The Henningsens – New Artist Spotlight – CMA Close Up by Bob Doerschuk

The Henningsens

The Henningsens by LeAnn MuellerThe Henningsens

These are halcyon times for Country vocal groups. So how does a new group stand out? The Henningsens have at least two ways of making an impression in this crowded field.

One involves songwriting: On American Beautiful, their Arista Nashville debut, Brian Henningsen, son Aaron and daughter Clara, as a trio or in various combinations, join with various co-writers on all 10 tracks, with consistently pleasing results.

Match that with singing that exceeds today’s standards for technique, expression and emotion, and you’ve got a winner on your hands. Producer Paul Worley captures every nuance of Clara’s phrasing and then pulls back to reveal their three-part power in all its glory. The title cut (written by all three with Brett Beavers) anchors on a punchy power-guitar riff and soars on a catchy, sing-along chorus. It’s no surprise that this single totaled 77 Country Aircheck and Billboard radio adds in its first week.

But dig into the album and you’ll discover other levels of artistry. A nostalgic fiddle and dreamy waltz setting take us deep into “Arkansas” (Brian and Clara with Cactus Moser), whose story of aged siblings gathered for a brother’s funeral casts a spell that lingers after the last chord dies. (Recollections of “kerosene nights and innocent days” draw us back into a nearly forgotten past.) And when they join voices to celebrate the light that guides them through stormy times on “To Believe” (all three with Jimmy Yeary), even doubters have to be left feeling a little less alone.



BRIAN: “Jayber Crow, by Wendell Barry.”

CLARA: “The Bible, Sense and Sensibility.”

AARON: “The Bible.”


BRIAN: “A farmer.”

CLARA: “A marine biologist.”

AARON: “A senator.”


ALL: “Our producer, Paul Worley.”


ALL: “‘The House That Built Me’ or ‘Wichita Lineman.’”


ALL: “We get along really well but we love to argue. We call it debating.”

On the Web: www.TheHenningsens.com

On Twitter: @TheHenningsens



By Bob Doerschuk

© 2013 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.

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The Sins – New Artist Spotlight – CMA Close Up by Bob Doerschuk

The Sins

The Sins

The Sins

Listening to Muscadine on Go Time Records, you might bet Joe and Kristen Sins grew up together in some crossroads town deep in the Texas countryside. Not so: Both are Californians, though neither is city folk; Kristen grew up in Sonora, on the edge of Yosemite National Park, while Joe’s roots are in Twentynine Palms, close to another wonder of Western nature, the Mojave Desert.


Yet here they are, joined in marriage and music on one of the strongest duo debuts of recent years. Joe has a little grit and twang in his tenor, while Kristen stretches from honeyed intimacy to dramatic upper-register flights. This contrast adds depth to their harmonies without compromising their solo prowess. They wrote each track together too, reflecting their ability to convey emotion with a vivid, even urgent eloquence. And their arrangements are interesting: A unison passage on “One Stoplight Town” symbolizes the passion of their union. Elsewhere, on the title track, they glide between fourths and sixths, with grace or punch as the music requires.


With Kent Wells producing, Muscadine has a guitar-heavy sound, mixed tastefully to energize rather than clash with the vocals. This approach electrifies a story of young love on “Romeo and Juliet Sparks” and, even more impressively, the heartbreaking narrative of a woman surrendering her newborn son to another mother on “She Gave It All Up.” This is a classic Country story song, delivered with the finesse, empathy and feeling it deserves.






KRISTEN: “Popeye’s Chicken.”


JOE: “Del Taco, when I can find it.”




KRISTEN: “Kenny Rogers.”


JOE: “My wife – and I get to live the dream! Otherwise, I would choose George Strait.”




KRISTEN: “Unstoppable.”


JOE: “It’s Been a Helluva Ride.




KRISTEN: “I love to play Mario video games.”


JOE: “Keep guessing!”


On the Web: www.TheSinsCountry.com


On Twitter: @TheSinsCountry



By Bob Doerschuk

© 2013 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.


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All I Ever Wanted – Music Video Featuring Tyler Matl

Tyler MatlOfficial Music Video featuring Pop Recording Artist Tyler Matl’s single “All I Ever Wanted” and directed by Rob Swanson. Available NOW on iTunes! http://bit.ly/124L3Or. Follow Tyler on Twitter @TylerMatl or Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/tylermatl

Leave your comments below and let Tyler know what you think about the video.

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JJ Lawhorn – CMA New Artist Spotlight

JJ Lawhorn

JJ LawhornJJ Lawhorn

Many artists draw from their background, but the music of 19-year-old JJ Lawhorn goes deeper, to embody the sights and sounds, aromas and soul, of rural America.

Raised on his family’s Virginia farm, he never dreamed of knocking on doors up and down Music Row. His plan was to study agriculture at Virginia Tech and devote his life to farming. Then, in the spring of 2010, producer Jeremy Stover came across a Lawhorn performance on YouTube. He tracked the young artist down; within a year, Lawhorn had signed with EMI Publishing and, in June 2011, to Average Joes Entertainment.

Produced by Stover and released on July 16, the 13 tracks of Original Good Ol’ Boy sound the way hay smells and the world looks from the bed of a pickup truck. Lawhorn wrote three of these songs alone and co-wrote the rest, investing each one with the kind of authenticity you can’t conjure in the studio. Some of this stems from his delivery: He drawls “count” as two syllables and nearly stretches “around” to three on his solo-written single “Stomping Grounds.”

JJ LawhornAnd his lyrics are extraordinarily evocative, often beginning with a snapshot-like picture: “Red clay mud caked up on the door” brings us close to the vehicle and its no-nonsense driver on “You Can Tell a Man by His Truck” (written by Lawhorn, Stover and Ben Hayslip).

Ultimately, it’s the whole package — the rough-edged music, the painterly words and Lawhorn’s conviction — that makes this a most auspicious debut.



“Alison Krauss or Chris Stapleton.”


“‘Silver Wings,’ by Merle Haggard.”


The Road Less Traveled.


“The only challenge I have is to be all that I can be.”


“I don’t believe in luck. I believe in God’s plan for my life.”

On the Web: www.JJLawhornMusic.com

On Twitter: @JJLawhornMusic


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Reverb Nation No Longer Supports Independent Artists – Where Do Independents Go Now?

Reverb Nation Banner

Reverb Nation Banner

Reverb Nation Focuses on National Acts

It’s come to my attention as of late that the formerly independent musician supporting Reverb Nation has changed their business model. When, in the past, they’ve always been a place to go to find new music and new artists not supported by record labels or management, but the little guy who has put together some great music in his garage. Well, that has all come to a close. Now when doing searches for great new artists that are independent and starving for new places to play and new fans, those artists have to compete with the likes of national acts like Tim McGraw, Lil Wayne and Motley Crue. So where does an independent artist go for promotion and exposure? You tell us. Nashville Rocks tried a previous business model allowing accounts and more, but on a shoestring budget, the hackers were more than I could deal with. Where does an independent artist go now? Share your thoughts below so that other independents have a place to go as well.

We also want to help. If you need exposure, look no further. If you are a Nashville artist or band OR you have played or will play in Nashville, then please send us your press releases and music promotions and video promotions. We are excited to provide a place for independent artists to feature their work. The only national support we provide is in music news or interviews, but we focus on the little guy. So send us an email to get started and lets build a brand together that actually supports independent artists.

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Artist Showcase – June 2013 – Alexes Aiken

Alexes Aiken in boots on pallets

Alexes Aiken CD Cover for Nashville Rocks Artist Showcase

Nashville Rocks Artist Showcase – Alexes Aiken

In this months Nashville Rocks Artist Showcase, we present Alexes Aiken. As a 17-year-old country-pop sensation, Alexes Aiken has been showing off both her musician skills and her songwriting capabilities this year, and it has not gone unnoticed. The new member of the Country Music Association (CMA) is a New Orleans native, but, as Nashville-based producer Jonell Polansky describes, she “sings like she was born on the Opry stage.”


After releasing her debut self-titled album in December 2012, Alexes kicked off 2013 by accepting awards and getting together a band to complement her vocals. Alexes earned the title of Future Star Female Vocalist of the Year in the 17- to 20- year age group at the North America Country Music Associations, International (NACMAI). NACMAI also awarded her with the honor of Songwriter of the Year for New Gospel for her song “Note on the Mirror” and Co-Songwriter of the Year for New Country for her song “Best in Me.” Both of these original songs are on her debut album. After months of practice, Alexes and her band had their first public performance together on Saturday, May 11 at the Cajun Fest Volunteer Party in Marrero, La.


As Alexes becomes more successful, both in the Nashville and New Orleans music industry, she is also giving back through her music. She has partnered with the National Military Family Association (NMFA), an organization that raises money for veterans and their families, including education funds and financial support for injured veterans. This is a cause particularly close to Alexes’ heart, coming from a veteran family. “I’m super excited about this partnership because of my family involvement in the military with my paternal grandfather as a World War II veteran,” she says. She has decided to donate 10 percent of digital sales of her remake, “These Boots are Made for Walkin’” to the cause.


Alexes continues to improve her live presentation and play in Nashville more and more. Alexes and her entire band will appear together at the Flood City Music Festival in Johnstown, Pa. on Saturday,

Alexes Aiken Red Leather Jacket for Nashville Rocks Artist Showcase

August 3.

Alexes Aiken’s album is available from several vendors right here on Nashville Rocks and she was the first artist interviewed on the pilot episode of Nashville Rocks Internet TV Show. See it here.


It is obvious that Alexes is not slowing down when it comes to her music career, and you can expect to see and hear a lot from her this summer. To find out more about upcoming events or to check out music and videos from country music’s newest rising star, please visit her website www.alexesaiken.com.


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