Unite for the Brave
A multi-faceted entertainer, Craig Morgan has made a name for himself as a country music icon, TV host, celebrated outdoorsman and patriotic Army veteran. One of country music's best-loved artists, Morgan thrills massive crowds with signature hits, including his six week #1, “That's What I Love About Sunday.”
In addition to a prolific country music career, he hosts the award-winning TV show “Craig Morgan: All Access Outdoors,” now in its eighth season on Outdoor Channel. Prior to becoming a country music star and TV sensation, Morgan spent seventeen years serving our country in the Army and Army Reserves. He is an avid supporter of America's military personnel and a recipient of the 2006 USO Merit Award.
Lee Brice is a multi-platinum recording and headlining artist whose new song, "Boy," received more than 7.5 million downloads and streams after only a few weeks out. An entrepreneur, father of three and devoted husband, Lee supports our veterans through Folds of Honor and most recently, Unite For The Brave.
Authenticity isn’t something that can be manufactured in a studio. It’s not a craft that can be learned or artfully practiced. It comes from living life. It’s the byproduct of blood, sweat and tears and as the foundation for music, it elevates mere entertainment to compelling art. Every note, every word on the Randy Rogers Band’s new album "Nothing Shines Like Neon" rings with authenticity that makes each song linger with the listener long after the music fades.
“You’ve just got to be true to yourself and you can’t fool anybody,” Rogers states matter of factly of the band’s philosophy. “As a whole, our body of work is pretty consistent to our live show and the band that plays on the record is the band that you go see.”
The same line up has been performing together since 2002 and the music has evolved as they’ve soaked up life experience. “As men we’ve all matured and lived a lot of life together,” Rogers says. “We’ve had a few breakups happen to us. We’ve had babies. We’ve had life changes. We’ve been on the road 200 shows a year. I’ve been in this band 15 years so a lot has changed. I still listen to Merle Haggard every night. I mean that hasn’t changed, but a lot has changed for us musically and privately. We all are in a good spot and we all are just as good friends as when we started.”
Camaraderie and creativity have made Rogers and bandmates Geoffrey Hill (guitar), Johnny “Chops” Richardson (bass guitar), Brady Black (fiddle), Les Lawless (drums) and Todd Stewart (utility player) one of the top bands on the competitive Texas music scene. "Nothing Shines Like Neon" continues the momentum established by the band’s four previous albums—"Randy Rogers Band", "Burning the Day", "Trouble and Homemade Tamales", each of which went to No. 1 on iTunes. Earlier in 2015, Rogers joined friend Wade Bowen to record the critically acclaimed album "Hold My Beer Vol. 1".
Produced by Nashville legend Buddy Cannon (Willie/Merle) at Cedar Creek in Austin, RRB’s news album "Nothing Shines Like Neon" showcases the band’s taut musicianship as well as Rogers’ earnest vocals and insightful songwriting on such instant classics as the groove laden “Rain and the Radio,” the heartbreak anthem “Neon Blues” and the playful “Actin’ Crazy,” a duet with Jamey Johnson. “Jamey and I wrote that song together,” Rogers notes. “I met a movie star a few days before Jamey and I were going to write. I was in LA playing at the House of Blues and he came out to the show. I was thinking about him …and thinking about being a struggling actor living in LA and having to put up with all the bullshit that LA is. I just wrote that song about him.”
The album opens with the fiddle driven shuffle “San Antone”. “That is a Keith Gattis song. He wrote by himself. Being from Texas and living so close to San Antonio, I don’t think that song is going to hurt me at all,” Rogers laughs. “It’s one of those songs when I heard it I was like, ‘Oh hell! Why didn’t I write this song?’”
“Takin’ It As It Comes” features Lone Star legend Jerry Jeff Walker. “I’ve been a big fan of Jerry Jeff’s all my life,” Rogers says. “He came in the studio with us, got in there with the band, jumped around and played guitar and sang. We had a great time.”
“Rain and the Radio” is Rogers’ homage to Ronnie Milsap. “I wrote that with Sean McConnell. He and I have written a lot of songs through the years. I’ve always been a huge Ronnie Milsap fan and to me that song has a little Milsap feel to it, kind of a bluesy country thing, which we haven’t done before. Any artist that I look up to always tries to create something different and pushes the envelope a little bit. I think we do with that song in particular. It’s very country. It’s just very different. As a band, we’re trying to broaden our horizons and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. If we were all just stuck doing the same old thing, we would all be bored. We probably wouldn’t still be here. It’s just a matter of spreading your wings a little bit.”
“Look Out Yonder” is a poignant tune Rogers recorded in honor of his mentor, the late Kent Finlay. “Kent gave me my start in the music business. Up until the day that he died, we talked about songs and about music,” Rogers says. “We actually named the record, 'Nothing Shines Like Neon' after a lyric in one of his songs as a tribute to him. Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski are singing on ‘Look Out Yonder’, which was written by Earl Bud Lee, who is most famous for writing ‘Friends In Low Places’. He and I have been friends for 10 years and he has always wanted me to cut that song. I’ve never had a record where it fit and just thinking about losing Kent and Kent going to heaven and joining his mom, ‘Look out yonder coming down the road’ it just fit. I haven’t performed that song yet live, but I know I’m going to have a hard time getting through it. The day we started our record, I got a call that Kent passed away so this record is definitely dedicated to Kent. That song makes me think about all of us musicians and how we are crazy as hell and lead the most unorthodox lives. Most of us return back to our roots, so hopefully this is an album that glorifies Kent’s life and is also a nod to the traditional sounds that we all grew up loving.”
A native of Cleburne, Texas, Rogers grew up addicted to traditional country music. “I wanted to be George Strait when I was in the sixth grade,” he says with a smile. “And I grew up listening to Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, I’ve listened to them more than anybody else, my whole life. I always liked songs. I always wanted to find out who wrote the songs and what the songs were about. I always liked the art and the craft of being a songwriter. My dad’s Beatles records got played a lot and Michael Martin Murphy is another one I listened to a lot as a kid. My dad was a huge fan.”
Like many artists, Rogers got his start performing in church and then expanded to local venues. “I could write a song when I was pretty little, 11, 12 or 13,” he says. “It’s like a kid who could do calculus or something. It was just something that clicked in my brain for me. I went and finished college and got a degree in public relations and then started a band.”
Since then the Randy Rogers Band has steadily built a following that has spilled beyond their native Texas. For the past 10 years they’ve recorded for Universal Music Group, but on "Nothing Shines Like Neon", Rogers again takes the reins, releasing the album on his own Tommy Jackson Records, named after a song he wrote for their very first album. “It’s a very obscure Randy Rogers Band song and to this day there is always this one drunk kid at a show that says, ‘Play “Tommy Jackson!” Play “Tommy Jackson!”’ It’s kind of a running joke within our band. It’s like, ‘How in the hell did this kid in Iowa City, Iowa remember that stupid song “Tommy Jackson?”’ It’s about a guy who is on the run from the cops, wanted for murder. It’s a story song and we just felt like it was a unique way to name a record label.”
"Nothing Shines Like Neon" is a stellar collection in an already impressive body of recorded material that owes a lot to the band’s potent live show. “You come to a show, you know what you’re going to get,” Rogers says. “We’ve worked hard at making ourselves better on stage and we care about our live show. It’s a way to come out and unwind, and we’ve stuck to writing songs that are about real life, about breakups or divorces, falling in love or babies being born, and in the case of this record even death, the ups and downs of life. People can relate. That’s what country music is supposed to be. Our band has been around for a long time because there’s no bullshit to us. We’re not in it to be rich and famous. We’re in it to make a living, provide for our families and do something that we all love. You can’t fool people and we haven’t ever tried. I think that’s the key.”
"A Thank You is never enough for the sacrifice our Veterans and their families make. It takes a special kind of person to enlist and I have the most respect for them. We are blessed to have men and women who fight for us everyday and the more of them I can meet, shake their hand and tell them THANK YOU, the better!"
Kristy Lee Cook first gained fame as a Top 10 finalist on Season 7 of FOX’s American Idol. With an intense love for Country music, horses and the outdoors, Cook’s energetic, girl-next-door approach to both her songwriting and music epitomizes the Country lifestyle. Lee is an avid barrel racer who actively competes at events nationwide. As well as modeling and acting she is also an accomplished television host. Prior to hosting The Most Wanted List, Kristy spent three years as the host of the TV show Goin’ Country w/ Kristy Lee Cook which aired on Versus for 3 years.
Comprised of songwriter/musician, Kristy Osmunson, and songwriter/producer, Jon Stone, who are complete opposites when it comes to personality, but come together to create hauntingly beautiful music stemmed solely from their own personal experiences. Both are established songwriters in their own right and wrote 11 out of the 12 tracks on their recently released debut album, AY. Kristy Osmunson, born and raised in Idaho, grew up playing the violin. She went from playing at honky-tonks to writing the Joey + Rory hit “Cheater, Cheater,” well on her way as a songwriter and solo artist before crossing paths with Stone. Jon Stone, originally from Oregon, is country born and bred, for a while even working as a bull rider, before he was a solo act turned successful producer/songwriter including Lee Brice's "A Woman Like You," Kenny Chesney’s “Seven Days,” Blake Shelton’s “Kiss My Country Ass,” and Rascal Flatts’ “Me and My Gang.”
Tyson Durfey grew up in Savannah, Missouri, training horses and ranching with his dad and brothers. "My Dad, Roy, roped in the PRCA, and then when he quit, he started ranching and riding calf roping horses. My whole family, including my older brothers Travis and Wes, roped calves." At nine years old, Tyson competed in his first rodeo, and when he turned 18, he was on the rodeo circuit by himself. "Dad had trained a couple NFR horses so I had always been around those guys; it was always my dream to make it to the WNFR."
This phenomenal rodeo athlete brings fire to the arena like no other. Tyson's PRCA career began in 2003 and through the years, he has evolved into one of the top professional Tie-Down Ropers with over 1 million dollars in career earnings. Tyson is the 2016 World Champion Tie Down Roper, 2015 Houston Rodeo Winner, three time Canadian World Champion (the first ever non-Canadian resident to achieve this feat), winner of "The American" Rodeo in 2014, and nine trips to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Tyson's talent speaks louder than words. His time in the spotlight has helped Tyson has become a house hold name among rodeo fans.
Tyson's inspiration doesn't stop in the arena. His generous heart offers support to many charitable foundations, including those focused on Breast Cancer research. In the past years, Tyson has offered a percentage of the prize money he won during the NFR to these organizations. This cowboy also has a strong business mind, with extensive experience in public speaking and business relations.
There is a sweet, southern charm about Heith DeMoss, but they don’t call him Danger for nothing.
He may be an 8x Wrangler National Finals Saddle Bronc Qualifier, 3x Reno Rodeo Champion, 2015 RNCFR Champion, 2014 RodeoHouston Champion, but most importantly he's a husband and a father who calls Heflin, Louisiana home.
He never opts for the safe way to ride, always gives 110% percent and loves the horses who bring the same to the eight second contest. The dream and love for bronc riding has forever earned his living and fed his sweet, young family.
Heith DeMoss lives in the grace that comes with knowing that every day is a gift and every moment an opportunity to share that gift.
There’s nothing in this world that compares to witnessing an artist completely absorbed in his God given talent. It’s like seeing hope, dreams and answered prayer come to life before your very eyes. Heith DeMoss has a way of inspiring us to be braver, work harder and live life on purpose.
Heroes come in all shapes, colors and sizes. Heith DeMoss may be a hero in bronc riding nation, but to him that is no comparison to a true hero, the American Veteran. Heith is proud to be an ambassador of Unite for the Brave.
Follow Heith on instagram, Facebook, and twitter @heithdemoss.