Band News and Events

Valley News - Entertainment Highlights - April 10, 2014 

By David Corriveau
Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, April 10, 2014
(Published in print: Thursday, April 10, 2014)
 
In the run-up to the release of its album later this year, the Shana Stack Band will turn up the volume on its country sound at the Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction Saturday night at 7. In addition to sharing vocal duties with Shana Stack, Ed Leavitt writes the band’s original music; his song, Let It Go, (no, not the Disney one) that is part of the soundtrack of the 2012 indie movie Compliance. The band, with awards ranging from the New England Music Award for country act of the year to the Independent Country Music Association’s country band of the year, has opened for the likes of Reba McEntire, Sugarland, Rascal Flatts, George Jones and Chuck Wicks. For tickets and more information, visit www.tupelohallvermont.com.

The Shana Stack Band to Open for The Band Perry 


Country Act of the Year by the New England Music Awards, The Shana Stack Band,  to open for Vocal Group of the Year by the Academy of Country Music Awards, The Band Perry at the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion at Meadowbrook on Sunday, August 3, 2014.  

Use Promo Code SSBP for a chance to win a Meet & Greet with The Band Perry.  Tickets can be purchased by clicking here

Gates open at 4:00 PM and Doors open at 5:00 PM.  The Shana Stack Band takes the Magic Hat Stage at 5:00 PM and again immediately following The Band Perry's performance.

 

Classicbands.com Interview with Ed Leavitt 

Gary James' Interview With Ed Leavitt Of
The Shana Stack Band

 

 


In 2013, The Shana Stack Band was named Country Band Of The Year and Fan's Choice Award Winners by the Independent Music Association of Nashville, Tennessee. They've opened for some of the biggest names in Country music, including Reba McEntire, Sugarland, Travis Tritt and Rascal Flatts. Ed Leavitt is a member of The Shana Stack Band. As a singer / songwriter he's worked with George Jones, Tracy Byrd, Mark Wills and The Don Campbell Band to name just a few. Besides having such an impressive resume, Ed Leavitt is a down to earth, sincere and all around nice guy. Now that's a winning combination! Ed talked with us about The Shana Stack Band.

Q - Ed, I see The Shana Stack Band will be performing at The Turning Stone Casino.

A - Yes. We have a double night there actually. We're going to be there the 24th and 25th of January (2014). Our first time playing there, so we're very excited about it.

Q - Usually a group will get one night. To get two nights is rare. In the old days, a group would get five nights.

A - Right. We're very, very fortunate and we're very grateful for the opportunity.

Q - You're excited about performing at The Turning Stone Casino and that's good. But besides the money, what are you hoping to get out of playing The Turning Stone Casino? Are you looking to expand your fan base maybe? Is that what it's all about?

A - (Laughs) Yeah, absolutely. That's part of it. We're always on the lookout to expand the fan base. That's always a key priority for us, in any way we can. You know very well the music business is all about connecting with people. So we spend a great deal of our time marketing ourselves and trying to get interviews, just like we're doing here. It's very important to us to get word out about the band, but also to promote our music so other people can hear the music and expand our territory, because when we first started, we were basically playing locally in the southern New Hampshire area and the over the years we began expanding our territory throughout all of New England and now we're basically billed as a regional band. So, it's nice. We've been expanding out to New York State, Maine, New Hampshire. Vermont, Rhode Island. So it's exciting to gain ground throughout New England. We're just very happy for the opportunities and we're very thankful for them.

Q - Everybody in The Shana Stack Band has such outstanding credits!

A - Thank you.

Q - Should this band be based in Keene, New Hampshire, or would you be better off being based in Nashville?

A - Here's the funny thing that you brought that up, 'cause we've come to a crossroads where we need to start making a decision like that. When we started this group, we all came from musical backgrounds. We've all done things with other bands and done solo projects. I've been writing music for many years, but when we brought this group together, it just seemed like it was very special because we immediately clicked. When you have a group like that, that immediately clicks and gels, then you are going to click with the audience and we've just been building that ever since. Our hope was always to build something like this. We didn't know it would grow the way it has. It just has continued to. We won the two awards from the Independent Country Music Association, which is located in Nashville, Tennessee. So, this year (2014) we have some hard thinking to do about what we want to do as far as what direction we want to continue to push this in. Do we want to stay in New England? Do we want to take it to more of a national level? I think there's a lot of thought that goes into that. So many details you have to think about, not only the band and the music, but think in terms of family and jobs. All that kind of stuff. We all own homes in this area. So many factors involved and in the music business today it's so up and down that you want to make sure you are always making the right choices, and thus far we have in everything we've done. We've made very calculated choices and we very carefully followed those choices. Now we are at that point where, okay, what do we do now? (Laughs). Frankly, we never envisioned that this would happen as quickly as it has. We've been a group since 2010. So, it's grown very rapidly in four years. We just, I guess, didn't expect that it would grow as fast as it did really. And that's kind of where we are at. We're trying to figure out which way do we go.

Q - I interviewed someone who quit their day job, a very good job, to go to Nashville to try and make it. After a year he threw in the towel and returned home.

A - It's a very, very tough business. I've been working with folks in Nashville for many years because I'm a member of the NSAI, which is the National Songwriters Association International. I've been a member since, I don't know, about ten years now. So I talk with folks in Nashville almost daily. You hear the stories of total chaos, upheaval and heartbreak of some of these poor people. They give up their jobs and their lives and move there in hopes of making it big and a year later they are coming back, saying, "Oh, my God! There's millions of people with that same dream." So, that's why we're all very careful about it.

Q - In Nashville, you couldn't get paid to play. You'd have to work a day job.

A - That's right.

Q - Maybe you're better off in New Hampshire.

A - We've sat down as a group and talked about these things many, many times. We have friends that are living in Nashville right now, trying to make it. It's a tough business. It really is. Quite often you are playing just for tips when you are in Nashville and you are one of thousands of people there. But then there's those few that have the hunger and perseverance to just hang with it. Maybe 1 per cent of those people are going to be lucky enough to get it. What we've sort of done is, we've kept the thought process that we want to be very strong. Our goal is to be very strong here in New England, throughout the entire New England region and maybe even push up into Canada at some point and see how that goes. Then, if we have opportunities to expand our territory down into the South or into the Nashville area, sure we'll do that. But none of us are going to put our homes up for sale anytime soon because we've seen over the years what happens to people that have. A few of them have been lucky, but it's a very small fraction of people. The Country music business is very competitive right now. It's become very popular as Country has become more Crossover and Pop-based, even Hip-Hop based lately. It's grown in popularity. Artists like Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, young artists like that have brought the young crowds back to Country music because for many years they lost the young crowds. So, it's really a popular genre at the moment. But the problem is, everyone wants to be a Country star now. It's like the big thing to do. One percent of those people are going to make it. You have to be very lucky. They say talent, talent, talent and talent is very important, absolutely, but luck is probably 90 per cent of it.

Q - I hear that again and again.

A - Yeah.

Q - I have a problem with Taylor Swift. I can't understand what she's singing. I'll catch maybe one word out of a sentence. I don't know if it's an enunciation problem or it's meant to be recorded that way, but what is that girl singing anyway?

A - (laughs). She's very controversial with a lot of people. She's got a very strong fan base, the tween age group, but even so, she spilled into middle aged people and older people who are listening to her. I've met women who are in their 60s and 70s who are like diehard Taylor Swift fans. It's funny, as a songwriter I like to listen to other people's material and find out what interests them. What do they write about? What is popular on today's radio? What's being played all the time? A lot of what she writes about is what the typical teenager goes through, the heart ache of breakup every other week. She's got a whole army of young people out there that connect with the songs that she writes and so she's basically singing about breaking up with another boyfriend and they are all connecting with it. I'm not sure where the older crowd is connecting with it. I think melodically her stuff might appeal to them. It's kind of singsong stuff as you are driving along in the car. That kind of thing.

Q - I don't know how you can do that. I don't understand what she's singing!

A - (Laughs).

Q - When Johnny cash saying "Ring Of Fire", you understood the words.

A - Oh, sure.

Q - When Kenny Rogers sang "The Gambler", you understood what he was saying.

A - Right.

Q - When Dolly Parton sings or Loretta Lynn, you know what they are singing.

A - Oh, absolutely.

Q - I'm telling you, I'm missing a great deal of the lyrics Taylor Swift is singing. I can't understand her! I can't hear her voice!

A - I think part of it too, and I've noticed that with today's Country music and popular music, is that when they are mixing these tracks down and mastering them, quite often I notice when I'm listening to them, for whatever reason, whoever is mastering them, is mastering the music above the melody line, above the lyric.

Q - Right!

A - So, quite often the singer is sort of pushed into the background while the guitars and drums are kind of driving the tune. I think that tends to be the way popular music is going right now. It's a real Hip-Hop beat to it. I know in our group, when you play clubs, you have to play "cover" tunes. We'd love to play original music all night long. That's what we do. That's what we are about, but when we play Toby Keith's next to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, it's a big crowd of people and they want to hear songs they know. You can slip a few originals in here and there, but you basically have to play what's popular on the radio. So we learn 'em. We do 'em. We do the cover tunes and some of the stuff I kind of chuckle to myself. I say, gosh, I can't believe I'm singing this stuff! But we do! (Laughs). If you want to stay relevant, you gotta stay up with the trends. That's one thing we work really hard at doing, but I certainly understand exactly what you're saying. It's a different world with the music world. It really is.

Q - I notice you're an ASCAP writer, not a BMI writer. When I think of ASCAP I think more of the David Foster type songwriters. Why are you with ASCAP?

A - Well, let me tell you why, and you're going to laugh because this is the truth. When I first started writing music many years ago and had to start registering the songs as part of my catalog, I was told, "You need to pick up a pro and you need to pick up one fast and you need to register one in." I'd literally took BMI and ASCAP and a couple of others that were sort of starting out at the time, through them into a hat, picked one and ASCAP came out and that's the one I registered with, and have been with ever since. So, that's the story. There's no rhyme or reason to it whatsoever. It wasn't like a conscious decision to go with one or the other. I've noticed more of the Country artists tend to go with BMI. I have a lot of friends who are writers in the Country field and they went with BMI. Then I just picked ASCAP out of a hat. I said okay, that's who I'm registering with and have been with them ever since. I don't do a lot with them as far as attending conferences and things like that. I use them mainly to register my catalog, so when you put the music out there, you're not worried about copyright infringement or things like that.

Q - How does a cover band get to the point where they begin writing their own songs?

A - To be honest, years and years ago I started writing literally my first song when I was nine years old. I can still remember it. I had a tendency to always write music, lyrics, melodies. It was one of those idiot savant things that was always with me as a kid. My parents say they always remember me standing in front of the TV as a little boy, four and five years old, making up these words and crazy little tunes coming out of me. I've always had that in me, to write music, to write songs. Even when I was in all my previous bands that were quite often cover bands, I was always infiltrating them with my original music. With this group, we made a conscious decision to do a lot more with the original music because we realize we could take this in two directions; we could continue to be a really great cover band and play in bars and clubs and make a decent salary out of it and have some fun, or we could get serious and say we don't want to be another cover band. We want to be something different. I'd been writing music for many years and have been seriously involved with other co-writers and working with the folks in Nashville. I'd had a song in a movie soundtrack, had some of my songs recorded by other artists. So, I've always been a pretty serious writer, but then when we formed this group, this group wanted to be different. Right from the outset we said we don't want to just be a cover band. We want to do something that makes us more happy and it makes us more happy to do our own music, create our own stuff. So we decided right from the outset we were going to do that. Within the first year we put out our first album and I think we're on album number three right now. And I've already started working on material for the fourth album. Collectively as a group, we just wanted not to be labeled another cover band. Wherever we play, it doesn't matter if it's a club or a bar or a big event, we will put our original music in. We tell people at all the venues we play at, that before they hire us, we'll do mostly cover material for your club, however we're also a very serious original band and we will be infusing our original material into the set list. If that's not okay then we're probably not the best band for your venue. So we approached it that way and we been honest with people and it's worked out. People have been like, okay, that's fine, yeah. And then, some people have been like, no, we want a cover band. We are perfectly fine with that and say best of luck to you. There's a lot of great cover bands out there. I'm sure you'll find one that fits your bill. And that's how we leave it.

Q - The Shana Stack Band appeared on the same bill as Sugarland. How did you get that gig? Through a promoter?

A - Yes. There is a venue in Gilford, New Hampshire. It's called Meadowbrook. It's an outdoor concert facility. I think originally when they built it a number of years ago it seated close to 10,000 people. This past year The Bank Of New Hampshire took over management, part management of it, and they added additional seating onto the pavilion of another 3000 to 4000 seats. So, it's grown to be quite a venue. I think the Country Music Association nominated it as Country Venue Of The Year twice in the last few years. It's getting recognized nationwide now. We had started putting out feelers with them a number of years ago when we first started the band. It takes a long time to build a relationship with people like this because everybody wants to open for somebody. There's a lot of bands in Vermont and New Hampshire and Maine and Massachusetts. Tons of Country bands. Everybody wants a slice of the pie and so you have to find a way of getting into these places and it's very difficult. Most of these bigger venues, they don't want you to know who the Booker is for these places. They don't want a ton of people calling them and e-mailing them and inundating them with PR packets. So what we would do, and this is literally how we did it, we started going to concerts there and then slowly we started talking to staff. We'd meet the people that would seat you, the aisle people, the people at the concession stands. We would just slowly ask questions. We'd say, "This is such a great place! We love it here. We have a band. We'd love to someday play a place like this." Slowly, you build relationships with these people. They see you there all the time. Then, little by little, they might open up a little bit. "Well, if you see so-and-so, they might be able to connect you with that person and that person may connect you with that person." Before long, three years later, you might be connected to the right person who can get you to an audition and that's what happened. The first year we played there we were very fortunate. We got to play with Reba McEntire. We spent some time backstage with her. It was a wonderful experience. Once you are in and they know you are good people; they know you aren't going to come in there and embarrass them or make a mess of your set and people walk out. Once you establish the fact that you are serious musicians and know what you're doing and that you're good as far as establishing relationships with these people and you are nice to work with and you don't have a reputation as being difficult, then low and behold you might be asked back to these places. That's what we did. It took a long time to establish that. To this day, no band that has done this sort of thing would reveal who they talk to at these places. We keep that very closely guarded because it took us years to unearth that and we don't share it with anybody else. (Laughs).

Q - But, I'm saying you took the long way around.

A - We did.

Q - Directories are put out listing who is in charge of these venues.

A - Yeah. Sometimes they do. It looks like that on the surface, but the person who is the gatekeeper is very often not that person they list in these directories. We have access to those directories too. We have used them and what we often find out is that, that gets you to Point A. You need to be at Point D or E and so by the time you get to E, you have gone on to another four people. These venues are very careful who they list and quite often it's very mysterious. It took us a long time to figure out who the Booker was at Toby Keith's. We had to go through a million hoops to figure that out. There's no easy way. It takes a long time to establish these relationships in the music business. It's really about connecting and patience. We've had to have incredible patience, but now we're at a point where because we've been patient and because we've waited our turn and because we've been nice to people to work with and because we show up on time and because we don't trash the dressing room and because we know our stuff and we get out there and entertain the crowd and get off the stage when we're told to and hustle when we're told to, then you get the reputation and then pretty soon doors open for you. And that's kind of how it's happened for us.

Q - So, I take it you have to know somebody to get into The Turning Stone Casino as well.

A - Absolutely. It took us two years to know that somebody. We've been working on getting in there for two years.

Q - See, I thought with the Internet, you'd send an e-mail and say "Here is our website. Read over our Bio. Watch our video."

A - Nope, not anymore. I don't want to say it's a closed off society, but finding the people can be very difficult. Even when you find them, you find the right person you're supposed to talk to and you start talking to them about yourself, they are like, "So what? I've got six other bands that have the same Bio as you do. How are you different from them?" Then you have to say, "Well, we have three albums we've released of original music. We won this award. We won that award. We've done this. We played here. We played this venue." Then, they might give you an audience and say, "Okay, let's talk." But not always. Not always. We've gone in with guns drawn to some clubs saying, "This is a no-brainer. We'll get in here." We throw all this stuff at them, all this stuff that we've done, and they look at us and say, "Yeah, well I've got four other bands that can do that too. I like this other band better. He knows my brother-in-law." That kind of thing. (Laughs).

Q - That is tough to combat

A - It is. It's all about knowing this one who knows that one. Sometimes we'll get frustrated. We'll sit down and say, "Why can't we get in there? We're just as good as that band we saw playing at that particular place." You do all kinds of research and it comes down to be so-and-so's brother knows the brother of the Booker and they are good buddies and they go out for an occasional beer and that's how they got in. So, sometimes it has no rhyme or reason other than the fact that it's all who you know and where you are at the moment you know them. That's the music business and it's a tough business. It really is. It's an incredibly tough business. That's why we've been so proud and happy and grateful and relieved to just have made it as far as we have. We never say this isn't good enough or we deserve better than this. We don't feel that way. We feel grateful for every opportunity we get. We are grateful to have this opportunity to speak with you. This interview can continue to open doors for us. You never know. We had a rule we set, a hard and fast rule we set when this group was formed and one of the things we promised one another, and we've managed to do it; we will always remain humble, no matter what happens. And we have done just that. No one in this group gets a big head at any time because we all realize it can all be gone tomorrow

Q - You've got a great attitude.

A - Well, thank you. That's the attitude we'll continue to keep. We realize it's a very competitive market out there and there's new groups cropping up all the time. I was noticing the other night, as part of the New England Music Awards that we've been nominated for; we were nominated in a category where there's all these young artists, one of the contestants is 17 years old. They're just cropping up everywhere! So, you have to realize it's a big world out there. There's a lot of people with talent. They all want a piece of the pie and it's hard to always share the pie, but you have to realize instead of making enemies with these people, you gotta keep them close to you.

Q - Another way of looking at it Ed is there are too many people singing, too many people playing instruments and too many people putting out music in one form or another. The public can't keep up!

A - That's exactly right.

Q - Go back to the days of the early Beatles, 1964. A wide-open territory act then.

A - Yeah, exactly. Right. And with the onset of Social Media like Facebook and all these other myriad of Social Media outlets out there, anybody can be a singer or a musician. You can start your own band page and boom, boom, boom, you are out there on the World Wide Web. People are just inundated every day with this stuff. It's hard to get recognized. It really is. You've got to do something that is going to touch these people. I guess if there's any successful formula, we've had to touch one fan at a time. In the summer time we do a summer concert series all over New England. All these individual towns, we found out, sponsor a summer concert series. We've traveled all over New England in the summer. I think we did close to 50 or 60 of these last year (2013). That's where we get to really meet people because it's an informal event where people come from the town and they sit down and listen. They are listening to your music. They are not there because you are the opening act for somebody and they don't really care about you or they are just biding time until the opening act comes on, or they are talking over their beers are talking over you while you are singing. These are people who show up for these concerts from the towns who want to hear these bands play and want to hear all original music. Quite often that's where we have most of our success connecting with people and selling our merchandise and getting our music out there into the hands of the people, right to them. We've grown our Facebook page two-fold over the last year because of this one person at a time. We always have something we do during the summer concerts; we take an intermission and divide the show into two halves. We'll do one hour and then we'll take an intermission and we go out into the people and we meet them. We greet and we shake hands. We sign merchandise. That's where we get to know people. We say if you like what you are hearing tonight and you've enjoyed meeting us, go on to our Facebook and like our page and sure enough people do it. We've grown our Facebook page over the last year by about 1500 or 1600 fans. That's quite an amazing amount of growth over the last year, just chatting to one person at a time.

Q - You were on the same bill as Travis Tritt.

A - Yes.

Q - You played to 100,000 people.

A - We did.

Q - That's quite a difference from playing in front of a club audience.

A - (laughs).

Q - Were you scared?

A - Well, what happened with that is, we were contacted by the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which sponsored the Sylvania 300, which is one of the largest races in the country. They hosted it. They have a large rectangle facility. They are part of the NASCAR family. We played there before. A number of years we played there, like two or three years in a row where we played for some smaller events. This is a huge facility and they have lots of events going on in their big weekends. They have a smaller restaurant venue and they asked us if we'd play for those and we said sure we'll do that. Sure enough, you do two or three of these and you get to know management. They listen to you and they get feedback from people. They contacted us and said, "We'd like you to open for Travis Tritt at the Sylvania 300 race. It's broadcast nationally and we'd like you to open." I'm like, "Of course we will." (Laughs). And so we did. It was a blast. It was an early morning for us. I remember it vividly. The weekend started out on Friday. Friday night we were in Massachusetts at the Big E Fair, performing there. Then we had to immediately leave the Fair and travel up to Maine to where we performed for Thomas College. They were inducting their brand-new college President, their first female Presidents ever in the history of the college and they hired our band to play for the ceremony and the after party. That was probably 3000 to 4000 people. Then that very night, after we finished that, we traveled back to New Hampshire, the Concorde, New Hampshire area and then we had to be at the racetrack at 7 AM that morning. The show began at 10 AM in the morning. I think we were on for about half an hour and then Travis Tritt came out about 15 minutes after and right after that they started the race. So, when we first got there, early, early in the morning, we were there probably quarter of seven, the place was already a nuthouse. It was just a crazy scene. I mean, who gets up this early on a Sunday morning to go to the racetrack? (Laughs). I guess I'm not like a huge racing enthusiast, but Shana Stack is a huge race fan. She said, "You have no idea how big this is Ed. This is a huge moment for us. Race fans are rabid in this country." I had no idea because I don't tend to watch car racing, but I learned a great lesson that day. A good majority of this good 'ole country are race fans. (Laughs).

Q - Did you get any bookings as a result of performing their?

A - Oh, absolutely. We were able to get into several venues after that. That's what kept us going to places like Meadowbrook and Toby Keith's. It just kept growing. We have a guestbook on our website and immediately after that show, people were writing comments saying, "Saw you at the Sylvania 300. You guys were awesome." We got a lot of press out of that. A lot of newspapers called us. We did a lot of interviews with them, radio interviews. So, it was well worth our time to do it. It really was.

Q - You worked with George Jones?

A - Yes, many years ago at a ranch in Webster, Massachusetts. I can't remember how old George was at the time. He was in his 70s I want to say, but George Jones never lost his popularity. Right up until the day he died he was hugely popular with all ages. There was just this charm about him and awe when you were in his company. This is George Jones! (Laughs). We never got to be on the stage the same time he was because we opened, but afterwards when we were packing up our gear and his crew was getting ready to go on, we got to meet his band and they were very nice guys. These were all veterans of the music business. They had done this their entire life. They came up and told us what a great job we did and that was such an honor for people like that to tell you that. Then when George Jones came out, there he was, bigger than life. He started singing hit after hit and you just realized, my God, this guy has had a million number one hits in his career. He's earned this stage in his life. He said during the show, "I could've retired a million times, but this is what I love to do and I'm going to do it until the day I die," and he did. He did just that. And he was very humble. Very humble. Very nice guy.

Official Website: www.ShanaStack.com
 
© Gary James. All rights reserved.
 
 

 

 

Named Country Act of the Year by the New England Music Awards 

Press Release

The Shana Stack Band wins Country Act of the Year
3rd Annual New England Music Awards

Lowell, MA, Saturday, February 22, 2014:  The New England Music Awards, located in Lowell, Massachusetts, announced today the winners of their 3rd Annual New England Music Awards - Country Act of the Year3nd Annual New England Music Awards. 

The New England Music Awards are presented every year to the musicians who call New England their home and whose dedication, spirit, and achievements over the last year have without a doubt established themselves as a contributing force to the most robust and diverse music scene in the country. The NEMA nominating committee consists of journalists from music publications, radio personalities, talent buyers, and record label execs collectively representing all six New England states.

The goal of NEMA is to celebrate and recognize some of the area’s best musical achievements. Every year NEMA will nominate over 100 artists and/or bands spanning a number of categories and genres of popular music in New England, including the coveted individual state awards which will select one band/act from each of the six states as its Best In State.

The Shana Stack Band, comprised of all New Hampshire musicians (Shana Stack, Ed Leavitt, John Sanchez, Kurt Ekstrom and Billy Moedebeck), was nominated in the Country Act of the Year category.  The New England Music Award committee received over 4,000 applications for the more than 25 categories and chose only 5 artists/groups to be represented in each category. 

At the awards ceremony Saturday evening, The Shana Stack Band was announced as this year’s Country Act of the Year for the 3rd Annual New England Music Awards.  The Shana Stack Band members were thrilled about the news.  “We couldn’t do this without all of our fans, friends and families.  We give up a lot of family-time during the year to play our music, and we thank them for allowing us this gift.”  They are appreciative of all of the support they receive during the year.  “The awards we have won over the last few years from the Country Band of the Year and the Fans Choice Award by the Independent Country Music Association to our new title as Country Act of the Year by the New England Music Awards, these mean so much to us.  It shows that the fans really approve of what we are doing.  The fans are really what make this adventure fun, exciting and sincerely rewarding.”

The band will release a fourth album in 2014.  Their their third album, “Every Now and Then”, has been a huge success.  The band is looking forward to another successful year, traveling all across New England to perform for their fans.  They have opened for Country Superstars such as Reba McEntire, Sugarland, Travis Tritt, Rascal Flatts and have a pending announcement for another opening spot for a large Nashville artist. You can view their website and order their latest CD by visiting www.ShanaStack.com

 

SUBWAY . . . Eat Fresh! 

 

We are excited to announce that The Shana Stack Band has just wrapped up the taping of a SUBWAY commercial.  Spots will begin airing throughout NewEngland in the Winter 2014.  Look for them in one of four commercials coming soon.  SUBWAY!  Eat Fresh!

The Shana Stack Band are a New England success story in the making 

Shana Stack Band are a New England success story in the making

Stack formed this band with the goal of becoming one of the top acts in New England while releasing current original music. The secret to their success isn’t hard to understand. “We’ve worked very hard,” she said. “We always try to stay up to date with cover tunes as well. We want to have the latest stuff in our repertoire of what’s currently hitting the charts.”

Stacks credits her band’s booker-promoter Conrad Farnham for constantly working behind the scenes to find them opportunities. The band decided early on to concentrate on their music without getting tied up with booking work. Stack, prior to her current band, had been a member of the New Hampshire Country Music Association and won many awards through them which resulted in her competing in awards shows for all of New England and down in Nashville. For a three year period prior to her current band, Stack fronted Shana Stack And Fast Lane. Her current band mates, too, had lots of previous experience and years worth of contacts.

“I wanted to go into a different direction doing more originals and playing in larger venues, and I got together with other musicians who had the same goals,” she said. “We formed the Shana Stack Band.”

Stack and her band mates play out all over New England and New York state. Though they’ve won awards through a Nashville organization, they’ve passed on the usual route of recording down there. “We decided it was more important to us to support our local studios or regional in New England,” she said. “We feel our studios and studio professionals are just as good as those down in Nashville. We wanted to keep our money local and support the New England economy.” So, they recorded their three albums in New Hampshire.

Stack markets her band around New England and New York through social network media and through line dancing fans who come out to their shows. “You really have to make a connection with the music lovers. They help to spread the word to get you into different places.”

ShanaStackPromoPic1Stack has won so many awards now that it’s hard to keep count. Just last spring, the band won two awards from the Independent Country Music Association, Band Of The Year and The Fans Choice Award. It’s fantastic and we really appreciate any award we win, whether it be a local one or something more national. I don’t want to say one award means more than another, but I’m super proud of the ones we’ve done as a group. The ones we’ve won in the last year, the one out of Nashville for the Independent Country Music Association, that was super huge to us. There were other acts that were from down south that we competed against and that was an industry nominated award. It wasn’t just us going to Facebook saying ‘Hey Friends, vote for us..’ The Country Band Of The Year Award from the Independent Country Music Association, that was super awesome. We also won the fan voted award. It was like 30,00 votes or something. That was a big surprise. A lot of the people that were nominated were big heavy hitters in that association so we feel we’re the little engine that could.”

Stack has another job in the music industry that puts her before a large local fan base. She’s the midday DJ at 98.7 FM WINK Country radio station in Keene, New Hampshire. Her 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on air hosting runs Monday through Saturday.

Stack got her start in music as an actress in musical theater in grade school, high school, college, and community theater. She spent two years at Keene State College majoring in musical theater. Her community theater work found her landing the leads in Theater In The Mount productions in Gardner, Massachusetts and in some Lion Clubs shows in Keene. “That’s what I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. Then, I discovered my love for country music in college and shifted gears,” she said.

Her earliest musical influences, when she jumped into country, were the country female vocalists at the time, Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood.

“They had these big full voices and my musical theater style connected with that kind of music,” she said. “I started singing some of that because it really touched me. Then, it just went from there. Then, I found the New Hampshire Country Music Association and I started competing with them, and that was before I had a band. I just kept pursing it. It’s hard for people up north sometimes to pursue things. People think you have to move down to Tennessee. I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to go that route. There’s millions of people down there, all struggling. I just wanted to do my own thing and do it up here and be happy and content and proud of what we do up here. Ever since then, the country world up north has grown. It’s taken off in the last couple years, especially this year there’s a lot of country venues. Country has crossed over, so a lot more people that did not like country before like it now. So, there’s a lot more fans out there and there’s a lot more opportunities for country acts than ever before.”

Stack connects on the real life emotions and events that inform the lyrics in country music. “It’s based in real life,” she said. “If you look at some of the newer songs on, the guys are talking about hanging out in their trucks. They’re going out with their women on Friday night after working hard all week. It’s really like real people, real songs.”

ShanaStackPromoPic3Stack favors performing Top 40 country music because she knows from being a DJ that people want to hear music they know, especially songs that are new hits. She also keeps them dancing to their original songs written by her rhythm guitarist Ed Leavitt. “It’s great to have the audience still up dancing and singing along to the songs that Ed wrote that we arranged just as much as they were the famous hits. They blend in. They fit in well with what’s going on.”

Shana Stack Band has opened for Rebe McIntyre, Rascal Flatts, Sugarland, and many others, allowing the local group to expose their music to more country fans. They got to open for Travis Tritt at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on a pre-race stage right on the track. “I have a love of NASCAR. To mix that with the whole ‘Oh my goodness, there’s Travis Tritt right over there.’ We’re performing right before a show on a NASCAR track. It just blew my mind. That was one of my favorite days.”

Stack once got to hang up with Billy Yates who wrote “Choices” for George Jones as well as many hits for many country artists. Stacks opened for him some years ago. Yates and his entourage had to stay up late because they had to leave at two in the morning for an early flight. “They came and raided our cottage and they wanted whatever food we had because they were starving. All I had was some Oreos. It was hilarious.”

Stack most enjoys detailing the talents of her own band mates and all that they bring to the band. First up, lead guitar player John Sanchez has a degree from the University of Michigan in music. “He moved his family out to New Hampshire several years back. He’s been with us, and he’s fantastic.”

Drummer Kurt Ekstrom joined the band two years ago. Out of the Concord area, Stack said he’s a top notch drummer. “He had come from a rock band, and he’s just been the driving backbeat of the group.”

Bass player Billy Moedebeck just joined the band last fall. Previous bass player Kevin Miller retired. “He had been with me since the beginning with all my different groups and everything. Then, Billy joined the group. He comes to us from a rock and R&B background. It’s really cool to have this conglomeration because that’s what country music is now.”

ShanaStackPromoPic4Rhythm guitarist Ed Leavitt is also the band’s songwriter. “Ed is fantastic,” she said. “He’s a songwriter. When he creates the songs, it’s basically just him and his acoustic guitar. He records a song and burns it on CD. We each listen to it and create our own parts. The lead guitar player is creating his from scratch. The bass player’s creating his from scratch. The same with the drummer. We get together. That’s how we built these songs and built the albums. It’s a group effort, after Ed writes the lyrics and melody lines.

Aside from being the band’s rhythm guitarist, co-lead vocalist, and songwriter, Ed Leavitt is also the band‘s best spokesperson. He had plenty to say about his songwriting process and the five new songs on the latest release Every Now And Then.

Lately, Leavitt has been getting some songwriting ideas by following peoples’ lives by what they post on Facebook. One night, he noticed a friend’s post about being in a new relationship but still occasionally thinking about her former boyfriend and her old life. After thinking how odd it was to post that on Facebook, it gave him the idea to write a song called “Every Now And Then” which became their latest title track.“

“I kept thinking about it from a woman’s perspective, what it would be like to get involved with a relationship but every now and then you sneak a look back into your previous life and what that was like,” Leavitt said. “It’s really funny how just perusing Facebook and nosing around you see the craziest things that people post and it gives you really great ideas.”

“High Ground,” also on the new album, was inspired by a friend of Leavitt’s who went through a break up a number of years ago. “I remember her saying she just needed to move on and get to a higher plain in her life and forget about what happened with this person and just move on to a higher ground. “I basically stole her thoughts and just went with it and wrote it from there,” he said.

“It worked out great. Shana, being the female vocalist, I just feed her all these songs. Of course, people think they’re about her life. Wherever we play, they come up to her all the time, ‘Gee, Shana, where did you get the idea for that song?’ She’ll say she didn’t write the song. “ Some audience members also show sympathy that she’s gone through so many problems. “She says, ‘On no, my life is just fine. These are just songs,’” he recounted.

ShanaStackPromoPic5Leavitt sings lead vocals on another of the new songs, “Windsor County Line,” a country rocker with an edge. The traditional melodic feel gets a boost from the drums and the lead guitar parts rock it up. Leavitt wrote the song about an exit off of Vermont Interstate 91, the Windsor Vermont exit. During a gorgeous summer day, he was heading down the highway when the song came to his mind. “The rest of it is all basically fictitious about meeting a girl down by the creek,” he said. “I just added that for fun. But it was really inspired by that day. You could not have asked for a more beautiful day in the world.” The band always dedicate the songs to folks in Vermont. “That’s gotten a really great reception from Vermont fans. They’ve made it their little song.”

A new song called “Just Kiss Me” was inspired by Leavitt’s daughter who once tried to gain the affections of a shy boy at high school. She asked her father, “Should I tell him to just kiss me?” Leavitt had a father’s response: “Absolutely not,” he exclaimed. “You don’t tell him anything like that. You stay away from boys. They’re bad. Don’t ever go near them.” Now that his kids have grown, he still has memories of those times with his kids. He recalled his daughter’s suggestion that she tell the boys to “just kiss me.” It became the song.

“This Love,” also off the new record, was inspired by Taylor Swift, whom Leavitt credits for bringing more young people into the country music fold and making the genre more popular than ever. “I was inspired by a couple of her songs that she’d written,” he said. “I don’t want to say I stole her melody, but I borrowed pieces from her songs. That song has been the most popular one off the entire CD. It’s not uncommon for people to ask us to play it again during the night. It’s just got that feel good pop melody to it and the drumbeat is really catchy. We were playing at the Boston Harbor Hotel this past summer outside for their big concert series, right on the water, beautiful venue. We played that song during the set and then we got a call months later from a big huge property development company in the Boston area. They wanted to hire us to play their company holiday party. There was probably eight or nine hundred people at this party. They said their sole reason for hiring us for this big corporate event was that song. They loved that song so much, the people that hired us that were in charge of hiring for the entertainment. She said ‘I remember that song out of all the songs that night. It stuck out in my mind,’ the organizer told him.

Leavitt helped form this current outfit after he had known Stack for several years, being that the New England music scene is rather small and players all know one another. Leavitt’s previous band had folded and he had been working with the Nashville Songwriters Association when Stack called him looking to find a replacement rhythm guitarist. They put the band together by sifting through contacts made in the business and everybody brought in their own fan base.

“We work hard and we’re disciplined,” he said. “The group rehearses every single week. We’re always learning new tunes. We make sure we pad our set with both original music and cover tunes. I think that’s what makes our formula unique because we focus on original music. I think there’s some wonderful cover bands but it’s really original music that sets you apart from other groups.”

Leavitt enjoys working with Stack, describing her as the most fun and easy person to work with. Stack and the others are open to new ideas, the songwriter said. “She’s just a joy to work with,” Leavitt said. “She’s just an average everyday person. She doesn’t have an ego about her. She just loves music and loves to get up there and sing and entertain and she holds a captive audience for any number of hours.”

What Leavitt most enjoys about being in the Shana Stack Band is the family atmosphere of the band. They recently threw a Christmas party for themselves, including the kids, the wives. “We’ve done it every year for four years now,” he said. “It’s just the camaraderie. We all get along and everybody has a good time and we laugh, just laugh constantly.”

2014 will find the band opening new doors. Stack said it’s time for one of Leavitt’s songs to become a storyline video. “We’re looking to do that this year and put out some new originals as well, keep chipping away,” she said. “You just can’t rest. You’ve got to keep doing what you’re doing and keep moving ahead and moving forward.

www.shanastack.com

Our City Radio Interview 1/14/2014 

The Shana Stack Band: The New England Music Awards ‘Country Act of the Year’ Nominee

Written by Heather Moreau. Posted in Country News, Music News, Site, Station News, Uncategorized, Whats Hot

A Great Band

Class, professionalism, and talent are just a few words that come to mind when I think of The Shana Stack Band. They have only been together since 2010, but have quickly proved to be one of the top bands in the region. The work that they are doing are forcing people to take notice and getting them some serious recognition. They are incredibly gracious and appreciate their fans and any and all attention they receive (that includes their manager). They even created a way for their fans to be involved with one of their albums. Fans were able to contribute as sponsors and get their name in the liner notes as well as an autographed copy when it was released. This is just one example of how they are keeping themselves accessible and grounded.

Forming the Band

All of the band members have played in bands prior to getting together. Shana and Ed knew of each other while playing in other bands, and when those bands parted ways they decided to play together. They started hunting for other members and put together an extremely talented group including Shana Stack on vocals, Ed Leavitt on vocals and rhythm guitar, John Sanchez on lead guitar and vocals, Billy Moedebeck on bass, and Kurt Ekstrom on drums.

A Music Machine

This talented and hard-working group has released three albums in three years. Ed is the song writer in the band and is constantly writing. He is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Association International, and had one of his songs featured in the movie "Compliance" which was released by Magnolia Pictures in 2012. Ed finds inspiration everywhere for his songs, whether it is a personal experience or a funny observation at the grocery store, he is always brainstorming. He writes the song with his acoustic guitar and then the rest of the band members infuse themselves into it. While he does the writing he says the entire band is responsible for building the songs, and that Shana is great at interpreting the lyrics he writes. With the way Ed writes don’t be surprised to hear even more new music from them sooner rather than later.

Holding their own with Music Heavyweights

The Shana Stack Band is not only busy writing music, but they are busy out playing music for their fans. Last year they played about 85 dates and this year they will be playing around 100 shows. They have played all over New England, Pennsylvania, and New York. The band’s talent is getting them booked on shows with country super stars like Sugarland, Reba McEntire, Rascal Flatts, and Travis Tritt. They have opened shows three years in a row at Meadowbrook, and also played at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The band has also been booked to play two nights in New York at the Turning Stone Casino on January 24 and 25, where usually only big name national acts play. Look for this band to play near you and get out to see them (check their website for a list of shows, there are a lot). Even if you are not a Country music fan, you should check them out, as they are constantly surprising and converting people into new loyal fans.

Keep the Nominations Coming

The Shana Stack Band is a nominee for The New England Music Awards ‘Country Act of the Year’. This may be their first nomination from NEMA, but they are no strangers to receiving awards. They just received two national awards from the Independent Country Music Association in Nashville: Country Band of the Year (voted on by their peers) and Fan’s Choice Award. Shana has also received numerous awards for top female vocalist in New Hampshire as well as the northeast region. They are excited each time they receive a nomination. To vote for The Shana Stack Band go to http://www.nemusicawards.com/nominees for ‘Country Act of the Year’. Voting ends on January 31, 2014.

A Great Example

While the band seems to be sky rocketing they are truly humble. They are happy to take their time and be a New England based band. They are planning to branch out to more areas in New England that they have not traveled to yet. The band members agree to take it step by step and explore the options as they come. I have no doubt after listening to their music and speaking with them that they will soon be national stars whether they want to or not. They will no longer be asking to be the opening band, they will be asked to be the headliner. A lot of bands, regardless of the genre, should take note of what they are doing. They work their butts off and regardless of how much success they are achieving they remain humble, gracious, and are unbelievably professional.

For more information on The Shana Stack Band, their music, and show dates go to one of their pages.

Website: http://www.shanastack.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Shana-Stack-Band/101538929908902

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShanaStackBand

ReverbNation: http://www.reverbnation.com/theshanastackband

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/ShanaStackBand

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/the-shana-stack-band/id535806869

The New England Music Awards http://www.nemusicawards.com/

New Hampshire Band wins National Recognition 

The Shana Stack Band wins 2 national awards
Band of the Year and the Fans Choice Award

Nashville, TN, Monday, July 1, 2013: The Independent Country Music Association, located in Nashville, Tennessee, the Country Music Capital of the World, announced today the winners of their 2nd Annual Independent Country Music Association Awards.

The Independent Country Music Association (ICoMA) exists to educate, evaluate, and promote indie country music. The Shana Stack Band, comprised of all New Hampshire musicians (Shana Stack, Ed Leavitt, John Sanchez, Kurt Ekstrom and Kevin Miller), was nominated in 3 categories: Country Band of the Year, Album of the Year, for their sophomore album, “What You See Is What You Get” along with the Fans Choice Award. The Band of the Year and Album of the Year categories were voted on by the Association while the Fans Choice Award was voted on and determined solely by the fans.

The Shana Stack Band began the journey of rallying their over 1,500 fans on Facebook and live audiences to begin voting for the Fans Choice Award. The fans began a grassroots campaign to win the Fans Choice Award. The voting began in April and ended on June 30, 2013.

In a press release on the evening of July 1, by Alan Shephard Sr., President of the Independent Country Music Association, written to all members and nominees (winners) of the vast array of awards, The Shana Stack Band was named for both the Fans Choice Award and Country Band of the Year.

The Shana Stack Band members were ecstatic about the news. They are also a humble group of musicians. “We couldn’t do this without all of our fans, friends and families. Our families give up a lot of family-time to allow us to play music.” They are appreciative of all of the support they receive during the year. “The Fans Choice Award means so much to us. It shows that the fans really approve of what we do. They are what make this adventure fun and exciting.”

Congratulations to The Shana Stack Band on all of their success. They are really moving forward in their endeavors. The band has just released their third album, “Every Now and Then”, which sold over 100 copies, prior to its release date in June 2013. The band will be performing 17 dates in July and will travel thousands of miles all across New England to perform for the fans. They have opened for Country Superstars, such as Reba McEntire, Sugarland, Travis Tritt and will be opening for Rascal Flatts on Saturday, August 2 at Meadowbrook in Gilford, New Hampshire. You can view their website and order their latest CD by visiting www.ShanaStack.com

Tupelo Music Hall 

 


 
Nominated by the Independent Country Music Association for Band of the Year, Album of the Year and Fans Choice Award, The Shana Stack Band excites their audience with their high energy, high impact show. The Shana Stack Band features multi-national award winning vocalist Shana Stack, and Nashville Songwriter's Association International member, Ed Leavitt, the male vocalist and songwriter of the group.

The Group focuses on new Top 40 Country, and original music written by Ed Leavitt. "Let it Go", one of Ed's songs, has been featured in the movie Compliance which was released nationwide in the summer of 2012 by Magnolia pictures.

The Shana Stack Band has opened for such mega stars as Reba McEntire, Sugarland, as well as performing before Travis Tritt on the Main Stage at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway before the Nascar Sprint Cup Race. The band has performed shows all across New England at a variety of venues including Meadowbrook Pavilion, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the Big E Fair!

The band will be opening for Rascal Flatts in August 2013 at Meadowbrook Pavilion.

The band released their second full-length original CD, "What You See Is What You Get" summer 2012 and their third album released in June 2013.

Without a doubt, The Shana Stack Band hits the stage with one goal in mind…To engage the audience and leave them wanting more.
 
 
 
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