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Well, it’s February, and what does that mean to your country music lovin’ Dish? CRS, of course.

For each of the last 37 years, country radio programmers and jocks have traveled to Nashville, TN, to find out who’s hot, who’s not, what’s new, and who’s ready for big time radio. And each year, artist’s managers, promotion men and women, powerful record labels, and independents vie for the attention of these all-powerful radio “folk.” As you probably already know, in the competitive world of country music, if you’re not played on the radio, you don’t exist.

The action got going early on Wednesday, as road warrior Toby Keith, and retired General Tommy Franks were in prominent attendance, with Keith being awarded the Secretary’s Award for Outstanding Service to American Veterans, and Franks delivering the Keynote Address. “No price is too high to pay for freedom,” he said, pointing to the “chance for freedom” that’s been given to the people of Iraq and Afganistan.

Immediately following, the crowd wound its way to the Curb/Asylum lunch, featuring performances by new girl band Bomshell and the return of veteran artist Clay Walker. But this was just an appetizer to the day’s main course, with Keith Urban starring Music City Jam, which also featured the surprise guest of the century, Dolly Parton. The usually reticent crowd of country music bigwigs lost complete control of themselves, as Dolly and Keith performed several songs together, and mobbed the stage just like the music fans they really are.

That night, Warner Nashville pulled out all the stops with an all-acoustic showcase of the label’s artists, including Big & Rich, Blake Shelton, Cowboy Troy and Lane Turner, plus a special performance by arguably Nashville’s most intriguing new duo The Wreckers.

Brand new label Midas Records celebrated their official launch with a party and performance on Wednesday night featuring Dishmag favorites Emerson Drive, back in the saddle with a new life in Nashville and a new label to call home. As cute, and kickass as ever, we are thrilled to have them back

Don’t think the party ends at 11 for one second, since the moment the official showcases end, the label suites open in Nashville’s famed Renaissance Hotel, witness to many a secret never to be revealed. The infamous Bridge Bar, a fixture on the CRS party circuit, is always rockin’, with country superstars and humble wannabe’s rubbing elbows with the captains of the industry and humble journalists as well. FYI: This year the Bridge Bar hit an all-time record, grossing $19,800 in one night.

But in case you think CRS is all play and no work, you’re wrong, as important and informative seminars about the industry begin early in the morning, with many a bleary- eyed veteran of the evening before in attendance. Covering topics such as “Legal Issues: How Radio and Records Co-exist,” “Charts, Dollars and Sense: Are We Making Any?” and the popular “Record Label Heads Panel” fill the room every time.

All the while, the music beat goes on each day as Sony Music Nashville sponsors Thursday’s luncheon, putting on quite a show featuring the super-cool Van Zant, and the darling Miranda Lambert, plus a video presentation featuring newcomer Ashley Monroe. Friday, Capitol Nashville ruled with two very hot and well-attended events; an intimate conversation with Kenny Rogers on “The Life of a Legend” at 10:30 am, followed by the Capitol luncheon featuring the very hot Dierks Bentley, and newcomer Eric Church. Even this jaded crowd was on their feet, doing a figurative Texas Two-Step along with the music.

Friday night brings us CRS’ two biggest events- First, The legendary NEW FACES SHOW,which introduces the world to some of the best new musical talent. Considering that “New Faces” has introduced such superstars as Reba, George Strait, Alabama, Vince Gill, Randy Travis, Patty Loveless, Brooks & Dunn, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Leann Rimes, and The Dixie Chicks, it’s always a coveted honor to be included. This year’s lucky newcomers included Hot Apple Pie, Jason Aldean, Little Big Town, Keith Anderson, and Jeff Bates. In an odd turn of events, Jeff Bates turned out to be more of a trooper than any of us might have expected, when he performed despite the fact that he had just slipped in the hotel lobby and broken his tailbone. Ouch! But he put on a really great show anyway.

And last but not least, the always raucous “After Midnite Disco Party with Blair Garner” was bigger and better than ever, as the energized crowd danced the night away with some of the biggest acts in country. Finally, as the early morning sky began to brighten, the weary crowd headed home, inspired by the new music and new artists they had heard- ready to rest up and come back to do it all over again next year! And that, my friends, includes us……

Look out for CRS 38, same time, same place, February 28 - March 2, 2007 / Issue 58 - September 2018
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