Score another one for Dixie Fuller.
For the second year, he has scheduled a hot new country duo for a Riverbend Festival stage who was virtually unknown at the time of the booking.
Fuller, Riverbend’s production coordinator and talent buyer, booked Florida Georgia Line for the 2013 festival when that duo was still trying to “Cruise” onto radio airplay. By Riverbend week, FGL was country’s hottest new act, and the duo drew a record crowd for a Riverbend side stage.
This weekend, Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney — known to country music fans as Dan + Shay — will take the Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union Stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 7.
“A year ago we couldn’t sneak into Riverbend or the ACMs,” joked Smyers in a phone interview about their quick rise to fame. “A dream of mine was just to hear a song of mine on the radio; and even now, every time I hear our song, I’ll text Shay or he’ll text me. I was at Walmart the other day and saw Country Weekly (May 18’s feature on the duo) and took out my cellphone to shoot a picture of it.”
Dan + Shay released their first single, “19 You + Me,” last October. It went gold and reached No. 7 on the country airplay charts. That single’s success led Dan + Shay to become the only country duo to have their first album debut at No. 1. In addition to the release of their CD “Where It All Began” in April, the pair received a top vocal duo nomination by the Academy of Country Music. Three significant honors within six months.
Fuller credits US101’s Gator Harrison for giving him the tip to check out Dan + Shay last year. Fuller says once he saw them, he knew they were headed for success.
IF YOU GO
■ What: Dan + Shay
■ When and where: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 7, on the Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union Stage, Riverfront Parkway
■ Admission: Riverbend weekly wristband ($50); one-night wristband ($26).
■ Phone: 423-756-2211.
■ Website: www.danandshay.com
“When you’ve been booking talent for awhile, you get a feeling about it. You just know when an act will be a hit. You can picture it, hear it, see the stage and the people’s faces,” Fuller explains.
That same instinct about the right fit also applied when Smyers and Mooney met at a mutual friend’s party in December 2012.
“We hit it off, and the next day we decided to write together,” say Smyers. “The first song we wrote got put on hold by Rascal Flatts by 6 p.m. that night.”
Rascal Flatts went on to put nine of Dan + Shay’s songs on hold, and recorded two: “I Like the Sound of That” and “DJ Tonight.” Within two months, the pair signed a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Music.
“That was awesome,” Smyers says of that big break. “We were huge Rascal Flatts fans growing up, so it was a huge honor. They’ve been real cool to us. When outside artists start listening to the songs we are writing, it’s an acceptance into the community that you are looking for. To get recognized by those guys was definitely a huge acceptance.”
Smyers says the two wrote all the songs for “Where It All Began” within seven months. Its debut single, “19 You + Me,” about a summer romance at Myrtle Beach had an everyman appeal that listeners bought into — most likely because it pulled from the writers’ own experiences.
“We wrote that with our friend Danny Orton,” says Smyers. “I had an idea for a nostalgic summer-love song. Danny went to Myrtle Beach for his honeymoon, and I went to Myrtle Beach almost every summer growing up. Everybody’s had that summer romance, and it’s cool to reflect on it and create a song that touches thousands of lives. We get texts saying ‘That’s the story of me and my fiancé’ all the time.”
The duo opened for Hunter Hayes earlier this year, and they’ll be touring with Blake Shelton this summer. In October, they’ll headline their own tour. And all this time, they’ve continued writing. In fact, Smyers quips they are “halfway through their third album” in songs.
Three weeks ago, the duo’s second single was released, “Show You Off.”
“The new single is high-energy, fun for a live show,” says Smyers. He adds they’ll play it as well as test some of their unheard music on fans at Riverbend.
“We’re really looking forward to our show at Riverbend. We can always tell how excited a place is by looking at Twitter. We’ve been seeing so many tweets saying fans are looking forward to this show. We’re looking forward to getting there and getting the audience rocking.”
Contact Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6284.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...