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A Country Stroll

Mike Sudhalter  |  June 10, 2007

It's not very uncommon, especially at the CMA Music Festival, to walk nearby a stage and wonder who's performing on it. That happened to me yesterday, and it turned out the artist was Connie Smith. I later saw her on the Grand Ole Opry. Check out my next entry to read about that.

She was singing "Once A Day" as I walked by, and it made me wonder why Smith isn't in the same breath as Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn. She definitely deserves to be. It's probably because she's all about country music, no theme parks or movies about her life. Among country fans, she's right there with all the greats, but unfortunately, many outsiders don't know of her talent.

My walking trip eventually took me to the exhibition hall where I took pictures of stars signing autographs for their fans. It's great to see both the big-time artists and the unknown acts. One thing, however, I don't understand is the way some newcomers charge money to buy publicity shots. These new acts should all be at the festival for one reason, to get their name out to as many people as possible. People will buy for $3-$5, maybe more, to get a publicity shot for Carrie Underwood to sign, but not for acts who haven't signed a record deal yet.

After a quick lunch on Lower Broadway, I headed back to the Riverfront Stage to see a few acts. Unfortunately, I missed Jerrod Niemann, but I did get an opportunity to chat with him about living in Kansas. Linda Davis and Sonny Burgess were impressive, but I wish Davis had sang "Love Story in the Making", my favorite song by her.

The Riverfront is probably one of the best parts of the festival. You can get some great pictures, and the photo line isn't flooded with people the way it is in LP Field. I told my wife the festival is like Groundhog Day, but in a good way. You do the same thing over and over again, but it's so much fun. I know eventually I would get tired of it, but that won't happen before the festival's end. The exhibition hall and the Chevy stage are pretty neat and all of the music at the local honky-tonks on Broadway are an added bonus.

To be honest, I haven't really enjoyed the shows at LP Field. Most of the seats, including mine, are too far from the field, and the artists don't get a chance to sing most of their songs. I'd recommend that they put four artists, instead of 7, on one bill, and then let people like Bucky Covington or Jason Michael Carroll perform on a stage outside the stadium. How does anyone benefit - the artists or the fans - if they're only singing two songs at the big show. Soundchecks are sometimes longer than those sets.

That's one of the reasons why I skipped Day 3 of the big show. Also, because I had tickets to the Opry. But then again, I'd take in an Opry show over tickets to the Super Bowl, a presidential inauguration or just about any major event you can think of.

My next entry will be about the experience of seeing one of America's most important music institutions, one that can blend the old and new perfectly

:: Posted at 9:10 AM by Mike Sudhalter ::
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