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The CMA Music Festival really is country music’s BIGGEST party! As soon as I arrived in Nashville on Wednesday night, it was obvious that I was in the right place. Surrounded by cowboy boots, country music and thousands of fans, I knew my weekend would be one to remember (or try to).This four-day event is one of the most star-studded experiences for any country music fan.
Wednesday’s kick-off parade ushered in the weekend’s festivities. Glen Campbell led the parade down Broadway, before Little Big Town hosted the kick-off block party. Wednesday night’s CMT Music Awards brought all the stars to Music City, and acted as a preview of what was to come for the weekend.
On Thursday I had a chance to chat with Thompson Square about their experience joining the CMA Music Festival. Shawna Thompson told me about how only two years ago, her and husband Keifer were selling cowboy boots and beer during the event, still trying to ‘make it’ in the music business.
On Thursday night at LP Field, David Nail took the stage and ‘Let it Rain,’ on the crowd, before legend, Glen Campbell came out and sang a few classics. Miranda Lambert performed her new single, ‘Fastest Girl in Town,’ before being joined on stage by her special guests, and fellow band members, The Pistol Annies. Kellie Pickler then took the smaller center stage at LP Field, followed by Jason Aldean’s high energy and rocking country performance. Aldean showed 65,000 screaming fans how CMA Music Festival is ‘My Kinda Party,’ before Lady Antebellum performed a breathtaking rendition of their hit single, ‘Need You Now.’ The Zac Brown Band announced that their new album, entitled ‘Uncaged’ will hit stores on July 10, 2012. Lauren Alaina then performed her beautiful new single, written by Carrie Underwood, ’18 Inches.’ The show wrapped up with headliner, Brad Paisley, taking the stage to perform all of his major hits that got the whole crowd on their feet dancing…particularly when he sang, ‘Alcohol.’ Coincidence?
Friday was spent taking in the sights and sounds of Nashville, and meeting with tons of up and coming artists that you can expect to hear coming through your radios in the near future. I had a chance to chat with Hannah Bethel, Josh Thompson, Lee Brice, Dustin Lynch, Frankie Ballard, Eric Paslay, Craig Campbell, Rachel Farley, Jesse Lee and The Farm!
Friday night was another amazing show at LP Field which kicked-off with country legend, Ronnie Milsap. Songwriter turned singer, Brantley Gilbert sang the songs that made Jason Aldean famous, along with his current hits including ‘You Don’t Know Her Like I Do.’ The ladies in the crowd went wild when Jake Owen hit the stage, and he had 65,000 fans swinging their hands in the air to ‘Barefoot Blue Jean Night.’ The Band Perry then took the stage before Blake Shelton proved that it was ‘All About Tonight’ at LP Field. The winner of the hit show, The Voice, Gwen Sebastian took the stage to sing backup vocals on Shelton’s ‘Drink On It.’ Then Carrie Underwood, in tiny cutoff jeans,(showing off her famous legs) rocked the stadium as she sang her newest single, ‘Good Girl.’
Saturday morning was the 2012 City of Hope Celebrity Softball Challenge, held at Greer Stadium. Celebrities included Carrie Underwood, Vince Gill, and Brantley Gilbert facing off against Scotty McCreery, David Nail and Chuck Wicks. Although softball is not the forte of any of these musicians, they all had a blast helping to raise money for cancer research. Later that day I had a chance to catch up with country newcomers, Joel Crouse and Canaan Smith.
On Saturday night, Kenny Rogers took the stage, followed by country newcomer, Hunter Hayes. As the youngest performer of the night, he stole the hearts of all the young ladies in the crowd, and performed his new single, ‘Wanted’ on a piano in the center of the stadium. Rodney Atkins then surprised fans with an unscheduled performance, before Little Big Town came out and brought the crowd to their feet with ‘Pontoon.’ Luke Bryan then interviewed Faith Hill about how she reacted to hearing that husband Tim McGraw had been voted the Hottest Man in Country Music. Faith laughed and replied that she would have picked the King of Country, Mr. George Strait for that honour. Eric Church then captivated the crowd with his hits, and had everyone put their cellphones in the air for ‘Springsteen.’ Faith Hill, looking fabulous as ever, took the stage to perform her new single, ‘Overrated.’ Then Kip Moore came out to sing us ‘Somethin Bout a Truck.’ The main event on Saturday night was Luke Bryan (not to mention, his tight jeans). His performance was one for the record books – his enthusiasm and stage presence was second to none. He had everyone singing along to his current hit ‘Drunk On You,’ and brought a lucky fan on stage to show us how to ‘shake it’ for ‘Country Girl (Shake it for Me).’
Sunday I had a chance to chat with country newcomer, Olivia Mitchell, before speaking with Taylor Swift’s mom, Andrea, in downtown Nashville. Sunday rolled around and The Mavericks kicked things off at LP Field, before legend, Bill Anderson took the stage. Then American Idol winner, Scotty McCreery had the girls going crazy as he sang his current single, ‘Water Tower Town.’ Dierks Bentley then took the stage and asked ‘Am I The Only One’ who wants to have fun at LP Field – to which the crowd answered with a loud cheer. Karen Fairchild of LBT then joined Dierks on stage for their single, ‘When You Gonna Come Around.’ Rascal Flatts then took the stage before Alan Jackson performed songs off of his new album, ‘30 Miles West.’ Steel Magnolia performed, before headliner Martina McBride wowed everyone with her absolutely gorgeous voice. She ended the night, and CMA Music Festival, with a standing ovation from fans as she sang her biggest hit, ‘Independence Day.’
Overall the CMA Music Festival was an unbelievable country music experience. With all of the musicians performing for free, all of the proceeds from the four-day festival go to the ‘Keep the Music Playing’ program, that supports local area schools by providing musical education and instruments. Nashville really comes alive to embrace this event, and I can’t wait to attend ‘the party’ again next year!
Hi everyone! This past June, I had the opportunity of a LIFETIME. I was in Nashville, Tennessee for the CMA Music Festival!
This four day event was one of the most star-studded experiences of my life. The Thursday night concert at LP Field started things up. I was able to see the Zac Brown Band perform live with guest appearances by Randy Travis and Alan Jackson. Then Easton Corbin took the stage, followed by Sara Evans and new-comer Casey James. Jason Aldean rocked LP Field as 70,000 screaming fans went wild as he added some real kick-a$$ country twang to the night. Kelly Clarkson joined Jason for their song ‘Don’t You Wanna Stay,’ and Ricky Skaggs played some of the old country tunes that helped build the foundation of country music. Brad Paisley headlined Thursday night’s show, and had the whole crowd dancing to his new summer hit “Workin’ On A Tan” (definitely a fun song if you haven’t yet heard it)! Then, the boys from ALABAMA joined Brad on stage for their hit single “Old Alabama” to end the night with a great mix of new and old country!
Friday I did a tour of Nashville, where I ventured up Printer’s Alley to see all the little honky tonks. I made sure to check out Music Row – which surprisingly just looked like a typical southern subdivision. Before heading down to the LP Field concert, I stopped by the classic country hole in the wall, Tootsies, and had a few ‘beverages’ at The Stage (the bar featured in the movie Country Strong).
Friday night’s lineup continued to impress as Ashton Shepherd took the stage followed by one of my FAVORITES- Dierks Bentley. After we all got “a little bit sideways,” Lady Antebellum awed the crowd with their performance of ‘Need You Now’ — I literally had chills! Then our good ol’ Canadian girl, Shania Twain showed up to introduce Sugarland, who brought a ton of energy and stage presence to the show. Clay Walker then took the stage before Keith Urban and Jake Owen. The two did a duet of Jake’s song “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You,” and shared their excitement about going on tour together. Reba, country’s favourite redhead (alongside Wynonna) ended things off with a few classics and her new single “When Love Gets A Hold of You.”
Saturday was a day of non-stop music for me. First I hit up Nashville tourist hotspot,The Wildhorse Saloon, for a small concert with The Harters, The Civil Wars, Matt Mason, Kristen Chenoweth, Thompson Square and Joe Nichols. Thompson Square blew me away with their stories of living in Nashville for 15 years before their “over-night” success with “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not.” Joe Nichols got the crowd going wild with his infamous “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off”…which I think a few girls in the crowd took a little too literally, if you know what I mean…Joe also did a rendition of Blake Shelton’s “Who Are You When I’m Not Lookin'” — which Joe actually released on his own album a few years back, but it was never a single.
Then I made my way down to LP Field for Saturday night’s concert. Chris Young started things off by giving the crowd neon bracelets to support his new album, then he won girls’ hearts with an announcement of his ‘bachelor’ status…followed by heart-melting performances of his hits (like my favourite “Tomorrow”). Little Big Town then blew audiences away with their Lady GaGa countrified version of “Born this Way.” Josh Turner ie…major heart throb with the deepest voice ever…melted girls’ hearts again with “Just to Be Your Man” featuring American Idol winner Scotty McCreery!! After that, Thompson Square took the stage again and had 70,000 fans asking “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not”? Clint Black slowed things down a little, until Big and Rich made a surprise appearance with Gretchen Wilson…then Trace Adkins rocked the stage and proved why “Ladies Love Country Boys.” Martina McBride then took the stage and received a 6 MINUTE standing ovation for her performance of “Broken Wing,” before she was joined by American Idol runner up, Lauren Alaina, as they sang “Anyway.” Rascal Flatts ended things with their fan favourites, and mixed things up a bit by doing a few 70s covers with Little Big Town.
All in all – AMAZING EXPERIENCE. I will be there again next year — and expect some of you head down to Nashville with me!
– Patrice, The Country Music Junkie, Today’s Country BX93