Kane Brown’s proudly “pop-country” on his new ‘Mixtape’ that rolls “all [his] sounds into one”

Matthew BerinatoAs Kane Brown's Mixtape Vol. 1 arrives today, it's more than just the precursor to his full-length third album. 

With non-country guests like Swae LeeKhalid, and John Legend, it's his most diverse collection yet, and very likely the most accurate representation of his musical DNA. 

"When I was starting to get into the music business," Kane recalls, "I always would tell my friends, I was like, 'I want to be an artist that can do everything.'"

"I think rap would be the only thing that I would hold out [on doing]..." he adds. "I love music in general. Country music always has my heart. I'll never leave country music. But it's cool to be able to, you know, do all these things."

In fact, Kane's happy to take what some might consider a criticism and proudly own it. 

"When everybody's like 'Oh, this is pop-country,' yeah, I'm a pop-country artist," he declares. "And this EP's kind of just showing everybody that."

"It's like, I have a song with Swae Lee and Khalid. My album's gonna have a song with [R&B singer/songwriter] H.E.R. on it," he teases. "There's probably gonna be some other artists -- like features -- on there."

But the Chattanooga, Tennessee native is equally proud of the countriest track on the new set.

"I like having 'BFE' on there," he explains, "because it's kind of like, 'This is what I grew up on, the nineties sound of country music.' But that's why I called it the Mixtape is because it's like all of my sounds into one."

The set also features his current top ten hit, "Cool Again."

It's his first collection of new music since 2018's chart-topping Experiment.

By Stephen Hubbard
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Nashville notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockBlake Shelton’s Ole Red bar franchise is launching a “Battle of the Bands” competition series on August 19. The fan-voted weekly event will take place across all four locations, and the winner will receive a monetary prize along with bragging rights.

Lucas Hoge has unveiled the great outdoors-themed music video for his new song, “Wishin’ I Was Fishin’.”

Rising trio Temecula Road is on deck to perform the national anthem before this weekend’s UNOH 188 event. The race will take place on Saturday, August 15 at the Daytona Road Course; the band’s appearance, however, will be virtual.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Morgan Wallen, Gabby Barrett and more ACM New Artist nominees revisit Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again”

Warner Music Nashville/Academy of Country MusicIt’s been four decades since Willie Nelson released his classic “On the Road Again,” but during the COVID-19 pandemic, when touring artists are stuck at home, its lyrics feel more timely than ever.

That’s why Morgan Wallen, Gabby Barrett, Jordan Davis, Lindsay Ell and many more teamed up to channel their off-the-road blues into a collaborative new version of the tune. All of this year’s ACM New Artist nominees participate in the track, also including Caylee Hammack, Riley Green, Russell Dickerson, Cody Johnson, Tenille Townes and Ingrid Andress. Willie himself chimes in for a verse, too.

“That’s our cry right now,” Russell tells People of the song’s yearning to hit the open highway. “That’s our anthem. I can’t wait to be on the road with all my friends.”

In the meantime, the song will help put some money towards a good cause. Proceeds from “On the Road Again (ACM Lifting Lives Edition)” will benefit the ACM Lifting Lives COVID-19 Response Fund, supporting individuals in the country music community affected by the pandemic.

As New Artist nominees, all the song’s participants are up for trophies at the 2020 ACM Awards. They were originally planning to find out who the winners were back in April, when the ceremony was first scheduled to take place.

Due to the pandemic, though, the ACM Awards ceremony was pushed to fall. It’s currently scheduled to take place on September 16 in Nashville.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Mickey Guyton is building ‘Bridges’ with her just-announced new EP

Phylicia J. L. Munn Mickey Guyton has been building momentum over the course of 2020 with songs like “Black Like Me,” “Heaven Down Here” and “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” Now, the singer is ready to share all the details of her next project.

Mickey will release a six-song EP called Bridges on September 11, featuring the three songs she’s already shared, along with three more as-yet-unheard originals.

In a statement, the singer explains that the songs on the EP are the result of a productive, if sometimes painful, creative growth spurt she underwent over the past couple of years.

“Two years ago, this project didn’t even feel like it was a possibility,” Mickey explains. “This EP proves that in your darkest moments, you can have your biggest breakthroughs.”

Mickey’s new music was also inspired by her reflections during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the new chapter of the Civil Rights movement that emerged in 2020, with people turning out across the country to protest against racism and police brutality.

“I think back to all of the obstacles in my life and career, including writing and recording most of this EP in quarantine during a time of social unrest, and how it has all led to the birth of this beautiful project,” Mickey recalls. “I hope these songs provide others with the same happiness and strength they have provided me in these uncertain times.”

Here’s the full track list of Bridges:

“Heaven Down Here”
“What Are You Gonna Tell Her?”
“Black Like Me”

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Lee Brice, Justin Moore and other acts sign on for virtual #FarmOn benefit show

Erika Goldring/Getty ImagesLee Brice is the headlining act for America’s Farmers #FarmOn Benefit Concert, a virtual event scheduled to take place at 7PM CT on August 27.

Spearheaded by the agricultural community’s Farm Journal and Syngenta and NK brand seeds, the show will serve as the grand finale to this year’s Farm Journal Field Days show, a three-day conference event for farmers which is also going virtual this year.

In addition to Lee’s performance, other acts set to appear include Justin Moore, Rodney Atkins and The Peterson Farm Brothers.

Proceeds from the show will go toward the Nation 4-H Council’s FOURWARD Fund, which was created to help ensure that children across the country, from all economic backgrounds, have access to necessary educational resources and opportunities.

The concert will air live on RFD-TV and across Farm Journal’s social platforms.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

“There’s such a thing as innocent ignorance”: Dolly Parton reflects on the importance of equality

ABC/Image Group LA2020 has brought a rejuvenated push for equality, with nationwide protests in response to the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, and a renewed momentum behind the Civil Rights movement.

That social climate has touched the country world, with The Chicks dropping “Dixie” from their name and country trio Lady A leaving “Antebellum” behind.

But as usual, Dolly Parton was a little ahead of the curve.

In 2018, she changed the name of her Dixie Stampede dinner attraction to Dolly Parton’s Stampede after becoming more aware of the painful connotations of the word “Dixie.”

“There’s such a thing as innocent ignorance, and so many of us are guilty of that,” the superstar tells Billboard in a new cover profile for the magazine's Country Power Players 2020 issue. “As soon as you realize that [something] is a problem, you should fix it. Don’t be a dumba**. That’s where my heart is. I would never dream of hurting anybody on purpose.”

And while she hasn’t attended any of the protests or marches this year in person, Dolly says she stands firmly in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I understand people having to make themselves known and felt and seen,” she adds. “And of course Black lives matter. Do we think our little white a**es are the only ones that matter? No!”

During the pandemic and uncertainties that have been the hallmark of 2020, Dolly has prioritized sharing soothing messages with her fans. She released an uplifting new song called “When Life Is Good Again,” and recently announced that she’s about to release a holiday album called A Holly Dolly Christmas.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Luke Bryan got a little weepy during son Tate’s 10th birthday surprise

ABC/Image Group LALuke Bryan’s son, Tate, turned 10 years old this week, and his family celebrated the occasion with an unforgettable surprise. 

Luke posted a video of the special moment on social media, beginning with a shot of the birthday boy and his mom, Caroline, sitting in their kitchen. “There is one little surprise for your birthday,” Caroline tells Tate.

All of the sudden, in walks Luke’s nephew, Til Cheshire, who came home from college just to celebrate Tate’s birthday. Tate runs over and tackles Til with a hug as the two Bryan boys enjoy a sweet reunion.

But Tate wasn’t the only one who had an emotional reaction to the surprise.

“Omg. I’m crying,” wrote Luke in the caption of his post. “Tate just got his 10th birthday surprise. Til!!! Happy birthday buddy.”

In fact, the past few weeks have been bittersweet for everyone in the Bryan household, as Luke and Caroline dropped Til off for his freshman year of college in early August. On social media, Caroline admitted that although she was proud of her nephew for taking his first steps as an adult, she had “been dreading this day for years.”

The country superstar couple adopted Til and his two sisters, Jordan and Kris, after the death of the singer’s brother-in-law, Ben Lee Cheshire, in 2014. Ben was married to the singer’s sister, Kelly, who unexpectedly died in 2007.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Country star trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockOn this date in 1973, a country legend released her 23rd studio album, Love is the Foundation. It topped the country charts, and the album's title track also became a number-one hit. Can you name this artist? ANSWER: Loretta Lynn.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

After some Twitter confusion, Blake Shelton delivers answer to fans still waiting on refunds for canceled shows

ABC/Mark LevineEarlier this week, fans took to Twitter to alert Blake Shelton about some confusion surrounding his canceled 2020 Friends and Heroes Tour Dates.

Apparently, some people who’d bought tickets to now-canceled shows in five cities -- Omaha, Denver, Chicago, Milwaukee and Detroit -- subsequently found that they were unable to access the promised refunds. Blake quickly lept into action, assuring fans that he and his crew “in NO WAY want to mislead or delay people getting their refunds...This is awful.”

Once he dug into the ticketing issue and realized how many third-party vendors were involved, he admitted to fans that the problem was a complicated “web” but he was committed to getting to the bottom of it.

Then just hours later, Blake issued a statement to help resolve the problem. Concert-goers who purchased their tickets through Ticketmaster should log into their account and click “REFUND” under their order for seats at Blake’s canceled show.

Those who bought tickets through a third-party vendor should consult the point of purchase. Anyone who encounters further issues, Blake added, can email his team directly at blakeshelton2020@messinatouring.com.

The singer also issued a video statement to clarify that the Friends and Heroes Tour is indeed canceled -- not postponed -- although he plans to make stops at the same markets as soon as it is safe to do so.

“I have no idea at this point when that’s gonna be. Hopefully as soon as they say we can go tour again, we’ll be one of the first tours back out there. But I wanna be clear, it won’t be the Friends and Heroes Tour,” Blake explained.

Anyone who wishes to hold on to their ticket will have a guaranteed seat at the show when Blake is able to perform in their city again.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘heart theory’ adjustment: Kane Brown told Lindsay Ell to be a “bad girl”

Broken BowLindsay Ell's sophomore album, heart theory, arrives Friday, and the co-writer of her latest single, Kane Brown, had his own theory about what might be missing in her repertoire.

"I basically just said, 'You need to have that bad girl attitude that Carrie Underwood used to have, 'Before He Cheats' and all that. And, you know, Miranda Lambert used to have,'" Kane reveals. "Back then, they were basically doing what the guys are doing today. Just saying, like 'You need me,' basically. I was like, 'You just need to have that attitude.'"

By the time "wAnt me back" was finished, Kane was ready to record it himself.

"I ended up loving the song and I told her, I was like, 'If you don't cut this, I'll cut it. I'm gonna have to change some lyrics, but I'll do it,'" he recalls.

To celebrate her second album, the Canadian chart-topper has planned a pretty ambitious event: an entire day, live on the internet.

"I'm starting Thursday at midnight Eastern, so 11 p.m. Central," Lindsay tells ABC Audio, "and then going to Friday at 11 p.m. Central. It's going to be a very long day."

"I'm going to have my band come probably, and we'll jam a bit," she explains. "I'm gonna be interviewing guests. Basically, I want to showcase [the album for] every time zone around the world."

"I'm gonna be maybe taking a nap," she smiles, "maybe eating, making food. I don't know what we're gonna do. I have 24 hours to fill. So if you have any ideas, let me know." 

Lindsay's currently up for two ACM trophies on the strength of her number-one single with Brantley Gilbert, "What Happens in a Small Town." 

Kane's new EP, Mixtape Vol. 1, comes out Friday as well.

By Stephen Hubbard
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.