Dave Marsh

Hi, I'm Dave Marsh-Program Director and host of "The Ride" home weekday afternoons 3-7p on 104.5 WFMB.

Here's just a little bit about me.  I grew up in a tiny little town in Central Wisconsin.  Got my degree in Broadcast Journalism at UW-River Falls and have been doing radio in some way shape or form since 1977.  I've lived in a variety of locations including Colorado Springs, Lincoln, NE and near Madison, WI.  I love radio as a career and the contact we have with the artists.  
Hobbies include:  Fishing, motorcycles (when I can borrow one), outdoor activities, gardening, landscaping and yard work.
Musical choices:  Everything from George Strait to Pink Floyd.  Love most kinds of music.
TV:  24, Fringe, House, SciFi-Star Trek and a steady diet of NatGeo, History, Discovery and Science Channels
Sports:  Packers, Brewers, Bucks--but I have a healthy respect for the Cardinals

I love hearing from our wayward listeners on line at wfmb.com.  Shoot me an email and let me know where you are.


Studio: 217-525-9362
email:  davemarsh@wfmb.com
Posts from April 2011

CMT Awards-Blake/Miranda-Miss Willie Brow Hijinx
» The Secret To Darius' Success: Darius Rucker was in an Empire State of mind this week during a New York media swing. During Monday's (4/25) Today show, Rucker plugged and performed his latest hit " This" and discussed how parenting influences his music. "Being a father changes everything about you," Rucker said. "With my country career I couldn't have written any of [these] songs if I wasn't a dad." That same day, Rucker performed " I Don't Care" with a cowboy-hat-wearing Jimmy Fallon on Late Night. Tuesday (4/26), Rucker headlined the Housing Works  Live From Home performance series, which raised more than $18,000 to battle homelessness and AIDS. This weekend, Rucker will trade the Big Apple's cement jungle for a Southern California campground at Indio, CA's Stagecoach 2011 festival, which will also feature headliners Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts and Carrie Underwood. Details  here.

» Vid To Win: Jason Aldean leads nominees for the 2011 CMT Music Awards. "Found out today we are nominated for four CMT awards," he tweeted Wednesday (4/27). "Pretty awesome way to start the day. Thanks to all my peeps out there." Aldean is up for Video, Male and the inaugural Best Web Video of the Year for "My Kinda Party." His "Don't You Wanna Stay" with Kelly Clarkson is nominated for Collaborative Video. Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Rascal Flatts, Taylor Swift and Zac Brown Band follow with three each. Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney, Reba, Sugarland and Sheryl Crow are among the other nominees. The USA Weekend Breakthrough Video nominees were revealed Monday (4/25). View Wednesday morning's Today show announcement featuring Top 20 Countdown's Evan Farmer and the Band Perry here. Voting to determine the winners is underway at CMT.com through June 7, and the CMTMAs air live from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena June 8.

» Tequila On A Road Trip? Fresh off his latest No. 1 hit "Live A Little," Kenny Chesney has released a new single that's been one of his favorite driving songs since 2007. "After the tour [that year], I rented a house in Malibu, CA right on the cliff of the ocean, and I would drive up the Pacific Coast Highway right at sunset," Chesney recalls. "I'd roll down the windows and I would just listen to music." Joining him on the recording is rocker Grace Potter, whose country connections also include playing VH1 Divas with Jennifer Nettles. "I love [Grace's] singing and love her records," Chesney says. "I didn't know her, but I got in touch with her, played her the song, and literally three days later she was in Nashville and we cut it. Still, every time I hear the song, I go straight to driving up the PCH at sunset." 

» Relief Pitchers: Oklahoma natives Reba and Blake Shelton are staging a May 26 Tornado Relief Concert benefiting the Tushka Disaster Relief Fund, which supports Atoka County recovery efforts. Tornadoes and severe storms caused approximately $500,000 in damage in the area and destroyed several residences, government buildings and businesses. "A lot of people lost a great deal in this disaster, and it's particularly close to us because we both consider Oklahoma home," Reba said. "We wanted to do something and let the people in Oklahoma know that we love them and we're praying for them during this difficult tragedy." Make a one-time $10 donation by texting "OKGIVE" to 27722, or donate directly to the Tushka Disaster Relief Fund at 101 SE 1st St., Tushka, OK 74525. More here.

» Independence Play: Willie Nelson's Country Throwdown Tour 2011 will wrap with Nelson's 4th of July Picnic & Throwdown at Billy Bob's Texas in Ft. Worth. David Allan Coe and Ray Price are among the legendary performers joining the tour for its final stop. "Willie Nelson's 4th of July Picnic is a longstanding tradition, and we're thrilled to be a part of it," Throwdown organizer Kevin Lyman says. "We couldn't think of a better way to end this tour than by bringing together the legendary picnic talent with the big-name artists performing throughout the Country Throwdown Tour." The tour's performers include Jamey Johnson, Randy Houser, Lee Brice and Craig Campbell. More here.

» Wrap And Country: Dierks Bentley may be regretting his choice of tour openers. Newcomers Miss Willie Brown initiated the Jägermeister Tour pranks, claiming Bentley's Jeep as their first victim. "Before [Dierks] gets us real bad, we thought we'd get one in and then go running for the hills," laughs the duo's Kasey Buckley. Their attempt to enlist tourmate Josh Thompson fell short. "I told them ‘Hell, no,'" Thompson says. "They are on their own for this one." Cue the plastic wrap  here.

» Apprentice – Here For The Party? John Rich previews the next episode of Celebrity Apprentice: "They're actually calling it 'The Wrath of Nene' and that's a pretty good title," Rich tells us. "It gets so out of hand, Star Jones actually calls in her own personal security to follow her around and keep her out of harm's way." And it's all building up to the May 22 finale, airing live from New York. All this season's contestants are expected to return. "They may even let Richard Hatch out of jail to be there," Rich says. "At least, that's what I've heard." The Celebrity Apprentice airs Sunday (5/1) on NBC-TV. View all the weekend TV listings below.

» In Case You Missed It: During Tuesday night's (4/26) premiere of The Voice, Blake Shelton persuaded 20-year-old Patrick Thomas, 16-year-old Xenia Martinez and married couple Elenowen to join his eight-artist team. Thomas performed "Live Like You Were Dying," Elenowen performed "Falling Slowly" and Martinez sang "Break Even." Watch the full episode here. Tim McGraw performed "Better Than I Used To Be" on Wednesday's (4/27) The View.

»Hit List
  • As the date draws near, Miranda Lambert is all a-Twitter with last-minute wedding plans. But they're not over her May 14 nuptials with fiancé Blake Shelton. "Starting the countdown to the royal wedding," Lambert tweets. "And even though I have a show, I will be up at 5am to watch every second of it!"
  • People magazine has all the inside scoop on LeAnn Rimes' and Eddie Cibrian's surprise nuptials. The official photos from the ceremony will be published in Friday's (4/29) issue. Get a sneak peek here.
  • Newcomers the Dirt Drifters are offering a free download of their debut single "Something Better" to fans who post the video's widget to their website. The video includes footage of guitarist Jeff Middleton breaking his arm at the 2:35-minute mark. Access the widget at TheDirtDrifters.com.


Willie Nelson (4/30)
Tim McGraw (5/1)
Ty Herndon (5/1)
Eric Church (5/3)
Randy Travis (5/4)

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The Voice ---of Blake

» Blake Saddled Up & Blazing: Cue the Red Bull and hold the vodka because Blake Shelton has his work cut out for him over the next two weeks. Shelton's busy schedule opened Monday (4/25) with the announcement of his ninth album, which streets July 12 and features the single "Honey Bee." "There are so many things I'm excited to share with everyone this year," Shelton says. "I can't wait for people to hear the record; I have found some of the best songs of my career." The buzz surrounding NBC-TV's The Voice also has Shelton going "Crazy" with the rest of the judging panel in this sneak peek of Tuesday's premiere (4/26, 9pm ET). Additionally, Shelton is hosting an invitation-only Nashville bash Thursday (4/28) celebrating his No. 1 hit "Who Are You When I'm Not Looking." And let's not forget the royal wedding ... country royalty, anyway, May 14 as Blake and fiancée Miranda Lambert get hitched. (That's how they say it in Jolly Old England, right?)

» The Need For Bleed: It's been a long time since Ronnie Dunn's been on an album cover by himself. Long as in never. Now flying solo on the front of his upcoming album (pictured), Dunn is also the collection's driving songwriting force with credit on nine of 12 songs. The self-titled release won't be in stores until June 7, but it is available for pre-order  here. First single "Bleed Red" is already climbing the charts and the video is now available for download, as well. And it will soon have company. Dunn says he's "attempting something in the field of videos that hasn't been done in our business to coincide with the release of the physical CD. I am producing a series of videos to go with the majority of the songs. So far, I have finished five, with a 12-minute 'Making Of Ronnie Dunn' clip that can be seen here." 

» Nom Like Crazy: Lee Brice's "Love Like Crazy," Aaron Lewis' "Country Boy," Jerrod Niemann's "Lover, Lover," the Band Perry's "If I Die Young" and Thompson Square's "Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not" are the early 2011 CMT Music Awards nominees. The five videos are up for the CMTMAs' USA Weekend Breakthrough Video Of The Year. CMT Top 20 Countdown's Evan Farmer will reveal the remaining categories during the 10am ET hour of Wednesday's (4/27) Today show on NBC-TV, and TBP will also perform "You Lie" during the broadcast. Voting for all categories opens following the announcement at CMT.com. More here.

» Rockin' Y'all: Faith Hill, Loretta Lynn, Brenda Lee and Taylor Swift are among the more than 70 female artists featured in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's exhibit Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power. Items on display include a 1964 telegram from Dusty Springfield to Lee, Hill's Versace outfit worn during CBS-TV's 2000 Thanksgiving special, Lynn's pink gown worn during the "Portland, Oregon" video and Swift's handwritten "Change" lyrics. The two-floor exhibition opens May 13 and demonstrates how women have influenced popular music from the early 20th century to the present. More here.

» Apprentice – Lesser Of Two Evils: The three-man Backbone team had their hands full against the five women of ASAP, as Sunday's episode of the Celebrity Apprentice (4/24) found them designing full-page advertising packages for Trump Hotels. The results were disastrous, as both projects were judged to be far off the mark. "You know that if you misspell one word, they're going to nail you with it," Backbone Project Manager John Rich tells us. "Then we forgot to put the website address in the ad. The whole show could have turned on that, and if we'd lost, Trump would have asked whose responsibility it was to make sure the website was on the ad. Meatloaf, Lil Jon and I would have been looking at each other like, 'Uh-oh.' Instead, we won and I got to put another $20,000 toward St. Jude. That puts my total to $670,000." 

» Doors Wide Open: Jo Dee Messina has independently released "Carry On" through the A Million Doors campaign, which will fund the construction of a new schoolhouse for Nashville's Holy Trinity Montessori. The track is available for a $1 donation, with songwriter Jared Anderson waiving his publishing royalties so all proceeds can go toward the project. Roughly $2,500 has been raised, with $2.3 million needed for the 6,000-square-foot facility. Download and details  here.

» Wedding Belle: Best wishes to newlyweds LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian, who tied the knot Friday (4/22) during a private Los Angeles ceremony. Rimes tweeted Saturday (4/23), "Eddie and I are overwhelmed by the amount of lovely well-wishes. We are blessed, and I'm Mrs. Cibrian! [It's] so wonderful to wake up as husband and wife. Love to all of you."

»Hit List
  • Fan Wanda Couturier  got to meet Reba backstage in Louisville recently. The star's record label arranged the meet-and-greet to mark Couturier's attendance of more than 100 shows. Couturier also boasts seeing Reba live 33 times within a single year and breaking the Today show record for standing in line the longest to see her during the telecast.
  • The release for Brad Paisley's This Is Country Music has been advanced one day from its original street date. The 15-track album will now hit stores Monday (5/23).
  • Steel Magnolia have launched a weekly online performance series in which they will cover the top song in America. First up is the duo's version of Adele's "Rolling In The Deep." Watch here.


Rory Feek (Joey+Rory) (4/25)
Jay DeMarcus (Rascal Flatts) (4/26)
Willie Nelson (4/30)
Tim McGraw (5/1)
Ty Herndon (5/1)
Eric Church (5/3)
Randy Travis (5/4)


Tuesday (4/26): Blake Shelton, The Voice (NBC).

Wednesday (4/27): Evan Farmer and the Band Perry announce the 2011 CMT Music Awards' Nominees, Today (NBC); Emmylou Harris, Late Show With David Letterman (CBS); Alison Krauss and Union Station, Ellen DeGeneres Show (syndicated); Tim McGraw, The View (ABC).

Thursday (4/28): Tim McGraw, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (NBC).

Friday (4/29): Steve Earle, Late Show With David Letterman (CBS).

In Stores Tuesday (4/26)

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 Toby Soldiers On: Toby Keith waved the flag extra high this week with the launch of his ninth USO military entertainment tour and a two-song performance during Tuesday's (4/19) American-themed Dancing With The Stars. Backstage, DWTS contestants Kendra Wilkinson and Kirstie Alley were all a-Twitter over the Big Dog Daddy, who rocked " Should've Been A Cowboy" and " American Soldier." Wilkinson posted, "Just met [Toby Keith] So cool! Now I want to drink some tequila!" Alley quipped, "Save a horse ... ride a cowboy." Post-show, Keith hopped a plane to the Middle East, where he's playing military bases across three countries in 12 days. Specific USO date details are being kept under wraps for security reasons, but you can follow Keith and all the behind-the-scenes action in real time @TobyKeithMusic.

» Brings My Whole World To A Stop: Thanks to an anonymous bidder, the Kansas Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's 2011 Girl of the Year Carrington Walker scored the Kenny Chesney concert experience of a lifetime. According to KWCH-TV, Walker's mother was bidding on tickets to the Goin' Coastal Wichita show, but was outbid by an unidentified person, who then donated the tickets to Carrington. Luck followed Carrington and her aunt Therese O'Neal to their seats, where they were upgraded passes to the pit area. "Just as we lifted Carrington up onto our shoulders, Kenny turned around, pointed to her and just started walking over to her," O'Neal says. Pulled onstage, Carrington was serenaded with "Summertime." "I was so moved by all the people who reached out to help us that night," O'Neal says. "They didn't know Carrington was sick. Kenny didn't know she's sick. No one there knew." Read the heart-warming story and see video here.

» Her Story: LeAnn Rimes will set the record straight on her career and personal life Sunday (4/24) during GAC's Backstory: LeAnn Rimes, which documents Rimes' tumultuous rise to prominence in the media spotlight. The 90-minute special will include candid interviews with Rimes, her childhood friend Steve Holy, confidant and agent Rod Essig, fellow songwriter Darrell Brown and label head Mike Curb. "From the time I was 14 to 16-and-a-half, I did 500 shows," Rimes says. "I was worn out, I was done." Rimes also discusses coming into her own as a woman in the industry. Backstory: LeAnn Rimes premieres Sunday at 8pm ET on GAC with a sneak peek here. Weekend TV listings below.

» Down By The Riverside: Gary Allan, Darryl Worley, Phil VassarBilly Ray Cyrus and Terri Clark are among the 2011 CMA Music Festival's lineup of performers at the Chevrolet Riverfront stage, which is free and open to the public. Allan will kick off the daily concerts at 10am Thursday (6/9). Details here.

» Pushing The Envelope: The Band Perry and CMT Top 20 Countdown host Evan Farmer will reveal the 2011 CMT Music Awards nominees during the 10am ET hour of NBC-TV's Today next Wednesday (4/27). TBP will also perform "You Lie" during the broadcast. Voting at CMT.com will open following the announcement, and a preview of the USA Weekend Breakthrough Video Of The Year noms will be posted Monday (4/25) at 10am ET on usaweekend.com. The CMTMAs air live from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena June 8. More here.

» Starring Friday: The Academy of Country Music's Girls' Night Out: Superstar Women Of Country is a great reason to stay in Friday (4/22). The special celebrates Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Reba, the Judds, Loretta Lynn, Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles and Martina McBride and airs at 9pm ET on CBS-TV.

» English Comp With Prof. Bentley: Dierks Bentley is featured in a photo spread and is a guest columnist in Esquire's music issue, which hits newsstands Tuesday (4/26). In the piece "How To Write A Song (For A Woman)," Bentley advises, "Avoid the generic. The only reason Justin Bieber can get away with a whole chorus that uses only the words 'baby' and 'ooh' is because he's Justin Bieber. Specificity and originality beats cliché every time." Read more here and download Bentley's "Line No. 7" as part of the mag's exclusive Detroit-inspired, five-track iTunes EP here. Proceeds benefit Motor City's Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

» Health Like Mine: Miranda Lambert is Health magazine's May cover girl. In the issue, which hits Friday (4/22), she discusses growing up on a farm, staying in shape on the road and slaughtering her dinner as a child. "Dad would give us two rabbits as our pets, or we'd have one pig we could name," Lambert says. "They explained that not every animal was a pet — some were providing for our family. It sounds weird to other people, but I look at it like, there are some animals you feed and some animals that feed you." Q&A here.

» Teach Your Children Well: Little Big Town took time before their Music City concert Saturday (4/16) to deliver a guarantee of 2,000 music lessons for Nashville youth, reflecting their Drive 4 The Music partnership with Country Financial. Through the campaign's Facebook page, LBT and Country Financial match every "Like" with a donation to a local youth music program. Unrelated, LBT generated online buzz this week by covering Lady Gaga's "Born This Way." Watch here.

» Wall Bling: Congrats to Taylor Swift, who has topped the RIAA song certification race over Lady Gaga with 22.5 million career digital single sales to date. The tally includes March certifications for "You Belong With Me" (three million), as well as platinum nods (one million each) for "Fifteen," "Back To December" and "Forever & Always." Additionally, Jaron And The Long Road To Love's "Pray For You" has been certified platinum, and Eric Church's "Smoke A Little Smoke," gold (500,000).

» Me And Jennifer Down By The School Yard: Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles has launched the "Jennifer Nettles Presents The Attic Community Playground Online Auction" via Charity Buzz. Meet-and-greet experiences with Kenny Chesney, Martina McBride, Reba, Sugarland, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock and Katy Perry are available through May 11, with proceeds benefiting the Playground, which provides music education opportunities for children. "Art programs within schools — band, chorus, drama and art — continue to be cut," Nettles says. "This is an extremely sad fact not only because I enjoy a career in the arts, but I enjoyed and benefited from studying the performing arts as a kid. ACP hopes to help provide students with opportunities for experiencing and studying the arts so they can develop their self-expression, emotional exploration and self-confidence." Bid here.

Hit List
  • Country Weekly readers have voted Chris Young the magazine's "Hottest Bachelor." "What can I say, country fans are the best," Young says. "Thank you, Country Weekly readers!" The full list hits newsstands May 2.
  • Following Lady Antebellum's six-date run opening for Keith Urban in Australia, their album Need You Now has earned platinum certifications in Australia (70,000) and New Zealand (15,000). Additionally, Lady A cover Men At Work's "Down Under" in this week's Webisode Wednesday.
  • Celebrities including Olympic gold medalist Bart Conner, entertainer Red Steagall, Basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman, Heisman Trophy winner Steve Owens and NFL footballers Cedric Jones, Roy Williams, Dermontti Dawson, Rocky Calmus, Tony Casillas and Joe Washington are confirmed to participate in Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic May 20-21. Proceeds will benefit the Toby Keith Foundation's efforts to build the OK Kids Korral for families of pediatric patients at OU Medical Center Children's Hospital. More here.
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Paisley in Spaaaace and a whole lot more
 Urban Antebellum Or Lady K? Highlights from the Australian run of Keith Urban's Get Closer 2011 World Tour include sharing the stage with Lady Antebellum in Tamworth (4/12) to perform the Eagles' " Seven Bridges Road." In Melbourne, Urban stoked the crowd with his own " Georgia Woods." "The last time we toured down here was the first time where the crowds have grown exponentially," Urban says in this clip. "Everybody knew every song. The biggest thing was that everybody stood up all night, and that doesn't really happen in Australia. As for Lady A, the trio met some German fans, watched the Masters golf tournament via satellite during a radio interview and fed kangaroos at Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo. Best yet, it's all in their latest Webisode Wednesday! The Get Closer Tour returns to North America July 16 in Biloxi, MS. Schedule here.

» Best Foot Forward: Twitter helped LeAnn Rimes give fan and follower Peggy Joyce the hand-me-down hookup last week. Rimes was posting about a three-hour spring cleaning session, which cued a correspondence between the pair. "Everyone has a vice ... mine are shoes and handbags," Rimes posted last week. Joyce replied, "Anything u want to donate to me? From OH and lost job and have a 16-month-old. Bad year ... I will pay for shipping. Thanks!!" According to People, Joyce scored some of Rimes' summer flip-flops and tennis shoes. More here.

» Girl'd Series: The Academy of Country Music's Girls' Night Out: Superstar Women Of Country airs Friday (4/22). Honorees Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Reba, the Judds, Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles and Martina McBride are celebrated with a video tribute, a performance salute from another artists, and each then joins in for a collaborative performance. Blake Shelton sings "Famous In A Small Town" for Lambert, who forms the group Pistol Annie with Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley for "Hell On Heels." Vince Gill performs "Jesus Take The Wheel" for Underwood, who joins Gill on "How Great Thou Art." Rascal Flatts performs "Why Haven't I Heard From You" for Reba, who joins them for "The Heart Won't Lie." Honoree Loretta Lynn, who was recovering from knee surgery, speaks via satellite video feed. Additional performers include Sara Evans (for the late Tammy Wynette), the JaneDear girls (for Kitty Wells), the Band Perry (for the late Patsy Cline) and Jason Aldean ("She's Country"). Girls' Night Out airs Friday (4/22) at 9pm ET on CBS-TV.

» Inclement Machine: Powerful storms and the threat of tornados forced the cancellation of Sugarland's Incredible Machine tour date in Tuscaloosa, AL Friday (4/15). "We're so sorry the show could not go on last night," the duo posted in a blog Saturday (4/16). "We hope everyone in the area is safe and sound, and that sunny skies come your way very soon." Along with their road crew, Sugarland and openers Little Big Town and Matt Nathanson were evacuated from the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater to a nearby city building, where they waited out the storm doing yoga, performing mock weather reports and playing Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" on their iPads. Video  here.

Sugarland has also been added to Friday's LP Field lineup during the 2011 CMA Music Festival (6/10). Additionally, Kelly Clarkson will perform "Don't You Wanna Stay" with Jason Aldean, and Alan Jackson will perform "As She's Walking Away" with Zac Brown Band during their respective sets Thursday (6/9). Here's hoping the Sugars, ZBB and the rest don't run into any "Bolder Weather." See the full CMA Fest lineup  here.

» Cooking For Real: Trisha Yearwood is heading to the small screen to host her own daytime cooking Food Network series (air date TBA). The yet-to-be-titled show will premiere during the 2011-2012 season. Details here.

» Apprentice – Raising The Steaks: If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the Celebrity Apprentice kitchen. At least, that seemed to be the theme Sunday (4/17) as teams Backbone and A.S.A.P. were challenged to orchestrate an Omaha Steaks cooking demonstration for company executives. Communication broke down between project manager Gary Busey and the team Backbone members including John Rich, who was tasked with creating the team's three-course Father's Day menu. Aside from the red meat challenge, Rich had a beef with Busey for calling him "boy" off-camera. In the boardroom, Busey claimed he called Rich "kuh-boy," as in "cowboy." Huh? Yep, you guessed it. Busey was fired. Watch the episode here.

» Life Note: Defying the odds, Reba's father Clark is on the upswing after suffering from a stroke that put him in a coma in February. According to The Tennessean, Clark is responsive and recovering at a rehab center. "I'm not kidding, we had planned the funeral three times," Reba tells the Nashville newspaper. "We've selected songs, we've picked out where he's going to be buried, and now he's just done a complete turnaround." More  here.

»Hit List
  • Brad Paisley is among the celebrity guests featured on actor William Shatner's space-inspired covers compilation Searching For Major Tom, which is due later this year. Paisley will back Shatner on guitar and vocals on Steve Miller's "Space Cowboy." Track listing here.
  • More than 1.7 million viewers tuned into The Judds premiere on OWN last Sunday (4/10). According to the duo's publicist, the show was the highest-rated premiere on the network. Watch the episode here.
  • Members of Johnny Cash's family and Arkansas State University have partnered to host the annual Johnny Cash Music Festival Aug. 4 to fund the restoration of the late Country Music Hall of Famer's childhood home in Dyess, AR. Rosanne Cash, John Carter Cash, George Jones, Kris Kristofferson and Rodney Crowell are among the performers donating their time for the inaugural event. More info here.


Glen Campbell (4/22)
Rebecca Lynn Howard (4/24)


Tuesday (4/19): Toby Keith, Dancing With The Stars (ABC).

Wednesday (4/20): Gary Allan, The Collection (GAC).

Thursday (4/21): Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers, Late Show With David Letterman (CBS).

Friday (4/22): Various Artists, Girls' Night Out: Superstar Women Of Country — The Concert Of The Year (CBS).

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Flatts Fees -Toby Locked and Loaded

» Turner Nichols Suing Flatts: A complaint filed Monday (4/11) in Davidson County, TN Chancery Court finds former Rascal Flatts management company Turner Nichols & Associates seeking continued commission on income from deals negotiated while the firm still represented the band. The suit asks for "15% of the Defendants' gross entertainment income, excluding publishing, attributable to the efforts of Plaintiff and/or pursuant to agreements entered into during the term of the management agreement ...." In addition to a touring agreement negotiated in 2009 that continues into 2013, Turner Nichols seeks commission on the band's recent ABC-TV special, DVD sales and on proceeds from recording agreements and tour sponsorships. Request for comment from a representative of Rascal Flatts had not been returned at press time.

» Aldean's Dirt Road Derby: Jason Aldean wore out the U.S. transit system this week promoting his new single "Dirt Road Anthem." On Tuesday, he taped CMT's Invitation Only and performed on the Tuesday Night Opry (4/12), while Thursday took him to American Idol and the Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson. Kelly Clarkson joined Aldean on Idol as they performed their smash duet "Don't You Wanna Stay." Behind-the-scenes highlights at Tuesday's CMT taping included an audience Q&A session and an eight-song set that featured "My Kinda Party," "Amarillo Sky," "Why," "The Truth," "Crazy Town," "Hicktown," "She's Country" and "Dirt Road Anthem." "A song like 'Dirt Road Anthem' is a risk for anybody in country music because it is different," Aldean said during the Q&A portion. "A lot of times artists, record companies and managers are a little scared of those songs ... [but] I feel like when you take risks and they pay off, they pay off in a big way."

» Chairwoman Of The 'Board: Taylor Swift leads 2011 Billboard Music Awards country nominees with seven total nods. Swift is among the nominees in the all-genre categories of Top Artist, Top Billboard 200 Album for Speak Now, Top Billboard 200 Artist and Top Female Artist. Lady Antebellum follow with four nods; Jason Aldean, Sugarland and Zac Brown Band have two each. Kenny Chesney, the Band Perry and Miranda Lambert are also nominated. Complete list here. The Billboard Music Awards air live May 22 from Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena at 8pm ET on ABC-TV.

» End Up Somewhere Else: Twelve European dates are locked and loaded for Toby Keith's ... uh, Locked & Loaded 2011 World Tour. Shows in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark are scheduled for the run, which kicks off Oct. 30 in Edinburgh. Details here.

» Tryin' To Make It In Her Daddy's World: Trisha Yearwood and Lee Ann Womack walked the red carpet at Good Housekeeping's Shine On event, which celebrated history-making women. "We don't always applaud or don't know about all the contributions that women have made," Yearwood said prior to Tuesday's (4/12) Radio City Music Hall soirée, which benefited Washington, DC's National Women's History Museum. "Women are sometimes a footnote in some of these other museums, but we need to have our own museum, so I'm very excited for that to happen." Womack added, "Women raise our kids; the next generation that's coming up. It's very important. So we have to honor that." Yearwood sang James Brown's "It's A Man's Man's Man's World" with an all-female band, and Womack performed "I Hope You Dance." Red carpet photos here.

» Hold My Hand: Darius Rucker is among five celebrities who have joined the American Red Cross National Celebrity Cabinet, which works to promote Red Cross' international aid work. Talk show host Nate Berkus, actress Kristin Chenoweth, Latin star Rogelio Martinez and Christian music singer Michael W. Smith have also joined the Cabinet. "Whether it is a call to action for blood drives, disaster relief or just community outreach, the American Red Cross does an extraordinary job at not only meeting the immediate needs of a community, but also the preparation and planning for long-term support," Rucker says. "I am honored that they would include me in the Cabinet as a member and contributor." Details here.

» Reproducing Like Honey Rabbits: "Honey Bee" by Blake Shelton is generating major buzz online. The track has sold 138,000 first-week copies, according to numbers provided by Shelton's record label. We're told the feat is a high-water-mark for male country artists.

» Even Stronger: Sara Evans performed " A Little Bit Stronger" during Tuesday's (4/12) Tonight Show With Jay Leno. Follow the link for the footage. In other news, the song has been certified gold for sales of 500,000 copies.

» Life Notes: The country music community is extending thoughts and prayers to the family of Keith Burns (Burns & Poe), whose daughter Savannah Leigh Burns is battling leukemia. Savannah, 18, is currently hospitalized at Atlanta's Egleston Children's Hospital and, according to Keith's publicist, "is in desperate need of platelets and blood." Details here.


Likewise, best wishes are with singer/songwriter Julie Roberts, who has revealed she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis while working on her second album. "It all started when I was on the road touring for my first album," Roberts writes on her blog. "I'd be in the middle of a show and couldn't hold my microphone anymore." Read the full post here.

» Hit List
  • Faith Hill and Tim McGraw are the only country crooners in the all-star cast set to act in a country-themed production of William Shakespeare's The Merry Wives Of Windsor May 9 at UCLA's Royce Hall. The music of the late Hank Williams will be featured. According to the LA Times, Christina Applegate, Kenneth Branagh, Eric Idle, William Shatner and Martin Short will also participate. Proceeds benefit the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles.
  • Kellie Pickler and Julianne Hough are among the celebrities featured on People magazine's "Most Beautiful" list. The issue hits newsstands Friday (4/15). Additionally, Hough graces the April 16 cover of Women's Health. Hough tweets, "It's fun, informative and has great tips in the issue."
  • Mercury Records – home to Billy Currington, Jamey Johnson, Sugarland, and others – is planning to offer one lucky singer a record deal. "We're looking for a male rock and country singer, ages 18-26 with range and twang," the website solicits. Info here.


Vince Gill (4/12)
Loretta Lynn (4/14)
Roy Clark (4/15)
Jim Scholten (Sawyer Brown) (4/18)
Marvin Evatt (Carolina Rain) (4/18)


Friday (4/15): Toby Keith and Sugarland, Conversations From The Road (GAC); Trace Adkins, CMT's Next Superstar.

Saturday (4/16): Various Artists, Kenny Rogers: The First 50 Years (GAC); Wynonna, Southern Fried Flicks (CMT).

Sunday (4/17): Ashton Shepherd, Aaron's 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (FOX); John Rich, Celebrity Apprentice (NBC); the Judds, The Judds (OWN); Rascal Flatts, Inside West Coast Customs (Discover's HD Theater).

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An Emotional Tim-Soul Surfing with Carrie
» Tim McGraw Cited For Trafficking: Tim McGraw was starting traffic in Corpus Christi, TX Friday night (4/8). That's right, starting traffic – as in his Emotional Traffic Tour with openers Luke Bryan and the Band Perry. But before McGraw premiered the immense production in front of a sold-out crowd, he tested the waters before 50 invitation-only guests during a closed dress rehearsal Thursday (4/7). Our insider was there. Calling the stage "impressive," our reporter describes a runway leading into the arena from center stage that horseshoes out to create a pit area in the middle of the floor. A satellite stage is featured at the rear of the arena, and risers for the drum kit and keyboards move forward and backward onstage.

Apparently, McGraw made good use of the expansive set while he rolled through his hits and previewed five tracks from his upcoming album including the single "Felt Good On My Lips." "He spends the entire show interacting with the fans and covering the entire stage," our insider says. "It was rare for him to stand still and sing at any point in the evening." The Band Perry and Bryan joined McGraw on "She Can't Be Really Gone" and "Real Good Man," respectively. Last word: "All in all, a pretty [darn] good show and well worth seeing this year if you can."

» Australian Honey: Keith Urban and openers Lady Antebellum have been taking in the local scene Down Under during the opening weekend of the Get Closer 2011 World Tour. At Friday's (4/8) kick-off concert in Adelaide, Urban covered Aussie '70s rockers Cold Chisel and invited five-year-old guitar picker Nathan onstage for " Days Go By." "Australia, it's so good to be here," Urban tweeted post-show. "Can't wait to put on a few more shows for you all." Urban continued the Aussie salute Saturday (4/9) in Melbourne, where the packed crowd sang along to two more Cold Chisel covers. As for Lady A, when they aren't getting Aussies to sing along to " Need You Now," they're scratching their furry backs. Yup. You read right. During a radio interview in Sydney, Lady A were surprised with a meet-and-greet with a koala named Mikey, who drew some tourist-y squeals from the band. A giddy Hillary Scott said, "He's so sweet! I'm so happy right now!" Dave Haywood added, "You can leave [Mikey] in our hotel room!" Read a full Adelaide review here and Melbourne recap here. Opening night pics are here.

» Field Of Dreams: The 2011 CMA Music Festival LP Field lineup is nearly set. Performing Thursday June 9 are Jason Aldean, Easton Corbin, Sara Evans, Brad Paisley and the Zac Brown Band; Friday June 10 are Sheryl Crow, Lady Antebellum, Martina McBride, Ashton Shepherd, Keith Urban and others TBA; Saturday June 11 features Trace Adkins, Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, Reba, Josh Turner and Chris Young; and Sunday June 12 will include the Band Perry, the JaneDear girls, Miranda Lambert, Darius Rucker and Blake Shelton. Nightly passes go on sale Saturday (4/16) at 11am ET. Details here.

» At The Movies: It's a country triple play in movie news this week. According to Box Office Mojo, Soul Surfer, featuring Carrie Underwood's film debut, earned $11.1 million on its opening weekend. Country Strong starring Tim McGraw and Gwyneth Paltrow comes out on DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday (4/12). And Bloodworth, starring Country Music Hall of Famer Kris Kristofferson and Dwight Yoakam, will be screened during a Nashville Film Festival red carpet event Saturday (4/16). Kristofferson will also receive the NaFF's Career Achievement Award prior to the screening.

» Apprentice – Gold & Rich: Teams Backbone and A.S.A.P. went for the Gold, but one team missed the "Mark" on Sunday's (4/10) Celebrity Apprentice. Both were assigned to create displays touting Australian Gold sunscreen, with Backbone project manager Mark McGrath opting for a pirate theme and John Rich composing a well-received pirate chant for the product. Led by La Toya Jackson, the women's team prevailed and the men were on the receiving end of Donald Trump's boardroom wrath. McGrath accepted responsibility for the poorly received theme and was fired despite a late surge from the men to get problem-child Gary Busey canned. Watch the full episode here.

» Ace In The Whole: George Strait and developer Tom Cusick have acquired the 250-acre Tapatio Golf Resort near Boerne, TX. Textron Financial has owned the Texas Hill Country property since purchasing it from foreclosure last June for $4.5 million. "I have lived near Boerne, and over the years Tom and I watched what was happening at Tapatio Springs, and we always believed it could be a real jewel," Strait says. Cusick adds, "The resort has suffered through uncertainty, rumors and a lack of maintenance. George and I are making a personal commitment to eliminate those issues and turn Tapatio Springs into the showplace it should be." The course resort opened in 1981, and amenities include 27 holes, a hotel, tennis courts, hiking trails and a convention center. Details here.

» Crib Notes: Congratulations to Blaine Larsen and wife Sammie on the birth of their second child, son Noble Blaine. Noble was welcomed to the world April 8 and joins sister Zoe.

Congratulations are also extended to Shooter Jennings and Drea De Matteo on the birth of their second child, Waylon Albert "Blackjack" Jennings. Waylon joins sister Alabama Gypsyrose.

»Hit List
  • An autographed Willie Nelson guitar has been added to the second phase of the EMI Family 4 Japan charity auction, which ends April 21. Darius Rucker, Dierks Bentley, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Luke Bryan, Little Big Town, Garth Brooks, Eric Church, Alan Jackson and Kenny Rogers are among the artists who are also offering items during the auction's first phase, which closes April 15. All proceeds benefit Red Cross Japan relief efforts, and the EMI Group has pledged to match funds raised up to 1 million euros. Access the auction here.
  • Chris Young will embark on his second military entertainment tour April 13. Young will headline five camps in Iraq and Kuwait and distribute iTunes gift cards to service members on the Stars For Stripes' Piece of Home tour.
  • Jennette McCurdy has been named spokesperson for the Rebecca Bonbon fashion and lifestyle line, which is exclusively available at North American Kmart and Sears retailers. Beginning with the 2011 Back-To-School collection, McCurdy will be featured in a marketing campaign promoting the Japanese brand, which was developed by Hello Kitty creator Yuko Shimizu.
  • A resolution proclaiming April 16 Jimmy Buffett Day has passed in the Florida House of Representatives. The holiday celebrates Buffett's charitable efforts, economic impact and environmental support in the Sunshine State.
  • Air Supply frontman Russell Hitchcock will release a two-disc country album Tennessee: The Nashville Sessions May 10. Additionally, the Americana album Mississippi Mile by John Oates (Hall & Oates) hits stores Tuesday (4/12).


Vince Gill (4/12)
Loretta Lynn (4/14)
Roy Clark (4/15)
Jim Scholten (Sawyer Brown) (4/18)
Marvin Evatt (Carolina Rain) (4/18)


Tuesday (4/12): Kenny Rogers, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (NBC); Wynonna, Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson (CBS); the Judds, The Talk  (CBS).

Wednesday (4/13): Alison Krauss and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas, Late Show With David Letterman (CBS).

Thursday (4/14): Jason Aldean, Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson (CBS).

Friday (4/15): Toby Keith and Sugarland, Conversations From The Road (GAC).

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Carrie on Ellen--Lady A beats up on Taylor Swift plus Tim, Keith and more
» Carrie Surfs Silver Screen: Carrie Underwood's feature film debut in Soul Surfer hangs-10 into theaters nationwide Friday (4/8). The inspirational movie follows the real-life story of pro surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm to a 14-foot tiger shark while training for a national surfing competition. Underwood plays leadership youth counselor Sarah Hill, who helps guide Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb) through some faith-based challenges as she returns to the sport. "I wanted to do this movie because it was a chance to reach out to people with an amazing story," Underwood says. "I never set out to be an actress, but I always said if something came along and it was for the right reasons, I would do it. And this script just felt right. I think it will be impossible for anyone to see this story and not be impacted."   

During a scene between Hill and Hamilton, Underwood delivers the movie's signature line, "I don't know why terrible things happen to us sometimes, but I have to believe that something good is going to come out of this." A mission trip to tsunami-devastated Thailand helps Hamilton discover a greater purpose, conquer her limitations and return to the water for the surfing National Championships. Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt and Kevin Sorbo also star. Learn more and view the trailer here.

» Boy's Making Noise: Tim McGraw is such a tease. Gearing up for Friday's (4/8) Emotional Traffic Tour launch in Corpus Christi, TX, McGraw and his production crew have posted several sneak peeks at the immense high-tech production's moving sets, advanced lighting and T-shaped runway. One tweet reads, "Lights, camera, action ... almost! Finishing touches are underway for the Tim McGraw Emotional Traffic Tour launch!" A two-minute video also shows clips of the set in its entirety. Openers the Band Perry are also all a- Twitter about joining McGraw for the summer trek. TBP posts, "Doing laundry, saying goodbye to [hometown] Greeneville, [TN] loading up the bus for Corpus Christi. Tim McGraw Tour or bust!" Luke Bryan is also on the bill. Full schedule here.

» Homespun Love: New Zealand native Keith Urban is in his neck of the world as the Get Closer 2011 World Tour officially kicks off in Australia Friday (4/8). Urban has been holed up in Adelaide's Entertainment Centre this week gearing up for the official Down Under launch. "I have always made sure I come back on a regular basis," Urban tells AU's Sky News. "I have had such loyal support here. I always want to come back." Openers Lady Antebellum are also pumped. "We're excited," Charles Kelley says via video update. "It's warm, and I'm rocking some new shorts I bought in the airport. [We're] slightly jet-lagged but I'm not too bad. Hopefully we'll have some exciting footage for y'all ... like me hugging a koala." Urban and Lady A will hit Melbourne (4/9), Tamworth (4/12), Sydney (4/14) and close with a two-night stand in Brisbane next week (April 15-16).

» Girls Aloud: Musical mash-ups continued through Monday night's Academy of Country Music's Girls' Night Out: Superstar Women Of Country taping (4/4). Segments celebrating honorees Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Reba, the Judds, Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles and Martina McBride each featured a musical collaboration, as well as a video tribute and performance salute. Fiancé Blake Shelton sang "Famous In A Small Town" for Lambert, who formed the group Pistol Annie with Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley to perform "Hell On Heels." Vince Gill performed "Jesus Take The Wheel" for Underwood, who joined Gill on "How Great Thou Art." Rascal Flatts performed "Why Haven't I Heard From You" for Reba, who sang "The Heart Won't Lie" with RF. John Fogerty performed "Rockin' With The Rhythm Of The Rain" for the Judds. Wynonna and Fogerty then performed "Proud Mary," while Naomi Judd observed. Sugarland partner Kristian Bush hosted a video tribute for Nettles, who joined Ronnie Dunn on "Let Him Fly." Dunn also performed Sugarland's "Stay."

Little Big Town and McBride sang Linda Ronstadt's "When Will I Be Loved." Honoree Loretta Lynn was unable to attend the taping because of recent knee surgery and spoke via satellite video feed. Behind-the-scenes action included Oprah Winfrey introducing the Judds via video and presenter Shelton jokingly pointing out to ACM Awards co-host Reba, "I got a gig by myself!" Reba replied from the audience, "Don't mess it up." Additional performers included Sara Evans (for the late Tammy Wynette), the JaneDear girls (for Kitty Wells), the Band Perry (for Patsy Cline) and Jason Aldean ("She's Country"). Girls' Night Out airs April 22 at 9pm ET on CBS-TV.

» Private Eyes, They're Watching You: Television producer Miranda Lambert ...er, wait, what? That's right, she is executive-producing an hour-long ABC Family drama. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the scripted show will revolve around a Texas family whose parents are private investigators. Lambert's mother Beverly (who once worked as a private investigator, along with Lambert's father), manager Marion Kraft and Kapital Entertainment's Aaron Kaplan will also executive-produce. More  here.

» Keeping It On The Download: Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" has surpassed Taylor Swift's "Love Story" as the most downloaded country song of all time by moving more than 4,970,000 copies. In other Lady A news, Hillary Scott represents country in Elle magazine's music photo spread " Gold Dust Women." The issue streets April 12. "There aren't a ton of people in this country who will understand songs about riding a tractor through a pasture," Scott says in explaining the appeal of the trio's biggest hit. "But when it comes to falling in love and out of love and getting your heart broken, there's no way you can't understand what the song's about."

» Benefit News: EMI Group artists including Dierks Bentley, Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Alan Jackson, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town and Keith Urban are offering memorabilia, personal items and more in the company's EMI Family 4 Japan eBay charity auction, which runs through April 21. All proceeds benefit Red Cross Japan relief efforts. Among the items are VIP packages including private meet-and-greet passes and tickets to Bentley and Urban concerts, as well as a private tour of Abbey Road Studios. EMI Group has pledged to match funds raised up to 1 million euros. Access the auction  here.

» Categorically Denied: The Grammy Awards Country Field has been cut from seven categories to four as the Recording Academy is reducing the overall number of awards 109 to 78 beginning with the 2012 show. Combining the Male and Female performance awards, folding Collaborations in with Duo/Group and eliminating Instrumental leaves the following categories: Best Country Solo Performance, Best Country Duo/Group Performance, Best Country Song and Best Country Album. Other fields have been similarly cut, with Pop and Rock going from seven to four, Urban declining from eight to four, Rap falling from five to four and Classical dropping from 11 to seven. Categories that fail to reach a minimum threshold of 25 entries a year for three years will be discontinued. See a detailed explanation here and a full category breakdown here.

» In Case You Missed It: Carrie Underwood appeared on Thursday's Ellen DeGeneres Show (4/7) and discussed sharing her home with pro hockey husband Mike Fisher. "He got traded to Nashville," Underwood told DeGeneres. "And he brought all his crap with him. He's not a hoarder, but he's close." During Wednesday's  Tonight Show With Jay Leno (4/6) Underwood plugged Soul Surfer, and discussed her ACM Awards performance with Steven Tyler. "We rehearsed off-site in L.A.," she says, noting the pairing was six months in the works. "It was all top-secret because we didn't want it to get out."

Also on Ellen, Josh Kelley performed " Georgia Clay." On  Good Morning America, the Judds promoted their self-titled OWN docu-series. And Thompson Square performed " Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not" on Fox & Friends. During Tuesday's  Tonight Show With Jay Leno (4/5), Taylor Swift recapped her ACM Entertainer of the Year Award win, discussed being the official hairdresser of the Speak Now World Tour 2011 and revealed how CoverGirl prepared her for her NatureLuxe ad campaign. "I had a legitimate leaping coach," Swift says. "Those leaps are legit." Follow the links for the footage.

»Hit List
  • "Stand By Your Man" by the late Tammy Wynette and "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" by the Sons of the Pioneers are among the 25 recordings selected for preservation by the Library of Congress for their cultural and historical significance. "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" by Edward Meeker, "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green and "Tipitina" by Professor Longhair are also among the selected tracks. Full list here.
  • Steve Azar is offering the Ultimate CMA Music Fest Experience – a flyaway prize package to the June 9-12 event. The winner will receive roundtrip airfare for two, Nashville hotel accommodations, four-day passes to the 2011 festival and a private lunch with Azar. Enter by May 6 and learn more on Azar's website and Facebook page.


The late Carl Perkins (4/9)
Steve Azar (4/11)


Friday (4/8): Various Artists, The Music Inside — Waylon Jennings: Breaking The Myth (GAC).

Saturday (4/9): Various Artists, George Strait: ACM Artist Of The Decade All Star Concert (GAC).

Sunday (4/10): The Judds, The Judds (OWN).

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ACM Recap
» Country Doubles Down: The Academy of Country Music was double-dealing in Las Vegas Sunday night (4/3) as dual hosts Reba and Blake Shelton introduced performances at both of the Strip's two biggest venues before the 46th Annual ACM Awards show was even an hour old. Carrying the pairing theme through were performances by Carrie Underwood and Steven Tyler ("Undo It" into "Walk This Way"), Jennifer Nettles and Rihanna ("California King Bed"), Darius Rucker with the ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp Choir ("Music From The Heart") and the  Zac Brown Band with James Taylor ("Colder Weather" into "Sweet Baby James"). Four performances originated from the Mandalay Bay Events Center, with the bulk of the show being hosted at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Earning her first ACM Entertainer of the Year honor was a singular moment for Taylor Swift, who topped the tally as a record of nearly 600,000 fan votes were cast. The night's biggest trophy haul came from Miranda Lambert with four, including awards for Female Vocalist as well as Song, Single and Video ("The House That Built Me"). Brad Paisley won his fifth consecutive Male Vocalist award, Sugarland earned Duo, Lady Antebellum took Album and Group and the Band Perry received New Artist. Download the full winners list here.

» It's A Love Story: If being the world's biggest music star wasn't enough proof, Sunday's show and the record-setting 600,000 votes cast for Entertainer of the Year affirmed the special relationship Taylor Swift has with her fans. "I feel like, of all the things that have happened in my life, they're the best thing that I've ever gotten to have," Swift said backstage after those fans made her the youngest-ever ACM Entertainer of the Year. "My relationship with them is everything to me. The fact that this was a by-product of that makes it that much more beautiful." Asked what her mom Andrea said in her ear when the announcement was made, Swift said, "Those aren't actual words. That's just screaming and random consonants and vowels ... not actually ever audible thoughts." Swift's first national TV appearance as the reigning Entertainer of the Year will be Tuesday (4/5) on NBC-TV's Tonight Show With Jay Leno.

» Ring Finger Bling? Fresh off their Vocal Group of the Year win, Lady Antebellum didn't hesitate to recognize Rascal Flatts' absence from the category when asked about it backstage. Charles Kelley thought it was "weird" that the group who won the category seven consecutive times hadn't been nominated this year. "I honestly couldn't believe they weren't in the category," Kelley said. "They deserve to be in it every year. They're one of the biggest groups, if not the biggest group in country music, and they're friends of ours." Also backstage, the trio had to do a little rumor control regarding a massive piece of jewelry on Hillary Scott's left ring finger. "I told her not to wear that," Kelley told a reporter, who saw the rock from afar. Setting the record straight, Scott said, "First of all, I'm not engaged ... Whenever you wear fancy jewelry like this, you just put it on the finger that fits. And this is the finger that it fit on." Lady A will cap their ACM celebration by opening for Keith Urban on the Australian leg of the Get Closer 2011 World Tour this week. Complete list of dates here.

» Sibling Chivalry: Miranda Lambert's mystery date while hubby-to-be Blake Shelton was co-hosting Sunday's (4/3) ACM Awards was ... her younger brother Luke. "Obviously, my date was very busy all night," Lambert said of Shelton's role. "[Luke] likes to stay in the background. He does my website and stuff. So he's one of those people who's like, 'I don't want to talk on the red carpet, okay?' Of course, I drug him to a few interviews. I think he had a really good time, and he's a great date." And he had several opportunities to hold his big sister's purse as she went onstage to collect her trophies.

» The Original Taylor: Zac Brown Band's Zac Brown took full advantage of the ACM Awards' doubles theme to collaborate with one of his musical heroes James Taylor. The pair rehearsed "Colder Weather" and "Sweet Baby James" a week prior to the telecast to get the mashup just right. "We kind of tried some of his songs to find ones that had the same theme and feel and everything that fit with 'Colder Weather,'" Brown told press backstage at the ACMs. "That's when we came up with 'Sweet Baby James,' which is, in my opinion one of his most iconic tunes. It's the all-time best musical moment of my career."

» Meanwhile At Mandalay: Off the MGM Grand Garden Arena campus, fans gathered at the Mandalay Bay Events Center watched the ACM Awards on three large screens. During commercial breaks, the audience was treated to acoustic performances from Steel Magnolia, Sarah Darling and newcomer Bradley Gaskin. Once the CBS-TV broadcast wrapped, Sugarland returned to the stage to headline the Fan Jam After Party, performing hits and mixing Cee Lo Green's "Forget You" and other pop hits into their "Everyday America." Randy Houser, David Nail, Eric Church and Little Big Town performed songs from their bodies of work. Host Laura Bell Bundy was forced to stretch to allow time for artists arriving from the MGM to navigate heavy traffic. Sugarland's Kristian Bush went solo for Bruce Springsteen's "Atlantic City" before being joined by LBB for Stevie Nicks' "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around." Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton paired up for Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music" and the Band Perry closed the evening with "Sugar, Sugar" into "Hip to My Heart."

» ACM Quotebook: Seen and heard onstage and backstage at the 46th Annual ACM Awards:
  • "I think he's probably got a permanent gig. I really expected him to win [Male], and I would have been very happy." — Brad Paisley on Blake Shelton.
  • "We believe that country music is the people's music, and it's our greatest desire to be their band. We truly feel like our songs come right out of our hearts and immediately belong to them. We're just so grateful for this to be the first award that we ever get to accept. It seems appropriate that it's fan-voted." — the Band Perry's Kimberly Perry on their New Artist win.
  • "Tonight was one of the greatest musical moments I've ever experienced." — Darius Rucker on performing with the Vanderbilt Music Camp Choir.
  • "It went great. I shot three celebrities ... and Luke Bryan!" — Shelton on the NRACountry/ACM Celebrity Shoot.
  • "We've never been presented these nice trophies by people with such big feathers before." — Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles on accepting Duo trophies from Vegas showgirls.
  • "This has been a great night for American music." — Ryan Seacrest
  • "God bless Jerry Douglas." — Zac Brown Band's John Driskell Hopkins on the famed Dobro player who put the band and James Taylor together.
  • "I'm still excited from last year." — Miranda Lambert on her big night.

» Kid Country: Country music newcomer Jennette McCurdy was also a winner over the weekend at a more "Kid"- friendly award show. McCurdy took home the Favorite TV Sidekick honor for her role in iCarly during Saturday's Kids' Choice Awards (4/2). Additionally, iCarly won the KCA for Favorite TV Show. View the Favorite TV Show award win here.

» Apprentice: Rich At Raiser's Edge: Project managers John Rich and Marlee Matlin set a Celebrity Apprentice record by collectively raising $1,640,000 during Sunday night's "The Art Of The Deal" episode, which had teams Backbone and A.S.A.P. each staging their own art auction for charity. "There has never been, in the history of Apprentice or Celebrity Apprentice, money raised like both teams raised," host Donald Trump exclaimed in the boardroom. "We've never raised this much money in a whole season." Rich's team pulled an impressive $626,908, which included a donation from Apprentice alumnus Trace Adkins and a $470,000 check from Rich's Nashville connections Two-Foot Fred and Big Six. But with the help of three $99,000 donations, Team A.S.A.P. came out on top with a whopping $986,000. Because both teams pulled such high numbers, Trump, Rich and Matlin struck a deal that the losing team got to keep their funds, which for Rich means a sizable donation to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. In the end, Backbone's Richard Hatch was sent home for failing to use his celebrity connections to raise money during the challenge. Watch the full episode here.

»Hit List
  • Rascal Flatts' Gary LeVox and the CPrime team placed first during Saturday's (4/2) Blake Shelton-hosted NRA Country/ACM Celebrity Shoot at the Nellis Air Force Base outside Las Vegas. Shelton with the Starstruck team and Dave Butz with the Washington Redskins team placed second and third, respectively.

  • Blake Shelton's new single "Honey Bee" is now available as a streaming YouTube song. Hear the track in its entirety here.

  • Dial-by-phone and text-to-donate campaigns for the ACM Lifting Lives charity will continue through the end of April. Text "DREAM" to 27722 or call 1-888-9LIFTING to make a $5 donation. Proceeds will benefit several charities, which are listed here.

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