Tune in tonight for the CMT Awards!

I’m here at the CMT Awards working hard…or hardly working 🙂 Be sure to tune in tonight 8/7c on CMT. Red Carpet begins on CMT at 7/6c.

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CMT kicks off the summer with the 2015 CMT Music Awards live in Nashville on Wednesday, June 10, with Erin Andrews and Brittany Snow hosting. Carrie Underwood, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Jake Owen, Sam Hunt and Zac Brown Band are scheduled to perform.

Nominees for the 2015 CMT Awards…

Video of the Year
Carrie Underwood, “Something in the Water”
Darius Rucker, “Homegrown Honey”
Dierks Bentley, “Drunk on a Plane”
Florida Georgia Line, “Dirt”
Jason Aldean, “Burnin’ It Down”
Kenny Chesney, “American Kids”
Lady Antebellum, “Bartender”
Lee Brice, “I Don’t Dance”
Luke Bryan, “Play It Again”
Maddie & Tae, “Girl in a Country Song”
Miranda Lambert with Carrie Underwood, “Somethin’ Bad”
Sam Hunt, “Leave the Night On”

Male Video of the Year
Dierks Bentley, “Drunk on a Plane”
Eric Church, “Talladega”
Jason Aldean, “Burnin’ It Down”
Keith Urban, “Somewhere in My Car”
Kenny Chesney, “American Kids”
Luke Bryan, “Play It Again”

Female Video of the Year
Carrie Underwood, “Little Toy Guns”
Carrie Underwood, “Something in the Water”
Lee Ann Womack, “The Way I’m Livin’”
Miranda Lambert, “Little Red Wagon”
RaeLynn, “God Made Girls”
Reba, “Going Out Like That”

Group Video of the Year
A Thousand Horses, “Smoke”
Eli Young Band, “Dust”
Lady Antebellum, “Bartender”
Little Big Town, “Day Drinking”
The Band Perry, “Chainsaw”
Zac Brown Band, “All Alright”

Duo Video of the Year
Big & Rich, “Look at You”
Brothers Osborne, “Rum”
Florida Georgia Line, “Dirt”
Florida Georgia Line, “Sun Daze”
Maddie & Tae, “Girl in a Country Song”
The Swon Brothers, “Later On”

Collaborative Video of the Year
Blake Shelton featuring Ashley Monroe, “Lonely Tonight”
Brantley Gilbert featuring Justin Moore and Thomas Rhett, “Small Town Throwdown”
Jennifer Nettles featuring Brandy Clark, “His Hands”
Kenny Chesney with Grace Potter, “Wild Child”
Miranda Lambert with Carrie Underwood, “Somethin’ Bad”
Tim McGraw featuring Faith Hill, “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s”

CMT Performance of the Year
Bob Seger and Jason Aldean, “Turn the Page” from CMT Crossroads
Brett Eldredge, “Beat of the Music” from CMT’s Ultimate Kickoff Party
John Legend and Lee Ann Womack, “You & I (Nobody in the World)” from CMT Crossroads
Katy Perry and Kacey Musgraves, “Roar” from CMT Crossroads
Keith Urban, “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” from 2014 CMT Artists of the Year
Kenny Chesney, “American Kids” from Instant Jam
Lady Antebellum and Aloe Blacc, “Wake Me Up” from CMT’s Ultimate Kickoff Party
Lady Antebellum and Chris Stapleton, “Drink a Beer” from 2014 CMT Artists of the Year

Breakthrough Video of the Year
Chase Rice, “Gonna Wanna Tonight”
Frankie Ballard, “Sunshine & Whiskey”
Kelsea Ballerini, “Love Me Like You Mean It”
Maddie & Tae, “Girl in a Country Song”
RaeLynn, “God Made Girls”
Sam Hunt, “Leave the Night On”

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The Inaugural American Country Countdown Awards Oh Balls 2014 – The Most Accurate Review of the Awards

This is probably the most accurate review of the Awards aka a hot mess and yet another reason to drink….

Wait, what? Is this a thing? Why are we here? What is going on? First things first: American Country Countdown is a radio show currently hosted by Kix Brooks, of Brooks Brothers menswear Brooks & Dunn. It has been on since 1973, and was co-created by Casey Kasem (who is still not buried). It is “The longest-running radio countdown show,” according to the opening credits. But this is the very first American Country Countdown Awards. Why? Because it is a re-branding of the American Country Awards, which has a rich history going all the way back to 2010 when it was invented by the Fox Network. This awards show is younger than Icon in the Gulch. It is younger than Glee. It is younger than British moppets Sophia Grace and Rosie, who stole America’s heart with their cover of Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass.” It is also hosted by Florida-Georgia Line.

So, with all that in mind, tonight’s recap is brought to you by Beer, the official alcoholic beverage of my fridge. Beer: Drink It™. (Please drink beer responsibly.)

We kick it off with Carrie Underwood, a country music person I enjoy. She performs a medley of hits, because they make no bones about how she is here to promote a greatest hits album. I like “Before He Cheats,” one of the only contemporary country songs I know. It is about committing what likely amounts to a Class D Felony, a crime which, in the state of Tennessee, has a potential sentence of 2 to 12 years in prison and $5,000 in fines.

Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard are the hosts. They are Florida Georgia Line, which is the musical equivalent of a herpes drip falling directly into your ear. They walk to the stage looking relatively nice in suits, but no, these are tear-away stripper suits, and the poor female attendees have been instructed to rip their clothes away as they ascend up the aisle. It is exactly as classy as it sounds.

“It’s the big year-end party for country music,” they say. Everyone in the audience they cut to is drinking, so points for accuracy. They highlight the bar that is on set, mentioned in this article on HuffPo that was no doubt written by the most frazzled publicist in town. Not mentioned so far but written in that article is that “bro” is a secret word for doing shots. It is why everyone will say “bro” all night long.

Sara Evans presents the award for Male Vocalist of the Year. Oh my god, they literally count them down! It is a ranking! It is a sorority hazing! Luke Bryan is the winner, announced not by the opening of a tacky old envelope, but via Sara Evans flipping around a smartphone. This show is now instantly dated. I love it. It’s like a ’70s avocado kitchen or everything you wore circa 1999.

Bryan immediately performs. So if you paid any attention to who the performers are tonight at the opening of the show, you can probably suss out who the winners are. I did not pay attention and don’t really care to rewind. I don’t know this song, I think it’s called “Amish Rollercoaster.” He brings out Cole Swindell (a name that, as I noted in my recent CMA Awards recap, sounds more like some kind of crime from the Middle Ages). Swindell wears a very nice sports-y fan-boy baseball cap and looks like he probably does a lot of crunches.

Maddie & Tae and Scotty McCreedy, three people who are more famous than I am, give out Group/Duo of the Year. It goes to Florida Georgia Line. They do a whistle song and one of them is wearing camo cargo shorts and red sneakers. You know how poor Scott Stapp has gone crazy? I’m pretty sure it’s because these two burst forth from his skull like Athena from Zeus (if Athena and Zeus were garbage monsters) and nobody bothered to put his head back together.

“Here to rock our world live from the Twitter bar,” oh Jesus Christ, it’s called the Twitter bar, “With a Brooks & Dunn classic, Kix Brooks and Jerrod Niemann.” This recap is also brought to you by Google, because I cannot spell anyone’s name correctly on the first try. Wait, is Ronnie Dunn dead? *searches* Nope. Thanks again, Google!

Emily Kinney (from The Walking Dead) and Chase Rice (from your grocer’s freezer) present Female Vocalist of the Year. The winner is Miranda Lambert. I am pretty sure I like Miranda Lambert and will not make fun of her. She sings her song and gives an appropriately dismissive thank you.

Chris Young and current Miss America Kira Kazantsev (Thanks again, Google!) present the next award: Breakthrough Artist of the Year Presented by Samsung GALAXY.

The Breakthrough Artist of the Year Presented by Samsung GALAXY (Samsung GALAXY: Drink It™) is Kip Moore. Fun fact: Kip Moore means “nap longer” in British English. He’s wearing a white shirt (doesn’t look like a tuxedo shirt though) and undone black tie which is a pretty good costume! It tells a story. The story is he is a fancy man who went to a fancy party and now he’s home and unwinding. What was that party like? Were there other fancy people there? The only better costume would be an undone white tie with top hat and tails on a stool next to him.

Reba! Everyone loves Reba, me included. And Kix Brooks. I am opinion-less on Brooks. She is given the first ever “Nash Icon” award. Nash Icon, as we all know, was a long-running CBS series starring Don Johnson and Cheech Marin.

Brooks says that there is no fooling country music fans when it comes to the sincerity, integrity, and talent of the artists they support, which is debatable (see: Florida Georgia Line), but I will allow it for Reba. Oh God, he brings up her dad’s funeral? Needlessly dark, dude! I mean, what basically just happened is the Fox Network needed one-off content on a Monday night in mid-December, so now Reba McEntire gets to relive her father’s death. Anyway! Here’s Miranda Lambert and (Reba stepdaughter-in-law) Kelly Clarkson! (Confidential to Kelly Clarkson: if you would like me to be your friend, which I’m sure you do, the Scene will give you my number. No pressure.) One of the songs they sing is of course “Fancy” and then Reba comes and does “Fancy” too and “Fancy” is a real good song. Love “Fancy.” This whole show should just be a two-hour rendition of “Fancy.” (Confidential to Fox Network: if you would like me to take over your mid-December programming, which I’m sure you do, the Scene will give you my number. No pressure.)

Star of Fox comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine Melissa Fumero and Thomas Rhett count down Song of the Year. The Song of the Year, the only song ever, the best of 2014, is “Beat of the Music” by Brett Eldredge. He only sings, like, 90 seconds of it, which is fine with me. He thanks the songwriters and also The Bahamas. Not a joke!

Elf on the Shelf Hunter Hayes makes an appearance to announce Album of the Year. It is The Outsiders by Eric Church. To accept the award, Ponyboy and Sodapop come up and recite “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” but then the Socs crash the stage and Bob is knifecrimed to death. Don’t worry, though, everyone stays gold in the end.

To celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Gone With the Wind, Lady Antebellum appears to sing a song (presumably) about the grace and beauty and lost world of how people used to own slaves. (I will never ever ever ever let go of this band’s name. It’s trash and should make everyone with a soul cringe. The word “antebellum” has a very specific meaning in America, and it is not a meaning to be lauded. Lady Third Reich. Lady Apartheid. It’s okay to be German. It’s okay to be South African. It’s okay to be Southern! But maybe, just maybe, give two seconds of consideration as to which era of a region’s history you want to evoke (see: Prussian Blue). As repulsive as I find Florida Georgia Line, at least they did not name themselves The Plantation Boyz, you know?)

Anyway. Speaking of FLG Line, they are now dressed as “bad Santas” and make testicle jokes and bring Lady Antebellum BACK after the commercial break and man, just everyone should be ashamed of themselves. Pretty soon after Eric Church talks about how albums rock and $0.99 singles suck, Big Machine CEO Scott Brochetta is there to give Digital Single of the Year to Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan for “This is How We Roll.” Nice knowing you, Church.

Vince Vaughn‘s questionable hairline is the big contractually obligated celebrity of the night, and he appears to name Kenny Chesney‘s even more questionable hairline as a Ground-breaker. Hey, look, 20th Century Fox is distributing Vaughn’s upcoming film, Unfinished Business! This, my friends, is what is known as “synergy.”

Sports people. “NASCAR legend Jimmy Johnson” and MLB “Cy Young Winner and MVP Clayton Kershaw.” But I thought it was going to be three people because I misheard “and MVP” as “Andy McPete.” Haha, I like how stiff the baseball guy is. He is so cute and bad at this! Here, I made a Vine. The Artist of the Year, they tell us, is Jason Aldean.

Hank Williams Jr. closes out the show. They call him “Brosephus” but I typo his name as “Jank Williams, Jr.” which seems more fitting. He sings “Da Yah Wannaah Paaahtay?”, the old theme song to old Monday Night Football, a program that does NOT air on Fox. Boy, I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder. Thanks for reading, you sick masochists. See you next year. (Especially you, Kelly, call me!)

Source: Nashville Scene

Jill & Kate Set Release Date for Live Album

Jill & Kate have set the date for their much anticipated live album, Heart of Stone, for August 6th. The album was recorded live in Nashville, TN back in April, in which they share stories about all of the songs. Be sure to get your copy!

Check out their very first music video, What Do You Say that was released last week!

Driving in Nashville: Tips for Out of Towners

Revenant Publications

Tuesday morning as I drove to work, a car with Kentucky tags merged over in front of me and slowed down. The speed limit was 70, and Kentucky drove a whopping 60. Inspiration hit me. Out-of-state drivers may need a little help before heading to Music City, unless they want an ugly experience. Here are 10 rules to help tourists drive in Nashville.

1. On a four-lane interstate, the left two lanes are called fast lanes. If the speed limit is 70, you should go 75 in the third and 80 in the fourth. These lanes are also passing lanes, and people use them to pass. Most times, we’re pretty good at this, so just let us do our thing and everyone wins.

2.Unless you are in a school zone, always go 5 miles over the speed limit. Nashvillians like to drive fast, so it’s necessary to keep…

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Award Season Has Begun!

24 hours until the CMAs air live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN on ABC. The CMAs are bringing back Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood to host the show…I honestly could pass on Carries humor, but I’m not in charge of the show am I!? I’m sure with the election about to happen, we will have plenty of jokes to start out with. How about Brad coming out with his Binders full of women??…just sayin’.

Performances by: Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, Kelly Clarkson & Vince Gill, Faith Hill & Tim McGraw, Zac Brown Band, Hunter Hayes, Brantley Gilbert, Luke Bryan, The Band Perry, Eric Church, Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley and Little Big Town.

Lets take a look at the nominees. My choices are in bold.

Entertainer of the Year – Jason has had an amazing year and I would love to see him get the icing on the cake…if Taylor gets it – well, the world won’t end, since she won it last year.

Jason Aldean
Kenny Chesney
Brad Paisley
Blake Shelton – winner
Taylor Swift

Female Vocalist of the Year – Why is Kelly nominated? That’s what everyone is asking..well, you will get to see her perform her new country hit -“Don’t Rush” with Vince Gill during the show and she had a smash with Jason Aldean and Reba.. I’d like to see Miranda get this again, but I have a feeling Carrie will take it away with her recent album release.

Kelly Clarkson
Miranda Lambert – winner
Martina McBride
Taylor Swift
Carrie Underwood

Male Vocalist of the Year – I think Luke Bryan deserves it this year. Just plain and simple.

Jason Aldean
Luke Bryan
Eric Church
Blake Shelton – winner
Keith Urban

Vocal Group of the Year – tough call here. I think Lady Antebellum will take it with their successful “Own The Night” World Tour.

The Band Perry
Eli Young Band
Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town – winner
Zac Brown Band

Vocal Duo of the Year – Sugarland is usually the go-to for this award since they kicked out Brooks & Dunn, but Sugarland has been MIA on the radio scene. They have been touring and Jennifer Nettles was on “Duets” this summer but I’m hoping for a shift in this award soon. I’d love for Thompson Square to evolve more. They put on an amazing show and have some great songs. I’m throwing an arrow in the dark and saying Sugarland for this award, again..

Big & Rich
Love and Theft
Sugarland
The Civil Wars
Thompson Square – winner

New Artist of the Year – This award is also a shoot in the  dark. Each of these artists have done pretty well this year. Lee Brice has had some hit singles; Hunter Hayes had his #1 with “Wanted”; Love & Theft also had their hit “Angel Eyes”, but I don’t see them taking this award. I think they still need to grow as artists. Thompson Square is still growing as well. Brantley Gilbert is kicking off his headlining tour…I’m quite surprised..not really a fan, but I see him or Hunter taking this.

Lee Brice
Brantley Gilbert
Hunter Hayes – winner
Love and Theft
Thompson Square

Album of the Year –  Eric Church – “Chief”…so hard to pick!

Luke Bryan, Tailgates and Tanlines
Eric Church, Chief – winner
Miranda Lambert, Four the Record
Dierks Bentley, Home
Lady Antebellum, Own the Night

Song of the Year (Award goes to songwriters) – Hands down – “Over You” – beautifully written and knowing what it’s about just makes your heartache.

Eli Young Band, “Even if It Breaks Your Heart” – written by Will Hoge and Eric Paslay
Blake Shelton, “God Gave Me You” – written by Dave Barnes
Dierks Bentley, “Home” – written by Dierks Bentley, Dan Wilson and Brett Beavers
Miranda Lambert, “Over You” – written by Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton – winner
Eric Church, “Springsteen” – written by Eric Church, Jeff Hyde and Ryan Tyndell

Single of the Year (Award goes to artist and producer) – I want to say “God Gave Me You” but I think Eric will win this with “Springsteen”

Jason Aldean, “Dirt Road Anthem”
Blake Shelton, “God Gave Me You”
Dierks Bentley, “Home”
Little Big Town, “Pontoon” – winner
Eric Church, “Springsteen”

Musical Event of the Year – Kenny & Tim. They toured together and honestly, I don’t recall hearing any of the other nominees besides Taylor because of the Hunger Games.

“Dixie Highway,” Alan Jackson and Zac Brown Band
“Feel Like a Rock Star,” Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw – winner
“Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” Willie Nelson featuring Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson
“Safe and Sound,” Taylor Swift featuring the Civil Wars
“Stuck on You,” Lionel Richie and Darius Rucker

Music Video of the Year – Lord…between Eric and Miranda..

Eric Church, “Springsteen”
Kenny Chesney, “Come Over”
Miranda Lambert, “Over You”
Little Big Town, “Pontoon”
Toby Keith, “Red Solo Cup” – winner

Musician of the Year – yeah, about that…
Sam Bush
Paul Franklin
Dann Huff
Brent Mason
Mac McAnally – winner

See ya at the show!

The AMAs are next – Nov 18th @ 8pm and the ACAs are December 10th @ 8pm!

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Listen Up!! Literally – Jill & Kate’s Album “Heart of Stone” is Out!

If you haven’t heard of these ladies (Jill & Kate) – WAKE UP! You are definitely missing out!

Their songs are amazing to say the least and shut the front door – they write their own stuff! The way their voices blend together is like no other. You have to take a listen for yourself..Do it HERE!

Here’s a little background for ya…

Many know them as Kelly Clarkson’s background vocalists/guitarist. Granted, that’s a huge accomplishment and certainly helps at getting their name out, I highly doubt they needed that push to become successful. The three of them even started their own band, Already Famous. I’m guessing that project has been put on hold or maybe it was just a, “hey, let’s have some fun and record some stuff”, type deal. 

How they met: Jill Pickering and Kate Rapier met at the Contemporary Music Center on Martha’s Vineyard, an invitation-only artists’ colony that offers master classes in songwriting, recording, and performing. It was there on the Vineyard, they formed the acoustic pop duo, “JillandKate”. On most days, you can find “JillandKate” touring the globe and singing alongside Kelly Clarkson in her live performance band.

Why they are like no other… Of course, many are going to compare them to every female artist out there (Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Taylor Swift, etc), but the way they harmonize and flow together is pretty much perfection. You can find numerous “singers” out there today, but most cannot pull off acoustic performances as flawless as them. They never miss a beat or note. Jill is a skillful guitarist who makes playing look so dang easy – don’t you hate that? If you ever have the chance to see these girls live, DO IT! You won’t be disappointed and if you are I’ll refund your ticket – that’s how sure I am! 

Jill & Kate (or Kate & Jill – dyslexic ha!) balance each other out like nothing you have seen…and I gotta say they are  the most down to earth people I know…and pretty hilarious. What friend would encourage you to suck at times? Kate would! =)  Someone needs to write down the stuff that comes out of their mouth…Actually, I’m sure someone does!

To find out more info about Jill & Kate, click here. You can also order the album “Heart of Stone” there, as well on itunes starting today!

Listen to these: “What Do You Say”, “Burn It Down”, “Heart of Stone”

Six Years and Still Going Strong!!

“I dreamed of going to Nashville”.Ok..I didn’t exactly dream of going to one certain place, but I didn’t plan on staying in Florida forever either. Yes, we have the beaches, the white sand, and who can forget – Disney World!

I literally sat down with my parents one afternoon in May and said, “Soooo I’m moving to Tennessee and going to transfer to the University there.”…WHAT?!! I’m pretty sure my Moms heart stopped, my Dad may have been asleep, but this sure woke him up. The questions/concerns of Why? How are you going to pay for all of this? You will be too far. Why are you changing your degree? Can’t you go somewhere in the state of Florida? After the initial shock happened – things didn’t really settle. I had already sent my information to MTSU and had to go to TN to check it all out and see where I could live, etc. Mind you, I went to school in Florida for medicine, but then got into the music business and kinda feel in love with it…even though it’s quite difficult to stay in.

I drove up to Tennessee in June and ended up staying with one of my friends from high school – who moved to TN when we graduated. She showed me around and I fell in love with, “music city“. We also looked at the school and I signed my lease for my apartment. I went back home to Florida and I’m pretty sure my parents still didn’t believe me. I ended up having to go back to Tennessee in July for a mandatory orientation with my department at MTSU and received my ID for school. Finally, everything was official!! Super excitement all around!

The rest of the summer went by pretty fast. My dad and I ended up driving to Texas in the middle of the night because my Grandmother fell ill and had heart surgery. We surprised the heck out of her! She knew my dad was coming to visit, but didn’t know I’d be there. I hadn’t seen her in 3 years – when I graduated high school. She was the only one who said, “Go for it” when I told her I wanted to move to TN. We spent a few days in Texas and then we drove back to Florida a few days before I had to leave for Tennessee. On my trip to Texas, it set in that’d I’d be far away from my parents. I talked to a few of my friends to calm me down. I was worried something would happen to my parents and I wouldn’t make it back in time if I lived in Tennessee. Let me tell ya, that feeling never goes away!

The days flew by and I packed my room up. My car was packed to the max with everything I could fit in there. I was scheduled to stay at a hotel for a few days (Opryland) and then I’d be able to move into my apartment that weekend. I was leaving Florida at 2am to get to TN by check in time. I remember saying bye to my parents and I could tell my mom was trying not to cry. She kind of avoids conversation if she’s going to. I got in my car and pulled out of the driveway and pretty much balled the whole 12 hour drive to Nashville. It was crazy to think I wouldn’t be back until a holiday break to see my friends or family. It didn’t really hit me until I moved into my apartment a few days later. I was doing everything myself and had no family or friends nearby; except Jen, but she lived a hr away. I had to deal with every situation all by myself and was scared I would do something wrong.

School began and kept me quite busy and I ended up getting a job at the Wildhorse Saloon – fun times with great people who will always be apart of my life! I went to MTSU for Public Relations in the Recording Industry with minors in Pre-Law and Management – yeah, it was a lot of work! Thank God I got into the program and graduated. During my time in school, I had so many opportunities to work great events and meet amazing people – Blake Shelton, Martina McBride, Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, Rascal Flatts, Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban, LeAnn Womack, Sugarland, Carrie Underwood, Josh Turner, Reba, Jake Owen, Brad Paisley, The Backstreet Boys, Luke Bryan, Brian Littrell, Aaron Carter, Nick Carter and the list goes onLuckily, those connections have remained and I still get to work events throughout the country (CMAs, CMTs, Grammys, ACMs, etc). They never get old and no two are ever the same!

I literally went from 0-100 in a matter of 2 months. I was scared out of my mind I would fail and end up back in Florida after I graduated school, but I busted my ass off working at every event I could. I’m blessed to have an amazing job(s) and amazing co-workers who have become family to me. I could not have done it without the help of my family and friends. They get to hear about my crazy days and let me vent, thank you! I’ve met so many great people on my journey and it is still only the beginning. If these six years in Tennessee have flown by this fast and I’ve had this much fun; I cannot wait for the next six years! My life is absolutely crazy; but I love every minute of it. I have some wild and crazy stories that no one could imagine and they always get better!

Who can forget – my cousin – Kelly Clarkson…where it all began!

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[Spanx and the CMT Awards]

Well, it has come and gone – the 2012 CMT Awards were June 6th, –  followed by the CMA Festival. What a crazy week!

If you ever wanted to know what goes on backstage at an awards show or what in the world do those people in all black with headsets do – here’s the scoop…well, some of it! I can’t give you all the secrets!

I’ve worked award shows for 6 years now – all different from the last. It’s complete chaos, but organized chaos – at times. If you can’t handle being pulled in a million different directions – or being yelled at to get an artist to a certain area and then the next minute everything is calm – I wouldn’t recommend getting into show business. It’s kind of like running a marathon. You pace yourself until it’s showtime, then it’s balls to the wall!

You can tell when someone is a first timer – they have that nervous look in their eyes and the, “Who am I going to be with all day” anxiety.

We have a meeting in the morning and find out which artist we are with and get a “One Sheet” along with other paper work that will help us throughout the day. After that, it’s off to find your artist if they are on property or just chill until their call time. Sound easy, right?

Here is how my day went with Rascal Flatts at the CMT Awards!

We rehearse through the whole show right before the actual show starts – usually starts at 12 or 1. This can be a little hectic since some artists are late and rehearsals sometimes run late with certain issues happening. Luckily, nothing major happened…

Rascal Flatts call time wasn’t until afternoon, but they did have buses on the property. I went out to the first bus and knocked to see if any of their management was on there. It turned out Tiffany Fallon was on there (Joe Don’s wife). She is a down to earth sweet heart! She was preparing for the show on the bus. We chit chatted and I waited for the guys to arrive. Shortly after our convo, Jay showed up with his wife. Gary was the next to arrive with his daughter, Brittany and Joe Don arrived last.

The guys  were scheduled to rehearse right after Joe Don arrived. We headed to the arena and got set to rehearse with Journey. After rehearsals the guys headed back to the buses to get ready for the red carpet – We had about an hour before red carpet.

This is the sit and wait time. Nerves start to begin because it’s almost show time. This is also the time I run backstage and grab a quick bite to eat and run back to their buses. The reason we follow them around like a lost puppy? Many reasons! Mostly they could get lost and we need them in a certain place at a certain time. Eyes are always needed on every artist just in case we need them at any point and time. Maybe that’s why we look so serious…cause if we lose sight, it ain’t pretty =)

The red or purple carpet is always a big rush. You can’t hear well because fans are screaming and you also have to watch what time it is because when we leave the carpet, we go downstairs to more press, which is hectic. Usually you get blinded by the millions of flashes, but it’s all good. We made it through the photogs and headed to interviews on the carpet. Tiffany had said the guys are hard to keep track of because they go in all directions, as did their management – what fun it is to chase people around.

That brings me to SPANX…Tiffany brought up that she loves spanx…which led me wanting to smack her because first of all, the girl is a playmate and the size of my arm – but if you want to wear spanx…go for it.

We got off the red carpet about 6:30, which gave us 15 minutes to be in our seats…so much time – not really. We headed downstairs and hit all the media and other celebs, which everyone talks to each other – it’s like a huge high school reunion. This is usually when you start getting the, “we need so and so in their seat” aka where are they and you better move them fast 🙂 Thankfully, their management was awesome and we worked well together by moving the guys through media and getting them out into the audience.

During the show we wait until our artist leaves their seat to perform, present, leave, or just come hang out backstage. Once the show begins, you can take a deep breath – until they move. When artists start moving around backstage during the show, it gets crazy. Thankfully, the guys didn’t move too much during the show. So it was basically a huge break until they performed. The guys came back to get ready for their performance, which was the finale. Being the last performance was perfect because once it ended that was it.

My feet hurt, hell, my body hurt from running around all day, but you never pay attention to it because you are so busy and it’s such a blast.

So that’s my story of the CMT Awards. Award shows are always a blast no matter how tired you are afterwards. I hope you enjoyed the show and if you went to CMA Fest, I hope you had fun and plenty of booze! Good times for sure!

CMT Awards/CMA Fest 2012

It’s almost here..less than a month away. ARE YOU READY NASHVILLE!??

Let the madness begin with thousands of fans parading downtown Nashville for 4 days!

It all begins June 6th with the CMA Fest Parade that travels down 10th Ave, then down Broadway. After the parade a Block Party (free show at the riverfront)…That night is also the CMT Awards – held at the Bridgestone Arena.  I’ll be backstage guiding those lovely artists around in circles and to interviews…basically making sure they don’t get lost and getting those limes and plastic cups for Kenny Chesney…never fails! I’m hoping not to get run over by Keith Urban this year…crazy driver…but he looks so good doing it!

And the nominees are: (My choices are in bold)
Video of the Year
Jason Aldean — “Dirt Road Anthem”
Kenny Chesney Featuring Grace Potter — “You and Tequila”
Toby Keith — “Red Solo Cup”
Lady Antebellum — “We Owned the Night”
Miranda Lambert — “Over You”
Brad Paisley With Carrie Underwood — “Remind Me”
Rascal Flatts Featuring Natasha Bedingfield — “Easy”
Blake Shelton — “God Gave Me You”
Taylor Swift Featuring the Civil Wars — “Safe & Sound”
Carrie Underwood — “Good Girl”

Male Video of the Year
Jason Aldean — “Dirt Road Anthem”
Luke Bryan — “I Don’t Want This Night to End”
Eric Church — “Drink in My Hand”
Toby Keith — “Red Solo Cup”
Blake Shelton — “God Gave Me You”
Keith Urban — “Long Hot Summer”

Female Video of the Year
Sara Evans — “My Heart Can’t Tell You No”
Miranda Lambert — “Over You”
Martina McBride — “I’m Gonna Love You Through It”
Kellie Pickler — “Tough”
Taylor Swift — “Ours”
Carrie Underwood — “Good Girl”

Group Video of the Year
Eli Young Band — “Crazy Girl”
Lady Antebellum — “We Owned the Night”
Pistol Annies — “Hell on Heels”
Rascal Flatts — “Banjo”
The Band Perry — “All Your Life”
Zac Brown Band — “Keep Me in Mind”

Duo Video of the Year
Love and Theft — “Angel Eyes”
Montgomery Gentry — “Where I Come From”
Sugarland — “Tonight”
The Civil Wars — “Poison and Wine”
Thompson Square — “Glass”
Thompson Square — “I Got You”

USA Weekend Breakthrough Video of the Year
Lauren Alaina — “Georgia Peaches”
Brantley Gilbert — “Country Must Be Country Wide”
Hunter Hayes — “Storm Warning”
Scotty McCreery — “The Trouble With Girls”
Pistol Annies — “Hell on Heels”
Thompson Square — “I Got You”

Collaborative Video of the Year
Best video that featured a special collaborative appearance by artists; awarded to the artists (individual, group or duo)
Kenny Chesney Featuring Grace Potter — “You and Tequila”
Brad Paisley With Carrie Underwood — “Remind Me”
Rascal Flatts Featuring Natasha Bedingfield — “Easy”
Lionel Richie With Shania Twain — “Endless Love”
Taylor Swift Featuring the Civil Wars — “Safe & Sound”
Zac Brown Band Featuring Jimmy Buffett — “Knee Deep”

CMT Performance of the Year
(Musical performance on a television show, series or variety special on CMT)
Jason Aldean — “Tattoos on This Town” from 2011 CMT Artists of the Year
Lady Antebellum — “Dancin’ Away With My Heart” from 2011 CMT Artists of the Year
Little Big Town — “Fix You” from Music Builds: The CMT Disaster Relief Concert
Blake Shelton — “Footloose” from Invitation Only: Blake Shelton
Sting and Vince Gill — “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You” from CMT Crossroads: Sting and Vince Gill
Steven Tyler and Carrie Underwood — “Just a Dream/Dream On” from CMT Crossroads: Steven Tyler and Carrie Underwood From the Pepsi Super Bowl Fan Jam

CMA Fest begins Thursday, June 7th. Get ready for lots of drinking, loud music, screaming fans and sweating your bootays off! It’s well worth it though! The riverfront shows begin at 10am on Thursday with Montgomery Gentry kicking it off. The best thing about it? The shows are free at the riverfront. Those with a CMA Pass do get in 30 minutes early, but it really doesn’t make a difference.

Check out the Riverfront lineup here: http://ww1.cmaworld.com/cma-music-festival/lineup/chevrolet-riverfront

To be honest, I’m more excited about the riverfront shows than LP Field…Soaking up the sun on the river with beer! Nothing beats that!

Lets not forget about the Bud Light Stage at the Bridgestone! Lineup: http://ww1.cmaworld.com/cma-music-festival/lineup/bud-light-stage

LP Field Lineup: http://ww1.cmaworld.com/cma-music-festival/lineup/lp-field

There is tons to do during the CMA Fest and I’ll be posting with updates around town on my twitter. so follow me 🙂 Don’t forget about the bars in downtown Nashville. Amazing artists are performing all around town! Fan Club Parties will be happening as well!…..so much to do, so little time!!

Remembering That You Are Going To Die Is The Best Way I Know To Avoid The Trap of Thinking You Have Something To Lose.

Today is a hard day for two reasons:
1. I’m having my third knee surgery in 6 months today.
2. Today has been 15 years since my brother (Ricky) passed away from cancer.

Many don’t know the story of my brother or didn’t even know I had a brother. It was hard for someone my age to be asked, “So do you have siblings”. Umm yes, no, well I used to. I always said no when I was younger, but I now always say that I lost my brother to cancer. I don’t want sympathy, but I don’t want people to think I didn’t have the blessing of knowing/having a brother. There are only a handful that may remember because they went to school with me and the whole 6th grade class was told what was going on.

Ricky and I were like normal siblings – It’s a love hate relationship; don’t touch me, you never talk to me, why are you ignoring me, why won’t you let me hang out with you, you’re so cool cause you’re older, etc. My brother was adventurous and pretty laid back. He enjoyed being outside and being with friends. He also ate the weirdest foods…I’m pretty sure he did it to gross me out. When we lived in Indiana we always went running into the huge corn field behind our house, sledding, four wheeling, fishing, playing video games or riding our bikes. Probably the biggest memory I have is singing karaoke with him. He would always sing New Kids on the Block – haha! I have proof!

He loved music, the screaming rock kind…For some reason that didn’t pass over to me, thank God. Ricky went to my Girl Scout Graduation. It made me so happy he was there. I followed him around all of the time…to the point of annoyance, which started the bickering. I even followed him up mountains and caves 0_O.

Rewind 16 years ago…I was 11 years old, so bare with me.

It was spring of 1996 – He was having pain in his left shoulder. My parents took him to the ER, but I didn’t go. I think it was the next day or not too long after that, Ricky came into my room and said he had cancer. Ewing’s Sarcoma, to be exact. Ewing’s Sarcoma is a very rare bone cancer and very aggressive. He asked me if I knew what cancer was and I said, “Yeah, that’s when your cells are all messed up, right?”. I was close! It became a big blur of the hospital, the Ronald McDonald house, washing your hands non-stop and staying with my Grandmother a lot after that.

They decided to do treatment at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, FL, which is 3 hours away.. (Home of the Gators). Radiation was quite interesting – it was like having blue tattoos everywhere. Chemo was also done and the top of his knee got burned because some of the chemo spilled on him. I didn’t know much of what was happening, just that he was sick and he had to stay at the hospital for a long time. I thought the Ronald McDonald house was so cool. It had a pirate ship out in the back to play on and the place had plenty to keep you busy. I also stayed home with my Grandma, who lived nearby, so I could keep going to school. My parents and brother seemed to be gone forever at a time. Then it was just my mom and brother who were gone.

Fall was right around the corner and Ricky had to get a bone marrow transplant. After the transplant, things became very strict on what he could be around and what he couldn’t. I remember him wearing his hospital mask at times. One night we ordered pizza and I doubled dipped into the sauce and he yelled at me because he couldn’t have any after that. Opps…

My birthday was next and we were deciding how to have a party since my brother couldn’t be around so many people. We decided to have it at the skating rink – Oh the 90s! During the party, a girl fell in front of me and I was going too fast to move out of the way and I went flying. My friend Jill fell on top of my left arm and guess what? It broke. By that age, I had broken my leg once, my right arm twice and my left arm three times. Habits are hard to break, but bones aren’t. I went to my mom who asked me if I could unbutton my pants – I had broken my arm so many times, she knew this would tell her if it was broken. I couldn’t twist it and the workers got me ice. I finished out the party with a bang by entering into the skating race. After the party, we made our way to our second home, Blake Hospital, to get an x-ray. It was broke and I was put into a sling and casted shortly afterwards.

The next few months I can remember like no one else.

My family left for Gainesville one day and the neighbors watched me until they got home that night. My mom sat me on the couch and told me there was nothing more they can do for Ricky and he would die from the cancer. None of the treatment worked. Being so young, I didn’t really react. I just said, “Oh.” No one close to me had died before. I didn’t comprehend what was going to happen. I went to school the next day and told some of my friends and they had the same reaction. Life went on normally after that. Christmas was right around the corner and my mom had always wanted a dachshund, so Ricky decided to get one for  her  for Christmas. My dad, Ricky and I went to go look at the mini dachshund he was going to get her. I was still in a sling from getting crazy at the skating rink and we put the puppy in my sling while she slept. I then said, “She is the size of a twinkie!”. Therefore, her name became Twinkie. We picked up Twinkie a few days later and Ricky placed her in a picnic basket and gave it to her right before Christmas.

After Christmas, it went downhill pretty fast. We tried to keep busy and not be stuck in the house depressed about the situation. Ricky had to start using a wheel chair because of the pain. We went to the Cortez Fishing Festival to walk around and get him out of the house one weekend.  His friends would came over to keep him company and give my mom a break. It was harder on family and friends to visit because you don’t know what to say sometimes and you didn’t know if he wanted you there or wanted to rest, etc. It’s not like the movies. You just do the best you can do.

Ricky had a wish to meet Dennis Rodman (Chicago Bulls), but after his stent of wearing a wedding dress, Ricky said no thanks! The Make-A-Wish Foundation worked out a trip so we could go to Chicago and see family and friends in Indiana and go to a Bulls game. It was mid-Feb and I was in math class – Mrs. Harwood to be exact, and a message came for me to go to the front of the office. Mrs. Harwood looked at me and she knew what it was for; it meant the Make-A-Wish trip was now! I packed my backpack and headed out. When we got home my mom said she had packed my bags already (she forgot my underwear, thanks mom) and a limo would be at the house shortly. Everyone was quite excited to get away and see some family and friends back in Indiana. The people from MAW were so nice. We headed to Sarasota Airport and boarded the flight. We arrived in Chicago about 8pm and checked into the Marriott Hotel. The hotel was amazing!

The next day we went to the Chicago Bulls practice before their game with the Charlotte Hornets. Ricky got his photo with the cheerleaders -he turned red.

We went back to the entry of the locker room for the Bulls. I didn’t know what to expect or who we were meeting at all. I’ve always been a huge sports fan though! Scottie Pippen then came out of the locker room – the most down to earth guy in the world! He gave Ricky a Chicago Bulls bag with goodies and signed a pair of his own shoes, hats, towels, anything basically. We then took photos with Scottie and headed to our seats for the game.

Ricky fell ill near the end of the game, so we left early to the hotel. Our family and friends got to attend a Dave and Busters night with us as well. Our last day, we went back to Indiana to visit more family and friends. Everyone knew this would be the last time they’d see Ricky, but never said a word about it and didn’t act differently at all. It was nice to have a normal evening with everyone.

We flew back to Florida and I went back to school. Spring Break was right around the corner and I was excited to spend it with friends and get out of the house. Ricky started to get worse with pain and barely eating. The news channel came to our house to interview Ricky one day. He mostly stayed in his room in bed. There were times in the middle of the night I’d hear him awake and I’d go check on him. One night we stayed up real late watching t.v. Ricky had never talked about him being sick or what was going to happen. He then asked me that night what I thought about all of this happening. I just said it’s sad and I don’t want to think about it. They ended up moving his bed to the living room and Hospice started coming in to give him shots and to check on him. The Hospice nurse ended up being my friend Jesse’s mom.

Spring Break started and I spent my days playing basketball or riding my bike with friends around town – the normal kid stuff. My parents told me one night that my hamster had died – I had a million hamsters when I was little; some were quite crazy and adventurous. Pastor Steve came over that same night my hamster died and we sat down at the dinner table with him and he said, “You need to tell Ricky goodbye.” He thought maybe Ricky was hanging on because we weren’t telling him it was Ok to go…I never told him it was ok to go.

Friday, April 4th – I was heading out the door that morning to the Fire Station where they had most of the spring break kids in the area hanging out to play games. When I walked passed Ricky’s bed, he asked me to take his socks off, so I did. I told him bye and I’d see him later. I left for the day and came home close to dinner time. I sat down on the couch to watch some t.v. – right across from Ricky’s bed. Twinkie went running into my room and wouldn’t come out from underneath the bed. My parents went into their bedroom. I turned on Home Improvement-I was in love with JTT and had his photos all over my bedroom wall – don’t judgeIt was the episode where JTT might have thyroid cancer. Ricky and I talked and laughed about some stuff because our mom started having thyroid issues when I was born – I’m such a pain!

April 4th, 7pm – My mom came out to check on Ricky. I was still sitting on the couch watching tv. Another episode of Home Improvement was about to come on. I watched my mom lean over and say, “Ricky”. He didn’t make a sound. I knew it had happened, but for some reason I just sat there calm and watched her. She said his name again, still nothing. She then yelled for my dad and said, “It’s happened”. She was crying and screaming. I still couldn’t move. A neighbor came over and took me into my parents room. I can’t remember if I was crying or not. The neighbor insisted we play a game to keep my mind off of everything. I walked out into the living as they were wheeling Ricky’s body out. I ended up staying at my grandmothers that night, who lived down the road. I hated being away from my mom. I knew she was heartbroken and I just wanted to help her and make it all better.

My Grandma and I stayed up all night. We laid in her bed and I just asked her questions. I asked her if Ricky was watching now and she said I promise you he is. I told her I just want him to watch mom. I went home the next day and arrangements were being made for family to come in. The funeral was set for Tuesday. Aunt Shelly and Uncle Robby from Colorado flew in and so did my Aunt Sharon from Texas. My mom came into my room one night and said that Ricky would be in a casket at the church and we’d be able to see him and it would be ok.

Tuesday, April 8th – I got dressed for the funeral and went to go get Aunt Shelly and Uncle Robby. Uncle Robby drove us to the church. My Grandma and Aunt Sharon drove separately. My mom, dad and I sat in the back of the car. I wasn’t sad; I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. This was the first funeral I had ever been to. We got into the turn lane to pull into the church and I saw the hearse parked out front. Uncle Robby stopped the car right next to the hearse so we could get out. When we got to the entrance of the church, a couple of men from the funeral home asked my parents if we wanted some alone time first. They insisted we go in first for a little bit then the rest of the family and friends will come in after we are done. I remember looking into the church and I could see the casket, but not Ricky.

We walked down the aisle of the church and it finally hit me, Ricky was gone. I didn’t want to walk any further. We got up to his casket and I just cried my eyes out. I tried so hard to hold it in. My mom gave me a yellow rose to put on him. Ricky gave my mom yellow roses when I was born. I felt like I was going to fall on my knees and pass out. Family and friends then came in and Aunt Shelly sat next to me. I couldn’t stop crying. I remember not wanting to look at anyone – all I could focus on was Ricky laying in front of us. A couple of my teachers came to the service and gave me a stack of cards that my entire 6th grade class had made me. I read some of them while I was sitting there. I still have them in a box to this day. The funeral seemed to last forever. I couldn’t pay attention to what Pastor Steve said at all because I was just watching Ricky. Alabama’s “Angels Amoung Us” was played and so was Kevin Sharp’s “Nobody Knows”. Kevin Sharp sent Ricky an autograph photo and even had the same type of cancer as Ricky. The funeral was about to end and the Pastor gave Ricky’s last words to us. I remember him saying something to Chucke, who was Ricky’s best friend. Pastor Steve then said my name, but I couldn’t focus. All I remember is something about staying in school and going to college – btw – Check! Ricky wanted my mom to know he loved her so much and he wished he could take her with him. That is when I started to sob.

The funeral director asked if we wanted to leave the casket opened after service and my parents said to close it. Deep down I didn’t want that. I knew that would be it. They moved the casket to the hearse and we walked out of the church.

It was over – just like that. It was the fastest year of my life. He died a month before his birthday. The cancer got him in less than a year. I didn’t understand a lot of it when I was little, but  as I got older I became more interested medicine. When I went college I started to volunteer for organizations who help with families that go through this – Give Kids the World at Disney, Ronald McDonald House, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Working with these groups helped me overcome the sadness I felt. I didn’t hate God. I just didn’t understand why.

Everyday I wonder what Ricky would be doing now. Would he be married, have kids, live in Florida still, what if he never had cancer? Then I wonder would I still be in Florida, would I have become a volunteer, would I have helped other families going through the same thing we did? I probably would because I love helping people, but I wouldn’t have the personal experience that others don’t.

There is no doubt I miss Ricky. I miss the trips we went on when we were little, the bike rides, racing each other, him helping me, picking on me, and being the annoying brother he was. He will always be a part of me and I will never ever forget the memories we made. Thank you for making me a strong willed person today and showing me what it means to live life to the fullest.

RIP Ricky…I love you and I miss you so dang much.

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This was just a short summary of what happened in my life in 1996-1997. I left a lot out that I’d like to keep to myself because believe it or not, I’m a private person. For those of you who have gone through something similar, stay strong. It never gets easier like they say.