Nashville Notes: Republic Nashville Gets New Name; Kelsea Ballerini Sets First Headlining Tour

Dave Kan
Kelsea Ballerini

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

Miranda Lambert performed her new single, "Vice," in concert for the first time on July 28 at the Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. She set up the performance by saying she had been honest from the start of her career, then delivered the confessional piece with a mix of smiles and grimaces, working into a near-trance by the close. It was a definite highlight in a show in which she owned the stage with a new level of surety and seemed emotionally invested in every song. Lambert stocked the set with a handful of covers -- Mountain's "Mississippi Queen," Foghat's "Slow Ride" and Little Feat's "Willin' " -- and wrapped the night with backup singer Gwen Sebastian and openers Kip Moore and Brothers Osborne in a mass version of Kris Kristofferson's "Me and Bobby McGee."

Kelsea Ballerini has her first headlining tour on the horizon this fall with 11 club and small theater dates on the schedule. The tour kicks off Oct. 21 at the House of Blues in Houston and winds up Dec. 9-10 at the Orleans Casino in Las Vegas. Cam will open the latter two dates. Opening acts for the other dates are Carly Pearce, Morgan Evans, Levi Hummon or Jacob Davis.

The International Bluegrass Music Association's reigning entertainer of the year, The Earls of Leicester, look to clean up again during the 2016 awards on Sept. 29 in Raleigh, N.C. The act picked up eight nominations to lead the pack when finalists were announced July 27, with three of those nods -- entertainer, vocal group and instrumental group of the year -- recognizing the band as a whole. The other five went to individual members: vocalist Shawn Camp, bass player Barry Bales, banjo player Charlie Cushman and twice-nominated Dobro whiz Jerry Douglas. The Del McCoury Band followed with six nominations; Flatt Lonesome collected five.

The Country Music Hall of Fame will open another new exhibit, "Alabama: Song of the South," on Aug. 25. Among the artifacts in the display are the electric guitar Randy Owen used to write "Mountain Music," a table-top radio that provided some of Teddy Gentry's earliest exposure to music, Jeff Cook's first electric guitar and several of the band's awards. The exhibit will remain open through July 16, 2017.

 

'ROUND THE ROW

Big Machine Label Group has taken full ownership of Republic Nashville, which it previously co-owned with Republic Records. The imprint is being renamed BMLG Records. Jimmy Harnen remains president, and Matthew Hargis continues as vp promotion … 

Warner Music Nashville promoted Peter Strickland to the newly created post of chief marketing officer from executive vp/GM. Concurrently, the label announced Matt Signore will take over Jan. 1, 2017, as COO, segueing from WEA president … 

Capitol Nashville hired two regional promotion directors: Annie Sandor, who will work the Southeast, and Mara Sidweber, assigned to the Southwest. Sandor was most recently a Curb regional. Sidweber had been Southern Ground vp promotion … 

Sony Music Nashville promoted Hannah Dudley to vp marketing strategy from director of marketing … 

Nashville publishing vet Tim Wipperman is one of three founders in the new Rezonant Music, which is opening branches in Music City, New York and Los Angeles. Wipperman serves as CEO with New York-based Garry Velletri as executive vp creative and Los Angeles-based Alan Walter as financial consultant. Rezonant acquired rights to the catalog of songwriter Matt Jenkins ("Confession," "Cop Car") and established a co-venture with songwriter-producer Kevin Kavish ("All About That Bass")… 

Former Thirty Tigers vp marketing Lynn Oliver-Cline founded River House Artists, signing Luke Combs to a recording deal and Ray Fulcher to a songwriting contract. Thirty Tigers is handling distribution and marketing … 

Opry Entertainment added three new executives to its multimedia production team. Writer-producer Ben Stansbury has produced a number of country videos, writer-producer Jill Wilderman founded the Los Angeles-based Spotlight Country, and videographer Caleb Thomas worked in video production on ABC series Nashville… 

Moonstruck Management hired Ben Wilson as a booking agent. For the last two years, Wilson was executive director of the Uncle Dave Macon Music & Arts Festival in Murfreesboro, Tenn. … 

Pennington Entertainment has partnered with concert-production company 44 Designs to provide a tour and event production team … 

Frankie Ballard signed with Creative Artists Agency for booking … 

Erica Nicole signed with Reviver Label Services … 

Songwriter Jessi Alexander ("I Drive Your Truck," "Drink On It") signed a co-publishing agreement with THiS Music and Warner/Chappell … 

Nashville actress Clare Bowen signed with ASCAP … 

Creative Artists Agency's Jeff Gregg was elected Leadership Music president, with four new members added to the board: Ron Cox, Avenue Bank; B.J. Hill, Warner/Chappell; Chandra LaPlume, Taillight TV; and songwriter Stacy Widelitz.

 

MOVERS & SHAKERS

Alpha Media hired two new market managers and restocked the morning team at WIRK West Palm Beach, Fla. Premiere Networks' Brooke & Jubal -- featuring Brooke Fox, Jubal Flagg and Jose Bolanos -- debuted Aug. 1 on WIRK, the first country station to carry the program, which went into syndication in the spring. Chelsea Taylor, who was part of WIRK's previous morning team, will continue to provide local content. Alpha hired Mark Benkiel as market manager in Moberly-Macon, Mo., where the cluster includes country KRES. Benkiel was most recently Cumulus/Macon, Ga., general sales manager. Mike Fell joined Alpha/Clinton, Mo., as market manager, with oversight of country KDKD. Fell had been Badlands/Rapid City, S.D., GM … 

WEBG Chicago moved Amber "Alabama" Cole from afternoons to mornings on Aug. 1 … 

Cox Media/Ohio promoted Rob Rohr to market vp from senior vp/GM. Relevant brands include country WHKO Dayton … 

Cox Enterprises, the parent of Cox Media, added COO duties to executive vp Alexander C. Taylor's role … 

Beasley Media bumped Brian Beasley up to COO from executive vp operations. Among the chain's country stations are WKLB Boston and KCYE Las Vegas … 

Tom Potts joined iHeartMedia/Milwaukee as vp sales, RadioInfo.com reported. He had been E.W. Scripps/Milwaukee account manager. His new post includes work with country WMIL … 

Andrew Kirby and Tory Wuychuck take over mornings at KJUG Visalia, Calif., on Aug. 10, according to RadioInfo.com. The duo left the comparable time slot at KBKB Burlington, Iowa, in July … 

Karla Cantrell stepped in as KTGX Tulsa, Okla., PD, InsideRadio.com reported, after a run as PD at KVOX Fargo, N.D.

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