Nashville Notes: Garth Brooks Hires a GM for His Label; Brad Paisley Adds More Free College Shows
Here is your weekly roundup of goings on -- artist signings, staffing moves, good news and more -- in the wide world of country music.
Jana Kramer won't be the only country component to ABC's Dancing With the Stars the week of Sept. 19. The show will include a tease of the all-star "Forever Country" video, and viewers will be directed to ForeverCountry50.com, where the full video will debut. The mashup of "On the Road Again," "I Will Always Love You" and "Take Me Home, Country Roads" -- built to honor the 50th Country Music Association Awards -- features 30 acts (31 in the vid) from multiple eras, including George Strait, Randy Travis, Little Big Town, Keith Urban, Ronnie Milsap, Brooks & Dunn, Brett Eldredge and Willie Nelson.
Brad Paisley added six more free university shows to his Country Nation College Tour, with Brett Young, Chase Bryant and Lindsay Ell alternating in the opening slot. The additions are U.S. Air Force Academy (Sept. 29), East Carolina University (Oct. 6), University of Connecticut (Oct. 7), University of Nebraska (Oct. 13), University of Kansas (Oct. 14) and UCLA (Oct. 21). The Greenville, N.C.-based East Carolina is obviously loving the country connection. Eric Church headlined the first-ever Carolina Kickoff Concert on Aug. 20 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Blake Shelton has already been announced as the main attraction for next year's version on Aug. 19, 2017.
Three former Country Music Association album of the year winners have new sets due in the weeks surrounding the 2016 CMA telecast on Nov. 2. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, who won in 1989 with Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Volume II, have a live album, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Friends -- Circlin' Back: Celebrating 50 Years, set for Sept. 30 on its own label, NGDB, distributed by Warner Music. The Kentucky HeadHunters, who won in 1990 with Pickin' On Nashville, will release On Safari on Nov. 4 via Plowboy/Practice House. And Miranda Lambert, who won with Revolution in 2010 and Platinum in 2014, will issue The Weight of These Wings on Nov. 18 through RCA. Also on the way: Jim Lauderdale's This Changes Everything (Sept. 30, Sky Crunch), Loretta Lynn's White Christmas Blue (Oct. 7, Legacy), Sylvia's It's All in the Family (Oct. 7, Red Pony), Mark Collie & His Reckless Companions' Alive at Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary (Oct. 14, Eagle Rock), Exile's Wrapped Up in Your Arms for Christmas (Oct. 21, BFD), Roy Orbison's The Ultimate Collection (Oct. 28, Sony), Jennifer Nettles' To Celebrate Christmas (Oct. 28, Big Machine) and Ty Herndon's House on Fire (Nov. 11, BFD).
Waymore's Outlaws, which is built around three of the late Waylon Jennings' backing musicians, plans its farewell tour for 2017. Drummer (and frequent Jennings producer) Richie Albright, bassist Jerry Bridges and guitarist Fred Newell collectively played on such titles as "Good Ol' Boys (Theme From The Dukes of Hazzard)," "I Ain't Living Long Like This," "Rainy Day Woman" and "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)." Lead singer Tommy Townsend recorded an album that Jennings co-produced.
'ROUND THE ROW
Garth Brooks hired Lesly Simon as GM for his label, Pearl Records, which plans to release a solo Brooks album this fall and an album of Christmas duets with Trisha Yearwood. Simon was most recently Arista Nashville vp promotion.
The Academy of Country Music is actively seeking a permanent CEO. Applicants are urged to submit materials by Oct. 14.
Warner/Chappell and THiS Music signed a co-publishing deal with songwriter J.T. Harding ("Different for Girls," "Sangria").
The BBR Music Group signed new duo Walker McGuire to a recording deal and assigned the act, featuring Jordan Walker and Johnny McGuire, to the Wheelhouse label.
Sister Hazel engaged the Agency for the Performing Arts for concert representation.
Independent artist Steve Dorian joined the Kinkead Entertainment booking roster.
Gary Morris enlisted Webster Public Relations for media.
Female trio Farewell Angelina expanded by one member, adding singer-songwriter-guitarist Lauren Lucas to the lineup.
MOVERS & SHAKERS
Cumulus hired Bailey Dombroski as digital and social media coordinator for America's Morning Show, replacing Eric Heany, who becomes assistant producer of The Blair Garner Show this fall. Dombroski had been a Grand Ole Opry publicity assistant.
WKKW Morgantown, W.V., has an opening for a morning personality.
Abby Zellmer joined WDRM Huntsville, Ala., as PD, RadioInfo.com reported. She had been WGNE Jacksonville, Fla., assistant PD/music director.
WKWS Charleston, W.V., PD Crash Poteet left the station after a two-year stint, according to RadioInfo.com. Johnny Vincent adds the position to his role, which already included PD/afternoons at oldies -sister WKAZ.
Zac Davis was installed as iHeartMedia/Richmond, Va., vp programming, InsideRadio.com reported. He was previously PD for iHeart top 40 outlets WKSS Hartford, Conn., and WKCI New Haven, Conn.
KMLE Phoenix shifted Natasha Castles to evenings, InsideRadio.com reported. She previously covered afternoons at top 40 sister KALV.
Radio veteran Neil Rockoff died Sept. 7 in New Jersey. The former chairman of the New York Market Radio Broadcasters Association was also GM of WHN New York when it was a country station in the 1970s.
This article first appeared in Billboard's Country Update -- sign up here.