If it was not for Jerrod Niemann’s swift rise to fame, and his very infectious “Lover, Lover,” I might never have heard of Sonia Dada. Neimann remade the group’s 1992 hit, “You Don’t Treat Me No Good,” into “Lover, Lover.” And if it was not for Kenny Chesney’s “Down the Road,” I might not have taken it upon myself to fall in love with Mac McAnally’s music, as he sings the thoughts of a hesitant father on that tune. And really, I might not have paid enough attention to Kelly Clarkson until she andReba McEntire came together for that unforgettable collaboration on Clarkson’s “Because of You.”
When two like-minded artists get together on a song (like, say, Kellie Pickler andTaylor Swift on “The Best Days of Your Life,” or Trace Adkins and Blake Shelton on”Hillbilly Bone”), it makes perfect sense. But when they branch out a little (Taylor Swift and John Mayer on “Half of My Heart,” for example), it always takes me by surprise. And I usually love the results. It’s often the same with remakes of songs I’d never heard of. When Miranda Lambert put Gillian Welch’s “Dry Town” on her Crazy Ex-Girlfriend album, I immediately looked into more of the Americana singer-songwriter’s music.
There are days, though, when I like the cover song and the cover song only, like when Dierks Bentley put the 26-year-old “Pride (In the Name of Love)” on his new album, Up on the Ridge. I already knew the U2 song. Who doesn’t? But I never really paid much attention to it. Never even liked it. Now that Bentley’s singing it, with Del McCoury on vocals, I dig what they’ve done with it.
Some days I am exhausted just looking at the tall, tall stack of CDs on my desk. There is just so much music. But then on other days, like today when I have time to sit and think, I’m so glad that I can stop putting music into neat little boxes. It’s better to have an open mind and let the music come to you.
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Tagged Because of You, Blake Shelton, Del McCoury, Dierks Bentley, Down the Road, Dry Town, Gillian Welch, Half of My Heart, Hillbilly Bone, Jerrod Niemann, John Mayer, Kellie Pickler, Kelly Clarkson, Kenny Chesney, Lover Lover, Mac McAnally, Miranda Lambert, Pride (In the Name of Love), Reba McEntire, Sonia Dada, Taylor Swift, The Best Days of Your Life, Trace Adkins, U2, You Don't Treat Me No Good
Finally. The invitation into Toby Keith’s Oklahoma house I’ve been waiting for. Actually, now that I’ve seen the pictures in People Country, the word “house” doesn’t really do this place justice. Maybe something more like “estate” works. Because you know anytime you give your house a name (his is Dream Walkin’ Farms), it kind of ceases to become just a house. But it is spectacular, from the big ol’ gates out front to the nearly 9,000 square feet of living space he and his family call home on the 160 acres. There is a theater room, a lake full of bass, perch and catfish, an eight-car garage and a racquetball court. And even though all that space doesn’t make it your typically cozy country house , Keith tells People.com, “When you’re born and raised in a place like Oklahoma, no place else feels like home.”
Today (Aug. 10) is the day you can get in on what the Zac Brown Band has going on. Specifically, you can preorder the new album on the band’s website and download the insanely cool first single which they sing with Alan Jackson. It’s called “As She’s Walking Away” and it will be on ZBB’s You Get What You Give album due out on Sept. 21. (If you pre-order, you’ll have access to all kinds of goodies like an exclusive lithograph, a cookbook, a T-shirt and trucker cap, some cooking rub from Brown’s own recipe and a chance to win a free cabin on the band’s Sailing Southern Ground cruise next month). The new album will also feature vocals from another singer you may have heard of, Jimmy Buffett, on “Knee Deep.” These Zac Brown Band guys do not mess around when they pick who to collaborate with.
If it’s Tuesday, it must be time to put down the beers and head to Wal-mart. That’s the life Blake Shelton thinks his fans are living. “My fans aren’t necessarily looking for music on the internet. I wouldn’t know how to stream music if you put a gun to my head. We’re more the kind that sit around watching John Wayne movies, drinkin’ beer and then when the album comes out, we go down to Wal-mart and buy it,” he told me last week.
And the album’s out today (Aug. 10). All About Tonight has six songs that Shelton can rave about without sounding too full of himself because he didn’t write them. Like “Draggin’ the River,” a song about young love and the girl’s dad who doesn’t understand it. Fiancée Miranda Lambert joins him on that one. Shelton told me she wanted to cut that one herself, and he said, “Bullshit you will. You already did that once with ‘The House That Built Me.'” Then she suggested it would work as a duet.
But Lambert did give him one song for the album. She wrote “Suffocating” with Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, and it showcases the power of Shelton’s haunting vocals. Then there’s “Got a Little Country” with rapid-fire singing about Louis Vuitton, Manolo Blahniks and gin and tonics, which Shelton told me was kind of inspired by country star Jerry Reed. And when I asked Shelton if that was him on the lightning-fast guitar picking, he said, “I wish. I can’t even think that fast, much less play like that.”
But his favorite track on the album? “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking?” Do you pour a little something on the rocks? Sink to your nose in a bubble bath? Do you break things when you get mad? Paint your toes because you bite your nails? He likes it because of the vivid picture it paints. I like it because I like guys who ask all the right questions.
In the latest issue of People Country, you can find out exactly where country stars find the best barbecue. But I have to warn you, if you don’t live south of the Mason-Dixon Line, it’s kind of depressing. Tim McGraw likes Podnuh’s in Baton Rouge, Jason Aldean picks Fincher’s Bar-B-Q in Georgia and Jake Owen names a spot in Florida. Dolly Parton chooses Couser’s Southern Restaurant in Nashville (and also serves up quite a spread at her Dollywood theme park). I’m sure all those meals are just fine. But for those of us who live up north, what about us? Even though it didn’t make it to the top of anyone’s list, Memphis-based Corky’s is my personal favorite. Not just because it’s tasty, smoked and hand-pulled, but because they will deliver it to your door. You can get three pounds of their pulled pork and a bottle of sauce for around $70 and eat like a star no matter where you live.
Photo credit: Dollywood
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Tagged Bar-B-Cue, barbecue, BBQ, Corky's, Couser's Southern Restaurant, Dolly Parton, Dollywood, Fincher's, Jake Owen, Jason Aldean, People Country, Podnuh's, Tim McGraw
A funky little cabin. A two-story tree fort. These are the kinds of things that inspire Kix Brooks. Well, those and the 600-acre farm he has them on. He tells People Country magazine that this is where he finds peace, and that “anytime you can get some peace, I think it serves as great inspiration.” (He in fact co-wrote the Brooks & Dunn hit “Only in America” on this property.) I’m guessing the acreage also has a real home and that Brooks does not spend all his time in the aforementioned tree fort and tiny cabin. But all he says of the farm’s best feature is its remoteness, even though it’s only about an hour from Nashville. “If you get to really experience the woods, where you can’t see power lines, people or roads, you realize that there is a serenity in the world,” he says.
What did we do before Twitter? Seriously. It gives country fans so much random but hysterical nuggets of information. And it’s not just Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley and Brad Paisley who are cracking people up. Girls are getting in on it, too. This weekend, Miranda Lambert sent out a tweet after her show on Saturday (Aug. 7) night that said, “Soooo…..some crazy girl showed her boobs to us all night while we were on stage. And they were not the pretty kind. Ew!” That was about the same time that Kellie Pickler was on her tour bus rolling down the highway saying, “can’t quit looking down at my left hand and thanking God that I get to spend the rest of my life with @kylecjacobs.” Martina McBride tweeted a little movie of her husband (and an audience) singing “Happy Birthday” to her. Even LeAnn Rimes, who is back on Twitter after a week-long hiatus, was retweeting the always-pensive John Mayer, with his quote, “I have found the key to a happy life is to surround myself with like-minded people who agree with me constantly.”
I thought I could handle the Brooks & Dunn Last Rodeo show I saw last night (Aug. 8) in Chicago. I thought I’d seen them in concert enough that I’d be a bit cavalier about the whole thing and not get swept up in the emotions that come with the realization that this is it. The last time they will saunter down that catwalk. The last time Ronnie Dunn will bring out the “Neon Moon” guitar. The end of an era. But I was so, so wrong about keeping my cool. I was a mess.
And here’s why. I expected that I’d be watching the show from a seat, where I could see their faces and watch Kix Brooks charm the audience while Dunn strolled nonchalantly. But I had a pass to watch the show from the side of the stage. So for two entire hours, I watched Brooks & Dunn from behind Brooks & Dunn. And you know what that means? I saw what they saw. Roughly 25,000 people riding an emotional rollercoaster. Euphoria when songs like “Play Something Country” and “Brand New Man” were up. Then super weepy-eyed fans when they did “Cowgirls Don’t Cry” and “How Long Gone.” Video footage showed them going from rookies to superstars, along with clips of Billboard charts as they hit the top of the list over and over again.
At the very end, they left everyone on a high note with “Boot Scootin’ Boogie.” I remember when I had no idea who Brooks & Dunn even were. I was watching some country awards show in the mid-1990s, hoping Garth Brooks would win it all. I saw the duo win an award and thought, “Why are Hall & Oates on a country awards show?” Now, obviously, I know full well who they are. They can go ahead and move on, but I will never forget the joy their music brought to my life.
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Tagged Boot Scootin' Boogie, Brand New Man, Brooks & Dunn, Cowgirls Don't Cry, Garth Brooks, Hall & Oates, How Long Gone, Kix Brooks, Last Rodeo, Neon Moon, Play Something Country, Ronnie Dunn