Behind the Scenes: MuzikMafia
Big amp Rich – the guys behind country's rollicking MuzikMafia scene – make like Vegas at the CMT Awards in Nashville on April 11, all the way down to the shiny pants John Rich's grandmother made (right). "We look at ourselves as the country version of Parliament-Funkadelic," Rich tells PEOPLE of the duo's dancer-flanked performance of "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)."
Joey's sis Drea de Matteo and her country-rocker boyfriend Shooter Jennings – son of the late country star Waylon Jennings – hang backstage with the MuzikMafia folks. During the show, the couple presented the collaborative video of the year to Brad Paisley for "Whiskey Lullaby."
"Redneck Woman" singer Gretchen Wilson stops for some red-carpet bonding with Heart's Nancy (far left) and Ann Wilson, later joining the sisters onstage for their song "Crazy On You." Wilson took home breakthrough video and female video trophies. "I think I am blessed," she says. "I sound like a broken record, but it just doesn't get any better than this.
Big amp Rich’s Big Kenny holds on tight to his new bride Christiev Carothers, whom he married in January. And what was it like for the breakout star to share the CMTs with familiar faces this year? "For us to have our (MuzikMafia) friends out with us all the time, it doesn't get any better," he says.
"We encourage your freakish side to come out," John Rich (celebrating with entourage member Two Foot Fred a.k.a. 60 Cent) says of his MuzikMafia philosophy. "It's just everybody cutting loose and being themselves."