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The Listening Room - Port Clinton: Artist Bios

Chris Cavanaugh - Thursday, August 24th

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Chris Cavanaugh grew up listening to Garth Brooks, George Strait, and Brooks & Dunn. This influence of 90’s country songs and his love for music had Cavanaugh making the trip from his hometown of Springfield, Missouri to Tennessee just months after graduating high school. After spending a few years hanging out with writers and publishers he had no doubt that he wanted to make Tennessee his home. Shortly after graduating from Middle Tennessee State University, Chris signed his first songwriting deal. Over the next few years Chris spent his time on music row honing his craft as a writer. During this time however, he says, "I always knew that deep down my ultimate passion was playing and performing, so I eventually had to get out and do something about it...I had to get on the road." And so he did.

Any given weekend you can find Cavanaugh playing with his band throughout Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio and growing his fan base even beyond that at an increasingly impressive rate. The road map is widening every day as far as touring. Cavanaugh has shared the stage with every country artist in the game including Jake Owen, Lee Brice, Frankie Ballard, Justin Moore, Eric Church, Kip Moore; the list is endless.

When asked about his career so far, and the path he has taken to get to where he is, Cavanaugh says, "I think everything happens for a reason and I believe the time I spent in Nashville digging in and learning how to write songs has built a platform for me and a body of work that I've been able to draw from when I go out on the road to play. I think if it'd happened any other way I wouldn't have these songs..."

You can expect a party at a Cavanaugh show. His style is extremely up-beat showcased by him playing lead electric guitar. A mix of old-school Kenny Chesney and guitar-slaying Keith Urban is the best way to describe his sound.

Cavanaugh recently signed a new publishing deal with Notting Hill Music Publishing, he has just finished his new EP “Footprints on My Windshield” to be released this fall, and he just announced he’s on Kip Moore’s Wild Ones Tour this fall. Needless to say, the future looks bright….

  

 

Jesse Terry - Saturday, September 9th

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On the eponymous title track of Stargazer, the lushly orchestrated and existentially optimistic fourth LP from singer/songwriter Jesse Terry, the notion of personal unhappiness is framed in terms of a cosmic choice: “Go on stargazer, I know how much it hurts / But you are free now to pick your universe.”  In a period of American life considered the most divisive and tribalistic in modern memory, the notion of hopefulness may feel misplaced to some. For Terry, though, it’s a byproduct of his own life experience. “I think I will always be innately hopeful, because I’ve seen how much life can change,” he says.  “And the road I’ve traveled on my journey has shown me how much people can change, if they open up and allow themselves to do so.” 

Stargazer is very much an album representing the arc of that journey and is precisely the kind of record we need in these seemingly hopeless times.  Forged in the crucible of the artist’s earnest engagement with a chaotic, confusing world, the record is wonderfully difficult to classify. Drawing inspiration from a diverse pool of influences — from vintage Jeff Lynne-produced pop to the Roy Orbison of “In Dreams” to The Man Who-era Travis — Stargazer is an album commensurate with its moment, imbued with an unconquerably sunny perspective. “I will always go back to hope and lean on that, because that’s what has gotten me here in the first place,” Terry says. 

Produced with multi-instrumentalist collaborator Josh Kaler in Nashville’s sumptuous EastSide Manor Studios, every aspect of the album went through an intentionally rigorous evaluative process. “Josh and I worked in the studio for months, making sure that we were bringing something fresh to every track, some kind of new sound or new harmony line or new string line,” Terry says. “I wanted Stargazer to be arranged and produced like the records I first fell in love with.” A significant part of that production process involved strings and renowned arranger Danny Mitchell. “I’ve worked with great string players in the past, but this is the first album where I’ve had the strings professionally arranged for a quartet,” Terry says. The inherent magic, power, and emotion in Mitchell’s arrangements are palpable throughout the record. “I wrote many of these songs with the strings in mind, knowing that they’d be taking my songs to new places.”

One need only listen to the soaring chorus of track “Woken the Wildflowers” to understand what Terry means. Begun while on holiday in New Zealand with his kiwi wife in the wake of the 2017 Women’s March, the song is a tribute to the renewal of American ideals made manifest that day. “Those are the American values that we read about in grade school – equality, justice, decency, freedom, truth – and I loved seeing millions of people across the world standing up for those beliefs,” Terry says. “I wanted to honor that in song.” Undergirding the chorus’ gentle call to “Wake up, wake up, wake up,” the strings swell with the possibility of regeneration felt across the world that day.

Stargazer is notable, too, for the diversity of its sonic palette. Terry is as adept at cross-pollinating spacey rockabilly with power pop (“Dance in Our Old Shoes”) as he is at writing dreamy, Beatles-esque ballads about a loved one’s toxic personality (“Kaleidoscope”); as comfortable at the helm of a charging, Springsteen-down-South ode to the new Nashville (“Runaway Town”) as he is singing a heartbreakingly tender lullaby to a European capital (“Dear Amsterdam”). “People, myself included, are always trying to categorize music into specific genres and I really wanted to avoid thinking that way while making this record,” he says. “In fact, the term ‘genre-less’ became a bit of a mantra for me as I was writing and recording Stargazer.”

The result is a record representing a clarity of vision and a creative pinnacle that, for Terry, has been a career in the making. The countless hours logged on the road and in the studio, he says, have primed him for this moment. “I’ve loved the slow and steady arc my career has taken, the places around the world it’s taken me and the people it’s put in my path,” he says. “Two years ago, even a year ago, I wasn’t ready to make this album.” 

He remains anchored to the raw wonder he felt when first picked up his mother’s guitar all those years ago, to the period in his life when an optimist emerged from the black fog of early tribulations. 

“Everything feels like it’s happening at the right time.”


Joe Robinson - Saturday, October 21st

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Australian guitar virtuoso Joe Robinson has spent the last few years touring North America playing festivals and headlining clubs. Having also played China, Japan, Europe and Australia, Robinson has been able to define himself as a budding world visionary. 

He walks a tightrope between the instrumental music that’s put him in the spotlight and a unique fusion of rock, blues, jazz, and R&B that’s entirely his own.

Keith Anderson - Saturday, November 4th

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“I’ve been a songwriting junkie my whole life. The first thing I’ve always done when I’ve gotten a new CD was take out the insert and find out who wrote what. I’ve dreamed my whole life of writing with my heroes and have been blessed to be able to write with many of them.”

Keith Anderson could be the poster child for the notion that good things happen to good people. He’s quickly earned the reputation of being an adept writer of award nominated hits, not just for his own projects but for other artists as well and his good guy persona is as widely known as his high energy, let’s-get-this-party-started live shows.

The release of his sophomore album C’MON! finds Anderson, the Grammy-nominated songwriter, in fine form. He co-wrote 10 of the disc’s 11 tracks, pairing with some of Nashville’s top tunesmiths including Rivers Rutherford, Tim Nichols, Chuck Cannon, Vicky McGehee, Jeffrey Steele (also the disc’s producer) and Bob DiPiero. “I wrote by myself for so long that it’s fun to co-write,” the Oklahoma native says. “I’m just such a social person that I love people and working together with them. Different co-writers have different strengths and I think you tend to tuck away certain ideas for certain co-writers.”

The album’s current single, “I Still Miss You,” was written by Anderson, Tim Nichols and Jason Sellers and is one of his fastest rising to date. “More than just writing a breakup song, we made it more a universal song of missing someone no longer in your life,” Anderson says. “You always hope to write a song that touches people.”

While it’s said that you’ve got a lifetime to write your first album and less than a year to write your second, Anderson was prepared for the challenge. “I moved to Nashville to get a record deal and while it didn’t happen as quickly as I’d have liked, it was a blessing because I got to spend those years writing and developing a song catalog,” he says. “And not just writing, but writing with people like Jeffrey Steele, Bob DiPiero, Craig Wiseman…guys like that. So while I wrote a lot of things for this record that reflect where I currently am in my life, it was also nice to be able to reach into that catalog.”

Anderson admits that he keeps his touring schedule and his writing schedule separate. “There’s not much down time or quiet time on the bus and there are so many things going on every day,” he explains. But that doesn’t mean that he can time those moments of inspiration. “I’m constantly grabbing my phone and leaving messages for myself or using my laptop to make note of something while on the road.”

Although he’s co-written hits for other artists, most notably “Lost In This Moment,” -the No. 1 smash for Big & Rich which also garnered him a CMA and ACM Song of the Year nomination – Anderson does not write with other artists in mind. “I think I’ll always write about what I know and feel and typically with myself in mind. But if it ends up as something I’m not going to cut, it does get pitched to other artists,” says the artist who co-wrote the Grammy-nominated “Beer Run (B Double E Double Are You In?)” for Garth Brooks and George Jones and “The Bed” for Gretchen Wilson. Hot newcomer Jason Michael Carroll has just cut “Barn Burner,” a tune Anderson co-wrote and also cut. “We cut it full steam but in the end, it didn’t make this new record,” he says. “Jason Michael had been begging me to cut it since his first record so the minute I knew we would not be putting it on this record, I gave him a call.”

Is it hard for Anderson to part with some of the things he’s written so that another artist can record it? “At times it’s really hard because there are some songs you let go and in the back of your mind you’re still thinking, ‘Man, if that becomes a big hit, it could’ve been for me!’” he admits. “You always worry that you’re going to let one get away but at the same time you want to make a career as a singer/songwriter which means letting others cut your songs.”

Anderson grew up in Miami, OK, near the Arkansas border, surrounded by a loving family that includes his mechanic father LeRoy, his mother Janice, his older brother Brian and his younger brother Jason. Always athletic, he didn’t pick up a guitar until well into his teens after realizing that girls dug musicians. He dabbled at songwriting while studying up on the hits of the Eagles, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson and the like and actually played drums on early gigs at his church.

Athletics continued to be an important part of his life and Anderson played baseball while pursuing a degree in engineering from Oklahoma State. He excelled in sports and academics: graduating top in his class with a 3.9 GPA and playing baseball well enough to catch the attention of scouts from the Kansas City Royals. A shoulder injury quickly put an end to a possible career with MLB, but Anderson stayed focused on his commitment to fitness, even coming in second in the Mr. Oklahoma bodybuilding competition. “There are so many reasons to stay fit,” says Anderson who later earned certification as a personal trainer from the famed Cooper Institute in Dallas. “Just for the brutal schedule…you’re working hard throughout the day and then getting on stage for an hour or more of rocking around and sweating.”

Upon graduation, Anderson accepted a job with a top construction engineering firm in Dallas, all the while continuing to work on his songwriting. In the end, songwriting and live performance won out. Anderson quit his lucrative day job and began performing as a regular at the Grapevine Opry and Six Flags Over Texas. Other quick money fixes included modeling and even singing telegrams for the Romeo Cowboys, a company he started.

He made his first trip to Nashville to record six of his own songs for a sampler that he’d then solicit to radio stations in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. His efforts paid off in the form of new friendships and relationships with people in the industry.

Anderson moved to Nashville in the spring of 1998 and took a job waiting tables. What he lacked in food service skills, he more than made up for in people skills. An early introduction to respected songwriter George Ducas lead to some songwriting appointments which opened further doors in Nashville’s songwriting community.

Another one of those early introductions was to singer/songwriter/ producer Jeffrey Steele, the man who would go on to produce both of Anderson’s albums. “The minute I met him, I felt like I’d known him for years,” Anderson says of Steele. “It was a natural chemistry; hanging out with him is like hanging out with one of my brothers. He’s a great friend first and foremost and being that comfortable with someone makes it easier to dig deep in the soul and write the happy stuff and also the deep, dark stuff.”

His debut – Three Chord Country and American Rock & Roll – garnered two Top 10 hits (accompanied by two No. 1 music videos), “Pickin’ Wildflowers,” and “Every Time I Hear Your Name,” along with singles “XXL” and “Podunk,” success that prompted music trades Billboard and Radio & Records to name him country music’s No. 1 new male artist of 2005. It wasn’t just his music that was getting attention. Anderson was named one of People Magazine’s “50 Hottest Bachelors,” Men’s Fitness magazine’s “Ultimate Country Star,” and continues to show up in Country Weekly’s fan-voted “Hottest Bachelor” feature.

And it’s not just the ladies who fill the house at his concerts, he’s fortunate to also be the kind of guy’s guy that men appreciate. “Watching my heroes – Garth, Tim, Kenny, George – those guys have a ton of female fans and a ton of male fans at their shows and I think that’s something that you develop over time,” he says. “Let’s face it, in order to have a real party, you’re going to need both!”

Anderson seems to have it figured out, building a successful career out of sheer talent, hard work and a clear vision of what he’s bringing to his own party. “What I love about him is that he is very centered about what he wants and how he wants to do it,” says C’MON! producer Jeffrey Steele. “Keith really brings that to the table and makes it very hard to deny.”
 

 

Suzy Bogguss - Saturday, November 11th

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During the creative explosion that was country music in the 1990s Suzy Bogguss sold 4 millions records with sparkling radio hits like Outbound Plane, Someday Soon, Letting Go and Drive South. But you can’t peg Suzy that easily. In the midst of her country popularity she took time off to make a duets album with the legendary Chet Atkins. In 2003 she made an album of modern swing music with Ray Benson of Asleep At The Wheel. An album of original music in 2007 landed her at number 4 on the jazz charts. Her folk music roots show through in her frequent appearances on public radio’s A Prairie Home Companion, in the Grammy she earned for her work on "Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster", and in her critically acclaimed album and book project from 2011, "American Folk Songbook". Her latest effort is "Lucky” a collection songs written by Merle Haggard and interpreted through Suzy’s crystal vocals from the female point of view. So yes, you can call her a country singer if you want, but really that’s just the beginning.

Josh Krajcik - Friday, November 4th

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When he was just 16-years-old, Josh Krajcik schemed his way onto the stage of a bar near his hometown of Wooster, Ohio. Earning $100 for his four-hour debut gig, the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist decided that night to devote his life to making music. Over the next 14 years, Krajcik fronted a host of musical projects and eventually founded the Josh Krajcik Band, a three-piece blues-rock outfit that toured with the likes of Corinne Bailey Rae and The Fray and appeared on the Bonnaroo Music Festival’s 2006 lineup. But by 2011 Krajcik was fighting to sustain his music career, and ended up taking a job at a burrito joint to make ends meet. On a whim, Krajcik then auditioned for The X Factor USA—and soon found himself wowing audiences with his gravelly-rich voice and stirring delivery on the show’s premiere season. Now, Krajcik is set to release his full-length album Blindly, Lonely, Lovely that pair his powerful vocals with intensely passionate, soul-infused songwriting.

“More than anything, I wanted this music to be honest,” says Krajcik of his debut releases. Instinct has also played a key role in guiding Krajcik through the ups and downs of his early career. “Over the years I definitely had a few of those moments where you’re doubting yourself and you wonder, ‘Should I just give it all up?’” Krajcik admits. “But at the same, I really don’t know what else I could have tried to be.” So while holding to the promise he made himself at sixteen yielded its share of struggle, Krajcik asserts that those tough times have more than paid off. “The day after I finished the sessions for ‘Nothing’ and ‘Don’t Make Me Hopeful,’ I was walking around Hammersmith, just sort smiling to myself and thinking about the songs and my music in general,” he recalls. “After a while I looked up and realized I didn’t know where I was. I’d gotten so caught up in thinking about where I was now—compared to just about a year before, when I was jumping from couch to couch and making burritos to pay rent—that I’d ended up completely lost in the middle of London. It was a great moment.” Still, Krajcik asserts that his ultimate goal is to continue expanding his sound and delving more deeply into his songwriting. “The most important thing for me is to just keep on pushing myself as a singer and songwriter and musician,” says Krajcik, “since I know that this is what I’m going to be doing forever.”