Photos: Willie Nelson, Darius Rucker

Willie Nelson helped Virgin America airlines launch its new service to Dallas Fort-Worth International Airport (DFW). To celebrate, Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson hosted a Texas-sized party in downtown Dallas at the Winspear Opera House.

Willie Nelson performs as Richard Branson boogies onstage with flight attendants.

Darius Rucker visited The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Dec. 1 to perform his latest No. 1 Country Billboard hit, “Come Back Song.”

Following the performance, host Jay Leno (center) joined Rucker (L) and celebrity guest actor/comedian Jay Mohr (R) to close the show.

Travis Tritt Signs With Parallel Entertainment

Travis Tritt has signed with manager J.P. Williams of Parallel Entertainment, home to Larry The Cable Guy and others. The Los Angeles-based talent management and production company handles a wide range of entertainment projects, including feature films, DVD premiere features, comedy and music albums, and television series and specials.

Parallel has produced one-hour specials for Comedy Central and HBO, as well as several motion pictures. Among its most popular offerings are the Blue Collar Comedy and Larry the Cable Guy franchises.

Dates: Tin Pan South, Grammy Nominee Party

The Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) has announced that the 19th Annual Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival will be held from March 29- April 2, 2011. Tin Pan South is the world’s largest all-songwriter festival, and includes songwriters of all musical genres performing at a variety of Nashville night spots. For the fifth continuous year, Regions Bank is the presenting sponsor of the event.

Last year more than 300 songwriters performed 70+ shows at eight Nashville venues. Over 9,000 music fans attend the event annually. Visit tinpansouth.com to purchase Fast Access passes and check out Festival updates. Fast Access passes will go on sale March 9, 2011.

•••

The invitation-only Grammy Nominee Party is scheduled for Tues., Jan 18 at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel.

Vassar To Headline Nashville New Year’s Eve

Phil Vassar will headline Nashville’s Bash On Broadway New Year’s Eve party. The free block party starts at 7:30 PM with performances by Will Hoge, Heidi Newfield and Damien Horne. GAC and Sirius/XM host Storme Warren will emcee the event on Lower Broadway leading up to the midnight Guitar Drop and fireworks.

Also on the Music City calender: On Dec. 29 Zac Brown Band plays Bridgestone Arena
, and Little Texas performs a free outdoor concert downtown prior to the Battle of the Bands. Dec. 30 brings the Music City Bowl at LP Field
, where Trace Adkins will sing the national anthem and Ashton Shepherd will perform “God Bless America.” There is a pre-game concert downtown with Tim Akers and The Smoking Section.

American Country Award Winners

Lady Antebellum

Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood and Lady Antebellum were big winners at the first American Country Awards last night (12/6) in Las Vegas. Underwood took home six awards, including Artist of the Year, Album of the Year (for Play On), and Touring Package of the Year. Lady Antebellum earned honors for Single of the Year (“Need You Now”) and Artist of the Year: Duo or Group. Mercury’s Easton Corbin picked up three awards, and Blake Shelton scored two.

Rascal Flatts and Alan Jackson received career achievement awards.

According to zap2it.com the show gave the Fox network a third place tie in ratings for the evening, with 5.97 million tuning in and a 3.6 rating/5 share. Among adults 18-49, Fox trailed CBS and NBC with a 1.5 rating.

Winners are in bold red below.

ARTISTS
Artist of the Year
Lady Antebellum
Miranda Lambert
Taylor Swift
Carrie Underwood
Zac Brown Band

Artist of the Year: Duo or Group
Lady Antebellum
Rascal Flatts
Sugarland
The Band Perry
Zac Brown Band

Easton Corbin

Artist of the Year: Breakthrough Artist
Easton Corbin
Danny Gokey
Jaron and The Long Road To Love
Jerrod Niemann
The Band Perry

Artist of the Year: Male
Jason Aldean
Luke Bryan
Kenny Chesney
Brad Paisley
Keith Urban

Artist of the Year: Female

Jewel
Miranda Lambert
Reba McEntire
Taylor Swift
Carrie Underwood

ALBUMS
Album of the Year
Doin’ My Thing, Luke Bryan
Need You Now, Lady Antebellum
Revolution, Miranda Lambert
Haywire, Josh Turner
Play On, Carrie Underwood

SINGLES
Single of the Year: Male
“Do I,” Luke Bryan
“Little More Country Than That,” Easton Corbin
“That’s How Country Boys Roll,” Billy Currington
“Gimme That Girl,” Joe Nichols
“Why Don’t We Just Dance,” Josh Turner

Single of the Year: Breakthrough Artist
“Little More Country Than That,” Easton Corbin
“Pray for You,” Jaron and The Long Road To Love
“Lover, Lover,” Jerrod Niemann
“Keep on Lovin’ You,” Steel Magnolia
“Beer on the Table,” Josh Thompson

Single of the Year
“Do I,” Luke Bryan
“A Little More Country Than That,” Easton Corbin
“Need You Now,” Lady Antebellum
“Gimme That Girl,” Joe Nichols
“Why Don’t We Just Dance,” Josh Turner

Single of the Year: Female
“White Liar,” Miranda Lambert
“Wrong Baby Wrong,” Martina McBride
“Consider Me Gone,” Reba McEntire
“Didn’t Know How Much I Loved You,” Kellie Pickler
“Cowboy Casanova,” Carrie Underwood

Single of the Year: Duo or Group

“Need You Now,” Lady Antebellum
“Little White Church,” Little Big Town
“Unstoppable,” Rascal Flatts
“Keep On Lovin’ You,” Steel Magnolia
“Toes,” Zac Brown Band

Alan Jackson is honored.

TOURING
Touring Headline Package of the Year
Brooks & Dunn
Toby Keith
Martina McBride & Trace Adkins
Tim McGraw
Brad Paisley
Rascal Flatts
George Strait & Reba McEntire
Sugarland
Taylor Swift
Carrie Underwood

VIDEOS
Music Video of the Year
“A Little More Country Than That,” Easton Corbin
“Need You Now,” Lady Antebellum
“Hillbilly Bone,” Blake Shelton with Trace Adkins
“Why Don’t We Just Dance,” Josh Turner
“The Man I Want To Be,” Chris Young

Music Video: Male
“A Little More Country Than That,” Easton Corbin
“Southern Voice,” Tim McGraw
“Hillbilly Bone,” Blake Shelton with Trace Adkins
“Why Don’t We Just Dance,” Josh Turner
“The Man I Want To Be,” Chris Young

Music Video: Breakthrough Artist
“Giddy On Up,” Laura Bell Bundy
“A Little More Country Than That,” Easton Corbin
“Lover, Lover,” Jerrod Niemann
“Keep on Lovin’ You,” Steel Magnolia
“If I Die Young,” The Band Perry

Music Video: Female
“White Liar,” Miranda Lambert
“Consider Me Gone,” Reba McEntire
“Didn’t Know How Much I Loved You,” Kellie Pickler
“Cowboy Casanova,” Carrie Underwood
“Work Hard, Play Harder,” Gretchen Wilson

Music Video: Duo or Group
“Need You Now,” Lady Antebellum
“Little White Church,” Little Big Town
“Unstoppable,” Rascal Flatts
“Keep on Lovin’ You,” Steel Magnolia
“Highway 20 Ride,” Zac Brown Band

Photos: Brett Eldredge; Eric Lee Beddingfield

Photo (L-R): Brett Eldredge and Al Roker

Atlantic Records’ rising star Brett Eldredge made his debut television appearance Dec. 4 on the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s “Together for Care” telethon. Eldredge performed his single “Raymond,” which he wrote after being inspired by his grandmother’s battle with the disease. Among the other stars on the telethon were Al Roker from NBC’s Today Show.

•••••••••••

Eric Lee Beddingfield visited the MusicRow offices last week to share new music from his album This Life Ain’t For Everybody. The Rebel Dawg Records release features the single “The Gospel According to Jones,” with guest vocals by the Possum himself. Beddingfield wrote or co-wrote all the songs on the album which was produced by Kent Wells (Dolly Parton/Keith Whitley/Hank Williams Jr/Reba McEntire).

Top (L-R): MR's Jon Freeman, MR's David Ross, and MR's Sherod Robertson; Middle (L-R): MR's Sarah Skates, MR's Michelle Stephens; Front (L-R): Eric Lee Beddingfield, MR's Robert K. Oermann and Manager/publicist Craig Campbell

EMI Celebrates Holiday Kick-Off

EMI Music helped start the holiday’s for writers, staff and friends at its 2010 Holiday Casino Party. The “in the chips” festivities included dinner and  Casino play plus a raffle.

(L-R) Alice Peacock, Brian Henningsen, Clara Henningsen, Dallas Davidson, Sarah Davidson, Jeremy Stover, Rachel Proctor, Aaron Henningsen, Michael Knox, Ross Copperman, EMI Exec. VP/GM Ben Vaughn, Tom Luteran, Steve McEwan, Laura Wright, Josh Van Valkenburg, Keith Anderson, James T. Slater, Jerry Flowers, Matt Fleener, Jamie Paulin, Missy Wilson, Kelley Lovelace, Chris Gillis and Zach Hammitte.

Bell Joins 13 Mgmt; Swift Tour Dates Sell Out

13 Management, Taylor Swift’s wholly owned management company, has appointed Frank Bell to the newly created post of Director of Radio and Research.

“Frank brings solid relationships and strong tactical radio expertise and insight to 13 Management,” stated 13’s Robert Allen. “As we ramp up for the Taylor Swift Speak Now World Tour in 2011, Frank will be an invaluable resource to manage our radio outreach and develop our marketing research initiatives.”

Prior to joining 13 Management, Bell spent ten years as Vice President of Programming for Keymarket Communications of Pennsylvania / Ohio, overseeing on-air operations and marketing for a 14-station group.

Bell will officially join 13 Management on December 13, but can be reached now at:  [email protected]

•••
The first tickets for Taylor Swift’s Speak Now 2011 North American tour went on sale late last week, and all tickets for the first 10 shows put on sale sold out within minutes. Those shows included Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. – which sold out in 5 minutes, and two shows at Los Angeles’ STAPLES Center, which sold out within 2 minutes.

Several shows have been added to the tour, which kicks off February 9 in Singapore and includes 90 shows in 19 countries spanning four continents.

NEEDTOBREATHE is the featured artist for the North American leg of the tour. Ticket prices start at $25. Visit www.TaylorSwift.com for details.

Music City Memorial for Will Tennyson

Will Tennyson, a longtime member of the Nashville music industry who passed away recently, will be celebrated with a memorial service on Wed., Dec. 8, 11:00 AM-12:00 PM, at the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Ford Theater.

The service will include performances by Tennyson’s friends Mandy Barnett and Brennin Hunt.

There will also be a slideshow of pictures of Tennyson and the many people whose lives he touched.

If you have pictures to include in the slideshow, please email them to Christy Grealis at [email protected]

Chesney Stadium Stop At NY/NJ Meadowlands

Kenny Chesney’s Goin’ Coastal Tour is set to play the New York area on Aug. 13, 2011. Also starring will be Zac Brown Band with special guests Billy Currington and Uncle Kracker.

Tickets for the mega show go on sale Dec. 11 at 11 a.m. “This lineup represents the very best that country music has to offer,” said Mark Lamping, President and CEO of the New Meadowlands Stadium. “We look forward to hosting these terrific acts in August 2011, and providing a prominent stage for country music in the New York and New Jersey region.”

Fans can buy tickets at http://kennychesney.com and http://www.newmeadowlandsstadium.com. The Kenny Chesney Official Fan Club will be offering presale tickets for all shows on Kenny’s 2011 Tour prior to the general public on-sale. To get access to these exclusive presales, fans can go to http://kennychesney.com

Kenny Chesney 2011  Tour
(Stadium dates only – starring Kenny Chesney and Zac Brown Band, with Billy Currington and Uncle Kracker)
Sat Mar 19 – Tampa, FL – Raymond James  Stadium (on sale Sat Dec 11)
Sat Apr 16 – Dallas, TX – Cowboys Stadium (on  sale Sat Dec 4)
Sat Jun 4 – Washington, DC – FedEx Field – (on sale Fri Dec  3)
Sat Jun 11 – Green Bay, WI – Lambeau Field (on sale Sat Dec 11)
Sat  Jun 18 – Philadelphia, PA – Lincoln Financial Field SOLD OUT
Sat Jul 2 – Pittsburgh, PA – Heinz Field (on sale Sat Dec 4)
Sat Jul  30 – Kansas City, MO – Arrowhead Stadium (on sale Sat Dec 4)
Sat Aug 13 –  Rutherford, NJ – New Meadowlands Stadium (on sale Sat Dec 11)
Sat Aug 20 –  Detroit, MI – Ford Field (on sale Sat Dec 4)
Sat Aug 27- Foxboro, MA –  Gillette Stadium SOLD OUT

The tour is billed as  Corona Extra presents Kenny Chesney’s Goin’ Coastal Tour, starring Kenny Chesney and Zac Brown Band.