Sunday, Jun 26, 2016
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Brian Dugger

Jason Michael Carroll has a shot at superstardom

A couple months ago, Jason Michael Carroll was scheduled to come to Toledo to open up for Steve Holy. He ended up having to cancel his appearance because he was finishing up his debut album, but I checked out his Web site, www.jasonmichaelcarroll, since I wasn t familiar with him.

It takes a lot for me to be blown away by a new artist, but when I listened to "Alyssa Lies," I was numb. It s a heartbreaking story about child abuse, and Jason has seen the single reach No. 5 on the radio charts. The lyrics were tough to digest, but there was something magical about the voice.

The term "rising superstar" gets affixed to way too many new artists, but it might be appropriate in this case. This guy s voice rivals any in the music business, and he s a talented songwriter.

After recording a duet with Carroll for his album, pop star Jewel said, "He s got one of the greatest voices of all time."

That album, "Waitin in the Country," is on fire right now. It debuted at No. 1 on Billboard s Top Country Albums chart after being released earlier this month. It sold 57,608 copies the first week, which is a staggering number for a new artist who few people had heard of until a couple months ago.

It may not be my job to push albums, but I d be doing readers a disservice if I didn t tell them to check out this guy. "Alyssa Lies" is a great song, but there s even better stuff on the album, including the duet with Jewel, "No Good in Goodbye."

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It was interesting talking to Vince Gill recently. Despite being a legend in country music, he s seen the same thing happen to him as has happened to many other aging stars. He s having trouble getting his songs on the radio. He released his latest album, "These Days," a couple of months ago, and it has sold more than a million copies, but radio just isn t stepping up to the plate and playing his stuff.

"Most people from that [radio] world may think, Hey, he s had his run. We re on to the next guy. That s how it works. You see a handful of people who that doesn t happen to, but for most people it does," he said. "My ears tell me I m as good as anyone on the radio. Everyone likes the new, young hot thing. It s how our culture works, but I ain t giving up."

Later on he gave his thoughts on what is being played on the radio: "Country music doesn t sound like it did when I was a kid. But then again, pop doesn t sound the same, or R& B. I don t like a lot of it. I ve had 40 years of loving Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, and Johnny Cash and Willie and Waylon. I ve had about a year to know this current crop. Over time we ll see what s good and what isn t. I just don t think there s as much character as there used to be in country."

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Congratulations to Kimberly and Brad Paisley. Kimberly delivered the couple s first baby early yesterday morning. The baby boy, whose name was not released, was born at 6 a.m. in a Nashville area hospital. Besides awaiting the arrival of the new family member, Brad has been in the studio working on his next album. He kicks off his latest headlining tour with a show in Chattanooga, Tenn., on April 26.

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Jay Leno was put in the awkward position Tuesday night of having to listen to guest Bill Maher put down country music, minutes before Rodney Atkins made his debut on the "Tonight Show."

Maher rambled on about the Dixie Chicks and what a good album they had and how it deserved all the Grammys it received. He then added that "the only use I have for country music is to make fun of it."

The comment got absolutely no response from the audience, and Leno looked extremely uncomfortable.

Atkins later took the stage and performed "Watching You," his recent No. 1. He wanted to respond directly to Maher, but instead sang, then released a statement after the show. "I was proud to sing a song about family values, my life, and what this format is all about. This guy was purposely bashing Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks, Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, George Strait, Martina McBride, Dolly Parton, and all the great artists that influenced my life s direction. ... Everyone does have the freedom of speech, but they should sometimes think before they actually exercise that right."

Leno apologized to Atkins and invited him back, saying, "You are a class act."

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