Independence Day, Country Style
The calendar and the thermometer both say that summer has arrived, therefore it is time to rub on the sunscreen, fire up the grill, put a big, juicy watermelon on ice and buy the kids a box of sparklers. Our nation's birthday is upon us and it's time to CELEBRATE. Some Americans celebrate the 4th of July with a backyard barbecue, some take advantage of the holiday and hit the road for a summer vacation and some hit the stage to ring in the holiday in song. And that's just what several country artists will be doing this 4th of July. Lee Ann Womack will be performing in Nashville, along with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys fame and Al Green, as well as the Nashville Symphony. This special concert will take place at Nashville's Riverfront Park and will be broadcast live on the cable network A&E.
Dolly Parton will be celebrating the Fourth in a really big way as she is heading to Washington D.C. to take part in the annual "A Capitol Fourth" concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building. Parton will perform along with the legendary Earl Scruggs and The Chieftains. This concert will be broadcast live on PBS, National Public Radio and the American Forces Radio and Television Network for our military troops abroad. In conjunction with this special concert, Parton will be Larry King's guest for the full hour of CNN's Larry King Live on July 3.
Kenny Rogers, Parton's good pal and occasional duet partner, will also be celebrating in grand fashion. Rogers will appear at Los Angeles' Hollywood Bowl July 2-4 along with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra as part of the July 4th Fireworks Spectacular.
The "Coal Miner's Daughter," Butcher Holler, Ky. native Loretta Lynn, has a busy 4th of July weekend in store for her fans. Lynn will be on hand at her ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, on July 5 for the grand opening of a brand new museum dedicated especially to her fans. She opened a new, state-of-the-art museum including career memorabilia and personal artifacts a few years ago, but this one, which is located in her historic grist mill, is full of dolls and various gifts given to her by her beloved fans throughout her illustrious career. That evening, Lynn will perform a concert on the grounds of her ranch.
The BULL Has Ridden Off Into the Sunset
If you've been cruisin' down the road lately and flipped the radio over to 93.1-FM WYBL, "The Bull," then I'm sure you've noticed that classic country music is sounding a lot like smooth jazz these days. 97.5-FM WAMZ program director and on-air personality Coyote Calhoun recently told me that "The Bull" unfortunately did not have the signal strength to reach the demographics to keep classic country radio alive. To fill in the vast hole left by the demise of "The Bull," country powerhouse WAMZ has restructured its playlist to include country classics along with today's hottest new country. In my opinion, WAMZ has evolved into the perfect country radio station. It's great to hear up-and-coming country artists like Jeff Bates and Dusty Drake, seasoned performers like George Strait, Martina McBride and Reba McEntire and country artists of yesteryear like George Jones, Dolly Parton, Conway Twitty and Merle Haggard all within a 20-minute span on the same radio station.
Hats off to Coyote and the rest of the gang at WAMZ for giving Louisville ALL the country music we want to hear!
Dwight Yoakam Gets Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame
Pikeville, Kentucky-born, hip-shaking honky-tonk rocker Dwight Yoakam has been turning heads ever since he migrated to California back in 1977 to pursue a music career. Yoakam defined his own brand of country music with hits like "Guitars, Cadillacs and Hillbilly Music," "Honky Tonk Man," "Little Sister," "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," and "Streets of Bakersfield" along with pal and mentor Buck Owens. Although he has sold millions of records, Yoakam's creative talents don't stop with music. He has successfully taken the plunge into the acting world, appearing in movies like Sling Blade, The Newton Boys, Panic Room and the current playing Hollywood Homicide. His musical and acting talents recently earned Yoakam great recognition when he was honored with the 2,227th star on Hollywood's famed Walk of Fame last month. Yoakam's star lies right next to country legend Earl Scrugg's star at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.
When accepting his star, Yoakam made it a priority to thank his musical influences: Emmylou Harris, Buck Owens, Linda Ronstadt, Merle Haggard, Gram Parsons, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, the Byrds, Tommy Collins, Clarence White & The Kentucky Colonels and the Monkees. He said, "Even to have had the opportunity to have a record deal was something monumental and obviously to have finally been signed to a recording contract by a major label and then to actually have records become hits and sell millions and millions of records, that in and of itself is enough success to hold me for the rest of my life."
Dwight Yoakam fans can expect a brand new album to hit store shelves in the near future. Titled Population Me, this will be Yoakam's debut album on his very own recently formed record label, Electrodisc.
Congratulations to Dwight for this much deserved honor!
Trace Adkins to Join Opry
The long-legged, deep-voiced country crooner Trace Adkins got the surprise of a lifetime during a Grand Ole Opry performance last month. The vertically-challenged Opry legend Little Jimmy Dickens joined Adkins on stage between songs, climbed up on a step-ladder next to Adkins and popped the big question. Dickens asked, "Just how bad would you like to become a member of our Grand Ole Opry family?" Adkins humbly replied, "I want it bad. I just want you all to know this is one of the happiest nights of my life and I feel really honored to be here."
Adkins will be officially inducted into the legendary Grand Ole Opry on August 23. Congratulations, Trace!
Tim McGraw Headed for the Big Screen
Now that Tim McGraw has wrapped up his hugely successful Tim McGraw & The Dancehall Doctors' One Band Show tour, he is heading for a new adventure. McGraw began filming his very first movie just last month. His movie debut, Black Cloud, was written and is being directed by actor Rick Schroder (of NYPD Blue and Silver Spoons fame) and it is expected to debut at the Sundance Film Festival next year. McGraw will portray a sheriff in this inspirational movie "about a Native American boxer facing personal challenges while fighting for a spot on the U.S. Olympic boxing team." Not only will fans be able to watch McGraw throughout the movie, but they will also have the pleasure of hearing new Tim McGraw music to be featured on the soundtrack.
Keep reading in the months to come for updates regarding McGraw's acting debut.
100 Greatest Country Songs: Industry vs. Fans
Country Music Television recently aired a special titled 100 Greatest Songs of Country Music as voted on by country music professionals and experts. Tammy Wynette's classic "Stand By Your Man" topped the list, followed by her one-time husband and duet partner, George Jones, with "He Stopped Loving Her Today." Patsy Cline's "Crazy" (which was penned by Willie Nelson) landed in the #3 spot, followed by Johnny Cash's "Ring Of Fire" at #4. Hank Williams rounded out the top 5 with "Your Cheatin' Heart." Garth Brooks landed at the #6 spot with his rowdy "Friends In Low Places," while Cline made her second appearance at #7 with "I Fall To Pieces." Glen Campbell's "Galveston" was ranked #8, Charlie Rich's "Behind Closed Doors" #9 and rounding out the top 10 was Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings' "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys."
When CMT.com recently took a fan-voted online poll of the 100 Greatest Songs of Country Music, the results were considerably different than the country industry-voted poll - the fan-voted poll included much more recent songs. Garth Brooks topped the list with "The Dance," while his "Friends In Low Places" ranked #6, the same spot it was ranked on the professionals poll. Patriotism was obviously on the minds of fans as they voted as Lee Greenwood's patriotic anthem "God Bless The U.S.A." landed in the #2 spot and Alan Jackson's post 9-11 anthem "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)" ranked #4. George Jones' "He Stopped Loving Her Today" landed at #3 on the fan poll, dropping one spot from the professional poll. The fans and professionals agreed on Patsy Cline's "Crazy," ranked #5 by the fans and #3 by the professionals. The fans voted Charlie Daniels' "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" #7, followed by Martina McBride's "Independence Day." Alison Krauss made an appearance at #9 with the Keith Whitley classic "When You Say Nothing At All" (fans, why Krauss' version and not Whitley's?) and rounding out the top 10 was Lee Ann Womack's "I Hope You Dance."
Not to slam the artists that landed in the fan-voted list, but I believe it's obvious that the fans who logged on towww.cmt.com to cast their votes were likely under the age of 20, maybe even younger. As a longtime country music fan, I'll have to stick with the professionals who actually remember what classic country music really is and what songs really are the greatest country songs of all time, not just the greatest country songs of the last 10 years.
Country Baby Boom
"There Is No Arizona" singer Jamie O'Neal can now add the title of "mother" to her resume. O'Neal and her songwriter husband, Rodney Good, welcomed their first child into the world last month. Seven-pound, 10 ounce Aliyah made her debut June 11. Mom's new single is titled "Every Little Thing," the first release from her forthcoming On My Way To You CD.
Ronnie McCoury, mandolinist for the reigning International Bluegrass Music Association's Entertainer of the Year, the Del McCoury Band, has been missing a little sleep these days. His wife Allison gave birth to Emma Jean Marie McCoury in Nashville on May 31. Emma joins big brothers Evan and Joshua.
Congratulations to Jamie & Rodney and Ronnie & Allison!
Well, that's it for this month. Here's wishing you and your family and fun, safe and happy 4th of July. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, `cause country music is comin' your way.