My time in Las Vegas

Mon, Apr 11, 2011 at 3:06 AM By: KathieGunn

I am still so tired from my six days in Las Vegas…and I don’t have a “killer” story to tell, other than yes, I was with SugarLand as their talent all day Saturday, Sunday and (with Jennifer) Monday…so the achy knees, back, feet, legs, etc. are ALL just reminders of another amazing time.

I wish I could write an hour by hour, entertaining narrative of the time, but alas, if I do that it may be weeks (and still probably not too entertaining!), so I will just ramble and share things about the weekend as they come to mind…hope that is okay with everyone…

I watched Keith Urban’s rehearsal on Friday…he clearly loves playing guitar….each artist usually does his/her song three times during rehearsal, and in between, there is down time while production does what it does…during these times, Keith just sat on his stool and played rifts…no known song (that I recognized) but beautiful melodies…he’s very mellow…and so very talented…

Friday night, I went to Mandalay Bay for the escort meeting and venue walk through. Once we walked into the backstage area, we could hear someone singing…I knew it Kristian right away (he was rehearsing “Atlantic City.” Of course I wanted to rush inside the house, but had to stay with the group…but how great it was to hear him behind the meeting instructions! We eventually walked back out to the lobby area for the end of the meeting. As the group broke up, I heard someone say “Are you Kathie Gunn?” It was Kmak (Krista) from Canada, Chelsea (Babygirl4) from Michigan, and Logan (LoganTeach) from CA. How fun it is meeting SugarFriends! We talked for about a half hour…lots of smiles and some laughs…great people from the first moment! I agreed to look for them at the fan jam…

On Saturday, I reported for duty at 9am, and promptly at 9:30am, the black SVU with driver John (SugarLand always uses the same driver in LV) pulled up. Hellen entered first and I re-introduced myself and told her I’d be the escort…Kristian was next and quickly offered a smile and hug…Gail also greeted me with a smile and hug…Jennifer was last in, smiled and said hi…very gracious, very low key…and looking so cute, bandana on her head, little make-up, just lovely…I lead them to the dressing room…and Kristian tried to escape! Ok, he was just going inside the house to see what was going on, but still, I have to keep an eye on him AND Jennifer…he’s wily!

The band was supposed to have arrived before Jennifer & Kristian, but as of that moment, only Brandon had been seen (he walked down from his hotel room). The show people were concerned, so I went into the house, and sure enough, I found Annie with Kristian (I got a nice hug from her right away)…asked her about the others, and got them all to come to the check in table…only Thad was MIA…Annie said “I think I can find my husband,” which sounded so cute! I warned the band escort that this group likes to scramble and make their escort crazy, and oddly enough, not one of them said anything to the contrary…in fact, Scott had quite a devilish grin on his face!

When it was time for SugarLand’s first rehearsal, the band went out first, then Kristian, and then Jennifer…I knew what song they’d be performing (thanks to reading a show run-down the day before), and was so excited to hear “Tonight” live. Again, songs are usually run through three times during the first rehearsal…and the first two times, Jennifer’s mike was not on (or didn’t have volume), but standing maybe 25 feet from her on stage, there was no mistaking the beauty and power of Jennifer’s voice. By the third time, I honestly had goose bumps and was teary eyed (they sappy fan in me showed up at that moment!). As they came off stage, I walked back to the dressing room next to Jennifer and told her that I love the song and was so happy that everyone would be able to see SL perform it…she thanked me and said she liked the song too! I immediately sent a text to my friend Toni, stating “SugarLand music makes me SO happy!”

There was some down time after that, as the next rehearsal would be with Rihanna…I won’t be negative, but the hoops everyone from the show had to jump through for her camp was ridiculous. This is my fifth year working the ACMAs, and NO country star, from Reba to George Strait to Carrie Underwood, etc., ever made demands such as I saw on this day. Rihanna was late, and just before her arrival, the call came “she will NOT stop at the check in table.” Fine. A few moments later, in she came, looking beautiful, all smiles, said hello to all at the check in table, and then immediately wanted to go to see Jennifer. Ok, so maybe it isn’t Rihanna that is the diva, its just her people? Maybe?

I had only heard “California King Bed” once before heading to Las Vegas…but after watching Jennifer and Rihanna rehearse it four (yep) times, I knew every word, and actually liked it. (Of course, I thought Jennifer sounded amazing!) It was fun seeing the “choreography” as Jennifer and Rihanna worked out where to be at what point in the show…hearing Jennifer called the backup singers “pretty girls” and complimenting their talent…watching Thad and Scott jamming as Rihanna stood between them…seeing Jennifer rockin’ out to Rihanna’s guitar player….great fun…and with that, the day was over, 7 hours later…well, except for the SL band, who stayed to rehearse some songs for the fan jam after party…truly, they were such hard workers all weekend…learned over a dozen songs so they could back up other artists...put in LONG days at the venue…and every time they passed me (and there were MANY!) they were always smiling…just classy people =)

I should mention here that at one point in the middle of the day, I met Whitney…she was backstage after rehearsal, and I introduced myself…she didn’t run away screaming when I said my name, nor did she have me banned, so I think we were ok =) I also had a chance to chat a bit with Alison…who was running the whole time…she works hard!

Since I had the evening free on Saturday, I was able to meet up with Joe (Outlaw) for dinner…I was hungry and tired, and he was kind enough to come to my hotel…and to treat me to an early dinner (yummy pot roast, and I cleaned my plate!). Poor Joe, though, got stuck with the bill and too much food, thanks to the waitress not getting the order right…but we sat and chatted in the café for over two hours, which I thoroughly enjoyed…thanks again, Joe =)

Sunday…show day…a long day…a full dress-rehearsal is run, beginning at 10am, mainly for timing…its run through like the real show…actually having the acts perform at the time they will during the actual show, and breaks are times as the commercials will be during the show…so it’s a “tight ship” once it gets started. My very professional artists, SugarLand, reported exactly on time…and were on stage for “Tonight” at 28 mins past the hour. This was a run-through for the drive Reba and Blake made from the MGM to Mandalay Bay…so they were there to introduce SugarLand during rehearsal. They arrived during the “commercial,” so they had time for hugs and some visiting with Jennifer and Kristian until they got their cue…and after the introduction, they came down into the house…Blake just behind me, Reba just a foot to my left...and “Tonight” began…full run…WOW…Blake was actually swaying and Reba was smiling and swaying next to me…again, I had tears…and when the song was over, Reba set down all she had in her hands to clap and cheer…she is so classy!

Back to the dressing room…one time back in the house when J&K announced an act…and then it was just waiting for the cue for the performance with Rihanna…who (guess what?) was NOT in the venue at the time she was expected…nor five minutes later, etc. etc…the time of the performance neared, the band went on stage, and then Kristian…when the stage manager came to get Jennifer, Rihanna was still not there, but out walked Jennifer anyway…and lo and behold, JUST as Jennifer turned the corner to go on stage, in rushed Rihanna, literally as the director announce “one minute!” Ears and sound boxes on, boom, on stage…lordy! Did I mention how professional SugarLand is?

Interjecting a side memory…during The Band Perry’s rehearsal, Kristian came out of the dressing room during their first verse, eyes big as silver dollars…I thought something was wrong…but he looked at me and said “these guys are GOOD…going to be BIG, you just watch!” and then he rushed out to watch the rest of their rehearsal…when they were done, he was walked back to their dressing room with them and went in for a while. I later met Kimberly Perry (very warm and friendly) and told her what Kristian had said…she said that Kristian was very supportive and encouraging to them (more class!)

Rehearsal break…SugarLand left to dress for the orange carpet, I would meet them back at Mandalay Bay afterwards, so I took a walk in the mall, got lunch, sat in Starbucks, read the paper and people watched…and then made my way back to the events center. I tracked down Chelsea, Krista, and Logan in line, who had now been joined by Emily (emilyevans), so I chatted with them a few minutes before I had to get back to work (so GLAD we met!)

SugarLand arrived from the orange carpet looking stunning…Jennifer’s cut-out back dress was gorgeous (Spiderman dress, as labeled by Kristian) and Kristian looked as dapper as ever. Jennifer’s hair was “up” and very pretty as she went into the dressing room…

Show starts, stage manager calls for SugarLand at the designated time, and out walks Jennifer in a beautiful pantsuit, and LONG hair…wow! (Fun behind the scenes moment…lots of “anti-static spray” on the wispy parts of Jennifer’s outfit just before going on stage.) “Tonight” performed in front of the full house of screaming fans…totally INCREDIBLE! The lights, the music, and Jennifer’s voice (the additional “God-given” instrument on stage)…truly amazing…

Another side note here…I quickly met Jennifer’s mother…lovely and gracious…

The performance with Rihanna for the show was smoother than rehearsal…I think…once the music started…another wow….Jennifer’s purple pantsuit was gorgeous…and her voice SO fit this song…I had kidded Scott earlier about him having hair almost as big as Rihanna, as during rehearsal, she had “big orange hair,” but for the show, she went to her short look, so I give the hair award to Scott!



SugarLand wins duo…happy people all around…show over…time for Fan Jam!

Earlier, when SugarLand went into the house to do the intro, I stayed near the stage, and heard someone call me…it was Gia (from Costa Rica) sporting a new short haircut…so cute, and so fun to see her and get a big hug. I had to run backstage with SL, but we hoped to meet up later…

SugarLand opened the fan jam after party right away, with “Stuck Like Glue,” then “Little Miss,” “Everyday America” with remix (Including “9 to 5” this time around) and then “Like a Prayer,” joined by Little Big Town…it was announced that Brandon would be getting married then next day, so Karen & Kimberly “decorated” him a bit with boas and feathers…I saw a man with a little girl, about 6 yrs old, on his shoulders, and she was signing every word of the SL songs, which just made me smile…and all too soon, they were done. Quick good-byes and “see you tomorrows” and off went Jennifer…

I was in and out of the fan jam party for the early parts…but I grabbed a seat and was able to watch Little Big Town (bravo!), David Nail (very dapper), Eric Church (I liked him…he’s “cool”) and Casey James (he continues to improve since Idol)…and I really enjoyed Laura Bell Bundy’s hostessing (she’s very cute and clever)…loved her singing with Kristian…and got chills when Kristian sang “Atlantic City.” One of my favorite “oldies” is “Play that Funky Music”, and having Miranda and Blake pop in to perform that was quite entertaining! The Band Perry closed the night…and yep, Kristian is right, they are going to be BIG! A fun moment was when Laura Bell Bundy brought up four audience member to dance behind her as she sang…one of the chosen was our very own Gia! And the winner and most entertaining was Deb from San Jose (who is also part of the SL boards)….just a fun night!

More to come…about Monday and Girls’ Night Out…

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  2. Santika Dewi avatar

    On Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 7:06 PM, Santika Dewi said:

    They say this town,The stars stay up all night,Don't know can't see'em,For the glow of the neon lights.And it's a long way from here,To the place where the home fires burn,Well it's 2,000 miles and one left turn.

  3. Jennifer The Best avatar

    On Thu, Sep 1, 2011 at 10:15 PM, Jennifer The Best said:

    You Hung Out With SugarLand For Three Days!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!!?? :( Help Me Do That!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

  4. misscj avatar

    On Mon, Aug 8, 2011 at 5:13 PM, misscj said:

    wow....sounds like an awesome time! =)

  5. Courtney avatar

    On Mon, Aug 1, 2011 at 4:44 AM, Courtney said:

    So great! Sounds like you had fun :)

  6. jnettles4lyfe! avatar

    On Fri, Jul 1, 2011 at 12:01 AM, jnettles4lyfe! said:

    Sounds like you had a blast! i would love to be a sugarland escort! how do you even become one of those?

  7. HeatherB avatar

    On Wed, Jun 22, 2011 at 4:33 AM, HeatherB said:

    SO jealous!! That sounds amazing!! Lucky you :D

  8. lilbake avatar

    On Sat, Jun 4, 2011 at 4:04 AM, lilbake said:

    I got tired reading this, can't imagine actually doing it all !

  9. Robyn avatar

    On Tue, May 31, 2011 at 12:35 PM, Robyn said:

    Sounds like an awesome show!

  10. firefighteru7 avatar

    On Fri, May 13, 2011 at 3:08 PM, firefighteru7 said:

    I had an awesome time at the fan jam, im a firefighter paramedic and it was nice to get a break and a vacay to get away from all the stuff i see. being at the fan jam was a break from the craziness & of my job and i love it...

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