Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Taylor Swift kicked off her North American tour Friday night, and she's truly enjoying the special moments with her fans. "Walking through the crowd every night, I would walk through the arena and surprise the crowd in some of the top rows of the arena every night, and then I would walk through and go down to this stage of the back of the arena and perform for the back rows, and that was one of my favorite moments, because that’s when I would get to kiss the little kids and hug people and just a lot of love was exchanged in that part of the show.” She's in Ft. Lauderdale, FL this week for three sold-out shows. Yesterday, she was on the Ellen DeGeneres show.

Jimmy Buffett played Nashville's Bridgestone Arena Saturday night, and Kenny Chesney joined the Coral Reefers, Jimmy and Mac MacAnally on a couple of songs.

Kenny Chesney's latest song, "You and Tequila," is magical to him for more than just the lyrics. It's magical because it illustrates the power of music for him. “I just fell in love with her voice a couple years ago, and didn’t know how to get a hold of her. Finally did, and sent her the song. To me, that just shows you how powerful music can be. You can meet a girl like Grace Potter—never met her before—she grew up in Vermont, I grew up in Tennessee. And I never met her until she walked in the studio, but it was as if—when we started singing together—it was as if we’d known each other our whole lives and it just worked." The video premiers on CMT this Friday at 10:45pm Eastern.

Keith Urban's "Get Closer" tour is appropriately named, according to Keith. “I’m going into the crowd on several occasions. This tour is not just called Get Closer, it’s literally gonna be that, too." Keith usually goes into the audience a time or two, but on this tour he'll spend more time in the trenches, even though it's tough on his wardrobe and his body. "I’ve come home a few times with scratches on my chest and on my back, and my wife’s gone, ‘What is that?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, I’ll show you,’ and we’ve filmed the audience. She’s like, ‘Oh my god!’ It can be a bit treacherous out there sometimes, but it’s always different, always unpredictable, and I love it.” The "Get Closer" tour kicks off June 16th.

The date is set for Craig Morgan's 5th Annual Celebrity Dirt Bike Charity Ride and Concert, August 6th and 7th in Dickson, TN. Day one features the celebrity dirt bike challenge, and day two features a celebrity skeet shoot and acoustic cocert. The fun benefits Billy's Place, a home for temporarily displaced children.

Blake Shelton is enjoying his role as mentor to his team on "The Voice," and enjoys sharing the mistakes and missteps he's made so his team can learn from them. But if words don't work, Blake's got a back-up plan. “A couple of girls on my team get really nervous. Clearly I don't have a problem coming out of my shell, but that wasn't always the case. Who knows? I might take them to make (fools) of themselves at karaoke and get it all out of their system." "The Voice" is on tonight at 10 Eastern on NBC.

Kellie Pickler has a new album coming out this fall, and the first single, "Tough," is the story of Kellie's life as told by songwriter Leslie Satcher. Kellie and Leslie sat down for a writing session and, according to Kellie, “I found myself telling her things I’d never told anybody and then she, uh…She just kinda took my story and she went home and she wrote the song, ‘Tough’…So, I'm very, very blessed to have her a part of my life…that’s for sure.” You can hear a little bit of the song on Kellie's website. Leslie has written hit songs for many of Nashville's biggest stars, like George Strait, Reba, Martina McBride and Willie Nelson.

Shania Twain gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this week.

The tweet of the day is from Miranda Lambert: "Thank u to the men and women who serve and have served our country. You are all rock stars. I'm proud to be an American:)!"

Friday, May 27, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Tonight kicks off the North American leg of Taylor Swift's "Speak Now" tour. It starts in Omaha, Nebraska, and she does 78 shows in 63 cities, 42 states and a Canadian province or two through November. She's reached the point in her career that she has more hit songs than she has time to do in a concert. According to Taylor, “It was a big thing that I had to…think about. Like, which songs do we stop playing? Which songs do we add? You only have two hours to play a show. So, thankfully we got it to a place where I’m really stoked about the set list. I can’t believe that we get pyro and costumes…things that are sparkly and just…wonderful ways to tell a story in a really theatrical way.” Christian rock group NEEDTOBEATHE, Randy Montana, James Wesley, Josh Kelley, Hunter Hayes, Danny Gokey and Charlie Worsham take turns being the opening act on this tour.

The Grand Ole Opry has lined up an action-packed, star-studded summer line up this year. Check it out:
Vince Gill tonight and tomorrow night
Josh Turner tomorrow night
Steel Magnolia May 31st.
Rascal Flatts June 4th
Carrie Underwood June 7th
June 7th and July 1st, Darius Rucker
Randy Travis and Billy Ray Cyrus June 10th
Kellie Pickler June 17th
Dierks Bentley July 19th

Carrie Underwood is in Us Weekly's annual Hot Bodies issue. How does the 28-year-old stay in shape? "Bouncing on stage is a workout in itself. But if I can get myself up to run on the treadmill, I'm good," proclaims Carrie. Julianne Hough is also part of that list of hotties.

Zac Brown is making sure his friends get a taste of the spotlight during the CMA Music Festival. He's invited several guests to join him and the band onstage for their June 9th performance. Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, folk-jazz singer Amos Lee and Sonia Leigh will jam with ZBB that night.

Tuesday night's American Idol was the worst-rated performance finale in the series' 10-year history. But Wednesday night made up for it, adding half a million viewers for the results show. And Scotty McCreery's song, "I Love YOu This Big," was the top-selling song on iTunes yesteray, with Lauren Alaina's song showing up at #3. And here are details you won't find in a lot of places, but will get here: Scotty earns $250,000 for winning and delivering his first album. Lauren Alaina wins $87,500, which will double if she delivers an album. Scotty's parents tell media outlets that their son will continue his education at Belmont University. Both will be on June 2nd's Today show and August 12th's Good Morning America.

Wanna see all the fun we missed at Dierks Bentley's lates Miles and Music for Kids ride in Columbus, OH? Here you go...

Luke Bryan and Longhorn Steakhouse have teamed up to let one lucky person win a trip to Sundance, UT through the "Go West With Luke" contest. One winner gets to take a guest for a weekend stay at the Stewart Mountain Lodge, where Luke will give them a private acoustic show. Airfare and accomodations are included.

Congratulatons to Blake Shelton, whose latest single, "Honey Bee," has been certified gold for half a million units sold. That's the fastest any country male solo act has ever reached gold with a single.

And congratulations again to Blake and Reba, whose tornado benefit concerts raised half a million dollars for Tushka, OK relief.

Darryl Worley and Lee Greenwood are the performers at the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend.

Kellie Pickler hits the Indy 500 this weekend, singing "Tough," the first single from her upcoming album, then ride in the parade before the race. Sunday's Indianapolis 500 is the 100th anniversary of the race.

Dolly Parton will be on the Ellen DeGeneres show today.

Happy birthday to Don Williams, who turns 72 today.

The tweet of the day is from Blake Shelton: "Thank y'all for a great two nights.. We raised $500,000 for the Tushka Oklahoma tornado relief efforts!!!!"

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Congratulations to Scotty McCreery, the winner of season 10's American Idol. Both Scotty and Lauren Alaina were prepared for the other one to win. According to Scotty, “Me and her have been together since day one and we’re gonna stick together.” And Lauren chimed in, "He's my best friend and I love him and I couldn't be happier for him." Carrie Underwood made a special appearance and duetted with Lauren Alaina on the show. 122 million votes were cast Tuesday night in the lowest-rated performance finale in American Idol's history.

Reba and Blake Shelton threw a benefit concert for tornado victims in Oklahoma, and Blake told the story watching the tornado that did so much damage to a town close to him. “It was coming literally directly to my house. Being the, you know, the smart guy that I am I walked outside and stood in the driveway and we actually filmed the tornado…it was only about, you know, a mile and a half from our house and we filmed it come out and it touched the ground for a minute and then it went away and it kept moving east and ultimately ended up going through Tushka.” Donations are still being accepted - text “OKGIVE” to 27722 to make a one-time $10 donation, added to your cell phone bill. Funds will be donated to The mGive Foundation for the benefit of the Tushka Disaster Relief Fund. Checks can also be made out to the Tushka Disaster Relief Fund and mailed to: 101 SE 1st Street, Tushka, OK 74525.

An online charity auction is underway through mid-June, with proceeds benefiting Musicians on Call. Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Blake Shelton, Dolly Parton and Gwyneth Paltrow have all donated memorabilia and meet & greet opportunities. Sports stars have also donated items, so check out the auction and be generous!

Luke Bryan is on tour with Tim McGraw, and Tim had a birthday this week. Luke interrupted Tim's set to sing him the birthday song, with a little help from the audience.

Speaking of Luke, a new CMT Crossroads is in the offing, featuring Luke Bryan and the Doobie Brothers. The special has already taped and it premiers June 24th on CMT.

Sara Evans had a #1 party for "A Little Bit Stronger" yesterday in Nashville. The songwriters, Luke Laird, Hillary Lindsey and Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, were also at the party. According to Sara, “When the album was all done and we knew that ‘Little Bit Stronger’ was the first single, I knew that as soon as I heard it. I…I said, ‘That is the first single, no question…We have to name the album Stronger.’ And it’s a great song! You know, it’s a song that everybody can relate to. Very well written.”

Did you miss Sara Evans on Dancing With the Stars? Here she is...

People are going "huh??" over Craig Campbell's new song, "Fish." It'll either shock you or make you laugh out loud...you've been warned!

Congratulations to Jason Aldean, who has the #1 country album for the 4th week in a row with "My Kinda Party." The album has been on the charts for 29 weeks, never outside the top 5.

Loretta Lynn's ranch, The Plantation, will be featured on an upcoming episode of Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel. The show's hosts visit with Miss Loretta and hear stories about the many ghostly encounters she and her family have had on the property. The episode will air June 10th.

John Rich is on the Ellen DeGeneres show today.

Happy birthday to Hank Williams Jr., who turns 62 today.

The tweet of the day is from Kellie Pickler: "I wish these dang cicadas would watch where their going. They keep flying in my hair. Maybe I should use bug spray instead of hairspray??"

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Six years ago today, Carrie Underwood was crowned the American Idol. Tonight, either Lauren Alaina or Scotty McCreery will find out how Carrie felt, as one of them will win this year's American Idol. Carrie's advice for them? “I have people ask me, ‘How did you do it?’ Well, I tried out for a reality television show. I tried a different route than a lot of people go, because I didn’t know how to do it. I didn’t have anybody giving me advice. But I say, you know—do what you do, and do what you love. And take your opportunities where they come. When those doors open, don’t be afraid to walk through them.” Last night, Scottie performed Montgomery Gentry's "Gone," George Strait's "Check Yes or No" and the song that'll be his single if he wins, "I Love You This Big." Lauren Alaina sang Carrie Underwood's "Flat on the Floor," Pam Tillis' "Maybe it was Memphis" and her single, "Like My Mother Does." The live, two-hour American Idol finale begins at 8 Eastern tonight on Fox.

Tim McGraw has filed a counter-suit against Curb Records, his label of many years. They filed suit against him earlier this month, claiming that he turned in his last album too soon after the last one, making it not "topical and new." Tim's suit calls for payment for the album he's given them, reimbursement for recording expenses, unspecified damages and a jury trial. He's also asking to be "free to begin recording for himself or any other party as of July 23, 2011." Meanwhile, the master recordings for "Emotional Traffic" are caught in the middle of this mess.

Montgomery Gentry is working on their first new music in three years. Troy is psyched about it: “We’re actually finishing up uh…an album this week. A lot of it I think is a lot of old school Montgomery Gentry. You know, I haven’t been this excited about a complete project since the My Town record so I’m really excited to get it out there for everybody to hear.” And how did he feel about hearing Scottie McCreery sing "Gone" on American Idol last night? “My phone was blowing up from text messages of people saying, ‘Hey Scotty the guy on American Idol is singing your song Gone right now on TV, you got to check it out.’ I got to catch just the last tail end of it but what I heard that he did, he did a really good job performing that song.”

Taylor Swift has donated some "execess baggage" to DoSomething.org, a group that encourages teens to make a difference in their communities. Celebrities including Donald Trump and Weird Al Yankovic have also donated autographed items. Taylor gave an autographed acoustic guitar.

Dierks Bentley raised nearly $150,000 for the local Nationwide Children's Hospital during his Columbus, Ohio Miles and Music For Kids charity motorcycle ride and concert on Sunday. About a thousand bikers rode, and another four thousand concert attendees showed up for the after-party. More Miles and Music for Kids events are planned this year.

Oh, it's tough to be Zac Brown, having to do a benefit ride for Camp Southern Ground. It was a Harley-fest around Atlanta.

Randy Travis and Kenny Chesney did a duet of "He Walked on Water" for Randy's upcoming duets project. It turned out so well that Randy wants us all to have it for free! The cd, "Anniversary Celebration" is out on June 7th.

Didja miss Brad Paisley and Alabama on Good Morning America yesterday morning? Here you go...

And in case you missed it on tv last night, here's a sneak-peek at Taylor Swift's new video, "The Story of Us."

Congratulations to Eric Church, whose "Carolina" cd has been certified gold.

Congratulations to Rascal Flatts, who have their 13th career #1 song with "I Won't Let Go."

Happy birthday to Jessi Colter, who is 68 and Tom T. Hall, who turns 75 today. And 20 years ago today, Randy Travis married Lib Hatcher. They are in the process of divorcing now.

Catch Brad Paisley on "The View" today on ABC.

The tweet of the day is from Jake Owen: "Sittin' on the houseboat. Quiet glass like lake.. Cicadas are singin. Video for Barefoot Blue Jean today. Friends here. Life is awesome"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Tonight's American Idol is the sing-off before tomorrow night's season finale, so Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery have to sing their hearts out. They'll each do three songs - their personal favorite from this season, their debut single, chosen for them from the Idol producers and a song chosen for them by their own personal idol. Lauren's musical hero is Carrie Underwood and Scotty's is George Strait, so we'll see what those two country superstars pick for these superstar-wannabes. Tomorrow night is the night one of them is crowned our next American Idol, and it's nice to know that they're keeping it country.

Sugarland, Little Big Town and Matt Nathanson highlighted the fact that the Harold Camping rapture prediction didn't quite come true at their concert Saturday night...

Big & Rich, Toby Keith, Zac Brown Band and Luke Bryan have all been announced as performers at the 2011 CMT Music Awards. It's Big & Rich's first televised appearance as a duo in nearly four years. Kid Rock, who is hosting the show, will do a duet with Sheryl Crow. The show airs on June 8th at 8pm Eastern on CMT.

John Rich is making the talk-show rounds this week, basking in the glow of his victory on Celebrity Apprentice. He's proudest not of the win, but of being able to help out St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Says John, “I’ll raise money for St. Jude ‘til the day I die. You know, Randy Owen from Alabama really is the great-granddaddy of country singers to raise money for St. Jude. He started it 25, 30 years ago. I think country music as a genre’s approaching a billion dollars that they’re responsible for, for raising money for that hospital. So, I’m a miniscule part of that, but I definitely want to do my part.” He'll be on the Ellen DeGeneres Show on Thursday.

Darius Rucker spoke to the Medical University of South Carolina's graduating class over the weekend, and was given an honorary doctorate for all of the charity work he's done for the MUSC Children's Hospital.

Miranda Lambert will be featured in the new season of VH1's "Behind the Music." Her episode premieres July 13th on VH1.

Kenny Chesney will be featured in the June issue of Boating magazine, talking about how the water and his boat enhance his life.

Congratulations to Brad Paisley, who has his 19th #1 song with "Old Alabama." He's also the latest artist to join in the 1 For All movement, to help Americans understand what the First Amendment is all about.

Catch Brad Paisley on Good Morning America, the Late Show with David Letterman and Hannity today. Also today, Blake Shelton is on The Voice, Sara Evans is on Dancing With the Stars and Josh Kelly is on The Talk.

Happy birthday to Rosanne Cash, who turns 56 today and Mike Reid is 64.

The tweet of the day is from Blake Shelton: "Married to Miranda.. by Blake Shelton Yes dear.. Of course baby.. Oh absolutely honey.. Yes.. Yes.. No.... Ouch!! Yes dear.."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Well, he did it! Last night, John Rich won Celebrity Apprentice. After a season filled with drama and big-star clashes, John won out by playing it cool. According to John, “You had to keep your head in the game and you had to be thinking forward and not become a victim of that game. You had to make that game work for you.” Asked why he did the show, he pointed to the performance of "For the Kids" that he did last night and replied, “You had to keep your head in the game and you had to be thinking forward and not become a victim of that game. You had to make that game work for you.” On hand to support John during the finale were Trace Adkins, Two Foot Fred and radio talk-show host Dave Ramsey, all friends of the Rich half of Big & Rich. John's goal was to earn over a million dollars for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, a feat he more than accomplished when he pocketed the $250,000 prize last night.

While John Rich was busy winning Celebrity Apprentice, Lady Antebellum and Taylor Swift were busy winning Billboard Music Awards. Taylor won Top Billboard 200 Artist, Tops Country Artist and Top Country Album for "Speak Now." Lady Antebellum won Top Country Song with "Need You Now." Lady Antebellum performed on the show, singing "Just a Kiss" and Keith Urban performed "Long Hot Summer.

Taylor Swift's Saturday night dress-rehearsal-turned-fund-raiser raised over $750,000 for tornado relief. Speak Now, Help Now happened at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, with all tickets sold for $50, and those in attendence got a commemorative t-shirt in addition to the show. The North American leg of Taylor's "Speak Now" tour kicks off Friday night.

Reba was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame yesterday, along with Bobby Braddock and Jean Shepard. On hand to help celebrate were Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood, Vince Gill, Kelly Clarkson and Garth Brooks. The inductees will be honored again during the CMA Awards this fall. What does this honor mean to Reba? According to country music's favorite redhead, “Well, you know I hadn’t been nervous at all until now. We’re walking into the doors of the Country Music Hall of Fame, a place I’ve been to visit. But, to have my bronze plaque up on the wall of all my heroes, people who I’ve learned and studied and admired through all these years. That’s just a dream come true.”

Dierks Bentley raised some dough over the weekend, too, as his Miles and Music for Kids benefit ride and concert hit Columbus, Ohio. Joe Nichols, Uncle Kracker, Troy Gentry, Josh Thompson and Miss Willie Brown were all part of the fun. Over a thousand riders participated in the event, which resulted in an 8-mile-long string of motorcycles on Ohio roads. The ride benefitted Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Carrie Underwood is now officially the top-earning artist spawned by American Idol. She's sold 12.5 million albums and 18.5 million digital tracks since she won AI in 2005. Kelly Clarkson is second on the sales list, followed by Chris Daughtry, Clay Aiken, Fantasia, Ruben Studdard, Jordin Sparks, Jennifer Hudson, David Cook and Kellie Pickler. American Idol creator Simon Fuller will be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today and Carrie will be on hand to support him.

Tomorrow night, Sara Evans returns to Dancing With The Stars, performing "A Little Bit Stronger." She was a contestant on the show in 2006, but dropped out before the end of the season due to the instability in her previous marriage.

John Rich's benefit cd, "For the Kids," is available at Dollar General stores as well as at the chain's website. Proceeds go to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Brad Paisley's "This Is Country Music" is out today, and the video debuted over the weekend at the NASCAR All-Star race.

Rascal Flatts is on the Oprah show today.

Happy birthday to Jewel, Shelly West and Mac Wiseman today.

The tweet of the day is from Blake Shelton: "Oh god I'm bleeding!!! I'm bleeding!!! Wait. Oh.... It's just ketchup."

Friday, May 20, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

John Rich and Marlee Matlin face off in the finals of "Celebrity Apprentice" this Sunday night. John says the show is unpredictable, and he's psyched about going for the win. “I know that it’s me and Marlee Matlin and one of us is gonna win and I hope it’s me because if I win I get another 250-thousand dollars for the kids at St. Jude and that will put me well over a million dollars raised. My goal coming into this was to raise a million bucks. So, to hit my goal, I gotta win.” The show airs from 9 to 11 Eastern Sunday night on NBC.

Brad Paisley is hangin' at the tracks this weekend, getting set to world-premier the video for "Old Alabama." His new cd, "This is Country Music," drops Monday and it's likely that the second single from it will be the #1 country song next week. Brad will celebrate at the NASCAR Spring All-Star Race tomorrow, and world-premier the video to "Old Alabama" at the race, on the SPEED channel on tv and at NASCAR.com. The video includes not only Alabama, but Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Gordon and Rick Hendrick, and takes viewers down a virtual memory lane of Alabama music videos from the '80's.

Tomorrow night is Taylor Swift's final dress rehearsal before her "Speak Now" tour fires up in the US. At Bridgestone Arena, the show is sold out, and is a benefit for tornado relief. At least two songs will be streamed live starting at 10 Eastern on her website, and she's cautioning the audience that it won't be a perfectly polished show. “Because it is actually a true dress rehearsal, there might be some fine tuning, there might be some things we’ll have to do over again…I can imagine that it might be a very, very true dress rehearsal, but I don’t care—it’s worth it to raise money for people who really need it right now.”

Garth Brooks will be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York City on June 16th. Doing the honors is Garth's friend of 20 years, Billy Joel.

Carrie Underwood is about to take her first trip to Australia to tour. She's going there in mid-June and will play shows in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. She's there in support of the June 10th release of "Play On: Deluxe Edition" in Australia and New Zealand.

Heading to Nashville for the CMA Music Festival? Here are the Opry performances that week:
June 4 - Rascal Flatts and Jimmy Wayne
June 7 in the afternoon - free Plaza Party with Jerrod Niemann
June 7 - Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum, Martina McBride, Darius Rucker, Oak ridge Boys and Jerrod Niemann
June 10 - Billy Ray Cyrus and Randy Travis
June 10 & 11 - Charley Pride, Mel Tillis, Roy Clark and more.
June 11 matinee - Thompson Square, Mandy Barnett, Anna Wilson and more

Blake Shelton's next cd, "Red River Blue," drops on July 12th. It's his 9th studio album, and includes his hottest single yet, "Honey Bee." And Blake Shelton will likely return for season two of The Voice. The other three judges have also indicated that they're open to being part of the hit show, too.

This Sunday, Craig Campbell sings the National Anthem before the NASCAR "Iowa Dealers 250" on Sunday, and then plays a free concert after the race for those at the track. The race airs at 2pm Eastern on ABC.

This Sunday night, Lady Antebellum and Taylor Swift are up for a combined 13 awards at the Billboard Music Awards. Lady A is up for eight and Taylor's nominated in five categories, and performers include Lady Antebellum and Keith Urban. The show airs Sunday night starting at 8 Eastern on ABC.

The tweet of the day is from Martina McBride: "In the studio this morning with my band singing a few songs live for some radio stations. Waffle House is on the way..."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Mr. and Mrs. Blake Shelton grace the cover of US Weekly, on newsstands today. The article features details of the wedding as well as official photographs. By the way, Miranda wore her Mother's wedding gown and a pair of custom-made Casadei cowboy boots. Quipped Miranda, "My parents have been married for 33 years, so this dress is already a good-luck charm." Us Weekly is filled with the details of the wedding last Saturday, and the quotes are flying from attendees:

“At one point when the pastor was reading their vows, he actually made a joke. He was saying, ‘Do you put Miranda before hunting?’ Everybody laughed. I mean, Blake looked down it was just hilarious.”

“The dogs were in the ceremony of course and one of them escaped actually right in the middle of the ceremony so they had to kind of find the dogs. So, that was another funny moment.”

“Neal McCoy played and then it was like this who’s who of sort-of performers getting up and doing all of these songs. Reba and Kelly Clarkson performed “Why Haven’t I Heard From You”. Uh, Miranda got on stage with Brandi Carlisle and did her song, “Crazy”. Uh, it was just one after another and then after all that was over they plugged in a karaoke machine and Kellie Pickler got on the mic and was doing a bunch of songs way into the wee hours. So, it was just everyone got up one-by-one and did a song and it was just…that was like the country music awards show from heaven. Everyone would have loved to have been there.”

Some strong words from Tim McGraw's camp relating to the breach of contract lawsuit that Curb Records has filed against Tim. According to Tim's spokesman, "Tim McGraw delivered his new album, Emotional Traffic, to Curb in the fall of 2010. The label is holding the album hostage from country music fans in an attempt to force Tim McGraw to serve perpetually under a contract that he has already fully and faithfully completed." The label maintains that Tim delivered the music too early, so it's not "topical and new."

Who are the top country artists, according to Forbes Magazine in their "Celebrity 100?" Taylor Swift is at #7, Brad Paisley lands at #48, Toby Keith is #51 and Tim McGraw is #61. Google searches, Nielsen ratings and Lexis/Nexis rankings fed into the list of top celebrities.

Congratulations to Jason Aldean, who has the number 1 country album with "My Kinda Party" and the number 1 ringtone with "Dirt Road Anthem." How does Jason feel about having his songs turned into ringtones? “When ‘Tractor’ was out, it seemed like every time we’d go somewhere to eat, I would hear that song. Almost to the point where I hated it! But yeah, it’s definitely happened, and I think a lot of times somebody will know that I’m around or see me in the mall or something, and they’ll grab their phone and play it just as loud as they can to let me know that it’s on there. So it’s pretty funny—it happens quite a bit.”

Lady Antebellum picked up BMI Pop Music Awards this week, scoring Pop Song of the Year with "Need You Now." The award went to another Nashville country act last year - Taylor Swift for "Love Story."

Ashton Shepherd has finally made it public - she and hubby Roland are expecting a baby girl this summer.

Kid Rock will return as the host of the CMT Music Awards on June 8th. He had a blast doing it last year, and the ratings called for a return.

Told you yesterday that Rascal Flatts will be part of the Oprah farewell shows. Today I can reveal that they performed "I Won't Let Go," because the song perfectly fits Oprah. This episode airs on May 23rd, and the very, very, very last show will air on May 25th.

On tonight's American Idol, one contestant goes home, leaving only two to compete in the finals. Two out of three of the contestants sing country music, so won't it be fun if both of them squeak through tonight? Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery both sang only country songs last night, while Haley Reinhart sang pop/rock classics. The show airs at 8 Eastern time tonight.

John Rich is on the Today show, Access Hollywood and Piers Morgan
s show today. You can catch him on Fox & Friends tomorrow. If he wins Celebrity Apprentice Sunday night, he'll be on Today, Access Hollywood and Regis & Kelly on Monday. Josh Turner is on American Idol tonight.

Happy birthday to Shooter Jennings, who turns 32 today.

The tweet of the day is from Trent Tomlinson: "I love songs and the people who write them! Without song our world and way of life probably wouldn't exist! #justsaying"

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Oh dear, it's getting nasty between Tim McGraw and his long-time label, Curb Records. The honchos at Curb have filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Tim, claiming that the tracks for his upcoming album, "Emotional Traffic," were delivered too soon after his last cd, "Southern Voice." They say that his contract calls for new music no more often than every 12 to 18 months. Tim's attorneys maintain that the master recordings for the new album complete Tim's contractual obligation with Curb Records. For the fans, this means that a release date for the project probably won't be set for a while.

Hungry for more details of the Blake & Miranda nuptials before tomorrow's release of US Weekly, with the official scoop? Ok, here goes - wedding attendees had to surrender their cell phones and other electronic devices before being bused to the ranch for the wedding and then on to the reception. The country-royalty wedding attracted three media helicoptors hovering overhead, trying to catch a glimpse of something. The wedding was in a well-decorated barn described as "country shabby-chic" and was officiated by a Baptist preacher. Neal McCoy performed for two hours, and then karaoke broke out, which is when some of the star-guests got to shine. Reba and Kelly Clarkson duetted, with Reba and the bride duetting on "Little Rock." The reception featured beef tenderloin, gorditas, venison quesadillas and other southwestern delights. Once the guests got their phones back, they took to Twitter...

"So I went to Miranda Lambert's and Blake Shelton's wedding last night, and it was the greatest wedding I've ever been to! I feel as though they should renew their vows every year and throw a party, as well, because everything about it was awesome! The cutest couple ever!" — Kelly Clarkson

"Just leaving Miranda's and Blake's wedding. It was unreal awesome sauce crazy, crazy fun. Congrats to such a rad couple!" — Josh Kelley

"Last night I witnessed the union of two of the best people on the planet. Such a beautiful wedding and fantastic party. Honored to be there." — Martina McBride

"What a wedding and especially a reception! Beautiful wedding of my friends Blake Shelton & Miranda Lambert. Fun, energetic reception. Best to both of them!" — Neal McCoy

"Best wedding ever. Ever, ever, ever!" — Ashley Monroe

"Congrats to Miranda and Blake on their big day! Wonder if Blake will catch hell for changing his last name to Lambert?" — James Otto

"Best wishes Blake and Miranda." — Brad Paisley

"Just got back from one helluva party ... I mean wedding. Congrats to Mr. and Mrs. Shelton! Luv y'all!" — Kellie Pickler

Taylor Swift is in this week's issue of InStyle magazine, gracing the cover and discussing her love life inside. She's been linked with a bad boy or two, and was asked about why she chooses guys who end up not being right for her. "There are no rules when it comes to love," Taylor replies. "I just try to let love surprise me because you never know who you're going to fall in love with. You never know who's going to come into your life – and for me, when I picture the person I want to end up with, I don't think about what their career is, or what they look like. I picture the feeling I get when I'm with them." The magazine is on newsstands this Friday.

John Rich is telling a little bit about what will happen on this Sunday's finale of "Celebrity Apprentice," where he and Marlee Matlin are the last two contestants standing. He asked Donald Trump if he could perform "For the Kids" on the show, and not only did The Donald agree, he got Marlee to agree to sign the lyrics as John performs them. As John Rich said, "It will be a big moment." John has a busy week this week, filming the video for "Fake ID," the first new Big & Rich song in years, and then he heads for New York to be on The View, The Today Show and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

June 9th, the third annual Guitars of the Stars benefit auction will be held at Hall of Fame Park in the midst of the CMA Music Fest. Fans will have a chance to bid on acoustic guitars decorated by stars like Carrie Underwood, Darius Rucker, Rascal Flatts and Jerrod Niemann. All proceeds go to the Opry Trust Fund, which helps members of the country music community when they're in need. A concert goes along with the auciton, and Josh Thompson and Steve Wariner will be performing, as well as donating autographed guitars.

June 14th, many of Nashville's biggest stars team up in a tornado relief concert in Birmingham, Alabama. "BAMA Rising: A Benefit Concert for Alabama Tornado Recovery" will be held at the BJCC Arena in the center of a state very hard-hit by the freakish tornado outbreak last month. Alabama is spearheading the event, and so far Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, Sara Evans, Rodney Atkins, Luke Bryan, Martina McBride, Montgomery Gentry, Darius Rucker, Kellie Pickler, Little Big Town, David Nail, Jake Owen, Ashton Shepherd, Bo Bice and Taylor Hicks. Tickets go on sale Friday morning at 10 Eastern through Ticketmaster. Prices range from $25 to $150.

This Friday and Saturday, Toby Keith's 8th annual Golf Classic happens in Oklahoma, and the list of one-of-a-kind auction items is growing. Miranda Lambert has offered up a package that includes several bottles of her private label wine, Jimmy Johnson autographed a champagne bottle and racing helmet, Mohammad Ali donated an autographed boxing glove, Peyton Manning delivered a signed jersey and Alex Rodriguez signed a baseball to be auctioned off. All proceeds go to the Toby Keith Foundation, which is raising money to build the OK Kids Korral, a home-away-from-home for families of kids being treated for serious illnesses at the Oklahoma University Medical Center's Children's Hospital.

Willie Nelson's Country Throwdown tour just got a bit cooler. Joining Willie, Randy Houser, Craig Campbell and Lee Brice is Jamey Johnson. The tour kicks off May 27th in Philadelphia.

Oprah's last show will feature an appearance by Rascal Flatts.

Shania Twain is on The Talk, and Little Big Town is on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

Happy birthday to George Strait, who turns 59 today, and to David Nail, who is 32.

The tweet of the day is from Jake Owen: "I wish I could tweet in cursive. My tweet would be so elegant."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Over the weekend, American Idol finalists had parties thrown in their honor in their hometowns, with the AI crews on hand to capture the fun. Country singer Scott McCreery's party was Saturday and about 30,000 fans turned out to celebrate his success. Who was on hand to celebrate with him? None other than Josh Turner, who said, "He didn't see me until we were almost face-to-face. I think I almost gave him a heart attack." The two performed "Long Black Train" and "Your Man" together. "Your Man" was the song Scott sang in his auditions for American Idol. Here's a sneak-peek of what this will look like when it airs this Thursday night on Fox.

Also Saturday night, but down the road in Lexington, Kentucky, Kenny Chesney was giving a concert at Rupp Arena. He started singing "Small Y'all," a song originally done by George Jones and covered by Kenny on "Hemingway's Whiskey." None other than the Possum himself strolled out onto the stage, surprising and delighting Kenny. The two of them sang "Small Y'all" and "I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair," after which Kenny invited George to hang around for one more song, and requested "He Stopped Loving Her Today."

There was some SERIOUS bling on the bride at Saturday's wedding of Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert. The two exchanged eternity rings crusted in diamonds. Blake's ring is custom-made and was inspired by the tatoo on his arm. Miranda sported a $1.2 million necklace made by Jonathan Arndt, the designer of their rings. Her necklace was a three-tiered diamond sparkler, set off by huge diamond teardrop earrings. For the reception, she added a quarter of a million dollar cocktail ring featuring over 60 carats of sapphires set in black gold.

The photographer who was hired to shoot Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton's wedding photos says some of the shots will be featured in Us Magazine this week. Robert Evans said that shooting a celebrity wedding is no different than shooting a "normal" wedding. "There is no difference. What makes for great wedding pictures for me is the personal connection I have with my bride and groom and the time to create photographic magic. From the first moment I met each of them I was touched by their big hearts and contagious personalities, which made the privilege of photographing their wedding an absolute joy, not a job.” According to Robert, they didn't follow wedding tradition, and by breaking a rule, they'll have better photos because of it. He explains, "They took my advice and saw each other before the wedding and took all their photos before their nuptials, so after they said ‘I do’ and walked down the aisle, they could go do whatever they wanted, instead of spending time taking photographs. Spending time alone or spending more time with your guests is a smarter choice, especially when your normal human reaction after you kiss and travel down the aisle is ‘Let’s go party and be with our friends and family.’ A wedding is a celebration, and when the months of planning are over, it’s time to PLAY!”

In more Miranda news, her latest song, "Heart Like Mine," tops the country singles charts this week.

How smokin' hot is Lady Antebellum? They've just had the highest chart debut of their career with the new song, "Just a Kiss." It landed at #7 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, which is an all-genre chart. In the first week the song sold over 211,000 digital copies, topping the iTunes country singles chart.

Head for an auction and get great stuff for an even greater cause. MusiCares and the Grammy Foundation have rounded up some amazing artist memorabilia for you to bid on, including a bass guitar signed by Kenny Rogers, an electric guitar signed by Keith Urban, a CD/DVD "Revolution" set autographed by Miranda Lambert and much more. The auction ends day after tomorrow, so hurry!

John Rich is out with not one but two six-paks of music. One is "For the Kids" with all proceeds going to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The other is "Rich Rocks," a high-energy collection of vintage John Rich music. Both include high-profile duets with Kid Rock, Hank Williams Jr. and Lil John.

The tweet of the day is from Kellie Pickler: "It's my lucky day. Found an old pair of jeans I wore in high school. There was a $10 bill in the back pocket! Best part is they still fit!"

Monday, May 16, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Saturday evening was the big moment for Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert. They're now officially husband and wife, having married at Don Strange Ranch, just north of San Antonio, Texas. Miranda wore her Mother's wedding dress, and about 550 guests were in attendance. Spotted at the shindig were Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, Dierks Bentley, Charles Kelly of Lady Antebellum and of course Neal McCoy, who provided the entertainment for Saturday's reception. The two have been dating since 2006, and engaged for just over a year.

John Rich did it last night - he's in the finals of Celebrity Apprentice. Marlee Matlin is the other finalist, and the two will go head to head this coming Sunday night for the finals. The challenge? Create a marketing campaign for 7 Up Retro. John's psyched to have gotten this far, and has a very singular goal: “I mean, this is a crazy, crazy show and the reason I want to have a shot at winning it is ‘cause you get 250-thousand more dollars for your charity if you win. Being able to play for St. Jude is…I don’t know that I’ve ever done anything better in my life. Really proud to be that ambassador and be the guy sluggin’ it out for them.”

Congratulations to Vince Gill, who earned an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Belmont University. The president of the university, Dr. Bob Fisher said, “As a singer, songwriter and multi-faceted musician, Vince Gill has mastered his craft and yet he keeps pushing himself to service and providing opportunities for others to succeed. Vince is truly a Nashville — and national — treasure.” Vince became famous for his pure tenor voice, but his work with charities has become very important to him, helping the community and raising money for scholarships. “I have never been more honored to receive anything in my life,” Vince said.

On May 27th, Randy Travis will be on the Home Shopping Network, celebrating 25 years in country music. Viewers will have the chance to pick up a special 2-disc set, which includes his top 10 greatest hits and his new Anniversary Celebration duets cd. His duet partners include Zac Brown, Brad Paisley, Alan Jackson, George Jones and others.

Brad Paisley's H2O II tour was supposed to start in Pittsburgh on May 28, but noooooo - the kickoff of the tour will now be June 3rd in virginia Beach. Brad's hoping to be able to reschedule the Pittsburgh date, but refunds are being processed for those who want them.

Happy birthday to Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel.

The tweet of the day is from Laura Bell Bundy: "@blakeshelton & @Miranda_Lambert Mr & Mrs. Shelton! Y'all know how to have a wedding! Where's the advil!!!! Xo"

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Donations are still being collected for the tornado victims by the American Red Cross, who benefited from the "Music Builds: The CMT Disaster Relief Concert" on Thursday night. The show will re-air tomorrow night on HLN, and you can see the performances here right now.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Kenny Chesney is scheduled to play a concert in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on May 25th. That area was devastated by the outbreak of tornadoes a couple of weeks ago, with hundreds of lives lost and millions in property losses. Kenny decided to turn that show into a benefit concert, pledging all proceeds to GiveTuscaloosa.com which will funnel the funds to local charities and social services. Kenny's management and booking agents are all donating their fees, too.

It'll be a while before we know how much money last night's tornado relief telethon raised, but it was an action-packed night of country music. Kicked off by Hank Williams Jr and the Blind Boys of Alabama, the show included performances from Lady Antebellum, Sara Evans, Alabama, Ronnie Dunn, Keith Urban, Gretchen Wilson, Trace Adkins, Tim McGraw and Little Big Town. Spotted on the phone bank taking donations were Kellie Pickler, Clint Black, Ashton Shepherd, Darryl Worley, Phil Vassar and Hank Williams Jr. If you want to help, text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or visit redcross.org to donate online or call 1-800-733-2767 to donate on the phone.

Tomorrow is the big day for Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert. While she was having her mani-pedi, heading to Wal-Mart one last time as a single woman and packing the venison cutlets to be used as part of the reception meal, Blake Shelton tweeted, "I'm not going to be here for a few days so stir [stuff] up for me while I'm gone. I'm going to get buried." The event will happen somewhere in Texas, Neal McCoy will be the musical feature and that's about all that is known about the event. Watch this space on Monday - I'll dig up details for you and post them here.

People.com has a photo gallery of Blake and Miranda, for your cooing, er, viewing pleasure.

Jason Aldean celebrated his #1 song, "Don't You Wanna Stay" this week, surrounded by songwriters Jason Sellers, Andy Gibson and Paul Jenkins. The song spent multiple weeks at #1 on the country charts and is now climbing the Pop and Hot AC charts, so they might have to have another party for it!

This year's Farm Aid will be the inaugural concert at Kansas City's Livestrong Sporting Park. The show happens August 13th, and Willie Nelson, Neil Young and Dave Matthews are all lined up to perform, with other artists to be named later.

Brad Paisley is blown away when he hears his latest song, "Old Alabama," on the radio. Why? He's amazed to hear his voice along with his musical heroes, Alabama. “It’s really an amazing experience to see them back together singin’ like they are and that sound that the three of their voices have. They’re just responsible for so many of us in music now, you know, that were influenced by them. And getting to hear them on the radio right next to me is the thrill of a lifetime.”

Keith Urban and The Band Perry spent yesterday writing songs. Can't wait to hear what those brilliant musicians all teamed up to create!

Darryl Worley will donate $1 per download of the song "Unsung Heroes." The money will go to U.S. Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command and also to the 9/11 Families for a Secure America Foundation. The song is free to service members.

On Sunday's Celebrity Apprentice, all of the former winners show up to grill the final four and make their recommendations to Donald Trump as to who should be cut from the show. They go from four contestants to two this Sunday, and John Rich says the questioning was pretty tough. “They just drill us with questions as to why we want to be the next Celebrity Apprentice. They bring up every mistake we’ve made throughout the season and I mean, make it really tough. And then, they go back to Donald Trump with their suggestions as to who should be in the final two.”

Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers are on Fox & Friends today. Sunday, catch John Rich on Celebrity Apprentice, Shania Twain on her own show on OWN, Miss Willie Brown sings the National Anthem before the FedEx 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race and country artists and the Grand Ole Opry are featured on Today Show Weekend.

Happy birthday today to Darius Rucker, who turns 45, and to Lari White, who is also 45.

The tweet of the day is from Brad Paisley: "Got to work with England's own Robbie Williams for Cars2.He's Awesome.If my fans are asking"who's that?"Well,his are asking the same about me"

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

It's hard to keep track of all of the performers on tonight's tornado relief benefit telethon on CMT without a scorecard. So here's your scorecard: Hank Williams Jr. got the ball rolling with CMT for tonight's show, and Alabama, Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban and Tim McGraw jumped on the bandwagon right away. Then more performers stepped forward: Alan Jackson, Gretchen Wilson, Trace Adkins, Little Big Town and The Blind Boys of Alabama. Showing their support via video messages are Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Alabama coach Nick Saban and President Obama. Hosting the show are Ron White, CNN's Robin Meade and ESPN's Erin Andrews. The show airs on CMT and at cmt.com starting at 9 Eastern time tonight. Expect another star or two to be added to the line-up between now and then.

Lady Antebellum's Webisode Wednesday this week is all about Mothers, and is a Lady Hazing of Jerrod Niemann...

Yesterday, Taylor Swift was on "Ellen DeGeneres" talking about her life, loves and the paparazzi...

She performed her new song, "The Story of Us."

Blake Shelton's video for "Honey Bee" is awfully sweet...

The Band Perry hails from the Greeneville, TN area and spent some time this week with American Red Cross vests on, helping residents with food and supplies they need during the tornado cleanup. Donations of food, water, sports drinks, cleaning supplies and other necessary goods can be sent or taken to the Greene County Disaster Relief offices at Free Will Baptist Family Ministries, 90 Stanley Lane, Greeneville, TN 27743.

Luke Bryan took to his Facebook page yesterday and announced his next cd, "Tailgates & Tanlines." His third album will be in stores on August 9th and includes his latest song, "Country Girl (Shake It For Me.)" During the online event, Luke performed a couple of songs from the cd live for those watching. "Drunk on You" and "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye" were the songs, plus he showed behind-the-scenes peeks at the video for "Country Girl."

Shania Twain is on the Ellen DeGeneres show today. Missed the debut of her show on OWN? If you're a fan of her music, you might want to watch, because she's shown working on a new song during the series. By the time the finale airs, "Today (Is Your Day)" will be ready for air. If you want even more Shania, pick up the latest People magazine. She's on the cover and inside, too.

Craig Morgan and the Outdoor Channel are teaming up for season 2 of "Craig Morgan: All Access Outdoors." Thirteen new episodes air starting June 25th.

Miranda Lambert and Brad Paisley are part of Good Morning America's 2011 Summer Concert Series. The show dates haven't been announced yet.

Brad Paisley's "This Is Country Music" comes out on the 23rd of this month, but that's not the only album feturing Brad's music. He has two cuts on Disney Pixar's "Cars 2" soundtrack. "Collision of Worlds" is a duet with British singer Robbie Williams, and the other song is "Nobody's Fool." The soundtrack will come out on June 14th and the movie opens June 24th.

Happy birthday to Kix Brooks, who turns 56 today.

The tweet of the day is from bride-to-be Miranda Lambert: "I am so excited. Got nails touched up. One last wal mart run and I should be good!"

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

John Rich is just one episode away from tying with Trace Adkins as runner-up on Celebrity Apprentice. Trace did it in the 2008 season and John's on a big roll in the 2011 season. If he makes it through this Sunday night's episode, where two people will be fired, he'll only be one episode away from winning the whole shebang. His charity is St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and of them he says, "I went to St. Jude with Lonestar when I was 20, and I still haven't gotten over it. I've always wanted the opportunity to take what I've built for myself and apply it to helping St. Jude, and Celebrity Apprentice has been the perfect opportunity for that." Hit up iTunes for the song he's dedicated to St. Jude to help him raise a million dollars for his favorite charity. "For the Kids" is the song, and also the title to a six-pak album he has coming out next week.

Josh Turner's concert in Stockton, California was good for at least four people. At the show, two couples got engaged. Just before he sang "Would You Go With Me," Josh dedicated the song to brand-newly-engaged Jeff and Alma, calling them to the stage and telling them, "Now you two stay together, alright?" Later in the show, someone in the crowd passed a note to Josh, who read it and then handed the mic to the guy. That man proposed to his girlfriend, too. Both women said "yes" and Josh joked with the single members of his band, "You don't have anyone you want to ask, do you? It seems to be contagious!"

Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert still aren't divulging details about Saturday's wedding, except that Neal McCoy is the musical entertainment, the ceremony will be somewhere in Texas and venison is on the menu. No details have leaked out about Miranda's bachelorette party last weekend in Lexington, KY, but I'm looking for them and will let you in on any photos I find.

Good news on the Keith Urban artwork that was stolen from out in front of a salon in Wisconsin - the huge fiberglass hand sculpture has been returned to the owner. A young man reported that he found the piece and thought it had been thrown away. When he heard the news that it was stolen, he promptly returned it and refused the cash reward. No word on whether he accepted the concert tickets and meet & greet passes Keith added to the reward.

It was just a matter of time - Keith Urban is getting his own fragrance. He's working closely with a custom beauty company to create the perfect "aura of Keith." He joins Taylor Swift, Shania Twain, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill as country artists with a signature scent.

Brad Paisley's "This is Country Music" comes out on May 23rd, and tv shows are lining up to have him on. He'll be on "Good Morning America," "The Late Show with David Letterman" and "Hannity" on the 24th, and on the 25th he'll perform on "The View."

Kid Rock will be the next roastee on Comedy Central's Roast ceries. The show will be taped in August.

This Saturday, the restoration of the Grand Ole Opry House following last year's floods will be featured. Lester Holt conducts the tour and is shown being the guest announcer at the Opry and playing bass for Luke Bryan. Here's a sneak-peek.

Zac Brown Band is on Jimmy Kimmel Live tonight, Taylor Swift is performing on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and Steve Earle is on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Happy anniversary to Trace Adkins and wife Rhonda, who celebrate their fourteenth wedding anniversary today.

Happy birthday to Mark Herndon of Alabama, who is 57.

The tweet of the day is from Sara Evans: "Walked in to use restroom here and my song was playing! I never said a word! So weird!"

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Tickets for the Taylor Swift dress rehearsal/benefit concert "Speak Now...Help Now" go on sale Thursday morning at 11 Eastern. The show is May 21st at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena and is the final dress rehearsal before her "Speak Now" tour kicks off in North America. Each ticket is $50 and includes a commemorative t-shirt for those who go to the concert.

This Thursday night's benefit concert for tornado victims just got a few more stars. Joining Hank Williams Jr, Alabama, Ronnie Dunn, Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban, Tim McGraw, Sara Evans and Alan Jackson are Trace Adkins and Little Big Town. The show, "Music Builds: CMT Disaster Relief Concert" airs at 9 Eastern on CMT and CMT.com. All money collected during the benefit concert goes to the American Red Cross. You can donate $10 now by texting REDCROSS to 90999.

David Nail is hosting a flood relief concert in Missouri on May 27th.

Dierks Bentley reveals some of his pre-show rituals...

Chris Young's next album, "Neon," streets July 12th. It includes his current hit song, "Tomorrow."

Tonight is the night that Reba joins Blake Shelton on "The Voice," adding another coach to his team.

The tweet of the day is from Trent Tomlinson: "I just found out that the building I live in has a restaurant that delivers food to your condo till 5 in the morning! #winning"

Monday, May 9, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

Last night on Celebrity Apprentice, there were supposed to be three firings. There were actually only two, because Nene Leakes quit. She said she couldn't deal with Star anymore. LaToya Jackson and Star Jones got their walking papers, so John Rich is still hanging on. Lil Jon, Marlee Matlin and Meat Loaf are the final four who are competing to be Donald Trump's celebrity apprentice.

Taylor Swift will use a band dress rehearsal as a fund-raiser for the people whose lives were tossed around by tornadoes in the southeast. Her May 21st rehearsal at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville is being called "Speak Now...Help Now." "I was watching the coverage of the tornadoes backstage at rehearsals, and I wanted to do something for the families affected by the damage," Taylor said. "I've never opened a rehearsal to the public before, but I felt that inviting my fans to the last rehearsal for the Speak Now Tour would be a great way to raise money ... We'll probably still be doing some fine-tuning to the show that night, since this will be a true rehearsal ... but I feel like it is so important for me and my fans to help if we can." The on-sale date will be announced today, and about 13,000 tickets will be available for the rehearsal.

Reba and Blake Shelton added a second tornado-relief benefit concert in Durant, Oklahoma. The first one on May 26th sold out in less than two hours last week, so they announced a show on May 25th. The shows will be held at the Choctaw Casino Resort.

Toby Keith is back home after 12 days touring the Middle East on his 9th USO mission. He visited 11 installations, was the honorary catapult "shooter" for an F-18 launch and successfully dodged a mortar attack. He entertained about 18,000 military men and women and was in country when Osama bin Laden was killed. On Monday he said, "It's a great day to be an American. I've been telling you for a decade that the U.S. military would hunt down and kill world enemy No. 1. While traveling abroad I am blown away by the positive coverage by the world media. There is a consensus in the world media I have never seen before. Thanks to our commander in chief for having cojones to finish this job, but the mission is far from over." Here's Toby's visit with the US Navy's Big E - check out what Toby writes on a piece of ordinance at the end...

Zac Brown Band is doing some shows with Kenny Chesney this year, and is enjoying time on the road with one of his musical heroes. “Having some mentoring from folks like Kenny and Buffet and Dave Mathews and Willie…Just a lot of the people that are really iconic. Just to have those people that you can call and say, ‘How did you handle this when it came to this point?’” The "Goin' Coastal" tour stops in Florida, South Carolina and Kentucky this week.

Hank Williams Jr. is set to host a benefit concert for the people affected by the tornadoes, and he's not shy about his motivation for doing it. “That really ticked me off. Who gives a damn about the royal wedding? We’ve got three hundred people, over three hundred people that have died. That made me hot. We won’t be showing the royal wedding on this special! We’ll be showing the royalty of country music.” Joining Hank are Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, Alabama, Keith Urban, Sara Evans, Ronnie Dunn and Lady Antebellum. Look for more artists to show up that night, too. The show will air live on CMT and cmt.com this Thursday night at 9 Eastern.

On May 17th, Shania Twain fans can see her on the cover of Redbook Magazine and read her interview inside. She discusses her new book, her new marriage, raising her son and more.

The Today Show summer concert series has confirmed a few hot country acts. Kenny Chesney will perform on June 17, Blake Shelton on July 8 and Zac Brown Band on August 12.

It was on this day one year ago that Blake Shelton proposed to Miranda Lambert in the woods near her home in Tishomingo, Oklahoma. She said "yes" and this Saturday they seal the deal.

The tweet of the day is from Martina McBride: "Had a great day.Breakfast in bed, hanging out all day, out for dinner. I was spoiled rotten ! :}"

Friday, May 6, 2011

Today's Country Tidbits

The first of what will surely be many benefit concerts for the southeast in the wake of the historic tornado outbreak happens May 12th on CMT and cmt.com. The telethon won't have a studio audience, but will be star-studded, as Hank Williams Jr. rallied Keith Urban, Tim McGraw, Lady Antebellum, Sara Evans, Ronnie Dunn and Alabama to perform with him. The proceeds will go to the American Red Cross for tornado disaster relief, but you don't have to wait until the 12th to help. Text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the American Red Cross.

This time last year, Nashville was still awash with flood waters and the community was rallying together to clean up and rebuild. Country artists had a lot of personal losses in the flood and did a lot of work to make the city clean and new again. Here's what some of the artists have to say about the area and the experience:

"The Opry is a metaphor, really, of Nashville. What the Opry did, I think the city has done to a large degree, which is rebuild itself and better than before ... I couldn't be prouder of this place or this town." - Brad Paisley

"It's amazing when you consider just how far the whole city has come ... The fact that we're standing here today and it looks the way it does. It's just perfect out here." — Luke Bryan

"Being a Grand Ole Opry member, you're a member of a family. When I saw the photographs and the video of what this place looked like that day, I was heartbroken because as a family, this is our house ... To see the restoration and the resurrection, it was nothing short of miraculous. This building and institution is a testament, it's a monument to this city and the backbone we have and the perseverance we have." — Trace Adkins

"I remember being on the road and seeing footage of the door right over there with the water halfway over the door sign – just total heartbreak. Just thinking about the stage and the circle and all the dressing rooms and Porter Wagoner's pictures just makes me really sad. Looking back on it now, and to see the Circle and backstage area better that it's ever been, it feels more homey than it ever has." — Dierks Bentley

Pranks are a way of life on the road for many artists. Last week, Miss Willie Brown pranked Dierks Bentley by wrapping his Jeep in plastic. You know what they say about paybacks...

In Eau Claire, Wisconsin, some street art featuring the likeness of Keith Urban has gone missing. A large fiberglass hand painted with images of Keith in concert was spirited away under cover of darkness. The owner of Urban Style, the salon outside which the sculpture resided, got a call from Keith, offering four concert tickets and VIP passes for the reward fund. Officials suspect college students are behind the prank and hope that the sculpture will be returned unharmed.

Miranda Lambert will have her bachelorette party in Kentucky this weekend. She's at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby, and it's a girlfriends weekend. She and Blake will be married next weekend in Texas.

Blake Shelton caused a little dust-up with a Tweet he posted Wednesday night. He wrote new lyrics to Shania Twain's "Any Man of Mine" that read, “Any man that tries Touching my behind He’s gonna be a beaten, bleedin’, heaving kind of guy….” He said the post was intended to be read from a woman's point of view and asked the Gay and Lesbian Aliance Against Defamation to help him spread the word that he's not anti-gay. All is forgiven, because we all know that Blake will be Blake.

Martina McBride's next cd will be out August 23rd, and she's working on plans to tour next year. “It takes a lot of time to put that together and I wanna really do something that’s really different and new and a whole new experience. Because when you’ve been touring like I have for 18 years and people spend their hard earned money on a ticket. I just want them to be able to show up and say, ‘Wow, that’s something we have never seen from her before.’”

Taylor Swift will be on the Ellen DeGeneres show May 11th, and they want to fill the audience with the "ultimate Taylor Swift fans." Good luck!

Still looking for the perfect Mother's Day gift? One of the Taylor Swift cards being offered by American Greetings features a song Taylor wrote for her Mom, called "The Best Day." And Ashton Shepherd posted a free acoustic performance of "I'm Just a Woman" from her upcoming album, "Where Country Grows" that your Mom might like.

Zac Brown Band has taken their "eat and greets" to another level, teaming up with Kingsford Charcoal for Supper Clubs before the band's shows. There'll be live music from some of Southern Ground's up-and-coming acts, dinner featuring some of Zac's best recipes and a chance to win dinner with Zac Brown Band.

Do you like Phil Vassar? He wants to give you his new song for free. Hit the CMA Facebook page, "like" it and then click the link on the left that says "Phil Vassar Download." You'll get "Let's Get Together" for free.

Keith Urban and Bill Anderson will be inducted into the Music City Walk of Fame on May 15th.

Sunday night, John Rich is on "Celebrity Apprentice" where three people will be fired. The three-hour episode begins at 8 Eastern. Also Sunday night, "The Judds" concludes on OWN, and Shania Twain's show, "Wy Not? With Shania Twain" debuts immediately after the Judds finale.

The tweet of the day is from Josh Thompson: "Up writin a song with Phillbilly n Chris Wallin. Tryin to keep the S off the front of hits."