Live from Nashville

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MONDAY, MARCH 16, 2015
Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center

Country Is Back!

Matt Davenport Productions return to their roots in a dazzling new country music extravaganza, “Live From Nashville.”

The staff at Matt Davenport Productions is bursting with proud alumni from Opryland and TNN – the glory days of trend-setting country music entertainment. This ain’t our first rodeo!

Matt Davenport Productions has delivered their own unique blend of country music and music theatre to venues across the country – with a tornado of praise in their wake!

Rockin’ The Country – Fiesta Texas
“Best Show” (IAAPA)

Echo Hollow Jubilee – Branson, Missouri
“People’s Choice” Award

The American Pride Show – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
“Best of the Beach”

Country Tonite – Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
“Best Show in the Smokies”

Personnel:
Twelve musicians, singers and dancers – phenomenal fiddling, fancy footwork and top-flight vocalists!

Musical Scenes include:
The Roots of Country Music
Stars like: Jimmy Rodgers, The Carter Family, Roy Acuff

Country Music’s Golden Age
Stars like: Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton

The Bluegrass Connection
Stars Like: Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, Ricky Skaggs

Grand Ole Gospel
Songs like: “I’ll Fly Away” “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”

Country Rocks
Stars like: The Eagles, The Allman Brothers, The Charlie Daniels Band

Country Music is King
Stars like: Garth Brooks, The Judds, Brooks and Dunn

Today’s Country
 – The biggest arenas in the world host today’s country music royalty.
Star like: Jason Aldean, Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum.

The Country We Love
Songs like: “God Bless the U.S.A.” “America, the Beautiful”

Live From Nashville is a song and dance spectacular that delivers it all. Fully costumed and choreographed theatrical production; It’s a century of celebrities and songs…the tradition that gave “Music City” its name.”

John Berry

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THURSDAY, MAY 1, 2014 – 7:00 PM
Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center

Using his tenor voice as a spiritual tool, John Berry is a moving, inspiring performer that has the power to touch the hearts of both his loyal fans and newest concert-goers.

John recorded and marketed six albums on his own Clear Sky Records label. His regional popularity and those early discs eventually attracted him attention on Music Row. Capitol Records signed him in 1992 and it was then that he had a string of hits including “I Think About It All The Time,” “Change My Mind,” “Kiss Me In The Car,” “What’s In It For Me,” and the #1 Grammy-nominated single “Your Love Amazes Me.” In 1995 he received the Horizon Award and a nomination for Top Male Vocalist by CMA. His performance of the title track CD, O Holy Night, led to his most enduring legacy.

John Berry wants you to listen to him in a whole new way.

Mention his name to just about any country music lover and the response will likely be, “What an awesome vocalist!” For he is noted for the intense passion he has brought to such hits as “Your Love Amazes Me” and “Standing on the Edge of Goodbye.” John Berry’s wide-ranging tenor voice remains an instrument of stupendous power. But it’s not what he wants you to notice on his new Those Were the Days CD.

“This is not about how long can a note be held,” says Berry. “This is not about, ‘Let me show you what I can do.’ This is about the songs. This is about what these songs have got to say. This is about me communicating these messages. Having a conversation, and Let me tell you a story”.

“I was very conscious of that when I recorded this album. I grew up with a real gospel background, a lot of church music. In that kind of music, you sing the notes as long as you can sing them, before you go on to the next one.

The collection’s first single, “A Woman Like You” is already attracting attention with its clever lyric, chopping rhythms and rocking mood. On a song like the sexy, up-tempo “Somethin’ Somethin,'” John Berry is clearly phrasing his vocals in a more conversational manner. He draws you into the message of the ballad “If That Ain’t Love” with gentle persuasion. He is lilting on the jaunty “We Were There,” broken hearted in the power waltz “Fool’s Lullaby” and wistfully resigned in the ballad “Just Married.”

Throughout the album, he shifts the tones and colors of his voice to best convey each of its songs. Berry is remarkably restrained in the sweet story tune “The Balloon Song,” yet muscular in the soaring, melodic choruses of “You Still Own Me.” The power ballad “Day and Night” has vividly picturesque lyrics that he allows to shine. And he revels in the nostalgia and drama of the CD’s title tune, “Those Were the Days.”

In addition to being one of the strongest collections of songs he has ever assembled, Those Were the Days is one of the best-produced albums John Berry has ever made. Its tracks have striking instrumental clarity and ear-opening audio dynamics. Again, this is a result of the star rethinking his approach to recording. Instead of tapping into Nashville’s pool of established producers, Berry went looking for someone with a fresh approach. He hired one of Music Row’s hidden sonic geniuses, Kerry Kurt Phillips, to produce Those Were the Days.

Phillips is known for penning such award-winning songs as “I Don’t Need Your Rocking Chair” (George Jones), “Pickup Man” (Joe Diffie), “Do You Want Fries with That” (Tim McGraw), “She Let Herself Go” (George Strait), “Almost Home” (Craig Morgan), “Down on the Farm” (Tim McGraw), “Drinkin’ Bone”(Tracy Byrd) and “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox” (Joe Diffie). Although John Berry had never met the songwriter, he knew he wanted to find a hit song.

“We had a mutual friend who told him I was looking for some songs,” Berry recalls. “Kerry Kurt said, ‘Sure, send him my way.’ He couldn’t have been nicer. We were looking for something special. The morning we were going over to see him, my manager, Terry Oliver, my wife Robin and I joined hands and prayed for God to send us a song. We left Kerry Kurt’s that afternoon with 18 songs that (would just lay you out) were amazing.

“His demos of his songs sounded so good. I said, ‘Who in the world produces your demos?’ He said, ‘I do it myself.’ I said, “I’d like for you to work on this record with me if you’d consider doing it.’

“One of the things that attracted me to his demos is how real and natural the instruments sounded. It was such an earthy, organic sound. And yet it was so completely contemporary and fit today’s country-music market. I told Kerry Kurt that’s what I wanted.

“He brought ‘Those Were the Days,’ ‘Day and Night’ and ‘If That Ain’t Love’ to us. And then he put that producer’s hat on and said, ‘I’m going to find songs from some (other) friends of mine.’ And he did. So I feel so fortunate and very blessed to have not just a great guy to work with producing the record, but someone who could open up the top drawers of the songs on Music Row.”

John Berry is no stranger to great songs. Nor is he a novice in the recording studio. Born in South Carolina and raised in Georgia, he began playing guitar at 13, performing shows at age 14 and making records at age 19.

Between 1979 and 1990 he recorded and marketed six albums on his own labels. Those early discs and John Berry’s strong regional popularity attracted attention on Music Row. Capitol Records signed him in 1992. Berry’s co-written “A Mind of Her Own” and “Kiss Me in the Car” introduced him to radio audiences in 1993. Then “Your Love Amazes Me,” “What’s in It for Me” and “You and Only You” thrust him to stardom in 1994. “Standing on the Edge of Goodbye,” “I Think About it All the Time” and “If I Had Any Pride Left at All” were all major hits the following year.

But it was his stunning performance of the title track of the 1995 CD O Holy Night that led to his most enduring legacy. John Berry began doing a Christmas tour that year. This year will mark his 12th consecutive holiday concert series. He has also issued three more Christmas-music collections.

Berry took “Change My Mind” into the country-music top-10 in 1996. “She’s Taken a Shine” became an even bigger hit, a number 1, in 1997. He switched to Lyric Street Records in 1999, then to the Ark 21 label in 2000. In 2002, he returned to making records for his own company. Songs and Stories, a double CD issued that year, led to another concert series that continues to this day. On the “Songs and Stories” shows, he performs solo in intimate theater settings.

In 2003, John Berry issued his I Give My Heart collection and its critically applauded wedding anthem “Will You Marry Me.” The disc also contained his versions of such classic love songs such as “Time in a Bottle,” “If,” “Love Look What You’ve Done to Me,” “Faithfully,” “Lady” and “Let’s Stay Together.” I Give My Heart inspired still another popular annual concert series, “The Love Tour.” These are full-band shows scheduled just before and after each Valentine’s Day.

Now Those Were the Days marks John Berry’s return to mainstream country music. It is on his Clear Sky Records label, as are Celebrate This Christmas (2005), Hits (2006), O’ Holy Night Live, I Give My Heart, and Songs and Stories. These days, it is common for country artists to succeed with their own labels. John Berry was doing it long before any of his peers.

“This is a rebirth of sorts and I’m into that.”

Take Me Home: The Music of John Denver

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TUESDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2013, 7:00 PM.
Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center

After a wildly successful Live on Stage event in Midland during the 2012 season, demand has been very high for the return of Jim Curry to the Permian Basin. Live on Stage Permian Basin is proud to announce the return of “Take Me Home: The Music of John Denver.”

Jim Curry began his music career writing and performing the opening song, “The Time of Your Life” for his senior play. The song was then voted to be the 1975 class song and Jim was awarded a Rotary Scholarship to study music in college. Even at this early stage in his life Jim’s natural voice resembled that of singer/songwriter John Denver. Embracing the similarities, Jim continued to sing and specialize in the songs of John Denver, sharing John’s positive messages of love, humanity and environmental awareness.

The untimely death of John Denver’s in 1997 was a tragedy that was felt the world over. Such a void in the musical world left John’s ardent fans demanding that his music survive. CBS television responded by producing a made for TV movie: “Take Me Home, the John Denver Story” in which Jim landed an off-camera role singing as the voice of John Denver. This experience inspired Jim to produce full–length John Denver tribute concerts.

He’s not your usual “Vegas style” impersonator. In fact, he is not an impersonator at all. Jim sings, in his own natural voice, a tribute to the music in a way that has to be seen and heard to understand the pure honesty of his amazing performance. His looks and his voice are simply a pleasant coincidence that captures the true essence of John Denver’s music. Curry’s heartfelt delivery rolls out into the crowd as multi-platinum hits like “Rocky Mountain High,” “Annie’s Song” and “Calypso” fill the room.

Jim believes that John Denver’s words still ring true in these difficult times of war and environmental crisis. John Denver grew rapidly into a mega celebrity when the world was looking for some hope in the late 60’s and his lyrics in songs like, “Take me Home Country Roads” gave America a new lift abroad as well as at home. People all over the world found pride in the natural wonders of the earth and love for John’s message of caring for our planet and each other. Jim delivers these songs in the same spirit, with the same heartfelt care and desire to make a difference. As the concerns of global warming and other environmental issues reach today’s youth, Curry sees a growing number of younger listeners. Curry says, “These songs blend the images of our natural earth with a love for each other as people. The care you give to someone you love is the best care. Making that connection to our earth and to each other is the goal.”

Jim has created the ultimate tribute experience and has emerged as the top performer of John Denver’s music today. He often performs with John Denver’s former band members. Curry’s tribute is the first and only full-length John Denver tribute in a Las Vegas Casino and is a sell-out favorite at the Silverton time after time. Curry has taken his show on the road to Performing Arts Centers and Casinos in the US and Canada and out to sea as one of the most popular shows on the Holland America Cruise Line.

On October 2007, the 10th anniversary of John’s passing, Jim brought a landmark concert to the stage in Aspen Colorado. It included many of John Denver’s former band members, some of them for the first time in a tribute show. Bass player Dick Kniss (who also tours with Peter Paul and Mary) Songwriter, guitar and dobro player Steve Weisberg (who penned many John Denver’s recordings) Banjo player Jim Connor (a former member of the New Kingston Trio and author of the hit song “ Grandma’s Feather Bed”) Legendary guitarist James Burton (Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson and John Denver) and in what would be one of his last major performances before his passing, singer/songwriter John Stewart of the famed Kingston Trio. The bold and dynamic thinking of Curry continues to produce historical concert engagements and bring icons of the music industry together into powerful shows.

Jim’s latest efforts are to take his tribute show to a new level by adding symphony orchestrations back into live performances of John Denver music. When John Denver wanted to add a full orchestra to his live shows and recordings, he teamed up with Grammy Award winning arranger, composer and conductor Lee Holdridge. Lee’s symphony arrangements, along with John’s songs became the trademark sound of many of John’s hits. Jim Curry and Lee Holdridge have now brought the rebirth of the timeless songs of America’s troubadour back in a full-length live concert of John Denver’s greatest works.

Whether Jim is performing with a symphony orchestra, with his talented band, or all by himself, his compelling voice, combined with dramatic images of nature is an unforgettable show that will truly fill up your senses.

Exile

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TUESDAY, SEPT 10, 2013 – 7:00 PM
Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center

Classic rockers turned country rebels – Exile is reunited and stirring up some musically entertaining madness … just like they did 25 years ago.

In 1978, Exile reached their pop peak with #1 single “Kiss You All Over,” but it was their shift to country music that brought the most success. With six Country Music Association nominations, it’s safe to say the shift was a success. The band topped the country charts with numerous #1 hits including “Woke Up in Love,” “Give Me One More Chance,” “Crazy For Your Love,” “She’s a Miracle,” “Hang On to Your Heart,” “I Could Get Used to You,” “She’s Too Good to Be True” and the list goes on.

In 1963, the year before the Beatles scored their first American hit, a group of kids calling themselves “The Exiles” climbed onto an outdoor stage in the small midstate town of Richmond, Kentucky and proceeded to make musical history—not just with their songs, but with their longevity as well. 50 years later, that same band—Exile—is still rockin’ with a mix of original and seminal members. Nations have had shorter life spans.

Nowadays, J. P. Pennington, Les Taylor, Sonny LeMaire, Marlon Hargis and Steve Goetzman can look back on a career arc that embraces 11 No. 1 country and pop hits, two gold albums and fans by the hundreds of thousands. Best of all, Exile is still touring, and continues to create and record brilliant new music. That fact became evident in September 2010 with the band’s digital release of the EP “People Get Ready” on Big Horse Records, distributed by GMV Nashville. AirPlay Direct distributed the EP to radio (July 4, 2012), featuring as the lead single the J. P. Pennington/Sonny Lemaire/Shane Minor-penned “Bread On The Table.”

After watching from the wings as the band performed on the Grand Ole Opry, fellow country star Trace Adkins approached Exile with the proposal that he and they join forces to re-cut a new version of the band’s international breakthrough hit, “Kiss You All Over.” GAC videotaped that historic session for the network’s “Hit Exchange” series. The episode was broadcast multiple times, beginning in December 2011. The song is included on Adkins’ 2013 release “Love Will…”

Following the band’s debut in Richmond City Park – which, as founding member Pennington recalls was “upstaged” by a fist-fight in the crowd – The Exiles steadily moved on to regional and then national fame. In 1966, pop music godfather Dick Clark tapped the band for his “Caravan of Stars,” a touring company headlined by the likes of The Rascals, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Freddy Cannon, Bryan Hyland and B. J. Thomas.

In 1973, after shortening the name to “Exile,” the band continued to pursue and secured record deals in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. However, they were not able to produce a breakout single that could launch the band to super-stardom. Then, in 1978, it happened, thanks to a three-and-a-half-minute surge of heavy breathing called “Kiss You All Over.” The song rocketed to No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart and stayed there four weeks.

From then on, it was a blur. The band appeared on Midnight Special and Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert and toured with Fleetwood Mac, Boston, Heart, Aerosmith, Dave Mason, Seals & Croft and other rock luminaries. Now the guys from tiny Richmond, Kentucky, were pounding out music on giant stages throughout the U. S., Europe and South Africa.

But one hit does not a career make. A series of albums and a few personnel switches failed to re-ignite Exile’s pop fire. Fortunately, the band had been noticing the artistic changes taking place in country music, how it seemed to be opening itself to rock and pop influences following the Urban Cowboy craze. “Going country” certainly wasn’t a stretch for Pennington, whose mother, Lilly Mae Ledford, was the pivotal figure in the Coon Creek Girls, an “old-time music” band that once played at the White House to entertain President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the King and Queen of England.

Through their manager, Jim Morey, Exile attracted the attention of Nashville super-producer Buddy Killen. A deal with Epic Records soon followed. The move was perfect fit…the No. 1 hits began pouring out, every one of them written by Pennington and LeMaire. The first, “Woke Up In Love,” topped the country charts in 1984.

Over the next three years, Exile reigned with “I Don’t Want To Be A Memory,” “Give Me One More Chance,” “Crazy For Your Love,” “She’s A Miracle,” “Hang On To Your Heart,” “I Could Get Used To You,” “It’ll Be Me,” “She’s Too Good To Be True” and “I Can’t Get Close Enough.” When it came to light-the-candles-and-warm-the-brandy love songs, Exile was country music’s answer to Barry White.

By the late 1980s, though, the band was suffering from road-weariness. So, one by one, the members peeled off in different musical directions. After a hiatus of several years, during which Pennington and Taylor headed and toured with various permutations of the band, the original members of Exile’s country incarnation reunited in 2008 for what they believed would be a one-time benefit show. But the audience response was so encouraging—and the music still sounded so darn good—that Pennington, Taylor, LeMaire, Hargis and Goetzman decided to regroup and do it all over again.

After 50 years, they certainly know what they’re doing. And the new crowds they’ve attracted know it, too.

Collin Raye

Collin Raye

THURSDAY, NOV. 8, 2012 – 7:00PM
Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center

One of the true hit makers of the 1990’s, Collin Raye still continues to crank out soulful, heartfelt material with the honesty and richness that is signature to his vocals on his newly formed label, StarPointe Records.

Collin Raye is nothing if not passionate. His fiery delivery has made country standards of such searing ballads as “Love, Me,” “In This Life,” “Not That Different” and “Little Rock.” Always an electrifying showman, he has also blazed through such vivid rockers as “My Kind of Girl,” “That’s My Story,” “I Can Still Feel You” and “I Want You Bad.”

Collin shot to fame with “Love, Me” in 1991. Listeners were so touched that they used its lyrics at funerals and memorial services. That set the cornerstone for a career built on meaningful songs. “Little Rock” was an anthem for the recovery community. “Not That Different” pleaded for tolerance. “In This Life” became a wedding favorite. He won awards for the child-advocacy video “I Think About You.” Five times nominated as country music’s Male Vocalist of the Year, Collin Raye has consistently used his stardom to advance social causes. Among the organizations he has supported are Boys Town, First Steps, Al-Anon, Special Olympics, Country Cares About AIDS, Catholic Relief Services, Parade of Pennies, Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, The Tennessee Task Force Against Domestic Violence, The Emily Harrison Foundation, Childhelp USA, Silent Witness National Initiative, Easter Seals and Make a Difference Day. At the 2001 Country Radio Seminar, Clint Black presented Collin Raye with the organization’s Humanitarian of the Year award in recognition of Collin’s issue-oriented music and his tireless charity work.

The man who has topped the charts with such great songs as “On the Verge,” “One Boy, One Girl,” “What the Heart Wants,” “Every Second” and “That Was a River” is finally ready for another round of successes. 

”I believe in Providence,” says Collin Raye. “I believe there’s a reason things happen the way they do. I also believe that if you’ve treated people right and you continue to work hard at your craft, things will happen. I want to keep going. I want hit records. I want to make music.”

Nominated five times as country music Male Vocalist of the Year, Collin continues to do what he loves: share his passion. Whether it’s delivering the unforgettable lines of his first No. 1 hit, “Love, Me,” or supporting an array of various organizations, such as Boys Town and Special Olympics, Collin has truly touched the lives of many. At the 2001 Country Radio Seminar, Clint Black presented him with the organization’s Humanitarian of the Year award.

Collin’s career has been built on meaningful songs and issue-oriented music. And with chart-toppers like “One Boy, One Girl,” On the Verge,” “What the Heart Wants,” “Every Second,” and “That Was a River,” Collin Raye is ready to take on another round of success.