Join the studio audience for WSRE's "StudioAmped" country concerts
What: WSRE invites the community to attend the production of three new “StudioAmped” shows featuring local country music artists and songwriters from the Frank Brown International Songwriters’ Festival.
Who: Tony-Ray Thompson will take the Amos Studio stage on Monday, Aug. 5; The BeachBilly’s will play Tuesday, Aug. 6; and songwriters Brittany Grimes, Davis Nix and Darrel Roberts will perform on Thursday, Aug. 8.
Why: In conjunction with the fall release of Ken Burns’ “Country Music” film series on PBS and in honor of the Frank Brown International Songwriters’ Festival’s 35th anniversary, WSRE is producing three country episodes of the “StudioAmped” concert series featuring the original music of local artists.
When: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, Aug. 5, 6 and 8. Doors open at 6 p.m. Shows begin at 7 p.m.
Where: WSRE Jean & Paul Amos Performance Studio on the Pensacola campus of Pensacola State College at 1000 College Blvd. near the corner of College Blvd. and 12th Ave.
How to attend: The “StudioAmped” Summer Country Concerts are free and open to the public. No tickets or registration required. Food donations for Manna Pantries are welcome and will be collected at the door.
About the Artists
Tony-Ray Thompson says his singing and songwriting style is influenced by artists such as Eric Church, Alan Jackson and The Highwaymen super group of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. His versatility in performing country, blues and Southern rock has made him a sought-after act on the Gulf Coast.
The BeachBilly’s band includes accomplished local musicians T-Bone Montgomery, Dave Caluger, Mark Sherrill, James Daniel and Augie Savage. Montgomery was born in Muscle Shoals, Ala. and comes from a long line of songwriters, including his uncle, Peanutt Montgomery, who wrote hit songs for George Jones. Sherrill has written songs cut by Jones, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, Tanya Tucker and Blake Shelton. He received the Nashville Songwriters Association International’s “10 Songs I Wish I’d Written” achievement award for “Ole Red,” co-written with Don Goodman and James Bohon and recorded by Shelton.
Brittany Grimes is a country singer-songwriter from South Alabama. She fell in love with music and started writing songs at a young age. She has been performing at songwriters’ festivals and local music venues since age 13. At 14, she performed at Nashville’s CMA Fest, Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Rippy’s, Blue Bird Cafe and The Listening Room. By 15, she had taught herself to play guitar and began performing solo shows. She has written songs and shared the stage with many of her idols and mentors over the years. Her musical influences are widely spread among genres and include many Gulf Coast performers who have mentored her throughout her songwriting career. In June, she released a five-song EP of some of her favorite original songs produced by Brandon White and Greg Deluca.
Davis Nix is an American alternative country music singer-songwriter from Montgomery, Ala. Encouraged by his songwriting parents, he was playing guitar by age 10. At 11, his passion for music was still growing strong, and he became interested in drums. He remembers the first drum kit his parents bought for him for $500. “I probably still owe them to this day for that drum kit,” said Nix. He was playing gigs by age 12, the first of which was an office party for $600. In 2018, he released the six-song EP, “Part One,” which garnered him national press in Rolling Stone’s article, “10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: October 2018.”
Darrel Roberts was born and raised on the Gulf Coast and began writing songs at age 14. A family move to Texas exposed him to different forms of music and opportunities to play and write in different genres. By 18, he was in a progressive rock band performing all original material and opening for named acts, Argent being the first. After that, a vocal trio was formed, opening for acts such as B.B King, John Hammond Jr. and Ike and Tina Turner. The music scene of the 1970s opened the door to country music for Roberts. “That time in my life was so productive as a player, a writer and artist. I got to play with some tremendous writer-artists and then was given the opportunity to write with some people who were big influences on what I've become,” he said. While Texas offered great opportunities, returning to the Gulf Coast proved to be productive, as well. He arrived at the Flora-Bama Lounge & Package Store in 1981 and discovered a place where artists were writing and playing good music with encouragement from the owner, Joe Gilchrist. “There couldn't have been a better atmosphere for creativity anywhere on the planet. Joe also got some of the big writers to come down from Nashville, some real legends. That became an avenue to network with some really great writers.” Roberts has performed at every Frank Brown International Songwriters’ Festival since the start in 1984.
Photo Notes: Tony-Ray Thompson to perform free WSRE “StudioAmped” concert Monday, Aug. 5. The BeachBilly’s perform Tuesday, Aug. 6. Doors open at 6 p.m. Shows start at 7 p.m.
About the Frank Brown International Songwriters’ Festival
The iconic Frank Brown International Songwriters’ Festival will celebrate its 35th year Nov. 7–17 with over 200 Grammy award-winning and up-and-coming songwriters converging on the Alabama-Florida Gulf Coast. Songwriters will perform in more than two dozen venues from Fairhope, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Ala. to Perdido Key and downtown Pensacola. The festival is an opportunity for seasoned and aspiring songwriters and musicians from all over the world to have their songs heard and for attendees to learn the stories behind the lyrics that only a song’s author can express. The Frank Brown Foundation for Music produces the annual Frank Brown Songwriters’ Festival, places songwriters in area schools year-round to teach the art and craft of songwriting, and provides instruments for schools and scholarships for Escambia County and Baldwin County students with interest in music. Since 2013, the Foundation has been involved with the Larry Butler Memorial Music Fund at the University of West Florida which supports student travel to music competitions all over the world, funds campus music studio and classroom improvements, and provides music lessons for underprivileged kids.
About “Country Music”
“Country Music,” a new eight-part, 16-hour film directed by Ken Burns and produced by Burns and his long-time collaborators Dayton Duncan and Julie Dunfey, premieres Sunday through Wednesday, Sept. 15–18, and Sunday through Wednesday, Sept. 22–25, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. CDT on PBS. The first four episodes will stream on station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and PBS apps, timed to the Sunday, Sept. 15 premiere. The second four will stream timed to the broadcast of Episode 5 on Sunday, Sept. 22. Each episode will stream for a period of three weeks. WSRE/PBS Passport members will be able to stream the entire series for a period of six months beginning Sunday, Sept. 15.
The documentary, written by Duncan, who also wrote the illustrated companion book (coming from Alfred A. Knopf on Sept. 10), chronicles country music’s early days, from southern Appalachia’s songs of struggle, heartbreak and faith to the rollicking Western swing of Texas, California’s honky-tonks and Nashville’s “Grand Ole Opry.” The film follows the evolution of country music over the course of the 20th century as it eventually emerges to become “America’s music.”
“Country Music” explores crucial questions –– “What is country music?” and “Where did it come from?” –– while focusing on the biographies of the fascinating trailblazers who created and shaped it — from the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Bill Monroe and Bob Wills to Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Charley Pride, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Garth Brooks and many more — as well as the times in which they lived. Much like the music itself, the film tells unforgettable stories of hardships and joys shared by everyday people.
Funding for “Country Music” was provided by Bank of America, the Annenberg Foundation, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, Belmont University, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Rosalind P. Walter and by members of ‘The Better Angels Society,’ including: The Blavatnik Family Foundation, the Schwartz/Reisman Foundation, the Pfeil Foundation, Diane and Hal Brierley, John and Catherine Debs, the Fullerton Family Charitable Fund, the Perry and Donna Golkin Family Foundation, Jay Alix and Una Jackman, Mercedes T. Bass, Fred and Donna Seigel, Gilchrist and Amy Berg, James R. Berdell Foundation, David Bonderman, Deborah P. and Jonathan T. Dawson, Senator Bill and Tracy Frist, Susan and David Kreisman, Rocco and Debby Landesman, Lillian Lovelace, John and Leslie McQuown, the Segal Family Foundation, Michelle Smith. Major funding was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS. “Country Music” is a production of Florentine Films and WETA, Washington, DC.