Steve Azar, Deana Carter to perform at Liberty Theater

Posted by steveazar on March 16, 2016

It might not have the dusty roads and hot nights that have inspired country singers for generations, but Newport will have tunes to match the best of them on Saturday, March 18, when Country on the Coast comes to town.

The fund-raising concert will feature intimate performances from country stars Deana Carter and Steve Azar, with proceeds benefiting renovation of the Newport Performing Arts Center.

Multi-Grammy nominated Deana Carter boasts country music’s ultimate prize — her number-one hit “Strawberry Wine” won the prestigious CMA Song of the Year award and is a staple on country radio. Meanwhile, Steve Azar has his own mega hit to his credit with “I Don’t Have To Be Me Til Monday,” which is one of the top-five most played songs on country radio in the past decade. 

Carter, daughter of famed studio guitarist and producer Fred Carter, Jr., grew up exposed to musicians from Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan to Waylon Jennings and Simon & Garfunkel. 

Their strong influence would eventually seep into Carter’s own country-pop style, which reflects qualities that can also be heard in similar artists such as Mary Chapin Carpenter and Sheryl Crow.

Developing her songwriting skills by trial and error at writers’ nights throughout Nashville, Carter eventually signed a writing deal with Polygram and soon after a record deal with Capitol Records. One of Carter’s demo tapes happened to fall into the hands of none other than Willie Nelson, who remembered her as a child. Impressed with how she’d grown as a songwriter, Nelson asked Carter to perform along with John Mellencamp, Kris Kristofferson and Neil Young as the only female solo artist to appear at Farm Aid VII in 1994.

Carter’s debut album, “Did I Shave My Legs For This?” boasts six songs that she co-wrote and co-produced, and was released to strong reviews in late summer 1996. By the end of the year, the record had climbed to the top of both the country and pop charts, quickly achieving multi-platinum status — which it held for more than five years. 

Today, as she readies her latest bundle of uniquely crafted tunes for upcoming release on “Southern Way of Life,” Carter explores many subjects commonly shared over a quaint dinner, afternoon coffee or a sunny day hike with a good friend.

The songs weave through the sometimes-rocky terrain of adulthood, including loss of love, relationships on many different levels, trials, tribulations and, simply put, life. Instinctively autobiographical, the subject matter mimics the interesting ride of Carter’s own life — so far.

Appearing alongside Carter is Steve Azar, a songwriter, recording artist and music producer who calls his signature mixture of country, rock and blues “Delta Soul.”

His debut album “Waitin’ On Joe” was released in 2001 and saw the title track, which features narration by academy award-winning actor Morgan Freeman, go to number one on Country Music Television.

Azar has written and recorded songs for film, too. “Doin’ It Right” (Delta Mix) from his “Delta Soul Volume One,” was the feature track for Sony Pictures’ 2013 movie “Here Comes The Boom” starring Kevin James and Salma Hayek. 

In 2007, Bob Seger personally chose Azar to perform 46 shows on what Pollstar Magazine rated the number one tour in America.

Azar has been honoured with “Steve Azar day” in the states of Mississippi and South Dakota. He is the co-founder of Ride Records and, in 2013, co-founded the Mighty Mississippi Music Festival, dubbed “A Southern Gem” by the American Blues Scene. With a strong interest in mentorship and giving back to the Delta, Azar enjoys being artist-in-residence at the Delta Music Institute, part of Delta State University.

Friday’s concert, presented by the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts and Show Sherpas, will start at 8 pm at the Newport Performing Arts Center, 777 W Olive Street.

Tickets are $35 for general admission, $45 for premium seating and $25 for Lincoln County residents who show proof of address when booking.

Tickets are available from the PAC box office, online at www.coastarts.org or by calling 541-265-2787.

Proceeds from the concert will go toward “Entertain the Future!” a $4.3-million capital campaign to enhance and expand the Newport Performing Arts Center. 

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