Nashville Notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockDierks Bentley loves to have lunch at Arnold’s, a meat-and-three cafeteria in downtown Nashville.

Craig Morgan made his 200th appearance on the Grand Ole Opry last weekend. He’s been an Opry member since 2008.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Ashley Monroe Follows Her Instincts on “The Blade”; Opens Up About Performing with Miranda Lambert

Warner Music NashvilleAshley Monroe has a new album out Friday, titled The Blade. Fresh off her #1 single with Blake Shelton on “Lonely Tonight,” Ashley returns with 13 songs ranging from the devastating title track about a one-sided breakup to the tender love song, “Has Anybody Ever Told You.” As with her previous solo outing, Like a Rose, Ashley has songs that could work on country radio, but she’s not sacrificing her creative instincts simply to score a hit song.

“I can’t sing anything I don’t feel, or anything that I don’t connect with,” Ashley explains. “And sometimes those don’t add up as hits. Sometimes they do, though. That’s the cool thing. Sometimes they do, and hopefully, one day, mine will. But in the meantime, I have to live with myself, and I’m not good at molding myself into anything else for anyone else.”

Following her own muse has made Ashley one of the most respected singer/songwriters in country music today. Jason Aldean took her song, “The Truth,” to #1 several years ago, and Ashley has scored two major hit albums in her own right as a member of Pistol Annies with pals Angaleena Presley and Miranda Lambert.

On top of her collaboration with Blake, who she calls “a very selfless human” for showcasing her on his song, Ashley is going on the road with Little Big Town this fall. After nearly 15 years in Nashville, Ashley is finally starting to feel secure about her future as an artist in the country format.

She says with a laugh, “It feels like now that it’s all adding up and, like, and like, ‘Ashley’s not going away. You know, and she’s collaborating with these people, and I guess we might need to listen.'”

Ashley’s biggest champion throughout her career has been her friend and frequent collaborator, Miranda Lambert, who co-wrote the last song on The Blade, “I’m Good at Leavin’,” in addition to singing backup on the title cut.

As previously reported, Miranda joined Ashley onstage for a duet of “Heart Like Mine” Wednesday night at Ashley’s album release show in East Nashville. Video of the performance is now on YouTube. It was Miranda’s first public appearance since she announced her divorce from Blake Shelton, and Ashley didn’t know Miranda was going to perform with her until the show was under way.

Ashley explains, “I didn’t know for sure if she was gonna sing, ’cause she said she didn’t have glam, but she did. I knew once she started hearing me sing, she’d want to sing harmony. That’s how we do. That was an amazing moment for her to come out and just sing her butt off. She’s so pretty, naturally, so she doesn’t even need glam.”

Miranda and Ashley have been friends for 10 years now, and Ashley says, “The love between us truly is like a sister.”

As evidenced by their joint performance Wednesday night, Ashley will be there for Miranda as she faces this next chapter, just as Miranda has been there for her during tough times.

“We’ve definitely gone through a lot together as friends and through life,” Ashley says, “but I can see her and I rocking it out when we’re 90 years old sitting there with a shotgun in her hand and rocking on a front porch somewhere, like The Golden Girls.”

Look for Ashley Monroe to promote The Blade with a performance on NBC’s Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Monday.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Darius Rucker Working to Get “Countrier” with Every New Album

Capitol NashvilleDarius Rucker first shot to fame as a rock star with his band Hootie & The Blowfish, but you shouldn’t expect him to lead the charge in incorporating rock sounds into his country albums. Instead, Darius is pushing to make his music even more in line with the artists that made him fall in love with the country format — Kenny Rogers, Dwight Yoakam, and Foster and Lloyd.

Darius tells Woodland, California’s Daily Democrat, “I’ve just been saying for the last couple years, ‘Let’s do something a little countrier.’ And we started going in that direction. This is where I wanted to go, where I want to go. I’m trying to get a little closer to those records that made me want to sing country music.”

You can hear what Darius is going for on his latest single, “Southern Style,” which is also the title track of his current album.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Luke Bryan Shares His Evolving View on the Confederate Flag

Capitol NashvilleGeorgia native Luke Bryan grew up seeing the Confederate flag quite a bit, but he admits his view on the symbol have evolved over time.

“Where I grew up, I never understood the Confederate flag to be a negative thing,” Luke tells Billboard. “But if the Ku Klux Klan is going to walk around and turn the Confederate flag into their deal…it’s become a symbol of racism to a majority of people. And we live in a country where we have to listen to people’s opinions and work it out.”

Luke is on the cover of Billboard‘s August 1 issue with his manager and a few other country music power players. His new album, Kill the Lights, is out August 7.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott Has Country Music in Her Blood

Capitol NashvilleHillary Scott of Lady Antebellum has no idea what it’s like to live in a house where music isn’t being played or talked about all the time. Her mother is Grammy-winning singer Linda Davis, best known for the duet “Does He Love You” with Reba, and her dad is Reba’s former guitar player, Lang Scott. That means Hillary literally couldn’t get away from country music while growing up.

She tells South Dakota’s Argus Leader, “Honestly, it’s like breathing in our family. We don’t know really know how not to do it and I love that. It was really just ingrained in me from day one, and it obviously became quickly evident that it was what I was called to do as well.”

Hillary is married to Lady A’s drummer, Chris Tyrell, so their daughter, Eisele, is growing up in a similarly musical environment as her mother.

Lady Antebellum is on the road all summer with their Wheels Up Tour. Go to LadyAntebellum.com to see where they’re headed next.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Jason Aldean Is “Always Up For” Taking on an Acting Role

Broken Bow RecordsJason Aldean usually just sings in his videos while actors play out the song’s storyline, but he took on a small acting role in his latest video, “Tonight Looks Good on You.” Jason plays a factory worker who steps up to handle a co-worker’s unexpected overtime shift so the guy can go on a date with his lady.

While Jason has a few brooding close-ups in the clip, he says, “I don’t know I would call what I did in the ‘Tonight Looks Good On You’ video ‘acting’, but I guess I follow direction pretty well. It was fun! It was fun to kind of step away from what I normally do in a video.”

Since Jason is one of country’s top superstars, he has the power to decide when to record his albums and go on tour. That means he could potentially take a month or so to film a part in a movie.  Jason admits he’s interested in doing more dramatic work.

“As far as any major acting goes, we’ll sort of see what comes down the pipeline, but it’s definitely something I’m always up for,” Jason says.

For now, Jason is sticking to his comfort zone and playing sold-out shows on his Burn It Down tour. He’s teaming up with Kenny Chesney again this Saturday for the first-ever country show at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Nashville Notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockRascal Flatts will play the Grand Ole Opry on September 8 and 22.

Kelsea Ballerini loves her new single, “Dibs,” so much she named her new puppy after the song. Kelsea posted photos on Instagram posing with the adorable pup, Dibs, on Wednesday.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

 

my heart has officially melted into a puddle. meet my new pup, Dibs!

A photo posted by Kelsea Ballerini (@kelseaballerini) on Jul 22, 2015 at 7:59am PDT

 

Frankie Ballard Happy to Have Hit Songs That Make People Dance

Warner Music NashvilleFrankie Ballard is on track to score his third #1 hit from his album, Sunshine & Whiskey, as his latest single, “Young & Crazy,” continues its climb on the country airplay chart. He’s been releasing songs to country radio since 2010, but his career didn’t catch fire until his 2013 single, “Helluva Life,” topped the chart. He followed that up with the title cut from his latest album.  All three of Frankie’s hit singles have turned out to be up-tempo, feel-good songs. That’s been especially good for Frankie’s live shows.

He says, ” I’m so happy to have hits, period, but that they are fun songs and songs that people want to dance to and that they’re really excited to hear live, just does — it sounds goofy, but it does make it that much better. It’s an exciting thing, it’s a positive thing.”

You shouldn’t expect Frankie’s music to always put a smile on your face, though. He does write and record darker material, but he’s happy to establish this feel-good connection with his fans for now.

“I’ll have to release something serious that cuts deep at some time or another,” Frankie says, “but as far as for the Sunshine & Whiskey album, that seems to be the theme.”

Frankie is on the road with Florida Georgia Line‘s Anything Goes tour all summer long, with shows in New Jersey and Virginia coming up this weekend.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.