PHOTOS: Nashville, Jason Aldean, Kane Brown Rock Nissan Stadium

Charles Esten and Friends Kick Off CMA Fest's Nightly Concerts

Deacon Claybourne never had the opportunity to play on a stage as big Nissan Stadium on Nashville.

But Charles Esten did when he and a few cast members kicked off the 2018 CMA Fest’s nightly concerts at the stadium on Thursday (June 7).

“This is a big deal,” Esten told CMT backstage before his performance. “We shot scenes right here on the field. So, I’ve been in here shooting, but I’ve never stood out there [as me]. The trick is to calm yourself and bring it.

“There are so many opportunities in this town that have come from Nashville. One of them is the Grand Ole Opry, and to stand in that circle, that will knock your knees every time. There are nerves, but I guess part of it is as an actor you act like they’re not there in the audience and then hopefully they go away a little bit. But that’s your goal out here is to not only to do it but enjoy the moment.”

Back in December, Esten confirmed he has decided to make the city of Nashville his forever home to continue his music career. Onstage at CMA Fest, he was joined by fellow castmates Chris Carmack, Jonathan Jackson and Lennon and Maisy Stella. The farewell season continues Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET.

Others who performed at Thursday’s concerts included Jason Aldean, Brothers Osborne, Kane Brown, Dan + Shay, the Oak Ridge Boys and Darius Rucker.

The nightly concerts continue Friday (June 8) at Nissan stadium with performances by Charley Pride, Brett Young, Jake Owen, Luke Combs, Blake Shelton, Old Dominion and Carrie Underwood.

Enjoy scenes from Thursday’s shows:

  1. Charles Esten and Friends

    Jason Kempin/Getty Images
    Jason Kempin/Getty Images
    [image src="wp-attachment://1795872" title="Charles Esten and Chris Carmack"
  2. Jason Aldean

    Jason Kempin/Getty Images
  3. Brothers Osborne

    Jason Kempin/Getty Images
  4. Dan + Shay

    Jason Kempin/Getty Images
  5. Kane Brown and Lauren Alaina

    Jason Kempin/Getty Images
  6. The Oak Ridge Boys

    Jason Kempin/Getty Images
  7. Darius Rucker

    Jason Kempin/Getty Images
Lauren Tingle is a Tennessean and storyteller who eats music for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When she’s not writing or rocking out, she enjoys yoga and getting lost in the great outdoors.