Viewership For ACM Awards Increased; So Did Performers’ Sales

Brody Vercher | June 2nd, 2008

  • The 43rd Academy of Country Music Awards saw a 27 percent increase in viewers from 2007 and the artists who performed during the show saw a dramatic increase in sales. In light of the positive news, Orly Adelson, President of Dick Clark Productions, said, “We are very excited about what lies ahead and are accelerating development of country themed original programming.”
  • Cindy Watts has a great piece on the upcoming country singer Crystal Shawanda, who grew up on a reservation where her family didn’t have indoor plumbing. The English translation of her last name, Dawn of a New Day, will be the title of her debut album.
  • For the second time in three years LeAnn Rimes canceled her appearance at a large country music event in Arizona.
  • The Tennessean’s Jonathan Marx talked to Jeffrey Buckner Ford, the eldest son of Tennessee Ernie Ford, on the subjects of his father and his “memoigraphy” about his parents titled River of No Return.
  • In a moment of spontaneity Tim McGraw treated 9-year-old Luke Wood to a moment he won’t soon forget. Luke’s mom tells the story:

    “He made a simple sign, ‘Can I sing with you?’ And brought it with us. I was completely shocked when Tim started singing ‘Last Dollar (Fly Away)’ and motioned for him to come forward. Before I knew it he was whisked onstage, Tim handed him a mic and began singing with Luke,” she explained.

  • Former Trick Pony lead singer Heidi Newfield will release her solo debut, What Am I Waiting For?, on August 5th.
  • Chet Flippo has an interesting blog post about several videos that “went under the microscope at the latest CMT Music and Talent department’s weekly video meeting” and the reactions that they received.
  • Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson never figured out what draws people towards Western Swing, but if and when he makes his final bow and hangs his hat up, he feels there are plenty of people to keep the sound going, afterall, there have been over 90 people in the band.
  • Joel Selvin claims that Kenny Chesney may be the biggest thing that country music has ever seen. Irony? Yes, but in a way it might be true. However, after 50 years have gone by, will he be remembered the way Hank Williams is remembered, or the way Johnny Cash is remembered? The 40-year old singer talks about the music that he makes. He knows his music isn’t traditional, but he thinks his stories are country, thinks the way he sings is country, but stops just short of calling his music rock.
  • Dave Hunter lists the “Top 5 Essential Alt-Country Albums;” the five albums that he says “will at least give you an excellent handle on what this whole ‘alt-country’ thing is.” (via Twang Nation)
  • The latest edition of Hazel Smith’s “Hot Dish” includes a story about a man who has had a mandolin that belonged to Ira Louvin hanging on his wall for 23 years. The man, Greg Kaczor, recently arranged a meeting with Charlie Louvin to give it to him.

    “Right on time, I spotted Charlie on the corner having a smoke. I park. We meet. I reach for the mandolin and see a sparkle in his eyes. That was really an awesome moment. Being a musician, I wish I had every instrument I’d let slip through my fingers. But this was his brother’s! A brother he lost in a tragic car wreck in the mid ’60s. An instrument that they used to sit around and jam with. To him, this mandolin is like an old friend he had not seen in 50 years. Musicians know that an instrument becomes a part of you — an extension of your soul. It can take you back in time — the tone of it, the feel of it, the smell of it and, of course, visually. … Both of us were smiling when he told me he always liked the sound of that mandolin.”

  • Twang Nation’s Baron Lane asks “where can a self respecting upright, clean thinking country music fan find solace in this world of soulless corporate market-tested pop-country confection?” The answer: Eleven Hundred SpringsCountry Jam, which echoes Ben Cisneros’ own thoughts.
  • Craig Bickhardt posted a song to his blog about his son, who lives with cerebral palsy. It’s a song he wrote about a dozen years ago, a personal song that he never intended to capitalize on. He’ll leave the link up for about a week, so check it out sooner rather than later.
  1. Kelly
    June 2, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Hard to argue with the picks for “top 5 alt-country” albums. A top 10 list would have required more guts. You HAVE to place Wilco, Uncle Tupelo, Whiskeytown and Son Volt in a top 5. That would be like me taking pride in placing Hank Sr. and Johnny Cash in a “Top 5 Country artists” list. A top 10 list would require the “list-maker” to place a value on the contributions of The Bottle Rockets, Old 97’s, Lucinda Williams, Drive by Truckers, and Ryan Adams’ solo work. That is where the real argument starts, my alt-country lovin’ compadres…

  2. Stormy
    June 2, 2008 at 11:38 am

    The problem with including Uncle Tueplo, Son Volt and Wilco in the top five is the duplication. We couldn’t have left Uncle Tupelo and given one of the other two spots to Lucinda. It rankles a bit that the mother of alt-country gets no credit while Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farer get double.

  3. Stormy
    June 2, 2008 at 11:42 am

    A note on Asleep at the Wheel: One of the coolest things I have ever seen at a concert was an 80 year old Jamacian, bedecked in cultural costume, dancing unabashedly to Asleep at the Wheel at ACL Fest.

    The most amazing moment I ever had at a concert came a year earlier when ACL Fest fell in the middle of Hurricane Rita and just after Katrina and Ray broke out his cover of “Lousiana 1927″ and Elizabeth McQueen followed it up with “What A Wonderful World” and we all just fell into this mass of people crying and holding each other up despite most of us being strangers.

  4. Kelly
    June 2, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Stormy, this is what I am talking about. the list maker obviously was attempting to provide a list that could be used as a “starter” versus a real historical lineage type of list. What I love is that you could argue that Williams wasnt really “alt-country” until the “car wheels” disc, which came out after the discs named in the original list. Her earlier discs were more folky than rock. You could have a dozen different “top 5’s” depending on what angle you are coming from. A true historical “top 5 alt-country” would likely have to include The Knitters, Jason & The Scorchers among others, but you rarely hear those mentioned inside the Farrar/Tweedy pantheon.

  5. Baron Lane
    June 2, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    The problem I had with the top 5 list was the inclusion of Wilco. Didn’t they forfeit when they started trying to be the American version of Radiohead?

  6. Razor X
    June 2, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    I’m not thrilled about the ratings news for the ACM program, as it was a total misrepresentation of what country music should be.

    I read the SF Gate article about Chesney and it really left me scratching my head. I can’t think of any criteria by which he would be the “biggest country star ever”. I just don’t see him having that kind of impact — now or in the future.

  7. northtexas
    June 2, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    “I’m not thrilled about the ratings news for the ACM program, as it was a total misrepresentation of what country music should be.”

    You should go into politics because you’re always on message!! Maybe you should be appointed the Grand Imperial Wizard of country music with the power to expel any artist who doesn’t pass the Loretta Lynn litmus test and excommunicate as country fans anyone who purchases, request and votes for pop-country artists.

  8. Mike Parker
    June 2, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Razor X,

    I agree on Chesney… I just don’t get how he’d earn that moniker. I’ve always felt that he’s just some sort of stand in until a real star comes along. Twenty years from now, I can’t think of one song of Kenny’s that’s going to still be as meaningful for me as something like “The Dance” is for me- almost 20 years later. Shoot, several of Randy Travis’ original songs are more “classic” than I think any of Kenny’s will be. Maybe it has something to do with being a teenager in the late 80’s/early 90’s- but Kenny’s body of decent songs doesn’t contain any greats.

  9. Razor X
    June 2, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    NorthTexas said: “…Maybe you should be appointed the Grand Imperial Wizard of country music with the power to expel any artist who doesn’t pass the Loretta Lynn litmus test and excommunicate as country fans anyone who purchases, request and votes for pop-country artists.”

    I would relish the opportunity. ;-)

  10. Razor X
    June 2, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Mike Parker said, “I agree on Chesney

  11. northtexas
    June 2, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    “I would relish the opportunity. ;-)”

    OK, as the newly appointed country music Grand Imperial Wizard will I be kicked out of country fanhood if my three favorite current female country artists are:
    Carrie Underwood
    Ashton Shepherd
    Crystal Shawanda

  12. Razor X
    June 2, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    northtexas, no one who appreciates Ashton Shepherd will be banished. The Carrie thing is cause for concern, but Ashton offsets her. But don’t let me catch you with any Jessica Simpson or Taylor Swift CDs!! ;-)

  13. northtexas
    June 2, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    “But don’t let me catch you with any Jessica Simpson or Taylor Swift CDs!! ;-)”

    LOL!! No chance of that happening! Also you won’t find any Flatts Boys stuff in my collection either because I could be stripped of my Texas citizenship!
    Carrie is my only pop-country guilty pleasure. Nobody’s perfect.

  14. Chris N.
    June 2, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Your first act as Grand Imperial Wizard should be to come up with a title for yourself that isn’t quite so KKK-ish.

  15. northtexas
    June 2, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    “Your first act as Grand Imperial Wizard should be to come up with a title for yourself that isn’t quite so KKK-ish.”

    Sorry about that! How about Country Music Tsar?

  16. Razor X
    June 2, 2008 at 3:51 pm


    I like that better.

  17. Peter Kohan
    June 2, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    But the big story of the day is Handelman – Wal-Mart’s foremost music supplier and rack jobber – abandoning their CD business altogether.

    Not like I’m surprised, but it doesn’t bode well for Wal-Mart’s continued commitment to the category – which would have a huge impact on country music sales.

  18. Kelly
    June 2, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Baron: As usual, I agree with you, but only to a point. While Wilco’s work as a wole doesnt qualify as “alt-country”, I think the “Being There” album was key in successfully bridging the gap and creating this amazing grey area where people like me have a hard time truly defining what “alt-country” is.

  19. Chris N.
    June 2, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Better, but I’m still not sure. And remember, “Emperor” is taken.

  20. Stormy
    June 2, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    And there is also no mention of people like Steve Earle and Joe Ely who were alt-country before there was an alt-country.

  21. Rick
    June 3, 2008 at 1:24 am

    That fine article on Crystal Shawanda has moved to:

    Crystal’s rough vocals may command Joe Galante’s attention, but Top 40 country radio prefers smooth female voices (with the screechy exception of Taylor Swift). Amber Dotson has one of the best female country voices I’d heard in years, and look how far that got her…. I like Crystal and I like her music and wish her well. If she breaks the Top 20 with “You Can Let Go” it will be a minor miracle.

    What draws people to Western Swing music? The inherent excellence of the genre, if executed properly by groups like The Hot Club of Cowtown, the Quebe Sisters, and Cowbop…

    As for that list of essential alt. country albums, the author should just come to California and marry Fay Farrar and get it over with….. (Yes, I’m just being ridiculously snarky here…..)

  22. Stormy
    June 3, 2008 at 6:54 am

    I don’t know if it was Farrar love or just plain laziness. Lets facce it, that is the easiest alt-country list you could compile without using a No Depression compliation.

  23. Kelly
    June 3, 2008 at 8:01 am

    I agree, in fact, in the spirit of his “daring” list, I am going to compile a “top” list of all time inventions, and maybe, just maybe certain things like the wheel, telephone, light bulb, and the internet might, just might make the list…

  24. Stormy
    June 3, 2008 at 8:41 am

    Kelly: Just remember, if you don’t include tampons your list is going to be disregarded by every women ever.

  25. Kelly
    June 3, 2008 at 9:03 am

    Good point Stormy, what the heck, add it to the list…

  26. J.R. Journey
    June 4, 2008 at 9:43 am

    Is the Greg Kaczor that had a mandolin that belonged to Ira Louvin hanging on his wall for 23 years the same Greg Kaczor who is recently divorced from Terri Clark?

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