2010 Rewind: No. 1 — Nashville Floods, And Digs Out

It rained. And rained. And rained some more. Nashville took in over 13 inches of water in a 48-hour period in May, and some areas of the region were swamped with as much as 20 inches. It was more than the rivers and streams could handle, and by May 3, the drainage system was overflowing. The stage and much of the floor seating at the Grand Ole Opry House was covered, water seeped into one room at the Country Music Hall of Fame, LP Field — the site of the CMA Music Festival — became a swamp, and an instrument storage unit was drowned, destroying guitars and equipment owned by Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Toby Keith and Vince Gill, among others. It took a while for people to notice outside of Middle Tennessee. The focus of the major news organizations at the time was on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. So Music City rolled up its sleeves and started digging out on its own. The Nashville flood is No. 1 on the list as GAC concludes its countdown of the top country news stories of 2010. Read More

Brad Paisley Lives Beyond His Dreams

From the day Brad Paisley signed his first recording contract more than 10 years ago, he had a plan. He knew how he wanted his first album to introduce him, the kinds of talents and lyrical themes he wanted to unveil on the second and even a bit of how the third project should go. Plans change, of course, and Brad’s planned and adjusted repeatedly through the years, finally finding himself at the top of the country music heap in 2010. He won the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year award after being nominated six straight years. But it wasn’t the only highlight of the last 12 months for Brad. He put out his first greatest-hits album, he was the first musical guest when Jay Leno resumed his place as the host of “The Tonight Show,” and he got a personal phone call from President Barack Obama with words of encouragement for the city of Nashville in the wake of the floods in May. If that weren’t enough, Brad played for an estimated 65,000 people in boats during an AquaPalooza concert at Lake Travis in Texas. And he headlined a sold-out stadium for the first time, playing Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., with Jason Aldean, Darius Rucker, Sara Evans and Easton Corbin. All of that planning he did in the beginning? Well, Brad’s way beyond any of his expectations. Read More

He’s 90! Little Jimmy Dickens Just Keeps On Tickin’

He’s the oldest current member of the Grand Ole Opry, someone the other members look up to — even if they have to look down to do it. Little Jimmy Dickens, all 4’-11” of him, turns 90 on Sunday, and some of his music industry friends have a party cooked up for him this weekend to celebrate. And he’s got plenty of friends. Randy Houser was thrilled to make the introductory speech last month when the Music City Walk of Fame inducted “Tater,” a nickname Jimmy picked up from Hank Williams for his first hit, “Take An Old cold ‘Tater (And Wait).” Fellow West Virginian Brad Paisley has repeatedly employed Little Jimmy in his videos and plopped him onto his albums in comedic tracks. And that’s just a start on the list. But Little Jimmy’s always been a friend of his fellow Opry members. He used to walk across the alley between the Ryman Auditorium and Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge with Hank. And he got his shot at the Opry and his first recording contract when he was championed by Roy Acuff, who was considered the King of Country Music. Read More

Jimmy Dean, Don Williams Join Hall of Fame

Don Williams and Jimmy Dean, two vocalists who approached their public presence from very different angles, were officially inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame Sunday night in front of family, friends and a rather elite set of peers. A singer, comic and television pioneer, Jimmy built his career as a multi-faceted entertainer. Don worked several detail-oriented jobs before his breakthrough — he was a co-partner in a furniture store and an office administrator — and he made his public mark in a workman-like manner, eschewing the party circuit and putting his efforts into finding and delivering well-constructed songs. Neither singer was able to claim his medallion in person. Jimmy died in June, just a few months after he was told in a phone call that he would have a bronze plaque enshrined with his likeness in the Hall of Fame’s Rotunda alongside such fellow performers as Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Jimmy’s childhood idol, Gene Autry. Read More

Brad Paisley, Little Jimmy Dickens Bring Opry House Full Circle

It’s a six-foot piece of circular wood, scuffed and nicked and grooved, but it’s a monumental symbol. Brad Paisley and Little Jimmy Dickens joined four construction workers Wednesday in installing a major piece of oak into the center of the stage at the Grand Ole Opry House. The moment was captured by a herd of reporters and photographers as Nashville continues its recovery from a devastating flood in early May. At that time, water from the Cumberland River swamped the historic venue, piling 46 inches of liquid on top of the stage. The waters were so significant that mud was hurled onto the ceiling and Opry VP and general manager Pete Fisher literally floated a kayak through the house. Dirt and construction dust still litter the grounds around the Opry House, but the placement of the circle back onto the stage was a hardy symbol for the restoration of the Opry and its history. The circle was cut from the floor of the Ryman Auditorium and installed at the Opry House when it opened in 1974, providing a physical link between current generations of Opry members and some of the late performers who stood behind the mic stand on that same wood — people like Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Roy Acuff and Marty Robbins. It was damaged during May’s floods, but not so much that it couldn’t be repaired. Its resilience embodies as well as ever the durability of the Opry and its legend. Read More