Monday, June 20, 2016

CMA Fest 2016: A Recap

I think it's safe to say by now that I am finally recovered and somewhat out of vacay-mode after our first CMA Festival week in Nashville. CMA Festival is the festival of all festivals for country music lovers. Anyone who follows me on social media knows that it was four long days (and nights!) of country music (old and new). Attending the CMT Awards, selfie-ing with JJ Watt, and meeting a few of our favorite up and coming artists were just a few of the highlights.

Ben and I thought it would be fun to breakdown the trip into a quick Q&A recap. I could go on and on about the stories, the weather, the artists, and the experience, topped off with a "I never wanted to leave." - but this will give you a short and sweet recap of the moments that stood out most to us.

Artist you wanted to see most before arriving?
K: Kip Moore, definitely. We waited so long for him to get added to the lineup and when he was announced, he was added to the HGTV lodge which was a venue that we didn't have tickets for. It was a long shot that we were going to see him, but I was determined to find a way. Artists we were for sure seeing that I was looking forward to? Ryan Beaver, and Eric Church.

B: My favorite artist is Eric Church, so of course I was excited to see him. Granted I've seen him 5-6 times already so for CMA Fest I was really looking forward to seeing artists that I hadn't seen before. The "Big Name" I wanted to see was Chris Stapleton. He rocked the house like I knew he would. The "New" Artist I wanted to see was Ryan Beaver. He may not be "new" but he is new to me and his latest CD is awesome. We were front row for him and he put on a great show.

Favorite performance?
K: Kip. Again. Since he was performing at the HGTV Lodge (that again, mind you we did NOT have tickets for!) we had to wait two hours in an area called a "hopefuls line". This is a line you wait in to see if you can get into the venue. This, of course is all dependent on space availability after those who purchased/won tickets get inside. In some situations, fifteen "hopefuls" can get in. In others, it could only be two. Somehow, someway, Ben and I were the last two banded in the hopefuls line to get into the HGTV Lodge to see Kip's performance (although they did let a few extras in after us). It was all acoustic and worth every minute we waited.

B: My favorite performance was Ryan Beaver. He was great live and it was cool hearing all the new songs from his latest CD (although I wish he played Habit!). We also got to meet him after the show and he's a super nice guy.

Favorite food at the festival?
K: PIMENTO MAC & CHEESE GRILLED CHEESE from The Grilled Cheeserie food truck. Oh. My. Lawwwwd. I had it twice. Sorry, arteries.

B: My favorite food was the Buffalo Soldier Sandwich from the Steaming Goat food truck. It had buffalo chicken, chipotle aioli, slaw, pickles, greens, and steamed in chicken broth. It was so good that I almost got it twice.

Best day of the festival?
K: I'd have to say the first day. It was long, but it was such an experience just knowing that we were finally at CMA Fest - something Ben and I have waited so long to attend. I teared up while we were sitting in our seats on the field of Nissan Stadium waiting for the headliners to start on the first night. Just being able to be in the city of Nashville seeing all of your favorite artists is something really special.

B: The best day was day two. The Nissan Stadium lineup had three of my favorites: Chris Stapleton, Sam Hunt, and Eric Church. All were amazing I just wished they could have played longer sets.

What would you tell somebody attending CMA Festival next year?
K: 1. Buy a fanny pack. It keeps you handsfree, and it's impossible to lose since it's literally wrapped around you the entire time. I brought this one. 2. Stay hydrated. There's a lot of people and a lot of sunshine in downtown Nashville. The last thing you want is to be dehydrated in a crowd of passionate country music lovers. 3. Make your artist schedule ahead of time with the CMA Fest app. There's a lot of artists to see, new and old that you won't want to miss. Some play at the same time as others, some play hours apart from each other. The best thing you can do for yourself is plan ahead of time so you can fit everyone in that you want to see.

B: 1) Wear comfortable shoes because you will be on your feet all day walking around. 2) Stay hydrated - find the water stations during the day. 3) Shade is like the best friend that everyone and their mom wants to hangout with at CMA Fest. Find it and treat it like that. 4) See as many artists as possible - that's the whole point of giant festivals like this. Go see all the "no name" artists you can because some may surprise you, and you never know who may make it big one day.

Oh hey, check out Brett Kissel

The one and only Chris Stapleton

When you're tired of watching the CMT Awards on TV, so you decide to attend it in person


JJ & KK #selfiegoals


Kip Moore @ the HGTV Lodge

LB doin' his thang

Ryan Beaver. Expect a #HeadphoneHighlights post on this one soon.


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