TOP COUNTRY AWARDS: The Academy of Country Music organization and the Country Music Association awarded the following:
• Entertainer of the Year: Blake Shelton (CMA), Taylor Swift (ACM).
• Best Album: Chief by Eric Church (CMA), Four The Record by Miranda Lambert (ACM).
• Best Single: Pontoon by Little Big Town (CMA), Don’t You Wanna Stay by Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson (ACM).
• Best Male Performer: Blake Shelton (CMA, ACM).
• Best Female Performer: Miranda Lambert (CMA, ACM).
• Best Group: Little Big Town (CMA), Lady Antebellum (ACM).
• Best Duo: Thompson Square (CMA, ACM).
• Best New Artist: Hunter Hayes (CMA), Scotty McCreery (ACM).
GRAMMY AWARD WINNERS:
• Country Solo Performance: Mean, Taylor Swift.
• Country Album: Own the Night, Lady Antebellum.
• Country Performance by a Duo or Group: Barton Hollow, The Civil Wars.
• Country Song: Mean, Taylor Swift.
• Bluegrass Album: Paper Airplane, Alison Krauss & Union Station.
• Americana Album: Ramble at the Ryman, Levon Helm.
CMA HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES: Piano player Hargus “Pig” Robbins, Grand Ole Opry star Connie Smith, country music superstar Garth Brooks.
FAREWELL TO THE STARS: Joe South died Feb. 28 at 72; Earl Scruggs, March 28 at 88; George “Goober” Lindsey, May 6 at 83; Doc Watson, May 29 at 89; Andy Griffith, July 3 at 86; Kitty Wells, July 16 at 92; and Rollin “Oscar” Sullivan (half of Lonzo & Oscar), Sept. 7 at 93.
LOCALLY-CONNECTED DEATHS: Former Augustans beach music legend Billy Scott (formerly of The Georgia Prophets), Nov. 17 at age 70; bluegrass music pioneer female vocalist and band leader Betty Fisher, July 7, at 76.
• Former North Augustan Carey Murdock performed 17 shows in six European countries in July;
• Current Augusta-area resident Sharon Jones was in Europe at the same time; sang Happy Birthday to Tom Cruise at his Friar’s Club roast in New York; performed with John Legend in The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., with First Lady Michele Obama coming backstage to congratulate her afterward; and filmed roles in two movies due out in January (Queen City and The Wolf of Wall Street);
• Daniel Johnson, of Thomson, Ga., became one of 12 semifinalists as Male Artist of the Year on www.georgia-country.com out of about 60 nominees from all over Georgia. The winner was Cole Taylor of Cuthbert.
GREAT LOCAL COUNTRY TRADITIONS CONTINUED: Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival, Aiken Bluegrass Festival, WKXC-FM Guitar Pull, A Day in the Country festival, Eryn Eubanks & the Family Fold Music Festival, Morris Museum of Art’s Budweiser True Music Southern Song & Soul Series.
BEST NEW AUGUSTA FESTIVAL: Oka’Chaffa Indian Festival created by former Augusta Mayor Bob Young, now president and chief executive officer of the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy at Phinizy Swamp, with nature expert Okefenokee Joe and Native American culturist Chippa Wolfe to attract more visitors to Augusta’s natural treasure.
HIGHS AND LOWS:
• Reba McEntire returned to television starring in the ABC comedy Malibu Country.
• The ABC network also, after much hype, began airing its series Nashville, which I stopped watching after the second show. It’s absolutely nothing like the real Nashville, Tenn., or its music community except maybe for the sex, back-stabbing record company executives and country songs. The 1975 Robert Altman-directed movie Nashville probably comes closest to realistically depicting Music City U.S.A.
• Randy Travis continued making news for the wrong reasons, including a drunken driving incident where Travis was found sitting naked outside his wrecked vehicle.
• George Jones and George Strait both announced their “farewell” tours with Jones planning 60 cities and Strait stretching his goodbye concerts into 2014.
• Wynonna Judd’s husband Scott “Cactus” Moser, drummer for the country group Highway 101, was in a motorcycle crash in South Dakota that cost him a leg. Augusta cutting horse fans know him as a former celebrity cutter in the Augusta Futurity, which, by the way, returns in a couple weeks.
Here’s wishing all of y’all lots of good health and good musical times in 2013.