You could call it "An Evening of Nashville's Biggest Award Winners."
All three of the acts sharing the bill on Saturday, May 11, in the Jon M. Huntsman Center at the University of Utah won awards at last week's Academy of Country Music Awards presentation in Universal City, Calif.The Judds, Garth Brooks and the Pirates of the Mississippi shared a total of eight awards that night - six statuettes for Brooks alone.
The show coming to Salt Lake City next week is officially billed as Naomi and Wynonna Judds' "Love Can Build a Bridge" Farewell Tour - the title derived from the name of the mother-daughter duo's latest hit album, combined with the fact that Naomi is retiring following this tour because of health problems.
The Huntsman Center performance is something of a landmark all by itself. When the box office first opened a couple of weeks ago, it racked up the biggest first-day advance ever for the arena. All of the best seats are already sold out; only those behind the stage are still available.
But a Huntsman Center spokesman assured us that these seats, priced at $19.50, are not bad. There will be no backdrop along the rear of the stage, so patrons sitting there will still have a good view of the performers.
The Judds have been performing professionally together since only 1984 - but the award they won last week as Best Duo of the Year was their seventh consecutive ACM prize. In the past seven years they've collected more than 50 major county-western and music industry awards and have had 22 hit singles and eight best-selling albums.
Since 1984, Naomi and Wynonna have lived a rags-to-riches Nashville dream, coming out of obscurity with an upbeat song called "Why Not Me?" and first appearing on the lower half of a bill with the Statler Brothers (after hastily putting together a show and a band).
Then, last October, the dream came to an abrupt end. Naomi Judd, 45, was diagnosed as having chronic hepatitis. The illness has no cure and doctors recommended an extended rest - but Naomi insisted that the Judds go on one more "farewell" road tour before she retires and Wynonna heads out on her own solo career.
According to an interview by Rick Mitchell in the Houston Chronicle, Naomi will continue to write songs and possibly sing harmonies with her daughter on occasion, but the "Love Will Build a Bridge" tour and album will be their last together.
- GARTH BROOKS, one of the hottest young country acts around, was both stunned and a little embarrassed on April 24 when he won six ACM tropies - for top entertainer of the year, top male vocalist, best song, best single, best album and best video.
"A lot of people win a lot of awards, then you never hear from them again," he said. Brooks' first album got off to a slow start a year ago, finally picking up steam and selling more than 1 million copies after Capitol Records' Nashville division gave it top marketing priority. But his second effort, "No Fences," lunged out of the starting gate and turned platinum in 32 days, even climbing to No. 12 on the pop charts - rare for a country album.
One of the cuts on the disc, "Friends in Low Places" - which won ACM's best single award - almost didn't get recorded. "We passed on it at first, so the writer panicked and started shopping it around, and it ended up with Mark Chesnutt," Brooks said in a recent interview with Eric Snider of the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times. Then Brooks "told 'em if they didn't let me have it for the first single I wasn't gonna cut it at all, so they let me have it, but I almost missed out on the biggest song of my career."
- PIRATES OF THE MISSISSIPPI, a hot new quintet with Southern rock roots, has paid its dues on the country circuit.
The group's hard work has begun to pay off with major hits (such as "Feed Jake") and a ACM award for best new group of the year.
Country fans seem to like the Pirates' unique approach to recording and performing. In the studio and on stage, what you'll get is the five musicians - and that's about it. No hyped-up "high-tech" sounds, no gimmicks, just full-tilt boogie and good-time music.
Their garage-band sound has produced such hit tunes as "Redneck Rock 'n' Roll," "Talkin' 'bout Love" and "Honky Tonk Blues."
The Pirates' five musicians are lead singer Bill McCorvey, Rich Alves, drummer Jimmy Lowe (who claims to have buccaneer roots), steel guitarist Pat Severs and bassist Dean Townson. They started out as just a bunch of fellas having a good time - until producer James Stroud offered them a Capitol Records deal.
What tickets are still available may be purchased at the Huntsman Center box office and all Smith'sTix outlets.