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Heather Little: Living A Real Life

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By Johnny Griffith

Life is simultaneously many things at once: messy, beautiful, challenging, spontaneous, surprising. The sum of these, and more, shape who we are as people. Yet, if you listen to mainstream radio, you might think life was one big party with trucks and tractors, boys and girls, dollar bills and getting paid…that is unless you’ve heard a song Heather Little wrote.

Originally from Princeton, Texas the Lindale mother/singer/songwriter has been writing songs since she was a little girl when her mother would sing classic rock songs to her and she’d sneak listens to her dad’s album collection that included some of the legends of country music: Dolly Parton, Hank Jr., as well as others. Eventually some of those songs found their way into the hands of people like local East Texans Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves where they would end up on the radio, and immediately you knew that these were not your run of the mill party songs that took up so much real estate on the corporate radio landscape.

Heather writes songs that reflect what she considers to be real life, which covers the entire gamut of human emotion: joy, frustration, fulfillment, disappointment, and everything in between. With deceptively complex songs and hauntingly beautiful vocals, Heather sings about life from a place of genuine experience and authenticity that pulls you in tight and is reluctant to let you go until the story is told.

We were able to catch up to Heather on a recent trip to Nashville in between gigs to ask her a few questions:

Johnny: What originally got you into music?

Heather: I’ve been into music as far back as I can remember. It started with my mother always having music on, and then my older brother Jayson taught me to sing harmonies. We always sang together growing up. As for songwriting, I’ve just always made up songs for as long as I can remember. I started performing at about 13 with Jayson at weddings and such. Then on my own here and there.

Johnny: How did that translate into a career in songwriting?

Heather: My professional songwriting began when my mom convinced me to enter a songwriting contest. (I did not win.) That’s where I met Miranda and Rick Lambert as they were judges of the contest. She was 17 at the time. We’ve written together on and off ever since. Miranda and her family are directly responsible for my start as a professional songwriter.

Johnny: When and where was your first public performance?

Heather: My first public performance was the Wylie Opry when I was about 13.

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Johnny: What has been one of your most memorable performances so far?

Heather: My most memorable performance was with Craig Wallace and Matt Bradshaw at the fundraiser for Andy Kay Joiner of Blacktop Gypsy.

Johnny: Who have been some of your biggest musical influences?

Heather: I have too many musical influences to name. I will say two of the earliest ones, and I continue to love them to this day, are Rickie Lee Jones and Prince. Prince was a very big deal to me, and I still can’t believe he’s really gone.

Johnny: Your music has a uniquely beautiful melancholy and stripped-bare quality that weaves its way through the lyrics and chords. How would you describe it, and where does that come from?

Heather: I have no idea how to truly describe my music. It just is whatever it is, and is subject to interpretation by all ears.

Johnny: How many originals do you think you have at this point, and what are some of your favorite cover songs to do during a show?

Heather: I don’t know how many originals I have now; hundreds I’d guess. My favorite cover depends on where I’m playing and for whom. I love “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Turn the Page,” and “Guilty.”

Johnny: Which of your songs would say is the best glimpse of who you are?

Heather: I will never tell.

Johnny: How strong is the singer-songwriter community in this area?

Heather: There is a strong sense of community among singer-songwriters out in East Texas. There are those who feel out of the loop sometimes, and I’ve been one of them before and probably will be again. It’s a cycle creative people go through. We go out and do what we do, get a little spent or burned out, then we hide and recharge. I think we all run that cycle to some degree at times.

Johnny: What are some of your goals for this year?

Heather: Hopefully I can finish a couple of EP’s, write a ton of new music, and continue playing more shows.

Johnny: What experience do you hope a first-time listener takes away from one of your shows?

Heather: I hope they find some kind of comfort, perhaps in knowing they’re not alone, hearing out loud that each one of us is just as human as the other.

Johnny: What was the last thing you listened to before this interview?

Heather: The last thing I listened to was Miranda Lambert’s “The Weight of These Wings.”

For more info on Heather Little you can find her on Facebook, go to, or online at

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October 13th, Award-Winning Band MercyMe in Concert

October 13th, Award-Winning Band MercyMe in Concert

MercyMe will be in concert at The Oil Palace is October and is guaranteed to sell-out!

Since their debut in 2001, Grammy®-nominated, multiple American Music Award and Dove Award winners, MercyMe has sold more than 8.5 million units in CD, single and DVD sales, garnered 27 No. 1 multi-format Christian radio singles and four consecutive mainstream radio hits with ‘I Can Only Imagine,’ (No. 4 AC/Top 25 on Top 40/Hot AC), ‘Here With Me’ (No. 4 AC), ‘Homesick’ (Top 10 AC), and ‘So Long Self.’

Their radio success has continued with recent singles ‘Flawless’ (No. 1 for 15 weeks) and ‘Greater’ (No. 1 for 16 weeks)​, landing them the Top Christian Airplay Artist spot on Billboard’s 2015 Year End charts.

MercyMe made history in 2014 as ‘I Can Only Imagine’ surpassed 2 million digital downloads, making it the first song in Christian music to go platinum and double-platinum in the digital domain. In 2009, Billboard named MercyMe’s ‘Word Of God Speak’ the No. 1 Song of The Decade and the group the No. 1 Artist of the Decade in both the Christian Songs and Christian AC Songs categories, recognizing them as one of the industry’s most notable talents.

They have sold out venues throughout the US and Canada, including Radio City Music Hall, and have appeared on The Today Show, CBS This Morning, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Fox New Channel’s Fox & Friends, CNN, ABC News, and in the pages of Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, USA Today and more.

Their most recent project “MercyMe, It’s Christmas!” debuted atop the Billboard Top Holiday Albums chart and became an instant classic. Their eighth studio release, “Welcome To The New,” garnered Billboard Music Award nominations in all three Christian categories and two Grammy® nods; the album is available in stores now.

Tickets start at $19 and are available at The Oil Palace is located at 10408 State Highway 64 East, Tyler, (903)566-2122.

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Blacktop Mojo: Burning Up The Roads To Success

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By Johnny Griffith

About a year and a half ago I sat down to interview Blacktop Mojo, a Jacksonville based hard rock band riding a wave of momentum after several successful years together and an upcoming album release. The end of that interview finished with this:

“Blacktop Mojo can still be heard around East Texas on a regular basis, but I would definitely suggest checking out their website for more information and a sample of their music if you haven’t heard them. If it’s in your wheelhouse, get out and support a great local band that won’t be local for much longer at the rate their Mojo is working.”

As it turns out, I was a little more prescient that I anticipated as Blacktop Mojo’s stock has only risen in the ensuing months. With a successful album release, ever increasingly distant tour stops, and mounting accolades from industry critics and magazines, local BTM shows are becoming harder to come by.

In case you might not have heard of Blacktop Mojo, their sound can be described as “modern rock that got dragged through a puddle of southern rock and then dipped in a little bit of grunge”. The band was originally formed in 2012 and the current lineup includes Matt James on vocals, Nathan Gillis on drums, Chuck Wepfer on rhythm guitar, Ryan Keifer on lead guitar, and Matt Curtis on bass.  

With a huge sound and chest shaking vocals, Blacktop Mojo brings a high energy rock show that leaves fans wanting more everywhere they go. While in the midst of rehearsals last month for their most recent tour that kicked off in San Antonio on April 20th, we caught up with them to see what had been going on for the past year and a half and what was on the radar for the rest of the year.

Johnny: So it’s been about a year and a half since our last interview with you guys and the last time we talked there was an album in the works. When did “Burn The Ships” release and how was the process different from the first time around when you recorded “I am”?

BTM: “Burn The Ships” released in March of 2017. The biggest difference between this record and our first record, “I Am”, was the amount of time we took for pre-production. On “I Am”, we spent about two weeks getting ready and arranging the songs before we went in to record it, where on “Burn The Ships”, we spent about eight months demoing and playing around with different ideas.

Johnny: How has the reception been to the album so far and do you guys have your own personal favorite song from it?

BTM: The reception to the album has been incredible this far. We’ve had countless positive reviews and feedback from publications all over the world. Also, our first single off of the album entitled “Where The Wind Blows” reached number 27 on the Billboard Active Rock chart last summer.

Johnny: You guys got to open for Bon Jovi last year in a sold-out stadium. Tell us about that about how you guys got that honor and a little about the experience?

BTM: We actually won that honor in a contest the band was putting on. We submitted some of our original music and were picked by Live Nation and the band’s management to open up the show. The experience was beyond amazing and the crowd was very receptive to us. We cannot thank the Bon Jovi camp enough for the opportunity and for treating us so incredibly.

Johnny: Obviously that put you in front of a lot of potential new fans but what would you say the biggest takeaway from that event was?

BTM: Our biggest takeaway from that night was that whether you’re playing in front of 20 or 20,000 people, you should treat it the same way. Make everyone feel like you’re playing in a stadium even if it’s an empty room.

Johnny: Blacktop Mojo has been trending steadily upward the past couple of years with several accolades from industry publications, over 40 thousand likes on Facebook, a new album, and you guys seem to play everywhere and anywhere. What kind of effect has the increased exposure and success had on the daily routine and what kind of new challenges have came along?

BTM: Our daily routine hasn’t changed much when we’re home. We still write and rehearse on a regular basis and go about business as usual. The increased exposure has made touring opportunities more readily available for us and has increased the number of people we can reach with our music, which is super exciting for us.

Johnny: You have a pretty extensive tour coming up that you’ll already be on the road for when this goes to print. Is this the biggest tour BTM has embarked on and what goes into planning a 2-month long road trip that covers, as best I could count, 32 states, both sides of the country, Canada, and 43 shows?

BTM: This is our most extensive tour to date. A lot of planning, routing, and generally putting the puzzle pieces together has gone on over the past few months by us and our team to make this happen. We couldn’t be more excited to get back out on the road and see our friends across the country.

Johnny: I’d say it would be time for a break after that sort of trip, but you guys are right back at it, playing Rock Fest 2018 up in Wisconsin with some huge names, do you guys ever have to step back, take a breath, and say to yourself “this is our reality”?

BTM: We are very blessed to be able to wake up and do what we love every single day. They say “you never work a day in your life if you do what you love”, so I don’t think we’ve ever really thought about taking a break.

Johnny: Were you able to see yourself at this point back when you played your first show at the Neches Fall Festival or the first “official” show as BTM at the Shelton Gin back in 2012?

BTM: It would have been hard to imagine getting to do what we do now back then. We’ve always just been happy to be able to play music for people.

Johnny: With what’s on your plate for the first half of this year, I almost hate to ask, but what’s on the radar for the second half of 2018 that you can share with us?

BTM: We have plans to keep touring throughout the rest of the year and are currently writing music for our third record.

Johnny: What has been the best memory from the ride so far?

BTM: It’s hard to pick just one from all of it. One of my favorites so far was riding back into town off of our first tour last Summer/Fall. We’d been out on the road for over 60 days straight with 7 of us basically living out of our van. We were tired, beat up, and hungry, but everyone was smiling and joking with each other. It really felt like we had accomplished something.

For more information on Blacktop Mojo and when they’ll be back at a location near you, check them out on the web:


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