CMT awards - a NYC view

Yesterday, as I hit Trader Joe's grocery and wine stores on 14th street in Union Square, Manhattan, to stock up for my own personal CMT Music Awards party, I found I wasn't the only Manhattanite scrambling home from the office to check out all of Country Music's biggest stars. My friend Ann casually mentioned to the cashier that we were going to watch the event, and an eager woman in the checkout line barraged us with questions. "Oooh! Those are tonight? Which channel? What time?" We were, to be frank, pretty shocked; it's not often that you find people here who are willing to divulge their Country Music obsession. I had begun to think I was one of the only non "closet-Country" fans in the city. My closest friends in the city actually needed to be coaxed into attending the party with promises of free-flowing wine and good eats, since few of them would have come for the musical event itself. Fortunately for me, the ruse worked and I think I may have even converted a person or two to my religion of sorts, but time will tell.

So, the Awards show: I must say, the beginning sequence was fabulous. I'm not typically into the gratuitous hoopla surrounding these types of events (yet somehow I can't miss them!), so I didn't really have the highest of hopes, but my assumptions for a blase show were almost immediately shattered with the cameos of John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Brilliant! I have to hand it to the show's producers for that move; I, like countless others (including a living-room full of New Yorkers only halfway sold on Country Music - but fully plugged into politics), was hooked from that point forward. And the father-daughter duo of Billy Ray and Miley Cyrus was an adorable and creative hosting choice (though in all honesty, their duet was more than a little off-key, yikes).

CMT Award Highlights: I proudly report that I had picked a few of the winners, including "Best Group Video" (Rascal Flatt's "Take Me There," a personal favorite of mine), and "Wide Open Country (Allison Krauss and Robert Plant's "Gone Gone Gone" - a song my cover band actually plays)." I was, however, very disappointed that Taylor Swift's generic "Our Song" took down the involved and funny "Online" by Brad Paisley (why not reward tongue-in-cheek humor instead of cookie-cutter "blah?" Really?). Plus, "Online" had Jason Alexander as a guest star - and we Big Apple types like our George Costanza!

Biggest gripe of the night? The fact that all the up-and-coming performers' live songs were unapologetically cut short by commercial cutaways. Particularly painful was missing out on so much of Lady Antebellum's live performance (if you've read my other post here, you will figure I am rather enamored of them). It was a good marketing tactic for CMT to have advertised such a crazy high number of "live performances" at the awards, though. I guess it's still a business after all...

What did you think of the awards? What surprised you? Thrilled you? Enraged you? Hit us here with your thoughts. This here was just the view from the Big Apple - we want to know what you thought.