Country Boom Lineup Announced


You've been patient enough and now it's time to let the cat out of the bag. The first Country Boom is Friday, July 13th and Saturday, July 14th in West Salem. Jon joined us this morning to announce the lineup for this new music festival coming to the beautiful Maple Grove Venues. This is going to be an awesome and fun music festival and it's right in our backyard! 

Friday, July 13th

Randy Houser

Aaron Lewis

Tyler Farr

Riley Green

Ben Johnson


Saturday, July 14th

Chase Rice

Phil Vassar

Michael Tyler

Farren Rachels

Josh Phillips



Three Nuggets About Devin Dawson

Devin Dawson is starting to finally get some traction in the country music industry, and it's been a labor of love for the Orangevale, CA native. 

*  His full legal name is Devin Dawson Durrett.

*  He has a twin brother, Jacob Durrett who is also involved in the Nashville music industry. Jacob is a songwriter as well, and pretty talented behind the mixing board in the recording studio. The twins work together as often as possible--and Jacob was also a co-writer on "All on Me."

*  Likely the biggest nugget about Devin Dawson is that you probably watched a video back in 2014 of him performing and maybe didn't realize it's the same guy who you hear singing "All on Me" through your radio today. 

Yep. That's Devin Dawson dueting with Blythe Thomas in the Taylor Swift mash-up that's received well over 35-million views.

His first album, "Dark Horse" is available now--and you can follow him on Facebook & Twitter as well. 


Planes, Rains, & Automobiles

The recent horrible incident where passengers were kept on an airplane for a 12-hour travel delay from Kansas City to Los Angeles got me thinking about my worst travel experience ever several years ago when I was trying to get to a big race in Florida. It was a doozy of a storm, and challenged my wits as well as my stamina.

When I booked my flight to Pensacola for the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway, I seriously thought choosing an airline that had a connecting flight which avoided Atlanta was a good thing.  Unfortunately, I connected in Dallas, which put me right into the middle of the eye of the epic ice storm.

We ALMOST made it out of Dallas, before all hell broke loose.  The delay began with a flight attendant that didn’t show up, so we had to wait for a backup to show, but then the merry-go-round of delays began.  Long lines of planes waiting to get de-iced prior to take off, constipated our forward progress.  On the second attempt to leave, a push-car, which is the vehicle that pushes the plane back away from the gate, had a dead battery, so that caused another delay.  Then the government got involved because the de-icing process had a lot of overspray that was landing on some new construction at the airport.

Yes, a government agency was also part of our delay.  Actually, many of the delays for the planes to get out of Dallas.  They halted the entire de-icing process for ALL planes, until they could figure out where to move the de-icing area to for the planes that was safe.  As you might imagine, the government decision-makers didn’t exactly come to a quick resolution on that matter.  Imagine that?

Bottom line is, after three separate boarding and deplaning efforts for this flight from Dallas to Pensacola, they ended up pulling the pin on the flight and canceling it shortly after 11pm.  Six hours past the original take-off time.

A call to the airline customer service department, as soon as I heard we were not going to make it to Pensacola, landed me on the next available flight there the following day, with a scheduled departure in the early afternoon.  Not exactly ideal, given the race festivities were already underway, but what could I do?

The hotel essentially attached to the airport was plumb full.  A call to various hotels in close proximity revealed they were full too. I decided to drop the hammer and go to get a rental car and just drive it.  I was frustrated.

I waited for the car rental shuttle to come around for about 15 minutes in the icy cold.  I ended up being the only passenger on the big shuttle bus and I was lost in my thoughts.  Should I be trying to drive this potentially 10-hour trek at midnight, given that I had been up since 3:30am?  The frustration of the situation was just spilling over and I was becoming convinced that I could do it, mostly just to get the hell out of Dallas.

It was then that I was jolted out of my thoughts—literally.  The shuttle bus had been rear ended by another shuttle bus for a hotel.  I can’t make this stuff up; the situation was spiraling out of control.

Sitting helpless on the shuttle bus, while we waited for the police and another shuttle to come and take me to the car rental office was my breaking point.  I realized then that I was in absolutely NO condition to drive 10 hours to Pensacola, let alone through a monster ice storm that had engulfed the entire Dallas-Fort Worth area.

I was insane, if I thought I could drive 10 hours to Pensacola after being awake for nearly 21 hours already.  Upon reaching the car rental counter, I instead requested a phone number for a taxi. One of the slick guys behind said counter, hand wrote the number of his friend, who would “take good care of me.” 

I’ll be honest here.  That gave me the willies and not in a good way.  Cold, tired and desperate, I dialed the number anyway.

“Hello?” he answered in his deep, thick-accented voice.
“Hi, I was given your name as a taxi driver to get a ride to…”
“I’m not working now,” and CLICK, he hung up on me!

All I could do at this point was to laugh like a maniacal idiot inside of the rental car building.  Through the tears of insanity, rolling down my face, I spotted a taxi outside, as if it were waiting for me.  I dashed out there to find a man and a woman, bound for a hotel.  The two, who were strangers themselves, both on a plane bound for Oklahoma City were in the middle of the same situation as myself.  Flight cancelled with few options.  Only, they actually attempted to rent a car, but the person behind the counter said they could not take debit cards, only credit cards.  And apparently, despite their debit card having the obvious logo of Visa on it—they were refused service.  I felt for them.  I shared my story of getting rear-ended on the shuttle bus and we all reveled in a kindred spirit of hatred toward the Dallas situation.

The cab ride was harrowing.  When we finally arrived at the hotel, we found that it was perched on a steep incline, not suitable for navigating during an ice storm, but our cabbie was a real sport and gave it all he had.  By God, we made it up the driveway and slid to a stop in front of the entry way, where we piled out and tumbled into the hotel, with our bodies about to give out on us.

The clock struck almost 1:15am when the hotel front desk man greeted us.  He informed us that he only had one room left and it was the Jacuzzi suite.  Lovely!  He then announced that it would run us a whopping $109 for the “night.”

This was the point where I lost my marbles.  I have no idea how I remained calm, but I did.  I shared a euphemism about several things having been shoved sideways where they didn’t belong, repeatedly within the past 8 hours and pretty much begged him to have mercy on three complete strangers who were willing to share a room—not for a night, but for a mere few hours, before we all had to hightail it back to the airport in the hopes of getting to our final destinations or fork out more money for a rental car that would cost far more than it should.

When I finished my little speech, he stood there slack-jawed and said, “I’ve never heard a situation described quite like that before.  I’ll give you guys the room for $69.”

It was a small victory in a day that had quickly developed into the equivalent of any Minnesota Vikings’ football season.

I took a shower and put the same clothes back on, as that was all I had with me, because my husband took my suitcase with him in the race car hauler on Monday to Pensacola.  (He also drove through a car wash with said suitcase in the open bed of his pickup, before leaving, but in the whole scheme of things, I guess that’s pretty minor now.)

I set up a text alert for my new flight to Pensacola before trying to sleep.  Sleep was a fruitless effort.  It is doubtful that I grabbed more than an hour and a half of actual sleep before I heard my cellphone vibrate with a text at 6am.

It was from American Airlines, letting me know that my new flight for Pensacola that afternoon had now also been cancelled.  That was it.  I needed to get to the car rental office and get driving NOW.

I asked the front desk if they were able to call a taxi for me.  Nope, they don’t do that, but they did give me the phone number to call myself, which I tried.  I was on hold for 15 minutes and then a couple and another man, approached the front desk and they too inquired about a cab.

I spoke up and asked if they were interested in sharing a cab, as I was in the process of getting one.  They all brushed me off and while I’m not a racist, I certainly felt the disdain they directed at me, through their narrowed eyes in their olive-colored faces.

Whatever.  I gave up on sitting on hold and called the taxi service back, noting the app they had for getting a taxi, as being the “fastest way to get a taxi.”  And they were right.  I received a phone call to my cell about 2 minutes after booking it online.

The female taxi driver said she was about 10-minutes out from the hotel. I ventured outside and assessed the situation.  I had forgotten about the steep hill access to the joint and I was wearing slick-soled, cowboy boots.  Ugh.  I ventured back inside and asked the front desk if I could have a garbage bag.  They obliged.

Then my Christian heart turned to black.  I spotted one of the rude taxi-seekers in the lobby, on the phone, trying to get through to get a ride.  I considered inviting him to share my cab, but that consideration really only lasted approximately three seconds, as I dashed out the front door, leaving him to twist in his own frustration.

I called the cab lady back and discovered she was minutes away, so I told her to wait for me at the foot of the driveway, as it’s steep and completely covered in ice.  I would come to her.

As I saw her approach, I folded the garbage bag into a big square.  I placed it on the ice, sat down and put my backpack on my lap, before shoving off, sliding down the icy hill to the road.

When I climbed into the cab, my driver was laughing so hard, she could hardly speak.  She said she had never witnessed anything like that before and it made her day.  Because of that, she was only going to charge me a flat $20 for the ride, as we started toward the airport.

Within a matter of minutes, her in-car service device pinged, letting her know someone else was in need of a ride… from the same hotel.  I knew who it was immediately.  I asked her if we had to turn around to get the person.  She informed me that no way was she going to do that, after the effort I put forth to get to the rental car place!  My smile was far too-pleased as we continued to crawl toward the airport, knowing that Mr. Rude was going to have to sit there and wait for at least another half hour.  I gave my cabbie a $10 tip, trying to make up for my horrible thoughts regarding the other fare she was headed back to get.

It took 45 minutes to get my rental car.  Mostly because I was tired of feeling completely screwed over by businesses who wanted to capitalize on all of the displaced travelers.  I had a discount code for 15% that I had used when I booked my original reservation for a car in Pensacola.  They couldn’t just “give me” the discount, as I had to book it myself online to take advantage of it.

So, there I stood at the counter, working on my cellphone, trying to book the rental with the discount.  After repeated attempts with failing cell service, I finally just called their corporate offices.  It took some serious cajoling and selling on my part, but I convinced the guy to help me book it over the phone, so I could get the discount.  Going one-way with a rental car is a losing proposition for any traveler, so I was already getting boned on the deal.  No sense adding insult to injury, right?

Finally, by 9:30am, I was prying the ice-clad rental vehicle open to begin the 10 hour drive.  It was the last compact car in their fleet.  There were only a handful of vehicles remaining for all of the car rental places from what I saw.

As I handed the lady at the gate my paperwork, she issued a huge warning to me to reconsider driving to Pensacola.  I wanted to tell her to shut the hell up and that I was from Wisconsin–this is NOTHING, but instead I just smiled and said, “Bless your heart.”Image

And away I crept–45 miles-per-hour through the city, which resembled a graveyard of smashed vehicles along the road, askew in ditches.  All makes and models, including three trucks–a Ford, a Dodge and a Chevy.  One of them had a ripped up front end, due to impact from the guardrail.  There were several other cars along the road, spun out and abandoned and even a couple of semi trucks too.  I continued to crawl along, praying to get to Pensacola in one piece.

It took a total of three hours of driving to get out of the freezing rain.  I cheered every time the outside temperature gauge read another degree over 32, as that meant a safer trek.  God Bless Texas.  They have a speed limit of 75 on the open highway, which was a beautiful thing, once the freezing rain was no longer an issue!

It rained almost the entire trip.  I hate driving in the rain, but I hate driving in relentless hours of it worse.  I found some joy as I went through Monroe, Louisiana and spotted a billboard for Willie Robertson’s diner.  If I hadn’t been in such a rush to get to Pensacola, I surely would’ve stalked Jase from Duck Dynasty in West Monroe!

Time seemed to fly and surprisingly, despite not having enjoyed much sleep for nearly 48 hours, I was not tired, as I piloted the Toyota to Florida.  It had been estimated to be a bit over ten hours for the drive, but I pulled into Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola just around nine and half hours; and that included two stops for fuel!

And the moral of the story is:  Watch the weather, keep the phone numbers of the airlines and car rental places programmed in your phone and have a “Plan B” ready to roll, so you don’t get burned.

Well, that, or just enjoy the adventure, but make sure you have a sense of humor.  You’ll need it!


Not Stingy on the Laughs

After watching a nearly two-hour long movie this Thanksgiving weekend, I was let down with a very vague ending. I had no idea what happened to the main characters—how or if the conflict was resolved—or if the couple actually stayed together. I was bummed that I invested two hours of my time and was left with more questions than answers. 

Have you ever watched a show or read a book and wondered what happened to the characters AFTER the credits rolled or the last page was turned? 

I found vindication on this subject later during the weekend, when I ventured to the Commonweal Theatre in Lanesboro, where I saw a fantastic play. It answered the questions AFTER the original production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carole.” This follow-up show--“The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge” is now playing through December 22nd at the Commonweal.

This creative sequel to Dickens’ original was penned by Mark Brown, and it is filled with some fantastic characters and huge laughs—many of which are delivered by two guests that we were blessed to have in studio last week—Eric Lee and Philip Muehe. 

Mark Brown was actually in town this weekend too, providing a little “talk back” session after the matinee shows on both Saturday and Sunday. I asked him what made him want to write this show. His answer was intriguing.

He said that he was struck by the events of 9/11 and how the entire country pulled together in the same direction—but by March and beyond the following year, that unity seemingly faded. So it occurred to him that it would be interesting to know if Ebenezer Scrooge actually maintained that “Christmas Spirit” that he was infused with during “A Christmas Carole.”

The beauty of this production is that it’s a hilarious romp with quirky characters that fill in some blanks of what happened AFTER Scrooge found his heart.  The show is peppered with modern twists—the fact that it takes place in a court room certainly plays up our sue-happy society these days, but there were even some questions presented and answered in this show that I had not considered. I won’t provide any spoilers, but suffice it to say—you will be delighted at the creativity woven into this sequel to ol’ Scrooge’s tale. 

“The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge” is a superb show for all ages with a cast that is incredibly talented—and there isn’t a bad seat in the entire house! You have several opportunities to see it yet with your family and make some great memories this holiday season.  Check the schedule for tickets HERE.

We are so blessed to have such a phenomenal theatre and company in Lanesboro. Did you know that the Commonweal recently picked up the 2017 Minnesota Nonprofit Award for Excellence? That is a huge deal, as they beat out all other nonprofits in the entire state for the honor!  Do take the time to enjoy this jewel in our community--and especially "The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge!"


12 Takeaways from the CMA Awards

1.  Country music shows know how to do an opening number that surprises and delights.

2.  Eric Church is capable of laughing at himself--and is probably the only artist who can get away with rockin' sunglasses 24-7.

3.  Brothers Osborne are two of the most humble guys and I will ALWAYS buy a ticket to see them live. #sogood

4.  Carrie Underwood is likely the most amazing vocalist and managed to make the entire country choke back tears last night.

5.  Brad Paisley remains the most overlooked and under-rated performer in the industry.

6.  Reba does not age. That or she has an excellent plastic surgeon.

7.  I may or may not have poked my own eye out due to the body-tingling chills from the perfect harmonies of Little Big Town, when they performed Glen Campbell's "Wichita Lineman."

8.  Many hearts soared when Eddie Montgomery came out on stage to join Dierks Bentley & Rascal Flatts who were covering the Montgomery-Gentry hit, "My Town," in honor of the late Troy Gentry. That had to be tough for him to perform without his best friend.

9.  Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles & Kristian Bush might be reuniting... and it feels so good!

10.  Garth Brooks lip-synched his performance last night--and while that's disappointing--he still is "the man" and it was delightful to see his pure joy and shock at winning Entertainer of the Year.

11.  There is mad love for 90s Country--and that makes me delighted, as we've been playing more of it here on KQ98 for the past 2 years.

12.  One can always count on Country music award shows to be free of political grandstanding--and THAT's just another reason to love it.


Double-Check Your Powerball Numbers

So by now, you've heard that Mavis Wanczyk of Massachusetts won the massive jackpot of $758.7-million in Wednesday's Powerball drawing. After taxes, she'll pocket $443.3-million, which is still a staggering amount of money.

I'm honestly in shock that she came forward so soon. I would've likely stayed anonymous, or at the very least--waited for a long time until the fervor surrounding the huge jackpot calmed down, to avoid rats coming out of the woodwork and targeting me. Hopefully Mavis has put some precautions in place and lined up some legal advice and financial advisors for herself. 

All of that aside--if you purchased a Powerball ticket and just poo-pooed it when you realized that someone else won the big drawing--you should probably double check your ticket--or tickets!  There were 9,397,723 other non-jackpot winning tickets totaling $134,981,575--including someone who purchased a ticket in MINNESOTA and matched the five numbers without the Powerball, which is worth ONE MILLION DOLLARS!

The numbers again were: 6-7-16-23-26 and the Powerball was 4.

I've quadruple-checked my numbers. I still didn't match one stinking number, which has been par of the course lately for me with the lottery. You'll have that. But hey--the next drawing tomorrow night is going to be $40-million, and I'm not too proud to accept that smaller sum of money... should I score the winning numbers. You can't win if you don't play, right?  

Potty Problem with Pudge

We have three dogs. I love each of them equally, but at the moment I'm at my wit's end with one of them: Pudge the Boxer.

We purchased a carpet remnant to replace the old tattered one that was in the dogs' area in our house. It's a nice space on the wood floor, near both the kitchen and the living area. I laid down carpet pad to protect the wood flooring from the scratchy underside of the new, plush carpeting--and to provide the dogs with a little extra cushion for lounging and snoozing. 

Pudge has suddenly taken to peeing on the carpet. He's going to be two years old this week, and we've never had a problem with him peeing in the house--at least not since he was a little puppy. I have not been able to bust him in the act, but my husband's middle daughter heard the distinct sound of peeing, and when she ventured over to see what was going on; the only dog standing was Pudge. Guilty? I think so.

Pudge's penchant for peeing on this new carpet has me a bit nutted up, as I don't want to have the new purchase destroyed--at least not so soon!

It's incredibly difficult to catch him in the act, as he's sneaky. But there are consistently wet spots on the carpet where the deed has gone down. We have been taking him outside for potty breaks more frequently, but it still keeps happening!  I don't know if there's something about the new carpet that he feels the need to "mark it," or what. 

What do you think? What can we do?!


Are You Kidding Me?!

I am the furthest thing from a fashionista. I do not profess to know anything of the fashion industry, but I will say that IF these two styles of jeans are actually selling, I am convinced there is no hope for the future.

The worst part of the whole thing is that it's a hoity-toity department store that is selling them--Nordstroms! Of course, that's pretty apparent when you see the price tag on these two "gems."

The first is the "Clear Knee" cropped Mom jean. Seriously? I can't help but think this is a joke, but it's actually on their website. What is the purpose? Was this something that a drug-addled designer came up with on a late night bender?

And this monstrosity sells for a paltry $95! Are you kidding me?! I can only imagine the total discomfort of sportin' those things in the heat of summer, with the clear vinyl helping to heat up your knees, and having sweat drip down the backs of them--all for the sake of showcasing your lovely knees through clear vinyl. Wow.

This same department store is offering up a pair of pre-dirtied jeans. I can only assume these are made for the man who doesn't really want to work, but needs to have the appearance of having the ability to actually perform labor? It's insulting, quite frankly. Even more so when you look at the price tag of $425 for them! That's probably more than a hard-working man would make in a day where he actually IS getting that dirty. 

If the going rate is $425--I'm going to be rich, as my husband has at least 8 pair of filthy jeans like this.

Who in the hell buys these things? And how can this big-name department store not be embarrassed by the insulting implications of offering them up for sale at such ridiculous price tags?


Easter Candy FAILS

I can remember as a kid being so excited to find my basket on Easter Sunday after church. Much like Santa Claus, I could never figure out how the bunny or Claus could get into our home and to be honest, it scared me to think there was a secret way into our little trailer home. 

The thing that I never knew until I got older was how… “The Easter Bunny…” would actually count out the same amount of jelly beans for each kid’s basket to ensure that my two older brothers and I wouldn’t feel slighted. Never has anyone ever cast their eyes upon three more equal baskets of sweet goodness. 

I was always delighted when I found a delicious morsel nestled down in that plastic green grass when I thought the candy was long gone. 

The candy was traditional and good. I’m not sure I could navigate it all these days. Here’s just a few of the latest concoctions that are
available for “The Easter Bunny” to plop in your basket these days. I’d call them Easter candy FAILS, but there’s a market for every idea—although some are better than others.

Here’s a nice little nugget of goodness: “Dingle Bearies.” Yes, you read that right. I’m not sure how I would feel about putting these in my mouth, although I am grateful they are gummy bears, as opposed to chocolate bears, given the name, I suppose. 

How about one that some kids might readily put in their mouth—“Box of Boogers,” and would likely taste better than the original ones found inside their nasal cavity. I’ll admit it—this one truly is disgusting. I can chuckle at Dingle Bearies, but the Boogers kind of cross a line for me.  However, I’m sure there are some parents who would joyfully buy them for their kids. 

This next one is in that same category—“Bunny Poop.” OK, I admit it. I laughed when I saw this one; although I’m not totally sure that a kid would want this one in their basket. Still, I’m pretty sure it’s not TOTALLY tasteless; I mean, chocolate IS chocolate, right? 

Then with the tremendous adoration for zombies these days in pop culture, I suppose it’s not a stretch for the “Zombie Bunny” to be available. Seriously, who doesn’t want a bite of a Zombie Bunny on Easter Sunday? Mmm! Mmm! It’s even green to resemble rotted flesh, with red accents for blood… which begs the question—is this Easter candy or Christmas? 

I’m not exactly sure what the creators of these confections were thinking, but I am sure that there is a fringe market for them. You probably work with some people who would gladly load up on these items and the makers would laugh all the way to the bank.

I guess I’m just a traditionalist when it comes to candy. I like my Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, and noshing on the ears of a chocolate bunny.  But I probably would buy the “Box of Boogers” for a few select people that deserve them.


I Wanna Be Magical, Like Carrie Underwood

I admit it. I'm envious of Carrie Underwood. She must wake up gorgeous and likely has little birds flitting around her head, helping her straighten up the house. Me? I wake up with the worst bed head--crumbs from last night's snack smashed into my cheek, and I have three slobbering and flatulent dogs (four, if you count my husband) all of whom contribute to the mess at our house.  

Our house isn't as messy, as it is "cluttered."  We are Pile People; you know--bring the mail in and set it on the counter and before you know it, you have a pile of mail that you haven't gone through. Multiple credit card offers that need to be shredded before they can be tossed out, bills that you wish would disappear, magazines that you swear you're going to read, but never find time.

I swear the only time I really thoroughly clean is when someone is coming to visit. I go gonzo on the house then.

I even get crazy with cleaning when a delivery guy is coming. True story. We had to get a new microwave, as ours blew up. I have never scrubbed my stove and kitchen as much as I did before he arrived with it. I even cleaned the dead microwave, as if this was going to be a reflection on me in its eulogy at the dead appliances yard.

I'm hoping I'm not alone on the piles of clutter and the neglected stove... and the cookie crumbs melded to my face in the morning. You do that too, right?


See Aaron Rodgers Home for Sale

Aaron Rodgers is selling his Green Bay home.  It's on just under an acre of land and selling for only $424,000--so for some people that's a reasonable price--not me, but some people.  It's a fairly modest home too, and surprisingly close neighbors on one side of the home.  I really love the three/four season room with the fireplace. The basement has a strange configuration with big picture windows as a wall, almost like it was a recording studio at one time or something. I know I'm not alone when I say that I have a hard time looking at the master bathroom shower and not envisioning a naked Aaron Rodgers. You're welcome.

So the real question is--is Aaron buying a bigger place with more privacy, or is he preparing to leave the area? Given all of the personnel changes at the Green Bay Packers lately, it's a bit of a touchy subject for the Green Bay faithful.

On Target?

There's a movement to do away with the black silhouette paper targets that are used at shooting ranges and police training academies because of perceived "trigger bias."  

Studies conducted at the University of Illinois on this "trigger bias" found that when shown a realistic human target, shooters were more likely to pull the trigger when the target was black.  Shooters weren't just faster to shoot at black targets, there were also said to be more likely to fire at a black target.  

The #NoMoreBlackTargets campaign has a simple goal:  to eliminate the use of human targets for people learning to shoot--in police academies, on shooting ranges, or anywhere someone is learning to use a firearm. 

The movement is trying to reinvent targets through art and creativity.  What do you think of this study and the concept of changing the targets?

Back to Nashville

The long-awaited return of the TV series "Nashville" was last night; now on CMT, instead of ABC.  It was a seamless return, picking up right where it left off oh-so-long-ago. In true television fashion, the most remarkable things happen that force a suspension of disbelief, like Juliette Barnes being the sole survivor of a horrific plane crash that was the cliffhanger before ABC dumped the show.  

I don't know about you, but if I'm ever in a plane crash, I hope that I am laid out on the ground in my airplane seat looking as lovely as Juliette.  We should all be so lucky to look so good with our head split open from debris, but I can forgive the cheesy staging in order to enjoy the fun romp that is "Nashville."  It wasn't too hard to let it go, because Juliette is by far one of the best character actresses on the show.  She can make you want to string her up by her thong panties one minute, and give her a hug the next.  

I'm torn a bit on how Juliette is so hung up on the prospect of possibly being a paraplegic, as if it's a cruel joke that God has played on her, rather than seeing that surviving and living after such an accident should give her hope for the future and feeling as if there is a real purpose for her.  Fortunately, she was told that very thing when she met with the pastor of the church where the "angel" who saved her after the plane crash is a choir member.  I'm hopeful that the mysterious angel will become a regular role in the show and play the guide to goodness for Juliette.  Seriously, if Juliette goes off the deep end again and neglects her adorable daughter, I will have a HUGE issue with it.  But I must confess, I do enjoy her bitchy side from time to time, so I don't want her to become "too good," if you know what I mean.

It's also good to see Juliette and Avery back together, even though she's seemingly trying to do everything to tear it apart.  I'm praying for them.

Gunner and Scarlett are also back together (THANKFULLY) again and seem to be on the rise with their career again as the "Exes," despite them being "Lovers," although that doesn't quite have the same ring for a band name.  I have to say the music on Nashville is so incredibly good.  Maybe it's because they incorporate so much sweet harmony, which I love--but it's still some amazing song writing and melodies.

Even Maddie and Daphne (Rayna James' girls) seem to have upped their game as well in the singing and performing department.  I saw those two live at the CMA Music Festival a couple of times.  They are the real deal, so I'm glad that they are continuing to sing together, after it was starting to look like Maddie was going to be a real bitch of a sister and not allow that to happen early on in the series premiere.  It would appear the two are destined to collaborate together on song writing, which is good because I think their mother is going to need them as her cash cow with her record label, Highway 65--but more on that later.

Rayna had a gig out in Silicon Valley for an uber rich tech guy who is very young, but a "huge fan boy" of her, because he grew up listening to her on his mother's cassettes.  Ain't that sweet?  I had to stifle my pouting when I realized that I was from the cassette generation and this was insinuating that I am "old" like Rayna is supposed to be... only I don't have the body that Rayna has, or the money, so that depressed me a little more.  Thanks, Nashville writers.

Rayna was freaked out about flying and had a panic attack on the way out to California. She claimed it was not because of Juliette's accident, and in the end she opted to drive home to Nashville, rather than use the flight that she already had.  And she wonders why her Highway 65 record label is in such financial trouble?  Paying for a rental car one-way is NOT cheap.  Trust me, I know.  Especially a snazzy convertible like she was driving.

Regardless, there was homage paid to Bluegrass legend, Bill Monroe and his song, "Wayfaring Stranger," which played a role in Rayna's journey--both mentally and literally back home.  That was the song being played by an old, blind man at a full service gas station out in the middle of no where on her trip home.  It was the key to her realizing the path she needs to take, which ended up leading her to want to record a concept album with everybody's favorite guy to eat crackers in your bed--Deacon.  The plan is to tell their love story through the album.  Sounds good to me; I'd buy it.

I think it's pretty obvious that Zach the rich, young, tech guy from Silicon Valley will eventually be financially backing Rayna's Highway 65 Label, which is apparently in financial trouble.  We know this because it was mentioned numerous times by both her and her trusty guy, Bucky.  But yet, they hired a social media guy to take care of that for the label.  And they made him a stereotypical "nerd," which was worthy of an eye-roll.  And guess what?  He was also a young fan boy of Rayna!  All I will say is if the social media "nerd" ends up being the stalker that was watching Rayna through the cracked windshield at the end, I'm going to be angry.

That was the cliffhanger at the end of this 2-hour premiere.  Somebody was watching Rayna walk into her Highway 65 offices through a terribly cracked windshield.  Call me weird, but I couldn't stop pondering why this person hasn't contacted their insurance agency to get it fixed.  I mean, it's on the driver's side for crying out loud!

I don't care how cheesy the show can get from time to time; I love it--particularly the music.  I will always be a loyal viewer of the show, even if I can't control my snarky comments.  How about you?



The Force Fades in a Butt Hurt World

What a bizarre turn of events with Debbie Reynolds passing one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher.  They were an incredibly close mother-daughter pair.  What's even more bizarre is all of the backlash that comedian/actor/musician Steve Martin has been subjected to for a seemingly heartfelt tweet he put out on Twitter after Carrie Fisher's death.

Apparently, New York Magazine didn't feel the same way and writer Claire Landsbaum took Martin to task for "sexualizing" Fisher, who spoke out against that for much of her career.  While I can see a VERY narrow margin of validity to this stream of thought, overall I don't get it.  Do you?  Are you offended by what Steve Martin wrote in his tweet?

Maybe I'm just a big oaf and failed to see the negativity in Steve Martin's short and sweet tribute to Carrie Fisher.  I mean, it's Twitter--where you're relegated to putting your thoughts into only 140 characters.  Eloquence is not easy to convey in that short burst.  I hardly think it was intended to be offensive, yet there's always someone out there who wants to try to make an issue out of something seemingly innocuous.  This society is filled with easily offended people, and sometimes they just crave attention, which is exactly what Ms. Landsbaum is getting over her witch hunt on Martin--who ultimately deleted his tweet.

So much for expressing your appreciation of someone who has died--and being able to speak freely and grieve.  Thanks to political correctness, we all live in fear of offending... unless you decide to give the collective middle finger to the whole movement.  I really wish Steve Martin had not deleted his tweet, caving into the ridiculous accusations.  It was a heartfelt expression; to think otherwise is just heinous.

It WAS an Epic 50th Annual CMA Awards

Randy TravisWe all knew that the 50th annual CMA Awards were going to be huge, and it did not disappoint.  As promised, the opening 8-10 minutes were epic.  It was a sprinkling of all of your favorites of days gone by, and heavy hitters from today.  My absolute favorite moment of the entire show had to be when all of those who were participating in the opening gathered around Randy Travis, and sang his "Forever & Ever, Amen," song--but turned the final "Amen" over to him--and he nailed it!  I know I wasn't alone with tears rolling down my face on that.  It absolutely was the best moment of the entire show.

In case you missed that part, you can view it here.

Collaborations seemed to be a magical part of the mix for the program.  Garth Brooks and his wife, Trisha Yearwood did not disappoint either with their medley of country classics.  I rather enjoyed during the entire night how photos from CMA Awards of the past were flashed up on the big screens throughout performances.  It was a beautiful way to tie the past 50 years together.  When Brad Paisley performed his new tune, "Today," with photos scrolling behind him, it was a heartfelt tribute too.  And by the way, if that performance doesn't remind everyone that he is more than worthy of being nominated again for more awards himself, then I don't know what would.  It frosts me every year to see that he is not nominated for anything.  NOTHING!  He's an amazing musician, who can pierce your heart with his lyrics and make tears of joy or heartache flow.  Hopefully, this will be rectified in the near future of voting on this award show.

My favorite winners of the night had to be Brothers Osborne.  I am a member of the CMA, so I was able to vote.  You bet your butt I voted for them to win "VocalBros Osborne Duo of the Year," but like the brothers, I too was shocked and surprised to see them finally unseat Florida-Georgia Line for the honor.  I was cheering loud and proud in my living room for them.  I'm so glad we were able to bring them in to perform at the Cavalier Theater last year.  It was a fantastic night, and made their victory last night even sweeter.  

I LOVED that Carrie Underwood had an all-female band performing with her for "Dirty Laundry."  I was feeling rather empowered while watching that, and while it was probably not my favorite performance of hers--mostly because it's not my favorite song, she still showcased her amazing pipes... and legs.  It's hard NOT to like Carrie.  She's definitely a true gem for our format.

I have to admit that I never realized prior to Tim McGraw winning Song of the Year with "Humble & Kind," that songwriter, Lori McKenna actually wrote the majority of the lyrics intended as a prayer for five kids.  You can read more on how the song came together here.

The collaboration between Alan Jackson and George Strait was fantastic.  I loved the way that they melded Alan's "Remember When," with George's "Troubadour."  It was a great nod to where we've come and how lucky we are to have artists that we love from years ago still cranking out music that moves us. I'm sure some new artists are hoping to have that kind of staying power in their own careers.  If I'm still alive in 50 years, it will be interesting to see the 100th annual CMA awards and see what kind of production they do to honor the artist from today.

Probably the most divisive moment of the show was the performance of pop artist, Beyonce with the Dixie Chicks.  First--I have to say it was brilliant to pair them up.  Purists were already railing against having Queen B on the program, but then when she was paired up with the Dixie Chicks, you would think that there was a satanic ritual going on, based upon the vitriol being spewed on social media.  If you were one of those who was downright pissed over that performance, I must ask you to step back and take a moment to understand that you're not going to love EVERYTHING in life.  That's part of what makes this big, old, goofy world spin.  I would recommend that if you are still bitter about the Dixie Chicks and their statements made way back when about George W. Bush, you might want to try something that I do.  I'll admit that I was not happy when they said what they did all of those years ago, but this isn't about politics.  It's about music, and I haveBeyonce Dixie Chicks always enjoyed the Dixie Chicks' harmonies and musicianship.  Much like I do on social media, when I see something that I disagree with, rather than start a bitter war with a friend that I adore for reasons beyond politics, I ignore whatever her opinion is on that particular thing.  Her friendship means way more to me than one thing that we disagree upon.  This world is filled with far too many easily butt-hurt people.  Don't be one of those overly sensitive types; you're better than that, and you'll miss out on a lot of really neat things by limiting your view or circle of friends. 

There were plenty of people who actually enjoyed the performance, and you while you're entitled to your opinion--you don't need to crucify those who disagree with you.  Quite frankly, we have enough of that going on with this political season.  So you didn't care for Beyonce's outfit.  I hear ya.  It's not exactly something that I would've chosen to wear, even if I was rail thin.  But are you blind to not see that there have always been racy outfits even on the CMA awards by those who are in the format?  Even last night--Kacey Musgraves had on a very deep v-necked and SHORT dress (see photo below with Dolly Parton).  Or Taylor Swift when she came out to present the Entertainer of the Year award.  Skin to win has always been an issue in recent history, and you are absolutely entitled to be appalled at it, but please don't act like Beyonce is the first performer to ever show more boob than you've ever seen on national television.  Taste and modesty have been endangered species for quite some time now.

Onto other collaborations... thoroughly enjoyed the Chris Stapleton and Dwight Yoakam duet on the Willie Nelson and Ray Charles "Seven Spanish Angels".  That was probably the most soulful performance of the night, and it definitely proved why Stapleton picked up the Male Vocalist of the Year award.Dolly

Loved seeing Vince Gill present the Female Vocalist award to Carrie Underwood--and to be honest, I was thrilled to see Carrie win it.  Vince Gill makes me happy, because his voice; whether he's singing or just talking, it melts my heart.  He's another jewel of country music, and I expect that we will be seeing him honored in the future, much as we did Dolly Parton last night with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.  

Which by the way, that tribute to Dolly prior to her being presented with the award was amazing and her acceptance speech (as expected) did not disappoint.  The only thing that would've made it better was to give her all of the time she needed to make her speech.  It would've been golden.  Shame on the CMAs for not building in enough time to allow her to say it as she intended.

Garth_CMAGarth Brooks winning the Entertainer of the Year was a perfect ending to the 50th annual CMA Awards.  The biggest artist from the 90s taking home the biggest hardware of the night in 2016 shows that both the industry and the fan base are craving what made the 90s so spectacular for country music.  Combine that with a resurgence in the throw-back sound that is Chris Stapleton and Maren Morris, I think our format is poised to make a sweeping change in a direction that is bound to please everyone.  At least we can hope.  

Parents of Kids Who Bully to Face Fines

In Shawano, WI a new ordinance allows police to fine parents $366 if they've been informed their child is bullying and they do nothing about it.  

Bullying is being defined as including actions of physical, verbal, and/or cyberbullying in this new move, which went into effect the last week of April.  Parents of the "offending" children who are caught bullying are going to be given 90-days to take steps to stop the bad behavior of their children.  If they fail to correct the behavior, the $366 fine will be imposed.  If there's a second offense within a year, the fine increases to $681.

I'm on the fence about this, as on one hand, bullying--particularly the cyberbullying variety through social media can be quite vicious, because those doing the bullying are able to hide behind the computer.  But at the same time, I'd like to think that if given the proper instruction, a child could effectively ignore, or more effectively put a bully in his or her place eloquently.  What I mean by that is, my parents taught us to be ourselves and if others didn't like us for who we were, we didn't need that kind of negativity in our lives, so we basically avoided dealing with those people, or let their mean comments roll off of our backs.

I may be oversimplifying this, but I distinctly remember as a kid playing outside with my brother one summer afternoon, and one of the neighbors, an unruly boy hollered over to us in a sing-song manner, "We have peanut butter sandwiches, and you guys don't!"

This may seem ridiculous, but it's true.  I almost responded, but my brother held up his hand and told me to just stay quiet.  

The neighbor kid yelled it again, "We have peanut butter sandwiches, and you guys don't!"

A snarky grin covered my brother's face, as he hollered back, "What?"

The neighbor boy, with a little more volume cried out again, "We have peanut butter sandwiches, and you guys don't!"

Again, my brother bellowed back, "What?!"

This went on for about two minutes, with my brother only forcing the neighbor boy to screech his taunting so loud that eventually, he shouted back, "Never mind!"

And my brother turned to me with a big smile and a wink.

It was a classic lesson for me on how to deal with bullies for the rest of my life.  But today, we're at a point where now the police have to get involved and shut down the behavior for a number of reasons it would seem.  First and foremost, there are parents who are not fully engaged with their children and don't recognize the offending behavior in their children, or they don't want to believe that it exists, so they live in denial about it; allowing the behavior to fester and morph into a more serious problem down the road.  Secondly, technology today, as mentioned earlier makes bullying too easy to do for some kids, allowing them to remain anonymous. 

I don't know what the right answer is, but I'm not sure if fining parents for their children's bullying is going to fix the problem.  What do you think?

Bodily Distractions

I'll admit it.  I'm a fan of the reality TV talent show, "The Voice."  Part of the allure for me is the whole blind audition thing, as it takes looks out of the equation, and gives true talent a chance to shine in this superficial world we live in.  Don't get me wrong; there are still some "lookers" as contestants, as coach Pharrell pointed out last night, with one of Blake Shelton's team members, Mary Sarah, who is quite the country crooner.  

Mary Sarah did a great rendition of Heidi Newfield's "Johnny & June," which by the way I found cute that Blake was the only coach who had ever heard the song, when they all give him grief for the occasional pop song that he's not familiar with some nights.  At any rate, when Pharrell gave his feedback on Mary Sarah's song, he said that he meant this in a very favorable way, but he found her dress pleasantly "distracting."

One can only imagine that if Mary Sarah's dress was distracting to Pharrell, then he surely was feeling downright ADHD with Christina Aguilera's massive boobs hanging out next to him.

Boobs and distraction aside, there were some fantastic performances last night, and I can't even begin to guess who will be eliminated tonight.  What I do know is that Thomas Rhett will be performing his hit, "T-Shirt" on the show tonight, and that is something of a distraction that I welcome!