Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

ACM Millennium Awards

When the 32nd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards were handed out last month in Los Angeles, the Dixie Chicks, Faith Hill and Lonestar each took home a pair of trophies. Emily, Martie and Natalie, better known as the Dixie Chicks, were named Top Vocal Duo/Group and also collected the Album of the Year trophy for their multi-platinum selling Fly. Mrs. Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, held on to her crown as Top Female Vocalist (while her hubby held on to his crown as Top Male Vocalist) and captured her third consecutive trophy for Top Country Video for “Breathe.” Lonestar made a huge comeback this past year with their smash hit “Amazed,” which was named Single Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Although Shania Twain was not present to accept her award, the Canadian native was named Entertainer of the Year. Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry, better known as the hot new duo Montgomery Gentry, made the entire state of Kentucky proud as they won the Top New Vocal Duo/Group trophy, rising to the top after playing Kentucky honky-tonks for nearly 14 years. In addition to these awards, the legendary “First Lady of Country Music,” Tammy Wynette, was honored posthumously with “The Cliffie” – Pioneer Award.

And the winners are: Entertainer of the Year: Shania Twain; Top Female Vocalist: Faith Hill; Top Male Vocalist: Tim McGraw; Top Vocal Duo/Group: Dixie Chicks; Top New Female Vocalist: Jessica Andrews; Top New Male Vocalist: Brad Paisley; and Top New Vocal Duo/Group: Montgomery Gentry.

Single Record of the Year: Lonestar’s “Amazed”; Album of the Year: Dixie Chicks’ Fly; Song of the Year: Lonestar’s “Amazed,” written by Marv Green, Aimee Mayo and Chris Lindsey; Top Vocal Event: Clint & Lisa Hartman Black’s “When I Said I Do”; Top Country Video: Faith Hill’s “Breathe”; and “The Cliffie” – Pioneer Award: Tammy Wynette.

The following were named Instrumentalists of the Year: Glenn Worf - bass, Eddie Bayers-drums, Stuart Duncan-fiddle, Brent Mason-guitar, John Hobbs and Hargus Robbins tied for keyboard, Jerry Douglas-specialty instrument (dobro) and Jay Dee Maness-steel guitar. Radio Station of the Year: KUZZ-FM in Bakersfield, Ca.; Disc Jockey of the Year: Dusty Chandler of KMLE-FM in Phoenix, Arizona; Talent Buyer/Promoter of the Year: Randy Wright of Integrity Events in Nashville; Night Club of the Year: Gibson’s Caffe Milano in Nashville; and Casino of the Year: Boulder Station in Las Vegas.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Other Country Award Winners

While we are on the subject of recent awards, there are a few more I’d like to mention. ACM Entertainer of the Year Shania Twain was named the BMI Pop Songwriter of the Year for the second consecutive year last month. Shania’s “That Don’t Impress Me Much,” “You’ve Got A Way,” “You’re Still The One,” “From This Moment On” and “Man! I Feel Like A Woman,” all of which she co-wrote with her husband and producer Mutt Lange, were each on BMI’s most-performed list.

Garth Brooks may not be real visible these days, but he has not been forgotten. Garth will be one of the first two people to ever be inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame in Los Angeles later this month. This honor recognizes Garth as a “distinguished artist whose unique achievements embody the spirit of the world-renowned Hollywood Bowl.” Garth last performed at the famous venue during a 1994 sold-out show, along with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

In addition to the above-mentioned honors, Shania and Garth were both recognized at the recent Sixth Annual Blockbuster Entertainment Awards. Shania was named Favorite Female Artist, Country, Garth was named Favorite Male Artist, Country and the Dixie Chicks were named Favorite Duo or Group, Country. This awards special will air on FOX-TV on June 20 at 8 pm EDT.

Not exactly an award, but quite an honor just the same, country-pop songstresses Faith Hill and Shania Twain were recently included on People magazine’s annual list of the “50 Most Beautiful People.”

Congratulations to Shania, Garth, Faith and the Chicks!

Jo Dee Messina Burning It Up

Jo Dee Messina is on fire these days and there are no signs of her cooling down anytime soon. If you caught her performance on last month’s Academy of Country Music Awards and her spot on The Judds reunion television special, then you have probably guessed that she has a new album coming out. Jo Dee fans can expect Burn to hit store shelves later this summer and there is going to be some pretty hot music on the album. In addition to “That’s The Way It Is” and “Closer,” the two new songs she sang, respectively, on the above-mention specials, Burn will include a duet with Jo Dee’s friend and album co-producer, Tim McGraw. Tim was so drawn to the song “Bring On The Rain” that he wanted to lend his vocals to the track, and, needless to say, Jo Dee wisely accepted the offer.

Jo Dee’s personal life is just about as hot as her career these days. She and her tour manager, Don Muzquiz (whom she has been dating for nearly two years) have decided to tie the knot. Don recently proposed on bended knee and popped the question with a whopping 5.1-carat diamond ring. Needless to say, Jo Dee said, “Yes!”

Fans of country music’s hottest new redhead will be glad to hear that Jo Dee will be returning to the Derby city this month for a free concert. Jo Dee will be performing at Churchill Downs on Sunday, June 4. Although the concert is free, you must pick up tickets at any local Tobacco Road store; otherwise you will be charged $2.00 at the gate.

Grand Ole Opry Schedule Increases

Nashville, Tennessee tourists and fans of the longest-running radio program, the legendary Grand Ole Opry, are in luck as the Opry will increase its schedule this month to include a Tuesday afternoon matinee performance. Grand Ole Opry General Manager Pete Fisher says, “These shows will perfectly compliment the other excitement around the Opry house – recently announced Grand Ole Opry 75th Anniversary events, the new Opry Mills entertainment center, a full schedule of shows in the nearby Acuff Theatre and more.”

This special matinee performance of the Opry will begin on June 20 and run every Tuesday afternoon at 3 pm through August 8. And who better to kick off this special run of Opry performances than Kentucky’s favorite “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Loretta Lynn. And speaking of Loretta, the legend will be honored by the Country Radio Broadcasters during a ceremony in Nashville later this month. Loretta will be only the third artist to receive the Country Radio Broadcasters’ Career Achievement Award.  The only other two who have ever received this award are Eddy Arnold and Chet Atkins.

While you are visiting the Opry, be sure to allow plenty of time to enjoy the recently opened Opry Mills shopping, entertainment and eatery complex on the grounds of the former Opryland USA theme-park. This massive complex includes shopping for all ages, a 20-theater movie complex, an IMAX theater, live entertainment and plenty of good food, including the likes of Alabama’s Grill & Bar, Rainforest Café and even the Gibson Bluegrass Showcase restaurant, which includes live bluegrass music as well as Gibson’s bluegrass instrument factory, where you can watch mandolins and dobros being made right before your eyes.

Country Music Summer Vacation

If you and your family are looking for the perfect summer vacation now that school is out and waiting in long lines in the summer heat at Fan Fair is not up your alley, then pack up the kids and head to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. International superstar Dolly Parton’s very own theme-park Dollywood is a must for every member of the family, even Grandma and Grandpa. Dollywood offers more than 40 live music shows daily, offers a variety of mountain arts and crafts and has shopping for everyone. The kids will love the rides, especially Dollywood’s brand new addition this year: Dreamland Forest, a three-story treehouse full of water guns, water fountains, foam ball air-guns and even a slide or two.

For those of you who like to take in a good show, then Pigeon Forge has plenty to offer you. Two (of many) shows I recommend are Louise Mandrell and Lee Greenwood’s shows, in their own theaters. Both shows include plenty of selections from all genres of music and plenty of fancy footwork, but if you are looking for star power for your hard-earned dollar, then take in Louise’s show before Lee’s, as Lee appears much less in his show than Louise does in hers. This is so the show can go on when Lee is on the road. Not that Lee’s show is not entertaining, but when you pay for Louise Mandrell, you get just that – Louise Mandrell.

And if you like to eat as I do, then you don’t want to pass up an evening at the Dixie Stampede dinner theater, which Dolly claims to be the most fun place to eat in the Smokies. Not only will you be stuffed to the gills with a down-home, four-course country feast (which you have to eat with your fingers), but you will also be treated to a 90-minute show featuring 32 horses with plenty of North/South rivalry.

Kenny Rogers Breaking Records

The legendary Kenny Rogers still has it after all of these years and is breaking records in his senior days. The 61-year-old country crooner has become the oldest singer to top the country music charts, now that his current release, “Buy Me A Rose,” which includes backup vocals by Alison Krauss and Billy Dean, hit #1 on the Billboard country chart, a spot a Rogers tune hasn't reached since 1987, when his duet with Ronnie Milsap, “Make No Mistake, She’s Mine,” hit the #1 spot. Hank Snow had held the record for the oldest artist to top the country charts when he took “Hello Love” to #1 back in 1974 when he was 59-years-old.

Rogers' recent chart success has led the singer to other new ventures as well. A children’s book based on his recent comeback hit “The Greatest” will hit bookstore shelves this month. The book will include a collector’s edition CD of the Don Schlitz-penned song of the same name. Kenny says this is just the first in a series of books he is planning which will target 4- to 9-year-olds.

Congratulations to Kenny on all of his recent success! If you haven’t seen Kenny in concert in several years now, then you’re in luck. Kenny is scheduled to perform along with Pam Tillis on Friday, August 25 at the Kentucky State Fair. Stay tuned for ticket information as all fair shows, which normally go on sale in July.

Kentucky Headhunter Undergoes Surgery

Kentucky Headhunter Richard Young had a real health scare last month during a tour stop in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The 45-year-old Glasgow, Kentucky resident suffered a heart attack following that concert and underwent angioplasty. Richard has returned home to Kentucky and is recuperating. He is thankful to his fans for their love and support, stating, “The outpouring of concern has been overwhelming.”

Best wishes to Richard for a speedy recovery!

LeAnn Rimes Suing Her Father

Being a child star isn’t always what it is cracked up to be. Just ask LeAnn Rimes. LeAnn’s mother, Belinda Rimes, recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of LeAnn against her father, Wilbur Rimes, and her former manager, Lyle Walker. Wilbur Rimes and Walker allegedly set up LeAnn Rimes Entertainment, Inc. (LREI) as an organization to invest money raised from LeAnn’s record sales, ticket sales and merchandise sales. This lawsuit accuses Wilbur, who divorced LaAnn’s mother in 1997, and Walker of “fraud, breaches of fiduciary duty, gross mismanagement and dereliction of management duties and responsibilities.” The lawsuit further states that “Wilbur Rimes and Lyle Walker have received in excess of $14 million, while less than $5 million has been paid to LeAnn or invested for her benefit.” The suit claims that LeAnn is due more than $7 million in damages from the two and that she is entitled to nearly $30 million in exemplary damages.

In a recent interview with Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson on ABC-TV’s Good Morning America, 17-year-old LeAnn broke down crying when asked about this sensitive lawsuit. She told the two that her father is her best friend. LeAnn’s lawyer has issued a statement saying, “LeAnn loves both her mother and father very much. This is a very difficult matter for all concerned. We are hoping that this lawsuit, filed by Belinda on behalf of her daughter LeAnn, will be resolved in an expedient manner.”

Well, that’s it for this month. If you are headed to Nashville this month for Fan Fair, I hope you have a great time and I hope the weather holds up. If you do go, please drop us a note about your experience meeting your favorite stars and send us some photos to run in future issues. Always remember: “Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, ‘cause country music is comin’ your way.”