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CMA Festival Burnout

Mike Sudhalter  |  June 13, 2009

Brad Paisley played for the CMA Music Festival fans until 2 a.m. Thursday. It will go down as a memorable moment in Festival history

It's a rhetorical question, and it's part of the CMA Music Festival promotion - "Why Sleep?" The obvious reason to skip out on catching zzzzs was because of all the excitement, music and fun at the festival.

I discovered - the hard way - why sleep during this festival is of the utmost importance. My advice to potential CMA Festival attendees is to treat it like a marathon, not a sprint.

I came on this trip with a lot of energy and a cough. I managed to keep the cough in check despite working in a booth in the hot sun for most of the day. The trip was very tiring, especially the fact that I waited out the storm and stayed at LP Field until 2 a.m. Friday morning to see Brad Paisley finish his set.

I stayed up until 4 a.m. working on finishing the concert review and various odds and ends. I didn't feel tired at all on Friday, but it hit me like a freight train on Saturday.

This is a great trip for any country music fan, but to paraphrase Kenny Chesney, who will close the festival Sunday night at LP Field, I feel like I enjoy it more as a memory than the actual experience. I'm leaving on Sunday afternoon for Houston, and I'm so tired that I'll have to skip the Saturday night show as well.

The experience is great, but you know you'll look back with some great pictures and even better memories.

Today, I had the opportunity to enter the Convention Center where every booth possible is pitching some kind of product. That's also where artists sign autographs. It's amazing to me that people wait in long lines for relatively unknown artists. Then, there are massive lines for the A-list artists like Taylor Swift, Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood.

Everybody comes to the festival for different reasons, and I definitely respect that, but I don't understand why someone would go on vacation and wait eight hours in line for an autograph. I'd rather enjoy the music - the up and coming artists - and those playing in the lively honky-tonks and bars along Lower Broadway.

Bryan White fans would have been delighted that his line was surprisingly short.

I came back here after two years, and a lot of things seemed similar. Of course, the Batman Building (AT&T) was BellSouth back then - that was a corporate merger, and Nashville Crossroads got a new sign out front. But you could feel the electricity in the experience of it all, being with people who love country music just as much as you do.

Kid Rock was the surprise guest at Friday night's LP Field concert, and a couple of years ago, I would have said that it's a travesty to have someone who isn't really a country artist perform at the festival.

But Rock did a great show that was the perfect finale to a night of great music that included Jason Aldean, Zac Brown Band, Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Jake Owen and Rodney Atkins.

It's also interesting to see that some artists made the jump from one of the smaller stages (Luke Bryan, Jake Owen) to LP Field and others like Gretchen Wilson went from LP to a smaller stage.

I was impressed with Carter's Chord, but I wish their set would have been longer at the Sonnet Center Stage.

I went on a Duck Tour of Nashville, and that was very enjoyable. We had a very outgoing, humorous (and beautiful) host named Angelique. I learned a lot of facts about Nashville, and it's history and realized the irony in the fact that LP Field (Louisiana Pacific makes building products) is located in a heavily industrial area. We saw the public golf courses that Vince Gill built and got to ride around the Cumberland River.

Thursday night was great, but very, very tiring. Kudos to the fans that stayed and waited it out.

More fun facts from Fan Fair for folks, in the next few days.

:: Posted at 8:05 PM by Mike Sudhalter ::
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