Friday, December 30, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Jason Aldean is closing out 2011 with a bang – his “My Kinda Party” cd is double-platinum, he finally won CMA recognition with three awards in October, and he sold over a million concert tickets. According to Jason, "When we did our annual holiday party, we had more to be thankful for and celebrate than we ever have before. It's really cool to be experiencing some of this stuff with a lot of the same guys who have been with me since I started in 2005. We're definitely a family, and that has made the whole experience even more special,"

Pollstar’s list of the top tours of 2011 is out, and two of the top three tours are country acts. Taylor Swift is at #2, grossing $97.7 million with 80 shows, Kenny Chesney is at #3, grossing $84.6 million with 55 shows, and at the top of the list is legendary rock act U2, who grossed $156 million with 25 shows.

Congratulations and best wishes to Wynonna, who is engaged to her long-time boyfriend, Cactus Moser. He’s the drummer for Highway 101, currently on tour with Wy as Wynonna and the Big Noise. He popped the question on Christmas Eve. This will be Wynonna’s third marriage.

Sending good, healing thoughts to Shawna Thompson’s Dad, who is having surgery today.

Lee Ann Womack put safety first when she did her Christmas shopping: she gave everyone on her list a fire extinguisher. Says Lee Ann, “it’s one of those things you don’t think about... until you need it, and then it’s way too late.”

The tweet of the day is from Miranda Lambert: “Spring cleaning in December! Blake even cleaned the garage and people that is HUGE! No more random carcasses!”

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Blake Shelton is working on season two of The Voice with Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Christina Aguilara, and on at least one episode, they’re all going to copy Cee Lo’s fashion sense. According to Blake, “Christina, Adam and I have talked about how for one episode, we’re going to all three come out wearing Adidas sweat suits like Cee Lo wears on the show. But I’ll have boots on with it.” Of course he will! As for picking talent, he’s going to go with the plan he used on season one - “I am picking polarizing voices,” explained Blake, who selected Xenia Martinez and his tour opener Dia Frampton on the first season of the show. “That really worked out well for me last time around. There were a lot of great singers on that show, but there was only one Dia and one Xenia. They are so different from any other voices you ever hear. That’s what the show means to me. That’s the cool thing about having artists be the coaches — we all have a different vision for what The Voice is.”

Taylor Swift has decided on a resolution for the New Year. According to Taylor, ““I think my goal for the next couple of years would be to make departures in little ways and do things a little differently, and try to maintain a balance between always providing your fans with what they’ve always liked from you and continuing to write all my own songs.” Lady Antebellum’s Dave Haywood says the group hopes to better balance work and personal life in 2012, as Hillary Scott prepares to marry musician Chris Tyrell, and Dave plans a wedding to girlfriend Kelli Cashiola. Miranda Lambert tells the AP she’d like to “write a song that [gets] nominated for Song of the Year.” Her husband, Blake Shelton, says he hopes to see the two singers he coached on the last season of The Voice “take off and do well” in 2012.

Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve broadcast will kick off with a retrospective of 40 years of broadcasts from Times Square. Musical events will be featured, with Carrie Underwood’s 2008 performance of “Before He Cheats” and Taylor Swift’s 2009 performance of “Picture to Burn” as part of the fun. The Band Perry will perform this year in Times Square before the ball drops on 2012.

The tweet of the day is from Chris Young: “@blakeshelton is #nowplaying with himself... Or at least I assume, because he hasn't tweeted that in a while.”

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Amid the tragic loss of life and devastating injuries caused when the stage at the Indiana State Fair collapsed in August, two Indianapolis women tried to get money that they didn’t deserve. According to the state prosecutor, Stephanie Murry and Sandra Hurn both filed claims for settlements from the State Fair Remembrance Fund and the Indiana Tort Claim Fund, even though neither of them was at the Sugarland show that night. Heck, according to court records, they weren’t even at the fair! Both face lengthy jail time, if convicted. is out with their annual year-end list of Celebs Gone Good. The list recognizes stars who give of their time and talents to help others, and this year, several country stars show up on it. Taylor Swift is there – this year, she gave over a million dollars to charitable causes and did a benefit concert for tornado relief after the bad spring storms in the Southeast. Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert made the list, too, Blake for his work with tornado relief efforts and wife Miranda for her work with the Mary Kay Ash Foundation.

Congratulations to Vince Gill and Amy Grant, who have been named Tennesseeans of the Year by the Tennesseean newspaper. In bestowing the honor, the paper noted: “Amy Grant and Vince Gill not only make a meaningful impact on the global stage through their music, but their philanthropy also helps people throughout Tennessee. Their years of charity work reached a crescendo in 2011, from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and American Red Cross to the Mental Health Association of Middle Tennessee and many, many more causes."

Lee Greenwood will be part of a tribute to fallen war heroes tomorrow at the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio. He’ll perform the National Anthem and sing “God Bless the USA” before the game between the Washington Huskies and the Baylor Bears. The event will be especially poignant to the 2011 Valero Bowl Chairman and team physician for the Spurs, Dr. David Schmidt, whose son died not long ago while serving in the Marines.

Jake Owen is part of the pre-game fun at the Orange Bowl on January 4th from Sun Life Stadium in south Florida. He’s the headliner for the Bud Light Orange Bowl Game Day Fan Zone. The Voice winner Javier Colon will also be part of the show.

It’s always interesting to follow a conversation between two stars on Twitter. In the wee hours of this morning Martina McBride and Sarah Buxton were chatting about David Nail’s current (headed for #1) hit, “Let it Rain.” Sarah Buxton sings on it with David and the blend of their voices is so magical that Martina was gushing to Sarah about how good she sounds. The conversation turned into a mutual admiration society, so don’t be surprised if Martina and Sarah team up on something one of these days.

Happy birthday to Diamond Rio’s Marty Roe and Joe Diffie, who both turn 51 today.

The tweet of the day is from Kellie Pickler: “My grandpa got me a radar detector for Christmas. Think he's trying to tell me something?? ;)”

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

The top tours of the last 3 months, according to Pollstar, have Taylor Swift at #3. Topping the list are Kanye West and Jay Z, with the current Cirque de Soleil tour in the number two spot. Keith Urban came in at number 8 and Jason Aldean is in the #10 spot.

The top 10 biggest selling albums of the year included a couple of country acts. Lady Antebellum’s “Own the Night” is at #10 with nearly a million units sold, and Jason Aldean is in fifth place, selling 1.42 million copies.

Congratulations to American Idol alum Danny Gokey, who just got engaged to his girlfriend, Leyicet Peralta. It’s Danny second marriage, as he is widowed from his first wife, Sophia. Leyicet shares Danny’s passion for helping children and families in need through his “Sophia’s Heart” foundation and has suggested that instead of gifts, well-wishers might consider a donation to the organization. It’ll be a short engagement – the two plan to wed in January.

Happy birthday to Les Taylor of Exile, who is 63 today.

The tweet of the day is from Martina McBride: “Working on cleaning house from Christmas. Keep getting sidetracked by wanting to read my new books, smell my new candles, and sip my new wine.”

Monday, December 26, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Country Weekly has a feature about country stars’ favorite Christmas presents. Here are some of the highlights.
“The greatest gift I’ve ever received is a letter from my dad a few years back. He wrote about all of his memories of my life through my ups and downs. He told me he was proud and loved me through it all. His greatest words were in the last paragraph, ‘Be at peace with yourself, be at peace with everyone around you and, most important, be at peace with God.’” — Big & Rich’s Big Kenny
“My favorite Christmas gift is definitely my first Honda 50 motorcycle that I got back in 1984. It was just an amazing gift to have under the tree, and I never will forget seeing that.” — Luke Bryan
“My favorite Christmas present as a kid was a ukulele from my parents, and I loved to carry it with me everywhere!” — the JaneDear girls’ Danelle Leverett
“My favorite Christmas gift was probably my very first guitar from my Grandpa about 15 years ago. And more recently, I got a red Gibson about 5 or 6 years ago. That red one we use onstage was given to me by my Dad for Christmas years ago.” — Lady Antebellum’s Dave Haywood
“I really enjoyed the go-cart my mom and dad got me and my brother when we were probably 6 or 7 years old. We had more fun on that thing, for just hours and hours on end. It was good times. Just hanging with him was good.”- Billy Currington
“When I was in the third grade, I wanted a puppy real bad. I wanted a miniature dachshund. My parents told me they couldn’t, so I asked for a dirt bike instead. Christmas morning, I heard all this yipping and whining…They had gotten me the puppy I wanted.” - Brantley Gilbert
“I can remember when I was about 6 or 7, I got a Hutch football outfit. You got the helmet, the shoulder pads, the little jersey, and the pants. Randomly, it was the New York Jets…I grew up in Southeast Missouri, so the Jets must have been the only one my parents could afford or get in the JCPenny catalog! I can remember just freaking out. I was a huge sports fan even then. I can remember being way too big to even where the stuff and still trying to put it on. Back then the Jets were horrible, and that was probably the most uncool jersey to wear but I didn’t care. I would have probably tackled you if you made fun of me.” - David Nail

Rascal Flatts’ “I Won’t Let Go” has reached platinum status for 1-million downloads, while Justin Moore’s “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” is certified gold for 500,000 downloads. Also, Miranda Lambert’s Four the Record and Blake Shelton’s Loaded: The Best of Blake Shelton earned gold album status this month.

Keith Urban posted a holiday greeting to his fans…good to hear his voice!

The tweet of the day is from Martina McBride: “Super fun, laid back day. Santa was good to the girls. Just us at home. Nice. Hope you all have a very merry Christmas. Xoxo”

Friday, December 23, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Country stars were kids once, and have memories of Christmastimes gone by. Kenny Chesney remembers that he wasn't big on the Christmas pageant: “I think one time I held the star, you know, and did it behind them. You know, I didn’t…never did show my face. I was holding the star going through the night. That’s all I did. I remember doing that one year. But all my other buddies was Joseph and Mary and all that stuff. I never did, really, get out on stage that much. Never really did sing in the Christmas play and…no, I was pretty scared to get up there then!” George Strait's Christmases growing up included a lot of family: “At Christmas time, it was you know, we always kinda go together at my grandparents and had Christmas there. It was a lot of fun ‘cause you’d see cousins that you hadn’t seen in a while...gettin’ to spend a few days with them, and openin’ presents was just a lot of fun back then.” Miranda Lambert loves the holidays now, because she gets to take on a different role: “I love, love, love holidays. It’s my time to really be a girl. And I get really domestic during holidays. And it’s kind of weird ’cause it’s so opposite of who I am on stage. But I love to bake cookies and cook dinner for the whole family, and I have every decoration you can think of. I like to have a tree in every room, and I mean, I really…that’s my time to just get ultra-girly.” Eric Church is counting his blessings this Christmas: “This year, there’s not many firsts in your life, and you know, first child, first Christmas with him is certainly something I’m not gonna miss. We’re gonna be in North Carolina with my family. I just look forward to relaxing and enjoying our first Christmas at home, and I can’t wait, at the same time, to dial it back up next year, and we’re gonna take him on the road, so it’ll be his first tour! So, it’s gonna be a lot of firsts over the next year, and we’re just soakin’ it in and enjoying every one.” Justin Moore knows it's better to give than to receive: “I’m not really good a receiving gifts. I’d rather get somebody somethin’. Honestly, as crazy as it sounds, I really don’t like bein’ the center of attention, unless I’m on stage. That’s about it. But, I love Christmas, ‘cause I just like gettin’ together with family and, you know, now I don’t get to see my family a whole lot, so...I don’t like takin’ the tree down either, to be honest with you.” Darius Rucker loves his life right now, and can't wait until Sunday: “Christmas at the Rucker house is pretty laid back. You know, our kids wake up early...real early and open the gifts. And, we hang out at breakfast, go to church and come home and with toys and hang out and see family [that] comes by, or we go see family. And, it’s just a pretty normal, fun Christmas Day.”

Jason Aldean has had the most amazing 2011. About the year, he says, "It's been the most incredible year. I'm looking forward to some quiet time in the woods over the holidays so I can reflect on how much we accomplished and how grateful I am for all the support I've received from the fans and my peers in the music business."

Taylor Swift is very excited about something that's going to happen very soon, and she says it's not Christmas. She's not saying what it is, though, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Clay Walker is on the Rachel Ray Show.

The tweet of the day is from Blake Shelton, the Country Kidder: "Come on man its Christmas... Don't be insecure... Make the yuletide gay."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

With Christmas only three days away, some country artists are reminiscing about their childhood holidays. Keith Urban's Christmas in Queensland, Australia came with sunscreen: “The four of us, my brother, and me, and mom and dad, would all go the beach and [there would] be families everywhere. And, we’d take lunch with us, and a lot of the times we’d take all our presents with us, and we’d open them up, either on the beach or the backseat of the car, you know...usually in the car because we couldn’t wait ‘til we got to the beach. That’s most of my fond memories of Christmas.” Carrie Underwood's presents may have been wrapped, but she was never surprised at what was inside: “One thing you learn in my family is that my mother is a blabbermouth, and ever since I was little I have known ever single Christmas present I have ever gotten…ever. I’m not one for surprises! [Laughs] And yeah, I’ve always known my presents before Christmas.” And Alan Jackson makes Christmas for his daughters very much like the Christmases he had growing up: “We always try to remember Jesus’ birthday and just the whole thing! And, [we] just have a wonderful big meal, almost like Thanksgiving four weeks later. We have the same, pretty much, turkey, dressing...all the same kinds of things. Sometimes we have family members in Tennessee and sometimes just us or friends, and we always go home to Georgia prior to that. So, you know, pretty standard, lovely Christmas.”

Josh Gracin had a rough day yesterday. His car was broken into in his driveway in the middle of the afternoon. The crook or crooks got away with his laptop, and police told Josh that two houses on his street were broken into and all the Christmas presents were stolen. Someone's getting coal in their stocking!

Blake Shelton will be part of NBC's "New Year's Eve with Carson Daly." About Blake, Carson quipped, “First thing about Blake Shelton, if you don’t know him, to see him is very intimidating, because he is nine-foot, two. And, he’s a real smart ass! I mean, he really is a smart ass! So, he makes for a great TV personality.”

Dierks Bentley and Darius Rucker will be part of Super Bowl week January 27th through February 5th. They'll perform on the Verizon Stage in downtown Indianapolis. The schedule will be announced in January.

Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum and Taylor Swift have landed on Forbes magazine's “30 Under 30: The Youngest Stars in The Music Business.” Taylor made the list because she raked in $45 million over the past year, and Hillary's on the list because her songwriting and singing helped Lady A win 5 Grammy awards in 2011.

Congratulations to George Jones and Glen Campbell, who will be honored by the Recording Academy as two of the seven Lifetime Achievement Awards recipients. The ceremony will be on February 11th, and the Allman Brothers Band, Antonio Carlos Jorbin, the Memphis Horns, Diana Ross and Gil Scott-Heron are the other honorees.

Taylor Swift's "Jump Then Fall" has been certified gold.

Lady Antebellum is on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Glen Campbell is on Conan O'Brien, Frankie Ballard is on the Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson and Craig Campbell will sing the National Anthem before the MAACO Bowl festivities. The game is between Boise State and Arizona State.

The tweet of the day is from Clay Walker: "Worked cutting horses the last three days and trail rode them afterwards. Sore legs never felt so good!"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Dave Haywood of Lady Antebellum has decided that Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott must be on to something with their significant others, so he decided to join the club. Monday night, Dave proposed to his longtime friend/girlfriend, Kelli Cashiola, and she said yes. Who could have refused such an inventive proposal - Dave strung Christmas lights all over the front of her house, spelling out the words "will you marry me." He picked her up from work, drove her around until it was dark enough, then blind-folded her and drove to her house for the big reveal. No date for the wedding has been released, though it's assumed that it will be after Hillary Scott and fiance, Chris Tyrell, marry this winter.

Blake Shelton is preparing for his "2012 Well Lit and Amplified" tour, Miranda Lambert is working on her "2012 On Fire" tour, and Blake's deep into filming season two of NBC's hit tv show, The Voice, in LA. Miranda visits him there, but they're not thinking about buying a house there just yet. According to Blake, “I just rent houses out there. It keeps me from having to say that I live in Los Angeles. I just, something about that, even though I love that town and I have fun out there, I don’t want to...I’m still an Okie.” The couuple has purchased land in Oklahoma and intend to build their "together" home there. Neither one is willing to sell their own properties in the Sooner State.

Blake Shelton isn't the only country artist inviting fans to cruise with him in 2012. Rascal Flatts will play a show on board the Norwegian Spirit, departing New Orleans on February 26th. The show will happen on March 2nd when the ship is docked in Cozumel, Mexico. Tickets for the concert range from $50 to $150, with those springing for the top tier being invited to a private cocktail reception and photo op with the trio. Check with your travel agent if you'd like to be aboard for the fun.

Songs written by Zac Brown and Brad Paisley are up for Oscars for Best Original Song. Zac and Wyatt Durette, Drew Pearson and Anne Preven collaborated on "Where the River Goes" for the Footloose soundtrack, and Brad teamed up with Robbie Williams for "Collision of Worlds" for the Cars 2 soundtrack. There are 39 songs nominated in the category, competing for the final nominations, which will be announced on January 24th. The Oscars will be handed out February 26th.

Trying to get into the holiday spirit? Sugarland's Kristian Bush and Jennifer Nettles suggest their favorite Christmas shows: "[Kristian] You have to have watched ‘Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer’ in claymation—whatever that is—the Burl Ives bit. [Jennifer] For me, it is usually ‘A Christmas Story’—you know the one ‘you’ll put your eye out with a B-B gun.’ Isn’t that what it’s called? [Kristian] Oh yeah, yeah…that’s got the leg lamp. [Jennifer] Oh yes, the leg lamp. I love this movie. I love everything about this movie. It is the perfect Christmas movie!” Jennifer is spending her first married Christmas with new hubby, Justin Miller - they wed last month.

Martina McBride's adoption special, "A Home for the Holidays," is on CBS tonight.

Happy birthday to Freddie Hart, who is 85 today, Lee Roy Parnell, who turns 55, Brad Warren of the Warren Brothers, who is 43 and Eric Gunderson of Love and Theft, who turns 27.

The tweet of the day is from Terri Clark: "The best free lunch is the one I just had tasting every sample at the grocery store. Makes for a nice meal. They threw me out."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Well, we knew she could sing, but who knew she was so proper? Taylor Swift has landed at #5 on the list of the 10 Best-Mannered People of 2011. The list was compiled by the National League of Junior Cotillions, and the rest of the top five are Kate Middleton, Justin Bieber, Paula Abdul and Aaron Rogers. Kim Kardashian was named the "Most Ill-Mannered Person" of the year.

While Lady Antebellum was busy owning the night Sunday night - the last night of this leg of their tour - Josh Kelley and Edens Edge were planning a pranking. Check it out...

Ever wonder if the stars have special Christmas traditions they observe with their kids? Faith Hill shares one of hers: “They make reindeer food the night before Christmas. We make it with oatmeal and glitter so the reindeer will be fed, and they also can see our house because the glitter will shine up through the stars. So, the reindeer come down and land in the front yard, sometimes on the roof, depending on where we are, and each time it’s amazing, they have left one of their bells behind off of the reindeer sled. Isn’t that remarkable? So, that’s one tradition.”

Darius Rucker will spend the early months of 2012 working on a new album and touring with Lady Antebellum, but he'll take time out to perform his annual fund-raiser for the Medical University of South Carolina Children's Hospital. This year, he'll offer up a night of Sinatra on February 13th, which is a Monday night. Tickets will set you back from $50 to $250.

Congratulations to Zac Brown Band on having the #1 song again this week with "Keep Me In Mind."

The tweet of the day is from Blake Shelton: "Holiday Help... by Blake Shelton Hate being asked to do the dishes after Christmas dinner? Drop some of moms fine china.. Hello football!!"

Monday, December 19, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

The countdown to the big day is on, and maybe you're having a little problem figuring out what to give your special someone this year. Check out what some country artists' fondest Christmas gift memories are:
Dave Haywood of Lady Antebellum: “My favorite Christmas gift was probably my very first guitar from my grandpa about 15 years ago. More recently, I got a red Gibson about five or six years ago. That red one we use on stage was given to me from my dad for Christmas years ago. It was on our first album cover too.”
Gary and Jay of Rascal Flatts: “[Jay] Oh, it had to be the Death Star, the Star Wars Death Star, when I was a kid. ‘Cause it was huge, you know, and it had so many pieces to it, and it was like three-stories tall, you know? I mean, it was really cool. [Gary] When I was a toddler that crank up Evel Knievel... [Jay] Oh, it was great! That’s my answer, I want to switch mine!”
For a country music lover, Chris Young has some ideas: “The first Alan Jackson Christmas record. That record and the Beach Boys Christmas album, if I hear that, that means Christmas, as far as music goes. That was the two CDs or two tapes that were like, ‘Oh it’s Christmas time,’ ‘cause that’s what my mom would play in the car everywhere. I know both of those CDs front to back.”

Saturday night on Saturday Night Live, Michael Buble was the musical guest, and one of the skits had him doing duets with various artists. Taylor Swift and Scotty McCreery were spoofed...check out the video:

Lady Antebellum wrapped up their tour last night in West Virginia.

David Nail had a rough day Saturday - he thought he tore his ACL while bowling. Later on, he tweeted that maybe it's not torn, but just very sore. Guess he'll probably be headed for a doctor today.

Darius Rucker has been collecting songs for his third country cd, and about it he says, "I'm going to try to make the best record I've made yet ... With this record, I want country music to say, 'Hey, he can stay.'" He's planning to release a new single in February, but doesn't yet know if it will be a track from "Charleston, SC 1966" or a cut from the new project.

With success comes...dirt? It does for Brantley Gilbert, who just bought about 11.5 acres of land near Maysville, GA. “You know, I wanted that piece of land for a long time, and to get it was a real sense of accomplishment, you know? I really felt like I’d done something.”

Happy birthday to Little Jimmy Dickens, who turns 91 today.

The tweet of the day is from Thompson Square: "Use what talents you have; the woods would have little music if no birds sang their song except those who sang best."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Taylor Swift doesn't quite top this list, but she's doing really well to come in second. Forbes' list of the Top Earning Women in Music is out, and Taylor's at #2, just behind Lady GaGa. Carrie Underwood is also on the list, at #7. Taylor earned $45 million in the last 12 months, and Carrie earned $20 million.

Oh, music has a new scandal. Rodney Atkins was arrested and booked on domestic assault charges on November 21st, though the story just broke late yesterday morning. His wife, Tammy Jo Atkins, says that he tried to smother her with a pillow, and then threw her down the hallway, all in front of their son. He says she's lying, and he's filed for divorce. A hearing for the divorce case is scheduled for December 20th, and there's no word on when or if Rodney will have to stand trial for the events of November 21st. They were married in April of 1998 and have a 10-year old son, Elijah.

Also in November, Shania Twain's stalker pleaded guilty. The 51-year-old former doctor agreed to stay away from her. But yesterday, Joe Palumbo appealed his own guilty plea in the hopes of being acquitted in a new trial. Currently, he has to stay half a kilometer from Shania. His medical license was suspended in May of this year after he broke an agreement to stay away from her.

Jason Aldean has given Taylor Swift a big gift this holiday season - the gift of recognition for what she's doing for country music. In an interview with USA Today, Jason said, “Taylor has gone out and brought a whole new fanbase to our world. All these teenage girls that might not have listened to country before, she has brought them all into our genre. Nobody else is really doing that.” With two daughters, Jason's probably very familiar with the appeal of Taylor to the young, female crowd.

Brad Paisley is getting set to kick off his Camobunga tour in January, and is planning a bunch of "oh-wow" effects for fans. He says his camo inspiration was Porter Wagoner, who a young Brad saw leave the Opry building not in his famous sparkly Nudie suit, but in camo. “He comes out and he’s wearing a camo hat, and a Bass Pro Shops camo shirt, and camo pants, and that’s what he wore outta here. I remember thinking, ‘Well, that is just perfect!’ There’s something about it that’s very country.”

Montgomery Gentry and the Professional Championship Bull Riders are teaming up for a 2012 arena tour. Each stop includes a concert, followed by bullriding competitions.

On a tiny NASCAR note, congratulations to David Ragan and his new fiance, Jacquelyn Butler. They were engaged yesterday. Wedding details are to be announced.

Vince Gill is on Jimmy Kimmel Live tonight and Craig Campbell is on Fox & Friends Weekend tomorrow.

The tweet of the day is from Blake Shelton: "Just found out the hard way that its not legal to relieve yourself in your yard in LA... Even though I was gonna pick it up!!!"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Today is Bill of Rights Day, and to celebrate, 1 For All has declared today "Free to Tweet" day, celebrating the freedom of speech promised by the First Amendment. Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Darius Rucker, Joe Nichols, Wynonna, Gloriana and Mary Chapin Carpenter are just some of the country artists taking part in the day. For students, there's a chance to win $5,000 college scholarships with the Free to Tweet event. Use hashtag #freetotweet to follow along or participate on Twitter.

Big congratulations to Trailor Choir's Big Vinny Hickerson, who is no longer big. He didn't win the grand prize on The Biggest Loser, but he did lose 184 pounds in six months on the show. Along the way, he got engaged to his long-time girlfriend, Lori Diaz, and according to Vinny, "This is a stepping stone to the rest of my life."

Faith Hill is the first announced performer for the People's Choice Awards 2012, airing live on CBS January 11th. Check out the nominees so you're ready to root for your favorite.

Trace Adkins is surrounded by girls - he has a wife and three daughters. How does he handle all that estrogen? “I get on my tractor and disappear. It's the most therapeutic machine ever invented...It goes against who I am to be interested in ballet.”

Dierks Bentley's life also revolves around girls, with a wife and two daughters. His holiday down time this year is spent decorating, apparently: “I’m Clark Griswold out there, you know? Decorating the tree, putting lights up around the house—all those things you did as a kid and appreciated as a kid. You get a chance to do all over again when you have kids because you kind of become one again.”

Taylor Swift is in the Christmas spirit: “Yeah, I really love Christmas. I wish it was all year round. Um, just like, for the feeling that everybody has. Everybody’s buying gifts for each other, and there’s sort of a feeling about it.” What's she asking for? A pasta maker, antique picture frames and anything from the Free People and Anthropologie stores.

Brad Paisley got to spend some time in the studio with John Fogarty yesterday, and tweeted a photo of he and one of his musical heroes.

Didja miss Lady Antebellum on GMA yesterday morning? Here you go...

Dolly Parton has been named one of the 100 Hottest Women of All Time by Men's Health Magazine. How does Dolly get all dolled up? “People ask me how long it takes to do my hair, and I say ‘I don’t know! I’m never there when she does it! [Laughs] And I just—I never have a bad hair day! If I don’t like that one, I just put on another one! But sincerely, because I’m so used to doing my own makeup, I just put it on and I go and touch it up, so I can be out of the house in thirty minutes if it’s necessary. I like to have a good hour like all women.”

Happy 32nd anniversary to Alan and Denise Jackson, married on this day in 1979 in Newnan, GA.

Lady Antebellum is on Live with Regis and Kelly today.

The tweet of the day is from Blake Shelton: "Ba! Ha! Ha! Quote of the night... "I'm so drunk I can't proper functionally..." - Miranda Lambert"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Jukeboxes are still going strong, and country music leads the list of the most-played songs on them in 2011. In the top 10, seven songs are country. Jason Aldean's "Dirt Road Anthem" was the most-played song on jukeboxes this year, and the other country songs people plunked down their cash for were Eric Church's "Smoke a Little Smoke," Kid Rock's "All Summer Long," Zac Brown Band's "Chicken Fried," Steve Earle's "Copperhead Road," Luke Bryan's "Country Girl (Shake It for Me)" and Kenny Chesney's "Somewhere With You."

Jason Aldean spent some time with hip-hop artist Ludacris this week, working on another collaboration. They've hit the stage a few times, performing Jason's "Dirt Road Anthem," and Jason says people shouldn't be surprised: “I think it’s important just know, even though I’m a country artist, and Luda’s a hip-hop artist, I think it’s important to have respect for other types of music. I mean, I grew up listening to everything from hip hop to blues to rock, southern rock, I mean a little bit of everything.”

Last night was the CMT Artists of the Year special, honoring Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley and Lady Antebellum. According to Charles and Hillary of Lady A, the night was more than special: “[Hillary] Just knowing all of the hard work that CMT has put into this, and they really take time to make it so personal to each artist, which means a lot. [Charles] And, knowing you’re gonna go home with an award, it makes the whole night a little bit easier doesn’t it? ...a lot more fun.” If you missed it, you can watch the whole show online.

Gavin DeGraw performed Kenny Chesney’s “Somewhere With You”
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa presented the award to Kenny Chesney.
Lady Antebellum sang “Dancin’ Away With My Heart” from their Own the Night album.
Sara Evans presented Lady Antebellum with their award.
Jason Aldean performed his single, “Tattoos On This Town.”
Lionel Richie presented Jason Aldean his award.
The Avett Brothers presented a romping live version of their song, “Laundry Room.”
The All-American Rejects performed a mash-up of Taylor Swift’s “Mean” with their hit, “Gives You Hell.”
Faith Hill presented Taylor Swift with her award.
Brad Paisley performed “Life’s Been Good to Me” and “Camouflage” with Joe Walsh.
William Shatner presented Brad Paisley with his award.

Keith Urban asked fans to make a commercial for his new fragrance, "Phoenix." The winner, Eric Noffsinger, has the honor of seeing his commercial on The View December 21st on ABC-TV, and wins a slew of other prizes. You can see his work, but be's just a little bit on the adult side!

The CMA has pledged to donate $10 million to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's "Working On A Building: Country Music Lives Here" fund. It will more than double the current size of the facility and include a new, 800-seat theatre. According to CMA head honcho Steve Moore, "We are proud to support the growth of the Hall and look forward to using the CMA Theater in a variety of ways that will shine a spotlight on the Country music industry and format."

Willie Nelson, politician? Probably not, though people ask him often: “It’s been thrown at me a couple times, and I’m not interested in that. I think, ‘Why should I split my audience,’ you know? Why should I start singing to the Democrats or the Republicans or anybody. Just one audience is all I need.”

There's a Christmas movie in the works, though it won't be out until next year. Kix Brooks is the executive producer and Trace Adkins and Jay DeMarcus have been on the set this week, working on "Saving Santa." Here's the plot line: a disgruntled politician tries to ban Christmas and the kids in the town work to save Santa. Actors Kevin Pollak and Joey Lauren Adams are part of the project, due out in November of 2012.

Got a child on your shopping list this season? Check out Zac Brown Band's online store for a new book, written by Coy Bowles of the band. The book is called "Amy Giggles" and will help kids understand that it's ok to be different.

Lady Antebellum is on Good Morning America today.

The tweet of the day is from David Nail: "Need money, I spent too much in New York! Anyone have a yard that needs mowing? Gutters cleaned? Oh wait, I have both, do I pay myself?"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Taylor Swift is 22 today, and in that short time, she's accomplished a ton. She's the best-selling country artist, the CMA Entertainer of the Year, AMA Artist of the Year, CMT Artist of the Year and the Billboard Woman of the Year. She's won 4 Grammy's, 5 ACM Awards, 10 American Music Awards, 7 CMA Awards, earned the Hal David Starlight Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame, scooped up 11 Billboard Music Awards,11 BMI Awards, 6 CMT Awards, 1 MTV Award, 4 NSAI Awards, 2 People's Choice Awards, 13 Teen Choice Awards, 1 Young Hollywood Award, 3 Canadian Country Music Awards, 3 Nashville Music Awards, 2 Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards, 1 Independent Music Award, 3 Teen Icon Awards, 1 Thailand Music Video Award, 1 MYX Award from fans in the Philippines, and won special recognition from the Associated Press, the RIAA, Entertainment Weekly, Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Guiness Book of World Records, Rolling Stone Magazine and Billboard Magazine. She's also a great role model, a task she takes seriously. What's her advice for young fans who want to be like her? “Get inspiration from all your heroes, but try to be something completely different from your heroes. You know, for me, I think that writing my own songs was a way to create what I wanted to create, and music about my life, and that way it kind of became just a diary put to music every time I put out a new record.” I don't know about you, but I hadn't accomplished nearly that much by the time I was 22!

Brad Paisley has recorded a benefit song for the Ataxia-Telangiectasia Children's Project. He recorded "Hard Life," written by Joe Kindregan, who suffers from A-T. According to Brad, "I've known Joe for several years, and he is one of my favorite people. His disease is physically debilitating, but obviously, creatively and mentally, Joe has such tremendous depth. It's an honor for me to be the person to give voice to his creativity and cause." If you want to help, you can download the song and donate.

Radio's most-played song of the year is Jason Aldean's "Dirt Road Anthem." Congrats to Jason, Colt Ford and Brantley Gilbert.

Send up your prayers for Wade Hayes, ("Old Enough to Know Better") who has stage 4 colon cancer. He had surgery last week and his doctors are upbeat. Chemo and radiation treatments will continue for some time.

In a serious relationship? Love Lady Antebellum and going to one of their shows? If you're thinking about getting engaged, Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott have some advice about when during the show to pop the question. “[Dave] Don’t do it on ‘Love Don’t Live Here.’ Save it for ‘Just A Kiss’ maybe. [Hillary] Yep, ‘Just a Kiss,’ or another song off our second record, ‘When You Got A Good Thing.’ That’s a good one for that.” Oh, and if you're going to the show, wear a tacky Christmas sweater. People wearing the worst ones get seat upgrades.

Nothing tacky about Christmas at Ronnie Dunn's house - he says Janine does a good, thorough job: “My wife is crazy about it. I mean, there’s stuff everywhere. That time of year, I have to go upstairs in the attic and pull all the stuff down in the boxes and unpack it and stuff. You know, once we get it out, it’s all pretty.”

Tonight on CMT, the Artists of the Year concert happens. Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum, Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney and Brad Paisley are the honored recipients, and they'll perform on the show.

Happy birthday to Taylor Swift, who turns 22 today, John Anderson, who is 57, and Randy Owen of Alabama, who turns 62.

The tweet of the day is from David Nail: "Killed the cardio! Killed my salmon and veggies! Now I'm gonna kill this nap! Then I'm gonna kill a shower hopefully!"

Monday, December 12, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Sugarland played the concert for the Nobel Peace Prize winner yesterday, and shared their view of the audience from backstage at the event in a Twitter photo...

Tim McGraw's new Christmas song, "Christmas All Over the World," is available as a free download. Tim says "I'm very appreciative of the support my fans have given me over the years, and I wanted to say 'thank you' to them with this new holiday song."

Yesterday in Washington DC, The Band Perry performed during a taping of Christmas in Washington at the National Building Museum. The First Family was in attendance, and TBP performed "I'll Be Home for Christmas." The show will air this Friday night on TNT. And The Band Perry's 12 Days of Christmas giveaway starts today on their Facebook page. Good luck!'s Best Country Albums of 2011 list is out, and Lady Antebellum's "Own the Night" tops it. Filling out the rest of the top 5 are Luke Bryan's "Tailgates & Tanlines," Martina McBride's "Eleven," Toby Keith's "Clancy's Tavern" and Scotty McCreery's "Clear As Day." Lady Antebellum also owns the #1 slot on the Best Country Songs of 2011.

iTunes has weighed in with their end-of-year list of the best country album, song and breakthrough artist of the year. For Album, Jason Aldean takes it with "My Kinda Party," for song, Thompson Square wins with "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not" and the Breakthrough Artist is Eric Church. Jason Aldean is just hanging on for the ride: “You know it kind of all started with the release of ‘Wide Open’ album and ‘She’s Country’. Everything just kind of snowballed and went right into this album, too. And with ‘Dirt Road Anthem’ and the duet with Kelly, things just kind of exploded for us over the last couple years, so it’s been fun. It’s been a fun ride.” And Thompson Square isn't resting on their laurels, either. Kiefer's dishing on their next cd: “We’ve got, you know, two or three-hundred songs to go through again and just make sure it’s all the right stuff. But, I think we got a few things good that we’re very, very happy with.”

And not to be outdone, Billboard Magazine put out their Year End Country Songs chart, and at #1 is Eli Young Band's "Crazy Girl." That's a love song, but according to the band, some people have a different idea of what the title means: “The funny thing about being on the road right now—we’ve got these ‘Crazy Girl’ bracelets—and we saw on Facebook not too long ago, there were these girls that had taken a picture of their bracelets and they called them ‘Warning Labels’ and we thought that was extremely appropriate."

National Public Radio has come out with their 50 Favorite Albums of 2011, and three country artists landed on the list: Ashton Shepherd's "Where Country Grows," The Civil Wars' "Barton Hollow" and Eric Church's "Chief."

Rascal Flatts' song, "Easy," has been certified gold.

Condolences to family, friends and fans of Bee Spears, Willie Nelson's bassist for over 40 years, who passed away last week. He fell outside of his Nashville-area home and died of exposure in the sub-freezing temperatures. Bee Spears was 62.

Congratulations to Zac Brown Band, who have yet another #1 song with "Keep Me In Mind." Is that nine #1 songs in a row for them? Why yes, yes it is! Let's run 'em down - "Chicken Fried,", "Whatever It Is," "Toes," "Highway 20 Ride," "Free," "As She's Walking Away," "Colder Weather," "Knee Deep" and now "Keep Me in Mind."

The tweet of the day is from Colt Ford, who must be feeling better: "I hope no one gets a photo of me eating these Nachos it is kinda messy I think I got Sour Cream in my ear how does that happen!"

Friday, December 9, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Tickets went on sale this past Saturday for the first eight Kenny Chesney/Tim McGraw concerts. The Brothers of the Sun dates sold nearly 275,000 tickets on the first day, and most of the shows were within a few hundred tickets of a sellout. It was the hottest ticket sale date ever for a Kenny Chesney concert. More shows go on sale this weekend.

Toby Keith has been raising money for it for several years, and in 2012, ground will be broken on Toby Keith Foundation's OK Kids Korral retreat for pediatric cancer patients and their families. The $8.5 million, 25,000 square-foot facility was just approved by the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority's board and construction starts in the spring. The facility is expected to house their first families in late 2013.

Luke Bryan just wanted to have a nice anniversary dinner out with his wife Carolyn last night. They decided that sushi would be good, and went to their favorite place. Midway through the meal, Luke says the manager apparently "chided me like a child" and made him take off his hat. Luke took to Twitter to show his displeasure, naming the restaurant and telling the server to contact him for the other half of the $300 tip he intended to leave. In a later tweet, Luke admitted to being a bit drunk, saying that the two of them had shared two bottles of Dom Perignon.

Rodney Atkins has signed a new contract with Curb Records & Curb Publishing, his country music home since 1996. During his time with Curb, Rodney has released four albums, 18 singles and had five #1 songs.

Jake Owen and his tennis pro buddy Mardy Fish are throwing their 6th Annual Mardy's Tennis and Jake's Music Fest this weekend in Vero Beach, Florida. Jake is excited about how his charity event has grown: “This is our sixth year, so we’ve done five years of this starting in a high school in the auditorium when they were like 6 or 700 tickets available, and it sold out the first few years. I wanted to make it grander. Dodger Town where we hold it is where the Dodgers spring-trained for 50 years until they got sold. We’re back there and we’re packing the whole stadium full of people again.”

Chris Young is part of Jake's event this year, but he may have a problem. The family feline apparently can't be trusted this time of year. “The weird thing about Christmas at our house, with a cat, she just likes to get can literally decorate the tree, leave for two days, come back and from about the bottom-third of the tree down, it’s just undecorated...just will just sit in and swat at stuff until it falls off the little metal hangers.” Two words, Chris - pet sitter!

Zac Brown Band is in the studio, working on a new album.

Kid Rock has no comment, but Mitt Romney's campaign has chosen Kid's "Born Free" as the campaign theme song. Both men are Detroit natives, and Kid has been a supporter of Republicans in the past.

Taylor Swift teased her fans this week, showing bits and pieces of the video for "Ours." Lucky you - the whole thing is here right now...

Mindy McCreedy is on 20/20 tonight, telling her side of the child abduction story swirling around her and her son. Here's a little bit of the interview...

Brad Paisley will be on CBS Sunday morning this Sunday. Bob Schieffer followed Brad around on tour and in his home town of Franklin, TN, where they stopped by The Castle recording studios and stopped in at Barbara's Homecookin' for Brad's favorite lunch.

The tweet of the day is from Jo Dee Messina: "Your world as u know it can change in a moment. live every smile. Love those around you ;-)"

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Taylor Swift has been working on her 4th studio album, and apparently she's always writing. Her plan is to write for two years, and then “At the end of the two years, I collect the best songs that say exactly what I wanted to say, how I wanted to say it, and then, that’s the album. It’s sort of a natural process and you hope for evolution along the way.” The new project should be released some time in 2012.

There's still room on the "Blake Shelton & Friends Cruise" happening October 14-21, 2012. Who are the friends, you might ask? Trace Adkins, Randy Houser, Justin Moore, Lee Brice, Jerrod Niemann, Easton Corbin and Neal McCoy. Jerrod got added to the line-up, probably for the fun factor. According to Blake, “Man, there is nothing more exciting than when I meet another artist that is just willing to go there with me. And, Jerrod is that other guy that I’ve met. I mean, he is not afraid to make an a** of himself, and neither am I. I love him, I really do. I think a lot of that guy, and I think he knows it.” You'll cruise the Caribbean aboard the Norwegian Cruise Lines "Pearl." Sure would make a great Christmas gift for the Blake fan on your list!

Update on Blake Shelton's dad - Blake tweeted his thanks for everyone's prayers and said that maybe he'll get out of the hospital tomorrow. Richard Shelton was hospitalized for pneumonia earlier this week.

The all-girl Pistol Annies, comprised of Miranda Lambert, Angaleena Presley and Ashley Monroe, have been on a west-coast tour and having a blast. According to Ashley, there's a special chemistry that comes from the three of them writing and playing together. “We all three have our own style of writing and our own experiences, but somehow or another they all, when they blend together, it really does create Pistol Annies music.” Pistol Annies and Miranda Lambert are the only country acts to make Rolling Stone's Top 50 Albums of 2011 list. Pistol Annies' are at #29 and Miranda's "Four the Record" is #31.

There's a party in Norfolk, VA on December 15th. Craig Morgan and about 150 volunteers will stuff care packages for troops as part of the 15th Annual Jack Daniel's USO Toast to the Troops. The day of work will be followed by a concert by Craig. This is his 6th time to participate, and he says it's one of his favorite events every year.

This weekend, Sugarland is performing in Oslo, Norway at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert.

Blake Shelton is on the Tonight Show tonight.

Happy birthday to Marty Raybon, lead singer of Shenandoah. Marty is 52 today.

The tweet of the day is a quote tweeted by Big Kenny of Big & Rich: "'America is a tune. It must be sung together.' - Gerald Stanley Lee"

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

There's a new way to see your favorite stars, and it's much more informal for both you and the artist. The venue is your computer and the portal is Artists can put on impromptu shows, selling tickets via their Twitter and/or Facebook accounts and performing from almost anywhere. Jake Owen has been using his shows to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. In just 35 minutes, from the comfort of his kitchen, he raised $3,000 and is hooked on the concept. His "Mardy's Tennis & Jake's Music Fest," live from Vero Beach on December 10th, will be broadcast on, and again St. Jude is the beneficiary. Follow Jake on Twitter for news of his next shows.

Brad Paisley's life looks charmed. He's got a beautiful wife, two handsome young sons and a legion of adoring fans who snap up cds and concert tickets like locusts on a crop. But Brad rankles a bit when people talk about his success: “I cringe every time I read ‘The Charmed Life of Brad Paisley’ in Country Weekly or People or something you know, where it’s like—cause they do—I do look like I’ve got it made, and I do have it made. But it’s always a cringe because the ‘charmed life’ leaves out sleepless nights in the studio and years and years of work.” That hard work picks back up in January with his 2012 Camobunga World Tour.

Other stars with a great work ethic are the members of The Band Perry. Even though they're off the road until Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, when they'll perform, they're still working. According to Neil and Kimberly, “[Neil] We’re spending a lot of our Christmas break—actually gonna you know—we’ve been collecting ideas our here on the road, and so we’re finally gonna put them down on paper during Christmas break. [Kimberly] Yeah, it will be kind of the first time we’ve had to be still for a little bit. And I feel for us as creators, we kind of have to decompress so that our imaginations can run wild a little bit. We’re so excited about the songs in the storehouse so far.” In the new year, they'll hit the road with Brad Paisley on his tour.

New performers have been announced for the 2012 CMA Music Festival June 7-10 in Nashville. Jason Aldean and The Band Perry join the previously announced Carrie Underwood as confirmed performers. Tickets are on sale now.

Blake Shelton flew home to Oklahoma right after the ACA show Monday night to be with his dad, Richard. He's been hospitalized with pneumonia.

Carrie Underwood is in the studio, working on a new album for release in 2012.

Two and a half years ago at the George Strait Artist of the Decade concert, Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton duetted on "It Ain't Cool To Be Crazy About You." So good!

Little Big Town is on The Rosie Show on the OWN network and Trace Adkins is on the Craig Ferguson show tonight.

The tweet of the day is from Rascal Flatts' Joe Don Rooney: "this just in... @garylevox eats skittles to coat his throat before singing those beautiful high notes! No kidding!!!"

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

The ACA's were handed out on FOX last night, and Jason Aldean was the big winner, taking home six guitars. Toby Keith was named Artist of the Decade, and closed the show with "Red Solo Cup." Brad Paisley won Male Artist of the Year despite being the only winner not in attendance, and Carrie Underwood won three guitars. Here's the winner list from last night's show:

Artist of the Year: Jason Aldean
Male Artist of the Year: Brad Paisley
Female Artist of the Year: Carrie Underwood
Group of the Year: Lady Antebellum
New Artist of the Year: Scotty McCreery
Breakthrough Artist of the Year: Chris Young
Album of the Year: My Kinda Party, Jason Aldean
Single of the Year: "Voices," Chris Young
Single of the Year, Male Artist: My Kinda Party, Jason Aldean
Single of the Year, Female Artist: "Mama's Song," Carrie Underwood
Single of the Year by a Group: "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not," Thompson Square
Single of the Year, New Artist: "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not," Thompson Square
Single of the Year, Vocal Collaboration: "Don't You Wanna Stay," Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson
Touring Artist of the Year: Jason Aldean
Music Video of the Year: "Who Are You When I'm Not Looking," Blake Shelton
Music Video, Male Artist: "Who Are You When I'm Not Looking," Blake Shelton
Music Video, Female Artist: Carrie Underwood, "Mama's Song"
Music Video, Duo, Group or Collaboration: "Don't You Wanna Say," Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson
Music Video, New Artist: "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not," Thompson Square
Greatest Hits Award: Alabama
Artist of the Decade: Toby Keith

Blake Shelton was responsible for the most moving moment of the night when he spoke directly to his dad during his acceptance speech for Music Video of the Year by a Male Artist. “I want to say hi to my dad back home. He’s been having a pretty rough couple of weeks, and I know he’s watching tonight,” Blake remarked, straight into the camera. “I love you, Dad, and I dedicate this to you, man. Thank you.” No word on what kind of troubles Richard Shelton is having.

Lady Antebellum has the #1 song of the week with "We Owned the Night." Is it a love song? Not necessarily, says Hillary Scott: “It’s not so much about a romantic night to me, so much as just those nights that I remember growing up that were just like, you feel like you could just float off the ground, it was so much fun, and there was so much joy in it.”

Garth Brooks is in his third year of concerts in Las Vegas and is looking forward to being able to tour after 2014, when his youngest daughter graduates. About going out on the road then, he says, “I would love to tour again for the first time ever without guilt from being away from either your spouse or your children.”

Taylor Swift was given the Billboard Woman of the Year award last week in New York, and is the featured artist in this week's Billboard Magazine. She tells the reporter that her female musical heroes are Faith Hill and Shawn Colvin. Male musical heroes? Oh, yeah - Kris Kristofferson and Kenny Chesney. When you look at what she's accomplished, it's easy to see that she's learned a lot from her personal role models.

The readers of Country Weekly have voted Carrie Underwood "Country's Most Beautiful Woman." Also on the list are Reba, Taylor Swift and Shania Twain.

Wanna own a banner signed by Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland? This is a lamp-post banner promoting the CMA Christmas show, autographed by Jennifer. Sign up to win now. The drawing is on December 9th at noon Eastern.

Congrats to Scotty McCreery, whose debut album, "Clear as Day," has been certified gold by the RIAA.

Kellie Pickler is on "A Michael Buble Christmas" tonight on NBC, and Toby Keith's "Red Solo Cup" gets the Glee treatment. What does Toby think about the song? “It’s the stupidest song I’ve ever heard in my life. And the knuckleheads who wrote it I’ve known for years. I don’t have to go on board and say they are knuckleheads, they will tell you they are knuckleheads—the Warren Brothers. It is so good. It is so stupid and good.”

The tweet of the day is from Colt Ford: "I had to Cancel a show tonight for being Sick. This is a 1st for Me. I'm so Sorry Ya'll. I have the Flu and My Voice is Gone. I Love Ya'll!!"

Monday, December 5, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

There's finally a release date for Tim McGraw's "Emotional Traffic" cd, which was turned into Curb Records in May, causing a lawsuit from Curb, who said he produced new music two months too early. The cd will come out on January 17th, and Tim is ecstatic: "I fought very hard for the release of Emotional Traffic ... it's an album full of music of which I am very proud. It's extremely unfortunate that it wasn't released earlier this year in conjunction with the Emotional Traffic tour, but all I want to do now is focus on the positive and look to the future. I'm really excited about the new music I'm recording. This week I'm putting out a holiday song I’ve just recorded called 'Christmas All Over The World.' After the first of the year I'll have a brand new single which I can hardly wait to share with everyone. I am so appreciative of the support I’ve received over the years, and I’m looking forward to this next chapter of my career."

While Keith Urban is on vocal rest, he's hanging out with Brad Paisley. According to Brad, “We’re big guitar junkies, and we wanted to get together and maybe go through some amplifiers and go through some gear. I told him, ‘Let’s do that. You don’t have to talk. We’ll get together. We’ll play guitar, set up some amps, go through some tubes, try some stuff out and tweak.’ I’ll do all the talking, which I am very capable of. He can just nod and grunt and do whatever he’s allowed to do.” Can't wait to hear the music that comes out of these few weeks!

Jason Aldean got three Grammy Award nominations, but will he go to Disneyworld to celebrate? Here's what he says: “I’m probably gonna go, uh...I may go into hiding for about the next month and a half. You know, I got two little girls at home – and eight-year-old and a four-year-old. So, this is my time of the year where I get to go home and be dad and kinda just hang out with them. So, I plan on probably doin’ a lot of that over the next month and a half.”

Darius Rucker heard about a big fan who is in hospice care in Illinois. When his tour stopped there, he arranged for her to attend the show and have a private meet & greet. 64-year-old Joyce Doyle said she would have the "best dreams tonight."

Mindy McCreedy and her son were found hiding in a closet at her boyfriend's home in Arkansas. Police took her son and made arrangements to get him back to his legal guardian, Mindy's mom, in Florida. No word on whether or not Mindy will face charges in the incident.

The American Country Awards are tonight on FOX, with Trace Adkins hosting and Toby Keith performing. A little birdie told me to expect some Alabama on the show, too.

Alison Krauss & Union Station are on the Tonight show tonight and Toby Keith's "Red Solo Cup" is on Glee tomorrow.

Happy birthday to Gary Allan, who turns 44 today.

The tweet of the day is from Justin Moore: "It was hard, but I just let a turkey walk past my deer stand. He best not come this way again. Heeeeerrrree big buck! Here buck, buck, buck!"

Friday, December 2, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

The American Country Awards are Monday Night, live from Las Vegas with Trace Akdins hosting. Krstin Chenoweth is the co-host, and it'll be a pretty extreme "Mutt & Jeff" look when both are on stage together, as she is tiny and he is not. Toby Keith will perform "Red Solo Cup" during the show, which happens at 8pm ET on FOX. The top 10 country artists based on airplay will be counted down during the show. Voting for Artist of the Year continues til the end of the day today, so hurry!

Now that Tim McGraw is free to record new music, he's gearing up to release something by the time he and Faith Hill tour Australia in March of 2012. Meanwhile, Tim's also working up a tour with Kenny Chesney. According to Kenny, “This started out, I think Tim and I were just gonna do one show together, and then, you know, we talked about it and decided, why not? You know? Let’s go and give the fans the best possible show that we can give them.”

The Band Perry is the only country act to receive an all-genre nomination for a Grammy Award this year. How do they feel about it? “You know, the first thing that we said actually when the nominations were read, ‘It’s just such a diverse group of artists!’ I’m so excited! And, The Band Perry of course, we’re representing country music in the category, but I’m just so amazed at the variety. We’re so excited to be a part of it!” They celebrated their success by going out for Indian food.

If you have a favorite country artist, chances are they have a Christmas giveaway going on. Here are the ones I've run across so far... Lady Antebellum ... Keith Urban ... Jo Dee Messina

Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway...Taylor Swift? Maybe - she's in the running for the part of Eponine in the musical Les Miserables. She's auditioned for the part, as have actresses Lea Michele, Scarlett Johansson and Evan Rachel Wood. No word on when the casting decision will be made or when the film version of the classic musical will be in theatres. Oh, and Taylor Swift has a new, more mature hairdo for the holidays...what do you think?

Miranda Lambert dished some secrets to Shape Magazine about how she keeps her weight in check. She says she doesn't have a planned diet, but focuses on healthy, nutritious choices in restaurants and fast food places. About her body, she told the magazine, “I don’t mind having a big butt – they’re back in style. But, I do a lot of squats to make sure my booty’s not dragging on the ground.”

What do Dierks Bentley and his band do in their time off on the road? Play with the local attractions and a video camera - classic western movie, anyone?

If you missed Sugarland and Lady GaGa on the Grammy Nominations Revealed special this week, here you go...

Kellie Pickler is readying a new cd, "100 Proof," for release January 24th. She says it harkens back to the country music she grew up loving, with influences like Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette.

Reba and Ella Mae Bowen are on the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cut Series special on the Speed channel tonight. Reba's honored to be hosting the show, saying, “We’ve been in Racing 101 all year long. Shelby’s totally enjoying it. We’re lovin’ it. All the folks have been so sweet, kind and helping. They’ve just taken us under their wings and helped us to learn about the race and what we should do next. So many folks have been so sweet to help us. So it is an honor for me to get to be at the NASCAR awards.”

The tweet of the day is from Miranda Lambert: "Got a pig in the smoker, the beer on ice, all my Pistol Annies are coming over tonight!"

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Tim McGraw got the outcome he wanted in court yesterday - he's free to sign with and record for another record label. He's been with Curb Records for over two decades, but planned to leave them once his contractual obligations had been met. He feels they've been met, Curb feels he's in breach of their contract, and in the hearing yesterday, Davidson County Chancery Court Chancellor Russell Perkins ruled against Curb Records' request to keep Tim from recording for anyone but them. The full breach of contract trial will go forward in July of 2012, but in the meanwhile, Curb released a brand new single yesterday afternoon - "Better Than I Used to Be."

The Grammy nominations are out, and the country categories are stuffed with new talent. Here's the list - the awards will be handed out February 12th.

54th Annual Grammy Awards – Country Categories

Best Country Solo Performance
“Dirt Road Anthem” – Jason Aldean
“I’m Gonna Love You Through It” – Martina McBride
“Honey Bee” – Blake Shelton
“Mean” – Taylor Swift
“Mama’s Song” – Carrie Underwood
Best Country Duo/Group Performance
“Don’t You Wanna Stay” – Jason Aldean feat. Kelly Clarkson
“You and Tequila” – Kenny Chesney feat. Grace Potter
“Barton Hollow” – The Civil Wars
“Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not” – Thompson Square
Best Country Song
“Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not” – Jim Collins & David Lee Murphy, songwriters (Thompson Square)
“God Gave Me You” – Dave Barnes, songwriter (Blake Shelton)
“Just Fishin’” – Casey Beathard, Monty Criswell & Ed Hill, songwriters (Trace Adkins)
“Mean” – Taylor Swift, songwriter (Taylor Swift)
“Threaten Me With Heaven” – Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Will Owsley & Dillon O’Brian, songwriters (Vince Gill)
“You and Tequila” – Matraca Berg & Deana Carter, songwriters (Kenny Chesney feat. Grace Potter)
Best Country Album
My Kinda Party – Jason Aldean
Chief – Eric Church
Own the Night – Lady Antebellum
Red River Blue – Blake Shelton
Here For A Good Time – George Strait
Speak Now – Taylor Swift

It was rumored, and now it's official - the man with no voice will be a mentor and judge on "The Voice - Australia." Keith Urban is on vocal rest for another two weeks, but his publicist announced the good news - the Australian version of the show that Blake Shelton is on here in the States will feature one of America's favorite Australians. Keith had no comment, of course, but he's no doubt thrilled.

Lee Brice's new song, "A Woman Like You," is racing up the charts. Check out his video for it...

Lady Antebellum having too much fun backstage with Charles' brother Josh Kelley, and the guys making "bus music"...

Jo Dee Messina, about 7 months pregnant with her second child, decided to start a blog. Check out The Fumbling Mom to follow along.

The drama around troubled country one-hit-wonder Mindy McCreedy continues. Yesterday she announced she's pregnant with twins and won't return her son Zander to his legal guardian by 5pm today.

Congratulations to Lady Antebelum for double-platinum certification for the album "Need You Now" and triple-platinum certification for the single of the same name. Luke Bryan's "Tailgates and Tanlines" cd has achieved gold certification, and Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood's "Remind Me" is platinum.

Tonight, catch many of your favorite country stars on CMA Country Christmas on ABC. The show was taped the day after the CMA Awards, and Jennifer Nettles hosts it again this year. “To come back this year, I feel a little bit more relaxed, a little bit more excited and able to be in the moment, and it’s fun and I think it’s something that harkens to the old variety shows which were super special so I think it’s appropriate for the season as well.”

The tweet of the day is from Blake Shelton: "Just found that I'm the first EVER person laying in bed (drunk) in Tishomingo Oklahoma with 3 Grammy nominations!!!"