The Country Music Annual Festival has grown tremendously since its start in 1972 as Fan Fair. It now consists of 90K+ country music fans and 11 stages featuring more than 350 artists centered around downtown Nashville! TSE Entertainment’s partners Mike Black, Glenda Black and Bob Brecht attended the 4-day event June 7th-10th to look at up-and-coming country music artists and support our soon-to-be featured and featured artists. TSE also had scheduled meetings with William Morris Endeavor (WME), Creative Artists Agency (CAA), Agency for the Performing Arts (APA) and SSM Nashville. The trip exceeded our wildest expectations.
What to Expect at the Country Music Association Festival
First and foremost, you can expect both local country music bands as well as world-renown entertainers. There’s lots of country music of all different kinds. During the day starting at 10 AM and running through 5:30 PM, you can find free concerts on 8 different stages (Chevy Riverfront Stage, Chevy Breakout Stage, Budweiser Forever Stage, Maui Jim Broadway Stage, Nashville Acoustic Corner Stage, CMA Close Up Stage, CMA Spotlight Stage, & Radio Disney Country Stage). There was also the HGTV Lodge but this required a separate ticket. Additional tickets could also be purchased to attend the night concerts at the Country Roads Stage and Nissan Stadium (home of the Tennessee Titans). On top of all of the formal concerts are the live country music gigs going on in all of the neighborhood bars and clubs all over Nashville.
There were also tons of exhibitors/venues to visit ranging from attractions to food & drink to retailers. There were surprise country stars meet and greets, and nearly every booth & stage had awesome games and prizes!
Country Music Association Festival Highlights of Day 1 – Thursday
Each day there are nearly 100 performances on the 11 stages. I personally gravitate to older country, so I hung out at the Budweiser Stage to watch Shenandoah, Bellamy Brothers, Little Texas, Lonestar, Restless Heart, & Lorrie Morgan. Some others that stood out during the day were LOCASH, Ashley McBryde, Jordan Davis, & Chris Lane just to name a few.
The paid performances at night were Charles Esten, Kane Brown, Carly Pearce, Dan + Shay, Brothers Osborne, Jason Aldean, Everette, Runaway June, Lindsay Ell, Chase Bryant, Craig Campbell, Granger Smith, & Chase Rice.
Country Music Association Festival Highlights of Day 2 – Friday
In the morning TSE Entertainment’s partners met with Lance Alleman at WME in their new offices and then headed over to visit with Travis Wolfe at APA. Great guys! From there we went and had lunch with one of our up and coming stars Dani Dease and her mentor, Julian Sundby. This girl is incredible. She’s not only a very talented singer/songwriter but a great person as well! She has a hell of a story.
After lunch we went to SSM Nashville’s office to meet with Dean Scallan and Steve Branch about our relationship and the potential of their record label for some of our country music artist. Branch & Dean, who are featured on our roster, even put on an acoustic 3-song house concert for us. The first song they performed they had just written and is soon to be recorded, Somebody’s Needing Somebody. Then they played a couple of their radio hits The Dash and Glad She’s Not an Angel. “The Dash” is actually the song that they have used as their platform to be National Ambassadors for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation as well as getting to play in front of President Trump this year at the 37th Annual Peace Officers Memorial Service May 15th. Branch & Dean also had a meet and greet at the SSM Nashville booth today from 1-2:30 PM.
Afterward we headed back to the festival to take in some other acts. I went straight to see the infamous Lee Roy Parnell. Man, he can still play the guitar just like a-ringin’ a bell! He also had a surprise meet and greet afterwards. I got his signature for my kids. Super nice and laid-back guy! A few artists that also performed today were Waterloo Revival, Wade Hayes, Keith Anderson, Heidi Newfield, Darryl Worley, Sweet Tea Trio, Cam, Jaden Michaels, etc.
The lineup of night performers were Charley Pride, Brett Young, Jake Owen, Luke Combs, Blake Shelton, Old Dominion, Carrie Underwood, Clare Dunn, Drake White and The Big Fire, Maddie & Tae, Tyler Farr, & Lee Brice.
Country Music Association Festival Highlights of Day 3 – Saturday
Saturday, we met with Brian Waymire from CAA. Another fantastic guy! Later we went to Dani Dease’s Showcase at Bobby’s Idle Hour where she played songs such as Mojo Back, the cover song I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, Ez2bme, and Brave. The crowd absolutely loved her, as did the TSE Entertainment team! We’ve been working with her mentor and record label owner, Julian Sundby from Sundby Music and Sun Jewel Records, for a number of months as Dani prepares for her showcase tour, featuring her new EP. Dani should be up on our website in the very near future.
Here is a taste of daytime performers – Corey Smith, Tyler Farr, Michael Ray, Kassie Ashton, Clare Dunn, Tracy Lawrence, George Ducas, Tyler Rich, Restless Road, Sons of Daughters, Gal Friday, Jimmie Allen, etc.
The cast of nighttime entertainers were Lee Ann Womack, Jon Pardi, Dustin Lynch, Kelsea Ballerini, Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban, Tegan Marie, Cale Dodds, Morgan Evans, & Michael Ray.
CMA Music Festival Highlights of Day 4 – Sunday
Duty called, and our team headed home Sunday morning, but the fun wasn’t over yet for thousands of country music fans.
The daytime lineup did not disappoint. Here are a few names you might recognize – Easton Corbin, Sundance Head, Andy Griggs, Blackhawk, The Last Bandoleros, Adam Sanders, Haley & Michaels, Walker Hayes, Kelsey Lamb, Caroline Jones, Emily Hackett, etc.
The nighttime roster was smaller because the Country Roads Stage was not used, only Nissan Stadium – Ricky Skaggs, Brett Eldredge, Cole Swindell, Dierks Bentley, Florida Georgia Line, & Luke Bryan.
If you ever have the chance to go to the Country Music Association Music Festival in Nashville, take it. It is so worth the experience! And now you will have a much better idea of what to expect.
For our team it was great seeing all the local country bands and national country artists. It was especially rewarding to build relationships with our artists and the agents we work with.