OFFSTAGE: Tim Allen on Sugarland and the J. Geils Band

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

When comedian Tim Allen told me he was an eclectic guy musically, he wasn’t kidding. Because we started our red carpet conversation at last week’s CMA Awards talking about his love for Sugarland. “It’s embarrassing that Jennifer Nettles is here because I’m such a huge fan. The thing about Sugarland is that her voice is just so amazing,” he said. “So I’ve followed them for quite a while.” But then the talk abruptly turned to the J. Geils Band. Now, I loved them. But they are on the opposite end of the spectrum from Sugarland, right? Allen doesn’t necessarily think so. “That early rock ’n’ roll that J. Geils was doing had elements of what’s really fun about country music today,” said Allen, who was there to present an award with Reba McEntire and promote his sitcom, Last Man Standing. (By “elements,” maybe he meant the harmonica, which Nettles plays on a few Sugarland songs and was a big part of the J. Geils Band’s music.) He also said he thinks country is getting back to its roots — what Allen called “kind of this weird Irish folksy funky thing” — and that it’s all good. “I grew up listening to some steel guitar Western music, kind of hillbilly bluegrass. I like that that’s back because I love music when it hits its stride.”

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