cmt

Wanna know what it’s like shooting an outdoor Christmas show? John Bohlinger is here to tell you.

Two weeks ago, I got a call to MD (music direct/bandlead) for CMT Campfire Sessions: Christmas Edition. It’s a fun series where country music artists perform an intimate acoustic set around a rustic campfire at night … surrounded by an army of camera operators, lighting techs, stage hands, hair/makeup artists, PAs, producers, and audio hidden just outside of the camera’s view.

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John Bohlinger shows off his glove game at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium before his musical director gig at the NHL Stadium Series 2022 on February 26.

At a recent outdoor NHL Stadium Series performance, it was so cold that my hands went numb. So, I had to improvise.

Last month, I wrapped the NHL Stadium Series at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium in front of 68,619 screaming fans and an army of TV production, crew, etc. The network chose to lean into Nashville’s Music City theme by including performances by 12 of the city’s biggest names in music. About a month ago, the director, Michael Dempsey, whom I worked with on several award shows, hired me as the music director. Here’s how it went.

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Here's John Bohlinger in action while leading the CMT Music Awards band during the 2021 show.

Photo by Philip Tuck

John Bohlinger has been the musical director for the CMT Music Awards for 12 years. Before that, he was the bandleader for Nashville Star. Here's how he got—and kept—those gigs.

I just completed my 12th year as musical director/bandleader for the CMT Music Awards. You might be wondering: How does a guy of suboptimal intelligence and talent get and keep such a gig? Here's my odyssey.

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