Day Two of the CMA Music Festival week echoed Day One with its even mix of industry schmoozathons and fan events.
The Nashville Association of Talent Directors (NATD) launched a new Fan Fair tradition by staging a picnic in the pavilion at Fannie Mae Dees Park (you probably call it “Dragon Park,” like the rest of us). At noon on Tuesday (6/9), its members and their guests gathered to share traditional fixin’s such as hot dogs, coleslaw, baked beans, barbecue, potato salad, pickles, chips and cookies.
Several artists were there, including singer-songwriter Randi Perkins, Saturday Night Live alumnus Victoria Jackson, Moore & Moore (agents as well as singers) and Opryland veterans Russ & Becky Jeffers, who now work for Hemphill Coaches.
“We are artists as well as professional hot-dog cookers,” proclaimed the bespectacled duo The Professor & The Bull. They were, indeed, the picnic’s frankfurter preparers. And are highly entertaining as an act.
Bonnie Sugarman, Dick Beecham, Ray Shelide, Bob Battle, Shelly Mullins, Dave Barton, Marge Bell, Travis Wolf, Annette Clark, Rod Harris, Dan Wunsch, Robert Williams and Fred Vail were among those working the room.
Attendee Ed Salamon has a new book, Pittsburgh’s Golden Age of Rock & Roll. So does NATD member Dean Unkefer of Special Promotions. His is a novel titled 90 Church: The True Story of the Narcotics Squad From Hell. Universal Pictures has picked up the movie rights for it. Wow—from the Colgate Country Showdown to Hollywood in one easy step.
NATD president Steve Tolman announced that the 57-year-old organization’s annual gala will be held on Nov. 10 this year. During the next 30 days, the group will be choosing its honorees. So if you have any suggestions, give Tolman a ring at LogiCom.
Past banquets have saluted Charlie Daniels, George Jones, TV’s Demetria Kalodimos, the Symphony’s Alan Valentine, Martina McBride, Alabama, Michael W. Smith, top agents and managers, sports figures, politicians and more. This year will be the fifth annual NATD Honors gala.
CMA WORLD GLOBALIVE
Meanwhile, downtown, the Festival fans gathered at Walk of Fame Park for a Tuesday afternoon of music. This was the rescheduled “CMA World GlobaLive!” concert. It had been rained out on Monday.
Above the stage hung the flags of the participating countries—Australia, Brazil, Ireland, The Netherlands, Britain, New Zealand and Canada. I heard a spirited set by the rockin’ Dutch outlaw-bluegrass band Stringcaster.
The sun was shining brightly. The humidity was at the usual CMA Fest level. A respectably sized crowd of a couple hundred lounged on the grass, on hammocks scattered throughout the lawn, on the walls flanking the park and on comfortable lawn furniture beneath a large green shade tent.
These artists, who have come so far to participate in CMA Fest, were greeted with enthusiastic applause. It must be quite an experience for them.
The Netherlands sent us Femke as well as Stringcaster. Brazil’s entry was a group called Indiana. From Canada came MacKenzie Porter and The Lovelocks. The Shires and Ward-Thomas represented the U.K. and Ireland. The New Zealand and Australian acts were The Adam Eckersley Band, Cam Luxton, Mickey Pye and show host Morgan Evans.
In the evening, the industry reclaimed the spotlight. Warner Bros. Records took over 3rd & Lindsley to showcase the forthcoming second album by the divine Ashley Monroe. She topped the charts dueting with Blake Shelton on “Lonely Tonight.” Now, please, let it be her turn to shine as a solo female country star.
On Lower Broadway later that night, Kenny Chesney and Florida Georgia Line delighted fans with their outdoor rehearsals for the CMT Awards. These superstar soundchecks were totally free. So are their televised performances from the Broadway stage on Wednesday night during the awards. The rest of the CMT stars will be performing in front of a sold-out audience in Bridgestone Arena.