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Hook & Barrel
A Lifestyle Magazine for Modern Outdoorsmen

Latest Outdoor-Centric News From The Country Music World

Regular Hook & Barrel Magazine readers know we tend to feature country music artists regularly, sometimes on our magazine covers, and especially in the “Jamming Out” department. We like to believe we have a finger on the pulse of the country music scene—especially when there’s a connection to living the outdoors lifestyle. With that, here are some hot sound bytes—see what we did there?—that caught our eyes and ears.

Koe Wetzel’s New Single “Damn Near Normal” Out Now

koe wetzel

It’s really the album cover that caught our eye on this one, but the song’s darn good, too! Today’s release of “Damn Near Normal” signifies the first new music from Platinum-selling singer-songwriter Koe Wetzel as POLLSTAR’s “red dirt sensation” gears up to follow the success of 2022’s Hell Paso. Listen to “Damn Near Normal” HERE. The track is accompanied by an official video directed by John Park that finds Koe back in his childhood home reminiscing on the past.

The new release epitomizes what MusicRow celebrates as a “disruptive attitude and the refreshing blend of musical influences” from “the genre-bending Texas native making his own rules” with signs of Country, Rock and Americana all present across the four-minute track.

koe wetzel
Gabe Muniz Photo

“‘Damn Near Normal’ is a song about this lifestyle that is anything but,” reflects Wetzel. “Waking up somewhere new on the road every day, up playing music all hours of the night with our fans… this is a wild ride we’re on that looks totally different than most people’s ‘normal’ … but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

For more information and to purchase tickets to all upcoming dates, visit KoeWetzelMusic.com and follow on Instagram and TikTok @Koe_Wetzel, Facebook @KoeWetzelMusic, and Twitter/X @KoeWetzel.

Chris Janson Releases “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get” 

OK, truth be told, Chris Janson’s Bass Pro Shops hat and classic camouflage jacket made us wanna see and hear more. Chris Janson is known for leaving it all on the stage during his high-energy performances and he is bringing that same charismatic swagger to his latest anthemic release, “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get” (via Nashville Harbor Records & Entertainment/Harpeth 60 Records). Written by Janson, Tyler Hubbard, RaeLynn, Blake Hubbard, and Jarrod Ingram (produced by Julian Raymond), the highly anticipated track will be impacting Country radio on March 11th. 

According to Janson, “There is no better way to describe me on a daily basis. This song is 100% authentic, every word. It’s fun, it’s rowdy and it’s the truth. Roll your window down and crank it up!” 

chris janson

Thank you sir, don’t mind if we do!

Listen to “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get” HERE

Fans can catch Janson out on the road throughout the year with his own headlining tour dates and as he joins fellow Country star Cody Johnson for select dates. Janson will also be hitting the stage with his friend and CMT Crossroad’s partner, Bret Michaels, for his upcoming Pardi-Gras 2024 kicking off on July 12th.

Did someone say “Bret Michaels?” Check out this past Hook & Barrel cover story…

Bret Michaels – Something to Believe In

Better Than Ezra Make Super Magick 

Better Than Ezra fans have waited long enough! Here’s the band’s first full-length album in 10 years!

better than ezra

Today, Alt-Rock icons Better Than Ezra announce the forthcoming release of their tenth studio album Super Magick. Due out May 3 via Round Hill Records, Super Magick is available for pre-order/pre-save now. To celebrate the album announcement, the New Orleans-bred band is premiering the latest single from Super Magick, an exhilarating anthem called “Live A Little.” Go here to listen to “Live A Little”.

better than ezra
Roby Klein Photo

Mainly produced by BTE singer/guitarist Kevin Griffin and Emery Dobyns (a producer/songwriter/engineer known for his work with Patti Smith, Lou Reed, and Antony and the Johnsons), Super Magick is a prime showcase for the soul-searching yet sharp-witted songwriting that has made the band one of the most enduring acts to emerge from the ’90s Alt-Rock boom. In the latest creative triumph for the four-piece — whose lineup also includes bassist Tom Drummond, drummer Michael Jerome Moore, and guitarist/keyboardist James “Jim” Arthur Payne Jr. — the album expands on their classic sound and explores elements of everything from Country-Rock and Britpop to New Wave and Dub. Recorded at Tennessee’s Pink Deer Studio, the result is a heartfelt and wildly fun body of work that fully lives up to its title. 

Brantley Gilbert…About to Go “Off the Rails

Following his sixth studio album SO HELP ME GOD, Brantley Gilbert readies a forthcoming project and delivers a preview with the revelry-inducing anthem “Off The Rails” via The Valory Music Co. The track embodies the brand of high-energy live show the MULTI-PLATINUM Country rocker will bring to the OFF THE RAILS TOUR this spring and summer. Listen to “Off The Rails” HERE.

brantley gilbert

“We’ve got some big plans for the Off The Rails Tour,” shares Gilbert. “Not only will we be sprinkling in some new tracks, but we’ve found a way to add even more songs into the setlist, so you’ll be hearing a good mix of longtime favorites, deep cuts and unreleased material. We’re really looking forward to giving BG Nation the first taste of what we have in store for the next album…it’s going to be a wild ride.”

Kicking off tomorrow, March 9 in Alabama, the OFF THE RAILS TOUR will also feature special guests Dylan Marlowe, Struggle Jennings and Demun Jones. For tickets and additional information, visit BrantleyGilbert.com.

Evan Ogden Releases Austin City Limits

Texas country music artist and honky-tonker, Evan Ogden, recently released his new EP, Austin City Limits.

evan ogden

“I am so excited to release this EP,” Evan Ogden said. “These songs are fun, exciting and complex in nature. Sonically, I am incredibly proud of how each of these songs turned out. They sound familiar and yet unique.”

Produced by Nathan Evans Fox, Austin City Limits, a six-song EP, is drenched in traditional, country music stylings while providing a unique, fun and creative flair to the time-honored craft. Austin City Limits includes Evan Ogden on acoustic guitar and vocals, Nathan Evans Fox on piano, pedal steel, guitar, percussion and vocals, Stephen King on bass, William Kissane on drums, Zac Hamilton on electric guitar, and Chris Moyse on background vocals. 

evan ogden

“I tried to provide a full spectrum of honky tonk sounds with these songs and I am extremely excited to share them,” Ogden explained. “Austin City Limits is a very country dive bar-sounding record. I wrote them while living in Austin and tried to reflect the sound and feel of those unique honky tonks. I was leaning on the sounds of folks like Gary Stewart and George Jones to carve a unique sound.”

To stream Austin City Limits, click here.

Editor’s note: Be on the lookout for a full Hook & Barrel interview with Evan Ogden later this spring.

Brian Kelley Speaks His Tennesee Truth

H&B recently plugged Brian Kelley’s “Trucks, Ducks, Bucks & Beer” single.

Here’s the rest of the story…You want to know how DIAMOND-selling superstar Brian Kelley lives? Turn up the dial on Tennessee Truth out on May 10. Fans can pre-order his much-anticipated full-length debut album with Big Machine Records here.

brian kelley

Across 12 pumped-up Country anthems (eight to his co-writing credit) produced by Dann Huff, Kelley testifies to the restorative power of rural living (“Acres,” “How We’re Livin’”), everlasting love (“Barefeet Or Boots,” “Dirt Road Date Night”), and badass guitars (“King Ranch,” “Kiss My Boots”). It is a defiantly first-person account—or, as he shares, “It’s a way for me to express myself and my family and our values.”

Likewise, Kelley hasn’t abandoned the ‘beach cowboy’ fare that defined his 2021 passion project entirely—cue up “10 O’Clock On The Dock” to get your fix—but for his latest set, he moves inland, singing about John Deere joyrides, front porch swinging, and long nights out where the cattails sway. Gooey melodies and his own full-throated and amber-toned vocal stylings nod to ‘90s format airwaves, but the rest was, largely, crafted with 2024’s biggest venues in mind. With blistering fretwork, stadium-sized choruses, and the boom-thwack of heavier-than-hell drums, Tennessee Truth doesn’t just rock—it roars. 

Closing Tennessee Truth by airing out the past and moving on to a healed future, new song “Kiss My Boots” is the most personal lyrical statement of his songwriting career. “It was healing to write. I feel released now,” Kelley admits of the track he co-wrote. “Now, I have a song that helped me through a tough time. Hopefully, ‘Kiss My Boots’ can help a lot of people. Give them some confidence and help them get their power back.” 

As a sidenote, if you want to see Bian Kelley catching snakes in the wilderness…

Chris Janson – A Life in Balance
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