Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Are you still watching

this space? Fan Fair broadcast schedule is up. Additionally, XM will be hosting the Chevy Stage concerts in front of the Arena / GEC / Sommet Center on Thursday and Friday, and Jon Anthony and Kyle Cantrell are both hosting shows at the Riverfront. I'll get a schedule of those events up soon. You're going to have to work pretty hard to avoid XM next week!

I know I've been pretty out of touch lately... there's a very good (non-work related) reason why. I'll fill you in shortly, but it's all good.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

What's in A Name?

More years ago than I care to remember, I was working at the NBC tv station here directing the evening news, and one of the crew guys left to go to work for the new arena downtown, which wasn't even open yet. I don't remember his exact title, but he was over the in-house Audio Visual operations. Shortly thereafter, he raided the Channel 4 staff to come free-lance for the Nashville Kats Arena Football Games. In 1996 I went to work for the Nashville Arena.

I have a huge print on the wall behind me given to the game night staff on the Nashville Predators opening night that says it was October 10, 1998. My staff shirt said Nashville Arena, as did all the Predators inagural season jerseys. It was sometime in 1999 that the Predators signed a 20 year deal renaming the arena the Gaylord Entertainment Center. I have tons of ticket stubs, credentials, and even a "Part Time Employee of the Year" plaque from the GEC (pronounced "geck") where I worked everything from gymnastics to charity balls, and basketball games ranging from OVC tournaments to NBA exhibition games.

I worked for the Preds their first 5 seasons, including their first playoff run, missing probably no more than a dozen games total. In the summer of 2004, the NHL locked the doors on the players, and the resulting labor dispute cancelled the 2004-2005 season. My world changed from going into the arena 2 or 3 times a week, to once every couple of months. And I lost a quarter of my annual income.

It was 9 o'clock at night in a hotel room in NYC for the CMA Nominations Announcements when I got the phone call asking me to come back and direct hockey for the 2005-2006 season. By this time my job at XM had lead to me being gone for days on end, and when I was in town, I was at work more than I was at home. Tacking on 41 more nights that I couldn't have dinner with my family wasn't an option. I hung up the phone and cried and cried and cried. Going to a Preds game now - I've done it three times in the past 2 years - is like driving a stake through my heart.

Just over 2 years ago the Predators and Gaylord came to an agreement to dissolve their naming rights partnership - I believe because someone wasn't paying their bill. However, it wasn't until a couple of months ago that the Gaylord name was stripped from the front of the arena, and suddenly, every press release talked about events at "The Nashville Arena (formerly the Gaylord Entertainment Center)."

It's funny all the things I am discovering happened while I was in New Zealand. Yesterday I read a Fan Fair press release that promoted something happening in front of the Sommet Center in Nashville. The Sommet Center? Must be some fancy art place I've never been to. So
I Googled it.

The Nashville Arena... formerly known as the Gaylord Entertainment Center... which was formerly known as the Nashville Arena... is now the Sommet Center.

Not only did I not know what a "sommet" is, I had no idea how to even pronounce that. Was it "summit" or "psalm-it"? Turns out, it's neither. It's "som-MAY." French I guess. Can't wait to hear how badly us rednecks butcher that.

I have so many fond memories of the Nashville Arena. Even more of the Gaylord Entertainment Center. I've never even stepped foot in the Sommet Center - let alone worked there. Yet.

Watch This Space!

No no no... not this space...

THIS space.

More coming soon!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ying in your Ying Yang

I spent time today locked away in the dungeon of Warner Brothers Records, listening to the upcoming Big & Rich CD, after signing away all rights to my first 7 grandchildren if I revealed it's contents.

Ok, so it wasn't like that at all. But I did have to go to the label to listen to the project, because it's a "high security" project and they can't let it out of their sight. And it would be hard to write an episode of ShortCuts without having heard the music. So I had an enormous conference room all to myself, with the music cranked up and my laptop jammin', hammering out a script.

All of that means I'm probably not supposed to tell you anything about the cd. Because I may like my first 7 grandchildren. I will tell you there are some really cool special guests, and a song that literally made me laugh until I was crying. If you're a Big & Rich fan, I've got room for a couple more questions. What have you always wanted to know about them?

Our Fan Fair schedule is almost finalized, and will be online soon. Make sure you let me know if you're coming! Paula... Sharon... Sally... anyone else? Our schedule this year is AMAZING. Jon has secured some really cool content - including the first ever broadcast of the IFCO show! We'll have Fan Club parties from some of the stars we've done the past few years, and at least three that we've never carried before. And we'll be live a couple of hours each day from the Country Music Hall of Fame. How on earth we're going to pull off getting every thing on the air, I don't know. But if we do, it's going to be the coolest week EVER!

Back to Full Service!

Have you been going through XM withdrawl?

XM Radio Resumes Normal Levels of Service
XM Satellite Radio has resumed normal levels of service for customers who experienced outages or significantly degraded service starting yesterday. The problem occurred during the loading of software to a critical component of the satellite broadcast system, which resulted in a temporary loss of signal from one of the company’s satellites. After you turn on your XM radio, please allow five to ten minutes to reacquire the XM signal. XM apologizes for any inconvenience this has caused.

I don't know exactly what all that means, but I do know our rocket scientists were frantically working through the night to make it better. And they did!

Maybe it's just me, but I was highly amused at some of the message board posts from people demanding a refund for the time they couldn't get a full signal. If you're paying the full price subscription of $12.99 a month, that works out to 41.7 cents a day. Service was down or degraded (on some radios only and online was not affected at all) for just over 24 hours.

Now really. Who wants their 50 cents back? Because I've got a stack of quarters if you're that hard up for cash.

I do think a nice side effect is that people are realizing how important XM is in their life!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Two More States Added to the Tour!

Good morning from Joplin, MO, where our oldest son and his wife both graduated from college yesterday. From Nashville we flew into Kansas City (Missouri) and took the interstate loop around the city, which crossed over into Kansas City (Kansas.) I think that makes 6 states and 1 foreign country in May alone.

Interesting tidbit for your future travels if you get a rental car. We rented from Hertz, which offers a lesser satellite radio option (not XM) to purchase. We, obviously, did not get a car with that option, so they put us in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Guess what? Being a GM car, we had an "XM Preview" on our radio, and we had 10 XM channels, including US Country, 80's on 8, Fox News, Oprah & Friends, and Top Tracks. Cool!

Back in Nashville tonight.

P.S. I have no idea why Blogger isn't allowing comments for this post. I'll just assume y'all are oohing and awwwing over what a cute couple they are.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

What time zone am I in?

Why is it I don't have any issues living in any time zone other than Nashville's? It's Midnight in Music City and I'm wide awake. Tried going to bed... couldn't do it. It's only 10pm in Vegas. Things are just getting started!

Made a quick stop in Phoenix this afternoon to change planes. So for those keeping up with the Producer J. World Tour, in the past 2 weeks I've hit Tennessee, California, Nevada, Arizona, and both islands of New Zealand. Not bad for a central Illinois hick.

Next stop: Missouri. I'm home for 33 hours. Which means I should be doing laundry. But instead, I've been looking at houses on the internet. Because I don't have enough going on in my life, I'm thinking about moving.

After the show last night I got out of my heels and Sandi and I went to see the dancing fountains at the Bellagio. It was one of my favorite things in Vegas, and I really wanted her to see it. Somehow we wound up back at Margaritaville for dinner. Wandered through the MGM casino on the way back to the room and saw Amy Grant at the craps table. Only in Vegas, baby. Vinny was nearby. Also ran into Jake Owen and a bunch of music row types, including Amy Paige who just looked adorable in a gorgeous lime green princess gown. I wish I'd taken a photo, she was SO cute! I bet she has one, I'll see if she will send me one.

Since we'd changed out of our finery I felt horribly underdressed and out of place down there, so we went back up to the room. There was NO way I was getting back into the dress and heels to schmooze with people I could hang with in my jeans here at home.

I haven't begun to tell you about the people I talked to on the Orange carpet... nor have I filled you in on my little wardrobe malfunction.


Taylor Swift on the orange carpet. This photo doesn't begin to do this dress justice. It was gorgeous, and sparkly and very much fit for a princess. In fact, Taylor said she didn't get to go to prom this year. However, she said she couldn't breathe while she was wearing it, lol.

Gretchen on the orange carpet talking my new buddy the mohawk man.

Here's the view of the press room. I don't know if you can see my spot up there in the 2nd row next to Peter Cooper from the Tennessean. We had fun. I was his unofficial research assistant, LOL.

And of course... I had to take care of my Carrie Underwood fan readers... so just for y'all I whipped my camera out and took a photo of her while she was talking to the press. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

That's a wrap from the press room!

All done. Neither Rascal Flatts nor George Strait came back to talk to the press after their wins (particularly brutal since that gives us no audio from the single or song of the year), nor did show host Reba McEntire.

I did get to talk to Carrie Underwood (shot a photo for all y'all Carrie Fans, so check back soon!) Kenny Chesney and Brooks & Dunn. More later - gotta clear out of the Press Room.

Little Big Town meets the media

Could Kimberly look any cuter? Dang.

Top New Vocal Group or Duo winners Little Big Town say Martina McBride ran back to find them after they won so she could congratulate them.

Rodney Atkins - also a winner tonight - is on Martina's tour as well, and Karen Fairchild told XM that they play hide & seek with all the kids in the afternoons.

LBT says they're pulling an all nighter tonight at the craps table tonight to celebrate - no alcoholic beverages for Mama to Be Kimberly... she's looking forward to a chocolate sundae.

Comedian of the Year - Brad Paisley

Brad was the best winner in the press room tonight. I took a photo on my camera phone and sent it to Kim, my Brad Paisley obsessed (former) intern.

- Credits diversity in his songs with helping his career. "I'm proud that we'll do tear jerkers and follow it with a parasite."

- Jokes about his "young" tour mates playing the prank on him by dressing up as exterminators. Watch out Taylor, Jack and Kellie - Brad says you have no idea what you've gotten into.

- Fatherhood is influencing his song choices - listen for "Letter to Me" on the next album. (Awesome song, btw)

- The next cd has a couple of Kung Pao Buckaroos songs... George Jones was not available, so they got Vince Gill to fill in. Vince jokes that now he's turned 50 he's elligible.

By the way, Brad says he was VERY surprised to have won. "When I did win I walked over to George Strait and said "I do this because of you."

Brad was awesome.. very funny... tons of one liners, and even after he walked away from the microphone he addressed everyone and thanked us, saying he couldn't have done it without our support. Very cool.

As he was leaving, someone in the back yelled out "Brad, can I check you for ticks?" That... not so cool.


It's about time something shook this show up... Brad Paisley - Top Male Vocalist. A tad shocking, I thought.

So far, I'm about half and half on my predictions. Sandi - who's out in the audience watching - is about 90%.

Back in the press room -

The Top New Female Vocalist winner came back to the press room after her win, and told XM that she doesn't have a mantle to put her award on, but she just might build one now!

If you're wondering why Miranda didn't thank her boyfriend, Blake Shelton, she says he told her not to. Blake was also was back in the press room, and Miranda couldn't resist heckling him a little... he'd gone to the bathroom when her award came up, and Miranda says "I didn't have anyone to hug!"

Miranda says she doesn't think there will ever come a day when she's not nervous performing on these award shows in front of her heroes. "It's hard to be up there and NOT looking at George Strait!"

Other notes:
- Miranda and Blake did NOT bet on this award the way they did on their albums.
- Her parents are here
- She used to watch the ACM's as a kid, and write all her predictions on a yellow legal pad.

Awaiting the arrival of Brad Paisley. Big & Rich came back with John Legend. Said they took him honky tonkin' in Nashville when he played the Ryman a couple of weeks ago.

Notice how much better Brooks & Dunn sound than just about everyone else who has performed? It's because they're performing live, not karaoke-ing.

Hi... I'm Taylor

The Taylor Swift thing was just the cutest. I knew that something like that was going to happen... but I thought it was adorable. Yes... a little corny. But yet, still precious. I confess, I teared up. You?

The Parade of Winners Has Started!

Rodney Atkins was the first winner back... love the ball cap he's wearing. Elijah is watching at home, but he hasn't talked to him. So if you're keeping track at home, 2 of the 3 artists on the Martina McBride tour have won ACMs tonight. A good sign for Martina.

Little Big Town is not coming back to the press room yet... we presume that they're waiting until after the Top Vocal Group award is nominated.

I like Carrie's curly extensions.

The Orange Carpet Exeperience

It was my first time on the orange carpet at the ACM's. It was a very HOT experience. I really felt for the guys that have to wear those suits! At least us chicks in the strapless dresses had it a little easier.

My favorite interview, no surprise to my friends, was Van Zant. Love them. Johnny's wife told me they love XM, they hear the new single "That Scares Me" on Highway 16 all the time. Johnny told me the first time they heard the single on the radio was on XM... his wife was listening to the Highway 16 feed on DirecTV and screamed "Johnny - your song is on the radio!"

Jamie O'Neal also showed some XM love. She said when she was over on a USO tour her manager was texting her everytime Highway 16 played "God Don't Make Mistakes." She said she was getting lots of text messages!

Shania is still tiny... Tim and Faith came through late... John Anderson did the carpet, he was cool... Sara Evans only posed for photos - no interviews... Taylor Swift looked STUNNING but said she couldn't breathe in her dress. I have a photo of it...stand by.

Who's REALLY Live - and who's not

Miranda, Taylor, Brooks & Dunn performing live...

Everyone else... singing to tracks.

Carrie Underwood / B&D - Early Winners

First 2 awards given out -

Vocal Event - Building Bridges / Brooks & Dunn, Vince Gill, Sheryl Crow

Video of the Year - Carrie Underwood / Before She Cheats

Live at Gilley's!

So this morning I had to get all dressed for the show before I came over here to the live broadcast. However, ain't no way in Hell I was putting those shoes on at 9am. So, I'm in the gown and tennis shoes. Sandi zipping me into the dress was an experience in itself. They make zippers tougher in New Zealand than they do in America, apparently. However, she got it done.

Been a great day here at Gilley's so far. Any day when you get hugs from Keith Anderson, Jack Ingram and Phil Vassar is a good day.

Somedays... this gig is rough. Somedays, it's very good to be me.

Tonight - Press Room Blogging

Looks like I'll have computer access in the press room... if it's the typical awards show there will be lots of down time in the press room.

Will talk to you after the Orange Carpet! (I've never worked an orange carpet before! In fact... I once didn't buy a house because it had orange carpet... but that's another blog.)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Yesterday and Today

Morning! The good thing about not having recovered from my trip to New Zealand is that I'm not remotely bothered by Vegas time... which falls somewhere between Pacific time, two hours behind Nashville - and wherever it is that people don't go to bed until 5am.

Our show yesterday went great. Gilley's is a really cool hang out. The hotel it is in scared me a tad from the outside... it's a little dated. But you can't beat the ambiance. I hope you were able to catch some of the show. Dusty Drake was a great co-host, and it was nice for Jon to have someone other than me to talk to on the air. Two years ago when we were out here broadcasting, I was his sidekick. This year, we've called in the pros! Amy Paige will be there today, and Jack Ingram tomorrow!

Dusty performed live 3 songs... just him and a guitar, and sounded great. His wife was a doll too - she was talking all morning about wanting to ride the bull at Gilley's. So after the show I got the manager, and he got her on! She did good - much better than the guy that tried it after her.

Taylor Swift has always struck me with her poise and level head. Needless to say she's terribly excited about this week. She has two new dresses to wear to the show, made by Sandi Spika. She says she's isn't nervous about singing Tim McGraw in front of Tim McGraw. I finally got to meet Taylor's mom. Her mom was totally down to earth. And Tracy Byrd is always a fun hang. We'll once again be carrying the T-byrd / Griggs fan club party live this year from the Wildhorse Saloon!

After the show Sandi and I started walking down the strip, taking in the sights. Disneyland for Grownups - there's SO much to see you almost don't know where to look. Walked through the Venetian, which is my favorite hotel. Still beautiful. Our destination was Margaritaville, where we did some shopping while partaking of those pretty beverages I posted last night. Umm.... earlier this morning.

We also made a stop into Harrah's to visit Toby Keith's I Love This Bar. Y'all should be proud. Small joint... Toby stuff everywhere.. I did not give Toby any of my money, but I now can say I've been there.

We eventually hopped the monorail back to the hotel, where we saw the MGM Lions. There were two of them on display, and they gave us a nice little show of batting a ball around and hopping in the water to get it. Captured it all on video for Delaynie. They had mics in the cage too, so when the lions roared, everyone heard it. Did some shopping in the Lion gift shop too for the little girls in my life!

We had a little time to rest up and change for the evening's activities, a pre-show party and concert courtesy of Columbia records. They shuttled us over to a new club in town that's only been open a couple of weeks. It was beautiful, and we befriended a bartender that made us fruity martinis. It was a bit of an odd VIP party... there were winners there that got a meet and greet with Gretchen... not the usual schmoozefest. But the bar was open and the cheese sticks were awesome. Shrimp quesadillas were pretty good. And I befriended a journalist from ABC Radio, with a mohawk and several piercings, who is my favorite person I've met in Vegas.

Caught up with a lot of my Nashville buddies there... Storme Warren was working... Neil Haislip... some of the GAC execs... Craig Shelbourne from CMT.com, a bunch of media folks... and of course the record label gang. From the pre-party we went out to Freemont Street, where Gretchen was kicking off her new tour. They had a nice VIP section for us, thankfully, because the crowd was huge!

The set was an air stream trailer, complete with pink flamingos and a camoflauge piano. The trailer windows were video screens, and she - and her special guests made their entrace through the trailer door. Gretchen is very comfortable on stage, she's got a big band, and a strong voice. She stripped it down to a couple of acoustic numbers but really rocked on some other things.

Speaking of rocking, Mr. Mohawk had let me in on Heart being one of the special guests. They came out and did "Barracuda." John Rich came out and sang "Come to Bed" with Gretchen, which was cool. She did a full show - just under an hour and a half, complete with the requisite "Redneck Woman" encore. Don't tell anyone, but someone we know... who has previously not been a Gretchen Fan... was seen rockin' and boppin' and having herself a grand time. ;-)

We headed back to the hotel and hit the food court at about 1am for some really bad chilli dogs. Saw John Rich in the casino. I forgot to mention that he and Cowboy Troy were also at the pre-party.

Today we've got Lonestar, Ty Herndon, and new artists Stephen Cochran and Jerrod Nieman coming by the broadcast. Tonight we have the New Artist show and a Songwriter's show, and we still have to hit the M&M's store at some point and see the dancing water fountains at Bellagio.

It's 5 O'clock Somewhere!

Like... on the East Coast, where people I know are going to work.

I however, am going to bed.

Things to blog about later: Gretchen Wilson... Heart... Mohawk Guy... Tracy Byrd... Dusty Drake... John Rich... Toby Keith... etc.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Hello From Sin City!

Howdy. It's been a long day. But a good one!

Had a full plane from Nashville to Vegas. Richie McDonald was on there, along with a slew of managers, label people, publicists, and media. Beverly Keel and Peter Cooper from The Tennessean... CMT Radio... ABC Radio... and of course, Jon Anthony, Amy Paige and I made up our own little XM Nation high in the skies - with Amy's hubby being an honorary member.

I had talked Sandi into meeting me out there and drafted her to work as my production assistant. She'd never been to Vegas, and I needed someone to hang out with. We met up at the airport and headed for the MGM Grand.

Last time I was out here the awards were held at the Mandalay Bay, and I'd not so much as stepped foot in the Grand. Grand is right, the place is huge! We wandered all over it tonight and still haven't found the arena where the awards show is taking place. We have an excellent view from our room... of Hooters. The Hotel. A cab driver told us it isn't doing very well. Probably because scantilly clad women aren't really a draw in Vegas - they're a way of life.

Our first mission, after dumping our luggage, was to go check out Gilley's. Cool hang... gonna be a great place to do our shows. We hung banners, got the lay of the land, and met the manager. I didn't ride the bull. But I want to. Just so I can buy the t-shirt that says I did.

Next we headed back to the hotel to hang by the pool. Everything at this hotel is movie themed, so they had the Director's Pool, the Backlot Bar, the Casting something or another, etc. They had a Producer's Pool, but it was closed for a private event. I had a nice ride around the lazy river and spent some much needed quality time in the hot tub.

For dinner I'd made reservations at my favorite restaurant here - The China Grill at the Mandalay Bay. For two years I have been craving crispy spinach -- finally I got it! Had an awesome dinner, Sandi really liked it too. Who knew lobster mashed potatoes would rock? We walked through the Luxor (where I'd stayed last time) and the Excalibur, and checked out some views of the strip. At some point, Sandi and I are going to walk the strip... check out the dancing water fountains, Margaritaville, and the M&M store!

Back to work we go next though... we go on the air live at Noon Vegas time tomorrow. (Today for most of you!) Dusty Drake is co-hosting with Jon, Taylor Swift and Tracy Byrd are stopping by. Then there's lots of live music tomorrow night we have to check out. So I'd better get some sleep now while I can!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Programming Notes

XM's Highway 16 - Live from Gilley's Las Vegas
Sunday / Monday / Tuesday
3pm Eastern - Noon in Vegas
Doors open at 11:30 - if you're in the Vegas area, or know someone who is - come on out!

I'll be back soon with a lineup of the special guests co-hosting or coming by!

XM 10 - America
Sunday 8pm ET

Take a walk down ACM Musical Memory Lane as I play every ACM Song of the Year winner from the 70's and 80's - in order! Actually - I wrap up with the 1990 Song of the Year, and follow it up with that artist's wife, the 1991 Top New Female Vocalist winner, sharing her favorite ACM Memory. Lots of fun - I hope you'll join me! My show starts at the usual 7pm ET time, but the special ACM feature hits at 8.

Headed to the airport... I'd love to sleep on the plane, but I think Jon Anthony is going to make me work. Remind me to schedule sleep the week of the 21st, ok? I've got a production assistant meeting me in Vegas - her first trip! - and her mission is to take lots of photos of the XM team in action, so keep checking in here!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Next Stop on the Producer J. World Tour:

Las Vegas! Approximately 27 1/2 hours from right now, I'm headed to Las Vegas for XM's coverage of the 42nd Annual ACM Awards. LOTS of awesome things planned, but so much to do before then!

In a very un-J. like fashion, I am not packed. I don't have all my logs done. My color coded spreadsheet is not completed. Heck, I don't even have a babysitter for tomorrow.

Eventually I shall fill you in on the rest of my day with Big Machine's newest recording artist. For now though, I will tell you that the long-rumored MCA Songbook 2 album probably IS going to happen. Whether or not that includes the new material she's recently recorded, even Trisha doesn't know. "It's still being discussed."

And yes, the laptop is going to Vegas with me!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

So, as you heard live on XM - it was announced in a press conference today at the Country Music Hall of Fame that Trisha Yearwood has signed a new record deal, with Big Machine Records.

There were a lot of interesting things to come out of the day - before, during, and after the Press Conference, including scoop that you probably haven't heard yet. I'll try to update you on what I can remember, feel free to ask questions if I leave something out.

First off, the event was held in the Rotunda of the CMHOF, which is where the plaques for the Hall of Famers are hung. There was a stage at the front, several rows of seating, and a platform at the back for tv crews. They closed the rotunda to the public, which I've always found an odd thing to do (it was the same for Tim & Faith's event last month.) If I go to the Country Music Hall of Fame as a tourist, I'm going to want to go see the Hall of Famer's plaques. I'd be miffed if I can't get in there because there's some private event going on. But that's just me.

I will spare you the fun we had trying to get a signal from the rotunda, at one end of the building, to the studio, at the other end. Let's just say... there were some scary moments. Thanks to Moni for posting my blog about the live coverage once we our awesome engineer Daryl got it all worked out. (I'd written the post before I left the house this morning, but didn't want to post it until we were 100% certain we could pull it off!)

Side note / amusing story. Once we knew it was going live Sandi - president of the XM fan club - posted on various country music message boards that the Big Machine press conference involving a mystery artist was going to be heard live on XM. On one particular site, it was posted in the "off-topic" section and didn't mention Trisha by name. (I didn't even tell her where it was being held or that we'd confirmed it was Trisha!) She just posted to help spread the word that XM was carrying a press conference live - which, by the way, we were the ONLY place that did. An overzealous moderator deleted her post because supposedly Trisha's manager saw it and demanded that it was removed.

Trust me, her management had better things to be doing 15 minutes before the press conference than reading the off topic section of her message board. LOL! I know, because I was in the room with them at the time the post was made - and deleted.

Ok, I digress. I'm just sorry those of you who could have listened didn't get the chance. Back to the press conference. Lots of folks from her management company were there, everyone I know at Big Machine was in attendance (except my former intern Natalie) including Danielle Peck and Jimmy Wayne. It was almost like a little Trisha pep rally!

Media turnout wasn't quite as strong, NewsChannel 5 was the only tv camera at the press conference, although there were a couple more tv crews setting up for individual interviews afterwords. Ed Morris from CMT.com was there, along with most of the usual syndicated radio folks. (Interestingly, our competitor didn't show up.)

The event started out with Kyle Young, the Executive Director of the CMHOF, welcoming everyone. He held in his hand an application when Trisha applied to work at the Hall of Fame, and talked of hiring her at $4 an hour. He said some nice things and then introduced Scott Borchetta.

Scott talked for quite a while about his history with Trisha, I hope some of you got to hear it. It's really neat, we were talking before the event about how this brought them back full circle. 20 years ago he worked at MTM Records and knew a receptionist named Patricia Latham. Eventually he worked on the promotions team that worked Trisha Yearwood's her first single - taking it all the way to #1.

Scott is a really nice guy, but on the business side of things, he completely rocks. I can't carry a tune in a bucket, but if I were to ever sign a record deal, he'd be the guy you'd want on MY team, not working the records I'm competing against. His wife Sandi was there as well, who creates all of Trisha's amazing dresses (and yes, that Reba red dress too!) but I didn't get a chance to say hello to her.

The line that stood out to me from Scott's speech was when he said that Trisha no longer had to wait in line - that she'd moved to the front of the pack. It was a direct hit at how her last album had been handled at MCA, and it was a bullseye.

Scott also told me afterwords that the rest of the artists on the Big Machine roster are tickled pink to have Trisha on the label.

Trisha was introduced and she came up wearing jeans, cowboy boots, and a pink Titans jersey. This was the mystery of the day. It's not football season. I've never seen her wearing a Titans jersey before. Predators, yes. It's baseball season now, a Braves jersey would have been ok. I didn't even know they made Titans jerseys in pink. And clearly she knew there'd be cameras everywhere. It was an odd choice. (And for those who follow the titans - it was a Vince Young jersey.)

One of the first things she talked about was how over the past 2 years she kept reading about all the great things Big Machine did. I didn't take very good notes on the press conference - I was just so relieved it made it on the air! She took questions from the press. In no particular order, things she covered:

- She corrected Kyle to say she started at $3.65 an hour at the Hall of Fame, not $4.
- Garth Fundis will be producing her, but they're going to work with other producers as well.
- She was asked to take over Reba's role in Annie Get Your Gun, but knew better than to try to follow Reba. She does want to do Broadway, but that requires moving to New York, and she's living with an Okie. However, she's told him that when the girls are grown, they will wind up living in New York. (Wait a minute - I thought when the girls were grown he was going back to living on a tour bus!)
- Her and Garth (the husband not the producer) don't fight over things like money or how to raise the girls, but when they argue it's usually about the music business. She wouldn't ever want him to produce an album on her and there aren't any plans for him to be on this album.
- I asked her when the fans could expect new music - because it said in the press release we were handed at the door, but they hadn't covered that yet, LOL. At some point in early 2008... they don't have a concrete timeline yet, because the album isn't made yet.

After the event I headed up to the board room on the 4th floor, where Trisha was doing some additional media, including the tv things I mentioned. I had 20 minutes to get all kinds of good scoop here - including touring, why she doesn't watch American Idol, her favorite ACM memory, and the latest on that long rumored Songbook 2 album.

Good photos from the event at CMT.com

Big Machine Press Conference - LiVE on XM!

At Noon Eastern / 11am Central time Big Machine Records is holding a press conference promising a "major industry announcement." You can hear it live on XM Satellite Radio's Highway 16! If you don't have XM you can also tune in via DirecTV channel 814 or online via the Highway 16 feed at www.AOLRadio.com

I can NOT confirm nor deny any rumored artists that might be involved, but I can tell you after the press conference I'm sitting down with whomever it is for an interview. So tonight's blog should be full of scoop!

I've also had some inquiries about the location of the press conference. To my knowledge it is not open to the public, and yesterday I heard they were escorting uninvited guests out of a #1 party on the Row. So you won't hear the location from me, but you can do the next best thing and listen in LiVE on XM!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

So Many Parties, So Little Time

How many times have I told you that Music Row bunches their parties together? We'll go weeks without anything, and then BAM! we get slammed with schmoozefests.

Within a 48 hour period there are TWO Carrie Underwood #1 parties (for Wasted) a Kenny Chesney party (Beer in Mexico) that was held outdoors and a Trace Adkins #1 (for Ladies Love Country Boys.) All of this 3 days before I leave on my NEXT trip (which I'll tell you about tomorrow) and there's just NO way I can get to any of them. Sorry gang.

I am, however, planning to spend quite a bit of time tomorrow with the newest artist(s?) on the Big Machine Record Label. Keep the rumor mill in check, as soon as the truth comes out, I'll put it here.

P.S. Please don't tell Delaynie I took her to the orthodontist instead of Kenny's party, ok?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Puffs Alert!

Before I went to New Zealand I asked for prayers for "a friend to country music" who was having serious surgery the next day. Some of you have since figured out that it was our favorite journalist / Garth fan / Grascal mom / Hazel Smith.

Miss Hazel gives everyone an update today at CMT.com

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Well apparently, I missed this!

You may recall a couple of months back when Carrie Underwood told all of us at her #1 party that she barely knew Dallas Cowboy Tony Romo, whom she'd been romantically linked to. Looked us right in the eye and said "He is a very nice guy and I've talked to him a few times, but we are very much not together.”

At some point while I was gallavanting around New Zealand, they wound up very much together, judging from these photos from his birthday party, where rumor has it Carrie lead the crowd at a Dallas nightclub in singing Happy Birthday to Tony.

Lots more photos at CarrieUnderwoodOnline.com

Congratulations to Carrie for making People's 100 Most Beautiful list. She's going to have lots to talk about at this week's #1 party!

P.S. There are no superstars of either music OR sports in them, but I have started posting photos from my adventures in the Southern Hemisphere at my other blog.

In the presence of the King

I'm working in the studio tonight, and I just saw King George walk into the building - with his lovely wife Norma.

I've seen Charlie Louvin and Little Jimmy Dickens too, and Alan Jackson's tour bus is parked in the back -- but I haven't spotted him. Yet.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

It's NOT me!

It has been brought to my attention (by more than a couple of you) that while I was gallivanting around New Zealand, CountryNation.com went on hiatus. *sigh*

All I can do is once again profess that I am **NOT** the ever mysterious, and most decidedly fictitious Skye Rivers, despite being accused many times of the contrary.

Without his site, the only way I'm going to know what's been going on in the world of Country Music for the past 2 weeks is to actually READ all of the press releases stacked up in my inbox. Spare me that, please, and tell me what I've missed.