Thursday, December 6, 2012

There’s a new charitable event taking place in Austin, Texas next April. The inaugural MJ&M weekend was put together by Jack Ingram, Matthew McConaughey and University of Texas coach Mack Brown. They intend to positively impact the life of kids who are part of the action-packed weekend. You can find out more at the new website for the event, but according to Jack, “We wanted to create a true, lasting impact and that inspired us to come together.”
Carrie Underwood is excited to be taking her Blown Away tour across the pond in 2013. She’ll have tour stops in Ireland and the United Kingdom in March. Why Great Britain again? “People seem to like it. I know there will be an audience in front of me. I know that there is going to be a lot of people that show up. It’s comforting and exciting to think maybe I could take it all there and see what happens.” 

Miranda Lambert is knocking on the door to her next #1 song, but still loves “Fastest Girl in Town”: “I love ‘Fastest Girl In Town.’ Girl, I wrote it with Angaleena [Presley]. It’s obviously close to my heart cause I wrote it with a friend. I love doing it every night – it’s an anthem song. It’s so much fun.”

The Band Perry’s latest song, “Better Dig Two,” is a little bit obsessive, according to Kimberly and Neil: “[Kimberly] It’s really a love song, it’s just about kind of ultimate commitment. [Neil] It’s kinda like the vow ‘til death do us part.’ But not even then. Yeah. It’s like one step more than that. [Kim] It’s like ‘Baby, not even then will we be separated.’ [Neil] Can’t get rid of me! [Laughs]” Check out the ultimate commitment in their lyric video for the song…

Gary Allan is gratified that his new song, “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)” is climbing the charts nicely. “I think it’s the perfect single just because of what it says. I think I have been through a ton, and every storm runs out of rain. I think it’s a coming above the water song finally, so I thought it was perfect.” 
Monday night, Taylor Swift was honored by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. At a gala in New York City, she was presented with the Ripple of Hope Award and performed the song “Starlight,” which she has said was inspired by the Kennedy family. Ex beau Conor wasn’t there, and Taylor caught up with new boyfriend Harry Styles after the party. They joined the other One Direction members for some karaoke at the Hudson Hotel. 
Saturday night, Hayden Panatierre will co-host the CMT Artists of the Year special with Rascal Flatts. The Nashville actressis a big fan of country music and country artists: “Personally, I love—I’ve been a huge Miranda Lambert fan for years. The Pistol Annies. I’m a fan of Luke Bryan. I love Jason Aldean, I love The Band Perry. I’m—Lady Antebellum—you name ‘em! That’s the thing about country music—everyone’s a fan of everyone for the most part.” 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tonight is the Grammy Nominations Concert Live!! special on CBS, and Luke Bryan is honored to be part of the fun: “Anytime you’re associated with the Grammys it’s pretty cool. We’re honored to be associated and do the show. So we’re going to get up there and do our stuff and have a good time.” Taylor Swift co-hosts with LL Cool J, and in addition to Luke, Dierks Bentley, Hunter Hayes and The Band Perry will perform. It’s on at 10pm Eastern tonight on CBS.

Another Taylor Swift/Harry Styles spotting happened over the weekend. Taylor and the One Direction member were spotted sightseeing in Central Park, and wandering through the Central Park Zoo in New York City. Wonder if she’s started writing a song about him yet?

Rascal Flatts certainly has a huge fan base, but the guys are fans of country artists themselves. According to Jay DeMarcus, “Jason Aldean has really been tearing it up – and Little Big Town. We had them out on the road with us, and we’re such huge fans of those guys and what they’re doing right now. It’s so good when you see good people doing well.” They’ll get to celebrate country music alongside people they admire this Saturday night during the CMT Artist of the Year special.

Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood are in Haiti, helping out on a Habitat for Humanity build. It’s the second time they’ve been to the island nation to help rebuild after the earthquake in 2010. Their goal on this trip is to help build over 100 new homes as part of the 29th Annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project.

It was Kimberly Schlapman’s brother-in-law who died Thanksgiving week, causing the band to cancel or reschedule several tour dates. Andy Schlapman was struck by a drunk driver in Nashville, where he, his wife and their daughter were visiting. In a post on Little Big Town’s website, Kimberly wrote, “This is a part of life that one never imagines or plans for. It has been very difficult to accept.”
Have you listened to the new Florida Georgia Line cd yet? The debut album includes the #1 song, “Cruise,” and according to band member Brian Kelley, not all of it is original material: “We actually cut four or five outside songs that we didn’t write. If you didn’t look at the liner notes, I think our fans and people would think we wrote them just because they’re right up our alley. They are songs we believe in, and felt a connection with, and songs that we felt like we were doing something wrong if we didn’t cut them.” 
Kip Moore’s video for the song “Beer Money” includes a true-to-life scene – him being fired from a job. Kip wanted that scene, because: “That wasn’t in the original piece, ‘cause I thought about how I wanted the whole video to flow and the story, and at the end of it, I said, ‘Let’s go back and let’s do this opening scene like this,’ because that’s how so many of my jobs were. I was always trying to write songs while I was at work or doing other songs, and I always had bosses getting on to me, especially the whole time I was here in Nashville.” Check out the video now… 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Carrie Underwood has won the role of Maria Von Trapp on a live production of “The Sound of Music.” The special will air sometime near the holidays in 2013, so we have a long time to wait, and she has a long time to rehearse. This will be the Broadway version of “The Sound of Music,” and NBC honchos are thrilled that Carrie will star in the role Julie Andrews made famous.

Did you watch Blake Shelton’s “Not So Family Christmas” special last night after The Voice? His Mom, Dorothy, wife Miranda Lambert and Kelly Clarkson were all part of it, and Blake remembered his favorite Christmas gift ever: “The greatest Christmas present I ever remember receiving, was a Remington 243 deer rifle that my parents got me when I was 16-years-old. It wasn’t just all about the rifle to me, that was my parents saying to me, ‘You’re growing up. We trust you to have this rifle and not do something stupid – take care of it and be safe.’ That’s what I did – I took that very seriously.”
Luke Bryan will be out with not one, but two, new albums in 2013. This will mark the first time that his Spring Break compilation will be a physical disc, in addition to being a digital album, plus he’s working on what he calls “the main album,” and says it’ll be pretty awesome, too. He’ll perform on the Grammy Nominations Concert Live! Tomorrow night on CBS. 
More fuel for the Brantley Gilbert/Jana Kramer fire – she got sick in Florida, and tweeted a shot of Brantley by her hospital bed, wearing a hospital gown. She joked, “I knew he always wanted to wear a gown!” Earlier in the day, she tweeted photos of the two of them fishing in south Florida, catching a baby shark. 
Speaking of fires, Trace Adkins has responded to the firestorm surrounding his stars and bars earpiece, visible when he performed on NBC’s Christmas At Rockefeller Center. Trace said, “As a proud American I object to oppression of any kind. To me, the battle flag represents remembrance of my Southern lineage – I am a descendant of Confederate soldiers who followed that flag into battle. To those who view the flag as a symbol of racism, that was not my message and I did not intend offense.” 
Today, Lady Antebellum’s concert DVD is out – “Own The Night World Tour” includes documentary and bonus footage, as well as the full concert they performed in Little Rock, Arkansas. If you run out for that, get their Christmas album, too – “On This Winter’s Night” is full of favorites to get you into the holiday spirit, and the cover, shot in Park City, Utah, sure got Hillary in the mood: “I’ve never seen that much just perfect, pure an untouched snow before. So, I just wanted to go and run around in it!” 

Monday, December 3, 2012

People who have too much time on their hands and are too easily offended are on Trace Adkins’ case. When he performed at the Christmas At Rockefeller Center tv special on NBC, his “stars and bars” earpiece was visible. A Twitter storm erupted and now online media is fanning the flames. Trace himself hasn’t commented, but in his autobiography, A Personal Stand, he does state that he’s a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Alan Jackson fans, heads up – there’s a limited-edition photo book called Seasons of Sweetbriar – A Photographic Collection of Home available, and it’s all shots of the home Alan and his wife Denise lived for nearly 14 years. Alan collected photographs to make a journal for his kids and is now sharing them with us, to benefit the Colon Cancer Alliance’s Blue Note Fund. Denise has battled colorectal cancer, and you can only get the book on Alan’s website.
Fans of Lee Brice’s song “I Drive Your Truck” will want to check out CMT today, because Lee plays VJ for a Day and share the video for the song. Lee is so pumped about this song: “We are looking forward to that day. We love that song. It really changed my life when I heard it. I couldn’t believe I got my hands on it. I didn’t write the song, I just—still floored by it to this day, so we’re really, really pumped about that one.” He’s also pumped about the video, which stars his real-life brother, Lewis. 

Love and Theft are racing up the charts with their new song, “Running Out of Air,” and Stephen Barker Liles says it’s a challenging but fun song to sing: “I get to sing in a lower, Barry White-like octave to Eric, so that’s kind of fun, get to use my deep voice. I’ve been waitin’ to do that — I just didn’t think I’d ever get a chance. [Eric] It’s good. He’s really like Barry White in so many ways. [Stephen] And you know, you know what he’s talking about. It’s weird that Eric actually knows that…but we’ve been spendin’ a lot of time on the road.” All kidding aside, the title could also describe trying to sing the song, as the pacing is pretty tough in some places. Sing along and see how you do…
Wednesday night, country music stars will be part of the Grammy Nominations Live tv special. Dierks Bentley and The Band Perry will pay tribute to the late Johnny Cash, Luke Bryan is performing, Taylor Swift and LL Cool J will host the special, and Hunter Hayes will perform – if his nerves allow it! “It is very nerve-wracking. You want them to like you, you know? I want them to like, I don’t want them to hate me. I want them to know that I love it, and that I—I’m grateful to be in the building with them basically. Yeah—it’s a balance of trying to be comfortable and trying to keep the nerves cause that’s what keeps it real.” 
Reba’s show, Malibu Country, has been picked up for additional episodes by ABC, and Reba’s delighted. Not just because she likes to be the star of a television show, but because she’s also trying to make a difference in peoples’ lives: “There are so many single moms in this country, that I hope the writers and I can give them options. Kind of like Andy Griffith did us – you know raising our kids. Hopefully we can give them some options and way of doing things, standing our ground and raising our kids – and we’ll do this together.” Catch Reba’s show Friday nights on ABC. 
Congrats to Scotty McCreery, who has a gold record for “Christmas With Scotty McCreery.” He says, “We’re really excited about it. Anytime you put a Christmas record out, you just hope people will get it and spread a little holiday cheer with them. So I’m excited that people are digging it and spending the holidays with us.” 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Forbes Magazine is out with their list of “The World’s 25 Highest-Paid Musicians 2012” and country music artists fare pretty well. Taylor Swift is tied with Sir Paul McCartney for the #8 spot on the list, each raking in $57 million for the year. Toby Keith is at #10, tied with Justin Bieber with $55 million in earnings. Kenny Chesney landed at #17, with a $44 million paycheck for 2012.

Zac Brown Band has had an incredible run since hitting the charts in 2008 with “Chicken Fried,” and Zac himself credits their character and work ethic for their success: “We’ve matured. We’re better musicians and better writers, we’re better as a band and as a unit and it reflects in the music. We spend hours and hours writing the songs and hours and hours arranging them and recording them and everything. We work harder than a lot of other bands, I think. And I think that’s what sets us apart.” Their new song, “Goodbye In Her Eyes,” is evocative and sad, but the video shows us the magic in they lyrics…

Carrie Underwood’s new song, “Two Black Cadillacs,” started out with just a song title from co-writer Josh Kear. “He came in with the title ‘Two Black Cadillacs’. Didn’t’ know what it was about. Wasn’t really sure of the storyline, and had the loop that was just, you know, ‘Two black cadillacs’, and that was it! So we were like, ‘Well, what could this be about? Why would you be in a cadillac? AH! Funeral! Ahh, okay!’” The story they told in the song is dark, and apparently the video will be even darker when it comes out in January. Here’s a sneak-peek…
Think putting up the Christmas tree is an ordeal at your house? Well, country artists are no different – Keifer and Shawna of Thompson Square put their sup this week, and apparently managed to stay married in spite of it: “3AM she about drove me crazy with this thing! We had to drive an hour to even get the tree. We probably spent a cumulative of 10 hours shopping for bulbs and Christmas ornaments and stuff. [Shawna] It was a little much, but we got it done. [Keifer] It was too much, but yeah we got it done. [Shawna] Actually, it’s not completely done. [Keifer] Now she wants to add some more stuff.” 
Florida Georgia Line is enjoying their first taste of success, and met Cyndi Lauper at the American Music Awards. Brian Kelley says that she’s a role model to the duo, and she gave them some amazing advice: “She told us one thing – don’t conform, continue to be yourself and always to challenge yourself to continue to get better and continue to try to get the best music out there as you can. She is so inspiring, she was having a great time and what an amazing artist. If anybody acts herself it’s her. She stood out and didn’t care – it was cool.” Their debut album comes out on Tuesday. 
Tomorrow, Shania Twain debuts in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace, and will continue doing shows there for the next two years. About the theatre, Shania says, “There is no other venue where the possibilities are endless as they are at Caesars Palace. That is for sure - I’ve seen a ton of shows in Vegas myself over the years, and I’m a great fan of going to live shows whenever I’m in Vegas. People go there for a trip – and I hope I become part of their trip.” 
Sounds like Randy Travis is trying to get his life back in order after a few drunken arrests. He says he’s “eliminated alcohol from his daily life,” eats a high protein diet and takes lots of vitamins. According to gossip website TMZ, he was in a recording studio in Texas last week, working on new music.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Blake Shelton is proving that country artists are a lot more than just a pretty face and a good song: “Nashville – there is a lot of creative people here - and we don’t all fit into a mold. There are a lot of talented people here that can do a lot of different things. I just happen to be one of them. I happen to be one of the guys that happens to be the first to do it on TV. And everybody go, ‘Oh I didn’t even know country people could read – that’s crazy!’ Not that I can read, I’m just saying.” He made Jay Leno laugh last night and tonight will be giggling with Chelsea on Chelsea Lately. Knowing those two, they’ll probably be knocking back a few, too! 

Little Big Town is taking some time off the road following a death in their family. The announcement on their Facebook page didn’t specify the relationship, just that it was an immediate family member. They’ve postponed two shows in California and skipped a slot on the Tonight show this week.

From the “ok, this is kind of weird” file, Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott and Chris Tyrell, the band’s drummer, don’t travel together when they’re on the road. Chris rides in the band bus so he can stay in tune with them, and Hillary shares a bus with Charles Kelley and Dave Heywood. According to Hillary, “You have to separate it a little bit, and thankfully – knock on wood and praise God – it’s been such a smooth transition.”

From the “this won’t happen again” file, Kelly Clarkson won’t be giving anymore interviews to British magazine The Mirror. She’s the cover story, but it’s not a flattering story. The headline reads ”No One On The Planet Should Be As Famous As Me,” though Kelly says that’s a misquote. She says she was really saying that she doesn’t want to be as famous as Britney Spears or Madonna, because she’s had a taste of what they have to deal with, and Kelly says she didn’t handle it well. The article also says she’s had a battle with anorexia, and that’s not true either.
What do country music artists think about the new country music TV show, “Nashville?” Chris Young approves: “I actually really like the show. You always get nervous anytime someone wants to do a show on your hometown. I don’t think that would change even if it wasn’t a music town, and obviously something that is the home of country music.” Brad Paisley’s wife Kimberly just signed on for four more episodes, and she’ll likely be a regular if the show gets a second season.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How do you have a debut and a #1 in the same week? Jake Owen cracked the code on that last week – his daughter, Olive Pearl, made her debut into the world, and his song “The One That Got Away” topped the country charts. It’s his third #1 song, and Jake’s elated: “It’s been almost eight and a half years. It’s been really cool, everything that’s happened and I’m just very fortunate.” Jake’s on the road right now with Florida Georgia Line, whose single “Cruise” is nipping at Jake’s heels – it’s #2 on the country charts this week. According to Brian Kelley, his FGL bandmate, Tyler Hubbard, predicted the song’s success: “First day in the studio when we were recording ‘Cruise’ and it was starting to come to life, BK looked at me and he said, ‘Dude, we’re gonna sell a million copies of this song.’ I’m like, ‘Dude, there’s no way. It’s not even possible.’ And that was a year ago and we were starting to work on it so it’s uh...I guess we have big dreams and big goals and we try to reach those goals.” Florida Georgia Line’s debut album, Here’s To The Good Times, is out next week.

Taylor Swift’s album, Red, is at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart for the third week in a row. “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” spent seven weeks atop the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, more than any of her other singles. What’s the song all about? Taylor explains, “Constantly fighting and causing a scene and making everyone uncomfortable and clearly everyone around us knows we need to break up and we won’t and they are all rolling their eyes at us. At a certain point, you realize you just have to be really bold about it. ‘No, we are not getting back together!’”

Pistol Annies’ members Ashley Monroe, Angaleena Presley and Miranda Lambert are working on their sophomore album. There’s no release date, but Miranda says it’ll be worth the wait: “The new album will be just what you expect. It’s three country girls singing about three country girls’ lives and we write everything on our own. We did on the last record and our goal on this next record is to write everything just in our family, just the three of us girls again.”
Trace Adkins had a break in the taping of All-Star Celebrity Apprentice, and used that break to schedule his seventh USO tour in 11 years. He’s in Japan, giving four private concerts for US troops and their families.