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Dan + Shay | "CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock"
Some country duos come together in a writing room, others from crossing paths in a local bar. But in the case of soulful new duo Dan + Shay, the guys met in a rather unconventional venue: underneath a tent staked inside Dan’s living room.
“We were having a party and didn’t have enough money to pay for heat, so we went to the thrift store and tented out the whole living room,” says Dan Smyers, a suburban Pittsburgh native who relocated to Nashville in 2010.
“I walked into that and we jammed until 4 in the morning, making up songs and singing for girls,” continues Shay Mooney, originally of Natural Dam, Ark., with a laugh. “Dan and I clicked from the very beginning, and we ended up writing the very next day.”
And nearly every day since. Influenced by such artists as Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban and Tim McGraw, along with a healthy dose of ‘90s rock and R&B, Dan + Shay penned songs that quickly gained the respect of fellow Nashville writers. Now, the pair’s debut single, “19 You + Me,” is catching the ear of radio listeners. Upon its release, it had the biggest first week by a new duo in trade publication Country Aircheck’s history and was the most added debut of 2013 at country radio.
The harmony-rich song reinvents the popular theme of nostalgia through a flurry of evocative imagery: you were California beautiful, I was playing everything but cool; it was everything we wanted it to be, the summer of 19 You + Me.
“People are always asking us if it refers to being 19 years old or a year. We leave that open for interpretation,” says Shay.
It’s such clever, inventive wordplay that distinguishes the duo. They bring an educated yet hip slant to country lyrics, along with dovetailing vocals that lead some fans to assume the twentysomethings are brothers. They’re not, but their harmonies are Everly-tight.
“We pour our hearts into everything we write and sing,” says Dan. “We were two songwriters who were passionate about trying to write the best possible songs that we could and that’s what this thing was formed around. It developed organically.”
“What I love about the vibe that Dan and I have is we don’t worry about what we say,” continues Shay, citing song titles like “Stop, Drop and Roll” and “First Time Feeling.” “When you’re writing, you can’t be scared to say anything.”
That fearlessness is all over Dan + Shay’s forthcoming album. Produced by Dan, along with co-producers Scott Hendricks and Danny Orton, the record is set to establish Dan + Shay as breakout stars.
And just maybe allow them to take down that tent in Dan’s living room.
June 6, 2014 10:00 am CHEVY RIVERFRONT STAGE – Friday

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