CMA Music Festival: An A-Z Guide

Country Fans Prepare for CMT Music Awards, More Events in Nashville

From Jason Aldean to the Zac Brown Band, here’s a handy A-Z guide for this year’s CMA Music Festival , descending upon Nashville this week.

A — Jason Aldean will be co-hosting the CMT Music Awards on Wednesday night (June 5) with actress Kristen Bell. It’s Bell’s second year as co-host and Aldean’s first crack at the job. Darius Rucker and Keith Urban are just two of the superstar performers this year. Be sure to catch the fan-voted show live on CMT and CMT.com.

B and CLuke Bryan and Eric Church have exploded in the past few years with big awards, huge hits and sold-out tours. They’ll bring a one-two punch to LP Field on Thursday night (June 6), the first of four stadium-sized nighttime concerts near the banks of the Cumberland River.

DDierks Bentley will be unveiling a smoky single in June titled “Bourbon in Kentucky.” Listen for it at LP Field on Saturday night (June 8) before you get “Sideways.” Newcomer Brett Eldredge, who is climbing the chart with will deliver the national anthem.

ESara Evans leads the week’s daytime concerts with a Thursday morning performance on the Chevrolet Riverfront stage. Located at the very bottom of Lower Broadway, these shows are free and open to the public, but get there early to secure a prime seat on the lawn.

F/GFlorida Georgia Line will be cruising into CMA Music Festival as one of the hottest acts around, thanks to their smash hits “Cruise” and “Get Your Shine On.” The upbeat duo will surely have fans singing along and pretending to roll the windows down Saturday night at LP Field.

HHunter Hayes also earned the title of breakout star this year, so expect screams and a big singalong during his Friday night (June 7) LP Field set. Last year, he turned the stadium into a sea of waving mobile phones. This year, he’s going around telling everyone “I Want Crazy.”

I — “I Told You So” is sure to be part of Randy Travis‘ hit-filled set on Friday night at LP Field. Wouldn’t it be cool if a certain superstar showed up to sing along? With so many artists gathered in one spot, you just never know.

JJake Owen says he’ll go “Anywhere With You,” but Sunday night, he’ll be busy putting on a “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” at LP Field. It’s the final event of the festival, though, so he should be available afterward.

K — Keith Urban and Kelly Clarkson? OK! Urban is working on his next album, Fuse, due in September. Listen for his new single, “Little Bit of Everything,” on Saturday night at LP Field. Clarkson, another superstar with American Idol ties, is on the roster, too.

LLittle Big Town will be larger than life at the CMA Music Festival this year, thanks to hits like “Pontoon” and “Tornado.” They’ll host the LP Field concerts for an ABC special that will air in August. You’ll also want to take yourself downtown for Lady Antebellum‘s LP Field set on Friday night — the same night Little Big Town will be performing.

MMiranda Lambert‘s not one to mess around, so she’ll be one of the first artists to take the big LP Field stage Thursday night.

NDavid Nail hopes fans will stay dry during “Let It Rain” while Jerrod Niemann serves up “One More Drinkin’ Song” at the Riverfront stage on Saturday. Also taking the floating stage that day are Steve Holy, Eric Paslay, Maggie Rose, Corey Smith, Sunny Sweeney and more.

OThe Oak Ridge Boys at the Opry? Sure, if you can get tickets to the Saturday matinee. Plus, they’ll giddy-up twice on the official CMA Music Festival stage — once for the national anthem at LP Field Thursday, then again on Saturday on the big stage for a set of fan favorites.

PBrad Paisley and The Band Perry found their way onto a near-perfect lineup to close the festival Sunday night at LP Field. They’ve become buddies on tour, and if they end up singing together as the event winds down, you wouldn’t be able to beat this summer.

Q — Quality time with family and friends is what the CMA Music Festival is all about. During breaks from the music, you can check out the games and vendors on Lower Broadway or the new Carrie Underwood tour exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Fan Alley near the Schermerhorn Symphony Center will offer refreshments and free wifi all weekend, or check out a bird’s eye view of the festival from the Transitions Performance Park viewing platform.

RRonnie Milsap brings a touch of classic country nostalgia to the Riverfront stage on Sunday. He’ll have two avowed rednecks with him to bring things back to the present, though: Gretchen Wilson (“Redneck Woman” ) and Tyler Farr (“Redneck Crazy”). Also on the bill for Sunday are Rachel Farley, Colt Ford, Kristen Kelly and Lonestar, once again fronted by Richie McDonald.

SBlake Shelton will gather Kip Moore, Hunter Hayes, Randy Travis and some of the other “Boys ‘Round Here” for his headlining slot at LP Field on Friday night — and a few girls, too, thanks to Little Big Town and Lady Antebellum. Gloriana will sing the national anthem.

TTaylor Swift can sell out a stadium concert all on her own, but taking the stage at LP Field on Thursday night, she’ll be surrounded by country stars in the form of Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, the Zac Brown Band and more. That’s a superstar lineup that will probably never, ever get back together, so see it while you can.

U — Carrie Underwood shared the stage with the Rolling Stones last month, but it’s worth noting that the crowd cheering her on at LP Field on Sunday night will be even bigger. Gary Allan and Lee Greenwood will deliver their signature hits, too. Arrive early to hear Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan, who are planning a duets album later this year, perform the national anthem.

V — When you think of “Just Another Day in Paradise,” soaking up the sun with Phil Vassar and a free day of country tunes has to make the list. He’ll be joined on the Riverfront stage by Blackberry Smoke, Mark Chesnutt, Sara Evans, Gloriana, Love and Theft, Dustin Lynch, Craig Morgan and Joe Nichols on Thursday.

WDarryl Worley, Jo Dee Messina and Keith Anderson are the country veterans showing the young guns how it’s done at the Riverfront on Friday. Whippersnappers include Greg Bates, Craig Campbell, Brett Eldredge, Casey James, Aaron Lewis and The X Factor champ Tate Stevens.

X — Fan Fair X autograph signings are perhaps the most-loved element of the CMA Music Festival. Moving over to the colossal new Music City Center, AT&T U-Verse Fan Fair X — as the event has been named — will be roughly triple the size it was last year and include a host of new attractions for fans looking to beat the heat and score a photo with their favorite country stars. For 2013, the whole meet-and-greet process has been revamped.

Y — Why? Taking fans’ feedback from last year into account, about 90 percent of all autograph signings at Fan Fair X will not require a ticket of any kind. Those that do have already been announced and a drawing has been conducted, yet festival organizers have decided to bring back the “fan hopeful lines” for those who missed out. There, optimistic fans can wait to see if the artist has enough time to meet folks without tickets, but remember this only applies to a very small portion of stars at the event (about 10 percent) and is intended to ensure fan safety. Doors to the Music City Center open at 9 a.m. each day of the festival, and entry prices are $10 per day or $25 for a four-day pass. Kids under 12 are free.

Z — The Zac Brown Band will “Jump Right In” with a stadium set at LP Field on the festival’s opening night. They’re sure to make a splash as part of one of the strongest lineups of the weekend. And as for the Monday after everything comes to an end? “Zzzzzzzzzz …”

Check out full coverage from the 2013 CMA Music Festival.