No group of people is more patriotic than red-blooded country music fans. This 4th of July, country fans will be celebrating around our nation with some of the biggest names in country music today. Rascal Flatts will be performing along with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra on CBS-Television's "Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular." The trio will be performing along the banks of Boston's Charles River. Kenny Chesney will celebrate Independence Day as part of NBC's "Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular," the day before heading to Nashville for a huge stadium show with Keith Urban. And country music channel Great American Country (GAC) will rebroadcast "Kellie Pickler: My USO Diary" in honor of the troops that are fighting for our freedom.
Country fans right here in the Derby City will be celebrating this Independence Day in style as Gary Allan will perform a free concert on Thursday, July 3 at the Fifth Third Bank Waterfront Independence Festival at Waterfront Park. Opening for Allan will be up-and-comer Candy Coburn and Louisville's own hometown fan-favorite, Patrick Henry Hughes. The festivities will begin at 5 pm, with fireworks to follow Allan's performance around 10:30.
The Kentucky State Fair is just a little over a month away and our friends at the fair board and Triangle Talent have done it again - they're bring an A-list collection of country artists to this year's fair. "The Cowboy Town Tour" featuring Brooks and Dunn with ZZ Top and special guest Rodney Atkins will kick the fair off in style on Thursday, August 14. "The Paisley Party Tour 2008" featuring Brad Paisley, Jewel, Chuck Wicks and two-time "Dancing with the Stars"champ turned country singer Julianne Hough will heat up the fair on Saturday, August 16. And saving the best for last, Trace Adkins will close out the fair on Sun, August 24 with his "American Man Tour" with special guests Miranda Lambert and Keith Anderson. Tickets for each of these shows are on sale now, setting fans back $46 for Brooks and Dunn and Trace Adkins and $49 for Brad Paisley. These ticket prices all include fair gate admission.
If soaring gas prices will prevent you from hitting all these concerts, never fear, as there will be a heaping portion of free country concerts at this year's fair. The Oak Ridge Boys will make their annual appearance in the old Cardinal Stadium on Sun, August 17. Josh Turner and Candy Coburn will perform on Tuesday, August 19. The "Country Gold Tour 2008" featuring Leroy Van Dyke and The Auctioneers, Jim Ed Brown, Helen Cornelius, Bobby Bare, Steve and Rudy Gatlin and T.G. Sheppard will come to the fair on Thursday, August 21. And wrapping up the free concerts this year will be Travis Tritt on Saturday, August 23.
In addition to the state fair shows, several great country concerts are heading to town. Lyle Lovett will bring his brand of country crooning to the Kentucky Center on July 8. Farm Aid President Willie Nelson and avid supporter the Dave Matthews Band will perform at Louisville Slugger Field on August 1. Horseshoe Casino Southern Indiana, formerly known as Caesars Indiana, has an outdoor country concert series this summer that includes Reba McEntire on July 11 and Gretchen Wilson and Candy Coburn on July 19.
Hot country nights at 4th Street Live! will continue throughout the summer with a stellar lineup of free concerts. Eric Church will perform on July 2, Jason Michael Carroll will roll into town July 16, Ashton Shepherd will perform July 24, Luke Bryan on August 6, James Otto on August 13 and Lonestar and Candy Coburn on October 24.
As I reported last month, Shania Twain and her husband of 14 years, producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange, have separated. Lange claims the separation was not caused by a reported affair with the couple's secretary and Swiss chateau manager, Marie Ann Thiebaud. He says he is not having an affair with Thiebaud and she is absolutely not the reason for the breakup. Thiebaud herself maintains innocence and says that she is not the root of Twain and Lange's problems. She recently told E! News, "When marriages break up, they break up for all sorts of complicated reasons - it's never just one reason. And those reasons should be kept private. If you're looking for a person that broke up a marriage, then you have the wrong person - I'm not that person."
Twain recently posted a letter of appreciation to her fans on her official website. The letter reads: "To my beloved fans: As I am sure you have seen or heard; I am going through a rough time personally in my life. I wanted you all to know that I could not be getting through this without you. Your letters, emails and words of encouragement give me strength. Your overwhelming support reminds me to smile, no matter how deep the pain and to always be grateful for all the beautiful blessings in my life." She continued, "I have so much to say but I know the best way for me to speak is through my music. This is my therapy, my passion and my love. I look forward to sharing it with all of you as I begin this new journey. I need some time to heal this broken heart but make no mistake; I will be back and hopefully stronger than ever. Thank you my friends, from the bottom of my heart. Love, Shania."
Country Music Television (CMT) recently searched for country music's next great duo on its "Can You Duet" competition show. Twenty-two-year-old Caitlin Lynn, a native of Glen Burnie, Maryland, entered the competition with friend Jennifer Van Meter, who was cut by judges singer/songwriter/duo-partner Naomi Judd, songwriter Aimee Mayo and vocal coach Brett Manning. Twenty-two-year-old London, Kentucky native Will Snyder first faced the judges along with his cousin Belvis Morgan, who was also cut from the competition. After failed pairings by the judges with other contestants, Lynn and Snyder were finally paired up and wound up winning the competition, resulting in a recording contract with Sony BMG. Their magical chemistry, complementing voices and all-around likeable personalities won over the judges and the fans.
Caitlin and Will performed their first single, "Love Is," on the competition's finale. The duo is currently working on its first album that Lynn describes as "a cross between Keith Urban and us." Describing the album, she recently told CMT, "You are going to be able to dance, you are going to be able to cry and you are going to be able to rip out your soul and throw it against the wall because it's just so emotional." Included on the album will be a song Lynn co-wrote with Mayo, titled "Address in the Stars." No release date has been predicted for this album, so keep reading this column in the upcoming months for more details as they become available.
Congratulations, Caitlin and Will! You totally deserved to win!
"No Place That Far" songstress Sara Evans, 37, made her second trip down the matrimonial aisle on the arm of her 8-year-old son Avery on June 14. Evans married 35-year-old Birmingham, Alabama sports radio morning show host Jay Barker, a former University of Alabama quarterback, at a Franklin, Tennessee farm. Evans' three children and Barker's four children were all a part of the bridal party.
Evans divorced her husband of 14 years, Craig Schelske, just last year after a messy, public divorce that resulted in Evans' withdrawal from the "Dancing with the Stars" competition a couple years ago. Barker also divorced last year and he and Evans were engaged in March Evans and her children are moving to Birmingham so Barker can continue his job on WJOX-FM radio. The couple spent their first week of marriage at home with their newly blended family of seven children before heading off to their honeymoon the following week.
Congratulations and best wishes, Sara and Jay!
Supergroup Alabama members Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook recently filed a lawsuit against their former fellow group member, drummer Mark Herndon. The lawsuit reportedly claims that Herndon received overpayment of $202,670 from merchandise sales during the band's 2003 "American Farewell Tour." He supposedly was paid for his share of net merchandise sales before the tour's final accounting was completed and once the tour wrapped, "there were no net merchandise revenues." The suit also claims that Herndon has demanded payment of $65,047 as an advance on his portion of profits from the Cracker Barrel concert CD The Last Stand. Owen, Gentry and Cook have asked that Herndon's future earnings be withheld until this overpayment has been repaid in full.
Forbes magazine recently released its list of the top-earning entertainers and when it came to country artists, Toby Keith was the top dog. Keith earned an estimated gross income of $48 million last year. Not only is Keith a top-selling country artist, he also co-owns the I Love This Bar and Grill restaurant chain, he has an endorsement deal with Ford trucks and he owns a record label, Show Dog Nashville. Trailing behind Keith on the 2007 list are Rascal Flatts ($40 mil), Tim McGraw ($23 mil), Kenny Chesney ($22 mil), Brooks and Dunn ($20 mil), Brad Paisley ($16 mil), Faith Hill and Keith Urban (each earned $12 mil), George Strait ($11 mil) and Alan Jackson ($10 mil).
To help further pad his wallet, Keith's new movie, Beer for My Horses, is scheduled to be released August 8. He co-wrote, produced and starred in the film based on his smash hit single of the same title, a duet with the legendary Willie Nelson. The movie features Nelson, Rodney Carrington, Gina Gershon and Ted Nugent. The movie's soundtrack features Keith, Nelson, David Allan Coe, Mel Tillis and Show Dog Nashville artists Carter's Chord, Mica Roberts and Trailer Choir.
Congratulations are in order for Rascal Flatts member Joe Don Rooney and wife Tiffany Fallon on the birth of their first child. Son Jagger Donovan Rooney was born May 31 in Nashville, tipping the scales at 6.45 lbs and measuring 20" long. The singer/guitarist and his former Playboy Playmate wife recently said, "We are absolutely blown away by this little miracle gift that God has given to us. We can't wait to see what the future has in store for baby Jagger and our new family."
Eighty-three-year-old bandleader Danny Davis died of cardiac arrest at a Nashville hospital on June 12. Danny Davis and The Nashville Brass was named the Country Music Association's Instrumental Group of the Year from 1969 to 1974. They won the 1969 Best Country Instrumental Performance Grammy award for The Nashville Brass Featuring Danny Davis Play More Nashville Sounds. Davis worked as a trumpet player, a vocalist and a record producer, in addition to his role as a bandleader. He and The Nashville Brass recorded more than 30 albums, finding great success recording instrumental versions of popular country songs.
Well, that's it for yet another month. I'd like to take this opportunity to wish each of you a Happy 4th of July and encourage you to thank our service men and women whenever you cross paths. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, 'cause country music is comin' your way."