Cali Rodi: a musical glitter bomb. You’ll most likely find this bubbly blonde igniting the stage with ear candy that tastes more sassy than sweet. She is a musical ambassador for the TJ Martell Foundation and its fight against cancer, as well as a frequent performer for the PGA Tour’s military outreach initiative, Birdies for the Brave. Cali most recently caught the attention of superstar Keith Urban, who signed her to his publishing company, BOOM. Her first single “Party Favor” was in rotation on Radio Disney for an impressive four months and her songs have been featured on Apple Music’s “Breaking Pop” and “Best of the Week” playlists. Cali Rodi will be performing with Ryan Sims (you may also recognize Cali Rodi from Rock the District 1)
Ryan Sims – My Side Of The Story – Hive Records
“I can’t write a song based on fabricated situations. I have to write about what’s going on with me at that moment.”
That is why the songs of Ryan Sims ring so true. His latest EP, My Side Of The Story, (Hive Records), recounts an actual love gone bad. There’s no glitz or guile here, just rough-edged, hard-hitting songs, fed by a volatile blend of pain and ecstasy, anger and regret.
His first single, “American Things”, spent 25+ weeks during the summer of 2018 climbing up the country radio charts…Billboard-Activator (#57) and Music Row Country Breakout (#41) respectfully.
On his second single from the EP, “Get Away,” which is about to hit country radio coast to coast, Sims gives free rein to these emotions. You know it’s real when he sings “I can’t take this anymore. I gotta get out of town … Rubber on the road will take the pain away. [And] I got a lot of pain.” Not surprisingly — in fact, typically for the way he writes — these lyrics spilled out quickly, as if demanding to be shared.
“I was writing with my producer, Justin Gray, one day when the air conditioning in his studio went out,” he remembers. “The AC tech showed up and Justin left for about 20 minutes. By the time he came back I had finished the chorus and a verse for his song. Over the next hour we wrote the rest of it. The song was almost unintentional; it kind of came out like a sneeze. But I was fresh off some heartbreak, so the feelings were right there and quite painful.”
Sims cut the video for this song shortly afterward. “It was kind of an emotional day because the things they were asking me to do are things I had actually done six weeks prior,” Sims remembers. “The video ended up mirroring my life so closely it’s almost kind of creepy. But as a writer, it was worth it for me to express what really happened.”
From the first notes he strummed, sang and wrote, Sims has seen music as inseparable from emotion. He grew up in Indiana, one of three children raised by a single mother. Money was short; often they subsisted on food provided by their church. Not surprisingly, young Ryan began looking around for something to keep his spirits afloat.
He found it when he was about 3 years old. “I began to feel this strong urge to make music,” he recalls. “I can still remember listening to and understanding music even as a really small child. I understood chord changes and melody at some deep intuitive level. I never dreamed about being a policeman or a fireman or anything other than a musician.”
Sims didn’t act on that urge until age 10, when his mother remarried. Her new husband introduced Ryan to the guitar. When the family moved to Arizona, Ryan held even more tightly to his lifeline. That summer, as a high school junior in a wildly unfamiliar place, he found solace in writing. He performed in local coffee houses; he began booking them shortly after he turned 17. Midway through his senior year he gave up his spot on the football team to sing the lead role in the school musical.
Most important, he remembers, “I realized pretty quickly that being able to play guitar was a fantastic way to meet girls.”
Thoroughly enamored with music and these residual benefits, Sims plunged into performing right after graduation. At 21 he co-founded the band EastonAshe. Their debut album Can I Drive Itdropped in 2006 and quickly sold 10,000 copies without any label affiliation. The Los Angeles Music Awards singled it out as Independent Rock Album Of The Year. The group took first place in the LA Music/Hollywood Fame Awards’ Performer Of The Year category in 2007 and ’08. As the band’s lead singer, Sims earned the Phoenix Music Awards’ Singer/Songwriter Of The Year honors in 2009. His following exploded in 2011 when he was invited to participate in The X Factor.
These two experiences — his band and his run on a popular national reality series — impacted Sims in opposite but complementary ways. “Like me, most of the guys in EastonAshe were completely self-taught,” he observes. “So we had no rulebook to follow. Instead of worrying about whether we were using the right chord structure or whatever, we opened ourselves to endless possibilities in how we expressed ourselves.
“The X Factorwas less about music than about learning the ways of the world,” Sims continues. “It did teach me how to calm myself and perform my best under pressure. But it also helped me understand that I could ever go on television and pretend I’m something I’m not just to win a competition.”
This extended in particular to his writing. “I can only write when I feel strongly about something that’s either really good or really bad that’s happening in my life,” he insists. “I mean, I was writing kind of crass and funny songs when I was 13 or 14 just to make my buddies laugh. But when I started having relationships that meant something to me, that’s when my writing matured. That’s when I started paying serious attention to writers I really liked, not tojust copy them but to understand their processes.”
International touring artist Chad Freeman and his band Redline were founded ten years ago right here in the Phoenix area. Having initially worked with a southern rock and country band for a few years, Chad knew it was time for a new direction. After arriving on the scene as Chad Freeman & Redline, things began quickly happening for the group as they started performing regularly in Las Vegas, played at CMA Fest in Nashville and worked for such events as National Finals Rodeo, Professional Bull Rider Finals, Super Bowl and NASCAR. In the past year Chad has performed in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Poland, France, Germany and Switzerland. Now gearing up for their second decade, Chad and the Redline boys continue performing and entertaining fans everywhere.