Thursday, February 23, 2006

I don't have a cute title for this post. But I wanted to tell you about my buddy Thom Shepherd's show tonight at the Bluebird Cafe.

Thom is a songwriter. He wrote Riding with Private Malone, which went #1 for David Ball in 2001, and Redneck Yacht Club which just went #1 for Craig Morgan. We also got to hear a song called Man's Job that he just wrote a couple of weeks ago, and Montgomery Gentry has already cut it. Thom has put out a few CD's himself, his music plays on XM 10, America. He's really just a great guy, always, always, ALWAYS has a smile on his face.

I've seen Thom play at several clubs around town over the years, but tonight was a pretty special show, and not just because it was at the legendary Bluebird Cafe. This was Thom's first gig in several months, having just completed 9 weeks of chemotherapy. He looked great, a cowboy hat covered up his bald head, but nothing could cover up his big smile.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Boat Drinks

One of the coolest events of CRS week, in my humble opinion, is the RCA Label Group dinner cruise. It's also the joke of CRS week... folks talking about how RLG holds you hostage and forces you to listen to their artists. I think the people complaining are the ones who aren't invited. I ain't gonna complain about being wined and dined while listening to some of the biggest artists in country music give me a free concert. It's my favorite event of the week.

The premise is simple. They load up about 700 invited guests, mostly radio folks from out of town, onto the General Jackson, and sail the Cumberland River. (Unlike many places... our riverboat actually sails, and does not have any slot machines on board!) They give you a full dinner, and an open bar.

This was the 20th anniversary of the RLG boat, so what they were asking artists to do was their first hit, and their most recent hit. Most of them complied. The ones that didn't apparently weren't sober enough to follow directions.

Randy Owen of Alabama did the intro for the night, and Brooks & Dunn kicked off the performances. They did Brand New Man and Believe. Ronnie, wearing a 1974 Rolling Stones t-shirt, admitted that "this is a wierd song to lay on you right now," as he performed their latest hit, but it earned them a standing ovation.

Funny little B&D interaction:
Ronnie: "You're in radio these days aren't you? I never did trust you."
Kix: (New host of American Country Countdown) "You might want to start listening to the show."

Phil Vassar, who is one of the most energetic entertainers we have in country music and is badly overlooked by the industry and the media, did Carlene and his new song "Last Day Of My Life." What a great song that is! Phil did not climb on the grand piano, but he moved around so much I never could get a decent photo of him.

In between the superstars, the label trotted out their new artists, most of whom did one song. Because that's all they had. Jamey Johnson did The Dollar.

Next up was Lonestar, who performed No News and I'll Die Trying. Which really should be packaged with Phil's Last Day of My Life in some sort of marketing bundle with roses and chocolate.

An artist who shall remain nameless came next to perform their debut single. I think this artist's career died right there on the stage over cheesecake and chocolate mousse.

Carrie Underwood pretty much stole the show with her performance of Jesus Take the Wheel. She gets the award for coolest outfit of the night, I wish I had a good shot of her Jeans. Joe Galante, head of RLG, came out onto the stage and talked about the zillions of albums Carrie has sold, and the single spending 6 weeks at #1. He said Carrie keeps asking 'Shouldn't I be getting a plaque or something?' She was presented this really cool double platinum heart shaped plaque, commemorating 2 million copies of Some Hearts. She got all teary eyed. This was probably the coolest RIAA plaque I've ever seen.

Blaine Larsen did not follow the 'first hit / latest hit' rule, but since he wasn't old enough to be drinking we're not going to blame it on alchohol. He did his current single, "I Don't Know What She Said." Hysterically funny. I hope this one is a hit!

A new five member group called The Lost Trailers was next up. They were great. First single is going to be called "Chicken Fried." They were part of one of the Willie Nelson shows I did this summer, either the 4th of July picnic or Farm Aid. Their name comes from having their equipment trailer stolen. Three times.

Ronnie Milsap kicked off the Mega Star portion of the show. I love seeing him perform. He did Pure Love and a new single, Local Girls. He's working on a country album for RCA.

Martina McBride came out after that, and performed The Time Has Come and her current single from Timeless, the Johnny Cash song I Still Miss Someone. I talked to Martina a little bit before the show, thanked her for doing the XM Christmas commercials. She changed into a slinky black dress and 5" heels for her performance.

The real treat of the night came next, when Ronnie Milsap came back out and performed "I Can't Stop Loving You" with Martina. Wow. Another standing O.

Joe Galante came back to the stage to present Martina with a platinum plaque for Timeless, telling how she pitched the idea to him at 2am after an evening of dinner and drinks at her house.

The boat was docked by the time it was Kenny Chesney's turn to perform. Accompanied by 2 accoustic guitar players and a pianist he did accoustic renditions of Livin' In Fast Forward and The Good stuff. RLG is keeping the Nashville picture framers in business, giving Kenny a plaque for 25 million CD's sold.

The evening closed with Alan Jackson making his first ever performance on the boat. (Is there an excuse for that?) He'd drank just enough to be funny, but not enough to be slurring his words and forgetting the lyrics. He started by showing some love to the radio industry. "I appreciate y'all finding a spot for me. My wife had a job, my first single died, then this song came out and saved our lives." He then started into his first hit "Here in the Real World." Midway through he waved the band to a stop, saying "we're putting everyone to sleep, let's do something else." They then launched into Don't Rock the Jukebox followed by Five O'Clock Somewhere. (AJ improv'd the line "What would Kenny Buffett do...")

And five o'clock is quittin' time, no matter where it is!