Faith Hill Ready to Hit Stores
Mrs. Tim McGraw, better known simply as Faith Hill, is burning up the radio airwaves with her hot new single, the autobiographical "Mississippi Girl." The song was co-written by John Rich of Big & Rich after Rich practically stalked Hill for a few weeks on the road to get to know the beautiful songbird. Well, the stalking has paid off for both Rich and Hill as the first single from Hill's long-awaited new album is rapidly approaching the top of the country charts. Hill's brand new CD, Fireflies, will land on store shelves on August 2, her first album since her 2002 Cry disc. This, her sixth disc, is the first offering the songstress acted as full-fledged co-producer along with longtime producers Byron Gallimore and Dann Huff.
Hill is busy these days gearing up for the release of her new disc. Just last month, she performed her new songs live at the Ford Theater inside Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum for a one-hour radio special marking the release. This month, on August 15 and 16, Hill will take to the stage at Los Angeles' Pantages Theatre for a special concert to be filmed for an NBC-Television special to air on Thanksgiving Eve, November 23.
Cash & Carter Cash Remembered
The late Johnny and June Carter Cash are getting quite a bit of well-deserved recognition these days. The long-awaited biopic of Cash's life, titled Walk the Line, which stars Joaquin Phoenix as Cash and Reese Witherspoon as Carter Cash, will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival next month. The critically-acclaimed film will be released nationally within the states on November 18.
June Carter Cash is being honored in a beautiful way by none other than her very own daughter, Carlene Carter, in a brand new musical called Wildwood Flowers: The June Carter Cash Story. The musical chronicles the life of Carter Cash from the period of her childhood to her beginning a solo career of her own from underneath the famed Carter Family umbrella. The entire production consists of the younger Carter as Carter Cash, cousin Lorrie Davis Bennett as her own mother, Anita Carter, Janet McMahan as Helen Carter and Gina Stewart as Mother Maybelle, in addition to a three-piece band. Although the musical was to enjoy a mere two-week run last month at Nashville's BellSouth Acuff Theater outside the famed Grand Ole Opry House, hopefully the run will be extended, or might even possibly go on tour sometime in the future.
And if you're a huge Johnny Cash and/or June Carter Cash fan, you also won't want to miss out on a couple very special box sets available this month. On August 2, Columbia/Legacy will release what promises to be "must have" box sets of both Cash and Carter Cash. Johnny Cash: The Legend will consist of four CDs offering 107 tunes from 1955-2002, even 12 never-before released cuts. June Carter Cash-Keep on the Sunny Side: Her Life in Music is a 2-CD box set including 40 songs from a 64-year span.
Kentucky State Fair Goin' Country AGAIN!
As I reported in last month's column, all of the paid country concerts at the 101st Annual Kentucky State Fair have been announced and the fair is goin' all-out country once again! To refresh your memory, Chevy's "The American Revolution Tour" featuring Gretchen Wilson and Big & Rich will kick the fair off on opening night, Thursday, August 18. Alan Jackson's "What I Do Tour," featuring The Wrights, will keep the fair temperatures high on Saturday evening, August 20. Tickets for both of these shows are still available for $41 each, which includes gate admission to the fair. The third and final paid country concert is Kenny Chesney's "Somewhere in the Sun Tour" featuring special guest Pat Green, which will close the fair on Sunday, August 28. Unfortunately though, all tickets for this, the hottest country tour of the year, are already sold out.
The fine folks at the State Fair will once again also offer a bevy of FREE country concerts for fair-goers' pleasures. Although no official announcement concerning this year's free shows had been made by press time, me thinks me knows who's coming. The Oak Ridge Boys have made an annual appearance at the fair for the last umpteen years and this year looks no different. Look for the boys to heat up Cardinal Stadium on Sunday, August 21. It looks like Gary Allan and hot newcomer Dierks Bentley will offer their brand of country music on Tuesday, August 23, followed by "The Possum" himself, George Jones, on Thursday, August 25. And hopefully Trace Adkins' free show won't be threatened by thunder storms like last year when he performs on Saturday, August 27.
Tickets for Jackson's concert and Gretchen Wilson/Big & Rich can be purchased at the Freedom Hall box office and all TicketMaster locations, or by calling (502) 361-3100. For the most recent information regarding paid and free fair concerts, visit the Kentucky State Fair on the web at www.kystatefair.org.
Gentry Follows in Montgomery's Steps in Breaking Bones
As you'll remember a few short months back, Eddie Montgomery of the hot duo from Nicholasville, Kentucky, Montgomery Gentry, fell off the stage, shattering his wrist and requiring surgery. Well, it looks like his partner in crime, Troy Gentry, couldn't let his compadre upstage him as he recently broke some bones of his own. Gentry went on a horse-riding excursion with some friends following a show in Ft. Laramie, Ohio last month when the horse in front of his suddenly stopped, thus spooking his horse. Needless to say, Gentry's horse reared up and spun around, falling on its side and pinning Gentry's left leg underneath it. Upon an immediate visit to the ER, it was determined that Gentry's ankle was broken and doctors put a cast on the rebel crooner. Upon returning home to Nashville, an MRI pointed out torn ligaments in Gentry's left knee, which required surgery. The boys cancelled shows the weekend following Gentry's accident.
Here's wishing both Troy and Eddie speedy recoveries, as well as some better luck in the future!
Country Charitable Events
When it comes to charity, there is no group of people more gracious and willing to help out as country singers themselves. Crooner Vince Gill recently saw a need within the country music community and decided to do something about it himself. The Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum is constantly in need of more funding and instead of turning once again to a handful of wealthy arts donors, Gill decided he would donate to the cause himself. The solution hit him while he and wife Amy Grant were hosting a recent dinner for fellow country artists. He conceived the idea for "All for the Hall," vowing that, "I'll give a night of my life to the Hall of Fame. That's the promise of `All for the Hall.'" The way the campaign works is that while country artists are touring our great nation, they will pledge to donate one night's earnings to the Hall of Fame. Those artists already confirmed to participate include Carlos DeFord Bailey, Big & Rich, Junior Brown, Melonie Cannon, Kenny Chesney, Charlie Daniels, Katrina Elam, Janie Fricke, Gill, Amy Grant, The Grascals, Nanci Griffith, Mike Henderson, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, The Jordanaires, Hal Ketchum, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Lonestar, Del McCoury, Jimmy C. Newman, Jeanne Pruett, Boots Randolph, Robert Reynolds, LeAnn Rimes, Earl Scruggs, Cowboy Troy, Phil Vassar and Gretchen Wilson, among others.
It's hard to believe but Farm Aid, the gargantuan concerts co-founded by Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp to benefit America's family farms, will celebrate it's 20th anniversary this year. This year's highly-anticipated event will take place near the "windy city," Chicago, Ill. on September 18. The event, which originated in Champaign, Ill. back in 1985, will take place at the Tweeter Center in Tinley Park, Ill. No acts besides the co-founders have been announced yet, so keep reading next month for further details.
Hats off to all the country stars and country fans alike who help out a needy cause!
Chesney Top Country Tour
Kenny Chesney's career is hotter than ever these days and his concert ticket sales are cold-hard proof. When Pollstar recently compiled a list of the top-grossing concert tours for the first half of 2005, Chesney was not only the top country ticket-seller, but the third highest-grossing artist of all genres of music. Rockers U2 topped the list at $48.4 million from sales of nearly half a million tickets. Celine Dion has grossed a whopping $43.9 million from nearly 322,000 tickets at her show at Las Vegas' Caesars Palace. Chesney's "Somewhere in the Sun Tour" has generated $35 million from sales of 610,000 tickets. Although Chesney has sold more tickets than any other artist this year, his lower ticket prices have grossed him a little less dough. His average ticket price is $57.39, while U2's average is $96.94 and Dion's is an astounding $136.70.
"The Cowboy" himself, George Strait, was the next closest country ticket seller to Chesney, landing at #12 on the list.
Country Baby Boom
Well, it seems that brand new babies come in waves and the country music community is no exception. The ever-talented country songbird Martina McBride made her third trip to the maternity ward recently. McBride and husband John welcomed their third daughter into the world on June 20. Ava Rose Kathleen McBride tipped the scales at 7 lbs., 7 oz. and joined big sisters 10-year-old Delaney and 7-year-old Emma.
"Rebecca Lynn" singer Bryan White is once again singing lullabies in-between recording sessions for a brand new album. White and his wife, actress Erika Page, welcomed their second son into the world on July 8. Jackson Dylan White weighed in at 6 lbs., 12 oz. and joins big brother Justin Daniel, who will turn two in October
Congratulations to the McBrides and the Whites!
Well, that's it for yet another month. I'll be on the lookout for you at the many country shows at the State Fair. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, `cause country music is comin' your way."