Archive for August, 2008

A little note…

August 29, 2008

Just wanted to let you guys know I’m heading out of town for the Labor Day weekend. Sorry I haven’t gotten anything up for you this week, but it’s been a busy one. After being out of work last week to go to the fair every night – I’m playing that “catch up” game at the office. Hopefully, I’ll do better with this blog when I get back.

035_35 Hope you all got to stay up late last night and watch Randy Houser on David Letterman. When I saw Randy do his little concert at Winged Deer Park, it was just Randy, a guitar and a microphone. I liked that – It’s going to take me a little while to get used to seeing Randy, back-up singers, and a small army of other musicians. But he’s still great!

Randy said his CD will be released in November, so we cal all look forward to that. I really like that we have so many new ones coming out just before Christmas – stocking stuffers, for sure!

You guys take care, have a great weekend, drop me a line when you have time – and I’ll see you next week.


Back to the news…

August 25, 2008

angela-hacker Since this is an “inbetween Fairs” week, I thought I’d get you caught up on what’s going on right now in country music.

First of all, how many of you remember Angela Hacker, winner of the fifth season of Nashville Star. I liked her, I liked her music. I often visit her MySpace page to listen to songs from her first album, The Winner is Angela Hacker.”  Sadly, Angela has joined the ranks of other Nashville Star winners, Buddy Jewell and Brad Cotter, who are currently without a major record label.

Miranda Our most famous Nashville Star contestant (she didn’t even win the show), is Miranda Lambert. She finished in third place, and shortly after her platinum-selling 2005 debut album, Kerosene, went to the top of the country charts. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend followed Kerosene, and also produced some chart-toppers for Miranda. On Saturday, Aug. 23, Miranda and one of the members of her band were on line in an Xbox Halo3 competition with her fans. She is also Xbox’s artist of the month.

Rascal Flatts fans will enjoy hearing that the group has put together Rascal Flatts Greatest Hits Volume 1. Some of the songs included in this great album include Prayin’ For Daylight; I’m Movin’ On; I Melt; and one of my favorites, Feels like Today. I got to see this group perform a few years back at Freedom Hall in Johnson City, and someone told me I should go again – the guys gets better every day.

 TaylorS I just got my Sept. 6 issue of Country Weekly magazine in the mail. Taylor Swift got the cover, and a story called Lessons I’ve Learned. In the exclusive interview, Taylor talks about family and friends, falling in love and being a role model. It’s a good article. Country Weekly writers always do a great job with their stories.

For fans of Tammy Wynette and Marty Robins, there are a few DVD’s you might want to pick up, or get on your Christmas list this year. They are the first two in a planned series of DVD’s, putting television performances from the entertainers careers on to DVD’s for us to enjoy. I’m definitely a fan of the old country music…and the new… and the stuff in the middle, too.

026_26 I want to thank Country Weekly magazine for seeing in Randy Houser what I saw nearly three months ago. In a brief in the new issue, titled “The Voice of Country’s Future,” CW said “He’s one of country’s newest and brightest!” I couldn’t agree more. His first single, Anything Goes,” is being played on radio stations all over the country.

Don’t forget that Randy will be making his national television debut on Thursday, Aug. 28, on Late Night with David Letterman. It airs on CBS at 11:30 p.m. here in East Tennessee, but please check your local listings for time and network, because you won’t want to miss this one.

That’s all for tonight. Thanks again for reading my chatter… and thank you all for the comments and e-mails you’ve been sending my way. Talk to you real soon!

Last one to leave the Fair, please turn off the lights

August 23, 2008

 Fair Jypsi 202 It’s Saturday night, Aug. 23. The carnival rides are being dismantled and loaded onto tractor trailers; all the animals have left the fair and are home sleeping in their own barns; the concession stands are closed, and you will have to wait until next year for another funnel cake; and we’ve seen our last concert for the 2008 Appalachian Fair… will the last person to leave the fair grounds, please turn off the lights.

Fair Jypsi 102 Closing out the fair this year was the group Jypsi. An absolutely fantastic band, made up of siblings 17-26 – Scarlett, mandolin; Frank, guitar and vocals; Lillie Mae, lead vocals and fiddle; and Amber-Dawn, fiddle and vocals.

I’ve been telling all of my blog readers since June to go and check out Jypsi’s MySpace page. Listen to their music, and give this group a chance. Those of you who listened to that advice were at the fair tonight – enjoying a great show. Those of you who couldn’t make it missed something very special. But I have a feeling it won’t be long until you get a chance to see Jypsi again – in concert somewhere close to you.

Fair Jypsi 126 The kids were even nice enough to play a song I requested, which was not on their play list for tonight’s show. Thanks guys. I just love “Stray Dogs and Alley Cats”.

Their promotional material says the kids are “amazing musicians with head-turning style” – the promotion material is right.

These guys signed autographs and posed for pictures before and after the show, and were nice enough to fit two radio interviews in between their sound check and their supper. I think we’ll be seeing a lot of Jypsi! And I’m glad.

I’ve had six very long days at the Fair, and I think it’s time to post some pictures from tonight’s great concert and call it a night.

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That will do it for tonight I hope you all have a fantastic Sunday. I might take a day or two to rest up here before getting up a new post, but stay with me. I’ll be back real soon with more country news.

Thanks so much for reading. And thank you for all your e-mails and comments. I’ll get back to everyone as soon as I can.
Love you guys,

Chris Young’s night at the Appalachian Fair

August 23, 2008

Fair Chris Young 100 Anyone out there hearing voices tonight? I just heard an awesome voice – and it belongs to Chris Young, tonight’s headliner at the Appalachian Fair in Gray. His new single, “Voices,” is working it’s way up the country charts.

Any of you who don’t know why Chris Young won Nashville Star a few seasons ago, and any of you who didn’t know he has his second top 40 single, should have been at the fair tonight. When Chris stepped out on stage, everyone knew immediately who he is. what he’s done, and where he’s headed.

You really have to give that boy a huge round of applause. Not only did he put on a great show, he gave us our fourth consecutive night of “this is how a country singer should treat their fans”.Fair Chris Young 103

Even though Chris is leaving in the morning on his second annual Chris Young Country Cruise, he made time to sign autographs and pose for pictures with his fans after the show.

Now, it would have been one thing if he were hopping on a waiting private jet and flying to the port for departure, but the man was riding in the bus… I’m not going to try to guess how long it takes to drive from Gray, Tenn. to New Orleans, La., but I sure do hope he got a lot of sleep during that ride.

And, I’m sure he knows how much that extra time with the fans meant to all of them. It’s one thing to stand on stage and sing up a storm, it’s another to reach out and touch the people who came to watch your show. Thank you, Chris!

Fair Chris Young 125 On stage with Chris tonight, we had  band members Shane Shelton, bass; Josh Carter, keyboard; Bo Hendrix, lead guitar; and Kevin Newberry, drums. They were all great, and they looked like the were having a great time, too!

One of the songs Chris sang tonight was done quite a few years ago by the late Keith Whitley, “Don’t Close Your Eyes”. I loved that song, and Chris certainly did a fantastic job with it.

Now, more photos from tonight’s show.

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That’ll wrap things up for this post to Country’s Chatter. I have a few e-mails to send out to fans of their photos with Chris, then I’m going to get some sleep and get ready for Jypsi at tomorrow night’s fair. Hard to believe the Appalachian Fair is coming to a close tomorrow night. But we do have Washington County Fair, Tennessee Valley Fair, Fletcher, N.C., and a few others not too far from here before “fair season” comes to an end for 2008.

I’ve enjoyed meeting a lot of my readers at these concerts, and hope to see you guys again real soon. Please keep in touch. I love your e-mail. Hope you’ll tell your friends about my little “chatter” blog. And Chris, thanks – for a great show… Enjoy your cruise!

Big things do come in little packages

August 22, 2008

Fair Heidi 133 Tonight at the Appalachian Fair in Gray, Tenn., we got a little country, a little bluegrass, a little blues … and it all came out of one little lady. Heidi Newfield was tonight’s entertainment on the Main Stage at the fair. She’s a little bundle of pure energy.

She played guitar, she sang, and she played harmonica. She’s fun to watch, and a very friendly young lady.

Anyone who missed tonight’s show definitely missed a lot.

Fair Heidi 109 Like Jake Owen on Wednesday night, Heidi was kind enough to announce during her show that she would be signing autographs after the show – for everyone who wanted one. I often wonder if our entertainers have any idea how long that line will be when they make that announcement. But true to her word, she signed them all.

I was enjoying the show so much I didn’t even get all of the band members names, when Heidi was introducing them.

Fair Heidi 120 So I owe a huge THANK YOU to acoustic guitarist and vocalist Hollie Poole, who was kind enough to spend a little time with me after the show. She told me who everyone was, what they played, and then she listened while I rambled on and on about anything that jumped in my head. I feel like I should apologize for taking up so much of her time – but she’s neat. And, I really appreciated her doing all that. Here’s a shot of Hollie and Dave LaGrande on keyboard.

The other members of this great band are Gant Kees, drums; Porter McClister, lead guitar and vocals; Johnny Stanton, bass; and Trevor Riley, steel guitar. Fair Heidi 073

As I do every night, it’s time to close this post out with a bunch of photos from tonight’s fantastic show.

This was the first time I’ve seen Heidi perform, since her Trick Pony days. She was fun to watch then, and she’s fun to watch now. If any of you haven’t had the chance to see her show, I hope you will keep an eye on her web site to find out when she is going to be in your neck of the woods. Now … here’s some pictures!

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I think it’s time for me to get some sleep, and get ready for Chris Young at the fair tomorrow night. Thanks again, Heidi, for the great show in Gray tonight. And to the rest of my regular blog readers, I’ll talk to you tomorrow! Write when you can.
Love ya,

Jake Owen – Singer, Entertainer, "People Person"

August 20, 2008

fair Jake Owen 015 We all know that country music has singers, and country music has entertainers. Tonight at the Appalachian Fair in Gray, Tenn., I saw one performer wear both of those hats. Jake Owen does more than sing, he entertains. And he loves what he does.

I got to the fair grounds around 3 p.m. I heard music. Not unusual, I just assumed that they had started the sound check for Jake’s 8 p.m. show. I’ve been around fairs and concerts long enough to know what a sound check is. Sometimes you get one guy running around from one microphone to the next going “testing, testing” …. and sometimes you get a guy on a guitar hitting a note here or there. And sometimes you get the headliner out on stage for 5 or 10 minutes to actually sing a note or two. But let me tell you what I saw when I walked past the Main Stage this afternoon.

fair Jake Owen 057 Jake was on the stage, and so was his band. They weren’t just doing a sound check, they were rehearsing some new material, and actually doing a concert for the 5 or 6 people who were there early enough to see them. Some were sitting inside the stage area; some were standing outside the fence; all of us had cameras – and all of were enjoying what we were seeing. He really loves what he does. You would have thought he was playing to thousands, but he poured everything he had into playing for the 5 or 6 of us, and turned that sound check into a real show.

fair Jake Owen 042 But I learned a lot more about Jake tonight, too. Between that hour (and then some) sound check, and his 8 p.m. concert, Jake came out with us. With the people who worked at the fair, with the people who had exhibits at the fair, with the radio people from WXBQ, and with the fans. He was just there. And so easy to talk to. He is definitely a “people-person.” And, we sure could use a few more of those in country music. Jake even took a few minutes to enjoy a ride around the fair grounds on an ATV. Looking good, Jake!

fair Jake Owen 074 Jake was traveling with his dog Amos, who got out for an unplanned run – fortunately, Chris Crumley, who is on staff at the fair, outran the dog and carried him back to the fenced in back stage area. What a cute little dog… I’m glad he got back safely. When I saw that dog take off, I was really worried that he was gone.

fair Jake Owen 120 Most of Jake’s fans know that he will be celebrating his 27th birthday next week, but since he was here tonight, we decided to give him a little birthday card, and sing Happy Birthday to him on stage. I owe a really huge thank you to Myron Howell, Jake’s drummer, for making that little surprise a reality. You’re a sweetheart, Myron.

And thanks to the other band members, who helped make that absolutely fantastic concert so much fun… David Wallace, guitar; Billy Welch, keyboards; Bryan Dixson, Steel guitar; and Robbie Emerson, bass.

fair Jake Owen 161 Last night, after I wrote about Josh Gracin and his “fan-friendly” show, I didn’t think I’d be doing it again in the same fair week. But Northeast Tennessee has really been blessed to have Josh and Jake at the same fair, two nights in a row. Their music is different, and their shows are different, but they are both entertainers, they both love what they do, and they both appreciate the fans coming out to see them.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words … so, I think we’ll just get a few more of those up here for you all to enjoy.

fair Jake Owen 128 fair Jake Owen 149 fair Jake Owen 104 fair Jake Owen 107 fair Jake Owen 027 fair Jake Owen 140 fair Jake Owen 157
Thanks again, Jake, for coming out to the fair in Gray, and for putting on such a great show for all of you fans. I think this was a performance people will be talking about for a long time. And, you need to hurry back to our area again real soon. We loved having you.

That’ll take care of tonight’s blog. Be sure to check back tomorrow night for some pictures from Heidi Newfield’s Appalachian Fair concert. And keep writing everyone. I love hearing from you, and I really enjoy your mail!
Take care,

Josh Gracin in Gray, TN

August 20, 2008

Fair Josh Gracin 195 Tonight I saw Josh Gracin at the Appalachian Fair in Gray, Tenn. Those of you who know me are aware of how many concerts I attend every year. However, this was my first opportunity to see Josh perform.

People who have seen him previously told me “Josh puts on a good show.” To those people, I have this to say — You are wrong. Josh does not put on a good show…. Fact is, Josh puts on a GREAT show! One of the best I have seen in quite a while.

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Josh remembers what it’s all about. His show is totally “fan friendly.” From the minute he walked out on that stage, we all knew that we were the reason he was in Gray. He even told us that – this was his hour and a half to sing to us, to help us smile, laugh, and forget about any problems that we might have going on in our world right now. He just made you want to run up there and invite him and his whole family to your house for Sunday dinner.

These two young ladies were with Green Spring Marine, who sponsored tonight’s concert.

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Josh tossed tee-shirts out to the crowd, joined his drummer, Kevin Murphy, in a drum duet, and then tossed the drumsticks out to the waiting hands of two fans. And, he stayed to sign autographs after the concert. I know he was tired, I know he has a hectic schedule, but he still stayed there – for his fans.  His fan-friendly concert included an encore, where he quietly slipped off stage, changed his shirt, put on a ball cap, and emerged in the middle of the bleachers where he started singing to several very surprised young ladies. No one even noticed him climbing up into the bleachers, as his band members continued playing on stage.

Fair Josh Gracin 068 In addition to Kevin Murphy on drums, band members are Mike Meadows, Guitar; Shawn Balin, fiddle; Tony Lopacinski, guitar; and Tripper Lyger, who I believe was guitar and mandolin. Hope someone will correct me if I got any of that wrong. It’s kind of hard to write when all you want to do is sit back and enjoy the show.

Someone told me once that one true yardstick for measuring a successful show is this – Did you leave them wanting more? Josh, I believe we all wanted more. And, I know that if you were playing in Gray again tomorrow night, I would be right there, Section B, Row 7, Seat 1.

Fair Josh Gracin 110 Josh Gracin really gets it. He is one of those entertainers who truly knows that at every performance, there is at least one person in the audience who had to save their money to come and watch him sing. And sing, he did. Thanks Josh, for one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. I hope I get to do it again real soon. I’ll close this out with just a few more photos from tonight’s concert.

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I wish I had room to put up all of the 200 photos from tonight’s show, but we all know that isn’t possible. Rest assured, you will be seeing more of them in future posts here on Country’s Chatter. Check back tomorrow to see photos from Jake Owen’s night at the Appalachian Fair.

Keep in touch everyone. I love hearing from you all! And Josh, you just keep doing what you’re doing. It was awesome!

One down… Five to go

August 18, 2008

Fair Tracy 056 Tracy Lawrence opened this year’s Appalachian Fair in Gray, TN, with a performance to a sold out crowd.

He sang some of his old songs, some of his newer ones, and every one of them was a real crowd pleaser.

Two of my favorites, “Paint Me a Birmingham,” and “Texas Tornado,” were in his list for tonight’s show.

Fair Tracy 078 - Copy Tracy’s band is made up of band leader Joe Caverlee on fiddle; Dennis Parker, acoustic guitar; Steve Poole, piano; Loren Nelson, steel guitar; Pat Lassiter, bass guirar; Darin Favorite, Lead Guitar; and Greg Stocki, drums.

There’s probably not a lot about Tracy Lawrence that I could tell you, that you don’t already know. So I think I’ll just put a few more photos up here for you all to enjoy.

Fair Tracy 011 - Copy Wiseman’s Clothing and Johnny’s Shoes sponsored tonght’s concert. Here’s a photo of Denise, representing Wiseman’s, with Tracy.

Some of the photos below are of the band members, the audience at tonight’s show, and of course – More Tracy.

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Tracy will be in Nashville tomorrow for a Fair in that area; and in a few days he’s off to Alaska, where he said he will be taking time out from appearances to do a little 4-wheeling on a glacier. Sounds exciting.

That’s it for tonight, check back tomorrow for fair photos of Josh Gracin. Write when you can, everyone, it’s always great hearing from you!

Getting ready for the Appalachian Fair

August 16, 2008

Fair preview 001 The Appalachian Fair begins on Monday, Aug. 18, but earlier tonight I had the opportunity to visit the fair gounds in Gray, Tenn. The fair staff, along with invited guests and representatives from area newspapers, spent the evening eating, talking, and finding out what was in store for us at this year’s fair.

Fair preview 004 - Copy Sherry Shadden and two of her grandchildren were on hand for the festivities. Sherry works in the fair office, and is married to Richard Shadden, executive director for the Appalachian Fair.

The museum at the fairgrounds was open for us to tour this evening. It’s full of old carriages, furniture, store fronts, farm equipment, and other antiques. It will be open during the fair for everyone to enjoy.

There is so much to do at the Appalachian Fair! Going through the exhibits, seeing all the animals, riding the rides, and enjoying the entertainment keeps everyone busy when they visit Gray.

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Here are a few pictures of the midway, with the amusement rides by Drew Exposition ready to go on Monday night! And those two on the right are the main stage … this is the last time this week you will see all those seats empty and the stage unlit.

And – here’s your entertainment schedule, one more time. Monday, Tracy Lawrence; Tuesday, Josh Gracin; Wednesday, Jake Owen; Thursday, Heidi Newfield; Friday, Chris Young; and Saturday, Jypsi.

Thanks, Richard and Sherry Shadden, and all of the staff at the Appalachian Fair, for bringing us such a fantastic event every year.

Check back next week for photos from the Fair. And when you get a chance, drop me a line. Thanks for reading!

Raising money for kids… concert info… and more

August 15, 2008

395580-R1-11-13A_012 LeeAnn Rimes, Keith Urban, Dolly Parton, Josh Turner, Carrie Underwood, and other entertainers, have all donated personal items to an online auction. The proceeds form the auction will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

In addition to one of Keith’s old T-shirts, bidders will get to make offers on autographed shirts, their favorite artists’ memorabilia, and even a pair of boots worn by Dwight Yoakam.

St. Jude is a charity that is very near and dear to my heart,” Keith said. “Our fans have always graciously offered their support in past fund raisers we have done for St. Jude, so I think this auction will be a great success”.

To find the online auction, go to and while you’re there, just about any of those items would make a great Christmas present … for me, perhaps. *smiling*

LadyAConcert 021 Jason Aldean and Lady Antebellum did a few concerts together early this spring, including one in Bristol, TN, which I went to and it was great! They are now teaming up again to be part of “CMT On Tour.” The tour will begin at Western North Carolina University on Oct. 8, and finish up on Nov. 22 in Bangor, Maine.

And, Eric Durrance, who opened for Lady A in Bristol, will be opening for them again on the CMT Tour. The tour is scheduled to hit 20 different college towns (Hey! We’re a college town!)… For a complete tour schedule, go to  If these guys get anywhere near you , You will definitely want to go see them!

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We’re still waiting for to hear Eric Durrance on the radio, but anyone who has seen him in concert knows it provably won’t be long until we do. He put was a great opening act for Lady Antebellum back in May, and it seems the Country Music Television people think so, too.

DBently Our country favorites all seem to be doing their part in rising money for their favorite charity. Dierks Bently is again hosting Miles & Music for Kids, a celebrity motorcycle ride and concert in Nashville this October.

The event has raised more than $250,000 in the past two years, with all the proceeds going to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. The hour-long ride through Nashville begins at 2 p.m. at the Harley Davidson of Cool Springs, and ends at Riverfront Park. Following the ride, a concert is held at the park featuring Dierks, Tim McGraw, John Rich, and many other performers.

Concert tickets are $20, and the donation to participate in the ride is $50 – which not only gets you into the ride, and the concert, but also gets you a commemorative T-shirt.

Tracy Lawrence 1 Everyone in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia ready for the Appalachian Fair? Monday is the night! Tracey Lawrence will be there, and so will I! I hope to see you there, too.

Thanks for reading! Remember to drop me a line whenever you have the chance. It’s nice to get mail from nice people like you.