The CMA Music Festival may look like a musical fanfare, but it’s actually a mad scavenger hunt to try to piece together which surprise artists will find their way to the LP Field stage each night. Already this weekend we’ve seen impromptu performances from Tim McGraw, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, Kenny Rogers and Jason Mraz. Most festivals would kill for a top line of performers like that, but at CMA they are just fun treats. While I was waiting to get into the photo pit this evening, I happened to see one of the security personnel’s schedule for the evening. Beyond the high wattage stars that were already public knowledge (Keith Urban, Kelly Clarkson, Dierks Bentley), there were a few eye popping names that I thought couldn’t possibly be right. Sure enough, Lenny Kravitz, Jason Aldean and Trisha Yearwood just helicoptered in to play a few. I think CMA just made every other country music festival irrelevant. I’ll let you decide if that is a good thing.
So we got a tease of the Oak Ridge Boys Thursday night when they sung the national anthem. Tonight, they opened the music. These boys have been around forever. Everyone knows “Elvira.” That is the song not the busty vampiress. That is one of the Oak Ridge Boys signature tunes. It’s a bit fitting that the band were introduced to the stage by the principles actors of Duck Dynasty.
The Oak Ridge Boys did roll out “Elvira” as well as a few quick songs to fill out their 15 minutes set. They thanked the CMAs for inviting them to play with all of the young country artists. They said it was important to know where we’ve come from which was the perfect transition into their tribute to George Jones. They sang “Same Old Me” as photographs of the country legend cycled through on the big screens. George’s wife, Nancy, was there and thanked the crowd for supporting her during this rough time. With George’s passing only a couple weeks past, the loss weighed heavy on the festival and its fans. He seemed ever present.
The Florida Georgia Line hit the main stage next. These boys have had quite the run over the past year. Last year, they were playing in the parking lot outside of LP Field, and now they’ve jumped to the main stage. Brian Kelley (Florida) and Tyler Hubbard (Georgia) came out full of energy, ready to rock this stadium. They opened the evening with “It’z Just What We Do.”
Their latest album Get Your Shine On was released back in January and they’ve been touring pretty much non-stop ever since. In their brief four song set, they trotted out all of their singles from “Round Here” to “Shine On.” They lit the crowd on fire with their number one single “Cruise” which provided the rocket fuel to their instant rise to fame.
So we know that Lenny Kravitz and Jason Aldean are due up next (the crowd is still in the dark on this one), but we don’t know what the format is going to be. For those scratching their heads trying to figure out how Lenny Kravitz factors into country music, he was at the CMT Awards on Wednesday night and performed a duet with Jason Aldean. The CMA organizers must have asked him to stick around to reprise his genre-bending performance at the festival.
For Kravitz’s rock fans out there, I don’t think there is any worry about him pulling a Darius Rucker and jumping ship for country. He played his rock catalog during his CMA set including favorites like “Are You Gonna Go My Way” and “Let Love Rule.” This was Lenny’s set and Jason Aldean would come out to lend a hand. Once the chords of “American Woman” began rifling out, Aldean hit the stage. I can’t say this was the most natural pairing, but its oddness somehow worked in its favor. I may be in the minority, but I thought it was great to get a little rock infusion in this country event.
Dierks Bentley started off his six song set with his hit single “Free and Easy Down the Road I Go.” He brought the full band along with him, and they would frequently come together at center stage for a jamathon. He highlighted a new song “Bourbon in Kentucky.” The crowd got all worked up into a tizzy when he said he needed to call on a special guest to help him out, but it wasn’t the guest they were hoping for. Instead of Kasey Musgraves, seasoned Nashville songwriter Hillary Lindsey displayed her vocal talents onstage.
After playing tracks like “Up on the Ridge” and “What Was I Thinkin’,” he stopped for a second to say he’d love to be sitting out there in the audience drinking a cold beer with the crowd and witnessing the greatest country show on earth. He lit up LP Field when he asked everyone to get out their cell phones for “Home.” It was a stirring tribute to our military who put their lives on the line every day to fight for our freedom.
American Idol season one winner and pop queen Kelly Clarkson was up next. She was a bottle of contradictions, equal parts ecstatic and anxious. She is newly engaged yet she didn’t know where she misplaced her ring. This worry became a recurring theme throughout the evening. Maybe officiant Blake Shelton knows. She was also worried because this was the first country festival she’d played. Although she is firmly entrenched in Top 40 pop, you could hear the country influence peak out on a few of her songs.
She highlighted chart topping tracks like “Stronger” and “Because of You.” Jason Aldean even came out to sing a duet with Clarkson. Kelly won the nightly popularity contest as she scored not one, but two guest stars. To close the evening, she dusted off an old Garth Brooks tune “Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til the Sun Comes Up).” Who better to help her out on a Garth song than his wife, Trisha Yearwood. The two sounded great together even if Trisha needed some crib notes so she didn’t muck up her husband’s lyrics. Hopefully, this performance is a tune up to a Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood tour in 2014
That leads us up to the star of the evening, Keith Urban. He opened things with “Long Hot Summer” in the cool breeze of the Tennessee night. He’s recognized as one of the greatest guitarists in music. He would frequently pull away mid song to let his guitar loose. It would run and run until he yanked it back into submission. I mean this isn’t a Phish concert after all.
Urban just looks like a rock star with his well-cultivated physique, tattoos and tussled hair. The audience’s love bridged the oceanic divide for the Aussie import. He played crowd favorites like “You Look Good in My Shirt” and told them he wished the set could go on all night long. On his farewell notes of the evening, a burst of fireworks towered over the back walls of LP Field. It was a nice punctuation mark for a great night of country music.
Well the CMA Fest may have taken a bit of a breather last night, but it punched things back to full throttle once again Saturday night. Lenny Kravitz and Jason Aldean took a solid bill and shot it through the roof. Trisha Yearwood’s appearance was brief, but special since fans rarely get to see her live anymore. Guest stars are great, but Keith Urban was the undeniable star of the evening.
We enter our final day of coverage of the CMA Music Festival. We close things out with a bang with Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, The Band Perry and Jake Owen. I think it’s pretty safe to say we’ll see a few special additions this evening. The question is always who. Check in with us tomorrow as we wrap up our fantastic time at the CMA Festival.
The 12th iteration of the Honda Civic tour will move decidedly toward a more pop flavor this year with Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson on the bill. This is in contrast to a bill last year featuring Linkin Park and Incubus.
Technically, Maroon 5 is the headliner of the tour, with Clarkson billed as a “special guest.” Other artists on the bill include Rozzi Crane, Tony Lucca and PJ Morton, which all will serve as openers on select dates of the trek.
The tour kicks off in St. Louis at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater on August 1, and will continue through October 5, when the artists play the Sleep Train Amphitheatre in San Diego. In between those dates, Maroon 5’s Adam Levine and Clarkson will pack into one 2013 Honda Civic and drive themselves to the other stops on the tour.* Some of those other cities are Cincinnati, Chicago, Cleveland, Tampa, Atlanta, Houston and Denver.
*Note: As far as I know this is not actually true, though I wish it was.
Maroon 5 first toured on the Civic Tour back in 2005, when they were right in the midst of the long five year wait between the group’s breakthrough record Songs About Jane and the sophomore album It Won’t be Soon Before Long, which ended up being, musically, about as awkward as its title.
But the group bounced back, though their third album Hands All Over was pretty much overlooked before “Moves Like Jagger” was re-released and exploded all over the world. The group rushed out a fourth album, Overexposed, last year to capitalize on the regained popularity as everyone remembered that Levine was a singer in a band and not just a coach on “The Voice.”
It appears Clarkson is still touring behind her first greatest hits package that was released late last year, though her most recent studio album, Stronger, came out in 2011. It is reported that she currently is working on her sixth solo album, but no official word has been released as to whether we can expect new music before the tour.
The nominations for the 2013 Grammy Awards were announced Wednesday night at a primetime concert special broadcast from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, and there were quite a few surprises on the nominations list.
One of the biggest surprises was the absence of any nominations for Justin Bieber, who released his third studio album this June. Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun quickly took to Twitter to voice his displeasure.
“I just plain DISAGREE,” he wrote on his Twitter account. “The kid deserved it. Grammy board u blew it on this one.” The following day, he took to Twitter again to explain his comments.
“I wasn’t mad, just voicing my opinion,” he wrote. “I saw a lot of chatter online and made a comment. I don’t think there was anything wrong with any other nomination. I just felt Justin deserved to be acknowledged.”
A slew of artists tied for the most nominations with six. These include Mumford and Sons, fun., Dan Auerbach (of the Black Keys), Kanye West, Jay-Z and Frank Ocean. The latter, a member of the Odd Future collective is perhaps the most surprising of the top nominated artists. His breakthrough solo album Channel Orange was released in July.
Newcomer Miguel picked up five nominations this year, including Song of the Year for his hit “Adorn.” “American Idol” Kelly Clarkson was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album for her 2011 effort Stronger.
Many were surprised that Bruce Springsteen received no nominations for Wrecking Ball, his well-received 17th studio album that was released earlier this year – but this year’s nominations trended toward being awarded to younger artists. These included Carly Rae Jepsen who racked up two nominations for her massive summer hit “Call Me Maybe”: Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance.
The nominations concert was hosted by Taylor Swift and LL Cool J, who opened the night with a duet performance. Other artists performing during the event included Maroon 5, Luke Bryan and The Band Perry.
When ABC’s new reality television singing competition “Duets” debuts this summer, John Legend, Kelly Clarkson, Robin Thicke and Jennifer Nettles will be sitting behind the judges table – and also appearing onstage alongside contestants.
The reality series has the judges select two unknown singers from a talent pool as their protégés. After extensive coaching by the judges, the contestants will eventually take the stage to sing – you guessed it – duets with their mentors. The singing will take place in front of a live studio audience, and the winner will receive a recording contract.
John Legend was a late addition to the lineup, as the formerly announced judge, Lionel Richie, had to pull out of the show due to scheduling conflicts. Legend says he had to work a little faster to catch up during the initial selection process, which is going on now, but that he is now having a good time on the show.
One thing that all of the judges stress is that the show is not just another run of the mill show that will get lost among other established singing competitions like “American Idol,” “The Voice” and “The X Factor.”
“Everybody says like, ‘Oh musicians are coming out of TV programs.’ And people are bashing it,” Clarkson told CNN recently. “But the reason why I love it, most of the time, is because there is no A&R anymore in the entertainment world. If you don’t make it right off the bat, like if you’re a band that just goes through a label and you don’t make it right off the bat, you get dropped.”
Of course, it’s possible that Clarkson may be slightly biased, as she herself became known after she won the first season of “American Idol,” but Thicke also said the hard work of the judges is what sets the show apart.
“It’s a little bit more involved [for us] than, I think, the other judges on those other shows,” Thicke said. “Like, we’re working our butts off! I didn’t realize how much work this was going to be! But we’re having a great time doing it.”
Kelly Clarkson took to the internet Wednesday to voice her support of Republican GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, and her fans have spoken out strongly both for and against her stance.
“I love Ron Paul,” the former “American Idol” winner tweeted late Wednesday. “I liked him a lot during the last Republican nomination and no one gave him a chance. If he wins the nomination for the Republican party in 2012 he’s got my vote. Too bad he probably won’t.”
Since that time, fans have taken to Twitter in droves to either commend or condemn Clarkson’s now public political stance.
@lchops96 tweets: “…my opinion of her has plummeted,” while @waflanagan states directly to the source, “…My love for you has taken a severe hit, Kelly…”
But the real news seems to be that the tweet has actually affected Clarkson’s album sales –for the better. The pop singer’s most recent album, Stronger, jumped from number 38 on Amazon’s sales list to number three between Thursday and Saturday. The surge reflected the fact that sales shot up 442 percent during the same period.
On Thursday, Clarkson posted an apology to anyone offended by her remarks, and particularly to respond to Twitter users who claimed she was supporting what they saw as racist and homophobic stances taken by Paul.
“I am really sorry if I have offended anyone,” she tweeted. “Obviously that was not my intent. I do not support racism. I support gay rights, straight rights, women’s rights, men’s rights, white/black/purple/orange rights. I like Ron Paul because he believes in less government and letting the people (all of us) make the decisions and mold our country. That is all. Out of all of the Republican nominees, he’s my favorite.”
While the inevitable backlash of a pop star announcing her political views in a public forum has definitely been expressed, it seems Clarkson may be the real winner. Stronger was released in October and debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 albums charts. It has slipped since that time and currently sits at number 39 on the charts, though it will likely climb next week because of the surge in record sales.
Hot on the heels of her fifth album being released a couple weeks ago, former American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson has announced a North American tour that will take up most of the first third of 2012.
The tour will kick off on January 13 in Mashantucket, Conn. and continue through April 10 in San Diego. 33 dates have been announced so far, and cities she’ll visit include New York, Boston, Shreveport, La., Seattle and Biloxi, Miss., among many others. Matt Nathanson will provide support for all shows.
Stronger, the fifth album by Clarkson, was released on October 24. The album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 album chart, only kept out of the top position by Coldplay’s most recent album, Mylo Xyloto, which was released the same day. Stronger was preceded by the single “Mr. Know It All,” which cracked the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.
Clarkson first came into prominence after becoming the winner of the first American Idol in 2002. After finding success with her debut album, 2003’s Thankful, Clarkson got her biggest hit with 2004’s Breakaway. Containing the hits “Behind These Hazel Eyes,” “Breakaway” and, particularly, “Since U Been Gone,” That album went on to sell more than six million copies in the United States and won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album. “Since U Been Gone” also won a Grammy, for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
Since that time, Clarkson has released three more albums, and had her most recent number one hit with “My Life Would Suck Without You,” which was released in January 2009. After entering the charts at number 97, the song hit number one the following week in what was the largest jump of any song to number one in chart history.
Kelly Clarkson will be heading out in support of her latest album “All I Ever Wanted” this fall. “Wanted” was released in March, charting a number 1 debut on the Billboard charts. The album’s first singles “My Life Would Suck Without You” and “I Do Not Hook Up” have seen modest success hanging around Billboard’s Hot 100.
The fall portion of the tour will make up the bulk of Clarkson’s 2009 dates as she hits 32 cities throughout the US and Canada. She will be supported by the Australian duo the Veronicas as well as the Parachutes. Tickets can be purchased at Ticketmaster now.
Kelly Clarkson will also be featured on VH1 Divas concert airing on September 17. The concert will take place at the Howard Gilman Opera House in Brooklyn, NY. She’ll be joined by fellow divas Adele, Leona Lewis and Miley Cyrus.
Kelly Clarkson 2009 Tour Dates
28 – Orlando, FL – Universal Studios Orlando
29 – Tucson, AZ – Arizona Stadium
11 – Orem, UT – Utah Valley University
3 – Indio, CA – Fantasy Springs Resort & Casino
5 – San Diego, CA – Del Mar Fairgrounds
23 – Costa Mesa, CA – Pacific Amphitheatre
24 – Paso Robles, CA – Grandstand at California Mid-State Fair
26 – Kelseyville, CA – Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa Amphitheatre
29 – Columbus, OH – Ohio Expo Fair
1 – Harrington, DE – Delaware State Fairgrounds
7 – Clearfield, PA – Clearfield County Fairgrounds
14 – Indianapolis, IN – Indiana State Fairgrounds
20 – Louisville, KY – Freedom Hall at The Kentucky Expo Center
22 – Des Moines, IA – Iowa State Fairgrounds
27 – Syracuse, NY – Mohegan Sun Grandstand
30 – Saint Paul, MN – Minnesota State Fair Grandstand
3 – Allentown, PA – Allentown Fairgrounds
4 – Essex Junction, VT – Champlain Valley Expo Grandstand
11 – York, PA – York Fairgrounds
12 – Allegan, MI – Allegan County Fair Grandstand
2 – Uncasville, CT – Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino
4 – Portland, ME – Cumberland County Civic Center
6 – New York, NY – Hammerstein Ballroom
9 – Atlantic City, NJ – Borgata Hotel & Casino
10 – Fairfax, VA – Patriot Center
13 – Boston, MA – Agganis Arena at Boston University
15 – Orillia, Ontario – Casino Rama Entertainment Centre
17 – Youngstown, OH – Covelli Centre
19 – Pikeville, KY – Eastern Kentucky Expo Center
21 – Knoxville, TN – Knoxville Civic Coliseum
23 – Milwaukee, WI – Milwaukee Theatre
25 – Detroit, MI – Fox Theatre
27 – Chicago, IL – Rosemont Theatre
29 – Lincoln, NE – Pershing Center
31 – St. Charles, MO – Family Arena
2 – Cedar Park, TX – Cedar Park Center
4 – Lubbock, TX – United Spirit Arena
6 – Las Vegas, NV – The Joint
7 – Phoenix, AZ – Arizona State Fair
18 – Victoria, British Columbia – Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre
20 – Calgary, Alberta – Saddledome
22 – Kelowna, British Columbia – Prospera Place
24 – Seattle, WA – WaMu Theater
28 – Reno, NV – Reno Events Center
29 – San Jose, CA – Event Center at San Jose University
1 – Fresno, CA – Save Mart Center at Fresno State
3 – Las Cruces, NM – Pan American Center
5 – Beaumont, TX – Ford Park Arena
7 – Corpus Christi, TX – American Bank Center
10 – Columbus, GA – Columbus Civic Center
11 – Pensacola, FL – Pensacola Civic Center
13 – Hollywood, FL – Seminole Hard Rock Live Arena