Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Upcoming Live Country: Keith, Chesney, Urban & More

The big arena country concert scene has been pretty low-key over the winter months, but that's all about to change. Toby Keith is going to roll into Freedom Hall on February 6 with his "Biggest and Baddest Tour. " Keith will be performing hits from his latest album, That Don't Make Me a Bad Guy, as well as all his biggest hits. He'll be bringing opening acts Jack Ingram and Julianne Hough along with him. Tickets can be purchased online at www. ticketmaster. com, at all Ticket Master locations, at the Freedom Hall box office, or by calling (502) 361-3100. Although ticket prices are $49. 75 and $35, Keith is mindful of the financial woes everyone is enduring at this time and is offering a special section of seats at four tickets for $99 ($24. 75 each).

Horseshoe Casino in Elizabeth, Indiana has a couple must-see concerts coming up in the very near future. Gary Allan will perform on February 27 and tickets are $75, $55 and $45. A couple of weeks later, on March 13, Horseshoe will present "An Acoustic Evening with Travis Tritt. " Tickets for this show are $55, $35, and $25. Tickets for both shows can be purchased online at www. ticketmaster. com or by visiting Horseshoe.

Probably the biggest concert that will hit the Louisville area this year is Kenny Chesney's "Sun City Carnival Tour," which will stop off at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on Saturday, May 30. Chesney performs a handful of stadium shows each summer and we just so happened to luck out this year. Chesney will be bringing Nicholasville, Kentucky's very own bad boys Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry, a. k. a. Montgomery Gentry, the sizzling Sugarland, fireball Miranda Lambert and the red-hot new trio Lady Antebellum along with him. Fans can expect rockin' country music lasting from the middle of the afternoon until the late hours of the night. Although no concrete ticket information for this show has been released, Chesney is also mindful of those suffering financially and will be offering "working people section" tickets for a ridiculously low price of $29. 50. Ticket prices at Boston's Gillette Stadium in August are selling for $99. 50, $74. 50, and $44. 50. If you are able to attend this must-see show, you'll see exactly why Chesney has held onto the title of Entertainer of the Year for several years running now.

Although little information has been released regarding Keith Urban's 2009 tour, Urban is planning to play Louisville at some point this year. His tour begins in May and will likely run through the fall. The only information known at this point regarding an opening act is that each concert will include one of the following supporting acts: Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Glen Campbell, Lady Antebellum, Sugarland, Taylor Swift, or The Zac Brown Band. Keep reading in the upcoming months for more details as they become available.

Carrie Underwood Captures Trio of People's Choice Awards

It was obvious that country music fans had been busy voting for their favorite country artists when the annual People's Choice Awards were handed out January 7. Carrie Underwood was the top country artist, taking home a total of three awards. She was named Favorite Female Singer in all genres of music, Favorite Star Under 35, and her "Last Name" was named Favorite Country Song. Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus, and Joe Don Rooney, also known as Rascal Flatts, were named Favorite Group among all genres of music. Kid Rock's summer anthem "All Summer Long," which was also a crossover hit on country radio, was named Favorite Rock Song. Dancing with the Stars, which features one of country music's new sweethearts, Julianne Hough, was named Favorite Reality Show.

Congratulations to Carrie, Rascal Flatts, Kid Rock and Julianne!

The Grammy Awards are Going Country

If you haven't already done so, you'll want to be sure to set the DVR to record the Grammy Awards, which will air live on CBS Television on February 8. The top contenders at the Grammy Awards are the rock/bluegrass duo of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. The pair will vie for five trophies: Best Country Collaboration with Vocals for "Killing the Blues," Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for "Rich Woman," Record of the Year (includes all genres of music) for "Please Read the Letter,"and Album of the Year (includes all genres of music) and Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album for Raising Sand. Following on the heels of Plant and Krauss is "The Cowboy," George Strait, who has four nominations, including Best Country Album for Troubadour, Best Male Country Vocal Performance for "Troubadour," and two nominations for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals for "Shiftwork" with Kenny Chesney and "House of Cash" with Patty Loveless.

In addition to the traditional country category Grammy nominations, Lady Antebellum will compete in the overall Best New Artist category along with Adele, Duffy, the Jonas Brothers, and Jazmine Sullivan. Kathy Mattea's acclaimed Coal CD will compete for the title of Best Traditional Folk Album. The Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album category includes Rodney Crowell's Sex & Gasolineand Emmylou Harris' All I Intended to Be.

One night prior to the Grammy Awards ceremony, the Recording Academy will honor Country Music Hall of Famers Brenda Lee and the late Gene Autry with Lifetime Achievement Awards. "Little Dynamite" Lee has enjoyed pop-country crossover success with hits like "I'm Sorry" and the holiday classic "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree. " Autry began his career as a singing cowboy and enjoyed chart success with "At Mail Call Today" and his original version of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. " And for an extra, free holiday tidbit of trivia, following an appearance in a Christmas parade following the success of "Rudolph," Autry wrote the song "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town. "

Congratulations to all the nominees!

More Year End Lists

With the digital age we are now living in, sales of physical CDs are down these days. Although Taylor Swift's career began in the midst of the digital age, CD sales have been good for her. The nineteen-year-old singer/songwriter sold more CDs last year than any other artist in all genres of music, having sold 4,003,000. Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush, better known as Sugarland, were the second top-selling country artists of 2008 and the eighth overall top-selling act with 2,063,000 CDs sold. Swift landed twice on the list of the 10 top-selling albums of all genres of music with her sophomore album, Fearless, released in November,at #3 (over 2. 1 million copies sold) and her debut album Taylor Swiftat #6 (over 1. 5 million copies sold).

When it comes to digital tallies, Swift made quite a splash on the year-end lists as well. She was the second best-selling digital artist of all genres with sales of 8,793,000 digital tracks sold, only being beat out by pop songstress Rihanna. Fearlesswas the fifth best-selling digital album with sales of 225,000.

Radio airplay is monitored by the Nielsen Broadcast Data System, which recently ranked the 10 artists (of all genres of music) who got the most radio airplay in 2008. Of the top 10 artists, six of them were country artists. Rascal Flatts was the most-played country artist on radio, landing at #2 overall. Toby Keith landed at #3, followed by George Strait at #5, Tim McGraw #6, Taylor Swift #8, and Alan Jackson at #9.

Country music's favorite American Idolwinner, Carrie Underwood had an extremely busy year last year and her efforts did not go unnoticed. She continued to release hit after hit to country radio, performed on numerous nationally televised awards programs, continued to rake in the awards, became a member of the legendary Grand Ole Opry, co-hosted the CMA Awards program with Brad Paisley, and played live to more than 1. 2 million fans on her "Carnival Ride Tour" (which also included co-headlining dates with Keith Urban), so it's no surprise that Billboard magazine recently named Underwood the "most-heard country artist" of 2008. In addition to this accolade, the magazine ranked her as the top Hot Country Songs Artist of the Year.

Congratulations to all the country hitmakers! Let's hope 2009 is an equally successful year for country music.

Upcoming New Music

Now that we're one month into the new year, new country CDs are being released by the truckloads. Late last month, Pat Green released What I'm For, Johnny Cash Remixed was released, and a karaoke version of Taylor Swift's self-titled debut album hit store shelves. This month country fans can pick up Dierks Bentley's Feel That Fireand Wynonna's Sing, Chapter Ion February 3 and Jake Owen's sophomore disc, Easy Does It,on February 24. Next month, Jack Ingram's new album will be available on March 17, Eric Church's sophomore album Carolinaand Martina McBride's yet-untitled CD will be released March 24, and Billy Ray Cyrus (Back to Tennessee)and Keith Urban will offer new albums on March 31.

Rascal Flatts is allowing fans to help them design their album cover for Unstoppable, which will be released on April 7, the same day that Emerson Drive's I Believewill hit stores. While Big Kenny Alphin continues to recover from health issues for part of this year, his Big & Rich duo partner, John Rich, will release his solo album, Son of a Preacher Man, in May.

Jason Michael Carroll's long-awaited second album and the karaoke version of Taylor Swift's Fearlessare also scheduled to hit stores sometime in the upcoming months, although exact release dates have not yet been released. Butcher Hollow, Kentucky's favorite "Coal Miner's Daughter," Loretta Lynn, is also working on two new albums which could be released as early as this spring. She is currently working on an album of all new material and is re-recording several of her #1 hits for an album produced by John Carter Cash, the son of the late Johnny and June Carter Cash.

Country Family Album

Sixty-seven-year-old Jon Hager, who made up The Hager Twins along with his twin brother Jim, was found dead in his Nashville apartment on January 9. Hager reportedly died in his sleep and had been in poor health since his twin died of a sudden heart attack on May 1, 2008, following a business lunch between the brothers. The Hager Twins were discovered by Buck Owens as they performed at Disneyland and later became staples on the legendary corn-pone country music comedy show Hee Haw. Our condolences go out to the Hager family.

Eighty-eight-year-old Country Music Hall of Famer and legendary Grand Ole Opry member "Little" Jimmy Dickens underwent brain surgery on January 13. Dickens is currently recuperating from the surgery which cleared up a blood clot which was created when blood vessels in his brain tore and blood gathered in the space between his brain and its protective covering within his skull. Here's wishing "Little" Jimmy a speedy recovery so he can return to the Opry stage to once again perform "May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose. "

Shortly after the passing of Country Music Hall of Famer Eddy Arnold last year, a 48-year-old California man by the name of Christopher Tanner submitted a paternity lawsuit claiming to be the son of the late "Tennessee Plowboy." Tanner's mother, Arlene Tanner-Glynn, claims to have had a relationship with Arnold which resulted in the birth of her son. On January 5, a Nashville judge ordered this lawsuit to be sealed, meaning all future filings in the case and the entire case file will remain unavailable for public viewing.

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. "