Friday, September 8, 2017

Nikki Briar – Shining Brighter Than Ever


In her hit single, After the New Wears Off, Nikki Briar asks her partner: “After the new wears off, do you still care?”

I have been listening to this song for three months now, several times a day, and there is nothing about the song that is wearing on me. I don’t think Nikki has any concerns about her shine fading anytime soon. In fact, I think she is a rising country star to be reckoned with for years to come – somewhat of a rarity for a Jersey girl.

Once I heard After the New Wears Off, I had to dig a little deeper into her song history, and I found Country Thang. A track that more deeply explores Nikki’s combined rock and country roots.  Both songs are flawlessly produced in traditional Nashville style, and both songs are permanently installed in my iTunes favorites library.

It is not a coincidence that Briar is extremely talented. Both of her parents were extremely gifted musicians in their own right. Her father, Joseph, was a touring drummer in the Motown band, The Victorians. Her mother, Oksana, was a classically trained pianist and artist. Nikki is a great example of an apple that didn’t fall far from the tree. However, instead of decaying in the shadows of that tree, she planted new seeds and grew taller and brighter than the original.

Nikki epitomizes the spirit of rising musicians. She doesn’t stop touring in support of her music – 220 shows per year! She has performed openers for the likes of Tim McGraw, Granger Smith, Chase Bryant, Parmalee, LoCash, Cassadee Pope, and more. In addition, she has headlined at the legendary Stone Poney in Asbury Park, NJ, and the Stanhope House in Stanhope, NJ.

Finally, Nikki is a proud Army wife, and performs the national anthem whenever possible at numerous military events. Her patriotism is evident in the recordings on her first EP, A Soldier’s Princess.

Get a little taste of country and a lick of rock. Find Nikki on social media:

Twitter and Facebook: @NikkiBriar


Or, visit all things Nikki Briar on her website:  http://www.nikkibriar.com

Monday, August 28, 2017

Sophie Smith - Underwater?


She’s not underwater from what I hear!  I was introduced to this new lyricist / vocalist from England a couple of days ago online, and I am so glad I took the time to check out her new single “Underwater” on YouTube (which by the way, was just uploaded last month and already has over 2,800 views).

Of course, the first thing that struck me was the power and clarity in Sophie’s voice.  As I’ve said in previous reviews, the music can be beautifully composed, performed, and arranged, but if it’s layered with a not-so-adequate voice, it’s all for naught.  That is certainly not the case in “Underwater.”

The second characteristic of the song that I noticed was its simplicity of instruments chosen. I’ve long been a fan of the “less is more” concept in this regard. Many songs over the last couple of decades are layered with so many guitars, vocal tracks, and even keyboards that they almost can’t help but sound “good.” By “good,” I mean far better than the song is going to sound when it is performed live, unless there are twenty-five musicians on stage.  Sophie’s “Underwater” track avoids that, consisting primarily of an electric guitar, vocals and harmony, some non-intrusive keyboard pads, and a beat – certainly not overwhelming.

My favorite component of the song is the lyrics - powerful and thought provoking. Take this part of the verse for example:

“And I can feel your heart beating through my chest, pushing its way through. And I can feel your touch with my memories, keeping you alive.”

These types of lyrics can mean many things to different people, yet at the same time, they create a desire to know what Sophie was thinking about when she wrote them.

“Underwater” by Sophie Smith is available on iTunes at http://apple.co/2vyke8t

Finder her on Twitter at @Sophiielouuiise

Friday, August 19, 2016

Kat Oxley - Jacksonville's Rising Country Star

Originally hailing from California, Kat Oxley transplanted to the beautiful North Florida region in 1992, and now considers herself a native.

Kat has been singing since she was four, and started writing her own music at the age of thirteen. Artists such as Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Dixie Chicks, and Nickel Creek inspire her. She brings years of life experience to her music and hopes to motivate and captivate her audience by writing songs that stir emotions across the spectrum. Happy, angry, melancholy, and inspiring topics can be found throughout her works.

When not in the studio, Kat can be found fishing the vast waterways of Florida, honing her skills at the local firing range, practicing archery, or simply kicked back by the pool or at the beach.

Kat is married to Jeff Oxley, an MMA trainer who supports her musical aspirations with the passion of a fighter.

Kat has recently signed a recording contract, and she is excited to bring the rest of her music to the world!

You can visit her website at Kat Oxley Music, or find her on Kat Oxley's Facebook, or on Kat Oxley on Twitter.


Like and follow, and look for much more great music from Kat Oxley very soon!


Monday, January 11, 2016

Choosing Your Passion as Your Career

A few people are blessed to realize early on in life what their true passion is and are capable of making a career out of it. A second group of people knows what their life’s calling is but are too afraid, for any number of reasons, to pursue it as a career. Then there are the majority of us that spend most of our lifetimes trading hours for dollars in a career that can be tolerated but is personally unfulfilling – never giving a thought to what it is that we would ultimately like to accomplish in our very finite lifetimes.

I consider myself one of the few blessed. I work virtually every day, because I love what I do. I have known what I wanted to be since the age of ten. Yet, even I was sidetracked for a short time by the enticements of corporate titles, steady paychecks, and pats on the back from executives who, truth be told, would have thrown me under a bus at a moment’s notice to save their own careers.

Then life happened. The shit hit the fan in triplicate, and I was left contemplating whether to continue down my current path or skip both forks in the road and blaze right through the woods to the destiny that called me. Some people never have that head-in-the-hands, heart-wrenching moment, and so they just carry on as pretenders – doers of all things other than what they were put on Earth to do.

I was compelled to write this post based on a conversation that I had last week with a senior executive who is struggling to come to terms with his life and his career. He knows what he is doing is not his passion, and has at least three things he would rather be doing for a living. Struggling to prioritize those things and decide which to do, he asked “How do I know which is my life’s calling? How do I know if I can be happy doing it for the rest of my life?”

My answer started with three questions back to him:

1.    Are you willing and capable of taking a temporary pay cut?
2.    Are you willing to work more hours and perform more administrative tasks than you have ever had to perform before?
3.    How many vacation days do you have saved for this year?

He answered yes, yes, and 13 days. My recommendation made sense to him:

“Sell your Mercedes and stop eating out. Take the thirteen days off (that’s seventeen total days, now that you work weekends), and spend at least ten hours a day on your first passion choice. Get a business license, create a marketing plan, hire an attorney, set up your accounting records, purchase your capital equipment, build your website, create your first product and begin to sell it. If you do that, you will have worked five weeks as compared to your current forty hour a week job.

On day eighteen, if you find yourself running back to the serenity of your corporate position, you have not found your life’s calling. You have found a hobby. You will need to repeat this process next year with your second passion choice.

On the other hand, if you find yourself compelled to work another seventeen days without a break, you’ve probably found your life’s passion, and there is nothing that can stop you now.”

Sunday, September 13, 2015

"Whiskey and Wine"


When I first hear a song, the producer part of me goes first to musicality and production quality. If I like it enough, I will go back and listen to the lyrics and the vocal quality.

The first time I heard "Whiskey and Wine" by Rugged Grace on Chasing Your Dream Radio, I thought, “This is worth another listen.” The production quality is very evident, and it sounds like true red-dirt country music. So much so that I thought I must be listening to (at least) a regionally known duo. Little did I know that they had less than a hundred followers on their Twitter account.

Therefore, I went and found their music on SoundCloud.com, and found another song I was hooked on called "Kiss You All Damn Night." Now I am hooked on this song was well.  In fact, now I am hooked on the entire Rugged Grace EP, which I just bought on iTunes, and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.

By the way, the couple is getting married next Saturday, September 20th, and I’m sure they would appreciate a music download purchase as much, if not more, than a dollar on their wedding tree.

On their iTunes debut, the lyrics are real, funny, and as down-to-earth as country lyrics come.

“Let’s go rob a bank.” “I love you baby.”  - Rugged Grace



Monday, September 7, 2015

Chasing Your Dream Requires More Labor Than You Think



In honor of this Labor Day, I wanted to pay homage to six people.

The first two are my father and father-in-law, both of whom are veterans, came from very meager beginnings, and labored for fifty-plus years to support families, provide college educations, beat cancer and heart disease, and provide consistent unconditional love to their “not-so-always-perfect” children.

The second two (and not necessarily in that order), are my mother and mother-in-law who stood by their man, in a time when marriage vows actually meant something, and who supported the efforts of their “not-so-perfect-husbands,” and also labored away themselves to make sure that the entire family’s American Dream came true.

The fifth is my wife, a retired Navy Commander (yes, I’m a Jarhead that married a Squid – get over it), who, while battling chronic Lyme disease, labors every day along side me to make sure our family’s dream also comes true.

Finally, there is Tom Kelly, owner of Chasing Your Dream Radio. I love the name of his radio station because it reminds me that we all have the right to life, liberty, and the PURSUIT of happiness.  We all have the God-Given right to chase our dreams, but we are not “entitled” to them – success falls squarely on our own shoulders.  In the entertainment business, the odds are stacked against us – that simply means we have to labor harder than the average person to achieve our goals. If that is not attractive to you as an artist, now would be the time to exit the business.

Because of Chasing Your Dream Radio, my pursuit is becoming a reality. However, like most of you, there is still a long way to go.

Most important, however, Tom Kelly has introduced me to some of the finest rising stars in country music, including:



Tune in, crank it up, and support these rising stars who are mixed in with all of your favorite national country artists at ChasingYourDreamRadio.com.