The 2023 CMT Awards were A-T-Xcellent! Not only were they held in Austin for the first time ever, but there were all kinds of nods to the ATX both on and off stage.
Here Are The Most Austin Things That Happened At The 2023 CMT Awards!
The Moody Center Rocks
Let’s start with the makeover at the Moody Center that featured a most excellent stage set up for the big show. There were no bad seats in the house. But that’s not all! Outside of the stadium, there was a carpet set up so that locals could watch the stars arrive for the big night.
Also happening outside, country trio Midland performed pre-show. Though the band members do not hail from the area originally, the band was formed in Dripping Springs in 2014. Before making it big, Midland used to play Poodies Hilltop Roadhouse in Spicewood. “Poodies became Threadgills and Threadgills became Saxon Pub and then finally we got into the Broken Spoke,” band member Cameron Duddy told CBS Austin.
Austin Musicians Walk the Walk
Inside on the not so red carpet, a plethora of Austin musicians chatted with media on their way into the show. We gabbed with Tameca Jones, The Bros Fresh, Primo The Alien, and Jackie Venson, who popped up on stage a few times throughout the night including performances with winner Lainey Wilson and Alanis Morissette.
A Longhorn Salute
Before anyone walked the carpet, the University of Texas cheerleaders and band got everyone in the mood with a performance. The small space was crowded and that only made the energy that much bigger!
PS, If This Is Austin
Blake Shelton started the show quoting his famous tune stating, “PS, if this is Austin, I still love you.” He then kicked off the night with his newest hit “No Body” surrounded by a neon stage that featured the Austin sign that once stood above the “Real World: Austin” house.
Honoring Stevie Ray Vaughn
The second performance of the night honored Stevie Ray Vaughn. As if that wasn’t enough of a nod to the Austin music scene, the artist doing the honoring was none other than Gary Clark, Jr.!
A Special Award Moment
Mid-way through the evening, host Kelsea Ballerini presented a special CMT Award that featured a big red button. When pushed, it chimed out “alright alright alright,” Matthew McConaughey style. The Minister of Culture then popped up on screen exclaiming, “I’ll take one of those.” Too bad MM couldn’t make an in person appearance.
The After Party and More
In a not so subtle tip of the hat to the Austin/ Texas food scene, hosts Ballerini and Kane Brown each had a foodie moment on stage. At one point, Brown grabbed brisket out of his pocket while Ballerini later pulled a burrito out of her purse (no specific businesses were mentioned though). But it was three time winner Jelly Roll that had the best Austin shout out of the night. Concluding his third acceptance speech, he said, “We’re shutting down Sixth Street tonight!”
In case you missed the show, you can watch it on demand on Paramount+ or catch “CMT MUSIC AWARDS EXTENDED CUT” on Thursday, April 6, at 7 p.m. on CMT. It will include an added 30 minutes of new performances and extra bonus content.