28 songs in 28 days: Eric Church’s new album is “as far out there as I’ve gotten”

ABC AudioEric Church doesn't do things like everyone else, and nothing underscores that like the way he created the songs for his new album.

Wearing regular glasses instead of his signature shades, The Chief gave the keynote address at Country Radio Seminar in Nashville on Thursday. The theme was "Chasing Creativity," and he certainly did that with his new project. 

"It was time to do something nuts," he admitted.

To that end, Eric and his band took over a restaurant in the mountains of North Carolina that's closed in the winter, moved all their recording gear in, and set a goal of writing and recording 28 songs in 28 days. 

"I would write a song in the morning, and we'd cut it that night," he explained.  "For me, it's as far out there as I've gotten. But I think by getting that far out there, it really opened up some really great stuff, 'cause I was really locked in creatively: My antenna was up."

"Looking back on what came out of it, it was exactly what had to happen," he explained. "Everybody had to be uncomfortable, including the producer, the band, the writers...they had no clue what they were in for.  I think all that is what made it great."

Asked how many of those 28 songs are actually good, Eric said he's trying to determine that now, but he thinks, "a lot." 

He then played one of the songs, which is either called "Jenny" or "Jenny Let's Go."  He explained that it was inspired by the people who kept on telling him during the recording process that the generator -- which they called a "genny" -- wasn't working.

No word on when we can expect Eric's new music, which will be the follow-up to 2018's Desperate Man.

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Carrie, Keith, Luke, Reba & more rock Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium at CRS Event

ABC AudioCarrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan and Reba McEntire, all on the same bill?  That's what fans got to enjoy Thursday during Country Radio Seminar, as the UMG record label group hosted its 11th annual luncheon and performance event at Nashville's iconic Ryman Auditorium.

Each year, the label group takes over the venue to showcase its lineup of superstars and rising acts.  The show usually ends with a performance from a surprise artist, and this time it was Reba. 

The country legend has re-signed with MCA Records, the label on which she scored many of her biggest hits, and marked the occasion Thursday by singing her 1984 number one hit "How Blue," as well as "And Still" and "Fancy." 

Carrie Underwood had never taken part in the Ryman event, so fans were thrilled to see her step onstage.  She sang a song which she hadn't performed on her current tour because, she said, it's so personal: "Spinning Bottles" from her Cry Pretty album.

Last year at this event, Keith Urban premiered his song "We Were" and on Thursday, he premiered another new song, "God Whispered Your Name."   And since Carrie was in the house, of course Keith brought her out to sing their hit duet "The Fighter" -- and the audience went wild.

Luke Bryan nearly took the stage without his band, who showed up at the last minute due to, of all things, parking problems.  He performed the title track of his upcoming album Born Here Live Here Die Here.

Dierks Bentley's 90s parody group Hot Country Knights opened the show with "Pick Her Up," complete with mullet wigs, sunglasses, cut off midriff shirts and super-tight jeans.  Dierks actually reached into the fly of his jeans and pulled out a flute, which he then played -- or pretended to play.

Here's who else played what at the event:

Sam Hunt: A new song from his Southside album, "2016"

Jon Pardi: "Ain't Always the Cowboy," from Heartache Medication

Brothers Osborne: A bluesy new song which may be called "Skeletons"

Kip Moore: "She's Mine," in a medley with another song which may be called "Janie Blue"

Travis Denning: "Abby" (which stands for "Any body but you")

Brandon Lay: "For My Money"

Mickey Guyton: "What Are You Gonna Tell Her"

Parker McCollum: "Pretty Heart"

Caylee Hammack:  "Small Town Hypocrite"

Adam Hambrick: "Forever Ain't Long Enough"

Kylie Morgan: "I Break Things"

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“It was so much bigger than us”: Rascal Flatts discuss their 20-year career and farewell tour

ABC AudioWednesday at Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, Rascal Flatts came together for a retrospective look at their 20-year career, which will come to a close in October when they wrap up their farewell tour.

The chart-topping trio discussed their many achievements, such as winning the CMA's Horizon Award, becoming members of the Grand Ole Opry and picking "killer songs" -- classics such as "Bless the Broken Road," "What Hurts the Most" and "My Wish" -- which Gary LeVox described as "songs that have saved lives throughout the world."

Despite the group using the words "sad" and "bittersweet" to describe the impending finale of their touring career, there were still plenty of moments of levity -- mostly made by Jay DeMarcus.  He, Gary and Joe Don Rooney poked plenty of fun at their questionable fashion choices over the years, and shared some hilarious stories about their video shoots.

When asked to sum things up, each man spoke from the heart about the effect that his band mates have had on him.

"Both of you guys saved my life, and gave me reason and purpose," said Jay.  "It's been an amazing ride, and I can't imagine going through all we've gone through in the past 20 years without you guys....I love you both."

Gary spoke about the milestones the group achieved, such as selling out Madison Square Garden and playing Wrigley Field.  "The impact that we had...it was so much bigger than us, and we'll miss it for sure," he noted.

As for Joe Don, he added, "The connection the three of us have together is so powerful and so special...now way could I have hand-picked two other people in this world to do this with. What a blessing it's been."

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“I’m most proud of the honesty”: Miranda Lambert talks about her life and career at CRS in Nashville

ABC AudioOn her way to perform eight shows in ten days, Miranda Lambert stopped off to make an appearance at Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, TN on Wednesday.  In a rare intimate conversation, Miranda talked about her earliest days making music, her current album Wildcard, and more.

Miranda, who said that she was such a shy kid that she wouldn't even order by herself at McDonald's,  recalled that her first public performance came in the third grade, when she sang Holly Dunn's hit "Daddy's Hands" in the school talent show. Not long after, she wrote her first song, about a girl named Mandy Lee going to Nashville to become a star.   Her little brother said it wasn't that great but noted she was "getting there."

After that, Miranda entered a competition and came in third, which landed her a house gig at a bar at the age of 17.  Onstage, she recalled, "My personality came alive."  After that, she auditioned for Nashville Star and bombed, because, she says, she didn't put any effort into it. Her mom forced her to re-audition in a different city -- she sang "Crazy" a cappella and made it.  As most of us know by now, she came in third, and admitted she really didn't want to win.

Miranda then spoke about how making her new album Wildcard was a lot like making her very first album.  Following the somber record that was The Weight of These Wings, Miranda says, she wanted to get back to the kind of sassy, fun material that was on her first album, Kerosene.

Recalling the highlights of her career -- singing with Loretta Lynn, paying tribute to Merle Haggard with Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson, and meeting Dolly Parton -- she admitted that sometimes when she gets down, it helps to remind herself, "You've done some stuff!"

And when asked to say what she's most proud of, Miranda said, "the honesty, and that I've never strayed away from exactly who I am. I've never cut a song I was iffy about...my manager and I have a saying: "If it's a maybe, it's a no."  

And even if her career hasn't always resulted in her topping the charts, she noted, "It's real and it's the truth."

Moving forward, Miranda says, she's looking to "quality not quantity" in her life and adds, "I just try to keep growing and moving forward."

She also treated the crowd to acoustic renditions of two Wildcard songs: "Dark Bars" and "How Dare You Love."

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Demi Lovato warms up for Super Bowl anthem by joining Dan + Shay for “Speechless”

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Bud Light Super Bowl Music FestDemi Lovato and Dan + Shay are both managed by Scooter Braun, and that connection resulted in all three artists singing together on Saturday night.

Dan + Shay performed at the Bud Light Super Bowl Fest in Miami Saturday night, and ahead of that, they met up with Demi backstage, as Braun captured in an Instagram video.

In the video, Dan Smyers, Shay Mooney and Demi are seen rehearsing an acoustic performance of "Speechless." Braun wrote, "Moments when my job allows me to see moments that are just amazing. @ddlovato came to see @danandshay last night and they started talking music and this happened backstage which led to an amazing surprise on stage. Wow."

According to Billboard, that surprise came when Dan + Shay actually took the stage at the festival to sing the track, and Demi left her seat and came onstage to join them. You can watch fan-shot video of the performance now on YouTube.

Demi will sing the anthem tonight before the 49ers take on the Chiefs in Super Bowl 54.  The Jennifer Lopez/Shakira halftime show will also include J. Balvin, Bad Bunny and other surprise guests, according to reports.

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Tanya Tucker, Dan + Shay the big country winners at Sunday’s Grammy Awards

Timothy Kuratek /CBSCountry didn't have a huge presence at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards Sunday night, but there were some notable wins for one veteran performer.

Tanya Tucker won the very first Grammys of her career Sunday night. She'd been nominated for her very first one back in 1973, and prior to this year, had received 10 nods in all.  Going into the Grammys, she had four nominations; she ended up with two. In the pre-telecast ceremony, Tanya won Best Country Album for her latest, While I'm Livin', and Best Country Song for "Bring My Flowers Now," which she co-wrote.

Tanya performed the latter song on the telecast with her musical collaborator and co-writer Brandi Carlile...and then randomly gave out the Grammy for Best Comedy Album.

Willie Nelson, meanwhile, won the Best Country Solo Performance Grammy for "Ride Me Back Home," the title track of his 2019 album.  It was Willie's ninth career Grammy.

Dan + Shay won the Best Country Duo/Group Performance category for "Speechless." On the podium, Dan Smyers thanked his wife Abby for inspiring the song and called the win "one of the coolest moments ever."  Shay Mooney thanked his wife Hannah, who's expecting their second child; he also shouted out the couple's son, Asher.  The two men embraced before leaving the stage.

Blake Shelton and his girlfriend Gwen Stefani had one of the first numbers of the night, singing their new duet "Nobody But You."  They sweetly held each other's hands through the performance.

Little Big Town didn't win for their song "The Daughters," but at the podium while presenting Song of the Year, they got to harmonize with Motown legend Smokey Robinson...so there's that.

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Ousted Recording Academy CEO says she has “evidence” of Grammy nomination rigging

ABC NewsTuesday on ABC's Good Morning America, ousted Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan told her side of the story in a contentious debate that's roiled the music industry just days before the Grammy Awards.

Dugan claims she was pushed out after exposing alleged sexual harassment, nomination rigging, and what she described as a toxic "boy's club" that sidelined women and minority groups. In response, the Recording Academy alleges it was Dugan who created a "toxic and intolerable" work environment and is investigating both Ms. Dugan's alleged potential misconduct and her subsequent allegations.

Regarding the nomination rigging, Dugan told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America Thursday, "There are incidents of conflict of interest that taints the results."

Stephanopoulos then read out loud what's written in her complaint: "One artist who initially ranked 18 out of 20 in the 2019 Song of the Year category ended up with a nomination. This artist was actually permitted to sit on the Song of the Year nomination committee. Incredibly, this artist is also represented by a member of the Board."

"Who is this person?" Stephanopoulos then asked.

Dugan and her lawyer wouldn't reveal the artist's identity, but Dugan went on to say that that alleged incident wasn't an isolated one.

"It's not even just that one room. I have evidence that in another room....there were complaints made in the jazz category," she began, before Stephanopoulos interrupted her, saying, "That was gonna be my next question, so you do have evidence?

"I do," she responded.

As a reminder, last year's Song of the Year winner was Childish Gambino's "This Is America."  The other nominees were Lady Gaga's "Shallow," "All the Stars" by Kendrick Lamar and SZA, "Boo'd Up" by Ella Mai, "God's Plan" by Drake, "In My Blood" by Shawn Mendes, "The Middle" by Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey, and "The Joke," by Brandi Carlile.

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No stadium, no problem: You can “Chillax” in amphitheaters with Kenny Chesney in 2020

Allister Ann Kenny Chesney is returning to stadiums in 2020, but if you want to see him in a more intimate setting -- well, relatively intimate -- here's some good news: He just announced 18 amphitheater shows as well.

Those smaller shows on Kenny's Chillaxification tour will feature his friends Michael Franti & Spearhead, and kick off May 7 in West Palm Beach, Florida's Coral Sky Amphitheater, the same venue where he launched his headlining career years ago. The amphitheater dates will be threaded among the stadium dates, which begin April 18 in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

“As crazy and awesome as the stadium shows are -- and there’s nothing like them -- there is a vibe to the amphitheater shows that only happens in those places,” Kenny says in a statement. “You look out at the lawn, you see everybody coming together, singing the songs -- and it’s this community that feels so close.”

Tickets go on sale January 24 for select cities, via Live Nation's Country Megaticket, at Megaticket.com. Other cities will go on sale individually.

The final amphitheater date will be August 26 in Columbia, Maryland, while the entire Chillaxification tour wraps up August 29 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

As for the difference in the stadium shows and the smaller shows, Kenny says, "We make sure we play all the same songs, but there’s a looseness in the amphitheaters -- and with only two acts, there’s also a different kind of intensity. Bringing Michael Franti & Spearhead is going to keep the energy up in a big way, and No Shoes Nation is going to really love them.”

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Dan + Shay to spend “10,000 Hours” on the ice at NHL Winter Classic

ABC/Image Group LADan + Shay will provide the entertainment at the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, an outdoor match up between the Nashville Predators and the Dallas Stars that'll take place outdoors on New Year's Day at Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas.

The duo will perform during the game's first intermission, and it'll be televised on NBC in the U.S. and on Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada at 2 p.m. ET.  Additional performers will be announced soon.

Considering that Dan + Shay's latest hit "10,000 Hours" features Justin Bieber, who, being Canadian, is a massive hockey fan, perhaps it's not out of the realm of possibility that he might show up for the performance.  We'll just have to wait and see.

The 2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic is the first regular NHL regular-season outdoor game for both teams, and is part of a tradition the league established in 2008.

And speaking of Bridgestone, Dan + Shay's 2020 headlining tour kicks off March 6 at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.

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Midland postpones dates due to “medical emergency” following birth of Mark Wystrach’s baby

ABC/Image Group LAMidland front man Mark Wystrach and his wife Ty welcomed a baby daughter this holiday weekend, but unfortunately, the band has been forced to postpone their tour dates because there were complications.

"We regretfully must postpone our upcoming tour due to a medical emergency following the birth of Mark and Ty’s baby," the band wrote on Twitter. "His daughter is expected to make a full recovery, but Mark is unable to be away from home until that happens."

"We are all incredibly saddened to delay the tour and are working hard to reschedule for next year," the statement continues. "Mark and Ty will share more info when they feel comfortable. Further information on the rescheduled dates and refund details if unable to attend will be released next week."

Midland was set to perform in the U.K. and the Netherlands early next month, and they had some U.S. tour dates scheduled for January and February as well.

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