Nashville News and Notes for WEDNESDAY

Kip Moore, Justin Moore, Brett Eldredge ACM New Artist Nominees


Kip Moore, Justin Moore, and Brett Eldredge are moving on.  They're the finalists for the Academy of Country Music's New Artist of the Year.  The singers got the nod in a vote that was open both to the public as well as ACM professional members, who will now choose the winner.  The second round of voting will begin at on March 24th.  The winner will be announced during the 49th annual ACM Awards, which will air on CBS from Las Vegas on April 6th.


Fans can learn more about the three nominees on the GAC special "ACM New Artist of the Year."  The show will include interviews and performance clips from Kip, Justin, and Brett.  The special will debut on March 24th at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, and air several times leading up to the ACM Awards.


Trick Pony Reunites Following Seven-Year Split


Trick Pony is back together.  The country trio has announced their reunion on their revamped website,  They explain that the idea to reteam grew from their participation last year in a benefit concert in Boston.  Frontwoman Heidi Newfield says they met for dinner prior to the show, and "instantly started cutting up and laughing" as they shared memories and caught up with one another.  She says it was "literally three old friends picking up where the good stuff left off."  Guitarist Keith Burns credits Ira Dean with suggesting the reunion, saying the bassist told them he didn't think they'd "come close" to making their "best music yet as Trick Pony" when they split up in 2006.  Newfield says Ira's comments triggered a conversation in which they discovered they were "kind of in the same place" musically, which led to them agreeing to team up again.


Following Trick Pony's split, Heidi became a solo artist while Keith formed the duo Burns & Poe with Michelle Poe.  Ira went solo as well, and also developed his skills as a producer.  And now he's producing the new Trick Pony album, which Keith says is "the best sounding stuff" the group has done.  Trick Pony intends to release the disc later this year, and support the project with a tour.


Dolly Parton Sets Release Date For New Album


Dolly Parton's next album will be arriving in the spring.  The country star is giving fans a release date and track list for her next disc, titled "Blue Smoke," which will hit stores on May 13th.  The singer says the project includes "all of the colors" of her life and "all the areas of music" she's been able to "dabble in through the years."  Dolly explains that the set includes her "old world mountain voice," her "tender side," and her "bluegrass side."  Tracks include "From Here To The Moon and Back" and her duet with Kenny Rogers, "You Can't Make Old Friends."


Dolly is currently in Australia on her "Blue Smoke World Tour," and will be performing in Melbourne and Adelaide this week.  She'll launch the U.S. portion of the trek with two shows in Tulsa, Oklahoma on May 22nd and 23rd.


Lonestar Enjoying Their Acoustic Tour


Lonestar's Michael Britt says fans shouldn't expect the group's typical concert on their 2014 tour.  The country star tells Lonestar's usual live performance is "a rockin' kind of thing," in which they "come out and play great songs with a lot of power."  But he says this time around it's just the four band members without a backing band, giving acoustic performances of their hits.  Britt describes the shows as "a little more relaxed," explaining that they "don't bang through the set list as much" and they "talk a little bit more."  He says it's "basically letting the fans in" to see who they are and hear "the vocal things" they do that "get covered up sometimes."


Michael adds that the group is really enjoying the shows as well.  He says it's "a cool thing" for them, because it's giving them a chance to perform songs they've been playing for years "in a slightly different way."  Lonestar launched their trek last week in Scottsdale, Arizona.  They'll perform in Tucson, Arizona Thursday, then kick off a series of dates in California over the weekend.  Lonestar will end the month in Oklahoma, and play dates throughout the Southern and Eastern U.S. in March.


Upcoming Lonestar Tour Dates


February 13 - Tucson, Arizona, at the Fox Tucson Theatre

February 14 - El Cajon, California, at the Sycuan Casino

February 15 - Santa Clarita, California, at the College of The Canyons Performing Arts Center

February 16 - Modesto, California, at the Gallo Center for the Arts - Mary Stuart Rogers Theatre

February 17 - Folsom, California, at the Harris Center

February 28 - Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the Mabee Center

March 12 - Orono, Maine, at the University of Maine - Collins Center for the Arts

March 13 - Red Bank, New Jersey, at the Count Basie Theatre

March 14 - Greenville, South Carolina, at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena

March 15 - Bradford, Pennsylvania, at the Bradford Area High School Auditorium

March 22 - Biloxi, Mississippi, at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino - Hard Rock Live


Luke Bryan Celebrating Ninth Chart-Topping Hit


Luke Bryan is celebrating the chart-topping success of his latest hit, "Drink A Beer."  The country star says it might be his ninth number one single, but it's just as special as his first.


Luke says time has "flown by" since he arrived in Nashville with dreams of a career as a country singer.  He adds that he's still "having a blast with it," and loves "getting up every morning and getting on stage and writing songs."  Bryan also admits that even with nine songs reaching the top of the charts, he's "still trying to figure this crazy business out."


"Drink A Beer" has gone to number one on both the Billboard Hot Country Songs and the Country Airplay charts, as well as the Mediabase/"Country Aircheck" chart.  It's the third single from Luke's latest album, "Crash My Party," following "That's My Kind Of Night" and the title track -- both of which also went to number one.


Frankie Ballard Appreciates Time To Record Album


Frankie Ballard says he was fortunate in making his second album, "Sunshine & Whiskey."  The country star explains that he didn't want to rush the project, but that's not always an option.


Frankie adds that it's not easy to find a producer who's willing to work like that, because "it takes a lot of time and investment on their part."  The singer says he feels lucky he was able make his album with producer Marshall Altman, who was open to Frankie's process.  "Sunshine & Whiskey" is in stores now.  The album includes Ballard's hit single "Helluva Life."


Rocker Conor Oberst Unveils New Country Song


Conor Oberst is offering fans a sneak peek at his upcoming country-flavored album, "Upside Down the Mountain."  He posted a new track called "Hundreds of Ways" to YouTube on Tuesday.


Oberst plans to release a limited-edition seven-inch vinyl version of the song for Record Store Day on April 19th.  The special release will also come with an album outtake titled "Fast Friends."  The rest of "Upside Down the Mountain," meanwhile, is due out May 20th.  Conor is also set to kick off a U.S. tour with California rockers Dawes on May 8th.  Tickets for the trek go on sale this Friday.


Miranda Lambert Trying To Embrace Romance In Her Music


Miranda Lambert says fans don't hear her sing many love songs for one simple reason -- she doesn't really like them.  But the country star admits that she's trying to do a better job of reflecting the romance in her life in her music.


However, Miranda confesses that when she's making an album she's naturally more drawn to sad songs, cheating songs, and revenge songs.  But she says she'll always include "one or two" love songs on her albums.  Lambert just released the new single "Automatic."  She's described it as an autobiographical song reflecting on what life was like when she was growing up.  "Automatic" is the lead-off single from Miranda's upcoming fifth album, which is expected to arrive later this year.


Billy Ray Cyrus Featured In "Achy Breaky Heart" Rap Remake


Billy Ray Cyrus' biggest hit is getting a rap makeover.  The country star is featured in Buck 22's new version of the song, which is posted on YouTube.

The new version of the song is called "Achy Breaky 2."  It's credited to Buck 22, featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, and pokes fun at some of the controversy surrounding Billy Ray's daughter Miley.  The humorous video opens with talk show legend Larry King alerting his audience of space aliens seen hovering over Kentucky's Daniel Boone National Forest.  Billy Ray and a boy, portraying a young Buck 22, are then seen walking in the woods in a black and white image reminiscent of the opening of "The Andy Griffith Show."  They're beamed up to the alien spaceship, and Buck 22 instantly becomes an adult.  He and Billy Ray then perform the futuristic rap version of the song for a group of barely dressed twerking female aliens, one of whom is smoking something that she blows in Billy Ray's face.


The video was posted on YouTube Tuesday.  The song is also available from iTunes now.


Brantley Gilbert Sharing New Puppy With Fans


Brantley Gilbert is introducing fans to the newest member of his family.  He's posted a picture on Facebook of the cute black and white puppy, who appears to be falling asleep in the singer's arms.  The country star has named his new little bundle of fur Sylo, and promises this won't be the last fans see of the dog.  He says there's "no reason y'all shouldn't get to watch this little guy grow up too," and asks, "How about a pic every week??"  Brantley's fans seem to like the idea. says the post received more than 21-thousand "likes" within an hour.


Country Hitmakers Among New Songwriters Hall Of Fame Inductees


The man who wrote Willie Nelson's chart-topping hit "Always On My Mind" is headed to the Songwriters Hall of Fame.  Mark James is one of five new additions, joining The Kinks' Ray Davies, singer-songwriter Donovan, 10cc's Graham Gouldman, songwriter Jim Weatherly in the Class of 2014.  "Always On My Mind" earned James two Grammys in 1983, for Song of the Year and Best Country Song.  Dwight Yoakam and Elvis Presley are some of the other stars who have recorded his songs.  Weatherly is best known for Gladys Knight and the Pips hit "Midnight Train to Georgia."  But he also penned Knight's "You're The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me," which was a chart-topping country hit for Ray Price.  Kenny Rogers, Glen Campbell, Kenny Chesney, and Garth Brooks have recorded Jim's songs as well.


The new honorees will receive their official welcome at the organization's 45th Annual Induction and Awards Dinner.  The star-packed event will take place the Marriott Marquis in New York on June 12th.


Country TV Tonight


CELEBRITY MOTOR HOMES (GAC) Florida Georgia Line, Scotty McCreery, Trace Adkins, Craig Morgan, Jana Kramer, Montgomery Gentry, and Rodney Atkins are among the country stars showing off their tour buses in a 14-episode marathon.


Country Birthdays Include


Moe Bandy is 70.


Today In Country Music History


Today in 1981, the "Greatest Hits" album by Ronnie Milsap was certified Gold.


Today in 1983, the single "You And I" by Eddie Rabbitt with Crystal Gayle peaked at number seven on the pop singles chart.


Today in 1986, the Judds' album "Rockin' With the Rhythm" was certified Gold.


Today in 1993, Diamond Rio hit number one with their single "In A Week or Two."


Today in 1994, Rhett Akins' daughter Kasey Lee was born.


Today in 1996, BlackHawk released the single "Like There Ain't No Yesterday."


Today in 1997, Kevin Sharp's debut album, "Measure of a Man," was certified Gold.


Today in 2002, Faith Hill's work was among the songs up in the Best Original Song category for the 74th annual Academy Awards.  Her soaring ballad, "There You'll Be," which was written by Diane Warren for the "Pearl Harbor" soundtrack, joined tracks from Paul McCartney, Sting, Enya and Randy Newman in the category.


Today in 2004, Buddy Jewell's self-titled debut album was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.


Today in 2005, Sammi Smith died in Oklahoma City.  She was 61.  Smith is perhaps best remembered for her hit rendition of Kris Kristofferson's "Help Me Make It Through The Night."


Today in 2005, longtime RCA recording artist Eddy Arnold was honored with The Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award at a pre-Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.


Today in 2007, Montgomery Gentry's Eddie Montgomery, Trisha Yearwood, and Steve Azar helped launch Country Week on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."


Today in 2008, The Statler Brothers, Tom T. Hall, Emmylou Harris, and the late Pop Stoneman were named as the 2008 inductees for the Country Music Hall of Fame .


Today in 2008, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, T.G. Sheppard, and Ronnie McDowell joined Pat Boone, B.J. Thomas, and Elvis Presley's former girlfriend, rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson for the tribute concert "Belmont University Presents: Nashville Celebrates Elvis!"


Today in 2010, Taylor Swift made her feature film debut with the opening of the movie "Valentine's Day."


Today in 2010, The all-star remake of the charity single "We Are The World," renamed "We Are The World 25 for Haiti," was unveiled during the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada.  Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles was among the soloists on the song, which was a fundraiser for earthquake relief in Haiti, while Zac Brown, Julianne Hough, and Sugarland's Kristian Bush are also among the 85 stars featured on the track.


Today in 2010, Rascal Flatts released their special "Unstoppable (Olympics Mix)" digitally via iTunes.  The song was also incorporated into the TV coverage of the Winter Olympic Games, which were getting under way in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Today in 2011, Dolly Parton was honored as a Grammy Lifetime Acheivement Award winner at a special event in Los Angeles.


Today in 2012, Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars were the big country music winners at the 54th annual Grammy Awards, while Lady Antebellum and Alison Krauss and Union Station were also among the winners.  In addition, Blake Shelton and The Band Perry took part in a special Lifetime Achievement salute to Glen Campbell.  George Jones was also a Lifetime Achievement honoree.


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