Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Kentucky Derby is Goin' Country

The highly-anticipated "Run for the Roses" always attracts a "who's who" list of celebrities in our fine city, and the 139th Kentucky Derby is shaping up to be no exception. As usual, country stars will be all around our town, including tKix Brooks, half of the former award-winning duo Brooks & Dunn, and the brand new ACM Entertainer of the Year, Luke Bryan. The Kentucky Derby Festival's Derby Eve Jam on Friday, May 3 is totally going country as Brooks will headline the free event (admission is free with a 2013 Pegasus Pin) at Kroger's Fest-A-Ville on the Waterfront. Newcomer Greg Bates will open this show, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Following his performance, Brooks is scheduled to attend the 25th anniversary party of all Derby parties, the Barnstable Brown Gala, hosted by former Doublemint Twins Priscilla Barnstable and Patricia Barnstable-Brown. On the same night, just a few blocks away from Waterfront Park, Bryan will headline the second annual Unbridled Eve Gala and will entertain the crowd in the Grand Ballroom at the Galt House with hits like "I Don't Want This Night to End" and "Drunk on You." All proceeds for this event will benefit Blessings in a Backpack. "Heads Carolina, Tails California" crooner Jo Dee Messina will also perform at this charity event.

Other Country Artists Coming to Town

Fortunately, the Kentucky Derby is not the only draw for country artists to come to town. Just a few days after the Derby, Taylor Swift will bring her highly-anticipated "The RED Tour" to the KFC Yum! Center on Tuesday, May 7. The 22-year-old will be performing some of her biggest hits, as well as new material from her latest album, RED, which was released last October. Opening for Swift will be Ed Sheeran, who performs the duet "Everything Has Changed" on the country/pop mega-star's chart-topping album.

2011 American Idol winner Scotty McCreery may be in his freshman year of college at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina during the week, but that's not hampering his country music career on the weekend. The singer will bring his appropriately titled "Weekend Roadtrip Tour 2013" to Horseshoe Southern Indiana Casino in Elizabeth on Friday, May 17. He'll be sure to perform hits "I Love You This Big" and "The Trouble with Girls" from his debut album, Clear As Day.

American Idol judge Keith Urban hasn't performed in Louisville for quite some time, but that's about to change. It was recently announced that the second leg of his 2013 "Light the Fuse Tour" will end at our very own KFC Yum! Center on Sunday, December 8. Later this year, Urban plans to release new music, which he'll be sure to perform at this must-see show. Opening for Urban will be newcomer Dustin Lynch and ACM Vocal Group of the Year, Little Big Town.

Billy Ray Cyrus Tells His Story

Flatwoods, Kentucky native Billy Ray Cyrus broke onto the country music scene 21 years ago, when his debut single, "Achy Breaky Heart," skyrocketed to the top of the music charts. The smash tune helped his debut album, Some Gave All, to sell a whopping 9 million copies. Many thought Cyrus would be a one-hit wonder, but two decades later, he still enjoys an illustrious career in the entertainment industry. In addition to his music career, he has enjoyed success as an actor in the title role on the television drama Doc, he played father to his real-life daughter, Miley Cyrus, on Disney Channel's Hannah Montana, and just last year he appeared on Broadway in the musical Chicago.

Cyrus recently decided to tell his life story and penned his autobiography, titled Hillbilly Heart, which was released just last month. Once and for all, he wanted to set the record straight and clear up several untruths and misconceptions about him and his family. He recently told Country Music Television, "Sometimes I look at my life and go, 'How did my life end up being something that became more about what my persona is, compared to who I really am?' All I ever wanted was for the music to speak for who I am. But when you are coming out of the eclipse of 'Achy Breaky Heart,' that is a pretty tough thing to do. I spent the last 20 years reinventing myself from that moment."

Telling his life story was not always easy for Cyrus though. He continued, "All I am looking for is the truth. I want to make sure I got everything true in there….Some of those truths are not always pleasant. As a matter of fact, I am realizing I have had a painful life."

In addition to promoting Hillbilly Heart, Cyrus plans to tour extensively throughout 2013 to further promote his 2012 album Change My Mind.

Bryan & Lambert Dominate ACM Awards

When the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards were handed out last month at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, ceremony co-host Luke Bryan was the big winner when he was named the coveted Entertainer of the Year, an award selected by the fans. Bryan also shared the Vocal Event of the Year award with Jason Aldean and Eric Church for "The Only Way I Know." In addition, Aldean was named Male Vocalist of the Year and Church won Album of the Year for Chief. Bryan's co-host, Blake Shelton, shared an award with his wife, Miranda Lambert—the Song of the Year award for having co-written Lambert's "Over You" about Shelton's late brother. Lambert took home two additional trophies: Female Vocalist of the Year and Single of the Year for "Over You." Little Big Town won two trophies: Vocal Group of the Year and Video of the Year for "Tornado."

And the winners are: Entertainer of the Year: Luke Bryan; Female Vocalist of the Year: Miranda Lambert; Male Vocalist of the Year: Jason Aldean; Vocal Duo of the Year: Thompson Square; Vocal Group of the Year: Little Big Town; New Artist of the Year: Florida Georgia Line; New Female Vocalist of the Year: Jana Kramer; New Male Vocalist of the Year: Brantley Gilbert; and New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year: Florida Georgia Line.

Album of the Year: Eric Church's Chief; Single Record of the Year: Miranda Lambert's "Over You"; Song of the Year: Miranda Lambert's "Over You" (written by Lambert & Blake Shelton); Video of the Year: Little Big Town's "Tornado"; Vocal Event of the Year: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan & Eric Church's "The Only Way I Know"; Songwriter of the Year: Dallas Davidson; Guitarist of the Year: J.T. Corenflos; Fiddle Player of the Year: Aubrey Haynie; Steel Guitarist of the Year: Mike Johnson; and Producer of the Year: Jay Joyce.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Country Billboard Music Awards Nominees

The 2013 Billboard Music Awards will be handed out at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on May 19. The Band Perry and Taylor Swift will compete against each other for the highly-coveted fan-voted Milestone Award, along with Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars, Miguel, and Pitbull. Country fans can vote for TBP or Swift by logging onto www.billboard.com/milestone/vote.

Swift is scheduled to perform during the ceremony, set to air live on ABC. Throughout the ceremony, the following country awards will be handed out: Top Country Album of the Year, Top Country Song of the Year, and Top Country Artist of the Year.

Finalists for the Billboard Music Awards are based on key fan interactions with music, including album and digital singles sales, radio airplay, touring, streaming, and social interactions on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, VEVO, and Spotify. These measurements are tracked year-round by Billboard and its data partners, including Nielsen Entertainment and Next Big Sound. The awards are based on the reporting period of March 12, 2012 through March 10, 2013.

Best wishes to Kimberly, Neil, Reid, and Taylor!

2013 Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees

Last month, the Country Music Hall of Fame announced its 2013 inductees during a press conference held at downtown Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum. Hall of Famer and Grand Ole Opry member Bill Anderson announced that Kenny Rogers, Bobby Bare, and Cowboy Jack Clement make up the 2013 Hall of Famer class. Singer, songwriter, and actor Rogers first gained success with The First Edition in 1968 with "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" and went on to gain success with smash hits like "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town," "Lucille," "The Gambler," "Coward of the County," and "Islands of the Stream" with fellow Hall of Famer Dolly Parton. He will be inducted in the Hall of Fame's modern era category.

Bare will be inducted in the Hall of Fame's veterans era category. He recorded his first song, "All-American Boy," in 1958 before serving in the military. After leaving the military, he released "Detroit City" in 1963, which earned him a Grammy Award for Best Country Record. His other hits include "500 Miles Away From Home," "The Streets of Baltimore," "Marie Laveau," and "Four Strong Winds."

Clement will be inducted in the non-performer category. He played guitar and dobro as a teenager and following a stint in the military, he returned home to Memphis and was a producer for Sam Phillips' Sun Records, producing the likes of Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, and Charlie Rich. He would go on to produce Eddy Arnold, Bobby Bare, Emmylou Harris, Charley Pride, Waylon Jennings, and many more. The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member has written hits like "Ballad of a Teenage Queen," "Guess Things Happen That Way," "Just Between You and Me," and "Just Someone I Used to Know."

Rogers, Bare, and Clement will officially be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame during a medallion ceremony to be held on a yet-to-be-announced date later this year at the museum's new theater.

Congratulations, Kenny, Bobby, and Jack!

Legal Woes for Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks was riding on cloud nine when he performed "The Dance" and collaborated with his hero George Strait on "The Cowboy Rides Away" as a tribute to the late ACM Awards producer Dick Clark during last month's Academy of Country Music Awards, but a few days following this show, Brooks' elation came to a screeching halt. His former production manager of his Red Strokes Entertainment production company, Lisa Sanderson, slapped the star with a lawsuit claiming Brooks killed several lucrative deals she tried negotiating for the star, each of which they were to evenly split profits. Included in the deals Brooks supposedly sabotaged was a role in the movie "Saving Private Ryan," but when he demanded the lead role, the couple lost out on the deal. In her lawsuit, Sanderson claims that Brooks' public persona is completely false, as he is actually a "paranoid, angry, deceitful, and vindictive man who will turn against those closest to him on a dime," claiming that his "unreasonable demands torpedoed nearly all of the potential [film and television] deals that came their way."

Sanderson says that Brooks had agreed to pay her half of the profits from production deals that came to fruition, as well as a $250,000 bonus for "loyalty and years of service." She says she "never received a dime of her 50% share of the producer fee" and stopped receiving proper compensation from Red Strokes in May 2011. The lawsuit accuses Brooks of fraud, breach of oral agreement, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and violation of the California Labor Code sections that requires an employer to make good on all due wages and bonuses when an individual's employment is terminated. Sanderson is suing for $425,000, plus other damages.

When addressing Sanderson's allegations on the day the lawsuit was filed, a Red Strokes representative stated, "Mr. Brooks, of course, denies everything in the lawsuit filed today by Lisa Sanderson. Mr. Brooks and Red Strokes Entertainment, Inc. will continue to take the necessary steps toward resolving this matter through the legal system."

Well, that's it for yet another month. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, 'cause country music is comin' your way."