In 1986, an almost clean-cut Alan Jackson gripped a gold microphone and sang a cover of George Jones’ “He Stopped Lovin’ Her Today” for the live audience and viewers of TNN’s You Can Be a Star.
Keith Stegall the man who would go on to produce and write many of Jackson’s songs — was on stage as a judge for the televised singing competition, which was a precursor to shows like Nashville Star. It was the first time Stegall heard the future star.
Perhaps more entertaining than Jackson’s schoolboy haircut is that the host introduces him only as “Al.” Within three years of this clip, he would release his debut album, Here in the Real World, as Alan Jackson. A few years later, the name ‘Alan’ would become a one-name moniker, much like Garth, Kenny and Shania. Jackson has gone on to one of the biggest careers in country music history — and he’s done it all without compromising the traditional country roots that established his sound in the first place.
With that buttery voice, it’s hard to believe that Al Jackson wouldn’t have been just as successful.
There’s a sunny disposition that Chris Lane captures on Laps Around the Sun.
Built on a foundation of warm melodies and playful material, drawn together by a feel-good vibe throughout the album, Laps Around the Sun is the type of project that’s tailor made for summertime
Lane hand-selects 14 tracks that tell a variety of upbeat stories, ranging from the tongue-in-cheek “New Phone, Who’s This” to the lighthearted wordplay on “Fishin’” and smooth “I Don’t Know About You.” One could draw comparisons to Old Dominion, as Lane calls upon suave pop-country production and radio-friendly lyrics that are complimented by his crisp vocals. Lead single “Take Back Home Girl,” featuring a stellar vocal appearance by Tori Kelly, immediately welcomes you into the project with an infectious beat that sets the tone for what’s to follow.
While the album showcases Lane’s knack for carefree songs, it also brings out a different side of his artistry, highlighting the soul in his voice that comes through in both melody and delivery. It’s evident on “New Phone” and the title track, co-penned by the singer, along with “Life Goes On,” which finds Lane crooning “I ain’t drunk and I ain’t stoned, I’ve just been wandering all night long, they say the sun’s still gonna dawn, but baby you’re good and gone, right now I don’t see how life goes on,” over a waning guitar.
Lane feels more grounded on his third project, which follows 2016’s Girl Problems, an album that made a strong impression with hits like “Fix” and “For Her.” On Laps Around the Sun, he exudes a confidence that makes its presence known on each track. He demonstrates the kind of depth he’s capable of on “Hero,” the album’s lone ballad, which follows the journey of three diverse characters longing for a heroic figure in their lives, with Lane telling the story in a way that naturally draws one into the lyrics. It’s the type of song you wish there was more of on the album, with its simplicity and soft choral voices making it his best cut thus far.
In the time leading up to album’s release, Lane said that his goal is to create music that transports people to their happy place, and he certainly takes the first step to achieving this on Laps Around the Sun. If he continues to utilize inviting melodies and couple them with meaningful lyrics, the burgeoning star could see an artistic transformation that will only further the growth he’s already exhibited on Laps Around the Sun.
Emmylou Harris: Songbird’s Flight Celebrates a Country Legend
In 1975, Emmylou Harris got a phone call from her then-manager Ed Tickner, who announced that her major label debut album, “Pieces of the Sky,” had entered the country music charts at No. 107. On Tuesday night, 43 years after that phone call, Harris was the guest of honor at a Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum reception celebrating the opening of new exhibit “Emmylou Harris: Songbird’s Flight.”
“She stands as the very embodiment of everything we at this museum hold dear,” museum CEO Kyle Young said. “She has breathed new life into the music of her predecessors like the Louvin Brothers, Ralph Stanley and Kitty Wells, and she’s extended the vision of her mentor, Gram Parsons, whose Cosmic American music swirled country, blues, rock and R&B into a visceral and emotional blend. … This is the story of a musician who has changed Nashville, country music and so many people in this room for the better.”
Young also praised Harris as a bandleader (she’s led three of country music’s finest groups: the Hot Band, the Nash Ramblers and Spyboy), a selfless collaborator and remarkable writer with a keen eye for identifying top-notch songs, songwriters and players.
In a gracious speech, Harris thanked everyone from her older brother, whose room she used to sneak into to play her Bob Dylan and Joan Baez records, to Mary Martin, who signed her to Warner Bros. in 1974. (Harris has remained with the label, in one division or another, for the entirety of her career, “just like Chipper Jones for the Atlanta Braves,” she said.)
If it sounded a bit like a retirement speech, Harris made sure to clarify that she’s not hanging up her spikes just yet. “This isn’t my farewell,” she proclaimed, to cheers. “I’m getting on a plane tomorrow and doing a three-week tour.”
Artifacts on display in “Songbird’s Flight” include Harris’ first guitar, the owner’s manual to the 1970 Ford Pinto she drove when she met Gram Parsons, and the military medals earned by her father, Marine Corps pilot Walter “Bucky” Harris, for his service during World War II and the Korean War. The exhibit opens to the public on Friday and is scheduled to run through Aug. 4. For more information, or to buy tickets, visit countrymusichalloffame.org.
Lauren Alaina Tips Her Scrunchie to the ‘Ladies of the ’90s’
Lauren Alaina may have been born in the mid-90s, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t appreciate everything the decade had to offer. In her latest single, “Ladies in the ‘90s,” the Georgia native offers a nod to both the country and pop hits of the time.
“I just wanna feel like ladies in the ’90s / Turn the dial and find me some ‘Strawberry Wine,’” Alaina sings in the chorus. “So I can sing all night long, actin’ like I’m Britney / Come on, ‘baby, hit me’ just ‘one more time.’” Alaina co-wrote the bubbly tune with Jesse Frasure and Amy Wadge, offering a nod to the women who “paved the way for me.” “This is my favorite single I’ve ever released. I hope you love it too,” shared Alaina on Instagram.
The song is the first new music since the singer released her sophomore album, Road Less Traveled, in 2017. No word yet on when her next project is expected.
Alabama, Lorrie Morgan, T.Graham Brown Set Sail Aboard 5th Annual Country Cruise
There’s nothing like a combination of country music and Caribbean skies to help shake off the winter doldrums, and fans enjoyed plenty of both on Star Vista’s Fifth Annual Country Music Cruise. Alabama, The Gatlin Brothers, Mickey Gilley, Wade Hayes, Lorrie Morgan, Bobby Bare, Jim Stafford, Johnny Lee, T. Graham Brown, Asleep at the Wheel and many more set sail for Antigua and St. Kitts aboard Holland America’s MS Nieuw Amsterdam delivering a week of music and fun for nearly 3,000 country music fans.
“The highlight of the whole cruise was getting to see Alabama,” Dailey & Vincent’s Darrin Vincent tells Sounds Like Nashville. “We sat and talked with Jeff Cook for a long time last night and Randy Owen came to our show. It’s great to have an opportunity to mingle with other artists, but to watch them perform was a highlight for me. They are so incredible!”
“We got out and rode around one of the islands and got to learn some history. We really enjoyed that in Antigua,” adds his musical partner Jamie Dailey. “We had some of the best food in Antigua at a restaurant called Hemingways. It was so good at lunch we went back and had dinner there before we left.”
During the seven day cruise, there are concerts happening simultaneously at multiple venues around the ship, and when they aren’t performing themselves, the stars can be found in the audience enjoying each other’s shows or getting up to join a friend on stage for a surprise collaboration. Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson joined Wade Hayes during his Thursday night set at the Grand Ole Opry Guitar Bar to perform Merle Haggard’s “Misery and Gin” and Bob Wills’ classic “Faded Love.” “That was a really, really big treat for Ray to get up and sing and for Jim Stafford to get up and speak at the guitar clinic that was a lot of fun too,” says Hayes, who held a special guitar seminar during the cruise. “A lot of wonderful things happened this year. I got to see part of the Alabama show and I got to see all of the Asleep at the Wheel show. I’m a huge fan of Asleep at the Wheel. I guess if I had to say one thing, the Asleep at the Wheel show was my favorite.”
Lorrie Morgan has previously performed on the Country Music Cruise and was happy to return this year. “It’s been my favorite cruise so far,” she tells SLN. “This is the first time I’ve been out on the cruise where I haven’t been seasick. Thank God for Dramamine because that’s what I took a couple days before I left and I take a half of one a couple times a day.”
When she wasn’t performing, Morgan enjoyed soaking up the sun, but admits she got a little more than she intended out on her private balcony. “We went out on our balcony and my husband Randy was sitting there getting some sun. He took his shirt off and I took mine off too. We sat there for about 45 minutes and went in. I was so burnt. I’ve never had burnt boobs before,” she grinned.
Lorrie Morgan; Photo courtesy Campbell Entertainment Group
For the fifth year, television personality Lorianne Crook served as hostess for the cruise and Jason Venner returned as cruise host. In addition to the numerous concerts, there were also lots of fun events. T. Graham Brown and Johnny Lee hosted a special edition of a beloved game show. “The most fun thing I remember is playing Family Feud with Johnny Lee. We had a blast. His team won, but he cheated,” Brown says with a laugh.
Brown, who is an ordained minister, presided over a ceremony where 30 couple renewed their vows at sea. There were also wine tastings, a women’s seminar, a Sunday morning gospel concert, dance lessons, a corn hole contest, autograph sessions, a singing competition, Country Faith seminars, a special photo exhibit by acclaimed Opry photographer Les Leverett and Nashville Songwriters Guitar Pulls featuring Jennifer Hansen and Tony Haselden with special guests such as Hayes and Lacy J. Dalton.
There was a special Q&A with Coach Barry Switzer, performances by comedian Jon Reep and nightly shows by the Elvis Tribute Artists. Tim Atwood and Chrissy Sparks held court every evening on deck 2 singing, playing piano and inviting special guests such as Sara Simmons, Megan Mullins and Moore & Moore to join in. One of the highlights was a tribute to the Bakersfield sound led by Hayes and Chuck Mead that included Emily West delivering a stirring rendition of “Together Again” and Johnny Lee’s performing Haggard’s “Carolyn.”
Wade Hayes; Photo courtesy Campbell Entertainment Group
Brown enjoyed seeing other artists perform. “I liked Asleep at the Wheel. I really like Wade Hayes,” he says. “I thought Daily and Vincent were good. Everybody did a great job, The Gatlins and Bobby Bare, I thought everybody did a good job.”
“I saw Dailey and Vincent and I loved them,” Stafford says. “There’s something infectious. They just pull you in. They are very special. Their harmonies are just wonderful. And we saw Asleep at the Wheel. Oh my! That is a walkin,’ talking,’ singin,’ playin’ party!”
Stafford says he also enjoyed visiting the islands. “I bought a t-shirt. We just walked around out there, had a little bite to it and came back. It was pleasant place,” he says of Antigua. “Everybody was real sweet to us. It was a beautiful day and we even had one of those misty little rains come through that’s so pleasant when you are in this kind of area. What also was really beautiful was how pretty it was when we left and all the lights were on. We were out on the little balcony and it was unreal. There’s so many things about this cruise. If you like country music, every corner you turn you’re going to hear some more.”
Vincent says he enjoys making new friends on the cruise. “I’d never seen Jim Stafford before. We just did an autograph session with all the artists and were sitting next to him. We were trading notes, just having fun,” Vincent says. “We’ve made a new friend now. He loves what we do. We love what he does. He has a great sense of humor. We have laughed for the last hour with him. I think that’s the coolest thing to be able to collaborate and intertwine with each other here. It’s just a big family. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Morgan says she’ll take home so many great memories from this year’s cruise. “I love the breakfast buffet because every morning you walk through there and the Gatlins are sitting at the same table and you can hear them laughing and talking,” says Morgan, who had Nashville designer Johnathan Kayne create a special silver, one-shoulder sparkling jump suit for her main stage performance. “I love the islands and to see Randy go snorkeling. I know he loves to snorkel. Then we went horseback riding on one of the beaches in Antigua and it was wonderful. I told Randy, I’m getting a horse when I get home.”
On the final evening, cruisers were treated to a special performance of the Grand Old Opry at Sea featuring the Gatlins, Morgan, Hayes, West, Chuck Mead and His Grassy Knoll Boys, Dailey & Vincent and Brown. “I enjoyed playing the Opry show this year. It was a lot of fun. The jam night was probably the best one we’ve had,” Hayes says of the night artists performed until after 1am by the Lido deck pool. “It was all around a really good cruise and one of my favorite ones I’ve been on.”
Stafford agrees. “I’ll always remember these audiences and how sweet they were and how gentle and laid back they were,” he says. “They are people who love country music and love being on this ship. I don’t care if you are doing a show or just walking down the hall, there is a sweet spirit in the air.”
Next year’s Country Music Cruise is slated for Jan. 27-Feb. 3 on the Nieuw Amsterdam and will feature The Oak Ridge Boys, The Bellamy Brothers, Patty Loveless, Ronnie Milsap, Ricky Skaggs, Joe Diffie, Jeff Foxworthy, Shenandoah, Jimmy Fortune, Wade Hayes, David Ball, T. G. Sheppard, Jeannie Seely, Johnny Lee and more. The ship, which will sail to Key West, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay, is already more than 50% sold out.
Zac Brown and Wife Shelly Separate After 12 Years of Marriage
The Music Business a Sure Marriage Killer – WHISNews21
Zac Brown and his wife Shelly are separating after more than a decade together, reads a statement issued to PEOPLE by the couple.
“We feel blessed to be on such an incredible journey in life and sometimes the journey begins to lead in different directions. It is with deep love and respect that we announce we are separating as a couple,” the statement begins.
“We have led a whirlwind life together growing into a beautiful family with five amazing children and while life will be rearranging a bit, our love and commitment to our family will always be there,” Zac and Shelly continued. “This was a difficult decision, but we’ve done plenty of tough things together and this is our next venture — love, mutual respect, and care for each other are what we are moving forward with.”
“Family comes in all different forms,” they concluded. “We would like to ask that rather than commenting or spending any energy towards this, that you take this moment to send love to your family, in honor of ours.”
The couple wed in 2006 and have five children: son Alexander, 4, and daughters Joni, 7, Georgia, 8, Lucy, 10, and Justice, 11.
Zac and Shelley met shortly after she graduated from college. In a 2015 interview, Zac revealed that he knew she was the one after their first kiss.
“We ended up New Year’s Eve playing a show,” he recalled. “My date had stood me up and I remember walking back to my friends with like two minutes before midnight and thinking, ‘I’m not gonna have anybody to kiss on New Year’s.’ And there she was, standing right there and I remember kissing her and then that was game over.”
Mason Ramsey and Cracker Barrel Family Restaurants
Put a Fresh Twist on Buddy Holly’s ‘Peggy Sue’
Mason Ramsey became a household name after a video of the pre-teen yodeling in a Walmart went viral. Months later the young man is still top of mind, showcasing classic country in a fresh and modern way, which is exactly why Cracker Barrel came a-calling. The national food chain loves Ramsey’s new spin on old classics so they enlisted him to be the face of their Tried and True Made New music program, coinciding with their updated fall menu. The limited-time menu features a fresh twist on the restaurant’s traditional menu items, revitalizing the already beloved food.
Embracing the “fresh twist,” Ramsey has put his own spin on several country classics, including “Lovesick Blues,” “Hey, Good Lookin’,” “I Saw The Light” and “Peggy Sue,” the latter of which is premiering on Sounds Like Nashville. Taking on the iconic song was an exciting challenge for the 11-year-old, who’d never performed the tune previously. “It was my first time singing ‘Peggy Sue.’ I picked it because I thought it was a cool song and Buddy Holly was a cool guy. It’s fast and fun! I like everything about it,” he tells SLN.
Check out Ramsey’s laid-back performance above and visit a Cracker Barrel Old Country Store location near you!
Cash Campbell seems to be having fun taking his fans on an emotional roller-coaster. His song “Little Things” made us long for the good old days before our past lovers broke our hearts, and now his new single “The In Between” is a story about what it really means to be in love. “I’m so excited for fans to hear ‘The in Between.’ It was inspired by the feeling that happens when you’re with a person so special, you feel like you’re on top of the world — between where heaven meets the stars.
I think the song captures perfectly the feel of never wanting to let go of that dream-like moment that you wish could last for an eternity,” said Campbell. In the music video the Lone Star State native sings as the ‘voice inside your head,’ while performance shots mingle with images of the couple slow dancing in a barn and falling in love on the backdrop of a beautiful farm at sunset.
Campbell’s “The In Between” is a spiritual description of what most people believe to be indescribable experiences of life and love. While the in between he is referring to might not be a tangible place, the comparison between the two feelings of love and heaven meeting Earth creates a deeply dimensional meaning that has listeners tapping into their hearts and reaching out for more. Campbell will take his cowboy love song on tour this fall, no doubt to much fanfare after being named Top 40 on Billboard’s Country Indicator and Top 30 on Music Row Country Breakout charts.
Broadway Street Party in Nashville Celebrates 58th Anniversary with FREE Concert!
Tootsie’s to feature Randy Houser, Terri Clark, Kid Rock, Jake Owen, Travis Tritt, Darryl Worley & more
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The World Famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Music City’s legendary honky-tonk, will celebrate its 58th Birthday in downtown Nashville Wednesday, October 10th. As part of the celebration, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge will feature entertainment on the outdoor Broadway stage throughout the day with a FREE, star-studded evening concert featuring performances from Platinum-selling powerhouse Randy Houser, international superstar Kid Rock and country hitmaker Jake Owen.
Hosted by Ty, Kelly and Chuck Mornings’ Ty Bentli, Kelly Ford and Chuck Wicks, as well as NASH Nights Live co-hosts Shawn Parr and Elaina Smith, the annual Broadway street-party will also feature performances from country music’s finest, including Terri Clark, Darryl Worley, Montgomery Gentry, John Stone, Anthony Orio, Scott Collier and more to be announced! Past Surprise Guests Include Dierks Bentley, Colt Ford, Jamey Johnson & More — You Never Know Who is Going to Drop By! ‘Ty, Kelly and Chuck Mornings’ hosts Ty Bentli, Kelly Ford and Chuck Wicks will be on hand to kick off the event with ‘NASH Nights Live’ co-hosts Shawn Parr and Elaina Smith rounding out the evening emcee duties!
“Tootsie’s Birthday Bash has become one of the most highly-anticipated annual events on lower Broadway. Each year it gets bigger and better,” said Tootsie’s owner Steve Smith. “Many artists started at Tootsie’s, and having them come back year after year is a great honor to the legacy and memory of Tootsie Bess! Everyone should come out and experience that magic on our 58th birthday.”
Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge Annual Birthday Bash attracts some of the biggest stars in music, including surprise appearances. The event, which takes place Oct. 10th on Broadway between 4th and 5th Avenue, will host entertainment on an outdoor stage throughout the day and is FREE to the public.
About Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge:
Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge has operated across the alley from the Ryman almost continuously since 1960. Its proprietor from 1960 to 1978, Hattie Louise “Tootsie” Bess, bought the lounge called “Mom’s” and named it for herself. According to tradition, a painter mistakenly painted the exterior orchid purple. The color was never changed and became Tootsie’s signature color. Over the years, she served such famous customers as Kris Kristofferson, Faron Young and Willie Nelson when they were still up-and-coming artists, and Tootsie was well-known for her generosity toward struggling musicians. The photo and memorabilia-lined walls are called “Tootsie’s Wall of Fame.”
Today, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge is a must-see Music City destination for tourists and is frequented by locals, including some of the biggest names in country music, who often drop in and surprise patrons with impromptu performances. Kenny Chesney with classic rock icon Steve Miller, Keith Urban, Kix Brooks, Montgomery Gentry, Kid Rock, Steven Tyler, Randy Houser, Jamey Johnson, Dierks Bentley and Hank Williams, Jr. are among the artists who have recently performed there.
The Five Best Surprises We Saw at ‘Old Dominion and Friends’
When the Mother Church of country music announces a special benefit show called “An Evening With Old Dominion and Friends,” you know it’s going to be a night everyone will be talking about for days to come. First off, the fellas of Old Dominionare on an undeniable hot streak with hit after hit – and you can guarantee they’re going to play ALL of them. Second, when these guys invite friends to a party, there’s no telling who will show up! From former tour mates, mentors, and co-writers, the September 18 sold-out bash with the reigning ACM Vocal Group of the Year became a celebration of sorts as Music City welcomed home one of its best. Here are the five best surprises when Old Dominion took the stage at the historic Ryman Auditorium in support of the Ryan Seacrest Foundation and the Opry Trust Fund.
We caught up with lead singer Matthew Ramsey before Old Dominion’s performance on the televised CMA Fest special last month, and he had nothing but the highest of compliments for friend and mentor Kenny Chesney. There’s a lot to learn from the world class entertainer when building your live show in front of massive crowds on multiple stadium tours the last few years. It’s hard to describe just how loud the Ryman became when Chesney stepped out to sing “Save It for a Rainy Day” with Matthew, Brad, Trevor, Geoff and Whit – but as big of a surprise it was, it made sense that he would be there to help celebrate such a memorable night for the band. After all, it was Matthew and Brad who penned the song which would go on to become a smash hit off Chesney’s 2014 album, The Big Revival.
Old Dominion’s Matthew Ramsey and Kelsea Ballerini; Photo Credit: Mason Allen
One of the best surprises of the night was when Kelsea Ballerini joined the guys to finish the end of “Written in the Sand,” one of their most successful releases to date. Ballerini, knowing a thing or two about number one songs, added a sassy dose of personality, representing for the ladies of country music. We were all excited when we learned she would be sticking around for a second song, and the sing-a-long continued when she jumped into “I Hate Love Songs,” co-written with Old Dominion’s Trevor Rosen and Shane McAnally.
Michael Ray and Old Dominion’s Matthew Ramsey; Photo Credit: Mason Allen
Next out of the wings was Michael Ray, who we feel lucky enough to have seen back-to-back nights already this week. Only in Nashville! Ray is currently hitting the road as an opener for Old Dominion out on the Happy Endings World Tour, and we got a preview of that stellar lineup right here at the Mother Church. “Probably the nicest guy in country music right now,” Ramsey said as he welcomed Ray to the stage to perform his latest single, “One That Got Away.” Featuring Ramsey as one of the writers, the song clearly ended up in the right hands as Ray continues to make a splash at country radio with this total jam.
Sam Hunt and Old Dominion;s Matthew Ramsey; Photo Credit: Mason Allen
And last, but certainly not least, the final Old Dominion friend to raise the roof right off the Ryman was none other than Sam Hunt himself. “I was writing songs with these guys before any of us had record deals,” Hunt shared as he reflected on his longstanding friendship with the band. “Make You Miss Me” did incredible things for Hunt’s career off his 2014 debut album, Montevallo, and he looked no further than Ramsey when it came time to sit down and write it. The song (paired with a follow up performance of “Ex To See”) really came to life in front of us Tuesday night, and we were all reminded just how powerful collaboration can be when you combine just the right amounts of talent, drive and impeccable storytelling.
(L-R) Whit Sellers, Brad Tursi, Matthew Ramsey, Sally Williams, Trevor Rosen, Geoff Sprung; Photo Credit: Mason Allen
The Hits, ALL of the Hits
Well, it’s no surprise that the set list covered the band’s entire catalog of hits. But how could we not include them?! From the opening notes of “Song For Another Time” at the top of the show to the crowd-wide sing-a-long to “Snapback” during the encore, it was an on your feet, know all the words, special kind of homecoming for Old Dominion and fans alike. “Hotel Key” reminded everyone that there’s always an important place in the arc of a show for a summertime, feel good jam, “Nowhere Fast” nearly opened the flood gates as the band felt the weight of playing on such a legendary stage, “Stars in the City” highlighted their flawless harmonies, and “No Such Thing as a Broken Heart” proved that clapping along will never go out of style. Some things are simply effortless, and the way lead singer Matthew Ramsey delivers a lyric is enough to make anyone a believer – even when he tells you to “rip it off like a Band-Aid,” you should probably just go ahead and break up with whoever he or she is… I mean, the guy seems to know what he’s talking about.