Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Gretchen Wilson & "Whiskey Lullaby" Highlight 2005 CMT Music Awards

When the oversized belt buckle trophies were handed out last month at the 2005 CMT Music Awards, the big winners were hot newcomer "Redneck Woman" Gretchen Wilson, as well as Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss' "Whiskey Lullaby," each taking home two trophies. Wilson's signature debut video was named Breakthrough Video of the Year, while her "When I Think About Cheatin'" helped her capture the Female Video of the Year award. "Whiskey Lullaby" earned Paisley and Krauss the Collaborative Video of the Year award in addition to earning actor/director Rick Schroder the Video Director of the Year belt buckle. The "Wonder from Down Under," Keith Urban, captured the most coveted of the fan-voted awards of the evening, Video of the Year, for "Days Go By."

And the winners are: Video of the Year: Keith Urban's "Days Go By"; Female Video of the Year: Gretchen Wilson's "When I Think About Cheatin'"; Male Video of the Year: Kenny Chesney's "I Go Back"; Group/Duo Video of the Year: Rascal Flatts' "Feels Like Today"; and Collaborative Video of the Year: Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss' "Whiskey Lullaby."

Most Inspiring Video of the Year: Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying"; Breakthrough Video of the Year: Gretchen Wilson's "Redneck Woman"; Hottest Video of the Year: Toby Keith's "Whiskey Girl"; Video Director of the Year: Rick Schroder for "Whiskey Lullaby"; and Johnny Cash Visionary Award: Loretta Lynn.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Dollywood Celebrates 20 Years

International superstar Dolly Parton was on hand for a very special opening season of her Pigeon Forge, Tennessee theme park. Dollywood is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and Parton marked the event with a huge surprise for a theater-full of lucky fans and park visitors on April 1. Following an impressive presentation on the huge entertainment and economic growth of Dollywood and Pigeon Forge over the last two decades, Parton presented the show-stopper when she announced that the nearly 1600 people gathered in her Celebrity Theater would become the proud recipients of "super platinum blond" Dollywood and Dolly's Splash Country season passes good for the next 20 years. Estimated at $5,000 each, the giveaway cost Dollywood nearly $8 million.

To help celebrate it's 20th anniversary, Dollywood introduced its newly revamped Country Fair area, which features 10 brand new rides for the entire family. Also returning this year is the ever-so-popular Festival of Nations running through May 8, featuring a special presentation of the world-renowned Moscow Circus, as well as unforgettable performances by entertainers from around the world.

Tim McGraw Spokesman for American Red Cross

Country superstar Tim McGraw is lending his time and celebrity to help promote the non-profit American Red Cross. He is teaming with the organization along with State Farm Insurance to help publicize its Neighbors Give Life blood drive through September 5, hoping to increase the nation's ever-so-critically low blood supply. Blood donors will be eligible to win autographed Tim McGraw CDs and tickets to his concerts. State Farm Insurance donated $1 million to start the program.

To help promote this special campaign, he even recently appeared on the hit country talent contest Nashville Star congratulating the four finalists and encouraging them to give back to their community by hosting a concert in each of their hometowns. $10,000 was donated to the local chapter of the Red Cross in each of the contestant's hometowns.

The Red Cross reports that only five percent of Americans who can donate blood actually do. Currently there is less than half of the week-10 day blood supply needed in the unfortunate event of a national disaster.

40th Annual ACM Awards May 17

The time is rapidly approaching for the 40th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, which will be handed out May 17 at Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay Resort. The awards ceremony will be broadcast live on CBS-Television. As of press time, Big & Rich, Sara Evans, Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts and George Strait are scheduled to perform live during the telecast, while Toby Keith will perform via satellite from a U.S. military base in Iraq during his USO tour.

And a reminder of the nominees: Entertainer of the Year: Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw and Keith Urban; Top Female Vocalist: Terri Clark, Sara Evans, Martina McBride, Gretchen Wilson and Lee Ann Womack; Top Male Vocalist: Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw and Keith Urban; Top Vocal Duo: Big & Rich, Blue Country, Brooks & Dunn, Montgomery Gentry and The Warren Brothers; and Top Vocal Group: Alison Krauss & Union Station, Diamond Rio, Lonestar, Rascal Flatts and The Notorious Cherry Bombs.

Top New Artist: Big & Rich, Josh Gracin, Julie Roberts, Josh Turner and Gretchen Wilson; Vocal Event of the Year: Norah Jones & Dolly Parton's "Creepin' In," Jimmy Buffett, Clint Black, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith & George Strait's "Hey Good Lookin'," Shania Twain & Billy Currington's "Party for Two," Kenny Chesney & Uncle Kracker's "When the Sun Goes Down," and Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss' "Whiskey Lullaby"; Song of the Year: Toby Keith's "American Soldier," Rascal Flatts' "Bless the Broken Road," Lee Ann Womack's "I May Hate Myself in the Morning," Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying," and Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss' "Whiskey Lullaby"; and Single Record of the Year: Rascal Flatts' "Bless the Broken Road," Keith Urban's "Days Go By," Lee Ann Womack's "I May Hate Myself in the Morning," Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying," Gretchen Wilson's "Redneck Woman," and Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss' "Whiskey Lullaby."

Video of the Year: Terri Clark's "Girls Lie Too," Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying," Gretchen Wilson's "Redneck Woman," Big & Rich's "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)," and Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss' "Whiskey Lullaby"; and Album of the Year: Keith Urban's Be Here, Gretchen Wilson's Here for the Party, Tim McGraw's Live Like You Were Dying, Sara Evans' Restless and Kenny Chesney's When the Sun Goes Down.

Bellamy Brother Says, "I Do"

Howard Bellamy, who makes up the hit duo the Bellamy Brothers along with brother David, made a trip down the aisle in Las Vegas last month. Bellamy wed Jennifer Wright on April 7, but the happy couple decided to forego a honeymoon at this time due to the Bellamy's busy touring schedule these days. The brothers are hopping these days promoting their brand new album, Angels & Outlaws, Vol. 1, which includes duets of some of their biggest hits with some of the biggest names in country music. Duets include "Old Hippie" with Montgomery Gentry, "Guardian Angel" with Willie Nelson, "You Ain't Just Whistlin' Dixie" with Alan Jackson, "Sugar Daddy" with George Jones and "If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body (Would You Hold It Against Me)" with Dolly Parton.

Upcoming Live Country

Chow Wagon fans and country music fans alike will be happy to hear that this Derby season Blue County, best known for their hit "Good Little Girls," will be heading to town to perform during the Derby Festival on Thursday, May 5 at the Waterfront Chow Wagon. The show is free with admission to the Chow Wagon (a Derby Festival pin is required for entry).

Louisville will be swarming with celebrities attending huge charity parties all around town on Derby Eve, but country and bluegrass fans need to go no farther than the Black Tie & Blue Jeans concert at the Kentucky Int'l Convention Center starring Sam Bush, The Del McCoury Band and Nickel Creek.

4th Street Live! will once again be hosting Wednesday night country concerts this summer. Hot new group Sugarland, known for their hit "Baby Girl," will perform on June 15, while former American Idol contestant and ex-Marine Josh Gracin will bring his brand of country to the downtown entertainment complex on July 6.

Photo of Willie and Bob Dylan will be at Slugger Field on June 29
Willie and Bob Dylan will be at Slugger Field on June 29

Fans of the "Redheaded Stranger," Willie Nelson, will be in for a special treat on Wednesday, June 29. Nelson and legendary rocker Bob Dylan will bring their tour, which has been hitting baseball diamonds around the country, to the Louisville Slugger Field. This is sure to be an unforgettable show. And another highly anticipated show is none other than the "Long Black Train" singer Josh Turner, who will help ring in Independence Day with a concert at Waterfront Park on July 3.

The 101st Kentucky State Fair is still a good three-and-a-half months away, but it's not too early to start planning and start saving for the country concerts the fair is sure to hold. Tickets for probably the most highly-anticipated show have already gone on sale AND sold out - none other than Kenny Chesney's "Somewhere in the Sun" tour, featuring Gretchen Wilson and Pat Green, on August 28. Once again, this will be Chesney's final show on the tour, so fans can expect lots of surprises and a whole lotta fun! If you didn't land some Kenny Chesney tickets, there are plenty more country concerts already confirmed for this year's state fair. The Oak Ridge Boys will return to the fair on August 21, Dierks Bentley and Gary Allan will perform on August 23, George Jones will roll into town on August 25 and Trace Adkins will perform August 27. Keep reading in the upcoming months for more country shows as they will be confirmed in coming weeks.

Country Health Update

All-grown-up country songstress LeAnn Rimes had a serious health scare (at least serious to a singer) last month when she broke a blood vessel on one of her vocal chords caused by severe coughing due to a case of bronchitis. She had to sit out a few weeks as host of USA Network's Nashville Star country talent search and was forced to reschedule several personal appearances surrounding the Nashville Star finale and promotion of her latest CD, This Woman, which includes the hot "Nothin' Bout Love Makes Sense."

Nicholasville, Kentucky's own John Michael Montgomery turned in a less-than-stellar performance of the national anthem prior to NASCAR's Nextel Cup race in Atlanta last month. Many speculated that Montgomery was intoxicated, but he quickly released an apology and a statement claiming the whole fiasco was due to his suffering from acoustic neuroma, which is a non-cancerous growth that interferes with a nerve running between the brain and the inner ear. Doctors say this disorder, which affects one's balance and hearing, should not affect Montgomery's upcoming concerts.

Country Codas

The country music community said goodbye to the legendary country label executive Don Pierce last month. The 89-year-old pioneer passed away April 3. In 1953, he invested $333 in the famed Starday Records and built it into a multi-million dollar company. He sold it for a reported $2 million in 1968, a mere 15 years later.

Steel guitarist pioneer Jerry Byrd, who played with the likes of Hank Williams, Marty Robbins, Red Foley and Ernest Tubb, died due to complications from Parkinson's disease on April 11. Byrd began performing professionally at a Lima, Ohio radio station in 1935, later moving on to larger stations in Cincinnati and our very own Derby city. He was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1978.

Our condolences go out to Aaron Tippin and his entire family upon the recent, unexpected death of his father, Willis Emory "Tip" Tippin. On April 11, the elder Tippin's pickup truck crossed the centerline on a North Carolina state highway and struck the trailer and wheels of a logging truck, which swerved to miss the pickup. The 78-year-old World War II fighter pilot was pronounced dead at the scene.

That's it for yet another month. Here's wishing each of you a happy and safe Derby. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, `cause country music is comin' your way."