By God, this is what we need more of. Great soNgs, with Great lyrics. -Mark Wills
CMA Fest Week: Part 2. Forgive me that it is Tuesday & I am just now getting this out! Six days of solid shows & events in 95°+ heat wore me out, I was a shell of a person after that. Literally, I looked I looked & felt rough. I needed Monday just to recoup & Netflix. But I am back, rejuvenated & ready to share highlights.
Tracy Lawrence & Friends
We started our day at the Forever Country stage which features bands from the 80s, 90s, and 2000s. It is my personal favorite, especially since most of these bands are still making new music, but it is rarely played on the radio.
I was super excited to see Tracy, & was a tad annoyed when it became apparent that it was him & friends, rather than just him as the schedule had
shown. BUT then I realized who his friends were & what we got was pure gold.
Adam is a known Nashville songwriter, with hits such as Ain’t Worth the Whiskey (recorded by Cole Swindell) & Hell of a Night (recorded by Dustin Lynch), as well as an up & coming artist. He started with some 90 covers...which is never a bad idea. He then sang his new single “Over Did It.” Such a great Southern voice & with a true Country sound. Excited to keep hearing about him!
Oh my soul. The Legendary Linda Davis.
Some Things are Meant to Be. Does He Love You. Love Story in the Making.
Simply amazing. Also, if you are wondering who Hillary Scott takes after, you could say it is her mother, Linda Davis.
A classic artist that has been around since the 70s. His energy was amazing, he did a couple of his hits, and had so much engagement with the crowd. Such a cool thing to experience.
& finally...Tracy Lawrence
He got up & did one song with Joe, followed by a few himself.
Time Marches On. Paint Me a Birmingham. Find Out Who Your Friends Are.
My childhood/teenage dreams came true. He also sounds the exact same as he did 20 years ago. Bless.
William Michael Morgan
Chris Young meet George Strait.
The true cowboy lives. Thank God.
He is known the best for I Met a Girl, but my top pick is Missing.
Let’s also point out that it was 95°+ & he wore a long sleeved pearl snap, jeans with a big belt buckle, cowboy boots & of course a big cowboy hat.
Great performance, he even added a little Drops of Jupiter cover in there & I’m convinced it was meant to be a Country song.
Powerhouse vocalist. Great energy, amazing songs.
When I Think About Angels. Trying to Find Atlantis. There Is No Arizona.
Then one of the classics she wrote:
How Far which was recorded by Martina McBride.
Which let me tell you...I am a HUGE fan of Martina. BUT Jamie gives her a run for her money on this one.
She also sang a couple of new singles. She never disappoints.
Hasting & Co
Up & Coming duo. They performed a ton of covers, but their originals are amazing.
Great energy, great harmonies. Kept the audience engaged, even in the heat.
Excited to hear more from them.
This was maybe one of the most surprising shows of the week.
He played all parts himself, by recording them & playing in a loop. He built his set himself. No actual band.
Crazy talent. Here is the best part, he showed the audience how he did it & was doing it live the entire time.
He is the next Keith Urban...he is even Australian.
I love how he was excited to play a free show while his wife played the stadium.
Work hard, stay humble. Incredibly impressed by him.
Hands down, BEST part of last week was when Randy Travis came on stage at Ascend to receive the first Cracker Barrel Country Legend Award. Y’all better believe I was tearing up. His wife spoke on his behalf & announced that this was the first time Randy had worn cowboy boots & jeans since his stroke. Lucchese made a pair of double zip boot to support his legs. Then came the bawling. He then thanked the crowd, which was amazing, as speaking isn’t easy for him. More bawling.
I am tearing up just typing.
Randy Travis is one of the most influential artists in Country music.
I can’t imagine this platform without On the Other Hand. Diggin’ Up Bones. I Told You So. Deeper Than the Holler. He Walked on Water.
& of course, Forever and Ever, Amen.
Thank you, Mr. Travis. We love you.
Also, a shoutout to Michael Ray for singing this following the award presentation as a tribute.
His shows never disappoint.
19 Somethin’. Wish You Were Here. Jacob’s Ladder.
Don’t Laugh at Me.
Before this song, Mark said one of the best things:
Put your phones away. Just focus on these words. They are so important & needed. Maybe more now than ever. By god, this is what we need more of. Great songs with great lyrics.- Mark WIlls
Best part of the show right there. You better believe the crowd knew every word. Thank God for that Forever Country stage.
Thanks to Steve Seskin & Allen Shamblin for writing this & thanks to Mark for recording it back in 1998.
Perfect start to the last day.
Amazing voice, a Lee Ann Womack sound. Love the acoustic stage at CMA Fest. The simplicity is beautiful.
Wasted is my top pick from her, which is her current single.
Great to see another up & comer out there. Her debut album was titled Grit & Grace, I mean, I think we just became best friends.
Amazing performance. Still Loving You with Joe Nichols & Country Made Me Do It are my tops picks.
Keep the sass & energy, Meghan, we love it.
I have very rarely seen it happen, but Scotty completely filled Riverfront to capacity.
To the point where they were turning people away.
His shows never disappoint, that big Country voice is simply one of a kind.
The OG of rowdy & fun Country.
Third Rock From the Sun. Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox. John Deere Green.
Does it get any better than this?
The entire crowd was engaged, like it was 12am in a rural bar with the drunk locals, not 2:45pm & hot as hell.
Joe is as authentic as they come. The first time I met him when he came into the publishing company I was working for, he was as down to Earth & silly as could be.
Thankful to have such a legend still coming out, playing & having a big party with us.
Then the rain came...
Easton Corbin & Craig Campbell were rained out & my heart broke a little, but better safe than sorry. The stadium shows went on that night & Dwight Yoakam made a guest appearance. He & Luke Bryan sang Fast As You & I am heartbroken I missed it.
I was even offered free box tickets...yes I kicked myself for turning them down after I heard about this guest appearance.
But, I am so thankful to have seen Randy Travis’ appearance & will cherish it for a lifetime.
His music will always hold a special place in Country Music History.
Forever And Ever, Amen.
Playlist inspired by CMA Fest Week. Check out Instagram Highlights for pictures/videos of shows & events.