Another successful CMA Music Festival is in the rear view, and tens of thousands of fans walked away happy. For the media veterans, having a seat backstage at LP Field during the four nights of press conferences always yields a slew of tidbits and observations. Here are 10 things we learned this year.
1. Brad Paisley and Keith Urban need to take their comedy act on the road. On June 14, Urban was tasked with presenting to Paisley the CMA International Artist Achievement Award. The two stars barely attempted to play it straight.
Urban began by poking fun at Paisley: He indicated that Paisley's international performing experience might be limited to Cabo San Lucas, Niagara Falls and a cruise ship in international waters. While accepting, Paisley spoke about the need to expand the reach of country music "so they don't think we all wear spandex." Urban shot back, "Not in the open, anyway." Paisley then thanked Urban "for coming here in your rocket ship" and referred to Urban's native Australia as "floating Texas." They discussed possibly doing an international tour together someday, but we might just prefer to catch their act at the local comedy club instead.
2. Lady Antebellum's CMT Music Awards performance with Zedd on June 10 wasn't their first collaboration with an EDM artist. The group revealed at LP Field that it has recorded a track with DJ- producer Audien called "Something Better" that fans will get to hear later this summer. Lady A's Hillary Scott said when they were approached about doing the song they were initially "taken aback," but ultimately, "We loved the lyric and melody." Bandmate Charles Kelley called it "powerful" and said, "It kind of took us out of our comfort zone. We're learning as a band to not be too scared about things … We'll always stay true to the country genre, but that doesn't mean we can't have a little fun."
3. Maddie & Tae know how to command a room. While other artists took the stage and waited for questions, these two teens arrived with an agenda, immediately took over the mics and proceeded to thank the media for "telling our story" and "being a part of this crazy, awesome journey." They also brought cupcakes.
4. Dierks Bentley and Brett Eldredge can still get embarrassed in front of their mothers, both of whom were in tow at LP Field. Bentley sheepishly deferred to his when asked a question about being named People magazine's sexiest man in country music. Eldredge looked around the room for his before answering a question about the sometimes overly enthusiastic reactions he gets from female fans.
5. Eldredge plans to celebrate his third No. 1, "Mean to Me," by having a five-course meal while suspended in the sky from a crane and strapped into a chair at a dinner table. He marked his first No. 1 by skydiving and his second by shark-diving without a cage. "For me, life is about the story, and at the end of the day I want to be able to share these stories with everybody," he explained. His mom, meanwhile, is no fan of his stunts.
6. It's hot as hell. While not technically the hottest week of the year, it typically feels like it. Nashville's NewsChannel 5 reports that on-site medical teams treated more than 800 people for heat-related ailments during the four-day festival.
7. This one time, at band camp, a sixth-grade Thomas Rhett quit after just two days and had his mom come pick him up. Rhett also revealed that the most unique thing a fan has ever asked him to sign was a baby's forehead.
8. Speaking of babies, Zac Brown's son Alexander, born in May 2014, weighed 11 pounds, 7 ounces at birth! Zac's wife, Shelly, weighs 100 pounds. You do the math. And 1-year-old Alexander now weighs more than his 4-year-old sister, Joni.
9. Carrie Underwood's dog, Ace, is not at all pleased about her newborn baby Isaiah. "His world has definitely been rocked," she said of the dog, but quipped that she expects the pup to come around once the baby starts dropping food.
10. Darius Rucker is a media junkie. He admitted to having a dozen TVs on his tour bus and watching three at a time. He also bought PlayStations for his opening acts on tour so they could join his apparently competitive Madden league.
This article first appeared in Billboard's Country Update -- sign up here.