Country Star Trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockThe Academy of Country Music is not based in Nashville like the Country Music Association. Where are the ACM offices located? ANSWER: Encino, California.

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Tim McGraw Facing Backlash Over Sandy Hook Benefit Concert

Nino Munoz/Big Machine RecordsTim McGraw’s facing some online backlash for his scheduled performance in Hartford, CT this July -- a performance that benefits Sandy Hook Promise, an organization founded in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT, whose stated purpose is to help protect children from gun violence.

McGraw on Monday announced the show, dubbed the Concert for Sandy Hook Promise, part of his ongoing Shotgun Rider tour with supporting acts Billy Currington and Chase Bryant.  But because the show’s proceeds go to what some are calling a pro-gun control cause, the criticism from some parties has been harsh --  particularly from gun rights supporters, including the National Rifle Association, which tweeted, “Country musicians @TheTimMcGraw and @billycurrington to promote and play at gun control fundraiser.”

That NRA tweet, reported by the Washington Post, has since been deleted, but others from critical parties haven’t been.  Many critical comments were posted to McGraw’s Facebook page, with some noting the alleged hypocrisy of McGraw’s Shotgun Rider tour name, given the Sandy Hook benefit, though the “shotgun” in that context refers to a vehicle’s front passenger seat.

McGraw responded in a statement to the Washington Post, declaring, “As a gun owner, I support gun ownership.  I also believe that with gun ownership comes the responsibility of education and safety -- most certainly when it relates to what we value most, our children.  I can’t imagine anyone who disagrees with that.  Through a personal connection, I saw first-hand how the Sandy Hook tragedy affected families and I felt their pain. The concert is meant to do something good for a community that is recovering.”

The “personal connection” to which McGraw refers is his fiddle player, Dean Brown, a longtime friend of Mark Barden, whose 7-year-old son, Daniel, was killed in the Sandy Hook shooting.

Even so, the fallout was apparently enough to cause Billy Currington to back out of the concert altogether.  He posted a note on his own Facebook page, declaring in part, “I've never been one to take on controversial issues -- I'm a singer. I do feel strongly about honoring and supporting the Sandy Hook community and will be making a donation to a local organization.”

TIME magazine on Thursday named McGraw one of its 100 most influential people.

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Lead Nominee Miranda Lambert Feels Right at Home as the ACM Awards Take Over Texas

Image Courtesy Sony Music NashvilleMiranda Lambert grew up just 80 miles from Dallas, Texas, in the town of Lindale, so it's only fitting she is the lead nominee going into Sunday night's ACM Awards in nearby Arlington. Miranda has eight nods including Entertainer of the Year and Album of the Year for Platinum.

She says, "I feel like of all the times for it to be in Dallas, now is perfect for me because I'm still on a high from this album, and from everything that's going on. Now to be like, at home doing the ACMs, is kind of crazy."

As for that Entertainer nomination, Miranda adds, "That's what I said from day one when I started first playing the guitar and learning to sing. It was like, I really wanna be -- I at least want to be nominated for Entertainer of the Year at some point. Winning would be great, too."

Miranda is also a favorite to win her sixth consecutive Female Vocalist of the Year trophy this weekend. Look for her to perform on the 50th Annual ACM Awards Sunday night at 8 ET on CBS.

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Nashville Notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockTim McGraw will perform on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live next month. We'll keep you posted on exact airdate.

Martina McBride will headline the St. Jude Country Music Marathon & Half Marathon concert April 25 at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. 

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Florida Georgia Line “Blown Away” by First ACM Entertainer of the Year Nomination

Image Courtesy Republic NashvilleFlorida Georgia Line has their first-ever nomination in the Entertainer of the Year category going into Sunday night's ACM Awards. The duo's Brian Kelley admits he and singing partner Tyler Hubbard were "blown away" by the nod.

"That's something that we've been working for for a long time," Brian says. 'It's been a dream. It happened so fast for us. We're very, very blessed and honored. "

The nod comes just months after FGL released their sophomore album, Say Anything, and Brian says that project has made them step up their game on the road.

He says, "It's changed our show. I think there's just a new breath of fresh air with the whole tour, the whole crew. It's just exciting."

Fan voting in the Entertainer of the Year category is now open at The 50th Annual ACM Awards broadcast live from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas Sunday night at 8 ET on CBS.

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Randy Houser Gives Props to Pal and Tour Mate Luke Bryan in New House Band TV Episode

Image Courtesy Stoney CreekRandy Houser is on the road with Luke Bryan all year long on the Kick the Dust Up tour, but he still remembers when they were newcomers to Nashville trying to make it in the music industry.

Randy says in the latest installment of his House Band TV series, "We were playing bars around Nashville, sitting on stools playing our acoustic guitars. And then I get to see all the new toys he gets to go and play with every night and I’m like, ‘That looks like fun!’”

Could it be Randy is making the move to permanent headliner status in 2016? Check out his latest YouTube video to find out.

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