Wow, ok, so CMA week was busy and lots to do, then we get back to real life and never posted our blogs from that week, so here goes.
Thursday was the start of the “official” CMA Fest week. We had already been to a few things but the pre-Thursday week wasn’t as busy as usual, so 2017 already felt off to a weird start.
So on the forums and the socials everyone was buzzing about how the Stanley Cup playoffs and all that was going on in Nashville would affect the week and the biggest example of that was parking. I thought, surely this was overblown…that was until we decided to wait till close to noon to go downtown and ended up paying $60! for all day in the lot by Bridgestone that was normally maybe $20! I sure hoped was fluke because that night was a watch party for Game 5 in Pittsburgh. I just looked at that we want to be a “big city” and these are normal Chicago and NYC parking prices, so welcome to the big time Nashvegas!
So after our thirty minutes to find parking we hustled a few blocks to the new Redneck Riviera stage for Parmalee. John Rich’s Redneck Riviera on Broadway bar isn’t open yet, but they had a stage setup in the parking lot behind it off Third Street. We still had a bag and id check and then got in for a great nearly hour-long set by Parmalee, including new single “Sunday Morning.”
From Redneck Riviera we headed to the Hall of Fame Park for Adam Sanders who did a few songs he wrote for others (“Hell of a Night” and “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey”), along with some new stuff that will hopefully get released this fall, including “It Ain’t Looking Right.”
Thursday was a surprisingly cool day, hoped that would hold for the week, but felt almost weird. That said, from Park Stage, we headed inside to Fan Fair X in the Music City Center to see our favorite peppy radio host, Betsy Spina, at the Radio Disney stage. She was interviewing Jacob Davis on stage about moving from Louisiana and his first radio single “What I Wanna Be.”
The Radio Disney stage had more prominent placement this year directly to the left as you came into Fan Fair X. Last year it was a brand new station, but this year it earned it’s spot. A good size crowd, what we thought at the time would be among the largest, gathered before LoCash at 3 PM. Preston and Chris spent most of their time on stage doing a family-friendly version of their comedy act, mostly revolving around the “My Pillow.” Preston can’t live without his “My Pillow,” while Chris thinks total waste of money! They also sang a little, too.
From the air conditioned comfort of the Music City center, we headed to the Riverfront for the last set there of the day, Chase Rice. We hadn’t seen Chase in a while, but his set was largely unchanged, although he did add in the Nelly rap part to his rendition of “Cruise.”
Riverfront is by far our least favorite stage, it is always over-packed, the ingress/egress is never well managed, albeit it was better this year; and I am always amazed that people don’t burst into flames laying out there for 8 hours. That said, CMA has endowed it with the biggest names that aren’t on the stadium line-up. I think they should move it to Ascend, but oddly they haven’t asked us.
From there we stopped by The Highway’s 4-day Music Row Happy Hour (MRHH) live from Margaritaville. Our feelings on MRHH at Margaritaville are the topic for another post, but suffice to say they weren’t kind enough for CMA to post a stage and you just had to wander in and out in the hopes some one good was on stage and on the radio. We did get to see and say hi to Clare Dunn, but like many of the ones who stopped in, she just talked on air, and didn’t perform. Clare did promise she will have new music SOON, but no exact date.
After eating at Margaritaville we headed across the bridge to Nissan Stadium. Here again 2 CMA pet peeves; one, they leave this open “dinner” time, but it means like 100k people try to eat at the same time, why not have shows 5-7. Secondly, there used to be a great BMI stage outside the stadium and it was gone this year 🙁
Anyways, after getting in smoothly we went to our seats, section , row W. This year we bought after market (why is a discussion for another post) from RazorGator, but had a good experience with them, the tickets were guaranteed and everything went smoothly.
Nissan night 1 started with Phil Vassar and a USO choir signing National Anthem. Then, Kenny Rogers came out to do nearly 30 minute set. He didn’t look as spry as last time he was on the stage, and had to sit for a bit during the set, which he wasn’t happy about. He said after 60 years performing his body wouldn’t always cooperate like he’d like. But he still sounded good, and even had Hillary Scott’s mom, Linda Davis, come out and sing a few with him.
Brett Eldredge came out for what was obviously a chance to be on Country’s Night to Rock and did his new single “The Long Way Around.” I’m glad these artists get a chance to show, but one song, really?
The big surprise of night 1, that we had no idea was coming was Garth Brooks. You can read our other reviews to hear what we think about his post-un-retirement career, but the crowd went nuts. He did a total of 4 songs including his new single. The rumor was that he wasn’t supposed to be on that long, but who knows.
Cole Swindell invited Lauren Alaina out to sing with him during Middle of a Memory, which was cool since Lauren hadn’t been on CMA stage singe when they used to do the in the crowd acoustic sets (which I REALLY miss) a few years back. His set highlight for the stadium as always was “You Should be Here,” when the crowd lights up.
Dierks Bentley, who is currently out on tour with Cole came next. He said he had been in Nashville for 23 years! His new Whiskey Row bar downtown is almost finished and should be another hot spot for next year’s CMA’s. He and Cole did Flatliner together towards end of his set and had a lot of fun with it.
Miranda Lambert looked and sounded great as last to final performance of night 1. She did a few songs of Weight of my Wings as well as a variety of older songs. The best was when she changed the lyrics in “Little Red Wagon” to say “I got the hell outta Oklahoma” alluding to her Blake Shelton divorce. It is great that she stays true to who she is and can be one of the few women at the top.
A LOT of the crowd left after Miranda, apparently believing that midnight was much too late to stay for the biggest performance of the night, Luke Bryan. But for the ones that stayed Luke did his full set and we didn’t get the final fireworks till 12:40. He seemed in a great mood and did a sufficient amount of shaking it for the crowd.
Fun way to kick off CMA Fest. Always things I like and don’t like that change, improve, or get worse each year, but always glad to have Thursday be here.