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Warner Music NashvilleThis Independence Day, Cole Swindell is headed for the town that inspired the hit he co-wrote for Luke Bryan, “Roller Coaster.” 

“I think I have a few days blocked off to go down to Panama City, maybe, and just relax with some friends,” Cole says. The summer hit was inspired by PCB’s Miracle Strip Amusement Park, and mentions one of the city’s main drags, Thomas Drive.

But after his trip to Florida’s Gulf Coast, Cole is looking forward to getting back to work. “Then it's busy. Back out with [Jason] Aldean and Kenny Chesney, man. This is a big opportunity and while things are hot, I want to get out there for the fans and play music as long as I can,” he reflects.

Look for Cole to perform his latest hit “Let Me See Ya Girl” as he puts his nose back to the grindstone with a solo date in Louisville, Kentucky on July 10, before playing Target Field in Minneapolis with Jason, Kenny, Brantley Gilbert and Old Dominion on July 18.

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Mercury NashvilleKacey Musgraves officially claims the crown, topping Billboard’s Country Albums chart, as her second album, Pageant Material, debuts at number one. Her sophomore effort sold close to 55,000 copies during its first week, besting the 43,000 her debut moved in 2013, according to BillboardSame Trailer Different Park bowed at number 2 on the Country Albums ranking.

The new 14-song set also emerges in third place on the all-genre album chart, outpacing Taylor Swift’s 1989, which comes in at #4. Kacey kicks off her Country & Western Rhinestone Revue August 27 in Atlanta.

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Danny Clinch/Southern Ground/Varvatos/BMLGWhat do Madonna and Zac Brown Band have in common? Both have recently collaborated with Swedish DJ and producer Avicii. Best known for his 2013 hit “Wake Me Up,” Avicii recently debuted  a new song on his podcast,  “Broken Arrows” featuring Zac Brown Band and calling Zac an “amazing singer” with “a really unique voice.” 

While this make be Zac Brown Band’s first foray into Electronic Dance Music, this isn’t the first time Aviici has called on a singer from the country side of the tracks for vocals. He teamed up with Dan Tyminski from Alison Krauss & Union Station for his 2013 hit “Hey Brother.” 

Zac Brown Band is currently climbing the charts with “Loving You Easy” from their latest ablum Jekyll Hyde. Avicii’s sophomore album Stories is expected later this year.

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Comstock/ThinkstockWhat was the band Alabama's last #1 hit on the Billboard Country Singles chart? Answer: "Reckless," in 1993.

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockWynonna and Terri Clark have been added to the lineup for Charlie Daniels' 40th Anniversary Volunteer Jam. Ted NugentTrace AdkinsAlabamaMontgomery GentryTravis TrittCraig Morgan and more are already on the bill for the August 12 show at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Proceeds go to help veterans through The Journey Home Project. 

Dierks Bentley will perform two songs on Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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Jeremy Cowart/Republic NashvilleWhile most Americans will be celebrating Independence Day, this weekend will be special for the guys in Florida Georgia Line for a completely different reason:  they’ll be enjoying some rare time off.  

“We don’t really get many Friday nights when we’re not playin’,” Brian Kelley points out. But his leisure-time activities may not be as exciting as you’d expect.

“We did get one recently. I think my wife and I, we had a Friday night off in town like a week or two ago and I think we just got pizza and hung with the dogs and watched a movie, and I hadn’t done that in years, and it was awesome,” he recalls. “Didn’t feel like going out at all. It was nice to kick back and know you’re gonna feel really, really good in the mornin’.”

The next work day for Brian and musical partner Tyler Hubbard is July 9 in Fort Loramie, Ohio.

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Nino Munoz/Big Machine RecordsAs America prepares to celebrate its independence on July 4, Tim McGraw continues to celebrate the veterans who've helped fight for the country. So far, on the Shotgun Rider 2015 Tour he’s given away six mortgage-free homes to deserving soldiers, with 30 more members of the armed forces set to get new houses by the tour’s end through his partnership with Chase and Operation Homefront.

“[These are] people who have given us security for a lot of years,” Tim reflects, “and we’re able to do that back for them in a small way.” In the three years he's worked with Chase and Operation Homefront, they’ve partnered to give away 114 homes in 30 states.

Tim’s next tour stop with Billy Currington and Chase Bryant is July 10 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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Valory Music Co.Congratulations to Brantley Gilbert, who tied the knot with his fiancée, Amber Cochran, over the weekend at his home in Georgia. The couple dated several years ago, and their relationship inspired some of Brantley's biggest hits, like "You Don't Know Her Like I Do" and "More than Miles." They reconnected after Brantley got sober in recent years and the couple got engaged last fall.

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Capitol NashvilleLuke Bryan kicks off his seventh annual Farm Tour September 30 in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. This year, the eight-concert run adds four new cities including Ft. Wayne; Lexington, Kentucky; Starkville, Mississippi; and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Last year, the CMA and ACM Entertainer of the Year played for 110,000 fans on the rural tour, with some proceeds helping fund college scholarships for students from local farming families. Ticket presales start July 7, with seats for the general public going on sale July 10.

Here are the dates for Luke Bryan’s 2015 Farm Tour:

9/30 -- Ft. Wayne, IN, M&J Farms     
10/1 --  Lexington, KY, Talon Farm & Winery
10/2 -- Knoxville, TN, Maple Lane Farms
10/3 -- Columbia, SC, Culler Farms
10/7 -- Starkville, MS, Holtzcamp Farms
10/8 -- Tuscaloosa, AL, Twin Creeks Farm
10/9 -- Macon, GA, Midway at Central City Park               
10/10 -- Valdosta, GA, MJ Taylor Farms

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John Russell/CMACarrie Underwood can now officially add “rapper” to her list of skills. Sunday at the Big Barrel Country Music Festival in Dover, Delaware, she delivered both Wiz Khalifa’s rap from the hit “See You Again,” and also covered the vocals contributed by Charlie Puth.

The tune was part of a mashup that included Carrie’s own hit by the same name from 2013. The Wiz Khalifa track is a tribute to the late actor Paul Walker from the Furious 7 movie soundtrack.

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Warner Music NashvilleIf you’ve ever wondered what music your favorite performers listen to, Shazam is now making it easier to find out. Starting today, the popular music-recognition app will now let you follow artists like Zac Brown Band and Hunter Hayes to see what songs they’ve recently checked out.

Hunter and Zac join mainstream bands like Maroon 5, Coldplay and One Direction, who are also sharing their playlists.

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Comstock/ThinkstockBrett Eldredge wrote a song called "Adios Old Friend" that was featured on which network TV series? ANSWER: Nashville.

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Kenny ChesneyKenny Chesney is donating proceeds from his line of Costa Del Mar sunglasses to the Coastal Conservation Association, and he recently got to visit the two man-made reefs built with those funds in Jacksonville, Florida. The two structures were built in just two weeks in the city's St. John River using 1,300 tons of concrete. In the 18 months since they were built, Kenny says the reefs are "thriving with life."

“What they were able to create here says a lot about the ways man can live not just in harmony, but supporting our natural aquatic resources," Kenny says. "Beyond clean water, it is about supporting healthy marine life... and that includes being aware of the impact of erosion under the water.”

Kenny goes on to thank the University of Jacksonville for its help in making the man-made reefs a reality.

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Danny Clinch/Southern Ground/Varvatos/BMLGZac Brown Band received an assist from football star J.J. Watt when a fan popped up on stage during a performance over the weekend.

ESPN.com reports a fan jumped on stage and danced during the band's appearance at Summerfest in Milwaukee Sunday night. That's when Watt, a star defensive end with the Houston Texans who's a native of Wisconsin, swooped in and tackled the fan. He tweeted a video of the moment.

ESPN.com notes that the whole thing was likely staged.  Zac Brown Band continues their tour Friday in Denver.

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Mercury NashvilleEaston Corbin's third album, About to Get Real, is out this week featuring the lead single, "Baby Be My Love Song." That track does a good job of updating Easton's sound while staying true to his traditional country roots, and Easton keeps up that balancing act throughout the new album. That nod to tradition is a key ingredient in Easton's ongoing success.

"I have a lot of fans out there that tell me they appreciate me being true to who I am and keeping that traditional country flavor in there," Easton tells ABC Radio, "and I think that's very important, 'cause that's who I am. It really is."

While staying true to himself, Easton also worked to push himself on About to Get Real by experimenting with new sounds he'd never explored before.

He adds, "I think that you have to be fresh, and you've got to keep your sound fresh, and you've got to push the envelope. I think that's healthy, but you've got to keep that element of who you are in your music."

As for the album title, Easton chose to name it for a song on the project because, he says, "It just sounds good as an album title." He describes the title cut by saying, "The song really reminds me of a modern-day Conway Twitty song."

Look for Easton to perform "Baby Be My Love Song" on NBC's Today on Tuesday followed by another performance on Fox News's Fox & Friends on Wednesday. Getting up early two days in a row is rare for Easton, who is used to going on stage at night. So, how does he deal with those early morning call times?

"Well, usually you just don't go to bed. You know, if you're a country music singer you just stay up. You're still drunk," Easton says with a smile. "No, I'm joking. I'm totally joking. No, you better go to bed early."

Easton is also performing a pregame concert at Citi Field Tuesday night before the New York Mets take on the Chicago Cubs.

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockLee Brice's video for "That Don't Sound Like You" premieres Tuesday on CMT.

Congratulations to Dustin Lynch, whose single, "Where It's At," has been certified platinum for racking up one million streams and downloads.

Scotty McCreery has released the new single, "Southern Belle," as the lead release from his upcoming, third studio album.

Blake Shelton performs his song "Bringing Back the Sunshine" in the new NASCAR on NBC opening, premiering this Sunday.

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Dot RecordsSteven Tyler will release his first country video this Friday. The clip for "Love Is Your Name" will be previewed on ABC's Good Morning America that day before it goes live online.

Steven shot the video just outside Nashville. We hear he's still got those microphone stand scarves on full display as he makes the move into the country format.

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Pearl RecordsGarth Brooks' return to the concert trail has been very good for his bank account. Garth pulled in an estimated $90 million between June 2014 and June 2015 to take the #6 slot on Forbes' list of the World's 100 Top-Earning Celebrities. Taylor Swift is #8 earning $80 million.

Toby Keith is the next country act on the list at #32 with an estimated $53 million coming in. Jason Aldean ranks at #47 with an estimated $43.5 million, and Luke Bryan sits at #48 with $42.5 million earned.  Kenny Chesney ranks at #49 with a $42 million payday. Tim McGraw is 58th on the list with $38 million, and Florida Georgia Line ranks at #61 with $36.5 million. At #73, it's the Zac Brown Band with $32 million coming in. Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton each earned $28.5 million to tie at #95 on the list.  

Boxer Floyd Mayweather tops the list with $300 million earned in the last year.

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Valory Music Co.Thomas Rhett will release his sophomore album, Tangled Up, on September 25 featuring the lead single, "Crash and Burn." As you can hear in that R&B-influenced song, Thomas has expanded his range of musical influences in the past two years while working on Tangled Up.

He says, "The title, Tangled Up, comes from a lyric in one of the new songs, and I think it's a cool way to point to all the different influences that I have as an artist and a songwriter -- from soul and R&B to old school country to rock and everything in between. They are all in this record!"

"Crash and Burn" is on its way to the top 10 at country radio, but Thomas admits he was terrified about putting out such a different-sounding song. His dad, songwriter Rhett Akins, had some good advice for him as got ready to release it to radio.

Thomas tells ABC Radio, "My dad told me that, when I put it out, he goes, 'I think the song's a hit. Just prepare to be hated for about two weeks.' And he was totally right. When you do something different, people hate it until they don't."

So far, "Crash and Burn" has been selling better than any of Thomas's previous singles.

He adds, "Somebody likes it, and I love it, and that's really all that matters."

You can get involved in Thomas's creative process for Tangled Up by helping him choose the album cover. Four possible designs are now live at ThomasRhett.com, and it's up to you to vote for your favorite. The winning cover will be revealed in the coming weeks.

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Webster PRDue to popular demand, Dolly Parton has added a second show at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium coming up August 1. The first concert on July 31 sold out very quickly after tickets went on sale earlier this month.

While proceeds from the original show are going to Nashville's W.O. Smith School of Music, Dolly is donating funds from the August 1 to the Opry Trust Fund. Dolly has been a Grand Ole Opry member since 1969, and she wanted to give back to the institution that has means so much to her.

Dolly says, "It's important to me to be able to do a concert for the Opry Trust Fund as so many of my old Opry friends have benefited from it through the years. The money raised will go to help fund the medical needs and hospitalization for those who are not able to afford it and need the help. I am proud to be of help in any way."

Tickets for Dolly's August 31 concert at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium go on sale Thursday, July 2 at Ticketmaster.com and Ryman.com.

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Penny Mitchell
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There are MANY GREAT regional concerts throughout the year--who would you LOVE to see?
MONTGOMERY GENTRY!
Lady Antebellum
Dierks Bentley
Florida Georgia Line
Zac Brown Band
Luke Bryan
Kenny Chesney
Brantley Gilbert
Eric Church
Toby Keith
Brad Paisley
Other
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