CMA Fest: Top 8 Moments

In honor of the CMA Fest special being aired on ABC tonight (8.16.17) I wanted to do a list of my favorite CMA Fest moments.  (These are not ranked in any particular order.)

8. Kelsea Ballerini performing Legends for the first time on TV at the CMT Awards.

While the CMT Awards aren’t “officially” part of CMA Fest, I’m including this!  I was at the outdoor stage where Brothers Osbourne and Kelsea played.  Kelsea was on a small platform surrounded by fans.  She was visibly nervous before the cameras turned to her, and asked people in front of her if she sounded ok when she was done.  Her humility was so very evident.  She, of course, knocked her performance out of the park!

7. Old Dominion officially kicking off CMA Fest

Old Dominion kicked off the official CMA Fest events on Thursday morning.  They took over the Chevy Riverfront Stage to an at-capacity crowd.  The only time I ever felt like there were too many people in town was at this point.  The streets of downtown were packed with people waiting to get into the show.  Thankfully I was able to get in because these guys put on a heck of a show.  If you’ve never seen them live, you need to asap!

6. Warner Music Family BBQ

When thousands of country music fans travel to Nashville, artists and record labels have a great opportunity for fan club parties.  Warner Music put together a great “family bbq” with up and coming artists Cale Dodds, Ryan Kinder, Bailey Bryan & Devin Dawson.  After a bbq lunch, the artists each performed acoustically to an intimate crowd.  They then did a meet and greet where a professional photographer took photos that could later be downloaded.  Lunch, a concert, and meet & greet for $10!  Sign me up for next year!

5. FILMORE at the Chevy Park Stage

I was so disappointed that I would miss Filmore’s performance due to conflicting times with the Warner BBQ.  Thanks to Love & Theft having a baby, Filmore filled in at the Chevy Park Stage and I was able to see him.  He’s one of my favorite artists and it was awesome to see such a great crowd as he performed.  You never know who will pop up where at CMA Fest!

4. Seth Ennis at the Radio Disney Stage

I cannot say enough about how great Seth Ennis is.  He is a great musician, and an amazing person.  His performance made this list for one very specific reason – his song “Woke Up In Nashville.”  Seth had a pretty good crowd at the indoor stage.  They were kind enough to loudly sing his lyrics back to him as he played and it was so awesome to hear.  After his performance he asked me, “did you hear them singing along?!”  I told him that I did and tried my hardest to not tear up.  There is nothing like hearing a crowd sing a song back to the artist, especially when it’s their debut single that hasn’t been out very long.

3. Chris Bandi at the Hard Rock Stage


I got to know Chris Bandi through Got Country a few months before CMA Fest.  Besides my favorites (Cale Dodds, Seth Ennis & Filmore) this was my only “must see, I don’t care what else comes up, I won’t miss it” show.  I was very excited to see him live, and he did not disappoint!  I enjoyed his set so much, that weekend I made plans with friends to see him play in Georgia a few weeks later. P.S. Chris has now been added to my favorites list.

2. Dan + Shay at Ascend Amphitheater 

I had seen Dan + Shay live once before, but it was an acoustic set.  To say they blew that out of the water with their show at the Ascend Amphitheater would be an understatement.  Each night during CMA Fest, there was a different theme for the shows at the amphitheater.  This night was “Warner Sound” – all of the artists who performed are signed at Warner Music.  Dan + Shay were the headliners.  I can’t even put into words how great they were.  They had the crowd of over 6,000 on their feet the whole time and played some killer guitar as we all stood amazed.  Also, Shay Mooney’s absolutely insane vocals….  That man is freakin’ talented!

1. Cale Dodds at Ascend Amphitheater

I know I said these weren’t ranked in any particular order, but this was definitely my very favorite moment of CMA Fest.  Cale Dodds is a good friend of mine, and I was so very excited when I learned he would be playing this stage.  I knew this would be a big night for Cale & his band.  I also knew I would shed some tears, and my tears did not disappoint me on that front…  A day or two before the show Cale told me he would be co-hosting the night with Storme Warren from Sirius XM’s “The Highway.”  I may have freaked out due to my love of Storme Warren.  Cale being chosen to co-host the night was most definitely a big deal.  I took videos of Cale & Storme on stage together from my seat.  Once Cale & his band took the stage for their set, my media pass & I were right up front.  I knew I wanted a shot that showed him on the big screens, and also the crowd, so I took a walk around the amphitheater.  That’s when the tears hit…  I was so proud of these guys who are like family to me, and this was a very special night.  I can’t wait to see what next year looks like!!

Stefanie Richardson

Stefanie Richardson

I was born & raised in Orlando, FL. I love living here, but my dream and goal is to be in Nashville sooner rather than later.. I grew up on country music and remember riding around in my dad’s truck singing along to Reba, The Judds, and of course King George. Pure Country was a movie that played often in our house. These days, I absolutely love following “up and coming” artists. Anyone who knows me knows that Cale Dodds is my favorite; and when he’s touring anywhere in the southeast, I’m at his show. I love everything about country music; the way artists appreciate their fan base, the loyalty the fans show their favorite performers, and how it brings people together. I can thank country music for allowing me to meet some awesome people, and some who have become dear friends.

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