Big harmonica moments and guitar jams anchored night two of the 2016 CMA Music Festival at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium Friday (June 10) with headliners Carrie Underwood, Eric Church, Chris Stapleton, Sam Hunt, Hank Williams Jr. and Clint Black.
In her opening remarks, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry congratulated the TV drama of the same name for striking a new deal with CMT. Earlier that day, it was announced that the critically-acclaimed series will return with a brand new season on the network.
Frankie Ballard opened the night with an electric guitar solo of the national anthem.
Then Black entertained with a short set that included “Nothing but the Taillights,” “We Tell Ourselves” and a surprise collaboration with his wife, Lisa Hartman Black.
The sold-out crowd sang along to Stapleton’s every word as the reigning male vocalist of the year performed “Nobody to Blame,” the lead single from his Grammy-winning country debut Traveller.
Stapleton led guitar jams on extended versions of “Outlaw State of Mind” and “Might as Well Get Stoned.” His humor showed when he sang his band intros before his soulful version of the George Jones classic, “Tennessee Whiskey.”
Stapleton played wing man for his bassist J.T. Cure when he sang, “He’s a single man. Ladies, just look what he can do with his hands.” His introduction for famed harmonica player Mickey Raphael got more laughs from the crowd when he jokingly sang, “He’s played with Willie Nelson for 43 years. I’ve got nothing more to say.” Stapleton slipped into a high falsetto when he introduced his wife Morgane, calling her his “lovely, lovely wife.” He added, “She’s the love of my life.”
Hunt’s six-song set featured No. 1s “Leave the Night On,” “House Party,” “Break Up in a Small Town” and “Take Your Time.”
Next was Eric Church, who lit up the stage with Mr. Misunderstood tracks “Knives of New Orleans,” the title track, “Record Year,” “Chattanooga Lucy” and “Mixed Drinks About Feelings.”
Then Chris Janson made his CMA Fest stadium debut with a surprise performance of his breakout No. 1 “Buy Me a Boat.” The crowd went wild for Janson’s scorching harmonica solo, but they were warned beforehand when he said, “You’re about to see a 135-pound white guy play this harmonica like you ain’t never seen.”
Justin Moore also scored a surprise performance with “You Look Like I Need a Drink.”
Both acts returned to the stage to sing “Born to Boogie” with the next scheduled headliner, Hank Williams Jr.
“Are You Ready for the Country” featured a guest appearance from Church, and then Bocephus closed his portion of the show with a rowdy rendition of “Family Tradition.”
Underwood wrapped the night with an explosive taste of her Storyteller tour.
Dressed in holy skinny jeans, a fitted black tank and a flowing shoulder wrap, she commanded the stage with “Last Name,” “Undo It,” “Wasted,” “Church Bells” and blew away a stadium full of fans with a fiery harmonica solo on “Choctaw County Affair.” It’s a skill she learned specifically for the Storyteller tour.
The 2016 CMA Music Festival at Nissan Stadium continues Saturday with headliners the Marshall Tucker Band, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Chris Young, Cole Swindell, Florida Georgia Line, Steven Tyler and Blake Shelton.