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Country 01/04/2023

From Nashville Palace To Chart Success: Webb Dalton Reflects On His Journey And The Impact Of Opening For Country Legends

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From Nashville Palace To Chart Success: Webb Dalton Reflects On His Journey And The Impact Of Opening For Country Legends
New York, NY (Top40 Charts) In this exclusive interview, we had the pleasure of sitting down with singer/songwriter and Nashville recording artist Webb Dalton. With a career spanning over several years, Webb has had the opportunity to work with some of the biggest names in country music, such as Randy Travis, Garth Brooks, and George Strait. Webb opens up about his early beginnings at Tootsies Lounge, memorable moments from his extensive travels, and the invaluable experiences he gained from opening for legendary artists. Join us as Webb shares heartfelt stories, insights into his songwriting process, and what it takes to stay true to one's passion in the ever-changing music industry.

How did your performance at Tootsies Lounge at the age of 14 shape your passion for music?

I wish I could remember the name of the singer/guitar player who let me sing. He was so kind and accepting of a young 14-year-old wanting to sing with him. I probably wasn't very good. LOL. But I remember him encouraging me and that definitely made an impression on me to want to sing more. I can remember how nervous I was and Tootsies was packed. The crowd was accepting as well and applauded. All those things combined, and the encouragement of my Mom and Dad, contributed to my wanting to pursue my passion for music.

What are some of the most memorable moments you've had while travelling back and forth to Nashville to perform?

I first began going back and forth to Nashville and singing at different places like the Nashville Palace, Gabe's, Gilley's, The Rose Room, and several other places. I played the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree as well. I put music on hold after getting a basketball scholarship to Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, but still found places to play around Hot Springs, Arkansas. Although I had a 4-year scholarship, I left after two years and moved to Nashville, continuing to play the Nashville Palace while living in the back of my truck at the Two Rivers Campground. I was writing and cutting my demos with a tape recorder in the bathroom at the Campground. The bathroom had a natural reverb with the sound bouncing off the cinder block walls. I then went on the road and played with Peggy Lynn, Loretta Lynn's daughter, before putting a band back together and hitting the road playing all over the country and in Canada. There were a couple of booking agencies (Billy Deaton Talent, Varnell Enterprises, GMA, Bobby Roberts) booking us so we were staying extremely busy. I was also able to meet and work with a lot of Grand Ole Opry stars like Jack Green, Johnny Russell, Box Car Willie, Little Jimmy Dickins, Ronnie Stoneman, Porter Waggoner, and Little David Wilkins. All of them were so kind to me and encouraging early in my career. It was a great time to be a part of Country Music.

How did your experiences opening for renowned artists like Randy Travis, Garth Brooks, and George Strait influence your career?

The exposure that you get as an artist with openings for major artists is a vital part of growing as a new artist. Getting to know Randy early in his career and witnessing how he became a major artist was something I'll never forget and made a lasting impression on me. After Randy signed his deal with Warner Brothers, he asked me to open for him at his Fan Club dinner show at the Nashville Palace during Fan Fair. I opened for him again in Memphis, TN at the Mid-South Coliseum. George Strait and Kathy Mattea were also on that show. I met Garth for the first time in McCallister, Oklahoma at Cowboy Gills. It was prior to him signing his deal and we both played a showcase for talent buyers (Fairs and Festivals). I realized when I met Garth for the first time how much of a kind person he truly is. After he had signed his deal and released his first single "Much Too Young", I opened for him again in Sanford, Florida at The Barn. We both had booths at Fan Fair and ran into each other again in Nashville. I had gotten off the road for a while and ran into him again in Memphis. We had a nice visit, and he was still the same down-to-earth big-hearted person he was when we first met back in Oklahoma. The fame has not changed him one bit. This is the way it's supposed to be but not always the case with some artists.

Can you share any special memories from your time performing with the Nashville Palace house band and your interactions with Randy Travis?

While I was playing at the Nashville Palace, Randy was working in the kitchen. They would have employee nights where waitresses, waiters, bartenders, and kitchen staff, would get up and sing a couple of songs. Randy would come out of the kitchen and sing. He had his Albums in the front entry of the Palace. If memory serves me, he had Albums under Randy Traywick (his real name), Randy Ray and Randy Travis. He too is a kind person that has never forgotten how important it is to treat people how you want to be treated. John Hobbs owned the Palace back then. A great businessman and he too treated folks with kindness. I remember I was in Memphis, Tn at Pop Tunes Record store looking through the new 45's and saw a new single. It had "Warner Brothers Records", "Randy Travis", and "On the Other Hand" on it. I remember putting the vinyl 45 on the turntable, putting on the headphones and listening. I was so happy for Randy and thought he sounded so good. I knew he was on his way to big things. I played the Palace a short time later and he came by and asked me to open for him during his Fan Club Dinner show at the Palace during Fan Fair. Of course, I was happy to. Some of the same musicians still play at the Palace and the "Scoreboard" every week we were there playing with Randy during that time and were touring on the road with him and I keep in touch with him. Rick "LD" Wayne and Steve Hinson play there every week with their band "Organic Country". I recently went back and played with them. Such great players. I felt like I was back home.

Your single "At the Drop of A Hat" is charted on the Billboard Country charts. How did that achievement impact your career and confidence as an artist?

I learned a lot from that record. It was in '87 when records and singles were vinyl. There was no internet, so record promotion was done through the mail and phone calls. I worked with Joe Gibson at Nationwide Sound Distributors to promote the single "At The Drop of A Hat". With that, I had a list of all the Program Directors at every radio station all over the Country. I would call them personally and ask if they'd received my new single and tell them how much I would appreciate them adding it to their playlist. I was thrilled when it first hit the chart and finally peaked at #47. I was on an independent label at the time. I was working with Lon Varnell, Ben Ferrell at Varnell Enterprises and Blake Mevis who had been in the business for many years. They would give me advice and guide me on what to do next as far as advancing my music career.

Over the years, you've released four albums with different themes and styles. How has your music evolved, and what has remained consistent throughout your career?

I was born in Montgomery, Alabama, but moved to Memphis, Tennessee when I was 7 years old. Early on while in Montgomery, I remember my Dad would always have the radio on the top of the refrigerator tuned into the Grand Old Opry. He's a big fan of Country Music. Faron Young, Jack Green, Ray Price, Dottie West, Barbara Mandrell, Ernest Tubb, Jeannie Sealy, Del Reeves, Webb Pierce, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Tom T. Hall, Bobby Bare, Vern Gosdin, Dolly Parton, Hank Williams, and others. So, Country Music is in my DNA from early on. Then, while growing up in Memphis, I was exposed to Charlie Rich, Charlie Feathers, Sonny Burgess, the Amazing Rhythm Aces, Hank Williams, Jr., Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, Rufus Thomas, BB King and others. Although authentic country music, steel guitar and fiddle is a major part of my music and what defines me musically, you might hear a little Memphis music influences with rock and blues. There might be a B-3 organ, or a bass guitar feel that is mostly Country, but not in the traditional sense. Our new release "Better Man" is a good example of what I'm talking about with the bass guitar feels.

How does it feel to have your recent single "Better Man" receive such a warm reception and international recognition?

I'm so thankful to those of you who have listened, downloaded, and watched the video. It's a compliment as a songwriter when others understand the message you're trying to convey, and it touches other people. A message others can relate to. For it to be added to stations and in other countries as well, was really special and unexpected. I truly appreciate it more than mere words can express.

Can you tell us the inspiration behind "Better Man" and the message you want to convey with the song?

I had been working on it and my son walked in and told me he had a line for the song. After he told me, I told him that we were going to be writing this song together. We've written several songs together. The idea for the song came from how important it is for us as a man should appreciate our significant other. Us hardheaded men folk, me included, need a lot of help whether we want to admit it or not. I wrote it for my wife Missy. She makes me want to be a better man and I'm a better man because of her. She's the inspiration to several songs that I've written. "I've Got You" is another song I wrote for her. I'm not sure how many songs are out there that mention meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and gravy, but Missy's is too good not to be mentioned, so I put it in a song. "I've Got You" is on YouTube as well.

Your last two single releases, "You, the Ocean, Sand and Me" and "Mine's Bigger," both reached the #1 spot on the Trop Rock Top 40 charts. What do you think resonated with listeners in these songs?

"You, the Ocean, Sand and Me" is one that I wrote about being on vacation or on a trip at the beach and not wanting to get back to the daily grind of work. And how perfect life can be with your loved one, sand and the ocean and wishing that it would never end.

"Mine's Bigger" is a song I wrote with "Keith Sykes" who wrote "Volcano" with Jimmy Buffett and several songs for John Prine, Jerry Jeff Walker and others. It came from an idea I had about how it doesn't matter how much money you have, how big your portfolio is, or how big your yacht is, it's about how much love you have for someone. It's not about the riches, it's about having that special someone in your life that you can share it with.

What does your songwriting process look like? Do you typically start with lyrics or a melody?

I typically start with a title or idea and work from there. If I'm co-writing with someone, it's done several different ways. You may sit around and kick around several different ideas for what to write about. It's a more natural process and not one of pressure to have to write a song.

Of all the artists you've had the opportunity to perform with, who has had the most significant impact on you as a musician, and why?

I've been blessed to work with several artists, musicians, and songwriters. The biggest influence on my music is probably Merle Haggard, Keith Whitely, Vern Gosdin and George Strait. Although I never met Merle, his music has always influenced me. He was also a songwriting genius. I've spent time with Vern Gosdin and he was such a kind man and what a voice. I opened for Keith Whitley back in North Carolina and worked with his producer, Blake Mevis. Blake was definitely a genius as a Producer and produced records for George Strait and Keith Whitley. In fact, I played "Better Man" for Blake, and he made some suggestions as far as production, which of course I listened to, followed and made the changes he suggested.

As far as other influences, it's probably the respect I have for others in the music business itself, which are the musicians, producers, promoters, radio folks, record labels and the folks behind the scenes working to assist in the success of an artist. I've been blessed to see the hard work and long hours that go into producing concerts. For example, making a Garth Brooks concert happen. From the promotion to the production side of things. I met Ben Farrell in the early 80's and he was a close friend. He and Varnell Enterprises were the promoters for Garth, George Strait, Reba McIntyre, The Judd and Alan Jackson concerts from the beginning. Ben was probably one of the best promoters in the business. I was able to spend some time with him recently in Birmingham for the Garth Brooks concert. On the day of Garth's concert, Ben and I went to lunch together and he told me he wanted to visit Rickwood Field, which is the oldest professional baseball park in the United States. I was surprised he had time for a sightseeing trip with all that was going on, but I took him to Rickwood Field. Ben was constantly on the phone talking to ticket outlets, managers, and production crew, and handling any problems or issues that came up. He was responsible for handling all aspects of Garth's concerts. He handled everything like a pro. Probably because he's been doing it for over 50 years. But the folks behind the scenes are what make the artists the stars they are.    

How do you manage to stay grounded and focused on your passion for music amidst the challenges and changes in the industry?

Keep focused on the music and continue to stay busy playing shows. As for promoting your music, it's evolving daily with social media. You have to learn what works and what doesn't as far as being able to get your music out to listeners. You count on the stations, listeners, bloggers and online digital download platforms to assist in promoting your music. And ultimately, you must have a definitive role in your own promotion as well. Answer emails, text messages, and phone calls participate in radio interviews and answer questions from interviewers like you. Which I gladly do and enjoy. I believe the main thing is to be accessible.

Looking back on your musical journey so far, what are you most proud of, and what do you hope to achieve in the coming years?

I've been blessed to be able to continue to play music and perform for over 40 years. Met some great people, made friends and make new ones every day through music. Music is truly a universal language. As far as what I hope to achieve in the coming years? Keep performing, writing, and releasing music that folks love and enjoy. Most of all, perform on the Grand Ole Opry. I've been backstage a number of times but have never stood inside "The Circle".

As we conclude our time with Webb Dalton, it's clear that his love for music and dedication to his craft have been the driving forces behind his success. His humble beginnings at Tootsies Lounge set the stage for a remarkable career, filled with unforgettable moments and invaluable lessons learned from working with some of the most iconic figures in country music. With his recent single "Better Man" gaining international recognition, there's no doubt that Webb's journey is far from over. As he continues to evolve and grow as an artist, we eagerly await the heartfelt stories and powerful messages that his future music will undoubtedly bring.

ABOUT: Montgomery, Alabama native Webb Dalton has opened shows for George Strait, Garth Brooks, Randy Travis, George Jones, T. Graham Brown, Charlie Rich, Jerry Lee Lewis, John Conlee, Travis Tritt, the Gin Blossoms, and others, and performed for President George W. Bush. Webb has had songs on the Top 40 Country and TropRock charts, with two recently released singles reaching #1 on the National Top 40 TropRock chart, "You, the Ocean, Sand & Me" and "Mine's Bigger."  Webb's past video, "Honk If You Wanna Honky Tonk" was also been featured on CMT . 

Webb performs across the US, including the Gulf Coast and Florida Keys. Influenced by the sounds of Haggard, Jones, and Bob Wills early in life in Alabama and growing up in Memphis, Tennessee with the sounds of Jerry Lee, Charlie Rich and Elvis, which explains the diversity of music Webb performs during one of his shows. 

Webb's new single and video, "Better Man" is available as of March 24th, 2023, and shows the passion to Country Music that Webb grew up with and is known for. Available on all digital download sites, with the Official music video available on YouTube on March 24th, 2023.

For Media, contact R.T.H. Management at (251) 233-3306

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