Some Potential New Christmas Faves Are On The Playlist
With less than four weeks to go until Christmas, country artists have begun sending a steady stream of new Christmas singles to radio stations and digital retailers. Here’s a list of some of our favorite new holiday singles (so far).
• Little Big Town, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”
Yes, this vocal group could sing the phone book and make it sound gorgeous, but their harmonies really shine on this Christmas chestnut with the ladies of the band taking center stage, particularly Karen Fairchild, who sings lead. They’ll perform it on Thursday’s night’s “CMA Country Christmas,” airing at 9 p.m. (ET/PT) on ABC Television Network.
• Toby Keith and Sammy Hagar, “Santa’s Going South”
Keith teams with rocker Hagar for this lightweight but fun holiday romp. With lyrics that reference jet skis, margaritas and palm trees, Keith sings, “I’m packing my tank tops, my board shorts and my flip flops/Take a first class nonstop down Mexico way/Santa’s going South for Christmas.”
• Craig Campbell, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”
The singer of the tongue in cheek single “Fish” and the hit “Family Man” takes on more traditional material here with a straightforward reading of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” A portion of the proceeds from downloads of the single benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. The video features his wife and two daughters, Watch it here.
• Jerrod Niemann, “One More Drinkin’ Song (Mistletoe Mix)”
Niemann freshens up his current top 20 single with some cute new lyrics referencing Christmas lights, retail check-out lines, elves, malls, yuletide logs, eggnog, mistletoe (naturally), and even yellow snow.
• Phil Vassar, “Santa’s Gone Hollywood”
Phil Vassar has sent four tracks from his new holiday album, “Noel,” to country radio including three originals he co-wrote: “Santa’s Gone Hollywood,” the jazzy “Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas Without You,” and “Big Ol Texas Christmas,” the latter featuring vocals from Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson. Also included is Vassar’s take on the standard “What Child Is This.” In “Santa’s Gone Hollywood,” the jolly old elf wins the powerball and leaves the North Pole to Rudolph and the tooth fairy as he heads to California where he gets himself a “deep dark tan” and courtside seats at Lakers games, and throws parties at the “Kringle crib.” The more bawdy lyrics reference “blue pills” plus a “new rack” and a “Brazilian” for Mrs. Claus. Good luck getting that image out of your head.
• Joey + Rory, “Remember Me” and “Let It Snow (Somewhere Else)”
Two very different originals from the husband and wife duo have been sent to country radio from Joey + Rory’s new Christmas album, “A Farmhouse Christmas.” The first, “Remember Me” is a tender song told from the perspective of Jesus, with a reminder of the reason for the season. Meanwhile, “Let It Snow (Somewhere Else)” is a swinging number about a holiday vacation with mojitos, Christmas lights on a palm tree, Jimmy Buffett and “caroling bar to bar.”
• Lucy Angel, “Mr. Santa”
You may not be familiar with this family trio, which has been trying to make a dent at country radio for years, but their delightful re-make of the standard “Mr. Sandman” is worth a listen. The mother and two daughters deliver the two–minute track in three-part harmony.
Groom Appeared In Band’s ‘Want To’ Video In 2006
Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles married entrepreneur Justin Miller, her boyfriend of more than two years, Nov. 26 at a small, sunset ceremony in Tennessee, People.com reports. Miller is a former model who appeared in Sugarland’s 2006 video “Want To.”
It is the second marriage for the 37-year-old Nettles, who quietly split from previous husband, nightclub owner Todd Van Sickle, in 2007. Nettles and Miller had not publicly revealed that they were engaged.
According to People, Nettles wore an Alexander McQueen gown when she wed Miller at a chapel in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, in front of “an intimate group of close family and friends, including band mate Kristian Bush.”
Plaintiffs Claim Sugarland ‘Owed A Duty To Provide A Safe Concert Environment’
Sugarland is among the defendants in a lawsuit filed Tuesday by 44 survivors of the Indiana State Fair Stage collapse, as well as family members of four people who died, according to the Associated Press.
Attorneys representing at least 20 law firms from three states filed the complaint in an Indianapolis court, alleging breach of reasonable care to the victims. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from Sugarland, along with several co-defendants including producers, stage riggers and others associated with the August 13 show where stage rigging collapsed into spectators following a wind gust of at least 60 mph, killing seven people and injuring more than 40 others.
According to the plaintiff’s attorney, Sugarland’s contract specified the duo had the final say on whether to cancel the concert due to weather, the AP reports. The complaint charges that Sugarland and the other entities owed a duty to provide a safe concert environment and use reasonable care in the direction, set-up and supervision of the concert.
Sugarland’s publicist didn't immediately return a call from the AP seeking comment.
At least two other lawsuits on behalf of other victims of the stage collapse have been filed against Sugarland and other defendants.
Group Will Also Perform, As Will ‘Idol’s’ Scotty McCreery
Country music super group Alabama has been selected to receive a special honor—the Greatest Hits Award—at the “American Country Awards,” set for Dec. 5 in Las Vegas. The show will be broadcast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena on FOX from 8-10 p.m. (ET).
The Greatest Hits Award is presented to a country music act that has produced an extensive catalogue of No. 1 hits throughout its career. In its 30 years in the music industry, Alabama has notched 32 No 1 singles on the Billboard Top Country Songs chart. Alabama has more No. 1 records than any band in country music history and has sold more concert tickets than any other country group.
The veteran quartet (now a trio consisting of original members Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook) took a bow with its farewell tour in 2003, but the Grammy Award-winning band’s career has recently been revived by its collaboration with Brad Paisley on the hit single “Old Alabama.” I addition to accepting an award, Alabama will perform on the ACA telecast, as will another newly announced performer, “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery.
As previously reported here, the second annual "American Country Awards" will be hosted by Trace Adkins and Kristin Chenoweth. Both will perform on the show, as will Blake Shelton, Pistol Annies, Thompson Square, Eli Young Band and the Band Perry. The special will also include appearances by Josh Turner, Jordin Sparks, the Big Show, the JaneDear Girls, Bill Engvall, Larry Mahan, Rodney Carrington, Lauren Alaina, actress Rachel Bilson, Miranda Lambert and the men of TV’s “Pawn Stars” (Richard Harrison, Rick Harrison, Corey Harrison and Austin Russell).
Country Duo Joins The Annual Trek To Hand Out Toys To Kids
Thompson Square’s Shawna and Keifer Thompson (pictured with Santa) took a break from touring last weekend to volunteer their time to work on board the 69th Annual CSX Santa Train, and helped hand out more than 15 tons of toys to children and families in the coal mining towns of the Appalachian Mountains across Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee.
The duo was joined by more than 100 volunteers as they traveled 110 miles by train through the hills of Appalachia, beginning in Pikeville, Ky., at 5:30 a.m. and ending in Kingsport, Tenn., at 3:00 p.m.
The day ended with a performance by Thompson Square in Kingsport.
David Ball Releases His First Ever Christmas Album
• Justin Moore and his wife, Kate, welcomed their second daughter, Kennedy Faye Moore, yesterday morning in Arkansas. The couple is also the parents of 21-month-old Ella Kole.
“Faye was my grandmother’s name, who passed away a couple of years ago, so we thought it would be a great way to remember her,” Moore (pictured at right) said in a press release, explaining the name they chose. “And, we both just liked Kennedy.”
Moore, who has been touring with Miranda Lambert, as well as his own headlining dates, was home for the birth, and plans to spend the next few weeks with his family. At the beginning of the new year, he will open for Blake Shelton’s new tour.
• The cast of “Glee” will perform Toby Keith’s “Red Solo Cup” on the episode airing Dec. 6 on FOX.
• The JaneDear girls will make their television series debut in an episode of The CW’s “Hart of Dixie,” performing their song “Shotgun Girl.” The episode, “The Pirate & The Practice” will air on November 28 at 9:00 p.m. (ET), and will feature the duo performing during the fictional town’s annual “Planksgiving Fish Fry” celebration in the town square.
• David Ball (left) has released his first-ever holiday album, “The Greatest Christmas,” available on his Web site, davidball.com. The album, recorded in Nashville with Ball’s touring band, the Pioneer Playboys, includes original holiday songs, as well as an acoustic version of Ball’s 2001 hit, “Riding With Private Malone.” Another cut, “I’ve Got A New Thinking Problem,” tips a hat to Ball’s first top 5 hit, “Thinkin’ Problem,” from 1994.
“I just love the whole holiday season, and these are songs I really enjoy singing,” Ball says in a press release. “Several are songs I’ve written and kept over the years but just never had the time or opportunity to record.”
Singer Talks About His New Album, Playing The White House, And Jumping On A Trampoline With His Daughter
Dierks Bentley checked in with One Country on Friday to talk about his involvement with the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), performing at the White House tonight, his upcoming album, and what he plans to do with a couple of months of downtime now that his tour has just wrapped up for the year. (Hint: his plans include getting his pilot’s license up to date.)
As part of his awareness-raising campaign for WWP, Bentley has been meeting with wounded vets before his shows every night, and even invited one on stage with him in Texas, as you can see in this moving video. The group’s goals include providing programs and services to assist injured service members.
Meanwhile, Bentley’s new album, “Home,” will be released Feb. 7, 2012, and he tells One Country he’ll be turning the masters over to Capitol Records on Wednesday. Tonight, he’ll be performing his current single, “Home,” at the White House as part of PBS’s “Country Music: In Performance at the White House” special, which will be broadcast on the network this Wednesday.
One Country: Are you excited about performing at the White House?
Dierks Bentley: This opportunity came up, and I just felt like with the single, ‘Home,’ it really was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. It is a special song. It’s really my view of our country from getting a chance to travel it every day of my life. But also, the song is tied into the military, and with it being Thanksgiving, and all the troops coming back from Iraq and a lot of troops coming back from Afghanistan, it just seemed like a really great time to sing that song and get to express my appreciation for those families, and what better place to do that than at the White House, on PBS?
[‘Home’ is] a song that gets some reaction from people. It’s a really positive song, and a really honest song about our country and the ups and downs, the good and bad. Hopefully it’s inspiring that there’s better days ahead for folks that are going through tough times, [whatever] it might be. [With lyrics like]‘It’s been a long hard ride/Got a ways to go/But this is still the place/That we all call home,’ it resonates with a lot of different Americans on different levels, and to get a chance to perform it at the White House is pretty special.
Did you have the Wounded Warrior Project in mind when you wrote the song, “Home,” particularly the lyrics “Red, how the blood ran red/We laid our dead in scared ground?”
I did not. [After] we wrote the song, we started talking about what we could do, and the WWP came up, and it was just a perfect fit. I’ve really been inspired by the WWP. It’s kind of given me a way to put action into my beliefs. We all support the troops. We all talk about the troops, and country music’s probably the best at really recognizing the troops and playing for them. [But] the WWP gives you a chance to actually take some action.
It’s one thing to support them when they’re in battle, to give them a pat on the back and say ‘thanks,’ but now is the time to actually put those beliefs in action and help these guys out that are coming back with missing limbs and head injuries, and even beyond that. They’ve been away for four or five years, and they’re coming back and are not prepared for the job market. The economy’s in a terrible place right now. They have health problems. They’re trying to reconnect with their families. They could use a little help from fellow Americans that haven’t made that sacrifice.
How personally inspiring is it for you to meet with these veterans before you go on stage every night?
It’s unbelievable. It just makes you feel so small. These guys are coming through that have lost a limb or two and telling you if they could do it, they’d go right back over again and continue to serve. It’s very humbling. That’s what’s great about our country is these guys who are willing to sacrifice for us. For a lot of them, it’s just hard to even make it to the show, and [yet] here they are in your crowd giving up their time to be at your show, and you want to just make it the best night of their lives.
Now that your tour is wrapping up for the year, it looks like you’ll have about two months off the road. What do you plan to do with the down time?
(Laughs) I haven’t been off the road in so long I have to have someone remind me of what I do. I don’t know . . . But I think I’m just going to hang. I just want to be with my wife and my two girls. When you’ve been this busy and [touring] this much, honestly just sitting on the couch with a cold beer and watching a football game would be, like, my island getaway. I can’t wait. I’m so excited.
I know I’m going to miss the tour the second it’s over, and it’s actually a great experience, lots of energy. I’m really loving this tour. I don’t want it to end. At the same time, I am looking forward to diving back into a little bit of obscurity for a couple of weeks and just hanging with my girls—jumping on a trampoline with my daughter Evie, crawling around with Jordan, and just hanging out with my wife. It’ll be fun. I’ll play [with] my men’s hockey [league] a little bit. I might do a bit of flying. I have my pilot’s license, but I’m trying to get it current again after 10 years.
Is the new album completely finished?
The songs have been chosen. The sequencing is still being sussed out, but I’m checking out the final mixes.
What can fans expect to hear on this next album?
I love this record. I think we pushed the boundaries in a couple of different ways. Coming off a bluegrass record, I wanted to get some songs that were edgy and kind of leaned on electric guitars and the kick drum and the bass a little bit so they have a little bit more of a . . . I hate to use the word ‘rock,’ but it’s more of a heavier country sound. There’s also a little bit of a bluegrassy thing on there, and there’s some songs of substance. I think ‘Home’ is a great example. I think if you look at the two singles, ‘Am I The Only One’ and ‘Home,’ like the A side and B side of an old school record, that’s reflective of the album. There are party songs, but also songs that have some substance and, hopefully, will make somebody cry. At the same time, I hope there’s some songs on there that make people just have tears of joy, of laughter and [help them] have fun partying with their friends.
It kind of has all that in there, but I’m really proud of the record and the work that’s gone into it and can’t wait to get it out there.
Brantley Gilbert Will Open The Shows; Tour Launches In January
Eric Church has named his 2012 tour “The Blood, Sweat & Beers Tour,” and just announced details of the outing, which will hit more than 50 cities. Joining him on the tour will be a like-minded artist Brantley Gilbert whose single, "Country Must Be Country Wide," goes to No. 1 on the radio charts today.
The tour launches Jan. 19, 2012 in For Smith, Ark. Only the first 20 dates have been announced so far.
“We have been building our entire career for this tour,” Church said in a press release. “It is truly the culmination of a lot of blood, sweat and beer that has brought us to this point in our career. I have always trusted our fans to deliver with their dedication and passion. They have always exceeded my expectations. I have never been more excited to begin a tour than this one. The band and I are committed to emptying the tank every night and delivering the best show we can.”
In addition to the regularly priced tickets, Church will be selling a VIP package limited to 200 fans per show. That package will include premiere seating, a pre-show party with food and drinks, a two-song acoustic performance by Church, as well as autographed memorabilia including a signed show poster, plus a t-shirt, and a tour laminate.
Other artists appearing on select dates include the Cadillac Black, Blackberry Smoke, Sonia Leigh, Jon Pardi and Drake White.
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.