CODY HICKS CHRIS KROEZE THE PLOTT HOUNDS DEvon Worley Band SHane Martin
ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR This award is for the act displaying the greatest competence in all aspects of the entertainment field. Voter should give consideration not only to quality recorded performance, but also to quality of in-person performance, in depth regional tour schedule, staging, fan base, attitude, visibility in the market, leadership and overall contribution to the growth of country music in the region.
“We believe that without a doubt some of the best country music being written and performed today is coming from indie artists like Cody Hicks. It is exciting to come across an artist for the very first time and have that “it” that everyone talks about hit you right in the face. That was the experience we had upon hearing this talented artist for the first time. He definitely has “it” and has already been paying his dues and building a loyal fan base.” – Nashville Buckle.
Front man Cody Hicks has been playing live music for over a decade: from cover bands, original bands, and a solo acoustic set. He was approached by current lead guitarist Matt Vavroch to start a music project, which lead to the introduction of drummer Coleton Tompkins. Together the trio started jamming, forming the foundation of the band’s current sound.
Guitarist Trevor Parrish has been playing guitar since 2006 and was introduced to the band via Matt Vavroch after watching him perform with another act. Bassist Nate Lenz started playing in 2004 and was introduced to the band in 2016. Guitarist Trevor Long has been playing since middle school, and picked up the banjo, piano, and fiddle in high school. He was introduced to the band via Trevor Parrish in 2016. Lead guitarist Matt Vavroch started playing guitar as a junior in high school in 2008, and drummer Coleton Tompkins has been playing the drums since 2006. With a combined experience of over three decades of performance under their belt, it was time to get out there as a band and put their skills to the test.
Almost immediately, the Cody Hicks Band started generating a buzz locally and quickly went on to book large music venues across the Midwest. Summer of 2014 presented the band with the opportunity to record their original music in Nashville with producer, Patric Johnson.
That record titled, “Gettin' Our Feet Wet” dropped in the spring of 2015. That summer the band shot their first music video for "In the Morning" with the talented producer Rick Burger of Stang Films. The video was a huge success, reaching over 100,000 views on Facebook within the first week, and the views on YouTube continue to climb.
Following the success of the music video the band released their first single "In the Morning" to country radio. The following spring, the guys released their follow up single, "Left Turn". This song quickly became the blue collar anthem for dirt track racers nationwide. This single, also produced a music video which shared a combined 1M views between Facebook and YouTube.
“Great music that is very well written and put together. Great diversity of instruments. The vocals are excellent and the harmony was exceptional. Could very well be the next country hit.” – Reverb Nation What We Do
Cody Hicks is an original act that also books cover shows. The band is booking four hour shows for bars and private parties, and are also available to provide support for national acts travelling through the area. They have opened for acts such as: Brothers Osborne, Casey Donahew, Granger Smith, Phil Vassar, Chase Rice, Tyler Farr, and Trace Adkins. Made up of rural Iowa boys ready to rock out all night long, the band is adding songs to their set list everyday; contact them if there is a song you'd like to hear.
The Plott Hounds
Coming together on the Mississippi River in 2014 The Plott Hounds have created a dedicated grassroots following with their blend of Southern Rock & Roll, hints of Funky Blues and paying homage to the Outlaw Country legends of old. The Plott Hounds played their first performance at The Terminal Bar in Northeast Minneapolis, MN on July 14th 2014 and have not looked back since. The Plott Hounds take pride in expressing their passion and dedication for songwriting and it’s call to playing original music found deep in the soul. Burning the midnight oil playing shows that stretch across the United States, along with a UK Tour in the Summer of 2018 and dates set for a return trip in 2019, The Plott Hounds addictive energy has paved their way to join the stage with names that started off as heroes and inspirations like Cody Canada, Band of Heathens, Charlie Daniels, Jason Boland and more. Since inception, the band has released – “Thirsty For Something” EP (2016) and “Lost Summer Day” EP (2017) along with a double live album "Blue Collar Hippie Music" (2016). “Lost Summer Day” was recognized as one of the top 40 Americana albums released in 2017 from The Americana Music Show. Saving Country Music recently tabbed The Plott Hounds as one of the new bands rising with the torch in the world of Southern Rock n Roll. The Plott Hounds are set to release their anticipated debut full length LP – “Damn The Wind” on March 19, 2019. The current line up helped solidify the songs and sounds that the band now calls home. Each coming from a history in music, some going back twenty years playing together, to create the nostalgic sounds on stage. The Plott Hounds Feature: Noah Alexander (Atlanta, GA) Lead Vocals & Guitar, Jeff Powell (Charles City, IA) Lead Guitar, Catfish Kirk - (Champlin, MN) Lead Guitar & Vocals, Kevin Coughenour - (Plymouth, MN) Bass Guitar & Vocals and Tater on Drums (Vadnais Heights, MN). As one, the band is more than just strings and drums but a family; whether it's jam sessions on the river bank or three am breakfast detours.
Devon Worley Band
The Devon Worley Band was forged out of raw talent. Devon’s undeniable ability drew top-tier touring musicians to her side at a very early age. While every other teenage girl was hanging out at the mall snap chatting their boyfriends, Devon’s teenage years were spent paying dues, traveling with her band, and touring relentlessly across the heartland; playing just about every bar, fair and festival in the grain belt. Now in her early 20’s, Devon Worley and her band have taken the Midwest music scene by storm and are garnering critical acclaim and national attention. Their latest full length album “The Sunrise Resistance” has caught the attention of not only country music fans nationwide, but also Nashville insiders eager to see more of the band’s no-rules writing style. Riding their own raw edge of country and rock, this band is turning heads and making waves, while bringing a brand new attitude to country music. From their songwriting style to their studio recordings, the girl and her band are forging their own unique path. However, their true love is the stage. Their passion for the live show, the audience and their fans is evident; and their talent undeniable.
Runner Up on NBC’s THE VOICE / TOP 5 Country Song “Human” (iTunes TOP 100) / Featured in USA Today / Featured in Rolling Stone / #1 ROCK Song (iTunes) Singer and Songwriter Chris Kroeze connects with both the hearts and minds of audiences across various generations through his genuine country soul and his unique and alluring vocal delivery as he performs more than 200 shows per year. Kroeze performs all across the U.S. and internationally, including multiple tours overseas each year in support of our U.S. Armed Forces. Early in life, struggling to focus and control an “excessive” amount of energy, Kroeze’s father gave him a guitar for his sixth birthday. It was that day that his musical journey started as he seemed to connect deeply to something special, and zero his attention and energy into his music. From the first time he stepped on stage at his sixth grade talent show, he was hooked. His obsession with music took him from the stage at his Middle School talent show to audiences of tens of thousands and Kroeze’s career has continued to escalate year after year. Along with headlining the majority of his shows, he has also had the privilege of performing with and also sharing the stage with music superstars like Montgomery Gentry, The Doobie Brothers, Travis Tritt, Blake Shelton, Joe Nichols, The Lost Trailers, Chris Kagle, Josh Thompson, and many others. With overwhelming support of his home town of Barron, Wisconsin, Kroeze raised money to head to Nashville in 2014 and recorded his first single “Four Letter Words” at the famous Station West Recording Studio. That first single went on to receive heavy radio play throughout the Midwest and open numerous doors for the young musician. A call from the producers of NBC’s Emmy Award Winning television show, The Voice, catapulted Kroeze onto the National Stage this year. Kroeze’s combination of vocal and guitar skills, along with his humility and small town country boy nature, captured the hearts of millions of fans from coast to coast. With guidance from his coach and mentor Blake Shelton, he continued to wow audiences week after week. “His potential is limitless” said Maroon 5’s Adam Levine. Kroeze is set to release his new album early 2019. Kroeze lives in Barron, Wisconsin with his wife, daughter, son and their dog Meatloaf.
The title of Shane Martin’s latest album “Keepin’ The Night Alive” sums up how he keeps his music alive and loves what he does: “Livin’ every moment, hangin’ on for life” and play his powerhouse brand of country rock. . A Top 5 Finalist in the 2012 Texaco Country Showdown where he competed for “Best New Act in Country Music” at Nashville’s legendary Ryman Auditorium (hosted by LeAnn Rimes), the Minnesota based singer/songwriter is now up to a breakneck pace of 175 regional shows per year.
Fronting his full ensemble, Martin has performed at some of the top country music festivals in the country and shared the stage with everyone from Ronnie Dunn, Joe Nichols and Jerrod Niemann to David Nail, Josh Thompson, Easton Corbin, Greg Bates and Black Hawk. But with his amazing longtime rep as the “One Man Band,” he’s also a powerhouse performer on his own. Performing acoustic guitar driven versions of his eclectic mix of country/rock/pop tunes, high octane rockers and soulful ballads, he uses his feet to play bass pedals and tambourine. In recent years, he’s also added a loop pedal to add extra rhythm via an additional acoustic guitar line. He also plays harmonica and auxiliary bongos – with nothing pre-recorded!
Currently one of the top live draws throughout the Midwest, his modern country rock vibe is perfectly described by his longtime producer and now co-writer, Emmy Award wining engineer/producer Kenny Royster: “Shane is a great singer/songwriter on the teetering edge of country, pop and rock where it’s just dangerous enough to be fun!”