Maddie & Tae’s Debut Out 8/28, Cover Shoot “Like a Slumber Party”

Image Courtesy Dot RecordsMaddie & Tae’s debut CD Start Here is set for release on August 28, and the two say the cover shoot kept with the attitude you’d expect from the duo who took “Girl in a Country Song” to #1.

“We’re not those girls who want to spend a lot of time getting our hair done… We’d rather be out on a four-wheeler, playing guitar or just hanging out, having fun,” Tae confesses. “That’s what the songs are made of. We thought the pictures should look like that, too– and it’s harder and easier than you’d think.”

The cover was shot by California-based photographer Allister Ann, known for her work with the Civil Wars. Maddie & Tae did their own make-up, “threw some clothes in a duffle bag and took off.”

“It was like a slumber party– except we were moving all day,” Maddie recalls. “We went to an ice cream stand, got out a friend’s old Bronco, just whatever struck us. You can see it in the pictures. Suddenly, there were shots where it really looked like us, and it was super-fun and awesome and just the best day!”

In addition to their chart-topping debut single, Start Here includes Maddie & Tae’s current hit, “Fly,” plus nine more songs.

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Brett Eldredge’s Second CD “Illinois” Due in September

Image Courtesy Warner Music NashvilleBrett Eldredge’s new album Illinois will be in stores Friday, September 11. The three-time chart topper made the announcement after performing the CD’s first single “Lose My Mind” on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Myers Monday night.

“Mean to Me,” “Beat of the Music” and “Don’t Ya” from Brett’s debut Bring You Back all went to #1. The title track of his second CD pays homage to the CMA New Artist of the Year’s home state.

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Country Star Trivia

Comstock/Thinkstock What was Sugarland‘s breakthrough song? ANSWER:  Jennifer Nettles & Kristian Bush went to #2 with “Baby Girl” in 2004.

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Canaan Smith Found Motivation for Music at Dad’s Band Rehearsals

Mercury NashvilleFor newcomer Canaan Smith, country music really is a family tradition. “I get it honest from my dad,” he says proudly. “Actually, my dad was a singer in a band, and he toured regionally. I would go to his rehearsals as a kid. And then one Christmas, they gave us all a room full of instruments. And so, at an early age, I had that at my disposal. I’d go out to the garage and bang on drums or pick up a guitar and just kind of fell in love with it.”

The “Love You Like That” hitmaker admits his dad’s band practices were also where he figured out music was a great way to impress the ladies.

“I remember sitting on the couch in between — the piano player of the band, he had two daughters — and I was sitting in between these two daughters in the other room watching the rehearsal one night, and they started, like, loving up on me,” he recalls. “And I’m, like an eight-year-old. You know, and these girls are only 10. So, it was kind of weird to begin with, but it was awesome at the same time. I just remember thinking, ‘If this is what music gets you, I’m all in.’”

Canaan’s debut album, Bronco, comes out June 23. This Friday night, he kicks off Dierks Bentley’s Sounds of Summer tour in Raleigh, North Carolina, with Kip Moore and Maddie & Tae.

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Nashville Notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockDon Henley will preview his new Capitol album Cass County June 11 in Nashville.

Chris Janson performs “Buy Me a Boat” this Thursday on NBC’s Today show.

Dwight Yoakam’s new video “Liar” features him performing on the back of an El Camino in rush hour traffic on Los Angeles’ Sunset Boulevard.

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Billy Currington Says “Don’t It” Is a Good Preview of Summer Forever

Mercury NashvilleIf you like Billy Currington’s hit “Don’t It,” he says it’s a pretty good indication you’ll enjoy his new CD Summer Forever, which is in stores and online today.

“There are some unique songs on there. It is a little mixed up,” he admits. “There are some that throw back to the R&B, old-school flavor. The ‘Drinkin’ Town with a Football Problem’ song on there, you know, it’s a happy, party, take-you-back-to-high-school type song. And there may be some love songs on there. It’s got some love on there. I’m always in that state of mind!” he laughs.

“Drinkin’ Town with a Football Problem” happens to be Billy’s latest single. You can catch him singing that and his other hits on tour this summer with Tim McGraw. The Shotgun Rider dates kick off this Friday in Little Rock, Arkansas.

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Kristian Bush Gets Romantic with “Light Me Up”

Streamsound RecordsKristian Bush’s new single “Light Me Up” marks a milestone for the currently-solo founding member of Sugarland. “For the first time in my country music career, I am getting to sing a love song directly to you,” he tells Billboard.com.

For the follow-up to his top 20 hit “Trailer Hitch,” Kristian was eager to show his romantic side. “When you are loved by someone, it changes you forever,” he muses. “I decided to write a song to celebrate that.” “Light Me Up” was co-written with Jesse Rice, one of the men behind Florida Georgia Line’s smash “Cruise.”

Currently on a two-week tour of U.S. military bases in Japan, Kristian returns to the States in time to cover the nightly concerts at CMA Music Festival for BBC2 Radio.

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Keith Urban Loves Nick Jonas’s “Jealous,” Wants to Work with Pitbull

Courtesy of PlentiKeith Urban will be one of the headliners of the PlentiTogether Live concert July 19 at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom, along with Nick Jonas and Pitbull.

It turns out Keith is quite the Nick Jonas fan. “I’m into ‘Jealous,’” he tells People. “ I just love that song. What was really cool was we didn’t know who it was when we heard the song, we just loved it — then we come to find out it’s Nick Jonas. It’s just really cool to see him step out of that band and have such success on his own right, it’s really deserved.”

The “Raise ‘Em Up” hitmaker is also anxious to collaborate with Pitbull. “My hand would be way up for that!” he adds.  “Absolutely. He’s such a cool dude; I met him briefly at a thing we did in Vegas one time where there were a bunch of country artists playing, but we didn’t get to perform anything like that. He just seemed like a super-cool dude.”

Rewards program Plenti is staging the concert. Fans can enter to win tickets online, including a trip for two to NYC, through June 27.

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Kenny Chesney Goes Jurassic on Pittsburgh with Record-Setting Show

Image Courtesy Sony/Blue Chair

Kenny Chesney’s weekend show at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field bested his own attendance record at the venue: more than 55,000 ticket-holders were on hand for Kenny’s eighth sell-out there.  That tops the 54,000 that attended his 2007 show at Heinz. Fans also watched from more than 200 boats on the adjoining Ohio River.

The show lived up to the hype of a Jurassic World viral video that local filmmakers created to promote it. The clip cast the country superstar as a dinosaur-esque figure towering over the stadium, interspersed with shots of Chris Pratt from the forthcoming movie of the same name.

The avid football fan started his Friday working out with the home team, with many of the Steelers attending the Saturday show as his guest. Kenny opened by flying into the stadium on a wire while performing “Reality,” and went on to play an almost two-hour set that included a duet with Eric Church on “When I See This Bar.” He paid tribute to the Rooney family, who owns the Steelers, before launching into “Boys of Fall.”

“The Pittsburgh fans have so much heart, grit and muscle, they almost shove you off the stage. We’ve had some amazing shows this year, so I knew we were ready and hungry for Pittsburgh,” Kenny said.

Miranda Lambert, Brantley Gilbert, Chase Rice and Old Dominion will join Kenny for this Saturday night’s stop at Soldier Field in Chicago.

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Carrie Underwood Reveals What She Was Thinking When She Wrote “Little Toy Guns”

Image Courtesy Jeremy Cowart/SonyNew mom Carrie Underwood not only racks up her latest top ten hit as an artist with “Little Toy Guns,” she also happens to be one of the writers of the song. As she was contemplating the birth of son Isaiah, the first-time mother was also considering the impact parents’ words can have on their offspring.

“There’s these characters in the song,” she explains, “and there’s a little girl, and she hears her parents fighting, as unfortunately a lot of kids do, and you don’t really realize how that can affect your child. And I’ve seen it firsthand from different people in my life.”

While parents may not always realize the effect that what they say can have on their children, Carrie points out that the little girl in the song certainly does. “It’s basically her saying, I wish their words weren’t real. I wish they were like little toy guns, and they didn’t hurt you. So, that’s kind of what it’s about.”

Carrie returns to the CMA Music Festival stage June 13 for one of her first performances since welcoming her son into the world in February.

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