Nashville Notes: Miranda Lambert to Find Harmony Award; Big Machine Writes Big Check; Unrest at Thirty Tigers
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
One of country's most important markets, Dallas-Fort Worth, hosts a couple of major events this month. Moonshine: The Hee Haw Musical started previews Sept. 2 at the Dallas Theater Center with opening night slated for Sept. 18. Brandy Clark and songwriter Shane McAnally ("House Party," "Real Life") wrote the music and lyrics for the production, which includes former American Idol contestant Justin Guarini in the cast. Meanwhile, on Sept. 23, AT&T Stadium in Arlington will host an attempt at setting a world record with the largest game of Twister. The event is a not-so-veiled play on the title of Thomas Rhett's album Tangled Up, which will be the centerpiece of a live broadcast from the stadium that night on Cumulus' Shawn Parr-hosted Nash Nights. The album is due Sept. 25.
Miranda Lambert will receive the 2015 Harmony Award from the Nashville Symphony during the annual Symphony Ball on Dec. 12 at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Previous recipients include Keith Urban, Vince Gill, Brad Paisley, Taylor Swift and Dolly Parton.
Release dates have been set for a handful of new albums. They include Mac McAnally's A.K.A. Nobody, due Sept. 18 on Jimmy Buffett's Mailboat label; an as-yet-untitled album for Tim McGraw scheduled for Nov. 6 via Big Machine; and Chris Young's I'm Comin' Over, coming out on RCA on Nov. 13.
With the Country Music Hall of Fame currently devoting an exhibit to Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, a biography by Peter Guralnick is also on the way. Little, Brown and Company will publish Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'N' Roll on Nov. 10. The project is accompanied by Yep Roc's Oct. 30 release of a Guralnick-curated, two-CD compilation of the same name, featuring music by such Phillips-associated acts as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Howlin' Wolf and Jerry Lee Lewis. Another book of note is Country Faith Christmas, penned by Billboard contributor Deborah Evans Price. Due Oct. 19, it includes holiday tales by the likes of Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire and Florida Georgia Line, with a foreword by Little Big Town's Kimberly Schlapman.
'ROUND THE ROW
The GreenRoom is shifting ownership, with Mary Hilliard Harrington selling a majority stake in the company to veteran staffers Tyne Parrish and Kristie Sloan. The firm represents Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum and Rascal Flatts, among others. Harrington will consult with the shop during the transition and continue to manage Dierks Bentley and Dot artist Tucker Bea-thard .
Big Loud Records added David Clapper as Southeast region director of promotion on Sept. 8, making him the third employee in the department for the new label. He was previously Cox Media/Atlanta director of branding and programming.
Thirty Tigers acquired the Unrest Music Group and installed principal Gino Genaro as Thirty Tigers vp country music management. Unrest represents Aaron Watson and Cameran Nelson.
Big Machine Label Group added three staff members. Senior director of employee relations Jenny House was most recently Universal Music Group Nashville senior director of administrative services. Shannon Emily joined BMLG as accounting manager after relocating in Nashville from Washington, D.C., where he was lead accountant for the nonprofit Heritage Foundation. Accountant Lauren Perry arrives from Sony/ATV, where she was global royalty coordinator.
Toronto-based ole signed songwriting deals with Canadian country artist Meghan Patrick and songwriter-producer Phil O'Donnell ("Doin' What She Likes," "Already Callin' You Mine”).
Sandbox Management has agreed to represent the Hank Williams estate, represented by offspring Jett Williams and Hank Williams Jr. Sandbox, which already handles such acts as Kacey Musgraves and Little Big Town, assigned the account to Josh Matas.
Indie act Mike Aiken signed with Lowe-Rider Entertainment for concert booking.
Exile has joined the client roster at Webster Public Relations.
The Country Music Association is signing a 10-year lease that will move it to 35 Music Square East in Nashville, an under-construction property recognized as the SESAC building. Meanwhile, balloting for the CMA's SRO (Standing Room Only) Awards began Sept. 8. Finalists for the CMA Awards will be announced Sept. 9.
Songwriter Jeffrey Steele ("Raise 'Em Up," "What Hurts the Most") will hold an eight-week Songwriting Bootcamp 2.0 beginning in October.
Singer-songwriter-guitarist Boomer Castleman died Sept. 1, The Tennessean reported. He worked with Michael Martin Murphey in a duo known as Lewis & Clarke Expedition during the early part of his career. Castleman also invented the palm pedal, a device that guitar players use to emulate pedal-steel bends, and played on numerous Nashville sessions, including work with George Jones and Johnny Lee's "Country Party" (No. 15, 1977).
A celebration of life will be held 5 p.m.-7:30 p.m. on Sept. 10 for AristoMedia Group president Jeff Walker, who died Aug. 24. The event takes place at Nashville's City Winery.
RADIO MOVERS & SHAKERS
Tom Baldrica has joined Midwest Communications as country brand strategist. The company's country portfolio includes such stations as WLFW Evansville, Ind.; KTCO Duluth, Minn.; and WGEE Green Bay-Appleton, Wis. Baldrica's history includes stints in both radio and records, most recently as Show Dog Universal vp promotion and marketing.
America's Morning Show, syndicated by Westwood One, counts 41 affiliates following its Sept. 8 debut on six new stations: WZRR Birmingham, Ala.; WOMG Columbia, S.C.; WWFF Huntsville, Ala.; WOGT Chattanooga, Tenn.; WKOS Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol, Tenn.; and WUUF Rochester, N.Y.
Cox Media Group promoted Michelle Harper to vp sales for the company's multiple platforms. She was previously WSOC-TV Charlotte general sales manager. Among the chain's country outlets are KKBQ Houston; KWEN Tulsa, Okla.; and KCYY San Antonio.
Saga/Ithaca, N.Y., promoted Chase Daniels to assistant operations manager for the cluster and assistant brand manager for country WQNY, RadioInfo.com reported. Daniels had been WQNY afternoon-drive host/imaging director.
Country music had a bit of a check list going last week -- oversized checks were handed over to worthwhile causes on successive nights in downtown Nashville.
Arista artist Cam took part in one of those presentations, as jewelry designer Kendra Scott made a $10,000 donation to ACM Lifting Lives on the red carpet prior to the ninth annual ACM Honors on Sept. 1 at the Ryman Auditorium. Scott's gesture comes on the heels of opening a new retail outlet in Nashville.
The next morning, Big Machine Label Group used its 10th anniversary as an occasion to deliver $100,000 to Music Makes Us, a music-education -program in the Nashville public school system. The Band Perry, The Cadillac Three and Danielle Bradbery joined BMLG president/CEO Scott Borchetta for the presentation, attended by students from Music City's Hume-Fogg.
This article first appeared in Billboard's Country Update -- sign up here.