Well, we had another awesome year at the ACM awards. I always get all the monikers for these awards confused. The ACM’s, sometimes called the ACMA’s, then there’s the CMA’s, the CMT’s. It’s confusing! Anyway, the ACM’s are probably my favorite because they’re in Las Vegas (which is like, Disney World for grown-ups – not that I’m necessarily a grown-up or anything) and everyone stays at the MGM Grand hotel. So basically you’ve got a dozen or so country bands trapped at the MGM with nothing to do other than to start drinking and hitting the slots.
One thing you should know about these award shows… There’s a whole lot of what we call “Hurry up and wait” going on. Each band is assigned a handler so that we can’t escape the backstage area and go back to our hotel rooms to take a nap, even though our TV appearance isn’t for another 3 and a half hours. These brave handlers (I’m talking about Kathie Gunn people) are volunteers who must literally stand guard at the dressing room door and follow you wherever you go. We’re always trying to outsmart these folks by splitting up into smaller groups or saying we have to go to the bathroom so we can run away. Which brings me to another point of interest about the ACM’s: Catering.
The only other place you’d want to go other than the dressing room is up the stairs to catering. The ACM’s have some sponsorship deal with Chipotle, the burrito joint, and so for 2 days all we eat is literally Chipotle burritos. It’s funny because Chipotle is probably thinking, “This will be a great opportunity for our company to promote the delicious offerings of our chain. All these country musicians are now going to go back to Nashville and frequent our fine-dining establishments!” Trouble is, everyone is real sick and tired of eating these burritos for lunch and dinner after a couple of days so it’s now a Nashville tradition amongst those of us repeat offenders of the ACM’s to only eat Chipotle once a year in Las Vegas. If I have to look at another pork burrito I might actually hurl.
Check out the look on Travis’ face as he downs his 300th chip of the week:
Of course, I get to have my hair and makeup professionally done which is one of the great joys of my life. Also, I get to catch up with all the other bands who have been captured and corralled backstage. I had a great chat with Taylor Swift’s fiddle player Caitlin Evanson who is super cool and sweet. I got to hang with all our friends from Carrie Underwood’s band and learned that her crazy red dress was actually a free-standing entity that had to be picked up and placed onstage – awesome! At one point I was sitting next to Kenny Chesney’s bassist Steve Marshall and had the shocking realization that we were both in fact wearing flip flops. (I’ve learned to keep a pair of flip flops on me to wear backstage up until show time at which point I don my high heels and then immediately remove them after our slot and put my flip flops back on.) For me, it’s a matter of practicality. For Steve, it’s a matter of style.
Here’s a portrait of our bass playing, flip flopping feet!
We played our song, which was fun. Jen won a special award for being the only woman since 1972 to write the Song of the Year by herself, which is truly phenomenal. And we won Duo of the Year! AND Jen especially thanked the band!!! It was really neat to be backstage watching the feed on the monitor, surrounded by all the other bands, and be personally thanked. It was a really special moment for me.
But what’s the best part of the ACM’s you ask? The after-parties of course! We all had a big celebratory dinner overlooking the beautiful fountains of Bellagio. Then it was back to the hotel to see where the action was. The action was in fact at Capitol’s after-party back at the MGM. Thad and I gate-crashed the bar after getting the secret code to get in from Little Big Town’s Kimberly Rhoads-Schlappman (who looks like freakin’ Marilyn Monroe with her new haircut – gorgeous!) We caught up with the rest of the Little Big Town gang and partied down! Unfortunately, in true Las Vegas fashion, the bar tenders were required as part of their job to jump up on the bar and dance once every fifteen minutes. You’d be standing there, talking to Karen Fairchild about how you’re gonna hang out in Nashville and drink margarita’s when you’d get a tap on the shoulder from the bar tender who was angrily gesturing that you needed to get your drink off the bar so he could do his dance. You awkwardly stare up at him from your seat and wait patiently for it to end. Sometimes I would try and dance along, like in this picture:
All in all it was a totally awesome time as usual. Can I just say how crazy it is that I even get to say that performing at the ACM’s is something that has become “usual” to me? Ridiculous! Hope y’all enjoyed the show as much as I did!