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Martina McBride Sets Out on Fall Leg of Everlasting Tour

Image Courtesy Vinyl RecordingsAs Martina McBride embarks on the fall leg of the tour to support her Everlasting album, seven of the dates are already sold out. She believes part of the reason why is that her new versions of R&B standards from the fifties, sixties and seventies mix so well with her hits like “Independence Day” and “This One’s for the Girls.”

"I feel like this show really takes the audience on a musical journey,” Martina says. “The songs from Everlasting and my hits blend seamlessly together throughout the night."

Accompanied by an eleven-piece band, including a horn section and a group of background singers, Martina delivers her take on songs ranging from the Supremes’ “Come See About Me” to Van Morrison’s “Wild Night.” Everlasting debuted at number one on the Billboard Country Albums chart when it was released in the spring.

Martina’s first cookbook, Around the Table, will be out October 7.

These are the fall dates for the Everlasting tour, with the sold-out shows marked with an asterisk:

*8/28 -- Meridian, MS, MSU Riley Center for the Performing Arts
*8/29 -- Forrest City, AR, East Arkansas Community College Fine Arts Center
*8/30 -- Lake Charles, LA, L'Auberge Casino and Hotel
*8/31 -- Nashville, TN, 3rd and Lindsley
9/5 -- Carmel, IN, The Palladium
9/6 -- Wabash, IN, Honeywell Center
9/11 -- Deadwood, SD, Deadwood Mountain Grand Event Center
9/12 -- Mahnomen, MN, Shooting Star Casino
9/13 -- Waukegan, IL, Genesee Theater
9/18 -- Saratoga, CA, The Mountain Winery
9/19 -- Lincoln, CA, Thunder Valley Casino Resort
9/20 -- Pomona, CA, Los Angeles County Fair
9/22 -- San Diego, CA, House of Blues
*9/25 -- Midland, TX, Wagner Noel PAC
9/26 -- Durant, OK, Choctaw Event Center
9/27 -- San Antonio, TX, Majestic Theatre
10/2 -- Dartmouth, NS, Dartmouth Sportsplex
10/3 -- Moncton, NB, The Center at Casino New Brunswick
10/4 -- St Johns, NL Canada, Mile One Centre
10/9 -- Westbury, NY, Theatre at Westbury
10/10 -- Albany, NY, Palace Theatre
10/11 -- Waterbury, CT, Palace Theatre
10/16 -- Sarasota, FL, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
10/17 -- Melbourne, FL, King Center for the Performing Arts
10/18 -- Niceville, FL, Mullett Festival
10/24 -- Athens, GA, Classic Center Theater
*11/1 -- Nashville, TN, Ryman Auditorium
11/7 -- Dearborn, MI, Ford Community & Performing Arts Center
*11/8 -- Dayton, OH, Schuster Center
11/13 -- Jim Thorpe, PA, Penn's Peak
11/14 -- Utica, NY, The Stanley
11/15 -- Lynn, MA, Lynn Auditorium
11/21 -- Brookings, SD, Swiftel Center
11/29 -- Kansas City, MO, Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland
12/3 -- Glenside, PA, Keswick Theatre
12/4 -- Northfield, OH, Hard Rock Live
12/5 -- Red Bank, NJ, Count Basie Theatre
12/11 -- Milwaukee, WI, Northern Lights Theatre
12/12 -- Milwaukee, WI, Northern Lights Theatre
12/13 -- Omaha, NE, Orpheum Theatre

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Tim McGraw Takes Aim with "Shotgun Rider;" Readies for Release Day Livestream

Big Machine RecordsAs Tim McGraw gets ready to release his new CD, Sundown Heaven Town, next month, he’s taking aim at the charts with his new single, “Shotgun Rider.” Tim says he loves the way the song paints a picture and sets a mood.

"In my mind, you look over and see the person that you love next to you sitting in the front seat, and you think, 'How good do I have it?  Life is perfect’,” he reflects. “There is a certain warmth to this song and several others like it that really establish the tone for the whole album."

On release day, Tim will team up with the man who directed the films Moneyball and Capote, Bennett Miller, to livestream a new episode of American Express Unstaged. You can watch the performance live from New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom starting at 9 p.m. ET on September 16.

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Country Star Trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockMiranda Lambert's Platinum album track "Another Sunday in the South" is a tip of the hat to which Shenandoah song? ANSWER:  "Sunday in the South," which went to #1 in 1989.

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Toby Keith Answers Ice Bucket Challenge with Sooners

Show Dog/Universal Toby Keith is the latest country star to complete the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for Lou Gehrig's disease. Toby responded to about 60 challengers by dousing himself with ice water during football practice at the University of Oklahoma in his hometown of Norman. He nominated retired baseball pitchers Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux before getting soaked.  Former Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys Coach Barry Switzer and University of Oklahoma Athletic Director Joe Castiglione joined Toby in the challenge.

Meanwhile, four of Toby's number one songs made the official Tonight Show Truck Playlist:  "American Ride," "How Do You Like Me Now," "Red Solo Cup," and "Who's Your Daddy." Jimmy Fallon compiled the 57-track collection after deciding to buy a truck earlier this year.

Fans who'd like to have Drinks After Work with Toby also have only a few more days to enter the contest named after his latest CD. The Facebook sweepstakes wraps up August 31.

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Brett Eldredge Says "Sexiest" Honor and Love Songs Haven't Changed His Bachelor Status

Image Courtesy Warner Music NashvilleBrett Eldredge admits being one of People Country’s sexiest men is a pretty good gig-- until you’re in the airport early in the morning.

“I literally was sitting on an airplane, and a girl was reading a People Country or one of the magazines with the hottest guys or whatever,” he recalls. “It was like six in the morning, and I'm on the airplane and I slept, like, one hour, and I'm like, ‘Oh my God. She's, like, turning to the page that I’m on.’  I'm like, ‘Please don't look over here! Please don't look over here!’  I've got bags under my eyes.”

Having just logged two number one hits that were both love songs,  Brett admits the “sexiest” label still hasn’t helped him shake his bachelor status.

“I am single. I'm always looking,” he confesses. “ I'm not afraid to look and find that right one. I am a very focused guy with my music right now. That right one comes along and hits me over the head and says, ‘You'd be dumb not to follow this,’ then I'll do it. But right now, it's just like I’m living by the song, and maybe I'll find that one in the process.”

Brett’s current single, “Mean to Me,” is climbing the charts now.

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Dolly Parton Accepts ALS Ice Bucket Challenge from Kenny Rogers

Webster & AssociatesWhen Kenny Rogers challenged his good pal Dolly Parton to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, he never thought she'd go through with it -- but she's now proved him wrong.

"Kenny Rogers dared me!  He said you'll never do it with your false hair, your false eyelashes, and your false nails,” Dolly says in her video accepting the challenge.  “Kenny, you'd be surprised at what all I do with my 'falses' for a good cause and a good laugh.”  The icon then removes her earrings and her scarf, but when someone off camera suggests she remove her shoes, she says, "My shoes are plastic. But then again, so's the rest of me!"

Dolly then enlists two of her nieces, Rebecca and Hannah, to pour two buckets of ice water over her head, as she screams.  "Yes, I have on a bra!" she yells. "Kenny, you gotta pay extra for the wet t-shirt contest!"

In a statement, Dolly says, "Although I didn’t challenge anyone, I do challenge everybody to make a generous donation like I did!”

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Miranda Lambert Says Kenny Chesney Taught Her How to Tour

Image Courtesy Sony Music NashvilleAs Miranda Lambert cris-crosses the country on the Platinum tour this summer, she says she owes a debt of gratitude to Kenny Chesney for teaching her how to run a happy tour.

“When I was on the Kenny tour,” she remembers, “ his crowd and his crew and his everybody has his spirit, which is, ‘I love my job. I love what I do. This should be fun. This is entertainment.’ It's just his great spirit and love of the beach and love of relaxing and having a margarita leaks throughout the entire camp, therefore throughout the entire tour to the person on the back row of the stadium, and that's what's important.”

Miranda believes having camaraderie with your opening acts also helps set the right mood.

“The people I'm taking on the tour this year are people I've been out with before. I'm kind of a creature of habit. I get real comfortable. Like, I was just with Dierks [Bentley] last year, and we've been on tour three or four times together,” she laughs. “It's Justin Moore and Thomas Rhett. I love them to death. They're both great guys.”

Ultimately, Miranda's found that what goes on behind the scenes  translates to what audiences see on the show.

“A lot of it's about how it feels backstage, too, because as much as you say you leave it back there and don't bring it on the stage, there's  a feeling about the whole package, the whole process and what it feels like,” she says. “And a tour can have a whole vibe. I think the crowd can feel that.”

This weekend, the Platinum tour swings through New York and Connecticut, before heading to Toronto next Thursday.

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Nashville Notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ ThinkstockZac Brown Band will be one of the headliners at this year’s Music Midtown festival in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park on September 19 and 20. They’ll join heavy-hitters from mainstream rock and pop like Eminem, Jack White, John Mayer, Lana Del Ray, Iggy Azalea, Gregg Allman and Run DMC.

The self-titled debut EP from new band Old Dominion is due out October 7, featuring their new single "Shut Me Up." This fall, they open for Chase Rice on select dates.

After a 17-year departure, lead singer Marty Raybon will reunite with the band Shenandoah in October for a reunion tour. Miranda Lambert references the late 80s and early 90s hitmakers in her Platinum track "Another Sunday in the South."

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Brad Paisley Challenges College Football Fans to Wear Their Colors

Image Courtesy Arista NashvilleSince Brad Paisley namechecks 18 mascots in the song "Country Nation" from his new CD Moonshine in the Trunk, it seems appropriate he's the face of College Colors Day this Friday. He's partnering with 12,000 U.S. retailers to encourage fans to wear their gear during the official kick-off of college football season this weekend.

Brad himself is an avid fan of West Virginia University.  You can see his challenge to his fellow WVU Mountaineers on YouTube.

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Chase Rice Ignites the Country Albums Chart

Image Courtesy Columbia NashvilleNewcomer Chase Rice is currently savoring the success of his first major release, Ignite the Night, as it debuts at the top of Billboard's Top Country Albums chart, selling 44,000 copies in its first week. He finds it particularly satisfying, since along the way he's been an NFL hopeful, a contestant on Survivor, and a member of a NASCAR pit crew.

"We've built things a little bit differently, starting with live shows and building up our fan base through touring," Chase says. “Now people are showing up night after night to sing these songs right along with me, and to do it the way we’ve done it and have the No. 1 country album in the nation this week is unbelievable. It's surreal.”

Chase wrote twelve of the fifteen songs on Ignite the Night, with his current single "Ready Set Roll" having already gone gold before the CD even came out. He kicks off the Ignite the Night Tour September 5 in Denver.

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Tracks from Swon Brothers Debut Album Streaming Online

Sony Music Nashville

The Swon Brothers' self-titled debut album won’t be out until October 14, but you don’t have to wait that long to hear some of it. From now through the Labor Day weekend, fans can stream four songs at  “95,” “Pretty Beautiful,” “Pray for You” and “This Side of Heaven.”

The album also features Zach and Colton’s first top twenty hit, “Later On.” The Oklahoma natives debuted the song as part of Team Blake on season 4 of The Voice. They co-produced the record with Mark Bright, who’s known for his work with Carrie Underwood and Sara Evans.

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George Strait and Garth Brooks Named America's Favorite Country Musicians

Photo Credit: Art StreiberGeorge Strait is America’s favorite country musician, according to an unscientific Harris Poll conducted in July. King George comes in at number five on the overall list, with only Led Zepplin, Beyonce, Elvis and the Beatles outranking him in popularity. Garth Brooks is the only other country artist in the top ten, tying the Eagles and Neil Diamond for the number seven spot.

Several country artists dropped off the yearly poll, including Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts and Alan Jackson. When the Harris Poll broke down their data by demographics, seniors routinely named Willie Nelson as their favorite musician.

The results come from an online poll of 2306 Americans.

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Country Star Trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockWhich country comedienne predicted Craig Morgan would be a star after hearing him sing the national anthem at age 10? ANSWER:  Sarah Cannon, a.k.a, Minnie Pearl.

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Naomi Judd Ready to Auction Off Her Treasures

M2M PRIf you've ever wanted to raid Naomi Judd's closets, now is your chance. The Beverly Hills auction firm Julien's will help the "mother" half of the legendary Judds part with some of her treasures in November.

The collection includes many of Naomi's custom stage clothes, including the ensemble she wore in the video for the Judds' 1985 hit, "Love is Alive," with the centerpiece being the vintage 1920's radio she and Wynonna and Ashley used to listen to before they were famous. The auction also includes a signature red, white and blue guitar given to her by Buck Owens, as well as some Elvis items from her husband, Larry Strickland, who used to work with the King.

The items will be on display at Julien's Auctions Beverly Hills from November 3-7, before bidding starts both online and in person on November 7&8. Naomi will donate part of the proceeds to Tuckers House, a charity that helps families with children with disabilities.

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Lee Brice Says Terminally Ill Girl Changed His Performances of "I Drive Your Truck"

Image Courtesy Curb RecordsLee Brice's latest chart-topper, "I Don't Dance," had some pretty big shoes to fill, coming after ACM Song of the Year winner "I Drive Your Truck."  And although of course Lee is proud of his latest hit, which is self-penned, "I Drive Your Truck," which he didn't write, remains a life-changing song for him. 

"I mean, it's obviously, a defining thing in my career, and it will always be," he reflects. "And obviously, I hear stories all the time from other folks and how it impacts their life. And I've heard so many of those, and they've meant so much to me."

Lee says it was actually an adolescent fan who really brought the meaning of the song home for him.

"I met this little girl, and she was 12 or 13, and she was, like, terminally ill. And it just hit me really, really on a very real level," he remembers. "I guess, maybe it's because I got kids.  If you close your eyes -- I just started to try to do this -- put yourself in her shoes or put yourself in her parents' shoes, and how does it make you really feel? And, like, imagine that."

The little girl's situation touched Lee so much, it made it hard for him to sing his hit.

"I think about her, and I’m like, 'Oh God, how do you do that?' It made a positive impact on my life to make me appreciate every day that I got, every minute I got with my family, 'cause that's why I'm enjoying it so much," he says. "That's why I'm happier than I've ever been."

Lee's new album, I Don't Dance , arrives September 9.

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The Big Revival Paves the Way for "Another Ride" for Kenny Chesney Fans

Allister AnnWhen Kenny Chesney's new album comes out next month, it'll be the end of a chapter the superstar devoted solely to recording new music. He admits not touring this summer did make him feel a little isolated.

 "I've felt like I've been a cocoon in the studio since last October," he confesses. "I mean, I've traveled some, and I've gotten away from music for a little while, but my focus and my vision has been on making music that I think that we can go out there on the road next year and really put the pedal down to."

With the album now finished, Kenny says it won't be long until he turns his attention to next summer's tour.

"I've been so busy in the studio really working hard on this music, that I haven't had a lot of time. I can't believe it's this far into 2014, and it's not gonna be that long until we start rehearsals, until we start dialing in what we're gonna do and how we're gonna present ourselves next summer.  But we had to get the music right first, " he says.

When The Big Revival comes out September 23, Kenny promises it's just the beginning of "another ride" he's looking forward to taking his fans on.

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Nashville Notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockWaylon Jennings' widow Jessi Colter will host an auction of more than two thousand pieces of memorabilia from the legendary country outlaw, ranging from a motorcycle that originally belonged to Buddy Holly to a pair of boots made by iconic designer Nudie for Hank Williams, Sr.  The auction will be held October 5 at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix.

Dustin Lynch fans who pre-order his new CD on iTunes will be able to download three of the songs instantly: his hit "Where It's At," plus "Mind Reader" and "Your Daddy's Boots." The album, also titled Where It's At, comes out September 9.

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Chris Young Sees "Lonely Eyes" Play Out at His Favorite Bar

RCA NashvilleEven though Chris Young didn't write his latest single, "Lonely Eyes," he says the barroom scene he describes in the tune could've been inspired by one of his favorite hangouts in midtown Nashville, not far from Music Row.

“Yeah, I’ve spent my fair share of time at Losers [Bar & Grill],” he laughs. “I’ve seen moments like what I sing about in ‘Lonely Eyes’ go down all the time. I’ve always said the best song wins, and the soaring melody and smart lyrics of this song grabbed me from the first time I heard it.”

Written by Johnny Bulford, Jason Matthews and Laura Veltz, "Lonely Eyes" is the third single from Chris's fourth album, A.M. His last release, "Who I Am with You," went all the way to number one.

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Darius Rucker, Little Big Town to Reveal CMA Nominees on Good Morning America

Capitol Nashville

We already knew Darius Rucker will unveil his new song, “Homegrown Honey,” next Wednesday on Good Morning America. Now there's more news: after his performance, Little Big Town will join Darius to reveal the nominees in the five major CMA Awards categories, live on GMA during the 8:30 half-hour.

After the live announcement, Darius and LBT will travel to the Best Buy Theater in Times Square to announce the rest of the contenders. While it won’t be televised, you can stream it live at starting at 10 a.m. ET.

Darius co-wrote "Homegrown Honey," the first single from his upcoming fourth solo album, with Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley and their producer, Nathan Chapman.  Look for that CD early next year.

The 48th Annual CMA Awards airs Wednesday, November 5 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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Sam Hunt Says "Leave the Night On" Is What He's All About

Image Courtesy David McClister/UMG

Newcomer Sam Hunt considers his first hit, "Leave the Night On" not only the centerpiece of his debut CD, but also a pretty good reflection of who he is musically.

"That was one of the first ones where I felt like, 'OK, this could be a direction I could go as an artist'," he says. "That song just hung around and stayed there, and in the end, when we finished the album, it was a song that we felt like would be a good first single, and it kind of represented all of what I wanted to do and kind of represents the record best in one song. And it's fun. It's a good uptempo introduction, I think."

Producer Zach Crowell recorded the CD in the bedroom of his house in East Nashville, which afforded Sam the luxury of time.

"It allowed us to really dig in, and we'd just go over things over and over," Sam says. "We weren't confined to a three-hour slot in a studio. We've spent a lot of hours just tweaking and working and coming up with sounds and bringing our buddies in who play guitar and having them play on the record."

Sam brought in members of his band, as well as some folks who'd never played on record before to help with his first CD. But he confesses there were some contributions he didn't welcome.

"He's got this little yappy dog that's running around the house all the time. We have to stop recording all the time 'cause there's barks coming in the background," he laughs.

Sam's EP X2C is available now, with his full-length CD Montevallo coming out October 27.

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