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Mike Sudhalter  |  June 5, 2007

Well, we're 18 hours away from an exciting week in country music. The trip will officially begin with the Brad Paisley Fan Club party at the Ryman Auditorium and a trip to the Country Music Hall of Fame on Wednesday.

Paisley is expected to play songs from his upcoming album, 5th Gear. If the single "Ticks" is any indication, it should be another keeper. I just hope Paisley doesn't veer too much into pop country.

Speaking of pop country, it would be generous to classify Big and Rich as such. They're at the center of the country music world with their third album, "Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace", debuting on Tuesday. The Hall of Fame also has a new exhibit on the duo.

Surprisingly, I enjoyed B&R's debut album and liked a few of the songs on the follow up. One of the few country songs on the new disc is the cover of AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long". But the guys go head-on into rap music, and I don't know if that's such a good idea. I don't listen to rap, but friends who do laugh at the thought of John and Big Kenny bustin' a rhyme.

Anyways, I'll check out the B&R exhibit on Wednesday, but it won't be at the top of my list. Three albums into their career, and they get their own exhibit. Can someone get one for Sawyer Brown, Diamond Rio and while you're at it, Boy Howdy and Perfect Stranger?

Will we look back at Big & Rich as the folks who changed country music the way Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings did in the 1970's. I hope not, because Willie and Waylon made positive contributions of change. Hopefully, B&R will be an exception, not the rule in country music.

The festival begins Thursday, and I'll have to pick and choose which shows I'm going to attend during the days. Thursday through Sunday night, I'll be at LP Field checking out the big shows. If you can't wait until Thursday or you won't be attending the festival, check out itunes. They have music from artists, categorized by the day in which artists will be performing.

On Saturday night, I'll miss part of the big show to check out the legendary Grand Ole Opry with Pam Tillis, Darryl Worley, Carolina Rain and Mel Tillis. It's a special night for Mr. Tillis because he's going to be officially inducted as an Opry member. I'm still scratching my head at why it took so long? After looking at the rest of the Opry lineup, I might stay there instead of going to the LP Show. Of the four nights, Saturday is the one I'm least interested in with pop-country acts like LeAnn Rimes, Martina McBride and JoDee Messina.

Thursday looks like the best night with both Brooks & Dunn and Alan Jackson on the bill.

I will check out the honky-tonks after the LP Field shows and spend the days trying to take in as much of Nashville and Country Music as possible.

Well, I look to forward to reading your thoughts and questions during the trip. It should be great hearing established artists and discovering new ones. I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I hope to.

:: Posted at 2:28 AM by Mike Sudhalter ::
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