WSRE invites the community to attend the production of three new StudioAmped shows featuring local country music artists and songwriters from the Frank Brown International Songwriters’ Festival. The tapings of the episodes are FREE and will take place at the Jean & Paul Amos Performance Studio on the Pensacola campus of Pensacola State College at 7 PM. Doors open at 6.
The series commemorates both the fall broadcast of Ken Burns’ Country Music docuseries and the 35th anniversary of the Frank Brown International Songwriters’ Festival.
Monday, Aug. 5. Tony-Ray Thompson says his singing and songwriting style is influenced by artists such as Eric Church, Alan Jackson and the Highwaymen supergroup of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. His versatility in performing country, blues and southern rock has made him a sought-after act along the Gulf Coast.
Tuesday, Aug. 6. The BeachBilly’s [sic] band includes accomplished local musicians T-Bone Montgomery, Dave Caluger, Mark Sherrill, James Daniel and Augie Savage. Mr. Montgomery was born in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and comes from a long line of songwriters, including his uncle, “Peanut” Montgomery, who wrote hit songs for George Jones.
Mr. Sherrill has written songs cut by Jones, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, Tanya Tucker and Blake Shelton. He received the Nashville Songwriters Association International’s “10 Songs I Wish I’d Written” achievement award for “Ole Red,” co-written with Don Goodman and James Bohon and recorded by Mr. Shelton.
Thursday, Aug. 8. Brittany Grimes, Davis Nix and Darrel Roberts. Ms. Grimes is a country singer-songwriter from south Alabama. She fell in love with music and started writing songs at a young age. She has been performing at songwriters’ festivals and local music venues since age 13. At 14, she performed at Nashville’s CMA Fest, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Rippy’s, Blue Bird Cafe and The Listening Room. By 15, she had taught herself to play guitar and began performing solo shows.
She has written songs and shared the stage with many of her idols and mentors over the years. Her musical influences are widely spread among genres and include many Gulf Coast performers who have mentored her throughout her songwriting career. In June, she released a five-song EP of some of her favorite original songs produced by Brandon White and Greg Deluca.
Mr. Nix is an American alternative country music singer-songwriter from Montgomery, Alabama. Encouraged by his songwriting parents, he was playing guitar by age 10. At 11, his passion for music was still growing strong, and he became interested in drums.
He remembers the first drum kit his parents bought for him for $500. “I probably still owe them to this day for that drum kit,” says Mr. Nix. He was playing gigs by age 12, the first of which was an office party for $600. In 2018, he released the six-song EP Part One, which garnered him national press in Rolling Stone.
Mr. Roberts was born and raised on the Gulf Coast and began writing songs at age 14. A family move to Texas exposed him to different forms of music and opportunities to play and write in different genres. By 18, he was in a progressive rock band performing all-original material and opening for acts like Argent.
After that, a vocal trio was formed, opening for acts such as B.B. King, John Hammond Jr., and Ike and Tina Turner. The music scene of the 1970s opened the door to country music for Mr. Roberts. “That time in my life was so productive as a player, a writer and artist,” he says. “I got to play with some tremendous writer-artists and then was given the opportunity to write with some people who were big influences on what I’ve become.”
While Texas offered great opportunities, returning to the Gulf Coast proved to be productive, too. He arrived at the Flora-Bama Lounge & Package Store in 1981 and discovered a place where artists were writing and playing good music with encouragement from owner Joe Gilchrist. “There couldn’t have been a better atmosphere for creativity anywhere on the planet,” Mr. Roberts says. “Joe also got some of the big writers to come down from Nashville, some real legends. That became an avenue to network with some really great writers.” Mr. Roberts has performed at every Frank Brown International Songwriters’ Festival since it started in 1984.
The StudioAmped Summer Country Concerts are FREE and open to the public. No tickets or registration required. Food donations for Manna Pantries are welcome and will be collected at the door.
– Mary Riker