How I Attended The 48th CMA Awards Courtesy Of The Doobie Brothers

Country music was never my thing growing up, and as I've said before I never thought I would find myself living in Nashville. I also never thought I would find myself at the CMA Awards, a show that to be honest I don't know if I've ever sat down to watch on TV at home. But on Wednesday, November 4th - my 6-week anniversary of moving to Nashville - I not only went to the show, I went for free courtesy of The Doobie Brothers. What the hell? Yes, exactly. It's actually an amusing story, though less because of me and more because of dumb luck.

As a songwriter new to town, one of the first things I did was join NSAI - the Nashville Songwriters Association International - and of course I like them on the Facebook. Around 10:45AM Tuesday morning, the day before the CMAs, The Doobies posted the following message and picture, and NSAI shared it through their page:

Anyone who knows Nashville music knows that the picture is of Historic RCA Studio B, about a block from NSAI headquarters, and right next to Ben Fold's Grand Victor Sound Nashville Studio (formerly Historic RCA Studio A) that was recently saved from being demolished. I know right where that is, I thought. I could be there in 10 minutes. My girlfriend (a big country fan) was coming to town the next day and I knew she would love to go to the show, so after a few minutes of waffling I threw on some clothes and jumped in my car.

I got to the area around 11:20 - about 35 minutes after the picture had been posted - found a spot a block away on South St./Chet Atkins Pl., and started walking toward the studio. Then I may have started running. I had no idea how many other people were going to be trying to find these tickets, so I had to get there fast. And when I got there I one else around. The searched commenced. For about 20-25 minutes I looked all around the building, through the glass doors, under rocks, in trees. Anyone driving by probably couldn't understand why there was a weird guy crawling through bushes on Music Row, but you do what you gotta do. And for all my efforts I still found nothing. No envelope. No tickets. I was about ready to give up and go home.

Then the side door opened and a guy walked out wearing a laminate of some sort. I turned to him and said, "Hey, where are these Doobie Brothers tickets?" He held out his hand and gave them to me. Turns out he was the manager of Studio B and had found the tickets taped to the back of the tribute Roy Orbison guitar when he got to work that morning, but that he couldn't go to the show because he didn't have a sitter. I was dumbfounded. I took the tickets, shook his hand, and he went about welcoming a busload of tourists. A quick call to a number left with the tickets confirmed them, and I was asked to send a picture of me holding the tickets in front of the studio.

See what I mean? Dumb luck. I've had experiences and met people that I can in some way attribute to the work that I've done, but let's be honest here: the only reason I got these tickets was because I'm relatively new in town, don't have a lot going on during the day, and can leisurely browse Facebook at 10:45 in the morning!

Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN - November 5, 2014
So how was the show itself? It was cool. Very impressive seeing how they moved from act to act so seamlessly using one big stage in the front of the arena and one smaller stage in the back. They would lower facades on the main stage so that one artist could be setting up without being seen while another was performing, but our seats were high enough that we could see it all happening.

Pre-show view of the main stage from our seats
During commercial breaks clips from past CMAs were shown on the screens, and the crowd gave a very audible "boo" when Garth Brooks' "Friends In Low Places" clip was abruptly cut off to get ready to come back to the live broadcast (oh and by the way, that clip really shows how the country music scene has changed over the past 24 years). You could also hear the bands warming up, sometimes giving away to the arena audience what they were going to be playing. My favorite performance of the night was probably Carrie Underwood doing "Something In The Water," because it's a powerful song and she's such a monster singer. And say what you will about country music, but each band was tight. It was great hearing real musicians playing real instruments live. Jason Aldean could've used a little auto-tune, though.

The Doobie Brother's closed out the show with "Takin' It To The Streets," which was fitting for me because that was one of the first songs my cover band learned back in 2011. But Michael McDonald does a better Michael McDonald impression than any of us ever could.


  • Michele Brettholtz

    Michele Brettholtz Steve's home town.

    Hey Steve, Great story! Congrats on the win and so glad you had a good time. Keep the stories coming. xox Michele

    Hey Steve, Great story! Congrats on the win and so glad you had a good time. Keep the stories coming. xox Michele

  • Steve Schultz

    Steve Schultz Nashville, TN

    Will do!

    Will do!

  • Kate Banks

    Kate Banks NJ

    Dear Steve, I officially hate you. You are one of my least favorite people right now, if not my least favorite. Love, Kate P.S. See you in a few weeks! ;-)

    Dear Steve,
    I officially hate you. You are one of my least favorite people right now, if not my least favorite.
    Love, Kate
    P.S. See you in a few weeks! ;-)

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