Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Pam Tillis to Join the Opry

Songstress Pam Tillis, known for hits such as "Maybe It Was Memphis," "All The Good Ones Are Gone," "Cleopatra, Queen of Denial" and "Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life)," was surprised by Grand Ole Opry member Little Jimmy Dickens during a recent performance on the famed show, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Following her performance, Dickens spoke on behalf of everyone at the Opry and invited Tillis to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Pam immediately lit up with a smile, threw her hands in the air, and said, "Oh, well, let me think about it yes!" Pam has been spending a lot of time at home in Nashville lately working on a new album. She said spending her Friday and Saturday nights at the Opry instead of on the sofa at home have really paid off. Pam will be inducted as a member of the Opry on August 26.

Oddly enough, Pam's famous father, the stutterin' Mel Tillis, is not an Opry member. Pam says, "I'd love to see him get in eventually. I haven't done too many things to make my dad slightly envious, but this might be one of them." We're sure Pam will do everything she can to see that dear ol' Dad gets the recognition he so deserves.

Congratulations, Pam!

NSAI Awards

Country crooner Vince Gill is no stranger to awards, and nothing was different when the 33rd Annual Songwriter Achievement Awards were recently handed out by the Nashville Songwriters Association, International. Gill, an avid songwriter, was named the Songwriter/Artist of the Decade. Not a small feat for an Okie who just so happens to have the ability to write a good tune and offer an incredible delivery of the song.

Diane Warren, who has written several hit songs for Reba McEntire, was named the 1999 Songwriter of the Year. Record producer and songwriter Tom Shapiro was named Songwriter of the Year. Tom wrote Terri Clark's "You're Easy On The Eyes," Neal McCoy's "Wink," Sara Evans & Vince Gill's "No Place That Far" and Tim McGraw's "She Never Lets It Go To Her Heart." Song of the Year honors went to none other than Lonestar's "Amazed" (which was penned by Marv Green, Chris Lindsay and Aimee Mayo), while contemporary Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman was named Songwriter/Artist of the Year.

The following tunes were voted favorite country songs of the year by members of NSAI: Lonestar's "Amazed"; Faith Hill's "Breathe"; Billy Ray Cyrus' "Busy Man"; George Jones' "Choices"; Dixie Chicks' "Cowboy Take Me Away"; Brad Paisley's "He Didn't Have To Be"; Lee Ann Womack's "I'll Think Of A Reason Later"; Sara Evans & Vince Gill's "No Place That Far"; Tim McGraw's "Remember Me"; Alan Jackson's "Pop A Top"; Chely Wright's "Single White Female"; Gary Allan's "Smoke Rings In The Dark"; Faith Hill's "The Secret Of Life"; Dixie Chicks' "Tonight The Heartache's On Me"; Steve Wariner's "Two Teardrops"; Clint & Lisa Hartman Black's "When I Said I Do"; Brad Paisley's "Who Needs Pictures"; Mark Wills' "Wish You Were Here"; George Strait's "Write This Down" and Kenny Chesney's "You Had Me From Hello."

Congratulations to all the songwriters!

McGraw/Chesney Hearing Delayed

As I reported last month, country crooners and fellow George Strait Country Music Festival performers Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney were arrested following a scuffle with the law on June 3 after a Strait show. The two, along with Mark Russo, a member of Tim's management team, were scheduled to appear in a Buffalo, New York court room on July 18, but the hearing was delayed for two weeks because, as Tim's attorney Thomas J. Eoannou put it, "the DA's office and the sheriff's department have been kind enough to review some materials we submitted to them and have delayed making a decision on how they will prosecute this case." Keep reading Cowboy Corner in upcoming months as I will report on any new developments in this case.

Boy Scouts Honor Louise Mandrell

The Boy Scouts of America bestowed their highest honor upon country entertainer Louise Mandrell just last month when they presented her the Silver Buffalo Award. Louise was presented this great honor before taking the stage at her very own Louise Mandrell Theater in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Louise has helped raise over $1 million for the Boy Scouts of America with her annual Louise Mandrell Celebrity Shoot and the Louise Mandrell Mountain Run for Boy Scouts. Louise joined a very elite group of former recipients, including Walt Disney, Gerald Ford, Bob Hope and Jimmy Stewart.

Congratulations, Louise, and keep up the good work!

Ricochet Loses Member to Retirement

Country group Ricochet, best known for hits like "Daddy's Money," has lost its second original member. Drummer Jeff Bryant left the group last year due to carpal tunnel syndrome, and now steel guitarist Teddy Carr has decided to retire. Teddy decided to retire from the road to spend more time with his family, which will be expanding later this year when he and his wife Denise welcome their first child into the world. Teddy won't just be sitting around and rocking his new baby though as he now owns and operates his very own carpet and upholstery cleaning business in Clarksville, Tennessee.

As they say in show business, "The show must go on," and it has. Teddy has been replaced by Shannon "Shan" Farmer, a friend of Teddy's. Shan has already hit the road with the group. Fans can expect Ricochet's third album, titled What You Leave Behind, to hit store shelves on August 22.

Best wishes to Teddy and Denise (and baby too)!

Fan Fair Moving!!!

Country music fans and Country Music International Fan Fair attendees will be glad to know that starting next year, Fan Fair will no longer be held at the dilapidated, non-air-conditioned Tennessee State Fairgrounds, Fan Fair's home since 1982. The Country Music Association announced just last month that Fan Fair 2001 will move to downtown Nashville, near the brand new Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum scheduled to open next spring. Autograph booths and exhibits will be in the Nashville Convention Center, while all concerts will be held at Adelphia Coliseum, home of the Tennessee Titans. The change of venue will not be the only difference with Fan Fair next year though. The week-long event which allows fans to meet their favorite country artists, as well as hear hours of live concerts, will be shortened to a long weekend, running from Thursday, June 14, 2001 to Sunday, June 17. Good news for Fan Fair goers: the office of Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell says that Fan Fair should become Nashville's "signature downtown summer-time event," promising a "more intimate partnership" between Nashville and the music industry than has existed in the past.

Country Family Album

Congratulations are in order for Dixie Chick Natalie Maines, as she and actor Adrian Pasdar were recently married. The happy couple exchanged vows a little past midnight on June 24 after the Chicks played to a sold-out crowd in Las Vegas. Natalie and Adrian were hitched at A Little White Wedding Chapel and following their ceremony, joined the other two-thirds of the Dixie Chick trio for a night in the casinos. If you have a keen eye, you can catch Adrian playing a policeman in the Chicks' "Goodbye Earl" video. Congratulations to Natalie and Adrian!

Susan Ashton, who has left her contemporary Christian career behind to pursue a career in country music, recently became engaged to her co-manager Kelly Brooks. And, yes, if you are wondering (because the name is sooooo familiar), Kelly as a matter of fact just so happens to be the brother of a certain country singer who we'll refer to as Garth. Kelly is a key employee at his brother's company GB Management. A wedding date is yet to be set. Congratulations and best wishes to Susan and Kelly!

The "working man's singer"; Sammy Kershaw is currently undergoing what appears to be quite an ugly and bitter divorce. Sammy's wife Kim has not been allowing the couple's 12- and 14-year-old daughters to visit Sammy at his new pad, which he is reportedly sharing with fellow country singer Lorrie Morgan. As part of the divorce settlement, Sammy will reportedly split the profits from the sale of the couple's former residence, will buy Kim a new house and pay her at least $750 per week. Fortunately for Sammy, a Davidson County circuit judge recently awarded Sammy "reasonable visitation" with his daughters after giving Kim a week's notice.

Patsy Lynn, who makes up half of the country duo The Lynns along with twin sister Peggy (who just so happen to be daughters of the legendary Loretta Lynn), is a momma once again. Patsy and husband Phillip Russell welcomed son Phillip David Russell into the world one day prior to Independence Day, just in time to enjoy the fireworks. Phillip is the couple's second child and weighed in at 7 lbs., 6 oz., measuring 20 in. Congratulations to Patsy and Phillip!

Country Gold, Platinum, and Record Breakers

As we all know, the Dixie Chicks are no strangers to breaking records. Natalie, Emily, and Martie have gone and done it again, this time breaking a record held by country supergroup Alabama. The Dixie Chicks' Fly album has spent over 32 weeks at the top of the Billboard Country Albums Chart, the longest run a group has ever resided there. This month marking one-year since its release, Fly has topped the charts for more than 60% of the year, which is obviously no small feat. Fly has sold over six million copies, following a mere three million copies behind sales for the trio's highly acclaimed debut album, Wide Open Spaces. And as if record sales weren't good enough, the Chicks are selling out concerts across the country on their first-ever headlining tour. They will bring their one-of-a-kind show to the Kentucky State Fair on opening night, August 17. Be there or be square!

While we're on the topic of not being a stranger, George Strait is no stranger to platinum records. "The Cowboy" was recently presented a plaque by the Recording Industry Association of America commemorating his 25th platinum album certification for Latest Greatest Straitest Hits. Only Elvis Presley has sold more records for male solo artists. Eleven of George's 25 platinum albums have been certified multi-platinum, while his Strait Out Of The Box box set has been certified quadruple-platinum, selling over 4-million copies. George's box set is tied with Led Zeppelin's as the second best-selling box set of all time. Bruce Springsteen holds the top spot.

Tim McGraw is another artist who has grown quite used to platinum records. His current album A Place In The Sun has been certified triple-platinum for sales of more than 3-million copies. Lee Ann Womack's newly released, critically-acclaimed album I Hope You Dance has been certified gold for sales of more than 500,000 copies.

Congratulations to the Dixie Chicks, George, Tim, and Lee Ann!

Well, that's it for this month. I look forward to seeing ya'll at the country shows of the state fair. Don't forget: Dixie Chicks & Ricky Skaggs, August 17 (paid); Brooks & Dunn and Lonestar, August 19 (paid); Oak Ridge Boys, Aug 20 (free); Chad Brock, Clay Davidson, & Montgomery Gentry, August 22 (free); Ronnie Milsap, August 23 (free); Kenny Rogers & Pam Tillis, August 25 (paid) and Wynonna & Diamond Rio on August 27 (paid).

If you can't wait until the fair for a good country concert, head on down to the Waterfront Park on the Ohio River on August 5 for a FREE concert by country outlaw Travis Tritt. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, 'cause country music is comin' your way."