Daily Top Five: Favorite Tribute Albums

July 22, 2015 // 6 Comments

Some of my favorite albums are tribute albums, because I enjoy hearing artists cover or reinterpret songs that I know and love. Country music artists have participated in a wide range of tribute albums and these are five of my very favorites. What are some of your favorites? Here’s my list: Steve Earle, Townes Various Artists, Bob Wills Tribute Various Artists, Keith Whitley: A Tribute Album Various Artists, Common Thread: Songs of the Eagles Asleep at the Wheel & Various Artists, A Tribute to Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys

CMA Awards: Predictions and Personal Picks

November 8, 2009 // 83 Comments

The CMA Awards are upon us again, and I must say that this is the most underwhelming lineup I’ve ever seen, and I started watching the show back in 1991. We’ll be back to live blog the festivities on Wednesday night. In the meantime, enjoy our personal picks in each category, along with who we think will actually win.

brad-paisleyEntertainer of the Year

Should Win:
  • Kenny Chesney
  • Brad Paisley – Leeann, Tara
  • George Strait
  • Taylor Swift – Kevin, Dan
  • Keith Urban
Will Win:
  • Kenny Chesney
  • Brad Paisley – Kevin, Leeann, Tara
  • George Strait
  • Taylor Swift – Dan
  • Keith Urban
Kevin: Much like the field finally cleared for him in the Male Vocalist race two years ago, I expect that this is Paisley’s year to win with his sixth nomination. I think Taylor Swift deserves to win, though. There’s no getting around the fact that she’s the biggest thing out there right now.

Leeann: I won’t be shocked (or really even disappointed) if Taylor Swift picks it up, but I really feel it’s finally Brad’s year.

Dan: Swift is the face of the genre right now, and she’s putting out better-written material than many of the veterans in this category. It looks like a race between her and Paisley, and I think she may actually get it.

Tara: It wouldn’t be inappropriate for Swift to take this award, and I would much (understatement) prefer her to win this over the vocalist award. But to me, Paisley is the all-around entertainer, and I think it’s his year to be recognized.

CMA Noms ’09

September 9, 2009 // 78 Comments


It’s that time of year again! For each category, we’ll look at who’s broken in since last year, who’s been booted out, plus some initial thoughts. As always, we invite you to share your own opinions in the comments. Without further ado:

Travis Tritt Starter Kit

August 5, 2009 // 9 Comments

While Travis Tritt didn’t acquire quite as many number one hits as many of his fellow artists in the nineties, with only 3 to claim, he was still a solid hit maker and strong force throughout the decade. His soulful brand of “southern rockin’ country” is often what he associated himself with, as noted in “Put Some Drive in Your Country”, but he was just as vocally connected to ballads and other more standard country fare.

Even as an artist of the nineties who was not honored as much by the industry as some of his peers, likely as a result of his outlaw image, his album sales still managed to be impressive. They included albums that went gold (1), platinum (3), double platinum (3) and triple platinum (1).

As one of my favorite artists of the nineties and in general, it was difficult to point to only ten essential tracks of Travis Tritt’s to spotlight, especially since the majority of my favorite songs of his were either not hit songs or even released at all.

Ten Essential Tracks:

“Here’s A Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)”
From the 1991 album It’s All About to Change

In the nineties, Tritt was credited as having a strong personality, though people close to him, including various opening acts, have reported that he was always surprisingly friendly and accommodating. This satisfyingly and refreshingly retaliatory song, however, helped to perpetuate the feeling that Tritt is not someone to be crossed. It is a glimpse of how it would feel to actually respond with one of those quippy comebacks that we only dream of lobbing, after the fact, of course.

My Start in Country Music

March 2, 2009 // 11 Comments

The following article is by guest contributor and Country Universe commenter, Craig R. My Start in Country Music By Craig Ross My memories only started collecting at age four. That year, 1969, my uncle was shot and seriously wounded in Vietnam. I had just started eating hamburgers for the first time. During the summer I saw Neil Armstrong walk on the moon on my parent’s bedroom black and white television set. And I knew the entire lyrics to only two songs, which I sang over and over again: “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” by B.J Thomas and “King of the Road” by the great Roger Miller. But growing up in a Baltimore suburb in a middle class, college educated black American home placed me in a rare position. My cousins listened to Motown, R&B, and some pop. The adults listened mainly to jazz. My parents were open to all Read More

Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists: Linda Ronstadt

February 13, 2009 // 33 Comments

The following is a guest contribution from Country Universe reader Erik North. Sometimes you first find out about your favorite artists not necessarily from your peers but, strangely enough, from either your parents or your relatives. In the case of Linda Ronstadt, I found about her through my aunt, who had a copy of Linda’s 1978 album Living In The U.S.A. that I listened to when I was eight years old back in 1978. Since that time, I have been a very staunch fan of Linda’s, even on those occasions when her excursions into other musical arenas have driven others to distraction. As it is with Elvis or the Beatles, if you have to have Linda Ronstadt explained to you, you may never get it. Linda is not one of those who confines herself to any single genre; while that does tend to cause people a lot of problems, it’s in Read More

CMA Awards Review

November 13, 2008 // 58 Comments

Last night, the CMA stamped its approval on the leading contemporary country stars of today.  Congratulations to Kevin for commandeering the most popular live blog in Country Universe history.  Here is a series of highlights (according to me) from an otherwise staid ceremony: Best performance: “More Like Her,” Miranda Lambert; “Just a Dream,” Carrie Underwood.  With understated brilliance, Lambert shifted gears by offering her Texas twang on the stripped-down ballad, while Underwood hit all the glory notes on her dramatic tearjerker with style and grace. Often pitted as rivals and polar opposites, the two proved that country music holds plenty of room for these two prodigious talents. Although Underwood ended Lambert’s faint hopes of claiming the Female Vocalist prize, bet on Lambert winning her fair share of CMAs in the near future. Sound off: Repeatedly an issue, the Sommet Center’s sound system had problems again this year.  Also, Nashville is Read More

2008 CMA Awards Live Blog

November 12, 2008 // 254 Comments

2008 CMA Winners Entertainer: Kenny Chesney Male Vocalist: Brad Paisley Female Vocalist: Carrie Underwood Album: George Strait, Troubadour Vocal Duo: Sugarland New Artist: Lady Antebellum Vocal Group: Rascal Flatts Song: Jennifer Nettles, “Stay” Single: George Strait, “I Saw God Today” Music Video: Brad Paisley feat. Andy Griffith, “Waiting on a Woman” Musical Event: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, “Gone Gone Gone” Musician: Mac McAnally _______ Predict the Winners: Kevin – 8 Leeann – 7 Blake – 7 Dan – 7 ______ Live Blog: 11:03 Thanks again for another great night.  See ya at the Grammys! 11:02ish To Blake and Dan:  A Song For You. 11:02 Blake: Down with our dictator! 11:02 Dan: Kevin sucks. 10:57 If I was a petty man, I’d be gloating about out-predicting all of my co-writers at Country Universe.  Wait a minute.   I am a petty man.   I won! Yes! I won!  This country universe is Read More

Country Universe Staff: 2008 CMA Predictions

November 12, 2008 // 19 Comments

This afternoon, the Country Universe staff is following up last night’s personal picks with our actual predictions about who will win tonight. Check back tonight at show time to join the live blog and mock us for our defective divinations. Less than four hours until showtime! Entertainer Kenny Chesney- Kevin, Leeann, Blake Brad Paisley – Dan George Strait Sugarland Keith Urban Kevin: BMG has to throw their weight behind either Chesney or Paisley. My hunch is they’ll back Chesney for Entertainer and Paisley for Male Vocalist. _ Leeann: It’s been Chesney all this time and not much has changed to make me think it won’t be Kenny again this year. _ Blake: Chesney remained steady on the concert trail and earned three #1 singles in the past year. This would be his fourth win, tying Garth Brooks for the most ever in the Entertainer lineup. _ Dan: It seems somewhat Read More

Country Universe Staff: 2008 CMA Personal Picks

November 11, 2008 // 20 Comments

As we gear up for tomorrow night’s CMA Awards Show, the staff of Country Universe share our personal picks in all categories.   Check back tomorrow for our predictions in each category.  Our third annual Live Blog will commence at the beginning of the show. Entertainer Kenny Chesney- Blake Brad Paisley – Leeann, Lynn George Strait Sugarland – Kevin, Dan Keith Urban Kevin: The only act in the running this year who has shown artistic, commercial and live performance growth is Sugarland, and they’ve grown by leaps and bounds.  In a race with four other acts who have long since settled into their styles, they’re the only ones who are still charting new territory. Leeann: While Paisley may not use explosions or other fancy tricks to entertain his crowds, much like Vince Gill, he keeps them mesmerized with his comedy, graphic creations, incredible guitar prowess and a catalog of engaging songs – in Read More

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