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Alan Jackson takes odds on the CMAs

Brian T. Atkinson

Alan Jackson’s new “34 Number Ones” (due Nov. 23) launches its disc two with the Zac Brown Band duet “As She’s Walking Away.” The country stars are scheduled to perform the song Wednesday at the Country Music Association awards in Nashville.

“I heard some of (the Zac Brown Band’s) stuff when it was just demos,” Jackson says. “I thought, ‘Yeah, man, they’re cool.’ I knew they’d do well. We’re both songwriters, and (Zac)’s got a really good band. They’re real ‘music’ artists.”

The 52-year-old Georgia native, nominated for the Lee Ann Womack duet “’Till the End” (from Jackson’s recent “Freight Train”), also performs Friday at the Cedar Park Center.

American-Statesman: What do you enjoy about performing at the CMAs?

Alan Jackson: There’s not much that you can find enjoyable (laughs). That’s a tough gig, man. You’re keeping your fingers crossed that the microphone will be on when you step out there. The sound is kind of iffy sometimes. Sometimes it’s a music industry crowd, and they’re not always that happy to see you. It can make you a little anxious and it’s a hard performing gig, but it’s always great to be on the show. It’s the biggest awards show for country music.

Would you put money on you and Lee Ann to win your category (Musical Event of the Year)?

Aw, I don’t know. I’m just happy to be there. As long as I’ve been doing this, I’ve won every award, and I think I’ve been nominated as much or more than anyone else in history at the CMAs. I love that cut we did together. Of course, I love Lee Ann singing anything. That’s one of my favorite old songs, and I did it as a tribute to Vern Gosdin. It’d be a wonderful thing to get recognized for that, but you never know about those award shows. I don’t want to make too many predictions.

Which younger artists – nominees or not – could you see having an album called ‘34 Number Ones’ someday?

I don’t know, man, that’s a tough call. There are a lot of good acts out there, but I’ve been impressed by Miranda Lambert lately. She’s been around a few years, but she’s writing some good stuff, and that’s always a good sign.

There’s a band out there with me right now called The Band Perry. They’re just a young band, and I don’t know that they’ll have 34 Number One hits, but I heard that one song (“If I Die Young”) on the radio and thought, “Man, that’s a cool song, and it’s well written.” I found out that young girl (Kimberly Perry) wrote that by herself. I hope they can keep writing good stuff.

44th annual Country Music Association awards, featuring Zac Brown Band with Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, George Strait, Sugarland, others: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 10, on ABC, KVUE Channel 24; cmaawards.com

Alan Jackson with Chris Young and The Band Perry

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Cedar Park Center, 2100 Avenue of the Stars, Cedar Park

Cost: $40-$60

Information: 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com