COUNTRY BEAT: Martina McBride, Merle Haggard, Mary Chapin Carpenter …

Martina McBride will sing the national anthem before Monday night’s NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins. She also performed the song on Sunday for the Dallas Cowboys-San Diego Chargers game. Tuesday night finds McBride appearing on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.” …

Mary Chapin Carpenter is performing Monday evening with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. as part of the National Memorial Concert. The concert is free, but attendees are invited to contribute to the United Way. On Friday, Carpenter will perform at the induction ceremony of Princeton University’s first woman president, Dr. Shirley M. Tilghman. …

Merle Haggard will perform at the Christian Country Music Awards November 1 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. John Berry and Crystal Gayle will host and perform and Tammy Cochran, Jeff Carson and Stella Parton will sing. The awards show is syndicated to various cable outlets. …

Martina McBride has pledged to donate $50,000 from proceeds of her new Greatest Hits album to the American Red Cross. McBride has taken an active role in Nashville activities to benefit victims of the terrorists since September 11. …

The memorial service for artist manager David Skepner has been moved from Nashville’s Belmont Mansion to the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Ford Theater at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Skepner died September 11 in Nashville. His former clients included Loretta Lynn, the Dixie Chicks and Riders in the Sky. …

Radney Foster has announced that through the end of the year he intends to give the American Red Cross a portion of the money he earns from CD and merchandise sales. Foster first linked with the Red Cross in 1999, when floods devastated his native Del Rio, Texas. “Like the rest of Americans,” Foster said, “I want to do whatever I can to help.” …

Garth Brooks won’t put out “Beer Run (B Double E Double Are You In?),” his duet with George Jones, as a single — at least not for a while. Brooks canceled a press conference that had been scheduled for Monday to tout the release of the recording. “We’re still trying to decide when it’s appropriate to move ahead, and these decisions take time,” Brooks said in a statement. “I know we’ve been told to pick up and go on as normal, but music has always been a response to the times, and I just can’t find it in my heart to feel that ‘Beer Run’ is appropriate for right now.” “Beer Run” is likely to come out first on October 2, as a track on Jones’ new CD, The Rock: Stone Cold Country 2001

The Billy Gilman/Jessica Andrews tour has been extended. Added dates begin Friday with an appearance at the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque. The teenage duo will tour together through an October 6 date at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas …

Memorial services for talent manager David Skepner will be held at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at Belmont University’s Belmont Mansion in Nashville. Skepner, who formerly managed Loretta Lynn, Dixie Chicks, Riders in the Sky and other country acts, died September 11 of a heart attack. He was an adjunct professor at Belmont’s School of Music Business for 17 years. Mourners are invited to adjourn to Jimmy Kelly’s restaurant, one of Skepner’s favorite haunts, for an informal remembrance ceremony. A music scholarship is being organized in his name …

The Concerts for a Landmine Free World scheduled for Wednesday (September 19) at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, and Thursday at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C., have been cancelled by the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation. The shows were to feature Emmylou Harris, Mary Chapin Carpenter, John Prine, Bruce Cockburn, Nanci Griffith and Steve Earle. A statement said, “In light of Tuesday’s devastating terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation has decided to cancel its landmine awareness concerts. Our organization’s focus and energies, and those of our singer/songwriters, are instead on the innocent people whose lives were taken or shattered by this week’s vicious events” …

Brenda Lee, the late Gram Parsons and Lynyrd Skynyrd are on the new Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballot. Lee is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame; Parsons influenced a generation of country artists including Emmylou
Harris
; and Travis Tritt, Alabama and Hank Williams Jr. were among country artists who paid tribute to Skynyrd on the 1994 album Skynyrd Frynds

Dolly Parton says entertainers need to stay positive during trying times. “I think everybody is dealing with this tragedy in their own kind of way, based on what they feel and what their own fears and insecurities are,” she told the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “I’m a very patriotic person, but I also know that when things are at their worst that I need to be at my best.” The terrorist attacks have stimulated Parton’s creative side, she said. “I see how everybody deals with it, and I am able to write about their emotions. It allows me a way to express [sorrow], not just for myself, but for the people who can’t put [their emotions] into words. It’s very strange and deep places where I am going.”

Alison Krauss has rescheduled her New Favorite tour with Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas. The tour was originally scheduled to kick off in Cincinnati on September 12 but was postponed after the attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. It will now begin September 28 at the Lucas Theatre in Savannah, Georgia, and will continue through November 11 in Greensburg, Pennsylvania …

Wynonna Judd got a standing ovation for her emotional rendition of “How Great Thou Art” at the Grand Ole Opry Saturday evening. It marked her debut on the Opry. After the show, Judd suggested that her recent engagement to bodyguard D.R. Roach
could last more than two years. “I’m thinking about around August or September of 2003,” she predicted as a wedding date. ” ‘Course, I may just say that just to say it. We may get married next week. Who knows?” …

Dolly Parton plans a $10 million expansion to her Dollywood theme park in east Tennessee. New features will include an interactive museum of her life. She also plans a $25 million Dixie Stampede dinner theater in Orlando, Florida …

Country artist manager David Skepner died of a heart attack Tuesday while waiting on line at a gas station in Nashville. He was 63. Skepner managed Wylie & the Wild West Show, among others, and formerly managed Loretta Lynn and Riders in the Sky. Announcement of a memorial service is pending …

Eddie Stoneman, of legendary country group the Stoneman Family, died Friday in Charles County, Maryland, after suffering an apparent cerebral hemorrhage. He was 81. The oldest child of country pioneer Ernest “Pop” Stoneman, Eddie Stoneman played banjo on his father’s 1934 session for the Vocalion label. Visitation will be Wednesday and services will be Thursday at Hunts Funeral Home in Waldorf, Maryland …

Doug Stone was erroneously listed on an early manifest of one of the downed jetliners. The singer reports he’s safe at home in Nashville with his family. …

Garth Brooks‘ press conference scheduled for Monday morning (September 17) at the Country Music Hall of Fame has been postponed. Brooks had scheduled the media event in Nashville to talk about his new single and upcoming album. His duet with George Jones, “Beer Run (B Double E Double Are You In?),” was to be released to radio Monday but has been postponed “until a more appropriate time,” according to Capitol Records. …

Brooks was one of several country artists in New York on Tuesday (September 11) and stranded there following the terrorist attacks. Mary Chapin Carpenter was in town to tape the public television show “Live 360,” which was canceled. Billy Gilman was in town for Monday’s Michael Jackson tribute concert. Brooks had been in town to tape public service announcements for the Reading Across America program and had planned to leave for Washington, D.C., to attend an ASCAP tribute show, which was canceled. A number of country artists were also stuck in Toronto until flights resumed. Ricky Skaggs, Carolyn Dawn Johnson and others had been there for Monday night’s Canadian Country Music Awards. …

Due to Tuesday’s events, the Oak Ridge Boys have postponed their celebration of the 20th anniversary of “Elvira” scheduled for Monday (September 17) at the Country Music Hall of Fame. …

Lonestar will begin their I’m Already There tour October 6 in Salisbury, Maryland’s Wicomico County Civic Center. The group will visit more than 30 cities before finishing in December. Jamie O’Neal will open a number of dates in October and November; Blake Shelton takes over opening duties in December. Announced dates include October 7 at Asheville, North Carolina’s Ingles Food Festival; October 10 at Reading, Pennsylvania’s Sovereign Center for Performing Arts; October 11 at Poughkeepsie, New York’s Mid-Hudson Civic Center; October 12 at Buffalo, New York’s Shea’s Performing Arts Center; October 18 at Albany, New York’s Palace Theater; October 19 at Norfolk, Virginia’s Naval Base; October 20 at Jacksonville, North Carolina’s New River Amphitheatre; and October 25 at Rama, Ontario’s Casino Rama. …

Alan Jackson has been named opening-day headliner at the Texas Stampede rodeo at Dallas’ American Airlines Center. Headliners include Jackson (October 25), Robert Earl Keen and Willie Nelson (October 26), Toby Keith and Sara Evans (October 27 matinee), Phil Vassar and Martina McBride (October 27 evening) and Clay Walker and Lee Ann Womack (October 28). … Connie Smith has missed a show for the first time in 27 years. The Grand Ole Opry member canceled three performances this month because her doctor directed her to rest her voice for three weeks. Smith began her recording and touring career in 1964. …

Billy Ray Cyrus underwent knee surgery Friday (September 7) in Nashville, but the operation won’t keep him off the set of “Doc,” his TV series. The singer’s knee damage stems from years of stage and sports activity, according to a spokesperson. Cyrus expects to be in Toronto on Monday to begin work on the PAX series. …

Nashville’s Broadcast Music Incorporated transformed its balcony into an outdoor Italian restaurant Thursday to welcome actor/singer Dominic Chianese. Chianese, who plays Uncle Junior in “The Sopranos” TV series, was in town to make his Grand Ole Opry debut Friday (September 7) and to promote his album, Hits, which was recorded in Nashville. After mingling with guests, Chianese mounted a small stage. He spoke wistfully of growing up in New York during the 1930s, hearing his grandfather sing to him and listening to an Italian-language radio station. “I got my first love of music from Grandpa Domenico and Gene Autry,” he said. Chianese described his invitation to appear on the Opry as “the dream of my life.” Although clearly a fan of traditional country music, Chianese made no pretense of being a closet “country boy.” He poked fun at himself with a song called “Typical New Yorker,” which appears on his album alongside other melodically gentle fare such as “For the Good Times,” “Santa Lucia,” “Guantanamera” and “Shady Grove.” …

“Unforeseen logistical challenges” have forced organizers to reschedule a benefit concert by the Dixie Chicks. Originally set for September 15 in Austin, Texas, the Texas Twilight Gala in support of the Pediatric AIDS League of Texas (PAL), would have marked the trio’s first live performance of 2001. Shawn Colvin, Terri Hendrix and the Austin Symphony also were to appear. “The circumstances surrounding the postponement are beyond the control of PAL and the talent involved,” said the organization’s spokesperson. The concert will be rescheduled “as soon as logistically possible.” …

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers will present Garth Brooks with the ASCAP Golden Note Award at a dinner Tuesday in Washington, D.C. ASCAP president and chairman Marilyn Bergman will host the event, attended by members of Congress, at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. The award recognizes Brooks’ contributions to American music as a performer and songwriter. Songwriters Pat Alger, Alan Bergman, John Bettis, Hal David, Dean Kay, Jimmy Webb and Paul Williams will be part of a musical tribute to Brooks. Past recipients of the award include Elton John, Tom Petty, Stevie Wonder and Andre Previn

Willie Nelson collapsed onstage during a show at the Konocti Harbor Resort in Kelseyville, California, on August 28, according to the Fresno Bee. Shows subsequently canceled included California dates on August 30 at the Palace Indian Gaming Center in Lemoore and the Pozo Saloon in San Luis Obispo on September 2. A spokesperson for Nelson declined to comment and said the singer is next scheduled to play the Farm Aid concert on September 29, in Indianapolis, Indiana …

Mavericks lead singer Raul Malo has scheduled October 23 for the release of his first solo album. Today will include songs in both English and Spanish and will feature a duet with Shelby Lynne, “It Takes Two to Tango” …

Martina McBride and folk singer Arlo Guthrie have been added to the Farm Aid benefit concert on Sept. 29 at Verizon Wireless Music Center in Noblesville, Indiana. The bill also includes Dave Matthews and Farm Aid founders Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp. …

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. …

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. …

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. …

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. …

— sonicnet.com staff report