(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that's happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)
Jason Aldean thought something horrible had happened. "I was in bed asleep when the calls came in at 7:30 this morning," he told me Tuesday (Feb. 1). "The house phone kept ringing, my cell phone kept ringing. I thought somebody'd gotten in a car wreck." The calls were actually to congratulate him on his ACM nominations and, in particular, his very first entertainer of the year nomination. "My manager said, 'Man, I know you are probably asleep and not watching,'" he said. But Aldean refused to believe him. Even after his dad sent him a congratulatory text message, he said "I was just waiting on them to tell me they're playing a joke on me. It's not for real until I read it on the Internet." It's real, alright. He's up for top male vocalist and EOTY where he is up against Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, Taylor Swift, Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert. And when I asked if the nomination made him feel validated, he said yes. It's a huge thing for him and his guys. "When things are good, you feel like people aren't taking notice. But then it turns out they are, and it's a nice pat on the back," he said. So what did he do to celebrate? He took his daughters to school, then went to Walmart to get his oil changed. But surely he'll do something over-the-top Thursday when he's performing in his hometown of Macon, Ga. Right? Some champagne or something? "We're not really a champagne kind of group," he admitted. "We're more of a whiskey-beer-chicken wings kind of crowd."