Nashville Concerts

CMA Fest: Jon Pardi, Sam Hunt, Dustin Lynch, Kelsea Ballerini, Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban

Third day, best day?

CMA Fest

Jon Pardi

A breeze blows through the hot Nashville air as Jon Pardi sing about his life, as long as “She Ain’t In It.” Admitting his nerves, he stands in his cowboy hat and western button-up with his George Strait-esque charm.

The twang in his voice mixes well with the night. Swaying is all I can do during “Up All Night.”

He saves a medley of his hits for the end: “Dirt On My Boots,” “Heartache on the Dance Floor” and “Head Over Boots.” Clearly Jon Pardi has a thing for dancing and boots. Fitting, so does the crowd.

Sam Hunt

CMA Fest has done well to keep fans in the loop on what’s going on. I often refer to the schedule for reference. With this being said, I am in shock when they announce Sam Hunt will be taking the stage. This is the best surprise!

For one song only, Sam Hunt runs through the crowd while debuting his newest single, “Downtown’s Dead.” The crowd is going wild. In fact, the city is bursting with lively fans all weekend long. Downtown’s Dead? Nothing could be further from the truth.

Dustin Lynch

Tonight’s set and lineup might as well have been crafted by me. Alike the others, I’ve seen Dustin Lynch many times. Like the time years ago he opened for Tim McGraw as a newbie, or when I ditched biology lecture to see his fair set.

The stage flashes in intermittent red lights as “Seein’ Red” kicks off his time on the main stage.

Dustin preforms like he knows what his charm and good looks are capable of. This is true, yet he sings about his “Good Girl”: I could take you home to mama, take you to the church right down the street. 

We term his smile, a 1000 watt smile. He entertains the crowd with a cover of Drake’s “God’s Plan.”

“Mind Reader,” “Small Town Boy” and “Where It’s At” complete his set.

Kelsea Ballerini

Given that Kelsea Ballerini has been likened to being the next Taylor Swift, my friend Anna and I find ourselves in an in-depth discussion about Taylor Swift lyrics just before the girl next door of country music takes the stage.

Beginning with the title track from her new album, “Unapologetically” sets the tone for her time. She is dressed in sequins, jewels and sparkles that shine when she moves.

“Miss Me More” and “I Hate Love Songs” weave in between her hits like “Legends” and “Peter Pan.”

She too was at the CMA Fest several years ago, sitting at the top of the stadium with her mom. In the spirit of Nashville, she dedicates “Love Me Like You Mean It” to all young girls in the crowd with music city size dreams.

Chris Stapleton

Guitar heavy, his set rocks Nissan Stadium. Being a man of few words, he wields the ability to captivate the crowd with the sound of his guitar.

It’s easy to imagine his stadium set being as a fit in an intimate venue, like a bar.

“Nobody to Blame” and “Broken Halos” season his set with crowd sing-alongs.

He stands in one spot as he is handed guitars between each song. Until finally he drapes a strap to an acoustic guitar over his neck. Looks like the right time for some “Tennessee Whiskey.”

The opening chords of “Tennessee Whiskey” are rich enough to be heard on Broadway. Eyes begin to close and the song turns the crowd in to soulful listeners.

Keith Urban

Anna is devoted to Keith Urban’s music and bursting with excitement for his appearance. We sneak down to a row of open seats in a lower section. We are ready.

He appears in a light wash denim jacket with Graffiti U, the title of his new album, patched on the back as he sings “Never Comin’ Down.”

His Australian accent welcomes the crowd to Nashville.

“Somewhere in My Car” and “Blue Ain’t Your Color” are familiar and more fun than I could have imagined. I am giving Keith my all as I sing and dance along.

A digital version of Carrie Underwood and a very present Keith Urban duet “The Fighter.” He makes his way to a small stage in the crowd. With a electric guitar on his back, he swings his long locks around as the crowd moves in on him.

The celebration of “Wasted Time” completes his main stage set.



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