Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Phil Vassar helps bassist get "In a Real Love"

Phil Vassar helped his bassist, Steve Cook, propose at their recent show in Louisville, KY. During a dramatic pause in the song, "Last Day of My Life," Steve's girlfriend carried a glass of wine onstage to Phil, thinking it was part of the show. Moments later, she became the show as Steve got down on one knee, pulled a ring from his pocket and popped the question. Check out the video below to see how the "Last Day of My Life" became the first day of OUR life for Steve andhis new fiancee!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Song of the Week: If I Die Young by The Band Perry

This is kind of a depressing song for such a young band. But the lyrics do show a sense of maturity beyond their years, and the music is beautifully arranged. Nice touches of fiddle and the banjo is added in a subtle, supporting role instead of stealing the show as it often does. It seems like these three siblings from Mobile, AL came out of nowhere, but I have a feeling you'll be hearing more from them. Even though they're young, their music has an authenticity to it, as you can hear in this song. Lead singer Kimberly explains the roots or that authenticity by saying, "Daddy rocked us to sleep with the Rolling Stones; Mama woke us up with Loretta Lynn. So we get it honest." I think they've got it all right. I'm just glad they're sharing it with the rest of us

Monday, August 29, 2011

BIg & Rich & Gretchen Wilsom make Xtreme Musik for Xtreme Hero

Big & Rich and Gretchen Wilson are adding a special concert to their Xtreme Musik tour. This Friday, September 2nd the stars will put on a show on the grounds of Barbara Mandrell's former residence, Fontanel Mansion. They are donating 100% of proceeds from the concert to Operation Finally Home, a charity that builds mortgage free custom designed homes for wounded American soldiers. Once again, I am filled with pride by the generousity of country music artists and I am so grateful to be (a very small) part of this wonderful community of artists. I am even prouder of the brave men and women who risk their lives daily to serve us and people around the world by defending freedom. These brave souls truly define "Xtreme!"

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Zac Brown sings Jack Daniels if you please!

Jack Daniels is teaming up with the Zac Brown Band to sponsor their upcoming tour (apparently the medical marijuana people were unavailable.) Zac Brown is the first act that the legendary Jack Daniels brand has sponsored since Goerge Strait ten years ago. You have to give Jack Daniels credit for their good taste (literally!)
"There is a natural affinity between Jack Daniel's friends and Zac Brown Band fans," said Jeff Arnett, Jack Daniel's Master Distiller. "They are folks who embrace authentic values, love great music and the spirit of friendship. We couldn't be happier to partner with ZBB."
I suspect Zac and band mates have partnered with Jack Daniels a time or two before this official announcement. I predict a new cocktail name before the tour is over: Zac and Jack Black!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Steel Magnolia says Let Us In

Steel Magnolia will perform at the Let Us In: Women and Cancer Fund Benefit at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on Monday, Nov 7th at 7:30PM. The event, hosted by actor Jeff Daniels is a fundraiser in honor of Paul McCartney's late wife Linda. In tribute, Steel Magnolia and several other artists including Phil Vassar, Sarah Dearling, Chuck Wicks, and Jordyn Shellhart will perform their renditions of McCartney songs in addition to their own original material. After the concert, mp3s of the songs will be available for purchase as well as a concert DVD. With proceeds going to cancer research. And with a little luck, Sir Paul McCartney might even make a brief cameo. Once again, I am proud of my fellow country music artists for lending their talents to a worthy cause!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Alan Jackson is a busy man

Alan Jackson was recently named the top male country artist of the past 20 years by CMT fans. Not content to sit on his laurels, Alan seems to feel like he still has a Long Way to Go to create his musical legacy. His new song, Long Way to Go, is curerntly climbing the country charts. He's currently touring across the US with upcoming shows in the Nashville area. He's making sure to include a stop at the National Cathedral in Washington DC to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9-11. And as if that's not enough, Alan is coming to play a FREE concert in YOUR TOWN! (possibly) Go vote for your town and you might just get a chance to see the hard workin' Alan Jackson for free!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Song of the Week: Scotty McCreery, I Love You This Big

Last week I was all set to gush over Scotty McCreery's performance at the CMA Festival, but I had to set that aside when I heard of the Sugarland concert tragedy. Well I can't put Scotty off any longer. His performance last week gave Josh Turner a run for the money, and that's no small feat. Anyway, Scotty officially launches what I suspect will be a hugely successful career in country music with his first single, I Love You This Big. The song could have been called I Love You This Deep, because whenever Scotty drops those beautiful bass notes, he's pretty hard to resist!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Prad Paisley Rolls with a Stone

Some of my all time favorite music is where country, rock and blues all converge to create something that's a little bit of each, but greater than the sum of the parts. Apparently Brad Paisley shares my view because he invited Ron Wood out for a surprise encore performance of the blues standard Let the Good Times Roll last Wednesday night at London's O2 arena. The duo also uncorked Brad's hit, Alcohol, with a little assistance from opening act Darius Rucker. I'll keep y'all posted if Brad has any other tricks up his sleeve for the rest of the tour.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I want to be Kenny Chesney's Roadie

Country music performers always toss around the word "family" when they appear on award shows and do radio interviews. And from what I've seen in this business, there's a lot of truth in that. But Kenney Chesney really takes the family concept to heart, at least with his crew. At the end of each year's tour Kenney takes his crew and support team (all 150 of them) on a tropical vacation to the Virgin Islands. As if that wasn't enough, Kenney occasionally holds lotteries for his crew, with the prize being one night's receipts from merchandise sales. When asked what the biggest amount he had to pay out was, Kenny said, "Probably the biggest check was three hundred grand. But do you know what those guys did? This is why I think this kind of thing works: They waited until the end of the year and I wrote one big check to the crew and they divided it up 13 ways." Hey Kenny, if you ever need a new roadie who can sing backup just email me! (and of course, my cousins too!)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Shania Twain says "Walk a mile in my shoes"

You many recall that Shania took an unexpected tumble at last June's CMA awards on her way to present the award for male video of the year. After the event, Shania laughed off the spill, but said "I never want to see those shoes again." Now she's making good on that threat by auctioning off the (now autographed) offending footwear. Her size 6, strappy BCBG satin three inch heels are now available on Ebay for just north of $6,000. That's $1,000 per shoe size! Of course that price is liable to go up between now and August 22nd when the online auction ends. Of course Shania is putting the money to a good cause. All proceeds go to the Shania Kids Can, a Canadian non profit that helps underpriveleged kids in her home country. So if your shoe closet is in need of a six thousand dollar upgrade, or if you just want to walk in Shania's shoes (except for the glamor, and success, and fame of course) put in your bid for this piece of history. And if you can't afford the shoes, you can still afford to walk in Shania's shoes by donating to her charity.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Taylor Swift gives new meaning to Entertainer of the Year

Apparently Taylor Swift was really selling the song, "You Belong With Me," last Saturday in St. Louis. Before she even reached the chorus, a misplaced (strategically placed?) wind machine blew up Taylor's dress in a Marilyn Monroe moment. Fans didn't seem to mind as Taylor handled the snafu with grace and professionalism, not missing a beat.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tragedy at Sugarland Show

I was all set to write a cutesy round up of last night's CMA Festival when I went online and saw the news about Sugarland's Saturday concert at the Indiana State Fair. My prayers go out the families of the five audience members who died when the stage lighting collapsed just prior to Sugarland's performance. I have no word yet on where to send donations for the families, but will post as soon as I find out. Jennifer Nettles reacted to the tragedy saying, "I am so moved by the grief of those families who lost loved ones. Moved by the pain of those who were injured and the fear of their families. Moved by the great heroism as I watched so many brave Indianapolis fans actually run toward the stage to try and help lift and rescue those injured. Moved by the quickness and organization of the emergency workers who set up the triage and tended to the injured."

Friday, August 12, 2011

Album of the Month: The Far West

Sometimes it’s fun to crack open a beer and listen to some good country music. Other times, it’s even better to uncork some bourbon and FEEL it. The Far West definitely feels (and makes you feel) their authentic brand of old school country on their self titled debut. With a rock solid rhythm section and just the right touch of fiddle, banjo, and slide guitar; The Far West’s music captures the spirit and mood of country music’s golden age. And their lyrical storytelling draws from a deep emotional well that transports you to your own private, dysfunctional Cheers – where everybody knows your pain. With songs like “Bitter, Drunk, and Cold,” “The Best Company Misery Ever Had,” “Bound to Lose,” and “Not Far to Fall,” The Far West dives headfirst into the deep end of the blues. But the power of these songs is that they don’t wallow in self pity over life’s hard knocks, they simply acknowledge that they’ve been there. And listening to lead singer Lee Briante’s voice, it’s clear that he’s no stranger to bourbon and broken hearts. He conveys the truth of life’s poignant moments with ease and authenticity. Not straining for high notes or screaming for effect, he just puts it in gear and drives it home to the heart. Listening to him, you’ll be glad to come along for the ride.
Cousin JD

Thursday, August 11, 2011

CMT's 20 Greatest Men puts Alan Jackson at top of the list

I always love watching these countdown type shows. Usually I like to argue over who gets in and who gets left out (I'll get to that later.) But CMT's 20 Greatest Men of the Last 20 Years was a wonderful stroll down memory lane. I loved hearing all the great songs from high school and remembering all those first kiss songs, and the songs that got me through the breakups and the just having a good time songs. It was also nice to hear some of today's country stars give their memories of these great singers and their songs. It was interesting to me that they just focused on the last 20 years of country music. This is the phase where more elements of pop and rock were introduced by the likes of Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, and Rascal Flatts. Not surprisingly, all three were ranked high on the CMT list. I was glad to see though, that the top two spots went to traditionalists George Strait and Alan Jackson (although I would have put George ahead of Alan.)
Now for the griping. ANY list that includes Johnny Cash should have Johnny Cash at number 1. That's just the way it is. Period. Also I missed a few of my faves from the list. I would have like to have seen Lyle Lovett (he's got that beautiful voice and quirky sense of humor), Josh Turner (Is there a sexier voice in country music?), and Dwight Yokam (listen to 1,000 Miles From Nowhere and tell me how he didn't make the list!)
Let me know who you think should have made the cut!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Song of the Week: Toby Keith, Made In America

With all the negative news about the debt crisis and credit downgrade, it's nice to stop and remember that there's a lot right with the USA. Toby Keith has never been afraid to help us remember. His new song, Made in America, reminds us that our people are still our greatest asset. So thanks to Toby for helping us keep things in perspective, and God bless the USA!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Taylor Swift knows what Teen Choice "Mean"s

Ho Hum, another day, another six awards for Taylor Swift. Taylor swept the categories she was nominated for at the 2011 Teen Choice Awards and even added the coveted "Ultimate Choice" award to her resume. She won six awards total including: Choice Female Artist, Choice Female Country Artist, Choice Break Up Song (Back to December), Choice Country Single (Mean), and Choice Red Carpet Fashion Icon. In all honesty, I used to have a little professional jealousy for Taylor for being so successful at such a young age. But the more I see the way she carries herself and expresses herself through her music, the more I have come to appreciate her as an ambassador to the next generation of country music fans. So congratulations Taylor for an award (or six, but who's counting?) well deserved!

Friday, August 5, 2011

She's no Lady, she's my fiancee

Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott talks wedding plans with Candy And Potter on Seattle's 94.1 KMVS. When Hillary marries Chris Tyrrrell there will be no bride only portraits and no money dances (sorry fellas!) But she will keep the tradition of the groom removing the garter and of course she will toss the bouquet. For those of us not on the guest list, we'll just have to get our romantic fix from their latest single, Just a Kiss.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Willie Nelson headlines 26th annual Farm Aid

Willie Nelson is still singing for his (and everyone elses') supper. He will lead the 26th annual Farm Aid concert next Saturday, August 13th at LiveStrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, KS. Gates open at noon and the show will go to about 11pm. Other notables who will crop up at the show include John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Dave Mathews and Jamey Johnson. To date, Farm Aid has raised over 39 million dollars to help family farmers. If you can't make the show, you can still contribute by purchasing Farm Aid gear or by sending a donation. In recognition of his efforts on behalf of farmers, Willie Nelson was recently inducted into the Agricultural Hall of Fame. (Just don't ask him what kind of crops he grows!)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Blake Shelton helps Dia Frampton "come alive" in The Voice concert

Blake Shelton made a surprise visit onstage for the kickoff concert for "The Voice" tour. After Dia finished her version of REM's Losing My Religion, she took a moment to address the audience at LA's Gibson ampitheater. She promised a special appearance by a talentend performer and coach. At the word "coach" the crowd erupted in applausae as Blake took the stage and joined Dia in Tom Petty's I Won't Back Down. Wouldn't it be great if we all had a coach like that?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Uh Oh Canada!

It's been a rough couple of days for our friends in the great white north. First Miranda Lambert lashes out at a politically correct reporter at the Ottawa Citizen, saying via Twiiter: "Dear mr writer at Ottawa citizen: next time u interview me, let's keep it about the music and not about your view on my stance on guns." Next Toby Keith cancels his July 31st performance at Alberta's Big Valley Jamboree due to throat problems. Hang in there my Canadian friends, hockey season is just around the corner!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Song of the Week

I always knew Miranda Lambert was a she-devil. Her put-men-in-their-place attitude helped inspire my song, "A Hard Man (Is Good to Find)." Her songs empower women and put a little fear of God in the strongest of men. Now Miranda has recrutied friends Ashley Monroe and Angeleena Presley to join her in her side project, Pistol Annies; and they've continued her ways with both barrels smokin' in their first single, Hell on Heels.