The 2020 CMT Music Awards were full of performances, and the show kicked off with a collaboration between Luke Combs and Brooks & Dunn, who set up at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park in Nashville to perform Combs' "1, 2 Many." The rowdy drinking song was a perfect choice to open the show, and the trio's performance included an interlude in which Combs shotgunned a beer on stage.
"I shotgunned a beer last night on national TV with [Brooks and Dunn]," he tweeted on Thursday. "If you would have told me that 5 years ago I would have punched you for lying to me." Before the show, Combs told Country Now that "it's a total dream come true every time with these guys at all." "It's really awesome," he continued. "I'm thankful that they are here to do it with me and I'm gonna have fun, for sure."
Combs, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn have now performed together on multiple occasions, including for an episode of CMT Crossroads. Their performance of Brooks & Dunn's "Brand New Man" from the special was nominated for a CMT Music Award this year.
"Luke, with all of his humility, is on fire right now, in case you haven’t noticed," Brooks said before Wednesday's show. "We did get a little prelim crossroads performance so we know it's gonna be fun, just looking forward to it. His music is not unlike ours, so we’re not gonna try too hard, we’re just going to go out there and sling it I think."
Dunn added that he was aware of Combs before he even signed a record deal, thanks to his daughter. "You know what’s funny, my daughter was playing Luke Combs stuff from YouTube before he got a record deal and coming back to my house," he recalled. "She'd be like, 'Listen to this guy' and we were listening and now we're like, 'He’s opening the show, no we’re opening the show!'"
The CMT Music Awards were virtual this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and when asked to describe 2020 in one word, Combs responded with "Brutal." "I'd love to be out on the road playing, for sure," he said. "I got married, so it was also the coolest thing ever, so it's hard. It's like a double-edged sword for me. Some of the best stuff that's ever happened to me has happened this year, and then not being able to play kind of at what feels like the start of the kind of peak of my career has been upsetting, I guess."