We always knew this area had talent; who knew we had so much twang. The last several years have seen an explosion in the popularity of Country music and that has been mirrored in the number and quality of entertainers who are involved in the genre in this area. More and more, in fact, it looks like some of our local acts are ready to spill over onto the national scene.
The Review approached the big winners in the Country Music Categories from this year's Awards program and asked them “What can we expect from you over the next year?” Here are their responses.
Steve Armstrong and the 25 Cent Beer Band: The 25 Cent Beer boys have become a fixture at the Review Awards over the last few years and have branched out of the local area since their near sweep of the Country categories a year ago. The band has continued to play in support of their self-titled CD release. The band's first single “Redneck Slide” has received broad release to FM radio last month.
“First I want to say how honored we are to have been nominated again this year and with such great local talent around, we were humbled to win. We want to thank all the great folks that took the time to vote! What to expect next?? I wish I knew! There are so many things going on right now it's hard to imagine what we might be doing next year at this time. We are just gonna keep on pushing and see where it takes us. If it's Nashville TN....great. If it's Bay City MI .... great. As long as we get to keep making music and entertaining people and as long as people keep showing up to our gigs we'll be good!!”
Mandi Layne and the Lost Highway: Mandi and her band have come a long way since their introduction to the Review Awards several years ago. The band has been hard at work on a second studio release and has continued to gig hard, entertaining fans in an ever expanding radius.
“2013 got off to a rough start for us....(the band) had been going through some changes and getting things back on track when we lost our drummer and good friend Chad Kelsey in an automobile accident. It has been difficult to say the least but the truth is that Chad lives on through his music and in our hearts.
The real highlight of this year so far was taking home the awards for Best Country Band and Best Country Songwriters at The Review Awards! Absolutely unexpected and greatly appreciated! The rest of the year has us playing a packed schedule of shows...we have recently signed with a booking agency to help us spread out a little more, so you'll see us in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee and even Mississippi! We have been lucky enough to take part in the CMA Festival in Nashville for the last two years and we are doing it again this June, but this year we were asked if we'd like to have our own booth in the "Emerging Artist" section of Fan Fair! So if you're in Nashville on June 6 through the 9th, stop by the Mandi Layne & The Lost Highway booth and say "Hi"!
We are just about finished recording a new album of original material that we CANNOT wait for you to hear! We are also currently working on scripts for two music videos we plan to release in early in summer with the new album! Most of all we really look forward to seeing some old friends and making some new ones along way this year!”
Dani Vitany and Ten Hands Tall: In a night full of highlights, Ten Hands Tall grabbed as many ears as anyone at this year's Awards Ceremony. The band, fronted by pint-sized dynamo Vitany, puts on a high energy performance, bringing all the elements of modern country into play. It would definitely be worth the effort to go see what all the buzz is about while you can still see them in this area.
“When we originally formed Ten Hands Tall five months ago, we felt an instant chemistry within the band. Our initial goal was that within the first year we would try to get out and play as much as possible with the hopes of building a fan base and getting our name out there. We are getting noticed and things are progressing faster than we anticipated.
Our focus now is geared to writing our own music and even collaborating with songwriters from Michigan and Nashville. It's all very exciting! We are looking forward to recording soon. Of course we are still playing an extensive road schedule. We are expanding our territory throughout Michigan, playing a few festivals and then heading south. We'll be in Detroit soon playing WYCD's Hoedown in Motown. We know we have to be heard and seen if we want to take it to the next level and tour.”
Last Choice Country Radio: Some of the most entertaining people in the area are not musicians. Locally based internet “radio” station Last Choice Country was first choice in their category, besting the more established corporately owned stations. The station has also branched out into event sponsorship over the last year and you can find their on-air talent hosting music and variety events around the area.
“We are so thankful to have won this award! We started Last Choice Country out of Shawn Doyle's spare bedroom, and today we have over 50,000 listeners monthly and a devoted group of advertisers who believe in a LOCAL Radio station, who supports the Great Lakes Bay Region! Thank You!”