Eric Burgett Plants His Dreams in the Corn Field to Harvest in Music City


By Lauren Schwab

Every press of a key on his piano can take your mind to the Illinois corn field Eric Burgett first planted his Music City dreams in. If you are a farm kid like Eric, you may share his love for working with family, bonfires and cold beer on Saturday night then singing Hallelujah on Sunday morning. Eric’s music will give your small town saturday night boot stompin’ good time a classical melody of it’s own. I interviewed Eric on how growing up on a farm influenced his music career and how he sets himself apart with his masterful piano playing.


Q. Take me back to the beginning of your career, tell me how you found your love and talent for music and decided to make it a career aspiration?

A. “I grew up in a small town in Latham, Illinois. It was a town of about 400 people and I grew up on a corn and soybean farm. We had some livestock for showing in 4-H. I have two brothers and the three of us found our love for country music. We were always on the tractors and in trucks, our friends loved country music and we had bonfires every weekend.”

“I played piano at my church and at my parents’ bar called the Korn Krib. The Korn Krib started out as a shed and it burned down. We rebuilt it out of two grain bins and had a grand reopening in 1998. There was an upright piano at this bar and I remember hopping up on the bench during the dinner hours and playing for tips.”

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21765730_10155762870224138_8314178273022447430_o“In college I got involved in classical piano, I had been taking formal lessons on reading music and playing by ear. I started my own country band and played at local bars. It was always me and a piano at the front of the stage with my band behind me.”

Q. How did you make the decision to move to Nashville?

A. “I went to college near my hometown so I could make trips back to help during harvest. I then auditioned to a school in Nashville, Belmont University, for my master’s degree in piano. It was always part of the plan to take my music to a higher level and support myself financially in piano playing.”


“The best part was I’m in Nashville, Music City, being able to connect with all these country artists doing what I was doing. They were up and coming artists going back to their hometowns to play shows. I was able to support myself through grad school playing piano on the side. It’s been great to still be here doing what I love.”

Q. Was is difficult to leave your family farm to pursue your music career in Nashville?

A. “When you write a song with someone you really get to know a person in that 4 to even 8 hour writing session. You talk about your life and a big part of that conversation in any writing scenario is usually that I came from a farm and then leaving the farm to pursue your dreams, but going back to the farm to help during harvest. It was tough to leave the farm and go to the big city, but Nashville has that small town feel. I love going back once a month to see people and play at my parents’ bar.”

Q. How would you describe your musical influence and style?


Photo Credit: Caitlin Miles

A. “Growing up there was always Billy Joel and The Beach Boys. I played Piano Man by Billy Joel many times. My brother got me started playing piano; I would listen to a Beach Boys tune and loved their harmony and melodies. Phil Vasser is a big influence of mine; he’s been the piano man of country music. I love his lyric ability and what he does at the piano. I look forward to keeping that tradition alive myself.”

Q. What was the inspiration for your latest project? What does it mean to you?

A. “I released my current single called Town You Never Heard Of. It’s an ode to myself growing up in a small town in the Midwest. I enjoy seeing my hometown crowd appreciate the tune. My hometown fans mean everything to me and being able to share this tune with the world has been amazing. The piano is a central focus of my music, but my lyrics about growing up in a small town on a farm is going to stay in my music.”

Q. What do you enjoy or look forward to most about writing, recording or performing music? Tell me more about the process.

 Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 3.55.37 PMA. “Everyday you start with a blank document; it’s like when a painter starts with a blank canvas. On that canvas you paint a picture of whatever you’re feeling that day. I enjoy sharing my stories of growing up in a small town and on the farm with other writers, both emotional and funny. It’s cool to see the story of however I’m feeling come to life on a blank piece of paper. Nothing gives greater satisfaction than seeing your song come to life in the studio, especially with some of the greatest musicians in Nashville.”



Q. What is a memorable experience for you in your music career and how has it impacted you?

A. “The event that’s impacted me the most is signing on with my management company. I have a great team behind me. My producer understands and sees the direction of my music in regards to where I came from. They’ve been a blessing to me in moving forward with my current single and finding opportunities to perform in venues that cater to my style of music.”

Q. What advice would you give to someone who may have a dream in music, but is struggling with taking the steps to make it a reality?

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A. “Whatever fires you up, like for me I hear the firing up of a tractor back home in a cornfield, take that and run with it. The best way to do that is to show up and be apparent in the community you see yourself in. Upon moving to Nashville in 2012, I would go out and network to make sure I was meeting people and connecting with them in whatever way I could.”

“Eric Burgett, one of the most unique talents you will find in Music City. His writing and performing definitely fit in with what is out there on the radio, but with his piano base, he definitely sets himself apart.” – Billboard Magazine1523147_10152938114559138_2453400673103869174_o

Q. Can you tell me some of your exciting plans for 2018? What long-term goals do you have for your career?

A. “At the beginning of January, we played a fair showcase in Indianapolis in hopes of landing more county fair and festival shows. We recently played one in Illinois as well. We will be hearing back from a lot of those towns to get more exposure in the summer. I’m most excited about putting out new music. We are hoping towards the summer to work on a EP to release five or six new tunes.”

23845593_10155934737344138_2834279878711276915_o“My fiancé and I are getting married in June and she plays a big part in my career in supporting me. She’s seen the ride of my music ever since ten years ago when we met. She’s from Chicago and we met in our college town of central Illinois. We went our separate ways after college and reconnected years later.”

If you make a trip to Nashville, you might catch Eric playing for the Nashville Ballet, church on Sundays, on an episode of “Nashville,” or even teaching piano at Belmont University as one of the youngest professors in the school of music. However Eric will always have the farm fields of the Midwest in his heart and music. “There’s nothing like having a hometown fan base and having that front porch light to go back home to,” says Eric.


To listen to Eric’s music and follow him on social media visit:

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Photo Credit:

Ciera Flory is Fearless on the Big Stage


By Lauren Schwab

Her guitar maybe her comfort, but Ciera Flory is fearless on the big stage. Since she was a young girl, Ciera told her mom she wanted to be a singer. Ciera is proof if you give a girl the right guitar and a love story to sing about, she can conquer the music world with her confidence to touch the lives of girls everywhere. I sat down with Ciera and her mom before the show to learn of her start in music, influences and big dreams ahead.


Ciera and her mom, Josephine perform at Southern Comfort Bar & Grill in New Paris, Ohio

Q. Take me back to the beginning of your career, tell me how you found your love and talent for music and decided to make it a career aspiration?

A. “It’s been the one thing I’ve wanted to do. I always said I wanted to be a singer. I learned guitar when I was 13 and started writing when I was 15. I really started pushing (to make it a career) when I turned 18 and graduated from high school.”


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“My mom always supported me. As a kid I looked up auditions and she would take me,” said Ciera.

Now by her side on stage, is Ciera’s biggest fan. “She played by herself, I didn’t have any musical background. Then I thought maybe I can learn the bass and help her,” said Josephine, Ciera’s mom.



Q. Who’s your biggest musical influence? (past & present)

21715_375535429299629_3309868136567018459_n.jpgA. “Taylor Swift made me really break out (into music) and start writing. I also listened to Miley Cyrus, Hannah Montana and Disney music.”

Q. How did you begin your music career?

A. “I wrote songs for a few years then got a deal with Tate Music Group who produced my album. I started playing out a bunch; anywhere I could get a gig. I started putting music on ReverbNation and created my Facebook page. Social media is really important (to connect with fans).”

Q. What was the inspiration for your latest project? What does it mean to you?


Ciera promotes her debut album, The Best Thing

A. “I’ve always been pop (music), but I liked veering into the country side because Taylor Swift was country. I really love new country; it’s my favorite kind of music. Mainstream pop is really good too and I think pushing myself into mainstream pop would be easy to do.”

Now a new signing with Ophir Entertainment, she is creating pop music. “I’m getting into mainstream pop to see what’s being done to help with my writing and what to come up with next.”

Q. What do you enjoy or look forward to most about writing, recording or performing music? Tell me more about the process.



A. “It varies from each song I write. Sometimes I think of a line in my head then grab my guitar and build a song story around that line. Like in my song Without You, I started with the first lyric, ‘I can’t believe the songs we used to sing never meant anything’ and went from there. This is going to be a better off without you type of song.”


Q. What is a memorable experience for you in your music career and how has it impacted you?


A. “I auditioned for American Idol and waited in line for 12 hours in the rain. They give you ten seconds to sing a song with five other people in the room. I sang Bartender by Lady Antebellum with my guitar. I was told to stay back then she said for me to audition online, that I was good but they couldn’t take me at that point. However, I had auditioned a couple years before that and got nowhere. So I had been working on myself and people noticed.”

Q. What advice would you give to someone who may have a dream in music, but is struggling with having confidence?

A. “The best thing with confidence is just playing as much as you can in front of people. When I first started, I would get up on stage and was shaking like crazy. My voice would shake and cut out. You just have to get through those moments and get stronger.”

10711001_306155869570919_1031910045207298181_n.jpgQ. How do you develop your set list between playing your originals and cover songs people want to hear?

A. “If I like a song, I’m going to play it. I get requests sometimes and my mom says we should do some songs. My mom and I have fun all the time. I love being able to play with my mom.”

Q. Can you tell me some of your exciting plans for 2018? What long-term goals do you have for your career?

A. “Since I got signed with Ophir Entertainment, I’m going to see how they want my career and to help me with the business side.”

On building her own brand, “I try to stay as true to myself as I can and I want to be seen as a nice girl,” says Ciera.

Listen to the sneak peek of her debut album, The Best Thing:

Follow Ciera Flory on Social Media and get the latest on her music:


YouTube: Ciera Flory YouTube

Twitter: @CieraFlory


Photo Credit to:

I am sure Ciera will appreciate this throwback to her inspiration, now Ciera is Fearless on the big stage inspiring girls everywhere!





Josh Gallagher is Following His Dreams, How Bout You?


By Lauren Schwab

From singing his heart out along to Garth Brooks’ albums as a kid, Josh Gallagher did not know he would one day be in rehearsal as a finalist for The Voice TV show with Brooks himself telling Josh he has what IT takes. Josh is a self-taught guitar player with determination to make his dreams happen now. As the Nashville crowd applauded the down to earth man with a contagious energy for life, I hopped up on stage at Puckett’s to interview Josh on his musical journey.

Q. Take me back to the beginning of your career, tell me how you found your love and talent for music and decided to make it a career aspiration?


A. “I started playing guitar when I was ten. My dad got me my first guitar. I taught myself how to play guitar; I never took a lesson. I was always intrigued by music and was in rock bands when I was younger. I started playing back home in Pennsylvania. I thought maybe I could do this as a career, so I gave it a shot!”

Q. How did you make the decision to move to Nashville?

 20728087_1470103669739881_5059339276728980552_nA. “After living in Pittsburg I moved back home and started playing in local bars. Each crowd and venue kept getting bigger. My friends, family and fans would tell me all the time that I need to go to Nashville and chase my dream. I was working a full-time job, playing every weekend and having a lot of fun. I didn’t ignore those comments at first, but brushed them off for a while. Then it hit me that I could really give this a shot. I love doing it (music) and if I could call it a career and have fun then it’s not a job.”

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With the support of his wife, Lindsey, they headed to Music City. “It happened to work out that my wife and I met in Pennsylvania, she wanted to move out of state anyways when she graduated from college,” says Gallagher.



Q. How would you describe your musical style?

15327388_1226564294093821_7810745971014475397_nA. “It’s hard for me on what to call our sound or style of music. It’s definitely influenced by country music, but I grew up playing in rock bands. I love that heavy distortion, big loud cabs and right in your face rock n’ roll. So if we can mix hard heavy rock n’ roll with 90’s to early 2000’s country music sound, that’s what we’re trying to do and find new sounds overtime. The original music we were playing a year ago is different from what we are playing now. We have evolved and are constantly trying to find new sounds and tones to make us different.”


“Josh is definitely somebody that I can hear on the radio right now. He is definitely the guy that fits in what is popular in country music.”— BLAKE SHELTON

19990360_1444693572280891_5167695927276818139_nEncouraged by Blake Shelton’s words, Josh values making his unique sound. “Everybody out there is going to find their own way somehow. We are going to go the hard way and pave our own path, find our own sound and eventually be different from what people are used to hearing on country radio,” says Gallagher.

Q. What was the inspiration for your latest project? What does it mean to you?

12936752_1016649878418598_7190827426935204517_nA. “The new single ‘How Bout You?’ will be released in February. This song was written with two good buddies, Mark Addison Chandler and Will Duvall. We sat down and were throwing around some ideas and Will started playing a little riff on his guitar, which is the opening guitar lick on the song. Once we started writing it, all three of us fell in love with it. That song came out of nowhere and they say the best songs come when you’re not expecting them.”

Q. What do you enjoy or look forward to most about writing, recording or performing music? Tell me more about the process.

A. “It’s cool being a singer and songwriter because you get the chance to go sit in a room with some of your best friends and try to make magic happen. When you make it happen you can then take that magic to the studio with your band, put it on record, cut a vocal on top of it and go make that same magic on stage. You get to perform it to people that may not know how the process goes. I get enjoyment out of the entire process.”


“Josh, you have this effortlessness that makes you seem like you’re not here to make it, it feels like you already have. You seem like there is this place for you on country radio that I feel is just waiting to have you there. It was amazing, great performance, great usage of the stage.”— MILEY CYRUS

12647135_970616393021947_7460627390418955990_nAs he impressed Miley Cyrus on The Voice stage, Josh knows what happens off the stage is all preparation for what happens on it. “I’ve been focusing this past year on looking at things from a songwriter’s standpoint instead of the artist; to go into a write with an open mind.

We have a lot of songs that are very good. I may never cut them, but if somebody else likes them they can cut them. There’s a cool dynamic about being a singer and songwriter, you get to make a living and love what you do. It’s incredible and leaves me speechless a lot of the time, I can’t believe I get to do this for a living,” says Gallagher.


Q. What is a memorable experience for you in your music career and how has it impacted you?

A. “While I was on The Voice, we went into rehearsals the week Garth Brooks was there. An impactful moment for me was when he put his hands on my shoulders and said, ‘You have IT… If I’m a manager, if I’m a producer, if I’m a record label – that’s the guy I want because he has a career in front of him.’ That was impactful for me because my Dad used to listen to Garth Brooks all the time when I was younger. Dad and I used to lay on the floor, just blare Garth Brooks cd’s and sing our hearts out. I’ve always been a fan and looked up to him all my life, so for him to put his hands on my shoulders and say something that meaningful really hit me the most.”


“This kid, as soon as he opens his mouth – you believe him,” said Brooks, as he insisted, “If I’m a manager, if I’m a producer, if I’m a record label – that’s the guy I want because he has the career in front of him.”— GARTH BROOKS

Q. What advice would you give to someone who may have a dream in music, but is struggling with taking the steps to make it a reality?

14956650_1187258738024377_4903075919442861999_nA. “We are all still struggling to get our voices heard that’s for sure. You have to absolutely love it first of all. If it’s a hobby of yours that’s awesome, but if you think you really want to do it for a living, go for it to the fullest extent. When you fall in love with something you do for a living, then it’s not work. You wake up everyday and count your blessings if you get to that point. I’m still counting my blessings everyday, we still have a long way to go, but we are having a good time on the way there. So I would say, if you love it, do it. It’s going to be scary but you got to pull the trigger. Don’t tell yourself you’ll do it next month or even tomorrow, whether it’s moving to Nashville or picking up a guitar or singing.”

“I love the fact that you are such a strong country singer. I see you being able to be a guy who releases huge country smashes. I think the sky’s the limit for you. Tonight a country star was on that stage doing that. That was amazing. I am blown away by you.”— ADAM LEVINE

img_1105.jpgKnowing the sky is the limit, Josh pushes himself to accomplish his goals and encourages others to do the same. “You have to be bold and push yourself outside of your comfort zone to get there. When you make yourself do it and push yourself, you find it’s easy. Be persistent, it’s going to be hard, I still struggle with stuff. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. People are going to tell you the rest of your life, whether you are a musician, a principal, a plumber, a race car driver or whatever, that you aren’t good enough. So don’t let their negativity bring you down, rise above it. Take the high road and then a few years from then you can say ‘I told you!’ says Gallagher.

Q. Can you tell me some of your exciting plans for 2018? What long-term goals do you have for your career?

A. “Our main goal is to get the single out, get it pushed through marketing and social media and out to radio. We want to get it out there the right way so a lot of people can hear it. I would also love to release a full-length album. There isn’t a timeline on it yet, which is great for my first album. I think if you’re going to do it, do it right. Plan it out and ask what’s the direction we want to go, do these songs fit, what songs do we need on top of the ones we have? I think the plan is to release the single first, then an EP and keep fans engaged. I’m really excited about this year. I really want to connect with my fans; it’s an incredible thing when you can get up on stage, whether it be for 20 or 20,000 people and connect with them…I’m a very lucky person.”

You can listen to Josh’s released singles on iTunes, “Pick Any Small Town,” “We Always Had,” and “Ain’t No Angels.” His live performances from “The Voice” reached top spots on iTunes and were downloaded by millions.

Follow Josh on social media to learn about new music and live performances:



Instagram: @joshgallaghermusic



Photo Credit to:

Visit Monroeville, Where the Guys Next Door are Rock Stars and Fans are Family

By Lauren Schwab

176876_188262021212325_5971477_oThere is a place where moonshine, mountains and music all come together in Tennessee. When you walk to the melodies on the Island in Pigeon Forge or follow the sound of the banjo through The Holler in Gatlinburg, you will likely find yourself rocking in a chair or dancing with strangers to the sounds of Monroeville.

Their style is like no other, captivating visitors from across the country including myself. I first heard Monroeville in June 2016. I asked for an interview without hesitation, knowing this group was unique. Read it here: Monroeville Inspires the Next Generation to Make Music of Their Own


I listened to their music on the drive home. I am captivated by their melody, stories of love and positive words. For me, music has always been a way of expressing myself. I could tell the lyrics and instrumental chords were carefully paired. I am not the only one, as Monroeville has built a large following of fans on social media who plan their trips to Tennessee around when the band will be playing.

I planned my trip in excitement to hear the band play and get a chance to catch up with them after their album Worlds Apart has been released for the past year. The boys did not disappoint, inviting me to dinner to hear their story and share their goals. I quickly learned how Monroeville fans are their family and each song is a like a page in the family album.


Q. “Rocky Top” is a highly requested song for those visiting the Tennessee Mountains. How do you create a set list and decide what original music to play or songs people want to hear?

A. “There are things I want to accomplish in every set, but you have to work with what your crowd is, here especially. People don’t pay to come see us and most of them didn’t know music was here, they just walked in. You have to cater to what they are feeling like. If you play too much they don’t know you loose their attention. Every crowd is fun in its own way,” said Matt Munsey, producer, lead vocals and mandolin.


While each band member is multi- instrumental with vocal talents, they all comprise what is Monroeville with their specific roles. They are authentic in their music and personalities, each one joining the band in different ways in time.

Slaying in on the banjo is McCoy Borg. “I’ve been with Monroeville almost five years. I met Matt 12 years ago, he was playing here and I was playing with another band at the time. He moved away for a while and when he came back, I lost my spot with the other band and been playing with Matt ever since. He’s been a huge inspiration to my music.”

16997752_1307898835915299_794176505062815967_nMasterful Bassist, Paul Watson, remembers watching Monroeville play from the audience years ago and told himself that was the band he wanted to play for. “Matt wanted me to fill in three years ago. Then as soon as I put the phone down with another guy asking me (to play for a different band) Matt called me and wanted to hire me. It was awesome.”

Rocking Guitarist, Chevy Watson, played on a record that was Grammy nominated by the world’s fastest banjo player, Todd Taylor. “I played for a couple years with him (Todd Taylor) and branched off doing different stuff. Paul (his cousin) and I went to a bluegrass festival and heard Monroeville playing. No one else in bluegrass was playing like that. We had a good time listening and Paul knew he wanted to play with the band. When Paul told me he got hired on, I was helping him move to Newport and we decided to go listen to them. Matt told me the other guitar player was going to quit and asked if I’d be interested in taking a job and I said alright!”

10305046_885776478208456_632459200693499626_nCharacter is important to the Monroeville brand. Matt learned the integrity of Paul when he was searching for a bassist. “I knew about Chevy before Paul. I didn’t realize what Paul did. Chevy had been filling in with us every few months. I needed a bass player first so I called Paul and asked if his cousin Chevy played bass too. Instead of saying he played bass, he said Chevy could play. Paul was honest even though it was the job he wanted. So that told me about his character,” said Matt.

“I was determined to carve out a music of my own, I didn’t want to copy anybody.” – Bill Monroe, Father of Bluegrass


Q. How did you create what is Monroeville’s unique sound, style and brand?

A. “We all grew up playing bluegrass, but we like every kind of music. To me it’s always been about combining elements of different music. That’s how bluegrass got started; Bill Monroe took a little bit of blues, Irish music, rock n’ roll, and soul. He created his own style and called it bluegrass. That’s why we call ourselves Monroeville. Not because we are a bluegrass band, but because of that concept of creating his own sound. My favorite quote by Bill is ‘I was determined to carve out a music of my own, I didn’t want to copy anybody.’ That’s what Monroeville has been about since the beginning, creating something original,” said Matt.

20900713_1483874621651052_4971027525153089947_oQ. What is the inspiration and concept behind the album Worlds Apart?

A. “With this album, these guys had just started in the band. I went through many band changes, so with this album I produced the whole thing. I wanted to challenge myself. I had talent to work with, so it was easy to get these guys to play whatever. We started recording the CD before a couple of these guys were here. We worked on it for two and a half years. I spent that time writing songs and getting a whole flow of an album together. I’m a big believer in following the energy or a vibe. I don’t want to plan things out too much because I like it to be flexible enough to go its own direction. This album did that because we went from going to New York City to record with an orchestra to cutting stuff in a studio in St. Louis, Missouri with our drummer (Evan Pitchers). Then we worked some in Florida while we were there, so it grew over a couple years into the album. I was letting the songs come to me. Some of the songs were spontaneous while we were in the studio recording,” said Matt.

21687203_1512275118811002_3761677503772327809_oQ. Why is the message of the opening track “Push On” important to share right away on the album?

A. “Part of the mission of Monroeville has been to create original music, but the other part is positivity. One of our successful songs before this record was ‘Be Natural’ it was an encouraging song. ‘Push On’ comes from a personal place for me, but I wanted to write it to apply to anybody in what they’re going through. It also spread over the genres as a band. It’s a little bit country, rock and with the orchestra on top of that, it’s a good introduction to our original sound,” said Matt.

Dinner continued with funny story telling, inside jokes and laughter. It is clear the guys are friends and it’s part of their success.


Q. How is the friendship between band members and how do you work together?

A. “We are all friends and they are easy going. We keep each other in check, we are honest with each other and that’s a good thing. When you can’t say what you’re thinking to something that needs to be said, that’s when you get frustrated,” said Matt.

“Yeah, been meaning to talk to you about that Matt (laughter),” said Chevy.

“We work so much it’s hard to schedule practice, but you have to. We are going to start doing one day a week and split it up over the month. So one week will be writing then one week we will do a video for social media and focus on different things each time we get together,” said Matt.

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Q. How is social media important to share your music and create a friendship with your fans? How does Facebook Live help?

A. “I would like to create content on a regular basis. It can be hard with as much as we work. We had positive results with the Facebook Live. Our first live video was our Christmas party a year ago. We ended up reaching about 300,000 people,” said Matt.

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Q. Many people comment on Facebook where they would like you to come play, are you planning to tour?

A. “We definitely want to. It is expensive and live music is tough to get into touring unless you have a sponsorship that helps you pay for everything. We haven’t left here because we can make a living playing here and don’t have to be gone, but we are kind of selling ourselves short if we don’t,” said Matt.

“We are the guys next door that happen to be rock stars.”

15697874_1247679998603850_6561734459006922727_n“I’m beginning to understand it’s not about getting some huge break. That can happen, but it’s more about one fan at a time. We can build a relationship with fans. Every day we have thousands of people that hear us play. If we can just get a handful of people everyday that we connect with, they become apart of something bigger than the band, it’s like a family. Those people support you in some way; as long as you’re playing they’ll always be fans. Once I learned that concept, you can build off that. Monroeville has a brand. We are the guys next door that happen to be rock stars… You have to be true to yourself. Nobody is going to get your dream for you,” said Matt.

Next time the moonshine, mountains and music call you to Tennessee, be sure to listen to Monroeville and introduce yourself to the guys. They would be happy to make you a part of the family and join you anytime your music player is near.

To keep up with Monroeville visit their website and follow their social media pages and be sure to watch their live videos!



Photo Credit to Monroeville social media

Cherish Lee is Tequila Cowgirl


By Lauren Schwab

Cherish Lee is quickly becoming known as country music’s “rebel with a heart of gold.” Cherish has always had a heart to help others, but refuses to play by some of the country music industry’s biggest rules. “I refuse to pay money to make it on the music charts. I want it to happen, because I worked my ass off, and people actually want to hear my songs! What happened to passion, story telling, rebels with a cause, and music that had its merits in how damn good it was, and how it made you feel? Our forefathers in music would be ashamed of us.”

20228845_1610917975637456_7162702675658736105_nCherish has seen how hard the business is first hand through her father, Johnny Lee (country music legend, Urban Cowboy’s “Lookin’ For Love”) and mother, Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing on hit TV show, “DALLAS”). She quickly gained her own recognition as a singer and songwriter in Music City. “Nashville has been so incredibly gracious to me. I’ve written with the most beautiful and talented writers, performed at the infamous Bluebird Cafe, the prestigious Tin Pan South Songwriter Festival. I’ve also performed with my Papa Bear at The Ryman Auditorium and The Grand Ole Opry, along with so many other bad ass venues around town. I met my husband here, our precious baby was born here, I’ve recorded my album here! I owe so much to this city. I can’t get over how people just want to up lift you and champion you here!”

I spoke with Cherish on her start in music, creating her own brand in the music business, her advice for aspiring artists and family supporting her to live her dreams. 20292749_1610918038970783_842695725561783173_n

Q. Can you tell me how you found your passion for music and decided to make it a career?

A. “It was something I was born around. I was on the road with my dad, always seeing different shows. It was something embedded in me from early on. I had grown up doing theater, had different bands and had always written music, but it was about 12 years ago I decided to take it seriously.

Q. Tell me about your musical inspirations and influences?

18403295_1523893947673193_2829980029358178321_nA. “In my songs I touch on classic country with elements of 80’s and 90’s sound that will never get old. When people hear them it will be nostalgic and they may not know why they are drawn to it. I grew up listening to all types of music like Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Madonna and Michael Jackson. My all time favorite album I couldn’t live without was Moonlight Serenade by Glenn Miller. I’m all over the place in what I love and listen to, but I love writing country and telling the stories.

Q. Why is it important you develop your unique style, sound and brand in the music business?17759943_1481460938583161_4065474721358201340_n

A. “The best advice my father has ever given me was to always be myself and sound like myself because I’m the only Cherish Lee there is how important that stamp would be.”

Q. What advice would you give to an aspiring artist that make be struggling with getting their voice heard or having confidence in their unique style?

A. “This is a really hard business and sometimes when you have a creative brain it’s hard to latch onto the business side and make wise decisions. To be able to work both sides of that, trust your gut instinct and always keep going. If it’s your passion, that’s going to be the fire that ignites you to continue and be true to yourself.”

22219663_1690604381002148_2116569879443435746_oQ. What has been an impactful experience for you?

A. “This album is it for me. It’s a huge accomplishment. I was locked in contract for years, and when I was finally free, my husband and I had just had our son. I then set out on this journey to do it on my own. It was incredible to be in the studio, have my son with me and have the support from my family. To watch this unfold and come to life before my eyes…this album has been a special experience.”

Q. How do you work to balance your career and family life?

20638211_1624020344327219_5476105391819569550_nA. “They are so supportive and were understanding of when I was stuck in contract. When I was free from that, they have done nothing but uplift me. With balancing the time to be a wife, mom and launch a music career, I’m not sure how I’m doing it, but I am. When there is a will, there is a way and it’s a discussion that needs to be had with your family. I couldn’t selfishly go off and do this. We had just had our baby and respectfully I had to be mindful of what I was putting into this project. It was about $1,500 and everybody in Nashville thought I was nuts. We talk through everything, there is an open line of communication between my husband and myself.”

Q. What goals do you have for the near future and long-term?

A. “I’m going to try and figure out how to get through CMA’s. It’s going to be a whole new experience, If and when that happens, it will be a huge accomplishment because I am a true independent artist. I don’t have anyone backing me, it’s going to be a ton of hard work, but I’m ready for it. My fans a important, they are the soul and the heartbeat for my project coming out. Thank you for supporting this album.”

22279517_1690951227634130_5663285308401199390_nLee just released her first single “Tequila Cowgirl,” along with her music video debut. It is about an all American girl- a hard worker; she’s got her head on straight, knows right from wrong and lives by that. She loves Jesus and tequila. She loves her animals and is thankful for what she has. While she doesn’t need a man and won’t share her bed with just anyone, she is looking forward to meeting the right one. Any guy would be considered lucky to bring her home to meet his mama, and every girl wants to be her best friend! The song has an intimate, nostalgic feel to it with a healthy dose of country music.


The full, aptly- named album, “Tequila Cowgirl” is scheduled for release in January 2018. It’s honest music that tells a story, and Lee’s voice conveys it beautifully, with all the attitude that her fans have come to expect from her. “It certainly is a home grown album and I could not have done it without my brilliant producer, Nate Wedan. I was respectfully allowed to be the artist and most importantly, a mother. No one flinched at my son coming to the studio with me and in many of the sessions, I’d be holding him while cutting vocals! This album is all heart,” says Lee.

“Tequila Cowgirl” is on YouTube, the Fall 2017 Spotify playlist and iTunes. Visit

 All photos credit to



Runaway June Tells FFA Members to Run Toward Their Dreams


Read my interview with Runaway June at:

Jim Beam Apple Bourbon + Pork = Love for Your Tastes Buds This Fall

By Lauren Schwab


In Celebration of National Pork Month, I am sharing some Jim Beam Apple Bourbon pork recipes. I recently visited the Jim Beam distillery in Clermont, Kentucky and it was an amazing experience. I encourage everyone to visit and start their journey on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

I learned all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. A strict set of standards from the government regulates what’s what. In 1964, under President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration, Congress declared bourbon “America’s native spirit”. Today, bourbon is recognized around the world as America’s native spirit, led by Jim Beam®, the world’s No. 1 bourbon. You can learn more about the difference between bourbon and whiskey at

Here’s a glimpse of what I was able to see on the tour. The history and beauty of Jim Beam is what makes it so special. The culture and memories made are forever:

IMG_5010It is amazing the aging process bourbon has to go through. My favorite part of the tour was walking inside one of the barrel rooms and seeing endless barrels stacked stories high. They all had their date on the outside and it was fun to remember back to what I was doing at that time. I saw a barrel that was filled in 2008, that’s when I was crowned Ohio Pork Industry Queen. It can take anywhere from four to nine or more years for bourbon to age. That’s a quality that makes bourbon special, you can’t rush the process. Good things take time and are worth the wait. It’s great to see preparation, hard work and patience pay off. There is love and passion in each sip. I admire Jim Beam’s passion and legacy. Just like how farming is continued on in family generations, so is Jim Beam Bourbon.

IMG_5025I also appreciated the agricultural production bourbon supports. They start with a secret mix of corn (at least 51%), rye and barley malt – their “Mash Bill”. It feeds into a 10,000-gallon cooker. Here they add limestone filtered Kentucky water, along with some “set back”—up to 40% of the old mash from the last distillation. You and learn more at I also enjoyed the opportunity for us to make our own personalized single barrel bottle. We got to take an empty bottle and see it filled with Knob Creek Single Barrel. I watched by bottle go through the line and I picked it up. I was able to put my finger print on the seal and then put a personalized laser message on it! I will always remember this moment.

At the end of the tour we went onto the tasting room where were could pick three bourbons to taste. There were machines we select to dispense our bourbon sample. Among these was Jim Beam Apple Bourbon: This is great to try with pork recipes. Here is a recipe from my friend Leah at Farm Wife Drinks:



Here’s a a main course dish from Mother’s BBQ:

Bone in Pork Roast with Jim Beam Apple Bourbon Glaze Recipe On the Traeger Grill

I hope you give these delicious recipes a try this month and take a trip to Jim Beam! To learn more about the Kentucky Bourbon Trail visit


Steel Blossoms Are Country Enough For Nashville

By Lauren Schwab

14682129_692400384242376_3015563060280626341_oA few years ago when I started Farm Girl With Curls, I got a follow on Twitter from the Steel Blossoms. With my love for country music and their creative name, I decided to check out their music. I was instantly inspired with their brand and my heart felt warmth and empowerment while listening to their music. Sara Zebley and Hayley Prosser have a traditional yet unique style. They have a personal touch and take every effort possible to make their dream in music come true. They use their talent to touch many lives and build lasting relationships. What meant the most to me was the time they took to write me a Happy Birthday song for my 26th birthday in 2015. From their I was Steel Blossom fan for life.

20545522_684276845100035_3085447495043608423_oThese Pennsylvania natives made the move to Nashville in 2014. They spend their time there and on tour doing personal house concerts for fans. I have been waiting a long time to see them and was so excited for them to come to the Ohio State Fair. I figured they had long forgot about Farm Girl With Curls, but as soon as I introduced myself their faces lit up with excitement. To know they remembered and cared about me personally meant so much. I watched their concert and sat down afterwards for a quick interview. I hope you enjoy their story, inspirational words and uplifting music.

Q. Can you tell me more about how the Steel Blossoms got their start and made the decision to move to Nashville?

20597069_684276561766730_6317917601765372812_nA. “We have been singing for a little over six years together. We used to be in a country rock band back in Pennsylvania. We weren’t called Steel Blossoms at first. We did about three years of singing without the Steel Blossoms name. We realized we were the two in the band that wanted this to be a career, not just a hobby. So we made the trip to Nashville and although it sounds easy, it wasn’t. It was a long process that took some convincing on our parts and we moved in 2014. We thought of the name Steel Blossoms because we wanted to represent Pittsburgh, ‘Steel City’, and that’s where both of us blossomed as people and musicians.”

Q. Can you tell me more about your style and musical influences?

20626233_684277005100019_1409395646116484977_o.jpgA. “Right now we are into Ashley Monroe and Kacey Musgraves. We like the comedy aspects of our songs and it’s hard to pick a genre because we are not the country that’s on the radio right now. Haley tells me very often she aspires to be the country folk version of Bo Burnham, a comedian who plays music. We like to make people laugh and cry in the same show, feel all the emotions.”

Q. How did you build a following on social media and decide to go on tour?

20506987_911111439037935_1267733068460899934_oA. When we first moved to Nashville we played seven days a week, four hours a day. We played in a really crowed Nashville bar that was constantly packed with people so we were meeting volumes of people everyday. We used that to our benefit and asked people to sign up for our email list and gave them four free songs for signing up. We remind them over and over again to please follow us on social media. Also I think our show is really personal that might make it different from a lot of people’s. We make it more intimate and personal because we like to get to know our fans, so we even show that through social media by asking questions all the time to get to know people.

Q. What has been an impactful experience for you?

21125793_928538187295260_2058914348281707969_oA. Being out on the road has been the most impactful experience. Doing home concerts, you get to be apart of somebody’s family for a night. They accept you and welcome you into their group and you feel cultured from that. You see all different walks of life and ways of doing things. We are able to see parts of the country we would never be able to see before. Getting to touch somebody through a song, and the experience of having somebody say that song relates to me because I feel this and went though this, that just makes it all worth it.

Q. What advice would you give to other aspiring artists that are struggling with taking the steps to get their voice heard or have confidence in their music?

12000939_527290610753355_5273178322719902471_oA. I would say learn as much as you can about the music business. Social media is so huge right now and you can use it to your advantage. There is no one-way to get there. Everybody has a completely different path. What my strength might be, someone else has a completely different one I don’t have. So you need to get to know yourself and be aware of the things that are going to help you get ahead. Learn and be open to talking to people about your craft. Understand you can do it on your own; you don’t need record labels or booking agencies. There are many layers of the goal to peel back and you can pick which one you want.

Q. What goals or plans do you have for the future?

12139997_532089026940180_7142215612573116940_oA. Our big goal with these house concerts is that we want to target certain areas so that we can then go back to that area and instead of doing five small shows, do one big show in a theater with three or four hundred people in the next few years. We always want to do the house concerts and of course we love fairs and festivals where we can meet families. We are realistic about our future as individuals to know we want to be married and have kids. So we want to take what we’re doing now and tailor it to be able to make the most of it when we do have families. So that we aren’t super far from them all the time, but can still make a living doing this. We want the best of both worlds.

Visit to learn more and sign up for their email list to get four free songs!  Their new album ‘Country Enough’ is available. Be sure to check them on social media to see their music videos and find out what they are up to!

Photo credit to Steel Blossoms Social Media

Some Beach, Somewhere…

The past few months I have been daydreaming of sunny Cancun, Mexico during my hard workdays on the farm. I was fortunate to have a vacation planned with friends to a resort. This was a first to me, never had I been on a long beach vacation. As a farmer, it’s all work all the time and I feel guilty when I’m not. As vacation neared, I couldn’t help but think of the song, Some Beach by Blake Shelton. Now after coming back, I think about it even more. There really is “a big umbrella casting shade over an empty chair. Palm trees are growing and warm breezes blowing.”

Today even more so I went to the dentist to get some cavities fixed, I delayed it due to farm work of course. I sang the song to myself while in the dentist chair. While life isn’t perfect everyday, I was thankful to see a tropical paradise. I want to create a life I don’t need a vacation from, but I do love imagining myself in peaceful places around the world when the chaos at home is too much. Here are some pictures we took on the beach. This was a fun memory I will think about, especially on those not so fun days.

In Case You Didn’t Know About Brett Young

By Lauren Schwab

IMG_4418Country music artist, Brett Young, brought his West Coast-meets-Southern sound to Hillsboro, Ohio to capture the hearts of fans at the annual Festival of the Bells. Young shared his honest song lyrics while telling stories to the audience about his song writing inspiration. From telling the story of ending a six year relationship on New Year’s Eve to hearing a great love story of a song writer in Nashville. Young was happy to share with the crowd.

IMG_4420Young told a story about attending his first “Number One” party in Nashville. Country music is the only genre in which the performing rights organizations, the companies that make sure songwriters are paid for the usage of their music, regularly have parties to celebrate songwriters and their number one songs. In Nashville these parties happen almost weekly.

IMG_4416While at the party, Young heard a man tell a story of how he started in songwriting. Him and his wife were 18 years old with an 18 month old child. They didn’t have much money, but moved to Nashville so he could be a songwriter. Young went on to tell the story to the festival audience, “On that day he was telling that story, he was accepting an award for his 11th number one as a song writer. He gave her all the credit and called her his beautiful believer. When I heard that story I thought, I don’t know the rules in this town. I don’t know if I have to give him song writing credit for stealing his story and writing a song about it, but if we’re going to write a song about it we are going to tell the story exactly the way we heard it. This song is called Beautiful Believer.”

IMG_4421Young went on to share how it’s been 20 years now since the man started songwriting and he wrote a song about his wife. Young said to the audience, “Now men, if we’re being honest, we know we’re really bad at expressing our feelings. Here’s the thing, it’s not because we don’t want to say how we feel, we are wired very differently. The best way we’ve come up with to make our women feel sexy, unfortunately, is saying ‘Baby, you look so sexy.’ Cause we’re smooth like that (laughter). So I heard this song, and I knew their relationship. He found a way to tell her that everything she does all day, from putting her makeup on in the mirror to walking down the hallway is sexy to him.”  Makin Me Say is the only song on Young’s record he didn’t write, but recorded for this reason.

Young has used inspiration is his own life and others to write songs that connect with many people. His story is unique and he has worked hard to go after his dreams. For more on Young’s career read this article on

Brett Young: How a Baseball Injury Led Him to Country Music

Now listen to these motivational words from Young to go after your dreams!

For more about Brett Young, his music and tour dates, visit

Photo Credit to Ashley Whitenack and Jessica Schoultheis