Tracy Waits, Patsy’s Late, Statlers Ready to Exit

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Another Round Of Jose Cuervo?
Will Jose Cuervo sponsor Tracy Byrd ’s next tour? “After six months of free publicity, they’re showing some interest,” Byrd says, paraphrasing a line from his latest No. 1 single, “Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo.” Byrd’s people approached the tequila maker for promotional support even before the song came out as a single, the singer explains, but got no encouragement. Since then, however, “Ten Rounds” has become the “Friends in Low Places” of a younger generation of revelers, a fact not lost on Cuervo officials. “The way I look at it,” Byrd grins, “they owe us.”

Patsy Clone
It now appears that Remembering Patsy, MCA Records’ much-ballyhooed tribute to Patsy Cline won’t be out until early next year, probably in March, which is the 40th anniversary of the singer’s death. (Her plane crashed March 5, 1963.)

While the label won’t confirm who’s singing what on the album, a source who’s heard the collection says this is the program: Martina McBride with Take 6, “Sweet Dreams”; Diana Krall, “Crazy”; Natalie Cole, “I Fall to Pieces”; Jessi Alexander, “So Wrong”; Michelle Branch, “Strange”; Amy Grant, “Back in Baby’s Arms”; Lee Ann Womack , “She’s Got You”; Patty Griffin, “Faded Love”; Norah Jones, “Why Can’t He Be You”; Rebecca Lynn Howard , “You’re Stronger Than Me”; K. D. Lang, “Leavin’ on Your Mind”; and Patsy Cline, “Walkin’ After Midnight.”

Note to CMA: Statlers Bow Out Saturday
It will be the slap heard ‘round the world if next month’s CMA awards show doesn’t tip its hat to the retiring Statler Brothers. The group, which has nine CMA trophies on the shelf, will play its final concert Saturday (Oct. 26) at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, Va. A spokesman for the venue said all 7,000 seats were sold out within an hour and a-half after tickets went on sale in April.

Besides a lot of joy, the Statlers brought two other elements to country music — humor that tended to be more ironic than cornpone and songs about growing up middle-class in a small town instead of growing up poor on a farm. Their album sales kept Mercury Records afloat long enough for the label to sign such bestsellers as Kathy Mattea , the Kentucky HeadHunters , Billy Ray Cyrus , Toby Keith and Shania Twain . They were also mentors to new talent, numbering Tammy Wynette , Barbara Mandrell , Reba McEntire , Ricky Skaggs and Garth Brooks among their opening acts.

Anne Peters, who oversees the Statlers’ headquarters in Staunton, Va., says the Salem finale will be videotaped but that she doesn’t know yet how the tape will be used. The Statler Brothers ’ museum will close, she continues, but their gift shop will remain open.

Slain Musician’s Friends Raise Reward
Producer Buddy Cannon (Kenny Chesney , Sammy Kershaw ) tells Hot Talk that a benefit staged by friends of murdered songwriter and drummer Randy Hardison has raised $5,000 in reward money to find the assailants. “If they haven’t made an arrest in a couple of months,” Cannon promises, “we’re going to do it again.” The popular musician was found beaten June 1 near his apartment in Madison, Tenn., and died three days later.

Morgan Buying Into Paul Craft Music
Songwriter and publisher Dennis Morgan says he’s buying half interest in Paul Craft Music. The catalog contains more than 600 songs, he reports, half of which have been cut by such figures as Ralph Stanley , Reba McEntire, Martina McBride and Doyle Lawson. Morgan’s own compositions have been recorded by Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, Anastacia and Faith Hill.

Riders on the Spit
Riders in the Sky , those buoyant buckaroos of the Tinsel Trail, will celebrate their 25th anniversary at Sam’s Town in Las Vegas Nov. 15 with a dinner, tribute ceremony and roast. Sidekicks of the Riders were backstage at the Grand Ole Opry last week to tape fellow Opry members’ comments for the festivities. Open to the public, the event will be sponsored by the Western Music Association.

Country Capsules
Trick Pony ’s Heidi Newfield delighted guests at the Bill Boyd Celebrity Golf Classic banquet last Monday (Oct. 14) by whipping out her harmonica and backing Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson in his performance for the group. … Following the banquet, Ronnie McDowell presented Fran Boyd, executive director of the Academy of Country Music, a framed print of his painting of Elvis Presley , Scotty Moore and the 1953 Cadillac they once toured in together. McDowell’s manager, Wayne Fricks, now owns the Cadillac and is having it restored. … WSM disc jockey Keith Bilbrey surprised newcomer Rebecca Lynn Howard by asking her to sing an on-air duet with Ralph Stanley during the Grand Ole Opry warmup show Saturday night (Oct. 12). After huddling for a few minutes, the two settled on “Amazing Grace.” …The buildings and land in Nolensville, Tenn., that used to house the Jim Reeves Museum have been sold to pay off creditors.

Free Speech
“My first royalties were beaver pelts.” — Veteran songwriter Michael Heeney, whose “Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo” is his first No. 1 hit since 1981.

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Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to