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Tickets to The Bluestone
March 31, 2022 7 PM
at The Bluestone
FOR DILLON CARMICHAEL, THE LAST THREE YEARS HAVE BEEN A WHIRLWIND, TO SAY THE LEAST.
Since unleashing his critically acclaimed 2018 debut, Hell On An Angel, he’s toured with everyone from Lynyrd Skynyrd and Trace Adkins to Dwight Yoakam and Justin Moore, written a song for Travis Tritt’s latest album, racked up millions of streams on Spotify, gone viral on TikTok, and even gotten engaged. And while you might have expected the cancellation of a year’s worth of tour dates to finally slow him down, Carmichael instead used his pandemic downtime to head right back into the studio and record Hot Beer, a brand new collection of high-energy, feel-good country.
“I felt like my catalog could use a little more fun in it,” says Carmichael. “After putting out a record as heavy as Hell On An Angel, I wanted to make something faster, something looser, something that’d leave you with a smile on your face.”
Recorded with producers Jon Pardi and Ryan Gore, Dan Huff, and Phil O’Donnell, Hot Beer is all sly humor and raw heart, with tongue-in-cheek lyrics and double entendres lurking around every corner. Carmichael’s rich, velvety baritone is still very much front and center here, but there’s a newfound playfulness to his delivery that manages to offer up a knowing wink even as it breaks your heart. It’s a delicate tightrope for any artist to walk, but if Hot Beer proves anything, it’s that Dillon Carmichael is a songwriter who knows how to take his fun seriously.
“Whether I’m singing a tear jerker or a party tune, the only thing that really matters to me is that it’s a great song,” Carmichael says. “And great songs are honest songs.”
Growing up in the small town of Burgin, KY, Carmichael inherited his passion for honest music through familial osmosis: his father and uncles performed in a Southern Gospel Quartet, his mother sang all over the eastern part of the state, and her brothers (John Michael and Eddie Montgomery) both enjoyed massive chart success. As a kid, Carmichael fell in love with country legends like Waylon Jennings and Vern Gosdin alongside the rock and roll he heard on the radio, and by the time he hit his teens, he was writing his own songs and performing live.
“I didn’t at any point consciously decide I was going to be a musician,” says Carmichael. “It just happened naturally. I found a kind of truth in country music that I couldn’t get anywhere else.”
After finishing high school, Carmichael relocated to Nashville, where he earned a publishing deal at the tender age of 18. It was his first taste of life outside of rural Kentucky, and the discovery of a whole city full of like-minded artists whose lives revolved around making music thrilled him. Buoyed by his early success, Carmichael began collaborating all over town with some of most revered writers in the business, but no Nashville resident had a bigger influence on him than producer Dave Cobb, whose stewardship helped guide Hell On An Angel from a dream to a reality.
“Dave just immediately understood my vision,” says Carmichael. “He helped me zero in on my truth.”
Merging a sonically progressive palette with a tasteful reverence for the past, Hell On An Angel was at once old school and modern, traditional and contemporary, timeless and timely. The New York Times compared Carmichael to Randy Travis and said his voice “moves with the heft and certainty of a tractor-trailer,” while NPR praised his “deep holler,” and Parade raved that “Carmichael defines pure country.” He landed on Artist To Watch lists from Billboard, Rolling Stone, Taste of Country, Pandora, and more, reached #2 at country radio’s Most Added chart with his debut single, “Dancing Away With My Heart,” and electrified festival crowds from Seven Peaks to Faster Horses.
“One of the things I learned getting to play big festivals and arenas and theaters was that it doesn’t matter if there’s 200 people or 20,000 people in the audience,” says Carmichael. “They’re there to hear country music and have a good time. It’s that simple.”
And so Carmichael began plotting his follow-up to Hell On Angel with those good times in mind. Reaching back to the lighthearted 90s country that had always held a special place in his heart, he began cutting a series of lively, uptempo, sometimes hilarious tunes full of mischief and innuendo. Lead single “Hot Beer,” written by Carmichael’s good friend HARDY, rattles off a list of everything the singer would rather do than get back together with his cheating ex (“I’d rather drink a hot beer / Build a fire in the pouring rain / Burn all of my fishing gear / Then set sail in a hurricane”), while the anthemic “Big Truck,” written with David Lee Murphy and Jessi Alexander, questions the true source of his partner’s affection, and the bawdy “Sawin’ Logs” spins a tale of two lovers on very different pages.
“Phil sent me that song last year and it was our summer jam,” says Carmichael. “We rocked out to it all the time, and I posted an acoustic version to TikTok just for fun one day. It ended up getting millions and millions of views and everyone started singing along to it at my shows, so I knew I had to record it.”
Not everything on Hot Beer is quite so irreverent, though. The sweetly sincere “Since You’ve Been In It” celebrates the kind of love that makes everything better; the bittersweet “Somewhere She Ain’t” reckons with the ghosts of a lost love that just won’t fade away; and the grateful “Lucky Man” takes stock of the little things that add up to a beautiful life.
“My uncle Eddie originally recorded ‘Lucky Man’ with Troy Gentry back in 2006,” says Carmichael, “and I thought putting my own spin on it would be a nice nod to my family legacy, as well as a tribute to Troy, who passed away in 2017. I’ve loved that song ever since I heard them sing it for the first time, and I’m honored be able to share my version of it.”
With live music returning and his calendar filling up once more, Dillon Carmichael is indeed a lucky man. And with Hot Beer, it’s clear he’s ready to dive back into the whirlwind and have some serious fun.
The Bluestone does not require COVID Vaccinations to enter our venue. We follow all local guidelines and cleaning procedures. The current Columbus “Mask Mandate” for an indoor event does not apply to anyone who is “ACTIVELY EATING OR DRINKING.” We kindly ask that you enter the building with a mask on. You can keep it on or remove it as long as you are actively EATING OR DRINKING! This will be a full capacity show, and it is an “ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK EVENT.”
Whitey Morgan and the 78’s
with Alex Williams
April 10, 2022 7 PM
at The Bluestone
About Whitey Morgan:
In a career spanning 15 years, Morgan has released five studio albums and a live recording from his hometown of Flint, Michigan. Additionally, he has toured relentlessly averaging over 125 shows annually. Rolling Stone has described him as a “Waylon Jennings acolyte.. modern day outlaw [with a] hard hitting blue-collar brand of music” while NPR Music hailed, “Staying close to the sound and subject matter of classic outlaw artists like Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard and David Allan Coe, Morgan is poised to lead this hand-worn brand of country to the next generation.” His most recent LP, Sonic Ranch (2015), was released to critical acclaim and praised by Detroit Free Press as, “a bold well-crafted album that doesn’t forsake the gritty undercurrent running through Morgan’s stuff.”
Whitey Morgan and the 78’s anticipated new album, self-produced by Morgan, was recorded in the Neve Room at famed Sonic Ranch Studios in Tornillo, Texas. Featured on the record are collaborations with acclaimed songwriters Travis Meadows and Ward Davis plus a cover of ZZ Top’s “Just Got Paid.” Alongside Morgan, the 78’s consist of Brett Robinson (pedal steel guitar), Joey Spina (guitar), Alex Lyon (bass) and Eric Savage (drums).
Of the recording, Morgan shares, “It’s not like my vision happened overnight. I’ve been chipping away at it forever. It’s slowly evolving and it’s going in a little bit different direction. It’s not so straightforward anymore. This record definitely has a wider path, it’s broader, but it still sounds like a Whitey Morgan record.” With grandparents from Tennessee and Kentucky and hometown roots in Flint, Michigan, Morgan’s family geography has factored into his approach to music.
w/ George Birge
November 17, 2022 8 PM
Doors Open 7 PM
at The Bluestone
About Matt Stell:
THE COUNTRY MUSIC INDUSTRY HAS LONG BEEN FILLED WITH ITS SHARE OF CHARACTERS. FROM WILLIE TO HANK AND DOLLY TO WAYLON, EVERY LEGEND STARTS OUT AS JUST ANOTHER ARTIST THAT DOESN’T FIT EASILY INTO SOME PREDETERMINED BOX. AND AS HARD AS COUNTRY MUSIC MAY TRY TO FIT MATT STELL INTO ONE OF THOSE TRIED AND TRUE BOXES, IT’S DARN NEAR IMPOSSIBLE.
Heck, he’s 6’7.
But more so than the massive physique that helped Stell become a collegiate basketball standout, the Platinum certified singer has proven via the songs he sings and the shows he puts on that he is far too powerful of an artist to ever fit into some sort of singular category. In fact, to describe Stell in a few words would be a complete disservice to the man he is and the artist he looks to become as he releases his new EP Better Than That on October 16.
“If you cut a groove too deep, it’s hard to get out of it,” he remarks with a chuckle. “I’ve never wanted to be some one-dimensional artist, and with this new EP, I think I’m determined to show that there is much more to me than just a guy who can sing a love song.”
Indeed, the Arkansas native comes from a long line of self proclaimed badasses. He can spin a romantic verse as easy as he can rock out an anthem. He can overanalyze a word as easily as he can let the melody ride a lyrical wave. And yes, he gets as much enjoyment out of discovering a hook in the writing room as he does hooking a fish.
“When you step out into that river and the salmon are still swimming upstream like they have for thousands of years, it’s a real cathartic, therapeutic thing for me,” he says of a recent fishing trip to Alaska. “It’s a great reset.”
In everything he does, it’s evident that Stell is reflective and adventurous and funny and pretty damn smart. And if he’s being totally honest with himself, he’s never been one to love a love song.
Yep, you heard that right.
Granted, it was in fact a love song that catapulted Stell to country music success in 2019 via his massive hit “Prayed for You,” a life-changer of a song that spent two weeks at the number one spot. As the only debut single to top Billboard’s Country Airplay chart in 2019, and one of NSAI’s “10 Songs We Wish We’d Written,” the hit has gone on to rack up some impressive stats with over 270 million streams, his first RIAA Platinum certification and more than 20 million views of its official music video to date.
But there’s a catch.
“If the only thing you’ve heard is ‘Prayed for You,’ you would have a different idea of who I really am,” Stell explains. “Knowing that you are making music that means something to people is the ultimate compliment, but there is so much more to me.”
A few more of the many facets of Stell are currently on display via his current top 10 and rising single “Everywhere But On,” a song that Stell calls ‘autobiographical’ in the way that it tells the story of a man trying to escape the memories of a long lost love.
“Having two songs on the radio is an incredible thing, but what’s even more incredible is finding your own voice and your own identity,” he says.
Stell showcased a whole bunch of identities in another Better Than That EP standout – “If I Was a Bar.” At a time when some of his fellow artists were perfectly content in simply sitting down with their guitar and playing their songs during the pandemic that Stell lovingly refers to as a ‘damn biological hurricane,’ Stell and his rather relentless work ethic turned out a music video that had him playing thirteen different roles in the span of a 3-plus minute song.
“I threw every stitch of clothing I have ever owned into my truck for that video shoot,” laughs Stell of the somewhat restrictive project. “Sometimes creativity benefits from constraints.”
Yet, there were few constraints on Stell’s songwriting during the creation of the new Better Than That EP, which was co-produced by Stell alongside Ash Bowers. Via songs co-written by Stell such as “I Love You Too,” “Chase It Down” and the title track “Better Than That,” the listener can still hear Stell’s distinctive way of wrapping a lyric around a memory and the twist he can put on a phrase.
“Songwriting is a craft that can get better the more time you put into it,” remarks Stell, as he laments to himself about how much he hates clichés.
But for the first time in his still evolving career, Stell relied on outside writers on three of the eight tracks of the Better Than That EP in an effort to fill in the blanks of the overall project.
One of those cuts is “Sadie,” a melodic brain-buster of a song that offers ‘a sparse lyric but one in which every word means something.’ Another outside cut is “Look At Me Now,” perhaps one of the most earth-shattering love songs in recent memory. Yes, the guy who says love songs aren’t his thing just might make history with yet another love song.
But before Stell looks too far into the future, he finds his soul planted deeply in the present. He is praying for the day he can plug his amp back in and jump on the bus with his band and play these new songs for a live crowd.
This new chapter in his journey leaves Stell with a whole bunch more ammunition in the writing room and a unique vantage point to view the characters in his songs…and the character he might ultimately turn out to be.