“on this hill” – the latest from t-pain – is a thought-provoking, emotional ride

“on this hill” – the latest from t-pain – is a thought-provoking, emotional ride

It is basically a prerequisite that you must love T-Pain if you work with imperfect Fifth. Whether you enjoy his vocal stylings – autotuned or his incredible natural vocal range -, his entrepreneurial brain, or his giggle, there is something about him that is so delightful. Just consider it: have you ever met someone who had beef with T-Pain?

If you’re looking for a wholesome, emotional departure (about an emotional departure) from T-Pain’s quintessential party anthem vibe, “On This Hill” is it. But, more than intensely different from prior singles, this one really envelops the listener in its captivating melody. Thought-provoking lyrics evoke bold thoughts, exploring boundaries, and a sense of acceptance in pain.

“On This Hill” truly captures what it is like to have competing values or opinions – interests that clash and red flags that no one can ignore. While there is a sense of loss and heartache in the song, there is also hope for new beginnings that you can actually feel through his empowering option to hold to his own values.

His drive to hold true to who he is and the song’s dedication to self-love brings “On This Hill” to us during Mental Health Awareness Month. In honor of this, T-Pain has teamed up with Talkspace to provide free therapy to his fans for up to a year.

The video is tastefully and purposefully intimate. A soulful live performance in a cozy setting with vocal accompaniment that feels as though its acoustic resonance could move mountains. Take a peek below, and be sure to see your favorite performer on tour this summer. (T-Pain will be EVERYWHERE!)

May 29 – Houston, TX – 713 Music Hall *
May 30 –Dallas, TX  – South Side Ballroom *
June 4 – Waukee, IA – Vibrant Music Hall * SOLD OUT
June 6 – Windsor, ON – Caesars Windsor  The Colosseum *
June 8 – Milwaukee, WI – WISCANSIN FEST @ The Rave/Eagles Club ^ SOLD OUT
June 11 – Columbus, OH – Kemba Live! * SOLD OUT
June 12 – Pittsburg, PA – Stage AE * SOLD OUT
June 13 – Doswell, VA – Meadow Event Park *
June 19 – Los Angeles, CA – Juneteenth Celebration @ The Hollywood Bowl
June 21 – Asbury Park, NJ – Stone Pony SummerStage * SOLD OUT
June 23 – New York, NY – Central Park SummerStage *
June 25 – Baltimore, MD – Pier Six Pavilion *
June 26 – Charlotte, NC – Skyla Credit Union Amphitheatre *
June 27 – North Charleston, SC – Firefly Distillery Lawn *
June 29 – Atlanta, GA – Lakewood Amphitheatre *
June 30 – Birmingham, AL – Avondale Brewing Company * SOLD OUT
July 2 – Jacksonville, FL – St. Augustine Amphitheatre * SOLD OUT
July 3 – Miami, FL – The Fillmore Miami Beach *

* with LARussell, NandoSTL & Young Ca$h
^ with Akon, Dillon Francis, Pink Sweat$, Soulja Boy, LARussell, Ying Yang Twins, Yelawolf, Waka Flocka Flame, Flyana Boss, Myaap, Young Ca$hChayo Nash, NandoSTL & Djay Mando

May 25 – Napa, CA – BottleRock Napa Valley
May 26 – Las Vegas, NV – Ayu Dayclub (residency date)
June 1 – Kansas City, MO – Tacos and Tequila Fest
June 14 – Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival
July 11 – Las Vegas, NV – Zouk Nightclub (residency date)
September 1 – Las Vegas, NV – Ayu Dayclub (residency date)

Wed Aug 21 – Bristow, VA – Jiffy Lube Live
Fri Aug 23 – Virginia Beach, VA – Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater
Sat Aug 24 – Hershey, PA – Hersheypark Stadium
Sun Aug 25 – Queens, NY – Forest Hills Stadium
Thu Aug 29 – Cuyahoga Falls, OH – Blossom Music Center
Fri Aug 30 – Tinley Park, IL – Credit Union 1 Amphitheatre
Sat Aug 31 – Milwaukee, WI – American Family Insurance Amphitheater
Sun Sep 01 – Noblesville, IN – Ruoff Music Center
Wed Sep 04 – Clarkston, MI – Pine Knob Music Theatre
Fri Sep 06 – Buffalo, NY – Darien Lake Amphitheater
Sat Sep 07 – Syracuse, NY – Empower FCU Amphitheater at Lakeview
Sun Sep 08 – Saratoga Springs, NY – Broadview Stage at SPAC
Thu Sep 12 – Wantagh, NY – Northwell Health At Jones Beach Theater
Fri Sep 13 – Hartford, CT – Xfinity Theatre
Sat Sep 14 – Bangor, ME – Maine Savings Amphitheater
Sun Sep 15 – Mansfield, MA – Xfinity Center
Wed Sep 18 – Burgettstown, PA – The Pavilion at Star Lake
Thu Sep 19 – Cincinnati, OH – Riverbend Music Center
Sat Sep 21 – Ridgedale, MO – Thunder Ridge Nature Arena
Sun Sep 22 – St. Louis, MO – Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
Wed Sep 25 – Salt Lake City, UT – Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre
Fri Sep 27 – Ridgefield, WA – RV Inn Style Resorts Amphitheater*
Sat Sep 28 – Auburn, WA – White River Amphitheatre
Thu Oct 03 – Chula Vista, CA – North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre*
Fri Oct 04 – Phoenix, AZ – Talking Stick Resort Amphitheatre
Sat Oct 05 – Albuquerque, NM – Isleta Amphitheater

* with Special Guest Lil Jon

maddie zahm’s irving plaza show was an intricate, inspired, emotional event

maddie zahm’s irving plaza show was an intricate, inspired, emotional event

Fans had no problem waiting in the heavy, pouring rain for Maddie Zahm. Before doors even opened, the lengthy line to Irving Plaza wrapped around the venue, stretching for blocks upward. This isn’t completely odd for certain shows at Irving Plaza, but I only had one question: who was Maddie Zahm?

I hadn’t heard of Zahm before, and was quite curious. It was clear she had cultivated a very large fanbase. To figure this out, I began questioning them. I wanted to know everything about her, and was quickly given the story:

Zahm’s fanbase developed from an EP, You Might Not Like Her. With singles such as “Fat Funny Friend,” “If It’s Not God,” and the title track, “You Might Not Like Her,” Zahm went viral. She went viral on Reddit, she went viral on TikTok, she went viral pretty much everywhere. And it’s easy to see why. Zahm writes confessional lyrics about some of her most painful experiences, creating mini-memoirs. She also shares these stories on TikTok, providing a safe place where fans can experience not just her music, but who she is as a person. 

Chronicling her youth and young adulthood growing up in the church in Boise, Idaho, Zahm discusses religious trauma and how it can play out in the mental, emotional, and physical self. She also notes her bisexuality, and how the church made her feel alien unto herself as she sought to understand who she really was, entering the stage of unlearning. (In fact, in the video for You Might Not Like Her, Zahm and her parents act in a scene depicting her coming out story. The scene ends with a group hug.) Zahm has also struggled with weight gain due to her diagnosis of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and describes how she was treated by her peers, with multiple scenes in the You Might Not Like Her video. 

It’s Zahm’s candor, authenticity, and unwavering kindness that have most endeared her to her fans. Now touring for her new LP, the appropriately titled Now That I’ve Been Honest, the response to Zahm has exploded. For the EP, she played at smaller New York City venues such as the Mercury Lounge. For her LP, Zahm graduated to Irving Plaza.

I began asking fans if this was their first Zahm show, the answer usually being a resounding “no.” There were, however, newer fans Zahm gained with the success of her LP, most of whom were eagerly waiting for this show since it was announced. The majority of fans revealed that they had experienced one or more of the issues Zahm addresses, offering them solace and representation. It wasn’t just the music they loved, it was Zahm herself.Her shows are safe spaces, they told me, where everyone is welcome and included. Fans also detailed how they met at Zahm concerts, from making new acquaintances to forging close friendships. 

I asked for more specifics on Zahm’s live show, which was summed up for me by one fan: “You just have to see her. It’s hard to explain. But when you see her perform, you’ll just get it.” And this fan was right, far more right than I even knew. 

When Zahm walked out onstage, she was beaming from ear to ear. In fact, the first photo I snapped was of her infectious smile. Her fans cheered and gazed at her longingly, reverently. She opted for her first song to be a slower one, the achingly beautiful “Blind Spot.” Maddie sang so close to the edge of the stage that I thought she might fall off, but I quickly understood why: Zahm wants to be as close to her fans as possible.

In between lyrics, Zahm went around to the first row, saying a quiet hi, sometimes with a wave, to each fan up front. In addition, Zahm often holds the mic to the crowd, inviting them to sing with her. It’s this collective chorus and communal space that causes fans to refer to Zahm shows as “church.”

Zahm is witty and sharp, often cracking jokes between songs. Prefacing the second track on her LP, “Eightball Girl,” she noted that her mother, upon hearing the song, asked her if she was doing cocaine. (For the record, it’s about a magic eightball.) Loud laughter echoed throughout the venue, bouncing off the walls. The balance between pain and its collective intimacy, laughter and joy, is what a Zahm show brings. It’s clear her star will keep rising—and we’ll follow with it. 

The second leg of Zahm’s tour is happening now! Dates are below:
May 20 Wooly’s – Des Moines, IA 
May 21 The Waiting Room – Omaha, NE
May 23 Center for the Arts – Jackson, WY 
May 24 Knitting Factory – Boise, ID

Zahm on the Kelly Clarkson show can be seen here.

danielia cotton’s spin on “kiss an angel good mornin'” is fresh for summertime

danielia cotton’s spin on “kiss an angel good mornin'” is fresh for summertime

Genre-bending Americana artist Danielia Cotton is squaring up to release a tribute EP titled Charley’s Pride: Songs from a Black Cowboy Vol. I. In anticipation of that, she is sharing songs from the release in the lead-up. The first single came on Charley Pride’s birthday in March, and yesterday, the second hint of work was released with “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'”.

Cotton’s spin on the song brings a bit of brightness to the classic, with her signature soulful crooning taking center stage.

Explains Cotton: “The lyric, ‘Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’, and love ‘em like the devil when you get back home,’ speaks to the dichotomy of a woman with respect to the parts of herself she displays within her relationship to keep things fresh and new. The playfulness of the track musically and vocally reflects this, while the hook is infectious as a summer hit you play to let your hair down.”

What a wild time to be exploring this dichotomy, and a beautiful time of year to release such an amazing cover.

The song in its original form is being recognized this month as it is inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame at Grammy Museum’s inaugural Grammy Hall of Fame Gala and concert on May 21, 2024.

guitar center hosts rockwalk honoring gary clark jr.

guitar center hosts rockwalk honoring gary clark jr.

On May 1st, well-known Los Angeles Broadcast Music Journalist Nic Harcourt made a very special induction into the Guitar Center RockWalk. The Guitar Center in Hollywood hosted the special private event honoring four-time Grammy®  Award Winner Gary Clark Jr. After the ceremony, he performed for the first time since his genre-bending full-length JPEG RAW dropped.

RockWalk is held to honor musicians who have fostered impactful growth in rock, blues, and R&B music. The induction included a handprint ceremony amidst other legendary prints and proof of artists like Queen, Carlos Santana, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and others. This was the first time in 6 years that the RockWalk ceremony happened, with the last inductee being 2018’s Sheila E. As big fans of Gary Clark Jr. – whose work has similar energy to legendary musicians like Dean Martin, The Temptations, and otherwise – we were ecstatic to find out about the revival of this event.

“We are thrilled to welcome Gary Clark Jr. into the esteemed ranks of Guitar Center’s RockWalk inductees,” enthused Guitar Center CEO Gabe Dalporto. “His extraordinary talent and contributions to music make him a perfect fit for this honor. Gary’s induction is a testament to his incredible impact on the world of music, and we were pleased to celebrate his achievements at this year’s ceremony. His handprints are a prestigious addition to Guitar Center’s RockWalk, alongside the legends who have shaped the industry.”

I am honored to be the latest inductee into Guitar Center’s RockWalk. This recognition holds immense significance for me, as it not only reflects my unwavering dedication and love for music but also acknowledges the respect and admiration of my peers and fellow musicians, who I also equally love and admire.

ajr leaves jaws on the floor after energetic takeover of t-mobile center

ajr leaves jaws on the floor after energetic takeover of t-mobile center

It hasn’t been historically easy for me to figure out what to do for my birthday. Usually, I use the fact that I am an identical twin to find ways to celebrate. Plus, both my brother and brother-in-law have birthdays during the same week as us. April is a crazy time in our household!

But when I heard AJR was planning to be in my hometown on my birthday this year, it was a no-brainer that I would be there. Not because I’m a superfan. (Admittedly, I’m not.) Not because I know their catalog extensively. (Oops, I am a very casual listener.) Actually, it was because the band’s energy felt like the right one for my birthday. Well-paced songs, often dark honesty blended with pop hooks, quirky entertainment value. I had caught a glimpse of their live set at Bonnaroo in 2019, and had wanted to see their full creative capabilities. So, my mom and I got tickets together. (Because she has wildly good taste in music and is a phenomenal show buddy.)

AJR is another three-brother band comprised of Adam, Jack, and Ryan Metz. They are more than just your average “We tried choreographed dancing and it’s still stiff,” “We dress alike for our image,” or “We play instruments but we don’t use the space to entertain” groups. They have approached their work very differently than many others, to maintain their individuality and spark as a group the whole time. As their music catches fire with even more people, they acknowledge and appreciate their successes as it happens.

Dean Lewis opened the show for them, bringing his brand of Australian power ballad to the people of Kansas City. While he may have unbuttoned a few too many buttons on his shirt, his rendition of Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris” was really well done, and his vulnerability on stage allowed him to connect with the early crowd.

As is the case when you head to a comedy show, be prepared for AJR to exist outside of the box a little bit. Crowd interaction, scripted stage moments, and behind-the-scenes glimpses into their creative process… So many more examples of dynamic storytelling aside from the incredible musicianship are in store for you. The show’s eco-impact – supported by Adam Met’s efforts as a climate activist – is notable alone, as they sell sustainably packaged water and donate a percentage of each ticket sold to Planet Reimagined. Their VIP experiences are almost as dynamic as the show itself. During an AJR show, they drive cars, dine in restaurants, skydive, do shadow puppets, and perform from unexpected heights. And that’s just some of it.

There is a performed breakdown of the song “Way Less Sad” during their set. This was one of the most fascinating elements of their show. It allowed AJR to play with prepared prose and do a little set work. Seeing this – and hearing them talk about having a theatrical musical style – was a super relatable moment as a child of the 90s raised on musicals and art. It seems these brothers had nurturing upbringings embracing the arts and they work really well together. I see myself in that, and want to lead a more collaborative existence like that.

If you are heading out to see The Maybe Man Tour and don’t have context, there is a sad piece to their set. They talk about the inspiring advice their dad gave them before he passed last year. It is fresh in their minds, their lyrics, and their hearts as they approach the topic. I warn you because waterworks are almost unavoidable. Even surrounded by confetti and giddy, happy hearts of almost every age. (It was kind of like a daycare in there at times.)

Check out the remaining AJR tour dates here.