So, how's your summer going so far?
Mine is off to a great start - and perhaps this post should be divided into two, because I want to tell you about both the CMA Festival and the wedding plans to this point. I guess I'll just split it up… and start off with my time in Nashville:
Last week I attended the 2014 CMA Festival in Nashville, and for those who are unaware of it, here's a bit of background. It started many years ago and was called "Fan Fair" and was a time when country music performers "gave back" to their most loyal fans by having concerts and "meet and greets." It still is for the fans but the name has changed and each year it seems the festival gets larger and makes some good & a few bad changes. Mostly good - because really, it still is ALL for the fans.
The artists do not get paid to perform, or to sign autographs, hold fan club parties, get pictures taken, etc. (I'm not sure how it works with all the roadies and backup bands - I"m hoping the "star" pays them.) Each night of the 4 day festival the big names come out on the stage at LP Field (where the football Titans play) and do half hour to 40 minute sets. They usually play and sing the current song on the radio and then some of the crowd favorites - because, once again, it's ALL for the fans.
During the day there are 4 or 5 other stages around "lower Broadway" where the up-and-comers, and the oldies-but-goodies play to the crowds. 4 blocks of lower Broadway are blocked off for only walking, and many exhibits, concessions, etc. are set up for the fans. Many of them give away free items - because it's all for the fans!
The Country Music Museum and Hall of Fame is a few blocks away. And, the convention center's big exhibition hall is also filled with more exhibits, and merchandise that is country music related…and games, and a children's area. Many of the "meet and greets" take place there.
So - anyway - this gives you an idea of what ALL there is to do. Plus, add in the honky tonks up and down Broadway and each has great live music, and all the wonderful restaurants in walking distance… it's a morning-to-night party for the fans!
This was my 4th year going. Each time I have experienced some new things. I was able to make the "random drawing" for an intimate concert setting with Dustin Lynch. I also signed up to attend an autograph session with Crystal Gayle.
Special highlights this year: I spent the time with both my daughters and with daughter1's fiancé. It was wonderful to share the experience, especially with family who enjoy the same music! I heard some new performers that I now follow… like southern rockers the Three Cadillacs. I attended a QandA and acoustic set with Lady Antebellum. Last year I went to Scotty McCreery's fan party. It's always good to pick a couple of "smaller venue" events to get a bit up close and personal.
This year the powers of the CMA Fest got wiser and did not include any non-country performers on the LP FIeld stage. They made a big mistake doing that last year with Lenny Kravitz. They also didn't "waste time" with taping intros, etc. for the TV Special that will come from the festival. I also loved the new phone app this year because it helped us know who was playing when and where. The night we had storms it sent out alerts as to when music would start up again.
I came home tired, and even caught a cold from wearing myself out. But, it's still worth it!! As I type this post, just a week after being home, I am already thinking about buying my tickets for next year's festival! If you are thinking of going, let me tell you that country music fans come in all ages, sizes, colors, etc. and are pretty laid back and want to enjoy the music. In 4 years I have never seen a fight. I have met nice people from all over. The people sitting next to us in LP Field were a family that traveled from Australia!! I suggest to stay in a downtown hotel - although shuttles are included for fans that stay out by the new Grand Ole Opry.
Okay. On to subject 2: Daughter Lauren's wedding to Ryan!! A date is picked - April 25th, 2015. A venue has been chosen: the Greenfield Plantation, outside of Georgetown (SC). So…now starts the many other selections… caterer, music, dresses, etc. It's a long list!
Pinterest has become fun to check out for ideas - and to share them with the bride-to-be. She and I are in agreement with everything so far. I know weddings can be stressful. So, I'm hoping we get through the coming months without too much stress, or disagreements, or just getting totally frazzled. I have started a "master file folder" system and plan on co-ordinating it - with the bride & groom's approval on everything of course! Stay tuned!