Nashville News and Notes for FRIDAY

Randy Travis Eager To Return To Work


Randy Travis continues to make progress in his recovery from a stroke.  The country star's father, Harold Traywick, tells "Closer Weekly" his son is "getting his voice back now, little by little."  An unnamed insider adds that the singer is "anxious to get back to work and connect with his fans," and he's even started discussing plans to promote the album "Influences Vol. 1: The Man I Am," which arrived in stores last fall.  The source adds that Randy is determined to return to the life he led prior to the stroke, and has said he'll do "whatever it takes to regain" what he's lost.  The insider also says Travis' doctors are "extremely pleased" with how his recovery is going.


Travis suffered the stroke in July, just a few days after being hospitalized for a heart condition.  He remained hospitalized for nearly a month before he was transfered to a physical therapy center.  There haven't been any official updates on his condition since he left the center in October.  However, current photographs of the singer surfaced online last month.


Garth Brooks Performs On Jay Leno's Final "Tonight Show"


Garth Brooks has a place in "Tonight Show" history.  The country superstar was the last musical guest on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."  But before he sang, Garth paid tribute to the show's longtime host.


Garth played two songs on the show.  He performed "The Dance" before closing out the finale with his classic, "Friends in Low Places."  Billy Crystal was the night's only other scheduled guest, while Oprah Winfrey, Kim Kardashian, Sheryl Crow, and Carol Burnett were among the stars who made surprise appearances.  The show wrapped up Leno's 22-year run as "The Tonight Show" host.  Jimmy Fallon will take over as "Tonight Show" host on February 17th.


Keith Urban, Brad Paisley Featured On Beatles Concert Special


Keith Urban says being involved in this weekend's concert special honoring The Beatles was "a once in a lifetime opportunity."  The country star tells "Access Hollywood" it wasn't just special to perform on the show, but to be there and see surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr perform.  Urban teams up with John Mayer to perform the "White Album" track "Don't Let Me Down" during the concert.  Brad Paisley also takes part in the event. says he was paired with hip-hop star Pharrell Williams for a collaborative cover of "Here Comes The Sun."  In addition, The Civil Wars' John Paul White makes an appearance as a presenter.


The show's lengthy lineup also boasts Maroon 5, Ed Sheeran, Stevie Wonder, Katy Perry, and others -- including surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, who close the show.  After playing separate sets they team up on "With A Little Help From My Friends," then lead everyone in a finale of "Hey Jude."  "The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Tribute To The Beatles," commemorating the 50th anniversary of The Beatles first appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show," will air on CBS this Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.


Garth Brooks Sells Out Two More "Comeback Special" Shows


Garth Brooks has sold out not one but two more dates in Ireland.  The country superstar announced this week that he was adding a fourth show to his "Garth Brooks Comeback Special Event" this summer.  Following Thursday's quick sell-out of that concert, the singer tacked on a fifth night.  Tickets became available immediately, and have also sold out.  Brooks is the first artist ever to play a five-night run of sold out shows at the 80-thousand-seat venue.  "The Garth Brooks Comeback Special Event" will take place at Dublin's Croke Park from July 25th through the 29th.


Craig Morgan Launching "The Journey Tour"


Craig Morgan is back on the road.  The country star is kicking off "The Journey Tour" with a show in Jacksonville, Florida Friday night.  Morgan is touring in support of his latest album, "The Journey (Livin' Hits)."  The singer will perform material from the disc along with hits and fan favorites including "Bonfire," "Redneck Yacht Club," "That's What I Love About Sunday," and "International Harvester."   Select shows will feature former Halfway To Hazard member Chad Warrix as the opener.


Morgan's tour also includes a benefit event.  He'll be performing at the 1st annual Billy's Place 5K in Dickson, Tennessee on March 23rd.  Money raised will help fund Billy's Place, a Craig Morgan Foundation project to assist foster children throughout Middle Tennessee.


Craig Morgan's "The Journey Tour" Dates


February 7 - Jacksonville, Florida, at Mavericks

February 8 - Bradenton, Florida, at the Joyland Nightclub IV

February 9 - Apopka, Florida, at the Apopka Amphitheater

February 12 - Jackson, Mississippi, at the Mississippi Coliseum

February 13 - Mobile, Alabama, at the Saenger Theater

February 14 - Terrell, Texas. at the Silver Saloon

February 15 - Ledbetter, Texas, at the Chicken Ranch Dance Hall

February 28 - Minneapolis, Minnesota, at Mill City Nights

March 6 - Sioux Falls, South Dakota, at The District

March 7 - Deadwood, South Dakota, at the Deadwood Mountain Grand Event Center

March 8 - Vernal, Utah, at Western Park

March 15 - Sayreville, New Jersey, at the Starland Ballroom

March 16 - Meadville, Pennsylvania, at Allegheny College

March 20 - Columbus, Ohio, at Live at the Bluestone

March 21 - Indianapolis, Indiana, at the 8 Seconds Saloon

March 22 - Ft. Wayne, Indiana, at the Rusty Spur

March 23 - Dickson, Tennessee, at Montgomery Bell State Park

April 3 - Spokane, Washington, at the Knitting Factory

April 4 - Boise, Idaho, at the Knitting Factory

April 5 - Reno, Nevada, at the Knitting Factory

April 8 - San Diego, California, at the House of Blues

April 10 - Hollywood, California, at the House of Blues

April 11 - Anaheim, California, at the House of Blues

April 12 - Florence, Arizona, at Country Thunder

April 25 - Hankinson, North Dakota, at the Dakota Magic Casino

April 26 - Walker, Minnesota, at the Northern Lights Casino


Gretchen Wilson To Perform At SeaWorld This Weekend


Gretchen Wilson is one of the stars who isn't scrapping her scheduled appearance at SeaWorld.  "The Orlando Sentinel" says the country singer is Saturday's performer for the park's "Bands, Brew, & BBQ" concert series.  Meanwhile, "Blue Collar" comedian Bill Engvall is slated to appear at SeaWorld on Sunday.  Wilson and Engvall are following Alan Jackson and Kid Rock, who met their SeaWorld commitments last weekend.


A number of other artists who had been scheduled to take part in the concert series cancelled their shows.  Willie Nelson, Trisha Yearwood, Trace Adkins, and Martina McBride are among the country stars who dropped out of the SeaWorld event over the movie "Blackfish" and an internet campaign to stop their shows.


Eric Paslay Describes His Perfect Friday Night


Country singer Eric Paslay says the perfect Friday night needs the four F's -- food, friends, fun, and funds.


Eric adds that his ideal Friday night includes cruising in a vintage muscle car, going dancing, and getting a great burger.  Musically speaking, Paslay's fans think the singer makes a good "Friday Night" -- the track has topped the Mediabase/Country Aircheck chart.  While Eric has several chart-topping hits to his credit as a songwriter, "Friday Night" is his first number one as a performer.  The song is on Eric's self-titled debut album, which arrived in stores this week.


Frankie Ballard Enjoyed Making New Album


Frankie Ballard says he really appreciates the creative freedom he had in making his new album, "Sunshine & Whiskey."  The country star explains that he worked on the material with producer Marshall Altman at Altman's Nashville studio.


Ballard adds that he and Altman were really open to one another's ideas.  He explains that there were "no bad suggestions," but they would try "anything and everything under the sun" to make each song something they were "passionate about."  "Sunshine & Whiskey" is Ballard's follow up to his 2011 self-titled debut disc.  The new album, which features Frankie's hit single "Helluva Life," will be in stores next Tuesday.


Sara Evans Typically Has Low-Key Birthday Celebrations


Sara Evans admits she usually doesn't do anything big for her birthday.  The country singer adds that since her move to Birmingham, Alabama, her birthday gatherings have become a shared event.


But Sara admits a few years ago she did "blow it out" for her birthday.  She says when she turned 40 her family threw her "a huge, awesome" party that "was incredible."  Sara's 43rd birthday was this past Wednesday.


Kimberly Williams-Paisley Joins "Two And A Half Men" Cast


Kimberly Williams-Paisley is finding life after "Nashville." says the actress will be featured in upcoming episodes of CBS' "Two And A Half Men."  She'll play Gretchen, a new love interest for Jon Cryer's character.  So far, she's slated to appear in two episodes of "Two and a Half Men," the first of which will air on March 6th. 


Williams-Paisley, who's married to country star Brad Paisley, recently ended her run on the ABC drama "Nashville."  Her character, Peggy Kenter, was shot and killed in an attempt on her husband Teddy's life.


Country TV Today And Tonight


TOP 20 COUNTRY COUNTDOWN (GAC) Katie Armiger co-hosts this week's rundown of the most popular country music videos.


Country Birthdays Include


Garth Brooks is 52.


Today In Country Music History


Today in 1953, Marty Robbins joined the Grand Ole Opry.


Today in 1975, the "Pieces Of The Sky" album by Emmylou Harris was released.


Today in 1976, Eddie Rabbitt's first single "Drinkin' My Baby (Off My Mind) charted.


Today in 1981, John Conlee became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.


Today in 1989, Hank Williams Jr.'s "Greatest Hits 3" album was released.


Today in 1994, the single "Indian Outlaw" by Tim McGraw was released.


Today in 1995, Shania Twain's album, "The Woman In Me," was released.  On this day a year later, the album was certified for sales of five-million copies.


Today in 1997, Brooks and Dunn topped "Radio & Records'" country chart with "A Man This Lonely."


Today in 2001, Dale Evans, wife of Roy Rogers, passed away.


Today in 2001, Jamie O'Neal scored her first number one single with "There Is No Arizona."  When the track topped "Billboard's" Hot Country Songs chart, it marked the first time since Deana Carter's 1996 single "Strawberry Wine" that a female country artist hit the top of the charts with their debut single.  Aside from Deana, the only other female country artists to do the same during the '90s were Trisha Yearwood in 1991 with "She's In Love With The Boy," and Faith Hill in 1993 with "Wild One."


Today in 2001, the autographed Double Diamond Award Electric Guitar from Shania Twain's 1999 world tour was sold for over three-thousand-dollars in a charity auction for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.  The event, which was held by a Washington D.C. area radio station, raised more than one-million-dollars for the facility.


Today in 2002, Alan Jackson's album "Drive" cruised into its third week at number one on the "Billboard" 200 chart and the "Billboard" Top Country Albums list after selling nearly 200-thousand copies in the U.S.


Today in 2002, Jeff Carson suffered several broken vertebra in his upper back following a sledding accident near his home in Nashville. Fortunately, he didn't require surgery to repair the damage and within weeks, Jeff was back in action. 


Today in 2004, Lonestar's Keech Rainwater left the single life behind when he proposed to his girlfriend, Elissa Lansdell, on the eve of the Grammy Awards.  Keech popped the question to Lansdell, a co-host and writer for CMT Central on CMT Canada, during a romantic dinner.  The couple soon announced plans to marry the following September 25th in Toronto.


Today in 2005, Toby Keith, Sawyer Brown and Josh Gracin all participated in the Krewe of Orpheus Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans.


Today in 2005, Kenny Chesney's "Be As You Are: Songs From an Old Blue Chair" topped the country album chart for the second week in a row.


Today in 2006, In their first TV interview together, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill visited "Oprah" and debuted a new duet, "I Need You."


Today in 2006, Garth Brooks joined former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman and New York Yankees slugger Jason Giambi for the opening of The Zone, a state-of-the-art therapy and play area at the Kravis Children's Hospital at New York's Mount Sinai Medical Center.  Garth's Teammates for Kids Foundation was a major contributor to the project.


Today in 2006, Garth Brooks' "The Lost Sessions," which had previously only been available as part of "The Limited Series" box set, was released via Wal-Mart as a stand-alone disc.  Other new releases included Tim McGraw's "Greatest Hits Vol. 2: Reflected," the reissue of Trisha Yearwood's "Jasper County," Marty Stuart's CD "Live at the Ryman," and Gretchen Wilson's DVD "Undressed".


Today in 2007, Keith Urban sued Keith Urban.  The second Mr. Urban has a New Jersey-based website through which he sells his art.  The singer said the other Keith Urban was giving the false impression that the artwork was his.


Today in 2007, Lee Ann Womack was named spokesperson for Cheerios cereal's "Circle of Helping Hearts" campaign. The goal was to raise 500-thousand-dollars for WomenHeart organization.


Today in 2010, Carrie Underwood sang the national anthem at Super Bowl 44 in Miami.


Today in 2010, Kenny Chesney performed at a special Super Bowl victory party for the New Orleans Saints at the InterContinental Miami Hotel in Miami.


Today in 2010, Dailey & Vincent took four awards at Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America's Bluegrass Awards, which took place in Nashville.


Today in 2011, Dailey & Vincent were the big winner at the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America's 37th annual Bluegrass Music Awards, capturing five categories collectively along with individual recognition.  Tom T. Hall, The Grascals, and Rhonda Vincent also earned awards.


Today in 2012, new releases included Dierks Bentley's "Home" and an expanded edition of "Meet Glen Campbell."


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