Little Big Town is, from left, Phillip Sweet, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook and Karen Fairchild.
From Wednesday’s Life section of The Oklahoman.
For 10 years, Kimberly Schlapman, Karen Fairchild, Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet have been making beautiful music together as Little Big Town.
The country quartet known for its four-part harmonies is opening shows on the fall leg of Carrie Underwood’s “Carnival Ride Tour,” coming tonight to the BOK Center.
The group also is marking the recent re-release of its 2007 album “A Place to Land” with four added tracks. “Elvis Presley Christmas Duets,” featuring Schlapman and Fairchild singing with the King on “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” came out this month, too.
Schlapman talked in a phone interview from Virginia about the band’s projects and touring with family.
Q: How’s the tour going?
A: It’s going fantastic. We’re having a ball. Carrie’s been really great to us, and she’s given us all her lights and all. We’ve never had so many lights to use. … That makes a huge difference in the show.
Q: Why did you re-release “A Place to Land”?
A: When we were at Equity (Records) only one single was released off of that CD, and so when we knew that we were leaving and going to another label, we almost began to grieve that CD because we thought that we were going to have to leave it behind. …
Capitol (Records) decided to bring that with us over there and to re-release it with new artwork and some new music so that it could get out to more people. … We were just over the moon.
Q: What was it like to record with Elvis?
A: It was the most amazing day. … We got to cut it in the studio where Elvis did his recordings on the same mike that Elvis used.
Q: Does your daughter, Daisy, 15 months, tour with you?
A: She tours with me, yeah. She has her own little bunk right across from mine. And she does really well. … We’re fortunate that my husband (Stephen Schlapman) can come out with us, too, so he plays Mr. Mom and is a phenomenal dad.
Fellow Oklahoman Garth Brooks inducts Carrie Underwood into the Grand Ole Opry earlier this year. (Associated Press photo)
It’s Carrie Underwood Day here at BAM’s Blog, marking her big show tonight in Tulsa!
So far, 2008 has been a big year for the Oklahoma native, from her induction into the Grand Ole Opry to her immortalization in wax. Check out this NewsOK slide show to see photos of some of the highlights and hear a clip of Underwood’s interview with me.
From Wednesday’s Life section of The Oklahoman.
Carrie back home for “Carnival Ride”
Tulsa show another highlight in Underwood’s hectic year
Carrie Underwood’s year has been packed with highlights, from her induction into the Grand Ole Opry to a holiday duet with Elvis to her immortalization in wax.
The country music star reaches another highlight of her hectic year today: returning to her home state.
The Checotah native and special guests Little Big Town will perform at 7:30 tonight at Tulsa’s new BOK Center, a venue she is eager to play. Underwood, 25, said the latest stop on her “Carnival Ride Tour” will be just her second trip back to Oklahoma this year.
“I’m just looking forward to coming home. It’s been too long,” Underwood said in a recent phone interview from Virginia.
The 2005 “American Idol” winner embarked in February on her first headlining tour, supporting her 2007 sophomore album “Carnival Ride.” She has been on tour virtually nonstop since.
“At first I was really nervous, almost to the point of making myself sick. … I was envisioning the worse, obviously,” she said. “But it’s been great; people have been turning up and having a good time. I love it when venues are like oh, we’ve sold out. It’s good. Good news keeps happening.”
Between singing on the TV special “Stand Up to Cancer,” earning top female vocalist honors at the Academy of Country Music Awards and playing sold-out shows, Underwood accepted an invitation this year to sing a Christmas duet with the late, great King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
She was one of 11 women singers picked for “Elvis Presley Christmas Duets,” a new album that used studio technology to seamlessly merge new performances with Presley’s old recordings.
Underwood crooned along with the King on “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and said she will proudly show off the song someday to her children and grandchildren.
“When you actually get into the studio and you hear Elvis Presley’s voice and you’re harmonizing with it … it’s just very surreal. And we recorded that song in the studio he used to record at quite frequently; that even made it more nostalgic. It was a very good experience and it’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime things,” she said as her rat terrier Ace barked in the background.
Underwood also accepted an invitation from the Country Music Association to co-host the Nov. 12 CMA Awards with Brad Paisley. Underwood and Paisley are the reigning CMA top female and male vocalists and are nominated for those titles again.
“Brad and I have been paired together on a lot of stuff and we have a really good chemistry. He’s definitely a good friend of mine, so they didn’t have to talk me in very much. I was in from the start,” she said.
She said the highlight of her year – and life – happened this spring when she was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry. One of her musical idols, fellow Oklahoman Garth Brooks, handled her induction.
“The Grand Ole Opry is synonymous with country music. No other genre of music has anything like it. … The whole process was just magical,” she said.
Her latest good news occurred last week, when Underwood unveiled a wax likeness of herself at Madame Tussauds New York. Artists from the famed house of wax visited Underwood on the road to get measurements, take pictures and have her model for the wax doppelganger.
While the experience was fun, Underwood said she was a bit befuddled as to why her likeness would be included in the museum’s “VIP Room.”
“Whenever, like, I was asked about it, I was kind of like ‘why?’” she said laughing. “I don’t know, I envision myself being one that people walk through and everybody being like ‘Who is this blond chick? Why is she here?’”
Kimberly Schlapman of Little Big Town said Underwood is “a doll” who has stayed down to earth and puts on a great show.
Underwood expects tonight’s show, and spending time after with family and friends, to be another highlight for her year.
“Hometown crowds are the best. They’re the ones that are most excited, especially Oklahoma because it played such a huge role in supporting me throughout ‘American Idol’ and eventually putting me where I am now. So it’s great to go back and kind of pay homage and just have fun with my people.”
Who: Carrie Underwood with special guests Little Big Town.
When: 7:30 tonight.
Where: BOK Center, 200 S Denver, Tulsa.
Information: (866) 726-5287 or www.bokcenter.com.
Kevin Durant goes up for a shot during a preseason game. (Associated Press photo)
Today’s featured event:
The Oklahoma City Thunder NBA team opens its inaugural season at 7 p.m. today against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Ford Center, 100 W Reno.
A pregame block party including live music, inflatables for the kids and more starts at 2 p.m. on Reno Avenue.
If you don’t yet have tickets, a limited number of tickets will go on sale at 5 p.m. at the Ford Center. Fans can begin lining up for them at 2 p.m.
For more news on the Thunder, go to www.newsok.com/sports.
For more information on the team, go to www.nba.com/thunder.
For more events, go to www.wimgo.com.
Cody Canada at the Stagecoach Music Festival earlier this year. (Associated Press photo)
My sister-in-law, Amy McDonnell, and I experienced a great night of music, without children or deadlines, Monday night at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa.
It was kind of an early Christmas gift to each other to take in Cross Canadian Ragweed’s electric show at the historic venue. As a single mom of two girls, she doesn’t get to go to many concerts, and as an entertainment writer, I rarely get the chance – or have much desire, to be quite honest – to go to show that doesn’t involve work.
But we both love us some Ragweed - and since Amy didn’t get to go with me to the band’s Family Jam last month at Oklahoma City’s Zoo Amphitheatre – we snagged a pair of tickets.
It was my first show at Cain’s, still the “Home of Bob Wills” though he died in 1975, and I loved the historical ambiance, the solid acoustics and the springy wood floor, perfect for nonstop dancing to some scorching country-rock. Unfortunately, the ballroom was not even half full for the band’s Monday night electric show. (The Oklahoma-Texas band also performed an acoustic show Sunday night at Cain’s.)
But the crowd was rowdy, and the quartet got the concert off to a raucous start with “Late Last Night.” They sounded terrific, and frontman Cody Canada looked sharp in a button-down shirt, vest and tie.
It didn’t take long for him to roll up his sleeves as the band rocked through “The Deal,” “In Oklahoma” and “Anywhere But Here.” They smoked their way through my all-time favorite Ragweed song, “Alabama.” (Unfortunately, they didn’t play Amy’s fave, “Carney Man,” but we didn’t really expect it.)
Though it was the electric show of the band’s two-night stand, Canada took the spotlight for a few acoustic songs, including a beautiful one he dedicated to his son Dierks (named for pal Dierks Bentley) and vowed he wouldn’t record on an album because he doesn’t want any Nashville fat cats making money off his kid. (He said the band plans to start recording its new album around March.)
Of course, “Boys from Oklahoma” is always a highlight of a Ragweed show. The best renditions of this come at shows like the Family Jam, where this year Stoney LaRue, Randy Rogers, John Cooper, Tom Skinner and more chimed in on the ornery marijuana tribute. But “Boys from Oklahoma” always makes for a fun singalong, and Oklahoma City singer Denovan Ratcliffe made a solid contribution to the song.
Ratcliffe and his band Welcome the Silence opened the show, with Canada sitting in with them for a song. Another highlight of the Oklahoma City rockers’ set was their hard and heavy cover of REM’s “Losing My Religion.”
Since I’ve dubbed it Oklahoma Country Music Day here at BAM’s Blog, I’ve compiled a list of an even dozen of my favorite country songs that reference my fantastic home state. With Oklahoma’s strong country music tradition, it’s no surprise that this list is just a small sampling, listed in no particular order and dictated entirely by my mood.
1. “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma,” David Frizzell and Shelly West. Current Oklahoma country music stars Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, sweethearts who live on neighboring Tishomingo farms, do a really great version of this heartfelt ballad, as you can see from this YouTube video of CMT’s 100 Greatest Duets countdown.
2. “Outlaw Band,” Jason Boland and the Stragglers. Boland and Co. close their latest album ”Comal County Blue” with this song penned by the late Bob Childers, Randy Crouch and Layle Stagner.
3. “Boys from Oklahoma,” Cross Canadian Ragweed.
4. “Okie from Muskogee,” Merle Haggard. Check out this YouTube video of a Merle and Tammy Wynette duet to this classic country song, which you already knew was going on this list. (Yes, the placement of No. 3 and 4 back to back is deliberate. Yes, I have a cheeky sense of irony.)
5. “Honky Tonk U,” Toby Keith. He outlines how he broke into the music biz, starting with summers at his grandmother’s night club on the Oklahoma-Arkansas line.
6. “Oklahoma Swing,” Vince Gill and Reba McEntire opened the Oklahoma Centennial Spectacular with this terrific two-stepper, as you can see in this YouTube video.
7. “Oklahoma-Texas Line,” Rascal Flatts.
8. “Does the Wind Still Blow in Oklahoma,” Reba McEntire and Ronnie Dunn.
9. “In Oklahoma,” Cross Canadian Ragweed. Cody Canada co-wrote this musical history lesson with Stoney LaRue.
10. “Oklahoma Breakdown,” Hosty Duo. LaRue covered this smoking song on his album “Live at Billy Bob’s Texas,” and you can see his rendition (or at least part of it) in this YouTube video.
11. “I Ain’t in Checotah Anymore,” Carrie Underwood. I’m rounding out this list with a pair of songs by fellow small-town Oklahoma kids paying homage to their hometowns.
12. “Podunk,” Keith Anderson. Check out Miami, OK, in this video, from YouTube.
My older son, Chris, turned 14 today, and since I have my own blog, I don't need a radio station to send out a very special request in honor of this momentous occasion.
Chris is a big Journey fan and one of the highlights of our summer was attending together the huge Journey, Heart and Cheap Trick show at Oklahoma City's Zoo Amphitheatre. (I was mostly there to see Heart, and he was excited to see Journey. I'd like it noted that he gets his Journey fandom from his dad, who does an impressive Steve Perry impression.)
So, for Chris' 14th birthday, I'm dedicating "Don't Stop Believin'" to him. (This video appears her courtesy Sony's myplay site.)
His favorite Journey song is actually "Faithfully," but that would be a very weird song to have your mom dedicate to you.
I hope it's a great year for you and that you "don't stop believin', hold on to that feeling."
Toby Keith’s “That Don’t Make Me a Bad Guy,” which debuted today, features the Oklahoman writing, producing and singing.
Keith wrote or co-wrote all 11 tracks on the CD. It continues his trend of writing most of his biggest hits, starting with his first single and No. 1 hit, “Should’ve Been A Cowboy,” in 1993. He extends his songwriting streak with his new album’s first single, “She Never Cried In Front Of Me,” which currently is No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
“God Love Her,” which Keith co-wrote with Vicky McGehee, is the second single from Keith’s new album. The video for it is Keith’s first since “Love Me if You Can” about a year and a half ago.
“That Don’t Make Me A Bad Guy” is Keith’s second consecutive album to produce, following 2007′s platinum-certified “Big Dog Daddy.”
Keith was born in Clinton, raised in Moore and lives in Norman.
Here’s the track listing:
1. That Don’t Make Me A Bad Guy
2. Creole Woman
3. God Love Her
4. Lost You Anyway
5. Missing Me Some You
6. Hurt A Lot Worse When You Go
7. Time That It Would Take
8. You Already Love Me
9. She Never Cried In Front Of Me
10. Cabo San Lucas
11. I Got It For You Girl
Hugely popular country music trio Rascal Flatts, which includes guitarist Joe Don Rooney of Picher, released today “Greatest Hits Volume 1,” its first, but most likely not its last, compilation.
With more than 17 million sales, Rascal Flatts is the top-selling country band of the decade, so a hits collection seems due, if not overdue.
“Greatest Hits Volume 1″ includes 16 tracks. Thirteen are previously released songs, including the group’s hits “What Hurts The Most,” “Life Is A Highway,” “I’m Movin’ On” and the six-week No. 1 “Bless The Broken Road.”
Initially, the collection is being offered as a limited edition release in a foil-embossed two-disc package.
The limited edition greatest hits album includes three newly recorded Christmas songs as bonus tracks: the holiday fave ”White Christmas,” “Jingle Bell Rock” and an a capella rendition of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” The three Christmas tracks will be available as part of “Greatest Hits Volume 1″ for just a limited time.
These three songs are the first holiday songs the band has recorded.
Here is the track listing for Rascal Flatts’ “Greatest Hits Volume 1″:
“Prayin’ For Daylight”
“I’m Movin’ On”
“Feels Like Today”
“Bless The Broken Road”
“Fast Cars And Freedom”
“What Hurts The Most”
“Life Is A Highway”
Limited edition bonus tracks
“Jingle Bell Rock”
“I’ll Be Home For Christmas”
Twenty-four years of hits are collected on Reba McEntire’s new box set “50 Greatest Hits,” which comes out today.
The three-disc set includes 20 No. 1 hits and 46 Top 10 singles, acccording to her Web site, www.reba.com. The set covers her tenure with MCA Records, and it’s amazing how the Oklahoma native managed to produce so many hits in three different decades: the 1980s, ’90s and 2000s.
The set starts with her first hit on MCA, 1984′s “How Blue,” and ending with “Because of You,” her 2007 duet with Kelly Clarkson.
The set also includes duets with country stars Vince Gill, a fellow Oklahoma native, and Brooks & Dunn, which includes Tulsa-raised Ronnie Dunn.
Here is the track listing for McEntire’s “50 Greatest Hits”:
1. “How Blue” 1 – 1984
2. “Somebody Should Leave” 1 – 1985
3. “Have I Got A Deal For You” – Top 10 – 1985
4. “Only In My Mind” – Top 10 – 1985
5. “Whoever’s In New England” – 1 – 1986
6. “Little Rock” – 1 – 1986
7. “What Am I Gonna Do About You” – 1 – 1986
8. “Let The Music Lift You Up” – Top 5 – 1987
9. “One Promise Too Late” – 1 – 1987
10. “The Last One To Know” – 1 – 1987
11. “Love Will Find It’s Way To You” – 1 – 1987
12. “Sunday Kind Of Love” – Top 5 – 1988
13. “I Know How He Feels” – 1 – 1988
14. “New Fool At An Old Game” – 1 – 1988
15. “Cathy’s Clown” – 1 – 1989
16. “‘Til Love Comes Again” – Top 5 – 1989
17. “Walk On” – Top 5 – 1990
1. “You Lie” – 1 – 1990
2. “Rumor Has It” – Top 5 – 1990
3. “Fancy” – Top 10 – 1991
4. “Fallin’ Out Of Love” – Top 5 – 1991
5. “For My Broken Heart – 1 – 1991
6. “Is There Life Out There” – 1 – 1992
7. “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia” Top 15- 1992
8. “The Greatest Man I Never Knew” – Top 5 – 1992
9. “Take It Back” – Top 5 – 1992
10. “The Heart Won’t Lie” (duet with Vince Gill)- 1 – 1993
11. “It’s Your Call” – Top 5 – 1993
12. “Does He Love You” (duet with Linda Davis) – 1 – 1993
13. “Why Haven’t I Heard From You” – Top 10 – 1994
14. “She Thinks His Name Was John” – Top 15 – 1994
15. “Till You Love Me” – Top 5 – 1994
16. “The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter” – 1 – 1995
17. “And Still” – Top 5 – 1995
1. “Ring On Her Finger, Time On Her Hands” – Top 10 – 1995
2. “Starting Over Again” – Top 20 – 1996
3. “Fear Of Being Alone” – Top 5 – 1996
4. “How Was I To Know” – 1 – 1996
5. “I’d Rather Ride Around With You” – Top 5 – 1997
6. “What If It’s You” – Top 15 – 1997
7. “If You See Him, If You See Her” (duet with Brooks & Dunn) – 1 – 1998
8. “Forever Love” – Top 5 – 1998
9. “Wrong Night” – Top 10 – 1998
10. “One Honest Heart” – Top 10 – 1999
11. “What Do You Say” – Top 5 – 1999
12. “I’ll Be” – Top 5 – 1999
13. “I’m A Survivor” – Top 5 – 2001
14. “Somebody” – 1 – 2003
15. “He Gets That From Me” – Top 10 – 2004
16. “Because of You” (duet with Kelly Clarkson) – Top 5 – 2007