Luke Bryan’s Family Adds Another Little Fisherman

Luke Bryan and his wife, Caroline, just welcomed another baby boy to their growing family. Baby Tatum “Tate” Christopher Bryan was born yesterday morning (Aug. 11) and was 6 pounds, 8 ounces and 21 inches long. And Luke already knows just what his future holds now that he has two boys. “All the fishing holes in Nashville better look out when I get out there in the next few years with Tate and big brother Bo,” he told People.com. “Bo” is Thomas Boyer Bryan, the couple’s 2-year-old son. The singer added that there was nothing like coming home after eight shows out on the road and having baby Tate surprise them. “Such an amazing day for me and my family. We are so blessed to have another healthy baby boy,” he said in a statement. When I met Bo at a concert when he was just a tiny little thing, he had an adorable all-access lanyard on that was about 1″ X 2″. I hope they saved that. That will make a nice hand-me-down for baby Tate.

Photo credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Remembering a Final Conversation About Country

The day I wrote a blog about how God says no to your prayers sometimes was the last time I talked to my parish’s pastor about country music. It was actually the last time I talked to him, period. He died suddenly yesterday (Aug. 11). And I am struggling with the fact that our last conversation was about country music. I mean, shouldn’t we have been talking about something more reverent? Shouldn’t I have been asking him why bad things happen to good people? Or some other religious question that holier Christians ponder?

On the one hand, I feel like my only bond with Father Bob was a shared love of country music. On the other hand, is that so wrong? Just like me, he loved the music so much. He’d even gone to a few big arena shows over the years, even one of those mega Kenny Chesney shows at Chicago’s Soldier Field. And I have to assume that he wasn’t there for the electric guitar jams and the blazing fiddle solos. His love of the music seemed to revolve around the lyrics. I know, I know. Country has its share of sinful themes. Drinkin’, cheatin’, killin’, temptation, greed and other mortal and venial sins. Outlaw music just wouldn’t be the same without ugliness like that.

But then there’s the other side of country. The songs about repentance, counting blessings, sharing sacraments, seeing the Lord in little things, having faith in Jesus and getting called on home. When you think about songs like that, no other genre could ever come close. If you’re gonna make a priest’s playlist, you need to have songs that really mean something. That is why I know that St. Peter was there to welcome Father Bob, and tell him, “Good ride, cowboy. Good ride.”

Taylor Swift Says “Konnichiwa!” to Country Radio

Getting 116 radio stations to put your song on right when it’s released is quite an achievement. Because she’s just as gifted as a businesswoman as she is a songwriter, Taylor Swift was smart enough to send out a quick thank you to all those stations who added “Mine” to their playlists. (It kind of makes me wonder why some stations didn’t add it, you know?) In an impromptu video greeting, Swift offers a heartfelt “Konnichiwa!” then goes on to say hi to her friends at country radio and gives her effusive thanks. She does it from the side of a stage in Toyko where she was part of the Summer Sonic Festival. Right before she heads out to sing, she says, “I’m about to play for 45,000 people in Japan! Wish me luck! Thank you for the first week. I love you.”

Carrie Underwood Unveils Lush Lashes at Wedding

All they had to do was make Carrie Underwood look even more stunning on her wedding day. Hardly an impossible task considering what a lovely palette Melissa Schleicher and Stephen Moleski had to start with. But it was hot, hot, hot on her wedding day, so they did have to keep her looking cool. They did so with a simple updo with curls and pieces and bobby pins. Then Schleicher, her make-up artist, gave People.com the scoop on her fabulous look from the day. The super secret weapon seems to have been the very lush, soft and full false eyelashes she wore. They were created just for Underwood by Moleski, from Smoke and Mirrors Beauty. Joe Don Rooney’s wife, Tiffany Fallon, loves the line of faux lashes, as does E! star Kim Kardashian. You can get lashes almost like Underwood’son Moleski’s site for about $22. No brand of mascara — or prescription of Latisse — will ever make your eyes look like this.

Photo credit: People.com

Taylor Swift Kicking Off NFL Season With a Concert

I predict that professional football will have a whole bunch of new fans next month. Young ones. And girl ones. I’m sure all kinds of rookies will be tuning in to theNFL’s annual kick-off concert on Sept. 8 on NBC to see Taylor Swift performing in New Orleans’ Jackson Square along with theDave Matthews Band. They may even stay tuned for the actual game afterward when the Minnesota Vikings play the New Orleans Saints. This is certainly not Swift’s first time singing at a sporting event. She started that around 11 years old, when she realized that singing the National Anthem was a surefire way to get potential fans’ attention at Philadelphia 76ers’ games. She’s gone on to sing at the U.S. Open tennis tournament and even at game three of the 2008 World Series when her home-state team, the Philadelphia Phillies, was in it.

Toby Keith Invites People to Oklahoma Ranch

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.”

Zac Brown Band Cook Up Duet With Alan Jackson

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.

Blake Shelton Fans Put Down the Beer for New CD

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.