Dierks Bentley and Hot Country Knights

Nashville has been hit hard with decisions taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or Novel Coronavirus.  Although only about 40 cases have so far been reported in Middle Tennessee, the Metro Board of Health voted unanimously during a special emergency meeting Sunday to declare a public health emergency, empowering city officials to ramp up restrictions on the city’s bars and restaurants. As part of that declaration, the board endorsed a series of restrictions first released by Nashville mayor John Cooper ahead of Sunday’s vote.

Those recommendations include:

  • Bars on Lower Broadway and throughout Davidson County to close their businesses until further notice;
  • Restaurants (public facilities where the sale of food comprises more than 50 percent of revenue) to limit their regular maximum seating to under 50 percent of capacity, capped at no more than 100 individuals allowed.
  • Bar service at restaurants should be limited to 50 percent of capacity with no standing allowed.

Mayor Cooper said he “expects businesses to comply.”  One pushback: Steve Smith, who owns several Nashville honky-tonks including the famous Tootsies Orchid Lounge and Rippy’s Honky Tonk, initially defied the ‘recommendation’ but on Monday said that he would comply

Nashville music business is virtually at a standstill. Not only are most music venues being shuttered, but a lot of recording studios and labels are either closed or on essential staff only.

Number One parties are being postponed. I was due to attend a special exhibit being launched at the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame for my dear friend (and crazy guy) Marty Brown on March 27, but that too has been postponed.

Touring woes: Artists and bands now make most of their income from touring, not from record sales (as they did in the past). With clubs and arenas closed all across the country, touring musicians have no source of income. They will have already paid huge sums for merchandise to sell on tour and fees to publicists and promoters, but no way to earn income – or to keep their music in front of fans. One singer told Rolling Stone: “If my tour goes away, it’s like a farmer losing their crops.”

Dan + Shay, Blake Shelton, Reba McEntire, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Sturgill Simpson, Dwight Yoakam and the Zac Brown Band were among the artists who postponed tours or individual dates. Loretta Lynn, who at age 87 has weathered a stroke and broken a hip in recent years, was quarantined by her doctors to avoid coming in contact with infected visitors, according to Billboard magazine.

Locally, musicians playing in bars rely on the dollar bills in their tip jars will also feel so much economic hardship they might not being able to pay their rent.

Tin Pan South, the huge annual songwriter festival scheduled for next week in Nashville has been postponed. No firm date has been announced yet, but it might be moved to July, depending on how COVID-19 is being controlled by then.

The Grand Ole Opry will continue – but only as a radio broadcast with no live audience – reminiscent of the way it began in the 1920s.

The Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards will be moved from the originally scheduled April 5 to “some time in September,” due to the risks associated with COVID-19, according to the ACM.

When the show does air, it will have a new host this year. The 55th ACM Awards will be hosted by Keith Urban, last year’s Entertainer of the Year. For the past two years, and for 16 years in total, Reba McEntire was the show’s host. Former hosts include Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan co-hosting with Dierks Bentley.

With a sound that recalls Country music’s acid washed and Aqua Netted golden era, the ’90s influenced band Hot Country Knights will release their debut album The K Is Silent (Capitol Records Nashville), on May 1st. Produced by Dierks Bentley, the multi-Platinum entertainer also serves as a co-writer on over half of the 10 brawny tracks and serves up one of the most musically satisfying debut albums since 1999 (according to Dierks, anyway). The K Is Silent is now available for pre-order at all digital retailers.

Update: Their One Knight Stand Tour to support the album has been postponed.  In a press release, Doug Douglason (Dierks Bentley’s alter ego) said, tongue in cheek: “Although we are pretty familiar with all types of viruses, we realize that our fans may not have the same immunity built up, Don’t worry though, if history has proven anything it’s that nothing — not even a worldwide pandemic — can keep the Knights down for long. We’ll be baaaaaaack!”

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“I Know Country” Q&A from www.IKnowCountry.com

QUESTION: B.W. Stevenson had a hit in 1973 with this song featuring a girl’s name. Brooks & Dunn released a cover version in 1996 that topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Can you name that song?

•••

Billboard Country Airplay Top 5 for the week of March 21:

(last week’s position in parentheses)

  1. (2) “Homesick” Kane Brown
  2. (2) “Homemade” Jake Owen
  3. (3) “Kinfolks” Sam Hunt
  4. (5) “What She Wants Tonite” Luke Bryan
  5. (6) “Catch” Brett Young

•••

“I Know Country” Q&A ANSWER: That hit song, twice over, was “My Maria.”

  • Larry Carlton played lead guitar on the original B.W. Stevenson version.
  • The Brooks & Dunn version won the 1997 Grammy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

•••

On this day in Country Music

March 18, 1974           The Grand Ole Opry moved from the Ryman Auditorium to its new home, The Grand Ole Opry House at the Opryland complex. (Opryland itself closed in 1997 to be replaced by Opry Mills Shopping Mall, sometimes called “Shopryland.”)  The Opry often returns to the Ryman during winter months.

March 18, 1980           George Jones’ iconic “He Stopped Loving Her Today” was released on Epic Records. Jones told producer Billy Sherrill: “Nobody’ll buy that morbid son of a bitch”.

March 18, 1991           A plane carrying 7 members of Reba McEntire’s band, her road manager and 2 pilots crashed after taking off from an airport near San Diego, killing all on board. Reba and two other members of her band and road crew were not on board that plane.

This week’s Country Music Birthdays

March 16                     Jerry Jeff Walker (writer of “Mr. Bojangles”), 1942

Ray Benson (Asleep at the Wheel), 1951

March 17                     Paul Overstreet, 1955

March 18                     Charley Pride, 1938

Phillip Sweet (Little Big Town), 1974

March 20                     ‘Ranger Doug’ Green (Riders in the Sky), 1946

Jim Seales (Shenandoah), 1954

Jerry Reed, 1937 (died Sept 1, 2008)


Preshias Harris is the author of “I Know Country” with 366 daily country music questions and answers. You can buy and instantly download your e-book copy at www.IKnowCountry.com.

Harris is also a music career development consultant with the emphasis on new and aspiring artists and songwriters. Visit www.collegeofsongology.com for more details.   Follow her blog at  www.nashvillemusicline.com

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