As the dust has somewhat settled and I am slowing getting organized since my return from ACM weekend in Vegas I look back on what really goes on, what we see and what we learn. You can say I am still probably a "newbie" since I have only been attending the weekend since 2008, so I am not your "well seasoned veteran". But in these years I have seen many changes, some we did not always agree with, and some that are really well done.
Loads of pictures after the jump...
I stated that the weekend is NOT just about the artists, yet they do bring us all together. Yearly we anxiously await the date to be announced so the plans can begin, be it putting in for vaction days, airline reservations, hotels, starting a savings account and last but not least taking a tally of who is all going. We also hang on for futher word on what will take place over that weekend as far as extra's.
This year brought us the newly created ACM Experience. I will applaud the group who thought of this concept and put it into play. Free concerts with Joey & Rory, Gloriana, The Dirt Drifters, to mention a few, shopping, drinking and eating: OH that was a win, win. I attended the Fan Jam this year, hosted by the Zac Brown Band and there was more than I expected. We were able to see the Awards show itself and afterwards ZBB did an almost two hour concert, which was also being filmed for a GAC special to air at a later date. How they get overlooked for awards is beyond my thought process.
I was graciously invited to a couple of record label events and both of them meant something to me but in different ways. Big Machine Label Group presented a program, Outnumber Hunger, in conjunction with General Mills and Feeding America. The presentaton was very well thought out and impressive, just like anything Scott Borchetta puts his mind to. To find out more details stop by: http://www.outnumberhunger.com/
(Press Release Courtesy of BMLG)
My second record label event was with Stoney Creek Records, http://stoneycreekrecords.com/, home of 2011 ACM Duo of the Year winners, Thompson Square, along with Randy Houser and new comer's Parmalee. Music, food, and beverages flowed along with some great conversations. I had the pleasure to meet the crew from the 2011 ACM winning Station of the Year in the Medium market, KATM 103.3 in Modesto, CA, http://katm-fm.fimc.net/default.asp and to say they gave me some great moments is an understatement. They were an amazing fun group who made me feel like we had known each other for years. I truly appreciate REAL people who share the love of what they do. A big shout esp to D.J. Walker (who was "forked up") and Nikki Thomas for the kind words and laughs. We were also there when they announced that Thompson Square won their Duo of the Year award which was presented to them at the Military Concert at the ACM Experience. That was a cool thing to be a part of.
On Friday and Saturday there are the long hours (if you so choose) to hang around the MGM Radio Remote area; the room where all the radio stations gather to interview artist's. They keep it nicely roped off for us fans, and the view is quite nice. It is a hit and miss though on catching a good picture of some artist's since they come in and out so fast, but it is fun to get that glimpse. We don't get to see all the artists, but some do come out and take pictures, sign autographs and just hang out. Darryl Worley, Keith Urban, The Dirt Drifters, Kelly Pickler, Sara Evans, Justin Moore, and Jake Owen, Keith Anderson, just to name a few were very obliging. Once in this room though an artist can take hours to get through all the station interviews and if you are willing to wait you might just catch that glimpse.
I love this entire weekend, it gives me so much. Yes it does bring us all together for new experiences, meeting new people from all over the country and abroad, new challenges on how we can possibly do it all in such a short amount of time, (sometimes it just cannot be done !!) It also brings us tired feet, lack of sleep, headaches from laughter or drinking too much, spending too much money, (but if you were true to your savings acct that I previously mentioned you would be fine Ha Ha), the test of how much we can pack and never use or wear, and the highlights of watching the fashion parade which is very eye catching in Vegas. But you must remember to always have the camera and phone charged and be VERY careful to not accidently delete important pictures. (Yep I am guilty)
So there is sort of a back side to the ACM weekend, and that is THE FANS...the artist's do count, do bring us together, and the academy does bring us a lot, but we matter the most, at least that is how I see it, because no fans, no artists. When I stand in lines for artist gazing or shows or whatever, it is the fans who have the stories and pictures they love to share, the journeys they have been on, and what they have planned for the future. It never grows old, and it is not much different from year to year, but the anticipation is overwhelming and when we are packing up to go back to our lives, we are already talking about what we are going to do for next year.
(All Photos by Mary Kay)