CMA Touring Awards Honor Industry Excellence

Winners of the 2017 CMA Touring Awards on Monday at Marathon Music Works in Nashville. Back row (L-R): Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer; Jamie Cheek; Dan Hochhalter; Tom Addison; Jay Williams; Chris Reade; Billy Moore; and Brian O’Connell. Front row (L-R): Kristian Bush, CMA Touring Awards host; Lisaann Dupont; Sally Williams; Randy “Baja” Fletcher; Ebie McFarland; Kris O’Connor; Ed Wannebo; and Jay Cooper. Photo: Donn Jones/CMA [CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE]

The Country Music Association brought together industry colleagues on Monday night (Jan. 23) to celebrate and honor members of the country music touring industry. The CMA formally recognized industry stalwarts at this year’s CMA Touring Awards (formerly known as the SRO Awards) in 15 categories.

The trophies were presented during an event at Marathon Music Works in Nashville, hosted by five-time CMA Awards winner Kristian Bush. The awards also saw the inaugural CMA Touring Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Randy “Baja” Fletcher.

Greeted by CMA employees and board members, guests happily noshed on hors d’oeuvres while enjoying an open bar. Sitting down for dinner and the awards ceremony, guests dined on southern cuisine including BBQ chicken, mac & cheese pasta, kale salad, and dessert.  A house band was positioned on stage giving a fun, cool vibe between awards.

Dierks Bentley (center) makes a surprise appearance during the 2017 CMA Touring Awards Monday in Nashville to congratulate winners of his touring family. (L-R): CMA Touring Awards host Kristian Bush, Tom Addison, Bentley, Dan Hocchalter, and Chris Reade. Photo: Donn Jones/CMA

“Honoring excellence throughout the industry is a key tenet of CMA. Our touring members bring music directly to the fans night after night. It is an honor to celebrate the hard work and dedication of these professionals,” said Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer.

Each award was preceded by a short humorous video relating to that particular category. Some were viral in nature, while others were comical movie clips from popular films such as This Is Spinal Tap and Jerry Maguire.

Kelleigh Bannen, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Jessi Colter, Adam Craig, Dusty Hill, Jon Langston, Little Big Town, Darius Rucker, Cole Swindell, and Keith Urban recorded personal video messages to congratulate the winners. Former Major League Baseball All-Star Rick Sutcliffe and Miami Marlins Manager Don Mattingly also submitted special videos for Fletcher.

The Beach Boys’ Mike Love and Bruce Johnston applaud Ryman Auditorium Vice President and General Manager Sally Williams as she accepts the trophy for CMA Venue of the Year during the 2017 CMA Touring Awards Monday in Nashville. Photo: Donn Jones/CMA

Dierks Bentley skipped right past the video option and attended personally to present trophies and offer praise to three winners from his touring family. “These guys represent all of us on the road,” remarked Bentley. “These awards are for the folks that make the wheels go ‘round and I’m so proud of every person that works hard night after night to make it all happen. It’s a tough job, but it’s so much fun and it’s all worth it when you can share your success with great people.”

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members The Beach Boys’ Mike Love and Bruce Johnston made an unexpected appearance to celebrate the CMA Venue of the Year, Ryman Auditorium represented by Sally Williams.

Famed country duo and 19-time CMA Awards winners Brooks & Dunn presented Fletcher the inaugural CMA Touring Lifetime Achievement Award. During his decades-long career on the road, Fletcher served as the duo’s Production Manager for 18 years during the ‘90s and ‘00s. His work has been closely intertwined with the careers of Waylon Jennings, Randy Travis, Keith Urban, and others.

“I want to thank God for this lovely life, this journey I’ve had, coming up this fall 50 years in the music industry,” said Fletcher. “It’s unbelievable to have 50 years and six acts…You just do your job and treat people good. Do your job and have fun. I use a lot of Waylon’s lines. He had the best sticker I think of all time. It says, ‘This is no dress rehearsal. We are professionals and this is the big time.’ If you’ve got your faith, family, friends, memories, and humor, you’ve got it all… I thank everyone that I’ve had the pleasure of working with. It is a true honor to receive this award! Thank you!”

Brooks and Dunn present the inaugural CMA Touring Lifetime Achievement Award to Randy “Baja” Fletcher (center) during the 2017 CMA Touring Awards Monday in Nashville. Fletcher served as duo’s Production Manager for 18 years. Photo: Donn Jones/CMA

“It’s truly an honor to be recognized by your peers. I can tell you I love what I do and I love the people I get to do it with. Team Chesney, all those folks, they kick ass every day to get this done. I know everybody else does too, but this is my team and I love it!” shouted CMA Production Manager of the Year Ed Wannebo.

“Thank you to CMA and thank you to everybody who gets on and off a bus every week of the year to make our artists look the best they possibly can,” exclaimed Brian O’Connell, CMA Talent Buyer/Promoter of the Year.

The celebration made clear why country music tours are among the most popular and prosperous business centers for the industry.

Winners in 15 categories were determined by CMA members in the following categories: Advertising/Public Relations/Media; Affiliated; Artist; Entertainment Services; Marketing/Digital; Musician; Personal Manager; Record Label; Talent Agent; Talent Buyer/Promoter; Touring; and Venue. Ballots were tabulated by the professional services firm Deloitte & Touche, LLP.

The 2016 CMA Touring Awards winners are as follows:

CATEGORY 1 – BUSINESS MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Jamie Cheek – Flood, Bumstead, McCready & McCarthy, Inc.

CATEGORY 2 – COACH/TRUCK DRIVER OF THE YEAR
Josh Easter – Kenny Chesney

CATEGORY 3 – FOH (FRONT OF HOUSE) ENGINEER OF THE YEAR
Billy Moore – Eric Church

CATEGORY 4 – LIGHTING DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
Chris Reade – Dierks Bentley

CATEGORY 5 – MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Kerri Edwards – KP Entertainment

CATEGORY 6 – TOUR MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Tom Addison – Dierks Bentley

CATEGORY 7 – MONITOR ENGINEER OF THE YEAR
Phil Wilkey – Keith Urban

CATEGORY 8 – PRODUCTION MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Ed Wannebo – Kenny Chesney

CATEGORY 9 – PUBLICIST OF THE YEAR
Ebie McFarland – Essential Broadcast Media, LLC

CATEGORY 10 – TALENT AGENT OF THE YEAR
Jay Williams – WME

CATEGORY 11 – TALENT BUYER/PROMOTER OF THE YEAR
Brian O’Connell – Live Nation

CATEGORY 12 – TOUR CATERER OF THE YEAR
Dega Catering

CATEGORY 13 – TOURING MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR
Dan Hochhalter – Dierks Bentley – Fiddle

CATEGORY 14 – VENUE OF THE YEAR
Ryman Auditorium – Nashville, Tenn.

CATEGORY 15 – TOUR VIDEO DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
Jay Cooper – Kenny Chesney

 

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Sherod Robertson is President and Owner of MusicRow Enterprises. He oversees all operations and develops strategic initiatives for MusicRow magazine, RowFax, and MusicRow's CountryBreakout chart. Robertson previously served as Director of Finance of Arista Records after beginning his career as Vice President of Finance and CFO at Reunion Records.

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