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Headliner – Megan Moroney
Megan Moroney writes the kind of unforgettably cathartic songs that feel like a heart-to-heart with your most wildly honest friend: she’s tough but sensitive, fun-loving and fiercely witty, and completely unafraid to say what’s on her mind. Immediately proving her effortless star power, the Georgia-bred singer/songwriter/guitarist first burst onto the scene in September 2022 with her breakout single “Tennessee Orange”—a truly one-of-a-kind love song whose meteoric success includes cracking the Top 20 on Country radio and achieving a RIAA Platinum Certification as of April 2023, with Moroney landing on countless artist-to-watch lists and joining the CMT Next Women of Country Class of 2023. On her massively anticipated debut album Lucky, the Nashville-based artist doubles down on the lived-in intimacy and electrifying impact of her storytelling, ultimately sharing a powerfully detailed snapshot of her life at age 25.
Produced by Kristian Bush (the multi-award-winning artist/songwriter/producer and member of famed duo Sugarland), Lucky arrives on the heels of Moroney’s widely acclaimed debut EP Pistol Made of Roses—a 2022 release that prompted CMT to praise her as a “musical risktaker with powerhouse pipes.” Over the course of 13 hard-hitting yet exquisitely crafted tracks, Moroney speaks her truth about a whirlwind of emotional experiences: the pain of losing yourself in a toxic relationship, the frustration of dealing with mean girls and their petty antics, the no-regrets thrill of reconnecting with an ex on a rowdy night out (to name just a few). Anchored in the graceful and gritty vocal presence she first honed by singing covers with her dad and brother as a kid, Lucky brings all that fearless truth-telling to a timeless collision of country and folk and Southern rock—an undeniably fresh sound Moroney likens to “a vintage car that can fly.”
Although Lucky often finds Moroney opening up about the heartaches in her recent past, the album takes its title from a hellraising honky-tonk number that lets her more freewheeling side shine. With its blazing guitar riffs, saloon-style piano, and hip-shaking grooves, “Lucky” opens on a show-stopping line showcasing the full-force personality of Moroney’s songwriting: “Weatherman said there’s a 100% chance I’m goin’ out/And there’s a real good chance that I’m gonna burn the whole town down.” “I was listening to a lot of ’90s country at the time and wanted a two-stepping song,” she recalls. “I had an idea for a lyric that went ‘You’re lucky I’m drinking,’ which has to do with those nights when you’ve had a little too much to drink and might end up answering a text from someone you shouldn’t be talking to anymore. That’s something I know a lot of my girlfriends can definitely relate to, and I loved the idea of turning it into a feel-good party song.”
On songs like “Girl in the Mirror,” Lucky turns more introspective as Moroney reflects on the hard-won life lessons of past relationships. “I think ‘Girl in the Mirror’ is the most vulnerable I’ve ever been in a song,” she notes. “It’s about how sometimes when you’re in relationship, you want it to work so badly that you end up sacrificing your own happiness. On the day we recorded it, everyone in the studio was crying by the end.” Built on a beautifully stripped-back arrangement spotlighting the pure sorrow in Moroney’s voice, the result is a hushed yet hypnotic track that expresses the most complex emotions with a stunning simplicity (from the first verse: “He puts her down/She put him pedestal-high/The girl in the mirror/She’s lost her damn mind”).
Revealing the radiant imagination of her songwriting, Lucky also includes such standouts as “Why Johnny”—a lullaby-like song lit up in lush pedal-steel tones and elegant fingerpicking from Moroney, whose voice takes on an aching tenderness as she turns to June Carter Cash for love advice. “That song’s a letter to June, asking her how she knew Johnny was going to get over all the problems he had at the beginning and eventually become someone who wrote her love letters every day,” says Moroney. “It’s my way of asking if I should be patient with the guy I’m dealing with, or if I should just move on. It’s one of my favorite songs on the record, partly because of how it came together—I was playing guitar for the whole eight or nine hours we were writing it, and at the end my fingers were bleeding.” Meanwhile, on “Traitor Joe,” Lucky merges country with pop-punk as Moroney sounds off on the two-timing girlfriend of the guy she’s got her eye on. “I get a lot of inspiration from the edgier female country artists like Miranda Lambert, so my brain usually goes right to those angry-at-men type of songs,” she says. “But with ‘Traitor Joe’ I thought it would be fun to flip that, and make it into a song about how he should dump her and be with me.”
Born in Savannah but raised in Douglasville, Moroney covered songs like Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart” with her father and brother as a teenager, then took up guitar at age 16. “I got my heart broken so my dad brought me to Guitar Center and got me the Taylor that I still play now,” she points out. After undergoing knee surgery her junior year of high school (a turn of events that derailed her dreams of becoming a college cheerleader), Moroney spent two months in a wheelchair and used that downtime to sharpen her guitar-playing chops. During her freshman year at the University of Georgia (where she studied accounting), she won the Miss Sorority Row pageant by performing a cover of Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine,” then took the stage at a campus event attended by country star Chase Rice. “Chase invited me to open for him at the Georgia Theatre but told me I needed to have an original song,” she says. “I’d never written before but I finished a song in time for the show, which ended up being sold out. Right away I fell in love with performing—it was so cool to feel a room full of people connecting with the words I was singing.”
Not long after that night, Moroney changed her major and joined UGA’s music-business program, eventually landing an internship with Kristian Bush. Just two months into lockdown, she graduated from UGA and moved to Nashville on her own in hopes of kickstarting her music career. “I wanted to connect with other songwriters, but because of Covid I ended writing by myself most of the time,” she says. “Kristian checked in with me after a couple months and asked how it was going and I told him, ‘Honestly—not great.’” At Bush’s urging, she headed to Atlanta to record a handful of demos that soon caught the ear of Juli Griffith of PunchBowl Entertainment, who later took her on as a management client. In early 2021, Moroney made her debut with “Wonder”—an irresistible first glimpse at the full-hearted candor of her songwriting—and racked up over two million views within 24 hours. “It was the first time I understood that writing about my real-life experiences could be therapeutic for other people, and it motivated me to keep going,” she says. After spending all of 2021 writing and refining her songs, Moroney delivered Pistol Made of Roses in July 2022 and soon returned with “Tennessee Orange”: an impossibly catchy slow-burner that puts a brilliant twist on the typical love song. “I’m a diehard Georgia fan, but one day I found myself in a boy’s Tennessee shirt and realized my mom would kill me if she saw me wearing it,” she explains. “I thought that was a clever idea for a love song—sort of like, ‘Look what I’m willing to do for you.’ I had no idea it would be the song that changed my whole life.” Along with surpassing a million streams in just five days, “Tennessee Orange” found Moroney fielding offers from nearly 20 record labels, then inking her deal with Sony Music Nashville/Columbia Records by the end of the year.
Since the arrival of “Tennessee Orange,” Moroney has achieved such milestones as making her debut at the Grand Ole Opry and selling out her first-ever headline run (the spring 2023 Pistol Made of Roses tour). Now gearing up for an opening slot on a summer tour with country legends Brooks & Dunn, she’ll hit the road for a nearly-sold-out tour in support of Lucky this fall—a coast-to-coast trek including stops at iconic venues like the New York City’s Bowery Ballroom and the Troubadour in Los Angeles. “The way the shows are selling out has been so surreal, especially when I think about how not too long ago I figured I’d grow up to be an accountant,” she says. “I wish I could tell my younger self to dream bigger, and I hope this record somehow inspires people to go after what they’re really passionate about. But mostly I hope my music helps people feel like they’re not alone in whatever they’re going through. All these songs came from me writing about my life; I don’t ever put on a persona or try be something I’m not. I’m just a 25-year-old girl from Georgia who happens to be very in touch with her feelings, and knows how to turn them into songs.”
Get more info on Megan Moroney by visiting her website!
Opener – Bryan Martin
If life would have gone the way he wanted and the gun would have gone off the way he planned, a then 19-year-old Bryan Martin would be on his way to a much different place than he is right now. But instead, the 35-year-old breakout country artist is here, turning his stories of past struggles into the ultimate tale of survival.
And he ain’t going nowhere.
The story begins in the small town of Logansport, Louisiana, in a small church where the kid with the big heart first began to sing. He grew up singing hymns and spirituals created to heal the broken, but his true essence came out when the four-year-old would tear into the fun-loving lyrics of the Billy Ray Cyrus classic “Achy Breaky Heart.”
He kept singing covers from the likes of legendary country music artists such as George Strait until the sport of bull riding caught Martin’s eye. The curious teenager at the time pursued the sport with a passion while also working in the Louisiana hay fields, eventually making enough money to buy his first car – a 1988 Chevrolet Blazer.
But sometimes, Martin would retreat to the woods across the street from the double-wide trailer he called his house, and he would sit underneath the trees and bask in the peace that he could never find at the home he was raised in. And in those quiet moments, he would often notice a measurable amount of pain pouring from his heart.
“I still find myself wanting to go back to that spot.”
Soon, Martin found himself giving in to temptations such as drugs and alcohol, resulting in the decision to drop out of high school and clean up his life in the military. But soon, he was sent home – and the feeling of failure led Martin to ultimately attempt suicide.
“I took 30 Percocet and misfired a 357 when I was 19 years old. My first song came from a suicide note.”
The very next day, Martin met his wife, took a job on a rig, and eventually became a father to four forgiving kids who knew that their dad battled his share of demons each day, but continued to work hard to make the best out of a somewhat painful life.
And when Martin thought life seemed to be at its worst, he was wrong. A near-fatal accident caused Martin to sustain a brain injury that led him to make a complete change in his personal and professional life.
“I made a promise that I was going to take all these broken promises and this guitar that I’d been hiding behind for so long and I was going to make it go to work for once and make it pay itself off. I had done all the suffering I was going to do.”
Indeed, the suffering of fifteen years forever fused into Martin’s unfaltering work ethic eventually resulted in the release of Bryan’s debut album, If It Was Easy, which detailed his struggle with opiate addiction and mental health while also telling the story of growing up in an oil field family. It was this album that set Martin off on a trek to become one of the genre’s grittiest storytellers.
“I just think that if I go hide my scars and I go putting a mask on myself or who I am, I’m doing exactly what I never wanted to do. I wear the scars, and I’m learning to wear it better. The reason why I don’t hide anything is because there’s too many people that need to know that there is no difference between me and them.”
But whether Martin likes it or not, he is proving he’s unlike anyone else in country music right now. From his Grand Ole Opry debut in August to the release of his latest album Poets & Old Souls that included hits such as “Wolves Cry” and the uplifting “We Ride.” Martin is healing a big with every note he sings.
“That’s what songs do…they heal.”
Add that to touring across the country with the likes of Warren Zeiders, Jason Aldean and Brantley Gilbert, signing with WME’s Kevin Neal for booking representation and surpassing 300 million cumulative worldwide streams, Martin is making quite an impression.
“These songs come from the struggle and all these things that I’ve been through. I know that me surviving a lot of these things couldn’t have been me. I just thank God for it.”
Get more info on on Bryan Martin by visiting his website!
Opener – Nate Botsford
Nate began playing piano when he was only five, but the Taylor acoustic guitar given to him by his dad at age 14 became the instrument that has accompanied him everywhere and helped to lay the foundation for his musical career. That career has seen up to 300 shows a year for the last five years: from coffeehouses to mainstages, Nate has pleased audiences with his feel-good tunes and relatable lyrics. Nate has shared the stage with the likes of Old Dominion, Brett Young, Chris Janson, LoCash, Lonestar and many others and calls upon his influences of Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and his big-band pianist grandfather while crafting his music.
His songs have received regular rotation radio play and won numerous awards, including 2015 Project Aloft national songwriting contest judged by industry professionals. A 25-city tour in 2016 took Nate and his music to new audiences, and it only gets bigger from there. Nate’s dream is to share his music with a wider national audience and to leave with his listeners a lasting impression of singable melodies and lyrics that, as Nate says, “Can feel were written just for them to find a glimmer of hope.”
Get more info about Nate Botsford by visiting his website!
Enjoy a hot, home-style dinner before the big show! With all-day breakfast, mountain-sized nachos, and mouth-watering burgers, The Cascade Grill has something for everyone to enjoy before the big show!
We encourage all our concert attendees to order off the full menu at the Cascade Grill before entering for the show!
Why worry about how you’re getting home when you can stay at our on-site hotel? The Portlander Inn welcomes you to Portland with the cozy feel of a true Northwest lodge. All 100 guest rooms offer refrigerators, microwave ovens, coffee pots, free wireless internet, direct-dial phones with voicemail and televisions with complimentary HBO and Showtime premium channels. Learn more and book your room here.
ALL PURCHASES ON TICKETS ARE FINAL. There are NO REFUNDS and NO TRANSFERS of tickets with the exception of event cancellations.
Support acts are subject to change.
No re-entry permitted.
If a ticket type is not sold out, there are always tickets available to purchase at the door on the day of the concert.
Questions? Check out the FAQs on the Ponderosa website for answers to the most common questions.