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Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images via ABCAs America celebrates its military men and women this Memorial Day weekend, it’s a holiday that makes Sam Hunt feel particularly close to his grandfather.

“My granddad was in World World II,” he reveals. “He was on the USS Texas battleship, and he was over at Normandy and over near Japan and he spent a lot of time right in the thick of World War II.”

For the Georgia native, his grandfather became a living example of what it means to truly appreciate the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.

“He really took pride in what that meant,” Sam reflects, “and it was something I got to see firsthand, as somebody who experienced that, and somebody who had that galvanized American trait… Somebody who’s been through that, and seen that really appreciates what it means to be free.”

It’s a characteristic the “Body Like a Back Road” hitmaker has worked to cultivate himself.

“I've tried to channel that into my own life,” Sam says, “because I haven’t fought in any war, but I really, really have a ton of respect for folks who have, and folks who have sacrificed, families who’ve lost lives and just sacrificed years of their own lives and time and effort to maintain those freedoms.”

On Thursday, Sam kicks off his 15 in a 30 Tour with Maren Morris and Chris Janson in Cleveland, Ohio.

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David Becker/WireImageGregg Allman, co-founding lead singer, keyboardist and one of the main songwriters of the legendary The Allman Brothers Band, has died at age 69.

A statement on Allman's official website reads, in part, "It is with deep sadness that we announce that Gregg Allman, a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band, passed away peacefully at his home in Savannah, Georgia.

"Gregg struggled with many health issues over the past several years. During that time, Gregg considered being on the road playing music with his brothers and solo band for his beloved fans, essential medicine for his soul. Playing music lifted him up and kept him going during the toughest of times."

The website statement concludes, "The family will release a statement soon, but for now ask for privacy during this very difficult time."

Allman cancelled all his 2017 tour dates in March, at the time of his death he was working on a solo album, Southern Blood, recorded with his back up band at FAME Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals and produced by Don Was.

"As a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, Gregg Allman helped give birth to Southern rock, blazing a trail for a generation of musicians who were equally influenced by the blues, Southern soul, and rock," said Recording Academy President and CEO Neil Portnow in a statement.  "His earthy vocals graced songs that have become rock standards. ...We have lost a pioneering force in American music, and our condolences go out to Gregg's family, friends, colleagues, and music fans everywhere."

Allman formed The Allman Brothers Band in 1969 in Jacksonville, Florida, with his older brother Duane, guitarist Dickey Betts, bassist Berry Oakley Jr., and drummers Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson.  The band combined blues, soul, jazz and gospel influences en route to becoming one of the most popular and influential Southern rock acts of all time.

Gregg Allman's soulful vocals and Hammond organ were key ingredients in the group's sound, while he also wrote or co-wrote many of the band's enduring signature hits, including "Whipping Post," "Midnight Rider," "Melissa" and "Ain't Wastin' Time No More."

The band was shaken by the deaths Duane Allman and Oakley in motorcycle accidents in November 1971 and November 1972, respectively, but continued on with a number of lineup changes before temporarily disbanding in 1976.

The Allman Brothers reunited a few times during the ensuing years.  While internal squabbles and other issues led to more roster shakeups -- including the 2000 departure of Betts -- the lineup solidified in the early 2000s and the group continued until calling it quits in October 2014.

Gregg Allman also had a successful solo career that paralleled his work with the Allmans, including his 1987 rock hit "I'm No Angel" and his acclaimed 2011 album, Low Country Blues.

Allman struggled with addiction and alcohol abuse, and in 2010 underwent a liver transplant. He also had a turbulent love life, marrying and divorcing five times, including a high-profile four-year marriage during the 1970s to Cher.

Gregg Allman and the rest of the Allman Brothers were honored with a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 2012.  Shortly before his death, Allman had been busy touring with his solo backing band, and had recorded a new album that's expected out in early 2017.

Gregg Allman was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Allman Brothers Band in 1995, and was welcomed into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2015.

According to his website, Allman is survived by "his wife, Shannon Allman; his children, Devon, Elijah Blue, Delilah Island Kurtom and Layla Brooklyn Allman; three grandchildren; his niece, Galadrielle Allman; lifelong friend Chank Middleton, and a large extended family."

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ABC/Randy HolmesThe Grand Ole Opry will pay tribute to “the Gentle Giant” on Tuesday, honoring Country Music Hall of Famer Don Williams.

1995 CMA Female Vocalist of the Year Alison Krauss will lead the way, performing the classic “Till the Rivers All Run Dry,” from Gentle Giants:  The Songs of Don Williams. Revered singer/songwriter John Prine and Americana favorite Jason Isbell will do their tunes from the record as well.  

Conceived as a benefit for the Grammys’ MusiCares charity, the just-released album also boasts covers from Chris StapletonDierks BentleyLady AntebellumGarth BrooksPistol Annies, and Trisha Yearwood.

Darius Rucker is also scheduled to play the Opry on Tuesday, though he’s not set to be part of the Williams tribute at this point.

Just last year, Don Williams was forced to postpone his tour due to unexpected hip replacement surgery, which resulted in the 77-year-old's eventual retirement from performing.

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Walt Disney RecordsBrad Paisley is revving up his engines for Cars 3.

The West Virginia native contributes two songs to the soundtrack of the latest installment of the Disney franchise -- but he won’t be singing. Brad wrote the instrumentals “Truckaroo” and “Thunder Hollow Breakdown” especially for the animated feature.

If you’re listening for Brad’s tunes, you’ll find them in the Crazy 8 demolition derby sequence where Owen Wilson’s Lightning McQueen deals with total chaos. Both the movie and the soundtrack come out Friday, June 16.

The “Last Time for Everything” singer has a long history with the Cars films. He contributed “Behind the Clouds” and “Find Yourself” to the soundtrack of the original, and did “Collision of Worlds” and “Nobody’s Fool” for Cars 2.

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ABC/Image Group LA During a Memorial Day weekend filled with barbecues, picnics and pool parties, plenty of folks will also be headed to the racetrack -- and you can count lots of country stars among them.

Saturday, Keith Urban and Dustin Lynch will both be hanging out at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, playing the yearly Legends Day concert. The Aussie superstar won’t be able to stick around for Sunday’s Indy 500, however, since he has a gig at another track.

This weekend in Daytona Beach, Florida, Keith is just one of the stars set to play the Country 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Jake OwenBrooks & Dunn and Miranda Lambert are part of the Friday night lineup, while William Michael MorganDan ShayThomas Rhett and Blake Shelton take the stage on Saturday.

Keith Urban goes on Sunday immediately before headliner Kid Rock, with Eric PaslayChris JansonKip Moore and Easton Corbin also on the bill.

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Comstock/Thinkstock Twelve years ago this week, this Checotah, Oklahoma native won American Idol, singing Martina McBride's "Independence Day" and dueting with Rascal Flatts on "Bless the Broken Road." Can you name her? ANSWER:  Carrie Underwood.

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Capitol NashvilleTonight in Bakersfield, California, the audience at Rabobank Arena will be the very first to take in Lady Antebellum’s new You Look Good World Tour with Kelsea Ballerini and Brett Young.  

While he’d never want to brag, Charles Kelley admits Lady A does have quite a track record when it comes to picking opening acts.

“We've been really lucky you know,” he remembers. “A couple years ago we lucked out and had Hunter Hayes and Sam Hunt. You know, we didn't know that he was going to be as big as he is, so we're hoping Brett Young is gonna be our Sam Hunt this year too!” he jokes, as Hillary Scott giggles.

“We had heard his first single,” Charles goes on. “I think it wasn't even top 20, and I was like, 'I think this guys's gonna be big, man.' And he's 6' 6" like me,” he adds, as his band mates laughs.  

While this is Brett’s first time out with Lady A, Kelsea already has quite a history with the band.

“Kelsea had opened up, probably eight shows for us over the past couple years…” Charles recalls. “I remember the first time I saw her, I was like, 'Man, she's got something!' You could tell she was kinda green still on stage, and then now, seeing her, you're like...  the amount of growth! She's a rock star, man!"

Kelsea, Brett and Lady A continue on to Mountain View and Wheatland, California this weekend as well. By the time they finish the trek, they’ll have clocked 65 shows in six different countries, including South Africa.

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Burke/Triolo Productions/Thinkstock Kenny Chesney’s new single is “All the Pretty Girls,” from his Cosmic Hallelujah album.

Tyler Farr’s new docu-series, A Little Too Farr, premieres Friday, June 2 on Verizon’s go90 streaming platform.

Kelsea Ballerini has signed a long-term publishing deal with Sony/ATV.

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ABC/Image Group LA This weekend, Eric Church wraps his Holdin’ My Own Tour with two sold-out shows at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena -- but then again, capacity crowds are the rule these days for the hitmaking star.

In fact, Eric has sold out all 60 shows on the four-month North American trek, causing Pollstar to proclaim it the “#1 most-attended music tour in the world so far this year.”  Along the way, the North Carolina native also cancelled more than 33,000 tickets to keep them out of the hands of scalpers.

If the Mr. Misunderstood singer is ready for a break, no one would blame him. He routinely played more than three hours every night, with no opening act and only one intermission.

Eric will do a handful of shows this summer -- including an August 18 stop at Good Morning America’s Summer Concert Series on ABC -- before hitting the road again in September.

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Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images via ABCFlorida Georgia Line’s new FGL House will open Monday, June 5, just in time for CMA Music Festival 2017. The fun cranks up at the four-story restaurant and entertainment destination that night starting at 7 p.m. CT.

Located at 120 3rd Avenue South in the heart of Music City’s honky tonk district, FGL’s signature venue will feature a different bar and a different vibe on each level. At the same time, Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley will offer what they’re calling “Southern-style fare with a California twist.”   

If you’d like to skip the lines and the cover charges, you can explore a VIP membership online or buy one in person. It’ll run you $100 for a year, or $250 for a lifetime pass.  

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PRNewsfoto/4 CellarsIn the past, Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman have both launched their own fashion and food empires, respectively. But now the CMA and ACM Vocal Group of the Year is embarking on their first non-musical venture together: they’re going into the wine business.

“This is the first collaboration outside of the band that the four of us have worked on together,” Karen says, “and it’s a natural extension of what we hold dear: relaxing and celebrating with good friends, coming together and breaking bread, and fellowship.”

Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet are joining with Karen and Kimberly to launch 4 Cellars, in partnership with Browne Family Vineyards. LBT met proprietor Andrew Browne through mutual friends when they were exploring the wine country of Washington state.

4 Cellars’ first two offerings will be a 2015 Chardonnay and a 2014 Red Blend. You’ll be able to buy them exclusively online starting June 1, and in select Tennessee restaurants.

You can find out all the details at FourCellars.com. Little Big Town's latest single, "Happy People," is currently making its way toward country's top 40.

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ABC/Image Group LALuke Bryan will head off the beaten path this fall, continuing his Farm Tour for the ninth year in a row.

ACM New Male Vocalist of the Year Jon Pardi will join Luke for the trek, with more artists still to be added to the lineup. The four-time Entertainer of the Year will play six rural locations on the tour, starting September 28 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Proceeds go to fund scholarships for students from farm families. Since he started in 2009, Luke’s been able to send 50 kids to college.

Here are the dates for Luke Bryan’s Farm Tour 2017, with pre-sales starting May 30, before going on sale to the general public on June 2:

9/28 -- Lincoln, NE, Benes Farm
9/29 -- Baldwin City, KS, Don-Ale Farms
9/30 -- Boone, IA, Ziel Farm
10/5 -- Fort Wayne, IN, Spangler Farms West
10/6 -- Edinburg, IL, Ayers Family Farm
10/7 -- Centralia, MO, Stowers Farm

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Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images via ABCFriday morning, Florida Georgia Line will be up bright and early to kick off the Memorial Day weekend on Good Morning America’s Summer Concert Series.

Brian Kelley says it’s a wake-up call he and Tyler Hubbard don’t mind one bit.

“Oh, it's something that we look forward to every year,” he tells ABC Radio. “We always hope we get that call to go play the Summer Concert Series. It always feels good that time in New York. The fans are nuts… a lot of FGL fans there.”

Even with the early start to the day, Tyler’s already planning to take his own bite out of the Big Apple.

“A lot of history in New York City,” he says. “We love going there. Every time it gets cooler and cooler. I like to hit some vintage stores while I'm there too. It's just awesome… GMA's gonna be amazing!”  

FGL will also bring their Smooth tourmate Nelly to the early-morning party.

“We’re gonna take a little ‘Cruise’ with our boy,” Tyler says, referencing the duo’s breakthrough hit from 2012.

You can catch Florida Georgia Line's Summer Concert Series appearance on Good Morning America starting Friday at 7 a.m. on ABC.

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Comstock/Thinkstock Six years ago this week, now-President Donald Trump proclaimed this country star the winner of The Celebrity Apprentice. Can you name him? ANSWER:  John Rich.

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Burke/Triolo Productions/Thinkstock The Grand Ole Opry kicks off a busy CMA Music Festival week with two shows on Tuesday, June 6 starring Carrie UnderwoodDustin Lynch and more. Parmalee will crank up the festivities that afternoon with an Opry Plaza Party.

Singer/songwriter Travis Denning is the newest artist signed to Universal Nashville. The Warner Robbins, Georgia native has already had cuts by the likes of Jason AldeanJustin Moore and Chase Rice.

William Michael Morgan will perform and sign autographs starting at 11:30 a.m. CT on Thursday, June 8 in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Ford Theatre.  This is just one of the Hall’s full slate of events during CMA Music Festival 2017.

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ABC/Image Group LA Forty years ago today, Star Wars premiered in theaters across America. For Brad Paisley, it was a film that rocked his world.

“Well, I saw it the first time when I was five,” he tells ABC Radio, “and I was blown away and my life was changed like everyone else who has that story.”

Fast forward to release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015, and the stage was set for Brad to realize just how profoundly he’d been affected.

“I rented a theater for the… first showing in Franklin, Tennessee, for my band and crew as our end-of-the-year Christmas party” he recalls, “and we all brought our kids…”

“I was sitting between my two kids,” Brad continues, “and the credits start… with 'Episode 7: Luke Skywalker has vanished,'” he says, referring to the opening crawl. “So I'm watching this, and I look down, and I'm like 'OK, Jasper, Episode 7: Luke Skywalker has vanished. The rebellion has… whatever.' And as I'm reading it, I start to cry, because my dad did that for me.”

In that moment, Brad says it hit him just how much the sci-fi classic had become a rite of passage.

“Think about the circle of life! I mean it was just a crazy... I'm sitting there reading the scroll on a new Star Wars movie to my child, who's sitting there wide-eyed like I was and I know his life's about to change, the same way mine did,” he observes.  

Brad and Jasper will have a new installment to share when Star Wars: The Last Jedi premieres on December 15 of this year.

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ABC RadioMeghan Trainor surprised Lauren Alaina by flying in for her very first #1 party Wednesday afternoon in Nashville. The two co-wrote Lauren’s hit “Road Less Traveled” with Jesse Frasure long ago, even though it just hit the top of the charts in April.

Meghan recalled secretly fan-girling Lauren, sending her mom photos of the American Idol runner-up, since she at the time was still completely unknown. Since then, of course, Meghan broke through with her mega-hit “All About That Bass,” and took home the Best New Artist Grammy.

While this is Lauren’s first chart-topper, it’s Meghan’s second on the country chart, having hit #1 last year with Rascal Flatts’ “I Like the Sound of That.”    

Lauren managed to inject her own quirky sense of humor into the gathering at the Sutler Saloon just off 8th Avenue South in Music City, turning her #1 party into a onesie party. Meghan wore a simple black number, while Lauren sported a custom-made turquoise sequined outfit. Guests were issued their own onesies at the door, in designs ranging from hotdog to astronaut to Frankenstein.

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ABC/Brett OronzioAs Eric Church rolls into Music City to wrap up his Holdin’ My Own Tour this weekend with two sold-out shows at Bridgestone Arena, he’ll also re-open his popular storefront in East Nashville.

No matter where you live, you can preview the pop-up shop Thursday on Facebook Live starting at 11 a.m. CT. The store at 218 South 11th Street will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Customers will be able to check out Eric’s signature Gibson Hummingbird Dark guitar and custom Jack Daniels barrels, as well as exclusive merch not available anywhere else.

At this weekend’s shows, Eric will also unveil the new Chattanooga Lucy design in his These Boots by Lucchese line. You’ll be able to take home a pair when the pop-up shop reopens from Thursday, June 8 through Sunday, June 11 during CMA Music Festival.

This is the third year in a row for the “Round Here Buzz” singer’s temporary store. Part of the proceeds go to his Chief Cares charity.

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BMLGJust as it’s on the verge of  going #1, Brett Young’s “In Case You Didn’t Know” has been certified platinum.

That not only makes it Brett’s first million-selling single of his career, it’s also the first country release of 2017 to reach that milestone.  If you’re keeping up, that puts Brett’s sales on par with pop hitmakers like Ed SheeranFutureThe Chainsmokers and Katy Perry.

Next month, “In Case You Didn’t Know” vies for Breakthrough Video of the Year at the 2017 CMT Music Awards. This Friday, Brett hits the road with Lady Antebellum and Kelsea Ballerini on the You Look Good World Tour.

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CMTCMT is cueing up the superstar pairings for its 2017 awards show.

Florida Georgia Line will team up with pop phenomenon The Chainsmokers at the Wednesday, June 7 event, while Lady Antebellum will collaborate with R&B legends Earth, Wind & FireKeith Urban and Carrie Underwood will take the stage together as well.   

FGL does “Last Day Alive” on The Chainsmokers #1 album, Memories… Do Not Open, while Lady A is planning a decades-spanning performance with their CMT Crossroads co-stars. Keith and Carrie, of course, have a top-15 hit with “The Fighter.”

Blake SheltonBrett EldredgeLuke BryanMiranda Lambert and Thomas Rhett have already locked in their spots on the show that airs live from Nashville’s Music City Center at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, June 7. Nashville’s Charles Esten will host the 2017 CMT Music Awards.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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