Check out Luke Bryan‘s ACM Weekend in Las Vegas, including his headlining performance at Fremont Street and his ACM Awards rehearsal for ‘I Don’t Want This Night to End.’

    Video / Luke Bryan - I Don't Want This Night To End - ACM Awards 2012


    Keith Urban pays tribute to the Navy SEALS with his ACM 2012 performance of “For You,” which is included on the soundtrack for the film, Act of Valor.

    Video / Keith Urban - For You - ACM's 2012


    Dierks Bentley‘s ‘Home’ has given people hope and inspiration when it comes to bringing people closer. In fact, the song brought him to a charitable dinner and put him in contact with one of rock music’s biggest bands. ” I was having dinner; U2 came through town. They played a show here, and the night before that, there was a [benefit] dinner at Senator Bill Frist’s house,” recalls Dierks. “So, I got a chance to sit in on this dinner and hang out. But I was talking to him, and I hummed him the melody of this song, you know, and he goes, ‘Man, that’s not a song, that’s a hymn.’”

    Dierks is beginning to hit the airwaves with his latest single, ‘5-1-5-0.’ 

    AUDIO: Dierks Bentley recalls being at a charity dinner in which he got to hang with U2’s Bono. He was able to give him a preview of his ACM-nominated song, “Home,” and Bono gave Dierks a very cool compliment. 

    Dierks (Home-U2) OC: …pretty cool. :18

    “I actually sang the melody to Bono. I was having dinner; U2 came through town. They played a show here, and the night before that, there was a [benefit] dinner at Senator Bill Frist’s house. So, I got a chance to sit in on this dinner and hang out. But I was talking to him and I hummed him the melody of this song, you know, and he goes, ‘Man, that’s not a song, that’s a hymn.’ And I was like, ‘Whoa! That’s pretty cool.’”


    Little Big Town, in partnership with ACM Lifting Lives, hit the ACM Awards show stage for a performance of ‘Here’s Hope,’ an original song co-written by ACM New Artist of the Year nominee Hunter Hayes. Hunter introduced the quartet, who was joined onstage by the Clark County Children’s Choir. The performance, presented by ConAgra Foods’ Child Hunger Ends Here campaign, is being presented to shed light on child hunger in the United States.

    Little Big Town began their performance by singing a bar of John Lennon‘s ‘Imagine’ before launching into ‘Here’s Hope’ with images of children flashing on the screens behind them.

    “When I first learned about ACM Lifting Lives a few years ago, I immediately asked to be a part of this amazing organization,” says Little Big Town’s Kimberly Schlapman. “Lifting Lives seeks out needs and takes care of people. They work hard at giving both children and adults comfort, contentment and happiness. We are so honored and excited to be a part of the very special Lifting Lives moment to end child hunger on the ACM Awards.” 

    ACM Lifting Lives is the philanthropic arm of the Academy of Country Music. The organization is dedicated to improving lives through the power of music. Among the services they provide are grants to music therapy and music education programs and assisting members of the country music community who face unexpected medical or financial hardship. This year’s ACM Lifting Lives award-show presentation with Little Big Town marks the fourth consecutive year during which a performance has been used to highlight worthy causes and provide support on behalf of their beneficiaries. Since 2009, the ACM Lifting Lives on-stage moment has raised over $200,000 for designated charities.
    ‘Here’s Hope’ was penned by Hunter Hayes, Luke Laird and Barry Dean to inspire consumers to join the fight against child hunger. 

    AUDIO: Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild talks about the band’s ACM Lifting Lives moment. 

    LBT (Karen-ACM) OC: …moment. :30

    “Well, I mean we have children, so when we heard the statistics that one in five children don’t know where their next meal was coming from, we were astounded. We just couldn’t believe it that that could happen here. I mean, we always thought that was a global problem, but not really something that happened in the States. We just thought if we could do something really moving, like a call to action, maybe people would do something right in the moment when they’re listening to the music. So, that’s what we’re hoping for and Conagra and the ACMs have put together a really beautiful moment.”

    AUDIO: Little Big Town’s Kimberly Schlapman talks about the importance of the band’s ACM Lifting Lives moment.

    LBT (Kimberly-ACM) OC: …in our country. :20

    “One of the most important things about the performance was that hopefully it brought awareness, because we had no idea that one in five children in our country don’t know where their next meal is coming from. So hopefully, it at least put that in people’s minds and hopefully, they gave last night, but they’ll continue to give to cure that problem in our country.”

    Video / Little Big Town - Imagine & Here's Hope - ACM's 2012


    From CMT.com:

    LAS VEGAS — Luke Bryan launched his energetic, hour-plus set in Las Vegas with “Rain Is a Good Thing” — and judging by the cheers at this free party in the desert on Friday night (March 30), thousands of country fans agreed.

    Although the desert air is dry and no rain was imminent, there were plenty of other liquids lubricating this particular crowd. Is it any wonder that Bryan’s current single, “Drunk on You,” earned some of the loudest singing-along of the night?

    Bryan headlined the first of two nights at the Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas, capping a night of music that offered ACM-nominated newcomers Scotty McCreery, Brantley Gilbert, Hunter Hayes and the updated duo version of Love and Theft.

    Concluding the night with to the longest imaginable rendition of “Country Girl (Shake It for Me),” Bryan and his capable band admirably kept the momentum going up until midnight.

    Hits like “All My Friends Say,” “I Don’t Want This Night to End” and “Do I” translated well to a live, late night setting and you could tell his fans were out in force. Bryan’s stage presence is undeniable, too, and if anybody unfamiliar with country music just happened to be downtown, you can wager they’re going to remember his name.

    The free Fremont Street shows continue on Saturday with headliner Eric Church, as well as Laura Bell Bundy, the Eli Young Band, Craig Campbell and Jana Kramer.


    Country music came to Caesars Palace on Friday, as the iconic Las Vegas Strip property hosted an autograph signing for fans with the Grammy nominated, platinum-selling group Little Big Town at Serendipity 3.  

    The restaurant’s chef Michael Wolf collaborated with the band to create a special “Little Big Town” sundae, which features vanilla and chocolate ice cream, hot fudge caramel, fresh strawberries, wet nuts (walnuts and maple syrup), gummy bears and gummy worms.



    By Mike Weatherford
    Posted: Mar. 30, 2012 | 1:59 a.m.

    File this one under “Good Problem to Have.”

    Last year, Eric Church was a long shot to win the Academy of Country Music’s nod for Best New Artist. And he did not. But he had fun playing in Mandalay Bay’s arena in its first year as a fan-friendly annex to the big dance inside the MGM Grand Garden.

    “I enjoyed last year just because it was the fans over there. You’re not looking at the first 20 rows of the music industry,” he tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

    “This year I will be,” he adds with a chuckle.

    When he’s not making eye contact with label execs or maybe even Taylor Swift, Church will be performing his single “Springsteen,” and waiting to find out if he wins two awards: Album of the Year (“Chief”) or Video of the Year (“Homeboy”).

    The country rocker also is Saturday’s main event at the Fremont Street Experience, closing out the annual two-night street party with free concerts from nominees.

    “I’ll probably get in trouble if you give me that night off anyway,” Church jokes.

    Country’s big Vegas weekend expands its public outreach beyond Fremont Street this year with The ACM Experience, a free retail expo in the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Saturday at the expo includes a “Salute to the Military” concert, with special seating for military families.

    “It’s expanded into a lifestyle event. We just keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” says Richard “RAC” Clark of Dick Clark Productions, which helms both the Sunday awards on CBS and a Monday companion event — a country salute to Lionel Richie — for future broadcast.

    “I love being the away game for the country artists,” Clark adds. “People love being able to come to Vegas and hang out in Vegas.” The awards weekend “concentrates all of Nashville in one area. And everyone gets away from their work life and their home life and it becomes a bit of a party. It translates itself onto the screen.”

    Country’s overall popularity continues to blur the lines between other formats. Luke Bryan, Friday’s headliner on Fremont Street, was chasing Rihanna at No. 14 on Billboard’s album chart last week, and Church was at No. 28, three slots behind Lady Antebellum.

    But on the radio, country’s dominance finds strength in unity; Church’s guitar-rock and Lady Antebellum’s pop harmonies are both Album of the Year nominees played on the same stations. Satellite radio is haven for splinter formats such as “Americana” or “classic country,” but most over-the-air radio markets keep country under one umbrella.

    In Church’s case, “We were a little more accepted (by Nashville) just because of the numbers, the albums we were selling and the tickets we were selling” by the time “Chief” came out. Though he lost last year’s New Artist nod to the cute, teen-dreamy siblings of The Band Perry, Church had already “laid a pretty good foundation” for his blockbuster year.

    “We never changed or backed off what we did to get that,” he adds. “I didn’t say, ‘I have to have country radio, so let me put out this.’ We just kept doing what we were doing.

    “I like being the guy that’s kind of out there,” he adds. “I’m not a guy that’s ever been interested in being the mainstream singer of the format. And if you’re there, that’s a dangerous place to be. I would rather be a guy that’s always doing something different, that’s always pushing the envelope.”

    “Chief” balances classic Jones and Haggard honky-tonk (“Drink In My Hand” and “I’m Gettin’ Stoned”) with snapshots of current rural America. “Homeboy” has the “little square town” narrator wishing his brother would give up the big city and his “hip-hop hat” and “pants on the ground.” The current single “Springsteen” — which Church never figured for country radio because “it’s long” with “a lot of space in it” — reminisces about young love blossoming at one of The Boss’ concerts in the ’80s.

    Church calls it “taking what your influences did and then doing your thing. I still get beat up a lot by people saying, ‘He doesn’t use fiddle, he doesn’t use steel guitar.’ “

    But that annoys him, “because there should be a natural evolution. That’s healthy. Where Merle Haggard grew up listening to Lefty Frizzell, or George Jones grew up listening to Hank (Williams) Sr. or Hank Snow, I grew up listening to that stuff, but I also listened to Metallica. I listened to AC/DC. I grew up in the ’80s, man.”

    So far, the 34-year-old Church is enjoying the best of both worlds. Rolling Stone picked “Chief” as one of its Top 20 albums of last year, and Metallica picked him to play its Orion Music + More Festival in Atlantic City next June.

    But first comes Sunday, and a live performance of “Springsteen” for those first 20 rows. “I think it will be a cool TV moment,” he promises, stoking the fires of competition.

    “I want every artist going either, ‘Damn, I wish I’d thought of that,’ or, ‘We’re not going to beat that.’ That’s what we go out there to do, we do it every night. That’s just our attitude. That’s my band, that’s me. We’re going our there to crush it.”


    Luke Bryan is thrilled to not only perform on Sunday night’s ACM Awards, but he’s pretty excited about taking part in the CBS-TV special, Lionel Richie and Friends – In Concert, which will tape on Monday (April 2nd). “We had our fingers crossed certainly to be part of the Lionel Richie tribute thing,” says Luke. “He is by far in my top three most influential songwriters and artists of all time.” The other two are George Strait and Alabama’s Randy Owen. Luke originally met the iconic performer at last year’s CMA Awards. “He walked up and said, ‘Hey Luke!’ I mean I almost hit the floor backstage.” Luke then had the opportunity to sing with Lionel during CRS [Country Radio Seminar] last month. Luke, who is climbing the country charts with his latest single “Drunk on You,” will perform “Runnin’ With the Night,” during the special, which airs April 13th. 

    AUDIO: Luke Bryan talks about meeting Lionel Richie. 

    Luke Bryan (Lionel Richie) OC: …of all time. :34

    “I’m doing [sings] ‘We were running with the night.’ So, yeah, I just recently got to meet, well, not meet for the first time. I met him at the CMAs. He walked up and said, ‘Hey Luke!’ I mean I almost hit the floor backstage. But for CRS, I had the opportunity to sing with him and meet him. And, we had our fingers crossed certainly to be part of the Lionel Richie tribute thing, and he is by far in my top three most influential songwriters and artists of all time.”


    Eric Church always has a good time in Las Vegas, where the ACM Awards take place. It’s always been like a vacation for him and his wife Katherine; he gets to play roulette, usually going home with more than he came there with and Katherine gets to go shopping. That is…until the last couple of years when he’s actually had to put in some time “at work.” In 2011, he performed at the ACM Fan Jam and took home the award for Top New Solo Artist. This year, he’s up for the prestigious Album of the Year for his hit album, Chief, as well as for Music Video of the Year for “Homeboy.” Not to mention he’ll be handing in one of the most-anticipated performances of the entire show on the stage of the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

    Eric is currently scaling the country charts with his latest hit, “Springsteen.”

    AUDIO: Eric Church talks about being in Las Vegas for the ACM Awards.

    Eric Church (Vegas) OC: …perform, you know? :16

    “Vegas is like a vacation. We get to get out of town, and it’s like the beach – you can lay out in the sun, you can shop, you can gamble. My wife loves Vegas, more than I like her to love Vegas, you know? She does a lot of shopping out there. I love to gamble. This year we actually have got to do some work. [laughs] I actually have to perform.”

    AUDIO: Eric Church says when he’s in Las Vegas, he likes to play roulette – and he’s got a couple of tips on how to win a little money.

    Eric Church (gambling) OC: …it’s fun for me. :34

    “I love roulette. I’m the double-the-money kind of guy, and I’ll put it all on black. It’s the quickest way. I don’t understand craps all that well. I always find a guy who’s got all the chips and do what he does, you know, which I never really trust because I don’t know why I’m winning. They’re just giving me chips. So, I enjoy roulette just because I’ve made money quick doing roulette…I play colors, red, black. Then there’s thirds – first third, second third and last third – is usually what I play. And then odd or even. You can play odd or even. You put 10-dollars on black and hit it and double your money, and then put that back on black and really quickly you’ve made a couple hundred bucks, you know, just hitting like that. So, it’s fun for me.”


    Luke Bryan’s Tailgates & Tanlines remains at the top of the Billboard country album chart this week. The disc, which hit stores last August, has sold more than 18,200 copies this week to continue its reign at No. 1. “My whole approach is to make albums that can put me in a situation to play bigger stages and bigger live shows,” says Luke. “The album’s got its fun songs, but I’m really proud about some of the deeper songs [as well].” Lady Antebellum’s Own the Night is No. 4, followed by Eric Church’s Chief at No. 5. 

    AUDIO: Luke Bryan explains the approach he took for his third album, tailgates & tanlines. 

    Luke Bryan (album approach) OC: …matter also. :45 

    “My whole approach is to make albums that can put me in a situation to play bigger stages and bigger live shows. What’s funny is starting with a single called, ‘Country Girl Shake It For Me’; the whole album gets a little deeper beyond that, you know? It’s not like it’s just a bunch of, you know, kinda you know light, uptempo songs on the album. So it’s nice that we were able to come with such a fun uptempo for the summer and something that’s really done well for me. Now we can get into a meatier part and a deeper part of the album. Like I said, the album’s got its fun songs but I’m really proud about some of the deeper songs. The songs that talk about a little deeper subject matter also.”