Artists To Perform At PBS’ ‘In Performance At The White House’
The White House press office has announced the talent line-up for PBS’ latest “In Performance at the White House” event, this one featuring a mostly country theme.
Taping Nov. 21 in the East Room of the White House, “Country Music: In Performance at the White House,” will feature performances from Dierks Bentley, Darius Rucker, Kris Kristofferson, Alison Krauss, Lyle Lovett, the Band Perry, Lauren Alaina, pop music icon James Taylor, and an unknown artist named Mickey. President and Mrs. Obama will host the event.
The hour-long show will air Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS stations nationwide. It will also be streamed live on Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. (ET) at www.whitehouse.gov/live and pbs.org/whitehouse. The program will also be broadcast at a later date via the American Forces Network to American service men and women and civilians at U.S. Department of Defense locations around the world.
In addition to the evening concert, the afternoon of the concert taping the White House will host “The History of Country Music: From Barn Dances to Pop Charts,” an educational workshop for middle and high school students in the State Dining Room. The event will be produced by The Grammy Museum and led by its executive director, Robert Santelli. He will be joined by some of the artists from the evening concert, who will share their personal experiences of country music and answer students’ questions. The White House “The History of Country Music” workshop will be streamed live on www.whitehouse.gov andwww.grammymuseum.org.
Brad Paisley’s New Book Is A Hit
Two very different country artists, Dolly Parton and Eric Church, now have something in common. Both released new books just in time for holiday gift-giving season.
Parton’s gift book, “The Quotable Dolly: A Collection of Rich Sayings To Live, Love and Laugh By From The Country Music Legend,” offers a sampling of Parton’s wit and wisdom, including some of her best quips and philosophical quotes, along with photographs of the singer, songwriter, and actress, from various stages of her life and career.
The 80-page collection includes such Parton bon mots as this: “People always ask me, ‘What do you want people to say about you one hundred years from now?’ I want them to say, ‘Dang, don’t she look good for her age?’”
Part of the proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit the Imagination Library, the non-profit organization Parton founded to promote early childhood literacy.
As a gift for his fans, Church just released a limited edition, hardcover photo book, “Eric Church: A Song To Sing,” that includes more that 350 exclusive photos spanning his career. Only a limited number are available for order at ericchurch.com, and some fans who order it will randomly receive an autographed copy
Church says the book is made up of “basically photos of behind the scenes stuff, and throughout our entire career . . . from small clubs to big places . . . behind the scenes bus stuff and footage and photos that we had that were some of our favorite photos that were laying around the house or laying around the office.” Adds Church, “There’s commentary by myself and some other people in there, and we’re offering it to the fans. They’re the reason we’re here, or the reason we’ve had the success we’ve had. This is kind of a look back from where we’ve arrived at with ‘Chief’ [being] the No. 1 record. This is a look back at how we got here.”
In related news, Brad Paisley’s new book, “Diary Of A Player,” has been on the New York Times best-seller list for two consecutive weeks since its release on Nov. 1. The book pays tribute to the guitar heroes in Paisley’s life.
Rodney Atkins, Lauren Alaina To Light Up The Holidays
• Taylor Swift will be profiled this Sunday, November 20 on CBS News’ “60 Minutes.” The segment includes concert and backstage footage from Swift’s Speak Now World Tour, and correspondent Lesley Stahl’s report also offers viewers a candid conversation with Swift (pictured at left), as well as a first-ever glimpse inside her Nashville condominium. An advance clip from the show is online now here. The full profile will be posted online at www.60minutes.com immediately after the show airs.
• Readers of Country Weekly magazine have voted Trace Adkins (right) as Country’s Sexiest Man. He’ll appear on the magazine cover in the issue on stands on Friday, Nov. 18. To thank those who voted, Adkins is making a live version of his new single, “Million Dollar View,” available for a free download on both TraceAdkins.com and CountryWeekly.com, beginning today. Adkins calls the romantic song his “get out of jail card” with his wife.
• Rodney Atkins will perform at the 2011 National Christmas Tree Lighting festivities on December 1 at President’s Park in Washington, D.C. Atkins will join television and radio personality Carson Daly, who is hosting the event, as well as fellow performers OneRepublic and Marsha Ambrosius. The evening will also feature a special appearance by Kermit the Frog. Additional performers for the event are still to be announced. The ceremony can be viewed live online at www.thenationaltree.org beginning at 4:30 p.m. (EST), and can also be seen on public television throughout the month of December.
• Lauren Alaina (left) will help Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis kick off the holiday season by “flipping the switch” for the annual lighting celebration on Friday, Nov. 18. The kickoff to Graceland’s holiday celebration will be broadcast live on Elvis.com at 6:00 p.m. (CST).
The extensive display will include hundreds of blue lights along the driveway, a life-size nativity scene, Santa and his sleigh and other decorations originally displayed at Graceland by Elvis and the Presley family.
Set Is A Mix Of Standards And Vassar-Penned Originals
Phil Vassar is readying the release of his first holiday CD, titled “Noel.” The 10-cut collection includes five original songs and five holiday classics.
“I’ve always dreamed of making a Christmas record,” Vassar said in a press release. “From the time I was a boy-listening to Nat King Cole, Andy Williams, Bing Crosby and all the classic singers, I’ve wanted to do this.”
The original songs include “Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas Without You,” which Vassar wrote with the album’s co-producer, Dane Bryant. Texas swing artist Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel guests on “Big Ole Texas Christmas.” The irreverent “Santa’s Gone Hollywood” envisions St. Nick’s life if he hit the lottery and moved to Los Angeles. Another song, “I Saved Christmas,” was penned by Vassar solo. The fifth song is “Let’s Make A Little Christmas Tonight.”
Standards included on the set are “What Child Is This,” an “Oh Come All Ye Faithful/Angels We Have Heard On High” medley, plus “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” “Away In A Manger” (a duet with singer Kellys Collins) and The Carpenters’ “Merry Christmas Darling.”
The album will be available at all digital retailers, at PhilVassar.com and at his concerts beginning November 22.
All-Star Cast Headlines ‘CMA Country Christmas'
The Country Music Assn. recently taped its second “CMA Country Christmas” special in Nashville, and it’s set to air Dec. 1 from 9-11 p.m. (ET) on the ABC Television Network. Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles (pictured) is returning as host.
Artists who will perform on the holiday special and share Christmas songs and stories are “American Idol” finalist Lauren Alaina and winner Scotty McCreery, plus Amy Grant, Faith Hill, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Kellie Pickler, Rascal Flatts, Darius Rucker, former Stray Cats member Brian Setzer, Sugarland, Keith Urban and Vince Gill in a duet with Muppet Miss Piggy that, at least at the show’s taping, ended in some heavy hog smooching.
Performing Title Track On ‘Jimmy Fallon’ This Week
Dierks Bentley will release his sixth album, “Home,” on Feb. 7, 2012
The title song has already been released to country radio and iTunes. The album also contains his last hit single, “Am I The Only One,” which he performed at last spring’s Academy of Country Music Awards.
“This album is more than a year’s worth of writing, recording and testing out material on the road in front of our hard core fans,” Bentley says in a prepared statement. “The end result is an album that runs through all the types of country songs and sounds I enjoy singing and playing. I can’t wait to share it with the fans!”
Bentley will perform “Home” on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” this Thursday/Friday at 11:35P CT/12:35P ET. He’ll wrap the first leg of his headlining “Country & Cold Cans” tour this weekend. The tour will resume in February 2012, with dates already scheduled in Canada and Australia.
McGraw Says Tour Mates Will ‘Make Each Other Better’
It’ll be black hat vs. straw hat when Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney hit the road together for next year’s Brothers of the Sun tour, an outing their publicists are already helpfully calling the “musical event of 2012.”
The 19-date stadium tour kicks off June 2, 2012 in Tampa, Fla., and runs through Aug. 25, where it wraps in Foxboro, Mass.
Brothers of the Sun will be the first time in 10 years that Chesney and McGraw have toured together. The tour will also feature opening acts rock band Grace Potter & The Nocturnals and country singer Jake Owen.
Chesney will close the shows, he tells Billboard.biz. “Technically I am closing, but Tim and I are going to give the fans their money’s worth,” Chesney says. “If I was being correct about it, I’d say me and Tim are closing. We’re going to try and change it up every night, have as much fun as we possibly can.”
McGraw, who has been friends with Chesney since they were both new artists in the early ’90s, tells Billboard.biz there is a competitive aspect to the relationship. “We’re great friends, but we're also competitive guys, too,” he says. “We played basketball when we were on tour last time, his guys against my guys, and got in heated competitions. Of course, you know we kicked their ass. But he’s a great competitor, as am I . . . The fun we'll have pushing each other [on tour], I think we’re going to make each other better."
“Tim and I have been great friends since we first toured together, and I can’t wait to get back on the road with him,” Chesney said in a press release announcing the tour. “He’s one of my closest friends in music and in life, and I know this tour is going to be something special.”
“Our friendship was forged on the road, so it’s going to be a blast heading out with Kenny again,” added McGraw. “We'll be having as much fun on stage as the fans will be having in the audience.”
Tickets for shows in Dallas, Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Chicago; East Rutherford, N.J.; Detroit; and Foxboro will go on sale December 3 through Ticketmaster. On-sale info for the remaining dates will be announced in the coming weeks.
Tells Fans 'You Have Made My Year'
After the show, Swift told the media, "The reason why we celebrate like we just won the Superbowl is because there are some many people involved in making something like this happen."
On her songwriting, Swift said, "The most amazing feeling is to see a song start out as an idea that hits you in the middle of your day and haunts you until you write it, and then you’re playing it in your living room, and then it goes out into the world and you can look out at a crowd of 50,000 people and they’re singing it back to you.
"You spend so much time daydreaming about your future and it’s a blast to call it a career."
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.