Country singer and instrumentalist extraordinaire Marty Stuart is going to have a Christmas to remember this year. Marty has been invited to perform for the President of the United States as part of "The National Christmas Pageant of Peace." Marty will reportedly sing the Bill Monroe holiday classic "Christmas Time's A Coming" with the musical accompaniment of the Marine Corps Band in Washington D.C. on December 8, prior to President Clinton lighting the nation's Christmas tree.
This holiday season is also sure to be memorable for "Strawberry Wine" singer Deana Carter. Deana has been slated to serve as the Grand Marshall of Nashville, Tenn.'s annual Christmas parade on December 5. Deana will kick off the festivities as she will ride on the parade's lead float.
Judd fans won't want to miss Mama Judd's (a.k.a. Naomi Judd) A Holiday Romance Christmas movie on CBS-Television on December 8. Be sure to tune in to see how Naomi's acting abilities stand up to those of her movie star daughter Ashley Judd.
Louisville's favorite country gal Patty Loveless headed back home to Kentucky last month to kick off the Christmas season a little early. Patty boarded the "Santa Special," a CSX Transportation train which delivers gifts to those in need throughout Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee. She rode the train and helped spread some holiday cheer all the way from her birthplace of Pikeville, Ky. to Kingsport, Tenn. Patty says, "I can't imagine a better way to begin the season than being part of something so giving to others. I'm proud to be a part of such a grand tradition," a tradition that has provided gifts for residents of remote areas for 56 years now.
"Santa" hats off to Patty for taking time out to help others this Christmas!
Another member of the country music family has passed on. Singer, songwriter and actor Hoyt Axton passed away Oct. 26 at the age of 61. Hoyt, who was the son of the late Mae Boren Axton (best known for having written Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel"), passed away from a long battle with heart disease. After leaving college and the Navy, Hoyt made his first mark on the music world by writing the Kingston Trio's hit "Greenback Dollar." He went on to pen such classic tunes as Three Dog Night's "Joy To The World" and "Never Been To Spain," and Steppenwolf's "The Pusher." As a singer, Hoyt is best remembered for his "Boney Fingers,""When The Morning Comes,""A Rusty Old Halo" and "Lion In The Winter," to name a few. As an actor, Hoyt will be best remembered for his roles in the movies The Black Stallion and Gremlins.
We would like to offer our condolences to Hoyt's wife, four sons and his daughter.
If you've got Garth Brooks fans, or better yet Chris Gaines fans, on your holiday shopping list this year, then you just may be in luck. Since record sales are hovering a little over the half-million mark for Garth's latest musical endeavor, In The Life Of Chris Gaines, Garth's record label, Capitol Records is offering retailers a $3 discount on each of these records if they lower the price of the pop CD including Garth's alter ego's greatest hits. This ploy should help increase record sales, as well as prevent a large number of unsold records from being returned to the record label as a loss. Garth has never before experienced such mediocre record sales like this and he is reportedly quite baffled and is receiving a lot of heat and criticism over the situation.
Although Garth's latest CD has been struggling at the checkout counter, it hasn't hindered his total record sales much. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) recently named Garth the best-selling solo male artist of the 20th century. Garth's total sales of 89 million records have well surpassed all other recording artists throughout history except for one group: The Fab Four, The Beatles. John, Ringo, George and Paul have sold an astronomical 106 million albums. Congratulations to Garth and The Beatles!
And while we're on the subject of Garth, fans will want to tune into CBS-Television on December 2 as Garth is slated to perform live on The Sports Illustrated's 20th Century Sports Award Show which will be hosted by Bryant Gumbel. This show will honor the greatest athletes of the century, including the likes of Louisville's own Muhammad Ali, Richard Petty, Peggy Fleming, Magic Johnson and many more.
We would like to extend our deepest sympathy and send out prayers to Ricochet's bass player Greg Cook and his entire family upon the recent death of his mother. Greg's mother passed away last month in Oklahoma following quite a lengthy illness.
Congratulations are in order for "A Little Past Little Rock" singer Lee Ann Womack and the love of her life, Frank Liddell. Lee Ann and Frank tied the knot in a private ceremony in Nashville on November 6. The two are the proud parents of 11-month-old daughter, Anna Lise. Lee Ann has another daughter, Aubrie, with her ex-husband and fellow country singer Jason Sellers. Best wishes to the happy couple.
A week before being confirmed, country music's workin' man Aaron Tippin predicted that his wife Thea was with child because he was experiencing sympathy pains. Sure enough, the following week Aaron and Thea found out that they will welcome their second child into the world next June. Aaron has a 21-year-old daughter Charla from a previous marriage, and he and Thea's son Teddy will turn two this month. Congratulations to Aaron and Thea!
Well, another Dixie Chick marriage has now bitten the dust. All of the phenomenal success of the Dixie Chicks this year has taken a toll on the girls' personal lives as lead singer Natalie Maines and her husband separated earlier this year, and now fiddler Martie Seidel and her husband Ted recently filed for divorce. Things seem to be going well with Emily Erwin in the love department though as she just married fellow musician Charlie Robison earlier this year.
"Love Of My Life" singer Sammy Kershaw and his wife Kimberly are also divorcing. Kimberly filed for divorce just last month stating irreconcilable differences between the two. Reportedly the court papers she filed claimed that the two have not lived together since July.
The Tanya Tucker wedding soap opera continues. Tanya and fiancé, songwriter Jerry Laseter have still not exchanged vows, but now there may be a little kink in things. Jerry was arrested last month for domestic violence after he reportedly pushed Tanya and she suffered a bump and a bruise on her forehead as she fell into a bedpost. The two were supposedly arguing over Tanya firing the babysitter for the couple's six-month-old daughter, Layla. Tanya and Jerry released a joint press-release stating, "As parents, you are daily challenged with the best decision to make for your children. Jerry and I are not only dedicated and committed to each other, but our children as well. We had a disagreement over a child matter, and, being new parents, that happens. This has been a learning experience for both of us."
If I may add my two cents worth into this ongoing saga, I have two questions. First of all, if Tanya and Jerry are so "dedicated and committed to each other," then why did Tanya call the cops and have her fiancé arrested (and if Tanya didn't call the cops, then who did)? And secondly, is a man that physically abuses you, regardless of the situation, a man worth marrying? I will now step down from my soapbox.
Traditionalist Alan Jackson made quite a statement when he broke into George Jones' "Choices" during his performance of "Pop A Top" on the recent Country Music Association Awards program. Now he and "the other George," George Strait are teaming up for a power duo on a song titled "Murder On Music Row." The song slams Nashville's country music industry for killing traditional country music. This much talked about single was written by Larry Cordle and Larry Shell and includes lyrics such as "Someone killed country music, cut out its heart and soul, they got away with murder, down on Music Row." Fans can look for this huge duet on George's next album scheduled to hit store shelves in March.
I'm sure there will be quite a crowd on hand at Nashville's Gaylord Entertainment Center this New Year's Eve as husband and wife Tim McGraw and Faith Hill will co-headline this year's millennium bash. This double-header show will also include newcomers Jessica Andrews and the Clark Family Experience. As for additional co-headlining dates, there has been talk that Tim and Faith will once again hit the road together next year, but we'll just have to sit back and wait to see if that will happen. I'll let you know as soon as I hear anything, so keep reading.
Probably the most anticipated concert this New Year's Eve will be The Judds reunion tour in Phoenix, Arizona. Naomi and Wynonna Judd performed their last concert on December 4, 1991 due to Naomi's diagnosis of hepatitis C. Naomi's hepatitis has since gone into remission and she is busier than ever these days with her own weekly syndicated radio program, as well as the Christmas movie I mentioned above on December 8. As for Wynonna, her long-anticipated next album is due to hit record stores in mid-January. Fortunately for fans who can't fly to Phoenix to experience this concert, there has been talk of the concert being recorded for a live album. As for an upcoming reunion tour, there has also been talk of this to be determined partially based on the success of the millennium blowout show. Let's keep our fingers crossed that Naomi and Wynonna may once again roll into Louisville for a Judds concert.
Country music's biggest-haired artist, Lyle Lovett (a.k.a. the former Mr. Julia Roberts) will be ringing in the millennium Texas-style. Lyle will perform at 3rd. St. in Austin, Tex. on New Year's Eve along with artists Shawn Colvin and Kelly Willis, along with Kelly's husband Bruce Robison. These artists will be joined by approximately 20,000 Texan New Year party-goers.
Well, that's it for this millennium. I would like to wish you and your family the Merriest Christmas and the Happiest of New Years. If you are in a position to help those less fortunate this holiday season, please do whatever you can to brighten someone's holiday. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, `cause country music is comin' your way."
We'll see ya in the next millennium.