By Vernell Hackett


Unfortunately, it’s not an uncommon occurrence these days, hearing that someone has entered a public place and shot one, two or more people. The shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival yesterday (October 1) has been certified as the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. It happened in the middle of closing act Jason Aldean’s set, with 22,000 people in attendance.

Jason Aldean in concert, 2016

When we hear of mass shootings we are all horrified, but this is the first time that country music, and thus the family of country music fans, have been touched by a horror such as this. It has happened with other concerts recently, notably the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester not too long ago. She has already reacted to this disaster, saying via Twitter, “My heart is breaking for Las Vegas. We need love, unity, peace, gun control & for people to look at this & call it what it is – terrorism.” I think one of the things that brings this incident so close to home is that any of us who love country music could have been at that festival, watching Jason Aldean, when the bullets started flying.

Certainly, this is going to change the way promoters and venues will look at all concerts, including country, in the future, as did the Grande incident. Country entertainers would want nothing less, for their fans and their band and crew.

Aldean, who left the stage mid-song, tweeted, “Tonight has been beyond horrific. I still don’t know what to say but wanted to let everyone know that me and my crew are safe. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved tonight. It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night. #heartbroken#stopthehate.”

Jake Owen, who also played the festival, says in a tweet, “Praying for everyone in Vegas. I witnessed the most unimaginable event tonight. We are okay. Others aren’t. Please pray.” He also said, “Gun shots were ringing off of the stage rigging and road cases. No one knew where to go … thank you LVPD and responders for keeping us safe.”

Chris Young, also a performer at the festival, said he was still shaking. He tweeted, “Spent I don’t know how long on the floor of a trailer behind the stage … know multiple people are dead. Listening to that gunfire…”  And later, “I’m not gonna say anything else other than I’m lucky to be alive. As are many others .. and so many people are gone …this is heartbreaking.”

Reba McEntire said via Instagram, “My heart goes out to all of our friends, jasonaldean, our music family and fans in Las Vegas. I’m praying for your healing. I pray God puts his arms around you. This is so sad and devastating. I can’t understand it. #prayforvegas #prayfor peace.”

Charlie Daniels tweets, “’Can for today we put aside ethnicities, political-social differences, just be Americans united in respect for those slaughtered in Las Vegas.”

Eric Church tweeted, “Concerts are one of the greatest escapes from the real world that we have. Tragic. Prayers to the victims, their families, and @Jason_Aldean.”






Mac McAnally is one of the most respected singer/songwriters and musicians in country music. Proof of the latter is his eight … count them, I did say eight … times he has been named the Country Music Association’s Musican of the Year at its annual awards show. This year could be number nine when the honors are given out on November 8.

On McAnally’s “Southbound,” released in September, he takes songs from his catalog and arranges them for orchestra. The singer says he’s always been aware that popular songs and orchestra could merge, ever since he listened to his father’s big band jazz records. It was simply a step forward to take his music and merge it as well. “When I wrote ‘It’s Easy’ (from his album ‘Cuttin’ Corners,’ 1980) I was trying to write a classical piece,” he admits.

If you can’t get to one of McAnally’s concerts, check out the schedule for “Mountain Stage” in October – NPR is airing the show that features him sometime during this month.





John D. Loudermilk has written many songs from the tapestry of our lives – “Tobacco Road,” “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye,” Abilene,” “Indian Reservation,” “A Rose and a Baby Ruth,” Waterloo” – and you can find many of his hits on the new album, “A Tribute to John D. Loudermilk,” which came out in September.


Featured on the album are folks who know and appreciate the songwriter – Emmylou Harris, Rosanne Cash, Ricky Skaggs, Rodney Crowell, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver,” along with guitarists Tommy Emmanuel and John Jorgensen. Other who pay tribute include Deborah Allen, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Lee Roy Parnell, Becky Hobbs, Harry Stinson, and his son, Mike Loudermilk.


Loudermilk was a beloved songwriter who passed away last month at the age of 82. He found inspiration for his songs everywhere, even places his peers might not look. His songs have been covered by the Everly Brothers, Allman Brothers, Edgar Winter, Jefferson Airplane, George jones, Flying Burrito Brothers, Waylon Jennings, Anne Murray, Willie Nelson, Jay Z and Kanye West.


The album is live, recorded at the Franklin Theatre in March of last year. A film of the concert will be released as a PBS special.  All proceeds from the sale of the album will go to MusiCares, an organization which helps safeguard the health and well-being of people who work in the music industry.



Entertainers have the unique privilege of calling a group of their buddies and getting together to raise money for a great cause.

Lee Brice and friends at the City Winery in Nashville, from left, Tyler Farr, Charles Esten, Ginger Gilbert Ravella, Lee Brice, Major Ed Pulido, Jerrod Niemann.

Lee Brice and a bunch of his friends did exactly that recently when they have raised more than $100,000 for Folds of Honor, an organization tht provides educational scholarships to families of military men and women who have fallen or bee disabled while on active duty in the U.S. armed forces.

Brice and friend Charles Esten from “Nashville,” Jerrod Niemann, Tyler Farr, Tim Montana and Lucas Hoge performed a songwriter’s “In The Round” at  City Winery. The next day there was a “Record Rack Celebrity Clays Shoot” at the Nashville Gun Club, where Brad Arnold of 3 Doors Down, Keith Bulluck of the Tennessee Titans, Craig Campbell and Lewis Brice, and others, participated .

Brice will forever be connected to these men and women through his megahit, “I Drive Your Truck,” which is about how one man copes with the loss of his brother, who died in service to his country. It is a true story, and Brice met the family the song was written about.

“I’m grateful and humbled by the support of my friends, sponsors and the incredible audience at City Winery who not only paid for tickets but participated in the silent auction. Together, we’re making a difference in the lives of families who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”



Growing up on a ranch in Oklahoma and riding on the rodeo circuit brought  Reba McEntire to have a special bond with horses.

When she went to see “Odysseo by Cavalia” in Nashville recently, she was in love all over again.  The show, which just ended its run in Nashville, and its final shows for this year, is a combination of beautiful horses and wonderful performers coming together to create a totally unique entertainment production for its au

Cavalia Founder & Artistic Director Normand Latourelle, rider Yoann, horse Andaluz (Spanish Purebred), Reba McEntire and Julie, aerialist

diences. Founder and artistic director, Normand Latourelle, says he set out to create a show never seen before, and he certainly has achieved his goal.

McEntire agreed totally, calling her evening experience, “Spectacular! What a show!”

Latourelle is one of the founders of Cirque de Soleil, so is quite familiar with gathering together a huge group of talented people who can entertain a crowd. This time, he merges the excitement of horses with the magic of dancers, trick riders, trapeze, drummers and riders, who totally enthrall their audience.

While “Odysseo by Cavalia” is over for the year, no doubt it will tour somewhere close to you next year. Remember that name, and when you see a big white tent going up somewhere in your hometown area, buy your tickets quickly, as the shows are almost always sellouts.




Aaron Watson has invited a few friends to join him at the Ryman in Nashville this Wednesday to play “A  Night of  Texas Music” benefitting American Red Cross Hurricane Harvey response efforts. Joining him will be Leslie Satcher, Mickey Guyton, Jim Collins and Jon Wolfe, all fellow Texans who are donating their time for the effort.

Watson has been on tour for the past couple years, and has reached the half million mark in ticket sales with over 100 sold out shows, covering 40 states and eight countries.

“It is such an honor to headline the iconic Ryman stage, and having the opportunity to turn this into a benefit for all of the folks in Southeast Texas who really need our help is going to make it an extra special night,” says Watson. “Really grateful for the chance to give back.”




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