Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

The Awards Start Rolling in for Carrie Underwood

Ever since she won the title of American Idol last spring, Carrie Underwood's life and career have been in fast forward. Her debut album, Some Hearts, was released in mid-November and has already been certified triple-platinum for sales of more than 3 million copies. This is the fastest-selling debut album for a female country artist in history. In its first 20 weeks in stores, it topped the country albums chart for an amazing 15 weeks.

As if stellar record sales weren't enough, Underwood accepted her first industry award at last month's 2006 CMT Music Awards. The only multiple winner of the night, Underwood took home two belt-buckle trophies: Female Video of the Year and Breakthrough Video of the Year for "Jesus, Take the Wheel." The top prize of Video of the Year went to Keith Urban for "Better Life." During the awards program, Hank Williams, Jr. was honored with the Johnny Cash Visionary Award, presented by pals Gretchen Wilson and Kid Rock. Dwight Yoakam was on hand for a tribute to the recently deceased Country Music Hall of Famer Buck Owens.

And the 2006 CMT Music Awards winners are: Video of the Year: Keith Urban's "Better Life"; Female Video of the Year: Carrie Underwood's "Jesus, Take the Wheel"; Male Video of the Year: Kenny Chesney's "Who You'd Be Today"; Group/Duo Video of the Year: Rascal Flatts' "Skin (Sarabeth)"; Collaborative Video of the Year: Bon Jovi & Jennifer Nettles' "Who Says You Can't Go Home"; Most Inspiring Video of the Year: Brad Paisley & Dolly Parton's "When I Get Where I'm Going"; Hottest Video of the Year: Billy Currington's "Must Be Doin' Somethin' Right"; and Video Director of the Year: Sophie Muller for Faith Hill & Tim McGraw's "Like We Never Loved at All."

In other awards news, Carrie Underwood won her first-ever Gospel Music Association award during last month's 37th Annual Dove Awards. Underwood's "Jesus, Take the Wheel" won the trophy for Country Recorded Song of the Year. Other country-related winners were Randy Travis for Country Album of the Year for Glory Train and Alison Krauss & Union Station, who's "A Living Prayer" was named Bluegrass Recorded Song of the Year.

Reba McEntire Tapped to Host ACM Awards

The 41st Annual Academy of Country Music Awards will be handed out May 23 at Las Vegas' MGM Grand and Reba McEntire will host the program for the eighth time. Brad Paisley is the front-runner as the star of the show as he is nominated for six awards, including Top Male Vocalist, Single of the Year for "Alcohol," and Album of the Year for Time Well Wasted. In addition Paisley and Dolly Parton's chart-topping duet "When I Get Where I'm Going" will vie for Vocal Event of the Year, Song of the Year and Video of the Year. Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles follows closely behind Paisley with six nominations herself, five along with her group Sugarland and the other for Vocal Event of the Year along with rockers Bon Jovi for "Who Says You Can't Go Home." Sugarland will compete for: Top New Duo or Vocal Group, Top Vocal Group of the Year, Album of the Year for their debut album Twice the Speed of Life and Single of the Year and Song of the Year for their debut single, "Baby Girl." Brooks & Dunn were nominated for five awards, while Rascal Flatts and Carrie Underwood each received four nominations.

At press time, the ACM had already confirmed that Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Rascal Flatts, Sugarland and Carrie Underwood will perform during the program, while humanitarian extraordinaire Vince Gill will receive the Academy of Country Music/The Home Depot Humanitarian Award. The awards program will air live on CBS-Television at 8 p.m. EDT, May 23.

Upcoming Live Country Music

I've been hinting that Kenny Chesney will be rolling into town sometime this year and I was partially right. He will be performing on Thursday, July 6, but unfortunately not a stadium show as I had suspected. Instead, Chesney's "The Road & the Radio Tour" will roll into Freedom Hall along with none other than Dierks Bentley. Ticket information has not yet been announced, but keep your eyes and ears open as this tour is selling out arenas and stadiums in record times around the country and I'm sure that Louisville's ticket sales will be no exception - tickets are bound to sell out and FAST!

Well, the Kentucky State Fair may be three months away, but it's not too early to start planning your schedule and marking your calendar. Our friends at the Fair board and Triangle Talent have come through once again with a stellar lineup of country concerts. Although not all concerts have been finalized, there is a bevy of concerts already on the books. Nicholasville, Kentucky's own rowdy boys Montgomery Gentry will kick off the fair along with Joe Nichols on August 17. Brad Paisley is hotter than ever and he'll bring his show to the fair on Saturday, August 19. The Oak Ridge Boys will make their 113th annual appearance (OK, I've exaggerated just a little bit) at the fair total gratis on Sunday, August 20. Kentucky natives Dwight Yoakam and Exile will heat up Cardinal Stadium on Tuesday, August 22, followed by B.J. Thomas and Gary Puckett on August 23, Lorrie Morgan and Mark Chesnutt on August 24 and Josh Turner on Saturday, August 26. And rounding out the fair is the hottest group in country music today, Rascal Flatts, along with Gary Allan on Sunday, August 27. Tickets for Rascal Flatts are already on sale, while on-sale dates for Montgomery Gentry and Brad Paisley have not yet been announced. All Cardinal Stadium concerts are the right price - FREE. Now count `em up: the fair runs 11 days, August 17-27 and it will offer a whopping eight country concerts!

4th Street Live will treat country fans to a free concert series once again this summer. Lee Roy Parnell is scheduled to perform on July 12, followed by former U.S. Marine and American Idol contestant Josh Gracin on July 19. Chris Cagle will roll into 4th Street on August 2 and Craig Morgan will perform a free show on August 16, the night before the fair kicks off.

Country Legal Woes

Legal woes continue for Nicholasville, Kentucky's John Michael Montgomery, who was arrested in February for driving under the influence, possession of a controlled substance and carrying concealed weapons without a permit. The prosecutor in the case asked for a one-month postponement, which was granted, delaying court hearings until May 11. Seems there is quite a controversy stemming from this case and the arresting officer's MySpace.com web page. A photo of Montgomery with a fan was posted on Officer Joshua Cromer's web page, altered to include a photo of his head pasted over the fan's head. Cromer and a fellow officer who altered the photo have been put on paid leave until this matter is resolved. In addition to the photo, the web page includes blogs by fellow police officers on Cromer's high-profile celebrity arrest.

Bocephus, a. k. a. Hank Williams, Jr., had a run-in with the law recently himself. Two of Williams' daughters were seriously injured in an automobile accident in Miss. on March 15 and he reportedly had a run-in with a hotel waitress in Memphis when visiting his daughters. The 19-year-old waitress, Holly Hornbeak, filed a complaint that Williams harassed and choked her while visiting the hotel bar, after calling her names and asking her to kiss him. Although Williams maintains his innocence in this matter, he voluntarily surrendered when a warrant for his arrest was issued but he was released on his own recognizance from the Shelby Co., Tenn. Sheriff's office.

It might sound like a country song, but Sandy Brooks, ex-wife of superstar Garth Brooks, lived to tell her story of being abducted. Sandy Brooks was abducted from her home on April 3 by what turned out to be a "person in a dating relationship," Quintine Cornelius Harper. Come to find out, Harper had been working on the farm and living in an apartment above the barn and when local authorities came searching for him after he failed to report for a court hearing in an embezzlement case, he abducted Sandy at gunpoint and demanded she drive him away. Fortunately for Sandy, she was eventually able to stop her vehicle and run into a nearby convenience store. Police captured Harper as he was trying to escape through a field and he is being charged with kidnapping and weapons offenses. Sandy Brooks was not injured and her and Garth's three daughters were not present at the time of the kidnapping.

Tim & Faith Hit the Road, But Not Knoxville

Country music's reigning first couple, Mr. & Mrs. McGraw (a.k.a. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill) are sharing a tour bus this spring and summer for the first time in nearly six years. The happy couple kicked off their "Soul2Soul II" tour in Columbus, Ohio on April 21. The McGraws have promised the fans that they will perform in the round for a whopping three non-stop hours. Each performs a full solo set and join for several duets to close the show.

This tour is such a huge production that it was too heavy for Knoxville, Tenn. The tour was scheduled to roll into the University of Tennessee's Thompson-Boling Arena on April 23, but it was determined that the arena's ceiling was not strong enough to support the extensive sound equipment, lighting and special effects the tour requires. All tickets are being refunded to the unlucky, disappointed fans.

Although Tim and Faith will unfortunately not be heading to Louisville with this highly anticipated tour, fans are not completely out of luck. The pair will play in Lexington's Rupp Arena on May 14, Cleveland, Ohio's Quicken Loans Arena on July 1, Cincinnati's U.S. Bank Arena on July 11, Indianapolis' Conseco Fieldhouse on July 12 and Nashville, TN's Gaylord Entertainment Center on July 29.

Country Codas

Singer, songwriter, businessman and Country Music Hall of Famer Buck Owens passed away in his sleep during the early morning hours on March 25. Owens had complained of not feeling well for a while and went home to rest after performing at his Bakersfield, Calif. nightclub, the Crystal Palace. Credited for founding the famed "Bakersfield Sound" style of country music, the 76-year-old legend apparently died of heart attack while sleeping. Although Owens is probably best known as the long-time co-host of the cornball country comedy series Hee Haw, he made a lasting impression on the music business with songs like "Together Again," "I've Got a Tiger by the Tail," "My Heart Skips a Beat," and "Act Naturally," which was even recorded by a small band from Liverpool known as The Beatles.

The famed Texas songwriter Cindy Walker, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, died at the age of 87 on March 23. Walker began writing country songs at the age of 12 and wrote more than 500 tunes, many of which were recorded by artists like Bob Wills, Ernest Tubb, Eddy Arnold, Jim Reeves, Roy Orbison, Hank Snow, Sonny James, Merle Haggard, Webb Pierce, Glen Campbell, Ricky Skaggs, Gene Autry and even Bing Crosby.

Famed country fiddler Gordon Terry, who won the Alabama Fiddling Championship competition at the age of 14, passed away April 9 at the age of 74, ending his long battle with emphysema and diabetes. He began his music career as a member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys and went on to play for Faron Young while serving in the U.S. Army. He recorded with Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Wanda Jackson, Jimmy Martin, the Osborne Brothers and Neil Young. His only chart success as a solo act was "The Ballad of J.C.," his 1970 tribute to Cash.

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