Music Spotlight Follow-Up: Donny Van Slee

Since I interviewed Donny Van Slee back in 2022, I’ve always been intrigued by the chiropractor/country music singer who unashamedly goes to the beat of his own drummer. He was the first person to bring artists like Zach Bryan and Jack Johnson to my attention as they are performers that Van Slee likes to emulate.

Because his life is spread in so many directions, you can imagine my surprise when Van Slee showed up on Reba’s team on NBC’s The Voice earlier this spring. When he sang Lanco’s “Greatest Love Story” he was so good that Reba blocked Dan & Shay so she could have him all to herself. He was confident, showing that he was having the time of his life.

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Music Spotlight: Amanda Stewart

Growing up in the mountains of Montana, Amanda Stewart spent much of her time on her grandparents’ ranch, being exposed to the acoustic instrumentation and simple yet honest songwriting of Americana, folk, and country music styles.

She said, “My mom did a little bit of singing in school and was always singing in the car. And I sang with her. We actually did little karaoke contests and things like that. And my dad loved music, too. And my grandparents had a piano in their living room at their ranch. Whenever I would go, I would just be in there plugging away and singing. Nobody was professionally inclined, but it’s just always been a big part of the family life.”

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Music Spotlight: Radney Foster

Not being raised in the world of country music, I missed out on knowing about a lot of key players who are part of the foundation of what Nashville has become. Radney Foster is one such person.

While writing my column for the past six years, Foster’s kept coming up, but I was unfamiliar with his work. Then I saw an interview where Darius Rucker credits Foster for the reason he is in country music.

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Music Spotlight: Century Drive Band

I get invited to see many bands and events in Nashville. One invite was to see the country-rock band, Century Drive at the NashHouse Southern Spoon and Saloon, the week of CMA Fest. By now, I should no longer be surprised at the caliber of talent on any given day in Nashville, but once again I was blown away. Though hailing from Bend, Oregon, this band was as tight and rocking as any southern rock band I have heard.

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Music Spotlight: Donny Van Slee

Donny Van Slee is a Florida boy from the rural town of Weeki Wachee Springs, home of the famous live mermaids. Growing up, Van Slee was shy and his dad bought him a guitar to help him. Later, influenced by the bands he loved – Led Zeppelin and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – he took lessons, but his main focus in school was soccer.

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Music Spotlight: Michael Shaw

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- After interviewing nearly 200 artists, you think I would learn not to be surprised when I delve into someone’s “How they got to Nashville” story, but hearing country-western singer/songwriter Michael Shaw’s story even stunned me.

Michael Shaw was born in Indiana but remembers growing up in Kentucky and Michigan, and later, Ohio.

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Exclusive: Duo Hemp & Denim Release ‘Stay’ Video for Valentine’s Day

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – The favorite retro-rock duo, Hemp & Denim has released a new single, “Stay” for Valentine’s Day. The song is about genuine love and love is what everyone needs right now in this world. The accompanying lyric video for “Stay” is debuting today exclusively to The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. The lyrics illustrate the hardships and triumphs that come with any loving relationship.

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Music Spotlight: A Tale of Two

If Bonnie and Clyde had been musicians instead of bank robbers, they would have been the vocal duo, A Tale Of Two. Combining the best of Americana and Blues melodies with timeless “Southern Gothic” storytelling, Nashville-based A Tale Of Two is an undeniable rising duo in today’s Roots Music scene. Meeting in the local Nashville Jazz venues, Award-Winning vocalist Stephanie Adlington and guitarist Aaron Lessard began performing and writing together, recognizing their artistic chemistry.

A Tale of Two’s inspiration comes from an earlier time and place. In the 1930s, Adlington affirms that “the culture of the time was a lot more interesting than it is now. But of course, we romanticize it. We weren’t there.”

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Music Spotlight: The Woods

Nashville, Tennessee – The Woods comprised of Raquel Cole, Dan O’Rourke, Leland Rooney are all incredible musicians, songwriters, and singers in their own right – and when they come together the sound is truly magical – think Little Big Town meets Midland. After hearing them play together at the Analog Room in the Hutton Hotel, I wanted to find out how this eclectic and diverse trio discovered each other.

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Music Spotlight: Max Gomez

Being a journalist from Nashville, there plenty of talented guitar players that I meet and interview. But I don’t find many traditional, western folk stylists who appreciate the old sound of blues mixed with some Americana. Max Gomez is the exception to the rule.

Gomez was raised in the rarefied musical micro-climate of northern New Mexico. He got a job playing guitar alone and singing when he was 15 in his hometown of Taos, New Mexico. His job was to play at this fancy steak house bar where people would come out to dance. He was supposed to play the guitar in such a way so they could dance.

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