Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Little Nashville Opry Burns

The Little Nashville Opry, a regional country music hot-spot, was destroyed by fire attributed to arson on September 19. First opened for business in Indiana’s popular Brown County tourist area in 1975, the venue burned down to its shell a few hours after a Saturday evening concert. Fortunately, no one was harmed in the blaze.

The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms has determined that the fire, which started near the stage area, was not caused by electrical fault, but rather by arson. No one has been charged yet for starting the fire, but the venue’s owner, Esther Hamilton, is of great interest in the case. It has been reported that Hamilton owes $70,000 in back taxes – $44,000 on the building, $11,300 on the land, and nearly $15,000 on the building’s contents. Hamilton also did not apply for a mandatory entertainment permit this year, which requires a state fire marshal inspection, Failure to obtain this permit can result in a fine of $750 for each day of violation. The Little Nashville Opry did not receive this permit back in 2003, either, but was spared the hefty fines. It has also been reported that two other fires have been reported since 2002 at properties owned by Hamilton, but officials say they will not re-open these old cases.

Throughout the years, the venue has hosted some of the biggest names in country music and this unfortunate event forced the cancellation of upcoming concerts by Asleep at the Wheel, Bobby Bare, Bucky Covington, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, and Sawyer Brown. While the arson investigation continues, the future of the Little Nashville Opry is still unsure.

CMA Awards Coming Right Up

The 43rd Annual Country Music Association Awards are upon us; they’ll be handed out at Nashville’s Sommet Center on November 11. The ceremony, hosted by reigning Female and Male Vocalists Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley, will be broadcast live on ABC Television. Paisley dominates the list of nominees, as he will vie for Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Single and Song of the Year for “Then,” Album of the Year for American Saturday Night, and Musical Event and Music Video of the Year along with Keith Urban for their duet “Start a Band.” Urban trails Paisley with five nominations, followed by Jamey Johnson, George Strait, Taylor Swift, and Zac Brown with four nods each. One notable category to watch: Swift will compete for Entertainer of the Year for the very first time.

The awards ceremony will be jam-packed with performances. Artists currently scheduled to perform are Jason Aldean, Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Billy Currington, Vince Gill & Daughtry, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, George Strait, Sugarland, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, and the Zac Brown Band.

Congratulations and best wishes to all the nominees!

Taylor Swift Tops AMA Nominees

When the nominees for the 2009 American Music Awards were recently announced, 19-year-old Taylor Swift was the most-nominated country artist. Swift will vie for Favorite Country Female, Favorite Country Album for Fearless, Favorite Female Artist in Pop or Rock Music (competing against Beyonce and Lady Gaga), Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist (competing against Daughtry and Jason Mraz), All-Genre Artist of the Year (competing against Eminem, the late Michael Jackson, Kings of Leon, and Lady Gaga), and Favorite Pop or Rock Album for Fearless (competing against Michael Jackson’s Number Ones and Lady Gaga’s Fame).

And the country nominees are: Favorite Country Female: Reba McEntire, Swift, and Carrie Underwood; Favorite Country Male: Jason Aldean, Darius Rucker, and Keith Urban; Favorite Country Band, Duo or Group: Rascal Flatts, Sugarland, and the Zac Brown Band; and Favorite Country Album: Rascal Flatt’s Unstoppable, Swift’s Fearless, and the Zac Brown Band’s The Foundation.

Gloriana and the Zac Brown Band will also vie for the T-Mobile Breakthrough Artist of the Year award, which will be voted on by fans via text messaging. Fans can vote for all other categories right now via the Internet by visiting http://abc.go.com/shows/american-music-awards/vote. The AMA ceremony will air live from Los Angeles on ABC-Television on November 22.

Congratulations to all the nominees! Break a leg and make country music proud!

Garth Brooks Comes Out of Retirement

Back in 2001, Garth Brooks, the biggest entertainer in all genres of music, announced that he was retiring to his Oklahoma home to spend time with his three daughters until they graduated high school. They are now 17, 15, and 13 years old and dear ole Dad has decided to come out of retirement for a part-time gig for the next five years. Brooks announced last month that, beginning in December, he will perform at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas hotel and casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. He’ll be present his one-man, acoustic show once on Fridays and Sundays and twice on Saturdays during scheduled weekends throughout each year, show dates to be announced quarterly. The first five weekends he’ll perform are December 11-13, January 1-3 and 22-24, and February 12-14 and 26-28.

Upon announcing this deal, Brooks stated, “I am a fortunate guy that has got to live his life playing music for people, and the people have always taken care of me. In 2001, I announced my retirement to go home and raise our kids in Oklahoma. When Steve Wynn [chairman of the board and CEO of Wynn Resorts] approached me about playing, he did something different than anybody else had. He didn’t throw money at me.” To help persuade Brooks, Wynn sealed the deal by providing a private jet for Brooks’ commute between Oklahoma and Las Vegas so he can still spend time with his three daughters and wife Trisha Yearwood.

When describing the show, Brooks joked, “It’s a one-man show, so there’s going to be a lot of disappointment after that first weekend. Coming out and just playing – just me and a guitar – takes me back to the first days I got to play. I was lucky enough to do a place called Wild Willie’s Saloon in Stillwater, Oklahoma before I moved to Nashville and started touring. That’s what it’s going to be for me. It’s a chance to slowly get back into it to see what people like, what they don’t like. It’s going to be very intimate.”

Tickets for Brooks’ shows are $125 and can be purchased by calling (702) 770-7469 or online at www.wynnlasvegas.com/boxoffice.

Welcome back, Garth! You’ve been missed.

Candy Coburn Supports Susan G. Komen

Local country singer/songwriter Candy Coburn has used her great music talents to become an advocate for finding a cure for breast cancer. She teamed up with Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure by donating 100% of all artist and producer royalties from her self-penned “Pink Warrior” anthem to help the cause. Coburn wrote this song in honor of her grandmother Tucker “as an anthem for the millions of women and families who have or will be touched by breast cancer.” She has been traveling around the country performing the inspirational song at Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure events, even performing it at last month’s 5K race right here in her hometown.

As a Susan G. Komen Celebrity Ambassador, Coburn says, “I am honored to be a part of Komen! I feel this is a special song I wrote with some special friends. It’s a fight song that I hope makes a difference in many lives. Keep fighting, never give up, be a warrior!”

To help find a cure for breast cancer, you can download “Pink Warrior” at www.candycoburn.com, iTunes, www.walmart.com, or www.bestbuy.com. Remember, 100% of the royalties from each sale, approximately $0.40 of the $0.99 download charge, will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure foundation.

Thanks, Candy, for your generosity and talents in helping to find a cure for this dreaded disease! Keep up the good work.

Nashville Music Awards: And the Winner Is…

When Leadership Music and the Next Big Nashville music festival handed out the Nashville Music Awards at the Cannery Ballroom near downtown Nashville’s famed Music Row last month, to no one’s surprise, Taylor Swift was the big winner. Swift was crowned Artist of the Year and Songwriter-Artist of the Year, and her Fearless CD was named Country Album of the Year. Swift’s frequent songwriting collaborator Liz Rose was named Songwriter of the Year. Lady Antebellum was named New Artist of the Year.

And while we’re on the subject of Taylor Swift, fans can catch the songstress as host and musical guest of NBC’s Saturday Night Live on November 7. And if Swift doesn’t use this comedic opportunity to take a little jab at Kanye West after stealing the spotlight during her first-ever MTV Video Music Award win recently, well, she’s a bigger person than most of us!

Congratulations, Taylor, Liz, and Lady Antebellum!

Little Big Town Expanding

“Boondocks” country group Little Big Town is expanding in the near future, but the foursome is not gaining a new band member. Band-mates Karen Fairchild and Jimi Westbrook, who were married May 31, 2006, just announced that they are expecting their first child in March. Fortunately for Fairchild, the band is sticking close to home these days, as they are currently working on a brand new album. In addition to recording new music, the happy couple is surely honing its lullaby skills as well.

Congratulation, Karen and Jimi!

That’s it for another month. I’d like to take this opportunity to wish each of you and your families a very Happy Thanksgiving as the holiday season is about to officially kick off. Always remember: “Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, ‘cause country music is comin’ your way.”