Plus, New Albums From Exile, Casey James
• Trace Adkins will embark on a theater tour this spring. Dubbed the Songs & Stories Tour, it kicks off March 8 in Des Moines, Iowa, and is scheduled to run through May 17. The shows “will incorporate stories, both humorous and meaningful, that pay homage to Adkins’ working-man roots and rich musical heritage,” according to PR materials for the tour.
“I’ve had many narrow escapes and blessings in my life,” Adkins (right) says in a prepared statement. “The right song at the right time has been my saving grace, and that’s something I have in common with the audience. Sharing meaningful songs, stories and some laughs ‘around the campfire’ is the country music tradition and I’m looking forward to it.”
Fans can share their own stories, questions and the songs that have inspired or shaped their lives on the ‘Songs & Stories’ page at traceadkins.com.
• Brad Paisley’s welcomed Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow to the stage during a show in Denver over the weekend. Tebow joined Paisley (pictured at left) on a duet of “I’m Still A Guy,” while openers The Band Perry assumed the “Tebow” pose on stage in a humorous tribute. Later that evening Paisley tweeted: “Me and @TimTebow, probably not gonna be nominated for musical duo of the year, but you never know.”
• Rascal Flatts will be this year’s recipients of the annual Artist Humanitarian Award from a group representing country radio broadcasters nationwide. The award will be presented to the band’s Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney Feb. 22 in Nashville to honor their charitable contributions and humanitarian endeavors throughout their career.
• 1980s hit makers Exile (pictured at right) will release their first new studio project in 15 years when the five-song EP “People Get Ready” hits retailers Jan. 31. The band notched 10 No. 1 hits between 1983 and 1987, including “Woke Up In Love.” The forthcoming EP includes four new songs, plus an a capella remake of the Curtis Mayfield title cut. The EP was originally offered for sale in 2011 to fans that attended Exile concerts.
• “American Idol” finalist Casey James will release his self-titled debut album March 20. The Cool, Texas, native co-wrote nine of the eleven songs on the album, played both electric and acoustic guitar throughout the project, and also co-produced the set.
Says James in a press release, “I’m thankful that I had the freedom to make the record that represents me as a musician and singer-songwriter. I played eleven years of hard gigs in every bar and restaurant in North Texas, and not many people even knew my name . . . I’m very thankful to ‘American Idol’ for the opportunities the show gave me. I could’ve released a record right when the season was over, but I wanted to make an album deserving of all the fans that put me in this position. I feel like I’ve done that. And it feels good.”
Fire Doesn’t Stop The Show From Going On As Scheduled
KNIX Phoenix personality Barrel Boy checked in with One Country over the weekend to report that Lee Brice’s tour bus caught fire on Saturday (Jan. 21) outside of Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill in Mesa, Ariz.
“It is being reported that the fire started in the engine area of the bus,” Barrel Boy reports. “All parties involved are safe including Lee Brice and his band. Some of the reported losses are stage clothes and other miscellaneous gear.”
He also reports that the fire did not stop Brice from putting on “an insane, two-hour set in front of a sold out [crowd at] Toby’s.”
The pictures show the bus (with a trailer attached) on fire, above, and the aftermath at right. More photos are on the radio station’s Web site here.
Actress Wife Katherine Heigl Directed The Video Clip
Josh Kelley recently released his newest music video, “Naleigh Moon,” which prominently features the song’s namesake, his adorable three-year-old daughter. The video, which features home videos from Naleigh’s first years, was directed by Kelley’s wife, film and TV actress Katherine Heigl. She is also featured in the clip, which was shot in Los Angeles.
Kelley jokes that he enlisted his wife’s professional eye to lens the video because he knew she would do it for free. Watch it here.
‘Changed’ Was Co-Produced By The Band
Rascal Flatts announced today that they will release, “Changed,” their seventh studio album, on April 3. The band has once again teamed with their longtime producer, Dann Huff, who co-produced the set with the group’s Jay DeMarcus, Gary LeVox and Joe Don Rooney. No further details of the set were released beyond the album cover, title and release date.
The band is currently touring on its Thaw Out Tour.
Professional And Personal Status of The Duo Is Unclear
Steel Magnolia has exited the roster of Big Machine Records amid speculation that the duo has broken up professionally, and perhaps personally. CountryWeekly.com reports that a March 24 show at Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Greeneville, Tenn., has been canceled.
The venue’s executive director, Darrell Bryan, reportedly issued a press release stating, “It is our understanding that the duo is no longer performing together.”
The duo, consisting of Joshua Scott Jones and Meghan Linsey, landed their record deal with Big Machine after winning the CMT talent contest “Can You Duet” in 2009. The pair announced their engagement on CountryWeekly.com last summer, but more recently weathered Jones’ stint in rehab this past fall for substance abuse, which forced Linsey to open scheduled dates on the Reba McEntire tour without him.
CountryWeekly.com notes that Steel Magnolia's Twitter account has not included a new post from the duo since Jan. 6. On Dec. 30, and again on Jan. 5, they tweeted a note encouraging fans to follow them on their individual Twitter accounts. Also, on Jan. 6, Jones tweeted to a fan on his personal Twitter page, “I just moved into a new place.”
Singer Postpones Four Concert Dates; Miranda Lambert Reschedules Three
Sorry to report the passing of Blake Shelton’s father, Dick Shelton, this evening in Oklahoma. He was surrounded by loved ones when he died.
The elder Shelton had been in declining health this past year, but fans first became aware of his illness last month when his son mentioned it from the stage during his acceptance speech at the American Country Awards in Las Vegas.
As a result of his father’s death, Shelton has rescheduled four dates on his Well Lit & Amplified Tour: Rapid City, S.D. (1/19), Bismarck, N.D. (1/20), Billings, Mont. (1/21) and Bozeman, Mont. (1/22). All four shows have new dates in March.
“I appreciate your understanding during this difficult time and thank you for all your prayers,” Shelton said in a prepared statement. “Your support means the world to me. I love you guys.”
The Well Lit & Amplified Tour will resume with a scheduled date Jan. 26 in Columbus, Ga.
Shelton’s wife, Miranda Lambert, has also postponed this weekend’s shows on her current On Fire Tour due to the death of her father in law. Lambert has rescheduled Charlotte, N.C. (1/19), Lexington, Ky. (1/20), and Greensboro, N.C. (1/21) and will resume her tour Jan. 25 in Charlotte, N.C.
Said Lambert in a statement, “Thank you to the fans for all the support and prayers. This is a really difficult time for our family, and the most important thing is being together. Tell your loved ones you love them.”
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be mailed to: Unity Health Foundation,
Note "In memory of Mr. Dick Shelton," 1102 W. MacArthur, Shawnee, OK 74804.
Singer Helped Raise More Than $1.4 Million For The Hospital Last Year
As the winner of NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice,” country star John Rich earned more than $1.4 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital last year. That effort earned him the inaugural Randy Owen Angels Among Us Award Saturday night in Memphis at the conclusion of the Country Cares for St. Jude Kids seminar.
The award was presented to Rich by its namesake, Alabama frontman Randy Owen (pictured on the left), who founded the Country Cares program in 1989, mobilizing country radio stations nationwide host annual radiothons and other fundraisers for St. Jude. The stations’ efforts are strongly supported by country artists and the Nashville music industry, and the program has raised more than $400 million since its inception.
In his acceptance speech, Rich said, “You shouldn’t be getting an award for something you ought to be doing anyway.” He also noted that as someone who grew up in a trailer in Amarillo, Texas, he’s particularly inspired by the fact that St. Jude helps kids like he was “who wouldn’t be taken care of otherwise,” because St. Jude never charges families for its care.
In his sometimes humorous speech, Rich referred to “The Celebrity Apprentice” as a “land mine of a TV show,” but said while he was participating in it, “I bit my tongue daily, not because it is in my nature to do that, but I wasn’t playing for myself, I was playing for the kids of St. Jude. It would not sit well upon them if I turned into a redneck jerk.”
During his time on the show, Rich said, “The gasoline in my tank was the faces and stories I knew of St. Jude.”
Rich, who has a reputation as a bit of a bad boy, also said, “The best thing about his award is that when my sons Google me [in the future,] they’ll see a lot of crazy stuff, but they’ll also see this award.
The newly created Angels Among Us Award recognizes a member of the country music industry who demonstrates an immeasurable commitment and dedication to kids battling cancer and other deadly diseases at St. Jude.
“This past year John really embodied what Country Cares for St. Jude Kids is all about,” said Owen. “It’s really unbelievable to look back over the past 23 years and see what the country music industry has helped us accomplish for St. Jude. This award is a way for us to say thank you to select members of the industry for their continued commitment and support.”
St. Jude is celebrating its 50th anniversary of finding cures and saving children.
Singers Support The Country Cares For St. Jude Kids Fundraising Efforts
More than 30 country artists journeyed to Memphis late last week to tour St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, spend some time with patients, and also participate in the Country Cares For St. Jude Kids seminar taking place at the nearby Peabody Hotel. The annual seminar is organized to benefit the hundreds of country radio stations across the U.S. which host annual radiothons and other local fundraisers for St. Jude.
Among the artists attending this year’s event were: Kix Brooks, Martina McBride, Eli Young Band, Lauren Alaina, Lee Brice, Randy Houser, Edens Edge, Josh Thompson, Steve Holy, singer/actress Jana Kramer (pictured with St. Jude patient Emily), and Country Cares founder Randy Owen of the group Alabama. Nearly two dozen new and up and coming artists also participated in the seminar, where the keynote speaker was former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, author of the book “Lone Survivor.”
“There’s no way you can walk through the halls at St. Jude and not think of your own children,” said Martina McBride (pictured with St. Jude patient Leslie), in an interview following her tour. “I’m going to hug them a little tighter when I get home, I can tell you that,” she said of her three daughters. “This is such a wonderful place of hope. Anything that we [country artists] can do to help St. Jude we should just do it, because they are literally saving lives and finding new cures for cancer that they share with the whole world.”
“For me, St. Jude has always been very inspiring. These kids have no concept of not making it,” said Kix Brooks (pictured with St. Jude patient Christian) following his tour. “That inspires me, and it makes [me] realize I’ve got a responsibility to make sure it happens, that these kids make it.
“This is the thing people have to remember: This is not a desperate, sad place,” Brooks added. “If anything, these kids are so strong and they have hope.”
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.