Country music icon Alan Jackson surprised guests at the opening of a Nashville restaurant by playing an unannounced gig on Wednesday night (10Sep14). The Grammy winner was a primary investor in Tennessee venue Acme Feed & Seed's multi-million dollar renovations, and to celebrate the grand opening of the restaurant and live music club, Jackson took to the stage to perform.
He told the stunned crowd, "Thank y'all for letting me crash your party! I've loved (neighbourhood) Lower Broadway since I first came to Nashville and it was still a little bit shady. This is a much nicer place than I used to play down here back in the day."
Jackson then played his hits Don't Rock the Jukebox, Good Time, and It's Five O'Clock Somewhere, and even a brief cover of Merle Haggard's Back to the Barrooms Again.
Jackson's involvement with the venue stems from his love of "old things," as Acme Feed and Seed is a century-old brick Victorian building in the heart of Nashville.
He tells People magazine, "I love old things. I love old cars, old boats, old music and old buildings. I've always loved that building, since back when it was still a farm store. It was sad to see it empty so I am proud to be a part of this."
Hugh Jackman, Whoopi Goldberg, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kelly Osbourne were among the stars who mourned the death of legendary comedienne Joan Rivers at her funeral in New York on Sunday (07Sep14). Record mogul Clive Davis, actors Matthew Broderick, Rosie O'Donnell, Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth and Bernadette Peters, funnywoman Kathy Griffin, fashion designers Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera and Michael Kors, property mogul Donald Trump and newswomen Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer also turned out to pay their final respects to Rivers, who was remembered in a private ceremony at the Temple Emanu-El synagogue, where she was a member.
Hundreds of fans lined the streets outside the temple as inside, U.S. shockjock Howard Stern delivered a touching eulogy to the comedic icon, crediting her with fighting "the stereotype that women couldn't be funny".
He even managed to raise a few laughs from guests by quipping, "(Rivers was) the best friend in the world... a big sister... a crazy aunt at a bar mitzvah."
Broadway star Audra McDonald performed Nat King Cole classic Smile, before additional tributes from news anchor Deborah Norville, New York Post columnist Cindy Adams and Rivers' only child, daughter Melissa, who thanked everyone for their condolences, saying, "We are humbled."
X-Men star Hugh Jackman helped to bring the ceremony to a close, honouring Rivers' memory with a rendition of Peter Allen song, Quiet Please, There's a Lady on Stage, which features the repeated lyrics, "Put your hands together", while a band of bagpipe players performed as mourners filed out of the temple.
Rivers died on Thursday (04Sep14), a week after suffering a cardiac and respiratory arrest during a routine throat operation.
The exact cause of death is still under investigation after an initial autopsy proved inconclusive.
The 81 year old's body had been cremated on Saturday (06Sep14), ahead of Sunday's funeral service.
Reports suggest she will be laid to rest at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California, where fellow late icons Michael Jackson, Clark Gable and Walt Disney are also interred.
Rivers' publicist has asked for donations to be made to her favourite charities, meal delivery service God's Love, We Deliver, Guide Dogs for the Blind and California grief support centre Our House, in lieu of flowers.
Country music icon Alan Jackson is lending some of his most personal artefacts to the Country Music Hall of Fame for a special exhibit celebrating his 25-year career. The Grammy winner's most notable items will be featured in Alan Jackson: 25 Years of Keepin' It Country at the country music Mecca in Nashville, Tennessee.
Beginning 29 August (14), fans will be able to visit the exhibition chronicling his rise to fame, and view items such as his handwritten lyrics to hits Livin' on Love and Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning), and various awards he's won throughout the years.
Also on display will be the Harley-Davidson motorcycle featured on the cover of Jackson's A Lot About Livin' (And a Little 'Bout Love) album, the water ski from the Chattahoochee music video, and his childhood bicycle.
In addition, Jackson was also named the Country Music Hall of Fame's Artist-in-Residence for 2014. With the honour, he will perform a number of intimate concerts for fans this autumn (14).
Musicians such as Kenny Rogers, Vince Gill and Kris Kristofferson have previously been named the Hall of Fame's Artist-in-Residence.
This will mark the first time an Artist-in-Residence has a corresponding special exhibition at the museum.
Country music legend George Strait wrapped up his performing career on a real high in Texas on Saturday (07Jun14) by setting a new indoor concert attendance record. Over 104,700 fans showed up at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington to witness the final show of Strait's The Cowboy Rides Away Tour, helping him steal the record from the Rolling Stones.
Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney and Vince Gill joined the singer onstage for his last hurrah.
Strait wrapped up the show by telling fans, "This has been such a special evening for me. Thank you for all the years of support."
Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan were crowned the kings of the 2014 CMT Music Awards after they each took home two trophies at the TV network's annual prizegiving on Wednesday (05Jun14). Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard earned prizes for Duo Video of the Year as well as Collaborative Video of the Year for This is How We Roll featuring Bryan.
The Drunk On You hitmaker landed a second award, CMT Performance of the Year, for a separate duet with Lionel Richie thanks to their Oh No/All Night Long set from the 2012 CMT Artists of the Year TV special.
The trio dominated the show at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee from the start of the ceremony, when they were joined by ZZ Top and R&B star Jason Derulo to sing and dance to a mash-up of his song Talk Dirty and Florida Georgia Line's This is How We Roll to kick off the programme.
It was also a big night for Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, and Miranda Lambert, who won the Video of the Year, Male Video of the Year and Female Video of the Year, respectively. This is the second year in a row in which the trio has taken the top honours.
The ceremony, which was hosted by three-time emcee Kristen Bell, also included sets from Keith Urban, Hunter Hayes, Dierks Bentley, Jake Owen, Lady Antebellum and Little Big Town.
John Legend sang a special version of his hit All of Me arranged by Hunter Hayes, while Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles joined in with vocals, and Lee Ann Womack and Kacey Musgraves took on Alan Jackson's Livin on Love just before Underwood presented him with the first-ever CMT Impact Award.
The top winners are:
Video of the Year - See You Again by Carrie Underwood
Female Video of the Year - Automatic by Miranda Lambert
Male Video of the Year - Doin' What She Likes by Blake Shelton
Group Video of the Year - Done by The Band Perry
Duo Video of the Year - Round Here by Florida Georgia Line
Breakthrough Video of the Year - Wasting All These Tears by Cassadee Pope
Collaborative Video of the Year - This is How We Roll by Florida Georgia Line featuring Luke Bryan
CMT Performance of the Year - Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie for Oh No/All Night Long from 2012 CMT Artists of the Year
CMT Impact Award - Alan Jackson
Legendary session musician Weldon Myrick has died at the age of 76. The steel guitar player, a beloved figure in country music, passed away on Monday (02Jun14) after suffering a stroke.
He was best known for his work on recordings by singer Connie Smith, and he also played steel guitar on songs by Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, and Dolly Parton.
Born in Jayton, Texas, Myrick began playing steel guitar as a young boy, and he moved to Nashville, Tennessee and began working as a session musician for country singer Bill Anderson.
He later joined Smith's backing band, but he eventually left to join the Grand Ole Opry staff band where he was a regular fixture for 32 years.
Other classic tracks Myrick performed on include Jerry Jeff Walker's Mr. Bojangles, Long Long Time by Linda Ronstadt, and Chattahoochee by Alan Jackson.
Justin Timberlake, Imagine Dragons Robin Thicke and Jennifer Lopez were among the big winners at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards on Sunday (18May14), each taking home top honours. The SexyBack hitmaker, who is currently on his world tour, emerged victorious in a total of seven categories, including Top Artist, Top Male Artist and Top Radio Songs Artist, while he also claimed the title for Top Billboard 200 Album for The 20/20 Experience.
Imagine Dragons and Robin Thicke were also multiple winners on the night, while Lorde had double the reason to celebrate as she was named Top New Artist and her hit Royals earned her the Top Rock Song prize. It was also a big night for Jennifer Lopez, who opened the Las Vegas ceremony by joining Pitbull and Claudia Leitte to perform their official 2014 FIFA World Cup soccer anthem, We Are One (Ole Ola).
She returned to the stage almost three hours later to close the show with her new song First Love as she was feted with the Icon Award by pal Ricky Martin and rapper Iggy Azalea, while video tributes from the likes of Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Cameron Diaz, Britney Spears, Rihanna and Mary J. Blige were shown on a big screen. She grew emotional as she gave thanks to her friends, family and key colleagues and she wrapped up her acceptance speech by addressing all the youngsters watching the awards on TV, telling them, "Have faith, think big, dream big and know that anything is possible. You never know where you might end up. Thank you, I love you."
Other show highlights included Ricky Martin's energetic Vida and Lorde's first TV rendition of her new single Tennis Court. There was also a pre-taped Birthday surprise from Katy Perry, who recorded a segment from her recent gig in Newcastle, England, where she plucked a real birthday girl from the audience and serenaded her onstage, for the awards show, while footage from Miley Cyrus' concert in Manchester, England last week (14May14), when she sang a cover of the Beatles' Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds with the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd, also aired.
The main list of winners at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards, presented by rapper Ludacris, is as follows:
Top Artist - Justin Timberlake
Top New Artist - Lorde
Top Male Artist - Justin Timberlake
Top Female Artist - Katy Perry
Top Duo/Group - Imagine Dragons
Top Touring Artist - Bon Jovi
Top Billboard 200 Artist - Justin Timberlake
Top Billboard 200 Album - Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience
Top Hot 100 Artist - Imagine Dragons
Top Hot 100 Song - Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams, Blurred Lines
Top Radio Songs Artist - Justin Timberlake
Top Radio Song - Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams, Blurred Lines
Top Digital Songs Artist - Katy Perry
Top Digital Song - Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams, Blurred Lines
Top Social Artist - Justin Bieber
Top Streaming Artist - Miley Cyrus
Top Streaming Song (Audio) - Imagine Dragons, Radioactive
Top Streaming Song (Video) - Miley Cyrus, Wrecking Ball
Top Christian Artist - Chris Tomlin
Top Christian Song - Matthew West, Hello, My Name Is
Top Christian Album - Alan Jackson, Precious Memories Volume II
Top Country Artist - Luke Bryan
Top Country Song - Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly, Cruise
Top Country Album - Luke Bryan, Crash My Party
Top Dance/Electronic Album - Daft Punk, Random Access Memories
Top Latin Artist - Marc Anthony
Top Latin Song - Marc Anthony, Vivir Mi Vida
Top Latin Album - Marc Anthony, 3.0
Top R&B Artist - Justin Timberlake
Top R&B Song - Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams, Blurred Lines
Top R&B Album - Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience
Top Rap Artist - Eminem
Top Rap Song - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton, Can't Hold Us
Top Rap Album - Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP 2
Top Rock Artist - Imagine Dragons
Top Rock Song - Lorde, Royals
Top Rock Album - Imagine Dragons,
Night Visions Milestone Award - Carrie Underwood
Icon Award - Jennifer Lopez.
For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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Country singer Gretchen Wilson and comedian Bill Engvall are the latest celebrities to step in as last-minute replacements to headline shows at SeaWorld in the aftermath of documentary Blackfish. Wilson and Engvall will take the stage in Orlando, Florida for the second week of SeaWorld's 2014 Bands, Brews and BBQ concert series, starting next Saturday (08Feb14).
Bosses at SeaWorld were forced to scramble to fill in spots left by nine artists, including Willie Nelson, Cheap Trick and Heart, who all cancelled their gigs at the embattled theme park after watching Blackfish, a film which exposed the bleak conditions faced by captured killer whales housed at the location.
Wilson and Engvall are following in the footsteps of Kid Rock and Alan Jackson, who kicked off the concert series last week (01Feb14).
Other replacement performers for the six-week series are expected to be announced soon.
Officials at the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have urged country singer Alan Jackson and rocker Kid Rock to reconsider their controversial weekend (01-02Feb14) gigs at SeaWorld in Florida in a bid to prove they are not "out-of-touch sellouts". The pair has signed up to headline the first Bands, Brews & BBQs shows at the Orlando themepark after artists including Willie Nelson, Cheap Trick and Heart pulled out in the wake of the hard-hitting Blackfish documentary, which exposed the questionable behind-the-scenes treatment of captured killer whales housed at the location.
Neither Jackson nor Rock have spoken out about their decisions to take on the gigs, but animal rights activists at PETA are calling on the pair to do the right thing and follow in the footsteps of their music peers.
Senior Vice President of Communications Lisa Lange tells WENN: "Blackfish has shown millions of people that complex animals such as orcas suffer when they are forced to spend their entire lives confined to tanks that, to them, are equivalent to the size of a bathtub.
"SeaWorld is offering huge sums to musicians like Alan Jackson and Kid Rock in order to distract people from its cruel business practices. Artists with integrity won't want to show their fans that they are out-of-touch sellouts."