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The Boot

By Pat Gallagher

"Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother's house we go ..."

What could be better for a child than spending Christmas at grandma's house and the North Pole at the same time? Impossible you say? Not if your name is Bryan White.

"Hopefully you won't think I'm weird when I tell you this," Brian explains to The Boot, recalling a favorite childhood Christmas memory. "My grandparents had this huge house shaped like a horseshoe. There was this snow white carpet that my grandmother had in the living room where the Christmas tree was. She had one of those old trees that had the fake snow on it, and the tree was white. You remember those ... (and under it) it's like this stain glass plastic circle thing with different color shades. It was like a little gel in front of a light, and it went in circles, and it projected a colorful image onto your tree. It made this squeaky sound from this wheel turning.

"I remember one Christmas night I just felt this real warm, cozy feeling by the tree with that thing going. When everybody went to sleep, I would get up out of bed and go get under the tree with that little thing going, and I would just sleep under the tree. I know that's weird. But as a kid, I felt like I was at the North Pole. There was something neat about it.

"You might want to Google what that little thing is called – the little light crank."

Good news, Bryan. We did indeed look up the "stain glass plastic circle thing with different color shades" and here you go. It's called a Penetray Rotating Lighted Christmas Color Wheel. Sweet memories are made of this.

by Pat Gallagher

Brian White

Bryan White just finished writing a Christmas song -- 'Finding Christmas' -- inspired by his sons Justin, 6 and Jackson, 4.

"The song is about becoming jaded as we get older and when we become adults, there's really no mystery any more," Bryan tells The Boot. "The element of surprise and mystery is gone and ... I'm finding it all again through their eyes. I feel like I am seeing it all again the second time around through them, and it's awesome. They've been really anticipating Christmas since October. As soon as Halloween was over, their Christmas questions were just being fired at me right after that."

Bryan's own childhood recollections of Christmas serve as a blueprint for the memories he wants his children to have.

"I remember when I was a kid [my parents] knew we were just bursting at the seams, so most of the time we got to open one gift on Christmas Eve just to kind of tide us over until the morning. We'll probably do that. We've had our tree up since Thanksgiving. That was a fun process, just getting the tree down and them helping us. They're old enough now that they want to have a purpose with everything, they want to be a part of it."

And before the kids go off to bed on Christmas Eve, they'll have one more task to complete.

"We'll write a note to Santa, and we get the cookies and milk and set that out," Bryan says. "Then the next morning, I'm up before them with the video camera. I got them last year really good coming down the stairs. They were still kind of half asleep, kind of wiping their eyes, but you could tell as soon as they walked in the living room and saw the gifts, they were just so excited. It was just awesome!"

Bryan and his wife, actress Erika Page ('One Life to Live'), also feel it's important to bring the 'real' meaning of Christmas to the forefront.

"I would say we probably spend more time devoted to Christ being born ... why we're celebrating, more than the Santa Claus. We sort of make sure they know -- we try to just let them know that Santa is just one of God's helpers."

Bryan's been busy chasing Donner and Blitzen on his radio tour for the last few months, promoting his latest studio album 'Dustbowl Dreams.' He plans to record his new Christmas song in 2010.

It’s that time of year in which we reflect on the year behind us and count our blessings that we live in a part of the world with a plethora of music that moves the soul. Our favorite 2007 album was the Alison Krauss & Robert Plant album Raising Sand and last year’s top spot on our 2008 list went to Lee Ann Womack’s Call Me Crazy. But 2009 had some terrific albums that will go down as some of my big music collection’s favorites. The ten albums are a wide variety of country genres from more contemporary country to traditional country- and even some inspirational and alt-country stuff thrown in as well. But without any further delay… here’s That Nashville Sound’s Top Ten Albums for 2009

10. Bryan White- Dustbowl Dreams- The title track, “Dustbowl Dreams” could be the most eloquent autobiographical song of 2009. As the “son of a son of an auctioneer,” White talks about things like pressing on and perseverance, losing his way, being bruised and cut and carrying on the dustbowl dreams of his family. In three minutes, White has beautifully told his ten year story. It’s truly a treasure of a song. The song even ends on a personal note- an old clip of his grandfather being introduced as an auctioneer and then auctioning off some piece of farm life.


9. Willie Nelson- Naked Willie- Willie Nelson is a national treasure. We don’t have a more prolific recorder in country music even as he approaches his 75th birthday. Naked Willie is compilation of some of his best work, but not at the same time. Its old recordings, but not ever done this way before. Stripped of all of the “Nashville Sound” of strings and background filler, the first thing you notice on Naked Willie is how much clearer and cleaner these new versions sound. Willie's voice takes on a much deeper timbre, and the guitar and piano are also that much crisper sounding. His distinct voice has never been argued to be the fullest and widest range, but it has been the point of distinction between he and other artists that have come and gone.

8. Tracy Lawrence- The Rock- A promise kept. That’s really the crux of this entire project. When Lawrence first kicked off his career back in 1991 with Sticks and Stones, he made a promise to his parents that he would one day record an inspirational country album.Each song has been carefully selected to match both his vocals and preferred instrumentalization. Each album cut speaks of character, faith, truth, hope, forgiveness and belief. The messages don’t hit your over the head. They’re not preachy. They’re delivered with the same warmth and tenderness that Lawrence has approached nearly every song over his storied career- filled with steel guitar, fiddles, guitars and even a bit of piano.

7. Brad Paisley- American Saturday Night- Paisley has an incredible touch for pointing out the Sienfeldian nuances in life on fun stuff like "Ticks," "I'm Gonna Miss Her," or "Online." His ability to riff on the ironies of life in his funnier songs are a gift. He also has an innate ability to write a song that touch on a true emotional level- songs like "We Danced," "He Didn't Have to Be," or "She's Everything" come to mind. On both sides of that coin, Brad has country music fans loving every word. American Saturday Night is another wonderful combination of this same pen and paper gumbo that country music has come to like about him. Fatherhood may be the reason for a slightly (only slightly) more serious and mature musical theme on this album.

6. Wade Hayes- Place To Turn Around- With an emotive voice and meaningful storytelling lyrics, this is country music that is getting very little representation on the radio dial. What might have not been that unique in the 80’s and early 90’s is fresh and new. Hayes’ emotive baritone voice is a bit throaty and breathless when he sings higher notes or with power. But that so-called-fault in his voice only gives the songs more emotion and feeling. On songs like “Every Time I Give The Devil A Ride” and “Good Day To Go Crazy,” we’re reminded what a great guitarist and underrated instrumentalist that Hayes has always been. This was the most underrated album of 2009 for sure.

5. David Nail- I’m About To Come Alive- From the opening bluesy piano opening, it’s obvious that some of the Mississippi delta blues have seeped into David Nail’s version of country music. And that’s a very good thing. With an album that is as autobiographical as it is soulful, Nail is one of the few artists that have taken a theme and chosen/written songs to fit that or any theme from near start to finish.

4. Holly Williams- Here With Me- It’s almost impossible to disconnect the Williams legacy from this new young artist. What she brings to the table is much of her grandfather’s touch with a song. Her voice, while beautiful, has a unique ability to convey the nuances of feeling including sadness, genuine hurt, joy and disappointment. It’s a very emotional sound- most notable through her slower and quieter songs. This emotive songstress channels the very best of her musical legacy on nearly every song- drawing the listener in with some of the best melancholy textured ballads released this year. Each song has roots to her soul.

3. Miranda Lambert- Revolution- On Revolution we have witnessed the birth of a real artist and one of the true treasures of Nashville. Miranda's spunky Texas tongue-in-cheek sarcasm is alive and well on "Only Prettier," “White Liar” and "That's the Way the World Goes Round." She is and can still be a badass at times- “Time To Get A Gun” and "Sin For A Sin." But this album marks the first time we really get a feeling of the softer side of Lambert. Her incredibly emotive voice, from the wistful whispers to the highest belted notes, shine an emotion previously unseen on tracks like “Virginia Bluebell,” “Dead Flowers,” and “Maintain The Pain.”

2. Jason Eady- When The Money’s All Gone- It’s the songwriting and song selection that gets the highest marks on this incredible album. Each song is as socially relevant with a theme drawn out from the tough times we're living in. One of our favorite tracks of the year is the outstanding, classic story-song "Promises In Pieces." Filled with fiddle and steel guitar, the song tells the confessional and somberly haunting tale of someone who shoots a teller during a bank robbery and whose friend, the only friend that continues to give him second chances, takes the fall for the crime and is hanged. Positively haunting songwriting on nearly every song.

And the top album of the year goes to…

1 . Eric Church- Carolina- A little more edgy and bordering on the Gary Allan Bakersfield sound (a compliment), it’s a full layered sound that compliments his everyman’s voice. It leans rock without ever leaving a true country sound. The album features one of our favorite songs of 2009- “Lotta Boot Left To Fill.” Channeling his inner outlaw, Church slams boy bands, challenges Nashville’s music soul, tells us “I don’t think Waylon done it that way” and “You sing about Johnny Cash, the Man in Black would’ve whipped your ass.” There’s legitimacy to every song on the album- evident as each was written or co-written by his pen. Five great rockers, five ballads, and two somewhere in between- each of them feel like they’re legitimately “owned” by Church.

Bryan White - Dustbowl Dreams

By: Matt Bjorke

Last Updated: November 30, 2009 1:11 PM

After releasing five albums in the 1990s, Bryan White took a break from music to be with his family.  In that time the singer became a much stronger songwriter and the proof of his growth is present on this album, the first release from Bryan since his Greatest Hits album from the year 2000.  Dustbowl Dreams features a more thoughtful artist than when we last heard from him and this is evident on the album's lead single “The Little Things,” a song that finds Bryan ruminating on all the simple pleasures that get him through the day, singing: “It’s the little things that mean the world to me.”  Melodically the song is firmly contemporary but the mandolin and fiddle are clearly in the mix as is the steel guitar.  These production flourishes remind folks that Bryan White has been and always will be a country artist; in fact he may be more ‘traditional’ than quite a few artists who are making music these days.

“Get It Together” recalls the tempo-filled hits of songs like “So Much For Pretending” yet somehow this Derek George & Darryl Burgess-penned track feels extremely joyful and just plain fun.  “When You Come Around” is a painful song to listen to and this song, perhaps more than any other track on Dustbowl Dreams showcases Bryan White’s songwriting more than anything.  The song, with gentile piano, fiddle and mandolin notes guiding the melody, finds Bryan bearing his soul about the relationship he wishes he had with his alcoholic father.  The pain in the lyric is evident while Bryan retains the same hopeful outlook that all children have for their parents.  This is country music folks, bearing your soul for the entire world to hear in the hopes that this ‘cheap therapy’ can help heal a wound or two.  It also shows that ‘stars’ aren’t immune to the same thoughts and feelings as the ‘every day person’ is.

The title track of the record is a sweet reminder of the power of home and where we grow up and how it has affects our life, even when we don’t know it.  The song touches on Bryan’s fast success as a recording artist while also showcasing the strength that he gets from his home state and family.  Bryan admired Steve Wariner for a long time and while they became fast friends in the 1990s, they haven’t recorded together before now, on the track “Hands of Time,” a song Steve first recorded a decade ago.  The song not only is a duet but it also features Wariner on lead guitar.   The song is a fun track that would sound great on the radio, if given the chance.  “Beautiful Place” feels like something you might hear on a Kenny Chesney record with the conga drums and the general summery melody but the lyrics find Bryan singing about how he doesn’t need those islands and to ‘escape’ as the woman in his life is that for him.

While Bryan’s commercial (mainstream) career with Asylum/Warner Brothers Records was ending in 2000, his personal life was getting stronger and better.  That personal life centered around his wife Erika Page, an actress.  Their relationship has continued to grow has given the artist the confidence to return with this album.  Bryan serenades his wife on “Erika’s Song.”    The album ends with a co-write with one of my personal favorite songwriters, Marcus Hummon.  The song is “On My Own (Hymn of the Road)”  and it tells the story of a musician who leaves home to find stardom only to realize that you can go home again (before setting off again).  It’s a fitting end for Dustbowl Dreams and a wonderful reminder that even after all these years, Bryan White has come back to country music and sounds recharged, refreshed and, if this record is any indication, ready to bring more great music to fans for years to come.

Bryan White co-wrote 8 of the 10 tracks on this album.

The Tennessean

By:  Cindy Watts

 

When the White family gets back, Bryan will once again get busy telling people about Dustbowl Dreams. The CD is Bryan's first of new material in about 10 years.

 

"In the last few years I've taken time off, and this is a result of all this time off," said the singer. "I think anyone who is a fan is going to hear something familiar on this CD, but it's a lot heavier subject matter. The struggles and the joys of life, that's what I wrote about and that's what this record is about."

 

The CD is available at www.bryanwhite.com and wherever digital music is sold.

 

The singer has two Nashville shows coming up. He'll play a handful of acoustic songs on Dec. 2 at Mercy Lounge as part of Compassion's Benefit For The Global Food Crisis (alongside Blaine Larsen, Julie Roberts and others; $10 tickets are available through TicketWeb.com), and he'll stop on Dec. 8 at Bluebird Cafe for a 9 p.m. benefit show with Micheal Peterson, Rick Barron and Jonathan Cain for the Mary Parrish Center.

 

 

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