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Mar 11

Sara Evans Finds Life’s “Sweet Spot” in Birmingham

Sara Evans Finds Life’s “Sweet Spot” in Birmingham

Sara Evans’ 2014 album, Slow Me Down. Photo courtesy of Paul Freundlich & Associates.

Most country album release parties are held in Nashville, closed to the public and attended by music industry folks who’ve likely received advance copies of the record. But Sara Evans decided to do something a little different this time. For the release of her seventh studio album, Slow Me Down, she took the party to her newly-adopted hometown of Birmingham, Ala. Not only was the event open to the public – all of the money from ticket sales went to charity. Held at the 1300-capacity venue Iron City, Sara’s party raised over $40,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Alabama, and Alabama Forever.

During her set, Sara and her band performed past hits including “Born to Fly” and “Suds In The Bucket,” as well as new songs from Slow Me Down. She also played cuts from the new record as radio personality Buzz Brainard interviewed her for a SIRIUS/XM special.

Sara Evans Finds Life’s “Sweet Spot” in Birmingham

Sara Evans is presented the key to the city by Birmingham’s Mayor, the honorable Mayor William Bell, during her March 6, 2014 album release party for Slow Me Down at Iron City. Photo by DSmith Images, courtesy of Sony Music Nashville.

In the middle of the show, Sara was surprised by Birmingham’s Mayor, the honorable Mayor William Bell. Bell presented her with a key to the city in recognition of her charity work. While her husband and children watched the concert from the balcony, Sara entertained her fans and friends and expressed her gratitude to the packed house. Judging from the audience response, she is now one of Birmingham’s favorite residents.

To quote Sara’s 2005 hit, the city has been “A Real Fine Place To Start” – or more accurately, a place to start over. After her divorce from Craig Schelske in 2007, Sara married former University of Alabama quarterback/current radio sportscaster Jay Barker in 2008. They blended their families – Jay has four children and Sara has three – and Sara moved from Nashville to Birmingham. Sitting in her dressing room before the show, Sara recalls the day she made the decision to leave Music City. Continue Reading

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Posted at 3:54 pm | Permalink
Mar 11

Krystal Keith in the Kitchen: Krystal’s Recipe for Caramel Buttercream

Krystal Keith in the Kitchen: Krystal's Recipe for Caramel Buttercream

Krystal Keith photo courtesy of Show Dog-Universal.

You may know Krystal Keith as the singer of the sweet father/daughter wedding dance song, “Daddy Dance With Me,” which she wrote for her own wedding as a surprise for dad Toby Keith. Or maybe you know her from her official debut single, “Get Your Redneck On.” [Get it here!] But did you know she’s also super talented in the kitchen? Krystal’s been creating delicious meals from family recipes for years and featuring them in her blog, The Barnyard Bistro. But now she’s sharing some of them exclusively with Great American Country! Check back with us every Tuesday for a new recipe from Krystal.

“I have always been a cook but only recently got into baking,” says Krystal. “I have a go-to buttercream recipe that is foolproof — if you don’t count the powdered sugar cloud that usually kicks off the fun of making buttercream from scratch! I always forget the part about SLOWLY adding in the powdered sugar so I usually get to wear more than I actually get in the icing for the first batch.

“I love experimenting and straying just a bit from my traditional vanilla buttercream to come up with delicious new flavors,” she says. “I came up with this Caramel Buttercream recipe for a friend’s baby shower over this past weekend and it was to die for! Pair it with your favorite vanilla cupcake recipe.”

Krystal Keith in the Kitchen: Krystal's Recipe for Caramel Buttercream

Photo by Krystal Keith.

Ingredients:
1 lb unsalted butter, softened
1 lb powdered sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
1 -8oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 stick butter (on hand)

Directions:
Cream the butter in your stand mixer. With your mixer on the lowest setting, slowly add in the powdered sugar a little at a time. Add the milk and vanilla. Cover the icing in the bowl and place in fridge. Heat the sweetened condensed milk in a small sauce pan over low-medium heat, stirring constantly. Stir for 10-15 minutes until the mixture thickens to a caramel consistency. Remove from heat. If it gets too thick, add in some of the butter and stir until the butter is incorporated. Let cool for 5-10 minutes. Remove the icing from the fridge and place the bowl back on the stand mixer. Turn it on the lowest setting and pour 2/3 of the caramel into the icing.

Ice your cupcakes or cake and reheat the remaining caramel on low with the remaining butter, constantly stirring until it is thin enough to drizzle again. Drizzle the remaining half of the caramel over the cupcakes or cake.

XOXO
Krystal

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Posted at 7:23 am | Permalink
Mar 10

Mel Tillis Recovering After Heart Surgery

Mel Tillis Recovering After Heart Surgery

Mel Tillis photo courtesy of Absolute Publicity.

Great American Country sends “Get Well Soon” wishes to Country Music Hall of Fame member Mel Tillis, who is recovering in Nashville following heart surgery. Today, Tillis’ daughter Pam Tillis released the following statement on the health status of the music legend: Continue Reading

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Posted at 6:58 pm | Permalink
Mar 6

One Pan Nan: Nan Kelley’s Recipe for Chai Tea Cookies

One Pan Nan: Nan Kelley Shares Her Recipes with Great American Country

Photo courtesy of Nan Kelley.

Every week on Top 20 Country Countdown our host Nan Kelley counts down your favorite videos — but when she’s away from the studio she’s likely to be found in her kitchen, creating healthy, delicious meals! Nan likes to keep it simple, cooking entire meals using only one pan. Her husband Charlie lovingly gave her the nickname “One Pan Nan” — and now that’s also the name of her new cookbook [get it HERE!]. We asked Nan to share some of her recipes with us. This week, Nan shares her recipe for Chai Tea Cookies. Check back every other week for a new one!

For there to be true harmony in the Kelley house, there must be cookies,” says Nan. “My husband Charlie is addicted to them–any kind. It’s a fact. One cold night not too long ago, he was digging through the pantry, looking for something to go with his hot tea & complaining that we had nothing. So again harmony=cookies. I jumped to the web to see what I could whip up and I found this little jewel. It met all the criteria: it’s a cookie, made with chai tea (he loves that too) & it’s a cookie. You’re no doubt getting the importance of them at my house, right?

“Thankfully, these were a hit!” she adds. “I’ve made 3 batches in the last several weeks! Part cookie, part shortbread, part biscuit — they’re special and perfect for your afternoon tea or coffee. It met all of my one pan criteria too. Heck, you don’t even need a pan/bowl at all — just a food processor and a cookie sheet! That’s it. And don’t worry if you don’t have a big food processor; I worked this one up in my little mini food processor. If there are chai tea drinkers in your family, then you’ve got the tea on hand and the rest of the ingredients are staples. You can also make up the dough — which literally takes about 10 minutes to do — and keep it in the freezer until warm, homemade, spiced cookies are what you’re craving. Enjoy!

One Pan Nan: Nan Kelley's Recipe for Chai Tea Cookies

Photo by Nan Kelley.

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon chai tea mix (from 2 chai tea bags)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup unsalted butter, sliced into pats

One Pan Nan: Nan Kelley's Recipe for Chai Tea Cookies

Photo by Nan Kelley.

Directions:
In a food processor, put the flour, sugar, powdered sugar, chai tea mix, salt, cardamom & cinnamon and pulse to blend all together. To that, add vanilla and Continue Reading

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Posted at 7:36 am | Permalink
Mar 5

Exclusive: Sarah Darling’s Wedding Diary — Bachelorette Bliss

Exclusive: Sarah Darling's Wedding Diary -- Bachelorette Bliss

Sarah Darling tries on a beautiful wedding dress. Is it “the one”? Follow this Great American Country blog series to find out which one she chose for the big day! Photo by Sara Kauss Photography.

Sarah Darling and James Muriel tied the knot in a secret spur-of-the-moment ceremony back in April 2013 — but they’re still planning a big Nashville wedding in May 2014 to celebrate with family and friends! Sarah’s sharing her personal wedding diary exclusively with Great American Country. She’ll take us along on the whole journey, from the dress to the flowers to the big day. Check back every other Wednesday for a new post from Sarah!

Exclusive: Sarah Darling's Wedding Diary -- Bachelorette Bliss

Photo courtesy of Sarah Darling.

Bachelorette Bliss
Welcome back to my wedding blog! The days are flying by. The wedding will be here before you know it! I’m getting so excited to have our families together in Nashville.

One of the perks of getting married is enjoying all of the parties, especially the famous bachelorette party! There is always so much hype to really have some epic night. The movie “The Hangover” comes to mind already. Nobody wants any missing teeth and I’ve never been much of a club girl. My idea of a party is drinking a nice Sauvignon Blanc at a wine bar listening to music. When my best friends said they had the most perfect bachelorette party planned for me, I was thrilled!

See Sarah’s Wedding Diary Photo Gallery >>

It started three weeks ago today. My two best friends and I started a journey to an unknown place. They had kept it a secret and I was loving the intrigue of not knowing. I knew we were headed to the East Coast. One hundred selfies later, we arrived in the quaint town of Washington, Connecticut.

I couldn’t believe my eyes! Honestly, I felt like I was in a movie driving through this sweet place. The ground was snow-covered and the trees were magical. Soon we arrived at the destination. It was the Mayflower Grace! I do want to add that I absolutely loved the name from the start. My BFFs had taken me to spa! Not just any spa, but one of the most exquisite spas in the world. Continue Reading

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Posted at 9:59 pm | Permalink
Mar 4

Krystal Keith in the Kitchen: Krystal’s Recipe for Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

Krystal Keith in the Kitchen: Krystal's Recipe for Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

Krystal Keith photo courtesy of Show Dog-Universal.

You may know Krystal Keith as the singer of the sweet father/daughter wedding dance song, “Daddy Dance With Me,” which she wrote for her own wedding as a surprise for dad Toby Keith. Or maybe you know her from her official debut single, “Get Your Redneck On.” [Get it here!] But did you know she’s also super talented in the kitchen? Krystal’s been creating delicious meals from family recipes for years and featuring them in her blog, The Barnyard Bistro. But now she’s sharing some of them exclusively with Great American Country! Check back with us every Tuesday for a new recipe from Krystal.

“Happy Fat Tuesday! There are so many guilty pleasures me and my family have hidden in the gem of a city that is New Orleans,” says Krystal, “so for today’s recipe I thought I’d share one of my at-home guilty pleasures, Chocolate Chip Cookies. I like my cookies to feel almost under-done, soft and gooey. I keep a batch of these in my freezer and just cut 1-2 cookies off whenever I have a craving…which keeps me from staring at an entire batch of cookies that just taunt me all week!”

 

Krystal Keith's recipe for Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

Photo by Krystal Keith.

Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

 

Krystal Keith's recipe for Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

Photo by Krystal Keith.

Directions:
Combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer and use paddle blade to mix. Add eggs without mixing. In a separate bowl combine melted butter with sugars and vanilla. Turn stand mixer on the lowest setting and slowly pour the butter and sugar mixture in. Turn stand mixer up another notch and mix until all ingredients are combined well. Add in the chocolate chips and mix just until they are distributed well.

Krystal Keith's recipe for Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

Photo by Krystal Keith.

Dump the cookie dough out onto parchment paper and divide it into 2 mounds, on 2 separate sheets of parchment. Use the parchment paper to roll the dough into a log (like the kind you buy at the store). Each log should be about 2 inches wide and 8-9 inches long. Roll them up in parchment paper and place both logs in a large ziplock bag and refrigerate for a minimum of one hour. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove one refrigerated log from ziplock and remove from parchment. Cut off (as many cookies as you want to make) into 3/4 inch rounds. Bake for 12-15 mins. Wrap the remaining portion of the log back up in the same parchment paper, stick back into ziplock and place the entire ziplock into the freezer for the next time you crave a cookie! If they are frozen you can let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes or add 1-2 minutes to the cook time.

XOXO
Krystal

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Posted at 8:54 pm | Permalink
Feb 28

Bluegrass Legend Ralph Stanley Celebrates Birthday with Rare Nashville Performance

Ralph Stanley at The Station Inn, Nashville, TN February 27, 2014

Ralph Stanley celebrates his 87th birthday with a final performance at The Station Inn in Nashville, TN on February 27, 2014.

For most Nashvillians, last night was just another cold February evening. But for the lucky few packed inside the Station Inn, it was the chance to see bluegrass legend and Grand Ole Opry member Ralph Stanley celebrate his 87th birthday with a rare – and final – performance at the hallowed bluegrass venue. The concert was part of Stanley’s tour, “The Man of Constant Sorrow Tour:  The Dr.’s Farewell.” The tour stretches throughout 2014 with Stanley accompanied by his longtime band, the Clinch Mountain Boys. After it’s over, Stanley will take a breather from more than six decades on the road – first as part of the duo the Stanley Brothers with his brother Carter, and then as a solo artist with the Clinch Mountain Boys following Carter’s death in 1966.

Stanley’s grandson, 21-year-old Nathan Stanley (who also plays guitar and sings in the band), was the night’s emcee. The young Stanley was host to an impressive lineup of fellow artists who surprised Dr. Stanley by showing up to play a few songs in his honor. Former Clinch Mountain Boys member Larry Sparks entertained the crowd and was soon followed by Larry Cordle.

“Our ‘Beatles’ were the Stanley Brothers when I was a young boy,” Cordle told the crowd. “Whether he knows it or not, he saved my life a lot of lonesome nights.” Larry then launched into the Stanley Brothers’ “Love Me Darlin’, Just Tonight” while Dr. Stanley sat behind him onstage and listened intently.

In addition to the musical tributes, BMI’s Perry Howard presented Stanley with a special citation of appreciation from BMI in celebration of 60 years as a BMI songwriter and performer. “When you talk about American roots music history, there’s no one any more important than Dr. Ralph Stanley in that field,” said Howard.

Ralph Stanley at The Station Inn, Nashville, TN February 27, 2014

Ralph Stanley (seated, center) watches as Larry Sparks performs at Stanley’s 87th birthday party on February 27, 2014 at The Station Inn, Nashville, TN.

The Station Inn’s Bob Smiley also presented Stanley with an award. “We just want to thank Dr. Ralph for all the years he’s come down here and graced our stage and put on some great music – and for all the years of contribution he’s made to our bluegrass world here as well as everywhere.” Continue Reading

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Posted at 6:12 pm | Permalink
Feb 28

CMA to Announce LP Field Performers for 2014 CMA Music Festival Via Social Media March 3

CMA to Announce LP Field Performers for 2014 CMA Music Festival Via Social Media March 3

CMA Music Festival at LP Field. Photo by Bennett Farkas, courtesy of the CMA.

CMA will utilize social networks to announce LP Field performers for the 2014 CMA Music Festival starting Monday, March 3. Every weekday from March 3-18, CMA will post clues on its social media platforms allowing fans to speculate and anticipate who will be performing during the Nightly Concerts at LP Field.

A full announcement of the LP Field lineup will follow the #CMAFestGuess social media campaign on Wednesday, March 19.

“We have a very strong, dedicated, and loyal social media audience,” said CMA Chief Executive Officer Sarah Trahern. “They are the ones who are constantly engaged with the Festival, so of course we want to let them be the first to find out who will be performing this year. Their passion for the music makes CMA Music Festival the world’s premier Country Music festival.”

A mock movie trailer announcing the campaign will be released on CMA’s social pages Sunday during the Oscars ceremony. “As the Oscars will be one of the largest nights of the year for social engagement, we felt it the perfect time to announce this innovative social campaign to our fans,” said Damon Whiteside, CMA Senior Vice President of Marketing and Partnerships.

Followers can use #CMAFestGuess to track the virtual clues. With more than two million followers across CMA’s social media platforms, Country Music fans are proving that they are digitally engaged and Internet savvy. The 2013 CMA Awards, which aired Nov. 6 on ABC, was the most tweeted-about television event of that week. Continue Reading

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Posted at 2:20 pm | Permalink
Feb 26

See Brett Eldredge, Justin Moore & Kip Moore in ACM New Artist of the Year Special

See Brett Eldredge, Justin Moore & Kip Moore in ACM New Artist of the Year Special

l-r: Justin Moore; Suzanne Gordon, vice president of programming, Great American Country; Brett Eldredge and Kip Moore. (Photo by Ed Rode)

Brett Eldredge, Justin Moore,and Kip Moore, nominees for ACM New Artist of the Year Presented by Kohl’s Department Store, gathered in Nashville to tape ACM New Artist of the Year – a new concert special premiering Monday, March 24, 8:00 p.m./ET on Great American Country. In the special, hosted by reigning ACM New Artist of the Year winners Florida Georgia Line,viewers will be treated to interviews and special performances by each nominee.

Fans can vote for the ACM New Artist category by logging on to VoteACM.com from March 24, 3:00 p.m. ET until Sunday, April 6, 8:00 p.m. ET. The winner will be announced live Continue Reading

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Posted at 1:12 pm | Permalink
Feb 25

Updated: Loretta Lynn’s Home Catches Fire

Loretta Lynn's Home Catches Fire

Loretta Lynn

Nashville’s WKRN.com reports a Tuesday morning fire caused minor damage at Loretta Lynn‘s home on Hurricane Mills Road in Humphreys County, Tenn. A candle overturned, igniting a nearby chair and Lynn put the fire out with a pillow, which caused minor burns on her fingertips.

For more information, visit WKRN.com.

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Posted at 12:33 pm | Permalink