COUNTRY MUSIC ASSOCIATION CELEBRATES 2018 CMA TOURING AWARDS WINNERS

COUNTRY MUSIC ASSOCIATION CELEBRATES  2018 CMA TOURING AWARDS WINNERS

The Country Music Association presented industry honors at the 2018 CMA Touring Awards last night at Marathon Music Works in Nashville, recognizing Country Music’s top touring professionals. Hosted by Jerrod Niemann, the event celebrated 16 industry professionals, including Louis Messina, CEO of Messina Touring Group, who was honored with the CMA Touring Lifetime Achievement Award.

John Peets, founder of Q Prime South, presented Messina with the Lifetime Achievement Award, an honor given to an individual who has positively impacted and contributed to the growth of touring throughout a course of years that have proven to have an unprecedented historical impact on Country Music fans and the industry alike, and whose presence will have a long-term positive impact on Country Music and CMA for generations to come.

“This is quite an honor. I’ve been so blessed throughout my whole career,” said Messina. “I’m going to steal an Eric Church line because last year when everything came through, we did over 100 stadium shows. I had a record year. I’ve been doing this for 46 years, but last year was crazy. I’ve always been a dreamer. The first time I saw Elvis I knew this was what I wanted to do. I saw him when I was seven-years-old. My big reward is not only seeing my dreams come true, but the artists I work for, seeing their dreams come true. We help create magic night after night. It’s all about the artists, but it’s all about everybody in this room too because when you put us all together, that’s what magic is. When the artist and the audience connect and we’re just that part of it, that’s magical. I salute everybody in this room for being a part of what you all do. This is a night I’m never going to forget.”

Michael Ray made a surprise appearance to congratulate his publicist Ebie McFarland of Essential Broadcast Media with the Publicist of the Year Award. “Ebie, you’re a true visionary who’s worked with and represented so many great people in this industry and top entertainers,” said Ray. “You’re respected by your peers and on behalf of all of your clients and everybody at EBM we are all not only better at what we do because we have you in our corner but we’re better at who we are. Thank you for all that you do. We love you and congratulations.”

Mike Kennedy, drummer for George Strait, posthumously won the Touring Musician of the Year Award. His wife Margaret Kennedy; Terry Hale, bassist for Strait and founding member of Ace in the Hole Band; Mike Anderson and Marty Slayton, also members of Ace in the Hole Band, accepted the Award in his honor. Hale began, “I had the great privilege and measurable pleasure of standing next to Mike Kennedy every night on stage for 30 years. I’d like the thank his wife for sharing him with us.” He finished by recognizing everyone associated with Strait and the tour saying, “It’s not a right, it is indeed a privilege to be able to do this for a living. I think everybody out here knows that, and I thank Mike Kennedy for sharing this with me.”

After winning the Talent Buyer/Promoter of the Year Award, Brian O’Connell, Live Nation Nashville, gave a moving speech thanking everyone who accepted him to Nashville when he was starting out, especially the other nominees in this category that all contribute to the success of the touring industry. He concluded by bringing nominees Ali Harnell, AEG Presents, and Patrick McDill, Live Nation Nashville, plus Mike Dugan, Messina Touring Group, and David Kells, Bridgestone Arena, on stage to recognize each one individually for their accomplishments and passion for the industry.

Artists including Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Little Big Town, Ronnie Milsap, Jake Owen, Blake Shelton, George Strait, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban recorded personal video messages that played throughout the evening to congratulate winners. Prior to the nominees in each category being announced, comical videos were played, with voiceover by Niemann and Joe Denim, highlighting the “Real Crews of Genius” being honored at the 2018 CMA Touring Awards.

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.

The 2018 CMA Touring Awards winners are as follows:

CATEGORY 1 – BUSINESS MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Julie Boos (Flood, Bumstead, McCready & McCarthy, Inc.)

CATEGORY 2 – COACH/TRUCK DRIVER OF THE YEAR
John Stalder (Kenny Chesney)

CATEGORY 3 – FRONT OF HOUSE (FOH) ENGINEER OF THE YEAR
Kirk Kelsey (Keith Urban)

CATEGORY 4 – LIGHTING DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
Philip Ealy (Kenny Chesney)

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

CATEGORY 6 – TOUR MANAGER OF THE YEAR
David Farmer (Kenny Chesney)

CATEGORY 7 – MONITOR ENGINEER OF THE YEAR
Cam Beachley (Miranda Lambert)

CATEGORY 8 – PRODUCTION MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Randy “Baja” Fletcher (Keith Urban)

CATEGORY 9 – PUBLICIST OF THE YEAR
Ebie McFarland (Essential Broadcast Media)

CATEGORY 10 – TALENT AGENT OF THE YEAR
Becky Gardenhire (WME)

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

CATEGORY 12 – TOUR CATERER OF THE YEAR
Dega Catering

CATEGORY 13 – TOURING MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR
Mike Kennedy (George Strait)

CATEGORY 14 – VENUE OF THE YEAR
Ryman Auditorium (Nashville, TN)

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

Louis Messina receives the CMA Touring Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 CMA Touring Awards at Marathon Music Works in Nashville on January 28, 2019. Photo credit: Donn Jones/CMA
Terry Hale, bassist for George Strait and founding member of Ace in the Hole Band; Margaret Kennedy, wife of the late Mike Kennedy; Marty Slayton and Mike Anderson, also members of Ace in the Hole Band, accept Kennedy’s Touring Musician of the Year Award in his honor at the 2018 CMA Touring of the Year Awards at Marathon Music Works in Nashville on January 28, 2019. Photo credit: Donn Jones/CMA
Michael Ray makes a surprise appearance to present Ebie McFarland with the Publicist of the Year Award at the 2018 CMA Touring of the Year Awards at Marathon Music Works in Nashville on January 28, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Berry/CMA
Brian O’Connell receives the CMA Touring Talent Buyer/Promoter Award, welcoming Mike Dugan, Messina Touring Group; nominee Patrick McDill, Live Nation Nashville; David Kells, Bridgestone Arena; and nominee Ali Harnell, AEG Presents, to the stage to share in the recognition at the 2018 CMA Touring Awards at Marathon Music Works in Nashville on January 28, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Berry/CMA
CMA Board officers and winners of the 2018 CMA Touring Awards gather following the industry celebration at Marathon Music Works in Nashville on January 28, 2019. (L – R): Jerrod Niemann, host; Becky Gardenhire, Talent Agent; Margaret Kennedy, wife of the late Mike Kennedy, Musician; Mitch Rutman, Dega Catering, Tour Caterer; Jay Cooper, Tour Video Director; Ebie McFarland, Publicist; Philip Ealy, Lighting Director; Louis Messina, Lifetime Achievement Award; David Farmer, Tour Manager; Sally Williams, Ryman Auditorium, Venue; Julie Boos, Business Manager; Chrissy Hall, Ryman Auditorium, Venue; Brian O’Connell, Talent Buyer/Promoter; John Stalder, Coach/Truck Driver; Sarah Trahern, CMA CEO; and Jody Williams, CMA Board Chairman. Photo credit: Donn Jones/CMA