George Jones, often referred to as “the greatest living country singer” during his lifetime, may be gone, but looks like the cream of Country music’s crop are keen to honor his contributions to the genre with a tribute concert more than impressive enough keep his memory alive for a long time.
Already-announced acts include Alan Jackson, Dierks Bentley, Travis Tritt, Tanya Tucker, Josh Turner, The Oak Ridge Boys, Charlie Daniels, Jamey Johnson, Montgomery Gentry, Sam Moore, among others.
New additions include Country icons George Strait, Reba McEntire, as well as contemporary Country stars Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Eric Church and Alabama, all of whom will be a part of the sold-out concert on November 22nd at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.
“I am thrilled and honored that so many of George’s friends are coming to what would have been his last concert, but is not a fitting tribute,” says Nancy Jones, George Jones’ wife, “George loved these artists and before passing had actually wrote letters to almost all of them.”
George Jones was tragically on his final tour when he passed away on April 26th of this year, and this was scheduled to be his last Nashville concert. If you’re going, have a box of tissues handy, as it’s set to be an emotional one for all involved.
An album of Jones’ new music was released just last week. Produced by longtime Jones collaborator, Billy Sherrill, the new record called Amazing Grace features Jones performing 12 gospel classics, including “Old Rugged Cross”, “Peace in the Valley”, and titular track “Amazing Grace”.
We reckon Jones would be mega pleased with the line-up were he alive to see it. Country music: you’ve done the man proud.
RIP, George Jones. Forever in our hearts. You are missed.
Wholesome country power couple Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton fuel more rumor fires that a joint tour may be in the works, now that their respective musical output has become more complementary of one another’s.
Of the tour’s increased likelihood, Lambert told WWGP Radio:
“I think the more we’ve grown, the more we’ve grown closer we started to go together musically a little bit more. So I think it’d make more sense for a tour.”
Lambert similarly seemed aware that a joint country husband-and-wife tour may draw comparisons to Faith Hill and Tim McGraw’s epic Soul2Soul residency, which was, frankly, massively successful, commenting that, until the couple can ascend Mt. Hill and McGraw’s dizzying heights, the tour is unlikely to become a reality:
“We have Faith [Hill] and Tim [McGraw]’s shoes to fill and Soul2Soul was huge and we want to make sure that we pick the right time. And not that I’m comparing it to that, it’s just we want it to be that big and that important and until it will, we’re not gonna step out on that limb.”
Basic reasoning also suggests that such a thing requires pretty extensive planning, and Lambert is in the process of putting together a new album, while also on the road, so now is probably not the best time to be prepping for glitzy couple concerts.
It seems, anyway, that recording a new album is giving Lambert a nasty case of crazy:
“I freak out every time. I’m like a basket case when it’s time to make a record. I get so nervous as to, ‘Is this gonna work? Is this gonna be the album that stops selling, that stops getting nominated?’ I know that I can’t live like that. I can’t do my whole career like that. But it definitely crosses my mind.”
I think we can all agree that she definitely shouldn’t be putting any more pressure on herself by attempting to manifest a magical tour out of thin air. She just needs to concentrate on herself, for the time being.
Pistol Annies have canceled all of their scheduled June concerts, but luckily for fans Miranda Lambert will still play the dates as a solo artist.
The group was expected to play at the CMT Awards last week but did not, and they also were scheduled to perform at the Winstock Festival on June 7. No explanation has yet been issued for the cancellation, including to the promoter of Winstock, who only received a letter stating, “Due to unforeseen circumstances, Pistol Annies are unable to appear on any dates in June but Miranda Lambert will perform instead.”
Both Miranda Lambert and her fellow Pistol Annie Ashley Monroe attended the aforementioned CMT Awards, but reportedly appeared separately at all events. It appears that the third member of the group, Angaleena Presley was not at the ceremony. Monroe, however, says the trio are still friends and will continue to make music together, according to a tweet by SiriusXM’s The Highway.
“Talked to @ashleymonroe don’t worry @pistolannies are still a band and great friends,” said the tweet.
The dates were scheduled to support the Pistol Annies second album, Annie Up, which was released in February, and the dates were interspersed with solo dates from both Lambert and Monroe. The latter just released her sophomore album, Like a Rose, in March.
All of this comes just a few days after RollingStone.com published a story on the group that quotes them as confirming they are the best of friends.
“We like each other,” said Presley in the interview. “I mean, we miss each other when we’re not around each other!”
More importantly to fans of their music, however, Monroe took time during the interview to explain why they feel more open when writing and recording with each other than they might on solo efforts.
“When we’re together, we’re like, oh, we probably wouldn’t say everything that we say on our records if we were going to do it by ourselves,” she said. “But since we’re all together, we get a little bit more courage.”
When I was assembling the title for this article, I had the unenviable task of figuring out which artists to leave out. Country sensation Luke Bryan and Tracy Lawrence drew the short straws. From top to bottom, this was the strongest one day festival bill I’ve ever seen, and that’s not counting all the surprise special guests who magically popped up out of nowhere. All this excitement and we are still on day one of the CMA Music Festival. Wow.
You could call this country music week in Nashville. Last night, the industry came together to celebrate the year that was through one of country music’s biggest nights — the CMT Awards. Over the next four day strech, country’s best and brightest all synch up their schedules to come together in a celebration of the fans. Nashville is just brimming with cowboy hats and rodeo rowdiness this time of year. The CMA Festival dates back to 1972 when it was simply known as Fan Fair. 5000 people attended the original Fan Fair and that populous has swelled to over 250,000 in the decades since.
There was a host of activities to keep the fans occupied this afternoon from a Q&A session with Lady Antebellum to Sara Evans entertaining the crowd in the midday heat. You could say this was the SXSW for the country music community except for the fact that South By seems to loathe the fans while CMA embraces them like a long lost teddy bear.
LP Field, home to the Tennessee Titans, hosted the nightly concert slate. The gates opened at 6:30 with the music of Thomas Rhett on the promenade, welcoming the fans to the party. To underline how ridiculous this line-up is, the Oak Ridge Boys came out on stage at 7:30 to sing the national anthem. That’s it. They were done for the night. The festival organizers had stacked the bands in 30 minute blocks. That’s not 30 minute to perform then another 30 to ready the stage for the next band – 30 minutes total. Again what other festival could convince a marquee artist to sign on for this? “I know you are used to selling out arenas and playing two hour sets, but we’ve only got 30 minutes for you – oh and you’ll be playing in the four spot.” That is the power of CMA.
Tracy Lawrence opened the evening as the sold out crowd found their seats along the Nashville skyline. He said he’d been playing the CMA in some form or fashion for twenty-two years. Lawrence added the history largely absent from the evening’s crop of new generation country artists.
Luke Bryan is a meteor on the rise in the country scene. He’s piling up the awards at breakneck pace and selling out arenas as if his name were Kenny Chesney. It’s easy to see why. He’s got a manic energy on stage, darting around like he just chugged a case of Red Bull. He played tracks like “Drunk on You” and “I Don’t Want This Night to End.” On the later, he even channeled his inner-Taio Cruz with a mashup of “Dynamite.”
The three story video board couldn’t help but stare at his giant gyrating pelvis. It was the type of grind that would have made Elvis proud and the ladies weak in the knees. Giving his love to the ladies seemed the constant cord running through his set as he pulled ten lucky young women onto the stage ready to shower him with lovin’ and for gobs of cell phone photos in return. He may have been the evening’s opener, but Luke Bryan is putting the country world on notice that he’ll be headlining this event soon; very soon.
Ah, country’s favorite sweetheart that shares the dubious distinction of not really being country anymore. Taylor Swift is churning out pop hits like they are rolling off a factory line. She may have gotten her start as a country darling, but the cross over artist has officially crossed. She brought to CMA her catalog of hits from “Mean” and “Red” to “We Are Never (Ever Ever) Getting Back Together” and “Tim Mcgraw.” Did I happen to mention Tim McGraw because one of country music’s modern fixtures just happened to show up to give Taylor the assist on his namesake song. If that weren’t enough to spark excitement in the feverous crowd, Saturday’s headliner Keith Urban showed up to wail away on the guitar alongside Swift and McGraw.
In her sexy short shorts (think tasteful hot, not Britney Spears slutty), Taylor preened like she was posing for a Revlon commercial when she manned the microphone. She dug into the chords when the electric guitar was strapped in and even plucked her way through “Mean” on the banjo. In her live show, Swift wants you to know she is more than just a pretty face and the girl next door on steroids. She is a joy to watch live. She’s cultivated a magnetic stage presence over the years, infusing it with her considerable talent. While I’d never want to be one of her ex-boyfriends, she can sing me to sleep any night.
Eric Church followed Taylor with his Solo cup of Jack Daniels in hand as this sudden beach ball bonanza broke out in the crowd. While the inflated rainbows launched from hand to hand, Church unwrapped tracks like “Smoke a Little Smoke” and “Homeboy.” During one of his swigs of Jack, he mused that sometimes he kicked the drink’s ass and sometimes it kicked his. A song later, as he removed his boot to hold it up during “These Boots,” I wondered if one of those nights that Jack did the kicking, did he drinking from his boot? While Church is a fine performer, I wish he would be a bit more energized on stage. He largely sits transfixed at the microphone, doing the occasional erratic kick or whips out a Rocky fist punch from time to time. For the other end of the spectrum, see Luke Bryan.
Since she followed him on stage, I can’t help but wonder if Eric Church ever made nice with Miranda Lambert after his “reality TV musicians are hacks” comment to Rolling Stone this time last year. I certainly hope so since its sad to think about fractures splitting the country music fraternity.
Fresh off bringing down the house at the Oklahoma tornado benefit concert, Miranda Lambert hit the stage with a rhinestone guitar strap and pink capo. Don’t let that fishing honeymoon fool you into thinking that she isn’t a girly girl through and through. She further reinforced her femininity with black bustier and leather pants.
Lambert played tracks like “All Kinds of Kinds” and “Over You.” She thanked the CMA faithful for making “White Liar” her first number one single and even got a bit nostalgic when she looked out over the crowd saying, “that used to be me in the twelfth row not that long ago.” Hopefully, country music’s next budding sensation took this comment to heart. Anything is possibly in music’s magical city.
It was hard to know if the Zac Brown Band was here to cap off Thursday’s CMA festivities or plug their upcoming Southern Grounds Festival, taking place in Nashville in September. It was mentioned a few times, but we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt instead of branding them as hucksters.
Zac Brown and company kicked things off with “Chicken Fried.” The crowd squealed in delight at the down home favorite. Zac Brown Band are the adoptive sons of Nashville by way of Atlanta. They continued to thrill the crowd, playing hits like “Keep Me In Mind,” but ultimately their time on stage was overshadowed by those who shared it with them. There had been a not-so-secret rumor spreading around that Zac Brown would have a special guest joining them for their set. About midway through, they called on Kenny Rogers to come out for a duet of the “Gambler.” Rogers sounded great belting out the country classic. As soon as the last note had faded, he shook a few hands and gave his love to the crowd before exiting stage right.
If you thought Zac Brown Band were content to play out the rest of their songs without ensuing fanfare, you would be wrong. They closed the evening with a cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re an American Band” with none other than Kid Rock. That is the great thing about Nashville. Since its such a Mecca for music artists, you can call up any number of stars and just say “hey we’re playing CMA tonight. Want to stop by and play a few?” As long as they aren’t catching up on Game of Thrones, they’ll probably respond by saying, “why not.” Half of me kind of expected John Mayer to be the surprise guest or somebody completely unexpected like Jack White.
Day one of the CMA Fest surpassed expectations in every possible way. I knew the top echelon of country’s fireworks would be on display, but I didn’t know they throw some gasoline on the thing for good measure. The bands truly got the purpose of this event – to give back to the fans who made them the success they have become. Over and over again, you heard these stars thanking the fans for buying the albums, calling the radio stations and coming out to the concerts. This event is for the fans, and it’s a refreshing thing to witness in this fame and fortune driven music industry.
Well we don’t know if anything can top what we saw today, but we are excited to see what CMA has up its sleeve for the remainder of the long weekend. Tomorrow, we bring you Blake Shelton, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town and much more as the CMA Music Festival marches on. Check in with us all weekend as we report live from Nashville.
Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert emerged as the big winners at last night’s CMT Music Awards.
Lambert won two awards, best female video for “Mama’s Broken Heart” and performance of the year for “Over You.” The latter was taken from the 2012 “CMT Artists of the Year” special. Lambert also appeared to accept a third award on behalf of her husband, Blake Shelton, who won the best male video title for “Sure Be Cool If You Did.”
Underwood, however, won the biggest award of the night — video of the year for her song “Blown Away.” However, it was “See You Again” that she performed in front of a backdrop of images from the recent Oklahoma tornadoes that provided one of the most emotionally resonant performances of the night.
“The good Lord has been very good to me, all of us in this room for a long time,” she said in her acceptance speech.
Of course other than the awards, the show was focused on performances, which featured a variety of unexpected collaborations, starting with an opening song by Jason Aldean and Lenny Kravitz. A performance by Florida-Georgia Line and Nelly bookended the ceremony. They performed the song “Cruise,” which was a country hit before Nelly put a new take on it and made the song a crossover hit. The song also earned awards for duo video of the year and breakthrough video of the year.
The CMT Awards is one of the few events voted by fans rather than industry insiders, and before the show Hunter Hayes said that fact is what makes the CMT Awards important to the artists.
“This one is energized and, in a lot of ways, determined by the fans,” Hayes said. “The energy that we get on stage comes from the fans, and to have that kind of energy in this room is exactly what this all kind of built around. That’s what gives this show the difference.”
Oklahoma native Blake Shelton has organized a relief concert for the victims of the recent tornadoes that caused devastation in the state, and he will be joined by Reba McEntire, Vince Gill and Miranda Lambert.
“Healing in the Heartland: Relief Benefit Concert” will be held May 29 at the Chesapeake Energy Center Arena in Oklahoma City. The concert will be televised on NBC, the home of Shelton’s show “The Voice,” as well as E!, Style, G4, Bravo and CMT. The event will be a telethon, and proceeds will go to the United Way of Central Oklahoma.
“Everyone has their way to help, and mine as an entertainer is to perform to help raise money and awareness for this tragedy,” Shelton said in a statement announcing the event. “This is why I want to do this special and especially hold it in Oklahoma City, which is near ground zero.”
After the benefit went on sale, fellow Oklahoman McEntire tweeted that the show sold out in half a minute.
“The ‘Healing in the Heartland’ benefit concert sold out in 30 seconds!” she wrote on her Twitter account. “Way to go Okies!!!! Thanks for everyone’s support!!”
Vince Gill is also from Oklahoma, and Lambert now calls Oklahoma home after marrying Shelton. Additional guests will be announced soon to take part in the lineup.
The benefit came together very quickly, as just last Tuesday Shelton indicated he was working to arrange the event. He said then that he would be asking artists of all genres to work together for the benefit, and specially said he would ask Usher for help. No word yet whether we can expect additions to the lineup that expand all genres, of if we’re more likely to get an all-country set.
“Working hard on putting this benefit together,” Shelton tweeted on Thursday. “Gonna be a unbelievable line up for a great cause. #PrayForOklahoma.”
Miranda Lambert just kicked off her new tour with Dierks Bentley last month, but she’s already looking ahead in the year, adding a slew of new dates to her current tour itinerary.
First, she’s added a handful of dates in the spring, notably in the latter portion of May, starting May 10 with a show at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Wheatland, California and running through a new show at the Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma. These new dates will surround her previously announced May 25 concert as part of the Bayou Country Festival at LSU Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Lousiana.
Most of the remaining new dates will take place this summer, stepping around previously announced festival appearances. She will start things off at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden New Jersey, and now has dates scheduled through a September 21 concert at the Cruzan Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach, Florida. It would appear Mrs. Lambert doesn’t care to take very much time off this year.
Lambert and Bentley started their “Locked and Reloaded Tour” last month, and is the second time the two have toured together. The name is taken from the 2006 tour “Locked and Loaded.”
“It’s fun, it’s like a big jungle gym for adults,” Bentley told journalists about the tour. “This is one of those tours where we have the chance to go back and relive those high school days, because we’ve been out with Miranda and her camp before. We wanted it to be a great tour, so I got the checkbook out and started writing checks! We have a new set and for the first time, video screens. We talked about what we wanted to do and decided to pretend it was our last tour.”
Lambert received five Academy of Country Music Awards nominations on February 13, including Entertainer of the Year and Female Vocalist of the year.
Next year’s festival will be the second annual country music event, and will be held August 2-4, 2013 in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada. The Band Perry and Dean Brody were also among the first artists announced for the upcoming event, and more acts will be revealed in future months.
Last year’s festival featured acts including Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, Kid Rock and Alabama. The event drew between 40,000 and 65,000 concertgoers, depending on which report you read, and however many people were there, they all braved inclement weather throughout much of the festival.
In a press release, Shannon McNevan, managing director/partner of presenter Republic Live 2013 Inc, said fan input contributed to improvements that will be made for the 2013 incarnation of the event.
“We weren’t joking when we said we wanted your help to make Boots and Hearts the best country festival out there, and we’re committed to doing everything we can to make that happen,” McNevan said. “Thankfully we received a boatload of input from our attendees this past summer and our audience has really helped drive the improvements to our 2013 event. As a result, we’ve incorporated free parking and tent camping for anyone who purchases a full-event general admission ticket, free access for children 12 and under and more toilets, showers and on-site experiences for people to enjoy, and we’re just getting started.”
Tickets come as three-day passes, but festival goers also can purchase one-day tickets to each day of the event.
The Boots and Hearts Festival is heralded as “the largest country music festival of its kind ever to be hosted on Canadian soil. It is a three-day celebration of music and art where music lovers of all genres can escape from the rigors of daily life, band together with thousands of other country music fans and experience a once-in-a-lifetime event they will never forget.”
The festival will be held May 25-26, 2013 – which is Memorial Day Weekend – at Louisiana State University’s Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. This will be the fourth year the event has been held, and it typically draws around 75,000 country music fans.
Other notable act appearing at the 2013 event include Darius Rucker, Luke Bryan, The Band Perry, Rodney Atkins, Thompson Square, Love and Theft, and Frankie Ballard.
“Year four of the Bayou Country Superfest is a milestone,” said Quint Davis, the producer and director of the festival. “We have set a simple goal: to bring the biggest stars in country music together for the best show in America, a show that the world can only see in Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Memorial Day Weekend. And that is exactly what we have done: [the artists] will rock your boots off, and prove once again, there is no place more exciting than Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge on Memorial Weekend.”
The festival is a reserved seating event, and tickets can be bought in two-day packages or as single-day passes. Additionally, a limited number of VIP tickets will be sold for a standing room area near the stage known as the Golden Horseshoe, and tickets for box seats also can be purchased.
LSU Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Joe Alleva also stressed that the event is great for fans as well as the region.
“LSU is pleased to continue to host the Bayou Country Superfest, an event that has proven to be an important annual event for our city and our region,” he said. “Tiger Stadium is one of the great sporting venues in the world and now has proven itself as an ideal site for one of the great music events of the world.”
The country superstars announced the news recently, and revealed which cities they will be visiting as they make their way around the U.S. on the “Locked and Reloaded Tour,” though the exact dates and venues will be announced later. Cities include Baltimore, Atlantic City, Tulsa, San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Denver. The tour will kick off January 17, though the city has yet to be named.
“Making music for our fans is the best job in the world,” Lambert said in a statement. “It’s especially great being able to take that music on the road with someone I respect as an artist and human being. This will be a tour of ‘epic badassery.’”
Bentley also shared his excitement about touring with Lambert.
“Some of my favorite times on tour over the years were with Miranda and her crew,” he said in the release. “We have a lot in common musically and our fans do too. It’s going to be a killer year.”
Lambert will use the tour to continue to support her most recent album, Four the Record, which was released in November of last year. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard Country Albums chart and number three on the overall Billboard 200 albums charts. The appropriately titled album his Lambert’s fourth studio album, and her first since 2009’s Revolution.
Bentley’s most recent album, Home, was released in February of this year. Thus far, four singles have been released from the album, three of which have gone to number one on the Billboard country singles chart. These are “Am I the Only One,” “Home” and “5-1-5-0.” The current single, “Tip it on Back,” was released in August and to date has peaked at number 26 on the charts.