Hunze To Lead Parallel Music

(L-R) C.T. Wyatt, J.P. Williams (caricature) and Tim Hunze.

“We are up and running and are looking for great writers,” says Tim Hunze, who now heads up Parallel Music Publishing’s Nashville offices. “We believe being a boutique publisher is perfect for today’s ever changing environment.”

Parallel Music Publishing is a partnership between Hunze, Parallel Entertainment Founder & CEO, J.P. Williams, and C.T. Wyatt, who runs the Nashville office of Parallel Entertainment. Parallel just recently moved into its new office on Music Row, located at 1505 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37212. 615-750-2613. Parallel Entertainment and Parallel Music Publishing will share that office space.

Before Parallel, Hunze worked for Stage Three Music where he helped cultivate the talents of writers like 2009 BMI Songwriter of the Year, Bobby Pinson, and 2010 ASCAP Songwriter of the Year Brett James. He has also worked with hit songwriters Tom Shapiro, Tony Martin, Lee Miller and Jon Mabe.

Parallel Music’s parent company, Parallel Entertainment is a full service talent management and production company. It has produced everything from motion pictures to music albums to programming for a variety of cable television networks, including HBO and Comedy Central. Its talent roster boasts some of comedy’s most notable acts like Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy, Bill Engvall, and Lisa Lampanelli as well as music acts like Zella Day and Warner Music Nashville recording artist, Dean Alexander.  It also manages actors including former CMT Insider host, Lance Smith.

“We have extensive contacts in the TV, motion picture, video game, and music industries,” Hunze explains. “The opportunities and possibilities for Parallel Music Publishing’s songwriters are endless. We love country music but we’re not limiting ourselves to any one genre.”

Wilma Lee Cooper Passes

Grand Ole Opry member Wilma Lee Cooper passed away from natural causes on Sept. 13 at her home in Sweetwater, Tenn. She had been a member of the Opry since 1957 and was 90 years old. Per Wilma Lee’s wishes there will not be a memorial service. She will be remembered for her music and her faith.

Wilma Lee was preceded in death by her husband Stoney Cooper and is survived by her daughter Grand Ole Opry member and singer Carol Lee Cooper, Hendersonville, Tenn.; granddaughter Vanessa Brusseau and her husband Mark of Hermitage, Tenn. and granddaughter Shannon Rogers and her husband Mark of Hendersonville, Tenn.

Wilma Lee spent nearly her entire life singing and entertaining. Born Wilma Leigh Leary, she began working early as a member of West Virginia’s regionally-famed Leary Family. Her celebrated delivery of gospel and devotional songs emerged at the same time. First achieving national prominence in the 1940s performing with her late husband, champion fiddler Stoney (Dale T.) Cooper, Wilma Lee sang and played guitar with a bursting-at-the-seams energy. From the outset, the Coopers had success with story songs, from “The Legend of the Dogwood Tree,” “Little Rosewood Casket,” and “Sunny Side of the Mountain” for Rich-R-Tone and Columbia Records in the 40s to “Wreck on the Highway” and “Philadelphia Lawyer” for Hickory in the early 1960s. It was likely Wilma Lee and Stoney’s rousing, old-style jubilee hits of the ‘50s and ‘60s including “There’s a Big Wheel,” “This Old House,” and “Big Midnight Special” that audiences have responded to most of all. Wilma Lee and Stoney were members of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.

Wilma Lee continued performing with her group the Clinch Mountain Clan after Stoney’s death in March 1977, and was appearing on the Opry regularly until a stroke suffered on stage in 2001 forced her to cease performing. Her last solo performance on the Opry was at the Ryman Auditorium on Feb. 24, 2001.  Wilma Lee joined the Opry cast at the grand re-opening of the Opry House on Sept. 28, 2010 for a group sing-along.

Bobby Karl Works The Room

Chapter 373—Pt. 2

The Possum Turns 80

Onward. The festivities continued on Tuesday (9/13) with a downtown party to salute the 80th birthday of George Jones. We began at Rippy’s on Broadway in an upstairs dining room packed with reporters, photographers and videographers. The Possum patiently posed and did interviews, one by one.

“You never know when you’re going to pass away or what’s going to happen,” he said philosophically. When I asked him if he had a birthday message for his fans, he added, “I hope everybody lives to be 80 and more.”

Eddy Raven, Jason Michael Carroll, The McClymonts, Richard Young of The Kentucky Headhunters, Whitey Shafer, Ken Mellons, Billy Yates, Guy Penrod, Guy Gilchrist (who draws/authors the Nancy cartoon and writes country songs), Keith Bilbrey, Jimmy Carter, Randy Matthews of The Nashville Music Guide, Doak Turner, Rob Simbeck, Beth Gwinn and more well wishers crowded around the legend.

“You have been much on my mind this week,” I told attendee Travis Tritt. “And you, mine,” he replied. You see, we were together at his house in rural Georgia on 9/11/01. I was there with a CMT crew when the world stopped turning.

The vittles were – what else? – barbecue and fried chicken, plus raw veggies, tortilla chips and (huh?) chocolate cupcakes. Meanwhile, hundreds of fans jammed the main dining room, eager for a glimpse or a snapshot of George.

The birthday celebration continued at the Ryman during the Tuesday night Opry (9/13). It featured Alan Jackson, Joe Diffie, The Oak Ridge Boys, Lee Ann Womack and Jamey Johnson. But we had other fish to fry.

The Opry cheers George Jones' 8oth. (L-R): Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, Eric Lee Beddingfield, George Jones, Joe Diffie, William Lee Golden, and Richard Sterban

Leadership Music Alumni Reunion

Actually, there wasn’t a fish in sight at the Noah Liff Opera Center (9/13). Truth to tell, the schmoozing was so intense at the Leadership Music Annual Alumni Reunion there that I never got near the food table.

Everyone from Chuck Aly to Rolf Zwiep attended. Forgive me for this blur of bold type, but the massive crowd included such notable LM grads as Bill Lloyd, Bill Ivey, Billy Lynn, Peter McCann, Peter Collins, Tom Collins, Tom English, Dave Pomeroy, David Bennett, David Corlew, Ed Theis, Ed Salamon, Eddie DeGarmo, Charles Dorris, John Dorris, John Lomax III, John Beiter, Jonathan Yudkin, Jimmy Gilmer, Jim Photoglo, J. Fred Knobloch (in golf togs), Fred Vail and such other two-syllable stars as Ralph Peer, Ron Cox and Jay Frank.

The triple monikered Ree Guyer Buchanan, Melanie Smith Howard, Denise Stiff Sheehan, Hank Adam Locklin and Brenna Davenport-Leigh mingled with Tamara Saviano, Stacy Widelitz, Sheri Warnke, Deb Varallo, Garth Fundis, Kathleen O’Brien and Kira Florita (who was on her home turf since she’s now the opera’s development director). Bobby Rymer, Bo Thomas, Dale Bobo, Butch Baker, Sherrill Blackmon, Gene Kennedy and Caroline Davis worked the room, too. We congratulated the folks wearing red ribbons, since they represented this year’s LM class.

Meanwhile, Fabulous Superlative Kenny Vaughan was showcasing his new solo CD at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop (9/13). And The Dirt Drifters were celebrating theirs at 3rd & Lindsley (9/13). Are the plates still spinning?

NATD Honors

On Wednesday afternoon (9/14) The Recording Academy held a reception at its office to kick-off its Grammy U program. Singer-songwriter Dave Barnes was the attraction there.

That evening (9/14) at the historic Hermitage Hotel downtown the inaugural NATD Honors banquet was staged. The gala’s genial host Colt Ford described himself as “the best lookin’ 300-pound country singer in the whole wide world.”

Rod Essig called honoree Mayor Karl Dean, “The Music Mayor,” citing such initiatives as Musicians Corner in Centennial Park, the Live on the Green concert series, the Music City Convention Center, the expansion of the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Music City Music Council, Nashville Rising, the National Folk Festival and the fact that Dean is the first mayor to go through Leadership Music. Coming up: a new Nashville amphitheater and the announcement at the Ryman on Friday of a major music-education program in the Nashville school system.

“The music industry is No. 1, because it is the one industry that brings to the city, every day, creative people,” said Dean, “and that is what makes great cities great.”

“One of the things we could do is play more Colt Ford on the radio,” suggested Ford.

The Nashville Association of Talent Directors (NATD) staged its first College of Knowledge program at Murray State in Kentucky this year. On hand were the school’s Sarah Clark and $2,500 NATD scholarship recipient Hannah Rodgers, now an intern on Music Row at The Bazel Group.

Steve Lassiter spoke of honoree Jim Gosnell’s commitment to Nashville. Thanks to his support, the APA office here has expanded from 6 to 17 staffers, from 10 to 40 clients and quadrupled its business. Danny Robinson recalled his 30-year history with Gosnell.

Comedian Lewis Black’s remarks are mostly unprintable. “I’m in this business 40 years and I have NEVER heard somebody call themselves a ‘talent director,’” he barked. “This fake organization! You’re all hired extras!” he added in his trademark, sputtering, on-the-verge-of-a-heart-attack delivery style.

“Now I have a glimpse of what my funeral is going to look like,” said Gosnell. “I accept this on behalf of everyone at APA.”

Pete Weber saluted Barry Trotz. The Nashville Predators honcho becomes the first in the NHL to coach the first 1,000 games in a team’s history. He also led the Preds to the second round of the playoffs last season.

“I’m very blessed that you would honor me to be part of your community,” Trotz said.

Mike Campbell told a funny Tony Conway story involving TNN, the Illinois State Fair, Ricky Van Shelton, a lucky belt and a wayward helicopter. Joe Guercio presented Conway with the Col. Tom Parker Award.

“This award is special to me because I knew Col. Parker, and we were buddies,” said Conway.

Greg Fowler said, “25 years with Alabama was, and still is, the greatest time of my life.” The group’s award was for, “four decades of musical success and timeless philanthropy.”

In accepting, Randy Owen told us that he is a cancer survivor. “We are going on the road for 15 or 20 shows next year, so come see us,” said Jeff Cook. “I’m not too good at looking back,” added Teddy Gentry. “We’re looking forward, so send us some songs.”

The capacity crowd included Kevin Neal, Neal Spielberg, Jeff & Terri Walker, Crystal Gayle & Bill Gatsimos, Moore & Moore, Bernard Porter, Preshus Tomes, Rod Harris, Robert Frye and Fletcher Foster, plus such NATD board members as president Steve Tolman and Bonnie Sugarman, Jeff DeBusk, Josh DeBusk, Ed Bazel, Randi Perkins, Mike Smardak and Philip Lyon.

You wouldn’t think it would take three hours to hand out five awards, but it did. One consolation was the tasty menu. Glen Leven Salad, followed by beef tenderloin au poivre demi glace with buttermilk potato puree, roasted broccolini and garlic comfit with fresh fruit tart or coconut dessert cake prepared to perfection by the elegant, on-site restaurant The Capitol Grille. Don’t be too impressed: There was a card on the table with helpful foodie lingo on it.

Weekly Chart Report (9/16/11)

Blair Garner’s (L) “After MidNite Live” summer concert series will take listeners backstage to Brad Paisley’s H2O II: Wetter & Wilder World Tour this weekend at the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre in Tampa, FL. The series gives listeners a behind-the-scenes account of what happens on the road with a superstar country concert. Special guests include Blake Shelton (pictured with Garner), Jerrod Niemann, JaneDear Girls, Sunny Sweeney and Edens Edge.

It’s a perpetual party at the top of MusicRow’s CountryBreakout Chart, so it only makes sense that George Strait’s “Here For A Good Time” get to spend a little time at No. 1. This week the King’s latest single is blessed with an additional 175 spins and moves up from No. 2, staying ahead of Blake Shelton’s “God Gave Me You” which jumps up from No. 6. Right behind at No. 3 is Thompson Square’s “I Got You” and Eli Young Band’s “Crazy Girl” at No. 4.

New singles from young stars dot the chart’s Top 40, comprising many of the hottest upcoming tunes. Miranda Lambert’s “Baggage Claim” has already climbed to No. 11 in its seven week journey, faster than her previous releases. Lady Antebellum’s domination continues with “We Owned The Night,” up to No. 18 in its fifth week charting. That other hot new trio–The Band Perry–is two spots behind at No. 20 with “All Your Life” after only seven weeks. Also quickly rising are Eric Church’s “Drink In My Hand” at No. 21 (five weeks), Jason Aldean’s “Tattoos On This Town” at No. 28 (four weeks), Luke Bryan’s “I Don’t Want This Night To End” at No. 33 (three weeks), and Zac Brown Band’s “Keep Me In Mind” at No. 36 (two weeks).

Eric Lee Beddingfield (R) recently spent some time with WSM-AM host Bill Cody (L) to promote his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. He performed his debut hit “The Gospel According to Jones” on the hallowed stage for George Jones’ 80th birthday celebration.

Indie-label new face Andy Gibson notches a big debut at No. 64 with “Wanna Make You Love Me” (R&J Records), thanks to a 150-spin gain. Montgomery Gentry and Phil Vassar might have major label pedigrees, but they’re both now working outside that world on smaller labels. MG’s “Where I Come From” is currently at No. 24, with Vassar’s “Let’s Get Together” right behind at No. 25. Sneaking in the Top 30 is the iconic Dolly Parton’s “Together You and I” (Dolly Records), followed by newcomer Rachel Holder’s “Chocolate” at No. 31 and Burns & Poe’s “Second Chance” at No. 32.

Frozen Playlists: KYKX, WBYZ, WCJW, WDHR, WKWS

Upcoming Singles
September 19
The Lost Trailers/Underdog/Stokes Tunes/CO5
JaneDear Girls/Merry Go Round/Warner Bros./WMN
Bill Gentry/This Letter/Tenacity
Courtney Stewart/Telling You/Lamon

September 26
Coy Taylor/Fall For You/Twang City/Flying Island Ent.
Bobby Dean/White Lightning or Pink Champagne/Lamon
Crystal Shawanda/Love Enough/Sun/Nine North
Kip Moore/Somethin’ ‘Bout A Truck/MCA

• • • • • •

New On The Chart—Debuting This Week
Artist/song/label — chart pos.
Andy Gibson/Wanna Make You Love Me/R&J Records — 64
The O’Donnells/She Leaves The Light On/Song Valley Music — 73
Chris Cagle/Got My Country On/Bigger Picture — 75
David Wood/Ride The Wild West (Cowabunga)/DeW Note Records — 76
Ronnie Milsap/If You Don’t Want Me To (The Freeze)/Bigger Picture — 77
Joel Warren & Jason Allen/Straight Up Country/Wynnesong — 80

Greatest Spin Increase
Artist/song/label — spin+
Zac Brown Band/Keep Me In Mind/Southern Ground/Atlantic — 428
Luke Bryan/I Don’t Want This Night To End/Capitol — 390
Lady Antebellum/We Owned The Night/Capitol — 389
Eric Church/Drink In My Hand/EMI Nashville — 293
Jason Aldean/Tattoos On This Town/Broken Bow — 282

Most Added
Artist/song/label — New Adds
Zac Brown Band/Keep Me In Mind/Southern Ground/Atlantic — 22
Luke Bryan/I Don’t Want This Night To End/Capitol — 19
Sunny Sweeney/Drink Myself Single/Republic Nashville — 15
Jason Aldean/Tattoos On This Town/Broken Bow — 14
Chris Young/You/RCA Nashville — 13
Andy Gibson/Wanna Make You Love Me/R&J Records — 12
David Wood/Ride The Wild West (Cowabunga)/DeW Note Records — 9
Scotty McCreery/The Trouble With Girls/19 Ent./Mercury — 9

On Deck—Soon To Be Charting
Artist/song/label — spins
Scotty McCreery/The Trouble With Girls/19 Ent./Mercury — 183
Jimmy White/Forever And A Day/Tone Box Records — 152
Randy Travis/Everything and All/Warner Brothers — 152
Sunny Sweeney/Drink Myself Single/Republic Nashville — 149
Kevin Fowler/That Girl/Average Joe’s — 144

Cold River Records artist Katie Armiger meets up with WRNS/Greenville/New Bern, NC Program Director, Tommy Garrett and his wife Vicki backstage at Katie’s show in Winterville, NC this weekend. (L-R): Cold River SE Rep Halie Hampton, Tommy Garrett, Armiger, Vicki Garrett

Warner Music Nashville’s Brett Eldredge (“It Ain’t Gotta Be Love”) recently opened for Little Big Town at WKLB’s charity show at the Hard Rock Boston benefiting The Floating Children's Hospital. (L-R) Eldredge, LBT's Jimi Westbrook & Kimberly Schlapman, Ginny Rogers (MD WKLB), Mike Brophey (PD WKLB), LBT's Karen Fairchild, and Philip Sweet

Bobby Karl Works The Room

Chapter 373—Part 1

The party circuit is on warp speed this week.

In just the first three days of it, there were multiple schmoozefests to attend on the same day, often at the same time. This party boy sometimes felt like he was juggling multiple plates on sticks. Filled with hors d’oeuvres.

Ten Out of Tenn Launch Party

“I am the TOT Mom,” explained Kristen Dabbs when Clay Bradley introduced us at BMI (9/12). “This is our seventh tour and our fourth album.”

The BMI party was to launch this year’s edition of “Ten Out of Tenn,” the compilation CD and its accompanying fall tour, which starts this week. Each year, Nashville’s pop/alternative community pulls together to show just how fabulous our non-country music makers are. They not only share the TOT Vol. 4 CD, but also a bus.

After the first successful compilation, Kristin approached BMI about hosting its annual TOT kick-off celebration, which the organization has been doing for the past three years in a row.

This year’s TOT participants are Katie Herzig, Matthew Perryman-Jones, Gabe Dixon, Tyler James, k.s. Rhodes, Andrew Belle, Trent Dabbs, Amy Stroup, Butterfly Boucher and Jeremy Lister. Most of this collective attended the soiree.

“These are the most unique, valuable songwriters in our community,” said Clay in welcoming the crowd. This year’s tour will hit 16 cities with sensational TOT sounds.

“Everyone at BMI has been amazing in supporting this whole concept,” said Trent. “There’s so much happening – so many people are moving here. Tell all your friends [who live] in the cities that we’re playing.”

Trent introduced Gabe, who recently splendidly showcased his new One Spark CD at the newly expanded and renovated 3rd & Lindsley (9/4). Gabe followed that with a performance of the CD’s “Running on Fumes” on Jimmy Kimmel Live (9/8), which is the same song he did at BMI. The participants all sang and played percussion behind him, then gathered at the front of the stage to form a circle around Trent for an unplugged moment.

Amy was next, followed by k.s. Rhodes, whose ebullient “Where I Come From” fully captures the spirit and camaraderie of Ten Out of Tenn. Last week (9/8), k.s. performed with The Nashville Symphony, by the way.

Susan Myers, Suzanne Alexander, Jon Randall Stewart, David Wykoff, Dan Keene, Heather Byrd, Luke Laird and more were digging the sounds and sampling the roast beef mini sandwiches, quiche slices, fruits, cheeses and beverages.

The Ten Out of Tenn tour runs through Oct. 1 with dates all across the eastern U.S. The group's latest album, aptly titled Volume 4, is available on iTunes. Pictured (L-R): BMI’s Clay Bradley and Ten out of Tenn’s Trent Dabbs, Jeremy Lister, Andrew Belle, K.S. Rhoads, Amy Stroup, Tyler James and Gabe Dixon. Photo: Drew Maynard


City National Grand Opening

The party bar has officially just been raised. The opening of the Music Row office of City National Bank (9/12) was among the most flashy and opulent of celebrations. After touring the office, we entered a massive white tent on the blocked-off South Street. Inside, it was like an igloo Casbah. White couches, white carpet, white flowers, white chandeliers, white cloth, white tables, white, white, white. Palm trees stood in the corners.

Bartenders were serving “CNBtini’s,” a specially concocted blue martini. Wait staff circulated, bearing trays of sushi, bacon-wrapped asparagus, mushroom tarts, cheeseburger sliders and other assorted canapes. Las Paletas frozen treats of various flavors were also served.

In one corner was a green screen where you could have your photo taken with a Times Square, tumbling dollar bills or CNB logo digital backdrop. Before you departed, they handed you the finished snapshot in a leather CNB frame.

I am told that event planner Jayne Bubis put the bash together. Well done, Jayne.

Lori Badgett shushed the schmoozing fabulons to introduce celebrity impersonator Pete Peterkin. He came out wailing as Little Richard, then had the crowd clapping and laughing as he “did” Elvis, Tom Jones, Tina Turner, Neil Diamond, Chuck Berry (complete with duck walk), Jerry Lee Lewis, James Brown and Michael Jackson. “I taught them all!” he brayed. “Shut up!” It was quite entertaining.

Tim DuBois, Joe Galante, Dwight Wiles & Diana Johnson, Ed Hardy, Becky Harris, Bob Doyle, Kerry O’Neil, Susan Stewart, Chuck Flood, Pete Fisher, Harry Chapman, Beverly Keel, Dan Hill, Jayne Rogovin, Jon Freeman, Karen Oertley, Barry Coburn, Sherod Robertson, Allen Brown, Sarah Brosmer, Mary Ann McCready, John Lytle, Sally Williams and Mike Vaden were in the throng.

The office, itself, at 54 Music Sq. E., gleamed with modern décor. Posters of the Hollywood films that CNB has financed were placed throughout the space. This is, after all, the bank of everyone from Jack Benny to Marilyn Monroe. CNB loaned Lucille Ball the moolah to buy out Desi Arnez and become the first female head of a major studio, Desilu. CNB provided the big cash for Frank Sinatra to pay off the kidnappers of his son. We are talking loaded and show-biz connected up the wazoo.

And now the CNB largess extends to Music City. At the party, the bank made a $15,000 donation to Jonah Rabinowitz for the W.O. Smith Community Music School.

Let the record show that Holly Bell, who heads the new Nashville division, chose the smaller office and gave the bigger ones to Diane Pearson and Lori Badgett.

“We’re very proud and excited to be here,” said Lori. It showed, believe me.

To mark the grand opening, City National Bank presented a check for $15,000 to Nashville’s W. O. Smith Music School. Pictured (L-R): Jonah Rabinowitz, WO Smith executive director; Holly Bell, SVP/team leader, CNB; Martha Henderson, EVP Entertainment, CNB; Russell Goldsmith, CEO, CNB; Ed Hardy WO Smith board president; and Tony Conway, WO Smith board.


Connie Smith Wraps Residency

Zipping on down to the Country Music Hall of Fame, we caught the finale of Connie Smith’s three-concert Artist-in-Residence shows at the Ford Theatre (9/12). So did Ricky Skaggs, The Whites, Dallas Frazier, Marty Stuart, Hunter Kelly, Craig Havighurst, Steve Betts and David McCormick. Bill Denny and Barry Mazur had perfect attendance records, having witnessed all three shows.

Her theme of the eve was “Connie and the Girls.” She welcomed mentor Jean Shepard and disciples The Quebe Sisters Band, Tanya Tucker and Martina McBride. “I stole everything from you,” Tanya told Connie. “Well, not everything, because you’ve still got it.” And how.

Connie closed with “Take My Hand,” featuring daughters Jodi Seyfried, Jeanne Haynes and Julie Barnick. She encored with a hand-clapping “Satisfied.”

Many of the attendees, by the way, were also at the BMI party last week (9/8) celebrating the release of Connie’s awesome Long Line of Heartaches CD.

Onward. The festivities continued on Tuesday (9/13) with a downtown party to salute the 80th birthday of George Jones.

Read Pt. 2 of Bobby Karl Works the Room tomorrow exclusively on

Connie Smith with two featured performers, Martina McBride and Jean Shepard, before her final Artist-in-Residency show Monday night (9/12) at the Country Music Hall of Fame ® and Museum. Pictured (L-R): Martina McBride, Connie Smith, Jean Shepard and Museum Senior Vice President of Public Relations Liz Thiels. Photo: Donn Jones

Wade Mainer Dies At Age 104

Wade Mainer, photo by Flint Journal

America’s oldest country star has died at age 104.

Wade Mainer died Monday, September 12, at his home in Flint Township, Michigan. As a member of Mainer’s Mountaineers, he recorded “Maple on the Hill” in 1935. It became one of the most massive country hits of the Great Depression.

“Take Me in the Lifeboat” was another popular Mainer number from this era. The group is regarded as one that paved the way for the development of bluegrass music. Mainer invented a two-finger style of five-string banjo playing that was widely influential.

He was the subject of Dick Spottswood’s 2010 book Banjo on the Mountain: The First 100 Years of Wade Mainer.

Wade Mainer was born April 21, 1907 in the mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. He formed his band with his fiddling brother J.E. (Joseph Emmett) Mainer (1898-1971). After rising to fame on WBT radio in Charlotte, the group recorded prolifically for RCA’s Bluebird Records label in 1935-39. He also recorded as a duo with Zeke Morris during the same time period.

He formed Wade Mainer & The Sons of the Mountaineers and continued recording for Bluebird in the 1940s. This group was responsible for his other major hit, 1939’s “Sparking Brown Eyes.” The Stanley Brothers later re-recorded several of the band’s songs.

He was performing at WNOX in Knoxville when he was invited to join the cast of the Grand Ole Opry in 1940. He declined the invitation, because it meant breaking his contract.

Mainer in the 1940s.

Wade Mainer entertained Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt at the White House in 1941. In 1943, Alan Lomax booked him on BBC radio alongside Woody Guthrie, Burl Ives, The Coon Creek Girls and others. He recorded for King Records in 1947 and 1951.

When honky-tonk music swamped old-time string band sounds in the 1950s, Mainer quit music and moved to Flint, Michigan to work for General Motors, 1953-1972.

As a born-again Christian, he began performing and recording again in the 1970s, frequently with wife Julia Brown Mainer. Performing as “Hillbilly Lilly,” she was also a North Carolina country radio entertainment veteran. During this “second” career, he recorded LPs for Old Homestead Records, June Appal Records and other labels, and the couple toured on the folk and bluegrass festival circuits.

Wade Mainer staged his debut on the Grand Ole Opry in 1995. In 1997, he and Julia were featured guests at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. President Reagan conferred a National Heritage Fellowship on him on that occasion.

He was the grand marshal and Heritage Award honoree at Uncle Dave Macon Days in Murfreesboro in 2002, when he again appeared on the Opry.

His annual birthday celebrations in Michigan have become big news in recent years. He was considered to be the last survivor of country music’s “golden age,” the days of Jimmie Rodgers, The Carter Family and Uncle Dave Macon.


CCMA Wins With Canadian Hospitality And Talent

At the Industry Award brunch husband/wife duo Pear elicited a standing ovation, using dueling fiddles to create an avante garde musical mash-up of The Beatles' “Eleanor Rigby” and Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.”

The Canadian Country Music Association presented its 34th annual week of events (9/9-9/12), culminating in its nationally televised Awards show on Mon., Sept. 12. (Click here for awards winners.) This year’s location was Hamilton, Ontario, about a one hour drive south from Toronto. The organization’s passionate membership—artists and industry—gathered to celebrate their musical triumphs, network profusely, discover some new sounds, and oh yeah, do some dedicated partying.

“This is the first of four award ceremonies during this week,” said Don Green, the CCMA’s new Executive Director at Saturday morning’s Industry Award brunch. “We’ve upgraded the staging, sound and lights this year and hope you enjoy the difference.” In fact, the staging rivaled a TV Award show set with detailed lighting and sound. Green announced that CCMA has over 1600 members and about 47% of them participated in the award voting this year.

The brunch was hosted by Canadian stars Tara Oram and Aaron Pritchett and presented about 15 industry awards to labels, managers, retailers, radio and more. Awards were punctuated with musical performances. Standouts included Jason Blaine and husband/wife duo Pear. Pear elicited a standing ovation after using dueling fiddles to create an avante garde musical mash-up of The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” and Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.”

Marlee Scott (center) showcased with Sony Canada.

Later that afternoon many of the country artists performed at FanFest on the Jackson Square rooftop plaza for Hamilton’s country fans. The city used the opportunity to schedule two additional events—a Supercrawl and Locke Street Festival. As a result, over 40,000 people came downtown to enjoy the activities, music and beautiful sunshine-packed afternoon.

The four-day gathering was busting with seminars, guitar pulls and showcases. Nashville songplugger Sherrill Blackman and Ole’s Chad Richardson helmed one titled, “Song Spotting: Tips & Tricks for Placement & Plugging.”

Ole's "Hitsville" team. (L-R) Front: Arthur Buenahora, Gilles Godard, Chad Richardson; Back: Denny Carr, Chris Taylor, Robert Ott, Cadence Grace, Michael McCarty

“Hitsville” was another of the many panel offerings for attendees. Created and staffed by Ole Music, this hardcore, reality-TV-ready game show invited songwriters to submit a song. Based upon repeated listens, the judges would decide if it should reach first, second or third base and finally home plate where a publishing contract awaited. Nashville-based Gilles Godard and Arthur Buenahora anchored the third base judging and ole CEO Robert Ott and President Michael McCarty waited at home plate to make the call—“safe” or “out.”

Saturday evening featured parties and various showcases, but one of the highlights for this writer turned out to be a last minute pairing with Premiere Networks VP Promotions and Integrated Marketing Rick Murray, AristoMedia Chairman Jeff Walker and After Midnight’s Blair Garner. We settled in at a local neighborhood Lebanese eatery. Despite the uneven service, the food was tasty and the conversation downright hot. Discussions covered social networking, industry sales solutions, radio airplay, music discovery and how to solve a variety of industry problems. (Too bad I didn’t have a tape recorder handy for that session…)

Sunday morning featured a warm Canadian style breakfast (bacon, scrambled eggs, toast, sausage) for all the delegates, followed by a 2 1/2 hr. roundtable merry-go-round. Panelist groups rotated among the 10 delegate-packed circles every 15 minutes. Among those helping out were Ralph Murphy, Larry Wayne Clark, your Humble Scribe, Victoria Banks and Jeff Walker.

Futurist Jay Frank gave the Keynote Address.

Sunday’s big event was the Gala Awards Dinner (see winners here). Canadian superstar Johnny Reid was honored with the Humanitarian Award. A moving video montage showed some of the artist’s charitable activities. Reid, who was present with new manager Jim Morey, said, “It’s been an enriching experience to work with so many organizations over the years. The word ‘humanitarian’ is a complex word. We hear it all the time. But it’s not just the big concept, it’s also the small things we all do to help others one day at a time. I’m so grateful to be able to do music every day, but I realize that without the love and support of those around me and my fans I’d never find myself here tonight. So I’d like to dedicate this to everyone that offers a ‘wee bit of love to those that need it the most…”

The awards list also included Hall of Fame inductions for Michelle Wright and Bill Langstroth. Longtime Wright manager Brian Ferriman inducted Michelle. “I first heard Michelle 26 years ago at Gladstone Tavern here in Hamilton,” said Ferriman, also a Hall of Fame member.

Performances of note included The Band Perry, a Michelle Wright tribute with Terri Clark, Victoria Banks and Katie Love Hess, and a spellbinding new song from Carolyn Dawn Johnson. Backstage CDJ and I reminisced about getting stranded in Calagary ten years ago at CCMA in the aftermath of 9/11. Together with Scott Siman and Mike Kraski we drove in a van over the border to Cut Bank, Montana where we got picked up by Tim McGraw’s jet and thankfully flown home. I remember Kraski kissing the ground in Nashville after getting off the plane. We were all so happy to get home and be with loved ones during that terrible time.

(L-R) Katie Love Hess, Hall of Fame inductee Michelle Wright, manager Brian Ferriman, Victoria Banks and Terri Clark.

Monday morning’s big draw was the hard hitting Keynote address featuring Nashville futurist Jay Frank and his recent book, Futurehit.DNA. “You must grab the listener within 7 seconds or your chances for success drop exponentially,” Frank warned. “Don’t construct your songs as you would have 10 years ago. Every single play online starts at zero seconds.” Frank noted that country music fans now listen to multiple formats so they are all competition. “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus,” he joked. Frank also argued that all outlets need to be aggressively pursued. “Revenue streams will be greatly fragmented. Record companies are looking more like the publishing business every day. Administrators must be ready to collect small amounts from many sources to be in the new record biz.” Frank also advised new artists, “Radio has abdicated the responsibility of breaking songs to the Internet. Therefore, artists should build a story elsewhere before going to radio.”

Other Nashvillians seen and heard in Hamilton were songwriters Bob Regan and Marty Dodson who performed at the CCMA Great Guitar Pull, Byron Hill who produces hit Canadian artist Gord Bamford, SESAC’s Tim Fink, TBP manager Bob Doyle, Award show performers Luke Bryan plus Ronnie Dunn with manager Clarence Spalding, and Capitol label head Mike Dungan.

If you’ve already attended CCMA, then you know how the hospitality, passion and talent translates into a great experience. If not, next year’s CCMA event will take place in Saskatoon, Sept. 6-9, 2012. Participate! For more information visit All photos by Grant Martin except where noted.

CCMA artists performed on the Jackson Square rooftop plaza for Hamilton’s country fans on Saturday afternoon at FanFest. Photo: David Ross

Photo Spread: Connie Smith, Alan Jackson, Pink Trash Ball

Connie Smith Releases Long Line of Heartaches
Connie Smith celebrated the release of her album Long Line of Heartaches with friends and members of the industry at an intimate reception hosted by BMI on Thurs., Sept. 8. Smith and her band performed a short set of songs from the Sugar Hill Records release which is already being praised by critics. Her performance included “A Heart Like You,” the first song written by Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee Dallas Frazier in 30 years, and his 69th composition recorded by the singer.

Pictured (L-R): BMI’s Clay Bradley, Dallas Frazier, Connie Smith, Marty Stuart, Sugar Hill Records’ Cliff O’Sullivan, and Gaylord Entertainment’s Steve Buchanan. Photo: Rick Diamond

Women Rock’s Pink Trash Ball
Women Rock For The Cure™ (WRFTC) brought the PINK heat to Music City with a pink-themed soiree on Aug. 20 at Aerial. The evening featured a DJ, dancing, the crowning of the King & Queen and the delicious WRFTC pink cocktails. Over $1500 was raised to benefit the ongoing efforts of Women Rock For The Cure™ to help support breast cancer research and community outreach programs, including its upcoming Young Survivors Retreat (Sept. 23-25). See more Pink Trash Ball pics here.

Photo by Sara Lee

Jackson Commemorates 9/11
Alan Jackson performed “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” immediately preceding President Obama’s public address on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 during A Concert for Hope. The event was held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC as the capstone event of a three-day commemoration. See performance video at bottom.

Photo: Donovan Marks/courtesy of Washington National Cathedral



DISClaimer Single Reviews (9/14/11)

Country music has returned.

With Sunny Sweeney, Merle Haggard and newcomer Glenn Kearney leading the charge, this listening session was packed with hard-core sounds. There’s not a pop platter in the stack.

A lot of this week’s tunes are ballads, but some of these sounds can really rock your world.  Definitely turn it up when you put on Sunny, Kyle Park or our Disc of the Day winner, MCA’s Kip Moore. I was a huge fan of Kip’s “Mary Was the Marrying Kind,” and “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck” delivers on that initial promise in spades.

Honky-tonk balladeer Kearney competes with Canada’s Ashley Robertson, New Orleans newcomer Josh Charles and Sea Gayle/Arista’s Brent Anderson for this week’s DisCovery Award. Inventive songsmith Brent gets the nod.

KYLE PARK/Make Or Break Me
Writer: Kyle Park/Ryan Beaver; Producer: Kyle Park; Publisher: Walk in the Park/St. Beaver, BMI; Winning Road (track) (
—Produced with plenty of oomph—crashing guitars, thudding percussion, slippery steel and admirable energy. The driving, melodic country rocker has a splendid undertow beneath his boyish tenor delivery. Listenable in the extreme.

SUNNY SWEENEY/Drink Myself Single
Writer: Monty Holmes/Sunny Sweeney; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Funky Merle/EMI April/Ash Street/Richardson Zuleger/Bluewater/Big Music Machine/Three Minute Movie/Super 98, ASCAP/BMI; Republic Nashville (track)
—It’s a gutsy, gal honky-tonker loaded with drawling attitude. The steel-soaked track stirs up a ruckus while she serves notice that she’s going on a tear. It’s enough to make you believe in real country music all over again. Grade: A-plus.

Writer: Tommy Barnes; Producer: Steve Tveit; Publisher: Glenn Kearney, BMI; GK (
—His aching baritone is as warm as a campfire on this weeper ballad. Classic sounding.

Writer: none listed; Producer: Frank Rogers; Publisher: none listed; Sea Gayle/Arista (track)
—I like his soft, lightly rasping vocal delivery on this yearning salute to the Pure Prairie League 1975 hit “Amie.” The group’s alumni Craig Fuller and Vince Gill provide the vocal harmonies.

JOSH CHARLES/Life Ain’t Fair
Writer: Josh Charles/Milton L. Brown; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Downhome (
—This downbeat, hard-luck-in-hard-times lament is performed at a languid, resigned pace that underscores its message of defeat. Definitely a song for today.

Writer: Josh Thompson/Phil O’Donnell/Chris Wallin; Producer: Phil O’Donnell; Publisher: none listed, BMI/ASCAP; Columbia (CDX)
—The lyric’s message is the more things change, the more they stay the same. Josh’s plain-spoken delivery is set to a deliberate, shuffling tempo underscored by sighing, keening electric guitar work. At first listen, it seems a mite dull, but I have a feeling it could grow on me.

KIP MOORE/Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck
Writer: Kip Moore/Dan Couch; Producer: Brett James; Publisher: Music of Stage Three/Songs of Comman/Roll Through/BMG Chrysalis/Songs From the Couch, BMI; MCA Nashville (CDX)
—This former DisCovery Award winner has a cool, blue-collar-rocker vibe that gets more and more intense as this thumper progresses. I dig everything about this—the way it’s written, the way he wails it, the insistent percussion, the instrumental fade, everything.

FREDDY POWERS & MERLE HAGGARD/Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn
Writer: Freddy Powers; Producer: Merle Haggard, Freddy Powers & Lou Bradley; Publisher: Air Fred, BMI; Hag (CDX) (
—Powers is a veteran country-jazz fusion man who has always been cooler than the breeze. He and Hag swap lines with warmth, camaraderie and gentle swingability here, while his guitar filligrees embellish the the track beautifully. The sound of two masters at work.

Writer: Ashley Robertson; Producer: Ashley Robertson; Publisher: none listed, SOCAN; AR (Canada) (
—Minor key, melodically repetitive and faintly Celtic sounding. Utterly unprogramable.

Writer: Sean Patrick McGraw/Ann Chappell/Jason Jones; Producer: Sean Patrick McGraw; Publisher: none listed, ASCAP; Little Engine (track) (
—This longtime Music Row fave is back with a shuddering ballad of heartbreak and regret. The song is so tuneful and ultra hooky that if his version doesn’t strike paydirt, somebody else should cover it pronto. A super effort.

Arrangements For Hit Songwriter Don Wayne

Don Wayne

[Updated 9/14]

Visitation will be 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. today (9/13) at Harpeth Hills Funeral Home, 9090 Hwy. 100, Nashville, TN (615) 646-9292.

A life celebration will be held 2:30 p.m. Thursday (9/14) at Harpeth Hills Funeral Home with burial to follow at Harpeth Hills Memory Gardens.

Sign the online guestbook.


Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Don Wayne has died at age 78.

Mark Ford of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) states that the famed composer of such hits as “Country Bumpkin” and “Saginaw, Michigan” passed away last night, Sept. 12.

The songwriter was born Donald William Choate on May 30, 1933. He was a Nashville native. As a boy, he enjoyed listening to Grand Ole Opry stars such as Ernest Tubb and Eddy Arnold on the family’s radio. His early career was as a tool and die maker.

In 1953, Wayne had his first major-label cut as a songwriter when George Morgan recorded his “Lonesome Waltz” for Columbia. The songwriter was also a recording artist, himself. He recorded for Look Records and released several albums on his own in later years.

Don Wayne signed with Tree Publishing in 1963. The following year, Lefty Frizzell took his “Saginaw, Michigan” to the top of the country charts. Wayne went through a somewhat fallow spell as a songwriter, then bounced back with “Country Bumpkin” in 1974. As recorded by Cal Smith, the tune earned Song and/or Single of the Year honors from the CMA, ACM and NSAI.

Other notable Don Wayne copyrights include “The Belles of Southern Bell” (Del Reeves, 1965), “It’s Time to Pay the Fiddler” (Cal Smith, 1975), “What In Her World Did I Do” (Eddy Arnold, 1979), “If Teardrops Were Silver” (Jean Shepard, 1966), “She Talked a Lot About Texas” (Cal Smith, 1975), “Nashville” (David Houston, 1971), “The Marriage Bit” (Lefty Frizzell, 1968) and “Hank” (Hank Williams Jr., 1973).

Wayne’s “Walk Tall,” a 1965 top-10 hit for Faron Young, later became an underground rock favorite via recordings by Stiff Little Fingers and The Popes. Val Doonican made it a huge hit in Great Britain.

Don Wayne’s songs were also recorded by Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, Connie Smith, The Osborne Brothers, Jerry Garcia, Tanya Tucker, Tex Ritter, Jack Barlow, Jim & Jesse, Sheb Wooley, Hank Thompson, Ernest Tubb, Doug Kershaw, Tommy Cash, The Wilburn Brothers, Hank Snow, Burl Ives, George Jones, Bobby Bare, The Browns and Dick Curless, among many others.

Don Wayne was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1978.

He had been hospitalized for some time and was moved to home hospice about a week ago. At press time, no funeral arrangements had been announced.

Wayne was one of the songwriters who performed at last year’s inaugural event at the Woods at Fontanel. Proceeds from Songwriters Sing for Nashville went to flood relief. Seated (L-R): Fontanel co-owners Marc Oswald and Dale Morris; Standing (L-R): Hugh Prestwood, Roger Murrah, Mike Reid, Dickey Lee, Mark D. Sanders, Don Wayne, Jim Weatherly, Dallas Frazier, Dennis Morgan, Kye Fleming.


Wayne was part of the 1978 class of the Nashville Songwriters Association Hall of Fame. Pictured (L-R): Joe Allison, Danny Dill, Don Wayne, Zeke Clements, Curly Putman, Cindy Walker (center), Don Robertson, Marijohn Wilkin, John Loudermilk, Hank Snow, Harlan Howard, Boudleaux Bryant, Jack Clement, standing in for Tom T. Hall - Mrs. Hall.