CMT/CMA Fest week in Nashville

Where else in the country can fans attend an awards show and then see four days full of the world’s best in country music?

Nashville in June is the destination for all die-hard country fans.

Die-hard: Enduring the pouring rain for over an hour on Saturday of CMA Fest AFTER the show was delayed a hour due to 60 mph winds and lightning.

Die-hard: Up at 9-10 am every morning to catch the first act at the free, Riverfront stage performances.

Die-hard:  Standing in line for hours for a picture and autograph.

Die-hard: 70-80,000 people in the Nashville area, year after year.

I look forward to this event every year. (It’s also a great reminder that I need to pick up an anniversary card for my wife: 20 years this year! Love you, honey!)

Let’s start off with the CMT Awards:

We sent 2 pelican cases filled with wired mics while Clair provided the wireless systems. Several Shure artists and users had exciting performance, and some walked out of the Bridgestone Arena with awards.

The show opening featured Shure Artists Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan later joined by Jason Derulo. Little Big Town performed their new song “Day Drinking” while getting blasted with with colorful dust and paint (water washable). Dierks Bentley performed his new single “Drunk on a Plane” and Hunter Hayes had 2 performance slots on this year’s show, one with Jennifer Nettles on a UR2/KSM9/HS and John Legend on a UR2/SM58.

Shure Artists’ The Band Perry took home Group Video of the Year while Florida Georgia Line won for Duo Video of the Year and for Collaborative Video of the Year with Luke Bryan. Luke picked up an award for Performance of the Year with Lionel Richie. A great night for Shure Artists!

Finally, new artist Cassadee Pope picked up the Breakthrough Video award for “Wasting All These Tears” in which she used a Black & Red Super 55.

Again, the PSM® 1000 was the only ear system used for monitors on the show.

Brite and early the next day, everyone got their morning jolt of caffeine and prepared for Day 1 of CMA Music Fest.

Rain is a regular attendee at CMA Fest and the first day, it was spotty but cleared up before the evening. Thursday’s performers included Shure Artists Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, and Rascal Flatts. I was able to grab a 10 minute interview with Gary, Joe Don, and Jay before they performed.

Friday morning, it was an early start as I wanted to catch Craig Morgan down at the Riverfront. Craig had injured his left arm and it was in a sling. In typical Craig fashion, he attempted to climb up the trussing on stage and was stopped by his wife who walked out on stage to keep him “in check.”

I also met new artists’ Parmalee and caught their energetic set. Looking forward to hearing more new music from them.

I met up with a new group that is starting to gain considerable ground: Dan + Shay.  Really nice guys who love to use Shure gear. Very impressive vocals. Stand by for more from them.

Finally, I went over to another stage to catch a young artist named Brinn Black. She is working her way up and is one to watch. She’s a talented singer and songwriter.

Gotta give some Shure props to Morris Light & Sound for bringing out the Shure gear for all of the Riverfront performers to use, should they chose to.

I walked over the Cumberland River, back to LP Field to catch The Band Perry Soundcheck. They sounded amazing coming through the L’Acoustics K1 PA system, tuned by longtime friend and Shure fan Dave Brooks, assisted by Chris “Sully” Sullivan, who just started working for L’Acoustics (Congrats, Sully!)

Sound Image was brought in again this year for all the sound logistics and Jason Glass of Clean Wireless Audio wrangled over 280 wireless frequencies for the show.

Saturday Rainy Saturday! It was moving fast across the radar and touted 60 mph winds.  All hands were on deck and wrapping everything they could in visqueen. There was a solid plan in place, and it was executed.  Everyone was evacuated into the building to wait out the worst of it.  It came quick but then tapered off to a drizzle.

Once we were cleared to go back on, Endorser Sara Evans was the first to take the stage. Then another wave of rain hit. For the next hour, it was coming down. The crowd wanted their country music, though.  They toughed it out! When it was finally over, it became quite a beautiful evening.

Little Big Town opened their set with their big hit “Little White Church” surrounding a Super 55, and Florida Georgia Line sounded better than ever! All the phone lights were up during their performance of “Get Your Shine On.”

On the last day of the fest, both Hunter Hayes and show closer Brad Paisley had great sets. Walking around backstage, you could tell the crew was ready for the week to be over. It’s long hours each day with the occasional bumps along the way, either weather or audio related. Despite the issues, it’s always inspiring to see how hard these crews work to make the magic happen for their acts and for the fans.

(As I was starting this blog on Sunday, Zac Brown Band were onstage sound checking with guest performer Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi). Pretty cool hearing Zac singing “Wanted Dead Or Alive.”)

Next year’s CMA Music Fest (June 11-14) is already 75% sold out! Make sure you get your tickets before they are all gone!

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Ryan Smith

Ryan Smith

Ryan is a Regional Manager of Artist Relations at the Shure office in Nashville, TN. He started at Shure in 1993 in Customer Service and joined the AR team in 1996. Ryan has over 30 years of performance experience playing drums and percussion in various groups and genres. In his spare time he enjoys woodworking, watching movies, videography, and camping with his family. His Twitter handle is @ryan_smith1969.

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  • Mitra Giles says:

    Hey Ryan. I work for Pelican Products, let me know who I can reach out to that purchases your cases.
    Thank you!

    • Ryan Smith Ryan Smith says:

      Hello Mitra! Thanks for your comment. We have several departments who have ordered through a couple different local IL based vendors. I will send you an email directly so we can discuss further.

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