Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Country Grammy Winners

When the 46th Annual Grammy Awards were handed out last month, many country artists and fans alike complained that there was so little country music represented during the live telecast. Others have complained that modern, contemporary country music was also ignored when it came time to pass out the trophies, but that's alright with artists like Alison Krauss and Ricky Skaggs. Krauss picked up three trophies (Best Bluegrass Album, Best Country Instrumental Performance and Best Country Collaboration with Vocals), making her the top-awarded female artist in the history of the Grammys. Her total number of Grammy trophies is now an amazing 17, surpassing the previous record-holding female, the "Queen of Soul," Aretha Franklin. The second most awarded country entertainer at this year's awards program was the late June Carter Cash, picking up two trophies.

RCA Records chief Joe Galante recently complained that this year's Grammy nominees don't represent "what is popular" and that the Grammys are "not really on top of what's really happening in [the country] format." Well, these statements ruffled winner Ricky Skaggs' feathers. Skaggs, who picked up the trophy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, had the following to say in response to Galante: "Shame on [whoever] thinks artists like myself, Ray Benson, Lyle Lovett and June Carter Cash...'misrepresent what is popular' in country music. Thank goodness that the Grammy remains the one award that the Music Row execs and major country radio programmers can't always control and thanks to the many [Grammy] members who continually vote for music based on the excellence of the recording instead of what's getting airplay and chart position."

And the winners are: Best Female Country Vocal Performance: June Carter Cash's "Keep on the Sunny Side"; Best Male Country Vocal Performance: Vince Gill's "Next Big Thing"; Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal: Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder's "A Simple Life"; Best Country Song: Alan Jackson & Jimmy Buffett's "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere"; and Best Country Album: Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs of the Louvin Brothers.

Best Country Collaboration with Vocals: Alison Krauss & James Taylor's "How's the World Treating You"; Best Country Instrumental Performance: Alison Krauss & Union Station's "Cluck Old Hen"; Best Short Form Music Video: Johnny Cash's "Hurt"; Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album: Randy Travis' Rise and Shine; Best Bluegrass Album: Alison Krauss & Union Station's Live; Best Traditional Folk Album: June Carter Cash's Wildwood Flower; and Best Contemporary Folk Album: Warren Zevon's The Wind.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Catching up with Reba

Reba fans are rejoicing that their favorite soulful red-headed country gal is back on the radio airwaves with her hot new single, "Somebody" from her recently released new album Room to Breathe. And to promote this new record, Reba is hitting the road this summer for the first time in nearly three years during the hiatus of her hit WB-Television hit sitcom, Reba. She got a little head start on the tour when she filled in for supergroup Alabama last month at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo when the band had to cancel due to illness.

Local fans are in luck as Reba will bring her show to Kentucky Speedway's "Country Stampede" on Sunday, June 6 and she's not coming alone. Joining Reba on this tour will be longtime friend and collaborator Linda Davis, with whom she shared the chart-topping Grammy award-winning song "Does He Love You" back in 1993. In addition to Reba and Davis, "Country Stampede," which runs June 4-6, will include Dierks Bentley, Chris Cagle, Terri Clark, Martina McBride, Neal McCoy, Craig Morgan, Rushlow and Darryl Worley.

In other Reba news, there has been buzz around Hollywood that the surprise hit sitcom star is trying to earn a raise, since she carries the highest rated WB network sitcom. The show's leading lady has reportedly been missing some work or showing up late, claiming family emergencies back in Oklahoma, while the industry fears she is trying to scare the network into a raise. Regardless, Reba can be seen each Friday night at 8 p.m. on the WB.

Kenny Chesney Burning Up the Charts

East Tennessee native Kenny Chesney is hotter than ever and the country charts are solid proof. Chesney's long-awaited new album, When the Sun Goes Down, made a huge splash the very first week in stores, breaking records with sales in excess of 550,000 copies, making it the top-selling album in a single week so far this year. These sales landed this Caribbean-flavored country disc at the top of the country albums chart as well as the Billboard 200 album chart, which includes all genres of music. In addition to these record sales, the CD's first single, "There Goes My Life," has also topped the country singles charts.

The disc's title track, on which Chesney sang a duet with pop artist Uncle Kracker, has already gained radio airplay. The two filmed a video for the song last month on the beach at Coconut Grove, Florida. Be on the lookout for this video's debut in the upcoming weeks. Chesney's upcoming "Guitars, Tiki Bars and a Whole Lotta Love" Tour will kick off with Dierks Bentley and Keith Urban (including a March 26 stop in Lexington). Fans are in luck as Chesney will open the Kentucky State Fair on Thursday, August 19, along with Rascal Flatts and Uncle Kracker himself.

And while we're on the subject of the State Fair concerts, a few more shows have already been booked. Brooks & Dunn will return to Freedom Hall on Saturday, August 21, along with Gary Allan and "Long Black Train" newcomer Josh Turner. The Oak Ridge Boys will perform their annual show on Sunday, August 22, and Trace Adkins will be joined by the Kentucky Headhunters on Tuesday, August 24. I'll have more State Fair info in the upcoming months as it becomes available.

Terri Clark Keeping Her Clothes On

During a recent poll by Playboy magazine, Terri Clark was the runner-up to Shania Twain as the country female fans would most like to see in the adult magazine. Due to the response, Clark was offered the chance to grace the cover of the May music issue. Clark was flattered by the offer extended to her, but declined.

Clark released the following statement: "I am a big believer in the beauty of the human body and the notion that sexy is a state of mind more than it's a body type. I think any woman who is confident and joyous is sexy and that's a truth we should all embrace rather then worrying about hips or thighs or whatever. And that was the thing about this Playboy offer that really spoke to me: I'm not typical and the experts evidently saw something in me that said a normal size woman can be sexy....there are just some things I can't quite get comfortable with."

"In the end, I think of all the young girls who come to my shows, I think of those faces, I think of my mother and I worry about the signal it sends to them at a time when it seems like sex is a fast track to media attention. In a world of Madonna and Britney, Justin and Janet and everything else, I'd like to make the empowerment about being me. If I'm sexy enough for Playboy to want me with my clothes on, then I hope the message can be that sexy is about what's between your ears, in your heart and your smile. Even Playboy could see that. So that's as far as you need to go to catch someone's attention. Besides, as Playboys go, I've always been more partial to Bob Wills' band."

You may not see Clark on the cover of Playboy anytime soon, but you can sure hear her climbing the charts with her new single "I Wanna Do It All."

McGraws Hitting the Big Screen

The singing McGraws, Tim and wife Faith Hill are joining the ever-growing list of singers who have tried their hands at acting. Last year, Hill joined Matthew Broderick, Glenn Close, Nicole Kidman, Bette Midler and Christopher Walken to film a remake of "The Stepford Wives." Hill's big screen debut will be released this summer.

As for Hill's hubby, it was recently announced that McGraw will make his screen debut alongside Billy Bob Thornton in "Friday Night Lights," based on the 1998 season of the Permian High School Panthers in Odessa, Texas. McGraw will portray a former football star who is trying to live his high school sports glory days through his son, who is coached by Thornton. Fans can expect McGraw's mug at your local movie theater late this year.

Country Family Album

The Dixie Chicks are laying low for good reason this year. As I reported earlier, fiddler Martie Maguire and husband Gareth are expecting their first and second, child (yes, twins) later this year. In addition, lead singer Natalie Maines and her husband, actor Adrian Pasdar, are increasing their flock this year too. Maines and Pasdar recently announced that they are expecting their second child but gave no details regarding the due date. The couple has a three-year-old son, Slade.

I reported last month that speculation had it that Lorrie Morgan and Sammy Kershaw had reunited and saved their marriage when they recently filmed episodes of the game show Pyramid. Morgan has publicly admitted that she and Kershaw are indeed officially back together, although she did not elaborate greatly. She admitted, "We've struggled real hard with putting this relationship back together....Thank God we were able to talk things through and make it right again."

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."