Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

November: Official Garth Brooks Month?

Although international mega-star Garth Brooks has approximately ten more years of "retirement," you would never guess it this month if you walk into any store, read any news, or turn on the television. Brooks will release a brand new CD/DVD package, The Ultimate Hits, on November 6. The two-CD package will include 34 songs (30 Brooks classics, three new songs, including recent #1 hit "More Than a Memory," and a bonus track) and a DVD containing videos for all 34 songs. As an added twist, during a press conference in New York last month, Brooks announced that he has teamed up with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer organization to produce a special Pink Edition of The Ultimate Hits. This special package, which will include breast cancer information and a breast self-examination card, can be purchased on the Susan G. Komen website (susangkomen.com) for a mere $15 (plus shipping). $10 from each sale will go directly to this charity.

Great American Country (GAC) cable channel touts this fall the network will be "The Home of Garth Brooks." The entertainer will sit down with Lorianne Crook for an exclusive one-on-one conversation on Offstage with Lorianne Crook to air on November 3. GAC will also premiere a brand-new special, Garth Brooks: The Ultimate Hits, on November 18. The hour-long documentary will go behind the scenes of the production of Brooks' three-disc package of the same name.

In recent years, Brooks has had an exclusive deal with retail giant Wal-Mart in selling his music. As a form of appreciation, Brooks scheduled a thank-you concert for Wal-Mart, to be held in Kansas City's new Sprint Center arena on November 14. Tickets to this highly anticipated show were sold out immediately. Tickets for eight additional concerts went on sale following the initial sell-out and all tickets for all nine concerts sold out in less than two hours. If you were not one of the lucky 160,000+ fans who were fortunate enough to land a ticket to one of these shows, you're not totally out of luck. Brooks is teaming up with AEG Network LIVE and National CineMedia's FATHOM to simulcast his November 14 concert live at 9 p.m. EST on 300 movie theaters around the country. An encore presentation of the concert will air on those same 300 screens the following night. Tickets for both screenings are a reasonably priced $10. Locally, fans can watch either of the showings at Tinseltown or Stonybrook Cinemas. Tickets were to go on sale at noon Friday, October 19. To check ticket availability and to purchase tickets, visit Tinseltown or Stonybrook Cinemas' box office or log onto fathomevents.com or garthbrooks.com.

November 7: CMA Day-All Day

The time is rapidly approaching for the 41st Annual Country Music Association Awards ceremony to be held at downtown Nashville's Sommet Center on November 7. Brad Paisley and George Strait will each vie for five trophies, including Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Single of the Year (Paisley's "Ticks" and Strait's "Wrapped") and Album of the Year (Paisley's 5th Gear and Strait's It Just Comes Natural). In addition, Paisley's "Online" will compete for Music Video of the Year and Strait is nominated for Musical Event of the Year along with Jimmy Buffett and Alan Jackson for their live version of "Hey Good Lookin'." Bill Anderson, Buddy Cannon and Jamey Johnson, who wrote Strait's "Give It Away," will vie for Song of the Year.

Kenny Chesney, Alison Krauss and Martina McBride each head into the awards ceremony with four nominations, followed by John Rich of Big & Rich, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban each with three nods. Artists currently scheduled to perform during the live telecast on ABC-Television include Rodney Atkins, Big & Rich, Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, The Eagles, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, a duet by Reba McEntire and LeAnn Rimes, Brad Paisley, a duet by Rascal Flatts and actor/comedian/singer Jamie Foxx, George Strait, Sugarland, Taylor Swift, Josh Turner, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban.

Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn have hosted the CMA awards for the past several years, but they are sitting this year out as hosts. Instead, several artists will co-host the three-hour ceremony, including Sara Evans and LeAnn Rimes.

And if you can't wait until 8 p.m. EST to catch live country music on the tube, then you're in luck. Big & Rich will be up and at 'em bright and early that morning to perform on ABC's Good Morning America. Big Kenny and John Rich will perform live from the front of the Sommet Center warming the audience up for the big awards ceremony later that evening.

Good luck to all the nominees.

Countrified AMA Awards

When the nominees for the 2007 American Music Awards were announced last month, competitors in four country music categories were listed. Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts and Carrie Underwood dominated the list with two nods each. And the nominees are: Favorite Female Country Artist: Martina McBride, Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood; Favorite Male Country Artist: Toby Keith, Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley; Favorite Country Band, Duo, or Group: Big & Rich, Brooks & Dunn and Rascal Flatts; and Favorite Country Album: Tim McGraw's Let It Go, Rascal Flatts' Me and My Gang and Carrie Underwood's Some Hearts.

For a new twist this year, all voting is done by the fans. That's right, you get to help America choose the winners. Log on to www.abc.com/ama to vote. Don't waste any time logging on to vote because voting ends at 3 a.m. EDT on November 2. The winners will be revealed during the live ceremony to be held in Los Angeles and broadcast on ABC-Television on November 18 at 8 p.m. EST.

ASCAP's Country Music Awards

When the performing rights organization ASCAP hosted its 45th annual country music awards ceremony at Nashville's famed Ryman Auditorium last month, John Rich of Big & Rich fame was named the Artist-Songwriter of the Year for the third year running. Rich turned peoples' heads last year with self-penned hits like B&R's "8th of November," Jason Aldean's "Amarillo Sky" and "Why," and Faith Hill's "Sunshine & Summertime." Also for the third year, Craig Wiseman was named Songwriter of the Year, having written Brooks & Dunn's "Hillbilly Deluxe," Kenny Chesney's "Summertime," and LeAnn Rimes' "Something's Gotta Give." Rodney Atkins' "If You're Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)" and Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" tied for Country Song of the Year. Sony/ATV Music Publishing was named Publisher of the Year.

The Top Five Most Performed Songs of the Year were: George Strait's "Give It Away," Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats," Brad Paisley's "The World," Kenny Chesney's "Summertime," and Rodney Atkins' "If You're Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)." During the ceremony, Kenny Rogers was also honored with the Golden Note Award and Don Schlitz, writer of Rogers' famed "Gambler," was presented ASCAP's Creative Achievement Award.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Josh Turner To Become Opry Member

"Long Black Train" crooner Josh Turner got the surprise of a lifetime during his September 29 performance on the famed Grand Ole Opry. Opry member Roy Clark invited the singer to become a member of the revered institution. Upon the announcement, Turner said, "I made my Opry debut back in 2001. I never knew this could happen so early. And if this is an invitation, I say, 'Yes!'"

By the time you are reading this column, Turner will already have been inducted as an Opry member. Vince Gill was scheduled to officially induct Turner into the Opry on October 27. If you weren't able to hear Turner perform live on the Opry, the next best thing is to pick up his new album, Everything Is Fine, which hit stores just in time for Halloween. The disc includes Turner's latest single, "Firecracker."

Congratulations, Josh! An honor well deserved for a young artist who holds true to the tradition of country music! The good guys really do win!

Weddings, Divorces, Deaths And Rehab

"Then What" singer Clay Walker is once again a married man. Surrounded by his daughters, other family and friends, Walker and model Jessica Craig were wed during a private ceremony on September 28 at New Orleans' Audubon Zoo. Pal Tracy Lawrence performed during the ceremony. The Walkers honeymooned for three weeks in Hawaii and Europe.

Sara Evans walked down the courthouse steps a single woman the same day Clay Walker walked down the aisle of matrimony. Her life has been full-speed ahead since she filed for divorce from husband Craig Schelske last October, resulting in her dropping out of the Dancing with the Stars competition. After all the accusations, the he-saids, she-saids, he did this's, she did that's, the couple's divorce was finalized on September 28. A Hickman County, Tenn. judge granted the divorce, which results in joint custody of the couple's three children and an unpublicized division of their assets. The couple's attorneys released a statement that the couple will "have no further comment regarding any allegations of fault or misconduct alleged by either party." In celebration of the long, ugly ordeal of the divorce, Evans released her Greatest Hits CD, which includes her latest hit "As If" as well as all of her biggest hits, on October 9

Patrick Bourque, who played bass for Emerson Drive from 2003 until August of this year, died suddenly at his home in Montreal, Canada on September 25. Although no official cause of death has been released, it is widely suspected that Bourque committed suicide as memorial contributions were asked to be donated to the Mental Health Association of Middle Tennessee with designations to support the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network. Needless to say, the remaining members of Emerson are shocked and grieved. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Bourque family and Emerson Drive at this time.

Just a few days following the one-month anniversary of his marriage to Heather Singleton, singer Joe Nichols entered rehab for substance abuse. His management company posted the following message on his website: "As Joe has alluded to in interviews over the past year, he has struggled with the issue of substance abuse. In order to become a healthier person and deal with the longstanding issues, he has entered into a rehabilitation program for consultation and treatment." No further comments have been made concerning Nichols' condition. Our thoughts and prayers also go out to Joe and Heather during this difficult time.

Congrats to Jo Dee Messina on Chicago Marathon

As a recovering fat-boy turned avid runner, my congratulations go out to "Bye, Bye" singer Jo Dee Messina for her successful completion of the Chicago Marathon last month. Despite the humid weather and a runner's death, which caused the race to be canceled, Messina and her brother, Vincent Messina, completed the 26.2 mile foot race. Last year, Messina finished the Boston Marathon in 5:47 with a knee injury. This year in Chicago, she shaved off more than a minute from her finishing time, completing in 5 hours, 45 minutes and 48 seconds.

My hat's off to you, Jo Dee!

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