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20 Questions With Hank Williams Jr.
 
Posted: 06/14/06
 
A country boy can survive, and Hank Williams Jr. is living proof of that. After all, he's back on the country charts with "That's How They Do It in Dixie," with a new album of the same name arriving later this month. In this interview, Bocephus answers fan questions about singing new songs for Merle Haggard, sneaking cigarettes with Waylon Jennings and speaking the same language as Gretchen Wilson.

Editor's Note: CMT's In the Moment: Hank Jr.'s Guide to the Great Outdoors, with guests Joe Nichols and Lee Ann Womack, premieres Saturday (June 17) at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

1. You're a talented songwriter. In your opinion, what makes a good country song?

(laughs) Oh, boy. What makes a good country song? Well, I'm not gonna give you that answer, "Oh, it better to be about drinking and divorce and all." Nah, baloney. A good song is good song.

2. What do you consider the difference between Southern rock and country? It seems these lines are crossed all the time.

Not much. Not much. You know, an old blues man named Tee-Tot -- Rufus Payne -- taught Hank Williams how to play the guitar. And [blues musician] Lightnin' Hopkins told me, and I've never heard anybody put it better, he said, "Country music ain't nothing but white people's blues." I still live by that. What a great statement that was.

3. Do you think your music has changed over the years, or is it basically the same?

Not really. The same. You can listen to an album from 1971. ... Well, of course, the voice is completely different -- after 520 feet down the Montana mountainside -- a little different voice than that kid in '71. Basically, from the Family Tradition album on, that's all Bocephus.

4. Has the MuzikMafia movement renewed your passion and enthusiasm for your music?

Hasn't done a thing for me. Zero. Good friends of mine. But nah, hmm-mm. You know, I don't sit here and watch, uh, I don't watch CMT videos and listen to country radio all the time. That's just the way it is. I don't do that. No. For somebody I like, yeah, but I don't do that. And most guys that are kind of in my position, they're not going to do shop all day. They're going to watch the Outdoor Channel. (laughs) And that other channel. (laughs) But seeing guys like that come along and having a big success gives me a great feeling for them. You know, I've watched a lot of artists in my career. ... Me and Gretchen Wilson really speak the same language. When we did that first video, I told all of her family, I said, "Let me tell you something: She's gonna blow wide open, and the world's gonna change." And about a year later they said, "Boy, were you right." I really like her. We get along. Hank and Gretch work.

5. In "All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)," you were the young guy whose older show biz friends couldn't keep up with anymore. Now you're the legend working with today's younger stars. Do you feel like the tables have turned?

No. That never entered Hank Jr.'s mind. No, that's something I don't feel like. But I do feel really good, and I'm not gonna sit here and drop names when so-and-so and so-and-so and so-and-so comes over and says, "Oh, my god. Show me that thing you showed so-and-so. Are you kidding me? You just found your father's this-or-that?" Or, "That's Dickey Betts' gold top [guitar]? That's Toy Caldwell's guitar from the Marshall Tucker Band?" The great guitar player that died so young. And they say, "Huh? Does anybody ever see these?" and I say, "No, just my friends."

6. Do you ever get tired of singing "Family Tradition"?

Never. Nope. Especially when I got 10,000 singing every word with me. (laughs) That's why I never get tired of it. Or 40,000. Nope, don't get tired of that. That will be a timeless song for me.

7. How did you come up with the song, "Blues Man"?

I really like to play open G [guitar tuning]. Thunderhead Hawkins, my aka. The really good ones take about 10 minutes to write. "Blues Man" took about 10 minutes. "I'm just a singer, a natural born guitar ringer." Boom! OK, here we go! It's gone. Some people can paint pictures and ... that's something that is just really easy for me.

8. Is there a story behind "Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound"?

Yeah. The Allman Brothers and me in Hollywood. Gregg Allman married Cher, and that worked all of three months. Dickey Betts said, "You know, how do you write -- just bang! -- a good country song?" And I'd had several No. 1's in a row. And I said, "Well, it's always good to start off with a idea like, (sings) "I got a good woman at home ..." and from there, schoooooo, the rocket launched. And that's exactly how it went down. That's how it happened. All the good ones take like 10 minutes. And then sometimes you'll have one that's up there a year or two. Then you get the one other line, then bam, and you birth that one. I had that happen to me the other day. I had that thing but just that one line, pow! And there it was. You know, I played it for ol' Haggard. And he said, "Wow, you better go cut that one." When Merle Haggard says you better go cut it, it's pretty good. I like that man.

9. What is your favorite song that you recorded that never became a single? "Montana Café" and "O.D. in Denver" are two of my favorites.

I got lots of them. It ain't one. I've got lots of 'em. My God, I've got a hundred albums. I go back here and say, "Did I write that? Wow that's pretty good! Isn't that awful? Is that mine?" I'm a guy that's known as the elephant man, like with a great memory. That's kinda bad, isn't it? "Wow, I ought to go cut that again. Wow, I did good back then." (laughs) No, I don't live on one, huh-uh. I've written more in the last six months than I have in the last six years. I don't know what's going on, but something good's going on.

10. Your recording of "The Conversation" with Waylon Jennings is one of my favorite songs. Any chances you and Shooter Jennings might get together and record a song or two?

Oh, absolutely. Oh, yeah. Waylon and me were pretty tight. Shooter's got "CBCS" and a gun tattooed on his forearms. And he said, "You know that means 'country boy can survive.'" And I said, "Wow." Yeah, I'd love it. I've already done, you know, a couple of things with Shooter, but, yeah, anytime. Me and him. His daddy and his mama are pretty close friends.

11. Do you think Waylon got the respect and the credit he deserved in music?

You ain't kidding! And will -- like Hank Sr. -- for a long time. Oh, yeah. ... You ain't kidding. People don't realize that [when I was] on tour with Audrey Williams' caravan of stars --and there's a guy named Merle Haggard and one named Waylon and a little bitty kid out there, Hank Jr. And they're wondering which of those two guys is going to make it? And I'm in [Waylon's] Dodge motor home so I can get over there and sneak cigarettes to get away from mama. Yeah, we were pretty close. ... He wouldn't go fishing, though. He hated it. (laughs) He said, "I'll be right here when you get back."

12. Your outdoors special for CMT features Lee Ann Womack and Joe Nichols. Was Lee Ann a little too girly to go fishing with?

Not at all. Let me tell you something. We're 40 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico and squid and slimy stuff all over the deck. ... Never got sick. She jumped in there with that big reel and reeled 'em in. You know, when you see the show, it almost pulled her in. And she said, "I had no idea the force of these big ocean fish." She was perfect. She was great. I thought, "Man, I'm afraid she could get hurt and might fall in." Let me tell you something. Lee Ann Womack is a country girl. She knows what she's doing. And I loved it. I was pleasantly surprised. I mean, she's sitting there putting lip gloss on and reading, I don't know, a fashion magazine. Man, she jumped up there. We said, "OK, we're over the hull." 190 feet down. Using a crank reel. There's some grit to Lee Ann Womack, let me tell you that.

13. What do you think about today's country music? Do you agree with the new sound and things that are being written and sung about?

Waylon said a little bit before he died, "Hoss, if it ain't got bubblegum stuck to it, you can forget it. It's over." And I really kinda thought he was really right for a while. And then, thank goodness, another wonderful song will come along. ... It's not all bubblegum and record company promotion. There's been a few radio problems that everybody knows about: "We'll give you this and this and this and that if you'll play this record." And everybody knows about it. You get kind of negative about it, and then you say, "No, look at this great song that Keith Urban had." It ain't all bubblegum, and it ain't all 26-year-olds. Now, they want you to think it is, and I'm gonna tell you right now that it ain't. They want you to think that, you know, only beautiful 26-year-olds listen to country music. Bullshit! (laughs) That's what I think about it. There are some dinosaurs around. And they have a few fans -- and they buy a few records and tickets. (laughs)

14. Do you like your son's music?

Yeah, he's got it. Oh, Hank III, he's got it. He's a lot like the grandfather and the father. People don't realize Hank Sr. got out there and played the fiddle, and then he played the bass and then he played the lap [steel guitar], which Hank Jr. has been known to play everything up there. He can play anything. You gotta have it in your heart. You better mean what you're singing or you need to get out of this business. That's where I'm really lucky because they know I mean what I'm singing or I ain't gonna sing it. Musically, he's got it. If you ever see him live, there's no doubt about it. He's gonna do what he wants to do. His grandfather did it, his father did it and he's gonna do it. End of story. (laughs) That's what's gonna happen, folks.

15. I know your daughter, Holly, is involved in music, but is your daughter, Hillary, musical, as well?

Oh, oh, oh. Hillary's the one with the pipes. Like, that's the one. Oh, she can bust the glass in here. Unbelievable. Bobby -- Kid Rock -- said, "My god, is that her on that tape?" and I said, "Yeah." He said, "Well, hell, that's the one with the pipes!" But of course, with Holly, I like that little gravely part in the voice. I really like that. There have been some other big girl singers that have that. I don't know how many songs a week she writes. She really turns them out. She can really play. I ain't worried about her. She'll knock on any door. She'll never be poor. She'll never be poor.

16. I'm very curious the way you use your guitar strap. It's very much like a banjo player. Why do you wear it like that?

That's very good. Whoever asked that question, that's very good. Yeah, because I play banjo. I love five-string banjo. On an electric guitar, let's say a two-hour show, it starts getting heavy right across the neck and shoulders. And I like to be able to flip it off and grab the fiddle, and that's just the way I do it. And it did come from playing the banjo, just able to set it down and grab another instrument. It doesn't tax your body out there.

17. We love your song, "A Country Boy Can Survive." With everything that's happening in this country these days, do you believe our freedom will survive? Do country people need to make changes in our lives to stay free?

When we did some radio promotion about two weeks ago, we landed at a military naval base in Virginia. Not for private aircraft. They gave us permission to land there, and there are 200 United States Navy personnel in dress whites at attention when I landed. Huh? To go over there to take a picture of VFA-105 gunslingers? I couldn't believe it. ... I sat there and I signed [autographs]. "Would you talk to my mama?" "Would you talk to my dad?" "Could you talk to my brother?" I signed every single one of them out there. And we did a little private show there, and they had the new F/A-18 Super Hornet --$140 million apiece -- and a 21-year-old kid sitting there pointed to everything and knew everything about it. ... Don't think that our United States forces ain't got it together. We're gonna be free for a long, long time. They will kicketh the shit out of somebody, I'm telling you that! (laughs) That's it. Yeah, we're gonna be free for a long time. Don't downgrade our people. I was very, very impressed. I was just really impressed. My god, it just blew me away. It really did. I'm gonna do more of that.

18. I recently read that you are no longer touring with the Bama Band. This was your band for many years. Is this true?

Well, no, it'll always be that. You know, when a guy has played 25 years on the road, do you think I'm going to say, "Oh, please, please, please don't leave"?" No. Hey, life moves on. Nothing's going to be permanent. ... You get somebody else. That's what happens. I'll never, ever blame anybody for that. Hey, I like to go fishing, too, more than almost everybody else. It'll always be a Bama Band, no matter who's there. It was just three guys, but they'd been there for a long time. I'll never blame anybody for that.

19. You still sell a lot of tickets on your tour. How do you explain your longevity?

Because I've got something going on for me that I don't know if too many other artists have got. I have got the most loyal, hardcore fans that there are. I could do 10 shows, a hundred shows or 30. I am the most blessed guy on the block. They're gonna be there, and it amazes me. Eight-year-olds and 80-year-olds. It's a very good feeling. ... If I do 25 shows a year, it's like, "Oh, my god. You got to do 25." People have to realize, one year I did 235 dates in one year. I've been there on that bus. I see young artists who have done 150, and they tell me, "I have no life." They're completely worn out. They say, "Boy, how does he have all that energy?" Well, when you're doing 25 and they're all sold out, how do you not go out there and do it?

20. For so long, you have put out music worthy enough for radio airplay, yet radio has not been kind to you in the last 15 or so years. You still have a huge following and standing ovations everywhere you go. What drives you to continue to put out great music, knowing it probably won't get much airplay?

Oh, when I'm gone, you watch what happens to some of them songs. I'm just telling you right now. They're gonna get played, buddy. I ain't gonna play no game. I'm not gonna do that routine. And I'm gonna write it. Like you said, it's gonna be sold out. It's gonna be packed. But, believe it or not, there are a couple little changes here. I mean, we're sitting here right now with a Top 20 song, right as we speak, and a hit video. You might be surprised. There are a couple of deals looming on the horizon and some movies. In my words, "Stand by for a message." Yeah, it's not all bad. It's kinda good over at the Hank Jr. camp right now.
 
Keith Urban Makes Surprise Visit to CMA Fest's Opening Night
 
Posted: 06/09/06
 
It really says something about Keith Urban's star power that he got the biggest screams at Thursday night's (June 8) concert at the CMA Music Festival in Nashville -- and he didn't even sing.

Several songs into Brooks & Dunn's set, Ronnie Dunn invited an unadvertised Urban to join them on guitar for "Believe," but when Urban didn't immediately walk out, it was easy to think that Dunn was just teasing, especially when he ad-libbed that he wasn't sure if Urban was even around. But indeed, he was, and Urban's modest grin and casual wave set off thousands of flash bulbs and shrieks when he finally did stroll on stage.

Even Dunn seemed astounded at the response, flubbing a few lines in the song but still nailing it vocally. It probably would have made more sense for Brooks & Dunn to headline the show, especially since their 16-year-career is still going gangbusters and they sound as strong as ever. Even without all the bells and whistles associated with their tour -- everybody just walks out on stage and sings at the CMA Music Festival -- the duo provided the most bang for the buck in a night filled with big names.

Still, it's hard to complain when Hank Williams Jr. and Lynyrd Skynyrd are in the house.

Williams brought the crowd to its feet with his theme from Monday Night Football, then rolled into "That's How They Do It in Dixie" (his new single) and "Born to Boogie." Then he took an unusual solo turn, grabbing his acoustic guitar to bang out "Blues Man," "A Country Boy Can Survive," the silly and clever "The World Don't Revolve Around Kenny Chesney" and, of course, "Family Tradition." And, by the way, he'd still like you to know that if you don't like Kid Rock or Patsy Cline or Fats Domino or Hank Williams, then you can kiss his family's ass.

Meanwhile, Skynyrd capped off a "Free Bird"-free evening with other classics like "Gimme Three Steps" and "Sweet Home Alabama," with fireworks exploding above the stadium just before midnight.

By then, the music had been steadily flowing for four hours. Because everybody has a short set, you pretty much get the hits before moving on to the next act. Little Big Town and Pat Green stayed long enough for a hit or two, but Blake Shelton found enough time to cover the Bellamy Brothers' "Redneck Girl" as well as his own string of hits -- from "Nobody but Me," "Goodbye Time" and "Some Beach" to "Austin" and "Ol' Red." You can tell he's been playing the big venues with Toby Keith and Rascal Flatts because he looks totally at ease in a football stadium, which isn't always easy, even for veteran headliners.

In the second hour, Sara Evans pranced around the stage with that beaming smile of hers, singing "Born to Fly," "Suds in the Bucket," her new single "Coalmine" (though it was hard to hear the lyrics) and "I Could Not Ask for More." You can tell she loves the spotlight by the way she easily interacts with the audience, though she did momentarily turn everyone's attention to a couple from Buffalo, N.Y., when the young man proposed marriage. Unfortunately, he was giggling all the way through it, prompting Evans to scold him, "Don't laugh!" Anyway, the young woman said yes, and Evans returned to center stage to sign off with "Real Fine Place."

Two of country's most reliable hit-makers filled the gap between Evans and Brooks & Dunn. Dierks Bentley dropped by unannounced -- instantly delighting several screaming young adults behind me -- for a five-song set, including a new song, "Every Mile a Memory." Gary Allan followed that with a string of familiar favorites, such as "Best I Ever Had" and "Life Ain't Always Beautiful." That last title is certainly true, but enjoying four hours of high-caliber country music under clear Nashville skies is always a very attractive option.
 
Charlie Daniels Band Opens CMA Music Festival
 
Posted: 06/08/06
 
Southern rock was in the air Thursday morning (June 8) when the Charlie Daniels Band kicked off the concerts at the CMA Music Festival in downtown Nashville.

A cool breeze blew across the Cumberland River to the Riverfront Stages area where fans gathered for four separate concerts featuring a combination of established acts and country music newcomers. With Shannon Brown, Eric Church, Jace Everett and Blaine Larsen joining Daniels for the Country Kickstart show, those performing later in the day included Rhett Akins, Tracy Byrd, Ashley Monroe, Jake Owen, the PovertyNeck Hillbillies, Kevin Sharp, the Bellamy Brothers, Cowboy Crush, the Grascals, Jamey Johnson, Mark Wills, Emerson Drive, Ty England, Luke Stricklin, Trick Pony, Chely Wright and Billy Yates.

Daniels and his band provided an energetic start to the festival that continues through Sunday (June 11). While placing the emphasis on the music, the outspoken Daniels applauded the U.S. military in Iraq for Wednesday's bombing that killed terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

"The only good terrorist is a dead terrorist," Daniels told the crowd before criticizing the news media for its portrayal of the U.S. war effort in Iraq. He added, "There's no way we're losing that war. We're winning that war in Iraq."

The fans responded to Daniels' political commentary but an even stronger response resulted from his set list that included hits such as "Drinkin' My Baby Goodbye," "Long Haired Country Boy," "The South's Gonna Do It Again" and "The Devil Went Down to Georgia."

The music continues Thursday night at LP Field -- formerly known as the Coliseum -- for a show featuring Gary Allan, Brooks & Dunn, Sara Evans, Pat Green, Little Big Town, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blake Shelton and Hank Williams Jr.
 
NASHVILLE SKYLINE: Big Country Stars Scarce at Fan Fair
 
Posted: 06/08/06
 
(NASHVILLE SKYLINE is a column by CMT/CMT.com Editorial Director Chet Flippo.)

So, where are all the country music superstars this week? I don't know where they all are, but I can sure tell you where many of them aren't -- and that's in Nashville at Fan Fair. Which the CMA tries to call CMA Music Festival these days, but it will always be Fan Fair to true country music fans.

And the fans are supposed to be what this is all about. And they're the reason for country music's longevity and success.

Country fans love and respect their favorite artists, usually for life. Which is why all of country's stars have hoofed it to Fan Fair for many years to ensure that their lifelong loyalty stayed in place. It wasn't that long ago, for heaven's sake, when Garth Brooks showed up at Fan Fair and stood in one place to sign autographs for 23 hours straight. Without even a bathroom break. Now, that's taking care of your fans.

These days, when rock-star CD sales figures and big touring numbers hit the stratosphere, I guess that grassroots connection is no longer considered important. I mean, the Dixie Chicks, as I recall, appeared at Fan Fair only once, in 2000, and these days don't seem in much of a mind to return, especially given the mixed ticket sales currently projected for their upcoming tour.

So, who's here and who's not, star-wise? Well, here's a lineup of the big concerts taking place Thursday-Saturday (June 8-11) at the Coliseum (now being called LP Field due to a corporate signage deal).

Thursday night sees Gary Allan, Brooks & Dunn, Sara Evans, Pat Green, Little Big Town, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blake Shelton and Hank Williams Jr.

Friday's show spotlights Trace Adkins, Jason Aldean, Terri Clark, Billy Currington, Montgomery Gentry, Wynonna and Trisha Yearwood.

Saturday's show has Billy Ray Cyrus, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Craig Morgan, Brad Paisley, Josh Turner and Carrie Underwood.

Sunday features Keith Anderson, Clint Black, Joe Nichols, LeAnn Rimes, SHeDAISY, Sugarland and Los Lonely Boys with Ronnie Milsap.

With all due respect to everyone involved, this is not the strongest lineup that country music fans would like or expect to see. Or deserve to see.

So, where are the other big stars? Among those who aren't scheduled to appear this year are George Strait, Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, Lee Ann Womack, Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers and Gretchen Wilson, among others.

I guess it's easy to slide into the notion that Fan Fair doesn't matter anymore to career development. Or that even being concerned about career development matters anymore. Once you hit the platinum-plus stratosphere of sales, I guess things change forever. Maybe we'll see how that works out for everyone on down the road.

I just went over to the Convention Center in downtown Nashville to check out the action in the artists' booths. In years past, country artists have vied to see who had the most innovative and best-designed booths -- where they sit and receive their fans and sign autographs and pose for pictures. And all the major artists were there.

Not too much of that action going on this year. The big booth draws this year are Brooks & Dunn, Van Zant, LeAnn Rimes, Big & Rich (one brief signing session and no performances), Aaron Tippin, Trace Adkins (one brief signing session only), Jo Dee Messina and Trick Pony. Otherwise, the booths were occupied by unknown country hopefuls and faded stars hoping for another chance.

But just before heading to the Convention Center, I spent the morning at Riverfront Park and, let me tell you, there are few things in life more enjoyable than sitting in brilliant morning sunshine, with a nice breeze blowing in off the river, while bathing in the sounds of the Charlie Daniels Band and Eric Church and sipping a frosty breakfast Budweiser or two (and only $6 a pop!). That kind of fan access to artists remains Fan Fair's main appeal.

Last weekend, at the old Nashville Fairgrounds -- where Fan Fair used to be held until it decided to move upscale and downtown -- the CMT DukesFest drew about 70,000 fans on Saturday alone. Fan Fair will bring in about 24,000 every day this week. But those are likely the same people every day, who buy package tickets for the entire event. What's the discrepancy between the two events? What's the disconnect? Who is offering the fans what they want? And who is not? You tell me.
 
CMA Music Festival Cruises Into Downtown Nashville
 
Posted: 06/07/06
 
Big & Rich, Cowboy Troy and Two Foot Fred made the MuzikMafia's presence known when the second annual CMA Music Festival kick-off parade cruised through downtown Nashville. The Wednesday afternoon (June 7) parade also featured Erika Jo, Danielle Peck, Michael Peterson,
Kevin Sharp, Taylor Swift, Keni Thomas and Jimmy Wayne.

The brief procession called additional attention to the four-day festival that officially begins Thursday morning (June 8) on the Riverfront Stage on the Cumberland River and ends Sunday with a major concert at LP Field, the Tennessee Titans' stadium home previously known as the Coliseum. The venue's name changed this week after an agreement was struck with Louisiana-Pacific Corp., a building materials manufacturer whose corporate offices are located in Nashville.

Following the parade, a block party began at the plaza in front of the Gaylord Entertainment Center where throngs gathered to hear performances from Cowboy Troy, Little Big Town, Emerson Drive, the Grascals, LoCash Cowboys, Pinmonkey and the PovertyNeck Hillbillies.

The Riverfront Stage begins delivering nonstop music throughout the day beginning Thursday with a 10 a.m. show featuring the Charlie Daniels Band, Blaine Larsen, Shannon Brown, Eric Church and Jace Everett. Four concerts will take place daily on the Riverfront Stage with performances by Tracy Byrd, the Bellamy Brothers, Mark Wills, Trick Pony, Jeff Bates, Neal McCoy, Darryl Worley and many other established acts and an impressive list of newcomers, including Ashley Monroe, Jamey Johnson, the Lost Trailers, Megan Mullins, Ray Scott and Nashville Star winner Chris Young.

The evening concerts at LP Field begin Thursday with Gary Allan, Brooks & Dunn, Sara Evans, Pat Green, Little Big Town, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blake Shelton and Hank Williams Jr. Friday's offering features Trace Adkins, Jason Aldean, Terri Clark, Billy Currington, Montgomery Gentry, Wynonna and Trisha Yearwood. The Saturday show gets its star power from Billy Ray Cyrus, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Craig Morgan, Brad Paisley, Josh Turner and Carrie Underwood. Sunday's closer features Keith Anderson, Clint Black, Joe Nichols, LeAnn Rimes, SHeDAISY, Sugarland and a special performance by Los Lonely Boys with Ronnie Milsap.

Even before Wednesday's parade, artists were getting together with their most devoted followers during fan club parties throughout town. Carrie Underwood was among those making a guest appearance Monday at Lonestar's bowling party to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Diamond Rio and Joe Nichols were among those hosting parties Tuesday, and Wednesday's party schedule included events hosted by Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Little Big Town and Dierks Bentley.

Martina McBride gets together with fans Saturday at her annual auction to benefit the YWCA. Others hosting fan club parties include Montgomery Gentry, Keith Anderson, Josh Gracin, Miranda Lambert and Sara Evans.
 
CMT Announces New Shows
 
Posted: 06/07/06
 
CMT has announced several new programs to air this summer. CMT Greatest NASCAR Dominators, which features exclusive interviews with Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough, debuts June 14. ... Bill Engvall hosts the nine-episode series, Country Fried Home Videos, starting June 30. The show features homemade videos submitted from across the U.S. ... CMT will film concerts by Dierks Bentley, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Hank Williams Jr. from the Milwaukee, Wis., music festival Summerfest. The one-hour specials, titled Toyota Presents CMT at Summerfest, will premiere July 14-16.
 
ABC to Air CMA Music Festival Special in July
 
Posted: 05/30/06
 
A two-hour special featuring this year's CMA Music Festival will air on ABC on July 24. Brooks & Dunn, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Hank Williams Jr. and Wynonna are among the artists scheduled to appear on the show. The festival will take place June 8-11 in Nashville. Robert Deaton will serve as the executive producer of the CMA production. Gary Halvorson will direct. This is ABC's second year to film the event. As previously reported, the CMA Awards will also air on ABC for the first time in November.
 
CMT Launches CMT Pure Country Channel on Friday
 
Posted: 05/23/06
 
With Hank Williams Jr. introducing "The Conversation," his 1983 hit music video featuring Waylon Jennings, CMT's new digital channel, CMT Pure Country, marks its on-air debut Friday (May 26) at 6 a.m. ET.

Building on CMT's rich heritage, CMT Pure Country delivers uninterrupted country music around the clock. Replacing the existing VH1 Country channel, CMT Pure Country will feature the sounds and images of country music in its most essential form, performed by the genre's most authentic voices.

To celebrate the launch, CMT will pre-empt its regular programming to air all CMT Pure Country programming on Monday (May 29) from 6 a.m.-1 p.m. ET. Beginning June 4, CMT will also debut its new one-hour music block, CMT Pure Country, airing each Sunday at 9 a.m. ET.

"Pure Country is an exciting new opportunity for the wide range of artists we work with," said CMT vice president of music programming and talent relations Chris Parr. "We will use our expertise and talent relationships to create and program another truly unique music experience for the fans."

CMT Pure Country will serve as a catalyst for music lovers to explore established and emerging artists steeped in the rich tradition of country music. The network will showcase a broad spectrum of artists including Johnny Cash, Dierks Bentley, Brad Paisley, Lee Ann Womack, Brooks & Dunn, Tim McGraw, Gretchen Wilson, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Toby Keith, Willie Nelson and more.

Among the programs featured on the new channel:

Wide Open Country -- An extension of CMT's successful weekly series, Wide Open Country is a one-hour weekly series featuring music from a wide array of alternative country, bluegrass and Americana performers along with performers from the heart of country music. (Premieres May 26 at 1 p.m. ET.)

Studio 330 Sessions -- From the intimate performance series previously seen only on CMT.com, Studio 330 Sessions features a mix of the best live performances taped in CMT's studio with artists such as Dwight Yoakam, Jason Aldean and Little Big Town, among many others. (Premieres May 26 at 7:30 p.m. ET.)

Studio 330 Sessions Up-Close -- Brings to television the full spectrum of an individual artist's live in-studio performance and interview together for an intimate look at their entire acoustic set. Dwight Yoakam will be the first artist featured. (Premieres May 26 at 9 p.m. ET.)

Pure 12 Pack Countdown -- Count down the Top 12 videos each week as determined only by the fans voting online at CMT.com. (Premieres June 5 at 9 p.m. ET.)

Pure Vintage -- Step back in time for a look at some of country music's best-loved videos, starting with the early '80s. (Premieres June 12 at 3 p.m. ET.)

Additionally, premiere dates and times are still to be determined for two other programs:

This Is -- Get an inside look at today's emerging artists through performance footage, interviews and behind-the-scenes moments of today's rising country artists.

CMT Most Wanted -- A mix of new and classic videos with the big names such as Tim McGraw, Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, Brooks & Dunn, Shania Twain and more.

Carried in more than 16 million homes, CMT Pure Country will be available via Comcast, Charter, Cox, CableOne, Mediaone, Knology, Cequel II, Armstrong Cable and Blue Ridge Cable.
 
Single Tickets Available for CMA Music Festival Concerts
 
Posted: 04/26/06
 
Single-night tickets go on sale Monday (May 1) for all of the nightly concerts at the Coliseum in downtown Nashville during the CMA Music Festival. On June 8, the opening night show will feature Hank Williams Jr., Brooks & Dunn, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Gary Allan, Sara Evans, Pat Green, Little Big Town and Blake Shelton. Wynonna has been added to the June 9 show with Trace Adkins, Jason Aldean, Terri Clark, Billy Currington, Montgomery Gentry and Trisha Yearwood. The June 10 concert showcases Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Craig Morgan, Brad Paisley, Josh Turner and Carrie Underwood. SHeDAISY and Keith Anderson have been added to the June 11 lineup that includes Clint Black, Los Lonely Boys, Ronnie Milsap, Joe Nichols, LeAnn Rimes and Sugarland. Single tickets to the evening concerts are priced at $30 and will be available at Tickemaster.com.
 
NASHVILLE SKYLINE: Where Are the New Hanks, Willies, Merles and Cashes?
 
Posted: 04/20/06
 
(NASHVILLE SKYLINE is a column by CMT/CMT.com Editorial Director Chet Flippo.)

Something Hank Williams Jr. said in his acceptance speech for the Johnny Cash Visionary Award at the CMT Music Awards has stuck with me. To paraphrase, he remarked that his daddy shaped and molded country music, Johnny Cash shaped and molded country music and Waylon Jennings shaped and molded country music. And that he himself was just a carpenter in a long line of carpenters.

I think he is dead-on right about the shapers and molders. I would add Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard to that list. After those names, it's difficult to think of any other modern figure in country music who has single-handedly changed the music. (Bill Monroe did the same thing in developing bluegrass music). I'm not sure there will ever be any others. Which is a sad thing, but maybe an inevitable thing. The times have drastically changed.

For one thing, the music doesn't lend itself to any kind of lasting influence anymore because of commercial forces. Institutional memory is fading. I guarantee you that the multinational conglomerates will mainly preserve only the music that sells immediately and that will sell across all platforms. Sony's Legacy series laudably remains the major exception.

It may well not be possible in today's marketplace environment to change country music as radically as the old shapers and molders did. Or for any new artist to be given enough development time to build a body of work and a lasting audience. Could anybody on today's scene do it? It's very possible, but I doubt they'll ever be given the chance. Many of today's artists are serious carpenters, as Hank Jr. says, but many of them are just tool-belt poseurs who show up at the worksite to pose and flex their muscles.

Hank Williams Sr., Cash, Jennings and Nelson worked mainly alone (although Hank had Fred Rose as mentor and co-writer) and created their art in spite of the music and record industries. They had no help. All of them, save Hank, fought with record labels all their lives, and Hank should have, but he arrived so early in the development of the country music industry that the label and publishing heads were able to make up the rules as they went.

The point being that they created a vibrant body of meaningful and long-lasting music because the creativity was in them and they were going to express it somehow, somewhere. They often faced indifference, if not outright hostility, in their efforts, but they persevered. Eventually the major labels marketed their work and reaped their profits. But I think any such rebels would ever get to that point again. Any genuine innovators are going to be working at home, online or on indie labels, and they'll never reach a sufficient audience to achieve mass change in the genre or the audience.

Undoubtedly, the country audience is changing, as it inevitably does. Will Rascal Flatts fans be devoted lifelong Rascal Flatts fans just as Loretta Lynn fans have remained lifelong devoted Loretta Lynn fans? Maybe. I wonder. I also wonder how many young artists are in it for the long haul, as country artists used to be. Not many, I suspect.

As a recent example, we could consider Garth Brooks' career. He had a tremendous impact on country music, but in retrospect, he did not significantly alter the music. He dramatically overhauled country music marketing, which is not the same thing. Ultimately, those marketing changes drastically affected country music, in that they placed almost total emphasis on marketing and image over musical content.

One thing Garth did do was to attract a lot of disaffected rock fans over to country, where many have stayed -- finding the musical content that had been commercially sucked out of the music they had loved. Now, it appears that, increasingly, the remaining few rock artists are looking lovingly at the country world as their last sanctuary. Welcome, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, Jon Bon Jovi and anyone else who wants to come visit. You're sounding as country as or more country than some of the new carpenters getting off the bus downtown every day.
 
20 Questions With Shooter Jennings
 
Posted: 04/18/06
 
Shooter Jennings first raised eyebrows last year with the suggestively titled album, Put the 'O' Back in Country. This time around, Shooter has put more country in his second project, Electric Rodeo. Answering questions from fans, the son of Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter talks about cussing in his lyrics, casting a Waylon movie and keeping up with Toby Keith. He also has some kind words about his band members -- guitarist Leroy Powell, bassist Ted Russell Kamp and drummer Bryan Keeling.

1. Is the new album more country-sounding than the last one -- or more rock?

That's hard to answer because the album is definitely in a lot of ways much more country. Then, in certain ways -- when it goes rock -- I think it's a little more rock than the other one. I think we've successfully blurred the line a little more though between the two, which is what we're all about anyway. So, both would kind of be the answer to that.

2. Do you bring in studio musicians, or do you choose to record using the same great musicians who back you up night after night on the road?

I do not bring in studio musicians. Leroy, Ted and Bryan, who play on the road with me, play on the records. They always have. We made the first record together, even without a record deal. The second one, we did our own way, too. Just because I believe that the music isn't allowed to evolve. ... I can't even understand the way of thinking of doing that because, to me, when you get the musicians that create the music, that's the only way the music is going to continue to evolve. You get to know each other more. You get to work with each other more. You become better at reading each other's intuitions and everything. To me, that's the only way to do it.

3. After hearing the song on the first album, I have to ask: Was it really Leroy's fault y'all got busted in Baylor County?

No, it was not Leroy's fault. It was kind of all of our fault because Leroy was driving, but Leroy was the only one who was not partaking in the pot smoking. And we rolled down the windows when the cop was pulling us over -- and that's what got us busted. Because he asked us, 'Why'd ya'll roll down the windows,' and we were dead silent. We didn't know what to say, and he knew right then something was going on. So, it was not Leroy's fault. He was speeding a little bit but ... anything but not saying anything is a better answer, you know what I mean?

4. How often do you write songs? Is it a routine, or do you write when inspiration strikes?

It is not a routine for me. It definitely only works when inspiration hits me. I am not a person who can sit down and write a song. I can't just say I'm going to sit down and write a song about love or something. For me, I have to kind of live through an experience, and it kind of comes back, regurgitates itself in the form of a song. Sometimes they take years. "Bad Magic" on the new record took me about three years to finish. Then other songs, like "Some Rowdy Women" on the new record, I wrote in one sitting. But I don't write them all the time. It's very organic the way I write.

5. What was it like to work for Toby Keith last summer, and are you friends?

It was awesome. He was a very sweet guy to us, and he took very good care of us. He treated us really great. We really enjoyed the opportunity that he gave us. I am very thankful for that tour, and it was a lot of fun to meet him. We haven't really remained in contact at all, not for any reason. I think we've both been extremely busy, and our paths haven't crossed yet again, but I do consider him a friend though. If he needed me for anything, I'd do anything, and I think he'd do the same thing.

6. Who is your all-time favorite artist?

Wow, that's a hard one for me. I mean, I always say my dad when people ask me that question because he's definitely my biggest influence when he came in my life and sang music and what I learned from him, you know. Hank Williams Jr. is pretty close to one of my all-time favorite artists though. God, I mean I love Led Zeppelin. I love the Beatles, the Rolling Stones. I have so many influences, it's hard. But I definitely would say that my dad had the biggest influence on me as an artist.

7. If you could go back in time and see one musician or band in concert, who would you choose?

It would probably be Led Zeppelin. Just to see them perform live would have been amazing. There are a lot of other artists. Hank Williams Sr. would have been amazing. Hank Williams Jr. in 1975 would have been amazing to see. Gram Parsons would have been amazing to see. But if I could have seen Led Zeppelin in their prime, that would have been amazing.

8. With all the sordid stories that show biz people tell about their families and growing up, it is a real blessing to hear you speak so fondly of your mom and dad. Would you say you had a happy childhood?

I would say I had a very happy childhood. My parents were wonderful parents, and I was very lucky to have them. There was a lot of love and just ... I was very lucky. They were great, and I am still very thankful for my childhood.

9. Where did the name Shooter come from? Was it a nickname you received when you were young?

I was nicknamed Shooter the day I was born. The real story behind the name is that my mom had a friend that was in our church that had a son that they had named Shooter. She thought that was such a cool name, and they were all into the western thing at the time. The minute I was born, I think my mom or my dad said, 'It looks like we've got ourselves a Shooter.' My dad always said it was because I peed on the nurse, though, when I was born. I've been nicknamed that my whole life.

10. What was the one disciplinary action your parents used that really worked?

You know, they weren't rough. My dad didn't like spank me. He did once, I remember, and he felt so bad about it. They weren't really harsh that way. The way my dad dealt with me was so good. When he didn't want me to do something, instead of telling me I couldn't do it, he would say, "I'm not going to tell you that you can't do this. I'm going to ask you not to because I'm worried about you," or "I just don't think you should." ... We never fought. I never had a fight with him ever. They always talked to me like an adult when I was a kid and treated me like one. And I responded that way. They were always very gentle.

11. I know it's damn near impossible to choose a favorite Waylon song, but just for the hell of it, what's one of your all time favorite Waylon songs?

I love that they say that: 'I know it's damn near impossible to choose a favorite Waylon song, but just for the hell of it ...' I like this guy. He cussed twice in this question. "A Long Time Ago" has always been one of my favorite songs of his. That and "Belle of the Ball." It's like, every week I change my favorite album. I'm listening to a different album, you know. But I'll say "A Long Time Ago" because that's a real special song. It's off the album, I've Always Been Crazy.

12. Do you think one day you would do a duet in the video/recording studio as Hank Williams Jr. did with his father on "There's a Tear in My Beer"?

Yes, I will one day. I don't know what it'll be. It's not going to be quite a duet. I have some stuff that we worked on a long time ago that I'm trying to pull together.

13. We have been discussing the prospects of a Waylon film. Who would be the best choice to take on the part? Do you think Hollywood should make a movie about your dad's life?

I've always wanted there to be a movie about his life. I've always thought it would be amazing. I've sat with my girlfriend for hours on end trying to think of somebody that could play him, and it is impossible. I can't think of anybody. My mom always says Johnny Depp, and I see what she's talking about for a younger-looking him. But he seems like he's a little too ... I don't know, he's not hard enough. ... That's so hard because there's just nobody that's like that -- where my mind would go with it, and I'm so close to it. I always thought if Robert DeNiro were young, he would have been good at it.

14. Where is it that you consider home?

Los Angeles. Six years. That's where I live. Every time I get home, I'm just happy. You land that plane and you see the weather. You're like, "Oh, I'm glad to be back home."

15. Where would you like to settle down some day?

I don't know. We always talked about going to Spicewood, Texas, checking out Montana and all these places. ... My vision is probably far off from where I'm going to end up. I love being around the city, but I've always wanted to have a ranch or a farm home or something in the middle of nowhere. I always think that would be so cool to do that.

16. When you are not on the road or performing somewhere, what do you in your spare time?

These days, I try to spend as much time relaxing at home as I can. We were off the road for three months, and we were working on a record that whole time. These days, spare time is few and far between. I just try to spend as much time with [actress-girlfriend] Drea [de Matteo] or just being at home and relaxing. We don't really go out when we're together because we're just trying to relax.

17. I would love to know what is going on with you and Hank III. It seems like every day, I'm defending you on the CMT message board because his groupies come over and write stupid things about you. Is there some kind of friction between you two, or is this something that his small group of fans has started?

You know what, I don't even comment on these things, really. I don't even know him. I met him once, I think, for a second. And somehow all this stuff started about how he hates me. I don't know. It's, like, stupid. Me, I just play music, and I like his music, and I don't understand what that's all about. But if they decide they don't like me, I guess that's their problem.

18. I love for my 12-year-old daughter to listen to your music, but what's up with the cussing in some of your lyrics?

I was bummed out that I cussed in that last record. ... I didn't like that I said "goddamn" in the one song. I got mad at myself for doing that because I felt like it limited that one song from getting out in the world, and it was almost like it's not necessary. I'm a guy who doesn't believe in a lot of cussing in music because I don't think it's necessary.

19. What new bands -- country or rock -- are you currently listening to?

I don't listen to a lot of new music. I listen to the Whites Stripes when their records come out, as for new rock bands. I like the Queens of the Stone Age and Mars Volta, but I'm not crazy about any of them. I guess the Whites Stripes are pretty much the only current act in rock that I really am a big major fan of. In country, there are a lot of artists out there that I'll pick out and listen to. I've mainly been into your Ryan Adams and your Drive By Truckers and that kind of stuff. I'm just kind of getting into it, but I don't really keep up too much with current music as much as I used to. I listen to so much old music.

20. When I'm on a road trip, it's all about Slim Jims, pork rinds (hot), greasy burgers and good barbecue when I can find it. What's your favorite thing to eat while on the road?

All of what they said sounds great! I wish I had that every day. Good barbecue would be great, but I can't find it anywhere, no matter where we are. "What's you're favorite thing to eat on the road?" Uh, cocaine and cigarettes. I'm just kidding. ... When we play shows, we're trying so hard to find food, period, that's good. So when we're in town, we like to try and find locally the good stuff to get. But you know, as long as we can find some pigs in a blanket somewhere, I'll be all right.
 
Brooks & Dunn, Hank Jr., Skynyrd to Play CMA Fest
 
Posted: 04/18/06
 
Brooks & Dunn, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Hank Williams Jr. will share a triple-headlining concert bill at the Coliseum in Nashville on June 8 to kick off the 2006 CMA Music Festival. Single tickets for the concert are $30 and go on sale on Saturday (April 22). The concert is also included in the festival's four-day registration. Other artists on the bill include Gary Allan, Sara Evans, Pat Green, Little Big Town and Blake Shelton.
 
Hank Jr.'s Daughter Moved to Nashville Hospital
 
Posted: 04/13/06
 
Hilary Williams, the 27-year-old daughter of Hank Williams Jr., has been moved to a Nashville hospital after several weeks in a Memphis hospital. She and her sister Holly survived a car wreck on their way to their grandfather's funeral on March 15. Hilary injured her leg, colon and hip in the accident. Hank Williams Jr.'s publicist said, "She's on the road to recovery." Holly was released from the Memphis hospital on March 17.
 
Carrie Underwood Wins Two CMT Music Awards
 
Posted: 04/10/06
 
Carrie Underwood had never delivered an acceptance speech at a music awards show, but all of that changed Monday night (April 10) with two wins at the 2006 CMT Music Awards.
Keith Urban picked up the biggest award of the night -- the video of the year honor for "Better Life." Other winners at country music's only fan-voted awards show included Billy Currington, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Dolly Parton and Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles. Hank Williams Jr. accepted CMT's Johnny Cash Visionary Award for his career achievements.

"This is my very first acceptance speech, so I made a list," Underwood said in accepting the breakthrough video of the year. "First of all, thank you fans so much for voting for me again. You have no idea what it means to me."

Underwood read an extensive list that included her record label, management company and publicists. She also singled out Hillary Lindsey, Gordie Sampson and Brett James, the songwriters responsible for her first No. 1 hit, "Jesus, Take the Wheel. The American Idol winner's debut album, Some Hearts, was released in November and has already been certified triple platinum for shipments of 3 million copies.

Returning later in the show to accept the female video of the year award for "Jesus, Take the Wheel," Underwood indicated she isn't taking her early success for granted.

"I have the best fans in the universe," she said. "Thank you so much, everybody who voted for me. You don't know what it means to me to know I have that kind of support. All the other ladies in the category, I idolize you guys, so this is just amazing. Everybody in the country music industry has been so awesome to me. My mind is just blown by how nice everyone has been and how everyone's opened their arms to me and just been so great."

Fan voting continued through the awards show in the video of the year category. Urban accepted the trophy from Kenny Rogers.

"Thank you to everybody at home that voted for this," Urban said. "Thank you very, very much. I appreciate it. Everybody that couldn't make it here tonight, I want to dedicate this award to all you guys at home. I wish you were here in this party -- because it is happening."

In accepting the Johnny Cash Visionary Award from Gretchen Wilson and Kid Rock, Williams read several definitions of the word -- visionary -- including "marked by foresight," "having the nature of fantasies or dreams," "one who has visions given to speculative or impractical ideas" and "a dreamer."

"You know what?" Williams said with a knowing grin. "I'm not any of those things."

He made references to Randal McCloy, the sole survivor of the disaster at the Sago Mine in West Virginia, and his own accident in 1975 when he fell while climbing a mountain in Montana.

"Johnny and June [Carter Cash] were standing by the bed in Montana when I came around," he said. "That's why I went to see Randy McCloy over in West Virginia. I went to his birthday party yesterday, and a real country boy has really survived, and I'm so proud."

Williams went on to cite Cash and other country music pioneers who came before him.

"My father changed and molded country music," he said. "Johnny Cash changed and molded country music. Waylon Jennings changed and molded country music. I'm just a guy that's another carpenter in a long line, and there's a lot more new ones here tonight."

In accepting the male video award for "Who You'd Be Today," Chesney said he had a personal connection to the song and video.

"I think everybody has lost somebody before they were meant to, and [video director] Shaun Silva and I did this video to help us all remember those people," he said. "I've got my own people that I did this song for."

Rascal Flatts won in the group/duo category for their poignant video, "Skin (Sarabeth)."

"Thank you to Joe Henry and Doug Johnson for writing an amazing song," lead vocalist Gary LeVox said. "We were so humbled to be the ones to have done it."

Nettles collected the collaborative video for her work with Bon Jovi on "Who Says You Can't Go Home."

"How cool is this?" she said. "I know Bon Jovi and the guys are in Japan. .... I accept this on their behalf. Obviously, it was a great experience. Thanks to all the fans who voted. ... This is the most fun awards show that happens every year."

Sophie Muller won the video director of the year honor for her work with Faith Hill and Tim McGraw on "Like We Never Loved at All." Hill accepted the award on Muller's behalf.

"Thank you, fans, very much," Hill said. "She would say that in a British accent. ... She's a fantastic director, one of the greatest that I've ever had the pleasure to work with. She's in London editing another video for me for a song called 'Stealing Kisses.' It's amazing. It was an honor to work with her, and I know she would ... thank the fans and she would thank hair and makeup. There was a lot of hair. There was a lot of makeup. It was just very exciting to do it."

Currington thanked video director Roger Pistole, his record label and the fans after winning the hottest video award for the steamy "Must Be Doin' Somethin' Right." Paisley and Parton were not present to receive their shared award for most inspiring video of the year for "When I Get Where I'm Going."

Host Jeff Foxworthy began the evening by having the good humor, if not the expert moves, to attempt some fancy footwork alongside actress Lisa Rinna, best known these days for her work on TV's Dancing With the Stars. This was a country show, after all, so the music was Trace Adkins' "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk," and Foxworthy and Rinna were teaming up for an imaginary program titled Line Dancing With the Stars.

Adkins opened the show with his mega-hit, and the evening included live performances of other up-tempo songs, including Toby Keith's "Get Drunk and Be Somebody," Wilson's "All Jacked Up and Sugarland's "Down in Mississippi." Other performances included Rascal Flatts' "What Hurts the Most," Underwood's "Jesus, Take the Wheel," Brooks & Dunn's "Believe," Hill's "The Lucky One" and Chesney's "Beer in Mexico." Urban closed the show by inviting a group of Gulf Coast residents still displaced by Hurricane Katrina to join him as background vocalists on "Better Life."

The show also included Dwight Yoakam's tribute to Country Music Hall of Fame member Buck Owens, who died suddenly last month following a performance at his club in Bakersfield, Calif.

"Buck Owens was the best friend that country music could have ever hoped for, especially in the early 1960s when country music had moved away from the traditional honky-tonk sounds of the '40s and '50s," he said.

Yoakam read a statement Owens had run in 1965 as an advertisement in a fan publication. In it, Owens promised to stay true to country music. However, Yoakam acknowledged that shortly after the ad was published, Owens released a single of a Chuck Berry song.

"It was pointed out by a writer at the time that no matter what song it was, when Buck Owens sang it, it indeed became a country song," Yoakam said. "Buck wasn't always clearly understood, but he always meant what he said. Buck always kept his promises to me and the millions of country music fans who loved him. All of us will miss him dearly."

The 2006 CMT Music Awards show was broadcast live from The Curb Event Center at Belmont University in Nashville.
 
Foxworthy Ready to Host 2006 CMT Music Awards
 
Posted: 04/10/06
 
Jeff Foxworthy recently had a conversation with Ronnie Dunn about a topic most people know nothing about: the pressures of hosting the live telecast of an awards show.
Foxworthy, who's hosting Monday night's (April 10) 2006 CMT Music Awards live from Nashville, explains, "He said, 'I'm never comfortable. I'm always scared something's gonna go wrong.' I said, 'Well, that's where ignorance is bliss -- because I don't even worry about it.'"

During a round of interviews for CMT Radio affiliates, Foxworthy elaborated, "Something always goes wrong. Which I think is why people use comedians because you can just shove them out there."

Jason Aldean, Little Big Town and Van Zant kick off the awards night from downtown Nashville during the 90-minute CMT Music Awards Pre-Party at 6:30 p.m.

Airing at 8 p.m. ET, the awards show will feature performances by Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Kenny Chesney, Carrie Underwood, Toby Keith, Gretchen Wilson, Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, Sugarland, Brooks & Dunn and Trace Adkins. In addition, Dwight Yoakam will pay tribute to the late Buck Owens, and Hank Williams Jr. will be presented CMT's Johnny Cash Visionary Award.

Noting that the CMT Music Awards is country music's only fan-voted awards show, Foxworthy said, "Anything I've ever won that the fans voted on means so much more to you than the stuff that some old people check a box on a ballot for."

Having hosted "10 or 12" awards shows through the years, Foxworthy says there's a different energy in the room for the CMT Music Awards.

"That's actually a fun show to do," he said. "A lot of those awards shows have theater seating and are kinda stodgy. That one, man, they let people come right up to the front of the stage and everybody's standing up. Last year, everybody that was performing came backstage and said, 'Man, that's like doing a concert.' It was just fun."

Moreover, Foxworthy has noticed that country artists don't take themselves as seriously as celebrities from the worlds of TV, film and rock.

"It's a little different at the country awards," he says. "If you're at the Golden Globes, at the end of the red carpet, people just say, 'Where do I go.' Whereas at the country awards, at the end of the red carpet, they're like, 'Hey, if y'all ain't gonna do nothin' with that rug, I'd like to have it.'"
Hank Williams Jr. Released Without Bond
 
Posted: 04/04/06
 
Hank Williams Jr. was released Tuesday morning (April 4) after voluntarily surrendering to the Shelby County Sheriff's office in Memphis, Tenn., on an assault charge stemming from a March 18 incident at the Peabody Hotel. Released on his own recognizance, he was not required to post bond. A warrant for Williams' arrest was issued after Holly Hornbeak, 19, filed a complaint that the singer harassed and choked her while she was working as a waitress at the hotel bar. In a written statement distributed to news media, Kirt Webster, Williams' publicist, alleged that Hornbeak's attorney has requested "an outlandish amount of money for settlement." Webster also stated, "Mr. Williams maintains his innocence and is confident this matter will be resolved in a just manner."
 
Hank Williams, Jr. to Surrender on Arrest Warrant
 
Posted: 04/04/06
 
Hank Williams Jr. is expected to voluntarily surrender to authorities in Memphis on Tuesday (April 4) after an arrest warrant was issued in connection with an alleged assault on a 19-year-old waitress at the Peabody Hotel on March 18. Magistrate Rhonda Davis issued the warrant Monday (April 3). Holly Hornbeak told police she was working at the hotel's lobby bar when Williams began calling her names, asked to kiss her and lifted her off the ground in a choke hold. The singer was staying at the hotel after his daughters, Holly Williams and Hilary Williams, were seriously injured in a March 15 accident near Memphis. Hilary is still recovering at Regional Medical Center at Memphis.
 
Hank Williams Jr. to Receive Johnny Cash Visionary Award
 
Posted: 03/29/06
 
Hank Williams Jr. has been named recipient of CMT's Johnny Cash Visionary Award. To be presented April 10 during the 2006 CMT Music Awards show, the award recognizes his extraordinary musical vision, innovative and groundbreaking music videos and pioneering initiatives in entertainment.

Williams joins an elite circle of performers to have received the award, including Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire, Johnny Cash and the Dixie Chicks.

Williams' raw creativity and passion have shaped the history of country music for more than five decades. He has been named entertainer of the year five times -- twice by the Country Music Association and three times by the Academy of Country Music. Set to release his 70th album this year, Williams has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide, including three multi-platinum and eight platinum titles. He also holds the distinction of being the first country artist to ever win an Emmy, a feat he repeated in 1990 through 1993 for his Monday Night Football anthem, "Are You Ready for Some Football?"

A true visionary, Williams paired up with friend Waylon Jennings in 1983, just shortly after the launch of CMT, for "The Conversation," his first music video. The following year, he called on some more famous friends to create the video for his 1984 signature hit, "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight," which featured a who's who of country music, including George Jones, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. Williams went on to conceptualize dozens of music videos, including "There's a Tear in My Beer," the 1989 duet with his late father, which used cutting-edge production techniques to appear as if the two were actually performing together in the video.

CMT presented its first-ever Visionary Award to the Dixie Chicks in 2002. CMT honored the incomparable Johnny Cash in 2003 for his immeasurable achievements and musical vision. Vince Gill hosted the moving tribute and presented the award to June Carter Cash, who accepted on behalf of her husband who was unable to attend. In 2004, Reba McEntire was the recipient of the award that was permanently renamed award in honor of Cash. Loretta Lynn was honored in 2005.

Hosted by Jeff Foxworthy, the 2006 CMT Music Awards honors country music's elite for the year's most outstanding videos and is the genre's only fan-voted awards show. Scheduled performers include Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, Trace Adkins, Gretchen Wilson, Brooks & Dunn and Sugarland. The fifth annual awards show premieres live from The Curb Event Center at Belmont University in Nashville on April 10 at 8 p.m ET.
 
Police Investigate Allegation Involving Hank Williams Jr.
 
Posted: 03/22/06
 
Memphis police are continuing to investigate the allegations of a 19-year-old waitress who claims Hank Williams Jr. choked her after he cursed at her and then tried to kiss her. The waitress was working at the Peabody Hotel when the incident was reportedly witnessed by another hotel employee around midnight Saturday (March 18). Williams has been staying at the luxury hotel since arriving in Memphis to be with two of his daughters, Holly and Hilary Williams, who were seriously injured in a March 15 traffic accident near Dundee, Miss. In a written statement, Williams' publicist, Kirt Webster, said he was "shocked" at the allegation, adding, "Hank and [his] family is still staying at the hotel. If any issues were problematic, one would think that the hotel would ask him to check out or leave the premises. Neither has happened."
 
Hank Williams Jr.'s Daughters Still Hospitalized in Memphis
 
Posted: 03/16/06
 
Two of Hank Williams Jr.'s daughters remained in the intensive care unit at a Memphis hospital Thursday (March 16) after their SUV flipped over several times the day before on U.S. 61 near Dundee, Miss. Holly Williams, 25, was listed in stable but critical condition with a broken wrist, bruises and abrasions. Her sister, Hilary Williams, 27, underwent eight hours of emergency surgery Wednesday night and was scheduled for additional surgery Thursday. She sustained injuries to her hip and colon after she lost control of the Toyota 4-Runner she was driving. No other vehicles were involved, and there is no initial indication that drugs, alcohol or the weather contributed to the accident, according to the Mississippi Highway Patrol. The sisters were en route to a family funeral in Louisiana at the time of the accident. Holly Williams, an accomplished singer-songwriter, released her debut album in 2004.
 
Hank Williams Jr.'s Daughters Injured in Traffic Accident
 
Posted: 03/15/06
 
Singer-songwriter Holly Williams and sister Hilary Williams were being treated at a Memphis, Tenn., hospital Wednesday night (March 15) for injuries sustained earlier in the day in a traffic accident between Memphis and Tunica, Miss. They are the daughters of Hank Williams Jr. and his ex-wife, Becky. According to WREG-TV in Memphis, the sisters were traveling south to Bastrop, La., to attend funeral services for their 87-year-old grandfather, Warren White, who died Monday. Both Hank Williams Jr. and his ex-wife spent much of Wednesday night at the hospital where Holly was listed in fair condition. Older sister Hilary was listed in critical condition and was scheduled to undergo surgery. WREG-TV reported that the vehicle transporting the sisters apparently rolled over several times. Holly Williams released her Universal South debut album, The Ones We Never Knew, in 2004. She has been working on a new album and was scheduled to travel to Europe next week for promotional appearances in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
 
Jamey Johnson Stirs Fans With "The Dollar"
 
Posted: 03/07/06
 
Jamey Johnson is a man of firm opinions, whether he's talking about the songs he writes and records or the career path he's set for himself. His first single, "The Dollar," from his debut album of the same title, has inched its way to No. 16 on the Billboard chart.

"The Dollar" is a real heartbreaker. It's about a father who's too busy working for "the dollar" and his little boy who scrounges up a handful of coins in the hope of buying some of his dad's time. Johnson's follow-up single will be "Rebelicious," a bit of lecherous heavy breathing that may remind some fans of another of Johnson compositions, "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk," which is, of course, Trace Adkins' current hit.

"You're going to hear a pretty wide range on every one of my albums," Johnson promises. Besides "The Dollar" and "Rebelicious," he wrote or co-wrote seven of the 11 songs on the album -- and they do cover all shades of the emotional spectrum.

Johnson was born and grew up near Montgomery, Ala. Naturally enough, the group named for that state was an early and strong musical influence. The first concert he ever attended, he says, was one of Alabama's famed June Jams in the early 1990s when he was still in high school.

"It just kind of took my breath away," he recalls. "Mom and Dad didn't let me go to many concerts when I was a kid -- any really. ... I got to see Alan Jackson play that night and some other guys. It was a remarkable experience for me -- wanting to play and sing and seeing these guys up there doing that stuff for a living and turning on the crowd the way they did."

A lifelong fan of Alabama, Johnson remembers his dad trying to teach him how to strum a guitar and his Uncle Bobby showing him how to play the lead to "My Home's in Alabama." Fortunately, the starry-eyed youngster had a real talent for music -- as well as for learning music theory.

"It was self-imposed training," he says. "I just had a passion for it. I wanted to do it. I never could get enough. So I would ask my band director different questions about this and that. ... I arranged a piece for my wind ensemble when I was in the eighth grade . . . for my junior high school band. It was 'How Great Thou Art.' We played it at a spring concert."

After high school, Johnson enrolled at Jacksonville State University (Alabama's Randy Owen's alma mater, he points out), planning to major in music education.

"One thing I learned while I was there was that I didn't want to teach [music]," he says. Although he was on scholarship and making "straight A's," he confesses he didn't like being made to do what his scholarship required, a regimen that included playing in the school's marching and concert bands. "I just figured I'd rather drink beer and chase women for a living and somehow tie that to music," he reflects.

Johnson quit college after two years and joined the Marine Corps Reserves for an eight-year term. He also kept playing in local country bands around Montgomery. He had started doing this before he was legally old enough to be in bars.

"One of the first gigs I played, I opened up for David Allan Coe in one of the bars down there," he recalls. "I didn't play the whole song, but just to kind of tease the crowd along, I said, 'You all know who's coming out here next?' And they roared a little bit, and [my] band played the intro to 'The Ride' [Coe's 1983 hit]. That was it. ... We got off the stage [Here Johnson begins chuckling at the memory], and [Coe] lit into me. He told me "Don't you ever play my f**kin' songs.'

"It wasn't until a week or two later, we opened up for him again somewhere else -- a picnic or something like that. We got done playing, and I got off stage and went back to put my guitar away. And there he was again. He said, 'Boy, you're about as country as f**kin' in tall grass.' I didn't even know whether that was good or bad. I just said, 'OK' and went on about my business."

Like so many aspiring singers before him, Johnson spent some late nights singing at Hank Williams' grave.

"It seems to be the thing everybody wants to do when they come to Montgomery," he muses. "The best time to do it is after you get done with a show. Go out there and pay your dues, and then go up there and pay your respects."

Johnson moved to Nashville on Jan. 1, 2000, and began working for a sign company. "I didn't even tell anybody I did anything in music for probably the first 10 months I was in town," he says. "I thought if my boss found out that I came to town for music, he'd fire me." But eventually, Johnson began to venture out to the honky-tonks on Nashville's Lower Broadway, places like Tootsie's and Legends Corner.

"I ran across this guy who used to play fiddle for Tanya Tucker and some other different artists," Johnson continues. "His name was Greg Perkins. I got up and sang, and Greg liked the way I sang, and he hired me to come in and sing some demos for him. ... So I went in and sang on a duet. It was with Gretchen Wilson. I sang my part and got out of the way, and she came in and sang hers. I think at the time she was seven or eight months pregnant."

Before long, Johnson was making a living via demos. "It's just like opening up business," he explains. "You do have to do a couple of them for free -- just to show somebody you know what you're doing. For me, it was [through] all my friends that were songwriters. They started hiring me to sing their songs, and their publishers liked what I did and would hire me to sing songs for some of their other songwriters. Over the course of two or three years, it just kind of spread."

Among the songs Johnson demoed that became hits for other artists were "Songs About Me" (Trace Adkins) and "That's How They Do It in Dixie" (Hank Williams Jr.) He also sang the work tape -- the rough recording that precedes the more polished demo -- for "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk." Adkins heard it and snapped up the song before it ever reached the demo stage.

Writing "Badonkadonk" was fun, Johnson says. "Me and my buddies, Randy Houser and Dallas Davidson, were drinking over at the Wildhorse Saloon one night. We were watching this girl dance on the dance floor. She was kind of a healthy girl -- looked like somebody had shoved a refrigerator in her pants. We were drinking, but she was drunk. She was done. She was bouncing into people and running folks over and causing a ruckus.

"We thought it was funny, but Randy looked out there and saw that butt of hers and said, 'badonkadonk.' Right after that, he said 'honky tonk badonkadonk.' Me and Dallas were just so proud to have another word that rhymed with 'honky tonk' we didn't know what to do. We wrote that song in about an hour and spent 30 minutes of that laughing."

It was through another chance acquaintance -- one made at a songwriters showcase -- that led Johnson to his producer, Buddy Cannon, who's best known for his work with Kenny Chesney. That acquaintance was the late Randy Hardison. He told Johnson that he and Cannon were looking for a new artist to produce and set up the first meeting. "The next thing I know," says Johnson, "I get a phone call saying Randy's in the hospital, that somebody's hit him in the head."

Hardison died from his wounds. A song Hardison wrote with Cannon, "It Was Me," is on Johnson's album. Johnson and Cannon have also written, but not yet recorded, a tribute to Hardison called "We're Almost Home: Randy's Song."

Johnson says he's been impressed by Cannon's feel for songs. "He don't just go in and throw some pieces together and say, 'That ought to get it done.' He really does live with this music, and if he don't like a song, he don't see any sense in cutting it. ... I trust his decisions."

Winning his contract with BNA (a division of RCA Records) wasn't easy, Johnson notes. He had to audition seven times before he finally got the nod. But he's sure it was worth the wait. "RCA, to me, has always put out top-rate artists," he says. "They've always wanted to work with the best."

Johnson says it was being away from his own infant daughter for two months -- while he was working on a construction job -- that inspired him to write "The Dollar." He acknowledges that the song has "touched a lot of people," but he's also aware that its sentimentality puts him in perilous territory -- where the tender can too easily collapse into the maudlin.

"I tell folks, 'You got to be careful when you write sentimental kinds of songs like that, because it's either going to be a big old hit or like peeing in your pants. You might get a warm feeling, but nobody else really cares to know about it.'"

This spring, Johnson will be touring with Rhett Akins as well as headlining his own shows.
 
McGraw's NBC Special to Air April 5
 
Posted: 02/28/06
 
Tim McGraw: Reflected, the singer's third network TV special, will air April 5 on NBC. The hour-long show includes concert footage, a club gig in New York, several duets with Faith Hill on their Tennessee farm and a jam session with Hank Williams Jr. McGraw also previewed two new tracks -- "When the Stars Go Blue" and "I've Got Friends That Do" -- on Nashville radio station WSIX on Tuesday morning (Feb. 28). His new album, Reflected: Hits Vol. 2, will be released March 28.
 
Paisley, Parton Get to No. 1 at Country Radio
 
Posted: 02/25/06
 
With his star still on the rise, Brad Paisley has once again arrived at No. 1 -- this time with "When I Get Where I'm Going," his touching duet with Dolly Parton. This is Paisley's fifth No. 1 on Billboard's country airplay chart. As for Parton, it's her first time on top since "Rockin' Years," her 1991 duet with Ricky Shelton.

Just one notch behind, Josh Turner's "Your Man" climbs to No. 2. Carrie Underwood's smash hit "Jesus, Take the Wheel" falls two places to No. 3. Kenny Chesney's "Living in Fast Forward," Rascal Flatts' "What Hurts the Most," Keith Urban's "Tonight I Wanna Cry," Sugarland's "Just Might (Make Me Believe)," Montgomery Gentry's "She Don't Tell Me To," Toby Keith's "Get Drunk and Be Somebody" and Trace Adkins' "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" round out the Top 10.

Chris Cagle enters the chart at No. 56 with "Wal-Mart Parking Lot," a follow-up to last year's hit, "Miss Me, Baby." Other debuts include "That's How They Do It in Dixie" -- the Hank Williams Jr. collaboration with Gretchen Wilson, Big & Rich and Van Zant -- at No. 58 and Blaine Larsen's "I Don't Know What She Said" at No. 59.

Meanwhile, Underwood continues her reign on the country sales chart with the double-platinum Some Hearts still at No. 1. Turner's Your Man lands at No. 2, trailed by Rascal Flatts' Feels Like Today at No. 3 and The Legend of Johnny Cash at No. 4. Ron White's comedy album, You Can't Fix Stupid, falls to No. 5. The latest albums from Adkins, Urban, the Totally Country compilation series, Chesney and Sugarland round out the Top 10.

There are no albums debuting on the country chart this week. However, on the bluegrass chart, Canadian folk singer Sarah Harmer's I'm a Mountain enters at No. 4. Mountain Heart's Wide Open arrives at No. 6.

And on Billboard's chart of digital downloads, Willie Nelson has the most popular new track of the week. His recording of "Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly (Fond of Each Other)" debuts at No. 26.
 
Dierks Bentley Taps a Keg at Friday CRS Luncheon
 
Posted: 02/17/06
 
Cutting his teeth in the clubs, Dierks Bentley knows about tough crowds -- but the roomful of programmers at Country Radio Seminar could give any roughnecks a run for their money. While he did a fine job overall, Bentley forgot one crucial rule during his luncheon performance at CRS on Friday (Feb. 17) in Nashville: People in the business don't sing along.

It was another one of those unfortunate moments at the notoriously stoic convention when a huge hit -- in this case, "Come a Little Closer" -- might bring down the house anywhere else, but you can almost hear the crickets when the singer sticks the microphone toward the crowd and hollers, "Everybody now!"

Although the half-hour set ended with a whimper, Bentley's showcase did offer six solid songs from his newest album, Modern Day Drifter. He also announced that "Settle for a Slowdown" will probably be the last single from the album but added he's been working on some new material. He also got to show off his new beer keg, which appears to be built into a road case to take along with the rest of his musical equipment. (It's just not right to sing "Domestic, Light and Cold" without something ... well, you know.)

Prior to Bentley's set, newcomer Eric Church previewed his upcoming album on Capitol Nashville. Empowered with a worthy country voice, the rock arrangements and guitar assaults threatened to diminish his initial impression as a viable star for the country format. However, when he scaled back for an acoustic take of "Lightning" -- about an execution by electric chair -- his cinematic imagery held the audience captive.

Before the showcases, the crowd dined on lasagna and mixed vegetables, and Capitol offered new videos for Keith Urban's vulnerable "Tonight I Wanna Cry" and Ryan Shupe and the RubberBand's boisterous "Banjo Boy." They also bragged on the 2005 accomplishments of their entire roster, including Trace Adkins, Chris Cagle, Merle Haggard, Jamie O'Neal and Kenny Rogers.

Earlier in the day, Rogers took part in an extensive Q&A, chatting about his career highlights, his new record deal and his musical heroes and friends, including Ray Charles, Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie and Dottie West. Asked about the boundaries of what is and isn't considered country, Rogers said, "When 'Lady' came out, that was not a country record. At that time, country music was what country people would buy. Now, country music is what country radio will play. If they don't play it, you won't get the opportunity to buy it."

He also offered a lesson that up-and-coming artists should take to heart.

"I get to meet kids from time to time, and I'm quick to tell them, 'If you're getting into this for the money, don't get into it, because you won't last long enough to make the money,'" Rogers said. "It's the guys who are in it -- who don't want to do anything else -- who stick around long enough for success to find them. Talent is not the ultimate deciding factor. ... There are guys who sing circles around me, but I've been out here long enough, there's a stature to survival."

However, looking around the Nashville Convention Center that morning, there were very few -- if any -- country artists (aside from Rogers) to be found. Of course, anyone can be forgiven for staying up late the night before to mingle with the superstars.

At the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on Thursday night (Feb. 16), Hank Williams Jr. reminisced about his childhood during an acoustic set of old, new and surprising material (including a cover of "Great Balls of Fire"). The crowd of admirers included Alabama's Jeff Cook, Tracy Byrd and Collin Raye.

Meanwhile, out on the Cumberland River and the General Jackson riverboat, the RCA Label Group trotted out its own roster for a night of music from Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney (who got a plaque for 25 million albums sold), Alan Jackson, Lonestar and new artists Blaine Larsen, the Lost Trailers and Jake Owen. Martina McBride and Ronnie Milsap harmonized on "I Can't Stop Loving You," which earned them a standing ovation. Carrie Underwood also tearfully accepted a plaque for her double platinum album, Some Hearts, noting that she had never imagined her first album and single would do so well.

CRS continues through Friday night when the New Faces show offers Jason Aldean, Keith Anderson, Jeff Bates, Hot Apple Pie and Little Big Town.
 
NASHVILLE SKYLINE: Jennings, Colter Clan Yield Three New Releases
 
Posted: 02/16/06
 
Three new, very gripping CDs in coming weeks from the Waylon Jennings-Jessi Colter family promise some very satisfying listening. The late Waylon Jennings' Live From Austin TX CD and DVD are set for release Feb. 21, his wife Jessi Colter's Out of the Ashes is due Feb. 28 and their son Shooter Jennings' second release Electric Rodeo is due April 4.

This is a family that is at once as enigmatic as any in music and yet at the same time as musically fertile and diverse as any in country music history. Waylon's stature has grown since his untimely death in 2002, and there are few country artists -- alive or dead -- who measure up to him. Jessi has not cut a solo album in 22 years, and I think this one will surprise listeners a great deal. Shooter made a very strong debut CD last year with Put the "O" Back in Country and has clearly matured with Electric Rodeo.

Waylon's latest is a live show recorded on Austin City Limits and is another in a series of ACL's impressive releases (other current CDs and simultaneous DVDs include works from Merle Haggard and Tony Joe White). This 17-song set was recorded in Austin in 1989, when Jennings had gotten totally clean from his drug problem and was physically and vocally strong. At his best, no one was more musically authoritative onstage than Waylon at his peak, and he is totally in charge here. Clear-voiced and obviously enjoying the evening with his stellar steel guitar player Ralph Mooney pushing him along, Jennings laid down a set for the ages. Nobody rocks out as hard as Waylon does here on such songs as "I Ain't Living Long Like This" or sings as tender a ballad as he does with "Amanda."

I wish this were also available on vinyl. Nothing sounds better to me these days as far as country sound goes than Waylon's early and mid-1970s albums on vinyl. Say what you will about the clarity of digital recording and CD sound, nothing beats the urgency and range and musical warmth of analog sound on vinyl records.

Jennings duets on two tracks with his wife Jessi Colter -- on Elvis' "Suspicious Minds" and the old Hank Thompson country classic, "The Wild Side of Life," which evolves into Jessi's version "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels," the woman's answer song which put Kitty Wells on the musical map.

Colter delves into the blues and soul and gospel sides of country on her new Out of the Ashes very dramatically. She is stepping into her own spotlight, and rightfully so. This is good stuff. The album opens with the moody gospel classic "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" and works through many original Colter songs as well as a surprising take on Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35."

She completes a very effective song from an old tape by husband Waylon with swamp-rock master Tony Joe White on the latter's composition "Out of the Rain." New songs, such as "So Many Things," "Never Got Over You" and "The Canyon," are very affecting. In "The Canyon" she sings, "Don't lay your bridle on my shoulder/Don't bring your bit to my mouth/Don't lay your blanket on my body/Just take your saddle and move out." She finishes the CD in a duet with son Shooter on the emotional "Please Carry Me Home."

Shooter Jennings' upcoming Electric Rodeo continues and elaborates upon the themes that carried his debut album. Not to give away the thunder of Electric Rodeo, but it's a more adventurous and at once introspective venture.

Some musical highlights include "Little White Lines," a cocaine caution tale, and "Aviators," a steel-guitar drenched tongue-in-cheek weeper.

And Shooter is starting to sound a little more like his daddy in "Some Rowdy Woman" in both lyrics and vocals. And particularly chilling is "Living Proof," with the lyrics, "You ain't as good as your daddy, and you never will be."

This is a family that has carried the tradition of Texas country, West Texas rock 'n' roll, Western swing and now two generations of Outlaw country music and still makes it all matter.
 
Hank Jr. Films Intro for Super Bowl XL
 
Posted: 01/26/06
 
Hank Williams Jr. has filmed the opening intro to the Super Bowl XL which will air Feb. 5 from Detroit. He will also attend the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks. "Not many people can say they have performed during five Super Bowl openings," says Williams.
 
Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Hank Williams' Heirs
 
Posted: 01/24/06
 
The Tennessee Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court ruling stating that Hank Williams' heirs -- son Hank Williams Jr. and daughter Jett Williams -- have the sole rights to sell his old recordings made for a Nashville radio station in the early '50s. The court rejected claims made by Polygram Records and Legacy Entertainment in releasing recordings Williams made for the Mother's Best Flour Show, a program that originally aired on WSM-AM. The recordings, which Legacy Entertainment acquired in 1997, include live versions of Williams' hits and his cover version of other songs. Polygram contended that Williams' contract with MGM Records, which Polygram now owns, gave them rights to release the radio recordings.
 
Hank Williams Jr.'s Silver Dollar Pontiac at Auction
 
Posted: 01/20/06
 
A customized 1964 Pontiac Bonneville convertible formerly owned by the late Audrey Williams, mother of Hank Williams Jr., will be auctioned Friday (Jan. 20) in Phoenix. According to the RM Auctions Web site, the car was customized by Nudie Cohn, who was the personal tailor for entertainers including Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Webb Pierce, Porter Wagoner, Elvis Presley, Gram Parsons and many others. One of 18 vehicles known as Nudiemobiles, the car has 350 authentic U.S. silver dollars embedded in the interior. The car has been in the Smoky Mountain Car Museum since 1968.
 
Hank Jr. Visits With Surviving Miner
 
Posted: 01/12/06
 
Hank Williams Jr. visited with Randal McCloy Jr., the only survivor of the Sago Mine accident, on Wednesday (Jan. 11) in Morgantown, W.Va. Williams traveled to the hospital after learning that McCloy was a fan of his music. "It just hit me like a ton of bricks because I had a big mountain fall in the '70s, and they said I wouldn't live," Williams told Pittsburgh TV station KDKA. "It really, really affected me, and I said, 'I've just got to go there and meet the family.'" McCloy remains in a partial coma from injuries sustained in the Jan. 2 disaster.













































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