Coming up this week on WIDE OPEN COUNTRY…

Very few artists can sustain a hit-making career that lasts more than a few years, but KENNY ROGERS is truly an exception.  Making music since 1958, “The Gambler” scored a late career hit with “Buy Me A Rose” on this date in May of 2000.  At the age of 61, the song made Kenny the oldest Country singer at the time to land number one record.  The song also helped fellow singers ALISON KRAUSS and BILLY DEAN collect their first #1’s, as the two sing harmonies on the track.

Rick Diamond, Getty Images

The year is 1966 and a band a with a new sound that blended country, rock, bluegrass, and gospel is formed in Long Beach.  While the band has gone through dozens of changes in their musical line-up...which originally included Rock-n-Roll Hall of Famer JACKSON BROWN...they still tour today and still amaze their audiences with unparalleled instrumentation and vocal harmonies.  On this date in 1966, THE NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND made their professional performance debut at the Paradox, a folk-jazz coffee house, in Orange, California!  If you’re up for a road trip, you can see The Dirt Band at Turning Stone Casino in Verona, NY on May 19th.

On this date in 1997, Decca Records Nashville launches the career of a young lady who once used to help pick out records for her father to play while dj-ing on the radio in Texas.   With material packed with the power of hit songwriters like MARK CHESNUTT and RICKY SKAGGS, LEE ANN WOMACK burst onto the scene with her debut self-titled album.  Lee Ann will be on tour this summer with Alan Jackson...closest stop, Erie, PA on September 13th.

You never forget your first.  Certainly this date brings back memories for JASON ALDEAN, who made his debut on the stage of the Grand Ol Opry on this day in 2005.  Jason performed his debut release “Hicktown” written by fellow rebels BIG & RICH.  Aldean brings his “They Don’t Know” Tour with Chris Young and Kane Brown to Darien Lake on June 3rd.

Cooper Neill, Getty Images

Happy Birthday Hootie!  Former frontman of the Grammy winning band Hootie and the Blowfish, DARIUS RUCKER turns 51 today.  Rucker launched a successful solo career in Country Music in 2008...including everyone’s favorite singalong, a remake OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW’s “Wagon Wheel”, featuring LADY ANTEBELLUM singing back-up.

Finally, sad news rang across the prairie on this day in 1975, as the music world mourned the loss of the “King of Western Swing”.  BOB WILLS was recording an album with fellow legend MERLE HAGGARD when he suffered a stroke which left him comatose until he passed away in ‘75.

Don’t miss WIDE OPEN COUNTRY, brought to you by JOE BASIL COMMERCIAL TRUCKS in Depew, Saturday mornings from 6-9am on Country 106.5 WYRK!