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As part of a business promotion we are affiliated with (Jim and the Hoosier Thunder Motorsports team have teemed up with CMT to run a special contest called Trick My Crew… more details here), we scored tickets to the CMT Awards Show Monday night at the Curb Center here in Nashville.
What a blast!
You weren’t supposed to take cameras in, but somehow mine (and a few hundred others) got past security. To give you an idea… the security guards sent me to the camera check-in counter once they saw that the only thing in my bag was a Nikon camera, zoom lens, and super flash. However, I just walked right past that desk and went on into the show instead. I guess hundreds of others did too, because there were flashes going off all night long. (I think they were just trying to keep the flash bulbs to a minimum, since it was a live TV show. But still….)
Here are the results of my sly photo-taking skills…
Mind you, it wasn’t easy snapping shots from about 500 feet away from the stage.
Plus, I had to keep the camera under wraps most of the time, so it wouldn’t get confiscated mid-way through the show.
I’d say less than half of the performers chose to walk down to the end of the stage that was closest to us — the area nearest the mash-pit. Instead, most of the performers stayed about 1,000 feet away on the main stage that was large enough to accommodate all of the band members and their instruments.
The awards themselves were all handed out to the far left of us. And, beyond that, was the side-stage where a different big-name group would play us out to commercial each time.
Interesting Things We Noticed
I don’t know if it’s just because the Curb Center at Belmont University is such a small venue or what, but the show itself was definitely better on TV than in person. (It was already re-airing on CMT when we returned home that night around 1AM. And it will probably re-air several times a day every day for at least a week.)
It was still a great show in person, but we couldn’t hear half of what the presenters and award recipients were saying. Like these great quotes, for example. There is no way we could make out what they were saying during the show:
Alison Krauss and Robert Plant won Wide Open Country Video for Gone, Gone, Gone (Done Move On). “I’d like to thank (the song’s writers) Phil and Don Everly for getting me through my teenage years and I’d like to thank Alison for getting me through my late 50s,” Plant said after accepting the award.
Bon Jovi and LeAnn Rimes won collaborative video for “Till We Ain’t Strangers Anymore.” “I wish Jon were here tonight. I had a lot of fun rolling around with him in bed,” Rimes said in accepting the award. “I had no clothes on all night and I was freezing,” she added backstage. — Reuters
You couldn’t help but notice the big screens overhead… but you also couldn’t help but notice that they weren’t being used throughout the majority of the 3-hour show! For the longest time, the powers that be didn’t air anything at all on the big screens — until we got to Kelly Pickler‘s acceptance speech via satellite.
Typically, at shows like this, they’ll air behind-the-scenes views during the commercials or something. Not this time. They actually made one attempt at this, but you couldn’t hear anything. And they did a split-screen cut into 3rds, which resulted in very small views. It didn’t last long.
You’d think they would’ve shown close-ups of the performers throughout the entire show. You know, as a benefit for those sitting farther away from the stage, or just for alternate views of the stage and the live performances. But no… there were 3 big screens that I noticed, and they simply showed a blank screen with the CMT logo most of the time. Ugh! I think it was the last 2 or 3 performances when they started to air close-ups of the performers on the big screens — as if it were an afterthought. But it was definitely appreciated by all.
Jim and I had a lot of fun trying to spot the stars in the audience. I’d say Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban were the highlights of the night for many people. She stood out like a Hollywood starlet in her fancy red gown. He wore something equally snazzy, along with a wallet chain, which he kept a firm grip on while the pair was leaving. (Question: Is Nicole pregnant or not? Where’s that baby bump?)
Now The Rest Of The Photos…
Click photos for larger views.
Next up were LeAnn Rimes who sang “Nothin Better To Do“, followed by Rascal Flatts singing “Bob That Head“, and then a pretty cool musical event featuring Sugarland, Little Big Town and Jake Owen singing “Life In A Northern Town“… sweet!
Tim McGraw and Faith Hill appeared much earlier in the line-up than we thought they would. Together, they sang their duet, “I Need You“. They turned the lights down really low for this one, so pictures from our faraway location were next to impossible. Here are my best ones.
Alan Jackson‘s was an uneventful performance. You always get classic Alan Jackson… all the time… every time. But Brad Paisley brought out Hank Williams Junior as a surprise guest. Together they sang “I’m Still A Guy“. That was fun. Unfortunately, none of these guys ventured on down toward our stage.
A couple of the interesting presenters were Snoop Dogg and Jason Aldean. I sure do wish I could’ve heard what they were saying. I’m sure it was funny. (Here’s what Snoop said after the show.) And Trace Adkins was the perfect gentleman when he accepted his award from Reba McEntire.
Next up… Taylor Swift sang “Picture To Burn“. Talk about a fun performer to watch! She’s a cute little thing that is full of smiles and you can’t help but have a good time watching her energetic performance. (That third picture of Nicole Kidman above… that was Nicole’s reaction to Taylor Swift’s amazing stage presence!)
Then came Toby Keith. Personally, I was surprised to see him at this awards show. Glad he was there, though. He brought some interesting controversy to the stage. You see, this girl jumped onto the stage from the audience, and she started dancing right in front of TK. He was kind of playing along and continuing to sing… up to the point where a strange-looking security guard took her away.
I’d say, half of the people in the crowd thought it was staged. The other half thought it was real. I think it was staged. For example, I didn’t see any other security guards wearing bright yellow slickers like this guy was. And the 2 guards (only one is pictured here) acted really strangely — like they didn’t know how to handle the situation — until one finally sent the other one on stage to get the job done. It was just weird. A good show, though.
The closer for the 2008 CMT Awards Show was Carrie Underwood. She sang “All American Girl“. Despite the pink lights they handed out to the mash-pit area, and the streamers, fireworks, and loud booms they set off to signal the end of Carrie’s song and the end of the night’s show… I thought her performance was just so-so. Her voice was dead-on… In fact, Jim and I think she’s about the best female vocalist in Country Music right now. But her stage presence on this night was quite boring… she usually steals the show. That’s okay, it doesn’t change how much we like her.
Ch- Ch- Ch- Ch- Changes!
Next year, the CMT Awards Show moves back to the official concert center on Broadway in downtown Nashville. (This year, there was a hockey game: Nashville Predators vs. Detroit Redwings — the Preds won!)
Not only would a larger venue be better for a major show like this. But we like how the stars tend to linger around the downtown clubs when they’re already there for an event.
Plus, the atmosphere (and parking) is just different downtown — it’s much better.
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