Tag Archives: Barley Station

Katie Belle Akin: Review of “You Are My Holiday”


Katie’s enthusiasm for music and singing has been consistent since an early age.  Following her dreams, working hard, and learning from her mistakes with an always upbeat attitude has helped her multi-task successfully as a musical entertainer and in fashion as a model.


Since her very first music release, and even since my last review of her music, she has come a long, long way, and like a fine wine, only improves with time.

She has that special “it” in all that she does that brings me to her Christmas song, which I pulled from her back catalog of other great songs.  

Blessed with natural vocal talent and an ear for a good melody, Katie brings home the Christmas cheer easily with her song “You Are My Holiday“. I dug this song up by accident and was surprised I didn’t find it before. It is from 2012 but sounds as fresh as yesterday!  It is pure goodness!

I can hear this song being covered by other artists in the future in a big way. And it is also a great candidate for a Christmas movie soundtrack.


The rich warm acoustic guitar played by song co-writer Kip Williams starts the song out accompanied by Katie’s naturally pure and very tuned vocals and with the snare brushes and brush hits that give it a light and smooth feel.

Katie’s vocal gives a rich, warm, and enchanting beginning to the song that when the chorus kicks in knocks you out with a fantastic hook that will be stuck in your head for life.

As the song progresses from the perfect opening sparse arrangement, more instrumentation comes in and the bass picks things up a notch and never lets it back down.

With dramatic vocal pauses before the chorus, the song is well arranged and puts the “Merry” into Merry Christmas.

The song will fill you with feelings of jubilee and bright cheerfulness washing away any kind of sadness that sometimes come to many this time of year. The song is like an escape into merriment and blissful joy.

Katie Belle’s Homepage:  http://www.katiebellega.com

Watch the video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/gvqd1IKorwI




Olivia Penalva | “Dream You Home” Single Review

by Randy Wayne Belt
Dec 23, 2017

(First published in Starlight Music Chronicles on Nov. 30, 2017)

I’ll admit I love the Hallmark Christmas movies.  There’s something about that time of year  that makes even the mediocre movies seem good or magical.  But the best ones always have great music behind them.  Olivia Penalva’s new Christmas song “Dream You Home” would fit well as a background track for one of the well produced Hallmark Christmas movies, or any other, for that matter. This song is far beyond medicocrity.

Olivia, who hails from Vernon, BC in Canada, has put together quite a gem with this new song.  It has that magical sparkle to it in the underlying arrangements.  It is not as much an in-your-face Christmas song as it is capturing the spirit behind the season, making it perfect for placement in any Christmas or Holiday movie.  The chorus of the song is very memorable and powerful and even having  this as a background track would make any movie even better. (Great tracks can MAKE a great movie)

Not only does the song have a great mix of sounds based around a sort of shuffle march type drum beat on the verses but the lyrics are well written and paint a perfect picture of what she is trying to convey.

My favorite lyric in “Dream You Home” is “The light in your soul shines brighter than gold in my heart – that’s where you are.”

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The images invoked by the song could be any number of situations. It could be a lost loved one or a significant other who is separated by distance or time, or even a soldier gone in a far away land during the Christmas Season and the song  is almost like the soldiers spouse singing to bring him home even if it’s only at home in the heart.


The song does indeed grab your heart and imagination, which is, to me, the ultimate goal of a song – to speak to anyone or everyone in any situation.  This is one more thing that makes it an easy shoo in for anyone considering it for a spot in a Christmas movie.

Often, it is this time of year when many find themselves missing a loved one in some capacity, and it isn’t always the best time for many, but even still and even if you are not into Christmas or the spirit of it, and even if you are the Grinch himself, this song still weighs in on its own merit as a song with a powerful  chorus that demands attention and speaks to the soul.

This isn’t Olivia’s first Christmas song.  I reviewed “Christmas For Two” which was published in Starlight Music Chronicles’ December issue back in 2015


And also on my own blog: https://barleystation.wordpress.com/2015/12/19/review-of-christmas-for-two/

Since that time Olivia has progressed even further as an artist and has honed even further her vocal and songwriting skills. Recently reaching a million plays on Spotify, her newer music bears out how far she’s grown since then.

Her voice still has that same special warmth to it but with a sultry yet still innocent sound that will capture your ears, heart, and will leave a memorable impression when you hear it.  I compared her voice before, in a sense to that of Nora Jones, or Colbie Caillet.  In fact, since the last review, Olivia was able to be mentored by Colbie Caillet after winning teen artist of the year in the Starlight Music Chronicles “Artist of the Year Contest” in 2016.

As a winner, Olivia got to attend ArtistMax an Artist Development program in L.A. in March 2017. Artist Max was dreamed up by legendary producer and engineer Ken Caillet (Fleetwood Mac Rumours) and was mentored there by Ken and Colbie Caillet, and David Foster in L.A..

Link to Dream You Home on Spotify:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OliviaMusicLive/

Website: https://www.oliviamusiclive.com/

YouTube Lyrics Video: https://youtu.be/Fp6F0TAK1AI

Olivia Penalva SMC 2016 TEEN Artist of the Year

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/dream-you-home/1300720379?i=1300720661

Back There Somewhere

With the release of the new album Back There Somewhere on September 14, Barley Station has launched a weekly Facebook Live show called ‘T-Night Live with Barley Station’.  The format draws somewhat from the old Saturday Night Live concepts and formats and incorporates a type of humor, skits, and live music into the weekly broadcast. Already into Episode 3, which is the most fun and zaniest Episode yet, the band promises to take you on a ride that will leave you laughing, crying, singing along, or in stitches. 

(watch below – Facebook required to view -And below THAT is the Official Press Release of the Album)

Episode 3


For all Episodes go to:  https://barleystation.net/tnight-live-archives


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September 14th, 2017 – Barley Station has just announced the official release of their third studio album ‘Back There Somewhere’ via Barleyfields Records (ASCAP). The first new single off the album, ‘Waiting’, released on August 10th, 2017 and has already been well received by North American and European media and radio.

Barley Station consists of multi-instrumentalists Randy Wayne Belt and Brian (Hex Jin) Kious as its core vocal and songwriting team, and is often joined onstage by others. The album also guest features the exquisite backing vocals of Virginia Grey of Carolina Magnolia fame. (Tracks 3 and 4 on the album)

Founded in 2011, Barley Station has written, produced, and launched two albums ‘After All’ (2012), and ‘Damaged Goods’ (2013) followed by a multiplicity of singles. Songs from the ‘Damaged Goods’ album have already hit the top 10 on charts in Paris, France and with the release of the bands’ new album ‘Back There Somewhere’ (September 14th, 2017), the band will surely become a household name on the European charts. Barley Station has been picked up by prestigious curated Spotify Playlists and have received glowing press feedback from a myriad of credible publications, radio, and television media platforms. The bands’ signature sound is a genre crossover blend of Americana, Country, Pop, Folk, and even Rock Alternative which is authentic and original.


Inside art and disc art

Singles from ‘Back There Somewhere’ have already garnered the interest of North American radio and media such as Steel Notes, Skope, AVA Live Radio, Indie Music Monday, Starlight Music Chronicles, American Pride Magazine, and Ally’s Attic to name a few. Their first single off the new album ‘Waiting’, was released on August 10th, 2017 and is a warm, uplifting, mellifluous song reflective of the heart of this masterpiece.

Songs like ‘Take Me To The Shade’, and ‘Warm Embraces’ lend a fun element to the album while others like ‘Long Ago Angel’, ‘Like Winter’, and ‘Keep Me High’ add emotional depth with well thought out lyrics & Instrumentation that is a true reflection of Americana.

A few previously released singles like ‘Double Star’, ‘Like Destiny’, ‘4th Of July’, and ‘Must Be Something’ have been added to the album to appease avid Barley Station fans and European radio who have demonstrated a strong, supportive response for them. The closing number on this album, ‘Come On Down Hey’, is the jewel in the crown. It is a smooth but driving song that is inviting in its lyrics and jubilant in its melody with mandolin weaved in careully. It’s the perfect way to leave loyal fans on a lingering note of what’s to come for this exceptional band.

Back There Somewhere | Track Listing

Release Date: September 14th, 2017

  1. Waiting 3:04
  2. Take Me To The Shade 3:13
  3. Warm Embraces 2:39
  4. Long Ago Angel 3:54
  5. Keep Me High 3:59
  6. Must Be Something 4:02
  7. Like Winter 3:41
  8. Double Star 3:29
  9. Like Destiny 3:21
  10. 4th Of July 2:21
  11. Come On Down Hey 4:03

The album is available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes, and has also been launched on Spotify.


Website: barleystation.net


PR Contact: Candice Marshall pr@barleystation.net

Releasing Your Own Music in a Nutshell

Releasing your own music in a nutshell.

Since I frequently get asked a lot of questions regarding distribution and releasing new music by new or newer independent artists I thought I’d write this hopefully short blog to answer a few of those questions. This is nutshell, not comprehensive!

You have a single or an album and you want to release it. First make sure you copyright your work. Go to copyright.gov to do that. Next, if you are in this for the long haul, you’ll need a PRO (Performing Rights Organization) such as BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC which are among the most recognized. Personally, I use ASCAP for both my publishing arm of my own label and personally as a songwriter, copyright holder. Go to their respective website and signup. It’s easy. Having your works registered in the database is also a bit of insurance if you run into a copyright issue and you need to prove that your work was created before a certain date.

You’ll also want to register with SoundExchange for collection of digital performing rights. Now you you need distribution. I can’t tell you who has the best prices and gives you the most of your cut, but considering the cut major labels take, this should be the least of your worries because the cut you take from ANY independent friendly distributor is WAY more than any major label will ever give you (and many indie labels as well.) So there is no sense in nickel and diming at this stage of your game.

Fact is, you are not going to sell a lot of physical or digital copies at first unless you have huge money backing you for marketing and advertising.
So the best bet is to go with an independent friendly distribution service like CD Baby. I have used CD Baby for my band Barley Station from day 1
of our first release back in 2012. And I used them prior to that for a previous band and have always have had great service and communication
with a myriad of extra benefits.

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Here’s an example of one of my own releases to the right —>

So, without sounding like an ad for CD Baby, I must say I have not felt the need to shop for other services as I have been very happy with all they have to offer. And what they have to offer answers a lot of the other questions I get.

CD Baby has a lot fo benefits for the independent artist. For one, they have been doing this for many, many years. They have made the connections you won’t need to spend the time making, if you even can.

If you need digital distribution, they cover it. They will get your music to your choice of paying platforms and/or a combo of non paying platforms as well. They get your music to iTunes, Spotify, Amazon MP3, Deezer, Tidal, Google Music Store, iHeartRadio, Pandora, Rhapsody, Groove, Rumblefish, and many more. And they are always adding what is new.

In addition to this, they offer YouTube content ID and make sure you get paid if someone uses your music for anything on YouTube, and in general, protect your copyrights there. This is an option they provide so you want to make sure that that option is for you.
And now that you have registered with SoundExchange, when you are entering your release data while signing up your single or album, they will send your release info to SoundExchange.

And if that is not enough, you need UPC bar codes? For a small amount more (usually only $5) they can assign you a bar code so that purchases of your album get registered with Soundscan and are tracked (if you want to eventually hit the charts after you sell a lot copies) OR you can always request your own UPC barcodes.

If you want radio play of various sorts you will want ISRC codes attached to your track.
(International Standard Recording Code) is the international identification system for sound recordings and music video recordings. These codes are unique and permanent identifiers for your song and are like your songs fingerprints and are used to track your spins and collection of royalties. You need these! CD Baby can assign these as well.

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Another benefit is that CD Baby often partners with other services that you may need, such as Easy Song Licensing if you want to release a cover song, and services like RadioAirplay.com if you want to test out your music on radio and have great stat analysis. And they have a number of other helpful partners, blogs, and newsletters to offer the DIY artist.

Not only that, but CD Baby has tracking and trending reports of services such as your Spotify Streams and iTunes sales before they hit your account as monies. All these services are with a basic album signup and not the Pro package. That has its own benefits but is not necesary unless you just want everything all in one place, such as ASCAP collections if your are with ASCAP.

And yet another benefit is you can opt for brick and mortar distribution so that when the demand comes for your album, CD Baby can supply that particular store for you. This is, of course, unless you’d rather do your own consignment, but I find it is much simpler to allow them to handle that unless you enjoy doing paper work and following up with all your consignments and tracking them yourself, which eventually can turn into a real pain.

The question also comes to me of having any legal issues hassles when you part ways is not a question I have had to worry about thus far because the service with CD Baby has never lacked for me and I have not as yet felt any need to part ways with them. But since they are professionals, that is not something I would worry about. The fact is, if you happen to get a major label deal, your new label would handle the legal aspects of all that for you.

Others may have other opinions, but I speak only from my own experience.
In short, CD Baby is a service I highly recommend to handle a lot of needs and keep your own work load down and get the biggest bang for your buck without having yearly fees and as many worries.

New Album To Be Released Sept. 14, 2017

After releasing a litany of singles since the last album, a new album is ready to go. It will only be featuring 4 of the singles previously released and has 7 brand new songs and remixes of the singles.  The new Barley Station album is set to be released on Thursday, September 14, 2017

The title is “Back There Somewhere”.  Pre-release sales on iTunes and Amazon begin on August 10, also a Thursday.  The Instant gratification track will be the leading track, a song titled “Waiting”.

BS3art1400pix copy

With 11 tracks on the album, each one has its own story, mood, and exemplifies how carefully selected and crafted each song was in the studio. No one song defines who Barley Station is so one won’t be picked for that purpose.

One of the more unusual songs though, is Double Star.  The song Double Star evokes imagery and terminology throughout that relates a relationship, or longing for that special someone, to the relationship between the stars and constellations and evokes astronomy terminology to explain it in a metaphorical way.

Have you heard of a wandering star? What is it? The retrograde motion of planets causing them to appear to be stars that move back and forth was the inspiration that caused the song to be written.  Like the skies at night, the relationship between people is not always what they seem.

Hear Double Star on Spotify:


In its use of metaphors to describe this relationship one wonders if it is so far into space that they might think “is it a love out of reach or is it a possibility”?  The lines “When the sun is dark will you be my star and take me into orbit” paint a picture of the longing but in the song’s lyric “Did aurora’s laugh into your skies?” there arises the doubt – What does it mean? Can it be interpreted in several ways? Is it a joke? Is it a joy? Can you figure it out?  Listen to the lyrics and see if you can.

First released as a single in late 2015, a slightly different mix of Double Star will be appearing as track number 8 on our third full length studio album due out on September 14, 2017. True to Barley Station outlaw form, the album is a mix and blend of genres from rock to folk to country and beyond.

“Like Destiny” Coming Soon!

On Thursday, January 21, 2016, Barley Station will release a new single titled “Like Destiny”.  Blending folk and rock with progressive beats and pop sensibilities, this one has been called the best yet by those who have heard the song. The song will be available at most digital retail outlets.

Here is a sneak peek of the album art:

Like Destiny11400pix

Snippet from a Pre-release review:
“You’ll want to find a pretty spot under the old oak tree by the river and let Barley Stations new single ‘Like Destiny’ flow right through your soul.

“The unique instrumental in the song pairs perfectly with Vocalist Randy Wayne Belts ‘tranquil fluid motion’ vocals transcending one into a heavenly place of peace also known as: bliss… Infectious and pretty, this song is one for the iPod ‘favorites’ playlist for sure!”
~CA Marshall editor of Starlight Music Chronicles and Magazine

(Click here for a sneak audio from the track “Like Destiny”)


Album art by Candice Anne Graphics & Photography



Review of “Christmas For Two”

Review and Interview with Olivia Penalva

by Randy Wayne Belt

(first published in Starlight Music Chronicles Magazine)

As a connoisseur of original Christmas music it’s always great to find something new that is full of festive joy, delight, and fabulous vocals!   “Christmas For Two” by Canadian recording artist Olivia Penalva is just one of those songs.  With a fresh clean sound that has a somewhat Jazzy and R&B old motown rhythmic feel combined with a very contemporary vocal and lyric, Olivia delivers a song that reminds us of the joy of the season, and just enjoying life and having fun.  It is the perfect Christmas feel-good song!


As a singer, not only on this song, but in all of her work, her voice  has a timbre and character that make one think of a voice like that of Andrea Wittgens, Nora Jones, or Colbie Caillat.  Olivia’s voice has a mature tonal quality to it and a special warmth with a sultry yet innocent character to it that will capture your heart and ears.

Perhaps it’s that innocence of youth that can best create the atmosphere of a joyous life-is-good Christmas song.


At a mere 15 years old, Olivia has already begun making a splash in music, and the addition of “Christmas For Two” to her repertoire will only further the ripples created by the waves she’s already making.

This new Holiday song has already gained some radio play alongside other well established artists with Christmas songs on this years Christmas playlists such as 103.5 QMFM in her home area of Vancouver, BC; Majic 100 in Ottawa, ON and more. But this isn’t her first airplay.  

Then there is Miss Penalva’s recent single “Ferris Wheel”, a song that has a carefree atmosphere with a strong rhythm section, once again, giving a solid beat behind the song which is, more than less, a celebration of life.  With another powerful vocal performance, the song will simply leave you in a good mood!  The control she has over her voice allows her to naturally move around her notes and move in and out of vocal inflections with great ease.  This is a very note worthy song also garnering airplay support.

(Official video for “Ferris Wheel” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMcmCV9-aBM    )

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Another song I should mention is a song called “Forgettable” which Olivia co-wrote and collaborated on with a Canadian DJ Group called Project 46 who released it as part of their own album called “Beautiful”.  And indeed it IS a beautiful!  At this stage in her career, the music seems to be defined by strong rhythm section and very powerful vocals.

(Listen to “Forgettable” at this link:   https://soundcloud.com/djproject46/forgettable-ft-olivia-free-gift-info-below  )

So don’t shrug off the “fifteen years old” part because her voice is like that of an experienced 20-something, and one only needs to be reminded that when LeAnn Rimes came out with “Blue” and floored everyone with her mature sounding voice at age 14, they said the same thing with a similar “Wow” effect.  Her voice simply commanded respect and admiration.

So naturally, one of the questions I wanted to ask leads right into my interview:

Click Here to read my interview with Olivia in Starlight Music Chornicles Magazine