May 16, 2009

Country stars hit the runway for June 10 fashion show

Come June 10, a fashion-savvy lineup of country-music artists will take a break from their respective touring trails, songwriting and recording to hit the fashion runway in the name charity.

Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon, 120 2nd Ave. North, is the site for the upcoming 2009 Country Weekly Fashion Show and Concert, which his sponsored annually by country-entertainment magazine Country Weekly. And this year’s show ‘n’ shindig will benefit Musicians on Call, a 10-year-old organization that was created with the mission of bringing recorded music to the bedsides of patients in healthcare facilities to enhance the healing process.

In addition to Country Weekly, now in its 15th year of publication, the 2009 fashion event will be sponsored by Durango, Lifetime Networks and Chevy. In turn, clothing and boots from Durango, Flavour boutique and Wrangler will be featured on the runway.

“We are truly excited and anxious for our Country Weekly Fashion Show and Concert to kick off June.10,” said the on-deadline Larry Holden, editor in chief of the magazine, during an interview via e-mail. “This is our third year to sponsor the show and we’ve got an array of country stars—from legends to newcomers—ready to walk the fashion runway.”

Chuck Wicks, Jessica Harp and GAC's Suzanne Alexander will co-host this year’s event, with a fashion-forward-meets-country-styled talent lineup that will include Keith Anderson, Chris Young, John Michael Montgomery, Mark Wills, Adam Gregory, Trent Willmon, Emily West, Aaron Tippin and Thea Tippin, Sarah Buxton, Trent Tomlinson, Jennifer Hanson, Richard Sterban of the Oak Ridge Boys, Eric Durrance, Bo Bice, Katie Armiger, Joey + Rory, Whitney Duncan, The Roys, Crystal Shawanda, Megan Mullins, Justin Moore, Dean Brody, Mica Roberts, Carter’s Chord, Bomshel, Jypsi, LoCash Cowboys, Krista Marie, Love & Theft and last but not least, Brad Cotter.

“Our three co-hosts—Chuck Wicks, Jessica Harp and GAC’s Suzanne Alexander—are key reasons for fans to come to the show,” Holden said. “And the icing on the cake is that the event goes to help a great charity—Musicians On Call. … This is our third year to sponsor the show and we’ve got an array of country stars—from legends to newcomers—ready to walk the fashion runway.”

Among this year's first-time country artists-turned-models is Flordia native Durrance, whose latest single, "Turn It Off," rose to No. 17 in popularity on GAC's fan-voted, music-video countdown. Now based in Nashville, the talented singer-songwriter has been busy recording music for his next release, but he's more than happy to take a break to participate in this year's CW-sponsored fashion show.

"I don't know that I am much of a model, but I'm going to give it my best shot," he said in a recent interview. "It's for a great cause, Musicians On Call, and when it comes down to it, that's what this is all about—teaming to help others where you can. I'm excited to take part, honored to have been invited and ready to give it my all!"

Doors for this year’s show will open at 11 a.m. and the fashion-related festivities officially get under way beginning at noon.

Tickets: Special VIP tickets in the front row areas and prime runway seating are almost sold out, Holden reported. However, a limited number of $125 runway tickets and $50 reserved tickets near the runway are available.

Also available for purchase is a table in the event’s “Music Row” section, which is a row of premium tables behind the runway seats. These tables are $750 and include eight seats, name recognition from the stage, appetizers from the Wildhorse Saloon and two buckets of domestic beer.

For more info: For more information or to purchase VIP tickets, go to or call 212-741-2709. General admission seating is on sale now through TicketMaster.

To view Durrance and two of his bandmates performing a live-acoustic version of "Turn It Off," please click here. (You'll like it, so come on, do it!)

May 10, 2009

Steve Wariner launches webisodes about new CD

Steve Wariner has become one of the latest country artists (following the lead of Lady Antebellum and Little Big Town, among others) to jump aboard the webisode wagon in an effort to promote his current music project and keep fans updated.

On behalf of his newest endeavor, the Grammy-winning performer has recorded the first of what will be a series of webisodes to introduce listeners to each track on his forthcoming CD, Steve Wariner, c.g.p., My Tribute to Chet Atkins.

The first clip is currently posted at Wariner's official Web page, as well as on the artist's MySpace and Facebook pages. A new clip is set to be posted every few days leading up to the album's June 23 release.

To read the full scoop and view the first webisode, please access the complete story by clicking here.

Hello, Dr. Dolly! Dolly Parton gets honorary degree

The country-turned-international star who's done it all, and then some, has done it yet again—just call her Dr. Dolly.

The University of Tennessee at Knoxville presented the petite powerhouse entertainer and business woman—who's a self-proclaimed "Backwoods Barbie"—with an honorary doctorate of humane and musical letters during an April 8, 2009, ceremony on the school's campus.

A longtime education advocate, Parton attended the university's Friday commencement, along with just more than 1,000 other new UT graduates. At the event, and in true Dolly style, she donned a curve-hugging academic gown that reportedly brought her a standing ovation from students.

To read the full story, including comments from Dolly about the honor, or view the commencement video or Dolly's newest music video, "Backwoods Barbie," please click here.

May 9, 2009

Taylor Swift shares heartfelt Mother's Day video

Mother’s Day falls on May 10 this year, and while many of us may be scampering to get those flowers wired to dear, sweet Mom, country-pop princess Swift Taylor already has delivered her present for mom Andrea—and shared it with the lot of us.

The hit-making country performer has created a hard-to-beat Mother’s Day video-turned-automatic-heirloom that will undoubtedly resonate through the ages. That is, it’s likely to stick around in the country music world, if nothing else, and perhaps pop up as a recurrent tune this time every year as a tribute to moms everywhere.

An early planner, the blond-haired Swift, who’s taken home Grammy Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards and even a CMA Award, graciously unveiled her timeless Mother’s Day gift already, a song and music video made in honor of her one and only mom, Andrea, to show her how much she’s mattered over the still-young starlet’s lifetime.

The song, titled “The Best Day,” is an autobiographical tale and ode for her "also-blond" mom. Its accompanying music clip was crafted exclusively from home movies, with a glimpse here and there of Swift's “excellent” dad, Scott, and equally great younger brother, Austin.

To read the full story about the just-for-mom video or to view it--and it's worth viewing, trust me, even if you aren't a dyed-in-the-wool Taylor devotee--please access the full scoop by visiting my National Country Music Examiner page.

Country's Jimmy Wayne blogs about mothers

Those familiar with country singer Jimmy Waynes background know he didn’t always have the easiest time of things as a youth. He’s talked openly about his time in foster care and penned songs about his experiences as a child, combining his real life with his art.

The merging of his memories with his music, in the end, has resulted in a hit-country sound for the now-36-year-old performer, who first emerged on the commercial-country scene with his self-titled album in 2003, a debut that scored with country radio and fans alike.

His former record label, DreamWorks, released four singles from the freshman effort, including “Stay Gone” and “I Love You This Much,” which peaked at No. 3 and No. 6 on the charts, respectively, along with the two other top-20 tunes, “You Are” and the childhood-inspired “Paper Angels,” a song that came from Wayne’s memories of being a child with his name on one of those holiday-time paper angels at the mall.

These days, Wayne’s on board with a new label home, Nashville’s Valory Music, and his sophomore album—his first for Valory—made its entrance in 2008. To date, the CD’s given Wayne his first-ever No. 1, “Do You Believe Me Now,” as well as the recent No. 18-ranked “I Will.” His brand-new single from the Do You Believe Me Now CD is “I’ll Be That.”

Chart rankings aside, and in spite of the ups and downs, the N.C.-born performer’s endured. And like most others this time of year, the advent of Mother’s Day causes many, including country music’s Wayne, to reflect on his own mother, as well as the women in his life who’ve fulfilled a motherly role in one way or another.

To read Jimmy Wayne's open letter about the importance of moms, from birth moms and sisters, to surrogate moms and bird moms, or to view his music video for "Do You Believe Me Now, his former and only No. 1 to date, please click here.

May 1, 2009

Swine flu affects country artists' touring & fans

The influenza that won’t easily lose its initial “swine flu” moniker has made its mark on the country music world already, and in particular, on the Lone Star concert circuit.

Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga., recently reported that there is one death and 28 confirmed H1N1 flu cases in Texas, country-music performers on tour in the Friendship State have begun altering their tour routes and usual road routines, according to artist Web sites and interviews broadcast on country radio.

The newly launched Kenny Chesney tour, for one, has confirmed that the genre superstar is among those feeling the backlash of the infuenza formerly known as Swine. In turn, the Tennessee performer, who’s touring with Texas-born and based Miranda Lambert throughout the summer, has nixed fan meet ‘n’ greets In San Antonio, Houston and Dallas over the H1N1-induced panic.

To read the full story, as well as comments from the artists swine flu is affecting on the road, please access my latest National Country Music Examiner article.