This week’s co-host is Michael Ray. He begins by telling Lon he spent the holidays with his family in Florida. “I got to see my nieces and nephews. It makes you fall in love with Christmas once again, I got to relive it with them. They bring such a cool innocence to it.
Michael current hit is Whiskey & Rain. He tells Lon what caught him most about the song: “We were already planning this record, and I already knew the direction I wanted to go it, and really wanted to go into my country roots. What made me move to Nashville. When I heard Whiskey & Rain, it gave me the sounds of 80s Ronnie Milsap, Bakersfield, Gary Allen, Dwight Yoakam, everything I wanted fans to hear, this is it. It was a no-brainer that it was the first single off this new EP.”
“This song hit me hard. After what I was going through personally, it hit me different. Songs find you at the right time. When divorce happens, you get every sad song Nashville has to offer. I think I heard every break-up song in this town. But I love sad songs, whether I’m happy or sad, so I was going to listen to them anyway.”
The title song to Michael’s album Higher Education is a collaboration with Lee Brice, Kid Rock, and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. “When I heard this song I knew it gave me that ‘All My Rowdy Friends’ thing. The writer was Tim Montana. and he knows everybody. First name that he suggested was Billy Gibbons, and so Tim called him and he said ‘I love it brother, I’m in.’ It just came to life. To have those guys on one of my songs meant a lot to me.”
Michael said he received some friendship this past year from Brantley Gilbert: “One thing nobody knows, when I was going through what I was going through, Brantley called me and said, ‘get to Georgia.’ So I drove to Georgia and stayed at his house for 4 days. Brantley’s the real deal, a great friend, and someone who I’m very fortunate is in my life.”
Michael volunteered one: “I have a funny story about Jon Pardi and Kid Rock. I’m a huge wrestling fan. Everybody knows Rick Flair. Kid Rock had a get together at his house. I’m walking in, and there’s Kid Rock, Jon Pardi and Rick Flair talking in a circle. I ended up meeting him, and he did a promo for me on my phone. ‘Wooo it’s Rick Flair the nature boy.’ It was awesome.”
Michael also has great stories this week about Old Dominion, Kenny Chesney, Brantley Gilbert, Keith Urban, and Jimmie Allen.
NEXT WEEK: Jordan Davis