Image Courtesy CMTJana Kramer and Kelsea Ballerini launched their CMT Next Women of Country Tour this week. It's rare for two solo female acts to go on the road, and Jana is excited to show the rest of the country music industry how it's done.
She tells the Cincinnati Enquirer, "I wanted to get out there and show that girls can have an awesome tour together. We can go out, sell tickets, have fun and the crowd can have a good time. I want to be on the forefront with supporting women and helping us get heard.”
Jana and Kelsea will be on tour together through a May 28 show in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Image Courtesy CMAThomasRhett's new single, "Crash and Burn," was co-written by Nashville singer/songwriter Chris Stapleton, who has an album of his own coming out Tuesday. It's called Traveller, and Thomas has been wearing out his advance copy of the project.
"I love listening to the guy sing," Thomas tells West Virginia's Charleston Gazette, "and there's something for everybody on that record."
As for the other artists on Thomas's current playlist, he says, "I'm a huge fan of Eric Church, and his Outsiders record is amazing. Meghan Trainor is kind of a guilty pleasure for me, but her album has been on repeat."
Thomas is currently finishing up work on his as-yet-untitled sophomore album, due out later this year.
Image Courtesy Danny Clinch/ShorefireZac Brown Band kicks off their new tour tonight at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena in support of their brand-new album, Jekyll Hyde. Fans can expect a few surprises throughout the night, too.
Zac says, "We do have some guests planned. We are gonna be playing the new album from front to back. We’re playing every song on the new album at the show and then a few of our old songs. But it’s primarily getting to show everybody this new stuff that we made."
While most bands would be intimidated to kick off their tour in Music City, Zac says they're ready for the challenge.
"It’s not intimidating playing Nashville," Zac says. "Some of the people there are kind of discerning and there’s some pretty amazing music that goes around Nashville so you’ve got to bring it."
Zac Brown Band's new album, Jekyll Hyde, is now in stores and online, featuring the #1 hit, "Homegrown."
Image Courtesy Capitol NashvilleLittle Big Town's "Girl Crush" is shaping up to be their biggest hit since the 2011 smash "Pontoon." Now the quartet is teaming up with Faith Hill for a special performance of "Girl Crush" at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards.
The show broadcasts live Sunday, May 17 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Image Courtesy Capitol NashvilleLady Antebellum has been headlining their own tours for several years now, but their new Wheels Up trek is their favorite for several reasons. First of all, the lighting and stage design are the most advanced Lady A has ever taken on the road.
During a recent break in their tour rehearsals in Nashville, the group's Dave Haywood explained, "This staging is just blowing us away. You know, we saw it and worked on it, designing it on the computer and on paper and ideas, and to see it here in person is amazing."
Lady Antebellum also has enough radio hits at this point to fill their entire set, which is a big milestone for any band.
Dave adds, "It’s fun to also have one or two kind of album cuts for a lot of the super fans and big fans out there. But, what’s great is to be at a point to have this many singles to pack into a show, and it’s a real, I think, special moment for that reason."
Lady Antebellum's Wheels Up tour with special guests Hunter Hayes and Sam Hunt begins Friday night in Lubbock, Texas.
Image Courtesy CMAMirandaLambert is bringing her Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars tour back this fall with an all-female lineup. Her longtime pals RaeLynn and Ashley Monroe will join Miranda on the bill, along with newcomer Clare Dunn, whom Miranda first saw perform at this year's Stagecoach Festival.
Miranda says of Clare, "I hadn't seen her before -- but I'm a fan now. You don't see that many women who get up there and really slay a guitar and play some real rock 'n' roll country."
Brand-new artist Courtney Cole will also join the tour, performing songs from her debut acoustic EP, #NoFilter.
Miranda says of the women-only trek, "I really support female artists in any genre, especially country music right now. I've taken girls on tour for a long time and I want to continue to do that because I feel like I can give them a platform."
Exact tour dates will be announced soon, but we already know the cities for the Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars tour:
Missoula, MT Billings, MT Rapid City, SD Mankato, MN Augusta, GA Fayetteville, NC Roanoke, VA Huntsville, AL Tupelo, MS Jonesboro, AR Lacrosse, WI Ft. Wayne, IN Moline, IL
Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockToby Keith's daughter, artist Krystal Keith, is expecting her first child with husband Andrew Sandubrae. The little one is due this October.
Dustin Lynch tells Entertainment Tonight he wants to release the song "Mind Reader" as a single from his latest album, Where It's At, before he moves on to another project.
Thomas Rhett, Cole Swindell, Craig Campbell, Lee Brice and Lauren Alaina are performing at the 2nd Annual Georgia on My Mind concert May 12 at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. The show is hosted by hit writers and Georgia natives Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson and Ben Hayslip -- collectively known as The Peach Pickers. Proceeds go to the Georgia Music Foundation.
Trisha Yearwood and her sister, Beth, will perform a song in memory of their late mother on Live with Kelly and Michael coming up May 8.
Toby Keith was honored with the Distinguished Leadership Award at the international affairs think tank Atlantic Council's annual gala Thursday night in Washington, D.C. The honor recognizes Toby's work in support of U.S. troops around the world.
Randy Houser shares the details on why he recorded his latest single, "We Went," in the new installment of his YouTube series, House Band TV.
Image Courtesy EB Media/Green RoomIf you go check out one of Kenny Chesney and Jason Aldean's joint stadium shows this summer, you'll get to witness a unique collaboration between two of country's hottest superstars.
Jason explains, "It's gonna be different. I don't think it's gonna be the thing of I do my show, he does his show, and it's over. I think it's going to be a lot more interactive than that."
That fact that Jason and Kenny are only performing a handful of dates together makes these shows one of the hottest country tickets of 2015.
"To me, that makes it more of an event," Jason says. "More so than just, you know, you throw in a bunch of shows in there and doing it all year. It's like, 'This is only gonna happen a few times, so you've only got a few chances to check this out.'"
It turns out Jason had another tour with Kenny in the works a few years ago, but those plans fell through and helped turn Jason into one of country's top touring artists.
Says Jason, "I was going to go out and open for him, and he decided to take a year off, which actually ended up being a great thing for us, 'cause we went out and headlined our own stuff, and it was kind of the jump-start for us on that end."
Jason and Kenny co-headline their first joint stadium show Saturday in San Francisco. They'll play 10 stadium dates in all before wrapping things up August 28 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Chuck ArlundDariusRucker took a break from his country career Thursday night to reunite with Hootie & the Blowfish in a rare TV appearance on the CBS Late Show with David Letterman.
They performed "Hold My Hand," harkening back to their TV debut on the CBS program back in 1994, when they played the same song. It was the band's way of saluting Letterman, who is stepping down as Late Show host later this month.
Rucker has credited Letterman for launching his group to superstardom after it was invited to perform "Hold My Hand" on the Late Show two decades ago.
Hootie & the Blowfish have been on hiatus for several years, while Darius concentrates on his country music career.
Letterman's final Late Show is scheduled for Wednesday, May 20.
Image Courtesy Monarch PublicityLittle Big Town, Vince Gill, Love and Theft and Lauren Alaina will be taking the field for the 25th Annual City of Hope Celebrity Softball Game June 13 at Nashville's brand-new First Tennessee Park. The event is a long-standing part of the activities surrounding the CMA Music Festival, and raises money for City of Hope's ongoing fight against cancer.
The full team rosters will be announced soon. Tickets are now on sale through Ticketmaster.
Image Courtesy Show DogToby Keith has won several music industry awards and honors over the years, but his induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame tops them all. With all of his success as a touring and recording artist, Toby says he's most proud to be a songwriter.
He explains, "It is what I take the most pride in. I am honored to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. It means the world to me and it is the only award that I will display on my desk."
Toby also plans to perform at the Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony set for June 18 in New York City.
Image Courtesy Republic NashvilleFloridaGeorgia Line is co-headlining with Kid Rock at the 2015 Summer Spotlight concert, May 5 at New York City's Irving Hall. Kip Moore is also performing at the show in celebration of May 5 being designated as the first-ever National Concert Day.
The special day recognizes the fans who buy concert tickets. It also salutes the artists, managers and venue staff who make those shows possible.
Image Courtesy Mercury NashvilleCountry newcomer Canaan Smith will release his debut album, Bronco, on June 23. The project features his top-20 hit, "Love You Like That," as well as all of the other songs on his current self-titled EP. The full track listing will be announced soon.
As for that album title, Canaan named the project after a song he wrote in memory of his brother, who died when Canaan was young. Says Canaan, "He was my hero and I wanted to put out something in memory of him. I think it symbolizes his wild spirit and I’m really proud of it.”
Canaan will hit the road with Dierks Bentley's Sounds of Summer tour, starting June 5 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Image Courtesy Broken Bow RecordsDustinLynch premiered his new video for "Hell of a Night" on ETOnline.com Thursday. The clip captures several different live shows from Dustin, including his dates on the road with Luke Bryan.
Dustin says, "I think it's really cool 'cause it's for the fans, and a lot of people will recognize their faces in this."
When you watch the clip, be sure and take notice of how crisp Dustin's shirts are on stage. He actually carries an iron and ironing board on his tour bus and does all the ironing himself. Luke Bryan has a staff member on tour who does all the ironing for him and his band, but Dustin hasn't taken advantage of those services just yet.
Says Dustin, "I feel weird asking her. I'd rather iron my own stuff. It's self-centering and gives me one of those moments to get collected before a show."
Image Courtesy Nino Munoz/Capitol NashvilleDierks Bentley has signed on as the headliner for the 11th Annual Stars for Second Harvest benefit concert Tuesday, June 9 at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. Nashville cast members Charles Esten and Lennon and Maisy Stella are also on the bill.
Stars for Second Harvest raises money for the Second Harvest Food Back of Middle Tennessee.
Image Courtesy ABC/Bob D'AmicoOn Wednesday's Nashville, country superstar Rayna Jaymes stalked her boyfriend Deacon's bitter sister Beverly all over Biloxi, Mississippi, trying to convince her to give her dying brother a piece of her liver. Rayna's compliments on Beverly's performance of the song "Touble" at a rundown country bar didn't help the cause. Beverly blames Rayna for breaking up her musical act with Deacon and shooting down any chance for Beverly to become a country star in her own right. In the end, Rayna offered a million-dollar check to Beverly as a last-ditch effort to get her to save Deacon.
Christina Aguilera's three-episode stint as pop star Jade St. John came to an end this week, as did her character's love affair with country hunk, Luke Wheeler. After spending some time in Jade's high-profile Los Angeles world, Luke decided he belonged back in Nashville. The fact that his teenage son, Colt, was caught in a compromising situation with Rayna's daughter, Maddie, made Luke exit Los Angeles that much faster.
Mayor Teddy Conrad learned the feds were coming after him after his prostitute girlfriend, Natasha, turned him in for embezzling government funds and blackmailing a city official. Lucky for Teddy, one of his friends works in the prosecutor's office and offered him immunity. We'll find out next week what that friend wants in return for Teddy's freedom.
Gunnar Scott's ex-girlfriend Kylie returned to Nashville, asking to her son, Micah, who is now living with his grandparents. You'll remember Kylie left Micah with Gunnar, who was under the impression Micah was his son. Gunnar eventually found out Micah's father was his late brother, Jason. In a tearful confession in Gunnar's living room, Kylie revealed Micah was conceived when Jason raped her one night at a party. This development throws a wrench in Gunnar's hopes of getting back together with his other ex-girlfriend, Scarlett.
New parents Juliette Barnes and Avery Barkley finally worked together to revive her country career with a surprise rooftop performance in downtown Nashville. Her performance of the new song, "Mississippi Flood," was a big hit, and the parents shared a sexy moment in the elevator after the performance. All that excitement faded away as they returned home to their crying baby, Cadence.
Jonathan Jackson, who plays Avery, knows first-hand how hard it can be for parents to connect.
"I have three kids of my own, so I know that children add a huge amount of intensity in different ways to your life, and responsibility," Jonathan explains. "At the same time it mellows you out, so it’s kind of a paradox because you’re less concerned about your own ambitions and you’re kind of less wrapped up in your own world. You have something else and someone else to provide for and think about."
Through all of the challenges, Jonathan looks forward to seeing Avery and Juliette grow as parents and as musicians.
He adds, "I think that it will probably add perspective for both of them, but at the same time, logistically, it makes life complicated sometimes."
Juliette's performance of "Mississippi Flood" will be included on the new The Music of Nashville: Original Soundtrack Season 3, Volume 2, due out May 12th.
Nashville returns with an all-new episode next Wednesday night at 10 Eastern on ABC.
Image Courtesy Capitol NashvilleHootie & the Blowfish have been on hiatus for several years as lead singer Darius Rucker continues his successful country career, but the band does occasionally get together to perform -- though not on TV. That changes Thursday night, though, when Hootie -- with Darius -- will appear on The Late Show with David Letterman. Why? Turns out they want to say goodbye to Letterman, the man who they credit for their incredible success in the '90s.
According to Darius, Letterman was directly responsible for turning the first Hootie & Blowfish single, "Hold My Hand," into a hit, by booking the group on his show. "It was the turning point of our careers," he says, noting that initially, "Hold My Hand" wasn't getting any significant airplay outside the South, until Letterman heard it by chance one day.
"One day in New York, David Letterman got off from work and was driving home and one of the DJs decided he was gonna play 'Hold My Hand,'" Darius recalls. "Then, legend goes, Letterman heard the song and pulled over on the side of the road and called his bookers. It was a Tuesday and said, 'I want this Hootie & the Blowfish band on my show as soon as we can.' And we were on that Friday."
After that exposure, Darius says, the band was off and running.
"That Friday morning, we were just another band trying to get on the radio, fighting grunge, having little success," he says. "And after we played Letterman on Friday night, Monday morning we were on the way to being the biggest band in the world. It changed that overnight. It was crazy how quick it happened after that."
But that Friday booking wasn't the only support that Letterman gave the band: he continued to promote them in an unusual way.
"Every show for almost a year he said the name Hootie & the Blowfish," laughs Darius. "Every show for almost a year. Every show. We'd watch it just to see how he was gonna say our name, but he said it every night. That was crazy!"
Letterman's final Late Show is scheduled for Wednesday, May 20 on CBS. Meanwhile, Darius has hinted that Hootie may be recording some new music and doing an extensive tour sometime in the next couple of years.
Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockHank Williams, Jr. has signed a new deal with Nash Icon Records and will soon begin work on his 37th studio album. Look for the project to come out later this year.
Martina McBride sang "Over the Rainbow" on Fox's American Idol Wednesday night. A studio version of her performance is now available at iTunes.
Brett Eldredge returns to his home state of Illinois for a pre-NASCAR race concert at the Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday, September 20.
Florida Georgia Line has established a new publishing company, Tree Vibez Music. The name comes from the duo's recording studio in a treehouse on band member Brian Kelley's Nashville property.
Congratulations to 78-year-old country legend Merle Haggard on being presented with an honorary high school diploma from his now-alma mater Bakersfield High School in California. According to the Bakersfield Californian, Merle dropped out of the school as a freshman after attending just nine days of the year.