Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Chesney Tops CMA Nominations

When Rascal Flatts, Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum, and James Otto announced the nominees for the 42nd Annual Country Music Association Awards last month, Kenny Chesney topped the list of nominees. He garnered nods in the following seven categories: Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Single of the Year for "Don't Blink," Album of the Year for Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates, Music Video of the Year for "Don't Blink," and two nominations for Musical Event of the Year, "Shiftwork" with George Strait and "Every Other Weekend" with Reba McEntire.

Following closely behind Chesney with six nods was Jennifer Nettles. One nomination was for being the sole songwriter of "Stay" for Song of the Year, and the other five were with fellow Sugarland partner Kristian Bush: Entertainer of the Year, Vocal Duo of the Year, Musical Event of the Year for "Life In a Northern Town" with Little Big Town and Jake Owen, and Music Video and Single of the Year for "Stay." George Strait earned five nominations and Alan Jackson and Brad Paisley trailed Strait with four nods each.

This year's CMA awards program will take place at Nashville's Sommet Center on November 12 and will air live on ABC-Television. And the nominees are: Entertainer of the Year: Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, George Strait, Sugarland, and Keith Urban; Female Vocalist of the Year: Alison Krauss, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Taylor Swift, and Carrie Underwood; Male Vocalist of the Year: Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, George Strait, and Keith Urban; Vocal Duo of the Year: Big & Rich, Brooks & Dunn, Montgomery Gentry, Sugarland, and The Wreckers; and Vocal Group of the Year: Eagles, Emerson Drive, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, and Rascal Flatts.

New Artist of the Year: Jason Aldean, Rodney Atkins, Lady Antebellum, James Otto, and Kellie Pickler; Album of the Year: Brooks & Dunn's Cowboy Town, Kenny Chesney's Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates, Alan Jackson's Good Time, George Strait's Troubadour, and Carrie Underwood's Carnival Ride; Single of the Year: Trace Adkins' "You're Gonna Miss This," Kenny Chesney's "Don't Blink," Miranda Lambert's "Gunpowder & Lead," George Strait's "I Saw God Today," and Sugarland's "Stay"; and Song of the Year (awarded to songwriter): Trace Adkins' "You're Gonna Miss This," Alan Jackson's "Good Time," Brad Paisley's "Letter to Me," George Strait's "I Saw God Today," and Sugarland's "Stay."

Music Video of the Year: Trace Adkins' "You're Gonna Miss This," Kenny Chesney's "Don't Blink," Alan Jackson's "Good Time," Brad Paisley's "Waitin' On a Woman," and Sugarland's "Stay"; Musical Event of the Year: Kenny Chesney & George Strait's "Shiftwork," Reba McEntire & Kenny Chesney's "Every Other Weekend," Robert Plant & Alison Krauss' "Gone, Gone, Gone," Sugarland with Little Big Town & Jake Owen on "Life In a Northern Town," and Josh Turner & Trisha Yearwood's "Another Try"; and Musician of the Year: Jerry Douglas (dobro), Paul Franklin (steel guitar), Dann Huff (guitar), Brent Mason (guitar), and Mac McAnally (guitar).

Congratulations to all the nominees!

Craig Morgan Headed to the Opry

"That's What I Love About Sunday" singer and former member of the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division Craig Morgan got the surprise of a lifetime during a concert for U.S. troops last month at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina. While he was singing John Conlee's "Rose Colored Glasses," Conlee walked onstage and invited Morgan to become a member of the legendary Grand Ole Opry. Morgan immediately accepted the invitation and said, "I do love the Opry. And I gotta tell you, it's cool to be invited right here," at the very base he was stationed at as part of his 10-year tenure in the Army.

Following Morgan's acceptance of this prestigious invitation, Pete Fisher, Vice President and General Manager of the Opry, said, "This was the perfect time and place to invite Craig to become the Opry's newest member. Craig consistently displays such a high degree of quality and integrity in all he does, from serving our country, to making great country music, to his frequent performances at the Grand Ole Opry. Whether at a military installation or on the Opry stage, audiences admire his character and love his music."

Morgan will become the latest member of the Opry on Oct. 25.

Country Honors

On September 17, Martina McBride hosted the ACM Honors ceremony at Nashville's Musicians Hall of Fame. Presented by the Academy of Country Music, these awards were voted on by the Academy's board of directors. Bill Anderson and Fred Rose were honored with the Academy's newly created honor, the Poet's Award. Legendary television host and producer Dick Clark received the Jim Reeves International Award for his "efforts in expanding country music's geographical boundaries." Brenda Lee, the Oak Ridge Boys, and the late Conway Twitty and Porter Wagoner were recognized as recipients of Cliffie Stone Pioneer Awards for their ground-breaking work in country music. Mark Wright was named Top Producer and Justin Niebank was named Best Audio Engineer. The following musicians were also recognized for their talents: Jerry Douglas (specialty – Dobro), Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Shannon Forrest (percussion – drums), Dan Huff (guitar), and Michael Rhodes (bass).

On October 13, Reba McEntire will be honored during the 46th Annual ASCAP Country Music Awards program at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. McEntire will receive the ASCAP Golden Note Award for achieving extraordinary career milestones, being one of the best-selling female artists in country music history. Also honored during the ceremony will be songwriters and publishers of ASCAP's most performed country songs of the year.

The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame will hold its annual induction ceremony at the Nashville Renaissance Hotel on October 26. Matraca Berg and Tom Shapiro will be inducted in the songwriter category and John Hiatt will be inducted in the songwriter-artist category. Berg is best known as the writer of Martina McBride's "Wild Angels," Deana Carter's "Strawberry Wine,' and Trisha Yearwood's "Wrong Side of Memphis." Shapiro has penned Trace Adkins' "Hot Mama," Sara Evans' "No Place That Far," and Neal McCoy's "Wink." Hiatt has written hits such as Elvis Costello's "She Loves the Jerk," Rosanne Cash's "The Way We Make a Broken Heart," and Joe Cocker's "Have a Little Faith in Me."

On November 11, "Bocephus" himself, Hank Williams, Jr., will be honored with the BMI Icon award during BMI's 56th Annual Country Awards in Nashville. He will be honored with an all-star musical tribute including some of his biggest hits: "A Country Boy Can Survive," "Family Tradition," "Born to Boogie," and "All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down."

Country Music Hall of Famer George Jones will receive one of the nation's highest honors by President George W. Bush on December 7. Jones will be honored during the 31st Annual Kennedy Center Honors for "lifetime achievements in the performing arts" in Washington, D.C. He will be honored along with actor Morgan Freeman, singer Barbra Streisand, choreographer Twyla Tharp, and singers/musicians Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry of the Who.

Dolly Parton Heading to Louisville

International superstar Dolly Parton is bringing her down-home wit and legendary country crooning to the Louisville Palace on October 26 for what promises to be an unforgettable "Evening with Dolly Parton." Her "Backwoods Barbie Tour" will feature new music from her recently released CD of the same name, as well as classics from her illustrious career, which has spanned nearly five decades. Fans are sure to be treated to a little bit gospel, a little bit rock and roll, and Parton's classic country gems like "Coat of Many Colors," "Jolene," "9 to 5," and her signature tune, "I Will Always Love You." Parton will showcase her musical abilities by playing guitar, piano, fiddle, banjo, harmonica, autoharp and penny whistle.

Tickets for this show are already on sale and can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.com or in person at all Ticketmaster locations. Tickets cost $85.50 and $235.00.

New Country Hitting Stores

As you read through this extensive list of upcoming country albums, you'll know that the holiday shopping season is just around the corner. Last month's most-anticipated releases included Jessica Simpson's country debut, Do You Know, featuring the title-track duet with Dolly Parton; Kellie Pickler's self-titled sophomore album; Learn to Live, the country debut of Hootie + the Blowfish lead singer Darius Rucker; American Idol finalist Kristy Lee Cook's Why Wait; Hal Ketchum's long-awaited return, Father Time; Craig Morgan's Greatest Hits; and Faith Hill's debut Christmas CD, titled Joy to the World.

This month the long wait for Kenny Chesney's new album will finally be over. On October 14, Chesney will release a deluxe edition of Lucky Old Sun (including four bonus tracks), with the standard version being released the following week. On the same day, Little Big Town will re-release A Place to Land with four new recordings, Billy Currington will release Little Bit of Everything, and the legendary Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, the live 1968 concert album, will be re-released with previously unreleased material as well as a new documentary DVD. On October 7, Tim McGraw will be back with Greatest Hits, Volume 3 and Merle Haggard will offer up 20 Hits, Volume 2. Lee Ann Womack will return to record stores with Call Me Crazy on October 21, the same day as Craig Morgan's That's Why. And rounding out the month on the 28th will be Reba McEntire's 50 Greatest Hits, a three-CD boxed set spanning her career from "How Blue" to her smash duet "Because of You" with Kelly Clarkson, Rascal Flatts' Greatest Hits, Volume I (which will include a bonus Christmas CD with "I'll Be Home for Christmas," "White Christmas," and "Jingle Bell Rock") and Toby Keith's That Don't Make Me a Bad Guy.

The big news in November releases is Taylor Swift's highly-anticipated sophomore album, Fearless, which will hit stores on November 11, the day prior to the CMA awards. The week before Swift's release, Brad Paisley will release his mostly instrumental Play and Alabama lead singer Randy Owen will release a solo album titled One on One. Trace Adkins' next, yet-to-be-titled album is scheduled to hit stores just in time for after Thanksgiving Christmas shopping on November 25.

Country Codas

The legendary studio drummer Buddy Harman died on August 21 at the age of 79 years old, after battling congestive heart failure. Harman began his career as a session musician in 1955 and played on legendary recordings including Loretta Lynn's "Coal Miner's Daughter," Roger Miller's "King of the Road," Patsy Cline's "Crazy," Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire," and Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man."

Seventy-one-year-year-old singer, songwriter, actor and "Guitar Man" Jerry Reed lost his battle with emphysema on August 31 while under hospice care. As a singer, Reed was best known for hits "She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)," "When You're Hot, You're Hot," and "East Bound and Down." The latter tune was from his best known acting role in the movie Smokey and the Bandit

Eighty-one-year-old Grand Ole Opry member Charlie Walker, who was recently diagnosed with colon cancer, passed away on September 12 in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Walker was best known for his 1958 recording of "Pick Me Up On Your Way Down." In addition to singing, Walker was a radio disc jockey early in his career and was inducted into the Country Radio DJ Hall of Fame, and he played Hawkshaw Hawkins in the 1985 film Sweet Dreams, which told the story of Patsy Cline. Walker is survived by his wife, Connie, and 10 children.

Well, that's it for this month. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, ‘cause country music is comin' your way."