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Image Courtesy Joseph Llanes/Republic NashvilleNew group A Thousand Horses' career is on fire thanks to their debut top-five hit "Smoke." The song's popularity has earned the band performance slots on NBC's Today on May 11 and Fox News's Fox & Friends on May 13. After years of struggling to make it big, A Thousand Horses is now "humbled" by the big welcome they've gotten from both country radio and their new fans.

Lead singer Michael Hobby says, "To know this band’s journey and the side-jobs we all had, the gigs we took for no money, the memories we made while all traveling in one van while we took turns driving overnight for years just to get our sound perfected and the music right, just makes this moment so incredible."

A Thousand Horses' debut album, Southernality, is due out June 9. They join Darius Rucker's Southern Style tour starting May 14 in Holmdel, New Jersey.

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Image Courtesy John Peets/Capitol NashvilleUnlike most country headliners, Eric Church doesn't pay attention to country radio when choosing his opening acts. Instead, he books musical acts he's passionate about, whether or not they could ever fit in the country format. That's why you'll see everyone from hard rock group Halestorm to Americana group The Lone Bellow on the road with Eric this year.

He tells the Lexington Herald-Leader, "I just thought it was cooler than who everybody else takes on tour. Everybody just repackages tours. That's what happens in country music. That's what happens in all kinds of music. They just take the same four or five people, whoever had a hit this year, whoever's hot, and sticks them on the bill."

Eric's approach to booking supporting acts comes from his experience as a brand-new act opening for rock legend Bob Seger. Eric got the gig because Bob liked his music, an opportunity Eric wants to pass that opportunity on to his favorite up-and-coming acts.

"There is just so much music out there I love that doesn't have the outlet," Eric explains. " You know what? We didn't used to have the outlet, either"

He adds, "Going forward, this is something we're going to continue to do."

Check out Eric's full tour schedule at EricChurch.com.

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Comstock/ThinkstockWhat is the name of Miranda Lambert's boutique with locations in Tishomingo, Oklahoma and Lindale, Texas? ANSWER: The Pink Pistol.

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Image Courtesy Warner Music NashvilleAshley Monroe's new, as-yet-untitled album will be out July 24 featuring the lead single, "On to Something Good." The video for the track is now airing on CMT. Ashley's new album is the follow-up to her 2013 critically acclaimed release Like a Rose.

Here's the track listing for Ashley's new album:

"On to Something Good"
"I Buried Your Love Alive"
"Bombshell"
"The Weight of the Load"
"The Blade"
"Winning Streak"
"From Time to Time"
"If Love Was Fair"
"Has Anybody Ever Told You"
"Dixie"
"The Devil Don't Want Me"
"Mayflowers"
"Good at Leavin'"

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockMiranda Lambert and her horse, Ellie, picked up a few ribbons at the Red River Welsh Pony Association Horse Show in Oklahoma over the weekend. You can check out the photos on Miranda's Instagram account.

 

 

Eli Young Band's new video for "Turn it On" is now airing on Vevo.

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Image Courtesy Sony Music NashvilleMiranda Lambert wrote the new song, "Two of a Crime," specifically for the new Reese Witherspoon-Sofia Vergara comedy, Hot Pursuit. After seeing the trailer for the film, Miranda got to work on the song, which was a bit of a change for her.

She explains, "When you're a songwriter, you write your own story, but to write for a movie, you sort of have to go and dive into the characters, 'cause they already have a story. So, it was a really unique experience as a songwriter."

It helped that the story and setting of Hot Pursuit were right up Miranda's alley.

"It was a Thelma and Louise theme and it was filmed in Texas," Miranda explains.

Even though writing "Two of a Crime" was a different experience for Miranda, it won't be the last song she writes for a movie.

She adds, "I'm proud of it, and I'll definitely do it again."

"Two of a Crime" is now available for download at iTunes. Hot Pursuit hits theaters Friday.

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Image Courtesy Mercury NashvilleChris Stapleton is the songwriter behind big hits for everyone from George Strait and Kenny Chesney to Luke Bryan and Darius Rucker. He's also one of the most celebrated singers in the Nashville music community, and now the rest of the world can enjoy Chris's talent on the brand-new album, Traveller. The title track was written on a trip Chris took with his wife, Morgane, in 2013 following the death of his father.

Chris tells ABC Radio, "My wife had the presence of mind to know that I needed a little head-clearing space. So, she bought me an old Jeep out in Phoenix, Arizona, and we flew out there and drove back across the country in it. Along the way, I wrote that song kind of thinking about life and how we're all just passing through it."

Chris's wife was also instrumental in picking the 14 songs that made the final cut on Traveller. The sound of the album took shape after Chris heard a bit of singer/songwriter Sturgill Simpson's critically acclaimed 2014 release, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music.  That project's modern take on a vintage country sound led Chris to seek out Sturgill's producer, Dave Cobb, to work on Traveller.

Speaking of Dave's work on Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, Chris says, "The sound of it was so striking to me. I didn't know that it was something that could still be done sonically, 'cause we had lost a lot of whatever that is in modernity and technology. So, I really set out to find Dave and I said, 'I gotta at least meet this guy,' and go, 'Hey man, I like the sound of that record.'"

With Dave in the producer's seat, Chris called on his long-time band members, bass player J.T. Cure and drummer Derek Mixon, to play on Traveller. Chris has been playing with J.T. for two decades, and he says, "It's a unique thing to get to play music with people that know you that well."

Chris's small band is rounded out with Waylon Jennings' longtime steel guitar player, Robby Turner, and Willie Nelson's harmonica player, Mickey Raphael.

He says of adding those two legendary musicians to the lineup, "I got to have those little tips of the hat to that kind of music kind of quietly infused into the record."

Chris has an album release show Tuesday night in New York City. Check out ChrisStapleton.com for a full list of tour dates.

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Warner Music GroupJana Kramer has signed up for a role in an upcoming musical film, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Country Crush will focus on a city girl named Nancy Taylor who falls for a guy, Charlie, she meets while en route to a party in the country. He joins her in New York City as her music career takes off.

Kramer will play Charlie's sister-in-law in the drama. The lead role of Nancy Taylor will be filled by newcomer Madeline Merlo.

Kramer's most notable film credits include Click and Prom Night. She also had roles on the TV series One Tree Hill, 90210, Friday Night Lights and Entourage.

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Image Courtesy Nino Munoz/CapitolDierks Bentley is no stranger to scoring #1 hits, but his latest single, "Say You Do," is the first of his chart-toppers that he didn't write himself. He's thankful to Nashville-based songwriters Shane McAnally, Matt Ramsey and Trevor Rosen for letting him record the song.

Dierks says, "This town has of some of the most talented songwriters anywhere and they help guys like me live our dreams every night out on the road with their songs."

"Say You Do" is the third-consecutive single from Dierks' album Riser to score multiple weeks at #1 on the country songs chart. He'll be singing those hits on the 2015 Sounds of Summer tour, launching June 5 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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Image Courtesy Capitol NashvilleLuke Bryan's latest studio album, Crash My Party, is now his biggest-selling release ever. According to Billboard and Nielsen Music, Luke's fourth project has now sold 2.432 million copies, beating his previous bestseller, Tailgates & Tanlines, which has sold 2.429 million copies so far.

Crash My Party produced six hit singles, including Luke's latest #1 hit, "I See You."

Luke is working on the follow-up to Crash My Party in-between tour dates. He plays a two-night stand in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada this Wednesday and Thursday.

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Image Courtesy Sony Music NashvilleTyler Farr is riding high on the country chart again with his latest single, "A Guy Walks into a Bar," a sad ballad that fits in with Tyler's overall goal of building a lasting legacy in the country format. Even though he speaks in a gravelly mumble he compares to Billy Bob Thornton's character in Sling Blade, Tyler possesses one of country's most expressive singing voices. He hopes his voice becomes his calling card in the years ahead.

"I want to be known as a stylist," Tyler tells Rolling Stone. "I want to become a known voice in country music. That's what I moved here for. I didn't move here to [Nashville to] be mediocre."

Tyler's sophomore album, Suffer in Peace, is now on sale. He's on the road with Jason Aldean for the rest of the year.

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Image Courtesy Mike Coppola/Getty/EB Media PREric Church has added a second solo acoustic show at Nashville's new Ascend Amphitheater after the first concert on July 30 sold out. The new July 31 date goes on sale Thursday, May 7 through Ticketmaster.

Of the second show, Eric says, "I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t listen to my fans, and this time they spoke up loud and clear. I am keeping with the tradition of The Outsiders Tour in that no show will be the same, but I am adding a second night to ensure we can get all our friends in for this performance.”

Eric's concerts will officially open Nashville's Ascend Amphitheater, located on the bank of the Cumberland River.

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Image Courtesy Stoney Creek RecordsCongratulations to Randy Houser on his engagement to his Australian girlfriend, Tatiana Starzynski. According to People, the 39-year-old singer has kept his relationship with the 21-year-old Starzynski off the radar to let Randy's three-year-old son, West, and the rest of his family get to know her.

Randy's fiancée is the sister-in-law of hit songwriter Dallas Davidson. Randy announced his split from former wife Jessa Lee Yantz nearly a year ago after three years of marriage.

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Danny Clinch/Southern Ground/Varvatos/BMLGOne day after Zac Brown Band launched a new tour with a star-studded concert in Nashville, the group was forced to cancel a Saturday show at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana, because Zac lost his voice.

A message posted Saturday on the band’s official website reads, “Zac has lost his voice and we won't be able to perform tonight. Consequently, we need to postpone our date at the Ford Center and apologize to all our fans. We will be rescheduling for later this year, and we appreciate all the support and love. We will announce the new date as soon as possible.  All tickets will be honored or refunds may be requested from point of purchase.”

Zac Brown Band’s Friday night show at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena in support of their brand-new album, Jekyll Hyde, featured guest appearances from JewelBela Fleck and Kid Rock, as well as covers of The Beatles' classic "Let It Be" and Queen’s "Bohemian Rhapsody."

The band’s next show is May 7 at the Walnut Creek Amphitheatre in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockLady Antebellum will perform on NBC's Today on May 13.

Trace Adkins, Kellie Pickler, Craig Morgan and Vince Gill are performing at the Grand Ole Opry's special Salute the Troops show Tuesday, May 19 at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville.

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Comstock/ThinkstockWho was Billy Currington's duet partner on the 2004 hit, "Party for Two?" ANSWER: Shania Twain.

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Image Courtesy Mercury NashvilleBilly Currington spent a decade in Nashville before he landed a record deal, but his singing voice was heard by just about everyone in the music business during that time in the trenches.

Billy was one of Music City's most successful demo singers in the late '90s and early 2000s, so he was often hired by songwriters and publishers to sing demonstration versions of the songs they were pitching to major artists. That means Billy was the first person to sing songs that went on to become big hits for other artists.

He tells ABC Radio, "[One was] Blake Shelton, 'Don't Make Me.' There's a couple of George Strait songs that's been out there that I sang. Yeah, there were songs that Tracy Lawrence cut. Sammy Kershaw. Clay Walker. I could go on and on."

Billy's popularity as a demo singer kept growing, but he wasn't content to just sing other people's songs.

"I could have dropped everything I was doing and just sang demos," Billy explains. "I kept them at a medium and just kept working on my own thing and eventually got a record deal."

Billy's perseverance paid off as he closes in on yet another #1 country hit with "Don't It." Look for Billy's sixth album, Summer Forever, to come out June 2.

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Image Courtesy Black RiverCountry newcomer Kelsea Ballerini is closing in on the top 10 with her debut hit, "Love Me Like You Mean It." As the song's airplay has increased in the last few weeks, Kelsea has seen more and more fans in her concert crowds singing along with every word.

Kelsea tells ABC Radio, "They get so sassy, and it's the best."

"Love Me Like You Mean It" also has been heating up on social media, and Kelsea is glad to see that fans are getting the song's message.

"I get on Instagram and I search it, and there'll be, like, a selfie, with the lyrics underneath. I'm like, 'Yeah, girl,'" Kelsea says. "The song is all about being confident and saying, like, 'You are not allowed to play with me. You have to really got to love me like you mean it.'

Kelsea is on the road with Jana Kramer for the rest of the month. "Love Me Like You Mean It' is the lead single from Kelsea's debut album, The First Time, is due out May 19.

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Image Courtesy Warner Music NashvilleBrett Eldredge borrowed a line from the Gnarls Barkley pop hit, "Crazy," for the first part of the second verse of his latest single, "Lose My Mind," but you shouldn't worry that Brett's headed for a lawsuit over the issue.

In order to avoid a situation like the recent court case pitting Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams against Marvin Gaye's family over the monster hit "Blurred Lines," Brett and his co-writers gave co-writing credit to Gnarls Barkley's CeeLo Green and Danger Mouse, as well as to a pair of film composers who inspired Gnarls Barkley's recording.

"Lose My Mind" is the lead single from Brett's upcoming, as-yet untitled sophomore album.

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Image Courtesy CMTJana Kramer and Kelsea Ballerini launched their CMT Next Women of Country Tour this week. It's rare for two solo female acts to go on the road, and Jana is excited to show the rest of the country music industry how it's done.

She tells the Cincinnati Enquirer, "I wanted to get out there and show that girls can have an awesome tour together. We can go out, sell tickets, have fun and the crowd can have a good time. I want to be on the forefront with supporting women and helping us get heard.”

Jana and Kelsea will be on tour together through a May 28 show in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

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Penny Mitchell
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There are MANY GREAT regional concerts throughout the year--who would you LOVE to see?
MONTGOMERY GENTRY!
Lady Antebellum
Dierks Bentley
Florida Georgia Line
Zac Brown Band
Luke Bryan
Kenny Chesney
Brantley Gilbert
Eric Church
Toby Keith
Brad Paisley
Other
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