Entertainment, On A High Note

CMA Fest insider wraps up another successful year

After four days of early mornings and late nights and many great musical performances at the 2015 CMA Music Fest I am officially tired. But my motto for the event has been “If you aren’t tired you aren’t doing it right,” so it must mean it was another successful year.

S&E Nashville insider Kyle Schwartz with his wife Angella (right) and friend/co-worker Heather Brown at CMA Fest. PHOTO SUBMITTED BY KYLE SCHWARTZ

S&E Nashville insider Kyle Schwartz with his wife Angella (right) and friend/co-worker Heather Brown at CMA Fest. PHOTO SUBMITTED BY KYLE SCHWARTZ

When I first went to CMA Fest in 2007 my wife and I did not even know there was anything else going on besides the nightly concerts at LP Field. In nine years we have learned that the big shows at LP Field are really only a small part of the entire experience.

This past week we saw roughly 50 performances, went to two fan club parties, had 10 or so meet-and-greets and experienced a little bit of everything Nashville and CMA Fest had to offer. Sometimes it is fun to be a “tourist” in your own town (we even ate at a few downtown restaurants we had never heard of before).

It was hot, we waited in a bunch of long lines but we had a lot of fun and met some fellow festival goers. One tip I can give for the future is while you are standing and waiting for an event to begin, talk to the people around you. They might end up being from Australia or just right down the street from where you live, but you meet a lot of interesting people that way and might even learn a few new CMA Fest tips.

This year there were several artists that we were already familiar with but who we got to see live for the first time. After some fantastic performances we have already downloaded more of their music and have plans to check them out when they are in town again.

Kyle and wife Angella with "Buy Me a Boat" singer Chris Jansen. PHOTO SUBMITTED BY KYLE SCHWARTZ

Kyle and wife Angella with “Buy Me a Boat” singer Chris Janson. PHOTO SUBMITTED BY KYLE SCHWARTZ

One artist to check out is Chris Janson. Chris recently found radio success (and got a record deal) with “Buy Me a Boat” and his 25-minute show at the Bud Light Plaza Stage in front of Bridgestone Arena was energy packed. We got to meet him at the Ryman Auditorium later in the day and his wife told us he is known to consume several Mountain Dews each day! No matter where that energy comes from he is incredibly entertaining and worth a download.

Kentucky natives Sundy Best have a very loyal following, despite the fact they do not get much radio airplay. Their show at the BMI Tailgate Stage outside LP Field was great and the first time I had seen the band live (despite the fact I already owned all their music).

Although there is not enough space to go into details on everyone we also enjoyed Canaan Smith, Kelsea Ballerini and CAM, all of who might be the next Luke Bryan or Miranda Lambert.

If you are interested in meeting a few of the artists I highly suggest trying to do so before they become mega superstars. When they only have one or two songs on the radio it is much easier to wait in a line, get to snap a photo with them and get an autograph instead of waiting until they are huge stars because at that point everyone else wants to meet them and that line grows much longer.

Kyle with Dustin Lynch at Fan Fair X. PHOTO SUBMITTED BY KYLE SCHWARTZ

Kyle with Dustin Lynch at Fan Fair X. PHOTO SUBMITTED BY KYLE SCHWARTZ

On the final day of the event there were two people we wanted to meet at Fan Fair X at the Music City Center. We put an entire afternoon (five hours) of sitting in two separate lines to make that happen. We arrived at least an hour early to each scheduled signing and waited patiently and accomplished our goal. Later we saw some fans arrive 10 minutes ahead of the scheduling signing time only to find out the line was already too long to accommodate everyone.

But whether you are in to meeting your favorite artists or simply listening to a lot of great music, there is truly something for everyone.

Also I would be remiss if I did not thank the CMA and all its volunteers for putting on another outstanding event. CMA Fest continues to get bigger and better every year and I know the planning and execution cannot be easy. Thanks for helping give the fans this one-of-a-kind up-close experience as it is something that no other genre of music can duplicate.

If you did not get to attend this year ABC will air a special on Tuesday, August 4 that will have many of the live performances from LP Field along with a look behind-the-scenes.

Finally, if you want to be there in person next year, mark your calendar for 10 a.m. central time this Friday (June 19) when the tickets for 2016 go on sale to the public. Although many of the tickets have already been sold in pre-sales, there are still tickets remaining but the longer you wait the more likely you will miss out as the event is guaranteed to sell out once again.


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