MusicRowPics: 2015 ‘MusicRow’ Awards At ASCAP


• June 24, 2015 • 
 
 
The 27th annual MusicRow Awards were presented yesterday (June 23) during a ceremony at ASCAP’s Nashville offices. MusicRow Publisher and Owner Sherod Robertson led the proceedings which honored Breakthrough Artist Sam Hunt, Producer of the Year Jay Joyce, Breakthrough Songwriter Michael Carter, Song of the Year “Girl Crush” and The Top 10 Album All-Star Musician Awards.
Click to see the winners list or read exclusive event coverage by Bobby Karl.
All photos by Bev Moser.

MusicRow Awards 2015
MusicRow Awards 2015
MusicRow Awards 2015
MusicRow Awards 2015
MusicRow Awards 2015
MusicRow Awards 2015
MusicRow Awards 2015
MusicRow Awards 2015

Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame: “HITS FROM THE HALL”

Had a fantastic time last night at our second “HITS FROM THE HALL” fund raiser at City Winery Nashville. GRETCHEN PETERS, JIM COLLINS, SHANE MCANALLY – you all put on an incredible show! Thank you for supporting the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame!

(l-r) Shane McAnally, HOF member/NaSHOF Board Chair Pat Alger, Jim Collins, HOF member Gretchen Peters, NaSHOF Executive Director Mark Ford
Photo Credit: Bev Moser * Moments By Moser


MusicRow Magazine: Bobby Karl Works The ‘MusicRow’ Awards


• June 24, 2015 • 
 
Pictured (L-R): MusicRow's Eric T. Parker, Warner/Chappell's Ben Vaughn, "Girl Crush" songwriters Liz Rose and Hillary Lindsey, BMG's Kos Weaver, Universal Music Publishing Group's Kent Earls, and MusicRow's Sherod Robertson and Sarah Skates. Not pictured: Lori McKenna. Photo: Bev Moser.
“Girl Crush” wins Song of the Year. Pictured (L-R): MusicRow‘s Eric T. Parker, Warner/Chappell’s Ben Vaughn, “Girl Crush” songwriters Liz Rose and Hillary Lindsey, BMG’s Kos Weaver, Universal Music Publishing Group’s Kent Earls, and MusicRow‘s Sherod Robertson and Sarah Skates. Not pictured: co-writer Lori McKenna. Photo: Bev Moser.

CLICK TO SEE THE COMPLETE LIST OF WINNERS
Chapter 497
This year’s MusicRow Awards party had exceptional hospitality, a happy vibe and, most of all, a pervasive feeling of conviviality and comrade-ship.
“Thank you, Nashville,” said Sam Hunt’s grateful manager Brad Belanger. “This is our community.”
“There is nothing like doing what we do, and doing it with our friends,” said songwriter Liz Rose.
“This is my family, basically,” said songwriter Michael Carter.
Hunt won Breakthrough Artist. Carter won Breakthrough Songwriter. Rose won Song of the Year for “Girl Crush,” with her cowriters Hillary Lindsey and Lori McKenna, collectively known as “The Love Junkies.”
This year’s event was staged at ASCAP on Tuesday evening (6/23). ASCAP’s Mike Sistad greeted the crowd and brought MR’s Sherod Robertson to the stage.

Sherod Robertson,
Pictured (L-R): MusicRow‘s Sherod Robertson, manager Brad Belanger on behalf of Sam Hunt, Breakthrough Songwriter Michael Carter, Song of the Year co-writers Hillary Lindsey and Liz Rose, and ASCAP’s Mike Sistad. Photo: Bev Moser

“Welcome to the 27th annual MusicRow Awards,” said Robertson. “Our awards started in 1989, the year that Taylor [Swift] was born. We all love to be early adopters [of talent], and these awards allow us to do that.”
Among the stars who won their early industry awards from MusicRow are Blake Shelton, Kacey Musgraves, Lady Antebellum, The Band Perry, Chris Young, Joe Nichols, Phil Vassar, Luke Bryan and the Zac Brown Band, as well as Swift.
Here’s hoping this year’s honorees follow in their footsteps. Thanks to his work with Eric Church, Little Big Town, Brothers Osborne and Cage the Elephant, Jay Joyce won his first Producer of the Year award.
“He promises he will continue to push the envelope for our town,” said Melissa Spillman, accapting on Joyce’s behalf.

Pictured (L-R): MusicRow's Eric T. Parker, Neon Cross's Melissa Spillman, and MusicRow's Sarah Skates and Sherod Robertson. Photo: Bev Moser.
Neon Cross’s Melissa Spillman accepts Producer of the Year on behalf of Jay Joyce. Pictured (L-R): MusicRow’s Eric T. Parker, Spillman, and MusicRow’s Sarah Skates and Sherod Robertson. Photo: Bev Moser.

When Michael Carter won the Breakthrough Songwriter award, he was almost overcome. “What the hell!?” he exclaimed. “I don’t even know where to begin. It’s just so cool to get to do this for a living. Wow, this is nuts. Thank you to everybody who’s been a part of it. Thank you for supporting songwriters and letting somebody new come into the fold.”
Carter is Luke Bryan’s bandleader and Cole Swindell’s producer. He co-wrote three No. 1 songs as his first hits: Swindell’s “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight,”  Bryan’s “Roller Coaster” and Thomas Rhett’s “Get Me Some of That.”
Sam Hunt’s win as Breakthrough Artist was something of a surprise, since Swindell has been cleaning up in this area lately. “This guy has that IT factor,” explained Robertson. “He’s the happiest artist I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Belanger. “We’ve got some cool stuff on the road ahead.” Hunt had just one day off this week to move into his new house, and this conflicted with the ceremony.
Song of the Year co-writer McKenna lives near Boston and was also a no-show, but her “Girl Crush” collaborators were delightful at the mic. “This is so fun,” said Liz Rose. “Everybody’s been so awesome to embrace this song.” Added co-writer Hillary Lindsey, “It’s a pretty cool thing in this town and with this song.” Rose and Lindsey took the stage to powerfully perform “Girl Crush” as the event’s finale.

Pictured (L-R): MusicRow's Sherod Roberston, songwriter Michael Carter, MusicRow's Sarah Skates. Photo: Bev Moser.
Breakthrough Songwriter is presented to Michael Carter (center) with MusicRow’s Sherod Roberston and Sarah Skates. Photo: Bev Moser.

The MusicRow Awards is the only industry event that honors Music City’s session professionals. This year, everyone who won last year was a repeat winner, with the exception of first-time honoree Steve Marcantonio, who tied as Engineer of the Year with 11-time prior winner Justin Niebank.
Background vocalist Wes Hightower won his category for the thirteenth time. “I’m thankful for every single one of them,” he said.
Aubrey Haynie won his eighth fiddler award. Ilya Toshinsky won his sixth guitar honor. Keyboard player Charles Judge earned his fifth award. “Thank you, MusicRow, for doing this,” he said in appreciation of the magazine’s musician recognitions.
Jimmie Lee Sloas won his fifth bass player award. Drummer Greg Morrow won his fourth. Steel player Russ Pahl earned his second.
Dave Pomeroy of the Musicians Union was proudly snapping photos.

Manager Kerri Edwards (Luke Bryan, Michael Carter, Cole Swindell) and MusicRow Publisher/Owner Sherod Robertson.
Manager Kerri Edwards (Luke Bryan, Michael Carter, Cole Swindell) and MusicRow Publisher/Owner Sherod Robertson

Also working the room were Randi Perkins, Randall Himes, Bobby Rymer, Bob Doerschuk, Dale Bobo, Eric Paslay, Eric T. Parker, Erika Wollam Nichols, Susan Collier, Suzanne Lee, Charlie Monk, Chuck Thompson and Alison Toczylowski (who has recently married and plans to adopt a shorter last name, Webber).
ASCAP’s hospitality could not have been lovelier. Chef Michael Mirriam whipped up barbecue sandwiches, chicken satay bites, hummus & pita chips, Italian sausage slices, veggie plates, ham sandwiches, cheese & cracker samplers, blueberry & watermelon medley, salsa & chips, spiced meatballs and cucumber sandwiches, not to mention desserts.
Byron Gallimore, Barry Coburn, Ben Vaughn, Bev Moser, Beth Gwinn, Bill Wence, Becky Harris, Brett James, Carey Barlowe, Celia Froehlig, Cyndi Forman, Doug Johnson, honored guest U.S. copyright registrar Maria Pallante (I told her we threw the party just for her), James Elliott, Jessica Nicholson, Kos Weaver, Kent Earls, Kelsey Grady, Pat Higdon, Ryan Hurd, Rusty Martin, Rich Fagan, Sarah Skates (with her adorable family), Sherrill Blackman, Tracy Gershon, Troy Stephenson and Woody Bomar enjoyed themselves and the event.

Pictured (L-R): MusicRow's Sherod Roberston, vocalist Wes Hightower, steel guitar player Russ Pahl, keyboardist Charles Judge, engineers Steve Marcantonio and Justin Niebank, and MusicRow's Eric T. Parker. Photo: Bev Moser
The Top 10 Album All-Star Musicians. Pictured (L-R): MusicRow‘s Sherod Roberston, vocalist Wes Hightower, steel guitar player Russ Pahl, keyboardist Charles Judge, engineers Steve Marcantonio and Justin Niebank, and MusicRow‘s Eric T. Parker. Photo: Bev Moser

MusicRow Magazine: Little Big Town Tour Halted Due To Jimi Westbrook’s Vocal Cord Surgery


• June 17, 2015 •
Little Big Town backstage at LP Field following their performance at CMA Music Festival last weekend. Photo: Bev Moser
Little Big Town backstage at LP Field following their performance at CMA Music Festival last weekend. Photo: Bev Moser

This afternoon, Little Big Town shared news of member Jimi Westbrook’s upcoming surgery on its Facebook page. The band is canceling or rescheduling its concerts through the end of July.
Little Big Town posted:
With heavy hearts we want to let you guys know that Jimi will have to undergo surgery next week to remove a polyp on his vocal cord. As a result, doctors have ordered him to rest his voice and completely recuperate before we continue touring. All shows through July 30th will be cancelled or rescheduled.
It breaks our hearts to let you guys down, but Jimi’s health is the most important thing and he is expected to make a full recovery with rest and treatment. We will keep everyone updated on Jimi’s progress. Thanks for your understanding and support. – K,K,J & P

Songwriters Singing For Coffee

May 3 ·
Honored to have had the amazing talent last night for our show at the Downtown Art Crawl. We heated up Nashville last night. So many people to thank for helping to pull this off and make it the event that it was!! Thanks to Billy Alexander not pictured here for his amazing talent and love. Special thanks to Eddie Robba and his group CTM Writers Ink, Audio-Technica USA , Breedlove Guitars , LR Baggs, Starbucks, Fifth Third Center, Downtown Nashville Partnership & The Downtown Art Crawl. Thanks for being so welcoming!!
You can't miss when you have a lineup like this.
Marcus Hummon, Ella Mae Bowen, Chris Roberts, Autumn McEntire, Jeff Cohen, Scott Reeves, Pete Sallis & Greg Friia!
Photo Credit - Bev Moser

www.stillisstillmoving.com : Merle Haggard Receives Radio Broadcasters’ Award

9.2.2011  Merle Haggard Receives Radio Broadcasters’ Award

merle
Ed Salamon, Jack Ingram, Merle Haggard,
Emmylou Harris, Carl Jackson
Photo Credit: Bev Moser
“I was supposed to sing tonight,” Haggard told the audience when he first came onstage. “I didn’t know if I’d be able to do it or not [because] I’m fighting pneumonia. I think I’m winning.” He thanked everyone who had prayed for his recovery from cancer. “I certainly needed it,” he said.
http://www.cmt.com
by Edward Morris
Merle Haggard’s ongoing clash with lung cancer hasn’t made him any less sharp-tongued than he was in his glory days.
In Nashville March 3, 2009  to accept a career achievement award from Country Radio Broadcasters, the feisty superstar used the occasion to lash out at the former head of his one-time label, Epic Records.
Prompting the outburst was Emmylou Harris’ wistful performance of Haggard’s self-penned 1985 hit, “Kern River,” a tune she ranked as her Haggard favorite. “The first time I heard that song,” she told the audience assembled in the Renaissance Hotel’s Grand Ballroom, “I almost drove off the road because it’s just so good.”
Her praise of “Kern River” evidently ignited Haggard’s memories of a man who didn’t like the song at all. “I want to say that there was this other guy — I can’t remember his name — he was head of CBS, and he made fun of my song. He said, ‘Who in the hell knows where Kern River is at?'”
Someone in the audience shouted out the name Haggard had apparently forgotten — Rick Blackburn, who helmed CBS Records (of which Epic was a division) from 1980 to 1988.
On another occasion, Haggard recalled that Blackburn said, “I’d like to tell you one more time. I don’t like ‘Kern River.'” Haggard continued, “And I said, ‘That’s about the third time you’ve told me that.’ He said, ‘It’s more like five times.’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m about five times short of telling you to go to hell.'”
By now, the crowd was roaring with laughter. But Haggard wasn’t through yet.
“I said, ‘Who do you think you are? You’re the son-of-a-bitch that sat at that desk over there and fired Johnny Cash. Let it go down in history that you’re the dumbest son-of-a-bitch I’ve ever met.'”
[Blackburn, who dropped Cash from the label in 1986, the year after “Kern River” came out, took Haggard’s tirade in stride. Reached Wednesday (March 4) at his home in Nashville, Blackburn told CMT.com, “He’ll get more pleasure out of that [comment] than I’ll get grief.”]
Prior to Harris’ performance, Jack Ingram saluted Haggard by singing his 1982 hit, “Are the Good Times Really Over (I Wish a Buck Was Still Silver).” Ingram accompanied himself on guitar, while Harris was backed by Carl Jackson on guitar and Phil Madeira on accordion.

SESAC: SESAC Signs Artist/Songwriter David Adam Byrnes

SESAC Signs Artist/Songwriter David Adam Byrnes

Pictured (left to right): SESAC’s Shannan Hatch and Byrnes.

Artist/songwriter David Adam Byrnes has signed with SESAC for representation. The Arkansas native, who has opened shows for the likes of Chris Young, David Nail, Colt Ford, Justin Moore and Thompson Square, has recently released a new single, “Alcoholiday.”
Photo: Bev Moser

MusicRow Magazine: Signing Pics: New West Inks All Them Witches, SESAC Signs David Adam Byrnes

New West Signs All Them Witches 

New West Records has signed Nashville psych-rock band All Them Witches. The band’s forthcoming third studio album will be released in the fall.
New West President John Allen said, “When I first saw All Them Witches live I was immediately struck by their creativity and raw energy as a rock band. If there’s one defining factor of all New West artists it’s that they all know who exactly they are and there’s immense gravity in that. We at New West are very excited to be part of All Them Witches’ epic vision and believe their potential is limitless.”
The band’s single, “Charles Williams,” from 2014 album, Lightning At The Door, received impressive airplay on WRLT Lightning 100. All Them Witches also played a prime spot at Bonnaroo over the weekend.
Pictured: (Front Row L-R) Ben McLeod, Robby Staebler, Allan Van Cleave of All Them Witches (Back Row L-R): John Strohm, Loeb and Loeb; Michael Parks, All Them Witches; John Allen, President of New West Records; Santo Pullella, management.
Pictured (front row L-R): Ben McLeod, Robby Staebler, Allan Van Cleave of All Them Witches;
(Back Row): John Strohm, Loeb and Loeb; Michael Parks, All Them Witches; John Allen, New West; Santo Pullella, management

SESAC Signs David Adam Byrnes

Artist/songwriter David Adam Byrnes has signed with SESAC for representation. The Arkansas native recently released new single, “Alcoholiday.” He has opened shows for Chris Young, David Nail, Colt Ford, Justin Moore and Thompson Square.
Pictured (left to right): SESAC’s Shannan Hatch and Byrnes. Photo: Bev Moser
Pictured (L-R): SESAC’s Shannan Hatch and Byrnes. Photo: Bev Moser

Share this story:

SESAC Signs Artist/Songwriter David Adam Byrnes

SESAC Signs Artist/Songwriter David Adam Byrnes

Pictured (left to right): SESAC’s Shannan Hatch and Byrnes.

Artist/songwriter David Adam Byrnes has signed with SESAC for representation. The Arkansas native, who has opened shows for the likes of Chris Young, David Nail, Colt Ford, Justin Moore and Thompson Square, has recently released a new single, “Alcoholiday.”
Photo: Bev Moser

MUSICROW MAGAZINE: CMA Honors Brad Paisley, Donates To Music Education


• June 15, 2015 •

CMA Presents International Artist Achievement Trophy To Brad Paisley

Backstage during CMA Music Festival’s closing night (June 14), Keith Urban and CMA Chief Executive Officer Sarah Trahern presented Brad Paisley with the CMA International Artist Achievement Award.
“Brad is such a tremendous ambassador for country music around the world,” said Trahern. “His undeniable talent, wit, and charm transcend borders and speak to the heart of the format—in any language.”
Paisley said, “I think country music works as one of the best ambassador type things you can do in an art form. When you send art forms of music overseas, it’s obviously something people flip out over and love, but I don’t know if it reflects real life like our format does. Any time you see people in Sweden loving country songs and what they say and buying into what we are as artists, they’re seeing the real America I think.” He added with a chuckle, “In that sense we have an obligation as a format to try and get this everywhere we can so they don’t think we all wear spandex.”
Formerly the International Touring Artist Award, the CMA International Artist Achievement Award recognizes outstanding achievement by a U.S.-based artist who contributes to the awareness and development of country music outside the United States.
Since being the recipient of this award in 2011, Paisley has remained dedicated to including the international marketplace in his schedule. In 2014, he headlined the C2C Festival in London and Dublin, as well as recorded the special Brad Paisley & Friends for BBC Radio 2 before going on to headline shows in Norway and Sweden.
Brad Paisley receives the CMA International Artist Achievement Award backstage at the CMA Music Festival during a press conference at the Nightly Concert Sunday at LP Field. (L-R) Keith Urban, CMA Foundation National Ambassador; Paisley; and Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. Photo: Hunter Berry / CMA
Brad Paisley receives the CMA International Artist Achievement Award backstage at the CMA Music Festival during a press conference at the Nightly Concert Sunday at LP Field. (L-R) Keith Urban, CMA Foundation National Ambassador; Paisley; and Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. Photo: Hunter Berry / CMA

CMA Foundation Presents Grant To The Quest Center During Charlie Worsham’s Fan Club Party

In celebration of the generosity of country artists and the fans who support CMA Music Festival, the CMA Foundation presented The Quest Center for Art & Community Development a $10,000 grant yesterday (June 14) during Charlie Worsham’s fan club party in Nashville.
Worsham is a longtime supporter of The Quest Center, a music education and resource center located in Dickson, Tenn., a largely rural community with limited access to music programs. The Center makes music education accessible to all members of the community, including individuals with special needs. The CMA Foundation is funding afterschool and out-of-school instructional classes and music discovery workshops in partnership with the Dickson County Board of Education and The Arc Dickson County.
The “Music Education Matters” grant brings CMA’s total contributions to local and national music education programs since 2006 to more than $11 million.
“If it weren’t for our artists, who all perform for free during CMA Music Festival, and the thousands of fans who support the event each year, these donations would not be possible,” said Ron Samuels, Chairman of the CMA Foundation Board of Directors. “The CMA Foundation donates to causes that are important to our community, but every dollar is given on behalf of the artists and fans that support Music Fest.”
cma donates to quest center charlie worsham
(L-R) Mark Noel, AMP Entertainment; Ron Samuels, CMA Foundation Board Chairman; Charlie Worsham; Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer; Mark Lutz, Co-founder and CEO The Quest Center for Art & Community Development; and Tiffany Kerns, CMA Community Outreach Manager. Photo: Donn Jones / CMA

MUSICROW MAGAZINE: CMA Fest Pics: Carrie Underwood, Brett Eldredge, Trisha Yearwood, Eli Young Band


• June 15, 2015 •

Carrie Underwood’s Saturday Night LP Field Performance at CMA Music Fest

Carrie Underwood at CMA Music Festival
Pictured (L-R): Alaina Vehec, Director, Digital Sales, Sony Music Nashville; Damon Whiteside, Senior VP, Marketing and Partnerships, CMA; Caryl Healey, VP, Sales, Sony Music Nashville; Carrie; Paul Barnabee, Senior VP, Marketing, Sony Music Nashville; Mike Craft, Senior VP, Finance and Operations, Sony Music Nashville; and Taylor Lindsay, Director, A&R, Sony Music Nashville. Photo: Kayla Schoen

CMA New Artist of the Year Brett Eldredge Plays LP Field for First Time during the CMA Music Festival

brett eldredge MusicFestLPField15.06.13
(L-R): Rob Baker, Longshot Management; Warner Music Nashville President & CEO John Esposito; Robert Deaton, “CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock” Executive Producer; Eldredge and WMN EVP and General Manager Peter Strickland

Trisha Yearwood Signs Autographs at the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum on Saturday

Trisha Yearwood
Photo: Bev Moser

Eli Young Band Meet and Greet at Fan Fair X

CMA Music Fest   Moments By Moser 61
Photo: Bev Moser

Share this story:

MUSICROW MAGAZINE: Bobby Karl Closes Out CMA Music Fest 2015


• June 15, 2015 • 
 
 
Pictured here, left to right, prior to Brad Paisley's Sunday evening LP Field performance at CMA Music Fest, are: Taylor Lindsay, Director, A&R, Sony Music Nashville; Mike Craft, Senior VP, Finance and Operations, Sony Music Nashville; Sarah Trahern, CEO, CMA; Brad; Bill Simmons, Fitzgerald-Hartley Management; Lesly Simon, VP, Promotion, Arista Nashville; and, Damon Whiteside, Senior VP, Marketing and Partnerships, CMA. Photo: Dusty Draper
Pictured prior to Brad Paisley’s Sunday evening LP Field performance (L-R): Taylor Lindsay, Director, A&R, Sony Music Nashville; Mike Craft, Senior VP, Finance and Operations, Sony Music Nashville; Sarah Trahern, CEO, CMA; Brad; Bill Simmons, Fitzgerald-Hartley Management; Lesly Simon, VP, Promotion, Arista Nashville; and, Damon Whiteside, Senior VP, Marketing and Partnerships, CMA. Photo: Dusty Draper
Chapter 495
For me, the last day of the annual CMA Music Festival is always touched with a tinge of tristesse—it’s kinda sad that the circus is leaving town.
But it was so unmercifully hot and humid on Sunday (June 14) that I couldn’t feel anything except exhaustion. The heat index was 96 degrees, the highest of the week-long country celebration. Seriously. It was so hot you could feel the fiery concrete through the soles of your shoes.
As a whole, this year’s festival witnessed more folks—825—being treated for heat-related issues than ever before. This is twice the number of last year. On Sunday afternoon, alone, 299 succumbed.
For me, it wasn’t just the heat. When I woke up on Sunday, every bone in my body ached from the week’s relentless pace and long hours. But we rallied to hit the streets for a final afternoon’s stroll through the festival campus.
While strolling, I spotted my first traditional-looking Islamic festival goer. This woman was dressed with her hair and limbs completely covered, despite the temperature. She had her daughter in tow. For all I know, she was a Nashvillian. But this brings up the fact that people from 20 nations registered, as well as fans from all 50 states.
According to CMA’s Sarah Trahern, this year’s festival set another attendance record with a daily footprint of 87,680. That is up 9.6 percent from last year. Sales of tickets to the exhibit hall in the Music City Center were up 26 percent.
Atlantic Records artist Michael Ray brought his Top 15 and climbing debut single, “Kiss You In The Morning,” to sunbathed crowd at the CMA Music Festival. Following his performance yesterday on the Bud Light Stage at Bridgestone Arena, Ray visited with fans, friends and family. Photo from left to right – Scott Hendricks, Ray’s producer and EVP A&R Warner Music Nashville; Ray and Rebekah Gordon, Director A&R, WMN
Atlantic Records artist Michael Ray brought his Top 15 and climbing debut single, “Kiss You In The Morning,” to sunbathed crowd at the CMA Music Festival. Following his performance yesterday on the Bud Light Stage at Bridgestone Arena, Ray visited with fans, friends and family. (L-R): Scott Hendricks, Ray’s producer and EVP A&R Warner Music Nashville; Ray and Rebekah Gordon, Director A&R, WMN
Despite the blazing heat, thousands gathered to live it up with Riverfront’s all-star lineup, including Lonestar, Thompson Square, Phil Vassar and Diamond Rio. Not surprisingly, a sizable flotilla of boats full of fans bobbed behind the stage on the Cumberland.
Other acts booked to sing and swelter on outdoor Sunday stages included The Grascals, Keith Anderson, The Marshall Tucker Band, Tate Stevens, Striking Matches and The Steeldrivers. “Stick a fork in me, I am well done,” quipped Channel 4’s overheated Jimmy Carter as the afternoon wore on.
At the Hard Rock (officially called the Gildan Broadway Stage at The Hard Rock CafĂ©), Drew Baldridge turned in a rocking, zesty set. Then he went behind the stage and signed autographs for surprised and delighted fans on 1st Ave. N.
Closing down the blessedly air-conditioned Music City Center were the fest’s final autographers, including Jo Dee Messina, Ken Mellons and Jamie O’Neal. Obviously, Chip Esten drew a huge crowd. But you know who else did? Buddy Jewell. So there.
Bringing the Fan Fair X portion of the fest to a close were such performers as Wade Hayes, Sweethearts of the Rodeo, John Berry, Ray Scott, Dustin Lynch and George Ducas. By mid-afternoon, many were already taking down their booths there. See what I mean about the last day seeming kind of sad?
Keith Urban backstage at LP Field. Photo: Bev Moser
Keith Urban backstage at LP Field. Photo: Bev Moser
If anything was guaranteed to chase the blues away, it was the lineup at LP Field that night. People like Eric Church, Keith Urban and Brad Paisley can always lift my spirits and remind me of why I love country music. Evidently, this works on the fans, too. They were definitely up for one more party. All three of these stars, by the way, flew in especially to perform for the fans at this “SuperBowl of Country Music.”
As we arrived, Charlie Worsham was feverishly rocking the BMI Tailgate Party. His shouted vocals, ripping guitar work and jumping stage presence enthralled all.
After Lee Greenwood did an instrumental version of “The Star Spangled Banner” on his sopranino saxophone, the first two finale concert performers couldn’t have been more different.
First up, Neal McCoy was performing at his 28th CMA fest. This master entertainer did hits as well as “The Beverly Hillbillies Theme” in hip-hop style, incorporating “The Banana Boat Song” (I kid you not). “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” led into “Wink.” Hey, he’s a showman.
Second came Cole Swindell, performing at LP Field for the first time. Looking and moving like a hologram of Luke Bryan, he played star-making hits such as “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight” and “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey.” The crowd’s enthusiastic reception recalled the one given to fellow first timer Brett Eldredge the previous night.
Mellow Darius Rucker proved why he is so widely liked. As you might imagine, all 50,000 fans sang along to “Wagon Wheel.”
And then the three superstars brought the 2015 CMA Music Festival to a close. Celebratory fireworks lit up the downtown skyline at midnight.
Seeing the fest’s finale were Sally Williams, Jody Williams, Billy Dawson, Charlie Cook, Charles Dorris, Joanne Berry, Victoria Shaw and Dennis Banka. A “summit meeting” of the “brain trust” of festival regulars featured Jeff Walker, David Ross, Pat Higdon and Dale Bobo.
I did not join them. The meeting I need is a massage.
Darius Rucker visits media backstage at LP Field. Photo: Bev Moser
Darius Rucker visits media backstage at LP Field. Photo: Bev Moser

MUSICROW MAGAZINE: Bobby Karl Works CMA Fest: SunTrust HOT Dog Day, Fan Fair X, LP Field


• June 12, 2015 • 
 
Elektra Records artist Jana Kramer helped kick off CMA Music Festival on Thursday with a performance at the Bud Light Stage where she performed her new single "I Got The Boy." After the show, Jana met backstage with Warner Music Nashville President & CEO, John Esposito, Kramer, WMN EVP of A&R, Scott Hendricks and manager Greg Hill.
Elektra Records artist Jana Kramer helped kick off CMA Music Festival on Thursday at the Bud Light Stage where she performed new single “I Got The Boy.” After the show, she met backstage with (L-R): Warner Music Nashville President & CEO John Esposito, Kramer, WMN EVP of A&R Scott Hendricks, and manager Greg Hill.
Chapter 492
Despite the endless walking, walking, walking downtown, I never lose weight at the CMA Music Festival.
Do you think it might have something to do with my all-weenie lunch diet? That’s right, for the third straight day, I chowed down on hot dogs. That’s more than I normally eat in a year.
On Thursday (June 11), the reason was the 17th annual Hot Dog Day, presented on Music Row by SunTrust Bank and the Country Music Hall of Fame. A large tent full of tables and chairs was erected on the bank’s parking lot. There were air-circulating fans, but there was no getting away from the scorching temperature.
SunTrust Sports & Entertainment Staff at the company's 17th Annual Hot Dog Day.
SunTrust Sports & Entertainment staff at the company’s 17th Annual Hot Dog Day.
I felt sorry for weenie chef Earle Simmons, who was turning pink behind the blazing frankfurter cooker. That is, until I got a load of poor Andrew Kintz sweltering in a full-length, polyester hot-dog costume. He was on stage, greeting everyone and introducing the music being made by such Warner-Chappell writers as Lance Miller and Derek George.
Pat Higdon, Linda Edell-Howard, Bobby Rymer, Doak Turner, Ben Vaughn, Jim Zumwalt, Sherrill Blackman, Bill Stevens, Becky Harris and Leslie Roberts were working the room. MusicRow staged a triple attack with Sherod Robertson, Eric Parker and Troy Stephenson all on the scene.
Tatum Hauck Allsep was manning her informative Music Health Alliance booth at the rear of the tent. Randi Perkins now has a perfect attendance record for showing up at key events on all four days of the week thus far.
After that simmering, sizzling event, air conditioning sounded pretty good. So I headed for the Music City Center for the first day of Fan Fair X. This is the portion of the CMA fest about promotional booths and indoor stages. As I entered, Katie Ohh was dong her original songs on the AT&T U-Verse Stage. The Swon Brothers were meeting and greeting in the Belk Lounge. Jeannie Seely was emoting on the Durango Music Spot Stage.
Ashton Shepherd performs. Photo: Bev Moser
Ashton Shepherd performs. Photo: Bev Moser
Are you seeing the trend of brand placement here? In days of yore, the booths were mainly put together by stars’ fan clubs. Now just about every place in the exhibit hall is occupied by someone trying to sell you something.
The hall also suggests that there are now several different CMA Music Festivals going on. Inside the Music City Center are the older, fatter and more infirm fans. Down at Riverfront and on the streets of Lower Broadway are hard-partying young people. In the evening at LP Field, the ticket holders appear to be fresh and unsullied by the afternoon heat. I suspect that their agenda features more conventional tourist activities during the day with the night concerts serving as their only attachment to the fest.
Autographing at the Music City Center for that first festival sub-audience were Kayla Adams, Ashton Shepherd, Chase Tyler, Branch & Dean, The Kentucky HeadHunters, The Springs, Florida Georgia Line, Gwen Sebastian, Ali Dee, Dustin Craig, Ray Scott, Little Big Town, Macy Martin, Chris Young and Hannah Belle. Troupers Lynn Anderson, The Oak Ridge Boys and Bill Anderson maintained their nearly perfect records of having shown up at almost all of the 43 CMA Music Festival/Fan Fair celebrations.
Over on the Close-Up Stage, Aaron Tippin was telling stories behind such hits as “Kiss This” and singing them splendidly. Wife Thea Tippin and son Teddy sang backup and interjected their own witticisms. “Kiss This” co-writer Philip Douglas was in the audience, by the way.
Jordyn Stoddard performs. Photo: Bev Moser
Jordyn Stoddard performs. Photo: Bev Moser
Lee Roy Parnell took over from Seely on the Durango stage. Carissa Leigh warbled with an acoustic trio at the AT&T U-Verse spot. I headed back out into the heat.
After a saunter through the Country Music Hall of Fame’s shops, I hit the Belk Stage in the Walkway of Stars park. By this point, I felt the weather was amost unbearable.
The medics confirmed this. They had their busiest opening day in fest history, treating more than 100 people for heat-related issues and sending nine to the hospital.
On stage was Lucas Hoge, who has just returned from entertaining our troops in the Middle East. “You think it’s hot here?” he asked the crowd. “Over there, it’s 110 in the shade.” Forget I ever complained.
And just think of how hot it is for all of those hippies at Bonnaroo, which kicked off its music at 5:30 on Thursday. More than 80,000 are expected at the site near Manchester, Tenn.
Among my personal favorites booked at the CMA Fest that afternoon were Ashley Monroe, Dan + Shay, Drake White & The Big Fire, Exile, Rose Falcon & The Van Lears, Teea Goans, Eric Paslay, Kristian Bush and Kip Moore.
UMGN's Cindy Mabe and Tom Becci honor Alan Jackson's 25 years in music backstage at LP Field.
UMGN’s Cindy Mabe and Tom Becci honor Alan Jackson’s 25 years in music backstage at LP Field. Photo: Bev Moser
Next we hit the Don Henley listening party (more on that here and the full review here), and it would have been lovely to stay and bask in that atmosphere, but duty called.
We arrived back at the CMA fest just in time to catch Alan Jackson’s opening set at LP Field. After performing a spirited “Good Time,” he thanked the fans for his 25 years in the biz. This was the perfect segue into the poignant “Here in the Real World,” the song that kicked off his amazing hit string in 1990.
He also sang a bit of “Pop A Top,” the 1967 Jim Ed Brown hit that Jackson revived in 1999. Grand Ole Opry great Brown, who is among this year’s Country Music Hall of Fame inductees, died of cancer on Thursday. “We’re going to miss you, Jim Ed Brown,” said Jackson. “God bless you.”
Dierks Bentley at LP Field. Photo: Bev Moser
Dierks Bentley at LP Field. Photo: Bev Moser
If the fans didn’t know who Sam Hunt was when he took the stage, they did when he left it, still vibrating from his turn in the spotlight. Rascal Flatts sang hit after hit – “Riot,” “Bless the Broken Road,” “Banjo” and the like – to the crowd’s delight. Dierks Bentley, Florida Geogia Line and Jason Aldean rocked the stadium into the night.
Working the VIP Lounge were such dignitaries as Troy Tomlinson, Brandi Simms, Ron Stuve, Joanne Berry, Dennis Banka, David & Susana Ross, Randall Himes, Hank Adam Locklin, Aaron Hartley, Tim McFadden, Bill Wence, Karen Tallier, Frank Myers, Rudy Gatlin (The Gatlin Brothers sang the national anthem to christen the evening).
Plus Frank Bumstead, Mayor Karl Dean & Anne Davis, Steve Lassiter, Ron Cox, Anthony Martin, Charles Dorris, Dan Eckbaak, Melissa Maynard, Moore & Moore, Jeff Walker, Jeff Stevens, Paul Barnabee and Paul Zamick.
British music manager Peter Conway was experiencing his first visit to Nashville. “You picked the perfect week,” I said.
Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley and wife, Brittney Kelley, presented their "bohemian chic" Tribe Kelley collection of clothes and accessories Thursday at a pop-up shop inside the Lucchese Bootmaker store in Nashville’s trendy Gulch neighborhood.    Tyler Hubbard, the other half of the Florida Georgia Line super-duo, showed his support by attending the lively event with fiancĂ© Hayley Stommel.   Brian wore never-before-seen pieces he designed from the upcoming Tribe Kelley men’s collection, out later this month, and handmade Lucchese eastern diamond rattle snake boots. Brittney wore her Tribe Kelley designs with handmade Lucchese sable python booties. Photo:  Ed Rode
Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley and wife Brittney presented their “bohemian chic” Tribe Kelley collection of clothes and accessories Thursday at a pop-up shop inside the Lucchese Bootmaker store in Nashville. Brian wore pieces he designed from the upcoming Tribe Kelley men’s collection, out later this month, and handmade Lucchese eastern diamond rattle snake boots. Brittney wore Tribe Kelley designs with handmade Lucchese sable python booties. Photo: Ed Rode

MUSICROW MAGAZINE: Bobby Karl Works The Celebrity Softball Game And Saturday Night at LP Field


• June 15, 2015 • 
 
 
Photo: Bev Moser
City of Hope Celebrity Softball game. Photo: Bev Moser
Chapter 494
CITY OF HOPE CELEBRITY SOFTBALL GAME
Saturday’s CMA Music Fest had it all: sports antics, extreme eating, a two-ton trophy, a Gold Record, you name it.
To begin the day, there were two good reasons to attend the annual City of Hope Celebrity Softball Game this year. It was the 25th anniversary of this fun-filled, fan-favorite  charity event. Plus, it was being held at the new First Tennessee Park, the just-completed home of our Nashville Sounds baseball team.
Ideal reasons, right? Then Cindy Hunt told me that the call time for the event was 7:15 a.m. What? But a promise is a promise, so I dragged myself out of bed on a Saturday morning (June 13) at the crack of dawn.
“It’s a great day for baseball,” as the late Ernie Banks used to say. The temperature was balmy. A breeze was blowing. The sun was shining. More fans than ever filled the stands.
“We have a great day for a great cause; we’ve sold more tickets than ever: I think it’s a wonderful thing,” said smiling Bucky Covington. “I feel like a winner: Team Opry, come on,” crowed J.T. Hodges. Team Opry, coached by Pete Fisher, is the usual winner of the contest. The opposing squad was Team iHeart, headed by Bobby Bones. “They always win because they always cheat,” groused Bones. “I played baseball in college, and I’m super competitive,” he added.
Vince Gill, who was pitching for Team Opry, had the opposite attitude. “I’m not competitive like I used to be,” he said. “I’m a new man. When I pitch, I want the player to get a hit.”
Also playing ball on Team Opry were Covington, Hodges, Aaron Watson, Charles Esten, Deana Carter, Phil Vassar and former Miss America Rachel Smith. In addition to Bones, Team iHeart’s roster included Eddie & Lunchbox, Lauren Alaina, Doug McCormick and Lindsay Ell, sporting full makeup and false eyelashes, no less.
Personable player SaraBeth was the StageIt winner this year. “You do a home-based concert online,” she explained. “And people click to contribute [to City of Hope]. I raised $4,000, and it was easy.” A lot of her fan base has been built via social media, she added.
I thought it was cute that the Love & Theft members were placed on opposing teams. Stephen Barker Liles played for Team iHeart, while Eric Gunderson was on Team Opry. The same was supposed to be true for the married Karen Fairchild and Jimi Westbrook, but Little Big Town cancelled. I suspect it’s because they were too busy with their hosting duties for the ABC-TV special that’s being made about the fest.
Team iHeart member Angie Johnson, the artist who is a former Voice competitor and a U.S. Air Force vet, sang the national anthem. Which is no easy task at that hour in the a.m.
Another pre-game event involved her fellow player, Nashville native Stephen Bess. He spoke to the crowd about his leukemia and the lifesaving treatment he received at City of Hope. He said, “I think I cried myself to sleep every night,” waiting for a stem-cell donor who was a genetic match. The donor, Jonas Baade, was found in Germany. The two men met for the first time at the game. They enfolded one another in a bear hug on the pitcher’s mound while the crowd cheered.
“This is why we’re all here today,” said co-host Cody Alan. By the way, Bess is the step-grandson of Hattie Louise “Tootsie” Bess, the founder of Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.
Alan’s play-by-play with co-host Lorianne Crook didn’t have much excitement for the first three scoreless innings. After that, the underdog iHeart team took a commanding lead. Then slugger Chuck Wicks batted Team Opry into the lead. Team iHeart rallied and made it a 5-5 tie game. Then Bret Michaels of Poison drove in the winning run for Team iHeart. Crossing home plate as the winning runner was, appropriately, Jonas Baade.
As usual, there were plenty of hi-jinks. Many of them were provided by Booster the Rooster, the Sounds mascot, or by Gnash, the Predators mascot.
The game raised $200,000 for City of Hope. Another plus: Some of the fans signed up to become bone-marrow donors.
Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a pioneer in bone-marrow transplantation and genetic research to combat cancer and other diseases. Its main hospital is northeast of L.A. in Duarte, CA.
After we did our duties on the red carpet, we made our way to the park’s boxes on the upper deck. Hallelujah: scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits, sausage and life-saving coffee awaited.
First Tennessee Park has flawless turf, spacious dugouts, comfortable spectator seats and excellent sight lines, as well as a groovy V.I.P. area. Instead of routine junk food, it offers Pepperfire Hot Chicken, Smokehouse Barbecue and soft-serve ice cream. There is even a real restaurant beyond the right-field wall.
Hacks and flacks were out in abundance. Kay West, Katherine Cook, Terry Bumgarner, Craig Campbell, omnipresent GettyImages photographer Rick Diamond, Susan Niles, Chuck Dauphin, Jaclyn Carter, Allison Auerbach and Jackie Marushka all worked the gig.
By the time the game ended around noon, and everyone headed downtown, the heat was at microwave levels. Nevertheless plucky stars like The Swon Brothers, Mandy Barnett, Tanya Tucker and Chris Janson signed up to perform. Even warmer were the red-clad Rebel Stomp dance troupe, who pranced tirelessly during the J.T. Hodges performance.
By mid Saturday afternoon, downtown was wall-to-wall people. It got more than a little claustrophobic. As the Riverftont Stage crowd swelled beyond capacity, the CMA took the unprecedented step of closing off admission.
Lucky T. Graham Brown, David Ball and Mark Wills were among those scoring air-conditioned indoor gigs at Fan Fair X. Also indoors were Trisha Yearwood and Will Hoge. They signed autographs in the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Saturday afternoon also featured the Nathan’s hot dog competive eating contest. The winner swallowed 33 of them in 10 minutes, which qualified him for the national championships on July 4 in—where else?—Coney Island, NY. That does it: No more weenies for me, fest or no fest.
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 13: (L-R) Charles Esten, Deana Carter and Bucky Covington showed of their softball skills for charity at City of Hope's 25th Annual Celebrity Softball Game at the new First Tennessee Park during CMA Music Festival in Nashville.  (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for City Of Hope) *** Local Caption *** Charles Esten, Deana Carter, Bucky Covington
(L-R): Charles Esten, Deana Carter and Bucky Covington showed of their softball skills for charity at City of Hope’s 25th Annual Celebrity Softball Game at the new First Tennessee Park during CMA Music Festival in Nashville. Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images for City Of Hope
SATURDAY NIGHT AT LP FIELD
Little Big Town LP Press CMA Music Festival 2015
Little Big Town at LP Field at CMA Music Festival 2015. Photo: Bev Moser
As we headed for LP Field that evening (June 13), we caught part of a fine set by pop-country stylist Chris Lane at the BMI Tailgate Party outside the venue. Kellie Pickler sang “The Star Spangled Banner” to christen the nightly stadium concert. The 2013 Dancing with the Stars champion has her own home-furnishings line and will star in a CMT reality-TV series this fall.
The honchos of Operation Troop Aid addressed the crowd. The organization has sent $7 million in CARE packages to overseas troops. It also gives out an annual Patriot Award. Past winners have included The Charlie Daniels Band, Hank Williams Jr., Darryl Worley, Kid Rock, Kiss, Aaron Tippin, Mark Wills, Gary Sinese and Toby Keith. The honor goes to “an entertainer who goes above and beyond in support of our troops.”
The award was renamed this year to honor the late American Sniper Navy Seal Chris Kyle. Parents Wayne and Deby Kyle, who were celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary that day, made the presentation. “Don’t ever, ever forget that we have boots on the ground,” said Wayne. “We have to support them in every way. We try to cover the troops who come home and try to adjust to civilian life.”
Carrie Underwood. Photo: Bev Moser
Carrie Underwood. Photo: Bev Moser
In recognition of her eight tours of service overseas and countless visits to veterans’ hospitals, Kellie Pickler became the first woman to win the honor. It is a massive, yard-high metal trophy topped by an eagle. “I should have worked out,” quipped Pickler as she lifted it. “Oh my goodness. God bless you. I’m so honored,” she continued, getting weepy. Remember: “If you don’t stand behind every service man and woman in the military, please feel free to stand in front of them.”
Wynonna & The Big Noise kicked off the concert. “I’m a proud woman in country music, and I’ve been doing this for 30 years, thanks to you,” she told the audience. With bluesy rearrangements of Judds and solo hits, she turned in a highly aggressive set. Husband Cactus Moser sang backup and rocked out on the drum kit.
Chris Young came out guns blazing on “Aw Naw.” “I’ve been coming to CMA Fest since I was a little, bitty kid,” said the Murfreesboro native. “It’s so cool that you’re here.” He added that he’d been given a Gold Album backstage, “which is hard to do these days.” For his finale, he tore into the stone-country ballad “Tomorrow.” The crowd went nuts, rewarding him with a long, loud standing ovation. This was Young’s second appearance on the fest’s mains stage. It will not be his last.
At this point, more and more people were streaming into the stadium. While Thomas Rhett entertained, they headed for their seats in time to catch the headliners, starting with new-to-LP-Field Brett Eldredge. “It’s very surreal…that people know my name,” said the freshly minted star. The sensational Little Big Town was next, followed by superstar Carrie Underwood.
“I feel like I’m in a really good place,” said new mom Underwood, who was celebrating her 10th anniversary at the fest. “I don’t know what to expect for the next 10 years. As long as I enjoy what I’m doing, I consider that winning.”
V.I.P. schmoozers in attendance included Mark Bright, Allen Brown, Michelle Myers, Karen Tollier, Sirius XM’s John Marks, Forrest Sanders, Bob DiPiero & Leslie Tomasina DiPiero, Paul Barnabee and Victoria Shaw. The indefatigable Jeff Walker was again on the scene. He attended his first Fan Fair in Municipal Auditorium in 1977, and is still going strong.
Kellie Picker. Photo: Bev Moser
Kellie Picker. Photo: Bev Moser

MUSICROW MAGAZINE: Bobby Karl Works Music Fest: Concert For Love And Acceptance, Friday Night at LP Field


• June 15, 2015 • 
 
Ty Herndon and family at the Concert For Love and Acceptance at City Winery.
Ty Herndon and family at the Concert For Love and Acceptance at City Winery. Photo: Herndon’s Facebook page
Chapter 493
Friday at the CMA Music Festival (June 12) was a rainbow of activities.
In the morning, superstar Luke Bryan staged his fan-club party at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Which was totally appropriate, since he has a brand-new “Dirt Road Diary” exhibit in the museum. The 700 attendees got free passes to see it. Bryan also favored them with a stripped-down, acoustic concert of hits.
Romping on various stages around the festival campus were Charles Esten, Lorrie Morgan, Eric Paslay, Brothers Osborne, Deana Carter, The Cleverlys, Randy Montana, Rhett Akins, Paulette Carlson, Doug Stone, Angaleena Presley and Lauren Alaina.
Broadway belter Laura Bell Bundy was everywhere on Friday. The Kentucky-born Bundy sang in Hall of Fame Park, autographed at Fan Fair X in the Music City Center and even appeared on the 6:00 o’clock news on Channel 4. Yes, she released a new country album, too. Dennis Banka calls it her “Popeye” record, I Am What I Am.
“Trailer Hitch” singer Kristian Bush was determined to make the best of his day at the fest as well. He appeared on stages, at autograph sessions and in an afternoon Opry panel discussion. His witty fellow panelist Jeannie Seely wore a “Tomato” t-shirt, by the way. She was among many female performers sassing country radio’s deliberate exclusion of women from playlists.
A mid-day shower cancelled or postponed some activiities, but didn’t dampen anyone’s enthusiasm. It also didn’t lessen the humidity.
Perhaps the most newsworthy event of the day was the multi-artist “Concert for Love and Acceptance” at City Winery. This was the first gay celebrity event ever scheduled during the week of country hoopla.
With the Supreme Court set to rule on gay marriage this month, Catholic Ireland becoming the unlikely first nation to legalize it via a popular vote, the publication of an LGBT issue of Entertainment Weekly and the Caitlyn Jenner transgender media frenzy, the concert was certainly timely. Still, it was a gutsy move for the generally conservative country community.
“We are making history today,” said participant Deborah Allen. “In Tennessee, things are slowly changing,” added Jamie O’Neal.
“I’m proud to be here today,” said Billy Gilman, who came out as gay last November. “This is the first time I’ve come to Nashville that I’m totally me.” He added that it was not planned that Ty Herndon came out on the same day that he did.
“Ten years ago, I couldn’t imagine myself standing here,” said Jennifer Knapp, who came out as a Christian-music artist in 2010. “I’m excited that Nashville is becoming LGBT friendly,” said Meghan Linsey, who competed so memorably on The Voice this year. “Nashville is becoming an increasingly diverse city,” agreed Mayor Karl Dean. “We continue to make great strides. We’re all in this together.”
Chris Carmack, who portrays gay artist “Will Lexington” on the Nashville TV show and is releasing “Being Alone” as his debut country single, added his support. So did Crystal Gayle, Melinda Doolittle, Shelly Fairchild, Tiffany, Sarah Potenza (another Voice competitor), Stella Parton, Stephanie Quayle, Levi Hummon and more. Supportive video greetings were screened during the three-hour concert from Reba McEntire, Lance Bass and Chely Wright.
Herndon, who co-hosted with Meghan McCain, received a standing ovation from the capacity crowd when he first took the stage. “I am here to tell you from the bottom of my heart, I have never in my life…” said Herndon, pausing to choke back tears, “…felt more love and acceptance.”
“He’s a very courageous man to come out [in country music],” commented superstar songwriter Desmond Child. “I spent years when I was an artist hiding my sexuality, and it hurt me….I think people are coming to their senses. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
“I’m looking forward to the next 10 years, seeing this event grow and seeing the country-music community grow in supporting the LGBT community,” added Herndon. The show was a sell-out, filling the venue with more than 400 fans.
FRIDAY NIGHT AT LP FIELD
Lady A backstage at LP Field on Friday. Photo: Bev Moser
Lady A backstage at LP Field on Friday. Photo: Bev Moser
We headed back to the mainstream action at CMA Music Festival. That evening, we arrived at LP Field in time to hear a stirring version of “The Star Spangled Banner” by Restless Heart.
The Oak Ridge Boys are celebrating a new Rock of Ages gospel CD, the publication of the book On the Road with The Oak Ridge Boys and their 2015 election as members of the Country Music Hall of Fame. They rolled through renditions of their hits for the crowd.
“We’ve lost a great artist, our fellow inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame,” said the group’s tenor Joe Bonsall.Jim Ed Brown died on Thursday. If you’re still in town Monday, come by the Ryman [for Brown’s memorial service]. We’re gonna sing. Lady A’s gonna sing, for a great country-music artist.”
In the middle of “Elvira,” the Oaks suddenly stopped. The group brought out surprise guests Little Big Town, who have worked up a blues arrangement of the song. Both quartets sang it, which sounded pretty dang cool.
The Band Perry came out bouncing and dancing. They unleashed a highly energetic set, punctuated with ‘80s pop funk. “This is always our favorite night of the whole year,” said lead singer Kimberly Perry, “seeing your beautiful faces under a beautiful Nashville sky.”
Luke Bryan visits media at LP Field. Photo: Bev Moser
Luke Bryan visits media at LP Field. Photo: Bev Moser
In just a few short months, the showmanship of youngsters Maddie & Tae has improved dramatically. The duo was charming. Earlier in the day, the gals joined Kelsea Ballerini and Hunter Hayes in announcing the launch of Radio Disney Country, a new radio outlet that will commence during CMA Week this fall.
The fun was only beginning. As the night continued, the hits of Randy Houser, The Zac Brown Band and Lady Antebellum poured forth. During his performance, Luke Bryan got a jolt when he got too close to one of his stage effects. A CO2 smoke blaster erupted between his legs and into his face, with no damage done except to his dignity. Bryan began the day singing for 700 and ended it by singing for 50,000.
This sun-up to sundown schedule of the artists is matched by many in the industry. In short, this is not a week for sleeping.
Throughout Friday, I encountered such tireless festival folks as Jon Freeman, Cindy Watts, Ed Morris, Christy Watkins, Michelle Myers, Suzanne Gordon, George Walker IV, Brett Wolcott, Dale Bobo, Greg Hill, Tracy Kornet, Larry McCormick, Jimmy Carter, Bill Denny, Chuck Dauphin, Adam Tamburin and The Boston Globe’s visiting Sarah Rodman.
Friday festival returning appearances were staged by such folks as Jeff Walker, David & Susana Ross, Paul Zamek (spelled correctly this time), Aaron Hartley, Melissa Maynard, Karen Tallier, Brandi Simms and Butch Spyridon, all of whom have been mentioned as faithful followers on one or more earlier days of the 2015 fest. So hooray for them.
On the Bobby Karl hot-dog monitor, for the first time this week, I did not have a weenie for lunch on Friday. So I made up for it by having one for dinner.
Maddie & Tae  LP Press CMA 2015
Maddie & Tae backstage at LP Field on Friday. Photo: Bev Moser

MusicRow Magazine: Bobby Karl Works CMA Fest: Chris Young Party, Riverfront Concerts

• June 11, 2015 • 
Clay Walker's Sixth Annual Chords of Hope Benefit Concert took place last night, June 10, at 3rd & Lindsley, to raise money for the Vanderbilt MS Center.
Among the events surrounding CMA Fest is Clay Walker’s annual Chords of Hope Benefit concert, which took place last night, June 10, at 3rd & Lindsley, to raise money for the Vanderbilt MS Center.
Photos: Bev Moser

Chapter 491
CHRIS YOUNG HOSTS FANS AT THE OPRY HOUSE
The CMA festival is a boat-load of fun, but you’ll put in some seriously long hours trying to take it all in.
On Wednesday (6/10), I began my day early, at the morning Chris Young fan-club gathering. More than 16 hours later, the post-CMT Awards events could keep you rocking into the night, if you let them.
Fan-club celebrations take place at just about every venue in Music City. Copying Carrie Underwood’s event for her faithful followers on Tuesday, Chris brought his fans to the Opry House.
“It’ll be hard to top this,” he told the attendees about the location. Chris probably could have filled the place, but he limited the crowd to 500. I’m told that’s how many he can meet and greet in two hours. Really? I’m impressed.
Before the party started, we gabbed with Cindy Hunt, Cindy Watts, Jim Catino, proud mama and Music Row businesswoman Becky Harris, George Walker IV, Tori Mason and Chris’s grandpa Richard Yates. Richard was a major influence, since he was a picker and singer who performed on The Louisiana Hayride and palled around with such stars as Marty Robbins. I loved listening to his stories.
Chris bantered with his band and chatted easily with the fans as he ran through a set that included a jaw-dropping, a capella rendition of the 1963 Marty Robbins classic “Begging to You.” Thanks to his grandfather, he’s known it all his life.
More surprising was a flawless interpretation of the 1962 Tony Bennett pop immortal “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” performed with simple piano accompaniment. Counterbalancing that was a sublimely country reading of Keith Whitley’s 1988 chart topper “When You Say Nothing At All.” Fear not, Chris also gave the fans “Getting’ You Home,” “Neon,” “Voices,” “Aw Naw,” “Lonely Eyes” and other hits of his own.
Next, organizers took fans in groups of 50 to get snapshots and autographs with Chris. Robert K. Oermann told Music Row stories to those remaining in the house to keep them engaged while they waited to meet their idol.
As you might expect, Chris’s fan club is dominantly female. During the Q&A session, one woman asked Oermann about radio not playing female artists. It was as if a bomb had been detonated. Suddenly, 400 ladies were loudly speaking out about this: These women are seriously pissed off. I wish every country radio programmer in America had been there. This is a major, major issue with the fans. I was stunned at vehemence of their opinions. They deeply resent radio assuming that they don’t want to hear female voices. I felt thoroughly validated, since I have always thought that to be the case.
 Sam Hunt, RaeLynn and The Shires performed at the Country Weekly Kick-Off Party Powered by NASH in Nashville Tuesday (June 9) night at the Cannery Ballroom. The sold-out event at Cannery Ballroom benefited Musicians On Call. Pictured (L-R): Lisa Konicki (Editor-In-Chief, NASH Country Weekly), Jeff Meltesen (Pubisher, NASH Country Weekly), RaeLynn, Sam Hunt and Pete Griffin (President, Musicians On Call)
Sam Hunt, RaeLynn and The Shires performed at the Country Weekly Kick-Off Party Powered by NASH in Nashville Tuesday (June 9) night at the Cannery Ballroom. The sold-out event benefited Musicians On Call. Pictured (L-R): Lisa Konicki (Editor-In-Chief, NASH Country Weekly), Jeff Meltesen (Pubisher, NASH Country Weekly), RaeLynn, Sam Hunt and Pete Griffin (President, Musicians On Call).
DOWN ON THE RIVERFRONT
Meanwhile, at Pinewood Social, the CMA’s Sarah Trahern was conferring with the Metro Nashville police force. Did you know that she also treats the street cops to a big breakfast the week before the fest to thank them for their tireless overtime work during the week?
Onward we went. We hit the Riverfront Stage downtown just in time to see and hear Canaan Smith be the inaugural artist of the fest. His hearty and soaring set baptised the stage’s all-afternoon show at 12:30 p.m.
The way this series of performances worked is with half-hour sets alternating with 15-minute acoustic segments on a mini-platform in front of the stage. So after Canaan finished, Jason Michelson turned in a soulful, intense set. You have to be a mighty man to take charge of a crowd with just your voice and guitar, and Jason rocked the joint.
Next, Parmalee was boistrous and raucous, with audio effects and a party-hearty attitude. “It’s CMA week: Are you guys ready to get this party started?!” exclaimed lead singer Matt Thomas. “Have a good time! When I say, ‘Good,’ you say, ‘Time.’” They did, and this led into the band’s stomping “Musta Had a Good Time” (which incorporated a snippet of Jason Aldean’s “She’s Country”).
The band concluded its set with its career-launching “Carolina.” This cleared the way for the clever songwriting of Annie Bosko. “You Look Like I Need a Drink” was a charmer. Again, I so admired these acoustic players who had to amuse and arouse the crowd without being up on the main stage.
I took in some of this action during lunch at the George Jones Museum. You see, its restaurant has big open windows that look directly out above the Riverfront stage. I ran into Patrick Clifford and Nancy Jones there, as well as some of the Chris Young fan-club folks.
The menu includes healthy salad fare and “normal” food, but I went with a totally-festival diet by ordering the bacon-wrapped hot dog covered in cheese sauce, plus crinkle-cut french fries. For those of you keeping score, this is my second straight day of weenie for lunch.
The Riverfront Stage rocked on into the afternoon. Among those booked for the fest’s first big show were Clare Dunn, Logan Mize, Blackjack Billy, Dallas Smith, Sundy Best and Old Dominion.
Emily Luxen, Jimmy Carter, Stephanie Langston, Big & Rich, Cowboy Troy, Cole Swindell, Hunter Hayes and The General Jackson showboat glided through.
After the CMT Awards at Bridgestone Arena, the Wildhorse Saloon hosted genial Johhny Lee and David Frizzell, at the “A Night With the Legends” concert. Also booked were Eddy Raven, The Oak Ridge Boys, Mickey Gilley, The Bellamy Brothers, Exile, Larry Gatlin, T. Graham Brown, Lee Greenwood, Larry Stewart, Marty Raybon and Tim Rushlow. So don’t come crying to me about not being able to find classic country sounds at this festival.
Chip Esten at Stars For Second Harvest at The Ryman.
Also surrounding CMA Fest is the Stars For Second Harvest benefit at The Ryman. Pictured (L-R): Chris Carmack and Charles Esten at the show on June 9.