AEG Live and The Plaza 'LIVE' Present
Sat, November 17, 2012
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pmThe Plaza 'LIVE'
(Plus Service Charges)
THIS SHOW HAS A PURCHASE LIMIT OF SIX (6) TICKETS!!http://www.plazaliveorlando.com/event/168725/
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."
Once again, he collaborated with some heavy hitters in the studio. His musical partner-in-crime Ben Kitterman expanded the overall sound with acoustic guitar, dobro, piano and other instruments. Meanwhile, iconic pedal steel player Paul Franklin makes a return as well as guitarist Brett Mason and Eddie Bayers on drums. Joining the fold in Nashville were Craig Frost [Bob Seger] on keyboards and Keith Horne [Waylon Jennings] on bass.
Lewis enthuses, "It's definitely a star-studded cast. Many of the songs were cut in one take. At the most, they're two. There's definitely genuine chemistry amongst the amazing musicians on this album. I'm so lucky to have them in the studio with me."
In many ways, The Road brings things full circle for Lewis. In Staind, he has made an indelible mark on hard rock. The group has sold 13 million albums worldwide, yielding four consecutive top 3 debuts on the Billboard Top 200 as well as numerous radio hits. Their single "It's Been Awhile" also remains the most-played rock song of the decade. Still, this new chapter proves cyclical for Lewis, actually bringing him back to the first style of music he'd heard: country music.
Now, he's carrying on a tradition of storytelling and songwriting himself. "I'm really hoping the songs speak for themselves," he concludes. "I hope people hear the record and realize that this is all me. There's nothing more to say. I'm just writing songs like I have been for my whole career."
That's all he really has to do. For Aaron Lewis, The Road looks brighter than ever.
He makes a powerful statement with his debut project, and critics have quickly taken notice. Southern Living named Montana as one of five "Best New Artists" in its Best of the South issue, stating, "The raspy-voiced Montana, a standout among his 'I'm more country than you peers,' breaks the genre's mold but respects its heritage." USA Today's Brian Mansfield called Montana's "1,000 Faces" his first favorite song of 2011, while People calls him "a must-hear artist."
Roughstock.com says "1,000 Faces" is "an ethereal experience of epic proportions," adding, "…Montana has a song that is a once-in-a-career kind of song, the kind of obvious, star-making or career-defining hit that every singer is looking for (and many never find.)" Music Row calls "1,000 Faces" "a sonic masterpiece" and says, "…this ultra-melodic outing is the kind of single that makes a star."
He spent much of 2010 on the road, touring the nation with artists such as Sugarland and Little Big Town. "It was quite a learning experience, being a part of something where they put 12,000 – 14,000 people in seats a night," he says of touring with Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush. "Kristian said one of the coolest things at the end of the tour. He said, 'Thanks for keeping the musical integrity of this tour.' That meant a lot coming from a guy like that."
It was on this tour that Montana saw firsthand the strong and immediate connection people have to "1,000 Faces," and this was months before it was played on country radio. "It's incredible to play that song live," says Montana, who wrote it with Tom Douglas. "People come up and say, '1,000 Faces' was my favorite song of the night.' It's fun to play it live because you get this whole burst of energy yourself."
Montana's boundary-free music captures the yearning of restless young men who are in a hurry to take life as far as they can, men who are sometimes too caught up in the moments of passion to have thoughts of regret. His gravelly voice, which sounds older than his years, tells of temptation and consequences while painting musical portraits of wheels turning, fires burning and women scribbling phone numbers on matchbooks.
"With a debut record, you've got to come out and be like, 'Man, this is me. Here are the things that I want to say through a song that hopefully will let others get to know me as a person, where I stand on things and experiences I have gone through,'" he says. "There are heartache songs, those love-lost songs, but there are some that are just good-feeling songs that just feel right. With this album I would like to give people a little glimpse into my life."
Montana is a songwriter's son who has found his own voice and quickly earned respect as a tunesmith on Music Row. He co-wrote nine songs on his eponymous album, and Montgomery Gentry recorded the Montana-penned "Can't Feel the Pain." Emmylou Harris was so impressed by Montana's talent that she harmonizes with him on "Last Horse."
His father is Billy Montana, whose hits include Garth Brooks' "More Than a Memory," Sara Evans' "Suds in the Bucket" and the Grammy-nominated Jo Dee Messina hit "Bring on the Rain." "Growing up around it, it took me awhile to come into my own," he says. "I never worried about being in a shadow or anything like that. But I also wanted to achieve that same kind of songwriting level that my dad achieved."
Montana was born in Albany, N.Y., and moved with his family to Nashville in 1988 when Billy signed a record deal with Warner Bros. He started playing guitar at age 10, writing songs at age 16 and performed his first song publicly at one of his father's writers' nights at age 17. "I always grew up around music, watching him do it," says Montana, who listened to Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Jackson Browne on family road trips. "I kind of grew up next to a stage. Anytime the family got together, the guitars came out."
He was an award-winning high school quarterback, earning All-State honors for leading the state in passing yards and touchdowns his junior and senior years. He now applies that same dedication and discipline to the music industry. "On the football field, all 11 of us on offense have to work together at the same time to make a play work," he says. "It's just like that with the music industry, between your band, your label, management and booking agency. But knowing that at the end of the day, it is my career and I'm in control, I take a lot from my football experience because I grew up in that position on teams. I was always the quarterback; it was all in my hands."
But he declined several football scholarships and instead opted to play college soccer at Nashville's Trevecca Nazarene University before transferring to Middle Tennessee State University for two years, until music beckoned. During college he played in a band called Homestead that was frequently booked at fraternity parties and Middle Tennessee bars. "That was a great way to just get your chops up and understand how a crowd works and how to keep them entertained," he says.
He worked odd jobs, including roofing houses, waiting tables and bartending, while writing songs in hopes of landing a publishing deal. Inspired by the music of Steve Earle, Chris Knight, Hank Williams, Jr., Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, The Wallflowers and Counting Crows, he eventually came into his own with a sound that's a little left of country's center.
He signed with Sony Music Publishing in 2008 and began writing with its team of established writers. His burgeoning catalog caught the attention of Universal Music Group Nashville's Joe Fisher, and he soon signed with Universal's Mercury Nashville and began creating his debut album.
In addition to "1,000 Faces" and the debut single, "Ain't Much Left Of Lovin' You," the Jay Joyce-produced album's stand-outs include "Goodbye Rain," in which he takes a one-way fast train out of town in search of a second chance and relief from his rear-view heartache, and "Like a Cowboy," which describes a modern-day cowboy who has leaving in his DNA and constant disappointment in his wake. "Girl, I will love you the best that I can, but you need to know I am what I am," he sings. "I'm not a bad guy, but I'm not a good guy at heart."
"Last Horse," which he wrote with his father, is about a man clinging to a dying relationship. "I don't want to be the last horse left in this one-horse town," Randy sings with Emmylou Harris. "When you hear a legendary voice like that singing along with your own voice, it's a little surreal," he says. "At the time, it's kind of tough to realize the magnitude of what just went down. But then once it does sink in, it's like, 'This is going to be a tough thing to top.'"
"Assembly Line" depicts the daily existence of a manufacturing employee whose life is marked by numbers – production steps, unused vacation days, hourly rates and punched timecards. "It's a job for the diligent heart and I'm just one of a thousand parts," he sings. "You might think I've got it rough, but I don't mind working on the assembly line."
He co-wrote "Back of My Heart" and the high-energy "Reckless" with his father and Brian Maher. "Sonically, there's definitely a theme," he says. "We're using 12-string all over the record, which is kind of Tom Petty-ish. It's also B-3 heavy and has a very roomy drum sound, kind of like the Wallflowers."
Randy's goal is to have enough success that he can keep doing this. "I just love this," he says. "I wouldn't have it any other way – performing live, songwriting, being in the studio. I truly love it all."
"Like they always say, 'Find something that you love to do and you'll never work a day in your life.' So far, I feel that way. There's nothing I would rather do. I want to take it as far as it can go."
The Plaza 'LIVE'
425 North Bumby Ave
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