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.”


    In the latest episode of DBTV, Dierks Bentley says coming back for the summer, he wanted to rock it and let loose with his new single, “5-1-5-0!” It’s become quite the fan favorite in concert too!

    Video / Dierks Bentley - DBTV - Episode 58: 5-1-5-0


    The 47th Annual Academy Country Music Awards will be broadcast live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 1st, beginning at 8pm ET/delayed PT on CBS. Watch for performances by Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, Little Big Town and many more. We have been rolling out soundbites throughout the week with our nominees and performers leading up to Sunday night’s ACM Awards. 

    Dierks Bentley is nominated for Song of the Year at this year’s ACM Awards for his recent No. 1 single, “Home.” He co-wrote the song with Jim Beavers and Dan Wilson, who will also go home with a trophy for Song of the Year. 

    AUDIO: Dierks Bentley talks about performing on the ACM Awards, where he’s nominated for Song of the Year for “Home.” 

    Dierks (performing ACMs) OC: …good time. :18

    “My favorite thing about music and why I’m in the music business is to play live music. I love being in front of people; that’s why I do this. It’s the fun part, but it’s also cool to get respect from other people in the business. So, I’m pretty excited about, you know? Any excuse to go to Vegas is a good one, and to be up for something is pretty cool. And hopefully, we’ll win something, but if not, we’ll still have a good time.” 

    AUDIO: Dierks Bentley talks about writing his ACM-nominated Song of the Year, “Home.”

    Dierks Bentley (writing Home) 2 OC: …with this song. 1:06

    “[So] we were hanging out for about an hour, getting to know each other, and my wife called, battery’s dead. Typical — that car of hers. I went over and jumped her car, came back over, and Brett and Dan had started this melody, and I thought it was beautiful. Dan had said something about America. He kept thinking, ‘This song feels like America.’ And I was like, ‘Aw man, writing a patriotic song is so difficult. Let’s not do that. Those songs are too hard to write.’ Brett said something about ‘Home,’ and then I think I said something like, ‘the place we all call home.’ Maybe we could write a song about America that’s not overly in your face about it, you know, something that everyone could grab a hold of and feel inspired by. The recession was in full board at this point a year ago, the political nature of this country was as bad as it’s ever been with, basically, Washington D.C. being turned into a football game between two sides and not caring about the fans, the voters, the public at all, just their own internal thing going on there. It’s about now, but it’s a little bit of a history lesson too about what we’ve been through. And at the end of the day, I think it’s inspiring and hopeful, and it’s been a real blessing of a song and one that none of us really could take too much credit for, just inspiration hit. You write that many songs over the course of a year, you might get one of those moments, and we got one with this song.”

    AUDIO: Dierks Bentley expresses his hopes for his recent No. 1 hit “Home,” which is nominated for ACM Song of the Year.  

    Dierks Bentley (hopes for Home) OC: …things right. 1:21

    “This song is written in a way that is opened-ended as far as what they want to walk away with. I mean, I think it’s obvious it’s a song about our country, about the ups and downs and the scars we have in our past. But at the end of the day, no matter what side of the fence you’re on, where you stand on certain issues, where you come from, your background, you have to walk through the front door of your house every day, this is our house, this is our home, this is our one country. There’s not another one you can go to. I hope in some sense it can bring people together and find more things in common than we don’t and hope for the people that are going through tough times that so many people are right now with the economy. There’s certainly still a lot of tough times ahead, and they see that we’ve overcome so much as a country in the past and there’s no reason why we can’t overcome these things again and really be the number one, the best country in the world as far as a place to have these freedoms and to raise your family and to pass something on to the next generation. Just help people feel inspired and look back and look at the country, from just a long term perspective, not just this day, this week, this month, this year, but just the history of this country and all the people that came before us and sacrificed their lives for us. We’re standing on their shoulders and we need to honor that, and I think the best way to honor that is come together and make things right.”


    Little Big Town performs “Deep River Woman” with Lionel Richie on NBC’s Today Show Tuesday (March 27th). The band is featured on the iconic performer’s new album, Tuskeegee, which is now in stores.


    Nashville, TN – March 27, 2012 – GRAMMY winning trio Lady Antebellum announced last week that tornado ravaged Henryville High School would be the recipients of a private concert from their OWN THE NIGHT Prom Contest.  The group is inviting the school’s Juniors and Seniors to the KFC YUM! Center on May 16 for a private prom event followed by a post-party concert that will be open to the public.  All proceeds raised from the concert portion of Rebuilding Henryville will remain local through the New Hope/Indiana Bankers Association for the benefit of the Disaster Relief Fund.  

    “The whole community, especially the students, is excited about Lady Antebellum coming and performing for Henryville,” said Superintendent of the West Clark Community Schools Monty Schneider. “They missed so much with the school being destroyed that things like this help them feel whole again. They will be talking about the tornadoes for the rest of their lives, but this event will give them something positive to reflect on about that time. It’s going to be a special moment for the entire community.”

    “Helping rebuild this community is our biggest priority right now,” said Lady A’s Hillary Scott. “We were so moved by the stories from Henryville High School, but also from the students at their rival schools who raised their hands and said they wanted to help.  There has been so much national media attention and so many sponsors and volunteers are stepping forward to help.  It’s going to be an amazing day!

    Lipton has also come on board to help with the event in the spirit of their “Drink Positive” and “Live Positive” message, a campaign that Lady A already supports.  

    Fans unable to attend Rebuilding Henryville can make a donation here: http://www.crowdrise.com/LadyAProm/fundraiser/ladyantebellum

    Further details on the events and ticket information will be available in the coming weeks at www.ladyantebellum.com

    AUDIO: Lady Antebellum talk about getting to perform for Henryville High School (and Junior High) after they were picked to win the band’s Own the Night Prom Contest. 

    Lady A (special prom) OC: (Hillary) …ask me to dance. [laughs] :24

    DAVE: “Although we couldn’t make the actual prom date, we’re going to do a special and bigger and better event actually for the entire community, and also have something special for the junior and senior high students there as well to kind of commemorate their prom this time of year.” CHARLES: “And Dave is going to give out free kisses, first kisses to anybody who has yet had their first kiss and for anybody who makes a sign, so…” HILLARY: “I’ll be standing on the wall waiting for someone to ask me to dance. [laughs]”