Jelly Roll Says Sitting Beside Zach Bryan At The CMA Awards Was Like “Tailgating Outside Of An Arena”

Jelly Roll Ernest
John Shearer/Getty Images for CMA

Ok, this might actually get me to the CMA Awards.

Even though they’re here in Nashville, I’ve never even been to the CMA Awards, mostly because it’s just some made-for-TV production for the most insufferable people from all the major record labels to come together and pat themselves on the back because their label had a hit song from an artist that can’t even sell out their high school gymnasium.

No thanks, I’ll just watch on TV.

But hearing Jelly Roll talk about his experience at the awards show, he made it sound like a blast – so maybe I’ve been missing out.

During his appearance alongside ERNEST on Theo Von’s This Past Weekend podcast, Jelly Roll (whose real name is Jason DeFord) was asked about winning the CMA award for New Artist of the Year, and he revealed that he truly didn’t expect to win because of the stiff competition he was up against in artists like Parker McCollum and Zach Bryan:

“I didn’t think I had a chance to win it. I did not, at all…

Parker had a hell of a year, and I feel like Zach Bryan is the second most-streamed artist in country music right now behind Morgan, so to me it was a no-brainer.”

And Jelly Roll says that as a fan, he was happy to get to sit beside Zach during the show – and it sounds like they had themselves quite the time:

“That was cool for me and him to get that moment because he was awesome. There was a moment where I literally felt like me and him were tailgating and watching a concert outside of an arena. 

He’s over there drinking, I’m ripping a weed pen, he’s cracking beers, there’s empty shot glasses under my seat, he’s got four or five half-drinken drinks under his where everybody keeps bringing him drinks, and we’re just there talking about the music all night.”

That sounds like a hell of a party.

And before the winner was announced he said he had a request for Zach, who he assumed was going to take home the trophy:

“Right before they announced the name, I tapped him on the shoulder and said ‘Say something nice about me, or something funny.'”

Of course Jelly Roll ended up winning the award, and gave us one of the greatest acceptance speeches of all time.

Maybe I’ve been missing out by not going to the CMA Awards. Or maybe you have to hang out with Jelly Roll to get the full experience.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock