Stars’ Adventures At Nashville Festival Recalled
As the CMA Music Festival readies for kickoff in Nashville this week, publicists who work closely with the top country stars are bracing themselves for the marathon of non-stop events they’ll help guide their celebrity clients through. The industry Web site Radio-Info.com reached out to a handful of publicists to the stars and asked them to share their most memorable experiences at the festival and its predecessor, Fan Fair.
Jason Aldean’s publicist, Mary Hilliard Harrington, shared one hilarious story involving a likeness of her client.
“One year, either the CMA or Chevy had made cardboard standup cutouts of all the artists in their annual calendar and placed them around downtown,” she says. “When I went into [downtown bar] The Stage for an afternoon show, Jason Aldean’s cutout was positioned right outside of the bar on Broadway. When I came out, a group of female fans had taken it behind the alley and were taking pictures with it in compromising positions. I couldn’t even rescue him, it was too far gone.”
Publicist Martha Moore shares a frightening one. “Back in 1978 or 1979, I remember being in our booth at Municipal Auditorium with Loretta Lynn,” she says. “Fans were lined up way past the next three booths. They were so anxious to get close enough for photos and an autograph with her that the table started to move and nearly crushed us. We were both up against the back wall of the booth. Security was called, but Loretta kept her smile and [kept] signing for the fans. A consummate professional! Pretty scary, though, for the two of us.”
Publicist Karen Tallier remembers being tasked with escorting Brad Paisley to a radio event at Planet Hollywood. “We were running a bit behind after he finished, and Brad was worried he was not going to make it to the Opry on time,” she says. “Instead of waiting for his car to come and pick us up, Brad decided to walk up the street to meet the car that was stuck in traffic.
“The minute we walked outside, fans noticed him,” she continues. “They swarmed around Brad asking for autographs. In heels, in the rain, walking uphill, I had to try and act as bodyguard. Brad gracefully signed autographs while walking. I wasn’t sure if we were ever going to make it to the car that was just up the block. We eventually did, and the fans followed the car.”
While this one isn’t about one of his own clients, Nashville publicist Craig Campbell says, “I remember seeing Billy Ray Cyrus’ handlers trying to get him through the crowd. One of his bodyguards wrapped Billy Ray’s mullet around his hand several times to keep fans from grabbing it.”
And Heather Conley shares a story about artist Sarah Buxton from the first time she played the downtown Riverfront Stage. “She was so excited as she launched into her set,” Conley recalls. “About the second song, she flung off her shoes. The stage was black, and it was particularly hot that day. I could see when she turned away from crowd that her face looked like she was in excruciating pain! She finished out her set and her soles were burnt to a crisp. She couldn’t [or] wouldn’t stop the show to put them back on.”
Artists Team Up For Creedence’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?”
Alan Jackson recently recorded a song with rock legend John Fogerty for the latter’s upcoming duets album. The pair teamed up for the classic song “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” by Fogerty’s former band, Creedence Clearwater Revival.
“I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t know what to expect going in,” Jackson tells One Country. “It actually turned out really cool. I was very proud of it.
“I think we’re just now getting it kind of finished up, but the rough mix I heard was really nice. I like it.”
As for Fogerty, Jackson says, “I’m a big fan of his voice, and he wrote some great, classic stuff.”
Gillian Welch And Steve Earle Also Earned Multiple Nominations
The Americana Music Association has revealed the nominees for its Americana Honors & Awards, and artist Jason Isbell leads the pack with four nominations, including three with his band, the 400 Unit. Gillian Welch is close behind with three nominations, including artist of the year, a category in which Isbell is also represented. Steve Earle earned two nominations and his son, Justin Townes Earle, scored one.
Actor John C. Reilly (pictured) announced the nominations at Thursday’s press conference, hosted by Jim Lauderdale at The Grammy Museum’s Clive Davis Theatre in Los Angeles.
The awards show will be held Sept. 12 at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Lauderdale will host the show again this year, while Buddy Miller will again lead an all-star band. Here are the nominees:
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
“Here We Rest” - Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
“I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive” - Steve Earle
“The Harrow & The Harvest” - Gillian Welch
“This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark” - Various Artists
ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Justin Townes Earle
EMERGING ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Deep Dark Woods
SONG OF THE YEAR
“Alabama Pines” – Written by Jason Isbell and performed by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
"Come Around" - Written and performed by Sarah Jarosz
“I Love” – Written by Tom T. Hall and performed by Patty Griffin
“Waiting on the Sky to Fall” – Written and performed by Steve Earle
INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR
DUO / GROUP OF THE YEAR
Carolina Chocolate Drops
Gillian Welch and David Rawlings
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
His Record Label Claims Dunn “Killed” His Own Single With His Posts
The outspoken Ronnie Dunn has apparently caused a bit of friction with his record company, Sony’s Arista Nashville, over some recent posts on his Facebook fan page. But did he really kill his own single, as the label allegedly claims?
As radio industry publication Radio-Info.com reports, the trouble started on May 14, when Dunn posted two comments to his fans asking them to weigh in on what his next single should be.
But the next day, Dunn posted this message: “Got a call from Sony today . . . said that my FB post killed the ‘Let The Cowboy Rock’ single. Holy sh*t, I didn’t know people in the music business read this stuff!”
Later that day, in response to some angry-toned comments from fans, Dunn clarified with another, post: “There are NO ‘bad guys’ here . . . It’s just not working . . . for whatever reason . . . yet. IT WILL. The Sony promo team is giving it their all. They’re a good bunch.”
By the next week, Dunn’s long-struggling single was, in fact, finished, with significant drops in position on both national radio charts.
Dunn quickly took to social media to campaign for his album cut, “Once,” to be the next single, and he took his message directly to radio programmers.
“Hey, radio . . . will you start playing ‘Once?’” he asked. “If a FB post can kill a single, then maybe it can get one to the top? . . . Just sneak it in on your lunch break. My name is Ronnie Dunn and I approve this message!”
Arista Nashville declined to comment on the situation, but Dunn had plenty more to say to Radio-Info.com.
“Over the years, I’ve come realize that the fans are just as savvy as most record executives when it comes to what music they like and don’t like to hear,” he said. “Why wouldn’t I want their input? Ultimately, they decide whether a record is going to be a success or not.
“Up until last week, my last single, ‘Let The Cowboy Rock,’ had been stuck at No. 31 on one radio chart for two months and counting. I did everything that my record label asked me to do to help them promote the song. We were seeing minimal response to our effort.
“I turned to my fans on Facebook, knowing that the label follows my posts, and asked them to pick a song for consideration as a next single. There was an immediate and enormously positive reaction to a song titled ‘Once.’
“A representative from the label’s promotion department called me early the next morning to inform me that my Facebook post had ‘killed the current single’s momentum at radio.’
“My reaction is this: If a Facebook post can kill a single at radio, then why can’t fans from Facebook (or any other significant social media platform) propel a song to the top of the charts?”
No word yet from Sony on what Dunn’s next radio single will be.
Plus, News From Kenny Chesney, George Jones, Luke Bryan And More
• Hank Williams, Jr.’s Facebook page has now surpassed one million “likes.” To celebrate, Williams is offering a free download of his new single “That Ain’t Good,” which is available through midnight on Memorial Day at www.hankjr.com. The song is from his upcoming album, “Old School, New Rules,” due out July 10.
“I have the most loyal fans and that’s what makes my job so easy,” Williams says. “I only do 20-25 shows a year and my fans love the music. The best way to celebrate with them is to offer a free download of my new single this holiday weekend.”
• Country Music Hall of Fame member George Jones, who was re-admitted to a Nashville area hospital on May 21 for a continuing battle with a persistent upper respiratory infection, was released on May 26 and is resting at home.
“I can’t thank my friends and fans enough for all their support,” says Jones. “[Wife] Nancy has got me a new team of doctors to help me get through this, and it seems to be working. I look forward to seeing everyone soon.”
• Luke Bryan will perform for a romantic date in the third episode of “The Bachelorette,” which airs May 28. During this one-on-on date in the streets of downtown Charlotte, N.C., Bryan will perform his current single, “Drunk On You,” and his No. 1 hit “Do I.” “The Bachelorette” airs at 8 p.m. (ET) Monday on ABC.
• Kenny Chesney is expanding his partnership with sunglasses manufacturer Costa with the introduction of five new designs featuring Chesney’s signature and palm tree logo on the inside of the frames. Five percent of the proceeds benefit Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) and its marine conservation efforts. The partnership with Chesney, which launched in 2011, has raised more than $50,000 for CCA to date.
• Jo Dee Messina’s humorous parenting blog, “The Fumbling Mom,” has been picked up for periodic publication by Nashville’s daily newspaper, The Tennessean, where it will run in the family section of the print and online versions of the paper. Messina launched the blog in January.
Project HomeFront Will Award 25 Homes During His Summer Tour
On his tour with Kenny Chesney this summer, Tim McGraw will be helping to give away 25 mortgage-free homes to wounded warriors and service members in need as part of a newly launched, nationwide program called HomeFront.
To kick off the program, McGraw will perform a Memorial Day concert for service members at New York’s Beacon Theatre during Fleet Week. The show will be streamed live via YouTube and to military bases around the world on The Pentagon Channel.
“My sister’s a veteran of the first Gulf War. My uncle was a Vietnam veteran and my grandfather was a World War II veteran,” McGraw says in a press release. “I’ve always felt a deep sense of respect and obligation to our troops. Being able to reward them for their dedicated work with a new home will be even more rewarding for us. It feels so good to give back to them, and to have the opportunity to entertain them on Memorial Day is something I’m honored to do.”
McGraw and Chesney’s Brothers of the Sun stadium tour kicks off June 2 in Tampa, Fla.
Catches Up With Winner Dario Franchitti
Martina McBride performed the national anthem at Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 race, and met with the day’s big winner, driver Dario Franchitti, who raced into Victory Lane for the third time in his career. But just before the green flag was waved at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, McBride gave a stirring rendition of the anthem in pre-race ceremonies in front of nearly 350,000 spectators.
In honor of the late Dan Wheldon, who won the Indy 500 last year before his untimely death, McBride wore a Dan Wheldon championship ring on her right hand during her performance.
“I felt so excited and proud to be performing our anthem, especially since I was surrounded by so many of our military men and women,” McBride said in a prepared release. “I was also wearing the championship ring from Dan Wheldon’s win last year and that was really special. It was an honor to be a part of the tradition of the Indianapolis 500.”
McBride is pictured with Franchitti, right, and the head of her record company, Scott Borchetta, left.
Singer Performs “Set Fire To The Rain” On Upcoming “CMT Unplugged” Show
He recently filmed the episode at CMT’s Nashville studio. In addition to “Set Fire To The Rain,” the set list includes current single “5-1-5-0,” as well as past hits “Am I The Only One,” “Up On The Ridge,” and “Home.”
“I love breaking my songs back down to their original acoustic foundation,” says Bentley about performing on the “Unplugged” series. “When I write these songs by myself or with friends, we just use acoustic guitars . . . so it’s fun to sometimes go back to just the simple groove and idea you had to begin with.”
Check out an exclusive first look at Bentley’s version of "Set Fire To The Rain” here, and tune in to CMT.com to watch the whole show, which debuts on Tuesday, May 29 at 2 p.m. (ET). It will also be televised as a 30-minute special on CMT June 25 at 10 a.m. (ET/PT), and on CMT Pure also on June 25 at 9 p.m. (ET/PT).
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