2007 Country Music News Review

Monday, December 31, 2007

In part two of the 2007 review, lets take a look at the events of the year, briefly as possible.

Generally, in music this year...

Digital downloading was a common theme through out the 2007 year; CD sales were down almost 15% while download sales were up 45% in the year. At the same time sales were soaring, the RIAA was in the middle of a lawsuit that won them a $222,000 judgment against a downloader. Also, EMI removes DRM (copyright protection technology) from their downloaded tracks and Amazon begins to sell them, after months of rumors. Other labels also announced they are testing and considering removing the content protection technology.

Hannah Montana brings the issue of fan club ticket pre-sales and ticket brokers to the spotlight in 2007. Ticketmaster sues re-sellers for using software applications to buy tickets for shows. Online fan club members sued the fan club over the broken promise of being able to have access to pre-sale tickets. So very many country music artists these days have fan clubs of this type, and in the upcoming year, an impact could be seen intensely in country music, pending the outcome.

In October, Madonna makes a one-of-a-kind deal that could set prescience in other artist of her talent level and demand. A deal worth reportedly $120 million over 10 years, Live Nation signed her to an all inclusive deal, a first deal of this type. Studio albums, tours, television, fan club, merchandising, website, and more are all in this business deal. Time will tell if there other deals of this type in the works and what country music artists are in demand for this type of deal.

Turning to country music in 2007,

Garth Brooks takes the headlines this year with the release of the hit single "More Than a Memory" that debuted at #4, tying his own record for highest ranked debut single. The success continued with the "Ultimate Hits" 2 CD and 1 DVD set that included 4 new singles and 30 classic songs, including 33 videos on DVD. To top off the year, Brooks performed 9 history making live performances at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO. The final of the shows also was broadcasted via satellite to movie theaters all over the country with such demand that an encore was broadcasted the following night.

In a related story, it was another year where the independent artists had a strong hold on country music. Artists like Garth Brooks (Pearl Records,) Taylor Swift (Big Machine Records,) Jason Aldean (Broken Bow Records,) Rodney Atkins (Curb,) and Tracy Lawrence (Rocky Comfort) all had a strong year on their independent labels, giving strong competition to the major labels.

It's been 28 years since the last album from The Eagles, 2007 turned to be very successful for them including an appearance on the CMA Awards and the release of their Wal-Mart exclusive album. It led to Billboard changing the policy on their charts to allow exclusive retail sales to be included on the charts, giving the album the #1 spot on the Billboard 200.

In April, the former home of one of country music's greatest legends, Johnny Cash, burns down as country music fans watch the video and pictures from the Nashville media.

Divorce, unfortunately, this year seemed to be a common theme. Terri Clark, Wynonna Judd, Sara Evans, and Lorrie Morgan are among the names that filed for divorce this year. However, there were happier times for Joe Nichols, Phillip Sweet, JoDee Messina, Clay Walker, Darryl Worley, T.G. Sheppard, and Gary Morris all married this year.

The Grand Ole Opry celebrated its 82nd Birthday, and invited 3 new members in 2007, including Mel Tillis, Josh Turner, and Charlie Daniels. XM Radio began broadcasts of the Grand Ole Opry, bringing the Opry back to satellite radio

Not all was happy though around the Grand Ole Opry House this year.

Given permission to be pursued this past week, and filed earlier this year by Stonewall Jackson, an age discrimination lawsuit was filed against Gaylord Entertainment and Opry General Manager Pete Fisher. The first day of 2007, Del Reeves died of emphysema at age 74, even though it had been August of 2002 since he performed on the Opry stage. Reeves had been a member since 1966. The entire music community came together when music legend Porter Wagoner died on October 28, 2007 at the age of 80 from lung cancer. His rhinestone suits, 50 years of Opry performances, his television performances, and songs like "The Carroll County Accident" this Country Music Hall of Fame and Opry Member will never be forgotten. Also, among the deaths this year included honky-tonk legend Hank Thompson in November.

No year would complete without the recap of arrests, Mindy McCready was sentenced to a year in jail for probation violations, Willie Nelson started probation for 6 months and paid a fine for his remarkable first conviction of marijuana possession, Troy Gentry has learned about probation and paying fines (a $15,000 lesson, Nelson's was only just over $1,000) over his bear trapping incident from 2004, and finally Jonny Rodriguez was arrested for drug possession.

From the awards, The Dixie Chicks win 5 Grammy's; Kenny Chesney is awarded the CMA and ACM Entertainer of the Year, and Vince Gill, Ralph Emery, and Mel Tillis become Country Music Inductees this past year.

When stopping to think about it, it has been quiet a busy 2007 for country music.

Country Music 2007 Review: The Charts

Sunday, December 30, 2007

This year, I thought I would divide the year in review into the three major parts. Part One- The Charts (tonight). Part Two- The News (31st). Part Three- Commentary (1st). Then, There will be commentary and predictions upcoming around the 2nd of January.

First is the cut and dry chart sampling...
All chart information obtained from Billboard Magazine dated 12/22/2007 and can be located on Billboard's Website

Billboard Top Artists
8 of the Top 50 Artists of 2007 are country music artists (16%)

5. Carrie Underwood
14. Rascal Flatts
23. Tim McGraw
28. Brad Paisley
31. Taylor Swift
32. Kenny Chesney
44. Keith Urban
45. Sugarland

Billboard Top 10 Male Artists
2 of the top 10 overall male artists were country artists. (20%)
8. Tim McGraw
10. Brad Paisley

Billboard Top 10 Female Artists
2 of the top 10 overall male artists were country artists. (20%)
2. Carrie Underwood
10. Taylor Swift

Billboard Top 10 Groups
1 of the top 10 overall groups were country artists. (10%)
3. Rascal Flatts

Billboard Top 10 Independent Artists
5 of the top 10 overall male artists were country artists. (50%)
1. Jason Aldean
4. Little Big Town
5. The Eagles
6. Garth Brooks
10. Tracy Lawrence

Billboard Top Country Albums
1. Some Hearts Carrie Underwood Arista Nashville
2. Me and My Gang Rascal Flatts Lyric Street
3. Taylor Swift Taylor Swift Big Machine
4. Love, Pain, and the Whole Crazy Thing Keith Urban Capitol Nashville
5. Enjoy The Ride Sugarland Mercury Nashville

Billboard Top Country Songs
1. Watching You Rodney Atkins Curb
2. Good Directions Billy Currington Mercury Nashville
3. Never Wanted Anything More Kenny Chesney BNA
4. These Are My People Rodney Atkins Curb
5. Take Me There Rascal Flatts Lyric Street

Billboard Top Country Male Artists
1. Tim McGraw
2. Kenny Chesney
3. Brad Paisley
4. Keith Urban
5. George Strait

Billboard Top Country Female Artists
1. Carrie Underwood
2. Taylor Swift
3. Martina McBride
4. Reba McEntire
5. Kellie Pickler

Billboard Top Country Groups
1. Rascal Flatts
2. Sugarland
3. Montgomery Gentry
4. Brooks & Dunn
5. The Eagles

Billboard Top Imprints
1. Arista Nashville
2. Curb Records
3. MCA-Nashville
4. Capitol Nashville
5. Lyric Street

Albums Sales: 442,476,000 -14.8%
Digital Download Sales 766,256,000 +45.8%
Single Sales: 2,048,000 -41.6%

Total Sales 1,210,780,000 +15.5%

Billboard Top Tours
4 of the 25 top concert tours were country. (25%)

4. Kenny Chesney 71.2 million
8. Tim McGraw & Faith Hill 52.3 million
10. Rascal Flatts 41.6 million
17. Toby Keith 35.1 million

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas to all of those who read my writings through out the year, and I hope that each and every one of you take the time to remember the true meaning of Christmas...

Gary Allan "Watching Airplanes" Video

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Enjoy the video...

"Clash of the Choirs" contd.

Well, well, well. Country music fans, you did it. Blake Shelton was still around to perform. Tonight's show sounds like it may be the best of the 4 nights to me. So be sure to tune in and remember to vote country music fans, if you think Blake is the best, be sure to keep him going into Thursday's final show.

Clash of the Choirs

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Did you catch the premiere episode of "Clash of the Choirs" last night?

Blake Shelton's choir gave a respectable performance, but I'm not really sure why he had his guitar with him! He was the leader of the choir and should be directing rather than playing or getting the crowd involved like it was his concert.

I must give him a lot of credit though; he certainly gave the viewer some great laughs and overall, did very well. However, the other choirs just were a few levels above him. When you have talent like Michael Bolton and Patti LaBelle to compete against, well there isn't much of a chance.

Just as I thought from the beginning of seeing the previews, this show is designed for the true music lover. I am so excited about this 4-day series, and can't wait to see what happens tonight. Even if it probably will be the last night for Oklahoma City and Blake Shelton. But then again, country music fans are strong in numbers and in their support, we will just have to watch and see.

Remember to vote for your favorite choir when the show completes by phone or online.

"Clash of the Choirs" continues tonight on NBC 8-9pm EST, followed by the season finale to "The Biggest Loser." Check out the Official NBC website for more information on "Clash of the Choirs"

Country Music Alive Menu

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I just noticed a major problem with my website. The menu is gone. I tried replacing it, but that didn't do anything... so, I am working on the problem and hopefully in the next day or so, a menu will be back!

If you visit the website and see any problems, please e-mail me.

White House Christmas Video Features Alan Jackson

Always is it a little fun treat to see the White House Christmas Video, known as the Baneycam.

This year's features the 2 Bush dogs wanting to become Junior Park Rangers. At the end, you will see a familiar country music artist. Alan Jackson congratulates the dogs Barney and Miss Beazley on becoming Junior Park Rangers, along with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Here is the link to watch:

Alan Jackson has also announced his next album will be released March 4th, and will be titled "Good Time" featuring a duet with Martina McBride and the first single will be a tribute song to Jackson's father titled "Small Town Southern Man."

Chris Cagle Cited For Misdemeanor Assault

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Country star Cagle accused of post-concert punch | www.azstarnet.com ®

Chris Cagle has been charged with a Class 3 Misdemeanor Assault charge after a charity concert in Tucson, AZ. He is accused of punching a boyfriend of a fan after an altercation that is apparently after Cagle refused to sign anymore autographs for her, having already signed several items and had been escorted out of the venue. The male did not recieve any medical treatment and his hat was knocked off after the punch to the face.

An officer saw what appeared to be an argument at his tour bus and investigated and Cagle approached the officer about the incident. The victim press charges, even after the officer attempted to mediate the situation.

Now... I have no idea what took place, I only have the news article written about it and no information from Cagle's point of view, but I do see there is a problem with this. At no time should an artist result to physical force in dealing with a fan. From the reports, it sure sounds like the fan and her boyfriend were a problem. A fan should never act the way it sounds like they were from the reports either. Neither side of this were anywhere close being in the right.

Hopefully as time goes on, we will learn Cagle's side of this event and I can make a true opinion. However, from what I've read, both were in the wrong and neither should have acted in the way they did.

Whatever did happen, this type of event is a scar on country music, all types of celebrities encounter these types of events occuring, but it isn't the normal in any way in country music. Country music artists are known for their intense dedication to their fans, and Cagle knows that I'm sure. However, it is also a two way street. The fans respect the artists and they respect us. These two so called fans, do not reflect 99.9% of the fans of country music.

Another Country Radio Station

The day after I did the blog on the current number of country radio stations, I see some news, and it comes from the neighboring radio market to Richmond, VA.

WNRJ Norfolk-Virginia Beach is changing its format from Hot Adult Contemporary to Country!

I like news like that, thats for sure. Hopefully, there will be more news like that in the upcoming year from around the country.

Country Music Dominates Radio

Friday, December 14, 2007

I bet the everyday radio listener couldn't name the style of music that has the most radio stations in the United States. You are probably thinking Top 40 or Adult Contemporary... but since I'm writing about it, you know those answers aren't right.

Here are the numbers that I found in an article in the Washington Post, posted 12/14/2007 6:40pm titled "Country Music Dominates U.S. Radio in 2007 written by Billboard/Reuters featuring information from M Street)

1. Country (2,054 stations +5 stations in 2007)
2. News/Talk (2,026 +18 stations)
3. Contemporary Christian (920 stations +23 stations)
4. Spanish (917 stations +98 stations)
5. Adult Contemporary (666 stations)
6. Top 40 (495 stations -15 stations)
7. Hot Adult Contemporary (392 stations +8 stations)
8. Alternative Rock (385 stations)
9. Southern Gospel (316 stations +15 stations)
10. Rock (300 stations +9 stations)

Pretty cool huh? No music-based format even comes close to the power of country music radio. Wouldn't it be nice in 2007 that country grew even more... I sure hope so. Maybe this time of year next year, we will be up 10,15 stations.

One thing did concern mer. News/Talk stations increased almost 500 stations in the last 10 years. In the same time frame, country music format stations have declined by more than 450. That is something to be concerned about. That trend has to be reversed. Country radio is so very important to promotion, awareness, and continued sales of music.

More about this topic later on... of course.

Opry Video Classics


Myyyy goodness. If you are a fan of the classic country music and the Grand Ole Opry, there is a DVD set that is out now that you must own.

The Opry Video Classics DVD set from Time Life will absolutely excite you.

"Opry Video Classics" will make any true country music fan real happy this Christmas. This is a 8 DVD set. Each DVD has a different theme: Duets, Hall of Fame, Honky-Tonk Heroes, Songs that Topped the Charts, Legends, Love Songs, Pioneers, and Queens of Country.

Each DVD in the set includes an introduction from Marty Stuart that talks very briefly about what you will be seeing. Then, you have 15 performances that are from the Purina Grand Ole Opry (1955-1956 on ABC,) or Pet Milk Grand Ole Opry (1960-1963 on WSM-TV,) or National Life Grand Ole Opry (1965 in black and white, 1966 began color on WSM-TV,) or That Gool Ole Nashville Music (began in 1985 on TNN.) Each DVD also has a exclusive bonus interviews with Grand Ole Opry stars that really give an incredible insight into the music.

What you will see are true classic performances, historical in nature. Cowboy Copas, Willie Nelson, Ernet Tubb, Grandpa Jones, Patsy Cline, Bill Anderson, and so many more. It is truly amazing what is on this set. The interviews showcase artists like Jean Shepard, Porter Wagoner, Jim Ed Brown, and Little Jimmy Dickens to name a few.

Now, this isn't made for the teenager or only new country fan, rather the fans of country music that love the music of today, and really understand, or what to understand, the history of the music. Now, don't be scared that its too expensive. You get all 8 DVDs in a nice DVD collection box for $119.96. Trust me, for what you get to experience, it is worth much more than that.

If you know someone that is a music lover of real classic country music and enjoys the Grand Ole Opry, this better be under the tree.

"All Wrapped Up In Christmas" Tracy Lawrence

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Just a little Christmas music for you to enjoy...

Gibson Robot Guitar

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I am not a musician, never have been able to learn to play an instrument, though tried a few times. However, I love music, as you all well know. A few weeks ago, someone sent me an e-mail about a new guitar that has hit stores.

It is the world's 1st run limited edition version of the Gibson Les Paul Robot Guitar. As special edition, only 10 per store, the guitar has the ability to tune itself. I could try to explain it to you, but I don't think I would do a good job!

Even if you know nothing about guitars, it certainly is interesting at what is going on in the musical instrument industry with advancing technology. Go the below website and take a look around... I found the video on instructions how to use it very cool to see.


Blake Shelton on 'Clash of the Choirs'

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Music lovers get ready. Country music lovers get ready to pull and vote for the country music artist.

'Clash of the Choirs' is a live four-night musical event coming to NBC in December 17th. "Clash of the Choirs," has tapped five musical superstars -- Michael Bolton, Patti LaBelle, Nick Lachey, Kelly Rowland and Blake Shelton -- to embark on a musical challenge as they return to their hometowns to assemble an amateur choir and prepare them to compete live in studio for the title of America's best choir. The show will feature music genres ranging from current pop hits to holiday classics. The choir hopefuls will be judged each night by viewers watching at home.

For more information, visit http://www.nbc.com/Clash_of_the_Choirs/

The Grammy Nominations Thoughts

Monday, December 10, 2007

Its that time of year, the list of Grammy Award nominations have been released... the full list is in the above post.

Each of the categories have some real tough competition. Quiet impressive, I must say. The category that caught my eye though is Best Male Vocal Performance. I am glad I don't have to vote on that one... Each of those songs are great representations of the past year's male country music performances and each of them are just country perfection.

The biggest surprise on the list I think is The Time Jumpers with two nominations. Wow, well, you probably don't know the group, but The Time Jumpers is a Western Swing band comprised of eleven of Nashville's finest studio musicians and vocalists: Kenny Sears (fiddle/vocal), Joe Spivey (fiddle), Aubrey Haynie (fiddle), John Hughey (steel guitar Hall of Fame member), Dennis Crouch (bass), Andy Reiss (guitar), Rick Vanaugh (drums), Jeff Taylor (accordion), Carolyn Martin (vocals), Dawn Sears (vocals) and "Ranger Doug" Green (rhythm guitarist/vocalist of “Riders in the Sky” fame). This is the cool thing about the Grammy Awards. The voters appear to not take into account popularity or the biggest buzz artist, rather true talent. http://www.thetimejumpers.com/

Grammy Nominations List- Country Music Field

Field 8 — Country

Category 36

Best Female Country Vocal Performance
(For a solo vocal performance. Singles or Tracks only.)

  • Simple Love
    Alison Krauss
    Track from: A Hundred Miles Or More: A Collection
  • Famous In A Small Town
    Miranda Lambert
    Track from: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
    [Columbia Nashville]
  • Nothin' Better To Do
    LeAnn Rimes
    [Curb Records]
  • Before He Cheats
    Carrie Underwood
    Track from: Some Hearts
    [19 Recordings/Arista Nashville]
  • Heaven, Heartache And The Power Of Love
    Trisha Yearwood
    [Big Machine Records]

Category 37

Best Male Country Vocal Performance
(For a solo vocal performance. Singles or Tracks only.)

  • Long Trip Alone
    Dierks Bentley
    Track from: Long Trip Alone
    [Capitol Records Nashville]
  • A Woman's Love
    Alan Jackson
    Track from: Like Red On A Rose
    [Arista Nashville]
  • If You're Reading This
    Tim McGraw
    Track from: Let It Go
    [Curb Records]
  • Give It Away
    George Strait
    Track from: It Just Comes Natural
    [MCA Nashville]
  • Stupid Boy
    Keith Urban
    Track from: Love, Pain & The Whole Crazy Thing
    [Capitol Records Nashville]

Category 38

Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals
(For established duos or groups with vocals. Singles or Tracks only.)

  • Proud Of The House We Built
    Brooks & Dunn
    [Arista Nashville]
  • How Long
    [Eagles Recording Co. II]
  • Moments
    Emerson Drive
    Track from: Countrified
    [Midas Records, Inc.]
  • Lucky Man
    Montgomery Gentry
    Track from: Some People Change
    [Columbia Nashville]
  • Sweet Memories
    The Time Jumpers
    Track from: Jumpin' Time

Category 39

Best Country Collaboration With Vocals
(For a collaborative performance, with vocals, by artists who do not normally perform together. Singles or Tracks only.)

  • Days Aren't Long Enough
    Steve Earle & Allison Moorer
    Track from: Washington Square Serenade
    [New West Records]
  • Because Of You
    Reba McEntire & Kelly Clarkson
    [MCA Nashville]
  • I Need You
    Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
    Track from: Let It Go
    [Curb Records]
  • Lost Highway
    Willie Nelson & Ray Price
    Track from: Last Of The Breed
    [Lost Highway Records]
  • Oh Love
    Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood
    Track from: 5th Gear
    [Arista Nashville]

Category 40

Best Country Instrumental Performance
(For solo, duo, group or collaborative performances, without vocals. Singles or Tracks only.)

  • Little Monk
    Russ Barenberg
    Track from: When At Last
    [Compass Records]
  • Mucky The Duck
    The Greencards
    Track from: Viridian
    [Dualtone Music Group]
  • Throttleneck
    Brad Paisley
    Track from: 5th Gear
    [Arista Nashville]
  • Rawhide!
    Andy Statman
    Track from: East Flatbush Blues
    [Shefa Records]
  • Fidoodlin'
    The Time Jumpers
    Track from: Jumpin' Time

Category 41

Best Country Song
(A Songwriter(s) Award. For Song Eligibility Guidelines see Category #3. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.)

  1. Before He Cheats
    Josh Kear & Chris Tompkins, songwriters (Carrie Underwood)
    Track from: Some Hearts
    [19 Recordings/Arista Nashville; Publishers: That Little House Music, Mighty Underdog Music/Sony/ATV Cross Keys Publishing]
  2. Give It Away
    Bill Anderson, Buddy Cannon & Jamey Johnson, songwriters (George Strait)
    Track from: It Just Comes Natural
    [MCA Nashville; Publishers: Sony/ATV Tree Publishing/Mr. Bubba Music, Run Slow Music, EMI Blackwood Music]
  3. I Need You
    Tony Lane & David Lee, songwriters (Tim McGraw & Faith Hill)
    Track from: Let It Go
    [Curb Records; Publishers: Careers-BMG Music Publishing/Nervous Worm Music/Famous Music/Ed And Lucille Songs]
  4. If You're Reading This
    Tim McGraw, Brad Warren & Brett Warren, songwriters (Tim McGraw)
    Track from: Let It Go
    [Curb Records; Publishers: Bucky And Clyde Music, Stylesonic Music]
  5. Long Trip Alone
    Brett Beavers, Dierks Bentley & Steve Bogard, songwriters (Dierks Bentley)
    Track from: Long Trip Alone
    [Capitol Records Nashville; Publishers: Ensign Music/Rancho Papa Music/Home With The Armadillo Music, Big White Tracks]

Category 42

Best Country Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

  • Long Trip Alone
    Dierks Bentley
    [Capitol Records Nashville]
  • These Days
    Vince Gill
    [MCA Nashville]
  • Let It Go
    Tim McGraw
    [Curb Records]
  • 5th Gear
    Brad Paisley
    [Arista Nashville]
  • It Just Comes Natural
    George Strait
    [MCA Nashville]

Category 43

Best Bluegrass Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

  • Cherryholmes II Black And White
    [Skaggs Family Records]
  • Lefty's Old Guitar
    J. D. Crowe & The New South
  • The Bluegrass Diaries
    Jim Lauderdale
    [Yep Roc Records]
  • Scenechronized
    Seldom Scene
    [Sugar Hill]
  • Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular
    Tony Trischka

Country Concert Price Comparison

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Ticket prices are too high. I hear it all the time it seems. Or, I tell someone that their favorite star is coming to their town and they say they can't go because it costs too much. I agree somewhat, I really think prices should be lower, however, I do also know the cost of living is outrageous. I also highly believe that all the many people that it takes to put on a concert tour should get paid for their talents. So, ticket prices are higher than a few years ago, but still, its a pretty good deal...especially for the country music fan.

Garth Brooks is a special situation, so I didn't include him in my research. His price for the past Kansas City shows was $32.50.

I love numbers. So lets play with some. This will prove to us that country music concerts are still cheaper than other shows. I just randomly clicked through Ticketmaster and obtained the prices for the Pollstar.com top 5 concerts this week. I picked out the 4 concerts listed in the top 50 and then added Rascal Flatts.

Pollstar Top 5
Bon Jovi $49.50-132.50
Bruce Springsteen $65.00-95.00
Van Halen $47.75-147.75
Tool $45.50-75.00
Ozzy Osbourne $29.50-99.75
Top 5 Average: $38.30-110.00

Top Country Concerts
George Strait $54.50-64.50
Keith Urban $75.00-95.00
Martina McBride $21.75-54.75
Brad Paisley $29.50-44.50
Rascal Flatts $51.50-91.50
Country Average:


Now, lets take a look at prices adjusted for inflation using a inflation calculator at http://www.halfhill.com/inflation.html

2007Cost In 1997
George Strait $64.50$50.16
Keith Urban $95.00$73.88
Martina McBride $57.75$44.91
Brad Paisley $44.50$34.60
Rascal Flatts $91.50$71.15
Bon Jovi


Bruce Springsteen $95.00$73.88
Van Halen $147.75$114.90
Ozzy Osbourne $99.75$77.57

So, looking at the prices of concert tickets this way, you really notice a few things. The prices charged are not really all that bad and luckily country music fans don't have to pay as much as other shows. It is impossible to really due a 100% reliable comparison between the costs of shows based on inflation due to the supply/demand factor. However, thinking about it, we really are paying about what we should.

What we also should think about is that our legends in our music really should be getting the higher ticket prices; I'm talking about the Hall of Fame members, Opry members, and the true influences on country music. Average price I can come up with is about $42. That's insane. One exception, maybe Willie Nelson around $75. Think about it. Is seeing a band like Rascal Flatts really worth the price compared to seeing a George Jones, Willie Nelson, or someone of the like?
I don't think so.

The bottom line to me is save up, stop complaining, and more importantly enjoy the show to the fullest.

Lonestar "My Christmas List"

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Has the Christmas music bug gotten ahold of you yet? Well, if you have stopped by a Cracker Barrel, you may have seen the new release from Lonestar. It's a Christmas album featuring the new lead singer, Cody Collins.

The album has 9 classic songs and 2 new Christmas songs. They seems to be the trend of Christmas album these days; drop in a few new ones rather than trying to record a totally new song project. I guess a few new ones isn't as bad as all classic recordings. The classics are recorded with a little more pop sound than country, to me, but again, that's the current trend in country, unfortunately

"That's What Christmas Is For" and "My Christmas List" are the new tracks featured. Both having pretty much a common theme to them, wouldn't say instant classics, but pretty decent tracks. "Christmas List" deals with how we become older in life our list for Christmas changes from the younger Matchbox cars to the older wanting peace on Earth, troops safety and health of family. This song did make me stop a moment and think to myself that I indeed agree. The other song talks about the more family tradition and true meaning of Christmas.

The big headline though for this album is that its the first time we get to hear the new lead singer of Lonestar is heard. Vocals are crisp and clean, quiet radio friendly, I must say. However, Lonestar fans from their first album aren't going to adjust very easily I don't believe. Its a new group in my opinion when the lead singer leaves.

Remember, this album is available only at Cracker Barrel... that's another blog for another time.

Glen Campbell: Good Times Again DVD

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

TimeLife.comGlen Campbell: Good Times Again DVD

What a cool DVD, man, there is some good treasures out there. This is one of them, this single DVD has great performances from Glen Campbell himself, as well as duets with Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and more. Oh, yes, more like Roger Miller and Glen Campbell singing "King of the Road," one of my favorite songs, and this performance is quiet entertaining I must say.

The DVD also is great in the great insight into Glen Campbell that it provides through his commentary throughout.

This is the kind of thing we need so much more of from the legends. The Hall of Fame members, the Opry stars, and all the legends out there. It gives us not only some great music, but a piece of history to share and keep. Their voice and words preserved for us forever. I believe this type of DVD is so important.

A Visit To Circuit City

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tonight, I was out and noticed our newly renovated Circuit City appeared to be back together. This particular store is directly across the street from corporate headquarters for Circuit City. When you walk in, it feels a little smaller but more open feel to it though. Pretty nice. I began to browse around, and well I noticed the emphasis on video games. A large round area filled with video games and a few large screen flat panel televisions with the demonstration units there to play. I noticed the digital cameras, the normal electronic store merchandise.

One thing was very different though. The music section. We have a problem.

The entire music section was basically one row. Approximately 2 feet per genre. A little more maybe for pop/rock, 4 feet possibly. There were a total of 30 slots for country CDs. 6 slots, 5 rows. Maybe 10 deep. Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, and the normal artists filled the front of the shelf, and if you dug behind the top CD, found a few greatest hits CDs from older artists. But substance of what is there is close to nothing

Its not just Circuit City; there is a new concept Wal-Mart store in our area that you notice a slightly lower selection of CDs. This is a retail trend. Sure there CD stores, very few still though. However, your typical local or chain CD store's prices are out of the price reach of many consumers for music. There is a big difference between $18.98 and $11.99 at a lower priced major retail store.

No wonder why sales of music is lower.

The music industry itself is fighting with the video game generation. No longer is the newest music release is what excites the younger generation, rather now the newest release date of a video game does.

It sure is sad that this is the trend. Yes, I enjoy a video game and play them on my very hard to find video game system, yet music still and always will excite me more.

The music industry as a whole, especially country, need to really think hard about how they market music. Get rid of the inconvenience of the copyright protection features that just frustrate the honest and market digital music more and more.

There has to be mastermind ideas around that can get the product of music back at the top of the consumers mind. Digital kits that include the lyrics, credits, the music, and the photographs is one thought, making the CD packaging thinner so more can get on a shelf is another. There has to be so many different ideas.

OK, I'm done venting... well, for now.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


What a holiday. Not only is it about the parades, family, friends, eating, and football. Its the days set aside to give thanks. I know, I know, you've heard this over and over each year that's important in the middle of the hectic day to remember its purpose. However, I am here to remind you again.

On this special annual occurrence, I hope that you will find just a moment, on a very personal level to acknowledge what you are personally thankful for. No matter how petty or how important those things are, remember them on this day. In the hectic lives that we live, that seem just to get even more hectic each day, it is so important to grab hold of the holidays set aside.

There is so much to be thankful for... Family, friends, the country we live in, the troops that support of freedoms, the things around us that we don't think about everyday such as shelter, food, a job, and so much more. From the less fortunate to the most successful, we all have things to be thankful for.

Of course, my love of country music is apart of my list of things I'm thankful for. It is something that each and everyday brings me so much joy. Whether its listening to the most classic or the newest unreleased music, it is such a great feeling to be able, in some small way, share my deep love for the music with you, the readers. It may seem petty, but, if you take a moment and think about it from your prospective in life, it may not. Just think, how much joy in the past year you have gotten from music.

I wish each and every reader a very Happy Thanksgiving, and in your private thoughts and your time with family and friends to be sure to take the time to be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving,
Kirk Fitzgerald
Country Music Alive

Dolly Parton: on Macy's Thankgiving Parade, New Album and Tour in 2008

Dolly Parton - Better Get to Livin' - Single - Better Get to Livin' Get To Livin' --Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton has been a strong influence and extraordinary artist ever since her beginnings in 1967, when she was featured on Porter Wagoner's television show. From her hits like "Jolene,” “Coat of Many Colors,” "I Will Always Love You," “Here You Come Again,” and "9 to 5", Parton has always had the keen sense of remaining contemporary for the times. With her more recent focus on the bluegrass style, Parton has seemingly had a chance to broaden her talent even further.

Believe it or not, its been 17 years since a release of a mainstream country music album. We've had Trio Two, a gospel release, a honky-tonk album, a patriotic theme, a live album, and a few bluegrass albums, and a few greatest hits packages, but not a mainstream country music album. That is to change February 5, 2008 with the release of "Backwoods Barbie" on her own label, Dolly Records.

The first single "Better Get To Livin' is an extremely ear catching song, with those vocals of Dolly filling the room, with absolute no doubt whom is singing.

Boy, I can't wait to hear more of the upcoming album when its released. I have a feeling we will be in for a real treat. Parton is one of those artists in our music to get excited about new music from.

Dolly Parton has even started an online fan club with the standard features of today's fan clubs, including special ticket pre-sale for an upcoming 2008 tour, now that would be a treat to see.

Also, don't miss Dolly Parton performing at the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade on NBC Thursday morning between 9am-12pm EST

Charlie Daniels Invited to the Opry

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Well, here we go again... Josh Turner sure didn't get too long as the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. Now, its Charlie Daniels turn..

I do have a question, why did it take so long? Daniels is a perfect choice to be an Opry member and will uphold the tradition of the Opry to its highest level. Come to think of it, he really has even without being a member.

Charlie Daniels is one of country music's most special treasures, some of the finest southern music has come from him. One of the biggest hearts and pride of being an American fills the heart and soul of Charlie Daniels. Daniels is the type of artist I consider a role model.

What a great thing for country music. Congratulations to Charlie Daniels and job well done Grand Ole Opry for inviting him, even though it may be many years overdue.

Country Music Gift and Charity Guide

Monday, November 19, 2007

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is this week. Unbelievable. Where has this month gone.

My Thanksgiving message will be coming later in the week, as tradition carries on, but today on the website, The Country Music Alive Gift Giving and Charity Guide has been posted to the website.

This year's new Christmas music, just a couple gift ideas, links to help your gift searching, and a collection of charities with a country music theme is now available on the website for you. Also, you can e-mail me for assistance on picking out those gifts for country music fans.

There is a banner on the front page of Country Music Alive to access the special feature, or you can click here and go directly to it.

Lastly, On Garth...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Alright, Im just as tired of writing about Garth Brooks as you are reading about it on my blog. I mean really, the man is one of the most influencial artists of our time and has passed Elvis for most selling solo artist.

However, this past Thursday I had the chance to catch the Kansas City concert via my local movie theater. It in itself, watching a music concert in a movie theater was a little odd feeling a first, but I very quickly became comfortable with the surroundings. I enjoyed the music of Mr. Brooks and watching the crowd reaction to his music, however the most interesting thing was to be in an enviroment where I could observe his current emotional reactions and his facical expressions during a live event.

At the end of the show, he made a comment that if you wait for him, he will be back. Well, Ive predicted a lot of things about Garth that have become true, and I'm ready to do it again... The wait won't be long for another chance to see Garth live. No, I don't have inside sources or even some magical potion to look into the future, but I did watch Garth Brooks come alive on screen. It was like, even though this was the 9th show, a re-birth of this power within himself came alive again. He was having fun. He was still as humbled and amazed by the audience reaction to his talents. If Garth can figure out somehow of making his top priority of being with his family remain strong and do some type of tour, he's gonna do it. Im sure the brainstorming is going wild in his head ever since he went down the final stage step Wednesday night.

If you went to the show or to the moview theater, you understand the feeling I saw out of Garth, and if you have followed his career, you know there is this huge burning desire to be back on stage and recording even more. Garth Brooks is a master of performance, talent, and marketing. If there is any way possible, without being away from his family and home for any length of time that will be of impact, he will be back on stage sooner. If that can be worked out is the key, if it doesn't happen, trust me, Garth Brooks fans will wait.... and will be there ready with our hearts and wallets open.

Ok, thats all for now on Garth, the new album is out, the 9 night concert sell out is complete, and now I guess I assume he is back home with his family.... and until his next announcement, interview, or whatever it may be, I will be here ready to write on it.

For now, thank you Garth for the new music and the theater presentation of your concert.

Clint Black Tour Review

Monday, November 12, 2007

Clint Black
Up Close and Personal Tour 2007
November 10, 2007
The Paramount Theater
Charlottesville, Virginia

After the extended wait between Laura Byrna’s opening performance and replacing the soundboard, the restless, but understanding crowd arose to their feet to welcome Clint Black to the stage, the near forty-five minute delay was quickly forgotten as the strong country vocals of Black’s “The Shoes You’re Wearing” filled The Paramount Theater in Charlottesville, Virginia.
No flashy stage, (rather very simple large drapes in the background,) no pyrotechnics, no acrobatic tricks or running around from side to side. Just a little moving to the music and some toe tapping was in store from Black. An artist, his guitar (and for Black, his harmonica), and the importance of the music presented on a simple stage is all a true country music artist, like Black needs. Black’s music, lyrics, and vocal delivery are of such caliber, there is no need for any distractions.

“State of Mind” was played early on in the show, giving new fans a sense of Black’s highly talented harmonica playing. Longtime fans of Black’s music were treated to seeing him play live. Strumming and singing through his vast of collection of hit songs, Black’s facial expressions were animated, full of concentration, dedication, personal enjoyment, and a personal connection with the fans. He was having a lot of fun and so was the audience, no doubt.

In between songs, Black told a few short stories and entertained the crowd with his excellent sense of humor; yet at the same time he brought the true-life lyrical power of country music to life for the audience. The humor was shared by the audience in such form as an absolutely stellar impression of Willie Nelson and a story about his father before singing “Nothing’s News,” a lesser known song by title, but more familiar by sound. “Now I'm talking 'bout the good 'ol times / Talking 'bout the good 'ol times / Bragging on how I used to be / But I've worn out the same old lines / And now it seems nothing's news to me…” Black’s voice powerfully rose through the entire venue, filling every crevice and onlooker’s ear.

Along with the new single, “The Strong One,” a salute to Mothers (especially single Mothers) Black also featured his classic sound on a new song, “Can’t Quit Thinking” to be released in February. The attentive audience was very receptive to the music. Black then returned to the hits, performing “Nothing but the Taillights” to the crowd’s delight.

At 10:35pm Black ended his set with “Like the Rain” and “We Tell Ourselves,” the crowd wasn't’t in anyway ready to leave... After a lengthy standing ovation, Black came back to the stage for an encore including “Killin’ Time” and Black playing the drums on a Steely Dan classic. Following Black's time of playing drums, it was time for one more crowd pleaser. From the "Common Thread: Songs of the Eagles" various artist tribute album, Black performed "Desperado" that again amazed the audience.

Performing just fewer than 20 songs throughout the evening, Black’s country filled distinct voice remained powerful, consistent, and filled the beautifully renovated theater.

The fans tonight that were in attendance are real country music fans; if they weren’t before the show, they were when Black finished. Black brought the audience just what was expected; a well delivered show by an artist of the highest level of musical talent.

41st Annual CMA Award Performances

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Alright, the show is over and the performances have had time to sink in. Overall, pretty darn good performances (not considering a lot of the artists could be heard, in some cases may have been a good thing)

I could go and bore you with a comment about every artist, but I will save you from that.

Let's highlight a few real quick...

  • Taylor Swift did a superb job. Professional as can be imagined. Really a true talent.
  • Brooks & Dunn amazing song, great video behind them, really enjoyed the performance.
  • Brad Paisley's addition of the high school band, Kellie Pickler, and Taylor Swift was just his style of a performance. Lots of fun.
Ok. That's enough.

As a service to you, I have composed a full list of the performances and the links to download or buy the music. Support this site with your purchases, please.

2007 41st Annual CMA Award Winners

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The 41st Annual CMA Award Winners

Kenny Chesney
Entertainer of the Year

Carrie Underwood
Female Vocalist of the Year

Brad Paisley
Male Vocalist of the Year

Taylor Swift
Horizon Award

Rascal Flatts
Vocal Group of the Year

Vocal Duo of the Year

"Before He Cheats"Carrie Underwood
Produced by Mark Bright
19 Recordings Limited/Arista Records
Single of the Year

It Just Comes Natural
George Strait
Produced by Tony Brown and George Strait
MCA Nashville
Album of the Year

"Give It Away"
Bill Anderson/Buddy Cannon/Jamey Johnson
Sony/ATV Tree/Mr. Bubba Music/Slow Run Music/EMI Blackwood
Song of the Year

Tracy Lawrence featuring Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney
"Find Out Who Your Friends Are"
Rocky Comfort Records/CO5
Musical Event of the Year

"Online"Brad Paisley
Directed by Jason Alexander
Music Video of the Year

Jerry Douglas
Musician of the Year

CMA Awards Tonight

Don't forget! The CMA Awards are on tonight.

Red Carpet Special
7pm EST on CMT

The 41st CMA Awards
8pm EST on ABC

Country Music Alive will have a full report over the next days... tonight, will have the winners list as soon as it can be typed.

"The Ultimate Hits" Garth Brooks

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The day has arrived, Garth Brooks "The Ultimate Hits" 3 disc set is in my hand, and in the player. Of course, the blood is pumping to hear the new songs. I put the CD in the player and "Ain't Going Down (Til' The Sun Comes Up)" begins and well I start to sing. I notice I've listened to the entire song, and then I finally have to force myself to head to the new song, that is the current single "More Than A Memory" Again, I'm lost in his music, physically having to think that I want to go to the new song "Midnight Sun" a few tracks down. Incredible, what a great song. How special to hear something new from Garth. I make it to the second, focused on wanting to hear "Workin' For A Livin" with Huey Lewis.... Garth style, and that's high class no doubt. I make it through to the final new song, "Leave A Light On" this is one of those power-ballad style songs that grabs you in and takes you on a beautiful musical journey. Give it to me Garth... wow...

As I'm listening, flipping through the cover. The great photography work, the dedications and yes, even the lyrics are there for you, if you haven't memorized them by now. Nothing like a well done cover to a CD.

The DVD is just another amazing experience, a roll down a visual memory lane, topped off with 3 new videos. Classic style videos like "The Thunder Rolls," Live videos from Central Park, televised videos like "Two Pina Coladas" with Steve Wariner, or "Beer Run" where Garth's takes his hat off to George Jones' entrance at the CMA Awards. All your special visual memories are all on the collection.

Those new videos are as high caliber as the rest. "More Than A Memory" is a beautiful rain filled video of amazing feeling. "Workin' For A livin" is a fun video featuring Huey Lewis at Atlanta Motor Speedway featuring NASCAR, with a emphasis on the Home Depot car. "Midnight Sun" is yet another great video starting around a campfire, with a little surprise.

Boy, Garth Brooks really knows how to do it, yet again. The master of marketing, music, visual experience, and well, just Garth. Every fan of country music needs to have their hands on this collection, and the Garth Brooks fans that say I don't need this one, I have everything he has done, well... I say to you, 1- no you don't, there new songs and 2- the videos all in one spot is pretty amazing.

Thanks Garth, yet again, here is another special collection for us. Thank you.

Country Music's Upcoming Week

Friday, November 02, 2007

Country music fans have a huge week ahead of us. Tuesday, Garth Brooks' new album/DVD package hits stores and then Wednesday, The CMA Awards. Wow.

In all the anticipation, it is important to be sure you share that excitement with co-workers, friends, and family. Not only the ones that you know are country music fans, but all of them.

Monday, Let them have that chance to feel your anticipation in the next few days of what it feels like to wait for Garth Brooks to release a new album, and then let them understand how much you enjoy it after you get it out of the plastic and listen/watch for the very first time on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, be sure they know what you are doing that evening; watching a showcase of talent from the past year and finding out who wins the awards. Then Thursday, share your thoughts on the performances and your opinion on the winners.

You understand the power of country music. You understand the great feeling the sounds make you feel and what a country song means to you; the true life lyrical journeys, the expression of feelings, and of course just the make you feel good party songs. Reaching out, just making a few comments on the upcoming week's events may be last one spark that is needed for you to birth another country music fan. They will thank you.

Stay tuned... we have a busy week ahead of us.

Porter Wagoner 1927-2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

"The Grand Ole Opry family is deeply saddened by the news of the passing of our dear friend, Porter Wagoner. His passion for the Opry and all of country music was truly immeasurable. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this difficult time"

--Pete Fisher
Vice-President and General Manager of The Grand Ole Opry.

Mr. Wagoner died yesterday from lung cancer Sunday October 28, 2007 at Alive Hospice in Nashville, TN.

Wagoner was a member of the Grand Ole Opry for 50 years, his last performance occurred on September 29, 2007. He had more than 80 charting singles, including more than 25 Top 10 hits. Among his musical hits, influences, and always staying on the cutting edge of new musical expression, Wagoner recorded his last album titled "Wagonmaster" released in June of this year and even was the opening act for the influential rock duo White Stripes at a sold-out show at New York's Madison Square Garden.

Wagoner was also no stranger to television, as well, The Porter Wagoner Show stayed in production for 21 years. When the show lost its first female singer, Norma Jean, a then unknown Dolly Parton was selected by Wagoner to fill the position and through their years together had 14 Top 10 duet hits. Wagoner even produced some of Parton's early hits. In 1974. the partnership ended, leading to lawsuits on businesses issues, however remained friendly, which led to Parton's writing of "I Will Always Love You."

Wagoner will never be forgotten as well for his big smile, his custom-made rhinestone suits, and his amazing presence on the stage of The Grand Ole Opry. His many hits like his very first, "Company's Comin," "Skid Row Joe," "Green, Green Grass of Home," "Carroll County Accident," and so many others will never be forgotten either.

Funeral services for Porter Wagoner will be held Thursday morning at 11 a.m. at the Grand Ole Opry House, just off Briley Parkway. Visitation will be Wednesday from 2-8 p.m. at Woodlawn Funeral Home, 660 Thompson Lane, and both the visitation and the funeral are open to the public.

On a personal note, I will never forget all the times I have been able to be at the Opry and see him perform and host a segment. The amazing rhinestones sparkling bright under the lights as he introduced the artists or sang a song opening the jacket to his suit and showing off the Bass Pro Shops logo sewn inside. Then, there was the last time I saw him, walking out of the front door at the Ryman after a show in his jeans, button up flanel, and a jacket. Un-noticed, hardly, as he got into his vehicle and drove away.

He is one of the members of the Opry that makes the experience special. For 50 years, a part of its character, a part of the incredible talent, and that part of Wagoner will never die at the Opry, even though he is now gone from this Earth, he will always be smiling down on the Opry every weekend.

The Tennessan (Full Article)

The Tennessan (Second Article, funeral arrangements)

The New York Times

USA Today

The Associated Press

"It is with great sadness that we must say goodbye to our good friend and Grand Ole Opry legend, Porter Wagoner. He was a part of our Gaylord Opryland Resort family, a part of our heritage, our community, an American icon, and a loyal friend. Our hearts go out to his family, with whom we are also very close. For 23 years Porter flipped the switch at our A Country Christmas lighting ceremony making 2 million lights shine bright. No doubt this year our lights will be sparkling even brighter with Porter smiling down on us."

--Arthur Keith
Senior Vice President and General Manager Gaylord Opryland Resort

Gary Allan's "Living Hard"

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Not too often in the past would I post reviews, however, this one here is one I believe that needs to be posted here as well as on in their usual place on my website.....

Gary Allan’s newest release “Living Hard” is yet another example of what country music is all about, real life experiences. His previous album was dark and extremely personal after the death of his wife, there is no way to write about Allan’s music now without mention and comparison to that previous released masterpiece. This new album has lyrical continuation of expression, yet the music itself is much more uplifting sound. You can hear Allan’s emotional state; a sense of healing and moving on, with happier days, yet never forgetting.

Allan has long before now established himself as a highly talented artist and a targeted sound, and the current album stays right inline with what we have loved from Allan in the past. There isn’t any doubt listening to the first track, or the last, who you are hearing. That is a positive talent, no doubt.

“Living Hard” begins with “Watching Airplanes,” a lyrical strong (written by Jim Beavers and Jonathan Singleton) that is a girl-leaving song as he the character watches airplanes take off, wondering which she is on. A great song for everyone, yet it has another meaning to Allan I’m sure. This is a great example of what to expect on “Living Hard,” and this theme is common throughout.

“Living Hard” and “Wrecking Ball” shows a more rowdier side of Allan’s music, loud guitars and almost screaming sounds make these a bit of a miss on the album. Radney Foster’s “Half of My Mistakes” is safely covered on the album very nicely as well.

“Yesterday’s Rain” is a highlight of the album. One of the 6 songs Allan co-wrote, the track showcases Allan’s signature vocal presentation, a sound that perfectly fits, and most of all it really has an a feel of emotional outlet for Allan. Reading the lyrics makes you want to read them again. Hearing the song makes you want to listen again and embrace the emotions. Powerfully, even though we know what he is singing about, we all still can match this expression of feelings to our own lives.

Overall, Allan has yet again brought his fans an highly accomplished album that gives us all a real intense journey into his inner thought and musical expression through country music’s power of lyrical delivery and sharing stories and thought on life’s ups and downs.

Grade: A

Porter Wagoner

I know its been a week since I have posted, but I got up Friday morning to check the news about Porter Wagoner and arrived at my computer to a black screen. The message on the black screen said basically my hard drive failed. So, this past week, I have spent re-loading and updating so I can function again.

Porter Wagoner was hospitalized on October 15 for complications with lung cancer. He was reported in serious condition. Then Friday, his publicist reported that he has been moved to hospice care.

Wagoner is one of those artists I find so special, a tue piece of country music history. A Hall of Fame member since 2002, and a member of the Grand Ole Opry since February 23, 1957. Amazing.

There is so much more about Porter Wagoner to be learned, if you don't know him.


Be sure to pray for Mr. Wagoner, I sure am, everyday.

Also, if you would like send your prayers in form of a card, those can be sent to:

Porter Wagoner Enterprises
P.O. Box 290785
Nashville, TN 37229

Major Problems

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I hope to begin blogging again in the very near future. Probably a week or so, while my focus is now on re-installing my computer system.

I won't go on an emotional roller coaster now and share with you the pains of a full hard drive crash, with loss of 5 years of data.

I will be back.

The Opry Turns 82, XM Radio Begins Live Broadcasts

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Calvin Coolidge was president, you could buy a first-class postage stamp for 2 cents, buy bread for 9 cents, watch the movie Ben-Hur for the first time, and WSM Radio signs on the air for the first time, and then broadcasting the "WSM Barn Dance" which became The Grand Ole Opry. The year: 1925, 82 years ago.

The Opry is truly special. Never forget it and never forget to support it. Take the time to listen and to see it in person.

Speaking of listening, starting Saturday, not only can you hear it online and on WSM-AM, or watch 1 hour of it on GAC, you can now listen to the Opry on XM Radio, as the show returns to satellite radio.

Its getting close, beginning Saturday, XM Radio will begin its live broadcasts of The Grand Ole Opry.

Beginning Saturday, here is the schedule:
Live Performances on Nashville - XM 11
Fridays 9PM ET
Saturdays 7:30 & 10:30 PM ET
Tuesdays 8PM ET

Encore Broadcasts of Performances
Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays 10AM ET America - XM 10
Catch the encore broadcasts of the performances that originally aired on Nashville - XM 11, as well as special archival performances from the Opry's stage.


Josh Turner - Grand Ole Opry invitation to become a member

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ok, while on vacation, I did miss something. Big time.

Josh Turner has beeen invited to join the Grand Ole Opry. Out of today's artists (that aren't already members,) I can't think of a better choice for membership. First and foremost, the video above shows what I mean about being the right person. Look at the emotion in Josh Turner when he is invited. It has to be overwhelming to an artist that is truly dedicated to the tradition of country music, as Turner showcases in his music.

Did you feel the emotion watching it? If you did, you can formally call yourself a true country music fan. The Grand Ole Opry is something special, more special than any words can describe. No other music style in this world has anything like the Opry. Every country music fan should experience the Opry in person in their life, but more importantly, support the Opry through listening every weekend and supporting those artists that make up the special Opry family.

Mr Turner, congratulations and there is no doubt in my mind you will be a role model member of the Opry.

Joe Nichols News Handled Correctly

Sunday, October 14, 2007

"As Joe has alluded to in interviews over the past year, he has struggled with the issue of substance abuse. In order to become a healthier person and deal with long standing issues, he has entered into a rehabilitation program for consultation and treatment." --Lytle Management

I have searched around a bit and see basically the above quote written on Joe Nichols' website in each news article, with the exception of addition of that he was supposed to perform at a venue and they were notified he would not be there.

No details, no specifics, just the basics of what his fans need to know. Nothing more, nothing less. This is the way the media should handle a situation of this nature, I believe. Perfectly done. If at some point later on, if he wants to talk about it in further detail, that would be his decision and should only come directly from his mouth.

The only thing left to say is that Joe Nichols is in my thoughts and prayers and wish him the very best as he deals with the issues that he has encountered in his life, and be ensured this is echoed many times over by fans of his music and the country music community.

Attention Real Country Fans: Gene Watson Album

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Oh man, oh man. Real country music fans need to stop what they are doing and go pick up the newest release from Gene Watson titled "In A Perfect World."

Its not often when I am going through new albums I receive for review and begin typing immediately, especially a blog entry on the album.

First and foremost. Gene Watson's voice is one of country music's gems. His style of country presentation is country to the bone. That's enough in itself to get excited about. However, to make this album even more special...

  • Background vocals featuring Vince Gill doing "'Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me" (originally recorded by Ray Price, Jack Greene, Ray Price & Willie Nelson & Ronnie Milsap)
  • Background vocals featuring Lee Ann Womack "Today I Started Loving You Again" (originally recorded by Merle Haggard & Sammi Smith)
  • Buck Owens' classic "Together Again" featuring Rhonda Vincent on background vocals
  • "A Good Place To Turn Around" featuring Connie Smith on background vocals
  • Joe Nichols, Mark Chestnut also featured background vocals

OK, if that isn't enough for you, look at the songwriter credits to some of the songs... Hank Cochran, Harlan Howard, and many other cream of the crop writers.

This album my friends is one of those to get excited about. Unfortunately, we don't get this lucky often, but when it does happen, it certainly feels like a perfect world.

To learn more about this country music masterpiece visit:


More on Garth

Friday, October 12, 2007

Get this:

118 minutes. 162,000 tickets sold for 9 shows. That's 1372 tickets a minute for just under an hour. Wow.

That my friends is the power of Garth Brooks.

Even better is the Nov. 14 show is going to be shown live in movie theaters all over the country so all of us can be apart of this experience, indirectly at least.

This ties Garth's record for the most tickets sold in a single city in the U.S.

That's the news... but what I find most interesting is his comments posted on his website/press release:

"For the first time in my life I'm speechless" -- Garth Brooks

Well, I am not speechless, of course. I don't believe that Garth truly understands what a true master of all aspects of musical entertainment he holds. A master of talented musical performances, a certain aura of magic he carries within his words, his role-model family and life morals, a true carried out portal of dedication to his massive fan base, and his ability to make intelligent business decisions (especially in marketing.)

Mr. Brooks, if you are speechless on this most recent showcase of his demand, see what you have to say when you do it again and again. You see, you could. Pick any large city, small city, town, or even some remote intersection in the middle of nowhere USA... the same result would occur.

From what I have read, this apparently was to be the Wal-Mart appreciation concert that ended up being opened to the public and was to be only 1 show. He ended up with 9 shows in Kansas City. This tells me that Garth still has that spark, that driving desire to be on stage and this energy isn't going to fade, rather my guess it will take Garth to other towns across the country...

We will just see what life has in store for us next

I'm Back

After a very relaxing vacation and a little time of going through hundreds of e-mails, I am now caught up and ready to get back into posting the blog.

It was only about a 11 days being gone and out of touch. Driving back, listening to some FM radio, since I didn't have my XM with me, it didn't matter what station I was listening to, I felt like it was the same channel. Same sound, same songs, and even the same background singers on some of the station identification fillers. Whatever happened to local radio, having your own identity and feel to the station? I guess that is gone in this world of big business.

Also, I heard a little news bit that Garth announced a concert in Kansas City. Too bad it wasn't a bit closer to Richmond, VA. However, may be just as well that the show was far away because I would've really been beyond mad that I missed a chance to see Garth again. More on that topic in my next post.

Other than that, it doesn't seem like I missed too much while I was gone in the grand scheme of things, except for a few administrative e-mails for some upcoming reviews and features for the website.

Good news, I just in the last few minutes renewed my hosting and domain information for the next 12 months. Always a good feeling to pay that bill and excites me to know I have another year renewed to continue to grow the website. No telling what creative spark that will create for the site.

Contacting Country Music Alive and Vacation Notice

Friday, September 28, 2007

Hi there everyone,

If you look at the comment left on the previous post, someone found it difficult to get in contact with me, well, I did not notice my e-mail address wasn't on my blog template. I have taken care of that now for you all. On the right side, you will see the link to e-mail me.

On my website, http://www.countrymusicalive.com you will also find other contact information for publicity representatives to contact me.

I do not actually type my e-mail address out on any of my web pages or blog, rather I use an ecrypted mailto link to prevent spam. It really helps out a lot with that issue. I had a major problem with my previous e-mail address.

I love to hear from you all through e-mail and try to respond to every single e-mail that is sent to me. So, please if you have something to share, whether just saying hi, a suggestion, or want to discuss something in more detail, I am always excited to read it.

With that said, now, this NOTICE:

I will be on vacation beginning tomorrow morning through October 9th. So, there will be no blog updates until after I return. Since I will be on a cruise, I will have extremely limited, if any, access to e-mail/Internet.

Until next time, keep it country and...

As Always, Keeping Country Music Alive!
Kirk Fitzgerald

The Opry on XM Radio

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wow, finally. A long time ago, I became an XM subscriber. I loved the lineup that was on XM much more than Sirius. Couple other reasons went into the decision, but what made it really hard was back then Sirius had the Opry. I made the decision to go with XM.

In September 2006, Sirius ceased to provide the Grand Ole Opry. So at that point, the only way to hear the Opry was on AM radio or in front of the computer and I began to wish and hope XM just may work out a deal to bring the Opry to XM, and today, the announcement was made my wish has come true.

I can't even begin how special the Opry is to country music fans, and to myself. Sure, you can listen online to WSM-AM 650 anytime, but you are restricted to a computer in order to listen. Also, if you weren't able to be in front of the computer when its live, you missed that week.

Well, XM now gives me the power to be able to listen live basically anywhere I want. With my XM device, I could record it and listen to it anytime and anywhere I want. Those without recording ability on their XM, they will have replays to listen to as well.

My country music friends, this is such an exciting announcement.

Just when I was happy as I could be, I got even more excited. Classic episodes of the "The Eddie Stubbs Show" will also be apart of XM. Now, here is something that is so special and absolutely thrilled already that I will have the chance to have XM access to this as well.

If you are a country music fan, XM Radio is now the ultimate choice for us. Just when I thought XM couldn't get much better, it did.

Here are the details at this moment from the press release:

Beginning with the Opry's 82nd Birthday Bash broadcast featuring Carrie Underwood, Travis Tritt, Ronnie Milsap, and more on Saturday, October 20, XM will feature the live Friday and Saturday night performances as well as the Tuesday Night Opry.

The country hits channel "Nashville" (XM 11) will feature live Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday night performances (Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET; Fridays at 9 p.m. ET; Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. ET and 10:30 p.m. ET;).

Encore broadcasts of new Opry episodes will air on XM's classic country music channel America (XM 10) at 10 a.m. ET every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, along with archival Opry broadcasts.

Many individual performances recorded live on the Opry stage will also be featured on XM's other country music channels, including Willie's Place (XM 13), Bluegrass Junction (XM 14), Highway 16 (XM 16), and U.S. Country (XM 17).

In addition to the Grand Ole Opry, XM will also add "The Eddie Stubbs Show" to the XM programming lineup. The popular WSM program is hosted by Eddie Stubbs, a regular announcer for the Grand Ole Opry, award-winning country music DJ, and respected country music historian. "The Eddie Stubbs Show" will premiere later this fall on XM 10.

The Eagles on CMA Awards?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Uhoh. The CMA announced this morning The Eagles will be appearing on the CMA Awards this year.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Ok. Do I like The Eagles? Yes. Are they some how connected to country? Well, indirectly. They have an appeal to country music fans like southern rock does to country music fans. They have a lot of fans that are also country music fans. Even though they may have a country music related sound, they are a rock group. They are a very good rock group, and amazing in concert, I must say.

Do they belong on the CMA Awards?

The CMA press release this morning talks about their new single being on the charts (top 25 on Aircheck) and a new album coming. Also, talks about how since the 70's they have been an influence on country music.

Ok, sure they have had great influence, but they aren't a country music band. My biggest thing though is this. There so many country music artists and so little valuable time on the award show to showcase the music from the past year and the artists. I think there is so many more artists that should be using that time than The Eagles.

We only have a few artists announced so far, but I have a feeling we are going to see some names missing from the performance list that should be taking their spot.

We will see as time goes on...

UMG Moving From Music Row: A Big Deal?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Well, once again, I was reading the new on the Tennessean's website (which I seem to read more than my own city's newspaper that is in the front yard,) and I learn that Universal Music Group is moving their offices from Nashville's Music Row to the new Suntrust Building, located near The Ryman.

In most cases, a story about a company moving their offices around within the same city isn't too much of a story. This though is a big story to the country music community.

Why you might ask?

Well, Music Row is an area of Nashville, TN, in the southwest section of the city. This area is packed with small house style buildings, small offices, and large buildings that house publishing companies, video publishing companies, recording studios, small record labels, and currently 3 of the major labels (Universal, Sony/BMG, and Warner Brothers.) For a country music, this is where it all begins. Pretty much 16th and 17th Avenues, a few blocks each way, makes up this special area.

Capitol Nashville is a few blocks away from the Music Row area, as well as Lyric Street. Universal Music Group will be making the move in December, leaving 2 major labels in the area. What is the big deal? They need need the office space, it will save the company money,and there is more parking available. Its not like they have totally left Nashville. They are moving less than 2 miles away. Yes, Music Row is special. Yes, it would be an issue if every business moved out of the area. But, just because one business made a decision based on financial smarts doesn't mean there is a dying Music Row area. In fact, I believe it possibly could be a good thing. Here is a chance for more businesses to come into Music Row. Also, If this move helps profits of universal, well, yet another positive action on the industry. Again, its not like their focus has turned from Nashville at all, they are still in town.

One other thing, location is not as much as a factor in today's fast moving- technological world. I don't even live in Nashville, and I get my information just as fast than someone in Music Row thanks to e-mail, fax, phone, Internet applications, MP3s, digital photography, and cell phones.

Teddy Thomspon Covers Country

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Numerous albums come across my desk in a month. Some are albums I request, some I have no idea who they are nor why I received them, and some I get contacted first and ask if I would be interested in taking a listen. The latter happened with Teddy Thompson's newest album "Up Front and Down Low."

Country music fans won't know the artist, he is a folk-pop rock artist from the UK. His new album though is a collection of cover country music country music songs. Some well known classics and some lesser known songs from the classic artists. It is an amazing listen. (review)

This album also brings up a few thoughts in my head that I believe is important. 1-the classic artists will never be forgotten by the true music lovers, regardless of what style of music you enjoy. 2-country music classics have influences in so many types of music.

Thompson's album is his own interpretation of the songs he covers. He wasn't "trying" to sound like the artists or just re-sing them. You can hear in his delivery that he takes extreme influence from the artists and evolved the music into his own style.

There many talented artists in all sounds of music that bring influences from country music and it is just one more way that country is one of the most important and popular styles of music in the world.

Jessica Simpson to Country?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

So, I've seen the reports that Jessica Simpson is going to do a country album... great. Um excuse me, I have to ask a question. Why??

Well, lets back up a little bit. At very first read of the headline, I had 2 immediate thoughts. 1> no way is this going to be good and 2> here comes another pop star that isn't having success to try to make some money in country.

Then, I read the article(s) and my mind changed a bit. Yes, I know you are suprised.

There a bunch of comments about being from Texas, well, that wasn't what changed my mind. Lots of people live in Texas and have no interest in country music nor creating it. But, there was one comment her father said about she being a singer and pop music has moved away from the focus on a singer. That hooked me a little, however, what really grabbed my attention was his comment about country music is the only storytelling genre left.

Now, here is someone that understands country music, and sure hope that his daughter understands the storrytelling part of country and will live up to it.

The first question, why?, well of course I dont know the actual answer, but it will sure be interesting to see what comes of it.

H-E-D-G-E, by Merle Hazard

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Tennessean ran a story about this in their "Online Buzz" area. Pretty funny I thought, and had to share it... He also has a website, http://www.merlehazard.com

Enjoy! Tomorrow another detailed post I feel coming. :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sara Evans Divorce in The News: Overstepping Boundaries

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Well, well, well, as I was reading the news, or should I sat wading through all the non-news stories and randomness to find the news, I ran across this article on the front page of the FOX News website. The title reads "Husband Asks Country Star Sara Evans to Admit Affairs."

Yes, here we go again. A "news" article that goes just a little too far into the private lives of the artists. The article talks about a legal filing of 118 pages that apparently includes a list of questions that deal with whether Evans had sexual relationships with other specific celebrities/music artists.

Now, this information may be important to the case, but personally, I do not think it has any business being in the newspaper (where FOX News got some of the information from.) Yes, celebrities are in the spotlight and we should have some insight into their lives, I understand the interest. I do not understand, however, the media and their decisions in making private and domestic matters public, even if they are in legal documents that are of public record. Divorce situations are tough and get very nasty, especially when big money is apart of the equation. All of that should be left out of the media.

On my website when reporting news, I will report "...have filled for divorce" or somehting like that, and I believe thats all we should be told and should report in the media. The details, fights, blaming, and all the rest that goes with the divorce process should be between the families, and no one else.

1 Shot To Make A Country Fan

Friday, September 07, 2007

Alright, this is always a challenge in my life's journey. This challenge I have successfully done many times in my life, but everytime it gets harder.

I have someone that has not been exposed to country music too much in their life and has a open mind to exploring other styles of music. So, in about 20 songs or less, I need a list of songs that would hook anyone into the music I dearly love, and if you are reading this, you probably do too.

It can't be just today's top 20. That's too easy, for one, and more so the current list doesn't explore the music deep enough. So, it has to be a balance of the newest, that 80-90s era, and of course the classic artists. It can't be taken from a list of 20 greatest songs either, those are too familiar, but also important to include some of those type songs. This will be an sampler list to "set the hook," leading to another list of tracks that will bring the fish on shore.

When you have such a passion for a music, or anything in life, its near impossible to produce a list of this type. The list of artists going through the head is endless. The feelings each artist and song come to mind carry those emotions along with them too. That's the power of country music and thats why I am more than proud to be a country fan.

I will keep the blog updated with the progress, and of course suggestions can pour in as well.

Country Weekly, again...

Quiet sometime ago, maybe 2 years now, I cancelled my long-term subsciption to Country Weekly. I got fed up with it. Well, this past week, I was standing in line and saw the cover mentioned a "special report" on country music fans and the incident with Tim McGraw on stage incident and also fan-stalkers and such.

I knew when I bought it, I would be disappointed, and here I go.

First of all, since Ive picked up an issue it has been physically trimmed down to the "normal" magazine size, instead of its old size. The paper weight is a bit heavier. The articles, if you can actually find them, are pretty decent, but nothing overly exciting or of great penmenship. The pictures are as they were before my cancellation. A couple good ones here and there, but then again mostly press stock photos that any media outlet can use (including my own site.)
Here are a few of my simple problems with Country Weekly:

  • It takes 24 pages to make it to the first actual article. A 3/4 page article actually begins on page 25.
  • Out of 72 pages, only about 11 pages have any substantive writing on it. If I'm going to be paying for a magazine, I informative, enjoyable, and substantive writings. Not a bunch of fluffy-pop quick written news bits. Give me a break! The articles that are in (the 11 pages,) are decent but again, no prize winners either.
  • The actual "special report" really gave no detail or a real deep insight to the issue.

My major problem with this magazine is showcased nicely.

Their priorities are screwed up. Tim McGraw is on the cover. There is a couple sentence mini-paragraph about the Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees! The highest honor a country music can be given and one of the most important events of the year get a paragraph, barely.

Roy Clark, Merle Haggard both have articles in this edition. Thats awesome. I was thrilled to see that, but Roy Clark not mentioned on the front cover, Merle Haggard is, but barely in a small black box near the address label.

This is absurd! The Hall of Famers should be on the cover, major mention of Haggard, Clark, and give me newsworthy information in an professional-informative way. Until then, I will continue to do with out Country Weekly.

There needs to be a good, in-depth, and informative country music magazine. If I had the cash to get it going, I would! I know Country Weekly is a product of the popular country music sounds and is published by the same company that does the National Enquier and many other magazines. So, I can't blame them, really. However, there is a need for a major magazine for real country music fans that want in depth, hard core country music insight.

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