Feeds:
Posts
Comments

I bet you’ve all been wondering…where’s the music? Well, I’m proud to introduce to you the first and official Small Town Songbird – Ms. Courtney Bergman.

Courtney Bergman and her band members Justin and Casey

Justin Schrock, Courtney Bergman and Casey Jones. Picture courtesy of Courtney Bergman

Courtney, a Kent native, grew up with country and bluegrass music flowing through her house. Her extended family was always singing and playing instruments and her grandpa was also in a band. One could say country music was just in her genes.

Needless to say, Courtney’s own singing journey started early, and it all began with her Little Tikes karaoke machine at the ripe age of four. It’s better to get over that stage fright a young age, right? Well, her mom’s gift worked! All her karaoke playtime made Courtney want a real audience.

Courtney began singing at talent shows and joined her school choir. She took advantage of every mic she could get her hands on…fearlessly. The girl was brave enough to belt out The National Anthem; she’s sang the song at her high school’s athletic events and for the Cleveland Barons, a youth hockey league. That’s a tough one to nail down. More power to her!

Now, as a junior Human Development and Family Studies major at Kent State University, Courtney is going stronger than ever. She recently put together an acoustic band, which is comprised of Justin Schrock, who plays the six-string guitar, and Casey Jones, who rocks out on a 12 string.

Performing at Suffield Music Festival

Courtney performs at the 2010 Suffield Music Festival with her band. Picture courtesy of Courtney Bergman.

Despite the fact that the band has been together for less than a year, they’ve managed to snag a few gigs, including the 2010 Suffield Music Festival. More importantly, you can find her singing her heart out at 157 Lounge at 7:30 p.m. on April 1 during Kent’s Rockin’ Country Festival.

At 157 Lounge, you’ll find Courtney singing all your favorite, familiar songs. She’ll be covering everything from old-school country to the modern, upbeat country that’s popular today. Superstar Carrie Underwood, Colbie Caillet and the new phenomenon The Band Perry are a few of her influences, so I’m sure you’ll hear their hits on her playlist.

Courtney has an upbeat attitude and passion for country that will for sure keep the show interesting. She’s in it to have a good time because she believes that’s what it’s all about. That’s how the entertainment business should be, right? She may be fresh in the music industry, but she knows what drives the success.

Courtney has come a long ways since her Little Tikes karaoke days, and she still has some work cut out for her. For the time, Courtney focuses on cover songs. Her next step, and what you can expect from her in the future, is originals. The band has been working hard to come up with its own material. Plus, they’re looking for a bass and drummer (hint, hint…talk to her at the show if you want in!).

Again, April 1 is your lucky day (or night), no joke. It’s your one and only chance (at the moment) to check Courtney out for yourself. They’re on the prowl for more shows as the band grows, but for now we look forward to seeing her at the Rockin’ Country Festival.

Advertisements

One of the things that has been pounded into my head while studying at Kent State University is to never jump right into anything. Research is the first step before taking on an initiative. So when I first began my research for the Rockin’ Country Festival, I ran across a couple of theories I wanted to explore, especially as the event unfolds: social capital theory, expectations confirmation theory and social exchange theory.

Social Capital Theory

Robert Putnam defined social capital as “connections among individuals – social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them.”

Hands holding up globe

Image from todaysseniorsnetwork.com

I’ve slowly been reading Putnam’s book “Bowling Alone.” He claims society is disconnected, mainly because he looks at technology as individualizing. Although I can’t say I totally agree with him (this could be another whole blog post), I see social capital at work in Kent. Many community events take place, and they all seem to go off without a hitch…or so it seems from the outside looking in (hmm…future post? I think so!).

I’ve been planning the Rockin’ Country Festival event for downtown Kent, Ohio, for months now. As my plans have progressed, I recently began working with Main Street Kent. Main Street Kent works to revitalize the downtown area. One way it does this is by supporting the town’s various festivals throughout the year including the Black Squirrel Festival, the Folk Festival, scavenger hunts, outdoor movie nights and more. It’s definitely connected to the residents.

Not only is social capital at work in Kent but community building is also evident. Through its support, it indirectly recognizes it’s only a fraction of Kent’s culture and its responsibility is to making the town greater. And boy oh boy has Main Street Kent taken on that responsibility full force. I approached the organization, and it was thrilled about my festival. It was truly excited that I decided to take on the large endeavor of the Rockin’ Country Festival and offered to help me make it successful. It’s civic virtue at its finest.

Expectations Confirmation Theory

This theory explains that people’s behavior is determined by their positive or negative perceptions of the event. Basically, it’s all about attitude here.

As I re-evaluate what this theory is really all about, I realize this goes beyond the attendees’ perceptions of the Rockin’ Country Festival as it’s in moving forward. Expectations Confirmation Theory is evident in all the stages of event planning. To pull this festival off, I’m relying on so many other sources. Therefore, their attitude toward the festival is kind of the guiding force of the festival’s image. Their support and willingness to be involved gives light to the success of the event. With their positive attitudes, the likelihood of not only others participating increases but also the likelihood of people attending the event increases.

Human-shaped puzzle pieces

Image from amnation.com

This theory is also all about my attitude. To make the event successful, it’s all about how I approach it. I have to believe it’s a 100 percent great event that the community is going to love and want to be involved with in order for it to work. I have to show my positivity and my excitement in order to pass that attitude on to other’s involved. It’s a trickle-down effect that will hopefully influence others’ behavior – to attend!

Social Exchange Theory

Social Exchange Theory is said to help predict people’s reactions to social action. Philanthropic motives and familiarity are components that often help gain approval.

Stack of canned food items

Image from NBA.com

I found a way to incorporate some philanthropy. As the festival is taking place, the audience will be asked to bring a canned food item to donate to the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank to help it with its Harvest for Hunger campaign. Its goal for the 2011 campaign is to raise $750,000, the equivalent to 2.25 million meals. It’s a way for the community to repay the favor of free entertainment – to give to those in need. Plus, everyone can feel good about it.

What’s in it – for you?

As aspiring musicians, I know you’re focused on increasing your fan base, drawing people to your shows, etc. But there’s more to it than that. In addition to the relationship building you need to reach stardom, try focusing on social capital to develop a stronger trust from your fans. Also, stay positive. I’m always telling people if you think you can’t do, you’re going to fail. Lastly, if you reach out to the community and find a way to serve society, to help, you’ll foster a stronger dedication from your fans than if you only focus on yourself. It must be working; think of all the musicians who give back – Garth Brooks, Josh Turner and the list goes on. But check out Jimmy Wayne’s recent endeavor called Meet Me Halfway.

Looking into Kent at The Pufferbelly

Photo by Jon Ridinger

Sure, I am putting this Rockin’ Country Festival together because I need to graduate. But I’m also counteracting the supposed decrease in social capital by creating another opportunity to bring the residents of Kent together – to benefit a well-known cause and to provide a couple of fun nights out.

 

 

Trace Adkins perfectly described the stereotype of country music as twang and trains and hillbilly things in his hit “Songs About Me.” The key word – stereotype. It’s no longer only about the broken hearts and scars he portrayed. But it does remain true to its defining characteristic – country music is “songs about me.”  I have always enjoyed country music, twang and all, but it’s the lyrics that draw me to the genre. They’re songs about “loving and living” and “family and God.”

Add a little glamour to the mix and recognition can be achieved. And that’s exactly what happened to the genre. It turns out that I’m not the only one attracted to country music for its relatable lyrics, but the new-found glamour has helped it gain recognition across the country. The 2010 Country Music Association Awards is proof country music is alive and well…and growing. On November 10, an average of 16 million people tuned into the awards show, and I had the opportunity to be a part of it.

The crowd at LP Field during the 2010 CMA Music Festival

Image taken by Jodee Hammond

 It was this time a year ago that my love for country music was about to be taken to another level. A friend told me about the CMA’s Award of Merit program that provides students with the opportunity to receive real-world journalism experience by reporting at its annual CMA Music Festival. No brainer…I had to apply. I just never dreamed I would be accepted. It was probably as equally exciting to me as when Taylor Swift won the CMA Horizon Award and announced it was the highlight of her senior year. One small difference – this was the highlight of my LIFE! It was my first chance to be a part of the music.

I spent four days in the 100-degree weather roaming around downtown Nashville covering my assigned locations as well as scoping out additional interesting pieces fans would potentially want to hear about. I was thrilled to be there, but it was a lot to take in. I quickly realized how difficult it was to cover an event as large as the festival. It was overwhelming!

Miranda Lambert answers questions at CMA Awards' press conference

Image taken by Jodee Hammond

Now, all of this was a competition with the winner receiving the chance to report live on the red carpet at the CMA Awards. Turns out, I did a good job reporting at the festival and won the competition, leading me to the fancy, schmancy red carpet. Super cool, right? I wrote for the blog for the CMA Awards to give fans the inside scoop. You know, the information they wouldn’t see on camera.  Whoa, it was like Hollywood; all the glitz and glam but Nashville style. I even got a little feel of stardom. Bob Doerschuk presented me with my award on the stage at the press conference, the stage that was later graced by Brad Paisley, Sugarland, Loretta Lynn, Lady Antebellum, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert.

Fast forward three months after my three-seconds of fame, and the new-found glamour of country music is about to come to Kent, Ohio. I’m currently planning a Rockin’ Country Music Festival to showcase the modernity of country music, to give people a feel of country’s true character, Nashville style. Country music is indeed songs about “loving and living” and “family and God,” but with a cool factor not everyone recognizes quite yet.

The Rockin’ Country Festival will hopefully enlighten a small portion of Northeast Ohio. And that’s where I come in. I’ll be right here to, again, tell you all the behind the scenes information, the cool stuff, as the festival’s plans are rolled out. Feel free to check out my blog posts from CMA in the meantime.

Rockin' Country Festival Logo

Designed by local musician Ryan Humbert