HOT TALK: Louvins Launch, Jenny on the Radio

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

James Taylor-Alison Krauss Single First From Louvin Tribute
James Taylor and Alison Krauss’ “How’s the World Treating You” will be the first single released from Universal South’s hot new tribute album, Livin’, Lovin’, Losin: Songs of the Louvin Brothers. No release date has been set for the single, but a label spokeswoman tells Hot Talk there are plans to shoot a music video of the song and that the video could be out as early as the end of October. There have been rumors that Taylor and Krauss would perform the song on the upcoming CMA awards show, but Krauss’ manager, Denise Stiff, says Taylor will be in Europe at the time.

Americana Music Association to Promote Its Awards Show
The Americana Music Association has hired Jon Grimson’s Americana Entertainment to create a DVD with which to promote the trade group’s annual awards show. The company shot this year’s show on digital videotape, using five cameras. Grimson says he will edit the tapes into a 20 to 25-minute presentation of highlights. The resulting DVD will be used, he says, to seek out corporate sponsorships and a TV slot for the show. He expects to have the presentation ready by end of November.

An Adjective for Jenny
I wish you had been there at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum last Tuesday (Sept. 30) for the taping of Jenny Gill’s Teen Country radio show. Already airing in Canada, this show was the first one taped for broadcast in the U. S. Thus, it was quite a big deal. A couple of hundred fans turned out to look and listen.

Spurning such wussy alternatives as “splendid,” glorious,” “astounding,” “stunning,” “divine,” “incomparable,” “overwhelming,” “magnificent,” “enchanting,” “mesmerizing,” “transcendent,” “stupendous” and “eye-popping,” Gill declared time and again that each of her guests was “awesome.” Their performances were “awesome,” too, she asserted, as were the stories they told and the costumes they wore. She was right, of course. It was an evening to remember.

Gill’s visitors were her famous father and mother — Vince Gill and Janis Cummins (of Sweethearts of the Rodeo) — the group Bering Strait, Pam Tillis, Craig Morgan, Lila McCann, Jimmy Wayne and newcomer Memarie. Delightfully spontaneous, the 21-year-old Gill roamed unaffectedly about the stage between acts. At one point, she spotted a former high school teacher and ran up into the audience to embrace her.

Although Gill’s chats with the stars were brief, they yielded some good quotes. Tillis told of recording with the Jordanaires, Elvis Presley’s old backup group. “They’ve been together so long,” she said, “that they all drive white cars and park in formation.” When Gill described her as being “versatile,” Tillis quipped, “I like to be versatile, but I’m not much of a tap dancer.” Memarie explained how she had broken into the music business by writing songs. Her first cut, she revealed, was called “He’ll Never Be a Lawyer, ’Cause He Can’t Pass a Bar.”

“Aren’t they pretty!” Gill exclaimed when Sweethearts of the Rodeo came out to sing. “I wonder if any of you out there realize how proud I am of this girl?” Cummins told the audience. “It seems like it was only a few years ago when I was carrying her around on my hip. I don’t think she would fit now.”

Ex-soldier and current singer Morgan spoke about his years in the service and then added, “I tell everybody that the military was my training for the music business.” Gill remarked to McCann that the last time she had seen her was several years earlier when the singer was opening for Papa Gill. “Now we’re legal,” McCann beamed. Gill admitted to having a crush on Wayne, reminding him that when he sang “Sara Smile” on one of her earlier shows, “I was drooling all over myself.” “Your dad’s back there,” Wayne said nervously, nodding toward the wings. “So, can I ask you if you’ve got a date for the CMAs [the CMA awards show]?” she persisted. Wayne paused dramatically before conceding that he did.

The best chatter, of course, came from Gill the Elder, perennial host of the CMA Awards and master of wry observations. Would he be doing a video for his next single? his daughter asked. “Videos and me don’t get along,” the singer said. “They’re directly related to how much I weigh. I’m starting the big starve for the CMAs. I’ve been losing the same 30 pounds for the past 20 years.” After singing “Young Man’s Town,” which deals with the subject of aging gracefully, Gill told the audience that when he asked Jenny what she wanted for her 21st birthday, she told him a trip to Las Vegas. “I thought it would be a lot of fun to gamble and drink in front of you,” she taunted.

Turning to her dad’s grand passion — golf — she mused that she should really start learning the game. “Apparently, you’ve got the beer-drinking down,” he said caustically, alluding to an empty can he’d found in the back of her car. It wasn’t hers, she protested. She inquired about the Christmas tour he’ll be doing this year with his wife and fellow-singer, Amy Grant. “Is Amy going to wear her big gowns?” she asked. “No,” he said, “but I am. And you should see me in stiletto heels.” She told him she might go on the road with them and recalled an earlier tour during which she’d help take care of their new baby, Corrina. “The diapering was a little rough,” she lamented. “You should talk,” snapped her dad. “I changed yours.”

Crystal Gayle Sparkles With Pop Classics
Crystal Gayle has always been a country star with jazz sensibilities. This flair sparkles in her new collection of pop standards, All My Tomorrows. The album may not appeal to country traditionalists, but it certainly will to those who are old enough to remember when musical categories were not so rigidly drawn and enforced. Among the highlights here are “You Belong to Me,” “Cry Me a River,” “Sentimental Journey,” “I’m Beginning to See the Light” and “More Than You Know.” Play this album back to back with Crystal Gayle Sings the Heart & Soul of Hoagy Carmichael (which contains the delicious duet with Willie Nelson, “Two Sleepy People”), and you’ve got yourself a real time machine.

Festival Fare: Roni Stoneman’s Bio, Buddy’s Kid
I zipped up to Louisville, Ky., a few days back to catch one of the sessions at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual trade show and convention. As with all such gatherings, you tend to learn more in hotel hallways than you do in the seminars. While cruising the aforesaid hallways, I ran into Dr. Ellen Wright of Northwestern University, who’s just completed her much-anticipated biography of Roni Stoneman. You may recall Stoneman as the gap-toothed, banjo-playing harridan from Hee Haw, but she’s also a fine musician and custodian of the musical heritage her father, Ernest V. “Pop” Stoneman, started in the 1920s. Some people — and I’m one of them — put the Stonemans right up there with the Carter Family in the pantheon of country music pioneers. Anyway, Wright is paring down her finished manuscript and looking for the right publisher. Two years ago at the International Country Music Conference in Nashville, she gave a talk called, “Have You Ever Tried to Iron a Dress With a Light Bulb?” It was inspired by one of the hundreds of tales Stoneman had told her about her life on the road. Another familiar face in the IBMA crowd was that of Buddy Cannon, who co-produces Reba McEntire and Kenny Chesney. He said he was there to support his daughter, Melanie, now a recording artist for Skaggs Family Records. Cannon’s other talented daughter, Marla, is a top-flight country songwriter.

Have you forgotten? Of course you haven’t. It’s just that a guy needs a little reassurance every now and then. Send your tips and quips to