We're going to give the commentary - as I see and hear it anyway - throughout the ACMs. Hold on for the ride.
8:00 p.m.: Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton may be hosting, but we're not seeing them at the outset. It's The Band Perry who do "Chainsaw" with lots of confetti and not much country. It's another rock effort out there with a sometimes not quite on target vocally Kimberly Perry. "Chainsaw" is a catchy song though. Pyrotechnics are going off, which is no surprise. TBP released the song in mid-March.
8:05 p.m.- Perry and Bryan are out with Bryan in a cream colored jacket. What? No baseball hat either. Bryan said, "There's $20 million in hairdos down there and confetti in it."
Bryan talked about "great live music. Shelton said, "If you don't like great live music, then you can go down the block and see Britney Spears." Cheap shot. I can't believe they're still knocking Britney.
Shelton introduces Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, to boos.
Shelton makes some sort of unfunny jokes about same sex marriage, meaning that "you have the same sex over and over and over again," to which Miranda Lambert mouthed "thank you."
Bryan and Shelton are taking their time in getting the night going with some marijuana jokes as well, making note of Eric Church's dressing room as a hang out for smoking.
8:11 p.m. - Time for more live music for Florida Georgia Line with a straight version of "Stay."
8:15 p.m. - the great Brad Paisley is poolside in Vegas with his brand new single "River Bank" from a forthcoming album. He always sounds good. Lighter, song that's perfect for summer. Hope he doesn't fall in. Nice job and good thing he got early face time on the show.
8:19 p.m. - ad for Shakira came on. I still don't get what she's doing singing with Blake Shelton on her new disc. I've been a long, long, long time fan of hers (pre-English albums), and not sure if she's sold her soul or what. Of course, they're both on The Voice. Shakira will be on the show later of course.
8:23 p.m. - Shelton sings "Come a Little Closer" with a little bit of help. from Gwen Sebastien on backing vocals. Low key affair with Shelton on acoustic guitar sitting down.
8:26 p.m. - Brett Eldredge gets face time with singing some of his latest.
8:29 p.m. - Just about one half into the show and not one award has been handed out yet. This is more a chance for artists to get performing their songs and boost record sales (understandable) than win awards apparently.
8:33 p.m. - Martina McBride comes out to introduce George Strait. She's on his Cowboy Rides Away tour. Still not sure why her career seems on the downslide. She has a new disc coming out in a week or so. Fine singer.
8:34 p.m. - George Strait is out with black cowboy hat and some bona fide (read traditional) country music. He's sounding a tad off vocally. It's meat and potatoes George, not flashy at all. The song is the third single from "Love is Everything." I wonder if George will win the Entertainer of the year award to honor his career.
8:38 p.m. - Lee Brice is sweaty from the get go with "I Drive Your Truck," a heartfelt song about loss and remembering. Not very country either, but he's done well with the song. Nice job doing it solo acoustic.
8:47: Eric Church gives a strong take on "This is My Hometown." He's out there on his new CD and this is the latest single. Hopefully he'll get even more known for his music than the bunch of marijuana references lately.
8:50 p.m. - Mr. NRA himself, Justin Moore, is out there with "Let the Night Roll." Not a big fan of his. Nothing original about what he does. Moore does a snippet of the song, not the whole deal.
8:57 p.m. - Shakira is out there with Shelton singing "Medicine" from her new CD. This underscores the merging of country and pop. This is catchy, and Shakira sings fine, but like most things I'm haring tonight, it's hard to call this country. Well, at least, I don't.
9:01 p.m.: Taylor Swift comes out in white top, black bottom for Vocal Duo of the Year.
9:02 p.m. - Florida Georgia Line takes the honor. No surprise. They thank everyone. "Country music is alive and well," says Brian Kelley.
9:04 p.m. - Bryan and Shelton walk the line thinking about doing a selfie with George Strait, who wards them off (got the sense he really didn't want to do it); Jason Aldean ("not big enough" they say); Tim McGraw ('Boring") and an empty chair of Miranda Lambert. Finally, of course, they settle for themselves in the selfie. Getting a big cliche these days. Ain't that right, Papi?
9:08 p.m. - Next up is Lady Antebellum and Stevie Nicks doing a bit of "Golden" before launching into "Rhiannon," but Nicks sounds off vocally. See what I mean about country and pop.
9:11 p.m. Keith Urban rocks through "Even the Stars Fall for You." Wonder why he didn't do his current single "Cop Car." That guy can play guitar of course.
9:15 p.m. - Kip Moore plays a chunk of "Something 'Bout a Truck," his fine single that really percolates. Moore is due for a new album already though. What gives?
9:22 p.m. - Luke Bryan does "Play It Again." Country light. Catchy though. He overemotes for my taste.
9:27 p.m.: Best New Artist: Justin Moore. "I was beginning to think there might be a height requirement for this award," said Moore, who is short in stature. He got emotional at the end with "Thank you. I will never forget this."
9:32 p.m. - Jason Aldean comes out to sing his hit "When She Says Baby." Okay, not a bad version, but doesn't separate himself from the pack either. The rock influence is numbing tonight.
9:37 p.m. - Single Record of the Year:Miranda Lambert for "Mama's Broken Heart." Lambert thanked the songwriters, including Kacey Musgraves. Husband Shelton announced the win. Unlike many of Lambert's appearances at award shows, she didn't get all emotional this time. Frankly, I thought for sure "Cruise" by FGL was a lock. Ah, I guess they weren't. Fine song. At least it's dyed in the wool country.
9:45 p.m.: Lambert sings her new single "Automatic" from her upcoming CD. Good song. That silver boots overwhelm though.
9:51 p.m. - Lee Brice wins Song of the Year "I Drive Your Truck." It's a songwriters award. Brice cedes the stage to the other writers. Nice of him. Very heartfelt song and "To every person in America who knows what it's like to live this song day in and day out. God bless you. Amen."
9:56 p.m. - Tim McGraw performs new song "Meanwhile Back at Mama's" in a tux, black hat and seated on a chair. Country drawl to the vocals.
10:02 p.m. - Florida Georgia Line is over the top on "the catchy "This is How We Roll" with flames going and cyclist going from one side of the stage to the other. Do they really need all the extras to sell the song Me thinks not. Luke Bryan, who sings on the song, also comes to sing his lines with baseball hat atop his head. The guitarist with the mohawk is downright scary looking.
10:07: Jason Aldean wins Male Vocalist of the Year. "This is really unexpected. It was a shock last year to win it and an even bigger shock this year."
Aldean said, "This has been one helluva ride. I hope it doesn't end any time soon."
10:15 p.m (or so): Jerry Jones of the Cowboys and George Strait announce 50th ACMs will be held in April '15 in Dallas at AT&T Stadium, home of the Cowboys. I thought they already indicated earlier this evening that was going to be, so what's the big announcement?
10:19 p.m.: The Band Perry wins Vocal Group of the Year "This is a mountain top moment in the life of The Band Perry," said Kimberly Perry. "We started at the bottom of the mountain."
10:21 p.m.: Hunter Hayes sings "Invisible" after plug of helping fight child hunger by Jewel. Serious song, of course, where he sings, "Don't ever be afraid of doing something different." Give him credit for doing the song.
10:33 p.m. - Female "I cannot believe this," Lambert said. "I really didn't expect it,y'all. Thank you so much." She praised the others. "I can't believe it. I'm so grateful and humbled." She dedicated the honor to friends in Lindale, Texas, who were going through tough times.
10:34 p.m.: Darius Rucker sings Bob Dylan and Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show's "Wagon Wheel." Good song. Love the fiddle on it, a rarity in this show. Lady A comes out to sing as well.
Album of the Year - Kacey Musgraves for "Same Trailer, Different Park." " I can tell you I really did not expect this one," said Musgraves, adding, "I'm really proud to be a woman representing country music."
10:40 p.m. - Garth Brooks comes out to pay tribute to Merle Haggard. "Haggard's always been an outsider," he said, adding, "The good times are not over at all." Brooks said he grew up listening to the Hag at his home as his father played the songs.
Strait's out to do a good job "The Fugitive" with Lambert out to do "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down." She does a fine job and wish she would do more of this kind of country instead of the rock she veers towards.
10:45: It's the Hag's 77th birthday today. Brooks leads a chorus of Happy Birthday.
10:45 p.m.: "Country music's been great to me all my life, and it's been great again to me tonight,' said the Hag. "This has been one of my most memorable evenings. Good night."
10:50 p.m.: nice reading of "I Hold On' by Dierks Bentley with Sheryl Crow.
10:57 p,.m. Entertainer of the Year - George Strait. "Wow," he said, clutching the trophy. "Thank you so much. You know what, I've always said, I had the best fans in the world. I heard this was a fan-voted thing. So I rest my case....It's been such an amazing past 30 years." Strait thanked his label and family. "I love all of you," he said, laughing, "Thank you so much."