By Evan Farmer
Let me just say that, according to me, I have the best job ever, and once a year it explodes into the kind of thing people wait their whole lives to win, just like a contest. In fact if it were a contest, the prize would read something like this:
Evan’s annual prize winnings: All expense trip for two to Nashville’s biggest, weeklong music event in history!
Prize package includes:
- Red Carpet at CMT Music Awards (the only entirely fan-voted awards show in county music) where you can have one-on-one conversations with your favorite stars.
- Front row tickets to the show with laminates that get you everywhere your heart desires.
- Tickets to all the parties
- Backstage passes and front row seats to every concert at CMA fest.
- Hell, we'll even let you host a few concerts, including the night at LP field and whatever else you want for that matter.
- And oh yeah, you'll get paid to do it!
Now I assure you, I'm not telling you this to brag (although reading what I just wrote did feel awesome) but I did want to put the "pretty spin" on it before I give the back end, of which I'm currently in the throws-of at this very second. So, here are my responsibilities:
1. Be completely familiar with over 100 potential artists, actors, and reality personalities that could possibly walk the carpet so that I can interview them live, and sustain “said interview” for up to five minutes - depending on how much time the producers scream into my ear- while trying to concentrate on whatever’s being said to me in person (which is nearly impossible to hear anyway due to screaming crowd noise).
To this end, I’ve spent 10 hours out of both of the last two days researching artists, making notes, and exchanging them by email with Katie Cook in preparation. I have one more day of this left to squeeze in somehow.
2. Flawlessly execute all paid-for sponsor spots leading into and out of commercial breaks at the live telecast from 6-7p.m. central on CMT. (This is 9th inning, bases-loaded, you could lose your job, kind of stuff).
3. Attend, host, and spread the CMT Awards message in interviews at up to 4 events a day beginning 3 days before the awards and usually ending the day CMA Fest ends ten days later. This usually gobbles 10-15 hours each day.
4. Tape several CMT Music Awards Radio and TV specials leading up to the event.
5. Try to sleep.
You see, depending on how you look at it, it could be a Country-Music-Disneyland-esque experience or a freaking nightmare. On the one hand I am living out exactly what the above-mentioned prize package contains. On the other, the pressure of live television, sponsors, and performing while exhausted, can be terrifying and the schedule is nothing short of exhausting. Trust me when I say that it all ends up balancing out in the end however.
The terror of live television and hosting live events becomes exhilarating. At the same time, the fantasy “glamour” of the all-access, behind-the-scenes, party-with-the-stars world, becomes tedious and tiring to a degree. What I get in the end are moments. Moments where I literally can’t believe I just had a genuine connection with an artist that I’ve admired from a far for decades. Moments where I thought I’d never survive the night while constantly reliving a live-television flub in my head until I mercifully fall asleep. Moments where I learned something about myself I never imagined. Ultimately, I’m talking about moments of pure risk and reward.
Perhaps, it could be argued, it is all on a small level. I certainly wouldn’t argue that. After all, I’m not going for broke like Gwyneth Paltrow singing “Country Strong” while playing guitar live for the first time in front of the world as she did on the CMA’s this past year. Talk about cajones! And she earned a standing ovation for her brilliant showing. But, I do get a LOT of those risk/reward moments in a short period of time. That’s what I love about the first two weeks or so in June every year. And that, in a nutshell, is what it’s like to experience it all from my perspective.
So, if you see me on the carpet, at a concert, at the convention center on Saturday between 11:30-12:30 p.m., or somewhere in between, be gentle, say hi, and feel free to share your experience with me. After all, those are the moments-in-between where I can simply enjoy this time of year for what it is–a chance to connect with fellow music lovers.