Happy Summer: Free Download "Flip Flops"

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Boy its hot here today. Makes me wish to be by a pool or a beach and just relaxing in the hot Summer sun.... oh wait a minute; I just got back from that. Well, it doesn't hurt to wish again.

Anyway, I have a really cool song for you to take a listen and then give it some support by requesting it on your local country radio station. It is a Summertime song, no doubt.

"Flip Flops" by Billy Craig will take you a nice little mental vacation for a few moments... why not take a listen. I think you will enjoy as much as I do when taking a listening. The song is featured on his new album titled "This Side of Somewhere" that is available on his website. Also on his website are 4 songs streaming for you to enjoy his music even more. A highly talent artist is an understatement. His sounds is distinctive and its a sound that just makes you excited to listen to.

Support the talented independent artists in country music, they are the driving force behind the major artists that take up the radio airwaves. Never forget the superstars of country music weren't born with a record contract, they payed their dues as well, and you never know when you may be supporting the next superstar of country...

Learn a lot more about Billy Craig and his music on his website at http://www.billycraigmusic.com/

To Download the song visit: www.billycraigmusic.com/flip_promo.zip

What do you want to see more of?

Well, after a well deserved vacation, I am back at the desk brainstorming a bit what to offer my readers. There is so much around my desk right now to write about, and those items will becoming.

However, I wanted to take a moment and check with you. What? You may say... Well, there so many blogs and websites out there that you can visit, but why do you read mine? I can't even describe in words how humbled I am for your readership. It is truly amazing at the amount of readers I have support from all over the world. I would've never thought my tiny e-mail list and small website back in 1994 would still be in existence today. Not much your support, but the support of country music as a whole through the publicists, record label representatives, and even the specific artists themselves.

To be sure I continue to provide you with what will keep you coming back and enjoying what I have to share with you, I am asking you to take just a moment and let me hear from you all that read this blog or visit the website to e-mail me what you want to see here. What interests you in the world of country music. To sum the question up, what do you want to see more of? E-mail me anytime, but specifically, right now to share your thoughts. I can't promise you will immediately see it, but then again, its very possible as well.

Every since the first line I have ever typed about country music, I have never forgotten my readers and enjoy so much communicating with them. I believe at the inner most core of country music artist's reason for performing is the connection with the fans. That is exactly what makes country music so very special. I too take that value of connecting with my readers (fans) in the dear spirit of country music, that I have such a immense passion of sharing with everyone I can.

I look forward to hearing from you all and I thank you dearly for your support in the blog and website.

Now that I'm back from vacation, I am back to writing like I want to. I feel it in my bones you will be hearing a lot on this blog in the upcoming days. Stay tuned.

Top 10 Airplay Country Music Artists in 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Country Aircheck has published the list of the 10 most played artists on radio through the first 6 months of 2008. Trust me, no breaking news here on the list:

  1. Kenny Chesney
  2. Carrie Underwood
  3. Taylor Swift
  4. Brad Paisley
  5. Rascal Flatts
  6. George Strait
  7. Alan Jackson
  8. Montgomery Gentry
  9. Rodney Atkins
  10. Gary Allan

See what I mean. Nothing shocking, but yet interesting. This list always shows alot about country music's current trend and status. Lets dig into this real deep and get my prospective on it.

First and foremost, I have to ask myself, is what country radio playing truly what the listeners of country radio really want to hear? Playlists for radio stations these days are all pre-loaded usually the day before. The "request" lines are there basically to track trends and do setup the next days lists and such, at best. The listener's input I don't believe has too much of an impact on what we hear on the radio. For the sake of argument, if it does, radio still controls what you are introduced to, leading to what you would request. I believe the answer to the question is split probably close to 50/50. Half the listeners do enjoy the programming of country radio these days, because it is was they have become acustom to and actually enjoy the pop-country sound that fills the radio airwaves these days. The proof is above. Spot 1,2,3, and 5 all are lesser traditional artists that perform more of a pop-country. The other half of the listners may enjoy some of what they are hearing, however, want to hear more contemporary traditional artists, hear new songs, hear different styles of country, even some classics mixed in...there soo many artists and songs out there that are just dying to be heard and have extreme talent. Boy, I wish I had the money to open up a radio station. (I'll save that for another entry)

Taylor Swift has 1 album. She is 3rd on the list. Can you imagine how many times her singles are being played over and over. Wow.

Speaking of Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood is the only other female in the top 10.

George Strait and Alan Jackson both really never fall off this list. Why? Well, one that have massive catalogs, always are in demand, and maybe most importantly, they are country. They are traditional, and have talent. These artists, along with Brad Paisley have that magic, that talent it takes to be a true talented country star. I'm not saying 8,9,10 don't have it, because they do, but 4,6,7 are in a just slightly higher category.

Will the end of the year chart look any different? That's waht is sad, no, it will be the same artists, and probably real close to the same order... thats something that is sad about radio in general. Again, I wish Icould open my own station, thats for sure.

"Two Men With The Blues" Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

My my my, here is a downright musical paradise for us music lovers. This album is one of those that deserves many awards, and maybe more importantly, many hours of enjoyment.
Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis performed live at the Lincoln Center in New York on January 12 and 13, 2007. Those of us that weren't so lucky to be in the audience now have a chance to enjoy the music from these two incredibly talented artists. The sounds on this album are just magical. This duo is like a match made in heaven, no doubt in my mind.
"Two Men With The Blues" is an album every type of music lover can enjoy. This album is one of those that are just a "must own" by far. From the album cover to every note on the CD, its perfection... the songs, the instrumentation, the vocals of both Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis.... well, just amazement.
Wynton Marsalis on trumpet throughout and Willie Nelson's vocals just give you chills minute by minute.
Give the album a preview above, I really think this is one to experience, and fall in love with.

Track List:
1. Bright Lights Big City
2. Night Life
3. Caldonia
4. Stardust
5. Basin Steel Blues
6. Georgia on My Mind
7. Rainy Day Blues
8. My Bucket's Got A Hole In It
9. Ain't Nobody's Business
10. That's All

Nashville Star Thoughts, Episode 5

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Wow, well, what an episode of Nashville Star. One thing I really got out of this episode is how much improvement the artists showed this week, comparing to the beginning.

Boy, Pearl Heart was eliminated. I don't agree with that one, however their performance on the show wasn't as good as it was made to be by the judges. I just didn't think it was very good, however, they were right in commenting on their work ethic and I ill add their sound is incredible. I will miss them on the show for sure. I still have to wonder if there was some mix-up in numbers fans were dialing or something. I can't really see that though since the duo is Laura & Sophie and Pearl Heart has a band name for the 3some. Oh well, there is more to talk about.

Coffey I think sealed up his future on the show. It was over the top to try to compete with Gabe Garcia (more on him in a minute.) I still don't feel like he is country to me, and I don't know, just something there I'm not connecting with.

Laura & Sophie tonight showed their attitudes on the show and it probably has really hurt them. I agree with the judges that they just are at the point in their lives to be able to handle winning.

Shawn Mayer and Ashlee Hewitt I don't really think about too much really. There isn't nothing standing out about them that really make me think of them after the show is over. Decent performers, but there isn't any real connection or difference in them that makes them stand out above the others.

Gabe Garcia had an amazing performance. He will head to the final 2 performers, with Melissa Lawson. Gabe really stepped up and his performance just plain looked excellent on camera. Wow, we really have a talent there.

Melissa Lawson again had a great performance. Really enjoying her vocals and talents more and more. One thing I did hear that I really liked about her was in the little bio piece before the performance is that she mentioned working out preparing for performing nightly and such. That not only is a good idea, but, it shows me her thought process. She is confident, real, and is ready for whatever comes ahead of her.

Now, between the two. Its going to come down to something very simple who will win. 2 things. Connection to the TV audience and continued advancement in talent. Which ever connects best and show most improvement from this week to next week will win it all.

Keep watching, I sure am.

Country Music Alive Updates!

Here is a re-publishing of the email update e-mail that was sent to members of the e-mail list for website updates. You can get these sent directly to your email by joining on the website.

Good Day Everyone!

I know its been awhile since I have sent out any updates, however, I had a lot going on in the past few months. However, I am back doing regular updates and especially just about daily posts on the blog. There is a lot of good stuff over there, I hope you subscribe to the feed from there as well.

The New release schedule was updated about a month ago, so it will be updated again probably this week. I don't know any other place on the web to get all the release dates in one place. I try to offer every major label's release date list and as many independents as I can. There is also links available to directly pre-order the albums, or download the albums after their release from Amazon.com. You will be notified as soon as the list is updated.


The CMA Close-Up section has been up-to-date, until today's article is released and I will try to get it up on the site tomorrow. There a lot of great articles, including a great article on Alan Jackson and Jewel.


There have been quiet a few new reviews posted on the website as well, in fact I am all caught up except for about 4 that I will be working on very soon. Albums from Ricky Skaggs, The Road Hammers, Kalleigh Bannen, and James Otto are now posted and are apart of the 87 reviews available.


On t he front page, if you have not checked out the Carter's Chord video, please do. Their new single is featured right up top including links to buy the digital album and hear more clips. I think you will really enjoy them, so take a listen. More about them will be featured soon on the blog and then a feature concert review to be coming in mid-August.

If there is anything you would like to see on the website, please let me know! I will be glad to look into it for everyone to enjoy.

Hope you will visit the website very soon and check things out! Remember, your support of Country Music Alive is so appreciated. You support the website by getting the updates, subscribe to the blog, telling friends to visit the site and blog, and using the links provided to do your shopping at Amazon.com, CMT's store, I-Tunes, Time Life, and more.

As Always, Keeping Country Music Alive!

Kirk Fitzgerald

Zona Jones Signed to Rocky Comfort Records

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Wednesday it was announced that Zona Jones has been signed to Rocky Comfort Records. Your first thought may be is "who??" My first thought was "wow"!

Its been a few years since I have heard anything from Zona Jones, however, his review is still in my databse on the website of his album called "Harley's & Horses"
that was released in February 2004. Re-reading the review, I still remember the album, and will be pulling out of the CD case today. It is absolutely amazing, and believe me, I can not wait to start hearing more from Zona Jones. His new single is due out later this month from Tracy Lawrence's independent label Rocky Comfort Records.

When the single is out, I will be sure to keep you updated, until then, get excited like I am and checkout the links below"

Direct Link To My Review back a few years ago:

Listen to Zona Jones on his Myspace:

Zona Jones Website: (Coming Soon, but limited information on front page)

Kenny Chesney on XM "No Shoes Radio"

Saturday, July 05, 2008

George Strait just finished up 2 months of having his own dedicated XM channel, Led Zeppelin had 6 months of their own channel, as well as Michael Jackson for a month...and just announced, another artist gets his own channel. From July 26 through October 25 XM Channel 18 will be "No Shoes Radio." The channel will be available online for an additional 3 months after.

The channel is being described as not only playing his tracks from all his albums, but also specially recorded material such as live tracks and special performance recordings featuring special guests as well.

Alrighty, is it just me or is this a little crazy? I understand and respect Kenny Chesney being one of the most successful country music artists of the current and is very talented. He also is a master of the live show. However, he only has 10 studio albums, a Christmas album, and a greatest hits album, and a live album.

So, I did the math. Using his 10 studio albums, that even have repeat songs and different versions of the same song on them included in his catalog, there is a total running time of 7 hours and 3 minutes. Add in the new material from the greatest hits album at 15 minutes, 43 minutes from the Christmas album, 1 hour 5 minutes from the live album and we are at 9 hours and 6 minutes to play his entire recorded released catalog.

George Strait has 24 albums, 2 live albums, and 3 Christmas albums. Big Difference in Chesney's 10, 1, and 1. Strait ran for 2 months. This new channel is scheduled for 3 months. Gracious, listeners are in for a lot of repeated songs. I know, most people anyway, won't be listening to this channel alone, but some will. Even the casual listener like most of us will be, I have a feeling will get a bit tired of it.

I must say one thing though, again, this one of the amazing power of satellite radio. If you want to hear Chesney 24-7 for 3 months, you can. However, there are 78other music 24-7 music channels alone on XM. That's not counting the rest of the channels for news, comedy, sports, talk radio, and other entertainment.

If you aren't an XM subscriber, I hope you will take a moment and think about it. It will change your listening habits forever. Once you get it, you will not want to let it go, ever. If you want more information, just send me an email.

The bottom line, enjoy the upcoming channel and Kenny Chesney fans get ready, Channel 18 is on its way beginning July 26, 2008.

Brad Paisley "Waitin' On A Woman" with Andy Griffith

Friday, July 04, 2008

Country music, it doesn't get any more American than that. Another great icon of Americana, Andy Griffith, makes an appearance in Brad Paisley's new video for "Waitin' On A Woman."

Now, I don't watch too many videos, but when I got notice that Andy Griffith would be featured in the video, I had to give it a wath. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

I hope that you have a wonderful 4th of July, and remember, be safe and bring the country music along with you.

Patriotic Country Music For July 4th

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Looking around this afternoon, I found that AOL has released a list of the Top 10 Patriotic Country Songs (click above to play them.) The list is amazingly pretty well put together.

Sometimes overlooked, "Arlington" by Trace Adkins makes the list. What incredibly powerful song. I was so glad to see it on their list, as well as Billy Ray Cyrus' "Some Gave All," one of the best songs he ever recorded, and again, gets looked over at times.

Now, Johnny Cash's "Ragged Old Flag" makes the list at #9. Come on, this classic deserves a higher rating without a doubt. The well overplayed "God Bless the USA" makes the list at #1, a great patriotic song deserving of the top spot, however, how many times can we really play this song. Goodness.

Take a read at the link below, and get your MP3 player ready for July 4th by listening to the clips and download the songs of the full list above.


Also, if you rather pick-up a CD, there is a new Patriotic Country CD out from that group of albums. This is the 3rd in the set. A portion of the proceeds from album sales go to Our Military Kids. 17 tracks include songs like Kenny Chesney's "A Lot of Things Different," "If I Don't Make It Back by Tracy Lawrence, "The Last of A Dying Breed" by Neal McCoy, and more. This one can be found in stores and online along with the other 2 from the series of releases. Patriotic Country 1 & 2 are available for download.

Kelleigh Bannen "Radio Skies"

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Just in the last few days, I reviewed a new album titled "Radio Skies" from a new artist Kelleigh Bannen. In her bio, the first paragraph reads like this:

"Most artists are content to work within the artificial and self-limiting
boundaries of genre and style that govern how many people consider music.
But then there are those for whom boundaries and genre lines are just
something to be torn up and erased in the pursuit of music that penetrates
deeper. Kelleigh Bannen is such an artist, and on her debut album, “Radio
Skies,” she reveals a depth and soulfulness that borders on astonishing,
singing songs that transcend the narrow constraints of modern country to
connect with an audience that wants something beyond the cookie cutter."

Now, normally, from here, you would start to read from me a lot of disagreement with the above statement. Well, even though I do agree with certain standards and honor tradition in country music, I do agree with a lot said above. Country music fans do indeed strive for something a little beyond a cookie cutter mentality. However, there is a limit.

Is radio "Radio Skies" out of the country music style? That's up to you to decide, I think. Everyone has different tastes in music, even with in the country music community. I am all for creativity and for something a little different. This album is a great example of something a bit new and seeing what people think of it. I highly suggest you listen to a few clips and see what you think.

The first 4 tracks of the album are available on her website, head over there and give it a listen.

Nashville Star Thoughts

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

I have been watching this season of Nashville Star pretty closely. The contestants/performers this year so far really have impressed me, overall. There is some chance that a few of them could end up with a record deal, especially on a independent label.

I do have 2 complaints about it.

1)Why so many non-country songs being performed as country songs? Come on, if this is a country artist competition, they should be singing country songs. Now one week's theme would be perfect for doing non-country songs as a bit of a challenge, but not every episode these non-country songs are performed. Last night's show was a lot better with this as well, but still the pop songs did make its way in.

2) I don't feel the personal connection to this group like I have to previous Nashville Star series. Last night helped with that a little bit, with their families on the show. However, we need more about their lives and personal tidbits that allow us to learn more about them other than they can sing throughout the series. Country music artists do more than record records and perform. They have to connect with their fans on a personal level. Country fans are a bit different than fans of other styles of music.

I must say my 2 complaints seemed to be really worked on last night, hopefully next week's show we will see even more improvement.

What I'm loving is seeing John Rich. I'm not a huge fan of Big & Rich, but I do love Rich. He is such a talent. In songwriting, studio work, and understanding country music. He is one of the industry leaders these days. It is nice to see this series on NBC, getting network exposure, rather than cable. I also really like the look into how they got ready for the week. It seems to show how hard this group of people are working on their materials.

The contestant choices for this series I really like as well, though don't know too much about them, other than their performances. What a great group overall, not sure if it is the strongest series, but really enjoyable performers.

At this point we have 8 left: Ashlee, Coffey, Gabe, Laura & Sophie, Melissa, Pearl Heart, Shawn, and Tommy.

Let me predict the final 4. Ashlee, Gabe, Melissa, Pearl Heart.
Then, 3: Gabe, Melissa, Pearl Heart.
Then 2: Melissa, Pearl Heart
Then 1: Pearl Heart