2008 Music Sales Down...Big Time.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The final numbers are in for 2008 music sales by The Nielsen Company.

2008 music sales were down 8.5% in total. Actual CD sales were down 20%. Digital sales were up 32%. Digital sales were over 1 billion for the first time.

2008 country music sales overall were down 14%, the second biggest loss by any genre. Classical music saw the most decline. Sales of digital downloads were up 27% in 2008 country music sales numbers.

Many more numbers I'm sure will be coming out in the next days and most certainly this will be talked about by many with very many opinions and thoughts.

Country Music Alive's Predictions: Year In Review 2008

Thinking about what to expect the upcoming year, I really don't know what to expect. I am not even sure if I can predict anything this year, but, I will give it a try.

I will predict that we will hear something else from Garth Brooks this year, again. Not sure what it will be, but something will be newsworthy. Whether another CD project, video project, or concert tour... we will hear something from him.

Should I predict, for another year, that George Strait will retire his career? Sure... one more album from his I believe in 2009 and a farewell tour announcement...

I also predict that we will see a new album from Shania Twain this year.

Country music sales will be flat in the upcoming year I predict. Digital sales will skyrocket, more than even we have seen thus far. This upcoming year will be all about turning away from physical CD sales and going to downloading music.

Satellite radio will become an even more major attribute to the music industry and country music fans will be leading the way of understanding the power of satellite radio.

Also, I have a feeling of some type of major announcement or change at the Grand Ole Opry. Not sure what it will be or anything, but I think it will be a big year for them, negative or positive.

Just predictions... and now we wait a year to see what happens....

Country Music Alive: 2008 Year In Review

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Looking back on Country Music Alive this past year, it has certainly been very exciting.

The website was re-designed and given a bit of a facelift much earlier in the year, and another one is planned upcoming in the upcoming year. The Country Music Alive Blog was given a new look and just last week, new features coming for 2009.

Twitter became apart of Country Music Alive this year. A lot of great updates and short comments made on that site throughout the year on the site including live Twitter updates from a Toby Keith concert and during the CMA Awards.

The Blog has been its most successful than ever in the past year. I am truly amazed by the support you all, my readers, have given this past year. With over 175 posts and over 23,000 hits this year, I am so grateful to all you and hope for an even better 2009.

If you have been a supporter of the Blog the past year, you have been a part of comprehensive coverage of the CMA Awards, The Hall of Fame Inductees biographies, a comprehensive review of Toby Keith's concert stop in Virginia Beach, and chances to download 4 free songs, and 10 contest chances. Lucky winners were rewarded with a Toby Keith Greatest Hits CD, a Willie Nelson boxset, an autographed Jewel CD, and autographed John Michael Montgomery CD, and 5 Toby Keith CDs and autographed pictures during Toby Keith week coinciding with the release of his new album. It has been a great year for Country Music Alive on the blog.

Many posts have caught your attention this year. Many different commentary posts continue to be popular to this day, even though they may have been written many months ago. The past year, I have enjoyed more comments than ever left on posts, and I greatly appreciative of your feedback.

I even noticed a lot of news and information posts throughout the year, including one post in February mentioning the chance of a Brad Paisley instrumental album that became a reality in November.

So, indeed this has been a great year for Country Music Alive. I can not wait to begin 2009 and bring you an even better year full of exciting plans for the Blog in the upcoming days, weeks, and months.

I can't express my sincere appreciation for each and every visitor to the site and I invite and hope that you will visit regularly to allow me to continue to share my love of country music with you.

Have a safe and very happy new year....

Kirk Fitzgerald

Country Music Alive

Country Music Charts: 2008 In Review

Monday, December 29, 2008

Reported by Billboard's December 20, 2008 issue, here is the year in ending charts with country music interest. Billboard's reportings are based off of sales.

Top 50 Artists

5. Taylor Swift

13. Carrie Underwood

21. Sugarland

34. George Strait

35. Rascal Flatts

36. Kenny Chesney

40. Brad Paisley

50. Garth Brooks

Top 200 Albums

5. Taylor Swift - Taylor Swift

9. Carnival Ride- Carrie Underwood

10. The Ultimate Hits-Garth Brooks

28. Still Feels Good-Rascal Flatts

29. Love on the Inside-Sugarland

30. Enjoy the Ride-Sugarland

39. Raising Sand-Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

49. Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates-Kenny Chesney

52. Reba Duets-Reba McEntire and Various Artists

58. Greatest Hits-Keith Urban

61. Troubador-George Strait

66. Fearless-Taylor Swift

67. Good Time-Alan Jackson

80. 5th Gear-Brad Paisley

82. 35 Biggest Hits-Toby Keith

87. 22 More Hits-George Strait

89. Some Hearts-Carrie Underwood

103. Everything Is Fine-Josh Turner

111. Lucky Old Sun-Kenny Chesney

112. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend-Miranda Lambert

132. Sunset Man-James Otto

134. Lady Antebellum-Lady Antebellum

143. Living Hard-Gary Allan

167. If You're Going Through Hell-Rodney Atkins

172. Let It Go-Tim McGraw

174. A Toby Keith Classic Christmas-Toby Keith

181. Greatest Hits Limited Edition-Tim McGraw

192. Beautiful Eyes (EP)-Taylor Swift

194. Julianne Hough-Julianne Hough

198. Learn to Live-Darius Rucker

Top New Country Artists

1. Lady Antebullum
2. Heidi Newfield
3. Julianne Hough
4. Ashton Shepherd
5. Zac Brown Band

Top Country Labels

1. Sony BMG
2. Universal Music Group
3. Capitol Nashville
4. Big Machine
5. Lyric Street

Hot Country Songs

1. Just Got Started Lovin' You-James Otto
2. I Saw God Today-George Strait
3. Small Town Southern Man-Alan Jackson
4. Don't Think I Don't Think About It-Darius Rucker
5. Home-Blake Shelton
6. Love Is A Bautiful Thing-Phil Vassar
7. You're Gonna Miss This-Trace Adkins
8. I Still Miss You-Keith Anderson
9. Cleaning This Gun-Rodney Atkins
10. I'm Still A Guy-Brad Paisley

Country Music MediaBase/Aircheck Charts, based off of radio airplay. These charts ran in the December 2008 edition.

Top 10 Country Songs

1. Just Got Started Lovin' You-James Otto
2. You're Gonna Miss This-Trace Adkins
3. Cleaning This Gun-Rodney Atkins
4. What Kinda Gone-Chris Cagle
5. I Saw God Today-George Strait
6. Small Town Southern Man-Alan Jackson
7. Letter To Me-Brad Paisley
8. Home-Blake Shelton
9. I'm Still A Guy-Brad Paisley
10. Love Is A Beautiful Thing-Phil Vassar

Top Overall Performers

1. Kenny Chesney
2. Brad Paisley
3. Carrie Underwood
4. Taylor Swift
5. George Strait

Top Female Performers

1. Carrie Underwood
2. Taylor Swift
3. Miranda Lambert
4. Kellie Pickler
5. Ashton Shepherd

Top Male Performers

1. Kenny Chesney
2. Brad Paisley
3. Carrie Underwood
4. Alan Jackson
5. Keith Urban

Top Group Performers

1. Rascal Flatts
2. Montgomery Gentry
3. Sugarland
4. Lady Antebellum
5. Brooks & Dunn

Country Music News: 2008 In Review

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Christmas holiday has come to an end. The children are playing with their new toys as the adults enjoy their toys as well. Exchanges and returns are ongoing at the retail stores, and maybe a few gift cards are being spent on gifts that weren't received or already had been delegated for that gift card use. In these final few days of 2008, we take the time to reflect on the past year.

Country music's past year has been more about a few topics that have evolved throughout the year, rather than specific events. The explosion of cross-over artists into country music (Jessica Simpson, Jewel, Kevin Costner, and Darius Rucker to name a few) has been one of the hot topics of this past year. An ongoing conversation will continue into the new year on the success of these artists have done in country music. Darius Rucker certainly has had the most success of these artists, including a number one hit for him on the country charts; the first number one country music hit for an African-American artist in 25 years.

A heated ongoing topic over the past year, that has been ongoing for a couple years now, has been the "new country" or "pop-country" sound in country music. This topic will also be very alive and well into the New Year.

The biggest story of the year, however, is not only a country music issue, rather an issue with the music industry as a whole. Yes, you already guessed it... the economic impact on the industry. Thus far, CD sales were down about 16% on the year in total. Digital sales were up a considerable 28%...just another indication to the digital age coming to music as a whole. The grim actual numbers will not be available until the year ends, of course.

News/Talk radio this year has become the leader in overall radio station formats. Up until this year, country music held the largest number of radio station formats. Now, news/talk takes over by just 40 stations (2,064.) In the past year, 30 country radio stations have gone away, yet, news/talk formats have grown by 40. No other format even comes close to these two formats. For example, the 3rd most format style, Contemporary Christian holds 945 stations.

The XM and Sirius Satellite Radio merger took place this year, with a new lineup for satellite subscriber's radios back in November. Luckily, country music fans didn't see much of a change, with the exception of losing the WSIX radio simulcast.

The Country Music Association celebrated 50 years of serving country music this year. The CMA Awards crowned Kenny Chesney as Entertainer of the Year. Shania Twain made a surprise appearance during the awards show that was co-hosted by Brad Paisley (Male Vocalist of the Year) and Carrie Underwood (Female Vocalist of the Year)... the current Male and Female Vocalist of the Year. The Academy of Country Music awarded Kenny Chesney (including the fans in part of the decision process for the very first time,) Brad Paisley, and Carrie Underwood the same awards as well during there show in the spring.

Many country artists this year welcomed new additions to their family... Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Darryl Worley, Joe Don Rooney, Martie Maguire, Clay Walker, Dierks Bentley, and Josh Gracin. There is something certainly in the water in Nashville.

With births, there is also death. This year country music lost 4 legends...Ken Nelson on January 6th at age 96, Eddy Arnold on May 8th at the age of 89, Jerry Reed on September 1st at age 71, and Charlie Walker on September 12th at age 81.

Independent labels had more success in 2008 with artists such as Taylor Swift. Oh, yes, Taylor Swift. Her highly-anticipated sophomore album "Fearless" was released on November 11th and sold 592,000 units in the first week. Sales of her debut album remained strong as her career. It seems not a week went by that there wasn't a story about Swift's amazing success. However, in the final month of 2008, Equity Music Group shut its doors commenting on the status of economy and not able to secure credit as reasoning for the closure of the label.

New artists that came along in 2008 were many of the crossover artists as well as The Lost Trailers, Lady Antebellum, James Otto, Chuck Wicks, and The Zac Brown Band with their debut single "Chicken Fried."

Did I mention Taylor Swift? With album sales alone, this past year is owned by her... she is at the top of all the country year-ending charts. Her name can't be mentioned enough as we look back on this year in country music. She was on magazine covers, celebrity news websites, television shows, and magazines. She also made covers of music magazines. Oh, in her personal life, she had a big year... at the age of 18, graduating from high school just may be her biggest accomplishment of 2008, along with her career successes.

Reflecting back the past year has had its high points and its low points. I guess that certainly fits a music genre that is about life and its ups and downs.....

Country Music Alive Blog Changes in 2009

Friday, December 26, 2008

Some new features will be beginning in 2009 on this blog for you to look forward to.

My focus in the latter portion of the past year has been on the blog, and that is because I notice the level of traffic here is more busy than the actual website. Also, the blog is more focused in what visitors are searching for. So, a lot of the information that would normally be published to the website only will now be featured on a regular basis to the blog (here.) I have learned that the blog is the best way to share information with country music fans, rather than publishing on the website.

With that said, the website will still be live and running. However, it will be re-designed in the first weeks of 2009. A few features will be moved, removed, etc.

Of course, the schedule and features I am about to discuss will be subject to change due to my work schedule and other things ongoing in my life, but I am going to be trying my best to keep a more routine posting schedule. Even more so than what you have seen in the last months of 2008. I do already know that March will be limited on what you will see on the blog. Some of the new features can be loaded into the system early and then released on a time that I set, so a lot of the regular features will be posted even if I am not actually available to the computer on that day to publish it then.

Some of the features will start immediately, some will be rolled out through the year. Some will be weekly, some occasional features, just whatever seems to fit the blog.

New Features in 2009:

Visitor/Reader Response and Feedback
This feature I hope will be very useful and I'm very excited about it. At least once a week, I will look at some of the search terms that had people come to the blog and if it appears they didn't find the information they were looking for, I will respond to their search. Also, I will be answering an questions that I receive in e-mail that may be of interest to others. So, if you search for something through a search engine, and you arrive on my blog, return back and the answer you were looking for, and may have not been able to exactly find what you were searching, just may be answered.

CMA Close-Up Articles
Each week, The Country Music Association releases an article that is published for distribution free of charge to those that wish to use it. Each and everyone of these articles are very interesting and informative. In the past, I have published them on the website. Now, I will be featuring them every week on the blog. You may already see these articles on other websites and blogs, however, I believe that they should be published in as many places possible so that everyone can enjoy them.

More Album Reviews
Hopefully, every week there will be at least one album review. It may be a brand new release or it may be an album from many years ago.

Album Release Dates
This is the most popular feature on the website, and now it will come to the blog. I compile the list myself, and then check other resources online to ensure it is the most comprehensive anywhere. Each week, the list for the upcoming week will be published on the blog, and mentions of any new updates to the list will be mentioned. You will be provided with links to pre-order for the upcoming week right from the website.

Country Music Alive Combined Country Music Chart
A lot of my readers seem to really enjoy chart information. So, a feature of Country Music Alive is returning. Once a week, the Country Music Alive Combined Country Chart is returning. Basically, the chart averages in all the different charts that can be found into one list.

Country Music Alive's Picks of the Week
A listing of albums or songs that have peaked my interest in the past week. It could be new or old... whatever is in my player that week makes the list of suggested listens for you

Continued Commentary
What you are accustomed to from the blog will remain. Commentary and remarks on news and issues in the country music world. Nothing will be changed from what you find here now, only enhancements and more regular posts.

Special Series
There may be special series of articles posted during the year as well. Articles relating to a certain topic in county music, event, or well, who knows what may be of topic in a series of several posts.

I hope that 2009 will be the most exciting and information-packed year for the blog ever. I hope you will go ahead and tell your country music loving friends, family, and co-workers about the upcoming changes to Country Music Alive and can't wait for your continued support in the upcoming year...

Merry Christmas...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

This is such a special time of year... every year it seems the world gets busier and busier. More commercialization than ever that begins the holiday season earlier and earlier. It's sad. We truly forget the true meaning of Christmas, Don't we? I'm not even meaning the spirit of Christmas. I mean the literal and absolute true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Christ. As you celebrate, remember the true meaning of this time of year.

Now, there is the spirit of the time of year, displayed through the Christmas lights, the giving of presents, and all other traditions, yet, remember, the meaning behind those special traditions. Christmas is also about family...A time of family in celebration of this amazing time of year.

Don't get caught up in the shopping, the sales, the parties, the giving of presents, and all the other events of what has become the season of current. Remember the true meaning and the spirit of Christmas.

As you gather with your families and friends, I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas celebration full of love, remembrance, and of course celebration on this wonderful day that comes one time a year.

And oh yes, I would be amiss if I didn't remind you to not forget all the great Christmas country music to share with them as you gather.

Merry Christmas everyone...

Kirk Fitzgerald

Country Music Alive

Mark Chesnutt's Comments on Taylor Swift Not Country

I ran across a blog entry over on CMT. Com titled "Mark Chesnutt Has Nothing Against Taylor Swift, But...." Well, when I read this one, I immediately knew my fingers would be conversing with you on this topic.

The article mentions a comment that Mark Chesnutt made on December 17 to The Salt Lake Tribune as he was promoting a concert stop there. Chesnutt's comment was "Nothing against her, but Taylor Swift is not traditional."

At first, I was like "duh," why was this being wrote about. Then, I noticed the posting included over 50 comments. I was amazed. Chesnutt is most certainly right. She is apart of the whole pop-country population of country music, just like I wrote about a few posts back. She isn't traditional country, like Chesnutt is most certainly is.

Now, my first issue comes with the writer of the blog entry. The blog begins like this:

When your career's not skyrocketing quite the way you planned, you have two choices. You can go with the flow and hope to ride the coattails of change. Or you can sound off about sticking to your roots, no matter how bitter it makes you seem.

Well. I don't believe that it has to do anything with his career. He most certainly has had a successful career, and continues to perform. Chesnutt would have made them same exact comment if he was at the top of the charts right now. But the above lines really got to me. Here is an artist that stands for tradition of true country music and takes pride in his artistic expression and the writer believes that he has two choices; either to sound off or ride the coattails... Please, he should be applauded (as I am) for his comments and in no way should an artist ever change to be consistent with the "popular" sound. He's not bitter; he is speaking the truth and being honest... nothing wrong with sharing his opinion, especially when asked.

Then, we have over 50 comments on this subject. From my count, 28 pro-Chesnutt remarks, 11 con-Chesnutt, and 15 or so that were commenting on other comments or had no opinion. So... 28-11. That in itself says a lot about country music's current trend of pop-country. The fans of country music are dying for the true sound. Maybe one day.

The comments ranged from someone saying that his comment made them want to go buy every album Chesnutt has recorded, thanking him for standing up, and another really interesting point made about how no longer that the artists pay their dues by playing for tips, on the street, anywhere they can for however how long for pennies to "make it" in the country music business. So very true now thinking about it, well, anyway, that's another day's post.

Some of the negative comments included things such as Chesnutt is jealous, rude, distasteful, and thinks Swift is country because she wins the awards and things. (Ha. That's funny.) Then there was the comment that traditional country is for grandparents and pop-country is for younger people. That's sad that this thought is out there.

With that sad, I am certainly glad mark Chesnutt said what he did and even more happy to see overall, people understand what he did say and majority believe in what he said. There is such a strong line between pop and traditional country music. I certainly hope in 2009 that some of the thoughts of true country music fans are heard and begin to hear true country music again.

Equity Music Group Suspends Operations

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Just a few days after my post of the economic impact, we learn Equity Music Group has suspended operations immediately (announced yesterday.) About 15 employees are now without jobs, and co-founder Clint Black, and his signed artists Laura Bryna, Carolina Rain, Kevin Fowler, and Blake Wise are left waiting for a decision on what the label's future is.

From reading as much as I could from the news reports, the suspension of the label isn't dealing with talent of artists or the very interesting concept of how the artists were compensated for the works, rather, this statement was reported:

"Our investors tried to find a way to keep the doors open at Equity, but with a struggling industry, an overall decline in discretionary spending by consumers and a freeze on credit markets, the board of directors have been forced to make this difficult decision. We want to wish our wonderful staff and artists all the best in their future endeavors."

The statement doesn't seem to mention anything about the label itself being the problem. Nothing noted about how the label and the artists are equal; the artist and the label get paid based on each album sale. Nothing about being independent making a difference is noted either (however being a small company, they sure don't have the funds like the larger labels to sustain in times of financial hardships.) It does mention the credit markets and the spending habits of consumers. That's the issue here, not anything else I believe.

The label was launched in 2003, and I remember reporting about it and what an interesting concept this was, and how awesome it was to have Clint Black on his own label. The music he released on his label certainly was incredible, some of his best works, no doubt. I am going to miss this label. I certainly hope that Clint Black will continue to find an outlet for his music and that the idea of a business model like his vision can return.

The reports quoted one more line in the reports on this topic quoting the statement released... "It's a sad day at Equity today"... well, its sad day for country music as well...

Thoughts on Country Music Today

Sunday, December 14, 2008

These thoughts have been building up in me awhile now. Finally a catalyst came along to put it into prospective with facts. Rolling Stone has released their best of 2008 lists (best albums and best singles.) Now, after Christmas I will get into the year-in-review postings, but this list brings up such a strong point that I have with country music today.

First; the list…Top 100 singles only 3 songs from the country music world made the list. In fact, you have to make it all the way to #38 before you find a country music song:

  • #38 Jamey Johnson "High Cost of Living"

  • #46 Taylor Swift "Fifteen"

  • #52 Lee Ann Womack "Last Call"

The top 50 album list has 2 country albums. Yes, you read that right as well.

  • #32 Jamey Johnson "The Lonesome Song"

  • #39 Taylor Swift "Fearless"

Now, this writing is not about Rolling Stone and not being nice to country music. It’s not their issue... its country music's issue. The editors and writers at Rolling Stone understand music and know what is good and what isn't. They know what a country album is truly and what isn't. Just look at the songs. Lee Ann Womack and Jamey Johnson... Taylor Swift makes the list I believe for more of a pop concentration, that her country music accolades.

I wish I had the time to go through every single artist of today and categorize them if they are country or not. Country music today is hurting for a return to the true country music roots. Don't tell me everything you hear on the radio is country music...no way, no how. Pop-country is not country music. Just because you may know who is, heard a song from them as a child, and record an album on a country label, it doesn't make it a country song or make you a country artist. There is no written test, no requirements, no geographic location that can make you a true country artist. Its something deeper than that... something down in your soul and style of life.

If you are agreeing with me, then I have high respect for you and your country music listening prospective. If you don't, no, I'm not saying you are not a country music fan. I am indeed saying possibly a couple things. 1) You like pop-country. No problem, I enjoy it too. 2) You believe whatever is given to you on the radio is country because you don't know any better. I can understand that too, if someone says it is, then why not believe it.

Looking at the current top 25 country songs, I'd guess about 50% I would consider true country music, and that is being very conservative. I won't go into which is and isn't here.

The major labels of country music need to wake up and understand fully how they are treating the music. Country music fans want real country music, not pop. However, there is a problem. There is a market for pop-country. They think it would sell and want to release it to make money. That’s the ultimate goal in the music business, right?

So…what do they do? They allow these artists to make their music and release it on a country label. There is also an issue that some artists that are truly country music artists are not given full freedom to record what they want. The reason has been given so many times; you may already think it... It’s too country...

First. There is not a song in this world that could be "too country," believe me. The lyrics to the song "Too Country" written by the great Bill Anderson and Chuck Cannon speak volumes on this topic (sung by Bill Anderson and Brad Paisley.) There is no such thing as too country.

So, we have this problem on our hands. There has to be a solution.

I think the best solution comes in branding. Each label should have 2 logos. Don't even have to branch off into different labels as far as behind the scenes, but to the consumer... have 2 logos, one for the pop-country artists and then another label for their true country music artists that have more total control over their artistic expression is delivered to the fans.

The next problem would arise on where the current labels go where. Now, some would be very easy. Then, there would be some in the middle. Those artists would then need to decide if they want to really perform country music for the tradition and history of the music style or would they rather not and go to a more of a pop sound.

That right there would take care of the issue. The support I expect for the real country music artists would be so strong. There is a demand for true country music for real country music fans.

This would never happen. Why, well many reasons. 1) The labels would have to concede that what they actually market as real country music isn’t. 2) The same people making the decisions today of what’s on a country label would making these decisions, so, we are back to where we started. 3) They would have to give artistic control over to the artist to make the decisions of what would sell, what will be a hit song on the real country music albums. The label would think that would put way too much on the line, especially for a new artist to make that call (even though I almost would guarantee you the artist could do a better job of making that decision.) 4) Labels go with the status quo. If it seems to be working, well, why change it? What if it doesn't work...Etc.?

Maybe one day, I will awake, and there will be a return to tradition of country music fully... But I doubt it.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, why I support pop-country by writing about it or talking about it. Well, I have an answer for you. I am a music lover. I also enjoy so many other types of music…classic rock, oldies, new rock, some pop, heck even some classical. You name the genre, I probably can at least mention a song or two that I like and find talent in. With that said however, the vast majority of my listening time I love my country music beyond the human thought process and that goes for all of the sounds of Nashville. I love country music as a whole. I just believe there is an extremely skewed thought process of what is truly country music. There is no checklist or magic wand that can categorize what is and isn't, nor what is good or bad music from Nashville.

It is all about the heart and soul of the artist and their true focus. Is making a true traditional country music that would bring a smile to their face to hear, or are your priorities a little different, yet still honestly believes in the music of Nashville? Either answer is welcome in my music player....

What do you think? More importantly, why do you think that way?

Thoughts on "Is Country Music Recession Proof" CMT Article

I read a great article over on CMT that was titled "Is Country Music Recession Proof?" by Chet Flippo (If you haven't ever read Nashville Skyline on CMT.com, I highly suggest it.) It really got me thinking about the issue....

In the past few weeks, there has been a lot of talk about the state of the economy, recession, loss of jobs, and the closing of large and small companies. It is a really scary time right now for so very many Americans. No matter what line of work you are in, you just never know what tomorrow will bring. It seems every sector of the economy is effected in someway.

I have not heard much discussion, however, how the music industry is being affected, more specifically country music. The sales are down, yes, howver, I am thinking that the lower sales in country music may not just because of economic issues. Yes, thats a part of it. However, I think there is a much deeper reason. Issues such as supply of albums, a departing from country tradition in the artists, and lack of new releases, at times.

Is it too early to tell what the impact is on the industry? Not really. The financial gods have spoken that this recession has been in force since last December (I know, really, breaking news for sure.) Now, it may be too early to see what impact there is from the most recent issues such as the automobile industry and all the layoffs in the past few weeks. However, overall, looking at the numbers, we should be able to see this impact already.

So, with that said, lets look at the numbers. Um, well, wait a minute, do I have access to the numbers to support one way or another? Well, sorta. The best information I can find is from October: In the end of the third quarter, country album sales were down 16.7 percent. Overall album sales were down 12 percent. So. It would take hours of reading financial reports and such to figure it out, and even then, I doubt I could grab just country music sales for each label and such easily. The effects of the recession are already being felt. Country is still thriving and alive. We may see some in the future an even slower pace of releasing albums, a few artists cuts, or something like that. Possibly even job cuts. Sure, just like any other industry in the United States right now.

Country music may be impacted, but in no way would country music go away. Country music is at the deepest roots of America. It is profitable, even with sales down. In times of hardship, I am willing to bet listening to country music may go up. They may not be buying as much, but listening to their already purchased collections. Remember, country music is about life. All aspects in life. From the happiest times to the saddest. Country music takes it all in. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, and every emotion in between, I guarantee you, there is a song for it.

The roots are so strong in country music. Its rich history of past shows that the music survives, and I certainly believe it will always be around. Sure the business end of the business may feel a little rocky, but they pull on through.

One side note, if a friend or family member has lost their job, house, or whatever during these times, don't ever forget the power of music, specifically, country music. You just may make their day or light a fire in the soul to pick up their lives and start to move on...

The Unreleased Recordings of Hank Williams Sr.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A recently released boxset from Time Life came across my desk recently, and when I looked at it, I was pretty amazed what I had in my hands. Its history. Country music's first real superstar's unreleased recordings. I popped the first of the 3 CDs into the computer, and I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Amazing stuff. You see, this boxset is recordings of Hank Williams Sr. Not just actual singing, but his voice too, at times. You get the chance to actually hear a bit of introduction to some of the songs.

Also, I keep having to remind myself, this collection, until now, have never been heard by the public. In fact, these tracks are in country history already for its lengthy legal battle to be released. These recordings were purged from WSM-AM's storage and were being thrown away since legally that would not be able to use them. A very smart photographer from WSM saved them from the dumpster and held on to them. He also knew he couldn't do anything with them for legal reasons, but kept them in self keeping. They were turned over to Jett Williams (Hank's daughter) and her attorney. A copy did get out, and they were released unauthorized with
removing “skips” and hissing noises present in the originals and by adding additional background music. After many years of legal battles, it came to an end with the Williams' Estate winning the case. Here are 3 links for further reading:


The boxset takes you to the peak of his career in 1951. Hank Williams recorded 143 songs for the Mother's Best Flour Company that were aired in a 15 minute program that aired in the mornings.. Hank sang with his regular studio band. From this amazing legacy, Time Life is proud to release this historic 3 CD, 54 track collection drawn from the very best of the Mother's Best recordings.

Inside the CD holder, there is a 40 page booklet that is beyond belief. It contains many pictures of Hank Williams Sr, A opening letter from Jett Williams, a history of Hank Williams in the time that these recordings were made, and then comments about each and every song on the 3 discs. Then, a listing of the tracks. It is put together so very well. This is a keepsake that is meant to be played over and over.

This collection is a must have for any true country music fan. If you have any other recordings of Hank Williams Sr, you need this collection. If you have heard of Hank Williams Sr. and want to learn more about him, you need this collection. If you love the historical side of country music, you need this collection. Believe me, serious country music fans.

Now don't let the word boxset scare you away from the set. First, its only 3 discs. However, the 3 discs are 18 tracks long and each and every one of the 54 tracks are worth the small price alone. Amazon has the boxset for $28.99, so it is not expensive at all. You will be blown away by the book and the music.

I hope you will look into this great collection, it is an important part of the history of country music.

Sing With The King.. "Elvis Presley Christmas Duets"

Friday, December 12, 2008

Looking for something fun to do for a moment? How about your own Christmas e-card featuring a duet with you and Elvis? Pretty cool huh? Here is how it works. Go to http://www.singwiththeking.com/ and call the phone number provided. Type in your ID # on the screen and sing-a-long with the lyrics on your screen. The call is toll-free and it takes 2 minutes exactly to do it. Then click continue and you are ready to send the e-card out to all your friends singing along with Elvis! Pretty fun.

Add Elvis to your page

Now, if you didn't sound so good, you can listen to people do it a little bit better, oh like say... LeAnn Rimes, Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, Wynonna Judd, Sara Evans, Amy Grant, Gretchen Wilson, Little Big Town, Ann Murray, and Olivia Newton John. Then, there are 3 new recordings of Elvis Christmas songs as well. "Elvis Presley Christmas Duets" is available now on CD or for download DRM-free from Amazon.com. Check out all the features above including the videos, there 3 there for you to check out.

Technology is amazing isn't it? I mean, the e-card... your own voice recorded with Elvis? Then, being able to hear duets with Elvis that were created long after his death on a CD or download? The above video with Martina McBride walking on stage with Elvis, and she wasn't there? Pretty amazing, I'd say.

Country Music Gifts: The Gifts of Charity

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Yesterday, I wrote about some gift ideas for Christmas. Now, today, I want to focus on the spirit of true giving. The giving to charities this time of year. This is also a great idea for gifts. You can give in the name of someone else.

There several great charities relating to country music directly or that the country music community is directly involved with in some way.

Now, these are only suggestions of country music related charities that I know of, please post a comment with others if you know any others of interest to the readers. Before donating, please, do you own research on these charities. Learn about them more and do you homework in checking out their business practices.

The Opry Trust Fund
Started in 1965, the Opry Trust Fund’s mission is to help those in the country music industry when they need it the most, by offering financial assistance during their time of need. Since its inception, the Opry Trust Fund has distributed more than $2 million. Examples of distribution include medical bills, living expenses, rent or mortgage, utilities, and food. Any individual who has been employed full time in some facet of the country music industry (i.e. performer, songwriter, publisher, radio, session musician, etc.) may be eligible to benefit from the Opry Trust Fund.

To make a contribution you can send a check or money order to:

Opry Trust Fund
2804 Opryland Drive
Nashville, Tennessee 37214
For additional information:
Phone: (615) 316-6174
Fax: (615) 458-0440

St. Jude Children's Hospital

St. Jude is unlike any other pediatric treatment and research facility. Discoveries made here have completely changed how the world treats children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. With research and patient care under one roof, St. Jude is where some of today's most gifted researchers are able to do science more quickly.

All patients accepted for treatment at St. Jude are treated without regard to the family's ability to pay. St. Jude covers all costs of treatment at St. Jude beyond those reimbursed by third-party insurers, and total costs at St. Jude when no insurance is available. St. Jude also provides assistance with transportation costs and local living expenses during treatments

The country music community highly supports this cause, in fact it just may be the most supported charity in country music through Country Cares For St. Jude's Kids founded by Randy Owen that sponsors radio-thons on hundreds of country radio stations. Country artists support the charity in many different fundraisers and public outreach projects, including visits to the hospital itself in Memphis, TN.

There many ways to donate to this cause. Visit http://www.stjude.org for more information, including online donations. Click on "donate now" in the upper right. At very least, explore the website to learn more about this great cause.

City of Hope

City of Hope is recognized worldwide for its compassionate patient care, innovative science and translational research, which rapidly turns laboratory breakthroughs into promising new therapies. We are one of only 40 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers nationwide and a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. An independent biomedical research, treatment and education institution, we are a leader in the fight to conquer cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases.

On our park-like campus just northeast of Los Angeles, researchers advance ideas into discoveries, physicians bring emerging therapies to patients, and students learn to transform the landscape of modern medicine – all supported by the generosity of philanthropists from across the country. Every day we pursue new and better ways to improve the lives of men, women and children here and around the world – and have for almost 100 years.

The annual celebrity softball game during The CMA Music Festival supports this charity, among other fundraisers that country artists participate in.

Visit http://www.cityofhope.org for much more information and can also make donations online.

Reading, Writing, and Rhythm

Reading, Writing, and Rhythm is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving music education in America's public schools. Country music artist, Chely Wright , founded this charity to donate musical instruments to schools in need all over the nation and to raise public awareness of the importance of music education for our nation's youth.

You can donate online or by money order/check to:

Reading, Writing, and Rhythm
P. O. Box 1605
Belton, MO 64012

Visit http://www.rwandr.org/ for more information and to donate.

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross services domestic disaster relief, but also The American Red Cross offers compassionate services in five other areas: community services that help the needy; support and comfort for military members and their families; the collection, processing and distribution of lifesaving blood and blood products; educational programs that promote health and safety; and international relief and development programs.

The American Red Cross is where people mobilize to help their neighbors—across the street, across the country, and across the world—in emergencies. Each year, in communities large and small, victims of some 70,000 disasters turn to neighbors familiar and new—the more than half a million volunteers and 35,000 employees of the Red Cross. Through over 700 locally supported chapters, more than 15 million people gain the skills they need to prepare for and respond to emergencies in their homes, communities and world.

Some four million people give blood—the gift of life—through the Red Cross, making it the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. And the Red Cross helps thousands of U.S. service members separated from their families by military duty stay connected. As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, a global network of 186 national societies, the Red Cross helps restore hope and dignity to the world's most vulnerable people.
An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.

The country music community supports this charity often, especially after natural disasters and other routine charitable fundraising events.

For more information, visit http://www.redcross.org including online donation and other ways of donating assistance.

Country Music Christmas Gift List

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas is getting so very close. Do you have your Christmas gifts for your country music fan yet? It's a bit hard huh? You probably know that single CDs aren't the best gift, because you never know what they have already or will buy between now and Christmas. Gift cards are decent ideas, but still sometimes you want to give more than a gift card... so, I am here to help you out for sure. There several books and country music related gifts out there...

Now, if you do want to go with the gift certificate, I have a few suggestions. Amazon.com gift certificates can be great because they offer anything they can imagine. They offer MP3 downloads that are DRM-free, meaning they do have the copyright limitations that songs from I-Tunes has. So, they will play anywhere and don't have to worry about having multiple copies or not being able to burn them. I-Tunes gift cards are also nice, especially if they own an I-Pod. Another cool idea is a Ticketmaster gift card! That would help the country music fan a lot on buying concert tickets anytime during the year. On the right, you will find links to all the above websites to order those.

If you are wanting a great DVD collection, the HeeHaw DVD set from Time Life is an amazing gift. Time Life offers so many great collections that would bring a smile on the face of a country music fan. Links to Tim Life are also on the right.

Here are a few selections that would be great for the country music fan!

Country Music Trivia Board Game
This is really fun. This is a board game that has tons of trivia questions that even if you don't play the actual game, a country music fan would love to look through the questions and answers. ($19.95 from the link above to Amazon.com)

The Encyclopedia of Country Music: The Ultimate Guide to the Music
This is a must own resource for any country music fan. Its huge and includes so much information, they will be in awe. I own the hardback version of the book, and you can imagine, I use it routinely. ($26.37 from the link above to Amazon.com)

Country Music Trivia: Country Music Hall of Fame
Here is a fun little book of trivia that still keeps me entertained. The trivia is written almost in test form. You can guess the answers, then look them up in the back. A great little book. ($0.07 from the link above to Amazon.com)

Born Country: How Faith, Family, and Music Brought Me Home by Randy Owen
This book I reviewed back in November and would be a great gift for the fan of Alabama. A enjoyable read that gives a great insight into the lead singer Randy Owen's life. ($17.13 from the link above to Amazon.com)

Pioneer GEX-INNO2BK Inno 2 Portable XM Satellite Radio with MP3 Capability
I own this unit. XM Radio is the ultimate way of enjoying country music. This specific receiver is unique because it has a MP3 player built in as well. It also can record songs from XM. It is one of the best units I've ever owned for XM. Before buying, keep in mind, there is a subscription fee for service of $12.95/month. So, may want to check with them before buying. ($114.99 from the link above from Amazon.com. $12.95/month XM subscription required)

Hank Williams Sr. "The Unreleased Recordings" Box Set
I know, I said stay away from CDs, well, this particular box set just came out in late October. It is a 3 CD box set of recordings from Hank Williams Sr. It is fully authorized by his estate and the sex comes in a really nice 39 page book. If they have any interest in country music, especially classic country, this is a must own. It may be for the older fan, rather than a teenager. ($28.99 from the link above to Amazon.com)

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum: 2009 Wall Calendar
I am adding this to my wish list. Its a wall calendar that is full of country music dates and such, along with artist photos at the top. Really cool idea for a gift that will be used all year. Heck, you will have an idea for next year too! ($12.59 from the link above to Amazon.com)

Amazon.com offers free shipping of orders of $25 or more. You must order by Wednesday December 17th for Christmas delivery. Standard shipping cut-off is December 18th. Monday December 22 at 3pm PST is cut-off for 2 day shipping. One day shipping cut-off is December 23 at 3pm PST.

A Bit New Look

As you can see, the blog has a bit of a new look to it!  I thought it was time for a change, I think I've used the same template since this blog began.  I hope you like the look, but don't worry, this is only the first of a few changes here.  I'll be working on colors and things pretty soon.  For now though, I am pretty happy with it!

This new look will give me more room to grow and such in the upcoming year.  I'm expecting to do some new things in January... so stay tuned.

Thanks for your support and remember to keep visitng very often!

2008 Country Music Related Grammy Nominations

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The nominations for The Grammy's have been announced! There is no higher award in music than winning a Grammy. The nomination itself is thought of one of the highest honors. You are instantly apart of history... There 110 categories in 31 different fields. You can view the entire list of nominations at http://www/,grammy.com

The 51st Annual Grammy Awards will be aired live from The Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA on CBS from 8-11:30pm EST.

Here are the nominations from the General Field and Country Field with other categories included that are reveleant to country music artists:

Category 1

Record Of The Year

(Award to the Artist and to the Producer(s), Recording Engineer(s) and/or
Mixer(s), if other than the artist.)

  • Chasing Pavements
    Eg White, producer; Tom Elmhirst & Steve Price, engineers/mixers
    Track from: 19
    [XL Recordings/Columbia]

  • Viva La Vida
    Markus Dravs, Brian Eno & Rik Simpson, producers; Michael Brauer & Rik
    Simpson, engineers/mixers
    Track from: Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends
    [Capitol Records]

  • Bleeding Love
    Leona Lewis
    Simon Cowell, Clive Davis & Ryan "Alias" Tedder, producers; Craig Durrance,
    Phil Tan & Ryan "Alias" Tedder, engineers/mixers
    [J Records/SYCO Music]

  • Paper Planes
    Diplo, producer; Switch, engineer/mixer
    Track from: Kala

  • Please Read The Letter
    Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
    T Bone Burnett, producer; Mike Piersante, engineer/mixer
    Track from: Raising Sand

Category 4
Best New Artist
(For a new artist who releases, during the Eligibility Year, the first recording
which establishes the public identity of that artist.)

  • Adele

  • Duffy

  • Jonas Brothers

  • Lady Antebellum

  • Jazmine Sullivan

Category 8
Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals
(For a collaborative performance, with vocals, by artists who do not normally
perform together. Singles or Tracks only.)

  • Lesson Learned
    Alicia Keys & John Mayer
    Track from: As I Am
    [J Records]

  • 4 Minutes
    Madonna, Justin Timberlake & Timbaland
    Track from: Hard Candy
    [Warner Bros.]

  • Rich Woman
    Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
    Track from: Raising Sand

  • If I Never See Your Face Again
    Rihanna & Maroon 5
    Track from: Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded
    [Def Jam]

  • No Air
    Jordin Sparks & Chris Brown
    Track from: Jordin Sparks

Field 8 — Country

Category 36
Best Female Country Vocal Performance
(For a solo vocal performance. Singles or Tracks only.)

  • For These Times
    Martina McBride
    Track from: Waking Up Laughing
    [RCA Nashville]

  • What I Cannot Change
    LeAnn Rimes
    Track from: Family
    [Curb Records]

  • Last Name
    Carrie Underwood
    Track from: Carnival Ride
    [19/Arista/Arista Nashville]

  • Last Call
    Lee Ann Womack
    [MCA Nashville]

  • This Is Me You're Talking To
    Trisha Yearwood
    Track from: Heaven, Heartache And The Power Of Love
    [Big Machine]

Category 37
Best Male Country Vocal Performance
(For a solo vocal performance. Singles or Tracks only.)

  • You're Gonna Miss This
    Trace Adkins
    Track from: American Man, Greatest Hits Volume II
    [Capitol Records Nashville]

  • In Color
    Jamey Johnson
    [MCA Nashville]

  • Just Got Started Lovin' You
    James Otto
    Track from: Sunset Man

  • Letter To Me
    Brad Paisley
    Track from: 5th Gear
    [Arista Nashville]

  • Troubadour
    George Strait
    Track from: Troubadour
    [MCA Nashville]

Category 38
Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals
(For established duos or groups with vocals. Singles or Tracks only.)

  • God Must Be Busy
    Brooks & Dunn
    Track from: Cowboy Town
    [Arista Nashville]

  • Love Don't Live Here
    Lady Antebellum
    Track from: Lady Antebellum
    [Capitol Records Nashville]

  • Every Day
    Rascal Flatts
    Track from: Still Feels Good
    [Lyric Street Records]

  • Blue Side Of The Mountain
    The SteelDrivers
    Track from: The SteelDrivers

  • Stay
    Track from: Enjoy The Ride
    [Mercury Records]

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.)

  • Shiftwork
    Kenny Chesney & George Strait
    Track from: Just Who I Am: Poets And Pirates
    [BNA Records]

  • Killing The Blues
    Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
    Track from: Raising Sand

  • House Of Cash
    George Strait & Patty Loveless
    Track from: Troubadour
    [MCA Nashville]

  • Life In A Northern Town
    Sugarland, Jake Owen & Little Big Town
    Track from: Love On The Inside [Deluxe Fan Edition]
    [Mercury Records]

  • Let The Wind Chase You
    Trisha Yearwood & Keith Urban
    Track from: Heaven, Heartache And The Power Of Love
    [Big Machine]

Category 40
Best Country Instrumental Performance
(For solo, duo, group or collaborative performances, without vocals. Singles or
Tracks only.)

  • Sumatra
    Track from: Cherryholmes III: Don't Believe
    [Skaggs Family Records]

  • Two Small Cars In Rome
    Jerry Douglas & Lloyd Green
    Track from: Glide

  • Sleigh Ride
    Béla Fleck & The Flecktones
    Track from: Jingle All The Way

  • Is This America? (Katrina 2005)
    Charlie Haden, Pat Metheny, Jerry Douglas & Bruce Hornsby
    Track from: Family & Friends — Rambling Boy
    [Decca Records]

  • Cluster Pluck
    Brad Paisley, James Burton, Vince Gill, John Jorgenson, Albert Lee, Brent
    Mason, Redd Volkaert & Steve Wariner
    [Arista Nashville]

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.)

  • Dig Two Graves
    Ashley Gorley & Bob Regan, songwriters (Randy Travis)
    Track from: Around The Bend
    [Warner Bros.; Publishers: Songs of Combustion Music, Music of
    Windswept/Famous Music, Mt. Tallac Music]

  • I Saw God Today
    Rodney Clawson, Monty Criswell & Wade Kirby, songwriters (George Strait)
    Track from: Troubadour
    [MCA Nashville; Publishers: Big Red Toe/Extremely Loud Music, Steel Wheels
    Music, Steel Wheels Music/Blind Mule Music]

  • In Color
    Jamey Johnson, Lee Thomas Miller & James Otto, songwriters (Jamey Johnson)
    Track from: That Lonesome Song
    [Mercury Records; Publishers: EMI Blackwood Music/Big Gassed Hitties, EMI
    Blackwood Music/New Songs of Sea Gayle/Noah's Little Boat Music, Eldorotto
    Music Publishing/Lucky Thumb Music]

  • Stay
    Jennifer Nettles, songwriter (Sugarland)
    Track from: Enjoy The Ride
    [Mercury Records; Publisher: Jennifer Nettles Publishing]

  • You're Gonna Miss This
    Ashley Gorley & Lee Thomas Miller, songwriters (Trace Adkins)
    Track from: American Man, Greatest Hits Volume II
    [Capitol Records Nashville; Publishers: EMI Blackwood/New Songs of Sea
    Gayle/Noah's Little Boat Music/Songs of Combustion Music]

Category 42
Best Country Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

  • That Lonesome Song
    Jamey Johnson
    [Mercury Records]

  • Sleepless Nights
    Patty Loveless
    [Saguaro Road]

  • Troubadour
    George Strait
    [MCA Nashville]

  • Around The Bend
    Randy Travis
    [Warner Bros.]

  • Heaven, Heartache And The Power Of Love
    Trisha Yearwood
    [Big Machine]

Category 43

Best Bluegrass Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

  • Cherryholmes III: Don't Believe
    [Skaggs Family Records]

  • Del McCoury Band — Live At The 2008 New
    Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
    Del McCoury Band

  • The Ultimate Collection / Live At The
    Earl Scruggs With Family & Friends
    [Rounder Records]

  • Honoring The Fathers Of Bluegrass:
    Tribute To 1946 And 1947
    Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
    [Skaggs Family Records]

  • Wheels
    Dan Tyminski

Category 55
Best Southern, Country, Or Bluegrass Gospel Album
(For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.)

  • Room For More
    Booth Brothers
    [Daywind Records]

  • Lovin' Life
    Gaither Vocal Band
    [Gaither Music Group]

  • Steps To Heaven
    Charlie Louvin
    [Tompkins Square]

  • Hymned Again
    Bart Millard
    [INO Records]

  • Ephesians One
    Karen Peck & New River
    [Daywind Records]

Field 14 — Folk

Category 68
Best Traditional Folk Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

  • Coal
    Kathy Mattea
    [Captain Potato Records]

  • Comedians & Angels
    Tom Paxton
    [Appleseed Recordings]

  • Bring Me Home
    Peggy Seeger
    [Appleseed Recordings]

  • At 89
    Pete Seeger
    [Appleseed Recordings]

  • Strangers In Another Country
    Rosalie Sorrels
    [Red House Records]

Category 69
Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

  • Day After Tomorrow
    Joan Baez
    [Bobolink/Razor & Tie]

  • I, Flathead
    Ry Cooder
    [Nonesuch Records]

  • Sex & Gasoline
    Rodney Crowell
    [Work Song/Yep Roc Records]

  • All I Intended To Be
    Emmylou Harris
    [Nonesuch Records]

  • Raising Sand
    Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
    [Rounder Records]

Category 84
Best Song Written For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media
(A Songwriter(s) award. For a song (melody & lyrics) written specifically for a
motion picture, television or other visual media, and released for the first
time during the Eligibility Year. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles
or Tracks only.)

  • Down To Earth (From Wall-E)
    Peter Gabriel & Thomas Newman, songwriters (Peter Gabriel)
    Track from: Wall-E
    [Walt Disney Records/Pixar; Publishers: Walt Disney Music, Wonderland
    Music/Pixar Talking Pictures/Pixar Music]

  • Ever Ever After (From Enchanted)
    Alan Menken & Stephen Schwartz, songwriters (Carrie Underwood)
    Track from: Enchanted
    [Walt Disney Records; Publishers: Wonderland Music & Walt Disney Music]

  • Say (From The Bucket List)
    John Mayer, songwriter (John Mayer)
    Track from: Continuum
    [Aware/Columbia; Publishers: Sony/ATV Tunes, Specific Harm Music]

  • That's How You Know (From Enchanted)
    Alan Menken & Stephen Schwartz, songwriters (Amy Adams)
    Track from: Enchanted
    [Walt Disney Records; Publishers: Wonderland Music & Walt Disney Music]

  • Walk Hard (From Walk Hard — The Dewey Cox Story)
    Judd Apatow, Marshall Crenshaw, Jake Kasdan & John C. Reilly, songwriters
    (John C. Reilly)
    Track from: Walk Hard The Dewey Cox Story
    [Columbia; Publishers: Murder by Television/Apatow Music/Popular
    Misconception/New Columbia Pictures Music/Colpix Music]

Keith Urban Announces a Tour, but No Dates

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Keith Urban has announced that he will tour next year. That's not that big surprise, nor is the news of the new album coming next year either. What is news though is the long list of opening acts. These aren't just any opening acts Urban has selected for the tour.

The 2009 tour will include the following artists:

  • Sugarland
  • Taylor Swift
  • Dierks Bentley
  • Glen Campbell
  • Lady Antebellum
  • The Zac Brown Band

Now, the reports don't say exactly which of the above artists will perform at any particular show, in fact the venues and dates haven't been released. I will be carefully following that tour list for you, no doubt. This could be a very exciting tour.

Just look at the potential lineups. Mix n match as you like, and you have a historical show. Most of probably were extremely excited about the potential show that would include Keith Urban with Taylor Swift or Keith Urban with Sugarland.

However, my biggest excitement came further down the list... Glen Campbell. Wow. Now, I have a few of you may not even know who he is. No, he isn't new for those who don't know him. He is a living legend of country music, and I mean real country music. I am hoping he will be on most of the tour to let the fans get the chance to hear such a legend and make new fans, of a more younger generation. Wow, I'm really excited about the chance for such an act to be apart of this tour.

Following Glen Campbell, The Zac Brown Band makes the list of excitement as well. They fit perfectly on stage before a Keith Urban show... wow.

Whatever mix of artists make up the show at a particular venue, it will be worth going to see, no doubt. Stay tuned, when the tour dates are announced, I will be sharing them. I expect it will be very early January for the announcement.

Sirius XM Holiday 2008 Lineup: No Country Music

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Well, we have arrived at that time of year. The Holiday Season. Thanksgiving Day is just a matter of hours away and that means its Christmas music season as well. There is so much great Christmas music out there from our country music stars. New music out each year, and I will be focusing some attention on those upcoming. However, in past years, my favorite way to enjoy Christmas music was on my XM Radio. This year, sadly, doesn't seem to be that way.

Here is this year's holiday lineup on satellite radio:

  • Holly-- contemporary/pop holiday hits. (XM 35/SR 81 now through 12/31)
  • Bing Crosby Christmas-- vintage holiday radio specials (XM 120 SR 113 12/13 - 12/25)
  • Holiday Traditions-- traditional holiday 1940-60's (XM 36 11/24 - 12/25)
  • Holiday Pops-- classical holiday (XM 37 and 77 /SR 79 11/27 - 12/25)
  • Radio Hanukkah-- Hanukkah music (XM 38/ SR 3 12/21 - 12/29)
(All channels begin/end at midnight EST of their designated dates. XM for the XM channel, SR for Sirius Channel.)
First and foremost... do you see what is missing? Look closely. Yes, Music City Christmas. No country music Christmas channel this year. Are they crazy? I just can't believe that channel is not apart of the lineup this year. I just don't get it. There is a problem here with their programming for this year, no doubt. This is a channel I look forward to every year, and I bet a great deal of XM listeners do as well.

A side note, Special Xmas isn't on the list either. Another channel I loved. It was full of parody/comical Christmas musical content. What a loss.

What gets me even more is that there plenty room, more channels they know what to do with. That can't be the issue. If it was, why exactly do we need 2 classical music channels? Why does Sirius listeners miss out on the traditional holiday channel. Clearly they made the decision not to include it this year.

The first sentence in the second paragraph mentions country music, but nowhere in the channel lineup does an artist even close to country music is mentioned. The channels don't reflect that claim either. So, possibly an oversight with a channel listing, but I doubt it. If I find it, I'll let you know.

Country music fans will be looking to their CD collection this year, rather to their XM or Sirius radio. Bad thing is, now that the two companies are one, you don't have much choice. If you want Christmas music, you''' have to depend on download/CDs. Don't worry, Country Music Alive will be featuring some great choices in the upcoming days.

If you do find a country music satellite channel, e-mail so I can let everyone know about it.

Review: Zac Brown Band "The Foundation"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I have been waiting for this album to hit stores since the first day I heard their national debut top 5 single on the radio. The single had to be one of the most enjoyable songs I’d heard in many years. Yes, you read that right, years. The song is one of those special songs that you never get tired of hearing. It’s catchy as it can be and it gets stuck in your head immediately, but the difference is that you enjoy it being stuck in your head. The song is most definitely country, with a pinch of a southern rockish influence. Most of all, the lyrics make it a perfect sign-a-long bar song. The song I’m referring to begins…. “You know I like my chicken fried…” and now, I’m sure you are finishing the opening lines by now. “Chicken Fried” may be the best track on the Home Grown/Atlantic Records debut album titled “The Foundation” by The Zac Brown Band and produced by Keith Stegall (Alan Jackson and songwriter,) but that certainly doesn’t mean there are even more great songs on the album to really enjoy. This album is for the music lover.

Now, that I have played “Chicken Fried” a few times, I can now start exploring the eleven tracks that make up the album. The first track, simply titled “Toes” fuses a sound of island music, a lyrical vacation of a country song, and just plain fun. Again, like their debut single, it’s catchy and did I say fun? The song starts “I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand/ Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand/ Life is good today. Life is good today.” This is another must-hear song, without a doubt.

“Whatever It Is” again, lends lyrical power and fun to the album on a song about a beauty of a woman. I can’t say it enough. You will understand taking a listen to the
album. “Where The Boat Leave From” continues the rock-strong foundation of style. Zac Brown Band knows what sound works for them and has perfected it beyond imagine. Harmonizing A blend of deep country roots from their home state of Georgia, southern rock of the Southern United States, and sounds of the Caribbean together nicely make for some excellent music.

“Free” begins with a one-minute two-second violin solo leading into a slower song that allows the listener to get an even great appreciation for the group. Vocal delivery is showcased on this track very nicely, however, continues to display lyrical strength and great songs. If you have any doubt at all if this band knows
country music, take a listen to track 7, “Mary.” This high paced tune will further enhance your love of this group from a country music prospective. “Different Kind of Fine” is an all out driving song. Turn it on up. I can hear you already singing this one out loud… don’t worry, that’s what the Zac Brown Band wants you to be doing. “Highway 20 Ride” slows it down just a little bit, to again highlight the vocal delivery with excellence of the written word sung in this break-up song.

The pace picks way up again on “It’s Not Ok” that is another truckin’ song with spoken-word lyric delivery that again you just can’t help to learn the words to quickly, and oh yes, you can’t forget to recognize the instrumentation is dead on high-paced country filling the air. “Jolene” is a nice song, but I think it is not the best track on the album… but, even saying that, it’s a great song.

Finally, “Sic ‘Em On A Chicken.” Yes, you read that right. I’m not really sure what to say about this one. It’s country, that’s for sure. It’s comical… that’s for sure too. Wow, it’s a great song. Give it a listen and you will fall in love with it too.

Some may think this album is not consistent in sound. I can see that argument, however, I believe it is. Why? This band makes it music with a strong thought of what sounds good onstage and what the crowd will easily sing-a-long with I believe. They have many different sounds that can be heard (deep country roots, bluegrass, island music, rock, southern rocks, and funk,) however; their delivery has one common thread… fun. Distinct and different styles, yes, but I guarantee you that if you heard a new song from The Zac Brown Band, you will know exactly who it is, and not just by the voice you hear; that there is a key to consistency.

These guys are music lovers. I am a music lover. That is exactly why this album has caught my attention so very much. It will catch your attention too… instantly. I just may be pounding the keys on the keyboard with these words because I feel these thoughts so deeply.

“The Foundation” is one of the best albums of this year, by far. Vocal delivery that can’t be matched, strong lyrics, music that is enjoyable beyond belief, and instrumentation excellence make this album so great. I’m glad this is just the foundation, because this group has potential to build a very tall building.

Country Music Alive: Clickitticket.com's Top 50 Music Blogs

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I don't like to brag very much about this blog. I have been writing about country music since 1994 in some format... from the beginning e-mail newsletters to the last 10 years in a blog format. The website has been around since about 1995 or so. I love country music so very much, as you all know. Its more than apart of me. I love sharing my love for the music in some small way with all of my readers everyday. I don't get what would be considered a high-traffic blog or website, but a fair amount of traffic. Those of you that do visit this site or my website are some of the most loyal readers out there and it is so appreciated.

With that said, I was notified earlier this week that my blog was picked to be apart of Clickitticket.com's Top 50 Music Blogs. 10 blogs were picked from 5 different styles of music. Of course, this blog made the list in the country music category.

I ask you to take a moment and visit the site in support of their recognition of this blog. Take a look at the top 50, and then take a moment or two to visit the rest of the website:


There is a lot of exciting planning in the works to make this blog even more special in the upcoming year, so keep visiting and add it to your RSS feed or bookmark it. You can also "follow" this blog if you a member of Blogger. I also have a "subscribe" button on the top of the menu that will allow to get a daily email on days the blog is updated.

Anytime, especially as this year starts to come to an end, please, e-mail me with what you want to see here. Whether its a topic you want me to discuss, a standard feature, or anything at all.. let me know and I will see if I can incorporate it into the blog. An e-mail link is available on the right menu.

I thank you for your support and hope you keep visiting the site everyday. Tell a friend and share this blog every place you can think of in your daily Internet travels as well as in person.

Taylor Swift Sales: Why Doing So Well?

Friday, November 21, 2008

I was reading through a few news articles and came across an article on the sales numbers for Taylor Swift's new album "Fearless." I thought it may had been a mis-print or something.

Here we go, and these aren't mis-types...

Taylor Swift in the first week of the release of "Fearless" sold 592,304 copies. Her debut self-titled album sold 27,800 copies last week. That album was released October 24, 2006 and still remains in the top 5 this week, making it the 108th week for the album being on Billboard's Top Country Album Chart.

According to All About Country, 55.8% of all country music albums bought last week had Taylor Swift's name on the cover.

Rascal Flatts is ranked #2 last week in country sales with 38,812 copies. That makes them 553,492 copies less than Swift.

Looking at all album sales, David Archuleta came in at number 2. He sold 183,000 copies. Doesn't even come close to Taylor Swift.

CMA Week always helps out the sales, this year was no different, sales were up 26.7%... not bad at all. Over 1.1 million albums were sold, again, 592,000 of those were Taylor Swift's new album.

Debut album is over 3x Platinum. Her new release is gold in 1 week!

Now, this is excellent sales, by far, by don't believe it is any major record breaking event. My question is why is Taylor Swift so very popular? I've asked this question before in my writings, but it still comes up in my head every time I heard about her sales and chart positioning. I mean demographics of her target audience is one thing, but, to begin a new album with over 592,000 sold and her first CD out over 2 years ago is still selling like it just came out there is something more going on that has her selling so well.

The answer to it all is... well, I don't know what exactly it is. It must be a combination of so many things. Some of them in the control of her management, record label, publicity, her talent and skill, but, some of it I think has to do with so many things out of her direct control. Timing, demographical interest, and I'm sure many other factors.

Here are some of the reasons I think she is doing so well. 

1) Her vocals and music itself are common and pop-music influenced country music.  She is country, but I wouldn't go as far as saying traditional country.  Its pop-country, just like so very many of our "country" artists of the current days.  The sound of Taylor Swift's songs appeal to the pop-music style of music as well as our country fans, for the most part.  Her talent in itself is enough to make her a very successful artist.

2) Taylor Swift has had a strong Internet presence.  Her MySpace page has been up since August 0f 2005.  That's a year before even her debut album was released. As of this afternoon, Taylor has 978,387 "friends" on MySpace.  That page is kept updated and keeps the younger generation hooked on her music, but also her life and what she is really like.  Everyone these days have Myspace, but Swift came in on the ground floor and uses that page perfectly.  Its not just MySpace of course.  Her official web page is updated nicely as well.  It is designed in a way to keep the younger ones wanting to come back, but as well is informative for those they are there for information.

3) I think this third point is the biggest reason she does so well.  Her age, her looks, and her life style makes her so marketable.  Younger females are always looking for a role-model.  Taylor Swift is a role-model that the parent's of the children wanting to look up to her can approve of. She carries her self very well in public, very down-to-Earth, she dresses appropriate, she is beautiful, yet not a over-the-top concentration on the way she looks.  Always I feel a "be yourself" message from Taylor Swift. 

Why do you think Taylor Swift sales are so high?  Leave a comment and I'll share it here...

Photo Credit: Taylor Swift on the CMA Awards Red Carpet at “The 42nd Annual CMA Awards,” on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008, broadcast live from the Sommet Center in Nashville on the ABC Television Network.  Photographer: Jim Hagans / CMA