Monday, March 27, 2017

Kentucky State Fair announces 2017 concert lineup

The sounds of summer return to Freedom Hall in August for the star-studded Kentucky State Fair Main Stage concert series. Three nights of music, ranging from country to hip-hop, offers something for everyone at the annual summer festival.

“The Main Stage concert series starts off with fun music from the 90s, and closes with a unique country rock tour right on the dirt in Freedom Hall,” said Jason Rittenberry, President & CEO of Kentucky Venues.  “With the tradition of Alabama and newcomer Tucker Beathard in between, we believe this is one of our strongest lineups for the Fair.”

Thursday, August 17 – I Love the 90s Tour featuring Vanilla Ice Featuring some of the most iconic names in rap, hip hop and R&B, this show brings the best acts of the 90s together for what Entertainment Weekly dubbed an “arena-sized dance party.” “I Love the 90s” features Vanilla Ice, Salt N Pepa, Color Me Badd, Coolio, Tone Loc and Young MC.

Dance to favorite songs including “Ice Ice Baby,” “All 4 Love” and “Gangsta’s Paradise.” The awardwinning artists have collected numerous accolades including honors from the American Music Awards, People’s Choice Awards and Grammys. The celebration of 90s nostalgia begins at 7 p.m. and ticket prices start at $37.

Friday, August 18 – Alabama with special Guest Tucker Beathard, Alabama, one of the most successful bands in country music, blends traditional country music with a Southern rock sound. With more than 40 No. 1 hits, counting a 21 song streak on the top of the charts, Alabama is known for popular songs including “Tennessee River,” “Love in the First Degree,” “Song of the South” and “Mountain Man.” Alabama has amassed more than 200 awards, making them the most awarded band in country music history.   Up-and-coming country music singer Tucker Beathard is currently working on his debut album. Beathard has charted two singles, “Momma and Jesus” and “Rock On” and is gaining a following for his honest songwriting. The concert begins at 7 p.m. and ticket prices start at $32.

Sunday, August 27 – Southern Uprising Tour  The Southern Uprising Tour features several defining stars of country music, including Travis Tritt, The Charlie Daniels Band, The Marshall Tucker Band and Lee Roy Parnell.

Between them, the artists have charted more than 50 songs and are known for recognizable hits such as “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” “Here’s A Quarter,” “Long Haired Country Boy” and “Can’t You See.” Set on the dirt of Freedom Hall, the boot stomping music begins at 6 p.m. and ticket prices start at $32.

Tickets for all three headline concerts go on sale Monday, April 10 at 10 a.m. at the Kentucky Exposition Center Ticket Office and Ticket prices do not include Kentucky State Fair gate admission.

The 2017 Kentucky State Fair is August 17-27. For more information, visit

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Kentucky Music Hall of Fame hosts open house

Kentucky Music Hall of Fame Officials and local official cut the ribbon for the Open House.
Photo by Jessica Bray
Just a year ago, it had seemed as though that the doors of the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum would be closed forever.  However, with the partnership of local leaders and Rockcastle County Tourism officials, there was a strong desire to come together.  Soon the Rockcastle County Tourism office moved its headquarters into the Museum and hired a new manager of the museum, Avery Bradshaw.  Susan Tomes Laws has been leading the reins with the Rockcastle County Tourism office.  On March 25th, everyone in the community came together in support with an Open House and Ribbon Cutting with a start of a new era with the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

The crowd on hand enjoyed music by Dale Ann Bradley in the foyer, as well as many local musicians along the tour of the museum.  Rockcastle County in itself is rich in music history with the Renfro Valley Entertainment Center next door.  Many of its performers and descendants live throughout the southeast Kentucky region.
Dale Ann Bradley performing at the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame.
Photo by Jessica Bray.
If you haven't been to the museum in a while, you will be pleased to see many updated exhibits.  During his opening remarks, Avery Bradshaw noted that there were over ten new displays and they are working to have a display case for each new inductee.  They are also working on revamping their website, as well as improving outreach on social media networks.

Many visitors, both young and old, made remarks of different objects on display, as well as who was featured.  The museum has several videos featuring the Induction Ceremonies, as well as the presentations of current inductees.  From songbooks to awards to clothing to even a check that Keith Whitley once wrote to Kroger, there are many unique items within the museum.  There are also several interactive displays so that music fans can visualize and play with various instruments.
Backstreet Boys - Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell's exhibit
Photo by Jessica Bray

In tribute to the Renfro Valley Barn Dance at the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame
Photo by Jessica Bray

Loretta Lynn featured with multiple large format photos at the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
Photo by Jessica Bray

One of the many display cases at the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Renfro Valley, Kentucky.
Photo by Jessica Bray

Keith Whitley's exhibit even features a check that he wrote to Kroger, along with clothing and photos.
Photo by Jessica Bray

One of the many exhibits at the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame across all genres of music.
Photo by Jessica Bray

Kentucky music history showcased throughout the museum.
Photo by Jessica Bray

Music fans are greeted with the 2015 KY Music Hall of Fame Inductees on display, as well as banners of the pioneer inductees. Photo by Jessica Bray.
While many associate Kentucky and Renfro Valley with country music, music fans would be pleasantly surprised with the wealth of information of r&b, pop, soul, and gospel music on hand. 

Be sure to visit the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum and Gift Shop sometime soon.  They are conveniently located less than a mile from I-75 off Exit 62.  They are open 7 days a week from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  The gift shop includes several Kentucky made products, cds of Kentucky artists, books, and much more.  You can check out the website at

More photos of the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame Exhibits will also be available on our facebook page by clicking here.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Patsy Cline Museum set to open in Nashville

The Patsy Cline Museum opens to the public Friday, April 7, adding another attraction to the “must-see” list for Nashville tourists and locals paying homage to the personal and professional life of the icon.

“In her short nine years as a recording artist from ‘55 to ‘63, she forever changed the voice of country music, the role of female artists and influenced performers across all genres,” said founder Bill Miller. “To this very day, artists still cover her hits and you’ll hear her recordings used in motion pictures and TV series. She deserved her own museum as she continues to transcend generations of fans. We are honored to work with Patsy’s children to preserve her legacy.”

Located at 119 Third Avenue South, in Nashville, the Patsy Cline Museum houses the largest collection of Patsy Cline artifacts in the world featuring personal letters, photographs, costumes, clothing and household furnishings from her Nashville dream house that have been locked away for more than 50 years.

“I am very happy to speak on behalf of my brothers, Randy and Chip, and in honor of the legacy of my mother, Patsy Cline,” said Julie Fudge. “Since the passing of our father, this is our first step together in continuing to share Mom’s music, life and story, as we feel Dad would have. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with and experience what Bill will present to old and new fans alike.”

Born Virginia Patterson Hensley in the small town of Winchester, Virginia, Patsy was reared on church music and began touring the area performing in variety and talent shows as a teen.  Gaining notoriety via regional disc jockeys and radio appearances, she would join Jimmy Dean as a regular on the “Town and Country Jamboree” airing daily out of Arlington in 1954.  By this time, she was a staple on the night club performance circuit donning the fringe western wear designs of her mother. She took the name Cline when she was married to her then husband Gerald Edward Cline from 1953-1957. 

Patsy landed her first recording contract in 1955 with Four Star Records, but would see her success soar under Decca releasing her debut project in 1957.  In her five and half year charting career, she scored hits like Walkin’ After Midnight, I Fall to Pieces, Crazy, She’s Got You, Leavin’ On Your Mind, So Wrong and many others. This Billboard Award winner became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1960 and broke many ceilings for women.  She was the first female to receive headline billing over her male tour mates and the first to not only anchor a Las Vegas regency, but also the first to perform in NY’s Carnegie Hall. In her personal life, she had two children with her second husband Charles (Charlie) Dick, a daughter Julia (Julie) (1958) and son Allen Randolph (1961).  Patsy died at the age of 30 when the plane she had boarded after a show in Kansas City, Kansas, crashed about 90 miles outside of Nashville in Camden, Tennessee.

Posthumously, she would become the first solo female inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1973. To date, the RIAA has certified one Diamond (sales of over ten million), three Platinum (sales of over one million) and four Gold (sales of over 500,000) albums. She was been portrayed in film by both Beverly D’Angelo (Coal Miner’s Daughter) and Jessica Lange (Sweet Dreams). Her music continues to land placements in TV (“Blindspot” [2016], “Pretty Little Liars” [2015] and “Bates Motel” [2014]), film (“Assassin’s Creed” [2016] and “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” [2015]) and video games (“Deadpool” [2013] & “Twisted Metal” [2012]).

Guests will travel back to her humble beginnings in Winchester, Virginia and see family photos, possessions and even the very booth she waitressed as a teenager at Gaunt's Drugstore. Never-before-seen costumes that exhibit her transition from western cowgirl to singing headliner will also be on display. Many of the costumes exhibited are creations designed and sewn by her mother, Hilda.

Guests will have the unique opportunity to step inside Patsy's famed Rec Room, where many entertainers dropped in to jam and party in the dream home Patsy purchased on Nella Drive in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. The room contains original furnishings owned and used by Cline and her husband Charlie Dick. A vintage jukebox broadcasts her mega-hit "Crazy," highlighting its distinction as the most programmed jukebox song of all time. A bio film also documents Patsy's career and is hosted by noted actress Beverly D’Angelo, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Patsy Cline in the 1980 film “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”

The Patsy Cline Museum is located on the second level of the building which houses the world renowned Johnny Cash Museum. Guests are educated and entertained via cutting-edge audio and touch screen technology featuring Cline's numerous audio and video performances. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. CT daily and admission will be $18.95.  For more information, be sure to check out or on Facebook at and Twitter: @ClineMuseum.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Celebrating the 100th birthday of Lily May Ledford

Kentucky country music legend and banjo picker, Lily May Ledford
Today marks the 100th birthday of Lily May Ledford.  She was born on March 17, 1917 in Pilot, Kentucky.  She began her career in music after being discovered at a talent contest in Chicago by John Lair.  Mr. Lair was the creator of Renfro Valley Barn Dance, which continues to this day here in Kentucky.  

Lily, along with Evelyn "Daisy" Lange, Esther "Violet" Koehler and her sister, Rosie Ledford, formed the the first all-girl group, 'The Coon Creek Girls.' They played all of their own instruments, including the fiddle and banjo, and played authentic mountain music instead of sentimemtal and cowboy songs. They performed songs such as, "Sowing On The Mountain," "Banjo Pickin' Girl," and "How Many Biscuits Can You Eat."

After the Coon Creek Girls started performing, "we began to catch on like wildfire," Ledford said in an interview in 1983. "We were writing songs and writing poetry and answering our fan mail - we got bushel baskets of mail. People were lining up for our show. They started naming babies after us and farm animals after us."

In 1939, they performed at the White House before President Franklin D. Roosevelet, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

According to Loyal Jones, former director of the Berea College Appalachian Center, "She played very well. She had just enormous talent and just a great stage presence.  She created quite a bit of excitement when she got on stage. She also was a great storyteller."

John Lair provided a statement on Ledford's "Banjo Pickin' Girl" album: "The best thing about Lily May is her naturalness. She is the real thing. She has old-time songs that she got from her parents and is a great all-round musician. She worked for me for 40 years, and was the best woman banjo-player in the country, and she led the first all-girl band in the country."

Lily May Ledford was named a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellowship Award.  She was also well respected among Appalachian region and the music community.  The Coon Creek Girls went on to become members of the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame.

She married Robert Pennington and they had several children.  J.P. Pennington, is also known for his work with the band Exile.  Robert Pennington and Barbara Ann Greenlief also worked with various music groups in central Kentucky.

On July 14, 1985, Lily May Ledford Pennington passed away.  Today we celebrate 100 years of pure Appalachian and Kentucky country music from Lily May Ledford.  Find out more on the historic Coon Creek Girls by clicking here.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Who is Dumas Walker?

Twenty-eight years ago, in 1990, the Kentucky Headhunters released “Dumas Walker” as a follow-up to their successful “Walk Softly On This Heart of Mine.”  With the music video being aired on CMT, music fans wanted to know more about the man, myth, and legend of Dumas Walker.  What many do not realize, there are two references for Dumas Walker with a story of their own.

Well let's all go, down to Dumas Walker
Let's all go, down to Dumas Walker
We'll get a slaw burger, fries and a bottle of Ski
Bring it on out to my baby and me
Dumas Walker shooting marbles outside the roadside tavern he operated in Moss, Tenneessee.  Photo by Byron Crawford.
The man, Dumas Walker, was 74 years old when he was asked to be a part of the music video.  He originally owned Walker’s Package Store on TN 51, just south of the Kentucky/Tennessee State Line in the town of Moss, Tennessee.  Dumas Walker, along with Welby Lee of Tompkinsville, were world champion marble players.  Dumas was well known in those parts for his marble playing and you can see him in the video playing marbles on a pool table.  Sadly, on his way to a marble game in Bowling Green, he broke his arm in a car wreck.  The injury forced to be unable to shoot marbles afterwards.  Walker passed away on April 22, 1991 in Nashville, Tennessee.  He is buried in the Macedonia Cemetery in Moss, Tennessee.

In 1991, the famed general store went on the auction block.  Ironically, the person that purchased the store was not allowed to call it Dumas Walker's because his widow, Hazel Walker, wasn't selling the name.
Dumas Walker shooting marbles on the floor.
The other "Dumas Walker" is a restaurant in Greensburg, Kentucky.  It was originally called the Adolphus Ennis Lunchroom.  The locals would call it “The Greasy Spoon.”  Thanks to the song, many folks call it Dumas Walker's as it was where the Kentucky Headhunters would get a slaw burger, fries, and a bottle of Ski.

These days, there is a sign out front on top of the entrance that says:
KY Headhunters
Original Slawburger
Fry & Bottle of Ski
Grammy Winning Dumas Walker Slaw Burger
Greensburg, Kentucky's Dumas Walker Restaurant - photo by Jessica Bray
The song, “Dumas Walker,” was originally recorded as a demo in Acuff-Rose'’s Hickory Records Studio.  Later on, the band would borrow $4,500 to record an album, “Pickin’ On Nashville,” and included the now famous song.  “Dumas Walker” peaked at number 15 on the Billboard County Music Singles Charts and was on the chart for 26 weeks.  The band won a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, Best New Vocal Group award from the Academy of Country Music (ACM), and Album of the Year and Vocal Group of the Year awards from the Country Music Association (CMA).

For those that wonder, Ski is a citrus tasting non-alcoholic drink that is sweeter than Mt. Dew.  It is very popular throughout southern Kentucky.  You can pick up a bottle (these days plastic) at any gas station throughout the Cumberland Parkway.  Some places like Kroger also carry the drink.  

These days, the Kentucky Headhunters are still out picking and singing out on the road with quite a few tour dates.  They recently released a new album, “On Safari.”  Be sure to check them out over at

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Sunny Sweeney provides the sass and soul with latest release

Seven years ago, I sat perched up on a seat at Bluebird Cafe in Nashville while on stage in the row sat Sunny Sweeney, Danielle Peck, Lisa Torres, and Karleen Watt.  It was the first time that Sunny announced that she had been going through a divorce and showcasing the songs that reflected on the heartache and overcoming the hardships.  I sat there with tears flowing out of my eyes realizing my own marriage at the time was failing.  A few months down the road, I got out of that marriage through a divorce.  Oddly enough, my divorce party was watching Sunny Sweeney on the Grand Ole Opry and meeting Little Jimmy Dickens (who has always been a musical hero for me).

A lot has changed in those seven years.  I moved back to my hometown and eventually found my one true love that I would then marry.  Sunny Sweeney's career path has led her to release several albums along the way, marrying her true love, and releasing her latest album, Trophy.  Ironically, it is the stuff you NEED to hear and WANT to hear coming from a grown woman's perspective.  Let me tell you, some pop tart singing about Peter Pan love stories don't really strike a chord with me.  Give me something real, not some fairy tale.

That is when you grow as a songwriter, singer, and as a human.  Life isn't a fairy tale and you deal with the harsh reality of what is handed to you.  With "Bottle By My Bed," many females, including myself, can relate to the struggle of wanting to have a child, but have to accept the fact that you may never get that blessing.  Whether it be due to infertility, a medical condition, or other matters, nothing is more personal and hits harder when others equate "success" in a woman's life by having a child of their own.  

Sunny Sweeney's touch of twang and sass is perfectly heard with "Pass the Pain" and "I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight."  The heartache is felt throughout her vocals as she tries to get over a love gone bad.  You could easily say, it is a modern-day tune that even Loretta Lynn could sing herself.

As soon as I heard "Better Bad Idea" with the catchy percussion and flirty lyrics, I immediately thought of some of the tunes of rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson.  Just the pure attitude brought out with the drive throughout the song shows that this should be a radio hit.

Leaving for Nashville, only to return to her roots in Texas, as one grows up, they realized that there is "Nothing Wrong with Texas," just as the song goes.  We all want to leave our town upon graduating high school.  However, you realize what you always needed and wanted is right there and there is nothing wrong with it.

When you find your honest to goodness true love, even after years of searching, you know when that person is the one you want to grow old together.  One of my favorite songs on the album is "Grow Old With Me" as it reflects on the good times shared thus far.  It also provides the promise that together is the best place to be in this world.

Lord bless those that have to deal with your spouse's ex, especially one who thrives on attention and can't do anything for themselves.  With the slithering "Trophy," Sunny is very sly in singing how her husband does have a trophy for putting up with his ex-wife's ways.  In the end, the new wife gets the last laugh and love while the other cries for pity instead of being a strong independent woman.

Emotionally driven, the song "Unsaid" will leave the listener in tears before the end of it.  The hardest thing in life is not being able to say the words that you want to someone that has passed away.  Sunny Sweeney's vocal soar high among angels throughout the song.  If anything, it leaves you to thinking about your own life and what you say to others.

Come March 10th, you will want to pick up Sunny Sweeney's album, "Trophy," in stores, or perhaps via I-tunes.  Either way, it is a must have for your music collection.  For more on Sunny Sweeney, be sure to check out

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Crystal Gayle to be highlighted on The Big Interview

Loretta Lynn with Crystal Gayle
It seems as though 2017 is the year of Crystal Gayle.  With her recent induction into the Grand Ole Opry, as well as being featured on several tributes, she has been gaining attention in a positive way.  Fans can watch her on AXS TV on March 7, 2017, as she sits down with Dan Rather on "The Big Interview."  During the show, she opens up about her relationship with her older sister, Loretta Lynn, as well as doing things her own way and finding her own way.

In a recent issue of "Closer Magazine," she told the secret of aging.  According to Crystal Gayle, "as I've gotten older, I worry less about the small things. I feel great and still love to perform!"

One of the most defining attributes of Gayle’s remarkable style is her unique ability to really connect with the songs she sings and she and Rather spend time discussing this topic. Revealing how she’s been able to develop this skill, Gayle says, “You have to be able to put the words across, the lyrics. You have to have a little bit of acting. It’s really in tone, too… You just go in there and you sing, and you put your heart and soul into it, and hope someone likes it.”

While Gayle and her older sister, Loretta Lynn, have both enjoyed tremendous success in country music, she explains that there really wasn’t any sibling rivalry going on—despite some of the media’s reports. Gayle says, “We were so busy, both of us, in our careers, that we really didn’t have time to bicker…We really didn’t have problems. Of course, we’re sisters, we can bicker. In the studio, you should hear us when we’re trying to learn a song. But, no, we really did not have the problem. I look up to my sister. We both have flaws in different ways, but… we love each other. We overlook, and that’s why I think our family is so great.”

Below is a preview of her episode of "The Big Interview"