Sunday Spotlight – STEEL BLOSSOMS! @steel_blossoms

I am SO excited to turn my blog site over to Hayley and Sara today, of the amazing duo, STEEL BLOSSOMS! I had the pleasure of hearing these girls live at Love & War in Texas when they were opening for the artist I went to see. I had never heard of them and they blew me away! So, I’ll turn it over to these multi-talented young ladies and let them tell you about themselves! Take it away, Sara and Hayley!

Hello! It’s nice to virtually meet all of you and I hope you’re surviving this strange time in the world. Let us first introduce ourselves. You’ll be hearing from us both, Hayley Amour and Sara Zebley, as we make up the female fronted, Nashville-based duo, Steel Blossoms.  


We met about 12 years ago at a music festival in Pittsburgh, PA near where both of us grew up, but it wasn’t until 3 years later when we joined a band together that we actually became friends and started singing full time with each other. It was instant chemistry on stage and off. We were both on the path to being elementary teachers for life when we convinced each other to give it all up to move to Nashville in 2014. It’s been a hell of a ride ever since. 

Moving to Nashville was an opportunity to make music a full time career instead of a hobby and we quickly began performing regularly on Broadway 4 hours a day, 7 days a week. About a year in, we discovered that traveling the country was going to be key in expanding our following so we started performing “house concerts,” a unique experience that has gained us lifelong relationships with fans who have turned into friends. Seriously, you’ll question ever going to a regular concert again after attending an intimate house concert- it’s that fun!! 

Fast forward a few years later… In January 2019, we signed a record deal with emerging Americana label, Billy Jam Records, under the direction of hit songwriter Jerry Salley. That was huge for us, as it gave us a boost in the industry and a team to rely on for some of the legwork it takes to promote an album. We’ve been so lucky to have since hired a band of phenomenal musicians (who are literally our best friends now), buy a van (her name is Blonde Betty White), and tour the country telling the stories behind our original songs. 


I remember us saying to each other “How in the world will 2020 ever top 2019? So many amazing things happened in 2019 and there’s no way we’ll outdo it!” And then we got a phone call that changed everything. We may have both blacked out during the conversation in disbelief, but at the end of that 5 minutes, we were the opening act for Alan Jackson’s 2020 tour. WHAT?! Crazy, right? We screamed, cried, called our families and swore them to secrecy, cried some more, questioned whether it was a dream, then got to work preparing for one of the biggest moments of our career. 


January 10 and 11, 2020 was the first weekend of the Alan Jackson tour and we were beyond excited that the very first show was in Cincinnati, OH, equal distance between our Nashville friends and our Pennsylvania friends and family. It was one of those surreal weekends that we struggle to put into words. Let’s try though. 

First of all, we got to ride a tour bus for the very first time (not as glamorous as one would think- those bunks are tiny!!). We rode the bus with a lot of the sound engineers and techs from the show and that alone was such a neat experience to see what behind the scenes work goes into making the performance night run smoothly. Alan Jackson’s band was particularly welcoming and genuine, which was not taken for granted on our parts. We got to watch their sound check and hang out with some of the musicians throughout the evening. Alan’s fiddle player, Ryan, is from our hometown- small world! Hearing some of our favorite songs in person from AJ was also nothing short of amazing. Imagine hearing “Remember When” and “Little Bitty” from a few rows back in an empty arena before 13,000 people were on their way to fill the seats. PINCH ME MOMENT times infinity. 

We had the honor of performing 5 songs to start the night off and saying we were terrified and filled with adrenaline would be the understatement of the year. We were all pleasantly surprised that the butts were in the seats so early on and we had over 10k people watching our performance. The most amazing part of this experience was realizing that we belonged on that stage. I know it sounds crazy considering we’ve been working our way up to this moment consistently for years, but we really weren’t sure before that first performance if our usual stage show was going to translate to such a large atmosphere. When it did and we proudly finished our last original song of the night “You’re the Reason I Drink” with the whole audience singing the hook, we realized we had caught the bug. Both of us cried, hugged our band members, and decided that we NEVER wanna not be doing shows like that. Honestly, after feeling what we felt on that stage, I’m not sure why musicians do drugs. 


Thanks for getting to know us through these stories and we look forward to not only continuing the Alan Jackson tour once the world is in better shape, but we hope and pray that while you are reading this, you and your loved ones are safe, healthy and managing the uncertainty of these times. 

Follow The Steel Blossoms:

Spotify link to SB latest album

Sunday Spotlight – Resources for Musicians affected by COVID-19

Brian Paden, a member of the Gordon Law Group in Nashville, sent this list of resources to me and I want to share it with everyone else. Gordon Law specializes in entertainment law. All of our musicians are suffering and yet many are carrying on with Facebook concerts, driven by the need not only to make money but to share their music. It is as vital to them as breathing.

So, I want to share what Mr. Paden sent and I hope there is something beneficial in this. Please help spread the word by sharing everywhere!

If you are a creative who is struggling especially hard due to the effects of the coronavirus, you should be aware of the resources that are available to help you weather the storm.

First, the CARES Act was signed into law a few days ago. The main impact for creatives is that this legislation makes non-traditional employees (such as freelancers and gig workers – yes, even musicians) eligible to receive unemployment benefits where they were not able to receive relief before. Instead of scraping by like normal, folks in the gigging community can receive unemployment benefits.

The CARES Act also, among many other things, (i) expands unemployment benefits by $600/week for up to four months, (ii) incentivizes states to eliminate “waiting week” provisions so unemployed workers can receive benefits immediately, and(iii)  provides federal funding for an addition 13 weeks of unemployment benefits through December 31, 2020, for workers who have utilized all available state unemployment benefits.

If you run a small business (like an independent studio, publishing company, or marketing firm) the CARES Act also provides loans for employers with few than 500 employees to help you make payroll and cover other expenses from February 15 – June 30. These loans may be forgiven if the money is used for payroll, interest payments on mortgages, rent, and utilities.

In addition to the CARES Act, private organizations are also doing what they can to help creatives. Some programs are genre-specific, some are only for members, and some even cover support staff who are not creatives (like stage crew). Check out the links below to see if there is an organization or program that can help you outlast the coronaverse.

Maybe there is something in all of this that will be helpful. Together we’ll get through this hard time!

South Austin Moonlighters

It’s been a while since I turned the focus of this blog toward my other passion, MUSIC!

I want to share with you a fabulous group of talented musicians I recently had the opportunity to interview – The South Austin Moonlighters!

L-R Lonnie Trevino, Phil Hurley, Chris Beall, Daniel James

Inside the acoustic room at The Guitar Sanctuary in McKinney Texas, ready to conduct a quiet interview with The South Austin Moonlighters, the first band member comes through the door.

Daniel James oohs and aahs over the vast collection of guitars hanging on the wall, grabs one, plays a sizzling riff, then puts it back on the wall, turns around and says, “I’m just the drummer.”

That scenario set the tone for a lively interview with The South Austin Moonlighters.

The one quintessential thing that sets this group of musicians apart from other bands, is the individual talent each member brings to the table. There is no front man with sidemen backing him. These guys are all in this together on equal footing. Each member plays multiple instruments, writes, and shares in the vocals. Everyone is invested.

I wondered how this group found each other and came together.

“We were playing at South by Southwest eight years ago, and someone just mentioned that we should get together and jam sometime,” said Lonnie Trevino. “So, we agreed, thinking nothing would ever come of it, but it did. Then I booked some gigs at the Saxon Pub, and those were pure practice sessions. Three years later, when we brought Chris Beall in, it really legitimized the band. We decided this was something serious and really, really good, and it took off from there.”

And where did they come up with the band name?

Phil Hurley answered. “We were all working in other bands at the time. So, with a new project, we’d be moonlighting.”

Their newly released album, Travel Light, was recorded at a destination studio in Maurice, Louisiana and produced by New Orleans songwriter, Anders Osborne.

When I listen to any new record, there are certain tracks that stand out to me, and it always has to do with the words. That is very much the case with Travel Light.

Chris Beall, along with Amy Hooper, composed the title track.

“I’ve never been very good at writing fiction. I have to have a personal connection with the things I’m describing,” said Chris. “So, with “Travel Light,” Amy and I sat down and essentially wrote what was happening in our lives.”

Phil added. “I think one of the things that Chris is so good at, and something that we all aspire to, is to have the ability to tell something extremely personal and yet somehow give it a universal meaning that anyone can relate to.”

That describes most every song on this album. I knew there had to be a story to go along with “Machine Gun Kelly.”

“Danny Kortchmar wrote that song,” said Chris. “I wish I had written it. Our record label president heard us playing the song live and wanted us to include it on this album.”

Another song that I found to be compelling was “Dug Down Deep,” written by Chris Beall.  

“It’s a true story, a miracle that happened in my life,” said Chris. “It’s about my dad. He was a motorcycle racer, and he was badly injured in an accident when I was three. The doctor came out to tell my mom that he was deceased when they suddenly got a pulse. So, it was this progression every step of the way. They said he’d probably never come out of the coma, but he did. Then they said he’d never be able to walk again, and he did. So, it’s all about digging down deep and finding that well of strength to overcome anything.”

In this collection of compelling story songs, “Daylight Again,” closes out the album with a fusion of harmony that the South Austin Moonlighters are well-known for.

Phil Hurley said, “This is a song that Crosby, Stills, and Nash closed each set with back in the day. We loved it, so, Lonnie looked around and found a version with more verses. It is very provocative, kind of a civil war story that we knew we had to approach differently. It was early one morning in the studio. Chris picked up this beautiful little parlor guitar that belongs to Anders Osborne, and I grabbed something else, and we started playing. It turned out his guitar was tuned to A432 instead of A440. A432 tuning is known as spiritual tuning. Anyway, we just started singing, and it came together on such an incredible level. That was the base we built the track from.”   

Photo by Darleen McAdams

I had the pleasure of watching the South Austin Moonlighters perform inside the beautiful Guitar Sanctuary venue. While it was a joy to meet and interview this talented group of men, witnessing the magic they make on stage climaxed the entire experience.

If you have a chance to catch a live show, I highly recommend it. If not, at least pick up this new album, Travel Light, and be prepared for pure entertainment.

This song give me goosebumps! The harmony is perfection!