The CMA Music Festival officially kicked off Thursday in Nashville with live performances on multiple stages throughout downtown Nashville. Of course, the highlight of the festival is the star-studded nightly concert lineup at LP Field. Here’s a roundup of what the stars had to say before going onstage at the stadium to play for the sold-out crowd:
— Florida Georgia Line is known for whipping their concert crowds into a frenzy, but the duo’s Tyler Hubbard admits he’s never seen anything like the audience at the CMA Music Festival’s nightly concerts.
Before FGL took the stage for their Thursday-night performance at LP Field, Tyler said, “Those are the most passionate fans in the world that are here this weekend, so to see 70,000 of them thrown into a stadium together, it’s on another level.”
Tyler and his duo partner, Brian Kelley, are always floored to find out how far their fans travel to attend CMA Fest in Nashville.
“These fans are coming from Europe,” Tyler added. “We’ve met people that we’ve met in Europe that are here this weekend. People from Canada. All over, so it’s a really cool week for us.”
— Jason Aldean played for fans all day long Thursday starting with his intimate fan club party at Acme Feed & Seed on Nashville’s Lower Broadway. After playing an acoustic show for the small crowd, Jason says, “[We] got a chance to get up close and personal with some fans and do some Q&A. Some interesting questions, but it was fun.”
Later that night, Jason helped kick off the CMA Music Festival’s nightly concerts with a performance at Nashville’s LP Field. Since he’s been performing at this event for a decade now, Jason knows these kinds of events help solidify the lifelong bond between country artists and their loyal fans.
He says, “They’ll be out here when I’m 80, and there’ll be the same people in the front row, and that’s a cool thing that I don’t know if you have in any other genre of music. I think it’s festivals like this that make that happen.”
— Dierks Bentley recently graced the cover of People magazine, billed as the hottest guy in country music. The recognition comes as Dierks begins his second major headlining tour, but he’s not exactly comfortable being labeled a sex symbol. Dierks’ newly-minted superstar status led to a scary experience earlier this week as he left Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium after a benefit concert.
Says Dierks, “Walking out of the Opry the other night for Second Harvest and having people crowd around me in the car, like, I don’t know that. That’s such a weird — I’m not used to that. Never will be. It makes me uncomfortable. So, I don’t really know how to respond to it.”
When it comes to playing for thousands of fans on his tour or at the CMA Music Festival Thursday night, Dierks is totally at home.
“Playing for 20,000 people feels totally normal,” he says. “People are screaming and shouting, it feels great.”
On a serious note, Dierks has fond memories of Grand Ole Opry star Jim Ed Brown, who passed away Thursday after a battle with cancer.
Dierks says, “I remember being on the Opry for one of my first times and him being there and being so gracious and so kind to us. I got a chance to wear his glasses one time. Mess around a little bit. We got some great pictures together.”
— Alan Jackson kicked off the CMA Music Festival’s opening night at Nashville’s LP Field Thursday, and he was pretty excited to check out sets from the other stars on the bill, including Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley and Rascal Flatts.
Alan said before going onstage, “You know, some of it’s not country enough for me, but as long as it’s a good form of what they’re doing, I enjoy it. I think Jason’s had some good songs. Florida Georgia, good songwriters. Dierks — I’ve been a fan of his for years.”
You won’t catch Alan hanging around the festival now that his performance is done, though.
He added, “I probably won’t come back and see anybody, to be honest with you.”
The CMA Music Festival continues through Sunday in Nashville. We’ll keep you posted on all the big news coming out of Music City this weekend.
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