• Brothers Osborne Nobody's Nobody
  • Chris Stapleton White Horse
  • Josh Ross Trouble
  • Dierks Bentley Something Real
  • Dalton Dover Giving Up On That
  • Parker McCollum Burn It Down
  • Kassi Ashton Drive You Out Of My Mind




On Monday night (June 4), Darius Rucker got fans on their feet to kick off an action-packed week of events as part of the 2012 CMA Music Festival. The singer took over Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon for his third-annual Darius and Friends concert, benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

In addition to a silent and live auction — which included a Charlie Daniels autographed fiddle that sold for $1,500 and an autographed acoustic guitar from Keith Urban that pulled in $2,000 — fans were able to purchase special VIP packages for a private meet and greet with Rucker prior to the show. Of course, all proceeds raised went directly to St. Jude. Major funding was also garnered for the cause through a private golf tournament held earlier in the day.

“Golf is a pretty easy game [to pick for a charity], when you have a bunch of guys who like to play and have some money and want to spend it,” Rucker told Taste of Country at the event. “You can really put together a nice tournament and raise some money. Then the music, that’s the easy part.”

He added, “It’s really cool when you have all these stars who want to come out and give their time. It always turns out to be a good show and a good time, and in the process, we raise a bunch of money. That’s really what’s important.”

Chuck Wicks‘ involvement in the event marked his second year to golf with Rucker and the other celebrities, but it was his first time taking the stage for the all-star concert.

“With it being Darius ‘and Friends,’ I feel like we’re moving up in the world … I feel like my friendship has grown with him,” Wicks joked with Taste of Country backstage at the Wildhorse. “On top of that, doing this for St. Jude and raising money for the kids is amazing. I’ve been to St. Jude in Memphis, and you see those kids out there and it breaks your heart. What’s crazy is they’re stronger than we are. They’re rockin’, but it’s nice to help them out and help them smile a little longer.”

But what about his golf game? “My team shot 800, which was good enough for fifth place, maybe, which isn’t bad,” Wicks told us with a grin. “Fifth place out of five teams is good … it isn’t bad. It’s bad, I know.”

While Sunny Sweeney didn’t partake in the sporting activities on Monday, she was honored to do her part in helping to raise funds while entertaining the fans who sold out the Saloon. “I made a point to be here because Darius Rucker wanted me to be here,” Sweeney told Taste of Country before taking the stage to perform her songs ‘Drink Myself Single Tonight’ and ‘Amy.’

“I think that’s really cool to even be asked. For it to benefit St. Jude is even cooler. I had a cousin who was at St. Jude for probably two years when she was a little baby,” she revealed. “It cured her or allowed her to live as normal of a life as possible. She has brittle bone disease. I just think that anything with kids is awesome, and when kids need extra help, that’s even better. I love doing stuff like that.”

Others who shared the stage with Rucker for the special night included Clint Black, Rodney Atkins and special surprise guest Jerrod Niemann.


Country superstar Luke Bryan has scored his third consecutive Platinum single with his current Top 5 smash, “Drunk On You,” which has been certified by the RIAA.  The single joins previous Platinum tracks “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” and the two-week #1 hit “I Don’t Want This Night To End,” both from his Platinum-certified album, tailgates & tanlines.  Luke is one of only three country artists, including Jason Aldean and Taylor Swift, to have three consecutive Platinum-selling tracks on their current album.  

Luke will perform “Drunk On You” and also appear as a presenter at the 2012 CMT Music Awards, where he is nominated for “Male Video Of The Year” for “I Don’t Want This Night To End.”  The CMT Music Awards air live tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m., ET/PT on CMT and CMT.com.  

Bryan is also nominated for Choice Male Country Artist at the 2012 Teen Choice Awards, which airs Sunday, July 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) on FOX.  Fans ages 13-19 can vote once each day at www.teenchoiceawards.com

This week, Bryan is co-hosting the ABC Television Special “CMA MUSIC FESTIVAL: COUNTRY’S NIGHT TO ROCK,” with Kimberly Perry of The Band Perry, which is set to air on Monday, September 17th from 8-11p (ET/PT).  Luke will also perform at LP Field on Saturday June 9th, during CMA Music Festival.  

For more information, be sure to visit www.lukebryan.com.  

AUDIO: Luke Bryan talks about “Drunk on You,” a song from his new album, tailgates & tanlines.

Luke Bryan (Drunk On You) OC: …gonna be fun. [laughs] :46

“’Drunk On You’ was a song that I kind of got it a little bit. The boom boom was throwing me at first, and I feel like that when fans call the radio station they’re gonna go play ‘The Boom Boom Song,’ which is cool, so, I definitely, I think it’s probably the strongest song on the album and probably maybe my biggest song potentially I’ve ever recorded. And it was really in the running, it was really between ‘Drunk On You’ and ‘Country Girl’ for the first single. We’ve just been doing it live every night and it’s fun watching the crowd jump in and sing boom boom with me, and I’m already getting my guitar made up with ‘boom boom’ on the bottom, so that’s gonna be fun. [laughs]”






Eric Church is set to perform outdoors in downtown Nashville during Wednesday night’s CMT Music Awards, giving fans without show tickets a chance to be a part of the live event. The outdoor performances (which also include Brad Paisley and Hank Williams, Jr., a part of the event for the first time in the show’s 11-year-history. The live segments will take place on the Bridgestone Arena plaza. Fans are encouraged to arrive no later than 7 pm (CT) to participate in the event.


Alan Jackson and Luke Bryan have been added to the list of presenters at this year’s CMT Music Awards, taking place Wednesday (June 6th).

Jason AldeanRonnie Dunn, Sara Evans, Carrie Underwood, Tom Arnold, Steve Austin, Dario Franchitti, Ashley Greene, Tony Hawk, Denise Richards, Dax Shepard, Jordin Sparks and recent American Idol finalists Colton Dixon and Skylar Laine.

Hosted by Toby Keith and Kristen Bell, the 2012 CMT MUSIC AWARDS will include performances by Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Toby Keith, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Willie Nelson, Brad Paisley, Pistol Annies, Rascal Flatts, Darius Rucker, The Band Perry, Carrie Underwood, Hank Williams, Jr. and Zac Brown Band. Fans can vote online at CMT.com, and on their mobile device at CMT Mobile or the CMT Insider app available on iPhone, iPad and Android now through June 4 to determine the winners. The five finalists for VIDEO OF THE YEAR will be announced at the beginning of the live show and fans can then vote at CMT.com, CMT mobile, on the CMT Insider app and via text message throughout the live telecast (ET/CT only) to determine the night’s big winner.

The CMT Music Awards will air Wednesday night on CMT and CMT.com at 8pm ET.


Nashville, TN – June 4, 2012 – CMA and ACM Vocal Group of the Year Lady Antebellum were joined by over 62,000 fans this weekend on their headlining OWN THE NIGHT 2012 WORLD TOUR sponsored by GAC in Cincinnati, OH, Cleveland, OH, Pittsburgh, PA and Rochester, NY. More than 18,600 fans weathered Thursday night’s rainy concert with the trio and special guests Darius Rucker and Thompson Square in Cleveland, becoming the biggest selling night of the group’s 2012 tour. 
“When the Grammy-winning trio of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood took the stage, they left no stone unturned…a full sing-along reached the back of the packed lawn. The band, whose talent runs deep, has a great chemistry and plays well to an audience. A classic stage with a U-shaped ramp and a riser stretching into standing-room-only allowed lots of audience interaction.”  – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Lady A didn’t just hit play on the CD and recreate a note-for-note version of ANY song. Tempo changes, dynamic changes, harmonic changes – all were incorporated, so that old songs sounded new.” – Cleveland Plain Dealer
“The band put on a spirited performance, not making much of the weather issue.” – Cincinnati Enquirer
Lady Antebellum announced last week that the final leg of their Own The Night 2012 World Tour will roll into Australia this September. Tickets will go on sale at 9:00A local time on Fri., June 15th, with pre-sale tickets available from Tues., June 12th.
Fans in the US can catch Lady A open the CMT Music Awards this Wed., where they’re nominated for Music Video of the Year, Group Video of the Year and CMT Performance of the Year. Visit ladyantebellum.com for further details.


Alan Jackson’s Thirty Miles West arrives in stores and at online retailers on Tuesday (June 5th). The country superstar says he came up with the title of the new collection from “Dixie Highway,” a song he wrote for the album. “I wrote a song on [the album] called ‘Dixie Highway,’ and that’s the name of a highway that has been in existence forever now almost, but I think it runs from Michigan or something all the way down to south Florida, and it’s named that pretty much the whole way,” Alan explains. “Where I grew up was on Highway 34 there outside of Newnan, Georgia, and it wasn’t actually the official Dixie Highway. That’s where we came up with 30, I think I’m 30 miles west of the official highway that runs through Georgia that’s called the Dixie Highway.” 

Thirty Miles West also features his latest hit, “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore.” 

AUDIO: Alan Jackson explains how he came up with the title of his new album, Thirty Miles West. 

AJ (Thirty Miles West title) OC: …that kind of stuff. :38

Thirty Miles West, well, how that came about [was] I wrote a song on [the album] called ‘Dixie Highway,’ and that’s the name of a highway that has been in existence forever now almost, but I think it runs from Michigan or something all the way down to south Florida, and it’s named that pretty much the whole way. Where I grew up was on Highway 34 there outside of Newnan, Georgia, and it wasn’t actually the official Dixie Highway. That’s where we came up with 30, I think I’m 30 miles west of the official highway that runs through Georgia that’s called the Dixie Highway. So, that was just kind of a title that came from looking at the map and figuring out where the Dixie Highway was and all that kind of stuff.”


It’s that time again! The CMA Music Festival begins this week in Nashville, and the stars have come out to perform and check in with their fans!

AUDIO: Alan Jackson, who performs at LP Field on Sunday (June 10th), says he’s still the same guy prior to hitting it big as a country star.

AJ (CMA Music Fest) OC: …the people. :24

“I was always a more regular guy and I worked and wanted cars and boats and going to the lake, and that’s still exactly what I do now. And I’m thinking about writing songs and I’m still doing whatever I have to do. But when I come home, I don’t hardly pick up a guitar. I’m always fooling with cars and boats and family and the same things I’ve always done prior to being a big star, you know? Maybe that’s kept me more connected with the people.”

AUDIO: Darius Rucker is making a couple of appearances during this year’s CMA Music Festival. On Monday (June 4th), he will host his 3rd annual Darius and Friends golf tournament, in addition to his concert at Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon. Proceeds will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Darius Rucker (CMA Music Fest) OC: …awesome. :48

“Music Fest is like nothing else. I say all the time that country music is the only genre that could have something like that. It’s truly amazing, when I come that weekend, people are everywhere and they want to be your best friend. It’s always cool and I love coming here. The thing that always gets me is the show. The fact that you can get that many superstars at one show all playing for free, for the same goal, to entertain those people that are in that stadium that come here for the whole week from all over the world. They come here for one week to see country music, and it’s amazing that those artists say on Friday and Saturday night, this is country music come on out. That’s awesome.”

AUDIO: Dierks Bentley talks about the lengths that fans will go to show their appreciation.

Dierks (fans) OC: …commitment. [laughs] :22

“I know a lot of the early fans by name, because we played a lot of shows at a lot of small venues where we’d be around a lot after the shows. I’m not gonna say her name ‘cause I don’t know if she’d want me to or not, but she has like a dog print of Jake, my dog’s Jake, but she has this dog print on her shoulder with my name in the middle of the tattoo. So, tattoos are always, that’s a big deal when somebody gets your name tattooed on part of their body or something. It’s kind of a scary thing, because it’s kind of a lifelong commitment. [laughs]”

AUDIO: Eric Church, who is poised to hit the top of the country charts in the coming weeks with his current single “Springsteen,” says CMA Music Festival is special and unique to country music.

Eric Church (CMA Music Festival) OC: …of music. :32

“Well, I think it’s what makes country music unique. Find me another format that happens in, it is just not something that happens. I think it’s about what we were talking about earlier; country music is the one format where the fans…the music is really about them, and we’re them; we’re not different than them. We’re not a lot of the rock stars and a lot of the other guys where they’re their own person, they’re their own agenda…they’re not like the people [laughs] that are listening to them. It’s different in country. WE are. We come from there; we are that. I think it’s just a great thing for them to be able to come to our town and to get just this barrage of music.”

AUDIO: Eric Church, who is poised to hit the top of the country charts in the coming weeks with his current single “Springsteen,” says CMA Music

Eric Church (CMA Music Fest) 2 OC: …cool thing. :36

I like it because all year long, we go to their town and we entertain ‘em, and this time of year, they’re coming to mine. I can still sleep in my bed at night and we still get to hang with ‘em all day. And just as an artist, it’s a neat event. It’s a neat thing. And it’s unique to country music. I mean, if you look around at the other formats, they don’t have this – CMA Music Fest, Fan Fair. I think just to have that and to be able to see ‘em, and see the same people every day, and some people schedule their entire year, vacation time and save up money to come and do this. So, to have people do that for country music – not just me personally – but country music, it’s a really, really cool thing.”

AUDIO: Eric Church, who performs at LP Field on Saturday (June 9th), talks about country fans.

Eric Church (country fans) OC: …in that way. :31

“You’re dealing with people that are secure. They want the show to be the good show for the fans. I just like that there is a lot of youth going on…you can throw Zac Brown in there and you can throw Jamey [Johnson] in there. There’s a lot of artists out there now, a lot of males in the format that are coming, males fans that are coming back that we kind of ignored for a while and a lot of youth. We play a lot of colleges and there’s a lot of college fans now and that’s neat, and it’s healthy for the format and I think that’s where the format is going to grow the most, in that way.”

Lady Antebellum’s fan base has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years, and the trio is looking ahead to when many thousands of their fans will flood downtown Nashville for the 41st Annual CMA Music Festival to catch them in action. The group is scheduled to perform at LP Field on Thursday, June 7th in front of a sold-out crowd.

AUDIO: Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott talks about performing at Nashville’s LP Field during the CMA Music Festival. 

Lady Antebellum (Music Fest) 1 OC: …over the world. :14

“The electricity in LP Field every year for that, you can’t really beat it. It’s so much fun to be there, and to have a stadium full of the most die-hard country fans you could ever imagine, from all over the world.”

AUDIO: Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott enjoys performing during the CMA Music Festival. 

Lady Antebellum (Music Fest) 2 OC: …again this year. :18

“We’ve done a fan club party every year, and we feel very strongly that we need to continue. That’s a really great way for us to connect in a more intimate setting with our fans. Country music fans are the best fans in the world.  I know everybody says that, but it’s true. We are really looking forward to hopping on the stage and doing it again this year.”

AUDIO: Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley on why he enjoys the annual CMA Music Festival.  

Lady Antebellum (Music Fest) 3 OC: …really cool. :25

“When you see the same fans, these die-hard fans that camp out outside the radio remotes and the hotels, and all of these places, and you start recognizing them, I think that’s when you start going “Wow, this is a special and unique industry.” You talk to them by name and give them a hug. I can’t think of any other genre that has that kind of connection. The people that come back the same time every year, you know where they are going to be. It’s really kind of a fun thing. It’s really cool.”

AUDIO: Little Big Town will be making several appearances during this year’s CMA Music Festival, including the Eighth Annual CMA Music Festival Kick-Off Parade and the Seventh Annual CMA Music Festival Block Party on Wednesday (June 6th), as well as their performance at LP Field on Saturday (June 9th).

Little Big Town (CMA Music Fest) OC: (Phillip) …the best, man. 1:43

KIMBERLY: “We played at the fairgrounds. I guess it was the last year at the fairgrounds.  We had just gotten our record deal.” PHILLIP: “I remember we were just about to walk out on stage, and we had to play acoustic. I mean there was no backing band.” KIMBERLY: “We were at Mercury.  They wanted us to play before Wynonna sang.” PHILLIP: “I remember, my hair was short and Wynonna walked by and tuffed my hair and was like, ‘Oh that’s cute…cute red hair boy.’ [laugh]  I was like, ‘Oh great.’ Like  little puppy dog, ‘You’re gonna be OK, kid.'” KIMBERLY: “We were nervous.” KAREN: “Oh my gosh, were so nervous. We were so green.” KIMBERLY: “We didn’t have many songs at that point. Maybe three songs, which is what we sang. It was all we knew at the time which is what we had worked up.  Because literally we got our record deal in May, and that was June.” KAREN: “And they were like, ‘Why don’t you guys sing a couple songs?’ And, we’re like, ‘Good, because a couple is what we know.’ That was fun. And then moving form that to the stadium shows, to me that the most fun you can ever have…CMA Fest, Stadium shows. It is an energy unlike anything else. It was over the top and I could just come out of my skin at those moments. KIMBERLY: “Me too.” KAREN: “It’s like you just want to float.” PHILLIP: “And it’s like the best country crowd you could ever compile. Every country fan from all over the world wants to be there.  That’s like the crux of country music awesomeness. I’m telling you it is the best fun.” KAREN: “It’s the best feeling out there.” KIMBERLY: “They let them line up and all come across the stage so you have all these people that are so giddy, crazy giddy, because they get to walk up close to the stage.” PHILLIP: “And they’re waving and their arms are about to fall off. They’re just so excited. It’s the best.”


NASHVILLE – Luke Bryan and The Band Perry’s Kimberly Perry will team up to host the summer’s hottest television music event when the ABC Television Network airs “CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock” on Monday, September 17th (8:00-11:00 PM/ET).

“We have so much fun playing at CMA Music Festival,” said Bryan. “The entire town of Nashville turns into one big party and performing at LP Field becomes one of the best shows we play all year.”

“CMA Music Fest is special to The Band Perry because we love spending time with our fans,” said Perry. “We are excited to be a part of ABC’s coverage of the four-day event, co-hosting the television special.”

Filmed June 7th-10th, many of today’s most exciting Country Music stars will hit the stage during a four-day party and celebration of America’s music. The annual event is unlike any other with 30 hours of autograph signings, 200 hours of live music, 450 artists and celebrities, and a party list of 65,000 avid, singing, dancing-till-dawn fans.

This is the eighth time ABC will broadcast this special – which invites the whole country to America’s biggest Country Music bash. Artists appearing in the television special have not yet been announced.

Artists performing as part of the Nightly Concerts at LP Field during 2012 CMA Music Festival include Lauren Alaina, Jason Aldean, Bill Anderson, The Band Perry, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Glen Campbell, Eric Church, Brantley Gilbert, Hunter Hayes, Faith Hill, Randy Houser, Alan Jackson, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Love and Theft, The Mavericks, Martina McBride, Scotty McCreery, Ronnie Milsap, Kip Moore, David Nail, Jake Owen, Brad Paisley, Kellie Pickler, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Rogers, Gwen Sebastian, Blake Shelton, Steel Magnolia, Carrie Underwood, and Zac Brown Band.

Bryan was nominated for CMA New Artist of the Year in 2010 and 2011. His most recent album is the Platinum-certified tailgates & tanlines, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, and features Platinum-certified digital singles “Country Girl (Shake It for Me)” and “I Don’t Want This Night to End”; and current smash “Drunk on You,” which recently hit 1 million downloads.

Perry is the lead singer of The Band Perry, a family trio with her brothers Reid and Neil. She won her first solo CMA Award in 2011 for Song of the Year for writing “If I Die Young.” The Band Perry won two additional CMA Awards last year including New Artist of the Year and Single of the Year (“If I Die Young”). The group’s Platinum-certified, self-titled debut album features the four-times-Platinum-certified digital single “If I Die Young” and two Gold-certified digital singles “All Your Life” and “You Lie.”

Originally started as Fan Fair® in 1972, the legendary event has featured performances by every major star in the format. What started with 5,000 fans has grown to a daily attendance of more than 65,000 representing every state and 23 foreign countries.

The primetime television special, “CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock,” debuted in 2004 on CBS as a two-hour special highlighting the Festival and Music City. In 2005, the special moved to the ABC Television Network, and expanded to three hours in 2009.

AUDIO: Luke Bryan talks about co-hosting this year’s CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock ABC-TV special.

Luke Bryan (co-hosting CMA Music Fest TV special) OC: …for the fans. :23

“Well, I’m co-hosting CMA Fest with Kimberly Perry, got a performance too. It’s probably going to be my busiest CMA Fest ever, so we’re excited. Last year, I didn’t get the chance to participate in everything, and so this year, I’m coming back with a big bang. It’s going to be a fun time. I’m really excited about hosting, and certainly getting onstage and playing a big show for the fans.”


From CMT.com:

Dierks Bentley‘s father Leon Bentley died Friday (June 1st) in Phoenix at age 88. The singer-songwriter confirmed the death in a Twitter message he sent Saturday morning, noting, “It was an honor to comfort him as he left us. Thank you, fans, for the time and understanding.” A private memorial service is being scheduled. Because of his father’s illness, Bentley had already canceled a Saturday night performance in Washington, D.C., following the Washington Nationals’ baseball game. Following his father’s death, he also canceled Wednesday’s fan club party in Nashville during the CMA Music Festival. A spokesperson told CMT.com Saturday afternoon that Bentley currently plans to resume his performance schedule with a June 9th appearance at the WYCD Downtown Hoedown in Detroit and his June 10th set during the CMA Music Festival’s nightly concert at LP Field in Nashville.

AUDIO: Dierks Bentley says his father was his biggest influence on him.

Dierks (Father’s Day) OC: …for sure. :10

“My dad’s my biggest influence in country music, because my dad loved country radio, so we always drove around listening to country radio — George Strait and Hank Williams and Randy Travis and all those guys. So, without him, I wouldn’t be doing this, for sure.”


Eric Church was unable to perform his scheduled concert in Buffalo, N.Y. on Friday night due to severe weather. The ‘Springsteen’ hitmaker was slated to appear at WYRK’s Taste of Country 2012 concert, where Joe Nichols, Eli Young Band, Casey James and Dustin Lynch performed before him. Unfortunately, the weather became too severe for Church to take the stage come showtime. 

In light of last summer’s fatal stage collapse involving the Sugarland duo, country acts playing festival stages are likely more attentive than ever about playing one-night constructed concert events, such as tonight’s. Following the first four acts, the show was called off due to high wind and rain, but Church was willing to issue a statement to unhappy fans who were sad to miss him this time around. 

“I’m very bummed the show got canceled tonight. I’ve learned in doing this, that some things are out of your hands and this is one of those things,” the singer told the radio station following the event. “I owe the city of Buffalo one, and I intend to make good on that. To everyone out there, thanks for coming and standing in the rain and wind, and we intend to bring it when the time comes.” 

He added, “Again, sorry it happened, and I hope to see you again in the future.” Earlier in the day, Church expressed to Taste of Country that he was eager to take the stage that night. Sometimes, weather doesn’t allow that, and we hope that everyone who attended had a fun time nonetheless.

Video / Eric Church's Taste of Country 2012 Apology




  • Alan Jackson with WUSN/Chicago’s Jeff Kapugi and Marci Braun, as well as UMG Nashville’s Mike Dungan and Steve Hodges.