The Big Loud-signed trio of HARDY, ERNEST, and Ben Burgess have emerged as leaders of a cultural shift happening amid Music City’s pop resurrection
“Country fans want heavy words over heavy songs. This may interest you : Our city: independence and renewal of business owners.”
The simple secret that drives the success of the Big Loud Records singer-songwriter trio of Ben Burgess, ERNEST, and HARDY was revealed by the latter as he sat, relaxed on a tour bus before a special Whiskey Jam event at Midtown Nashville’s Losers Bar.
The capacity crowd at the event arrived three hours early in the middle of a 100-degree heat index to wait to celebrate in the rock-meets-rap with a heavy dose of calculated culture that has keyed over a dozen No. 1 hits written or performed by the trio in less than a decade. The artists currently occupy the genre’s most commercially successful and mainstream lane.
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Historically, mania occurs in every clash of country, rock, blues or hip-hop. The Rolling Stones had the Altamont Free Concert from 1969, Kid Rock was on the line at the now famous 1999 edition of Woodstock, and for Big Loud Records at Losers Bar, he gave part of the floor to the packed balcony and hit a gas line. This caused the fire marshal to arrive at the scene. The incident delayed the start of the event by two hours. Thankfully, this is a blip on the radar in the legendary annals of musical panic.
HARDY and ‘Hixtape’ unify Nashville’s country community
“It’s really cool to be able to blow up who I think are some of the best artists in the genre – regardless of their experience – and see them succeed,” HARDY said of the “Hixtape” series ” baptized in Philadelphia, native MS. See the article : Paisley Craze brings sixties music to town squares and The Villages. three years ago.
Basically, the releases reflect the concept of the early 2000s where hip-hop producers found artists for unique, street-ready hip-hop tracks. Instead, HARDY compiles his radio and honkytonk favorites as songs he has written, aimed at an audience that loves country pop in the main.
Around 50 artists have appeared on 40 tracks on the streaming-ready collection of material that has integrated well into terrestrial radio and streaming playlists. Keith Urban and Lindsay Ell were among those who appeared in Losers, but artists including Dierks Bentley, Ashland Craft, The Brothers Osborne, Marty Stuart, and Lainey Wilson have also been featured.
Conceptually, what has allowed “Hixtape” to succeed is also what has keyed the trio’s rise as artists and their creative aesthetic as defining the cultural tone of country music’s pop front.
“Guys in ball caps working hard aren’t a bunch of pro guys looking at wrestlers surrounded by hot girls,” says HARDY of the kinds of stars his solo and collaborative efforts celebrating them. Songs like “Rednecker,” “One Beer,” and his hardest rock-inspired single to date, “Sold Out” (“Yeah, I can buy a Maybach / But I’m still in my F-150) i all for elevating everyday lower middle class life to high commerce.
“People like me, Morgan [Wallen], Luke Combs, we’re all talking about things that we — and everybody else — know way too well.”
HARDY points to the work of Trace Adkins and Rodney Atkins as essential to the goal of keeping the fire burning for accessible blue-collar rock themed country music after the era defined by the likes of Kid Rock in dabble in the lane.
“I’m proud to bring this culture back to country music,” said HARDY.
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Morgan Wallen’s signing to Big Loud Records in 2016 initially brought the crew together, as they all worked with the then 23-year-old as a co-writer. See the article : Portland’s Got The First Bar The theme of Classical Music. Six years later, Burgess, HARDY, and ERNEST are credited with writing 60% of the material Wallen has released between two double platinum albums – his 2018 debut “If I Know Me” and follow-up 2021 “Dangerous: The Double Album.”
Burgess is a 37-year-old native of East Dallas, Texas, who won Broadcast Music Inc.’s 2020 Song of the Year award. for co-writing Wallen’s initially released No. 1 country radio hit in 2016 and her chart-topping hit “Whiskey Glasses.”
His success in the Music City follows a tough journey that saw him take his self-confessed “troubadour” desires to Austin, unlike one of his idols, Willie Nelson. His early success as a songwriter there included laying down songs like the Jonas Brothers’ 2010 single “Chillin’ In the Summertime.” The Texan then moved to Los Angeles, where he states in an interview in 2020 that he “ran out of town for sounding ‘too country.’
He settled in Nashville in 2015, earning a contract with Warner Chappell Music Publishing.
Tireless ambition has guided his path as much as discovering that Nashville is “nothing but all open doors,” says the singer-songwriter whose debut Big Loud single as an artist (signed in 2021), “Tears The Size of Texas,” has been released to critical acclaim.
“This town is ready to do anything,” Burgess continues. While in Los Angeles, he believes he wasn’t a good fit because the EDM and hip-hop focus of pop music in the 2010s was unsuitable for the breadth of his musical desires. “Compared to LA, the Nashville songwriting community is deep, strong, collaborative and supportive,” he adds.
As for the unique spice he brings to the country-defined cultural melting pot that Nashville is becoming, Burgess “we’re trying to make generational music here, not throwaways that you’ll forget them after they run up the dang charts” The award-winning songwriter adds that “an inclusive community putting their best foot forward to expand the scope of the city” is his most significant goal.
‘You dream of these moments’
In 2021, Nashville native ERNEST was known in boardrooms and hyper-conscious country music circles as a writer with credits with Chris Lane, Jake Owen, Sam Hunt (“Breaking Up Was Easy in the 90’s”), and Wallen. He played a Whiskey Jam on the event’s tenth anniversary at the Ryman. There, he appeared for the first time in “Flower Shops,” a song he had written and which Wallen had agreed to collaborate on.
“No one knew that time, but this time, yes, everyone was singing along,” ERNEST, sweaty on a muggy night, told The Tennessean immediately after stepping off the stage. He credits his success to what he feels is the organic nature of artists and fans alike in Nashville, having fun while remaining focused on the goal of “establishing this town and this scene, at this height, for many years to come.”
After the official release of “Flower Shop” in January 2022, clothing brand Stevenson Ranch released a trucker hat specially adapted for “Flower Shop” that the artist sometimes wears on stage.
When ERNEST appeared at Whiskey Jam, he was dressed in a boldly colored and custom embroidered black motorcycle vest that showed off his pride in being from Music City.
“I’m a hard-working, well-made hometown kid,” says ERNEST, in self-effacing understatement.
“I don’t know how to explain this. It’s amazing. You dream about these moments,” says HARDY, who is quick to find comparisons to the modern country-meets-rock moment (and more) in the early 70s from the work of acts such as Lynyrd Skynyrd and Waylon Jennings, along with acts from the 80s including Aerosmith and Motley Crue.
“As long as you’re respectful and nice to people, it’s fun,” he said. “Being on stage is about letting loose that ** evil thing inside us all.”