Wednesday, March 1, 2017

(BROUGHT BACK) Mid-week Country Music Countdown & Country Music News..March 1, 2017

 COUNTRY CHART Weekend of February 25-26:

1 DUSTIN LYNCH Seein’ Red *
3 CHRIS YOUNG Sober Saturday Night
4 THOMAS RHETT Star Of The Show
6 MICHAEL RAY Think A Little Less
7 BLAKE SHELTON A Guy With a Girl
8 JON PARDI Dirt On My Boots
10 MAREN MORRIS 80s Mercedes
12 LAUREN ALAINA Road Less Traveled
13 GRANGER SMITH If The Boot Fits
14 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


George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Other Stars Light Up T.J. Martell’s Nashville Fundraiser

Charity Honors Scott Hamilton, Rod Essig, Louis Messina, Dr. Joseph Smith, Janet Miller 

Stars were practically coming out of the light fixtures Monday night (Feb. 27) at the ninth annual T.J. Martell Foundation’s Nashville Honors gala held at the plush Omni Hotel.
Before the evening ended, the crowd of some 500 well-heeled and well-connected donors were serenaded by and/or mingling with George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Kelsea Ballerini, Eric Church, Chris Young, Montgomery Gentry, Charlie Daniels, Frankie Ballard, Craig Campbell, Styx’s Tommy Shaw and singer-actress Clare Bowen.
“As you might have heard, my character has had a tough week,” said actor Charles Esten as he welcomed the crowd. He was referring, of course, to the widely-reported tragedy that beset the family of Deacon Claybourne, the character he portrays on CMT’s Nashville.
It was Esten’s fifth year of hosting the banquet and auction that raises funds for cancer research.
This year’s honorees were cancer research pioneer Dr. Joseph Smith, Olympic skating gold medalist Scott Hamilton; former Nashville Chamber of Commerce economic development officer Janet Miller, talent agent Rod Essig and concert and tour promoter Louis Messina.
Ballard opened the musical proceedings, accompanying himself on guitar and singing his 2013 hit, “Helluva Life.”
He was followed by Warner Music Nashville chief John Esposito, who paid tribute to the late music executive Tony Martell. Martell started the charity in 1975 after his son, T.J., died of leukemia. The fund has subsequently raised nearly $300 million for research, Esposito reported.
The elder Martell died last November at the age of 90.
Urging the audience to do even more for the cause, Esposito said, “I want 2017 to be the year of Tony,” and with that he raised a glass of champagne and invited everyone to join him in a toast to Martell with the flutes of champagne already conveniently placed at each table setting.
It was an elegant dinner that featured rosemary-seared beef tenderloin steak and soft, butter-poached shrimp. Uniformed waiters stood at the ready to pour more wine as each glass was emptied. Bars remained open outside the dining area to service more resolute drinkers.
Esten returned to his hosting duties to introduce Bowen, who plays his niece Scarlett on Nashville. Diagnosed with cancer when she was 4 years old, the Australian actress sang “Love Steps In” to honor her brother, who was found to have cancer at 25.
Charlie Daniels, a cancer survivor himself, presented Dr. Smith the medical research advancement award and told how the physician had comforted, reassured and treated him after his diagnosis. He also noted that Smith, who is at the forefront of high-tech cancer treatment, also goes regularly to Third World countries to apply his medical expertise to impoverished patients who would otherwise have no hope of cure.
The reliably humorous Brad Paisley came out to roast and toast Hamilton, his longtime friend. After singing his latest single, “Today,” Paisley picked up on Esten’s reference to Hamilton as “an American treasure.”
“He’s not big enough to be a treasure,” the less-than-towering Paisley mused. “He’s more of an American trinket.”
Paisley praised Hamilton for his look-on-the-bright-side attitude, even after three separate bouts with cancer. He said that after Hamilton was operated on for testicular cancer, he brandished a license plate that read “RT1LFT.”
Hamilton took the ribbing in good humor. Accepting the lifetime humanitarian award, he paused to explain that after Paisley’s Grand Ole Opry friend Little Jimmy Dickens died, he’s become the butt of all the singer’s “short jokes.”
Esten related a cancer story that hit close to home. He said that after his 2-and-half-year old daughter was found to have leukemia, he was told that there was a good chance she would survive it. And, she has, he reported. “She’s now a junior at Brentwood High School and looking toward going to college.”
Next up was Ballerini, who sang her No. 1 single from last year, “Peter Pan”

Nashville Mayor Megan Berry presented Miller the Spirit of Nashville award for her work in bringing industries to the city and for the example of achievement she set for other women.
In tribute to Essig, his friend and talent agent, Shaw sang an acoustic version of Styx’s 1978 single, “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights),” which he said he wrote for his father.
John Huie, Essig’s partner at Creative Artists Agency and board chairman of the T.J. Martell Foundation, presented Essig the Frances Preston outstanding music industry achievement trophy. The late Preston was president was CEO of BMI, the performance rights organization, and inspiration for the Frances Williams Preston Laboratories at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville.
Strait kicked off the final award round of the evening.
“From one old troubadour to another,” he said from the stage, gesturing toward the table at which Messina sat. With that, he sang “Troubadour,” his wistful hit from 2008.
Chesney, another of Messina’s superstars, came out to join Strait, who seemed in an unusually expansive mood.
“What have you gotten me into?” Chesney demanded of Messina. “You know I can’t do this.” But on he went. 
 He said that in honor of the occasion he had given a writer $20 to write him a speech, which he then began to read, painstakingly reciting the opening gibberish of the song “Louie Louie.”
Then, adopting a Donald Trump tone of delivery, he said that Messina was “a huge idea guy … huge … believe me.”
“I’m just a rock ‘n’ roll promoter,” Messina said, as he stood holding the Tony Martell lifetime entertainer achievement award. “All I do is bring a little music to America. And, actually, now global.”
In addition to Strait and Chesney, his vehicles for bringing “a little music” now include Taylor Swift, Eric Church and Ed Sheeran.
Messina said he’s wanted to promote concerts ever since he was 7 years old and saw Elvis Presley perform.


Alison Krauss’ Windy City Blows In at No. 1

Little Big Town's “Better Man” Is Top Song for Second Week 

The incomparable Alison Krauss sweeps in at No. 1 on Billboard‘s country albums chart this week with Windy City, her first solo album (no Union Station here) since Forget About It in 1999.
Nielsen SoundScan reports that the album sold 36,488 copies its first week out. Surely celebrations have broken out across the nation at having Krauss back.
On the songs side, Little Big Town‘s “Better Man” holds its top spot as most-played country song for the second week in a row.
There’s comparatively little activity in the lower reaches of either chart. There are only two other new albums — Jessie James Decker‘s Gold EP (arriving at No. 5) and Nikki Lane‘s Highway Queen (No. 41).
Returning to the charts are Tim McGraw‘s Number One Hits (No. 36), Brantley Gilbert‘s Just as I Am (No. 45) and Luke Bryan‘s Tailgates & Tanlines (No. 47).
The only new song is Brett Eldredge‘s “Somethin’ I’m Good At,” which pops up at No. 32.
The No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 albums, in that order, are Garth Brooks’ The Ultimate Collection, Gilbert’s The Devil Don’t Sleep and Keith Urban‘s Ripcord.
Last week’s top album, Reba McEntire‘s Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope, has slipped to No. 6.


Luke Bryan Will “Train Wreck the Show,” If Necessary

ACM Awards Hosts Have a Plan in Case of Emergency 

If any kind of Warren Beatty situation goes down at the upcoming Academy of Country Music Awards, hosts Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley have a plan.
They would, in Bryan’s words, “train wreck the show.”
He joked with The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville that if something went wrong, like it did on Sunday night (Feb. 26) at the Academy Awards when Beatty accidentally announced the wrong winner for best picture, they’d be ready with some kind of diversion.
“Luke’s going to have a wardrobe malfunction. At least that way everyone talks about that and not the show,” Bentley said. “We played it so loose last year at the top, we could have had our own Oscar moment.”
“What a debacle, but it gets a lot of press,” Bryan added.
“It’s sad nobody is talking about what happened at the Oscars. That’s our approach, Dierks,” he said, “train wreck the show.”
The ACM Awards show takes place April 2 in Las Vegas.


Tara Thompson: CMT Next Women of Country Live Exclusive

Tennessee Native Sings It Like It Is With Cheeky “WTF” 

She is what she is, and what you see is really what you get — and the words to Tara Thompson‘s song “WTF” could not ring truer.
Breezing into country music like a breath of fresh Smoky Mountain air, the East Tennessee native came on the scene with a mission to spearhead the revival of hillbilly gals in country music.
This song, an acronym reinvented to represent the “White Trash Female,” is a fine start.
The refreshingly real and cheeky tune, penned by Thompson with Alex Kline, Erin Enderlin and Kimberly Kelly, is an ode to the magnificence of being a “white trash” woman, which honestly may be the greatest title one could ever be given, when you think about it. Driving around smoking, blasting Tammy Wynette with precision-perfect press-on nails and a spray tan — sign us up, right?
And let those boys whistle as she drives on by. Her devil-may-care attitude truly could not care less.
Thompson continues to give country music a big old reality check, writing and singing about the real and relatable in her own unique voice and traditionally-rooted twang. Sometimes it’s sassy, sometimes it’s somber, sweet and earnest. But that’s life, a revolving door of emotions, feelings and moments, and Thompson stays true to them all.
This ball-cap sporting, White Castle burger-loving Thompson is in a lane of her own with a legion of fans eager to hear her keep on telling it like it is. We’re right there with them.
Preach on, sister. Preach on.


Darius Rucker on the Timing of Things

College Gave Him the Freedom to Play All Night 

He started a band when he was at the University of South Carolina, and that band — Hootie & the Blowfish — went on to be one of the best-selling and most popular rock bands of the ’90s.
And when I caught up with Rucker in Nashville last week, he told me he wouldn’t have it any other way and that the timing of his music was perfect.
“I was glad I never started any bands in high school. Hootie & the Blowfish was my very first band,” Rucker told me about the group he formed with friends in the ’80s.
“In college, you don’t have all of the constraints of living with your parents and worrying about being home by curfew. When you’re in college, you can be in a band, play all night, and write songs all night if you want to.
“You have time to get to know yourself, and get to know your band members. Traveling from town to town on the weekends playing shows — those college years are the best time to do that because you have the freedom to do those things.”
After college, Rucker and his band were still playing those gigs, and writing those songs. One in particular comes back to him vividly even though he wrote it about 25 years ago.
“I remember writing ‘Let Her Cry’ like it was yesterday,” he told me of the song that went on to win a Grammy in 1996.
“I was by myself. I’d gone out that night, and I’d heard ‘She Talks To Angels’ by The Black Crowes for the first time, and it blew my mind. I thought, ‘This is genius.’ I came home late, pulled out Bonnie Raitt‘s Home Plate record and listened to it while I played video games.
“When the record was over, I said, ‘I’m gonna write a song like The Black Crowes one for Bonnie Raitt.’ I wrote ‘Let Her Cry’ that night,” he said, adding, “I still want her to cut it.”


CRS New Faces Show: Familiar Visages and Songs

Maren Morris, William Michael Morgan, Granger Smith, Jon Pardi, Drake White Perform for Industry Insiders 

Drake White, William Michael Morgan, Granger Smith, Jon Pardi and Maren Morris all came across polished and professional during their performances Friday night (Feb. 24) at the Country Radio Seminar’s New Faces show in Nashville, but it was hardly their fault that they seemed more entertaining than charismatic.
The New Faces shows used to be threaded through with a sense of discovery, of witnessing artists just as they were blossoming. That’s no longer the reality.
This year, every one of these singers — with the possible exception of White — has had a ton of exposure via multiple music videos, award show appearances and guest spots on national television. Morris has even won a Grammy. And, apart from these very public displays of their music, they’ve all done those interminable rounds of radio station visits, too.
So performing at the Omni Hotel to a room filled with jaded, media-wise radio programmers and making them sit up and take notice after days of panel discussions and parties requires more than mere competence and congeniality.
That there were no bands or vocal duos this year also dragged down the interest level.
Ah, but there were moments.
White hit the stage like a coiled spring and, with evangelistic fervor, proceeded to wring every last drop of sensuality out of his opening number, “It Feels Good.” He even worked in a bit of good-ol’-boy choreography to keep eyes front.
From there, he barreled through his idyllic “Livin’ a Dream” and then eased into his paean to emotionally sincerity, “Heartbeat,” By the end of that song, he’d elevated his observations it into a ringing anthem. White took his leave with a nod to women who stand by their men, “Making Me Look Good Again,” telling the men in the audience, “If you can’t get it done after this [song], dude, it’s your fault.”
Morgan led with the title cut from his debut album, Vinyl, thereby bowing in with an easy-listening vibe. But he ramped up the sound quickly with the rowdy but right-on “Thank a Beer Drinker.” Don’t be surprised if this one — with its array of working-class images — ends up as the theme of a major advertising campaign.
Morgan shifted gears again with his love song to a dying father, “I Know Who He Is.” It’s easily the most moving such tribute since Bobby Pinson brought us to tears with “Ford Fairlane.” For the wrapup, Morgan proffered “Missing” and his 2015 breakthrough hit, “I Met a Girl.”
Whether Morgan will become the savior of traditional country music, as some predict, is still open to debate. It’s clear, though, that his inclination toward strong stories and sentiments have made him one of that genre’s brightest exponents.
At the age of 37 and with nine albums to his credit, Smith was the most stage-tested and road-savvy of the bunch. And it showed in the ease with which he went about his work. He kicked things off with “If the Boot Fits,” his second chart single, then rewound to his first No. 1, “Backroad Song,” which he led into with the intro to “Free Fallin’.”
After some riffing on his debt to radio, Smith trotted off stage to re-emerge as his rube alter-ego, Earl Dibbles Jr. Wearing bib overalls and waving a “Yee Yee” emblazoned flag, “Dibbles” regaled the audience with “The Country Boy Song,” a basket of deplorable stereotypes beside which Hank Jr.’s “A Country Boy Can Survive” would sound like James Taylor. A sample line: “I keep a 12-gauge by my waterbed/’Cause the next trailer over is a meth head.”
These shenanigans earned “Dibbles” a standing ovation from a small part of the crowd. At the same time, a steady stream of CRS folks was leaving the room to mingle at the bars outside.
Pardi plunged into action with the fast-paced and leering “Cowboy Hat,” a visible crowd-pleaser. But if he doted seeing his girl in his first song, he dreaded seeing her in his second, “She Ain’t in It.” Here he tells a friend who’s trying to lure him out for a night of honky-tonking, “Don’t wanna hear her name/Don’t wanna see her face.”
His next offering was “Head Over Boots,” his No. 1 single and as traditional sounding as anything Morgan had showcased earlier. Pardi concluded with his current single, the sprightly and dance-oriented “Dirt on My Boots.”
(Yes, that was the third song of the evening with boots in the title.}
The crowd yelled with approval when Morris came on stage but was noticeably subdued as her set progressed. That appeared to have more to do with the lateness of the hour than with the quality of her performance.
A part of the problem, as well, was that Morris’ delicate voice had trouble being heard over the loudness of her band. Fortunately, the crowd had only to distinguish the “Woh-oh” exclamations in her “80s Mercedes” lead-off to feel in comfortable territory.
Her message came through more firmly and distinctly in “I Could Use a Love Song,” which, she announced, will be her next single. It’s a song about feeling jaded about what passes for romance and needing to return (at least mentally) to the freshness and wonder of new love.
Then it was on to the much-heralded and radio-friendly “My Church,” for which she won a best country solo performance Grammy. In an admirable departure from the other acts, Morris paused her program to introduce the members of her band.
She closed her set and the evening with the sparkling but self-reproaching “Rich.” But by this time she was singing largely to receding backs.

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