XTreme Muzik Tour Will Hit More Than 30 Markets
It’ll feel like 2004 all over again when a reunited Big & Rich team up once again with pal Gretchen Wilson for the “Xtreme Muzik The Tour.” That was the year both acts were enjoying their biggest successes, and they continued to regularly perform together for several years after that.
As with Big & Rich’s previous outings, Xtreme Muzik The Tour will include special guests Cowboy Troy and Two Foot Fred. The tour will visit more than 30 cities beginning June 18 in Springfield, Mo. The two headliners will share a band, and will perform together, joining in on each other’s songs. Their stage set includes a fully operational bar as the centerpiece, lined with a rack of guitars. The road crew’s guitar tech will double as the bartender.
“We’ve been friends for so long, writing, recording, touring and even watching our kids grow up together,” says Big & Rich’s Big Kenny in a press release. “John [Rich] and I have both done solo projects, which were fun, but we’re ready to get out and make some Big & Rich noise.”
The duo has been on hiatus since 2008, and each has released solo projects since then.
Bentley, McBride, Rucker And Zac Brown Band Are Among The Performers
If the six rehearsals One Country has seen over the last two days are any indication, tomorrow night’s Academy of Country Music Awards promises to be big on entertainment—and surprises.
The Zac Brown Band (left) will be performing with James Taylor, and while we’re not allowed to reveal what songs they’ll be singing, we can tell you it’ll be a crowd pleaser. Another former Zac Brown Band collaborator—Alan Jackson—will introduce them.
During today’s rehearsal, Brown was exacting about the group’s harmonies, and ran them through their paces a few times to get it just right.
Dierks Bentley’s (right) energetic performance of “Am I The Only One” involves running up a long flight of stairs in the MGM Grand Garden Arena, and during rehearsals he proved he was in great shape. We watched him run the stairs four times in a row, and resume singing at the top of the staircase without being breathless every time.
Sugarland, Eric Church and The Band Perry, will be performing down the strip from the MGM Grand at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, and their performances will be cut into the telecast live, as will a duet between Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles and Rihanna.
ACM Awards hosts Reba McEntire and Blake Shelton will make a quick run (with a police escort) from one venue to the other and back tomorrow night to introduce the Sugarland performance.
Both Church and The Band Perry are going into tomorrow night’s show having already won ACM Awards this year in new artist categories (top new solo vocalist and top new vocal duo or group, respectively). On the show, they’ll compete against each other for the top new artist prize.
Church (left) told One Country that while awards shows can be nerve wracking, going into this one with a win already under his belt takes the pressure off. But win or lose, he said, his career is about the fans, not industry recognition, although the latter is nice when it comes.
He’ll sing “Smoke A Little Smoke” on the show, on a set that naturally includes some smoke machines. The Band Perry will perform its No. 1 hit, “If I Die Young.” Both performances sounded great in rehearsals, despite the 8 a.m. call time.
The Band Perry made it on time, despite a funny “Spinal Tap” moment earlier that morning when a shuttle driver dropped them off on a loading dock at the massive hotel, with no clear indication of where there were supposed to go from there.
Yesterday, Martina McBride rehearsed her new single (and guaranteed future hit) “Teenage Daughters,” against a video backdrop showing McBride and her husband, John, with their three daughters.
Darius Rucker will be performing a special song, “Music From The Heart,” with a group of 25 teens with developmental disabilities. The teens wrote the song last summer with Chris Young and Nashville pro songwriter Brett James at a music camp organized by the ACM’s charitable arm, Lifting Lives. During rehearsals, the kids were full of energy and clearly excited about their moment in the spotlight with Rucker. Young and Julianne Hough will introduce the performance.
Ryan Seacrest will be presenting tomorrow night’s final category, entertainer of the year. The nominees are Jason Aldean, Toby Keith, Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban.
The show airs live Sunday night at 8 p.m. (ET) on CBS Television Network.
Singer Recruits Country A-Listers Including Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, And Rascal Flatts
Nashville-based jazz artist Anna Wilson is surrounded by country music every day, so it’s little surprise that influence has crept into her work.
Wilson has recorded a new album, “Countrypolitan Duets,” in which she pairs up with such country music luminaries as Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Rogers, Ray Price, Connie Smith and Billy Dean to create a blend of country, jazz and pop music.
Wilson’s husband, Monty Powell, is a top Nashville songwriter and producer who has penned many of Urban’s hits. Powell co-produced the project with Wilson, and helped her choose such classics as Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight,” Price’s “You’re The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me” and other classic country standards, and record them with jazz arrangements.
Wilson already has established credentials in the country world in her own right. As a songwriter, her compositions have been recorded by Reba McEntire, Brooks & Dunn, Lady Antebellum, Lee Ann Womack and others.
“Countrypolitan Duets” will be released April 5.
Wilson will support the album on the road. She’s joining Canadian singer Matt Dusk as the opener on his North American tour, which kicks off today in Montreal. Dusk also appears on “Countrypolitan Duets,” dueting with Wilson on the 1964 Jim Reeves classic “Welcome To My World.”
Jazz musicians Rick Braun and Larry Carlton are also featured on the project, as is “American Idol” favorite Matt Giraud, whose collaboration with Wilson on “You Don’t Know Me” is the album’s first single.
Opry Star Was Best Known For Hit ‘Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On’
Sad to report the March 31 death of country singer/songwriter and Grand Ole Opry star Mel McDaniel, who had been battling health issues for several years and died of lung cancer. He was 68.
A native of Checotah, Okla., McDaniel charted 41 singles on Billboard’s Top County Songs chart between 1976 and 1989, and is best known for his sole No. 1 hit, “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On,” in 1984. His eight other top 10 hits were “Louisiana Saturday Night” and “Right In The Palm Of Your Hand” (both in 1981), “Take Me To The Country” and “Big Ole Brew” (both in 1982), “I Call It Love” (1983), “Let It Roll (Let It Rock)” and “Stand Up” (both 1985), and “Real Good Feel Good Song” (1988).
McDaniel joined the Grand Ole Opry cast in 1986.
He is survived by a daughter and a grandson.
ACM Winner Eric Church To Open The Shows
Toby Keith has revealed plans for his summer Locked & Loaded tour. It launches June 30 in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., and is expected to hit 44 U.S. and Canadian cities, and another 12 in Europe. The first 36 dates have already been announced. The European dates will be Keith’s first on the continent since his 2009 Worlds Toughest Tour.
Eric Church, who recently won the Academy of Country Music Award for top new solo vocalist, will open all but two of the announced dates.
The production will feature nearly 1,000 square feet of video screens, a giant, T-shaped ramp that will house the “Club T” party pit, and a pyrotechnic display tour organizers are describing as “extravagant.”
While a formal announcement has yet to be made, Keith is also expected to include his annual Spring USO Tour on his 2011 itinerary.
Honors Also Go To The Gatlin Brothers, Tom T. Hall, Hank Cochran
The Academy of Country Music has announced plans to honor a handful of country superstars with special awards.
Reba McEntire (left) has been chosen to receive the ACM’s Career Achievement Award, which is presented to an artist who has advanced the popularity and acceptance of country music through their endeavors in the entertainment industry.
Taylor Swift (right) will receive the Jim Reeves International Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the acceptance of country music throughout the world. Past recipients of the award include Brooks, Dick Clark, Roy Clark, Merv Griffin, Buck Owens, Dolly Parton and Keith Urban, among others.
Garth Brooks (left) and Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers have been chosen to receive the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award honoring individuals who are pioneers in the country music genre.
Past recipients of the Pioneer Award include Alabama, Johnny Cash, Charlie Daniels, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Brenda Lee, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, The Oak Ridge Boys, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Tex Ritter, Marty Robbins, Kenny Rogers, Mel Tillis, Randy Travis, Conway Twitty, Porter Wagoner, Hank Williams, Sr., and Hank Williams Jr., among others.
Tom T. Hall and Hank Cochran have been selected to receive the Poet’s Award, which honors songwriters for outstanding musical and/or lyrical contributions throughout their careers in country music.
Hall has created an extraordinary body of work that includes Jeannie C. Riley’s “Harper Valley P.T.A.” and Alan Jackson’s “Little Bitty,” as well as 21 of his own top 10 hits, such as “I Love” and “Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine.”
Cochran (right), who died last year, was a beloved Nashville songwriter for 50 years, with hits for Eddy Arnold (“Make the World Go Away”) and Patsy Cline (“She’s Got You,” “I Fall to Pieces”), among many others. Merle Haggard landed a No. 1 single with “It’s Not Love (But It’s Not Bad)” while George Strait scored with “The Chair” and “Ocean Front Property.” Other favorites from his catalog include Vern Gosdin’s “Set ‘Em Up Joe” and Keith Whitley’s “Miami, My Amy.”
Finally, the film "Country Strong" has been chosen as the recipient of the Tex Ritter Award, which is given to a movie released and/or receiving major exposure during the preceding calendar year, featuring or utilizing country music. The film stars Gwyneth Paltrow as a country superstar staging a comeback, while two-time ACM male vocalist winner Tim McGraw plays her husband and manager.
Past recipients of the Tex Ritter Award include "Beer For My Horses," "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," "Crazy Heart," "O Brother, Where Art Thou," "Sweet Dreams" and "Walk the Line," among others.
All of these special awards are voted on by the ACM board of directors and will be presented to recipients at ACM Honors, a special event held every fall at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
He’s Set To Star In And Produce ‘Fear No Evil’ For The Outdoor Channel
Zac Brown will co-host a new hunting show with the colorful title “Fear No Evil,” on The Outdoor Channel. Brown also serves as the program’s executive producer through his Georgia-based production company, Southern Reel.
His co-host is Chris Brackett, described on his own Web site as “one of the fastest rising stars in the outdoor industry today.”
Brackett says of Brown, “Zac has sold millions of records, plays to sold out arenas, has his own food products, leather and knife line, and record label. He does it all, including hunting—from rifles to bows and everything in-between. He loves to hunt.”
Darren Doane, best know for directing music videos from the Zac Brown Band, Jason Mraz and Van Morrison, is directing the show, and says its two hosts, “have pushed me not to make a hunting show but a mini feature film every episode. And, that’s what we have done.”
The show debuts April 3 at 11:30 p.m. (ET). Watch a quick preview here.
Chesney, Jackson, McGraw, Paisley, Underwood Among The Artists Collaborating With Travis
Randy Travis has enlisted an all-star cast to help him celebrate his 25th anniversary as a recording artist. He’ll release his “Anniversary Celebration” duets CD June 7, and it features collaborations with Zac Brown Band, Kristin Chenoweth, Kenny Chesney, Don Henley, Alan Jackson, Jamey Johnson, George Jones, Kris Kristofferson, Tim McGraw, Willie Nelson, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood. The album includes new songs in addition to re-makes of many of Travis’ hits.
Also included on the 16-song project are Josh Turner, James Otto, Shelby Lynne, John Anderson, Lorrie Morgan, Ray Price, Connie Smith and several others.
Since launching his career as one of country’s new traditionalists in the mid 1980s, Travis has gone on to sell more than 20 million records and earn seven Grammy Awards, 10 Academy of Country Music Awards, 10 American Music Awards, eight Dove Awards, five Country Music Assn. Awards, two People’s Choice Awards, and a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. He is also a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
Fans can trace the history of his career on his Web site, which now features videos, photos and media clips of Travis through the years.
Here’s the full track listing for “Anniversary Celebration”:
1. “Everything and All” featuring Brad Paisley
2. “A Few Ole Country Boys” featuring Jamey Johnson
3. “Forever and Ever, Amen” featuring Zac Brown Band
4. “He Walked On Water” featuring Kenny Chesney
5. “T.I.M.E.” featuring Josh Turner
6. “Love Looks Good On You” featuring Kristin Chenoweth
7. “Better Class of Losers/She’s Got The Rhythm (And I Got The Blues)” medley featuring Alan Jackson
8. “More Life” featuring Don Henley
9. “Can’t Hurt A Man” featuring Tim McGraw
10. “Promises” featuring Shelby Lynne
11. “Is it Still Over?” featuring Carrie Underwood
12. “Road To Surrender” featuring Kris Kristofferson & Willie Nelson
13. “Diggin’ Up Bones” featuring John Anderson
14. “Someone You Never Knew” featuring Eamonn McCrystal
15. “Too Much” featuring James Otto
16. “Didn’t We Shine” featuring George Jones, Lorrie Morgan, Ray Price, Connie Smith, Joe Stampley & Gene Watson
about the blogger
Veteran entertainment journalist Phyllis Stark has been reporting extensively on the music industry for two decades. As a freelance writer, her work appears regularly in numerous publications and sites. She previously was Nashville Bureau Chief at Billboard magazine.