Saturday, April 29, 2017

Week-end Country Music Countdown & Country Music News..April 29, 2017 (Now with links)

 COUNTRY CHART Weekend of April 29-30:

1 JASON ALDEAN Any Ol’ Barstool
2 SAM HUNT Body Like a Back Road
3 JOSH TURNER Hometown Girl
5 LUKE COMBS Hurricane *
6 LAUREN ALAINA Road Less Traveled
10 BRETT YOUNG In Case You Didn’t Know
11 KENNY CHESNEY Bar At The End of the World
12 DAN & SHAY How Not To
14 RASCAL FLATTS Yours If You Want It
15 KEITH URBAN The Fighter w/Carrie Underwood
17 FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE God, Your Mama, & Me
19 TRENT HARMON There’s A Girl



Willie Nelson Turns 84 With God’s Problem Child

Longtime Producer Buddy Cannon Talks About Working With a Master Artist 

The first time Grammy-winning producer and songwriter Buddy Cannon received a song idea from Willie Nelson via a text message, it shocked him.
The message was the beginning of what became “Roll Me Up,” a musical living will of sorts that ended up on Nelson’s 2012 album Heroes.
“It’s the strangest thing I’ve ever done as far as writing a song goes,” Cannon said over the phone during our interview. “But it works. We’ve got about 25 or 30 songs down, and we wrote them all just like that. We’ve never sat together in a room or on his bus with a guitar and said, ‘Let’s write a song.’ We talked about doing that, but we both agree that this is too much fun and it works so well, we’re afraid we’ll mess it up if we try to do it the normal way.
“Usually [Willie] goes to his place in Maui and gets in that mode of life down there,” he added. “When he does that, he starts writing stuff and as he writes it, he’ll just send it to me. It might be two lines. It might be a whole verse. It might be what ends up being a chorus, and he just sends that to me.”
Text was how they started seven songs on Nelson’s latest album God’s Problem Child, a moving 13-song collection that explores the concept of mortality. The began song eight “Still Not Dead” a couple years ago following a flurry of death rumors and hoaxes that have followed Nelson in recent years.

“[Willie] and I laugh about it,” Cannon added. “What can you do? People just say stuff. Maybe somebody heard a rumor that he got sick. Everybody gets sick. Earlier this year, it was rumored that he was on the edge of death. I was talking to him the whole time and he was sick. But he just had this bronchitis.”
Jamey Johnson and Tony Joe White wrote the title track, which features the two singers on guest vocals with Leon Russell in one of Russell’s final studio performances before his death in November 2016.
“I think all human beings are ‘God’s Problem Child’ pretty much,” Cannon said of the title track. “Willie has stated that that title fits him. I know it fits me. I’m sure it fits Jamey and Tony Joe and Leon. It’s a hooky, catchy, sounding phrase, and it would apply to anybody who’s associated with what is called the outlaw country music, or whatever that is.”
Neither Nelson or Cannon artists have any intentions of croaking anytime soon. Willie will ring in his 84th birthday on Saturday (April 29) with a performance at Stagecoach music festival in Indio, California, with his family band. His six-city Outlaw Music Festival with Sheryl Crow, Bob Dylan, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, My Morning Jacket and others starts July 1 in New Orleans. The 44th edition of his annual 4th of July Picnic in Austin will feature sets by Crow, Johnson, Kacey Musgraves and more. Details on Farm Aid 2017 are also coming soon.
Not counting his live sets and compilations, Nelson has released more than 110 albums and still pretty much lives on the road, playing more than 100 tour dates a year.
“What makes him such a great interpreter of emotion is the fact that he sings in this rhythmic sense that’s different from everybody else,” Cannon added. “It’s simple. It’s really simple but it’s not so simple. And the sound of his voice, he has a really unique tone. If you hear Willie singing in an elevator in a real low level, there’s no doubt who it is.
“And I think that is the key to his success and the longevity of his career. It’s that abstract way of playing and singing that is so unlike anything else that you’ll ever hear. There’s no genre or boundaries restraining him.”


Stagecoach 2017: Who’s Playing and How to Listen

Exclusive: Cole Swindell Talks Stagecoach Debut 
 It’s hard to believe that this weekend marks Cole Swindell‘s Stagecoach debut. He’s always wanted to play the festival in Indio, California, but major tours with Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and others over the last few years have kept him from playing the event.
“I’ve always missed it either because of the tour I was on or I had something else going on,” Swindell tells “Every artist you can ever dream of has played it. I’m just thankful that this is my chance.”
The schedule for Dierks Bentley‘s What the Hell Tour has Swindell, Bentley and Jon Pardi playing night one of Stagecoach on Friday (April 28).
 Swindell wishes he could stay to see Shania Twain headline on Saturday night (April 29). The What the Hell Tour will be in Freso, California, during her Stagecoach performance, which will include her biggest hits plus new songs from her first album in 15 years. The collection lands in September and its lead single “Life’s About to Get Good” arrives at radio in June. “I still haven’t seen a Shania show,” Swindell admits. “I’ll never forget when ‘Any Man of Mine’ came out. I was like, ‘Who is this?!’ Now I’m getting to do what she’s done for years and getting to play shows — except she’s on a different level than I am.”
For those who want to take Stagecoach on the go using their smartphone, CMT will be there documenting all the action from Indio’s Empire Polo Club on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat @CMT, and Pandora will stream select sets live all weekend long.
Friday’s stream will include performances by Bentley, Swindell, Pardi, Randy Houser, Maddie & Tae, Elle King, Randy Rogers Band, Son Volt, William Michael Morgan, Justin Townes Earle, Anderson East, Dylan Scott, Ryan Hurd, Quiet Life and Bailey Bryan.
Saturday’s stream will carry sets by Brett Eldredge, Kip Moore, Willie Nelson and Family, Maren Morris, Dan + Shay, Jamey Johnson, Margo Price, Tucker Beathard, Nikki Lane, Robert Ellis, Brent Cobb, John Doe, Traveller, Jonathan Tyler, Brooke Eden, the Walcotts, Ruston Kelly, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Black Pistol Fire and Jackie Lee.
Sunday’s (April 30) schedule includes performances by Thomas Rhett, Tyler Farr, Cam, Cowboy Junkies, the Cadillac Three, Wynonna & the Big Noise, Terry Allen, Steep Canyon Rangers, Cody Johnson, Luke Combs, Kiefer Sutherland, LANco, Levi Hummon, Courtney Cole, Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors and Dan Layus.
Kenny Chesney closes the 11th annual event on Sunday.


Tim McGraw Makes 50 Sound Good

Still Making Music That Matters 
 I don’t know how Tim McGraw feels about turning 50 on Monday (May 1). But if I had to make an educated guess, I’d say he’s one of those “gets-better-with-age” kind of guys.
Because when I talked to him in 2013 on the 20th anniversary of his first No. 1 song “Don’t Take the Girl,” he told me that he’s more than OK with being one of the older artists on country radio.
And some of the things he hoped when we talked a few years ago have already happened.
1. “I feel like I’m getting better. Like I’m just now figuring out who I am as an artist, in a lot of ways. It’s like a shape’s starting to take form. And I feel like in the next 10 years of my career, I’ll make the best music I’ve ever made,” McGraw told me at the time.
Well, mission accomplished. His past two albums — Sundown Heaven Town in 2014 and Damn Country Music in 2015 — have had some of his best songs, especially the massive hit, “Humble and Kind.”
2. “As you get older, you realize that you’re not just singing about you in particular. You’re singing about everybody else that’s out there. So you find songs with a character in that song, and you sort of walk through that song as the character in a lot of ways. You’ve gotta realize people are living vicariously through these songs, so you can’t get stuck on what’s about you,” he said.
So while McGraw may be exactly like the guy in his latest singles, “How I’ll Always Be” and “Speak to a Girl,” the hillbilly-proud character he plays in his “Truck Yeah” song is just that. A character.
3. “I think now, I still want to lead the race. I still want to be the guy. I want all those things, but I’ve always been a music guy, so I want to make what I do lasting. I’ve always wanted my music to matter,” McGraw told me.
It does matter. And it seems like the older he gets, the less likely he is to cut songs that don’t.
McGraw and his wife Faith Hill have tour stops this weekend in Louisville, Kentucky, and Indianapolis, and then it looks like he may be able to spend his 50th birthday at home.


Steve Earle Enlists Miranda Lambert, Willie Nelson for New Album

So You Wannabe an Outlaw Set for June 16 Release
 Steve Earle’s new album, So You Wannabe an Outlaw, will be released June 16 and features guest appearances by Miranda Lambert, Willie Nelson and another Texas music mainstay, Johnny Bush.
Although Earle was raised near San Antonio, the project marks his first recording sessions in Austin and his first album for Warner Bros. Records since 1997’s El Corazón. After establishing his career in Nashville with the 1986 Grammy-winning album Guitar Town, he has resided in New York City for the past decade.
“There’s nothing ‘retro’ about this record,” Earle said. “I’m just acknowledging where I’m coming from. … Look, I’m always gonna be a Texan, no matter what I do. And I’m always going to be somebody who learned their craft in Nashville. It’s who I am.”
Dedicated to the late Waylon Jennings, So You Wannabe an Outlaw pays tribute to the Outlaw music movement led by Jennings, Willie Nelson, Tompall Glaser and others.
“I was out to unapologetically ‘channel’ Waylon as best as I could,” Earle said about the album. “This record was all about me playing on the back pick-up of a ’66 Fender Telecaster on an entire record for the first time in my life. The vocal part of it is a little different. I certainly don’t sound like Waylon Jennings.
“I moved to Nashville in November of 1974, and right after that, Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger came out. I was around when Waylon was recording Dreaming My Dreams. Guitar Town wound up being kind of my version of those types of songs.”
The Dukes, Earle’s longtime band, recorded the album with him.
Nelson is featured on the title track, with Lambert joining Earle on “This Is How It Ends.” Bush, who wrote one of Nelson’s signature songs, “Whiskey River,” is featured on “Walkin’ in L.A.” The deluxe version of the album also features four cover tracks, including Jennings’ Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way,” Nelson’s “The Local Memory” and Billy Joe Shaver’s “Ain’t No God in Mexico.”


Why Tim McGraw Was Mad at Little Big Town

“Damn You,” He Told Jimi Westbrook 
 All the best stories seem to come from being backstage at awards shows.
When Little Big Town‘s Jimi Westbrook saw Tim McGraw at the ACM Awards, things got real, really fast.
“I was strolling off, and Tim McGraw is standing there, and he was like, ‘Damn you. I wanted that song,'” Westbrook told Billboard.
“That song” was Little Big Town’s latest single “Happy People.”
Little Big Town got first dibs on the song originally written by Lori McKenna and Hailey Whitters, but Westbrook knew that McGraw has had his fair share of McKenna love. She wrote his hit ballad “Humble and Kind.”
“And I said, ‘You got the last one, buddy. We’re even,'” he recalled telling McGraw.
What Westbrook loves about the song, he said, is that it is simple, yet profound. And very timely.
“People’s lives are hectic, and it seems that social media has made it so easy to tear people down with anonymity. People feel free to hurt and drag people down to make themselves feel better for whatever reason, and I’m just tired of that.
“Treat people how you want to be treated,” he said.
And if the band’s message hits home, and the new song wins big at the next round of awards shows, Westbrook will be happy. But he admitted that the trophies aren’t the true end game.
“That stuff’s great, but that’s not why you do these things,” he said.


Brandi Carlile Defines “Dolly-Ize”

Dolly Parton’s “The Story” on May 5’s Cover Stories
 Brandi Carlile says she was dreaming big when she sent a handwritten letter to Dolly Parton with a special request. But in that note, Carlile said something she can never take back.
Carlile asked Parton if she would be interested in covering the title track of her 2007 debut The Story for a new benefit album supporting children impacted by war.
Her only mistake was suggesting that they drop the song’s key down in case it was too high for Parton’s vocal range.
“I’m sharing with you my humiliation because it’s making me feel better every time I say this,” Carlile recalled Tuesday (April 25) during her concert at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. “You may have noticed, there’s a couple high notes in that song. So I write in the letter, ‘And don’t worry, Dolly, I’d be happy to drop it down a couple of keys for you.'”
Parton’s response is worthy of framing. In a beautiful letter on high-end paper with the official “Dolly” letterhead, the music icon said she would be honored to sing the song.
“It just says ‘Dolly’ on top of it in about three-inch letters in hot pink, and then the ‘y’ becomes a butterfly,” Carlile described onstage. “So she writes back in the letter and she goes, ‘And honey, don’t you worry about changing that key. I’m going to Dolly-ize it. I don’t expect to do it justice like you, but I promise you, that key will be fine for me.’
“When you listen to Dolly sing ‘The Story,'” Carlile continued, “you’ll notice, every note I hit, she starts there and then goes above it. I felt my life flashing before my eyes.”
Carlile’s set at the Ryman included The Story in its entirety, Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California,” a few song requests from fans and new tracks from a follow-up to 2015’s The Firewatcher’s Daughter.
Cover Stories: Brandi Carlile Celebrates Ten Years of The Story — An Album to Benefit War Child lands May 5. Kris Kristofferson, Margo Price, the Avett Brothers and Adele are among the country, Americana, rock and pop acts who’ve contributed performances for the 14-song compilation.


Kelsea Ballerini Prepares to Cover Britney Spears in Front of Britney Spears

Joins Medley with Hailee Steinfeld and Sofia Carson on Radio Disney Music Awards 
 Kelsea Ballerini jokes her feelings about covering Britney Spears live in front of the pop star herself can be summed up in one look.
She’s scheduled to perform a medley of Spears’ biggest hits with Hailee Steinfeld and Sofia Carson at the 2017 Radio Disney Music Awards on Saturday (April 29) in Los Angeles. Spears is the recipient of the RDMA’s inaugural icon award, which recognizes an artist whose career transcends popular culture.
Ballerini and Carson will co-host the show with Jordan Fisher, Alex Aiono and Jenna Ortega. The event will air Sunday (April 30) on Disney-branded platforms.
Ballerini will also perform at the iHeart Country Festival on May 6 in Austin, Texas with Jason Aldean, Little Big Town, Dierks Bentley and others. She joins Lady Antebellum‘s You Look Good Tour starting May 26 in Bakersfield, California.


Little Big Town and CMA Fest Artists Honor Music Educators

31 Instructors Receive Stipends at CMA Music Teachers of Excellence Dinner 
 Long before they signed their first record deals, many of music’s biggest acts’ careers started with a music teacher believing in their talent.
On Wednesday (April 26) at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium, Little Big Town and the CMA Foundation hosted the second annual CMA Music Teachers of Excellence dinner to honor 31 music educators from across the nation for their dedication to their students and school communities. Each instructor was presented with a stipend from the foundation in recognition of their accomplishments.
Joining the teachers at each table were acts who have played the CMA Music Festival. Historically, those who perform at the annual event do so for free, with ticket proceeds from the nightly concerts supporting music education through the CMA Foundation. To date, the CMA has donated more than $17.5 million for music education.
Those in attendance at Wednesday’s event included Chase Bryant, Kristian Bush, Lindsay Ell, Seth Ennis, David Fanning, Chelsea Gill, Hunter Hayes, Olivia Lane, Dustin Lynch, Scotty McCreery, William Michael Morgan, Jerrod Niemann and Corey Smith.
Before the dinner, the CMA surprised Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild, Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet with a reunion with their former music teachers. Fairchild reconnected with her former church choral music director Billy Jack Green, who can recall discussing her talent with her parents before they discovered she could sing.
Westbrook was reunited with Sarah Glover, his former choral teacher, while Sweet got to reconnect with Julia Lansford, his choral director in college. Kimberly Schlapman’s teachers were unable to make the event, but they sent her letters. 


Toby Keith on a Country Divided

He Explains Why He Hates Politics 
 When Toby Keith was on CNN Tonight With Don Lemon on Wednesday night (April 26), he talked first about what inspired him to write “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” back in 2001.
“My dad was a soldier. And he’d just passed away about six months before 9/11. We were raised in a soldier’s house, and being raised there, you were around the veterans and the pride that they take in their views of the flag and the country and what things stand for,” Keith said.
“I was just like, ‘Man, what would my dad do today if he was alive and watching this happen?'” he said.
Then the conversation turned to bigger picture politics and Keith’s reluctance to take sides.
Keith has been a USO supporter and performer for 15 years, and he said he’s played for all the presidents who have been in office since he had his first recording contract. And he explained why he does what he does, including his performance at one of Donald Trump’s inauguration events.
“I’ve never turned it down,” he said of the invitations from the presidents. “It’s more of a duty to me, and a true honor to perform for your country. Whether I agree or disagree — we’ve never had a leader in this country that I agreed with across the board on everything they do — because I hate politics,” he said.
His reason?
“Everybody wants their side to get what they want,” he said. “It seems like we get divided more and more all the time.”


Charley Pride Schedules First Studio Album in Six Years

Music in My Heart Set for Release on July 7 
 Country Music Hall of Fame member Charley Pride will release Music in My Heart, his first studio album in more than six years, on July 7.
The project was produced by singer-songwriter Billy Yates, whose songwriting credits include “Choices,” a 1999 hit for the late George Jones.
“My goal was to record the best traditional country album possible,” Pride said in announcing the project. “But I also wanted someone else to handle all of the producer chores so that I could focus more on my singing.
“Billy Yates and I started working together early last year. His self-produced albums show a strong respect for traditional country, and he’s a good songwriter, too. Finding the right songs took a while … but we did find some wonderful songs, and I’m very happy with how everything sounds.”
The album includes songs written by Yates, Bill Anderson, Tommy Collins and others, including a remake of “The Way It Was In ’51,” written and recorded by Merle Haggard in the late ’70s. The project also features “Natural Feeling for You,” written by Ben Peters, who also wrote one of Pride’s signature hits, “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’.”
Still actively touring, Pride’s performance schedule in May includes a six-date Canadian tour. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.

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