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  NEWS AND EVENTS
DATELOCATIONNEWS OR EVENTMEDIA
11-07-14
Pigeon Forge, TN CONCERT ANNOUNCED! - Con will be performing at the Country Tonight Theatre in Pigeon Forge, TN on Friday, November 7th at 8:00 pm, along with Jimmy Fortune, formerly with the Statler Brothers. Tickets are only $35 and will go fast, so call 800-792-4308 today to reserve your seat for this event! > Pictures
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03-07-14
Knoxville, TN NEW PHOTOS! Game On Against Cancer - Con was a celebrity blackjack player this year at the annual Game On Against Cancer event benefitting the Thompson Cancer Survival Center. A fun time was had by all and the proceeds benefit a great cause! > Pictures
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09-8-13
Knoxville, TN 9-11 Memorial Ceremony - Con was honored to once again perform the National Anthem at the 9-11 Remembrance Ride ceremony at the World's Fair Park. > Pictures
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06-07-13
Nashville, TN CMA Music Festival - Click here for the start of the day at WSM-AM Radio, click here for the Durango Stage performance and click here for the fan meet and greet! Con was at the CMA Music Festival on Friday, June 7th. He started the day with a visit with his friend Bill Cody at WSM-AM, then performed on the WSM/Durango Stage at the convention center and signed autographs at the WSM booth afterwards. > Pictures
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04-13-13
Knoxville, TNSouthFest Concert! - Click here to see photos of Con's performance at SouthFest! Con and the band will be performing at the Disc Exchange stage at SouthFest, a festival celebrating all things South Knoxville! Con takes the stage at 3:00 pm, but there will be great music and activities all day, so come check it out! > Pictures
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04-08-13
Knoxville, TNLISTEN LIVE! Con's on Merle! - Con is guest hosting for his buddy Phil Jarnagin while Phil's in Vegas for the ACM Awards on Knoxville's own 96.7 Merle-FM on Monday and Tuesday, April 8th and 9th from 10:00 am to 3 pm. You can listen live at Merle's web site or on your radio at 96.7 FM. > Pictures
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03-01-13
Knoxville, TNGame on Against Cancer! - Click here for photos! Here's a very special opportunity to visit with Con in person as well as benefit a great cause! Con will be a celebrity player for the 2nd Annual Game On Against Cancer, benefiting programs at the Thompson Cancer Survival Center, on Friday, March 1st, 2013 from 6 pm to 10 pm at Games & Things, 10706 Kingston Pike in Knoxville. Last year the event raised over $30,000! Tickets are $50 and may be purchased by calling (865) 541-1227 or emailing mbrown@covhlth.com. Read more in the Knoxville Focus! You can also click here for more information! > Pictures
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02-01-13
Knoxville, TN Waynestock Concert! - Click here to see photos of Con's performance at Waynestock! - Con will be doing a special performance at Waynestock 3 with Mic Harrison and the High Score at the Relix Theatre on Central Avenue in Knoxville on Friday, February 1st at 9:00 pm to benefit the Community School for the Arts. Click here for more details and hope to see you there! > Pictures
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01-30-13
Knoxville, TN Metropulse Cover Story - Con makes the cover of the Metro Pulse with a great story by Betty Bean on what he's been up to all these years as well as some tall tales about him! Check the cover story by clicking here and the tall tales can be found here! > Pictures
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01-25-13
Knoxville, TN Knoxville News-Sentinel Story - For Con Hunley, the music is still No. 1! Great story in the News-Sentinel by Jer Cole catching up with Con and announcing his appearance at Waynestock 3. Check it out here! > Pictures
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12-28-12
Knoxville, TN Wayfarin' Stranger Picked in Top 10 of 2012 - The Knoxville News-Sentinel's music critic, Wayne Bledsoe, lists his top 10 music releases from 2012 and Con's new gospel CD Wayfarin' Stranger is number 5 on the list! Click here to check it out! > Pictures
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09-15-12
Knoxville, TNTennessee Valley Fair Tennessee Valley Fair 2012 - Click here to see photos from this event! Con and the band will be performing this year at the Tennessee Valley Fair on Saturday, September 15th at 8:00 pm. Get your reserved seats online to see Con perform under the stars at the Homer Hamilton outdoor theatre! > Pictures
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09-09-12
Knoxville, TN 2012 9/11 Remembrance Ride - Click here to see photos and a video from this event! Con was honored to sing our National Anthemn at the 2012 9/11 Remembrance Ride Ceremony in Knoxville. > Pictures
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06-21-12
Nashville, TN Billboard Review A great new review in Billboard Magazine of Con's new CD, Wayfarin' Stranger! Check it out here! > Pictures
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06-08-12
Nashville, TN CMA MUSIC FESTIVAL! Click here for photos! Con will be performing on the Durango Stage on Friday, June 8th, 2012 at 3:30 pm Nashville time at the convention center. Afterwards, he'll be signing autographs at the WSM-AM booth - come see us! > Pictures
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05-24-12
Nashville, TNOPRY COUNTRY CLASSICS! Click here for photos! Con will be a special guest on the Opry Country Classics show at the Ryman on Thursday, May 24th with his good friend Larry Gatlin. Visit the Opry's website to purchase your tickets! > Pictures
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05-17-12
Knoxville, TN Jack's Back - Merle FM Party - Merle FM is throwing a party for their newest radio star, Jack Ryan, at the Cotton Eyed Joe on Thursday, May 17th at 7:00 pm and Con will be performing. It's all free, so y'all come! Click here for photos! > Pictures
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05-21-12
Nashville, TN Review from Music News Nashville Con Hunley: Wayfarin' Stranger - Great new review from music critic Chuck Dauphin of Music News Nashville. Check it out here! > Pictures
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05-15-12
Nashville, TN NEW CD! Wayfarin' Stranger - Con's new gospel CD is being released on May 15th. Titled "Wayfarin' Stranger", this CD is Con's first-ever gospel CD and is sure to become one of your favorites! > Pictures
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05-14-12
Knoxville, TN Knoxville Focus Review Ralphine Major: Southern Gospel Music at it's Best - Wayfarin' Stranger review from Ralphine Major for the Knoxville Focus. Check it out here! > Pictures
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05-13-12
Knoxville, TN Wayfarin' Stranger Review Wayne Bledsoe: Con Hunley's spirit shines on 'Wayfarin' Stranger' - Knoxville News-Sentinel music critic Wayne Bledsoe reviews Con's new gospel CD. Check it out here! > Pictures
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04-20-12
Nashville, TN RFD-TV Appearance Con will be appearing on Country's Family Reunion Old Time Gospel on RFD-TV on the following dates: Friday, April 20th at 7:00 p.m. CDT / 8:00 p.m. EDT; Saturday, April 21st at 6:00 a.m. CDT / 7:00 a.m. EDT; and Saturday, April 21st at 11:00 p.m. CDT / midnight EDT. Don't forget to set your DVR to record! > Pictures
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03-19-12
Nashville, TN NEW SINGLE! "Jonas" Released to Radio - The first single from Con's long-awaited gospel CD is being released to radio on March 19th! "Jonas" tells the story of the man who nailed Jesus to the cross. This poignant original song by Dean Dillon and Tom Douglas is guaranteed to touch your heart! Click here to listen! > Pictures
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03-09-12
Knoxville, TN Game on Against Cancer! - Click here for photos! Here's a very special opportunity to visit with Con in person as well as benefit a great cause! Con will be a celebrity player for Game On Against Cancer, benefiting programs at the Thompson Cancer Survival Center, on Friday, March 9th, 2012 from 6 pm to 10 pm at Games & Things, 10706 Kingston Pike in Knoxville. He will be playing Blackjack, so come on out and see if you can beat him! Click here for more information! > Pictures
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01-15-12
Knoxville, TNExtreme Makeover Home Edition! - Click here for photos! Con was honored to lend his talents to benefit the Extreme Makeover Home Edition Special taped in Knoxville. The deserving Knoxville family chosen for this extraordinary gift was Daniel and Mandy Watson, founders of The Restoration House. > Pictures
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09-17-11
Knoxville, TN Tennessee Valley Fair Tennessee Valley Fair 2011 - Click here for photos! Con and the band will be performing once again this year at the Tennessee Valley Fair on Saturday, September 17th at 8:00 pm. Get your reserved seats online to see Con perform under the stars at the Homer Hamilton outdoor theatre! > Pictures
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09-14-11
Knoxville, TN Daily Times Newspaper Article - Con sat down for an interview with the Daily Times Entertainment Editor recently. Click here to read the story! > Pictures
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09-11-11
Knoxville, TN 9/11 Remembrance Ride Ceremony - Click here for photos! Con was honored to be asked to sing the national anthem at this ceremony. Stay tuned for photos and a video clip from the event! > Pictures
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06-11-11
Nashville, TN Click here to watch a video clip of the Durango Stage Performance - Con performed on the WSM/Durango Stage to a standing room only crowd at the Nashville Convention Center during the CMA Music Festival on Saturday, June 11, 2011. > Pictures
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06-09-11
Nashville, TN CMA Music Festival 2011 - Con and the IMMI team headed for Nashville for the 2011 CMA Music Festival, otherwise known as Fan Fair. We were at the convention center all four days meeting fans and signing autographs in Booth #605. Click here to see all the fun on Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4! > Pictures
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05-13-11
Knoxville, TN Relay for Life Concert Photos - IMMI Records was proud to once again sponsor Con and the band at a concert to benefit the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. The show was held near the track of the new Mercy Health and Fitness Center in Powell to encourage those who were walking to defeat CANCER! > Pictures
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05-11-11
Nashville, TNNew State Song - Tennessee - Con's new song, Tennessee, written by Knoxville's John R. Bean, was voted Tennessee's newest state song by the legislature today. IMMI Records is giving away a free download for a limited time - click here to get yours! > Pictures
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05-07-11
Knoxville, TNAll Over the Road - Con was recently a guest on WDVX on Wayne Bledsoe's late, late night "All Over the Road" radio show. Click here for photos and a video clip! > Pictures
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04-21-11
Nashville, TNCheck out photos from the Opry Country Classics Show at the Ryman - Con recently performed on the Opry Country Classics show at the historic Ryman Auditorium on April 21st in Nashville with Larry Gatlin and other friends. > Pictures
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04-17-11
Knoxville, TNA Singer Lost and Found - Check out this great story in the Knoxville News-Sentinel by music critic Wayne Bledsoe by clicking here. > Pictures
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02-01-11
Nashville, TN Lost and Found: The MCA/Capitol Years - IMMI Records is proud to announce the latest Con Hunley release! Co-produced by Hunley and Grammy Award-winning producer Norro Wilson, Lost and Found: The MCA/Capitol Years is a compilation of songs that Hunley originally recorded in the '80s on MCA and Capitol Records, some of which were released as singles but didn't made it onto an album. In 2010, Hunley went back into the studio with his longtime producer Wilson and re-recorded these tunes, which have never before been available for purchase by his fans. > Pictures
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09-18-10
Knoxville, TN Tennessee Valley Fair - Click here to see the photos from the Tennessee Valley Fair! Yes, the rumor you heard is true - Con is going to be performing at the 2010 Tennessee Valley Fair on Saturday night, September 18th at 8:00 pm! You can purchase reserved seat tickets for only $5.00 each here. Get 'em while they're hot! It's going to be a great opportunity to enjoy a Con Hunley concert under the stars! > Pictures
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06-10-10
Nashville, TN CMA Music Festival 2010 - Click to see photos from Day One, Day Two, Day Three, and Day Four at the Convention Center. It's time once again for the CMA Music Festival in Nashville, Tennessee. Con and the IMMI team will be greeting fans in the convention center in Booth #720 on June 10th through the 13th. See you there! > Pictures
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06-09-10
Nashville, TN Music City Roots, Live from the Loveless Cafe - Click here for photos! Con is delighted to be part of the Music City Roots, Live from the Loveless Cafe radio show, broadcast on WSM-AM on Wednesday, June 9th, 2010 at 7:00 pm Central time to kick off Fan Fair. Limited advance tickets are available by clicking here! > Pictures
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05-14-10
Nashville, TN Con and Cody - Con's friend Bill Cody broadcasts live from the Country Music Hall of Fame with Con for a one hour radio special. Tune in online at WSM-AM at 8:00 am Central time on May 14th, 2010 to listen live to some of Con's new music! > Pictures
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04-23-10
Knoxville, TNDogwood Arts Festival Concert - Con and the band will perform a free concert on Market Square Mall on Friday, April 23rd, 2010 starting at 5:00 pm, immediately BEFORE the Dogwood Arts Festival Parade. > Pictures
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04-15-10
Nashville, TNVictims of the System - Con's new single, Victims of the System, releases to radio. Call or e-mail your favorite station today to request Victims of the System! > Pictures
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06-11-09
Nashville, TN CMA Music Festival - Click here for new photos from Fan Fair Day One, click here for Day Two and click here for Day 3.It's Nashville time for the IMMI team and the 2009 CMA Music Festival, Booth #340 at the Convention Center! > Pictures
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05-01-09
Knoxville, TN Click here for photos of the Relay for Life concert! Con and the band will perform a free concert on Friday, May 1st at Fountain City Park to benefit the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. Con's very talented nephew, Stephen Hunley, will kick off the show at 7:30 pm and Con will take the stage at 8:30 pm. For more information visit the Relay for Life website. > Pictures
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11-01-08
Nashville, TN Click here for photos of the Poets and Prophets concert! Con was honored to perform at the County Music Hall of Fame's Poets and Prophets Series honoring legendary songwriter Dean Dillon. > Pictures
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09-13-08
Knoxville, TNTennessee Valley Fair Click here for photos of the Tennessee Valley Fair concert! Con will be performing at the Tennessee Valley Fair on Saturday, September 13, 2008 at 8:00 pm. Advance reserved seat tickets are only $5 each - click here to purchase online. Bring the family and enjoy a night of Con Hunley under the stars in the Homer Hamilton Theatre! > Pictures
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06-29-08
Knoxville, TNAnything is Possible Video - Part 2 - Part 2 of the Con Hunley Story on "Anything Is Possible" with host Hallerin Hill on WBIR-TV Knoxville. > Pictures
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06-22-08
Knoxville, TNAnything is Possible Video - Part 1 - Con was recently invited to be a guest on the popular (East Tennessee) television show, "Anything Is Possible" with host Hallerin Hill. The thirty minute show spotlights those who pursue their dreams despite hurdles and obstacles that may be thrown in their way, and who go on to inspire others to reach their goals and see their own dreams fulfilled. Hill was so taken with Con and his story that two shows were devoted to the artist. > Pictures
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06-08-08
Nashville, TNGAC TVGAC-TV Interview - Con visits with his good friend GAC-TV and WSM radio host Bill Cody after his performance on the Riverfront stage - the coolness is that Con's daughter, Brittany, joins him for an interview. Awesome stuff - you can see that Brit comes by her good looks and poise naturally! Click here to watch! > Pictures
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06-05-08
Nashville, TN CMA Music Festival Media Appearances - Con catches up with a couple of good friends - Bill Cody and Eddie Stubbs of WSM-AM Radio. He does a live interview at Ernest Tubb Record Shop with Eddie Stubbs (and runs into the beautiful Connie Smith while he's there) and then spends some time with popular radio personality Bill Cody at WSM's studios in the Opryland Hotel. > Pictures
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06-07-08
Nashville, TN Fan Fair Performances - Click here for photos of the Country Music Hall of Fame Performance! Con will perform a special fan appreciation concert on 6/7 in the Ford Theatre at the Country Music Hall of Fame (sorry folks, no more tickets are available). You still can WIN a pair of tickets though - Con and his good friend Bill Cody, of 650 AM WSM radio, are giving away a pair of tickets, BACKSTAGE PASSES, and dinner for two at Demo's Restaurant. Listen to win on 6/6 at 8:00 am. If you miss out on the Ford Theatre performance, you can still see Con perform on the Riverfront Stage on 6/8 at 10:30 am. Click here for Riverfront photos! > Pictures
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06-05-08
Nashville, TN CMA Music Festival - It's that time of year again - Con and the IMMI team pack up and head for Music City for the 2008 CMA Music Festival. Con will be in Booth #635 at the Convention Center - his favorite part of Fan Fair! Click here for Convention Center Day 1 photos. Click here for Convention Center Day 2 photos. Click here for Convention Center Day 3 photos. Click here for Convention Center Day 4 photos. > Pictures
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11-15-07
Knoxville, TN Les Acree Benefit - Con will be performing live at the Cotton Eyed Joe in Knoxville on November 15th, along with a host of other great entertainers including Joe Stampley and Mark Chesnutt. The show is sponsored by WIVK-FM, and is a benefit fundraiser for Con's friend and former WIVK Program Director Les Acree, who suffered a stroke earlier this year. Y'all come! CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS! > Pictures
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10-28-07
Nashville, TNRalph Emery Induction into Hall of Fame - Con was very honored to be chosen to perform at the Country Music Hall of Fame during the CMA Awards for the induction ceremony for Ralph Emery. Con sang "Since I Fell For You," which he had performed on Nashville Now with one of his idols, the late Charlie Rich. It was one of Ralph's all-time favorite performances. > Pictures
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10-22-07
Knoxville, TN Zane Daniel Scholarship Fundraiser - Con joined some very special guests at a fundraiser event to benefit the Zane Daniel Scholarship Fund at the University of Tennessee. Besides Con and the band, performers included David West and the Cider Mountain Boys, Knoxville favorites, the Chillbillies, rocker Jason D. Williams, and surprise guest performer Kenny Chesney! CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS! > Pictures
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09-22-07
Knoxville, TNCLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS! Central High Wall of Fame - Con was very honored to be inducted in the Wall of Fame at his hometown high school, Central High in Knoxville. It was a very nostalgic event, with several honorees including Ava Barber of Lawrence Welk fame. > Pictures
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09-15-07
Knoxville, TN Con at the Fair! - You've heard the rumor - yes, it's true! Con will be performing at the Tennessee Valley Fair in the Homer Hamilton Theatre on Saturday, September 15, 2007 at 8:00 pm. Reserved seating is available in advance for only $5.00! Click here for more information and to buy tickets online! CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS! > Pictures
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07-07-07
LaFollette, TNClick here for photos! REACH Out for Kids Concert - Con will be the headliner for a benefit concert for the REACHS Children's Center at Campbell County High School Stadium in LaFollette, TN on Saturday, July 7th. There will be fireworks, food, classic cars and more! The music starts at 5:00 with the gospel group Least of These, then party band Uncle Funky and the Z. Rowe Cash Band, southern roots rockers Crossin Dixon, and Con goes on around 8:00 pm. Tickets are $15 each and can be purchased at Halls Salvage in Alcoa, LaFollette, and Sweetwater or by calling 423-562-4190. One child under 12 admitted free with each paying adult. Click here for more information. > Pictures
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06-11-07
Nashville, TNNEW SINGLE RELEASE! Con's newest single is the haunting father/son ballad, "The Keys." The song was written by three of the best songwriters in Nashville - Con's good friends Dean Dillon, Dale Dodson and Hank Cochran. Noted music critic Robert K. Oermann says "Those writer credits should give you some idea of how finely crafted this ballad is. And it goes without saying that the artist credit means its delivery is steeped in soul!" The new single should be coming soon to a radio near you. Send your favorite station an e-mail or give them a call and request "The Keys" today! Click here to listen to a short audio clip of "The Keys." > Pictures
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06-07-07
Nashville, TNGaylord Entertainment Center Plaza - Make plans now to see Con perform live at the Gaylor Entertainment Center Plaza stage during Fan Fair on Thursday, June 7th at 12:30 pm CST! > Pictures
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06-07-07
Nashville, TNClick here for photos! 2007 CMA Music Festival - Country Music's Biggest Party - Con and the IMMI team will be at Fan Fair again this year - get your tickets now at cmafest.com. Don't forget to stop by Con's booth and say hi - we'll be looking for ya! Click here and here to see some of the fun from last year. > Pictures
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05-25-07
Pigeon Forge, TNClick here for photos! COUNTRY TONITE CONCERT! - Once again this year, Con will be performing Memorial Day Weekend in the Smokies, this time at the Country Tonite Theatre in Pigeon Forge on Friday, May 25, brought to you by First Class Productions, LLC. Get your tickets before they're gone - call 1-800-792-4308 to order. > Pictures
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04-09-07
Pigeon Forge, TNSWEEPSTAKES GIVEAWAY - It's Con's birthday today and to celebrate, IMMI Records announces a Getaway To The Smokies With Con Sweepstakes just in time for Memorial Day Weekend! The prize includes two tickets from First Class Productions, LLC to see Con in concert at the Country Tonite Theater on May 25th, a two-night stay in a luxury cabin from MountainTop Resorts, and $100 in cash from IMMI Records for gas money to get there. Enter today for your chance to win! > Pictures
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02-20-07
Dalton, GANORTH GEORGIA MEDIA TOUR - Next stop on the "Shoot From The Heart Promo Tour" is the northern half of Georgia, the peach state! Con will be visiting stations in Dalton, Calhoun and Marion, to name a few. Check back soon for photos, and listen up to your favorite country station if you live in the area. > Pictures
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02-19-07
Knoxville, TNLISTEN LIVE! - WIVK Kicks Off New Single! - Con will be live with COLLEEN ADDAIR at 11:30 AM EST on Monday, February 19th on WIVK-FM, the ACM and CMA Radio Station of the Year, as he debuts his new single, "Hollow Man," and you can listen LIVE over the internet at wivk.com! > Pictures
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02-19-07
Nashville, TNNEW SINGLE RELEASE! "Hollow Man" - Con releases a new single from Shoot From The Heart on February 19. "Hollow Man" is a very moving song about living, loving and setting priorities. Con says, "When I first heard this song, it touched me in the deepest part of my soul—especially the line, 'the most important thing in life ain't a thing at all.’" Listen to a sample of "Hollow Man" and see if you agree! > Pictures
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12-04-06
Lexington, KYKENTUCKY MEDIA TOUR - The Kentucky media tour resumes with Con visiting even more Kentucky towns and stations. From WCYO in Richmond to WKYT-TV in Lexington, WHBN in Danville to WBVR in Bowling Green, Con blitzed all over the state! Check back soon for photos > Pictures
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10-24-06
Knoxville, TNClick here for photos! Duncan Family Annual BBQ ~ Civic Coliseum - Join Con as he performs for his good friend Congressman Jimmy Duncan at the annual Duncan Family BBQ at Knoxville's Civic Coliseum. It's fun and it's free, so y'all come! > Pictures
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10-14-06
Maynardville, TNClick here for photos! Union County Heritage Festival 2006 ~ 150 Year Celebration - The Roy Acuff Union Museum and Library and the Union County Chamber of Commerce are pleased to feature Con Hunley in Concert on October 14, 2006 at 7:00 pm at the Union County High School Auditorium. An annual event, the Union County Heritage Festival celebrates the people and naturally beautiful area and also promotes arts and crafts from the area as the entire region becomes bathed in Autumn colors. There will be plenty of food and craft vendors and fun for the whole family. Listen to a personal invitation from Con and get your concert tickets here! > Pictures
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10-09-06
Nashville, TN Music Row Review - Music Row critic Robert K. Oermann reviews Con's new single, "I Can See You With My Eyes Closed" and says, "He could sing the phone book and I’d listen. Here, he wraps his soulful tenor around a yearning ballad that’s drenched with steel and piano. I never wanted it to end." > Pictures
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10-09-06
Nashville, TN"I Can See You With My Eyes Closed" - Con releases a new single from Shoot From The Heart on October 9th. It's a great song written by Larry Bastian especially for Con called "I Can See You With My Eyes Closed" and it's a killer! > Pictures
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09-25-06
Huntsville, ALNORTHERN ALABAMA MEDIA TOUR - Con and the IMMI team made a quick run through Alabama, hitting WXLF in Florence, WZOB in Fort Payne, WTDR in Anniston, and many other great stations! Con wound up the Alabama blitz with an appearance at the Bessimer Wal-Mart just outside of Birmingham. Pics coming soon! > Pictures
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08-17-06
Barbourville, KYKENTUCKY MEDIA TOUR - The TN-KY media blitz continues, with Con's visits to radio and TV stations in upper East Tennessee and southeastern Kentucky on the "Shoot From The Heart Promo Tour". On the way north, the team stopped by WQLA-FM in LaFollette, TN and visited with their afternoon DJ, Chuck Jenkins. > Pictures
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08-09-06
Nashville, TN Music City News - Chuck Dauphin of Music City News does a great story this week on Con in Music City News. Click here to read the story. > Pictures
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07-26-06
Corbin, KYKENTUCKY MEDIA TOUR - Con spent a few days in Kentucky visiting radio and TV stations on the "Shoot From The Heart" tour. First stop was with Jennifer Duff at WNTT-AM in Tazewell, TN, then on to see Travis Moody of WLMU-TV in Harrogate. With stops in Middlesboro, Pineville, Williamsburg, Somerset, Corbin, Harlan and Hazard, Con zig-zagged all over Kentucky! > Pictures
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06-10-06
Nashville, TN Billboard Magazine Review - Billboard Magazine's Deborah Evans Price reviewed "That Old Clock" and the editors selected it as a "Country Pick" of the week. She says, "Con Hunley’s smooth, soulful voice was a staple on country radio in the 1980s. Last year, following a lengthy, self-imposed hiatus, he made a welcome return to recording. This frisky uptempo number, culled from his recent ’Shoot From the Heart’ album, is all about setting priorities and enjoying life while that old clock ticks. There’s some tasty lead guitar work, and Hunley’s performance is spirited and teeming with energy. It’s hard for veterans to get airplay these days, but this is one artist deserving of a new day in the sun." > Pictures
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06-09-06
Nashville, TN Music Row Review - Noted Music Critic Robert K. Oermann reviews Con's new single from "Shoot From The Heart," a rollicking number that Con co-wrote called "That Old Clock." Oermann says, "The searing ballad ’I Can’t Make it Alone’ was the first track from Con’s Shoot From the Heart CD to raise goosebumps. Now he’s back with a wailing, piano-pounding rocker that’s as potent as anything Jerry Lee ever cut. Play the man." Click here to read the story. > Pictures
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06-08-06
Nashville, TNCMA Music Festival - Click here for photos from the CMA Music Festival! Once again, Con and the IMMI team spent the week in Nashville for the CMA Music Festival. The IMMI team manned the booth during Fan Fair week, and Con and the band performed on the Riverfront Stage on Sunday. Click here for photos from the Riverfront Stage in Nashville! You can also check out the fun from last year's Fan Fair (2005) or revisit Fan Fair 2004. > Pictures
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06-06-06
Nashville, TNIFCO Show at the Ryman! - Click here for photos! Con performed again this year at the 39th Annual IFCO Show at the historic Ryman Auditorium on June 6th during the CMA Music Fest week in Nashville! This year's show benefitted Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt and it's always a blast - check out scenes from last year's show! The featured performers this year were Con's good friends, the Oak Ridge Boys, who just happened to sing backup vocals on Con's hit version of "Oh Girl" back in the mid-80's. Anyway, the IFCO show was a chance to see some great performers, including Little Big Town, Steve Azar, Andy Griggs, Megan Mullins, Hot Apple Pie, and many others! > Pictures
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06-02-06
Knoxville, TNBijou Theatre Grand Re-Opening Click here for photos! - Join Con and other great performers like Robinella, RB Morris and the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra on June 2nd for a concert to benefit the historic Bijou Theatre. This will be an evening to remember in this intimate jewel of a theatre! Click here for tickets and more information! > Pictures
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06-01-06
Knoxville, TNEXCITING NEWS! The Official Con Hunley Fan Club is being formed - get great Con Hunley gear and chances for special meet and greet opportunities! > Pictures
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05-26-06
Pigeon Forge, TNRhythm In The Hills Rhythm in the Hills Festival - Spend Memorial Day Weekend in the Smokies! Click here for photos! Kick off a great Memorial Day weekend with a Con Hunley concert! Con performed at the Rhythm In The Hills festival in Pigeon Forge, TN on Friday, May 26th. It was an excellent opportunity to see Con perform songs from the new album as well as some old favorites! > Pictures
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05-18-06
Nashville, TNCountry Standard Time Review! - George Hauenstein of Country Standard Time does a great review of "Shoot From The Heart." He says, "Con Hunley left the country charts all too early. . . Though he's been under the radar for a while, he remains a top-notch singer. Few in Nashville these days pack as much soul into a song as Hunley. Paired with producer Norro Wilson, he has tapped some great writers for material, including Kris Kristofferson, Larry Shell and Dean Dillon . . . Con Hunley continues to make good music. This album is proof." Read the whole review at Country Standard Time > Pictures
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05-10-06
Knoxville, TNThe Knoxville News-Sentinel did a feature story for Mother's Day on Con and his Mom - click here to read it! > Pictures
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04-25-06
Chattanooga, TNCHATTANOOGA MEDIA TOUR - PHOTOS - Next stop on the Shoot From The Heart Promo Tour is Chattanooga, TN on April 25th. Con will be on Chattanooga TV and radio, including WUSY-FM, and watch for him in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on Friday. Con will be signing autographs at 7:00 pm at the Wal-Mart Supercenter at 2020 Gunbarrel Road, so be sure to come by and see him and pick up a copy of the new CD! > Pictures
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04-22-06
Knoxville, TNDogwood Arts Festival Dogwood Arts Festival - Click here for photos! IMMI Records and WIVK-FM are pleased to feature Con in a special free performance on April 22nd at 7:00 pm on Market Square Mall after the Dogwood Arts Festival Parade - click here for more details. A longstanding tradition, the Dogwood Arts Festival celebrates the natural beauty of spring and promotes the Arts as the entire region becomes blazed in pink and white dogwoods. Come join Con, WIVK-FM and the IMMI team in downtown Knoxville for music and festivities after the parade! You may want to bring a chair because seating is limited. There will be plenty of food and craft vendors and fun for the whole family. > Pictures
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04-14-06
Charleston, WVCHARLESTON MEDIA TOUR - Next up on the Shoot From The Heart Promo Tour is Charleston, WV on April 14th. Con spends some quality time with Mike and Amanda of 96.1 The Wolf and WCHS-TV. Congratulations to Lisa Stover of Charleston, WV, lucky winner of one of the Smoky Mountain Getaway with Con prize packages! > Pictures
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04-13-06
Tri-Cities, TNTRI-CITIES MEDIA TOUR First stop on the Shoot From The Heart Promo Tour is the Tri-Cities of Tennessee - Johnson City, Bristol and Kingsport on April 13th. Watch for Con on The Loafer, the local entertainment weekly, and the other Tri-Cities newspapers, and radio and TV stations. Con will sign autographs at the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Ft. Henry Drive in Kingsport at 6:00 pm. > Pictures
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03-26-06
Nashville, TNGAC-TVGAC-TV - Masters Series - Watch Con and his good friend Bill Cody as they play music videos, chat and visit on GAC-TV's Master Series Show. It will air Sunday morning, March 26th at l0:00 AM ET, and then it will re-air on Wednesday morning, March 29th at l0:00 AM ET and again that afternoon at 3:00 PM ET. > Pictures
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03-23-06
Pigeon Forge, TNRhythm In The Hills SweepstakesSmoky Mountain Getaway With Con SWEEPSTAKES! - IMMI Records is pleased to announce the "Smoky Mountain Getaway With Con Sweepstakes" where you can win a trip to spend Memorial Day Weekend in the Great Smoky Mountains, including accommodations and tickets to see Con perform at the Rhythm In The Hills music festival. REGISTER HERE TO WIN - only one entry per e-mail address allowed. Con will draw the lucky winner on May 19th, so be sure to tell your friends - the more the merrier! > Pictures
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02-27-06
Nashville, TNCountry WeeklyBe sure to pick up the February 27th issue of Country Weekly which is on news-stands now. Sugarland is on the cover, and Con's BMI party is covered by Larry Holden in his "The Scoop" column. Larry says, "Con Hunley's incredible voice and country styling have always gone straight to my heart . . . Con is singing even better now than when he had hits in the '70's and '80's - and, back then, he could vocally blow your socks off! This is a must CD to own!" > Pictures
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02-15-06
Nashville, TNCountry Radio Seminar 2006 - The IMMI team was recently in Nashville for the Country Radio Seminar, where we got a chance to visit with radio station music directors from around the country. It was also a good opportunity to catch up with some old friends - check out some photos from CRS week here. > Pictures
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02-14-06
Nashville, TNCheck out the latest reviews for "Shoot From The Heart" - people are saying great things about the new album! Read a review from Ron Wynn of the Nashville City Paper saying that Con is in "top form." The Bridgeworks' Bill Littleton calls him "a genre within himself" - check it out! > Pictures
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02-14-06
Danville, KY Read the Story Behind the Song! - Jennifer Brummett of the Kentucky Advocate writes a story about Con's friend Jeanne Lane, who co-wrote a song that Con recorded twice - in 1976 and in 2006! Click here to read the story behind "Look At Me, Loving You Again," and click here to listen to a sample! > Pictures
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02-08-06
Washington, DC** NEWS UPDATE - COUNTRY DAN IS IN THE HOSPITAL SO THIS APPEARANCE WILL BE RESCHEDULED FOR A LATER DATE - PLEASE KEEP HIM IN YOUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS **
Con will be a special guest on Country Dan Dixon's show on XM Satellite Radio, America Channel 10, at their headquarters in Washington, DC. Con and Country Dan will take phone calls and play songs from "Shoot From The Heart," 9 pm to midnight, EST, on Wednesday, February 8th.
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02-01-06
Nashville, TNThe reviews and comments for "Shoot From The Heart" just keep coming in! Click here to read a review from Mary L. Duval of the International Country Music Database and click here to read a review from Pat Jenkins of WXLZ-FM. > Pictures
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01-24-06
Knoxville, TNWIVK and IMMI Records sponsor "Dinner With Con" contest. Read a great story by the Fountain City Focus here and see more party pictures and video here. > Pictures
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01-19-06
Nashville, TNBMI Nashville throws another bash for Con at their headquarters on Music Row to celebrate the release of his new album, "Shoot From The Heart." Click here for IMMI's party pictures and video. Check out the press coverage from CMT.com here and the Music News Nashville here. > Pictures
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01-15-06
Knoxville, TNNews-Sentinel music critic Wayne Bledsoe writes about Con and the new album in his newspaper column. Check it out here > Pictures
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01-10-06
Knoxville, TNLISTEN LIVE! - Con's hometown radio station, the award winning WIVK-FM, hosts the radio debut of "Shoot From The Heart" live from 4-5 pm EST on Tuesday, January 10th. Check it out as Con and his good friend, popular WIVK radio personality Gunner, play songs from the new CD and discuss the making of the album. > Pictures
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01-09-06
Nashville, TNCon's new single "I Can't Make It Alone," the first release from his new album, goes out to country radio. This song is classic Con Hunley - you're really gonna feel it! > Pictures
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01-06-06
Nashville, TNMusic Row's Robert K. Oermann review of Con's new single "I Can't Make It Alone" says it all: "Con’s IMMI Records comeback continues with a solid, Norro-produced new CD called Shoot From the Heart. Its stately ballad single drips with power and passion. This, my friends, is a Soul Man." > Pictures
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11-15-05
Nashville, TNComing Soon! IMMI Records is releasing all of Con's Warner Bros. music on CD for the first time ever! On November 15, 2005, you will be able to purchase remastered copies of all five Warner Bros. albums including No Limit, Don't It Break Your Heart, I Don't Want To Lose You, Ask Any Woman and Oh Girl! Stay tuned for more information! > Pictures
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09-27-05
Nashville, TNCon's earliest music by his first record label, Prairie Dust Records, has been re-released by his current label, IMMI Records. The First Time From Studio B, a collection of Con's earliest recordings, was remastered from the originals for optimum sound quality. Originally released in the late 1970s as a series of vinyl singles, this 11-song treasury showcases all the raw emotional power of Con Hunley. Click here to read the press release. > Pictures
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07-1-05
Nashville, TNMusic Row's Robert K. Oermann has this to say about Con's new single "She Ain't You" . . . "If you saw his set during Fan Fair, you know he can still burn down the house vocally. The third single from Con’s comeback CD finds him strutting through an R&B tune with style. Man, this guy can wail." > Pictures
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06-13-05
Nashville, TNCon's newest single from Sweet Memories is "She Ain't You," a sassy tune featuring the legendary Boots Randolf on sax. Released to country radio on June 13, 2005.
Click here to listen.
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06-12-05
Nashville, TNCMA Music Festival - Riverfront Stages - 2:00 PM CST - Con and his band perform a great set on the CMA's Riverfront Stages. It was a rainy day, but it didn't much dampen the spirits of these die-hard country fans who gathered to watch a day of great country music! Click here to see photos. > Pictures
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06-09-05
Nashville, TNCMA Music Festival Booth #410 at Fan Fair - 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM CST Daily - Con was in the booth for a few hours each day to sign autographs and take photos with fans. Click here for photos. > Pictures
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06-07-05
Nashville, TNLive Performance at the annual International Fan Club Organization's (IFCO) show at the Ryman Auditorium - 7:30 PM CST. Con joined Craig Morgan, Trick Pony and more for a show at the legendary Ryman Auditorium. Click here to see photos and video clip here. > Pictures
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06-06-05
Nashville, TNLive Performance in the Ford Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame - 12:00 PM CST - Broadcast LIVE on XM Satellite Radio America Channel 10 with your host, Shannon McCombs. Immediately followed by an autograph session at the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum Store. Click here for photos. > Pictures
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05-04-05
Nashville, TNThe IMMI team visited the CMA's headquarters on Music Row for a showcase featuring our own Con Hunley! Click here to see pictures and watch video of the festivities. > Pictures
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04-11-05
Nashville, TNCountry Weekly Magazine wishes Con a Happy Birthday this week, with a great new picture and a couple of paragraphs about what Con's got going on these days! The issue features Blake Shelton on the cover and is on newsstands now! > Pictures
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02-09-05
Nashville, TNCon visits his friend Bill Cody on GAC Classic on February 9th for an all new show! The show airs for two weeks at various times on GAC-TV beginning Wednesday at 9:00 AM EST and 8:00 PM EST. Check here for additional showtimes. > Pictures
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02-05-05
Nashville, TNChristine Bohorfoush of AngryCountry.com visits with Con Hunley and prepares a great writeup of the interview. Read all about it here! > Pictures
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02-01-05
Nashville, TNCon makes the cover of Music Row Magazine for their Indie Label Special Issue. You can still see it at http://www.musicrow.com. Click on this month's cover, then choose "View Other Covers" to see the February issue. You can also read more here. > Pictures
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02-01-05
Nashville, TNCon was a guest on the Dave Nemo Show from 11:3O AM (EST) to Noon, which is broadcast on XM Satellite Radio over the Open Road channel #171. > Pictures
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01-29-05
Nashville, TNBillboard Magazine's Deborah Evans Price does a story on veteran country stars like Con who are having success using non-traditional methods to reach their fans. It's in the January 29, 2005 issue of Billboard Magazine and there's some great quotes from Con! Click here to read the story. > Pictures
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01-14-05
Nashville, TNGreat review of Con's new single, "Only Time Will Tell" in Music Row by Robert K. Oermann. Oermann writes, "Effortlessly soulful. The rolling groove, heartbroken lyric and pristine production are the perfect compliments to one of our greatest vocalists." > Pictures
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01-10-05
Nashville, TNCon releases a new single from his "Sweet Memories" album. "Only Time Will Tell" ships to country radio on January 17th. > Pictures
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01-02-05
Nashville, TNCon and IMMI really start the new year off right when Edward Morris of CMT.com picks "Sweet Memories" as one of the Top Ten Country Albums of 2004! Click here to read about it! > Pictures
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12-31-04
Pigeon Forge, TNIMMI Records and Music Road Hotel and Convention Center are pleased to announce a New Year's Eve concert starring Con Hunley, with special guests the Chillbillies, Madonna Tassi, and the Hunley Brothers and Ruth. Come spend New Year's Eve in the Smokies with Con! Click here for more information. > Pictures
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11-09-04
Nashville, TN The IMMI teams puts on the dog and heads to Nashville for the 38th Annual CMA Awards. > Pictures
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11-05-04
Nashville, TNAssociated Press story on Bill Anderson, who wrote "Still," Con's current single. Whisperin' Bill co-wrote "Whiskey Lullaby" a big hit for Brad Paisley and Allison Krauss, which is up for 4 CMA Awards, including Song of the Year. Con talks about Bill and how he came to record "Still" in the article. Click here to read. > Pictures
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11-04-04
Nashville, TNBill Littleton does a very nice review of "Sweet Memories" in thebridgeworks, a monthly publication. Click here to read it. > Pictures
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11-03-04
Nashville, TNGreat story on Con in the Nashville City Paper. Ron Wynn writes, "one of the genre's genuinely soulful stars and great natural voices has thankfully returned to the scene . . ." Click here to read the rest of the story. > Pictures
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NOV/DEC 04
Nashville, TNCMT Magazine has a mini-review and great new photo of Con in their November/December issue. It's at checkout counters and newsstands now! > Pictures
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10-29-04
Knoxville, TNThe Con Hunley Classic golf tournament in Knoxville, Tennessee will be held at Whittles Golf Course on October 29th and 30th, with a dinner after the tournament on October 30th at Holston Hills Country Club. All proceeds from the tournament goes to the Golden Gloves organization which benefits underprivileged youths. Over a million dollars has been raised by the Con Hunley Classic over the years! > Pictures
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10-04
Nashville, TNAngryCountry.com is running a Con Hunley contest and you can win great Con Hunley gear! Entering the contest is simple - just visit AngryCountry.com and register to win AUTOGRAPHED t-shirts, hats and copies of "Sweet Memories", Con's newest CD! > Pictures
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10-04
Shreveport, LATeddy Allen of the Shreveport Times writes a delightful and humorous story about Con - click here to read it. > Pictures
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09-30-04
Nashville, TNCon was a special guest on the Talk One Radio Network from 12:20 AM/EDT to 1:10 AM/EDT in the wee hours of Thursday, September 30th (or Wednesday night, depending on your location). The show is aired on 150 stations around the country, as well as Sirius Satellite Radio, or you can listen over the internet at http://www.takeone.com > Pictures
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09-30-04
Nashville, TNLive Interview with Shannon on XM Satellite Radio from 1:15 PM/EDT to 1:45 PM/EDT from the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. The show is aired on XM's America Channel 10. NEW MUSIC ROUNDUP will repeat Shannon's interview with Con on Friday, October 15th at Noon/EDT, Monday, October 18th at 5:00 AM/EDT, Wednesday, October 20th at 7:00 PM/EDT and Saturday, October 23rd at Midnight/EDT. > Pictures
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09-28-04
Nashville, TNCOUNTRY WEEKLY has a feature story on Con in their October 12th issue with George Strait on the cover! Don't miss it! Click here to read the story! > Pictures
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09-04-04
Nashville, TN"Still" songwriter Bill Anderson is up for 4 CMA awards for his hit song "Whiskey Lullaby" performed by Brad Paisley and Allison Krauss. Billboard Magazine did a story and Bill mentions Con's recording of "Still" in the interview. Read all about it here or here. THANK YOU BILL! > Pictures
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08-26-04
Nashville, TNCon does an interview with Michael Allison of AngryCountry.com and Christine Bohorfoush does a great review of "Sweet Memories." Read all about it by clicking here. > Pictures
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AUG 04
Nashville, TN"Still", the first single from "Sweet Memories" was released to radio on July 26th and is being picked up by several country and adult contemporary radio stations across America with new stations adding daily. Program Directors and DJ's around the country (and in the U.K. and Ireland!) are saying that they and their listeners "still" remember Con Hunley and want to welcome him back to radio. Click here to listen. > Pictures
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AUG 04
Nashville, TNThe title track from the "Sweet Memories" album appears on CMT's "Summer Sampler", which features up-and-coming country artists and new releases. Check out CMT Magazine to see a list of artists on the new music CD (Con is on page 2). > Pictures
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08-17-04
Nashville, TNCountry Weekly Magazine gives "Sweet Memories" a great review in the August 17, 2004 issue. > Pictures
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08-12-04
Augusta, GADon Rhodes writes about Con in his Ramblin' Rhodes Column in the Augusta Chronicle. > Pictures
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08-10-04
Nashville, TNCon Hunley is appearing on GAC-TV's "Country Music Across America" with Storme Warren. It's a great interview with Con at BMI's headquarters on Music Row in Nashville where Con performs his new single "Still." The show airs August 10th through the 23rd on GAC. > Pictures
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07-28-04
Nashville, TNCon was a guest on Great American Country's (GAC-TV) GAC Classic with Bill Cody TV show, which will air on July 28th at 9:00 AM (EST) and at 8:00 PM (EST) and again on July 31st at 10:00 PM (EST), repeating for two weeks. Click here for photos. > Pictures
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07-22-04
Nashville, TNCon visits co-hosts Kelly Sutton and Charlie Chase for an early morning performance on the "Tennessee Mornings" TV show. Click here to see pictures from the show. > Pictures
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07-21-04
Nashville, TNBMI Nashville throws a party for Con to celebrate his signing with BMI and the release of the new single, "Still" at their headquarters on Music Row. Click here to see pictures from the party. > Pictures
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07-20-04
Nashville, TNCon was a guest on the Dave Nemo Show from 10:OO AM (EST) to Noon, which was broadcast on XM Satellite Radio over the Open Road channel #171. Click here for photos. > Pictures
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07-14-04
Washington, DCLive broadcast from the Performance Theatre of XM Satellite Radio - "Con Hunley Un-plugged" on America's Channel 10 at 2:00 PM (EST). From 8:00 PM (EST) to midnight, Con will spend four hours taking phone calls (1-866-267-0349) and talking with America's show host Country Dan Dixon. Click here to see pics and watch a video.video > Pictures
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06-26-04
Nashville, TNBillboard Magazine's review of "Still" Con's first single from the "Sweet Memories" CD. > Pictures
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06-12-04
Nashville, TNAppearing at the Country Music Hall of Fame, live performance and CD signing, June 12, 2004 - 1:00 p.m. > Pictures
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06-10-04
Nashville, TNAppearing at the Ryman Auditorium with "The Three Cons" - John Conlee, Earl Thomas Conley and Con Hunley - Live Broadcast with WSM Click here for pictures. > Pictures
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06-10-04
Nashville, TNAppearing at the CMA Music Festival Fan Fair Exhibit Hall, June 10-13, 2004 - Click here for pictures. > Pictures
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06-05-04
Knoxville, TNAppearing at WIVK's appreciation event for the 278th Armored Calvary Regiment before their deployment - June 5, 2004 at 4:00 p.m. > Pictures
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05-19-04
Chattanooga, TNLive performance at the grand opening of the Brainerd Road Wal-Mart Supercenter. Radio personalities Dex and Kim from country radio station WUSY-FM US 101 will broadcast live with Con from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Con will perform as well as meet fans and sign autographs. > Pictures
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05-04
Nashville, TNMusic Row Magazine - Robert Oermann's DISClaimer Column - Mini-Review of "Sweet Memories" > Pictures
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04-24-04
Knoxville, TNConcert in Fountain City Park for the Dogwood Arts Festival. Music starts at 2:30 pm. Special Guests include the Chillbillies and the Hunley Bros. and Ruth. Live WIVK remote broadcast with Colleen Addair. Listen to a sound clip of Colleen interviewing Con about the Dogwood Festival and other things. > Pictures
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04-17-04
Knoxville, TNDogwood Arts Parade - 7:00 pm, Civic Coliseum, up Church Ave., down Gay Street to Depot. Con will be on Market Square for the pre-parade festivities and will be appearing in the parade. > Pictures
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04-09-04
Knoxville, TNCon's "Sweet Memories" Birthday Party - WIVK Knoxville Live Remote Broadcast with Gunner at Chapman Highway Wal-Mart Supercenter - 11:00 am to 1:00 pm > Pictures
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03-25-04
Nashville, TNWSM 650 AM Nashville Live Remote Broadcast with Bill Cody at Lebanon Road Super Wal-Mart in Hermitage 8-10 am > Pictures
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03-07-04
Knoxville, TNKnoxville News Sentinel story: Con Hunley - Led by his Heart > Pictures
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03-07-04
Knoxville, TNWayne Bledsoe Review of "Sweet Memories" - Veteran vocalist Hunley Still Solid, Superb on 'Sweet' > Pictures
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01-15-04
Nashville, TNRalph Emery Television Commercial for "Sweet Memories" > Video
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12-31-03
Knoxville, TNNew Years' Eve Celebration at the Holiday Inn Select Downtown at the Convention Center > Pictures
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12-31-03
Knoxville, TN"Sweet Memories" CD Launch Party > Pictures
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03-06-03
Knoxville, TNMetro Pulse Story:
Corner Lounge - Home of Con Hunley
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From Metro Pulse January 30, 2013

Con Hunley: If You Could Read Between the Lines

By Betty Bean
January 30, 2013

Nashville City Club, 1978 — From the look of the crowd at the signing party, most of Music Row had come downtown to check out the hot new star from Knoxville. Thirty-five years later, it’s what was happening outside the building that stands out in one guest’s memory.

“Everybody who was anybody in the music business was there, but the biggest thing I remember was looking out through those glass walls and seeing that airplane pulling a tail banner saying ‘Warner Brothers Welcomes Con Hunley.’ It was literally circling downtown Nashville, and they had searchlights on it where people could see it. It was almost surreal, like something out of a Superman movie. They really thought they had the next Elvis,” says Hunley’s brother, Steve.

“That party cost the company quite a bit of money,” recalls legendary music producer Norro Wilson, a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and a current nominee to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Wilson, who was running Warner Bros. Records’ Nashville operations when Hunley was signed, says nobody worried about the tab for that party. “If anybody ever deserved to be a superstar, it was Con Hunley. I’ll get in trouble for saying this, but he’s been my favorite guy to work with all these many years. [Wilson’s long resume includes names like Charley Pride, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Kenny Chesney, and Shania Twain.]

“He hears what I hear. How good a singer is he? He’s as good as it gets.”

Yet, despite jaw-dropping good looks and talent formidable enough to win the admiration of established stars and snag an Academy of Country Music Newcomer of the Year nomination, and despite touring with some of the biggest names in the industry and being the first artist invited to sing on Ralph Emery’s Nashville Now, he lost deal after deal to lesser talents in big hats. His drinking became the subject of gossip, and he finally came home to Knoxville and went into business with Steve, leaving behind a contingent of fans who wondered whatever became of Con Hunley.

The short answer is that he’s fine. He’s sober and making music that matters with people he trusts. He’s reconnecting with his fans via a thriving Internet-based family music business, and his personal journey is the stuff of classic country songs—and is, in fact, the subject of a moving, as-yet-unreleased autobiographical song called “If You Could Read Between the Lines on This Face.”

The former Warner Bros. publicist who was one of the first to believe in him thinks he probably got out in the nick of time.

“He could have gone on and on like he was and he probably would’ve been singing with Elvis by now,” says Bonnie Taggert, who once stopped New York City traffic at the Holland Tunnel so Hunley could be photographed for an official promotional shot.

“Instead, he stopped drinking, took control of his life, and he’s still loved and still has an incredible life and I think his silver hair is gorgeous.” PROUD PARENTS: Con Hunley’s parents, William and Priscilla Hunley (with Ernestine Purkey, left), supported his pursuit of a music career throughout their lives—his father urged him to “lay in there” no matter how frustrating his Nashville experiences became.

***

Conard Logan Hunley was the firstborn child of Priscilla Clodell Brewer and William Kenneth Hunley, April 9, 1945. Con was named for his grandfathers—Milburn Conard Brewer, a Church of God minister, and Logan Hunley, a farmer whose family was forced off their Union County land by the rising waters of Norris Lake. Like a lot of displaced Union Countians, Kenneth went to work at Standard Knitting Mill, the biggest textile mill in Knoxville, which employed more than 4,000 people at its height. He made extra money painting houses at night, sometimes working 16-hour days. Clodell (known as “Dell”) worked at the Palm Beach Mill on Baxter Avenue. They believed in Jesus, hard work, family, and music. Alcohol was not on the list.

Con’s siblings were Beth, Steve, Tim, Ruthie, and Kenny. They grew up attending the Church of God of the Union Assembly in Luttrell and lived in a rowdy, close-knit “Our Gang” kind of neighborhood on Beverly Road. Nobody had much money, but there was always music and mischief and an abundance of tough love.

Hunley can’t remember not working. His first job was selling placards with slogans written on them in glitter and glue.

“I went door to door selling mottos,” he says. “Looking back, I think people bought those because they felt sorry for me.”

When he got older, he put up hay and milked cows. In high school, he washed cars and changed tires at two East Knoxville service stations. After that, he donned a white shirt and a bow tie to work at the Whiteway in Fountain City.

The Hunley kids attended Ritta Elementary School, and Con went on to Central High School, where he struggled to conquer his shyness.

“I tried to do well in school and I was eager to learn,” he says. “I was kind of a backward, shy guy.... People who knew me then are always saying, ‘You’re the last person I expected to be an entertainer.’ I wasn’t necessarily introverted, but outside my circle of friends, I was very bashful. Making friends was always my main concern. That was very important to me and over the years it’s remained important to me. I’ve always really valued my friends.”

He learned to play the guitar by imitating the distinctive style of Chet Atkins, whom he idolized. Later, when his parents bought his sister Beth a piano, he started teaching himself to play like his other idol, Ray Charles. At Central, he’d slip into the school auditorium at lunchtime to practice “What’d I Say” licks on a grand piano that stood on the stage, surrounded by heavy velvet drapes.

“There was one time I had snuck in there and was playing and singing, and when I finished, I heard this applause from behind the curtain. It scared me to death and I just took off running.”

He saw the inside of a jail after a football game at Powell High School when he and his friends decided to show their colors at the traditional Powell hangout, Malcolm’s Dairyland. A fracas ensued and Dell Hunley got a call to come get him out of jail.

“I was going to jail for the cause,” he says. “I had my check from the Whiteway, but they wanted 10 percent of my check to cash it, and I wasn’t going to do that. So I called my mother. I’m big-dogging it out of there, and I’ll never forget her saying, ‘I ought to wring your jaws,’ right in front of all those people.”

He graduated in 1963, and followed his dad to Standard Knitting Mill. The following year, he got his first professional music gig playing with a band at the Eagles Club, the service fraternity downtown. The war in Vietnam was heating up, and when he joined the Air Force in 1965, Standard had to hire two people to replace him. He learned aircraft mechanics in the service, playing and singing with local bands wherever he was stationed. He was discharged in 1968 and returned to Knoxville hoping to connect with the hometown music scene.

LP DEBUT: The back cover album art for Con Hunley’s first Warner Bros. record, No Limit, is a photo shot at the Greenway Pool Hall on Walker Boulevard, behind the old Cas Walker store on Old Broadway.

***

Ernestine Purkey had a stupendous bouffant hairdo and a keen business mind. Divorced, with two boys to raise, she’d worked as a waitress in a couple of diners before she took over ownership of the Corner Lounge on North Central Street in 1958 after her boyfriend, a gambler named Billy Thompson, got disgusted with the demands of running an inner-city bar and tossed her the keys. She ran a tight ship and was an immediate success.

“One day I was behind the bar taking inventory—that’s the secret, you know; if you can’t keep up with your inventory, they’ll steal you blind. A boy named Jerry Beeler came in and said his friend Con Hunley had just come back from the service and would I let him play the piano. I said, ‘If he can play—I don’t want to hear no damn banging.’

“Con was bashful, but he started playing and got my attention. There was a sound system and we’d slip around and turn it on. When he started singing, he’d draw a crowd.”

Hunley sang himself into a regular Thursday night gig, playing for beer and tips. Purkey found a way of getting him past his stage fright.

“Con was so damn bashful that you had to get him drunk to sing, so I’d send up the street for a bottle and give him drinks to get him started,” she says.

Next she discovered that she was going to have another problem to contend with—women.

“I had to protect him from them,” Purkey says. “They’d just maul him. It got to where I had to hire people to watch everything else so I could watch over Con. I remember some woman taking up the whole couch next to the piano bar, drinking liquor straight out of the jigger. She kept scooting down the couch, working her way to where Con was. Next thing we knew, she was sitting behind the piano next to him. Then she grabbed him. Somebody said, ‘Get that crazy bitch out from behind there, Ernie!’ and I motioned for her to come out. She wouldn’t, so I had to grab her by the hair of the head and forcibly put her out into the street. She fought me. They were hollering, ‘Get her, Ernie!’”

During that time, the late Zane Daniel, one of Knoxville’s most successful attorneys and a legendary party animal, discovered the Corner.

“Zane started coming every Thursday night and was almost as popular as Con was,” Purkey says. “I’d get my hair done on Thursday afternoon, change clothes, and be back there and the phone would ring. ‘Is Con going to be there tonight?’ The crowds got so big sometimes we couldn’t let people in the door.”

Pretty soon, she put a sign outside proclaiming the Corner the “Home of Con Hunley.”

One of the people who almost didn’t get in was C.H. Butcher—the future convicted bank swindler and younger brother to fellow swindler Jake—who caused a scene and started lecturing Ernie about her clientele.

“C.H. was belligerent,” she says. “He wasn’t like Jake, the gentleman. He said I ought to start a club, and not just let just a bunch of riffraff in here. Finally I had to make room for him, but I told him, ‘C.H., I don’t have riffraff and I don’t tell you how to run your bank, so you don’t tell me how to run my business.’”

In 1975, stockbroker and Con Hunley fan Sam Kirkpatrick started Prairie Dust Records and took Hunley to Nashville’s Studio B for a session with some of Nashville’s best musicians. Hunley was Prairie Dust’s only artist.

Bobby Denton, general manager of WIVK radio, became a Corner Lounge patron and a close friend.

“We were both pretty wild back then, and Con was one good-looking son of a gun,” Denton says. “He had women around him all the time and he was already a pretty big star. He worked big concerts, and I thought, ‘Shit, he can sing better than most of them.’”

In 1978, Denton took Hunley to the Acuff-Rose Publishing Company Golf Tournament at Henry Horton State Park, a two-day event attended by a host of Music Row A-listers, including Chet Atkins and Vince Gill. That first night there was a “guitar pull” jam session and Denton made sure that somebody passed the guitar to Hunley.

“I’m sitting in the floor, just in awe of these people,” Hunley says. “When he called my name, my heart rate went to 160. They handed me a guitar—it might have been Chet’s catgut guitar—and I had a lot more vibrato that night than I normally do.”

Taggert was at the guitar pull representing Warner Bros., and she became an instant fan.

“I was lucky enough to hear him sing that night, and he was awesome—so good-looking and so kind and so sweet that I just felt like he would be a great addition to the roster at Warner Brothers,” Taggert says. “So I went back to the office and told Norro Wilson, and that Thursday we went up to the Corner Lounge.”

That’s all it took to hook Wilson, too.

***

By the end of the next week, Hunley had offers from five labels, including one from RCA delivered via telephone by Chet Atkins, who reached him at the Village Barn where he was playing with a band called Marvin Russell and the Rhythm Masters. But Atkins was too late. Taggert was already chartering a plane to Knoxville. She loaded up Wilson and a group of top international executives and headed for the Village Barn.

“In hindsight, I might have been better off with RCA, because they had a better background in country music,” Hunley says. “I’m a country boy fresh out from under the rock and I had all this stuff coming at me at the same time. I’m thinking, this is what I’ve been looking for all my life. They were throwing a lot of money at the country division, and they threw a lot of money at me. You’re talking about a broke East Tennessee boy, and all of a sudden there’s a big contract to buy equipment and whatever I needed to go on the road. It was a really sweet dance there, in the beginning. I felt they wanted me more, appreciated what I was doing. I felt like she was the one.”

But there was a serious roadblock in the way—he didn’t know how to break the news to Ernie.

“One Thursday night Zane called me outside and told me, ‘Next break you take, I want to talk to you about something,’” Purkey says. “The smoke inside was hard on your lungs, and on his break, Con would generally be off somewhere with some gal. It gave Zane a chance to talk to me. He said, ‘Con has a recording contract on my desk. It’s been laying there all week and he won’t sign it unless you tell him to. He doesn’t want to leave you.’”

“I said, ‘He’s got to.’ Zane said, ‘Ernie, this is the break of a lifetime. Warner Brothers isn’t going to wait for Con Hunley.’”

“The next break, I said, ‘Con, I want you to go up there and sign that damn contract.’ He said, ‘What will you do?’ I said, ‘I was here before you ever got here.’ But it was breaking my heart to say that. For a long time after that, he’d try and make it back to the Corner every Thursday. He’d walk in and get behind the bar where the girls couldn’t maul him. And they did, believe me.”

Purkey found a serviceable replacement very quickly. The Steppe Brothers filled the Thursday night vacancy and she continued to pack in the customers until her retirement in 1989.

***

Unfortunately for Hunley, when he arrived on the scene, country music was in the beginning stages of what his brother Steve calls a paradigm shift.

“It was timing—Con got caught in a sea change happening in the music business,” he says. “The seas were calm and here comes a Category 5 hurricane. The business was transforming from an old-style country business model to a rock business model—bigger venues, bigger audiences, big arena acts. Hat acts. Nashville was taking on the trappings of rock and moving away from the balladeers, the country crooners. He got caught at the wrong place at the wrong time. It had a profound effect on as many as 50 acts. It wasn’t just Con that got washed away. Finally, he said, ‘I’ve had enough. I’m going home.’”

As if the industry-wide changes weren’t difficult enough, Warner Bros. was undergoing internal management issues. Bonnie Taggert says a lot of people got hurt.

“It wasn’t Con’s fault,” says Taggert, who was close to Warner Bros. Nashville chief Jim Fogelsong. “It was politics at the record labels. There was a big shakeup at Warner Brothers. Jim Fogelsong was out and Jimmy Bowen came in and fired us all. Con ended up at Capitol and by that time I was at Capitol, too. Jim Fogelsong was the president of Capitol and Con was so on the verge of hitting it big. I was going to get a promotion to vice president, but they brought Jimmy Bowen in and he fired everybody again. I was fired by Jimmy Bowen twice. And Con lost his deal.”

Hunley recorded five albums with Warner Bros.—No Limit, I Don’t Want to Lose You, Ask Any Woman, and Oh, Girl—plus a string of singles, including “Weekend Friend,” which charted at #13 and “Oh, Girl,” a cover of the Chi-Lites song that made it to #12. He toured with big-name acts including Alabama, Larry Gatlin, George Jones, and Tammy Wynette. About the time that his Warner Bros. contract was running out in 1982, he was touring with the Oak Ridge Boys, who sang back-up harmonies on “Oh, Girl” and had become close personal friends. They encouraged him to come over to MCA, where Jim Fogelsong had also landed.

“I started looking for songs for my first project and the head of MCA Nashville, Jim Fogelsong, was let go and the new guy that came in chose not to retain me,” Hunley says. “Jim went to Capitol Records and took me with him. I started working on a project and lo and behold, the same thing happened at Capitol that happened at MCA. I’d be looking at a song and the people in A&R would say, ‘I don’t hear you doing that song.’ This went on for just a little bit, and next thing you know, there were other artists they’d signed who were recording songs I’d brought in myself.

He finally found a song called “What Am I Going to Do About You” that had real potential, but says Bowen’s staff had little interest in promoting it.

“It took them a long time to kill it. Reba McEntire was with the label at the time, and several months later, she wound up recording it and it became a monster hit.”

That’s when he stopped trying.

“I needed the time to rejuvenate, re-examine, and get emotionally reinvested in my craft,” he says. “Six months turned into a year, a year turned into five, and five years turned into a lifetime. I went into a dark period of self-doubt. Was it me? Was it the business? I continued to play gigs off the strength of the records I’d had until that point—but they became fewer and fewer and pretty soon there wasn’t a lot of demand for Con Hunley.”

***

Hunley went into the dry cleaning business with Steve, and had little involvement with music, beyond his Golden Gloves concerts and a standing New Year’s Eve gig in Pigeon Forge. In 1996, he got a boost when President Bill Clinton invited him to perform for Hillary Clinton’s birthday party at the White House. Later that year, Norro Wilson was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and asked Hunley to sing Wilson’s hit single, “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” at the banquet.

Dell Hunley died in December 1999, while Con was working on what would become his comeback album, Sweet Memories. During that time, he was arrested for DUI and found himself in the drunk tank being mocked by Knox County deputies singing “Oh, Girl” on the intercom. He had hit rock bottom.

“Here’s this washed-up local boy drowning in his own misery—it really made me take stock,” he says. “I realized that a lot of the people I was running around with were caught up in knowing Con Hunley—‘You’re not going to believe where we went, what we did’—and pretty soon it became something bigger than a social evening. I’d started planning my days around who I was going to drink with and where I would go after that. I decided I needed help. I’m thankful every day that I did. That’s when things started to turn around. I was trying to reconcile my mother’s death and make peace with my music, and I determined I wasn’t going to die with my music.”

Hunley’s father died in 2004, and he believed in Con’s talent to the end of his life, urging him to “lay in there” and not give up. And, with some help from friends and family, he didn’t.

“He did the Sweet Memories project pretty much on his own,” Steve says. “Norro produced it and shopped it around, but the business had moved on—it was still the hat acts. I finally said, ‘Well, hell, why don’t we do it ourselves?’”

Steve, who had earned a business and marketing degree at the University of Tennessee and is an experienced entrepreneur, came up with a business plan and the brothers started IMMI—Independent Music Marketing Inc.

Their sister Ruthie Akers came on board to run the office and sing in the band. Her husband, Burton Akers, a gifted musician, arranges the music. Brothers Tim (until his death in 2009) and Kenny sang backup. Their friend Lisa Starbuck is president of IMMI and handles the Internet and social media—just managing Hunley’s Facebook pages, which have drawn more than 18,000 friends and fans, is almost a full-time job.

And the voice is better than ever. Sweet Memories was well-received and got rack space from major retailers. Colleagues like Vince Gill, Kenny Chesney, and Bill Anderson gave him rave reviews. Singer Blake Shelton put Con Hunley on his list of the top 10 country voices.

Meanwhile, Hunley and his wife Karen have been married for 29 years and have a daughter, Brittany, 27, who lives in South Carolina and works for a national advertising agency. Brittany has an undergraduate degree from UT and a master’s from Clemson, and Hunley is very proud of her.

“She’s an independent girl. She don’t take any crap and I admire that. She’s really good at what she does.”

Karen has her own career and is not involved in the music business. “She doesn’t pay any attention to it at all,” Hunley says. “It’s part and parcel of the other Con.”

All in all, the lifelong Knoxvillian says he’s content.

“I like to go to the IGA and the Pilot and Weigel’s and all these places, and if somebody knows me, I talk to them and if they don’t, that’s fine with me, too. I guess it’d be different if I was a Keith Urban or a Kenny Chesney, but it’s kind of nice that I can do what I do and be who I am—play golf with my buddies and be around my friends and just be Con, the good old boy from Beverly Road and Ritta school, and not Con the singer.”

Hunley has another calling that he doesn’t talk about much—his work in the recovery community. But Bobby Denton does.

“We’re both members of AA. He got straight before I did, and Con really helped me. When he got his 10th-anniversary chip, I put it on him. He has done very, very well and is a role model for a lot of people.”

Ernie Purkey says Hunley is the best friend she ever had, and that she’s put him in her will. They still go out to dinner occasionally, and his sobriety doesn’t get in the way of having a good time.

“He’ll tell me, ‘You go ahead and have a drink. It won’t bother me,’” she says. “He does not drink anything but black coffee, period. He’s never backslid.”

Not long ago, Con and Ernie were out, and stopped to peer into the windows of the old Corner Lounge, most recently a bookstore in the same building now occupied by Magpie’s Bakery. But these days, Hunley doesn’t worry much about what’s past.

“In the end, it’s pretty simple. I’m not wealthy, but I can make music, which is my life and my joy. Just my heart talking to yours.”

Ed. Note: Con Hunley made a recording of “Tennessee,” written by Betty Bean’s late brother, John Bean. It was adopted by the Senate as a state song in 2011.


 

From Metro Pulse January 30, 2013

Tall Tales of Con Hunley
Extra anecdotes from a colorful career

By Betty Bean
January 30, 2013

Around 1978, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra conductor Zoltán Rozsnyai—a bona fide star in his own firmament who wouldn’t linger in Knoxville long— took some time off from Haydn and Handel to collaborate with Hunley in a pops concert at the request of WIVK owner and symphony benefactor Jim Dick. In addition to the full orchestra, the Hungarian-born maestro recruited an 80-voice choir. Hunley was scared to death.

“He’d say, ‘Vat ve vant to do here…’ and I’d say, ‘Now, wait a minute.’ I don’t read music and know nothing about it. With me, it’s all feel. It was at the [Knoxville Civic] Coliseum, and we had a full house. I was so nervous. All the musical elites were down in the front rows and my crew was up in the second balcony. I sat down at the piano and was saying, ‘Oh, be still hands,’ because they were shaking so bad it was difficult to play. I was into my second song when there was a lull in the music and Max Witt—apparently he’d stopped by the Corner Lounge before the concert—bellowed ‘Play it, fat boy!’ People started laughing and I was okay after that.”

• Con Hunley had known boxing impresario Ace Miller for many years, and when he got his record deal, they started the Con Hunley Golden Gloves Golf Tournament, which lasted for 21 years and raised more than $1 million for inner-city kids to participate in Golden Gloves activities.

In 1979, Hunley was invited to sing the national anthem when Miller’s star prizefighter, John Tate, was booked for a heavyweight championship bout against Gerry Coetzee in Pretoria, South Africa. He remembers being excited and apprehensive.

“It was kind of a scary situation,” he says. [Warner Bros. executive] Andrew Wickham was a huge fight fan and went with us, and we did a lot of interviews while we were there. I was shocked to see the conditions under which the people in Soweto had to live. This was the first integrated sporting event in South Africa, and there were close to 90,000 people there. There was also was a lot of security.

“The crew that went to help train John was called the Hillbillies, and everybody came to love them. They were just good old boys—nutritionists, workout people, roadwork people, cut men and all that stuff. They had a great sound system. It was so thrilling to sing the anthem and actually hear it. I remember this English soldier came up to me and said, ‘The way you sing the United States’ anthem almost makes me want be American.’ There was quite a party afterwards."

• John Conlee beat Con Hunley out for the Academy of Country Music Newcomer of the Year award in 1978 on the strength of his monster hit, “Rose-Colored Glasses.” Another gifted newbie, Earl Thomas Conley, emerged during that time. Fans had difficulty distinguishing between them, and took to calling them “The Three Cons.” Confusion ensued.

"There were a lot of people, when I would go out and perform, they’d want to hear ‘Rose-Colored Glasses.’ At first I’d say, ‘What? Are you being snide?’ One night at the Memorial Auditorium in Cincinnati, somebody hollered, ‘When you gonna play your big hit, ‘Rose-Colored Glasses?’ We’d worked the song up, and we did it. I imitated John Conlee singing it—thunderous applause. We didn’t make a big deal out of it, and went right on back to another Con song. ... I’ve had a lot of fun with John and Earl Thomas about the confusion. One night the three of us were at the Ryman for a Fan Fair event, all up there together, joking about each other’s songs, and each of us ended up doing one of the other’s songs. It was very well received.”


 

From Knoxville News-Sentinel January 25, 2013

For Con Hunley, the music is still No. 1

By Jer Cole

Feb. Fri 1 Waynestock 3 7 p.m. Relix Variety Theatre

Locals who believe mainstream country music has lost its soul need look no further for an example than the story of legendary East Tennessee crooner and "Smoky Mountain blue-eyed darlin' " Con Hunley. Hunley's rise to superstardom may have been truncated in the '80s after a brush with the corporate politics that fuel the Nashville machine, but it hasn't deterred him from his love of performing true, meaningful country music. After a two-decades-long hiatus, Hunley has bypassed the once-necessary major label backing to return to his loyal followers, releasing four albums in since 2004.

Hunley looks a bit like Dos Equis' so-called "most interesting man in the world," and is probably more deserving of such a title. After a stint in the Air Force, he began developing his craft through early performances at The Corner Lounge, where he was discovered, and soon took his shot at Nashville. Having built a status throughout the industry with releases from Warner Bros., Hunley signed to MCA Records in 1982. Once dropped from the label's roll by new MCA president Jimmy Bowen, Hunley moved on to sign with Capitol Records, which coincidentally was Bowen's next stop as well. Hunley was again pushed out to allow room for Bowen's familiars.

Although Hunley's credits include numerous chart-climbing hits and a performance at the White House during the Clinton administration, the meteoric rise many felt was his destiny was cut short. While it is difficult to imagine not being somewhat embittered by his experience, the upbeat Hunley is happy to be where he is now.

"I think (superstardom) was more important to other people than it was to me," says Hunley. "It never really was about the glitter and the glamor and the spotlight and all that stuff. For me, it was always about the music, and I always wanted to do really good songs people could relate to and songs that meant something to me. I was lucky enough to make some music; I never was a superstar, and I think a lot of people thought I was going to. Had that come along, it would have been nice, but it's not something I lose a lot of sleep over."

With a love for music instilled by his family at an early age, Hunley has continued to offer new material to his fans. Following the loss of his mother, Hunley has included a gospel song on each of his albums as a tribute. After the acclaim and encouragement of friends and fans, he put out a full gospel album in 2012. The well-received album "Wayfarin' Stranger" was his fourth release on IMMI Records.

While much of Hunley's success came from the rearrangement and performance of existing songs, his next album promises to feature more of his original writing. Given his life experience and reputation for performing from the heart, Hunley's self-composed material should prove to be his most moving. Working with recent Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee Kim Williams, the next album promises to be a return to form.

"It's a little tough for me, having been a country-oriented singer for all these years, to jump into another genre," says Hunley of his recent gospel work. "There's always a circle involved in any genre, label or promotion deal, but it's been pretty widely accepted. Everyone that's heard it seems to like it.

"Initially when I got my first contract, I'd written a song called 'Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,'" continues Hunley of his infrequent songwriting. "That really opened the door for me. ... From that time on, I didn't do a lot of writing. For me to write, I had to get away from everything. After we did our first album with Warner Bros., I was on the road constantly, and it just wasn't conducive to me writing. But of late, I've been writing quite a bit, or quite a bit for me. I've written some songs on my later CDs, and the next one coming up has a couple of songs I wrote.

Frequently performing for charity events, Hunley is always eager to give back to the East Tennessee community that has supported and encouraged him throughout the years. For the third Waynestock installment, kicking off on Feb. 1, Hunley will join Mic Harrison and the High Score for a hand-picked set of Hunley's higher-octane favorites.

"We're going to do some songs I don't get to do live very much," Hunley says. "We're going to do some album cuts Mic and the guys picked out that I haven't done in a long time, kind of a throwback to some up-tempo stuff. I said I'd do whatever (they) picked out. ... They're fired up about it, and so am I. I really enjoy those guys, Mic and the band. He's such a great songwriter. I'm looking forward to it; we're going to have a heck of a time."

While the previous two Waynestocks were reactions to the tragic passings of Andrew Bledsoe and Phil Pollard, the event has been propelled forward by the resulting sense of community it has created. This year's event will benefit Knoxville's Community School for the Arts.

---

Waynestock 3

When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 1-2

Where: Relix Variety Theatre, 1208 N. Central

Admission: $5 nightly

Schedule:

Friday, Feb. 1

7 p.m. Black Atticus

8 p.m. Kevin Abernathy

9 p.m. Con Hunley with Mic Harrison & The High Score

10 p.m. The Rockwells

11 p.m. The Mutations

midnight Yak Strangler

---

Saturday, Feb. 2

7 p.m. Kukuly & the Gypsy Fuego

8 p.m. Dor L’ Dor

9 p.m. Guy Marshall

10 p.m. Sam Quinn

11 p.m. Johnny Astro & the Big Bang

12 p.m. Grand finale with Knoxville music greats and Waynestock performers past and present


 

From Knoxville Focus June 21, 2012

2nd Annual Game On Against Cancer to raise funds for Thompson Cancer Survival Center
by Tasha Mahurin, Knoxville, TN | January, 2013

Mayor Burchett was one of the Knoxville celebrities who participated in last year’s Game on Against Cancer. Photo by Dan Andrews.

Mahurint@knoxfocus.com

Knoxville’s “go-to” store for home entertainment, Games and Things, has teamed up with a number of local sponsors to host a second annual fundraiser to benefit Thompson Cancer Survival Center on March 1.

Scott and Lisa Mellon, who have owned Games and Things for 32 years, were inspired to host the event last year after Lisa’s own health journey led to treatment at the Thompson Cancer Survival Institute.

“After spending some time at the center for treatment, I knew I wanted to do something. I called Covenant to see what we could do to help,” Lisa told the Focus.

The couple was able to channel their expertise in home entertainment to create a unique and dynamic evening of gaming.

The event, appropriately entitled “Game On Against Cancer”, will feature an evening of celebrity competition. Participants will be able to challenge a local celebrity to a game of table tennis, billiards, poker, darts or black jack. Mayor Madeline Roger, Mayor Tim Burchett, Jeff Francis, Abby Ham, Hallerin Hill, Con Hunley, Bill Landry, Phil Williams, Mike Witcher and a host of other Knox-famous celebrities are among those who have stepped up to the card table to show their support for this compelling cause.

“We’re grateful that we had such a great response from our local celebrities and want to thank them for coming out again this year to be part of this fun-filled night,” Lisa added.

Proceeds from the event go to help fund two important programs at Thomspon Cancer Survival Center- the Thompson Cares Fund and the Fellowship Center. The Thompson Cares Fund provides financial assistance for patients who are in crisis and need help to meet the expenses of basic necessities like housing, transportation, medical supplies and medication. In 2010, over $55,000 in aid was provided through the fund.

The Fellowship Center provides a free “home-away-from-home” for patients and families who must travel more than 30 miles to receive treatment at Thompson. The center offers fully-furnished apartments, meals and supportive services at no cost to patients. Since 1993, more than 17,000 guests have been served, saving them nearly $7 million in hotel costs.

Last year the event raised $30,000 to benefit the center.

The home theatre room will be open for guests to enjoy the big game, and the evening will also offer a silent auction and plenty of food and drink. Tickets are $50 each and may be purchased by calling (865)541-1227 or emailing mbrown@covhlth.com.


 

From Knoxville News Sentinel December 28, 2012

Wayne Bledsoe: Top 10 albums of 2012 encompassed heart and soul of Knoxville

Years ago I used to scan other critics' best-of lists and make sure I heard their choices and labored over which discs were truly groundbreaking. At some point I realized that my real favorite albums, the one I'd still love in a decade, were simply the ones I listened to the most in any given year.

My list has become more local (my top five are all local artists), but it's as honest a list as I can make. These are albums I'll still love when I'm in that retirement home.

1. "Some Stories," Kevin Abernathy (www.kevinabernathymusic.com) Kevin Abernathy's "Some Stories" is one of the best collections of songs to ever come out of Knoxville — and with songwriting greats stretching from Don Gibson, Arthur Q. Smith and Dolly Parton to RB Morris, Scott Miller and Todd Steed, that's saying something.

Abernathy's songs are tight, powerful and unforgettable. And the deft production on this album, with great playing from Abernathy and some of Knoxville's best musicians, lets you appreciate every word. Over the course of nearly a year, each song on it has been my favorite at some point.

2. "Still Wanna Fight," Mic Harrison & the High Score (www.micharrison.com)

In his partnership with the High Score, Mic Harrison is the frontman in one of the best and hardest-working acts Knoxville has ever seen. He's also a songwriter of the first order with a knack for classic pop hooks and a honky tonk vibe that makes you feel good down to your toes. However, behind the good time are often songs that are deeper than you imagined. "Still Wanna Fight" is the best place yet to appreciate why you need to pay close attention.

Don't take this guy for granted. He's the real deal.

3. "Wand Ambition," LiL iFFy (www.wandcore.bandcamp.com) Senryu leader Wil Wright has another new project called Weird Miracle that could just as easily describe this project. With LiL iFFy's sophomore release (available for free download) what once seemed like a joke (foul-mouthed gangsta rap blended with Harry Potter themes) becomes serious art with Wright's real life blended with wizard fantasy. The song "Sorted Affair" is a knock-out single, even if you weren't picking up on the Potter references. LiL iFFy musical partner DJ Tom Ato is a master at finding samples and laying down terrific foundations.

By the time the album reaches its emotional climax, you'll likely believe "The Magic Is Alive," too.

4. "Modern Victims," The Lonetones (www.thelonetones.com)

Think of the Lonetones as spiritual kin to Wilco or the Byrds. Led by husband and wife team and lead singer-songwriters Sean McCullough and Steph Gunnoe, The Lonetones are folky, a little rock and are constantly finding new and gorgeous sounds and expanding their horizons. The leaders' songs and vocals are contrasts that blend into something amazing.

5. "Wayfarin' Stranger," Con Hunley (www.conhunley.com)

I'd rather hear Con Hunley sing than just about anybody on earth.

Since his country hit-making days he's become a deeper and better vocalist. He's known as a country performer, but he's truly a white soul singer — who owes a lot more to Ray Charles than any country great. This collection of gospel-themed songs goes from rafter-shaking spiritual to subtle acoustic to the stark title cut that is so beautiful that it can bring you to tears. Don't miss it.


 

From Billboard June 21, 2012

Con Hunley Makes Gospel Return
by Chuck Dauphin, Nashville | June 21, 2012 4:55 EDT

Ask around Nashville for any amount of time about great vocalists to come from Music City, and invariably, the name of Con Hunley will come up. In the 1970s and 1980s, the East Tennessee native recorded some of the most soulful tracks to ever be cut here -- including "What's New With You" and "No Relief In Sight."

The singer admits to being very humbled by those compliments that have come artists such as Kenny Chesney and Vince Gill. "I'll be honest. I'm very gratified by it. I stepped back from recording for a number of years. I've managed to keep my chops in good condition. I'm grateful for the people who still love what I do."

The singer has just released a brand new Gospel album, "Wayfarin' Stranger." Though Hunley had been working on the IMMI release for a while, it took a powerful song from a songwriting legend to really get the album in gear. "Dean Dillon had always been a good friend of mine," Hunley told Billboard. "I called him one day, and asked what he had been up to. He was telling me about his ranch in Colorado where he spends quite a bit of time, and also about him going to Texas and writing with George Strait and his son Bubba. He asked about me, and I told him I was working on a Gospel album, and he said 'You're kidding. I've just written a song called 'Jonas' about the Crucifixion and resurrection. It's a great song, and it was meant for me to have it. He sent me an MP3 that night."

"Wayfarin' Stranger" took Hunley back to a simpler time. "I remembered all the places and times growing up when I did these songs where I could visualize my family singing them. The Church that is pictured on the back of the CD is one that my grandfather started in the late 20s or 30s. All through the years, I remembered these songs like 'Satisfied' and 'Amazing Grace.' There's a song my dad liked called 'There's A Leak In This Old Building.'

The disc also features a guest appearance from the legendary Bill Gaither. "I've got so much respect for him and what he has done. Some of our mutual friends got us together around Knoxville and we went out on Douglas Lake where the water was kind of still. There was an electronic piano on the boat, and he looked at me and said 'I'm going to play you what I think is one of the best Gospel songs ever written. He starts singing 'Why Me Lord.' He asked me if I could sing it with him. I started singing, and when I sing, I close my eyes. At the middle of the song, he had tears coming down his eyes. I knew then and there I had come upon a song that I needed to cut. After I cut that song, people told me I needed to cut a Gospel CD."

Another powerful cut on the album is "Hollow Man." Of the track, Hunley says, "It is a recovery song. When I heard it, I guess everybody knew I had a dependency on alcohol for a while. I had to get help. In recovery, they talk about the emptiness, and you try to fill it with things that mean nothing. Kim Williams played it for me, and they had just written it. It hit me, and I started crying. I told him that's me."

Hunley also said that he felt the album brought some healing. In the course of ten years (1999-2009), the singer lost both of his parents and a brother. He admitted that the music on "Wayfarin' Stranger" helped him. "A lot of this music reminded me that I will see them again," he says with a smile. "We are all wayfaring strangers."


 

From Music News Nashville May 21, 2012

Chuck Dauphin: Con Hunley - Wayfarin' Stranger

By Chuck Dauphin
Music News Nashville

There’s little doubt in my mind that when the complete history of Music City is written that the name of Con Hunley will be listed as one of the top vocalists to ever record here. His body of work speaks for itself. Tracks like “Oh Girl” and “No Relief In Sight” are some of the best music to come out of Nashville in the decade of the 1980s.

Fortunately, Hunley is still recording, and his new disc is a keeper. His first all-Gospel collection, this set has performances that will entertain you and inspire you at the same time. Starting off with the standard “Amazing Grace,” Hunley turns in one of the most soulful versions of the song I have ever heard. That approach continues on the newer material, such as the acoustic “When I Was A Sinner,” as well as the gorgeous “A Little Bit Of Jesus.”

He also tips his hat to Martha Carson on the legendary “Satisfied” and Kristofferson’s “Why Me Lord.” His version of the title cut is such a vocal workout that it could actually be taught in a voice class – though nobody could approach it. If you love Gospel Music, or if you love Con Hunley, you need this CD. It will touch your heart and soul, and those are not just words. He’s done it to me for years, especially when I hear the masterpiece “Hollow Man.”

There simply aren’t words to describe how great his voice is. So, I will quit now!


 

From the Knoxville News-Sentinel May 13, 2012

Wayne Bledsoe: Con Hunley's spirit shines on 'Wayfarin' Stranger'

By Wayne Bledsoe
Knoxville News-Sentinel

When Con Hunley performs the song "Wayfarin' Stranger," it's hard for both an audience and the singer to stay unemotional.

"Even with all the recording, mixing and going over and over it, it still affects me in a real spiritual way," says Hunley over lunch at Litton's.

There's no doubt listening to the recording that Hunley feels the song.

"I was at the house working on (the song) 'Didn't It Rain' and it just hit me," says Hunley. "I sat down at the piano and started singing 'Wayfaring Stranger.' Like that song, I'd lost my mother, my father and my brother and the spirit of that song totally engulfed me."

When it came time to record it, both Hunley and the instrumentalists, who were friends of Hunley's family, had to stop several times before getting through it.

Hunley had been a country hitmaker in the late 1970s and 1980s, but had some bad breaks in the business. Afterwards he spent a dark time addicted to drink with a faltering music career. At the turn of the millenium Hunley got clean and began to get back on track. With the independently-released "Sweet Memories" Hunley found his audience had been waiting for him. In addition, he had become an even better and more soulful singer.

Hunley decided to include one gospel song on every album, but relatives and friends kept encouraging him to record an entire album of gospel music.

The album "Wayfarin' Stranger" encompasses Hunley's gospel experience — from the house rockin' "There's a Leak In This Ol' Building" and "Satisfied" to more subdued standards, including "Peace In the Valley," and more recently-written songs. It also includes "When I Was a Sinner," a fine number written by Hunley's mother when she was 16.

When word got out that Hunley was recording a gospel album, songwriting friends, including Dean Dillon and Red Lane gave him recent songs to consider.

Hunley says the Kim Williams song 'He Loved Me' really spoke to him as well.

"It was about where I've been in my life — when you've given up on yourself and your life, but for some reason you survive. Times you couldn't stand to look in the mirror ... He loved me even when I couldn't love myself."

If audiences find "Wayfarin' Stranger" therapeutic, it would probably be no more so than it was for Hunley himself.

"I don't really talk about tough times. I'm a pretty private person. I've always been reluctant to expose my innermost feelings to the public. But this kind of gave me an inner peace. Sometimes you get caught up in the ifs ands or buts and it kind of helped me reconcile the loss of my mother, my father and my brother and think about what's really important.

"The church is where all this stuff became a part of me, but I don't want to go on a church tour. I'd just like to be who I am and let it fall wherever it falls ... I do not want to be preaching fire and brimstone, get right or go to hell. I want people to listen to the music ... and feel what I felt when I recorded these songs."


 

From the Daily Times September 14, 2011

Soul man: East Tennessee’s Con Hunley brings his brew of country and R&B to the fair

By Steve Wildsmith stevew@thedailytimes.com

In a time before Internet, video games and hanging out at the mall, the Tennessee Valley Fair was a land of enchantment for East Tennessee young people.

Like the mysterious Scottish village in “Brigadoon,” it came to town for 10 days, filling the skies of East Knoxville with flashing neon lights, whip-saw rides of breakneck speed and the smells of hot grease, fried foods and spun sugar. It was an enchanting place that rivaled most holidays in terms of the reverence in which area children held it, and country star Con Hunley was no different.

He often had to earn his way into the fair — the 92nd version of which runs through this weekend — but he always had fun.

“It was probably, but to a lesser degree, a lot like Christmas,” Hunley told The Daily Times this week. “It was a real big deal for kids to get to go. The rides and the games and the animals — it was just a great, festive time, and if you had a lot of brothers and sisters, that even made it better.”

As his music career started to take off, the fair lost none of its charm for the Central High School graduate, he added.

“I remember playing at the old WIVK tent, behind the old Jacob’s Building,” Hunley said. “It was hot and sweaty, and I remember playing there for the first time, where all the country stars had played, and I remember thinking, ‘I’ve made the big time.’”

Country music would take him to places much bigger and more lavish than that old tent, and as time went on, it would grind Hunley beneath its metaphorical cowboy boots as well. These days, however, he’s older, wiser and more content than he ever was back in the days when his name was synonymous with chart success.

And he’s even come full circle. Saturday night, he’ll perform at the Homer Hamilton Amphitheatre at the fair as one of the nightly headline entertainers. And because it’s for a hometown crowd, it’s even more of an honor, he said.

“To be able to go back and play the fair on that Saturday night slot — and I’ve played it several years in succession now — is great,” he said. “I’m grateful to be invited back every year.”

Born and raised in Fountain City, Hunley grew up singing gospel music in church, and when he was 9, his parents bought him a guitar for Christmas and taught him basic chords and a few simple songs. Although he taught himself how to play thumb-style in the tradition of Chet Atkins, he took to the piano his folks bought for his sister a few years later, and he taught himself to play the Ray Charles hit “What’d I Say.”

It was the R&B music of Charles that had the biggest impact on Hunley’s burgeoning interest in music, and it would stay with him throughout his career. He gradually started playing around Knoxville in 1964 before joining the Air Force a year later. During his service, he learned a trade, was shuffled around the country and played with other soldier-musicians before returning home to Knoxville in 1968.

Shortly thereafter, he began his fabled association with The Corner Lounge on North Central Street in Knoxville, playing there for tips and building a growing fan base over the next 10 years. In 1975, he went to Nashville, where he was paired with ace session musicians to cut a few songs. One of them, “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” received national airplay, and when hometown radio station WIVK-FM asked him participate in a celebrity golf tournament, Hunley found himself on stage in front of fellow musicians and golfers.

He only sang two songs, but within the next couple of weeks, he had five offers from various labels. He eventually signed with Warner Bros. Records and began charting a string of hits, including “What’s New With You,” “Oh Girl,” “You’ve Still Got a Place in My Heart” and others. He toured with the Oak Ridge Boys, Alabama and Tammy Wynette, and during that period he was nominated for both Male Vocalist of the Year and Newcomer of the Year by both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association.

But clashes with a certain label executive led to his ouster from country music radio. The year was 1986, and the song was “What Am I Gonna Do About You” — a song that had the potential to be the biggest of Hunley’s career. It ended up peaking at No. 48 before Capitol Records put the brakes on promoting it, and even then it didn’t go off the charts without a fight.

“The bottom fell out of everything at Capitol (his label at the time), and they tried to kill it, but radio wouldn’t let it die,” Hunley said. “Then Reba went in and cut it, and she had a monster hit with it.”

Reba’s version went to No. 1; Hunley packed it up and came back home to East Tennessee. He built a dry-cleaning chain with his brother, got involved in charity work and eventually kicked an alcohol habit that had gotten out of hand. After years of fielding fan inquiries for more music, got back into the studio a decade ago. His comeback album, “Sweet Memories,” was released in 2004. It was greeted with warm reviews (Country Music Television picked it as one of the network’s Top 10 CDs of 2004), as was “Shoot From the Heart,” which came out in 2006.

Earlier this year, Hunley released “Lost and Found: The MCA/Capitol Years,” re-recorded versions of songs he originally cut for those two labels in the 1980s. It a joint effort by Hunley and his long-time producer Norro Wilson, and his blue-eyed country soul sound is in full command of every track, serving as vindication for a voice that should have been one of the biggest to come out of the mid-1980s country movement.

“It’s more or less a validation of the songs I was recording for MCA and Capitol,” Hunley said. “They’re good songs — really good songs — but if you listen to the music, there was more that was going on with me than just the music.”

In addition to his version of “What Am I Gonna Do About You,” the album includes songs like “Satisfied Mind,” “Nobody Ever Gets Enough Love,” “I’d Rather Be Crazy Than Out of Her Mind” and “All American Country Boy,” the inspiration for which he attributes to his father, he said with a chuckle.

“Most of the songs I’ve done have been tilted toward the female audience, but my dad said to me one time, ‘When are you gonna do a hairy-legged country boy song?’” Hunley said. “It wasn’t long after that I got that song and cut it. When I do it live, it gets a great response. I loved all those songs back then, and I was really glad to have the opportunity to go back in and cut them.”

Already, he’s working on two follow-up records — his next country album, featuring songs co-written by Hunley, Nashville veteran Larry Shell and others; and a gospel CD of originals and old songs Hunley used to sing growing up in church.

These days, he said, it’s a blessing just to have the opportunity to sing. And to do so on Saturday night for a hometown crowd is even better — even if it is a little nerve-wracking.

“They know you better than anybody, and you want to do your best,” he said. “But I’ve always had a really great time singing at the fair. Everybody has been so kind to me, and they appreciate and enjoy the music — and that’s what it’s all about. I’ve been blessed to be able to keep my pipes and still be able to pick and grin and sing, and I’m very thankful for that.”


From the Knoxville News-Sentinel April 15, 2011

Con Hunley stands in front of his 1946 Ford Delux Sedan that is a source of pride and joy for the country music performer. (News Sentinel photo by Joe Howell)

Con Hunley is old school. His kind of country music comes from a time when R&B and country were sort of side by side. When Con plays piano it's with a debt to Ray Charles more than Floyd Cramer. And when he sings a song it always has elements of gospel and soul. There's also a depth that artists raised on "American Idol" or post-Garth Brooks country never achieve.

And if anyone ever counted him out, they didn't know him very well.

Sitting in the back room at Litton's in Fountain City, Con taps his fingers on his new CD, "Lost & Found: The MCA/Capitol Years." He recently re-recorded the music from a time when the industry had seemed to write him off.

Con was a Knoxville star before he released his first album on Warner Bros. Records in 1979. For the next several years he had a string of Top 20 country hits (including his iconic cover of "Oh Girl") and was nominated for Best New Artist in both the Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music Awards.

In 1982, at the urging of MCA executive Jim Foglesong and his friends the Oak Ridge Boys, Con signed with MCA Records.

"I was beating the bushes trying to find great songs for my first MCA album and everybody was excited," says Con.

Recordings were made and a few singles were released. In 1984, Jimmy Bowen was named head of the Nashville division of MCA.

"He put a halt on all production so he could review everything going on," says Con. "He didn't like what I was doing for some reason or maybe I didn't kiss his ring."

Suddenly, Con was out of a contract, but only until Foglesong was named head of Capitol Nashville and signed Hunley there.

Hunley was finding great songs, including "What In the World Am I Gonna Do About You?" It was released as a single.

"Radio fell in love with it," says Con.

Unbelievably, Bowen moved from MCA to Capitol. Foglesong was out again and Capitol pulled support for Con's single.

"They tried to kill it, but they couldn't," says Con.

With no support, the single never rose into the Top 40, but radio continued to play it for three months. Still, Con was dropped from Capitol in 1986. The following year, Reba McEntire took "What In the World" to No. 1.

"When I left Capitol I was absolutely devastated," says Con. "I kept thinking 'I've got a good track record, a lot of people like my style and my stuff. This is not the end."

When two years passed and Con still hadn't gotten another contract, though, he felt like it was.

"That's all I had done all my life, and I felt like 'It's over.' You question what your purpose is. I thought 'I've got nothing and nowhere to go.'"

It was a dark period that lasted for years. He didn't record. He rarely performed, and he tried to drown his sorrows in "various and sundry liquids."

"I used to plan my day around who I could drink with when," he says.

It wasn't until August 2000, a few months after the death of his mother and a time that he felt he'd hit rock bottom, that Con decided to change his life. He entered a program to overcome his alcoholism, and it worked.

"The sun has seemed to shine a little brighter every day since then," he says. "I haven't had a drink in 11 years. I had a good time and I enjoyed it and I paid dearly for some of the mistakes I made during that time. It's not something I fight. It's just gone."

And friends were ready for his return. Famed East Tennessee songwriter Dean Dillon had songs ready and tried to help Con get a new recording contract. As much as the people who heard the music loved it, they all decided Con was too old to take a chance on.

In 2004, Con decided to record an album without the major labels. He, his brother and some friends started IMMI Records and released "Sweet Memories." It was a critical hit and longtime fans were ecstatic. He also found that he could get airplay on small country radio stations that still played classic country music. And, fans all over the world were finding him on the Internet.

And he isn't taking anything for granted. He keeps up with fans on his website. When fans and friends emailed him birthday wishes recently, he answered all 2,000 of them.

"When I get emails and people tell me 'I had some tough times and your music helped me through it,' that means the world to me."

After lunch, Con and I sit in a car and listened to his take on the classic folk song "Wayfaring Stranger," which will be included on an upcoming gospel album. There is no doubt that the singer feels the song. It's as if he's pouring out his heart in every line.

His voice is even better than it was when he was having hits on the radio.

"I'm enjoying it now more than I ever have," he says. "It's not about spotlights and glamour. It's about heart and soul. I still sing all the old songs in the same key I always did. People tell me I'm singing better now than I ever have. It could be that with all the ups and downs there's more meaning to me."

Wayne Bledsoe may be reached at 865-342-6444 or bledsoew@knoxville.com. He is also the host of "All Over the Road" midnight Saturdays to 4 a.m. Sundays on WDVX-FM.


From the Knoxville News-Sentinel

Ma 'Dell'

Entertainer shares nourishing memories of mom, her meals

By MARY CONSTANTINE, constantine@knews.com
May 10, 2006

Clodell HunleyFaith, family, food and music have been constants in Con Hunley's life. They have molded him into the man he is today.

His love of music has provided the singer-songwriter a livelihood, while his faith and family have been unwavering during good times and bad.

His mother, the late Priscilla "Dell" Clodell, gave him the nourishment he needed, through the meals she prepared and the values she held fast.

"We always invited someone home from church and there was always a feast," he said. "She could throw a meal on the table in an hour's time and make you think someone had spent all day cooking it.

"She made beans and corn bread, fried potatoes, coleslaw, buttermilk chocolate cake, fried okra, green beans, sliced tomatoes, sliced onions and kilt lettuce."

He said his family wasn't wealthy but made do. "We never had high-price cuts of meat. We would have fried chicken or what they called cube steak, and she could fix it to where it was just delicious," he said.

A garden they tended in their back yard and harvest from their neighbors' gardens helped supplement their meals. "Someone in the neighborhood always had too much. They would pass it around. They gave it to everybody," he said.

One of his favorite items was his mother's biscuits. She made the "best biscuits in the world" and would make homemade syrup from sugar and water to serve with them.

She encouraged her children to clean their plates, and with six children in the family, there was little left. "We weren't very wasteful. We had to stretch, but we always had plenty to eat. We never went hungry," he said.

His mother had a "God-given knack to make friends," and she was always prepared to feed anyone who visited.

"Anytime anyone would come to Mom's house, she would say, 'Are you hungry?' I think she thought that everybody who showed up at her house was hungry," he said, laughing.

Once her children were grown, her nurturing instinct turned to her grandchildren, whom she enjoyed cooking for. "They were jammed-up and jelly-tight. They loved each other, and whatever they wanted, she would make for them," he said.

He described his mother as determined, "not afraid to talk to anybody," with a wonderful personality and very talented. "She had a huge number of friends," he said.

He hopes his daughter Brittany has acquired his mother's determination and ability to make friends. "She had a sixth sense about people. She could tell if they were real or not. I hope Brittany can pick up on that," he said.

He shares his mother's recipes for pinto beans, corn bread and buttermilk chocolate cake.

Pinto beans

2 pounds pinto beans (dry)

1 tablespoon salt

3-31/2 quarts water

2-3 ounces salt pork

Look through beans; remove all half beans or rocks that sometimes are packaged with dry beans. Put in 4-quart pot and fill with water. Rinse beans and wash one more time. Then fill pot with 3-31/2 quarts of water, add salt and place on stove on medium high.

Let beans come to boil, uncovered, for approximately 20-25 minutes. Add more water, covering at least 1-2 inches above beans. Turn heat down to medium, and let cook for approximately 1-11/2 hours; add water as needed. Turn heat to medium low and add salt pork. Let cook 15-20 minutes, until beans are tender. Add salt as needed for taste. Serves 6-8.

Corn bread

2 - 2 1/2 tablespoons bacon drippings

3 cups self-rising cornmeal

2 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1/2-1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put 10-inch cast-iron skillet on eye of stove, and on medium-low heat melt 2 1/2 tablespoons bacon drippings. Be careful not to let it burn.

In 2-quart mixing bowl, add cornmeal, eggs, sugar, salt, buttermilk and as much milk as needed to have a good blend of ingredients. Pour most of the melted bacon drippings into the mixture, leaving some in the skillet to crisp the bottom of the bread.

Pour mixture into skillet and place back on stove, on medium heat, 2-4 minutes, until mixture bubbles just a little. Place on medium rack of oven and cook 30-40 minutes, until brown on top.

Serves 6-8.

Buttermilk chocolate cake

CAKE

2 sticks butter

4 tablespoons cocoa

1 cup water

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 cups self-rising flour

2 cups white sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

TOPPING

1 stick butter, melted

4 tablespoons cocoa

5 tablespoons buttermilk

1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In saucepan, mix butter, cocoa, water and buttermilk. Bring to boil and then let rest. Mix flour and sugar in mixing bowl. Combine with buttermilk mixture. Add eggs and vanilla and blend well. Stir until combined, and then pour into greased 9-inch-by-11-inch cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool.

To prepare topping, melt butter in saucepan. Add cocoa and buttermilk. Bring to boil. Remove from heat and add powdered sugar, vanilla and walnuts. Mix together and spread on top of cake.

Copyright 2006, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.


Free Concert in Market Square Features Country Music Star Con Hunley

The soulful sounds of Con Hunley will be echoing through the streets of downtown Knoxville on Saturday night, and you won't want to miss the Dogwood Arts Festival's most popular and most fun outdoor event!

Con Hunley and his band are the featured performers in this year's Dogwood Arts Concert on Market Square in downtown Knoxville on Saturday, April 22nd, following the Dogwood Arts parade. An up and coming female duo from Nashville, Bomshel, opens the show, and Con will take the stage around 7:00 pm.

The theme for this year's Dogwood Arts Festival parade is "Celebrate Freedom" and thousands of returning soldiers and their families will participate in the parade. The concert will begin in Market Square Mall immediately following the parade. Seating is very limited, so you may wish to bring a chair. There will be plenty of food and crafts vendors available in and around Market Square.

Hunley will be performing some old favorites as well as several new songs from his recently released CD, Shoot From The Heart. The CD is available locally at Cat's Records, the Disc Exchange, Ernest Tubb Records, Wal-Mart and on-line at conhunley.com. For a limited time, IMMI Records is offering a free download of "Just Like Old Times" from Shoot From The Heart to visitors to the conhunley.com web site.

"Knoxville is my home, and it's great to perform for the hometown crowd," Hunley said in a recent interview. He added, "It's always a thrill to participate in the Dogwood Arts Festival events, and I'm especially honored to perform this year for our heros in the armed forces and their families."

The concert is presented by WIVK-FM and IMMI Records.


From the Nashville City Paper

Spin Factor
By Ron Wynn, rwynn@nashvillecitypaper.com
February 14, 2006

Con Hunley
Shoot From The Heart
(IMMI)

Expressive, heartfelt ballads have always been a major part of the country canon, but there’s also a fine line between empathetic statement and overly maudlin fare. Con Hunley shows on such numbers as “Deep In The Arms Of Texas,” “I Can’t Make It Alone” and “Just Like Old Times” how to communicate and present romantic thoughts, tender feelings, and sentimental testimony without becoming melodramatic or ineffective. He also delves into uptempo territory at times, particularly on “That Old Clock,” and delivers a solid tribute to longtime idol Ray Charles with a fine rendition of “Georgia On My Mind.” With a string of outstanding songs provided by a cross-section of venerable and contemporary songwriters, Con Hunley is in top form on Shoot From The Heart.

Copyright 2006 The City Paper, LLC


From the bridgeworks

Soundcheck
by Bill Littleton
February 2006

Con Hunley - Shoot From The Heart - IMMI Records

Well, Ole Con is back in full abundance -- we recently got a CD update of his very first album from "way back" and now here's some new material. The music endeavor has always had a few folks who fit nowhere and everywhere, almost to the point that they are genres within themselves. If anybody fits that description as well as Sonny James, it's Con Hunley, who obviously got to where he is listening to a lot of different things but never losing himself. His pairing with producer Norro Wilson is appropriate, as the same description applies there. Combined with a tremendous slate of pickers and a vocal group that is comprised of two brothers and a sister of Con's, we have a powerhouse. Oh, yeah ... the songs. The songs may be the strongest reflection of his country music influence, as they bounce around the emotional scale like pingpong balls in an earthquake. Larry Bastion's "I Can See You With My Eyes Closed" gets my vote for radio play where such matters are still decided by real music people, but anything on here would work. "Why Me Lord," especially, has a dramatic touch that your heart could just be ready for.

Copyright 2006 Uncle Willam's Place


From the Kentucky Advocate

Tuesday February 14, 2006

30-year-old song by Gravel Switch woman finally released

By JENNIFER BRUMMETT
jenb@amnews.com

It might have languished for 30 years, but the song Jeanne Lane penned back in the 1970s finally has been released. What's more, it's on two recordings.

The song, titled "Look At Me Loving You Again," is on two Con Hunley recordings. It was written by Lane, of Penn's Store and Outhouse Blowout fame, in early 1974. She re-arranged it in 1975 with her co-writer, Kelly Bach, who died in 2001. It was recorded in 1976 by then-rising country music star Hunley, who Lane describes as a "country-rhythm and blues singer."

Then, "the master was kept under lock and key by producer Larry Morton," Lane says. Changing producers and labels led to the song being shelved for years, she adds.

"It has to go in the Guinness Book of (World) Records for sitting on the shelf," Lane notes.

On Jan. 10, "Look At Me Loving You Again" was released on Hunley's latest album by Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee and famed producer Norro Wilson. That recording is called "Shoot From The Heart."

The song, in its "original production," Lane explains, also was released by producer Larry Morton on Hunley's "The First Time from Studio B" album.

Lane says the song itself came from a friend talking about her romantic woes.

Stroke of good fortune

"A friend of mine at the time- this was early 1974 - was relating her romantic woes and made the comment, 'Hey, look at me, loving him again.' And, I thought, 'Wow! Now, there's a song!' So I wrote it," Lane explains. "It had a melody I was not quite thrilled about, though, so I stored it away.

"Then everything began happening. I met Kelly Bach that summer and we began writing together. By autumn, I signed a songwriters contract with 4 Star Music of Nashville and Hollywood, as did Kelly. One of our songs was picked as the new single for Jerry Wallace - his hits included 'Primrose Lane,' 'In The Misty Moonlight,' 'To Get To You,' and 'Release Me' - and also was chosen as the title song for his album."

The stroke of good fortune didn't stop with Wallace.

"Jimmy Elledge, who released 'Ain't It Funny How Time Slips Away,' of Willie Nelson fame, was releasing another one of our songs, 'One By One," Lane says. "I also did some writing with another lady and one of our songs had just been recorded. I also was doing demo work with Lee Martell, a friend of Jimi Hendrix's bass player, Billy Cox. So, by early 1975, things were really busy - I was writing a lot and doing demos.

"Our Wallace cut, 'Coming Home to You' was making its way up the charts - it went to either 38 or 40 on Billboard - the album was doing great, and "One By One" had come on the charts. I never thought about the song I had written a year earlier until one night at dinner with Martell, Kelly, and some others.

"Billy Cox stopped by the table. Somehow the conversation came around to old songs written, and I happened to remember then that song I had written. I told them a little about it, and when they asked to hear some of it, I did the first couple lines. Everyone said 'Wow!' They thought it was great."

Song was reborn

Lane says Bach wanted to work on it with her. Her original title was changed, as were some words and music. Then the song was born - or reborn.

Lane was in Nashville Jan. 19 at a release party for "Shoot From The Heart." She loves that the song is coming out of obscurity now.

"It is truly amazing," says Lane. "To have the same song on two albums at the same time - one production from 1976 and the other from 2006. Even more amazing, it took 30 years.

"All of us along the way connected with the song have always believed in it, though. And there's no one else I would rather have sing that song than Con. I know Kelly would say the same if he were here. Con Hunley is one of the greatest voices on the planet today."

She isn't sure exactly what the release of this song will mean to or for her.

"It's bringing back a songwriting career - maybe," she says. "Dawn and I have been doing some things together. ... We'll just see where it takes us."

The recordings are for sale at Penn's Store in Gravel Switch, as well as larger music stores.

Copyright The Advocate-Messenger 2006


From the International Country Music Database

Shoot From the Heart

Con Hunley

IMMI Records

* * * * (out of 5)

If you're new to country music, the name Con Hunley may not be familiar to you, but make no mistake, this artist is no johnny-come-lately. Con had a string of hits in the 70s and 80s and then walked away from the industry. However, music never left him and by the 90s, he was performing again, locally and at celebrity golf tournaments. In 2004, Con released his comeback album, Sweet Memories, to critical acclaim. Now, he's following up that success with his new album, Shoot From the Heart.

Shoot From the Heart is filled with strong, passionate, soulful ballads. Not only are the songs excellent choices for Con, he infuses each song with enough emotion for you to feel that emotion. While there is no doubt this album is country, steel guitar is heard clearly throughout the album, there are also other influences on this album. From a southwestern flair, to a pop feel, to Gospel, to Soul, this album is a great blend of musical styles.

Although most of the songs on this CD are excellent, there are a few that stand out. “I Can't Make It Alone” starts off emotionally restrained but at the chorus the heart-wrenching truth in the words comes on strong. He walked away from the woman that he needed and now he knows he was wrong, but it's too late. The song builds to a crescendo of emotion only to return to a restrained acceptance. Con's tribute to Ray Charles, “Georgia on my Mind,” is a fitting tribute, indeed. Managing to keep the song true to Ray's version, Con also managed to put his own style to it. You can bet Ray would be very pleased with this rendition of his classic song. “That Old Clock,” is three minutes of rollicking good fun. The strong piano presence gives the song an old-time rock and roll feel. Although Con does a great ballad, he can belt out the rockers and should put a couple more on his next album.

Shoot From the Heart is a definite pleasure. With strong songs and Con's vocal skill, you can't go wrong. Whether you're a long time fan or just now discovering Con, this is an album to add to your collection.

© 2006 Mary L. Duval, all rights reserved


From Pat Jenkins, WXLZ FM, Lebanon, VA

I have been listening to Con's new cd for the past couple of days. Wow!!! After "Sweet Memories", I wasn't sure what to expect, but, Con has absolutely blown everyone away with "Shoot From The Heart". Honestly, I believe his vocals are just getting better and better. Incredible power and range, but, with such feeling. If the truth be told, Con's is a voice with heart. When he sings a song, you can believe it.

Here are some of my favorite tracks. The first being the title track, particularly when he sings about that old Stella guitar. I think we have all had that guitar at some time or other. Another one that gets to me is "The Keys". Somewhere along the line, each of us has been handed the keys, whether it was from one of our parents or grandparents or whoever happened to be taking care of you in those teen years. Those are the keys that open life's lessons. This is a real winner from the pens of Hank Cochran, Dean Dillon and Dale Dodson. But, after listening to all of the great songs on here several times, I keep going back to Con's tribute to Ray, with "Georgia On My Mind". An absolute stellar performance!!!

And I have to mention one other thing, that being the great instrumentation on this project. It is top notch all of the way, particularly the steel playing of my buddy, John Hughey.

After you listen to this new cd of Con Hunley's, you will agree, too, that it is his best, yet. "Shoot From The Heart", Con Hunley.


From the Fountain City Focus, 01-30-06

Con Hunley, WIVK, IMMI Records and Litton's Restaurant Host Contest Winners

By Charmin Foth

Litton's Restaurant, a Fountain City landmark, was the scene for Con Hunley's 'Shoot from the Heart' CD release and contest party. WIVK, IMMI Records and Litton's Restaurant hosted the evening's events for about 40 people, including 20 lucky WIVK listeners who won the opportunity to have dinner with Con and a preview of the CD with an intimate concert.

The worldwide radio debut of "Shoot From The Heart" took place January 10th on the prime-time show "The Ride," hosted by popular WIVK radio personality, Gunner. During the one-hour broadcast, Con and Gunner talked about the project, played selections from the CD and took live callers. The phone lines remained busy with hundreds of fans hoping for the opportunity to speak with Con throughout the entire interview.

Before dinner, fans were able to talk with Con about the new release and old times. Litton's, home of the best burger in Knoxville, treated Con's guests like royalty and Litton's back room was the setting for a wonderful night of music. Con played the heart-touching songs "I Can't Make It Alone" and "Hollow Man" from his new release, but the crowning moment of the evening came when he received a standing ovation with his tribute to Ray Charles' "Georgia On My Mind."

After the concert, IMMI Records gave out "goodie bags" with a copy of the "Shoot from the Heart" CD and fans had the opportunity to get photos and autographs. Con wrapped up the evening by thanking everyone for their support of his latest release.

Mike Hammond of WIVK radio said, "Con has always been very special to WIVK and his music has always been great, but this latest release has surpassed anything he's released before." It has been one of the best selling CD's at Cat's Music in the last couple of weeks. Besides Cat's Records, the CD is also available at your local Wal-Mart, Ernest Tubb Records and the Disc Exchange and can be ordered online from conhunley.com or immirecords.com.


From the "News Briefs" section of the CMT.com web site

Con Hunley Previews Album at BMI Party
Fri. January 20.2006 6:26 PM EST

Con Hunley performed samples from his new Immi Records album, Shoot From the Heart, at a reception held Thursday (Jan. 19) at BMI's Nashville offices. Known for such soulful country hits as "Weekend Friend," "What's New With You" and "No Relief in Sight," the silver-haired singer treated the crowd to a three-song set that concluded with his tribute to Ray Charles, "Georgia On My Mind." Among the throng of well-wishers was Hunley's producer, Norro Wilson, award-winning songwriter Kim Williams and Country Music Hall of Famer Bill Anderson.


Bledsoe: Con Hunley pours his heart into latest disc - from the Knoxville News-Sentinel
By WAYNE BLEDSOE, bledsoe@knews.com
January 15, 2006

When Knoxville's Con Hunley released a new album in 2004, it surprised a lot of people. "Anybody else would've just retired, but this is what I do," says Hunley over lunch at Litton's in Fountain City. "And as long as I can do it, why not?"

The reaction to the disc, "Sweet Memories" (Hunley's first album in more than 20 years), was wildly enthusiastic. Critics, including Billboard's Deborah Price, Music Row magazine's Robert K. Oermann and CMT's Edward Morris, praised the disc, and Hunley made appearances on CMT, GAC, XM Satellite radio and radio stations across the nation. E-mail from longtime fans began pouring in from all over the country, and the independently released disc (on IMMI Records) began selling online and at Wal-Mart stores. A single from the album, "She Ain't You," earned respectable play on independent country stations and became a bona fide "beach hit" on the Carolina coast. It seemed that fans were all just waiting for Hunley to return.

"When that record came out, I was hoping it would be well-received and hoping that if it wasn't that I'd be strong enough to handle it," says Hunley. "When the feedback started coming back, it was a real surprise and a real blessing."

Hunley definitely needed the encouragement. During the recording and release of the disc, he had overcome a longtime alcohol problem and had to deal with the deaths of his parents.

Yet it probably shouldn't have been such a surprise how the album was received. Hunley's voice and vocal instincts had only improved with age. His sound was steeped in classic honky-tonk and rhythm and blues - styles too-long absent from the airwaves. And in a time when much country music seems to be designed by marketing departments, Hunley sounded like a true individualist.

"All these people classify me as a stylist," says Hunley. "I don't just sing a song like other people. I don't feel it the same way."

His new album, "Shoot From the Heart," is no different. Once again, Hunley teamed up with legendary producer Norro Wilson (who helmed Hunley's first disc, in 1978) along with some of Nashville's best veteran session musicians. He also recorded in analog, rather than digital, believing that the medium has a warmer sound.

He chose songs that meant something to him - not because they were the correct drive-time tempo. He co-wrote several songs on the disc with songwriting greats, including Kim Williams, Larry Shell and Mountain Heart's Steve Gulley. And songwriter Larry Bastian had actually written the song "I Can See You With My Eyes Closed" for Hunley in 1983. During Hunley's absence from recording, Bastian hadn't pitched the song to another singer.

"He told me, 'I heard you were doing a CD, and I had to get it to you,'" says Hunley.

Williams, Gully and Shell wrote the song "Hollow Man."

"It's about recovery," says Hunley. "Having everything in the world and being empty inside. There's a spiritual message at the end."

A much older song, Kris Kristofferson's "Why Me," provides the coda to the disc.

Hunley was actually encouraged to sing the song by gospel great Bill Gaither. Gaither and his wife, Gloria, invited Hunley to a small gathering on a houseboat, which happened to be equipped with an electric piano.

"Bill said, 'I want to sing you my favorite gospel song,' and he sang 'Why me, Lord,'" Hunley says.

Gaither then asked Hunley to sing along and changed the key to accommodate Hunley's voice.

"I sang it, and then I looked around and everybody was crying. Bill was playing piano beside me, and I saw he had tears going down his cheeks. That experience really struck me."

Hunley says he made a vow after his mother died to include one gospel song dedicated to his mother on any new album he recorded.

If audiences didn't like Hunley's new album, it wouldn't be because they found it to be insincere.

"It's heartfelt, and it's honest," says Hunley. Unlike most modern singers, he refuses to augment his voice with any technological sweetening - something that the artists he has always admired would appreciate.

"When Ray Charles sang a song, it was from the depth of his soul," says Hunley. "You believed it. Same with George Jones. They sang and played from their souls."

There's little doubt that "Shoot From the Heart" is as appropriate an album title as Hunley could've chosen.

Wayne Bledsoe may be reached at 865-342-6444 or bledsoe@knews.com. He is also the alternating host of "All Over the Road" midnight Saturdays to 4 a.m. Sundays on WDVX-FM.


AngryCountry.com Interview - AngryCountry.com

The AngryCountry.com Interview: Con Hunley

By Christine Bohorfoush

For those of our readers who are younger and new to country music, the name Con Hunley may not be familiar. But Con is no stranger to the country music scene. In the 70s and 80s, he had numerous hit singles including his biggest "Oh Girl" recorded in 1982. During that time, he was touring with various artists including George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Alabama, The Gatlin Brothers, The Oak Ridge Boys and others. In 1984, Con went with Capital Records. One of his recordings for them, "What Am I Going to Do About You," was a hit and one of twenty of his songs that made the top ten on the charts. It stayed on the charts for fifty-eight consecutive weeks. It was during these years that Con was nominated for Male Vocalist of the Year and Newcomer of the Year by ACM and CMA.

Con has played in venues large and small and still loves to perform more than just about anything. He has an active tour schedule and does appearances between recording sessions. He has continued to participate in charity golf tournaments, which makes the circle complete since his recording career was launched during the Acuff-Rose Tournament in Nashville. His latest project is a marriage of the old and new. He and Norro Wilson, his first producer at Warner Brothers Records, kept in touch and began talking about another project a few years ago. "We decided to do a new album, Sweet Memories, and enlisted the top musicians in Nashville," Con says.

After Con Hunley was brought to the attention of AngryCountry and upon reviewing his new album, I was so impressed with his soulful voice and the return to true traditional storytelling songs that Sweet Memories brought, I knew that I wanted to reintroduce Con to our readers and ask the questions that both his fans, old and new, wanted to ask of him.

*****************************************************************************

Christine: Con, as one of six children, I understand that your first entrance into the world of music was singing gospel songs at church with your family... could you tell our readers more about this?

Con: Well, you know, Christine, for a number of years I thought that everybody played some instrument and sang. From the time that I was born, I was surrounded by that... all my aunts and uncles, on both sides of my family, on my mother's and father's side, all played and sang. And there were people in the neighborhood who played and sang. Of course, at that time a lot of the relatives kind of lived close. So I thought that everybody played and sang. There was a number of years before I realized that this wasn't really the case. They both inspired me to want to play; and of course, the early beginnings was in church. My grandfather on my mother's side was a preacher in a Church of God, and from a early time my mother always sang in church as well as with her brothers and sisters... they sang harmony and were very talented. And so when I was born, there was just me and my sister, Beth, for a while and then my brother, Steve, came along. We were all encouraged to sing and to sing gospel music and we did. Then I learned to play guitar; I remember that I got an old used Stella guitar when I was like nine years old... I think it was a Christmas present. I drug that thing around the house and they taught me chord patterns and several songs. Actually at the time, my hands were too small to really make the chords, but I managed to learn some simple songs. That's really the early beginnings... it was just family.

Christine: Well, you first taught yourself to play guitar by ear and learned Ray Charles' "What'd I Say"... what was it about Ray Charles that so influenced you?

Con: My first hero... the first person whom I idolized musically... was Chet Atkins. I really wanted to be a thumb style guitar player. I worked on the thumb style playing and I used to listen to all of his albums. Back in the 60s, Ray Charles came out with the song "What'd I Say" and just the kick-off on the piano kind of reached out and grabbed me and I just loved it. Of course, I was a fan of Jerry Lee Lewis and I never really had thought much about learning to play piano. But when I heard the song, it just kind of set me on fire. During that time, my folks had bought an old used upright piano to give my sister, Beth, piano lessons... to be able to accompany the family group singing in church. So when my sister wasn't on the piano - and there was this local guy in the neighborhood who was teaching her how to read music - I was on the piano. You've heard of the old hunt and peck on the typewriter? That was sort of what I was doing on the piano. With the Ray Charles thing, I was doing my best to learn the intro and finally did and that is what really influenced me and that particular song. Of course, the more I became acquainted with Ray Charles' music, the more I enjoyed it and the more I appreciated it because it always seemed like he sang from the very pit of his soul and from his heart. It was always so inspired and it just touched me. I was a huge fan from the get-go!

Christine: In May of 1965, you joined the Air Force to learn a trade... could you tell our readers about your military experience?

Con: It was really a great experience... the draft was still in effect at that time and I was going to be drafted into the Army. I thought, 'Well, I'll just go ahead and join the Air Force because I thought that they had some great programs available as far as learning a trade.' I was always pretty mechanically inclined; I could fix things and figure things out from an early age. When I went into the Air Force, I went through basic training in Texas. I was shipped out to a base in Illinois for Air Training Command, so I went through tech school there. I made really good grades and it came pretty easy for me. And so after going through tech school, they pulled me out to become an instructor in what I had chosen as a career field... that was Aircraft Hydraulic and Pneumatic Systems. I taught that for two years at the Air Training Command in Illinois. That was during the Vietnam War and they needed technicians and mechanics and what have you. So they pulled me as an instructor and that is where I was for the better part of two years.

Christine: I understand that a golf tournament helped lead to a record deal in 1977 with Warner Brothers Records... could you explain more about how this came to be?

Con: Well, when I got out of the service, I spent a little time in California... I had a good friend that I was in the service with; he got shipped to Vietnam and I stayed in Illinois. Then I wound up in Castle Air Force Base in California. But he and I got out of the service about the same time and so I spent some time with he and his family in California. Anyway, I moved back to Tennessee and at that time I was into the music thing and tried to play as much as I could. But when I moved back home, I was kind of a stranger in my own town... I didn't know a lot of the people, especially musicians or anyone who was playing in a band. I started playing at a place called the Corner Lounge which was a Thursday night gig that I started doing just to be heard. And then there was a place called the Village Barn and I played there for quite some time. Just out of the clear blue a friend of mine at WIVK Radio, Bobby Denton, played every year in the Acuff-Rose Golf Tournament in Nashville. It just so happened that this particular year he asked me if I wanted to go with him to the golf tournament. I said, 'Sure.' He said, 'Well, I think that I can get you an invitation.' I love to golf! I wasn't great at it, but I love it and I enjoyed it; and I certainly enjoyed the music part of the tournaments. So anyway, I went down there and we played golf. Generally after golf, they have a little banquet and they give the awards. After that they generally have what they call "a guitar pulling" and it is like a big suite at a hotel and there is a number of songwriters, singers, pickers, and grinners in the room. We went there just to listen... I mean, I was just sitting there on the floor with my legs folded listening to all the great songs... Chet Atkins was in the room. They were passing the guitar around and people were doing new songs and old songs and songs they had written and all of this. Out of the blue, the guitar was sitting pretty close to me, having gone around and around the room. My friend, Bobby Denton, said, 'Well Con, why don't you sing one?' I thought, 'Oh my God.' It scared me to death... I mean, I was sitting there listening and very relaxed and suddenly the heat was turned on me and I'm sure my heart rate jumped to 160. (we laugh) As it turned out, I sang a couple of songs. I did not know it at the time, but there were a couple of people from Warner Brothers Records in the room. Everyone seemed to like what they had heard. I did not think about it much at the time, but about two weeks later Warner Brothers chartered a plane and flew to East Tennessee and brought a bunch of people in. I was playing at the Village Barn and they came out to hear me and the next thing you know, I got offered a contract. People ask me how it happened, and I said 'well, playing golf.' After Warner Brothers began pursuing me for a contract, I had offers from a total of five major labels in a matter of two weeks. It was unbelievable! I was almost overwhelmed by it all.

Christine: In the 70s and 80s, you recorded many hits to include your biggest "Oh Girl" and you were nominated for Male Vocalist of the Year and Newcomer of the Year... with so much success under your belt, what led you to leave country music behind? And why do you feel now is the right time to return to it?

Con: Well, Christine, I don't know if I left it or it left me or if it was a combination of both... but I had been with Warner Brothers for five years and I had some friends at MCA and they were wanting me to leave Warner Brothers and come to MCA because it was kind of a happening label in the country division. The Oak Ridge Boys were there and they were good friends of mine and I traveled with them a good bit. They sang back-up on the single of "Oh Girl." So we were great friends and they were with MCA. So I decided to leave Warner Brothers when my contract was up in '82. I signed with MCA and Jim Fogelsong was the head of the label at the time. After three or four months, we were kind of beating the bushes and looking for songs; and I had recorded three or four songs... we were probably three or four songs deep into an album. The next thing I know, Fogelsong is removed as the label head and they brought in a new label head and I wasn't going to be a part of their country division. That kind of knocked the legs out from under me, if you know what I mean. It is kind of tough...no label... no nothing... and nobody knocking on the door. As it turned out, Jim Fogelsong wound up at Capital Records after some months. When he went to Capital, he signed me to a contract there. The same thing happened there…we were three or four songs deep into an album... in fact, I had a song called "Quittin' Time," which is a pretty big airplay record. And I also had a song called "What in the World Am I Going to Do About You" that was on the charts for like fifty something weeks, ya know? Even after the same thing happened to me at Capital that had happened to me at MCA... the changes and stuff and I got let go... they could not kill the record. The record continued to play…radio loved it, and the people. After that happened, I thought 'Well, I really take a lot of pride in choosing really good songs... it just seemed like I was butting my head against the wall, so maybe it was best for me to just kind of pull away from it for a while and see what happens.' I really thought that I would get an offer from another label or something would pop up. Although I did not bang on the doors like I probably should have and as time goes by, the industry people forget about you. Once the industry forgets about you, it doesn't take long before the listening audience kind of forgets about you. As it turned out, I didn't have any recorded product for quite some time... probably eighteen years. Then this opportunity came up with IMMI Records and what is probably so nice about this situation is that I have creative control. I do not have to go before a board or a bunch of people who have never played... never sung... never been on a stage... and don't know the first thing about great country music. They may know marketing and they may know this that or the other from a corporate perspective, but they do not know much about the creative process, once you get into the studio. This situation here just offered me the right situation and I could not be happier. Although it has been a while, I am finding out that people really remember me and my style of music... God, the reviews and the response that we have been getting to the album is just been fantastic, Christine.

Christine: I can believe that, Con... in listening to the country music fans that AngryCountry comes in contact with every day, the fans are not being listened to. I repeatedly hear the questions like, What has happened to the real traditional country music?... the storytelling songs? Why are they jamming this "I Love This Bar" kind of music down country listeners’ throats constantly? Quality country music seems to have taken a back seat to the junk.

Con: Well, you know this is one of the things about the situation that I am in with IMMI Records... the music that I am making is real; it's about life and it is life. I saw a quote one time by Louis Armstrong; it read "What I play is life." Well, what I sing is life!

Christine: That is exactly what everyone out here who loves country music... why we love it; because it is songs that one can relate to.

Con: Absolutely! The kind of songs that I do... I don't cut songs that I cannot identify with or that don't speak to me. Ultimately, you can't sing something that you don't feel or don't believe. I am just real thankful and grateful for what is going on right now. I think there is going to be a trend more to what I am doing and what is going on with music right now. You know, I hate to use the term that Norro Wilson used, but you know, the term is "cookie cutter music."

Christine: (laughing hard) Norro must have taken that from our site.

Con: (laughing) He might have. He might have. You know, it is difficult to tell one artist from another... all the styles are the same... there is no individuality, which takes some of the believability out of all of it. We are just going to keep on doing what we are doing... we are going to sing from the heart and from the soul. We just want it to be real. That is what we did in the studio. I remember going into the studio when we were working on Sweet Memories, with some of the greatest musicians in Nashville... I said that what we are going to do here today is let you play what you feel. God, you talk about such a wonderful time in the studio; you could just tell that the guys were having a good time. They played licks that you probably would not hear on any other album because they were not trying to be commercial this or that; what they were being is real and what they were playing came from their hearts. We just had a wonderful time.

Christine: I think that the industry underrates the fans because they get it... they understand, as I do, that an artist always knows their music best and must have the freedom to make their music their way.

Con: Yes, and I want to tell you that with all that is going on and all the various outlets that there are musically for the fans... you can go directly to the fan's ear now. I think that the industry is going to have to say, Oops! Wait a minute, we cannot force this down the fans’ throats... they want this or they want that.

Christine: Having been away from country music for a number of years, what changes have you found with today's music industry? And with country radio?

Con: Having been away for as long as I have been away, it is difficult for me to get what they call major country radio airplay. What we are doing is working all of the markets; I mean we just aren't leaving any stone unturned. It is a little difficult, but with the Internet and all of the outlets that there are, we are probably in the best place that we could be right now as far as things being the way they are.

Christine: To follow up on that, will you be attending CRS (Country Radio Seminar) this year?

Con: I'm going to try to... I don't know exactly what my schedule is going to be. I do know that we are working on it, as we speak. We are going to do our best to be there.

Christine: After nearly a twenty year absence from recording, you have recently returned to IMMI Records to make your debut album Sweet Memories... reuniting with Producer Norro Wilson... could you tell our readers more about this?

Con: Actually how it came about is that a friend of mine who was with Capital Records, when I was over there, he was kind of helping with A and R... his name was Terry Chote. They were going to have the induction for Norro into the songwriters’ Hall of Fame in Nashville. And so Terry called me and he was kind of putting the thing together and they were going to not only induct Norro, but Buck Owens and two or three more. He called me and said, "You know, I think it would be a wonderful surprise and treat if you would come and do the huge hit that Norro had with Charlie Rich called "The Most Beautiful Girl." It would just be you and the piano and you'll be spotlighted and it will be a total surprise." I said that I thought it would be great, and so I went down and we had a little rehearsal... they had a couple of spots set up in the venue where people were going to perform the inductees’ songs. When it came time for Norro to be inducted, they put me on this circular stage and the spotlight panned over to me and I did "The Most Beautiful Girl in The World" and I looked around and Norro was crying like a baby. We had not seen each other in quite some time, we talked occasionally, but we had not seen each other in quite some time. It was just a real emotional time and there were a lot of industry people there. When it was all over, there were just a number of industry people who came to me and said, "Con, you need to be recording again. We miss your style, your voice, it is different and unique. You just need to be recording again." Of course, Norro was standing there and that's how one thing lead to another and how Sweet Memories came about. And of course with the help of Dean Dillion, who is a great friend of mine, he had some songs that I loved. In fact, one of the first songs that we cut is "A Chance," which Dean wrote with me in mind.

Christine: (laughing) Oh, that is my favorite cut from the Sweet Memories album.

Con: Well, at the time, we thought that we might be able to get a major label deal... but you know, it is all about the 27/27... you have to be 27 years old and have a 27 inch waist; they don't say anything about being able to sing. (he laughs)

Christine: Now wait a minute! You see, it is different for me... I'm not one of those who is gaga for Kenny Chesney or Toby Keith; they do not do a thing for me. I do not want to hear all about your latest experience in some bar or about lounging on the beach all day; sing me something that moves me and reaches in and touches my soul. I grew up listening to Motown... and there's a lot of difference in singing about some bar and having Smokey Robinson sing "O Baby Baby." Now that's what I'm talking about!

Con: (laughing) You know, all that old R and B stuff... well, I've always loved music - country or otherwise- that touches me. That is really how Sweet Memories came about; and of course, the IMMI Records situation and being an independent. We have had tremendous success with IMMI and the initial response to the album. I am just so thankful for everything, Christine… it's going really well. I mean, we aren't setting the woods on fire and probably won't go Platinum - you never know - but the response from the people who appreciate real country music has just been tremendous.

Christine: Con, I speak with country music fans every day and I know that this style of music is what they are yearning to have return to country music radio airwaves... the pure country storytelling songs. It is only the teeny bopper handful who is following these "flavor of the month" artists. They do not want the concerts with half-naked women on the stage and the rock show atmosphere. What the true country music fan continues to want is the artist that performs through sheer talent and songwriting ability. Unfortunately, what they are getting is what today's country radio and the industry is jamming down their throats.

Con: That is absolutely right! They make people believe that this is all that is out there. Well, guess what? That is not all that is out there. I think, more and more, you are going to find people doing what we are doing. And I think that you are going to find changes, and you already are seeing changes. There are so many what they call "classic radio stations" popping up every day. They are starting to play more of the older songs, I know that WIVK in Knoxville is. I think that they are beginning to get the message; I mean, good God how many times a day can you hear the same ten or twelve records? I also think that there is a whole country music listener audience that is being ignored.

Christine: I think that more and more of the artists are also returning or fighting to continue to record more traditional country music stylings.

Con: Absolutely right! The artists want to go back to where they have creative control... they do not want to have somebody sitting there who is twenty-six or thirty years old who has never been on stage or played an instrument in their life trying to tell them what to do, ya know? Music by community; well, that is a crock! It is just not how it goes.

Christine: I understand that Sweet Memories is also an album that you dedicated to your Mom (Priscilla) who passed away in 1999... could you tell us about why the song "Amazing Grace," for example, from the album meant so much to her?

Con: As I mentioned early, Christine, my early influence and background was in gospel. It was church oriented and very spiritual. Mom had a great deal to do with my early musical beginnings and she had a number of songs that she absolutely loved. I did a little theatre thing for a while in Pigeon Forge and she and Dad used to come up and see the show. I would do the Mickey Newberry thing "Sweet Memories" and you could tell that it took her back when she listened to the song. It took her back, I am sure, to the days when she was young or when she was newly married and when we were young. I could just tell that she got lost in the song. She would tell me every time how much she loved the song. In the process of doing this project, I decided that I would dedicate it to her memory because she meant so much to me and she was so influential in my early musical beginnings. I worked up a version of "Amazing Grace" and she loved it, so I thought that I would do those two songs and dedicate the entire project to her memory. I remember going into the studio with the guys and we had some time left... "Amazing Grace" was kind of almost an afterthought for the album. We had already done "Sweet Memories" and I was talking to Norro and some of the guys had already unplugged in the studio. And Norro said, "You want to do that?" because I had already told him that I wanted to do "Amazing Grace." I didn't know how it would be received or what the guys would think about it, ya know? But Norro said, "Hey boys, before we take off, let’s do "Amazing Grace" right quick... Con's got his own version of it and let’s do it right quick." Well, I sat down at the piano and started playing it and everyone began to plug back in and get into their parts.

Christine: Isn't it funny how you can always feel when a song begins to touch you and others?

Con: Well, you know what happened? When we began to play "Amazing Grace," I betcha we played it for twenty minutes. They did not want to quit; it was such an inspirational thing... you could just feel it. I mean, there was just chills on me and there was definitely something going on in the studio when we recorded it. I remember that George Clinton, who was the engineer…their light went off and we continued to play. There was just something magical about the song and I am real tickled with the way it all turned out.

Christine: With two singles from the album doing well on the charts "Only Time Will Tell" and the remake of Bill Anderson's "Still"... do you have plans to tour in promotion of the new album?

Con: Oh, absolutely! In fact while I am in Nashville, I am going to try and get some booking agents and we are going to start trying to get out there.

Christine: (laughing) Great! Because I want to be there for one of your concerts.

Con: (laughing) Well, I definitely want to do that... when I was out working on the road before, we stayed out there quite a bit. It was fun to me; that's the part of it that I absolutely loved…when you can go and connect with those people who listen to you and who buy your records and you have a personal connection with. It is great to sit there and listen to them sing along or they close their eyes and kind of move back and forth with the music; that is a wonderful feeling!

Christine: While you are in Nashville, it is said that you will be taping Bill Cody's GAC Classic Country TV Show to air on February 9th... could you tell our readers more about this?

Con: Well, Bill Cody and I have been friends for quite a long time. He has been very supportive of me since really we went in and did three or four sides on this particular project. I took it to him, right off the bat, and he played it on SM right off the bat. He and I have really established a great friendship and he is a believer in what we do. He has just been really kind to us, so to go in and spend time with him on GAC is great. He is very knowledgeable, and like I said, he believes in what we are doing.

Christine: You so enjoyed being back in the studio that it is said you are already looking forward to future projects... what is next for Con Hunley?

Con: Initially, Christine, we were talking about maybe cherry picking some of the old stuff... the old Warner Brothers/ Capital stuff and doing maybe a "Best of Con Hunley" and putting maybe three or four new songs on the CD. As it has turned out, it looks like we are going to get access to the old stuff, so I know that we are probably going to wind up with the old stuff at Warner Brothers... and we are trying to work out a licensing arrangement with MCA/Capital to get the old stuff over there and to go ahead and bring it over to IMMI. If that does not happen, we will cherry pick the albums and bring some of the hit songs and go back into the studio and re-record them and then do three or four new songs. And if that does not happen, then we are pretty much going to do what we did this time with Sweet Memories... we will pick out great songs that I have done over the years that I have never recorded and some new material and will probably go back into the studio some time in June or July. I am really looking forward to another project; I have mentioned it to Norro and of course, he is chomping at the bit. There will be other projects coming from IMMI and from Con Hunley.

Christine: We have a signature question that we like to ask each artist that we speak with... what is the one thing that your fans would be most surprised to know about you?

Con: Hmmm, I don't really know. And of course, they already know that I like to golf. I am somewhat of a mechanic... I have a couple of old cars and I like to tinker with them. They might be surprised to know that I like to get out the old mechanic's toolbox every once in a while and work on my own cars.

Christine: And finally, is there anything else that you would like to say to your fans and to our readers?

Con: Well, I would just like to say that I am very thankful and grateful for what is going on. I want them to stay tuned and stay with me; we have more music coming.

Copyright 2005 AngryCountry.com


Music Row Cover Music Row Cover

2005 Indie Label Special Issue

Featured Artist
Con Hunley

Label: IMMI Records

No stranger to success in the record industry, Con Hunley has had over 20 top ten hits in his career and was a major-label recording artist for Warner Bros., MCA, and Capitol, during the ’70s and ’80s.

His timeless voice recently received nationwide airplay on “Still,” the singer’s first release from his long-awaited CD Sweet Memories on IMMI records. Now, Hunley returns to the airwaves with a second single from the same CD titled “Only Time Will Tell,” written by Dean Dillon, John Northrup, and Tommy Rocco.

Hunley’s career first jump-started at a guitar pull after a Nashville celebrity golf tournament. Five days later he had offers from five major labels. Today, this singer still embraces his passion for golf by hosting his own annual tournament in Knoxville with proceeds benefiting the Golden Glove Charities, which provide opportunities in sports for underprivileged kids. To date, the event has raised more than a million dollars.

Current Single: “Only Time Will Tell”
Current Album: Sweet Memories

Producer(s): Norro Wilson
Home Town: Fountain City, Tennessee

Birth Date: April 9th

Interesting Facts: Recent TV Appearances: Bill Cody’s Country Classics and Storme Warren’s Country Music Across America on GAC-TV, Mornings On Fox with Charlie Chase
Interests: Golf

Copyright 2005 Music Row Magazine


Billboard Story - January 29, 2005 - from Reuters/Billboard

Veteran Country Acts Find Life After Radio

By Deborah Evans Price

NASHVILLE (Billboard) - When a veteran country act releases a new record, expectations about radio airplay -- or the lack of it -- are usually realistic.

But creativity knows no shelf life, so artists who want to continue making music have to find more inventive ways of reaching the consumer. And their labels have to find ways to sell records without major-market radio exposure.

Bill Anderson, John Conlee, David Frizzell and Con Hunley are among the veteran artists who are proving there's life beyond the airplay charts.

Anderson is readying a new country album and enjoying success as a songwriter. Frizzell has a hits package out and a new album due later in January. Hunley returned to recording after a lengthy hiatus to find himself still in some demand. And both Anderson and Conlee issued gospel albums last year.

So is there life beyond the top 10?

"Absolutely," says Dave Roy, VP of product development at Madacy Entertainment, which will distribute Frizzell's new album. "Our biggest successes in the past couple of years have been (with) classic artists, all of whom have enjoyed a lot of hits and a lot of time at the top of the charts, whether it (was in) the '60s, '70s or '80s.

LOST IN THE CROWD

Roy adds, "There's a need out there and a thirst that sometimes is not satisfied because the consumer can't find what they are looking for with the onslaught of all the new product that kind of gets in the way."

Hunley agrees. "There's an audience out there that's not being sung to or played to," he says. "Maybe I can touch those people. I'm just going to keep doing what I do, and hopefully they'll hear it, like it and buy it."

Virtually shut out by major-market country radio stations, these artists and their labels are finding other avenues of exposure in secondary radio markets, the Internet, in-store retail appearances, the Great American Country cable channel and satellite radio operators Sirius and XM. All those outlets have been helpful in letting consumers know that some of their favorite classic country acts have new music available.

Lisa Starbuck, president of Knoxville, Tenn.-based IMMI Records, says grassroots promotion is key in exposing classic country acts. Particularly successful in promoting new works by these acts have been in-store performances at big-box retailers.

"Every town has a Wal-Mart, and we've been fortunate to be working with Wal-Mart to do some grassroots promotion," Starbuck says.

CHARTING THEIR OWN COURSE

One thing the artists appreciate about this new phase of their careers is the ability to chart their own course. Both Anderson and Frizzell have their own labels. Anderson has TWI Records. And though it has become active only recently, Frizzell has had his Nashville America Records label since 1986.

Frizzell first rose to prominence as Shelly West's duet partner in the early 1980s, then went on to have such solo hits as "I'm Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home." When the hits slowed down, he bought a farm in Cross Plains, Tenn., and opened a venue where he performed and booked other artists.

But the recording bug never left him. He reactivated the label in 2001 and released an album, relishing the independent process.

"We have promoters working with us," says Frizzell, whose new album, "Confidentially," will be released Jan. 25. "We have distributors working with us. We are as good as any record label, and this way I can make the judgment calls and can do it without sitting in front of a board of directors."

Calling the shots is a departure for Frizzell. "I've been with quite a few labels in the past, and once I would get my part of the record done, I had nothing else to do with it anymore," he says.

Hunley's debut last year on IMMI Records, "Sweet Memories," was his first recording in nearly 20 years. He charted 25 country singles on the Billboard charts during stints on Warner Bros., MCA and Capitol during the '70s and '80s before becoming disillusioned with the music industry and returning to his East Tennessee home. Hunley played occasional concerts, and ran a successful dry cleaning business.

A few years ago, he performed during producer Norro Wilson's induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. The two decided to return to the studio together, and the result is "Sweet Memories."

"We had such fun being in the studio together and doing what we liked," Hunley says. "There was nobody telling us we needed to do this here or do this there. We turned the studio musicians loose and let them be creative, which I think is what music is all about. It was a labor of love."

AN EXPENSIVE DEMO

Anderson, whose last top 10 hit as an artist came in 1978, is extremely high-profile these days. Among his recent hits, the Grand Ole Opry star wrote the Brad Paisley/Alison Krauss hit "Whiskey Lullaby" with Jon Randall. The song peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart last year and won two Country Music Assn. awards.

Anderson plans to release a new country album later in January that will include his version of "Whiskey Lullaby," performed with Kenzie Wetz, the fiddle player in his band.

"It's all original stuff. I wrote or co-wrote everything on there," Anderson says of the new record, which he plans to sell via his Web site. (Previous Anderson albums started on his Web site, then were picked up by Varese Saraband, Curb and Madacy.)

While largely overlooked by terrestrial radio, "Him and Me," a song from Anderson's new country project, has been getting airplay on XM for several months, and Anderson says it has generated a big response from listeners. (Anderson hosts a show on XM.)

Anderson is grateful for all the alternative avenues available for exposing his music, because he has no plans to retire.

"Obviously you have to do it the way the major labels do it and get in the top 10 on the charts to hit the home run and to drive the Cadillac," he says, "but there's a whole lot of Chevrolets out there on the road.

"I've had No. 1 records, but I've never tried to build my career just strictly around the records," Anderson continues. "I've tried to do good live performances and entertain the fans. I'm still able to work an awful lot off of that and the fact that I've always paid a lot of attention to my fan base.

"Those are the things that have enabled me to continue to have a career without having to go in and spend a million dollars in cutting an album and getting it out on a major label."

copyright 2005 Reuters/Billboard


CMT.com Article - January 2, 2005 - from CMT.com

Excerpt from Article "Top 10 Country Albums of 2004"

Contemporary Superstars, Newcomers and Seasoned Veterans Make the List

Timing is everything. That's exactly why CMT.com's daily news writers waited until the end of the year to compile our year-end lists of the best albums of 2004.

To avoid any possibility of fisticuffs during the holiday season, the writers did not openly discuss their choices before committing them to a written list.

Edward Morris' Top 10

OK, OK. I'll tell you my Top 10 list of albums for this year, but I'll be damned if I'm going to rank them for you. That would be like ranking food, sex and Seinfeld re-runs. It all rather depends on the moment, doesn't it? Well, the following have given me some of my best moments.

Tim McGraw , Live Like You Were Dying (Curb): I don't know if Tim McGraw sits alone in the dark and listens intently to songs before he decides to record them. But this album makes me believe so. He's country music's least affected and most emotionally potent emissary.

Steve Earle, The Revolution Starts Now (E-Squared/Artemis): Any man (or woman) who sings for a saner, more compassionate world, as Earle does here, has my vote. See you at the barricades.

Gene Watson, Gene Watson Sings (Intersound): Watson has the kind of voice that would stop George Jones in his tracks. So silky, intimate and sure of itself. Just listen to him put the chrome on the old pop standard, "What a Difference a Day Made," and all will be revealed to you.

Mary Chapin Carpenter, Between Here and Gone (Columbia): Let's just say I'm a pushover for smart women who think too much. Country music is better for the elegance and eloquence Carpenter's songs bring to it.

Con Hunley, Sweet Memories (Immi): This may be the most underappreciated album of the year. Hunley doesn't just sing lyrics; he caresses them. To hear to him transform "Don't Touch Me," traditionally viewed as a woman's song, into raw male yearning is to witness magic. The same goes for his treatments of "Still" and "Sweet Memories." This is a textbook of style.

Various Artists, Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster (Emergent): This aesthetically pleasing and historically important album demonstrates that Foster contributed much more to American popular music than the minstrel songs with which he's most identified. Listen to Olabelle's "Gentle Annie" and hear your heart break. The liner notes are a work of art.

Jesse McReynolds With Travis Wetzel, Bending the Rules (OMS): Since his brother's death, the surviving half of Jim & Jesse has continued to turn out inspired music. Here the trailblazing mandolinist teams up with "the mad fiddler" Wetzel for a romp through such finger-twisters as "El Cumbanchero," "Limehouse Blues" and "Sweet Georgia Brown."

James Alan Shelton, Half Moon Bay (Rebel): Shelton's job as Ralph Stanley's lead guitarist doesn't really afford him the room to stretch and shine. But this album does. There are a lot of familiar tunes (some with vocals) that Shelton makes brand new again. It's the kind of music you put on to work to -- and then realize you've stopped working to listen.

Various artists, The Unbroken Circle: The Musical Heritage of the Carter Family (Dualtone): Herein you can hear Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, George Jones, Willie Nelson and others of their galaxy. To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, there hasn't been this much musical talent in one place since the Carter Family recorded alone.

Alecia Nugent, Alecia Nugent (Rounder): Welcome a major addition to bluegrass. Nugent's delivery is sharp, intense and way past nuance. It is a voice that deals in strong feelings, not fuzzy, complex ones. Although she sounds like neither, Nugent is in the rarefied league of Rhonda Vincent and Sonya Isaacs, both of whom back her on this project.

copyright 2005 CMT.com


Associated Press Story on Bill Anderson - November 5, 2004 - from azcentral.com

Excerpt from Article "Whisperin'" Bill returns to the charts
November 5, 2004

By John Gerome

". . .'He's a terrific songwriter, and he's as hot as he can be right now,' said Con Hunley, a country singer on the comeback trail with a remake of Anderson's 'Still.' Hunley, a soulful singer and piano player in the style of Ray Charles, had changed the arrangement and some of the lyrics to "Still" and sought Anderson's approval. 'I went to his house and sat down in his living room at the piano,' Hunley recalled. 'He said, 'Let's hear what you did to my song.' I started singing, and he started rubbing his arms a little and after I was done he said, 'Con, I absolutely love this. You have made it a whole new song.' ' "

copyright 2005 Associated Press


thebridgeworks - November 4, 2004 thebridgeworks

SOUNDCHECK

By Bill Littleton

Con Hunley - Sweet Memories, IMMI Records - www.conhunley.com

There was a weekend re-run of JEOPARDY the other day with a category related to country music. A snippet of "Dang Me" was played and NONE of the three contestants recognized Roger Miller; the thirtyish guy who guessed "Glen Campbell?", however, was quite familiar with Garth Brooks. You know I cried. And a part of me is crying right now as I imagine how many Toby Keith or Dixie Chicks fans have never heard Con Hunley.

This album has been out a few months, and the delay of our attention to it requires apology, since being easy to get sidetracked is not a legitimate excuse. So, apologies in tow, let's get on with it. Ray Charles and Charlie Rich are the first influences the non-initiated will think of (assuming they are familiar with THEM), but ole Con brings a sparkle of his own to songs both old and new -- this project, in fact, has a healthy balance of both, with the common thread of core-deep emotion and phrasing that always brings a surprise as you instinctly want to sing along. That balance is maintained through the personnel -- Con and co-producer Norro Wilson are old studio compadres; working with Boots Randolph and John Hughey is a new experience, with a mixture for the other excellent players -- a sister and two brothers provide backup harmonies and Con notes in the liner that another sister and brother "were not on this CD, but they sure could have been."

There is a family focus throughout the pull-out text; in fact, crediting his parents for an early involvement in music and dedicating the project to the memory of his mother, who died during the year it took to put all the pieces together. Ah, and what a blending it is!! The pacing is more subtle than the traditional "two up-tempos/a ballad/two uptempos/a ballad" (or vice versa) mindset; there is a complexity of tempos and textures and ... well, memories, which is what it's all about. How does a singer handle gems like "She Thinks I Still Care" that have been polished by such masters as George Jones and Anne Murray? Con shows us. Have you ever thought of "Don't Touch Me" as being sung from a male perspective? Well, you will now. What about those wonderful spoken passages Bill Anderson wrote into "Still" -- can they be SUNG? Con proves they can. There are also a few new (at least to me) Dean Dillon songs that promise a whole new crop of memories; how 'bout, "Only Time Will Tell And Time Ain't Talkin'"?

I've probably ticked more people off with my inclusivity perception of country music than with any of my other eccentricities, but the proof continues to lie in authenticity. The late Vince Matthews wrote a song that essentially said if you don't know who Bradley Kincaid is, you don't really know country music; I'll go so far as to say if you can listen to Con Hunley sing the songs on this album and not feel a shiver in your soul at least every six or eight bars, you don't UNDERSTAND country music. I personally don't know anyone who would fit that.

copyright 2004, Bill Littleton, thebridgeworks


Nashville City Paper - November 3, 2004 - from nashvillecitypaper.com

Country superstar Hunley returns to charts
By Ron Wynn, rwynn@nashvillecitypaper.com
November 03, 2004

Country music superstar Con Hunley has always insisted on musical integrity and independence. That refusal to make music by committee led Hunley to simply turn his back on the industry in the mid-'80s, though he never stopped performing. But one of the genre's genuinely soulful stars and great natural voices has thankfully returned to the scene.

Hunley's new release Sweet Memories (IMMI) has already generated widespread fan and radio response, thanks to his masterful reworking of Bill Anderson's 1963 smash "Still."

"I wouldn't have released the song if Bill had a problem with the way I did it," Hunley said. "It's been done a bit differently, but Bill heard it and said he loved it. He also said that I was introducing it to a whole new generation that never heard the original and that has proven the case."

But Hunley has also shown that there is always an audience for pure, honest singing with heart, depth and conviction. The entire disc has many other triumphant numbers, particularly the spectacular version of "Amazing Grace" that wraps the 14-song session and spotlights Hunley in a different, but certainly related, idiom. Indeed, his sound has always reflected a seamless merger of country, soul and gospel.

Hunley got his start singing gospel as a child at his family's church in Knoxville. His boyhood idols were Ray Charles and Chet Atkins, and his earliest gigs came at such places as the Eagles club in Knoxville during the mid-'60s. But it took more than a decade of what Hunley called "riding buses and playing tiny club gigs" before he scored his first major success in Nashville.

While his initial success came with Warner Bros. in the late '70s, it was during the '80s that Hunley became a major figure. His smooth, piercing and mighty voice was featured on more than 20 top 10 hits, most notably the single "What Am I Going To Do About You." He also sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the 1982 heavyweight championship fight between John Tate and Gerry Coetzee in Pretoria, South Africa. But Hunley's career increasingly was affected by label shifts and executive changes, to the point where he finally decided he'd had enough.

"It was really getting to be the case where you would have guys in suits making decisions about music, and I just decided that wasn't the way I wanted to work," Hunley said. "I've always been concerned strictly about the music and wanted to work with people who felt the same way that I did. But it became more and more that you were being viewed as a commodity, and there were all these comments about image and sound and look. And that's when I thought it was time to get out."

However, Hunley didn't stop singing or performing and maintained an active schedule, something that is evident by the consistent excellence of his singing.

Now Hunley's embarked on a heavy promotional schedule for Sweet Memories, happy and confident that he not only has a first-rate new release but that there are still fans anxious to hear his music.

"You never take anything for granted, and it is very gratifying to know that many people still remember my past work and that others are enjoying the new music," Hunley said.

Copyright 2000-2004, The City Paper LLC.


Country Weekly Magazine - October 12, 2004 from Country Weekly

By Larry Holden

CATCHING UP: RETURN ENGAGEMENT

A disillusioned Con Hunley closed the door on Nashville - until the music business came knocking again.

After hits like "What's New With You" and "Oh Girl," the soulful sounding Con Hunley left Nashville behind in the late '80s when his career hit a rocky road. Bitter, he entered a tailspin that kept him from recording for more than a decade. Now he's back with a new album, a hot new single and a new lease on what he loves doing.

But getting to where he is today had its twists.

"While playing Knoxville clubs, I was invited to play in a celebrity golf tournament in Nashville," recalls Con of a fateful incident back in the late '70s. After the tournament, he was asked to participate in a "guitar pull," an informal gathering of singers. "And within days," he says, "I had offers from five major labels!"

He signed with one of them, Warner Bros., spent five years there and then switched to MCA. Five songs into recording a new album, the label got new management and Con got the ax.

Con hopped onboard another label, and one of his first singles, "What Am I Gonna Do About You," was flying up the charts in 1985 when the powers that be changed at the top again, and once more he was one of the casualties. His single sank like a rock.

"I got to thinking a country music career wasn't meant for me," confesses Con. "I was filled with self doubt - maybe I wasn't good enough, maybe I didn't deserve success. So I left Nashville and went home. Soon, with no new songs on the radio, gigs dwindled."

Then in 1996 Con was a surprise guest performer at the induction of his former producer, Norro Wilson, into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. After Con sang, a lot of industry folks came up, encouraging him to get back in the game.

"It was sweet moment for me," reveals Con. "My broken spirit was lifted up, and I realized how much I missed music and how much it meant to me."

Eventually, he and Norro went into the studio, and the result is Con's just-released single, "Still" - his endearing take on Bill Anderson's No. 1 smash - and a new CD called Sweet Memories.

"The title song came about when I lost my mother while I was recording the album," he explains. "Mom loved 'Sweet Memories,' that old Mickey Newberry song, so I put it and 'Amazing Grace' on the album in her honor."

Today, Con is a man at peace with himself. "I hold no bitterness or resentment," he declares. "All I care about is making the most out of doing the music I love.

"It's a love unlike any other love."

- Larry Holden

copyright 2004, Country Weekly Magazine


Shreveport Times Story - September 28, 2004 - www.shreveporttimes.com

TEDDY ALLEN: A Con artist who's no con artist
September 28, 2004

There aren't any country music stars who play the piano and sing anymore.

This is very troubling.

Charlie Rich. Jerry Lee Lewis. Mickey Gilley. Gary Stewart. Ronnie Milsap. Even Ray Stevens.

Then Ray Charles dies? That hurt me.

In the 1970s and 1980s you couldn't turn a radio dial far without hearing one of them. I thought this a good thing. Now they're harder to find than a good haircut.

So imagine my glee a few days ago when I heard Con Hunley talking to a Ruston deejay on KXKZ, the station that nursed me through my college years, all seven of them, at Louisiana Tech. Almost wrecked the truck, thinking I was in a time warp and all.

Instead, it was blessed reality. Con Hunley was telling the radio man he was back. And next thing I know he was singing a re-make and re-do of Whisperin' Bill Anderson's Still.

Still, though you broke my heart/Still, though we're far apart/I love you still.

Oh my. I had to park. I did.

Some perspective here. Imagine you are a Cowboys fan and find out that Tony Dorsett can still run and is un-retiring. Imagine steak suppers are $5.95 again.

For goodness sakes, imagine Elvis really is alive. And in the studio.

Chew on that for a minute and you can begin to appreciate the tip of the iceberg that were my feelings at that very tender moment.

Con Hunley played a bluesy piano and sang from way down deep in there someplace. His music was the needle and thread for more broken hearts than you could shake a promise ring at.

Let me try to explain it this way. On a bleak night that concluded an otherwise happy blue-skied day in the summer of 1980, when Jaybo found out his girlfriend had been being other people's girlfriend too, I handed him the keys to my car and three Con Hunley cassettes and told him I'd see him again when I saw him again. I didn't know what else to do.

He took the stuff. He appreciated it. And he re-surfaced a couple of days later, a little thinner, a little slumped, but a little wiser too, a little encouraged that the deal might scab over, somehow, and that shoot, love was just a tough deal sometimes.

Con knows. Punted around by a couple of record labels despite 20 hits, he quit in the '80s, went back to Knoxville, Tenn., and went into the dry cleaning business with his brother.

The good news? He's sold his share of the business since launching his comeback but gets a family discount on laundered shirts. Still.

See? It all works out.

I ordered the new CD -- it's lush -- off www/conhunley.com. A few days later I got an e-mail of apology: the company had charged me twice for the CD but had credited my card.

They shouldn't have bothered. I would have gladly paid double.

copyright 2004 The Shreveport Times
September 28, 2004


Billboard Magazine Story on Bill Anderson - September 4, 2004 - from Reuters

Excerpt from Article "Distilling a 'Whiskey' Hit"
September 4, 2004

By Jim Bessman

". . . . Anderson's latest smash comes just as his country chart-topping signature song, "Still," which crossed over to No. 8 on the pop charts in 1963, has been remade by comeback-seeking Con Hunley.

"He fooled around with it and took recitation out and wrote a singing part and was scared to death I wouldn't like it," Anderson says. "He sang it for me over breakfast and said, 'If you don't care, I'll record it.' I said, 'If I don't care? I'll drive you to the studio!"

Reuters/Billboard

Copyright Reuters 2004. All Rights Reserved.


AngryCountry.com Review of "Sweet Memories" - August 26, 2004 - from AngryCountry.com's Web Site

Con Hunley - Sweet Memories

By. Christine Bohorfoush - AngryCountry.com Staff Writer

Con Hunley: New Album, After An Absence From Country Music

New fans to country music may not be familiar with the name Con Hunley, the soulful singer who was born and raised in Fountain City in the Smokey Mountain foothills of East Tennessee. One of six children, Con had music in his life from birth. His first entrance into the music world was singing gospel songs at church with his family. Con's parents bought him a used "Stella" guitar for Christmas when he was nine years old. He was overjoyed. His parents taught him basic chords (G, C, D, A) and some simple songs. Con idolized Chet Atkins and taught himself to play thumb-style guitar while still a youth. When his parents bought a piano for his sister, Beth, Con taught himself to play by ear and learned Ray Charles' famous hit, "What'd I Say." That was the beginning of a lifelong love affair. Con credits Ray Charles with having the greatest influence on his style and his music career. "That record was like a monster that just grabbed me up," Con says, "and it kept alive my motivation to play."

In 1975 Con went to Nashville after catching the ear of Sam Kirkpatrick who happened to be at the Corner Lounge in Knoxville one Thursday night where Con was performing. Kirkpatrick chartered Prairie Dust Records and Con, with the help of guitarist Larry Morton, who was band leader for Danny Davis and the Nashville Brass, cut five sides: "Misery Loves Company," "Pick Up The Pieces," "I'll always Remember That Song," "Deep In The Arms of Texas," and "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do." "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" received national attention. Soon after, Con, an avid golfer, was at the Acuff-Rose Publishing Company Golf Tournament in Nashville with Bobby Denton of WIVK Radio. After the first day of the tournament the golfer/musicians, made up of the biggest names in country music, had a "guitar pullin'." Bobby Denton asked Con to sing. He sang two songs after a lot of persuasion, but was totally in awe of everyone in the room. A few days after the tournament, his phone started ringing. Major labels wanted to meet him. After the dust settled, Con Hunley signed with Warner Brothers Records in 1977 and cut his first of five Warner albums, Cry, Cry Darling.

In 1982 Con recorded his biggest hit, "Oh Girl." During that time he was touring with various artists including George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Alabama, The Gatlin Brothers, The Oak Ridge Boys and others. In 1984 Con went with Capital Records. One of his recordings for them, "What Am I Going To Do About You," was a hit and one of twenty of his songs that made the top ten on the charts. It stayed on the charts for fifty-eight consecutive weeks. It was during these years that Con was nominated for Male Vocalist of the Year and Newcomer of the Year by ACM and CMA. In 1982 Hunley sang the National Anthem before the Heavyweight Championship between Big John Tate and Gerry Coetzee in Pretoria, South Africa. In 1986 Con performed with the seventy piece Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and his five piece band, a Knoxville first. He played at the White House in 1996 and did an annual New Year's Eve show in the Smokies for many years.

His latest project is a marriage of the old and new. Con and Norro Wilson, his first producer at Warner Records, kept in touch and began talking about another project a few years ago. "We decided to do a new album, Sweet Memories," and enlisted the top musicians in Nashville," Con says. In 1999 Con's mother, Priscilla Clodell Hunley, passed away. It was a year later before Con got back to the album. He had already recorded eight cuts and added six more. Sweet Memories is completed now and is dedicated to Con's mother. She is the reason that the final cut on the album is "Amazing Grace." She loved the song and she loved to hear her son sing it just like in the days of his childhood.

When Con Hunley was brought to the attention of AngryCountry, we were so impressed by this album that we knew we wanted to interview Con and speak with him regarding his feelings on the album, Mr. Hunley kindly agreed:

Con: Hey, Michael!

Michael: Hey, Con...how are you doing?

Con: I'm doing fine... how are you, Sir?

Michael: Pretty good...

Con: Great!

Michael: Man, your XM Radio Show last week was just awesome...

Con: Oh, thank you!

Michael: (laughing) We timed a road trip last week to Nashville so that we'd make sure that we'd be on the road during that hour that you were on XM and we could hear you perform. [Con did a one hour live concert on XM Radio from their studios in Washington, D.C. where he discussed and played many of his past hits, as well as new music from his current album.]

Con: Really? That's kind of neat... I mean, I had not done anything like that in quite a long time. I was real happy the way it turned out; of course, what a great facility it was. I enjoyed the heck out of it!

Michael: It was just amazing... for just you, a guitar player, and an empty room.

Con: Yeah!

Michael: Well, I just have a few quick questions for you...

Con: Okay, that's great... I appreciate you taking the time for me.

Michael: No problem at all... for our younger readers who may not be familiar with your work, could you tell us a little about yourself and your music?

Con: Well, I was with Warner Brothers early on... for five years actually and then I ended up signing with MCA and got about five songs deep into an album there and had some changes in leadership at MCA. I wound up going to Capital and got about five deep into an album there and they also had a change in leadership (laughing) I was pretty active during that time, from say 1977 to 1987 to 1990. Things were not happening the way that I hoped it would be happening, so I kind of got away from making country music for awhile. So, I have done a little thing for Norro Wilson, my friend and producer, and we worked on this new album, Sweet Memories. I came to town, as he was being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. They had asked me to perform one of the songs that he had written called "The Most Beautiful Girl" and surprise him. I did and I kind of reacquainted myself with a lot of the folks in the business; and Norro and I got to talking and the next thing you know, we are in the studio recording again and this album, Sweet Memories, is the result of that.

Michael: What are some of the reasons that led you to decide that now is the right time to go back in to country music?

Con: Well, it just felt good... and I truly missed it, Michael. Having been away from it, it is my first love. I mean, I just absolutely love it! I kind of got a little bitter, when I left Nashville... you know, I kind of got away from it for a while. The longer that I was away from it, the more I realized how much I missed it. There is a lot of things going on right now, as far as music is concerned... there is room for a whole lot of different kinds of music. I felt that now was the right time for me to come back with what they call "my style." What it is, is that I love country songs, but they just come out a little different, ya know? We have been having a lot of luck; I have had a lot of people who are glad to see that I am back and recording. I've been really getting a lot of great reviews on the album, as well as the single. Everything is positive and I am just so happy to be back and doing what I love.

Michael: Well, to we at AngryCountry your style is pure country... and there is not enough of it going around right now.

Con: Well, I appreciate that... you know, I do love country music! There is nothing better than a good country lyric. I mean, who has not lived a country lyric? I am just so appreciative of the chance to be back and having fun with it and enjoying it and really getting great response to everything.

Michael: Your current single, "Still", was written by Bill Anderson... and as you explained on the XM Radio feature, you went to Bill for his approval of your rendition of the song. What was that experience like for you?

Con: It was scary... I mean, it was really scary! (laughing) You know, Bill is a gentlemen, but when you start messing with a songwriter's song and begin changing some words around - the song around - you are kind of treading on thin ice. When I went to him and began to pitch the idea to him, I told him that I wanted his blessing before I recorded the song. Had he not liked it, I would not have recorded it that way. I had the opportunity to sit down and play it for him at his house, and he loved it. From the minute that I started the song, he absolutely loved it. He told me, "Con, you've taken my song and made it your song. I absolutely love it and I could not be happier with the way that you have arranged it. You have my blessing!" And so, we went into the studio and cut it and it turned out well; and like I said, we are getting a great response to it.

Michael: What are some of your other favorite songs on the album?

Con: I love "Sweet Memories," which is the title cut written by Mickey Newbury... in fact during the recording of this particular project, I lost my mother. One of her favorite songs is "Sweet Memories" and another, of course, was "Amazing Grace;" so I dedicated this entire album to her memory and the last two cuts on the album to her. These two are favorites of mine... but, I like "Since I Fell For You" and "No Relief In Sight"... I like everything that we recorded. And of course, "Still" stands out because just being able to take a song and do something completely different with it... I enjoy performing it and sort of creating it. Sort of becoming a stepfather to that song, so to speak, in the studio.

Michael: What would you like listeners to take away from this album? Or what is the message in the music that you choose?

Con: I hope that when they listen to it they are touched... I hope that they can relate to what I have to say in my songs and I hope that they can relate to the lyrics. But more importantly, I hope that they are touched by the way that I perform it and that it's believable. I like to do songs that speak to me and songs that touch me; they are the songs that I like to do. Hopefully, I can do them in a way that speaks to and touches other people.

Michael: We have a signature question that we like to ask every artist... what is the one thing that your fans would be most surprised to know about you?

Con: Hmmm, that's a good one... I suppose that I have become an avid bike rider. I'm sort of into the exercise thing and watching my diet.

Michael: What is it about bike riding that you have come to enjoy?

Con: I just love to be able to get out... you're at a speed where you can really appreciate the beauty of your surroundings. There are a couple of trails where I ride where the views are absolutely magical. It's so inspirational and you feel like you can reach out and touch the creator.

Michael: I know that your time is valuable, so I will let you go... I appreciate your taking time out of your day for AngryCountry.

Con: Well, Michael, I appreciate your taking the time for me.

******************************************************************************************

Sweet Memories

Track One: "Over Getting Over You"

Pretty heartache ballad about seeing an old flame and realizing that buried feelings remain very close to the surface.

Track Two: "A Chance"

Beautiful ballad that speaks to the loss of a love and knowing that you can never get that love back. My favorite track on this album due to its very soulful stylings.

Track Three: "She Ain't You"

A touch of the Blues Brothers style is brought to this track that looks at having many lovers in one's life; and yet, only that one special person captures your heart.

Track Four: "Since I Fell For You"

I have always loved this song, but Con gives it a special touch that really makes you feel the love that one has for another.

Track Five: "She Thinks I Still Care"

Wonderful cut that addresses how one may deny their feelings, but deep down, the love that you feel for someone special cannot really be denied.

Track Six: "That's All That Matters To Me"

A track that speaks to knowing that you may share the one you love with others, but all is right when that love is in your arms.

Track Seven: "Don't Touch Me"

Asking that someone you adore and cannot really have not tempt you with their love... because just their simple touch will make you desire that person too much.

Track Eight: "Something You Got"

Almost a Sam and Dave soul touch is put on this track about the attraction one feels for a special person.

Track Nine: "Still"

What can be better than a great track written by Opry legend Bill Anderson? When Con Hunley puts his soulful voice and touch on it... terrific!

Track Ten: "If You Ever Have Forever In Mind"

Pretty familiar ballad about longing for a person to settle down and love only you.

Track Eleven: "Only Time Will Tell"

Finding that a lot of time is needed to get over a lost love. I think everyone has felt those feelings and this song sums up all those feelings.

Track Twelve: "No Relief In Sight"

Trying everything possible to get passed a lost love ... only to find that no matter what you attempt, the pain remains.

Track Thirteen: "Dedication To Mother"

Very touching and heartfelt explanation of Con's feelings over the loss of his own mother and why these songs meant so much to her.

Track Fourteen: "Sweet Memories"

Absolutely beautiful ballad and vocal that Con brings to this song about the memories that linger even after a loved one has passed on.

Track Fifteen: "Amazing Grace"

This old familiar standard, once again, comes alive due to the unique and very soulful touch that Con brings to the song.

Totally Awesome! This is an album that receives my highest praise. I have been searching for a country artist who has the soul of my all-time favorite Motown artist, Smokey Robinson. Con Hunley is that country artist. Not only does he have the soulful vocals, but he also knows just what kind of touch to bring to a particular song. Sweet Memories is exactly the kind of album that has been missing in Nashville and on the country radio airwaves... good old "real" country music with lyrics that reach out and wrap around your gut. I simply cannot say how much I appreciate Con Hunley and this album, and I want to welcome him back to country music. If there was ever an album and a country artist who exemplifies what I preach on the pages of AngryCountry about "keeping the music grounded in traditional country lyrics, " Sweet Memories and Con Hunley are a shining example. You will want this album and will agree that this is country music at its best.

NOTE: AngryCountry wishes to express our sincere thanks to Con Hunley for the time that he took to interview with us. For more information on Con Hunley, please visit his website at: www.conhunley.com

Copyright & Reprint Information: © Copyright 2004, AngryCountry.com


Country Weekly Magazine Review of "Sweet Memories" - August 17, 2004 Issue

Sweet Memories

From its opening notes, Con's first new album in 22 years calls to mind his heyday in the late 1970s and early '80s without ever quite sounding dated. It's been so long since we've heard this silky-smooth, saxophone-spiked sound - more countrified soul than soulful country - that it sounds positively hip in 2004.

Con, 59, walked away from recording in the mid-80's, but not from performing - and it shows. He's on his game throughout Sweet Memories, taking command of these 15 songs with a new and welcome grain in his voice. Order by calling 800-337-2956) - Chris Neal


Ramblin' Rhodes Column - Fans' loyalty, renewed success comes as surprise to musician - August 12, 2004 - From the Augusta Chronicle

By Don Rhodes

Con Hunley's latest album showcases his rich, bluesy voice. The Internet has given him the ability to make his music, information and show dates available to fans.
Special

Few recording artists get a second chance at popularity, but Con Hunley seems to be doing fine with his first single in 18 years.

The single, Still, is a remake of Bill Anderson's self-composed 1963 hit and is off Mr. Hunley's new CD, Sweet Memories, on the independent IMMI Records label. Both the single and album have drawn critical praise.

"My heart has been warmed by the fact that people haven't forgotten who I am, and they still love my music," said the 59-year-old Mr. Hunley in a call July 26, the morning of the single's release.

His rich, bluesy voice, long regarded as one of country music's best, shines throughout his new CD. It's available at retail outlets and through Mr. Hunley's Web site, www.conhunley.com.

Mr. Hunley was one of country music's most popular stars in the early '70s through late '80s with his stage shows, TV appearances and Top 20 singles such as What's New With You, She's Steppin' Out, You Lay a Whole Lot of Love on Me, and his versions of Oh Girl and What Am I Going to Do Without You.

His last Capitol single, Quittin' Time, is still played by radio station announcers at 5 p.m. Fridays to launch weekend partying.

Mr. Hunley was a senior at Central High School in Fountain City, Tenn., a suburb of Knoxville, when Mr. Anderson hit high on both the country and rock music charts with Still, and it stayed in Mr. Hunley's mind.

"When I was recording this CD, I was driving back and forth between Knoxville (where he lives) and Nashville," Mr. Hunley said. "One day I cut off the radio, and, for some reason began singing Still out of the blue in the car at the top of my voice.

"I thought, 'That sounds pretty good.' I later got on a piano and began working it out and singing the recitation part instead of speaking it like Bill did on his recording."

The chorus of the song goes: "Still, though we're far apart. Still, though you've broke my heart. I love you still. Still, after all this time. Still, you're still on my mind. I love you still."

In recent years, Mr. Hunley and his brother Steve have operated Superior Cleaners, a laundry business in Knoxville.

In the mid-'80s when Mr. Hunley was dropped by Capitol, the major record companies had almost total control over what the public heard and who became a star.

He said that no longer is true, with the proliferation of Web sites, satellite radio, cable television networks and strong independent labels with great distribution.

"I'll be honest with you," he said. "It broke my heart the way I was treated. I had given my life to the music business and had some success. But I wasn't going to beat my head against the wall when I had no control over what was happening.

"Now it looks like I may have caught some of these major labels with their heads in the sand," he said with a sound of glee in his voice. "Today, there is the ability in putting anything on the Internet. Fans now can go directly to your Web site and find out about your music and your show dates. It's been phenomenal."

Don Rhodes has been writing about country music for 33 years. He can be reached at (706) 823-3214 or don.rhodes@morris.com.

--From the Thursday, August 12, 2004 printed edition of the Augusta Chronicle


Billboard Magazine Review of "Still" - Review - June 26, 2004 Issue

CON HUNLEY
Still
Producer(s): Con Hunley, Norro Wilson
Writer(s): B. Anderson
Publisher(s): Johnny Bienstock Music (BMI)
Genre: COUNTRY
Label/Catalog Number: IMMI Records 80862 42825 (CD promo) 
Source: Billboard Magazine
Originally Reviewed: June 26, 2004

During the '70s and '80s, Hunley charted 25 singles on the Billboard country charts, including such memorable songs as "What's New With You" and "No Relief in Sight." He returns with a new full-length on Knoxville, Tenn.-based IMMI Records. The set features Hunley's soulful take on a solid collection of country songs. For the lead single, he reinvents Whisperin' Bill Anderson's gem "Still." Hunley puts a whole new spin on this evergreen hit, transforming Anderson's plaintive country ballad into a smoky, sultry number, oozing with Hunley's trademark blue-eyed soul. The subtle, aching steel guitar is an effective backdrop for Hunley's vocals. While certainly a long shot at country radio, it sure would be great to see programmers take a chance on this. In the process, listeners would get the opportunity to rediscover this incredible stylist working his magic on one of country's greatest songs.—DEP

Copyright 2004 Billboard Magazine


Send-off Party for Knox Area Soldiers Held Fountain City Focus - June 9, 2004

The soldiers and families of the Tennessee National Guard's 278th Armored Calvary Regiment, which is headquartered in Knoxville, were treated to a private appreciation concert on June 5th. The Guard unit is being mobilized for active duty beginning June 7th, and several thousand soldiers from Knox and surrounding counties will be deployed.

The concert, which was sponsored and organized by WIVK-FM radio, was held in one of the aircraft hangers of the Tennessee Air National Guard's 134th Air Refueling Wing. Patriotic WIVK radio personality Gunner, who spent a month in Iraq earlier this year covering local troops serving with the 489th Civil Affairs Battalion, emceed the event. Buddy's Bar-B-Q provided pork sandwiches, hot dogs, chili and drinks for the crowd.

Country music star Con Hunley performed an upbeat set, closing with "America the Beautiful," and the crowd of over 2000 soldiers and families rose to their feet and sang along. Other country artists, including Carly Goodwin, Wade Hayes, and WIVK's own Colleen Addair, performed for the appreciative crowd of military families.

Hunley's record label, IMMI Records, was a co-sponsor of the concert. Singer/songwriter Madonna Tassi, who is also on IMMI Records, donated a copy of her patriotic Tennessee CD, "Red, White, Blue and Orange," which features an upbeat version of "Rocky Top" to each of the soldiers.

Afterwards, Hunley signed autographs and posed for photos with soldiers and families. Hunley is a former soldier himself, having served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. He told the soldiers "I've been a G.I. and I know how it feels to leave home for active duty." He added, "I'm very pleased, honored and privileged to be here with you today. My heart and soul will be with you on your travels to Iraq and wherever you may go. I want you to know we're behind you one hundred percent."


Con Hunley to Appear at Chattanooga Wal-Mart Superstore Grand Opening

Country music star Con Hunley will be appearing as part of the grand opening festivities at the newest Chattanooga Wal-Mart at 490 Greenway View Drive (Brainerd Road) on May 19, 2004. Hunley will sing the national anthem at 7:30 am and will do a live performance and autograph session inside the store from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.

Country radio station WUSY-FM will broadcast live from the Wal-Mart Supercenter during the event with radio personalities Dex and Kim, and will be giving away free t-shirts, balloons and lunch tickets. IMMI Records is sponsoring lunch for Hunley's fans, which is being provided by the Chattanooga Pepsi distributor, and the proceeds will benefit the Children's Advocacy Center.

Hunley will be signing copies of his latest release on IMMI Records, "Sweet Memories," which is available nationally at Wal-Mart. "It's wonderful to have the support of a great company like Wal-Mart," said Hunley. "Wal-Mart has been terrific to work with and I am happy to help open the new Chattanooga Supercenter."

Hunley did recent appearances at Wal-Marts in Nashville and Knoxville, and appearances at other Wal-Mart stores around the country are being scheduled. Details of future dates and locations will be announced soon. In conjunction with the Wal-Mart appearances, Hunley's record label, IMMI Records, is offering a free download of the title track to "Sweet Memories" at his web site, www.conhunley.com.


Music Row Magazine - Robert Oermann's DISClaimer Column - Mini-Review of "Sweet Memories"

CON HUNLEY/Sweet Memories

I am so pleased to report that one of my '80s idols is still singing with batter-dipped, Southern-fried soul. Con works steadily in the Knoxville area. His new CD reprises such hits as "No Relief in Sight" and "Since I Fell for You." In addition, there are new stylings such as this title tune, a Ray Charles-type workout on Mickey Newbury's golden country classic. This guy will always be a superstar on my life's hit parade.


Free Concert in the Park Features Country Music Star Con Hunley

Food, crafts, music and fun will be plentiful as Fountain City welcomes spring with a three-day celebration in Fountain City Park as part of Knoxville's Dogwood Arts Festival. The Fountain City Festival begins Friday, April 23rd and continues through Sunday, April 25th.

On Saturday, April 24th, there will be a free concert in the park by country music star Con Hunley and special guests, presented by Fountain City Focus, IMMI Records and WIVK-FM.

Hunley headlines a lineup that includes two popular local bands, the Chillbillies and the Hunley Brothers and Sister Ruth, as well as other local talent. The Chillbillies start off at 2:30 p.m.

Colleen Addair, well-known radio personality on WIVK-FM and creator of "The Country Café," will emcee the event with a live remote broadcast during the concert. Addair also created and hosts two nationally syndicated shows, "Classic Country USA" and "Cross Country Songs of Faith." Addair will perform a duet with Hunley during the show.

Hunley will be performing some old favorites as well as several new songs from his recently released CD, Sweet Memories. The CD is available locally at Cat's Records, the Disc Exchange, Ernest Tubb's Records, Roy's Records, Wal-Mart and on-line at conhunley.com. For a limited time, IMMI Records is offering a free download of the title track from Sweet Memories to visitors to the conhunley.com web site.

"Knoxville is my home, and I'm really looking forward to performing in Fountain City Park," Hunley said in a recent interview. He added, "I grew up in Fountain City and graduated from Central High School. It's always a pleasure to play for the hometown crowd."

The Dogwood Arts Festival is presented by ORNL Federal Credit Union. The Fountain City Festival is sponsored by the City of Knoxville, Knox County, Creative Structures, Fountain City Focus, IMMI Records, Krispy-Kreme, St. Mary's Health System, WBIR-TV and WIVK-FM.

Listen to a sound clip of WIVK's Colleen Addair interviewing Con about the Dogwood Festival and other things.


Con Hunley - Veteran vocalist Hunley still solid, superb on 'Sweet' - March 7, 2004 - From Knoxville News Sentinel

By WAYNE BLEDSOE, bledsoe@Knews.com

"Sweet Memories," Con Hunley (IMMI)

The last time Knoxville-based Con Hunley had a new album, it was on vinyl. "Sweet Memories" is a welcome chance to usher the country crooner into the CD age. Thankfully, Hunley's style remains rooted in the pre-digital era of classic honky-tonk. Like Charlie Rich, Ronnie Milsap and 1960s-era Jerry Lee Lewis, Hunley has a solid foundation in rhythm and blues. Hunley covers some new tunes by Nashville hit songwriters, but this is not arena-size country. It's smoky-bar stuff - and that's meant as a compliment. It's music that's intimate. When Hunley re-covers the vintage pop hit "Since I Fell For You" (Hunley had a minor hit with the Lenny Welch tune in 1979), it's solid romance from a guy who knows how to nail a ballad even better than he did 25 years ago. That's not to mention that the song contains a particularly sweet accompaniment from legendary sax player Boots Randolph.

Hunley is actually a better vocalist than he was in his hit-making days.

He sings with more nuance and depth. When he covers Bill Anderson's "Still," Vince Gill's "If You Ever Have Forever in Mind" and the Mickey Newbury title cut, he slides into notes with the remarkable ease of a guy who's been singing for half a century.

Hunley's disc may sound a little less polished than much of what's coming out of Nashville these days, but in this case, it may be a plus.

It puts the focus on an artist who really knows how to sing. Rating (five possible): ****

Copyright 2004, Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.


Con Hunley - Led by His Heart - March 7, 2004 - From Knoxville News Sentinel

A seasoned and subdued Con Hunley takes another spin with the music industry

By WAYNE BLEDSOE, bledsoe@knews.com

In the late 1970s, Knoxville's Con Hunley was one of country music's rising stars. Already a celebrity on the local scene, Hunley had a contract with Warner Bros. Records and a string of hits, including "Weekend Friend," "What's New With You," "Oh Girl" and "You've Still Got a Place in My Heart."

Yet by the end of the '80s, Hunley seemed a footnote. Still beloved in East Tennessee, where he had become a traditional New Year's Eve headlining act, Hunley was gone from the national scene.

Now, after two decades, Hunley has released a new album called "Sweet Memories." He knows that being a 58-year-old with a talent for classic piano-based honky-tonk is a hard sell in an era when how you look in your jeans seems more important than how you sing a song.

He figures the best place to start again is in his hometown - a town he never left despite industry advice to the contrary.

"Knoxville is like family," says Hunley, sitting in the North Knox County home he shares with his wife, Karen, and his 18-year-old daughter, Brittany. "They've seen the glitter and the glamour and all the warts, too. To have them rooting for me at this point is really gratifying."

There is no youthful cockiness in the Con Hunley of 2004. It's maturity that shows through in the performances on his new album.

He's experienced a lot over the past 20 years. Although Superior Cleaners, the business that Hunley runs with his brother, Steve, has thrived, his golf tournament (the Con Hunley Golden Gloves Classic) has continued and his marriage has survived, Hunley spent years battling alcohol problems after his music career plummeted. During the early stages of recording his new album, in 1999, Hunley's mother, Priscilla Hunley, died from an aortic aneurysm. And just last month, Hunley's father, William Hunley, died of cancer.

Hunley grew up in North Knoxville, and he and his six brothers and sisters sang in the Luttrell Church of God in Union County, where his maternal grandfather, Milburn C. Brewer, was minister.

"Some of my first memories are singing in church," says Hunley. "It was just like second nature."

Although he grew up idolizing Union County-raised guitar legend Chet Atkins, it was on piano that Hunley showed proficiency. And when he wasn't playing gospel, Hunley was picking out hits by R&B and rock piano masters Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis and Charlie Rich.

After graduating from Central High School, Hunley joined the Air Force, where he ended up teaching the basics of aircraft hydraulic and pneumatic systems at bases in Pennsylvania and California. But at night, Hunley was playing pianos and singing at nightspots.

Hunley returned to Knoxville in 1968, but found that performing jobs were few. He ended up at the Corner Lounge on Central Avenue on Thursday nights. In a few weeks the Lounge had become a hot spot. By the next year, Hunley was also holding down a gig at the Village Barn, which was Knoxville's premier nightclub.

WIVK executive Bobby Denton had become a supporter by that time and got Hunley an invitation to the Acuff-Rose Invitational Golf Tournament in Nashville. At night, musician golfers would have "guitar pulls" - passing a guitar amongst themselves and singing songs. Denton suggested Hunley take a turn.

"My heartbeat went from about 100 to 140 right there," says Hunley. "They handed me the guitar, and it just seemed like a hush came over the room - but maybe that was just how it seemed to me."

The following week Hunley had recording offers from five different record labels.

Hunley decided to sign with Warner Bros., which had only recently started a country division.

His first producer was Norro Wilson. Wilson had co-written Charlie Rich's hit "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" and George Jones' "The Grand Tour" and went on to produce some of Nashville's biggest stars, including Jones, Shania Twain and Reba McEntire.

"I think I'm one of the biggest fans he has," says Wilson. "Con sings so much from the heart. I just think he's really, really talented."

In 1982, on the heels of his biggest hit, a cover of the Chi-Lites' No. 1 "Oh Girl," Hunley decided to sign with the more influential MCA Records.

What he hadn't anticipated was the arrival of new MCA President Jimmy Bowen. Bowen revamped MCA and dropped several artists, including Hunley.

Hunley signed to Capitol Records and recorded a series of singles that began to make some waves on country radio. One track, "What In the World Am I Going to Do Without You," began barreling up the charts. However, by that time Bowen had moved to head Capitol Records.

Bowen, says Hunley, had the single killed.. . A year later, Reba McEntire (one of Bowen's artists) recorded the song and took it to No. 1.

Hunley was once again cut loose from a label's roster.

He continued to tour, "but with no new product," says Hunley, "the dates started dwindling."

"It kind of broke my spirit," says Hunley. "I was mad at the industry. I was mad at the world. I guess I was heartbroken, and a lot of times heartbreak turns to bitterness. Music was my life. I loved it."

He says he was never one to talk about his problems, which became a problem in itself.

"If I couldn't express it in a song, then I just carried it," says Hunley. "If something bothered me, then a few drinks would help. If it was a bigger problem, then a few more. Alcohol sneaks up on you, and if a person has a problem, he's the last one to know."

He was charged with driving while intoxicated twice in the late 1990s before seeking professional help.

"I'm so much more comfortable in my own skin now," says Hunley. "I guess I was a hollowed-out log of a person. There's a spiritualness in me that wasn't there before. I had to let go and let God take over, and I had a hard time with that."

Hunley was performing at Pigeon Forge's Eagle Mountain Theater, but friends began suggesting that he take another serious stab at music.

"Dean Dillon (one of country's most successful songwriters) called and said: 'I've written a song for you. I'm gonna try to get you a deal with this song.'"

Hunley recorded a demo, but labels weren't interested in a crooner in his 50s.

Dillon eventually released the song to Kenny Chesney to record.

In 1999, Hunley called up Norro Wilson, who had remained a friend.

"I just said, 'How'd you like to go in the studio just to record some old standard songs?' And Norro said, 'If you're ready, I'm ready.'"

Wilson helped gather some of music's legendary session players, including steel guitar great John Hughey and saxophonist Jim Horn. Hunley convinced sax legend Boots Randolph to appear on the disc.

Other friends came to the fore as well. Ralph Emery, legendary radio disc jockey and host of the now-defunct TV show "Nashville Now," agreed to film some TV spots to promote the new album, free of charge.

"If I'd had to pay him, I probably couldn't have afforded it," says Hunley.

Wilson says the audience for Hunley is still out there, but he just has to find a new way to find it.

"He looks great, and he's straight as a stick," says Wilson. "The big record companies don't care about Con Hunley, but about all you need now is a little independent. He just needs to do it in a 'Con Hunley way,' not the RCA Records way."

Hunley's Web site, www.conhunley.com, is beginning to receive e-mail from all over the United States. But Hunley is taking it slow, concentrating on getting the word out in East Tennessee.

"Sweet Memories," the title cut of Hunley's album, is a Mickey Newbury song that was one of Hunley's mother's favorites. The album features Hunley's spoken dedication to his mother for the song's introduction. Hunley says that when he told Wilson about the idea, Wilson only had this advice:

"He said, 'If that's what your heart tells you to do, do it.'"

Wayne Bledsoe may be reached at 865-342-6444.

Copyright 2004, Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.


New Year's Eve 2003 - An Evening With Con Hunley, Family & Friends - New Year's with Con Was a Blast!
Con Hunley's fans, friends and family gathered New Year's Eve at the Holiday Inn Select Downtown in Knoxville to celebrate the new year and the launch of his new CD Sweet Memories.

A special reception was held prior to the show for fans to meet with Con and receive a signed copy of the CD. Several fans had their picture taken with Con and a few lucky ladies got to sit on his lap! As you can see from these snapshots, the Smoky Mountain Blue-eyed Darlin' is still a ladykiller!


IMMI Records Announces New Years Eve Performance - December 15, 2003 - New Year's Eve Press Release
KNOXVILLE, TN - IMMI Records and Holiday Inn Select Downtown announce "An Evening with Con Hunley, Family and Friends" on New Year's Eve 2003.

The event will be a joint New Year's celebration and CD launch party for Hunley's first new release in several years. Entitled Sweet Memories and dedicated to his mother who passed away in 1999, the CD is a combination of several new songs and some old favorites. Sweet Memories was produced by legendary Nashville producer Norro Wilson and features a guest performance by Boots Randolph. The CD is being distributed nationally by IMMI Records.


Ralph Emery Commercial - Windows Media Video - Sweet Memories TV Commercial
Ralph says, "I've known a lot of great singers over the years and Con Hunley has always been one of my favorites. You can hear why on his new album, Sweet Memories. It's filled with country classics and familiar favorites."


Corner Lounge - Home of Con Hunley - March 6, 2003 - Excerpt from the Metro Pulse
The Corner Grill was a beer joint even in those earliest days. Ernestine Purkey remembers it when she was a girl. "When I walked by there, I thought that place stunk because it smelled like beer." Later, as a restaurant manager of the old Dixieland, she knew the owner of the Corner. When he ran into some sales-tax troubles, she offered to take over the place. "Ernie" Purkey became known for her homemade chili and cheeseburgers. Just a dozen minutes by foot from downtown, her Corner drew lawyers and politicians to mix with the regulars. She says she's seen governors and congressmen in here, but she's too discreet to name them.

It became better known as the Corner Lounge after Ernie stopped serving breakfast, concentrating her efforts on the evening crowd. Beginning in 1969, she had reason to. A handsome young fellow from Fountain City, fresh out of the service, showed up at the Corner and wanted to play piano. Ernie remembers her response: "If he can play, he can play," she said. "I don't want to hear no damn banging."

For the next decade, Con Hunley was an even bigger draw than Ernie's chili. Women came in hopes of meeting Con; men came in hopes of meeting women. On Thursday nights, especially, the small place was packed. "It just grew and grew till I'd have to open the door and let somebody out and somebody in."

She put out a sign over Central, shaped like the lid of a grand piano: Home of Con Hunley. He played there even for a couple years after he signed with Warner Brothers and his songs began climbing the country charts.

March 6, 2003 * Vol. 13, No. 10 © 2003 Metro Pulse


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