Tuesday, June 10, 2014

What We Liked (Or Didn't) at the 2014 CMA Music Festival

By Chuck Whiting
MCAU Editor

Wil Comstock
MCAU Writer

            This year's CMA Music Festival rocked, sweated, partied and soaked more than 60,000 music lovers young and old (well... mostly young). We tromped just about every nook and cranny of downtown Nashville to soak in the excitement and atmosphere, with achy legs and feet to prove it. Like last year, the CMF treated fans to performances and "selfies" by some of the most successful country acts in the business... but there were a few amazing (and sometimes even hilarious) moments. For the most part, a good time was had by all.

Luke Bryan wows the crowd in LP Field

            Following is a list of some of the things we liked (or didn't).

            * The smiling blonde bombshell mermaid at the Chicken of the Sea booth.
Smiling Mermaid

            *  Rascal Flatts joining band members on an a cappella performance of the song "Happy". (Amazing!)

            * WSM's traditional country spotlight that included a moving performance by Jeannie Seely.

            * Dustin Lynch's "no-show" at the Big Machine presentation at the CMA Close Up Stage (because of bad weather). (They replaced his segment with a wheel-turning trivia quiz game.)

            * Parmalee singing "Carolina" at the Chevrolet Riverfront stage. (Good job guys!)

            * The free samples of Sauvignon Blanc at the Cupcake Winery truck. (We got back in line as often as possible.)

            * The American flag-faced man standing in line at one of the celebrity signing stations. (His face was painted red, white and blue with the stars and stripes).

Jeannie Seely
            * Slipping into the Schermerhorn Symphony Center's shaded courtyard to escape the crowds. (For some reason, hundreds of other festival-goers passed by without noticing the gate was open.)

            * Watching a father hand his daughter two twenty-dollar bills so she could buy a Dan + Shay t-shirt. (It was great to see family members enjoying the festival together.)

            * Free Blue Bell ice cream... and more free Blue Bell ice cream... and even more free Blue Bell ice cream... (We weren't counting calories.)

Dan + Shay perform at the Riverfront stage

            * Sitting in the rocking chairs overlooking downtown in the Music City Center lobby. (A nice reminder of the late George Jones.)

            * Free Mountain Dew and Crystal Light drink mix (lifesavers on the hot, muggy days).

            * Attending a fascinating Q&A with Big and Rich at the Close Up Stage. (We learned about Big Kenny's mission to help the hungry and John's philanthropic efforts to help St. Jude Children's Hospital... and the Redneck Riviera project).
Big and Rich with David Ross

            * Rolling the wheel for edible prizes (free jelly beans) at the Jelly Belly Candies booth.

            * Looking at the perplexed reactions of guys waiting in line in the men's room after a man dropped his pants to his ankles (buttocks exposed) at a urinal. (The line came to a screeching halt, causing a pedestrian traffic jam.)

            * Hunter Hayes' energy and talent as a songwriter, producer, "damn good" guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist.

            * The torrential downpours (which didn't seem to dampen the spirits of die-hard country music fans).

Autograph seekers
            * A group of "hellraisers" who tried to spoil a good time for others in LP Field, but didn't. (Two young men near us continued to light up cigarettes again and again after repeated warnings from the ushers.)

            * The proliferation of chained and tattooed hard rockers who claim to be "country" stars.

Alligator riding
            * Missing Dolly... and Reba... and Loretta...

            * Enjoying curbside pizza and hotdogs on the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge.

            * Seeing Alabama on the main stage, flooding our memories and entertaining us once again.

Alabama performs at LP Field
            * The surprise appearance of Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi (a real rock star) with Zac Brown on "Dead or Alive". (Okay... We profess to being rock fans, too.)

            * The Band Perry's terrific performance with a beautiful, broad-smiling Kimberly Perry encouraging fans to sing along on "If I Die Young".

            * The long (boring) set-up breaks between evening show segments at LP Field. (Why not air videos of the legendary stars who helped make country music what it is today? Also consider including live performances of up-and-coming artists on simple mic and guitar.)

            * Watching a beautiful woman get dunked at the Cracker Jack'D Splash Party (while eating spicy Cracker Jack'D mix).

A lady gets splashed at Cracker Jack'D
            * Missing three-fourths of Travis Tritt's set because we arrived late. (He's a true country artist in every sense of the genre.)

            * The $9 and $11 beers (outrageous!), and the comical antics of the roaming sellers. (One beer seller yelled out "Beer with Jesus... "Beer with Jesus" again and again while Thomas Rhett was performing. Another asked attendees for their cell phone numbers so he could text them a "Buy my beer" message. Yet another danced cheek to cheek with several intoxicated women.)

            * Sweating outside, then freezing inside Music City Center.

            * Catching dinner before the show at the Southern Steak and Oyster restaurant... fried oysters on a bed of herbs and smashed root veggies (yummy!). And we mustn't forget the delicious cheddar mac and cheese and garlic-accented Southern green beans.

Music City Suds owner with her musical soap
            * Sunburn and achy feet (and the occasional shivery sneeze).

            * Cut-off shorts, torn blue jeans, tight t-shirts, and sunflower dresses. (Polyester remains a thing of the past, but boots, cowboy hats and scarves are still cool.)

            * New York-style pizza (real New York-style pizza) at the newly opened City Pizza on Third Avenue. (The chef is from Manhattan.)

            * The wig booth (where women were trying on a variety of wigs and add-ons).

            * The singers and songwriters who flew to Nashville to get into the spotlight (including California artist Eileen Carey, who performed in a jam-packed Honky Tonk Central on Broadway).

Eileen Carey performs at Honky Tonk Central
            * Watching a wanna-be rodeo rider being thrown off the back of a bucking alligator.

            * Looking over the shiny red and blue cars in the Chevrolet exhibition area.

            * Catching performances by very talented emerging artists (Brooke Eden, Sonia Leigh and others) at the AT&T U-verse Stage.

            * Cooling off inside the Red Roof showroom truck on Broadway.

            * The crowd-pleasing performance of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band. (Charlie still sports the largest belt buckle on the planet.)

            * Missing out on free Papa John's pizza (because the lines were too long).
Riverfront crowd

            * The stirring rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" by the W.O. Smith Community Music School choir.

            * The park benches, shrubs and creative CMA street signs (providing a nice atmosphere) at Fan Fair X.

            * The friendly ushers everywhere at LP Field.

            * Hot, sweaty fans of all sizes smashing into each other as they wiggled out a log-jammed exit at Riverfront Park.

            * Brad Paisley really enjoying himself... giving all to his fans. (It was the perfect way to end the festival.)

            * The festive fireworks on the final night as fans streamed over the Shelby Pedestrian Street Bridge.

Brad Paisley performs at LP Field

Man with the American flag face
A band performs on Broadway
Before the show
BMI Tailgate Party
Brooke Eden performs at Music City Center
Chevrolet exhibit
Music City Center
Red Roof "escaping the heat" truck
Riverfront crowd watching a performance
The new trends in country shoes
Shoppers browse exhibit booths
Wigs galore
LP Field stage shot

All Photos by MCAU Editor Chuck Whiting (Copyright 2014 used by permission only)

No comments:

Post a Comment