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Songs and Stories For St Jude

  • Jul26
    Thursday 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
  • Surf Ballroom 460 N Shore Drive
    Clear Lake, IA United States

Join The Country Moose and Jesse In the Morning for our 2nd annual Songs and Stories for St Jude event on Thursday, July 26th at the Surf Ballroom Cypress Lounge in Clear Lake! It’s a night of live country music to benefit the kids of St Jude with four of Nashville’s rising country stars.

See Stephanie Quayle, CJ Solar, Ben Gallaher and Risa Binder live in concert at 7pm! Learn more about the artists and hear some of their songs below!

You can see them up close and personal in a songwriter style event where they will sing, play and tell the stories behind their songs!

It’s a free will donation to get in, all proceeds go to St Jude! Brought to you in part by our friends at:

Stephanie Quayle

Stephanie Quayle’s new much anticipated album LOVE THE WAY YOU SEE ME captures the heart of storytelling as she offers the genre a fresh sound, relatable storylines and an invigorating presence that is unmatched in today’s musical spectrum. Harnessing her signature passion and pairing it with an authentic artistry, fans can expect to hear and feel exactly what they didn’t know they were missing.

“This music has changed me and I have found what I believe to be my place in country music. I have never been more comfortable in my voice and skin as I am today.”

Rising country artist Stephanie Quayle continues to captivate listeners whether she is on stage in a packed venue or a small intimate setting. Recently invited to make her debut on the Grand Ole Opry, host the ACM Awards red carpet with partners Wrangler and Wrangler Network along with an invitation to perform for the five former U.S. presidents (Obama, W. Bush, Clinton, H.W. Bush and Carter) as part of the hurricane relief concert “Deep From The Heart: The One America Appeal” in Texas, the vibrant blonde’s radiating energy and booming personality grabs hold of an audience and doesn’t let go as she belts out her songs from behind her guitar and piano.

“Man, country music is better off with [Stephanie Quayle] in it!” – Lee Greenwood

Newest radio single, “Selfish,” offers a bold and honest female perspective that is garnering reactions from couples at every live performance. The song is climbing the Billboard Country Airplay chart and making waves all across the country.

Nashville is buzzing about the rising star. Rolling Stone Country named Quayle a Top 10 “Artist You Need To Know;” filmed the exclusive performance on top of the Empire State Building; Our Own Nashville calls the new album one of the “most refreshing good albums” heard in awhile; and attended the star-studded Farrah Fawcett Foundation benefit event as a special guest and performer.

Quayle’s debut single “Drinking With Dolly” from the new record is close to her heart. It is an anthem for all the women of country in a time when female artists are rising together to make a major impact in today’s music scene. Quayle celebrated her first Top 50 record on the Billboard Indicator chart. The single was a catalyst for moments like a #1 music video on the CMT Music 12-Pack Countdown, her national television debut, and an invitation to the respected Island Hopper Songwriter’s Festival.


CJ Solar

With the fuel of both Southern rock and country music influences pumping through his veins, it’s no surprise that Sea Gayle Music’s CJ Solar is a natural at fusing the two worlds. Combine that with Delta blues, compliments of a childhood spent in Cajun country, and you’ve got one badass up-and-comer, with the pure musical talent and vocal chops to back him up. Already turning heads throughout Nashville, Baton Rouge, and beyond, and having been named one of the “New Artists You Need To Know” by Rolling Stone Country, Solar says the driving force behind his untimely success isn’t fame or fortune – it’s just a diehard infatuation with the music he grew up on.

“I just want to write songs that say something that really means something. I want to ride around in a van, tour the country, and play songs with my buds. Everything I do in music, I want to do it for the love of the music and the sake of the song,” he adds.

As a songwriter, October 2017 couldn’t have been a better month for Solar. On October 7, Jerrod Niemann released his album on Curb Records which included “The Regulars,” a song co-written by Solar. Jerrod has previously recorded a Solar song, “Blue Bandana,” which was released two years ago as a single for Niemann. The following weekend, Morgan Wallen’s new single “Up Down” featuring Florida Georgia Line was released – another Solar co-write. “Up Down” is currently a Top 30 hit…and climbing! That was followed by two Solar cuts released by Texas artists Mike Ryan (“Damn Goodbye”) and Kyle Park (“What The Heaven”) at the end of the month. Solar also wrote “Between You & Me” on Justin Moore’s current album.

As an artist, Solar’s debut EP, “Hard One to Turn Down” released on Sea Gayle Records in 2016, received critical acclaim. Critics said:

  • “Solar injects a hefty (and welcome) dose of Southern rock into his country, which melds perfectly with his gravelly vocals.” – Daily Country
  • … was “immediately captivated by all five songs and hoped that (the EP) obtains the recognition it deserves.” – Country Music Rocks
  • …found it “exactly what country fans are looking to savior.” – The Rowdy
  • …welcomed ‘Hard One to Turn Down’ as “the perfect pairing of country storytelling and rocking rhythms, married by his dynamic vocals” and named him to their 17 To Watch In 17 list. – The Shotgun Seat

While the debut single “Tallboy” was only released digitally, it garnered about 2 million streams on Spotify and its video hit #1 on the fan-voted CMT 12-Pack Countdown after spending 13 weeks in the countdown. The following single “Just Another Day In The Country” was released to secondary radio and was one of the fastest rising and highest charting debut singles for an independent artist (#27 Music Row/#44 Billboard Indicator).

While touring the country in 2017 headlining his own shows and opening for such artists as The Cadillac Three, Old Dominion, Hank Williams, Jr., .38 Special, and more, he continued to write and record.

Solar has just completed his sophomore EP, and the debut single “Airplane” is taking off at country radio!


Ben Gallaher

With Ben Gallaher what you see is what you get. His songs are autobiographical anthems of growing up in South Central Pennsylvania with a passion for ‘90s country, a reverence for the guitar masters, and a self-awareness that connects like super glue with his growing fan base.

Genuine in his songwriting, gifted in his self-taught musicianship, and energetic in his stage performance, Gallaher doesn’t just understand his fans: he is cut from the same cloth. Whether he is performing in a dusty roadhouse or state prison he delivers his truth in songs that reflect the dignity of simple things and a deeply-rooted respect for what matters.

He mines those concepts in his self-titled debut EP on Sony Music Nashville, which will be released on August 11. From the first searing guitar riff, Gallaher comes across as an artist with confidence and a keen sense of what he wants to say.   

“If I could go back and change one line or note, I wouldn’t change a thing,” said Gallaher with total sincerity. “It is exactly the record I wanted to make. There are some rock ‘n’ roll influences there, but it is country, aggressive and energetic.”

His voice is as raw as unvarnished wood with a smoky texture reflective of the backwoods bars where he honed his unbridled stage craft. He commits completely to the emotional quality of each cut and his vocals are earnest and believable.

“Conway Twitty said something like ‘A good country song takes a page out of someone’s life and puts it to music,’” Gallaher recalled. “I thought about that with every song. I want someone to hear this record, relate to it, and have it make a positive impact. That’s my goal.”

From diving “head first” into life and young love with “Against the World”; the power of sticking to your purpose in “Good Guys Win”; the lament of what’s lost to time in “You Can’t Do That Anymore”; finding “Heaven in a shotgun seat” with “American Angel,”; and the self-portrait “If You’re Like Me,” Gallaher removes the artifice and focuses on the stripped-down reality of the moment.

Which is a stark contrast to his elevated, otherworldly guitar playing.  

Gallaher was a toddler when he started banging Campbell’s soup cans with pencils as drumsticks. He grew up in Camp Hill, PA. His family wasn’t musical, but they recognized musical talent and bought him his first guitar when he was 6 years old. He still has it.

“I fell in love with it,” Gallaher said. “I always felt that music was instilled in me; like it was God’s plan. It just fit me. I didn’t have a choice. I had to play music.”

He followed his passion to Nashville. After a year at his family’s alma mater Penn State, he enrolled at Belmont University to learn everything he could about the music business. He quickly formed a four-piece band, played weekend gigs up the Eastern corridor, and showed up for class on Monday morning.

“Talk about two different worlds,” he laughed. “Here I was renting a van before I could buy one.

I was just so enamored by the whole road thing and how to work a crowd. You can’t learn that in a classroom, you have to do it.”

What it taught him was an appreciation for hard work, preparation, and an even deeper fondness for the foundation of the format including the icons of the ‘90s who influenced his childhood musical manna: Brooks & Dunn, Clint Black and Tim McGraw.

In fact, Gallaher was in elementary school when he made his first public performance singing McGraw’s “I Like It, I Love It” at a church talent show. By high school he was writing songs and playing solo acoustic performances wherever there was a barstool.

“The dream was to be a country music singer,” he said. “There is a point when the switch goes from that idea being a dream that is unchaseable, to thinking, ‘I could really give this thing a shot and make the move.”

Early on, he connected with some of Nashville’s top writers including many who contributed to the EP including Neil Thrasher, Ben Hayslip, Jimmy Yeary and Brett Beavers, among others. He applied his uncompromising work ethic to songwriting with co-writes four days a week for two years, jotting ideas and titles in a leather notebook, pen on paper.

“I have so much respect for all the writers in this town and I was fortunate, and lucky, and blessed to get to write with some of the very ones I grew up listening to and loving their songs,” Gallaher said.

So, when it was time to record the EP he had an astounding, 150 songs to cull through for the final five cuts. “All of the songs say something about me,” he said. “There isn’t a song on there that doesn’t represent me.”

And like Gallaher, with his debut EP, what you see is what you get.


Risa Binder

A lifelong believer in the power of creative visualization and the notion that “what your heart and mind focus on” can manifest in a vibrant new reality, Risa Binder has a colorful “Dream Wall” in her home. She constantly posts clippings and images that reflect concrete career and personal goals she’s set on achieving. Since breaking through with her critically acclaimed 2014 EP Nashville – named for the Maryland native’s newly adopted hometown – the multi-talented emerging country music powerhouse and Emmy nominated songwriter has been adding to the wall nonstop, chasing down old dreams and envisioning and conquering new ones all the time.

Helmed by Grammy Award winning producer Luke Wooten, who has worked behind the boards magic for Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, Dustin Lynch and Kellie Pickler, Nashville’s infectious first single “Gotta Have You” debuted at #26 on the iTunes Country Releases chart and quickly entered heavy rotation on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio’s “The Highway” channel. Risa, whose earlier song “Just Like That” was Emmy nominated for “Best Song in a Daytime Drama” after its prominent feature on “General Hospital,” is currently back in the studio with Wooten, working on fresh, explosive new tracks that reflect the fiery, sassier side of her personality.

While their original intention was to record a handful of new tunes and release an album that included previously released cuts from Nashville, the prolific singer-songwriter is excited that they may wind up with enough material to create a completely new full length project. The tracks Risa is most excited about are “Burn Baby Burn,” about an electro-charged but ultimately doomed relationship between a boy and a girl who are like “fire and gasoline”; the female self-empowerment anthem “Pretty,” which reassures even the most offbeat women that they are beautiful and should follow their own unique path; “ You Haul,” which cleverly tackles the end of a relationship; the heartfelt and slightly melancholy “I Want To Hear A Love Song”; and “You Came Along,” penned by renowned country duo LoCash and Phil Barton, who wrote “Gotta Have You.”

On the same bill as Ronnie Milsap throughout 2015, Milsap is the second musical legend Risa has opened for in her career. A few years back, even before recording her debut album Paper Heart, the singer – purely on a whim and urging of friends – followed her heart and cold called the booker for SunFest in West Palm Beach, Florida. She submitted her demos, and a year later, was offered the opportunity to open for one of her all time musical heroes, James Taylor. Meeting him briefly after her set and knowing he was listening to her sing was proverbial icing on the cake, all part of her ever-evolving commitment to “living my dream.”

A city girl with a soul heaven bent for country, Risa grew up in suburban Columbia, Maryland, but remembers running through farmlands and deserted barns out in the country every chance she got. Though she found herself drawn to the rural life, her grandmother is a painter and she grew up in the theatre with her family in a town that was very supportive of the arts. When she saw her first Broadway show at age five, she thought the actors were waving directly at her during the curtain call. Starting to sing not long after she learned to talk, she used to entertain in the family room using an ear of corn as her mic.

The first songs Risa wrote were about boys she had crushes on. “But I was too shy to tell them,” she says, “so I’d sit down at the piano and tell my folks, ‘Listen to this!’ And my parents would wonder who it was about.” Her budding passions for theater and country music came together when she played Loretta Lynn in a college production. “I fell in love with her story and the great stories in her songs,” she says. “Her music helped me understand how powerful a song can truly be.”

Although she originally moved to Brooklyn to pursue a dual career in music and acting, Risa soon found herself saving all of her money from waitressing to finance trips to Nashville, where she attended songwriter nights at the legendary Bluebird Cafe. She considers Music City as her “grad school” where her dreams began developing into reality. In addition to meeting country greats like Alison Krauss, she attended a songwriting camp where she hooked up creatively with Allen Shamblin, who co-wrote Bonnie Raitt’s ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me.’” This connection led to the opportunity to record her debut album, produced by Marshall Altman.

Along with her dream board, Risa is a firm believer in signs. While still living in New York, the boutique label, Warehouse Records, helped her make demos in Nashville and encouraged her to move and live there full time. She was on the fence, hopeful but fearful about such a commitment until a serendipitous encounter on a flight two years ago with renowned artist and hit country songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman (Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, Willie Nelson) sealed the deal.  

“I was really excited about working in Nashville,” Risa says, “but was still looking for a sign that would tell me that moving there was the right course for me. I was in the middle seat on the plane and looked to my right and thought I recognized her. The name on her screen said ‘Beth Chapman.’ I asked her if she was THE Beth Nielsen Chapman, and we got to talking. She told me about her song ‘This Kiss’, which became a huge hit for Faith Hill. Everyone passed on it and it took two years to get anywhere with it, but Beth knew in her heart it would be a hit. When Beth got up after we landed, I noticed that the guitar case she slung over her shoulder said ‘Faith.’ I took that as a sign to trust myself and give everything I had to pursuing my dreams as a country singer and songwriter.”

Risa kept in touch with Chapman and had the opportunity to sing with Chapman at the Bluebird Café her first week as an official resident of Nashville. Risa sang her songs and Chapman did harmonies – all confirmation for Risa that he had made the right choice. “Then fast forward and the following summer I have an EP out and ‘Gotta Have You’ is all over XM Radio,” she says. “And then came the opportunity to tour with Ronnie, and now I’m back in the studio with Luke working on this amazing new material. I’m excited about finishing this record and putting that next ‘piece of me’ out there. It’s inspiring to have the opportunity to make a positive impact on so many people. I’m on a mission to bring my own style of happiness to the world via my songs. I’m a person who does what her heart tells her to do, and my ultimate goal is the make music that will get people pumped to follow their dreams the way I continue to follow mine.”  

    Surf Ballroom
    460 N Shore Drive
    Clear Lake, IA United States
    Alpha Media