Monday, April 21, 2008


I'm not hugely into country music. But lately, I've been listening to a lot of it. Sorta. I'm totally obsessed with the new Kathleen Edwards record, "Asking for Flowers," the new Kim Richey, "Chinese Boxes" and the new Punch Brothers, "Punch." Especially the latter. Now, these are more along the lines of Folk and Bluegrass and Pop, really. Authentic Country music is all about the twang. I found this out first hand. At the CMT Music Awards, AKA National Celebration of Twang.

After arriving in Nashville, we discovered that Miley was sick with the flu and wasn't going to be at the rehearsal. We were worried for her, because she wasn't just singing one song, she was hosting the entire show.

The awards show was being held on the campus of Belmont University, which I attended for one semester back in 1998. That was a long time ago, but it still feels like home to me. My sister graduated from there as well, in the exact same building where we were playing. It was very strange to be back, especially since most of the friends I knew there had since moved away.

I decided to look for my old teachers in my down time. I couldn't really find any. I did, however, find Miss Tanya: the sweetest lunchlady you'll ever meet. I had such fond memories of seeing her smiling face every day. All the students were crazy about her. And she was still there doin' her thing after 20 years. And still the same incredibly kind Miss Tanya.

After waiting around for awhile, the band had a soundcheck, everybody got their levels, and it was back to the hotel.

Then I was free for the day, so I was able to go hang out with my sister Christina, her husband Doug and their friends Terrence and Tracy. We ate cake, told stories and watched a little Aqua Teens (MC P. Pants never gets old!). I see my sister about twice a year, and it's not nearly enough.

The next day, we headed back to campus, and sequestered ourselves in the Belmont Bruins locker room. This was basically the equivalent of our Kids' Choice tent. The only difference being that our tent was clearly marked as our tent, whereas it was a free-for-all claiming these rooms. Leann Rimes band members left their stuff in there, probably in an attempt to claim it. Didn't take.

Throughout the day, we met all manner of country stars: Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift (totally don't understand the appeal!), Snoop Dogg (?!?) and band members in mass quantities. Of course, it was mostly lost on me, as I don't know any of these peoples' music.

One thing we all noticed was that we were terribly underdressed. We had flannel, t-shirts, sneakers, jeans, etc, not to mention our bedheads. Apparently it is traditional among Nashvillians (or Nashvillains?) to get all dolled up in ultrafancy fabrics, supergelled hair and intense makeup. And I'm not even talking about the women. It was like metrosexual central. We were alternately impressed and embarrassed for them.

After another awards-show afternoon-of-waiting (we weren't allowed to leave again), we hopped on stage, where I saw Miley looking all glowy and perfect. Apparently she was feeling a bit better. I'm sure her doctors injected her full of vitamins. I can only imagine the crash she had the day after the awards.

We played our quick little song. And that was it.

We then headed back to the hotel and met at the bar of PF Changs, where the awards were still showing on TV (for some inexplicable reason, we didn't get the CMT network in our hotel rooms -- though we did get HBO. This is kind of strange for Nashville.)

During dinner, Carrie Underwood walked in the restaurant and all the waitstaff started buzzing about it. They practically stopped serving us at that point, as they were busy ogling her from the kitchen. Of course, they didn't care that Miley's band was there. Although one of the waiters thought Stacy was some guy from Survivor.

Fortunately, nobody said anything about me looking like Adam Levine. For once.

Now that I know what real twang sounds like, I realize that just because there's a slide guitar or a banjo involved in a song doesn't make it Country. And I'm grateful. That twang'll kill ya.

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  1. i watched this on rerun the other night and miley and billy ray's jokes were quite funny. and she sang quite well for being sick.
    but, i was wondering what you meant about taylor swift? i personally love her and have seen her many times in concert. wonderful girl.

  2. I love the twang! :)

  3. you look like adam levine...oops!

  4. I don't get the Taylor thing either.
    It was funny when Miley started to sing and then stopped and turned around like she was lost. What was that? Any swag? Again, another great, insightful blog. You rock Mike.

  5. miss tonya is basically amazing :) she can brighten up anyones day!

  6. Mike, the neat thing about country music is there is a lot of different sounds and most music fans can find someone they like if they give a close listen. It ranges from real twangy to almost no twang.....
    Gail B.

  7. Mike, thanks for your review of the CMT Award Show. I loved watching Miley and Billy Ray host the show. I had heard that Miley was not feeling well, but she seemed to be doing fine that night with the hosting. However, their "Ready, Set, Don't Go" performance wasn't as good as I've heard it in the past. You could tell that Miley's voice was a little hoarse and maybe they didn't rehearse it. I still loved it. The only disappointment was that I couldn't see you on the stage. I wish Miley and BR would have been standing right in front of the band so we could have seen you all. I like all types of music, but country is my favorite. There are so many different types of country and it isn't all twang. I think it would be fantastic to meet all those country stars, but you're probably use to being around famous people.

  8. go watch the acm awards and see taylor's performance. then you will see the appeal.