Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Country Is Comin' to Town

Last month, a couple of country heavy-hitters announced that they are heading to the Derby City. Jason Aldean, who is tearing up the charts with his infectious ode to Joe Diffie, titled "1994," will roll into the KFC Yum! Center at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 19 with his "Night Train Tour." This being Thunder Over Louisville Eve, the Yum! Center is sure to be bustin' at the seams and raisin' the roof. Aldean will be bringing along "Barefoot Blue Jean Night" crooner Jake Owen and newcomer Thomas Rhett, best known for "Beer With Jesus" and "Something To Do With My Hands." For a little tidbit of trivia, Rhett is a co-writer of Aldean's "1994," so it'll be interesting to see how this hit comes alive in concert! Tickets for this must-see show are currently on sale and cost $54.75 and $28.75.

It's only April, but news broke last month that this year's Kentucky State Fair will kick-off country style on Thursday, August 15 with legend Alan Jackson. The long-legged Newnan, Georgia native has topped the country charts 35 times and has sold a whopping 60 million records. If you've never seen Jackson live, don't miss this show as you're in for a real treat — he doesn't rely on a big stage production, but rather gives fans what they came for, and that's some good ole country music. Opening for Jackson will be "Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)" and "Nothing On But the Radio" singer Gary Allan, who will be sure to knock your boots off. Tickets for this show are already on sale and cost $49 and $39, which includes fair gate admission and a facility fee. The Kentucky State Fair will run from August 15-25. Keep reading in the upcoming months as we're hoping several more country shows will be announced for this year's fair.

Kentucky Music Hall of Fame Induction to Include Slew of Country Stars

When the next batch of artists is inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame this month, country music will be very well represented. The 2013 class of inductees includes Old Joe Clark, the late Grand Ole Opry star Skeeter Davis, Exile, The Kentucky Headhunters and Emory & Linda Martin. Clark, born Manuel D. Clark, was a country humorist, banjoist, actor and longtime performer at the Renfro Valley Barn Dance. Davis, born Mary Frances Penick in Dry Ridge, Kentucky, began her career as part of The Davis Sisters and went on to enjoy solo fame with songs like "The End of the World," "Set Him Free," and "My Last Date (With You)." Exile, which was founded in Richmond, Kentucky, first gained success with the 1978 hit "Kiss You All Over" and went on to top the country charts with tunes like "I Don't Want to Be a Memory," "She's Too Good to Be True," "Hang On to Your Heart," "I Could Get Used to You," and "Woke Up In Love." The award-winning group The Kentucky Headhunters, who hail from the Glasgow, Kentucky area, will forever be known for hits like "Dumas Walker," "Oh Lonesome Me," and "Walk Softly on This Heart of Mine." One-armed banjo player Emory Martin, who played for the likes of Uncle Dave Macon and Kitty Wells, wed Wanda "Linda Lou" Arnold in 1943, settled in Rockcastle County, Kentucky, and the duo became regulars on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance.

The 2013 Kentucky Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place April 12 at the Lexington Center Bluegrass Ballroom. Past Hall of Fame inductees include Crystal Gayle, Tom T. Hall, Wynonna & Naomi Judd, Loretta Lynn, Bill Monroe, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner, Keith Whitley, and Dwight Yoakam. The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame & Museum is located in Renfro Valley and "exists both to honor native Kentucky music professionals who have made significant contributions to the music industry in Kentucky and around the world, and to be an educational source for anyone desiring to increase their knowledge of Kentucky's music."

ACM Awards to Be Handed Out April 7

If you haven't already done so, be sure to clear your calendar for 8:00 p.m. Sunday evening, April 7 as the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards will be handed out at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Returning to host the ceremony, which will air live on CBS, will be reigning ACM Male Vocalist of the Year Blake Shelton along with first-time host Luke Bryan. Leading the pack of nominees with seven nods is Eric Church, who will vie for Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year for Chief, Song of the Year (as performer and songwriter), Single Record of the Year, and Video of the Year for "Springsteen," and Vocal Event of the Year along with Jason Aldean and Bryan for "The Only Way I Know." Hunter Hayes is up for six awards, followed by reigning Female Vocalist of the Year Miranda Lambert and reigning Entertainer of the Year Taylor Swift with five nominations each.

The Academy recently announced that Aldean, The Band Perry, Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Church, Kelly Clarkson, Hayes, Lady Antebellum, Lambert, Little Big Town, Tim McGraw, Shelton, George Strait, Swift, and Carrie Underwood will perform during the show. As the date for the show approaches, it's safe to say that many more performers and presenters will be announced, so keep your eyes and ears open for details.

While all the major country stars are still in Vegas, Tim McGraw plans to tape the ACM Presents: Tim McGraw's Superstar Summer Night concert the night following the ACM Awards. Performing along with McGraw will be Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Bryan, Lady Antebellum, Ne-Yo, Pitbull, Swift, and Keith Urban. This two-hour concert special will air on CBS on a yet-to-be-announced date and will benefit ACM Lifting Lives, a charity "improving lives through the power of music."

Reality TV Goes Country

If you're a country music fan who loves reality television, then you're probably in hog heaven right now. Last month, country baritone Trace Adkins started his second quest to win the title of Donald Trump's All-Star Celebrity Apprentice. As you probably remember, Adkins finished as the runner up on the first season of CA, just behind CNN host Piers Morgan, but raised an amazing amount of money for the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network because one of his daughters suffers from severe food allergies. After this reality TV stint, Adkins swore the television genre off for good. Well, at least he thought so. In 2011, Adkins' family home in Brentwood, Tennessee burned to the ground and the American Red Cross was there to offer their assistance. Fortunately, his family had another home to go to as they rebuilt, but Adkins' wife, Rhonda, urged him to pay it forward when Donald Trump came knocking a second time. Well, Rhonda Adkins won her husband over and he has returned to play for the American Red Cross. In this season's premiere episode, Adkins was project manager of a meatball fundraiser task, won the task with flying colors, and raised an unprecedented $670,000 for the charity.

If dancing is your thing, that's ballroom dancing, not country line-dancing, then this season of Dancing With the Stars will be of particular interest to you as Ashland, Kentucky native Wynonna Judd and former American Idol contestant and country sweetheart Kellie Pickler are competing for the coveted mirrorball trophy. Judd is dancing with professional dancer Tony Dovolani and recently joked that she finally accepted the repeated invitation to compete on the show because, "I'm trying to get back to my original weight of 8 lbs, 6 ozs." Pickler is already a fan- and judge-favorite as she is performing with professional partner Derek Hough, brother of dancer/country singer Julianne Hough.

You can catch Trace each Sunday night on NBC's All-Star Celebrity Apprentice and Wynonna and Kellie each Monday and Tuesday night on ABC's Dancing With the Stars, that is unless their luck runs out and they are fired or voted off.

Country Baby Boom

The duo Love and Theft, which is currently made up of Eric Gunderson and Stephen Barker Liles, just may be a trio in the years to come. Gunderson and his wife Emily became first-time parents last month when son Camden William Gunderson was born on March 10. Although he wasn't due until May, the newest little Love and Theft member and his mother are doing well. A newborn baby gives a totally different meaning to the song "Angel Eyes."

Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott, who is burning up the charts singing lead on the trio's latest single "Downtown," is anxiously awaiting parenthood with her husband, Lady A drummer Chris Tyrell. The happy couple recently revealed that they are expecting a baby girl. Scott is due in July and expects the trio's last shows prior to the birth will be their mid-June performance at New York's inaugural Taste of Country Festival.

Country Codas

Eighty-three-year-old Grand Ole Opry star Jack Greene, best known for his 1966 smash #1 single "There Goes My Everything" and his 1969 chart-topper "Statue of a Fool," passed away at his Nashville-area home on March 14. The singer had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease for several years and died peacefully in his sleep. He was discovered by Ernest Tubb in 1961 when the legend hired him as a singer and drummer in his Texas Troubadours band. He landed his own recording contract in 1964, and three years later, at the inaugural Country Music Association Awards, "There Goes My Everything" was named Album, Song, and Single of the Year and Greene was named Male Vocalist of the Year. That same year, he became an Opry member and was the first country singer to perform in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Claude King, best known as the singer and songwriter of "Wolverton Mountain," passed away at his Shreveport, Louisiana home on March 7. The 90-year-old first hit the Top 10 in 1961 with "Big River, Big Man" and "The Comancheros." The following year, "Wolverton Mountain" hit the top of the country charts for nine weeks. King branched out of country music and appeared in movies Swamp Girl and Year of the Wahoo, as well as the 1982 television miniseries The Blue and the Gray.

Toby Keith and his band suffered a huge loss on February 27 when his longtime bandleader and bassist, 54-year-old Carl Reber "Chuck" Goff, Jr., was killed in a two-car accident in Noble, Oklahoma. Goff also co-wrote Keith's Top 10's "Upstairs Downtown" and "You Ain't Much Fun." On his website, Keith recently wrote, "We are deeply saddened by the sudden death of our band member, Chuck Goff. He was a close friend for over 25 years, the band leader, and bass player. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family."

Well, that's it for yet another month. Here's wishing everyone a happy Spring, and a happy Derby Festival. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, 'cause country music is comin' your way."