(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that's happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)
The first thing I noticed when I walked into the CMA Awards gift lounge Tuesday (Nov. 8) is that the big shopping bag wasn't nearly big enough to hold everything. And by everything, I mean the roughly $15,000 worth of fabulous things the artists and presenters get to take home with them. And I'm not just talking a handful of mildly-interesting gifts. This stuff is cooler than cool. Like a bohemian sideways-cross necklace from Ceek that I heard Faith Hill and her daughters were crazy about. And the Vokare jackets that Lionel Richie wanted to bring home ("He was all about the leather," the designer told me.) And the "Can I Get a Yeehaw" T-shirt Sara Evans adored. And the Nantucket leather satchel Darius Rucker loved. And Belldini sweaters that Kimberly Perry and her mom snatched up. And the Maui Jim sunglasses that Natasha Bedingfield fell in love with. And Lily.B Skincare products that will be nourishing the skin of the guys as well as girls who stopped by. And the Rockin' Wellness shakes that all the artists had a chance to sample. As well as the Blue 04 water that has oxygen literally imbedded into the water. The ladies from Little Big Town apparently love the stuff. Rascal Flatts' Gary LeVox had been in the lounge earlier, and it seems like what he loved the most was the Yankee Candles. He put at least one in his gift bag, I'm sure. The idea behind a gift lounge like this one, which also had slippers, iPhone and iPad covers and even a helicopter you control from your iPhone or iPad, is that it's a low-key way for artists who have little time (and maybe too much fame) to browse in regular stores or malls.