Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Kentucky's Gals Judds Heading Home

Ever since Naomi Judd was forced to retire from her popular country music career as half of the multiple award-winning duo The Judds due to illness in 1991, there has only been a handful of instances where she resumed her position on-stage next to daughter Wynonna. The Ashland, Kentucky natives held a press conference after kicking off last month's 2010 CMA Music Festival and announced the details of their highly anticipated "The Last Encore" tour. Kicking off November 26 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and wrapping up on December 19 in Phoenix, Arizona, the duo's only Southern tour stop is in their home state and the city of choice just happens to be the Derby City. As of right now, The Judds are the first country music act scheduled to perform a concert in Louisville's newly named downtown arena, KFC Yum! Center, on December 3 (following The Eagles' October concert and Justin Beiber's November concert).

The Judds are currently working on a new album to offer fans not only their favorites from nearly the last three decades, but some new material as well during this tour. Fans will also be happy to know that The Judds are planning to play so many hits, as well as some holiday classics, that there will not be an opening act. A portion of the proceeds from this historic tour will be donated to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, which offers medical treatment to children with cancer, despite their financial status.

CMA Music Festival Breaks Records

Following the recent crippling floods in downtown Nashville, country music fans helped the city get back on its feet by pouring into Music City for the 2010 CMA Music Festival June 10-13. The annual event, which was formerly known as Country Music Fan Fair, drew a record attendance, despite the record high temperatures. All of the evening concerts held at LP Field sold out for the first time ever, thanks to performances by Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum and Brad Paisley, just to name a few. Attendance for the paid evening concerts was up 16.7 percent from last year, and attendance for the free daytime concerts held at nearby Riverfront Park was up 6.4 percent from last year. There were an estimated 65,000 fans attending the country extravaganza each day. While in town, fans were treated to numerous hours of live music, intimate fan club parties with some of their favorite stars, and a chance to stand in line to meet their musical heroes, get an autograph and have their photo taken with the stars. Taylor Swift alone spent an amazing 15 hours meeting and greeting fans, fulfilling fans' dreams throughout the course of the day.

If you were not fortunate enough to travel to Nashville for last month's activities, never fear as you'll have a front-row seat for the action when ABC airs a three-hour special, titled CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock, hosted by Tim McGraw, on September 1.

Jimmy Dean Dies at 81

"Big Bad John" crooner and sausage entrepreneur Jimmy Dean died at his home in Varina, Virginia on June 13. The eighty-year-old was looking forward to his formal induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame (along with fellow recipient Don Williams) during a ceremony scheduled for October 24. Dean, born August 10, 1928 in Olton, Texas, began performing in clubs while serving in the U.S. Air Force in Washington, D.C. He expanded the popularity of country music via television by hosting the three-hour television show Town and Country Time while in D.C. and went on to host the morning variety show, The Morning Show, on CBS. After moving to Nashville and writing and recording his signature tune, the #1 country and pop Grammy-winning "Big Bad John," he went on to host The Jimmy Dean Show on ABC from 1963-1966. He was also the first guest host of the popular The Tonight Show.

During his heyday as a country entertainer, Dean bought a hog farm operation in Texas and renamed it the Jimmy Dean Meat Company. Jimmy Dean sausage remains a popular breakfast staple to this day. Dean sold the company to the Sara Lee Corporation in 1984 but remained the company's spokesperson for many more years.

Dean was eulogized at Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia on June 21. His body was laid to rest in a $350,000 piano-shaped granite mausoleum he had purchased many years ago. The tomb is on his property in Varina near the banks of the James River. The mausoleum will be inscribed with the following lyrics from "Big Bad John": "Here lies one hell of a man."

Our deepest sympathy goes out to Dean's widow, Donna Meade Dean, and his family!

Louisville's Goin' Country

Thanks in part to The Judds' recent concert announcement, Louisville's concert calendar is bustin' at the seams with some good ole country music. Fourth Street Live! is once again offering their "Hot Country Nights" free concert series this summer with some must-see shows. On July 2, hot country duo Steel Magnolia will hit Fourth Street, followed by Josh Gracin and Mark Wills, July 9; Jason Jones and Dirt Drifters, July 16; Edgewood, July 23; Colt Ford, July 30; Fast Ryde, August 6; Emily West, August 13; Randy Houser, August 20 and Troy Olsen, Randy Montana, and Chris Jansen on August 27.

To celebrate our nation's Independence Day, John Rich, of Big & Rich fame, will headline the 2010 Waterfront Independence Festival at Louisville's downtown Waterfront Park on July 3. Rich will perform a free concert along with hick-hop rapper Cowboy Troy, newcomer Tyler Dickerson, and the 202nd Army Band of the Kentucky National Guard, which will open the evening with patriotic music. Fireworks will follow Rich's performance.

One of the most anticipated music events of the year is HullabaLOU, the brand new three-day music festival to be held at historic Churchill Downs July 23-25. Country fans can catch J.D. Shelburne, Exile, Gloriana, and Dierks Bentley performing on July 23, Sara Evans, Jason Aldean, and Kenny Chesney on July 24 and Justin Moore, Loretta Lynn, Dwight Yoakam and the Zac Brown Band on July 25. Check out www.hullabaloufest.com for all the details.

Elizabeth, Indiana's Horseshoe Casino's Outdoor Summer Concert Series will feature country's very own oil rigger, Trace Adkins, on July 16. Tickets can be purchased by called 1-888-ROMAN-4-U. Bardstown's My Old Kentucky Home will also play host to a couple country concerts this summer. Chuck Wicks will perform at the J. Dan Talbott Amphitheatre on August 14 and 2009 America's Got Talent winner, Mayfield, Kentucky's chicken catcher Kevin Skinner will perform on September 4. For ticket information, call (502) 348-5971.

I hate to report that since last month's issue, it was announced that Lady Antebellum will perform at the Louisville Palace on October 18, tickets went on sale AND tickets sold out. If you weren't fortunate enough to snatch a pair of tickets to the trio's show, it's doubtful you'll have to wait too terribly long before they return headlining an even larger venue as their popularity continues to skyrocket!

And last, but certainly not least, we can ALWAYS count on the Kentucky State Fair board and our friends at Triangle Talent to bring some of the biggest names in country music to the state fair. The paid concerts at this year's fair include Sugarland, the recently announced Tim McGraw, and Rascal Flatts. Sugarland will open the fair on Thursday, August 19 along with Little Big Town. Tickets are $33 and $48. Tim McGraw and Nicholasville, Kentucky's own rowdy boys, Montgomery Gentry, will perform in Freedom Hall on Saturday, August 21. Tickets are $64 and $74. Rascal Flatts will close out the fair on Sunday, August 29 along with Kellie Pickler and Chris Young. Tickets for this show are $48 and $69. All fair tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com, or by calling (800) 745-3000.

Randy Owen Recovering from Cancer

Randy Owen, who commanded the helm for country supergroup Alabama, has been a huge supporter of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and helped raise millions of dollars for cancer research throughout the years. Ironically enough, Owen announced to fans at his June 13 fan club party in Fort Wayne, Alabama that he had his own cancer scare earlier this year. Following a routine checkup, it was discovered that he was suffering with prostate cancer, for which he underwent an ultrasound procedure to treat the disease. To complete his recovery, Owen plans to take some time off from the road this summer and resume touring in September.

Dr. Ronald Wheeler says Owen's treatment was successful and his recovery is nearly complete. "Randy did everything right by having his PSA [prostate specific antigen] checked regularly … and educating himself about his treatment options. He has set an example all men should follow to beat prostate cancer and live an excellent quality of life."

Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Randy!

Underwood Tops CMT Music Awards

When the 2010 CMT Music Awards were handed out last month at downtown Nashville's Bridgestone Arena, Carrie Underwood was the big winner as she captured the pièce de résistance, the Video of the Year buckle trophy for "Cowboy Casanova," as well as the CMT Performance of the Year Video award for her live version of "Temporary Home" from her CMT special Invitation Only. Fans watching the award ceremony's live telecast even got a quick peek at Underwood's fiancé, hockey player Mike Fisher, as the two shared an on-camera kiss following the announcement of her Video of the Year win.

And the winners are: Video of the Year: Carrie Underwood's "Cowboy Casanova"; Female Video of the Year: Miranda Lambert's "White Liar"; Male Video of the Year: Keith Urban's "'Til Summer Comes Around"; Duo Video of the Year: Brooks & Dunn's "Indian Summer"; and Group Video of the Year: Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now."

CMT Performance of the Year Video: Carrie Underwood's "Temporary Home"; Collaborative Video of the Year: Blake Shelton & Trace Adkins' "Hillbilly Bone"; USA Weekend Breakthrough Video of the Year: Luke Bryan's "Do I"; Nationwide Insurance On Your Side Award: Chris Young; and Video Director of the Year: Shaun Silva.

Although many balked at the idea of rocker/rapper Kid Rock hosting this awards show, he turned in an admirable job at hosting duties, closing the evening with this sentimental speech: "I'd like to thank the people in Nashville and all the country stars that have welcomed me into their home. They've shown me a lot of love. I hope they feel the love back that I have for each and every one of you. I really enjoy being down here and being part of your scene. To all the people that are watching around the world, I hope you come on down to Nashville. This is an incredible town, a city with amazing music [and] amazing people."

Congratulations to all the winners!

Well, that's it for this month. Here's hoping you have a fun and safe 4th of July, boys and girls. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, ‘cause country music is comin' your way."