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.

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.

Sep 052013

Butcher Holler, Kentucky’s favorite “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Loretta Lynn, has been on an emotional roller coaster as of late. On July 29, Lynn lost her second child when her 64-year-old daughter Betty Sue Lynn lost her battle with emphysema, leaving behind two daughters and five grandchildren. The country legend lost her first child, son Jack Benny Lynn, in a drowning accident back in 1984. On a more uplifting note, a week following her daughter’s death, it was announced that Lynn is one of 16 recipients to be honored this year with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. President Barack Obama will present this great honor to the music legend at the White House later this year, this honor being “the nation’s highest civilian honor presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the U.S., to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” Lynn is among very prestigious company as other recipients this year include former President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, late astronaut Sally Ride, women’s rights activist Gloria Steinem, and Chicago Cub Ernie Banks.

When the 2013 Teen Choice Awards were handed out last month in Los Angeles, country music was well represented. Taylor Swift took home two awards: Female Country Artist of the Year and Country Song of the Year for “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” Hunter Hayes was crowned the Male Country Artist of the Year, while Lady Antebellum was named Country Group of the Year.

The next batch of inductees into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame will officially be welcomed into the hall next month. Alabama frontman Randy Owen will be inducted in the songwriter/artist category, having written chart-topping hits like “Feels So Right” and “Mountain Music” for the band. Jeffrey Steele, the songwriter extraordinaire and former Boy Howdy member, will be inducted in the songwriter category for writing hits like Rascal Flatts’ “What Hurts the Most,” “These Days,” “Me and My Gang,” and “My Wish,” Tim McGraw’s “The Cowboy in Me,” and Montgomery Gentry’s “My Town,” “Something To Be Proud Of,” and “Gone.” Will Jennings, who has written tunes such as Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” Tim McGraw’s “Please Remember Me,” Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven,” and Faith Hill’s “Where Are You Christmas?,” will also be inducted in the songwriter category. And being inducted into the veteran songwriter category will be Layng Martine, Jr., who has written hits such as Billy “Crash” Craddock’s “Rub It In,” Elvis Presley’s “Way Down,” and Reba McEntire’s “The Greatest Man I Never Knew.”

Last month, “Wagon Wheel” singer Darius Rucker received a special honor when a road was named after him in his native Charleston, South Carolina. Announcing the honor on his Facebook page, Rucker stated, “Want to take a stroll down Darius Rucker Boulevard? Charleston, what an honor. Thank you.” The road leads up to the North Charleston Coliseum.

Aug 092013

“If I Could Make a Living” singer Clay Walker, who is headed to the Fair later this month, has added another baby to his growing brood. He and wife Jessica welcomed son Elijah Craig on Father’s Day eve, June 15. The doting father announced the news via Twitter: “Happy Father’s Day to me 🙂 Elijah Craig Walker … 7.8 lbs … a blessing to his mama and me … born last night … God bless u Fathers.” Elijah joins 4-year-old big brother William and 3-year-old sister Mary. Walker also has two daughters, 17-year-old MaClay DaLayne and 14-year-old Skylor ClayAnne, from his first marriage.

Following “Guys Do It All the Time” singer Mindy McCready‘s suicide in February, custody of her seven-year-old son, Zander, has been awarded to his father, Billy McKnight. Just last month, McKnight finally won the custody battle and brought Zander home to Florida, where he will live with his father and step-mother, Corey Rena-McKnight. McKnight recently stated, “This is gonna take years to heal from, she’s only been gone for six months. I’ll never be through it. Mindy is not here anymore and that hurts me, especially for my son. She was a special person who wound up getting sick in her life and she couldn’t recover from it.” It is still uncertain who will get custody of McCready’s one-year-old son Zayne. Zayne’s father, music producer David Wilson, committed suicide a month before McCready’s suicide.

Four-foot eleven-inch Country Music Hall of Famer and Grand Ole Opry member Little Jimmy Dickens recently began radiation treatments for a pre-cancerous growth on his vocal cords. The 92-year-old country legend, best known for hits “May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose” and “Take an Old Cold ‘Tater (And Wait),” is expected to make a full recovery and recently said, “My family and I appreciate the support, and I can’t wait to return home to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in one of my favorite rhinestone suits someday soon.” Dickens is currently the oldest living member of the famed Opry.

Country songwriter Johnny MacRae died from heart disease at his Ashland City, Tennessee home at the age of 84 on July 3. He left the U.S. Navy after 15 years to pursue a songwriting career, which produced hits like Reba McEntire’s “You Lift Me Up to Heaven,” Conway Twitty’s “I’d Love to Lay You Down,” Doug Stone’s “I’d Be Better Off in a Pine Box,” and Highway 101’s “Whiskey, If You Were a Woman.”

Country Music Hall of Famer Jim Foglesong passed away at the ripe ole age of 90 on July 9. The famed record label executive was instrumental in launching the careers of country heavy-hitters George Strait, Reba McEntire, and Garth Brooks. Throughout his illustrious career at several major record labels, he also helped further the careers of Roy Clark, John Conlee, Donna Fargo, Freddy Fender, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Barbara Mandrell, the Oak Ridge Boys, Buck Owens, Tanya Tucker, Conway Twitty, and Don Williams.

Aug 082013

“Diggin’ Up Bones” country traditionalist Randy Travis has endured some serious health obstacles over the last month. The singer went to Baylor McKinney Medical Center’s ER in McKinney, Texas on July 7 after suffering with what was eventually diagnosed as idiopathic cardiomyopathy, which is scarring of the heart muscle caused by a viral illness. This virus weakened Travis’s heart, causing him severe circulation issues, therefore he was transferred from the emergency room to Heart Hospital Baylor Plano in Plano, Texas. While on life-support, Dr. Michael Mack, a cardiac surgeon and director of cardiovascular disease, stated, “During this period of time of resuscitation, he suffered a stroke. As a result of the stroke, pressure built up in his brain that required an emergency neurological operation to relieve that pressure.” This surgery was performed on July 10, and it was a few days before Travis began to regain consciousness.

Dr. Gary Erwin recently noted, “In terms of his stroke, [Travis] has responded well to the surgical procedure he had to relieve the pressure in his brain. We’re seeing improvements in brain scans showing decreased swelling of his brain. He is awake and alert — interacting with family and friends and beginning to start doing some early physical therapy.” He was expected to remain hospitalized until the end of July or early August, and Erwin continued, “After he is discharged from here, we anticipate transfer to an inpatient facility where he can receive aggressive physical therapy. We anticipate it will take months to recover from the stroke.”

Although Travis has been in the news in recent months with erratic behavior caused by alcohol and drugs, Dr. Mack says, “From the appearance on echocardiograms … this is not the appearance of either drugs or alcohol causing the heart condition. Mr. Travis does have a family history of cardiomyopathy, and it is more likely related to that.”

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Randy as he recovers.

Aug 032013

Nickelodeon’s 2013 Teen Choice Awards nominees were revealed last month and there were plenty nods for country artists. Taylor Swift received a whopping seven nominations, including: Choice Female Artist, Choice Female Country Artist, Choice Smile, Choice Summer Tour for “Red Tour 2013,” Choice Country Song and Choice Break-Up Song for “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” and Choice Single: Female Artist for “I Knew You Were Trouble.” Hot country duo Florida Georgia Line will vie for Choice Summer Music Star: Group, Choice Country Group, Choice Country Song for “Cruise,” and their remix of “Cruise” featuring Nelly will compete for Choice Summer Song. Blake Shelton will vie for Choice TV Personality: Male for The Voice. Choice Country Song nominees are Blake Shelton, Pistol Annies & Friends’ “Boys ’round Here,” Luke Bryan’s “Crash My Party,” Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise,” Hunter Hayes’ “I Want Crazy,” and Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” Choice Female Country Artist nominees are Jana Kramer, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, Taylor Swift, and Carrie Underwood. Choice Male Country Artist nominees are Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Hunter Hayes, and Blake Shelton. Choice Country Group nominees are Florida Georgia Line, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, The Band Perry, and Thompson Square. The Band Perry’s “DONE.” will also vie for Choice Break-Up Song. Nashville is up for Choice TV Show: Drama. Teenage fans can vote online at www.teenchoiceawards.com. The winners will be announced live on FOX on August 11.

The 2013 MTV Music Video Awards nominees were announced last month on MTV’s Vine and Instagram accounts, and Taylor Swift appeared in two of the categories. Her “I Knew You Were Trouble” will compete again Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors,” Macklemore, Ryan Lewis & Wanz’s “Thrift Shop,” Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven,” and Robin Thicke, T.I. & Pharrell’s “Blurred Lines” for Video of the Year. The same video is up for Best Female Video against Rihanna & Mikky Ekko’s “Stay,” Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop,” P!nk & Nate Ruess’s “Just Give Me a Reason,” and Demi Lovato’s “Heart Attack.” In related country news, Kelly Clarkson’s “People Like Us” will vie for Best Video with a Social Message. The VMA’s will be handed out in Brooklyn, New York on August 25, airing live on MTV. To vote for Swift or Clarkson, log onto VMA.MTV.com for details.

When the nominations were announced last moclaynth for the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, which are given to the best in television, actress Connie Britton was nominated in the Lead Actress in a Drama Series category for her portrayal of country singer Rayna James on ABC’s “Nashville.” She will compete against Claire Danes of “Homeland,” Michelle Dockery of “Downton Abbey,” Vera Farmiga of “Bates Motel,” Elisabeth Moss of “Mad Men,” Kerry Washington of “Scandal,” and Robin Wright of “House of Cards.” The Emmy Awards will be handed out on September 22 and the ceremony will air live on CBS, just three days before Britton and the rest of the Nashville gang return for the critically acclaimed series’ sophomore season.

Aug 012013

The temperatures are well into the 90’s and the heat index has camped out around the 100 degree mark, which means just one thing: it’s time for the annual Kentucky State Fair. The Fair will run August 15-25 at the Kentucky Exposition Center, offering any and every imaginable edible delight battered and deep-fried, barns overflowing with livestock, the World’s Championship Horse Show, Kentucky craftsmen, exhibits from the best of the best 4-H’ers, midway rides, and some of the best country music you’ll ever hear. Some of the hottest names in country music will roll into this year’s Fair, which is being kicked off opening night with country legend Alan Jackson in Freedom Hall. The Newnan, Georgia native will be offering a plethora of his vast catalog of #1 hits, and hopefully a few new tunes (like his cover of Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky”) from his recently announced upcoming bluegrass album, simply titled The Bluegrass Album. Opening for Jackson on Thursday, August 15 will be Gary Allan, best known for hits such as “Man to Man,” “Tough Little Boys,” “Nothing On But the Radio,” and “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain).” Tickets for this show cost $49 and $39. On Saturday, August 17, “Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue (The Angry American),” “American Ride,” and “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” singer Toby Keith will entertain Fair-goers in Freedom Hall. “Somethin’ ’bout a Truck” and “Hey Pretty Girl” crooner Kip Moore will open this show and tickets cost $56 and $45.

As always, there will also be tons of FREE country music at this year’s Fair in the old Cardinal Stadium for fans. The Oak Ridge Boys will make their 37th consecutive appearance at the Fair on Sunday, August 18, along with former Statler Brother Jimmy Fortune. Clay Walker and newcomer quartet Parmalee will roll into the stadium on Tuesday, August 20. Country newcomers Kelsey K, Thomas Rhett, and Jerrod Niemann will perform on Wednesday, August 21. And the last country show of the Fair, which will occur on Friday, August 23, is destined to be the rowdiest of all when Nicholasville, Kentucky’s very own duo Montgomery Gentry brings its outlaw brand of country music to the stadium, bringing along Taylorsville’s own up-and-rising country rocker J.D. Shelburne.

Although all the stadium shows are free and first-come, first-served seating, you may want to get there even earlier this year to try to stake your claim on prime seating. Due to recent safety inspections, the old Cardinal Stadium’s grandstand has been deemed unsafe, therefore all concert seating will be on the stadium’s field instead of the grandstand. In recent months, Fair officials stated, “We are moving forward to provide an even better concert experience in a safe and comfortable environment. The free concerts are a huge draw for the Fair, and we intend to improve the setting and the excitement with this new configuration.”

Jul 122013

Our condolences go out to the family of Slim Whitman upon his passing June 19. The 89-year-old Grand Ole Opry legend best known for his 1952 hit “Indian Love Call,” died from heart failure in Jacksonville, Florida. He was raised in Tampa, Florida and began his music career following a stint in the U.S. Navy. He is also known for hits like “Rose Marie,” “Love Song of the Waterfall,” “Something Beautiful (To Remember),” and “Guess Who.” His last album, Twilight on the Trail, was released just last year.

Although Flatwoods, Kentucky native Billy Ray Cyrus filed for divorce from wife Tish Cyrus in 2010 and he later withdrew the filing and the couple reconciled, his wife decided to pull the plug on their near 20-year marriage last month. She filed the papers in Los Angeles Superior Court on June 13, citing irreconcilable differences. The couple has five children together, including the headline-stealing singer/actress Miley Cyrus. Tish Cyrus is requesting full custody of their only minor child, 13-year-old daughter Noah, spousal support, and asking that Cyrus pay her attorney’s fees.

Our condolences go out to George Strait upon the June 4 passing of his father, 91-year-old John Byron Strait. He passed away after a lengthy illness and a near one-month hospitalization. His famous son released the following statement: “We are grateful for the time over the last few weeks we were able to spend with Daddy before he passed away. I want to thank everyone for their prayers and support during this difficult time as we mourn our family’s loss.” John Strait was a junior high school math teacher and a rancher, and he is survived by wife Anna, daughter Pency Edel and husband Lea, son George Strait and wife Norma, daughter-in-law Denise Strait, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Stephen Barker Liles, who makes up half of “Angel Eyes” duo Love and Theft, became engaged in Ft. Myers, Florida on May 28. He popped the question to girlfriend Jenna Michelle Kennedy as he presented her a 2.34 carat diamond engagement ring. He says, “I am so blessed to have [Jenna] in my life and for us to become one. She is my best friend and I am so grateful for the Lord bringing her into my life.” The couple plan to marry in May 2014.

Our best wishes go out to Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, who is preparing to give birth to her first child this month. Lady A performed their last concert prior to the birth at the Taste of Country Music Festival late last month. When the band returns to the road following the birth, Scott, her drummer husband Chris Tyrrell, and the new baby will be traveling our country’s highways in their very own “family” tour bus, separate from bandmates Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, as well as the band.