MANY IN THE country music industry were shocked -- and a couple even outraged -- that Randy Travis was shut out at the Country Music Awards last week in Nashville.
Up for entertainer of the year for the fourth time, Travis, who hosted the show with Reba McIntyre on NBC, was once again snubbed in favor of George Strait.
But to hear the ever-humble Travis tell it, he won't lose any sleep over something he never had.
"Awards are a funny thing because you always feel great if you win one but you never seem to feel too awful when you don't," Travis says. "It's nice to be recognized by your peers and the industry, but shoot, if I never win another one I will have gotten more than my share of awards."
A typical quote from country's favorite son, who has been the Country Music Awards' male vocalist of the year twice and has two Grammys.
Travis, who will appear at the Baltimore Arena Saturday night, has just completed an album of duets called "Heroes and Friends." Featuring a bevy of country celebrities, and several off-the-wall heroes, such as Roy Rogers, Clint Eastwood and B.B. King, the latest effort has the Travis' stamped all over it.
"It took us more than two years to put it together but it was really worth it," Travis said. "I give all the credit to my manager, Lib Hatcher, who acted as a record company person, a mediator, a travel agent, a lawyer and almost anything else just trying to get everything coordinated. It wasn't as easy as just picking out the songs and the people to sing them with."
Travis was especially thrilled to work with King, whom he called "truly a legend and a guy who's every bit the person that he is a musician."
"But every one of these people I have nothing but respect for," Travis said. "I came to Nashville 12 years ago and most of these people, like George Jones, Dolly Parton, Conway Twitty, Merle Haggard and Loretta Lynn, had already made quite a name for themselves. Sometimes I was a little star struck to be in the same studio with them."
But despite his modest approach, Travis found most of the project to be a pleasant boost to his ego.
"Everyone I asked to be involved dropped what they were doing to help me and be on my record," Travis said. "But there are still some other people, like Reba, that I'd love to record a duet with. Maybe next time."
(The Randy Travis concert begins 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $21.50 and are available at TicketCenter outlets or by calling 347-2010. Ricky Van Shelton and Shenandoah will also perform.)
The concert calendar . . .
At Max's On Broadway: Marianne Faithfull (tonight), Phranc (tomorrow), Steve Morse (Sunday), Robyn Hitchcock (Oct. 25), Mary's Danish (Oct. 28), Soup Dragons (Oct. 29) and Kelly Willis and Radio Ranch (Nov. 1).
At Painters Mill: Little Feat begins a three-show stint tonight.
At Hammerjacks: Kix (tonight, tomorrow and Saturday), Vixen and Electric Boys (Sunday), Slaughter (Oct. 28) and Face Dancer (Nov. 21).
At the Network: Blushing Brides (Saturday) and Social Distortion (Nov. 4).
The Capital Centre in Landover heats up next month with Fleetwood Mac (Nov. 7), Poison and Warrant (Nov. 13) and AC/DC and Love/Hate (Nov. 18).
Conway Twitty performs at the Arena on Nov. 10.
In College Park, Jane's Addiction will appear at College Park on Nov. 16. The Iggy Pop show for Halloween has been canceled.