Revving Up: Attending the CCMA's

by SaskMusic

August 7, 2009 in Ask Percy

Dear Percy,
I am going to be attending my first CCMAs this year. Can you provide me with a quick Survivor’s Guide? Just want to make sure that I have a great time.
- Revving Up

Hey Revving Up,

Okay my little land-dwelling friends…here is a very "Cole’s Notes" survivor guide to Country Music Week. Probably a lot of this common sense could apply to any major music event.

Fish Out of Water

Some very basics – especially for my little fishes who may not spend a tremendous amount of time around the country music industry: not everyone wears a Stetson, Wranglers, and a pair of Lucchese’s, talks with an accent, and/or has “big hair". That being said, any of the above are perfectly acceptable at the CCMAs. What’s my point? Be who you are, wear what you wear, and talk as you talk. Of course, you want to dress appropriately for events. Formal events require more formal wear, etc, but there's no need to go out and buy a cowboy hat or get a personality makeover. There’s a good chance you’ll come off as fake or that you're mocking a long-standing and legitimate part of the industry.

A Fish without a Dorsal Fin is an Electric Eel
(in other words, it's not an eel at all)

And, please do your research…you should have some sense of the “who’s who” in the country music industry and what they have been up to. Nothing worse than congratulating someone on an achievement that is three years old, or congratulating them for a success that wasn’t even theirs. Worse yet would be introducing yourself to someone, thinking that they are someone else, and saying that out loud to them.

Gills Can Be Deceiving...or, the Coral Has Ears Everywhere

This is a very small community. The more genre-specific an event is, the closer the community, and the country community tends to be a very close-knit one. A few points to consider: be wary of name-dropping, and be sure that you actually have a relationship with the person you “claim to be friends with.” Don't badmouth anyone in mixed company - even if everyone else is - because you never know peoples’ motives and relationships. And be careful of what you say even to your closest friends outside of closed doors, because you never know who may be standing behind you.

Blowing All Your Bubbles At Once

Just a comment about slowing your seahorses down: try to pace yourself at these events. A wise friend once told me: always stay one drink behind everyone else. Roll into it fairly evenly, eat well, rest well, and try to work out and you’ll still be standing for the final party.

A Shark Eats Tuna

Keep in mind that there is a very specific pecking order in this world. The more established artists are going to get up first at open mics, jams and guitar pulls. And, as it would go, the larger your status as an artist or industry professional, the more room people give you to foul up on everything stated above. And, especially with the CCMAs, you do have access to “the starfish;” just remember that everyone wants their attention and access to them too. Play it cool…the less starstruck the better. Remember, they still have to clean their gills like everyone else in the morning.

Originally published Summer 2007.

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