Plus, news from Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and more
• Country Music Hall of Famer Ray Price took to social media on Monday to let fans know that he’d been hospitalized for what he described as “severe dehydration.”
“Doctors are pouring the fluids to me and I am feeling much better,” the two-time Grammy Award winner wrote. “I have asked my wife, Janie, to keep you all posted. Thanks for your prayers and support.”
The 87-year-old singer confirmed last fall that he was battling pancreatic cancer. At the time, he quipped to the San Antonio Express-News, “The doctor said that every man will have cancer if he lives to be old enough. I don't know why I got it—I ain’t old.”
The past February, the singer said the cancer was in remission.
• Keith Urban released his new single “Little Bit Of Everything” this week, and will premiere it on “American Idol” May 16 during the season 12 finale on FOX. Urban served as a first-time judge on this season of “Idol.” The song is the first from Urban’s forthcoming album, due for release this fall. Listen to it here.
“‘Little Bit Of Everything’ conveys a sentiment that’s always felt right to me,” said Urban in a media release. “I connected with that from the first time I heard it. I ‘felt it’ and I loved it.
“I gravitate towards the sound of a song and its instrumentation,” adds Urban of the song written by Brad and Brett Warren and Kevin Rudolf and co-produced by Urban and Nathan Chapman (Taylor Swift). “On this song I was able to take the elements of sound that I’ve used before and blend them together into a fusion of spirit and energy.”
• Brad Paisley opened his Beat This Summer Tour this past weekend, and played for more than 62,000 fans at amphitheatres in St. Louis, Indianapolis and Chicago. After the show in Indianapolis, Paisley rented a nearby theater in Noblesville, Ind., and treated the tour artists, bands and crew to a midnight showing of “Ironman 3” in 3D, including opening acts Chris Young, Lee Brice and The Henningsens.
• Collin Raye (right) will embark on his national “That’s My Story” tour May 18 in Warsaw, Ind. He is booked for 19 performances between that date and the tour’s end on Dec. 6.
• The first round of performers has been announced for the 2013 CMT Music Awards, and includes Hunter Hayes, Little Big Town, Luke Bryan, Pistol Annies and Taylor Swift. The show, hosted by Jason Aldean and Kristen Bell, will be telecast on CMT June 5 at 8 p.m. (ET/PT). Additional performers and presenters will be announced in the coming weeks.
• Twenty-year-old newcomer Joel Crouse (left) made his Grand Ole Opry debut May 11. The Massachusetts-born singer/songwriter performed his self-penned debut single, “If You Want Some” and “That’s Why God Made Love Songs,” and says of the performance, “it was the first time I’ve truly felt like a part of the country music community.”
He also got some advice from an Opry member, Darius Rucker, who told him, “It’ll be surreal” and advised him to “take it all in cause you won’t get another first time.” Says Crouse of the advice, “I really took that to heart.”
Crouse joins Taylor Swift's Red Tour as an opening act beginning May 28 in Glendale, Ariz.
• The Grand Ole Opry House has added an exhibit of memorabilia and costumes from the ABC drama “Nashville” to its backstage tours.
Charles (Chip) Esten, who plays Deacon Claybourne on the series, hosts a video as part of the exhibit in Studio A of the Opry House. Studio A has been seen in the series’ first season as both a rehearsal hall used by character Rayna Jaymes ((portrayed by actress Connie Britton) and the site of a political fundraiser.
The exhibit also features a sequined dress worn by Juliette Barnes (portrayed by actress Hayden Panettiere) for her Opry debut in the first episode of the series, an outfit worn by Rayna, Barnes’ Gretsch White Falcon guitar, plus road cases, microphones, backstage passes, and laminates created for the “Red Lips White Lies Tour” featuring co-headliners Barnes and Jaymes.
Three limited edition cans help fans unlock behind-the-scenes band content
In the 2009 hit “Toes,” the Zac Brown Band sings about having “toes in the water, ass in the sand, not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand.” The band may not be able to help fans with the sand or water, but it aims to get that cold beer into their mitts by lending its name to Landshark Lager for a series of three, limited edition, 16-ounce cans. The first can design is already on store shelves, with two more set to roll out June 17 and Aug. 5.
“We’re always looking for new ways to connect with our fans,” says bandleader Brown in a media statement. “We give them our all on stage every night and we hope the Landshark cans will give them another way to enjoy good times with us this summer.”
The promotion extends to Landshark’s Facebook Page, which will offer new content as each can is released. That content includes digital challenges that unlock new band features, as well as a national sweepstakes where one fan and three friends can win a VIP trip to the Zac Brown Band’s Southern Ground Music & Food Festival in Nashville Sept. 27-28.
There’s also a related smart phone app that gives fans access to exclusive, behind-the-scenes band content by scanning the can. Each of the three can designs will yield different content.
The first can (pictured) was inspired by the band’s “Eat & Greets,” where fans who pay for the experience can dine with the band and crew prior to each show, eating Southern cuisine prepared by Southern Ground executive chef Rusty Hamlin. The design also includes Brown’s face and lyrics from the band’s first hit, “Chicken Fried.”
Subsequent can designs will highlight the concert experience from the band’s perspective, and a look at what happens after the stage lights go down.
Singer’s seventh album is also his most personal
Dierks Bentley has announced plans for a new album—his seventh—to be released in the fall. Titled “Riser,” the album is being described as his most personal to date, as it was written and recorded in the year following his father’s death last June.
The title comes from the album track “I’m A Riser,” being described as “a song about resilience and determination.” The album’s central themes include rejuvenation, and accepting change and growing from it.
“Life in general has a way of knocking you down,” Bentley says in a press release statement. “It’s different reasons for different folks—could be personal reasons, could be family reasons, your job, drugs, alcohol. That song really applies to anybody that’s lived. There have always been those moments when we have to get back up and get on our feet. They are defining moments . . . breakthrough moments.”
For this album, Bentley made some changes to his creative team, re-enlisting executive producer Arturo Buenahora Jr., who worked on Bentley’s first two albums; and hiring producer Ross Copperman, who co-wrote “Tip It On Back” for Bentley’s last album “Home.” The album’s vocals were recorded in a variety of locations, including some on Bentley’s tour bus and others at Copperman’s home.
“It was important to get out of the studio and sing in different places, and to do it with other people in the room,” says Bentley. “That way, you have an audience and you get a sense of what’s working, what’s not working, when it’s feeling good, not feeling good. It brings a little more emotion and energy out of your voice.”
Watch a short trailer on “Riser,” narrated by Bentley, here.
Network renews the drama “Nashville,” set in Music City
Reba McEntire’s ABC sitcom “Malibu Country” has been cancelled by the network after just one season, according to Zap2It.com and other media outlets. In happier news, ABC has renewed the music-filled drama “Nashville” for a second season.
McEntire starred in “Mailbu Country” as a woman who moves her family from Nashville to Malibu after her husband, a country music star, cheats on her. While in California, she tries to re-start her own singing career while raising two teenagers. Lily Tomlin co-starred as the mother of McEntire’s character.
The singer and her husband and manager, Narvel Blackstock, were executive producers of the show, along with musician Dave Stewart of the duo Eurythmics, who also created the series.
McEntire had better luck with her previous series, “Reba,” which had a similar premise and ran from 2001 to 2007 on the WB for its first five seasons, and The CW in its final year.
The more successful “Nashville,” meanwhile, is a nighttime soap set in the country music business and starring Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere as country music star rivals.
Singer premiered “Highway Don’t Care” at a Nashville event this week
Tim McGraw unveiled his cinematic new video for “Highway Don't Care” earlier this week at a video premiere event in Nashville that was also available to fans as a Google+ Hangout live stream.
McGraw and director Shane Drake addressed the audience at the Belcourt Theatre and answered questions from fans watching on Google+. Also in attendance in the theater were staffers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center and it’s LifeFlight helicopter team, who feature prominently in the dramatic clip in which McGraw portrays a Vanderbilt surgeon. Fans will enjoy seeing his transformed look as the singer dons scubs for his acting role.
An horrific accident portrayed in the video’s theatrical storyline begins with a young woman dropping her phone on the floor of her car, then swerving as she reaches for it—with catastrophic results. McGraw said the crash idea was suggested by his oldest daughter, 16-year-old Gracie, who had just gotten her driver’s license on the morning of the video event. One other of McGraw’s three daughters is also nearing driving age.
Speaking about texting and driving, McGraw said, “I have two teenage daughters, and it certainly became an issue to me.”
Adding a special poignancy, the actress who portrays the crash victim in the video spoke in a behind the scenes clip about how she lost her boyfriend to a drinking and driving related accident in high school.
Drake also spoke about the challenges of filming McGraw and his guests on the record, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, who were all in separate cities, then combining their performances into a cohesive whole. He did so with creative touches, including having Swift’s image appear on shards of broken mirror glass at the crash site.
“This video is really more of a short film, and I think it will surprise everyone and hopefully leave a strong impression,” said McGraw in a press release issued prior to the video’s debut.
Watch the video here.
Singer to begin work on a new album for Thirty Tigers
Texas-based singer/songwriter Sunny Sweeney has signed with Nashville independent record label Thirty Tigers Records and is set to begin working on her next album. She previously recorded for Republic Nashville, and released two previous albums, “Heartbreaker’s Hall of Fame” and “Concrete.”
She landed three songs on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, including the top 10 “From A Table Away” in 2010, and two more that peaked in the 30s.
Earlier this year, the native of Longview, Texas, was nominated for an Academy of Country Music award for new female vocalist of the year, an award ultimately won by Jana Kramer.
The 12-year-old Thirty Tigers is a marketing and distribution company that has served as a label infrastructure for a client base including The Avett Brothers, Flogging Molly, Ryan Bingham, Jason Isbell, Trampled By Turtles and Elizabeth Cook.
Singer’s Whiskey Row set to open July 4 in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Arizona native Dierks Bentley is branching out into the bar and restaurant business, with plans to open Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row in Scottsdale, Ariz., on July 4.
Press materials describe the venue as a “throwback 1920’s style saloon with a modern country vibe.” It is located in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale’s entertainment district on the appropriately country-named street North Saddlebag Trail.
The menu of pub cuisine will feature organic meats and locally farmed produce. The bar will have 40 different kinds of whiskey.
“Opening a bar in my hometown is something I’ve always wanted to do,” says Bentley in a press release statement. He says his partners, who are local restaurateurs, have “spent a lot of time and put a lot of thought into really cool details that will make it the perfect place to watch a game or listen to music or just get a few drinks with friends. I’m looking forward to helping break it in.”
According to press materials, the venue will have “an old school country flare with a Scottsdale twist. With warm wood surroundings, the venue features a 360-degree stage and massive 24 ft. TV . . . Whiskey Row boasts a state of the art HDMI video system managed by iPad technology which can control the video and sound from anywhere in the room. As an added benefit to guests, Whiskey Row will offer iPhone and USB charging stations available at the bar. Each premiere booth will feature three different beer taps and, never before seen in Arizona, a liquor tap. These hi-tech taps will allow guests to pour their own beer and shots right at the table with no waiting.”
Bentley is currently out on the road with Miranda Lambert for their Locked & Reloaded Tour through October.
Plus, high chart debuts for Kenny Chesney and Randy Rogers Band
• Taylor Swift, who is spending her spring and summer headlining sold-out stadiums and arenas in North America on her Red Tour, has announced that she’ll be taking the tour overseas later this year, with stops planned in Australia and New Zealand. Taylor will perform stadium shows in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, as well as an arena date in Auckland, all between Nov. 29 and Dec. 14.
Swift will reportedly be the first solo female artist in 20 years to undertake a national stadium tour of Australia, with the last being Madonna’s Girlie Show tour in 1993.
• Kenny Chesney’s “Life On A Rock” debuts at No. 1 on Billboard’s all-genre Top Albums chart and No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Albums chart this week with nearly 153,000 copies sold. It’s his seventh chart-topping album on the all-genre chart, and first since “Hemingway’s Whiskey” debuted at No. 1 in 2010. The new album’s debut surpasses the No. 2 peak of his last album, 2012’s “Welcome To The Fishbowl.” It is his 12th No. 1 on the Country Albums chart.
Another country act, Randy Rogers Band, has the only other top 10 debut this week, as “Trouble” enters at No. 9 on the Top Albums chart and No. 3 on Country Albums with 26,000 units sold. It is the band’s second consecutive top 10 debut on the all-genre chart, following the No. 8 “Burning The Day” in 2010. On the country chart, it’s the group’s third consecutive top three debut.
• Atlantic Records’ newcomer Brett Eldredge will release his debut album August 6. The album will include his current top 25 hit single, “Don’t Ya,” and his debut single “Raymond.”
Eldredge, an Illinois native, is currently opening for Taylor Swift on 19 dates of her Red Tour, including a packed stadium this past Saturday at Detroit’s Ford Field.
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.