This year at the 2015 CMA Festival I had the opportunity to go inside LP Field and attend the nightly concerts featuring the biggest stars of Country Music. I have attended CMA Fest once before, but didn’t have a ticket to the big event.
As a first-timer, I wanted to share ten of the highlights that stood out to me and have me excited to attend again in the future.
10. It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere
It didn’t take long for the first highlight to take place as country legend Alan Jackson opened up the show playing an incredible set capped off with “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” with an impromptu rendition of “Pop A Top” paying honor to the late Jim Ed Brown who’s passing was announced just moments before Jackson took the stage.
9. Getting Drunk on a Plane
Another highlight was getting drunk on a plane. Now, I’m not talking about my flight from the west coast to Nashville. No. I’m talking about the absolute party that Dierks Bentley threw the crowd into with his high-energy set! The highlight for me was his hit single, “Drunk On a Plane” other great performances included “I Hold On” and “Say You Do”.
8. Carrie Underwood
I have yet to see as much talent with my two eyes as Carrie Underwood. Her vocal ability is second to none. Although it was her first performance in front of a huge crowd in a few months, she brought it! She sang hits from her latest record Blown Away, as well as her latest single, “Little Toy Guns.”
7. Going Uptown with The Band Perry
I was immensely impressed with the effort of The Band Perry. Playing their hits from both their debut album and latest effort Pioneer. The siblings got the crowd hyped with a deep-fried version of the hit, pop song “Uptown Funk”. Another highlight took place a little later when they slowed down with a simplified version of their massive hit, “If I Die Young,” as the whole crowd joined in.
6. Lee Brice’s Surprise
At the end of Lee Brice’s set, a special moment took place. Brice took out a pen, signed his guitar and handed it to a fan in the front of the stadium who was filled with incredible joy. As a spectator of this endearing moment, I was left impressed by the genuine act of paying it forward to the fans. Another cool moment happened when Brice sang his hit, “I Drive Your Truck” and the stadium lit up with cellphone lights and the crowd joined Brice in singing the ballad.
5. Keith Urban
After seeing Keith Urban surprise fans on the Close Up Stage, I was excited to see Urban perform with his full band on the final night of the CMA Festival. Urban had an awesome performance featuring his newest single, “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16”. He was also joined by Eric Church for “Raise Em Up” which was very memorable.
4. Brad Paisley
I have enjoyed listening to Brad Paisley for years, but have never had the opportunity to see him live. Finally! He was the final performance of CMA Fest 2015 but unfortunately it didn’t start out well. Technical difficulties caused Brad to make the best of the situation joking with the crowd, “Nashville, welcome to my worst nightmare.” Brad pressed through and quickly began playing and singing the way only he can. It was an impressive set and showed true professionalism on Brad’s part.
3. Zac Brown Band
One of the groups I would not allow myself to miss was Zac Brown Band. As a fan of all kinds of music, I love reading about their studio, their connection to the Foo Fighters/Dave Grohl, and am a huge fan of their latest record Jekyll + Hyde. Plus, it’s near impossible for me to stop singing their current single, “Loving You Easy”. But one of the moments of their set that absolutely stole the show was Brown’s incredible take on Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
2. Darius Rucker
Full disclosure, I love Hootie & The Blowfish. I have enjoyed watching the natural evolution of Darius Rucker go from his version of blues-rock pop tunes and move into the country world. This was my first chance of seeing Rucker live and he didn’t disappoint! Darius had one of the most entertaining sets of the whole festival and shared his gratitude towards the country family welcoming him with open arms. The highlight from his set was seeing the crowd’s interaction throughout his entire performance, especially when he played “Wagon Wheel” and Hootie’s 1994 smash hit “Only Wanna Be With You”.
1. Eric Church
So, call me biased, but I love the Chief! Eric Church performed a variety of hits like “Talladega” and “Wrecking Ball” from his latest effort, The Outsiders. He also played some older cuts “Creepin’” and “Over When It’s Over” which has a very special moment when Joanna Cotten came alongside Church to sing the harmonies. Later Church joined Keith Urban on “Raise Em Up” which was very cool!
In all, the nightly concerts at CMA Fest 2015 were awesome. The weather was perfect. The people were ready for a party. And the music was fantastic. All I can say now is I can’t wait until next time!