|Saturday, June 15th, 2013 7:30 PM|
AARON LEWIS / BLACKBERRY SMOKE
MAGIC HAT STAGE:
Cold Blue Steel (5:30 PM)
Extra InformationParking Opens: 4:30 PM
Doors Open: 5:30 PM
Audio Recording: No
Video Recording: No
Flash Photography: No
Food & Drink: No
*Non-Professional photography / no zoom lenses larger than 2 inches / no detachable lenses
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Trace Adkins is one of Country music's most accomplished entertainers. His trademark baritone has powered countless hits to the top of the charts and turned albums into Platinum plaques, selling over 10 million albums, cumulatively. The Grammy-nominated member of the Grand Ole Opry is also a television personality, actor and author. He is a spokesman for the Wounded Warrior Program, the American Red Cross and will soon complete his eighth USO Tour.
An esteemed Grand Ole Opry member since 2003, Adkins has built a strong legion of fans by recording songs that possess insightful lyrics and cover a wide range of interests -- many from his own life experiences. With one of the most identifiable voices in country music, the Grammy-nominated artist has had twenty-seven singles land on Billboard's country chart, with 15 breaking into the Top 10. His albums achieve gold or multi-platinum status and three have made chart-topping debuts. He has performed for millions of fans worldwide and consistently sells out venues across the nation. His hard-driving stage show is full of hits, making him one of country music's top headlining- and in-demand artists today.
Already a highly successful country music recording artist, Adkins grabbed the national spotlight in 2008 while earning the respect of Donald Trump as a finalist on NBC's "The Apprentice" (2004) (aka "The Celebrity Apprentice"). Throughout the season, he starred in some of the show's best moments, including the season finale, when more than 14 million viewers tuned in as he performed his # 1 hit, "You're Gonna Miss This". He has since raised more than $750,000 for his charity.
A long-time supporter of the U.S. military, Adkins has traveled overseas for two USO tours, performing for troops stationed in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2007, he was honored with the USO Merit Award in recognition of his dedication to assisting others through charitable works. His 2009 ACM performance with the West Point Cadet Glee Club was made available for download at iTunes, raising more than $100,000 to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization providing extensive support to soldiers who have been severely wounded in combat. In November 2009, Adkins ventured into the comic book world with the launch of LUKE McBAIN, a four-part comic book series whose lead character was based on the country giant's likeness and persona. Every installment has been a big success, with each issue outselling the previous.
His 2007 autobiography, A Personal Stand: Observations and Opinions from a Freethinking Roughneck, the 6'6" oil-rigger-turned-Country star recounted his rise to fame, brushes with death, battles with personal demons and just how the world's biggest alpha-male handles fatherhood - he has five daughters. Trace's integrity and wry humor served him well and has fans eagerly awaiting his return to Celebrity Apprentice All-Stars.
Trace Adkins continues to make his mark as an icon across many pop culture mediums, achieving success in almost every realm of the entertainment business. With more than 15 years under his professional belt, he is still sitting at the top of his game with no sign of slowing down.
"Life is circular. Country just came back to me. It's like the acoustic thing. I did that before the band [Staind]. This is full circle because this was the first music I was ever exposed to as a child." --AARON LEWIS
If you want to get to know AARON LEWIS, just listen to The Road. On his first full-length album, the Grammy Award-nominated, multi-platinum singer, songwriter, and guitarist tells one story after another. Echoing traditional country, some of those tales are hilarious and heartwarming, while others are pensive and personal. Nevertheless, they're all equally powerful, vibrant, and unforgettable. For Lewis, The Road continues to wind and surprise like it always has.
In 2011, the Staind frontman formally arrived in the country world with the release of his debut EP, Town Line. Highlighted by the success of gold-selling single "Country Boy" featuring the legendary George Jones and Charlie Daniels, the seven-song EP reached #1 on the Billboard Country Albums Chart and #7 on the Billboard Top 200 upon release. Critical praise followed: PEOPLE's Chuck Arnold said, "He proves to be a natural on nostalgic ballads like 'The Story Never Ends,' (3/14/11)," while the ASSOCIATED PRESS' Michael McCall wrote, "He injects a flavor of his own into a polished, commercial country sound in a way that could win over country fans who've never heard of Staind (2/28/11)."
Lewis also received two Academy of Country Music nominations for "Vocal Event of the Year" for "Country Boy" (for his work as artist and as co-producer) as well as two CMT nominations--one for "USA Weekend Breakthrough Video of the Year" and another for "Collaborative Video of the Year." Simultaneously, the music video for the single stirred similar fan fervor, surpassing 12 million views on YouTube and 3 million on CMT.com. After a whirlwind year, Lewis began working on what would become The Road in the fall of 2011.
While balancing both a solo run and a tour supporting Staind's self-titled seventh studio album, he carved out intermittent pockets of time to record in Nashville with legendary Grammy-winning producer James Stroud.
"I didn't stop to think about it very much," Lewis smiles. "James lets me run with it. We respect each other and he allows me to really be who I am. I recorded this whole record by bouncing in and out of Nashville on days off. I'd come into town, work for the day, bail out, and play some more shows. Four days later, I'd do the same thing. That's how the album was made, and it's why I called it The Road."
It's a natural progression from Town Line. The album's ten songs unfold with a classic grit and an invigorating energy all directly from Lewis's heart and soul. The first single, "Endless Summer," recalls an idyllic day in the sun with his daughters. A bluesy guitar twang bends into a shimmering refrain about "another day in paradise" that's both infectious and inimitable.
Lewis laughs, "It proves I can write a happy tune. It's a story about me and the family going to our beach cottage on the weekends. It's all true. We drive down there, cook striper on the grill, and dig our own clams."
Then there's "Forever," a true product of The Road itself. It captures the longing and loneliness of life on the tour bus, while reflecting the immortality of true love. It's touching and thought-provoking all at once. "Doubt can set in on the road," he reveals. "Conversations from home aren't always warm and fuzzy. However, things change when you get back. The song goes from questioning to being reassured that everything is all good."
On the other end of the spectrum, his sense of humor shines through on the propulsive highway anthem "State Lines" and swaggering old school good-time of "Party in Hell." Lewis goes on, "Adding humor opens the avenues of exploration a little bit more, and it appeals to more of the senses. Plus, it's just fun to imagine what a party in hell might be like with Rick James."
Lewis personally penned all of the songs on The Road but one. For "Grandaddy's Gun," he teamed up with Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson, and Bobby Pinson, marking the first songwriting collaboration of his career. Annually, Lewis hosts a benefit show for his charity, It Takes a Community, which benefits his daughter's elementary school through community donations. Akins performed "Grandaddy's Gun" at the 2011 show. As soon as Lewis heard the tune, it stayed stuck in his head.
"I was completely blown away by the song," he elaborates. "When the opportunity came up, I decided to record it for The Road. They're three of Nashville's best and I have so much respect for them. It all fit with my life too. I have grandaddy's gun, and he did buy it out of a Sears and Roebuck catalog."
The members of Southern Rock quintet Blackberry Smoke are no strangers to hard work. Playing up to 250 dates each year, the guys are on the road more often than not, and they've seen tangible results of their labor. The band has toured with and befriended idols such as The Marshall Tucker Band, ZZ Top (with Billy Gibbons jamming with the band on a Florida stop), Lynyrd Skynyrd and George Jones. The band was even asked to play for Jones on his 80th birthday, not long after the country legend turned in a guest appearance on the band's sophomore album. They've toured Europe thrice over, and had their songs featured in video games (EA Sports' NASCAR 08) and films (Swing Vote), as well.
Mixing elements of gospel, bluegrass, arena rock, soul and more than a touch of outlaw country, Blackberry Smoke has earned a passionate fanbase that continues to grow as the band itself evolves. The band is as blue collar as the bandanas its members wear.
"Our fanbase is as organic as you can get," says drummer Brit Turner. "Each fan has been won by live performance or good old word of mouth."
In a little more than a decade together, Blackberry Smoke has released three full-length albums-including 2012's The Whippoorwill, the band's first for country megastar Zac Brown's Southern Ground label-two EPs and a live DVD, Live at the Georgia Theatre, which serves as the perfect showcase for the band's raucous, rockin' good-times-for-all take on rock 'n' roll. A chunk of the DVD's concert footage has aired numerous times on Palladia, and the band also shot a DirecTV concert that has aired countless times.
Indeed, the band's history together gives them a natural chemistry when writing the songs that could easily find a home with a diverse set of audiences.
Straddling the line between paying homage to one's heroes and blatant theft is a tricky business, but it’s a divide that the members of Blackberry Smoke traverse with ease. The band invites a few comparisons to the hallowed forefathers of Skynyrd, but don't expect to hear the same worn out clichés in their songs that every other band with country, pop or rock leanings have already espoused.
"We're not in the business of writing the same song over and over and over,"
Speaking of "over and over," at many points it would have been easy for these blue-collar musicians to get tired of bashing out song after song in distant dives and hang it up, get straight jobs and rock out as weekend warriors-if at all. But despite some lean years, they kept building an audience and keeping up with wives, children and girlfriends from long distances. So what's kept them so passionate?
As Brit Turner emphasizes, it's not necessarily dreams of stardom. It's simply the love of the game. "We love it or we wouldn’t do it."