Hitting CMA Fest: A First Time for Everything

music musings, beaverdamusa.comThere’s a first time for everything.

You figure that after 52 trips around the sun, there aren’t many “firsts” left for me that aren’t connected to medical tests, conditions, or procedures.  I did experience a first.  Like an addict at a meeting, it’s confession time –

Nissan Stadium gets ready for the show.

“Hi, I’m Zach, I live in the Nashville area and I went to Fan Fair.”

Yes, after years of avoiding the crowds and making fun of the tourists, I attended a Fan Far event.  I know it is CMA Fest, but it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks.  The company I work for (yes, I have a day job) typically has drawings each year for tickets to the stadium shows.  I have won them in the past, but due to the artists playing, my schedule, or the weather I have given them to family members.  There really wasn’t a reason not to go this year, so I said “what the hell.  Let’s go.”  My eldest, Will, and his girlfriend Haley went to the Thursday night stadium show as well.  We did take separate vehicles because I wasn’t staying until 11:30 p.m., on a school night to watch someone I didn’t like.

The legendary Charlie Daniels sawing the fiddle.

The legendary Charlie Daniels sawing the fiddle.

If you aren’t familiar with the format, the stage is set up in Nissan Stadium (home of the Titans), and each night (four in all) about four or five performers play a handful of songs.  The artist lineup is a mix of established acts and newer artists who have broken out.  I must say I was worried about the down time between acts.   They started on time and stuck to the schedule and didn’t vary by more than five minutes.  I figured they would use a house set of instruments, but they turned the stage each time.  Very impressed.

Oh, I guess I need to let you know about the actual show.  The stage was worthy of the stadium setting.  It even came with three or four-story video screens on each side of the stage.  Each segment was introduced by various country music DJs and personalities.  Their banter bordered on hokey, but what do you expect?  Here is the line-up and my thoughts:

  • Miranda Lambert wore spurs, from what we understand.

    Miranda Lambert wore spurs, from what we understand.

    The Oak Ridge Boys opened the evening with the Star Spangled Banner.  Great harmonies and represented the “has been” category for the night.

  • Charlie Daniels Band – introduction acknowledging Charlie’s induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in the fall.  Played four songs, including In America.  Charlie will be 80 later this year and still can throw down.  Literally shredded his bow on the Devil Went Down to Georgia.  He also brought out Randy Travis who suffered a massive stroke a while back.  Pretty sad watching him struggle to walk on stage.  He didn’t even speak to the crowd and looked confused.
  • Kelsea Ballerini – filling the breakout star slot, she ripped through five songs and quickly won the crowd over.  She mentioned that just three years ago, she was sitting in the upper deck and watching the show.  She truly seemed humbled to be on the big stage.  Only thing was that her “romper” was probably about an inch too short.  She spent the entire set tugging at it.  Anyone who went commented on it – so stop the perv comments.
  • Dierks Bentley – ehhh. Not really a fan.  Really seemed intent on working the crowd.  He even walked through the crowd and sang from a small stage in the middle of the crowd.  Nothing really remarkable for me, but the country fans with me said it was good.
  • Miranda Lambert – Here is the reason I went to Fan Fair.  There, I said it.  Yes, I love me some Miranda.  The keyword is spurs.  Yes, spurs.  She wore spurs on her boots.  The other word would be giddy-up.  She tore the house down with all of her hits and what could best be described as sassiness.  Did I mention she wore spurs?  Favorite song was Little Red Wagon.
  • Rascal Flatts – They sounded better the further they got into their set.  Full disclosure is that they sounded better the longer they played because I was walking to the truck and getting farther away.
  • Jason Aldean – supposedly he played.  I was probably about Exit 199 on I-40 when he came on.

I will admit that I had a great time.  I won’t even go into the people watching opportunities at Fan Fair.  They were exactly what you expect.


Zach, A Fan Fair attendee


Zach’s (Unfiltered) CMAs Review

music musings, beaverdamusa.comGoing in a little different direction with this blog.  While I consider myself a rocker at heart, living in Nashville, I can’t help but be exposed to the country music industry.  I actually like some of the music that is labeled as country today.

Besides snarling traffic all day in downtown, the CMA awards show is a chance for Nashville to shine and an opportunity for this blogger to share his take on the show.  I taped (not really, I DVR’ed) the show and started watching the recording about an hour after the actual show started.  This gave me the opportunity to skip those acts I abhor and those pesky commercials.  I watched it with my lovely bride, so here are my random thoughts (and occasional wife quotes) on the 49th annual CMA awards:

  • Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood host the show and did an opening skit about their Star Wars skit being cancelled.  It was kind of corny, but with Carrie dressed up as Princess Leia, Paisley had the line of the night with “nice buns”.
  • John Mellencamp and Keith Urban performed Mellencamp’s Little Pink Houses.  First, what did Mellencamp do to his hair?  Obviously, Urban won the hair contest.  Urban than sang what I guess is one of his new songs.  It has a line in it with the words “I learned all I know from John Cougar, John Deere, and John 3:16.”  Of course, Mellencamp hates the old John Cougar name.  First zinger from the wife comes from the kitchen during Urban’s song – “Who’s that woman singing?”
  • Paisley and Underwood come back with a parody song where nothing is safe.  Loved the dig on Blake Shelton/Miranda divorce and Ashley Madison reference.  Best line though was Paisley referencing Justin Timberlake and indicating his favorite JT song was a Christmas song about a box.  [If you don’t get it, Google “Timberlake, box”, but not on a company PC].
  • Little Big Town hit it big with their song Girl Crush winning a couple of awards.  The song was a popular, politically correct choice.
  • Paisley paid tribute to his idol Little Jimmy Dickens at one point.  Being the jokster, Paisley indicated that LJD wanted to leave the audience laughing when he went; so Paisley pulled out an urn about the size of a cigarette lighter.
  • Kenny Chesney seems like the proverbial “always a bridesmaid” nominee.  He was nominated for several awards, but took nothing home.  During his performance, it was good to see Kingston Springs’ own Jon Conley playing the acoustic.
  • Chris Stapleton won best new artist and a couple of other awards.  He definitely can’t be considered pretty boy country with that hair and beard.  Duck Dynasty guys are probably envious!  He seemed to be the popular choice this year.  I will admit the couple of numbers he did with Justin Timberlake were entertaining.  While I am not a large JT fan, you can’t deny the guy is a great entertainer.
  • Carrie underwood sang a song.  Couldn’t tell you what it was.  I was thinking “how does she get those boots/leggings on?”  My dear wife continued her admiration of her legs with the line “Look, there’s nothing jiggling on her legs!”  I will just leave it at that.
  • Florida-Georgia Line came on and sang.  Couldn’t find the fast forward quick enough.
  • During the Duo of the Year nominees clip, there was one called Dan + Shay.  It had them in dress clothes running in a creek like they were chasing each other.  Don’t know what they were doing.
  • Eric Church must have pink eye.  Always has the shades on.  Fast Forward worthy.
  • Thomas Rhett and Fall Out Boy played a couple of songs.  Don’t know either one.  They did have some very limber girls dancing/gyrating with them though.  The sweet wife (who knew a FOB song) chimed in on the limber girls with “there’s no way those girls can have bras on under those outfits”
  • My girl Miranda sang and won Female Artist of the Year.  She seemed down.  Great line in her acceptance speech when she said she needs a bright spot this year.
  • Kacey Musgraves – where’s her pants?
  • Hall & Oates, eh I mean Brooks & Dunn sang with Reba.  Reba still has it & I don’t know if B&D ever did. Looks like the tall one (always get them confused) might have had the Liberace done to his face.  I don’t think he blinked.
  • By this point in the show, I was tired and nodding off, so I saw that Male Vocalist went to the popular choice of Chris Stapleton and Luke Bryan won Entertainer of the Year.  Yawn.

I know this ran long, but the show did as well.  Even if you aren’t a country fan, the show gives you a little entertainment.

Until next time…


Which Salad Ingredient Would You Like to be Called?

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comSometimes you stick your foot in your mouth, and sometimes you manage to get both feet, a sink, a tire from a ’72 Impala and a bed pillow in there.

Meet Keith Hill, a country radio consultant in Texas. Here is how Hill recently compared female artists to their male counterparts in an attempt to explain females’ importance to radio ratings.

“If you want to make ratings in country radio,” he was quoted as saying in Country Aircheck, “take the females out… Trust me, I play great female records, and we’ve got some right now; they’re just not the lettuce in our salad. The lettuce is Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and artists like that. The tomatoes of our salad are the females.”

That’s not exactly the most Shakespearian of metaphors, is it.

It should come as no surprise that Hill’s comments caused a firestorm among female country artists. Acts like Miranda Lambert (who does a song called “Gunpowder and Lead” about settling the score with a man, it should be noted) took to social media faster than a bowl full of sliced up Early Girls disappears at a Fourth of July picnic.

Ladies, I am stunned. You should be flattered.

I ask you, what’s the most boring part of the salad? The lettuce, of course. The only reason we even strategically place a little of it in the bottom of the bowl is to form a bed to catch the dressing so we don’t have to use a roll or a spoon — only if no one is looking, of course — to scoop up what dripped off of everything else.

Being called just about any salad bar ingredient would be better than being called lettuce.

I could understand the outrage if he had called female artists chickpeas, olives or mushrooms. But I say to embrace being compared to the tastiest, most colorful and — in my opinion — most necessary vegetable in the salad bar.

Or is it a fruit? It doesn’t matter. I wish somebody would talk about me in a magazine. And, if they did, and they said, “Now that kid is a real tomato,” I think I would be flattered — unless he said tommy toe, then I’m not so sure.

But either way, it’s better than being the lettuce. If I’m Keith Urban or Luke Bryan, the first thing I’m doing is finding out if he meant iceberg or romaine. If the answer is iceberg, then I’m infuriated unless he was talking about a wedge salad, then I might let it slide.

I am not sure why wedge salads are so good, but I do admit liking them. And what are they garnished with?

Tomatoes. Case closed.

According to Forbes magazine, Carrie Underwood earned $41 million between 2013 and 2014. Dolly Parton is reported to be worth $450 million.

That’s a bunch of Better Boys.

So, Mr. Hill, I’m sure you wish you had chosen your words more carefully, but I for one think it’s the men who have the beef with you. And, I would offer a bit of advice:

If I were you, the next time I’m out in public, I would be on the lookout for a big heavy head of lettuce hurtling toward my face. I’m sure some of those country boys could put some heat behind one.

The tomatoes, not so much. Those female country singers probably throw like a bunch of… never mind. It’s not important.

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