Born and raised in Ukiah, a small Northern California town. Memorized the lyrics of Mel McDaniel’s “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On” at age 8. In 1985, the song became McDaniel’s only number-one single. The song was originally pitched to Conway Twitty. What stands out about this song that it draws in even the youngest of listeners?
Well, it’s hard to answer for anyone else, but, for me looking back, it was all about the hook. Of course, at the time I didn’t realize that but knowing me as I do now, it’s always been about the hook. “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On” was ahead of its time and is just a timeless song. As far as Conway, it makes sense that it was pitched to him first as he was always ahead of his time.
Growing up, your mom worked as a bartender at a local country bar. “Country music has been a part of my life since I can remember. My mom is also an Elvis junky and when I was a little boy, I would always try to sing like him.” How is your vocal styling influenced by Elvis Presley?
This is a great question, made me think a little about who I really am as a singer. His pronunciation as a vocalist and his controlled vibrato. Both of those are very important to me, not to mention his stage presence.
Sang your first solo at church. Singing with The Gaither Vocal Band. Your music career didn’t start until after you were married and had children. “I was 30 years old before I finally said, “LETS GO!” Sometimes in life dreams take a while to play out, but if you believe and keep pushing, I know they can come true for anyone! I thank God every day I did.” Can you share what is on your music career vision board?
Honestly to just be heard. As far as a wish list, it’s long, but I will give you a couple that are in my heart. Playing a show at the Mother Church (The Ryman) and at The Grand Ole Opry is a dream I hope to fulfill. Also playing on tour with Brooks & Dunn.
Opening for Thomas Rhett, Brett Eldredge, Mark Chesnutt, and Phil Vassar. Blending traditional country with today’s modern sound. What is the best advice another artist has shared with you about touring?
I have gotten advice from a few different artists, but the one common theme was to find your sound and stay true to that.
2016. First grandbaby, Kayden Rae. What do you see the future of country music looking like for our grandkids?
Country music is the coolest of all genres because it is so broad of a spectrum — from Dan + Shay to Alan Jackson, it’s all country. As far as the future of country music, I believe it’s bright and will continue to have a mix of outlaw, traditional, modern, and pop.
2017. NASH Next competition, from local to national challenges, with the winner selected by country music industry professionals. “I can’t think of a better way to inspire and discover up-and-coming talent than through local country radio,” said Garth Brooks. Would you enter another singing competition, like American Idol or The Voice?
I hate to say it but finishing second has become a theme of mine in regards to singing competitions but sure why not!
2022. “Light Me Up.” First radio station to play the new release was KUKI-FM 103.3 True Country Music. Can you share the backstory to the song?
The lyrics to this song were written by my best friend Kyle Campbell. He was at an airport in Minneapolis, coming to meet up with me to do some work. Not music but we always carry guitars on the road, even when we aren’t doing music. So, he showed up, we went through the song a few times and boom — like magic, there it was. Of course, it also took some great producing by Mr. Bill McDermott.
Now the backstory about “Light Me Up.” It is all about my wife and I, our love for fireworks, her love for fireflies and my love for her. She has a tattoo on her arm that says ‘Light Me Up’ with a firefly.
“The long road ahead! It’s paved, but it ain’t made of yellow bricks!” What can fans look forward to hearing in 2023?
We are looking to release another single in the next couple months, maybe a third one after that and a full-length album by spring of 2023. Lots of touring and good times!