Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Catching Up with Eric Church as He Prepares for Louisville

Louisville Music News recently caught up with singer Eric Church via phone in anticipation of his April 3 performance as part of Hank Williams, Jr.’s “Rowdy Friends Tour 2010.” In addition to Williams and Church, Jamey Johnson and The Grascals will also perform on this highly anticipated show. Church promises that his portion of the show will definitely be high-energy and will “hit you pretty hard, like you’ve just been in a fight.” His goal is to make a real connection with the fans as he offers music covering a broad spectrum of country music drawn from all styles. A singer/songwriter, Church co-wrote all the tracks on his current album, Carolina, including the hits “Love Your Love the Most” and “Hell on the Heart,” and offers hints of his musical influences ranging from Johnny Cash to Bruce Springsteen. Church warns that his show is not for the faint at heart as his intention is not for “fans to sit in their seats on their hands,” but rather to be standing up with their hands in the air enjoying the party atmosphere.

Heaven Hill. Photo By Damon T. Atherton

Church is looking forward to touring with Williams and Johnson this spring. He greatly looks up to Williams and hopes to learn the key to Williams’ career longevity and his ability to continue to sell-out arenas after being in the business for decades. He also hopes to take advantage of time on the road with Johnson, a fellow singer-songwriter and writer of the award-winning “In Color,” and the two hope to write some music together in the very near future in anticipation of Church’s next album which he hopes to have out late this year or early next year.

The “Rowdy Friends Tour 2010” will roll into Freedom Hall at 7:00 pm on Saturday, April 3, and tickets can be purchased at the Freedom Hall box office, at all Ticketmaster locations, or online at www.ticketmaster.com.

Lady Antebellum Tops List of ACM Nominees

When fellow Okies Reba McEntire and Blake Shelton announced the nominees for the 45thAnnual Academy of Country Music Awards last month, sizzling trio Lady Antebellum topped the list of nominees with a whopping seven nods. Members Hillary Scott, Dave Haywood, and Charles Kelley will vie for Top Vocal Group, Album of the Year for their self-titled debut album, and Song of the Year, Single Record of the Year, and Video of the Year for “Need You Now.” In addition, the trio is nominated as songwriters along with Josh Kear for Song of the Year nominee “Need You Now” and co-producer along with Paul Worley in the Single Record of the Year category for the same song.

Following closely behind Lady A with six nods each were Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, and the Zac Brown Band. Lambert will compete for Top Female Vocalist, Album of the Year for Revolution, and Song, Single, and Video of the Year for “White Liar.” She received an additional nomination in the Song of the Year category for co-writing “White Liar” with Natalie Hemby. Underwood will vie for Entertainer of the Year, Top Female Vocalist, Album of the Year for Play On, Song of the Year for “Cowboy Cassanova,” and Vocal Event of the Year for her duet of “I Told You So” with Randy Travis. Her sixth nomination comes as co-writer of “Cowboy Casanova” in the Song of the Year category along with Mike Elizondo and Brett James. The Zac Brown Band will compete for Entertainer of the Year, Top New Vocal Group, Album of the Year for The Foundation, and Single Record of the Year for “Toes.” Zac Brown is also nominated as producer in the Album of the Year category and songwriter in the Single Record of the Year category. Taylor Swift will compete in five categories, while Kenny Chesney and Brad Paisley each received four nominations.

It has already been announced that Luke Bryan has been named this year’s Top New Solo Vocalist, Joey + Rory the Top New Vocal Duo, and Gloriana the Top New Vocal Group. These three will now compete as Top New Artist. During the live telecast from the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas on April 18, Nicolasville, Kentucky natives Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry, better known as Montgomery Gentry, will be honored with the ACM/The Home Depot Humanitarian Award. Reba McEntire will assume hosting duties of the ceremony which will air live on CBS-Television.

And the nominees are: Entertainer of the Year: Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, George Strait, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, and Zac Brown Band; Top Female Vocalist: Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, and Lee Ann Womack; Top Male Vocalist: Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, George Strait, and Keith Urban; Top Vocal Duo: Brooks & Dunn, Joey + Rory, Montgomery Gentry, Steel Magnolia, and Sugarland; and Top Vocal Group: Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Randy Rogers Band, Rascal Flatts, and Zac Brown Band.

Top New Artist: Luke Bryan, Gloriana, and Joey + Rory; Album of the Year: Lady Antebellum’s Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert’s Revolution, Brad Paisley’s American Saturday Night, Carrie Underwood’s Play On, and the Zac Brown Band’s The Foundation; Single Record of the Year: Billy Currington’s “People Are Crazy,” Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now,” Miranda Lambert’s “White Liar,” David Nail’s “Red Light,” and the Zac Brown Band’s “Toes”; and Song of the Year:Billy Currington’s “People Are Crazy,”Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now,” Miranda Lambert’s “White Liar,” Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me,” and Carrie Underwood’s “Cowboy Cassanova.”

Vocal Event of the Year: Brooks & Dunn and Billy Gibbons’ “Honky Tonk Stomp,” Kenny Chesney & Dave Matthews’ “I’m Alive,” Jack Ingram & Patty Griffin’s “Seeing Stars,” Blake Shelton & Trace Adkins’ “Hillbilly Bone,” and Carrie Underwood & Randy Travis’s “I Told You So”; andVideo of the Year: Randy Houser’s “Boots On,” Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now,” Miranda Lambert’s “White Liar,” Brad Paisley’s “Welcome to the Future,” and Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me.”

The ACM Musician / Bandleader / Instrumentalist (MBI) Awards will not be handed out along with the traditional ACM awards, but rather at the annual ACM Honors ceremony this fall in Nashville. Among these recently announced nominees is Louisville’s very own David Snowden of Triangle Talent, who books shows for the Kentucky State Fair, among many other events. Snowden will vie for Talent Buyer of the Year.

Congratulations to all the nominees!

Brooks & Dunn Schedule Farewell

Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn, best known as country power duo Brooks & Dunn, have announced their final concert they’ll perform together as one of the greatest duets in country music history. They will take their final bow on their “Last Rodeo” tour at Nashville’s Sommet Center on August 10. Their farewell performance will raise money for the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum’s “All for the Hall” campaign to help preserve the posterity of country music.

In the meantime, some of the biggest names in country music will pay tribute to Brooks & Dunn while in Vegas for this month’s ACM Awards. The night following the awards ceremony, April 19, the Academy of Country Music will host an all-star tribute to the duo at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Performers for ACM Presents: Brooks & Dunn – The Last Rodeoinclude Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Jennifer Hudson, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, George Strait, Taylor Swift, Sugarland, Carrie Underwood, and Keith Urban. Proceeds from this special concert will benefit the ACM Lifting Lives charity and the show will be filmed to air on CBS-Television on May 23.

Country Shines Bright at the Oscars

When the 82ndAnnual Academy Awards were handed out in Los Angeles last month, country music was very well represented. Famed actor Jeff Bridges took home the top male trophy, the Best Actor in a Leading Role Oscar, for his portrayal of fading country music star Bad Blake in the movie “Crazy Heart.” Singer/songwriter Ryan Bingham and producer extraordinaireT Bone Burnett also picked up the Oscar for Original Song of the Year for the “Crazy Heart” theme song, “The Weary Kind.”

Country crooner and actor Tim McGraw, along with wife Faith Hill, were on hand to congratulate his “The Blind Side” co-star, Sandra Bullock, for her Best Actress in a Leading Role win for her portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy, opposite McGraw’s portrayal of husband Sean Tuohy. “The Blind Side” was inspired by the true story of University of Mississippi offensive tackle football player Michael Oher.

Next Class of Hall of Fame Inductees Revealed

The next inductees into the hallowed Country Music Hall of Fame were recently announced by the Country Music Association. Jimmy Dean and Ferlin Husky will be inducted in the veteran era artists category, Billy Sherrill will be inducted in the non-performer category, and Don Williams will be inducted in the modern era artist category. Dean is not only known for his smash single “Big Bad John,” but also as sausage man extraordinairefor founding Jimmy Dean Sausage. Husky is best remembered for hits “Gone” and “Wings of a Dove,” as well as “A Dear John Letter” along with Jean Shepard. Sherrill is best known as a songwriter and producer, having worked on classics such as Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man,” George Jones' “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” Charlie Rich’s “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” and Tanya Tucker’s “Delta Dawn.” “Gentle Giant” Williams is known for classics “You’re My Best Friend,” “I Believe in You,” “Lord I Hope This Day Is Good,” and “Lord Have Mercy on a Country Boy.” The formal Hall of Fame inductions will take place on a yet-to-be announced date later this year.

A little closer to home, some of Kentucky’s finest country music performers will be inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame next year. Pikeville-born and Louisville-raised Patty Loveless, Nicholasville-native John Michael Montgomery, and Sandy Hook-born Keith Whitley will all be inducted into the KMHofF during a ceremony in Lexington on April 7, 2011. Fellow-inductee Steve Wariner was born in Noblesville, Indiana but spent much of his early years with family here in the Bluegrass State. Other 2011 inductees will be 1940’s country singer Molly O’Day, Louisville’s own gospel singer Larnelle Harris, and bluegrass duo the Goins Brothers.

Congratulations to all the Hall of Fame inductees!

Toby Keith Headed to Fort Knox

As was reported right here last month, Toby Keith would likely be rolling through the area sometime in the very near future. Well, details have been released as Keith will be performing for the troops and civilian fans alike at Godman Army Airfield at Fort Knox on May 29, during Memorial Day Weekend. He has played extensively for our troops stationed right here at home and while serving on foreign fields and is known for patriotic anthems such as “American Soldier” and “Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue (The Angry American Song).” Tickets for this must-see show will go on sale April 5 and will cost $25 if purchased the first week, then the price will jump to $35 until the day before the concert, and tickets will run $40 the day of the show. Tickets can be purchased online through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com, at www.knoxmwr.com, or at the Fort Knox Ticket Office.

Country Baby Boom

Something must seriously be in the water in Nashville as there is a definite baby boom in country music right now. Little Big Town just welcomed another member into the LBT family as group members Karen Fairchild and Jimi Westbrook, who married in 2006, welcomed their first child into the world last month. Son Elijah Dylan Westbrook was born on March 5 in Nashville and weighed in at 7 lbs, 14 oz.

“Just Got Started Loving You” crooner James Otto is quite excited these days as he and his wife, Amy, are expecting their first child in August. Recently speaking about the impending birth, he said, “Amy and I are so excited and feel so blessed. I am overwhelmed with joy at the idea of becoming a father. This is truly going to be an amazing, life-altering experience.”

“Do I” and “All My Friends Say” singer Luke Bryan and his wife, Caroline, are expecting their second child in August. The couple is excited to welcome a little brother or sister into the world for their 2-year-old son Bo.

The Rascal Flatts family is going to be expanding later this year as Joe Don Rooney and his wife, former model Tiffany Fallon, are expecting baby #2 in September. Rooney and Fallon were married in 2006 and two years later welcomed their first child, son Jagger Donovan, into the world.

Congratulations to all the new and expectant parents. Happy lullaby singing!

Well, that’s it for yet another month. Always remember: “Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, ‘cause country music is comin’ your way.”