Garth Brooks at CMA Fest

Photo by Mark Eddy

This past weekend’s CMA Music Festival was an absolute blast for all that attended. It was my first time and it truly was an unforgettable experience. For anyone who has not been, it basically is four days of nonstop country music on many different stages set throughout downtown Nashville. The two main stages consist of the Chevy Riverfront Stage during the day and the stage at Nissan Stadium at night. This year also included free nightly concerts at Ascend Amphitheater including names like Big + Rich, Raelynn, Danielle Bradbery, Sara Evans and Dan+Shay. As a first timer, I was most excited for the stadium shows. The lineup spoke for itself. Consisting of four older artists and 22 of the best artists of today it was set to be an all-star show. Acts like Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, FGL, Maren Morris, Miranda Lambert and Kelsea Ballerini were just the beginning. The lineup was fantastic as it was but just like any other show in Nashville, we knew there were going to be surprises.

The biggest surprise came on Thursday night. “The Gambler” Kenny Rogers kicked off the show after Phil Vassar’s rendition of the National Anthem. Brett Eldredge came out after that and put on an electric show as always. After that everyone was expecting Cole Swindell to come out next. From our 300 section seats, we see Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini come out for the first time that night and the audience assumes that they are doing their first broadcast recording. CMA Fest will be broadcasted on ABC in mid-August on ABC to showcase the festival and the duo will be hosting the special. They start with a welcome and then start announcing the next performer. TR mentions how the next act makes him feel very small. At this point, I am curious about what is going on. Rhett had a more prime time slot than Swindell and yet he makes him feel small? Next, they mention how the next act had sold over 149 Million albums. OK, that is not Cole Swindell. He has had the biggest world tour ever, selling over 5 Million tickets. That can only be one person I think as I jump to my feet. The reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year. Holy crap its Garth Brooks.

Suddenly Garth walks onto the stage and all 60,000 people in Nissan Stadium are going absolutely nuts. The intro music for The Thunder Rolls is playing in the background and everyone knows that the greatest country artist of all time was about to play live. The next 15 minutes were a mashup of Brooks’s hits. It seemed like every single person in the crowd knew the words to every one of them. Then comes the finale, “Friends in Low Places”. The entire stadium is singing along as Garth plays one of the most memorable songs of all time. Before exiting the stage, Garth received a huge standing ovation from the crowd and then walked off stage. The entire stadium was in shock as many people checked a major act off their “concert bucket list.”

The stadium shows carried on for the rest of the week as acts rocked the stage. CMA Fest was a major success as of 17 million dollars was raised for music education. Even today, I still cannot get over Garth’s performance.

359 days until CMA Fest 2018…

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