Saturday, February 18, 2017

Week-end Country Music Countdown & Country Music News...February 18, 2017

 COUNTRY CHART Weekend of February 18-19:

1 THOMAS RHETT Star Of The Show
3 BLAKE SHELTON A Guy With a Girl
5 GRANGER SMITH If The Boot Fits
6 CHRIS YOUNG Sober Saturday Night *
8 MICHAEL RAY Think A Little Less
9 JON PARDI Dirt On My Boots
10 MAREN MORRIS 80s Mercedes
11 ERIC CHURCH Kill A Word
13 LAUREN ALAINA Road Less Traveled
15 JASON ALDEAN Any Ol’ Barstool
17 GARTH BROOKS Baby Let’s Lay Down & Dance
18 JOSH TURNER Hometown Girl
19 HIGH VALLEY Make You Mine
20 KENNY CHESNEY Bar At The End of the World


Jenny Gill Delivers Country Soul Debut with The House Sessions

Father Vince Gill Produces Six-Song Collection 

Saturday night’s (Feb. 11) Grand Ole Opry wasn’t Jenny Gill’s first performance on the historic show, but it was an important night. It was her first Opry set where she delivered live selections of original material from her six-song debut, The House Sessions.
Unfortunately, her father, Country Music Hall of Famer Vince Gill, had to miss it. He was in Los Angeles for the 59th annual Grammy awards where he picked up his 21st Grammy for best American roots song for writing the title track of The Time Jumpers’ latest collection Kid Sister.
Vince did call Jenny from L.A., and they shared a laugh before she went onstage.
“You can officially put alcohol in them and take shots out of them now,” Jenny joked about her father’s Grammy collection during our interview. “I’m probably going to do that to the 21st one when he’s not looking. Of course, he feels so honored and grateful. I think it’s so well-deserved.”
It can be both a blessing and a curse to come from country music royalty. There’s a lot to live up to when your father is a record-holding Grammy winner and your mother is Janis Oliver from Sweethearts of the Rodeo. Her stepmother is Amy Grant, with whom Jenny has toured as a backup singer for the last six years.

Jenny was born for a life in music, and there’s never been a better time for the powerhouse vocalist. Produced by Vince, The House Sessions offers 22 minutes of country soul that blends all her musical influences and evokes the attitude of a rising Bonnie Raitt. The collection is named after her her father’s home studio where it was recorded.
Fans will hear her upbringing in country with her lyrical storytelling in “Whiskey Words,” which was inspired by an ex full of empty words that staggered like a drunkard’s walk. She puts creative spins on love in “Look Where Loving You Landed Me,” “Lean On Love” and “Lonely Lost Me,” the latter of which features backing harmonies by one of her idols Sheryl Crow. “Your Shadow” is described as one of her most vulnerable tracks because it offers a glimpse of what it’s like to live with a famous father. The collection closes a funky spin on The Box Tops’ “The Letter.”
“It was a real battle to get ‘The Letter’ on this record,” she admitted. “Dad was not too excited about the idea of a cover. But I love the energy of that song and it’s that uptempo that I haven’t figured out how to write for myself yet.” Was it a challenge to fit all your musical influences into 22 minutes of music? How many songs did you bring to the table for this collection?
Gill: I think we started out with 11. I don’t know why the other songs didn’t fit. They just didn’t feel right for this first project. That’s the fun of playing in the studio and discovering what works and what doesn’t. I didn’t want to put together a full length album with just filler in it. I wanted every song to mean something.
We let the band play what they felt and it just kind of evolved. Some songs are countrier and some songs have a heavy jazzy influence, but it really speaks to what I listen to. It’s just a lot of different things. I don’t know if that’s something that’s going to help me or hurt me. If people are connecting to it, that’s the goal.
Tell me about working with Sheryl.
It was such an accident. She just came over to the house to hang out with Amy because they’re buddies. I don’t know if there’s another phrase for cock-blocking that’s PG-rated, but I just totally cock-blocked their hang, like, “Hey, since you’re here, we happened to be working on my record.” I was thrilled that she took the time to do that for me.
She was so pro the whole time. We were trying to work out these background parts and dad was kind of guiding the direction. She just stopped and looked me straight in the eye and said, “What do you like?” I froze. It’s hard to see yourself as an equal with somebody you want to learn from. I just wanted her to do her thing, and it was magic, of course.
How did having your first child, Wyatt, inspire you to follow your dreams of making an album for yourself? Do you believe that the greatest gift that we can give our children is to show them what it’s like to follow your dreams?
I think it’s a big gift. I don’t know if it’s the best. I’ve only been a parent for two and a half years. So I have no idea what I’m doing, first of all. And second of all, that first year with him, I thought I was going to die because it was so hard. I just woke up one morning and looked at the last year I experienced and it became clear to me that I was capable.
After giving birth to my child, I felt like I could do anything if I put my mind to it and focus because that’s the hardest shit you will ever do. I truly felt like a rock star after he came along. I believed in my capabilities in a way I never have before. What I hope happens as an outcome, is he experiences the same pride for me that I have for my parents. I’m so proud of not just all their accomplishments, it’s what they give back to the community. There are all kinds of lessons that I’ve learned from them.
I hear a lot of Bonnie Raitt in your music. When did you first become a fan? How did you get turned on to her music?
I remember being on the road with my dad during the summers when I wasn’t in school. We’d pick out a song, work it up with the band and I’d do my one song at his shows. And we tried all kinds of things. We did Shania Twain, Sarah McLachlan and “Strawberry Wine” by Deana Carter. I didn’t really grasp the full meaning of “Strawberry Wine,” but I was singing it anyway. I thought it was a great idea at the time — “Yeah! Let’s sing a song about losing your virginity while standing next to your dad at 16 years old.”
Bonnie Raitt was dad’s suggestion. I don’t know how it came about. He just looked at me and said, “You know who’s going to teach you how to sing?” And I said, “Who?” I thought he was talking about vocal lessons. He said, “Bonnie Raitt.” I said, “OK,” and started listening to her hits.
The way she effortlessly gets to a note and takes her time to get there. It’s like the best foreplay for a singer because she’s not trying too hard to impress you. She’s just cool and effortless.
How did working with Vince bring out the best in you as an artist?
I think anybody who works with him, you want to bring your A-game. He’s one of the best musicians we have. Amy jokes that he hears things only dogs can hear because his ears are so in tune. Dad’s really great to work with because he’s very patient if things are taking a long time. He doesn’t get frustrated. I think that comes from being an artist himself. It’s really easy to beat yourself up when you’re working in the studio, and he will help you to not beat yourself up.
What has the timing of your music taught you?
Patience is a good thing to have. My son is also teaching me that. Let things simmer and take your time. From the moment we started recording until now, it took a lot longer than I had anticipated. Deciding to start a family in the middle of that process didn’t help speed things up but Wyatt ultimately inspired the final push to get it out in the public. It all feels meant to be.


Luke Bryan: Singing George Strait Like Crazy

"The First Song That I Ever Knew"

Luke Bryan was only 7 years old when George Strait released “You Look So Good in Love.” And yet, when he looks back on it now, Bryan has a very mature appreciation for the ballad from 1983.
In a special video that Strait posted on Twitter, Bryan explains how that was the song that showed him the way.
“I would say the first song that I ever knew — or it registered to me that I could sing — was ‘You Look So Good in Love.’ I mean, I was a young kid, and I was just singing that like crazy,” Bryan says. 
The song, written by Glen Ballard, Rory Bourke and Kerry Chater, was on Strait’s Right or Wrong album.
Bryan adds that Strait and his music have had an amazing influence on his life.
“As far as my first memories of music,” he says, “he is involved in nearly every one of them.”
Strait himself is no stranger to celebrating music that has influenced him. At the recent MusiCares Person of the Year concert during Grammy weekend in Los Angeles, Strait joined the Foo Fighters, Stevie Nicks, the Bangles, Lucinda Williams, Norah Jones and more to honor Tom Petty. Strait did his part by putting his signature Texas spin on Petty’s “You Wreck Me.”


Kelsea Ballerini’s Tour Must-Haves

Starts Thomas Rhett’s Home Team Tour Feb. 23 in Michigan

Kelsea Ballerini’s first tour bus sounds unforgettable. Her description in the new issue of Self magazine makes it sounds like it was tricked out hunter’s lodge on wheels.
“My first artist bus was Jason Aldean’s old bus, with deer antlers over the lights and cowhide on the back of the couches,” she says. “It was such an absolute dude bus. The one I’m in now is more of a girl bus, so I have a bedroom in the back and the right lighting over the mirror, which makes getting ready for shows so much easier.”
Ballerini starts Thomas Rhett’s Home Team Tour on Feb. 23 in Saginaw, Michigan, and after four major tours, including her own headlining run, she has living out of a suitcase down. Her fridge will be stocked with healthy comfort foods (hummus is her favorite), customized meals by Vibe Chefs and lots of LaCroix. And if there is a Whole Foods on the way to a gig, she’ll always make pit stop for their California chicken salad with grapes, pita chips and kombucha.
“It took a while to learn to eat healthy on road,” she admits. “It’s really hard. Really, really hard. But on the bus, I can use the stove top in the morning to make a veggie scramble. And have lots and lots and lots of coffee. I try to have protein for dinner so I have energy for the show.”
In the bus she’s riding in now, there’s a back room with a bed that’s closer to full size for random naps when she can squeeze them in her daily schedule.
“I am really aware of my sleep, because if I don’t get enough, I’m not at my best. So I’m not scared of a good nap now and then,” she says. “If I have a two-hour chunk of downtime during the day, you better believe I’m napping.”
The bus vanity also sounds like a beauty guru’s dream. Her makeup is organized in little drawers and every little sparkle, lip color, foundation and powder has a home. And she doesn’t rely on a pro to do her looks every show — she does it all herself.
“When it’s time to get ready, I shut the door, crank music and just do one thing at a time,” she says. “When I’m doing my hair, I lay the curling iron in the sink — the water’s off, obviously — and that way it doesn’t fall off the small counter.”
Her killer threads also have homes.
“My wardrobe for the concert is in the bus closet, and then I pack my regular clothes and meet-and-greet outfits separately, and I kind of live out of suitcases,” she says.


How Seth Ennis Woke Up in Nashville

With Bluegrass and Country on His Mind 
 Newcomer Seth Ennis, who’s doing tours this year with Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan, among others, may sing about the road he’s already traveled in his debut ballad “Woke Up in Nashville,” but the reality is, he was country long before he was waking up in Music City.
Ennis kind of looked into his rear view mirror to give industry publication Country Aircheck the complete list of all the music that’s made a mark on him in his 23 years.
Vince Gill tops his list because of his gifts as a guitar player, a songwriter and singer.
“But also for the person he’s known for being, which is such a good guy,” Ennis said. Gill’s Greatest Hits album features one of Ennis’ favorites, “Pretty Little Adriana.”
Eric Church’s Chief album was another one that influenced Ennis, over and over again. “I always have it on repeat,” he said.
Bryan’s Georgia stop on his Farm Tour inspired Ennis’ live shows, because that show was such a big deal in his small-town Valdosta.
“In high school, we didn’t have much to do on the weekends,” he said. “I’d go to a friend’s house and play the guitar and we’d sing songs around a fire. When his tour came to our hometown, it was the first time I’d seen that atmosphere recreated on such a big level.
“Luke can make that many people feel like they’re all in his living room just hanging out. I’ve tried to model my show after a lot of the things I saw there,” he said of his own live style, which he’s putting to use as the opener on the Florida Georgia Line tour.
Best of all of Ennis’ influences is the old bluegrass gospel classic, “Farther Along.”
“I grew up singing that song,” he said. “My mom’s dad was a Dobro player and took us around to bluegrass festivals. That’s where I was exposed to bluegrass and Southern gospel. I love that kind of music and that’s probably my favorite song out of that genre.”
Ennis is going to be busy this year. In addition to his tours with Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan, he’s also appearing on Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s Soul2Soul World Tour and will be visitng the United Kingdom in September and October with Little Big Town.


Keith Urban Leads ACM Nominations

Entertainer of the Year Nominees Include Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Carrie Underwood 
 With seven nominations in five categories, Keith Urban leads the field of nominees for the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards.
Lady Antebellum revealed the initial nominations Thursday (Feb. 16) on CBS This Morning, with the remaining nominations announced by Entertainment Tonight hosts Nancy O’Dell and Kevin Frazier additional nominees on
Urban’s latest ACM nominations include his seventh for entertainer of the year and 10th for male vocalist. Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and Carrie Underwood are also up for entertainer of the year.
Urban is nominated twice — as both artist and producer — in the album of the year category for Ripcord. He received an additional two nominations — for both artist and producer — for single record of the year for “Blue Ain’t Your Color.” As an artist, he is also nominated in the ACM song of the year category for “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” written by Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey and Steven Lee Olsen.
Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley will host the awards show on April 2 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Here’s a complete list of the artist-related nominations:
Entertainer of the Year
Jason Aldean
Luke Bryan
Florida Georgia Line
Carrie Underwood
Keith Urban

Male Vocalist
Jason Aldean
Dierks Bentley
Thomas Rhett Chris Stapleton
Keith Urban

Female Vocalist Kelsea Ballerini Miranda Lambert Maren Morris Kacey Musgraves
Carrie Underwood

Vocal Duo Big & Rich Brothers Osborne Dan + Shay Florida Georgia Line Maddie & Tae
Vocal Group Eli Young Band
Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town Old Dominion Rascal Flatts
New Male Vocalist Kane Brown Chris Janson Chris Lane Jon Pardi Brett Young
New Female Vocalist Lauren Alaina Cam Brandy Clark
Maren Morris
* four nominees only

New Vocal Duo or Group A Thousand Horses
Brothers Osborne
Dan + Shay
Maddie & Tae

Album of the Year Black, Dierks Bentley Dig Your Roots, Florida Georgia Line Hero, Maren Morris Ripcord, Keith Urban The Weight of These Wings, Miranda Lambert
Single Record of the Year “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” Keith Urban “H.O.L.Y.,” Florida Georgia Line
“Humble and Kind,” Tim McGraw
“My Church,” Maren Morris
“Vice,” Miranda Lambert

Song of the Year
“Blue Ain’t Your Color,” Keith Urban
Songwriters: Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey, Steven Lee Olsen

“Die a Happy Man,” Thomas Rhett
Songwriters: Thomas Rhett, Sean Douglas, Joe Spargur

“Humble and Kind,” Tim McGraw
Songwriter: Lori McKenna

“Kill a Word,” Eric Church Featuring Rhiannon Giddens
Songwriters: Eric Church, Luke Dick, Jeff Hyde

“Tennessee Whiskey,” Chris Stapleton
Songwriters: Dean Dillon, Linda Hargrove

“Vice,” Miranda Lambert
Songwriters: Miranda Lambert, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne

Video of the Year “Fire Away,” Chris Stapleton
Director: Tim Mattia

“Forever Country,” Artists of Then, Now & Forever
Director: Joseph Kahn

“Humble and Kind,” Tim McGraw
Director: Wes Edwards

“Peter Pan,” Kelsea Ballerini
Director: Kristin Barlowe

“Vice,” Miranda Lambert
Director: Trey Fanjoy

Vocal Event
“Different for Girls,” Dierks Bentley Featuring Elle King
“Forever Country,” Artists of Then, Now & Forever
“May We All,” Florida Georgia Line Featuring Tim McGraw
“Setting the World on Fire,” Kenny Chesney Featuring P!nk
“Think of You,” Chris Young Featuring Cassadee Pope

Songwriter of the Year
Ashley Gorley
Luke Laird
Hillary Lindsey
Shane McAnally
Lori McKenna


Reba McEntire Rocks Ryman Headlining Debut

Delivers Two Performances of Hits and New Inspirational Favorites 

Those who saw Reba McEntire’s two-show headlining debut at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium witnessed a master at work.
She was Oklahoma tough throughout Tuesday’s (Feb. 15) matinee performance, delivering two hours of live hits plus selections from her faith-based album Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope. Between songs, she entertained the packed audience with stories chronicling her unprecedented 41-year career.
Another sold-out Ryman show followed later that evening with surprise guests Kelly Clarkson and Trisha Yearwood joining her onstage for their Sing It Now collaboration, “Softly and Tenderly.”
Kicking off the afternoon set with an a cappella version of with “Jesus Loves Me,” the crowd hushed as McEntire made her grand entrance through a backdrop of tufted drapes. As a child, her first paid gig was singing the hymn for a group of cowboys at the Frontier Hotel in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where her pro rodeo father Clark McEntire was competing at the time. The cowboys gave her a nickel for her singing, while her brother Pake got a quarter for his version of “Hound Dog.” But who’s counting?
McEntire then led her eight-piece band into “I Got the Lord on My Side,” a song she co-wrote with her mother.
Next came her first No. 1 “Can’t Even Get the Blues” and “The Fear of Being Alone” from 1996’s What If It’s You. Then she paused to share an embarrassing story about one of her first trips to the Ryman. Growing up, her family was on the road constantly watching her father compete as a champion rodeo roper, and the only vacations they took were visits to Nashville to see the Grand Ole Opry.
The crowd laughed with her when she recalled getting sick on the front steps when she was 8 years old while her mother watched from the front row, not taking her eyes off the Opry stars onstage.
“I said, ‘Mama, I don’t feel good,’” McEntire recalled, “‘I think I’m going to throw up.’ She said, ‘Go find a bathroom.’ So I took off and tried to find a bathroom and then finally, I ran out the front door and I vomited right on the front steps. Did y’all walk in that way?”
Lee Ann Womack was spotted in the balcony singing along to every word with a group of girlfriends as McEntire rolled through “One Promise Too Late,” “Whoever’s in New England” and “Little Rock.”
Then the show took an emotional turn before “Back to God,” one of the new originals from the Sing it Now collection. McEntire walked over to the grand piano where she grabbed a Kleenex to wipe away the tears welling up in her eyes.
“I believe that timing is everything and everything happens for a reason, and this year is no different,” she said. “This album is called Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope. I can’t do without those two things.”

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