Nashville News and Notes for FRIDAY

Willie Nelson Making Birthday Bash A West, Texas Benefit Concert


Willie Nelson is making plans to support the community he calls his "backyard" with a show at The Backyard.  Nelson was born and raised in Abbott, Texas -- less than ten miles away from the small community of West, where a massive fertilizer plant explosion claimed several lives Wednesday night.  The country legend was already scheduled to perform at The Backyard in Austin, Texas on April 28th at a show that was slated to be a big bash for his birthday two days later.  But Willie tells "CMT Hot 20 Countdown" that in light of the West tragedy, he and his band have "decided to start a benefit there and let other people join in."  Nelson adds that he'll be giving the money he makes from the show to the West Volunteer Fire Department.  He says the other participants won't be obligated to make a similar donation, but they certainly "can do so."


Additional performers and other details on the benefit haven't been announced yet, but will be posted at  His website also has information on how to help out with Red Cross donations of money, blood, food, and other goods.


Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley Reflect On Concert Security, Boston Bombing


Kenny Chesney admits that the Boston Marathon bombing makes him consider the safety of his own shows.  The country star, who'll be performing in Las Vegas Friday and Saturday night, says he takes similar steps to protect his fans that authorities did to safeguard the race.


Brad Paisley, who'll be launching his "Beat This Summer" tour next month, says he's amazed that people commit such heinous acts against one another, and calls attacks like the marathon bombing "cowardly."  But the country singer is also confident that those behind Monday's blasts will be caught.


George Jones Hospitalized; Postpones Weekend Shows


George Jones is in the hospital.  A post on his website says the 81-year-old Country Music Hall of Famer was admitted to a Nashville-area facility on Thursday following a routine checkup.  Jones' blood pressure was irregular and he had a fever, which was why doctors sent him to the hospital for observation.  The country legend's health has been an ongoing issue.  Last spring he spent a few months in and out of the hospital battling a persistent respiratory infection.  Jones' latest hospitalization has forced him to postpone scheduled shows this weekend.  The Possum is spending this year on his farewell tour, and was slated to perform in Atlanta, Georgia on Friday and in Salem, Virginia on Saturday.  Jones intends to reschedule those shows.  He's expected to resume his "Grand Tour" with a concert in Huntsville, Alabama on April 27th.


Carrie Underwood Speaking Out Against "Ag Gag" Bill


Carrie Underwood is making a political stand.  The country star isn't happy about the passage of the so-called "Ag Gag" bill in Tennessee, and she's not staying quiet about it.  Carrie tweets, "Shame on TN lawmakers for passing the Ag Gag bill."  She also warns Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam that if he signs the legislation, he "needs to expect" her "at his front door."  The singer seeks some support as well, adding, "Who's with me?"  If passed, the Tennessee bill would require would-be whistle blowers to report animal abuse and hand over any photographic evidence or video footage supporting their claims within 48 hours of the incident.  Supporters of the bill say it will help end the abuse of livestock on farms, but those who are against it say it prevents those trying to protect the animals from establishing and documenting patterns of ongoing abuse.


Taylor Swift, Emerson Drive Nominated For Junos


Taylor Swift and Emerson Drive are getting some north of the border recognition.  The country stars are among the nominees for the 2013 Juno Awards, Canada's equivalent to the Grammys.  Taylor's CD "Red" is part of a diverse mix of hopefuls for International Album of the Year.  Her competition includes Mumford And Sons' Grammy winner "Babel," Rod Stewart's holiday album "Merry Christmas, Baby," Maroon 5's "Overexposed," and One Direction's "Up All Night."


Meanwhile, Emerson Drive's latest studio effort, "Roll," is in the running for Country Album of the Year.  While the Canadian band's the disc was released in the U.S. earlier this year, the album hit stores in their homeland last fall.  Country-pop star k.d. lang will be honored at the event as well.  She's been tapped for induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.  Pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen is the top nominee heading into the event, with five chances to win.  The 2013 Juno Awards will be presented in a ceremony in Regina, Saskatchewan on Sunday.


Select nominees for the 2013 Juno Awards follow:



Maroon 5, "Overexposed"

Mumford & Sons, "Babel"

One Direction, "Up All Night"

Rod Stewart, "Merry Christmas, Baby"

Taylor Swift, "Red"



Chad Brownlee, "Love Me Or Leave Me"

Dallas Smith, "Jumped Right In"

Dean Brody, "Dirt"

Emerson Drive, "Roll"

Johnny Reid, "Fire It Up"



k.d. Lang


Tate Stevens Surprised By Excitement Surrounding Hometown Shows


New country star Tate Stevens has a couple of special shows on the horizon.  The Belton, Missouri native will be playing his first concerts in his hometown since winning on "The X Factor" last winter.  Tate admits the ticket demand has taken him by surprise.  He says he knew there were people who wanted to see his performance, but he didn't realize just how many when he booked the date.


Stevens says he's added production elements to his show in an effort to give his hometown crowd a memorable performance.  He adds that he also intends to really impress his audience, and prove that his fans didn't make a mistake in supporting him on "The X Factor."  Stevens will take the stage at The Midland by ACM in Kansas City, Missouri this Sunday and Monday night.  On Tuesday, Tate's self-titled debut album, featuring the single "Power of a Love Song," will arrive in stores.


Video Birthday Wishes Coming In For Willie Nelson


The well-wishes are pouring in as Willie Nelson's 80th birthday approaches.  The country legend is receiving video messages from a host of celebrities -- including fictional ones.  SpongeBob SquarePants, with some help from actor Tom Kenny and music producer Andy Paley, has put a new spin on the Nelson classic "Crazy" for the occasion.


Many other stars, including Vince Gill, Carlos Santana, and Pearl Jam's Mike McCready, have posted birthday messages as well.  And you don't have to be famous to participate in this party.  Details on how to submit a video to the Willie Nelson 80th birthday celebration are posted on Nelson's website.  Willie will turn 80 on April 30th.


Kellie Pickler's "Dancing" Partner Encouraging Her To Try Broadway


Kellie Pickler admits she's never had any aspirations to become a dancer.  The country singer, who's become one of the top contenders on this season of "Dancing With the Stars," tells CMT Radio she was living her dream before she ever stepped foot on the ballroom floor.  She says she "grew up wanting to do what Dolly Parton does and what Loretta Lynn does," and that her "number one passion and goal in life" was to "be part of the country music family, live in Nashville, tour and write songs."  But Pickler says her "Dancing" partner Derek Hough is encouraging her to pursue dancing further, and is telling her she needs to "do Broadway."  However, right now Kellie's more focused on getting through next week's routine.  She and Derek will be dancing the quickstep to a Stevie Wonder song on the next "Dancing With the Stars," which will air on ABC Monday night.


Eric Church Preps Special Release For Record Store Day


Eric Church is among the stars offering up something special for Record Store Day.  The country singer is issuing a two-disc, 21-track vinyl edition of his new concert album, "Caught In The Act: Live," in honor of the occasion.  In addition to the four extra tracks, the exclusive release is packaged with a bonus seven-inch, two-track single.  Church says he's chosen this format to support Record Store Day because he "grew up on vinyl records," and it's what he "still listens to."  Eric adds that he's also done something to make the seven-inch disc unique.  He says he took some "Chief whiskey" and "poured it into the batch" during the pressing process, so the records are "gonna have the look of Chief whiskey."  Record Store Day, which celebrates the independently owned record store, is this Saturday.


Tyler Farr Taps Country Friends, "Duck Dynasty" Star For Video


Country newcomer Tyler Farr has a few famous friends joining him in the video for his latest single, "Redneck Crazy."  The guest stars include "Duck Dynasty's" Willie Robertson, whom Tyler thinks was a perfect match for the clip.


Farr shot the clip in the swamps of West Monroe, Louisiana.  The video also features Tyler's country music buddies Lee Brice and Colt Ford.


Tyler's clip is the second country music video in recent weeks to feature the "Duck Dynasty" star.  Darius Rucker also tapped WIllie, along with Willie's wife Korie, their daughter Sadie, and "Duck Dynasty's" Jase and Si for the video to his single "Wagon Wheel."


Country TV Today And Tonight


TOP 20 COUNTRY COUNTDOWN (GAC) Keith Urban and Vince Gill's "We're All For The Hall" concert is featured, along with the week's top country music videos.


Today In Country Music History


Today in 1924, "National Barn Dance" premiered on WLS radio in Chicago.  Later, the famous program would be renamed "The National Barn Dance" and became the first country music jamboree on radio.


Today in 1975, Emmylou Harris debuted on the charts with "Too Far Gone."


Today in 1980, for the first time in chart history, women held the top five positions on the "Billboard" country listing.  The artists were Crystal Gayle, Dottie West, Debby Boone, Emmylou Harris and Tammy Wynette -- with George Jones.


Today in 1988, the "Strait Country" album by George Strait was certified Gold.


Today in 1990, Lorrie Morgan's album "Leave The Light On" and Ronnie Milsap's album "Lost in the Fifties" were certified Gold.


Today in 1991, Travis Tritt scored his first number one hit, "Drift Off to Dream."


Today in 1993, the "Slow Dancing With The Moon" album by Dolly Parton was certified Gold.


Today in 2000, Clay Davidson appeared on CNN's "On The Shelf" segment.


Today in 2000, the British paper "The Weekly News" reported that Shania was responsible for helping a 14-year-old boy come out of a coma.  In October 1999, the child was struck by a car and left comatose.  A few weeks into the boy's treatment, his family brought him a personal stereo and a copy of Shania's "Come On Over" album.  Reportedly, every time the hospital staff switched off the CD for any reason, there were immediate changes in his vital signs, and he slowly started to come out of his coma.  By late December, the boy was speaking.


Today in 2003, Brad Paisley's video "Celebrity" made its debut on CMT.


Today in 2005, Buddy Jewell was among the recipients of the 2005 Fatherhood Award, presented by the National Fatherhood Initiative.  The award recognizes individuals, organizations, and corporations that work to promote involved, responsible, and committed fathers.  Honorees were recognized at a reception and dinner in Washington, DC.


Today in 2005, Tim McGraw made a pretaped appearance on USA's "Nashville Star," while Sara Evans once again served as a substitute host for LeAnn Rimes, who was recovering from a throat ailment.


Today in 2005, Jerry Reed's album "Live! Still" arrived in stores.


Today in 2006, Big & Rich's Big Kenny Alphin took part in the week-long NBC series "Celebrity Cooking Showdown," offering up a crab appetizer followed by a main course of seared kobe-style beef and fried cookies and cream for dessert.  Judges praised him for his presentation and his culinary skills, but weren't as impressed with his dessert, and he didn't earn enough points to move on in the competition.


Today in 2007, Josh Turner launched his summer tour with his headlining debut at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium.


Today in 2007, Keith Urban launched his Love, Pain and the whole crazy World Tour in Munich, Germany.


Today in 2007, Dierks Bentley joined "Today" personality Al Roker at Nashville's W.O. Smith school to donate several truckloads of instruments and other supplies to the school's music program.  During the presentation Bentley also performed his hit "Free and Easy Down the Road I Go" with a choir of 20 students from the school.


Today in 2008, Dierks Bentley was the headliner at Country Thunder USA in Florence, Arizona.  Other performers for the 15th annual event included Bentley's tour mates Luke Bryan and Bucky Covington, as well as Sugarland, Kellie Pickler, Joe Nichols, Phil Vassar, Neal McCoy, Pat Green, and Heartland.


Today in 2008, the movie "An American Carol," featuring Trace Adkins, has its debut at the Nashville Film Festival.


Today in 2008, Emerson Drive sang the national anthem at the ARCA RE/MAX racing series Prairie Meadows 250 in Newton, Iowa.


Today in 2009, Marty Stuart, Josh Turner, Cowboy Jack Clement, CeCe Winans, record executive Mike Curb, and the late music publisher Dr. Richard Henry Boyd were added to Nashville's Music City Walk of Fame.


Today in 2010, Brooks & Dunn were honored for earning the Academy of Country Music's Milestone Award with an all-star concert salute in Las Vegas.  Reba McEntire, Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, and Carrie Underwood were among the performers.  The duo earned the award, which recognized them for their lengthy and successful career, at the annual ACM Awards a night earlier.


Today in 2010, The Oak Ridge Boys received the SGMS President's Honor at the Southern Gospel Music Guild's Harmony Honors event in Nashville.


Today in 2010, Jeff Bates and his wife, Kelly, celebrated the birth of their first child, Brianna Nadine Bates, in Nashville.


Today in 2011, Toby Keith left on his 9th annual USO Tour after performing on "Dancing With the Stars."


Today in 2011, new releases included Ralph Stanley's "A Mother's Prayer."


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