423 North Main Street
Tulsa, OK 74103
7:00 p.m. Saturday, June 29, 2013
Folk | Americana
Capitol Records Nashville artist Jon Pardi may be new to the country music scene, but his strikingly original songs and relaxed confidence would suggest otherwise. His sound is undeniably country — paying homage to some of his musical heroes such as Dwight Yoakam, George Strait and Alan Jackson —with his lived-in voice and authentic delivery. But it's his carefree musical style combined with his high-energy live show which give this singer-songwriter his own niche in a diverse country landscape.
Hailing from a small town in Northern California, Pardi's first taste of country music stardom started in his Grandmother's house, where he sang to her with the radio and on karaoke tapes at the tender age of 3. The singer-songwriter spent his youth perfecting his craft – by 8 years old, he was playing the guitar and at 12, he was writing his own songs. Pardi had his first band at age 14, performing a mixture of classic rock and country, all the while polishing his live performance skills. Determined to make his dream of country music fame a reality, Pardi moved to Nashville at 22 years old, where his unique musical style gained the attention of Song Factory which led to a publishing contract, and later a record deal.
Last year, Pardi signed with the legendary Capitol Nashville, home to recording artists as varied and successful as Frank Sinatra, Garth Brooks, and Keith Urban. Pardi has shared the stage with Pat Green, Dierks Bentley and has opened for Luke Bryan's "Spring Break" tour and Eric Church "Blood, Sweat and Beers" tour. He has just finished the final touches on his debut album. Pardi's first single will be hitting radio stations nationwide this Spring.
Expectations for aspiring teenage singers are fairly well defined thanks to a pop culture that seems to be saturated with them. The list starts with a charming vocal ability, some stage presence and a bit of charisma. Seventeen year-old Rachel Farley definitely possesses all of these characteristics, but where the young Georgia native stands out from the rest is that she also exudes an undeniable air of strong, yet humble confidence, tenacious independence and songwriting that radiates wisdom beyond her years.
When stacking attributes in an attempt to define RED BOW Records Rachel Farley and her music, many qualities quickly step to the fore: Strength. Purpose. Conviction. The rest is almost baseline, a foundation upon which rests her single most unexpected characteristic: Artistry.
Rachel's cohesive sense of self, message and mission casts everything else in sharper relief. Her powerful voice becomes an oak-cured alto equally adept at gut-punch emotion and fire-breathing raucousness. Years spent performing with and learning from Brantley Gilbert, Colt Ford, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and more seem to be the apprenticeship of a craftsman. And a fearless honesty amplified by personal tragedy render all but truth inconsequential in the songs she writes. For Rachel Farley, life and music are much too real and much too raw to be forced into a box.
After all, it's not often a 17-year-old breaks onto the scene with a fully formed worldview. "You can be tough and a strong person without being a bad girl or mean," she explains. "You don't have to be a pushover to be a good girl, and you don't have to be fake. And that's what I hope comes across in my music. Obviously I'm young, and with people my age there's a lot of insecurity and trying to fit in, but that's too much pressure. Be who you are and let people respect you for that instead of trying to fit their mold. You can't be extraordinary if you're trying be like everybody else."
And if anything is certain, it's that Rachel Farley won't be following the crowd. "Music is all I ever wanted to do," she says. "When I was four or five I was playing concerts in my bedroom for millions of people and writing songs. When I started playing guitar at 12 and got my first gig, there was no question in my mind."
That first show wasn't exactly a dream come true. "The show was two hours long and, about two weeks before the show, I realized my eight songs weren't going to go very far," she laughs. "So I had my elementary school music teacher come out and play a few songs with me. That made it last about an hour, I took a 15-minute break and did the exact same set again. I had the place packed with friends and most of them never came out to see me again. And I don't blame them at all."
Rachel's learning curve was steep and lightning fast, however. The following year she played 100 shows. At 13, she met then-rising local performer Brantley Gilbert and started opening shows for him. "Of course now he's got radio hits and is blowing up everywhere, but even back then he was huge in Georgia," she recalls. "He was such an inspiration in showing what could be built and the kind of show that could be put on at that level. You don't have to have expensive lights and videos to reach people."
The commitment was already intense. "I went to my first two days of seventh grade and that was it," she laughs. "I had to start homeschooling. You can only have so many fake doctor's appointments before somebody gets suspicious. We were playing so many gigs and driving to Nashville so much that it just didn't make sense anymore."
And there was another kind of education going on anyway. "My mom was really smart," Rachel says. "She read every book she could find on the music industry and did everything she could to help me without being overbearing with my artistic development." Farley met her manager and producer Michael Knox (Jason Aldean) about this time and went on to sign her first recording and publishing deal at 15. It was a bittersweet period for the Farley family.
"That was the year my dad was diagnosed with a very rare cancer," she says. He passed away in August 2011. "You learn so much and it's not all negative," she continues. "There's a side of me that's very blessed to have been through it and have the perspective I have. He was so proud of me – the kind of dad who made sure his co-workers all had my demo CD from when I was 11.
"I don't know that it's affected my music; maybe it's too early to know. You do realize that a lot of things aren't important and some things matter more than people know. Carrying that with me in life is going to make me stronger. At the end of the day what matters is how you and God view yourself. If you know that you can come before God with what you've done in life and he can be proud of you, you've done things right."
Now Rachel's opening for Jason Aldean's sold-out tour with Luke Bryan, and she can be heard on Brantley Gilbert's latest single "Kick It In The Sticks." "'Hey, trouble, whassup?' Yeah, that's me," she laughs. "I'm in the video for a millisecond. And with the tour, Jason heard my music about a year ago and apparently liked it. For him to pick me without a radio hit or anything is amazing." Meanwhile, she's finishing work on her debut album for Broken Bow Records – home to Aldean, Dustin Lynch and more.
One song is particularly dear. "I just call it 'My Daddy's Song,'" she explains. "One of the last things he asked was for me to write him a song, and I actually wrote it the night he passed away." Brantley Gilbert and songwriter Mike Dekle were among the first to reach out to Farley after her father's passing, and she joined them that evening at a benefit show for a fallen police officer. "Getting ready for the show, the chorus just hit me. I remember telling Brantley that if I finished it, I'd sing it at the funeral. I woke up that morning and the rest just fell out in no time at all. I thought, 'Okay, I'm doing this today.' It's everything I was feeling; very honest, very raw."
That kind of depth might not be expected from some precocious kid singer with a big voice, but it's exactly what can be expected from an artist like Rachel Farley.
It’s no surprise that those closest to the up and coming Nashville singer and songwriter Jared Ashley, think of him as just a little bit of a stickler when it comes to details.
“It’s always been attention to the small things that have made the biggest impact to my career,” he says with a bit of a smile. “Whether it’s the pacing of the live show, the vocal harmonies or the way the bass and drums play off one another, all those things matter.” And little by little, all the elements have come together to make Jared Ashley one of Nashville’s most promising new artists.
Born in Hobbs, NM, near the oil fields on the Texas-New Mexico border, Ashley relocated to Newnan, GA with his dad as a small child. “Growing up, my parents listened to Alabama, Ronnie Milsap, Kenny Rogers. I was always around country music as a kid,” Jared recalls.
He received his first guitar at the age of five and it proved a constant friend to him throughout childhood. The Ashley family later returned to Hobbs during Jared’s sophomore year in high school and, not knowing a soul his own age, he began honing his guitar playing and writing music as a way to pass the time.
“That’s when I really sat down and got serious about writing songs and playing the guitar,” he says. “I was really just trying to consume my time with things other than being bored out of my mind,” he says. Inspired by the revitalization of country music in the early 90’s by artists like Travis Tritt and fellow Newnan native Alan Jackson, Jared came to claim country music as his own.
After high school, Jared joined the Navy, serving four years aboard the USS Independence and USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carriers. He spent much of that time stationed in Yokosuka, Japan while also serving two tours of duty in the Persian Gulf. “On long trips out to sea, there’s not a whole lot to do when you’re off duty. You can stare at water or you can play the guitar. And that’s when I got more serious about it.”
At the encouragement of his Navy buddies, Jared began playing acoustic gigs at George's Country Bar, located just off the naval base in Yokosuka. It was there his music caught the ear of a friend who introduced him to a contact with deep ties in the Nashville music community. With a year left on his commitment with the Navy, Jared made his first trip to Nashville and was instantly hooked on the town’s thriving scene.
Jared moved to Nashville the following year, assembling a band nearly as soon as he arrived. His talents quickly landed him the coveted weekend gig at the world-famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge on lower Broadway. “Lower Broad is a boot camp,” Jared says. “You’re gonna meet a ton of people and you’re gonna learn a lot. It’ll either make you or break you.”
The gigs at Tootsie proved to be a tremendous break for Jared, giving him the opportunity to meet and impress numerous Music Row executives at his shows and make his first foray into the recording studio. It was there that Jared also met the booking agent who began to mold Jared into the road warrior he has become.
After placing fifth on Season Four of “Nashville Star” in 2006, Jared used the exposure to further his ability to tour and build a fan base as a live artist, even without the benefit of a record deal.
The many miles spent on the road have given Jared an even greater opportunity to hone his songwriting and test his material with his live audience. “I’m a songwriter first, and I became an artist because I wanted people to hear my songs,” Jared says. “I’m really enjoying the songs I’m writing more because they represent where I am in my life right now.”
Now more confident with his abilities to write songs as well as spot the special ones from other writers in the Nashville community, Ashley headed into the studio in 2010 with co-producer Bobby Terry to begin assembling an album for his fans to purchase at shows. The self-titled, self-financed project made it abundantly clear that he had grown into an artist fully capable of hanging with Nashville’s best.
The music also brought Jared to the attention of Blaster Entertainment, a multi-faceted Ohio-based entertainment company. Jared was soon signed for management representation, and it was an easy decision for both parties to sign him to a record deal when the company’s Blaster Records division launched a full Nashville operation in 2012 behind the release of albums by Hank Williams, Jr. and Aaron Lewis.
Ashley, who maintains an aggressive touring schedule playing more than 150 shows per year, is currently on a nationwide tour visiting country radio stations to promote his first single, “Last Train To Memphis.” The song, penned by Ashley with Nick Sturms and Jeremy McComb, is one of eleven tracks from his forthcoming Blaster Records release.
Jared’s single-minded determination can be found in the lyric of “Last Train To Memphis” -- ‘It’s a one-way track, there ain’t no going back.’ That dedication is finally paying off tenfold in the realization of his lifelong dreams. Free