I have my Wrangler’s on, my boots are broken in and I shined up my finest belt buckle. It’s that time year and I’m as ready as ever. This season of Nashville Star looks like a beauty and it’s going to take two of us recappers to tame this bronco. The talented and entertaining Mariner and I will be alternating each week until the finale. So saddle up boys and girls--lets get this thing a movin’.
Our host for this season is none other than Leann Rimes and she opens the show with You Take Me Home. Leann looks sexy in her purple looking teddy and as I swab up the copious amounts of spittle from my frothing lips, she’s introducing the judges who will be guiding us through the contest:
Phil Vassar-a country crooner and actor, Anastasia Brown-a Nashville record executive and Bret Michaels- onetime front man for the hair band Poison and soon to be country artist. An interesting mix to say the least and I’m excited to see how they react to the singer’s. The winner of Nashville Star will receive a recording contract with Universal South Records and an appearance on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. With formalities out of the way, it’s time to kick back and let the contestants take it away.
So This Is Where All The Talent Is
Whether you like country music or not, you have to admit the talent pool runs much deeper in this genre. There’s nary a boy band in sight, techno music is replaced with the twangy strum of the guitar and by golly, these people can sing.
First up is Casey Simpson. Casey is from L.A.- not exactly the center of country music- and is known as the Ghetto Cowgirl. Seems she can go from her karaoke singing at Buckin Billy’s to the streets of Compton in a blink of an eye. She opens the night singing Kieth Urban’s Love Somebody Like You. It’s a great way to start the night and the judges agree.
Bret announces that she has the “It” factor. Phil loved her choker and ensemble and said she looked comfortable on stage. Anastasia slightly disagrees and while she said she “nailed it”, she’d like to see Casey loosen up a bit more.
One of the more unusual looking singers is Jody Evans. This policeman definitely has his own style and he models it after the older generation of singers in the likes of Buddy Holly and oddly enough, Roscoe P. Coltrane. Jody also plays the guitar and cranks out a rockin rendition of Three Nickels and A Dime, not even batting an eyelash when a guitar string slingshots out of place.
Phil loves his great style. We’ll soon learn that Phil is simple when critiquing which isn’t such a bad thing. Anastasia loved it so much she offered to carry his guitar and shine his boots. Bret thought Jody handled the broken guitar string with “cool” and all in all the judges seemed pleased with his performance.
Next up is Tamika Tyler, a transplanted Aussie and mother whose desire is her music. Tamika literally knocks my socks off with a smoky rendition of You Don’t Even Know, a Patty Loveless classic and soon to be Tamika Classic.
Anastasia wishes she were a man so she could propose to which Tamika replies “I wish I weren’t married.” Stasia comments that her outfit isn’t incredible enough for her talent and we’re treated to a bunch of “oohs” and “awes”. Tamika definitely showed off her legs in a slinky black dress. Bret could listen to her voice all night long. Phil tells Tamika that she “blew me away”. I checked with the Vegas odds and Tamika is an early favorite.
Josh Owen has been singing since he was two years old. He looks about five so he still has a ways to go. At age ten, he picked up his first guitar and it’s been a chicken-pickin ever since. Josh sings and jams to Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way. Josh has an ok voice, but he plays the gee-tar like nobody’s business.
Bret concurs and tells Josh he did an awesome job on the Guitar. Phil can’t wait to hear more guitar in future performances. Anastasia would like for him to connect more, as in quit making love to the strings and start making love to the audience.
Rounding out the first five singers is Christy McDonald. What isn’t there to say about Christy. Annoying? Perhaps. High on helium? Maybe. Stuck in the 80’s? Definitely. Lets just say Christy looks like she was flash frozen from one of Poison’s concerts in the heyday. A dash of frosted teased hair, hula hoop earings and a faux tan and we have a recipe for something. I’m still trying to figure out what that something is. In the meantime, Christy adds her own flavor to Josh Turner’s Long Black Train, a personal favorite of mine.
Apparently, the judges loved her. Hell, I thought they were gonna throw a ticker tape parade for her. Christy engages the judges as if she were the one doing the judging. With that, Phil jokes that she needs to loosen up a bit. Anastasia loved how she lost herself in the music and Bret exclaims that she wants to make him party…and hearing Bret saying he wants to party now makes me want to party.
A Moment With Cledus
This year Nashville Star has decided to ramp up the usual goodness and include a backstage reporter, where we’ll be treated to all the inside dish and scandal. Cledus T. Judd is our eyes and ears to all that happens backstage. We learn that the contestants will be staying at the Gaylord Opryland Resort with a five star view and world renown food. Or…maybe not. More on that later….
Don’t Eat The Buffet
It’s back to the action and next on stage is Jason Meadows. Jason is a cowboy who grew up in Oklahoma and worked on ranches and farms. He’s almost a dead ringer for a young George Strait and he has some pretty good chops to go along with it. Throw in his buckle-bunny wife and I’d say Jason is living life pretty good.
On stage, Jason captures the crowd. Complete with off centered Stetson, tight jeans and a hubcap doubling as a buckle, Jason does a great job singing Workin Mans Blues.
Jason may be the male version of Christy as his confidence seems to border on cockiness. Anastasia points that out and encourages him to soften his delivery. Bret likes his great attitude and gives him the “It” factor thumbs up while Phil simply says “great job.”
Our youngest competitor this year is 18 year old Erika Jo. While young in years, Erika has been entertaining crowds for many years. She even has some television appearances on her resume, all the while finishing school. So, in between homework backstage and applying sheets of make-up, Erika takes the stage and sings Break Down Here…superbly by the way. She is eons beyond her years and the judges agree as well.
Bret thinks she “has that thing” which I’m assuming is another way of saying “It” factor but didn’t want to wear that saying out. Phil gives the standard great job line while Anastasia seems to be the only one offering up advice and criticism. Stasia loves Erika’s beautiful voice but noticed her rigid ness and urged her to “lose yourself in the music”.
So you’re probably wondering what’s with my food hints, huh? If you didn’t catch the show, we experienced something unusual that, depending on how emotional you are, could’ve caused one of those rare lip-quivering, hands-over-the-eyes moments:
Meet Jenny Farrell, one of the older contestants who loves her horses and her barrel racing. Jenny was also a member of an all girl band called Mustang Sally…ride, Sally ride. Well, it seems Jenny was the only one who ate the Chicken Fricasse that day and while it probably tasted good going down, I’m sure she was cursing it coming back up.
Jenny takes the stage and begins her version of Seven Year Ache, a Roseanne Cash ditty. You just knew something was up the minute she started singing. Her voice was shaky, her eyes glazed and she stumbled with her words. The audience knew it, the judges knew it, heck, even I knew it. But what we didn’t know was that lunch was enroute through her vocal chords and in an instant, Jenny apologizes, makes the gag me with a spoon sign ala Moon Unit Zappa and runs offstage.
The band continues to play as if this was supposed to happen until finally Leann comes out to fill in the audience. Leann tells us that while everyone gets nervous, Jenny had been tackled with food poisoning as well. For some strange reason, her song choice couldn‘t have been a better fit. I sincerely hope that all who voted took into consideration Jenny’s situation and vote to keep her in. She’s definitely worthy of staying from the twenty-two seconds of song we heard.
With the inter-barf-mission over, it’s time to get back to singing. Enter Jayron Weaver. Jayron has that I was this close to fronting Rascal Flatts look, complete with funky goatee/ five o’clock shadow/ it picks up chicks look. Jayron is also one of the few contestants who doesn’t play a guitar.
Jayron does a pretty good job with a ballad by Lonestar called I’m Already There. The girls were swooning and the guys were jealous and I’m thinking he won’t last another week. Even Leann suggested that the ladies would be-a-calling.
Phil thought he really sang great. Both Bret and Anastasia thought he could’ve done better. Anastasia remarked that he needs to look at the audience as he needs to be present to win. Bret thinks he needs to bring it out better next time.
Our last singer is Justin David. Justin hails from the “Show Me” state and is pretty darn good at the mandolin. His sound is reminiscent of Nickel Creek which is pretty cool in my book. Justin pulls out an oldie but goodie, Ring of Fire which he knows will appeal to everyone between nine and ninety-nine. He does a good job infusing his own contemporary upbeat version while paying respect the The Man In Black.
Anastasia loved it so much, it made her toes curl. Phil once again, “loved it” and Bret thought it was a good song selection. All in all a good performance.
So there you have it. Ten singers who survived the audition process in hopes of becoming the next Nashville Star. This should definitely be exciting as all the singers are have strong talents. Join us next week for more inside scoop by Cledus, an elimination of one contestant and music, music, music!
How big is your belt buckle? Email me your dimensions at: Speedbump@fansofrealitytv.com