The two or three kick-off events prior to the CMA Fest have now blossomed into two or three days
of kick-off events.  The traditional fan club parties, countless
concerts, club performances, benefits and games seemed to appear out of
nowhere to envelop the honky-tonk district in Music City, much to the
delight of thousands of fans who descended upon the city from all over
the world.
with two breakfasts, one at the Nashville Palace with Mel Tillis, Bill
Anderson, Jean Shepard and Charley Pride and then Easton Corbin,
Lonestar, Eric Paslay and Drake White at the Country Music Hall of Fame,
it was off to the Ryman Auditorium.  Family and friends of the man in
black celebrated the issuance of the Johnny Cash postage stamp with a
concert featuring Marty Stuart, the Oak Ridge Boys, The Roys, Randy
Travis, Jamey Johnson and John Schneider who treated the audience to “A
Boy Named Sue”.  

raindrops that failed to deter the onlookers, the Kick-Off Parade
brought us Kix Brooks (of Brooks and Dunn) as the Grand Marshall with
Lynn Anderson, Meghan Linsey, Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tillis, Cowboy Troy,
Danielle Peck and the magnificent Clydesdale horses.

Celebrity Go-Go Go-Kart and Mini Golf Challenge is an annual favorite
fan event for Bo Bice and Bucky Covington, and Craig Campbell held a
corn hole championship with Jerrod Niemann.  

were lines, lines and more lines encompassing the Bridgestone Arena for
the live broadcast of the annual CMT Awards, whether it was for entry,
for seat and mosh pit fillers or for red carpet sightings.  Miranda
Lambert and Florida-Georgia Line each took home two trophies and Carrie
Underwood‘s video of the year, “Blown Away“ was the unanimous favorite.
 An opening “American Woman“, with Lenny Kravitz and Jason Aldean, lead
the way for great performances throughout the evening, especially that
of Little Big Town and Keith Urban with a surreal cover of Fleetwood
Mac‘s “The Chain“.  

evening was actually just beginning as the Awards ceremony came to an
end.  Upon leaving the arena, we found ourselves showered with streamers
and in the middle of a flash mob of a few hundred dancers celebrating
Ronnie Dunn’s new release as he performed atop Rippy’s Restaurant across
the street (where the WannaBeatles had once performed for the
anniversary of the Beatles rooftop Abbey Road concert).  Videos of his
new music, which included “Country This”, were projected onto the roof
of the Ryman Auditorium across the street and other venues nearby.
 Then, if you were not on your way to the Warner After Party with The
Farm or heading for the Marty Stuart Late Night Jam until 3 a.m. at the
Ryman Auditorium with the Oak Ridge Boys and the Mavericks, then you had
to be at the “Duke after Dark” show at the Silver Dollar Saloon on
Second Avenue with John Schneider, one of our finest genuine country
singers (and well-known Duke of Hazzard), who told stories about
co-writing and playing pool with Johnny Cash. 

concerts and more concerts are now on the agenda as the fans prepare
for the Riverfront Stage and LP Field events after long days collecting
autographs in the new Music City Center.  Tomorrow is another day….
(c) by S. Parks

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