We talk boy bands and Nashville must-sees with the cute-as-can-be host of CMT's Top 20 Countdown
Interviewing country music singers is all in a days work for you. Has anyone ever left you starstruck?
Only one and that is Dolly Parton. She’s so charismatic, humorous, and genuine. Few people have that combination.
And if you could go back in time, who would you interview?
Johnny Cash. I would ask him about how he did the unthinkable. That is, not being the greatest musician or singer but becoming a country legend through pure passion and drive. That’s what intrigues me about great artists. They become superstars because of who they are as people.
How would you spend a perfect day in Nashville?
You would first find me at the Nashville Zoo with my three-year-old-son Garrison. Next, I’d head out to nearby McMinnville, Tennessee, for a lazy afternoon at my wife’s family’s cabin. I’d finish the day with dinner at MacK & Kate’s Cafe, located just down the street from my house, and then I’d stumble home after a few margaritas.
What Southern tradition do you plan to pass on to your son?
We take family dinners very seriously in our house. No matter what commitments we have, we make a point to eat together each night as a family. I’m not sure the South has the trademark on family dinners, but there’s something very Southern about sharing time with loved ones over a home-cooked meal.
Country fans are known for their loyalty. Where do you think that devotion stems from?
I think a lot of that loyalty can be attributed to country radio. The stations aren’t just playing the same 12 songs on rotation. You’ll hear 1991 Garth Brooks right alongside the latest Taylor Swift single. That kind of continued exposure gives country artists an extended career and chance at a true relationship with listeners.
What are the don’t miss Nashville destinations for someone in search of the definitive country music experience?
First stop is country music’s mother church, the Ryman Auditorium. The Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum are also must-sees.
And where’s the best place in Nashville to spot a country star?
Whole Foods in Green Hills. I can’t remember a time I shopped there and didn’t see someone famous. Seriously.
How do you take your barbecue?
I like it spicy and swimming in sauce. Tootsies Orchid Lounge here on Broadway is one of my favorites for barbecue.
Favorite Southern expression?
Bless your heart. It’s not a compliment. I learned that the hard way.
What’s your hidden talent?
In between takes on CMT Top 20, I frequently do impressions of country artists. I’ve got Gary LeVox from Rascal Flatts and Charles Kelley from Lady Antebellum on complete lockdown. And Lady A’s Hillary Scott for that matter.
You were once a member of 2GE+HER, an MTV boy band parody. If you could put together your own fictitious, country version who would you include?
I would go for the unlikely suspects with the big boys of country music—Toby Keith, Jason Aldean, Eric Church. I’d have Trace Adkins as the pretty-boy front man.