COUNTRY BEAT: Garth Brooks, Webb Pierce, Cecil Null …

Brooks to reveal album plans; Pierce tribute album scheduled; songwriter Cecil Null dies.

Garth Brooks has scheduled a September 17 press conference at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville to talk about his duet with George Jones, “Beer Run (B Double E Double Are You In?),” and his upcoming album. A Brooks spokesperson hinted the song will be delivered to country radio the same day. Brooks announced his retirement last year but promised one more record. The new track will appear on the album, his first collection of new studio recordings in four years (following 1997′s Sevens). “Beer Run” also is slated to appear on Jones’ upcoming CD, The Rock, now scheduled for October 2 release. …

Gail Davies says her labor of love — an album honoring the late Webb Pierce — is nearing completion and slotted for November 13 release. Profits will be split between the Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Caught in the Webb: A Tribute to the Legendary Webb Pierce includes cuts by Dale Watson, Mandy Barnett, Charley Pride, Rosie Flores, George Jones, Emmylou Harris, Robbie Fulks & Joy Lynn White, Allison Moorer, Matt King, Crystal Gayle, the Del McCoury Band, Lionel Cartwright, Guy Clark, BR549, Trent Summar & Chris Scruggs, Kevin Welch & Deborah Pierce, Billy Walker, Blue Highway and Pam Tillis. Pierce will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in October. …

Songwriter/performer Cecil Null, 74, died of cancer Sunday (August 26) in Bristol, Virginia. Null’s most famous composition is “I Forgot More Than You’ll Ever Know,” a #1 hit in 1953 for the Davis Sisters. He was credited as the guiding force in uniting Chet Atkins and Merle Travis for their Grammy-winning 1974 album, The Atkins-Travis Traveling Show. Null wrote “I Forgot More Than You’ll Ever Know” in 1947. “It was turned down by nearly everybody in the business,” he once said. Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette covered the song on their 1993 album, Honky Tonk Angels. …

Billy Joe Shaver faces quadruple bypass surgery after suffering a heart attack following an August 25 performance in Gruene, Texas’ Gruene Hall. According to a spokesperson for the singer-songwriter, Shaver was stricken backstage, felt better and returned home. On Monday, he was admitted to a Waco, Texas, hospital where he will undergo surgery Friday. His early-September concert dates have been canceled. Shaver’s son, wife and mother have died within the past few years. …

With the four additional 2001 CMA Award nominations he received, Alan Jackson moves past Vince Gill in the career-nominations tally. Jackson now has 50, according to the CMA, while Gill, who received none this year, has 48. George Strait, with two nods this year, remains king with 66. Jackson has a long way to go to catch Gill in awards won, however. Gill rules that roost with 18 career honors, Strait follows with 14 and Jackson is well back in the pack with seven. …

“Annie Get Your Gun” — minus star Reba McEntire — has lost its bullets. The musical revival, which catapulted McEntire to Broadway stardom in her title role earlier this year, will close after its Saturday performance. Producers said they’d failed to find a suitable box-office draw for the title role. Crystal Bernard had filled in for the summer after McEntire left the show. Dolly Parton turned the part down, according to the New York Post.

Merle Haggard‘s next album, Roots, Vol. 1, features his hero, guitarist Norm Stephens, who played on a number of Lefty Frizzell recordings including “If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time” and “I Love You a Thousand Ways.” Stephens has been retired from music for years, and Haggard recently discovered that they have long lived near each other in California. Haggard’s pianist, Doug Colosio, noticed a classified ad Stephens placed in a local paper and called it to his boss’ attention. After they reunited, they cut some songs. Recorded in Haggard’s home, the album features Stephens with Haggard’s band, the Strangers, romping through three new Haggard originals and songs by Frizzell, Hank Williams and Hank Thompson. Anti/Epitaph Records releases the LP November 9. …

Lee Ann Womack has recorded a duet with Willie Nelson for his upcoming CD The Great Divide. They recorded the Bernie Taupin composition “Mendocino County Line.” Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, Rob Thomas and Kid Rock will also appear on the album, which was originally scheduled for a late September release, now moved to January. …

Charley Pride, Alan Jackson, Vince Gill and Steve Wariner will be among country artists taking part in the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon on September 2 and 3. …

A large crowd of music industry executives and artists crowded into the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Ford Theater Wednesday for a preview of “Reba.” The new TV sitcom, starring Reba McEntire, debuts September 14 on the WB TV network. At the party, MCA Nashville president Tony Brown said the company will release McEntire’s Greatest Hits Volume III: I’m a Survivor on October 23. The title track is also her sitcom theme and is now charting country. The album also includes a remake of Kenny Rogers‘ 1977 hit “Sweet Music Man,” produced by Alison Krauss and featuring members of Union Station, drummer Jim Keltner
and Chris Thile of Nickel Creek. Among those attending McEntire gala were Barbara Mandrell and Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn, as well as Martina McBride and newcomer Carolyn Dawn Johnson, both part of McEntire’s support cast for the recent Girls’ Night Out tour. McEntire donated seven costumes from her starring role in Broadway’s “Annie Get Your Gun” to the Hall of Fame. The gesture, she said, tied together the worlds of Broadway and country music. The fringed leather outfit from the show’s finale was on display during the party. “I want my fans to be able to see what I’ve gotten to do on Broadway by bringing a piece of it back to Nashville,” McEntire said. “I’m bringing ‘em home. This is the greatest place to display it, and I’m very proud to have some things here in the Hall of Fame”. …

Wynonna will marry her longtime security guard and road manager, D. R. Roach. Both have been married once before. Wynonna has two children, Elijah and Grace. Roach has one, Zachary. No date has been set. According to a news release announcing the couple’s engagement, the proposal came on the second anniversary of their first date. Wynonna is at work on a new solo album, to be promoted by Universal Records New York. Plans are to release it in the first half of 2002. …

George Strait plans to return to the biggest annual musical event in Texas, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The singer, who last played the rodeo four years ago, has agreed to headline the March 3, 2002 concert, which will be the last such performance in the Reliant Astrodome. Strait has also signed to play the first rodeo
performance in the Astrodome’s successor, the new Reliant Stadium, in 2003. The 2002 rodeo and concert series runs from February 12 to March 3. Country and pop artists perform daily. …

Almost 18 months after it was announced, construction has yet to begin on a new Gilley’s honky-tonk in Dallas. The new club is intended to be an upscale re-creation of the Pasadena, Texas, club that inspired the movie “Urban Cowboy.” The new site, on 10 acres in downtown Dallas, is still awaiting city approval. Plans call for corporate suites, a large dance floor, several restaurants, two mechanical bulls, displays of country music memorabilia and a drive-in movie. The old Gilley’s burned to the ground several years ago. …

Trisha Yearwood will play Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium October 14. The date was added recently to her 2001 tour, which began in June at the House of Blues in New Orleans and continues through October 21, when she plays Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The Ryman has special significance for Yearwood. Aside from its country music connections, she was married onstage there, and in 1999, when the Grand Ole Opry returned to the Ryman, she was invited to become a member of the cast. …

Singer/songwriter Bobby Bare and wife Jeannie will sell the Bobby Bare Trap, a shop in downtown Nashville specializing in stuffed animals and bear-related gifts. “Bobby’s not retiring, slowing down some, but I am,” said Jeannie Bare, who manages the shop. “I want to spend more time with my husband and children and my friends. I’ll always love teddy bears.” The Bares have had the Bare Trap since 1986. The store is home to “Big T,” a 10-foot-wide, 10-foot-high creature purported to be the world’s largest teddy bear. …

“Red Desert Sky,” the story of Australia’s musical Chambers family, will be released October 5 by Allen & Unwin, Ltd. The family — father Bill, mother Diane, daughter Kasey and son Nash — performed as the Dead Ringer Band. The band’s U.S. manager, John Lomax III, who now manages Kasey as a solo act, wrote the book. Kasey Chambers has recently been in the U.S. to promote her award-winning album, The Captain, which made its debut in 1999. In October, Warner Bros. Records will release her second solo album, Barricades & Brickwalls, in the U.S. Nash Chambers produced both projects. “Red Desert Sky” is not being published in the U.S. but will be available through Allen & Unwin’s Web site and from Amazon.com. …

John Carter Cash, son of June Carter and Johnny Cash, has produced two new tracks for an album by the San Diego alternative country outfit known as The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash. Led by Mark Stuart, the group recorded the tracks at the Cash Cabin studio in Hendersonville, Tennessee, north of Nashville. “Nowhere Town” and “Spanish Eyes” will appear on a re-release of the group’s 2000 release, Walk Alone. The younger Cash met the band in March at Nashville’s Exit/In. His father, country’s famed Man in Black, has given the group permission to use his name. “My father has always been open-minded, and he chose the right stars to use his name,” said John Carter Cash in a statement. “The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash are really good guys.” The band appears Tuesday (August 21) in Bonner Springs, Kansas, and Wednesday (August 22) in Maryland Heights, Missouri, opening for Tim McGraw. Walk Alone will be released September 25. …

Marking one his first public appearances after jail time and drug rehabilitation, Steve Earle appeared at Nashville’s Bluebird Café in September 1995 to swap stories, jokes and tunes with his songwriting mentors Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. Sixteen songs from the show will be released on October 9 by Koch Progressive under the title Together at the Bluebird Café. Earle’s songs include “My Old Friend the Blues” and “Copperhead Road”; Van Zandt’s selections include “Tecumseh Valley” and “Pancho and Lefty”; and Clark’s numbers include “Dublin Blues” and “Randall Knife.” Making a surprise appearance, Emmylou Harris joined in for group sing-alongs. Van Zandt, a hard-living troubadour, died of a heart attack at age 52, a little more than a year after the show. …

Trick Pony have two nominations for Billboard Music Video Awards, and they may not be too happy about it. The new trio will compete against themselves, as both their nods are in the Best Country New Artist Clip of the Year category. Others in that division are Cyndi Thomson, Clark Family Experience and Tammy Cochran. Nominated in the Best Country Clip of the Year category are Steve Earle, the Dixie Chicks, Faith Hill, Jo Dee Messina, and Dwight Yoakam. Cochran and Billy Gilman are nominated in contemporary Christian categories. The awards will be presented November 2 in Beverly Hills, California. …

Pieces supposedly from the wreckage of Patsy Cline‘s death plane will be offered for sale on the eBay auction site. Two brothers from Jackson, Tennessee, own the pieces, ostensibly from the wreckage of Cline’s Piper Comanche, which crashed March 5, 1963, killing her and three others. Scott and Eric Mills drove the wreckage in their pickup truck to Nashville on Wednesday to show to curators at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Curator Mark Medley said the Hall of Fame will not bid on the pieces, to be offered on eBay beginning August 31 with a floor price of $100,000, but would ask any potential buyers to loan them to the Hall, which already has parts of the plane in its archives. The Mills brothers say they bought the wreckage from a man who collected it shortly after the plane crash. …

Longtime Wilco member Jay Bennett has left the group, a spokesperson for the band told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Creative differences” were cited as the reason for his split. Shortly before the news of Bennett’s departure, Wilco separated from their longtime record label, Reprise, also over creative differences. In an earlier interview, bandleader Jeff Tweedy had said that Bennett did not play a big part in the band’s latest LP, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which Reprise refused to issue in its present state. Wilco begin a fall tour in September as a quartet, with Tweedy joined by bassist John Stirrat, new drummer Glenn Kotche and multi-instrumentalist Leroy Bach. …

A PBS special featuring Toby Keith and Larry Gatlin will air at 8 p.m. ET on September 6. “In Performance at the White House: The President’s Own” pays tribute to the United States Marine Band on the occasion of the band’s 200th anniversary of performances at the White House. The performance was taped July 30 before President and Mrs. Bush in the East Room of the White House. Gatlin co-hosts the program with actor Gerald McRaney. Keith sings “Oh! Susanna” and “Heart to Heart.” Nell Carter performs “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Coming to America.” Gatlin’s selections include “God Bless America,” “This Land Is Your Land” and “Houston (Means I’m One Day Closer to You).” Keith, Carter and Gatlin join the Marine Band for a finale performance of “America the Beautiful.” …

Chicago roots rock band Wilco, favorites with alternative country fans, have split with Reprise Records after three studio albums, founding member Jeff Tweedy said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. Reprise asked Wilco to make changes to their recently completed album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and the band refused. Wilco retain rights to the album and are looking for another label to release it. Tweedy was a member of the influential early ’90s alt-country group Uncle Tupelo. Wilco will begin a fall tour September 21 at the Gypsy Tea Room in Dallas. …

Following in the footsteps of his hero, Johnny Cash, Mark Collie will record a live album in a maximum-security prison. With producer Tony Brown at the helm, Collie will record at the Brushy Mountain Correctional Complex in East Tennessee in October. Collie is writing new songs for the project, tentatively set for release next spring by MCA. Collie recorded for MCA in the early ’90s before moving to Giant. His last album of original material appeared in 1995. Cash, whom Collie has portrayed in an independent film, recorded landmark albums at Folsom and San Quentin prisons in California in the late ’60s. Collie wraps up his national tour with Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney on Aug. 25 in Nashville. “Private Radio,” a song Collie co-wrote with actor/director Billy Bob Thornton, is the title track for Thornton’s upcoming debut album, in stores September 25. …

Lonestar will undertake a fall tour of more than 30 cities, with help from new country stars Jamie O’Neal and Blake Shelton. No dates or cities have been announced, but a publicist for the group says the tour will run from October through December. O’Neal will appear on all dates, and Shelton will join the tour in November. Lonestar’s latest album, I’m Already There, debuted at #1 on Billboard‘s Top Country Albums chart. The group’s new single is “With Me.”…

The Dixie Chicks and Emmylou Harris have agreed to perform at an all-star concert to benefit a breast cancer awareness campaign. The Women Rock! Girls & Guitars concert will be taped at Los Angeles’ Wiltern Theatre on October 18 for airing on the Lifetime channel on October 26. Also performing will be India.Arie, Pat Benatar, Mary J. Blige, Nashville songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman, Nelly Furtado and Shea Seger. Allison Janney of “The West Wing” will host. Although the Dixie Chicks are taking a year off from performing and recording, they have also agreed to play a pediatric AIDS benefit in Austin, Texas, in September. …

The new album from Hank Williams Jr., The Almeira Club & Other Selected Venues, has been delayed. Originally scheduled for release September 11, the album has been pushed back to January 8, according to Williams’ publicist. The roots-oriented project was recorded in locales of personal and historic significance for Hank Jr. and his late father and mother, Hank and Audrey Williams. Meanwhile, Hank Jr. is at work in the studio, recording his “Monday Night Football” drop-ins for the upcoming season. …

After two albums on the Sony-owned Lucky Dog label, Bruce Robison will release his next CD himself. Titled Country Sunshine, the set is due September 4 on the singer’s Boar’s Nest Records. Lee Ann Womack recorded Robison’s “Lonely Too” on I Hope You Dance. Tim McGraw‘s current single, “Angry All the Time,” comes from Robison. Songs on Robison’s new album include compositions co-written by Robison with Allison Moorer, Martie Seidel of the Dixie Chicks and Robison’s wife, Kelly Willis. Tracks include “What Would Willie Do?” and “Friendless Marriage” (a Willis collaboration). Robison recorded the album at Jack Clement’s Nashville studio. …

The Dixie Chicks will interrupt their yearlong vacation from performing, playing a concert in Austin, Texas, on September 15. The invitation-only Texas Twilight Gala at the Austin Music Hall is a benefit for the Pediatric AIDS League of Texas and other pediatric AIDS programs in the state. The Chicks will perform with the Austin Symphony — their first performance with a full orchestra. Shawn Colvin and Terri Hendrix will also perform. The benefit came about after Chick Natalie Maines gave birth to her first child, and requested that donations be made to pediatric AIDS groups in lieu of baby gifts. …

Delbert McClinton will be inducted into the Buddy Holly Walk of Fame on August 29 in Lubbock, Texas. McClinton is a Lubbock native, as was Holly. The Buddy Holly Walk of Fame honors influential West Texas natives with a plaque at the base of the city’s Buddy Holly statue. At 8 p.m. that day, McClinton will perform at the induction concert at Lubbock’s Civic Center Theater. McClinton also will join fellow songwriters Terry Allen, Marshall Crenshaw, Jo Carol Pierce and the FlatlandersJoe Ely, Jimmy Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock on a panel at the Buddy Holly Symposium in Lubbock on September 6. …

Emmylou Harris has lined up a busy fall season of activist concerts. She’ll perform at a series of dates to benefit the anti-landmine movement, beginning with the September 20 Acoustic Concert for a Landmine Free World at the Warner Theater in Washington, D.C. It will also feature Steve Earle, John Prine, Nanci Griffith and Bruce Cockburn. Other concerts will be announced this fall for Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New York. Harris will also join such artists as Dave Matthews and Pearl Jam for Groundwork 2001, a series of concerts in Seattle. The shows, taking place October 14-22, will benefit the U.N.’s Food and Agricultural Organization …

Vince Gill, Kenny Chesney, Tammy Cochran and SheDaisy will be part of the first annual All Star Music Bash on October 1 at Opryland Hotel in Nashville. Like the Sizzlin’ Country event in Los Angeles every May, the All Star Music Bash will benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Also in the early lineup are Kenny Loggins, Michael W. Smith and Richard Marx. Cochran’s current single, “Angels in Waiting,” was inspired by her late brothers, whose lives were claimed by cystic fibrosis. …

In mid-September, Trisha Yearwood will launch Proctor & Gamble’s “Bring Out the Beautiful You” campaign, which benefits the Society for Women’s Health Research, for which Yearwood is spokesperson. …

Faith Hill, Brooks & Dunn and Alan Jackson are among the country artists finding good news in the latest round of gold and platinum certifications by the Recording Industry Association of America. The RIAA has certified Hill’s Breathe with shipments of 7 million copies. Two Brooks & Dunn CDs are now multiplatinum — Greatest Hits at 3 million and If You See Her at 2 million. Jackson’s Everything I Love is now at the 3 million mark. Trisha Yearwood‘s Songbook — A Collection has reached the 4 million plateau. Tracy Byrd‘s Keepers — Greatest Hits is now certified gold, as is Lonestar‘s recent release, I’m Already There. Pam TillisGreatest Hits is now platinum. And George JonesHigh Tech Redneck, which was released in 1993, finally reached the gold landmark …

Members of the Nashville bluegrass AC/DC tribute band Hayseed Dixie finally met a member of their favorite group. AC/DC bassist Cliff Williams invited the band to play a party at his place and he joined them onstage for a rendition of “Have a Drink on Me”…

Newcomer Carolyn Dawn Johnson is up for 10 Canadian Country Music Awards, including Album of the Year, Female Artist of the Year and the Rising Star Award. Her songs “Complicated” and “Georgia” are each nominated for top single, song and video. Johnson contends in the Fans’ Choice Award against Paul Brandt, Terri Clark, Jason McCoy and the Wilkinsons. Clark has six nominations and McCoy and Lisa Brokop each have five. The awards show on September 10 will be broadcast live from Calgary’s Pengrowth Saddledome on the CBC in Canada and CMT in the U.S. (MTVi’s parent company, Viacom, also owns CMT.) …

— sonicnet.com staff report