BOBBY KARL WORKS THE ROOM
As a result of my meander through downtown on Tuesday evening (June 3), let me be the first to inform you that this year’s CMA Music Festival attendees are already here in full force and ready to party.
The ones I saw were mostly young couples. They are here to celebrate Country music. They are here to celebrate one another. These are my People!
As the sun began to set, the fans were flocking to Lower Broadway for the “Music City Gives Back” outdoor show by Lee Brice, Jana Kramer, Josh Thompson and Rodney Atkins. This benefited the W.O. Smith Community Music School. Jimmy Carter was there grabbing fan testimonials for Channel 4’s evening newscast. Rodney and Jana got airtime, too.
The Country Music Hall of Fame was doing its part to boost the festivities. Its Tuesday show featured former Belmont students Striking Matches, plus Michael Ray and blonde newcomer Cam. They were subbing for the originally scheduled The Henningsens, who are reportedly on doctor’s orders for vocal rest. In addition to presenting music, this was also an early autographing event.
MusicRow’s Sarah Skates and Kelsey Grady shamelessly declared themselves to be part of the fan brigade. They headed for Mercy Lounge for another Tuesday benefit. This one was for “Musicians on Call,” which brings music to patients in healthcare facilities. This “Country Weekly Kick-Off Party’ starred such heartthrobs as Kip Moore, Frankie Ballard and Chuck Wicks.
Yet another benefit was taking place at 3rd & Lindsley. This one was for Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s multiple sclerosis research. Clay Walker and Montgomery Gentry were booked to headline.
Meanwhile at The Ryman, there was “Stars for Second Harvest,” yet another benefit show. Craig Wiseman “and his friends” were the stars.
I didn’t explore much beyond downtown, but out at the Opry House, there was an outstanding Tuesday lineup. The GOO was featuring Carrie Underwood (who had already had staged her fan-club party there on Monday), Jennifer Nettles, Trace Adkins, Josh Turner, Terri Clark and The Oak Ridge Boys.
Instead, I headed for the warehouse Peter Nappi Studios in North Nashville for the Tuesday-eve launch party of RollingStoneCountry.com. This fiesta was pretty much wall-to-wall artists and publicists. Heading the former list were Brett Eldredge, Chris Young, Maggie Rose, Al Gore (!), Nikki Lane, John & Martina McBride, Eric Paslay, Dustin Lynch, Kellie Pickler, Dann Huff, Leah Turner and party performer Keith Urban. Not to mention Nashville TV soap cast members Jonathan Jackson (“Avery”), Clare Bowen (“Scarlett”), Sam Palladio (“Gunnar”) and Chaley Rose (“Zoe”).
Wait staff circulated with trays of exotic hors d’oeuvres. I didn’t recognize any of the food by sight, and I still couldn’t identify the two tastes I tried. The place was sweltering, but the good news was that they offered Patron Popsicles (essentially, frozen margarita on a stick).
As I mentioned, if you were looking for a friendly flack, this was the spot to be. Working the room were Scott Stem, Craig Campbell, Claire Cook, Alison Auerbach, Ronna Rubin, Erin Morris, Jenny Bohler, Regina Stuve, Jim Havey, Jacqueline Marushka, Cindy Hunt and Lyndie Wenner.
Other scene makers included John Esposito, John Grady, Heather Byrd, Lisa Konicki, Barry Mazor, Jewly Hight and the ubiquitous Tracy Gershon. Presiding were the publication’s exec Jann Wenner, his son Gus Wenner (who is all of 23 years old), plus Beville Dunkerley and Joseph Hudak.
The stars and schmoozers who weren’t at Peter Nappi’s were probably at the annual CAA barbecue downtown, which was happening simultaneously.