Here is Your Weekly Roundup of Goings on -- Artist Signings, Staffing Moves, Good News and More -- in the Wide World of Country Music.
NEWS + NOTES
Two Country Music Hall of Fame members in their 70s are headed in opposite directions. Don Williams announced his retirement in favor of "quiet time at home" on March 1, leaving a catalog that includes "I Believe in You," "Good Ole Boys Like Me" and a former Academy of Country Music record of the year, "Tulsa Time." Meanwhile, Dolly Parton announced March 7 that she'll conduct her biggest North American tour in 25 years during 2016. In addition, she plans to release a double album, Pure & Simple With Dolly's Biggest Hits, featuring new material and some of her best-known works.
CMT unveiled a ton of programming plans for the rest of 2016. The marquee announcement included four new CMT Crossroads pairings: Jennifer Nettles andCheap Trick, whose installment premieres March 24; plus Luke Bryan and Jason Derulo; Charles Kelley and Rob Thomas; and Thomas Rhett and Nick Jonas. Additionally, the network ordered a second season of I Love Kellie Pickler; tabbed June 12 to premiere its scripted Elvis Presley impersonator series, Still the King, starringBilly Ray Cyrus; and is developing Million Dollar Quartet, a series built around seminal Sun Records acts Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins. Also of note, the annual CMT Artists of the Year has been moved from its traditional December date to Oct. 19.
One tour is red, white and blue; the other is a little more tie-dye. Nonetheless, Granger Smith and Jake Owen are both promoting new projects with small tours rooted in Americana. Smith's was a two-day Pledge of Allegiance Tour March 6-7 covering 13 colonies in conjunction with "Merica," the last track on his album Remington, released March 4. Among the stops were the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, the Washington Monument in D.C. and the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia. Owen embarked on a 1,000-mile road trip from Nashville to Key West, Fla., in a 1966 Volkswagen van to call attention to "American Country Love Song," released to radio via Play MPE on March 4. According to The Chattanooga Times Free Press, Owen's journey includes a video shoot in Savannah, Ga.
Vince Gill is an early entry in the Kentucky Derby festivities. He'll headline the third Fillies & Lilies Party at Churchill Downs on May 6, the day before the annual horse race at the same venue in Louisville. Wynonna Judd plays the Unbridled Derby Eve Gala the same night at the Galt House Hotel.