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CMA Fest 2017 – June 8th- 11th 2017

In 2017 we attended a family wedding in Louisville, KY. Since we are big country music fans we thought it would be fun to drive to Nashville after the wedding. We’d never been, so it would be a new experience. We were lucky enough to have CMA Fest happening that week. If you’re not familiar, CMA Fest is a huge music festival that fills Nashville for 4 days.

We arrived in Nashville the night before CMA Fest started. We walked around watched Florida Georgia Line film a spot for Country Music Association’s award show at their new restaurant. Then we walked up the street to watch CMT Crossover, where Earth Wind and Fire played with Darius Rucker, Sara Evans, Dan & Shay, and a couple others. If the pre-event festivities are any indication, we were excited for the festival to begin.

First Full Day in Nashville

The following day was a low-key day. We saw the world’s only exact replica of the Parthenon, walked the campus of Vanderbilt University. What an amazing campus in the heart of Nashville. Julie found the Tri Delta house – she is a Tri Delta from UC Santa and her mom and aunt were both Tri Deltas. So this was a special spot for her. We walked all over Music Row since our hotel is in the middle of it. Speaking of our hotel, there are better options. We stayed at the Home 2 Suites by Hilton. This is normally a great brand and gives you nice suites for extended stays. This property had to be a remodel from an old apartment or older hotel. The room design was terrible, and the amenities were lackluster. The shuttle the hotel offers to downtown is the most disorganized operation we’ve ever experienced. If we went back we’d definitely stay closer to downtown.

CMA Fest 2017 - Day 1

This town is on fire as Day 1 of CMA Fest 2017 is underway. We started the day with Jon Pardi, then a few meet and greets and small concerts with new artists Todd Oneil, Parmalee and Jacob Davis. We then got to chat with Chris and Preston from LOCASH before they did their meet and greet. Then they rocked the Disney Radio stage. We had met them a few weeks prior at their concert in Chico, Ca where they were nice enough to invite Marcus on stage to play with them for their finale hit song, I Love This Life.

After a day filled with music we headed to Nissan Stadium for the big show. Kenny Rodgers opened and definitely showed his age, but his music is so iconic, the crowd loved it. Brett Elridge took the stage next followed by a surprise show from the one and only Garth Brooks! Man, that guy is amazing. 50,000+ people went completely nuts. You haven’t lived until you’ve been part of an entire stadium signing together. The energy and love was electric. What an experience. Kelsey Ballerini and Thomas Rhett are hosting the TV show for CMA Fest airing in August. They shot the opening for Garth right next to us. We said hi, they totally won’t remember us. 😊 Cole Swindel and Dirks Bentley were up next and killed it. Miranda Lambert came out after that and was a total dud. Luke Bryan brought the crowd back to life and finished out the night starting at midnight rocking the house as the full moon rose over the stadium.

CMA Fest 2017 - Day 2

Day 2 of CMA Fest 2017 kicks off with with a Storytelling session with Jake Owen. He was great and tied in perfectly to our philosophy of Life is About Experiences Not Things, when he said “attending concerts isn’t about the music, it’s about the people and the experiences created as those people come together.” So true.  We then headed outside and found Jake’s VW Bus from his videos. He came out to drive off and Marcus just missed getting an autograph. We decided to have lunch and our table just happened to be front and center to where all the stars came in to Fan Fair X. So we had lunch and cocktails while Kelsey Ballerinni, Hunter Hayes, and a bunch we didn’t know came in and out. One bearded guy got out of his nice black truck and we knew he had to be somebody. We figured out it was Sam Hunt when he got on stage later that night. Love country music because most of the stars all drove up in normal cars and trucks – Humble and polite. Love it.

We toured the Country Music Hall of Fame – very quickly. Ton of history and some cool stuff and a bunch of stuff we couldn’t care less about.

Our night wrapped up with concerts at Nissan Stadium. Trace Adkins kicked off the night, followed by Rascal Flats, Sam Hunt and Kelsey Ballerini. We had a couple of guest appearances right next to us by Dustin Lynch and Brett Young. Marcus was right next to Brett for his performance and got a shout out because he had his hat on. Watch for that one on the TV show. Eric Church and Blake Shelton brought the house down to wrap up day 2 of CMA Fest. We’re having a blast as we reach the halfway point of the festival. The quote of the day from Marcus at the end of the night when he flopped down on his bed, exhausted and said “I got out partied by my parents!” #winning.

CMA Fest 2017 - Day 3

Day 3 of CMA Fest 2017 and we’re starting to drag at this point after many later nights, but we’re powering through. We started the day listing to Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood talk about hosting the CMA Awards and everything that goes into it. Very cool to hear how they put the monologue together for the show. What a great duo they make.

We moved on from there to a couple of meet and greets. Jacob Davis was our favorite. We heard him the previous day and really liked his sound. He just got a record deal about a year ago. When we got up to him he introduced himself, asked Marcus’ name and asked mine. He remembered us watching his performance the previous day (very small venue). What a class act. Look him up (ladies, you’re gonna love him). He epitomizes country music – humble, kind, and genuinely cares about his fans. From there we watched Eric Paslay in a songwriters event. This guy has written for some of the biggest acts in the business and is a great talent in his own right.

We finally found some vegetables for dinner in a town filled with fried everything (thank you DoorDash). Then it was off to night 3 of concerts. John Anderson opened the night – don’t worry, we had no clue who he was either. Maren Morris was up next, followed by Chris Young and Old Dominion. They all rocked. Thomas Rhett and Kelsey Ballerini did another segment for the TV show next to us. Then Lady A took the stage and lite up the night. Julie’s favorite, Thomas Rhett was up next and was amazing. Florida Georgia Line wrapped up the night with a mix of new and old stuff and had 50,000 people singing along at the top on their lungs.

CMA Fest 2017 - Day 4

The final day of CMA Fest 2017 was low key as Marcus was wiped and stayed in the room. Julie and I walked around enjoyed some more music, saw some stars whom we didn’t know and simply soaked up our last full day in Nashville.

The evening brought something truly unique. The Stanley Cup game 5 started at the same time as we walked to the stadium. This town was on fire with an extra 40,000 people on Broadway on top of the estimated 100,000 people here for CMA Fest. I’ve never experienced a moment in time where there was so much positive energy in one place. It was the perfect way to wrap up our final night of CMA Fest.

The final night at Nissan Stadium kicked off with Tracey Lawrence followed by Brothers Osborne. Darius Rucker rocked the house next. Little Big Town was up after that. Then Keith Urban took the stage and lit up 50,000 fans. He came out in the audience to play Wasted Time right next to us for the TV show. He is an amazing artist and his passion for playing and his fans is stunning. The positive energy he throws off infects the entire crowd. Brad Paisley wrapped up the night and the festival. He also filmed a segment for the TV show right next to us and Marcus was right next to him for it.

CMA Fest 2017 - The Final Day

Our final day in Nashville we headed over to the Opryland Resort experience this huge place. We walked around and took it in, then headed to the historic Grand Ole Opry for a backstage tour. You can feel the history of this place as you walk around. Fun fact, the Opry opened the same day I was born. The ceremony was attended by President Richard Nixon – the Opry ceremony, not my birth. Since there were no events going on while we were there we got to go out on the historic stage and take it all in. This was the perfect wrap up to our Nashville Experience.

On to plan our next adventure. We hope you enjoyed the trip. We’d love to hear your comments below and hear more about your experiences.


Author Christopher

I'm a 40 something father, husband and entrepreneur. I love to travel and experience life in between being involved with my son's activities, and running 4 companies, one of which I own with my wife of 21 years. One month after taking the plunge to do an epic 26 day trip from Sydney Australia to Honolulu Hawaii I had a heart attack. I survived because of the quick actions of my wife and the fact that I had been a triathlete for the years leading up to the event. Now, more than ever before, I appreciate what life has to offer and making time to go experience it, not just dream about it.

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