With four awards show in five days, it's been a busy week in Nashville. SESAC, ASCAP and BMI honored their top songwriters and publishers earlier in the week, but the festivities wound to a close last night with the 46th annual CMA Awards at Bridgestone Arena. Hosted by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, the three-hour ABC telecast was packed with high energy performances and emotional acceptance speeches, but here's a few things you couldn't glean from the TV screen.
CMA AWARDS 2012: Highlights
• Full CMAs Winners List 
Taylor Gets Hands On | For hours before the broadcast, fans gathered near the Country Music Hall of Fame in downtown Nashville hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite artists. Taylor Swift, Darius Rucker, Dustin Lynch and Jason Aldean were among those who obliged the faithful by signing autographs and posing for photos. Aldean signed a guitar and Swift leaned slightly over the barricade to pose for photos with thrilled fans.
Tim Says Stop Bitching and Vote | When someone in the press room tried to get Tim McGraw to comment on the upcoming election, his response was "Vote! That's what people fought, died and bled for. That's what makes America great is we get to choose our leaders. Do it! No matter what you believe, vote. You can't bitch about it, if you don't vote."
Eric: Country Is Cool Now | Eric Church said backstage he thinks country is cool now with the younger demographic. "When I first started touring, it was not cool to wear a country music artist's t-shirt on a college campus. There was still that stigma that country was outside of cool, and whatever has happened over the last six or seven years, that's all I see now… Frankly I think country music has always been the coolest."
Miranda Defends Blake's Surprise Win | Miranda Lambert was excited about husband Blake Shelton's entertainer of the year win, naturally. Lambert said she had done some "research" on what the entertainer of the year should represent. "It not only meant touring numbers or ticket sales or how much production you had, but the way that you represented country music within the year, the media you do, the work that you do and the TV shows you're on and how much you speak out about country music. When you think of it that way, Blake Shelton deserved to win that trophy tonight. He's on a national television show two nights a week representing us as a genre and I'm so proud of him."
Blake The Ambassador | Blake Shelton, who has a new holiday album out, is getting ready to film a Christmas special for NBC. "It's me. It's just me. I think the title of it is "Not So Family Christmas" for God's sake. As a country guy and us as an industry, we have to keep pushing, and not just musically. We have to keep pushing the boundaries personality-wise. That's something important to me and I don't take lightly. I don't just mouth off and do dumb things. Everything I do, the first thing that's on my mind is 'How dos this reflect on Nashville?' Nashville should never, ever, ever be painted into a corner or pigeon-holed. There's a lot of creative people here and we don't all fit into a mold."
Thompson Square's Shot of Reality | Just down the street from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena, there's a honky tonk called The Wheel with a banner across the front celebrating the success of Thompson Square. The husband and wife duo of Keifer and Shawna Thompson used to be bartenders there. "We were serving drinks and people would come over from the CMA Awards and try to get us to over-serve them," Keifer said backstage. "It's so surreal. We just talked about it and cried about it just now and we're holding each other saying 'Can you believe we were serving drinks down the street, singing for tips for eight years down here on Broadway, and we just won this award?' It's one of the most wonderful nights of our lives by far."
LBT Was Almost SOL | It's a known fact that most women love to shoe shop, but generally not the day of a major awards show. Following dress rehearsals, Little Big Town's Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman were desperate to find new shoes for the show. Both had chosen really high heels for their performance, but due to the unique stage set that had the group performing in individual boxes, the girls needed different, more stable footwear. Thankfully new shoes were located and no one fell out of their box during the performance.
Crafty Brad Wears It Well | Brad Paisley does more than sing, write songs and play a mean guitar. The jovial co-host's artistic streak extends to his wardrobe. He painted the colorful shirt he wore during the performance of his new single "Southern Comfort Zone" and painted the guitar he was playing as well.
Hunter Hayes Gets Blake'd | Backstage after winning the trophy for New Artist of the Year, 21-year-old Hunter Hayes received hearty congratulations from Blake Shelton. "You won NEW Artist man! Shelton exclaimed congratulating his Warner label-mate.
- The 615