For the second year in a row, the NYCountry Swag team packed up and headed to Nashville to participate in Country Radio Seminar. CRS for short takes place each February and this year the seminar celebrated 50 years of memories and incredible musical moments. CRS is an annual three-day convention where country music and the radio industry gather to exchange ideas, set trends, introduce brands, launch artists and make decisions that affect every aspect of the genre’s future. The seminar includes new music from rising artists as well as some of the most established artists in the business. For some of the best moments and the most exclusive shots, check out our highlight reel on Instagram here.
To kick off the week we flew to town a day before the seminar started to attend a show at the Grand Ole Opry, one of Nashville’s staple events. On this particular night, we caught Justin Moore, Travis Denning, Chris Janson and making their Opry debut, the Davisson Brothers. Each artist brought their unique brand of country music to the famed circle, as always respecting the incredible honor it is to play there. Big thanks to Jordan Pettit for allowing our team to explore backstage, and even catch Chris Janson’s set from the stage.
The next day officially kicked off the seminar which is held at the Omni Hotel. The first event was the Warner Luncheon which featured Morgan Evans, Devin Dawson, Cody Johnson, Cole Swindell, Chris Janson, Ashley McBryde, Dan + Shay and Humanitarian of the Year, Blake Shelton. This event allows these artists to perform just one song for a room full of media and radio programmers from across the country. Highlights included Ashley McBryde telling the story of her teacher in grade school telling her that her dream of writing songs was stupid, she went on to sing “Girl Goin’ Nowhere” and you could hear a pin drop during her poignant song. Shelton accepted the Humanitarian of the Year award from last year’s recipient Dierks Bentley then after thanking everyone for the great honor sang “Austin” and “Ole Red” two of the songs that skyrocketed him to superstardom.
After the luncheon, we headed to a Happy Hour reception held by The Valory Music Company. Valory’s recording artists including Brantley Gilbert, Aaron Lewis, Thomas Rhett, Tyler Rich, Eli Young Band, and Justin Moore were all in attendance, sharing a drink with the invited guests. We had the chance to chat with Thomas Rhett and Tyler Rich about their upcoming plans for 2019 as well as Rhett’s headlining show at Madison Square Garden this fall. Thank you to Don Gosselin for having us out and for always being such a huge supporter of NYCountry Swag.
Next up was Amazon Music Country Heat, a showcase that featured King Calaway, Tenille Townes, Adam Hambrick, HARDY and Zac Brown Band. Highlights for us included seeing King Calaway, a band we are proud to support from the very beginning getting their shot to showcase their talent and charisma for a large audience of influential people in this business. Zac Brown Band premiered a brand new song as well as had everyone on their feet dancing along to their cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
Next up was an exclusive once in a lifetime moment for CRS attendees, Garth Brooks closed down Bridgestone Arena for an intimate one-man show. Not only did Brooks answer questions about his career and give advice to the crowd but he played snippets of songs from artists that inspired him throughout his career including Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Keith Whitley and many more. The show concluded with a CRS sing-along of one of his biggest hits “Friends In Low Places”.
Closing out day one, we headed to Luke’s 32 Bridge on Broadway to catch Jon Langston and a performance from the man himself, Luke Bryan. Langston rocked the crowd as an opener for Bryan’s very first time performing in his own bar. He played current hits such as “What Makes You Country” and “Huntin’ Fishin’ and Lovin’ Everyday” as well as throwing it back to “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)”. He invited Morgan Wallen to jump on stage, a total surprise for the crowd as well as Wallen himself, as the two sang to his number one hit “Up Down”.
Day two started with one of the most highly anticipated events of the seminar, the Team UMG Lunch at The Ryman Auditorium. The hallowed halls of the Ryman were the perfect setting for Kassi Ashton, Dierks Bentley, Eric Church, Jordan Davis, Travis Denning, Vince Gill, Adam Hambrick, Caylee Hammack, Brandon Lay, Little Big Town, Maddie & Tae, Chris Stapleton, and Keith Urban. Little Big Town played a brand new song for attendees, a heartfelt ballad recognizing the importance of raising our girls to be strong women. As a surprise, Darius Rucker did not take the stage alone, Hootie and the Blowfish performed two of their biggest hits, “Let Her Cry” and “Hold My Hand” which had the entire auditorium on their feet singing along.
Next up was a 90’s Country Night event hosted by Monument Records featuring one of our 2019 Artists to Watch Brandon Ratcliff and Walker Hayes. Ratcliff sang his debut single “Rules of Breaking Up” as well as a cover of one of his favorite 90’s country hits, Shania Twain’s “Still The One”, showcasing his undeniable talent to the crowd. Walker Hayes was prepared to rock the beautiful theatre, giving the invited guests a sneak peek at his ‘Dream On It’ tour. He performed all of his hits and even gave the audience a taste at new music. Special shout out to Sarah DHilly and Casey Thomas from Monument and Olivia Hanceri from SMACK Songs for inviting us out to the event and always taking such good care of us. We were so happy to see you all!
We rushed over to The Bell Tower to catch Radio Disney’s event ‘Let The Girls Play’ hosted by Kalie Shorr and Savannah Keyes. We caught Runaway June play their girl power anthem “Buy My Own Drinks”, Cassadee Pope sing her new single “If My Heart Had a Heart” and “Raelynn” perform “Love Triangle”.
Finally, we headed to the presidential suite at the Omni where Warner Music Nashville hosted Tucker Beathard, their most recent signee. Beathard performed for the suite, playing music from his latest album, Nobody’s Everything and showcasing new songs that will be on the next installment of songs.
Beathard displays a unique and soulful way of storytelling. We are so grateful for our friends at Warner including Diane Monk and Tim Foisset for the invite to the exclusive performance and for the incredible conversations this past week and their continued support.
The final day of the seminar kicked off with the Big Machine Label Group luncheon which featured Rascal Flatts, Brantley Gilbert, Riley Green, Lauren Jenkins, and Noah Schnacky. The variety of acts, Gilbert with his raw rock n roll country blend, Jenkins with her soulful meaningful lyrics and Rascal Flatts with their giant, classic country hits made for the perfect afternoon of music.
One of the most anticipated events always closes out the seminar, New Faces which features the best new artists in the genre. In the past 50 years, almost every single huge country star has been honored at the New Faces showcase. To start out the night a video clip of Tim McGraw played on the giant screens, an interview with the superstar about his set at New Faces 25 years ago. It was the same night that McGraw met his future wife, Faith Hill. As attendees took their seats and ate their dinners, the interviewer mentions that they had a clip from that night and as the first notes of “Don’t Take The Girl” played on the screens the curtain rose to reveal the last big surprise of CRS, singing the song in person was Tim McGraw.
Prepped for a night of great music from rising artists, we were so proud that first up was Russell Dickerson, an artist we have been working with since our very first event in January 2016. Dickerson brought his high energy set to CRS, playing his first two number hits, “Blue Tacoma” and “Yours” as well as his next single “Everything Little Thing”. As he closed his set by jumping around on stage, the audience was eager to award him with a standing ovation, proving why he was in this class of New Faces.
Next up was Lindsey Ell who surprised her label by performing a brand new song and showing off her incredible guitar skills on “Criminal” and “Castle”. Another artist we have championed since 2017 to make the New Faces roster was Jimmie Allen. Allen’s cool delivery and swagger had the audience captivated from his first song “Best Shot” to his closing number, a song he wrote about being a black man in country music “All Tractors Ain’t Green”. One of the most epic moments of the night, he brought out several gospel singers to accompany him, showcasing his true artistry.
Next up, the boys of LANCO brought their live set to the stage, performing “Greatest Love Story” and “Born to Love You” and even took the opportunity to premiere brand new music for the radio seminar audience. Closing out the night with Dylan Scott’s energetic live set, the crooner performed his latest single “Nothing To Do Town” and even covered Keith Whitley He ended the night with his smash hit “My Girl”.
Bookending the trip with another stop at the famed Grand Ole Opry, we headed back to the historic venue Saturday night to catch Mitchell Tenpenny’s Opry debut. Since meeting Tenpenny back in 2017 and interviewing him first on our live session in the middle of Times Square, we have enjoyed championing this incredible musician and watching his career continue to flourish. We were lucky enough to watch him step into the infamous circle for the very first time from the side of the stage with the rest of his team. Check out an exclusive video of the magical moment on our Instagram below.
Overall the three day seminar gave NYCountry Swag the opportunity to connect with people our team had been emailing with over the past year, hear some incredible new music from rising artists as well as being in awe of some of country music’s biggest icons. We learned, connected and celebrated country music with the rest of the Nashville community and with people who live across the country. Thank you to Aristo PR for credentialing our team and we are already looking forward to CRS 2020! Don’t forget to visit our highlight reel on Instagram here to check out photos and videos from some of the best moments of the week.
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