During the first full week of June, CMA Fest ruled my life. It was an amazing but life-consuming week that I’ll never forget. If you have never been to CMA Fest, but want to know what it is like, then you came to the right place! I’ll try to recap everything I did and what I took from this MAJOR festival. So, sit back and enjoy!
What did I do at CMA Fest? Hmm… The real question is, what didn’t I do? The artist for whom I play, Payton Taylor, had a grand total of EIGHT shows over the course of SIX days. To say it was hectic is an understatement. In between shows, we tried to find food, maybe find a few hours of sleep, and hit up the Bluebell Ice Cream truck as many times as humanly possible for their free ice cream cups. Every night, we got to bed late and woke up early. I could have slept later most mornings, but that would mean I would have missed the hotel continental breakfast; I’ll take Danishes and pancakes over sleep any day!
Besides the free Bluebell ice cream, I was exposed to many other foods that I tried for the first time – foot long corn dogs, fried pickles, fried okra, grits, biscuits and gravy, and chicken and dumplings. I decided on this trip that even if I wasn’t a musician, I would move to the south just for their food. I got to explore a HUGE tour bus and see what it’s like for big artists to travel, got to watch major label artists do signings for fans, and see some pretty awesome bands at the downtown honky tonks. All in all, it was an amazing week!
On Thursday night, I ventured out to LP Field to see that night’s concert. I got to see Glenn Campbell, Miranda Lambert, Kellie Pickler, Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Zac Brown Band, Lauren Alaina, and Brad Paisley all in ONE night! How cool is that?! Definitely one of the best nights of my life. But the most memorable moment of that concert, for me, was getting to see my biggest inspiration perform on stage – Tully Kennedy, the bassist for Jason Aldean. Tully is the person whom I aspire to be like in my career; he has played for artists like Keith Urban, Thompson Square, Pam Tillis, Lee Brice, Jason Aldean, and so many more. I hope to have just as an impressive list of credits someday. Seeing him perform was absolutely the biggest highlight to a great week.
Above all, I drew a lot of inspiration from CMA Fest. I watched more bands than I can count. Some weren’t as established as we were, some were just as established, and some were MUCH more established. No matter where each of the bands stood on the ladder of success, all were willing to talk, offer advice, share stories, etc. I loved experiencing the camaraderie of all the musicians and artists who were part of the festival, all of whom were there for the same reason – to make music. The more people I met, the more I felt the drive to keep working harder, so one day soon I can get back down to Nashville and play everyday for the rest of my life!
I cannot wait for next year’s CMA Fest! If you’re thinking of attending in 2013, be sure to check my blog – I’m sure I’ll be posting all the places where I’ll be performing. But, next up for me this summer is Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – the world’s LARGEST music festival. I’ll be performing there on July 5th, so stay tuned… I’m sure I’ll have more exciting festival stories for all of you then!