Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Yesterday, news of Reba's death spread like wildfire on the internet, even becoming the top searched topic on Google. Supposedly she died while filming a movie in Austria from a fall down the Hahnenkamm mountains. Reba herself is very much alive, in spite of the rumors, and is gearing up to host the ACM Awards on April Fools Day. Early hoax? Seems so - the web site that first reported her death has a mice-type disclaimer under the story, saying that it's for entertainment purposes only and is 100% false.

In the wake of losing two people close to her in the span of a week, yesterday Miranda Lambert shot the video for "Over You," a song Blake Shelton wrote about the loss of his brother. To say the set was emotional is an understatement - Miranda says that the video is extremely passionate and the tissue count while filming was high. It should be out by the middle of February.

Just before Keith Urban had surgery to remove polyps from his vocal folds, he was asked to write and produce a song for the upcoming movie, "Act of Valor." He was hesitant, but wife Nicole Kidman worked her magic: “I have to thank Nic for really saying to me, ‘you should do this, you really should. I think you’ll really be able to do this if you just commit to it. And she really kind of gently suggested that I do it. And I’m glad I did.” The soundtrack comes out February 21st and the movie hits theatres the following weekend.

Dierks Bentley is celebrating the release of his cd, "Home," with a concert at the Ryman Auditorium on Thursday. The show will be extra-special, since the revered stage will be torn out two days later. “It’s my most favorite place to play. It’s the place I have the most respect for. I didn’t need any added pressure, and then you find out that they’re ripping up the stage that’s been on there for the last 60 years to put in a stronger stage to support more of the rock bands that come through and play it now. Hopefully, we leave a great last final mark on that stage.”

Trisha Yearwood is cooking up some tv fun with the Food Network. She's filming six episodes of a so-far-unnamed show that will feature family recipes, Sunday dinners and a peek at the kitchen she and Garth Brooks share in Oklahoma. The series will have a name by the time it airs in April.

Happy days for Chris Young, who's just scored his 5th #1 single in a row with "You." That song tops one of the two major country charts - Luke Bryan is at #1 on the other one with "I Don't Want This Night to End." About the song, Luke confesses, “It’s probably the furthest I’ve went from a country-sounding track ever. It’s really not a country track, but then you’ve got my ‘ol country voice on it. That’ll simmer down the most craziest of tracks.”

Jennifer Nettles will be part of the Super Bowl fun - she's the soundtrack for one of the Pepsi Max commercials. She sings the Hank Williams chestnut, "You're Cheatin' Heart." Check it out...

The tweet of the day is actually a series of tweets from Brad Paisley, who was busy correcting pop songs via Twitter last night.

"This land is your land? Sorry. My bad."

"I'm not walking on sunshine. I cast a shadow. It's impossible to walk on sunshine"

"Birds don't actually fly over most rainbows. And I can't fly at all.Therefore I can't fly over the rainbow. Duh."

"You're so vain. You probably think this song isn't about you."

"Billie Jean? Yes, she's my lover...the kid is mine."

"I did not shoot the sherriff. Sorry. But I did shoot the deputy."

"I actually do not have wings, nor are you the wind beneath them."

Monday, January 30, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Sunday night is the Super Bowl, and also the premier of The Voice right after the big game. Blake Shelton says that the judges have discussed country collaborations, and Christina Aguilera wants to duet with Miranda Lambert. Meanwhile, Blake has a favorite judge - Cee Lo Green. “Cee Lo is the sweetest guy ever, I mean and he’s the coolest...he is...Cee Lo is the coolest human being I have ever been around in my entire life. I’ve never been around anybody that when they come into the room, I mean, you knock stuff over to go stand by him because he’s gonna say something that...is just...you’re gonna go, ‘Ah! Why didn’t I think of that?’”

Miranda Lambert has rescheduled her show this Friday night so she can attend the funeral of Mark "Tex" Adams. The two had been friends since third grade, and Mark was killed on a Florida highway when he stopped to help a stranded motorist. The show in Tallahassee will now happen May 17th.

Chris Young is on tour with Miranda Lambert, and is up for two ACM Awards - Male Vocalist of the Year and Single of the Year for his song, "Tomorrow." When he plays it live, he sees the power of that song: “It really has lived up to all the expectations I’ve had for it, and I think that is because it’s such a powerful song. There’s a lot of emotion in it, and I think a lot of people can relate to it.”

Keith Urban added two awards to his collection this weekend, but wasn't able to collect them. The Country Music Association of Australia named Keith the male Artist of the Year and he also took the award for Top Selling Album of the Year. He tweeted that he was thrilled and plans to head Down Under soon.

Rascal Flatts started filming a movie yesterday. Describing it as a "performance/documentary style" with more of their individual stories, Jay DeMarcus is pretty sure Flatt-heads are going to love it. No word on a release date yet.

Every year, Billboard Magazine comes out with a Power 100 list - a list of the most influential people in the music business. It's a list heavy on behind-the-scenes movers and shakers, but one country artist made this year's list. Taylor Swift lands at #78, just above Lady Gaga.

Danny Gokey is married. He and Leyicet Peralta were engaged last month, and said it would be a short engagement. It was - and at the reception after yesterday's service, the couple, their families and close friends dined on a cake that Danny described as "three tiers of chocolaty heaven."

The famous boards of the Ryman Auditorium stage will host their last country music show this week. The stage will be taken up and replaced with one that will carry three times the load, ensuring that the historic church-turned-concert-hall can continue as a venue for all kinds of music. The final show for the current stage is Friday and features Keith Urban, the Oak Ridge Boys and Charley Pride. Saturday morning, the old stage will be ripped out and it will be two weeks before the new stage is in place. But it won't be entirely new wood - the front 18 inches will be made of wood from the current stage, so artists can still kiss the revered stage. Yep, happens all the time!

The tweet of the day is from Martina McBride: "Home sweet home. Gorgeous sunny day. Just Dance 3 playing in the other room. Coffee in hand. Kisses from all my girls. #lifeisgood"

Friday, January 27, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

The nominees for the 47th Academy of Country Music Awards were announced yesterday, and Kenny Chesney is the leading solo nominee with 9 nods. Taylor Swift is the leading solo female nominee with recognition in 3 categories and Lady Antebellum is the leading group nominee with 5 nods. Jason Aldean has 6 nominations, Brad Paisley got 4, and Eli Young Band, Toby Keith and Grace Potter and The Nocturnals each received 3 nominations. Kenny Chesney is proud to have helped Grace get those nominations: “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 show will air Sunday April first on CBS and will be hosted by Reba McEntire & Blake Shelton. Here are the major category nominees - the entire list is on the ACM website.

Entertainer of the Year
Jason Aldean
Kenny Chesney
Brad Paisley
Blake Shelton
Taylor Swift

Female Vocalist of the Year
Sara Evans
Miranda Lambert
Martina McBride
Taylor Swift
Carrie Underwood

Male Vocalist of the Year
Jason Aldean
Kenny Chesney
Brad Paisley
Blake Shelton
Chris Young

Vocal Duo of the Year
Love and Theft
Montgomery Gentry
Steel Magnolia
Thompson Square
Vocal Group of the Year
The Band Perry
Eli Young Band
Lady Antebellum
Rascal Flatts
Zac Brown Band

Album of the Year
Chief – Eric Church
Four the Record – Miranda Lambert
Hemingway’s Whiskey – Kenny Chesney
My Kinda Party – Jason Aldean
Own the Night – Lady Antebellum

Song of the Year
“Crazy Girl” – Eli Young Band (Lee Brice, Liz Rose)
“Home” – Dierks Bentley (Brett Beavers, Dierks Bentley, Dan Wilson)
“Just a Kiss” – Lady Antebellum (Dallas Davidson, Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott)
“Threaten Me With Heaven” – Vince Gill (Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Dillon O'Brian, Will Owsley)
“You and Tequila” – Kenny Chesney feat. Grace Potter (Matraca Berg, Deana Carter)

Single Record of the Year
“Crazy Girl” – Eli Young Band
“Don’t You Wanna Stay” – Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson
“Red Solo Cup” – Toby Keith
“Tomorrow” – Chris Young
“You and Tequila” – Kenny Chesney feat. Grace Potter

Video of the Year
“Tattoos on This Town” – Jason Aldean
“Homeboy” – Eric Church
“Red Solo Cup” – Toby Keith
“Just a Kiss” – Lady Antebellum
“Mean” – Taylor Swift

Vocal Event of the Year
“Country Boy” – Aaron Lewis feat. George Jones & Charlie Daniels
“Don’t You Wanna Stay” – Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson
“Old Alabama” – Brad Paisley feat. Alabama
“Remind Me” – Brad Paisley duet with Carrie Underwood
“You and Tequila” – Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter

Songwriter of the Year
Rhett Akins
Dallas Davidson
Ben Hayslip
Luke Laird
David Lee Murphy
Keith Urban and Richard Marx celebrated their #1 collaboration, "Long Hot Summer," yesterday in Nashville. The two have written together before, but there was some friction, according to Keith. “We’d had an issue with each other. That’s all I’m gonna say. I learned a lot about the importance of friendship, and this guy was so incredibly gracious and good. And I wanted to really make it up to Richard. So, I said, ‘Please, I want to write together again. We should really do that.’ It wasn’t born of a quota to write a song, it was born of a want for us to reconnect.” Keith performs publicly for the first time since vocal fold surgery a week from tonight at the Grand Ole Opry.

It could be called the "Bluest Eyes" tour, but no one asked me! George Strait and Martina McBride hit the road for a winter tour tonight in Lafayette, Louisiana, and Martina is chomping at the bit to get out there - “We’re just so excited to be going out on the road again, ‘cause we’ve had some time off and really haven’t done a show in several weeks. I’m so excited about playing some new material, and it’s gonna be a lot of fun to be back out on stage.”

Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert are both taking their Moms on the road with them as they resume touring after the death of Blake's Dad. Wednesday night, Miranda got choked up trying to sing "The House That Built Me" on her first night back out and a fan captured the moment.

And on the heels of the loss of her Dad-in-law, Miranda Lambert has lost a friend she's known since childhood. Overnight, she tweeted, "I have lost a friend I've had since 3rd grade today in a tragic accident. When will this pain end. Please pray for peace."

Second time's a charm - Merle Haggard is home in California after leaving a Macon, Georgia hospital a second time this week. He's expected to take at least a month off from touring as he recovers from pneumonia, stomach ulcers and diverticulitis of the esophagus.

Glen Campbell will perform with Blake Shelton and The Band Perry on the Grammy Awards on February 12th. He's a 5-time Grammy winner and Blake and TBP are nominees this year. Other country artists scheduled to perform are Jason Aldean and Taylor Swift.

Dolly Parton is on the David Letterman Show tonight.

Happy birthday to Tracy Lawrence, who turns 44 today.

The tweet of the day is from Zac Brown Band: "Sometimes you dunk the ball. Sometimes the ball dunks you."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Congrats to Jay and Allison DeMarcus, who are expecting their second child. Daughter Madeline Leigh was born in December of 2010, and according to Jay, this new little bundle of joy was a huge surprise. Jay feels more prepared this time around, remembering, “There was one little piece of advice that was great. It was like, ‘you’re not gonna break ‘em.’ And you know, they're so little and fragile, you’re afraid you’re gonna hurt ‘em anytime you touch them. And you know, you gotta get in there and grab ‘em up—you can’t be scared of them is what I’m saying, and I’ve seen a lot of people that are scared!”

Charles Kelley is sporting a new appendage - a cast on his left hand. The Lady Antebellum singer broke a finger on vacation. How? “[Charles] This is actually...the Bahamas...I was just horsing around and I hit it on the side of a table. I’m an idiot. [Hillary] And, of course, the cast is like way bigger than the actual...it’s like a hairline fracture. [Charles] Yeah...yeah...I’m a baby. [laughs] I’m a dainty musician.” The trio's "Own the Night 2012 Tour" kicks off tomorrow night, so it's a good thing Dave Haywood is the piano player for the group!

Blake Shelton will play the pre-race concert for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race on May 19th at Charlotte Motor Speedway. According to Blake, “I cannot wait to help kick-off one of the biggest all-star events in pro sports, the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. We’re going to party!”

Miranda Lambert cites some interesting musical influences, including Faith Hill, especially when she stepped out and did something different: “I was lovin’ people that had something different, you know, that did something a little bit different. And, like, when Faith did the pop album...the Cry record...I just thought it was great. Her singing was cool and it was something different I’d never heard from little ‘ol country Faith Hill, you know?”

The Zebra Pen took a survey of 2,500 Americans, asking which celebrity they'd most like to receive a love note from. 45% of women said Keith Urban, putting him at the top of their list. 34% of men said pop singer Katy Perry, and in second place with 29% of the vote was Taylor Swift. Hope those people aren't holding their breath...

Carrie Underwood has a new single coming out in a few weeks. "Good Girl" is a song she co-wrote with Chris DeStefano and Ashley Gorley, and is the first single off her 4th album. Carrie calls it "pretty rockin'." Tomorrow night, catch her on the PBS special, Tony Bennett Duets II, featuring his duet with Carrie on "It Had to Be You."

The tweet of the day is from Rascal Flatts' Jay DeMarcus: "We should build a monument to SEAL team 6 right now!!! God bless you all...."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

The trial is over, and Garth Brooks won. A jury of his peers ruled that Integris Canadian Valley Regional Hospital in Yukon, Oklahoma misled Garth, making him believe that they would build a women's health center and name it for his late mom, Colleen Brooks. Garth donated half a million dollars in 2005, and the hospital has to return that money, plus another half million for breach of contract.

Charles Kelley was first, then Hillary Scott, and soon Dave Haywood will tie the knot with his girlfriend, meaning all of the members of Lady Antebellum will be married. Because they're all three planners, they've been discussing what will happen when couples become triples: “[Charles] It’s nice to kind of, all kind of be going through the same things and, you know, we’re gonna figure out, probably the next step when kids come what that’s gonna be. Maybe we stick ‘em in the bottom bays of the bus, you know, so you can hear when they cry. [Hillary] Make a really wicked nursery under there. [Charles] Yeah. [Hillary] No, we’re just kidding.” Their tour buses roll Friday, when their tour starts up again in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Keith Urban is getting ready to resume his life as a singer after vocal fold surgery in November. His latest song, "You Gonna Fly," is racing up the charts, but has people scratching their heads - what's the deal with the whistle? “I remember on one of the Guns ‘N Roses records, I think it was ‘Welcome To The Jungle,’ maybe before they went into one of the crazy sections you hear this whistle and I always thought that was such a quirky, cool thing to do. And so, I went out and bought a whistle! And put it on this song!”

Alan Jackson has this career thing all figured out: “I’ve always just tried to remember what it’s like to be a fan, and try to figure out songs that they might like more than songs that would be nominated for a Grammy or something, cause I think that’s what will make your career last a little bit longer is making music for the real people.” He's nearly done with his next album of fan favorites, but has caused a stir with his mustache-less look...

Billy Currington released his first solo music in 2003, but really hit country fan consciousness in Shania Twain's song and video, "Party for Two," in 2004. Finally, all these years later, he's about to embark on his first headlining tour, and he takes stage performing very seriously: “Always, before I walk on stage, I talk to the band. Is there anything I can do better? Or is the set list going good for everybody? ‘Cause, you know, that’s a lot of people there. They’re either gonna walk away saying you were great or you sucked.” On the tour with him are David Nail and Kip Moore. Details and tour stops will be announced soon.

Lionel Ritchie's country duets cd, "Tuskeegee," will finally be released on March 27th. It features duets with Willie Nelson, Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney and Shania Twain.

Well, The Hag tried to get away from the Macon hospital where he spent much of last week, but on the ride home to California, realized he wasn't up to the trip, turned around and headed back. He's again hospitalized in Macon, where he's getting a more aggressive treatment for his pneumonia, plus they're working on a plan to treat the stomach ulcers, esophageal diverticulitis and colon polyps they've also found. His concert calender has now been cleared through February 28th, when he's scheduled to be in Tuscon, Arizona. Merle Haggard had part of a lung removed several years ago while fighting lung cancer.

Kellie Pickler is on Good Morning America this morning.

The tweet of the day is from Miranda Lambert: "Back to work tomorrow. Well today I guess. Thanks u all for being amazing this past week. Bringin' mama with me to rock this weekend:)"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

After taking time off for funeral services for his dad, Blake Shelton's "Well Lit and Amplified" tour resumes this week with Justin Moore along for the ride. Justin is pretty sure the two will be fast friends by the end of the run, saying, “I think we’re both goofballs. We’re gonna get along great. Miranda has talked about how we’re both just, honestly idiots. And that’s pretty much true. We’re gonna have a lot of fun together. Hopefully, we don’t wake up every single morning with a headache. But, you know, I wouldn’t put that past the two of us.”

Trace Adkins is embarking on a very different kind of country tour: songs and stories in a theatre setting. So what's the tour called? Trace Adkins: Songs and Stories Tour. He'll sing his hits, of course, but he'll also tell stories of his working-man roots. “I’m one of those very fortunate people that my hobby turned into a career, but I was a realist all along and I knew that the odds were very long that I would be one of the fortunate people that got to do this for a living. So, I was prepared to work in an oil field for the rest of my life.” The tour was inspired by Trace's turn on CMT's Invitation Only.

Rascal Flatts will be honored with the Artist Humanitarian Award next month at Country Radio Seminar. The honor is based on their work with Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, a place near and dear to their hearts: “My niece, actually, she was born deaf and she got cochlear implants put in. But knowing that she had her surgery done in the Rascal Flatts surgery center, it’s mind blowing. And that’s such an honor to be able to give back and to do something so special to such a magical place with great people.” Over the last five years, they've raised over $3 million, and are working to open a neonatal center at the hospital.

Scotty McCreery has been accepted to East Carolina University, and is still waiting to hear from Middle Tennessee State, North Carolina State and Belmont before he decides where he'll go.

Congratulations to Luke Bryan, who has the #1 country song in America with "I Don't Want This Night to End." About his career trajectory, Luke says, “I look at the way it went down with Jason Aldean when he did ‘She’s Country’ and then—BAM—and then ‘Big Green Tractor’ where he just kept outdoing himself. So I just pray to God that I can keep doing that and keep upping the ante on songs.”

Taylor Swift has apparently become fascinated by the Kennedy clan in the last couple of years, reading dozens of books about them and even writing a song about them. Not sure if it'll ever be commercially available, but it's that song that earned her the invite to Sundance last weekend to accompany Rose Kennedy to the premier of her HBO biography.

New music out today includes Tim McGraw's "Emotional Traffic" and Kellie Pickler's "100 Proof."

Happy birthday to Ray Stevens, who is 73 today.

The tweet of the day is from Martina McBride: "Reading Stephen King for the 1st time in yrs. His book 11/22/63. Used to be obsessed. Took a break. Forgot how dark and brilliant he is!"

Monday, January 23, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Last night, Brad Paisley was the halftime entertainment during the Giants/49ers game in San Francisco. The rainy performance wasn't his only brush with football over the weekend - Saturday night in Denver, Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow joined Brad onstage, duetting with him on "I'm Still a Guy." Brad quipped that they probably wouldn't be nominated for Musical Duo of the year, but they had a great time together.

What are you doing on June 9th? You might want to be in Chicago, perched in a seat at Wrigley Field. Not baseball - two big country music shows will team up for a home run of a concert. Brad Paisley's Virtual Reality tour, featuring The Band Perry and Scotty McCreery will be joined by Miranda Lambert's On Fire Tour, with Jerrod Niemann. When Chris found out about the special date, he crowed, “So cool! I mean I think that show is going to be amazing. Obviously, combining those two tours basically that’s so many acts that people get to come see. I’ve gone out there and watched a game! So the fact that we get to get out there and play, I’m really looking forward to that!”

While Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney tour together this summer, they'll be looking for a song they can duet on. They haven't found it yet, but hope that before the end of the Brothers of the Sun tour, the perfect song will find them.

When you're a country star on tour, your bus is your house. You eat there, sleep there, and should feel safe there. Lee Brice found out over the weekend that when the tour bus attacks, it can be pretty scary. He and his band were racked out on the bus outside of Toby Keith's Bar and Grill in Mesa, Arizona, when the bus caught fire. Everyone made it out safely, and the firefighters kept the fire from spreading to the equipment trailer behind the bus. The bus is a complete loss, but clothes, luggage and musical equipment in the bus was saved. Check out this amateur video of the fire:

And while we're playing with videos, here's the latest episode of DBTV, the first annual Dierks Bentley "Feel That Fire" wing-eating contest. See how it all worked out...

Garth Brooks took the stand on Friday in his lawsuit against Canadian Valley Regional Hospital. He told the jury, "I thought this was one of the great gifts my mom was going to bring to Yukon, Oklahoma," talking about the women's center he donated half a million dollars towards. It was to have been named for her, according to Garth, but according to the hospital, Garth just gave them some cash to do with as they wished. The trial continues today and is expected to wrap up and go to the jury tomorrow.

Lady Antebellum is on top of the country charts with "Own the Night," and Charles Kelley says that the trio is so proud of the effort: “More than anything with this record, I think we’re more proud of the record as a whole, you know, I think we feel like we found our sound a little bit more. You know, just keep honing in on what kind of sound we want to represent.” Their tour kicks off Friday in Oklahoma.

Colt Ford sees his star rising, as he gets ready to release his next cd, "Declaration of Independence," on May first. According to Colt, “I just did a whole west coast run right before Christmas. I had, like, 20 shows out there, and I’ve never been on the west coast. I was excited, but I was really nervous. And then I got out there and it was sold out in Denver, and two shows at the Crystal Palace sold out, and California and Oregon.”

One day, Zac Brown, Wyatt Durette and James Otto sat down to write a song. That song is "No Hurry," and James is, in his words, "blown away and utterly humbled” that it is the next Zac Brown single.

The Hag is doing better. He was released from the hospital and traveled home to California to be checked out by his own doctors. All of his January shows have been rescheduled so he'll have plenty of time to recuperate.

Kellie Pickler's new cd, "100 Proof," is available tomorrow, and she'll make the chat show rounds this week. She'll perform on Good Morning America Wednesday and the Ellen DeGeneres Show on Friday.

The tweet of the day is from Lee Brice: "Appreciate y'all's concern about my bus catchin' on fire! We're very grateful that no one was hurt and that there wasn't too much damage."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Zac Brown Band get back out tonight after their holiday break, and Zac is excited by what he has planned for fans this year: “We’ve got a great year coming up for touring. There’s a lot of big milestones we met this last year with a lot of collaborations that we’ve gotten to do and this year there’s a whole new slate—so there will be new collaborations in our live show playing this new record. You know we’re gonna start playing this new record out live and getting it dialed in.”

Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan hit the road tonight, too, and Luke is happy with where his career is now. “I am so excited that 95% of my show will be hits that I’ve done, and I don’t have to throw some cheesy cover that I’ve been doing for ten years in the set, I can go out there and hit ‘em with my music.”

Rascal Flatts' seventh studio album has a drop date - April third. The cd is called "Changed" and their first single, "Banjo," is roaring up the charts. Since their debut in 2000, the guys have sold over 46 million units and had 13 #1 songs.

Taylor Swift will be at the Sundance Film Festival today, but in her mind, there'll be a bigger star there - 83-year-old Ethel Kennedy, widow of Robert F. Kennedy. Taylor is attending the screening of the HBO documentary, Ethel. She spent an afternoon with the mother of 11 and came away star-struck.

Jerrod Niemann's song "Lover Lover" was certified platinum for over a million downloads. How did he feel about that? “To have a Platinum single is mind blowing, because you do realize that you’re just the vehicle for the song, and that that many people, you know, have thought, ‘Man, I care about this enough to own it.’”

Looking for a sweet little Florida retreat? Alan Jackson is selling his Jupiter Island home for only $14.9 million. It's 8700 square feet, and the Jacksons have had it for over 10 years. If you'd like to take a virtual tour, here you go. Plan to spend some time - there are 190 images!

Nashville is about to get a new theme park, courtesy of Dolly Parton. She's teaming up with Gaylord Entertainment to produce a park with a split personality - a water park in the warm months and a snow park in the colder months. It's the first park in the country to sport a split personality, depending on the season. The announcement came on Dolly's 66th birthday and the park is due to open in the summer of 2014.

Happy birthday to John Michael Montgomery, who is 47 today, and to Teddy Gentry of Alabama, who turns 60 on Sunday.

The tweet of the day is from Blake Shelton: "There's one thing I've learned this week... The only thing that's stronger than a broken heart is opening your heart. I love you dad..."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Rascal Flatts is on the road with their Thaw-Out Tour 2012, they have a new album coming out in April, but they say until you've seen the summer tour, you ain't seen nothin'. “The summer tour...I wish we could tell you about it, but we can’t. But, it is gonna be...I don’t know if it’s ever been done in country music before, but it is gonna be a spectacular summer tour.” Guess we'll just have to stay tuned...

Miranda Lambert has re-scheduled some of her tour stops in order to be at services for her father-in-law, Dick Shelton. Blake's dad passed away Tuesday after a long illness, and in a statement, Miranda said, “Thank you to the fans for all the support and prayers. This is a really difficult time for our family and the most important thing is being together. Tell your loved ones you love them. See you next week.” The On Fire Tour resumes January 25th in Charlotte, North Carolina. Tickets to the cancelled shows will be honored at the new dates.

Rescheduled On Fire Tour Dates
Charlotte, NC – January 25th – 7:30PM
Greensboro, NC – February 19th – 7:30PM
Lexington, KY – February 26th – 7:30PM

Eric Church takes his career up a notch tonight. The Blood, Sweat and Beers tour is his first large-venue tour, hitting arenas all over America. His challenge? Eric explains, “The trick’s gonna be, still keepin’ it about the music and still keepin’ that, you know, what we do this for and the passion and trying to impart that on the crowd, but at the same time trying to make sure the people way back at the back of the arena in some of these places can feel the same energy as people down front. So, we’ve got some plans of how to do that. And I think a lot of it still comes down to how the people relate to the music as opposed to how many things I can blow up and set on fire.” He and Brantley Gilbert start things off in Fort Smith, Arkansas tonight.

Told you yesterday that Merle Haggard was in a Macon hospital, and it looks like he'll be there for a while. All of his January shows have been cancelled and he's still hospitalized, being treated for pneumonia. The 75-year-old icon is said to be resting comfortably, but they're going to keep him there a couple of more days, at least.

Is it the end for Steel Magnolia? In 2009, they won the CMT competition tv show, "Can You Duet," were signed to Big Machine Records, released an album early last year, got engaged, were chosen to tour with Reba, then Joshua went to rehab while Meghan stayed on the road, bringing James Otto along for the ride as her duet partner. They've had three hit records, but now they have no record label and no concerts scheduled. They parted ways with Big Machine this week, and there are rumors circling that they're no longer performing together. Their management company has no comment for the time being.

Lady Antebellum's "Own the Night" cd is spending it's 5th week in a row at #1 on the Billboard Country Album chart. In it's 18 weeks of release, it's been at #1 for 9 of them. According to Lady A's Hillary Scott, the trio took a risk or two with the music: “I feel like this is some of our most traditional. I mean, we took some risks on a couple of them. But, we took some risks, too, with production and just kind of thought outside of the box a little bit, but more than anything I think we just tried to write songs that we have lived. These are all a part of us, you know? These are our babies.”

Happy birthday to Dolly Parton, who is 66. Asked about what items she has on her bucket list, Dolly quipped, “I am the bucket! Every day I’m living my bucket list. I mean, I’m doing everything I want to do. I really enjoy my work. I get to travel around the world. I get to sightsee. It’s like paid vacation! So, I actually get to do every single thing I want to do. And, so if there is anything that I want to do, I’m sure I’ll get right after it!” I'm sure she will!

The tweet of the day is from Kellie Pickler: "Sending my love & prayers to our country music outlaw...get well soon Merle!! Xo"

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Don't tick Garth Brooks off - he can afford the best attorneys! He's suing an Oklahoma hospital over a half-million dollar donation he made in 2005. According to Garth, they promised to name a building after his late mom, Colleen. According to the hospital, the donation was "anonymous and unconditional." The trial begins this week.

Rumors are floating around that maybe Kenny Chesney is looking to change record labels and become more of a mainstream artist. According to Kenny's manager, the rumors are totally inaccurate. Meanwhile, Kenny is in the islands, recording in a beach-side studio.

It's a good thing to be Brad Paisley's opening act, despite the pranks. The Band Perry and Scotty McCreery are on the road with him now, and previous tour openers include Taylor Swift, Rodney Atkins and Jake Owen. About his warm-up acts, Brad says, “We’ve gotten really lucky with picking some really wonderful people to be out there on the road. And one of the things I’m proudest of is having had some hand in the beginning of some of these careers that are now on fire.”

Blake Shelton hit the stage last week, and at a stop in Missouri, he started singing "Let It Rain." The crowd ate it up, because that's David Nail's home state. Blake said to the crowd, "Wouldn't it be cool if he walked out right now?" As the crowd cheered, David came out and he and Blake duetted on "Let It Rain."

Condolences to Blake Shelton and his family. His dad, Dick Shelton, passed away Tuesday night, surrounded by his family. Blake is postponing several tour dates as his family makes arrangements. In a statement, Blake said, "I appreciate your understanding during this difficult time and thank you for all your prayers. Your support means the world to me. I love you guys." The Well Lit and Amplified tour will resume January 26th in Columbus, GA.

Rescheduled Dates:
Bismarck, ND - March 20th
Rapid City, SD - March 21st
Bozeman, MT - March 22nd
Billings, MT - March 23rd

Eric Church kicks off his "Blood, Sweat & Beers" tour tomorrow in Arkansas, and he has the #1 country song in America this week. Nice timing, and Eric says the song came from his fans: “We just walked off stage and saw the crowd...saw our fans, and saw them put their beers up in the air, and you could just tell that they’d worked all week and this was their moment to let all that wash away. And that’s where the title was born from, really. And that just became a really good song, born from our fans.”

Brantley Gilbert celebrated his first #1 song in Nashville yesterday. Joined by "Country Must Be Countrywide's" co-writers, Colt Ford and Mike Dekle, the Georgia native talked about the truth behind the lyrics: “Oh, anytime we tour up north or northwest, it takes you by surprise, you know? Before we toured, I didn’t go much farther than the beach on vacation, you know? So, I always thought northerners were city folks. Not the case at all! They’re just like us, they’ve just got a different accent.”

Merle Haggard logged some time in a hospital bed instead of on stage this week. He had to cancel shows in South Carolina and Macon, and ended up in the hospital in Macon. His manager said the 74-year-old singer has been sick since leaving home last week. He is expected to perform tomorrow night in Paducah, Kentucky.

John Rich's time on "Celebrity Apprentice" has boosted St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital to new heights of awareness. John's charity was St. Jude, and he raised $1.4 million for them, but the giving has continued since then. According to John, “The folks at St. Jude have told me there’s been a huge spike in people online signing up to become Partners in Hope, which is where, you know, somebody can donate $20 a month or $10 a month. They said there’s been thousands of people...have come on since Apprentice. I just couldn’t ask for anything more.” John was just given the first "Randy Owen Angels Among Us Award" from St. Jude in recognition of his work for them.

The tweet of the day is from Sarah Buxton: "@jakeowen prayers for a speedy recovery for you!! Movies and ice cream in the meantime..."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Keith Urban's "All For The Hall" benefit concert is back on - April 10th is the date, and tickets go on sale January 27th at 10am. For either $25 or $35, you'll see Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, The Band Perry, Alabama, Vince Gill, Little Big Town, Pistol Annies, Thompson Square, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Diamond Rio, Exile and Blue Sky Riders.

Lady Antebellum was just added to the CMA Music Festival concert line-up, and couldn't be more excited to be there. According to newlywed Hillary Scott, “The electricity every year for that is just...you can’t really beat it. I mean, it’s so much fun to be there and to have a stadium full of the most die-hard country fans you could ever imagine, from all over the world.” The festival happens in Nashville June 7th through 10th.

Hear Tim McGraw's "Emotional Traffic" album - the whole thing - before you can buy it. Curb Records and NPR have teamed up for NPR's "First Listen" series, so you can stream the whole thing now, before it hits stores next week.

Taylor Swift has landed on the cover of Vogue Magazine. Sporting a big hat and a little smile, she chats with the reporter about her life and new look. Be on the lookout for the feature - her issue should hit newsstands some time in February. In other Taylor news, she's the only country artist on the list of Top-Selling Digital Artists, according to Nielsen Soundscan. On the list of the most-downloaded artists of all time, Taylor checks in at #5 with nearly 42 million digital sales. She's behind Lady Gaga, Eminem, Black Eyed Peas and Rihanna, who tops the list with 47.5 digital sales.

Jake Owen has a date with an anesthesiologist today - and a surgeon. After breaking his collar bone last Friday, he goes in for some pins and a plate at 1:30 this afternoon.

Luke Bryan, heavy metal? Yep - his new song, "I Don't Want This Night to End," has just been certified gold, and his 2009 hit, "Do I," has just gone platinum. About his latest song, Luke explains: “The song is about a guy meeting a girl and kind of...them having this connection right off the bat, and getting lost with each other in the country and certainly, me being the singer, not wanting the night to come to an end, because when you feel like the night’s over, maybe this whole romance thing is over also.”

Kid Rock got himself into a bit of hot water last Friday in Detroit. He showed up to watch Travis Tritt in concert, and lit up a cigar in the smoke-free theatre. Some audience members complained, some left and Kid apologized, in typical Kid fashion: “My most sincere apologies to the patrons I may have offended, and a big middle finger in advance to all the haters and attorneys who will somehow try to find an easy paycheck in all this.”

Chris Young was on the Ellen DeGeneres Show yesterday, performing his new song, "You." He and Luke Laird co-wrote it, and Chris says it came together in an interesting way. “He actually started putting almost like a beat together. That’s really how we got the idea for the song is we wanted this kind of tempo groove that was a little bit different. And really when we went into to make the album—just the groove, not the melody, not the words, but—‘I’ll Take You There’ The old R&B songs. That was one of the easiest songs to do on the record start to finish.”

Happy birthday to Kid Rock, who turns 41 today.

The tweet of the day is from Jake Owen: "In the Dr. waiting on my sentence.. You know it's not good when he comes in and says "That break is worse than the football teams"

Monday, January 16, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Last night, Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman were two of the prettiest people at the Golden Globes Awards, where Nicole was a presenter. And he could be up for one himself next year, because he's co-written a song for the movie, "Act of Valor." Will we see Keith on the big screen any time soon? “I was actually in a theater group when I was a kid for about three years. We did quite a few stage productions, which was really my starting board for learning how to perform on stage. So, I’d love to do some of that down the track. I wouldn’t want it to interfere with my music.” So, maybe that's a "maybe, someday."

Tim McGraw has been a country star for two decades, and as he gets set to start his next 20 years with a new record label, he's reflecting on what's made his success possible. Is it his voice? His tenacity? His good looks? Nope - Tim says, “I’m very fortunate. I’ve been able to be around great people, great songwriters...great artists. I just...I’ve been able to put myself in a position to be surrounded by great people who have helped me guide my career in the direction I’ve always wanted it to go. That’s the beauty in anybody having a great career. It’s the people that are around you.”

Jake Owen is rough and tough, and ready to try anything. Which he did Friday, trying his hand at snow boarding in Colorado. He was doing great - right up to the point that he wiped out and broke his collar bone. He tweeted, after his visit to the hospital in Crested Butte, "Guess I charged this mountain a little too hard." It's not his first broken collar bone - he did it as a kid when he crashed a four-wheeler.

Hillary Scott has been named one of Cosmopolitan Magazine's "Fun Fearless Females" in the February issue, on newsstands now.

Make it three in a row for Jamey Johnson - he won his annual bet with Matthew McConaughey. The two wager $500 to the winner's favorite charity over the BCS Championship game. Jamey predicted Alabama would win, Matthew took LSU and Bama shut the Tigers out. Jamey donated his winnings to Gamblers Anonymous.

Congrats to Eric Church on "Drink in My Hand," the #1 country song in America this week.

Happy birthday to Ronnie Milsap, who is 69 today, Jim Stafford, who turns 68 and James Young of the Eli Young Band, who is 32.

The tweet of the day is from Jaron and the Long Road to Love, as he was watching the Golden Globes last night: "Is Jane Fonda recycled? How is she that hot?" If you want more where that came from, check out Jaron's Facebook page or Twitter feed. He was on a roll last night!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah star in "Joyful Noise," which opens today. Dolly plays G.G. Sparrow, a feisty blonde with a passion for singing and leading. Sound familiar? Dolly says it should: “The character is very similar to my own person. Todd Graff, who wrote the movie, he patterned it after my personality. So, he tailor-made it, but it’s still a different character. But, the movie is good, very uplifting...a lot of great gospel music. I got to write four of the songs.” In the movie, Dolly and Queen Latifah are rivals, but they got along famously while working on the movie.

Three weeks from today, Keith Urban hits the stage for his first performance since vocal chord surgery in November. He'll perform on the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium for the final winter performance of the year there. Tickets are available, if you want to be there.

Speaking of the Ryman, there was something of an event there last night. The hottest new act in Nashville, The Civil Wars, took the stage for a set, and brought along a very famous fan. Taylor Swift has been high on their music for over a year, tweeting about the duo fairly often, and even settling down to write songs with them a time or two. At one point in last night's show, they said they wanted to help a struggling performer, since they were struggling just a couple of years ago. They introduced "newcomer" Taylor Swift, who came out and sang "Safe & Sound" with them. The song will show up on the "Hunger Games" soundtrack.

And speaking of star collaborations, John Rich shot a video yesterday, and starring in the video with him are Willie Nelson, John Anderson and Merle Haggard.

More artists have been revealed for this summer's CMA Music Festival, June 7th through 10th in Nashville. Carrie Underwood, The Band Perry and Jason Aldean had already been announced, and yesterday it was revealed that Zac Brown Band, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Rascal Flatts, Brad Paisley, Faith Hill and Lady Antebellum will all do shows at LP Field during the festival. If you don't have tickets yet, get 'em through Ticketmaster.

Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson will perform at the Grammy Awards next month. Jason and Kelly will team up on "Don't You Wanna Stay," which is nominated. Jason loves to mix it up, saying “I love that. I love working with other artists. Like I was just saying over here, I grew up a fan of all different kinds of music, so you know I love doing that stuff, man. I’m always up for it. I think if the right song comes along, with the right artist, and it makes sense, I think it’s great.” He hits the road with Luke Bryan and Lauren Alaina on the 20th of this month.

Trace Adkins turns 50 today, a time of life when some people are still trying to figure out how to be authentic. Not Trace - he's always been true to himself, and always been one to say what's on his mind. “I’ve always found it easiest to live your life like that, you know? It’s a lot easier to have friends, because as soon as they figure out who you really are, you either see them a lot or you don’t ever see them again.” The dad of five girls is the reigning "Country's Sexiest Man" according to the readers of Country Weekly magazine.

Congrats to Toby Keith, whose "Red Solo Cup" has passed a million in sales.

And congrats to the Target in Rockford, IL, where Miranda Lambert dropped a grand in a shopping spree just before kicking off her tour last night.

Happy birthday to Trace Adkins, who turns 50 today.

The tweet of the day is from Brad Paisley: "Time to sleep. But a melody and a lyric keep ringing in my mind.'..and.. since... the Day I left Milwaukee...'"

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

At the Peoples Choice Awards last night, Taylor Swift racked up some more hardware, winning Favorite Country Artist. She was the only country artist to win anything this year.

There's a hot little rumor about a couple of other country artists - Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert singing "America the Beautiful" before Super Bowl 46. Kelly Clarkson is featured in the same rumor as the National Anthem singer. No official word has been released, but how fun will that be? The Super Bowl happens February 5th in Indianapolis.

Rascal Flatts tour fires up tonight in Charleston, West Virginia and they're fired up to share their new song, "Banjo," live from the stage. According to Joe Don Rooney, "It’s gonna be a great live song. I think everybody by the first chorus will get it, they’ll be singing along to it and it’s just, um...just fun stuff.” Sara Evans and Hunter Hayes are along for the Thaw Out 2012 Tour.

Miranda Lambert's On Fire Tour kicks off tonight, too, with Chris Young along for the ride. He's become good friends with Miranda and Blake Shelton over the past year, and is psyched about the opening slot: “It’s an amazing feeling, especially with her. I’ve got a good relationship — this year especially, I ended up hangin’ out with her and Blake a lot on the road and love…love both of them as people and as artists. So, the fact that, you know, she asked me and my band to go out with her and be a part of that tour is big, and it’s somethin’ I’m overwhelmingly looking forward to. It’s gonna be a blast.”

Congratulations to Jo Dee Messina and her hubby Chris Deffenbaugh on the birth of their second son, Jonah, Christopher Deffenbaugh. He was born yesterday, and Jo Dee said in a statement that everyone is fine and “God has blessed us so much.”

Scotty McCreery has decided to go to college in the fall. He says it might take him 50 years to graduate, but he's committed to getting an education. “I’m hoping to go right out of high school into college like a normal kid, you know? Hopefully, like, Belmont so I can study music while I’m doing this career, so I can learn more. I need to learn...I’m young, so I’ve got a lot to learn.” Other Belmont alumni include Brad Paisley, Trisha Yearwood, and Josh Turner.

Happy birthday to William Lee Golden of the Oak Ridge Boys, who is 73 today.

The tweet of the day is from Justin Moore: "On the bus bout to leave Nashville. Next stop, TOLEDO! First night of "well lit and amplified" tour with Blake shelton! Hello 2012!"

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Tonight, the People's Choice Awards will be handed out, and country music is well represented. If Taylor Swift was voting, and maybe she did, what would she choose as her favorite movie? “Bridesmaids!” Was there a movie she loved that wasn't nominated? "This movie that I just watched called, um...Happythankyoumoreplease. It is, like, my favorite ensemble romantic comedy movie since Love Actually. One of my favorite actresses is in it, Malin Akerman. She’s so good!” In the category of Favorite TV Competition Show, Blake Shelton is nominated for The Voice, and here are the rest of the country music nominees:

Favorite Country Artist
Blake Shelton
Keith Urban
Lady Antebellum
Rascal Flatts
Taylor Swift

Favorite Male Artist (all genre)
Blake Shelton
Bruno Mars
Enrique Iglesias
Justin Bieber
Favorite Female Artist (all genre)
Taylor Swift
Katy Perry
Lady Gaga
Favorite Tour Headliner (all genre)
Taylor Swift
Bon Jovi
Katy Perry
Favorite Album of the Year (all genre)
Lady Antebellum – Own the Night
Adele – 21
BeyoncĂ© – 4
Lady Gaga – Born This Way
Britney Spears – Femme Fatale

Let the irreverence begin - Blake Shelton and Reba are set to co-host the ACM Awards April first live from Las Vegas. The Fan Jam will happen again this year, with Zac Brown Band as the headliners.

Speaking of Blake Shelton, Cosmopolitan Magazine has named him one of their "Fun Fearless Males" of 2012. They asked him about his pet peeves, and in true Blake fashion, he didn't pull any punches: “I actually want to open-hand slap a man when I see him wearing his pants down below his a**. And maybe I’m just not on the cutting edge of fashion, but that really looks stupid. I just...I don’t want to see your underwear because you won’t pull your pants up where they go. That drives me crazy and it’s unacceptable.”

Keith Urban has written a song for the movie "Act of Valor." "For You" will play during the end credits, and it's the first time Keith's written a song specifically for a movie. He loved the challenge, so it probably won't be the last time. "Act of Valor" is a thriller set around a group of Navy Seals fighting global terrorism. The movie will be in theatres February 24th, and Keith's song will be on iTunes on February 21st.

Happy birthday to Naomi Judd, who turns 66.

Dolly Parton is on the David Letterman show tonight, and Rodney Atkins is on Jimmy Kimmel.

The tweet of the day is from Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts: "Contagion may be the worst movie of 2011... I want my 1 hour, 45 mins and 25 seconds back..."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Lady Antebellum's three members are really close friends, so of course Charles Kelly, the first of the three to marry, gave Hillary Scott some pre-wedding advice: “[Charles] My only advice—and I’ve told her and told them—I think the first year was getting to know you—it was definitely a learning experience. [Hillary sings] ‘Getting to know you…’ [Charles sings] ‘Getting to know you…’ It was just learning to compromise. I feel like after that it got easy. So just be patient, and love each other, [sings] ‘as hard as you can love each other…’ [Hillary laughs] ‘Oh gosh!’ [Charles sings] ‘Cause it’s all about compromise…’ [Hillary laughs] ‘Oh boy!’”

David Nail's record label was very patient with "Let It Rain," waiting nearly a year as it climbed the charts to this week's #1 position. David co-wrote the song with Jonathan Singleton, who also co-wrote "Red Light," which hit the top 10 in 2009. About the experience of writing "Let it Rain, David says, “It was really easy to write. You know, Jonathan is great. The groove was very unique, and I think we...I know I was definitely excited and probably a little more focused than normal.” Meanwhile, he tweeted, "Starting to sink in right about here!" along with this picture.

That's a break-up song, and at the other end of the love spectrum is The Band Perry's "All Your Life." That song is being embraced by couples everywhere, and according to Neil and Kimberly, helping put rings on fingers: “[Neil] We’ve played ‘All Your Life’ a lot of times and two times while we were playing it, two guys proposed to their girlfriends. And two ‘Yes’s,’ so we’re two-for-two. [Kimberly] Yeah, we’re keeping count, so... [Neil] I think it’s a good luck charm for lovers. [Kimberly] And we’ve gotten so many invites to come play at people’s wedding as well, which is a huge honor for us, that folks even want us to be a part of that day.” Check out a special acoustic version of the song...

At the end of February, a road trip might be in order. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo gets underway with Alabama, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum, Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, Zac Brown Band, Alan Jackson, The Band Perry, Eli Young Band, Luke Bryan, Reba, Kid Rock, Chris Young and other artists. Ticketmaster has the tickets - have fun!

The tweet of the day is from Blake Shelton: "Take no s*** my friends.... Everything is right about being yourself."

Monday, January 9, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

In a video announcement on the Lady Antebellum website, Chris Tyrell introduced the world to Hillary Scott Tyrell. They wed on Saturday at sunset in upstate New York in an intimate ceremony. The two met when Lady Antebellum and Love and Theft were touring with Tim McGraw. Chris was the drummer for Love and Theft. Hillary turned the details of the wedding over to a wedding planner, saying “That’s the beauty of getting a planner is you give them your ideas and you give them your vision and if it’s the right person, they can kind of take it and run with it and kinda turn it into what you want. And that’s what I said in the beginning, I was like, ‘This is your art, so I’m gonna let you do this because this is not my art. My art is to write songs and perform them and tour around, you know? So, I’m gonna let you do what you’re great at.’”

Miranda Lambert is making her acting debut on what she calls her favorite tv show ever - Law & Order: SVU. She'll play an actress who claims to have been sexually assaulted by a reality show producer. No air date has been set for Miranda's episode yet.

Miranda will appear on another show, too - hubby Blake Shelton's "The Voice." She'll mentor contestants, as will Kelly Clarkson, in upcoming episodes. Blake loves the process of doing the show, and loves the blind auditions best: "“That is so much fun, it’s ridiculous. I mean, to be given that kind of power, sitting in a chair like you’re the king of the world or whatever, and to be able to hit that button and ... and ... it really is a lot of fun. And as ego-y as it sounds, you feel like the king sittin’ there, you know what I mean? And you’re deciding ... ah, you know, who gets thrown into the alligator pit or not.”" The Voice premiers February 5th, right after the end of the Super Bowl.

Did you see Rascal Flatts sing the National Anthem before the Steelers/Broncos game yesterday afternoon? Turns out they did more than just sing while they were at the game - they played a little catch with Tim Tebow before the game. Tim said recently in an interview that Rascal Flatts is his favorite band. Might have helped his confidence a bit - after three losses in a row, Tim led the Broncos to a 29-23 win over the Steelers.

Turns out, country wildman Eric Church is a softie at heart. For Christmas, he bought his newborn son Boone McCoy Church a guitar. Why? “I wanted to buy a guitar that was from the year he was born. I mean as a guitar fan, you know, one of the things you always ask ... I mean, any guitar, you say, ‘What year is that?’ And I want it to be something I can put up and when the time came ... it’s a really nice guitar ... and when the time came, I wanted to tell him the significance of it.”

This year's Grammy Nominees album, an annual fund-raiser for the Grammy Foundation and MusicCares, will feature Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean and The Band Perry. The album is due out January 24th and the Grammys will be held on February 12th.

Congratulations to David Nail, who has a #1 song with "Let It Rain."

Eli Young Band is on the Tonight Show tonight.

Happy birthday to Crystal Gayle, who turns 61 today.

The tweet of the day is from Miranda Lambert: "“Yall I'm so freaking excited to be on my favorite show ever !!!”"

Friday, January 6, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

What was once Camobunga is now the Virtual Reality World Tour 2012. When Brad Paisley and his band started rehearsing on the actual stage set-up they'll be touring with, Brad realized that Camobunga didn't fit - not one dern bit! He's got high-tech visuals on the stage, and feels like he can't do without them: “That is such an important part, I just have to have that because it becomes a part of the show when you’re playing these places where people are a hundred something yards away from you at times.” The Virtual Reality World Tour kicks off next week, with The Band Perry and Scotty McCreery as the opening acts.

On the second of January, Lee Brice asked his girlfriend Sara Reeveley to marry him. They were on vacation in Key West, Florida, when he popped the question to the mother of his three-year old son Takoda. Sara said "yes," and the "More Than a Memory" songwriter and singer-songwriter of "Love Like Crazy" was both happy and relieved, saying, “You really do learn that women and men are just different. They’re different human beings. They’re totally...in every sort of way. And, when you tell, especially a woman, that you love them, love is not just the feeling. Of course, to them, it’s just the feeling I think. But, I’m telling you, it’s a choice, it’s an action.”

Tiny, trim Martina McBride discussed her health habits with OK! Magazine. Talking about food, she said that her diet is pretty good, despite a love of chocolate ice cream. About eating right, Martina said, “I think you should eat what you want. Everything in moderation.” Her New Year's resolution is to continue “making healthy choices about food, starting a workout program, saying no to that 2nd (ok, maybe 3rd) glass of wine, and trying to get more sleep.”

Jake Owen is beyond excited to be part of the Brothers of the Sun tour with Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney. He remembers being a teen and going to see the two of them when they toured in 2000, saying “That’s what I think about when I heard about this tour. It just blew my mind that I was a kid out there on an amphitheater lawn, just as a fan at the time—really didn’t know that I would do this for a living—I just was a fan of music and a fan of them. And I still am a fan of music and a huge fan of both of them.” The tour kicks off in June in Tampa, Florida.

Dierks Bentley's annual lake jump on New Year's Day had to be re-done for the cameras because the videographer, Ryan, didn't get the shot. Check out The Revenge on the Ryan that Dierks handed out...

Congratulations to Miranda Lambert, whose "Four the Record" has gone gold.

Happy birthday to bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs, who turns 88 today, and to Jett Williams, daugher of Hank Williams Sr., who is 59.

The tweet of the day is from Blake Shelton: "Hmmm...? Can't decide if I want to watch "The Antique Road Show" or headbutt a bowl of thumb tacks..."

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Keith Urban has been enjoying the holidays with his girls, not talking much and writing songs since his surgery for vocal polyps in late November. But he's finally got some gigs on his calendar, starting February 10th. He'll do a benefit concert at the Austin City Limits Moody Theatre, then play the San Antonio Rodeo and Stock Show the following night.

Taylor Swift has been offered the role of Eponine in the film adaptation of "Les Miserables," No word on whether The Golden One has accepted the role, but she does like to act: “I’ve had a blast acting in the things that I’ve gotten to do. Like, Valentine’s Day was so much fun. Oh, and I also got to be in CSI, which I’m, like, obsessed with. So, that was really fun.” Confirmed cast members include Huge Jackman, Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter.

Asked about the race for the White House that's heating up, Toby Keith, the singer of the current party-tune, "Red Solo Cup," gives a sober assessment of what's needed: “Do the most research you can. Get as much knowledge as you can and vote accordingly. It’s important that we get more business people running this place than lawyers or politicians. It’s in desperate need of a quality business mind running this place.”

Reba has been hand-picked by Oprah Winfrey to appear on the next season of Oprah's Master Class. Oprah chooses people who have had an impact on the world in a positive way, and Reba explains her philosophy like this: “You know, maturity brings confidence, and also not having to impress everybody. All my life, I wanted momma and daddy to be proud of me. I wanted to make everybody proud and not disappoint anybody. And, you get to a point in your life where like, you know, how about yourself? Are you happy? Just be happy, and go on and do what makes you happy.” Season two of Oprah's Master Class begins Sunday night at 10 Eastern on OWN.

Miranda Lambert has written a song she hopes will land on the soundtrack of the upcoming "Hunger Games" movie. But her goal for herself is more discipline in 2012: “You know, what I’m gonna try to do more is write by myself because it’s easier to just call a writer and be like, ‘Help me with this song!’ [Laughs] So I’m gonna try to keep writing by myself.”

Congratulations to Lady Antebellum, whose "Own the Night" cd is #1 on the Billboard Country chart and #4 on the all-genre Billboard Top 200. How do they feel about their success in the pop world? According to Charles Kelley, talking about their latest album, “It’s just brought such a newer, larger audience, you know? And, I just think you know, at the end of the day, I mean, it’s all just music. I mean, if you like it, come on and listen to it. We’re not big fans of splittin’ these things up into genres anyway. As you know, I mean, I think there’s a lot of great music out there, and if you like it, you know, give it a shot.”

The tweet of the day is from Danny Gokey: "Every moment you get is a gift. Spend it on things that matter. Don’t spend it by dwelling on unhappy things."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Dierks Bentley's next cd, "Home," is coming out on February 7th, and he says the new music feels fresh and represents some personal growth: “I mean, I’m always trying to be a better songwriter and trying to get in there and write songs that have more depth. At the same token, I love songs that are just fun, and when I’m driving around, I love jamming to. So, that aspect is represented on there as well.” Little Big Town's Karen Fairchild duets with him on one of the songs, and bluegrass legends Sam Bush and Tim O'Brien are also featured. And listen carefully to "Thinking of You," because Dierks says there's a "hidden special guest" on that track.

Rascal Flatts had a banner 2011, and are starting 2012 with a "Thaw Out" tour. Looking back on the year gone by, the trio are pleased with their accomplishments: “We started off the year with our own network special, which was thrilling, and there are very few acts that can say they've had their own television network special. We had a video with Justin Bieber, a song, a duet with him. So a lot of things that were milestones in our career - members of the Grand Ole Opry and so many of the goals that we had set for ourselves years ago had finally come true.”

Martina McBride is looking forward to touring with George Strait again, and the part she likes best is just spending time with him: “I don't know if he still does this but when we toured together before, there was a tent every night. You could go and hang out with him if you wanted to. He kind of likes to hang out, which I was surprised, and I took advantage of that. You know I'm thinking if I get to hang out with George Strait, I'm gonna do that. So, we’ve always just had a cool connection. I don’t know, I just really think he’s awesome.” The tour kicks off January 27th.

Justin Moore and Darius Rucker made a bet on a football game, and Darius lost the bet. Justin has plans - big plans - for Darius to pay off. He wants to do a concert in his home town of Poyen, Arkansas, and knows just the guy to bring in the bucks for St. Jude: “We’ve been trying to find a date for it, we’re gonna do that, and Darius owes me a bet. We bet on the South Carolina-Arkansas game last year, and he lost it. So, he’s gotta come do a charity event for free for me...F-R-E-E, free.”

Happy birthday to Deana Carter, who is 46 today, and to Patty Loveless, who turns 55.

The tweet of the day is from Sarah Buxton: "My 96 year old grandpa skyped me tonight & I recorded the stories he told me about his life. I can't believe I never thought to do that."

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

It'll finally be out January 24th - the last cd Tim McGraw produced for Curb Records. "Emotional Traffic" features "Felt Good On My Lips" and his newest song, "Better Than I Used to Be," and Curb plans to release two more songs to iTunes before the release date. On the cd is a song that Tim co-wrote with Martina McBride and The Warren Brothers, "I Will Not Fall Down." No word on whether that will be one of the early releases to iTunes.

Brad Paisley released a book last year, co-written with David Wild. But does that make him an author? “You can’t call me an author; I’m not an author. I am a guitar player. And I happen to have a book about that, but that doesn’t make you an author. That makes David Wild an author. It makes him a miracle worker that he was able to put my feet to the fire and get me to actually finish this thing. I’m still just a guitar player at heart.”

The Band Perry are getting set to go on tour with Brad Paisley, who's "Camobunga" tour kicks off January 12th. Pranks are a routine event on Brad's tours, but will The Band Perry prank him? Kimberly chimes in, “You know, we’re all kinda chickens. I mean, I don’t feel like any of us really live on the edge. We try to be in bed by midnight and wake up at seven [laughs]. But, if any of us would be, it’d be Reid. Even by nature, he’s like a horseman, you know? He’s just a little more gutsy I would say than the other two of us.”

Lady Antebellum had a hot year in 2011, and they're poised for even more success, if that's possible, in 2012. According to Hillary Scott, the trio has a different yardstick to measure their success: “You can’t measure success based on just how many records it sells or how many awards you win. Like, that’s a part of it, but more than anything we have to be happy and proud of what we’re doing and feel like we’re being honest and authentic, because we are. And, if that’s embraced, if people see that, then we’re on the right track.”

Carrie Underwood got a special gift for Christmas from hubby Mike - a painting of a bull. They were in a gallery in Nashville and Carrie fell in love with it, so Mike went back later and bought it for her. The bull's name is "Harry" and here is Carrie's Harry...

Kenny Chesney spent a large part of 2011 in stadiums, and like most of us, picked up souvenirs. His souvenirs are a bit more special, though: “I’ve got a lot of friends that play sports now and, trust me, after ‘Boys of Fall’ came out, all those guys came to the show. I mean, it was unbelievable. So, I got so many signed helmets from people that I look up to, and sports have always been a big part of my life.”

The tweet of the day is from Martina McBride: "Been staying up too late and sleeping too late. So ready to get back on a real schedule. Girls go back to school Wednesday #thankGod"