Best All-Star Audience: Ashley Monroe
Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert snuck into the balcony. Vince Gill stood against the wall downstairs. You know you're in for a good show when the crowd is dotted with stars who are actually there to see it, not to be seen. Ashley Monroe and her frisky, Fifties-style band treated the packed Nashville club 3rd and Lindsley to hardcore country of the highest order, from bruised ballads to rollicking honky-tonk numbers, most of them such strong songs that anybody in town would be proud to claim them. Ditto her fine-grained, down-from-the mountain vocal curlicues, and even her endearingly quirky song intros. Monroe dedicated "Weed Instead of Roses" not to the celebs in attendance but to her hard-of-hearing grandparents, who used to think it was a song about garden variety weeds. "I don't know why that didn't get played on radio," she quipped.