So what kind of year was 2013 in regard to some of the major events as they pertained to country, bluegrass and related music? Here’s a look back:
TOP COUNTRY AWARDS: The Academy of Country Music organization and the Country Music Association awarded the following:
• Entertainer of the Year: George Strait (CMA), Luke Bryan (ACM)
• Best Album: Based On A True Story by Blake Shelton (CMA), Chief by Eric Church (ACM)
• Best Single: Cruise by Florida Georgia Line (CMA), Over You by Miranda Lambert (ACM)
• Best Male Performer: Blake Shelton (CMA), Jason Aldean (ACM)
• Best Female Performer: Miranda Lambert (CMA, ACM)
• Best Group: Little Big Town (CMA, ACM)
• Best Duo: Florida Georgia Line (CMA), Thompson Square (ACM)
• Best New Artist: Kacey Musgraves (CMA), Florida Georgia Line (ACM)
• Song of the Year: (awarded to songwriters):
I Drive Your Truck composed by Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary (CMA), Over You by Miranda Lambert (ACM)
GRAMMY AWARD WINNERS:
• Country Solo Performance: Blown Away by Carrie Underwood
• Country Album: Uncaged by Zac Brown Band
• Country Performance by a Duo or Group: Pontoon by Little Big Town
• Country Song: Blown Away by Carrie Underwood
• Bluegrass Album: Nobody Knows You by Steep Canyon Rangers
• Americana Album: Slipsteram by Bonnie Raitt
COUNTRY MUSIC ASSOCIATION HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES: Bobby Bare, “Cowboy” Jack Clement and Kenny Rogers
• Lady Antebellum, consisting of local guys Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood and Nashville-reared Hillary Scott, released its fourth studio album, Golden, in May. Like their others, it went to No. 1.
• Former North Augustan Carey Murdock performed 61 shows in nine European countries in three months and performed at The Bluebird in Nashville, Tenn., and the Bitter End in New York City and for a second time at the A Day in the Country festival in Augusta.
• Augusta-area resident Sharon Jones had a rough year fighting cancer but ended it amazingly riding on the Delta Airlines float with her band, The Dap Kings, in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. She also was filmed by a New York City crew for a VH1 documentary, saw the release of two animated videos Retreat and Ain’t No Chimneys in the Ghetto and singing her version of Goldfinger on The Wolf of Wall Street soundtrack.
GREAT TRADITIONS CONTINUE: Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival, Aiken Bluegrass Festival, WKXC-FM Guitar Pull, A Day in the Country festival, Jeff & Sheri Easter’s Homecoming Gospel Music Festival, Eryn Eubanks & the Family Fold Music Festival and the Morris Museum of Art’s Budweiser True Music Southern Song & Soul Series all delighted country, bluegrass and gospel music fans.
The Oka’Chaffa Indian Festival returned to Phinizy Swamp organized and sponsored by the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy.
The Little Roy & Lizzy Music Festival was started by Little Roy Lewis and his musical partner, Lizzy Long, near Lincolnton, Ga., at Elijah Clark State Park where The Lewis Family’s Homecoming & Bluegrass Music Festival was held for many years.
HIGHS AND LOWS:
• The McDuffie Museum in Thomson, Ga., landed the touring Smithsonian Institute exhibit New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music that was put together by Robert Santelli of the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.
• Little Roy Lewis and Polly Lewis Copsey were inducted into the Gospel Music Association’s Hall of Fame at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
• Augusta Players veteran Sutton Foster, who has starred in several Broadway plays, was among those paying tribute to superstar Shirley McClaine at the 2013 Kennedy Center honors a few days ago on national TV.
• George Strait supposedly is doing his last tour. The closest announced date is Philips Arena in Atlanta on March 22. His Web site notes that Strait “will continue to record new music and play select dates around the country following the completion of the tour. The Cowboy Rides Away Tour will offer fans a final opportunity to see Strait’s live show filled with hits from throughout his remarkable career, including many of his 60 No. 1 hits (more than any other artist in any genre).”
FAREWELL TO THE STARS: Oklahoma-born Patti Page, Jan. 1 at 85; singer-songwriter Mike Stewart, Jan. 18 at 63; Mindy McCready, Feb. 17 at 37; Claude King, March 7 at 90; Jack Greene, March 14 at 83; Gordon Stoker of The Jordanaires, March 27 at 88.
George Beverly Shea, April 16 at 104; George Jones, April 26 at 81; Slim Whitman, June 19, at 90; Bobby “Blue” Bland, June 23, at 83; hit producer and star discover Jim Foglesong, July 9, at 90; actress Karen Black (known for her roles in the country movies Nashville and Five Easy Pieces), Aug. 8 at 74.
“Cowboy” Jack Clement, Aug. 8, at 82; Tompall Glaser, Aug. 13, at 79; Marvin Rainwater, Sept. 17, at 88; Ramblin’ Tommy Scott, Sept. 30, at 96; Cal Smith, Oct. 10, at 81; and Ray Price, Dec. 16, at 87.
THINKING ABOUT ANNETTE: Original Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer Annette Funicello died April 8 at age 70.
In February 1984, I got to interview her about a country music album she had recorded in Nashville called The Annette Funicello Country Album.
“I grew up listening to country music,” she told me. “My parents, Joe and Virginia Funicello, especially liked the western swing of Bob Wills and Spade Cooley. They used to go to the Aragon Ballroom in Los Angeles to hear Spade Cooley.
“I love country music because of its simplicity. There are not any big messages. You don’t have to pound your head after hearing a country song and wonder if you missed something.”