Grammy-winning Golden Hour star Kacey Musgraves is branching out with a new side-gig that highlights her eclectic sense of style. She’s signed a modeling contract with IMG Models, confirming the news via Twitter on Tuesday (May 7th) while making a splash at the glitzy 2019 Met Gala in New York City. IMG is a modeling agency based in New York which represents some of the biggest names on the runway, including influential tastemakers like Karlie Kloss and Bella and Gigi Hadid.
For Old Dominion, all roads led to Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville on Friday (May 3). The five-member band used their hometown show to not only treat the crowd to a vast range of hits, but convey the gravity of what it meant to perform a sold-out show after years wondering if they could transition from successful songwriters to celebrated artists. Opening the show with the upbeat “Be With Me,” lead singer Matthew Ramsey saw it as an opportunity to interact with the crowd, high-fiving as many hands as possible that were gathered in the pit around the stage. This led into the energetic “Snapback” that ended with an electrifying guitar medley between Ramsey and Brad Tursi as Ramsey shouted into the crowd “are you ready?!” signifying that this wasn’t just the beginning of the show, but rather a high-energy prelude of what’s to come.
Before sending several of their own hits to to the top of the charts, the beloved group were individually working as songwriters in Nashville, penning hits for the likes of Blake Shelton, Sam Hunt and Kenny Chesney. “You’re going to hear a lot about songwriting, it’s very near and dear to our hearts,” Ramsey confessed, immediately delivering on that promise by revealing how they wrote “Still Writing Songs About You” about that one person whose memory you can’t escape before launching into the reflective number and jamming to “Hotel Key” as retro neon graphics of palm trees and a hotel pool created an eclectic aesthetic in the background. They stayed in this songwriter vein with a new track, “One Man Band,” as Ramsey and Tursi made the song a moment of musicianship by sharing a single spotlight and microphone as they sang about a man who took pride in living life solo, but felt appreciation in finding someone to live harmoniously with. But the show’s most poignant moment culminated in an intimate guitar pull where Ramsey, Tursi and Trevor Rosen sat front of stage, passing stories between them of their early days in Nashville. Ramsey revealed the band has been in Music City for 17 years, “It took us that long to get here,” he noted, looking out into crowd of more than 6,000 people.
The three singers shared of their humble beginnings, reflecting on the amount of hard work it took to be successful songwriters, all while facing rejection from record labels. In between stories, they traded performances of acoustic selections of hits they’d written like Shelton’s “Sangria” (Rosen), “Make You Miss Me” by Hunt (Ramsey) and Luke Bryan’s “Light it Up” (Tursi). Ramsey acknowledged how songwriting kept them motivated to pursue their dreams of being the main act, and after years of proving themselves as songwriters, they found a label that believed in them as artists, making their first album with 2015’s Meat and Candy.
“Before you guys ever really realized it, you were listening to our music,” Ramsey observed. “Here we are tonight.” The reflective moment was the kind that makes Nashville special, their journey resonating as they concluded the story by launching into fan favorite “Song For Another Time,” the audience loyally singing along as the band paused the music to let their voices fill the amphitheater.
One of the aspects that make Old Dominion so distinct is the uplifting element to their catalogue of songs and their ability to turn a negative situation into positive music. “We discovered that the more people sing this song, the better we all feel,” Ramsey remarked, the crowd proving him right as they sang along to “No Such Thing as a Broken Heart,” singing the words back to them so serenely that it captured the compassionate nature of the song’s message of finding the light in the midst of struggle.
As the evening came to a close with performances of “Written in the Sand,” a cover of Chesney’s hit “Save it For a Rainy Day,” co-penned by Ramsey and Tursi, and an encore of “Nowhere Fast” and “Wrong Turns,” the show felt like an expression of gratitude from Old Dominion for their journey to success and the loyal fans who helped them get there, proving they reached the goal they’ve always been striving for.
In 2014, country music fans the world over wondered how much of George Strait we’d get to see and hear in the coming years once his epic Cowboy Rides Away tour was complete that summer. Any fears of Strait withdrawal were quickly relieved, of course. The Country Music Hall of Famer has been almost as present in the past couple of years as he ever was in his youthful prime. In what might be 2019’s least shocking development, Strait’s 30th studio album, the new Honky Tonk Time Machine, is another reminder of why we’ve rightfully come to know the iconic Texan as King George.
Following up on his 2015 Cold Beer Conversation LP, Strait sticks pretty close to that record’s winning formula, which is a similar horse he’s successfully ridden for many decades now. Eight of the album’s 13 tracks were co-written by Strait, who teamed with trusted sidekicks including his son, Bubba, and Dean Dillon, the man behind so many Strait gems including “The Chair,” and “Ocean From Property.”
Although there’s a range of slow, medium and quick tempo tunes here, the album excels when it’s either twisting and twirling in full-speed, or gently waltzing in a far lower gear. “Every Little Honky Tonk Bar” is a revved-up fiddle-fiddle-intensive jam outfitted with soaring ribbons of pedal steel that would’ve dominated late-‘90s radio in the same way “Blue Clear Sky” did in 1996. The contemplative stunner “God and Country Music,” in just about anyone else’s hands would be a ham-fisted thwack to the head, but with Strait’s believable guidance, it’s a relatable, heart-gripping take on the classic “Saturday night sin, Sunday morning salvation” theme country music has long built its foundation upon.
Such successes make it easier to stomach the less-than-successful numbers here. “Código” is a frivolous commercial for the Tequila brand of which Strait is a co-owner, and “Blue Water” is more paint-by-numbers nursery rhyme—yes, motion, ocean and potion rhyme— than it is a Buffett-style beachy breeze.
But again, the energetic highs and brown liquor-sipping slows are where this record shines. The title track and its fully plugged-in, outlaw vibe defies any couple listening to stay seated and sober, while “Weight of the Badge,” an ode to the life and bravery of police officers, rings true and effectively tugs the heart.
The album concludes with the sort of 1-2 punch combo only a giant of Strait’s stature could land. “What Goes Up” is a tender nod to the power of prayer, followed by the album-closing “Sing With Willie,” a hell-raising sing-along that is–shockingly–Strait and Willie Nelson’s first-ever duet. Considering Strait has recorded with Sinatra and Willie has sung with just about everyone else on Earth, it’s nice to have this fitting tune to add to the canon.
All in all, Honky Tonk Time Machine is another solid-gold reminder that George Strait is the kind of leader we desire, but likely don’t deserve. Long live the King!
Scotty McCreery returns with a stirring new coming of age anthem, sending “In Between” to country radio as his next single. Placing McCreery’s butter-smooth baritone out front and featuring a true-to-life theme, McCreery sings about not being a kid anymore – but also not being ready to slow down. “I ain’t all holy water, I ain’t all Jim Beam / I’m somewhere in between,” goes the satisfying chorus.
“For me, the theme of ‘In Between’ is all about balance,” McCreery says. “Everyone’s not all one thing or all the other. We all have many facets to our lives. It’s about knowing who you are and finding the balance that’s right for you.”
“In Between” was co-written by the singer and former American Idol champ with Frank Rogers, Jessi Alexander and Jonathan Singleton more than four years ago. At the time, McCreery and his new wife, Gabi, were still just dating. They were married last June.
“I wrote it the very same week as we wrote ‘Five More Minutes,’” he explains. “I find it a bit funny because I wrote the lyric ‘I ain’t ready for a ring on my hand’ back then, and now when it’s my current single, I am a newly married man. But ‘In Between’ tells the story of where I was in my life at that moment, and I think that’s what makes it so personal to me.”
The track follows McCreery’s Gold-certified “This Is It” and Platinum “Five More Minutes,” both of which hit Number One on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart. All three songs are featured on his deeply personal Seasons Change album, released in 2018 and produced by Rogers, Aaron Eshuis and Derek Wells. McCreery is currently out on a headlining club tour, and hinted earlier this year that he’s in talks to support a fall arena tour “with some guys that I love their music.”
It’s somewhat of a dramatic statement, but nobody in country music has revolutionized the live performance quite like Garth Brooks. There were others before him – Hank Williams, Jr. and Ricky Skaggs come to mind – that brought high energy to their stage shows, and Keith Urban also is in a class of his own, but Garth Brooks was a game-changer in the way we think of Country stars on tour.
His new five-disc collection, The Anthology Part III Live, is a reminder of just what makes Brooks so unforgettable. First of all, there’s the music. He – and producer Allen Reynolds – were masterful in collecting a group of songs that people could identify with. That’s the first step. Without the fan interest, you would have nothing. But, hit singles such as “If Tomorrow Never Comes” and “The Thunder Rolls” kindled a passion from listeners – who started coming out to see Brooks as he opened for artists such as The Judds, Kenny Rogers, and Ricky Van Shelton. Then, in the fall of 1990, a song called “Friends In Low Places” broke his career wide open. Before too much longer, the Oklahoma native was fronting his own shows – with an energy level that the genre had rarely seen before.
That adrenaline can be heard throughout this five disc set. The first two chapters are a commemorative edition of his landmark album Double Live – which stands as the biggest-selling concert album in Country Music – if not all formats – history. Celebrating its’ twentieth year of release, the album’s magical moments include such Brooks classics as “Two Of A Kind, Workin’ On A Full House,” “Longneck Bottle,” “Rodeo,” and “It’s Your Song.”
The final three discs contain footage that was compiled from Brooks’ landmark 2015-2017 comeback tour. The stint proved once again what a magical hold that Brooks has on an audience. Much of the output features crowd sing-a-longs on such fan favorites as “Friends In Low Places” (which comes ‘complete’ with the famed ‘third verse’ of the song), “Unanswered Prayers,” and “Two Pina Coladas.” There are also a few nuggets from that might surprise listeners, such as his takes on “Fishin’ In The Dark” and “The Fireman.” He also tips the hat to newcomer Ashley McBryde with a stirring version of her “Girl Goin’ Nowhere” by changing the title to “Guy Goin’ Nowhere,” and a duet performance on the underrated gem “Whiskey To Wine” with wife Trisha Yearwood that there aren’t enough superlatives to fully appreciate. Trust us, it’s simply that good.
Along with the music there’s a gorgeous 256-page book that shows the growth Brooks has made as a recording artist and a live performer. The book begins with a nostalgic look back at his 1997 Central Park concert in New York City – a night that still stands as one of his benchmark achievements. From there, the reader is taken back in time to the beginnings of Brooks’ performing career. Garth talks about being hired by Opryland to perform at the former musical amusement park – complete with the 1981 contract that was sent to him – only have the job nixed by his parents in lieu of his going to college. As it turned out, Oklahoma State proved to be great for Brooks – in more ways than one. In addition to getting his education, he would meet Ty England and Brian Petree – who would help him sharpen his musical focus. There are many stories about his days playing in Santa Fe, a local band around town that made more people aware of Brooks and his budding talents.
From there, Brooks’ story heats up considerably. A meeting with future manager Bob Doyle led to Brooks’ playing at the heralded Nashville songwriters’ haven The Bluebird Café. Soon his star was on the rise, eventually landing a recording deal with Capitol Records. The book contains many of the highlights from Brooks’ first touring phase – his early stints opening for artists – such as The Judds’ historic 1991 “Farewell” concert to his seminal 1992 NBC TV-special filmed at Reunion Arena in Dallas. Suddenly, Brooks was selling tickets – and albums – at a breakneck pace, and the stages only got bigger for the singer. He returned to the city for another special for the Peacock network – this time at Texas Stadium. Brooks shares details of the accident that could have halted the show – but in the end, the night was another dose of electricity that only the singer could provide – including a performance of “Ain’t Goin’ Down Till’ The Sun Comes Up” that featured the singer rise into the stratosphere at the former home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Also detailed is his 1997 venture into foreign soil – again, a resounding success. The performer made stops in cities such as Dublin, Munich, and Glasgow seem just like playing for fans in Atlanta or Tulsa, proving that music can be a universal uniting factor.
Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood on the Red Carpet at The 52nd Annual CMA Awards, on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 in Downtown Nashville. Photo courtesy of CMA
And, at the end of the day, that’s what sets Garth Brooks apart. Sure, there are stories of him selling out five shows in twenty minutes, the incredible sales numbers, all of which have added to sheer magnitude of the star he has become. But, it’s what he has managed to do with a pen and paper that has endeared him to fans around the world. The songs on this collection matter to people, and when he performs them live, that connection between artist and audience runs very deep – whether it’s a one-on-one meeting or a show in front of tens of thousands. Accessibility. That’s the magic of Garth Brooks, which is in full evidence on this collection!
PARIS, April 15 (Reuters) – Notre-Dame Cathedral went up in flames on Monday in a roaring blaze that devastated the Parisian landmark, a searing loss for the city and for France. Flames that began in the early evening burst through the roof of the centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which collapsed, quickly followed by the entire roof. A huge plume of smoke wafted across the city and ash fell over a large area. Parisians watched on, many of them lost for words.
“Like all our compatriots, I am sad this evening to see this part of all of us burn,” President Emmanuel Macron tweeted.
“Basically the whole rooftop is gone. I see no hope for the building,” said witness Jacek Poltorak, watching the fire from a fifth-floor balcony two blocks from the southern facade of the cathedral, one of France’s most visited places. Firefighters tried to contain the blaze with water hoses and cleared the area around Notre-Dame, which sits on an island in the River Seine and marks the very center of Paris.
Nobody was injured, junior interior minister Laurent Nunez said at the scene, adding: “It’s too early to determine the causes of the fire.” France 2 television reported that police were treating it as an accident. “Everything is collapsing,” a police officer near the scene said as the entire roof of the cathedral continued to burn. Macron canceled an address to the nation that he had been due to give later on Monday evening. A presidential official said Macron was to go to the scene of the blaze.
The cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century, features in Victor Hugo’s classic novel “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.” It is a UNESCO World Heritage site that attracts millions of tourists every year. The Gothic cathedral is famed for its many carved stone gargoyles, stunning stained glass windows and the flying buttresses that hold up its walls.
“There are a lot of art works inside…it’s a real tragedy,” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo told reporters at the scene.
The cathedral was in the midst of renovations, with some sections under scaffolding and bronze statues were removed last week for works.
Watching it on the news, seeing the tall spire burning brings memories of 911, wondering when it’s going to fall. So, so sad, almost 1,000 years old. – Commenter
The wood and lead spire was built during a restoration in the mid-19th century, according to the cathedral’s website. (Reporting by Sybille de la Hamaide, Simon Carraud and Sudip Kar-Gupta Writing by Robin Pomeroy Editing by Frances Kerry)
– AOL (THOMSON REUTERS)
A big reason people love country music lies in the fact that the format, for the most part, respects its elders. That’s especially true when it comes to the late, great George Jones, who is widely considered to be the greatest male country vocalist in history.
That’s why it was so shocking when the CMA Awards wouldn’t let George sing his nominated hit “Choices” in its entirety back in 1999. Due to time constraints, producers wanted George to just sing a verse and a chorus of the song. That didn’t sit well with the Possum, so he opted to skip the awards show altogether.
It didn’t sit well with country superstar Alan Jackson, either.
After he sang his hit song, “Pop a Top,” on the show, Alan abruptly launched into a chorus of Jones’ “Choices.” After he finished, Alan walked off the stage in protest of the way the CMA handled the situation with George Jones.
That moment had tongues wagging all over Nashville and in office buildings across the country the next day.
In this latest installment of the CMA’s 50/50 video series, Sam Hunt recalls, “I know that was a controversial moment, but it was a very memorable moment. I think it was really awesome of Alan Jackson when he did that.”
– Rare Country
George Strait reminded everyone why he’s the King of Country Music with a solo performance at the 54th ACM Awards. Bringing a welcome dose of classy sophistication to a night of bombastic spectacle, his rendition of “God and Country Music” was an instant classic.
Standing tall alone at the front of the stage – just like the cowboy he is – Strait delivered a tribute to two things he figures are worth saving, no matter how much the world changes. Strumming his gleaming black guitar and dressed in his usual collared shirt and black cowboy hat, Strait refocused the MGM Grand Garden Arena’s attention on to the eternal things in life, while a simple video montage of horses and sweeping Western vistas played behind him. “God and Country Music” appears on Strait’s just-released Honky Tonk Time Machine– his 30th studio album. The track features his young grandson Harvey on album.
LURAY, Va. – Today, Ben “Crazy Cooter” Jones announced plans for the Good Ol’ Boys Fest, which will bring a fun weekend of “great music, hot cars, and good times.” Taking place at the Shenandoah Speedway on Highway 340 in Shenandoah, Virginia, on Saturday, August 10 and Sunday, August 11, the ‘Fest’ will be presented by “Cooter’s in the Valley” of Luray, Virginia.
Tickets go on sale Friday, April 5, with a limited number of tickets priced at $35 for the weekend. Once the limited quantity of advance tickets are sold, ticket pricing will increase. Tickets will also be available at all Cooter’s Place locations (Gatlinburg & Nashville, Tennessee and Luray, Virginia).
“This event will pay tribute to the 40th anniversary of America’s favorite family show, The Dukes of Hazzard,” says Ben Jones. “The Shenandoah Valley is the perfect setting for this event, and we are delighted to be presenting the Good Ol’ Boys Fest. We are going to have one more ‘Hot Time in Hazzard’!”
The Good Ol’ Boys Fest will feature cars and stars of the Dukes, plus a special lineup of country music stars and special guests. Among the Dukes cast who will be appearing are Tom Wopat (Luke Duke), Catherine Bach (Daisy Duke), Ben Jones(Cooter), Sonny Shroyer (Deputy Enos) and Rick Hurst (Deputy Cletus).
Ben “Cooter” Jones and his wife Alma Viator have presented a series of very successful “Dukes of Hazzard” events and are the owners of several “Cooter’s” shops and museums in Virginia and Tennessee.
– 2911 Media
A SONG FROM LIFE.
My sister was in a nursing home some time ago.
Her memory seemed selective, and conversations were somewhat confused.
Misty and I went to visit one afternoon and she wasn’t in her room.
We found her with a group of patients. and we watched from outside the door.
Someone, probably a nurse, was playing old time songs,
and the patients were smiling and singing along.
My sister was singing with enthusiasm, not missing a word.
The first time we’d seen her happy in too long.
More recently, I was thinking about that day,
and thought this should be a song, so I wrote and rewrote the words.
I thought of my friend, Michael Warner, a musician who lives in Australia.
We’ve written a few funny songs together, and I emailed him the words.
He wrote the music, sang it on a demo, and emailed it to me within three days.
Misty loves it and that’s good enough for me.
I did a mastering mix and today we’re sharing it with friends.
* * *
Mrs. Miller is singing the old songs
With the nurses at afternoon games.
She remembers the words to the old songs,
But forgotten her family’s names.
The past is just over her shoulder
And the music can turn back the years.
Old times flicker by the corner of her eye
When the old songs ring in her ears.
So, bring up the band and give them a hand.
While we can, let’s all sing along
And maybe we’ll find lost love in the memories
That live in the heart of old songs.
So, bring .. back.. the songs from the radio.
Leaving the cold of this old room behind.
The music we know will show us the way to go,
Take us to places that wait in our mind.
So, bring up the band and give them a hand.
While we can, let’s all sing along
And maybe we’ll find lost love in the memories
That live in the heart of Old Songs.
* * *
Listen to the demo here:
Words: Jack Blanchard, Music: Michael Warner.
Jack Blanchard Songs (BMI).
© Jack Blanchard, 2019.