Nashville Notes: Tom Cruise Pops Up in Nashville, Garth Brooks Helps Renovate a Children's Hospital and More

Rick Diamond/Getty Images
Carrie Underwood performs onstage during the 2015 CMA Festival on June 13, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.

A round up, first published in Billboard's Country Update, of the many moves and shakes in country.


MOVERS & SHAKERS
Cox Media Group upped its country game in northern Georgia by combining two signals to form "Your Georgia Country" on WNGC Athens at 106.1 FM and WTSH Atlanta.

Asleep at the Wheel founder Ray Benson launched a one-hour bi-weekly show, Austin Outer Limits, on SiriusXM’s channel Willie’s Roadhouse on July 3. The program focuses on western swing and Texas honky-tonk.

WBTU Fort Wayne, Ind., appointed Randy Alomar as full-time PD, RadioInfo.com reported. He had held the position on an interim basis since February.

Also from RadioInfo.com: iHeartMedia/Phoenix hired Brandi Young as senior vp sales for the cluster, including country KNIX. She was previously Townsquare vp corporate sales. Young replaces Linda Little, who is now market manager.

Townsquare/Quincy, Ill.-Hannibal, Mo., promoted Julie Baker to director of sales, according to InsideRadio.com. The four-station cluster includes country KICK-AM and KICK-FM.
 

’ROUND THE ROW
Big Loud Mountain is forming a label, Big Loud Records, with Clay Hunnicutt signing on as president. Hunnicutt was previously iHeartMedia executive vp/GM of national programming platforms. Staff will be added in the coming weeks.

Show Dog Nashville hired Chris Waters as director of Southeast regional promotion. He most recently held a similar post at Warner Music Nashville.

Major Bob Music has partnered with Florida Georgia Line’s Tree Vibez Music, signing songwriter Jordan Schmidt.

Songwriter Wade Kirby ("Doin’ What She Likes," "All Over the Road") has renewed his publishing deal with Round Hill Music.

The Autry National Center of the American West hired Susan Harlow as vp development. She brings more than 30 years of fundraising experience to the center, which focuses on western music and culture, including a vice chancellor post at the University of California-Riverside.

Average Joes Entertainment relocated to 3738 Keystone Ave., Nashville, TN 37211.

Nashville-based karaoQ launched an app for karaoke venues and DJs on July 1 that better controls the on-site experience. The company was a first-year entry in the Entrepreneur Center’s Project Music, a music-tech accelerator.

Drummers D.J. Fontana (Elvis Presley), W.S. Holland (Johnny Cash) and Richie Albright (Waylon Jennings) will receive legend series awards on July 11 during the Church’s Chicken and World’s Fastest Drummer world finals at Nashville’s Music City Center.

The Who Knew Nashville meet-up returns July 22 at 3rd & Lindsley with Native Run, Warner Music Nashville senior vp A&R Scott Hendricks, EchoMusic founder Mark Montgomery and Thirty Tigers founder David Macias, among others.

Songwriter Red Lane died July 1 following a bout with cancer. The 1993 Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee authored Merle Haggard’s "My Own Kind of Hat," John Conlee’s "Miss Emily’s Picture" and Tammy Wynette’s "’Til I Get It Right."

Former concert promoter and artist manager Jerry Weintraub died July 6, according to TMZ. He managed John Denver, promoted Elvis Presley shows and produced such movies as Nashville and Pure Country, the latter featuring George Strait.
 

MUSIC NOTES
Carrie Underwood may or may not be a victor when the final votes are tallied after three rounds of ballots this fall, but she was the winner in one aspect of the 2015 Country Music Association Awards: a solicitation for votes arrived via email shortly after 9 a.m. CT on July 6, roughly three hours before the CMA opened the nominating round in awards voting. Underwood’s email, which suggested five categories in which she might be appropriate, was the first sent to potential voters through the CMA’s approved relationship with HiFi Fusion.

Tom Cruise set tongues wagging when he randomly appeared in the crowd during Nashville’s Fourth of July fireworks display, headlined by Martina McBride. One other notable Independence Day concert moment came during the finale of Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic in Austin: He was joined by Kris Kristofferson, Eric Church and Jamey Johnson on “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.”

Luke Bryan’s forthcoming album, Kill the Lights, has a higher quotient of self-written material than 2013’s Crash My Party. The standard version of Kill the Lights features six songs that he co-wrote -- including two one-word titles, “Fast” and “Move” -- while a Target-exclusive deluxe edition offers three more Bryan compositions. Crash My Party featured just two Bryan-penned titles. Kill the Lights also features Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild as a duet partner on “Home Alone Tonight.”

Wynonna Judd and Terri Clark are the latest additions to Charlie Daniels’ resurrected Volunteer Jam, set for Aug. 12 at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. More than 25 acts had previously committed to the show, including a number that will perform on a free stage outside the arena. Already in the lineup: Craig Morgan, Lee Roy Parnell, Alabama, Trace Adkins and the Oak Ridge Boys.
 

GOOD WORKS
When Garth Brooks brought his tour to Houston, he also brought a little new life to a Child Life Zone. Brooks’ Teammates for Kids Foundation was instrumental in establishing the facility in 2001 at the Texas Children’s Hospital, and he was on hand on June 26 to introduce a renovation to the site, which has an expanded play space, including improved video gaming options. More than 100 kids attended the unveiling of the upgrade. The Houston facility is just one of 11 Child Life Zones, which can also be found in such cities as Denver, Dallas, Phoenix and Indianapolis.
 

ON THIS DATE IN COUNTRY MUSIC

July 6
    • 2008 -- Kix Brooks runs with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.

July 7
    • 2012 -- Eric Church writes “Talladega” with Luke Laird at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y.

July 8
    • 2014 -- Republic Nashville releases Florida Georgia Line’s “Dirt” to radio.
    • 2000 -- Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” begins a five-week ride at No. 1 on the Billboard country singles chart.

July 9
    • 2011 -- Cheyenne Kimball shocks her bandmates by quitting Gloriana via Twitter following a concert at the Franklin County Fair in Union, Mo.
    • 1996 -- Curb releases LeAnn Rimes’ debut album, Blue.

July 10
    • 2010 -- Brad Paisley, Jerrod Niemann and Lee Brice play the AquaPalooza Signature Event for an audience estimated at 65,000 people watching from boats on Lake Travis outside Austin.
    • 2005 -- When Nickel Creek’s Chris Thile plays a solo concert at Nashville’s Station Inn, he’s joined by surprise guest Dolly Parton, who performs “I’ll Fly Away,” “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Jackson” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”

July 11
    • 2006 -- Carrie Underwood performs “The Star-Spangled Banner” prior to Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park. The American League beats the National League, 3-2.
    • 1955 -- Elvis Presley records “Mystery Train” and “I Forgot to Remember to Forget” at Memphis’ Sun Recording Studio.

July 12
    • 2013 -- Jason Aldean becomes the first country artist to headline at Boston’s Fenway Park, kicking off his show with “Crazy Town.” Also filling out the bill are Miranda Lambert, Jake Owen and Thomas Rhett.

Source: RolandNote.com, the Ultimate Country Music Database


To follow BCU, go to @bbcountryupdate

This article first appeared in Billboard's Country Update -- sign up here.