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See It First: The Lonesome Trio Shows Off Americana Chops

Country fans should check out this brand new video from The Lonesome Trio, featuring Ed Helms, Jacob Tilove and Ian Riggs – “Mr. Fortune” is directed by Ben Guzman and offers a full performance experience that serves as a great introduction to this new and rapidly rising band.

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The group’s self-titled debut album was released this summer, showing off their unique mix of bluegrass, Americana and country. Recorded in Asheville, North Carolina, the trio was so elated at the prospect of heading to the studio that Helms actually penned a tune about the experience before they were even scheduled to arrive, which now serves as the opening track and scene-setter for the album.

If you’d like to keep up with the Lonesome Trio’s schedule, check here.

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Nashville Producer Mysteriously Attacked Near Music Row

Grammy-nominated producer Dave Brainard was viciously attacked near Music Row in Nashville on Sunday. The hitmaker, best known for producing Brandy Clark’s breakout album 12 Stories, was on his way to a bar with two female friends in downtown Nashville when they were struck in a crosswalk on Demonbreun Street by as-yet-unknown assailants.

One of Brainard’s companions, Deborah Deloach told the Tennessean the car repeatedly hit the trio slowly before the passenger, a female, and the driver, a male, exited the car. Deloach noted the two assailants then began yelling before physically attacking Deloach and Brainard. The female assaulted Deloach, while the male went after Brainard, beating and choking the producer until he was left unconscious.

Brainard told WZTV Fox Nashville, “I don’t understand why they were so angry… I tend to think they will deal with their own karma kind of thing, but yeah, I don’t know. I guess its just justice, justice and also I’m angry for what they did to Deborah.”

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Police are still searching for the suspects involved in the altercation. The woman is described as white; around 5 feet 6 inches tall and in her early 30s; while the male is 6 feet tall, weighs about 200 pounds, and is also white. Oddly, both were well dressed as if they had been to a formal event earlier in the night.

Brainard, who is also known for working with Jerrod Niemann and Ray Scott, has suffered facial lacerations, a broken jaw in two places, and has up to nine teeth shattered. He has four projects currently in the works, but they will have to wait until after he heals from his facial reconstruction surgery.

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Garth Brooks Forgets a Backup, Loses All His New Music

If you‘ve been waiting for a new album from Garth Brooks, you’re going to have to wait a little longer. It seems that the “Friends In Low Places” star has lost all the music files he’s been working on in the past year. And how did he lose it? Techies will groan…

As Brooks told the Journal Sentinel: “All the new stuff I’ve been working on for six months was on a phone I just fried, and I can’t get the phone to come back up. And I know I should’ve backed up.

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“I know, it’s like losing your briefcase back in the ‘90s,” he quipped. “So yeah still working on that phone. We’ll get it." 

Let this be a lesson to all: Always back up your phone! Anyone have any tips for getting Garth’s music files off his phone?

The good news: Even with new music on the back burner, the singer-songwriter is still touring and selling out shows. In the first six months of his tour, he’s already played for more than a million people, with sales amounting to $79.9 million – which puts him in the No. 2 top earning tour spot in the United States, behind the Rolling Stones. Looks like Brooks won’t be going back to retirement anytime soon…and he should have plenty of funds to hire an expert to fix his phone!

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Country’s ‘It-Girl’ Kelsea Ballerini Duets With Taylor Swift on Stage

Looks like Taylor Swift has officially passed the baton and gained a “little sister” in country’s newest star, Kelsea Ballerini. The rapidly rising star hit the stage on Saturday at Taylor’s tour stop in Nashville and the two performed Ballerini’s No. 1 hit “Love Me Like You Mean It” together.

After the show, they expressed their joy about getting to duet on social media.

Swift has been a huge supporter of the “Dibs” singer for a while now, and gave a big shout-out on Twitter to the newcomer back in March.

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The excited singer hit Swift back on Twitter with a snapshot from the time she first met her in Nashville. And the rest is history.

Ballerini wasn’t the only country darling to make a guest appearance at Swift’s Music City gigs. Over the course of the weekend, Swift also welcomed Grammy-winning artist Allison Krauss to the stage; as well as Steven Tyler, who’s been in town recording his first country album.

Oh, and also making an appearance? None other than Rolling Stones rocker Mick Jagger.

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Montgomery Gentry Singer Eddie Montgomery’s Son Hunter Dies at 19

by Billboard

Hunter Montgomery, Eddie Montgomery’s 19-year-old son, has died.

Montgomery Gentry’s ‘Folks Like Us’ Is Duo’s Latest 'Blue-Collar Song’

“My son Hunter went to heaven today,” Eddie, who is part of the country duo Montgomery Gentry, said in a statement on Sunday, Sept. 27. “I appreciate all your prayers and love and thank you for giving us privacy as we grieve and say goodbye.”

The statement, which was posted to Montgomery Gentry’s Facebook page, says that Hunter passed away following an accident that had left him on life support in a Kentucky hospital. “Our sincerest love, thoughts and prayers are with Eddie and his family today,” the band said.

According to People, Hunter was engaged to his girlfriend after proposing to her onstage at one of his father’s concerts in August 2014. The sweet moment – which can be seen here – was captured on video by Dan Van Media.

Hunter is the youngest of four children, Taste of Country reports. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Eddie has faced a series of hardships over the past five years. In 2010, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer (which was removed) and then went through a divorce with wife Tracy Nunan. In early 2014, he filed for individual bankruptcy due to debt from a failed restaurant and the divorce. Since then, he has married Jennifer Belcher.

Montgomery Gentry released the album Folks Like Us in June.

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Thomas Rhett Shows Off His Multi-Genre Chops With ‘Tangled Up’ Live Performances

Thomas Rhett may only be 25 years old, but the CMA Award-nominated singer shows off an impressive, confident ability to mix and mingle with different genres on his sophomore release, Tangled Up

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Rhett, who claims he listens to everyone from Bruno Mars to glam rockers the Darkness, manages to incorporate soulful R&B and funk notes into a country base in an engaging manner sure to bewitch even skeptics.

“I think a lot of artists…they listen to what’s popular and they listen to what’s working and they copy that,” he notes. “In my opinion there can only be one of someone.

“You can do your best to emulate [successful artists], but at the end of the day if you’re not doing what you do best and what you’re passionate about, I don’t think it translates to a crowd as well.”

In these exclusive live performances, Rhett shows off three tunes from the album: “Crash and Burn,” “South Side,” and “Die a Happy Man.” The latter song has its own special love story, as it was written for his wife, Lauren, whom he’s known since first grade. 

For our full interview with Rhett, visit here.

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Blake Shelton Has His Drinking Under Control

Country superstar Blake Shelton isn’t one to shy away from talking about drinking – whether it’s on social media, in concert, or on his show, The Voice. Now the “Sangria” singer is coming under fire with reports swirling that his drinking may be getting out of control and that he’s headed to rehab.

Speeches such as the one he made at last weekend’s iHeartRadio Festival just fueled the fire: “They told me I was playing this iHeart music festival and I thought ‘man that’s pretty cool, I’ll go do that. That’ll be fun. This is fun right?’ But I never actually know what we’re doing ‘til I get here,” he noted. “And I’m like backstage doing some interview and I’m like, ‘Who’s that on stage?’ That’s Jlo. What the eff? What am I doing here? So then I just want y’all to know, I got nervous and I’m still nervous right now. And when I get nervous I tend to drink a little bit, okay? I’m just being honest with you dammit. Get over it, I’m drinking.”

However, sources close to Shelton told People a drinking problem couldn’t be further from the truth. "It’s simply a case of Blake having super-sized this persona of him having fun and drinking.”

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The sources went on to say, “He’s putting energy into his music and his health … He’s working out and taking care of himself … He worked out before, but now he has more time and he’s just in a really healthy place. He looks fantastic.“

The multitalented singer doesn’t seem to be taking the rumors to heart and has even been calling out the naysayers on twitter and joking with fans.

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Kenny Rogers to Retire After World Tour

by Beville Dunkerley/Rolling Stone

“It’s sadly happy,” Kenny Rogers said on NBC’s Today show Friday morning upon announcing his retirement from the road.

Kenny Rogers Reflects on Dolly Duets & Michael Jackson Talks

The Gambler will begin his annual Christmas tour November 11th, hitting 26 cities mainly on the eastern coast of the U.S. and Canada before wrapping December 23rd. After that, it’s a global venture, as Rogers will do one last world tour before calling it quits.

“I’ve done this long enough. Sometimes there’s a fine line between being driven and being selfish, and I think I crossed that line when I was younger,” he says. “I really want to be there with my kids and my wife. I don’t see enough of them. And I have some things on my bucket list.”

One of those bucket list items, the country music legend reveals to Rolling Stone Country, is another book of photography. His 1987 collection, Your Friends and Mine, featured portrait shots of celebrities ranging from Elizabeth Taylor and Clint Eastwood to Michael Jackson and Paul Simon. This time around, though, he’s focusing on landscapes.

“There are probably 550 pictures, so there will be at least two books,” says the musician, who was awarded an honorary master’s degree from Professional Photographers of America last year. “One will be called American Beauty, and it’s all waterfalls and beautiful canyon shots. It’s really spectacular. And the other will be places I’ve been and things I’ve seen, and it’ll be pictures from China, Africa, Europe, Switzerland — over the Alps in a helicopter.”

Rogers releases his sixth holiday album, Once Again It’s Christmas today. The LP features both standards and originals, with Alison Krauss, Jennifer Nettles and Home Free duetting with the country music legend. The Time Jumpers are also featured on a special Cracker Barrel edition of the album.

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Ashley Monroe Talks Style, the ‘60s, and Blake Shelton

Ashley Monroe is undoubtedly one of country’s coolest girls –  her vintage-style clothes and makeup, her unique voice, her equally fab best friend (Miranda Lambert)! So it only stands to reason that when she sat down for the “Hot Country Minute” with Cornelia Rowe, she had some interesting tips to share with fans. 

Here, the blonde beauty discusses her favorite movie quotes, choice of cocktail, baseball teams (guess which one?), what everyone should know about pal Blake Shelton, and more.

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For more on Monroe, don’t miss our full interview with the singer, only on Ram Country!

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Willie Nelson Starts His Own Recreational Cannabis Brand

Country icon Willie Nelson is taking on a new venture of sorts – he’s getting into the lifestyle brand business. No, he’s not going to shill expensive clothes or home furnishings like other celebs. Willie’s brand is all about premium marijuana. 

Nelson scored some private equity dollars by partnering up with New York-based firm, Tuatara Capital, to develop a high-end recreational product brand. According to a joint press release from Tuatara and Nelson, local businesses in Colorado and Washington – the two states where it’s legal to sell recreational cannabis – will grow, distribute, and sell “Willie’s Reserve” brand. The product is based on the star’s well-researched specifications and quality standards.

In a press release, Nelson noted, “I hear stories from people across the country about how the end of marijuana prohibition is improving their lives. Legal marijuana makes sense. Good business will prove it can work in America.”

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The “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die” singer has been a longtime cannabis consumer and outspoken advocate. He is also a co-chairman of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws advisory board.

Other celebs looking to cash in on the green include Snoop Dogg, who launched his own cannabis lifestyle website earlier this week. Also, the family of the late Bob Marley are looking to create a line of cannabis-related products called Marley Natural. Meanwhile, Melissa Etheridge is said to be developing marijuana-infused wine.

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One Direction Member Going Country?

Lately we’ve had rock stars and pop stars trying their hand at country music – and now the Brits are jumping into the mix. Liam Payne of boy band One Direction shocked fans earlier this week when he announced that he may be looking to cross over into country.

He told Press Party: “I have written country songs. I started out doing rap songs. That’s where my mind is set. A lot of people say to me, ‘Oh, you’ll go solo’, but I haven’t thought about that. If the right song comes along and I think I should sing it, then I will release it as a solo artist.

“Otherwise, I’m happy being behind the scenes. When the other boys go solo I would love to write songs for them. I want to make great music that people want to listen to.”

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The “Story of My Life” singer will have some time on his hands to work on his solo music, with 1D taking a well-earned break after their fifth studio album drops in November and the band going on hiatus in March. One thing’s for sure - he’ll already have a built in fan base to take with him. 

And we can’t help but wonder if those country songs he mentioned that he wrote are sung in a British accent!

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Jewel Returns to Music Scene With ‘Picking Up the Pieces’

Jewel is back in a big way, following a series of big changes in her life. After giving birth to her son, Kase, releasing country and children’s music, and divorcing rodeo star Ty Murray last year, the singer-songwriter was eager to get back into the studio.

The “Who Will Save Your Soul” singer is marking her return to the folky-pop sound that made her famous two decades earlier on Pieces of You. Her new album, Picking Up The Pieces, (which is being released with an accompanying memoir, Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half The Story) marks her first non-holiday release of new music since 2010′s Sweet and Wild.

And there’s a country connection there: Jewel says that this record was strongly shaped and influenced by the genre.

She tells Billboard magazine: ‘When I first came out, country radio was Shania Twain and Faith Hill. It was a lot more pop than what I was. [But] as a singer-songwriter, I knew I had to get into the country business, because it was the only place I could tell stories…. It’s felt like a great home. For the first time in my life I was asked, ‘Why did you write this lyric?’ [by country radio]. [At pop radio], I was just asked, ‘What’s your favorite nail color?’ I’m like, ‘Really? Did you ask Beck that?’”

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And when reflecting on how fans will perceive the album, the song poet noted, “A lot of people will think this is a break-up record,” she said. “And it is in a lot of ways. I wrote some of it going through a divorce. Though I wrote ‘Everything Breaks’ 15 years ago, I felt everything I was going through when I sang it. But, a lot of them aren’t written about him…but some of them are.”

The emotionally charged album features songs written with country stalwarts like Rodney Crowell and Dolly Parton. Jewel produced the 14-song collection herself in Nashville, where she currently resides with her son.

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Natalie Maines Joins West Texas Walk of Fame

Grammy-award winning Dixie Chick Natalie Maines returned to her hometown of Lubbock, Texas last week for a long-awaited induction and celebration into the West Texas Walk of Fame; alongside playwright and actress Jo Harvey Allen. Filled with many of the inductees’ family members and friends, the ceremony was held at Lubbock High School, where Maines had attended as a teen.

During her induction speech, Maines said, “I never quite fit in but I kinda liked that and used it to my benefit…I was the first cheerleader that I knew of with half of my head shaved – I was also very proud of that accomplishment.”

The “Fly” singer received multiple standing ovations throughout the ceremony. She announced to the jovial crowd the best thing about Lubbock: “THe Maines family is the best family in the world.”

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Prior to the ceremony the singer-songwriter expressed her initial reservations to local newspaper A-J Media. “I was not anxious to do this,” she noted. “Don’t get me wrong. I’m appreciative of being asked, but, unfortunately, Lubbock’s reaction to my speaking out against the war and George W. Bush made my heart feel very differently about my hometown, and it’s a difficult place for me to go back to.

"I think of myself as a pretty tough chick, but it was really hurtful to watch my hometown jump on the bandwagon of hate towards one of their own without any hesitation. Honestly, I just washed my hands of the entire town and only went back to visit my mamaw and my extended Lubbock family. Then this invitation came up. I did have to do a lot of contemplating. But it’s a nice thing to be asked, and I know it means a lot to my dad.”

The induction ended with a sing-a-long led by Maines – who was actually accompanied by her dad, Lloyd Maines – singing the Dixie Chicks classic, “Wide Open Spaces.”

Maines joins her father in the honor, as well as other notable members of West Texas’s Walk of Fame - including Buddy Holly and Waylon Jennings.

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Zac Brown Band Plans More EDM-Infused Material

Following the success of his band’s Jekyll & Hyde album, which experimented with blending country and EDM, Zac Brown says he’s planning on taking the fusion further and producing more songs in the same vein. 

The band has been getting some heat lately though from fans and critics for this new musical direction. Brown said that ‘Jekyll & Hyde’s’ opening track “Beautiful Drug” was inspired by famed EDM DJ – and one-time ZBB collaborator –Avicci! 

Many purists, however, feel that the song has no place on country radio. But Zac is pleading his case, recently giving an interview to Rolling Stone Country and discussing his love for both genres. 

Zac Brown told the magazine, “I’ve read a lot of reviews of the album online, and a lot of people’s complaint was, “This is not a country album. Well, there’s a bunch of songs on there that are country, but we don’t want to abandon any of the market we have now. We just want to gain a new market.” 

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Brown went on to say their new music has been well received live and he doesn’t want to stop making country or electronic music. He says he’ll begin penning new songs and testing them out on the road during the band’s latest leg of their tour. 

Keep watching RAM Country and check out our Artist Spotlight series with Ashley Monroe.

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