Show Reviews



Josiah Siska, MaRynn Taylor, & Pryor Baird

Friday March 31, 2023 (9PM Show)

@ Commodore Grille in Nashville, TN

(Review by: Jeffrey Kurtis)

With the winds beginning to gust heavier as evident by the outside patio curtains and light bulbs dancing in harmony with the breeze, the Commodore Grille continued to still be the place to be on Friday night as the Black River Entertainment sponsored round showed that country music’s future is in very good hands with three of their hottest emerging talents, Josiah Siska, MaRynn Taylor, and Pryor Baird. 

First a foremost, the entire staff at Today’s Country Magazine extends our well wishes to Black River’s VP of A&R Doug Johnson, who earlier this week experienced a cardiac arrest situation and is currently on the mend in the hospital. Get Well Soon Doug!

Though Johnson was scheduled to be the fourth songwriter in this round, the spotlight shining moment of the night would arrive when the young upstarts on stage closed the night with stunning covers of Doug’s biggest songwriting hits while the man himself was FaceTimed in from the hospital to be part of it.

Immediately introducing his deep drawl through the catchy, boot heel clicking, honky-tonk anthem, “We Ain’t Alright,” Josiah Siska had everyone in the crowd raising a cheer for the blue-collar, small-town folk as he drove us through a list of the different attributes that make up who they are as hard-working church goers who might not be alright, but they dang sure ain’t all wrong.

With the slower paced, traditional styled country love song “Cold Heart on Fire,” Siska reverberated the entire room with his vocal depth and drew each couple in the crowd closer to one another, while he then turned up the rowdy with a honky-tonk branded clap along that left everyone hooting and hollering during “She’s From Indiana,” a song he told was inspired by his ex-girlfriend who he found sleeping with his roommate.

“I don’t know about y’all, but living in the city can sometimes be too much, so I like to drive out of it sometimes,” MaRynn Taylor told as she struck the heart of the country folks in the crowd when she softened the pace with “Shoulder To Cry On,” injecting her impressive pop country vocal into the retrospective song that took us on a head-clearing drive with her as Patsy Cline played on the radio.

“I was scrolling through TikTok one day and I saw Kendall Jenner talking about therapy and loving yourself. She said that her therapist told her to put a baby picture on the mirror and to always remember that when you’re downing yourself now, you’re also talking to her,” Taylor explained of the inspiration behind “Girl Born in ‘01” as she quieted the room to a hush, tugging on hearts through the emotional look back at who she used to be, lamenting that she lost that little girls smile and spark, while trying to embody the carefreeness of who she used to be in the here and now.

Visibly showing her excitement through the smile that stayed on her face while she performed her brand-new single “Make You Mine,” MaRynn pumped the pure power of her voice into the songs chorus to punch the emphasis of each line as she dared the guy who’s trying to win her over, to keep doing all the right little things that’ll make her want him.

With a singer/songwriter grooved style on “Chasing Shadows,” Pryor Baird (Team Blake on Season 14 of The Voice) allowed the uniqueness of his voice to captivate the audience as he held the verses around its gravel edge while hitting a pure power stride into the chorus to impressively offer a full view spectrum of his vocal prowess and abilities.

Showcasing his well-rounded approach to songwriting, though, Baird then led a swampy clap along through the boot stomping rhythm and guitar picking expertise of “Good Time Don’t Care” as he lyrically embraced doing all the riskier things that he normally wouldn’t do in the embodiment of having a good time, while slowing the pace as he drove through the advice fueled song “Who’s Missing You,” taking on the mid-2000’s aura of older, wiser man offering advice to younger guy who finds himself in a tough spot.

While each of the three songwriter/artists on stage brought something uniquely different that made them stand out as individuals, as said earlier, the common thread that weaves them all together is Doug Johnson.

“Doug has been my mentor for just about six years now,” gratefully said Josiah. “He would come out to open mics with me back when those were the only shows I could get. This is my favorite Doug Johnson song. He always says that we need to make the world a better place one song at a time and this song did that,” he told as he delivered a stunning version of “Three Wooden Crosses,”  choking back tears when he struck lines about the “teacher,” obviously reflecting on the tragedy that happened in Nashville only days prior, but also embracing the true spirit of Tin Pan South in that this moment provided visible representation of the impact a song can make.

“I think I can say on behalf of all of us that we would not be sitting up here right now, or writing the songs we write without Doug Johnson,” Taylor said as she wiped tears from her eyes to the applause of the entire crowd before delivering “Love Like Crazy,” providing an amazing sing along moment with the crowd that sent chills up and down your spine as the entire room became one big family in a moment that encouragingly lifted our spirits through the power of a song.

“Like MaRynn said, without Doug we wouldn’t be doing this,” praised Baird. “You need a champion in this town; in this business…and he is the champion for so many of us,” explained Baird as he closed the night with “She Won’t Be Lonely Long.”




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