This whole country music dream is turning out a lot different for Rodney Parker than he thought it was going to be.
"I was naive enough to believe I'd show up in Nashville in a cowboy hat and my guitar, and I'd drive home in a Cadillac," he says with a laugh.
He hasn't come home in a Cadillac yet, but the Delta, Ohio, man has made big strides in securing a record deal. His Nashville-based managers have submitted his music to three major labels. Two of those labels have asked for follow-up meetings.
"These days it takes about $1.5 million to break a new artist. They really want to know me before they stick their neck out and sign me," Parker says.
"I'm glad that I'm not having to beg these people. They have all called me back. I think it's looking real good right now."
He's also written a number of songs that are floating around Nashville. "Hey Jim," a drinking song he's written, is being considered by Blake Shelton.
"Born to Ride" has been pitched to Trace Adkins.
Parker's not the only local talent building his success one day at a time. Branded, the newest country band in town, continues to pick up gigs as people hear about it and see it in person.
"We've been getting a lot of calls. The word is starting to spread," drummer Rick Spitler says. "It's exciting to us that people are liking what they hear."
Branded consists of Spitler, Lanny Raper, Scott Thompson, Lisa Wilbur, Jim Wozniak, and Rich Jones.
The group will be hosting and performing at a benefit tonight for Holly Sayre, a local girl whose family has incurred a mound of medical bills treating a disease "that's too long and hard to pronounce," Spitler says. The event is open to the public and runs from 4 p.m. until midnight at the Pace Local 5 hall, 2910 Consaul St., Toledo. Admission is $5 at the door.
On May 13, Branded will be host for the Colgate Country Showdown, which will feature several bands at the Stagecoach Stop USA in Onsted, Mich.
The band has added several other dates, which will soon be posted to its Web site, www.brandedusa.com.
Pete Schlegel of Defiance continues to keep busy. He is in the studio now working on his sophomore album. His first record had several songs get airplay around the country.
The video for "A Whole Lotta Liquor to Like Her" can still be seen on GAC.
He'll be hosting a showcase in Nashville with producer Razzy Bailey during the CMA Music Festival in June. A showcase is where label executives drop in to check out promising talent.
Beginning May 14, Schlegel will be playing several times a month when his "Pour Me One" tour begins. He will be stopping at the Lucas County Fair for a show on July 30.
He will be singing at the Williams County Fair in Montpelier, Ohio, on Sept. 17. For a complete tour schedule, go to www.trusouth.com.
And finally, Michelle Poe, formerly of Toledo and formerly the bass player for Dierks Bentley, is writing and picking out six more songs for a bluegrass project. Ricky Skaggs' label has expressed interested in picking it up when she's finished.
Poe will be in Toledo on Aug. 13 for an American Cancer Association fund-raiser. More details coming on that, but you can follow Poe's career on her Web site, www.michellepoe.com.