Meghan Linsey of Steel Magnolia recently revealed to Country Weekly that her singing partner and fiancée, Joshua Scott Jones, has successfully completed the rehab program that he checked himself into in late September for alcohol and substance abuse. Meghan says, “He completed his program. I think it’s a real brave thing. He’s done really well and stuck it out and did the whole thing. He’s got some other commitments to fulfill as part of that, but I’m proud of him. I’ve just tried to support him, and the fans and the label have been super supportive.” Steel Magnolia performed together at a recent benefit show at the Ryman, but there’s no word on when Josh will head back out on the road on a full-time basis with Meghan. In the meantime she will wrap up Reba’s All the Women I Am Tour this weekend with James Otto, who has been filling in for Josh while he has been in rehab.
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Tomorrow morning will mark the official first day of the CMA Music Festival, and Steel Magnolia, James Otto and Laura Bell Bundy will get things started early with the “Rise, Shine & Party Time” acoustic concert. The event will feature live music, autograph signings and breakfast for just $5. The first 250 people will get into the show for free.
James Otto announced on Twitter on Monday that he has parted ways with his record label. For the time being he plans to stay busy with his family and touring. He says, “I am looking forward to my upcoming USO Tour in Iraq and Kuwait, while pursuing some new opportunities with my songwriting career. I will continue booking and playing shows throughout the year, and since becoming a new Dad, I hope to catch my breath by spending time with my wife Amy and six-month-old daughter, Ava, who is about to crawl any second! I don’t want to miss it!” James assured his fans, “No worries Ottomaniacs, this is not the last you’ve seen/heard from me. Just a new chapter. Thanks for all the support & well wishes.”
There have been a lot of babies born lately to country singers – Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts, Josh Turner, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, James Otto – and Blake Shelton recently shared his theories on what’s causing the baby boom with CMT. Blake says Luke Bryan’s second child in his four year marriage is simple, “He married over his head.” Blake tells CMT, “He probably figures he’s got a hot wife, and she’s funny and cool. The only way he can really keep her is to try to get her pregnant. That’s what’s going on with Luke.” As for the rest of the guys, Blake blames all the babies on the weather. “There’s been several ice storms in Nashville lately. And the cable goes out and there’s nothing else to do. I mean, you’re sitting there with your wife or husband. You know if there’s nothing else to do, you’re probably gonna end up hookin’ up … Next thing you know, [Rascal Flatts'] Jay DeMarcus actually has a kid.”
A three-volume, star-studded tribute to the late Waylon Jennings will be released beginning February 8th, featuring some of country music’s newcomers, legends and current stars. The three volume celebration, THE MUSIC INSIDE: A COLLABORATION DEDICATED TO WAYLON JENNINGS, features artists paying tribute to Waylon by performing some of his most-celebrated songs. Every artist on the project possesses either a personal or professional connection to Waylon, and every performance was given the blessing of his widow Jessi and his son Shooter. Alabama even reunited to record “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” for the first volume. THE MUSIC INSIDE: A COLLABORATION DEDICATED TO WAYLON JENNINGS, VOL. I will be released on February 8th, with Volumes II and III to be released later in 2011. VOLUME I track listing: 1. This Time – Jamey Johnson 2. Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way – Alabama 3. I’m A Ramblin’ Man – Randy Houser 4. Belle of the Ball – Shooter Jennings 5. Good Hearted Woman – Sunny Sweeney and Jessi Colter 6. Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out Of Hand – James Otto 7. Just To Satisfy You – John Hiatt w Waylon Jennings 8. Rose In Paradise – Kris Kristofferson and Patty Griffin 9. You Ask Me To – Trace Adkins 10. Go Down Rockin’ – Waylon Jennings (Bonus Track) The Wurlitzer Prize (I Don’t Want To Get Over You) – Chanel Campbell
***NOTE LANGUAGE*** As a new dad, James Otto’s awareness about issues involving children has been heightened. Over the weekend he sent out a series of tweets that said, “Y’all heard about the dad boarding the school bus and threatening kids that we’re bullying his special needs daughter? Gotta say I’d wanna whoop a kids ass for that too! Kids are mean as hell sometimes. It’s been in the news. The dad was arrested. Sad story.” Many fans and even Laura Bell Bundy joined in on the Twitter discussion. James explained that the father said the bullying had been happening for years and his daughter was on suicide watch because of it. James admitted that when he was a very young kid, before he grew into his size, he was a victim of bullying. He tweeted, “I was bullied too cause I never had nice clothes as a kid cause we we’re (sic) poor & it went on through grade school. I remember hating school. By Jr. High I was big enough to whoop any kids ass that messed with me & it stopped. I’m surprised that there is no recourse for kids today.” James also sympathized with kids today because he said, “It’s harder for kids now cause they get bullied online too. So you go home but can’t escape it. There’s gotta be harsher punishment for this. I don’t understand the mentality I guess. Why pick on the weak? I feel for that dad. I’d wanna whoop the little bastards ass too! Schools need to be given the tools to put the hurt on these kids when their (sic) caught bullying.” Although he supported the dad for standing up for his daughter, James said, “To be clear I’m not actually saying parents should beat up bullies but I do understand the desire.”
James Otto’s new CD, Shake What God Gave Ya was released yesterday, and fortunately, he was also released from the hospital after checking in on Friday due to an unspecified abdominal illness. James tweeted yesterday, “I’m feeling like a different person compared to last week. God willing I’ll be ready to hit the.” road for shows this weekend. According to his publicist, “Otto is doing well and plans to be back on the road shaking it on September 17th in Hutchinson, Kansas.”
James Otto’s new album, Shake What Got Gave Ya is in stores today and James says, “That’s what I want you to do when you put this record on. It’s a feel good country soul album that hopefully makes you want to dance and get up out of your seat, and when you come to my show that’s exactly what I want you to do is shakin’ what God gave you. Cause we have a show that’s fun and upbeat and hopefully just makes you feel good. His new single is called “Soldiers and Jesus,” and James, who is a former Navy man, will soon be visiting some of our soldiers overseas. “We haven’t done a USO tour yet but it’s in the works now,” he told us. “We were going to go out in October but with a new baby it was just the wrong time for me to go. We want to go to Afghanistan and it was my request to go to Afghanistan, so we want to go for the guys that are at the front lines right now, the guys that really need entertainment. We found a window with the USO that looks like we’re probably gonna go in January and it’s something that I’ve been looking forward to doing for years and now that we’re in a position to do it, it’s a great thing. My dad is ecstatic about it and I love it and it’s just awesome.
Get well wishes go out to James Otto who was admitted to the hospital this week with some sort of abdominal illness. James released a statement through his record label that said: Dear Friends~ I want to share with you that I was admitted to the hospital yesterday for an abdominal illness and will be cancelling my shows this weekend– 9/10 in Clarksville, Tennessee and 9/11 in Berea, Ohio. I have been feeling badly on and off for a while now but didn’t think it was serious. Plus, I may have been a bit distracted by all the excitement of baby Ava’s arrival! I’ll be down for a few days but hope to be back in action and on the road again soon. All my best, James Otto
Congratulations to James Otto and his wife, Amy, who welcomed their baby girl, Ava Katherine into the world last night at 9:23pm in a Nashville area hospital. James had been on the road with Toby Keith and Trace Adkins but wrapped up his portion of the tour on Sunday, so he was able to be home for Ava’s birth and he said, “She is beautiful like her Mama, and I am already wrapped around her tiny finger.” Ava weighed in at 8 lbs., 2 oz. and is 19 ½ inches long.
Any minute now James Otto will become a daddy for the first time when his daughter Ava Katherine is born (her actual due date was yesterday). James says he plans to be a hands on dad, including changing diapers. “Whatever my wife needs help with, I’m going to be there for her. It’s my duty as a dad to do whatever is necessary, and I’m all about taking that serious.” And even though the thought of his unborn daughter dating is a ways off, James says he’s already started worrying about that because it’s never too early. He told The Boot, “I’ve kind of decided that she won’t date while I’m alive … I’ve already been practicing my lines. My favorite one so far is, “Whatever you do to her over the course of the night, I’m going to do to you when you get back. So y’all go out and have a good time.” I’m going to scare the hell out of every teenage boy who comes in the house.”
James Otto and his wife Amy are expecting a daughter, Ava Katherine, on August 23rd, but unfortunately James is on the road with Toby Keith and Trace Adkins on the American Ride tour, so he’s not home much to help plan for the baby’s arrival. James tells The Boot things are progressing while he’s gone. “We’ve got more pink stuff in our house than you would imagine. There’s a pink explosion at our house.” James won’t finish the tour until August 21st, two days before Ava is due. “It’s one of those things, if the baby comes early, I’ll be on the first flight home,” says James. “I’m taking a couple of weeks off right after the baby is born so I can be there to help Amy take care of her. I want to be there for the birth of my child for sure. It’s one of those things that you just don’t know how many times it will happen in your life, and I want to be there to experience it all.” But while he’s out on the road with Toby and Trace who are both fathers James plans to do some preparation of his own. “If they have some advice for me, I’ll be more than happy to take it,” he tells The Boot. “ It’s something that I think requires a lot of advice, and anybody who has put some years into it is going to have some good stuff to offer, so I definitely plan on picking their brains.”
James Otto wants you to Shake What God Gave Ya, that’s the title he has chosen for his next album, which he will release on September 14th. “Musically I’d say I’m the love child between Ronnie Milsap & Barry White,” laughs James. “This sexy, sultry, soulful sound makes you wanna move and dance. And that is exactly what I want fans to do while listening to this album!” James wrote 11 of the 12 cuts on the album including his current single “Groovy Little Summer Song” and a duet called “Good Things Gone Bad,” which features Ronnie Milsap.
James Otto is a singer, but he’s also a songwriter (he co-wrote “In Color”) and he’s fed up with people who are still downloading music illegaly. He recently vented on Twitter through a series of tweets. “I’ve known music piracy was rampant, but check it out,” he said. “This week I sold 7,500 singles, but 80,000 people stole it. No wonder so many of my friends in the business are losing their jobs. Kinda scary. Half the writers in Nashville can’t get a job anymore because of this. People pay five bucks for a cup of coffee, but not 99 cents for a song?” James apologized for ranting, but then he explained his concern. “I worry sometimes that a sense of entitlement is creeping into our society. Entitlement is the killer of creation. Why work if everything [is] free? This country was built on hard work by people expecting to be paid!” James thanked everybody who loves music and supports it and reminded his followers, “True music fans pay for the music they enjoy because they know musicians have families & bills like everyone else. Many talented people can no longer make a living due to piracy & others will never receive the opportunities they deserve because of it!”
Today marks the one year anniversary of the death of Michael Jackson. He died at the age of 50 due to cardiac arrest. His death came as a shock to almost everybody. Many country stars took to Twitter to express their thoughts when the news of his death broke. Here are what some of them tweeted that day: Taylor Swift – “It just doesn’t feel real. Everyone is walking around backstage saying ‘Have you heard?’” Reba McEntire – “A sad day for the world of music. A sad day for the world of television — losing Farrah, Michael and Ed McMahon.” Martina McBride – “My thoughts are with Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett fans. Ed [McMahon] too! My formative years wouldn’t have been the same without them. Angels, Thriller and ‘Heeeere’s Johnny!’” Jewel – “I got to stay at Neverland Ranch in ’03. Michael listened to my song ‘Stand’ and showed me his closet with original costumes — those iconic clothes. Amazing.” James Otto – “I listened to a little Michael Jackson tonight and I remembered what was so great in the first place. I wish I didn’t know the rest.” Heidi Newfield – “Sad day. Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. Hard to believe they are gone. Just reminds me to love and cherish our loved ones while we can.” Gloriana – “Michael Jackson — I loved him. R-I-P.”
Today through Sunday CMT is rolling out its BIG NEW MUSIC WEEKEND, with the debut of nine new videos on CMT, CMT.com and CMT Pure. The videos that will make their debuts are: • Lady Antebellum – “Stars Tonight” • Tim McGraw – “Still” • Reba – “If I Were a Boy” • Trace Adkins – “This Ain’t No Love Song” • Alan Jackson – “Hard Hat and a Hammer” • LeAnn Rimes – “Swingin’” • Gary Allan – “Get Off On the Pain” • Danny Gokey – “I Will Not Say Goodbye” • James Otto – “Groovy Little Summer Song” Each video will include an introduction by the artist, and will be the only videos aired throughout the weekend on CMT.
The CMA Music Festival will continue throughout the weekend in Nashville, with plenty of live music and shows for the thousands of country music fans who have descended upon the city. For those of you not in Nashville this week, ABC is capturing all the events on film and will be putting together a two-hour special called CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night To Rock, which will air September 1st, and it was announced last night that Tim McGraw will host that special. The Riverfront Daytime Stage line-ups will include: FRIDAY Rodney Atkins, The Band Perry, Bucky Covington, Eli Young Band, Jack Ingram, Patty Loveless, Craig Morgan, Sawyer Brown, Gretchen Wilson and Chris Young. SATURDAY Big Kenny, Lee Brice, Mark Chesnutt, Emerson Drive, Gloriana, Josh Gracin, Lorrie Morgan, David Lee Murphy, Joe Nichols and Mel Tillis SUNDAY The Bellamy Brothers, Sammy Kershaw, Lonestar, Jo Dee Messina, James Otto, Restless Heart, Steel Magnolia, Pam Tillis, Uncle Kracker and Darryl Worley. On the main stage at LP Field the nightly performance line-ups will include: FRIDAY Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Josh Turner, Kid Rock and Keith Urban SATURDAY Easton Corbin, Billy Currington, Randy Houser, Martina McBride, Rascal Flatts and Zac Brown Band SUNDAY Trace Adkins, Justin Moore, Brad Paisley, Kellie Pickler, Darius Rucker and Blake Shelton
While the CMA Music Festival doesn’t officially get underway until tomorrow in Nashville, the CMA will get the party started today with a parade in downtown Nashville, followed by a concert that will be free and open to the public, featuring Randy Houser, Joe Nichols, David Nail, Jerrod Neimann, Chuck Wicks and others. Brenda Lee will serve as the Grand Marshal of the parade and other artists who will ride in the parade include Rodney Atkins, Gloriana, Chuck Wicks, The Band Perry, Jerrod Neimann and James Otto. The parade kicks off at 11:30 and the concert will take place at 1:00pm.
One of the big attractions at the CMA Music Festival, besides the nightly concerts, are the stars who take time to sign autographs in the Greased Lightning Fan Fair Hall. This year some pretty big names, including Lady Antebellum, Tim McGraw, Darius Rucker, The Judds and Rascal Flatts will all take time to meet and greet their fans. For Tim this is his first autograph session during the festival since 2000, and the last time Rascal Flatts signed at the Fan Fair Hall was 2002. This year, to honor their ten year anniversary as a group, CMT will award the band with a plaque while they sign on Saturday from 2:00 – 4:00pm. The last time the Judds signed autographs at the festival was back in the 1990’s, when it was still called Fan Fair. Other artists who will be signing include Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Mark Chesnutt, Terri Clark, Gloriana, Julianne Hough, Patty Loveless, Jo Dee Messina, Joe Nichols, Jerrod Niemann, James Otto, Jake Owen, John Rich, Blake Shelton, Darryl Worley, Craig Morgan, Kellie Pickler, Danny Gokey, Randy Houser, Josh Thompson, Chuck Wicks and many others.
James Otto and his wife Amy are expecting their first child in August, and they’ve announced that they are expecting a girl, whom they plan to name Ava Katherine, after her mom, Amy Katherine. James also likes the idea that Ava and Otto are palindromes that can be spelled the same forward and backward. He says “you can’t beat it.”