The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® has a knack for recognizing and showcasing up and coming country music talent and the Malloy Toyota Country Music Party, presented by Q102 lineup is sure to please fans yet again. In years past, the Festival has welcomed artists like Blake Shelton and Billy Currington in 2004, Parmalee in 2018, Jimmie Allen in 2019 and many others onto our stage as they were establishing their names in the country music industry. For 2022, we are pleased to announce that Sam Grow will be headlining the show with special guest, Ryan Jewel from 8:00 pm to midnight on Saturday evening, April 30 at the Tolley Dental Zone at the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics & Events Center on the campus of Shenandoah University. Tickets are $35.00 and are available at www.thebloom.com.
All of us can remember moments that changed our lives and hopefully the lives of those we love.
Ask Sam Grow and he’ll tell you he’s had maybe three. The first came in high school, when his father agreed to buy Sam the guitar he desperately wanted — but only on one fateful condition. The next came the day he first held his newborn daughter, a moment that prompted him to make a special vow he has kept ever since. And the third involved his decision to pass by several tempting opportunities until the perfect one came along – signing with Average Joes Entertainment.
Since signing with the Nashville-based label in 2019, Grow has amassed 40+ million streams across all Digital Service Platforms, was named to Billboard’s coveted “7 Country Acts To Watch” list, and was recently pegged by Music Row magazine as “On Board For Strong Bids For Future Stardom.” His 2020 hit single, “Song About You,” from his EP, Me And Mine, was listed as one of Spotify’s "Best Country Songs of 2020-Wrapped," and his 2019 album, “Love and Whiskey,” debuted at #1 on iTunes Country albums chart.
“Love and Whiskey” was a self-portrait that spoke to listeners as if they had written those songs themselves. Add his insight as a singer, his ability to convey loneliness, love and laughter with equal eloquence, and you’ve got an album that represents the best of modern country.
Grow began his journey in Mechanicsville, Maryland, where his father J.R. worked on power lines by day and enjoyed singing and listening to music at home at night. Sam started showing signs of talent early — so early that at age 5, after his family had moved to Winfield, Kansas, he made his debut singing “Amazing Grace” at the local Baptist church. Winfield also hosts the annual Walnut Valley Festival, which featured many of the best bluegrass singers and players. This, too, opened Grow’s eyes and ears.
At age 10 he began writing songs. By the time his parents divorced, Grow understood that music can be something more than a hobby or distraction. “I saw a lot of things that kids of 12 or 13 shouldn’t have to see,” he recalls. “I felt that I had something to say about those moments. That’s why I started writing about them. Eventually music became my escape, a way to get away from whatever was bad.”
Grow and his father moved back to Maryland, where their close bond grew even tighter. This takes us to that first milestone in Sam’s life. When he begged Dad to buy him a guitar, J.R. agreed to with one stipulation: Sam had to promise to use it to develop his own music — specifically, he would not use it to just imitate Green Day and other bands who were on the radio at that time.
Sam accepted those terms. It wasn’t until many years later that he found out his father spent $500 on the instrument by maxing out his credit card. Sam learned about more than music from this. “That’s why I say Dad was my biggest influence,” he explains. “And not just in music. He tried to excel at everything he did. Watching him striving always to be the best he could be definitely inspired me to try turning nothing into something.”
And he still owns that guitar.
When he was 15 Sam went with his father to Nashville. J.R. was there on business but he found time to sneak his son into Robert’s Western Wear, the classic Music City honky-tonk. Just one year later Sam was playing shows and leading his own band. Eventually he enrolled at the College of Southern Maryland as a music major, but left after a while and got back to making music. He knew then and knows today that he really had no other choice, and this was entirely because of that second milestone.
When he held his infant daughter for the first time, he says, “I realized that I was her first example of what a man is. I didn’t want to be the kind of man who said, ‘I had a dream to play music but then I had you and set it aside.’ That’s the worst thing you can tell a child. Looking at her, I wanted her to grow up knowing that I did chase my dreams. I wanted her to believe, like me, that the world is limitless.”
So Grow devoted full time to playing, performing and writing. He cut an indie album, Ignition, in 2009 and began touring beyond the Maryland territory, with shows booked in Los Angeles, San Diego, Vancouver and other far-flung destinations. When he landed a gig at Nashville Underground, he impulsively blind-texted producer Matt McClure, though they’d never met, inviting him to come down and catch a set or two. Impressed, McClure started introducing Grow to major publishers. Deals were offered immediately. Grow moved to Nashville in 2013 and started releasing his own music, beginning with a self-titled EP in 2014 and followed by The Blame in 2017 and A Little Like Me in 2018.
One last milestone remained. When Grow was booked to open for Colt Ford, the iconic country rapper invited him onto his bus to write a song with him and mutual friend Taylor Phillips. “We wrote one song,” Grow notes. “Then we wrote another song. Then Colt says, ‘I want more people to hear your music. Will you please come and sign with Average Joes?’”
That leads directly to Love And Whiskey, with Grow’s band providing the music as promised and Jacob Rice producing. Ironically, the first two singles were the only cuts he didn’t co-write. Yet “Boots” and “History” both seem to have been tailored to his story. “Boots,” in particular, came to him at exactly the right moment, just a few weeks after his father had passed. Josh Thompson’s lyrics touched something in Grow, whose memories of J.R. include the favorite pair of boots he wore throughout his life.
“Every time I play ‘Boots’ and I get to the hook, the people who have been following react and personally because they know how it connects to my feelings about my dad,” Grow insists. “But it also hits home when I sing it for a new audience, like I did recently on the Tyler Farr tour, because it speaks to his audience and mine: hard-working, blue-collar people who wake up every morning, strap their boots on and get to work.”
Like many artists, Ryan Jewel was drawn to music at a young age. When he got his first guitar, there was no turning back. By high school, Ryan started playing with the idea of becoming a professional musician. By his sophomore year at Clemson University, Ryan and his fellow bandmate, Andrew Beam, were burning up every bar, club, sorority, and fraternity party they were able to. They went by the name Beam & Jewel and played 3 nights a week for the remainder of Ryan's college career.
A native of Front Royal, Virginia, the country music singer/songwriter released his first EP "Up on the Drive" in 2016. This EP helped him gain traction with his music career around his hometown, the Shenandoah Valley, and further. Along with his EP, Ryan was a runner-up in the 2015 Texaco Country Showdown, a nationwide talent search, which solidified Ryan's calling for a music career. Ryan has had the privilege of being the opening act for some major country artist's such as Marty Stuart and Lauren Alaina. He has also shared the stage with fellow Nashville artists, and Clemson buddies, Cody Webb and Doug McCormick.
Ryan's rich, baritone vocals, paired with his authentic songwriting, which reflect his own life experiences, have help build him a strong fan base who enjoy Ryan's "what you see is what you get" style of shows and attitude.
When Ryan moved to Nashville in 2017, he hit the ground running; signing a management deal with Harmony Music Group Mgt just two weeks after moving to town. "If we didn't sign him, someone would've jumped all over him as soon as he opened his mouth around town and started singing" - (Fred Conley) He started singing demo's for many established writers around town and soon after, began writing with many of those same writer's.
Ryan recently released his second studio EP "Heads, i'm yours..." to all digital platforms and is currently selling hard copies along with new merchandise at all of his shows.
The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival®, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting the beauty of springtime and the apple blossoms in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley through events and initiatives that enhance community spirit and showcases our local agricultural heritage.