Country Radio Seminar wrapped up last week to record attendance, bright new stars, and performances by the biggest names in country music. The three-day event overtook the Nashville Convention Center as thousands poured in for the annual meeting.
As a media outlet, we have the opportunity to cover the event, and interview some of the brightest up-and-coming stars in the format. We’ll be posting those interviews in the upcoming days; and we’ve also got photo and video coverage of the events, so stay tuned!
So here’s a recap of what our week looked like:
Each year the night before CRS officially opens, the Country Radio Hall of Fame holds a dinner and reception honoring the year’s inductees. This year, that distinction went to Dr. Don Carpenter, Crook & Chase, Eddie Edwards and Bill “Dex” Poindexter as the On-Air category inductees, and Gaylon Christie as the Radio category inductee. Additionally, the President’s Award was given to talent buyer and Academy of Country Music CEO Bob Romeo, and the King of Country Music himself, George Strait was presented with the Career Achievement Award.
Wednesday is the craziest, most exciting day all week. FOCUS on the 615 conducted a somewhere around nine interviews over the course of the day. Lunch saw the convention move across the street to the Ryman Auditorium for the Universal Music Group luncheon. This is where UMG Nashville brings out their entire roster to perform one song each. Last year, Lionel Ritchie was there for a special surprise, and we were also introduced to Kacey Musgraves for the first time. After performing the (at the time) unknown “Merry Go ‘Round, she received a rare, but well-deserved standing ovation from the crowd.
This year Kacey returned to mass applause, joining other UMG artists such as Billy Currington, Brothers Osborne, Chris Stapleton, Darius Rucker, David Nail, Dierks Bentley, Drake White (who I would watch out for), Eric Church, Eric Paslay, Josh Turner, Kelleigh Bannen, Lady Antebellum, Lauren Alaina, Little Big Town (who debuted their new single, “Your Side Of The Bed”), Luke Bryan, Randy Montana, Scotty McCreery, Vince Gill, and newcomer Mickey Guyton, who brought the house down with her powerhouse vocals, and received this year’s coveted standing O.
Later in the evening was the Artist/Attendee Welcome Reception for everyone in the industry to mingle. The guests have the opportunity to meet some of their favorite artists and several newcomers. This year Lady Antebellum, The Band Perry, Justin Moore, Eli Young Band, The Voice winner Cassadee Pope and numerous others showed up to say hello.
After dinner was a show paying homage to The Grand Ole Opry. Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, Little Big Town, Kacey Musgraves, Josh Turner, Greg Bates, Dustin Lynch, Scotty McCreery and Vince Gill all graced the stage, with Gill hosting along with Radio Hall of Famer Bill Cody.
As if this weren’t good enough, two surprise guests showed up: Ashley Monroe (who’s debut album “Like A Rose” was produced by Vince Gill) came on to sing the title track, accompanied by the man himself. After that came the real surprise, when Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio from ABC’s Nashville came on to sing a hit from the show, “When The Right One Comes Along.”
The after parties happened all over town, but FOCUS chose its favorite: The Warner Wednesday 70’s party! Almost the entire WMN roster took turns singing their respective new singles as well as their favorite 70’s songs.
Dean Alexander, The FARM, Sheryl Crow, Jana Kramer, Hunter Hayes, Gloriana, Frankie Ballard, Charlie Worsham, Brett Eldredge, Blake Shelton, Big & Rich, Ashley Monroe and Big SMO all took the stage at the annual party. And oh boy was it a party!
Our friend Dean Alexander kicked things off by covering Aerosmith’s “Dream On” (and yes, he hit the falsetto notes). Blake turned up earlier than expected and invited a “background singer” up with him to sing “Sure Be Cool If You Did.” That background singer was Miranda Lambert. Blake then launched into “Play That Funky Music (White Boy).” Miranda hopped back up there after Sheryl Crow declared it a “karaoke night” and invited her and Ashley Monroe up to sing “Take It To The Limit” by the Eagles. A personal favorite of mine was Charlie Worsham’s performance of “Rich Girl” by Hall & Oats, because… oh yeah, John Oats was there to join him! But the performance that brought the house down was Frankie Ballard. He asked the entire crowd what song everyone wanted to hear while drunk at a bar (because well, that scenario wasn’t far off.) The response was a simultaneous, resounding cheer of “Free Bird!” He then launched into “Free Bird.” Complete with guitar solo. Guy can shred.
Thursday was a mild day with interviews and a lunch by MCA/Capitol featuring hot newcomer Jon Pardi and Gary Allan. I then shot over to Tin Roof for some Lightning 100 local acts before preparing for Friday.
Friday morning saw more interviews followed by the Black River Entertainment lunch with Sarah Darling, Kellie Pickler and Craig Morgan. The real excitement of the day, however, was the New Faces Show that evening.
Each year, CRS holds its New Faces of Country Music Showcase featuring five artists on the rise. This year featured Easton Corbin, Jana Kramer, Brantley Gilbert, Kip Moore and Florida Georgia Line. We’ve got footage from all the performances, so stay tuned! However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the surprise of the week. FGL closed out the night with their smash debut single “Cruise” (not unexpected). What was unexpected was the special guest who came out during the second verse and sang with the duo for the rest of the song: Taylor Swift. The convention center went bonkers.
After that, it was after party time in the Badge Bar and the Bridge Bar, where everyone who was physically able gathered to celebrate one of the greatest weeks in the country music industry.