Friday, March 30, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Reba and Blake love working together, especially on the ACM Awards Show. They’re getting ready to co-host the show again Sunday night on CBS, and Reba says Blake is a good influence on her: “For me, when I get around Blake it just seems to come out a little bit more. There’s not as many guarded gates that come up – it’s all what you see is what you get. And that’s what I’ve learned being around Blake. He is such a lovable creature – he’s adorable and everybody loves him.”

Taylor Swift is the only female nominee in the Entertainer of the Year category. She won that award last year, but knows that with Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley and Kenny Chesney nominated with her, she’s not a shoe-in. Taylor’s keeping it in perspective, though: “To be recognized for that is such an amazing thing, because not only did you then get to go out and travel the world and play these giant shows, and get the love back from the fans, but then you get nominated for an award for it. It’s kind of wonderful!”

We’re hearing more about the performances we can expect Sunday night: Toby Keith will duet with a surprise guest on “Red Solo Cup,” Rascal Flatts and Steve Martin will shake up “Banjo,” and Blake Shelton, Lionel Richie, Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw will team up for “You Are.”

Jason Aldean is second only to Kenny Chesney in number of nominations at the ACMs. Kenny’s up for 9 awards and Jason’s up for 6. What does that feel like? “It’s a good feeling. It makes you excited, and makes you excited to want to go to the show – and look forward to it. It’s a completely different experience when you’re heading out to Vegas and you know you’re up for that many awards.”

Brad Paisley has endowed a scholarship at Belmont University. He says he wouldn’t be where he is now without Belmont, so is providing financial assistance for students in need. The Brad Paisley Endowed Scholarship offers help for students studying in the Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business. When Brad was enrolled there, he was helped by a scholarship funded by Vince Gill.

Kenny Chesney is nearly finished with “Welcome to the Fishbowl,” his next cd. It’ll be out June 19th, and Kenny says the title came from a real-life experience at a beach bar in Florida. He was mobbed by fans wanting autographs, and when the frenzy finally settled down, a man said, “I didn’t realize your life was like this.” “Welcome to the fishbowl,” Kenny replied, and an album title was born.

Willie Nelson says he and Barbara Streisand are just looking for the right song to sing together. Will it be on his upcoming album? “Heroes” is due out May 15th, so he and Babs better get to singing!

Get well wishes to George Jones. The Possum was admitted to a Nashville hospital yesterday for an upper respiratory infection.

Alan Jackson will be on the Tonight Show tonight.

The tweet of the day is from Carrie Underwood: “Helloooooo Las Vegas! It's good to be back! Got my dresses and I'm ready to get my #ACM on!”

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Nashville will be a ghost town this weekend - yet more further performers have been added to the lineup for the ACM Awards show, airing live from Las Vegas Sunday night at 8 Eastern on CBS. Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley are the newest names on the roster, joining Miranda Lambert, Toby Keith, Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Kenny Chesney, Sara Evans, The Band Perry, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, Chris Young and Rascal Flatts. That's 19 performers scheduled for a three-hour show, not counting cutaways to the Fan Jam stage for at least four from there. Wow...when will they hand out awards?

Zac Brown Band will play a big role in Sunday night's ACM show - they're the band that plays the Fan Jam concert while the awards are handed out. Zac says, "We get to participate in the ACMs, but across town. So we get to do our thing, and get to play for all the fans and lay it on ‘em! So we are very excited about being in Vegas for the ACMs.” The televised show will cut to Zac's show several times throughout the evening and the Best New Artist performances will happen on the Fan Jam stage, with Brantley Gilbert, Scotty McCreery and Hunter Hayes making their play for a few final fan votes.

Rascal Flatts are heading to Vegas, then will go out on a media blitz in support of their new album, "Changed," coming out next Tuesday. They would love to win an award, but take a bigger view of this weekend in Vegas: “You know, it’s like country is taking over the west coast for a few days. It’s a blast, it’s a different environment, different setting. We look forward to it every year and we’ve been blessed enough to be honored again this year with a nomination, so we will see how it turns out.”

The ACM Album of the Year category is populated with some heavy-hitters. Kenny Chesney's "Hemingway's Whiskey," Jason Aldean's "My Kinda Party," Eric Church's "Chief," Miranda Lambert's "Four The Record" and Lady Antebellum's "Own the Night" are all vying for the coveted award, and Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott explains the appeal of their effort: “A lot of these songs are about very specific moments in time. It’s not just an overall emotion or an overall feeling that’s portrayed in a song. It’s just very specific. Moments throughout your life end up defining who you are.” Meanwhile, Miranda Lambert is trying to be philosophical about her chances: “I am so thrilled. I am so excited. I’ve got some stiff competition I’m not really happy about, but I am really happy to be in the category.”

Scotty McCreery is pumped to be in Vegas for the fun this weekend, and can't believe he'll be part of it. “I’m still the fan, I’m still wanting to be there and so you better believe when I’m there at the ACM’s I’ll be watching everybody’s performance. You’ll probably catch me on camera with my jaw on the floor. It’s just incredible to be around so great talent, and such great people in this industry.”

Country music has lost a legend. Earl Scruggs, banjo pioneer and Country Music Hall of Famer passed away yesterday. Earl popularized the three-finger-picking style of banjo playing that defines that instrument in country music. He was 88.

Happy birthday to Brady Seals, who turns 43 today.

The tweet of the day is from Brad Paisley: "Rest in peace Earl Scruggs. Thanks for being one of our musical Thomas Edisons."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Sunday night's ACM Awards will include something that hasn't happened before - a televised wedding. As Martina McBride and Pat Monahan of the rock group Train duet on "Marry Me," Christina Davidson and Frank Tucci will be saying their vows. The couple met in 2009 at a support group for young widows and widowers, and love grew from there. They were chosen by Martina to win a pretty amazing wedding package, including the high-profile ceremony.

Country stars are spending some time this week with their wardrobe assistants, getting their look just right for the red carpet and the award show. Reba, co-hosting again with Blake Shelton, says she's ready: “You know, honestly after 14 years of doing this, Terry Gordon and I are getting it down to a science and we already have our clothes ready. They’re ready! This is the first time we’ve been this prepared. It just worked out! So, we’re really tickled.”

Blake Shelton is up for Entertainer of the Year, and in typical Blake form, he's low-key about his chances: “I’m not going to sit here and be like other artists that’ll say, ‘’s just ya know.’ I’m pumped about it – it’s cool. I don’t know what my chances are of winning it, but I don’t hope somebody else wins it I’ll tell you that.” Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean and Kenny Chesney are Blake's competition for EOY. Fan voting is continuing, if you want to cast your ballot for your favorite.

Kenny Chesney is also up for Album of the Year for "Hemingway's Whisky." He opened up about the project, saying, “There is a big part of me that really wants to be on stage and never do a ballad ever. But, there’s also a part of me that wants to write a record like Be As You Are and Lucky Old Sun because that’s how I live a lot of my life, so I think with this album...with Hemingway’s Whiskey, I have kind of combined a little bit of those two worlds.”

Vocal Duo nominees Montgomery Gentry have been a duo for a long time, and attribute their success to that fact: “I think it’s just our chemistry we were friends before we became business partners. We grew up playing music together – horseback riding, motorcycle riding, hanging out in the bar, shooting pool – we were just buddies. I think that chemistry is what kept us together for so many years.”

Jason Aldean is breaking venue attendance records on his tour stops, and he is pretty humble about why: “I think the biggest thing right now is trying to keep ticket prices at a price that it’s not ridiculous for people to spend. I mean, a couple and their kids go to a show, they don’t want to spend $500 to go see a show. I wouldn’t go see Elvis for $500…we’re not that good, know what I mean?!” He's 18 for 18 on show sell-outs on his tour so far this year - I'd say maybe they are that good!

Taylor Swift will be honored with The Big Help Award during the Nicklodeon Awards this Saturday night. First Lady Michelle Obama will be on hand to give the award to Taylor, recognizing her for modeling philanthropic behavior to her fans and encouraging them to help in times of need. In other Taylor news, she's expected to make around half a million dollars for the two songs she wrote for "The Hunger Games" soundtrack album.

Dierks Bentley's beloved Chevy pick-up, "Big White," may have seen its last mile. Dierks tweeted a photo of the well-worn truck on the side of the road, with the message, "Man down! Big White finally hit a wall today. Lonesome." No word on whether the truck that brought him to Nashville will be repaired.

Happy birthday to Reba, who turns 57 today. Rodney Atkins is celebrating his 43rd birthday.

The tweet of the day is from Neal McCoy: "I'm so sober, I just walked into a Liquor store and shouted- Do I look like Blake Shelton to you? Where's your Bacardi?"

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Blake Shelton and Adam Levine have decided to raise money for charity in an innovative way - they've set up a curse jar on the set of "The Voice." Adam confesses to cursing a lot during taping of the show, so he set up the curse jar. Blake decided to play along, so any time either of them lets fly with a bad word, they put $100 in the jar. No word on which charity will get the windfall.

"Tuskeegee" is out today. It's the duets projet Lionel Richie has been working on for the last couple of years. He loved working with country acts, and they loved working with him. According to Blake Shelton, who sings with Lionel on "You Are," “He came over and introduced himself and thanked me 50 times for being there and I felt ridiculous, you know, with him thanking me!” About his country collaborators Lionel says, “I have never laughed that much since the days of recording with the Commodores in a recording studio. You would figure it would be a lot of pressure...not at all. I mean, Tim McGraw was hilarious, you know, along with Kenny Chesney...along with...all of them.”

Carrie Underwood's new album, "Blown Away," is out May first, and she's written or co-written half of the songs on it. Why not all of them? “My stuff is basically submitted like everybody else’s and I do my best to be objective. I mean, I’ll be the first one to listen to one of my songs and be like, ‘Nah! It’s not good. I don’t like it. Next!’ And I feel like I can be pretty hard on myself, as well as everybody else, because we just want the best stuff.”

In other Carrie news, she's performing at the Grand Ole Opry tonight. “The Opry is just a great place to go and be yourself and sing. Obviously since I have a new song, I’ll probably be doing that because it’s fun to have new material. I don’t get tired of the songs that I sing, but I just feel like I see so many familiar faces in the audience every single time and it’s really nice to have new stuff to do for them – as well as for me.”

Steel Magnolia, who broke up at the end of last year, are officially back together, at least where making music is concerned. Joshua Jones reveals, “We’ve been through a lot this year and we’re making a record right now, so we’re looking forward to the future and kind of showing a new side of us too and digging in deep on this next record.” They're up for Vocal Duo at Sunday night's ACM Awards.

Thursday night's American Idol results show will be a little bit country. Scotty McCreery will perform his new single, "Water Tower Town," and contestants will perform songs by their musical heroes. Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert are a couple of country artists who's songs could get the Idol treatment Thursday.

Martina fans, head up - she'll make an "important announcement" today.

There are two major country music charts: Billboard and Country Aircheck, and they usually agree about the #1 country song each week. Not this week. On Country Aircheck this week, Taylor Swift has the #1 country song in America with "Ours," while the Billboard chart lists Jake Owen's "Alone With You" at the top.

If you missed out on it the first time around, pick it up today - Alan Jackson has re-released "Precious Memories," a gospel album he originally produced for his mom. According to Alan, “We just had so many people still wanting it, it’s just amazing – that thing has sold and sold. I still want to do another one, my momma she’s getting pretty elderly now and doesn’t get out much, but I’d really like to do another version of that for her.” He has another album due out later this year which will include his new song, "So You Don't Have to Love Me Anymore" and another Zac Brown Band collaboration.

Lionel Richie and Little Big Town are on the Today show this morning. Sugarland performs twice on Dancing With the Stars tonight, and Lionel Richie and Jason Aldean visit with David Letterman.

The tweet of the day is from Joe Nichols: "A message to Tim Tebow..... The 'high road' is a lonely place..... But it's an awesome view..."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

It's a big week for Kenny Chesney - his 44th birthday is today and Sunday night, he's up for nine ACM Awards. He'll probably cap off his birthday week by winning at least a couple of categories. Kenny's outlook? “I think one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned from my mom is no matter what life throws at you, is just to take a step back, take a deep breath, and just take life as it comes. She loves life, and I thank God that I got my love of life from her.”

The Eli Young Band turned a career corner in 2011 with the song "Crazy Girl." They're nominated for Group of the Year and Song of the Year this Sunday night at the ACM Awards, and are humbled by the company they're keeping: “That song has absolutely changed our lives. And the fact that we’re included in Group of the Year, I mean, everyone on that list has had not only a huge year, but huge careers.” In the Group of the Year category with EYB are Rascal Flatts, Zac Brown Band, The Band Perry and Lady Antebellum.

Brantley Gilbert is feeling pretty confident going into Sunday night. He's nominated in the fan-voted New Artist category and says, “Well, I always say we don’t have fans, we have friends. I think a friend is somebody that supports you, #1...and these people are paying money to get CDs and to get into shows and, you know, to support me. So, that and, you know, trust...I can trust that they’re gonna be there.”

Hunter Hayes is eagerly anticipating Sunday night's ACM Award show. He's a first-time nominee and is psyched:“It’s like my Super Bowl. It’s like we gather around as a family, we shut off the phones, we don’t pay attention to anything but the awards show. I mean, it’s that moment when all my favorites come out on TV. It’s my chance to see everybody, and now of course getting to go—totally different ballgame. And way cooler I might add!”

Dr. Seuss didn't write "The Lorax 2" but Hollywood is apparently going to try to make the movie, anyway. According to scuttlebutt, Taylor Swift will be part of the sequel, if there is one.

In other Taylor news, two men are under arrest for pretending to represent Taylor Swift. They duped a California investor out of nearly a quarter-million dollars, promising to deliver a Taylor Swift concert in Arizona. The two have no connection to Taylor and could spend 15 years in jail if convicted of grand larceny and forgery.

Jake Owen is on The Tonight Show tonight.

The tweet of the day is from Jake Owen: "Landed in LA. Flight attendant gave me 16 bottles of Jack D minis because I signed a photo for her. I think I made out like a bandit."

Friday, March 23, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Carrie Underwood will perform her new song, "Good Girl," at the ACM Awards on April first, and she's psyched: “Being in Vegas is always a lot of fun and I’m glad to finally get to perform ‘Good Girl’ in a big situation. It’s gonna be really good. We’re having something made for the performance and it’ll be pretty rockin’.” Also added to the lineup are Keith Urban and Sara Evans.

The night before the ACM Awards, stars line up to put on a free show for military families at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. Craig Morgan is part of this annual event and says, “It is going to be awesome! There will be vendors – all kinds of stuff. Saturday night there will be a concert featuring lots of artists and myself. It will be a bit of a military tribute show.”

The artist "please vote for me" videos wars have begun, with Blake Shelton taking a straight-ahead road looking for your votes for Entertainer of the Year.

Kix Brooks is having to take two weeks off the road for what he describes as "banged up vocal chords." Shows in Jacksonville and Las Vegas will be re-scheduled.

The guys from Rascal Flatts are in the studio, working on the soundtrack to Saving Santa.

Martina McBride is a real hands-on mom, in addition to being a very successful country star. What if her daughters wanted to follow in her footsteps? Martina feels that they've got a good understanding of the whole music business: “It can be a great life, obviously. And I think having grown up around it they understand the awesome parts of it and then there’s parts of it, you know, it’s hard work and there’s a lot of rejection and I think that they would have a realistic expectation of what it takes.”

Billy Currington's first headlining tour kicks off tonight in Dothon, Alabama, and he's taking David Nail and singer/songwriter Kip Moore on the road with him. Kip's excited about the opportunity: “There will be some wild times to be had, I can promise you that, and it’s gonna be a blast to play for packed houses every night, and the chance to really get in front of an audience that’s itching to hear some good music.”

Time Magazine has declared Dolly Parton has one of the 140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2012. The article says, “When a legacy this great tweets, we listen. Because she’s Dolly, but mostly, because she’s usually right.” Follow Dolly on Twitter - @Dolly_Parton.

The tweet of the day is from Jerrod Niemann: "Well, I just sat up, that's a step in the right direction."

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

A few of the ACM Awards were already announced. There are major awards that won't be televised, so the ACM lets the cat out of the bag a bit early. Vince Gill was given the Career Achievement Award, Kenny Chesney won the Crystal Milestone Award, and Alan Jackson was honored with the Jim Reeves International Award. Alan says that being true to his kind of country helped him earn the award: “I’m just lucky to still be here I think and be able to make the kind of music I like to make – still go out there and sell a few tickets and enjoy it. The music is still what I like and being able to create a song that affects people.” They'll all be feted on September 24th in Nashville at the 6th Annual ACM Honors.

Chris Young was bowled over by one of his ACM nominations. Single of the Year didn't shock him, but Male Vocalist of the Year sure did: “That one kind of surprised me. I wasn’t expecting that this year at least. You know, obviously you always hope to get nominated in all the categories, but that’s a really big one. To be nominated, to be in that category is huge.” He's up against Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean and Kenny Chesney. The winner will be announced April first on CBS.

Carrie Underwood has discovered Twitter. Thanks to hubby Mike Fisher, who long ago realized it was a great way to connect with his fans, Carrie is now a convert, with over 140,000 followers already. She explains, “I’ve always I guess been intrigued by it but I’ve always been scared of it as well. I think it’s important that I – I don’t know you see people get themselves in trouble so. We definitely use it as a tool to let people be able to know what I’m up to.” Find her @carrieunderwood

Neal McCoy's new album, Twelve, is in stores. It was produced by Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, but Neal says it was an uphill battle to get Blake to take on the project. According to Neal, “He cussed me out a couple of times on text when I asked him, ‘would you be interested in producing an album on me?’ Well, he just texted me back a bunch of cuss words. So I texted him back, and he texted me back a bunch of cuss words. So I finally called him and said, ‘I don’t know what kind of answer this is you’re giving me.’ And then he said, ‘You’re not serious…’ And I said, ‘No, I’m serious!’”

If you run into Blake Shelton and Adam Levine, don't ask them about their "bromance." Adam says he'd like to kill that term, and Blake jokes that he'd like to make out with Adam. It's no secret that all of The Voice coaches enjoy each other's company, hanging out in each other's LA houses when filming of the show ends each day.

BamaJam is getting bigger. Already announced are Zac Brown Band, Alan Jackson and Kid Rock. Added to that list are Willie Nelson, Uncle Kracker and Needtobreathe, the group that opened for Taylor Swift last year. BamaJam 2012 is June 14-16 in Enterprise, Alabama, and tickets are available now.

Don Williams is readying a new album, the first new one in eight years. He's lined up some heavy hitters to help him on the project: Keith Urban, Vince Gill and Alison Krauss will pitch in on "And So It Goes" which will be out this summer.

Luke Bryan's "Tailgates and Tanlines" is back on top of the charts, due in part to his new single, "Drunk on You." About the song, Luke says, “It’s a deeper deal too than just a party. I mean, I think what’s important to be able to do those fun songs but then to hit fans with a big thought song that really gets ‘em.”

Road trip alert - Collin Raye is shooting a live concert DVD this Saturday night at the Marina Civic Center in Panama City, Florida.

One of Miranda Lambert's critters has gone missing from Miranda's Oklahoma property. Her name is Virginia, and Miranda says she misses her a lot. There's a reward for her return.

The tweet of the day is from Miranda Lambert: "Goodnight from me and the 3 dogs in my bed. And no, Blake isn't one of em. :)"

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Lady Antebellum will do a mini-tour of Great Britain this summer, and there's a high demand for tickets - so high that they've had to move to larger venues. According to Charles Kelley, “The U.K. has been one of those places that has been kind of the biggest responders to our music from a global perspective, so it’s been kind of cool.” The largest show they'll do is the 2012 Hard Rock Calling Music Festival, where they'll open for Bruce Springsteen. According to Charles, “there is no entertainer we look up to more than him.”

How do you win a free concert from Lady Antebellum? You tug on their heart-strings. They offered a free prom concert as the prize in a video contest, and Henryville High School in tornado-ravaged Henryville, Indiana won. But Lady A is upping the ante, playing a much bigger event on May 16th as a fund-raiser for the families who lost so much. Check out what it takes to win Lady A:

She was eliminated from Blake Shelton's team during Monday night's battle rounds on The Voice, but Gwen Sebastian has hit the jackpot. She'll open for Blake on six of his tour stops this year, and will also sing with him live on the ACM Award show April first. Blake enjoys the role of mentor, saying “Have fun and try to win them over, ya know. Those are the scariest and the most memorable times of what they’ll do I think are these first couple of years.” Blake co-hosts the ACM show with Reba again this year.

Taylor Swift is cool, calm and collected as we get closer to the ACM Awards on April first. Maybe it's because she's made so many acceptance speeches already, maybe it's because she already has her date lined up - high school senior Kevin McGuire, who's battling cancer - or maybe it's just that the ACM Awards have a special vibe around them: “I really like it because I always seem to be really relaxed and having a lot of fun at that awards show and that is saying a lot! Because to me, awards shows are very, intensely stressful, but at that one, I always seem to kind of be able to be like, ‘Alright…this is fun.’”

Toby Keith is hitting the road this summer with the Live in Overdrive Tour, kicking off June 14th in Utah.

Lionel Richie's country duets project, "Tuskeegee," comes out next Tuesday, and it features most of Nashville's top tier of country stars. Rascal Flatts is on it, working out "Dancing on the Ceiling" with Lionel, and according to the guys, the song choice was a no-brainer: “Our first five, six years together we all three rode on the same bus. And we would get back after the show, and you know you’re still pumped up and you’ve got all this adrenaline going, and one of the songs we’d play in our playlist was ‘Dancing on the Ceiling.’”

The tweet of the day is from Blake Shelton: "I'm so drunk right now I just dialed 911 and shouted "Help!!!! How can the judges on Chopped eat so much?!!!!""

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Fan voting is open for two of the ACM Awards. The fan voted awards are Entertainer of the Year and New Artist of the Year. In the running for EOY are Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton and Taylor Swift. Up for New Artist of the Year are Hunter Hayes, Brantley Gilbert and Scotty McCreery, and you can vote for your favorite in each category right up to the beginning of the show.

George Strait continues to raise the bar for the rest of country music. With "Love's Gonna Make it Alright" he has a second #1 song from the album, "Here for a Good Time," and has now racked up 59 #1 songs in a career spanning 31 years. What's his secret for success? “You know I’ve always thought that, whether I’m writing or not, you know, I’ve gotta pick the best songs. I’m not just gonna sing them because I wrote them. You know—I’ve gotta find the best songs to make the best record I can make.” His first charted single was "Unwound" in 1981 and his first #1 song was "Fool Hearted Memory" in 1982.

Jason Aldean knows how to treat his fans. Four Nashville fans drove to Illinois and camped out at the Civic Center box office, waiting to buy tickets for his May 10th concert. When Jason found out about it, he had some pizzas delivered to them. The camping paid off, too - the fans are in the front row for the show.

There's been football fever in Tennessee, and the stars aren't immune. Martina McBride offered Peyton a record deal and some free voice lessons. The Grand Ole Opry offered Peyton an open invitation to perform on the Opry, plus a VIP parking space. Carrie Underwood was hoping that Peyton would choose Tennessee, but now that it looks like Denver will be his town, Carrie said: "I like Tebow! I mean, obviously it was Manning fever for a couple days around here. But yeah, I just really want the Titans to be all that they can be!"

Speaking of Carrie Underwood, her new cd, "Blown Away," is out May first, and she's talkin' tour: “It’s going to be a lot of fun. It will be this fall and then potentially – we’ll see how that goes and then hopefully be able to add more dates in the spring next year. I’m just really looking forward to it it’s going to be really good and we have plenty of time to put it all together and make it really big.”

Garth Brooks is downsizing a bit. He unloaded 142 acres of raw land he owned in Oklahoma, raking in $2.7 million in the process. The land will become a community near Edmond, OK.

Day after tomorrow, country stars will gather with guns and guitars in Dothan, Alabama for the 11th Annual Country Goes Huntin' event hosted by Rhett Akins. Billy Currington, Eddie Montgomery, T-Roy Gentry, Rodney Atkins and more country stars will be part of the fun - Rhett Akins explains: “We pair up artists with hunting pros and we turkey hunt for two or three days. At the end of the event we have an acoustic jam where we raise money for different charities.” The Wounded Warriors Foundation is the biggest recipient.

Blake Shelton is working on a Christmas album for release this fall.

Lee Brice co-hosts the 4th hour of the Today show this morning.

Happy birthday to Ranger Doug, the frontman for Riders in the Sky, who is 66 today.

The tweet of the day is from Blake Shelton: "So completely awesome that people mouth off to me but can't comprehend the fact that I actually have the NERVE to defend myself..."

Monday, March 19, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Keith Urban and his band need combat pay for surviving the video shoot for his "Act of Valor" song, "For You." According to Keith, “I think my drummer got a little bit of [shrapnel] every now and then. And actually, I think in the video there’s one scene where they go off, and you can see my drummer’s head go forward a little bit…it’s so loud. Those things going off it’s just insanely loud and stuff goes everywhere. They were set a long way back from us, but there’s a lot of force going on.” Check it out for yourself...

Blake Shelton's doing it. Keith Urban's doing it. Does Justin Moore want to be a tv star, too? “You know what, as far as TV goes I have no desire to act. I don’t have a face for TV. I will never say never. You know, there are opportunities that come up that you have to think about. But for me, right now my soul reason for being where I’m at and my soul desire is to play music.” He's on the road with Blake's "Well Lit & Amplified" tour.

If Ronnie Dunn ever decides to give up music, he has a future in photography. He loves to shoot sunsets, and apparently he's really good. “It’s funny, I have a house in Santa Fe and I tell people I didn’t buy the house, I bought the sunset because it’s just perfect. The view is killer and I can stand outside on the veranda and shoot ‘em. But, a friend gave me this real cool 5D camera, state of the art stuff. So, I shoot sunsets. And they’re different! You know, every few seconds they change out there.”

In "hey, it worked for Toby Keith" department, Rascal Flatts will be opening a chain of restaurants later this year. No word on the name, or any other details, yet, but Gary LeVox said the guys want to give fans something new and different.

The Band Perry is touring the UK this week, celebrating the release of their self-titled debut album. It's been out in the US since October of 2010 but is just now being released across the pond.

Taylor Swift enjoyed writing songs for "The Hunger Games" soundtrack, which comes out tomorrow. She said writing from someone else's perspective was almost like taking a vacation. Taylor wrote from the perspective of Katniss Everdeen, the main character in "The Hunger Games," which hits the big screen this coming weekend.

Eric Church is on Jimmy Fallon's show tonight.

The tweet of the day is from Martina McBride: "I just did a "nature hike" that began with 432 stairs...straight up. I am not exaggerating. I counted."

Friday, March 16, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

What do you do when you're a big country music star with kids who love other artists' music? You take them to concerts. Dierks Bentley took his daughters to see Taylor Swift, but not in Nashville. Dierks is touring in Australia and so is Taylor, so he and girls his showed up at one of her concerts. Dierks tweeted that it was an "incredible show" and that "lives were changed tonight."

Miranda Lambert is singing a song about a sad chapter in Blake's life - "Over You" is about the death of his brother: “Over time, he’s sort of opened up to me a few times and actually told me the story one day of exactly what had happened. And you know, bein’ that close to him now almost feels like it happened to me, and I wasn’t even there.” When Blake was 14, his big brother Richie was killed in a car crash.

Jason Aldean is enjoying the success of "Fly Over States," his latest single. He says, “It’s just one of those songs that remind me of where I’m from and a lot of the stuff I grew up visually seeing, you know, in my part of the country. And I think it kinda just sheds some light on farming and things like that, that I think a lot of people kinda don’t give those guys enough credit for what it is they do.”

Jake Owen has a second gold single from his "Barefoot Blue Jean Night" cd, but he's staying grounded: “I really like it when people come up and say, ‘Jake, I love the way that you’re not forgettin’ where you came from and stayin’ really true and nice and real to people.’ And I’m glad people tell me that because it’s nice to be reminded because in a world where I think everyone can become caught up in themselves and things sometimes, I just want to always be reminded and brought back down to where it all came from.” He hits the road with Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw this summer.

Kellie Pickler is part of the pre-race entertainment at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend, and is happy to get back to some childhood favorites: “I grew up in Albemarle, North Carolina, which is about 20, 25 minutes from the Charlotte Motor Speedway. So, where I’m from, racing is kind of a religion. I did grow up around race fans and whatnot, and so I’m really, really excited about goin’ to the race.”

Toby Keith will be on the Tonight Show tonight, and is hoping you'll add a little Mezcal to your St. Patrick's Day celebrations this weekend. His restaurants are serving up a green drink called Swamp Water that Toby says is perfect for St. Pats. Here's the recipe:

Prepare in Mason jar over ice

1.25 ounces - Wild Shot Silver
2.25 ounces - Apple Pucker
.75 ounces - Simple Syrup
Splash of Midori
Fill with Sweet & Sour Mix
Float lime juice
Garnish with 2 limes and a cherry
Add 2 drops of green food coloring to darken the green

Happy birthday tomorrow to Paul Overstreet, who turns 57, and Sunday Charley Pride turns 74.

The tweet of the day is from Rachel Reinert of Gloriana: "I'm up against Faith Hill in this competition and need all the votes I can get cause shes a goddess in leather pants."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Eric Church is selling out amphitheatres all across the country with his Blood, Sweat and Beers tour. Part of the fun is a new pyrothechnics show that Eric is having fun with, but it's not always safe to play with fire: “I’ve only had one instance. I had—I burned all the hair off my right arm one night. I had one thing where I was punching and I was trying to time it where as the flames came up, I would punch, and then the flame would come up…but I timed it wrong, and they came at the same time. So, I had no more hair on my arm.” No word on whether he'll take the flames with him when he's on the Jimmy Fallon show Monday night.

Once again this year, the nominees for the ACM New Artist of the Year will play the ACM Fan Jam, the concert that takes place during and after the ACM Awards. Hosted and led by Zac Brown Band, Scotty McCreery, Brantley Gilbert and Hunter Hayes will all take part in the concert. Though he's been performing since he was 4, the 20-year-old Hunter was blown away by the nomination: “I mean it was – you know you hear surreal and all that good stuff, it really was. You kind of pass right by it because it doesn’t seem like it’s real and then all of a sudden you realize – you sort of process the information and you go back and you’re like ‘wait a minute’.” The awards air April first on CBS.

Jake Owen got a date for the prom. Jake tweeted to Larissa Lewis, “My name is Jake. We've never met, but I have a question for you. Hope to hear from you, -J” The high school senior replied right away and found out that Jake was helping out her boyfriend, Tyler Miles. Tyler got his prom date and told Jake that he made her night.

Speaking of dating, apparently Kelly Clarkson is dating Reba McEntire's stepson, Brandon Blackstock. Narvel Blackstock, Reba's husband and Brandon's dad, is Kelly's manager. The two are apparently very good for each other.

Keith Urban accompanied his wife, Nicole Kidman, to Washington DC where she received the Humanitarian Award at the Kuwait-America Foundation gala. She was honored for her work with the UN Women. Reports are that Nicole was "elegant and reserved," and that the two spent the evening hand in hand.

Miranda Lambert is donating her share of ticket sales for her March 24th show in Louisville, Kentucky to tornado relief. Even Ticketmaster is in the spirit, waiving most of their fees on the remaining tickets for the show.

Lady Antebellum's "Own the Night" is the top country album again this week, in spite of selling 15 million copies already. Luke Bryan's "Spring Break: Suntan City" 4-song EP is #2.

Catch Toby Keith and his "Red Solo Cup" today on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Tomorrow he'll be on The Tonight Show, also performing his silly drinking song. According to Toby, “I think we’ve got enough credibility through our fight and through the music we put out that I could get away with a little bit more, pushing the envelope a little bit further than everybody else - because I proved it would work.”

The tweet of the day is from Jake Owen: "In Austin TX tonight for the rodeo. I was gonna ride this bull today, but he got scared."

Today's Country Tidbits

Montgomery Gentry's new song, "Where I Come From," has cracked the top 10 on the country charts and is still climbing. Eddie Montgomery says their video take on the song was inspired by friends in their hometowns: “I’m very, very proud, and when you see a couple ‘ol boys that you went to high school with or watched playing football in high school and the next thing you know they’ve signed up for the military and they’re off to go like, ‘Man,’ you know it really hits you at home then.”

Luke Bryan is in Panama City Beach for spring break. He's the entertainment now that he's a grown up, but he remembers the shenanigans from when he was a teen: “One of my buddies...I’ll leave all the names out of it, but he got us banned from all of Thomas Drive down in Panama City. He threw a couple of TVs out of the hotel room...we had a great time though, it was all a part of being a kid, all a part of growing up.”

How does Carrie Underwood keep that killer body? She says she's 95% vegan, pays attention to where food comes from and would rather eat at home so she's in total control. Hubby Mike Fisher would rather go out to restaurants, which Carrie tolerates and manages with the phone app. Did you miss her new video when it was posted here Monday? Here it is again, so you can see how she's doing on her diet...

Billy Currington kicks off his first headlining tour this month, taking David Nail and Kip Moore on the road with him. He toured with Kenny Chesney last year and paid attention to how he kept his fans enthralled: “Yeah, he gets out there and talks to ‘em. I was like, ‘Dang! Do I gotta do that?!’ I thought you just come and here and sing! But he’ll carry on for a while!” If you're female and like to sing, you could be in luck- Billy will bring someone up on stage at each tour stop to sing Shania's part on "Party for Two."

Craig Morgan is looking forward to this Sunday night, when he makes his acting debut. He's part of the Lifetime series, "Army Wives." What was his role? “That was cool because I got to perform as myself. I did have a few talking lines I can’t tell you a whole lot about the show I’ll get in trouble, I’m not supposed to talk about it but I can tell you I’m in it and that’s pretty cool.” The show airs Sunday night at 9 Eastern on Lifetime.

Happy birthday to Kristian Bush of Sugarland who is 42 today, and to Michael Martin Murphey, who is 67.

The tweet of the day is from Rhonda Adkins, wife of Trace: "RhondaAdkins: If I could only tweet the jokes Trace is telling about sausage and beavers.. I'll let Trace do that"

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Country stars work hard, but play hard, too. Saturday March 31st is the 2nd Annual NRA Country ACM Celebrity Shoot, and Blake Shelton is hosting the avent this year. Twenty celebrity teams vie for top team and top shooter, with proceeds benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project, The Folds of Honor Foundation and the Nellis Air Force Base Youth Programs. In addition to Blake, Craig Morgan, Jake Owen, Edens Edge, Lee Brice, Craig Campbell, Ira Dean and Thomas Rhett will be competing.

It's Luke Bryan's Spring Break week in Panama City, Florida this week. He'll head down to do some beach concerts and celebrate the release of his "Suntan City" EP. Luke loves putting out the four-song compilation each year: “That’s the fun thing about getting to do the Spring Break album is me getting down there. You know what, this whole Spring Break album I just started from writing music without parameters. Spring Break, you know if we want to drop a little cuss word in there or something we don’t sweat it. That makes it – that frees us up more creatively to where we don’t get too bound by what’s going on when we’re in the writing room.”

Martina McBride hits Panama City next month to kick off her small-room tour. The follow-up to "I'm Gonna Love You Through It" is "Marry Me," a duet with Pat Monahan of Train. His group originally did the song and then the two did it on their episode of CMT Crossroads. When Martina went into the studio to record last year, she invited Pat to join her. “When we’d finished rehearsing it, we both looked at each other and said, ‘Wow, that really works. That’s really cool as a duet.’ So, when I went in to make the album, I asked if he would come and...if I record that song and he would come and sing on it. So, he came to Atlanta where we were recording, and we sang it in the same room.”

More stars have been added to the performance lineup for the ACM Awards Show on April first. The Band Perry, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Chris Young and Blake Shelton will all grace the stage with a live song.

The video for Carrie Underwood's "Good Girl" is out, and it's a fashion show for Carrie. Must have taken forever with all the costume changes, but it look like it was fun to make.

Congratulations to Dierks Bentley - he's notched his ninth #1 single with "Home." He's pretty humble about the success of it: “It’s about now but it’s a little history lesson too about what we’ve been through and at the end of the day I think it’s inspiring and hopeful. It’s been a real blessing of a song and one that none of us really can take too much credit for it; just inspiration hit and, you write that many songs over the course of the year you might get one of those moments and we got one with this song.” He's wrapping up a tour in Australia, so his #1 party will have to wait til he gets back state-side.

Zac Brown Band is in the studio, working on new music. No word on when we can expect to hear it.

Brad Paisley - cigar aficianado? Yep, and he's on the cover of the Cigar Aficianado magazine, looking classy in a tux jacket and cowboy hat.

Shooter Jennings is on the Tonight Show.

The tweet of the day is from Blake Shelton: "So I'm on the west coast right now so don't be giving away what happens tonight on The Voice everybody!!! I can't wait to see who I pick!!"

Monday, March 12, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Dierks Bentley is in Australia, taking his Country & Cold Cans tour down under. He loves to water ski, but in Australia, a different water sport is king: “I’ll try anything, I love just – I love being outside so put a surfboard in my hand and I’ll give it a go. You know, they love country music down there, country is everywhere. People love country music, doesn’t really matter where you are and a chance to go down there and tour with a friend of mine Lee Kernaghan who’s a huge Australian artist and has a lot of fans over here as well. It just sounded like a lot of fun.”

Oh, this was predictable! Carrie Underwood got married and it's the question on every reporter's lips. Ditto Miranda Lambert, so now that Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum is a wife, they're asking when she'll become a mother: “Not for a while. I mean, God knows the time better than any of us, but not for a while. I think we’re just excited to be settling in to being married and sharing life together and being able to travel together and so, I mean, I don’t think we’ll wait too terribly long, but definitely not anytime in the near future.”

Billboard is out with their "Top 40 Money Makers of 2012," though the list reflects how much different artists made last year. Taylor Swift made nearly $36 million, landing her squarely at the top of the list. Other country acts on the list:

#34 – Sugarland: $5.6-million
#28 – Zac Brown Band: $6.5-million
#27 – Keith Urban: $6.6-million
#26 – Lady Antebellum: $6.7-million
#21 – Brad Paisley: $8.6-million
#19 – Tim McGraw: $9.3-milllion
#18 – Rascal Flatts: $9.6-million
#15 – Toby Keith: $10.4-million
#9 – Jason Aldean: $13.4-million
#3 – Kenny Chesney: $29.8-million
#1 – Taylor Swift: $35.7-million

A little too much excitement at Garth Brooks' house last week. Someone abandoned a stolen car on Garth's property, setting it on fire. Police are searching for the culprit, who may or may not have known that a superstar's farm was where he committed a crime.

Luke Bryan doesn't have an ACM nomination this year, but he'll still have a big week in Vegas. He's performing on the show, and also on the Lionel Ritchie tribute show being filmed the day after the awards. According to Luke, “We got the news of my ACM performance, which was really, really rewarding and flattering news. To not have a nomination out there, and you know to get a performance slot, we were super-excited. And certainly very excited to be a part of the Lionel show.”

Randy Houser, Justin Moore, Lee Brice and Jerrod Niemann have all had their tour buses catch fire in the last few months, and Josh Thompson isn't taking any chances: “And screw Lee Brice ever comin’ on my bus because he was on Jerrod’s bus, and he’s like, ‘I think your bus is on fire; it’s burning.’ And Jerrod just told me the story today, and I don’t know…somethin’ ’bout it, somethin’ ’bout it. I’m not pointin’ any fingers at Lee, but I’ll just be goin’ to Lee’s bus, if we’re gonna hang out. I’ll just be goin’ over there.”

A new compilation album will be in Starbucks, just in time for Mother's Day, and Faith Hill's "Wish For You" will be part of it. The song was originally on her 2005 "Fireflies" album.

The tweet of the day is from Lauren Alaina: “returned to idol & then went to the studio to record background vocals for the new Aerosmith record. #ISTHISREAL? Thank u Steven!”

Friday, March 9, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Got your tickets for the CMA Music Festival yet? More acts have been announced, including Brad Paisley, who loves playing the annual summer event: “These are the hardest core of the hardcore. They come out to shows when you play. They’re the first to buy tickets to your concerts. They’re the first to buy your album. They don’t take any convincing. They love you sort of no matter what. I really look forward to getting out there and looking at their faces.” Who else will be there? Carrie, Blake, Alan, Faith, Jason, Zac, TBP, Lady A and most of country music's royalty. June 7 through 10, Nashville is the center of the music world.

Also adding performers is the ACM Award show. Toby Keith, Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney and Jason Aldean were just announced as musical talent on the show, and Jason is excited about performing and about his Entertainer of the Year nomination. What does it mean to him? “I’m sure everybody can make their case about what they think it is or what it should entail but to me I think it’s a pure live award. Based on your show, your live performance and being an entertainer.” Jason's up against Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney and Brad Paisley on the fan-voted award. You can vote for your favorite starting March 19th - there'll be a link to the voting page here. The show is April first on CBS.

Jennifer Nettles will join Kelly Clarkson, Lionel Richie and Robin Thicke on a summer replacement series, "Duets." The artists will travel around the country looking for singers to be their duet partners. They'll perform in front of a live audience, competing until only one person - the winner - remains.

Told you this time last year about the sunglasses that Kenny Chesney designed. He sold them at his Goin' Coastal tour stops, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Coastal Conservation Association. He just presented a check for $50,000 to them.

Jewel is on The Talk on CBS.

Happy birthday to Mickey Gilley, who is 76 today. Tomorrow, Carrie Underwood turns 29 and Sunday, Jimmy Fortune of the Statler Brothers turns 57.

The tweet of the day is from Uncle Kracker: "Common sense is alot like deodorant. The people who need it most, don't use it. Goodnite twitter!"

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

If you watch "The Voice" on NBC then you've noticed that the coaches sometimes dig each other pretty hard. Blake Shelton says when the cameras are off, so are the gloves: “I think that’s what’s helping the show as much as anything is that we do all get along and we’re not afraid to pop off to each other on TV because we know that as soon as it’s commercial break, we’re gonna high five and laugh about it.”

Martina McBride's song, "I'm Gonna Love You Through It," was something she found and recorded before her husband John heard it. According to Martina, “I played him the demo and he said ‘that’s what I would say to you, that’s what I would want to say to you’ and I thought wow I mean, that’s what I would want to hear so it’s – it’s really at the core of it it’s just about I will stick with you no matter what. The song is obviously written specifically about cancer but it can be – really applied to anything in life.”

Justin Moore's new song, "Til My Last Day," is wife-approved. It's Kate's favorite ballad, and after seeing her reaction to it, he knew he had to record it: “It’s my wife’s favorite song on the record. We all mess up, we’re all idiots, we’re guys. But this song’s about working on it at least and putting forth the effort to try to be who it is that you know you want to be for your girlfriend, wife, etc. And uh – it’s a lot of fun to play live. It’s totally different than anything we’ve ever done.”

The 2012 Tim Pan South Songwriters Festival in Nashville is always a big dang deal, and this year, it includes Dierks Bentley and Luke Bryan as performers. The event runs March 27th through 31st at 10 different clubs around town, including the Bluebird and Douglas Corner Cafe. Yes, you can go - check out details on the Nashville Songwriters Association International website.

On American Idol this year, when a contestant is eliminated, Scotty McCreery will sing them off the show. The season 10 winner has recorded a version of Tim McGraw's "Please Remember Me," and that will play as the eliminated contestant sees his or her AI life on the screen. Scotty says that meeting Tim was one of the highlights of his American Idol experience: “It was great picking his brain and getting the wisdom he has from over the years. It was really a special moment for me. He is really a genuine nice guy.”

Getting interviewed about going into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Garth Brooks dropped a bombshell: he almost wasn't Garth Brooks! “I got signed with Capitol Records in ’87, only to be told I was gonna have to change my name because they had a solo artist named Kix Brooks that was getting ready to launch his first record. I would spend the next six months driving through Arkansas and Kansas looking at just town names trying to figure out what my last name was gonna be. Kix’s record deal did not work out for Capitol, and so at the very last moment I got to keep my name.” Garth talked about how happy he was that Kix went on to redefine the term duet in country music.

We have to wait over a month to see it, but Trisha Yearwood's new cooking show, "Trisha's Southern Kitchen" debuts on April 13th on the Food Network.

Lauren Alaina is performing on American Idol tonight.

The tweet of the day is from Rosanne Cash: "Trying to lose a couple pounds before I go to Barcelona so I can eat my weight in tapas. Who's with me on this?"

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

The Band Perry is on an amazing climb to the top, with a quadruple-platinum single ("If I Die Young") a two-week chart-topper ("All Your Life") and now the news that they have to top-selling single of any artist in the last 18 months with "If I Die Young." Kimberly Perry says it's all by design: “We’ve spent our whole lives working toward this moment. I mean, we’ve dedicated every minute to music since I was 15, Reid was 10 and Neil was 8. So, you’re talking about a 13-year journey towards the last 12 months. And it’s just been really, really wonderful to see all the blood, sweat and tears that we’ve dedicated for so many years in life really come to fruition.”

Garth Brooks will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum this fall as the "Modern Era" inductee. Connie Smith will be honored as the "Veterans Era Artist" and in the "Recording and/or Touring Musician Active Prior to 1980" category, Hargus "Pig" Robbins will join the Hall. Garth is, not surprisingly, humble about the honor: “This is a wonderful day...a day of joy, a day of honor. I still can’t believe it. It’s kind of a funny day ‘cause you mix it with a lot of humbleness...guilt...for being here among these names.”

Didn't get enough of Brad Paisley's Virtual Reality World Tour 2012? No worries - he's continuing the tour from May 18th through October 20th, adding new bells and whistles to keep the show fresh for fans. According to Brad, “It’s all about content. It’s really about, what do we do on these songs. How do we make something like ‘American Saturday Night’ look a little different than last year? What do we do? And that’s where my video company is so great at that. I mean they showed me animation that they’d done, this 3-D looking graphic stuff that’s different from what we were using.” The Band Perry and Scotty McCreery will continue on most of the tour, with Miranda Lambert joining the fun for some July and August shows.

Luke Bryan hit a lick in front of his biggest audience - 71,000 at RodeoHouston. He was awed by the experience: “It was an amazing sight, an amazing thing to be a part of and definitely a big know, Houston Rodeo was something I’ve always dreamed of doing and to be on that stage and look up and see 71,000 with their hands up jumping up and down it was a surreal experience.” He closed out the show with "Country Girl (Shake it for Me)" getting off the stage and dancing with the audience.

Bad night last night for Jerrod Niemann - he and his band were playing a benefit for St. Jude in Chattanooga, TN. As they wrapped up their show at 10:45, the alarm went up - their tour bus was on fire. Lee Brice was also part of the show last night, and you'll remember that his bus went up in flames in January.

Been waiting for new music from Lee Brice? Mark April 24th on your calendar - that's when "Hard 2 Love" comes out.

Congrats to Randy Houser and his wife Jessa Lee - they welcomed a baby boy to their family yesterday. It's the first child for both of them.

The tweet of the day is from Jerrod Niemann: "To be honest, thank the good Lord that @leebrice was here tonite or I'd be freddy Krueger"

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

When Brad Paisley sings "Remind Me" in his live shows, he duets with a virtual Carrie Underwood. He wrapped up his winter tour in Knoxville and as he was singing "Remind Me," a real, live duet partner joined him on stage and really surprised him...

In other Carrie news, check out the cover of her album, "Blown Away," which streets May first...

In Las Vegas the night after the ACM Awards, many stars are staying in town to tape "ACM Presents: Lionel Richie and Friends." Jason Aldean, The Band Perry, Martina McBride, Lady Antebellum, Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw, Jennifer Nettles, Sara Evans and Luke Bryan are just a few of the artists who'll be featured on the show. Lionel himself is blown away by how country artists found his music: “To listen to them go, ‘Lionel, I can’t believe I’m doing this because you know when I was a kid ‘Sail On’ was this song,’ or ‘Stuck on You’ was this song. And they’re telling me these stories. Jennifer Nettles tells a story about how her mother took her to a fair, you know, and that’s how she heard ‘Hello’ for the first time. I mean, come on! Are you kidding me?”

Congrats to Kenny Chesney, who tops the country charts this week with his song, "Reality." What's his? “Everybody has their way of getting away from it, whether it’s – for me it’s a beach bar on the boat underneath the stars or with my band on the stage even thought that is our reality but that’s a great part of our reality.” His next album streets on June 19th.

They have one #1 song, "Crazy Girl," under their belts and another one climbing the charts. Eli Young Band isn't resting on their laurels, though: “With all these tour opportunities we have and the ability to be in front of these large crowds that probably wouldn’t or may have not seen us before, we’re kind of retooling our show and tweaking it a bit. You know, we’ve always been a road band. We’ve always pride ourselves on putting on a good show, but I think every year we sort of have to figure out how we can do better than the year before.”

Thompson Square has teamed up with ChildFund International to help at-risk children. For the rest of this year, fans who sign up and sponsor a child will get an autographed copy of Thompson Square's debut album.

He may be Your American Idol, but Scotty McCreery will probably warm the bench today. He was the pitcher on his high school baseball team up until his Idol schedule made him choose one or the other. Today is Garner High School's season opener, and Scotty will be there. He's been working out, but doesn't expect to play quite yet, telling reporters “I’m in an adult world now, but I want to be able to play baseball with my friends.”

A new biography of Johnny Cash is in the works. Former LA Times music critic Robert Hilburn is writing "In Search of Johnny Cash," a look at the Man in Black's childhood and rise to stardom. No release date has been set yet.

Luke Bryan's "Spring Break 4: Suntan City" is out today. How does he do this, year after year? “We kind of come back in the beginning of the year and we start writing for it. I typically have about twenty, twenty-five days to try to write Spring Break material so I get with a couple writers and we um – we just want to make a fun little album.”

Neal McCoy has new music out today - his new project, "XII," produced by Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, reflects his live shows: “It’s similar to what I’ve done on all my albums. I try and put a little bit of everything on there. I want it to be like coming to a show of ours and in our shows were are notorious and have been for my whole career of doing kind of crazy stuff.”

Congratulations to Randy Houser, who tweeted in the wee hours of this morning that he's about to be a daddy. He and Jessa Lee Yantz were married last September.

Happy birthday to singer/songwriter Skip Ewing, who is 48 today.

The tweet of the day is from Uncle Kracker: "Confidence...It's that feeling you get right before you fully understand the situation."

Monday, March 5, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Lady Antebellum wants to play your prom. Really! They're offering up a 45 minute set at a junior, senior or reunion prom as the prize in a contest they're running on their website. When the three of them were writing "Dancin' Away With My Heart," they shared details of their proms: “Sharing stories of our high school sweethearts or prom or whatever it may be, and it was fun to kind of go back and see that and know where you’ve been and you know, that all kind of led you where you are, and so yeah—it was an interesting journey. You know I think it helps you appreciate what this life is all about, and it is—it’s about all those experiences good and bad that make you who you are.”

Miranda Lambert joins hubby Blake Shelton on The Voice tonight. She'll serve as a mentor to Blake's team before the first "battle round." Is she a fan of the show? Oh, yeah...“I love the show, I’m a big fan. I liked being—semi being a part of it last year, but I also love to watch just as a fan. So, even though my husband is a coach, I don’t let him tell me any of the behind the scenes stuff, ‘cause I wanna watch and be surprised!” She's got a song climbing the charts that she and Blake co-wrote about the death of his big brother. "Over You" moved them both as they wrote it: “We started writin’ this song on the bus. I don’t even know why really. I think maybe we had been talkin’ about Richie and talkin’ about the wedding, you know, sayin’, ‘Wish Richie could be there at the wedding,’ and it just kinda came to us. He was playin’ this melody and kinda said (singing), ‘Weatherman says it’s gonna snow,’ and I was like, ‘That’s kinda cool,’ and then it just started kinda becoming about that subject, and I said, ‘You went away,’ and he said, ‘How dare you,’ for the line, and we both just broke down cryin’. And I’ve never cried writin’ a song before, and I don’t know that I ever will again.”

The Fremont Street Experience concerts in Las Vegas have been announced. The outdoor shows happen just before the ACM Awards, and this year will feature Eric Church, Luke Bryan, Brantley Gilbert, Hunter Hayes, Eli Young Band, Scotty McCreery, Love & Theft Craig Campbell, Laura Bell Bundy and Jana Kramer. The shows take place March 30th and 31st, with the ACM Awards being handed out on April first.

The 11th Annual Michael Douglas & Friends Celebrity Golf Tournament takes place at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, and one of the celebrities will be playing music, not golf. Kenny Chesney will give a concert during the tournament on May 26th, then hit the road with Tim McGraw for their Brothers of the Sun tour.

Kellie Pickler will perform the pre-race concert before the Food City 500 NASCAR race at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 18th. She and hubby Kyle Jacobs just celebrated their 1-year anniversary in St. Lucia, where they went zip lining deep-sea fishing. According to Kellie, they didn't catch anything but a sunburn.

"Dr. Suess' The Lorax" dominated the box office over the weekend, raking in over $70 million. The movie, featuring the voice of Taylor Swift, had the 6th best debut of any animated film ever.

The tweet of the day is from David Nail: "Went ACM suit shopping with the wife, dinner and movie with the wife! Think she's already wishing I were back on the road! NOT!"

Friday, March 2, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Jason Aldean had a little big-boy fun this week as he suited up with the Atlanta Braves at spring training in Florida. The day of thrills and drills was filmed for an episode of GAC's "Day Jobs," where stars go back and do the jobs they had before they hit it big. Jason was having none of going back to being a Pepsi delivery man, saying he's worked too hard to put that kind of heavy labor behind him. Instead, he got to do his dream job - play with the Atlanta Braves. The Macon native, a life-long Braves fan, got a jersey with his name on it and signed autographs right next to Chipper Jones, who said about Jason's baseball skills, “Not bad. He’s a little more athletic than we’re used to seeing from our normal celebs.’’

Dr. Suess' The Lorax opens today, with Taylor Swift voicing the animated character of Audrey. Taylor has always love Dr. Suess because, “One of the reasons I’ve been so drawn to Dr. Suess is the rhyming. I’ve always had this just obsession with rhyming. Um...And so I grew up and became a songwriter and now I get to rhyme stuff all the time.” What's the moral of the story? “The message of The Lorax is you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Appreciate what you have while you have it. Appreciate the beauty in what’s there right now and try to preserve it for tomorrow.” The animated movie is expected to win at the box office this weekend.

Kenny Chesney's next album will be out June 19th. The project doesn't have a name yet.

Scotty McCreery pranked Brad Paisley, and now he's a little bit scared of retaliation. What did he do? Scotty found out that Brad keeps a second hat backstage, so when he gives the first one to a fan he can go get the second one to wear for the rest of the show. Scotty swiped the the spare, replacing it with an extra-small Paisley tour t-shirt. Then he painted a goatee on himself, borrowed a guitar and went onstage while Brad was singing "Celebrity," making fun of his mannerisms and making Brad laugh with his antics. Check out this fan video of the fun...

Heads up, American Idol fans - Lauren Alaina will be on the show next Thursday. She says she has a lot of empathy for the contestants, remembering, “On the show you wake up and you don’t really know what you’re doing for the day. Like you just – you get on a bus and you go to the studio or wherever you need to go and they tell you whether or not you need to be camera ready. If you need to be camera ready you know that you’re either gonna meet someone really important or you’re gonna have to do an interview of some kind. And that’s literally like your everyday, you have no idea what’s up ahead.”

Reba is featured in tonight's episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" and according to the show's producers, found out some shocking things about her ancestors. But is who you are nature or nurture? Here's what Reba thinks: “Things that happen to me in my childhood, growing up on a ranch, are totally instilled in me to the marrow of my bones and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get away from it.” The show airs tonight at 8pm Eastern on NBC. Sunday night, Reba is featured on Oprah's Master Class, discussing her career and her childhood. That show airs on the OWN network Sunday night.

Happy birthday to Larry Stewart of Restless Hearts, who is 53 today, Brett Warren of The Warren Brothers, who is 41 tomorrow, and to singer/songwriter Jason Sellers, who turns 41 on Sunday.

The tweet of the day is from Kix Brooks: "Does anybody care about the Monkeys? Yeah I do! First concert - RIP Davey!"

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Sugarland has put it "In the Hands of the Fans" for their tour, which kicks off April 5th in Toledo, OH. Fans can text, tweet, Facebook and call in song requests, which will determine the set list for each show. Jennifer Nettles says, "If it’s on one of our records or if we’ve played it on stage it is fair game.” Lauren Alaina and Canaan Smith will be along for the ride.

Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax" opens as an animated movie tomorrow, and Taylor Swift plays the part of Audrey. She thinks people will love the story, saying, “I think my fans and anybody will love The Lorax because it’s just got this magical essence to it. I mean, there’s something...there’s something so insane about the story. There’s such loss, but there’s such hope at the end of it. And that’s always been my favorite thing about this story.” Betty White, Danny DeVito, and Zac Efron also voice characters in the movie version of the classic children's book. Taylor won't be in the states for the movie opening tomorrow - she's in Australia, taking her "Speak Now World Tour" down under.

In Taylor gossip, not news, one online celebrity-watcher site has spotted Taylor Swift and Tim Tebow together twice in the past week.

Keith Urban is still in Australia filming "The Voice," but wanted to celebrate his second week at #1 with "You Gonna Fly." He arranged for a Nashville-area high school marching band to go to the Capitol Nashville building and march through it, playing "You Gonna Fly" for everyone who helped get it to #1. Here's video of the band learning the song and taking it to Capitol...

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill are in Australia, and while Faith was sound-checking, Tim showed off one of his hidden talents...

Joe Don Rooney is excited that Jay DeMarcus and his wife Ali are having a boy. Joe Don has it all planned out: “[Joe Don] I think I wanted Jay to have a boy know, just because he’s got a little girl and just experiencing that boy bond is really special. And, you know, I needed Jagger to have a duo partner. So, maybe he’s got one now. [Jay] They’re gonna start rehearsing as soon as mine’s out of the womb. [Joe Don] And the other thing is, Britney could be the lead singer, so... ‘cause Gary’s daughter can sing like a bird.” Boy DeMarcus is due August first, and the new Rascal Flatts album, "Changed," will be here April 3rd.

How did Sara Evans react when the guys from Rascal Flatts gave her a Jeep as a tour gift? Let her tell it: “So I – I got them a really nice watch and I’m like ‘Oh my gosh I am so sweet I mean they probably didn’t get me anything.’ And I’m, just was so proud of myself for getting them these watches and my manager says you know Gary, Jay, and Joe Don want to come and give you a gift. And I am like ‘Oh that’s just because I got them the watches, that’s sweet. You know, they’re probably going to give me some flowers or something.’ They come on the bus and he holds up a keychain, an Alabama keychain with a key on it. And I – I feel like I was such a dork because I didn’t, I was in shock I’m like ‘I gave you a watch.’”

Do you watch horse races? If you're a Toby Keith fan, be sure to watch the Kentucky Derby the first Saturday in May and root for "Reckless Jerry." That's Toby's horse from his Dream Walkin' Farms.

Zac Brown Band's tour sponsor, Jack Daniels, has enlisted the guys to do a couple of tv commercials for them:

Professional Bull Riders will use Ronnie Dunn's new song, "Let the Cowboy Rock" in their promotional campaign this year.

The tweet of the day is from Blake Shelton: "Folding the third pile of laundry Miranda has handed me tonight... This is bull!! Clothes should be disposable like toilet paper!!!"