Nashville News and Notes for FRIDAY

Luke Bryan's Spring Break Crowd Nearly Doubles This Year


Luke Bryan is seeing his audience grow in a big way.  The country star performed his annual Spring Break concerts in Panama City Beach, Florida Tuesday and Wednesday, drawing more than 230-thousand fans to the two shows.  That's nearly double the number of people who turned out for last year's concerts.  At his 2013 Spring Break shows Luke performed for an estimated total of 120-thousand.  Bryan's Spinnaker dates coincided with the release of his new EP, "Spring Break 6...Like We Ain't Ever," which is available now.


Fans who weren't able to attend Luke's Spring Break concerts in person will still get a chance to see some of the action.  Highlights from Wednesday's show will be featured on GAC's "Headline Country" on March 20th, while CMT taped the March 29th episode of "Hot 20 Countdown" at Tuesday's concert.


Eli Young Band, David Nail Log Best Chart Entries, Sales


The Eli Young Band has their first chart-topping album.  The group's latest studio effort, "10,000 Towns," is opening at number one on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart with first week sales of 36-thousand.  That figure also reflects the Eli Young Band's best sales week to date.  Their previous best was with the arrival of their last release, 2011's "Life At Best," which entered the chart at number three with sales of 35-thousand.


David Nail is also marking a career best chart debut and sales week.  His latest set, "I'm A Fire," sold 23-thousand copies to land at number three on the Country Albums list, behind Eric Church's "The Outsiders."  Nail's previous best was with his last album, 2011's "The Sound of a Million Dreams," which opened at number eight with 13-thousand in sales.


Taylor Swift Makes Humorous Appeal For ACM Votes


Taylor Swift is using some humor -- and her cat Meredith -- in an effort to win votes for the upcoming Academy of Country Music Awards.  The new clip features Taylor's label chief Scott Borchetta in his office, calling the singer at home to discuss making an ACM video appeal.  Taylor puts him on hold, saying she's busy with something that's "pretty pressing."  But after a while, Borchetta begins to doubt there's anything "pressing" going on at all.


Viewers then see Meredith's paw swiping Taylor's phone, hanging up on Borchetta.  Other "pressing" issues keeping Taylor from taking Scott's call include doing her nails and advising a friend going through boyfriend troubles.


Taylor in the running for five ACM Awards, including Entertainer and Female Vocalist of the Year.  She's also up for Single Record, Video, and Vocal Event of the Year for "Highway Don't Care," her duet with Tim McGraw featuring Keith Urban.  The 49th annual ACM Awards will be presented in a ceremony in Las Vegas, and air on CBS on April 6th.


Toby Keith Making Australian Concert Debut


Toby Keith fans in Australia are finally getting the chance to see the singer in concert.  The country star is launching his "Hammer Down Under" tour this weekend.  He'll be making his Australian performance debut as he kicks off the five-date trek in Brisbane Friday night.  Toby will also make a headlining appearance at the CMC Rocks the Hunter festival in Hunter Valley and play a show in Sydney before wrapping up the trek with a two-night stand in Melbourne on March 19th and 22nd.


Keith's concerts will feature opening sets from the Eli Young Band and Kellie Pickler -- who'll also be playing her first-ever dates in Australia.  But the Eli Young Band has been in Australia before.  The group traveled "down under" in 2012 as an opener on Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's tour.


Country Stars Playing International Festivals This Weekend


American country stars are scattered across the globe this weekend.  Zac Brown Band, Dierks Bentley, and the Dixie Chicks are on the other side of the Atlantic to launch the Country2Country festival Friday in Dublin.  Martina McBride will be joining them for Saturday's C2C show in London, while Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Chris Young, and The Band Perry close out C2C in Ireland.  They're slated to perform in London on Sunday.


Meanwhile, Craig Campbell and Jim Lauderdale have gone in the opposite direction.  They're among the opening day performers for the CMC Rocks the Hunter festival in Hunter Valley, New South Wales.  Gretchen Wilson is the day two headliner for the Australian concert event, while Thompson Square, Craig Walker, and Love And Theft will also perform.  Toby Keith will wrap up the three-day festival on Sunday, following sets from the Eli Young Band, Kellie Pickler, and others.


Keith Urban, Willie Nelson Closing Out iTunes Festival This Weekend


Keith Urban is among the many stars who'll be at South By Southwest this weekend.  The country star says he and his band are excited to be performing at the event.


Urban is headlining the iTunes Festival's country music night on Saturday.  Willie Nelson is also on board for the show along with country newcomer Mickey Guyton, who just released her debut EP.  Fans who can't be in Austin to see the show in person can watch it live on their iOS devices.  The concert starts at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.  More details are available at


Country Stars Playing Opry House 40th Anniversary Show Saturday


(Nashville, TN)  --  Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, and Clint Black are among the stars who'll be on hand this weekend for the Grand Ole Opry House 40th anniversary celebration.  The country singers will be joining Josh Turner, Diamond Rio, Bill Anderson, and others for the special show Saturday night.  The Grand Ole Opry House, which was specifically built for Opry shows, hosted its first show on March 16th, 1974.  Opening night performers included Roy Acuff and President Richard Nixon -- who was the first president ever to attend an Opry show and is still the only president to perform on Opry.


That first Opry House show included a spontaneous yo-yo lesson, with Acuff attempting to teach Nixon how to use the toy.  To commemorate the moment an "Opry House Yo-Yo-A-Thon" will take place in the Opry Plaza throughout the weekend, and in the process raise money for Hands On Nashville and Habitat For Humanity of Greater Nashville.  Other activities include a 5K race Saturday morning, and a signing session with the authors of "Backstage at the Grand Ole Opry."  The new book gives a behind-the-scenes look at the legendary show, including stories and memories from Opry stars and over 250 photos.


Rascal Flatts Worked Hard To Find Songs For New Album


Rascal Flatts' Jay DeMarcus admits the group put some extra effort into choosing material for their upcoming album.  He explains that the country music scene is changing, and band members agreed they should adapt to the times.  But Jay adds that they also had to remain true to themselves.


Rascal Flatts' new album, "Rewind," is due in stores on May 13th.  But the group is giving fans a taste of what's to come with their "Rewind" EP.  The four-track disc features the band's current single, "Rewind," and the new song "Dancing On My Grave," along with their 2010 chart-topper "Why Wait" and their 2012 top ten hit "Come Wake Me Up."  Rascal Flatts' "Rewind" EP is available now exclusively from Walmart.


Sara Evans Praises Guest Performers On New CD


Sara Evans' new album, "Slow Me Down," features a couple of special guests.  The country star jokes about how she generously gave one singer an opportunity to advance his career by recording with her.


In addition to Vince Gill, Evans teams up with Gavin DeGraw on "Not Over You."  Sara says she asked Gavin to sing harmony on the track, but "he did that and more," explaining that he "sang all over it and completely turned it into a duet."  She adds that "Not Over You," which Gavin also wrote, is probably her favorite song on the album.  Evans' "Slow Me Down" is in stores now.


Florida Georgia Line Have Good Time Making Latest Video


Florida Georgia Line is pleased with their latest video.  The duo's Tyler Hubbard says they really enjoyed making the clip for "This Is How We Roll," in part because they shot it with Luke Bryan, who's featured on the song.


But Hubbard admits it would have been tough for this video shoot to be dull.  The clip, which they filmed just outside of Los Angeles, also includes footage of X Games champ Travis Pastrana and The Nitro Circus crew.  The country star explains that any project done "out in California when it's 75-degrees" that involves "dirt bikes and big trucks and girls and stuff like that" is "gonna be a good time."  Florida Georgia Line's "This Is How We Roll" video can be seen on YouTube now.


Country TV Tonight


JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE (ABC) Willie Nelson is a guest.

TOP 20 COUNTRY COUNTDOWN (GAC) A rundown of the week's most popular country music videos.


Country Birthdays Include


Michael Martin Murphey is 69.

Sugarland's Kristian Bush is 44.


Today In Country Music History


Today in 1968, Elvis Presley's 26th movie, "Stay Away, Joe" had its premiere.


Today in 1992, about 40-thousand people attended Farm Aid 5 at Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas.  The 12-hour concert featured Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, and Kirs Kristofferson, along with John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Arlo Guthrie, Paul Simon, and Tracy Chapman.


Today in 1992, the single "Straight Tequila Night" became John Anderson's first number one hit in nine years.


Today in 1998, Grand Ole Opry president Bob Whittaker surprised Diamond Rio with an invitation to become members of the Opry.  On the same night, Jo Dee Messina made her Opry debut.  Her mother, sister, and brother were among those in the audience.


Today in 1998, The "Nokia Presents The George Strait Chevy Truck Country Music Festival" -- George's inaugural stadium tour -- opened to a sell-out crowd of about 56-thousand people.


Today in 2002, Toby Keith kicked off his first major headlining tour in Evansville, Indiana.


Today in 2002, the soundtrack to the movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" reached the top slot on the pop album charts, just two weeks after the project snagged four Grammy awards.


Today in 2004, Rascal Flatts and Brad Paisley were in Washington, D.C. to tape a performance for the 24th annual "American Celebration at Ford's Theatre."


Today in 2006,  Big & Rich were guests on the fourth season premier of "Nashville Star."  The fourth year of the USA Networks show was hosted by Wynonna and Cowboy Troy.  Phil Vassar and movie industry exec Anatasia Brown provided feedback and commentary during each episode.  Chris Young emerged as the winner.


Today in 2006, Trace Adkins became a spokesman for IdleAir Technologies to promote the company's products to long-haul truck drivers.


Today in 2006, new releases included SHeDAISY's album "Fortuneteller's Melody" and Danielle Peck's self-titled debut CD.


Today in 2007, Rascal Flatts had to scrap their appearance at the Houston Livestock and Rodeo because band member Gary LeVox was ill.  Jack Ingram, Joe Nichols, and Clay Walker stepped in as last-minute replacements.


Today in 2013, Grand Ole Opry star Jack Greene passed away at his Nashville home.  He was 83.  The legendary "Jolly Green Giant" had been battling Alzheimer's disease, and died from complications of the illness.


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