Mandy McMillan’s Recipe: (Vegan Black Bean Brownie)

1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup vegan choc chips
2 tbs cocoa 
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch sea salt
(love to put a little dash of cayenne in there as well to spice it up!)

* preheat oven to 350F
– put black beans in food processor and blend until smooth (I like to do this first to make sure all beans are blended)
– add in peanut butter, maple syrup and vanilla – blend again
– put in dry ingredients – cocoa, cinnamon, sea salt (cayenne if you’d like) and blend
– add choc chips and give the processor a little swirl to blend them in (make sure not to over blend the chips)
– put batter in a lightly oiled up brownie pan (I use coconut oil) 
– cook for 20-25 mins
* just as a warning – the batter usually does not make it to the oven and I end up eating it raw *whoops 😉

ENJOY! 

Mandy McMillan~ Q&A!!!

1.     Hello Mandy, can you tell me a little bit about yourself before you became a country artist?

Hello! Yes I am Mandy McMillan, originally from just west of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I have always been a lover of music and have pursued my passion to play music since I was a little girl. Before I moved to Nashville to pursue music full-time, I worked a few jobs during the week such as waitress, nanny and hair stylist! I even owned a hair salon for a little while before I made the big jump to Music City!

2.     What made you want a career in country music?

It’s crazy because before Nashville, music was a deep passion that I didn’t realize could be a full-time career. Once I engrained myself into the Nashville scene, I was blessed to find out that this passion of mine could be my career. 

I have always loved music and all things creative, so being able to do that now is so amazing and I don’t take it for granted at all. Of course, there are a lot of ups and downs and you have to learn to ebb and flow, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. My music has a sprinkle of the country genre to go along with pop and classic rock influences!

3.     What is the background story behind your latest single “Dream Catcher?”

I had a big “aha” moment that came as a download to write “Dream Catcher”. I have made dream catchers for years and about two years ago, I was hanging them up as merch at a festival I was playing at. In that moment, I knew that I had to write a song about my journey going out and catching my dreams. Before I moved to Nashville, I worked a few jobs as a waitress to save up money for my big move. The first line of the song “her heart is full of wishes, cleaning up the dishes at some part time job ’til she’s at the top” captures my hustle of waiting tables during the week while being out on the road with my band on the weekends.  I wanted to use the opportunity to inspire those around me to work hard, believe in themselves and to go out and catch their dreams as well. I wrote it with one of my best friends Andrew Beason and recorded it with my producer Simon Gugala, with whom I got to co-produce the track as well.

4.     What is your favorite part of creating a new music video for “Dream Catcher?”

My favorite part was the fact that I got to travel to Tucson, Arizona with three of my best friends and create the most incredible memories in one of my favorite places. I have been pulled to the Arizona desert all my life and have been able to travel there a few times for a vacation, a photoshoot and now the video shoot! It was a dream to film out there and what you see in my smile is the genuine bliss of me catching my dream in that moment! 🙂

5.     How would you describe your music in 3 to 5 words?

Uplifting. Groovy. Genuine 

6.     What has been some of your favorite venues or events to play at?

In 2014, I was chosen to be part of the stage show with Kenny Chesney on the CMA Awards and that was a top venue/ event for sure! It was such a magical moment to be on the same stage as an artist whose music has influenced me from the beginning and he was so kind. It was an unreal feeling when the curtain lifted and I could see all of my idols sitting out front watching the show and knowing that millions of people were watching on television around the world in that moment.

7.     What is something that most people do not know about you?

I am plant-based/vegan. Although I’m not too sure if people are surprised by that haha! I like to think of myself as being a super kind and compassionate person and also into all things spiritual, so when most people find out about the veganism part, they’re like “you would be!” 

8.     What is one of your favorite quotes?

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there” Theodore Roosevelt – I have the word “Believe” tattooed on my ribs right by my heart and I fully know that you have to believe it to achieve it 

I also stand by “Don’t be a lady, be a legend” Stevie Nicks 

9.     Is there anything else you would like to share?

Thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to have me on your blog! I so appreciate all the support and look forward to seeing you catch your dreams 🙂

Mandy McMillan~ Artist Spotlight!!!

Mandy McMillan was born in Edmonton, Alberta and grew up in Stony Plain. McMillan has never remembered a time when she was not performing or playing music. With a varied musical background that naturally combines a country sound with a little bit of pop too. McMillan’s truthfulness and love for people showcase in her lyrics and live performances, which also allows her to easily form long-term connections with her fans on stage or off.

            McMillan was only 5 years old when she started her journey into music and played at Christmas concerts with her younger siblings. Her love for singing found its inspiration when she was asked to sing the Canadian national anthem at a local rodeo in her hometown. While attending high school, she started her own rock band, which help her chops as a musician, and guided to singing competitions across Canada. 

            The galaxy united for McMillan when she moved toward country music as a solo singer. In 2008, she won a Country Music Television Canada singing competition by performing “When You Say Nothing At All” by Alison Krauss. This accomplishment encouraged her to chase her number one dream by moving to Nashville. In Music City, her singing career as a musician has driven her into many new adventures that have included a self-titled album in 2014, a chance to open up for Trisha Yearwood and appeared alongside Kenny Chesney during his performance at the 2014 CMA Awards.

            In 2018, McMillan played showcases at the Calgary Stampede and Canadian Country Music Week and she also co-wrote “Chasin’ The Ace” with Lynn Tessari, which made the Top 10 in the “Play for Publisher” event in Nashville. She also released the fast-pacing track as a single in the fall of that year. 

            On June 23, 2020, McMillan’s official music video for her newest single “Dream Catcher came out. After about 10 years of dreaming, chasing, loving and growing as a musician, “Dream Catch” explains her sound and her life. The song was co-written by McMillan in Nashville and Andrew Beason was also a co-writer and Simon Gugala produced the song. The song is about McMillan’s of dream catchers that started when she first made them at a festival. This is both a true expression of her own ideas in the development and display of goals and a gripping image of her musical journey towards success as a singer. Her music video was directed by Jenny Marvin.  

            She a carefree, vegan, lovely spirit with a gift for sharing life ‘s most honest moments through her music. Her new digital summer single and Canadian radio debut, “Dream Catcher,” will be out and also serve as her first track of the first full-length album and it will come this fall. 

            If you would like to find out more about this talented lady then check out her website at (https://www.mandymcmillan.com).

Social Media Accounts:

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/MandyMcMillan

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mandymcmillanmusic/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mandymcmillanmusic/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mandymcmillan

Henley~ Q&A

1.     Hello, you two, can you both tell us all a little bit about yourselves before you became a country music duo? Sayre:  We grew up in a musical family.  Momma sings… she cut her first record at Muscle Shoals Sound with the Swampers in the 70s, and dad is an incredible multi-instrumentalist who paid the bills behind a drumset. We had different tastes growing up, but after Shea graduated college I ended up moving in with him in Denton, Tx while I attended the University of North Texas (where he had just graduated).  He played in a red dirt band and I grew up a huge country music fan, so we tried writing some songs together and it seemed to work immediately.

2.     How did you come up with the name Henley for your group name? Shea:  Henley is our last name… we were blessed with A LOT of grandparents haha.  Funny enough, the man who raised our dad and gave us all the last name Henley is the only grandpa we never met!  AND he wasn’t a musician.  But dad’s biological father and our Grandmama were both brilliant musicians.  Most of the musicians in our family all carry the name Henley, so it’s an homage to our roots and family history.

3.     What is the background story behind your latest single “Alone Tonight?”

Shea: There definitely was a situation that inspired this song.  I came in with the idea for the opening two lines of the chorus “I don’t wanna be alone tonight, I don’t wanna spend the night alone”, and it triggered a memory for Sayre of a past relationship.  Sayre had been in a relationship with a country singer who at the time was an up and comer, but now has definitely seen his fair share of success.  Sayre: He started out to be the perfect gentleman, but with time the perfect date nights and sweet memories slowed down and it turned into the late night texts when he was in town asking me to meet him at the bar for drinks, or asking me to come over after he had dipped into too many shots of whiskey.  Even though I knew his intentions weren’t good anymore I still put myself in the position to meet him after he was drunk, or answer the late night text because being with him in any form was better than being alone. 

4.     What is your recording process like when creating new music? Shea: we do everything ourselves with our partner in crime Cody Smith (www.discomyth.com).  For this one, I opened my computer one night and made the synth patch and loop you hear.  I sent it to Sayre to sing along with and she loved it.  She came over and we recorded the vocals ourselves in my detached garage/studio workspace… it’s just a blazing hot 24×24 cinderblock shed with big wooden supports and a tin roof, but it sounds great… Cody played acoustic and steel guitar, the big Moog bass you hear, AND he mixed it.  We decided to leave my original loop in as a change of pace to our normal live drums (which I usually play).

5.     How would you guys describe your music in 3 to 5 words? Sayre: Real Shea:  Gooder than good!

6.     What are a few of your favorite venues or events to play at? Shea: of all the fun shows we’ve done, honestly it always comes back to Winner’s Bar and Whiskey Jam… WJ will always feel like home to Nashville-based artists. 

7.     When not working or creating music what do you two like do in your free time?

Sayre:  I love going to the gym (shoutout to my Redline fam!)… that’s actually where we met our amazing booking agent Jess Mosby.  Such a Nashville story.  Everyone you meet is in the business! 
    Shea:  If I’m not working on music for Henley I’m probably working on one of the many side projects I have with my friends.  It’s a fun way to navigate the distance as our various careers take us all over the US.  Especially with the lockdown… it’s been fun catching up via music. 

8.     What are a few of your guysfavorite quotes? Sayre:  “Don’t suck” – my brother with a big grin on his face just before we hit the stage, or “Center, Breathe, Pray” which is mom’s advice for everything life throws your way.

9.     Is there anything else you would like to share? hank you so much for having us, and shoutout to our cowriter Kenneth Duncan (who also wrote Centerline and I Forgot About You with us).  Be sure to follow us @wearehenley on social media!   We’ve got cover videos, acoustic sessions, and BTS (behind the song) content coming at ya.

Henley~ Artist Spotlight!!!

Shea & Sayre Henley are brother and sister and together they formed their country music group “Henley.” They grew up in Newnan, Georgia and started to write music together, while attending college in Denton, Texas. They both love to laugh and performance with one another. 

The Henley siblings now are living in Nashville. On June 26th their latest single “Alone tonight,” came out and it debuted on Apple Country Hot Tracks. The song is about an ex-lover that you cannot leave in the past. Even though the relationship is over. You are trying to restore an old lover that burned fast and forcefully but has since left for good. Sayre shares the song is about how she would wait for her ex to come “in town and knew what bar he would be drinking at and she would anxiously await the “come meet me for a drink” on a Monday night even though she knew it would end in her getting hurt.”

If you would like to find out about Henley then check out their website at (https://www.wearehenley.com).

Social Media Accounts: 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wearehenley

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wearehenley/

Gracie Carol~ Q&A!!!

1.    Hello Gracie, can you tell me a little bit about yourself before you became a country musician?

Before I truly dug deep into my artistry and music I was just a young high school girl that lived on the west side of Cincinnati, OH who had big dreams. I wrote silly little songs just for fun and always sang at the top of my lungs. Country music was always a huge aspect in my life, but I was actually also very involved in musical theater for years! My country voice never really fit that genre and as much as I loved acting, I really loved performing as myself more. It’s so cool to look back now and see that I’ve done and am doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to do and be. They aren’t dreams anymore, now it’s my life and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

2.    What was one of the first country albums you ever bought?

There were so many my parents had chosen and picked that I loved and really enjoyed listening to like Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, Teri Clark, and so many more. But the first album I begged my parents to go out with me to get was “Fearless” by Taylor Swift. I was the little girl that looked up to her as most young girls. She was doing exactly what I always wanted to do, write songs, record them, and put out an album. I still remember that day when that album came out too. It made me love country music so much more and this time it was because I found that artist and started loving her myself, not just because my parents liked somebody!

3.    What is the background story behind your newest single “3 Minutes?” 

It’s all about women empowerment and women in country music. There was a time for a while, mostly through my teenage years that country music was really only “bro country”. It made me sad that women weren’t being recognized more and being played on the radio because “bro country” was a thing. So I’ve always wanted to find a way to help that change. In college I studied country music and focused on the beauty of women in country. Whether that be artist, songwriters, or music business women I wanted to help out make a change to equalize the playing ground. Women in country music weren’t getting the recognition, so that’s the background of where this song came from.

4.    What made you decide to have a career in country music?

Growing up listening to country and visiting Nashville as a vacation every year with my family was like heaven to me. I loved everything about the music, the business, the culture, the city, the people. It was really easy to make that decision. And after getting the opportunity to feel what it was like to be a touring artist for a day and perform with Keith Urban on his “Raise Em Up” tour, which you can find on youtube if you’d like to watch, that was the moment I knew I wasn’t changing my path and moved to Nashville right after I graduated high school!

5.    How would you describe your music in 3 to 5 words?

It’s Powerful, Smooth, and Compassionate.

6.    What are some of your favorite venues or events to play at?

I love playing at a restaurant called the Opry Backstage Grill. The atmosphere there is so kind, loving, and generous. And if you know me, those are my kind of people! I definitely recommend anyone to go there and eat, or perform, or just to hear good music!

My favorite event I’ve performed at was getting top 5 in Cincinnati’s Nash Next Competition!

7.    What is your process like when recording new music?

Whenever I have a song I love I show it to one of my friends who produces my songs, his name is Austin Shawn, and he just understands and gets who I am as an artist so our ideas and vibes click so well. He creates all the instrumentals behind my voicings and literally makes the song come to life. He’s such a generous friend and has such an extremely talented ear! We always have really great times when I record new music, and “3 Minutes” was one of the most exciting songs we created yet.

8.    What is one of your favorite quotes?

Have courage and be kind always

9.    Is there anything else you would like to share?

Lookout for new material for “3 Minutes” as weeks go by 😉 

Gracie Carol~ “Artist Spotlight”

Gracie Carol is a girl who grew up in Cincinnati and moved to Nashville for her love of singing and devotion to performing. With early origins in country music, Carol was meant to make her mark on this genre of music and her true self appeared before she was even done with high school. In the summer of 2014, Carol performed alongside with country superstar Keith Urban on his “Raise ‘Em Up Tour” at Riverbend Music in Cincinnati, OH. At 17 she was a part of Miranda Lambert’s “We Were Us” to an audience of 20,000 people. Her family made signs, her friends taking a lot of pictures and videos, and strangers screaming her name, all took apart of an evening that would change Carol’s dreams into very real experiences. 

            With the love of her city and the support from Urban’s fans, everyone in her town came to know the name of “Grace Aufderbeck.” Her accomplishments and achievements made a youthful Carol realize that she had a spot in the music world, but it is the tiny moments that keep her going. The memories of places she has been, the individuals she has met, and the cheers of their voices to the sound of her music, stay very close to her as she continues to make a name for herself. Carol now is living in Nashville; TN and she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Music and studied Commercial Music Voice with Music Business. At only 22 years old, Carol has created a sturdy foundation in a rough world of writing songs about her own life and truth about her relationships. 

            You can listen to Carol’s debut EP “Day Dreams,” on all music platforms. On June 26, 2020 Carol brand new “3 Minutes” came out. She continues to develop as an artist with the desires that her face will be known with those of “The Next Women of Country. If you would like to find out more about this talented girl then check out Gracie Carol’s website at (https://graciecarol.com).

Social Media Accounts: 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/graciecarol

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/graciecarolaufderbeck/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/graciecarol_

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaHHgys_Nj5gq9U9KO4S6Vw

Jake Loban~ Q&A!!!

1.     Hi Jake, can you tell me a little bit about yourself before you became a country musician? I’m originally from San Diego, CA. I lived there my whole life before moving to Nashville 4 years ago. I spent my younger days traveling the country playing in punk rock and rock n’ roll bands, and didn’t really start playing country music until my mid 20s. I don’t come from a musical family and when I was a kid I wanted to be a professional skateboarder. When I was 13, I had 7 operations on my right eye and that’s when I started playing guitar. I’m still blind in that eye to this day. 
2.     What made you want a career in country music? I never thought about having a career in music because I didn’t think it was possible for me. It’s something that happened organically and I’m so grateful that it did. When I moved to Nashville I still had a “real job” and didn’t intend on pursuing music. I did a couple open mic nights though, and sat in with some friends at their gigs downtown. One gig led to another and it quickly became my full time job. I love Nashville because it’s one of the only cities in the world where you can make a living playing music.

3.     How did you come up with the name “Saloon Sessions,” for your brand-new album and what is your favorite song off the album? The Red Rose Saloon is an old shed in my backyard that I converted into a bar. It’s a great space to hang out with friends, jam, or listen to music. I do a lot of writing in there late at night by myself, which is where the title came from. My favorite track off the album is probably “Confession,” which was recently spotlighted in American Songwriter.

4.     How would you describe your music in 3 to 5 words?Honest/Raw/Authentic

5.     If you could sing a duet with any singer or group who would it be and why? I would love to sing a duet with Connie Smith or Emmylou Harris. They’re both amazing.
6.     What is your recording process like when working on a new song or album? The recording process is always changing for me. For Saloon Sessions I recorded the entire album by myself in my own home. It was definitely a challenge but felt good to complete it. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do ever since hearing Bruce Springsteen’s album Nebraska, he had a similar approach to that record. 
7.     What are a few of your favorite venues or events to play at? The Nashville Palace and Johnny Cash’s Kitchen & Saloon. I play at both of those venues every week, they’re like home to me.

8.     Do you have any rituals before you play a live show? A shot of Jack Daniel’s and a Coors Light.

9.     What is one of your favorite quotes? Right now it’s a lyric off the latest John Moreland record: “Shame is a cancer, go easy on your heart.”

10.  Is there anything else you would like to share? My new record Saloon Sessions is out now and I want to thank everyone for the love and support so far. The response has been overwhelming and I’m so grateful. Also, I play at The Nashville Palace and Johnny Cash’s Kitchen & Saloon every week, come say hi if you’re in Nashville! 

Jake Loban~ “Artist Spotlight”

            Jake Loban has been moving across the country playing music since before he could drive. He has been living in Nashville (aka: Music City) since 2016, he drove his 1963 Ford Falcon around the city to play at world-famous honky-tonks each day. The San Diego local documents a love illustrated by the love of DYI roots and the greatness of Americana aesthetics. Loban songs express his admiration for craft and hard work while sharing the highs and lows of living a journey worth sharing and creating music about. Loban’s debut single, “Dancing With Ghosts,” came out in January 2020. His first full-length album, “Saloon Sessions, was released 6 months after. 

            Loban was once a Southern California skateboarder oddball, who found his true calling when he first discovers the music Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. At only 13, Loban stopped riding his skateboard and got his hands on a guitar (the result of undergoing 7 eye surgeries that left him blind in one eye) and life as he knew it would be changed forever. His life is that of “Old Nashville Modern,” as he travels through town and to performances in his 1963 Ford Falcon and continues to have the musical spirit of a Country outlaw background. 

            Loban’s debut song, “Dancing With Ghosts” and his first album “Saloon Sessions,” are both available on all streaming music platforms. If you would like to find out more about Jake Loban then check out his website at (www.jakeloban.com). 

Social Media Accounts: 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jakelobanmusic/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jakeloban/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jakelobanmusic