Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Country Music to Heat Up the Kentucky State Fair

The temperatures are well into the 90's and the heat index has camped out around the 100 degree mark, which means just one thing: it's time for the annual Kentucky State Fair. The Fair will run August 15-25 at the Kentucky Exposition Center, offering any and every imaginable edible delight battered and deep-fried, barns overflowing with livestock, the World's Championship Horse Show, Kentucky craftsmen, exhibits from the best of the best 4-H'ers, midway rides, and some of the best country music you'll ever hear. Some of the hottest names in country music will roll into this year's Fair, which is being kicked off opening night with country legend Alan Jackson in Freedom Hall. The Newnan, Georgia native will be offering a plethora of his vast catalog of #1 hits, and hopefully a few new tunes (like his cover of Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky") from his recently announced upcoming bluegrass album, simply titled The Bluegrass Album. Opening for Jackson on Thursday, August 15 will be Gary Allan, best known for hits such as "Man to Man," "Tough Little Boys," "Nothing On But the Radio," and "Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)." Tickets for this show cost $49 and $39. On Saturday, August 17, "Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue (The Angry American)," "American Ride," and "Should've Been a Cowboy" singer Toby Keith will entertain Fair-goers in Freedom Hall. "Somethin' 'bout a Truck" and "Hey Pretty Girl" crooner Kip Moore will open this show and tickets cost $56 and $45.

As always, there will also be tons of FREE country music at this year's Fair in the old Cardinal Stadium for fans. The Oak Ridge Boys will make their 37th consecutive appearance at the Fair on Sunday, August 18, along with former Statler Brother Jimmy Fortune. Clay Walker and newcomer quartet Parmalee will roll into the stadium on Tuesday, August 20. Country newcomers Kelsey K, Thomas Rhett, and Jerrod Niemann will perform on Wednesday, August 21. And the last country show of the Fair, which will occur on Friday, August 23, is destined to be the rowdiest of all when Nicholasville, Kentucky's very own duo Montgomery Gentry brings its outlaw brand of country music to the stadium, bringing along Taylorsville's own up-and-rising country rocker J.D. Shelburne.

Although all the stadium shows are free and first-come, first-served seating, you may want to get there even earlier this year to try to stake your claim on prime seating. Due to recent safety inspections, the old Cardinal Stadium's grandstand has been deemed unsafe, therefore all concert seating will be on the stadium's field instead of the grandstand. In recent months, Fair officials stated, "We are moving forward to provide an even better concert experience in a safe and comfortable environment. The free concerts are a huge draw for the Fair, and we intend to improve the setting and the excitement with this new configuration."

Randy Travis In Critical Condition After Suffering a Stroke

"Diggin' Up Bones" country traditionalist Randy Travis has endured some serious health obstacles over the last month. The singer went to Baylor McKinney Medical Center's ER in McKinney, Texas on July 7 after suffering with what was eventually diagnosed as idiopathic cardiomyopathy, which is scarring of the heart muscle caused by a viral illness. This virus weakened Travis's heart, causing him severe circulation issues, therefore he was transferred from the emergency room to Heart Hospital Baylor Plano in Plano, Texas. While on life-support, Dr. Michael Mack, a cardiac surgeon and director of cardiovascular disease, stated, "During this period of time of resuscitation, he suffered a stroke. As a result of the stroke, pressure built up in his brain that required an emergency neurological operation to relieve that pressure." This surgery was performed on July 10, and it was a few days before Travis began to regain consciousness.

Dr. Gary Erwin recently noted, "In terms of his stroke, [Travis] has responded well to the surgical procedure he had to relieve the pressure in his brain. We're seeing improvements in brain scans showing decreased swelling of his brain. He is awake and alert — interacting with family and friends and beginning to start doing some early physical therapy." He was expected to remain hospitalized until the end of July or early August, and Erwin continued, "After he is discharged from here, we anticipate transfer to an inpatient facility where he can receive aggressive physical therapy. We anticipate it will take months to recover from the stroke."

Although Travis has been in the news in recent months with erratic behavior caused by alcohol and drugs, Dr. Mack says, "From the appearance on echocardiograms … this is not the appearance of either drugs or alcohol causing the heart condition. Mr. Travis does have a family history of cardiomyopathy, and it is more likely related to that."

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Randy as he recovers.

Country Star Nominations

Nickelodeon's 2013 Teen Choice Awards nominees were revealed last month and there were plenty nods for country artists. Taylor Swift received a whopping seven nominations, including: Choice Female Artist, Choice Female Country Artist, Choice Smile, Choice Summer Tour for "Red Tour 2013," Choice Country Song and Choice Break-Up Song for "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," and Choice Single: Female Artist for "I Knew You Were Trouble." Hot country duo Florida Georgia Line will vie for Choice Summer Music Star: Group, Choice Country Group, Choice Country Song for "Cruise," and their remix of "Cruise" featuring Nelly will compete for Choice Summer Song. Blake Shelton will vie for Choice TV Personality: Male for The Voice. Choice Country Song nominees are Blake Shelton, Pistol Annies & Friends' "Boys 'round Here," Luke Bryan's "Crash My Party," Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise," Hunter Hayes' "I Want Crazy," and Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together." Choice Female Country Artist nominees are Jana Kramer, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, Taylor Swift, and Carrie Underwood. Choice Male Country Artist nominees are Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Hunter Hayes, and Blake Shelton. Choice Country Group nominees are Florida Georgia Line, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, The Band Perry, and Thompson Square. The Band Perry's "DONE." will also vie for Choice Break-Up Song. Nashville is up for Choice TV Show: Drama. Teenage fans can vote online at www.teenchoiceawards.com. The winners will be announced live on FOX on August 11.

The 2013 MTV Music Video Awards nominees were announced last month on MTV's Vine and Instagram accounts, and Taylor Swift appeared in two of the categories. Her "I Knew You Were Trouble" will compete again Justin Timberlake's "Mirrors," Macklemore, Ryan Lewis & Wanz's "Thrift Shop," Bruno Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven," and Robin Thicke, T.I. & Pharrell's "Blurred Lines" for Video of the Year. The same video is up for Best Female Video against Rihanna & Mikky Ekko's "Stay," Miley Cyrus's "We Can't Stop," P!nk & Nate Ruess's "Just Give Me a Reason," and Demi Lovato's "Heart Attack." In related country news, Kelly Clarkson's "People Like Us" will vie for Best Video with a Social Message. The VMA's will be handed out in Brooklyn, New York on August 25, airing live on MTV. To vote for Swift or Clarkson, log onto VMA.MTV.com for details.

When the nominations were announced last moclaynth for the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, which are given to the best in television, actress Connie Britton was nominated in the Lead Actress in a Drama Series category for her portrayal of country singer Rayna James on ABC's "Nashville." She will compete against Claire Danes of "Homeland," Michelle Dockery of "Downton Abbey," Vera Farmiga of "Bates Motel," Elisabeth Moss of "Mad Men," Kerry Washington of "Scandal," and Robin Wright of "House of Cards." The Emmy Awards will be handed out on September 22 and the ceremony will air live on CBS, just three days before Britton and the rest of the Nashville gang return for the critically acclaimed series' sophomore season.

Carrie Underwood Releasing Concert DVD

Fans who were blown away by Carrie Underwood's performance during her "The Blown Away Tour" stop at the KFC Yum! Center last September will have the chance to reminisce about the magical evening later this month when a DVD of the concert is released. This phenomenal tour kicked off last spring and concluded May 23, 2013 after 112 performances in 110 cities across six countries and three continents, and its Ontario, California stop in March was filmed for a live concert video. The Blown Away Tour: Live DVD will be released on August 13 and will feature nearly two hours of concert footage, as well as behind-the-scenes footage of the tour, interviews with Underwood and tour designer Raj Kapoor, a photo gallery, and four of Underwood's official music videos. The DVD's track listing is: "Good Girl," "Undo It," "Wasted," "I Told You So," "Two Black Cadillacs," "Last Name," "Temporary Home," "Jesus, Take the Wheel/How Great Thou Art," "Cowboy Cassanova," "Get Out of This Town," "Nobody Ever Told You," "All-American Girl," "One Way Ticket," "Leave Love Alone," "Flat on the Floor," "See You Again," "Cupid's Got a Shotgun," "Before He Cheats," "I Know You Won't," and "Blown Away."

Thanks to Underwood's "The Blown Away Tour," Pollstar named the American Idol winner the Top Female Country Touring Artist of 2012. This is a DVD you'll definitely want to add to your music collection — and after watching, you'll agree with Pollstar's assessment of the Checotah, Oklahoma native's abilities.

Country's Night to Rock to Air August 12

If you were unable to attend the CMA Music Festival in downtown Nashville back in June, or if you were fortunate enough to attend and want to relive the magic, then you're in luck as ABC-Television is airing a three-hour recap, titled "CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock," on Monday, August 12 at 8 p.m.. The must-see special will be hosted by Little Big Town and will include performances, interviews and special appearances by: Jason Aldean, The Band Perry, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Kelly Clarkson, Sheryl Crow, Hunter Hayes, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw, Kip Moore, Kacey Musgraves, Jake Owen, Brad Paisley, Kellie Pickler, Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, and The Zac Brown Band. Also appearing will be the cast of Duck Dynasty, actors/musicians Charles Esten and Lennon & Maisy Stella from ABC's Nashville, Kellie Pickler's Dancing with the Stars champion partner Derek Hough, Kid Rock, and Lenny Kravitz.

Country Family Album

"If I Could Make a Living" singer Clay Walker, who is headed to the Fair later this month, has added another baby to his growing brood. He and wife Jessica welcomed son Elijah Craig on Father's Day eve, June 15. The doting father announced the news via Twitter: "Happy Father's Day to me :) Elijah Craig Walker … 7.8 lbs … a blessing to his mama and me … born last night … God bless u Fathers." Elijah joins 4-year-old big brother William and 3-year-old sister Mary. Walker also has two daughters, 17-year-old MaClay DaLayne and 14-year-old Skylor ClayAnne, from his first marriage.

Following "Guys Do It All the Time" singer Mindy McCready's suicide in February, custody of her seven-year-old son, Zander, has been awarded to his father, Billy McKnight. Just last month, McKnight finally won the custody battle and brought Zander home to Florida, where he will live with his father and step-mother, Corey Rena-McKnight. McKnight recently stated, "This is gonna take years to heal from, she's only been gone for six months. I'll never be through it. Mindy is not here anymore and that hurts me, especially for my son. She was a special person who wound up getting sick in her life and she couldn't recover from it." It is still uncertain who will get custody of McCready's one-year-old son Zayne. Zayne's father, music producer David Wilson, committed suicide a month before McCready's suicide.

Four-foot eleven-inch Country Music Hall of Famer and Grand Ole Opry member Little Jimmy Dickens recently began radiation treatments for a pre-cancerous growth on his vocal cords. The 92-year-old country legend, best known for hits "May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose" and "Take an Old Cold 'Tater (And Wait)," is expected to make a full recovery and recently said, "My family and I appreciate the support, and I can't wait to return home to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in one of my favorite rhinestone suits someday soon." Dickens is currently the oldest living member of the famed Opry.

Country songwriter Johnny MacRae died from heart disease at his Ashland City, Tennessee home at the age of 84 on July 3. He left the U.S. Navy after 15 years to pursue a songwriting career, which produced hits like Reba McEntire's "You Lift Me Up to Heaven," Conway Twitty's "I'd Love to Lay You Down," Doug Stone's "I'd Be Better Off in a Pine Box," and Highway 101's "Whiskey, If You Were a Woman."

Country Music Hall of Famer Jim Foglesong passed away at the ripe ole age of 90 on July 9. The famed record label executive was instrumental in launching the careers of country heavy-hitters George Strait, Reba McEntire, and Garth Brooks. Throughout his illustrious career at several major record labels, he also helped further the careers of Roy Clark, John Conlee, Donna Fargo, Freddy Fender, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Barbara Mandrell, the Oak Ridge Boys, Buck Owens, Tanya Tucker, Conway Twitty, and Don Williams.

Well, that's it for this month. I hope to see each of you out enjoying some, if not ALL, of the country shows at the state Fair! Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, 'cause country music is comin' your way."