Category: ACM Awards

Stagecoach 2012: Brad Paisley talks Tupac image, new album


Brad Paisley, the headliner for Sunday’s closing night of the 2012 edition of the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio, Calif., has always been an unrepentant techno-geek, so he followed with fascination the worldwide media generated the previous two weekends by the "appearance" of Tupac Shakur during Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s reunion performance at this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

The thing is, Paisley beat them to the punch by two years, having pulled off a duet with a virtual partner at the 2010 Stagecoach Festival, where he surprised and confounded audiences with the materialization onstage of Alison Krauss, his collaborator on 2004’s “Whiskey Lullaby,” which generated multiple Academy of Country Music and Country Music Assn. awards.

“We did that Alison thing for a while, and it was as good as we could get it at the time,” Paisley said aboard his tour bus parked near Stagecoach’s Mane Stage, where a capacity crowd of 55,000 was waiting for him to go on after Sheryl Crow finished her penultimate set. “We’ve since then come up with some more tricks. It was interesting when I heard about the Tupac thing. The thing that was so interesting about that, the thing that was so shocking, of course, is that it was someone who was deceased. It’s insane. You go, ‘Whoa!’ But wait till you see what we’re doing tonight.”

PHOTOS: The scene at Stagecoach 2012

He was teasing the recurring presence of Carrie Underwood on his current Virtual Reality Tour. After Paisley launched into the opening of their hit duet “Remind Me,” audience members gasped and then cheered when a spotlight went on and there appeared the “American Idol” grad, harmonizing her lines and seeming to trade glances with her singing partner.

But it was an illusion -- like the Shakur "appearance," a realistic-looking video projection, not a true hologram. It's something Paisley touched on before that number, when he told fans: “We call this the ‘Virtual Reality Tour’ because reality is what country music is about. But it can sometimes also take you away from reality. So between the beer and our show, you’re well on your way.”

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Taylor Swift's absentee awards show date is cancer patient

Taylor Swift won entertainer of the year at the 2012 Academy of Country Music Awards
While accepting her second consecutive entertainer of the year award to cap Sunday’s Academy of Country Music Awards ceremony, Taylor Swift probably left more than a few viewers scratching their heads at her remark from the stage about her date who couldn’t join her.

After thanking fans whose votes landed her the ACM’s top honor, she said, “We work hard and we try to give back. Recently, I have been aware of a different struggle that is going on. My date tonight was supposed to be a high school football player named Kevin McGuire, and he is not here. But I promised him I’d give him a shout-out. So Kevin and all your family and friends, thank you for wanting to take me to the ACMs.”

She was talking about McGuire, a Somerdale, N.J., 18-year-old who has leukemia. His sister, Victoria, had launched a Facebook page in February hoping to persuade Taylor to attend his high school prom.

Swift responded with a post that said, "Kevin, I'm so sorry but I won't be able to make it to your prom. But I was wondering, the ACM Awards are coming up. Would you be my date? Love, Taylor."

On Saturday, his sister posted an update that her brother was too ill to attend.

"I am so sorry to announce this devastating news, but Kevin was admitted to the hospital last night, and is unable to attend the Academy of Country Music Awards with Taylor Swift,” she wrote. “As we should all live by the motto 'live for today,' a cancer patient feels the impact of these words far too hard. We appreciate everything you have done for us, and we know you are all hurt from this too. ... As for Taylor, she is just as depressed as all of us to miss out on this date, and we are so thankful for the opportunity she has given us."

Following that announcement, Swift tweeted, "Just talked to Kevin McGuire. He's not well enough to join me at the ACMs. Please keep him in your thoughts. I'll make it up to you, Kevin!"

McGuire, who was out of the hospital by Sunday and watched the show with family members at an Applebee's restaurant, told the Cherry Hill, N.J. Courier-Post, "I was perfectly fine the last two months. I didn't [get] sick or even sneeze. Before my flight I got sick. Someone out there, somehow, didn't want me going." Following a week of chemotherapy, he explained, "I had a fever and low blood counts. They're still pretty low. I'm trying to stay away from people."


PHOTOS: The 47th Academy of Country Music Awards

Swift, Lambert big winners at Academy of Country Music Awards

Taylor Swift benefit concert raises more than $750,000 for tornado victims

-- Randy Lewis

Photo: Taylor Swift with her second consecutive entertainer of the year award from the Academy of Country Music. Credit: Isaac Brekken / Associated Press.

Swift, Lambert big winners at Academy of Country Music Awards

Taylor Swift

The 47th Academy of Country Music Awards became a mini-reality show of its own on Sunday in Las Vegas: There was a bona fide onstage wedding, the surreal meeting of cartoonish hard rock band KISS and country trio Lady Antebellum, and Toby Keith singing a loopy love song to a plastic beverage container with help from Wayne Newton and Carrot Top.

The offbeat moments shared the stage with multiple award-winners Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson and the announcement of the night's top honor, entertainer of the year, which went to Taylor Swift.

“Thank you so much to the fans who voted for this, I am so happy about this,” said Swift, who also received the award last year. “I want to say to my fellow nominees: I respect you so much. I love you.”

PHOTOS: The 47th Academy of Country Music Awards

Texas-bred singer and one-time “Nashville Star” contestant Lambert added two more ACM Awards to her mantel, taking female vocalist and album of the year honors.

After her fourth album, “Four the Record,” was selected over efforts by Kenny Chesney, Aldean, Lady Antebellum and Eric Church, Lambert came to the stage in a floor-length gold lame dress and asked, “Seriously? I own every record in this category and I've been thinking ‘Man, I'm not going to get it.' … I am so thrilled, I will never take this trophy for granted. My albums are my babies.”

“Don't You Want to Stay,” the hit duet by Aldean and the first “American Idol” winner, Clarkson, won for single record and vocal event of the year. Aldean said Clarkson had been his first choice as a duet partner: “She made a great song and took it to a new place.”

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ACM Awards: Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw team up

Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw teamed up Sunday at the ACM Awards in Las Vegas
Kenny Chesney, who came into Sunday's Academy of Country Music Awards show with a field-leading nine nominations, teamed up with Tim McGraw for a performance that gave fans and the television audience a preview of their summer Brothers of the Sun co-headlining stadium tour.

The two country heartthrobs sang the new single "Feel Like a Rock Star," a cigarette lighter and cellphone-ready anthem that's sure to provide a big moment each night as they work their way across the country beginning June 2 in Florida.

The tour, anticipated to be one of the biggest draws of the summer and probably of the year, reaches California with a July 14 stop at Anaheim Stadium. Year in and year out, Chesney ranks near the top of concert draws nationwide, and McGraw also is a consistently popular attraction on his own and when he has toured with wife Faith Hill.


Lambert has a voice

PHOTOS: The 47th Academy of Country Music Awards 

Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean lead country music awards nominations

-- Randy Lewis

Photo:  Kenny Chesney during a 2011 performance at the Hollywood Bowl. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times.

ACM Awards: Album, song honors for Miranda Lambert, Eli Young Band

Click here for more photos from the 47th Academy of Country Music Awards

The first awards handed out during Sunday's Academy of Country Music Awards ceremony at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas went to Miranda Lambert's "Four the Record" as album of the year and Eli Young Band's "Crazy Girl," named song of the year. 

Lambert's fourth album, “Four the Record,” was selected over works by Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Kenny Chesney and Eric Church. In her floor-length gold lamé dress, she came to the stage and asked, “Seriously”? I own every record in this category and I’ve been thinking, ‘Man, I’m not going to get it.’ … I am so thrilled, I will never take this trophy for granted. My albums are my babies.”

The Eli Young Band's affirmation of love through hard times topped a field that also included Dierks Bentley's "Home," Lady Antebellum's "Just a Kiss," Vince Gill's "Threaten Me With Heaven" and Chesney and Grace Potter's "You and Tequila." 

"Holy cow, I have dreamed about this moment my whole life," lead singer Mike Eli said, before thanking his wife and their soon-to-be-born child.


Lambert has a voice

PHOTOS: The 47th Academy of Country Music Awards 

Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean lead country music awards nominations

-- Randy Lewis

Photo of the Eli Young Band performing during Academy of Country Music weekend in Las Vegas. Credit:  Jeff Bottari / Associated Press.


Miranda Lambert: Second Pistol Annies album coming soon

Miranda Lambert is nominated for two Academy of Country Music Awards
When The Times spoke to Miranda Lambert recently for a story in Calendar, in which she reflects on her two nominations for Sunday’s Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas, she also talked about the Pistol Annies, the band she formed with Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley. That album took off rapidly when their debut album, “Hell on Heels,” came out last summer.

She said the Pistols are already writing songs for a second album, which the band plans to record in the fall and put out next year. That means fans should expect a bit of a wait for Lambert’s next solo album, the follow-up to her “Four the Record,” which is in the running for album of the year in this year’s ACM Awards.

“I’m not going to think about that for a while,” she said. “This one barely got in under the wire” to make the eligibility period for ACM Award consideration. “It’s always so much work — I’m glad to do it, but I feel so relieved when it’s done.”

In addition to her own album, the Pistol Annies collection and her current “On Fire” tour, which includes a stop next month at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio, Lambert also managed to squeeze in her wedding to longtime beau Blake Shelton, who will be co-hosting Sunday’s award show once again with Reba McEntire. The CBS telecast begins at 8 p.m. Pacific time from the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas. The show is tape delayed for the West Coast.


Miranda Lambert coaches herself along

Album review: Miranda Lambert's 'Four the Record'

Miranda Lambert evolves on her new album 'Revolution'

-- Randy Lewis

Photo: Miranda Lambert. Credit: Randee St. Nicholas.

Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean lead country music awards nominations

Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter are nominated for multiple Academy of Country Music Awards
Kenny Chesney has come roaring back in terms of industry recognition with a field-dominating nine nominations for this year's Academy of Country Music Awards.

The runner-up for most nods was Jason Aldean, who collected six, ahead of Lady Antebellum with five, Brad Paisley with four and Taylor Swift, Toby Keith, Grace Potter and the Eli Young Band with three apiece, academy officials announced Thursday.

Newer-vintage performers such as Miranda Lambert and Zac Brown scored the most nominations last year, but Chesney this year is up for entertainer of the year, male vocalist and song of the year, plus double dips under the ACM's rules recognizing performers who also are producers, for his album "Hemingway’s Whiskey," his hit single (with Grace Potter) "You and Tequila" and vocal event for the same song.

Chesney, Swift, Aldean and Paisley are joined by Blake Shelton vying for the ACM's top trophy, entertainer of the year, which went to Swift last year.

Swift also is in the running again in the female vocalist category, along with repeat nominees Sara Evans, Lambert, Martina McBride and Carrie Underwood, while Aldean, Chesney, Paisley, Shelton and Chris Young are up for male vocalist honors.

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Kris Kristofferson, Ray Price, Merle Haggard, others remember country music songwriter Hank Cochran

Hank Cochran-boat

Hank Cochran, the celebrated country songwriter and singer who died Thursday at age 74 from pancreatic cancer, spent most of his life immersed in music, searching for the next song to write, and it sounds like that’s the way he spent his final time on Earth.

“I spent the last day of his life at his bedside along with his family and a few close friends,” singer and songwriter Jamey Johnson told me in an e-mail he sent a few hours after Cochran died at his home in Hendersonville, Tenn. “Buddy [Cannon, the songwriter] joined us later in the afternoon and brought along Billy Ray Cyrus. We sang a range of old gospel songs and many of his own songs to him: ‘I Fall to Pieces,’ ‘Is it Raining at Your House,’ ‘Set 'em Up Joe’ and ‘Make the World Go Away.’

“My 6-year-old daughter even sang along with us on ‘The Chair,’ and she got a kick out of Billy Ray's ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ which even got Hank singing along for a note or two,” Johnson noted. “Although Hank was tired, he didn't want anyone to leave. He was enjoying the fellowship.”

Because Cochran had been struggling for a long time with cancer, many of his friends kept in close touch and spoke to him in person or by phone in his final days. Ray Price told me, “I talked to Hank on Monday and had a chance to say goodbye. This is not a real happy day; he will be missed, I guarantee it. … He was a great person in our business, and he contributed an awful lot.”

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Stagecoach 2010: Brooks & Dunn...and done!

Because Brooks & Dunn and Toby Keith played Sunday night after the deadline for Monday Calendar's Stagecoach report, coverage of their performances is being blogged on Pop & Hiss:


The charitable view of Kix Brooks & Ronnie Dunn’s announcement last August that they’ve decided to call it quits as a duo, which included the detail that they wouldn’t do so until the end of a 2010 farewell tour, is that they wanted to give fans some closure, one last chance to see them live.

The cynical view is that they simply want to give a fading career one last jolt in the bank account before each musician moves on to new ventures. It’s hard not to take the cynical view when Brooks & Dunn’s long hit streak, which started to sputter about a decade ago, was built on songs that craftily — cynically? — combine time-honored country music imagery, push-button emotions and frequently derivative instrumental and melodic hooks.

All were in play Sunday night as the farewell tour touched down at Stagecoach. The set went heavy on the hits, and no production touch was too shameless for their adoring crowd, including the trotting out of three military officers in full uniform to salute the flag during 2001's “Only in America,” which concluded with the firing of confetti cannons packed with red, white and blue streamers.

Or consider the chorus of “Hard Workin’ Man,” their 1993 hit.

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Reporter's Notebook: Offstage at the Academy of Country Music Awards

Miranda Lambert scored twice at Sunday night's Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas, winning album of the year for "Revolution" and being named top female vocalist. If she seemed especially flabbergasted by the vocalist win, it wasn't an act.

When I spoke with her last year just before "Revolution" was released, she spoke with great pride about the strides she'd taken in her songwriting. Yet she had trouble mustering much confidence in talking about her singing -- something that left her boyfriend, singer-songwriter Blake Shelton, shaking his head in disbelief and chiding her for not owning up to that facet of her talent when he joined in on the interview.

But she's starting to get the message. After the show, as she, Shelton and a few close friends and family members celebrated both of their wins -- Shelton took the trophy for vocal event for his "Hillbilly Bone" duet with Trace Adkins -- I commented on the choice of the ballad "The House That Built Me" for her ACM spotlight performance rather than one of her signature upbeat numbers bursting with take-no-prisoners attitude.

"This time, I just wanted to stand there and sing," Lambert said. And sing she did, in what was one of the standout performances among the two dozen songs over the course of the three-hour ceremony.

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