Who likes their Country music to be real country?-Heidi Newfield
Hi Friends! I realize that it’s Friday evening...& I am just now starting to write a blog post. This week has been CRAZY. So forgive me that I didn’t get a Woman Empowerment post or my weekly Friday morning post out this week. If you pay attention to my Instagram stories, you have seen all the things I’ve been up this week. Long days in the sun followed by busy evenings. BUT, it is time to give Part 1 of my CMA Week overview.
Check out the highlights on Instagram for pictures & videos.
So we all know that there is a huge pop presence in current mainstream Country music. Some love it, some hate it. The amazing thing that I have seen this week is even though there is a pop influence, there is also still a very strong traditional Country backbone.
Storytelling. Fiddles. Fiddles. Steel Guitars. (Authentic) Cowboy Boots. Cowboy hats. Broken Hearts. Beer.
It is all still very much present. BLESS.
As I was thinking about writing my overview, Heidi’s quote from today stuck in head. We may be the underdogs, but we are still here. Kicking ass & raising hell. And how awesome is it that the first part of my week can 100% be summed up by this truth.
Here is my shoutout to the outcasts, rebels, underdogs, outsiders of mainstream Country for joining us for this crazy week. We need y’all.
Brown & Gray
Up & Comers. Great harmonies. Good mixture of instruments. Great energy. They did an acoustic set that was phenomenal. Their first EP, Salt in the Coffee, came out 6/9
This girl is a powerhouse vocalist with soul and rasp. She sat and played the keyboard for the first part of her set, but that did not hinder her ability to fill the room with her powerful voice. I’m always amazed when vocalists do well without standing because it is hard to breathe correctly & project while sitting. We also were given meet & greets for Abby. She is a doll. She is so young, but knows how to engaged well with her audience. In addition to her originals, she covered RESPECT, which was simply amazing.
Talented band with a good, full sound. Mixed contemporary sound with the classic steel guitar. Love that these guys covered John Michael Montgomery, Brooks & Dunn, and Alabama. Great at reading the audience and working the crowd.
Did. Not. Disappoint.
Smoke machines. Hats. Seventies style clothes. Amazing harmonies. Perfection.
The Gator Boys were even better live than recorded. The Cannery was the perfect venue for the smoky old bar vibe.
I forgot for a minute that we were in Nashville, during CMA Fest, with millions of people in town, in 2018. That night I treaveled back to my hometown of less than 500 people, to the late 70’s, to a smoky bar with Classic Country playing. Well done, boys.
TBH: WE had every intention of going to the awards show...got dressed up & everything. But we stayed at my friend’s high rise to drink rosé and eat pizza while watching. My favorite performances were Dierks Bentley & Brothers Osborne “Burning Man” and Kelly Clarkson “American Woman.” My absolute favorite moment of the night was when Carly Pearce won Breakthrough Video of the Year with Every Little Thing. Her emtion & excitement even got me a little emotional. The gratitude, appreciation, shock, pride, and joy she shared with her happy tears said it all. Hard work pays off. May we all taste that feeling, cherish it, then stay humble & kind. Thanks for reminding us what this dream is about, Carly.
Great performance, classic sound mixed with a little rock mixed in. He even covered Waylon Jennings. He played at the Breakout Stage, which was odd because he has been around for a few years and opened for some big names, but I love to see his humble performance & appreciate his willingness to play.
Little Big Town, meets Loretta Lynn, meets Fleetwood Mac.
AMAZING harmonies, bold subject matter, female power, 60’s rock, mixed with folk. So unique.
Such a high energy performance in 90+ temperatures. Impressive.
They stopped mid-opening song for a pre planned proposal that they were in on. Might be the first time in CMA Fest history a girl proposed to her girlfriend. It was beautiful.
Their performance of Bottom of the River was stunning.
They break the rules of mainstream music, while making magic. We need that.
Oh the beauty of the “Forever Country” stage. Country from the 80s, 90s & 2000s. I literally could live at this stage.
30 years later & Little Texas is still rocking. God Bless Texas, Amy’s Back in Austin, Kick a Little, all of the classics.
I was also lucky enough to have Dwayne O’Brien as a professor while attending Belmont & I love to go see him any time I get the chance.
God Bless Texas.
Another blessing from the “Forever Country” stage.
Come Crying to Me, No News, Amazed, What About Now still sound amazing after all this time.
Dierks Bentley’s the Mountain
Such a special album release show held at the Ryman. It was set up like a writer’s round; Dierks told stories about the writing process at he went through the album top to bottom. Informal & at the historic Ryman. Because of my publishing heart, this show was so special to me. Stripping it down to the songs, storytelling, and sharing art. This album was written more from Dierks’ roots. Less party music, more mountain music. A western spin. At midnight, Dierks did the homer of signing his track listing, & ‘releasing’ the album. Album officially came out 6/9 & does not disappoint. Thanks for sharing your album release with us Dierks, it was truly a exceptional night.
Surprise performance at the riverfront stage by the “Walmart Yodeling Kid.” Y’all he is ELEVEN & blew me away. He voice, his stage presence, his pearl snap, his big belt buckle, his cowboy hat, his guitar skills. Phenomenal. Love that he is so young & has an appreciation for the classic sound.
This gem never disappoints. She is hands down one of the BEST vocalists in Country & rarely gets recognized for that. Her first album was amazing, but the single Diane is perfection. It was written as an answer to Dolly’s Jolene & is timeless. Cam worked the crowd as she always does with great energy. Also, she was wearing pink metallic cowboy boots. Bless. Cam, let’s be friends, ok?!
We stumbled upon this sister trio while grabbing lunch. They are Australian & are up & coming in Country. There is something so special & beautiful about sibling harmonies. Excited to hear more about this group.
God bless TEXAS Country. Love seeing them come to Nashville & bless us. Aaron started with my personal favorite, “These Boots Have Roots.” He also took it to a more serious note & talked about losing a child & heartbreak. I love that he never says away from important topics just to keep the energy up. He spoke about understanding pain & took us to church for a moment talking about hope. He never lost the audience through it all. Aaron, you are truly one of a kind.
PS- that fiddle 👌🏼
Eric is sometimes viewed as a newcomer, but he is far from it. He has been writing hits for years and also has released a few hits as a singer/songwriter. Eric always puts on a great performance, yesterday was no exception. Even if it Breaks Your Heart & Barefoot Blue Jean Night were fun & showcased his cuts by other artists. The best moment probably was when he performed She Don’t Love you, his biggest hit to date. Such a great vocalist. Such a great writer.
God bless this powerhouse sassy soul. Always loved her in Trick Pony, love her solo career even more. She isn’t scared to talk about real Country Music. She let her hair down & kicked her heels off at one point. Bless.
Pour Me. Johnny & June. Just What I Need.
A few new releases.
So damn good.
More to come!