As an entrepreneur, it’s hard for me to get time away. But for Live in the Vineyard (an event held in Napa Valley that pairs food, music, and wine), I will not only clear my schedule but also volunteer my own time and money for travel. Why? The food is great. The wine is incredible. The people are awesome. But what’s the most special for me is the music. There is nothing like it. Raw. Human. Magical. It touches me in ways that are hard to put into words.
The organizers of Live in the Vineyard, Bobbii and Claire, put together an event that is nothing short of genius. My wife and I have been fortunate to experience the magic from all angles: the front row, behind the stage, and as part of the LITV family. From Mary Lambert, LP, Delta Rae, and Yuna, to James Blunt, Youngblood Hawk, American Authors, and many others, we have had the opportunity to talk to and get to know that artists behind our favorite music. Here are the highlights of our most recent Live in the Vineyard trip in November.
Before his incredible acoustic Friday performance at Sutter Home Vineyard, we sat down with former Live at 35® artist Mat Kearney to talk about his “single shot drone video” for his new hit single “Heartbeat.” We learned that he was striving for a sound along the lines of Paula Abdul “back when she was dancing with cartoons,” and Bruce Hornsby. Once you hear the song, you will immediately connect with the truth of this statement. During his set at Sutter, he of course played his classic hit “Ships in the Night,” as well as acoustic versions of “Heartbeat” and the title track from his new album “Just Kids.” Mat gave us an exclusive first-ever interview about the influences behind his upcoming new album, and I for one have already pre-ordered the album. True to form, his songwriting is deeply moving, and his virtuosity with his instruments stellar. Check out the full interview here.
On Saturday evening, we were able to interview Meghan Trainor (“All About That Bass”) fresh off a performance at the Country Music Awards where she sang her hit single as a duet with Miranda Lambert. We talked about her CMA appearance and the heart underlying her music. Cut from the same cloth as Mary Lambert and Ella G’Sell, Meghan isn’t just about the fame and art, she is about the change she can create in the world, to help more people feel good about themselves, and achieve their highest potential. It is the chance to meet amazing humans like Meghan that is why I do this.
Thursday evening we were treated to an amazing performance in the caves at Spring Mountain Vineyards. I was salivating at a chance to ‘taste’ their Elivette all night, but I also discovered they have a new Pinot Noir that just might be the reason you forsake Merlot forever … but I digress. The real reason for talking about this was to tell you about the amazing duo that is Johnnyswim. Discovering up and coming artists is the real reason I come to LITV. Johnnyswim is now my new favorite Pandora station.
There truly is not enough space to tell you everything that happened over the weekend, to share the amazing experiences that we had given to us by these musical artists. So, I will keep it to the highest of the highlights.
Marie Miller: I’ve heard of her forever, but seeing her perform live—wow.
Scars on 45: Really increasing the energy in the room and building us up to one of the most special performances I have ever witnessed.
Justin Furstenfeld: Better known as Blue October, Justin treated us to a stunning performance, consistently raising the hairs on the back of my neck as I was moved by his stunning vocals and the depth of his lyrics. While it was what you might call a totally "stripped down performance," before leaving the stage, he put down his guitar, he set aside his microphone and he sang “Bleed Out” from the depth of his soul. It was so raw, so emotional, so beautiful. He moved me.
Matt Nathanson: A super high-energy performance that not only included his awesome hit single “Come on Get Higher” but also some covers and sing-alongs of “Sweet Child of Mine,” and some of the other biggest anthems of our time. He really is an amazing performer.
Train: Proved their right to be considered the “headliner.” With every song, they grew stronger and stronger. From “Drops of Jupiter” to “Meet Virginia” to “Calling All Angels,” they still have it.
Echosmith: I love their hit “Cool kids.” It seems the music industry thinks they may be the next big thing, perhaps as one exec mentioned to me, “they could be as big as the Beatles.”
All in all, it was the sort of weekend that few people every get to imagine, and fewer people get to experience. If I can share one piece of advice with you it is this—do whatever it takes to win your way into this amazing weekend. Barring that, bid whatever amount of Rapid Rewards points it takes to win tickets to this show. It will be well worth it. I am truly grateful for this experience and so thankful for the opportunity that our Southwest friends have given us. We are truly grateful and feel blessed to be a part of the Southwest family. Please click here for more photos from Live in the Vineyard.
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As we re-enter the “real world” after a magical weekend in Napa Valley, we are grateful to Southwest Airlines for allowing us the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of our favorite musicians. And not to mention all the perfectly-paired food and wine we were able to enjoy. The weekend was so magical, that often we had to pinch ourselves to make sure it was real. If we hadn’t returned with tons of great photos and interviews, I would have bet money that it was all a dream.
Below are a few highlights from our trip. Stay tuned to Live in the Vineyard and Nuts About Southwest for information on the next Live in the Vineyard event this fall. Perhaps you will be one of the lucky ones who win a chance to join us for another spectacular weekend of music, wine, and food from Live in the Vineyard!
Not only did we get to enjoy 13 amazing artists/bands, who each brought something special to the stage (and our ears), a few of them have become friends—including one of my longtime favorite bands, Better Than Ezra. We also spent some time with LP, getting to know the warm soul behind the terrific voice and fantastical whistling. Last but not least, while we didn't get as much bonding time with her as we would have loved, our interview with Mary Lambert was heartwarming and life-affirming. Every single artist we interviewed (or simply chatted with), like Passenger, Yuna, Fitz And The Tantrums and Allen Stone, are just wonderful people and happy to have the chance to spend their lives doing what they love.
Just what did we ask during our interviews? Aside from questions about the artist’s music and background, I also asked them about their “must-have” travel item. Answers ranged from neck pillows and re-usable water bottles to moisturizers and a scented candle (for the hotel room). Representing Southwest Airlines brought its share of perks such as the media access to do the interviews, but it also brought a request from Rapid Rewards Members, Fitz And The Tantrums, who were lobbying me to be "A Group for Life." As I promised Michael Fitzpatrick, I passed the request along to the airline and that the band will forever be in my “A Group.”
As for the music, WOW! I wish I had time to review every artist we saw. Instead, you’ll find a sampling of tweets at the end of this post. We were so impressed by the music we heard over the weekend, that we have been burning up our iTunes account with all the downloads. I suggest you give them all a listen and let us know if you love them as much as we do.
The Wine and Food
Aside from music, the great wines of Napa Valley and the amazing food from some of Napa's greatest chefs were a hot topic of conversation over the weekend.
At the Colbie Caillat show at Sutter Home, we discovered many of Sutter Home’s “sister” wines including Menage a Trois, Napa Cellars, and Bandit, which are all produced by the Trinchero Family Estates. These wines were paired with amazing fries, crab “cones,” cheeses, and desserts. On Saturday, we headed to a special lunch at Peju Winery that featured an incredible kale salad with chicken, grilled veggies, brick oven pizza, and corned beef sandwiches. A perfect strawberry shortcake was the perfect finish to this great meal.
Hall Winery: Birdy
@officialbirdy on the piano has more skill then you'd believe possible for a 17-year-old. Rousing ovation for her hit cover of Skinny Love.
Copia: Elaine Faye and We Are the Big Bang, Allen Stone
@allen_stone did 1 of the highest energy shows I've seen in a long time, a true entertainer with the musical skills of a master #hardworking
Sutter Home Winery: Colbie Caillat
@ColbieCaillat reminded us how many great songs she has made since being discovered on that ancient technology My Space! Still amazing today
Friday Night at The Uptown Theatre: Plumb, Mary Lambert, Hunter Hayes, Fitz And The Tantrums, O.A.R.
@marylambertsing is beautiful, poised, human and oh so talented. Turned her pain into poetry & songs delivered with the voice of an angel
@hunterhayes huge hit with young girls, and deservedly so, he can play and sing as good as he looks, really rocked the house like no other
@FitzAndTantrums plugged in and turned it up for a genre smashing, "you-can't-possibly-sit-while-we-are-playing-with-this-much-energy" set
@ofarevolution headlined the night in stellar fashion, a big band with a big presence who had everyone singing along & dancing in the aisles
Late night at Westin Verasa: Better Than Ezra
@betterthanezra a great long set in the hotel lobby, like the early days, but with some new music form the upcoming album (sounds awesome!)
Saturday Night @ The Uptown Theatre: Yuna, Alternate Routes, LP, Passenger Sarah McLachlan
@yunamusic 1MM followers have to be right! her voice and her music, influenced by her Malaysian roots, were bright, happy & lit up the night
@alternateroutes heard 1st on Olympics opening, their hit is the right message for our time. "We are how we treat each other, Nothing More"
@iamLP continues to amaze me as one of THE leading singer/songwriters of our time. Old soul, deep lyrics, powerful voice & mad whistling
@PassengerMusic mesmerizes you with his raspy voice & powerful performance, new single "Scare Away the Dark" super relevant for computer age
@SarahMcLachlan hasn't lost a step, her voice has aged like fine wine, one of the grandest of vocal instruments in the musical world today
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We’re reporting straight from Live In The Vineyard this weekend for Southwest Airlines. View our first post here.
When the wine is so good, it's sometimes hard to remember to pace yourself … until the next morning, when your head and body scream at you, and then you remember!
What an amazing first night for Live in the Vineyard yesterday. Everything you want in a Napa Valley experience and then some. Starting at Hall Winery where we had great appetizers perfectly paired with their red wines, and a red-themed evening with everyone in red clothing and hats that were given out. I just can't say enough about this little lamb bite with goat cheese, but I digress as the musical menu was even more spectacular. Birdy gave an exceptional performance in the winery, showcasing her beautiful voice with just a piano to accompany it. Of course, she closed her set with "Skinny Love" that moved the entire audience into a stilled silence. Even the photographers stood in awe.
After a quick dinner on our own, we headed over to Copia where had the opportunity to met Allen Stone. Allen is just a great guy, a true talent of whom I have been a fan for a long time after first seeing him play in San Francisco almost two years ago. He is in the midst of finishing another album, but headed out on the road once again.
Later on in the night, he really knocked it out of the park with a set that had everyone dancing, singing along and laughing. As always, we are so impressed with the caliber of musical talent that perform at Live in the Vineyard.
Today, we are preparing to head to Sutter Home Winery for a special performance by Colbie Caillat. Then this evening there is a special wine tasting at the Westin Verasa before the big concert tonight. I really can't wait to interview Mary Lambert and Fitz and the Tantrums this evening. Hopefully we will be able to manage a front row seat for all the performances at the Uptown Theatre, where O.A.R. will be headlining! While the big concert tonight will be amazing as always, I think I am most excited for the late night Better Than Ezra show, that is going to be awesome!
Stay tuned for more action from Live In The Vineyard!
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This weekend, Kristie and I are excited to be guest bloggers here on the Nuts About Southwest Blog, reporting on all the amazing music, wine, and food from Live in the Vineyard happening in Napa this weekend April 3-6, 2014.
With Lee DeWyze
If you weren't one of the lucky few sweepstakes winners or Rapid Rewards Credit Cardmembers attending this weekend, we will give you a window into this exclusive event. Through photos, tweets, and video interviews, we will be bringing you all the social media that’s fit to share over the next few days from this intimate pairing of wine and music. In fact, if the schedules work out, this weekend we will be interviewing LP, Allen Stone, Fitz and the Tantrums, Birdy, and others. The spring headliners include Colbie Caillat, O.A.R., and Sarah McLachlan with a special late night show from one of my favorite bands, Better Than Ezra!
With Paloma Faith
We are so excited, we can hardly wait, and it all starts tonight at Hall Winery with an opening reception featuring Birdy, who you may know from her cover of "Skinny Love," which received all kinds of international acclaim. Not bad for a teenager, eh? These are the sorts of artists who we get to enjoy at Live in the Vineyard—the sorts of people you really want to know, just as they are breaking, or about to break, it big. So you definitely want to follow along throughout the weekend by checking in on the hashtag #SWAatLITV (Southwest Airlines at Live in the Vineyard) to get an insider’s view on this great event that Southwest Airlines supports.
With Ryan Starr
By the way, for those of you who don't know me, my name is Chris Heuer, and I am, as my friends say, the lesser half to the dynamic duo known as Chris and Kristie (my wife). We founded a nonprofit organization called Social Media Club back in 2006 to help people learn about social media, promote ethical behavior, and advance industry standards. We are proud to say that Southwest Airlines was one of the earliest supporters of our nonprofit, and our relationship with the social media Team here has evolved over the years into this very lucky gig. We get to help Southwest share the special experience of Live in the Vineyard with food, wine, and music influencers, as well as all our friends, through social media. We feel blessed to have attended the past five events, enjoying some incredibly special moments, drinking some of the best wine in the world, and meeting some of our favorite musical artists and emerging talent.
This year, through a series of lucky accidents, we find ourselves in this role of guest bloggers, getting a chance to share our story in a slightly more formal way on the Nuts About Southwest Blog. We hope you are able to follow along, and participate from wherever you are. In fact, if any of the artists performing at Live in the Vineyard are your favorites, and you would like us to ask them a question, post it here in the comments or tweet us, and we will do our best to get you an answer. (@chrisheuer and @kristiewells are our Twitter handles.)
Looking back at past events we have attended, it's tough to pick just a few that stand out, but talking to Michael Chiarello and LP about artistry in music and food has to be up there along with having a very human conversation with James Blunt about his deeply emotional process of songwriting. Then, of course, all the American Idol winners we've met: Kris Allen, Adam Lambert, Lee DeWyze, Casey Abrams, and Haley Reinhart. They were all just real, down-to-earth people when you get to meet them under the right circumstance. That said, one of the most amazing things about LITV is how Claire and Bobbi, the producers, select the most amazing talent, who haven't yet made it big. Two examples that come to mind are seeing fun. play "We Are Young" in the barrel room of Nickel and Nickel winery a couple of nights before their David Letterman performance and interviewing American Authors last November before their album even dropped. I am sure there will be a few more of those "we-met-them-when-nobody-knew-them" musicians this year, and I can't wait to meet them.
Most of all though, it’s the unique combination of energies, people, and activities that make it such an extraordinary experience, for which we are forever grateful for the chance to participate. The vibe in Napa Valley is so relaxing and so inviting that, when you bring in the most talented musicians to hang out with the amazing chefs and wine makers, the art that is produced is truly magical. So that is what we will be trying to capture this weekend to share with you—the magic that happens when great art is made in a great place, "Live in the Vineyard."
Look for more insiders’ views of Live in the Vineyard from Southwest Airlines Guest Bloggers Chris Heuer and Kristie Wells over the days ahead and follow along online via our Twitter account, as well as with the hashtag #SWAatLITV.
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