Black-Eyed Susan Day Infield Concert featuring
Goo Goo Dolls
Rodney Atkins, Rachel Farley
5201 Park Heights Avenue
Baltimore, MD, 21215
Goo Goo Dolls
Grammy-nominated artists Goo Goo Dolls recently released “Rebel Beat”, the first single from their new album Magnetic due out May 7th via Warner Bros Records. Goo Goo Dolls have sold over 10 million albums worldwide, with 14 Top 10 Radio hits, more than any other artists in the history of the Hot AC format. They are the only artists to have songs on Billboard’s “Top 100 Songs from 1992-2012” chart, including the number One slot, for “Iris”.
Rodney Atkins knows the value of taking the long way home, of veering off the beaten path onto that road less traveled once in a while. You can hear it in his music, in the lyrics of his smash single, "Take A Back Road," a song that celebrates that feeling of getting away from the noise of everyday life, really living in the moment, and getting right with your soul. Rodney always remains true to himself and constantly strives to evolve and find unique ways of expressing himself through the music he puts out into the world. It's a philosophy he tries to employ throughout his life, and it has led him to some amazing places.
"What does it mean to follow your own path? I try to think about that a lot when I'm making an album," explains Rodney, describing the journey he took in making his fourth album, TAKE A BACK ROAD. "To me, it's going somewhere you've never been, because when you do that, you wind up seeing things that no one has seen before, which means you can paint the picture differently."
The hardworking artist gathered up a whole new set of colors when he set about creating his latest masterpiece and he cranked the whole recording process up a notch in intensity -- which is saying something for a guy who is pretty darned intense to begin with. Rodney wanted this project, his first in nearly three years, to convey and express some emotions and feelings in an authentic yet different way. Simply put -- Rodney had a lot to say musically, and he wanted to say it in exactly the right way.
The east Tennessee native has an impressive track record with hitting on sentiments that strike a chord with the country listener: he's had six number one hits from his first three albums, from "Watching You" and "These Are My People" to his most recent smashes, "Take A Back Road," and "Farmer's Daughter," (which quickly skyrocketed to platinum,) and he's sold over four million singles in the past five years alone. The lead single and title track, "Take A Back Road," has propelled him to even bigger heights with its irresistibly catchy chorus and easygoing, windows down, breezy summer vibe. Rodney knew he had to record the Rhett Akins and Luke Laird song from the beginning. "It's one of those songs that the first time I heard it I thought, 'Boy, that feels good.' It's catchy and something you want to just crank up, but then, the more you hear it, you realize it's not just a ditty - it's about life. If you want it to be just summer ear candy, it can just be that, but also it's about getting right with your soul, coming down to earth." The public obviously agreed, as the tune reached platinum status just weeks after its release.
To capture just the right vibe for his new CD, TAKE A BACK ROAD, Rodney teamed up once again with producer Ted Hewitt, who co-produced both the platinum IF YOU'RE GOING THROUGH HELL (which featured the title track hit and 2006's most-played song of the year) and IT'S AMERICA. The two spent hours in Rodney's home studio painstakingly crafting each vocal and track, with Rodney paying attention to every minute detail on song after song. It's a process he cherishes almost as much as being onstage and one he takes extremely seriously.
"The biggest challenge is finding the kind of songs that really set you apart. Ted and I have talked about the accountability for the music - what works and what doesn't. You have to figure out what it is you came here to say and stick to that. I think you live and learn. I want to record songs that won't just be around for a little while. I look for stories people relate to - you don't want to be thinking about listening to a song, you want to be inside of it. It's like watching a movie."
The songs on TAKE A BACK ROAD are undeniably relatable --- from the sweetly honest battling couple who've drawn the lines down the middle of the bed in "Feet," to the fiercely parental pride-even-through-the-tough-times in "He's Mine." the tunes are chock full of emotions that any couple or family in modern-day America can identify with and find themselves experiencing and for Rodney, that real emotion is what he strives for in each and every note.
"With any successful song, you've got to sit back and ask yourself, why did this song connect? With a lot of songs, the approach is about how perfect things are or how messed up things are - it's one or the other. For me, real life is the ups and downs, and if I can, I like to get both sides of that in a song." Rodney also covers some new ground musically on the project with several tender love songs. Reluctant in the past to record them because many tend to express the same sentiments in the same predictable way, he found several songs for this record that capture the romance between a woman and a man in a unique, genuine way, without the sugar-coating. Tunes like "She's A Girl," about the mystery and power a female can wield over a male, and "Cabin In The Woods," about the beauty of stealing away to a remote place, approach the age-old subject in ways he could not only relate to, but felt fans would gravitate towards as well.
"I've never recorded love songs before. My love songs have been 'These Are My People' and 'Watching You' and 'Cleaning This Gun.' I've never gone down that road, because I wanted to find or write the type of song that was about something I can really relate to. Love is not all blue skies and no bills, it's gutters leaking and the cat messed in the fireplace. It's not convenient at all and you've got to make time for it - that's the toughest part of it."
Rodney also takes on subject of parenting in the tune "He's Mine." "While talking to my boy Elijah, who's nine, I started thinking about my teenage years and what all I put my parents through and what Elijah's gonna be like. I started thinking, 'Well it doesn't matter...I'm gonna be there for him and I'm gonna try my best.' "He's Mine is about unconditional love and it's one of the most diverse songs - it's kind of a "Watching You" for the teenage years, but completely different."
Although he can be soft-spoken and serious, Rodney demonstrates his appreciation for the funnier side of life through tunes like the warm and witty, "Family," about a quirky clan of characters gathered at a family reunion, and the laugh-out-loud, "She'd Rather Fight." The CD definitely features glimpses into Rodney's wild side, a side most often seen onstage during his energetic live shows where he jokes he "lets his shadow come out to play." Rodney took pains to ensure he captured that raw, live energy this time around. "This album is different in that it's got more edge on it; it's got a lot more dive-bombs. We recorded with a smaller band, so songs like 'Back Road' feel like they're right up in your face. Overall, it's a more soulful album."
Though his new crop of songs has some edge and the vocal energy may be amped up a notch, Rodney is still the same, hard-working, patriotic, rock-solid country boy that fans have grown to know and love since his debut with 2003's HONESTY. Rodney always makes time for volunteer opportunities amidst his touring schedule, as well as for visits to the Holston Methodist Home for Children in Greeneville, TN, where he was adopted as a small child. After all, the road back to the tiny hometown where he got his start may be a long one, but for Rodney, nothing could ever beat the power returning hometo your roots.
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.
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