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Carole King Coming To Bluebird

(L-R): Carole King, Gary Burr, Georgia Middleman, Jim Photoglo

Carole King is scheduled for an upcoming performance at the Bluebird Cafe. The acclaimed singer-songwriter will join revered Nashville tunesmiths Gary Burr, Georgia Middleman and Jim Photoglo at the benefit for Alive Hospice.

The concert on Mon., Jan. 2 will kick off the Alive at The Bluebird concert series, a fundraiser for Alive Hospice. Showtime is 9 p.m.

Tickets are $100 and go on sale tomorrow morning (12/13) at 8 a.m. at www.bluebirdcafe.com.

Nashvillians Honored As Top Women In Music

Mary Ann McCready

Several Nashville execs appear on the new Billboard Women in Music list. Included in the 40 slots are Mary Ann McCready of Flood, Bumstead, McCready & McCarth; Kelly Rich of Big Machine Label Group; Ellen Bligh Truley of SESAC, and Nashville native Marcie Allen of MAC Presents. Taylor Swift was named Woman of the Year, the youngest superstar to ever receive the honor. The women were celebrated recently at an event in New York City.

The Women in Music list is selected by Billboard editors based on achievements in the last 12 months from a pool of nominees sent in by readers.

• As President of business management firm Flood, Bumstead, McCready & McCarthy, Mary Ann McCready represents some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment. FBMM’s roster includes Keith Urban, Pearl Jam, Kings of Leon, Rascal Flatts, Lady Antebellum, and Blake Shelton. As a community leader, McCready helped found the Music City Music Council with Mayor Karl Dean and is a trustee of the Country Music Hall of Fame and an active supporter of MusiCares and the W.O. Smith Music School.

Kelly Rich

• Kelly Rich is VP of Sales, Marketing and Interactive at Big Machine Label Group. She and her team helped propel Taylor Swift’s Speak Now to more than 3.7 million in sales, and led success by The Band Perry (platinum album and triple platinum single) and Rascal Flatts (platinum album). She also handles social media and led the relaunch of BigMachineRecords.com with a sponsorship of the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Ellen Truley

• Ellen Truley has been with SESAC for 15 years and currently serves as VP of Corporate Relations, overseeing marketing and sponsorship initiatives for the PRO. This ranges from the SESAC magazine and e-newsletter, to the organization’s multiple awards ceremonies. Her team also handles digital initiatives and SESAC EDU for high school and college music programs.

Marcie Allen

• At her company MAC Presents, Marcie Allen pairs brands and artists. Among her recent success stories are Keith Urban and Samsung Infuse, who teamed to host private dinners for fans on his tour. She also paired BlackBerry and the Foo Fighters, and Windows Phone 7 with Katy Perry and Maroon 5.

 

DISClaimer Single Reviews (12/7/11)

Nashville’s country scene seems eerily quiet these days, but the city’s pop/rock community is making plenty of noise.

I have made no secret of my affection for the music of Mat Kearney. Once again, he did not disappoint. He would have totally owned the Disc of the Day award had it not been for the Grammy nominated Keb Mo. Both men’s music belong in your life, so they’re sharing the prize this week.

Gabe Dixon has been making music in The Gabe Dixon Band for a solid decade and three albums worth. Now he’s a solo artist and a Nashvillian, so I don’t care how long he’s been around: He deserves a DisCovery Award for reinventing himself.

STEPHEN SIMMONS/Spark
Writer: Stephen Simmons; Producer: Stephen Simmons; Publisher: Shiny Geode, SESAC; Locke Creek (track) (www.stephensimmonsmusic.com)
—This CD, The Big Show, is the Woodbury, TN native’s sixth album. Its emphasis track is a rootsy country-rocker with a gentle rumble and a plaintive, love-struck vocal. Americana programmers take note.

KYLE ANDREWS/Lazer Tag With Imaginary Friends
Writer: Kyle Andrews/Greg Burgess; Producer: Kyle Andrews, Chris Grainger & Greg Burgess; Publisher: none listed; Elephant Lady (track) (www.kyleandews.com)
—Kyle Andrews makes electro pop with weird audio squiggles, jumpy beats, goofy noises and frequent tempo shifts. This quirky track comes from his new Robot Learn Love collection. It’s kind of arty and over my head, but there’s no mistaking his talent.

MAT KEARNEY/Hey Mama
Writer: Mat Kearney/Jason Lehning; Producer: Richard Marvin & Jason Lehning; Publisher: EMI Blackwood/Facade Aside/Tastes Like Chicken, BMI; Aware/Universal Republic (track) (www.matkearney.com)
—If there’s any justice at all, Mat Kearney will be the next pop-rocker to break big out of Music City. This hand-clapping single from his Young Love album is so ridiculously catchy and irresistible it ought to have a warning label about possible addiction. It makes you want to skip around the room wearing a silly grin.

STEPHAN DUDASH/Paradise
Writer: Stephan Dudash; Producer: Stephan Dudash & Chris Rhyne ; Publisher: Gypsyquest Muzik, BMI; Gypsyquest (track) (www.stephandudash.com)
—Dudash’s current Gypsy Quest CD contains this utterly lovely violin instrumental that wafts like blossoms in a spring breeze. The rest of the collection draws on Latin, swing, folk, pop and jazz idioms. He has played or toured with a wide variety of talents—Shania Twain, Olivia Newton-John, BadaBing BadaBoom, Janie Fricke and Lee Greenwood among them. This virtuoso can also be heard playing thrilling gypsy jazz with guitarist John Jorgenson’s Quintet. For more audio samples, check out his website.

KEB MO/The Whole Enchilada
Writer: Kevin Moore/John Lewis Parker; Producer: Keb Mo; Publisher: Kebnote/Wixen/Parker’s Pen, BMI; Yolabelle/Ryko (track)
—This Nashvillian is nominated for a Blues Grammy Award for his current CD The Reflection. But although this single from it sounds appropriately laid back and funky, Keb Mo is more than just a “blues” artist. Elsewhere on the collection, you’ll find echoes of pop and folk as well. Whatever the genre, he’s an essential listening experience.

GLOSSARY/A Shoulder To Cry On
Writer: Joey Kneiser; Producer: Glossary & Mikey Allred; Publisher: Lytle Street Kitchen, BMI; Last Chance (track) (www.glossary.us)
Long Live All of Us is the seventh album by this Murfreesboro rock quintet. With its bright horn bursts and neo-soul vibe, this track typifies its rump-shaking new sonic approach. Mighty fine, mighty fine.

GABE DIXON/My Favorite
Writer: Gabe Dixon/Dan Wilson; Producer: Marshall Altman; Publisher: Five R/G and L/Sugar Lake/Chrysalis, BMI/ASCAP; Fantasy/Concord (track) (www.gabedixon.com)
—This guy has it all—a cooly soulful tenor singing voice, outstanding piano chops, a talent for pop tune crafting and propulsive energy. This track from his new One Spark CD is a slab of audio joy from start to finish. This is  definitely the month to become a Gabe fave. He’s WRLT Lightning 100’s “Artist in Residence” throughout December and will be appearing and/or performing at various venues to boost donations to Second Harvest Food Bank and Toys for Tots. He’ll be singing at Whole Foods on Friday (12/9) and at Zumi Sushi next Wednesday (12/14), among several other gigs. If you see/hear him just once, I promise you’ll walk away a fan.

JAY PATTEN/Crystal Nights
Writer: Jay Patten; Producer: Cristos/Ric Lonow & Jay Patten; Publisher: Standard Blue, BMI; Flamingo (track) (www.jaypatten.com)
—Smooth saxophone stylist Jay Patten has been Crystal Gayle’s bandleader for many years, so he dedicates his latest CD to her. Its title tune is a toe-tapping, jazz-inflected instrumental bopper that perfectly captures the horn man’s style. The 13-track collection includes six vocals, one of which is a duet with Crystal on “Memories Are Made of This.”

BARRY WALSH/Marathon Motorworks
Writer: Barry Walsh; Producer: Barry Walsh; Publisher: Barry Walsh, ASCAP; Scarlet Letter (track) (www.barrywalshmusic.com)
—Walsh is the keyboard accompanist and husband to singer-songwriter Gretchen Peters. His mostly instrumental Paradiso CD is performed on concert grand piano. Here, he’s joined by Dobro master Rob Ickes and cellist David Henry. The piano collection never feels predictable, partly because of the variety of his compositions and partly because electric guitar, accordion and synthesizer sounds pop up at various times.

BILL MILLER/Birds Of Prey
Writer: none listed; Producer: Bill Miller & Michael Von Muchow; Publisher: none listed; Cool Springs (track) (www.billmillerarts.com)
—One of our most distinctive musical residents is Native American singer, songwriter and flautist Bill Miller. His Spirit Wind North CD won last year’s Grammy in the Native American category, which was his third such trophy. The category has been discontinued this year. Nevertheless, he’s still an outstanding artist, as illustrated by  the haunting tones of his flute on this gorgeous instrumental embellished with bird calls. The sound of purity.

DISClaimer Single Reviews (11/16/11)

Since this is awards season, let’s chop the DisClaimer honors into categories this week.

Our Vocal Collaboration Award goes to Matt Nathanson & Sugarland. Drop what you’re doing and go out and buy his Modern Love pop CD right now.

Our Female Vocalist Award is a no-brainer. Faith Hill rules. The Male Vocalist Award goes to an artist of a completely darker stripe, the wicked good Greg Garing.

The Vocal Group prize is a toss-up between Sawyer Brown and Stealing Angels, with the gals grabbing the bouquet.

DANIEL WARREN/Brent Creek
Writer: Daniel Warren; Producer: Al Hurschman & Daniel Warren; Publisher: Chaprielle, BMI; Quarterback (www.danielwarrenband.com)
—The track is breezy and wafting with sighing organ and deftly plucked guitars. His song is nicely written, but his voice is quite thin and lacks authority.

JASON CASSIDY/What If
Writer: Cassidy/Stockton/Diggs; Producer: Doug Deforest, Jody Booth & Jason Cassidy; Publisher: none listed; Blake-A (www.jasoncassidymusic.com)
—I have liked this fine country vocalist in the past, and this single is another in a string of solid efforts by him. The ballad is extremely well constructed, and his resonant singing has ache and longing in all the right places. A winner.

FAITH HILL/Come Home
Writer: Ryan Tedder; Producer: Byron Gallimore & Faith Hill; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tunes/Velvet Hammer/Midnight Miracle, ASCAP; Warner Bros.
—Introduced on last week’s CMA Awards telecast, this ballad of lovers separated by war has timely emotional heft. Faith sings it in her upper soprano range, which brings out the pain of loneliness.

THE KENNETH BRIAN BAND/Welcome to Alabama
Writer: Kenneth Brian; Producer: Johnny Sandlin; Publisher: none listed, BMI; Southern Shift (track) (www.kennethbrian.com)
—This bluesy Southern-rock outfit has connections. Its CD features such notable guests as David Hood, Jason Isbell, Bonnie Bramlett, Charlie Hayward and James Pennebaker, not to mention Allman Brothers producer Johnny Sandlin. This title tune is strikingly reminiscent of classic-era Charlie Daniels.

GREG GARING/My Time for Leaving
Writer: Greg Garing; Producer: Todd Perlmutter; Publisher: none listed; L.E.S. (track)
—The greatest of all the neo honky-tonk performers on Lower Broadway is back with a collection titled, simply, Greg Garing. It kicks off with this doom-y, echoey ballad punctuated by squalling saxophone. His singing remains hair raising in its intensity. Spooky, scary and thoroughly hypnotizing.

LAUREN ALAINA/Georgia Peaches
Writer: Mallary Hope/Blair Daly/Rachel Proctor; Producer: Byron Gallimore; Publisher: none listed; Mercury/19 (CDX)
—The American Idol runner-up’s second single is a bright rocker celebrating the fairer sex of the state of Georgia. She gives shout-outs to the state’s Alan Jackson and Jason Aldean along the way. I still say this teen sings better than winner Scotty McCreery does.

STEALING ANGELS/Little Blue Sky
Writer: Caroline Cutbirth/Tayla Lynn/Jennifer Wayne/Keith Follese/Adrienne Follese; Producer: Paul Worley; Publisher: Shaw Enuff/Red Leo/Multisongs/How Bout That Skyline/BMG Chrysalis/Songwriters of Platinum Pen/Little Dutchess/The Family Business/3 In the Key, BMI/ASCAP/SESAC; Skyville (CDX) (615-320-7052)
—I was crazy about this group’s debut single, and this follow-up is just as good. I know it’s confusing with so many female trios out there right now, but this is the one to keep your ears on. Superb melody, heartbeat percussion, stunning production and celestial vocals, this has it all. Stay tuned for the passage where all three voices weave together like an audio tapestry.

SAWYER BROWN/Travelin’ Band
Writer: Mark A. Miller; Producer: Mark A. Miller; Publisher: Travelin’ Zoo, ASCAP; Beach Street (CDX) (615-799-2229)
—Miller reflects nostalgically back on the glory days of his band. Strikingly autobiographical, it specifically mentions having hits like “Some Girls Do” and “Used to Blue,” touring with Kenny Rogers, wearing ‘80s haircuts and identifying various band members by name. Undeniably wistful and quite moving.

DANNY CLICK/I Feel Good Today
Writer: Danny Click; Producer: none listed; Publisher: One Bullet, no performance rights listed; DC (1-800-584-5524)
—He sings in an earnest, sincere tenor. The production is rather dull, and the bopping song with its downbeat lyric is just so-so.

MATT NATHANSON & SUGARLAND/Run
Writer: Matt Nathan/Jennifer Nettles/Kristian Bush; Producer: Kristian Bush, Matt Nathanson, Jennifer Nettles & Mark Weinberg; Publisher: Little Victories/Stage Three/BMG Chrysalis/Jennifer Nettles/Dirkpit, ASCAP/BMI; Vanguard (track) (www.mattnathanson.com)
—I was so smitten with this when they performed it on the CMA show that I bought Matt’s Modern Love sophomore CD just so I could hear it again. It is just as throbbing and sexy and melodic as I remembered it. Maybe even more so. This guy is a major, major talent.

CMA Honors Nominees and Broadcast Awards Winners

(L-R): Moore and Urban, who is nominated for CMA Entertainer and Male Vocalist of the Year.

The 45th Annual CMA Awards is a week away, but the nominees were already celebrating Tuesday night (11/1) at a dinner in their honor at The Pinnacle at Symphony Place in Nashville.

Keith Urban proposed the idea of CMA hosting a private event to honor all of our nominees,” said Steve Moore, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “It was a great idea and an excellent opportunity for our nominees and CMA Broadcast Awards winners to celebrate in a relaxed setting with members of the CMA Board of Directors without the pressure of a live TV broadcast.”

Each nominee was presented with a commemorative trophy.

The 45th Annual CMA Awards, hosted by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, airs live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Wednesday, Nov. 9 (8:00-11:00 PM/ET) on the ABC Television Network.

Class of 2011 (L-R): Teresa Davis/KCLR (CMA Small Market Station of the Year); Kix Brooks (CMA National Broadcast Personality of the Year); Charissa Loethen/KCLR (CMA Small Market Personality of the Year); Dann Huff (CMA Musician of the Year nominee); Trey Fanjoy (CMA Music Video of the Year nominee - Director "Honey Bee"); Scott Hendricks (CMA Album of the Year nominee- Producer All About Tonight); Keith Urban (CMA Entertainer and Male Vocalist of the Year nominee); Jim Shea (CMA Music Video of the Year nominee - Director "Old Alabama"); Clay Cook of Zac Brown Band (CMA CMA Vocal Group, Album, Single, and Musical Event of the Year nominee); Sam Bush (CMA Musician of the Year nominee); David McClister (CMA Music Video of the Year nominee- director "If I Die Young"); Karen Fairchild, Jimi Westbrook, Kimberly Schlapman, and Phillp Sweet of Little Big Town (CMA Vocal Group of the Year nominee); Joe Don Rooney, Gary Levox, and Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts (CMA Vocal Group of the Year nominee).

Songwriters Share Insight

(L-R): John Oates, Matraca Berg, Jim Lauderdale, Angel Snow

Songwriters John Oates, Matraca Berg, Jim Lauderdale and Angel Snow teamed for a panel discussion about their craft at the recent Americana Music Conference, sharing stories about influences, mentors, co-writing and more.

Lauderdale’s humor kept the session rollicking along, minus a minor interruption from his ringing cell phone. “Hold on, it’s Lady Gaga,” he laughed.

With hits by George Strait and the Dixie Chicks, Lauderdale explained that developing songwriting talent is a gradual process. He also shared how some of his best songs are ones that veer a little off the beaten path. “When I think a song sounds like a hit for a particular artist, those don’t get cut,” he noted. “And it’s the other, more unique ones, that get recorded.”

Berg agreed, “The songs I was afraid to play for my publisher Pat Higdon were always the ones he liked the most.”

All four panelists are active artists, and many of them have used the money from their mainstream cuts to help fund their artist careers.

Snow’s first big break came from three recent tracks released by Alison Krauss and Union Station. Panel moderator John Allen of Bug Music noted Krauss’s love of serendipitously finding previously unknown writers such as Snow. The rising writer also discussed her mentor and frequent co-writer Viktor Krauss.

Panelists agreed on the virtues of co-writing. Having another talent in the room is a good sounding board for ideas, can help complete a song, and aid in the editing process. Oates shared that some of his biggest hits have been written with women because they bring a new perspective to the song. Trust and putting egos aside is key to successful co-writing. Panelists likened it to a dance; trying not to step on toes or control the session. And if a writing appointment isn’t going smoothly, Allen noted that it is important to “know when to take your marbles and go home.”

Berg told the story about her most recently successful co-write, “You And Tequila,” written with Deana Carter and currently nominated for CMA Song of the Year. In 2002 Berg was at a memorial service for renowned songwriter Harlan Howard, who had given the younger tunesmith her first shot of tequila. Howard’s children continued the tradition, giving Berg so many tequila shots that night that she still hadn’t fully recovered two days later when Carter showed up to write, resulting in the lyric “You and tequila make me crazy.”

The writers discussed their influences and the importance of publishers in their careers. Philadelphia-bred Oates grew up on the city’s R&B scene. Younger artist Snow joked that she grew up on Jim Lauderdale and Hall and Oates.

Oates was originally hired along with Daryl Hall as a songwriting team at Cameo Records, a Philly label that acted as a local incarnation of New York City’s famed Brill building. With numerous smashes to his credit, Oates explained that writing a hit is no easy task, because on some level it must tap into society’s collective subconscious.

Berg penned her first No. 1 with mentor Bobby Braddock at age 18. She also cited early influence Red Lane, who often made up nursery rhymes for her as a child. Berg elaborated on how Higdon has relentlessly fostered her career over the years. “[The publisher-writer relationship] is a very personal and fragile thing. Pat let me find my own way. He was there with advice, or to critique if I wanted, but was hands off and didn’t force me to write with the latest hit songwriter. He never told me to write for the market.”

From their experiences, these song experts agree that unique, honest writing will continue to win.

For more on Matraca Berg, check out the recent Publisher Special issue of MusicRow magazine, which includes her essay “My Journey to the Core of Country Music.”

DISClaimer Single Reviews (10/19/11)

Look beyond our famous stars like Kings of Leon, Paramore, Sheryl Crow, Ke$ha, Ben Folds, Kim Carnes, Michael McDonald, Steve Cropper, Leon Russell, Donna Summer, Keb’ Mo’ and The Black Keys, and you’ll find that they are just the tip of a very, very large pop/rock iceberg in Music City.

The community is incredibly diverse, so that made choosing award winners especially tough this week. There are two DisCovery Award artists. One, Shane Dwight, comes from the R&B column. The other, Nashville newcomer Parachute, is a straight-ahead rock band.

Similarly, the two Disc of the Day winners come from different genres. Legendary singer-songwriter John Hiatt is a rocker at heart. The McCrary Sisters have a disc that showcases their gospel roots.

TONY BENNETT & FAITH HILL/The Way You Look Tonight
Writer: Jerome Kern/Dorothy Fields; Producer: Phil Ramone & Dae Bennett; Publisher: Universal PolyGram/Shapiro Bernstein/Aldi, ASCAP; Columbia (track)
—I am told that Faith is finally finishing a new album (her last was a Christmas album three years ago). Meanwhile, fans needing a Faith fix will have to make do with her Sunday football tunes and this track from Tony’s Duets II collection. Performed with a light jazz combo and sighing strings, this has a lushly romantic vibe. Tony sounds terrific at 85, and Faith proves to be a solid saloon stylist and harmony vocalist. Other Nashville-oriented folks on this justly celebrated set include Carrie Underwood, Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson.

J.D. SOUTHER/I’ll Be Here At Closing Time
Writer: John David Souther; Producer: Fred Mollin; Publisher: none listed; Entertainment One (track)
—The last outing by this former country-rocker was a surprisingly jazzy affair. On his new Natural History CD, he revisits his distinguished catalog, reworking “Faithless Love,” “New Kid in Town,” “You’re Only Lonely,” “Prisoner of Love,” “Best of My Love” and the like. And, let’s face it, song writing doesn’t come much better than those classics. This finale ballad is a sweet, wistful pledge of devotion sung in an intimate whisper with a gentle, simple piano/guitar accompanying track. It’s as lovely a ballad as he’s ever done, and he reportedly killed with it at a recent showcase at The Basement.

THE FEATURES /Rambo
Writer: Matthew Pelham/The Features; Producer: Brian Carter & The Features; Publisher: Bug/Bughouse/Silent But Violent/This Is Daiglenetics/Ghost Riding, BMI/ASCAP; Bug Music (track) (www.thefeatures.com)
—This durable Nashville rock institution is back with a collection titled Wilderness. Its calling-card single is a rattling, jangling stomper with a passionate, sky-high, lead vocal that rides above super guitar work and a ferocious rhythm track. These four guys can still deliver a mighty big sound.

JACK WHITE/You Know That I Know
Writer: Hank Williams/Jack White; Producer: Jack White III; Publisher: Sony-ATV Acuff-Rose/Third String, BMI; Columbia (track)
—The Lost Notebooks
CD has today’s stars writing melodies and/or finishing lyrics left behind nearly 60 years ago by the late Hank Williams. The restlessly creative Jack White seems to always have a Raconteurs, Third Man or other project in the works. Here, he channels Hank both vocally and instrumentally. I’m serious: He sounds surprisingly like the country icon, and Donnie Heron’s steel guitar tingles just like a Drifting Cowboy should. Other participants on this extraordinary record include Sheryl Crow, Merle Haggard, Lucinda Williams,  Vince Gill & Rodney Crowell, Alan Jackson, Patty Loveless and granddaughter Holly Williams, not to mention Bob Dylan.

PARACHUTE /Something To Believe In
Writer: Will Anderson; Producer: John Fields; Publisher: How It Should Be/Warner Chappell, BMI; Mercury (track)
—This five-piece band has recently moved to Music City from Charlottsville, VA. You say you’re sick of dance-pop, hip-hop, emo and “alternative” anything? Step right up, because these guys are old-school pop-rock with real melodies, throbbing electric guitars and pumping rhythm. This track from its The Way It Was CD has a big, U2-ish sound, multi-voiced choral singing on the choruses and a honking sax to top it off. Catchy and uplifting, to say the least.

DAVID MEAD /Twenty Girls Ago
Writer: Bill DeMain/David Mead; Producer: Brad Jones; Publisher: Tin Panda/Bug/Da Wei Phonetic, ASCAP/BMI; Cheap Lullaby (track)
—Mike Grimes at Grimey’s says this is his very favorite pop song today. That’s a good enough endorsement for me, so I spun it. As a long-time David Mead fan, I expected to be delighted and was. It’s a sweetly melodic ballad sung in his trademark tenor with rippling acoustic guitar, fluttering mandolin, sighing clarinet and tinkling piano backing. Romantic regret is set to a deliciously quirky and complex tune. The description that comes to mind is “chamber pop.” It is on last year’s Almost and Always CD, but it’s never too late to buy any Mead music. I remain a completely smitten fan.

THE McCRARY SISTERS/Give Him My All
Writer: Bob Dylan/Regina McCrary; Producer: Tommy Sims; Publisher: none listed; McC (track)
—Regina McCrary has sung on three Dylan CDs and toured with him as well, hence the unusual songwriting credit. The four sisters front a funk track with stately horn blasts and a bass line that pulses righteously. Alfreda, Ann, Deborah and Regina are arguably Nashville’s greatest soul sisters. Just ask Stevie Wonder, Bobby Jones, Wynonna, Ray Stevens (that’s them on “Everything Is Beautiful”), Buddy Miller, Patty Griffin, Mike Farris or the late Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley, all of whom have recorded with them. The new McCrary CD is titled Our Journey. Buy it the moment it drops next Tuesday.

JOHN HIATT/Damn This Town
Writer: John Hiatt; Producer: Kevin Shirley; Publisher: Warner-Tamerlane/Oral Track Tunes, BMI; New West (track) (www.johnhiatt.com)
—This enduring Music City treasure kicks off his Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns CD with this doom-soaked, bluesy rocker. The track rumbles and cries in deep mystery while he wails to the heavens of trials and tribulations. Absolutely addictive and undeniably great.

TOM HAMBRIDGE/I Keep Things
Writer: Tom Hambridge; Producer: Tom Hambridge; Publisher: Tom Hambridge, ASCAP; Superstar (track) (www.tomhambridge.com)
—Tom produced Buddy Guy’s 2010 Grammy winning blues CD and co-wrote Gretchen Wilson’s “I Got Your Country Right Here” his version of which is included on his new Boom! album. The disc begins with this rollicking rocker, sung with a gutsy, drawling rasp and featuring stinging guitar. Tom is a drummer, so you know the “bottom” of the sound is solid.

SHANE DWIGHT/A Hundred White Lies
Writer: Shane Dwight; Producer: Kevin McKendree & Shane Dwight; Publisher: Robert Vincent Zolezzi, ASCAP; R-Tist (track) (www.shanedwight.com)
—This R&B guitar slinger and songwriter has been a Nashvillian since 2008. The title track of his new CD is a bluesy meditation with a serious stomp attack. The McCrarys moan mournfully in the background while Dwight’s guitar underscores every line of broken-home misery. Cool in the extreme.

ACA Nominations Revealed

Jason Aldean and Zac Brown Band lead the American Country Awards nominations with eight nods each, it was announced this morning [10/13]. The second annual ACAs will air live on FOX from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Mon., Dec. 5 (8:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed), with hosts Trace Adkins and Kristin Chenoweth. Other top nominees include Thompson Square with seven, and The Band Perry and Taylor Swift with six apiece.

The nominees were determined by four media measurement companies: BigChampagne (record sales and media consumption), Great American Country (video airplay), Mediabase (radio airplay), and Pollstar (touring data).

Starting today, fans can vote once each day at www.theacas.com. Voting is open until Friday, Nov. 11 for all categories, except for Artist of the Year, which closes on Friday, Dec. 2.

Performers and presenters will be announced soon.

Artist of the Year: Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, Zac Brown Band

Artist of the Year—Male: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton

Artist of the Year—Female: Sara Evans, Alison Krauss, Miranda Lambert, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood

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

Artist of the Year—Breakthrough Artist: Eric Church, Eli Young Band, Justin Moore, Jake Owen, Chris Young

Artist of the Year—New Artist: The Band Perry, Scotty McCreery, Jerrod Niemann, Pistol Annies, Thompson Square

Album of the Year
Jason Aldean, My Kinda Party
Kenny Chesney, Hemingway’s Whiskey
Brad Paisley, This Is Country Music
Taylor Swift, Speak Now
Keith Urban, Get Closer
Zac Brown Band, You Get What You Give

Single of the Year
Billy Currington, “Let Me Down Easy”
Tim McGraw, “Felt Good On My Lips”
Thompson Square, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not”
Chris Young, “Voices”
Zac Brown Band with Alan Jackson, “As She’s Walking Away”

Single of the Year—Male
Jason Aldean, “My Kinda Party”
Luke Bryan, “Someone Else Calling You Baby”
Billy Currington, “Let Me Down Easy”
Tim McGraw, “Felt Good On My Lips”
Chris Young, “Voices”

Single of the Year—Female
Sara Evans, “A Little Bit Stronger”
Miranda Lambert, “Heart Like Mine”
Reba, “Turn On The Radio”
Taylor Swift, “Mean”
Carrie Underwood, “Mama’s Song”

Single of the Year—Duo or Group
The Band Perry, “You Lie”
Rascal Flatts, “Why Wait”
Sugarland, “Stuck Like Glue”
Thompson Square, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not”
Zac Brown Band, “Colder Weather”

Single of the Year—New Artist
The Band Perry, “You Lie”
Craig Campbell, “Family Man”
The JaneDear Girls, “Wildflower”
Jerrod Niemann, “What Do You Want”
Thompson Square, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not”

Single of the Year—Vocal Collaboration
Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson, “Don’t You Wanna Stay”
Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter, “You and Tequila”
Brad Paisley with Alabama, “Old Alabama”
Zac Brown Band with Jimmy Buffet, “Knee Deep”
Zac Brown Band with Alan Jackson, “As She’s Walking Away”

Touring Headline Act of the Year: Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, George Strait, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban

Music Video of the Year
Sara Evans, “A Little Bit Stronger”
Jerrod Niemann, “What Do You Want”
Blake Shelton, “Who Are you When I’m Not Looking”
Thompson Square, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not”
Josh Turner, “I Wouldn’t Be A Man”

Music Video—Male
Jason Aldean, “My Kinda Party”
Jerrod Niemann, “What Do You Want”
Blake Shelton, “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking”
Josh Turner, “I Wouldn’t Be A Man”
Keith Urban, “Put You In A Song”

Music Video—Female
Sara Evans, “A Little Bit Stronger”
Reba, “Turn On The Radio”
Ashton Shepherd, “Look It Up”
Taylor Swift, “Back To December”
Carrie Underwood, “Mama’s Song”

Music Video—Duo, Group or Collaboration
Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson, “Don’t You Wanna Stay”
The Band Perry, “You Lie”
Lady Antebellum, “Hello World”
Thompson Square, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not”
Zac Brown Band with Alan Jackson, “As She’s Walking Away”

Music Video—New Artist
The Band Perry, “You Lie”
Craig Campbell, “Family Man”
Brett Eldredge, “Raymond”
Jerrod Niemann, “What Do You Want”
Thompson Square, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not”

American Country Awards is executive-produced by Bob Bain (Teen Choice 2011, Kids’ Choice Awards). Fletcher Foster, Paul Flattery and Tisha Fein serve as producers; and Greg Sills is supervising producer. Michael Dempsey will direct the special.

New UMG Artist Builds Team

ASCAP gathered Drake White and his team members recently to celebrate his signing to Universal Music Group Nashville. The songwriter/artist is working with producer Jeremy Stover. He is signed to Vector Management and EMI Music Publishing.

Pictured (L-R): Tom Luteran (EMI), Brian Wright (Universal), Ross Schilling (Vector), Jeremy Stover (producer), Laura Wright (EMI), Drake White, LeAnn Phelan (ASCAP), Ben Vaughn (EMI), Randy Grimmett (ASCAP). Photo: Jessica Draper

Bobby Karl Works IBMA Week

(L-R): Dan Hays, Executive Director, IBMA; Greg Cahill, president, The Foundation for Bluegrass Music; Sam Bush, host of Thursday night’s International Bluegrass Awards Show and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. Photo: Alane Anno

Del McCoury (R) and Jesse McReynolds (L)

Chapter 375

All photos by Alan Mayor

Boy, I sure hope what I witnessed on Tuesday afternoon (9/27) is the beginning of a new IBMA tradition.

Under a cloudless blue sky with temperatures in the balmy 70s, The Del McCoury Band presided over an outdoor concert on the Ryman Plaza. The show was staged to salute the 100th anniversary of the birth of Bill Monroe.

It was a star-dappled event, with several bluegrass celebrities dropping by to pay their respects. It was also a dandy way to publicize and promote the World of Bluegrass conference and Bluegrass Fan Fest now happening in downtown Nashville. The show was free, so lunch-hour downtown workers, music fans and casual passers by could experience the music. Ordinarily, all of the activities are indoors in the Nashville Convention Center.

McCoury with Vince Gill

“Scholars and historians disagree over every other genre and where it began,” said Mayor Karl Dean to the sun-splashed crowd. “We know where bluegrass began. It began right here, in December 1945, at The Ryman Auditorium.” In 2006, a Tennessee state historical marker was erected in front of the venue to commemorate this.

“We can’t have enough live music in Nashville,” Dean continued. “We will do more of this.” I, for one, certainly hope so. Dean’s Music City Music Council supported the free show, as did the Ryman, Metro Nashville Government and 650 AM WSM radio.

The Del McCoury Band opened at noon with a half-hour set of Monroe classics. Then Vince Gill appeared to sing “Rose of Old Kentucky,” and the audience went nuts.

“He had a handle on that tune,” said Del in admiration. “I couldn’t do it.”

Vince and the McCoury band were in perfect harmony on “Crying Holy Unto the Lord.” Before exiting, Vinnie blew a big smooch at the crowd.

Bluegrass Hall of Fame member Jesse McReynolds was next. “Vince Gill is hard to follow, but I followed Dolly Parton the other day, so I guess I can do this,” Jesse quipped. His guest set included an awesome mandolin duel with Ronnie McCoury.

Show performers Dierks Bentley and Sam Bush were chatting at stage left, so I grabbed both for a three-way hug while Jeff White was taking the stage to sing “The Cold Hard Facts.” Dierks, Sam, Tim O’Brien and Larry Stephenson also performed Monroe-saluting guest sets.

McCoury with Sam Bush

The gentle breezes made the weather perfect. The music was beyond perfect. On the edge of the plaza, the Mas Tacos van, the Cupcake Bus and the Grilled Cheeserie bus all had fans lined up for lunches. Spotted in the crowd were Darrell Scott, Harry Chapman, David Scarlett, Dan Hays, Judy McDonough, Steve Lowery, Jim Havey, Pete Fisher and Greg Cahill of Special Consensus.

Del McCoury, by the way, is not only a former member of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys, he is also this year’s Bluegrass Hall of Fame inductee. He had yet another reason for doing the show. Tuesday (9/27) was the digital release date of his Old Memories: The Songs of Bill Monroe tribute album.

This is one of several CDs commemorating the Sept. 13, 1911 birth date of Monroe. First out was Blue Moon of Kentucky: An Instrumental Tribute to Bill Monroe co-starring all-star pickers Mike Scott, Adam Steffey, Bryan Sutton, Tim Stafford, Rob Ickes, Aubrey Haynie, Mike Compton and Ben Isaacs. It’s on Rural Rhythm Records.

Rebel Records has raided its vaults to compile two volumes of folks performing Monroe’s songs. The first is With Body and Soul: A Bluegrass Tribute to Bill Monroe featuring The Seldom Scene, Tony Rice, Peter Rowan, Don Rigsby, IIIrd Tyme Out, The Lonesome River Band and more. The second is Let the Light Shine Down: A Gospel Tribute to Bill Monroe with tracks by The Country Gentlemen, Reno & Smiley, Ralph Stanley, Lost & Found, Dave Evans and others.

Rounder’s entry is Bill Monroe Centennial Celebration: A Classic Bluegrass Tribute. It features vintage tracks by The Grascals, Dailey & Vincent, Claire Lynch, Michael Cleveland, The Nashville Bluegrass Band, The Johnson Mountain Boys, Hazel & Alice, Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top Express, Blue Highway and more.

It won’t be Bill Monroe’s 100th anniversary next year, but I still think the free outdoor show is a splendid idea. First of all, bluegrass is accustomed to being performed outside, usually at one of the 500-some bluegrass festivals that take place each year.

Second of all, it exposes the public to the conference/fest. By the way, this is not the only way to experience the IBMA event for free. Inside the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center, there is lots of common space where people make music constantly. If you’re a night owl, no wristband or badge is required at most of the After Hours showcases in the hotel. Just go up in the elevator and disembark when you get to a floor where you hear music. Also, the Exhibit Hall is open to one and all for free on Wednesday (9/28).

Let’s do this again, next year.

McCoury and band with Dierks Bentley