Think “New Hampshire” and let the images flow. Cozy inns. Fireplaces. Vivid colors offall. Crisp, clean air. Deep blue lakes. Searingly honest songs, laced now and then byirony or heartache or weighted by weary wisdom. Vocals that jolt these lyrics to life witha unique immediacy and intensityWait a minute. You won’t find that last part in any travel brochure. But on his upcomingdebut album for Average Joes, Gods and Ghosts, Adam Wakefield proves it’s not whereyou come from that counts. It’s where you’re going and how you get there — which, inhis case, is on the wings of undeniable talent.What makes Wakefield different? First, it’s his varied roots: Memphis soul, rock ’n’ roll,New Orleans funk, even jazz and classical, pre-bro country — pretty much all music thatspeaks from the heart. In terms of genre, he follows no rules, though one resolutiondoes govern what Wakefield wants to achieve: If it doesn’t have a conscience, if it’safraid of risk or candor, then he’s not interested.You can feel this throughout Gods and Ghosts, scheduled to release in late summer2018. On the down-home, blues-steeped “Breaking Strings,” he writes and sings withwry, hangdog humor: “I found the meaning of life but I got no one to tell ... I’m down onmy luck, or luck’s down on me. I’m looking over my shoulder but there’s nothing to see.”A similar rumination unfolds over a classic country waltz time in “Cheap Whiskey & BadCocaine,” sung from the bottom of a glass or the end of a line: “I ain’t ever been onradio, barely got a dime to my name. Never walked down no red carpet, never had my15 minutes of fame. But I know in my heart I could be a star. ’Til everyone else feels thesame, I’ll be riding high as a Georgia pine on cheap whiskey and bad cocaine.” “DryDays” continues the story, this time over a bubbling acoustic guitar hook. “Back to thepowder when the milk runs out,” Wakefield begins as he faces another one of his “tootired to try days.”But there’s light ahead, as Wakefield awakens with a strangely clear head on “GoodMorning Sunday.” To a woozy slow beat, steadied by a little accordion and steel, henotices with a touch of wonder the unfamiliar warmth of sunshine on his face and thecheery chirp of birds. He wishes he could claim credit for the experience but admits thatthe night before “I just tripped over the dog and the bottle fell from my hand. Now it’s inpieces on the floor .. here I am!”The title track speaks to his loved one over an intimate acoustic guitar. This is a songabout secrets too painful for even this most candid of songwriters to reveal — althoughin admitting to this, he reveals more than most of his peers dare to do. And on “PrairieLullaby,” he sings for anyone whose mistakes have left them far from the ones whomost matter: “I drive all night just to bring her home. We’d pick up where we left off longago,” he imagines. But then, “I wake up ... and put myself to sleep.”
Wakefield is that rare singer and songwriter who can bridge the personal and theuniversal, who can sadly laugh and softly ache through an uncommonly poetic lyric andperformance. What accounts for his achievement? Maybe we should start at the placewhere he grew up, a small college town in the care of parents whose exampleencouraged him to imagine and explore.“Even though they were poor, they were very educated and liberal. My mom worked forlabor unions, helping coal miners and stuff like that. And she was a strong feminist,which is one reason I don’t write bro-country songs — she would disown me,” Wakefieldsays, with a laugh.Instead, he absorbed deeper lessons, through frequent travels with his family as well asthe lure of expressing himself through music. “Pretty much all we had were records anda piano and a crappy Chevy van,” he says. “I started playing the piano because Ithought I could do it better than the girls who did it in show-and-tell.”Turns out he could, to the extent that after high school he earned admission to the Jazzand Contemporary Arts program at New School in New York City. But as he sharpenedhis technique and deepened his understanding of music theory, Wakefield began to feelrestless. As he recalls, “All I wanted to do was to be in a band, play piano and get high.”So he dropped out and moved with his brother John to Baltimore. They started theirown band, Old Man Brown, and over the next several years toured up and down theEast Coast as well as twice in United Kingdom. They released two albums, the firstsettling into a Southern rock vibe with Johnny Neel of the Allman Brothers producing.The second veered more toward soul and even a bro-soul focus, complete with hornsection and backup singers.As their popularity grew, Wakefield stepped up his output of original songs, not so muchto pursue excellence as a writer, more to simply have something the band could playother than covers.“But I got better at it, the writing as well as the singing,” he says. “Iattribute that to this routine we had in our band house. Everybody had to put five hoursa week into individual practicing. We’d keep track of what we did with this schedule onthe fridge. Band rehearsals were every night, Monday through Friday, with Mondaynight reserved for showing everybody what we had been working on. For young kids,we were strangely responsible.”Wakefield’s approach to bettering himself as a singer involved addressing specificissues each night. “If I wanted to get better at singing runs and complicated stuff, I’dlearn some Stevie Wonder stuff. To work on tone, I might learn some Gregg Allman. Forrange, it might be Donny Hathaway or Marvin Gaye.”After his run with Old Man Brown, though, Wakefield decided to try his luck in Nashville.He and his girlfriend, an aspiring country singer, drove into town in their van. He formeda bluegrass group, started writing more seriously and made ends meet by painting
houses. Opportunity struck when a scout for The Voice heard him play at SoulshinePizza and invited him to audition. By the time he made it to the finals of Season 10,America had gotten the word about who Adam Wakefield is and what he has to offer.Working independently, he hit the top of the iTunes chart with “Lonesome, Broken andBlue,” the original song he performed during the season finale for The Voice. He alsoaced one of Nashville’s most challenging gigs when the SteelDrivers asked him to sit infor their lead singer Gary Nichols, who was taking some time off. “Honestly, it made mea better singer,” he insists. “And it helped me write better too. A few of songs on Godsand Ghosts come from that period. One of their songs, ‘Peacemaker,’ specificallyinspired the droning lick I put at the beginning of ‘Shoot Me Where I Stand.’”All of these experiences — on the road, in the studio, in writing rooms and on nationalTV — play into Wakefield’s artistry. “I’m not saying I’ve had a hard life,” he says. “Butwhen I write songs about somebody dying or trying to get sober, these are experiencesI’ve had. The more you wear your heart on your sleeve as a writer, the better the tunesseem to turn out. That’s what John Prine, Jamey Johnson and people in that vein do.That’s where I want to go with what I do.”For updates on touring, new music and all things Wakefield,

Baylee Littrell

The road is no stranger to this young man — Baylee Littrell at 16 years old, has literally grown up around the world. A Georgia native and the son of Brian Littrell from the Backstreet Boys and model/actress, Leighanne Littrell — Baylee was born to be an Artist. Singer, Actor and Songwriter are words that best describe the person he has become. Baylee has starred on Broadway in the hit musical, “Disaster” – earning his first Drama Desk Award nomination and is now embarking on an exciting country music career. Why country you ask? Being from the deep south, Baylee’s grandparents constantly played artists like Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Patsy Cline and Tammy Wynette to name a few. These artists have had a huge impact on Baylee as well as the greats Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Baylee’s voice has a smooth addictive soulful sound that far exceeds his age.
Baylee’s debut single, “Don’t Knock It” is currently available everywhere with a full-length album forthcoming this Spring.

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