Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

CMAs to Take New York City by Storm

Well, the time has arrived for country music to take the "Big Apple," New York City, by storm. The 39th Annual Country Music Association Awards are heading to New York for a one-time special presentation this month, the first time the program has ever been held outside of Nashville. Lee Ann Womack and Brad Paisley top the list of nominees with six nods each. Toby Keith and Keith Urban follow close behind with four nominations apiece. During the ceremony, 1980s supergroup Alabama, the late Grand Ole Opry star DeFord Bailey and the "Rhinestone Cowboy," Glen Campbell, will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

And here's a quick recap of all the nominees: Entertainer of the Year: Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, Brad Paisley and Keith Urban; Female Vocalist of the Year: Sara Evans, Alison Krauss, Martina McBride, Gretchen Wilson and Lee Ann Womack; Male Vocalist of the Year: Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, George Strait and Keith Urban; Vocal Duo of the Year: Big and Rich, Brooks and Dunn, Montgomery Gentry, Van Zant and The Warren Brothers; and Vocal Group of the Year: Alison Krauss and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas, Diamond Rio, Lonestar, Rascal Flatts and Sugarland.

Horizon Award: Dierks Bentley, Big and Rich, Miranda Lambert, Julie Roberts and Sugarland; Album of the Year: Tim McGraw's Live Like You Were Dying, Rascal Flatt's Feels Like Today, George Strait's Somewhere Down in Texas, Keith Urban's Be Here and Lee Ann Womack's There's More Where That Came From; Single of the Year: Toby Keith's "As Good As I Once Was," Brad Paisley's "Alcohol," Rascal Flatt's "Bless the Broken Road," Sugarland's "Baby Girl," and Lee Ann Womack's "I May Hate Myself in the Morning"; and Song of the Year: Toby Keith's "As Good As I Once Was," Brad Paisley's "Alcohol," Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss' "Whiskey Lullaby," Rascal Flatt's "Bless the Broken Road," Gretchen Wilson's "Redneck Woman," and Lee Ann Womack's "I May Hate Myself in the Morning."

Music Video of the Year: Toby Keith's "As Good As I Once Was," Brad Paisley's "Alcohol," Keith Urban's "Days Go By," Gretchen Wilson's "When I Think About Cheatin'," and Lee Ann Womack's "I May Hate Myself in the Morning"; Musical Event of the Year: Jimmy Buffett and Martina McBride's "Trip Around the Sun," Willie Nelson and Lee Ann Womack's "I'll Never Be Free," Brad Paisley and Sara Evans' "New Again," George Strait and Lee Ann Womack's "Good News, Bad News," and Shania Twain and Billy Currington's "Party for Two"; and Musician of the Year: Jerry Douglas - Dobro, Paul Franklin - steel guitar, Dann Huff - electric guitar, Brent Mason - guitar and electric guitar and Randy Scruggs - guitar and mandolin.

Brooks and Dunn will host this year's ceremony on November 15 at New York's Madison Square Garden. Dierks Bentley, Big and Rich, Brooks and Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Sara Evans, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, George Strait, Sugarland, Keith Urban, Gretchen Wilson and Lee Ann Womack are all scheduled to perform on the awards program, which will air live on CBS-Television.

Before facing off with their fellow nominees, the country stars will have to face the queen gabbers of fashion, Joan and Melissa Rivers, on the red carpet as they enter the awards show. The Rivers divas will host a special fashion pre-show airing on the TV Guide channel. Let's just hope the ladies do their homework and know which country star they are actually talking to.

Country Artists Vie for American Music Awards

When the nominees for the 2005 American Music Awards were announced recently, country's own Toby Keith, Tim McGraw and the "Redneck Woman" herself, Gretchen Wilson, each landed two nominations in the country categories. In addition, the hot new trio Sugarland of "Baby Girl" fame will compete against The Killers and Jesse McCartney in the Favorite New Artist category spanning all musical genres.

And the nominees are: Favorite Female Country Artist: Martina McBride, LeAnn Rimes and Gretchen Wilson; Favorite Male Country Artist: Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith and Tim McGraw; Favorite Country Band, Duo or Group: Big and Rich, Brooks and Dunn and Rascal Flatts; and Favorite Country Album: Toby Keith's Honkytonk University, Tim McGraw's Live Like You Were Dying and Gretchen Wilson's Here for the Party.

Be sure to tune into the AMAs on November 22 on ABC-Television. Nominee Kenny Chesney is slated to perform, while LeAnn Rimes, Sugarland and Gretchen Wilson are tapped to be presenters on the live telecast from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, Cal.

Winning Combo with Rascal Flatts, Shelton and Anderson

When Rascal Flatts rolled into Freedom Hall last month with their Here's to You tour, bringing along Blake Shelton and newcomer Keith Anderson, concertgoers might have thought the three acts to be a strange combination. Quite the contrary - they perfectly complimented one another. The crowd was offered just about any and all styles of country music, all rolled into one jam-packed show. Gary Levox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney, who make up the multi-winning CMA and ACM Vocal Group of the Year, offered fans their popular country-pop crossover flavored music, while Blake Shelton served up more straight-ahead, traditional country music and Keith Anderson performed his own brand of rockin' country. A winning combination, hands down!

The guys of Rascal Flatts hit the stage running and kept the momentum for nearly 90 minutes. They performed one hit after another, proving why they have sold a whopping 7 million CDs, their latest release, Feels Like Today, having recently been certified triple-platinum for shipments of 3 million copies. Although the volume was unfortunately cranked up a little loud, causing their vocals to be muffled, Levox effortlessly took the near sell-out crowd on a musical journey with hits like "Love You Out Loud," "Mayberry," "Bless the Broken Road," "Fast Cars and Freedom," "Skin (Sarabeth)," and "Praying for Daylight." DeMarcus showcased his talents by tickling the ivories and belting out crowd-pleasing covers of Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire" and The Beatles' "Let It Be," while Rooney had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand with his solo rendition of Garth Brooks' "Friends in Low Places."

Most performers save their signature tunes for an encore, but not Rascal Flatts. When the guys returned to the stage to offer the ecstatic crowd a little bit more, they offered a rollicking blast from the past by returning to their high school days by performing Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me" and Bon Jovi's "You Give Love A Bad Name." They wrapped up the show with a tribute to our armed forces, complete with several Marines donning the stage during their rendition of The Boss' "Born in the U.S.A.," complete with vocal help from openers Blake Shelton and Keith Anderson.

Long-legged country boy Blake Shelton wowed the crowd with his more traditional country sound and down-home wit and wisdom. He kicked off his 35-minute set with a rousing rendition of the Bellamy Brothers' classic "Redneck Girl," continuing on with crowd favorites "Ol' Red," "Austin," and "The Baby." With his good-ole-boy looks and presentation, Shelton pleasantly offered up newer material from his current CD, Blake Shelton's Barn and Grill, like "Nobody But Me," a superb remake of Conway Twitty's "Goodbye Time," and the tongue-in-cheek "Some Beach." Unlike Rascal Flatts, he proved that an artist can entertain a crowd with merely a guitar and some country chops, leaving behind the elaborate stage, confetti and pyrotechnics. How can you go wrong with a country boy who sings about his mama, lost love and his huntin' dog?

Newcomer country-rocker Keith Anderson offered up an impressive thirty-minute opening set that had a particularly strong appeal to the younger, hipper country crowd. Anderson offered up fun, high-energy tunes like "Boondocks," "Wrap Around," his current single "XXL," and his smash debut single, "Pickin' Wildflowers," all straight from his debut album, Three Chord Country and American Rock and Roll. Anderson might not be an up-and-coming country legend like Marty Robbins, Conway Twitty, or George Jones, but, hey, he's a member of the younger, hipper, more carefree crop of country artists.

If you missed this triple-header concert, never fear, for your chance to see Rascal Flatts, Blake Shelton and Keith Anderson together on one stage is not over. The show will roll into Lexington's Rupp Arena on Friday night, December 2 at 8 p.m.. Tickets go on sale November 5 and can be purchased through all Ticketmaster locations or by calling (502) 361-3100.

Garth Brooks Returns to Radio

The former king of the country hill, the soon-to-be Mr. Trisha Yearwood, Garth Brooks, is once again gracing the radio airwaves with a brand new song. Just last month, Brooks released a new single, titled "Good Ride, Cowboy," a tribute to his late pal and mentor, Chris LeDoux, who lost his battle with cancer earlier this year. The single helped the G-man to break his own chart record by being his highest debut on the Billboard music charts, debuting at an impressive #18 in a mere four days. "The Thunder Rolls" debuted at #19 back in 1991.

Fans will be able to buy "Good Ride Cowboy" on Brooks' upcoming compilation CD sold exclusively at Wal-Mart and SAM's Wholesale Club stores. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for an exact release date.

Broken Bones and Vocal Strains

Butcher Holler, Kentucky's own "Coal Miner's Daughter," Loretta Lynn, was forced to cancel four concerts last month after breaking her foot. Lynn fell on her tour bus while preparing to leave for a weekend tour, causing the unfortunate incident. Lynn will reportedly make a complete recovery and is scheduled to return to America's highways and stages this month.

A couple of the biggest names in country music were silenced last month due to vocal problems. Gretchen Wilson was forced to postpone a few shows after her doctor put her on vocal rest after suffering from vocal fatigue caused by promoting her brand new album, All Jacked Up. The wonder from down under, Keith Urban, was also sidelined last month when doctors discovered a hemorrhage on one of his vocal chords. Urban was prohibited to sing or even talk due to the bruise on his right vocal cord. Unfortunately, one of Urban's postponed shows was in Evansville, Ind., but never fear as the concert has already been rescheduled for February 1 of next year.

Best wishes on speedy recoveries to Loretta, Gretchen and Keith!

Mindy McCready Overdoses Once More

Bless her heart, Mindy McCready's personal troubles just seem to be mounting higher and higher. As you'll remember, I reported a while back how McCready was found unconscious after attempting suicide by overdosing on pills back in July, being found in a Tampa, Florida-area Holiday Inn. Well, the twenty-nine-year-old "Guys Do It All The Time" and "Ten Thousand Angels" singer was treated for a second drug overdose on September 23, following two calls to 911. The official police report states the singer swallowed approximately 30 anti-depressant pills following an argument on the phone with her boyfriend/fiancé.

In addition to the physical problems McCready has suffered from these suicide attempts, she is facing several charges by the law in both Tennessee and Arizona Charges include involvement in a con scheme, driving under the influence and attempting to obtain a forged prescription for the highly addictive pain killer OxyContin.

Hill and Chesney to Heat Up Small Screen

Pals Faith Hill and Kenny Chesney will each heat up the small screen on Thanksgiving Eve with their very own concert specials. Before bedding down for the night to dream of a piping-hot turkey dinner the following day, the reigning CMA and ACM Entertainer of the Year, Chesney will surely be glued to the tube to watch his first-ever network television special. Titled Kenny Chesney: Somewhere in the Sun, this one-hour special will include footage from Chesney's hugely success "Somewhere in the Sun" tour, as well as clips of the country superstar at his Caribbean island retreat. You can catch this highly-anticipated special at 8 p.m. November 23 on ABC-Television.

Hill will perform some of her biggest hits, as well as several selections from her recent smash release, Fireflies, in her one-hour special filmed live at The Pantages Theatre in the Los Angeles area on August 15 and 16. Fans can catch Hill's special at 9 p.m. November 23 on NBC-Television.

Well, that's it for this month. Here's wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, `cause country music is comin' your way."