The Po' Ramblin' Boys have released their latest album and their new female lead singer; Laura Orshaw tells us all about it! You can stream the new album, “Never Slow Down” here. ‘This album is titled “Never Slow Down”, and it came from our guitar player Josh. With the pandemic so much of the music industry changed and the band was at this incredible moment where we had a GRAMMY nomination and we played all of these venues we never had played before, so it was a shock to the system when everything slowed down. We were so ready to get back together and once we were able to do it, we were on the top of our game. We are not slowing down!’ In 2019, The band got a GRAMMY nomination in the Best Bluegrass Album category for their album “Toil, Tears & Trouble”. You can check that album out here. ‘Being at the GRAMMYs was wild. We of course knew about the ceremony and people in our genre who had been nominated in previous years but to actually go and experience it was something that we thought was going to happen way further down the line in our career as a band. Getting that nomination is motivation. When someone sees you and notices and loves your music, it keeps you going.’
It is important to note that while Laura has been in the band for years, this album her first as an official member and the only female in the band! Laura loved traditional bluegrass music as a kid, but she always noticed it was mostly men in the bands that she listened too. She stated that ‘the women in the bands were always a side member, not one of the main members. It was rare for women to be in touring bands due to the structure of the genre. I had an awareness of it but Bill Monroe was the father of bluegrass and he had women in his band. I never took it as a “I can’t do this” but I also had a lower expectation for myself like I won’t be a touring musician. I don’t see a lot of people like me on stage. I decided I want to play bluegrass, I do it well and hope to inspire other women. Traditional bluegrass and the intensity of the music can be seen as masculine, but I don’t see it like that. I want to be a part of it’.
One of the earlier songs released from this album is a song called “Ramblin Women” which was written in 1970s by Hazel Dickens who was one of Orshaw’s biggest inspirations. I always listened to Hazel and her music. Her singing style is a mountain ballad, and it is incredibly meaningful to hear Hazel, being a woman and singing this type of music. When bluegrass was developing, this song was performed by Dickens with the same country stars of the day. Because there wasn’t a lot of vintage bluegrass female sound when I was growing up, I learnt a lot of my voice style from the earlier country artists like Kitty Wells with her song “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honkytonk Angels’. Bluegrass is like the indie rock of country. When people love it, they love it, but they may not be aware of it as much as the mainstream music or what gets played on the radio’.
Laura Grew up in Pennsylvania where her parents and grandparents played bluegrass. Laura picked up the fiddle at just 10 years old. ‘I was always around music as a kid and did not think it would become my daily life and getting the opportunity to travel all over the place’. Orshaw met the Po' Ramblin' Boys after playing some musicians who traveled in the same circles as the band. Laura moved to Boston, Massachusetts and wasn’t sure if she would be able play Bluegrass full time and played as a hobby. Orshaw ended up linking back up with the Po' Ramblin' Boys and has never looked back. ‘I get a lot of enjoyment out of music and how I communicate and be social with people. Even when it was a hobby, all my friends were artists or music lovers. While my schedule was getting busier, but it was very fulfilling to me to play. I want all aspiring artists to know that they should put themselves out there and break down the barriers and make it known to people that you are breaking barriers.’
The Po' Ramblin' Boys have an extensive 2022 tour planned so make sure you follow them on Instagram @poramblinboys for the latest news. Check out their website here for tickets to all upcoming shows!
Seven-time GRAMMY award winner, Carrie Underwood, is back with a brand-new single! Listen HERE.
Her newest track “Ghost Story” written by David Garcia, Hillary Lindsey, and Josh Kear takes on the revenge category in a different way than before. It’s soft and subtle with a touch of sass that makes the song completely relatable. The lyrics give you a complete view of the story while the music takes you through the emotional roller-coaster of losing someone you love, but realizing they are the ones who missed out. While fans are awaiting the release of her ninth studio album, this track is sure to ramp up excitement and keep everyone wanting to hear what’s next.
The star also announced REFLECTION: The Las Vegas Residency last year that began on December 1st and will be continuing throughout the month of May. With shows continuing this weekend, fans should make sure to snag tickets where a donation of $1 from each ticket sold will be contributed to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
If you still haven’t gotten enough of Carrie Underwood, stay tuned for the CMT Awards where she is nominated for Video of the Year and Collaborative Video of the Year for her single with Jason Aldean, “If I Didn’t Love You.”
Hudson Valley has released their cover of Old Dominion’s deep cut “Shut Me Up”, and frontwomen Sarah Owens tells us all about it! You can check out the cover here. ‘This song is a cover but not many people know it because it is a deeper cut from their catalog. We actually reach out to Old Dominion and they’ve heard it and gave us their blessing which is awesome!’ Owens is a rare case in country music. Due to the lack of female fronted bands, Sarah and the rest of Hudson Valley decided to go for it and create one! ‘I thrive in chaos, so I thrive to the fact that there are no other female fronted bands currently in country music. For women to succeed, you have to be thinner than Carrie Underwood and vocals better than anyone to make it. The decision to have myself as the female frontwomen of this band has gotten us farther than we could ever imagine and we really want to break the mold that plagues this genre,’ Hudson Valley just attended their first Country Radio Seminar (CRS) due to the fact that some of their previous music was charted on the Music Row Breakout list. At the time, you could find Hudson Valley on the charts in between Carrie Underwood and George Strait! ‘CRS was an amazing experience for us. Not just networking with industry professionals, but really seeing the best new acts out here. Artists like Parker McCollum, Morgan Wade, Cody Johnson and Lilly Rose really stuck out to us.’
Sarah grew up in Hudson Valley, New York and country music has been the only thing she has ever wanted to do! ‘I did commercial jingles at 6 years old and I always wanted this. Being from Hudson Valley, we never really had country music acts except for our local county fairs.’ One act that Owens saw at a local fair was Martina McBride, one of her musical heroes. ‘The reason I do this is because of Martina (McBride), Faith (Hill), and Trisha (Yearwood). To have those women in life growing up made me the person I am.’ In 2017, Sarah was contacted to do an artist development program as a female solo artist. ‘When I got to the program it was awesome to put faces to names, but once it got going, I saw they lack of female fronted bands in country music.’ In 2018, Owens and her husband, the drummer of Hudson Valley, Richie Owens, moved to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue the band as a full-time job. Since arriving in 2018, Hudson Valley scored their ongoing residency at Blake Shelton’s Ole Red bar. ‘I will argue with anyone who doesn’t think that Ole Red is the best sounding bar on Broadway. When you look the venue up on the internet, it is one of the few venues that says it is not a bar, but a live music venue’. Sarah wants aspiring artists to know that ‘you have to be resilient. There are so many no’s or not todays. This is not for the faint of heart and this will break you’.
Owens has teased that the band has recorded 5 new songs so make sure you follow Hudson Valley on Instagram at @officialhudsonvalley for any announcements and find more information on their website here.
Canadian singer-songwriter Karli June recently released her debut EP! “Where You Come From” was released on February 18th, 2022 and you can check it out here. ‘As an artist, you really want your first record to be who you are, and this record is me. I started writing these songs around the end of 2019 and finished writing in early 2021. I am so proud of this project. My favorite song on this is “Big for a Small Town” because it is the only song that was written solo.’ The EP was produced by Karen Kosowski who produced Mickey Guyton’s 3x Grammy nominated album “Remember Her Name”. ‘It was an incredible experience working with Karen. She really pulled out of me what I wanted to say. The way she made me feel was so comfortable and she’s so good at writing anthems. When she heard “Big for a Small Town”, she heard authenticity in both my voice and in my writing. Since this was worked on during the majority of the pandemic, I felt the song “Church to Pray” come naturally. The song is about the time when everything was closed, and people needed a place to go to worship but we all learnt that you don’t need to go church to pray. It was ironic recording this song because I recorded the vocals in my home studio which was my closet.’
Karli grew up on dairy farm and while her family wasn’t musical, they were always loving and supportive. She started singing in church at 8 years old and then sang at a lot of local fairs and events that came through her church. ‘I always took voice lessons, but I always wanted a strong foundation. I went to school to study opera and once I graduated, I was in a cover band. I started to write some music on my own and kept that in my pocket. June reached out to producer Jason Berry (Terri Clark and Tenille Arts) who invited her to his studio where she recorded some of her earlier works. A career highlight for Kari is getting to play the Boots and Hearts Music Festival in 2018. June mentions that ‘Canada is so full of talent, but I enjoy going to Nashville and getting inspired by all of the incredible musicians and artists. Canada is family and Nashville is work. I have always loved all kinds of music and while I wouldn’t consider myself a genre bender, but every album is different, and I would love to experiment. June wants aspiring artists to know that you should ‘figure out who you are and why you want to write, makes it so much easier to write music that you believe. Write the music that you want to hear.’ Lastly, she mentions that ‘I have always wanted to do country music because growing up on a farm and with a long line of agriculture in my family, country songs are stories of my life.’
Make sure you keep up with Karli on Instagram at @itskarlijune and find more information on her website here.
Rebecca Porter’s music video for her song “Shadow of Doubt” is out! You can watch it above. The song comes off of Porter’s recently released EP “Prime Rainbow Conditions”. You can check out the full EP here. The music video was filmed at Purcell Park and The Golden Pony, an independent small venue in the heart of Harrisonburg, Virginia, where Porter resides. The venue is also one of Porter’s favorites to play. ‘I love this venue. It has an amazing atmosphere, and the owner is a great support to me and my music career’.
“Shadow of Doubt” is the account of someone living through and surviving a domestically violent relationship, while simultaneously doubting their belief in a higher power and the possibility of deliverance from evil. A hauntingly powerful and personal reckoning, inspired by Porter’s own experiences and survival of domestic violence. If you need help, when you are ready you can reach confidential help at the 24/7 National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or Text "START" to 88788. More information can be found on their website here.
All of the songs from the EP were written by Porter herself in 2020. ‘I wrote all of these songs at home alone with my infant in 2020. The lyrics and sometimes the melody came naturally to me. Voice Memos was a super helpful app at the time. I never really played guitar or even considered myself a guitarist until we all were stuck at home in 2020. I took that time to really learn the instrument and add to my knowledge of a few chords that I knew beforehand. I had been told in the past that I was not a guitar player but when I went into the studio the (Jacob Briggs) sound engineer said I sounded great and we kept it’.
This EP represents more to Porter than just an EP. For a long time in her performing style, Rebecca has been told things where it may not have been meant to be rude, but they clearly were. ‘People said to me that “you don’t look country, or your look doesn’t match your voice”. I felt that I could never speak up at a show because I didn't want anyone to not come back. People would suggest that I sing “my” kind of music. The buildup of those comments led to phases where I had to step back and not perform’. While this was discouraging, Porter never backed down. She always found herself missing that spotlight. A personal touch to the EP is that her husband, Chris Porter, who is a tattoo artist at Alley Cat Tattoo and Piercing in Harrisonburg, Virginia designed the album cover art.
One tool that has helped Rebecca is Rissi Palmer’s Color Me Country Podcast. She finds Palmer and the podcast inspiring because she could see and hear from Black and Brown artists in a genre that is unfortunately not always accepting of outside standards. ‘I don’t like being told “You’re not this genre, you’re this”. This kind of thinking can lock people into genres and shuts the door for creativity. The work that Rissi Palmer is doing is crucial for people like me, who used to feel alone in the world of country music. I also have to mention Holly G and the Black Opry for giving Black artists in Americana, country, folk and blues music a platform. Her open letter to the Grand Ole Opry about their recent actions speaks volume. I used to want to play the Grand Ole Opry but as of right now, not anymore. It is supposed to be this massive career marker and a welcome in the genre. Historically, it has been a disappointment. As it stands, I would not be interested in playing there’. Another voice in the country music world that Porter admires is journalist Marcus K. Dowling. ‘I went to see Brittney Spencer play a show in D.C. Before the show, I was completely surprised and internally fangirled when I walked in and saw Marcus. I wanted to introduce myself, but wasn’t sure if words would even come out. His articles and his tweets are so insightful and I truly appreciate his work’.
Porter was born in Guam and moved to Virginia as a toddler. She was raised in church which is where she credits where she learnt to sing. ‘I went to both private and public school in my lifetime. Public school was a shock to me because of the large class sizes. Unfortunately, as I got older I did not have an opportunity to be in the school choir which required a lot of extracurricular time. In middle school and high school I found myself listening to music all the time, but I could not actively pursue it’. At home, Porter’s Mom loved Dolly Parton. Rebecca grew up listening to Parton’s “White Limozeen'' and “Eagle When She Flies” albums. ‘Dolly is a whole embodiment. She is a regular person, but also a singer, songwriter, and businesswoman. She’s not a triple threat, she’s a quadruple threat’. Towards the end of high school Porter sang a Faith Hill song at her graduation. She then went on to participate in local pageants for scholarship money to pay for her continuing education. She made it all the way to the Miss Virginia of America competition where she took the stage with Martina McBride’s “Broken Wing”. ‘The pageant system, they did not want a country ballad. But I knew that I wanted to sing country music and I stick to what I want, not what someone tells me to do or what they expect me to do or sound like.’
When reflecting on what music means to her, Porter says ‘I tend to stay guarded in personal situations and music is always and has always been there for me. I don’t hold back when I am performing and it’s my safe space. In the song, on the stage, I am safe there, I can put out whatever I want to be out there. I want all aspiring artists to know that you should take your time, really look at yourself and why you do music and why you write the music that you write. Find people who support you for being you. Don’t let someone change you. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Open your mind and ears up to those of whom you listen to’.
Porter has some shows coming up in the next few months including an EP release party! Make sure you follow Rebecca on Instagram at @rebeccaportermusic and find more information on her website here.