Rascal Flatts Adds New Band Members and Backup Singers for Riot Tour

Big Machine RecordsRascal Flatts kicks off the third weekend of their Riot Tour Friday night in Virginia, so we asked bass player Jay DeMarcus how the brand-new live show is working out so far.

“Oh, the tour. It’s awful,” Jay says before adding, “No, I’m kidding.”

In fact, Jay says the Riot tour is up there among his favorites among any trek they’ve  done in the past 10 years.  He explains, “We’ve got a new infusion of some new band guys up there with us. We’ve got three of the best background singers in the city of Nashville behind us, and they kill it every night. It’s new and exciting for us.”

Having those new players and singers in the mix helps the Flatts deliver a fresh show to the fans who come to see them year after year.  “This show is different than anything we’ve ever done before, and I’m having a blast,” Jay says.

For a list of tour dates, go to RascalFlatts.com.

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Country Stars Raising Big Money for Charity During CMA Music Festival

Jeremy WolzelCountry stars have been raising some big money for charity during this week’s CMA Music Festival in Nashville.

Darius Rucker‘s 6th Annual Darius and Friends benefit concert raised more than $220,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. The show took place Monday at the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville with performances from Little Big Town, Brett Eldredge, A Thousand Horses and more.

On Tuesday night, the 11th Annual Stars for Second Harvest concert at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium raised $140,000 for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee . The show featured performances from Cole Swindell and Dierks Bentley.

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Country Star Trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockWhich member of Rascal Flatts plays bass in the band? ANSWER: Jay DeMarcus.

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Jason, Dierks, Florida Georgia Line and More Kick Off the CMA Music Festival’s Nightly Concerts

ABC RadioThe CMA Music Festival officially kicked off Thursday in Nashville with live performances on multiple stages throughout downtown Nashville. Of course, the highlight of the festival is the star-studded nightly concert lineup at LP Field. Here’s a roundup of what the stars had to say before going onstage at the stadium to play for the sold-out crowd:

Florida Georgia Line is known for whipping their concert crowds into a frenzy, but the duo’s Tyler Hubbard admits he’s never seen anything like the audience at the CMA Music Festival’s nightly concerts.

Before FGL took the stage for their Thursday-night performance at LP Field, Tyler said, “Those are the most passionate fans in the world that are here this weekend, so to see 70,000 of them thrown into a stadium together, it’s on another level.”

Tyler and his duo partner, Brian Kelley, are always floored to find out how far their fans travel to attend CMA Fest in Nashville.

“These fans are coming from Europe,” Tyler added. “We’ve met people that we’ve met in Europe that are here this weekend. People from Canada. All over, so it’s a really cool week for us.”

Jason Aldean played for fans all day long Thursday starting with his intimate fan club party at Acme Feed & Seed on Nashville’s Lower Broadway. After playing an acoustic show for the small crowd, Jason says, “[We] got a chance to get up close and personal with some fans and do some Q&A. Some interesting questions, but it was fun.”

Later that night, Jason helped kick off the CMA Music Festival’s nightly concerts with a performance at Nashville’s LP Field. Since he’s been performing at this event for a decade now, Jason knows these kinds of events help solidify the lifelong bond between country artists and their loyal fans.

He says, “They’ll be out here when I’m 80, and there’ll be the same people in the front row, and that’s a cool thing that I don’t know if you have in any other genre of music. I think it’s festivals like this that make that happen.”

 — Dierks Bentley recently graced the cover of People magazine, billed as the hottest guy in country music. The recognition comes as Dierks begins his second major headlining tour, but he’s not exactly comfortable being labeled a sex symbol. Dierks’ newly-minted superstar status led to a scary experience earlier this week as he left Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium after a benefit concert.

Says Dierks, “Walking out of the Opry the other night for Second Harvest and having people crowd around me in the car, like, I don’t know that. That’s such a weird —  I’m not used to that. Never will be. It makes me uncomfortable.  So, I don’t really know how to respond to it.”    

When it comes to playing for thousands of fans on his tour or at the CMA Music Festival Thursday night, Dierks is totally at home.

“Playing for 20,000 people feels totally normal,” he says. “People are screaming and shouting, it feels great.”

On a serious note, Dierks has fond memories of Grand Ole Opry star Jim Ed Brown, who passed away Thursday after a battle with cancer.

Dierks says, “I remember being on the Opry for one of my first times and him being there and being so gracious and so kind to us. I got a chance to wear his glasses one time. Mess around a little bit. We got some great pictures together.”

— Alan Jackson kicked off the CMA Music Festival’s opening night at Nashville’s LP Field Thursday, and he was pretty excited to check out sets from the other stars on the bill, including Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley and Rascal Flatts.

Alan said before going onstage, “You know, some of it’s not country enough for me, but as long as it’s a good form of what they’re doing, I enjoy it. I think Jason’s had some good songs. Florida Georgia, good songwriters. Dierks — I’ve been a fan of his for years.”

You won’t catch Alan hanging around the festival now that his performance is done, though.

He added, “I probably won’t come back and see anybody, to be honest with you.”

The CMA Music Festival continues through Sunday in Nashville. We’ll keep you posted on all the big news coming out of Music City this weekend.

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Nashville Notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockRandy Houser‘s latest installment of his House Band TV YouTube series is out now featuring footage from his first stadium date opening for Luke Bryan in Denver.

Little Big Town‘s Karen Fairchild and Phillip Sweet joined Eric Church and Chris Stapleton on stage at Marty Stuart‘s Annual Late Night Jam at the Ryman early Thursday morning to sing “Girl Crush.”

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Keith Urban Announced as CMA Foundation Ambassador During CMA Music Festival

Donn Jones/CMAKeith Urban has signed on as the first ambassador for the CMA Foundation’s new Music Education Matters campaign. He made the announcement at the CMA Music Festival’s Fan Fair X Thursday morning. In addition to donating 60 Keith Urban guitars to music programs sponsored by the CMA Foundation, Keith performed his new single, “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” with local student musicians during the press conference.

He says, “There is nothing like seeing the genesis of the relationship between an instrument and a child or young adult. I’m so honored and proud that the CMA Foundation has given us this opportunity to be a part of something that can have such a positive effect on so many young lives.”

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Jim Ed Brown Dead at 81

Photo by: Anna O’ConnerLongtime Grand Ole Opry member Jim Ed Brown has died.

He passed away Thursday at Williamson Medical Center in Franklin, Tennessee, after battling cancer, according to a news release from Webster Public Relations. He was 81.

Brown had hits as a solo artist and as part of a duet and trio. As a member of The Browns with sisters Maxine and Bonnie, he had country hits in the 1950s and 1960s like “The Three Bells,” “Here Today and Gone Tomorrow,” “I Take the Chance,” “Just As Long As You Love Me,” “Money,” “I Heard the Bluebirds Sing,” “Would You Care,” and “Beyond the Shadow.”  

Following their split, Brown became a solo artist and released singles like “Pop a Top,” “Morning,” “Southern Loving,” “Sometime Sunshine” and “It’s That Time of Night.”

He also recorded hits as a duo with Helen Cornelius, including the country chart topper “I Don’t Want to Have to Marry You.” The two were named CMA Vocal Duo of the Year in 1977.

Brown and his family trio are going into the Country Music Hall of Fame this year in the Veterans Era category.

Dierks Bentley commented on Brown Thursday night at the CMA Music Festival in Nashville. He calls Brown a “nice guy, a great singer, a great ambassador to the next generation of how country should be, even as it grows and leaves some of its roots behind.”

Charlie Daniels tweeted, “Sincere condolences to the family of Jim Ed Brown. We’re gonna miss you Buddy. Rest in peace.”

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Florida Georgia Line Takes You Inside Their Live Show with “Anything Goes” Video

Republic NashvilleFlorida Georgia Line premiered their new song, “Anything Goes,” on Wednesday night’s CMT Music Awards, and now the video for the track is live on Vevo. The guys shot the clip over the course of several shows on their Anything Goes tour.

In addition to the high-energy performance footage, the “Anything Goes” video provides a look at the duo’s pre-show prayer session.

“Anything Goes” is the title cut from FGL’s current studio album.

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Carrie Underwood Making Sure Next Album Isn’t Full of Mushy Songs About Her Baby

Arista Nashville/Jeremy CowartCarrie Underwood is deeply in love with her baby boy, Isaiah, but you shouldn’t expect her next album to be full of mushy love songs to her kid. That doesn’t mean Carrie hasn’t been inspired by her son’s birth.

She explains to USA Today, “I didn’t want to force anything or have anything be cheesy or weird, like ‘Oh, she had a baby, so she’s singing about her baby.’ It just kind of happened one day.”

Carrie thinks the song about Isaiah will most likely make the album, but she’s not taking it for granted at this point. “I’ll cut anything” from the album,” Carrie says. “I have no loyalties to any song, even if it’s one I wrote.”

You can also expect to hear some new sounds from Carrie.  She adds, “I’m not going crazy or anything , but it’s a little bit of a shift.”

Carrie is expected to release the first single from the new album after her latest single, “Little Toy Guns,” finishes its march up the country radio chart.

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Rascal Flatts Opening for The Rolling Stones on July 4 in Indianapolis

Big Machine RecordsRascal Flatts has some pretty impressive 4th of July plans. The group is opening for The Rolling Stones that day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The concert is a stop on the Stones’ Zip Code tour.

As previously reported, Brad Paisley will open for The Rolling Stones when they play Nashville’s LP Field Wednesday, June 17.

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