5 Things We Loved at CMA Festival … So Far

Grab your sunscreen and clear bag—the CMA Music Festival is back.

Videos by American Songwriter

After a two-year hiatus, CMA Fest has returned to Music City with a four-day weekend of live, country music. The festival boasts a packed schedule with six daytime stages, two nighttime stages, and easy access to the goings-on of Broadway. American Songwriter headed out just as the festival got started to soak up as much live music as possible. Read below for five of our favorite moments from the first day of CMA Fest.

1. Lainey Wilson’s Acronym Song Title During Riverfront Performance

You guessed it, we’re talking about Wilson’s song “WWDD,” which stands for “What Would Dolly Do.” Wilson performed the Dolly Parton-inspired song during her set at the Riverfront Stage, and we couldn’t have been more in tune with the spirit of Nashville than at that moment. Later in her set, Wilson also played her hit song, “Things A Man Oughta Know” and “Dirty Looks.” But in between songs, Wilson revealed to the crowd that she’d been dreaming of performing her songs on the Riverfront stage since she was 14 years old.

2. The Red, White, and Blue of LoCash

In addition to waves of patriotic clothing (it is pretty close to the Fourth), one country duo surprised their fans with an unreleased and quite patriotic track. LOCASH, composed of singer/songwriters Chris Lucas and Preston Brust, performed “Three Favorite Colors” during their daytime set at the CMA Fest. We’ll give you just one guess at what those three colors are.

3. Nightscape with Zac Brown

We’re convinced that Zac Brown can do it all. Before his high-energy set at the Nissan Stadium with his band, Brown put together an intimate experience for his fans at the local venue Nightscape. There, Brown sat on a stage and gave a live interview. He chatted about his inspirations, the band’s latest album The Comeback, and how the pandemic affected him. (He didn’t wear shoes for three months during the pandemic!) And while Brown was telling stories, the walls around the crowd changed landscapes thanks to the venue’s built-in 360° projection mapping.

4. Spotify Takes Over Ole Red

Spotify kindly commandeered the Ole Red bar on Broadway for the CMA Fest and filled it with talented singer/songwriters. Heavy-hitters like Ashley McBryde, Brett Eldredge, Cole Swindell, Darius Rucker, Mickey Guyton, Midland, Nelly, and Tyler Hubbard will all perform at the Blake Shelton-inspired venue. Spotify is also shining a well-deserved spotlight on up-and-coming artists in country music by introducing their Fresh Finds Stage. On the first day of Fresh Finds Rooftop performances, fans saw songwriter rounds from Abby Anderson, Chris Ruediger, Taylor Edwards, Maggie Baugh, Tanner Adell, and Jordan Rowe.

5. Music, Music, and More Music

Last, but certainly not least, our favorite part of the CMA Fest kickoff was knowing that there’s still more music to come.

Check out a small portion of Saturday’s lineup of music:

Riverfront Stages:

  • 10:00am: Tyler Farr
  • 10:45 am: Drake White
  • 11:30 am: BRELAND
  • 12:15 pm: Lauren Alaina
  • 1:00 pm: Dylan Scott
  • 1:45 pm: Ryan Hurd
  • 2:30 pm: Matt Stell
  • 3:15 pm: Jessie James Decker
  • 4:00 pm: Home Free
  • 4:45 pm: Priscilla Block

Nissan Stadium:

  • Carrie Underwood
  • Luke Bryan
  • Luke Combs
  • Brothers Osborne
  • Randy Houser

Ascend Amphitheater 

  • Cole Swindell
  • Ingrid Andress
  • Randall King
  • Shy Carter
  • Tyler Braden

Stay tuned for more updates and, as always, keep it country.

Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images

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