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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Brad Paisley’s "Future" is Now on "Top 20"


Brad Paisley photo by Ben Enos, courtesy of Arista Nashville.

Sept. 11, 2009 — Brad Paisley's "Welcome To The Future" video features a series of kids voicing their hope for tomorrow, and it's one of the titles on tap this weekend as Nan Kelley hosts GAC's Top 20 Country Countdown.
Brad's shown great strength in his video history with eight of his releases earning Music Video of the Year nominations from the Country Music Association. His collaboration with Keith Urban, "Start A Band," earned a ninth nomination this week when finalists for The 43rd Annual CMA Awards were announced. Brad was the leading candidate with six 2009 nominations, though the figure went up to seven when the CMA announced it had made a mistake and failed to include "Start A Band" among the finalists for Musical Event.
Brad will co-host the CMA presentation Nov. 11 with Carrie Underwood.
Top 20 Country Countdown counts down the week's top country videos from No. 20 to No. 1 as voted by viewers on each week on A new countdown premieres every Friday at 8 p.m. ET on GAC and airs again Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. ET; Sundays at 1 p.m. ET; and Mondays at 10 a.m. ET. Viewers can vote for their favorite videos, as well as purchase Top 20 artists' albums and ringtones at
Click here to preview each song on our Top 20 list and download the ones you want!
1. Luke Bryan "Do I"
2. Billy Currington "People Are Crazy"
3. Kellie Pickler "Best Days Of Your Life"
4. Keith Urban "Only You Can Love Me This Way"
5. Jason Aldean "Big Green Tractor"
6. Miranda Lambert "Dead Flowers"
7. Chris Young "Gettin' You Home"
8. Taylor Swift "You Belong With Me"
9. Toby Keith "American Ride"
10. Alan Jackson "I Still Like Bologna"
11. Due West "I Get That All The Time"
12. Martina McBride "I Just Call You Mine" 13. Brooks & Dunn "Indian Summer"
14. Lady Antebellum "I Run To You"
15. Reba McEntire "Strange"
16. George Strait "Living For The Night"
17. Brad Paisley "Welcome To The Future"
18. Caitlin & Will "Address In The Stars"
19. Sugarland "Nightswimming/Joey"
20. Gloriana "Wild At Heart"

Dierks Bentley Emphasizes Customer Service


Dierks Bentley performs at the VAULT Concert Stage at LP Field in Downtown Nashville Thursday, June 11 during the 2009 CMA Music Festival. Photographer: John Russell / CMA Provided by Country Music Association.

Sept. 11, 2009 — In the years before he got married, Dierks Bentley usually maintained the busiest road schedule of any country hitmaker. He did plenty of partying, but he also made a personal connection with his fan base, and that's one of the most important elements of his career.
"Everything we do revolves around the road and playing live shows and being in front of people, and that's why we're out so much on the road," he told the national radio show GAC Nights: Live From Nashville. "I really feel like I've met everyone who's bought one of my records. I truly feel like that. We spend so much time out there. We have such hardcore fans that sing along to every song off the record and know the whole new record by heart. I feel really blessed to get out there every nig ht and have them get up and sing these songs back to me."
Dierks is currently on Brad Paisley's American Saturday Night Tour with Jimmy Wayne. They play Texas this weekend, hitting Houston on Friday and Dallas on Saturday.

Barbara Mandrell’s Seeds Show New Growth


Barbara Mandrell photo courtesy of artist.

Sept. 11, 2009 — Barbara Mandrell spent years tending to her career, and that investment reached its full bloom in May when she took her place in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Now Barbara's sprouting new roots in other ground-breaking ways: She'll take part in the dedication of a Garden to the Stars in Nashville, and she's been named the first female member of the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame.
Barbara and Lynn Anderson will be celebrity hosts on Sept. 29 when the Nashville Music Garden is officially dedicated in Music City across from the Hall of Fame and Museum. It's the first garden to pay homage to entertainers with flowers that bear their names. The ceremony is expected to draw former Alabama guitarist Jeff Cook, Marty Raybon, Donna Fargo, Steve Holy, Ralph Emery and Patti Page, among others.
"I feel truly blessed to be part of the Nashville Music Garden," Barbara says. "The garden will both add to the beautification of Music City as well honor Nashville's best. It is so wonderful to see all of this hard work come into bloom."
Last Saturday, she took her place in the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame during a ceremony in St. Louis. Barbara learned the instrument in her pre-teen years, taught by Merle Haggard musician Norm Hamlet. It got her on the road within just a few years with the Johnny Cash show, where she shared a room with Patsy Cline. Even after she became a headliner, Barbara put her steel work to use, often playing it along with six other instruments on a single song during her performances.

Vince Gill Honored by Peers


Vince Gill photo courtesy of MCA Nashville.

September 11, 2009 — Vince Gill is one of the most talented and respected artists in country music — and on Sept. 9 the Recording Academy showed him by making Vince the first artist to be honored at their inaugural "Grammy Salute to Country Music."
Alison Krauss, Brad Paisley, Amy Grant and many others paid tribute to Vince by performing his songs. The Tennessean reported that Alison sang Vince's "These Days," while Brad did "Tryin' To Get Over You" and "Oklahoma Borderline."
Brad told Dial-Global that he was 11 when he first met Vince at a Steve Wariner concert.
"[Vince] was the opening act with a new song called 'Turn Me Loose,' which had great guitar playing, and it had a great melody, and I remember thinking, 'This is the kind of guy that I want to be like,'" he says. "And our friendship continued after that. I got to know him five years later or so when I became a teenager and got to meet him at a few more shows. [I]20dearly love him. He's fantastic. I say was, but he is Mr. Country Music. For all of the '90s ? it's like, so you wanna know what country music is? Well, go pick up his album. Any one of them. Listen to it. That's him on the guitar, that him singing it, he wrote it. That's what we're capable of. And that's really who he is."
Vince was honored to be selected by the Recording Academy, but in his typical humbleness, he told The Tennessean he wasn't sure that they picked the right honoree.
"I thought that Alison (Krauss) would have been a better choice," he told reporters before the ceremony Wednesday night at the Loveless Barn in Nashville.
"She's won more Grammys than I have," he added. "I've won a lot, but she's won a lot more. But she's a kid, so there's plenty of time for her."
Also tipping their hats to Vince were his wife, Amy Grant, his daughter, Jenny Gill, and actor/comedian/musician, Steve Martin.

Keith Urban, Randy Houser Among Thankful CMA Nominees


Randy Houser photo courtesy of Universal Records South.

Sept. 10, 2009 — When the Country Music Association unveiled its annual slate of awards nominees on Wednesday, the news made a lot of artists happy. Randy Houser, Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift earn their living by singing, but they shifted into talking mode after they heard they were finalists in "The 43rd Annual CMA Awards", slated for Nov. 11. Taylor even filmed herself receiving the happy news.
Among the reactions from CMA nominees:
Randy Houser: "It's just really good to figure out that somebody actually gives a crap," he told told the national radio show GAC Nights: Live From Nashville. "For all of us, it's like a little bit of 'Hey, come home and we're gonna pat you on the back.' So it lets us know that we been doin' somethin' right, and that's what we care about."
Taylo r Swift: "I am jumping up and down surrounded by dogs and my mom and screaming like it's Christmas morning," she tweeted. "I'll never forget this." Click here to see her reaction!
Kenny Chesney: "The more you do this, the more those nominations mean. You realize what it takes to receive an honor like this — especially from your peers who make it happen and know the work and commitment it takes. You've got to be humbled knowing what you do is recognized."
Darius Rucker: "Everything with this record has been wild, and this really caps the year we've had."
Keith Urban: "This is absolutely awe inspiring. I've never loved playing music as much as I have this year. The response to the new album has been divine and, given the crazy times we're in, the celebratory atmosphere and positive energy night after night on this particular tour has been nothing short of a miracle... and we're not even done yet!"
Lady Antebellum: "Being halfway around the world and hearing that we got two CMA nominations is totally surreal," Charles Kelley said from Switzerland. "We're so far from home, but we're also really connected to Nashville because there are so many fans over here who absolutely love country music. Being in the Group of the Year category is just unbelievable because we feel like we're only getting started. We honestly will never get used to seeing our name in the same category as the Eagles or Rascal Flatts."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Brad Paisley Turns CMA Noms Upside Down


Brad Paisley photo by David McClister, courtesy of Arista Nashville.

Sept. 9, 2009 — The number "9" is just a "6" flipped 180 degrees, and Brad Paisley is certainly turning flips with Wednesday's unveiling of the finalists for the 43rd annual Country Music Association Awards. Announced on Sept. 9 — 9/9/09 — Brad showed up 6 times on the list. His haul included his fifth straight nomination for Entertainer of the Year and his ninth in 10 years for Male Vocalist.
Set to co-host the awards on ABC with Carrie Underwood on Nov. 11, Brad also secured a spot in the finalists for Single and Song with his ballad, "Then"; earned an Album nomination with American Saturday Night; and shared a Vocal Event slot with Keith Urban for "Start A Band."
Brad might be at the head of the class, but he was hardly the only one to receive good grades. Keith, Jamey Johnson, George Strait, Zac Brown and Taylor Swift snatched four nominations apiece. Kenny Chesney was a triple nominee, while two-time nomin ees include Darius Rucker (who co-hosted the nominations announcement on ABC with Lee Ann Womack), Carrie Underwood, Mac McAnally, Randy Travis, Reba McEntire, Randy Houser, Lady Antebellum, Brooks & Dunn and Sugarland.
In addition, "People Are Crazy" picked up a pair of nominations. Billy Currington and co-producer Carson Chamberlain claimed a Single of the Year nod, and songwriters Bobby Braddock and Troy Jones were tabbed for Song of the Year.
Darius, who first made his mark with Hootie + The Blowfish, was one of numerous first-time CMA finalists. Other artists who are newbies on the slate include Randy Houser, the Zac Brown Band, the Raconteurs, Ashley Monroe, Joey+Rory and Jake Owen.
It "feels," Darius said, "like I'm part of the family now."
Brad is part of an elite family now. With his six nominations, he's amassed 48 total in his career, passing Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard to tie Reba McEntire for the fifth most in CMA history. Ahead of them on the all-time nominee list: Brooks & Dunn, 49; Vince Gill, 51; and George Strait and Alan Jackson, tied at No. 1 with 79.
Click here for a complete list of nominees!

Lucinda Williams Married to Her Music


Lucinda Williams photo by Alan Messer, courtesy of Lost Highway.

Sept. 9, 2009 — With three Grammy Awards to her credit, Lucinda Williams ranks among the top artists in Americana music, and she's got an unusual concert plan slated this month for the night after the annual Americana Honors & Awards.
Lucinda is set to marry Tom Overby on stage during a concert Sept. 18 at First Avenue in Minneapolis, The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. Tom is originally from the Twin Cities area, though he and Lucinda both currently live in Los Angeles. They'll tie the knot at the end of her regular set before she delivers the encore. It's an appropriate way for them to make their commitment: Tom is Lucinda's manager, and he co-produced her latest album, Little Honey.
"We've had a lot of awesome shows with Lucinda over the years," First Avenue booking agent Nate Kranz told The Star Tribune, "but this one will probably be the most memorable."
Lucinda's Gramm ys include a Best Country Song honor for writing the Mary Chapin Carpenter hit "Passionate Kisses," as well as an award for Best Contemporary Folk Album for Car Wheels On A Gravel Road, cited by Entertainment Weekly in 2008 as one of the 100 best albums of the last 25 years in any genre.
Given her impending nuptials, it's understandable that Lucinda's not been announced to appear during the 10th annual Americana Music Festival & Conference that same week in Nashville. The festival's main event is Sept. 17, when the Americana Music Association Honors & Awards are handed out. Buddy Miller is nominated five times. Others who received two or more nominations include Justin Townes Earle, Julie Miller, Alejandro Escovedo, the Flatlanders, Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson.

Jimmy Wayne Finally Releases "Sara Smile"


Jimmy Wayne (l) performs with John Oates at a BMI party celebrating Jimmy's 2008 No. 1 single, "Do You Believe Me Now." Photo by Alan Mayor, courtesy of BMI.

September 8, 2009 — Jimmy Wayne got his first record deal because of the Hall & Oates 1976 classic, "Sara Smile," after then-Dreamworks executive Scott Borchetta heard him sing it. He performs it in concert but he's never recorded it — until now.
Jimmy's label, Valory Music Co., announced he's not only recorded the soulful ballad, he's joined by none other than Darryl Hall and John Oates. "'Sara Smile' has been my shield and my sword," says Jimmy. "Over 13 yrs ago, I picked a Hall & Oates Greatest Hits CD out of a bargain box that sat outside the department store in the old Gaston Mall in Gastonia, North Carolina. I listened to the CD on my way home and I heard 'Sara Smile' for the first time. I began singing this song long before I knew how to play it on guitar and I just felt like it was as if the song was written for me.
"Now, finally, I can't wait for the world to finally hear my version of 'Sara Smile'. And it makes it extra special that John and Daryl agreed to be part of this version!"
Listen for the single on radio in the coming weeks. Click here to watch Jimmy sing "Sara Smile" live on 92.3 KRST in Albuquerque, NM on April 14, 2008.

Tim McGraw, Daughtry Scheduled for Andre Agassi's Charity Concert

September 9, 2009
Tim McGraw and Daughtry are among the musical acts scheduled to perform at tennis legend Andre Agassi's 14th annual Grand Slam for Children concert set for Sept. 26 at Wynn Las Vegas, a hotel, casino and resort. Dane Cook and Brian McKnight will also perform at the charity concert featuring musical director David Foster. The event, which has raised almost $75 million since 1995, supports the Andre Agassi Foundation and the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas.

Randy Houser Is "Freaked Out" by Multiple CMA Nominations

September 9, 2009
When singer-songwriter Randy Houser first heard he was nominated for two CMA Awards -- for new artist and music video -- he admits, "It pretty much freaked me out." The nominations for the 43rd annual awards were announced Wednesday (Sept. 9). While pleased that "Boots On" received the music video nomination, Houser tells he's especially honored by being in the new artist category with Jamey Johnson, Jake Owen, Darius Rucker and the Zac Brown Band. "All of them are buddies of mine," Houser said. "There's a lot of mutual respect going on. ... It's a really tight category, and I don't know what kind of shot I have. There's a lot of those guys that had big, big years, and I'm kind of just getting started." He said he was surprised by the new artist nomination. "I knew I had made it through two rounds because being a CMA member, I get to vote for myself," he laughed. "But a lot can happen between then and now." Houser and Jamey Johnson will be co-headlining shows as part of CMT on Tour beginning Oct. 8.

Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney Reflect on Their CMA Nominations

Lady Antebellum and Darius Rucker Are Also Among This Year's Nominees
Between Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum and Darius Rucker, there's wide range of experience with awards shows. And all are grateful for the attention they received when the nominations for the 43rd annual CMA Awards were announced Wednesday (Sept. 9).

Urban received four nominations, including entertainer of the year and male vocalist. In addition his album of the year nomination for Defying Gravity, he and Brad Paisley share a video of the year nomination for "Start a Band."

"This is absolutely awe inspiring," Urban said. "I've never loved playing music as much as I have this year. The response to the new album has been divine and, given the crazy times we're in, the celebratory atmosphere and positive energy night after night on this particular tour has been nothing short of a miracle ... and we're not even done yet."

Chesney, whose CMA collection includes four trophies for entertainer of the year, is nominated for the honor again this year in a category with Brad Paisley, George Strait,
Taylor Swift and Keith Urban. He's also nominated in the male vocalist division, and his collaboration with singer-songwriter Mac McAnally on "Down the Road" is nominated for musical event of the year.

"The more you do this, the more those nominations mean," Chesney said. "You realize what it takes to receive an honor like this -- especially from your peers who make it happen and know the work and commitment it takes. You've got to be humbled knowing what you do is recognized."

The members of Lady Antebellum learned of their two nominations after arriving in Gstaad, Switzerland, for performances taking place Friday and Saturday (Sept. 11-12) at the Country Night Gstaad music festival. After winning the CMA's new artist award last year, they're now nominated for group of the year and single of the year for "I Run to You."

"Being halfway around the world and hearing that we got two CMA nominations is totally surreal," said band member Charles Kelley. "We're so far from home, but we're also really connected to Nashville because there are so many fans over here who absolutely love country music. Being in the group of the year category is just unbelievable because we feel like we're only getting started. We still have so much to write about and say and do as artists. We honestly will never get used to seeing our name in the same category as the Eagles or Rascal Flatts."

Prior to Rucker's successful transition to mainstream country music, his tenure as lead vocalist for Hootie & the Blowfish included the band's 1994 debut album, Cracked Rear View, which eventually sold 16 million copies. After scoring a series of No. 1 country singles from his country album, Learn to Live, Rucker has now received CMA nominations for new artist and top male vocalist.

"Everything with this record has been wild, and this really caps the year we've had with these two honors," Rucker said.

This year's CMA Awards show takes place Nov. 11 at Nashville's Sommet Center and will be broadcast on ABC.

Brad Paisley Leads List of CMA Nominees

Nominations Announced in New York and Nashville
Brad Paisley
Brad Paisley
With six nominations, Brad Paisley emerged as the frontrunner when the nominees for the 43rd annual CMA Awards were announced Wednesday (Sept. 9) in New York and Nashville. Keith Urban, Jamey Johnson, George Strait, Taylor Swift and Zac Brown each received four nominations.

Darius Rucker and Lee Ann Womack announced the final nominees in five of the 12 categories during a telecast Good Morning America at the ABC News studios in New York's Times Square. Randy Houser announced the candidates in the other categories at CMT's studios in Nashville on Insider Special Edition: 2009 CMA Awards Nominations, hosted by CMT personalities Cody Alan and Alecia Davis.

Rucker, once primarily known as the lead vocalist for Hootie & the Blowfish, picked up his first CMA nominations as a solo country artist. He's nominated in the new artist and male vocalist categories. Womack and Strait share a nomination for musical event of the year for "Everything but Quits," a duet featured on her Call Me Crazy album.

In addition to nominations for entertainer of the year and male vocalist, Paisley received an album of the year nomination for American Saturday Night and single and song of the year nominations for "Then," the single he co-wrote with Chris DuBois and Ashley Gorley. Paisley's collaboration with Keith Urban on "Start a Band" netted a music video of the year nomination for them and director Jim Shea.

Urban's other nominations include entertainer of the year, male vocalist and album of the year (for Defying Gravity). Urban could potentially win a second trophy in the album of the year category for co-producing the project with Dann Huff.

Strait also received nominations for entertainer of the year and male vocalist, along with music video of the year for "Troubadour," directed by Trey Fanjoy. Strait and Womack won the CMA's musical event honor in 2005 for their collaboration on "Good News, Bad News."

Swift's four nominations include her first for the coveted entertainer of the year prize. She is also nominated for female vocalist and music video of the year (the latter for "Love Story," directed by Fanjoy.) Aside from an artist nomination in the album of the year field, Swift could receive a second trophy for co-producing Fearless with Nathan Chapman.

Johnson, a new artist nominee, is also up for single and song of the year for "In Color" and album of the year for That Lonesome Song. He won a CMA song of the year award in 2007 for his work with co-writers Bill Anderson and Buddy Cannon on Strait's hit, "Give It Away."

Brown received his first CMA nominations Wednesday. The Zac Brown Band is included in the new artist and vocal group categories. The band's hit single, "Chicken Fried," is nominated for single of the year, and Brown garnered an extra nomination for co-writing the song with Wyatt Durrette.

This year's CMA Awards will be broadcast live Nov. 11 from Nashville's Sommet Center. Paisley and Carrie Underwood will return for a second year to host the ABC telecast.

Here's a complete list of the nominees for the 2009 CMA Awards:

Entertainer of the Year
Kenny Chesney
Brad Paisley
George Strait
Taylor Swift
Keith Urban

Female Vocalist
Miranda Lambert
Martina McBride
Reba McEntire
Taylor Swift
Carrie Underwood

Male Vocalist
Kenny Chesney
Brad Paisley
Darius Rucker
George Strait
Keith Urban

New Artist
Randy Houser
Jamey Johnson
Jake Owen
Darius Rucker
Zac Brown Band

Vocal Group
Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Rascal Flatts
Zac Brown Band

Vocal Duo
Big & Rich
Brooks & Dunn
Joey & Rory
Montgomery Gentry

Single of the Year
(Award goes to artist and producer.)
"Chicken Fried"
Zac Brown Band
Producer: Keith Stegall
Atlantic Records

"I Run to You"
Lady Antebellum
Producers: Victoria Shaw and Paul Worley
Capitol Records Nashville

"In Color"
Jamey Johnson
Producers: The Kent Hardly Playboys
Mercury Nashville

"People Are Crazy"
Billy Currington
Producers: Carson Chamberlain and Billy Currington
Mercury Nashville

Brad Paisley
Producers: Frank Rogers and Chris DuBois
Arista Nashville

Album of the Year
(Award goes to artist and producer.)
American Saturday Night
Brad Paisley
Producers: Frank Rogers and Chris DuBois
Arista Nashville

Defying Gravity
Keith Urban
Producers: Dann Huff and Keith Urban
Capitol Records Nashville

Taylor Swift
Producers: Nathan Chapman and Taylor Swift
Big Machine Records

Love on the Inside
Producers: Byron Gallimore, Kristian Bush and Jennifer Nettles
Mercury Nashville

That Lonesome Song
Jamey Johnson
Producers: The Kent Hardly Playboys
Mercury Nashville

Song of the Year
(Award goes to songwriters.)
"Chicken Fried"
Songwriters: Zac Brown and Wyatt Durette

"I Told You So"
Songwriter: Randy Travis

"In Color"
Songwriters: Jamey Johnson, Lee Thomas Miller and James Otto

"People Are Crazy"
Songwriters: Bobby Braddock and Troy Jones

Songwriters: Brad Paisley, Chris DuBois and Ashley Gorley

Musical Event
(Award goes to each artist.)
"Cowgirls Don't Cry"
Brooks & Dunn featuring Reba McEntire
Arista Nashville

"Down the Road"
Kenny Chesney (with Mac McAnally)
Blue Chair Records, BNA Records

"Everything But Quits"
Lee Ann Womack (duet with George Strait)
MCA Records

"I Told You So"
Carrie Underwood featuring Randy Travis
19 Recordings/Arista

"Old Enough"
The Raconteurs featuring Ricky Skaggs and Ashley Monroe
Third Man Records, Warner Bros. Records

Music Video
(Award goes to artist and director.)
"Boots On"
Randy Houser
Director: Eric Welch

"Love Story"
Taylor Swift
Director: Trey Fanjoy

"People Are Crazy"
Billy Currington
Directors: The Brads

"Start a Band"
Brad Paisley (duet with Keith Urban)
Directors: Jim Shea

George Strait
Director: Trey Fanjoy

Musician of the Year
Eddie Bayers -- drums
Paul Franklin -- steel guitar
Dann Huff -- guitar
Brent Mason -- guitar
Mac McAnally -- guitar

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Rascal Flatts, Steve Wariner Confirmed to Appear at Musicians Hall of Fame Awards

September 8, 2009
Rascal Flatts and Steve Wariner will appear during the third annual Musicians Hall of Fame Awards Show taking place Oct. 12 at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in downtown Nashville. Others confirmed to appear at the show are Al Jardine of the Beach Boys and Gary Puckett of the Union Gap. This year's Musicians Hall of Fame inductees include Charlie Daniels, surf guitarist Dick Dale, bassist Billy Cox (best known for his work with Jimi Hendrix in the Band of Gypsies), record producer Fred Foster, arranger Paul Riser and members of the band, Toto. The late Chet Atkins and Los Angeles session musician Victor Feldman will be inducted posthumously.

Taylor Swift's Album Sales Top 10 Million

September 8, 2009
Taylor Swift's worldwide album sales have now surpassed 10 million copies, her publicist announced Tuesday (Sept. 8). The figure reflects combined U.S. sales for Taylor Swift, Fearless and two limited edition releases, Beautiful Eyes and The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection along with international sales of Taylor Swift and Fearless. Her albums have achieved gold and platinum certifications in 14 nations. Additionally, Swift has also sold more than 20 million paid song downloads, more than any artist in country music history.

Keith Urban Plans Another All for the Hall Fundraiser in 2010

September 8, 2009
After selling out an Oct. 13 concert to benefit the Country Music Hall of Fame's All for the Hall project, Keith Urban plans to host a similar fundraising show sometime next year. Urban and Vince Gill will co-host next month's concert that also features Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley, Faith Hill, Jason Aldean, Little Big Town and Lady Antebellum. All of the $25 tickets to the show at the Sommet Center in Nashville sold out shortly after going on sale last week. Still available are VIP tickets priced at $1,000 and $2,500 that include prime seats to the concert and an array of extras including a private dinner at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, a post-concert party and a commemorative poster signed by Urban. "We are overwhelmed and truly grateful for the support that everyone is giving the All for the Hall benefit for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum," Urban said in a press release. "We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your generosity. Given the response, we are thrilled to announce that we will absolutely be doing this again next year."

Brooks & Dunn Will Leave a Rich Video Legacy

Duo Has Worn Its Emotions as a Badge of Honor
Brooks & Dunn
Brooks & Dunn
Editor's note: Brooks & Dunn's new compilation album, #1's ... And Then Some, was released Tuesday (Sept. 8).

How do those guys stay so young? And so thin? If Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn aren't wearing the same size jeans they donned at the outset of their career together, then they have the best photographers in the business.

Those of us who've watched Brooks & Dunn mushroom into one of the most potent forces in country music grieve to hear they've decided to split up after next year's tour. But they leave a sparkling legacy of music videos, 39 of which you can savor at

Picking the "best" one of these is like picking your favorite strand of pasta in a plate of spaghetti, which is to say they're all pretty good. So what we've done here is simply focus on a sampling from the duo's beginning, middle and (sigh!) what seems to be part of the final phases. In doing so, we've almost certainly ignored your own personal favorites. Please feel free to revile and belittle us for that oversight. (View all of the videos.)

"My Next Broken Heart" (1991) -- To the degree that they fall into character types in their videos, Dunn is usually the raw emotional nerve and Brooks the supportive buddy. Here, Dunn sprawls on a couch, staring at a rodeo on TV and feeling sorry for himself for having been dumped. Brooks rousts him out, takes him to a honky-tonk and shoves him back into the dating game. Lots of fun and great lyrics.

"Boot Scootin' Boogie" (1992) -- This is basically a performance video that announces Brooks & Dunn have arrived. Dressed sharply and playing to a packed club audience, they sing in front of a large Brooks & Dunn logo that would become their trademark.

"Lost and Found" (1992) -- Brooks sings the lead on this one as he and Dunn edge their way through the crowded streets of a Mexican border town, looking for the elusive femme fatale that has to be somewhere close by. Infested with colorful characters.

"Rock My World (Little Country Girl)" (1993) -- "World" is the key word here, what with the wide-open spaces, space shots and maps. But the most prominent single element is the Brooks & Dunn stylized cow skull that seems to take on a life of its own.

"A Man This Lonely" (1996) -- To emphasize loneliness, they're the only people who appear in this video. The background appears to be an empty fort on an otherwise barren desert. Dunn looks as forlorn as the lyrics suggest.

"If You See Him/If You See Her" (1998) -- Brooks is the common shoulder Reba McEntire and Dunn alternately cry on. Each wants to convey through him a message of conciliation to the other. But in the end, each chickens out and tells Brooks to keep their laments to himself, thus leaving him with the burden of realizing what might have been. The only puzzling thing about the video is the scene in which Brooks sits and plays a grand piano. Maybe it's because the emotions have reached an operatic level.

"Missing You" (1999) -- If you thought "A Man This Lonely" was desolate, you ought to check this one out. As Dunn stands unconnected in a phone booth, a stripper, a bartender and other creatures of the night stare vacantly into the darkness. For them, something is clearly missing.

"Proud of the House We Built" (2007) -- In this tribute to domestic endurance, B&D and their band play in an open field as couples of all ages stream in around them, each carrying a banner that signifies their uniqueness. Together, the banners coalesce into a colorful wall.

"Cowgirls Don't Cry" (2008) -- Reba returns to B&D territory to play the role of a woman whose father had taught her to be tough as a rider and who now must be even tougher as the divorced mother of a young daughter. The two members of the duo are the strolling minstrels who chronicle this activity.

"Indian Summer" ( 2009) -- A bittersweet song and video for a bittersweet time Brooks & Dunn's trajectory. It's the classic story of the football player, the cheerleader and the unplanned pregnancy that ensues. She tells him she's leaving town, and he impulsively agrees to go with her. But he doesn't. So she moves from their little "dust bowl town" to the beaches of California, there to bear and raise their child. The footballer is left with only the fleeting glory of his last touchdown. Brooks & Dunn are strictly peripheral presences here.

But, man, do they look thin!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Reba Finds the Fountain of Youth Through Family and Groceries!

At 54, Reba McEntire certainly does not look her age ... nor feel it! The fresh-faced, vivacious singer says her secret to staying young is not Botox or plastic surgery, it's simply the company she keeps.

"I don't feel 54 years old. I'm still at 36!" Reba tells The Boot. "I tell my nieces who are in their 20s and 30s, 'I feel so right to hang out with you guys, because I don't feel there's such an age gap between us.' They keep me young, they keep me active. They keep me up to date with all the tech stuff -- they let me see their playlists on their iPods and such."

Reba works hard to keep in great physical shape, but says keeping in good mental shape also requires some exercise. "I always try to make my mind work," she says. "I even go to a different grocery store, because you get trained. Walk down that aisle, you know where the Cheerios are; walk down this aisle, you know where the milk is. You've gotta stop that! I won't go to the same gas station. I want to have to make myself figure the new machine out, and it's very frustrating. It will take me a good 10 minutes extra to get my stuff done, but I think it's good for your brain."

Reba is celebrating two weeks and counting at the top of the country albums charts with her first new solo album in six years, 'Keep on Loving You.'

Lady Antebellum Roots for Competition


Lady Antebellum photo courtesy of Capitol Nashville.

Sept. 8, 2009 — When the new chart numbers come out every week, Lady Antebellum is invested in what's happening with the band's new single, "Need You Now."
But that's not the only song Charles Kelley, Dave Haywood and Hillary Scott are interested in. They're also checking out the progress of Capitol labelmate Luke Bryan's "Do I" — and for good reason. Charles and Dave co-wrote the song with Luke, and Hillary is a background vocalist on it.
"When we first moved to Nashville, Dave and I, we honestly got to the point where we just wanted to write songs," Charles told the national radio show GAC Nights: Live From Nashville. "I love writing. I love waking up around 10, write a song, eat some lunch, finish the song, and then you're done with your day. It's like, what a great life. [Songwriters] have the best lives ever. Our whole dream when we first moved to Nashville was to hear another artist sing a song that we penned, to hear a song on the radio that someone sang that you're a big fan of, and Luke — we've become just huge buddies. So we're excited. It's a lot of fun for us to watch that move up the charts, and I just think he sounds awesome on it. And I'm hoping it just shoves its way along, right up to the top."
The video already has. "Do I" ranked No. 1 on GAC's Top 20 Country Countdown each of the last two weeks. A new episode debuts Friday at 8 p.m. ET.

Jason Aldean’s Career Opens Up


Jason Aldean performs at the VAULT Concert Stage at LP Field in Downtown Nashville Friday, June 12 during the 2009 CMA Music Festival. Photographer: John Russell / CMA.

Sept. 8, 2009 — When Jason Aldean debuted "She's Country" during last year's edition of the Country Music Association Awards, he had no idea how big an impact the song would have on his career.
The exposure on a national television was great, but the continued reaction by fans was overwhelming as the song whipped its way to No. 1 on the national charts. It wasn't the first time Jason had reached the top, but he'd never had a song that influenced his fan base so visibly.
"It just goes to show you what having one big song can do for you," he told The Bend Bulletin, of Oregon. "People are kind of aware of you, and then all of a sudden you have that one song that everybody knows, and all of a sudden it puts you on the map. So it's been a little strange. Our crowds have20gone from 2,500 or 3,000 to 6,000 or 8,000 and just in the span of the last six months. That's something that's hard not to notice."
"It's Country" was hard not to notice, as well. The distorted power chords owe more to AC/DC than to Merle Haggard, and the hard-rock feel made the single stand out on radio. It wasn't a huge stylistic leap for Jason, who's been known to do Guns N' Roses songs in his concerts, but it underscored his willingness to push the envelope within the genre.
"The writers said, 'You know, we wrote this song and ... we knew the only chance we had of getting it cut was Jason Aldean,'" he noted. "I like that. [I] like the fact that we're not scared to go out and try new things, man. Music's music. It's meant to be fun. It's meant to be experimented with. And I'm glad that we've kind of carved out a little niche for ourselves where people think of us that way, almost like we're not scared to do anything."
Jason's Wide Open album has since yielded another No. 1 single, "Big Green Tractor," and he'll be singing both of those songs as tours the Northwest this weekend. He plays Bend, Ore., on Thursday; Puyallup, Wash., on Friday; Butte, Mont., on Saturday; and Worley, Idaho, on Sunday.

Terri Clark Values Mom’s Presence


Terri Clark at the 2006 Canadian Country Music Awards

Sept. 8, 2009 — When Terri Clark takes her seat at the Canadian Country Music Association Awards on Sunday, her mother, Linda, will be attending with her. As a result, whether Terri claims the Female Artist of the Year or not, she'll feel like a winner.
Linda has battled cancer for two years. Every moment with her mom now feels like a milestone for Terri.
"I didn't know whether she was going to get to go to another one of those" awards shows, Terri told Sun Media. "It's just a really wonderful moment to get to share with her again because she's been such a huge part of the inspiration behind everything I'm doing now and everything I've done up until now. We've been this little team, and it's just going to be great to have her there, really."
Terri's slated to appear on the show in Vancouver along with Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, Emerson Drive, Crystal Shawanda, Richard Marx, Paul Brandt and Jann Arden, among others .
Meanwhile, the Country Music Association in the U.S. will unveil its own annual awards nominees Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning, America." Darius Rucker and Lee Ann Womack will announce the finalists in select categories at 8:30 a.m. ET from Times Square in New York.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Reba Returns to Her Prime Passion

Who says tweens rule the music industry? The force to be reckoned with in country music these days is a vivacious, 54-year-old entertainer who's been in the business for 33 years. Reba McEntire topped both the country and all-genre albums charts with her latest release, 'Keep on Loving You,' breaking the record for the most chart-topping CDs by any female country artist in history, and bringing her career record sales to more than 55 million.

Reba visited The Boot's studios on a whirlwind media tour. After her flawless performance of four new songs, we sat down with the country icon to talk about the new project, marriage and motherhood secrets, and why you probably won't ever hear her singing at a wedding.

You've already conquered the music world, so what do you have to prove with this new record?

I have nothing to prove with this album. I did this album because I love to sing. I love the music business. I love and appreciate songwriters so much, and I love my fans.

And you've dedicated 'Keep on Loving You' to those fans.

They've been with me through thick and thin ... through performing on Broadway in New York, doing the 'Reba' TV show, with music. They have followed me all the way around the world. So I want to dedicate this to the fans: I'll keep on loving you.

How have you managed to stay connected to your older fans, who've been with you through 31 albums, while also scoring a sea of new, younger fans?

Staying involved! Today is so much different than my solo album six years ago. Technology has just flown. I have to hang around my nieces and my son and say, 'What is this? Explain this to me.' I'm not a technical person, but I'm getting into it. I love to "Tweet" [send messages via Twitter]. I love my "Tweebas!" I like to get on and see what they're saying back to me. What just blows my mind is how we can communicate so much better than we did when I started in this business.

How have you changed in the six years since you put out your last solo album?

You learn not to sweat the small stuff, and I'm more comfortable in my own skin. I love what I'm doing. My family is happy and healthy. I'm happier now than I've ever been in my life.

When you got the word that 'Strange' was the fastest-rising single of your career, were you surprised? Or are all these accolades just old hat by now?

[pointing to her microphone] Well, I would kill the sound man if I did what I did when I found out! [mocks cheering loudly] I was jumping around, high-fiving everybody. Thrilled! Valory Music Company and Starstruck Records are my new record labels, so to have that enthusiasm with these people. [Valory Music President] Scott Borchetta and I worked together over at MCA Records, along with his team, so it's like a family reunion. Everybody's back together having fun.

So many songs on this album and throughout your career have had a female empowerment message. Is that something you set out to do with each record?

I don't set out for it, they're the ones I gravitate to. I like strong women songs. They're important, they help give direction to women.

You're one of only a handful of women in country music history who've won the industry's biggest honor, CMA Entertainer of the Year. Do you think female country artists have a tougher time than males?

I think women have a tougher time with anything! Not only in music. We've come a long way, and we've got a longer way to work on it. I came from a man's world, working on a working cattle ranch when I grew up. Then when I came in the music business, I just new I had to work harder. That's just the way it is. I don't bitch about it, I just go do the work harder, and hopefully it pays off.

If you do the math, the heartache songs way outnumber the love songs on this album.


But you've been happily married for 20 years. What's the secret to conveying sincerity on a subject matter that you're not necessarily living?

People come to me and say, "I want to do a happy love song ... a love song for my wedding." And I say, "Well good luck finding one with me!" For the longest time, I wasn't attracted to love songs. They're sappy. The hardcore country songs are sad songs, breakup songs. So that's what I always did. I gravitate to the sad songs.

One beautiful sad song on this album is 'She's Turning 50 Today,' which you co-wrote. What's the story behind it?

I started writing that song when I turned 50, and I wrote the first two lines: "Her husband left on Saturday for a woman that was half her age." And that was all I got! So I sent it to Liz Hengber, who's written lots of my songs, and then she got Tommy Lee James -- who's a great songwriter also -- to help her finish the song. We got it to where it was more personable, about my time leaving Stringtown, Okla., after my first divorce. My only divorce, I should say! [laughs] It wasn't my thirtieth!

Stealing a line from your song, '8 Crazy Hours (in the Story of Love),' how do you answer the question, "Should I be more friend than Mom?"

That's hard, being more friend than mom. I've had to tell Shelby several times, "I'm not your buddy. That's not my job; my job is to protect you, teach you, so that when you go out into the world, I can sleep at night!" Being buddy up to a line is OK, but mainly that's not our job.

Who do you turn to when you need an honest, perhaps brutal, opinion about something?

[My husband] Narvel Blackstock. Narvel loves me, respects me, he's my buddy. If I want a straight answer, that's Narvel.

Congratulations on your recent 20th wedding anniversary! What's your secret to staying so happy together after all these years?

Stay away from each other a lot! [laughs] No, I'm just kidding. Narvel and I have been working together since 1980, and he has a knack of thinking things up. He's a great ideas man. He became my tour manager, and our show grew -- we started putting risers on the stage when I couldn't afford it. That's what Narvel would do, come up with ideas. In 1988, I made him my manager, and then we got married in '89, had [our son] Shelby in '90, and it's just been one great year after the other. I highly respect him, love him and [we have] great communication. I was not a good a communicator when we first got married. I would sull up and wouldn't talk to him. And he would say, "Alright, what's the deal?" [mocks crying] I said, "You didn't remember three years ago ..." He said, "That's it? That's the problem?" And when you say stuff, you go, "That was really silly; that wasn't that big a deal." So what I've learned is when you're mad, get it off your chest. Say it then, because once you say it, it's not that big a deal.

So what does make you mad? You always seem to be in such a great mood.

Rude people tick me off. I don't like egos. My sister, Alice, always said, when people brag, "Oh aren't you proud of Reba? Reba's this ... Reba's that ..." She says, "Reba's just like us. She just happens to sing better than some." And I thought that put it on such an understandable level for everyone. We've got to have our heroes, but we've got to realize that they're just people. Idealize their talent, not them.

So many people all over the world idealize you. So do you ever miss your anonymity?

I don't. Doing the 'Reba' TV show opened the flood gates on me being so recognizable. We're on TV four times a day, five days a week. So people will come up to me and act like they know me. I understand that, because I've done that to people I've seen on television before! I've run up and hugged their neck, and they'll say, "Have we met before?" I say, "No ... oh my God, I don't think we have! But I thought I knew you, because I saw you on TV every week." That familiarity makes me more accessible to people, and I understand that, because I've done it myself!

Everyone in our studio keeps commenting today on how beautiful and young you look. What is your secret to looking 40 at 54?

I don't feel 54 years old. I'm still at 36! I always try to make my mind work. I even go to a different grocery store, because you get trained. Walk down that aisle, you know where the Cheerios are; walk down this aisle, you know where the milk is. You've got to stop that! I won't go to the same gas station. I want to have to make myself figure the new machine out, and it's very frustrating. It will take me a good 10 minutes extra to get my stuff done, but I think it's good for your brain to do that.

Put these in order of priority: wife, mother, recording artist, actress.

Mother first, wife second, and the rest just follow.

Would you ever do another sitcom?

I am reading some scripts. I've got two that are interesting. But we have no idea if they'll ever come to fruition. So we're not really worried about it right now. We're focusing on the music. We had a wonderful time on Broadway and on the television show, and if anything comes along that touches my heart, like playing Annie Oakley in 'Annie Get Your Gun' or being Reba in the 'Reba' TV show did, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

You have been doing a ton of press lately, but let's face it -- you could put out a No. 1 album without doing any of this. Why do you choose to work just as hard as if you were a brand-new artist?

I won't take any chances. "What if ....? How many more [CDs] would have sold if I'd done one more interview?" We ran hard in the '90s, as fast as you can go. And we didn't look back; we were looking forward all the time. It's good to sit on the porch swing and read a book for a day or two, to be with the family and to really savor all the beautiful things in life. And then when you go back to work, you go at it with a passion. That's what I have done with this album, and it's fun to be back talking about my passion for music! I thoroughly enjoy it. I probably won't next week [laughs], but right now I do!

What's the secret to longevity in the music business?

Good songs and hard work. If you don't have either one of those, stay home.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Jack Ingram Goes "Barefoot" on "Top 20"


Jack Ingram photo by Glen Rose, courtesy of Big Machine Records.

Sept. 4, 2009 — Jack Ingram is currently lodged among Billboard's Top 10 country singles with "Barefoot And Crazy," and he'll pop in to chat with host Nan Kelley about it on this week's edition of GAC's Top 20 Country Countdown.
The song appears on his new album, Big Dreams & High Hopes, which provided a backdrop for a huge push to set a new world record. Beginning at 8 a.m. Aug. 25, the day it was released, Jack did 215 interviews in a 24-hour period, a mark authenticated by The Guinness Book Of World Records. By the end, it's a good bet that almost all the questions were the same: "How many more interviews do you have to do?" and "How are you holdin' up?"
Once it was over, Jack was cleverly succinct: "I have nothing left to say."
The album includes guest appearances by Dierks Bentley and Pa tty Griffin. To help in its promotion, Jack's set to go on tour this fall with Gary Allan and the Eli Young Band.
Top 20 Country Countdown counts down the week's top country videos from No. 20 to No. 1 as voted by viewers on each week on A new countdown premieres every Friday at 8 p.m. ET on GAC and airs again Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. ET; Sundays at 1 p.m. ET; and Mondays at 10 a.m. ET. Viewers can vote for their favorite videos, as well as purchase Top 20 artists' albums and ringtones at
Click here to preview each song on our Top 20 list and download the ones you want!
1. Luke Bryan "Do I"
2. Billy Currington "People Are Crazy"
3. Kellie Pickler "Best Days Of Your Life"
4. Keith Urban "Only You Can Love Me This Way"
5. Miranda Lambert "Dead Flowers"
6. Jason Aldean "Big Green Tractor"
7. Taylor Swift "You Belong With Me"
8. Martina McBride "I Just Call You Mine"
9. Toby Keith "American Ride"
10. Chris Yo ung "Gettin' You Home"
11. Brooks & Dunn "Indian Summer"
12. Lady Antebellum "I Run To You"
13. Reba McEntire "Strange"
14. Alan Jackson "I Still Like Bologna"
15. Due West "I Get That All The Time"
16. Caitlin & Will "Address In The Stars"
17. Brad Paisley "Welcome To The Future"
18. Sugarland "Nightswimming/Joey"
19. Gloriana "Wild At Heart"
20. Jimmy Wayne "I'll Be That"

Kellie Pickler Teams With "Filthiest" of Partners


Kellie Pickler photo courtesy of BNA Records.

Sept. 4, 2009 — Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton and Martina McBride have all given a thumbs-up to the gay segments of their fan bases in the last year, but Kellie Pickler took that acceptance to another level by collaborating with an openly gay singer in New York last week.
When she opened for Taylor Swift, Kellie found the time for food with Justin Tranter, the lead singer of Semi Precious Weapons. Justin is a flamboyant glam rocker who — in the tradition of David Bowie, Poison and Boy George — tarts up with makeup before going on stage. And his press bio notes that he wears six-inch stiletto heels during his shows.
"After the show at Madison Square Garden, we went to a little restaurant and pigged out on French fries, macaroni and cheese and champagne," Kellie told Rolling Stone. "We ended up writing a song in the bathroom!"
The song is titled "Black Tears," owing its name to the color of tears shed through eyeliner. Kellie=2 0and Justin, who first met in February, worked together previously designing a necklace. Kellie, whose song "Red High Heels" is an extension of her love for fashion, is a perfect foil for Justin.
"We just clicked instantly, probably because we look like gorgeous blonde twins, both wearing five-inch heels separated at birth and raised on different planets," he told Rolling Stone. "I have the filthiest rock 'n' roll band in New York, and she is a Southern Belle country music princess, but we can just talk for hours like we are the same girl."

Trace Adkins on Creating Monsters


Trace Adkins performs at the VAULT Concert Stage at LP Field in Downtown Nashville Saturday, June 13 during the 2009 CMA Music Festival. Photographer: John Russell / CMA.

Jamey Johnson performs at the VAULT Concert Stage at LP Field in Downtown Nashville Saturday, June 13 during the 2009 CMA Music Festival. Photo courtesy of the Country Music Association.

September 4, 2009 — Trace Adkins gave a then relatively-unknown Jamey Johnson's career a boost when he recorded "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk," a song Jamey co-wrote. And just before he was set to record Jamey's song "In Color," Jamey asked Trace if he could keep it for his own CD. Trac e said yes.
It's clear the tall crooner knows a good song when he hears one. He tells Dial-Global he's not an artist that only listens to songs by proven writers.
"Brand recognition doesn't mean anything to me," he says. "The products that I use in my daily life, I don't care if they have a great brand name or not. It doesn't matter to me. And so, what I mean is, I don't care where the good song comes from. It can come from a hog farmer in Arkansas. If it's a good song I'm gonna cut it. And in some cases (I) have created monsters - in the case of Jamey Johnson," he laughs. "That boy's gone completely crazy ... seen him lately?"

John Rich Puts the "Screw" to Big & Rich


Sept. 4, 2009 — Based on the lawsuits, barroom brawls and barbed political commentary John Rich has made over the last year, it's easy to think of the Big & Rich founder as a difficult personality, and it seems he would agree.
"Big & Rich is the most unlikely pairing of human beings you could possibly come up with," he told The Press Of Atlantic City. "Kenny says, 'I love everybody.' I say, 'Screw everybody.'"
Their personal differences — in addition to Big Kenny's need to rehab a lingering neck injury from years back — led the duo to take most of last year off the road. John put together the album Son Of A Preacher Man, which came out in March, while Big Kenny assembled his own solo disc, The Quiet Times Of A Rock And Roll Farm Boy, due Oct. 27.
"You have to get the music you write out of your system," John said. "I write songs like 'Shuttin' Detroit Down' that are calling out the man. That would never be a Big & Rich song because Kenny would never say that."
With their individual projects commanding attention, fans and industry obser vers are naturally wondering if the duo might pull a Brooks & Dunn and go separate ways.
"Any time you take that much time off the road, rumors are so crazy that it's over," John said. "If you would have seen the shows this summer, you would have understood Big & Rich is nowhere near being over."

Reba McEntire Will Appear on The Tonight Show, A&E Biography

September 3, 2009
Reba McEntire will perform on The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien on Wednesday (Sept. 9), leading a full week of TV appearances. In addition, McEntire will be the subject of a new episode of A&E Biography debuting on Sept. 10 on the A&E Biography Channel. She will also visit The Bonnie Hunt Show and perform on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson on Sept. 15. McEntire's latest album, Keep On Loving You, remains the top-selling album in its second week of release.

CMT Insider: Love and Theft Don't Miss Their Day Jobs

Band Behind "Runaway" Reflect on Parking Cars, Renting Videos
When the three members of Love and Theft are asked by CMT Insider about how their lives have changed since the success of "Runaway," Eric Gunderson replies, "They've changed a ton. We went from working monotonous boring day jobs to working 10 times harder -- but doing something we love."

Gunderson says that his father is a capable mechanic and builder, and that his uncle was a carpenter. Because they shared their skills, Gunderson could take some odd jobs when he moved to Nashville to pursue a music career. "From a young age, they taught me how to work with my hands and work with tools. As any young kid I loved power tools," he said. "Trying to pay the bills and stuff during the beginning stages of the band, I did a lot of tile work and some handyman stuff. I was basically a carpenter for hire. I really enjoy working with my hands and I used to really enjoy building stuff. I like the whole process of kind of designing and seeing a whole plan come together, but there's nothing I'd rather be doing more than playing music, so it keeps me grounded when I think of what I was doing before and how fortunate I am to be playing music now."

Even though the band had a record deal offered by Lyric Street, negotiations were slow. As a result, Stephen Barker Liles needed to pick up a job in the interim.

"I was in transition from valeting to something else so I decided I needed to go work at Blockbuster because it was something that I'd really enjoy. Very stress free. I'd talk movies all day with a bunch of people and I really enjoyed it," he says. "I was watching movies all the time. I'd take home at least probably one a day. I'd take home after I got off work to watch it with my brother or whoever else at the crib wanted to watch it. It was fun, but I am so into film. Even when we're on the road I try and go to the movies as much as I can."

Brian Bandas says, "Valet parking was a great job actually because with the tips going on you could make a pretty decent amount of money in a short amount of time, and it was fairly flexible schedule much like waiting tables. They're both sort of the preferred musicians jobs."

Especially on Friday nights at the restaurant, Bandas says, "It can get intense, but at least for me, I never let it stress me out. When I was working at another valet job we did a huge classic and kit car convention and all these amazing cars were coming through and I got to drive a lot of really souped-up cars -- it was really cool!"

Of course, parking cars doesn't quite stack up to their current career as a country band.

"I do not miss it at all!" Bandas says. "Now, it was actually a good job. I mean, if I'm not going to be playing music, it was not a bad job. I didn't hate it, but even pulling up here, I'm like, 'Man, I'm so glad to be doing what I'm doing.' The big issue for me was giving all this time to something I just don't care that much about, so now I get to give my time to something I'm very passionate about."

Carrie Underwood's New Single, "Cowboy Casanova," Released Early

September 3, 2009
Carrie Underwood's new single, "Cowboy Casanova," was released to country radio late Wednesday evening (Sept. 2), almost a week earlier than expected due to a leak of the rough, unfinished version of the single on the Internet. The official version of the single can be heard on Underwood's Web site. She co-wrote the song with Mike Elizondo and Brett James; the latter's writing credits include "Jesus, Take the Wheel." Underwood's third album, Play On, will be released on Nov. 3.

NASHVILLE SKYLINE: New Music: Sugarland, Tim McGraw, Rosanne Cash

Also Kris Kristofferson, Patty Loveless and More
Nashville Skyline
Nashville Skyline
(NASHVILLE SKYLINE is a column by CMT/ Editorial Director Chet Flippo.)

Before summer folds its tent and steals away at the onset of fall, here's a look at some music I'm enjoying and some things to look forward to in the near future.

Sugarland have recorded their first holiday album. Gold and Green, due Oct. 6, includes five classic Christmas season songs and five new Jennifer Nettles-Kristian Bush originals. Of the new songs, I think "City of Silver Dreams" is my favorite. It conjures up the beauty of New York City at Christmas, with snow and the lights and the city decorated. On another new one, Nettles returns to her rootsy beginnings for an R&B-flavored treatment of "Coming Home," about going home for Christmas. "Gold and Green" tells how "everything looks better in gold and green" and "Little Wood Guitar" is about the magical qualities of a little wooden guitar. And it sounds like Bush takes the lead vocal on "Maybe Baby (New Year's Day)."

• I was listening to Tim McGraw's Place in the Sun the other day and it occurred to me that th at album is now 10 years old. But you know what? It stands up well. And I think it's time for some new McGraw. He will finally deliver his first album of new music since the April 2007 release Let It Go with the Oct. 20 appearance of Southern Voice. McGraw has been performing some of these songs live (especially the title cut) for over a year, but complained that his new album was delayed when his label released a greatest hits album without his approval. The first single is out now, "It's a Business Doing Pleasure With You." Other songs include "I'm Only Jesus" and "If I Died Today."

• In 1973, Johnny Cash gave his then 18-year-old daughter Rosanne a list of 100 songs that he considered essential to her musical education. The songs ranged from the Appalachian ballads and Southern blues that gave rise to country all the way up to 1973. Rosanne Cash has kept and studied that list and has recorded an album of her versions of 12 of them. The List, due for release on Oct. 6, is very much worth your attention. Guest singers are Bruce Springsteen (on "Sea of Heartbreak"), Elvis Costello ("Heartaches by the Number"), Jeff Tweedy ("Long Black Veil") and Rufus Wainwright ("Silver Wings").

Kris Kristofferson continues the intense musical intr ospection he was pursuing on the album This Old Road with his new Closer to the Bone collection, set for release Sept. 29. There are 11 examples of Kristofferson at his best, here examining his life up until now. The title track is Kris at his most poignant. And another standout among many standouts is "Good Morning John," which Kris wrote both to and about Johnny Cash, during the latter's pill days. But, I think you will also especially enjoy the hidden track, a song he wrote when he was 11. "I Hate Your Ugly Face" is very funny as he compares his ex-girlfriend to a "heifer" and more.

Neil Young brings another archival release with his Dreamin' Man, due out Nov. 2. It's a collection of live and acoustic performances of songs from 1992's Harvest Moon.

Patty Loveless' new Mountain Soul II is a showcase for her gorgeous voice. The first Mountain Soul in 2001 drew much acclaim, and deservedly so. Soul II again shows Loveless' acumen in song selection. The 15 picks here range from "Busted" to "Bramble and a Rose" to Emmylou Harris' "Diamond in My Crown." She is joined on the album by Harris, Vince Gill, Al Perkins, and Del and Ronnie McCoury. It is due for release Sept. 29.

• Along with the late Vern Gosdin, Gene Watson was and still is one of the great voices of modern country music. I'm sure you've heard his classic, landmark song "Farewell Party," but there's much more to Watson. His new A Taste of the Truth has some heartbreakingly beautiful performances and he announces that country music is still alive and well (the song "We've Got a Pulse" refers to country music's pulse). There are lead vocal appearances here by Trace Adkins on "We've Got a Pulse" and Rhonda Vincent on "Staying Together." Alison Krauss adds harmony vocals on "Use Me Again."

Guy Clark is one of music's most marvelous songwriters, who also happens to be a compelling singer. His new Somedays the Song Writes You (due Sept. 22) continues a long tradition of finely-crafted songs about life and people and other matters of import. The only song here Clark didn't write or co-write is by his old Texas running buddy, the late Townes Van Zandt, whose "If I Needed You" fits Clark like one his ever-present blue denim shirts

"Reba: Sessions" via AOL Music

"Reba: Sessions" via AOL Music

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Trace Adkins, Diamond Rio: O, Say You Can See Their Anthems


Trace Adkins performs at the VAULT Concert Stage at LP Field in Downtown Nashville Saturday, June 13 during the 2009 CMA Music Festival. Photographer: John Russell / CMA.

Sept. 3, 2009 — September brings the stretch run for Major League Baseball and the official start of football in the NFL and the NCAA, which means plenty of national anthems will be performed around the country.
Trace Adkins, Diamond Rio and Rick Trevino are all on tap to do the honors in the coming days, though football's not in the mix. Instead, the settings are a baseball game, a NASCAR event and a memorial ceremony eight years after the shock of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Put your hand over your heart for the following:
• Trace will be in Shanksville, Pa., on Sept. 11 to deliver "The Star-Spangled Banner" during an event marking eighth years since passengers on United Flight 93 fought back terrorists who had hijacked their plane and brought it down in western Pennsylvania. That same day in Pittsburgh (via a remote), Toby Keith will take part in an event at Pittsburgh s Heinz Field hosted by three former Steelers. Organizers hope to raise $300,000 toward a Flight 93 memorial.
• Diamond Rio is slated to perform the national anthem Sunday prior to the Pep Boys Auto 500 NASCAR race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. On Sept. 22, they'll release their first-ever Christian album, The Reason.
• Rick Trevino takes part Saturday in the Kansas City Royals' annual Viva Los Royals celebration at Kauffman Stadium. The '70s funk band War will deliver a pre-game concert and Mexican entertainer Angelica Vale will throw out the first pitch, according to, as the Royals take on the Los Angeles Angels.

Brooks & Dunn Plan Their Boot-Scootin’ Goodbye


Brooks & Dunn photo courtesy of Sony Music Nashville.

Sept. 3, 2009 — It still feels funky saying it, but Brooks & Dunn will be splitting up with their final tour in 2010. A retrospective album is on the way next week, and Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn are at work now putting their farewell plans together.
"We're gonna try and wrap this thing up next year as cool as we can," Kix told the national radio show GAC Nights: Live From Nashville. "We're right now tryin' to come up with a great set, a great look — we're gonna try and make everything sound [great] and come up with songs we haven't played in years. I don't know, it'll be neat to see. I'm excited about puttin' somethin' together that'll be great and different and a great way to say goodbye for next year."
The album, #1s and then some, houses 30 tracks on two CDs, including such B&D staples as "Boot Scootin' Boogie," "Brand New Man," "Only=2 0In America," "Neon Moon" and "Red Dirt Road." With nearly 20 years of hit-making under their belts, Kix and Ronnie their success as a duo certainly affords them opportunities to do their own albums.
Brooks & Dunn "has been a big part of our lives," Kix said. "But at the same time, we're not dead, and we've both got lots of stuff goin' on and we'll both be making music down the road."
The road leads to New York on Tuesday. They'll perform "Believe" with the Boys Choir of Harlem on NBC's "Today" show the same day the album is released.

Zac Brown, Sara Evans Cook Up New Projects


Zac Brown Band photo courtesy of Atlantic Records.

Sept. 3, 2009 — It's a safe bet that the Zac Brown Band, Sara Evans, Toby Keith and George Jones all have something to eat everyday. It doesn't make them unique, but it's as good a reason as any for them to team with the food industry.
Zac and George each have new projects affiliated with the Cracker Barrel's national chain of Southern restaurants, and Toby is expanding his own chain. Sara is planning a public appearance on behalf of Libby's, the home foods corporation for whom she recorded a radio commercial one year ago.
Food for thought:
• Having turned "Chicken Fried" into one of the most-played songs of the last 12 months, the Zac Brown Band is warming up a new, revised version of its album The Foundation for exclusive sale at Cracker Barrel beginning Labor Day. The CD's additions include three live recordings: Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released," a remake of Joan Baez's "The Night Th ey Drove Old Dixie Down" and a cover of Lucinda Williams' "I Lost It."
• George Jones just released a new Cracker Barrel CD this week. A Collection Of My Best Recollection has a dozen tracks, including such familiar titles as "White Lightning," "He Stopped Loving Her Today" and "I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair." It also offers a pair of previously unreleased performances: "I Don't Want To Know" and "I'm A Long Gone Daddy." The Possum is doing a round of New York media next week for the album, including an appearance Sept. 9 on "The Late Show With David Letterman" and another Sept. 11 on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon."
• Toby Keith is opening yet another of his I Love This Bar & Grill locations — this one at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla. It's expected to begin operations in December.
• During this week in 2008, Sara Evans' new version of the classic commercial "When it says Libby's, Libby's, Libby's on the label, label, label" started running, running, running on radio stations. Sara will be at Manhattan's South Street Seaport Sept. 15 to help judge the winner of Libby's national Table-Gating Recipe Contest.

American Idol's Danny Gokey Signs to 19 Recordings/RCA Nashville

September 2, 2009
American Idol finalist Danny Gokey has signed a contract with 19 Recordings/RCA Nashville. Gokey finished in the top three in the most recent season of American Idol. His debut album is expected to be released next year. Gokey, 29, is a native of Milwaukee, Wis. He is currently on the American Idols Live! Tour 2009. Former Idol contestants Carrie Underwood and Kellie Pickler also have joint contracts with 19 Recordings and Sony Music imprints, which include RCA Nashville, BNA and Arista Nashville.

Zac Brown Band Adds Live Tracks to The Foundation for Cracker Barrel

September 2, 2009
The Zac Brown Band has added three live tracks to their album, The Foundation, exclusively for Cracker Barrel stores. The new version will be available on Tuesday (Sept. 7). Along with new artwork, the album now features live versions of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," "I Shall Be Released" and "I Lost It." In the fall, Cracker Barrel will also offer a cookbook of Brown's recipes and "Southern Ground Grub," a sauce and rub for cooking meat that is Brown's own recipe.

LeAnn Rimes Announces End of Her Marriage

September 1, 2009
LeAnn Rimes posted a message on her Web site announcing the end to her seven-year marriage to Dean Sheremet on Tuesday (Sept. 1). The message reads: "After much thoughtful mutual consideration, Deane [sic] and I have agreed to move forward with dissolving our marriage. This decision was amicable and we remain committed and caring friends with great admiration for one another. Thank you so much for all of your continued love and support -- it is deeply appreciated." The couple married in February 2002. Rimes has been photographed in recent weeks with actor Eddie Cibrian, who co-starred with Rimes in the Lifetime movie, Northern Lights, earlier this year. Cibrian's wife of eight years, model Brandi Glanville, filed for divorce on Aug. 24.

Watch music videos from LeAnn Rimes.

Jack Ingram Explores Heavens and Honky-Tonks on Big Dreams & High Hopes

"Barefoot and Crazy" Singer's New Album Features Dierks Bentley, Patty Griffin
Jack Ingram
Jack Ingram
"I've always told people that there is an abyss of material out there about self-esteem and high anxiety," says Jack Ingram with a knowing smile. "I think opening yourself up to those types of feelings are when you really do find something."

On his new album, Big Dreams & High Hopes, the "Barefoot and Crazy" singer finds equal inspiration in the heavens ("Seeing Stars" with an angelic vocal by Patty Griffin) and the honky-tonks (a rowdy remake of "Barbie Doll" featuring Dierks Bentley).

"Go through the history of country music and great songwriting and you're going to find that it's not all upbeat and 'happy happy,'" says Ingram, who has a college degree in psychology. "'Sunday Morning Coming Down' is all about introspection and trying to figure out what's going on in the world around you -- and how you are affecting it and how it affects you. Those types of songs and that type of songwriting have always been what I'm interested in."

While paying his dues in his native Texas, Ingram self-released two albums in the early 1990s but his partnerships with Nashville labels throughout that decade were unfruitful. Nevertheless, he's always made a handsome living on the road. When his big break came in 2006 with "Wherever You Are," the reputation of his live show prompted opening slots for Brooks & Dunn, Sheryl Crow, Toby Keith, Martina McBride and Brad Paisley.

Here, Ingram discusses his incredible persistence, finding his voice and why his wife is living his dream, too.

CMT: "Not Giving Up on Me" is about searching but also finding balance in your life. What are the challenges of trying to see how far you take this career while still being reliable at home?

Ingram: Yeah, that's always a work in progress. The reason I wrote that song, and I've told people before, is that I've been writing love songs for over 20 years and they're all about the same girl. This was an opportunity to have not just a love song, but a song about somebody who really has been forced to live this dream with me. ... I get all the limelight. I get the spotlight. I get all the appreciation and accolades and people telling me how much they love what I do. And oftentimes when my wife is sitting right beside me, they step right over her to get to me. She already knows it but it's a way in a song to reassure her and reassure myself and put it out there that this really is a partnership. ... I've heard guys at the end of their career talking about their wives and how they wouldn't be here without them. I didn't really understand it then but I sure do now.

Is she easily impressed with anything you do? Or has she seen it all?

No, she's not impressed by me. She's seen my act before. But that's just it -- I don't need her to be impressed by me. I need her to be exactly who she is: honest and loyal to me to a fault. She's my partner. I don't need her to tell me how great I am. I do that by myself. (laughs)

The title track is about ambition, which reminds me that you and I have been doing interviews for at least 10 years. What is it about this career and lifestyle that have made you keep going?

I am like a roach. (laughs) The thing about it is, I love making music. I love this business. I love being a part of it and there's not an end goal for me. I mean, I want to sell millions of records and I want all the No. 1 songs and I want all the things you can get from this business. ... So yeah man, it's every three years, for about 10 years, that you and I talk. And I fully expect and want that to happen until we're done. And I mean done. Because I want to make music. That's what I love doing. That's what I'm getting to do. That particular element plays out in this record and on the song, "Big Dreams and High Hopes," because that's what I have. That's what a lot of the songs are about. You know, I'm not a motivational singer by any stretch but one thing that I do hope that people get out of my music on some level is the idea that you can get anything you want. You've just got to name it and see it and go get it.

I like "In the Corner" at the end of the record. It's really atmospheric.

That was something Doug Lancio produced. You know, I wrote that song in 2003 when I really didn't have a record deal or a whole lot going on. I felt like I was in a corner and I was at a loss for why my career wasn't working the way I thought it could. I thought I knew why and the whole song was about that. I thought I knew what wasn't working and I could fix it but it would be a lie and I would end up in the corner anyway. I would end up in the same spot. So here I am. I've heard songwriters talk about songs being therapeutic and for me that was a big one. It got me through a really tough time in my life and I'm really glad people are getting to hear it.

What was the solution you reached?

I think the solution was to just keep on plugging, man. If at first you don't succeed ... . I was so busy at that time in my career telling people who I didn't want to be like, that I think I was forgetting to really truly find my own voice and just be myself. That song helped me realize that. Once I embraced that, that's when a lot of good things started happening.


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