(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 would love/hate to be Jason Aldean right now. He must be so thrilled thinking Wednesday (Nov. 9) is the day he's named the CMA entertainer of the year, yet he has to be so nervous just thinking about it. Although when I talked with him Tuesday, he seemed pretty calm, cool and collected. He did a show on Nashville's riverfront to promote the new AMC series, Hell on Wheels. And after the concert, we talked about how he and his high school sweetheart of a wife would celebrate if he won the top honor at the CMA Awards. "It's crazy now, but she was there during the early years when I was still playing karaoke tracks at the fair. So to go from that to where it is now, it's amazing. And amazing how much our lives have changed. We both feel very blessed," he told me. "It goes to show you, the American dream is alive and well. Because you can go from nothing to all this fame." I also wanted to know how prepared he was to win. "Well, I never practice speeches. I used to practice my stage poses in the mirror, but never the speeches," he laughed. "But to me, the best speeches are the ones that come from the heart at the time. If we do win, I'll probably have a very bad Thursday. I might not go to bed." The riverfront show was short, just six songs, but it was acoustic and, honestly, the best I've ever heard Aldean. He told stories about all the songs, saying things like, "I never thought a song about making out on a tractor would make this such a big one for us" about "Big Green Tractor." Aldean's ability to thrill an outdoor crowd in the middle of the afternoon just like he does a packed arena late at night makes him an entertainer of the year in my book.