Fans lined the streets of downtown Nashville and braved the stifling heat to enjoy the 2018 version of CMA Music Festival. There is music all day long on the downtown stages, inside the honky tonks and in the cool comfort of the indoors HGTV Lodge and the Xfinity Fan Fair X.
Day one kicked off with performances at the Maui Jim stage at the Hard Rock Cafe. Stephanie Quayle wowed the crowd with her set, followed by the electric sounds of rising star Payton Smith. Plenty of fans were digging the sounds from the stage, while others could be seen lining up to get a glimpse of the several celebrity-themed restaurants that now dot the Nashville landscape. A popular spot was Blake Shelton’s Ole Red, which recently opened.
On to the Chevy Breakout Stage located at Walk of Fame Park, just in time to catch new sensation Ashley McBryde. Judging from the huge turnout and the vocal crowd reaction, McBryde already has a slew of followers who love her traditional country style, edgy tattooed look and gritty songs. She’s been described as the “Janis Joplin of Country Music,” which seems an apt comparison. All this, with only one album, her debut “Girl Going Nowhere,” under her belt. Fans especially let their enthusiasm show on “Tired of Being Happy” from the album. McBryde boasts a kicking backup band that perfectly augment her hard country vocals.
Also impressive is the logo that graces the HGTV Lodge, courtesy of an artist whose talents lie beyond music. Eric Paslay, an avid and skilled craftsman, constructed the logo with shiplap, wood, tile and turf, while the wooden tresses pay homage to the Grand Ole Opry’s signature barn. The Lodge hosted such acts as Luke Combs, Michael Ray and Cam throughout the festival.