Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Kentucky State Fair Goin' COUNTRY!

Well, the calendar says it's August, which means one thing: it's State Fair time! That's right, the 2012 Kentucky State Fair will be held at the Kentucky Exposition Center from August 16-26. As always, the Fair will offer an abundance of live music and will once again be overflowing with country music. "Bocephus" himself, Hank Williams, Jr. will kick the Fair off on Thursday, August 16 along with rocker George Thorogood & The Destroyers. Tickets for this show are $39 and $49. "The American Band Tour," starring Rascal Flatts, Little Big Town, Eli Young Band, and Edens Edge, will roll into the Fair on Saturday, August 18. Tickets for this show are $49 and $60. Closing out the 2012 Fair will be The Band Perry, along with NEEDTOBREATHE, on Sunday, August 26. Tickets for this show are a mere $35 and $45.

In addition to these three paid country concerts, there will be a whole herd of FREE country concerts held in the old Cardinal Stadium. The Oak Ridge Boys will bring along former Statler Brother Jimmy Fortune for their annual Fair show on Sunday, August 19. Tuesday, August 21 will feature some classic country music by the legendary Ronnie Milsap and BJ Thomas. Jake Owen will rock the stadium on Wednesday, August 22, and Justin Moore and Colt Ford will close out the free concerts on Saturday, August 25.

For ticket details and general Fair information, visit kystateFair.org.

Indiana State Fair to Pay Tribute to Stage Collapse Victims

As you'll remember, moments prior to Sugarland's scheduled performance at the Indiana State Fair last year, a vicious storm blew through Indianapolis, toppling the stage rigging in the Fairground's grandstand, killing seven fans and staff and injuring dozens. At 8:46 PM on August 13, the Indiana State Fair and Fairgoers will commemorate a moment of silence marking the one-year anniversary of the deadly collapse. All amusement rides, games, and concession stands will come to a complete stop to honor the victims. Fairgoers will be advised of the planned moment of silence via loudspeakers throughout the day.

Last year's Fair tragedy has caused the Fair board to develop and adopt a 425-page emergency management plan to prevent similar tragedies. All Fair employees also will be required to pass a safety training program test prior to being allowed to work onsite. This fall, the coliseum will begin undergoing a $71 million upgrade, which will cause the facility to be out of commission until the 2014 State Fair. As a result, this year's Fair headlining concerts will be held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, including Blake Shelton, Sunny Sweeney, and Caroline Kole on Friday, August 17. Tickets for this show are $40 and $75. The Fair will also offer several free country concerts on-site at the Fairgrounds on the Dow AgroSciences Celebration Park Free Stage: Gregg Bates and Tyler Farr on August 7, Easton Corbin on August 8, Thomas Rhett on August 15, and Casey James on August 18.

For Blake Shelton ticket details and general Fair information, visit www.in.gov/stateFair/Fair.

" Queen of Country Music" Dies

The "Queen of Country Music," Country Music Hall of Famer Kitty Wells, passed away at her home in Madison, Tennessee on July 16. The 92-year-old music pioneer died peacefully surrounded by her family — she died of complications from a recent stroke. Wells was born Ellen Muriel Deason on August 20,1919 and performed along with two sisters and a cousin as the Deason Sisters on Nashville radio station WSIX during the Great Depression. At the ripe old age of 18, she married aspiring country singer Johnnie Wright, with whom she enjoyed marital bliss for nearly three-quarters of a century, until Wright's death on September 27, 2011.

In May 1952, Deason, who had changed her performance name to Kitty Wells in the mid-1940's, recorded an answer to Hank Thompson's "The Wild Side of Life," the #1 single titled "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels." Although the song was banned on NBC and from the live performance of the Grand Ole Opry, which was affiliated with NBC, the song sold a whopping 800,000 copies, making her the one-and-only "Queen of Country Music," paving the way for future country females like Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, and Tammy Wynette. Wells went on to become the first country female concert headlining act with the help of hits like "Release Me," "Making Believe," "Mommy for a Day," and "Heartbreak USA."

Wells was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1976, became the first country female to receive the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991, and she and Wright performed their farewell concert on January 31, 2000.

Wells is survived by daughter Carol Sue and son Bobby, as well as numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. Daughter Ruby passed away in 2009 at the age of 69.

Farm Aid Heading to Hershey

Back in 1985, the "Red-Headed Stranger," country legend Willie Nelson, hosted the very first Farm Aid concert, hoping to help "build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America." Over the last 27 years, Farm Aid has raised more than $40 million. Nelson, who serves as Farm Aid President, will host this year's benefit concert on September 22 at Hershey, Pennsylvania's Hersheypark Stadium along with board members John Mellencamp, Neil Young, and Dave Matthews. Other artists scheduled to perform include ALO, Jack Johnson, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, and Pegi Young & The Survivors.

When speaking of Farm Aid, Nelson recently stated, "We've built a strong family farm movement to grow our economy, ensure our health and protect our environment. Farm Aid brings these Main Street values to transform the Wall Street-controlled farm and food system. The Farm Aid concert is our chance to shine a spotlight on the independent family farmers who are essential to the well-being of our country."

For ticket information and more details, visit www.farmaid.org.

Taylor Swift Rolling in the Dough

With multiple record-breaking CDs, live concert DVDs and sold-out concert tours under her belt, 22-year-old singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is officially rolling in the dough as the richest entertainer under the age of 30. Earning an amazing $57 million between May 2011 and May 2012, Swift recently topped Forbes magazine's list of Highest Paid Celebrities Under 30, in addition to ranking #11 on the magazine's recent list of 100 Most Influential Entertainers. She beat out 18-year-old Justin Beiber, who landed at #2 with $55 million, 24-year-old Rihanna at #3 with $53 million, 26-year-old Lady Gaga at #4 with $52 million, and 27-year-old Katy Perry at #5 with $45 million.

Country Family Album

Forty-eight-year-old Ashland, Kentucky native Wynonna Judd recently heard wedding bells when she took her third trip down the aisle on June 10. The singer wed 55-year-old Cactus Moser, a founding member of country band Highway 101 and current member of Judd's band, The Big Noise, during an intimate ceremony at her Leiper's Fork, Tennessee farm. Judd's children, Elijah and Grace, were present for the exchange of vows, but her famous mother and former duet partner, Naomi Judd, and her movie star sister, Ashley Judd, were not invited. She recently told Us Weekly magazine, "We [Wynonna, Naomi, and Ashley] just don't have a lot of contact right now, if any, because we're all doing our own thing. If I know Ashley, she would have re-positioned my dress, or Mom would have given me a Kleenex to stuff in my bra, or told me I have something in my teeth. I just didn't want that, I just wanted to get married!"

There's a real baby boom in country music right now. "Barefoot Blue Jean Night" singer Jake Owen and his lovely bride, Lacey, recently announced that they are expecting their first child, a daughter, in November. The couple was married in a surprise sunrise beach ceremony on May 7, but say, "The way we saw it, the baby news was a bonus on top of the engagement, but we didn't want anyone to think we were getting married because Lacey was pregnant, and we wanted to celebrate our wedding first. We didn't want to go public with it until we found out if it was a boy or girl. The pregnancy was just something we wanted to keep for ourselves for a little while."

The Dixie Chicks and Court Yard Hounds nests are about to grow again. Chicks and Hounds member Emily Robison is expecting her fourth child, her first with boyfriend Martin Strayer, early next month. Robison has a nine-year-old son, Charles Augustus, and seven-year-old twins, Juliana Tex and Henry Benjamin, with ex-husband Charlie Robison.

The Civil Wars' Joy Williams and husband Nate Yetton became first-time parents recently when son Miles Alexander was born on June 30 in Nashville. Williams makes up The Civil Wars with John Paul White and are known for hits "Barton Hollow," "Poison and Wine," and "Safe & Sound," a tune they recorded with Taylor Swift for The Hunger Games soundtrack.

Country Codas

In addition to Kitty Wells, there have been several recent deaths in the country music community. America lost its favorite sheriff on July 3 when Sheriff Andy Taylor, the alter ego of actor Andy Griffith, died at the age of 86 at his home in Dare County, North Carolina. On his The Andy Griffith Show, the actor/singer introduced Bluegrass musicians the Darling Family as the Dillards to fans in TV-land. Griffith appeared in Brad Paisley's "Waitin' on a Woman" music video, which was named the 2008 CMA Music Video of the Year.

Seventy-three-year-old songwriter and painter Susanna Clark, wife of songwriter Guy Clark, passed away in her sleep at the couple's Nashville home after a long illness on June 28 or 29. She wrote hits like Kathy Mattea's "Come From the Heart" and Carlene Carter's "Easy From Now On." Her paintings also graced the covers of country albums like Willie Nelson's 1978 Stardust and Emmylou Harris's 1978 Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town.

Donna Hilley, the former chief operation officer, CEO, and vice president of Tree Music Publishing Company, passed away June 20 at the age of 65. During her career, Hilley also served on the boards for the Music Publishers Association of the United States, the Country Music Association, and ASCAP.

Well, that's it for this month. Here's hoping that everyone has a great time at the State Fair, and hopefully I'll see you at all the country concerts. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, 'cause country music is comin' your way."