Alabama Theatre nominated for CMA

A North Myrtle Beach theater earned a nomination for the 46th annual Country Music Association Awards, which will air Thursday on ABC-TV from another venue in the same category.

The Alabama Theatre in Barefoot Landing joined the host Bridgestone Arena and historic Ryman Auditorium, both in Nashville, Tenn., on the ballot for “Venue of the Year” in the association’s SRO – Standing Room Only – Awards, for touring industry honors.

The 13 other SRO categories include Coach/Truck Driver, Tour Manager, and Touring Musician of the Year.

Bob Wood, Alabama Theatre’s president, spoke earlier this month about the recognition. He said all the awards are presented in Nashville, but formal announcement of the SRO and other awards such as the radio stations of the year grouped by their market size, happens in breaks during the broadcast that prior to the TV show: “So and so was the major market country station of the year.”

Question | To be grouped with those among those nominees from Nashville, might that be like Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterbacks Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana and Roger Staubach standing side by side?

Answer | I was just surprised we were even nominated in that company. That was pretty big.

Q. | How did Alabama Theatre officials catch wind of the nomination?

A. | From Del Morris out of Nashville. Del’s a good friend and he was manager of the group Alabama. He was the one who called and notified us.

Q. | Does the theater crew get excited when these country award telecasts happen every year and keep a special connection to Music City?

A. | It’s something that interests us, and I get to vote on it, because I’m a CMA member.

Q. | How do CMA officials orchestrate the process for the awards and voting, which culminates in each gala each autumn?

A. | It’s easier than you think, voting for such things as Album of the Year. … They send you a form, and you can nominate who you want in any of those categories. They compile the votes for each category, and whoever gets three or four of five of the most nominations, they go on the ballot, a second ballot. … The first round of balloting was in either mid- to late summer.

Q. | In two full decades, the Alabama Theatre has so many Country Music Hall of Famers, and CMA and Academy of Country Music (a California-based enterprise) award winners, play its stage annually. What memories remain fresh from some big names to grace your stage?

A. | We were the first show that Faith Hill ever headlined herself. We’ve had Kenny Chesney play here, the last time about three years ago, but he came and did a private concert for his tour sponsor.

Q. | So many acts return regularly to the Alabama. Who has played there the most, and who have been your biggest repeat artists – such as the Oak Ridge Boys – through the years?

A. | Alabama: They’ve been here maybe 120 times. Randy Travis; the Oaks have been here just about every year, once or twice; George Jones; Charley Pride, eight to 10 times; Loretta Lynn, for the most part, just about every year; Patty Loveless, when we first opened up in the early 1990s, she was here for three or four years in a row … we’ve had the Temptations and Four Tops, and the Coasters/Drifters/Platters – they come regularly.

Q. | Have you had favorite artists for whom you always cheer a little extra during any awards broadcast?

A. | I always got excited when Alabama would win, because I know them. It’s exciting when Kenny Chesney wins … he’s been over here three times.

Q. | Ready for another Christmas season, now that “One the New Show” just wrapped up its year, to make way for “The South’s Grandest Christmas Show,” opening Friday for two months?

A. | We close down for a week. … We take down the “One” set and put in the Christmas set. They work hard. We’ve had a Christmas show since 1993, the year we opened, and this will be our 20th year. We change the show every year, and we put new things in it. … But not as much is changed as in “One,” where we change 70 percent every year.

Q. | Will your schedule let you squeeze in attending the CMAs?

A. | No, that’s the night before our Christmas show opens.