CMT's 'Sun Records' finds its groove with Chuck Mead

CMT is trying to pull off a magic trick with its new drama series, "Sun Records": to convince viewers, if only for a moment, that they're really seeing those legends perform in their early days — instead of a cast of musically gifted actors.

Sounds like an impossible task.  But on the other hand, they had Chuck Mead in their corner.

The Nashville musician — who previously fronted throwback country favorites BR549 — served as musical director on the show and essentially put its young stars through "band camp." It's not an entirely new gig for him: he also oversaw the music for "Million Dollar Quartet," the stage musical on which "Sun Records" is based.

"They all just really worked at it," Mead says of the TV cast. "It's at the point now where I would have all of those guys in the (stage show)."

In terms of musical experience, the "Sun Records" cast ran the gamut. 18-year-old Drake Milligan has been impersonating Elvis on stage since he was 9. He sets a high bar for his cast mates in the show's opening scene, in which a teenage Elvis strums a guitar in his kitchen and croons "Are You Lonesome Tonight?"

"You get a guy like that, and you don't have to give that much insight, you just give references," Mead says. "'Hey, why don't you do this like he did it on the Dorsey (Brothers Stage) Show?' They'll know exactly what I'm talking about."

Meanwhile, the show's Johnny Cash (Kevin Fonteyne) had to learn to play guitar for his role. He also delved into Cash's character behind the legend. Mead had him watch the home movie footage from Cowboy Jack Clement's documentary "Shakespeare Was a Big George Jones Fan."

"He went in and studied who he was, especially in the early years, because in our TV show, Cash has just gotten out of the Air Force."

It sounds like some characters are quicker studies than others, too.

"The first thing that I make any new guy that's coming in to play Jerry Lee (Lewis) do is look at his performance of 'Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" on 'The Steve Allen Show,'" Mead says. "That cuts right to it. But you also get him as a person, because there's no difference."

"Sun Records" premieres February 23 and airs Thursday nights at 9 p.m. CT on CMT, after new episodes of "Nashville."


CMT Debuts 1st Trailer from 'Sun Records' - Million Dollar Quartet TV Series

With music direction, on-set consulting and character acting by Chuck Mead!

The first promo for Sun Records is here. This is the upcoming CMT limited series (formerly known as Million Dollar Quartet) that’s based on the Tony Award-winning musical.

Sun Records tells the story of the birth of rock ‘n’ roll through legendary players like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Sun Records stars Chad Michael Murray as Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, Billy Gardell as Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker, Drake Milligan as Presley, Kevin Fonteyne as Cash, Christian Lees as Lewis, and Kerry Holliday as Turner.

The show is set to premiere on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 10 p.m.

Check out the trailer here:

Nashville Boogie 2017 Dates & Line Up Announced!

We're very pleased to announce that we will once again be joining the good folks at the Nashville Boogie Vintage Weekender at The Nashville Palace on May 19, 2017! Tickets available HERE

The Nashville Boogie Vintage Weekender is a celebration of Mid Century America with over 80 live performances across 5 stages at the Nashville Palace, Opryland Hotel & Grand Ole Opry House May 18-21, 2017. 

There will be a HUGE vintage market with over 50 vendors from across the U.S. and indoor car show located in the Ryman Hall at Opryland Hotel May 19 & 20, 2017. Entry is FREE w/ a wristband or just $5 to the public. 

Enjoy Western Roundup Fashion Show by Riley Reed and the Pinup Pageant w/ King Dado as well! 

There is free parking next door at the mall. Weekend & Day Passes available.

Don't miss the grand finale performance at the Grand Ole Opry House. Separate tickets on sale for that soon.


Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys to hit the road with The Legendary Shack Shakers!

Yessiree! Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys will be hitting the road with The Legendary Shack Shakers for what should be a no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners, sweating-through-the-seat-of-your-pants series of true-blue American rockin' n rollin' concerts! (ok, i made up the sweaty pants cliche. but you get the picture, right?) The tour kicks off at Chicago's City Winery on November 8, 2016 and ends (??) in Kansas City, MO at Knuckleheads on November 13. 

For those very few of you not familiar with The Legendary Shack Shakers, Rolling Stone says...

"Taking in one of the Legendary Shack Shakers' thrilling, sometimes terrifying, live performances is akin to witnessing a gospel revival or even a snake-handling ceremony."

Show dates and ticket links are below. Word to the wise... Don't wait to get your tickets! Do it now. You know these shows will sell out fast! See you down the road...

11/08/16 : Chicago, IL : City Winery : Tickets HERE

11/09/16 : Minneapolis, MN : VFW Post 246 : Tickets HERE

11/10/16 : Madison, WI : High Noon Saloon : Tickets HERE

11/11/16 : Rock Island, IL : Rock Island Brewing : Tickets on sale soon!

11/12/16 : Lincoln, NE : 1867 Bar : Tickets HERE

11/13/16 : Kansas City, MO : Knuckleheads : Tickets HERE