Nashville News and Notes for MONDAY

Garth Brooks Salutes Billy Joel At Kennedy Center Honors Concert


Garth Brooks is paying tribute to Billy Joel.  The country superstar was among the performers recognizing the legendary "piano man" at the 36th annual Kennedy Center Honors concert, which aired Sunday on CBS.  Garth provided one of the night's more moving moments, singing Joel's "Goodnight Saigon" with a group of Vietnam veterans.


Brooks also performed Joel's hit "Allentown."  The Billy Joel tribute served as the finale of the event, which also featured tributes to Carlos Santana, jazz great Herbie Hancock, actress Shirley MacLaine, and opera star Martina Arroyo.  The 36th annual Kennedy Center Honors gala was taped in Washington, DC earlier this month.  Joel and the other Honorees watched the show with President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama from the Presidential Box.


Ray Price Remembered At Public Memorial In Dallas Area


The late Ray Price is being remembered as a great man and a great talent.  Dallas' WFAA-TV says hundreds of friends and fans of the Country Music Hall of Famer turned out for the "Celebration of Life" tribute to the singer, which took place Saturday at Canyon Creek Baptist Church in Richardson, Texas.  Country star Janie Fricke was among those in attendance.  She tells WFAA Price had "a magical voice," and "no one could touch the uniqueness" of the legendary singer.  During the ceremony country radio personality Bill Mack read a statement from Willie Nelson, who credited his career to Price.  After Ray recorded Willie's song "Night Life," which became the title track to Price's chart-topping 1963 album, he hired Nelson to play bass in his touring band.  Grand Ole Opry announced Eddie Stubbs served as the officiant at the service.


Price died earlier this month following a battle with pancreatic cancer.  He was 87.  Saturday's service was the second tribute to Ray, following a memorial in his hometown of Mount Pleasant, Texas, a week earlier.  Additional events honoring Price are reportedly in the works.


Taylor Swift Named "Tennessean Of The Year"


Taylor Swift has racked up yet another honor.  Nashville's "Tennessean" newspaper has named the country-pop crossover star the 2013 Tennessean of the Year, and explains that she's earned the title in many ways.  The paper points out how Taylor has supported the community with the recent opening of the Taylor Swift Education Center at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and with her donation this month to the Nashville Symphony.  The paper adds that Swift isn't just an international ambassador of country music, but has also done an excellent job of representing the city of Nashville when she's overseas.  Swift is also cited as a great role model.  The paper says she's shown through her music how to channel the pain of heartbreak and rejection into something positive and productive.  And she's demonstrated with her behavior that it's possible to transition from teen star to adult celebrity without creating a controversy.


Eli Young Band's Tour Bus Featured On "Celebrity Motor Homes"


The Eli Young Band's Chris Thompson says his group was proud to have their tour bus picked to be featured on the TV series "Celebrity Motor Homes."  But the country star admits it meant they had to do some extra work to make their vehicle presentable.


Eli Young Band's Jon Jones adds that he found it a little surprising that the show would want to feature his group's bus on the show.  He explains that many of the vehicles showcased are these "opulent, really custom tricked out" RVs and motor homes, and by comparison their bus is "nothing incredibly special."  The "Celebrity Motor Homes" episode featuring Eli Young Band's bus will air on GAC several times on January 1st and 2nd.


Brantley Gilbert Tops Country Digital Chart With Latest Single


Brantley Gilbert is seeing strong returns with "Bottoms Up." says the country's latest single is debuting at number one on the Country Digital Songs chart with 63-thousand downloads.  That's also his best sales week to date.  Brantley's previous best digital sales week came nearly two years ago, in January 2012, with "Country Must Be Country Wide," which had 29-thousand downloads.  Meanwhile, his previous best appearance on the chart was with "You Don't Know Her like I Do," which peaked at number 13 on the Country Digital Songs list a couple of years ago.


"Bottoms Up" is giving Brantley his best chart debuts on a couple of other lists as well.  The track is opening at number eleven on the Hot Country Songs chart, while it's starting its run at number 41 on the Country Airplay chart.  His previous best on the Songs list was "You Don't Know Her," which debuted at number 41.  And "Country Wide" was his previous best on the Airplay chart, opening at number 44 in April 2011.


Keith Urban Really Enjoys Current Single


Keith Urban says he was instantly impressed with the song "Cop Car."  The country star explains that it's a very unique love song.


Urban adds that the characters in the song's story are very real to him, and he knows "this guy" and the "crazy psychotic girl" in the song.  "Cop Car" is the third single from Keith's most recent album, "Fuse."


The Cadillac Three Excited About Debut Album


The Cadillac Three's Jaren Johnston says the new country group is making progress on their debut album.


But Jaren admits that the band has been spending so much time on the road that it's been difficult for them to get into the studio to work on the album.  The Cadillac Three's debut disc includes the single, "The South," which features guest vocals from Florida Georgia Line, the Eli Young Band's Mike Eli, and Dierks Bentley.


Clay Walker Embracing "New Era" Of Country Music


Clay Walker says country music is at the start of a "new era."  The singer tells he believes "traditional country music died," and awarding George Strait the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year title was both "a symbolic and a real closing of the door" on the genre's traditional sound.  Clay says it was the industry expressing gratitude to Strait for what he meant to traditional country as that era comes to an end.


Walker adds that he doesn't believe this is a bad thing.  He says country music is undergoing "the perfect evolution," even though things are "rough at the moment."  Clay explains that the expansion into pop, rock, and hip-hop is an effort to "find where the absolute limitations are," and in time the fans will "bring them back in" and artists will once again "work within those limitations."  The singer also says he's accepted the changes going on in country music, which leaves him feeling very optimistic about his new album.  Within the next few months Walker expects to release the debut single from his upcoming disc.  Clay says he's "confident" in his new material, and thinks his album includes more than one "new era" hit.


Luke Bryan Recalls His Best New Year's Eve


Luke Bryan says it's not tough for him to pick his best New Year's Eve ever.  The country star says it's the first one he celebrated with his then-future wife, Caroline.


Luke and Caroline just recently celebrated another special occasion -- their seventh wedding anniversary.  The couple tied the knot on December 8th, 2006.


Quick Bite


Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert are once again making Zillow's "Most Desirable Neighbors" list.  But while the country couple took first place in last year's poll, this time around they're taking second place on the list behind Jimmy Fallon.


Country TV Today And Tonight


HEADLINE COUNTRY: YEAR IN REVIEW 2013 (GAC) Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan, Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton, George Strait, Kenny Chesney, and Keith Urban area among the stars featured in this look back over the past year.

BACKSTORY (GAC) Miranda Lambert and Kix Brooks are featured in separate episodes.


Country Birthdays Include


Country star Suzy Bogguss is 57.


Today In Country Music History


Today in 1944, Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys made their debut on the Grand Ole Opry.


Today in 1951, "The Roy Rogers" show debuted on NBC-TV.


Today in 1962, Brenda Lee was injured in a fire that destroyed her Nashville home and killed her dog.


Today in 1994, the song "Heartbreak Hotel" was voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, which honors recordings of lasting historical significance.


Today in 1996, Deana Carter made her debut on "The Late Show with David Letterman."


Today in 2001, Neal McCoy took part in the USO's Deliver America Tour, joining Wayne Newton and comedian Drew Carey to perform for American troops at the Kandahar Airport in Afghanistan.


Today in 2001, Jo Dee Messina sang the national anthem at the Tennessee Titans-Cleveland Browns football game in Nashville.


Today in 2006, Kellie Pickler went to her first hockey game, and saw the Nashville Predators beat the Boston Bruins, five-to-zero, at Nashville's Gaylord Entertainment Center.  A few weeks later she started dating the Predators' Jordin Tootoo.  The two split up several months later.


Today in 2001, Jo Dee Messina sang the national anthem at the Tennessee Titans-Cleveland Browns football game in Nashville.


Today in 2007, Mindy McCready was released from a Williamson County, Tennessee jail after serving more than five months behind bars.  The singer was initially locked up in Florida in July following an arrest stemming from a fight with her mother.  Two months later Tennessee officials gave her a one-year sentence because with her Florida arrest she violated her probation in conjunction with a 2004 arrest on drug charges.  But Tennessee authorities credited McCready with time served in Florida, and further reduced her sentence for good behavior.


Today in 2008, new releases included the CD "Only the Best of Chet Atkins" and the DVD "Surfer, Dude," featuring Willie Nelson.  In the film Nelson plays the part of Farmer Bob, a friend and mentor to star Matthew McConaughey's character.


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