Five tips for CMA Fest goers

-Logo-Badge-4CSo, after a brief hiatus, time to recover from the full-on CMAFest, I’m hopefully back on track and will pick-up the pace with postings. starting with some, hopefully, useful tips for those already planning a trip next year.

As first timers at the festival we did find it a bit overwhelming. We had expected it to be a crazy four days, but that doesn’t even begin to describe the actual experience.

Temperatures in the high 90s impacted on our day-to-day activity. We figured that the idea of staying out all day and then heading to the stadium for the evening concerts probably wasn’t going to work. So we paced ourselves a bit more.

imageSo here are a few tips for anyone heading to Nashville next year.

  1. Arrive in town a few days early. Nashville isn’t a big city, but it’s worth getting a feel for the place, pick out the bars you like (there’s plenty to choose from).
  2. Book a hotel within walking distance of the centre. The day time action takes over the Broadway, city centre area and we found that being able to walk back to our hotel, we stayed at the Indigo, in late afternoon to freshen up before heading out in the evening was a great bonus.
  3. Make time for the other attractions, the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman, Country Music Hall of Fame.
  4. Plan the acts you want to see around town on the various stages in advance, rather than making it up on the hoof.
  5. The indoor Fan Fare X is well worth a look.

The heat is on!

Boy CMAFest is hot! And I don’t just mean the weather, though it is well into the 90s in Nashville.

last night the first of four evening concerts At the Nissan stadium, home of Tennessee Titans football team, was opened by country music veterans the Charlie Daniels Band. Kelsea Ballerini rocked a multi-coloured jump suit and the crowd, Dierks Bentley Got Drnk on a Plane and Simewhere on a Beach. He also introduced his new “friend” Elle King, who joined him on Different for Girls.

In fact surprise appearance was the order of the night. Charlie Daniels brought Randy Travis on stage. His appearance drew warm applause though Travis is still clearly a shadow of his former self.

Lady Antebellum made an unscheduled appearance with pop songstress Cam. They initially did two songs, there then seemed some confusion as the fans waited for headliner Jason Aldean, Lady A and Cam repeated the first song.

A bit late Aldean hit the stage and   delivered his usual barnstorming rock performance.

it may just have been the time, it was after 11.30pm when Aldean started but it was notable that the crowd thinned out. A couple of rows around us on the floor of the venue were virtually empty.

So do some people buy tickets to just see favoured acts and either spend the time when other acts are on stage in the bars or simply head home once there faces have been on stage?

Having come from the UK and waited a year for this we plan to get value for money and see everyone who hits the stage.




Things actually are what they used to be

I recently commented on a post on a Facebook group for country music fans from someone saying “country music isn’t what it used to be.”

so it was good to see how this genre has changed and adapted over the decades when we visited the country music museum and hall of fame in Nashville.

From its roots in people playing basic instruments, sometimes home made, through the influence of cowboy tunes, Western swing and the impact of mass media. Through its history country has regularly found a new voice without losing sight of the debt it owes to previous generations.

And last night at the Grand Ole Oprey we saw a live example of how acts from other genres work with country acts when Little Big Town introduced Pharrell Williams as there surprise guest. Williams joined LBT to perform their new single, which he has co-written. You can view the action here.

I know we are just two days in to the trip but the visit to the GOO is a highlight. For a country fan in the UK the GOO is one of those legendary venues and it didn’t disappoint.

Larger than I thought, the concert is a radio broadcast, so it keeps moving along, with acts performing four songs each, interspersed with promos read out by the on stage announcer.

The line we saw included Darius Rucker, LBT and Miranda Lambert.

A great night out and a great experience.

Nashville – day one

In LA everyone is an actor, a writer, a producer, a director (or at least a would-be one) while they wait tables or serve beers. In Nashville it appears everyone is a singer and/or songwriter. The difference here is that these folk are actually out-and-about playing bars and other venues as well as working a “normal job”

The lady who sold my wife dome boots was busking with her husband, who worked in the same shop.

Meanwhile performers who are at the start of the greasy poll to fame kicked off the CMAFest on their international stage.

Among the acts were Frankie Davies and the Pauper Kings from the UK, both of whom played great sets, both of whom are recording new albums in Nashville.

The line-up of acts was drawn from rising country stars from Canada, New Zealand and Australia. It’s a great idea and by doing it on the Monday it doesn’t clash with other CMA events.

The stage was set up in the car park area of the Hard Rock Cafe and it attracted a decent crowd.

Well worth checking out the performers and looking out for there recordings.

Off to Nashville, as Nashville comes over here

After a year of waiting we are off to Nashville this weekend, so we have time to ‘warm-up’ ahead of the CMAFest 2016. But just as we are digging out the passports Nashville announces that it’s coming over here in August.

On Saturday August 13 and Sunday 14 Canary Wharf is hosting an outdoors country concert, at Canada Sq Park.

The line up includes Ty Herndon, Logan Brill and American Young from the USA and Hannah Rose Platt, William The Conqueror and Pauper Kings, who are playing CMAFest.

The event is co-produced by Canary Wharf Arts +and Events, Peter Conway Management, and Nashville-based agency The AristoMedia Group. Baylen Leonard, BBC Radio 2 Country DJ, is the artistic program consultant.

The full line up will be confirmed over the next few weeks. To keep up to date you can follow the Twitter feed @yourcanarywharf

One year ago today….

A note came up on Facebook today reminding me that it was one year ago today when we purchased out tickets for CMA Fest 2016. And now it’s nearly here. Just 10 days to go to the start of the festival action on the main stage.

Of course there’s action before than. On the Monday CMA World Global gives the Festival a truly international feel, with acts from around the world playing. -Logo-Badge-4C

To help fans plan how they will navigate the whole event, with all the acts and stages CMA created an app which is really well designed. They have avoided overloading it with to much material and stuck to the info fans really want. This include a ‘my schedule’ which helps you pick out the acts you want to see, what time they are appearing and which stage they are on.

So who is on my list? Well, we will in the stadium for the ‘main event’ but alongside of that I have Jersey songstress Frankie Davies pencilled in for Monday evening; Jake Owen starts our four day festival viewing at 10am (I don’t think I’ve ever been to a concert at 10am!) at the Chevrolet Riverfront stage. I’ve also got Kristian Bush, Maddie & Tae and Margo Price on the schedule.

Any suggestions of other acts who are ‘must sees’ gratefully received.


Young set to kick-off CMA Festival

Another announcement about CMA Fest as the event gets closer with the announcement that Chris Young will kick-off this year’s festival at the event’s official opening ceremony at Nashville’s Ascend Amphitheater on June 8 at 11am.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry will also be taking part in the open event, alongside the Fisk Jubilee Singers and students from local schools,Young, who is also a member of the CMA Board of Directors said: “As a Middle Tennessee native and someone who grew up going to Fan Fair, it’s pretty cool to get to kick off CMA Music Festival and shine a spotlight on the CMA Foundation and the music education students the festival benefits.”

The opening ceremonies are free and open to the public. The stage is located at the foot of Korean Veterans Boulevard and First Avenue (south of Riverfront Park), and gates will open at 10AM for the event.

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Ups and downs in UK country chart

Two new entries in this week’s UK country chart. Major US star Blake Shelton’s new album If i’m Honest, debuts at number 2, while Irish country singer Mary Duff’s latest offering, Changing Lanes appears at number 10. Moving to the top of the chart is another debut album, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter by Margo Price. The album has received rave reviews and Price has recently been playing a number of gigs in the UK and appeared on BBC2’s Later with Jools Holland. Next month she is back in the US and will be playing a number of dates during CMAFest2016 including the Park Stage on June 12 and two dates at 3rd & Lindsley on the 14 and 15. So hopefully I will manage to see her then.

Debut album hits number one in UK charts
Debut album hits number one in UK chart

1 Midwest farmer’s daughter – Margo Price (3)

2. If i’m honest – Blake Shelton (new)

3. Detour – Cyndi Lauper (5)

4. The things that we are made of – Mary Chapin Carpenter (1)

5. Ripcord – Keith Urban (2)

6. A sailor’s guide to earth – Sturgill Simpson (8)

7. Traveller – Chris Stapleton (6)

8. Stayin up all night – Nathan Carter (9)

9. Playing with fire – Jennifer Nettles (4)

10. Changing Lanes – Mary Duff (new)

Courtesy of the Official Charts Company

UK artists head for CMA Fest

Just 16 days to go to the kick-off of CMA Fest 2016 and the line-up of artists on the main stage and the various others around the festival have been announced (Unless the organisers have some last minute surprises up the sleeve of their rhinestone shirt?).

Of course the focus will be on the big name acts but I’m really looking forward to seeing some of the performers at the other venues, particularly those I haven’t come across before?

Among those I’ve spotted on the list are two UK acts, though there may be more.

Singer songwriter Frankie Davies is from Jersey and played C2C this year. At CMA Fest she will be part of CMA World Global Live. Also playing the Global Live session are York’s Pauper Kings, a country rock band.

Hope to catch both acts and if anyone knows of other UK artists playing let me know.


Country charts here and there

Mary Chapin Carpenter’s latest offering is the UK’s best selling country album this week after just two weeks on the chart. Last week’s number one, Cyndi Lauper’s Detour meanwhile has slipped to five while Jennifer Nettles new offering, Playing with fire debuts at number four.

In the Billboard chart in the US the number one is Ripcord, by Keith Urban, number two here, while Mary Chapin Carpenter debuts at number eight.

This week's No1 UK country album
This week’s No1 UK country album
  1. The things that we are made of – Mary Chapin Carpenter (2)
  2. Ripcord – Keith Urban (4)
  3. Midwest farmers daughter – Margo Price (8)
  4. Playing with fire – Jennifer Nettles (New)
  5. Detour – Cyndi Lauper (1)
  6. Traveller – Chris Stapelton (5)
  7. Little windows – Teddy Thompson & Kelly Jones (11)
  8. A sailor’s guide to earth – Sturgill Simpson (6)
  9. Stayin’ up all night – Nathan Carter (3)
  10. Tangled up – Thomas Rhett (9)

Courtesy of the Official Charts Company