I’m a little bit country… oh, who am I kidding?

 Reba? Gorgeous. The orange carpet at the Academy of Country Music Awards? Not so much. (Photo by Erik Kabik/Retna)

Reba? Gorgeous. The orange carpet at the Academy of Country Music Awards? Not so much. (Photo by Erik Kabik/Retna)

Covering the Academy of Country Music Awards, or “Why I wasn’t at Wet Republic yesterday.”

5 p.m. ish, Sunday, April 5, 2009

One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn’t belong. That would be me. While I listen to anything from classical to rock to electronic dance music, sometimes even a bit of angsty-folk or rockabilly, I cannot stand country. Yup, I’m one of those people. And somehow I ended up at the Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand.

I’ve tried to give country music a chance. Honestly, I have. And while I think Johnny Cash is stellar and could listen to him all day, that’s about it. Primarily raised in Florida and Georgia, country was a mandatory requirement of my early musical education. That and hymnals. My mother would put on the Oak Ridge Boys Christmas album in November and listen to Willie Nelson duet with Julio Iglesias in the summer.

I hated that s—t.

Being that I was an every-other-weekend-with-the-dad kid, my father took me to Peaches Records and countered with a plethora of cassettes from Pink Floyd, Queen and Tom Petty to Green Day, Nirvana and the Cranberries. How’s that for a diverse musical background?

Which brings me back to the Academy of Country Music Awards Sunday night. Standing on the red—nay, orange—carpet (thanks to sponsor Home Depot), I was completely out of my element. I admit it. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one. An assortment of print media banished to the very end of the orange carpet looked as about as bewildered as I was, save one reporter who knew everything about everyone. I teamed up local writer Emma Trotter to see if our collective rudimentary knowledge of country music could be combined. Aside from the really big stars, we were at a loss.

But the really big stars, the ones we actually recognized? They didn’t talk to us. The posed for photos, maybe did a few on-camera interviews, and then bolted. For those that did stop, everyone else heard anything witty or interesting a star might have said to us in the area. For the die hard fans of country music who probably watched the whole event live on TV, quotes from Kellie Pickler or Reba McEntire are literally yesterday’s news. You can Google and don’t need to hear it again from me (though both ladies were very friendly and cordial).

As a pounding bassline drifted over from Wet Republic and made me long to be poolside, I watched Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban duck behind a backdrop after taking pictures, as did Matthew McConaughey and his baby’s mama. Waiting for other stars to make their way over to us, multiple text messages came in from the nightlife industry asking why I wasn’t sipping something cool in the sun. The general consensus on my explanation was “LMFAO.”

When top new male artist Jake Owen took the pressroom stage and started talking about RC Cola and Moon Pies (the latter of which I could go for right now), I realized that no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get into this country music thing. Although, after talking to the singers and bands last night, I’m pretty sure my southern accent came back a bit… and I’m cravin’ chicken ‘n dumplins, y’all.

(Originally published at LasVegasWeekly.com)

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