April 19th, 2010
01:27 PM ET

Day 3 at Coachella: Sly Stone's meltdown

There was a train wreck at Coachella, and its name was Sly Stone.

While the better part of 75,000 festival-goers were at the main stage watching Gorillaz pull off an amazing combination of live performance and animation, 300 fans of Stone waited in a nearly empty tent across the property. And waited.

Earlier in the evening, the reclusive legend was a no-show for his 7 p.m. set. At 7:05 p.m., a man came out and announced, "Sly Stone's performance has been postponed 'til a little bit later.'" A few in the crowd snickered. This would not be the first time Sly bailed on a gig. "No, no, no," the man continued. "He's gonna funk this place out!" FULL POST

November 11th, 2009
01:21 PM ET

'I never doubted once,' country icon says

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There's Young Hollywood, and then there's Young Nashville - bright, beautiful young music stars like Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum and Jake Owen. But at the "57th Annual BMI Country Awards," the buzz was all about Kris Kristofferson, who was named the songwriting organization's 2009 Icon.

At 73, Kristofferson still has "It" - the charismatic swagger, the blue eyes that see the world with unflinching truth, the ability to tell gritty, haunting stories set to song, like "Sunday Mornin' Coming Down, " "Help Me Make it Through the Night" and "Me and Bobby McGee."

"You just look at him, and it's the lines on his face that tell stories. It's his hair. I know it sounds odd, but the guy's revered in a way that's usually in the same sentence with people like Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson," said Owen, who'd just introduced himself to "Mr. Kristofferson" a couple of minutes earlier.

Heidi Newfield added, "When he did 'A Star is Born,' he had women taking cold showers all over the world. He had a charisma, and sexy just oozes all over him. But you add this with the fact that he's a Rhodes scholar, and he chose this path rather than becoming a professor (Kristofferson turned down a teaching post at West Point to become a janitor in Nashville) - I think we're all the better for it."

Kristofferson broke down and sobbed for a moment, as Vince Gill, Patti Griffin and longtime pal Willie Nelson sang a touching trio of some of his best-loved songs. "The great thing about being a songwriter is you can hear your baby interpreted by so many people that have creative talents vocally that I don't have," he confided to us earlier on the red carpet. He laughed when reminded of how he came to Nashville in 1965, and gave up a promising career in academia for an uncertain future in the music biz. "My mother thought I was crazy," he admits. "I never doubted once that I was in the right place."

November 10th, 2009
11:45 AM ET

Backstage pass at the CMAs - Rehearsals

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Nashville rolled out the welcome mat with a big twang, as Brooks and Dunn turned up their amps for a rockin' rendition of their latest hit, "Honky Tonk Stomp."

The superstar country duo - who call it quits after a farewell tour in 2010 - were deep in rehearsals at the Sommet Center for Wednesday night's "43rd Annual CMA Awards."

Among those boogieing down from the audience - Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush from Sugarland, the pair who finally ended B & D's 14-year winning streak as CMA "Duo of the Year." It'll be a showdown between Sugarland and Brooks and Dunn once again, with Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn the sentimental favorites among some of the voters.

"If they come back for the reunion tour next year, there will be some you-know-what to pay," teased Nettles. Bush added, "If they come back as Dunn and Brooks - it's over! We're taking the gloves off!," he laughed.

As Jason Aldean stepped into the spotlight to rehearse his recent number one single, "Big Green Tractor," Darius Rucker admired his performance from the back of the room. "Man, listen to his voice!," he marveled. "He sounds as good live as he does on the record!"

Rucker is up for two awards - "Best New Artist" and "Male Vocalist of the Year."

We spoke backstage after last year's ceremony, just as the Hootie and the Blowfish frontman was reinventing himself as a solo country artist. Barack Obama had just been elected President of the United States, and Rucker was reflecting on how an African-American could become of the Leader of the Free World, as well as a country singer. "Just shows how far we've come," he said. "We're prime examples of how you can be whatever you want to be in this country."

Conversation turned toward the hotly-contested category of "Entertainer of the Year" - where Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, George Strait and Keith Urban will square off against 19-year-old country-pop sensation Taylor Swift. "It's up for grabs, but I think it could be Taylor's year," predicted Rucker. "She's just so big right now. I think she's transcending country music, and she'll probably take it." Aldean concurred when he got off the stage. "If you looks at numbers - nobody's had a bigger year than her. I don't know how you can discredit that," he said.

In a press release yesterday, the Country Music Association announced that Swift will be the opening performer on Wednesday's telecast. With any luck, she'll also be closing the night with a win for "Entertainer of the Year."

October 20th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Chris Brown to hit the road on 'Fan Appreciation' tour

In between completing 1,400 hours of court-ordered community service for doing you-know-what to you-know-who, Chris Brown will be rehearsing his moves for a 19-city "Fan Appreciation" tour.  Taking place in small venues around the country, the trek is designed to thank followers for their ongoing support.  The journey kicks off November 14 in Houston, and wraps up in New York City a month later.

While on the road, Brown plans to visit participants in a program called Best Buddies International, and has opted to donate a portion of his proceeds to the foundation - which was founded in 1989 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and bills itself as the world's largest non-profit organization devoted solely to providing friendship, jobs and leadership opportunities to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Here are the tour dates:

  • November 14 – Houston, TX
  • November 15 – Dallas, TX
  • November 18 – Los Angeles, CA
  • November 19 – San Francisco, CA
  • November 22 – Richmond, VA
  • November 25 – Detroit, MI
  • November 26 – Chicago, IL
  • November 29 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • December 1 – Orlando, FL
  • December 2 – Atlanta, GA
  • December 4 – Washington, DC
  • December 5 – Providence, RI
  • December 6 – Boston, MA
  • December 9 – Sayreville, NJ
  • December 11 – Baltimore, MD
  • December 12 – Wallingford, CT
  • December 13 – Philadelphia, PA
  • December 15 – New York, NY
October 20th, 2009
11:38 AM ET

Rihanna is 'Rated R' for new album

Rihanna's rockin' an eyepatch on the cover of her new single ... and not much else!

Rihanna's new single is "Russian Roulette," from the album "Rated R."

On the front of "Russian Roulette" – which became available on rihannanow.com this morning – the Barbados-born beauty poses with barbed wire strategically wound like a ribbon around her breasts.

The 21-year-old chart-topper is definitely not playing the demure victim, after her much-publicized beatdown at the hands of then-boyfriend Chris Brown this year. In the cover photo, she seems to be saying, "I'm a survivor, I'm strong, I'm sexy – don't mess with me!"

In a press release this morning, Def Jam also revealed the name of her new album: "Rated R." As she announced last week in a tweet, the CD will hit stores on Monday, November 23.

The video for "Russian Roulette" – which was written and produced by Ne-Yo – will "premiere in primetime on ABC." One can only surmise it'll be in conjunction with a long-form sitdown interview.

October 15th, 2009
01:18 PM ET

Garth's big news: well, that was quick

Well, the cat's out of the bag - and his name is Garth Brooks.  In the world's worst-kept secret, the country music superstar announced this morning he's officially coming out of retirement.  The 47-year-old entertainer - who famously slipped away from recording and touring nine years ago - made the proclamation at the Opry House in Nashville before whisking 40 members of the media to the airport.  They'd been told earlier to pack a small carry-on and meet at a surprise location.  Right now, those journalists are on board a private jet winging their way to Sin City.

I just arrived in Las Vegas to meet up with them for Phase 2 of Operation Comeback: a press conference at the Wynn Encore Hotel.  Kind of bummed they jumped the gun with the announcement - thought they were going to wait for everyone to convene in Vegas before divulging the big news.  Oh well.

Knowing Garth's penchant for drama, maybe there's another surprise up his sleeve.  CNN.com/Live will be carrying the presser as it goes down at 4pm EDT/1pm PDT.

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