Tag Archives: CMT

Bidding Farewell to Nashville With Charles Esten

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native, Charles (Chip) Esten is a talented singer/songwriter, skillful musician, gifted actor, and top-notch comedian currently living in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife and three children. He has had a noteworthy career, appearing in TV series such as Married With Children, ER, and The Office. In 2013 he won $500,000 for his charity while playing Who Wants To Be A Millionaire as a celebrity contestant. Esten has performed at the prestigious Grand Ole Opry 100 times (yes, ONE HUNDRED TIMES) as well as the legendary Ryman Auditorium. We had the honor of having the very accomplished Charles Esten play at our first ever New England Country Music Festival back in 2015. He performed both originals as well as songs from his role as Deacon on the ABC/CMT’s hit show Nashville. After a lengthy six-season run, Esten’s venture on Nashville is unfortunately coming to an end on Thursday, July 26th. Though all around it’s going to be a bittersweet day, we have to tell you about a very special treat! Charles Esten will be right here in Boston, at City Winery, to sing the songs of Deacon Claybourne and watch the Nashville series finale with some of his loyal fans. As he gets ready to pack up his things and head north, we at NECM, had the opportunity to speak with Charles Esten about how important the show is to him, his fans, and his future.

Esten spent the better half of six years perfecting the character of Deacon. He reflects: “To get to explore somebody over the course of this many episodes was a unique, singular, and very special challenge and journey.” Esten describes his role on Nashville by saying: “It’s really apt and wonderful that I get to explore the earliest wound, the issue Deacon had with his father. And that Deacon is learning and growing and becoming that better man that he’s been trying to become.” The role of Deacon Claybourne was an important part of Esten’s career thus far. “Deacon ranks far above any other role that I’ve had.” When asked if he is ready to say goodbye to Deacon, Esten says: “Maybe, I don’t know. First of all, nothing lasts forever. We actually thought we were going to have to say goodbye two years ago. I felt then that it was too soon. There was something about getting these last two seasons. CMT was kind enough to let us know before the season that it was going to be our last one, which meant that we had more time to wrap our heads and our hearts around it. And it also meant that the writers had the opportunity to write us home and write us to the end instead of just keeping writing and then all of a sudden it stops.” Esten expresses that he feels a sense of closure from: “Not only the final episode, not only the very final scene, but I think even the very final line.”

When Thursday arrives, Esten hopes that the fans are moved by the ending and feel a sense of completion. He remarks: “There was magic from the very beginning of Nashville. I hope in some way the fans are able to appreciate the ending… All I can say is it’s very meaningful for me to be watching the end with the people that made it all possible in the first place and that’s our fans. If anybody is able to join us, come on out, I’d love to say hi and thank you and goodbye, at least for now. We’re gonna get to say goodbye, musically.” Boston fans that are in attendance on Thursday can expect some of the songs to be exactly the ones they’ve seen on the show and others to be changed up a bit here and there. Esten is planning on playing the piano for some pieces, which he did not do on the show. Out of the three hundred songs on Nashville, Esten has about thirty. “As this whole thing was wrapping up I just took a second to look at them all and it just occurred to me how much I like them and how fortunate I was with the songwriters we had and the songs they brought to my character. I’m very happy to sing them.” After reflecting on the songs, Esten laughs a bit and says: “They sort of feel like my own after all this time.”

If you don’t already know, Nashville fans, also known as ‘Nashies,’ have their own hashtag on Twitter! They’re a loyal bunch and will be sad to see the show come to an end in a few short days. When thinking about the ‘Nashies,’ Esten says: “We have a very special fanbase. We’re the kind of show that once you got on the train, it was hard to get off.” He continues with: “We’ve put our fans through some difficult things, obviously not the least of which would be losing Rayna. We were just so moved and blown away by the way they stayed with us and were along for that tough journey of what it’s like for Deacon to explore, and what it’s like to be without the one you thought you’d never be without. People go through that unfortunately every day.” Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Nashville coming to an end is that it will live on through its music. Esten says: “When you’re done watching you’re not really done because there’s music that you can download and you can take into your lives and as I like to say into your homes, your hearts, your headphones. We’re right there in the car with you, or right there in the room with you while you’re studying. In many instances, right there at the wedding party, or right there at the memorial service with the music of Nashville. It has created this really undoubtable bond.” Esten definitely holds the ‘Nashies’ close to his heart, saying: “When the story of Nashville is all said and done, you can’t tell it without talking about the fans.”

When asked about whether or not he kept any souvenirs from the set of Nashville, Esten laughs and says: “Oh boy I did! I have one of Deacon’s guitars and a couple straps. I have the leather chair in Deacon’s house, I purchased that. The piano that Deacon and Scarlett wrote ‘This Town’ on, I bought that as well. And a whole lot of clothes. Deacon’s clothes, you might not be surprised to hear, fit me very well!” Continuing with the light-hearted tone: “Danny Rowe was kind enough to get me the microphone from my last performance in the Blue Bird.” He also has the signet ring that Deacon wore all six years. And on top of that, he kept Deacon’s boots. Where some actors have to leave their character forever when their show comes to an end, Esten’s character Deacon will live on for years to come. He will be able to experience “moments where I get to sit behind his guitar with his strap around my neck, maybe his signet ring on, and play a Deacon song. Whereas some actors have to say goodbye completely, I don’t think I ever will.”

Last week, Esten played his 100th show at the Grand Ole Opry. What an amazing experience that must have been! “There’s an incredible combination of talent and kindness there. I have a lot of great, fun memories. The overall feeling I have when I go there of being not only in these hallowed halls, on this very special stage, especially on that circle that they cut out of the Ryman and brought there from the old Opry. So, it’s all very special. As far as country music, it’s pretty holy and sacred. I’m made to feel very welcome and at home. Not only do I get to play at that wonderful place, I get to be amongst friends when I’m doing it. That’s very thrilling.”

Whether it’s continuing down the path of acting or the journey of music, Esten will not be stopping either anytime soon. He talked with us about being cast in a recurring role on the new TNT thriller Tell Me Your Secrets. “This role is not a lead role, like Deacon was, but that is almost preferable to me right now.”It’s very different from Nashville in terms of the tone, it’s darker in a lot of ways. In terms of the scenes and the acting, and the dialogue, I’ve already enjoyed performing.” With a little giggle, Esten says: “Every time we get a script I read it and I’m like WHOA! WHOA, I did not expect that! This is definitely a real intense ride. So, I’m glad to be on it.” Along with his new role, Esten has no plans to stop singing and writing music. “I’ll never step away from music. When it comes to music, I don’t have to wait on anyone or anything. I can make the music that I feel and it comes through the writing that I do on my own and the cowrites that I’m so fortunate to get to do in this great town. I’ll be doing that the rest of my days.”

To conclude our interview, we asked Esten to do a word association and give us the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the exceptional people that he spent the last six years with and some of the spectacular places that he frequented. Here’s what he had to say: Connie Britton – “honest, truthful,” Hayden Panettiere – “force of nature,” Jonathan Jackson – “soulful,” Lennon and Maisy “lovely and amazing,” Clare Bowen – “magical,” Callie Khouri – “life changer,” Blue Bird “perfect,” Opry – “family,”

And of course, Nashville – “home.”

On that note of being home, we hope that you have tickets for Charles Esten’s show here in Boston at City Winery on July 26th because it is sold out! If you’re not joining us on Thursday, be sure to tune in to CMT at 9:00PM for the final episode of the series and to bid farewell to Deacon Claybourne and Nashville.

You can connect with Charles Esten by visiting his Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages.

RaeLynn And Her Royal Offering ‘Queen’s Don’t.’

Multi-talented country artist RaeLynn has been quite busy since gaining popularity from her appearance on The Voice. Whether it be writing music, performing on stage, or being the face of a popular make-up line, she does it all. We, at New England Country Music, were able to talk with RaeLynn recently as she shared some of her exciting news with us.

On March 16th, RaeLynn released her newest song, ‘Queen’s Don’t,’ a welcomed successor to her breakout hit ‘God Made Girls.’ This powerful piece was written by RaeLynn, Corey Crowder and James Abrahart. When describing her cowriters, RaeLynn said that Crowder “treats his wife like the biggest queen ever, and he’s just such a stand-up guy.” She referred to Abrahart as “J-Heart” and said that he is an “amazing guy that lives in LA has written so many great pop songs, and a few songs for Keith Urban and he’s an incredible writer.” It can sometimes be challenging to collaborate with others to write a piece of music. Going into a new write is “kinda like going into a blind date. You’re having to talk about everything to write a really emotional song and it’s hard.” Fortunately, ‘Queen’s Don’t’ came together smoothly. RaeLynn expressed: “Honestly there’s a few writes that on the first time you just write magic and we did. It was our first write together all at the same time and we just struck magic that day.”

‘Queen’s Don’t’ is written about recognizing your own worth. RaeLynn said it is “a song for right now.” She went on to explain: “I think there’s beauty in seeing your worth and when you see your worth you’ll really pick your friends differently, you’ll pick people that you love differently, the people you keep around you close differently, and that all comes with seeing the beauty in yourself. The song is about knowing that first of all it doesn’t matter where you come from, or who you are. Everybody should be treated amazing, like royalty. And that’s what I want the sentiment of the song to be. Even though it’s ‘Queen’s Don’t’ and you would think ‘Oh it’s all about women,’ it’s about anybody. Anybody can see their worth. Queen is more of an attitude. Rather than being about women.”

In addition to the new single being released, RaeLynn is active as the face of Too Faced Cosmetics, Life’s A Festival Line. She said that Too Faced was “one of the first products I ever bought with my own money when I was thirteen. It was one of their pallets and I have always been obsessed with their packaging and just everything about their brand.” She is honored to be representing this make-up line and said “to be a part of this incredible line and be the face of it was a dream come true.” Her favorite products from the Life’s a Festival Line are the Fairy Tears Lipstick and the eyeshadow palette.

While make-up has always been one of RaeLynn’s passion’s, she is also passionate about giving back to the community. When discussing her biggest role-model in music, RaeLynn named Dolly Parton. “She is an incredible person. I think it’s super important to realize that all of this is going to go away and all we’re going to be left with is a legacy of who we were. Not the music that we gave to the world and I think it’s super important to give back and I love how much she gives it back.”

Currently, RaeLynn is on the road with Sarah Evans and Kalie Shorr as part of the CMT Next Women of Country Tour. “Sara Evans is such a staple in country music. I honestly forgot just how many songs I know of hers.” RaeLynn is greatful for being a part of this tour and mentioned that she loves that “CMT gives us the opportunity to be able to be in front of a different crowd and be on tour together and women supporting women I think is super special.”

We were lucky enough to have the CMT Next Women of Country Tour stop by Medford, MA back in February. If you missed RaeLynn this time, she is actively working on a summer tour schedule. Keep your fingers crossed that there is another New England date on there!

With a nomination for the 2018 ACM Awards New Female Vocalist, RaeLynn has a lot to be proud of. If you’re looking for a fun place to watch the ACM Awards please grab a ticket and join NECM at Loretta’s Last Call in Boston, MA on April 15th for our 5th Annual ACM Awards Viewing Party! Proceeds to benefit Boston Children’s Hospital. Tickets can be purchased here.

You can purchase ‘Queen’s Don’t’ on iTunes here and the video for ‘Queen’s Don’t’ is available on YouTube here.

You can follow RaeLynn on her website, on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Medford Shared ‘All The Love’ with the CMT Next Women of Country

On Saturday, February 17th, fans of all ages strolled into the Chevalier Theatre in Medford, MA  for CMT’s Next Women of Country Tour.  The annual tour is all about providing a stage, literally and figuratively, for female artists, including emerging female artists. This year, Sara Evans took Maine’s own Kalie Shorr and RaeLynn along with her on her All The Love Tour, which served as CMT’s Next Women of Country Tour.

Starting off the night, Kalie Shorr, a local to Portland, Maine, took the stage with guitar in hand and laughed about how happy she was to be back in the northeast seeing Dunkins on every corner.  She opened with her very first single, ‘Fight Like a Girl.’  Kalie’s set list included a few singles off her brand new EP, ‘Awake,” you can check it out on Spotify here! She went on to tell the crowd that her first ever love song written was about how she fell in love, which of course was complicated.  The crowd chuckled and she strummed her way into ‘Two Hands.’  Kalie could read the crowd and gave us a little bit of Shania Twain’s ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman,’ leading into another single off her new album, ‘Candy.’ Kalie shared with the crowd how she started at the age of 13 in a Nirvana cover band. She told us, “I love the crossover of rock and roll and country, both genres play on raw emotion and that’s what I love... and since I was never one, here is ‘Cool Kids.'” Following ‘Cool Kids,’ Kalie closed with ‘Awake’ and greeted some fans in the lobby as the rest of Chevalier waited in anticipation for RaeLynn and Miss Sara Evans If you have the chance to catch Kalie, check her out, she admitted that although she “sells CDs and T-shirts, she gives out free hugs” and we can testify to that! 

Lights dimmed and we were back in action.  RaeLynn walked out singing ‘Wild Horse’ in a black sequenced top and thigh high boots. Kalie primed the crowd for RaeLynn and everyone was feeling the love. She continued with ‘God Made Girls’ and then threw it back to Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time After Time’ as she got the crowd singing along!

RaeLynn takes a moment to thank her fans. “Last year I released my debut album and it debuted at #1 because of fans like you. It was compared to Shania Twain, I can die a happy girl.” She explained that’s why she loves country music, the stories that each song tells.  Explaining the backstory of ‘Love Triangle,’ “…the first song written in Nashville was about my parents divorce, thank you for loving it as much as I do.”  ‘Love Triangle’ perfectly segwayed into another crowd favorite of ‘Lonely Call.’ Inviting Kalie back on stage, the duo wraps up with an ode to the Dixie Chicks with ‘I Can Love You Better’ and gets the crowd on their feet and the energy flowing!  Leaving the crowd wanting more, RaeLynn has an exciting year ahead being the new face of the cosmetic brand Too Faced’s new collection, Life’s a Festival,  which also inspired her new single, ‘Festival‘ – (Take a listen).

Just as Sara took the stage, the snow started to fall outside Chevalier, yet that didn’t make the crowd budge.  She opened with ‘Long Way Down,’ a single off her new album, ‘Words.’  Taking a trip down memory lane, Sara belted out ‘A Real Fine Place to Start,’ ‘As If,’ and ‘Backseat of a Greyhound Bus’ mixing in a cover of some Gavin Degraw with ‘Not Over You.’  If you haven’t picked up on the theme of the night, love was in the air. Sara paused and explained her start in entertainment, “I’ve been on stage since I was 4 years old, I grew up copying great women like Patsy Cline, Reba and The Judds but we need more women in country radio,” as she gives a shout out to Kalie and Raelynn.

Sara led us into a segment of new songs from her recently released album, ‘Words.’  And as both Kalie and RaeLynn mentioned, country music is about emotion and telling stories. Sara started with ‘Diving in Deep’ which is about exactly that, making a decision and just going for it. Sara admitted that the next song, ‘All the Love You Left Me,’ was the saddest song to hear and to record and one of the hardest songs to sing but let us tell you, she killed it! As much as you didn’t want to feel the intimacy of the song, she reeled you in and left you with a loss of words.

Introducing her sister singing harmony and her brother on bass guitar behind her she explained, “I was one of seven, it’s like having built in best friends and always having someone looking out for you.” Sarah stepped back and sang ‘Night Light’ with her sister and brother where you could feel the love from your seat.

Lightning the mood, Sara asked the crowd if we’ve ever choose the wrong person… to work with, to love, to be friends with? Simply, “You thought they were good… but they were evil? I wrote this song about how bad that sucks… Business or friends, if only everyone came with a sign.” As the crowd laughs with her, ‘Marquee Sign’ quickly became a favorite of mine.  Setting up the highly anticipated ‘A Little Big Stronger,’ Sara quickly added “because you didn’t have a warning sign… a break up song!” 

Who remembers 2003’s ‘Suds in a Bucket?’  Sara admitted this single was almost overlooked, “I received a demo, an acoustic version, it was SO bad … my label didn’t understand.. but I know I had a hit.” Taking a few minutes, Sara sets up ‘Could Not Ask For More’ by introducing each member of her band who included lead guitarist who is also Carly Pearce’s boyfriend as well as her eldest son, Avery, on acoustic guitar! Surrounded by family and a dedicated band Sara really could not ask for more except maybe if her son got into Berkley College of Music where he auditioned earlier that day!

‘Born to Fly’ was on deck and Sara exited the stage only to return with ‘Words’ and Chicago’s ‘Hard to Say I’m Sorry.’  Rounding the night out, Sara invited Kalie and Raelynn back out and the crowd to stand as we all shared the love, dancing to ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!’

CMT’s Next Women of Country Tour spread the love honoring past women on the radio such as Shania Twain, Dixie Chicks and Cyndi Lauper.  Each Kalie, RaeLynn and Sara have come such a long way from their first steps in the entertainment world. From the age 4 to the age of 13 being in a cover band to Raelynn partnering with a globally known cosmetic brand and Sara paving the way for two new female artists, the love did not go unnoticed in the Chevalier Theatre on that snowy Saturday night.

Did you catch our behind the scenes Instagram takeover by Kalie Shorr from this show? If not, you can check it out below.