OFFSTAGE: Unfinished Conversations From CMA Red Carpet

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

I’m starting to have kind of a love/hate relationship with red carpets. And here’s why: Love them because when Kix Brooks and his lovely wife Barbara are walking by, you can call him over and chit-chat about his harmonica playing, her nice dress and new artists we’re all keeping an eye on. But then I hate them because there’s just never enough time to talk about everything you want to with the artists. Like when Justin Moore and I were talking about Keith Urban, he told me, “I met him at the last CMT Music Awards and he dove through a crowd of people to get to me. He said he was a huge fan of mine. I thought it was a joke. But my wife has never been so turned on.” I really wanted to see where that conversation would go, but he was pulled away. So doing interviews on the red carpet is a lot like starting a hundred conversations but never really finishing any. Here are some of those conversations I could’ve kept going all night long:

Jason Aldean said the rehearsals are a little bit more fun for him than the real show. “It’s more laid-back. At the show, you’ve gotta be more serious, but today I had a good time making fun of Kelly [Clarkson] because she had a stiff neck,” he said of his duet partner for the show. “So I was imitating her,” he laughed.

I asked LeAnn Rimes about her new song, “Crazy Women,” which is a sultry rocker about ex-wives and old girlfriends who keep their crazy side hidden and are made by crazy men. I asked, “Who is the craziest woman you know?” She replied with a laugh. Literally. Just a laugh, and a glance at her publicist to see if that laugh said it all.

David Nail, who’s been touring with Lady Antebellum, told me he loved watching them because he wants to have songs that make fans’ jaws drop on the floor. “I’ve always just been a white kid who wanted to sound like Stevie Wonder,” he admitted.

Eric Church and I could’ve talked all night about concerts that blew us away, but he only had time to give me his top three: Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run tour, AC/DC’s Back in Black tour and a Garth Brooks concert in Charlotte, N.C. “All I’d heard was ’The Dance,’ but Garth came out onstage and just lost his mind,” he said. “That taught me a lot — that in an hour and a half, you have to win those fans over.”

Maybe best “who-are-you-wearing” conversation I had all night was with Gretchen Wilson’s 10-year-old daughter, Grace. She had a fourth grade geography test the next day, but she and her mom were still making it a special night at the CMA Awards . They’d had McDonald’s caramel frappes in the limo on the way over. She had her hair in perfect little-girl up-do. And she was wearing a black party dress from Betsey Johnson. “I was always looking in the window at these dresses,” she told me. “And I finally had a reason to get one for tonight.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.