HOT TALK: Bluegrass on TV, Jagger Covers Loveless, BBC Goes Country

(HOT TALK is a new weekly column by longtime contributing writer and former Billboard country music editor Edward Morris.)

Bluegrass Awards May Be Televised
You may be able to watch next year’s International Bluegrass Music Association awards show on television — a first for that increasingly popular event. “We are in what I would characterize as negotiations for the television broadcast of the show,” explains Dan Hays, IBMA’s executive director. “We’re not deep enough into it that I can actually say what the chances are, but we’re pretty optimistic. We hope to have some news in the first quarter of 2003.”

Right now, Hays continues, he’s busy orchestrating the trade association’s January move from Owensboro, Ky., to Nashville. And he’s still shopping for the right location. “The Music Row area is certainly going to be a strong consideration,” he says, “but we haven’t ruled out some other possibilities. We just want to be sure we’re accessible to our membership and, somehow or other, integrated into the music scene down there.”

Hays reports that the IBMA’s entire staff of four will relocate. The group’s new marketing and public relations director, Shari Lacy, a former publicist for Compass Records, is already working from Nashville.

During the coming year, the IBMA will develop its “Discover Bluegrass” promotional campaign, which, Hays says, will involve creating and placing public service spots on TV and radio, subscribing to and assessing new marketing information and building a centralized Web site to help fans “find the music they’re looking for.”

Alan Jackson Duets With Jeannie Kendall
Alan Jackson has recorded a duet with Jeannie Kendall for her new album that is expected out early next year. Kendall was half of the father-daughter act, The Kendalls , which ruled the country charts for four weeks in 1977 with “Heaven’s Just A Sin Away.” Father Royce Kendall died in 1998.

Nothing’ But the Grins
Remember Patty Loveless ’ 1993 hit, “Nothin’ But the Wheel”? Well, the song has just resurfaced as a duet between former J. Geils Bandsman Peter Wolf and — get this — Mick Jagger. Who knew? Certainly not the song’s composer, John Scott Sherrill, who tells Hot Talk he didn’t realize the song had been recut until he saw it on Wolf’s new album, Sleepless.

“I’ve heard rumors that [Wolf] heard the demo a few years ago,” says Sherrill, “and thought it sounded kind of like the early Stones and that’s what gave him the idea of calling Mick Jagger and having him come in and be the guest on it. It was such a shock to me. I played it about 50 times when I got it. It was so great to hear Mick Jagger singing my song.” (On Wolf’s album, by the way, the first word of the title is “Nothing” not “Nothin’.”) Sherrill says he loved Loveless’ treatment, too.

This Just In From Baghdad
There’s a story going around that Saddam Hussein used Whitney Houston’s version of Dolly Parton ’s “I Will Always Love You” as the theme song for his recent election campaign. It must have worked since he won 100 percent of the vote. Guess he decided to pass on Pat Boone’s “Love Letters in the Sand,” Stonewall Jackson ’s “Don’t Be Angry” and Mickey Gilley ’s “Here Comes the Hurt Again.”

BBC-TV Slots Four-Part Country Special
Producers for BBC-TV have been in the states this summer and fall filming a four-part documentary called “Lost Highway: The Story of Country Music.” The series will make its worldwide debut — including in the U.S. — this coming spring. Among the artists interviewed were Merle Haggard , Vince Gill , Buck Owens , Ralph Stanley , Dwight Yoakam , Willie Nelson and Randy Travis . Accompanying the series will be a book written by Grammy-winning annotator Colin Escott, who also served as a consultant for the project. The four segments, each an hour long, will cover traditional and bluegrass music, great women in country music, the Nashville Sound and “’90s outlaws.”

Never Underestimate “The Impossible”
The stories just keep coming about “The Impossible,” Joe Nichols’ breakthrough hit. Like the fact that it had to be rewritten. At a party held last week at BMI, Lee Thomas Miller admitted that he and co-writer Kelley Lovelace had to do some serious revisions of the song before his publisher would agree to pitch it. “They said it was boring and didn’t go anywhere,” Miller told Hot Talk. “The [original] lyrics were totally different.” To kick off its celebration, BMI host David Preston played a recording of Miller’s 2-year-old son, Levi, singing the song and discussing it with his palpably proud papa. “Is it No. 2?” asked the devious dad. “No,” said Levi, innocently taking the bait, “it’s No. 1.”

No Place Like Home
If you are — or were — a country entertainer, you have a better chance of being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame than you do of being admitted to the Country Music Association’s long-delayed retirement home. More than two years ago, SunTrust Bank donated to the CMA five acres of land near Spring Hill, Tenn., on which to build the home. At that time, the CMA had already spent six years contemplating the project. Hot Talk’s request for a status report has so far yielded nothing.

How About Something Really Useful?
The Country Music Association will pass out richly stuffed “goody bags” to all the artists who appear on Wednesday night’s (Nov. 6) awards show. Companies who want to get the stars’ attention have donated such trinkets as shirts, jackets, jewelry, chocolates and beef jerky. But let’s face it, if you’re famous enough to be on the CMAs, aren’t you likely to have piles of these things lying around already? Hot Talk suggests more practical baubles — perhaps a spray repellent to keep would-be managers at bay, a hyena doll that laughs hysterically during record-contract negotiations or a wrist watch that digitally displays the name of one’s current spouse.

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