Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like a Country Christmas

Now that it's December, it's time to "deck the halls with boughs of holly" as you're spinning some classic Christmas tunes. This year, there is a trio of brand-new, high-profile country Christmas CDs to choose from. Blake Shelton released his first-ever (and what he plans to be his one-and-only) holiday record, Cheers, It's Christmas, back in October. The disc includes vocal appearances by Shelton's lovely bride, Miranda Lambert, his mother, Dorothy Shackleford, Reba McEntire, Michael Bublé, Kelly Clarkson, Xenia and the Pistol Annies. In honor of this CD, NBC will air Shelton's holiday special, Not So Family Christmas, on December 3 the show will feature Lambert, Shackleford, McEntire, and Clarkson performing alongside Shelton.

Lady Antebellum is offering its fans a second Christmas album this season, On This Winter's Night. If you have not yet seen the video for the album's first release, "A Holly Jolly Christmas," check it out online as you'll be in for a treat. Charles, Hillary, and Dave will perform music from this album during a special holiday concert at Nashville's Schermerhorn Symphony Center on December 3 the concert will be filmed and will air on GAC on December 5.

American Idol winner Scotty McCreery has released his first holiday offering, titled Christmas with Scotty McCreery, and he'll perform some of the songs included on this album during his Christmas special, Christmas with Scotty McCreery & Friends. The college freshman will be joined by Gloriana, Brett Eldredge, and Jana Kramer on the special which will air on GAC on December 1.

On November 3, two nights after the Country Music Association awards program, Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles once again hosted and performed during the taping of CMA Country Christmas. This two-hour special will debut on ABC-Television on Thursday, December 20 and will be rerun on Saturday and Sunday, December 22 and 23. The special will feature performances by The Band Perry, Dierks Bentley, Colbie Caillat, Katherine Jenkins, Lady Antebellum, John Legend, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Scotty McCreery, and Keith Urban.

American Country Awards

The fan-voted 2012 American Country Awards will be handed out at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on Monday, December 10 and will air live on FOX-Television. Trace Adkins and actress Kristin Chenoweth will return as hosts of this second annual ceremony. Luke Bryan tops the list of nominees with a whopping seven nods, including Artist of the Year, Artist of the Year: Male, Album of the Year for Tailgates & Tanlines, Single of the Year, Single of the Year: Male, Music Video of the Year, and Music Video of the Year: Male for "I Don't Want This Night to End." Lady Antebellum and Zac Brown Band follow closely behind with six nominations each.

And the nominees are: Artist of the Year: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, and Zac Brown Band; Artist of the Year: Female: Sara Evans, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Taylor Swift, and Carrie Underwood; Artist of the Year: Male: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, and Toby Keith; Artist of the Year: Group: The Band Perry, Eli Young Band, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, and Zac Brown Band; Artist of the Year: New Artist: Lauren Alaina, Hunter Hayes, Jana Kramer, Kip Moore, and Pistol Annies; Artist of the Year: Breakthrough Artist: Lee Brice, Colt Ford, Gloriana, Justin Moore, and Jake Owen; Song of the Year: Jason Aldean's "Fly Over States," Toby Keith's "Red Solo Cup," Eric Church's "Springsteen," Jason Aldean's "Tattoos On This Town," and Lee Brice's "A Woman Like You"; and Album of the Year: Eric Church's Chief, Dierks Bentley's Home, Lady Antebellum's Own the Night, Blake Shelton's Red River Blue, and Luke Bryan's Tailgates & Tanlines.

Single of the Year: Eric Church's "Drink in My Hand," Luke Bryan's "I Don't Want This Night to End," Zac Brown Band's "Keep Me in Mind," Jason Aldean's "Tattoos on This Town," and Chris Young's "You"; Single of the Year: Female: Carrie Underwood's "Good Girl," Martina McBride's "I'm Gonna Love You Through It," Sara Evans' "My Heart Can't Tell You No," Taylor Swift's "Ours," and Miranda Lambert's "Over You"; Single of the Year: Male: Eric Church's "Drink in My Hand," Luke Bryan's "I Don't Want This Night to End," Kenny Chesney's "Reality," Jason Aldean's "Tattoos on This Town," and Chris Young's "You"; Single of the Year: Group: The Band Perry's "All Your Life," "Rascal Flatts' "Banjo," Eli Young Band's "Even If It Breaks Your Heart," Zac Brown Band's "Keep Me In Mind," and Lady Antebellum's "We Owned the Night"; Single of the Year: New Artist: Dustin Lynch's "Cowboys and Angels," The Farm's "Home Sweet Home," Kip Moore's "Somethin' 'Bout a Truck," Hunter Hayes' "Wanted," and Jana Kramer's "Why Ya Wanna"; Single of the Year: Breakthrough Artist: Jake Owen's "Alone With You," Gloriana's "(Kissed You) Good Night," David Nail's "Let It Rain," Lee Brice's "A Woman Like You," and Brantley Gilbert's "You Don't Know Her Like I Do"; and Single of the Year: Vocal Collaboration: Rascal Flatts & Natasha Bedingfield's "Easy," Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw's "Feel Like a Rock Star," Zac Brown Band & Jimmy Buffett's "Knee Deep," Kix Brooks & Joe Walsh's "New to This Town," and Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood's "Remind Me."

Music Video of the Year: Jake Owen's "Alone With You," Keith Urban's "For You," Blake Shelton's "God Gave Me You," Luke Bryan's "I Don't Want This Night to End," and Chris Young's "You"; Music Video of the Year: Female: Carrie Underwood's "Good Girl," Martina McBride's "I'm Gonna Love You Through It," Sara Evans' "My Heart Can't Tell You No," Taylor Swift's "Ours," and Miranda Lambert's "Over You"; Music Video of the Year: Male: Jake Owen's "Alone With You," Keith Urban's "For You," Blake Shelton's "God Gave Me You," Luke Bryan's "I Don't Want This Night to End," and Chris Young's "You"; Music Video of the Year: Group or Collaboration: The Band Perry's "All Your Life," Love and Theft's "Angel Eyes," Lady Antebellum's "Dancin' Away with My Heart," Gloriana's "(Kissed You) Good Night," and Little Big Town's "Pontoon"; Music Video of the Year: New Artist: Dustin Lynch's "Cowboys and Angels," Casey James' "Let's Don't Call It a Night," Kip Moore's "Somethin' 'Bout a Truck," Hunter Hayes' "Wanted," and Jana Kramer's "Why Ya Wanna"; and Touring Artist of the Year: Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw, Eric Church, Toby Keith, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Taylor Swift, and Zac Brown Band.

Be sure to tune into the ACA's to see who wins and to see performances by Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Kip Moore, Jake Owen, and Rascal Flatts.

The Sheltons Top the CMA Awards

When the 46th Annual Country Music Association Awards were handed out in Nashville on November 1, the evening belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Shelton Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert. Shelton took home the most coveted award, Entertainer of the Year, and was named Male Vocalist of the Year for the third consecutive year. Lambert was named Female Vocalist of the Year for the third consecutive year as well. In addition, the couple shared the Song of the Year award for having co-written Lambert's "Over You," a deeply personal song about Shelton's late brother, Richie. The couple stole the hearts of country fans around the globe during their emotional acceptance for this award.

Little Big Town has been riding a much-deserved wave of success thanks to their smash summer anthem, "Pontoon," and the quartet captured its first ever CMA awards for Vocal Group of the Year and Single of the Year. Although he was the top nominee with five nods, Eric Church walked away with just one trophy, his first-ever CMA award, for Album of the Year for Chief. The legendary "Red-headed Stranger," Willie Nelson, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award named in his honor.

And the winners are: Entertainer of the Year: Blake Shelton; Female Vocalist of the Year: Miranda Lambert; Male Vocalist of the Year: Blake Shelton; Vocal Duo of the Year: Thompson Square; Vocal Group of the Year: Little Big Town; New Artist of the Year: Hunter Hayes; Single of the Year: Little Big Town's "Pontoon"; Song of the Year: Miranda Lambert's "Over You," written by Lambert and Blake Shelton; Album of the Year: Eric Church's Chief; Music Video of the Year: Toby Keith's "Red Solo Cup"; Musical Event of the Year: Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw's "Feel Like a Rock Star"; and Musician of the Year: Mac McAnally guitar.

Other Country Honors

Country music was well represented when the 40th Anniversary American Music Awards were handed out in Los Angeles last month. Taylor Swift was named Favorite Female Artist Country, Luke Bryan was named Favorite Male Artist Country, Lady Antebellum was named Favorite Band, Duo, or Group Country, and Carrie Underwood's Blown Away was named Favorite Album Country.

Lady Antebellum, Kenny Chesney, and Tim McGraw made country music very proud last month when the 2012 Billboard Touring Awards were handed out in New York City. Lady A picked up the Breakthrough Award (which goes to the highest grossing touring artist who "cracks Billboard's Boxscore recap for the first time in their careers based on ticket sales and other touring data") for their "Own the Night World Tour." If you didn't have a chance to see this tour in person, you're in luck as the trio will release a live concert DVD of the tour on December 4. In addition to Lady A's win, Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw's "Brothers of the Sun Tour" won the Top Package award, Chesney was named Road Warrior, and McGraw and Pennzoil won the Concert Marketing & Promotion award.

Upcoming Live Country Music

When you're making out your Christmas wish list, there is a plethora of upcoming country concerts for which you can ask tickets. Tickets for "The Possum," George Jones, will have to be an early Christmas gift as he his heading to Southern Indiana this month for his last scheduled concert in the area. Jones' farewell tour, aptly titled "The Grand Tour," will stop off at Horseshoe Southern Indiana in Elizabeth on December 1. The legend's final concert is scheduled for Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on November 22, 2013, with special guest Tanya Tucker.

The Zac Brown Band will perform its first concert in the new year right here in the Derby city. ZBB will perform at the KFC Yum! Center on Thursday, January 10 and will offer the ever-so-popular "Eat & Greet" prior to the show. For more information, check out the band's website at www.zacbrownband.com. Tickets are currently available via Ticketmaster and range from $32.00 - $61.00.

Luke Bryan will roll into town on Friday, February 22 with his first headlining "Dirt Road Diaries Tour" at the KFC Yum! Center. He'll bring along Thompson Square and Florida Georgia Line as opening acts. As of press time, ticket information had not yet been released.

Taylor Swift released her highly-anticipated fourth CD, Red, back in October and sold more than 1.2 million copies in the first week of its release, and now she's taking her new music on the road for the fans. She will kick off "The Red Tour" in Omaha, Nebraska on March 13 and local fans will have a couple chances to catch her live show. She and opening act Ed Sheeran will be in Lexington on April 27 and will be at the KFC Yum! Center on Tuesday, May 7. Be on the lookout for ticket information in the upcoming weeks as these tickets are sure to sell out fast once they go on sale.

Country Family Album

Eric Gunderson and Stephen Barker Liles, who make up the duo Love and Theft, have had a memorable year this year as they topped the charts with "Angel Eyes," but Gunderson is gearing up for another memorable year next year. He and his wife, Emily Hagar, recently announced that they are expecting their first child on May 18. Gunderson says, "I'm pretty excited. I've wanted to be a father forever, and now I feel like we're in a place in our career where it won't be the most nerve-wracking thing ever. I feel like I can support a family now. It will be good. We're really excited."

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Country Music Hall of Famer Ray Price as he is battling pancreatic cancer. The "Crazy Arms" and "For the Good Times" crooner was diagnosed while having his gall bladder removed and has already endured six months of chemotherapy. Although his touring schedule has slowed down as a result, the 86-year-old plans to begin recording a new album soon.

Famed songwriter Jan Crutchfield, best known for writing Jack Greene's #1 hit "Statue of a Fool," passed away November 1 at Nashville's St. Thomas Hospital. The 74-year-old will forever be known for writing hits like Faron Young's "This Little Girl of Mine," Charley Pride's "Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger," Ferlin Husky's "Sweet Misery," and Lee Greenwood's "Going, Going, Gone."

Well, that's it for this month. I'd like to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you the happiest and healthiest of holidays. If you are in a position to help, please remember the less fortunate this holiday season. And if you'd like a glimpse of my family's crazy Christmas card tradition, "Like" our Facebook page at Facebook.com/StoutsChristmasCard to be eligible to win one of many daily prizes throughout this month. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, 'cause country music is comin' your way."