The first time I met Jason Deere, who produced my album "Nothin' Like the Summer," I was 19 years old. Fresh off "American Idol," I had met my fair share of other artists and celebrities and had started to form my own opinion about what music stars were really like.
Then I met the guys from Due West.
Brad Hull, Tim Gates and Matt Lopez were working with Deere on one of their EPs out in Nashville, and the first thing I thought when I was introduced to them was "They're so nice!"
Up until then, most people I met had a serious spotlight attitude. It was all about getting somewhere and filling your circle with only "important" people who could promote your image or career.
But these guys were genuine. They started coming to the studio to hear me record as friends of Deere — and were probably excited that a fellow Utahn had made the southern switch to country — but to my amazement, their support didn't stop there.
If they heard I was performing in some old café or dive downtown, they'd be there.
If they came to Utah and I happened to have a concert that weekend, they'd be in the audience to cheer me on and give me a word of encouragement afterward.
There were many times I was in the recording studio belting my guts out and I'd look up to see one of them making a goofy face or giving me a thumbs-up from the engineer lounge.
Years later, Due West has made quite a name for itself in the country music world. The group's debut album "Due West" has received rave reviews online, and their live performance is not something to be missed.
They are a hard-working, traditional, good ol' country boy band with plenty of talent and heart. Their sound is classic country interwoven with rock and blues.
Due West's songs are a mix of serious life experiences, such as "When the Smoke Clears," which is about a man who considers cheating and is then talked out of it because he knows he'll regret it, and honky-tonk fun such as "22 Hours a Day," which is about traveling the road and living out of a van just to get a gig, and how the music makes the miles worth it (my favorite).
Due West's harmonies are unparalleled, their songs are great, and the men behind the music are even better. Despite many ups and downs and being kicked around by the industry, they are in it for the long haul — and that's what I love about Due West.
Download their music on iTunes and check out this up-and-coming band at duewest.com.
Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant and writes about entertainment for the Deseret News.