Now that the 53rd annual Country Music Association awards are history, here are some thoughts about last nights show:

-nice to see the first award was handed out about 13 minutes into the show. I’ve seen other shows where the first award wasn’t presented until 26 minutes after the show started. The Canadian Country Music Awards were very prompt this year with their first award handed out no more than 9 minutes into the show;

-congrats to Garth Brooks on his record seventh Entertainer of the Year award and for an acceptance speech that began with him giving shout-outs to some of the memorable moments of the show;

-Maren Morris’ acceptance speech for her album “Girl” winning Album of the Year, was among the most moving of the night, with an emotional thank you to the late producer, busbee, who passed away last September at the age of 43;

-Luke Combs’ acceptance speeches for Male Vocalist and Song of the Year for “Beautiful Crazy” (which he co-wrote) showed his genuine surprise and his truly heartfelt thanks; BTW the five nominees for Male Vocalist were the same finalists last year – among them, Dierks Bentley has been nominated for the past six years, Keith Urban for the past four years, Thomas Rhett for the past three, and Chris Stapleton had won it for the past four years; this was only Luke’s second year for being nominated in that category;

-like the Male category, the nominees for Female Vocalist were the same nominees as last year with Kacey Musgraves winning only the second time she was nominated in that category; Kelsea Ballerini has been nominated for the past five years, Miranda Lambert has been nominated every year since 2007 (winning 7 times), Carrie Underwood has been nominated every since 2006 (winning 5 times), and this was only Maren Morris’ second nomination in that category;

-Ashley McBryde’s very first CMA award was for new artist of the year. Her acceptance speech was heartfelt but lacked emotion;

-what you might not have known: fiddle player Jenee Fleenor was the first solo female winner of the Musician of the Year award and she was also the first solo female nominee in that category!

-as for the perfomances: Brooks & Dunn’s version of their old hit “Hard Working Man” with Brothers Osborne was probably the hardest, edgiest performance of the night; other performances were spot-on, including the amazing medley at the start of the show featuring so many classic country songs and artists; but while Willie Nelson’s duet with Kacey Musgraves was nice, it also was a bit upsetting to hear how rough Willie sounded (given his age though, it’s understandable), and it was sad to see he had to use a teleprompter to sing the Muppets’ song “The Rainbow Connection,” which I think was an unusual song choice even though Kacey sang it as a child;

-the controversy over the song “Old Dirt Road” with rapper Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus was handled quite well by the CMA. Acknowledging it had won before the show for Musical Event of the Year, was appropriate, without giving it a performance spot on the show (that would only have fanned the flames of the controversy, IMO);

-some surprising absences: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line.

It was an OK show with just a few flubs (like Carrie prompting the teleprompter to move faster and a crowd shot or two where some stars were caught looking disinterested at that moment). The sound was OK, too (I’ve heard worse and I’ve heard better). There was a nice flow to the show. As far as the winners go, I think they all deserved what they received.

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees!