OFFSTAGE: ACM Awards Rehearsals: What I Saw and Heard

(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 learned something at the ACM Awards rehearsals this weekend. You see so much when you’re watching them, but sometimes it’s just what you hear that blows you away. Like if you closed your eyes, this show would still be outstanding.

What happens at the rehearsals is that the artists and their bands run through their performances once or twice. Maybe three times. So, for instance, Sara Evans blew me away with her artsy stage set and the way she belted out her cover of Rod Stewart’s “My Heart Can’t Tell Me No.” Then Brad Paisley did the same, making sure his vocals and guitar sounded just right on “Camouflage.” (Although he did throw in a verse from Buck Owens’ “I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail” — maybe just to momentarily confuse his band.) Before Paisley, Little Big Town did, well, I can barely even type it without starting to cry. You just have to see it to believe it. There’s a children’s choir and a song about who doesn’t want to be a hero? (It’s called “Here’s Hope.'”) Honestly, between that performance and Martina McBride’s “Marry Me” wedding song complete with that New Jersey couple exchanging vows onstage, this is definitely going to be the Feel Good ACM Awards.

But there’s something else you should know about rehearsals. They aren’t always open to the media. So, during the closed rehearsals, you have to leave the MGM Grand Garden arena and just wait around outside. But thanks to the sound system in the arena and the vent system at the resort, you can still hear the rehearsals that you cannot see — like the Kenny Chesney/Tim McGraw duet. So even though you can’t see a thing, you just know there are rock stars up there on that stage.

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