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Shoulda Been a Hit: Bradley Gaskin’s “Mr. Bartender” [Video]

It’s about that time again.  When Dave Spencer, Jaclyn and I look back over the last 12 months and choose our favorite songs of the year.  In 2011, #9 on my list was Bradley Gaskin’s country throwback, “Mr. Bartender.”  It seems to me that country music fans long (and, at the time, were longing) for that brand of “old-school” country.  We hear it all the time here on WBKR.  Our listeners tell us that country “just ain’t country” anymore.  But THIS song was pure country and I thought for sure it was going to be a hit.  Instead, it was a biscuit without a lick of gravy.

I happened to be the audience the night Bradley Gaskin made his debut at The Grand Ole Opry.  The show was sold out that evening and I would venture to bet that 95% of the people who were there that night don’t even remember him.  See, Bradley was making his debut the same night two American Idol alumni were.  Yep!  That’s the night Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina were taking the Opry stage for the first time.  Bradley just got lost in the shuffle and all that screaming mayhem.

But he blew me away.  He stepped to the mic and just laid out “Mr. Bartender.”  His voice had shades of Travis Tritt and he could really sing and he could really play the guitar.  Lauren Alaina that night was a nervous wreck.  She sounded amazing, but the stage ate her alive.  Scotty had tons of stage presence, but didn’t back it up vocally.  Bradley Gaskin schooled them in both columns.  He was sensational and his song was radio-ready.

Or was it?  Unfortunately, in Nashville, it’s not always all about the music.  Artists as good as Bradley can get lost in the label crowd as well.  And that’s what happened.  Bradley was a casualty of label shuffling and there was no promotional team truly behind him.  And, unfortunately, this song, as cleverly-written and powerfully-sung as it was, just went down with the ship.  “Mr. Bartender” peaked at #32 on the Billboard Country Chart.

It was a real disappointment for Bradley.  A huge disappointment for his mentor, John Rich, who discovered him in a talent contest.  A huge disappoinment for Dave, Jaclyn and I.  We all thought this song has some real country cred and were thrilled everytime we got to play it.  Unfortunately, we just didn’t get to play it for very long.

Last call for ‘Mr. Bartender” came well before midnight and the song went bottoms up.  But, if you ask me (or anyone of us), it SHOULD have been a hit.

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