A near capacity crowd of industry workers flocked to Hard Rock Cafe’s Reverb Room last night (11/8) for Broken Bow/Stoney Creek’s second annual Pre-CMA Party. The label also wrangled radio personnel in town for the CMA Awards to showcase some of its top-shelf talent.
Newcomer Dustin Lynch was first to perform, offering some of the rock swagger that’s worked so well for his labelmate Jason Aldean. The Tullahoma, Tenn. native’s songs included “That’s The Thing About A Hurricane” and “She Cranks My Tractor.”
Speaking of Aldean, the BBR flagship artist has been virtually everywhere this week. He was there mingling in the crowd at Hard Rock, before he had to make his way over to the BMI soiree. Prior to CMA voting, the young star was delivering Double Platinum plaques around town to commemorate his top-selling My Kinda Party album, and label execs Jon Loba, Lee Adams, Carson James, and Rick Shedd presented him with his own special version of the milestone. He’s nominated for just about every CMA award on the docket, including Entertainer of the Year, and he’ll perform on the show tonight. He has also started working on the followup to My Kinda Party.
James Wesley was up next, in a bizarrely mismatched green trucker hat and red graphic t-shirt. Thankfully his questionable sartorial choices didn’t keep him from delivering the vocal goods, including his recent hit “Didn’t I.”
The news of the evening was Stoney Creek’s addition of Randy Houser, who reminded the audience that he’s one of the best singers in town with a short acoustic performance accented by barrelhouse piano. Seriously Stoney Creek, get this dude something gritty and soulful, and I’ll be first in line to buy it.
Stoney Creek breakout success Thompson Square was the headlining act, and the husband-wife team charged through an amped up set that included recent CountryBreakout No. 1 “I Got You,” as well as album cuts like “Glass” and “As Bad As It Gets.” SC boss April Rider interrupted Keifer and Shawna’s set to present them with a plaque commemorating their smash “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not,” which is apparently the most-played country song of 2011. The duo responded by finishing their set with a triumphant, grin-inducing run through the endlessly catchy tune. Tonight they’re nominated for New Artist of the Year and Duo of the Year.
The Hard Rock’s open bar kept the cocktails and beer flowing, and servers roved with platters of satay and coconut shrimp, in addition to a table well-stocked with fresh veggies, assorted cheeses and spinach dip. Spotted in the crowd were Ebie McFarland and team (Amanda, Leigh, and Darlene), Craig Bann, Michelle Goble, John Shomby, Jaime Marconette, Natalie Kilgore, MR staffers Caitlin Rantala and Eric Parker, and Billboard chart guru Wade Jessen.