Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Eddie Montgomery Battling Cancer & Divorce

Kentucky boy Eddie Montgomery, who makes up country duo Montgomery Gentry with pal Troy Gentry, has had a rough patch of bad luck lately. On November 18, he announced that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent surgery in mid-December, following the duo’s final show of the year in Charlotte, North Carolina on December 4. MG’s publicist confirms that Montgomery’s surgery was successful and no further treatment should be needed. In a statement, Montgomery promised, “I will be back in January ready to rock for all the fans. Please keep my family and [me] in your prayers.”

Now, if the cancer diagnosis wasn’t enough, twelve days after his cancer announcement, Montgomery was enjoying dinner with one of his children at his Eddie Montgomery Steakhouse in Harrodsburg, Kentucky when he was served with divorce papers from his wife, Tracy Montgomery, to whom he has been married for over twenty years. Soon after being served the papers, Montgomery Tweeted that he blamed his wife’s decision on her inability to cope with his recent diagnosis. As a rebuttal, Tracy Montgomery told a Lexington news station, “Despite what is being said, Eddie’s cancer had absolutely nothing to do with my decision. It’s what the public doesn’t know that finalized an extremely difficult decision that I was forced to make. I’d like to thank everyone for their kind words and support during this most traumatic time in our lives. For the sake of my children, I prefer to handle things from here on out in a private manner.”

Our prayers and best wishes go out to Eddie and his family during these difficult times.

The Judds’ “Last Encore Tour”

Ashland, Kentucky natives Naomi and Wynonna Judd, better known simply as The Judds, brought their “Last Encore Tour” to the KFC Yum! Center on December 3, offering fans nearly two-and-a-half hours of musical and video nostalgia from their illustrious career. As the pair kicked off the show with classics “Had a Dream,” “Girls Night Out,” “Love Is Alive,” and “Rockin’ With the Rhythm of the Rain,” daughter Wynonna seemed to be keeping her vocal prowess to a minimum as mother Naomi seemed to be offering emotional harmony, possibly due to the fact that this would likely be the last time the pair perform together in their home state. After warming up on ten classic Judd hits, Wynonna really began to soar and her voice was in tip-top shape on solo hits like “No One Else on Earth,” “Only Love,” and “She Is His Only Need.”

Following an intermission, Wynonna kicked the second half of the show off in brilliant form, belting out rousing spiritual numbers “How Great Thou Art” and the Jesse Winchester-penned “Let’s Make a Baby King,” backed by the Palmetto State Quartet, which features Naomi’s husband, Larry Strickland, singing bass. Mama Judd returned to help take fans further down memory lane with tender Judd favorites “Mama He’s Crazy,” “Why Not Me,” “Love Can Build a Bridge,” and “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days).” As a holiday encore, Wynonna offered a spine-chilling rendition of “Ave Maria,” followed by “It’s the Messiah” and “Silent Night.”

The “Last Encore Tour” was a treat for Judds fans to flip through their favorite duo’s musical scrapbook, but, unfortunately, the magic of The Judds’ heyday has waned since they first hit the country music scene a quarter of a century ago. Wynonna’s voice has grown by leaps and bounds since the simplistic style of early music with her mother, and it doesn’t seem as if she necessarily enjoys the musical restriction put on her by her mother's vocal harmony, flirting around the stage in frilly outfits. This highly anticipated tour was definitely entertaining, but The Judds should stick to the name of their tour and truly make this their last encore, allowing fans to cherish the many memories they’ve made with country music’s favorite redheaded mother-daughter duo throughout the years.

Upcoming Live Country Music

Although the temperatures have been dipping pretty low here in the Derby City, this winter is going to heat up with some scorcher concerts on the horizon. On Friday, January 28, Butcher Holler, Kentucky’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter” herself, the legendary Loretta Lynn, will be performing hits from her 50-year career at the Palace Theatre, along with openers Joey + Rory. On Friday, February 11, rap and country outlaws Kid Rock and Jamey Johnson will bring their rowdy friends to the KFC Yum! Center. The following week, on February 19, Brad Paisley’s “H2O Frozen Over Tour,” featuring Darius Rucker and Jerrod Niemann, will turn the new arena into a huge country party during this must-see show. On March 4, the legendary Merle Haggard, who was honored at the Kennedy Center Honors by our President and First Lady last month, will perform at Horseshoe Casino in Elizabeth, Indiana.

On April 9, the KFC Yum! Center will once again be packed by country fans to hear legends Reba McEntire and George Strait, along with traditionalist Lee Ann Womack, as the “George Strait & Reba Twang Tour” wraps up right here in Louisville. And country and pop fans alike will be glad to know that Taylor Swift just recently announced her “Speak Now World Tour,” which will roll into the arena on July 2.

Taylor Swift & Lady Antebellum Make Huge Mark in 2010

Twenty-one-year-old Taylor Swift had another record year in 2010. When Billboard magazine released its list of the year’s top artists, Swift landed at number two, following behind Lady Gaga. With the help of her new album, Speak Now, numerous award wins, and her acting debut in Valentine’s Day, the blonde bombshell was named Entertainment Weekly magazine’s Entertainer of the Year. On November 21, Swift was also named Favorite Country Female Artist by the American Music Awards.

Twenty-ten was also a banner year for Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and Dave Haywood, better known as hit trio Lady Antebellum. Billboard magazine ranked Lady A the fourth top artist of the year and its Need You Now album was the top-selling country album and the third top-selling album across all genres of music. The American Music Awards also named Lady A the Favorite Country Band, Duo, or Group.

In addition to Swift and Lady A’s AMA wins, Brad Paisley was named Favorite Country Male Artist and Carrie Underwood’s Play On was named Favorite Country Album.

Lady Antebellum Tops Grammy Nominations

When the nominations for the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards were announced last month, Lady Antebellum topped the list of country nominees with six nods. The trio will vie for Country Performance by a Duo or Group, Country Song, Country Album, Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year, the latter three categories for all genres of music. Miranda Lambert garnered five nominations, followed by The Zac Brown Band with four nods.

And the nominees are: Best Female Country Vocal Performance: Jewel’s “Satisfied,” Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me,” LeAnn Rimes’ “Swingin’,” Carrie Underwood’s “Temporary Home,” and Gretchen Wilson’s “I’d Love to Be Your Last”; Best Male Country Vocal Performance: Jamey Johnson’s “Macon,” Toby Keith’s “Cryin’ for Me (Wayman’s Song),” David Nail’s “Turning Home,” Keith Urban’s “’Til Summer Comes Around,” and Chris Young’s “Gettin’ You Home”; and Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: Zac Brown Band’s “Free,” Dailey & Vincent’s “Elizabeth,” Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now,” Little Big Town’s “Little White Church,” and the SteelDrivers’ “Where Rainbows Never Die.”

Best Country Collaboration with Vocals: Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert & Jamey Johnson’s “Bad Angel,” Dierks Bentley, Del McCoury & the Punch Brothers’ “Pride (In the Name of Love),” Zac Brown Band & Alan Jackson’s “As She’s Walking Away,” Blake Shelton & Trace Adkins’ “Hillbilly Bone,” and Marty Stuart & Connie Smith’s “I Run to You”; Best Country Song: George Strait’s “The Breath You Take,” Zac Brown Band’s “Free,” Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me,” Gretchen Wilson’s “I’d Love to Be Your Last,” The Band Perry’s “If I Die Young,” and Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now”; Best Country Album: Dierks Bentley’s Up On the Ridge, Zac Brown Band’s You Get What You Give, Jamey Johnson’s The Guitar Song, Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now, and Miranda Lambert’s Revolution; and Best Country Instrumental Performance: Cherryholmes’ “Tattoo of a Smudge,” the Infamous Stringdusters’ “Magic #9,” the Punch Brothers’ “New Chance Blues,” Darrell Scott’s “Willow Creek,” and Marty Stuart’s “Hummingbyrd.”

Album of the Year: Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, Eminem’s Recovery, Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now, Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster, and Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream; Record of the Year: B.o.B & Bruno Mars’ “Nothin’ on You,” Eminem & Rihanna’s “Love the Way You Lie,” Cee Lo Green’s “F*** You,” Jay-Z & Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind,” and Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now”; and Song of the Year: “Beg Steal or Borrow,” “F*** You,” Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me,” “Love the Way You Lie,” and Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now.”

The Grammy Awards will be handed out in Los Angeles on February 13 and the awards ceremony will be broadcast live on CBS-Television.

Carrie Underwood Tops ACAs

When the first-ever fan-voted American Country Awards were handed out at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas last month, Carrie Underwood swept the ceremony with six awards. Underwood was named Artist of the Year, Female Artist of the Year, and Touring Headline Package of the Year, while her Play On was named Album of the Year and “Cowboy Casanova” was named Single of the Year: Female and Music Video of the Year: Female. Lady Antebellum followed Underwood with four wins.

And the winners are: Artist of the Year: Carrie Underwood; Artist of the Year: Female: Carrie Underwood; Artist of the Year: Male: Brad Paisley; Artist of the Year: Duo or Group: Lady Antebellum; Artist of the Year: Breakthrough Artist: Easton Corbin; Album of the Year: Carrie Underwood’s Play On; Single of the Year: Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now”; Single of the Year: Female: Carrie Underwood’s “Cowboy Casanova”; Single of the Year: Male: Josh Turner’s “Why Don’t We Just Dance”; Single of the Year: Duo or Group: Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now”; and Single of the Year: Breakthrough Artist: Easton Corbin’s “Little More Country Than That.”

Touring Headline Package of the Year: Carrie Underwood; Greatest Hits Award: Alan Jackson; Decade Award: Rascal Flatts; Video Visionary Award: Toby Keith; Music Video of the Year: Blake Shelton & Trace Adkins’ “Hillbilly Bone”; Music Video of the Year: Female: Carrie Underwood’s “Cowboy Casanova”; Music Video of the Year: Male: Blake Shelton & Trace Adkins’ “Hillbilly Bone”; Music Video of the Year: Duo or Group: Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now”; and Music Video of the Year: Breakthrough Artist: Easton Corbin’s “A Little More Country Than That.”

Congratulations to all the winners!

Well, that’s it for another month. Here’s wishing each of you the happiest of New Years. Always remember: “Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, ‘cause country music is comin’ your way.”