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The 56th CMA awards - the blow by blow

Jeffrey Remz  |  November 9, 2022

Tonight is the 56th annual Country Music Association awards. We'll give the blow by blow - at least how I see it.

8 p.m. - a video of the late Loretta Lynn winning an award kicks it off with a funny line about her regret that her husband wasn't there because he had gone hunting. With that, Carrie Underwood shows off her country bona fides with "You Ain't Woman Enough" before Miranda Lambert with "Don't Come Home a Drinkin'" and Reba with "You're Lookin' at Country." Excellent start from all three because all three are fully capable of doing Loretta justice.

Now if only Carrie did the time because she is fully capable.

The three then teamed up for "Coal Miner's Daughter." Is this a now a new group. That'd be pretty cool, no?

8:08 p.m. - Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning are hosting. This could be interesting. Manning is one funny guy. Bryan - not so much. Lainey Wilson is a first round draft choice. Manning throws in a few more football comments, but then admits he's a "huge fan of country music." One suspects he really is.

What's Payton's favorite country music song - with that a guy comes out dancing to "Rocky Top." Peyton went to Tennessee, and Bryan's a Georgia boy. (Georgia just mauled Tennessee in football last week).

No surprise, but this is on the corny side. "I don't prepare," Bryan said. "I'm just a wing it kind of host." Me thinks not.

8:13 p.m. - "When Will I Be Loved" courtesy of Ashley McBryde, John Osborne on guitar and fellow vocalists Pillbox Patti, Caylee Hammack and Brandy Clark. Real nice reading of the Everly Brothers' classic made famous again by Linda Ronstadt. Brandy Clark should be a whole lot more popular than she is. No surprise that Osborne is one helluva a guitar player.

Musically at least, we're off to an excellent start. Nice also to see some folks who aren't that well known get some prime time attention.

8:20 p.m. - More silliness from the hosts, making way for Cody Johnson singing "Till You Can't." Getting the sense he seems poised to get a lot bigger. Good take on the song. Heck, he even uses pedal steel and fiddle, which you even can hear. And Johnson has a country voice. And what about that wonderful white cowboy hat? You just don't see that much anymore. Johnson brings the energy.

8:24 p.m. - Reba and fellow "Big Sky" actor Rex Linn give out Song of the Year to "Buy Dirt," the hit for J.

"Oh man, I did not expect that," said Jacob Davis. Neither did I. "We wrote about a faith and family. If that's not about country music, I don't want is."

8:28 p.m. - Cole Swindell offers "She Had Me at Heads Carolina." Good song albeit on the poppy side. I like the fact that it's a shout out of course to Jo Dee Messina. Turns out - and can't say I was surprised - Messina came out to sing towards the end of the song. The Massachusetts native sounds in good vocal form. Music's been real good so far and not over the top. Let's hope that remains the case for the next 2 1/2 hours.

8:37 p.m. - Lambert is out with her really fine "Geraldene." Love the Dolly Parton connection with "Jolene." The former song was first on Lambert's "The Marfa Tapes" with Jack Ingram and Jon Randall. Wonderful guitar work here also. Lambert gives it a bit of a bluesy feel.

8:41 p.m. - Wynonna Judd is out to give out Duo of the Year. Of course, her presence is a reminder of her mom. Brothers Osborne wins its fifth Vocal Duo of the year. Not so surprised. They're on a roll. "To be here tonight and being in the presence of Wynonna will be one of the biggest highlights of my life," said lead singer TJ Osborne.

Brother John Osborne said that his wife was pregnant with twins. "You're going to be an amazing mom."

"It's an incredible ride," said TJ Osborne. Yup, he's right. Fortunately, Brothers O gets to enjoy the ride. They are top shelf.

8:49 p.m. - this is the other side of Carrie Underwood singing "Hate My Heart." She sings well, but way too rocking. And here we go again with sparks or whatever shooting into the air. Once was enough with Lambert. Maybe she's spent too much time with Axl Rose.

Never had any issue with Underwood's singing. Ever. Just her musical choices. I long for the day that she'd put out an entire disc of hard core country. Okay, I threw down the challenge.

8:52 p.m. - to be fair, "The Kind of Love We Make" from Luke Combs isn't all that country either. He is such a great singer with a tremendous amount of excellent songs. This guy can write. Can't wait to see him again in concert.

9:02 p.m. Vocal group of the Year goes to Old Dominion for the fifth time. Zero surprise there. Lead singer Matthew Ramsey said, "Obviously we've lost a lot of legends. There's no one who would be here, in this category, without Alabama. We just lost Jeff Cook. I'm so grateful to be in a band. I can't imagine losing one of you guys." Ramsey said he was appreciative of "of the opportunity to love what we love doing."

Alabama guitarist Jeff Cook died on Monday. RIP.

9:04 p.m. - Bryan steps out from being host to perform "Country On." Sorry, but he has just never done it for me. He sang it well though.

9:12 p.m. - Carly Pearce - "I grew up IN Kentucky just like the great Loretta Lynn...She too was a coal miner's daughter. I never met Loretta. I wish I would've...I loved everything about her, especially the way she lived her life unapologetically. Loretta, this song is for you." With that Pearce, perhaps country's next big star, sings "Dear Miss Loretta."

And she brings out Ricky Skaggs on acoustic guitar and Sonya Isaacs on backing vocals. Awesome song. Here's another one who can easily play hard country. Excellent effort. This girl is on one huge roll.

9:17 p.m. - BRELAND is a good personality even if he's shilling for Chevrolet. Too bad they didn't just let him sing a song. Instead, he appears on a Chevy ad. Well, he's getting air time anyway. I suspect BRELAND's poised for big things too. He always has a good vibe about him.

9:22 p.m. - why did Bryan change his outfit? The black tux looks a lot better than the purple jacket.

9:24 p.m. - Zac Brown Band is out with the most excellent blues guitarist Marcus King for "Out in the Middle." Jimmie Allen was apparently supposed to be here too, but he got sick. Zac sounds real good. Nice and bluesy musically. King needs to be seen if you haven't yet. Blues, NOT country though.

9:29 p.m. - Cody Johnson wins Song of the Year with "Till You Can't." He called it "one of the greatest country songs of all time....God bless country music. Thank you so much." Producer Trent Willmon, "This is not the last of these."

9:32 p.m. - Thomas Rhett gets going with "Where We Started" and then Katy Perry comes out in a black hat helping out on vocals. Not a huge fan of her, but she does a good job with it. Rhett's more of a soulful singer than a country singer, but he is easy on the ears.

9:39 p.m. - HARDY is out to sing "Wait in the Truck" with Lainey Wilson. Great song (though I'm not a big fan of vigilante justice). Different vibe from the rest of the music today. HARDY's another one, maybe Wilson too, who is heading for bigger things. He's not the best singer, but his songs are excellent, and he does put them across well.

9:45 p.m. Luke Combs wins Album of the Year for "Growin' Up." "Oh man, I was not expecting this," he said. Combs is not a big ego guy as usual.

9:51 p.m. - Jenee Fleenor wins Musician of the Year.

9:52 p.m. - Kelsea Ballerini is out with Kelly Clarkson and Carly Pearce on the fun, honky tonker "You're Drunk, Go Home." Hmmm...not sure why Pearce and Ballerini are matched so closely color wise, and what's with yet more sparks of some sort going on behind them. Ballerini is at her best on the hard core country songs. Nicely done.

9:56 p.m. - Lainey Wilson wins New Artist of the Year. Not so surprised. Tough field though, but she seems on a roll. With tears in her eyes, Wilson said, "If you know me, I'm rarely speechless, and I'm speechless right now."

And then she spoke. She said the award was for the girl who wrote her first song at nine and spent 11 years in Nashville, "not taking no for an answer." She thanked those who gave her a chance and "some who didn't."

9:59 p.m. - Morgan Wallen is back with his mid-tempo song "You Proof." Kind of ear candy. Not his best song, but he knows how to sing.

After a lengthy list of thanks, Wilson said, "We're just getting started. Let's go."

10:06 p.m. - Lainey Wilson gives a PSA for Crown Royal which helps veterans through Creative Vets, matching music with veterans. Nice.

10:09 p.m. - Now, this is a special treat. One of the most wonderful country singers Patty Loveless is out to sing "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive" with Chris and Morgane Stapleton. Great take on the haunting song. Man, I sure wish Patty would get out and sing again. Chris Stapleton is excellent as ever, speaking of great great singers. And they let the song go on for a while. It always was an excellent song. Another excellent moment. Kudos to CMA for featuring the artists and song.

10:16 p.m. - Wilson has competition for bellbottoms - Morgane Stapleton.

10:16 p.m. - Wilson wins Female Vocalist of the Year. "I was definitely not expecting this one at all," she said in praising the others nominated. "I'm so honored just to be nominated for this. This is huge."

She dedicated the honor to her father, who was in the hospital with a serious illness. Wilson said she was afraid of losing him, but he accompanied her to the awards show. "I'm so excited that you're here with me. You believed in me before anyone else...I know I'm new to a lot of folks, but I won't let you down. I promise you."

10:25 p.m. - Next year, a tribute to the Rolling Stones, Stone Cold Country, is coming out. Brothers Osborne and the wonderful duo The War and Treaty sing "It's Only Rock & Roll (But I Like It)." Nice soulful version. BTW, John Osborne can play, but I think I've said that before.

Check out The War and Treaty if you have not. They are excellent. Real good pairing and yet again, nice to give airtime to deserving musical folks who are under the radar screen for most people.

10:31 p.m. - Stapleton wins his sixth Male Vocalist of the Year. "I'm so honored to be a member of the country music community," before wishing his daughter, Ada, a happy 12th birthday.

10:39 p.m. – Underwood is out again singing Reba's "Remember When," before honoring Alan Jackson with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award. Underwood said the first concert she ever went to was Jackson.

10:41 p.m. – a musical tribute starts with Dierks Bentley, Jon Pardi and Wilson singing "Chattahoochee." Bentley puts a little girt on the vocals. Pardi is a little flat on his reading of "Drive (For Daddy Gene)." He got better as he went along. Wilson and Pardi had been on tour together. Wilson took lead vocals on the hard core country "Neon Rainbow,' Jackson's fourth single from "Here in the Real World." If Wilson doesn't get mileage out of tonight, I'm not sure what will."

Jackson came onstage to sing "Don't Rock the Jukebox." Great song, of course. Truer words were never said – if only country still listened to AJ!

10:49 p.m. – Jackson receives the honor. "Country music's been real good to me, and I feel in love with it when I was a young man. I really loved the instruments – the steel guitars, the fiddles, things like that that gave it such a character and made it its own. It's just real American music. One night watching television, and this movie came on about the life of Hank Williams, and it just really inspired me. I came to Nashville with nothing....Mine was like three chords and the truth. Mine was more like three chords and a prayer."

"I've just been such a fan of this music. And I wanted to come to Nashville and carry it on, the kind of that I love." As my momma would say, I'm so blessed, and I'm so blessed."

"I've definitely lived the American drive," he said, "Give me that award." Thrusting the trophy in the air, he said, I'm still living that honky tonk dream, y'all."

10:55 p.m. – Combs wins Entertainer of the Year, the bigggst honor of the night. "Oh my goodness," said Combs. "I never ever know what to say."

"This is a dream come true," he said. "There is nobody in this category that doesn't deserve to be standing up here."

"Let me tell you one more thing. This is my fifth or sixth year of being at this awards show, and country sounded more country than it has in a long time tonight."

So glad that Combs noticed as well. What a pleasure to hear a lot of country music. Lots and lots of highs both from the awards to the performances. Nice night of music.



©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher • countrystandardtime@gmail.com
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