2018 ACM Honors: Darius is a great dude, Thomas Rhett’s dad reigns as Songwriter, and Dierks has the spirit of Merle

ABC RadioWednesday night at Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium, the Academy of Country Music passed out its 2018 Honors.

Old Crow Medicine Show delivered their original version of Darius Rucker's hit, "Wagon Wheel," before the Hootie & the Blowfish singer accepted the Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award for his charitable work.

"You don't do this stuff for recognition, you know," Darius commented. "I do it because I like to help people and things that I care about. And to know that people recognize that and they want to honor you for that, especially the ACM Lifting Lives, which means so much to me, you know, that's amazing."

ACM Lifting Lives is the charitable arm of the Academy of Country Music.

Dustin Lynch took Rhett Akins' place in the group of songwriters known as The Peach Pickers, as Thomas Rhett's dad was named Songwriter of the Year.

Dallas Davidson and Ben Hayslip did two of Rhett's hits -- Luke Bryan's "Huntin', Fishin' and Lovin' Everyday" and Blake Shelton's "I Lived It -- while Dustin offered his 2017 Rhett Akins' smash, "Small Town Boy."

"This is overdue, to be honest with you," Dustin declared. "Rhett is a guy that not only has believed in me as a songwriter and a singer, he's taught me how to write songs and he's taught me how to sing."

"I've had so much success singing a song like Rhett has sang..." he went on. "Because whenever we write a song or...he writes a song and he sends me the demo, I love [for] Rhett to sing [it]. Because he teaches me how to deliver it the right way."

Jon Pardi surprised his former tour mate Dierks Bentley with a rendition of his hit, "I Hold On," before Dierks accepted this year's Merle Haggard Spirit Award.

"There's a few people out there that you really look up to for kinda the blueprint on how to do country music, and how not to do it sometimes." Dierks reflected. "You know, lessons they've learned that they can pass on to you through their music, through things you've read about, through times you've met 'em."

"I've had a chance to spend time with Merle Haggard on his bus one time in Oklahoma," he remembered. "It was pretty special, you know. You kinda worry about meeting your heroes, but he was everything I hoped he'd be."

Sam Hunt arrived minus his beard, sporting a buzz cut, to accept the Gene Weed Milestone Award for "Body Like a Back Road."

Chris Stapleton  performed Alan Jackson's "Here in the Real World," before the Georgia native accepted the Cliffie Stone Icon Award, the night's final honor.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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