Oct 072013

News about Renfro Valley doesn’t often percolate up the state to Louisville, so it was rather a surprise to find Jonathan Newsome at Unsung Melody writing a review about a Don Williams show at the venerable venue. He has some excellent photos as well; read it here.

Oct 062013

When “The Cowboy” George Strait announced last year that he is planning to retire from touring in 2014, local fans hoped that the legend would ride into the Derby City one last time, but Louisville was not included on the tour’s first leg. Well, fans can breathe a sigh of relief because the second half of “The Cowboy Rides Away” Tour was announced last month and Strait is scheduled to perform at the KFC Yum! Center on March 7. At press time, tickets for this must-see show had not yet gone on sale. Strait’s May 31, 2014 Foxborough, Massachusetts stop is the last show currently scheduled, but the big finale will take place in his home state of Texas in Dallas on a yet-to-be-announced date. The final leg of this tour will feature a variety of opening acts: Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Sheryl Crow, Ronnie Dunn, Vince Gill, Merle Haggard, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Lee Ann Womack, and Chris Young. The opening act(s) for Louisville has not yet been announced.

Oct 052013

When the 12th Annual Americana Music Honors & Awards were handed out last month at the famed Ryman Auditorium, some of country music’s classic artists made a huge mark. Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell earned the Album of the Year award for their Old Yellow Moon, and the critically-acclaimed collaboration also earned them the Duo of the Year trophy. Pikeville, Kentucky native Dwight Yoakam took home the highly coveted Artist of the Year Award, and Old Crow Medicine Show, the newly inducted members of the legendary Grand Ole Opry, was awarded the Trailblazer Award. Country royalty Hank Williams was posthumously awarded the President’s Award.

And the winners are: Artist of the Year: Dwight Yoakam; Duo of the Year: Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell; Trailblazer Award: Old Crow Medicine Show; Emerging Artist of the Year: Shovels & Rope; Instrumentalist of the Year: Larry Campbell; Song of the Year: Shovels & Rope’s “Birmingham”; Album of the Year: Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell’s Old Yellow Moon; Spirit of Americana/Free Speech in Music Award: Stephen Stills; President’s Award: Hank Williams; Lifetime Achievement Award for Executive: Chris Strachwitz; Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist: Duane Eddy; Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance: Dr. John; and Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriter: Robert Hunter.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Oct 032013

Taylor Swift took home her first-ever MTV Video Music Award on August 25 when her “I Knew You Were Trouble” was named Best Female Video of the Year, and a couple weeks later when the nominees were announced for the 47th Annual Country Music Association Awards, she, along with hot newcomer Kacey Musgraves, topped the list of nominees with six nods each. Swift will vie for Entertainer of the Year, Female Vocalist, Album of the Year for Red, and she is up for Single, Video, and Musical Event of the Year along with Tim McGraw & Keith Urban for “Highway Don’t Care.” Musgraves’ first-ever CMA nominations include Female Vocalist of the Year, New Artist, Album of the Year for Same Trailer Different Park, and Single of the Year for “Merry Go ‘Round.” As a songwriter, she received nominations for Song of the Year for “Merry Go ‘Round” and Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart.”

Following behind Swift and Musgraves with five nominations each are Mr. & Mrs. Blake Shelton. Shelton will vie for Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist, Album of the Year for Based on a True Story, and Musical Event and Video of the Year for “Boys ‘Round Here” along with wife Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, and Angaleena Presley, better known as Pistol Annies. Lambert will vie for Female Vocalist of the Year, and Single and Video of the Year for “Mama’s Broken Heart,” in addition to the collaboration nods with Shelton.

And the nominees are: Entertainer of the Year: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, George Strait, and Taylor Swift; Female Vocalist of the Year: Kelly Clarkson, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, Taylor Swift, and Carrie Underwood; Male Vocalist of the Year: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Blake Shelton, and Keith Urban; Vocal Duo of the Year: Big & Rich, Florida Georgia Line, Love and Theft, Sugarland, The Civil Wars, and Thompson Square; Vocal Group of the Year: The Band Perry, Eli Young Band, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, and Zac Brown Band; and New Artist of the Year: Lee Brice, Brett Eldredge, Florida Georgia Line, Kip Moore, and Kacey Musgraves.

Album of the Year: Little Big Town’s Tornado, Kacey Musgraves’ Same Trailer Different Park, Blake Shelton’s Based on a True Story, Taylor Swift’s Red, and Carrie Underwood’s Blown Away; Single of the Year: Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise,” Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart,” Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift & Keith Urban’s “Highway Don’t Care,” Kacey Musgraves’ “Merry Go ‘Round,” and Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel”; Music Video of the Year: Lady Antebellum’s “Downtown,” Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart,” Little Big Town’s “Tornado,” Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift & Keith Urban’s “Highway Don’t Care,” Blake Shelton & Pistol Annies’ “Boys ‘Round Here,” and Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away”; Musical Event of the Year: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan & Eric Church’s “The Only Way I Know,” Kelly Clarkson & Vince Gill’s “Don’t Rush,” Florida Georgia Line & Nelly’s “Cruise,” Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift & Keith Urban’s “Highway Don’t Care,” and Blake Shelton & Pistol Annies’ “Boys ‘Round Here”; Song of the Year (songwriter award): “I Drive Your Truck,” “Mama’s Broken Heart,” “Merry Go ‘Round,” “Pontoon,” and “Wagon Wheel”; and Musician of the Year: Sam Bush—mandolin, Paul Franklin—steel guitar, Dann Huff—guitar, Brent Mason—guitar, and Mac McAnally—guitar.

The CMA Awards will be handed out in Nashville on November 6. The awards ceremony will be hosted once again by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood.

Congratulations and best wishes to all the nominees!

Oct 022013

The ACM Honors, which are recognitions the Academy of Country Music Awards are unable to include during the ACM’s annual televised awards program, were handed out last month and a couple Kentucky acts were among the honorees. Ashland, Kentucky natives Wynonna and Naomi Judd, better known simply as The Judds, and Sandy Hook’s late, great Keith Whitley were recognized during the honors. These Kentucky artists were honored with the prestigious Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award. Whitley’s widow, Lorrie Morgan, and children Morgan and Jesse Keith Whitley accepted this honor after Lorrie and Jesse performed “‘Til a Tear Becomes a Rose.”

The Voice coach Blake Shelton, who has mentored three of the show’s four winners thus far, was honored with the Gene Weed Special Achievement Award. Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, and Dave Haywood, who make up the trio Lady Antebellum, were awarded the Jim Reeves International Award for taking country music around the world on their last international tour. Jason Aldean was honored with the Crystal milestone Award for his outstanding concert ticket sales, including the sell-out of two shows at Boston’s Fenway Park, a whopping 70,000 tickets.

And the winners are: Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award: The Judds and Keith Whitley; Jim Reeves’ International Award: Lady Antebellum; Mae Boren Axton Award: Tommy Wiggins; Songwriter of the Year: Dallas Davidson; Poet’s Award: Guy Clark and Hank Williams; Casino of the Year: Red Rocks Casino & Resort in Las Vegas; Venue of the Year: Ryman Auditorium; Nightclub of the Year: Joe’s Bar in Chicago; Promoter of the Year: Ed Warm of Joe’s Bar; Talent Buyer of the Year: Jerry Hufford of Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, California; Audio Engineer of the Year: Chuck Ainlay; Producer of the Year: Jay Joyce; and Musician of the Year: Matt Chamberlain—percussion & drums, J.T. Corenflos—guitar, Aubrey Haynie—fiddle, Mike Johnson—steel guitar, Michael Rojas—piano & keyboard, Jimmie Lee Sloas—bass, and Ilya Toshinsky—specialty instruments.

Oct 012013

Country music fans are in for some legendary and unique new duets this month. Traditionalist crooner Randy Travis is releasing a brand new album of covers, titled Influence Vol. 1: The Man I Am, on October 1. This album will include a special duet with Joe Nichols, titled “Tonight I’m Playing Possum,” a tribute to the late greatest country singer of all time, George Jones. Travis will also cover Jones’ “Why Baby Why,” Lefty Frizell’s “Saginaw, Michigan,” and Ernest Tubb’s “Thanks a Lot,” as well as nine other covers.

In 1983, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton recorded their first duet, “Islands in the Stream,” a tune written by The Bee Gees, Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb. The smash hit topped music charts around the world and has sold millions of copies—it has been dubbed the “most successful duet of all time.” Three decades later, the musical legends have rejoined forces to record a brand new duet titled “You Can’t Make Old Friends,” which will be released on Rogers’ new album of the same title on October 8. The tender tune was co-written by Don Schlitz, who wrote Rogers’ classic “The Gambler” tune. Rogers and Parton have also filmed a video for this track.

The legendary “Red-Headed Stranger,” Willie Nelson, will perform live in concert at the Louisville Palace on October 15, the same day his new duets album, titled To All the Girls…, will hit stores. This special album will include duets with some of music’s leading ladies, including Dolly Parton on “From Here to the Moon and Back,” Loretta Lynn on “Somewhere Between,” Emmylou Harris on “Dry Lightning,” Alison Krauss on “No Mas Amor,” Wynonna on “Bloody Mary Morning,” and Carrie Underwood dueting on Nelson’s classic “Always On My Mind.”

Oct 012013

With this being the last print edition of Louisville Music News, I’d like to offer my heartfelt thanks to editors Paul Moffett and Jean Metcalfe for affording me the opportunity to write about the country music that I love for the last 19 years. “Cowboy Corner” debuted in LMN in October 1994, and this, my 229th column, is my last. I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting countless fellow country music fans over the last nearly two decades, and I have heard some GREAT music throughout this time. I’ve had the opportunity to meet numerous country artists, including the top three on my wish list: Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton. Superstar Garth Brooks even sang “The Dance” a capella to my lovely wife on her 25th birthday. And I even got to interview my favorite artist of all, Parton!

This might be my last official “Cowboy Corner,” but that doesn’t mean that my love of country music has drawn to a close. My concert-going will not wane, I will submit occasional blog entries on LMN’s website, and be on the lookout for my concert photographs. Thanks to each of you, the readers, the country fans, for sharing this journey with me.

Well, for the last time, always remember: “Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, ’cause country music is comin’ your way.”

Sep 072013

Lady Antebellum‘s Hillary Scott and husband Chris Tyrrell are singing lullabies these days as they welcomed their first child into the world on July 22. Daughter Eisele Kaye Tyrrell was born in Nashville and weighed in at 7 lbs, 13 ozs. Scott announced the happy occasion on Twitter by saying: “She’s here, and we are in HEAVEN!!! Eisele Kaye, our beautiful angel, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!” The proud papa described her by saying, “She is incredibly gorgeous.” The baby’s name is a combination of Tyrrell’s mother’s maiden name, and Scott’s mother, Reba McEntire duet partner Linda Davis, whose middle name is Kaye. Lady A plans to resume touring on November 8 in Southaven, Mississippi.

Megastar Garth Brooks has earned numerous accolades and titles throughout his career, but he recently added a brand new title to his resume: “grandpa.” Brooks became a first-time grandfather in July when his 19-year-old daughter August Anna Brooks gave birth to daughter Karalynn. Brooks released a statement saying, “Our family would first like to thank everyone for their warm wishes and sweet celebration of Baby K’s arrival.”

“You Don’t Know Her Like I Do” crooner Brantley Gilbert and “Why Ya Wanna” singer Jana Kramer have announced that they have broken off their engagement to be married. Gilbert asked Kramer to be his bride on his 28th birthday this past January on the stage of the legendary Ryman Auditorium. The couple was reportedly so busy touring that their relationship has suffered as a result of being apart while on the road. Not exactly the ideal situation for a young couple in love, especially a couple trying to plan a wedding. They reportedly realized that this relationship was not going to work with their busy schedules, therefore breaking off their engagement was the best solution.

On July 31, it was announced on country traditionalist Randy Travis‘s website that he had finally been released from the hospital after suffering a stroke on July 10, which required surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. The statement said: “Randy Travis has been discharged from Baylor Heart [Hospital] in Plano, Texas. Mr. Travis has been relocated to a physical therapy facility. ‘Thanks to all the fans and friends for your continued prayers and support as Randy continues on the road to recovery,’ says Travis’ fiancée Mary Davis.” Travis will reportedly spend a few months in this facility as he recovers from this stroke.

Sep 062013
Marty Brown

When fans of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” first tuned into the popular summer talent contest back in July, they might have recognized a familiar voice from years gone by. Traditional country singer-songwriter Marty Brown, who enjoyed humble success as a recording artist on MCA Records in the early 1990’s, wowed judges comedian Howie Mandel, Spice Girl Mel B, supermodel Heidi Klum, and radio shock jock Howard Stern, as well as the audience around our great nation, when he performed a stunning rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.” The rousing performance earned the carpenter-by-day and country crooner-by-night a spot in the Las Vegas round of the competition, where he continued to enchant the masses with his cover of fellow Kentuckian Keith Whitley’s “When You Say Nothing At All.” Louisville Music News caught up with Brown during a recent private fan-appreciation show here in Louisville.

The Franklin, Kentucky resident’s story begins in Maceo, Kentucky, where he was born to country musicians and country fans Vincent and Barbara Brown, who gravitate toward the traditional sounds of Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and George Jones. The elder Brown made a lasting impression upon his young son, who revered his father as a country music superstar when he played country music on the weekends. Being constantly surrounded by the sweet sounds of country music, Marty Brown began to hone his songwriting craft at a young age. His mother enjoyed her talented son’s early songwriting ventures but taught him a realistic life-lesson that radio would not be interested in 20-minute songs he had recorded while sitting on the edge of the tub in the family’s only bathroom. Once the family bought the loving mother her very first microwave oven, she’d set the aspiring country artist down in the kitchen, put a coffee cup of water in the microwave, and set the timer for three minutes, teaching him that once the microwave timer had sounded, his song should be over. Brown continued to write from the heart and his talents caught the attention of Nashville in 1991, which led to three MCA albums. Record executives eventually decided that the then-current flavor of country music and Brown’s ultra-traditional sound were not compatible, and his record contract was not extended past the original three-album agreement.

Despite Nashville’s changing sound, Brown never turned his back on his beloved style of music. He continued to write tunes (including Tracy Byrd’s “I’m from the Country”) and play any gig he could get, while picking up carpentry jobs to feed his growing family. Nine years ago, Brown’s life was forever changed when he married the love of his life, Shellie, whom he met in Nashville. The high school English teacher has supported her husband’s country music dream for the last decade and she knew it was time to share her husband’s passion with America when she took a vacation day last December for the couple to drive to downtown Nashville for a romantic lunch. Following the meal, Brown decided he would attempt to knock on some music executive doors to further pursue his dream, but Shellie broke the news to him that he couldn’t on that particular winter day because she had snuck his guitar into the trunk and he was going to the AGT auditions at the convention center that afternoon. Brown was reluctant, but eventually convinced to audition, and several hours later, the initial audition had wrapped and the couple drove back home to Kentucky. Months passed before Brown received a call from NBC producers and the couple was flown to San Antonio, Texas for the televised audition of “Make You Feel My Love”—it was during that audition that Brown’s talent and the genuine love between he and his sweet wife melted the hearts of America.

Although Brown was choked up from emotion after hearing his beloved father speak for one of the first times following throat surgery last year during a taped interview aired as an introduction to Brown’s most recent performance of Shania Twain’s “Still the One” on the famed stage of New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, his dream is still alive as he remains in the competition. Country fans have diligently been voting and have secured the singer a spot in the show’s semi-finals round of competition. His next performance will be on Tuesday, September 3, and fans are encouraged to vote to help this Kentucky boy bring home the $1 million top prize, to land him a headlining show in Las Vegas, and to allow him to perform live for the fans during the America’s Got Talent Tour. Although he wasn’t at liberty to divulge to Louisville Music News what song he’ll perform in the next round of competition, he promises to make the fans proud, especially all his Kentucky fans back home. Whether it’s this next round or a future round (if fans successfully vote him through), Brown hopes to have the chance to perform one of his original tunes for America.

Following Brown’s September 3 performance on AGT (airing on NBC from 9 – 11p.m. EDT), fans can vote via phone, email, or Twitter. Brown will be assigned a toll-free phone number and immediately following the show, fans can call the number and vote 10 times per phone, so be sure to vote 10 times on your landline and 10 times from each cell phone in your household. Fans can also vote 10 times per email address, so be sure to vote using all email addresses in your household – online voting can be done via NBC.com, Facebook, Zeebox and the NBC app available on smartphones and tablets. Fans with Twitter accounts will be allowed one vote by tweeting “#voteAGT Marty Brown” following the show. Online voting will be open from 10:55p.m. Tuesday, September 3 – 6 a.m. EDT Wednesday, September 4. Telephone voting will be open from 10:55 p.m. that Tuesday – 1am Wednesday.

Congratulations and best wishes, Marty! Bring home the big win for Kentucky!

Sep 052013

“Cowboy” Jack Clement, who will posthumously be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on October 27, died at his Nashville home at the age of 82 on August 8. He produced albums for the likes of Charley Pride, Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Eddy Arnold, Bobby Bare, and Charley Rich. Clement was also responsible for writing hits such as Cash’s “Ballad of a Teenage Queen” and “Guess Things Happen That Way” and producing his Grammy-winning “Ring of Fire.” He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1973.

Tompall Glaser, one of the original outlaws of country music, passed away on August 13 at the age of 79. After moving to Nashville from Nebraska with brothers Jim and Chuck, the Glaser Brothers sang background vocals on Marty Robbins’ “El Paso” and went on to win the CMA Vocal Group of the Year Award in 1970. Their most successful song was “Lovin’ Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again),” which rose to #2 on the country charts in 1981. The trio opened a publishing company and recording studio on Music Row, which became the headquarters of country music’s Outlaw movement. In 1976, Glaser joined Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Jennings’ wife Jessi Colter to record the million-selling Wanted: The Outlaws album.

Jody Payne, who played guitar for Willie Nelson for 35 years, died of cardiac problems at the age of 77 on August 10. He was born in Garrard County, Kentucky in 1936. He began singing with his older sister Imogene when he was five and in the early 1950’s, he toured with bluegrass pioneer Charlie Monroe. He joined Nelson’s band in 1973 and retired from the road in 2008. Although he predominantly played guitar, he did enjoy one single as a singer, “There’s a Crazy Man,” which was released in 1981.