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.

Sep 042013
Toby Keith

The “Big Dog Daddy” himself, Toby Keith, landed the coveted opening Saturday night concert slot at this year’s Kentucky State Fair and country fans couldn’t have been happier. Wherever Keith performs, he strikes up a party as he cranks out raucous hits like “Red Solo Cup,” “American Ride,” “A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action,” “I Love This Bar,” and “How Do You Like Me Now?” His current single, “Drinks After Work,” appropriately settles right into the party setlist. Although Keith is rightfully categorized as one of country music’s “party acts,” even your sweet little ole 90-year-old grandmother can’t help but admire his dedication to our American service men and women, as he has performed over 200 shows for our troops abroad. Despite pyrotechnics and bursts of fire onstage, Keith truly saved the best for last when he brought a Lexington, Kentucky veteran who lost both legs and his eyesight fighting for our freedom onstage as he proudly honored our great nation and our beloved veterans with “American Soldier” (rightfully altered to “American Warrior”) and “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.” Keith truly is an all-American country singer who appeals to the red-blooded, flag-waving masses.

Kip Moore

Singer-songwriter Kip Moore took country music by storm when his second single, “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck” was released just two years ago this month. The smash topped the country charts and he quickly became an in-demand live act. Moore truly kicked off Toby Keith’s party in style last month in Freedom Hall with an impressive 45-minute set, including crowd favorites “Beer Money,” “What I Do,” “Say Goodbye,” and his sentimental “Hey Pretty Girl.” Moore writes and performs like he cut his teeth on country music in his home state of Georgia and he’s an artist that proves that he’s serious about honing his craft and sticking around for the party for many years to come.

Sep 032013
Alan Jackson

Long-legged country crooner Alan Jackson first hit the radio airwaves 24 years ago, but from his warm reception as he opened the Kentucky State Fair on Thursday, August 15, fans love his more traditional brand of country music as much today as they did back in 1989. The Georgia native hit the stage with “Gone Country” and kept the crowd’s keen attention throughout a bevy of chart-topping hits which veered from the rockin’ side (“Gone Country,” “Good Time,” “Chattahoochee,” and “Don’t Rock the Jukebox”) to the sentimental side (“Remember When,” “Here in the Real World,” “Drive (For Daddy Gene),” and “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)”). With the exception of a couple tunes released in recent years, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” his smash duet with Jimmy Buffett,” and “As She’s Walking Away,” a big hit with the Zac Brown Band,” the brunt of Jackson’s solid show looked and sounded like the fans had been transported back in time by a decade or more. No one complained though, because Jackson’s music is timeless and feels as comfortable as a well-worn pair of cowboy boots.

Gary Allan

California country crooner Gary Allan’s raspy voice and songwriting skills have helped him become one of the most dynamic entertainers in country music over the last two decades. Whether he’s performing “Man to Man,” “Smoke Rings in the Dark,” “Watching Airplanes,” or “Bones,” his honest delivery makes you believe he’s lived every word that rolls off the tip of his tongue. His State Fair performance rivaled that of headliner Jackson, especially with crowd favorites “Nothing On But the Radio” and his recent chart-topper “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain).” Allan is a solid entertainer still rooted in the honky tonks while enjoying the success of playing at the country’s largest venues.