(HOT TALK is a weekly column by longtime CMT.com contributing writer and former Billboard country music editor Edward Morris.)
Martina McBride: Dreaming of a Quiet Christmas?
Martina McBride may be totally Santa Claustrophobic by the time her 17-show Joy of Christmas
tour wraps up. But she was still able to joke about it the other night when she invited friends and media to a rehearsal hall
at the Gaylord Entertainment Center to watch her final run-through. At the same time, in the main arena upstairs, a production
of Sesame Street Live was making its own joyful noises.
"We're going to get this Jerry Springer thing going,"
McBride explained several minutes into the show, stepping off the stage and into the audience to chat with kids and cowering
adults. Disregarding turned heads and averted eyes, the diminutive vocal powerhouse moved up and down the aisles, talking
Christmas with the camera-captured folks whether they wanted to or not. Finally, she invited "young volunteers" to go back
on stage with her to hear her read "a cool story"-- "The Night Before Christmas." Then she led the purloined tots in singing
Later in the show, when Santa Claus asked McBride, "Have you decided what you want for Christmas?" the singer
zinged, "You mean other than a royalty check from Joe Galante?" (Galante heads McBride's record label.) It was, except for
one dissenting voice, an utterly adoring crowd. As McBride brought the first half of the show to an end with a lush rendering
of "The Christmas Song," a kid (who may or may not still be walking among us) shouted, "Mom, I want to see Sesame Street
Vince Gill Readies His Next Big Thing
Gill's next big thing will be a 17-cut album, due out Feb. 4. Still untitled, the collection is his first in two years.
In addition to producing it himself, Gill wrote or co-wrote all the songs. While there are no duets as such on the new album,
a lot of familiar names provide supporting vocals, among them daughter Jenny Gill, wife Amy Grant, Emmylou
Harris, Lee Ann Womack, Michael McDonald, Leslie Satcher, Dawn Sears and Bekka
Bramlett. With titles like "Next Big Thing" (which he debuted to the recent CMA Awards show), "Young Man's Town" and "This
Old Guitar and Me," Gill seems to be in a philosophical mood this time out.
Isn't it cool, by the way, that so many
artists are giving their fans more these days than the usual 10 songs an album? Shania Twain
reigns in Up!, of course, with two CDs of 19 cuts each. But Tim McGraw has 15 in Tim McGraw and the
Dance Hall Doctors, Faith Hill 14 in Cry
and Alan Jackson 13 in Drive.
Back in the mid-'80s, just as vinyl was melting into history, RCA Records introduced -- to universal gasps of disbelief --
the nine-cut album. That configuration soon followed vinyl out the door.
Mindy McCready Moves
Capitol Records is absent another "calendar chick." Tom Becci, the label's senior vice president of finance
and operations, confirms that Mindy McCready is now off the label. Earlier this year,
Capitol released McCready's self-titled album, but it failed to enchant the general ear. The same cannot be said, however,
of Capitol's 2001 Mindy McCready calendar, the August page of which set off a sustained buzz on the question, "Is she or ain't
she nude?" Cyndi Thomson, who quit Capitol and recording altogether, was the star
of a gorgeous 2002 calendar, which, to our common sorrow, remained current longer than she did. A spokesman for McCready's
management agency says she has not yet found another label.
In the Category "Best Performance by
an Accountant ..."
Clear your schedule and prepare to call in sick. Grammy nominees will be announced in Nashville,
New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere throughout our fabled realm on the morning of Jan. 7. The torrent of promotional mailings
sure to follow these disclosures should keep the U. S. Postal Service in the black until the CMA contenders are revealed.
Well, If You Must Know ...
To the reader who asked if Wade Hayes
is still married and still looking for a new record deal, Hayes' manager, Kenny Rothlisberger, answers, "Yes and yes." Currently,
the Oklahoma-born singer is traveling the country with Daryle Singletary and Rhett Akins on the Honky Tonk Tailgate tour.
Publicist Will Help
Manage Ronnie McDowell, Tyler Dean
Susan Collier has been named assistant manager of Curb Record artists Ronnie McDowell and Tyler Dean. McDowell is currently promoting his album Ronnie
McDowell With Bill Pinkey's Original Drifters and touring with that legendary vocal group. Dean is McDowell's 12-year-old
son. He is signed to Curb as a pop act and is scheduled to have a single and album out during the first quarter of next year.
A longtime Music Row publicist, Collier was appointed to her new post by talent manager Wayne Fricks, who will continue to
oversee McDowell's and Dean's careers. Collier will keep her current publicity clients.
at the Gaylord
With a bottle of water costing roughly as much as a lawn tractor, you can't expect many bargains
when you attend a concert at Nashville's Gaylord Entertainment Center. But there's one bonus you can always count on -- hearing
lots of great old country records while you're waiting for the show to start. During recent sojourns there to review George
Strait and Alan Jackson, I decompressed to such seldom-played gems as Red Foley's "Tennessee
Saturday Night," Floyd Tillman's "Drivin' Nails in My Coffin" and Mel Street's "Smokey Mountain Memories" and "Borrowed Angel." Ah, such sweet nostalgia! If I'd been anywhere
else, I'd have bought myself a beer.
Got news? Tell us about it. You can contact me at HotTalk@cmt.com.