Friday, June 29, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Jake Owen may be learning a lot about performing by being part of the Brothers of the Sun tour, but he’s learning something else, too: diet tricks of the big stars! According to Jake, “Kenny pretty much sticks to chicken, salmon and broccoli. And I have been trying to do the same – I’ll mix in an occasional brew here and there. But he’s really good with his diet, and Tim looks amazing. His body looks like he’s 22 years old. I’m just trying to keep up with those guys.”

It’s not the 4th of July yet, but don’t tell Alan Jackson, Easton Corbin and Gloriana. They’re starting early at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, celebrating with military families there. The show’s open to the public and will include a major fireworks display.

It’s lucky 13 for Toby Keith – his I Love This Bar and Grill added a Dallas, Texas location this week. They’re not just a bar and restaurant, they also provide a concert venue as part of the package, and according to Toby, they’re a hit! “They’re really doing well! They’re going like gangbusters.” Well, yeah…have you had the French fries?

Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley have become great friends, and Carrie describes Brad as being like her big brother: “Kim and his kids are just absolutely amazing, and they’ve always been super sweet to me. And it’s just nice to have people that you work with that you really enjoy, and you enjoy being around. And he and Mike [Fisher] have hung out together, and it’s just nice to have that in your life.” Right now, Carrie and Mike are in Australia, where she’s taken her Blown Away tour.

Zac Brown Band has been added to the Road to Ram Jam sweepstakes, where Ram Trucks get a year-long lease to a 2012 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn truck. At the end of the lease, the trucks will be auctioned off, with proceeds going to the military charity of the artist’s choice. Other artists include Kellie Pickler, Brantley Gilbert and Easton Corbin.

Kellie Pickler has teamed up with ConAgra foods and Feeding America this summer to provide meals for hungry kids, and she’s very passionate about the project: “This is just a really great way to spread the word and awareness and get people involved in something so important. These are kids, they can’t fend for themselves – they need us. It’s our responsibility, whether they’re our kids or not, it is still our responsibility as human beings to help these children.” Did she have cake for her birthday yesterday? Not home-made – she had to hit the road early yesterday, headed for tonight’s show in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Tim McGraw is busy and in-demand – he’s reading scripts for his next movie role, though he hasn’t found it yet, and just turned down an offer to appear on Broadway. Tim says he “can read fifty scripts and not find anything.” He’s had better luck with songs – he’s chomping at the bit to get his new album out to fans.

Congrats to Kenny Chesney – “Welcome to the Fishbowl” debuted atop the country album sales chart, selling nearly 200,000 copies. It was #2 on the all-genre chart. He says he put his heart and soul into the songs: “Bein’ in that driver’s seat to, you know, try to reach inside somebody’s heart live is a great seat to be in. And to figure out which songs of these that you think is gonna do it the most is a balancing act when you’re recording your record and when you’re done with it.”

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Luke Bryan is celebrating a multi-week #1 with “Drunk On You.” It’s from his platinum album, “Tailgates and Tanlines” and he knew the song was going to be huge from the first time he played it in concert: “We could really see a lot of people participating and doing the ‘boom booms’ and singing along. And so to have it as being a number-one and my fifth number-one song, is so fun gratifying and fun for me.” “Drunk On You” has been at #1 for four straight weeks on the digital download charts and is #1 this week on the airplay and sales charts.

Keith Urban is in the studio working on a new album, but he’s smitten with having been on “The Voice” in Australia and would like to do it again: “I loved that the show is the first one I’d ever seen that basically go on the sound of the voice first, then we run with other things after that. That really struck me as a cool thing.” Just guessing here, but bet he’ll be invited back!

Miranda Lambert was moved to tears at her show in New Orleans. She started singing “The House That Built Me” and stopped after one verse, telling the audience, “I went out to a Walgreens today, and I saw some houses that still had boards on the windows, and...I live in tornado alley in Oklahoma and I know how disaster can affect a community. I’ve prayed for you guys...and I appreciate you rebuilding your community and coming back stronger than ever.” She was referring to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and was sobbing as she finished the song.

Hmmmm…wonder if there’s a little romance going on? Kenny Chesney just donated a baby grand piano to the high school his tour mate, Grace Potter, attended. The donation was in honor of Grace’s music teacher, who is retiring after 40 years. Nice gesture!

Love and Theft are closing in on their first top 10 single with “Angel Eyes.” The song has gotten the attention of country fans, according to Eric Gunderson: “We’re getting new fans and the song’s impacting and reaching a lot of new people, so it’s been really exciting so far.” The song is from their upcoming self-titled album, due out July 24th.

Tim McGraw’s been performing his next single, “Truck Yeah,” on the Brothers of the Sun tour, and the crowd goes wild…

Happy birthday to Kellie Pickler, who turns 26 today.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

When the Brothers of the Sun tour hit Nashville this past weekend, it was one of the sisters in the show who stole the spotlight. Grace Potter’s 29th birthday was Wednesday of last week, but Kenny held off the celebration until Saturday night. Enlisting the help of the Brentwood High School marching band and 50,000 concert-goers, there was a rousing rendition of the Happy Birthday song, he brought her out a huge margarita and presented her with a cake in the shape of a Flying-V guitar. The video is very amateur, but bear with it – it does get right-side up and in focus for the good stuff!

As that same concert, Tim McGraw said that it’s tough to play in Nashville, because the audience is filled with family members, friends and people who work for him. According to Tim, “They know me. So, it’s hard to impress them.”

Sometimes it’s not good to look like a star. Also at the Nashville Tim and Kenny tour stop, a fan who looks a lot like Kenny Chesney was escorted out of the arena and invited to go home. Apparently audience members thought he looked so much like Kenny Chesney that a mini-ruckus kicked up while Tim McGraw was performing. Nathan Blankenship has been contacted by Kenny’s people, who knew nothing of the expulsion, and they’re going to make it up to him somehow. Kenny had this to say: “You don’t have to be famous to be a star, like it says in that song. You know, there’s a line in ‘Welcome to the Fishbowl,’ ‘You don’t have now, to be a star. Just get caught on video and there you are.”

Dierks Bentley and Thompson Square have made their love for Little Bit Town’s new song, “Pontoon,” public. As a matter of fact, Keifer Thompson is chomping at the bit to own his own! “[Keifer] The reason we haven’t bought one—I haven’t figured out which one I’m wanna get. I wanna ‘neck it out, like that man, I mean cheesy lights, slide—[Shawna] –‘neck it out? [Keifer] ‘Neck it out, man. [Shawna] –meaning? [Keifer] Redneck it out!”

Big & Rich capped the ACM Lifting Lives music camp week, performing with developmentally disabled but musically gifted teens. Check out the performance on the Grand Ole Opry stage…

The Republican National Convention will be rockin’ this year, as Trace Adkins, Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd will be the featured performers. Oh, yeah – and the Republican presidential nominee and his running mate will also be announced at the late-August event in Tampa, Florida.

Will you ever see Brantley Gilbert without his ball cap on? Probably not! “I actually leave it on sometimes in the shower on accident. We’ve got like 30 of them and sometimes I’ll go to sleep and wake up in the morning, and it’s still on. It’s like a piece of my body almost, it’s weird.”

Billy Ray Cyrus hits Broadway this winter, playing lawyer Billy Flynn in “Chicago.” The seven-week engagement will be at the Ambassador Theatre November 5th through December 23rd.

Congratulations to Luke Bryan, who tops the country charts this week with “Drunk On You.”

Kellie Pickler is on the Ellen DeGeneres Show today.

Happy birthday to Lorrie Morgan, who turns 53 today.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Carrie Underwood and hubby Mike Fisher are in Australia as Carrie takes her “Blown Away” tour there. It’s not her first time there, but this time she hopes to actually see more: “I really hope I get the opportunity to see more. You know, last time we were in Australia, I got to go to the Zoo in Melbourne, and we got to just kind of walking around Sydney a little bit. We toured the Opera House—of course, we’ll be playing there this time! But I’ll definitely be snapping pictures everywhere!”

Miranda Lambert scored #1 on the country charts with her last song, “Over You,” and she’s hoping for another with her new single, “Fastest Girl In Town.” About the song, she says, “I love ‘Fastest Girl In Town.’ I love so many songs on this record, but I really was ready for like a ‘Miranda song’, like ‘Kerosene’ days, you know? And ‘Fastest Girl’ I wrote it with Angeleena, so it’s obviously close to my heart, cause I wrote it with a friend. And ‘Over You’ I wrote with Blake, so it’s kinda this trend going—I’m putting out singles that I write with people I love!” Miranda’s on tour and is in the studio during her down time, recording the next Pistol Annies project.

Country music women did ok on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of “Women Who Rock: The 50 Greatest Albums of All Time.” Patsy Cline’s “The Patsy Cline Collection” showed up at #15, Dolly Parton’s 1975 greatest hits album earned the #32 slot and at #45, Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now” album made the list. Rolling Stone says Taylor has “a flawless ear for what makes a song click,” and called her “one of the few genuine rock stars we’ve got these days.”

If you’re into great music by more obscure singers and songwriters, chances are you have heard Eli Young Band’s “Even if it Breaks Your Heart” before. The song was written and recorded by Eric Paslay and Will Hoge and showed up on Will’s album, “The Wreckage.” When the guys in Eli Young Band heard it, they knew two things: one, they loved it and wanted to record it, and two, they wanted to stick to the sound of the original: “This one is kinda one that we found, umm, and really fell in love with his version. So, when we recorded it, we wanted to stay as true to his version as we could. But still make it our own a little bit. But, we just loved the Tom Petty feel and the classic rock vibe he had to the song.” Eli Young Band is on the road with Rascal Flatts this summer.

From the “well, now, this is awkward” file – Wynonna Judd and new hubby Cactus Moser didn’t invite Naomi Judd or Ashley Judd to the wedding, even though they all live on the same piece of property. It gets worse – Cactus Moser strapped a .44 Magnum on as part of his wedding tuxedo outfit, and as soon as the vows were taken, he fired his gun near Ashley’s house. Awkward... 

And this is, too – Randy and Elizabeth Travis are swapping lawsuits, each claiming that the other is somehow in breach of one or more of their agreements. Randy says Lib is badmouthing him, and Lib claims that he undermined her effectiveness as his manager. She’s asking a judge to award her damages based on “lost earnings.” This is going to be not pretty for a very long time, sadly.

And a little bit of good news – George Jones is apparently feeling so well that he’s rehearsing with his band in anticipation of getting back out on the road to make up those shows he missed this spring. Apparently his recovery from respiratory issues is complete – he says “he don’t need no rockin’ chair!”

Happy birthday to Gretchen Wilson, who turns 39 today.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Did you stay up late Saturday night? If so, hope you were watching CMT, because the Crossroads episode with Joe Walsh and Friends was awesome. According to Joe, “This whole show is country with some rock ‘n roll sprinkled on top and people that I really believe in...or dear friends.” One of those friends is Brad Paisley: “I said, ‘Yeah, I’d love to.’ I’m friends with Joe. We’ve been friends for a little while and share common interests.” Another, Luke Bryan, was blown away to be included: “If you would’ve told me that this opportunity to do this Crossroads could’ve ever been presented to me and they were gonna recommend that I do ‘Life’s Been Good,’ life has been good, because that would’ve been my first pick.” If you missed it, don’t despair – CMT will re-air the show, so you can catch it soon.

Rascal Flatts are not just entertaining fans, they’re helping to fill hungry bellies while on tour. They’ve teamed with Outnumber Hunger Live, and at every tour stop, the Outnumber Hunger tour but will also be there, along with a check to help the local food bank dish up 5,000 meals. This campaign has helped Feeding America secure six million meals since it began in March.

Carrie Underwood spent last week entertaining and charming the English, and this week she’s off to Australia. Carrie says that Great Britain isn’t a hotbed of country music fans, but that she’s trying to help change that, and the audiences were warm and welcoming.

Country music stars have to find some way to entertain themselves on the road. Dierks Bentley, the Eli Young Band and rock group Cadillac Black had a bit too much fun reenacting the battle scene from Braveheart. Thankfully no horses were used in this version…

Montgomery Gentry has teamed up with the Buffet, Inc. chain of country restaurants to sell their “Rebels on the Run” cd as a fund-raiser for The Armed Services YMCA. Eddie and T-Roy wanted to find a way to help military families, and this seemed like a great fit. You’ll find it in Country Buffet, HomeTown Buffet, Old Country Buffet, Fire Mountain and Granny’s Buffet locations.

Gloriana is enjoying major chart success with their song, “(Kissed You) Good Night.” Josh Kear and Gloriana member Tom Gossin wrote the song, apparently after overhearing a conversation between two girls who were talking about boys and good night kisses. Gloriana’s Rachel Reinert flipped the first time she heard it: “All three of us really saw something special in it. And I especially really liked the ‘pushed you up against the wall’ lyric. I thought that was a really powerful lyric.” The song is the first single from “A Thousand Miles Left Behind,” their album coming out July 31st.

Martina McBride is joining the “Opening Act” crew, scouring the internet for undiscovered artists. The winners get to be the opening acts for headliners like Jason Aldean and Brad Paisley. The show premiers on the E! network July 9th.

Did you miss Kenny Chesney’s live concert from a NJ beach last week? You can watch it any time you want to, right here.

Trisha Yearwood is such a good cook and natural tv performer that The Food Network has picked up her Trisha’s Southern Kitchen for a 13-episode season, beginning this fall. According to Trisha, “The positive response from viewers was overwhelming and truly gratifying."

The Band Perry is on the Ellen DeGeneres Show today.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Zac Brown Band has a new song out – “The Wind” – and Zac loves what it does for the band and the radio: “It gets to showcase everybody’s musicianship in the band. Very quickly, it’s a real fast and short song. I think it’s the most country thing that has been on the radio in a long time. It’s got a little bit of bluegrass and pickin’ and everything in it. But there is still great song lyrics buried in that speed of the tune.” All the guys in the band share their thoughts on “The Wind” in this video:

Miranda Lambert is having a blast with her girl group, Pistol Annies. “We are doing just a Pistol Annies tour in September. The girls are out with me all summer – but then all of September is just Pistol Annies. Then we are doing a new record in November!” While they’re out with Miranda, the trio is writing material for that album.

She’s named after him – she invited him to join her onstage during her Madison Square Garden Speak Now tour stop, so it’s not a huge surprise that Taylor Swift will be the guest star at James Taylor’s concert in Lenox, MA on July 2nd. They’ll perform a few songs together, and Taylor will do a solo or two. No word on the set list. You might still be able to get a ticket.

In other cross-genre news, Grace Potter isn’t going country, but she’s adding some country flavor to the deluxe edition of her new album, “The Lion The Beast The Beat.” Kenny Chesney duets with her on “Stars” and Willie Nelson sings and plays on “Ragged Company.” Grace Potter and the Nocturnals are part of the Brothers of the Sun tour with Kenny and Tim McGraw.

Faith Hill hasn’t released any new music in seven years, but she’s been having fun working in the studio on a new project. It doesn’t have a name or release date yet, but Faith is tipping her hand on what the music might sound like: “My love of country music – that has been my backbone. I was raised with country music, but I am a soul singer. So to bring those two worlds together in a way that is authentic and that is true – to me – that is the most important thing. I want to have a good time and I want my music to be truthful.”

They’ve been married 12 days and somehow managed to keep it a secret – Wynonna and long-time boyfriend Cactus Moser were married June 10th in a very private sunset ceremony on her farm in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee. Us Weekly has the story and pictures.

Wall bling for Eli Young Band - “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” has been certified gold. Eric Church’s “Chief” album has been certified platinum. Now here’s a weird coincidence: 28 years ago on the very same week that Eric’s single “Springsteen” went to #1 on the country charts, Bruce Springsteen had his only #1 song on the pop charts - “Dancing in the Dark.”

Congrats to Josh Turner on the #1 debut of his new album, “Punching Bag.” It’s the second time he’s accomplished a #1 album debut – the first was in 2006 with “Your Man.” About the title cut on this album, Josh says, “Everybody has those kinds of days. So, I want this song to motivate people to not get discouraged and just take those punches. Make something good out of it, keeping moving forward and just be tough.”

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Congratulations to Tim McGraw, as his song “Better Than I Used to Be” has been certified gold. What else does he have to celebrate? “It’s a busy summer ya know. My middle daughter goes into high school next year, so I’ll have two daughters in high school. We’re getting ready for that. My youngest goes into 5th grade. It’s going to be a busy year coming up – there’s a couple movie projects in the works. The tour and new album hopefully coming out in the fall. My wife’s finishing up an album, so it’s a pretty busy time in the McGraw household.” 

Lady Antebellum has sold out all of their tour stops in Australia, and Charles Kelley is hoping to see more of the country during this trip: “Well I remember I was so jetlagged the first time. They all kept getting mad at me because I wanted to sleep during the day. So I didn’t get to do much site-seeing. I believe in jetlag now – it’s such a long flight.” 

Carrie Underwood is playing her first show in England tonight, at the sold-out Royal Albert Hall. She’s been having fun sight-seeing, but is suffering a little bit of jet lag, too. 

CMT Crossroads this Saturday night is Joe Walsh & Friends. The “friends” are Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, Sara Evans, Luke Bryan, Hunter Hayes and Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top. Guess which song Joe and Brad will do together? “You know I’ve always thought ‘Life’s Been Good,’ is as perfectly written as something could be. Both lyrically with its sarcasm and its outlook, but also structurally with the licks that start it – and take little sort of amendments in the middle. It’s amazing.” 

This past Friday night in Cleveland, Brad Paisley treated his tour mates, band and crew to a bit of late-night fun after the sold-out concert. They all took over the Grand Prix go-kart track at Fun ‘n’ Stuff, racing until 3am. 

Kenny Chesney is on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon tonight and the Today Show tomorrow morning. And a “way-in-advance” DVR alert – Kenny Chesney will perform live from a barge on the Hudson River in New York on the 36th Annual Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks special on NBC.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Kenny Chesney is celebrating release week of “Welcome to the Fishbowl” with a free concert on the Jersey Shore today. The show will be webcast live from the beach in Wildwood, NJ at 8:30pm Eastern on VEVO. Then tomorrow he’ll be up late, guesting on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and Friday morning he’ll be up early to be part of the Today Show. About the album, Kenny says fans will hear a new, more honest Kenny: “That’s the most important thing for me, is to be able to dig a little deeper than we’ve been, and take the audience on a little but different journey than we’ve been. And to be able to do that, I really feel like I gotta – as hard as it is – is to be incredibly honest. And to show what it took to record the song. I think they’re going to hear it in my voice in some of these songs.”

Luke Bryan is part of the 3rd annual ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp this week, visiting with musically talented but developmentally disabled kids in the studio. He’s really looking forward to one part: “I’m gonna stop by the studio and just pat ‘em on the back, get some hugs, get some pictures, and I’m looking forward to hearing the song. I’m sure it’ll be great, and cheer ‘em on, and I can’t wait to see their performance and see them get out there and do what they do so well. And that really feels special, and they have such a great way of brightening our day.”

The football team does it up right in Detroit. The Lions’ head coach, Jim Schwartz, is a big fan of Randy Houser and missed him the last time he played in Detroit. So Jim decided to create an event for Randy to headline. “Coach’s Kickoff” will be held at Ford Field in Detroit on August 5th and will feature an autograph session with the team, followed by an open team practice and Randy’s concert. Tickets go on sale this Friday.

Keith Urban has decided to kick off his 2013 tour in Australia. Make plans for shows in Brisbane on January 25th and 26th. According to Keith, it’ll be “new music, new show – it’ll be a blast!”

Jennifer Nettles is on cloud 9 with the upcoming birth of her first child. She and Justin Miller were married in November of last year, and their baby is due in November of this year.

Pistol Annies have created a new online community called The Henhouse. There’s “dating advice you won’t get from your momma,” according to Miranda Lambert, as well as music, a video channel for fans to share their inspirations and more. The project got its start one night on the tour bus as the ladies were dishing out dating advice to a member of their crew. Perhaps alcohol was also involved…

Carrie Underwood graces the cover of the Canadian version of Elle Magazine.

Congrats to Eric Church, who has the #1 song again this week with “Springsteen.” “Springsteen’ is one of those songs that every night that I sing it, I can remember being 16 years old at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Charlotte, North Carolina – my first amphitheater experience up there on the lawn. And I can remember spreading that blanket down, and I can still see the faces of the people that were there with me.”

Lee Brice will be on the Today show tomorrow morning. In addition, he’s celebrating the platinum status of his #1 song, “A Woman Like You.”

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Kenny Chesney’s “Welcome to the Fishbowl” is out today, and according to Kenny there’s a lot more of him on the album than in previous projects. He says he spent a lot of time on the songs, and “This album was unlike any other just for the emotional journey that I went on to make it. The songs on this album are very personal. There is a thread now of searching on this record in a lot of these songs. I didn’t realize it at the time. I was just recording and writing what I felt - and recording what I love and things that touched me and mattered to me.”

It’s official – the Virtual Reality World Tour’s first prank has been pulled, and Brad Paisley didn’t do it! Kristen Kelly, who is a Virtual Opry Stage performer, showed up alongside Brad, dressed as his twin! It’s actually a pretty good disguise – check it out!

Blake Shelton doesn’t fear getting older – yet! He’s still got it with the teens, picking up three nominations for the Teen Choice Awards. About his younger audience, Blake says, “You know, any time that I’m anywhere and somebody has a teenage kid that wants to meet me and have a picture it’s like, ‘Oh, thank God,’ because you know, you don’t want to be that point where they’re like, ‘No! I don’t want a picture with him...he’s old and creepy!’”

David Nail uses Adele’s song “Someone Like You” as a vocal warm-up before going on stage. According to David, “It brings so many things out of you as a vocalist.” People who heard him sing it persuaded him to set it to video, which he did, intending it just for friends. Well, we must be his friends, because here it is…

Taylor Swift spent last week working with rapper B.o.B. on a music video. She sings vocals on the track “Both of Us” on his Strange Clouds album, and they shot the video for the song in Nashville. The video won’t be out until the end of the month, but here’s the song…

If you’re a Lady Antebellum fan, mark your calendar for this Thursday at 3:30pm Eastern. Hit their Facebook page and join them for a live chat. They’re excited to talk with fans about their music, the Own the Night tour and their upcoming overseas trek, which Charles is already going on about: “You know, we did London last year and we had a few days there too. This year we’re actually going to Ireland and Scotland and all through Germany and Scandinavia as well. So, these are all places, you know, we really hadn’t ever been.” You can submit questions now on their Facebook page.
Easton Corbin’s next album, “All Over the Road,” will drop September 18th.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Yesterday was Father’s Day, and here are some country music Dads with their thoughts on fatherhood:

Jason Aldean: “My girls are 9 and 4. I’m the Dad that’s gone a lot, and I think my wife’s more the disciplinary. Then when I get home I’m kinda the cool parent, because I take up for them and save the day. She hates me for that but they love me for it – that’s all that counts.”

Keith Urban: “The first thing is probably just having someone call you dad. I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh! I’m her dad! That’s amazing.’ That’s probably the first thing to me. I don’t know, I mean, the different personalities that our two daughters have, that’s amazing.”

Randy Houser: “I really, really love being a daddy. I mean, I’ve done a lot of cool things before, but there is nothing that compares. And I don’t expect anything, I don’t care. I got the gift of my little boy every day, so I don’t need a Father’s Day, to be honest.”

Ok, so Carrie Underwood’s not a dad, but she has one, and about him she says: “My dad’s the kind of person that most likely he’ll never, you know, look at me or my sisters and say, ‘Hey, I’m proud of you,’ or ‘You’re doing a great job,’ or anything like that, but I catch him, like, watching things that he’s taped of me on TV and stuff like that. You know, that means a lot.”

Zac Brown Band is teaming up with ESPN and Major League Baseball for the State Farm Home Run Derby on July 9th. They’ll do a medley of “America the Beautiful” and “Chicken Fried,” along with their new song, “The Wind.

Zac Brown Band, Toby Keith and Brad Paisley are ponying up some concert tickets to support charity. ACM Lifting Lives and will be handling the contests, with proceeds going to the stars’ favorite charities: Camp Southern Ground for ZBB, The Toby Keith Foundation and St. Jude Target House for Brad Paisley.

The Band Perry is working with legendary producer Rick Rubin, who is best known in Nashville for his work with Johnny Cash, but he’s also produced award winning albums for Adele, Tom Petty, Nine Inch Nails and the Beastie Boys. They’re about halfway through the work the new album and Kimberly Perry says they’re wearing Rick out with questions about Johnny Cash.

Some heavy metal has been earned: Jason Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem” is triple-platinum, his duet with Kelly Clarkson, “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” is double platinum and Carrie Underwood’s “Good Girl” is platinum.

Kenny Chesney’s “Welcome to the Fishbowl” is out tomorrow.

Happy 36th birthday to Blake Shelton today!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Next week is the 3rd Annual ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp in Nashville, and some of music city’s stars will be there working with the developmentally disabled kids. Luke Bryan, Big & Rich, David Lee Murphey, Lauren Alaina and Paul Worley are just some of the names associated with this event. Campers participate in a songwriting workshop, recording session and get a live show at the Grand Ole Opry just for them. 

Kenny Chesney has a new pal – a puppy named Pancho. A friend gave him the dog in the hopes he might “learn to attach to something.” Kenny says he’s getting very familiar with pet supply stores and that Pancho will be the four-legged crew member on the Brothers of the Sun tour this summer. 

In Nashville, musicians take care of each other. Jan Grantt, wife of session musician Kevin “Swine” Grantt, has ovarian cancer and no health insurance. Kevin is part of Toby Keith’s Incognito Bandito band, and they’ll be performing at Nashville’s 3rd & Lindsley on June 19th. It’s a benefit show to help pay for Jan’s treatments, and Craig Morgan, Josh Thompson, Darryl Worley and Carl Jackson will all be part of the show. A quick peek at Toby’s tour schedule shows he’s off from the 16th through the 22nd of June. Hmmmmmm…think he might show up?

There are fans, and then there are FANS. Paul Eckhart hasn’t missed a single show at the Grand Ole Opry in 40 years. Obviously he lives in Nashville, making it easier for him to go, but this is an incredible streak that the Opry will celebrate tomorrow night. Paul, along with his wife and family, will sit on the front row and be honored with the first-ever Opry Fan Award. He’ll be gifted with some other surprises, too, so watch the live show to see history made.

Blake Shelton is in his red chair, taping another season of The Voice. Can he keep up the hectic pace? “The reason that you want the four of us is because we’re viable artists right now –current. We can’t do both if we do back-to-back seasons and I’ve been hammering them about it. But, I look forward to it and I love it. I can’t imagine not being part of The Voice ever. I’d love to do it from now on, but it just needs to work. So something has gotta give, ya know?” Blake celebrates his 36th birthday on Monday.

Carrie Underwood’s song “Good Girl” is already platinum – wow, 16 weeks to sell a million downloads...amazing! Her next single is “Blown Away” and it’s already doing well, even before being officially released. “‘Blown Away’ the single it’s already doing really well, as far as whatever - numbers and all that. But, it’s exciting to see people get behind it. And it’s exciting to see people like what we’ve done – because we did work hard.”

Sara Evans will sing the National Anthem at the NBA Finals Game Two tonight between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder. It airs on ABC.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Blake Shelton likes to surprise people, and he’s using his latest video to do just that. The video is for the song, “Over,” which uses fire as an analogy. But in the video, Blake and director Roman White decided to be a bit more literal: “There’s a house that burns down and all this stuff. You’re like, ‘Man I think he really just kind of meant that like not literally.’ But screw it lets burn some stuff down and look cool walking around the desert and stuff.” Yeah – not surprised by that, are you?

Eric Church is basking in the glow of his second #1 song with “Springsteen.” He was inspired by his own life – a date at a Springsteen concert when he was 16: “I still remember what the weather was like; I can still remember what the air smelled like, what the sky looked like. And I think the great thing about that song – you always try to write music and record music that sparks a memory, and there’s a line in the song – ‘Funny how a melody sounds like a memory.’ That’s exactly what ‘Springsteen’ is for me, and I hope that that’s what it’s for for everybody out there.” Eric’s first #1 song came in January of this year – “Drink in My Hand.”

Jason Aldean is getting a bit of a reputation on Twitter. Like Blake Shelton, he doesn’t take any guff from anyone, and he proved it Monday night when he had to defend his tweets about being fined for swimming in double-red-flag surf. Some fans also give him grief about what they think is “rap” in his music, and Jason takes it to them on Twitter: “I got on there and said, ‘Hey if you don’t like what I’m doing, turn the station. Ya know? It’s that easy.’ Anyway it was that quick. It was me reading a bunch of these comments, sitting on my bus bored and so I just decided to fire back – which I never do.” Uh…yeah, right!

Josh Turner is out with a new album. “Punching Bag” is the album title, and the title track is one that Josh feels very strongly about: “I wanted it to speak to those people who have those days where everything goes wrong and everything blows up in their face and nothing goes right, and your stress level is way up. And you just don’t feel like anybody’s there to help you. This song is for those people.” The album’s first single, “Time is Love,” is doing well on the charts as Josh gets ready to be part of the nation’s official 4th of July celebration in Washington, DC.

Jake Owen is joining Colt Ford on the song “Back” from Colt’s upcoming “Declaration of Independence” album. According to Colt, “Jake captured the emotion in this song.”

Taylor Swift was honored by Northwest Tennessee Disaster Services. They named her the 2012 Honorary Star of Compassion Award for her “uplifting works and music of encouragement.”

Congratulations to Alan Jackson, whose “Thirty Miles West” debuted at the top of the Billboard Country Album chart this week.

Today's Country Tidbits

Tim McGraw is on the road with Kenny Chesney, and the two of them had a hit duet this spring. Rumors are swirling that Faith Hill and Tim will have a duets album out soon, but Faith says, not so fast – she’s working on a solo project right now. “We are married, we live together – it’s kind of inevitable that that will happen. But the truth is it’s not something that’s on the schedule right now. I look forward to the opportunity someday to do a record with my husband, because you know, he’s my husband! We’ve already had some really great songs together, and it’ll be good when it happens for sure.”

How many people were at a live country music event over the past weekend? Let’s run the numbers:
  • CMA Music Festival – 71,000 people per day over four days 

  • Miranda Lambert in Detroit – 100,000 over three days 

  • Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw in Dallas and Kansas City – 95,000 people 

  • Brad Paisley at Wrigley Field – 38,500 concert-goers 
Total – a boatload of country music fans! (and by “boatload” we mean 517,500)

Martina McBride knocked it out of the park with her closing concert at the CMA Music Festival. Her set included favorites, plus a few newer nuggets from her latest album. “I love the record Eleven that we made. It’s a special record to me for a lot of reasons. For me, it signaled a lot of new beginnings and trying new things – getting out of my comfort zone a bit and digging a little deeper. So I’m really proud of it.”

Jason Aldean took a few days off to hit the beach after the CMA Music Festival, but all wasn’t white sand and umbrella drinks. He was ticketed on Monday for swimming while double red flags were posted at the beach. He can afford the $100 fine for sure, but wasn’t really happy about the ticket, tweeting, “Dear officer who gave me a ticket on the beach today for swimming in the water with double red flags.. Thanx for the warning Barney Fife!”

Kenny Chesney has a part in a promo for ESPN. Haven’t seen it? Here you go…

Congratulations to Eric Church on his latest wall bling – “Springsteen” has been certified platinum and his debut album, “Sinners Like Me,” has been certified gold. Plus, “Springsteen” is the #1 country song in America this week.

Lee Brice is on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Brad Paisley is working on his next album between stops on his “Virtual Reality” tour. He’s recording in the studio he built on his property, and says that’s a major player in the increased creativity he’s feeling: “As of like this week, I’m busting at the seams for people to hear it. I finally am at that point. And I cannot believe what I’ve come up with already.” No word on a release date yet.

Looks like David Nail will be taking some time off from playing the guitar. During the City of Hope celebrity softball tournament last week, he fractured his right ring finger and detached a tendon trying to catch a low line drive. David tweeted, “This is a lesson to not play like you're 18 when you're 33.” He’ll see a specialist this week to see about getting that finger fixed up.

Blake Shelton was able to make it to Nashville last week, in spite of a crazybusy schedule. According to Blake, “This is the first time I’ve been to Nashville in I don’t know when. In fact, Miranda and I combined #1 parties last week to get that celebration in we wanted to do. I’m working on the next studio album and I’ve been in the studio all this week workin’ on a Christmas record.”

Jake Owen is so busy that he hasn’t even had time to honeymoon with his new wife Lacey. When they were talking about getting married, he told her his schedule was crazy all through 2013, and she insisted they “just do it now.” They were married in May, but since Jake’s on the “Brothers of the Sun” tour with Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney, it doesn’t look like a honeymoon will happen any time soon.

Rascal Flatts is loving the crowd reaction to “Banjo:” “It’s one of those tunes that’s so infectious that when we do it live it’s an immediate crowd pleaser, so we’re really, really thrilled with its success.” They’re also loving working with Little Big Town, a group that both Joe Don Rooney and Gary LeVox were in, at separate times, before Rascal Flatts was born. Little Big Town is opening for them on tour and the two vocal groups got together to record a song. As Gary says, "We’re all splitting verses and there’s a lot of voices. We thought it was a great idea at the beginning until we got the catering bill!" The “Changed 2012 Tour” kicks off this weekend.

Today's Country Tidbits

The CMA Music Festival is history for 2012, and lots of fans will make their hotel reservations for 2013 before they leave Nashville today. The event is a fan favorite, but it’s also an artist favorite. Here are thoughts from just a few who performed at the CMA Music Festival this year:

Brad Paisley on the craziest thing done by a fan: “Tattoo of your face...on a leg. The woman that did that is very sane, from what I can tell. Truthfully, she’s the nicest person you’d ever want to meet, but she walks around with my face...luckily the artist was really good. I mean it looked just like an eight-by-ten of me.”

Carrie Underwood, on the weird things she gets asked to sign: “I signed a diaper once. It was not used. I’ve signed body parts but mostly any body parts was intoxicated was just easier to sign instead of argue with them. Don’t you have anything else? Like a piece of paper?”

Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley on who they’d wait in line to see: “[Charles] I mean, as a fan right now I think it’s hard to beat a Luke Bryan or a Jason Aldean show. They’re such a know, they’re such fun, high energy shows. So, as a fan I would sit in line to go watch those shows, that’s for sure. [Hillary] Reba, George Strait, Trisha Yearwood...I’d love that.”

Jason Aldean on what he loves about the CMA Music Festival: “A week like this where we can show our appreciation and kind of tell them thank you in person and do some extra stuff just so they can come out and be a part of it to me is...that’s easy stuff, you know, and it’s definitely worth it. So, it’s a cool thing that the CMA does every year.”

Blake Shelton on being back in Nashville: “This is the first time I’ve been to Nashville in I don’t know when. In fact, Miranda and I combined #1 parties last week to get that celebration in we wanted to do. I’m working on the next studio album and I’ve been in the studio all this week workin’ on a Christmas record.”

Zac Brown on his plans for Nashville: “We just opened a big studio here in Nashville this last week and we’re coming to Nashville, we’re infiltrating. We’re gonna have a restaurant here and a bar here eventually.”

The Band Perry’s Kimberly and Reid on sharing news with fans last week: “[Kimberly] We revealed the name of our brand new fan club, which is called The Fans Perry. So, you’ve got The Band Perry and The Fans Perry...[Reid] Kind of a play on words there, you see that?”

Kip Moore, on meeting Willie Nelson: “I’m a massive Willie Nelson. I grew up on, ‘Red Headed Stranger’ being play nine million times in my house. My mom loved Willie, and I think my mom was so cool that all of a sudden I fell in love with Willie Nelson.”

Craig Morgan is on “Hotel Impossible” on the Travel Channel today.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Jason Aldean decided to see if his concert is big enough to sell out a stadium yet, and the answer is a resounding “yes.” Tickets for the August 5th concert at Columbus Ohio’s Crew Stadium are already sold out, well in advance of the show. It’s the first concert to sell out this far in advance in Crew Stadium History. Says Jason, “Columbus, Ohio, hope you’re ready to throw down with us!”

Rumors are flying that Carrie Underwood and Steven Tyler are going to do a duet for the next Aerosmith album. When asked about the truth to those rumors, Carrie is pretty coy: “I worked with him quite a bit in the past. We obviously have a great working friendship – working relationship. We look for opportunities to hang out together whenever we can. I’d never count anything out with us.”

The CMA Music Festival in Nashville is being blessed (so far, anyway!) with the best weather in recent memory. Bright blue skies, highs in the mid 80’s and not too much humidity are making for good times for the record crowd. Last night, Brad Paisley and Lady Antebellum performed at LP Field, and Brad Paisley explained the fans this way: “That’s what this festival is all about. These are the hardest core, of the hard core. They’re the people that come out – 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.” Lady A’s Charles Kelly says of the experience, “You’ll sit there and talk to them by name, give them a hug...I just can’t think of any other genre that has that kind of connection and people that come back the same time every year. You know where they’re gonna be. It’s really kind of a funny thing, you know? It’s really cool.” One of today’s highlights is a singing competition at the Caesars Entertainment Total Rewards booth in Fan Alley. The winner gets a trip to Las Vegas to see “Shania: Still the One.” Can’t be in Nashville today but still want a shot at the prize? You can enter online from June 18th through July 15th. Good luck!

Just when you thought there couldn’t be any more awards comes the 2012 Big Daddy Awards. Given out by a national prostate cancer awareness group, nominees include Keith Urban, Trace Adkins, Toby Keith, Darius Rucker, Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley. The winners will be chosen by your vote.

If you’re in or around Mobile, Alabama, be on the lookout for a movie set with a tall country star in the midst of it. Tracy Lawrence is in Mobile, filming L.A. Dirt, a move about a young man’s dream to become a champion dirt track racer. Tracy plays the role of the lad’s uncle. Filming starts Saturday and should run through the end of this month.

Jennifer Nettles is on “Duets” tonight on ABC.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Kind of a fun shift for the CMT Music Awards last night, as Brad Paisley, Eric Church and Hank Williams Jr. played their sets on an outdoor stage. It’s the first time this award show has catered to fans who couldn’t get tickets - nice move! Here’s why Toby Keith likes being at this particular show: “I got a lot of CMT Awards in my office at home. But they always put together a great show. It’s different – to me it’s not as sterile as the other award shows. It’s more hang out, hang loose and the whole night’s funner. They’ve got a wonderful package this year.” Jason Aldean feels the same way: “The CMT Awards are always one of those awards shows that are really laid back and loose and a lot of fun and to me I think they got one of the coolest trophies in all the awards shows.” And Zac Brown is even more direct: “I feel like getting to come play on that show and celebrating the kind of glimpse into country music rather than being a political side of country music – I feel like it’s a lot different. You know, I don’t feel the...I don’t feel the politics as much I guess.” 

Billy’s little girl is growing up – Miley Cyrus and her boyfriend of three years, “Hunger Games” co-star Liam Hemsworth, got engaged on May 31st. He gave her a 3.5 carat diamond ring…niiiiiiice! 

It’s now three in a row for Luke Bryan – he’s scored three platinum singles in a row off of his “Tailgates & Tanlines” cd: “Drunk on You” was just certified platinum, following “Country Girl (Shake it For Me)” and “I Don’t Want This Night to End.”

Sheryl Crow, who occasionally collaborates with country artists, just revealed that she found out six months ago there’s a brain tumor in her head. According to her doctors, it’s benign, but it has caused her some memory problems. She battled breast cancer five years ago and has been cancer-free since then.

Miranda Lambert’s next single is “Fastest Girl in Town.” This isn’t the official music video – she hasn’t made it yet – but you can hear the song here…

Love and Theft took on Las Vegas and they think they won…check out these videos and see what you think!

And this is a rock band poised to break big from Nashville. The debut single from Goodbye June has a video featuring two big fans, country star Steve Holy and St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher. The two had a blast playing the good guys/bad guys in this video…

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

The CMA Music Festival consumes Nashville for the rest of this week. It’s a very unique event – no other music format has anything like it. Eric Church describes it this way: "All year long, we go to their town, and at this time of year they're coming to mine. I can still sleep in my bed at night, and we still get to hang with the fans all day. It's a really cool thing." There will be 200 hours of live music performed by nearly 500 artists, none of whom are compensated for the shows, or for the hours spent signing autographs. All proceeds go to music education in Nashville’s public schools. Luke Bryan will be extra-busy, as the ABC crew will be following him around, filming for the behind-the-scenes special that airs in September. According to Luke, “It’s probably going to be my busiest CMA Fest ever. So we’re excited. Last year I didn’t get the chance to participate in everything, so this year I’m coming back with a big bang. It’s going to be a fun time. I’m really excited about hosting and certainly getting on stage and playing a big show for the fans.”

Carrie Underwood likes the song selection process, and she looks for something very special in each song: “Being able to hear a song and not imagining anyone else singing that song except me…that’s how you know it’s meant for you is when you hear something, and you’re just like, ‘Yep, that belongs to me. No one else. No one else would sing that.” Yep – shoe-aholic Carrie was meant to sing “you better get to gettin’ on your goodbye shoes.”

Shania Twain fans, take note: she’s promising that her show in Vegas will feature her spirit and passion in 4D. Not sure what the 4th D could be, but new shows have been added to the early 2013 calendar. Those tickets go on sale Friday. Shania’s run at Caesar’s Palace begins December first.

Country-star-studded action on your TV tonight – the CMT Music Awards air live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena at 8 Eastern. Yes, all the big stars will be there, either performing or presenting. Last year, The Band Perry won, and this year they’re nominated in the Group Video of the Year for “All Your Life.” Kimberly says, “We got to take home the CMT Award last year for New Artist video, and we’re just so excited to be nominated in this category.” Good luck to all the nominees!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Today's Country Tidbits

Kenny Chesney and his long-time record label, Sony, have come to an agreement that keeps that relationship going. Not only will they stay together, Kenny gets his own imprint – Blue Chair Records. According to Kenny, "I moved to Nashville to be a songwriter, so to have my own label imprint feels like beyond a dream come true."

Tim McGraw has a new record label – Big Machine Music – and will be releasing a new album soon. Meanwhile, he gets to try out the songs that might be on the album on the Brothers of the Sun tour audiences. “That’s one of the highlights of me doing any tour is going out and playing new music. And I look forward to that every single night, I mean—I almost want to run to the new songs when I’m onstage!” Just how big is the Kenny Chesney/Tim McGraw entourage? Check it out - 283 crew members, 20 buses, and 80 tractor-trailers are needed to carry it all around, set it up and tear it down. The vehicles will travel about 20,000 miles by the time the tour ends at the end of summer.

Dierks Bentley says that his dad was the man who taught him about country music: “My dad's my biggest influence in country music, because my dad loved country radio, so we always drove around listening to country radio – George Strait and Hank Williams and Randy Travis and all those guys. So, without him, I wouldn't be doing this, for sure.”

Today in Nashville, Jake Owen, Vince Gill, Florida Georgia Line and stellar songwriter Dallas Davidson will sing their hearts out at the 8th annual Stars for Second Harvest benefit concert at the Ryman. Road trip alert – you can probably still get there in time!

Have you paid attention to the lyrics of Chris Young’s song, “Neon?” You should – Chris explains: “The rhymes in that are so smart, and I had nothing to do with writing that song, so I can totally say that. I love the way they wrote this song. It’s like just when you think they painted themselves into a corner where there’s not a good rhyme they find out a way either around it or a really, really funny one.” Tolerate the commercial and check out the video…

Alan Jackson’s “Thirty Miles West” is out today, and he’s quick to explain the slightly strange title: “Where I grew up was on Highway 34 there outside of Newnan, Georgia and it wasn’t actually the official Dixie Highway. That’s where we came up with thirty miles...I think I’m thirty miles west of the official highway that runs through Georgia that’s called the Dixie Highway, so that’s just kind of the title that came from looking at the map and figuring out where the Dixie Highway was and all that kind of stuff.” Celebrating the album’s release, he’s on the Today show and the Late Show with David Letterman today.

Carrie Underwood’s “Good Girl” is the #1 country song this week.


Dierks Bentley lost his dad on Friday, and on Saturday he tweeted, “My Dad died yesterday. It was an honor to comfort him as he left us. Thank you fans for the time and understanding.” Dierks was scheduled to play a concert in Washington DC Saturday, and Big & Rich stepped in to cover for him. It was the first show in 10 years that Dierks missed, and he vowed to play a show in DC soon. Meanwhile, his Last Call Ball, scheduled for this Wednesday in Nashville, has been postponed, too. He’ll resume his touring schedule on June 9th in Detroit. Leon Bentley was 88. The photo is one Dierks shared via Twitter of their two hands near the end.

Throughout their career, Rascal Flatts has sold more than six million concert tickets. You might think they’ve been on stage so much that they wouldn’t have to rehearse, but you’d be wrong. They’ve been rehearsing their “Changed” tour, working out on the stage, practicing the songs from the new album and basically just trying to get back into “live” mode. “You know, when we put together the kind of show that we put together it’s kind of the same format every night. So, once you rehearse it and you know it well, you just go out and try to execute it the best you can. It’s kind of like a football player having a game plan. You just go out and try to make the plays. But, I get pumped up and high on adrenaline, really.” The tour kicks off in 12 days in Hartford Connecticut.

Lady Antebellum is excited to cap their Own the Night 2012 world tour in Australia. The last stops on the tour will be in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, with the final show in Sydney on October first.

Eric Church’s fall leg of The Blood, Sweat & Beers tour adds Justin Moore and Kip Moore (no relation). It kicks off September 13th in Amherst, MA.

Kellie Pickler is honored to be on her 5th USO tour of the Middle East, saying, “I come from a military family so I’ve always had a respect for our military men and women, but having been changes everything about you. You leave one person and you come back a different person.”

Keith Urban showed a little skin – and undies! – on Australian TV. It was an accident – he was changing position, stood up and this is what the camera captured. 

Tonight is Darius Rucker’s 3rd Annual Darius and Friends event in Nashville, raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The Wildhorse Saloon is the location and in addition to Darius, Rodney Atkins, Clint Black, Sunny Sweeney, Chuck Wicks and “surprise special guests” will all perform. 

As CMA Music Festival week nears, plans are being made for the annual ABC special, “CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock.” Luke Bryan and Kimberly Perry of The Band Perry will co-host the show, which will air September 17th.

Also in September, a really great reason for a road trip. Zac Brown Band’s Southern Ground Music & Food Festival hits Nashville September 21st and 22nd. ZBB will headline both nights and food will be available from “Cookie,” the band’s mobile kitchen. Local restaurants will also set up booths for the hordes of music and food lovers. Tickets go on sale this Thursday.