Country music stars shop, dine and party up and down the Strip

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Camila Alves and Matthew McConaughey at Tao.
Photo: Al Powers

During the four-day invasion of country music stars for the Academy of Country Music Awards and George Strait tribute, the cowboys and cowgirls shopped up a storm and partied the nights away at our restaurants and nightclubs as if there was no tomorrow!

Taylor Swift, Billy Ray Cyrus, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Julianne Hough, Chuck Wicks and supermodel Marisa Miller were among the many celebrities who visited the Backstage Creations Celebrity Retreat at the MGM Grand. Nominees and presenters at this year’s award show were thanked with gifts from American Living, Simon G Jewelry, CHI Hair, Gypsy Soule and SL McFadin designer bags and had all the swag packed into Dooney and Burke luggage trunks!

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Rascal Flatts at the 2009 Academy of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

American Living by JC Penney, currently the sponsors of Rascal Flatts’ tour, was inspired by the group’s hit “American Living.” Frontman Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney will wear the brand during their upcoming tour, which starts June 5. All artists that stopped by The Retreat were more than happy to support Rascal Flatts by picking up dresses, shirts and slacks from the line.

Many of the presenters and singers, including Jennifer Love Hewitt and Miranda Lambert, were introduced to Simon G Jewelry while shopping during rehearsals. They loved it so much that they wore the jewelry on the red carpet and during the awards show. Even Kris Jenner shouted, “Simon G is my favorite place in the world!” while hinting to husband Bruce Jenner that Mother’s Day is coming up and showing him a few rings, bracelets and necklaces that would make a perfect gift!

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Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum, Kellie Pickler and Rascal Flatts frontman Gary LeVox at the Bank in the Bellagio.

Friends Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus coincidentally selected the same bag from SL McFadin. Taylor was spotted backstage carrying her new fringe purse, saying, “I love this purse!” Magician David Copperfield called dibs on a McFadin duffle bag before his performance. Ghost Whisperer star Jennifer picked matching bags from McFadin for herself and boyfriend Jamie Kennedy, saying, “He would love this bag!” Bill Ray Cyrus selected a handbag for his wife Tish. Kris made sure to pick out extra duffle bags for daughters Khloe, Kourtney and Kim Kardashian.

Kris fell in love with the purple nail polish from CHI but was bummed to hear that Taylor snagged the last one! Kris selected her second favorite choice of a dark black/blue combo. Billy Ray received CHI hair clippers from Miley as a gift. And Jennifer loved the blinged out CHI Hair Straightener, while James Otto’s wife admitted that she uses it to style his hair everyday! Heidi Newfield was such a fan of CHI, she jokingly squealed, “I’m going to CHI the sh*t out of my hair!”

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Miranda Lambert at the 2009 Academy of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Miranda is a huge fan of Gypsy Soule and was excited to take a look at the new sandals, shirts, hats, boots and tees in their product line. Billy Ray knew the boots were Miley’s style, so Tish and he bought the pair of turquoise boots. Blake Shelton had a great time with the Gypsy Soule products and left wearing their party beads!

Celebrities also walked away with additional swag from Baltazar, Bandit Brand, Freedom Brothers, Leslie Tyler Cosmetics, Rustico Leather, Big Dig LLC, William Neely Men’s Skincare, Nettiescrub, an eco-chic interior design evaluation from Sarah Barnard Designs, Wrapture Cigars, 5 GUM and Save the Redneck Tees.

Other celebrities who stopped by The Retreat included Kellie Pickler, LeAnn Rimes, Jamey Johnson, Lady Antebellum, Lee Ann Womack, Jack Ingram, Jason Aldean, Zac Brown Band, Little Big Town, Joey & Rory, Dierks Bentley and Jake Owen.

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Jake Owen at the 2009 Academy of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Taylor Swift treated her mom, band and road crew to a special dinner at Tao in The Venetian. She dazzled in a black one-shoulder dress, silver Christian Louboutin heels and a silver Swarovski clutch. For the third consecutive night, comedian David Spade was in Tao for his pre-show dinner and reunited with Taylor after their meeting at the Grammys last year. After the ACM Awards, Matthew McConaughey and girlfriend Camila Alves headed to Tao for dinner, quickly followed by Victoria’s Secret supermodel Marisa Miller. Awards presenter Jamie Foxx brought his 15-year-old daughter and a large group of family and friends, and they greeted other celebrities at tables around them.

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Marisa Miller at Tao.

Lady Antebellum singer Hillary Scott dined with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers at AGO in the Hard Rock Hotel before heading over to neighboring Body English, where they danced together in a VIP booth. Members of Bel Biv DeVoe and The Addicts also partied at the Hard Rock.

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Hillary Scott and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Following the awards show, Toby Keith turned up with his wife Tricia Covel at Pure in Caesars Palace. They sat on the outdoor terrace by the open-air fire pit overlooking the Strip, with Jack Daniels being the drink of choice while listening to the sounds of DJ Cyberkid.

Entertainer of the Year presenter Matthew and Camila saw the late show of Cirque du Soleil’s O at Bellagio. Blond bombshell Kellie spent the rest of her awards night dancing at Tabu Ultra Lounge in MGM Grand. She had changed out of her gold mermaid gown and introduced Keith Urban’s live performance.

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Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban at the 2009 Academy of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

For the second time, LeAnn Rimes returned to Society Cafe in the Encore. In the morning, she enjoyed a healthy breakfast of granola, and in the afternoon a grilled chicken salad. At night, she hopped across to the neighboring Palazzo with 12 friends. At celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck’s CUT Steakhouse, they feasted on sliders, knishes and tuna tartar and told the staff they were so impressed with the food and the service that they promised to return on their next visit.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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