Let me start off by saying that if you decide to head to Nashville next year and participate in some of the festivities of CMAFest week, you can pretty much make your CMAFest experience whatever you want it to be! I will also be one of the first to say that you don't necessarily need an LP Field ticket to be a part of this huge event - there are PLENTY of other happenings, especially if you head to downtown Nashville. Now, on to my 2013 recap!
While this will not be an extensive recap (there is SO MUCH going on in Nashville during CMAFest week it's hard to catch it all!) I will give a brief snippet of the few events that I did get to attend. Please bear with me as this entry may be slightly longer than most of my usual posts.
I started out my 2013 CMAFest experience on Wednesday night by taking in a performance by JD Shelburne at the Music City Bar & Grill. JD played some cover songs and some songs off of his current album. JD Shelburne always plays a rocking show and gives an outstanding performance!
My CMAFest experience continued on Thursday with the Lady Antebellum Fan Club Party held at the W.O. Smith Music School in Nashville. What an AMAZING first fan club party experience! The party started out with a catered dinner from Jack's Bar-B-Que (the BEST barbeque in Nashville!). I am huge fan of anything barbeque - and this dinner lived up to the title of BEST! Shortly after the dinner we all gathered in the auditorium for an intimate concert.
During this very informal concert Hillary, Charles, and Dave played a few songs off of the new album "Golden" before taking questions or song requests from the rest of us. Following their performance, we filed out of the auditorium row-by-row for the Meet & Greet (those with a VIP ticket going first, then the rest of us).
At this point I feel the need to point out that unlike a concert Meet & Greet where you pretty much walk up, say hi, get your photo taken, and head out to the rest of the concert - the fan club party Meet & Greet was slightly more relaxed. Every person at the fan club party got to meet Charles, Dave, and Hillary - and talk with them long enough to have a short conversation before having their photo taken (here I am below with the three of them).
Most of you may be aware that this will be one of the last events Lady Antebellum will be participating in this summer as they take a break while awaiting the arrival of Chris & Hillary's little girl. To Chris & Hillary: praying for the safe arrival of your little girl! We can't wait to meet her!
My CMAFest experience continued on Friday with the Mark Wills Friends Party breakfast at the Country Music Hall of Fame. After a small breakfast of tea, coffee, muffins, pastries, and fruit, we got to enjoy an intimate theater performance followed by a Meet & Greet. While I can't speak for everyone, I'm pretty sure a good time was had by all.
I followed up the fan club party by going through the Country Music Hall of Fame. This was at least my second time through the museum so I pretty much limited my visit to the two main attractions that week: the Patsy Cline exhibit and the Carrie Underwood Blown Away Tour exhibit. Check out some of the pictures below:
After exiting the Country Music Hall of Fame, I headed on up to the AT&T U-Verse Fan Fair X. Even if you didn't have an LP Field ticket you could take in Fan Fair by buying a pass for $10 a day.
Whether you have an arena ticket or not, Fan Fair is a MUST! Immediately upon arriving at Fan Fair you get a tote bag filled with some goodies. One of the items in your "goodie bag" is a must for all CMAFest attendees: the CMAFest Guide (or what I lovingly refer to as the everything-you-need-to-know book for CMAFest!). This small pocket guide is a handy tool with the times of different events, who's playing at the various stages around downtown and when, information about getting autographs, where to park, and more.
Once inside the doors of Fan Fair, you can stock up on country music albums & accessories from your favorite artists, take in some of the free (with your admission to Fan Fair) concerts at the Close Up stage, check out the Fan Fair History Wall, get autographs, and more! This particular year some of the featured events were Lady Antebellum's Ping Pong & Songs tournament and an opportunity to meet the Robertson family from Duck Dynasty. As I said, there is SO MUCH going on that it's hard for me to cover it all!
My final back-to-back concert Friday afternoon was in the basement of B.B. King's Blues Club in downtown Nashville where I got to see Meghan Linsey and James Otto. What an awesome performance! Kudos to the fans that joined me for this experience 'cause from what I could tell we packed the house! I also feel confident in saying that we were NOT disappointed! Both Meghan and James gave AMAZING performances! Whether or not you are familiar with Meghan Linsey (she used to be half of the duo Steel Magnolia), you should take note that she has a solo album coming out soon that you are definitely going to want to get!
Following the concert, fans stood in line to get autographs and photos with both Meghan Linsey and James Otto. It was such a pleasure to meet both Meghan and James. They are both very friendly and down to earth. To James & Meghan - hope to see you both again in the future!
There is so much more that I could share, but as this was pretty much the extent of my CMAFest experience, I will close this entry by saying this: if you are a huge country music fan, it is my recommendation that you try to experience the events of CMAFest at least once. As I mentioned before, you can also make this experience whatever you want it to be. You can choose to try to go to as many events as you can during the week or pick and choose a few that you really have an interest in. Certainly if you are going on a budget, be sure to take in the free concerts at various venues in and around Nashville. That was kind of how I did it and all in all I had an absolute blast! I know CMAFest is already on my calendar for next year - maybe I'll see you there!