– A Seatfiller’s View.
By: Judy Shields
Las Vegas, NV (The Hollywood Times) 4/15/2014 – “We have an amazing show in store for your tonight, and we’re glad you’re here for Country Music’s Party of the Year. You’re part of a sell-out crowd of artist, industry professional and fans who were lucky enough to score these coveted tickets.” Darin Murphy, President of the ACM, wrote in the program given out the ACM members as they entered the MGM Grand Garden Arena last Sunday, April 6th in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The show was once again hosted by Blake Shelton and returning host from last year, Luke Bryan. The two did a great job hosting again this year, with great one liners poking fun at each other. The duo went out into the audience and Luke told Blake that he was recently on the Ellen show and that she took that photo when she hosted the Oscar’s and that they were hosting this show tonight, so they should take a selfie of their own. They walked up to where George Strait was sitting in the front row, and Blake said, “Oh my God, wait a minute, there is George Strait right there, but I am not going to ask him.” Luke replies “I’m not going to ask him, I can’t, you ask him.” Blake says, “I’m not asking him, let’s just move one.” George just waives his hand at them, as to motion them to move on. Luke tells Blake, “yeah let’s just move on.” They move down the row and Blake says “Wow, there’s Jason Aldean right there. Camera pans on Jason, while Luke says “He’s not big enough.” The audience erupts into laughter as well as Jason himself. Luke then says “there McGraw!” Both Blake and Luke say at the same time “BORING!” As everyone, including McGraw laughs it up.
Moving along, they come to a poster board with Miranda Lambert’s picture and name propped up on a seat in the front row (the production show uses these during rehearsals to show where the stars will be sitting), Luke says “here are our wives and your wife didn’t even show up.” Blake says, “I can’t take a picture her, but I have a bunch of pictures of Caroline,” (Luke’s wife) and Luke slugs Blake in the arm. Blake says to Luke, “wait, honestly, I believe we are the biggest celebrities in the room,” and Luke agrees with him, and Blake says “let’s just take it of ourselves. So the two of them pose for a shelfie while facing the stage and Luke says, “wait a minute, there is Sheryl Crow in the background” and Blake says, “we will just have to turn the other way,” and they turn around and take the photo. That was a great skit for sure.
Miranda Lambert is still the queen of country music with her fifth straight female vocalist of the year award, one of three Academy of Country Music awards she took home Sunday night. Miranda Lambert now has 18 trophies from the ACM Awards since she first won best new female artist in 2006.
There were great performances and several surprises, like Faith Hill, dressed in a beautiful white gown, surprise her husband Tim McGraw while he sat down and performed Meanwhile Back At Mama’s. He gave her a look of “wow you look hot” and smiled big and continued singing, without missing a beat.
Lady Antebellum and Stevie Nicks performed a medley of Golden and Rhiannon.
George Strait and Miranda Lambert performed I’m a Lonesome Fugitive and Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down in a tribute to Merle Haggard. The most moving performance was by the audience at the MGM Grand, which broke into “Happy Birthday” as Haggard walked to the stage on his 77th birthday to receive the academy’s Crystal Milestone Award. “Country music has been great to me all my life and it’s great again tonight,” Merle said.
Keith Urban performed Even Stars Fall 4 U.
Lee Brice performed I Drive Your Truck.
Toby Keith performed Shut Up and Hold On with his daughter singing backup.
Luke Bryan performed Play It Again.
Miranda Lambert performed Automatic.
Rascal Flatts performed Rewind.
Kip Moore performed Somethin’ ‘Bout A Truck.
Hunter Hayes performed Invisible.
Jason Aldean performed When She Says Baby.
Justin Moore performed Lettin’ the Night Roll.
George Strait performed I Got A Car to a standing ovation.
Florida Georgia Line performed Stay.
The Voice judges, Shakira and Blake Shelton performed Medicine.
Brett Eldredge performed Beat of the Music.
Dierks Bentley and Sheryl Crow performed I Hold On.
Eric Church performed Give Me Back My Hometown.
Blake Shelton and Gwen Sebastian (from the Voice) performed My Eyes.
Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan performed This Is How We Roll.
Darius Rucker, with the help of Lady Antebellum performed Wagon Wheel.
It was a fantastic evening filled with great song choices with each of the performers giving us their very best.
Here is the list of the winners for the 49th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards:
Entertainer of the Year — George Strait
Male Vocalist of the Year — Jason Aldean
Female Vocalist of the Year — Miranda Lambert, she had this to say, “I was just hanging out with (presenter) Trisha Yearwood back there, holy crap, and I was standing next to Sheryl Crow, a complete and utter rock star,” She also spoke about others in the category: “Kacey Musgraves, I grew up with her. She wrote the single of the year this year. And Carrie Underwood’s my buddy, y’all, and she’s a phenomenon. I can’t believe it, I’m so grateful and humbled. I love my job.”
Vocal Group of the Year — The Band Perry
Album of the Year — Same Trailer, Different Park, Kacey Musgraves
Video of the Year — Highway Don’t Care, Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban
Vocal Event of the Year — We Were Us, Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert
Vocal Duo of the Year — Florida Georgia Line
New Artist of the Year — Justin Moore
Song of the Year — I Drive Your Truck, Lee Brice
Single Record of the Year — Mama’s Broken Heart, Miranda Lambert
Crystal Milestone Award — Merle Haggard. (Garth Brooks made an appearance to talk about Merle Haggard)
Career Achievement Award – Toby Keith
I thought I would write about my experience as a seatfiller for the award show. It is a great experience to be selected as a seatfiller for this award show and I have been filling those seats for the past five years for the ACM’s in Las Vegas. The process starts off about five months ahead of time (around December the prior year), where an email is sent asking if we are interested in being seatfillers for the show in April of the next year. You answer that email the second you receive it, please put me down as a YES! Next, a response email that they got our email and will be in touch later as the show approaches with all the necessary information if we are chosen. Yes, we have to wait until February before we get that long-awaited response that we have been chosen to attend the show as a seatfiller. Believe me, it is always exciting to receive that email, even though I have done this for several years now. I have actually been a seatfiller for over 20 years, doing shows like the People’s Choice Awards, The Grammys, American Music Awards, MTV Awards, Nickelodeon Kids Award Show, Stand Up For Cancer Show, NAACP Image Awards, The Giving Awards and this past year I was lucky enough to be part of the Sports Illustrated 50 Years of Beautiful show at the Dolby theatre and the Beatles 50th Anniversary CBS show taped at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
So, it has always been a great honor to be chosen to be a seatfiller for these great shows. As for the ACM’s, there were seven woman from Rockford Illinois, one, who I met at last year’s show and we exchanged numbers and kept in touch throughout the past year. Kristin is her name and she invited me to share a hotel room with her and two other women from the group. These women flew out from IL and had two adjoining rooms at the Excalibur hotel starting on Friday night. They attended the 1st night of the ACM Party for a Cause Festival on Friday, April 4th and I was able to join them for the 2nd night on Saturday, April 5th. The Festival was held at the The LINQ, Ceasars’ newest outdoor entertainment venue in the shadow of the “High Roller” the world’s largest observation wheel. The 2-day event included a country marketplace, games and activities for fans, and performances by country music’s hottest artists – all to benefit several worthy causes. We all had a great time that night.
On Friday, April 4th, Rascal Flatts headlined a lineup featuring Florida Georgia Line, Justin Moore, Thomas Rhett and many more. Presented by Big Machine Label Group, Friday’s festivities supported Outnumber Hunger, which helps fight hunger in local communities by helping Feeding America secure meals for its network of local food banks.
On Saturday, April 5th, Keith Urban headlined a day presented by ACM Lifting Lives benefitting several military philanthropies including Wounded Warrior Project, Folds of Honor Foundation, Nellis Air Force Base Support Squadron, Team Rubicon and Navy SEAL Foundation. Joining Urban on the bill were Chris Young, Joe Nichols, Jerrod Niemann, Lee Brice, Brett Eldredge and Kip Moore among others. What a great way to start off the country weekend with great entertainment.
As seatfillers, we have to be ready to report for duty over at the MGM Grand Arena no later than 2:00 pm, dressed in nice formal gowns. So we schedule are morning to allow each of us woman time to get ready, like putting on the makeup and slipping into our gowns for the night. We all were ready to walk over to the hotel at 1:30, which is a nice little walk for the Excalibur hotel across the street, so it was fun to be all dressed up walking over there. Once we get there to the arena area, we go to a designated area at the entrance of the arena to be checked in. Our purses are checked to make sure we don’t have any cell phones, as this is one of the main requirements. We are not allowed to have them because production does not want us to take pictures, since we are there to do our jobs as a seatfillers and they do have rules that must be followed. After the purse checks, we then proceed to the wristband area where we present our ID’s and the stuff checks for our name on the list to get in, wristbands are put on and we proceed to a larger room full of chairs to wait for the next hour and a half. So we all talk with one another and make new friends and visit with some we had met the previous years. It is always fun to see what everyone else is wearing, beautiful gowns and dresses and the guys in their western suits. The staff will go over all the rules for those who may be new to seatfilling and then we are asked to line up single file to get ready to go through the metal detectors and be escorted in the venue around one hour prior to the taping of the show, which it was now 4 p.m. It is really exciting to see the stage and all the folks coming in to take their seats. Our holding place is in the very back of the floor area as we wait until about 4:45 to start our way to the front rows to fill them up until the person occupying that seat shows up. Quite often, as seatfillers, we may get to sit in the front row, but not often, do we get to sit there for long. But this year, one of the younger gals from IL, was placed in the front row and sat there through most of the show and this was her first time, so what a wonderful first time experience for her and she looked beautiful sitting there. The other woman in our group told us later that they sat in the second and third rows and some did not have to move at all. Kristin and I sat about seven rows back and actually got to stay put the entire show and we were thankful that we did not have to move around this time. We were seen on TV a couple of times and that is always cool. Most of the other women in our group were also on TV, so it was a great show from start to finish.
Actually, the start of the show seem to not make most of us happy, because the Band Perry started off the show with their new hit, Chainsaw, but for reasons not known to any of us, tons of confetti was dropped on most of us in the front section. So much confetti was dropped that we were actually covered in it and I felt like I could breathe and swallowed some of that confetti and felt like it was stuck in the throat area the rest of the night. All cowboy hats were full of the confetti and all of us women had it all in our hair. So, to say the least, most everyone was not at all happy. Carrie Underwood was especially not happy and there was so much in her hair that her hair person had to come out and let her hair down to try to get it out and leave it down and off to the side. It was a mess and not sure why they had to start the show off that way. It made it memorable to say the least.
The show is taped for three hours from 5 p.m. until 8:00 Pacific Time, to be shown live for the East Coast and it did not even seems like a three hour show.
The biggest joy for me was seeing George Strait, slowly walk up to receive his award for Entertainer of the Year. This was his second entertainer of the year, only 25 years after he won his first. He told the crowd “I’ve always said I have the best fans in the world, I heard this was a fan-voted thing, so I rest my case.” “Our hero,” Shelton said in a genuine moment. “Our hero won tonight!” That was priceless!
There was a special announcement made by Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones with George Strait by his side, that the 50th Annual Academy of Country Music Award Show 2015 would be moving to Arlington, Texas at the AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. Check out their website for more information to purchase tickets to next years show.
About The acm’s
The 49th ACADEMY OF COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS is dedicated to honoring and showcasing the biggest names and emerging talent in the country music industry. The show is produced for television by Dick Clark Productions and will be broadcast LIVE from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Sunday, April 6, 2014 at 8:00 PM live ET/delayed PT on the CBS Television Network. Allen Shapiro and R.A. Clark are executive producers. Barry Adelman is producer. Bob Romeo is executive producer for the Academy of Country Music.