For quite some time, Sam Hunt’s fans were longing from new music. Let’s be real, Sam’s career started off hot and really slowed down after the release of ‘Downtown’s Dead.’ And for months, fans wondered if Sam was dead… simply because he went quiet. No new music. No social media posts. No tour announcements. For a guy who was at the prime of his career with smash hits and sold out tours, for him to go quiet was pretty odd.
But fans were elated last week when Sam dropped his new single, called ‘Kinfolks.’ And country radio responded with it being the top added song to country radio this week with over 130 stations adding it to their rotation.
But from what we just saw on the Gram, it sounds like Sam might be releasing even more music soon. At a surprise appearance at The Listening Room last night for a benefit for the American Cancer Society, he said, “I just put out the first song I’ve put out in awhile… this song, we’re going to put out in a few weeks. I haven’t played it yet…“
Check it out below and let us know what you think!
We just got back from a quick trip to Music City. 3 days of live music, eating and of course there was some drinking as well. During this trip, we stayed in the Broadway area of Nashville as our hotel was just a couple of blogs from Broadway and the ease of walking to places rather than relying on a Uber was nice. So where were our favorite places to eat and drink during this trip? Check it out.
Jason Aldean’s Kitchen + Rooftop Bar: 307 Broadway
When you think about Broadway, you really don’t think about food. It’s all about the music and the drinking. But Aldean’s breaks the mold as their food is probably the best that we’ve had on Broadway. The Bavarian Pretzel was huge and was soooo good. Make sure you get the queso to go with it! Also, the Southern Nachos were awesome if you’re a nacho person like me. Instead of tortillas, they use kettle chips and they top them with pulled pork and you’re favorite nacho toppings.
For entrees, the classic burger was unreal. A double patty burger that you literally do not need ketchup for. We also loved the Hot Chicken Sandwich (can’t go to Nashville and not get hot chicken) and the Mac & Cheese with beer pulled chicken.
Aldean’s features 6 bars throughout the building with our favorite being up on the rooftop with views of all of Broadway- probably the best view of Broadway. We’re not putting this list in any order of favorites but I can tell you for sure that Aldean’s was the best overall experience we had as far as food, drink, environment and service! Do not skip Aldean’s on your next trip to Nashville
Luke’s 32 Bridge Food + Drink: 301 Broadway
Sharing a building and rooftop is Jason Aldean’s good friend, Luke Bryan, with Luke’s 32 Bridge. This place is massive with 9 bars, yes NINE, with all different feels. There’s live music on different floors with an outdoor lower patio at the Nut House bar. There’s a dance floor for late night fun.
But our favorite was probably up on the roof at Luke’s Sushi Bar. Yes, sushi in Nashville. Most would probably steer away from a restaurant that is nowhere near the ocean but if you’re a sushi lover, this place is for you! Try the Bridge which literally comes on a Bridge. It has multiple rolls ranging from shrimp tempura to crab and salmon.
But if you’re not a sushi person, there are other options as well. If you want something lighter, try the avocado toast. If you want something that will stick to your ribs, the burger topped with bacon AND pulled pork will fill you up! We also really enjoyed the hot chicken bites that came in a cast iron pan with dipping sauce.
FGL House: 120 3rd Ave. South
Admittedly, we stopped at FGL House for our final dinner so we had already made some unhealthy eating choices over the previous couple days. We wanted to give our body a break so we got a couple healthier options at FGL House and honestly, they didn’t disappoint!
The Hot Chicken Salad was great with the heat of the chicken being balanced with the veggies. And the Nashville Strip with the mashed potatoes was SO good and SO tender.
We also tried their version of Chicken & Waffles which is one of our favorite dishes to eat- our go to at Loretta’s in Boston. And FGL House’s version did not disappoint with a perfect waffle topped with flavorful chicken and bacon! Can never go wrong with bacon!
We really loved the vibe at FGL House. It is not directly on Broadway so it wasn’t overly loud or overly crowded. The decor was awesome with colored lighting and old fuel and oil signage that would make the American Pickers jealous. The Cruise rooftop bar was great to hang out and have a cocktail on after dinner- we recommend the Party People.
Sun Diner: 105 3rd Ave. South
After a late night of drinking- and let’s face it, you’re going to have at least one of those in Nashville- we all need a good breakfast. And Sun Diner is a must stop. The cozy diner is mostly bar service with a couple tables in the back but the bar service reminded us of our favorite diners up here where you can sit and watch your food being made. When we got here, there wasn’t a seat available, and there was a small line for seats- always a good sign!
We wanted a mimosa, but they didn’t have one to serve… they had their own version which was orange juice but instead of champagne/prosecco, with beer. We decided to try one with Blue Moon and it was actually pretty dang good! Recommend it if you’re a breakfast cocktail type of person!
For food, the Creme Brûlée French Toast was unreal! This plate is massive and so delicious. Their version of eggs benedict replaces the ham with pork belly and we were not disappointed! The breakfast wrap was huge and stuffed with eggs, bacon, hash browns and pico. But if there’s one thing to try at Sun Diner, it’s their Donut Breakfast Sandwich. Yep, we said it. Donut Breakfast Sandwich. It’s a sausage egg and cheese between 2 glazed donuts. The juxtaposition of the sweet donuts to the savory sausage was awesome. So when you’re in Nashville with a hunkering for breakfast, Sun Diner is a must!
Side note: if you get pancakes or french toast, or something that needs syrup- you’re in for a treat! Their own syrup line is fantastic. Make sure you try the Spicy Pecan flavored syrup!
Legendairy Milkshake Bar: 171 3rd Ave. North
Alright so if you have a sweet tooth, like me, this place is for you. It’s about two blocks north of Broadway, just up the street from Ole Red and a couple streets over from Printer’s Alley. We stumbled across this place after a recommendation from one of our friends and after checking out their menu, we knew we had to stop by.
Their menu has 12 signature shakes plus a Shake of the Day. You can also make your own but there’s honestly no need to with the signatures shakes they have. We decided on the Rolling in the Cookie Dough, Campfire S’mores, Death by Chocolate and Milk(shake) & Cookies.
When you sit down and they bring your shakes to your table, it can be overwhelming. These shakes are legitimate culinary masterpieces. They’re beautiful but big. You’re going to think to yourself, ‘there’s no way I can finish this.’ But once you dig in, you’re probably going to.
All of the shakes we got were awesome. Other patrons seemed to get the same ones we did but we definitely saw some other ones that we did not get. My personal favorite was the cookie dough one but the others were just as good. Nashville is hot at this time of the year. Whether you’re down there for CMA Fest or just to hang out, we recommend heading to the Legendairy Milkshake Bar for a sweet treat!
The Valentine: 312 Broadway
We stumbled upon this place when our pedal tavern made this one of the scheduled stops- thanks Country Music Crawler! When we arrived we were given a card for 2 for 1 shots- couple this deal with the shot special that we were already getting via the pedal tavern, and we got quite the deal. The shot was a blue lemon drop which was very good! And 2 of ’em for $5? Yes, please.
We enjoyed ourselves so much, that after we finished our pedal tavern, we decided to go back and drink some more and eat. Of course, we got more shots but we wanted some apps to fill our bellies. And we were thoroughly impressed with the Valentine. Yes, it was bar food but it was pretty damn good bar food. The chicken fingers were perfect- so much so that we ordered more. The chicken quesadillas were juicy. And the pretzel sticks had a great crisp to them to go with their warm queso. Add in some nachos and it’s a great little mid-afternoon snack to prolong your day on Broadway.
The Valentine doesn’t have a big artist name associated with it and it’s not one of the big name iconic establishments on Broadway but that doesn’t mean you should skip this place. We’ll definitely return when we go back to Nashville!
The big day has arrived. Today, October 16th 2018, is moving day for one of our favorite local country artists, Timmy Brown. The Norton, MA native has loaded up his U-Haul truck with his treasured Gibson hummingbird and is currently making the one-thousand-mile drive to sunny Nashville, TN. Music City is gaining a talented songwriter, accomplished guitarist, and brilliant entertainer.
Timmy Brown has made country music his life. He learned to play the piano at the age of five and later he taught himself to play the guitar. Brown is a classically trained singer and his voice is incredible. Over the years, Brown has auditioned for The Voice, America’s Got Talent, and not one, but two seasons of American Idol. This past year he made it all the way to the Top 60 on American Idol! Timmy Brown has opened for stars such as Kane Brown, Dustin Lynch, Lindsay Ell, Chase Rice, High Valley, and Jimmie Allen. He is the winner of our New England Country Music’s Local Male Artist of the Year award for both 2016 and 2017. He also performed at our annual NECM Festival in both 2017 and 2018. An avid New England sports fan, Brown has had the opportunity to sing the national anthem twice at Gillette Stadium before Patriots’ pre-season games. Timmy Brown has been performing all over New England both acoustically as well as with his four-member band, Black Diamond Country Band. Black Diamond has been regularly playing at Toby Keith’s I love This Bar and Grill in Foxborough, Greasy Luck Brewpub in New Bedford, as well as local fairs and festivals throughout the area. The talented members include Mike Franklin on lead guitar, David Allen on bass guitar, Jeff Ballou on drums, and Leo Melanson on steel guitar and guitar.
Timmy Brown released his first EP, ‘Leave This Town,’ in April of 2016. It was recorded at Sound Emporium and Blackbird Studio in Nashville. The six-song album is filled with a mix of emotionally charged tracks such as ‘Fly Away’ and fun-loving country tunes like ‘Lil Bit’ and ‘Tequila, Lime, and Salt.’ He has been performing a combination of covers and these six songs over the past two years to his loyal fanbase all over New England. Recently, Brown has introduced us to two brand new songs that he wrote but has not recorded yet, ‘How We Drink Here’ and ‘That’s Where You Come In.’ Last month, at the second annual Local CountryFest at Indian Ranch, before introducing the crowd to his song ‘How We Drink Here,’ he said: “How many of you guys have ever gone out on a Thursday night or a Friday night after a long week and you told your friends you were just gonna have one drink. But one turns to two and two turns to three, right? That’s what I wrote this song about. Cause that’s how we drink in New England.” Later in the performance he explained the meaning behind ‘That’s Where You Come In,’ by saying: “How many of you have a dream or don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend, or have something that you’re working on? You have this dream and you have this life and you want to share it with someone. That’s what I wrote this song about.” Both of these songs will make fantastic additions to a future album.
Though we are very sad to see Timmy Brown leave us New Englanders, he does plan on returning for shows. Be sure to check his schedule. We, at New England Country Music, wish him all the best on his new adventure!
Be sure to purchase his debut single ‘Lil Bit’ on iTunes here.
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.