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And that's your festival

Mike Sudhalter  |  June 11, 2007

For four days, I didn't do anything except eat, breathe and sleep country music. The world didn't stop for the CMA Music Festival, but for me it did. I was living in a country music bubble and loving every minute of it.

But after Brad Paisley performed "Alcohol" to close out the festival Sunday night at LP Field, it was kind of bittersweet. I knew that I had one of the best vacations of my life and met people from all over the United States and the world who share my passion for country music. But it was also difficult to think that this event that I'd wanted to attend for a decade is finally over. I think everything in Nashville lived up to its potential except the outdoor concerts at LP Field.

Last year, I'm told, they had two stages and the big name performers did longer sets. With this show, you could go to the refreshment stand for 10 minutes and miss one of the acts. Ironically, that was pretty disappointing. Because the CMA markets the festival with the big stadium shows. It was all of the other stuff that made the trip worth it to me, seeing all of the lesser-known acts and the unheard of performers.

I told my wife the festival was like the movie "Groundhog Day" but in a good way. You wake up every day and know exactly what's going to happen. But you're ready for the fun.

I don't know if I would recommend the festival to the casual country music fan. You have to be pretty dedicated to ignore the heat and the large crowds to enjoy what you came for. I wish they would move the Riverfront Stage to a cooler location because it's so hot down there, but that was really a neat place to take pictures of all the stars.

On Sunday, I saw a few favorites at the Riverfront, including Todd Fritsch, Amy Dalley and Pam Tillis.

The honky-tonks were a big part of the fun, and I could never get tired of hearing the house bands perform music there. You can tell how hard the bands are working just to get that chance of making it big someday. It was also cool to see some of the stars who have made it like Mark Collie, Doug Stone and Daryle Singletary, spending time at the bars on Lower Broadway.

The big show at LP Field was good, but I wish I could have heard more from Miranda Lambert and Kellie Pickler.

I look forward to returning to the festival, and I enjoyed visiting with all my honky-tonk friends. Keepin' it country and Next Year in Nashville!

:: Posted at 10:54 AM by Mike Sudhalter ::
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