So that’s what I did when I left and all the sudden none of that stuff came through and it’s like “Okay. Well now what do I do?” Then I had a couple of guys, one was a hit writer and one was with a small publishing company, call me and

they said “Well, we know you’ve got the connections. Have you ever thought about maybe doing some independent plugging and we would pay you to do this . . . to represent our catalog.” And I thought “Well that never occurred to me, but I’m not doing anything else so I’ll definitely give it a shot.” And that was in the fall of ’94 and I haven’t looked back since. tDB: Well they say that the greatest inventions are born out of necessity so there you go. SB: But it just happened to me. Once the ball started rolling, then I started getting all these calls from other writers and other publishers wanting me to represent their catalogs because they knew that I had been around town for a few years. I knew the producers. I knew the A&R folks and it just worked out.

tDB: At this point in time how many writers do you represent and how many songs? SB: As of right now, I usually keep my roster very small and very exclusive. I usually keep it at 5 or 6 catalogs and that way everybody gets their songs pitched. tDB: And how many songs is that . . . just ballpark? SB: Well probably upwards of 1,000 songs. tDB: You must have an encyclopedic knowledge of your catalog where it’s just indexed in your brain. SB: Yeah. I don’t think the good Lord blessed me with many talents, but the one talent that I did get blessed with was the ability to remember a lot of songs. Now with that said . . . I couldn’t sing them to you. Even growing up I could tell you who the artist was, the

record label, the year it came out and what chart position it attained. I just had this knack for learning that stuff and it applies to what I do now. I just have a mental rolodex of all these songs. tDB: From time to time do you go back through parts of your catalog just to refresh your ears and to fall back in love with songs that you remember? SB: Absolutely. There are some songs that really don’t reveal themselves to you on the first few listens. It may take eight or ten listens before they speak to you. Just like on the radio… you may hear a song that doesn’t do much for you, but after you hear it a while it grows on you. tDB: What song placement has given you the most pride? When you look back so far, is there one song that always comes to mind? SB: The cut that I’m most proud of is George Jones. It was a song called “Sinners and Saints”. I mean George Jones is a legend and that to me is the ultimate cut. Close behind that is Don Williams and then another cut that I’m extremely proud of is a song that is a lesson in tenacity. There is a song and you’ve never heard of this artist, but she was on Equity Records for a while until they closed. When she cut that song, I knew I had pitched it a bunch. I just didn’t know how many so I went back through my pitch records, which went back only 10 years, though I know I had pitched it 3 or 4 years before then . . . . I counted 162 pitches before she cut that song. tDB: Was it put on hold a number of times over that period? Would you come close and then have it just fall through? SB: Yeah it was put on hold a couple of times through there, but I pitched it to every artist. Anytime a female artist would come up for recording I would pitch it and it would get passed on. People would kind of like it and they would take copies, but this artist, her name was Laura Bryna, she had the vision. She saw it and she said “I’m gon-

na cut that.” And that was, like I said I counted 160 some pitches before she cut it and that was only going back 10 years. So it was probably the one I’ve pitched the most before it got cut. tDB: Well I guess timing is everything. It’s the right song at the right time for the right artist. SB: Yeah. Exactly. tDB: Have you ever had a song that in your mind was a slam dunk? I mean basically akin to holding a winning lottery ticket, but then you had it rejected by everybody and you just couldn’t understand? SB: Yeah. My biggest frustration was a song that went on to win every award it was nominated for. It was called “Three Wooden Crosses”. tDB: Randy Travis. SB: And I didn’t pitch it to Randy. That’s a whole other story. I first heard that song when Doug Johnson, one of the writers, played it for me in his studio and it just knocked me completely out. I told Doug . . . I said “Doug, please, let me run with this song. I mean this song is just a monster.” So I got on the phone to a bunch of people and went by and played it for all the different A&R people and all the producers, their assistants and managers and everybody I played it for passed on it and I was so frustrated. I mean I can give you a

laundry list of names of huge, major artists that passed on that song and I called Doug about 2 weeks later and said “Doug, I can’t tell you how frustrated I am. People are just not getting this song.” And he said “Well, it’s been pitched to Randy Travis so hold off pitching it and let’s see what’s going to happen with Randy.” Well, it went on to be the biggest hit of his career. So, yes I was extremely frustrated on that one. tDB: Do you ever have a song that you really love get cut, but in your mind perhaps by the wrong artist, so that it just doesn’t become as big of a hit as it could have been? SB: Oh yeah. That’s happened several times. tDB: I know it’s a little bit of an odd question. I’m sure you’re happy to get a cut. SB: It is so competitive and so difficult to get a cut, especially in today’s environment. I’ll take any cut I can get, but yes there have been a few times when the cut just didn’t measure up. It was kind of disappointing to hear the final version. tDB: Do you have an ancient uncut song in your catalog, one of the first you ever represented to which you are just as committed as when you first heard it?

SB: Sure. Yeah. That record that I told you about, the 160 some pitches, I’ve got one that I have probably pitched more than that over the past probably 15 years that I have pitched and pitched and pitched. People have liked it. One artist loved it, but said it cut a little too close to home so that’s what scared them off and I don’t know if I will ever get that song cut. Maybe it’s just one of those that just isn’t meant to be. tDB: Well, that speaks well of your passion and your tenacity that’s for sure. SB: Like a dog on a bone. I mean you wanted another story and I’m not bragging, but I had a song that I really, really believed in and I was told that for this particular A&R person over at Atlantic you go and you sit and wait in the lobby and when he has time he will summon you in. So I went over there one afternoon and sat there for about 3 hours and he finally comes out at the end of the day and he says “Well I don’t have time today. Come back tomorrow.” So I went back the next afternoon and I sat there for about 3 hours and waited and he came back out at the end of the day and he says “Well I’ve got a bowling game today and I don’t have time. Come back tomorrow.” So I went back the next afternoon and sat there

for about 2 hours and he finally came out and he looked around the door and he said “You must really believe in this song to keep coming back.” And I said “I do.” So I went and sat down and played it for him and he flipped out and played it several times and he said “Man this would be perfect for John Michael Montgomery. I’m going to send it to him. I’m going to overnight it to him and if he loves it, he’ll call you.” And sure enough about 2 days later John Micheal called me and they cut it. Now that song I’d pitched, that was like the 40th pitch on that song. tDB: With so much older catalog do you ever get discouraged? I know you’re always getting new songs as well from your writers, but how do you and your writers deal with these periods of inactivity where you just kind of sit around and wait for the lightening to strike? That must be a big part of song plugging . . . the virtue of patience. SB: Yeah. It takes extreme patience. In fact, I get taken to lunch sometimes by some of these young kids who want to get into plugging and publishing and they are in such a hurry up mode. They want it right now. They don’t want to work for it and when I try to explain to them that it takes years to get to the level of doing what I do and have success, they don’t want to hear that.

tDB: I imagine that it would be so difficult for a new plugger to get started with the politicization of the music industry, all the in-house pluggers at the publishing houses. It must be almost like a writer trying to get a hit song. SB: Yeah. It’s just these young kids. I don’t want to make a blanket statement because not everybody is this way, but there is this sense of entitlement that some of these younger kids have. They really don’t want to work. They want to start on top. They don’t want to pay their dues working on the bottom. tDB: Do you get a sense of this with writers too . . .that new writers come to town and want to get a song plugger right away? There are a lot of pluggers in town as you know. SB: Well there are and these kids they come to town and not just kids but even older writers that may not have had success, they think they are going to bypass the system of working with a publisher and learning the ropes and all of that. They think they’ll hire a plugger and it’s going to be their shortcut to fame and fortune and I can’t tell you how many dozens and dozens of times that I’ve had to explain to people that’s just not the way it works. You can go hire somebody and they’ll probably end up just taking your money because there are some scam people out there. So you always have to be on the lookout for that. tDB: I would think that having some sense of quality control would be fundamental to your reputation and long-term success. You’ve got to maintain the quality of the stuff that you’re pitching. SB: I do. In fact, just yesterday I turned down a situation where I was called by an attorney representing the estate of an older writer that had had several hits back in the 50s and 60s and early 70s. He had explained that these songs were old work tapes that were done during that time period and they sounded old and I was honest with him.

I was like “I can already tell you I can’t do anything with that stuff.” And I said “I would be real leery of anybody that tells you they can because they probably are just only going to be doing it for the money.” tDB: The production and the arrangements sounded dated? SB: Yeah and I’m already running into that even with current songs that I think are pretty fresh and contemporary. I’m going into some of these meetings and I’m being told that they sound a bit old school, which is kind of shocking and frustrating sometimes. tDB: The music industry in Nashville has changed dramatically with the emphasis on pop/rock production. Should writers create based upon what’s happening right now for a specific artist and the current style or given that things are supposedly cyclical, do you encourage your writers to write songs that are more timeless . . .to try to write a “For the Good Times” for instance? SB: I encourage writers to write a great song for the sake of it being a great song that will be timeless because like you said it’s cyclical and what’s going on right now two or three years from now is going to be something completely different and if I have to pitch a song for three or four years, it’s got to be relevant at that time as well. I do encourage them to listen to radio to at least keep up with what is going on so they can be aware of that, but not to chase a trend because once you start chasing a trend you are behind the curve. I want writers to write something that’s going to lead the trail. In fact that’s one of the things that Marijohn told me that she used to tell Kris Kristofferson . . .that when he would come in and bring her songs, that he was writing behind the times and that he needed to get out ahead of the curve. He did that with a song called “Darby’s Castle”. That’s the stepping stone song that I tell writers to reference if they want to study Kristofferson. That song is the

one that took him from writing behind the curve. Once he wrote that and the light bulb went off, then he went on to write “For The Good Times” and “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Help Me Make It Through the Night” and “Sunday Morning Coming Down”, but it was that song that was the touchstone song for him. tDB: This was “Darby’s Castle”? SB: A song called “Darby’s Castle”. Now by today’s terms it is going to sound dated, but it was cutting edge at that time. tDB: Writing in Nashville is such a volume-based enterprise, a daily deluge of new songs and the emphasis on co-writes is a big in Nashville versus the more insular rock writing tradition or even the Texas troubadour singer/ songwriter school. Do you ever encourage your writers just to write on their own, to produce some undiluted ideas or to stick with creative partnerships that are proven? How does quality over quantity balance out when writers seem to get caught up in this “I have to write a song a day mentality?” SB: That is a great question. I encourage writers to never forget how to write by themselves. There is just something beautiful about a singular thought or a song idea that isn’t diluted like you said by another thought pro-

cess. Unfortunately in today’s political environment and also because of the mindset that has been perpetrated upon the masses of songwriters, people use co-writing too much as a crutch and they do it for political purposes and I understand all that. For example, and I’m really proud of this, I just got a cut on Alabama’s brand new comeback CD that will be coming out on August 27th and the song is called “All Americans” and it was written by one writer. Trey Bruce wrote it by himself and as I’ve told people, bragging on Trey, about this cut, I’ve always added that he wrote it by himself because that is such a rarity in today’s environment. tDB: Congratulations on that. That’s inspiring to hear the process still exists, people still writing their own songs and getting cuts. SB: Yeah. Basically it’s called Alabama And Friends and it’s them performing their old hits with guest artists. It’s kind of like what Lionel Richie did last year. We’ve got one of two brand new songs on the album and I just found out this morning that it is supposed to be their first single, so we are really excited about that. tDB: There are so many writers’ nights in Nashville. Do you ever get out and attend those things or do find that they are somewhat of a distraction from

your own catalog? Do you kind of keep the blinders on? I’m sure you work on a referral network for new clients, so it’s not like you have to be out there prowling at writers’ nights. SB: I used to go to writers’ nights. In fact, I went almost every single night for about 15 to 20 years and it just got to the point where I got tired of hearing bad songs. I will not go to an open mic night. I just refuse to. I will go to a writers’ night if a friend of mine is playing or some hot new writer that somebody wants me to check out. I will do that, but just to go to a writers’ night for the sake of going, I haven’t done that in years and for two reasons. One, like I said I got tired of hearing bad songs and secondly, one of the unfortunate side effects of having success, I couldn’t go and enjoy myself. People were always wanting to corner me, shove CDs in my face or sit and ask a bunch of questions and I just got tired of that happening so I just quit going. tDB: You’re a celebrity. SB: Well in some circles I guess I am. I don’t look at myself that way, but in those circles I guess. When I walk in the door, I’ve actually heard people start whispering and pointing and it gets uncomfortable sometimes. tDB: I can imagine. Let’s talk about just the mechanics of pitching for just a couple of minutes. When you’re pitching a song, if you’re in a pitch session, other than perhaps mentioning the writer if the writer is well known, do you basically just let the song speak for itself or do you call attention to a specific lyric or melodic phrase to accent the pitch? Do you find that a dynamic song just really does its own talking? SB: I usually try to let the song speak for itself. I’m not a hard seller. I’ve heard stories and horror stories from people that got beat up by pluggers going in and being like used car salesmen and just really doing the hard sale and I’ve never. I tried it one time and it wasn’t comfortable and it didn’t work. So I just decided I’m just going to do it

my way and just let the song speak for itself. Now with that said, there are two different approaches I will take. One, if it’s a project that I feel I’ve got songs specifically for, I will cast according to that project. Say if it’s Sara Evans or if it’s Rascal Flatts and I’ve got songs that I feel are in that direction, I will do that kind of a pitch. The second kind of pitch is sometimes I’ll just set up a meeting . . .say I’ve gotten in two or three really great new songs that I just love and that I just want somebody to hear to see if they’ve got a fit. So, I’ll do that kind of a pitch and I’ve actually been more successful doing that. Just taking in things that I love and hopefully they’ll love them too and if they don’t like them they pass on them. Instead of getting mad and frustrated like I used to do, I walk out of there saying “You know what, I still love these songs and I’m going to find somebody else that will love them too.” tDB: On that note, do you find that the producer or the A&R person or the artist, even know what type of song they are looking for half the time or are they just waiting to get blown away by something? SB: That’s a great question. They can sit there and tell you they know what they’re looking for, but they really don’t. tDB: I mean other than up-tempo versus a ballad. SB: They kind of know in a ballpark. I’ve even had people tell me “Here’s what I’m looking for…” So I would go in and I would play them songs according to what I was told and they would pass. They would go “Well yeah, I know that’s what I told you, but that’s not really what I meant.” And so you have to kind of go “Okay, well why don’t you tell me what you meant.” And then they would go into a different explanation and it’s like well why didn’t you tell me this before instead of wasting my time or wasting your time. So I’ve learned before setting up some of these meetings to ask some really point-

ed questions to give me a better idea of what they are talking about. Because sometimes some of these descriptions, I’ve found out depending on their age, even the words they use can mean different things. If you’re older traditional means one thing and to somebody who is younger traditional may mean something completely different. tDB: That makes sense. SB: I mean to me traditional is George Jones and Merle Haggard, but for somebody that is 22 years old traditional may mean…. tDB: The early 90s. Clint Black. SB: Clint Black or Garth Brooks or Tracy Lawrence or Clay Walker. So I have to kind of get a gauge of where they are coming from. I’ll even ask, if it’s an artist, who are your influences? What cover songs do you perform live that really speak to you? The best question I ask is what songs that have been out there as hits do you feel like would have been perfect for you and when they start giving me those examples it helps me zero in on what they’re all about. tDB: And I guess it’s pretty much about the hits at this point and not the album cuts right? SB: They do reference album cuts. So what I’ve got to do is go and do my homework and go to YouTube or Spotify and listen to the examples they have given me if they are album cuts. tDB: Do you get a call from a producer at times as they are in the midst of tracking and all of the sudden they find out that they need one more song. Perhaps a song didn’t pan out and they need a last minute replacement. Do you get any of those kinds of situations? SB: That’s happened before and usually it’s an up-tempo. They can find the ballads pretty easily. It’s usually the up-tempo stuff they have trouble finding and I try to concentrate on providing people with tempos unless they tell me something specifically different. tDB: In the music industry currently with the decline in physical units

and many artists co-writing their own material, it seems like the opportunity for placement just from a sheer numbers standpoint would be less than it used to be. SB: Absolutely. tDB: Do you find that you’re really looking for pure singles at this point out of economic necessity or is it just getting any cut on the record? What is your primary driver at this point? SB: Well basically just trying to get it cut because until then they are not going to tell you…. tDB: You don’t know what the single is going to be anyway? SB: We wouldn’t know. This Alabama thing was recorded two or three months ago and they’re just now telling us it’s “supposed to be the single”. I preface it with “supposed to be the single.” But yeah, we go for the cut. We hope it’s the single, but all that stuff is out of our control. I don’t really waste time or energy worrying about that kind of stuff because it’s nothing I can control. One of the things I’ve had to kind of adapt my business model into because of the political co-writing going on is to try to set up the writers I represent into those co-writing situations as well just to have a chance to get on a project. So yeah, I do some of that as well. I don’t like it because I would like to think that they would be looking for a great song, but I know for a fact that a lot of these situations are keeping it in-house. In fact, I got an email from a producer yesterday who said exactly that. That there was a project he was working on, but they were all writing it in-house with the artist. tDB: You’re also a publisher and you’ve gotten placements in other genres. . . bluegrass, gospel. Is this a growing part of the SDB business? SB: Yeah. It’s growing more now. This has probably been my best year as far as getting songs cut as a publisher, but it’s been my goal all along since day one back in ’94 to be a publisher because I’ve had that training at Buck-

horn. So I’ve always been a publisher. It’s just that more success has happened within the past year, especially in bluegrass. I’ve been getting a lot of cuts in bluegrass that I’m the publisher on and I like that a lot. There’s some cuts up in Canada that I’m the publisher on and I’ve actually got an independent single out right now for which I’m the publisher. There are two writers. I’ve published both of them. One is ASCAP and one is BMI. So it’s going to be real interesting to see which one pays more. I’ve always wondered about that. So I’ll be able to see firsthand. tDB: When you look at the success of a Mumford & Sons, or some of the older country artists doing bluegrass or Americana, I don’t know if you can call it a backlash, but there does seem to be a part of the public that is looking for more traditional forms. SB: Yeah. I think they’re kind of disillusioned by some of this modern – what they’re calling country. It’s just too slick, pop/rock oriented and aimed at the younger audience. An older listener, an older fan still prefers a more traditional sounding kind of music and in bluegrass there are a lot of great artists that are doing not the nasally, twangy bluegrass that most people think of when they think of bluegrass. It’s really hip, cool, acoustic oriented type stuff, real melodic and energetic.

There are a lot of great artists in bluegrass and they don’t have to fix them in the studio. They can actually sing. tDB: Speaking of traditional, do you ever see a traditional sound ever coming back? At least more traditional relative to today, at least going back to the early 90s or something a little bit more nostalgic in that sense? SB: I would love to see it come back more. That’s just me as a country fan. Warner Bros has a new kid named William Michael that is 18 and I’ve heard a couple of things and he’s the real deal. He kind of sounds like a Keith Whitley and then Curb has got a guy named Mo Pitney and I haven’t heard anything on him, but I’ve been told he is a more traditional oriented artist. Usually what happens, what it will take is one artist breaking through and having success and then everybody jumps on the bandwagon and says “Oh, let’s do that for a while.” That’s what happened with Randy Travis in the mid 80s. You know Country for all intents and purposes was kind of dead. Ricky Skaggs was kind of doing country and George Strait was doing country, but Randy Travis was the one that broke through in a big way and kind of got country back on the map because we were coming out of the Urban Cowboy thing and the real slick pop stuff with Kenny Rogers and Lee Greenwood and

Gary Morris and those guys. So Randy kind of brought it back around to real country and then here comes Vern Gosdin and some of these other guys … Alan Jackson and all of that. So I think it’s going to take one breaking through to really make people stand up and take notice. tDB: Well it’s like that cyclical thing that we were speaking of earlier. That’s why your recommendation to writers to go for the timeless versus what happened last month is always good advice. Do you have time to listen to music anymore just for the music’s sake? Do you ever have time to listen to some old rock stuff or just some old favorites? SB: Oh yeah, to kind of cleanse the palate. tDB: Otherwise you have ear fatigue if you just listen professionally. SB: Exactly. That’s why I love Spotify. A lot of people don’t like it because of the royalty situation. They don’t pay much to the creators as far as royalties, but as a music fan I love Spotify. I’ve been able to rediscover some things I haven’t listened to in a long time and then also SiriusXM satellite radio. I listen to a lot of the non-country stations to hear what else is happening in other genres just to keep up with what is going on there, but mostly as a music fan I listen to Spotify. tDB: Do you get any plugging work out in Los Angeles for other modes of music delivery as in film or TV or are you pretty much locked into the Nashville eco-system particularly since a lot of the world has come to Nashville anyway? SB: Early on I approached LA and Hollywood as much as I could to kind of see if I could get any placements in film and television. I did get a few things. It got up to a certain point, but it took so much time and energy that I realized that it really takes somebody doing that full-time to explore and exploit in those markets. So basically unless somebody approaches me, I’ve still

got some contacts that every once in a while will email me looking for specific things, I don’t go looking for it like I used to. I found that they don’t like split songs and most of the songs I represent are from two and three writers and they don’t like split copyrights. They like one stop shopping. A lot of independent artists or independent writers probably have a better chance if they have written something by themselves to place something better than I do, so I just kind of stay away from that. In other genres, again if I hear of things in other markets like pop or jazz or gospel, I’ll pitch to those markets, but they take up so much time to explore. Country is my main focus. Bluegrass comes second. I would say that probably gospel a distant third and then other genres. When I get requests for stuff then I’ll explore those, but mostly country. tDB: So when you’re able to disengage from music what are your main recreational interests? What are you into when you have time to get away from it all? SB: Sports. I’m a huge college basketball fan. So when it is college basketball season, I’m always watching games. I catch a baseball game every chance I get. I’m a big Atlanta Braves fan, so I’ll try to catch their games as much as I can. I started working out, so I’ve been going to the gym a lot. So I’ve kind of gotten into that. As far as television, I watch the entertainment shows, all of the educational shows like the History Channel and Discovery and things like that, anything where I can learn something. Traveling. I’ve been fortunate to travel across the country and through Canada, but that was usually working type situations, but it gave me a chance to travel. I enjoyed it, to be able to see things I’ve never seen before. tDB: Well you’ve been very, very fortunate in your career to do what you love and you’ve accomplished the goal that you had when you first got to Nashville. Do you still love the industry as

much as you did? Do you still have that same flame burning inside? SB: I do. I really do. Through the years, it’s been tempered by the reality of the politics and the politics still frustrate me, but I still love the challenge. I love being a detective and uncovering possibilities that can be done on Music Row away from the politics, finding the cracks that a lot of these big companies overlook. In fact, my whole career has been based on finding the cracks. The major companies always look at just only the major artists and I kind of find the up and coming people before they get discovered. That’s what happened with LeAnn Rimes. Nobody had ever heard of her and I just got real lucky by pitching stuff to her when she was 10 and who would have known she would have gone on to become who she is. So I kind of try to find situations like that. I get up everyday and that’s my challenge. I can’t wait to see what the new day is going to bring. That’s what gets me up every morning. tDB: You have to wear a lot of hats. You’re a detective. You’re a salesman. You have an artistic temperament. If there is a song plugger personality then you’ve got it because you’ve done very well for yourself. SB: And also wearing the business hat because in publishing what a lot of writers don’t understand is even after the song is recorded, if I’m the publisher, I’ve got to take care of all the licensing paperwork and then just because a song has been licensed doesn’t mean that they are going to pay royalties. So then I have to be a bulldog and go after it and make sure that people get paid. I’ve had to threaten legal action and stuff like that just to get people to pay royalties. Most writers live in this little dream world that the money is just going to start rolling in, but they don’t see the behind the scenes activities of people having to fight to get people to pay. You’re right. It is a lot of hats, but I wear them proudly and without hesitation.

The Direct Buzz offers reviews by a team of professional music critics. Any AirPlay Direct artist or label interested in being considered for a review should contact us. Choose three songs from your DPK, and we’ll give you our opinion of them. We can’t guarantee a rave review, but we can assure you that it will be honest and constructive. We will try to honor all requests, but it might take awhile. As such, your patience is appreciated.

Townes Van Zandt “Sunshine Boy”

Burning Bridget Cleary

Pressed for Time

Larry Cordle Pud Marcum’s Hangin’

While Townes Van Zandt may not have enjoyed the type of commercial success in his lifetime that might be expected for such an influential artist, his legacy of incredibly powerful material will undoubtedly continue to inspire future generations of songwriters. Townes impacted such artists as Neil Young and Bob Dylan with songs that seem to have an almost eternal resonance. Covers of his tunes recorded by Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, and other stars have helped to make several of his compositions bonafide classics of the genre. Sadly, no amount of critical acclaim and peer admiration could save him from his own trappings of alcohol and drugs. It’s been approximately 40 years since many of the demos and unreleased cuts on “Sunshine Boy” have been heard by anyone, and they are just as relevant today as they were then. His colorful poetry, signature voice, and finger-style guitar playing all shine in the simple and raw demos of songs like “Highway Kind” and “Standin’.” There is a subtle darkness, alluring beauty, and refreshing honesty in these demos; they reveal the inner workings of a master craftsman with a tortured soul. Ryan Smith

Burning Bridget Cleary has been described as a Celtic folk band, but this writer finds that comparison a little off the mark, because this band is way beyond Celtic. Comprised of two female fiddler/vocalists, a guitar player and a percussionist, the band does an excellent job of incorporating a traditional Irish/Scottish vibe into an Americana sound that draws from several genres, echoing the work of several groups who do all things acoustic and maybe even a little electric. The ladies demonstrate their ability to play their fiddles in tune, no mean feat, on the album’s opener “Pressed for Time/ Bonnie Mulligan,” to what is more of a classic rock progression than traditional Celtic. Sweet a cappella harmonies set the tone for “On a Sea of Fleur de Lis,” and “Oh My Little Darling/Fire on the Mountain” is a bluegrassy/squaredancy romp. And although it’s been recorded by numerous artists, the group’s take on Jay Ungar’s emotional modern standard “Ashokan Farewell” from Ken Burns’ The Civil War is nicely done, capturing the heart-rending mood of the piece. This group is tight, tasteful and talented, and should attract some mainstream attention with this album. Rick Moore

Larry Cordle may be best known as a Nashville songwriter who has composed works recorded by Garth Brooks, Mountain Heart, Loretta Lynn, George Strait, Alan Jackson, and his long-time friend Ricky Skaggs. At last count, his songs have appeared on records selling a combined total of over 55 million copies. Even with his illustrious career as a songwriter, Larry has managed to consistently perform and record with his band Lonesome Standard Time, as well as his Trio (consisting of his two long-time friends and Nashville heavy-hitters Carl Jackson and Jerry Salley). Larry’s current CD, Pud Marcum’s Hangin’ is a successful collection of bluegrass and country tunes. The title track is based on the life of the historical James H. “Pud” Marcum. Pud was publicly executed for the cold-blooded murder of his second cousin, Fisher Marcum. The fact that Cordle was raised on a small family farm in eastern Kentucky may have something to do with his fascination of Pud, who was also a Kentucky native. On this record, Larry sings from the heart about religion, death, infidelity, justice, and takes you on a musical journey to a simpler time. Ryan Smith

“Stranger” Things Can Happen Everything can change in the blink of an eye. For sisters, Brechyn Chace and Larissa Chace Smith of Americana duo The Hello Strangers, this happened in early January 2012 when an email from CEO of AirPlay Direct, Robert Weingartz, dinged into The Hello Strangers’ inbox telling them they had won the company’s “Win An Americana Record Deal” contest. “I was 6 months pregnant, sitting at the kitchen table, passively checking emails,” recalls Larissa. “The email from Robert was certainly a jolt to the system.” They were awarded the opportunity to work with Nashville producer, Steve Ivey, of IMI Music, along with many other talented industry professionals that would help the duo create a successful album through radio promotions, PR, and marketing. It was the opportunity of a lifetime for two sisters from a one-stoplight town in rural Pennsylvania. What has changed for the sisters since their big win is by no means your typical path to success. From

giving birth, changing band members, and working on the legalities of the contract, it has already been quite a journey for The Hello Strangers. The Direct Buzz sat down with Larissa and Brechyn to find out more about their background, the contest, and what can be expected from their long-awaited album. The Direct Buzz (tDB): Can you tell us how you came to write music together? Brechyn Chace (BC): Sure. Many people don’t realize, but I’m 6 years younger than Larissa, so even though we grew up together, we didn’t start collaborating on anything musically until we were living in Austin, TX in 2004. Being immersed in the city’s

by Elsie Sycamore

unique array of honky-tonk, country and folk music was the perfect recipe to start writing our own music. We started creating a catalogue of tunes and came up with our name, The Hello Strangers. Larissa Chace Smith (LS): Then in 2007, after a year of writing together, we got really homesick and decided to move back to PA. It was an impulsive and potentially risky decision. No one would ever tell an aspiring musician that they should move from the Live Music Capitol of the World to a town of 1,200 surrounded by corn fields. But it has been such a boon for us. It’s cheap and there’s nothing to do here, so you make your own fun! We formed a band and started build-

ing a name for ourselves on a regional level. In 2009 we recorded an EP with our bandmates. We have come a long way since then, but it was ultimately those 6 tracks that helped us win the contest. tDB: Larissa, you attended Berklee College of Music in Boston before moving to Austin. What was it like moving from rural Pennsylvania to downtown Boston? LS: I started at Berklee when I was just 17, fresh out of high school. I had lived in a few cities abroad when I was a child, but this was my first time moving to a city on my own. Honestly, despite certain things being intimidating, I was so excited to go to Berklee that I was able to look past the scary stuff. It was actually the only college I applied to since it had a contemporary music curriculum. Can you believe my parents would let me do that? That trust they put in me showed me the importance of putting your faith in something and believing things will work out the way they are meant to. I had 4 great years at Berklee and learned everything from film scoring to songwriting and music business. I graduated in 2001 with a Bachelors of Music. It was a proud moment. tDB: So you go from Boston to Austin, and back to PA. Then along

comes this opportunity with APD. Tell us about your experience winning the contest. BC: Well, we already had an AirPlay Direct DPK and were on their email list. So when we got an email from them inviting musicians to submit to win an Americana record deal, we couldn’t pass up such a genrespecific opportunity. When you are a musician working in today’s business model, you get used to managing a gazillion online profiles promising to help your career. This opportunity from APD felt different, so we beefed up our DPK and hit the submit button. LS: Then we forgot all about submitting! I was pregnant and getting ready for another huge life-changer. I wasn’t thinking about my music career the day that email showed up from Robert. But we were totally thrilled about the prospect of winning and knew we couldn’t pass up this opportunity. We were in the process of making a new album and had started a Kickstarter campaign. But the APD contest came along just in time to kickstart everything for us in a way that we wouldn’t have been able to do on our own. tDB: So then you had some life changes and hurdles to jump after the contest win. Tell us about that.

LS: Yes, right after the win I was into my last weeks of pregnancy, so we put a lot on the back burner temporarily. My son, Boone, was born in mid-April, and of course for several months he was my main priority. BC: In the meantime, dynamics were changing within our band and we had two members leave. Luckily, it all happened amicably, but it was still a lot of time and energy getting through it. One great thing about all the time that passed was that we wrote a bunch of new material, a lot of which is slated for the album. And we got to know Steve better, which made us even more excited about recording with him. But of course the contract had to come first, which took a few months. Fortunately, everyone at APD has been incredibly patient with us. We signed the contract in June and immediately started the recording process. We’re working with a great team at APD, and we’re all anxious and excited to see how things turn out. tDB: Can you give us any insider hints about your forthcoming album? LS: There are 13 tracks slated for the album, 11 of which are originals, and 2 very unique versions of songs we feel a strong connection with. The first is a song by Jim Lauderdale, whom we really admire and who plays a major role in the Americana music scene. The other is a song sung by Doris Day. We had mentioned to Steve that our grandfather, Ron Chace, had sung with Doris Day when he was with Les Brown’s Big Band. Steve encouraged us to pick a song that would highlight this connection to our grandfather. It’s going to be a great way to reconnect with our roots. BC: We’re currently pushing the button on a lot of factors for this album such as a touring, PR, etc. We are aiming for an early 2014 release. This has all been very humbling, surreal and exciting! The Hello Strangers Photo Credits: Ryan Smith Photography


The Toobes Hard Rock / Classic Rock / Rock & Roll The Toobes formed in Minsk, Belarus by the boys Stas Lomakin (drums & lead vocals), Konstantin Pyzhov (guitar) and Stas Murashko (bass & vocals) who at that time were 17-23 years old. The band plays an explosive mixture of hard rock & rock ‘n’ roll and all tracks are the bands’ own. The Toobes are expressive and dynamic and the audience is drawn by the powerful and positive energy of the band members. --------------------------------------------------------------------------Listen here: ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Craig Davis

Sylvia Bennett

Mary Beth Cross

Country Americana / Folk-Rock

Jazz / AC / Pop

Americana / Folk / Country

Craig Davis is a fresh faced storyteller with an old soul. Having played around Memphis, at bars and music festivals, Craig has always wanted to share the stories that he has crafted. “When it comes to songwriting, ideas are everywhere.” Craig says. With songs ranging from the happy-go-lucky honky tonk to heart breaking ballads, you’ll find a collection of songs that explore life and emotion and ask as many questions as they try to answer. -------------------------------------------Listen here: --------------------------------------------

Grammy nominated international recording artist and songwriter Sylvia Bennett sings of love and romance with a warm and smooth vocal delivery that leaves you longing for more. Her passion for keeping the Great American Songbook alive has resulted in a repertoire of music that shows her love for the timeless standards. Her goal of making people happy motivates her to continue bringing music and joy to the world.

Mary Beth’s music is influenced by the rural farmland and forests of her Wisconsin upbringing & the Rocky Mountains where she currently resides. Her new release Beyond Good and Evil is a folk Americana collection of new and familiar tunes inspired by the spirit and grit of the pioneers that settled the way West. Mary Beth’s musical influences began with the early folk music of Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Kate Wolf and many more. -------------------------------------------Listen here: --------------------------------------------

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By Mark Logsdon

Social Media Aids Independent Artists The importance of independent artists having social media is increasing as each day passes. Social media is an outlet that independent artists need and have to have in order to expand their career. The more social media sites you have, the more exposure you are getting if you know how to use it correctly. The big plus about it is… IT’S FREE!! What more could an independent artist wish for when it comes to spreading their music and expanding their fan base than a free site! The four social media sites that can aid the most are: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Facebook Facebook is a social media site where you can create a profile with photos, lists of interests, contact details and other personal information. This site is a more detailed site than the other sites listed below. Under a personal Facebook profile, artists can create a “like” page for their music. To do this, you simply log on to one’s personal Facebook page, locate the navigation bar on the left side of the page, scroll down until you see the “pages” section and click “Create a Page”. An artist can then set up their page by following the prompts. Add your concert dates, videos and pictures to let fans stay in touch with you and your music. To make an artist Facebook profile be as successful as possible there are some key points that one must avoid doing.

For an example, follow in the footsteps of major label client Grace Potter www. Twitter Twitter is a social media site that lets users send and read “status like” messages based on 140 characters, known as “tweets.” The use of hashtags (#) on twitter is becoming increasingly popular and can help an artist tremendously. Say an artist is releasing a new single or you want to have a contest, you can have your fans hashtag a certain phrase so that all of those “tweets” are grouped together. For example, #NewMusic is used by Andy Velo and his fans whenever he releases lyrics for his new singles. There are things to do to make an artist’s Twitter more successful.

Don’t use hashtags (#). Even

Don’t link your Twitter to your other social media sites! No one wants

to see the same thing on every site you have. Each site trends differently, however, you do want to have the same content throughout your social media pages. This helps drive traffic between the pages. Don’t forget to interact with your fans. It is impossible to respond to everyone, but try to get back to at least a couple of fans each day. Don’t over hashtag. It makes the tweets hard to read. Make sure to use hashtags that are searchable… Good example: #thisisamerica, bad example: #ifonlyhewere40yrsyounger

For example check out: www.twitter. com/andyvelo YouTube YouTube is a video-sharing website where users upload, view and share a variety of video content. For an independent artist, this can be essential in expanding a fan base. For example, along with her music, artist Jessica Frech does a segment called “Driving With Frechie,” which airs every Thursday. In this segment, she goes behind the scenes on her latest videos, shares her thoughts on her musical progression since last week and answers fan questions. Like every other social media site there are things that can help make an artist’s YouTube page successful. •

• •

though everyone uses them on Twitter and Instagram, Facebook is not the place. Hashtags are now on Facebook, but you have to make sure that they are recognized correctly when using them. Even though they are now on Facebook people still tend to not like seeing them on their newsfeeds because it looks like spam. Don’t sync your games to your profile. No one cares how many points you earned on “Candy Crush.” Don’t “check-in” to places that are not legitimate places, i.e “My House.”

If you are filming from a phone, don’t film vertically. Make sure you film horizontally. Filming in what is

• •

deemed portrait style creates these irremovable black spaces on each side when it is posted to the site. Spread out your uploads. Don’t upload more than one video at a time. Don’t leave the description area blank. Give a description and then put your other social media links into that section.

For examples check out: com/user/jessicafrech Instagram Instagram is an online photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking site. Users can take pictures and videos, apply filters and share them. The unique thing about Instagram is the photos are a square similar to Polaroid images. As an artist it could be beneficial to post your flyer for an upcoming show/event. Instagram can be successful if you remember the following: • • •

Don’t spam your followers. Don’t over use hashtags. Don’t use Instagram solely for advertisement. Make it personal.

For examples of artists that maximize Instagram check out Drew Holcomb With a general idea of which social media sites can best help an independent artist it is now time to try it out. Be sure to remember not to over post or link your sites together. These four aren’t your only options either. For many artists, you may find you connect best on Pinterest, Google+, Bebo and even MySpace is trying to find its footing with the relaunch. I don’t think any of us thought that our old MySpace login info would ever be needed again. One last note of advice: If you are posting from a phone, make sure to double check spelling. You don’t want any awkward autocorrects. Remember this is to help your fan base grow. Make your fans feel like friends.

THREE QUESTIONS FOR RADIO by Fred Boenig This month on “Three Questions” we interviewed Wildman Steve – WildmanSteve Radio. the Direct Buzz (tDB): What is your station, location, format and how long have you worked there? Wildman Steve (WMS): My station is the internet-only WildmanSteve Radio, broadcasting 24/7 at and www. I broadcast out of my studio in Auburn, Alabama. The format is not one that you can pigeonhole with one term, as we believe “Good Music Knows No Genre.” What results is a wild amalgam of great music, ranging from Classic Hits, Deep Catalog Classics, Country, Bluegrass, Americana, Blues, Reggae, Funk, Jazz, even some Swing and Old-Timey Vaudeville. Unlike most internet radio, I run my station just like it was a broadcast station, i.e. I do my live show Monday through Friday 10am-2pm eastern time, and provide a home for many great syndicated shows. tDB: How long have you been a member of AirPlay Direct and why do you use AirPlay Direct? WMS: I’ve been a member of AirPlay Direct for so long, I can’t remember when I joined! I believe it was around 2004 that I became a member, the same time I became the PD at WQNR. It was then that I began finding interesting new artists using the service, and have been doing so ever since. Soon after I began using AirPlay Direct I found some interesting syndicated shows using the platform to make their shows available to radio and I continue to download several of my weekly shows from there.

tDB: Tips for Independent artists on AirPlay Direct, one tip on what not to do with release page and songs and one tip what you should do with release page and songs. We want your insight to assist our artists in how they present themselves to radio on AirPlay Direct. WMS: When I am sent an email to check out an artist’s page, I want to go there and 1. read a short but comprehensive bio 2. see a picture 3. have one or two songs highlighted as “focus tracks.” With the sheer volume of music that arrives in my mailbox, I have little time to surf through endless sites and listen to song after song looking for the “one.” I want to see professionalism and attention to detail, there are too many wannabe musicians out there throwing a few tracks up hoping for a “break.” That said, if I like the focus tracks, I will download and use them, but I’ll want the whole album in order to get a bigger picture of the band and their album. Many of my colleagues prefer to download the entire album, I will request a hard copy as I am oldschool. If you have vinyl, I will request that. What not to do: if you do not hear from me, do not invade my inbox with a constant flow of requests to listen to your music. I give everyone a visit when prompted the first time, but if it doesn’t do anything for me, I move on and I have no desire or time to listen more until your next album. Period.

By Michael Harnett

Darden Smith Darden Smith is an Austin-based singer-songwriter who continually redefines what it means to be a musician. With thirteen critically acclaimed albums in his 28-year career, Smith is breaking new ground in education, entrepreneurship, and the ways to use the craft of songwriting. Smith founded THE BE AN ARTIST program nearly a decade ago and his seminars to encourage students to explore creativity through songwriting have reached more than 15,000 students across the United States and Western Europe. His SONGWRITINGWITH collaborations find him teaming with, among others, U.S. soldiers transitioning to civilian life after combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, homeless youth in New Jersey and HIV-affected villagers in Africa. the Direct Buzz (tDB): Could you give us an overview of your songwriting programs. Darden Smith (DS): 10 years ago I started The Be An Artist Program and the reason for that was I wanted to find a way to talk to students about creativity and after doing that all over America and in schools in Europe as well, I started getting asked to do a lot of different projects and the first one that I did was a conflict-resolution project with Israeli-Palestinian young adults where I saw the power of using collaborative songwriting to help people cross over boundaries. Then I was asked to start going into Covenant House in Newark, New Jersey, which is a homeless shelter that takes in youth and I used songwriting in that project to sort of get them to see that their creativity and who they are

is powerful and to show them how to tell their story. And so those projects, The Be An Artist Program, the conflict-resolution work and then the Covenant House, put me in a really good place. So when I met some soldiers and I started talking with them and I realized kind of what the issues were, I kind of saw this opportunity to use songwriting as a way to help soldiers and veterans tell their story. What I have seen through all of this is a) the power of songwriting and songs and b) the power of collaborative songwriting, when you are actually sitting down with someone else listening to their story and they can feel you listening to their story enough to write a song with it, there is something really magical that happens there. tDB: Now when you started the original project with kids was there a particular event that inspired that?

DS: Yes, I went to my daughter’s preschool class. They asked me to come in and sing songs to the kids and I knew absolutely zero kid’s music and I don’t really like kid’s music and so I would say “Well I don’t really know any songs, but I can write some songs with them.” So I went in with these really young kids, they were like 4 and 5, and we wrote a song and it was a real simple song. I think the song was like “I wouldn’t want to be a rubber duck because the rubber duck has to stay in the bath all day.” And we wrote it with all these different animals and stuff and what happened was the next day, I went to drop my daughter off at preschool and the kids were on the playground singing the song and a couple of days later I was there and I realized that these kids were singing the song, but they had made up their own verse. They had made up their own verses and I

realized that this was a very powerful thing. So I went back to the school like a week later and we recorded the song and we recorded all these verses that we had written and then the verses that the kids had written and I realized that this was really an amazing experience in this sort of thing that I take for granted, songwriting. tDB: How did you go from just you doing these to where, with some of your ventures, you are involving other songwriters? DS: Well, the first one where I realized that I needed to bring other songwriters in was with SongwritingWith:Soldiers. The first time I went and worked with soldiers was in Colorado Springs and I spent a couple of days writing songs with different soldiers and I realized after like 3 sessions, I was writing like 3 and 4 songs a day and emotionally I couldn’t handle it for very long because the stories are too hard and are so deep and there is a transfer of emotion when a soldier writes a song with one of us. It’s like when someone tells you their story, depending on your emotional makeup, you either really absorb that story or maybe it can roll past you but for me I’m the kind of person, I just absorb it all. I think the actual psychological term is secondary trauma. You actually absorb someone else’s trauma and I realized that I can’t do this, just one person, it’s too much. However, I know that with co-writing sessions, you sit down with somebody, you’ll have a good 30 minutes and then your brain will kind of slow down and the other co-writer can pick up then and they’ll kind of carry it and you kind of carry each other and I realized that if I was in a room with 2 soldiers or like a soldier and another co-writer then we could help each other in those times when it got to be too much. I just felt like we could do a larger number of people and then the concept of doing retreats where we actually

went away. We went somewhere for 3 days and we spent 3 days writing songs as groups, as in soldiers – this person matched with that person – do all kinds of different combinations, but you have to have more than one writer there to do that. tDB: So when you are talking to your fellow songwriters about these projects it’s a certain type of songwriter. It’s not just about your ability as a songwriter. It’s the makeup of that person to be able to function in this environment. DS: Right. It’s a certain kind of writer and it’s almost beyond that, a certain kind of person. Of course you have to be able to write songs and you have to be able to collaborate and you have to have the craft of that down and then you have to be willing to listen and you have to be willing to make the song not be about you and you have to be able to look into someone else’s story and see that the whole song is going to be based on their word, their story and not every writer wants to do that or can do that. So we sort of look around to find the right team. tDB: With the SongwritingWith:Soldiers, you are looking to re-create this at more bases? DS: Yeah. We always operate off-

base. We usually do the retreats near a base or near where a significant number of military community lives, but yeah, the first 2 of them we did in Texas near Fort Hood. In August we are going to upstate New York and then we have plans, we are talking to some people out in California. We are talking to people in South Carolina, Kentucky, and all those places. So there are a lot of different options out there. tDB: Do these people approach you or are you approaching particular people? DS: Well people are finding out about the program and so they are getting in touch with us. You know, would you be interested in bringing this here, we would love to help support it, let’s make it work. There is an organization behind this. This isn’t just me. It’s a team. It’s a team effort. tDB: Do have particular rules that have to be met by people to have your services other than that the costs are covered first? DS: As far as people getting the services of these 3 complete different programs, with The Be An Artist Program the school has to be interested, they have to make time and give the space. With the Covenant House, if there are kids there, if there are young adults there, we are go-

ing in and we’re going to write some songs. The only restriction would be that they can’t be violent. And with the SongwritingWith:Soldiers, we deal mostly with Iraq and Afghanistan Vets. We haven’t really gone into working with World War II or Vietnam Vets at this point even though there is a huge number of those men and women out there. tDB: With The Be An Artist Program, are there follow up materials that schools can then ask to use after you are done? DS: We are creating that right now. The Covenant House what we do there is we give them the songs. All the people that write the songs, they get the songs. With SongwritingWith:Soldiers we are more organized because the one thing that I’ve found is that I’m not an organizational person. There is a dedicated executive director there, Mary Judd, who is amazing and she follows up. They all get books. We make books and CDs from the retreat. They get those. tDB: Your biggest need is funding for all 3 programs? DS: Yes, the biggest need is funding. It gets down to things have to be paid for. Each SongwritingWith:Soldiers retreat is recorded, so we have re-

cording costs. Eventually there will be a record made and so there will be more recording costs and manufacturing and all that stuff that goes into making a record. tDB: And those records will be used to raise funds? DS: Yes, used to raise funds and also pitch the songs because some of these songs are really good and I would love to have other people recording them. tDB: Now when you do these songs with these people and obviously like you said with Covenant House they get the songs, do you help them in getting it published and copyrighted? DS: We register the writers, the soldiers and the kids at Covenant House, with ASCAP and so they are considered co-writers on the song. tDB: How would a songwriter contact you about participating? Obviously a good number of them are going to read this interview and our company AirPlay Direct works with a lot of singer/songwriters and I’m sure a lot of them might be interested. DS: They can contact me through the SongwritingWith:Soldiers website which is or they can contact me through my website which is

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Coming Soon! The “Cord� Files: All Star duets with: Dierks Bentley, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, terri clark, kevin denny, diamond rio, Alison krauss, Kathy mattea, del mCcoury, Daryle singletary, Ricky Skaggs, Travis tritt, and trisha yearwood

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