Eric Church is opening a BBQ joint and music venue in downtown Nashville

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Move over, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and Dierks Bentley: There’s a new country star-owned bar coming to downtown Nashville.

Eric Church is planning to open a new hot spot called Chief’s. Occupying the spot formerly owned by John Rich-owned Cotton Eyed Joe — which Rich and his partners sold for $24.5 million late last year, per the Tennessean — Chief’s is due to open in 2023.

The country superstar says opening his own bar is the “culmination of catching” a dream that he’s been chasing ever since he first moved to town.

“Like everything else we do in our career, I wouldn’t even attempt a project like this if I didn’t think it would be the best, so that’s what Chief’s will be: The best,” he explains.

Named for Eric’s 2011 Chief album, and the nickname that fans have given him, the singer’s new spot is personal on every level. Drawing on his Carolina roots, Eric’s enlisting James Beard Award winner and Charleston native Rodney Scott to bring his Whole Hog BBQ to a rooftop restaurant at the top of Chief’s six-story building.

Plus, the bar and restaurant will have a designated seated music venue, ready to host ticketed shows. That’s a big difference from many of the other spots on Nashville’s neon-splattered Lower Broadway, known for its boisterous, packed, standing-room-only honky tonks.

Chief’s is the latest in a fast-growing trend of country stars opening up their own bars. Florida Georgia Line and Miranda Lambert are two more who’ve gotten into the bar and restaurant game in recent years.

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America’s Gerry Beckley recalls band’s “rocket ship” ride that began with debut album’s release 50 years ago

Warner Records

America‘s self-titled debut album was released 50 years ago this month in the U.S.

The trio of Dewey Bunnell, Gerry Beckley and Dan Peek, whose fathers were U.S. Air Force personnel stationed in the U.K., formed America after graduating from the same London high school.

All three were talented singer-songwriters who contributed multiple songs to the America album. The album was released in the U.K. in December 1971, initially without the lead single, the Bunnell-penned folk-rock classic “A Horse with No Name.”

When “A Horse with No Name” began enjoying some chart success, it was added to the U.S. version of the album. The single topped the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks in the spring of 1972, while the album spent five straight weeks at #1 on the Billboard 200 around the same time.

Reflecting on the band’s immediate success, Beckley tells ABC Audio, “It doesn’t happen too often. We had a number-one single and album with our very first release. We’d barely been together a year. It was a rocket ship that basically burned pretty solid for almost 10 years.”

The album’s follow-up single, the Beckley-written ballad “I Need You,” also was a hit, reaching #9 on the Hot 100.

America was co-produced by Warner Bros. staff producer Ian Samwell, whom Beckley says was tasked with recording the songs simply, without much studio embellishment. Beckley also recalls that the album was recorded quickly and inexpensively, and he credits engineer Ken Scott — known for his work with David Bowie and The Beatles — for keeping the sessions going smoothly.

America was the group’s only album to top the Billboard 200, and has been certified Platinum by the RIAA for sales of one million in the U.S.

Here’s the America track list:

Side One
“Riverside”
“Sandman”
“Three Roses”
“Children”
“A Horse with No Name”
“Here”

Side Two
“I Need You”
“Rainy Day”
“Never Found the Time”
“Clarice”
“Donkey Jaw”
“Pigeon Song”

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Bastille’s Dan Smith returns to one of his “favorite things in the world” with UK tour ahead of new album

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Tonight, Bastille kicks off a series of intimate U.K. shows to preview the band’s upcoming album, Give Me the Future. For frontman Dan Smith, the run allows him to return to one of his “favorite things in the world.”

“I think about the countless hours I’ve spent crammed up against complete strangers, sweating and shouting along to music that I love,” Smith tells ABC Audio.

As heard in the singles “Distorted Light Beam” and “No Bad Days,” Give Me the Future is perhaps Bastille’s most electronically-driven album. Fittingly, its themes are related to technology and virtual spaces, which Smith hopes to represent with a “stage space that feels totally transportive and totally futuristic.”

Still, Smith wants to stay true to the grounded nature of the live show, which he feels is the “antithesis” of Give Me the Future.

“To use the language of our album, the gig is like the ‘Shut Off the Lights’ moment,” Smith says. “It’s being pulled into reality, it’s being tangibly close to other people, these things we’ve not done for a couple of years.”

“It’s about human contact,” he adds. “It’s about being in a room with other people, with strangers who have this common enjoyment of one thing.”

After the winter U.K. run, Bastille will return to their home country in the spring for a more expansive tour, followed by a trip to the U.S. kicking off in May.

“I’m excited for people to see the show,” Smith says. “And to hopefully explore, like we do with the videos and everything else, the ideas of the music and the ideas of the lyrics in more depth on a bigger scale.”

Give Me the Future arrives February 4.

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Breland’s glad he didn’t know Dierks Bentley’s “Beers on Me” was going to be a single when he wrote his verse

ABC

Breland’s got his first-ever country radio single — not to mention, his first-ever top-twenty and rising hit — in the form of “Beers on Me,” his Dierks Bentley-led collaboration that also includes Hardy.

Dierks, Hardy and a few other co-writers penned the song at a writing retreat in Colorado, but when Dierks asked Breland to be a part of it, the up-and-comer asked if he could add a verse of his own.

“I wanted to be able to add some of my own flavor to it, so I was really glad that they were cool with me trying to write my own thing,” Breland remembers. “And it came together really fast. It might have been, like, 10 minutes, 15 minutes or so.”

His verse was a hit with his duet partners, and “Beers on Me” became a big song for Dierks: He sent it to country radio, and borrowed its title for his tour.

But that day in the studio, when Breland asked to make changes to “Beers on Me,” he had no idea just how important the song was. Looking back on it, he says, that was a good thing.

“You know, I’ve never had a song at country radio before,” the singer points out. “So it was a really big opportunity for me. I’m glad I didn’t know that when I was writing the verse. Then I probably would’ve been second, third-guessing myself.”

Breland’s currently on the road with Russell Dickerson for the All Yours, All Night Tour, which kicked off on Tuesday in New York City.

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Lady Gaga says she’d love to portray this iconic biblical figure on-screen

ABC/Randy Holmes

Don’t ever let it be said that Lady Gaga isn’t ambitious: She says one person she’d love to play on-screen is one of the most iconic figures in the Christian Bible.

In an interview with Deadline, Gaga is asked whether — since she plays a real person in her movie House of Gucci — she’d like to play “anyone else in history.”  “You know what?  I always wanted to play Mary Magdalene,” she responds.

“But I think that’s because I was fascinated by her growing up, because she was seen as this harlot that was essentially Jesus’ girlfriend and she washed the feet of Christ,” Gaga continues. “She’s in so much iconography…and she’s so important. She was there at the Ascension. She was also there at the Crucifixion.”

Gaga adds, “She’s this essential piece of history, but she’s also seen as a dark figure, a harlot. She’s very much The Scarlet Letter.”  She also notes that her song “Bloody Mary,” from her album Born this Way, is about Mary Magdalene.

“It was all about this woman that was willing to do anything to love who she believed to be the greatest gift to Earth,” Gaga explains. “I always thought that that could be interesting, the story of her. I guess I’m interested in women’s stories.”

And while Gaga was eager to tell the story of Patrizia Reggiani in House of Gucci, she reiterates that it wasn’t necessary for her to have Reggiani’s “blessing” to portray her.

“I think the blessing that you need is when you are on a world stage — the way that I am very often — is that of the audience,” she explains. “And when the audience embraces you and trusts you to tell them a story, that’s the blessing that I need.”

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What’s next for Adele’s “Cirque on steroids” Las Vegas residency?

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Last week, Adele hit pause on her Las Vegas residency Weekends with Adele because, she said, “My show ain’t ready.” So when might we actually see it?  Well, one Vegas entertainment expert says getting Adele back on the schedule at Caesars Palace may be challenging.

First of all, Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes, who covers the Sin City entertainment scene, tells ABC Audio that Adele’s show was going to be a huge production. “They wanted a lake on the stage. There were water trucks outside the loading dock at the Colosseum,” he says.

“One person who was familiar with the production — two people actually — told me that there was going to be, like, a storm inside created for her. There was an aerial [effect] to lift her around…[a] choir that was contracted out of Las Vegas, 60 singers to sing ‘Skyfall,'” he continues.

“A giant staircase was being assembled for this. It was a lot,” he adds.A friend of mine, who has worked in Cirque du Soleil, said it was ‘Cirque on steroids’ that they were planning over there.”

Then, there’s the issue of scheduling.

“There’s no way you can return Adele to the stage until after the summer and into the fall, because the schedule is booked up,” Katsilometes says of the Colosseum. “They’ve taken her equipment out. Her set pieces have all been hauled out…work has stopped inside the theater.” 

Katsilometes says currently, his sense is that the show is “more like an ‘if’ than a ‘when.'”

“I think that that’s got to be on the table, because Caesars Entertainment/Live Nation…they have a venue to fill,” he explains “And if they can’t guarantee that the show is going to be ready to go on a certain date and for an extended period of time…? It’s like the classic line ‘We have a business to run,’ y’know?”

Katsilometes suggests that to make it up to fans, Adele should simply “do the show.” 

“Reset it, explain what’s going on and say…’We’re going to give you guys a show that you expect,'” he says. “[And]…put people’s minds at ease.”

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Mary J. Blige explains why “Family Affair” is the perfect song for her to sing at the Super Bowl

Adrienne Raquel/Elle

As Mary J. Blige prepares to perform during halftime at Super Bowl LVI on February 13, she faces the dilemma of selecting only one song to sing from her 30-year catalog.

The Queen of Hip Hop Soul tells Elle that she’s leaning toward “Family Affair” from her triple-platinum 2001 album No More Drama. She co-wrote the number-one hit with Dr. Dre, who also produced the track, and who’s one of the four superstars she’ll be sharing the stage with at the Super Bowl. Mary believes the song is appropriate, because hip hop has influenced family life around the world.

“We are the culture,” the nine-time Grammy winner says. “We give people a way to walk. We give people a way to talk. We give people a way to think.”

In addition to Dre, Mary J. will join Eminem, Kendrick Lamar and Snoop Dogg on stage at the Super Bowl. She says the lineup represents hip hop’s global appeal.

“Hip hop is East Coast. Hip hop is West Coast. Hip hop is Europe — this is why it’s going to be so major, because this is what the Super Bowl is showing to people,” the 51-year-old entertainer says. “[Hip hop] is everywhere.”

Meanwhile, the “Not Gon’ Cry” singer says the title of her upcoming album, Good Morning Gorgeous, was inspired by her daily mantra during her painful 15-year marriage to Kendu Isaacs, who she divorced in 2018.

“I was feeling so low. I had to pay myself the highest compliments, even if I didn’t believe it, just so I could build myself up,” Blige recalls.

Mary says she still recites the same words every day: “Good morning, Gorgeous. I love you. I got you. I need you.”

Good Morning Gorgeous comes out February 11.

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New Ghost album features song criticizing “awful, awful person” Mike Pence

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Ghost‘s upcoming album Impera features a track criticizing former Vice President Mike Pence.

As frontman Tobias Forge tells Kerrang!, the song “Griftwood” is about Pence and “anyone like him who’s willing to soil everything they’ve worked for.”

“He’s known as this sort of Bible thumper, believing that he has strong faith, and he’s just this awful, awful person in any way,” Forge says of Donald Trump‘s VP. “He tries to tell the world that he serves God, that he’s part of the good side. Whereas at the end of the day, the only thing he wants is power.”

Forge adds that “Griftwood” isn’t “necessarily…all about” Pence, rather “people like him.” 

“A lot of politicians, lot of preachers, a lot of clergymen throughout the history of time,” he says.

Impera, the follow-up to 2018’s Prequelle, arrives March 11. It includes the singles “Hunter’s Moon” and “Call Me Little Sunshine.”

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Aldo Nova releasing first part of new rock opera and album of “reloaded” versions of older tunes in April

MRI

Veteran Canadian rocker Aldo Nova, best known for his 1982 hit “Fantasy,” has unveiled plans for two album projects that will be released in April.

The first is a 10-track EP titled The Life and Times of Eddie Gage that’s due out April 1 and will serve as the first chapter of a planned rock opera.

The Life and Times of Eddie Gage tells the fictional story of a talented young rocker who is tempted and exploited by various characters as he tries to break into the music business. He initially succumbs to drugs, alcohol and other excesses before finding redemption when he delves into spirituality.

One of the EP’s tracks, “Free Your Mind,” has been released as an advance digital single.

Nova began working on the rock opera in 2008, and the final project will encompass 25 songs. Aldo wrote, produced, arranged, engineered and mixed all of the EP’s tracks, and the recording includes a 40-piece orchestra and a full gospel choir.

“The record was done from pure inspiration,” Nova says. “I was truly channeling some place away from myself. It was almost as if something above connected to me and gave me these songs.”

The second project is a three-disc set titled Aldo Nova 2.0 Reloaded that will be released on April 19.

The collection features updated versions of nine tunes from Nova’s back catalog on the first disc, and those same tracks mixed without vocals and without guitar, respectively, on the second and third discs.

“Nobody’s ever done this,” Aldo says of Reloaded. “You can basically sing with me as your backing band or play along as a backing track…I want to encourage kids to improvise and learn.”

Here’s the EP’s track list:

“Hey Ladi Dadi”
“Free Your Mind”
“Follow the Road”
“King of Deceit”
“The Bitch in Black”
“On the Way to the Psycho Ward”
“When All Is Said and Done”
“Say a Little Prayer”
“Burn Like the Sun”

Bonus Track:
“Les Anges”

And here’s the track list for Aldo Nova 2.0 Reloaded:

Disc One:
“Blood on the Bricks”
“Monkey on Your Back”
“Under the Gun – War Suite”
“Foolin’ Yourself”
“Ball and Chain”
“Paradise”
“Modern World”
“Fantasy”
“I’m a Survivor”

Disc Two (No Lead Vocal):

“Blood on the Bricks”
“Monkey on Your Back”
“Under the Gun – War Suite”
“Foolin’ Yourself”
“Ball and Chain”
“Modern World”
“Fantasy”
“I’m a Survivor”

Disc Three (No Lead Guitar):
Same as Disc One

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Spotify grants Neil Young’s request to stop streaming his music; Young posts message explaining his decision

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Spotify has announced that it’s officially removed Neil Young‘s music from the streaming service as per the folk-rock legend’s request because he didn’t want share the platform with Joe Rogan‘s popular podcast, which Neil accuses of spreading misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and the pandemic.

“We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users,” the company says in a statement. “With that comes great responsibility in balancing both safety for listeners and freedom for creators. We have detailed content policies in place and we’ve removed over 20,000 podcast episodes related to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon.”

Meanwhile, Young posted a lengthy message on his official website regarding his decision, noting that he believes that Spotify has “recently become a very damaging force via its public misinformation and lies about COVID.”

Neil noted, “Most of the listeners hearing the unfactual, misleading and false COVID information on SPOTIFY are 24 years old, impressionable and easy to swing to the wrong side of the truth. These young people believe SPOTIFY would never present grossly unfactual information. They unfortunately are wrong. I knew I had to try to point that out.”

Young also thanked his label, Warner Brothers/Reprise Records, for supporting him in his decision, noting that the company will take a sizable financial loss because “Spotify represents 60% of the streaming of my music to listeners around the world.”

Neil points out that fans will still be able to stream his music on other platforms, and that some of those services offer higher-quality audio than Spotify does.

Young ends his message by saying he hopes “other artists and record companies will move off the SPOTIFY platform and stop supporting SPOTIFY’s deadly misinformation about COVID.”

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