Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Dixie Chicks Make Headlines

The Dixie Chicks began climbing their way back to the top of the world with their latest multiple-platinum selling album, Home, last summer, but it looks like they may be on a downward spiral. Since our last press date, the Chicks hosted a New York City press conference revealing details concerning their highly-anticipated "Top Of The World Tour" sponsored by Lipton iced tea. Tickets for the entire tour went on sale a week following this major announcement and the Chicks broke concert ticket sales records by selling out 51 of their 59 concerts in America the day they went on sale. On March 1 alone, 867,000 tickets were sold, bringing in more that $49 million dollars. Their May 18 concert at Louisville's Freedom Hall was one of those shows which sold out in a matter of hours.

The Chicks' career was soaring higher than ever with the great success of Home and the anticipation of their first tour in three years, but their career took a major nosedive during a March 10 concert in London. Lead singer Natalie Maines expressed her opinion against the war that has since begun when she told the London audience, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas" Well, one thing you don't want to do is ruffle country music fans' patriotic feathers, but Natalie unfortunately made that huge mistake. As a result of this comment, radio stations around the country have banned Chicks' music, their current single, "Travelin' Soldier" dropped from the #1 spot on the country charts to #3, record sales have declined, sales of their recently released concert DVD have dropped and protesters have even begun destroying their CDs.

One wonderful aspect about being an American is the freedom of speech we enjoy, but one must learn when a comment is appropriate. As a rebuttal to her highly controversial comment, Natalie, Emily and Martie followed up with a statement saying, "We've been overseas for several weeks and have been reading and following the news accounts of our government's position. The anti-American sentiment that has unfolded here is astounding. While we support our troops, there is nothing more frightening than the notion of going to war with Iraq and the prospect of all the innocent lives that will be lost." Natalie went on to say, "I feel the President is ignoring the opinions of many in the U.S. and alienating the rest of the world. My comments were made in frustration and one of the privileges of being an American is you are free to voice your own point of view."

Although it hasn't helped in cooling down angry country fans much, Natalie has released a statement apologizing to the President: "As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful. I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect. We are currently in Europe and witnessing a huge anti-American sentiment as a result of the perceived rush to war. While war may remain a viable option, as a mother, I just want to see every possible alternative exhausted before children and American soldiers' lives are lost. I love my country. I am a proud American."

Now, a few comments from yours truly. I'm a huge Dixie Chicks fan, but, 1) It's a good thing the majority of their concerts are already sold out, because, if not, I think they would be singing in some mighty empty arenas and 2) I think they had better not head home to Texas anytime soon, because I don't think they would be very welcome. Would someone please lend me a hand as I step down from my soapbox!

CMT Flameworthy Awards

The final nominees for the CMT Flameworthy 2003 Video Music Awards have been announced. This second annual awards program will honor the best country videos, as well as best country video artists as seen on Country Music Television. The awards program, which will be hosted by Toby Keith and actress Pamela Anderson, will be broadcast live from Nashville's Gaylord Entertainment Center on CMT on April 7. Artists scheduled to perform include Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts and Shania Twain. The awards program will also honor the legendary "Man in Black," Johnny Cash for his huge contributions to American music.

To vote for your favorite country videos, log on to

www.cmt.com

.

Toby Keith Sweeps ACM Nominations

When the nominations for the 38th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards were recently announced, Toby Keith was the top dog, with a whopping eight nominations. Toby will vie for Entertainer of the Year, Top Male Vocalist, Album of the Year for Unleashed, Song of the Year and Single Record of the Year for "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)," and Vocal Event of the Year for "Beer For My Horses" with Willie Nelson. He will compete against himself in the Video of the Year category as he received two nominations, one for "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)" and the other for "Who's Your Daddy?"

Perennial fan favorite Alan Jackson followed close behind Toby with six nominations, including Entertainer, Top Male Vocalist, Song and Video of the Year for "Drive (For Daddy Gene)," Album for Drive and Vocal Event for "Designated Drinker" with George Strait. The biggest surprise in the list of nominees was Trick Pony, who garnered five nods. Heidi, Dean and Ira will vie for Top Vocal Group, Single Record and Video of the Year for "Just What I Do," Album for On A Mission and Vocal Event of the Year for "Whiskey River" with Willie Nelson. Kenny Chesney also received five nods, including Entertainer, Top Male Vocalist, Album for No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems, Single Record for "The Good Stuff" and Song of the Year for "A Lot Of Things Different."

And the nominees are: Entertainer of the Year: Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Dixie Chicks, Alan Jackson and Toby Keith; Top Female Vocalist: Terri Clark, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Shania Twain and Lee Ann Womack; Top Male Vocalist: Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw and George Strait; Top Vocal Duo: Brooks & Dunn, Hometown News, Montgomery Gentry, Sons of the Desert and The Bellamy Brothers; and Top Vocal Group: Diamond Rio, Dixie Chicks, Lonestar, Rascal Flatts and Trick Pony.

Top New Female Vocalist: Kellie Coffey, Jennifer Hanson, Rebecca Lynn Howard; Top New Male Vocalist: Joe Nichols, Blake Shelton and Darryl Worley; Top New Vocal Duo/Group: Emerson Drive, Nickel Creek and Pinmonkey; Album of the Year: Alan Jackson's Drive, Dixie Chicks' Home, Kenny Chesney's No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems, Trick Pony's On A Mission and Toby Keith's Unleashed; and Vocal Event of the Year: Toby Keith & Willie Nelson's "Beer For My Horses," Alan Jackson & George Strait's "Designated Drinker," Willie Nelson & Lee Ann Womack's "Mendocino County Line," Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow's "Picture," and Trick Pony & Willie Nelson's "Whiskey River."

Song of the Year: Kenny Chesney's "A Lot Of Things Different," Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)," Alan Jackson's "Drive (For Daddy Gene)," Rebecca Lynn Howard's "Forgive," and Rascal Flatts' "I'm Movin' On"; Single Record of the Year: Mark Wills' "19 Somethin'," Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)," Trick Pony's "Just What I Do," keith urban's "Somebody Like You," and Kenny Chesney's "The Good Stuff"; and Video of the Year: Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)," Alan Jackson's "Drive (For Daddy Gene)," Brad Paisley's "I'm Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin' Song)," Trick Pony's "Just What I Do," Tim McGraw's "She's My Kind Of Rain," and Toby Keith's "Who's Your Daddy."

In addition to these nominees, Brooks & Dunn, Lonestar and Wynonna will vie for the fan-voted 2nd Annual Home Depot Humanitarian Award. Check back next month for more details on how to vote for this award.

The 38th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards will be handed out on May 21 in Las Vegas. The ceremony will be hosted once again by Reba McEntire and will be broadcast live on CBS-Television.

Congratulations to all the nominees!

Opry Loses Two Members

The Grand Ole Opry and the entire country music community lost two of its members in recent weeks. Country outlaw Johnny Paycheck had been confined to a nursing home in recent years suffering from emphysema and other serious medical problems. The 64-year-old singer died in his sleep at Nashville's Vanderbilt University Medical Center on February 19. His life was highlighted with success as a country singer/songwriter, good fortune, bankruptcy, drugs, alcohol and run-ins with the law. After riding high on the charts with hits such as "Take This Job And Shove It," "A-11," "I'm The Only Hell (My Mama Ever Raised)," and "Old Violin," he was imprisoned for two years in the late 1980s when he shot a fellow bar-mate in a barroom brawl. Following this imprisonment, Johnny cleaned his life up and set out to resume the country career he once enjoyed. He went on to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1997. After a life full of struggles, just like a country song, Johnny died financially destitute.

Longtime Opry member "Jumpin'" Bill Carlisle, known for his trademark jumps in the middle of a song, played the Opry until the very end. He last performed on Friday, March 7, suffered a debilitating stroke on March 12 and passed away at his Nashville area home on March 17. The 94-year-old musician was born in Wakefield, Ky., near Taylorsville. Bill, his brother Cliff and their father formed "The Carlisle Family Saturday Night Barn Dance" on Louisville radio in 1929 before eventually moving on to Knoxville, Tenn. Bill went on to become a solo recording artist in the 1950s with well-known novelty hits including "Too Old To Cut The Mustard," "Knothole," "Shake-a-Leg," and "No Help Wanted." "Jumpin'" Bill Carlisle was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame just last year.

The "Possum" Honored by President Bush

The "King of Country Music," "The Possum," the one-and-only George Jones was honored by the President of the United States of America just last month. President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush presented George with the National Medal of Arts during a ceremony in the White House's Oval Office. George was one of a mere nine Americans bestowed with this great honor "for the singular distinction of their artistic careers." George is one of only a handful of country music artists who have ever received this great honor.

Congratulations, George!

New, But Familiar, Country Artists

Amanda Wilkinson, who gained fame with the country hit "26 Cents" as one-third of the trio The Wilkinsons along with father Steve and brother Tyler, has decided to go solo. Amanda is all grown up now at 21 years of age and has signed a record deal with Universal South Records. She is scheduled to begin recording her debut album later this spring with Tony Brown as producer.

Former Little Texas frontman Tim Rushlow also hopes to hit airwaves once again in the near future as he has put together a new band. After Little Texas' demise, Tim attempted a solo career which produced one Top 10 single, "She Misses Him." He has now formed a brand new band simply called Rushlow with guitarist and vocalist Doni Harris, bass guitarist and vocalist Tulley Kennedy, guitarist Kurt Allison, keyboardist and vocalist Billy Welch and drummer Rich Redmond. The band is currently in the process of recording their debut album for Lyric Street Records.

Wade Hayes, who hit the charts in the 1990s with hits like "Old Enough To Know Better," is planning his comeback as half of a brand new duo. Wade has teamed up with Mark McClurg, a longtime member of Alan Jackson's Strayhorns band, to form the duo McHayes. Wade and Mark are recording for Universal South Records and plan to hit store shelves with their debut album sometime this summer.

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."