Spotlight on British Country artist Tim McKay

Spotlight on British Country artist Tim McKay
21-year old Tim McKay has a new track on May’s Hot Disc #149 (Rush Released) the promotional compilations distributed to DJs, and Country Music industry professionals in the UK and worldwide. The track ‘It’s Your Song’ is credited to Benita Hill and Pamela Wolfe and first appeared on Garth Brooks “DOUBLE LIVE” (1998). It was released as the only single from his album reaching a peak of # 9 on the U.S. Billboard country singles charts.
Tim entered the Hot Disc Top 40 at # 30 and in its second week has so far reached # 25. On the British & Irish Independent Hot Disc Top 10 it’s currently placed at # 9.
He was first exposed to country music when as an 8-year old whilst his father was at work he would go along with his step mum (Chris) to line dance classes dancing and watching other artists. In later years he attended Theatre Art School so he was surrounded by music and drama. Tim played at local clubs as a support artist and got his first break at a charity night. He has worked professionally from 17, he likes to interact with his audience and give a show. In his first year as a young new on the block artist he found it tough to get people to come out to gigs to see him but gradually with good positive feedback from internet and magazines the word spread and nowadays he is in demand with a busy tour schedules, with sell out crowds at clubs.
Two years ago he reached the finals of talent shows in North Lincolnshire and pop music Idol 2008 in Manchester which was televised. Musically he is drawn to the modern country sounds like Keith Urban and likes to play upbeat danceable material.
Tim has already won the British Entertainer of the Year award two years in succession. The current recipient is Henry Smith “The Garth Brooks of the South Coast”.
On 1st May 2011 Tim joined Allan Watkiss the current CMA International Broadcaster of the Year for an interview and live session on BBC Radio Sheffield. The song ‘The Way’ written by Clay Aitken who has been connected with American Idol was played. This appeared on McKay’s Debut album ANYTHING GOES and provided a source to sell at country club gigs.
The casual onlooker might merely have considered McKay as a live Hal Ketchum tribute act with seeing his Youtube videos and hearing his cover version of ‘Just This Side Of Heaven’ , a track the radio programmers often opt for and the title cut from McKay’s sophomore release. It’s an album he is proud of, containing easy listening songs and one self penned track ‘Never Say Never’.
I Missed My Mary’ another Ketchum composition which Tim covered was spun and he also performed an acoustic live version of the ‘Past The Point Of Rescue’. Tim saw Hal played live in Leeds in 2007 – “he was pure genius, he was phenomenal” he said.
Tim sang on the global Stage in Nashville as the sole UK country representative and made use of the opportunity to make useful contacts. He is working with a publishing company in Nashville, they find him people to work with that are writing # 1 hit. One of these is Cary Barlowe who writes for MajorBob Music. He has written for Taylor Swift and his first country single and first country #1 song was as a co-writer on Lady Antebellum’s smash hit ‘American Honey’
Tim admits to struggling with lyrics but is more proficient on the musical side. It’s hoped that working with writers like Cary will bring the lyricist out of him.
On the programme ‘Goodbye Will Go’ was played along with performing another live original song ‘Here I Am’. Both were provided by the publishing company and the latter was something Tim sang when supporting Marty Stuart in Milton Keynes this year.
Tim had just returned from working in Denmark, Holland to sell out shows and has already been booked for repeat performances in Denmark for the next two years.
For the big festivals which he plays 5 or 6 times a year and for these occasions likes to put together a band. As solo artist using backing tracks in club to several hundred people is fine but this doesn’t convey through a big PA in fields with several thousand people. So having a 6-piece band in tow helps to fill out the sound on a musical level – “I really enjoy doing it, we have fun with it, it’s good” he says. It’s difficult to maintain a band making sure everyone’s happy, getting everyone in one place in a room to rehearse. Further band bookings are on the horizon in Europe.
When playing a line dance gig Tim is able to adapt his set to Top 20 line dance up-tempo numbers playing full on numbers from the get go.
Another string to Tim’s bow is playing as a Michael Bublé tribute act at weddings, which he plays 6 times a year. It is both financially rewarding and makes for variety
With fears of country music dying out in the UK Allan poised the question how Tim’s music is accepted and what of the future?
Allan: “People are always moaning about the British Country music scene dying out and say that you need to inject some youth into it, so THIS you, you are the future. But how of those older traditional audiences, how have they adapted to you – Have they gone with you, or don’t they like you, or what?
Tim: “If I had control of the British county music scene, this is going to be a touchy subject, I would have all the youngsters come and try, I’m not saying rock things up, but kind of move on with the times. When I went to America last year for the CMA week there were 100,000 people down in Nashville and the statistics came back that there were 29 and under the age of those 100,000 so it’s completely different scene down there. Obviously it’s a bigger country of course, but I think if we want to get it any further and get it onto mainstream radio we’ve got to loosen up a little bit. YES I do appreciate Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash because that’s where it all came from of course. I do listen to that kind of music sometimes BUT because I’m young I do like the new modern rockier stuff so I think if were going to get it any further in Britain that’s the way we’ve got to go.
Allan: “How are you going to make that transition though because you can’t at some sort of established listening club that has been going 40 years just switch it from Johnny Cash one week to say all Taylor Swift the next, the audience would just not come would they ? Your not going to get a whole load of new youngsters come in one go, can it be possible to change it over a long period of time?”
Tim: “I think it is, but it will take time, I went to see Lady Antebellum and Brad Paisley when they came over last year and young people turn up. You’re not seeing these people at a Tim McKay show or whoever show. These people are coming to see these artists because they know who they are, they know its country music, so there is a following out there”
Allan: “But those people will go to the O2 Arena, they’re not likely to go to X Working Mans Club, they don’t like the club scene “
Tim: “That’s what I’m saying, yeah. Why should a young 16-year old boy or girl come to see me sing covers by whoever like Brad Paisley when they can go to see him himself, why should they ? So that is why I’m going down the route at the moment of working on a lot of original stuff because I think if you going to make an artist of yourself you’ve got to have that original material”
Tim realises the need to push himself as an artist to get anywhere nowadays. For his new album due for release later in the year it will comprise of original material with a live sound with numbers co-written in America and England. Snippets will be made available on Tim’s website. For the project he is teaming up with John Taylor from Newcastle who has produced a group of people called The Company on an album COUNTRY SONGS OF TODAY . They perform Vic Holdroy songs, a writer from Yorkshire. The Company are :Vic Holdroyd (Acoustic Guitar) , John Taylor (Vocals & Guitars) , Tom Hudswell (Bass) , Mike Evans (Drums) , Al Jones(keys) and Sarah Jory (Pedal-Steel & Dobro).
Tim feels that the trend for putting out short digital EP’s and singles on Internet is “evolving into something really big”.
In July Tim will be playing the Country Fest in LetterKenny, Ireland and Barmouth Country Music Fest, in North Wales.
On 19 / 20 July he will attend an International Dance Contest in The Seychelles. Tim is a member of the judging panel for this annual event and from 23 – 27 July is performing at the Country Music Jamboree.
Allan Watkiss BBC Page –

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