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CMA Touring Awards honors handed out

Tuesday, January 29, 2019 – The Country Music Association presented industry honors at the 2018 CMA Touring Awards last night in Nashville, recognizing Country Music's top touring professionals. Louis Messina, CEO of Messina Touring Group, was honored with the CMA Touring Lifetime Achievement Award.

Messina received the honor for being an individual who has positively impacted and contributed to the growth of touring.

"This is quite an honor. I've been so blessed throughout my whole career," said Messina. "I'm going to steal an Eric Church line because last year when everything came through, we did over 100 stadium shows. I had a record year. I've been doing this for 46 years, but last year was crazy. I've always been a dreamer. The first time I saw Elvis I knew this was what I wanted to do. I saw him when I was seven years old."

"My big reward is not only seeing my dreams come true, but the artists I work for, seeing their dreams come true. We help create magic night after night. It's all about the artists, but it's all about everybody in this room too because when you put us all together, that's what magic is. When the artist and the audience connect and we're just that part of it, that's magical. I salute everybody in this room for being a part of what you all do. This is a night I'm never going to forget."

Michael Ray made a surprise appearance to congratulate his publicist Ebie McFarland of Essential Broadcast Media with the Publicist of the Year Award. "Ebie, you're a true visionary who's worked with and represented so many great people in this industry and top entertainers," said Ray. "You're respected by your peers and on behalf of all of your clients and everybody at EBM we are all not only better at what we do because we have you in our corner but we're better at who we are. Thank you for all that you do. We love you and congratulations."

Mike Kennedy, drummer for George Strait, posthumously won the Touring Musician of the Year Award. His wife Margaret Kennedy; Terry Hale, bassist for Strait and founding member of Ace in the Hole Band; Mike Anderson and Marty Slayton, also members of Ace in the Hole Band, accepted the Award in his honor.

Hale said, "I had the great privilege and measurable pleasure of standing next to Mike Kennedy every night on stage for 30 years. I'd like the thank his wife for sharing him with us."

"It's not a right, it is indeed a privilege to be able to do this for a living. I think everybody out here knows that, and I thank Mike Kennedy for sharing this with me."

After winning the Talent Buyer/Promoter of the Year Award, Brian O'Connell, Live Nation Nashville, gave a speech thanking everyone who accepted him to Nashville when he was starting out, especially the other nominees in this category that all contribute to the success of the touring industry. He concluded by bringing nominees Ali Harnell, AEG Presents, and Patrick McDill, Live Nation Nashville, plus Mike Dugan, Messina Touring Group, and David Kells, Bridgestone Arena, on stage to recognize each one individually for their accomplishments and passion for the industry.

Winners were:

CATEGORY 1 - BUSINESS MANAGER OF THE YEAR - Julie Boos (Flood, Bumstead, McCready & McCarthy, Inc.)

CATEGORY 2 - COACH/TRUCK DRIVER OF THE YEAR - John Stalder (Kenny Chesney)

CATEGORY 3 - FRONT OF HOUSE (FOH) ENGINEER OF THE YEAR - Kirk Kelsey (Keith Urban)

CATEGORY 4 - LIGHTING DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR - Philip Ealy (Kenny Chesney)

CATEGORY 5 - MANAGER OF THE YEAR - Kerri Edwards (KP Entertainment)

CATEGORY 6 - TOUR MANAGER OF THE YEAR - David Farmer (Kenny Chesney)

CATEGORY 7 - MONITOR ENGINEER OF THE YEAR - Cam Beachley (Miranda Lambert)

CATEGORY 8 - PRODUCTION MANAGER OF THE YEAR - Randy "Baja" Fletcher (Keith Urban)

CATEGORY 9 - PUBLICIST OF THE YEAR - Ebie McFarland (Essential Broadcast Media)

CATEGORY 10 - TALENT AGENT OF THE YEAR - Becky Gardenhire (WME)

CATEGORY 11 - TALENT BUYER/PROMOTER OF THE YEAR - Brian O'Connell (Live Nation Nashville)

CATEGORY 12 - TOUR CATERER OF THE YEAR - Dega Catering

CATEGORY 13 - TOURING MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR - Mike Kennedy (George Strait)

CATEGORY 14 - VENUE OF THE YEAR - Ryman Auditorium (Nashville)

CATEGORY 15 - TOUR VIDEO DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR - Jay Cooper (Kenny Chesney)

The CMA Touring Awards, originally called the SRO Awards, were created by the CMA Board of Directors in 1990 to honor outstanding professional achievement within the touring industry.

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