Jon Pardi Set to Host 2019 CMA Touring Awards in Nashville Jan. 21
The Country Music Association will honor Conway Entertainment Group/Ontourage Management founder/owner Tony Conway with its 2019 CMA Touring Lifetime Achievement Award. Conway received the news during last week’s CMA Board of Directors meeting in Nashville, where he received a standing ovation from Board members and CMA staff.
Country artist and 2017 CMA New Artist of the Year Jon Pardi will host the 2019 CMA Touring Awards, taking place Tuesday, Jan. 21 at Nashville’s Marathon Music Works. The CMA Touring Awards highlight vital behind-the-scenes members of the touring industry.
“I am extremely humbled and honored to receive this award from the CMA,” Conway shared. “I have to give credit to all of the artists that have allowed me to represent them and to all the agents, managers, promoters and staff I have worked with the last 44 years. They are the reason for any success I may have achieved. It takes a team and I have worked with THE BEST.”
Conway, who currently manages ALABAMA, Lorrie Morgan and Randy Travis, is widely recognized as a leader in live event production. He coordinated the very first FarmAid show in 1985, working closely with many installations of the event since. Conway was also Executive Producer for the annual CMA Music Festival (formerly Fan Fair and now CMA Fest) for 11 years and was instrumental in moving the festival from the old Nashville Fairgrounds to its current downtown Nashville footprint.
A native of Bardstown, KY, Conway was drawn to the world of entertainment from his earliest years. His fascination with music, live shows, movies, and circuses continued throughout his childhood. By the time he was a teenager, he was playing drums in both the school band and a local rock-n-roll band. Conway opened his first talent agency in Lexington, KY after graduating college, and in 1974 he moved to Nashville, soon after meeting renowned talent agent Buddy Lee. Lee quickly took notice of the energetic and driven young Conway and asked him to come to work for him, resulting in the beginning of a long, mentoring friendship and career for Conway at Buddy Lee Attractions, Inc.
Conway was named President of Buddy Lee Attractions in 1987 and eventually became CEO and co-owner of the company in 1998. During his tenure, Conway represented some of music’s most beloved and legendary artists including Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks, The Highwaymen (comprised of Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings), Bill Monroe, Dixie Chicks, Roy Orbison, George Strait, George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Marty Stuart, Ronnie Milsap and Emmylou Harris. He has helped guide the successful careers of some of Country Music’s biggest stars, such as Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, Tracy Lawrence, Jason Aldean, Lorrie Morgan, Sawyer Brown, Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean, Jamey Johnson, Ricky Van Shelton, and John Michael Montgomery among others. Major, successful tours booked by Conway include The Highwaymen Featuring Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, and Waylon Jennings; Neil Young & The International Harvesters; Garth Brooks’ World Tour; and The Dixie Chicks World Tour.
Conway is the recipient of numerous industry awards including two CMA SRO Awards (now referred to as CMA Touring Awards) for Agent of the Year, Performance Magazine’s Agent of the Year, the Hubert Long Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Talent Directors as well as the Colonel Tom Parker Lifetime Achievement Award. He also received International Entertainer Buyers Association’s (IEBA) Talent Agent of the Year and in 2017 was inducted into the IEBA Hall of Fame. Conway was recognized as Volunteer of the Year by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce in addition to receiving CMA’s President Award honor for leading the re-design and transformation of Fan Fair to the CMA Music Festival.
In 2010, Conway took his 35 years of experience and industry contacts and struck out on his own, forming Conway Entertainment Group/Ontourage Management. With this new venture, Conway draws upon his past as he embraces a future that fully utilizes his strengths in artist touring, personal management and live event production.
The CMA Touring Lifetime Achievement Award is for an individual who has accomplished the highest level in the Country Music field of touring. The Award was established to recognize an individual who has achieved both prominence and stature at the highest level. The individual receiving this Award 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.
CMA/ACM award-winning artist Jon Pardi is known for his “state-of-the-art blend of traditional instrumentation and progressive grooves that point to country’s future,” (Rolling Stone) and as “a leader among a growing number of artists bringing back fiddle, steel and twang” (People). Named one of Billboard’s Most Anticipated Albums of Fall, Pardi’s latest album Heartache Medication follows the California native’s breakthrough, Platinum-selling album, California Sunrise which debuted No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. As noted in The New York Times, Pardi “split the difference between Alan Jackson and Bob Seger” with California Sunrise, and Heartache Medication continues that direction with honky-tonkin’, boot-stompin’ tracks about whiskey, women and song. A third time co-producer, Pardi’s multi-platinum, chart-topping hits “Dirt On My Boots,” “Head Over Boots,” “Heartache On The Dance Floor” and “Night Shift” have been noted for “attracting youthful crowds” (NPR), while Heartache Medication is “an emboldened work, a distilling of his sound into a more potent form — one that draws both vitality and assurance from his anything-but-sterile relationship to his tradition’s modern era” (NPR).
See below for the final nominees for the 2019 CMA Touring Awards. CMA members in the following membership groups were eligible to vote on the 15 categories up for awards: Advertising/Public Relations/Media, Affiliated, Artist, Entertainment Services, Marketing/Digital, Musician, Personal Manager, Record Label, Talent Agent, Talent Buyer/Promoter, Touring, and Venue. Each category contains five nominees.
CATEGORY 1 – BUSINESS MANAGER OF THE YEAR
- Renee Allen – Arnie Barn, Inc.
- David Boyer – Flood, Bumstead, McCready & McCarthy, Inc.
- Duane Clark – Flood, Bumstead, McCready & McCarthy, Inc.
- Mary Ann McCready – Flood, Bumstead, McCready & McCarthy, Inc.
- Dwight Wiles – Wiles + Taylor & Co., PC
CATEGORY 2 – COACH/TRUCK DRIVER OF THE YEAR
- Kelley Beck – Blake Shelton
- Caleb Garrett – Luke Bryan
- Ronnie Goodwin – Eric Church
- Larry Phye, Jr. – Chris Stapleton
- Rob Shepherd – Darius Rucker
CATEGORY 3 – FRONT OF HOUSE (FOH) ENGINEER OF THE YEAR
- Jared Blumenberg – Florida Georgia Line
- Billy Moore – Eric Church
- Chris Rabold – Kenny Chesney
- Arpad Sayko – Chris Stapleton
- Ian Zorbaugh – Old Dominion
CATEGORY 4 – LIGHTING DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
- Michael “Sparky” Anderson – Blake Shelton
- Scott Cunningham – Florida Georgia Line
- Gavin Lake – Eric Church
- Chris Reade – Dierks Bentley
- Alec Takahashi – Thomas Rhett
CATEGORY 5 – MANAGER OF THE YEAR
- Clint Higham – Morris Higham Management
- Mary Hilliard Harrington – Red Light Management
- Jason Owen – Sandbox Entertainment
- Chris Parr – Maverick
- John Peets – Q Prime South
CATEGORY 6 – TOUR MANAGER OF THE YEAR
- Todd Bunch – Eric Church
- Kevin Canady – Blake Shelton
- Tommy Garris – Old Dominion
- Jason Hecht – Chris Stapleton
- Mike Kelly – Darius Rucke
CATEGORY 7 – MONITOR ENGINEER OF THE YEAR
- Bryan “Opie” Baxley – Kenny Chesney
- Wesley Crowe – Thomas Rhett
- Stuart Delk – Rascal Flatts
- Marc Earp – Eric Church
- Scott Tatter – Dierks Bentley
CATEGORY 8 – PRODUCTION MANAGER OF THE YEAR
- Jay Ballinger – Dierks Bentley
- Todd Ortmeier – Florida Georgia Line
- Jason Parkin – Darius Rucker
- Kevin Twist – Thomas Rhett
- Ed Wannebo – Kenny Chesney
CATEGORY 9 – PUBLICIST OF THE YEAR
- Tyne Parrish – The GreenRoom
- Carla Sacks – Sacks & Co.
- Jessie Schmidt – Schmidt Relations
- Jensen Sussman – Sweet Talk Publicity
- Wes Vause – Warner Music Nashville
CATEGORY 10 – TALENT AGENT OF THE YEAR
- Marc Dennis – CAA
- Darin Murphy – CAA
- Aaron Tannenbaum – CAA
- Nate Towne – WME
- Jay Williams – WME
CATEGORY 11 – TALENT BUYER/PROMOTER OF THE YEAR
- Ben Farrell – Lon Varnell Enterprises
- Ali Harnell – Live Nation Nashville
- Patrick McDill – Live Nation Nashville
- Louis Messina – Messina Touring Group
- Ed Warm – Joe’s Bar
CATEGORY 12 – TOUR VIDEOGRAPHER/PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR
- Zach Belcher – Dierks Bentley
- Jeff Johnson – Chris Young/Carrie Underwood
- Michael Monaco – Luke Bryan
- Matt Paskert – Jake Owen
- Jill Trunnell – Kenny Chesney
CATEGORY 13 – TOUR VIDEO DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
- Brian Carico – Blake Shelton
- Milojko Dobrijevich – Jason Aldean
- Chris Jones – Eric Church
- Ryan Rushing – Luke Bryan
- Mark Willcox – Chris Stapleton
CATEGORY 14 – TOURING MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR
- Wyatt Beard – Kenny Chesney
- Tyler Chiarelli – Florida Georgia Line
- Dan Hochhalter – Dierks Bentley
- Bennett Lewis – Maren Morris
- Pete Sternberg – Brothers Osborne
CATEGORY 15 – VENUE OF THE YEAR
- Ascend Amphitheater – Nashville, TN
- Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion – Gilford, NH
- Bridgestone Arena – Nashville, TN
- Joe’s Bar – Chicago, IL
- Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Morrison, CO