Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

4 th of July Going COUNTRY

Country fans will have the opportunity to celebrate Independence Day, or rather Independence Day Eve, rocking on the river as Keifer and Shawna Thompson, better known as country duo Thompson Square, are scheduled to headline the Fifth Third Bank Waterfront Independence Festival on July 3. The husband and wife duo will be sure to sing hits "Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not," "I Got You," and "Glass" during their free concert, leading up to fireworks over the Ohio River. Be sure to pack up the family and head down to the Great Lawn at Waterfront Park early because there will be food, vendors, and a free kids' area, in addition to The McClymonts and Ode 2 the Gnu opening for Thompson Square, who are scheduled to take the stage at 8:45 pm, and fireworks at 10 pm.

For more details, visit the festival website at www.waterfrontindependencefestival.com.

Carrie Underwood Tops the CMT Music Awards

Walking into last month's fan-voted 2012 CMT Music Awards ceremony, Carrie Underwood led the pack of nominees with a whopping five nods, and with two wins, she was the big winner walking out of the ceremony. She won the ultimate award, Video of the Year for "Good Girl," as well as the Collaborative Video of the Year "CMT belt buckle" award along with Brad Paisley for "Remind Me." Miranda Lambert took home the Female Video of the Year award for "Over You," while Luke Bryan's "I Don't Want This Night to End" was named Male Video of the Year. Lady Antebellum's "We Owned the Night" was named Group Video of the Year.

And the winners are: Video of the Year: Carrie Underwood's "Good Girl"; Female Video of the Year: Miranda Lambert's "Over You"; Male Video of the Year: Luke Bryan's "I Don't Want This Night To End"; Duo Video of the Year: Thompson Square's "I Got You"; and Group Video of the Year: Lady Antebellum's "We Owned the Night."

Collaborative Video of the Year: Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood's "Remind Me"; USA Weekend Breakthrough Video of the Year: Scotty McCreery's "The Trouble With Girls"; and CMT Performance of the Year: Jason Aldean's "Tattoos on This Town."

The awards ceremony, which was held in downtown Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on June 6, the night before the CMA Music Festival kicked off, was full of surprises and memorable music performances. Hosts Kristen Bell and Toby Keith entered the arena riding atop a much larger-than-life red Solo cup, exiting the cup to take the stage for a fun-filled evening. Highlights included the Pistol Annies' performance of "Takin' Pills"; Willie Nelson's "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die" with help from Jamey Johnson, Toby Keith, Darius Rucker, and Zac Brown; Hank Williams, Jr. and Brad Paisley singing "I'm Going to Get Drunk and Play Hank Williams All Night Long" on the outdoor stage; Little Big Town's summer anthem, "Pontoon"; and the show closer, Rascal Flatts and Journey's performance of "Banjo" and "Don't Stop Believin'."

Congratulations to all the winners!

Upcoming Live Country Music

Over the last month, we've had several announcements of upcoming country concerts. The complete list of the free shows to be held in the old Cardinal Stadium during the Kentucky State Fair has finally been revealed. 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. In addition to these free shows, the main stage paid fair concerts in Freedom Hall are: Hank Williams, Jr. and George Thorogood on Thursday, August 16; Rascal Flatts, Little Big Town, Eli Young Band, and Edens Edge on Saturday, August 18; and closing out the fair on Sunday, August 26 will be The Band Perry and NEEDTOBREATHE.

Riding high on his latest #1 single, "Springsteen," Eric Church will bring his "Blood, Sweat & Beers Tour" to the KFC Yum! Center on Sunday, October 14. Opening for Church will be Justin Moore and Kip Moore. Tickets are already on sale and cost $37.50, $42.50, and $47.50 and can be purchased in-person at the KFC Yum! Center, the Kentucky Exposition Center box office, the Kentucky International Convention Center ticket office, or all Ticketmaster outlets, by calling 1-800-745-3000, or online at www.ticketmaster.com.

A couple of other notable concerts include Kris Kristofferson, who will play the Iroquois Amphitheater on August 9, and George Jones, who will play at Horseshoe Southern Indiana in Elizabeth on December 1.

Scotty McCreery Graduates

Just a couple of years ago, Scotty McCreery was a grocery store clerk in Garner, North Carolina. Two summers ago, he tried out for a little television singing competition called American Idol, and in May 2011, his baritone voice and southern charm landed him the title of the season 10 "American Idol." Following his victory, he spent the summer on the "American Idols Live Tour," but come fall, the singing baseball player didn't abandon his high school career, but rather went right back to classes with his fellow seniors at Garner Magnet High School. The 18-year-old learned how to juggle classes with touring as he went on to be the opening act for Brad Paisley's "Virtual Reality Tour."

Well, last month, McCreery's hard work and persistence paid off as he graduated from high school on June 7. The night prior, he and some of his friends were in Nashville where he picked up a trophy at the CMT Music Awards when his "The Trouble With Girls" was named the USA Weekend Breakthrough Video of the Year. Following the awards ceremony, he and his friends flew back to North Carolina in time for graduation, and a few days later, he was back on the road with Paisley.

Now that McCreery is out of high school, does he plan to focus solely on his promising country music career? Nope —he feels the need for a back-up plan, so this fall he plans to attend North Carolina State University, but due to the demands of his music career, he doesn't plan to take a full college load of classes, but rather limit his schedule to probably just two days a week.

Congratulations on graduation and all your country music success, Scotty!

Tim McGraw Giving Homes to Veterans

Tim McGraw, Chase, and the non-profit Operation Homefront love and appreciate the sacrifices the men and women of our military make as they fight for our freedom, so much so that they are rewarding 25 veterans this summer. On every stop of his "Brothers of the Sun Tour" this summer with pal Kenny Chesney, McGraw will award a mortgage-free home to a veteran—a wounded warrior or a service member in need—along with additional financing from ACM Lifting Lives and The Premier Group, on behalf of the North Carolina Furniture Manufacturers.

When recently speaking about this commendable endeavor, McGraw stated, "My sister's a veteran of the first Gulf War. My uncle was a Vietnam veteran, and my grandfather was a World War II veteran. I've always felt a deep sense of respect and obligation to our troops. Being able to reward them for their dedicated work with a new home will be even more rewarding for us. It feels so good to give back to them."

Our hats are off to Tim and these financial backers for their support of the U.S. Military!

Country Family Album

Jennifer Nettles has been quite busy these days touring the country with Sugarland partner Kristian Bush on their "In the Hands of the Fans Tour 2012" and mentoring her two contestants on ABC's new singing competition show, Duets, but come late this year, she'll be busier than ever. She and husband Justin Miller announced last month that they are expecting their first child in November, around their first wedding anniversary (the two met when Miller appeared in Sugarland's video for "Want To" in 2006 and married in the Smoky Mountains on November 26, 2011). Upon announcing the happy news, Nettles said, "We feel so blessed to be expecting and so touched by all the support and excitement for our little 'love on the inside'! Thanks for all the well wishes!"

Angaleena Presley, who makes up country trio the Pistol Annies along with Ashley Monroe and Miranda Lambert, kept it in the Pistol Annies' family when she said "I do" recently. Presley married Jordan Powell, who just so happens to be Lambert's tour manager, in a private ceremony in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on May 22.

Our condolences go out to Dierks Bentley, who lost his father just weeks before Father's Day. Eighty-eight-year-old Leon Bentley passed away in Phoenix, Arizona on June 1. Bentley canceled a few appearances just prior to his father's passing so he could be by his side during his last days, and upon his death, the singer canceled his fan club party during Nashville's CMA Music Festival, but was back to perform on the main stage at the festival at LP Field on June 10. He announced his father's death on Twitter, saying, "It was an honor to comfort him as he left us. Thank you, fans, for the time and understanding."

Music executive and Country Music Hall of Famer Frances Preston died of congestive heart failure in Nashville on June 13. The 83-year-old opened the Nashville branch of BMI, the performing rights organization that collects and pays out royalties for songwriters, in 1958, went on to become the BMI President & CEO in New York in 1986, and served on the board of the Country Music Association and the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum. Preston's family states that she was often referred to as "the best friend a songwriter ever had."

Well, that's it for this month. Here's wishing everyone a safe and happy 4th of July. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, 'cause country music is comin' your way."