It hardly seems possible that CMA Music Festival ended last Sunday. What a whirlwind of a week! Here’ the daily recap of what all we did and you’ll see why I call it a “whirlwind”, but what a FUN whirlwind!!
Tuesday started off with a press conference with CMT Music Awards host Kristen Bell and the producers of the show. First let me say, I adore her, she was so much fun and just very down-to-earth. I got to ask the very first question in the press conference. You can see that answer in the behind-the scenes video HERE! Following the press conference that took place inside the Bridgestone Arena’s visitor center, I was able to stay to watch Jake Owen rehearse for his performance the following night. It was a fun beach theme to fit his current single “Beachin'”. Beach balls were bouncing everywhere and margaritas were handed out to hold (I started to get excited until I realized no one was allowed to actually drink these props! haha). It was a fun time and you can see all of it in the aforementioned video! After stopping in my favorite Broadway hang Robert’s Western World for a tasty hamburger (best in town if you ask me) with some other media friends, it was off to cover Clay Walker’s Chords Of Hope at 3rd & Lindsley with Montgomery Gentry and Dustin Lynch performing, as well. It was a great way to end the day! The benefit was for MS and this was the first time that I had a chance to meet Clay. We both share something in common with both of us being diagnosed with MS. I am really glad we had the chance to meet. That whole meeting included a couple of high fives and a meaningful talk between us. Thankful to Clay for working so hard to raise money to try to find a cure for MS.
Wednesday was my favorite day! Had so many great times during this week, but there is just something special about covering a Red Carpet. This was my first time to be on the Red Carpet of the CMT Music Awards. Went to get my hair done earlier in the day, picked out my dress, and then it was off to the Bridgestone Arena to be there at 330pm! It came so fast, it made my head spin. The Red Carpet was held inside, which I’m thankful for, I was NOT looking forward to standing in that heat for 2 hours shooting photos. The pure excitement of it all is one that I enjoy as I watched the staff with headsets on run around for final preparations of the big night. There is a flurry of activity that happens before and during these events. I love it! I love the energy! No matter how tired you might be, you’re caught up in the excitement and adrenaline rush of it all. One hour later, it was time to begin as the stars started entering in one by one. Some a little stiff, seemingly fighting off nerves themselves. Some just having fun with it, like Dierks Bentley in his Riser Airlines captain outfit. He never broke character! So much fun! For 2 hours I stood on my assigned spot on the photographers podium. Now, I have to admit that was a new role for me, usually at Red Carpets, I am there doing interviews. I am a professional photographer, though, and used to doing live shooting of performances. This time it was less stress and I got to experience being a still photographer on a Red Carpet. It was just as much fun! And, was fun to see the looks on the faces of some of the artists that I knew when they spotted me in the photographers pit. Had a few quick conversations with some of my favs from afar! No time for much talk, just some “hellos” and “how are yous”! Afterwards, I was taken up to the quiet of the media room where we were treated to some food and drinks as we watched the awards show while we worked to update, upload, or whatever. Me? I was updating my readers on Twitter. Following the awards, I attended the Warner Music CMT Music Awards After-Party at aVenue just a couple of blocks away. We were treated to some more live music from Dean Alexander, Frankie Ballard, and Cole Swindell. I didn’t stay very long since the next day was both early and long! And, scary drive home, I must say! A lightning storm was beginning and pretty certain I’ve never witnessed so much lightning! Yikes!
Thursday started off early with NRA Country’s “Kegs and Eggs” event and it was a pretty day after the storms. Well, let me tell you, I am not one to turn down a nice, cold beverage at whatever hour it is! So, at 8am I was already drinking a beer in our special NRA Country beer mugs. I don’t make this a habit, mind you, but it was CMA Music Festival and we were kickstarting the first official day of it! Surprisingly, beer goes pretty well with eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, and fruit! I thought so, at least! We were treated to performances by Craig Campbell, Josh Thompson, and Love & Theft. It was a fun time! Next, headed over to The Band Perry press conference followed by their official fan club party. I stayed to enjoy it this time, since last year I had to leave early. They had 500 fans attend taking place inside another huge event space inside Music City Center with the theme being backstage access. They set it up to give all their 500 fans a chance to experience what it is like to go backstage at one of their concerts by showing their sound set-up, guitar tech, and band members available to talk to on the stage before the concert. Then, the fans were treated to a nice, boxed lunch, a special awards show for fans by The Band Perry, and ended the party with a full band/full concert performance. It was a great time. After that, it was off to the Regal Green Hills Cinemas across town for the Red Carpet movie premiere of Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Like A Country Song”. Then, it was back to LP to enjoy the spectacular nightly show!
Friday was my easy day. Started off with interviews inside Music City Center with Alison Sweeney, Megan Lindsey, and Mary Sarah. Great chats with each of them! I always love to go to the media lounge and interview rooms, because always run into some friends while there and never know who will see. It’s kind of like a family reunion minus the drama and a chance to relax in a quiet, cool atmosphere before heading out to fight the crowds and heat. Afterwards, I ventured over to the Riverfront for a couple of shows, then over to John Rich’s Redneck Riviera, which was a lot of fun with the cast of “Party Down South” hanging around, DJ Sinister spinning some fun tunes to dance to, and then Kellie Pickler came up to sign. Following that, I headed over to enjoy the BMI Tailgate Party in the special VIP reception area. Grateful to BMI for extending that to me to get to enjoy the show with some tasty food and drinks before heading into LP Stadium to enjoy the nightly show!
Saturday was another early one starting off with coverage of the City Of Hope celebrity softball game. We were on the Red Carpet interviewing folks like Scotty McCreery, Jana Kramer, Dustin Lynch, Kree Harrison, and many more! Look for our video coverage of that fun time soon! Stayed for another hour following the Red Carpet to watch some of the game and get some footage. Didn’t stick around too long for that since I kind of felt like I was an egg frying in the heat! I’m pretty fair and don’t take the heat too well, so I headed out over to the festival again. First, to interview with The Swon Brothers before their Riverfront performance. Then heading over to enjoy HGTV’s The Lodge where we were to interview Kristian Bush. Stayed the rest of the day inside the VIP area of The Lodge. Hey, I was no fool! lol There were free snacks, drinks, leather couches, and fans there. I was comfortable and there was great music to be heard that afternoon inside away from the heat. Had fun meeting Craig Morgan after his show. Really great guy and we exchanged our stories since we both just had surgery on our shoulders. Fortunately, I am already out of my arm sling from that after several weeks of recovery. I couldn’t take it any longer and went sans sling starting last week! Afterwards, headed over to the BMI Tailgate Party to the special VIP reception area again to enjoy some good food, drinks, and music before heading into the LP Stadium. Well….that’s what I THOUGHT I was doing. Little did I know that 30 minutes after arriving at the BMI Tailgate Party VIP reception when the music was halted and the stage started being broken down due to impending storms. Fans were being escorted inside the LP Stadium already to brace for the storms and take cover. I decided to not stick around since I didn’t want to be stuck there all night with nothing to do, so I got in my car and headed home. Actually, I didn’t mind too much just having a relaxing night. Too bad the BMI Tailgate Party was cut very short since we were supposed to have a special drop-in performance from Florida Georgia Line. Oh, well…at least fans got to see them later that night since the show went on, just delayed a bit at LP Stadium.
Sunday was the final day of CMA Music Festival. It was a beautiful, cool day after the storms from the night before. Another early morning as I started off the day at the Great American Country Breakfast with performances by Rose Falcon, Leah Turner, Jamie O’Neal, and Kristian Bush. I was treated to another nice breakfast inside the Music City Center where I downed 4 cups of coffee and STILL didn’t quite wake me up! I refer to Sunday as my “dazed and confused” day, as I spent most of it feeling like I was daydreaming! lol Seriously, I was pretty exhausted that day and out of it! I just went with it. It was a festival, and pretty certain I had lots of company feeling JUST as “dazed and confused” that day! Afterwards, I headed to the media room to assist Nicki D. with an interview that she had set up, then over to the Budlight Stage at Bridgestone Arena to assist her with camerawork for another interview, followed by watching Jamie Lynn Spears perform to an audience that seemed to sprawl out in every direction downtown. There was DEFINITELY a lot of buzz about her and she put on a great show! Then, it was off to HGTV’s The Lodge (Are you getting the drift that I liked to hang out there?) to watch Love & Theft and hang out there a bit. Afterwards, it was over to the BMI Tailgate Party VIP reception area again to enjoy some good food, drinks, and visiting with friends. Especially enjoyed getting to see Natalie Stovall & The Drive close out the stage. They are pretty amazing, if you haven’t had the chance to see them live! Then, it was on to LP Stadium for the final night of shows where I stayed until almost the very end. I don’t ever stay to the very end, just to avoid traffic. So, that was that. The end to a fun-filled week! Whew! I was exhausted, but had a BLAST!
Set your DVRs! CMA Music Festival “Country’s Night To Rock” airs on Tuesday, August 5th at 7pm-10pm central!