Tim Hensley

My heart if broken this morning learning of the passing of dear friend, Tim Hensley. What an incredible talent. Our thoughts and prayers go to his family and his wife Carla. Here is one of my favorite pics of Tim who performed songs from his solo album on the Grand Ole Opry. It was one of those magical performances that stays in your mind and heart forever. He was an extraordinary talented musician and performed with Kenny Chesney’s band for over 10 years.  May he rest in peace.  I will miss you Timmy.

Wyatt Rice, Kenny Chesney, Buddy Cannon and Tim Hensley at the Grand Ole Opry
Photo by Glenn Rose



Donna Hughes heads to New York City with #1 Album

Multi-award winning songwriter, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist, Donna Hughes heads to New York City this weekend with the #1 album on SiriusXM Bluegrass Junction’s Top 40 Most Played Albums with her Rounder Records release, “Hellos, Goodbyes, and Butterflies.”  Her original song, “Nothing Easy” appears in the Top 40 Most Played Songs.

Donna will perform at The Living Room, located at 154 Ludlow St., NYC, tomorrow, Friday, September 16 at 6:00 pm.  On Saturday, Sept 17th, her band joins her for their performance at the inaugural Bluegrass in the Park studio series at Madison Square Park located Fifth & Madison Avenues.

madhatter-donmears-lyricspage.jpgThroughout the album, there are songs to dance to, songs to listen to and songs that set your toes tapping. It’s a very balanced, slickly produced effort. Not surprising as it was produced by JD Crowe,” says Country Standard Time.  “Hellos, Goodbyes, and Butterflies” includes 15 songs written by Donna including the fan favorites: “Dr. Jekyl,” and “Mid-life Crisis”; the country flavored “Last Thing I Need”; and “If I Had You” that has become a popular wedding song.

The album features: Barry Bales, Adam Steffey, Buddy Cannon, Melonie Cannon, Jenee’ Fleenor, Randy Kohrs, Rob Ickes, Donna Hughes band members, Brian Stephens, Maggie Stephens, and more on this incredible project.

For more information on Donna Hughes, please visit www.DonnaHughes.com

Melonie Cannon Opens Up About Addiction

Melonie Cannon

One of Nashville’s most beloved female vocalists, Melonie Cannon, has announced her recent battle with an addiction to prescription medications. Melonie describes the experience by revealing, “I was in a dark hole and I didn’t even know it.  I became isolated from family and friends. In just a couple of years, I went from being on prescribed medications to being addicted to prescription medications.  It felt like there was no way out because no one would understand what I was going through. Prescription drug addiction has become a huge problem in this country, and I’m not ashamed to talk about it.”

“But with the help of my Daddy, Mom and husband, I gathered the courage to check into a residential rehab facility,” she continued.  “I’ll never forget how alone I had been feeling for such a long time.  But to my complete surprise, I had 14 visitors on my first Sunday in treatment! Just when I thought I didn’t have anybody, I had EVERYBODY and they were all still pulling for me and loved me no matter what!”

Melonie Cannon "And The Wheels Turn"

Melonie was headed to the lowest point in her struggle around October 2008 – the same time as the release of her brand new Rural Rhythm Records album, AND THE WHEELS TURN. The first single, “I Call It Gone” was already having huge success on bluegrass radio, along with rave album and single reviews.  In January of this year, the label continued on track with the country radio release of Back to Earth, a duet with country legend Willie Nelson, plus the release of a beautiful music video filmed on Nelson’s Texas ranch.

Both songs were extremely successful, with “I Call It Gone” hitting #1 in the Sirius-XM Top 40 bluegrass song chart and spending 9 months on Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine’s Top 30 Singles Chart.  “Back to Earth” garnered significant adds on Country Radio stations in the U.S. and Europe, with the video appearing on CMT’s Pure 12-Pack Countdown TV program.  The “Back to Earth” video is still on the program’s voting list at CMT.com.

“I realize I will always struggle with an addictive personality,” Melonie stated.  “Since I grew up the child of an addict/alcoholic, chaos was the only thing I knew! But instead of trying to point my finger at my Dad, he has now become my inspiration to live right each day.  He tried to help me for so long, but one day, he just stopped looking at me.  That was the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with.  But today I am working closely with him again and we are talking about our next record.  I was so scared we would never work together again! But God stepped in and I stepped up!”

With the announcement of her recent struggles, Melonie was thrilled that Rural Rhythm Records will issue a special free download of  Send A Little Love, another moving song from the album produced by Ronnie Bowman and her Dad, Buddy Cannon.  Bowman and John Scott Scherrill, two of her best friends in the music business, composed this heartfelt tune.  “I feel like singing those lyrics to everyone…..’and let it shine, just like the sun.  Let it pour on down on everyone.’ That is how I feel – like the sun is shining down again!  I love life and I’m so happy to be a part of each and every day,” said Melonie.

Rural Rhythm Records recently released a single, “Dark Shadows” to bluegrass radio via their Fresh Cuts and Key Tracks #5 radio sampler CD. Melonie is thrilled to be back focusing on her career – “I am looking forward to getting back to touring next year and supporting this album that is so dear to my heart.”

Rural Rhythm Records
Contact: Sammy Passamano, III

Hope River Entertainment
Penni McDaniel 678.377.3298

Key Artist Management
Dottie Moore

Hope River Entertainment Announces After Hours Showcase Line-Up

Hope River Entertainment is proud to announce the line-up for our After Hours Showcase held during the International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass.  The concert will take place at the Renaissance Hotel, 2nd floor, Fisk Rooms 1 & 2 on Tuesday, September 29th from 11:15 PM – 2:00 AM. This late night concert includes performances by Carrie Hassler & Hard Rain, Brandon Rickman (Lonesome River Band), Audie Blaylock & Redline, Donna Hughes Band, Brand New Strings, Tim Hensley, and Jett’s Creek.

Jett's Creek

Starting off this late night at 11:15 PM – Jett’s Creek, an Ohio based national touring act.  The band will debut songs from their upcoming album, including their new song, Please.  Jett’s Creek band members include: Adam McIntosh, Angie Young, Jon McIntosh, Johnny Wax, Wayne Haddix and Jeff Bird. Jett’s Creek made their IBMA debut last year during our After Hours and we are proud to welcome them back.

Brand New Strings

Brand New Strings will take the stage at 11:35 pm with members: Mike Ramsey (Mandolin), Randall Massengill (Guitar), Tim Tipton (Bass), Stuart Wyrick (Banjo), Matt Leadbetter (Dobro) and special guest, Preston Schmidt (Fiddle.) Massengill and Ramsey each contribute original material to the group and you don’t want to miss this show! “Combine great songs with strong vocals and some hard driving bluegrass and you’ve got Brand New Strings,” said Mike Kelly (WDVX). The group just completed their upcoming new album with producer, Steve Gulley.


Carrie Hassler & Hard Rain
Carrie Hassler & Hard Rain

Carrie Hassler & Hard Rain will welcome the midnight hour with their high-energy performance that will keep you going all night! Hard Rain includes: Keith McKinnon, Kevin McKinnon, Jamie Harper, Travis Anderson and Zach Gilmer. The group is celebrating their highly successful chart album, CHHR2 on Rural Rhythm Records. Their hit single, “‘I Can Go Back Anytime” reached #1 on the May 2009 Bluegrass Unlimited Top 30 single chart. Check out their latest single, “Faith & Hope” along with Carrie’s latest gospel single release, “Amazing Grace.” CHHR will also be performing at this year’s IBMA FanFest, Friday, October 3, at 2:15 pm.

Audie Blaylock

At 12:25 AM, we welcome 2009 IBMA Showcase artist, Audie Blaylock & Redline. The band is nominated for the 2009 IBMA Gospel Recorded Event of the Year award for “Who’ll Sing For Me?” from their current self-titled new album on Rural Rhythm Records. You can catch the band at their booth in the Exhibit Hall during the convention; plus their performances at the IBMA Showcase Brunch on Wednesday, September 30 and IBMA FanFest on Friday, October 2, at 2:45 pm. Audie has been packing our After Hours Showcases since the World of Bluegrass was held in Louisville, KY, and we are glad to have them back!

donna6smallAt 12:50 AM, we are proud to have another official IBMA Showcase Artist, the Donna Hughes Band. Don’t miss their official showcase performance on Wednesday, September 30, at 8:30 pm and at the IBMA FanFest on the Master’s Workshop Stage on Friday, October 2, at 4:40 pm. Donna just finished recording her upcoming new Rounder Records album produced by bluegrass legend, JD Crowe. Convention attendees will get to take home the first cut, “Dr. Jekyl,” as it will appear on the 2009 IBMA Showcase compilation CD!

Tim Hensley

Hitting the stage at 1:10 AM, is Tim Hensley who is finishing up a mega tour as gutarist and vocalist with Kenny Chesney. Tim and guests will perform songs from his current Rural Rhythm/Blue Chair Records bluegrass album, Long Monday. The CD was produced by Kenny Chesney and Buddy Cannon. One of the tracks from the album, “Shady Grove” appears this week at #21 on Sirius-XM Radio’s Top 40 Song chart.

During this time slot, we’ll also have a special surprise for someone, so you don’t want to miss it!

Brandon Rickman

From 1:40 am, we welcome Brandon Rickman with special guests to celebrate his critically acclaimed debut solo album, YOUNG MAN, OLD SOUL on Rural Rhythm Records. The album appears this month at #5 on Bluegrass Music Profiles Top 10 Albums and TWO SINGLES on their Top 30: “Here Comes That Feeling” at #20 and “Always Have, Always Will” at #28. Brandon is, of course guitarist and lead singer for the ever-popular Lonesome Rver Band. The band is celebrating a #1 album, “No Turning Back” (3 months in a row this year) and a #1 single, “Them Blues.”  We also invite you to their IBMA FanFest performance Friday, October 3, at 9:30 pm. The Lonesome River Band is nominated for two 2009 IBMA Awards including Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year for their song, “Struttin’ to Ferrum” and for the Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year for “Darkness Wept.” The Lonesome River Band will perform at the IBMA Awards Show on Thursday, Oct 1 at the Ryman Auditorium.

So please join us, mark your calendar and we’ll see you there!

11:15  pm – Jett’s Creek
11:35 pm – Brand New Strings
12:00 midnight – Carrie Hassler & Hard Rain
12:25 am – Audie Blaylock & Redline
12:50 am – Donna Hughes Band
1:10 am – Tim Hensley
1:40 am – Brandon Rickman

For Interview Requests, please contact Hope River Entertainment at 678.377.3298 or via email.


Photos courtesy of:
Tim Hensley: Photo by Glen Rose Photography
Brandon Rickman – Photo by Anthony Ladd of Kneelin Design
Carrie Hassler & Hard Rain – Photo by Anthony Ladd of Kneelin Design
Brand New Strings – Photo by: Dean Hoffmeyer
Jett’s Creek – Photo by: Only You Photography


May’s Bluegrass Unlimited Charts

Carrie Hassler & Hard Rain
Carrie Hassler & Hard Rain

Congratulations to CARRIE HASSLER & HARD RAIN for having the #1 Single, “I Can Go Back Anytime” from their “CHHR2” album (Rural Rhythm Records)  on the May Bluegrass Unlimited Top 30!  It is not often a female reaches #1 on this chart.  This is the second song written by Jennifer Strickland for this band that has achieved chart success.  Jennifer also wrote “Going on the Next Train” that was on the band’s first Rural Rhythm CD and the song reached #11 last year. 

Lonesome River Band
Lonesome River Band

Also on the May Bluegrass Unlimited Chart is LONESOME RIVER BAND with the #1 ALBUM.  Congratulations and very deserving for their Rural Rhythm Records album,  “NO TURNING BACK.”   They also have TWO SINGLES on the Top 30 – “Them Blues” and “Like a Train Needs a Track.”  Wow – very impressive chart success!

Melonie Cannon
Melonie Cannon

MELONIE CANNON also rises up the chart, hitting #9 for her single, ‘I Call It Gone” from her Rural Rhythm CD, “AND THE WHEELS TURN”  that appears at #13 on the BU Top 15 Album Chart.  The CD was prouduced by Buddy Cannon and Ronnie Bowman.  Amazing songs and vocals.  There isn’t a bad song on the entire album – no fillers – just great music.  You can still vote for Melonie on CMT’s 12 Pack Countdown for her video “Back to Earth” with Willie Nelson.  

Audie Blaylock & Redline
Audie Blaylock & Redline

AUDIE BLAYLOCK & REDLINE appear at #12  on the Top 15 Album chart for their self-titled new album on Rural Rhythm Records.  This is a fast appearance by the band, and also includes “Whispering Waters” at #25 on the BU Top 30 Singles.  This album is receiving rave reviews – if you love traditional bluegrass, you will love this album!  

Jeanette Williams
Jeanette Williams

And last but certainly not least, JEANETTE WILLIAMS with the #14 Single, “Bad Money” (written by the Lonesome River Band’s Brandon Rickman) and the #14 ALBUM, “Thank You for Caring.”  We love this CD and another favorite song from this CD is Dreamer!

Our Favorite Bluegrass Gospel Songs of 2008

Continuing with numerous categories for Best Songs of 2008, we offer our staff pics for Our Favorite Bluegrass Gospel Songs of 2008.


Greenbrier's CD "The Back of the Book"
Greenbrier's CD "The Back of the Book"

BARABBAS by Greenbrier (The Back of the Book, Indie). Songwriter: Russell Allen. Listening to Barabbas makes you feel like you are sitting in the front pew of a small town mountain church.  If you ever want to see this band live, a great opportunity is the Annual Jimbo Whaley and Friends Concert held every March.  Visit www.jimbowhaley.com for concert information or to order your copy of “The Back of the Book.”

Lonesome River Band ("No Turning Back")
Lonesome River Band ("No Turning Back")

DARKNESS WEPT by Lonesome River Band (No Turning Back, Rural Rhythm). Songwriters: Dee Gaskin and Rebecca Bowman. Classic LRB harmony and Andy Ball’s lead vocals will give you chills.  LRB’s album is now available at the label’s site, www.ruralrhythm.com, Amazon, Wal-Mart and many other stores along with the band’s site at:  www.lonesomeriverband.com

Cody Shuler & Pine Mountain Railroad
Cody Shuler & Pine Mountain Railroad

I BOWED ON MY KNEES AND CRIED HOLY by Cody Shuler & Pine Mountain Railroad (Pickin’, Praisin’ and Singin’…. Hymns from the Mountains (Rural Rhythm Records, public domain). It is great to see CS&PMR’s arrangement of familiar gospel classics on this album. It is no wonder this song and many more from this CD, have received huge radio and chart success this year – excellent harmony.  If you would like to purchase the album it is available at numerous sites online including, Amazon, Wal-Mart, the band’s website, and Rural Rhythm Records to name just a few.

Melonie Cannon ("And The Wheels Turn")
Melonie Cannon ("And The Wheels Turn")

MARY MAGDALINE (Why You Cryin’) by Melonie Cannon (And The Wheels Turn, Rural Rhythm Records). Songwriters: Melonie Cannon, Marla Cannon-Goodman, Ronnie Bowman and Buddy Cannon. One of our favorite tracks of 2008….. in any category.   You can purchase the CD numerous places including AMAZON, Wal-Mart, Melonie’s site and Rural Rhythm Records to name a few.

RUN ON by Cody Shuler & Pine Mountain Railroad (Pickin’, Praisin’ and Singin’…. Hymns from the Mountains, Rural Rhythm Records, public domain). Pine Mountain Railroad has long been known for their outstanding harmony and this song is no exception. The five-part harmony on Run On is not often seen in bluegrass and this song is exceptional!

THE BACK OF THE BOOK by Greenbrier (The Back of the Book, Indie). Songwriters are Greenbrier band members, Jimbo Whaley and Roger Helton. This song just makes you smile and the harmony is fantastic. We love it and this is another one of our favorite songs in any category!

Jett's Creek "Supposed to Be"
Jett's Creek "Supposed to Be"

THE PRAYER by Jett’s Creek (Supposed to Be, Indie). Written by band member, Angie Young who also wrote the title track. You just can’t match that family harmony. If you are ever having a bad day or just need to be touched by a song – play it. Angie Young is a vocalist and a songwriter you will want to pay close attention to.  Visit http://www.jetts-creek.com

Rickey Wasson "Losin' in Las Vegas"
Rickey Wasson "Losin' in Las Vegas"

TOUCHED BY THE MASTERS HAND by Rickey Wasson (Losin’ in Las Vegas, Rural Rhythm Records). Songwriter: Rickey Wasson. The guest vocals by Sonya Isaacs and Ben Isaacs are just beautiful. It is worth the price of the CD to read Rickey’s comments about how this song came about.  Rickey’s CD is available at Amazon, Wal-Mart, Rural Rhythm Records and many other stores.

Roots Music Association Nominations Announced

Hope River Entertainment would like to congratulate our following clients for their respective 2008 Roots Music Association Nominations in the Bluegrass Category.  The ceremony will take place during the upcoming Roots Music Association’s Conference and Music Festival in San Marcos, Texas – November 14-16, 2008.  

Donna Hughes, Charlie Sizemore and Buddy Cannon in the Songwriter of the Year category
The Lonesome River Band in the
Bluegrass Artist of the Year category
– Rural Rhythm Records
and Blue Circle Records in the Bluegrass Record Label of the Year category

For more information, please visit http://www.rootsmusicassociation.org

New Music From Melonie Cannon

Melonie Cannon
Melonie Cannon

Rural Rhythm Records is very proud to announce the first single radio release by MELONIE CANNON titled I Call It Gone.” The song is from Melonie’s highly anticipated upcoming new album titled, “AND THE WHEELS TURN” set for release on October 7, 2008. “Melonie is an amazingly gifted and talented individual and we are thrilled to have Melonie as part of our growing Rural Rhythm Records family.”

AND THE WHEELS TURN is the perfect vehicle for Melonie’s pure and powerful voice to shine as she moves through a variety of hand picked songs that showcase her soulful down home vocal style including the up-tempo, fun and liberating first single, “I Call It Gone.” Other album highlights include the passionate and reflective “Cactus In A Coffee Can”, “I’ve Seen Enough of What’s Behind Me” written by Ronnie Bowman and Tammy Rogers King, and “Mary Magdalene (Why You Cryin’), co-written by Ronnie Bowman, Melonie Cannon, Marla Cannon-Goodman and Buddy Cannon.

Buddy Cannon, Melonie Cannon, Willie Nelson
Buddy Cannon, Melonie Cannon, Willie Nelson

Also included is “Back to Earth” the beautiful duet performed with and written by country legend Willie Nelson. “Melonie Cannon is one of the best singers I know. Her new bluegrass album is fantastic. I love her voice anyway, but singing with a great bluegrass band was a good idea. They blend well together. The fact that I got to sing with her on a song I wrote makes it even better. Go Melonie,” said Willie.

The album is backed by an impressive list of musicians that reads like a “Who’s Who” from the Bluegrass & Acoustic music world including: Dan Tyminski, Adam Steffey, Tim Stafford, Randy Kohrs, Aubrey Haynie, Wyatt Rice, Jody King, Barry Bales, Deanie Richardson, and background vocals by Ronnie Bowman, Garnet Imes Bowman, Sonya Isaacs and more. Dan Tyminski stated, “Melonie Cannon’s heartfelt vocals will make you want to listen to her songs again and again.

Raised in the wings of the Grand Ole Opry, Melonie mingled as a young girl with the royalty of country music. She knew them through her father, songwriter and producer Buddy Cannon, a giant himself in Nashville, “Melonie’s voice is a gift, not just to her but to everyone who hears her sing. There are those who are great technical singers and then there are those whose voices transport a listener from where they are into the heart of the song. Melonie’s voice lives there. She was just fourteen when she sang on her first recording session and since then has appeared on many major artist albums including: Willie Nelson, Kenny Chesney, Sammy Kershaw, John Michael Montgomery, and many more.Melonie’s impressive debut solo album in 2004 received a very warm welcome by the media, radio, her peers and especially bluegrass and country music fans. AND THE WHEELS TURN again for Melonie as she clearly establishes herself as new important emerging artist out from the shadows of those major artists that have known what some are now just discovering – MELONIE CANNON has arrived!