Image Courtesy Dot RecordsMaddie & Tae’s first full-length album, Start Here, is due in stores and online June 2. It will include both their chart-topping debut, “Girl in a Country Song,” as well as their latest hit, “Fly.”
“We had so many names,” Maddie says of choosing the title, "pieces of lyrics, song titles, our names. But when it really came down to it, what this record is to us is the beginning of everything! You only get one first album.”
In the end, Tae believes Start Here says it all. “It is one of those sentiments that holds all the promise, all the chances and maybe a little bit of being scared. But you have to start somewhere, and this is pretty great place to begin.”
The weekend following their album’s release, Maddie & Tae kick off Dierks Bentley’s Sounds of Summer tour with Kip Moore and Canaan Smith June 5 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Kacey Musgraves is baking up a batch of “Biscuits” for country radio. Her new single will be fans’ first taste of new music from her sophomore album for Mercury Records Nashville. Her debut, Same Trailer Different Park, won the Grammy for Best Country Album.
"I'm very proud to be kickin' things off with 'Biscuits'! I think it's the perfect preview to the record we had SO much fun making,” Kacey says. “The sound of this song represents so many of the things I love about country music. And be warned -- it may inspire a square dance,” she jokes.
Kacey co-wrote “Biscuits” with frequent collaborators Shane McAnally and Best New Artist Grammy nominee Brandy Clark. You should start hearing it on the radio around the middle of March.
Don’t be surprised if you see some of Miranda Lambert’s influence when Christina Aguilera steps into her upcoming guest role on Nashville.
"Miranda is no joke,” Christina told Seth Myers Wednesday on NBC’s Late Night. “She's awesome. I've become such a huge fan… Honestly, if I were a country singer, I’d probably be her. She’s awesome. She's really awesome. I've got to give her kudos!"
Christina will play a pop star trying to cross over into country on the ABC show set in Music City. She’s hoping the new role will step up her cred with country contestants when she’s competing against Miranda's husband Blake Shelton to secure contestants for her team on The Voice.
"I'll be able to have something under my belt to get certain steals for these country artists," she says. "I'll be like 'Well, I'm actually on the show Nashville, recording in Nashville.'"
You can catch Nashville Wednesdays at 10 p.m. Eastern time on ABC. The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.
Image Courtesy Warner Music NashvilleThis weekend, Cole Swindell brings his Down Home tour to his home state. Sunday, the Georgia native wraps up three days of music at Atlanta Motor Speedway, headlining just before the drivers are introduced for the Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500. Though he’s not performing, pop-rocker Gavin DeGraw is also the honorary pace car driver for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Cole grew up in the small town of Bronwood, Georgia, about three hours south of Atlanta. When he’s not playing his own solo dates, he’s currently out on the Burn It Down tour with Jason Aldean and Tyler Farr.
Image Courtesy ABC News Radio/Hunter KellyThings got a little weird at Dierks Bentley's after-hours show Wednesday night at the Country Radio Seminar. Dierks and his band took on the persona of a washed-up country group called Hot Country Knights to cover '90s country hits during a two-hour set at The Stage honky tonk on Nashville's Lower Broadway. The guys never broke character as they worked their way through Sawyer Brown's "Some Girls Do" and Billy Ray Cyrus's "Achy Breaky Heart" for the invitation-only crowd.
Miranda Lambert took on the alter ego Shelby Shelton to join Hot Country Knights for Shania Twain's "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under." Lady Antebellum's Charles Kelley wore a bad '80s wig and a fitted, patriotic shirt for his performance of Brooks & Dunn's "My Maria"; Randy Houser took on the persona of curly-haired country star Dallas Houston to sing Tracy Byrd's "Watermelon Crawl"; and Kip Moore was on hand to sing David Lee Murphy's "Dust on the Bottle."
Dierks' cover show wasn't the only entertainment option in town for country radio programmers attending the CRS. Garth Brooks played an invite-only club show at Nashville's Marathon Music Works. The set list included a mix of new songs from his latest album, Man Against Machine, and classic tracks like "Friends in Low Places," "Rodeo" and "Two Pina Coladas."
Garth's wife, Trisha Yearwood, looked like she was having a great time according to an Instagram photo she posted at the show. The picture shows her holding two cups with Garth's "G" logo close to her chest with the caption, "Watching G with my double g's! #goinghomewithhim."
Image Courtesy Sony Music NashvilleAs a Texas native who both married Okie Blake Shelton and now finds herself living in his home state, Miranda Lambert says she’s never confused about where her loyalties lie.
“Oklahoma has welcomed me, and I found my second home in my husband’s home state,” she tells the Tulsa World. “We love living there on our farm. I am a fan of the small-town feel, and I get to be myself,” she says of her adopted hometown of Tishomingo.
But she’s quick to make sure the Lone Star State has the last word. “My parents have instilled in me to be proud of where you come from, so I will always be very proud of being a Texan,” she adds.
This Saturday night, Miranda brings her Certified Platinum tour to the Sooner State’s BOK Center in Tulsa.
Image Courtesy Warner Music NashvilleBrett Eldredge spent the first part of this week in Key West, Florida, before heading back for the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville. Getting away from the freezing temperatures in Music City helped get Brett's creative juices flowing as he continues work on his upcoming sophomore album.
"I went down there to go fishing and become inspired by the beautiful beach," Brett tells ABC News Radio. "It was 20 degrees when we left Nashville. It was 68 when I got there, and it ended up being 87 by the time I left, and so I was like -- I'm inspired! I feel amazing."
One of Brett's biggest hits, "Beat of the Music," was inspired by his time at the beach, so it's no surprise to learn he's always looking to get back on the water.
Says Brett, "Anytime I can get away, if I have a couple days off, I go to somewhere where there's water because I just get completely reenergized by the ocean or lake or whatever it is -- a puddle, I don't care what it is."
Brett will release the first single from his sophomore album once his latest hit, "Mean to Me," finishes its climb to #1 on the country chart.
Image Courtesy ABCOn Wednesday's Nashville, Mayor Teddy Conrad grew increasingly paranoid his brief relationship with the call girl, Natasha, would be found out as more and more people learned about the forbidden affair. At the end of the episode, Teddy showed up at Natasha's house in an effort to come up with a lie about how they met. Unfortunately, an unrelated sting operation was going down at Natasha's house, so cameras and audio of Teddy covering up the affair was recorded in a surveillance van down the street.
Teddy's paranoia was fueled by his one-time blackmailer, Jeff Fordham, who was facing hard times since the record label he ran, Edgehill Republic, was suddenly shut down completely. Jeff was fired when his boss found out about his underhanded scheme to sign a record deal with Teddy and Rayna Jaymes' daughter, Maddie, using Teddy's relationship with the call girl as leverage. Look for Jeff to continue threatening to expose Teddy in the coming weeks.
Since superstar Luke Wheeler was left without a recording home due to the shuttering of Edgehill Republic, Jeff proposed Luke start his own label and let Jeff run the operation. They signed former Edgehill act Will Lexington to the label, but Luke ultimately cut Jeff out of the deal completely due to his terrible reputation.
Rayna Jaymes and her manager, Bucky, met with multiple acts in hopes of signing new talent to Highway 65 Records. They ultimately decided to sign Will's ex-wife, Layla Grant, to the label. In the meantime, Rayna and her lawyers dipped into the Highway 65's liability insurance to reach a settlement with Sadie Stone's abusive ex-husband, Pete. His lawsuit claiming ownership of a portion of Sadie's career brought work on her new album to a halt, and Rayna threatened to ruin Pete if he ever messed with Sadie again once his payoff agreement was signed.
As Deacon Claybourne continued to wait for a liver, his oncologist offered him the option of signing up for a cancer drug trial. Deacon ultimately refused to participate in the trial, and his niece, Scarlett O'Conner turned to her ex-boyfriends, Avery Barkley and Gunnar Scott, to help her make some music to escape her sadness about Deacon. They ended up performing a new song called "World on Time" as a trio at The Bluebird Café, and the love song seemed appropriate as Scarlett made the leap to finally ask Deacon's cute oncologist out on a date.
"World on Time" is a song written by one of Nashville's favorite songwriters, Trent Dabbs. He's penned several songs for the show, including Juliette Barnes' big hit, "Don't Put Dirt on My Grave Just Yet." As for "World on Time," Trent tells ABC News Radio, "[It's] just a straight-up love song, and that's another thing that I feel like is so much harder to do than it seems -- just to write a straight-up love song that isn't corny all, you know? So, it felt like an old-school, folky love song."
As for "Don't Put Dirt on My Grave Just Yet," Trent admits he had someone else in the country world in mind when he co-wrote it.
"Caitlyn Smith and I had written it for a potential Carrie Underwood pitch, and it was like, 'I'll just send it to [Nashville Music Supervisor] Frankie [Pine].' And she loved it, and then asked me if I would consider re-writing some of it, and I was like, 'Sure.'"
If you're interested to hear Trent Dabbs' version of "World on Time," be sure to pick up a copy of his new album, Believer, available now. The Nashville cast version of "World on Time" is available at iTunes.
Nashville returns with an all-new episode next Wednesday night at 10 ET on ABC.
Image Courtesy CMAFirst-year headliner Dierks Bentley returns to the Northwests’s Watershed Music and Camping Festival this summer, as the three-day show celebrates its fourth year. Florida Georgia Line and Carrie Underwood also top a bill that includes Gary Allan, Frankie Ballard, Easton Corbin, Hunter Hayes, Jana Kramer, Joe Nichols, Parmalee, Thomas Rhett, Chris Young and more. Sam Hunt will play a late-night set on the festival’s “Next from Nashville” stage, in addition to his stint on the main platform.
The shows take place July 31-August 2 at Gorge Amphitheatre, just outside Quincy, Washington. Tickets go on sale Tuesday, March 3 and typically sell out within minutes.
Image Courtesy Warner Music NashvilleAs Blake Shelton and Ashley Monroe head for number one with their single “Lonely Tonight,” Blake praises his duet partner in the ads for her new song, “On to Something Good.”
“Ashley has been like a member of my family for many years,” The Voice coach says. “She’s been one of my favorite artists since before that. I challenge anyone to spend a little time with her and NOT fall in love. It’s time she gets her due as a solo recording artist and I’m so damn proud and excited to watch her star rise!!!”
You can preview the infectious first single from Ashley’s forthcoming album in a new “unofficial” YouTube video that takes fans behind-the-scenes during her latest photo shoot. So far, there’s no release date for Ashley’s new set of songs, produced by country legend Vince Gill.
Image Courtesy Show Dog/UniversalToby Keith and Little Big Town are playing Matthew McConaughey's annual fundraising event in Austin, Texas on April 16. Matthew co-founded the Mack, Jack and McConaughey fundraising effort with ESPN analyst and football coach Mark Brown and country star Jack Ingram. Toby and LBT are the entertainment for the organization's Gala Night kicking off the two-day event with Jimmy Kimmel helping entertain guests on the closing night, April 17.
Proceeds from the fundraiser go to children's charities across the United States. Go to MackJackMcConaughey.org for further details.
Image Courtesy Republic NashvilleBrantley Gilbert is playing his second round of shows in Europe starting this weekend as part of the C2C - Country to Country Festival. When he went across the pond for the first time, Brantley was reminded of his early days playing clubs before he ever scored a hit song on the radio.
"It was a familiar feelin’, but it was, it was actually a good feelin'," Brantley says of those initial European dates. "It felt like I was rollin’ back into a college town in a state that I’d never been to. You know what I mean? It’s that uncharted ground, you never know what to expect. There may be five people there, there may be 500."
Brantley looks forward to seeing how many fans will know his music on his second go-round through Europe. He also hopes the foreign fans can understand his thick Georgia accent since he sometimes has trouble being understood in certain parts of the United States.
Says Brantley, "Europe’s a different animal, especially for a guy like me. I got subtitles on a show I did in New York. Those people [in Europe]…I need a translator over there."
Brantley will launch his European trek at the C2C - Country 2 Country show in Oslo, Norway Saturday. Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line and Lady Antebellum are also on the bill.
Image Courtesy CMARascal Flatts kicks off their Vegas Riot! residency at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas Wednesday night. They're playing The Joint -- a venue that allows them more interaction with the audience than one of their arena or amphitheater shows. Fans can expect to hear the Flatts' biggest hits at this show, but they may sound a little bit different than the album versions.
Lead singer Gary LeVox says, "We’ve taken songs that have been really big hits for us and musically we’ve done somethin’ different, put a new flavor on 'em. We’re just takin’ out some background singers. We customized this show just for Vegas."
Rascal Flatts will play select dates at the Hard Rock Las Vegas through March 14. Tickets are available at AXS.com/RascalFlattsVegas.
Image Courtesy Streamsound RecordsKristian Bush's debut solo album, Southern Gravity, is now available for pre-order at iTunes. With each purchase, fans will get an instant download of Kristian's top 20 hit "Trailer Hitch."
Fans who pre-order the album at KristianBush.com get an even sweeter deal. The bundles offered come with a CD copy of Southern Gravity as well as an exclusive T-shirt and poster. Kristian will even sign the first 100 albums purchased.
With each bundle purchased, fans will be entered to win concert tickets, a Skype chat with Kristian and other goodies. One lucky fan will get the Ultimate Kristian Bush Concert Experience, including a meet-and-greet and dinner with Kristian, side-stage access during the show and a shout-out and song dedication during the show.
Kristian's new album, Southern Gravity, will be released on April 7.
Image Courtesy Southern GroundZac Brown Band has lined up a pretty impressive gig as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live March 7. The appearance marks the first time they've appeared on SNL, which is celebrating its 40th season this year. Chris Hemsworth will be the host that night.