Love and Theft Shares Their March Madness Picks

Sony Music NashvilleLove and Theft’s Eric Gunderson and Stephen Barker Liles have formed an NCAA March Madness bracket group for themselves and a few guys in their crew, but the name of the group takes some explaining.

The guys just returned from a tour of Australia, and Stephen says, “We named [bracket group] ‘Lee Kernaghan,’ ’cause he’s the Garth Brooks of country music in Australia.”

Eric adds, “We’re new fans, so everything we do involves Lee Kernaghan.”

Odd bracket group name aside, Stephen and Eric have some pretty solid picks for this year’s college basketball tournament.

Says Stephen, “I picked Oklahoma. My brother-in-law is one of the coaches. They’re number-five seed. They’ve been ranked in the top 20 for the better part of the year, so they got a good team.”

Stephen also expects big things from Louisville and Kentucky this month. Eric, who hails from North Carolina, doesn’t expect the Tarheels to go very far in the tournament.

He says, “I have Iowa State going pretty far. Wichita State going to Sweet 16, so we’ll see what happens.”

On the music front, Love and Theft’s new single, “Night That You’ll Never Forget,” has just been released to radio. Look for a new album to follow soon.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Johnny Cash’s Great-Niece Murdered in Tennessee Home

JohnnyCash.comJohnny Cash‘s great-niece was found stabbed to death and stuffed in a box Wednesday in Baxter, TN, 100 miles east Nashville. According to Nashville ABC affiliate WKRN, Courtney Cash was killed in an altercation early Wednesday morning. Her boyfriend, Austin Johnson, managed to escape and drive himself to the hospital. He has been transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The couple’s young daughter was in the home at the time of the attack, but she was uninjured.

Wayne Gary Masciarella has been charged with first degree murder and is now in custody.

Tommy Cash, Johnny Cash’s youngest brother, released a statement on behalf of the family saying they are “completely heartbroken.”

He says, “Courtney and her boyfriend are beloved members of my family and like you we have a lot of questions and emotions that we are beginning to sort through today. We ask for you to respect our privacy and appreciate all the support that the public and media has always offered my family, as we handle the loss of my granddaughter, pray for the father of my great grandchild and journey through the search for justice on this violent act. “

The statement continues, “It is a time like this that we are grateful for our faith and trusting the loving guidance of God.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Clay Walker Recruits Montgomery Gentry and Dustin Lynch for Chords of Hope Benefit Concert

C2 Media RelationsClay Walker will host his 5th annual Chords of Hope Benefit Concert Tuesday, June 3 at Nashville’s 3rd & Lindsley. Montgomery Gentry and Dustin Lynch join Clay on the bill, with proceeds going to raise money and awareness in the fight against multiple sclerosis.

Clay, who was diagnosed with MS in the mid-’90s, says, “Chords of Hope is my chance to raise awareness of MS in the Nashville community and come together with amazing artists to put on a great show.  With Montgomery Gentry and Dustin Lynch’s help, this is sure to be our best one yet!”

Tickets for the concert are now on sale at

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Merle Haggard to Be Honored with New Tribute Album, ACM Crystal Milestone Award

MerleHaggard.comLuke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Toby Keith and Dierks Bentley are among the stars singing Merle Haggard classics on the new compilation, Working Man’s Poet: A Tribute to Merle Haggard. The project comes out April 1, just before Merle receives the Crystal Milestone award on the ACM Awards April 6. A multi-artist tribute segment is planned for the broadcast that night on CBS recognizing Merle’s 50th anniversary in country music.

Working Man’s Poet will be available everywhere digitally, but you can only buy a physical copy of the album at Walmart. The physical version includes Garth Brooks‘ version of Merle’s “The Bottle Let Me Down,” which Garth included on his Blame It All on My Roots box set last year.

Luke and Dierks teamed up to recreate Merle’s 1983 hit with Willie Nelson, “Pancho and Lefty.” Instead of going with the original “Spanish-Mexican” feel, Dierks and Luke gave their version of  “Pancho and Lefty” a Mumford & Sons vibe.  Luke describes it to USA Today as “something with some edge that moves along pretty good. It’s an interesting take.”

Jake Owen, Randy Houser, Joe Nichols and Thompson Square are also featured on Working Man’s Poet.  Here’s the track listing for Working Man’s Poet: A Tribute to Merle Haggard:

“Misery and Gin,” Randy Houser
“Footlights,” Joe Nichols
“Going Where the Lonely Go,” Jason Aldean
“Today I Started Loving You Again,” Kristy Lee Cook
“Carolyn,” Toby Keith
“Pancho and Lefty,” Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley
“Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down,” Garth Brooks (Walmart edition only)
“You Take Me for Granted,” Thompson Square
“Mama Tried,” Ben Haggard
“That’s the Way Love Goes,” Dustin Lynch
“Make Up and Faded Blue Jeans,” Jake Owen
“I’m a Lonesome Fugitive,” James Wesley
“Workin’ Man Blues,” Parmalee
“Are the Good Times Really Over,” Jason Aldean
“Let’s Chase Each Other Around the Room,” Thompson Square
“I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink,” Dustin Lynch
“The Fightin’ Side of Me,” James Wesley
“My Favorite Memory,” Joe Nichols
“Ramblin’ Fever,” Randy Houser
“Sing Me Back Home,” Ben Haggard

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood Making the Move Back to Nashville

Sunshine SachsGarth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood are moving back to Nashville once Garth’s youngest daughter leaves for college this fall. They’ve been based in Oklahoma since tying the knot in 2005 to be close to Garth’s three daughters from his previous marriage. They want to be back in Music City now that they’re preparing to head out on a massive world tour.

Trisha tells, “There’s an energy about Nashville that I love and I miss. And it’s so awesome right now. It has a new energy that’s so cool. And it makes sense because it’s been a bit of a challenge to not live there and to have to fly in and out for work.”

Trisha continues her current solo tour March 26 with a show in Austin, TX.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Country Star Trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockWhat is the name of the band Cassadee Pope fronted before winning The Voice? ANSWER: Hey Monday.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Nashville Notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockJournalist Dan Rather will guest announce the Grand Ole Opry Friday night.

Chris Young‘s new video for “Who I Am with You” is now airing exclusively on CMT.

Lady Antebellum has been welcoming their opening acts Kacey Musgraves and Kip Moore on stage during the Take Me Downtown tour for a group performance of Fleetwood Mac‘s “Landslide.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Cassadee Pope Reveals the Secret to Winning Singing Competitions

Photo Credit: Sarah MontgomeryA lot of kids hit the beach during their spring break, but Cassadee Pope actually grew up in West Palm Beach, FL. That’s why she spent her time out of school competing in singing competitions.

Cassadee tells ABC News Radio, “I started performing live at about four years old, and I would go to local competitions — get my experience in there. Yeah, that’s really where most of my spare time went.”

Cassadee often tried to perform towards the beginning of the talent competitions so the judges would be fresh when giving her scores.

“Sometimes towards the end they’re tired and they’re over it,” Cassadee explains. “So, they might be like, ‘Ugh, zero.’ You know, ’cause they just want to get out of there.”

That experience obviously paid off since Cassadee went on to win The Voice.

Of note, Cassadee was presented with a platinum plaque for her debut single, “Wasting All These Tears,” while performing on the Grand Ole Opry Tuesday night in Nashville.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Thompson Square Spending This Month Overseas Entertaining Sailors

Thompson Sqaure via InstagramThompson Square is spending this month overseas entertaining servicemen and women in the U.S. Navy. They’ve already performed in Japan, but the rest of their trek is being kept under wraps due to security concerns. Having their own headlining tour meant the duo’s Keifer and Shawna Thompson could take the time to really support the troops. They both have very personal connections to the military.

Shawna tells ABC News Radio, “My dad was in Vietnam. Through the years, through his having bad health and stuff, I would go down to the VA with him and meet all the other vets and all that stuff. So, it’s really important to us to give back.”

Keifer’s father was in the army, too, and Shawna’s cousin is currently serving in Afghanistan.

Says Keifer, “We got a yellow ribbon around the tree.”

You can see photos of Thompson Square’s overseas tour on their Instagram account.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Dwight Yoakam Lands Role on “Under the Dome”

Warner Bros. RecordsDwight Yoakam has landed a recurring role in season two of CBS’ summer hit, Under the Dome.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, he’ll play a barbershop owner named Lyle Chumley, who has a mysterious connection to the Dome.

Lyle also has a complicated history with Dean Norris‘ Big Jim, because he was once romantically linked to Big Jim’s late wife, Pauline.

Under the Dome will begin its second season on June 30.

Dwight’s most recent TV credit is the FX comedy Wilfred. He had a recurring role on that show last year.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio