Country Music Association Celebrates Annual Touring Awards Winners
The Country Music Association presented industry honors to Country Music's top touring professionals Monday during the CMA Touring Awards (formerly known as the SRO Awards) at Marathon Music Works in Nashville. Hosted by Jerrod Niemann, the evening recognized winners in 15 categories, in addition to presenting the CMA Touring Lifetime Achievement Award to Live Nation's President of Country Music Touring, Brian O'Connell.
"The CMA Touring Awards offer us an opportunity to celebrate all of our vital behind-the-scenes industry members," said Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. "They are true road warriors who night after night commit themselves to bringing live music straight to Country Music fans around the globe."
During Monday's ceremony, CMA Awards winner and Board member Kix Brooks presented O'Connell with the Lifetime Achievement honor, with additional remarks shared by Dierks Bentley and CMA Board President Elect and Co-Head of WME Nashville Rob Beckham. Artists including Jason Aldean, Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line, Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney of Rascal Flatts and Cole Swindell, as well as CMA Board members Tony Conway and Mike Moore, recorded video messages that played during the ceremony to congratulate O'Connell.
"He's in the trenches with us every day," Bentley shared about O'Connell from the stage. "He's on the road. He understands us. He gets this. You are either on the road or you're not. There's no in-between. You either get the road or you are not on it, and he is out there."
For more than 25 years, O'Connell has revolutionized Country touring while contributing to some of the most successful careers in Country Music. He developed the Country Megaticket, a season ticket to Country shows at Live Nation venues across the country and continues to grow a vibrant festival division within the company including Watershed, Faster Horses, LakeShake and more.
O'Connell insisted his entire staff join him on stage to accept the Award. "They don't give you a Lifetime Achievement Award without having a lifetime. And I have had a 52-year-old lifetime that is amazing, and the reason that it is amazing is because I am the luckiest human being on the planet. I got to come to this amazing town and I got to work with amazing people."
Kix Brooks was also on hand to present the Manager of the Year Award to longtime partner of 25 years, Clarence Spalding, while Thomas Rhett also presented the Tour Manager of the Year Award-and a custom Masters-style green jacket-to Logan Kornegay.
"You're one of my favorite people in the world, and you work harder than anybody I've ever met in my life," Thomas Rhett shared from the stage. "And I got you this-it's like a Masters jacket, but it says 'CMA 2017 Tour Manager of the Year.'"
Angie Gentry, widow of Montgomery Gentry's Troy Gentry, made a surprise appearance to present Coach/Truck Driver of the Year Award to Danny Shelnut, while Chris Stapleton honored two members of his touring family with awards-Arpad Sayko received the FOH (Front of House) Engineer of the Year Award and John Garriott received the Production Manager of the Year Award.
"I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for always taking care of us," Stapleton said from the stage. "These guys make us look so good. I don't make your job easy because I do know I have a lot of weird request on both ends. I do make them put up large sonic domes every day just because I felt like it. You know, that's the job. These guys do it every day without fail. I do appreciate you guys and everything you do."
Additionally, CMA Board member and Moo TV CEO Scott Scovill presented the Tour Video Director of the Year Award to John Breslin.
Artists including Aldean, Kelsea Ballerini, Danielle Bradbery, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Terri Clark, Vance Joy, Kid Rock, Jeremiah Fraites of The Lumineers, Reba McEntire, Midland, Eddie Montgomery, DeMarcus and Rooney of Rascal Flatts, Darius Rucker, Ed SHeeran, Blake Shelton, George Strait and Keith Urban recorded personal video messages that played throughout the evening to congratulate winners.
Winners in 15 categories were determined by CMA members of the following industry sectors: Advertising/Public Relations/Media, Affiliated, Artist, Entertainment Services, Marketing/Digital, Musician, Personal Manager, Record Label, Talent Agent, Talent Buyer/Promoter, Touring Personnel, and Venue. Ballots were tabulated by the professional services organization Deloitte & Touche, LLP.
The 2017 CMA Touring Awards winners are as follows:
CATEGORY 1 - BUSINESS MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Duane Clark - Flood, Bumstead, McCready & McCarthy, Inc.
CATEGORY 2 - COACH/TRUCK DRIVER OF THE YEAR
Danny Shelnut - Montgomery Gentry
CATEGORY 3 - FRONT OF HOUSE (FOH) ENGINEER OF THE YEAR
Arpad Sayko - Chris Stapleton
CATEGORY 4 - LIGHTING DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
Dave Butzler - Garth Brooks
CATEGORY 5 - MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Clarence Spalding - Maverick
CATEGORY 6 - TOUR MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Logan Kornegay - Thomas Rhett
CATEGORY 7 - MONITOR ENGINEER OF THE YEAR
Marc Earp - Eric Church
CATEGORY 8 - PRODUCTION MANAGER OF THE YEAR
John Garriott - Chris Stapleton
CATEGORY 9 - PUBLICIST OF THE YEAR
Jake Basden - Big Machine Label Group
CATEGORY 10 - TALENT AGENT OF THE YEAR
Darin Murphy - CAA
CATEGORY 11 - TALENT BUYER/PROMOTER OF THE YEAR
Louis Messina - Messina Touring Group
CATEGORY 12 - TOUR CATERER OF THE YEAR
Center Stage Events
CATEGORY 13 - TOURING MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR
Nathan Barlowe - Keith Urban
CATEGORY 14 - VENUE OF THE YEAR
Bridgestone Arena - Nashville, TN
CATEGORY 15 - TOUR VIDEO DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
John Breslin - Garth Brooks
The CMA Touring Awards, previously known as the SRO Awards, were originally created by the CMA Board of Directors in 1990 to honor outstanding professional achievement within the touring industry. The first SRO Awards were presented at a black-tie gala, hosted by K.T. Oslin and Roger Miller, during CMA's Entertainment Expo, which was also known as the Talent Buyers Entertainment Marketplace. Ten SRO Awards were presented at the first gala and the number of awards swelled to 19 before the last were handed out at SRO '97. In 2011, CMA brought back the Touring Musician of the Year Award. In 2012, SRO Awards in 14 categories were handed out in Nashville during the annual IEBA Conference and in 2013, the Talent Buyer/Promoter of the Year Award was added bringing the total number of SRO Awards categories to 15.
Photo Credit: Donn Jones/CMA