Here is your weekly roundup of goings on -- artist signings, staffing moves, good news and more -- in the wide world of country music.
The Judds are making the most of their nine-date, Girls Night Out mini-residency at the Venetian Las Vegas. Following their Oct. 7 opening, Naomi Judd and husband Larry Strickland attended Celine Dion's Oct. 9 performance at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. And Wynonna welcomed a surprise guest during their Oct. 10 concert at the Venetian: former Foreigner vocalist Lou Gramm joined Wynonna on "I Want to Know What Love Is."
With a new studio album on the way in 2016, Blake Shelton has 11 dates on the books for the next calendar year, beginning with a Feb. 18 concert in Cincinnati and running through a March 19 booking in Pittsburgh. The schedule includes a March 4 stop at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. In that same time frame, Jason Aldean launches his first Australian tour, a three-date run that begins March 8 in Melbourne with Florida Georgia Line opening. Charles Kelley has also set his first solo tour, which starts Nov. 28 at the House of Blues in Cleveland. The Driver Tour currently features 22 shows through Jan. 28.
Scotty McCreery and Little Big Town's Karen Fairchild are both venturing into waters outside their usual music pursuits. Zondervan will publish McCreery's first book, Go Big or Go Home: The Journey Toward the Dream, on May 3, 2016. Fairchild will debut a fashion line, Fair Child by Karen Fairchild, on Oct. 27 on Evine Live.
Arista Nashville/Legacy plans a major retrospective on Alan Jackson just in time for the holiday shopping season. The three-disc set, Genuine: The Alan Jackson Story, wedges eight previously unreleased tracks into a 59-song collection available Nov. 6 exclusively through Walmart. Those eight newbies include live versions of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and of the Eagles' "Seven Bridges Road." A note for trivia buffs: Singer-songwriter Steve Young, who authored "Seven Bridges," was born in the same town as Jackson: Newnan, Ga.
'ROUND THE ROW
Bradford Hollingsworth joined Valory as director of Northeast promotion and marketing, filling a position vacated by Shari Roth in August. Hollings-worth was previously Country Radio Seminar director of brand marketing and strategic partnerships.
Valory's sister label, Dot, announced it has signed Ashley Campbell, the daughter of legend Glen Campbell, to a recording deal. She's managed by TKO Artist Management.
Roger Fregoso claimed the last radio-promotion post for the new Big Loud label, becoming Midwest region director of promotion. He was most recently in promotion for Curb.
Big Loud Shirt signed songwriters Brad Warren and Brett Warren ("Red Solo Cup," "Drink to That All Night") to a co-publishing deal.
Jeremy Holley and Laura Hutfless launched marketing company FlyteVu on Oct. 1. Holley was previously Warner Music Nashville senior vp consumer and interactive marketing. Hutfless was music brand partnership agent for Creative Artists Agency. FlyteVu's first employee is Whitney Byerly, formerly CAA sponsorship assistant.
Hill Entertainment Group hired Michael Sloane as head of digital marketing strategy. He had been Big Machine Label Group director of interactive.
The Cole Law Group welcomed Wayne Halper as senior attorney/head of its entertainment law division. Halper has owned his own law office since 2004.
New West added Mike Fabio as director of digital marketing and Jake Lanier as manager of media relations for its Nashville office. Fabio arrives from Tiny Jetpack, a social media marketing firm he established in 2011. Lanier was a Sacks & Co. Nashville associate publicist.
Canadian-bred duo High Valley, featuring brothers Brad Rempel and Curtis Rempel, signed a recording contract with Atlantic/Warner Music Nashville.
Singer-songwriter Courtney Cole signed a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell. She was already affiliated with ShopKeeper Management.
Mark Wills inked a management deal with Hallmark Direction and joined the Webster Public Relations roster.
Drummer Hugh Wright died of natural causes at his home in Montana on Sept. 25. The Iowa-born musician was a member of Boy Howdy during the 1990s, playing on the hits "She'd Give Anything," "A Cowboy's Born With a Broken Heart" and "They Don't Make 'Em Like That Anymore."
Billy Joe Royal died April 6 at his home in North Carolina. After reaching national prominence with the 1965 pop single "Down in the Boondocks," he segued into country during the 1980s, accruing six top 10 singles, including "Burned Like a Rocket," "Love Has No Right" and "Tell It Like It Is."
A celebration of life will be held for late Fan Clubhouse founder/CEO Sharon Eaves at 5 p.m. on Oct. 14 at City Winery in Nashville.
MOVERS & SHAKERS
Westwood One hired Karen DeFriez as affiliate sales manager for its country brands, including America's Morning Show, Nash Nights Live, Kickin' It With Kix and American Country Countdown. She was previously Premiere Networks affiliate sales director for 17 years.
CBS Radio hired Sam Rogers as vp national sales and corporate partnerships. He arrives from Radio One, where he was vp national and corporate sales. CBS-owned country stations include KILT Houston, KMLE Phoenix and WUSN Chicago.
Greater Media promoted Steven Meyers to director of digital operations from director of digital strategies. The chain's lone country outlet is WKLB Boston.
Steve Mills joined iHeartMedia as chief information officer after holding the same post at Motorola Mobility, RadioInfo.com reported.
The $429 early-bird registration price for the Country Radio Seminar closes Oct. 16, with the regular rate of $529 taking effect the next day. The conference runs Feb. 8-10 in Nashville.
With the country music business clustered in Nashville, it only makes sense that a huge amount of benefit shows take place in Middle Tennessee. A handful have been added or updated for the months of October and November:
• Craig Morgan will welcome Halfway to Hazard, singer-songwriter Adam Sanders ("Ain't Worth the Whiskey," "Hell of a Night") and American Idol alum Janelle Arthur when he holds a concert and golf tournament Oct. 17 in Dickson, Tenn., with proceeds going to his Dickson County Foundation.
• Love and Theft tops the bill Oct. 28 for a Fundraising Fright Night concert at Tin Roof Nashville. The beneficiary is the Nashville Basket Brigade, an organization that provides Thanksgiving meals to families in need.
• Lady Antebellum takes over Nashville's Schermerhorn Symphony Center on Nov. 9 for Hearts Unsung, a concert presented with Cumulus' Nash brand to raise funds for the Children's Miracle Network. The benefit will be part of a Nash TV Films project that reaches movie theaters Jan. 21.
• The Marshall Tucker Band shares the stage with Restless Heart, Shenandoah and Craig Wayne Boyd during the annual Christmas 4 Kids concert on Nov. 23 at the Ryman Auditorium. The show is named for the organization that receives the funds.
This article first appeared in Billboard's Country Update -- sign up here.