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American Country Music Awards Weekend ACM Experience In Las Vegas
And The Award Goes To....
A Fantastic Debut And A Bonanza For Fans Of Country Music
Whenever the ACM Awards show comes to the city of Las Vegas, the entire city boot-scoots its way into a country kind of mood. And in 2012, for the very first time, there was an event known as the ACM Experience held here. It's a three day free event tailored especially for the country music fan. And, it's so much fun, I don't know where to start!
The ACM Experience was held in 2012 from March 30th until April 1st at Mandalay Bay Hotel And Casino. It was held both inside the hotel, and in a large lot outside in front of the hotel. This was where a barbeque competition took place, along with free stage shows and free truck rides in RAM trucks for those brave enough to take an amazing ride through an obstacle course there. Of course, I wasn't brave enough to do that (no, actually, we just ran out of time... we'll have to do it for sure next year if it's featured again.)
Inside the hotel, fans were able to shop among many booths selling items that are interesting to country music fans and fans of the country lifestyle. And yes, that includes cowboys...woot! Oops, excuse me, I had a moment... There were things available for sale ranging from cowboy hats to belts, jewelry to saddles, jeans to hats and guitars. Anything that makes a person think "now that's country" was for sale there.
Also, they had a stage set up inside the building where some truly good acts performed and one of our favorites was "Joey and Rory." They are an amazing duo of songwriter/singers, that also happen to be husband and wife. Their songwriting credits include "I'm A Little More Country Than That" by Easton Corbin, and "Some Beach" by Blake Shelton. Their most well known song is "Cheater, Cheater"... you might remember, about the "white trash ho" that takes another woman's man... YES, that one!
The song is hilarious, and Joey and Rory are two spectacular singers and songwriters. Their music is full of warmth, so real, and with very honest and relate-able lyrics... like great country music should be. This stage also featured some new up and coming artists. I'll tell you... there are some extraordinarily TALENTED musicians out there, and the competition in any genre of music has got to be overwhelming at times with so much talent competing for the attention of record labels and for the few recording contracts available.
There were booths set up where artists and others would sign autographs. There were also some fun interactive games where fans could win awesome prizes. One of the most fun booths in my opinion was the booth that featured the ACM Awards "backdrop," where you could hold an actual ACM award and have your photo taken against that backdrop, just like the artists do when they win one of these awards. And I'll tell you, that award is HEAVY! You don't expect it to be as heavy as it is. You'll be tempted to give your "speech" thanking all the people that helped you to earn this award (but don't forget to thank your spouse, or you'll be in B~I~G trouble!)
Another fun booth was a game booth where you could play games of skill to win prizes. My husband is GREAT at these types of games (one of them was shooting a rubber band to knock down six soda cans and you had to knock ALL of them down in one shot). He won two out of the three games that were available, and we ended up winning FREE tickets to a Lionel Ritchie tribute show that was being taped for television the day after the ACM Awards show.
The show aired on CBS on April 13th, 2012. We couldn't believe we actually won tickets to that! Luck may not be on our side when it comes to slot machines, but this day it was definitely on our side!
Outdoors where the barbeque trucks were busy cooking for a competition that was going to happen later in the evening, they were giving away free barbeque. In another booth, you could get free samples of Dr. Pepper 10 (a new 10 calorie soda that is very good). Other booths were set up as well and one of the most popular booths was the Papa Johns booth where they handed out free pizza. Later in the evening, Papa John (the owner and founder of Papa Johns) showed up and was having pictures taken with people and signing autographs for them.
On Saturday night, there was a FREE outdoor concert featuring Thompson Square, John Rich, Craig Morgan, Lee Brice, the Gatlin Brothers and several others. It was a fantastic show. It was was also a tribute show honoring military men and women. So many of these events were free, that's what amazed us. You could have an extraordinarily fun day and it didn't have to cost a penny. There were things you could buy if you wanted to, but overall, it was a very inexpensive and fun day.
On Sunday, the fun continued with more booths to visit and more artists performing and signing autographs for people. It reminded us of what used to be called "Fan Fair" years ago in Nashville, Tennessee. That's back when it was still called Fan Fair. Most of it was held indoors and was a celebration of country music and the country lifestyle. For a first year of having this special event here in Las Vegas, they did a spectacular job and I hope they continue to make the ACM Experience an annual event for years to come. I know we'll be there if they do.
On Sunday night, April 1st, 2012, there was a ticketed event that we attended called ACM Fan Jam, and it was the event that rounded out the ACM Experience weekend. Great floor tickets were available for just $69, and buying floor tickets is definitely THE way to go. You can also get tickets for about $20 cheaper, but then you wouldn't be able to get near the floor, or close to the band hosting the show, especially if they decide to stay longer and perform a FULL show after the ACM Awards.
This year, the ACM Fan Jam was hosted by the Zac Brown Band and not only did they stay to do a full show after the ACM Awards, the show they did was being taped for future airing as a television special on GAC TV. It was a spectacular two hour show, in addition to the already three hours we had spent watching and participating in the ACM Awards.
In my opinion, the ACM Fan Jam show held at Mandalay Bay is the ONLY way to go to see the ACM Awards. You could buy tickets and see the majority of the show at the MGM Grand Garden Event Center over at the MGM Hotel, but the tickets to that show are a lot more expensive and there is a lot more "tension" in the air there. The show over at MGM is a live awards show that is being televised. That means that everyone is dressed up and it is a much more formal event than the one we attended at Mandalay Bay.
The ACM Fan Jam at Mandalay features a lot more of a relaxed atmosphere and parts of the ACM Awards show were filmed from there as well. We were able to watch Scotty McCreery receive his new artist award and watch some fantastic performances, including Tim McGraw singing a duet with Zac Brown (wearing a "beanie" like Zac wears for a humorous touch). And after the Awards show was over, the Zac Brown Band stayed and put on a full show that was taped for later airing on the Great American Country Channel (GAC). They did an outstanding job, including some special effects like flying through the air... it was an amazing night and one that we won't soon forget.
The entire ACM Experience weekend was very worthwhile and was a great time for all in attendance. It is definitely worth going to if you happen to be visiting Las Vegas during the ACM Awards weekend. It will be the kind of weekend you'll remember for a lifetime.