Friday, December 31, 2010

Today's Country Tidbits

What do you give a guy who helps you score another #1 song and a pair of Grammy nominations? If you're Alan Jackson, you give Zac Brown a 1966 Cadillac. In a press release, Alan said, “I think Zac is one of the coolest new talents to come along and he’s a Georgia boy like me. It was an honor to be on his record.” Wednesday afternoon, just before Zac Brown Band's sold-out show at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Zac spotted the white convertible El Dorado and admired it. Then Alan told him, "That's your car." According to Alan, “He’s a pretty good fellow, and I just wanted to do something for him.” Typical Alan Jackson understatement and modesty! Here's Alan joining ZBB for "As She's Walkin' Away" on Wednesday night in Nashville.

Blake Shelton will be hanging with farmers & farm equipment on February the 8th. He's been invited to perform at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, California. The concert will be a fund-raiser for several organizations associated with California agriculture.

All across the country, people will be ringing in the New Year at country concerts. Here are just a few of the shows going on tonight:

Miranda Lambert – Temecula, CA
Zac Brown Band – Atlanta, GA
Chris Young – Arlington, TX
Easton Corbin – Dallas, TX
Gretchen Wilson – Rosenberg, TX
Randy Rogers Band – Oklahoma City, OK
Phil Vassar, Heidi Newfield, Will Hoge – Bash on Broadway; Nashville, TN
Steel Magnolia – Denver, CO
Tracy Lawrence – Opelousas, LA

The tweet of the day is from Jack Ingram: "NYE- San Antonio, TX, Cowboys. Be there. I will! Let's sing that Auld Lang Syne together. We'll all mumble until that part we know comes!!!!"

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Today's Country Tidbits

Pollstar has compiled its annual list of the top-grossing tours in the world, and country artists scored six of the top 50 slots.

#24 Tim McGraw
#25 Brad Paisley
#26 George Strait/Reba/Lee Ann Womack
#27 Taylor Swift
#31 Carrie Underwood
#47 Rascal Flatts

The top-grossing tour of 2010 was Bon Jovi, who raked in over $201 million with 80 shows.

Darius Rucker is going to pour some sugar on New Orleans. He's part of the Allstate Sugar Bowl celebrations, giving a free concert during the two-day Fan Fest this Sunday and Monday, and then performing the National Anthem before the Arkansas/Ohio State game on January 4th. While he's in New Orleans, he's going to pitch in and help clean up areas still trashed by Hurricane Katrina.

All roads lead to Nashville, especially the road bringing other genres of music into the country fold. Better Than Ezra frontman Kevin Griffin is moving to Nashville after tasting a little bit of songwriting success there. He wrote "Stuck Like Glue" for Sugarland, whom he met when Better Than Ezra drummer Travis McNabb decided to take a hiatus from the band to tour with them. Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum have cited Kevin's band as a musical influence for their music. And there's a strong rumor going around that Lindsey Lohan is in talks with Big Machine, home of Taylor Swift, to put out a country album. Hey, y''s not as easy as it looks!!

Zac Brown Band played Bridgestone Arena last night. The show was sold out, and the audience got a special treat, as Alan Jackson joined the guys on stage for "As She's Walking Away."

Bridgestone Arena in Nashville just had the best month in it's history. More people went to more events this month than any month ever before, beating the old record by a long shot. Thanks to nine sold-out Garth Brooks shows, seven heavily-attended Predators games and six other big concerts, 334,917 people visited the arena for 22 separate events. The previous record-setting month was March of 2001, when 248,600 people visited the arena as it hosted the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament for the first time.

Happy birthday to Suzy Bogguss who turns 54 today.

The tweet of the day is from Jerrod Niemann: "Wow! U know you've had better days when u get cussed by a guy wearing nothing but a speedo & a gold chain. I feel bad for the hotel employee"

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Today's Country Tidbits

Carrie Underwood will remember 2010 as a really good year. First, it's the year she and Mike Fisher married, it's the year she became the face of Olay, and it's also the year that her third studio album, "Play On," gave her three consecutive #1 songs for a career total of 13. She won her fifth Grammy award, was the ACM Entertainer of the Year and collected other hardware from other award shows. Because of a song she wrote for "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," she's picked up her first ever Golden Globe nomination. And she co-hosted the CMA Award Show for the third straight year with Brad Paisley, to the rave reviews of their peers and viewers. Can she top 2010 in 2011? Don't count her out - Carrie is a dynamo, and her star just keeps getting brighter.

Neal McCoy has spilled some of the wedding details for Blake and Miranda's upcoming nuptials - he'll be the star performer there! Blake Shelton is in charge of planning the music, and he and Neal McCoy did a show together in Oregon earlier this year. Miranda was there, too, and she and Blake pulled up chairs next to the stage to watch Neal perform. Neal's a big goof, rather like Blake, and they decided that he would be a good fit for their party. Blake asked what he charged to do a private party, because he intended to pay Neal. Neal's having none of that, saying, "Of course you don’t have to pay me, that’ll be an honor to play it, and I’m sure it will be really fun and a who’s-who kind of thing with all the people attending.” The wedding is in May in the hill country of Texas - that's all we know about date and location so far.

According to the Nashville Business Journal, Garth Brooks' nine sold-out shows may have meant as much as $15 million to the local economy. That's over and above the $3-5 million the shows raised for the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee through ticket and merchandise sales, plus donations. So far, estimates show that a $10 million boost to Nashville businesses happened, but that doesn't include hotel nights booked, which will bring the total way up. Behold, the power of Garth!

From the "who would have thunk it" file, Gwyneth Paltrow and Taylor Swift have become close friends, texting, emailing and talking on the phone often. It was through Gwyneth that Taylor met her current boyfriend, Jake Gyllenhaal, and apparently the two women discuss music, performing, acting and dating. Taylor met Gwyneth through Gwyneth's husband, Chris Martin of the band Coldplay.

Jack Ingram's Acoustic Motel series continues, this week with a live version of his song, "Fool."

The tweet of the day is from Meghan Linsey of Steel Magnolia: "On the plane back to Nashville and someones phone just went off and it was "keep on lovin you"... Haha xo Meg"

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Today's Country Tidbits

What do you do on Christmas vacation if you're Taylor Swift? You and your family head to the islands. Specifically, the Turks and Caicos, near the Bahamas. They spent Christmas playing in the sun before boarding a private jet back to Nashville, where winter white is what they found. Taylor's "Speak Now" world tour begins February 9th in Singapore.

It's official - LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian are engaged. The rumors were flying around Thanksgiving, and yesterday LeAnn confirmed them via Twitter. No word on wedding details.

Two more lists from Billboard Magazine, capping the year in country music:

1) Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
2) Fearless – Taylor Swift
3) Speak Now – Taylor Swift
4) Play On – Carrie Underwood
5) The Foundation – Zac Brown Band
6) Lady Antebellum – Lady Antebellum
7) Revolution – Miranda Lambert
8) Wide Open – Jason Aldean
9) Southern Voice – Tim McGraw
10) The Incredible Machine – Sugarland

1) “Love Like Crazy” – Lee Brice
2) “Rain is a Good Thing” – Luke Bryan
3) “Why Don’t We Just Dance” – Josh Turner
4) “All Over Me” – Josh Turner
5) “The Man I Want to Be” – Chris Young
6) “Roll With It” – Easton Corbin
7) “Gimme That Girl” – Joe Nichols
8) “All About Tonight” – Blake Shelton
9) “Come Back Song” – Darius Rucker
10) “She Won’t Be Lonely Long” – Clay Walker

Happy birthday to Marty Roe of Diamond Rio, who turns 50 today, Mike McGuire of Shenandoah who is 52, and Joe Diffie, who turns 52.

The tweet of the day is from Chris Young: "Ok. Who wants to go to the gym for me. Not feeling it today. :)"

Monday, December 27, 2010

Today's Country Tidbits

Dierks Bentley, his wife Cassidy and their two-year-old daughter Evie got a wonderful Christmas gift - baby girl Jordan was born in the wee hours of December 25th. Proud daddy Dierks tweeted, "say what u want about santa’s physique, but no arguing his impeccable timing! evie wanted a little sis for Xmas & JORDAN just arrived!" Mom, baby and proud big sis are all doing well. Dierks is a little worried, tweeting, "she chose the banjo driven part of mumford & sons ‘awake my soul’ as her walk on music… could be a troublesome sign!"

It's the last Monday of 2010, so bring on the lists!

1) Lady Gaga
2) Taylor Swift
3) Eminem
4) Lady Antebellum
5) Ke$ha
6) Usher
7) The Black Eyed Peas
8) Justin Bieber
9) Rihanna
10) Drake

In alphabetical order, compiled by CMT, here's a list of all of the country music "Greatest Hits" packages that came out in 2010:

Trace Adkins – The Definitive Greatest Hits: ‘Til the Last Shot’s Fired
Chris Cagle – Best of Chris Cagle
Dixie Chicks – The Essential Dixie Chicks
Kevin Fowler – Best Of…So Far
Highwaymen – The Essential Highwaymen
Alan Jackson – 34 Number Ones
Larry the Cable Guy – The Best of Larry the Cable Guy
Tim McGraw – Number One Hits
Brad Paisley – Hits Alive
Gretchen Peters – Circus Girl: The Best of Gretchen Peters
Blake Shelton – Loaded: The Best of Blake Shelton
Hank Williams – The Complete Mother’s Best Recordings…Plus!
Gretchen Wilson – Greatest Hits
Various Artists – NOW That’s What I Call Country: Volume 3

Garth Brooks warmed it up for them, and Wednesday night, Zac Brown Band takes the stage at Bridgestone Arena. They're promising to keep the show pretty much the same as it is in smaller venues, though, eschewing the flashy screens, moving stages and special effects that many artists employ when they move to bigger venues. “It’s not in my nature,” said Zac. “The worst thing for me as an artist is having to dance for somebody by trying to be anything that I’m not. Sometimes, business people want to give direction, but the fans are reacting to what we do. We’re a legitimate band, and you can’t fake that, and it’s all hard work that lands the result.”

There's a website designed for teens called "" The idea behind it is to make teens aware of the many ways they can help to improve the earth and easily hook them up with the organization of their choice. has come out with their Top 20 Celebs Gone Good, and Taylor Swift checks in at #3 for giving half a million to middle Tennessee flood relief and her ongoing work to promote literacy.

Tomorrow night is the airing of the CBS special, "The Kennedy Center Honors." Merle Haggard is one of the honorees, and he is serenaded by Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, Jamey Johnson, Kid Rock, Kris Kristofferson, Vince Gill and Sheryl Crow. The event actually happened earlier this month, but was taped to air tomorrow night.

The tweet of the day is from Miranda Lambert: "Dear Santa... Next year please send me some little helpers to help me clean up this mess:)"

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Today's Country Tidbits

My Christmas Wish

For every dog searching trash cans for breakfast, a full bowl with his name printed in bright letters.

For every dog who slept fitfully last night, chained in a frozen yard, a soft, warm bed with a person snoring gently nearby.

For every shelter dog, spending Christmas morning in a soiled run, a forever home, filled with sounds and smells of family.

For every "Christmas" puppy given today, a tolerant, caring owner who won't abandon you as you grow into a real dog.

For every ailing pet, enough money for your owner to pay the bills to make you well.

For every lost dog, a clear, safe road, and well marked path, to lead you home.

For every old and tired friend, a warm fire, and a soft bed, to ease your aches and pains.


For every Heart Dog at the Bridge, a moment when you know that you are remembered today, missed again, and loved forever.

(Author unknown)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Today's Country Tidbits

If you're planning on going to the George Strait, Reba and Lee Ann Womack concert in the new year, and you'll be at a Friday show, George has a message for you: wear red. "Starting this Friday, we are we are going to wear red shirts to every Friday tour date and we encourage fans to do the same. I want to see a building full of red shirts if possible." Through the website, he's asking fans to show support to the troops by wearing red every Friday. George served four years in the Army in the 1970's, and wants the members of the military to know that we remember they're away from home, and in harm's way.

If you missed Jimmy Wayne on the CBS special, "A Home for the Holidays," he's posted his segment on the Project MMH website.

Little Big Town has a holiday message for you...

And Tim McGraw and Gwyneth Paltrow are sharing their duet, "Me and Tennessee" before the movie comes out.

Congratulations to Dolly Parton, who is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award Grammy. Several will be handed out on February 21st, the night before the Grammy Awards show airs live from Los Angeles. Other recipents include The Ramones, The Kingston Trio and Julie Andrews.

And congrats to Lady Antebellum, whose "Need You Now" cd will be triple platinum before we ring in the new year.

Happy birthday tomorrow to Jimmy Buffett, Babara Mandrell, Steve Wariner and of course, the star of the day.

The tweet of the day is from Zac Brown: "Please don't skimp & get the cheap cookies again this year. Santa's still a bit peeved about last year."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Today's Country Tidbits

The number-crunchers are still working on the total, but Jake Owen has presented a $30,000 check to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and a $33,000 check to the Mardy Fish Foundation after his benefit concert last weekend. Jake headlined, with Little Big Town as the opening act, and it looks like the 5th annual "Mardy's Tennis and Jake's Music Fest" will raise over $125,000 for youth charities.

Carrie Underwood's movie, "Soul Surfer," won't be out until April 15th, 2011, but there's a special website designed for ministers to use to share the very inspirational story of Bethany Hamilton. Carrie plays Sara, the youth counselor who helped Bethany through her recovery.

Congratulations to Reba, who has notched 35 #1 songs. If you or someone you know is a huge Reba fan, you can get personalized birthday greetings from her through StarGreetz. The messages cost $2.99 each.

Leighton Meester, one of the stars of the movie "Country Strong," might be giving Nashville a try. She loved the city, and has some serious singing chops, saying she looked to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood as role models for her to follow when prepping for the movie. She even worked with Taylor Swift's producer in order to get some southern warmth in her vocals.

The CMA is giving away "Country Strong" prize packs. You can win two tickets to see the movie when it comes out on January 7th, a copy of the soundtrack, two t-shirts and two hats.

ABC is re-running their CMA Country Christmas show tonight, and CBS has their annual "A Home For The Holidays" show, this year featuring Jimmy Wayne to share his story of homelessness and hope.

The tweet of the day is from Martina McBride: "The whole house slept in today...feels like Christmas break has officially started."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Today's Country Tidbits

Shania Twain is engaged. The official word came out yesterday afternoon, after rumors had been swirling. Apparently Shania has been engaged for a couple of months, and she's sporting a 3 carad diamond solitaire ring. The marriage to Mutt Lange broke up because Mutt became involved with Marie-Anne Thiebaud, Shania's former best friend. Now Shania is engaged to Marie-Anne's former husband, Frederic Thiebaud. Sounds like the premise for a movie or a soap opera, doesn't it?

Love Darius Rucker? Have an iPhone? There's a free app for that.

Sugarland has a Christmas greeting for you. They've even decorated their website with falling snow.

Gloriana wants to sing you a Merry Christmas, using Casio guitars and a bossa nova beat.

Jack Ingram's Acoustic Motel series goes Christmas, and he has to get a little help with the lyrics!

Top 10 lists are still coming out - this is the New York Times' top 10 albums of 2010, and three of them are by country artists. Congrats, Taylor Swift, Gary Allan and Jerrod Niemann!

1) Rick Ross – Teflon Don
2) Taylor Swift – Speak Now
3) Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
4) Drake – Thank Me Later
5) Titus Andronicus – The Monitor
6) Gary Allan – Get Off On the Pain
7) DJ Drama & Fabolous – There Is No Competition 2: The Funeral Service
8) Justin Bieber – My World 2.0
9) R. Kelly – Love Letter
10) Jerrod Niemann – Judge Jerrod & the Hung Jury

Happy birthday to Lee Roy Parnell, who turns 54 today, Brad Warren of The Warren Brothers, who turns 42, and to Eric Gunderson of Love And Theft, who turns 26.

The tweet of the day is from Kellie Pickler: "Everytime I hear "Pretty Paper" I sing along and pretend that Willie and I are singing it together at the Grand Ole Opry."

Monday, December 20, 2010

Today's Country Tidbits

Garth Brooks is loving playing Nashville, and last night, just didn't want to leave the stage. He did two encores, telling the crowd that he'd really missed them. Here's what's really different at a Garth show now, vs. before he retired: smart phones that shoot high-def video. Check out this one..."Friends In Low Places"

Congrats to Jay DeMarcus and his wife Ali. Their first child, daughter Madeline Leigh DeMarcus, was born Friday afternoon, a couple of weeks early but all is well. She weighed in at 6 pounds, 9 ounces, and already has her daddy wrapped around her little finger.

And congrats to Eddie Montgomery, who had successful surgery for prostate cancer this week. The doctor was so encouraged by the surgery's outcome that he says no further treatment is necessary, and Eddie has been told he's cancer-free. Scroll down for Eddie's feelings about it. His is the tweet of the day today.

In more of the dating saga between Jake Gyllenhaal and Taylor Swift, he went all-out to give her a normal movie night out. Well, sort of - he wanted to be sure they could enjoy "Tangled" without being interrupted by fans, so he rented out an entire movie theatre. The two of them were escorted into the theatre by security guards, who stood outside the doors while the movie played. No word on whether their popcorn was buttered or not...!

The tweet of the day is from Eddie Montgomery: "“I’m so happy I’m about reAdy to go streaking threw the snow!!! Hehehe”

Friday, December 17, 2010

Today's Country Tidbits

Garth-o-mania kicked off last night in Nashville, as Garth Brooks did not one but two shows at Bridgestone Arena. The 9-show stand of full-band, full-on country music shows continue tonight through next Wednesday, with Trisha Yearwood and Karyn Rochelle onstage every night, and surprise guests showing up when they want to play. Last night, Garth was joined by Steve Wariner, and the two of them lit up "Longneck Bottle." Steve also performed his song, "Some Fools Never Learn," to the delight of the crowd. The show was broadcast live on the Armed Forces network, and proceeds from all of the concerts go to flood relief for middle Tennessee. The set list is expected to change, but here's last night's:

Papa Loved Mama
The Beaches of Cheyenne
Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House
Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)
Unanswered Prayers (Acoustic)
We Shall Be Free (Played slideshow of flood damage photos)
The Thunder Rolls
**Longneck Bottle (with Steve Wariner)
Steve Wariner performs “Some Fools Never Learn”
Baton Rouge
The River
Burnin’ Both Ends of the Night
**In Another’s Eyes (with Trisha Yearwood)
Trisha Yearwood performs “She’s In Love With The Boy”
More Than a Memory
Friends In Low Places
The Dance
ENCORE: Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til the Sun Comes Up)

Country stars continue to pony up for flood relief. Many have donated items for an online auction which ends at noon today. If you're looking for truly one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts and you have deep pockets, go shopping for a great cause - helping to rebuild middle Tennessee after last spring's flooding. Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban, Blake Shelton and many more top country stars have donated autographed items, and some even throw themselves into the prize package, offering tours, meet & greets, etc.

Congratulations to Josh Turner and his wife Jennifer - son #3 has arrived. Crawford Marion Turner arrived Monday evening, a little early but just fine. He'll be called Marion and joins Colby Lynch, who's 18 months, and Hampton Otis, who's 4 years old.

Blake Shelton is thanking Joe Nichols for his latest hit. "Who Are You When I'm Not Looking" was originally recorded by Joe and is on his "Real Things" cd. Blake heard it, loved it, and when it didn't get released as a single, he cut it. Joe is thrilled with the success Blake's having with the song, just as Blake is thrilled about Miranda Lambert's success with "The House That Built Me," a song Blake was supposed to record. Good thing country artists are friendly and civilized - can you imagine this kind of sharing in any other musical genre?

Rascal Flatts and Justin Bieber will team up on a song destined for Justin's next album. Gary LeVox's two daughters, Brittany (10) and Brooklyn (6) suffer from Bieber Fever, so he's very familiar with Justin's music!

Dierks Bentley is hosting a pre-Grammy bash again, and tickets - a precious few! - will be available today on Dierks' website. The Grammy Awards will be handed out on Sunday, February 13th, and Dierks' party is planned for Saturday the 12th. Dierks is up for three Grammy awards this year.

On April 3rd in Las Vegas, the 46th Annual ACM Awards will be handed out. The following night, the ACM will tape an all-star concert special called "Girl's Night Out: Superstar Women of Country." Tickets for both events go on sale January 19th at 10am Pacific time. Proceeds from the Girls Night Out taping will go to the ACM Lifting Lives foundation.

Lyle Lovett is on The Tonight Show on NBC and Trace Adkins is on The Talk on CBS. And the American Country Awards will re-air tonight on the Speed Channel.

Happy birthday to Tracy Byrd, who turns 44 today.

The tweet of the day is from Brad Paisley: "Working like a dog on the new album. Where does that expression come from? My dog is the laziest animal on the planet!"

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Today's Country Tidbits

The LA premier of "Country Strong" was Tuesday night, and all of the stars were there, including co-star Tim McGraw with his wife Faith Hill on his arm. Reba McEntire and her hubby Narvel Blackstock were there to see the show, and Reba gives the movie two thumbs up. After the movie, the country music contingent, Gwyneth Paltrow included, all went out for a late dinner together.

Rascal Flatts year-long celebration of a decade in music concluded last night at the Grand Ole Opry. They performed, and were recognized by Karl Dean, mayor of Nashville, for their great music and good works. He said, in his official Mayoral Proclamation, "This is such a privilege to be here tonight to thank you in person for all that you do for the community and for the children in this city."

When NBC's "Who do You Think You Are?" returns for the second season, Tim McGraw will be one of the people digging into his past and trying to decipher his family tree. The show follows people around the world as they work with historians and research their own roots. Also appearing in the new season, which premiers January 21st, are Ashley Judd, Vanessa Williams, Rosie O'Donnell, Kim Cattrell and Steve Buscemi.

The ratings weren't great but the post-show sales boost was. After the airing of the initial American Country Awards, performers saw a nice sales increase in their product. Easton Corbin's self-titled debut cd saw a 58% sales increase, Josh Turner's "Haywire" was up 68% and Blake Shelton's "Hillbilly Bone" sold 75% more after the show. Nice!

What did boyfriend Jake Gyllenhaal get for Taylor Swift for her birthday? A vintage Fender Grestsch guitar, signed by Chet Atkins. It's reported to have set him back $11,000. Nice!

Pretend you're the Mom of a big country superstar. What on earth do you give him for Christmas? That's Kenny Chesney's Mom's dilemma - whenever she asks him about something she wants to give him, he's already got it. What does he really want? Green beans. Says Kenny, “My mom and grandmother can green beans themselves. I love it, because it’s what I grew up with.” Watch out,'re about to be inundated with home-canned beans!

Congrats to The Band Perry, whose debut album has gone platinum, signifying sales of over a million units.

Congratulations to Jamey Johnson. His double-disc cd, "The Guitar Song," has gone gold for sales of half a million units.

And congratulations to Taylor Swift, who has the top selling country music album again this week. She even sold 11% more this week than last, moving 201,000 units.

The tweet of the day is from David Nail: "Can't believe we just landed on this runway, ridiculous in Rochester, NY. Can't be safe at all!"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Today's Country Tidbits

Congratulations to Gwyneth Paltrow, who sang a song nominated for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture. She nails the Bob DiPiero, Tom Douglas, Hillary Lindsey and Troy Verges-written "Coming Home" on the "Country Strong" soundtrack. And congratulations to Carrie Underwood, who is nominated in the same category for "There's A Place For Us," which is on the "Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" soundtrack. Carrie co-wrote that song with Hillary Lindsey and David Hodges. The awards will be handed out on Sunday, January 16th, 2011, live from Los Angeles on NBC.

So how did Taylor Swift end up spending her 21st birthday? She and her Mom spent the morning at the family's home in Hendersonville, TN, making hors d'oeuvres for the 70 invited guests. They also had sushi catered in. Taylor had thank-you gifts for everyone in her band, and she provided holiday-themed gifts for a Dirty Santa gift exchange. The birthday girl sported a tiara for the evening, and according to one attendee, "Everyone was saying how good the food was and wondering how in the world they had time to do it.”

There's good news and bad news about the autographed Harley that was stolen this summer. It was to have been a fund-raiser for the Susan G. Komen foundation, with it's pretty pink pain job and autographs by Dolly Parton, Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood. Instead, it was stolen. The good news is that the bike has been found and the man who stole it was arrested, but the bad news is that it's damaged, apparently beyond repair. Police working a drug case busted the 45-year-old man for trafficking and found the motorcycle during a search of his property. It has had the seat torn apart, the autographs scratched off and the spokes broken out.

Rascal Flatts has another date with cameras, but this time they're playing themselves. Told you about the HBO mini-series they're filming in 2011 - now there's word that they'll be part of "Ron White's Celebrity Salute to the Troops" on February 15th at the Grand Ole Opry House. That show will be filmed for use on CMT, and the proceeds from the show benefit the Armed Forces Foundation. Tickets go on sale this Friday morning at

Tim McGraw won't be re-signing with Curb Records, saying, “It's a long time coming. Twenty years with any label, I think, is too much, so unless you're really having a great relationship. I think it's a good time for me to go out and see what's out there for me."

Trace Adkins wants you in his mobile fan club. If you'd like to be in the know on the go, text traceadkins to 30103. You'll get a special message from Trace on Christmas day.

Billboard's Year End Country Chart is out, listing the top 10 hot country songs of the year. Lee Brice's "Love Like Crazy" ended up spending 55 weeks on the Billboard chart, more than any other country song. The previous record-holder was Eddy Arnold's "Bouquet of Roses," which spent 54 weeks on the chart. Here's Billboard's list for 2010:

1. “Love Like Crazy” – Lee Brice
2. “Rain Is A Good Thing” – Luke Bryan
3. “Why Don’t We Just Dance” – Josh Turner
4. “All Over Me” – Josh Turner
5. “The Man I Want To Be” – Chris Young
6. “Roll With It” – Easton Corbin
7. “Gimmie The Girl” – Joe Nichols
8. “All About Tonight” – Blake Shelton
9. “Come Back Song” – Darius Rucker
10. “She Won’t Be Lonely Long” – Clay Walker

Congratulations to Rascal Flatts, whose "Why Wait" is number one for the second week in a row.

Happy anniversary to Alan and Denise Jackson, who married on this day in 1979.

The Band Perry is on The View today.

The tweet of the day is from James Otto: "Finally with my babies today. I don't think Ava knew who I was for the first thirty minutes. This daddy being gone stuff is tough."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Today's Country Tidbits

Keith Urban is in Australia today, filming two episodes of the Oprah show at the Sydney Opera House. He announced the Australia dates on his 2011 Get Closer World Tour, featuring Lady Antebellum as his opening act. In case you'll be Down Under in April, tickets for these shows go on sale January 21, so get 'em quick!

Friday, April 8 – Adelaide Entertainment Centre
Saturday, April 9 – Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
Tuesday, April 12 – Tamworth Regional Entertainment & Conference Centre
Thursday, April 14 – Sydney Entertainment Centre
Friday, April 15 – Brisbane Entertainment Centre

Joe Nichols has been quietly launching songs up the country charts for years, and his first greatest hits package is in the works. January 25th is the release date for the collection, which includes "Brokenheartsville," "The Impossible," and "Cool To Be A Fool" up to his latest, "The Shape I'm In."

HBO will be filming a mini-series in the spring, and probably in Tennessee. Why Tennessee? Because country artists are a big part of the cast of "To Appomattox." Rascal Flatts, Kix Brooks, Dwight Yoakam and Laura Bell Bundy will all be part of the show, and no, they won't be playing some Civil War nightclub scene. Rascal Flatts will also be producing the soundtrack for the series, providing original songs as well as their interpretations of traditional American music. They've tapped Kix, Laura, Dwight and John Ondrasik (from the band Five for Fighting) to assist with the soundtrack.

Tim McGraw has been cast in the action-adventure movie, "Safe House." He's excited about the action part of it, saying, "I get to play actually something action-packed. Shoot people and all that stuff. I’m looking forward to all that stuff." The movie also stars Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds and should be out in early 2012.

Tim's latest movie won't be out for another few weeks, but here's another song from "Country Strong." Garrett Hedlund plays Beau Hutton, an up and coming country songwriter, and sings "Chances Are."

What does a big fan give to Taylor Swift for Christmas? A light display on his house, synced to "Love Story."

More details about the Shelton/Lambert wedding are trickling out - they'll serve venison instead of the more traditional chicken or beef, and it'll be from deer they've harvested. And Blake is promising some surprise guests at the wedding - he's in charge of the music and entertainment and has had a blast lining up artists. May in the hill country of Texas is still all we know for sure about the date and place.

Get free Christmas songs from great country artists from

Kix Brooks is spending this week entertaining the troops as part of a USO tour show. Also traveling with him are Robin Williams, Lance Armstrong and other celebrities. They'll wrap up the tour this weekend, in time to be home with their families for Christmas.

Congratulations to Jason Aldean, who's been named Billboard Magazine's #1 Male Country Artist and the Top Independent Artist of the Year.

The Judds are on Larry King Live tonight. Tomorrow, The Band Perry is on The View.

The tweet of the day is from Jake Owen: "damn.. and my tag is expired. I'm rolling gangsta."

Monday, December 13, 2010

Today's Country Tidbits

Garth Brooks begins a 9-show run in Nashville this Thursday. Tickets sold out in just a few hours, raising millions for flood relief. Now Garth has partnered with Toys for Tots and the Marine Corps to be an official collection point for toy donations. If you're going to one of the shows, take a new, unwrapped toy or two and help make sure every child has a Christmas gift this year.

Good news for Willie Nelson, for a change. The city of Austin, TX will soon be sporting a larger-than-life sculpture of Willie, holding his well-worn guitar. A group called Capital Area Statues has commissioned a sculptor in Philadelphia to make the bronze statue, which will be presented to the city of Austin as a gift.

Universal Music Nashville has a holiday promotion going on called "Give Country, Get Country." If you buy one cd, you get 2 free holiday tracks, plus $2 off of purchases of $20 or more. Plus they've got 100 Christmas songs and are inviting you to make your own holiday mix. While you're there, check out the special bonuses they're throwing in when you purchase music from Jamey Johnson, Sugarland and more.

Don't forget to go to and get Brad Paisley's new song of the same name. It's available for free all week long.

And a third shopping alert, this one for cooks who love Joe Diffie. He's out with a cookbook this holiday season called "Homecoming: The Diffie Family Cookbook." It's a collection of recipes handed down in his family, and it includes a copy of Joe's "Ultimate Collection" cd. Pick it up on Joe Diffie's website or on

Dierks Bentley and his wife Cassidy are expecting their second child right around Christmas, and according to the new-daddy-to-be, the baby will either "be a girl or a very disappointed boy!" She joins her big sister Evie Bentley when she makes her debut.

This Saturday night, Trace Adkins teams up with World Wrestling Entertainment for a tv special. "NBC's Tribute to the Troops" will also feature Diddy-Dirty Money, Cedric the Entertainer and The View's Sherri Shepherd.

Gwyneth Paltrow gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today, and her "Country Strong" co-star, Tim McGraw, will be on hand to celebrate. He'll be a guest speaker during the event.

Larry Gatlin is on Hannity today.

Happy birthday to Randy Owen of Alabama fame, who is 61 today, John Anderson, who is 56 and Taylor Swift, who turns 21 today.

The tweet of the day is from Brad Paisley: "Alright I just got the song for free for myself at ...It worked. Try it for yourselves. Check it out."

Taylor Swift Information Overload

From CMT, here's everything you ever wanted to know about Taylor Swift (well, almost!) in honor of her 21st birthday.

TAYLOR SWIFT'S 21ST BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION. Taylor’s 21st birthday has finally arrived, and the one thing on everyone’s mind is, will she drink an alcoholic beverage? Don’t expect to see Taylor stumbling out of a club tonight. She told Lady’s Home Journal,Maybe I’ll have a glass of wine – but nothing too hardcore for me. I need to be in control of what I say, and if I drank, I’d stress out about saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.” Taylor will stick with a Christmas-themed party this year, but one significant man will be missing, and it’s not John Mayer. Santa Claus will not be making an appearance to take her pals’ wishes for Christmas. She said, "I'm not gonna do that, but there'll definitely be lots of Christmas-themed things."

TAYLOR’S 20TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION. Instead of receiving gifts on her 20th birthday, Taylor decided to help her community instead. The singer donated 250-thousand dollars to schools around the country she attended. That money was used to pay teachers’ salaries and fund educational programs. Taylor held a Christmas-themed birthday party at her home in Tennessee for her friends, family, band, and tour crew. She spent the night before at home, baking butter cookies and gingerbread cookies with cream-cheese icing for her guests. She described the celebration as, “more like an end-of-year Christmas party that happens to be on my birthday.” Taylor was also dating her Valentine’s Day co-star Taylor Lautner, who at the time that was on hand to celebrate her big day. Rumors circulated he spent 50-thousand dollars on her gift.

TAYLOR’S 19TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION. Taylor enjoyed her last year as a teenager with a low-key night spent with her family, friends, and band mates at her home in Hendersonville, Tennessee. She shared a homemade video she had created and dedicated it to her 40 guests. Taylor also treated her pals to a buffet which included sushi and bacon-wrapped scallops, followed by two ice cream cakes – chocolate peppermint and cookie-dough from Cold Stone Creamery. Before the party was over, her guests competed in a ping-pong tournament, which was won by her manager. For her 19th birthday, Taylor only wanted a stationary set and new glasses, since her others broke.

TAYLOR’S 18TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION. Taylor celebrated her 18th birthday with a pink-themed celebration at Lot 7 in Nashville, surrounded by her family and many famous friends. The room was decorated with dozens of pink paper lanterns and throw pillows. Taylor’s label, Big Machine Records, gave her a brand-new pink Chevy truck which she donated to charity. During the party, a slideshow was played with pictures from Taylor’s childhood. Kellie Pickler helped her blow out the candles on her birthday cake. Lady Antebellum, John Rich, and Taylor’s best friend Abigail were also on hand. Instead of running out to get a tattoo, she registered to vote online.


  • Her maternal grandmother, Majorie Finlay, was an opera singer, which inspired Taylor to pursue a singing career.
  • When she was 12, she spent an entire summer penning a 350-page novel which fans have asked her to publish.
  • “Monster in My Closet” was the name of the poem that helped Taylor win a national poetry contest in elementary school.
  • The first song Taylor ever wrote was titled, “Lucky You.”
  • Taylor says she has said she has a secret crush on Chace Crawford from Gossip Girl.
  • She failed her driver's permit test 3 times.
  • Music is her number one passion, but if she had to choose another career, she would be a forensic scientist.
  • She has used two One Tree Hill stars in her music videos - "Teardrops On My Guitar" featured Tyler Hilton and Stephen Colletti made an appearance in "White Horse."


  • Taylor’s first single in 2006 was “Tim McGraw,” which reached the #6 spot on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
  • Her second single, "Teardrops on My Guitar,” was released February 24th, 2007. In mid-2007, the song peaked at #2 on Billboard'sHot Country Songs chart and #33 on the Billboard Hot 100.
  • Her third song off her debut album, Our Song, spent 6 weeks at #1 on the country charts and peaked at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100.
  • "Should've Said No" became Taylor's second #1 single.
  • The lead single from Fearless, "Love Story" sold more than 129-thousand digital copies. This gave Taylor the best online start for any country album in history. It had the 4th biggest week for a digital album since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking them in 2004.
  • The second single from Fearless, "White Horse," was released on December 8th, 2008. The music video for the song premiered on CMT on February 7th, 2009.
  • "Change", was selected as part of a soundtrack supporting Team USA in the 2008 Summer Olympics. The song was also featured as part of the soundtrack of NBC's broadcast package of the Olympics.
  • When "Fifteen" reached the #38 spot on the Billboard chart the week of November 21st, 2009, Taylor became the female artist with the most Top 40 singles this decade, surpassing Beyonce.
  • Taylor claimed both the #1 and #2 positions on Nielsen's Top 10 Most Played Songs chart (all genres), with "You Belong With Me" and "Love Story."
  • Taylor released the track "Today Was a Fairytale," from the Valentine’s Day soundtrack, as a digital download on iTunes on January 19th, 2010. The song debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at the #2 spot which was recognized as Taylor’s sixth Top 10 and 23rd Top 40 single on that chart.
  • Taylor first performed "Jump Then Fall," June 5th, 2010 at Gillette Stadium.
  • “Mine” was leaked 12 days before Big Machine Records planned to release the single. So, they decided to rush the song to radio to counteract the leak. The song shot to the top of the iTunes charts while Taylor was on a plane to Japan.


  • Her self-titled debut album was released on October 24th 2006. Debuting high on the Billboard 200, the album sold 39,000 copies during its first week. It peaked at #1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and #5 on the Billboard 200.
  • Her debut album spent 8 consecutive weeks at the top of the Top Country Albums charts and remained at the top for 24 out of 91 weeks.
  • On November 11th 2008, Taylor released her second album, Fearless. The album debuted at #1 on the Top Country Albums and the Billboard 200 Album Chart. The album sold 592,304 copies in the first week making the highest debut of any country artist in 2008.
    • It was also the largest opening U.S. sales week in 2008 by a female artist in all genres of music, and the 4th biggest overall behind Lil Wayne, AC/DC and Coldplay.
  • Fearless topped the Billboard 200 chart for 11 non-consecutive weeks. No album has spent more time at #1 since 2000.
  • In its debut week, 7 songs from Fearless were charted on Billboard Hot 100, tying Taylor with Miley Cyrus for the most by a female artist in a single week.
  • Of the 13 tracks on Fearless, 11 spent time on the Hot 100.
  • Fearless was the best-selling album of 2009 in the US with more than 3.2 millions copies sold in that year.
  • Taylor’s third album, Speak Now, sold 1,047,000 copies in its first week.
  • Speak Now received Triple-Platinum certification by the RIAA after selling 3-million copies since its release on October 25th.
  • Speak Now came in at #13 on Rolling Stone’s Top Albums of 2010. According to the RIAA, Taylor has also scored the most single digital downloads of any artist this decade.
  • All three of Taylor’s albums are now certified multi-Platinum:
    • Taylor Swift (2006) – 4x multi-Platinum
    • Fearless (2008) – 6x multi-Platinum
    • Speak Now (2010) – 3x multi-Platinum


Throughout the past couple of years, Taylor has won over 70 awards including:

  • CMT Music Awards

2007 – Breakthrough Video of The Year for “Tim McGraw”

2008 – Female Video of the Year & Video of the Year for “Our Song”

2009 – Video of the Year and Female Video of the Year for “Love Story”

  • Grammy Awards

2010 - FearlessAlbum of the Year, Best Country Album, “White Horse” Best Female Country Vocal Performance, & Best Country Song

  • CMA Awards

2007 – Horizon Award

2009 – Music Video of the Year for Love Story,” Album of the Year for Fearless, Female Entertainer of the Year, and Entertainer of the Year.

    • Taylor became the youngest artist ever to win the CMA Award for Entertainer of the Year, and is one of only six women to win the highest honor.
  • ACM Awards

2008 – Top New Female Vocalist

2009 – Album of the Year for Fearless, Crystal Milestone Award

    • Taylor is the youngest artist in history to win the ACM Album of the Year award.
  • Billboard Music Awards

2009 – Artist of the Year, The Billboard 200 Artists of the Year, The Billboard 200 Album of the Year, Hot Radio Songs of the Year, Top Country Album Artist of the Year, Top Country Album of the Year & Hot Adult Contemporary Artist of the Year.

  • Other Recgonitions…
    • Taylor was country music's best-selling artist of 2008.
    • In 2008, Taylor was ranked the 38th Best Artist of the 2000–2010 Decade by Billboard.
    • In mid-January 2009, Taylor became the first country artist to top the 2-million mark in paid downloads with three different songs.
    • In 2009, Forbes ranked Taylor the 69th-most powerful celebrity with earnings of $18 million and in 2010 as the 12th-most powerful celebrity with earnings of $45 million.
    • In January 2010 Nielsen SoundScan listed Taylor as the most commercially successful country (or country/pop crossover) artist in music history with over 28-million digital tracks sold.
    • Taylor was the first celebrity to appear on the cover of 2004-founded teen magazine Justine.


  • Taylor made a cameo in Brad Paisley's 2007 music video for "Online".
  • In October 2008, Taylor performed a duet with rock band Def Leppard for CMT Crossroads. Their collaboration was up for bothPerformance of the Year and Wide Open Country Video of the Year at the CMT Music Awards in 2009.
  • Taylor sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” at game 3 of the World Series in Philadelphia on October 25th, 2008.
  • On February 8, 2009, Taylor performed her song, "Fifteen," with Miley Cyrus at the 51st Grammy Awards.
  • Taylor made her first musical guest appearance on Saturday Night Live in April 2009 – the same month she kicked off her first headlining tour. She was the show’s youngest performer ever.
  • On September 15, 2009, Taylor gave her first interview about the infamous MTV VMA Music Awards incident to The View.
  • In November 2009, Taylor served as the youngest host on Saturday Night Live, and even wrote her own monologue which addressed Kanye West, her ex-boyfriend Joe Jonas, and her rumored boyfriend at the time Taylor Lautner. This was her second time as host.
  • Taylor performed “Rhiannon” and “You Belong With Me” at the 2010 Grammy Awards with rock legend Stevie Nicks.
  • June 13th, 2010, Taylor held a 15-hour meet and greet during the CMA Music Festival in Nashville. She greeted more than two-thousand fans, who were also entertained by costumes and other memorabilia from the Fearless world tour.
  • Taylor had a memorable performance at this year’s 2010 MTV Video Music Awards when she performed “Innocent” in response to last year’s Kanye West incident.
  • After releasing her new album Speak Now, Taylor performed at the JetBlue terminal in the Kennedy International Airport and later took 30 contest winners on a flight from New York to Los Angeles where they had the chance to conduct an interview.


  • Taylor was an opening act for Tim McGraw and Faith Hill on their Soul2Soul 2007 tour. She has also opened for Brooks & Dunn, George Strait, Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, and Rascal Flatts.
  • In January 2009, Taylor announced the first leg of her North American Fearless Tour, which took place in 56 cities over the span of 6 months. The tour kicked off April 23rd in Evansville, Indiana – all shows sold out within minutes.
  • On the Fearless tour, she was joined by opening-acts Kellie Pickler and Gloriana. Justin Bieber joined her for the tour when she went to the UK. During the tour, Taylor also performed with guests such as John Mayer, Faith Hill, and Katy Perry. She also opened a select few dates for Keith Urban on his Escape Together World Tour 2009.
  • Pop-group Needtobreathe will serve as the opening-act for the North American leg of Taylor’s Speak Now 2011 World Tour. She will perform at 87 stadiums and arena shows in 19 countries on four continents.
  • Taylor managed to sell out the Staples Center in Los Angeles in two minutes and filled the Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, in five minutes. Tickets for the Speak Now 2011 tour continue to go on sale and so far Taylor has sold out seven arenas. Several venues have even added additional shows, including a pair at the Staples Center.