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The 59th ACM Awards

Jeffrey Remz  |  May 11, 2023

Country Standard Time is covering the Academy of Country Music Awards tonight. It begins under a late breaking cloud today – charges of rape against Jimmie Allen. It will be interesting to see – but highly doubtful – if it would be referenced in any way.

8:01 p.m. – Keith Urban gets the night rolling with a song that's actually country, "Texas Time." Kind of cool with the lit up virtual dancers in the background. Of course, there's some nice guitar licks from Urban. I guess Urban isn't scared of heights as he's on a platform that's going higher and higher.

8:05 p.m. – Garth Brooks comes out with a full beard, live from Frisco, Texas. He's name checking big stars like George Strait and Randy Travis, who's looking pretty good before calling out the GOAT – Dolly Parton. Corny of course, but she brings out Claire the goat on a wagon. Hope the humor gets better than this. She said this was Brooks' first time hosting. "You know what they say. You never forget your first time." Maybe the jokes won't get better.

Dolly said, "She did say I hug on you and rub on you" with laughter. With Allen casting a shadow, that's not needed.

8:12 p.m. - Cole Swindell comes out with Jo Dee Messina for a nice version of "She Had Me at Heads Caroline." He seems like a pretty easy going guy, and Messina's on a comeback thanks to Swindell. Messina sounds real good.

8:19 p.m. - And that song wins Song of the Year for Cole Swindell and his fellow songwriters. "I moved to Nashville, Tenn. because I wanted to be a songwriter." The other writers had little to say beyond the usual, but Swindell also talked on someone out there in the internetverse being inspired by something they hear tonight. Let's hope.

8:21 p.m. - Great reading of "Bury Me in Georgia" by Kane Brown. That's one of his most country sounding songs. Nice delivery. Typically low key of course.

8:26 p.m. - Carly Pearce and Trisha Yearwood are out singing "The Wrong Side of Memphis." The two don't mesh particularly well on that or "XXXs and OOOs" either. Their voices just don't match. As for "She's in Love With the Boy," Yearwood's signature song, Pearce just doesn't have the vocal firepower of Yearwood. Oh well.

8:31 p.m. - Brothers Osborne takes Duo of the Year with little fanfare. John thanked the "country music community." No surprise that they won either. The War and Treaty are great, but they are not country. And Maddie & Tae - love them also - but they had no chance of winning. Thin category it seems like.

8:33 p.m. - HARDY sings "Wrong Side of the Truck." He does not have the best voice out there, but he sure has a lot of really good songs, although he does have better than this. Then, he rocked out throwing out his hat. Remember, his album his country and hard rock. And his hair is flying like a true rocker.

8:36 p.m. - Old Dominion wins Group of the Year. Not a surprise either. These guys seem to be on a roll. Lead singer Matt Ramsey, "There are obviously people hurting in the world trying to make sense of divisiveness...shootings and things like...we're most proud of being able to make music for people are hurting right away." Well said Matt.

8:36 p.m. - Bobby Bones "interviews" Kane Brown. Lightweight. Of course, he's excited to be nominated for Entertainer of the Year.

8:41 p.m. - Amazon (they're the folks broadcasting this) Breakthrough Artist Bailey Zimmerman gets his chance to shine on "Rock and a Hard Place," a ballad. Not the most lively song for an awards show, but hey is that pedal steel I'm hearing?

8:45 p.m.- Garth and Dolly are back out with Willie Nelson remotely. Of course, a reference to weed. Isn't that getting a little bit old already. But Willie still got a lot of great music at 90!

8:47 p.m. - Cody Johnson pays tribute to Waylon and Willie, and he can pull it off on "Mama Don't Let Your Babies Grow to Be Cowboys." And more pedal steel and fiddle! Got to love that. Solid performance.

8:51 p.m. - Miranda Lambert sings "Carousel." Not sure on the huge white outfit there on such a simple, acoustic-driven song. It's Texas centric. Good to see Lambert doing something that falls within country and doesn't find her rocking out to much as she's sometimes prone to do. Very nice.

8:55 p.m. - Tanya Tucker introduces Single of the Year - She Had Me at Heads Carolina." "I don't know what's going on y'all," Swindell said, adding, "Thank you country music fans. That's all I've ever been." Been a great week for Swindell, and it's not even the weekend. He got engaged on Sunday.

8:58 p.m. - Hailey Whitters won the ACM for Best New Female Artist earlier this week ,and now she gets to sing "Everything She Ain't," a real good song that's also climbing the charts. She is deserving.

9:01 p.m. - Music Event of the Year - "wait in the truck" with HARDY and Lainey Wilson. No surprise at all. Great melody and well delivered. "Thank you Lainey. You were always the one," said HARDY.

"Oh my gosh," Wilson said. "I don't know if I'll ever get used to this...It's really important to sing about things that are hard to talk about it...A lot of people relate to this song."

9:06 p.m. - The great Luke Combs is out with "Love You Anyway." And more fiddle. He's the real deal when it comes to lots of great songs and singing and low ego. His singing is so heartfelt. It doesn't get much better than this.

9:09 p.m. - Ed Sheeran has gone country with his new song, "Life Goes On." Got to say this is surprising having the British singer on a country show. But as he sings, I can see Garth Brooks singing this. Combs, who called Sheeran "my friend," comes out to put his full voice into this. Nice. Got to say this worked quite well.

Sheeran said they met in 2018 and have been friends since. Brooks gave his stamp of approval.

9:14 p.m. - Bobby Bones talks with Lambert about her outfit (she didn't pick it. Her stylist did). And then they talk about Lambert's Mutt Nation efforts on behalf of dogs.

9:15 p.m. - Morgan Wallen gets some face time, but he isn't doing anything tonight. That's what six days of vocal rest will do. He didn't seem to be in the house either.

9:18 p.m. - The great soul duo The War and Treaty (they are husband and wife Tanya and Michael Trotter Jr.) are outfacing off against each other singing of love. They're wonderful singers and performers. One of the best of the night.

9:24 p.m. - Garth and Dolly remember those who we have lost including Loretta Lynn and Naomi Judd as Dolly sings some of "Precious Memories." "I just felt we should do that," Dolly said.

9:25 p.m. - Female Artist of the Year goes to Lainey Wilson. Somehow I figured she'd win it. Quite the outfit there, and she's quite an artist. "I can't believe I just met Dolly Parton first of all," she said. "This is crazy. First of all, thank you to my father. Thank you to Jesus for this. This is absolutely insane." She thanked her family, "my first believers." She thanked the others in the category. "Everybody in this category didn't just wind up there by happenstance...made so many sacrifices...For this the little girls watching this, this is a lot of hard work. if you're going to be a dreamer, you better be a doer."

9:30 p.m. - Jason Aldean is singing his brand new song, "Tough Crowd." He's ore of a rocker than a country singer - to wit, the guitar on this. And, of course, he trots out the flag.

9:33 p.m. - Ashley McBryde is out singing "Bonfire At Tina's" with Caylee Hammack, Brandy Clark and Pillbox Patti helping out. Nicely done. Good to see the women take center stage - women who are "sick and tired of taking shit" as the song goes. Nice build to the song, and the strings work quite well. John Osborne is out with his usual excellent lead guitar work. Excellent song.

9:36 p.m. - Combs is out with Bones. He always comes off as sincere.

9:41 p.m. - Morgan Wallen wins Male Artist of the Year, but is not there due to his health issues. "It must be killing him," said Brooks. No doubt, but he got to be happy to get it too!

9:43 p.m. - Country rapper Jelly Roll is out with "Save Me." It's not an easy song as it's about looking for help after lots of life's travails. Lainey Wilson comes out to help him, and they work well together. You don't hear songs like this. "I'm so damaged beyond repair," Jelly Roll sings. Well, he's having a pretty darn good year anyway.

9:47 p.m. - Lainey Wilson is cooking with "Grease," a Southern fried song that's less on the country quotient than most of her songs. But the biggest surprise is she threw off her hat. At least she's wearing bell bottoms. The song s a change of pace for Wilson, especially considering "wait in the truck."

9:55 p.m. - Lainey Wilson wins Album of the Year for "Bell Bottom Country." "I wrote 300 songs during the pandemic," she said, adding that the writing "saved my life."

9:56 p.m. - Jordan Davis is laid back on "Next Thing You Know," an acoustic-based song. Interesting that a lot of songs are on the softer side tonight.

10:01 p.m. - Chris Stapleton wins Entertainer of the Year. "We, I'm shocked, Truly," he said. "By any imaginable metric, I don't deserve this, but thank you. There are so many great people in this category...I write songs, and I make records. I never thought of myself as someone who would win this award."

"My kids sitting at home, they give up a lot of my time, a lot of my wife's time so we can do this," he said. "This is for them."

10:04 p.m. - Dolly sings "World on Fire," her rock debut any place. The song has the line that "politicians wouldn't know the truth if it bit them in the ass." "Liar liar the world's on fire/ What are you gonna do when it all burns down." Interesting lines. She's not rocking out hard vocally in this song asking for better times. This is not your typical song for sure. A chorus sings the refrain. "Let's make a stand/Let's wring the hand/Let's the heal the hurt," Parton said in a political song that country stays away from. That was quite the performance!

10:11 p.m. - It's all over. This makes you realize the benefit of being on Amazon and not television where they shlep it out for three hours. They kept it moving, and most of the performances worked. Nice night.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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