Little Big Town’s Jimi Westbrook Using Humor to Recover from Vocal Cord Surgery

Capitol NashvilleLittle Big Town‘s Jimi Westbrook is in great spirts as he recovers from his recent vocal cord surgery. In fact, he could just leave the band to start a comedy career according to his band mates.

LBT’s Phillip Sweet says, “He’s gotten very creative with his texting. He’s more hilarious now that he can’t talk.”

Kimberly Schlapman adds, “He’s always been funny, but he’s become a little comedian in his vocal silence.”

When Jimi started having vocal trouble, he talked with pal Keith Urban, who went through vocal cord surgery a few years back. Keith recommended the doctor that performed Jimi’s surgery and provided a lot of encouragement along the way, too.

Says Kimberly, “When you’re in that situation, you just want to talk to somebody who’s been there, and Keith had been there, and he came through it very successfully. He’s singing like never before. So, that was really good for Jimi to hear.”

Jimi should be back singing with Little Big Town very soon, but Kimberly has warned him to stick to his own vocal part.

She says, “He’s gonna be back at it, and I told him he better not come back and sing higher than me. I’m gonna be mad.”

Little Big Town will return to the stage July 31 with a show at the Delaware State Fair.

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Alan Jackson’s Mysterious Songwriting Talent Is in Full Effect on New Album, “Angels and Alcohol”

ACR/EMIAlan Jackson‘s first new studio album in three years, Angels and Alcohol, is out Friday featuring his latest single, “Jim and Jack and Hank,” and the title cut. Both of those songs deal with turning to the bottle to deal with heartache, and that’s a subject Alan has written about many times before.

He tells ABC Radio, “Somebody said I had a lot of drinking songs on there. I said, ‘Well, I pretty much always do have two or three on an album.'”

As for that title cut, Alan had that phrase “Angels and Alcohol” tucked away for several years.

He says, “It sounded like a song, and I hadn’t written it. It just kind of spilled out this time the way it did. It’s just one of my favorite cuts on the album.”

Of course, songs like “Angels and Alcohol” or country classics such as “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” and “Midnight in Montgomery” don’t just “spill out” of most people. We asked Alan where his songwriting talent comes from, and he admits he’s never analyzed it too much.

“I’ve never understood where it comes from with me,” Alan explains. “I never read much or didn’t study music and never had any training. I think it’s just something I was blessed with. It just comes out sometimes. I never have quite understood it, but I’m glad it’s working.”

Alan wrote seven of the 10 songs on Angels and Alcohol, and you’ll recognize some ongoing themes on the album if you’re a longtime fan. In fact, the opening track, “You Can Always Come Home,” could be the next chapter in the autobiographical story Alan started telling on his early hit, “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow,” and continued with “Drive (For Daddy Gene).” Just as he moved from Georgia to Nashville to chase his dream of country music stardom, Alan’s middle daughter, Ali, recently moved to California to find her calling in life. “You Can Always Come Home” is Alan’s way of passing on some advice his dad gave him when he left home.

Alan says, “Moving to Nashville was just a huge risk and scary event for me to move up there. I just remember my daddy, he didn’t know anything about the music business or anything. Neither did I, but he said, you know, ‘You can always come home. If it doesn’t work out, you can always come home.’ I always remembered that, and I wrote that in that song.”

Angels and Alcohol comes out just a little over 25 years after Alan’s debut album, Here in the Real World, hit stores in 1990.

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Nashville Notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockRosanne Cash and “Live Like You Were Dying” songwriter Craig Wiseman are going into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame this October.

Tim McGraw performs his Concert for Sandy Hook Promise Friday night at the XFinity Theatre in Hartford, Connecticut. Proceeds benefit Sandy Hook Promise, an organization founded in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut  that seeks to help protect children from gun violence.

Alan Jackson performs on NBC’s Today Friday morning in support of his new album, Angels and Alcohol.

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Brantley Gilbert Posts New Video Recapping His Wounded Warriors Project Bike Ride

Republic NashvilleBrantley Gilbert has posted a video recapping his Rolling Odyssey bike tour last Memorial Day.

The ride helped raise money and awareness for The Wounded Warrior Project’s Rolling Odyssey therapy program to help veterans dealing with PTSD. The clip features bites of Brantley’s latest hit, “One Hell of an Amen.”

Check it out now on Vevo.

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Luke Bryan Is on the Other Side of “Outlaw Country” Backlash

CMALuke Bryan is on the other side of the backlash surrounding his comments about outlaw country in an interview last week with HITS Daily Double.

In the interview, Luke said he isn’t an “outlaw country” artist along the lines of Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and the late Waylon Jennings. While each one of those artists has admitted to past drug use and/or infidelities in their respective memoirs, Luke drew criticism for saying, “I don’t do cocaine and run around. So I’m not going to sing outlaw country. I like to hunt, fish, ride around on my farm, build a big bonfire and drink some beers — and that’s what I sing about.”

Waylon Jennings’ daughter-in-law, Kathy Pinkerman Jennings, posted a YouTube video denouncing Luke’s choice of words, and several media outlets painted Luke as disrespecting country legends. That response came totally out of the blue for Luke and left him extremely upset for days.

He says, “I will never be able to vocalize how disturbing and how heartbroken you can get over a situation like that. Obviously, I’m about to dang cry right now saying it. I’ve never toted it that hard.”

Since he is the reigning ACM and CMA Entertainer of the Year, Luke has become the de facto poster child for everyone who prefers classic country music to modern country sounds. He’s learned that having your words taken out of context comes with the territory of being a superstar act.

“You’re gonna say stuff in this business,” Luke says. “You’re not gonna be where I’m at and it doesn’t happen. If it ain’t gonna happen, there’ll be people that force it to happen.”

While Luke admits he’s had a trying week, he’s also learned a lot as a result of the situation. After Waylon’s son, Shooter Jennings, complimented Luke in the Los Angeles Times for reaching out to him and his mother, Waylon’s widow, Jessi Colter, to explain the situation, Luke felt a big weight lifted off his shoulders.

He says, “It was as if, like, I was kinda set free from it, and the page was turned.”

The situation may even lead to an unlikely collaboration between Shooter and Luke at some point. They’ve been texting about getting together for coffee to discuss music, which Luke says is “the neatest thing.”

He adds, “It just tells you that there’s just something to be taken out of every situation.”

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Lee Brice Headed on the Road with Jägermeister Tour Starting September 11

Curb RecordsLee Brice is ready to throw one back with you on his upcoming Jägermeister Tour. The trek kicks off September 11 in Phoenix, Arizona and runs through an October 24 date in Davenport, Iowa.

Lee says, “The people we play for on the road night after night are the greatest fans in the world. They love to have a great time and are fans of the Jägermeister brand. I’ve been looking for a way to partner with Jäger for a while now and this tour is the perfect way to do that. I can’t wait to get started!”

Look for Lee’s new EP, Mixtape:  ‘Til Summer’s Gone, out digitally on Friday.

Here are Lee’s Jägermeister tour dates:

9/11 — Phoenix, AZ, Comerica Theatre
9/12 — Los Angeles, CA, Club Nokia at LA Live
9/13 — Saratoga, CA, The Mountain Winery
9/16 — Worley, ID, Coeur D’Alene Casino Resort Hotel
9/17 — Boise, ID, Revolution Center
9/18 — Minden, NV, TJ’s Corral at the Carson Valley Inn
9/24 — Springfield, MO, Shrine Mosque
9/25 — Enid, OK, Enid Event Center
9/26 — Muskogee, OK, Muskogee Civic Center
9/30 — Fredericksburg, VA, Celebrate Virginia Live
10/1 — Williamsport, PA, Community Arts Center
10/2 – Wallingford, CT, Toyota Presents Oakdale
10/3 — Niagara Falls, NY, Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel
10/8 — Peoria, IL, Peoria Civic Center Arena
10/9 — Indianapolis, IN, Old National Centre
10/22 — Detroit, MI, The Fillmore Detroit
10/23 — Danville, IL, David S. Palmer Arena
10/24 — Davenport, IA, Adler Theatre

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Country Star Trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockLittle Big Town broke through to the country mainstream with their first top 10 hit in 2005. Name the song. ANSWER: “Boondocks.”

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Thomas Rhett Describes His Sophomore Album, “Tangled Up,” as a “Pretty Out There Record”

Valory Music Co.If you thought Thomas Rhett‘s latest single, “Crash and Burn,” was a little left-of-center, just wait until you hear his sophomore album, Tangled Up, due out September 25. Thomas actually describes the project as a “pretty out there record” in a new interview with The Detroit News. He felt confident to push the boundaries of his sound even further after “Crash and Burn” became a hit with listeners.

Thomas says of the album, “It’s a big ball of yarn, and all of these songs are in knots, and none of them really fit together. But at the same time they are all, cohesively, Thomas Rhett songs.”

Thomas is spilling a few beans about other songs on Tangled Up, including the “nostalgic, super soul R&B-influenced love song ‘Die a Happy Man.'” His other song, “Party Like You’re on Vacation,” is so inspired by the classic song “Low Rider” by War that he gave the band co-writing credit on that track.

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Little Big Town Reveal Which Body Parts They Will or Won’t Sign on Their Fans

UMG NashvilleLittle Big Town will do just about anything for their fans, but they have to draw the line somewhere. The group found that line pretty early on in their career when they were getting ready to open a show for Billy Ray Cyrus. The members of LBT were out in the front lobby of the venue folding their own T-shirts before the show when a burly guy walked up and asked them if they would sign his bicep. That’s when things got really weird.

Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild says, “I guess Billy Ray had signed one [bicep]. We were like, ‘Yeah,’ and he goes, ‘Have you ever signed a butt cheek?'”

Karen’s husband and band mate Jimi Westbrook is quick to chime in, “We did not sign it.”

Karen politely declined to sign the man’s cheek and went on to sign the other bicep.

Later in their career, Little Big Town had another odd autograph request that ended up quite heartwarming. A guy who was married to a marathon runner with a prosthetic leg brought his wife’s detached leg to LBT to get them to sign it.

Karen says, “We were like, ‘Could you please bring your wife back so we could — we need to meet her.’ And she came, and it was very inspiring, but that was maybe the strangest thing [we’ve signed].”

LBT’s Kimberly Schlapman adds, “It was funny to see him running up with a leg in his hand. It was a little different.”

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Canaan Smith’s “Love You Like That” Is a Tough Guy’s Love Song

UMG NashvilleCanaan Smith‘s #1 hit, “Love You Like That” is proof that even tough country guys can be tender with the ones they love. With its references to loving a girl smooth as a fifth of whiskey and sweet as muscadine wine, Canaan says of the track, “The song is about loving your woman long and strong. It’s kind of a tough guy’s perspective on how he’s gonna love a woman and treat her, you know, take you out in the country. ‘I’m a man, you’re my woman, let’s do this.’”

“Love You Like That” is included on Canaan’s debut album, Bronco, on sale now.

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