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Jack Blanchard’s Column: Railroad Days

Jack Blanchard’s Column

RAILROAD DAYS…

A long time ago 
we were on our way to do a national television show 
from the PBS main studio in Pittsburgh,
and then to a Nashville recording session. 
Tennessee Birdwalk had become a surprise hit.
Sometimes life can be good. 

The porter showed us to our compartment and stowed our luggage. 
Orlando was sliding away past our windows, 
so we settled down, propped our feet on our suitcases,
and waited for snow.

An official voice over the PA system:
“You’re invited to the dining car for the hospitality hour”,
Free coffee and orange juice”.
Misty said, “Let’s live a little”,
and we staggered forward with the sway of the train.
Passing through the club car, the train rounded a curve,
and Misty sat on an elderly man’s lap.
His wife said, “Well, I never” and glared out the window at nothing.
She failed to see the humor in it.

The best part of the dining car
is watching the scenery fly by in sunset colors.
Telephone poles tick away the time,
and up ahead the train whistle adds to the adventure.
At every road and city street, cars are lined up 
waiting for us to pass by.
Make way for the train, the biggest thing that moves on land!

We stayed awake most of that night
wiping our breath steam from the train window,
and watching the sparkling towns and moonlit woodlands
fall away behind us.

Washington DC was having a brisk morning
as we left our luxury train 
and boarded a coach bound for Pittsburgh,
which wove slowly through the gray land Appalachia.
There were untidy traces of leftover winter,
dingy crusts of snow and slush.

Smoky air had left its film on town and country alike, 
dulling the colors.
Trees, houses, factories, cars, dogs, cats, grass, and people
all blend to a drab tannish gray.

Men in work clothes stand in the cold rain
waiting for the train to take them home after another hard day.

A pregnant woman
struggles to get a baby carriage over the curbside slush pile
without dropping her bag of groceries.
Clothes are functional.
No time for style.

A gang of workmen lined up in the aisle waiting to get off,
whisper and snicker at our haircut and clothes.
We must seem outlandish to them.
Misty and I smile at each other, taking no offense.
The train stops and they file off,
lunch boxes under their arms,
heads bowed against the gray rain,
each seeking out the dreary street that leads home.

The train was owned by The Baltimore and Ohio/Chesapeake 
and Ohio Railroad,
and the train staff was proud of it:
R.G. Whitling, Conductor; L. Boone, Flagman,  
and E.A. Popp, Baggageman.
Their hospitality brought color back to this leg of the journey.
Nature soon followed suit, producing a beautiful rocky river
that wandered for miles through scenic hill country.

Journeys can remain
after destinations fade from memory.

Jack Blanchard

jackmistysunhat001

Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan…

Home Page: http://www.jackandmisty.net Awards: Grammy, Billboard, CMA, BMI, ASCAP. Mastering & restoration studio: 352-530-2068.  Email: jackandmisty@gmail.com.

© Jack Blanchard,© 2007, 2012, 2019

Years Ago Nashville had a Theme Park Opryland USA

Opryland USA sat in a curve of the Cumberland River now home to a giant mall. It had roller coasters, Southern-themed restaurants and live country music revues. Memories of rides like the Screamin’ Delta Demon are still traded like gold among longtime Nashvillians — as are the rumors of why it all went away.

That was what some listeners asked about in Curious Nashville: Why did Opryland close? The answer is as murky as the waters of the Grizzly River Rampage.

The first thing people assume about the closing of Opryland is that the park was losing money. Recent visitors to Opry Mills Mall buy into that theory: One said he had heard it was “underperforming,” while another visitor assumed it lacked the amount of business to keep it “viable.”

But while attendance had been down slightly in the years leading up to the closing, the man who ran the business for most of its history says money was not the problem.

Tennessean headline from the year of Opryland’s closure
CREDIT TENNESSEAN VIA NEWSPAPERS.COM

“Opryland was successful. And it was successful when they shut it down. We weren’t losing money,” said former Gaylord CEO Bud Wendell.

Wendell stepped away from his post early in 1997, and months later, new leadership decided the park should be scrapped in favor of a new fad: shoppertainment.

Here’s comedian Kathy Griffin in a TV ad from 2000 pitching the concept:

Wendell is not shy about his opinion of that decision.

“Dumbest thing I’ve ever seen,” Wendell states. “And the people that were responsible for it, I would think today would look back on it and say, yeah, it was a dumb, dumb decision. But they felt they could get a greater return on that piece of acreage out there if it were a mall as opposed to a theme park — America’s only musical theme park.”

The people responsible for turning Opryland into Opry Mills Mall included the man who filled Wendell’s shoes for a few years, Terry E London. In addition to the mall, London had another vision for Gaylord — corner the market for Christian music online.

The entertainment world was in the middle of an internet land grab and after selling the park, London had Gaylord buy up Christian music dot-coms. But the internet bubble burst and London was pushed out as Gaylord’s fortunes plummeted far below where it had been when the theme park was still open.

At the time of the park’s closing, London told local media that Opryland would not be able to keep up with high tech investments by other parks but its closest competitor, Dollywood has survived. A recent study by the Pigeon Forge-based entertainment complex shows it has an annual economic impact estimated at more than $1.5 billion.

Beyond the monetary benefits to Nashville’s tourism industry that Opryland might have had were it still operating, Wendell says the city really misses another important aspect that came along with the park.

“We hired about 4,000 young people — you may have been one of them — every year. We trained them. We watched carefully over ’em. We had activities for ’em. They had their own ball teams. We had dances.

“And that disappeared just like that. Jobs. For 4,000 youngsters. Nobody ever thought about that. Nobody I guess still ever thinks about it.”

Wendell says at least once a year he’ll hear rumors about some group or other who say they want to build a new park. But nothing has come of it.

At least, not yet.

Dierks Bentley’s Best Tour Announcement Videos

Dierks Bentley’s Best Tour Announcement Videos

Dierks Bentley is a marking genius putting out hilarious parody videos to spoof his upcoming headlining tours

Dierks Bentley is nothing short of a marketing genius when it comes to gearing up for a new headlining tour. For his past several headlining tours, the Arizona native has put out hilarious spoof videos to showcase what fans can expect from him and his openers.

On Thursday morning, Jan. 10, Bentley took to the ice for a parody of his 2019 tour, calling it the Burning Man Tour (On Ice). Bentley took to a skating rink, showing off his best figure skating moves. Openers Jon Pardi and Tenille Townes joined the “Burning Man” singer in a clip that promised a tour of magic and majesty.

But this wasn’t the first time Bentley has had his tourmates put their best comedic foot forward. Last year, the singer enlisted Brothers Osborne and LANCO for a trippy man of the woods style clip, where the spent a hazy few days out in the wilderness with a shaman in honor of their Mountain High Tour.

But his first spoof video came in 2015 when Bentley invited Kip MooreCanaan Smithand Maddie & Tae out on the road. The singer is known for partaking in polar plunges, often bathing in ice baths while out on tour. But this time, he had his tourmates take the jump with him…right off the side of the boat into icy cold water. The prospect of jumping into an ice bath had Moore reconsidering his spot on the Sounds of Summer Tour altogether.

Check out Bentley’s past tour promos above and don’t miss out on his 2019 Burning Man Tour this winter!

Troy Gentry’s Lives On During Benefit Concert

Troy Gentry’s Impact Lives On During Emotional Benefit Concert

The life of late singer Troy Gentry was honored during a benefit at the Grand Ole Opry featuring Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley & more

It was a true celebration at the Grand Ole Opry on Wednesday, Jan. 9, as multiple generations of country music united to pay homage to their friend, the late Troy Gentry of the duo Montgomery Gentry, at the C’Ya on the Flip Side tribute concert.

The Opry house was filled to capacity with fans–or as Montgomery Gentry calls them, friends–who dedicated their time to honor the memory of Gentry, who was tragically killed in a helicopter crash in 2017. An expansive lineup that featured co-hosts Blake Shelton and Storme Warren, Dierks Bentley, Rascal Flatts, Chris Janson, Jimmie Allenand Dustin Lynch all entertained the loyal crowd with the hits that made Montgomery Gentry one of the genre’s iconic acts.

The event honored Gentry’s legacy not only in music, but in service. The inaugural concert served as a fundraising event for the Troy Gentry Foundation instituted by his wife Angie Gentry, benefiting causes they’ve long harbored a passion for including the TJ Martell Foundation, Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Journey Home Project. “Behind that smile was a huge loving heart and he loved to give to other people,” Angie said glowingly of her late husband. “He was very humble, and I think this would have floored him, all of the outpouring and emotional support and the people that called and wanted to be a part of it.”

In addition to covering their favorite Montgomery Gentry songs, the artists also dedicated their own numbers to Gentry’s memory. After an honorable rendition of “Drink Along Song,” Bentley delivered a moving performance of “I Hold On,” bringing new meaning to the lyrics. “When I did my very first motorcycle Miles & Music events, they were the first ones to say yes to that,” Bentley said of the duo’s participation in his charity ride. “And Troy, he rode with me every year. For 10 years, he had his bike out there on a Sunday, giving up time at home to be there to help raise money for the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.”

One of the most stirring moments of the show came when Shelton offered a poignant reflection of his 17-year friendship with Gentry, looking back on the joyful moments and hardships they endured. “He was literally like a family member to me,” Shelton described. “He was one of my heroes.” He followed the sentiment with a haunting performance of “Over You,” the CMA Award-winning song he wrote with Miranda Lambert about his late brother, recalling the sincere impact the song had on Gentry.

Allen is another artist who knew what it meant to have Gentry as a close friend. The burgeoning star, who brought the audience to its feet with a lively cover of “Hell Yeah,” shared how he met his future mentor at the gym in 2008. Upon learning about Allen’s musical aspirations, Gentry offered him his phone number, and they remained friends that day onward. “He told me, ‘man, just stay true to who you are as a person, who you are as a musician. Eventually, you’ll find your way…it’s about your moral beliefs and who you are as a person,’” Allen recounted of Gentry’s words of advice and belief in him as an artist. “That really helped me, my confidence, for a long time.”

Brice offered another one of the evening’s powerful moments with “I Drive Your Truck.” He was inspired to perform the moving song about losing a loved one by an event that occurred in the days following Gentry’s passing, when a group of his friends took his black Camaro on a joy ride to one of his favorite bars. “Everything about Troy is something to look up to,” Brice reflected. “He was humble, but he was also fun and funny. Life is so short, obviously, and he made the most of it. We all wanna try to be like that.”

The evening came to a somber, yet celebratory close when Montgomery silently walked on to the stage, kissing Gentry’s guitar before placing it in the legendary Opry circle with a single spotlight shining on it. As Gentry’s personal triumph song “Better Me” played in the background, a slideshow of his life unfolded through personal photos with family, friends and on stage alongside his longtime music partner.

“I just wanna keep his legacy alive here, man, and make sure it stays alive in Nashville, and I’m gonna make sure it stays alive on the road,” Montgomery vowed. When he returned to the stage, Montgomery was joined by all of the performers for an all-star sing-along of one of the duo’s defining hits, “My Town.” It was a moment that not only honored the Montgomery Gentry legacy, but Gentry’s timeless spirit, which could be felt in the hallowed Opry house filled with pure musicianship and the fulfilling friendships he spent his life surrounded by.

Byrd To Team Up with Chesnutt as Beaumont Boys

Byrd To Team Up with Mark Chesnutt for Select Dates Billed as The Beaumont Boys

I have missed seeing the legion of fans that we had gained over the years.

BEAUMONT, Texas – With an amazing 34 singles and ten studio albums – four of which are certified gold, one platinum, and double platinum by the RIAA – Tracy Byrd is celebrating 25 years as a recording artist! The tall Texan first hit #1 in 1993 with “Holdin’ Heaven” and has continued releasing hits “Watermelon Crawl,” “Big Love,” “I’m From The Country,” “Ten Rounds of Jose Cuervo,” “Drinkin’ Bone,” and “The Keeper of the Stars,” which went on to win the CMA Song of the Year honor.

Now circa 2019, Tracy Byrd is back at it. After taking a few years off from touring outside of Texas, Tracy is hitting to road to bring his hits to country fans across North America. In addition, Byrd will team up with fellow Beaumont native Mark Chesnutt for select dates billed as The Beaumont Boys. The Beaumont Boys package is being co-booked by Deric Brown of artistLIVE and Risha Rodgers of William Morris Endeavor (WME).

“I am really enjoying getting back out on the road,” says Tracy Byrd. “I loved spending time off watching the kids grow, but I have missed seeing the legion of fans that we had gained over the years. I look forward to reconnecting with them on the road!”

Tracy Byrd has always been something of a maverick. In an industry where careers are often decided in committee, Byrd has always held fast to his own creative vision and has never been afraid to take the road less traveled. That unbridled spirit again prevails on his newest release, “Different Things.” Not only does Tracy continue to deliver no-holds-barred country music, he does so while embarking on a new business model that is setting the standard for artists in today’s competitive music industry.

 

Country Music Stars Who Died in 2018

These Country Artists Died In 2018 and the Genre Will Never Be The Same Again

Country music has seen its share of loss in 2018. The list of country artists who have died in 2018 includes beloved singers and musicians whose deaths were publicly mourned, as well as key behind-the-scenes people whose contributions to country music didn’t garner as much spotlight, but were just as important. Songwriters, producers and engineers who helped shape country music are also among those the genre has lost in 2018.

Lari White, Daryle Singletary and Confederate Railroad founding member Doug Secrest are among the country musicians who have died in 2018. White died after battling cancer, and Secret also struggled with a long illness before his death, while Singletary’s death at the age of 46 shocked Nashville’s music community. Red Dirt country artist Brandon Jenkins was also tragically young when he died in March after experiencing complications following heart surgery he underwent in February. He was just 48 years old. Scroll through the gallery below to look back on the lives and careers of all of the country artists who have died in 2018.

Lari White: After a battle with cancer, ‘90s country singer Lari White died on Jan. 23 at the age of 52. White’s career began when she won a recording contract through the televised talent competition You Can Be a Star. In addition to her hit singles “Now I Know” and “That’s My Baby,” White also wrote songs for Toby KeithLonestarTravis TrittPat Green and Danny Gokey. She also spoke out against discrimination faced by women in radio.

Daryle Singletary: Daryle Singletary died on Feb. 12 at the age of 46. The causes of his tragically early death are still unknown, but since his passing, the country community has celebrated his life. From a tribute concert at the Ryman to a Nashville ‘90s Night in March that ended with Cole SwindellLoCashJohn Michael Montgomery and more covering Singletary’s “Too Much Fun,” country stars have taken to the stage and social media to honor the late singer.

Brandon Jenkins: Brandon Jenkins, known for his Red Dirt style of country music, died on March 2 following complications from heart surgery in February. He was 48. Jenkins released over a dozen albums during his career, and saw many of his songs, including “Feet Don’t Touch the Ground” and “Finger on the Trigger,” become hits on the Texas music charts. Jenkins was also a philanthropist who supported the Red Dirt Relief Fund, a non-profit that supported affordable healthcare options, especially for the families of independent musicians.

Hazel Smith:  Hazel Smith died at the age of 83 in her Madison, Tenn., home on March 18, 2018. Smith garnered acclaim after a long and varied career in country music, which included work as a journalist, songwriter and publicist. She is credited with coining the term “outlaw country” in the late 1970s while working in publicity, when faced with radio stations seeking a term to describe artists such as Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.

Kenny O’Dell:  Kenny O’Dell, the songwriter behind the Judds’ “Mama’s He’s Crazy” and Charlie Rich’s No. 1 single “Behind Closed Doors,” died on March 28 at the age of 72. O’Dell also wrote songs for Tanya TuckerDottie West and Kenny Rogers, and was one of the longest-serving members of the board of directors for the Nashville Songwriters Association International.

Randy Scruggs: Musician, songwriter, studio-owner and producer Randy Scruggs died on April 17, following a short battle with illness. He was 64. The son of Earl Scruggs, Randy Scruggs produced for and performed with artists including Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton and Ricky Skaggs, and wrote for artists like Deana Carter. His surviving family has requested that memorial contributions be made to MusiCares or the TJ Martell Foundation in his honor.

Glenn Snoddy: Glenn Snoddy died on May 21 at the age of 96. He was known as the man behind “the Nashville sound,” the fuzzy, distorted guitar effect that he discovered in 1960 by accident. Using the sound made by a blown amp transformer as his inspiration, he invented the Maestro Fuzz-Tone, which was then acquired by Gibson and soon heard everywhere; if you listen to the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, you’re listening to a Fuzz-Tone. Snoddy also recorded classics like Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and Hank Williams’ final quartet of hits (including “Your Cheatin’ Heart”).

Wayne Secrest: The surviving members of Confederate Railroad shared on June 2 that one of their founding members, Wayne Secrest, had died following a long illness. He was 68. Confederate Railroad’s debut album has been certified platinum and features six Top 40 hits, including “Jesus and Mama” and “Queen of Memphis.” In their Facebook post announcing Secrest’s death, the band writes, “We shared millions of miles, thousands of concerts and a lifetime of memories. Wayne’s memory will live on in every note we play for as long as you allow us to continue.”

DJ Fontana: Drummer DJ Fontana, who rose to fame in the 1950’s as part of Elvis Presley’s band and played for a number of other artists was 87 years old when he died on June 13. Per a Facebook post from Fontana’s son David, the musician died at 9:33PM, in his sleep: “He was very comfortable with no pain,” David Fontana shared.

Ed King: Ed King, a guitarist in the groundbreaking Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, died at his home in Nashville, Tennessee, on August 22nd at the age of 68. He had been battling lung cancer for some time.

Mike Kennedy: Longtime George Strait drummer Mike Kennedy died in a car accident in Tennessee on August 31. He was 59 years old. Kennedy had played in George Strait’s Ace in the Hole Band since the early 1980s. A sad loss for al who knew him.

Burt Reynolds: Burt Reynolds died on September 6 at a hospital in Florida after suffering a heart attack. He was 82. The actor had close ties to the country music scene; he starred with Reba McEntire in the 1993 made-for-TV movie The Man From Left Field, and with Jerry Reed in 1977’s Smokey and the Bandit. Reynolds also released a country album, Ask Me What I Am, in the early 1970s with some success.

Tony Joe White: Singer-songwriter Tony Joe White died at his home in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee, of a heart attack on October 24. He was 75. White released more than a dozen albums as an artist, and earned a Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hit with his song “Polk Salad Annie,” but he was best known as a songwriter. “Polk Salad Annie” was covered by, among others, Elvis Presley, while “Rainy Night in Georgia” was made famous by rock / pop / R&B artist Brook Benton and “Steamy Windows” became a Top 40 single for Tina Turner.

Freddie Hart: Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer Freddie Hart died on October 27 in Burbank, California, after suffering complications from pneumonia. He was 91. Hart is best remembered for “Easy Loving,” which earned Song of the Year at 1971’s ACM Awards and CMA Awards. The song also earned Hart two Grammy nominations and was Billboard‘s No. 1 country single of the year 1971. Freddie recorded a Gospel CD shortly before he died which was something he was proud of.

Dave Rowland: Dave & Sugar singer Dave Rowland died on November 1 in Nashville after suffering complications from a stroke. He was 74. He was best known as the lead singer for the country-pop trio, which scored a run of hit singles from 1975 until 1981 that included “The Door Is Always Open,” “Tear Time,” “Golden Tears” and “My World Begins and Ends With You.”

Roy Clark: Roy Clark died at his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, due to complications from pneumonia on November 15 at the age of 85. The singer, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist was a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry, but he was perhaps best-known for his role on the TV country music variety series Hee Haw.

– TasteOfCountry 

New Country Music Releases Coming In 2019

New Country Music Releases Coming In 2019

Florida Georgia Line, Maren Morris, Brad Paisley and Tim McGraw are four artists

with new country albums slated for 2019 but how long are they goin’ to make you wait

Very few release dates have been announced for the year’s biggest albums, but country fans are amped for albums by Texan Cody Johnson and hitmaker Randy Houser, both slated for January. Carly Pearce, Old Dominion, LoCashand Aaron Watson are a few more with new albums coming, and we’re hearing rumblings from Brantley Gilbert’s people … but we’re not supposed to talk about that yet.

Artists who may be due to release new music but haven’t shared specifics include: Miranda Lambert, Chris Youngand Thomas Rhett. Luke Combs also revealed that he’s hard at work on new music, as is newcomer Riley Green. Which of these albums will be the surprise album of 2019? Take a look at our list so far and then share which album you’re looking forward to in the comments section below.

New Country Music Releases for 2019:

January: Randy Houser, Magnolia
Jan 18
: Cody Johnson: Ain’t Nothin’ To It
Jan. 18: Ronnie Milsap, Ronnie Milsap: The Duets
Feb. 15: Hayes Carll: What It Is

TBD: 
Aaron Watson
Brad Paisley
Carly Pearce
Florida Georgia Line
LoCash
Maddie & Tae
Maren Morris
Old Dominion
Riley Green
Thomas Rhett
Tim McGraw

Here Are the Best Albums of 2018, So Far

Broken Bow Nashville

No. 10: Jason Aldean, Rearview Town

The best songs on Aldean’s eighth studio album come after the halfway point, when he digs into more nourishing stories about love and heartache. “Drowns the Whiskey” (with Miranda Lambert) and “Better at Being Who I Am” are two songs that even those opposed to the way the ACM Entertainer of the Year has stretched the format will concede are as pure as country songs from any era. At 15 songs, the album overflows with ideas and themes, creating a few skip-ahead moments like “Gettin’ Warmed Up” that tarnish an otherwise strong effort.

Warner Music Nashville

No. 9: Michael Ray, Amos

In recalling his grandfather’s name and legacy on AmosMichael Ray puts forth a far more personal album than his 2015 debut. Progressive, beat-heavy tracks like “Forget About It” stay far away from the edges of country music to make more meaningful ballads like “Her World or Mine” more believable. In the end, we’re convinced the latter is more where Ray would like to live.

Monument Records

No. 8: Caitlyn Smith, Starfire

Several of the songs on Starfire can be found on Smith’s impressive EP from 2016, but new genre-crossing tracks like the orchestral “East Side Restaurant” and acoustic “St. Paul” round out an album that cares more about song craftsmanship and lyricism than what genre it falls into. “Contact High” is a song that you need to see performed live ASAP.

Big Loud Records

No. 7: Morgan Wallen, If I Know Me

Quietly, Morgan Wallen has released one of the better debuts of 2018. If I Know Me proves the “Up Down” singer’s vocal range, but mostly showcases strong songwriting and song selection instincts. There’s more rowdy (“Whatcha Know ‘Bout That,” “Happy Hour”) than hurt, but great hooks, attention to detail and a familiar, yet unique redneck country sound define him.

Warner Music Nashville

No. 6: Devin Dawson, Dark Horse

Devin Dawson‘s debut project is a songwriter’s album filled with heartbreak poetry over minor chords. “Asking for a Friend” is the best of them, but “Secondhand Hurt” and “Symptoms” are just as universal. It’s a dynamic project from a singer with deep rock roots. His favorite song is the title track, an autobiographical ballad that closes his live show.

Sony Music Nashville

No. 5: Lanco, Hallelujah Nights

Maybe it’s their boyish charm or maybe it’s their plucky, dynamic hooks and clean country themes, but Lanco are easy to cheer for. Hallelujah Nights is an exercise in sonic diversity, yet no two songs clash. The anthemic “Long Live Tonight” and acoustic “Greatest Love Story” on the same album? Sure! Jay Joyce helms this project and his guidance is every bit as crucial as singer and lead writer Brandon Lancaster’s lyrics.

UMG Nashville

No. 4: Keith Urban, Graffiti U

No one has pushed the sound of country music further toward pop and EDM than Keith Urban, and while some argue Graffiti U takes it too far, there are several great songs among the 14. “Drop Top” with Kassi Ashton is a built-for-summer jam while “Texas Time,” his Don Williams tribute, might be the most “country” thing he’s done in years. Both should be singles. Songs like “Female” and “Gemini” have sparked some debate, but great art rarely comes without controversy. It’s impossible to overlook this one.

UMG Nashville

No. 3: Brothers Osborne, Port Saint Joe

The follow-up to Pawn Shop is a more well-rounded album that still challenges the listener with thoughtful lyrics and second or third-level musicianship. One finds himself exploring guitar solos (there are many, thankfully) and drum licks when not contemplating one-off lyrics like those found in “Slow Your Roll” and “Drink Like Hank” and the bigger picture importance of songs like “While You Still Can.” It’s the kind of album that leaves you wanting the next one immediately.

UMG Nashville

No. 2: Kacey Musgraves, Golden Hour

Our review of Golden Hour gives you all you need.

Warner Music Nashville

No. 1: Ashley McBryde, Girl Going Nowhere

Ashley McBryde looks country tough but gives anyone who listens to her major label debut a big ol’ hug on Girl Going Nowhere, the best country album of 2018 (so far). Her vulnerability throughout the 11-song project is stunning and universal. Nothing panders to radio, yet very few songs feel unfit for mainstream audiences. If given the chance she’ll win the masses, much like Chris Stapleton did with Traveller.

 – TasteOfCountry

William Shatner To Make Grand Ole Opry Debut

William Shatner To Make Grand Ole Opry Debut

Actor William Shatner released his first country-inspired album in 2018

In February, actor William Shatner will make his way to Music City for a once-in-a-lifetime experience: his Grand Ole Opry debut. The actor will take to the famed stage alongside Alabama member Jeff Cook in support of their collaborative project Why Not Me, which debuted in August 2018.

The record follows a long line of other musical projects from Shatner, including Has BeenSeeking Major Tom and Shatner Claus. The decision to take a more country approach on this album was easy for the actor who has been a longtime friend of Brad Paisley. (He appeared in Paisley’s 2003 “Celebrity” music video.)

“Brad Paisley has become a really good friend of mine over the years, and I’ve been an admirer of his and country music for the longest time, and when Brian Curl [of Heartland Records] asked me if I would like to make a country music album I jumped at the chance,” Shatner told Sounds Like Nashville previously

 

10 Songs You Should Be Listening To Right Now

10 Songs You Should Be Listening To Right Now

January is kicking off with new music on our 10 Songs list from your fave country stars

At Sounds Like Nashville, we pride ourselves on bringing our readers updates about the latest and greatest songs coming out of Music City. Whether it’s a new single from the biggest superstar or the debut track from a new artist, we hope to bring fans a wide range of what’s hot in country music.

At the top of each month, our staff selects their personal favorite new songs and updates SLN’s ongoing 10 Songs You Should Be Listening To playlist. This month, Sounds Like Nashville is starting the new year with a bang, featuring some of the best rising acts out of Nashville. Among those new acts are three of our Ones to Watch in 2019: Lauren Jenkins, Filmore and Lauren Duski. The list wouldn’t be complete, however, without a few country music staples, including Brad Paisley and George Strait.

Keith Urban Honors Artist Lost In 2018 NY Medley

Urban Honors Artist Lost In 2018 With New Year’s Eve Medley

Keith honors late artists Roy Clark & Avicii with New Year’s Eve medley in Nashville

For the third year Keith Urban rang in the new year as the headliner for Music City Midnight: New Year’s Eve in Nashville. As the countdown to 2019 began, the singer performed a free show for fans at the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park.

Urban continued with a tradition he began during his first NYE headlining set where he honored the artists we lost over the past year with a special medley of songs. For his 2018 tribute the Australia native performed a variety of tunes, including Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” The Cranberries’ “Zombie” for lead singer Dolores O’Riordan, Roy Clark’s “Rolling In My Sweet Baby’s Arms,” Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” in honor of the late Ed King.

“The last few years we’ve played New Year’s Eve I’ve taken the opportunity to put together a medley of some of the people we’ve lost across the year and I’ve done it again this year. I’m gonna play a couple songs to just recognize a few of the people we have lost,” he said before kicking off the performance.

At the close of the medley, Urban was joined by fellow guitar aficionado, Peter Frampton, who was also on the bill for the New Year’s Eve show. The two went back and forth with a guitar riff-off for a special jam session.

Keith Urban Peter Frampton

Keith Urban and Peter Frampton; Photo credit: Ben Enos

This year’s Music City Midnight brought record attendance with event organizers estimating 175,000 to 200,000 people in the park.

Watch the medley in the video above…

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