I’ve mentioned before I strongly believe Sioux City has become the “Music City of the Midwest”. The number of VERY talented country artists we see in this metro population of just under 85,000 is amazing because of the hard work of Hard Rock Sioux City entertainment booker Brad Streeter. The list of Anthem alumni reads like the top of the radio airplay charts:
In the last several years, we’ve seen:
• Russel Dickerson
• Brett Young
• Cole Swindell
• Dustin Lynch
• Aaron Watson
• Chris Janson
• Jon Pardi
• Dan + Shay
• Chris Lane
• Tucker Beathard
• Kelsea Ballerini
• Michael Ray
• Dylan Scott
• Brothers Osborne
• Old Dominion
We’ve also see a slew of talented artist that are just as talented as the list above and just need a little time, exposure and a few breaks.
That list includes Tara Thompson, Courtney Cole, Ryan Hurd, Cale Dodds, Casey Donahew Band, Ben Grillet, Turnpike Troubadours, Cody Jinx, Sundy Best, Walker McGuire, Jacob Martin Band and….
Jillian Jacqueline and Jordan Davis.
Many country radio industry insiders will descend upon Nashville this week for CRS. There will be a lot of experts that will stare into the country music gazing ball to predict the talent that will emerge in 2018. I wish they all could have all chartered a jet to little old Sioux City, Iowa.
This past Saturday they would have seen two artists pouring their hearts to an Anthem crowd that would probably only fill up a few sections at the Bridgestone Arena. They would also see 2 musicians that delighted those in attendance to asked audience members pry into their music soul sharing backstories best fit for a counselor or to a traveling partner on the long and winding road from Peoria to Sioux City – now, that sounds like a country song. Peoria was their Friday stop and Davis and Jacqueline showed no signs of being road weary. Surely, it is this journey from Peoria to Sioux City that is quite representative of the effort required to become a “10 year overnight sensation” in Nashville and on country radio. Both passed my “DIWBH” test that many Anthem alums do….that’s “do I want to be here”. They both met fans after the show and were the epitome of class. When they teamed up on stage, I got chills like I have so many other times in that intimate Anthem setting.
Jillian Jacqueline AND Jordan Davis represent current outliers of country radio stars although Davis’ “Singles You Up” appears destined to be another chart-topper.
• Quick aside – the dorky emcee (me) made mention to that huge hit “Singles ME Up” on stage. That would be a sad tale for a song, wouldn’t it? Being on stage is not easy.
I expected Davis to be more Sam Hunt and was surprised to hear the blues and tenor more representative of Chris Stapleton. “Take it from Me” “Detour” and others will be mainstays in my personal collection. Jacqueline was a cerebral poet who crafted melodies which left an indelible mark on the listener. She is the “Alexander Payne” of songwriting. Both artists made an impression on me.
Jillian Jacqueline graced the stage with just a guitar player and a lot of pent up emotion and stories – two ingredients to a fantastic career. She sang “Hate Me” after a very compelling backstory that I believe resonated with the crowd, the Lori McKenna co-written “God Bless this Mess”, and two newly crafted tunes “Priorities” and “Tragic”. Tragic is a song I will remember for awhile – it was reminiscent of a country song inspired by Fiona Apple. I have never heard anything like it. Ever.
Jillian Jacqueline and Jordan Davis have been a staple on Friday Night Spotlight for about two years. I often tweet them after an airing of one of their songs I feel should have a bigger audience. My efforts were acknowledged in a funny fashion by Jacqueline after I dreadfully did a soft emcee open for Jordan Davis and introduced myself. She said “oh, are you are Tony from Twitter?” (Yup, 20 years in the market and I’m known as the guy that fills her timeline on Twitter.) It was a sweet moment. On a side note, I really think that 7p FNS show should be replicated on other stations that actually care about what listeners want to discover on the radio That’s a separate article:
As of print time of this article – that blog received an underwhelming 944 readers. I kind of hoped it would take off. It didn’t. I truly believe some things we do in Sioux City will not make a mark nationally, but should. I am not attending CRS this year for a variety of reasons. There, you will find a number of “radio experts” with Country Music Association wins for their on-air work. At KSUX, we have tried for about 15 years to be nominated for one of those. We have never received a sniff of a nom. I talked to an industry insider that said it was unlikely because of our call letters, the lack of schmoozing and the fact many of our country concerts happen at a casino. (Uh, so a bar is better? Should we re-create the Ryman? Seems very pompous to me)
So, I’ve re-allocated my dreams. I will no longer invest the hours and the money to submit for a CMA Award. It (sadly) is not written in the stars to borrow an Anthem alum’s tune.
I am going to spend that time listening to new music with other country music lovers (like Kristen Bultman who took ALL of these pictures to be used in this article). Along with Josie Cooper and Brad Streeter, we hope to bring the best tunes outside of the corporate national radio Top 40 to the Siouxland radio for listeners to consume. That’s the kind of stuff you do in the “Music City of the Midwest”. I feel as though the industry looks at us and our easy to mock call letters as a minor league baseball team and maybe that’s an apt analogy. We see the value and talent of those chasing a dream.
Every night from Peoria to Sioux City.
KSUX Program Director / not a CMA radio winner