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Roots & Boots – 90’s Electric Throwdown
March 25 @ 7:00 pm
Roots & BootsSammy Kershaw, Collin Raye, & Aaron Tippin
Saturday, March 25
Doors 7 PM | Music 8 PM
Ask one of his countless fans – or even one of his peers, and they will tell you that Sammy Kershaw definitely qualifies as a Country Music original. In a day and age where individuality isn’t something that is sought out as much as before, when you hear a Sammy Kershaw song about heartbreak, love, or good times – you know who it is. You don’t have to be told. And, in a career that has seen some amazing highs over the past thirty-five years, the best – as they say – is yet to come.
Growing up in Kaplan, Louisiana, Kershaw was enthralled with the masters at an early age – names like Conway Twitty, Mel Street, and George Jones. In fact, as a teenager, Kershaw had developed such a reputation for his vocals – even then – that he was often called upon to open for those acts, and others like them. Jones was so impressed with Sammy that he frequently used him on his shows whenever he was playing in the region.
Of all the artists that Kershaw has worked with over the years, it very well might be Jones that left the most impact. From the moment that he released his debut single for Mercury Records, “Cadillac Style,” critics and fans all made the comparison. Rather than run from them, Kershaw embraced them. After all, that stone Country sound was what Sammy Kershaw was all about – and that’s what he was going to give his fans! “Cadillac Style” made it all the way to No. 3 on the Billboard charts, and from there (to quote Jones), the race was on! Follow-ups such as “Don’t Go Near The Water” and “I Can’t Reach Her Anymore” established him as one of the finest traditional artists of his time, while records like “Yard Sale” showed that haunting Jones influence was very much a part of everything he is about.
In 1993, Sammy Kershaw topped the singles chart for the first time with “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful,” which has become one of the most-played records at Country Radio over the past two decades. Albums such as Don’t Go Near The Water and Haunted Heart were both certified as million-sellers by the RIAA, and only continued to add to his stature. The hits kept coming on the airwaves, as well. He added to his resume such classics as “I Can’t Reach Her Anymore,” “Meant To Be,” his cover of The Amazing Rhythm Aces’ “Third Rate Romance,” and 1998’s “Love Of My Life,” which cemented his reputation as a balladeer.
Kershaw can be found out on the road – both on his own as well as part of the successful Roots & Boots tour with Collin Raye and Aaron Tippin. The three continue to bring their signature sounds to the fans year-after-year all over North America. But, Sammy Kershaw is not resting on his laurels – though he very well could. His 2014 George Jones tribute disc Do You Know Me was his highest-charting project in fifteen years, and has only whetted the appetites of his fans for more recordings. Afterwards, he completed a brand new album for Cleopatra Records that industry insiders are saying is one of the best releases he has ever done. He has also developed quite a strong social fan base via Facebook and Twitter, having done so in an organic fashion – very much one on one, the way he’s always preferred to do it! And, if that’s not enough, Kershaw is putting the finishing touches on his long-awaited autobiography – which promises to be as juicy as a bowl of the gumbo he loves to prepare in his Louisiana home!
So, make no mistake about it. The past has been a great, long-winding road of highs and lows for Sammy Kershaw, but to quote one of his past singles, the goal isn’t to rest on those accomplishments, but to be “Better Than I Used To Be.”
Collin Raye has always been a great storyteller and he’s built a multi-platinum career bringing interesting characters to life. Who can forget the struggling alcoholic in “Little Rock” or the devoted couple celebrated in “Love, Me?” On his new album Scars, Raye is once again wrapping his distinctive voice around a compelling collection of tunes, but this time in addition to writing nearly every song on the 14-track set, Raye has also embarked on a new musical direction and has enlisted Miranda Lambert, Vince Gill and the Black Keys Dan Auerbach to join the journey.
“I’d thought about doing an Americana record for years because, to me, Americana means no rules,” Raye says. “Americana is kind of country, kind of bluegrass, kind of folk, kind of R&B. It’s anything you want it to be. I thought how fun would that be to make a record knowing that cut number one can sound totally different than cut number two and cut number three, number four, etc. And that’s exactly what I set out to do.”
Working with producer David “Fergie” Ferguson (Johnny Cash, John Prine, Sturgill Simpson), Scars is Raye’s first album of all new music in over a decade. It’s a bold musical manifesto that sees the veteran hitmaker delivering an eclectic set filled with memorable stories and engaging melodic textures. “Fergie and I talked about it and I said, ‘I want it to be just really different. I want there to be songs on there that sound like Collin Raye and what you might expect, but I want there to be stuff that no one would expect as well,’” Raye says. “The more we talked about it, he said, ‘I really don’t want to cut anything that you didn’t write.’ And I was like, ‘Wow! Really?’”
As a result, Raye wrote or co-wrote 12 of the 14 tracks on Scars. There are only two outside cuts and they came from the pen of his brother Scotty Wray (the original spelling of the family surname). “Most of the stuff I wrote was new, written just for this record, and for that reason, I’m extremely proud of it because it’s very personal to me,” says the 10-time Male Vocalist of the Year nominee (ACM and CMA). “Instead of just being the singer of someone else’s words, I’m the singer of my own words. I’ve always liked writing, but I was never prolific. I was never one of those guys who wrote two or three times a week. If you look at my Sony albums, I would always have one or two cuts on there, but I never wrote half or more of an album so this was a definite turn for me. I had to really work for this, roll my sleeves up and prove to myself that I’m a good writer. I’m really happy with it. This was such a fun record to make and I’ve never felt so creative on any album.”
Aaron Tippin was part of the commercial explosion of new traditionalist country in the early ’90s, making his name with a mixture of macho, rowdy honky tonkers, sentimental ballads, and patriotic working-man’s anthems. Tippin was born in Pensacola, Florida, in 1958 and grew up mostly on a family farm near Greer, South Carolina, where he first started singing to pass the time while doing chores. He started playing guitar at age ten but also inherited a love of flying from his father, who’d worked as a pilot prior to becoming a farmer. Tippin himself earned his pilot’s license at 15 and began flying professionally before the age of 20. He was studying to become a commercial airline pilot when the industry took a major downturn, which convinced him to return to music. He played the local honky tonk circuit and worked on his songwriting while holding a series of blue-collar day jobs. Unfortunately, his marriage broke up, and with nothing to lose, he finally moved to Nashville in 1986. He landed a job as a staff songwriter at the legendary Acuff-Rose firm, where his compositions were recorded by the likes of Charley Pride, Mark Collie, and David Ball, among others. In 1990, his demo tape landed him a contract with RCA.
Tippin’s debut album, You’ve Got to Stand for Something, was released in 1991; its title cut became a Top Ten smash in the wake of the Persian Gulf War, and Tippin was invited along on Bob Hope’s USO tour. His second album, 1992’s Read Between the Lines, was a million-selling Top Ten smash, producing three Top Ten singles in “I Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way,” “My Blue Angel,” and his first number one, “There Ain’t Nothing Wrong with the Radio.” 1993’s The Call of the Wild underlined Tippin’s penchant for rabble-rousing anthems like “Honky Tonk Superman,” the Top Ten “Working Man’s Ph.D.,” and the Top 20 title cut. The following year’s Lookin’ Back at Myself was less successful, but 1995’s Tool Box returned him to the top of the singles charts with “That’s as Close as I’ll Get to Loving You.” Tippin also remarried that year.
When Tippin’s follow-up singles failed to duplicate their predecessor’s popularity, his relationship with RCA began to fray. They eventually parted ways, and it wasn’t until 1998 that Tippin managed to score another deal, this time with Disney subsidiary Lyric Street Records. He co-produced his label debut, What This Country Needs, which was released later that year and returned him to the Top Ten via the single “For You I Will.” The follow-up, 2000’s People Like Us, became the first Tippin album to make the country Top Five, thanks to the number one smash “Kiss This,” a song co-written by Tippin’s wife Thea. The Christmas album A December to Remember followed in 2001, and Tippin returned with a proper follow-up, Stars & Stripes, in 2002. The post-September 11 anthem “Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly” was a crossover smash, not only reaching number two on the country charts but also climbing into the pop Top 20. An album of trucking songs, In Overdrive, appeared in 2009. Tippin spent the next few years relatively quietly, but in 2013 he set out on the road with fellow country singers Sammy Kershaw and Joe Diffie on a tour called All in the Same Boat; the trio released an accompanying album of the same name in May.