» Zac's Ground Jewel: Perfect weather and a picture perfect backdrop – city landmarks, the Cumberland River and a colorfully lit Ferris wheel – helped the Zac Brown Band's Southern Ground Music & Food Festivalin Nashville set a high bar (9/27-28). From food prepared by name chefs, onstage seating and displays of original art and other custom Southern Ground wares to unique musical performers and collaborations, the event was designed to be savored. Meticulous attention to detail underscored everything.
Beyond stand-alone sets from a score of artists including Eli Young Band, Willie Nelson and Grace Potter, ZBB sets were similar each night, opening with "Jump Right In" and closing with "Uncaged" and a double-time "Devil Went Down To Georgia." The guests varied, however, with Kenny Rogers, Jason Mraz and Kenny Chesney on Friday and Clare Bowen, Kacey Musgraves and John Fogerty on Saturday. Fun covers over the two nights included TLC's "Waterfalls," Paul Simon's "Slip Slidin' Away" and Metallica's "Enter Sandman." Ultimately, the festival's evident care extended to the very end as concertgoers filed out past an enormous banner that read, "Thank you, Nashville."
» Signed, SEALed, Delivered:Keith Urban donated $300,000 in royalties from his single "For You" to the Navy SEAL Foundation Saturday night (9/28) before his show in San Diego. Funds from the song, written for the Act Of Valor movie soundtrack, help Navy SEALs and their families with support, education, legacy preservation and tragedy assistance. "I have a deep appreciation for the special bond that all of these families feel towards each other and for the commitment that they have made to all of us," says Urban. "The NSF reminds us to acknowledge the importance and sacrifice that is made each and every day by those serving 'down range,' as well as their loving families."
» Paint The Towns Red:Taylor Swift will bring The Red Tour to the U.K. for three dates in 2014. Tickets go on sale Friday (10/4) for the Feb. 1, 2 and 4 shows at London's O2 Arena. More here. In the meantime, Swift will join Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, Brenton Thwaites, Katie Holmes and more in The Weinstein Company's film adaptation of Lois Lowry's young adult novel The Giver. Principle photography begins July 7 in Cape Town, South Africa. The film is set for release Aug. 15, 2014.
» Foxy Ladies: It had to happen, and if anyone was going to do it, you'd figure it would be someone like Gwen Sebastian, whose post-The Voice career has included spending a lot of time on tour with coach Blake Shelton. Evidently, the sense of humor is rubbing off as she is now fronting a bluegrass send-up of Ylvis' viral hit "The Fox," supported by Rebecca Lynn Howard and Jenee Fleenor. Apparently, out in the country, the fox says, "Hi-dee, hi-dee, hi-dee-ho." Sebastian's version will be available on iTunes soon. Watch here.
» Not The Only One Who Wants To Have Fun:Luke Bryan and Brett Eldredge have been added to the lineup for Dierks Bentley's Nov. 3 Miles & Music For Kids motorcycle ride and concert in Nashville. They join Jake Owen and Easton Corbin for the show, which benefits Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital At Vanderbilt. Details here.
The Feb. 8 Los Angeles date of George Strait's The Cowboy Rides Away Tour sold out in nine minutes Friday (9/27), according to his publicist. The Staples Center show was the first to go on sale from the tour's final leg, which opens Jan. 17 in Omaha. More here.
Condolences to Sammy Kershaw, whose brother Minos Cashat, Jr. passed away Friday afternoon (9/27). "The world lost a good-hearted guy today," Kershaw posted on Facebook. "But heaven gained an awesome soul." The funeral service was Monday morning (9/30).
Heidi Newfield (10/4) Sarah Darling (10/4)
Wednesday (10/2): Chris Young, The Ellen Degeneres Show (syndicated); Kenny Rogers, Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC).
Thursday (10/3): Billy Ray Cyrus, The Arsenio Hall Show (syndicated); Keith Urban, The Ellen Degeneres Show (syndicated).
Friday (10/4): Cassadee Pope, Cassadee Pope: Frame By Frame (CMT).
This Week's Album Releases
Tyler FarrRedneck Crazy (Columbia)
"The album is who I am," says Farr. "I try to write songs that I've lived and record songs I believe in." Produced by Jim Catino and Julian King, 11 songs based on first-hand experience include the title track, as well as, "Ain't Even Drinkin'" and "Makes You Wanna Drink."
Colt FordRide Through The Country Revisited (Average Joes)
Produced by Shannon "Fat Shan" Houchins and Noah Gordon, the album features updated and original versions of songs from Ford's debut album. Highlights include "Waffle House" featuring John Anderson, and Ronnie Dunn on "Mr. Goodtime."
Upcoming Album Releases
RogersYou Can't Make Old Friends (10/8)
Chase RiceReady Set Roll (10/15)
Will Hoge Never Give In (10/15)
Robertson Family Duck The Halls (10/29)
Trace Adklns The King's Gift (10/29)
Thomas RhettIt Goes Like This (10/29)
George Ducas4340 (10/29)
Jake Owen Days Of Gold (12/3)
» Let Him Eat Cake:Ryan Seacrest feeds "Little Bit Of Everything" singer and American Idol judge Keith Urban a little bit of cake to celebrate the simultaneous No. 1 debut of his new album Fuse in the U.S., Canada and Australia. Fellow judges Harry Connick, Jr. and Jennifer Lopez hope for the same treatment. Watch part of the party here.