Not all of the action at last night’s CMT Music Awards was televised. With positions both backstage and in the arena, Rolling Stone Country was keen to some seldom-seen moments — like Kristen Bell continuing to ham it up in her Alan Jackson costume after the oh-no-she-didn’t skit came to its close and David Nail professing his adoration for red-carpet gossip. “The thing I enjoy the most about awards shows is just running into everybody that you have the opportunity to catch up with,” Nail said. “See who’s pregnant, who just had a baby, who’s getting married, who’s getting un-married. You find out everything at awards shows.” Here are six observations that you didn’t see on the live broadcast.
Luke Bryan’s Chivalry and the Stars’ Standing O
When Cassadee Pope’s name was announced as the winner of the Breakthrough Video Award, the overcome 24-year-old and her pretty, but restrictive, gown had a tough time navigating the stairs from the artist area to the stage. Enter Luke Bryan, who quickly jumped up from his own seat to lend Pope his hand. Chivalry dead? Not last night. And the stars watching their peers perform were equally respectful. Following Eric Church and Lzzy Hale’s fiery run through “That’s Damn Rock & Roll,” the artist area rose as a whole to applaud the ballsy performance.
Lionel Richie’s Party Crashing
That determined man going from dressing room to dressing room backstage wasn’t a sneaky fan — it was Lionel Richie. “I’ve been in everybody’s dressing room,” he said. “Rascal Flatts – Gary and the guys – I figure wherever they are I’m gonna show up anyway. And the Band Perry. And Luke Bryan, I crashed his too.” In spite of his R&B legend status, the Commodore had no qualms about reaching out to his fellow artists. “I had two choices,” he explained. “They’re either going to be too intimidated to come over and say hello to me, or I’m just going to suck it up and walk in there and crash the party. So I just decided to go and say hello.”
Shhh, It’s Keith Urban!
Urban’s stripped-down take on “Cop Car” was one of the highlights of the night, but the sleight of hand that CMT orchestrated in making viewers believe the singer was actually performing not at the Bridgestone Arena but miles away at the intimate Bluebird Café nearly trumped the performance itself. During a commercial break, the Bluebird interior façade was wheeled out onto the floor, with lucky fans and extras chosen to fill the tables in front of the tiny stage. The rest of the real venue was commanded to stay quiet to sell the stunt, and, amazingly, fans complied.
Jennifer Nettles’ Girls Club
Not all backstage dressing rooms are an oasis of wine, cheese and cushy sofas. Even space can be at a premium. “I’m sharing a room with Kacey Musgraves and Lee Ann Womack,” said Jennifer Nettles, advising that any notion of cleanliness and order on such a busy show day be brushed aside. “Honey, you would see the carnage of hair and makeup slung everywhere,” said Nettles, who teamed up with John Legend and Hunter Hayes to reinterpret Legend’s “All of Me.” “It’s a party in there. It’s like a beauty shop.”
Lee Ann Womack Reveals Her Secret Guru
Prior to her duet with Kacey Musgraves on Alan Jackson’s “Livin’ on Love,” Lee Ann Womack admitted backstage that AJ is often her guide in the studio. “He’s such a great example to somebody like me,” she said. “I’m always going, ‘Should I use less fiddles? Should I use less steel guitar?’ And then I listen to Alan and I go, ‘No, I just need to be true to who I am,’ because that’s what he is, and it’s worked so well for him. He’s an inspiration to me.” Womack also revealed her secret plan for Musgraves: “I’m gonna adopt her. I’m taking out the papers,” she joked. “She’s from near my hometown. I have a great appreciation for her artistry and the fact that she really believes in putting music first. That’s not always easy to do in this business today.”
LBT’s White Party
During another commercial break, the sea of humanity on the floor parted as an army of people dressed all in white arrived en masse. At first, it looked as if either a Diddy white party was going to break out or a cult meeting was being called to order. But when the stage manager came over the PA to warn anyone who “doesn’t want to get dirty” to move away from the stage, it was clear all the plain white Ts were simply a blank canvas for painters Little Big Town, who debuted new single “Day Drinking” with a Day-Glo performance full of paint and colored chalk dust. Still, the stunt veered dangerously close to Spinal Tap territory inside the Bridgestone when the cloud of color fully obscured the band.