Sunday, May 27, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Brian Dugger

DTE Energy Music Theatre's big country summer

It's a pretty long drive for Toledoans, but the DTE Energy Music

Theatre in Clarkston, Mich., has a great country lineup planned for

the next several months.

Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley, and Terri Clark will be in concert on

Sunday, May 22. On Saturday, June 11, Rascal Flatts and Blake Shelton will be on stage. The Alan Jackson, Sara Evans, and The Wrights show will be Sunday, Aug. 7. And Brooks & Dunn and Big & Rich will be in concert on Friday, Sept. 2.

Tickets will be available soon at, the Palace box

office, or by phone at (248) 377-0100.

* * *

Over the last couple of years, I've gotten a chance to get to know

Phil Vassar, and I get more and more impressed with him each time I see him in concert and talk to him. Phil's one of those guys that

really paid his dues in Nashville, playing in clubs five nights a

week by dragging his piano in the back of his truck from club to

club. Before becoming a recording artist, Vassar was one of the most

respected songwriters in town, penning Colin Raye's "Little Red

Rodeo," Alan Jackson's "Right on the Money," Jo Dee Messina's "Bye

Bye," and Tim McGraw's "My Next 30 Years."

All that experience in the clubs turned Vassar into one of the best

entertainers in the business, something he really doesn't get

recognized for. And besides being a great entertainer, he's a really

classy guy, always taking extra time for his fans. Later this year,

his wife, Julie Wood, will be releasing her debut country album.

* * *

Don't forget to go to and sign up so you can vote for the upcoming CMT Music Awards.

The show will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. on April 11. Kenny

Chesney, with four nominations is the leading nominee on the night,

but Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson, Tim McGraw, and Toby Keith are up

for three awards.

* * *

Despite having to wear a therapeutic boot to protect damaged

ligaments in his ankle, Chesney is performing to the largest crowds

of his career. Kenny played to more than 70,000 fans at Houston's

Livestock Show & Rodeo. For the first time, Chesney is adding

stadiums to his tour schedule this year. He's going to be playing at

FedEx Field in Washington on June 4. On July 23, he will be in

Foxboro, Mass., to play at Gillette Stadium, and he will be at

Pittsburgh's Heinz Field on July 30.

* * *

To promote her debut album, "Honeysuckle Sweet," Jessi Alexander

made an appearance on Jay Leno's "Tonight Show" on March 10.

That appearance almost didn't happen because of an accident near her Burbank, Calif., hotel. Jessi and her band were in a van headed back to the hotel when the van went through a red light and slammed into a car. The only injury was a stiff neck for Alexander, but she was able to pull off a nice performance of "This World Is Crazy" later on the show.

* * *

And finally, congratulations to Ken Cooper, the president of Rust

Records. I met him recently in Florida, and he has a great vision for

his independent label. Cooper, a former stock broker, opened the

label, based in Cleveland, with a couple of rock acts, but he opened

an office this week for a country division in Nashville. He has

landed a major distribution deal with Universal Records, and the

company is preparing for an initial public offering on a secondary

stock market. On the country side, Rust is preparing to debut Shane

Owens, a promising artist from Alabama. They will also be releasing

projects from Blackhawk and David Allan Coe. Especially exciting is

his recent deal with Jenna Thomas, an 18-year-old who has several

relatives in the Toledo area. Jenna's first album should be coming

out in October or by the beginning of 2006.

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