Category: Brad Paisley

Album review: Brad Paisley's 'This Is Country Music'

Paisley Brad Paisley is one of the savviest guys in country music, often finding crafty ways of pushing the tightly controlled envelope of what reaches the mainstream audience. His skills as a songwriter, guitarist extraordinaire and distinctively expressive singer are obvious at many turns on his latest album. But on this outing Paisley doesn’t move the musical conversation forward the way he’s done in several previous albums.

Last time out, with “American Saturday Night,” he broached social issues that don’t get much time in the spotlight in the happy-go-luck world of contemporary country. There are hints here — in the wit of “Camouflage,” which may well be an understated nod to the idea of the American melting pot; the title track also briefly nudges pop music’s content boundaries, noting in its opening line “You’re not supposed to say the word ‘cancer’ in a song.”

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Bon Jovi tops the 2010 tour list, followed by AC/DC, U2 and Lady Gaga

Jonbonjovi The concert business was hit in 2010 by some of the same tough economic times that have been gripping other factions in the music industry in recent years, but New Jersey rock group Bon Jovi has reason to pop the Champagne anyway.

The band posted the highest grossing concert tour of the year not only in North America, but across the globe, topping the $200-million mark worldwide, according to figures released Tuesday by Pollstar, the concert-tracking publication.

Bon Jovi posted total concert revenue of $201.1 million, a little over half that figure -- $108.2 million -- from the North American dates on its world tour.

Behind the group on Pollstar's worldwide ranking is AC/DC with gross ticket sales of $177 million, followed in the top 5 by U2 ($160.9 million), Lady Gaga ($133.6 million) and Metallica ($110.1 million).

Looking only at North American tour numbers, Roger Waters and his remounting of Pink Floyd's "The Wall" was second to Bon Jovi with a tour gross of $89.5 million, followed by the Dave Matthews Band ($72.9 million), Canadian pop crooner Michael Bublé ($65.7 million) and the Eagles ($64.5 million).

The big guns, however, couldn't bring up the entire concert business over last year's numbers. The top 50 North American tours combined for an overall take of $1.69 billion, down about 15% from $1.99 billion in 2009. The story was only marginally better throughout the world, where the top 50 total tour gross of $2.93 billion was off about 12% from $3.34 billion a year earlier.

Numbers were down almost across the board: total ticket sales dropped 12% in North America, from 29.9 million in 2009 to 26.2 million last year, and decreased 7% worldwide, from 45.3 million in 2009 to 38.3 million in 2010.

Top_20_Tours_of_2010 The only increase reported by Pollstar was in the average ticket price worldwide, which went up by $2.86 per ticket, or about 4%. Tickets in North America actually dropped by about $1.55 or 2%. Even Bon Jovi's field-leading $108.2 million for North America was the lowest figure in recent years for the No. 1 spot. The record high belongs to the Rolling Stones, who took in $162 million on their 2005 "A Bigger Bang" tour.

"Artists worked fewer shows in a tough business climate and those that overreached suffered the consequences," Pollstar editor Gary Bongiovanni said in a statement that accompanied the numbers. "In general, the international concert business was stronger than in North America, where overbooked and overpriced shows at outdoor amphitheater venues made it an especially difficult year for Live Nation," a reference to the world's largest concert promoter.

Former Beatle Paul McCartney has received consistent praise for his stamina, still typically delivering three-hour performances while touring at age 68. But he generally worked fewer nights for more money than most of his peers. His average gross of $3.86 million per night over 21 dates in 2010, and an average ticket price of $138.49, gave him the highest per-concert average in North America, followed by Bon Jovi ($2.85 million), Waters ($2.49 million), Alejandro Fernandez ($2.4 million) and Elton John-Billy Joel ($1.97 million).

Popularity-wise, however, Dave Matthews Band reigned, selling 1.27 million tickets in North America for the year. Bon Jovi was second with 1.18 million, Justin Bieber with 987,000, John Mayer with 894,000 and Brad Paisley with 880,000.

Rounding out the top 10 grossing North American tours were McCartney, who took in $61.8 million over 42 shows in 38 cities. Lady Gaga finished No. 7 with total ticket sales of $51 million, followed by the James Taylor-Carole King "Troubadour" reunion tour that nipped at Gaga's 6-inch spiked heels with a $50.7 million total gross, the Black Eyed Peas at $50.5 million and singer-songwriter guitarist John Mayer at No. 10 with $49.9 million.

Bublé also performed well around the world, finishing at No. 6 behind Metallica with $104.2 million, the "Walking With Dinosaurs" animatronics tour ($104.1 million), McCartney ($93 million), the Eagles (92.3 million) and Waters ($89.5 million).

Michaelbuble "Walking With Dinosaurs" attracted more patrons than any other tour, logging almost 2.06 million visitors. But the spectacle's overall gross finished farther down the list because the average ticket price was a comparatively modest $50.56.

Billboard's concert business rankings, which cover a slightly different, non-calendar year -- Nov. 22, 2009-Nov. 20, 2010 -- and factor in worldwide tour revenues, also place Bon Jovi at the top of the heap, with a gross during that period of $146.5 million from sales of nearly 1.59 million tickets.

The rest of the magazine's top five touring acts were largely consistent with Pollstar's, with the No. 2 slot taken by U2 ($131.5 million, 1.31 million tickets), then AC/DC ($122.6 million, 1.16 million tickets), Lady Gaga ($116.2 million, 1.36 million tickets) and Black Eyed Peas ($81.6 million, 1.26 million tickets). U2 scored its penultimate finish with only 22 stadium shows, compared to 69 performances for Bon Jovi.

U2 was tops on Pollstar's list of 2009's biggest tours, posting $123 million and another 1.31 million tickets sold. The Irish quartet was the only act to top the $100-million mark last year, with Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band coming in second with $94.5 million, Elton John and Billy Joel's duo tour pulling in $88 million, Britney Spears at $82.5 million and AC/DC fifth with $77.9 million.

Among Pollstar's Top 100 North American tours, the crown for highest average ticket price of 2010 goes to Waters, who charged an average of $126.14 per ticket. That's considerably less than last year's high of $173.89 for Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks Live" tour.

Pollstar will release a full Top 200 early next month in its 2010 Year End Special Edition.

 -- Randy Lewis

Top photo: Jon Bon Jovi led the concert word with over $200-million in concert revenue. Credit: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images.

Bottom photo: Michael Bublé also had a good year, including finishing at No. 6 internationally. Credit: Associated Press.

CMA Awards 2010: Brad Paisley & Miranda Lambert win big

The Times' Randy Lewis recapped the Country Music Assn. Awards for the new Envelope blog Awards Tracker. An excerpt is below.

BRAD_PAISLEY_CMAS_AP_4 Texas country music firebrand Miranda Lambert won big at the 44th Country Music Assn. Awards ceremony on Wednesday in Nashville, taking home trophies for best album, top female vocalist and video in connection with her album “Revolution.” Brad Paisley took the night’s top award as entertainer of the year, and Lady Antebellum’s chart-topping hit “Need You Now” was named the year’s best single.

The entertainer award to Paisley recognizes a combination of live performance, recorded music and ambassadorship for country music. “My hero is Little Jimmy Dickens,” Paisley said, mimicking the broken voice of the Grand Ole Opry veteran, “and he has a saying: ‘If you see a turtle on a fencepost, it had help getting up there.' I feel like a turtle on a fencepost at this point.”

Lambert, whose awards came on the day she turned 27, said, “‘Revolution’ has truly caused a revolution in my life this year.... It’s my baby; it’s what I live for. Thank you so much for loving it too.” “The House That Built Me,” a Tom Douglas-Allen Shamblin composition that Lambert sang on the album, was named song and video of the year.

Blake Shelton, Lambert’s fiancé, took two awards, including male vocalist in what may have been the evening’s biggest surprise, trumping George Strait, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley. Sugarland took the vocal duo trophy.

Atlanta’s party-minded jam group the Zac Brown Band was named new artist of the year, and the Georgia-based trio Lady Antebellum also collected vocal group honors on a show that sought to pump up its celebrity quotient, and ratings, by showcasing actress Gwyneth Paltrow in her public debut as a country singer.

Paltrow, awkwardly strumming an acoustic guitar and joined by Vince Gill, sang the title song from her forthcoming film, “Country Strong,” for which Nashville pros helped guide her through a crash course in country music to prepare for her role, and to do her own singing, in the tale of a fallen country star who tries to overcome a personal tragedy and an alcohol abuse problem to regain her career.

Read more on Awards Tracker.

-- Randy Lewis

Photo: Brad Paisley / Associated Press

 

CMT Awards 2010: Country videos plus Jamey Johnson song premiere

Jamey Johnson 
Music award shows such as the Country Music Television cable channel’s CMT Awards at 8 tonight exist chiefly to recognize distinguished works, typically of the recent past — and attract audiences with all the star power they can muster — rather than to provide a forum for the discovery of new music.

But tonight’s ceremony from Nashville highlighting viewers’ favorite country music videos of the past year also is giving a first look and listen to singer-songwriter Jamey Johnson’s ambitious new album “The Guitar Songs,” which doesn’t come out until September.

Johnson, who gained critical accolades and a healthy amount of commercial success for his 2008 album “That Lonesome Song” and its award-laden single “In Color” apparently has been on a writing frenzy. He’s assembled two CDs worth of new material: 25 songs, including “Macon,” the one he’s slated to sing tonight at the CMT event, an atmospheric tale of a Georgia trucker on his way home.

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Lost in the Nashville flood: Musical instruments galore


Nashville Soundcheck warehouse

Anyone who knows the feeling of becoming intimately familiar with a particular musical instrument can’t help but sympathize with all those musicians who lost prized pieces of equipment during the recent floods in Nashville.

I reached out to several to ask whether they’d been affected by the wall of water that submerged Soundcheck Nashville, one of the key musical equipment storage facilities there. A lot of people think of instruments as little more than furniture that's easily replaceable, but that notion quickly fades when you hear a musician talk about a favorite piece of musical equipment. And even for those instruments that might be in good enough shape to repair, the chorus from those dealing with them was remarkably consistent: "They'll never be the same."

Brad Paisley had all his guitars and other equipment he uses on tour at Soundcheck because he and his crew were rehearsing for a tour that opens May 21 in Virginia Beach, Va. Ironically, it’s “The H20 Tour” from the track “Water” on his latest album, recorded long before the flood.

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Live from Las Vegas: 45th Academy of Country Music Awards

Lady a
Reporting from Las Vegas -- For most people, the 2 a.m. closing-time phone call to an ex- is an act of desperation, but Lady Antebellum turned it into a source of inspiration in their hit “Need You Now,” which brought the Augusta, Ga., trio top awards, including vocal group, single and song of the year Sunday at the 45th Academy of Country Music Awards ceremony here.

The ACM’s reigning entertainer of the year, Carrie Underwood, made it two in a row in something of an upset over country-pop princess Taylor Swift, who outsold every other act in pop music in 2009 and otherwise dominated country and pop, also launching her first headlining arena tour with a slate of sold out shows across the country. Swift gave Underwood a hug as the “American Idol” winner took the stage to accept the award, which was voted on by fans during the show and over the last several weeks.

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Lady Antebellum, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert lead ACM nominations

Lady Antebellum 2

Lady Antebellum continues its ascent in country music circles, nabbing a field-leading seven nominations for the 45th Academy of Country Music Awards, among them album, single, song and top vocal group.

The Georgia trio is the hottest act in all of pop music at the moment, having sold more than 1 million copies of its sophomore album “Need You Now” in the four weeks since it was released in January. Lady Antebellum just edged out Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert, who scored six nominations each, and Taylor Swift with five nods. It creates a roster of top award contenders heavy on new blood.

Swift, who upset a slate of country veterans at last fall’s Country Music Assn. Awards in being named that organization’s youngest entertainer of the year winner ever, is in the running for the same trophy at this year’s ACMs. The organization expanded the entertainer category to include eight names this year, up from the usual five: the other nominees are Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, George Strait, Keith Urban and the Zac Brown Band.

Voting for entertainer of the year will be open once again to fans, and audience input also will be factored into the award for best new artist. Awards will be handed out April 18 at a ceremony from the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, to be telecast on CBS.

--Randy Lewis

Photo of Lady Antebellum (left to right): Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood. Credit: Miranda Penn Turin

Live review: Brad Paisley at Staples Center

BradPaisleyStory Over the course of seven increasingly sophisticated albums since 1999, Brad Paisley has established one of country music’s more compelling personas: He’s the ordinary guy constantly on the verge of being overwhelmed by extraordinary circumstances, be they emotional (songs about the miracle of parenthood), cultural (songs about the shifting definition of masculinity) or technological (songs about this here gosh-dang Internet).

On Friday night at Staples Center, where he brought his current tour in support of last year’s album “American Saturday Night,” Paisley appeared determined to have his fans experience that point of view for themselves. This was a nearly two-hour country concert in which the threat of sensory overload never seemed more than a few seconds away.

After a solid but unremarkable opening set by Texas firebrand Miranda Lambert, the show began -- like many of his songs -- with a fake-out: Paisley performing “Start a Band” by himself behind a microphone designed to resemble the one at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. Then a scrim dropped, the singer’s state-of-the-art stage set materialized, and we were suddenly knee-deep in the title track from “American Saturday Night,” a backyard barbecuer’s ode to the wonders of international free trade.

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Taylor Swift: Young, fearless and in control

The country-pop star wins Entertainer of the Year and three other prizes in a night dominated by up-and-comers.

SWIFT_GETTY_LIVE In 1958, Johnny Cash released the song "Ballad of a Teenage Queen," the story of a pretty small-town girl who won Hollywood fame but gave it all up for the boy next door. In 2009 -- on Wednesday night, actually, in Nashville, at the annual Country Music Assn. Awards ceremony -- Taylor Swift updated and obliterated that story line.

The 19-year-old songwriter and universe-shifting star won in four categories, beating out mainstays such as Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban to claim country music for youth, femininity and pop. She also performed two numbers and was the subject of much running humor throughout the program, which found its spark whenever one of country's current batch of New Non-Traditionalists took the stage.

Swift started things out with a version of "Forever and Always" that was glitzy and high-concept -- and off-tune, a consistent characteristic of Swift's live outings that gave the lie to her one undeserved triumph, for best female vocalist. The prize should have gone to Carrie Underwood, country's most powerful young singer and the evening's co-host with Brad Paisley.

Struggling for her notes but not showing any concern about it, Swift made a flurry of arena-rock moves, shaking her long, gold tresses as if she were Robert Plant and sliding down a shiny pole in what seemed like a defiant nod toward her friend Miley Cyrus, who took guff for similar gyrations on this year's Teen Choice Awards. By the end of this production number, she owned the night. And she kept on owning it, right down to her tearful acceptance of the Entertainer of the Year prize, which she shared with her touring band and her fans, "and the shirts you made yourselves."

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This week's on-sales: Brad Paisley, Jay-Z, Julian Casablancas and more


Brad600

Staples Center

Brad Paisley, Feb. 19; Jay-Z, March 26 (Sat.)

Gibson Amphitheatre

Omid, Nov. 25 (now)

Downtown Palace Theatre
Julian Casablancas, Nov. 13 and 30 (now)

UCI Bren Events Center

Weezer, Jan. 11 (Sat.)

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