City Slickers

updated 11/28/2005 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/28/2005 AT 01:00 AM EST

Nashville got into a New York state of mind—and vice versa—when the CMA Awards came to the city for the first time Nov. 15, bringing together performers such as Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill and Gretchen Wilson with a few noted local fans. Singer Jamie O'Neal searched for presenter James Gandolfini: "I want to ask him for his pasta recipe." The out-of-towners certainly made themselves at home, partying with Mayor Mike Bloomberg at Gracie Mansion, trading songs with Broadway stars at a Lincoln Center charity event and strutting their style on the red carpet at Madison Square Garden. "My postcard home would say: great food, great shopping, great people," said LeAnn Rimes. The show boasted some pop-country matchups—Bon Jovi sang with Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles, and Elton John duetted with Dolly Parton. Nashville favorites were the big winners, with Keith Urban claiming entertainer and male vocalist of the year and Lee Ann Womack taking home three trophies. With a passel of postparties, "I'll be throwing down!" declared Womack. We're sure New Yorkers can translate.

CMA nominees share their preshow adventures

Getting Red-Carpet Ready

"I have a trainer who's been on the road with me since May. A regular routine is two hours every day. It's about 60 minutes of cardio, running and the elliptical trainer while switching it up with weights. I've lost about 10 lbs. since then and maybe a size or two. When my publicist called me and said, 'Hey you got a nomination,' I was like, 'I better stay in the gym now I'll be wearing a new dress!' I tried on so many dresses. I thought I had the one, but then we got this dress from Kevan Hall and I knew. You just know that's the one. We were looking for something that was simple. To me it's perfect. I got my glam squad here!"

Big City Birthday Weekend

"I love being here, it's overwhelming—a little bit," says Lambert of New York City. "I'm from a small town In East Texas." If the size of New York City wasn't enough to make Lamberts head spin, her activities there certainly were. As a treat for her 22nd birthday on Nov. 12, she arranged to try ice skating for the first time at Central Park's Wollman Rink. "I didn't do terribly bad, but I had a cute instructor holding my hand," she says. "Luckily he held me up." She had plenty more support that night, celebrating her birthday with family and friends at a cowboys-and-Indians-themed party at the East village bar Doc Holliday's. One gift was a taste of home: cowboy hats filled with "cookies my grandmother made." Her N.Y.C. lesson? "I try to walk real fast so people don't think I'm a tourist."

No Sleep till CMAs

Nov. 13 10:17 a.m.: Arrive at LaGuardia airport. Head to 25 straight radio interviews. 6:15 p.m.: Hang with buddy Shooter Jennings at Walk the Line premiere: "It's a reunion."

Nov. 14 4:45 a.m.: Wake-up call for Fox & Friends. "I didn't know 4:45 really existed on the a.m. side." 11 a.m.-midnight: Rehearsals, Tonight Show taping, two parties and a gig. Bed at 1 a.m. "I'm taking two Tylenol PM and trying to knock myself out."

Nov. 15 6:30 a.m.: Wake-up call for ESPN2's Cold Pizza morning show. 6:45 p.m.: Rehearse, hit red carpet, scoop up CMA horizon award. What's next? "I'm going to see Spamalot!"

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