Festival record - a mixed bag?
Mike Sudhalter | June 13, 2007
On the surface, it's great news. The CMA Music Festival finished its four-day event with a record aggregate attendance of 191,154 people. The number indicates that the festival is popular and growing.
It certainly means lots of dough for the CMA. But what does it mean for the country fans, many of whom sacrifice a great deal to travel and lodge in Nashville during the festival?
Hopefully, the high numbers mean that artists like Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill will follow superstar Reba McEntire's lead and realize the importance of playing the festival. But how important is that? When Reba plays LP Field for 30 minutes, does that capture the essence of an event that started in the early 1970's as a way for fans and artists to connect with each other?
The popularity of country music makes it difficult for the superstars to connect with their fans, and that's OK. Only time will tell if the increased popularity of the festival will help or hurt it's future. I hope the CMA doesn't take the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach, because they certainly need to return to two stages.
No country music fan, whether they like Alan Jackson or Big and Rich or anybody inbetween wants to see their favorite artist perform for a half-hour or less. The big stage shows were so out of whack that up and coming artists on the Riverfront Stage got more stage time in some cases. Amy Dalley occupied the Riverfront Stage longer than Kellie Pickler or Bucky Covington were on the big stage.
All considered, the numbers are good news. I just hope that when fans order their '08 tickets, they're also making their suggestions for improvement known.