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    Raelyn Nelson is on the road again - and coming to Massachusetts for the first time - with local favorite Annie Brobst.


    Four-date mini tour arrives at The Porch in Medford April 20 with a solo show from Raelyn Nelson paired with a set from award-winning MA-based country artist Annie Brobst.

    Raelyn Nelson is making a name for herself in country music. And she's doing it on her own terms and with her own unique style.

    As a granddaughter of country music legend Willie Nelson, the 36-year-old Raelyn is certainly no stranger to the music industry. She's been playing guitar and ukulele, writing songs, and performing since she was a young girl. Today she is a fast-emerging artist out of the Nashville scene and hitting a real stride with the 'Raelyn Nelson Band' - which had its eponymous debut release in 2014 and has been touring almost non-stop ever since.
    Photo byRaelyn Nelson Band - publicity photo.

    Nelson performs in Massachusetts for the first time on April 20 in a solo gig at The Porch in Medford - the first of four stops with local country music sensation Annie Brobst on their Wine Weed & Whiskey Tour. Brobst has been on her own fast-moving train to breakthrough success - racking up New England Music Awards honors for Overall Act of the Year, Country Artist of the Year, and Song of the Year. An Ohio native who now lives in Danvers, MA - Brobst is proof of concept that great country artists can emerge, grow and thrive in any geography where the fans and market are supportive.

    Nelson's full band sound has been called a hybrid of country and garage rock. She writes songs on the guitar but prefers playing ukulele live because it enables more freedom on stage. This is a performer who likes to move.

    "I love that description," Nelson said recently in a phone conversation. "My whole background is country and gospel. My guys (in the band) are country and garage rock."

    On stage, Nelson says she likes to "dance and shake" and move around a lot and the tiny ukulele enables that. "One of my favorite quotes is: 'You cannot play the ukulele without laughing,'" she said. "It's true."

    Her debut EP, ‘Raelyn Nelson Band’ was released in 2014 and was well-received by fans and critics alike. Nelson's single ‘Troublemaker’ was a featured new music pick on Spotify. But it's the Nelson family business that keeps her busiest: hitting the road and touring constantly with her band, including guitarist and songwriting partner Jonathan Bright "J.B." - who is also an independent producer. The band's 2019 full-album release was called "Don't."

    Two fast and fun facts: Raelyn's pop icon idol is Brittany Spears. "She was just so cool when I was little." She also co-hosts with Bright the emerging "Music is Funny" podcast - which was born of the group's love of stand-up comedy and their practice of listening to comics while on the road in their tour van.

    Nelson credits Bright with completing the musical ideas she first began developing early on after receiving her first guitar as a 14-year-old girl. Years later when they came together to record some songs, "He opened me up to the world of The Clash and the Ramones," Nelson told the Daily Times Chronicle of Blount, TN in a 2017 interview. "All of our music is a hybrid of my country and him adding his rock influence into it. We do everything together — videos, songwriting, websites, social media. He’s a true part of the Raelyn Nelson Band."

    The April 20th show and others on her mini tour with Annie Brobst will be a change of pace - and volume - for Nelson. "It will be a totally new experience for me - acoustic and quiet. All I have ever wanted was to have the life that Papa Willie was singing (about) in 'On The Road Again,'" she said. "It's still really thrilling."

    Brobst, like Nelson with her Brittany fandom, experienced a good share of early inspiration from the pop superstars she admired most: Whitney Houston, Maria Carey, Christina Aguilera - along with the twangier country sound of Faith Hill and Shania Twain. "I wanted to be them. I'm not sure it was the instrumentation. I think it was just these amazing women and the songs they were singing."

    Brobst says "people outside of New England still don't see New England as any kind of country hot spot. I still think there are going to be barriers knocked down. Screw the barriers."

    On the first "Wine Weed and Whiskey" show at The Porch on April 20, she said: "I am really excited to get into a new room. My fans here locally in New England are hopefully going to come out with flying colors."

    Brobst was born in Columbus, Ohio. After moving to Boston, Massachusetts in 2007, she self-released one EP titled Ghost. She then moved to Massachusetts where she taught Spanish at a charter school in Salem. Brobst released her second album, My First Rodeo, in 2018. Her latest album, Holler & Swaller, was released in March 2021.

    ​​"There are few artists working in New England who approach contemporary country with such a combination of mastery of the genre and accessibility outside the genre's normal audience." -
    Victor D. Infante of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette about Annie Brobst in his "Favorite Albums of 2021".

    Brobst has accumulated over 75,000 followers and video views in the millions across social media outlets (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Bandsintown, TikTok).

    The April 20 Raelyn Nelson-Annie Brobst show at The Porch is part of a mini-tour of Massachusetts venues that is being produced by Harmon Marino Productions founder Gary Marino. Marino is a Massachusetts-based comedian, event producer, and musician whose own live shows with the World Gone Crazy Band have been selling out in Florida, Maine, and on Cape Cod. Other stops include Stanzy's Country Ranch in Peabody on April 21, Off the Rails in Worcester, April 22, and a final show at City Winery in Boston on April 23.

    Cosmo Macero Jr. is an independent journalist and founder of American Household News on the Newsbreak app.

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