Genre: Country

Church of Cash

Church of Cash

 

BAG POLICY

Bags (max size 12″ x 6″ x 12″) are allowed and will be searched upon entry. Exceptions will be made for necessary medical equipment and bags for nursing mothers. We encourage you to pack light with only the necessities to make the entry process as smooth as possible.

PAYMENT POLICY

We are a cashless facility meaning that we are unable to accept cash as a form of payment. Our Box Office and Coat Check will only accept credit and debit. Our Bars will only accept credit, debit, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. Please note that artist merchandise sales are separate and may still accept cash.

 

“If there is anyone truer to the music and spirit of Johnny Cash, you’d have to prove it to me.” – Jamie Winpenny – Honolulu Weekly

In 2010, amidst the sunny shores of Honolulu, Jay Ernest established the Church of Cash. Drawing from his extensive experience touring across the United States, Europe, and Asia, Jay has now returned to his Minnesota roots, driven to spread the gospel of one of the world’s most influential and timeless songwriters.

The Church of Cash remains steadfast in their devotion to the music of Johnny Cash. Led by Jay’s resounding baritone voice, their performances echo the gentle breeze of the prairie and resonate with the commanding stomp of a boot heel. Far from being a typical country band, the Church of Cash stands as a tribute band with a clear mission: to honor the lasting legacy of Johnny Cash. They have traversed the roads, tested their mettle, and stand ever-ready to celebrate the very soul of American music.

Whether you are a seasoned individual who grew up listening to Mr. Cash in the seat of your tractor or a young soldier navigating the deserts of the Middle East with the Man in Black’s melodies in your headphones, the Church of Cash promises to deliver his music to fans everywhere, infused with their own unique style and vibrant energy.

What sets the Church of Cash apart from the rest is their unwavering loyalty to the songs and the messages that Johnny left behind for all of us. With a youthful spirit, they breathe life into his words, ensuring that audiences are entertained and captivated by his enduring legacy.

Jaime Wyatt

Jaime Wyatt

 

BAG POLICY

Bags (max size 12″ x 6″ x 12″) are allowed and will be searched upon entry. Exceptions will be made for necessary medical equipment and bags for nursing mothers. We encourage you to pack light with only the necessities to make the entry process as smooth as possible.

PAYMENT POLICY

We are a cashless facility meaning that we are unable to accept cash as a form of payment. Our Box Office and Coat Check will only accept credit and debit. Our Bars will only accept credit, debit, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. Please note that artist merchandise sales are separate and may still accept cash.

 

Jaime Wyatt

Hailed by Pitchfork as one of the “most exciting and skillful storytellers” working today, Jaime Wyatt is the kind of generational talent whose raw, honest lyricism is matched only by the power of her huge, unmistakable voice. A West Coast native, Wyatt first began turning heads with her breakout 2017 debut, Felony Blues, which chronicled her now much-publicized battle with addiction and transformative journey through the criminal justice system. Her 2020 follow-up, Neon Cross, tackled even more profoundly personal revelations and arrived to similar acclaim, with NPR praising Wyatt’s “remarkable voice” and Rolling Stone lauding her “lush, layered, and complex” performances. With Feel Good, her third and most ambitious album yet, Wyatt pushes her sound to new sonic and emotional heights, blurring the lines between classic roots, southern soul, and vintage R&B.

“I wanted to make music you could move to,” Wyatt explains, “but I still wanted it to have heart and integrity.”

Recorded with Black Pumas’ Adrian Quesada, the album is bold and ecstatic, built on tight, intoxicating grooves that belie the songs’ substantial emotional stakes. Wyatt’s writing is unguarded and intuitive here, tapping into the deep recesses of her subconscious as she reckons with grief and growth, and her delivery is visceral to match, cutting straight to the bone with equal parts sensitivity and swagger. Taken as a whole, the collection stands as a radical act of creative liberation from an artist already known for pushing limits, a genre-defying work of healing and self-love that tips its cap to everything from Al Green and Otis Redding to Waylon Jennings and Bobbie Gentry in its relentless pursuit of peace and pleasure.

Joshua Quimby

Hailing from the quiet woods & countryside of Eastern Connecticut, the now Nashville, TN-based artist combines his powerful voice, expressively raw lyricism, and explosive guitar picking to produce distinctly unique and genuine material. Equipped with a sound that is rustic and righteous; tried and true – Joshua has many stories to tell.

MadCountry Jamboree

MadCountry Jamboree

 

BAG POLICY

Bags (max size 12″ x 6″ x 12″) are allowed and will be searched upon entry. Exceptions will be made for necessary medical equipment and bags for nursing mothers. We encourage you to pack light with only the necessities to make the entry process as smooth as possible.

PAYMENT POLICY

We are a cashless facility meaning that we are unable to accept cash as a form of payment. Our Box Office and Coat Check will only accept credit and debit. Our Bars will only accept credit, debit, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. Please note that artist merchandise sales are separate and may still accept cash.

 

High Noon Saloon’s MadCountry Jamboree showcases five of southern Wisconsin’s hottest country acts. This is a rare opportunity to catch all of these whiskey shootin’, boot scootin’, shit kickin’ bands together. You don’t want to miss this hell raisin’, barn burnin’, beer guzzin’ heck of a show!

2PM-2:50 The Spine Stealers (patio)
2:50-3:40 The Ramble (indoors)
3:40-4:30 Pupy Costello and The New Hiram Kings (patio)
4:30-5:30 Dan Lepien Band (indoors)
5:45-7PM Driveway Thriftdwellers (indoors)
7PM-7:20 All Band Country Jam

The Spine Stealers
This two-gal duo, with band accompaniment, make spooky folk that is heavily influenced by the northwood pines, 24/7 truck stops, heartbreak and dark lakes. This quickly emerging group were the Blue Ox Festival’s Virtual Band Competition Winning Artist in 2023.
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The Ramble
This 6-piece traditional country band shot onto the scene this year and is burning up stages throughout the State, including taking 2nd place in the Hodag Festival’s Best WI Country Band this past summer. If 90’s-00’s country is your jam, The Ramble is your band.
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Pupy Costello and The New Hiram Kings
Wisconsin’s hardest honky tonking classic country and western swing crooner has resurfaced with a hot new band of ace players ripping off classic juke joint country and western swing tunes. If you like your honky tonk fully basted, then this is the band for you.
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Dan Lepien Band
Original. Wisconsin. Country. That sums up this rising star in traditional country music. Hailing from the heartland of Wisconsin, where the rolling farmlands and picturesque woods and lakes deeply influenced his musical journey, Dan Lepien’s strong connection to his rural roots echoes through his authenticity and soulful sound.
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Driveway Thriftdwellers
This Milwaukee based country band was described by the Isthmus as “a vintage yard sale that Merle Haggard might have thrown.” Straightforward country music storytelling and songwriting paired with uber-talented musicians equals one thing…a kick ass headlining act.
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[SOLD OUT] Dirtwire

[SOLD OUT] Dirtwire

 

BAG POLICY

Bags (max size 12″ x 6″ x 12″) are allowed and will be searched upon entry. Exceptions will be made for necessary medical equipment and bags for nursing mothers. We encourage you to pack light with only the necessities to make the entry process as smooth as possible.

PAYMENT POLICY

We are a cashless facility meaning that we are unable to accept cash as a form of payment. Our Box Office and Coat Check will only accept credit and debit. Our Bars will only accept credit, debit, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. Please note that artist merchandise sales are separate and may still accept cash.

 

Dirtwire

Dirtwire stands poised between ancient Mother Earth and modern technology, a blend of ethnomusicology and the psychedelic trance state, gut-bucket delta blues and what the band variously dubs “back-porch space cowboy blues, swamptronica, and electro-twang.” It’s a sound informed by Dirtwire’s travels and performances around the globe, where East meets West and North joins South. From the favelas in Brazil, Femi Kuti’s Shrine in Lagos, Tokyo’s bluegrass clubs, Ayahuasca ceremonies in Central America, Gamelan performances in Bali, desert festivals in the Australian Outback, and the 20th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s modernized new capital Astana, the band spreads its message by building bridges across musical cultures in their own unique way.

Dirtwire plays an array of instruments both ancient and modern, including West African kamale ngonis, jaw harps, space fiddles, whamola basses, Rickenbacher electric 12 string guitars, bowed Banjos and mouth harps from around the globe, all interwoven into modern laptop beat creation. Hailing from the underground west coast electronic bass music scene Dirtwire finds itself at the forefront of experimental electronic music production mixing in their wide array of world instruments with sampled beats and 808’s. Dirtwire’s live shows are a communal psychedelic journey, ranging from down home boot stomping get downs, to bass and blues electronic mashups, to ethereal cinematic beat driven soundscapes. Woven into each is the exploration of where live instruments meet computer production, and where tradition meets experimentation.

Dale Watson

Dale Watson

 

BAG POLICY

Bags (max size 12″ x 6″ x 12″) are allowed and will be searched upon entry. Exceptions will be made for necessary medical equipment and bags for nursing mothers. We encourage you to pack light with only the necessities to make the entry process as smooth as possible.

PAYMENT POLICY

We are a cashless facility meaning that we are unable to accept cash as a form of payment. Our Box Office and Coat Check will only accept credit and debit. Our Bars will only accept credit, debit, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. Please note that artist merchandise sales are separate and may still accept cash.

 

In the late 19th century, a budding young musician by the name of Huddie William Ledbetter left his home in Harrison County, TX after his father sought to discourage the boy’s artistic ambitions by referring to Huddie’s guitar as a “starvation box,” cursed to bring only poverty and famine. That young man would go on to have an unimaginably profound impact on music, becoming internationally recognized as folk blues pioneer Lead Belly. Over a hundred years later, Lead Belly’s musical lineage continues, and his story still provides inspiration for artists, including country outlaw and fellow Texan Dale Watson who is set to release a new acoustic album that puts Watson’s own starvation box front and center.

Starvation Box begins with the captivating title track, which Watson co-wrote with CMA award-winning songwriter Mike Henderson, of Chris Stapleton’s “Broken Halos” fame. The song rides
a bluesy 12-string guitar riff backed by a sparse rhythm track that gives ample room for Watson’s leathery baritone voice. As Watson explains, “Living in Marshall, TX, the area so influential to Lead Belly, I went down the Lead Belly rabbit hole. It led me to a 1957 Stella 12- string guitar just like the one Lead Belly had, which his father called a ‘starvation box.’ I knew I
had to write that song as an ode to Lead Belly. What I wrote was ok but with Mike Henderson’s additions and of course, his slide guitar and harmonica, I think we came up with a fitting tribute that I hope people like.”

There’s plenty more bluesy, folk and roots rock in store on Starvation Box, the album, including an ode to Elvis Presley’s mechanic, “Billy Strawn,” a fantastic cover of Percy Mayfield’s “Like
A Stranger In My Own Hometown,” and the superb closer, a gospel rave-up called “Ain’t Nobody Eveybody Loved.” Catch it on CD and digital available everywhere July 7!

Cash In Hand<br>A Johnny Cash Tribute

Cash In Hand
A Johnny Cash Tribute

 

BAG POLICY

Bags (max size 12″ x 6″ x 12″) are allowed and will be searched upon entry. Exceptions will be made for necessary medical equipment and bags for nursing mothers. We encourage you to pack light with only the necessities to make the entry process as smooth as possible.

PAYMENT POLICY

We are a cashless facility meaning that we are unable to accept cash as a form of payment. Our Box Office and Coat Check will only accept credit and debit. Our Bars will only accept credit, debit, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. Please note that artist merchandise sales are separate and may still accept cash.

 

MIPSO

MIPSO

 

BAG POLICY

Bags (max size 12″ x 6″ x 12″) are allowed and will be searched upon entry. Exceptions will be made for necessary medical equipment and bags for nursing mothers. We encourage you to pack light with only the necessities to make the entry process as smooth as possible.

PAYMENT POLICY

We are a cashless facility meaning that we are unable to accept cash as a form of payment. Our Box Office and Coat Check will only accept credit and debit. Our Bars will only accept credit, debit, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. Please note that artist merchandise sales are separate and may still accept cash.

 

“Book of Fools” is the new Mipso album. Some of the songs feel pretty rock and roll. There’s a looseness and an energy to the 11-song batch, with electric guitars and barroom piano and a good groove on the kit. It has some nice harmonies, too, the tight kind you’d expect from four friends who’ve been singing together for a decade. The songs are really good ones. You’ll want to keep singing them loud in the car and in your head while you walk around the supermarket. They may stick with you for a while.

The album came to life in the North Carolina mountains in the fall along with some long hikes along cold creeks. Then the band (aka Jacob, Joseph, Libby, and Wood) gathered in Oakland, California’s cherished Tiny Telephone Studio and stayed relaxed about the process. They invited long-time buddy Shane Leonard to play drums and produce, turned up the amps, and did a lot of it live to tape. On their sixth record–and after 1100 shows together– it felt fun to try some new sounds on the vibraphone, farfisa, mellotron, moog. Mostly they did what they do best: sing great and play great and write good songs. Maybe it’s better to think of Mipso as an American band, rather than an Americana band. Their attitude toward tradition could remind you of The Dead–or if we leave America, The Band and Fairport Convention. You have to absorb a lot of folk music to feel comfortable messing around with it. “Book of Fools” feels cozy and familiar but also strange, its songs sparkling with hand-me-down melodies and odd sounds and unanswered questions. Unanswerable questions. What would be the point in trying?

Mipso formed in 2012 as an excuse to play together between classes in Chapel Hill. Joseph Terrell came from a family of banjo-playing uncles and a guitarist grandma, and he’d gotten curious again about the string band music he’d heard as a kid. Jacob Sharp was raised on equal parts Doc Watson and Avett Brothers in the mountains of North Carolina and he was hunting for a chance to sing some harmonies. Wood Robinson added a Charlie Haden-esque interest in bridging jazz and grass sensibilities on the double bass, and Libby Rodenbough soon joined on fiddle, unsatisfied by her classical violin training but drawn like a moth toward the glow of old, weird Americana.

Their first album, “Dark Holler Pop,” produced by Andrew Marlin (Watchhouse), included Terrell-penned fan favorites “Louise” and “Couple Acres Greener” and turned recent-grads Mipso (“let’s try this for a year,” etc.) into a full-blown touring band. Although it hung out on the Billboard Bluegrass top 10, its sonic mission statement was in the name: “Dark Holler Pop” was groovier and catchier than its string band contemporaries; its unabashed poppiness belied the songs’ durability and depth.

2015’s “Old Time Reverie” earned them an invitation to perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade wherein they rolled down 5th Avenue on a 12 foot bucket of fried chicken. They got to have breakfast on the green room bus with Pat Benatar and Questlove, but in hindsight the whole experience was a little beside the point. They doubled down on touring, playing upwards of 175 shows a year, honing a telepathic, sibling-esque connection onstage.

2017’s “Coming Down The Mountain,” produced by Brad Cook (Bon Iver, Waxahatchee) added drums and pedal steel and put the band on bigger stages with an expanded Americana sound, including the Rodenbough-fronted title track, another streaming hit and live staple.

Mipso considered hanging up their hats in 2018 while recording “Edges Run” with Todd Sickafoose (Ani DiFranco, Anais Mitchell). After five years of near-constant touring, they had started to wake up in hotel rooms wondering what state they were in; they’d never had pets. The album took off. Sharp’s intimate vocal on “People Change” floated into dorm rooms and coffee shops across America, cementing Mipso as a bona fide streaming success across four albums and placing them in that rarefied strata of bands with three distinct lead singers: The Band, Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, Sonic Youth, The Wailers, The B-52’s, Phish, Mipso. 2020’s self-titled start-fresh album on Rounder Records brought experimental Canadian producer Sandro Perri into the mix and minted a collection with moodier landscapes and unexpected textures such as “Hey, Coyote” and “Big Star”.

Post-pandemic Mipso is starting fresh again with “Book of Fools”. The songs might be their best yet: “Carolina Rolling By” shows Terrell at his most relaxed and confident while the band turns a story of a pill-popping truck driver into a meditative cosmic country-tinged head bopper. “The Numbers” flirts with 60s surf rock while Rodenbough winks and wags a finger at our market-obsessed culture, and “Broken Heart/Open Heart” features Sharp at his most heart-wrenching and earnest. Other standouts “East” and “Radio Hell” will infect you with earworms made of guitar riffs, Robinson’s pretzel-twisted upright bass lines, and saturated “ooohs” drifting in as if on AM radio waves.

Rock, country, indie-Americana: genre descriptors try but miss the point, which is that these four people and only these four people could’ve made this album. Only a decade in the van could’ve made this album. Only four personalities held in sustained, frictional balance could’ve made this album with its sizzling energy and unlikely cohesion. Mipso did it again. These are searching, driving songs from a band that’s still trying to say something different, still going somewhere new.

Willi Carlisle

Willi Carlisle

 

BAG POLICY

Bags (max size 12″ x 6″ x 12″) are allowed and will be searched upon entry. Exceptions will be made for necessary medical equipment and bags for nursing mothers. We encourage you to pack light with only the necessities to make the entry process as smooth as possible.

PAYMENT POLICY

We are a cashless facility meaning that we are unable to accept cash as a form of payment. Our Box Office and Coat Check will only accept credit and debit. Our Bars will only accept credit, debit, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. Please note that artist merchandise sales are separate and may still accept cash.

 

Willi Carlisle

WILLI CARLISLE is a poet and a folk singer for the people, but his extraordinary gift for turning a phrase isn’t about high falutin’ pontificatin’; it’s about looking out for one another and connecting through our shared human condition. Born and raised on the Midwestern plains, Carlisle is a product of the punk to folk music pipeline that’s long fueled frustrated young men looking to resist. After falling for the rich ballads and tunes of the Ozarks, where he now lives, he began examining the full spectrum of American musical history. This insatiable stylistic diversity is obvious in his wildly raucous live performances, where songs range from sardonic trucker-ballads like “Vanlife” to the heartbreaking queer waltz “Life on the Fence,” to an existential talkin’ blues about a panic attack in Walmart’s aisle five. With guitar, fiddle, button-box, banjo, harmonicas, rhythm-bones, and Willi’s booming baritone, this is bonafide populist folk music in the tradition of cowboys, frontier fiddlers, and tall-tale tellers. Carlisle recognizes that the only thing holding us back from greatness is each other. With a quick wit and big sing-alongs, these folksongs bring us a step closer to breaking down our divides.

“Willi Carlisle is an absolute force of nature. From the moment he walks on stage you can’t take your eyes off of him and the minute he opens his mouth you can’t help but hang on every word. Even if the songs weren’t there, the showmanship alone would be worth the price of admission, but the scary part is the songs are just as good as the stories.” — BJ Barham

“Willi Carlisle speaks his truth”
-NPR Music

“Willi Carlisle is just the kind of artist that Americana music needs”
-Paste Magazine

“Willi Carlisle’s latest is good for what ails ya, whatever ails ya.”
-Arkansas Times

“Willi Carlisle is like few things you will experience in music. His songs are strongly literary with rich characters, and his delivery is deeply compelling. And whether he gets you to laughing, crying, feeling unsettled, or infinitely satisfied, Carlisle always leaves a lasting impression.”
-Saving Country Music

“nothing short of beautiful.”
-Outsider

“Peculiar indeed, but ultimately a riveting album in a genre of its own.”
-Glide Magazine

“”Tulsa’s Last Magician” is a poignant biography of a tragic figure, questioning the hypocrisies of the morals we are raised with. It’s an ode to anyone who feels like an outsider.”
-The Boot

“I’ll be damned if the heartstrings don’t get a firm tug.”
-Music Mecca

“Willi Carlisle is like few things you will experience in music. His songs are strongly literary with rich characters, and his delivery is deeply compelling. And whether he gets you to laughing, crying, feeling unsettled, or infinitely satisfied, Carlisle always leaves a lasting impression.”
-Saving Country Music

“A cowboy for this generation”
-SiriusXM The Village

“A rave-up raconteur and a seasoned troubadour in the vein of Ramblin’ Jack Elliott or Utah Phillips, Carlisle sings big, feels everything, spins yarns and takes you to the heart of American characters”
-WMOT — Best of AmericanaFest 2022

Laurel Premo

Laurel Premo is known for her rhythmically deep and rapt delivery of roots music on fiddle, guitar, and vocals. Her solo performances dive deep into traditional and new fiddle music, musically revealing a bloom of underlying harmonic drones, minimalist repetition, and rich polyrhythms. Presenting these sounds on finger style electric guitar and fiddle, Premo fully leans in to the archaic melodies and in-between intonations that connect folk sounds to the mystic and unknown.

Adam Ezra Group

Adam Ezra Group

 

BAG POLICY

Bags (max size 12″ x 6″ x 12″) are allowed and will be searched upon entry. Exceptions will be made for necessary medical equipment and bags for nursing mothers. We encourage you to pack light with only the necessities to make the entry process as smooth as possible.

PAYMENT POLICY

We are a cashless facility meaning that we are unable to accept cash as a form of payment. Our Box Office and Coat Check will only accept credit and debit. Our Bars will only accept credit, debit, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. Please note that artist merchandise sales are separate and may still accept cash.

 

Working outside the confines of the traditional music industry, Adam Ezra and his bandmates – Corinna Smith (fiddle), Alex Martin (drums), Poche Ponce (bass) – built a community of fans through sheer grit and determination, regularly performing hundreds of shows a year for the past two decades without any major label or mainstream radio support. Fusing folk intimacy and rock energy with soul power and pop charm, the band first emerged from Boston in the early 2000s and quickly garnered widespread acclaim for their bold, insightful songwriting and interactive, euphoric performances. From hole in the wall bars and house concerts to sold-out headline shows and dates with the likes of Little Big Town, The Wallflowers, Gavin DeGraw, Train, and The Wailers, Ezra and his bandmates treated every single gig like their last, attracting a die-hard following that believed not just in the music, but in their commitment to activism and social change, as well.

After their tour was cancelled at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ezra brought the show online to continue this commitment and created The Gathering Series which to-date has reached a cumulative audience of 15 million viewers. The bands ongoing daily livestreams since March of 2020 stands as a testament not only to Ezra’s artistic endurance, but also his ability to connect with viewers and provide an accepting and supportive space for newcomers to join his tight-knit community of fans. Through his own experience with COVID, his move across the country, and even his wedding day, Ezra has broadcasted without fail from wherever he found himself each night at 7pm Eastern. In addition to bringing The Gathering Series to the real world as they performed nearly 50 safe, socially distanced shows in parks and backyards around the United States to bring light to fans through music, the band didn’t stop there. Their homegrown festival, The Ramble, hosted by RallySound, raises money and marshals resources to help homeless veterans find safe and dignified housing for the last ten years. While the band was unable to bring the festival to fans live in the year of COVID, they instead incorporated it into The Gathering Series and hosted a 24-hour, nonstop livestream where they raised enough money to help house 64 veterans.

The Adam Ezra Group hit their 500th Live stream show on July 25th, 2021. They have also played an additional 50 backyard socially distanced shows, and are starting to tour heavily again in traditional and outdoor venues. As if this wasn’t enough to keep them busy, the band also embarked on an ambitious new recording series dubbed ‘The Album Project’ which will see the band releasing at least 19 new singles over the next few years. What comes next for the Adam Ezra Group? The future is anyone’s guess right now, and the only thing the Adam Ezra Group knows for sure, is they’ll be out there making music however and whenever they can.

Drake Milligan

Drake Milligan

 

BAG POLICY

Bags (max size 12″ x 6″ x 12″) are allowed and will be searched upon entry. Exceptions will be made for necessary medical equipment and bags for nursing mothers. We encourage you to pack light with only the necessities to make the entry process as smooth as possible.

PAYMENT POLICY

We are a cashless facility meaning that we are unable to accept cash as a form of payment. Our Box Office and Coat Check will only accept credit and debit. Our Bars will only accept credit, debit, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. Please note that artist merchandise sales are separate and may still accept cash.

 

When country music newcomer Drake Milligan moved from Fort Worth to Nashville, he didn’t just come here to sing. He came to listen.

At just 19 years old, armed with an appreciation for the history of country music, Milligan listened in co-writes and recording sessions, where veteran songwriters taught him how to tell a story, legendary producers taught him how to use the mics and studio as a vehicle for his voice, seasoned musicians were willing to back the new guy, and his country music heroes shared insightful advice on how to seamlessly shift from the studio and the stage – letting things snowball from there.

After spending serval years having taken in all that wisdom, he was intent to pen every song on his first release, but he knew that he’d be better off if he didn’t go at it alone. “Word got around, and I was invited into more and more co-writes, and finding my own sound was what that was all about. I wrote for the last three years. I write every day. You realize when you get to Nashville that you have to write thousands of songs before a really good one comes out,” he says.

That’s where his heroes came in. Milligan was able to book writing sessions with industry legends like Bill Anderson (Brad Paisley, Conway Twitty, George Strait), Dean Dillon (Chris Stapleton, George Strait, Kenny Chesney), Monty Criswell (Josh Turner, Trace Adkins, Tanya Tucker), Marv Green (Billy Currington, Brooks & Dunn, Lonestar), Paul Overstreet (Blake Shelton, Randy Travis, Ronnie Milsap), Terry McBride (Easton Corbin, Garth Brooks, Hank Williams Jr.) and Brice Long (Jon Pardi, Gary Allan, Randy Houser).

“The reason I came to Nashville is because all my heroes are here. All the guys who wrote and played on my favorite songs are still so good. They wake up every day and want to write the best song they can. I wanted to learn something from every write. Writing with those songwriters was a rite of passage for me,” Milligan says. “Seeing how excited Bill and Dean and the others are about writing songs was so inspiring to me.”

“We all get here with a different set of influences. Mine were mainly George Strait and Elvis. Along with a lot of Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, and George Jones. That’s what my mom and dad listened to, so my earliest music memories came from that,” he says. “As I was writing, I learned that the best sad songs are bittersweet and even a little hopeful. I love that tradition in country music: how sad songs can help you feel understood. That’s the magic, because not everything in life is sunshine and rainbows.”

Once the songs were written, it was time to find a producer. Milligan enlisted the award-winning music producer and industry icon Tony Brown (Brooks & Dunn, George Strait, Vince Gill) and songwriter/producer Brandon Hood. Brown first discovered Milligan’s talent as a performer when he saw him portray Elvis Presley in the CMT TV series Sun Records, an adaptation of the Tony-winning musical Million Dollar Quartet.

When it was time to record, Milligan opted for seasoned session musicians who played on the music he was raised on. “When I hear Stuart Duncan (George Strait, Alan Jackson, George Jones, Tim McGraw, Clint Black, John Prine, Travis Tritt, Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, Elvis Costello) playing fiddle on my record, it takes me back to all the songs I loved that he played on,” he says. The EP also boasts renowned piano player Gordon Mote (Alan Jackson, Carrie Underwood, Josh Turner, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton). “I figured a guy like that wouldn’t even want to play on a new guy’s record,” he admits, even though he’s more of an old soul at heart than a so-called new guy.

Finally, when it came time to unearth his very own sound, the traditionalist turned to his roots: Texas. His debut album Dallas / Fort Worth via Stoney Creek Records available now is stacked with songs all co-written by Milligan. Featuring 14 tracks, his double-barreled baritone vocals match electrifying honky-tonk hooks, Western swing two-steppers, country pop balladry and more, as Milligan uncorks exuberant themes of trouble-making fun, young romance, life-sustaining love and more. Under his watch, country’s metaphorical saloon doors swing open once more. “As a lifelong Country music fan, it has been my dream make a full-length record that pays homage to traditional Country roots, while still bringing new sounds and energy to the genre,” says Milligan.

Standouts include the trouble-drowning, alcohol-soaked “Over Drinkin’ Under Thinkin’” and his upbeat, rebellious debut radio single “Sounds Like Something I’d Do” that is currently climbing the Country radio charts. But it’s not all up-tempo toe-tappers. It’s in the ballads that he really showcases his deep, smooth as silk vocals. With “Don’t Look Down,” Milligan paints a picture of falling in love on a dance floor, defying gravity thanks to the honky-tonk’s trusty old jukebox, and “She” is a beautifully simple but emotive depiction of a lovesick boy completely in love with a girl, as he lists off everything he loves about her.

“As a native son of the Dallas/Forth Worth area, I’ve always been intrigued by the difference between the two cities. First there’s Dallas: a city determined to prove that everything really is bigger in Texas. Then, just 30 miles to the west, there’s Fort Worth: a city that holds true to its Stockyard roots with a taut rope around its cowboy brand. My goal was to bring those same distinctions to the two parts of this album. On Dallas, the songs have a little more polish on their boots. On Fort Worth, there are nods to those traditional Honky-Tonkin’, Western swingin’, cowboy culture roots that I’m based in.”

When his new album dropped, Milligan burst out of the gates and began to carve out a place for himself on the national scene. Named No. 5 on Billboard’s Emerging Artists chart, his debut album dominated iTunes, scoring him the #1 spot on iTunes Country Album Chart, All Genre Chart and Country Song Chart as well as the #1, #2 and #3 spots on the Video Chart. In an unprecedented move, CMT featured five of Milligan’s videos simultaneously on the network.

Having already received critical acclaim from Billboard, USA Today, Entertainment Tonight, People, Parade, American Songwriter, CMT.com, KTLA, Hollywood Life, Fort Worth Weekly, Sounds Like Nashville, Taste of Country and more, Milligan just made his Grand Ole Opry debut, is currently selling out venues from Detroit and California to Memphis and Forth Worth and will join Gary Allan at NFR in December.