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Two winners will each win a King suite with a wet bar on Friday night, May 9th for the Downtown Hoedown.

 

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Detroit's Downtown Hoedown

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::: THE WORLD'S LARGEST FREE COUNTRY CONCERT :::

* 2008 Hoedown News *

HOEDOWN COVERAGE

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NOTE: The date of the Hoedown has been changed due to the ACM Awards broadcast which has been scheduled for May 18th.

 

CMA New Artist Spotlight: Lady Antebellum

By Bob Doerschuk
© 2008 CMA Close Up News Service

 

 

Though Country is the foundation for Lady Antebellum's music, other echoes rise and play above that bedrock. Yet they all fit together in ways that testify to these artists' ability to inspire and complement each other.

Their story begins with the friendship of Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley, who began playing music together as middle-school students in Augusta, Ga. Their paths separated when Kelley started playing drums in his older brother Josh's band, while Haywood pursued a career in accounting. In 2005, he answered Kelley's call to Nashville.

Hillary Scott, meanwhile, was already settled in Music City. The daughter of CMA Award-winning vocalist Linda Davis and musician Lang Scott, she grew up in the music business, performed on "The Linda Davis Family Christmas Show" while in high school and nearly sealed a solo artist deal. In true postmodern fashion, she encountered Kelley's music through his MySpace site, which led all three to connect and begin nurturing their collective talents.

Produced by Victoria Shaw and Paul Worley, Lady Antebellum's eponymous debut album on Capitol Records Nashville ranges from the dramatic power ballad "All We'd Ever Need" to the swagger and strut of "Love's Lookin' Good on You." All but one of the tracks were written by the group together or with other co-writers, and through them all, Scott and Kelley take turns in the solo vocal spotlight when not locking together in polished yet freewheeling harmonies. This combination feels right, sings tight and sounds ready to rock it 'til the morning light.

Photo by David Johnson

Capitol Records Nashville recording artists Lady Antebellum.

 

Q&A:

SONG YOU'D LIKE TO COVER
CHARLES: "'Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into My Car,' by Billy Ocean."
DAVE: "'Jump,' by Van Halen."
HILLARY: "'Hard to Handle,' by The Black Crowes."

SONG YOU SING IN THE SHOWER
HILLARY: "A Dave Barnes song called 'Grace's Amazing Hands.' He's an amazing singer/songwriter who lives in Nashville."

SONG YOU WISH YOU'D WRITTEN
CHARLES: "'What Hurts the Most' performed by Rascal Flatts and written by Jeffrey Steele and Steve Robson."
DAVE: "'Ants Marching,' by Dave Matthews."

CD IN YOUR STEREO
CHARLES: "Miranda Lambert's Crazy Ex- Girlfriend."
DAVE: "Carrie Underwood's Carnival Ride."
HILLARY: "John Mayer's Continuum."

BOOK ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND
CHARLES: "The entire collection of encyclopedias."
HILLARY: "My journal."

MUSICAL HERO
CHARLES: "Bono."
DAVE: "James Taylor."
HILLARY: "Gladys Knight."

DREAM DUET PARTNER
CHARLES: "Hillary Scott. I'm living my dream."
HILLARY: "Gladys Knight."

PET PEEVE
CHARLES: "Someone who talks just to talk."
DAVE: "People asking me for gum."
HILLARY: "Negativity."

MODE OF TRANSPORTATION YOU PREFER
CHARLES: "Speed walking."
HILLARY: "Planes.

WORD OR PHRASE YOU SAY OVER AND OVER
CHARLES: "Rawesome. It's a combination of radd and awesome."
HILLARY: "Seriously."

ACTOR TO PORTRAY YOU IN YOUR BIOPIC
HILLARY: "I think Mandy Moore would do a great job."

MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE YOU'D RELIVE IF YOU COULD
CHARLES: "Senior year of college. It was rawesome."
HILLARY: "I don't believe in reliving or regretting anything because those are the things that teach you and make you grow as a person."

TITLE OF YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY
CHARLES: "A man who lived rawesomely."
HILLARY: "The Story of the Lady in Lady Antebellum."

WHEN THEY LOOK BACK ON YOUR LIFE IN 50 YEARS, WHAT DO YOU HOPE PEOPLE SAY ABOUT YOU
CHARLES: "I like that guy's voice."
HILLARY: "I hope people say that I love life, work hard, but have fun doing it and help to better this world in some way. I want to have more than just a list of accolades and awards, I hope to touch people with what I do because that is much more important."

On the Web: www.ladyantebellum.com

 

CMA New Artist Spotlight: Ashton Shepherd

By Bob Doerschuk
© 2008 CMA Close Up News Service

 

 

The first single from the new album by Ashton Shepherd tells us all we need to know about the soul of this 21-year-old singer and songwriter. On "Takin' Off This Pain," her voice is tough, tender and wise beyond its years and her gift for setting the stage for a song with simple eloquence is in full view.

Producer Buddy Cannon knows how to breathe life into images of hard times and good times. Throughout Shepherd's MCA Nashville debut, Sounds So Good, on 12 tunes, eight written solely by the artist and three co-written with Adam Cunningham, Cannon swirls heartbreak fiddle, last-call steel guitar and powerfully assertive and expressive vocals into a neon-bathed tour de force.

From the twang in Shepherd's tone throughout "I Like Being Single" and the pain in her stretched-out phrasing on "Whiskey Won the Battle," you know that this Coffeeville, Ala., native has been there, done that and earned the right to write and sing about it with an almost startling conviction.

Raised in a flyspeck town of 360, Shepherd won her first talent contest at age 8, appropriately with a couple of Patsy Cline tunes. Her parents funded recording and manufacturing for 1,000 copies of her first album at 15. She won another contest at 16 that earned her an opportunity to open for Lorrie Morgan - and that in turn inspired a producer in the audience to invite her to Nashville. One connection led to another, the result being this remarkable album, rooted deep in tradition and reaching past that Alabama horizon toward an assured and enduring career.

Photo by Danny Clinch

MCA Nashville recording artist Ashton Shepherd

 

IN HER OWN WORDS:

MUSICAL HEROES
"Keith Whitley and Dolly Parton."

SONG YOU WANT TO COVER
"'Fishin' in the Dark,' by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band."

CD ON YOUR STEREO
"Vern Gosdin."

DREAM DUET PARTNER
"Alan Jackson."

SONG YOU WISH YOU WROTE
"'He Stopped Loving Her Today.'"

SONG YOU SING IN THE SHOWER
"That's actually where I write a lot of songs."

MOMENT TO RELIVE IF YOU COULD
"Holding my son James for the first time."

WHEN THEY LOOK BACK ON YOUR LIFE IN 50 YEARS, WHAT DO YOU HOPE PEOPLE SAY ABOUT YOU
"I hope they say I will always be remembered by the songs I write and the music I create."

On the Web: www.ashtonshepherd.com

 

CMA New Artist Spotlight: Whiskey Falls

By Bob Doerschuk
© 2008 CMA Close Up News Service

 

 

Whiskey Falls commands the essential ingredients for rock-inflected Country and adds their own distinctive attributes, the most evident being four-part harmonies that pound through "The Champ," soar like Eagles on "Last Train Running," nail some tricky intervals on "Let the Whiskey Fall," caress with a gentle yet muscular touch on "I Can't Stop Loving You" and sprinkle some Dixie dust on a Grateful Dead feel during the verses to "Days of Birmingham."

Their roots are in L.A., where Seven Williams, Wally Brandt and Wally's twin brother Bill ran We 3 Kings, a music production company that catered to film and television clients. Rather than hit the beach on weekends, though, Wally and Williams spent time in Nashville, honing their writing chops and making connections that led them eventually to Alabama-born multi-instrumentalist Buck Johnson and his friend and unrelated namesake, lead guitarist Damon Johnson.

Once the pieces had come together, the four-member group Whiskey Falls took shape, with a rough and rowdy veneer that somehow dovetails with the sophistication of their writing and instrumental finesse. Word spread quickly and virally, as 40,000 fans logged on to vote Whiskey Falls "Best New Duo/Group" on countrymusic.about.com while their self-titled album was the top-clicked debut on Napster's home, Country and subscriber pages. Produced by Cliff Downs, Bill Brandt and the band, Whiskey Falls on Midas Records Nashville is already flowing strong.

Photo by Michael Maples

Midas recording artists Whiskey Falls.

 

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

Who is your musical hero?
BUCK: "Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, my parents-Dora Lee and Burleigh Johnson."
DAMON: "Neil Young."
SEVEN: "So many to mention but if I had to pick a few Freddy Mercury, Garth Brooks, Sting or Paul Simon."

Which song would you secretly love to cover?
BUCK: "'Wichita Lineman" by Jimmy Webb, 'Something' by George Harrison and 'Brick House' by the Commodores."
DAMON: "'Whenever You Come Around' by Vince Gill."
SEVEN: "Angel eyes by Jeff Healy, 50 ways to leave your lover by Paul Simon."

What CD is on your stereo?
BUCK: "CDs by Marc Cohen, The Travelin' Wilburys and Little Big Town."
DAMON: "Honky Tonk Heroes by Waylon Jennings."
SEVEN: "Little Big Town, Dixie Chicks, Keith Urban and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band."

Who is your dream duet partner?
BUCK: "Bonnie Raitt, Dolly Parton and LeAnn Rimes."
DAMON: "Tom Petty."
SEVEN: "Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn or Norah Jones but only if Sanjaya is not available."

What book is on your nightstand?
BUCK: "A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini."
DAMON: "Across the Great Divide: The Band and America, by Barney Hoskyns."
SEVEN: "I haven't seen my bedroom in so long, I can't remember what I left there."

What song do you sing in the shower?
BUCK: "Usually some melody that I may be writing."
DAMON: "The theme to whatever Disney DVD my son is watching."
SEVEN: "I make up funny lyrics to classic songs. It makes me start my day by laughing at myself."

What's your pet peeve?
BUCK: "Being put on hold during a phone conversation."
DAMON: "Separating great music into categories."
SEVEN: "Being late."

What song do you wish you had written?
BUCK: "'Tiny Dancer,' 'Crazy' or 'Yesterday.'"
DAMON: "'Wichita Lineman' or 'Everyday People.'"
SEVEN: "'Hotel California,' 'Let It Be' or 'The Itsy Bitsy Spider.'"

What word or phrase do you find yourself saying over and over again?
DAMON: "It's all good."
BUCK: "You'll have to ask my wife about that one. She'll probably will say 'give me just a minute.'"
SEVEN: "'We can do it.'"

What mode of transportation do you prefer?
BUCK: "A Harley."
DAMON: "Bus, bus, bus, bus."
SEVEN: "Roller blades."

What actor/actress would portray you in a biopic about your life?
DAMON: "Gary Oldman."
SEVEN: "Jamie Foxx, he did such a good job in 'Ray' that I'm sure he could really bring a lot to my character."

What moment in your life would you relive if you could?
BUCK: "The first time I saw my wife."
DAMON: "Meeting Stevie Ray Vaughn."

Do you have a lucky charm?
BUCK: "My wife, of course."
DAMON: "My skull ring."
SEVEN: "My faith."

If you wrote an autobiography, what would the title be?
BUCK: "The Cat In the Hat."
DAMON: "All The Way from Macon."
SEVEN: "Breaking the Rules."

When they look back on your life in 50 years, what do you hope people say about you?
BUCK: "That I was a good friend."
DAMON: "Damn, he smelled good."
SEVEN: "Wow, I can't believe that guy is still alive, married to the same woman and still making music."

On the Web: www.whiskeyfallsmusic.com

 

CMA New Artist Spotlight: Rissi Palmer

By Bob Doerschuk
© 2007 CMA Close Up News Service

 

 

When Rissi Palmer invites all the women in the house to "clap your hands . show the world you're a Country girl," she's doing more than delivering a show-stopping vocal over a stomping, fiddle-lashed groove. She's actually practicing what she preaches.

That's the main reason why the world didn't get the chance to know her first as an R&B superstar. That opportunity beckoned when legendary producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis invited her into their stable of big-time clients, which at that time included Boyz II Men, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson.

But as a finalist in "Star Search" in 2003, the glitzy talent hunt phenomenon of the 1980s and early '90s that CBS-TV had revived, she found her true path, thanks to a few simple words from celebrity judge Naomi Judd: Awarding Palmer the maximum score of five stars, the Country legend said, "There are only two kinds of music, good and bad - and Rissi is good."

That's made clear on her self-titled debut featuring nine songs written or co-written by Palmer. The swaying romanticism of "Hold Onto Me," thoughtful introspection of "Anybody Out There" and irresistible strut of "Country Girl" testify to Palmer's refined, soulful singing. But her writing chops are just as evident, making it no surprise that one of her songs, "Faith," was included in the soundtrack for the Miramax film "The Woodsman" in 2004.

For all the travels she's taken, creatively and personally, from the talent shows of her teenage years in St. Louis to the publishing deal she signed with Song Planet in Nashville at age 20, she presents her message with the assurance you'd expect from a down-home Country girl on her way to the big time.

Photo by Jimmy Bruch

17.20 Entertainment recording artist Rissi Palmer

IN HER OWN WORDS

Who is your musical hero?
"I admire Dolly Parton and Barbra Streisand. They both have had amazing careers, succeeding in music and film, and in Dolly's case, songwriting. And they still do it today. They have longevity, and that's what I want."

Which song would you secretly like to cover?
"'Sweet Lorraine' by Patty Griffin. That song gave me chills the first time I heard it."

What is your pet peeve?
"People who won't let you over in traffic."

What CD is on your stereo?
"I have a six-CD disc changer: Mindy Smith, Patty Griffin, Sugarland, Craig Morgan, Robin Thicke and me."

What actor would portray you in a biopic about your life?
"Someone with really curly hair."

What moment in your life would you relive if you could?
"Any time spent with my mother."

Do you have a lucky charm?
"My yorkie, Jeremiah."

Which mode of transportation do you prefer - planes, trains or automobiles?
"I love the loud engine of my Mustang."

Who is your dream duet partner?
"Vince Gill or Jamie O'Neal."

On the Web: www.rissipalmer.com

 

CMA New Artist Spotlight: Sarah Johns

By Bob Doerschuk
© 2007 CMA Close Up News Service

 

 

Like the sound of her music, the story of Sarah Johns is classic. Raised in a fly-speck Kentucky town, with a father so strict that she was punished when caught listening to a Faith Hill album, Johns learned to raise her head and sing in church before mastering the art of telling life's sad and joyful tales by singing a Country song.

Johns didn't start performing until after she'd enrolled at the University of Kentucky at Lexington, but a long residency at Regatta's seafood restaurant sharpened her skills to the point that she felt good about quitting school, bidding her boyfriend adieu and heading down to Nashville to build a career from scratch.

Eventually she won an invitation from Toby Keith's manager, who had caught her act back at Regatta, to do two songs on one of his client's tours. She chose a pair of originals, the rollicking "When Do I Get to Be a Woman" and the kiss-off anthem "The One in the Middle," probably the rowdiest celebration of a particular finger set to music in recent years.

The response she earned led straight to a record deal with BNA Records and a debut album, Big Love in a Small Town, produced by Joe Scaife and loaded with both of those barn-burners plus nine more songs that include a wickedly funny ode to love at first sight ("He Hates Me") and power ballads ("Touch Me" and "Baby My Heart") that add raw physical spice into her formula for romance. All of these bear her co-writing credit and reflect the promise that Johns has lots more to say with her pen, her voice, her country-bred charisma and maybe that middle digit every now and then.

PHOTO BY RUSS HARRINGTON

BNA recording artist Sarah Johns.

IN HER OWN WORDS

What CD is on your stereo?
"George Jones' My Very Special Guests. I warm up my voice singing along with this album."

Who is your dream duet partner?
"Loretta Lynn, because I'm as feisty as she is."

What's your pet peeve?
"People who don't give 100 percent."

What word or phrase do you find yourself saying over and over again?
"What city are we in?"

Do you have a lucky charm?
"A horseshoe ring that my father gave to my mom on the day I was born - oh, and a push-up bra."

On the Web: www.sarahjohns.com

 

 

Win One of Three Special Prizes from Downtown Hoedown group The Road Hammers

AmericaJR.com announces that The Road Hammers will perform at the Downtown Hoedown on Saturday, May 10, 2008. In support of their upcoming performance, we're giving away three prizes to three separate winners: an autographed hat, a t-shirt and three stickers. The Road Hammers is an award-winning Canadian Country music group composed of Jason McCoy, Clayton Bellamy, Chris Byrne and Corbett Frasz. Their first self-titled album included remakes of several classic truck-driving songs.

Win an autographed copy of Downtown Hoedown group Little Big Town's album "The Road to Here" and a copy of their latest release "A Place to Land"

AmericaJR.com announces that Little Big Town will perform at the Downtown Hoedown on Saturday, May 10, 2008. In support of their upcoming performances, we're giving away four autographed copies of the album "The Road to Here" along with four copies of their latest release "A Place to Land". Four second-place winners will receive a copy of the Little Big Town album "A Place to Land". Its lead-off single, "I'm with the Band", has peaked at #32 on the country charts. The second single from the album, "Fine Line", is set for release in the spring of 2008. Courtesy of the Equity Music Group.

Win an autographed copy of Downtown Hoedown artist Phil Stacey's self-titled debut album

AmericaJR.com announces that Phil Stacey will perform at the Downtown Hoedown on Friday, May 9, 2008. In support of his upcoming performance, we're giving away five autographed copies of his self-titled debut album. Phil Stacey was a finalist on the sixth season of American Idol, where he performed for an average of 30 million viewers for the eleven weeks he competed on the series. Phil's debut single, "If You Didn't Love Me" is climbing the country charts. The track is produced by Wayne Kirkpatrick and co-written by Rascal Flatts' Gary Levox.

Win a copy of James Otto's latest album "Sunset Man", courtesy of Warner Bros. Nashville Records

AmericaJR.com has teamed up with Warner Bros. Nashville Records to give you the chance to win a copy of James Otto's new album "Sunset Man." It features the hit single "Just Got Started Lovin' You". Sunset Man, was released in April 2008, produced by John Rich (of Big & Rich) and Jay DeMarcus (of Rascal Flatts), the latter of whom is Otto's brother-in-law. In 1998, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and began attending songwriters' nights there; three years later, he joined the MuzikMafia, a group of country music songwriters which includes Big & Rich and Gretchen Wilson.

Win a copy of Downtown Hoedown artist Ashton Shepherd's debut album "Sounds So Good"

Ashton Shepherd performed at the Downtown Hoedown on Sunday, May 11, 2008. Now, we're giving away three copies of her latest album, Sounds So Good. She was signed to Universal Music Group Nashville's MCA Nashville division in April of 2007. Her debut single, "Takin' Off This Pain", was released in September 2007, the same month in which Ashton made her debut on the Grand Ole Opry. She also received a boost in visibility after appearing on CMT's Unplugged at Studio 330 Television program and subsequent interview March 5, 2008.

 

* Win a Free AmericaJR T-Shirt and Wear it to the Hoedown *

 

 

Return to the Downtown Hoedown section.

Detroit's Downtown Hoedown is known as the World's Largest Free Country Concert. The event is held each year at Hart Plaza along Detroit's Beautiful Riverfront bordering Windsor, Ontario. It is a three-day event featuring music, dancing and fun for all ages. The music portion is filled with local bands, newcomers and established artists.

 

 

 

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