(L-R): Tom Gossin and Rachel Reinert of Gloriana; Warner Music Nashville SVP brand management and sales Peter Strickland; and Gloriana's Mike Gossin with their plaques celebrating the success of "(Kissed You) Good Night." (Photo: Frederick Breedon IV/Billboard)
" Gloriana is huge!" CAA's John Huie said backstage last night at Billboard and Pepsi's Summer Beats Concert in Nashville. "They are having great success with a hot single, and Jana Kramer is on fire and gorgeous. What else would you do tonight? Stay home and watch the Olympics?"
Gloriana and Kramer were two of the acts who performed -- Jerrod Niemann, Randy Houser and Easton Corbin also played stellar sets -- for a packed house of fans and Music Row's elite at the Cannery Ballroom for the second in Billboard/Pepsi's Summer Beats series. (Katy Perry performed in Los Angeles for the first; there will be one more in New York next month.)
It seemed like a great thing to do with a bunch of my friends," Houser told Billboard as he arrived. 'It's gonna be a great night of music with people I respect."
Jerrod Niemann (left) and Randy Houser arrive at the Pepsi/Billboard Summer Beats Series in Nashville. (Photo: Frederick Breedon IV/Billboard)
With such a solid lineup, the mood in the room was downright celebratory: Country has been on a roll over the past few years, and the evening served as a sampler of what the next arena-level headliners might be, and chatter among the touring execs in the room revolved around the international potential for these and other country artists; handlers are thinking globally in country more than ever. All of these acts could play, and it was inspiring to see this many young artists who can put on such strong sets so early in their careers. Country is on fire -- and last night you could feel the heat.
The evening opened with a 45-minute set from Gloriana (that was streamed live on Pepsi.com - check out highlights here) that included their breakthrough hit "Wild at Heart" and Rachel Reinert taking lead on a cover of the Joe Walsh classic "Rocky Mountain Way." Before performing their current hit, "(Kissed You) Good Night," currently at No. 2 on the Hot Country Songs chart, Gloriana invited a young couple onstage, who were on their first date. The couple danced and actually had their first kiss on stage while Gloriana played and the crowd cheered - even the most jaded industry types were seen grinning sheepishly at the scene.
The band's set showed a remarkable amount of energy considering the fact that "we've been up since 3 a.m. East Coast time!" Gloriana's Mike Gossin told Billboard.biz before the band's set. Reinert added, "We did 'Good Morning America' and we hopped on a plane. We just got here a couple hours ago. We've been getting ready for the show and running around doing a bunch of things. It's been a busy day."
It's only going to get busier: The trio's new album, "A Thousand Miles Left Behind," hit streets today (July 31) and the they'll be promoting it with an appearance Fox & Friends All-American Summer Concert Series August 3 and then head to Chicago the following day for an album release party at Joe's Bar.
(L-R): Kathryn Woodard of McGhee Entertainment, Jana Kramer, and writer Catt Gravitt arrive at the event. (Photo: Frederick Breedon IV/Billboard)
"This is an amazing event - the venue is cool," Gloriana's Tom Gossin said of the Cannery. "We've never played here and to get to come home throughout our hectic schedule is always nice. We get to see family members and loved ones. To be a part of this and build that relationship with Pepsi is really cool for us. We love their product."
Billboard's Ray Waddell (left) poses with Cannery Ballroom co-owner Chark Kinsolving as the Summer Beats Series rocks on in the background. (Photo: Frederick Breedon IV/Billboard)
Backstage, immediately following their set, Gloriana was presented with a plaque celebrating the success of "(Kissed You) Good Night."
Huie attributed the band's breakthrough to their "persistence, work ethic and positive attitude. They always have a smile and are ready to tackle the next thing, always willing to do whatever it takes," he says. "There are doubters, and they're proving them wrong."
(L-R): Stephanie Bentley, producer Matt Serletic, manager/Emblem Music Group president Dean Serletic, and Gloriana's Tom Gossin. (Photo: Frederick Breedon IV/Billboard)
Producer Matt Serletic and his brother Dean, manager and Emblem Music Group president, were on hand to support the group. Also taking part in the backstage revelry were Huie, Warner Music Nashville's SVP Sales & Marketing Peter Strickland and Warner Music Nashville VP Publicity Tree Paine.
"It's an honor to have Gloriana be a part of this to celebrate country music," Dean Serletic said of the concert series. "We're glad to be here."glad to be here."
(L-R): John Huie of CAA Nashville, Dean Serletic, Ryman Auditorium's Sally Williams and CAA's Brad Bissell get some air. (Photo: Frederick Breedon IV/Billboard)
In addition to producing Gloriana's album, Matt Serletic has been working on a new album for Joe Cocker and recently completed the new Matchbox Twenty album, "North," due Sept. 4.
"I also have a software company called Music Mastermind that has this thing called Zya," Matt told Billboard.biz. "We've taken everything we know about music and driven it into a fun game experience - you play it like a game but you can make music."
Billboard's Ray Waddell stops to talk to CAA's Dennis and Williams of the Ryman Auditorium. (Photo: Frederick Breedon IV/Billboard)
During the evening's performances, the VIP area was filled to capacity with such movers and shakers as Cal IV Entertainment president Daniel Hill, Zamek World Marketing CEO Paul Zamek and Billboard publisher Tommy Page. Also spotted during the evening were McGhee Entertainment's Scott McGhee, Kathryn Woodard and Greg Hill; Sony Music Nashville's Chris Melancon; CAA's Rod Essig, Marc Dennis and Brad Bissell; William Morris Endeavor's Mark Roeder, Steve Hauser, Rush Davenport, Braeden Rountree and Neil Vance; G7 Marketing's Diana Garcia and Niki Tyree; Ali Harnell from TMG/AEG Live; Outback Concerts' Ryan Huie; Multiply Live's Matt Simpson; 12South's Ruth Gonzalez; SallyWilliams from the Ryman Auditorium; Bob Skoney of the Nashville Municipal Auditorium; Tracy Gershon from Red Light Management; Easton Corbin managers Trey Turner and Chris Alderman and tour manager Chris Tate; and songwriter Catt Gravitt, who co-wrote Kramer's latest single, "Why Ya Wanna," currently at No. 11 on Hot Country Songs.
(L-R): Smiles all around for Rod Essig of CAA Nashville; Greg Hill of McGhee Entertainment; Kramer; and Scott McGhee and Kathryn Woodard of McGhee Entertainment. (Photo: Frederick Breedon IV/Billboard)
"It's great to be on a bill with your friends," Kramer told Billboard of the lineup. "My life right now is just [her current] tour." Asked what the most outrageous thing that's happened on the tour was, she said, "Probably having Brad Paisley come on stage with me. He came onstage to do 'One of the Boys' and the Sheryl Crow cover I do, 'All I Wanna Do.' "
Houser says he's had "a very busy summer, which translates to a good summer." As for the most outrageous thing he's done lately? "I had a baby," he exclaims with a hearty laugh. "He'll be five months on Aug. 6. I love it. It's the best thing I've ever done."
Houser and Niemann pose with props from the brand of the day. (Photo: Frederick Breedon IV/Billboard)
During his set Jerrod Niemann previewed new music from his upcoming sophomore album, "Free the Music," which drops Oct. 2. "I'm very excited about the new record. We've worked on it for two years and I was dying to get it done. It's done now and it's a huge relief," he told Billboard.biz. "What really made me excited about tonight -- other than getting to see a lot of my buddies and hear their great music -- was having the opportunity to debut a lot of the new music."
Williams and Waddell pose with promoter Paul Zamek, president of Aderra MediaWorks. (Photo: Frederick Breedon IV/Billboard)
One of the highlights of Niemann's set was "One More Drinkin' Song," a fan favorite from his debut album. When asked what alcoholic beverage he pairs with Pepsi, Niemann recalled an interesting concoction created by pal Lee Brice. "Lee mixed Pepsi, Jagermeister and Jack [Daniels] all together," he says. "He was trying to do it to wake up Rhett Akins. He thought he'd mix all this up and pour it in his mouth. Rhett woke up and said 'That's pretty good! What is this?' So he mixed Jack, Jager and Pepsi and we drank it on our whole Higher Education tour. We did a college tour last year and we drank that the whole time."
Easton Corbin, whose performance closed out the night, seemed a bit skeptical about ever trying that particular cocktail. "Pepsi is pretty good by itself," he said.
Easton Corbin hits the stage for his Summer Beats performance. (Photo: Frederick Breedon IV/Billboard)
Corbin previewed the title track from his Mercury Nashville sophomore album, "All Over the Road," which streets Sept. 18. "I'm so excited about this album," the Florida native says. "I feel like it shows a little growth as a new artist from the first record, but it's country right down the line, which I'm proud of."
(L-R): Alex Merchan of the Hard Rock Cafe stops to chat with Pepsi's Boz Saint John and John Huie of CAA Nashville. (Photo: Frederick Breedon IV/Billboard)
Corbin neatly summed up what was a great night for Billboard, Pepsi and country music. "Billboard and Pepsi are two such iconic brands that have a lot of integrity, and it's always good to be involved with people like that."