Spring has finally arrived, the tulips are blooming, Thunder has been shot over Louisville, and we find ourselves smack in the middle of the 1996 Kentucky Derby Festival leading up to the 122nd Run for the Roses. This year's Derby Festival will make any country music fan happy. In addition to several local country bands playing at this year's Chow Wagons, Flatwoods, Ky's own Billy Ray Cyrus, Hank Williams, Jr., the Charlie Daniels Band, Sawyer Brown, and The Marshall Tucker Band will all be in town to help celebrate the festivities.
Billy Ray Cyrus and Sawyer Brown will be headlining this year's Philip Morris Festival of the Stars concert on Thurs. evening, May 2 at Freedom Hall. Admission to this sure-fire show is free after a $2 Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center parking charge. This show is bound to fill up fast, so plan to be in line plenty early to get a seat. Doors will open at 6:00 pm and the concert will begin at 7:30 pm.
If country with a rockin' edge is a little more your style, then you won't want to miss the Derby Festival Derby Eve Jam, presented by WAMZ, Friday evening, May 3 at Freedom Hall. This year's guest stars include Hank Williams, Jr., the Charlie Daniels Band, and The Marshall Tucker Band. Showtime is 7:30 pm and tickets cost $19.50.
Country crooner Vince Gill leads the nominees for the 30th Annual TNN Music City News Country Awards with seven nominations, including Entertainer of the Year, Male Artist of the Year, Vocal Collaboration of the Year for "I Will Always Love You" with Dolly Parton and "Go Rest High On That Mountain" with Kentucky's own Patty Loveless and Ricky Skaggs, also Single of the Year for these two tunes, and Video of the Year for "Go Rest High On That Mountain." George Strait followed with five nominations, while last year's Entertainer of the Year, Alan Jackson, captured four nominations. Kentucky's own Billy Ray Cyrus walked away with three nominations, including Entertainer of the Year, Male Artist of the Year, and Album of the Year.
Nominations were selected from ballots in the November and February issues of Music City News. Readers will be able to vote for their favorite country artists via ballots in Music City News's April issue and via 900 telephone numbers which will be aired on The Nashville Network. The awards will be handed out at the Grand Ole Opry house in Nashville, Tenn. at 8:00 pm EST on Monday evening, June 10, the first day of country music's Fan Fair. This gala event will be hosted by Lorrie Morgan, Martina McBride, and Sawyer Brown's Mark Miller and will be broadcast live on TNN.
The entire list of nominees is as follows: Entertainer of the Year: Billy Ray Cyrus, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, and George Strait; Female Artist of the Year: Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Lorrie Morgan, and Shania Twain; and Male Artist of the Year: Billy Ray Cyrus, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Ricky Van Shelton, and George Strait.
Vocal Duo of the Year: Bellamy Brothers, Brooks & Dunn, the Ellis Brothers, Sweethearts of the Rodeo, and John & Audrey Wiggins; Vocal Band of the Year: Alabama, Diamond Rio, Alison Krauss & Union Station, The Mavericks, and Sawyer Brown; and Vocal Group of the Year: 4 Runner, the Forester Sisters, The Moffatts, the Oak Ridge Boys, and the Statler Brothers.
Male Star of Tomorrow: Ty England, Wade Hayes, Ty Herndon, David Lee Murphy, and Bryan White; Female Artist of Tomorrow: Lisa Brokop, Terri Clark, Tareva Henderson, Alison Krauss, and Chely Wright; Christian Country Artist: Alison Krauss & the Cox Family, Susie Luchsinger, Paul Overstreet, Ricky Van Shelton, and Ricky Skaggs; and Comedian of the Year: Jeff Dunham, Jeff Foxworthy, Steve Hall & Shotgun Red, Mike Snider, and Ray Stevens.
Vocal Collaboration of the Year: "Go Rest High On That Mountain" with Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, and Ricky Skaggs, "One" with George Jones and Tammy Wynette, "On My Own" with Reba McEntire, Linda Davis, Martina McBride, and Trisha Yearwood, "I Will Always Love You" with Dolly Parton and Vince Gill, and "Somewhere In The Vicinity Of The Heart" with Shenandoah and Alison Krauss; and Single of the Year: George Strait's "Check Yes Or No," Vince Gill's "Go Rest High On That Mountain," Dolly Parton and Vince Gill's "I Will Always Love You," and Tracy Byrd's "The Keeper Of The Stars."
Video of the Year: George Strait's "Check Yes Or No," Vince Gill's "Go Rest High On That Mountain," Alan Jackson's "I Don't Even Know Your Name," John Michael Montgomery's "Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)," and Travis Tritt's "Tell Me I Was Dreaming"; and Album of the Year: George Strait's Lead On, George Jones and Tammy Wynette's One, John Berry's Standing On The Edge, Billy Ray Cyrus's Storm In The Heartland, and Shania Twain's The Woman In Me.
Good luck to all the nominees!
Garth Brooks was recently announced as the top-selling solo artist in domestic record sales, beating out pop and rock artists such as Brooks' idol, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, and even the King of Rock & Roll. Garth's latest album, Fresh Horses (which includes Garth's moving tribute to victims of the Oklahoma Federal Building bombing, "The Change"), has now sold over 3 million copies, giving Garth a total of 58 million albums sold. The Recording Industry Association of America says Billy Joel has sold 57 million albums; Elton John, 51 million; Michael Jackson, 48 million; and Elvis Presley, 41 million.
Garth is currently performing before sold-out audiences on his world tour which recently kicked off at the home of the 1996 Olympics, Atlanta, Ga. Congratulations, Garth, and keep up the good work!
Louisville's fall Arbitron radio ratings were recently announced and, once again, 97.5 FM WAMZ, the "Hot Country Leader" captured the number one spot for listeners 12 and older. 107.7 FM WHKW tied WAVG-AM for the number seven spot while 98.9 FM WKJK captured the number nine spot. Country oldies WTMT-AM tied WFIA-AM for the number 17 spot.
WAMZ program director and DJ Coyote Calhoun helped WAMZ recapture the No. 1 afternoon drive spot from 3:00 to 7:00 pm.
Congratulations to all the winners! Keep up the good work.
If you haven't already done so, then you'll definitely want to rush out to your favorite local record store and pick up Brooks & Dunn's brand new album, titled Borderline, which includes their brand new smash hit single, "My Maria." Country crooner George Strait is back with his brand new album, Blue Clear Sky. Toby Keith, of "Should've Been A Cowboy" fame, is back stronger than ever with his hot new release, "Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine On You" from his brand new CD, Blue Moon.
Sammy Kershaw fans won't want to miss his sixth album, interestingly titled Politics, Religion and Her. Keep your eyes open for hot newcomer Mindy McCready's debut effort, titled Ten Thousand Angels, which includes the hot title-track which is climbing the charts.
Women are taking country music by storm these days stronger than ever and three of Nashville's beauties will be performing right here in the river city. The action packed triple-billed concert, titled "Women of Country," stars Carlene Carter, Lorrie Morgan, and Pam Tillis and will be in town Thurs. evening, June 6 at 8:00 pm at Louisville Gardens. Never before have three country women toured together and this is a bit of history you won't want to let pass you by. Tickets are $31.00 and $26.00.
Mark your calendars now for a June 14 concert by Mark Chesnutt. Chesnutt will be performing at this year's 10th Annual CityFair "Country Jam" on the Riverfront Plaza's Belvedere. The best part about this show is that it is absolutely FREE, gratis, no dinero! Chesnutt will be performing all his greatest hits as well as songs from his latest album, Wings.
The "redheaded stranger," Willie Nelson, is "On The Road Again" and he'll be rolling into Louisville on June 20 for an unforgettable performance at the Palace Theatre. Also appearing at the Palace Theatre on Aug. 3 will be none other than the Statler Brothers. I'll have more information on these shows as time draws nearer.
Well, that's it for now. Always remember: Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, 'cause country music is comin' your way!