Big Smo on Hick-Hop and His A&E Reality Show

Categories: Q&A

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Twelve years after releasing his first album, the man known as Big Smo has become a superstar. He mashes country and rap into what the mammoth Tennessee native affectionately calls hick-hop. After years of struggle, Big Smo has used every medium at his disposal to finally catapult himself to fame. It took millions of YouTube views of his songs before he could sign with a record label and now finds himself the star of an A&E reality show that bears his name.

A day before his tour takes him to BB King's in West Palm, New Times spoke with Smo about the blessings and pitfalls of fame, why he stuck with music, and what other large men he would like to make music with.


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T-Pain Says, "I May Get Into Some Gypsy Shit" Next

Categories: Q&A

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To say that T-Pain's upcoming Drankin Patna Tour is a natural part of the Tallahassee-bred hitmaker's progression is kinda like saying strippers dig it when rappers make it rain. Both are perfectly true, of course. But neither takes into account the many dips and curves it takes to do what they do.

Sure T-Pain's the cat who made much of his rep with such alcohol-fueled combustions as "Buy U a Drank" (with Yung Joc) and "Bartender" (with Akon), took star turns on Ludacris' "One More Drink" and Jamie Foxx's "Blame It," and also proudly showed off his diamond-encrusted liquor chains on DJ Khaled's clip for "Welcome to My Hood." But he's also the dude who made a fortune off an app, turned Auto-Tune to trap, and sidled up alongside the likes of Flo Rida, Pitbull, and Kanye (with whom he won a Grammy). And one doesn't rise to those kinda heights when they're drunk.

Drinking songs have gotten T-Pain drunk, though -- drunk with power, fame, money, and the sorta self-confidence some people would kill to have. But his business is all about fun, and one gets the impression that however many bottles may have been consumed, at the end of the night, he and his crew have had a blast.

New Times reached the master mixologist in Atlanta during rehearsals for the pending tour (which hits Revolution on Tuesday, August 12), and the chat was nothing but laughs.

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Jesse McCartney on In Technicolor: "There's a Lot to Bite Into"

Categories: Q&A

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Meeno Peluce

When we spoke with Jesse McCartney, the babiest face in R&B, he was in New Orleans about to do a soundcheck. The night before, he'd hung around town getting drinks, eating gumbo. Doing things people do when in the Big Easy.

Whether or not you like the McCartney of old, of Dream Street, of Summerland, or even his last album Departure in 2008, we'd like to recommend you listen to his newest release, In Technicolor. McCartney was involved in the songwriting of every tune on this album, and though it's obvious to make a Justin Timberlake reference, the singer definitely took his cues from older icons. In "Superbad," homeboy sounds like the spawn of Michael Jackson (And yeah, he could be Paris' sib. Who knows where those kids come from?).

Besides digging the album, McCartney is laid back and easy to talk to about anything. He even admitting to being a chocoholic and watching the Kardashians. Check him out here before his show tonight at Revolution Live.

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The Hip Abduction's Influences Include Graceland, Mbaqanga, and Cut Copy

Categories: Q&A

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Like all life forms, the St. Peterburg six-piece the Hip Abduction's origins can be traced to the ocean.

Vocalist David New was playing acoustic solo shows when he turned to his fellow surfers to form a band. Influenced by reggae and utilizing African instruments like the kora and ngoni, the Hip Abduction has created a sound as strong and steady as the tide. Last year's eponymous album even debuted at number five on Billboard's reggae charts.

The band is crossing the state to play an August 15 show at the Funky Biscuit. New Times caught up with New (no relation) to talk about the band's influences, their plans for the future, and how they take listeners to their happy place.


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Vans Warped Tour 2014: Former Mayday Parade Frontman Jason Lancaster Calls Touring Solo, "a Lot Cleaner"

Categories: Q&A, Warped Tour

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Although a couple artists have had disastrous results from when they decide to go solo (Ginger Spice, anyone?), former lead singer of Mayday Parade and Go Radio, Jason Lancaster, seems to be doing just fine. Lancaster recently released his first solo album, As You Are, is expecting a son, and has more time to indulge in hobbies.

At this year's West Palm Beach stop on the Vans Warped Tour, we sat down with the singer to talk about family, his newest release, and the differences between touring solo and with a band.


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I The Mighty Discusses Vans Warped Tour's "No Mosh" Rule

Categories: Q&A, Warped Tour

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The annual Vans Warped Tour is not only a chance to reconnect with your inner awkward punk teen but it's also a good opportunity to get exposed to new music you can add to your Spotify playlists. This year, it just so happened that we discovered San Francisco's I the Mighty.

During their set, we witnessed lead singer Brent Walsh yell into the mic with gusto, "I want to see you guys jump. Jump with us!" There wasn't much of a difference in the crowd or fan base from other groups; it consisted mostly of screaming teenaged fans clad in black experiencing puppy love. However, the music was definitely harder and less of a happy, poppy sound than bands like the Maine (which we interviewed also). I The Mighty played new songs like "Love Your Sin" and older ones like "The Dreamer," which provoked a mini mosh pit. Walsh even got up-close and personal with fans by crowd surfing. The bearded frontman sang while numerous music-hungry fans groped him.

We sat down with Walsh, guitarist Ian Pedigo, and bassist Chris Hinkley to discuss Warped's no-mosh-pit rule and playing two sets a day.

See also: Vans Warped Tour 2014: The Maine Says Pitbull Makes "Pretty Horrible Music"

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Heavy Pets' Big Homecoming at Funky Biscuit's Third Anniversary Tonight: "It's a Gem!"

Categories: Q&A

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For as long as I've been of concert-going age, I've been a Heavy Pets fan. You never knew what to expect at the shows -- and there were many, almost weekly performances. You could be met with sprawling jams or tight, catchy songs. The only certain thing was your dancing feet wouldn't get a break.

And because of that hard work (the group's, not yours) its notoriety in the jam community grew and grew so that now the Heavy Pets is a tour-hardened, well-rounded powerhouse. As a festival darling, it has opened for some of the biggest acts in the scene all while displaying its own unique sound.

After a long stint on the road, the Pets' homecoming involves a gig at the third anniversary party for Boca Raton's Funky Biscuit on Thursday July 24. This awesome little venue in a bit of an unlikely spot will spend the next three days in full jam, blues, and rock swing. The Biscuit has hosted many of the top jam bands in the country and has a very comforting vibe; we wish it well as it ages.

Guitarist and vocalist, Jeff Lloyd, chatted with us about what he's been up to lately, offered a bit of insight into why the band releases EPs instead of LPs, and shared some things it has in store for the near future.

See also: The Heavy Pets' Jeff Lloyd Calls Playing With Crazy Fingers' Corey Dwyer "Privilege and an Honor"

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Parkway Drive's Singer Is a Mellow Guy Who Makes Metalcore

Categories: Q&A, Warped Tour

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Parkway Drive

Parkway Drive, a metalcore band from Australia hit the scene back in 2002. Since then they've come out with four studio albums and are currently writing new material for their fifth.

These heavy music-making Aussies are playing Warped Tour at Cruzan Amphitheatre this Saturday. We had the chance to speak with Winston McCall, the band's lead singer. Not your typical metal dude, Winston is more trad hardcore and lives the straight edge life. Being an Aussie, he of course loves to surf and has even graced the cover of Riptide Magazine.

Winston talked to us about bringing his wife along with him on tour and something about him that would surprise most of Parkway Drive's fans.


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Michael Franti: "I Believe in the Power of Music"

Categories: Q&A

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It's not easy to imagine a performer who goes from punk to populist and still manages to find a common thread in the way he connects with a crowd. Then again, not many artists boast the same amount of energy and enthusiasm as Michael Franti.

Here's a performer who literally embraces his audiences, churning out anthems about peace, brotherhood, and subjects stemming from a spiritual source. He jumps into the concertgoers and paces the farthest reaches of the venue to come face-to-face with his delighted devotees. It's an approach developed over the past 20 years, alongside his band Spearhead, and inspired by his own profound beliefs about uniting humanity through the precepts of compassion and concern.


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The Resolvers Hit Florida with a Sunny Disposition: "We Are Drawn Together by the Music"

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theresolvers.com

South Florida mid-summer can be a grind. In between the inescapable and sustained heat, the sky growls and bellows short sharp shots of rain. Floridians need a happy place this time of year.

Well, we need look no further than to see wherever Floridian big band reggae merchants the Resolvers are playing to find it. In the next few weeks, we are blessed with two performances coming our way. Tonight, the band plays at Fort Lauderdale's Culture Room before a slot at the Afro Roots World Music Festival on August 9 in Miami.

This is a guaranteed good time, where the feel good factor is constantly turned to high, and all get heady on the positive vibes emanating from the stage. The 10 members of this reggae collective are enthusiastic and effective, able to shift effortlessly between the frantic pace of swing to the casual skank of dub. It's an eclectic jumble of an inspired live act, a carnival of squawking brass, lurching rhythms, sweet vocals, and intoxicating anthems.

Moreover, the band has just released two new records Nate's House and Bigger Is Better. Two albums that act as a prequel and sequel to 2012's Big Band Reggae. These are good times for the Resolvers. Bandleader and guitarist Ron Eisner took a breather to tell us more about the band's past, present and future.

See also: Best Reggae Band Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach 2013 - The Resolvers

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