Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Ky. State Fair's Going Country

As the calendar rolls over to August and the temperatures continue to rise, it's time for the annual Kentucky State Fair. Running Thursday, August 19 Sunday, August 29, the state fair is once again jam-packed with some of the biggest names in country music. Sugarland and opening act Little Big Town will kick off the fair when their "Incredible Machine" Tour rolls into Freedom Hall on opening night, August 19. Tickets for this show cost $33 and $48. On Saturday night, August 21, Tim McGraw will bring his "Southern Voice" Tour to Freedom Hall, along with Kentucky boys Montgomery Gentry. Tickets for this must-see show cost $64 and $74.

Sunday night, August 22, offers the first free country concert in Cardinal Stadium. The Oak Ridge Boys will make their annual appearance at the state fair, this year bringing bluegrass band The Grascals along for the ride. Tuesday night, August 24, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" singer Charlie Daniels will bring his band to the stadium along with Kentucky's own "Dumas Walker" singers The Kentucky Headhunters. The free country music continues on Thursday, August 26 as Jake Owen and The Eli Young Band perform. And closing out the free country concerts at this year's fair will be the crowd favorite Billy Currington on Saturday, August 28. Opening the show for Currington will be new group The Band Perry.

And what better way is there to close out the Kentucky State Fair than with one final country concert? This year's honor goes to Rascal Flatts, who will be crooning in Freedom Hall on Sunday, August 29. Opening the show for Rascal Flatts will be American Idol alum Kellie Pickler and former Nashville Star winner Chris Young.

Boys and girls, start saving up your money and get ready to pile into the pickup truck and head to the state fair August 19-29. There's plenty country music for everyone's taste, whether classic country for grandma and grandpa, or the latest, greatest hits for the young ‘uns!

"Coal Miner's Daughter" Honored

The "Coal Miner's Daughter," Butcher Hollow, Kentucky native Loretta Lynn, is receiving some much-deserved honors as of late. In late June, Lynn's classic recording of her signature tune was among the 25 recordings named to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress, being recognized for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." The tune was released in 1970, and a decade later, her autobiography of the same name was turned into a major motion picture which earned actress Sissy Spacek an Academy Award for Best Actress portraying the country legend. Next month, Vintage Books will re-release the autobiography, as well as an audio version of the book, narrated by Spacek.

On October 12, Lynn will be recognized by the Recording Academy during the second Grammy Salute to Country Music at the historic Ryman Auditorium. During this event, Lynn will not only receive the Recording Academy President's Merit Award, but she'll also receive her Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Congratulations, Loretta!

Taylor Swift Continues to Rule the Country Roost

The accolades continue to roll in for young country/pop songstress Taylor Swift. On June 17, Swift was honored with the Hal David Starlight Award during the Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony in New York City. The award pays tribute to promising young songwriters. And speaking of songwriting, Swift's songwriting prowess will continue to be displayed as she announced late last month during a web-chat with fans that she wrote all the songs on her next album, titled Speak Now, scheduled to hit stores on October 25. She has spent the last two years since releasing Fearless writing about her life experiences. Unlike the majority of her past songs, Swift wrote all the tracks for this new album without co-writers as the majority of the songs were written while on tour and there were no co-writers handy to collaborate with.

When Forbes financial magazine recently ranked the 100 most powerful celebrities based on celebrities' pre-tax earnings from June 1, 2009 and June 1, 2010, as well as media visibility and presence on Facebook and Twitter, Swift was deemed the most powerful country artist. The musical sweetheart was the 12th most powerful celebrity, followed by country artists Kenny Chesney (#54), Rascal Flatts (#62), Toby Keith (#67), and Keith Urban (#76).

When Pollstar magazine recently ranked the top-grossing tours thus far in 2010, Taylor Swift was also the top-grossing country artist, placing third on the list with $34.2 million. George Strait's tour along with Reba McEntire and Lee Ann Womack was the fifth highest-ranking country tour with $29.8 million. Tim McGraw and Lady Antebellum landed at #8 with $28.2 million, Carrie Underwood at #15 with $18.4 million, Brad Paisley at #16 with $18.1 million, Brooks & Dunn at #22 with $13.8 million, and Rascal Flatts at #26 with $11.8 million.

Congratulations, Taylor on all your success!

Country Family Album

American Idol winner and country sweetheart Carrie Underwood said, "I do" to Ottawa Senators hockey player Mike Fisher on July 10. Despite much speculation of the nuptials, the couple seemed to have succeeded at keeping the ceremony private. The two were wed in what was described as "a spiritual expression of their love" ceremony held on the grounds of the Ritz-Carlton, Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Georgia. Due to the demands of their careers, Mr. & Mrs. Fisher plan to reside in both Nashville and Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. In a written statement to People magazine, which had exclusive coverage rights to the wedding, Mike and Carrie Fisher said, "We could not feel more blessed to have found each other and to have shared this day with our friends and family that mean so much to us!"

Another American Idol finalist is also succeeding in the romance department these days. AI finalist Kellie Pickler became engaged to songwriter Kyle Jacobs on June 15 while vacationing in Florida. Jacobs, who has written hits for artists like Trace Adkins, Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, Jo Dee Messina, Craig Morgan, and Clay Walker, popped the question on the anniversary of Pickler's late grandmother's birthday. Pickler says, "It turned out to be the most amazing day of my life. My whole world changed. We both feel like we got my grandmother's blessing."

Jay DeMarcus might play bass for a little trio by the name of Rascal Flatts, but he'll be playing lullabies before too long. He and wife Allison, who is a correspondent on CMT Insider, recently announced that they are expecting their first child in January. The father-to-be recently stated, "Allison and I are thrilled about becoming parents. I am confident that Ali will be a wonderful mother because she has done an incredible job raising me over the past six years."

"Blue" singer LeAnn Rimes is now officially a single woman as her divorce from Dean Sheremet was finalized on June 19. The two married in 2002 and separated at the end of last year amidst rumors that Rimes was dating actor Eddie Cibrian, with whom she starred in a Lifetime holiday movie. It turns out the rumors were true and Rimes and Cibrian have officially been dating as Cibrian, who was a regular on CSI: Miami last season, awaits his divorce from Brandi Glanville to be finalized.

Country Codas

Seventy-nine-year-old former sound engineer Bill Porter passed away on July 7. He was the chief engineer for Chet Atkins and is credited with helping to create country music's Nashville Sound in the 1960's. He was also the sound engineer for Elvis Presley's early RCA sessions and worked as the sound engineer for several of Presley's concerts which were released as live albums. He is also noted for having worked on the Everly Brothers' "Cathy's Clown" and Roy Orbison's "Oh, Pretty Woman."

Seventy-four-year-old country songwriter Hank Cochran lost his battle with pancreatic cancer at his Hendersonville, Tennessee home on July 15. The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer is best known for writing Eddy Arnold's "Make the World Go Away," Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces" and "She's Got You," Vern Gosdin's "Set ‘Em Up Joe," Merle Haggard's "It's Not Love (But It's Not Bad)," Ray Price's "A Way to Survive" and "Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me," Jim Reeves' "I'd Fight the World," Jeannie Seely's "Don't Touch Me," George Strait's "The Chair" and "Ocean Front Property," Ernest Tubb's "Through That Door," and Keith Whitley's "Miami, My Amy."

On July 17, 76-year-old session musician and songwriter Fred Carter, Jr. passed away at Nashville's Vanderbilt University Medical Center following a stroke. Carter is known for playing on recordings by artists like Bob Dylan, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Marty Robbins, Simon & Garfunkel, and Conway Twitty, and his songs have been recorded by the likes of Chet Atkins, Burl Ives, and Dean Martin. Carter is the father of "Strawberry Wine" singer Deanna Carter. Carter is survived by his wife of 49 years, Anna, two sons, daughter Deanna, and five grandchildren.

And our condolences go out to singer Craig Morgan upon the passing of his mother, 63-year-old Betty Sue Crockett. Crockett died at her home in Dickson, Tennessee following a battle with cancer.

Well, that's it for yet another month. Hopefully I'll see you all out at the country shows at the Kentucky State Fair. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, ‘cause country music is comin' your way."