We started our day in the media room with two new artists from Cupit Records and finished our interview week with the always charming, beautiful and talented Chely Wright.
After our last interview we finally made it down to the exhibit floor to join the rest of our staff. One of our crew took an involuntary detour when she was caught up in the security surge surrounding Dierks Bentley as they tried to get him to the booth in one un-mauled piece. All around people were jostling with raised cameras to get a picture or reaching out to touch his golden curls.
We want to thank everyone who took the time to say Hey! at Fan Fair. It’s nice to be able to put a face to our readers.
To us it looked as if this was the busiest day yet. The fans hurried from booth to booth, gathering souvenirs, getting their pictures taken with as many artists as they could before the First Annual CMA Music Festival/33rd Annual Fan Fair brought the curtain down. You can call it the CMA Music Festival, you can call it Fan Fair, you can call it Music City’s biggest barn dance … you can call it anything you want … CSO is calling it just plain fun!
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We can’t believe it is already Saturday and there is only one more day of Fan Fair! This morning, we split in two directions. Some of us went back to The Wrangler Exhibit Hall to check on the booths again. At the Fan Clubhouse booth we saw Mark Wills and Bryan White. Rising star Chris Young was in his booth, so our staff stopped by to wish him a happy birthday. Also signing were Daniel Lee Martin, Steve Holy, T. G. Sheppard, John Berry, and Ty England.
There was a fan club party this morning at The Trap for Trace Adkins. Wow is that guy hilarious. When he wasn’t playing the fan favorites, he had everyone laughing. Adkins said that he heads back into the studio next week to start recording for a new album. There are four songs that have been chosen, and he gave fans a taste of what they can expect. One of the fans asked what Adkin’s favorite video was to make. He answered “Every Light in the House Is On.” When they were making the video, they had so many bright lights shining on the house that it began interfering with the air traffic, which attracted the attention of the local police. According to Adkins, it’s not a party unless the police get called. He ended the show with “Red Hot Mama” and had everyone on their feet.
After lunch, we met back at The Trap to watch Buddy Jewell. 150 fans were on hand for the second annual fan club party. They were treated to a solo acoustic performance. After ten years of recording demos, the 2003 Nashville Star winner has a gold album which is well on its way to platinum. On Monday, he will be in the studio working on the new album. The title of his new single, to be released soon, is “One Step At A Time.” Jewell’s fans should start calling the radio stations to request it. The pouring rain outside was a perfect backdrop for one of Jewell’s well-known hits, “Pour Out The Rain.” His music can bring tears to your eyes and warmth to your heart.
We didn’t have as many interviews today as we did yesterday but what we lacked in volume, we compensated for in quality. We met with the multi-talented and beautiful Kelly Lang. who is not only an accomplished singer/song writer, she is also a remarkable artist whose paintings have been selling well.
Next came singer and song writer, Jill King, whose dynamic voice exudes talent. Her next single, the self-penned “Three months, Two Weeks, One Day,” will be hitting radio soon – much sooner than the title implies. It’s off her debut single, Jillbilly, an album filled with solid traditional music. We spent some of our time trying to make connections between her and a relative of a CSO Staffer who also hales from the tiny town of Arab, Alabama.
Jill was followed by the very handsome , always enjoyable, mega talented, TG Sheppard. Sheppard spoke glowingly of his desire to make an album of the romantic tunes he’s always loved. Look for some surprises when this hits the stores. It will be wonderful to have some new cuts from him.
Our last interview of the day was with the captivating Jenkins trio. Three remarkable beauties and a challenge to tell the mother from the daughters … a real joy to interview and a great way to end our interviewing day.
For the first time one of our staffers made it to the evening press conference that takes place prior to the big coliseum show each evening. Artists Brad Paisley, Josh Turner, The Mavericks, Montgomery Gentry, Billy Ray Cyrus along with the cast of Doc, came to the small room to answer questions from the journalists. Cyrus revealed that this, the fourth year, would probably be the last year for his popular series. “We’ve taken it about as far as we can.” Paisley expounded on both the sense of camaraderie and competition that’s in the country music scene, a combination that’s lacking in other musical genres. Montgomery Gentry is looking forward to performing on the last night of the CMA Music Festival with Hank Williams, Jr and to touring again with Brooks and Dunn.
Some of our crew will be headed for home in the morning. That means there is only one day left of the CMA Music Festival! We have had the opportunity to see a variety of artists this week, some new, some re-invented, and some at the top of the charts. Over the next week, Country Stars Online staff will be adding more great photos, interviews and news about this year’s fest … so check back soon.
Whew! It is day four and we are off and running. Our first stop was at Mark Will’s fan club party at The Trap. He sang for over an hour to approximately 200 fan club members. There are not enough hours in the day for us, so we left the party early.
Today was our first opportunity to check out the Wrangler Fan Fair Exhibit Hall at the Convention Center. As we were arriving, Chris Young was preparing to play at the Acoustic Corner, and the booths were buzzing. We were impressed as usual by the different designs and setups. Each booth, like the artists themselves, had its own charm and personality. Many times we heard the fans yelling and screaming when a favorite artist would enter the exhibit hall. Some of the artists who were meeting fans included Trace Adkins, Rushlow, LeAnn Rimes, Chris Cagle, Jedd Hughes, Billy Dean, Jimmy Wayne, Kevin Sharp, and Trick Pony.
We just missed Jay Bush and his dog, Duke, but the Bush Beans booth (say that fast five times) had goody bags for anyone that stopped by. It is a good idea to check the exhibit hall often because the artists are always coming and going – you never know who you are going to see!
A quick trip to McDonald’s and we were on our way to Ty Herndon’s fan club party at The Castle Door Performance Hall. It was a nice sized party, with about 130 fan club members and a handful of Herndon’s friends and family. There was a silent auction with many autographed items that fans could bid on. Half of the proceeds for the silent auction were designated for the John F. Kennedy School for Autistic Children, for which Herndon is a spokesperson. There were front row spots set aside for some of the children from the school. One of the young girls, who Herndon affectionately called his dancing partner, was presented with a picture that he had painted of what he called his “safe place,” saying that he wanted all of the children to always feel safe. It is obvious that his heart is in a good place. He is committed, has the vision, the passion and certainly the talent to guide him in whatever path he chooses.
For supper, we all met at the famous Longhorn Steakhouse. If you have had their steak before, just driving in the parking lot is enough to make your mouth water. The food is excellent and you can’t beat the atmosphere. If you look in the star sightings in any magazine, you will often see that someone has been spotted there. No such luck tonight, but we were more than satisfied with good food and good friends! Tomorrow, we will be attending fan club parties for Trace Adkins and Buddy Jewell, checking out the Wrangler Fan Fair Exhibit Hall for any new faces, and spending our last evening in Nashville at the downtown clubs. We’ll talk to you tomorrow!
Though we’ve had two full days of events already, not yet “Fan Fair Fried,” today is the first official day of the CMA Musical Festival. We headed out bright and early for The Trap. Our first party of the day was Darryl Worley. After breakfast, Worley took the stage to a room full of screaming fan club members. After his opening song, he asked his father to come up and say a blessing. Because of having to sing at a benefit last night, hosted by Linda Davis at The Wildhorse Saloon, he told the fans he would limit the number of songs he could perform at the party. In spite of that comment, he played and sang for at least an hour. Worley enjoys letting the fans know what he believes in. He is honest, sincere, and patriotic. His song, “Have You Forgotten?” still evokes tremendous emotion from anyone listening to it. He ended his performance with a spiritual song that he hopes to have released soon, called “Whistling Dixie.” We would like to send kudos to Worley for having the courage and the thoughtfulness to have a non-smoking party.
Logan’s Roadhouse was a great choice for lunch. It’s a place where you can relax, eat peanuts in the shell, and have delicious burgers, ribs, steak, and more.
Then we were headed back to The Trap (boy we are spending lots of time there!) for Joe Nichols fan club party. The Trap was barely big enough to hold the huge crowd that turned out to see Nichol’s performance. The crowd was rockin’ with his rendition of “Honky-Tonk Woman.” If the fan club gets much larger, next year’s party will need to be at the Coliseum! Fans were treated to some of the hits that they love and some new music, too. His new album, Revelation, will be released on June 29th. The first single from that album, called “If Nobody Believed in You” is already playing on radio stations across the country and the video can be seen on CMT starting next week. Fans can also look for a Christmas album this year.
After he charmed us with his assets at the CSO dinner, we sure didn’t want to miss Chris Young’s Fan Club party. He was performing at Two Doors Down, a bar and grill near Music Row. Though still a teen-ager, he has written all but one of the songs on his current CD, called I Wish I Was Lyin’. We are predicting that Young will have great success as an artist. If you don’t check out his music, you are missing out on something special. This is the first time we’ve attend Young’s Fan Club party at Fan Fair – oops, we mean CMA Music Festival, but it will definitely not be our last.
The day started with an exclusive interview with Ty Herndon at a local coffee shop. Herndon fans should look for fresh music to be released under a new record label. Watch for a full write up to be posted here on Country Stars Online soon!
AristoMedia Group hosted an acoustic afternoon at The Second Fiddle, a club on Broadway Avenue. The sets were filled with fans waiting to see Daniel Lee Martin, Royal Wade Kimes, Sisters Wade, and more.
One of the staff, Cheryl Hill, brought her husband with her for his first Fan Fair. While we were out looking for stars, he was golfing with them on The Legends golf course south of Nashville. Wood Newton, songwriter who penned the David Ball hit “Riding With Private Malone,” was his golf partner in the charity event. He also saw Eddie Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry and Brad Cotter, the most recent winner of the Nashville Star.
We all took some time off to relax with both old and new friends, twenty-five of them, at a CSO dinner at Helen Neal’s (our Editor/Journalist). We finally got to meet our foreign correspondent, Christian Lamitschka from Germany. He joined us for the evening of good food and great conversation. Special guests at the dinner included artist/songwriters – Wood Newton, members of Wild Horses, and newcomer Chris Young.
Tomorrow we will be back at it in full force. We have many interviews scheduled at the Convention Center, fan club parties for Daryl Worley, Joe Nichols, and Chris Young. We are looking forward to having a busy day!
We arrived late Monday night, anxious to get some rest for the big week ahead. Tuesday morning we started the week with a trip to downtown Nashville. The first stop of the day was the Ryman Theatre where Keith Urban was hosting a fan club party.
Keith’s parties are always filled with surprises and the first was a guest appearance by Jimmy Wayne. Wayne has a new fan club and says he is looking forward to hosting a fan club party of his own hopefully next year. Wayne’s current single is “You Are.”
The next surprise was an invitation to twelve randomly drawn fan club members to sit on stage with Urban during his performance. He certainly has tremendous support from his fans, and his fans have demonstrated tremendous support for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. The fan club won the St. Jude’s Fan Club Challenge for the second year, raising the most money for this excellent charity. The final surprise was a group photo of Urban with all the fans behind him. Fans who attended the party will receive their own copy of the print.
Then we were off to The Trap, a club near the Coliseum, for one of our favorite parties, Trick Pony. Each year, they provide plenty of laughs and songs the fans love. Fans all knew that Heidi had gotten married only days before to Bill Johnson, a sports agent. What Heidi didn’t know, was that she would be presented with her original wedding dress, which had been lost. She told fans that she had been rescued by the designer, who got her another dress just in time. Trick Pony’s new single is being released June 21st. They will shoot a video soon in Las Vegas. The single is entitled “The Bride,” so fans can start calling now to request it from their favorite radio stations. The new CD should be released sometime this fall.
It was back to the Ryman that evening for the IFCO Fun Fest, another annual tradition of ours. As expected the Fun Fest delivered a variety of country artists, established and new. Some of the performers who appeared: Craig Morgan, Brad Cotter, Rushlow, Michelle, Poe, Cowboy Crush, Mark Wills, Andy Griggs. Tracy Byrd ended the show with crowd-pleasing high-energy, very entertaining set. Tracy pleased many fans by remaining at the edge of the stage to sign autographs after the show.
Then we headed to Broadway, the famous strip of bars and clubs where you can always find a variety of live music. We settled at The Second Fiddle and enjoyed the music and the people-watching. The official start of the CMA Music Festival is not until Thursday, but fans are already enjoying the Nashville scene.