The CMT Awards kick up the country in Austin

If this is Austin ...

Photo courtesy CMT

For the first time ever, the CMT Awards kicked the dust off of Nashville and headed to the Lone Star State! CMT hosted free star-studded events throughout the week in Austin, all leading up to the big show at the Moody Center on Sunday, April 2. Here's everything that went down during the 2023 CMT Music Awards in Austin.

First, pre-show tapings happened all week long. Tyler Hubbard, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Kane Brown, and Katelyn Brown all recorded performances in front of the Capitol building on Congress Avenue. But it was CMT Crossroads that really rocked: Airing on CMT in May, the special features Darius Rucker and The Black Crows singing their most famous hits, including one from Hootie and the Blowfish.

Fans who couldn't make it to the main event could also attend a block party. The two-day, family-friendly event featured free live music, artist meet-and-greets, swag, games, and more. Guests could also take advantage of multiple chances to win tickets to the awards. CBS Austin's Trevor Scott hosted the parties, and both days featured DJ sets from Austinite DJ Cassandra. Performers included Hannah Ellis, Matt Koziol, Danielle Bradbery, and more.

As for the big show, the aqua carpet (red carpets are so last year) was packed with up-and-comers, musicians you've known and loved for years, and so many media outlets. The University of Texas band and cheerleaders even performed. On the outside portion of the carpet, fans could see entrances from big stars like Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood, host Kelsea Ballerini and her beau, Outer Banks star Chase Stokes.

Getting things started on the live show, Shelton kicked things off by saying, "If this is Austin, I still love you!" He then performed his newest hit "No Body" against a neon backdrop that highlighted guitars, cowboy hats, and the Austin sign that once stood above the Real World Austin house. It was awesome to see how the Moody Center was transformed for the event with not a bad seat in the house.

Austin's own Gary Clark Jr. paid tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan while Jackie Venson played guitar for Female Video of the Year winner Lainey Wilson. Texans Cody Johnson and Billy Gibbons honored Lynyrd Skynyrd alongside Slash, Paul Rogers, Chuck Leavell, Warren Hayes, Wynonna Judd, and LeAnn Rimes. Other collaborations included Gwen Stefani performing "Just a Girl" with Carly Pearce and Alanis Morissette rocking "You Oughta Know" alongside a group of CMT's Next Women of Country.

The big winner of the night was Jelly Roll, snagging three CMT Awards for Breakthrough Male Video of the Year, CMT Digital-First Performance of the Year and Male Video of the Year. All three awards were for his song "Son of A Sinner" which he performed to a roaring crowd at the event. Upon winning Male Video, the rapper turned country singer got choked up saying, "I'm a little emotional. I started drinking. I didn't think I'd win again."

All in all, the entire week was filled with high energy and good vibes. Here's hoping it keeps going country strong here in Austin in 2024 and beyond!

If you missed the live show, CMT will air CMT MUSIC AWARDS EXTENDED CUT with an added 30 minutes of new performances and extra bonus content on Thursday, April 6, at 7 pm on CMT.

CMT Awards Carrie Underwood

Photo courtesy CMT

Carrie Underwood graced Austin with her presence last week.

Photo courtesy of Charley Crockett

CMT Music Awards announce nominees for first-ever Austin show

country moves south

Austin’s pride for local musicians runs deep, and festivals bring the really big names the city can’t claim; One thing the city is fairly new at is hosting national award shows, and the fan-voted CMT Music Awards give Austin a chance to participate in the shmaltz while leaning into its country side. The ceremony is scheduled for April 2 at Moody Center, hosted by 2023 nominees Kane Brown and Kelsea Ballerini and airing live on CBS.

This is the first year in the award ceremony’s 56-year history that it will be held in Austin, rather than Nashville where Country Music Television (CMT) is based. Ballerini announced the change at Moody Center while one of country music’s top talents, Carrie Underwood, was performing a sold-out show.

Underwood is the most awarded artist in the history of the awards, carrying a total of 25 wins, and will perform at the ceremony. She is nominated for two awards in 2023, for Video of the Year (“Hate My Heart”) and Female Video of the Year (“Ghost Story”).

In the same two categories, 2022 Breakout Artist of the Year Lainey Wilson holds nominations (“wait in the truck” and “Heart Like A Truck,” respectively), plus two more in Collaborative Video of the Year and CMT Performance of the Year. This collection of four nominations puts Wilson in the spotlight as the most-nominated performer of 2023, followed by former small-town Texan Cody Johnson, first-time nominee Jelly Roll, and co-host Kane Brown, with three each.

New in 2023 is the distinction between Male and Female Breakthrough Video of the Year, expanding the categories to 12 acts total. This means seven out of the nine categories are music video-based, with the remaining two representing performances on the network or its social media channels.

One Austin-based performer stands out among the 21 first-time nominees: Charley Crockett has been making a name locally, beyond the usual confines for country music, appearing both at Austin City Limits Festival and debuting on Austin City Limits Live in 2022. He also won Musician of the Year and Best Country at the Austin Music Awards the same year.

Another Austin breakout of the past few years, Black Pumas, receives a nomination along with other non-Country acts (including Katy Perry, with her first nomination since 2015).

See all the nominees and vote at vote.cmt.com. Tickets are on sale now at moodycenteratx.com. Tune in live at 7 pm on CBS, or stream on demand on Paramount+.

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Everything to know about Austin's 4th annual Stay Black and Live Juneteenth Festival


A weeklong celebration of Black history is returning to Austin with a focus on local organizations and people that are making long-lasting impacts in the local community. The George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center is hosting the fourth annual Stay Black and Live (SB&L) Juneteenth Festival June 12-19.

The festival began as a livestream in 2020, and has since captured the attention of community members citywide, making it the cornerstone event for Austin's Juneteenth celebrations. SB&L's theme for 2023 is "Austin Family Reunion," centered around community kickbacks, cookouts, live music, and more.

In a release, Carver Museum director Carre Adams said the museum continuously aims to "honor the significance of Juneteenth" with their festival programming and education.

“We are incredibly proud to continue Austin’s Juneteenth celebration and tradition at our historic museum,” said Adams. “We invite the Austin community to join us as we commemorate this momentous occasion and bring Black history past, present and future to the forefront.”

The festival will begin with a presentation on Monday, June 12 hosted by 2023 Grammy Music Educator Award winner and Desoto, Texas high school music teacher Pamela Dawson. The website states she will sing and use "negro spirituals" during her interactive session to inform guests about "African-American contributions to the sonic art form." Dawson's lecture will take place from 6-8 pm at the Boyd Vance Theater.

Below is a full weekend schedule for the festival:

Thursday, June 15
James Beard award-winning food historian and author Michael W. Twitty will take the stage at the Boyd Vance Theater from 6-8 pm. He'll discuss the eating habits and culinary practices of African Americans, and open a conversation about modern-day abolitionist movements.

Friday, June 16
Austinites of every age are invited to the festival's community kickback and dance party from 6-9 pm at the Carver Museum's Freedom Lawn. The party will be accompanied by high-energy music by DJ Cysum and DJ Dontizl. The event is in partnership with Creative Action, who will also set up a "sensory station" for attendees to express themselves with glowsticks, kites, bubbles, and more. A special performance by BodyRockATX will close out the event.

Saturday, June 17
The day will begin at 10 am with the annual historic Juneteenth Parade through Austin's Rosewood neighborhood. The parade route starts on East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and goes all the way to Rosewood Park.

Following the parade, visitors can gather for the Austin Family Reunion Cookout and Music Festival behind the Carver Museum from 3-6 pm. Veteran pitmasters will provide the delicious barbecue while Lady Joy and KAZI 88.7 DJs host the festivities. Attendees can also enjoy a vendor market, carnival games, workshops, and more.

Saul Paul will host the music festival from 6-9 pm on the Freedom Lawn, with performances by Distinguished Soundz, Stretch Muzik, and DJ Kay Kali. Headliners GAPX will perform at 8 pm.

Monday, June 19
Historian, Harvard law professor, and Pulitzer Prize winner Dr. Annette Gordon-Reed will lead a Free Your Mind Conversation Series discussion about her book, On Juneteenth, from 1-3 pm at the Boyd Vance Theater.

Later that afternoon from 5-8 pm, the museum will host their final event for the week with their "Community Revival and Remembrance" ceremony in partnership with the Austin Justice Coalition. The closing celebration will pay respect to those who were victims of police violence in Texas.

More information about the Stay Black and Live Juneteenth Festival can be found on juneteenthatx.com.

Political satirist John Oliver heads to Austin on standup tour

Terrifying Times, Again

After the end of the regular legislative session, many Texans could use a dose of political satire, and John Oliver is on his way. The comedian and TV writer will perform live at Bass Concert Hall on Sunday, August 20 as part of the John Oliver Live tour.

Oliver is best known as the host and producer of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, a political recap show that showcases the English comedian's biting sarcasm, which has won him several awards: 23 Primetime Emmys, five Writer’s Guild Awards, two Critics’ Choice Television Awards, four Television Critics Association Awards, and two Peabodys.

His work with similar shows spans nearly two decades, starting as a correspondent on The Daily Show in 2006, and including his time hosting podcastThe Bugle with Andy Zaltzman.

Oliver's standup career goes about as far back, starting with his 2008 special, John Oliver: Terrifying Times. Fans may also recognize the actor for his role in Community as a disgruntled, morally-ambiguous professor of psychology, or his voice work on cartoons including Big Mouth, Bob's Burgers, and Rick & Morty.

Tickets will be available to Texas Performing Arts' "Texas Inner Circle" members on Wednesday, June 7. General sales begin on Friday, June 9, at 10 AM. Check Ticketmaster for availability.

Controversial comedian Dave Chappelle plots out 4 Texas arena shows, including Austin

Chappelle's Show(s)

Comedian/actor Dave Chappelle will soon bring his "Dave Chappelle Live" stand-up comedy show to arenas in four cities in Texas, including the Moody Center in Austin on July 14.

Other dates include the American Airlines Center in Dallas on June 29, the Toyota Center in Houston on July 1, and the AT&T Center in San Antonio on July 12.

Chappelle is a complicated figure who's been celebrated for his trailblazing comedy and vilified for his controversial stances. Chappelle's Show, which ran from 2003 to 2006 on Comedy Central, was widely praised, and Chappelle remained extremely popular despite the abrupt end of the show and him choosing to recede from the spotlight in the following decade.

His re-emergence in the late 2010s brought success in the form of three straight Grammy wins for Best Comedy Album, but also continued jokes aimed at transgender people. He has been the subject of multiple protests over that material, and has even had a show canceled by a venue in Minneapolis after receiving criticism for hosting him.

As if to underscore the contentious nature of his comedy, no cellphones, cameras, or recording devices will be allowed at any of the four shows. All phones and smart watches will be secured in special pouches that can be unlocked at the end of the show. Anyone caught with a cellphone in the venue will be immediately ejected.

Tickets for the four shows will go on sale at 5 pm on June 5 at ticketmaster.com.