Story and interview by Don Wilcock
Jake Owen, Montgomery Gentry, John Michael Montgomery, Scotty McCreery and Dan + Shay are all scheduled to perform at WGNA-FM’s 21st annual CountryFest at the Schaghticoke Fairgrounds on Saturday (July 12). And Local 518 country faves Cryin’ Out Loud will open, the show which is expected to attract 15,000 people.
Headliner Jake Owen’s album Barefoot Blue Jean Night hit No. 1 on the country charts in 2011. The album’s title track and three more singles from that album (“Alone with You,” “The One That Got Away” and “Anywhere with You”) also reached No. 1, and his newest single, “Beachin’,” off his latest album, Days of Gold, is currently climbing its way up the country charts. He performed in the area last year at SPAC, opening for Jason Aldean.
Meanwhile, Dan & Shay’s debut single, “19 You & Me,” went gold, and they were named one of Billboard’s “2014 Artists to Watch.” They recently received their first ACM nomination for Vocal Duo of the Year, as well as a CMT Music Awards nomination for Duo Video of the Year. Their debut album Where It All Began was released on Warner Bros. Records on April 1, and it debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Albums chart. Other than their appearance at CountryFest on Saturday, the duo is out on summer tour with Blake Shelton on his Ten Times Crazier 2014 Tour.
In the midst of their tour, Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney took time out to chat with Nippertown earlier this week:
NIPPERTOWN: Your appearance at WGNA CountryFest is a one-off show. How do you feel about sharing the stage with Jake Owen, Montgomery Gentry, John Michael Montomery, and Scotty McCreery?
DAN SMYERS: It is an honor and a dream come true to share the stage with such talented artists. We listen to country radio religiously, so we are fans of everyone on the bill. Once we finish playing, we’ll be glad that we got free tickets to watch the show! Really looking forward to it.
NIPPERTOWN: Do you have history with any of these artists?
SHAY MOONEY: Definitely a fan of all of them. Jake has always been really cool to us. Always makes a point to make us feel welcome.
NIPPERTOWN: You went viral on social media – 6 million YouTube views, 60,000 Twitter followers and 59,000 Facebook fans. What do you think caused such an outflow? Are you concerned that it may be ephemeral?
DAN: The fact that we have developed a growing social media presence is based solely on our personal interaction with fans. The reason we are able to do what we do is because of the support of our fans, and recognizing that is something we take seriously. Social media has minimized the gap between the fan and the artist, and it gives us a great opportunity and channel to communicate with our fans. Having a direct line of feedback will allow us to evolve with our fans in the future of our career.
NIPPERTOWN: “19 You & Me” received two million hits on YouTube. Who is the girl in that video?
SHAY: Her name was Olivia. We met her that day on the shoot. She is very talented and did a great job. One of the nicest people you will ever meet, too.
NIPPERTOWN: Are you finding women now who are anxious to be the inspiration for your next hit?
DAN: Hah, we’re working on it! Funny you should ask, since we just wrote a song with our friends Rhett Akins and Ben Hayslip called “Girl They’ve Been Singin’ About.”
NIPPERTOWN: It’s rather unusual today for a new country act to write all their own songs, especially on a major label. Did you have to do any convincing to make that happen?
SHAY: The reason the label was so interested in the first place was because we did write our own stuff. We knew what direction we wanted to go, and we went with the label that got 100% behind what we wanted to do. It’s rare you’re able to do that, but we got very lucky with an amazing team.
NIPPERTOWN: Your promotion refers to you as “Everly-tight.” Do you embrace that comparison?
DAN: Haven’t heard that reference before, but we’ll take it as a compliment! They are legendary artists, so to be mentioned in that company is an honor.
NIPPERTOWN: Shay, you’re quoted in your bio as saying, “We don’t worry about what we say.” Explain.
SHAY: When Dan and I get into a writing room, all we’re thinking about is leaving with the best song possible. In order to write a good song, you can’t be scared to say what’s on your mind. It might sound dumb in your head, but the other person might be able to take that and turn it into the missing piece. Dan and I do just that. We say any and all things that are on our minds.
WHAT: WGNA’s CountryFest
WHO: Jake Owen, Montgomery Gentry, John Michael Montgomery, Scotty McCreery, Dan + Shay, Cryin’ Out Loud
WHERE: Schaghticoke Fairgrounds
WHEN: Saturday (July 12), 11am
HOW MUCH: $45 general admission