It’s voting time for the 51st annual CMA Awards and all over Nashville, this year’s nominees are pulling over-the-top publicity stunts in competition for the organization’s coveted crystal trophies.
The reigning CMA entertainer of the year Garth Brooks took over the Bluebird Café on Monday (Oct. 16) night for a surprise writers’ round performance with the key architects of his biggest hits: Victoria Shaw, Pat Alger, Tony Arata and Kent Blazy.
In the nearby Berry Hill neighborhood, five-time 2017 nominee Keith Urban did his part with a two-hour pop-up show at the Basement.
Usually on Monday nights at the Bluebird, the first show is reserved for its weekly open mic night. But anyone who peeked through the venue’s window blinds witnessed Brooks, Shaw, Alger, Arata and Blazy huddled around each other in the center of the musically sacred place.
For approximately two hours, in front of a capacity crowd in the 90-seat venue, they sang and shared the stories behind their hits, and laughed over the memories they made together long before their music made them household names. At one point during the show, Arata observed that Brooks hasn’t changed since the time they met, and said that he would still come pick you up if you were ever stranded on the side of the road.
Before performing “The River,” Shaw recalled the moment when Brooks visualized thousands of people singing the song with their lighters in the air while co-writing the ballad. At the time, Shaw admitted she thought Brooks’ premonition was crazy.
Brooks backed Alger on “Thunder Rolls” and later on he delivered an abbreviated version of “Cold Shoulder,” a song he co-wrote with Blazy and the late Kim Williams.
A portion of the surprise show was webcast on Brooks’ weekly Facebook Live chat Inside Studio G and broadcasted live on Brooks’ Sirius XM channel. The event served as the pre-order celebration for part one of Brooks’ five-part memoir, which arrives Nov. 14. The night was also filmed for an upcoming documentary on the Bluebird.