Remembering Chris Gaines, Garth Brooks' Alter Ego

Alter-ego Chris Gaines on the left, original persona Garth Brooks on the right.

By Jaime Lees

Inspired by Garth Brooks' recent announcement of his world tour, we thought we'd take a minute to look back on our favorite era of Garth-ness: the invention of Brooks' alter-ego, Chris Gaines.

Alter-egos help an artist feel free to express sides of their persona that might make their fans uncomfortable otherwise. When we see an artist as just a ballad singer or just a rapper or just a pretty pop star, the artist often feels the need to rebel in the form of an alter-ego.

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Local Songwriter Christie Huff's Music Video Makes It Into G.I. Film Festival

Joe Hardwick
Mesa's Christie Huff made a music video that will be shown at a film festival in Washington, D.C.

Being a local singer/songwriter is never easy, especially at the age when one needs to decide whether to attend college or focus full-time on music. However, 19-year-old Christie Huff has found motivation to move ahead with music. A music video for one of her songs made it into a film festival in the nation's capital.

Huff's "Soldier Song" will appear May 24 during the "Heroes From Each Generation" film block at the G.I. Film Festival in Washington. Mark Fletcher, with whom Huff has collaborated on her other music videos, produced the video and found director Jacob Lees Johnson to work with them as well.

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When It Comes to Country Music, Southern California Will Never Be Arizona

K.C. Libman
Part of why Arizona reigns supreme: Country Thunder.
Summers in Northern Arizona are some kind of magical. I spent my childhood helping my dad load our battered red farm truck up with alfalfa bails, unloading them under building monsoon clouds, racing from the barn to the house as the rain fell, hay hooks in hand. As idyllic a scene as that is, that's not the magical part.

The magical part came with Garth Brooks' "Friends In Low Places" as we drove from Olsen's Grain to our property. Anyone from Sierra Vista to Chandler to Prescott can attest to the feeling of a big truck, a warm afternoon and the twang of country music. It's the stuff of pop country hits themselves -- Kenny Chesney's "Summertime," Jason Aldean's "Take A Little Ride" and the entire lyrical makeup of Cole Swindell's "Chillin' It." For those in the know, it's a bliss that's not to be trifled with, hardly understood by people raised in the city.

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Buckeye's Katryna Eastwood Is a Teenage Country Music Wunderkind

Katryna Eastwood
Listen to "Wounded," a new track by Buckeye country singer Katryna Eastwood, and it's easy to think the singer is far older than her 16 years. The haunting acoustic melody is layered with poignant lyrics of a heartbreaking man, collecting loves without a care before throwing them to the wayside.

The current single off Eastwood's debut album, Small Town Roads, off local label Skywalk Records, is a somber departure from Eastwood's previously released material, which have been more country rock than acoustic ballad - and that's exactly how Eastwood likes it.

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Kenny Rogers: "Music Is the Great Memory-Maker of All Time"

Piper Ferguson
Kenny Rogers is scheduled to perform on Sunday, March 23, at Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler.
Even with a storied career spanning more than five decades already firmly implanted in the American pop culture landscape, country music legend Kenny Rogers is still breaking new ground, furthering his achievements, and streamlining his talents.

In 2013 alone, Rogers found himself accepting the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award, earning his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, publishing the novel What Are the Chances, releasing his 22nd Top 10 Country Album, You Can't Make Old Friends, as well as receiving a Grammy Award nomination for a duet with Dolly Parton on the album's title track.

Oh yeah, and the Professional Photographers of America awarded Rogers with an Honorary Masters of Photography this past January at a ceremony right here in Phoenix.

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Kip Moore Is Staying True to Himself and Not Trying to Please Everyone

Kip Moore is scheduled to perform on Saturday, March 22, at Ak-Chin Pavilion.
It seems as though everything that Kip Moore has touched in recent years has turned to gold, or -- more specifically -- platinum. The Georgia-born country artist has had a string of hit songs since 2011, such as "Somethin' 'Bout a Truck," "Beer Money," and "Hey "Pretty Girl," all of which came from his debut album Up All Night.

Having finished his currently untitled second record -- which will feature his latest single, "Young Love" -- Moore plans to give fans a grittier and more intense listening experience than with his first album.

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Lady Antebellum's Charles Kelley on Their Latest Album and Being Back on the Road

Courtesy Photo
Lady Antebellum: (from left) Charles Kelley, Dave Haywood, and Hillary Scott.
Country music favorites Lady Antebellum have hit the road, again. The trio of Charles Kelley, Hilary Scott, and Dave Haywood, who have been kicking around the country scene since 2006, are relentless travelers who constantly crisscross the U.S. and are currently pounding the pavement on their "Take Me Downtown" tour following their newest album, Golden.

The disc has seen much success with songs such as "Downtown," "Goodbye Town," and "Compass" since its release last November. Travelling across the the country with Kip Moore and Kacey Musgraves in tow, this seven-time Grammy winning group is looking to give fans a bigger and more intimate show this time around.

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Country Crooner Mike Easterday on Appearing on CMT's Music City Madness and the Perils of Getting His Music on the Radio

Chelsea Hough
Mike Easterday performs at San Tan Flat in Queen Creek.
As a regular solo act at San Tan Flat in Queen Creek, Mike Easterday puts on a country performance that tends to get people out of their seats and onto the dance floor. During his shows, the 27-year-old country musician sings an array of country covers, from Garth Brooks to Florida Georgia Line, and even throws in Bill Withers and Billy Joel with "Ain't No Sunshine" and "Piano Man."

Easterday even takes requests from couples in the crowd who would like to dance to that special song. He has built a fan base that keeps his shows filled well attended on a regular basis.

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Jon Rauhouse on His Grammy-Nominated Project with Neko Case and Living in Tempe When the Drinking Age Was 19

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Courtesy Photo
Jon Rauhouse
In case you've been avoiding the Internet the past several days, thanks for coming back. Now let's catch up: The Grammys went down on Sunday night (with all the schwag such an industry fete entails) and people are talking about it.

While much of the post-Grammy discussion has centered on what Beyoncé and Pharrell had on their heads, Macklemore's win over Kendrick Lamar (no doubt tied to his association with the Dr. Pepper Illuminati), and Trent Reznor's expletive-packing tweet to the Grammy brass, our most puzzling concern remains unaddressed: Who puts Vampire Weekend, the National, Nine Inch Nails, Tame Impala, and Neko Case in the same category?

Jon Rauhouse, who contributed guitar, pedal steel, and trombone to Neko Case's The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, which was nominated for Best Alternative Album, isn't quite sure how Case's music compares to Vampire Weekend's Modern Vampires of the City, which ultimately took the golden gramophone home. But he's not worried about it, either. Ever the working musician, he found out the awards show outcome right before he went on stage in Houston.

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Country Thunder 2014 Lineup Joined By LoCash Cowboys, Thompson Square, And More

LoCash Cowboys
A second round of performers at the 2014 Country Thunder was announced on Saturday, adding to the already packed line-up. Joining headlining artists Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, and the Band Perry will be Thompson Square, Cassadee Pope, Tyler Farr, Easton Corbin and LoCash Cowboys.

The four day festival kicks off in Florence on April 10.

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