The $50 Million Toby and Some Priceless Performers
September 23, 2011
Jimmy Carter in his homebase Nashville.
The range of music on display in Nashville this week has been impressive even for this town. From The Gatlins singing with a Jamaican, All the Gold in California to the Taylor Swift spectacular at the Bridgestone, Alan Jackson's free street concert and Eric Church's asphalt peeling show volume.
First, the subject of an upcoming 60 Minutes story, Taylor Swift. Two sold-out shows and a lot of dazzled jaded industry people as the mega-sr trotted out Chesney and McGraw just for some addition gee whiz. She was and is amazing. Every bell and whistle a concert planner could think of is in this show in spades. A flying rig that is way beyond the past styles to the people who fly, the sets that fly and the time that flies...
If Taylor Swift wins the Entertainer of the Year again it will be a surprise but hardly a shock. No one short of U2 does this type of stage act. And U2 just had a huge set (really huge).
You don't have to be a teen to like Taylor she is a charming, classy young lady singing fun songs. Her fans adore her and she is the fastest study Music City has ever seen ... from awkward singer/songwriter to total confidence alongside Kenny and Tim and anyone else. Stage command is not in short supply. Who knows where this career will go next!
Taylor even worked the red carpet for the media at the ACM Honors show. Can't remember the time most of the EOY nominees did that! Getting too big for our britches has never been in short supply on this Music Row in modern times.
The ACMs threw a wonderful party and overcame the rainy weather with high spirits and great nominees. The Gatlins and Reba are such class acts! Taylor getting the International Award is very fitting.
ACMs have a very laid-back style that you wish some others around town would copy. The media treatment by some in Nashville has become choking and almost unfriendly. It is not fun covering some events in this "friendly" Country town. Done red carpets from London movie premieres to Hollywood ... NYC ... everywhere ... The Country music mega-events are the least media friendly events I have ever covered -- and they get worse every six months. The stars are lazy and mostly unavailable. The new folks are there for sure, but the hot acts. No way. Or very rarely. It is a problem. People Magazine declared Country music's end all-be all lately. Keep it up folks ... keep it up...
So nice to talk to a relaxed Alan Jackson this week ... a relaxed Reba ... Mr. and Mrs. Rodney Atkins ... newcomer Eric Paslay. Edens Edge ... we still have a bunch of great people who are winning personalities. Many of Country's classic artists today were raised in a time where crazy egos were dealt with. Our stars today are so rich no one can get near them. They are richer than most movie stars! $50 million for Toby Keith in a year? Find me a few movie stars who made that kind of money in 2010-11! Very very few ... Johnny Depp MAYBE...
Listening to Alan Jackson play classic after classic was so great ... outdoors on a nice weather night. At a volume that was not like a 747 taking off down the JFK runway. Which brings me to Eric Church. As a young person raised on The Allman Bros. live, Hendrix LIVE in Tuscaloosa, Steppenwolf, Eric Clapton and too many others to name, NO ONE ever hurt my ears in concert. And I sat in the first 10 row more often than not.
Not even Jimmy Page! Not even Peter Townsend and the Wwho in the Happy Jack days.
Eric Church hurt my ears! Not his singing and songs. I think they were good if only I could have heard them beyond the distortion and grind of the ear-piercing volume. I saw more than a few people haul their kids out of the free to the public street fair.
I had to get into my TV live truck to avoid going deaf. NASCAR isn't that loud. What is the point?
This has come up before. The substance is there. It really is. The growth of this artist is huge. I think he and Aldean are very representative of a big branch of new Country. Jason is pretty loud, too. But Eric. Find a different setting on the system other than 9.5. Loud is good. But it can be too loud. Shouting at someone doesn't get you more clearly heard.
I feel better. My ears still ring....