ACM Awards Performances Carried Musical Weight

Collaborations Included Lady Antebellum With Stevie Nicks and Darius Rucker

To say the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards show emphasized the music is an understatement. There were 10 performances even before the first trophy was presented Sunday night (April 6) — a vocal group of the year award to Florida Georgia Line.

Lady Antebellum performed collaborations on songs written by Stevie Nicks and Bob Dylan. The trio first reunited with Nicks, the Fleetwood Mac member who previously joined them for an episode of CMT Crossroads . After teaming up for Lady Antebellum’s “Golden,” they tore into one of Fleetwood Mac’s biggest hits — “Rhiannon.”

Later in the show, Lady Antebellum shared the stage with Darius Rucker to help sing his hit “Wagon Wheel,” a song co-written by Dylan and Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor.

While it wasn’t a collaboration, one of the highlights was when George Strait performed “The Fugitive” and Miranda Lambert sang “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down” during a tribute to Merle Haggard, recipient of the ACM Crystal Milestone Award. The tribute marked their second performances of the evening. Lambert previously delivered “Automatic” and Strait offered “I Got a Car.”

Florida Georgia Line and awards show co-hosts Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton also received two performance slots each. Florida Georgia Line played “Stay” and got some help from Bryan on “This Is How We Roll.” Bryan did a solo performance of “Play It Again.” Shelton sang “My Eyes” and also joined Shakira — his fellow judge/mentor on The Voice on her new single, “Medicine.”

Dierks Bentley and Sheryl Crow teamed up to sing his current single, “I Hold On.”

Other performers included The Band Perry (“Chainsaw”), Brad Paisley (“River Bank”), Brett Eldredge (“Beat of the Music” ), Lee Brice (“I Drive Your Truck” ), Eric Church (“Give Me Back My Hometown” ), Justin Moore (“Lettin’ the Night Roll”), Keith Urban (“Even the Stars Fall 4 U”), Kip Moore (“Somethin’ ’Bout a Truck” ), Jason Aldean (“When She Says Baby” ), Tim McGraw (“Meanwhile Back at Mama’s”), Toby Keith (“Shut Up and Hold On”), Hunter Hayes (“Invisible” ) and Rascal Flatts (“Rewind” ).

Calvin Gilbert has served as’s managing editor since 2002. His background includes stints at the Nashville Banner, Radio & Records and Westwood One.