Concert Review: CMA Music Fest 2013

I love music. I always have. It has the ability to take me to times and places from days gone by like nothing else. I usually leave the XM radio on Spectrum and I'm happy with about 90% of the songs I hear. But this past weekend, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a lot of new music (for me) and a lot of talent when I attended two nights of the CMA Music Fest 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. This is an event where hundreds of country artists gather on multiple stages to show their love for the fans. And thousands of fans from all over the world come together for 4 days of nonstop music, autograph signings, and fun with some of their favorite stars.

The festival got its start back in 1972 and was known as Fan Fair at the time. The first concerts featured classic artists such as George Jones and Tammy Wynette. One of the greatest traditions that still holds true today is the surprise performer. An early one was Paul McCartney, but I'll tell you more about the surprises that awaited me in a minute. By 2000, the attendance climbs to 22,000 and the festival is then moved to downtown Nashville. Today, it is still held downtown with the large nightly concerts being held at the home of the Titans, LP Field. 

I arrived on the second day of the festival with two of my close friends, ready for a girls' weekend with my sister, a native of Nashville. When we arrived, she had a CMA survival bag waiting for us, containing CMA essentials: sharpie pen, autograph pad, sun visor, bandana, nabs, energy drinks, Goo Goo Clusters, Tylenol, and homemade redneck wine glasses (see below). 

Jelly Jar with a candlestick glued to the bottom. I have commissioned a whole set!

Jelly Jar with a candlestick glued to the bottom. I have commissioned a whole set!

We then hopped into her convertible and headed for downtown. But first we stopped off at a local favorite diner, Arnolds, where we were treated to homemade meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn soufflé, squash casserole, and homemade chow chow. It was dee-lish!

Just a little meat and three!

Just a little meat and three!

And off to the festivities. As we arrived, the streets were full of people from all over the world, complete with boots, cowboy hats, and cutoff jean shorts (Daisy Dukes!) Our first stop was to see my friend Kate's cousin, a very talented up-and-comer, Eric Lee Beddingfield. Eric is known to country fans for his popular ballad about the late George Jones, "The Gospel According to Jones". He was awesome. We were able to get autographs and meet him afterwards. You can check him out at his website: http://elbrocks.com.

ELB performing on the Chevrolet stage

ELB performing on the Chevrolet stage

Check out his video for "The Gospel According to Jones": 

Then we headed off to the new convention center to meet some new artists and buy some souvenirs. We met new bands, took pics with cardboard cutouts of some stars, and as you can see below, I had a little redneck makeover!

I had an instant makeover with some clip in hair extensions! 

I had an instant makeover with some clip in hair extensions! 

After a short rest back at the hotel, we were off for the Friday night concert at LP Field.The lineup for the evening was: Dee Jay Silver, Gloriana, Randy Travis, Kip Moore, Little Big Town, Hunter Hayes, Lady Antebellum, and Blake Shelton. They were all really good, but I want to single out someone new to me: Hunter Hayes. He is only 21 but has so much talent. He reminded me a bit of Justin Timberlake (and I love me some JT). Remember how I mentioned surprise guests? Well, this evening, the surprise guests were Jason Mraz and ..... Sheryl Crow!! She rocked the house! It was a great night.

Sheryl on the JumboTron

Sheryl on the JumboTron

The next day, we toured a little of Nashville, saw a few stars' homes, and had a relaxing lunch at Urban Grub (urban grub.net).  The food is southern chic and absolutely delicious. I had the bacon and sausage strata and their trademark grits. Out of this world! The service was perfect (Thanks Shane!) and the ambience could not have been better. Although we didn't have them, the raw oyster bar looked really good.

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We then visited a great store called Two Old Hippies.  I plan to do a separate review of this store in the days to come, so keep your eyes open. Until then, here is a shot of me and Deanne in the restored VW hippie van in the store:

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After a small nap, we were all ready for some more fun. First, we had a delicious meal at The Silly Goose (sillygoosenashville.com). The food was perfect. Prepared from locally grown foods, it could not have been better. We were served by the chef, Rod Bailey, who gave us personal attention and explained each dish. He was also wearing one of the greatest t-shirts. Check it out below. If you are ever in Nashville, you have to eat here.

Silly Goose chef Rod Bailey. Now we know where they get their beets. Thanks Dwight! 

Silly Goose chef Rod Bailey. Now we know where they get their beets. Thanks Dwight! 

Right next door to the Silly Goose, there is the most unique ice cream places I've ever experienced. It's called Jeni's (www.jenis.com) and you will not believe the flavors: Brown Butter Almond Brittle, Pistachio and Honey, Chamomile, and Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet are just a few. The staff is so friendly. It was a lot of fun. Jeni, if you're reading this, we need you in Sandy Springs, Georgia!

Getting my cone of Brown Sugar Almond Brittle and Pistachio Honey!

Getting my cone of Brown Sugar Almond Brittle and Pistachio Honey!

And then we were off for our second evening concert at LP Field.  This evening's lineup included Dee Jay Silver, Brett Eldredge, The Oak Ridge Boys, Florida Georgia Line, Dierks Bentley, Kelly Clarkson, and Keith Urban. So much talent! Keith Urban tore up that guitar! Again, the lineup could not have been better. Or could it? Yes! It could! LENNY KRAVITZ! WTH! I went crazy for a few minutes and nearly lost my voice. It was very exciting! 

Lenny on the JumboTron! He hasn't aged a day! 

Lenny on the JumboTron! He hasn't aged a day! 

There was not one bad moment in the whole weekend (excluding the migraine I got from not drinking enough water). We have already purchased our tickets for next year. I can only imagine who we will see! 

Thanks for stopping by and getting buzzed!!