As three of the biggest stars in country music, Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney and Miranda Lambert have a lot in common. They each have multiple radio hits, platinum albums, regularly play in front of sold-out crowds around the country, and in mid-April they all had albums that were surpassed on the iTunes Country Chart by Camp Hill-native Ben Gallaher's self-titled debut.
"It completely blew my mind," Gallaher said in a recent interview. "I knew that I had a pretty good fan base at home but I had no idea it was going to blow up like that. Everything was just going haywire in my mind. It was an incredible night."
Recorded at a friend's apartment in Nashville, Gallaher's impressive 11-song debut strikes a balance between sing-along boot-stompers and heartfelt country ballads – some written in high school and some finished right before he started recording in January.
"This is about the third time I've recorded some of these songs, but this is by far the most advanced," Gallaher said. "There are parts to every one of these songs that I love, but I think Tennessee Whiskey is the best song that I've written to date. I finished that in December right before we started recording."
Ben Gallaher will perform live at the next SaraBozich.com Happy Hour on May 23. Learn more after the jump.
Currently a junior at Belmont University in Nashville pursuing a major in Entertainment Industry Studies and a minor in Music Business, Gallaher had the unenviable task of balancing school work and recording.
"That is a problem, and that's why my grades second semester went down," Gallaher laughed. "We started recording in January and it took so long. I thought we would go in and knock the record out and be good to go. I had no idea the process it takes to record an album."
Now that the album is out, the focus moves to promoting the record and building a fan-base, and judging by the crowd reaction when Gallaher opened for Craig Campbell last week – he's off to a great start in central Pennsylvania.
"To see people singing back 'Then There's Friday' and 'Hold Onto Me,' it's just unreal," Gallaher added. "I can't describe it."
It may have taken Ben Gallaher a little longer than he wanted before he took his guitar to Nashville to chase his dream, but the wait has certainly paid off.
"I wanted to go to Belmont from high school, and I was absolutely devastated when I didn't get in – but it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me," Gallaher said. "I made so many great friends at Penn State Mont Alto and wrote so many songs that ended up on the record that year. Looking back, I wasn't ready for Nashville yet."
"When I finish school I don't know what is going to happen, but the plan now is for me and the band — which I'm working on as soon as I get back to Nashville — to get a van and start playing dive bars. That's what you have to do," Gallaher said. "It takes years and it's hard work but it's 'how bad do you want it' – and for me there is nothing else I would rather do."
You can hear Ben Gallaher perform for FREE at the next SaraBozich.com Happy Hour on Wednesday, May 23 at The Thatch (3rd floor) of Ceoltas Irish Pub. Catch Gallaher at his last area show before he returns to Nashville. If you need any extra motivation, RSVP on Facebook and your first beer is free.
You can find more information on Ben Gallaher on Facebook, Twitter or at www.bengallahermusic.com. Plus, buy and download his self-titled debut album from iTunes.