Here's the CST perspective on the CMAs tonight.
8 p.m. - Kenny Chesney starts off the CMAs as the hippies get off the bus with "American Kids." Chesney sounds good and is on acoustic guitar as people are dancing around him. Not sure about the hippies dancing. Looks too forced, but the song itself sounds fine. Lively, bouncy. You can see it'd be a perfect stadium singalong.
8:03 p.m. - Miranda Lambert with Meghan Trainor singing "All About That Bass," but didn't realize that it's a country song. Actually, they give it a bit of a country vibe, I got to say. Nice duet today, but the song is rather dumb, of course. Hey, there's even Dobro, fiddle and upright bass. Now, those are instruments you don't see in country music these days. Blake Shelton likes it. No surprise there. Way better than I thought it would be.
8:06 p.m. - How many people think Brad Paisley will make a joke about Carrie Underwood being pregnant?
Okay, Carrie is already getting emotional about George Strait and retiring. Sounds like she's been acting. Paisley gets singing with Carrie. Duets album coming? Corny jokes there with Underwood saying Strait's "really in this room right now," while Paisley keeps singing. "You need to accept that he's gone," Paisley said.
"George, I'm pretty sure that when someone rides away, they're supposed to somewhere," opined Paisley. Strait really is there.
8:09: "I'm Carrie Underwood," she said. "And we're pregnant," interjected Paisley. He wants to know whether it's a boy or a girl. She supposed whispered the sex of the child. "Suck it TMZ," Paisley said.
8:10 p.m. - Corny song of "Jolene" about the Maine nurse who was quarantined due to Ebola. "I hope she's not a country fan," sang Paisley.
Paisley said they were talking "about Post Partum Taylor Swift Disorder...I'll be the first song to say it, President Obama does not care about Post Partum Taylor Swift Disorder. I think that's why the Democrats lost the Senate."
The two then sang "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes" about the departure of Swift for pop music and New York City. "Taylor, if you ever want to come back, there's a seat for you here," Paisley said.
Underwood and Paisley then did another jokey song to Johnny Cash's "The Man in Black" about inappropriate selfies.
8:17 p.m. - Aerosmith's Steven Tyler comes out and announces single of the year - Miranda Lambert for "Automatic." Lambert gave her usual thanks to all including country radio and how it has "a special place in my heart." No big tears from Lambert this time!
8:23 p.m. - Lady Antebellum plays their hit "Bartender." Lively, sounds good, but it tends to not be very country, of course. But that's what passes these days. Some nice lead guitar licks from a braided lead guitarist.
8:27: - Florida Georgia Line sings "Dirt," their most different song and most country sounding song. They're both on acoustic. The performances have been fine thus far tonight. Brian Kelley sings with a big drawl. Sort of reminds me of Lyle Lovett ever so slightly. Must be the hair. I like the guitar line. Good job from a band I don't particularly like.
8:34 p.m. - Keith Urban out there, showing his guitar licks on "Somewhere in My Car." Sounds good, and he rocks as well. Doesn't most everybody tonight? And his wife is pretty darn happy too.
8:39 p.m. Song of the Year:"Follow Your Arrow," written by Kacey Musgraves, Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally. "Oh my goodness," said Musgraves. " Do you guys realize what this mans for country music?...I think I can speak for all of us that this song means so much." "Tis' because of the fans that connected with it and took it farther than I ever thought it could be."
8:42 p.m. - The Band Perry pays tribute to Glen Campbell with "Gentle on My Mind." Bouncy, lot of mandolin and fiddle here. Works well for TBP. Banjo going too. Nice take on the song.
About 8:45 p.m. - Kacey Musgraves sings "You're Looking at Country" with a Grand Ole Opry set behind her. And who comes out to sing but Loretta Lynn. She sounds a bit hoarse, but does the song justice. Musgraves is one of the ultra few singers out there who knows her way around a traditional country song. Best song of the night (so far).
8:54 p.m.- Brett Eldredge wins New Artist of the Year in tough field including Clark, Kip Moore, Thomas Rhett and Cole Swindell. "Oh my Lord," Eldredge said twice. "I remember a few years ago, I got here so early. I was the only person sitting here and dreaming what it would it would be like to be up here."
"This is a dream," Eldredge said after thanking family and record company folks.
About 9 p.m. - Jason Aldean reprises "Burnin' It Down," which doesn't sound all that different than the recorded version.
9:04 p.m. - The pregnancy theme continues. Brad Paisley to Carrie Underwood - "When it's time to put the baby to sleep, here's Blake Shelton's album. " She also gave him a George Jones disc. Nice cut. Shelton can take it though
9:06 p.m. - A bunch of drummers with orange stripes at top and bottom set the stage for Little Big Town's "Day Drinkin'." Okay, they look a bit odd in their uniforms, which have orange stripes at first that turn to orange. Like the drum beat, but not exactly all that country either. Finally Ariana Grande comes out. She most definitely is not country. They sing "Bang Bang," which underscores why having non-country acts show up can be a bad idea. What does this have to do with country music? She sings well enough, but it's a dance tune.
9:16 p.m. - Brad plugs Chevy big time. Okay at least they give money to the CMA to provide free instruments and more to kids.
9:17 p.m. - Tim McGraw sings "Shotgun Rider." Glides along. Nice hearing that pedal steel come through a bit. Steady beat to the song and McGraw sounds good.
9:22 p.m. - Florida Georgia Line wins Vocal Duo of the year. "I'm so nervous," said Tyler Hubbard, before thanking the Lord for giving him the chance "to do what I love." Brian Kelley thanked his fans big time, before closing with "All we ever want to do is play country music."
9:29 p.m. - Brad Paisley says he won't fly with Dierks Bentley, who got his pilot's license, at the helm. Can't blame him.
9:30 p.m. - Bentley sings his hit "Drunk on a Plane." Catchy, but a bit silly song I thought. He pushes it a bit too much sounding a tad hoarse and flat. Good singalong song regardless.
9:33 p.m. - Connie Britton of Nashville and Martina McBride give out Album of the Year - Lambert for "Platinum." Hey she changed outfits to black dress. "I was just sitting there thinking how great every album int hat category is. I have them all, and they're all amazing. I poured my heart and soul into this one. I turned 30 last year, and I needed to sing about new stuff...I really appreciate you fans supporting it and appreciating it...This is really special to me."
9:40 p.m. - Paisley sings his latest single "Perfect Score." Doesn't sound all that different from the recorded version. Slowed down song and modest production, which is welcome. Hey, more pedal steel and fiddle! Nice.
9:45 p.m. - Blake Shelton is out to sing "Lonely Tonight." He's a bit off though until Ashley Monroe comes out and does a number on it. He elevates it, but he's been better.
9:55 p.m. - Carrie Underwood sings "Somethin' in the Water" from her forthcoming disc out in December. Spiritual oriented song. Pregnancy has not affected her voice. She always has sported one powerful voice. Yet another of those songs that's more rock than country. A chorus backs her up, which makes perfect sense. Nicely done.
9:59 p.m. - Vocal Group of the Year - Little Big Town takes it. I thought Lady Antebellum would win this. Nice win for them. "I don't know why we're the recipients of all these blessings coming from heaven, but I tell you we don't take it for granted for a second,"s aid Kimberly Schlapman. This is the third year in a row that LBT has won the award.
10:02 p.m. - Been a quiet night for Luke Bryan thus far, but he's now onstage singing "Roller Coaster." The song is so typical of many songs tonight. They sound good, are catchy but have so littler to do with country music as we knew it.
10:10 p.m. - Miranda Lambert sings "Smoking and Drinking" with Little Big Town. Nice three-part harmony. Low key song. And that pedal steel comes through again!
10:14 p.m. - Brad and Carrie sing "When I Call Your Name" with Vince Gill in the house. Great song. Just sang a bit of it. Underwood referred to him as "the best friend country music ever had." She might be spot on. The guy is a super singer and guitarist.
Gill was honored with the Irving Waugh Award, only the second artist to receive it (Johnny Cash was the other). "I look around this room and see a lot of young people," he said, then talking about Waugh. "He was the reason the CMA awards ended up on television."
He said, 'Vince Gill is a fine specimen of a man.' "Straight up, that made me feel just a little bit wierd. But Irving was the consummate gentlemen. He was always attired. He was always well attired, well groomed. He was a gentlemen, a gentlemen's gentleman." Waugh died in 2007 at 94.
"I miss being up here. I did it for 12 years, and I loved every minute of it," he said.
Gill said he was "envious" of the camaraderie of country artists today."It's a beautiful thing to watch."
10:28 p.m. - King George Strait is out with Eric "Shades" Church on "Cowboys Like Us." Would not have expected that combo as EC is more diverse musically, and they're different vocally. Nice use of violin. Three guys on keys. Is Strait really retired? Bad move by him.
10:32 - Blake Shelton wins Male Vocalist of the Year. "I really thought Luke was going to win this thing this year," he said, adding, "I could not be more proud to win this award tonight. This means so much to me. This is a big night for my family. It means so much to be part of this."
"They put a book under seats before the show," said Shelton." I saw that my all time hero has never won before...So I dedicate this to my hero, Earl Thomas Conley."
10:34 p.m. - Thomas Rhett sings some of "Give Me Some of That."
10:40 p.m. - The Doobies go country with "Listen to the Music" with help from Hunter Hayes, Hillary Scott of Lady A and Jennifer Nettles. The Doobies themselves sound quite fine and actually meshes well musically. Hot guitar playing from Hayes.
10:45 p.m. - Female Vocalist of the Year:"I don't even know what to say," said Lambert. "I just can't stand believe that I'm standing, that this is my life, that I get to stand here for a living, that this is aj ob. Thank you fans for that. I thank God for letting me do what I get to do." Lambert paused a second, choked up and Said how she always does that.
" Thank you letting me live my dream and believing in my art," she said.
Lambert took the honor over Taylor Swift, among others, who wasn't in the house. No surprise there.
10:53 p.m. Luke Bryan wins Entertainer of the Year. "Thank you God above,"he said. "Thank you so much. I have some angels in heaven, my brother and sister are up there, making this night possible for me. Caroline, I love you baby, to everybody in my world that;s put this moment in my life together."
Bryan proceeded to thank his family, industry people, fans, country radio, "guys thatI've toured with." He gave thanks for being allowing "me to follow my dreams every night.
10:56 p.m. - The Doobies closed it out with Michael McDonald on vocals singing "Taking it to the Streets." Very soulful vocals. Brad Paisley is out there on guitar. Never thought about this before, but he kind of reminds me of Greg Allman. Hayes, Nettles and Scott remained out there helping out on a lively version. Well done.
That's it folks. The night is over.
Huge night for MIranda Lambert! Congrats.