Leesa Mitchell scoops out the biggest and best nuggets on Big Cat 105.5.
Dierks Bentley is 39.
Josh Turner is 37.
It's been a while, but Garth Brooks is back at number one. Billboard.com says the country superstar's new release, "Man Against Machine," captured the top spot on the Country Albums chart. Officially, 130-thousand copies of the disc were sold in its debut week. But that figure doesn't include sales through GhostTunes, the album's only digital outlet, since they weren't reported to SoundScan. "Man Against Machine" become Brooks' eighth consecutive non-holiday studio album to top the Country Albums chart. Only his self-titled debut has failed to go to number one, peaking at number two. Garth's 1989 effort was held back by Clint Black's multi-week number one, "Killin' Time." "Man Against Machine" is opening on the Billboard 200 at number four. Taylor Swift's "1989" is holding on to the number one spot on the all-genre list for a third consecutive week.
Hunter Hayes won't be performing in St. Louis Thursday night as originally planned. The country star has canceled his concert at Chaifetz [[ shay-fetz ]] Arena in light of the declared state of emergency. He doesn't intend to schedule a make-good, and tickets will be refunded. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared the state of emergency in anticipation of potential violence when a controversial grand jury decision is released. Jurors are weighing whether to bring criminal charges against a Ferguson police officer who killed an unarmed black teenager in August, sparking protests and riots.
Hunter is on his "Tattoo (Your Name) Tour," which also features Dan + Shay and The Railers. Their next show will be in Chicago Friday night.
The Band Perry's Kimberly Perry admits there are many special things about performing in front of an audience. But the country star says there's nothing better than hearing the crowd singing along. Kimberly's brother and bandmate, Reid Perry, adds that the audience participation is informative as well. He explains that they've gauged their growth by looking at both the size of the crowds and the percentage of fans who are really engaged and singing along.
Darius Rucker is currently on the European portion of his "True Believers" tour. He's already made stops in the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain, and will launch the UK portion of the trek with a show in London on Tuesday. He'll wrap up the tour this weekend with concerts in Scotland and Ireland. Darius Rucker admits his European tours aren't just fun but also educational experiences. The singer says each country has a very rich history, which he likes to explore.
Randy Owen says he's not pleased at the low number of true bands in country music. The Alabama frontman tells "Country Weekly" he'd like to see more ensembles who play all their instruments and write most of their material. He says country music is currently in "an era of individual acts," and as a result "everything is starting to sound the same" and "the music doesn't have any soul." But Randy admits being a band made it tough for Alabama at the start, and they were "turned down by everyone for a while." He says label execs would tell them country fans "weren't going to accept a band" because "that was too rock 'n' roll." However, Owen says "the young people really latched on," and then "other audiences came around." He adds that he believes fans of all ages "liked the authenticity" of what the group was doing.
Rascal Flatts are headed to Las Vegas. The band has announced an extended run at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, becoming the first country group to book a residency at the venue. Jay DeMarcus says he and his bandmates are "so excited to do something so different" for them. He adds that they're "thrilled to be playing such a storied venue." Jay also promises that audiences "will experience Rascal Flatts" in a way they never have before," and "It's going to rock."
The "Rascal Flatts Vegas Riot!" will get under way on February 25th. The band will play nine shows over two-and-a-half-weeks, wrapping up the run on March 14th. Tickets go on sale this Friday.
Garth Brooks is receiving special acknowledgment for his work. He's among a select group of artists being honored at the ASCAP Centennial Awards, taking place in New York City Monday night. The "once-in-a-century" prize recognizes the stars for their '"incomparable accomplishments" in music. The five recipients also include Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel as well as Joan Baez and Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim. The gala will include the award presentations and tribute performances for the honorees. The ASCAP Centennial Awards also mark the 100th anniversary of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Trisha Yearwood admits now that her new album, "PrizeFighter," is arriving in stores she's a little anxious about sales and reviews. But the country star says those things weren't really on her mind as she was recording the disc.
Yearwood's current single, the Kelly Clarkson collaboration "PrizeFighter," serves as the title track to the album. It's one of six fresh tracks on "PrizeFighter: Hit After Hit," which mixes new tunes with past favorites like "She's In Love With The Boy," "XXX's and OOO's," "Wrong Side of Memphis," and others. It's Trisha's first release to feature new studio music since 2007's "Heaven, Heartache, and the Power of Love." "PrizeFighter: Hit After Hit" arrives in stores Monday.
A couple of country stars have new holiday albums in stores. Sara Evans' "At Christmas" features the singer's renditions of such classics as "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Silent Night," and "O Holy Night." There's only one original song in the ten-track collection -- the disc's title cut. The Henningsens included a couple of new songs on their seasonal effort. The country trio's "Our Family Christmas" is primarily filled with standards, like "Holly Jolly Christmas," "White Christmas," and "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." Former "American Idol" finalist Janelle Arthur adds her voice to "Silent Night." Jerrod Niemann contributes to one of the original tracks, "Christmas Kissin'."
Trace Adkins is once again spreading some holiday cheer on "The Christmas Tour." The country star's trek features material from his 2013 seasonal effort, "The King's Gift." And he's feeling better about the trek on his second time around. Following his inaugural run last winter, Trace tells "Country Weekly" he knows "what to expect." He admits he was "very anxious about it" last year, because it's "almost like a one-man play as opposed to a straight-up concert." He admits he was "a little apprehensive not knowing how it would come across" and if he "would be able to do this night after night after night." But now that he knows what he's in for, Trace believes this year "will be a little smoother." Adkins launched "The Christmas Tour" in West Point, New York Friday night, and performed in Massachusetts over the weekend. His next show will be in New Brunswick, New Jersey on Tuesday.
Adkins will play six more shows before taking a short break for Thanksgiving. He'll resume the trek right after the holiday with shows throughout the Midwest and Southern U.S. The run includes a two-night stand in Nashville on December 11th and 12th. Trace will end the tour in Clearwater, Florida on December 21st.
Country newcomer Sam Hunt will be making some adjustments to his upcoming tour. Tickets for 15 of the 19 dates on his "Lipstick Graffiti" trek sold out within minutes of going on sale. As a result, the singer is looking into moving some shows into larger venues, and possibly adding a second night in select cities. Sam's "Lipstick Graffiti" tour is in support of his debut album, "Montevallo." The disc features the chart-topping hit "Leave The Night On," which has already been certified Platinum. Sam will launch the tour in West Hollywood, California on January 29th. Native Run and Michael Ray are also on board as openers.
Kip Moore admits it's great to be on stage and watch crowds having fun. But the country star says his favorite concert moments are when he reaches an audience member on an emotional level.
Kip adds that there's a mutual appreciation between him and his listeners, but he might be the only one who's aware of it. He explains that fans will often tell him how much his music means to them, and "they have no idea how much" they mean to him. The singer says he believes he and his fans "breathe life into each other," which is "the coolest thing" to him. Kip is currently on the road headlining the "CMT On Tour 2014: Up in Smoke" trek. His next show is coming up in Sayreville, New Jersey on Thursday.
Kenny Chesney admits his concept for his career took a turn a few years ago. The country star tells "Billboard" that as he was working on his 2010 effort, "Hemingway's Whiskey," he was no longer "OK just to be the guy on the beach." He says he decided to get more introspective with his music, and used stars like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty as his role models. This transformation also led to him scaling back on his touring. He says at the time he felt like he was "making music on a conveyor belt," and he needed to get off it. Chesney admits skipping a summer tour was tough, but also "the smartest thing" he could have done. He adds that it's important to him to spend more time on his music. Kenny explains that at this point in his career he "can't just put together a collection of songs that may sound great but don't mean anything to anybody."
Chesney will return to the road in 2015, in a year that will be packed with r country acts. In addition to stars like Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line there's also Garth Brooks -- who's setting ticket sales records along the way. But Chesney says he's "proud" of those artists who are a little younger than he is, and he's not worried about going up against Brooks. Kenny will launch his "The Big Revival" tour in Nashville on his 47th birthday -- March 26th.
Tanya Tucker admits she's saved things "like a pack rat." But the country star tells "Rolling Stone" she's also lost much of the memorabilia she's collected over the years, including a watch and "a beautiful ring" Glen Campbell gave her. But one of the things she has managed to keep is a little record player she says she's had since she was nine years old. The turntable has a history. Tanya was still a teenager when she met George Jones and said she had a song he just had to hear. She recalls her mom was amazed when the country legend showed up at the door. Tucker, meanwhile, says she used this record player to introduce George to James Taylor's "Bartender's Blues," which became the hit title track to Jones' 1978 album.
But Tanya isn't exactly proud of everything in the exhibit. She describes the Tanya Tucker salsa as "defective." She explains that the company she worked with "changed" her recipe. The singer admits she was working with "the wrong people" on the idea. Tanya explains that they "wanted cheap, cheap, cheap," while her goal was to create "a beautiful product in a beautiful jar." The exhibit also features stage costumes, her custom pink Harley Davidson motorcycle, and other memorabilia. "Tanya Tucker: Strong Enough to Bend" will be open at Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum through May 2015.
Josh Turner fans can now find his book when they dine out at Cracker Barrel. The restaurant and retail store is now carrying "Man Stuff." Turner says his goal with the book isn't to be preachy but to simply share some wisdom he's gained throughout his life. Turner recalls his childhood in some anecdotes, while others stem from his experiences as a husband, a father, a friend, and a country music star. Turner adds that he's thrilled to be extending his partnership with Cracker Barrel through "Man Stuff." Over the years Josh has released two live albums exclusively through the company, which has previously served as one of his tour sponsors.