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Four Magical Friday Night Moments in Nashville

Breathtaking collaborations? Stunning performance? The essential country influence of the 90s?

Looks like Friday night at the CMA Fest.

From Carly Pearce paying tribute to a deceased Kentucky idol to Kelsea Ballerini singing her truth, read on for highlights from night two at CMA Fest 2022.

ERNEST blooms behind an afternoon with ‘Flower Shops’

Big Loud Records artist ERNEST has already achieved five No. 1 hits as a songwriter on his way to headlining the Cumberland River on Friday afternoon at the Riverfront Stage. As the sweaty, happy crowd eagerly awaited the weekend’s first performance of the country’s favorite pop comeback anthem of 2022, “Flower Shops,” the star who frequently attended CMA Fest in her youth based in Nashville called his end-of-day positioning a “bucket list moment.”

However, as one would expect when he was announced as an artist inspired by “everyone from Eminem to George Jones”, he delivered a performance that expressed the breadth and depth of styles and popular pop influences. If – as much as the clock struck 4:30 on a delightfully balmy afternoon – you’ve been waiting to hear the previously mentioned zoom to the top 10 country radio singles, the Nashville native’s wide array of impressive influences has kept you waiting. an unexpected moment of pleasure.

He’s a neighbor rock crooner with an obvious love for R&B. So as much as his 90s tastes lean towards artists like Alan Jackson, listen carefully and cross soul crooners with a flair like Babyface feel also crucial to its sound. . Dig deeper into his album cuts as live performances and vibes reminiscent of mid-’70s Eagles work seep into “Feet Wanna Run.”

If you thought ERNEST’s artistry limited him to being a trucker hat wearing a sepia-tinted jukebox, you found out today at the Riverfront Stage that you were half right. Listening longer to his work “Flower Shops ‘The Album’ like “Comfortable When I’m Crazy” or songs like “Wasted On You” he wrote for Morgan Wallen’s record streaming champion “Dangerous: The Album “, “He’s a pop-loving songwriter who continues to grow into his soon-to-be-awaited stardom.

To the sun-kissed crowd waiting for him to plug in his electronic acoustic guitar and sing along to the tear-filled blue eyes and sad bloodshot eyes of sad lovers, ERNEST emerged as a country artist worthy of greater attention.

Kelsea Ballerini performs during CMA Fest at Nissan Stadium on Friday, June 10, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Kelsea Ballerini brings everyone together ‘in this room right now’

Days after sharing the Nissan Stadium stage with Kenny Chesney during his Nashville tour, Kelsea Ballerini returned to the towering venue for a pop-country review that was undoubtedly hers.

Ballerini – covered in sequins and dressed in a head-to-toe sparkly outfit (plus a matching sparkly pink guitar) – wasted no time in covering her catalog of infectious songs: a revamped rendition of “Miss Me More” from 2017, a piano-tinged pop ballad “I Quit Drinking”, new single “Heartfirst” and a solo version of Chesney’s award-winning duet “Half of My Hometown” were all picked up.

She punched out a one-two-three with a blisteringly rhythmic medley of “Love Me Like You Mean It,” “Dibs,” and “Yeah Boy.” Yet no moment has struck quite like an unvarnished solo rendition of “Homecoming Queen?”, prefaced by Ballerini asking fans to remove life’s emotional filter and be “in this room together right now.” “.

“Since I saw you, a lot has happened in the world,” Ballerini said on stage. “Getting in was tough, but getting out was just as tough or tougher and I struggled with major anxiety.

She continued, “I go back to that song I wrote before closing about giving myself permission to feel my feelings because we’re all human and no one’s perfect.”

And, of course, she brought some white wine with her, sipping a red Solo cup between songs before ending “with a bang” – drinking the anthem “Hole In The Bottle.”

“I kind of feel like the luckiest girl in the world,” Ballerini said.

Thomas Rhett performs during CMA Fest at Nissan Stadium on Friday, June 10, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Slowing down the summer with Thomas Rhett

Thomas Rhett was once a resident of the Nissan Stadium headquarters at CMA Fest. Now he’s sort of a regular on the main stage.

His 2022 appearance included playing recent favorites like “Country Again” and “Slow Down Summer,” entertaining a delighted crowd during the second night of headlining entertainment at the 2022 CMA Fest.

“I used to bother my dad for free tickets [to this event] when it was called Fan Fair at the Nashville Fairgrounds,” Rhett told The Tennessean before taking the stage. Rhett’s dad, Rhett Akins — much like the current 18-time country radio chart-topping topper — was a staple at Fan Fair as the architect behind many of his son’s childhood successes in suburban Nashville.

As Rhett’s 45-minute set weaved its way through her collection of soulful ballads like 2015’s “Die A Happy Man,” the number of girlfriends comfortably canoodling and singing aloud in Nissan Stadium seemed to double. As he grows to be both a parent and a husband (“my favorite show is Moana,” the father-of-four noted in the press room), his live performance slips into the realm of joyousness. comfortable and accessible.

“My ultimate goal is just to write great songs that reveal 150,000% of who I am. I’ve reignited the creative fire inside of me to be the best overall artist I can be,” Rhett told The Tennessean in April 2022. Two months later, he started his path towards realizing his career goals in the next chapter of his career.

Carly Pearce and Wynonna Judd perform during CMA Fest at Nissan Stadium on Friday, June 10, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Carly Pearce pays Kentucky tribute to the Judds (with Wynonna)

Since the last CMA Fest in 2019, arguably no country music artist has experienced a change in momentum (or an expanded trophy) like Carly Pearce.

She graduated to perform at Nissan Stadium on Friday after becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry and winning CMA Female Vocalist of the Year honors — two accomplishments buoyed by her cathartic and critically acclaimed divorce album ’29. : Written In Stone”.

But instead of taking a victory lap of the best “29” offers, Pearce spent her time on stage honoring a pair of fellow Kentucky guys who came before her: The Judds. Weeks after Naomi Judd’s death, Pearce invited Wynonna Judd to celebrate the late Country Music Hall of Famer with a rendition of Judds’ song “Why Not Me.”

“As a girl growing up in Kentucky, yeah, I idolized the Judds and wanted to be like them,” Pearce said after performing her radio single “What He Didn’t Do” on a two-song appearance. . My first gig was to see Wynonna. And I’ve always loved all the music that The Judds have made and I just feel like it’s such a representation of the best in country music.