One of the most exciting parts of StarDaze each year is the entertainment and part of what makes it so great is that it is completely free of charge. You bring a chair and we will bring the fun. The 2010 feature entertainment was Saving Abel, Brantley Gilbert, Taddy Porter, and Buddy Jewell. In 2011 we were honored to have Jack Ingram, Bucky Covington, The Lacs, JB and the Moonshine Band, CashBox. 2012 was a blow-out with Lee Brice, Jared Blake, Lauren Bryant, JJ Lawhorn, Matt Stillwell, Big Shane Thornton, Julie Roberts, and Joey Hyde. 2013 was awesome with Kix Brooks, Ben Coulter, Aaron Parker, Steel Magnolia, Phantom VI, Cheryl LuQuire, Big SMO, and Blackberry Smoke. 2014 was a great year with entertainment from Jawga Boys, The LACS, Twang and Round, Dylan Scott, Drew Baldridge, A Thousand Horses, Parmalee, and Dustin Lynch.
2015 included Brian Davis, Old Dominion,chase Bryant, Lower 40, Kristen Kelly, Jared Blake, Outshyne, and Jason Michael Carroll. Start making your plans now to join us this year in Star City, AR for StarDaze 2016. We will be looking for you!
FRIDAY APRIL 15th
Blane Howard Bio
Blane Howard is a Nashville recording artist who grew up in south Arkansas. After high school, he decided to follow his dream to Nashville where he met his bandmates. Blane has been touring the mid-south region of the country for the past few years and making a name for himself in the music industry. When he is not on the road, he stays busy writing new songs with other artists and songwriters in Nashville.
At the age of 3, Blane stood in front of the TV with a blue and green plastic guitar and sang along with Alan Jackson's "Chasin' That Neon Rainbow.” He dreamed of one day growing up to be a country singer just like Alan Jackson. Twenty plus years later, he is chasing that dream he had as a kid. Blane was highly influenced by the music that surrounded him - from the country styles of Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, and Randy Travis to the Classic Rock of Lynyrd Skynyrd and AC/DC. Today he is heavily influenced by the styles of Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley, and Brothers Osborne. All of these influences have made an impact on Blane's unique style of country, “modern-traditional,” mixing the authenticity of the 90's with the contemporary edge of today!
Last year Blane was thrilled to be asked to perform on the Chevy Main Stage at the State Fair of Texas. He has had the privilege of opening up shows for country greats like Blake Shelton, Joe Nichols, Trace Adkins, Rodney Atkins, Travis Tritt, Charlie Daniels Band and a few others. Blane has also played the Arkansas State Fair, Nashville's Next Big Twang, and the 2015 CMA Fest Showcases produced by Big Foot Music and Southern Trace Songwriter's.
‘Bout Time’ is the title track to Blane's original EP, which was released in January of 2013, and is a fan favorite along with “She’s a Mess” and “I’m Moving On.” Blane released his first full studio album last summer titled “Away We Go.” There are many great songs on this album but you’ll definitely want to check out his fast growing hits “Friday Feeling" and "County Line.”
2016 is already shaping up to be a great year with lots of new venues and shows being added to his schedule. Be sure to follow Blane Howard on social media for all of the latest career updates, show announcements and new music releases.
Aubrie Sellers Bio
I prefer to create friction,” post-country chanteuse Aubrie Sellers offers. “Because if you’re not pushing but“tons, you’re just making something pleasant, it’s probably been done before... and it’s not making anyone feel anything.”
In this world of pretty little girls who are seen and not heard and reality stars who are famous for nothing, the 24 year old songwriter ain’t buying in. Laughing, she continues, “I’d rather my music be polarizing than everyone like it, because they rarely do. I think passion is a lot deeper than that. I want to go deeper, and be honest that life isn’t just some party and going out. I mean, don’t people feel anything?”
Not that New City Blues is some kind of morbid, maudlin affair. From the cutlery in the blender indictment of surface beauty “Paper Doll” to the Lone Star drive of “Just To Be With You” and the tumbledown melody of “Sit Here and Cry,” this is a high energy box cutter of emotion: 14 songs marked by the bite and punch of smart girls who know there’s more to life than a cold beer and cut-offs.
“I tell people there’s not a lot of happy songs,” the Texas/Nashville hybrid cautions. “But they’re not unhappy songs, either. It’s life... the way it is, and what’s wrong with that?”
There’s a definite viscerality to New City Blues. From the yearning title track to the slow-building “Loveless Rolling Stone,” the sense of displacement marking so many young people uncertain about the future tempers the pools of guitar lines, the way her voice has just the slightest ache when she finds a note’s center.
“My influences are all over the place: the Kinks, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Buddy and Julie Miller, Creedence, even Ricky Skaggs. Patty Griffin, Neil Young and Bob Dylan, some acoustic things. Led Zeppelin is my biggest rock influence – and that goes right straight, for me, to Ralph Stanley. That raw bluegrass, the banjo, that’s the same energy and intensity you get in punk.
It’s all music that’s driven, that’s haunted, that cuts and moves.”
To try to put a label on Sellers’ sound is tricky. If there’s a slight drawl when she sings, it’s where she comes from. But the sound – “I love trashy drums and telecaster guitars, but then that dreamy atmospheric Daniel Lanois kind of effect” – has an immediacy and an urgency, as well as a porous jagged edge that could only be described as “garage country.”
“It’s so much more like more garage rock, that raw raging stuff. It’s Ryan Adams and Dwight Yoakam, who are merciless and just keep coming – even when they’re quiet. So that fits... in a weird way. It’s better than anything else I can call it.”
And never underestimate how important melody is to the woman raised on the road with her mother critically acclaimed progressive traditionalist Lee Ann Womack. “The kinds of melodies I’m drawn to I don’t see coming from anywhere else. The feeling under a song comes from the notes and how they move from one to another; that’s the real essence of a song. That’s why I like a lot of bluegrass and Robert Johnson, the melody tells you as much as the words do.”
Sellers was basted in music before she was even born. Her father Jason Sellers, now a top songwriter, was on the road with Ricky Skaggs, then had his own solo deal. The Grammy-winning Womack is a singer’s singer, who’s performed with or for Willie Nelson, Buddy Miller, the Fairfield Four, Steve Earle and Maya Angelou.
“All my memories are sitting on the bus, listening to my Mom play and sing. Always being on the way to somewhere else... and I loved it.”
The rootlessness comes honest. As does a perspective that in some ways outstrips her years. “The way I grew up, I look at certain situations differently, see how motivations change. I didn’t love seeing how people behaved when my Mom was in a room and how they behaved when she wasn’t but it gave me perspective.”
It also taught the dark-haired introspective the importance of holding the music above all else. Though she’d written since she was young, “I didn’t consider myself a songwriter ‘til I started writing for this album. Then I couldn’t imagine not writing all my songs. When you’ve been playing your whole life, you want to know the songs are as true as you can make them. Who’s truer to my life than me?”
Certainly no one has a take like Miss Aubrie Sellers. From the pointed impaling of sensationalism of “Magazines” to the emergence from petty backstabbing of the meandering “People Talking,” the whirling reality check “Living Is Killing Me” to the lothario-slashing noir “Liar Liar,” there’s no flinching or apologies given. Instead the record thrashes, lurches and exorcises much of what she finds annoying.
“That’s how it really feels: that frustration, that jagged, raucous stuff…I mean, when you see all this stuff around you – hypocrisy, insincerity, vanity for vanity’s sake. You can own it and laugh, or buy in and I’m just…not…buying…in.”
“We are all looking for the same kinds of things,” she concedes. “But I feel disconnected a lot from people my age, whether it’s the lack of direction or focus…or the idea the goal is to be famous, not for something, but just famous.
“Is the party culture as good as it gets? That’s what we’re supposed to want? Really? This hyper-extroversion is almost it’s own pathology. And if you’re not that, it’s not okay? I think it’s okay to be a thinker, to be quiet and explore things like music, books, conversations. When you’re like that, it makes the songs richer, really, and not so all-the-same.
“There’s that line ‘Are you here to stay? Where’d you get those shoes? Why you walking around with new city blues?’ that says it all for me. It’s why I called the album New City Blues. For me it encompasses a perpetual feeling of loneliness, and of not fitting in…feeling like everyone’s always looking and judging and feeling insecure.
“But I also liked it as a title because I felt it reflects the subject matter on this record, the same kind of “blues” people have always sung about, just in a new way, and with a new sound. Most of the songs have those dark undertones, so it seemed honest and appropriate.”
And real. If the world according to Aubrie Lee Sellers isn’t party 24/7, there’s time to ponder, to reflect, to fall in love instead of lust and to experience the glorious pain of heartbreak before moving on. World-wise, she knows the score – and isn’t afraid to speak the truth; but she’s young enough to still have hope tempered with a wicked wit and true discernment. Maybe that’s the best news of all.
Granger Smith Bio
“IN HIS OWN WORDS”
My name is Granger Smith. Sometimes long, fancy industry bios are helpful, but other times you just need to hear from the guy actually living it, so here’s my story.
I was born and raised Texan, and I’m proud of that. I grew up along with two brothers, a couple of yellow labrador retrievers and parents that stayed together because they loved each other. My life changed when I was 14 years old and decided I would teach myself to play guitar. This was motivated by two things: I thought the guitar would make girls pay attention to me, and George Strait played one. By the time I turned 15, I was performing weekends on small town stages in North Texas, and doing my best as a fan club member to attend every George Strait concert within driving distance. Playing high school football was an important rite of passage for me, along with hunting and fishing, but the dream of a music career consumed me. At age 19, I was satisfied with enough songs I had written to make an album. As a freshman at Texas A&M, I was able to scrape together some studio money by pre-selling the album to friends around campus. For being just a kid, that album did pretty well. It landed me a songwriting deal with EMI Music Publishing in Nashville, and the following year, I took the leap to Tennessee.
My time in Nashville was important. I absorbed the craft of songwriting from some of the best, learned my way around studios and recording gear, (which paid off for me later) and cut my teeth on countless stages as both a singer and as a steel guitar player for other singers. After four years, I had a shelf full of song demos, a little bit of music business know-how and a strong conviction to move back to Texas, finish my degree at Texas A&M, and start a band.
Moving back to College Station meant basically starting over. The gigs were hard to book and when they did, nobody showed up to watch. But I was happy and felt creative. I saved money by making albums out of my house and using my band. We wore out vehicles and went from two pickup trucks, to a suburban, to a van and then another van. The trailers we towed got bigger, and ever so slowly, so did our crowds. I learned how to use a camera and some editing software for making homemade music videos and we made lots of them.
My little brother, Tyler joined me in 2008. He traded a pretty good job at the bank to jump in an old van and sell t-shirts in honky-tonk dive bars. I think he did it not only because he shared the same vision as me, but also because his competitive nature was excited about proving a bunch of people wrong. And that’s exactly what we did. Together we conspired and worked from the ground up with the goal of not only building an artist, but a brand. We embraced social media, searched for real connections with fans, studied our predecessors and ignored our doubters. The good shows helped pay for all the bad ones, and the songs that sold helped fund all the others that didn’t. We put communities first, knowing that without the people, we were without a job.
We created alter-egos through videos to help promote the music and that’s where Earl Dibbles Jr. came from in the summer of 2011. It started as a short, funny video that my brothers and I filmed out where my parents live in Central Texas, but it turned out to be something that completely changed the shape of my career. I actually like to think of it as an “intentional accident” because as planned, the video went viral and became a huge promotional tool for my music. But we had no way to know if it would actually work, especially since many of my videos before it never caught fire.
In the early morning of April 16, 2013, I woke up and checked the iTunes store on my phone with tired eyes. I was absolutely shocked to see my new album, Dirt Road Driveway sitting at #1. Things were rapidly changing on the road, too. We were seeing sold out shows in markets we had never played, and a passion in fans unlike anything I had seen before. After independently releasing 7 studio albums, 1 live album and 2 EPs, I finally signed my first record deal in 2015. I met some great people at Broken Bow Music Group (BBR Music Group) in Nashville who sought us out, believed in my dedication and wanted to take what I was already doing, and magnify the message. We worked together not only as colleagues, but as friends unified on the same mission. Within only weeks of the signing, my debut single “Backroad Song” was a hit at mainstream country radio faster than any of us expected.
A few years ago, I was standing with my boots in red, sandy, Iraqi soil watching a beautifully majestic Middle Eastern sunset, when one of my band members asked me, “Can you believe music got us here?” No, I can’t. What a journey it has been since I decided to chase this crazy dream. We’ve played 10 countries, 3 continents, even the White House a few times, and I still can’t believe it all started with a few guitar chords. In my song called “Sleeping On The Interstate,” I wrote, “Connecting map dots like poets and prisoners, trying to live more like a lover than sinner, slave to dreams so far away.” That’s me. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the music business, it’s that you don’t really choose this life, you are this life. That’s the truth no matter if you’re selling albums or not. I do what I love and love what I do, and there’s no sweeter freedom than that.
SATURDAY APRIL 16th
Zac Dunlap and Hannah Dunlap are country musicians, singers, and song writers from Little Rock, Arkansas. They have also lived in Nashville, Tennessee where they spend a lot of their time playing, writing, and recording. The band’s first album "The Journey Begins" was released in October of 2014. It includes the big hit "When the Road Gets Hard" which is steadily gaining popularity as well as many others.
The band was formed in the summer of 2014 and in only just one year have already released an album, 3 music videos, performing in Branson, Nashville, and many other places across the mid-south. The Band has currently wrapped up their first Mini Tour with their 2nd one scheduled for the summer of 2016.
Their high energy shows make for a lot of fun and great interaction with the crowd. Their music style has been compared to a southern rock style blended with modern country. The band is already working on their plans for their next album which is slated for a summer of 2016 release. The band has also opened up for many national headlining acts as well as been referenced and praised by multiple main stream country artist.
In 2014 Zac and his wife Hannah founded the charity "Jammin for Youth". This is a charity that gives back to kids that play sports that have financial hardships. Jammin for Youth has a staff of over 15 volunteer members that help make young children's dreams of playing local sports come to life. They have already raised money to help dozens of kids in the first part of 2014 alone.
Jordan Davis Bio
Shreveport, LA seemed to be the perfect back-drop for artist/writer, Jordan Davis, to grow up. “Shreveport is just big enough for me to understand what city life was like and small enough to understand that lifestyle.” Davis, like most boys, grew up playing sports, excelling in football and baseball in high school, “I got offers to play baseball from several different universities, but I didn’t want to do that. I knew that I wanted to write and play music,” says Davis. After graduating from Louisiana State University, Davis’ passion and love for music is what made him move to Nashville.
When you hear Jordan Davis sing, you instantly know that he made the right decision. “I grew up with an iPod, it had everything from John Prine to Jay-Z to George Straight to Kings of Leon.” Listening to Jordan’s music, you know that all of those influences in his life help shape his style. In just a few short years, Jordan Davis is becoming a commonly heard name around Nashville’s Music Row. Jordan is already gaining attention from major labels, booking agents, and management companies.
William Michael Morgan Bio
As a Grammy nominated producer and Executive Vice President of A&R at Warner Music Nashville, you might say that Scott Hendricks qualifies as an expert on country singers. So when he gets excited about someone, it’s worth paying attention. And right now he’s excited about Warner Bros. Records newcomer William Michael Morgan.
The tall, easy-going, unfailingly polite 22-year-old from Vicksburg, Mississippi, has the look you’d hope for in a young entertainer and the stature to wear a black cowboy hat, a symbol that stands for something in the country music world. And he’s certainly got the chops as an award-winning young performer, who earned recording and publishing deals before turning 20. But for Hendricks, it all comes down to that voice.
“William Michael Morgan is seriously one of the very best singers I have ever recorded and I have recorded a bunch,” Hendricks said. “Recording a voice typically reveals any and all imperfections. I will never forget the first time we went into the studio and heard William Michael's voice come across the speakers. It was a jaw-dropping experience. I'm anxious for the world to hear what I heard. It truly is a special voice.”
Country fans will get their introduction to Morgan with “I Met a Girl,” his sweetly romantic debut single. Old and new, fast and slow, steel and piano, the song will give fans exact GPS coordinates of where Morgan is coming from.
“I like to sing about love. I’m a lover, not a fighter,” Morgan says with a Mississippi lilt in his voice. “I like to write about having a good time. I’m a typical 22 year old.”
Well, not really. Most folks are still trying to figure themselves out at 22. Morgan knew where he was going from an early age and his parents were always there for him. In the ninth grade, Morgan put together a band of middle-aged musicians who shared his love of Keith Whitley, Merle Haggard and George Jones.
“We didn’t really have much of a name for the band, we just loved to get together and play,” Morgan said. “The great thing about finding those guys who were older than me is they all loved the same kind of music I did and we just blended so well. I was lucky enough to have a steel guitar player all those years, and I just fell in love with that sound.”
The no-name band played honky tonks on the weekends while Morgan worked odd jobs – he was a roofer, a cashier at the Piggly Wiggly – during the week. He began traveling back and forth to Nashville to write by the time he was 16. Morgan moved to town permanently when he was 18.
“Honestly, I didn’t know how to wash my clothes,” Morgan said. He didn’t have any money to plug into the coin slot anyway. But contacts he built with Managers Joe Carter and Mike Taliaferro along with producer Jimmy Ritchey quickly paid off when he signed a record deal with Warner Music Nashville and a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell at 19.
These developments exposed him to Music Row, where he learned to expand his musical repertoire and education. He still keeps his ear out for those special songs like the ones by his musical heroes, though, and thinks he’s found one in “I Met a Girl,” co-produced by Hendricks and Ritchey and co-written by Shane McAnally, Trevor Rosen and Sam Hunt. It’s the kind of song that goes perfectly with that timeless voice of Morgan’s.
“That was the thing about those older songs by Haggard and Jones: they had those lyrics that really, really hit home. Whether it be a fun up-tempo ‘Working Man Blues’ kind of song or ‘The Cold, Hard Truth.’ Each lyric just hits you at home. I think that’s what I try to do. Whether it be happy or sad, I try to put the most heart into I can.”
Craig Wayne Boyd Bio
Dynamic and charismatic, Craig Wayne Boyd’s sound is rooted in the southern tradition of country music and is topped with a rebellious flair. Growing up in the Dallas, Texas suburb of Mesquite, Boyd was born under the influence of gospel and country music.
He first developed as a multi-instrumentalist at a very young age, and was later his church choir director and a touring musician with various national acts. Like the Texas sun, music burned hot in his soul, and was the one constant in his life, even when life brought unexpected and unwelcome changes for him.
After a trip to Nashville brought life-changing events his way, Boyd headed to Music City and signed a publishing deal with EMI shortly thereafter. After several years of prolific songwriting, Boyd turned to the road and toured constantly, logging more than 1,000 shows in four years, and opening for acts like Jamey Johnson, Randy Houser and Brantley Gilbert.
JT Hodges Bio
Success can be defined in many different ways, and for a songwriter who is also a recording artist, the best definition of success is to remain true to who you are as an artist. This may often mean eschewing the chart trend and going your own way musically. JT Hodges, who considers himself a writer as much as an artist, did that on his self-titled debut two years ago, and takes the same path for his upcoming, as yet to be titled sophomore release. The lead single, “Already High,” is setting the stage for a new album’s worth of music from Hodges that will reflect his growth musically, stylistically and as a storyteller.
“I have respected country music all of my life and no matter where country music goes stylistically it will always be a lyric based format,” Hodges said. “It’s the kind of music where people want to hear a story and feel something real and honest. I think this new music has challenged me and set a new vibe within the sound of what everyone will hear when they listen. I personally feel it is my best music yet.”
Besides “Already High,” Hodges and his label, Show Dog Universal Music, released a second new song, “Lay It Down,” exclusively to Sirius satellite radio. According to Hodges, he wants to get as much new music out to the fans as possible prior to the release of a new CD.
The upcoming album will offer a more reflective take on the music and a different twist in the lyrics. It includes a diversity that suggests Hodges is creating a whole new kind of Country Pop Rock music blend. His first three singles, “Goodbyes Made You Mine, “Hunt You Down” and “Sleepy Little Town” were vital precursors to what is to come in the evolution of his music. These songs also lay a solid groundwork with music fans; collectively selling well more than 300,000 downloads. Add those sales to consistent touring over the past year, and a star turn in the Hallmark Channel’s December 2013 movie Finding Christmas and the table is well set for Hodges’ return to the country music charts.
“I am looking forward to getting my new music and the story behind it out,” Hodges said. “I’m very proud of what’s being created. It’s true to me, and I think any artist would say he or she has no regrets and can hold their head high if that’s the case.”
Growing up in a musical family in Ft. Worth, Texas and spending most of his free time at his dad’s studio, Jim Hodges Buffalo Sound, gave JT a unique foundation for music appreciation. Affectionately known as Pops, his dad studied concert piano at Julliard and jazz composition at the University of Texas. His mother Marsha, who Hodges says to this day can still out-sing him by a mile, decided to pass on a country record deal with MCA in order to pursue motherhood. The studio was the family’s second home and at age seven Hodges was singing and writing his own lyrics. When asked what the first song he ever wrote was, JT laughed and replied, “It was called ‘Lover Girl’ and I was in 1st grade. Hey, I still think it’s a hit.”
Hodges witnessed numerous artists and producers at work in his family’s studio, including heavyweights like T-Bone Burnett, Michael Bolton and Delbert McClinton, and each left a lasting impression on him. His grandmother loved Conway Twitty; his mother loved the early rock of Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly while Pops often praised artists like George Strait, Reba McEntire and Garth Brooks. All of this has contributed to Hodges being viewed as the sultry country music artist with a little bit of attitude and a Texas size personality.
In addition to the timeless classics he was exposed to at home, his musical influences also include Don Henley, Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp and Tom Petty. He considers these artists timeless, honest treasures. And it’s this honesty that he carries in his own music.
“I started writing songs at an early age and was around such great music that it is naturally a part of me,” Hodges said. “Of course, I was interested in other things like sports as a kid, but music was always there.”
After spending a few years in Los Angeles, where he met wife Kasey, Hodges moved to Nashville in 2010. He quickly caught the eye of some of the industry’s most influential producers and managers. He signed with Show Dog-Universal Music in 2011 and released his debut single “Hunt You Down” from his album JT Hodges, which charted on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs. The follow up single “Goodbyes Made You Mine” raced up the charts and the music video quickly racked up more than one million views; the song continues to be a fan favorite. Another single off the album “Sleepy Little Town” spent two weeks at #1 on Sirius/XM’s The Highway. That same year Hodges was nominated as a semi-finalist in the New Artist of the Year category for the 47th Annual Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards.
The Texas newcomer’s original and raucous sound combined with his soulful lyrics make him an undeniable country-rock artist. Hodges has produced himself and worked with a variety of other producers including Busbee, Nathan Chapman, Don Cook, Ross Copperman and Show Dog- Universal Music President Mark Wright --- who has worked on both Hodges’ freshman and current sophomore efforts. He has collaborated with numerous award-winning songwriters such as Rivers Rutherford, Chris Stapleton, Shane McAnally, Eric Paslay, Nathan Chapman, Ross Copperman, Don Cook and Mark Wright. He has toured with the likes of Eric Church, Eli Young Band, Toby Keith and Miranda Lambert among others. He has also performed multiple times on the legendary stage of the Grand Ole Opry.
As mentioned earlier, in December of 2013 Hodges took his theatre and acting talents to network television when he starred in Finding Christmas, a Hallmark Films release on the Hallmark Channel during the network’s popular holiday programming schedule. The movie became the #1 rated movie of the week and cemented a rave review for Hodges from the New York Times. He also performed a heartwarming rendition of the holiday classic “Joy to the World,” which was released digitally the same month.
It goes without saying that JT Hodges is acting every bit of himself, making the music that he loves and giving back to the fans what he gets from them…an honest reaction. Under the bright lights of the stage, one has no problem recognizing the singer’s passion and heartfelt thankfulness for his audience. His newest music continues to set JT Hodges apart from other artists and offers a new style with very little restrictions.
“The journey continues to be amazing and that’s what it’s all about,” Hodges said. “Making music, the kind that is true to me, is all that I want to do.”