Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

ACM Awards to be Handed Out May 9

Despite some serious bad press brought on by the lawsuit between her and her father, 18-year-old LeAnn Rimes has been chosen to host the 36th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards program to be held May 9 at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles, Cal. Fans won't want to miss this program which will air live at 8 pm EDT on CBS-Television as some of the biggest names in country music will perform, including the likes of Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Sara Evans, Billy Gilman, Toby Keith, Lonestar, Jo Dee Messina, Brad Paisley, SHeDAISY, the Warren Brothers, Lee Ann Womack, and Dwight Yoakam. Presenters will include Trace Adkins, Gary Allan, Jessica Andrews, Tracy Byrd, Mark Chesnutt, Emily Robison & Martie Siedel of the Dixie Chicks, The Kinleys, Tracy Lawrence, Neal McCoy, Montgomery Gentry, John Michael Montgomery, Mark Miller of Sawyer Brown, Aaron Tippin, Bryan White and his wife, Erika Page, and Mark Wills. Be sure to tune in for what's sure to be an unforgettable show.

Country Blockbuster Entertainment Awards

Country music was well represented when the 7th Annual Blockbuster Entertainment Awards were handed out just last month in Los Angeles. The "First Couple of Country Music," Tim McGraw and Faith Hill continued their winning streak as they were named Favorite Country Male Artist and Favorite Country Female Artist respectively. The Dixie Chicks were named Favorite Country Duo or Group, while LeAnn Rimes' "Can't Fight The Moonlight" from Coyote Ugly was named Favorite Song From a Movie. All winners were chosen by fans who voted either in a Blockbuster store or online.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Country Music Hall of Fame Grand Opening May 17

The brand new $37 million Country Music Hall of Fame will open in downtown Nashville just a stone's throw away from the former home of the legendary Grand Ole Opry, the historic Ryman Auditorium on May 17. This state-of-the-art 130,000 square-foot building will house the largest collection of country music memorabilia and archives, enough to whet any country music fan's appetite. The grand opening ceremony will begin at 9 am EDT including Country Music Hall of Famers and Grand Ole Opry Stars arriving on a red carpet appropriately positioned outside the front of the new facility. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will follow at 10 am. The grand opening ceremony, as well as the new Hall of Fame are open to the public and free of charge until 6 pm that day.

Farm Aid XIV in Indiana

Farm Aid President and country music entertainer extraordinaire, the "Red-headed Stranger," Willie Nelson recently announced that the 14th Farm Aid concert to help prevent the demise of America's family farms will be held in Indiana, the home-state of co-founder John Mellencamp. This concert will be held at the Verizon Wireless Music Center in Noblesville, In., just outside of Indianapolis on Sept. 29. Although an entire lineup of performers has not been announced, it has been confirmed that Willie and John will be joined by Neil Young, making up the trio of artists who founded this benefit concert in 1985. Keep reading in future months for ticket information.

In addition to the day-long Farm Aid concert, Willie has announced another event to raise money for America's farmers. The Willie Nelson 10K for Farm Aid race will be run on Oct. 21 in Austin, Texas. Following the run, runners and fellow Farm Aid supporters will be treated to a concert by Willie himself.

Dollywood's Festival of Nations

When international superstar Dolly Parton headed home to Pigeon Forge, Tenn. last month to kick off the 16th season of her Smoky Mountain theme park, Dollywood, she brought friends from around the world with her. On April 7, Dollywood kicked off its brand new Festival of Nations, a month-long celebration running through May 6 which allows park visitors to enjoy music, customs, and food from countries such as Russia, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, Kenya, Ireland, The Ukraine, the Czech Republic, and Bulgaria. While introducing guests to exciting cultures from around the globe, country's all-American gal Dolly proudly represented the United States during a parade of nations through the park on opening day. This festival is a must for any music fan, as I promise you will be wowed with the likes of the Russian Stavropolye Cossacks State Dance company and the Irish "Moonshine" River Dance performance, each including authentic music, dance, and traditional costumes.

If you and your family are aquatically inclined, then does Dolly ever have an adventure for you! She will open her brand new waterpark, called Dolly's Splash Country on May 19. Dolly will be on hand to open this new adventure, which is located adjacent to Dollywood and includes water slides, wave ponds, and raft rides for all ages.

During our recent annual trip to the Smokies, my wife, four-year-old son, and two-year-old daughter enjoyed a finger-lickin' good meal and show featuring over 30 trick-riding horses at Dolly's own Dixie Stampede, which Dolly rightfully touts as "the most fun place to eat in the Smokies." And while you're in Pigeon Forge, my son Jacob would strongly recommend that you stop by to see his favorite, Louise Mandrell's show featuring some of the best country, gospel, jazz, Cajun, and Latin music and fancy footwork in the Smokies, all under one roof at the Louise Mandrell Theater.

Reba Heading to TV... and Louisville

Country music's most successful red-head, Reba McEntire has made quite an impact on Broadway recently with her starring role in Annie Get Your Gun. Although her run on Broadway will come to a close later this month, Reba is far from ending her acting career. As reported earlier, she has committed to star in her very own WB network sitcom, tentatively titled Sally, but that's not all. Reba has garnered such critical acclaim on Broadway as Annie Oakley, that she may even star as the legendary gun-slinging gal in a CBS-Television movie based on the Broadway play.

Fans who may be worried that Reba has left country music for a career in acting need not fear as she will be hitting the road with a herd of country girls this summer. Reba will headline the "Girls' Night Out Tour," which will also include newcomers Carolyn Dawn Johnson and "There Is No Arizona" singer Jamie O'Neal, "Born To Fly" singer Sara Evans, and the incredibly talented Martina McBride. Reba and the girls will kick the tour off in July in Las Vegas, and wrap up the tour right here in the Derby city on Aug. 18 at the Kentucky State Fair. This is a show that no country music fan will want to miss.

Country Losses

Former BlackHawk singer/songwriter Van Stephenson passed away at his Nashville home Apr. 9 following a lengthy battle with cancer. 47-year-old Van underwent skin cancer surgery in early 1999 and soon left BlackHawk to fight this dreaded disease and spend more time with his family, which include his wife, Karen, and children Julie, Katie, and Wes. Van has written hits such as Crystal Gayle's "Your Kisses Will," and Restless Heart's "Bluest Eyes In Texas" and "Big Dreams In A Small Town." He often co-wrote with Dave Robbins, who later made up the country trio known as BlackHawk along with lead singer Henry Paul. BlackHawk has enjoyed top 10 hits such as "Down In Flames," "Every Once In A While," "Goodbye Says It All," and "I Sure Can Smell The Rain."

On April 19, the late country music pioneer Ernest "Pop" Stoneman's 77-year-old son John Stoneman passed away at his home in Jonesville, Va. John, who performed along with his family's band when he was younger, passed away after suffering heart failure.

Our condolences go out to country-Bluegrass picker and singer Ricky Skaggs upon the loss of his mother, Dorothy May Skaggs last month. Ms. Skaggs, who is credited as the writer of the much-recorded Bluegrass tune "All I Ever Loved Was You," passed away at her home in Blaine, Ky. on April 6.

We would also like to extend our deepest sympathies to Toby Keith and his entire family upon the recent loss of his father. Hubert K. "H.K." Covel, Jr. was killed in an automobile accident on Mar. 24 near his home in Oklahoma. Mr. Covel was driving home from a cookout when his pickup truck crossed the median and crashed into an oncoming charter bus, killing him instantly.

Country Family Album

There has been a real baby boom in the country music family lately. Congratulations are in order for "Every Light In The House Is On" singer Trace Adkins and his wife Rhonda as they are expecting their second child. Three-year-old daughter Mackenzie will have a baby sister come Sept. This will be Trace's fourth daughter as he has two other daughters from a previous marriage.

"When The Good Die Young" singer Tracy Lawrence has overcome his rocky past and is happy to announce that he and his wife Becca are fulfilling lifelong dreams as they are expecting their first child. Congratulations, Tracy and Becca!

We'd like to send our congratulations and best wishes to Lonestar lead singer Richie McDonald and his wife Lorie as they welcomed their third child, daughter Maisie Elizabeth McDonald into the world on April 11. Maisie weighed in at 6 lbs. and measured 19 ½ inches long. Mother and baby are both doing great.

As I've reported in past months, country music's workin' man Sammy Kershaw and his wife Kim have been going through a pretty ugly divorce. Well, the divorce was finalized just last month on April 12 (Sammy was ordered to pay $4,000 alimony and $6,500 child support per month, as well as a one-time fee of $35,000 to cover legal costs), and a mere five days later he and his girlfriend, country songstress Lorrie Morgan announced their engagement on live television on Live with Regis & Kelly. The two have set a wedding date of Sept. 29. In the meantime, fans of the happy couple can enjoy a wonderful duets album which also features a few solo numbers by each of the two, appropriately titled I Finally Found Someone.

George Strait Country Music Festival Tickets On Sale Now

As you all know by now, the George Strait Country Music Festival is heading to town Memorial Day weekend on Sun., May 27. This year, George is bringing yet another stellar lineup which includes the likes of Asleep At The Wheel, BR5-49, Sara Evans, Alan Jackson, Lonestar, Brad Paisley, the Warren Brothers, and Lee Ann Womack when this all-day concert rolls into Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, beginning at 12:30 pm EDT. Tickets are available now for $59.50, $49.50, and $39.50, and can be purchased by calling TicketMaster at (502) 361-3100.

Well, that's it for this month. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, `cause country music is comin' your way."