Charlie Daniels Band Opens CMA Music Festival

Thursday Morning Concert Also Showcases Blaine Larsen, Eric Church

Southern rock was in the air Thursday morning (June 8) when the Charlie Daniels Band kicked off the concerts at the CMA Music Festival in downtown Nashville.

A cool breeze blew across the Cumberland River to the Riverfront Stages area where fans gathered for four separate concerts featuring a combination of established acts and country music newcomers. With Shannon Brown, Eric Church, Jace Everett and Blaine Larsen joining Daniels for the Country Kickstart show, those performing later in the day included Rhett Akins, Tracy Byrd, Ashley Monroe, Jake Owen, the PovertyNeck Hillbillies, Kevin Sharp, the Bellamy Brothers, Cowboy Crush, the Grascals, Jamey Johnson, Mark Wills, Emerson Drive, Ty England, Luke Stricklin, Trick Pony, Chely Wright and Billy Yates.

Daniels and his band provided an energetic start to the festival that continues through Sunday (June 11). While placing the emphasis on the music, the outspoken Daniels applauded the U.S. military in Iraq for Wednesday’s bombing that killed terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

“The only good terrorist is a dead terrorist,” Daniels told the crowd before criticizing the news media for its portrayal of the U.S. war effort in Iraq. He added, “There’s no way we’re losing that war. We’re winning that war in Iraq.”

The fans responded to Daniels’ political commentary but an even stronger response resulted from his set list that included hits such as “Drinkin’ My Baby Goodbye,” “Long Haired Country Boy,” “The South’s Gonna Do It Again” and “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

The music continues Thursday night at LP Field — formerly known as the Coliseum — for a show featuring Gary Allan, Brooks & Dunn, Sara Evans, Pat Green, Little Big Town, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blake Shelton and Hank Williams Jr.

Calvin Gilbert has served as’s managing editor since 2002. His background includes stints at the Nashville Banner, Radio & Records and Westwood One.