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Last night was the season finale for Gone Country 2.
Actually, the series hasn’t even started airing yet on CMT, but they were taping the final episode “live” at the Wildhorse Saloon. (Gone Country 2 airs on CMT beginning August 15, 2008 and the season wraps up on September 25, 2008.)
We were there for the first season of Gone Country as well. That show’s final taping was also at the Wildhorse Saloon. And I must say, it was kind of fun watching all of the episodes on CMT after seeing the finale in person. But Jim & I definitely had the wrong “winner” picked for last year’s Gone Country. (Julio Iglesias Jr. won it.)
Here are my photos and reports on who sang which song, and how each performer did at the season finale of Gone Country 2…
Our Vantage Point
Few were supposed to be up by the stage (only those with green or orange wristbands), but I snuck past the ropes and scored a spot front & center — directly in front of the microphone.
Jim stood on the right side of the stage — the same place we stood last year.
We were both armed with high-powered cameras & enough flash power to light the place on fire.
Unfortunately, the stage hands and TV producers threatened “no flash photography from the front row” several times in the hours leading up to the show. And when another average-Joe photographer started taking pictures without a flash, they still made her move to a less-desirable spot on the other end of the stage.
I didn’t want to be singled out and moved, so I tried to lay low with my relatively big camera.
My shots without a flash leave a lot to be desired, but I got a few good ones. But, to top it all off, Jim (who had the long-lens and high-powered flash and was in a prime spot to take some great shots all night) forgot to charge his battery — which promptly died 2 shots after the first performer took the stage!
Okay, now onto what you’re really interested in: who sang what and how they looked!
John Rich, The Host
First up was none other than John Rich himself.
He was the “opening act” so to speak.
He put on a decent show, performing a few songs including: “Drivin’ Myself To Drink”, “Lost In This Moment”, and a new song, “The Man” (which he dedicated to his grandfather who died last year at the age of 80 and 1 day after saying he’d live to be 80). He made a big deal about that song all night (in the down-time between performers) and how he’s going to make that song a hit even though most would say that a song like that isn’t likely to be a hit. Why? Because it’s a rebellious song with this message: If it weren’t for our WWII vets, we’d all be speaking German and living under a Japanese flag.”
Other interesting things John Rich said on this night:
- “Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy” and “8th of November” never broke the Top 10. Proof that you don’t need a #1 hit to be remembered and have an impact as an artist.
- We’re living in NashTennie (personally, I like NashVegas better…)
- Nashville is a drinking town with a music problem. (love that!)
- “I feel sorry for people who don’t drink, because when they wake up in the morning, that’s the best they’re going to feel all day.” — John Rich
- Gone Country (the first season) was CMT’s highest rated series ever!
John Rich performed a handful of other songs (including “Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy”, which really got the crowd going!) in the down-time while we were waiting for the next performer to come on stage.
Celebrity Performers In Gone Country 2
These are the celebrities who took part in the show and appeared on stage at the Wildhorse Saloon for the season finale.
They performed in this order:
Irene Cara (Grammy and Academy Award-winning singer, songwriter and actress best known for her role in Fame) — not at the final taping. I’m guessing that since she’s not in any of the cast photos, and according to Episode 2 there was some “late night friction between the cast members that could change the house forever”… Irene Cara left the show before Episode 3. Songwriters paired with: Gary Chapman and Sharon Vaughn
Nashville Muckety-Mucks Who Were There
Ten guys had “official” seats off to the side of the stage, and they were acting as judges for the night. Most of them, we weren’t familiar with. I guess they were to take their notes and get back to John with them — at which point the winner would later be determined.
The judges were:
- James Otto of the Muzik Mafia and a recent recipient of a #1 Country Radio hit: “Just Got Started Lovin You“. (Excellent CD, by the way. We got it the first day it was released! Haven’t stop listening to it since.)
- Lon Helton – representing Country Music Radio
- Greg Oswald – the Senior Vice President at William-Morris Agency
- Gator Michaels – the Senior Vice President of Promotion at Warner Brothers Records
- Charlie Pennachio – a representative of the Muzik Mafia
- Gary Overton – the President of EMI Nashville
- Rob Beckham – booking agent with the William Morris Agency
- Clint Higham – manages several artists with Morris Management Group, including Kenny Chesney
- Dale Morris – president of the Dale Morris Management Group
- Herky Williams – VP of Creative Services & Membership at ASCAP
Our $.02 On The Logistics Of The Event
Overall, (in case any of the powers that be associated with Gone Country are reading this), Jim and I feel that last year’s taping of the series finale was much more organized, and much more enjoyable as well. This year, they tried to be so “structured” about everything — starting with the line to get in. For example, the door to the Wildhorse gift shop should have been marked “VIP entrance” — as it was clearly being used by all of the family members and guests of the stars. Seeing so many people go inside just led to a lot of confusion by all of us ‘nobodys’ who were having to wait in line for WAY too long. (Doors were supposed to open at 6:30PM. They didn’t.) Ineffective.
The “Red Carpet event” should’ve been optional, rather than mandatory and the reason that we all had to wait in that long line. Basically, those who arrived first got to stand at the front of the line to get in for the show’s taping. Which meant they were the only ones who could see anything that was going on with the Red Carpet event. You see, the street was blocked off — so no one but the reporters and the first few people at the front of the line could actually see anything that was going on at the Red Carpet . Tacky.
And who the heck knows why show producers worked so hard to keep people from rushing to stand in front of the stage area? For the first hour or so after they let everyone in, they only allowed a couple of dozen “VIP’s” (and me — I just went up there without asking) stand up by the stage. Later, they practically begged people to come up front and stand by the stage because the place looked too empty for filming. We must’ve gone through about a half dozen “Please… we need more people up front. Please, everyone move up front here.” After they’d just spent the last hour or so keeping people back! Unorganized.
This year’s Gone Country finale also wasn’t as good as last year’s for another reason… That is, the celebs weren’t permitted to really engage the crowd by singing a song that they’re already well-known for. Perhaps that’s because only half of the performers even have such a song (Sebastian Bach, Jermaine Jackson, and Chris Kirkpatrick). The others are relatively new in the music biz, or have earned their celebrity status by acting — rather than singing. Nonetheless, that was a big part of what made last year’s Gone Country finale so good. Bummer.
Finally, why was there so much down time in between performers this year? It seemed to take forever for the celebs to make their way to the stage. It’s not like they had to set up the stage differently each time or go through a test of the music set-up. John Rich is a pretty good host, and did a good job of trying to keep everyone entertained, but still… downtime is wasted time. Boring.
UPDATE: And The Winner Is…
Tonight (Sept 26, 2008) was the TV airing of Gone Country’s 2 season finale. This was the first opportunity we all got to hear who the winner of season two’s Gone Country is.
And the winner is: Sebastian Bach!
Cool. Jim and I were pulling for either him or Chris Kirkpatrick.
One interesting thing is the fact that CMT almost immediately aired Sebastian Bach’s full-length video for “Battle With The Bottle“. We just caught it playing while channel surfing. And we were thrilled to see one of our favorite songwriters, Jeffrey Steele performing all throughout the video with Sebastian. (Jeffrey Steele and Vicky McGehee co-wrote Battle With The Bottle with Bach.)
And just for kicks, here’s a video of Sebastian Bach warming up for the season finale of Gone Country 2 at the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville.
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