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It Wasn't Your Daddy's CMA Awards Show!

Posted: Nov 13, 2008

I could hardly wait to watch the 42nd Annual CMA Awards on the boob tube last night. Airing from Music City and hosted by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, the three-hour extravaganza featured performances by great country artists like The Eagles, Kid Rock, The Wailers and the guy from Hootie and The Blowfish. Wait a minute. I thought I said this was the Country Music Association awards? It just reinforces my belief that country music has officially merges with rock music, especially Southern Rock music.

There were some major highlights for me during the show. Like Macon, Georgia’s Jason Aldean, who performed “She’s Country.” The boy is Southern Rock. No two ways about it. And CMA Best New Group Lady Antebellum simply rocked the stage with Southern Rock style. They are just great.

Even the opening number, performed by Brad Paisley and Keith Urban, together for the first time, got into some twin guitars The Outlaws would be proud of.

Vocal Duo of The Year Sugarland was jexcellent as always, performing “Love.” They are one of my very favorite country acts these days, and Jennifer Nettles possesses the most unique twang since Reba McEntire.

The show wasn’t without it’s misses though. Miranda Lambert sat down to sing a ballad that seemed to just fade into the air. The girl is at her best when she is rocking songs about burning houses down and blowing things up.

Another disappointment for me was young Taylor Swift. Now, I really like this girl and she is very talented. I have her new CD in my review pile. But the over the top stage production of “Love Story” was cheese and crackers, with all the dancers dressed in their Amadeus clothes, and Taylor’s voice sounding less than stellar.

The Eagles drug their ancient carcasses out onstage and ruled, dressedin cool looking suits and ties. (did they steal that idea from The Boxmasters? And they should have HAD The Boxmasters on, given the year they have had!) Them Eagles sounded great on what could be their theme song, “Busy Being Fabulous.” (More than a little ego in this band, kids.) Don Henley still has the voice.

Nice seeing the adorable Reese Witherspoon, who has the Nashville crowd now and forever in her pocket after her portrayal of June Carter Cash a few years ago in Walk The Line.

Talk about “not your daddy’s country?” Kid Rock and his band performed his hit “All Summer Long," a mash up of Warren Zevon’s “Werewolve’s of London” and Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama.” Did somebody say “Where’s the country?” Ah, but it is all so fresh and different. Still, I miss Haggard and Jones. At least we still have George Strait, who took home several awards last night.

I really enjoyed Brooks and Dunn’s team up with Reba McEntire on “Cowgirl’s Don’t Cry,” and our old friend Darius Rucker (Hootie) knocked it out of the park with “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It.” I used to go see Hootie all the time, and Darius was always a country fan. He could just wail on some Haggard.

It was great to see Shania Twain again, looking no worse for the personal life wear. She presented entertainer of the year to Kenny Chesney, who really deserved it with that new album and tour. Earlier, he stole the show with Bob Marley’s Wailers as his backing band on “Everybody Wants to Go To Heaven” which segued into Marley’s “Three Little Birds.” Pretty awesome, actually.

James Otto was outstanding, Brad Paisley did a short but very sweet tribute to Jerry Reed, and Carrie Underwood brought the audience to tears with her Iraqi War victims song, “Just a Dream.”

All in all, it seemed like a whole lot more bang for your buck than you often get from awards shows. Tons of great performances from artists who are the torch bearers for the Southern Rock era. Folks who grew up on equal parts Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and George Jones. As Van Zant says, “My kind of country.”

Keep it Real. Keep- it Southern.

Photos by Larry McCormack and Sanford Meyers

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kennychesneyrocks says...

Kenny Chesney was awesome! Entertainer of the Year! Wooooooo.....

tennesseewaltz says...

I was there! Great write up. I agree Jason Aldean is a southern rocker. I also agree Taylor Swift and the Lambert girl were the weakest links. Like Copperhead I would have liked to see Vanzant. Great music.

copperhead says...

I'm with you Buff. That was a great show. I had hoped to see Van Zant but the show was good. I enjoyed most of it. Not a Taylor Swift or Kid Rock fan. Big fan of Hank III and he is the deal. Marty Stuart plays on his new CD. Loved the show overall. Thanks for the post I had forgotten it was on.

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