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My CMA Fest 2011 Review

I had a blast going to Nashville, the 4th year in a row, for CMA Fest! It's such a great time for all of the fans to get together, meet your favorite artists, hear great music, and be inspired by Music City itself. My parents and I got there the Saturday before everything started, giving us a chance to do a little sightseeing before everything got so chaotic with the fest starting up.

We took a tour of the Opry Sunday morning after we got in. If you've never done it, and even if you have, it's definitely worth the price of admission. They show you where the artists arrive, their mailboxes, dressing rooms, and at the end, even let you stand in "the circle", where so many legends and current hits have stood. It's a very surreal moment.I know what the Opry members, and artists, mean when they say every time you stand there it's like the first time. You can really feel who has stood there before, and it's very overwhelming.

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More pictures and review after the jump...

That afternoon, we also took a tour of the Country Music Hall of Fame, because they'd updated a few things of items from my favorites, like Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley, and Keith Urban. It's so cool thinking about each piece in the museum is so full of history and means something to each artist.

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Brad and Carrie's outfits from CMA Awards last November

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Taylor Swift's dress when she won EOTY in 2009

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The actual "Hall of Fame" was being set up for a dinner that night.

We took a little drive by Union Station, which is where Rascal Flatts filmed their video for "I'll Be Home For Christmas". It used to be an old train station that they turned into a hotel, which is just beautiful inside. It has a very homey feel to it. I'd love to stay there someday!

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The Outside

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The Lobby (Section where the video was filmed)

 

Here's the Rascal Flatts video so you can compare :)

The following morning, we went on a tour of Studio B, which is where a lot of older music was recorded, and was also the first Studio on Music Row, I believe. Elvis recorded half of his  It's also where the Elvis Duets album was recorded, not too long ago, and Marty Stuart's most recent album! It wasn't a very long tour, but again, it's so full of history and stories, it's well worth it. It was great to see how far the equipment has come since back then, and how studios in general have changed so much.

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Next on the agenda for that week was Carrie Underwood's Fan Club party on Tuesday at the Grand Ole Opry. Thanks to a good friend who had a won a contest in the fan club, we were able to get FRONT ROW SEATS. It was amazing!! Carrie sang a bunch of songs that the fan club had voted on prior to the party, and played Fan Club Feud, which was like Family Feud. She handed out party favors (Olay mositurizer, coupon for Ivey Cake-where she got her wedding cupcakes) and a special 5 year anniversary book. She also had costumes from her Play On tour set up in the lobby of the Opry, and her famous blue truck she would fly in every night was out in front. I think this year was probably the best out of the four parties of hers that I've been to!

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Her crazy shoes! LOL.

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That night, was the Tuesday night Opry show, and what an incredible lineup it was! Jerrod Niemann, Darius Rucker, The Oak Ridge Boys, Martina McBride, Lady Antebellum, and Carrie Underwood were all there performing. They sounded so great, and each got to sing 2-3 songs each. Another exciting part of the show, was when Carrie brought out her "two friends" from last season's American Idol, Scotty and Lauren. They waved hi to the crowd and she told everyone to come out and see them on Friday at the Opry, and that was it! But, since we wouldn't be able to make it to the show Friday, I was so excited that we got to see them! (For Some reason I can't find my pictures from that night, but when I do I will try to post some).

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Wednesday, we had tickets (or wristbands) for the mosh at the CMT Awards, but when it came down to it, we weren't sure if it was worth it to wait all that time and everything. We ended up going to this sports bar across the street, to eat dinner and watch them, which to me was just as fun. Before that, we hung out by the "red carpet", which there really wasn't one. You could see a chunk of it, and watch them pull up to it. We saw Paramore, Keith Urban, Wynonna, Big&Rich, Gretchen Wilson, and Sheryl Crow. Big, Rich, and Gretchen Wilson actually even drove up in their convertible and signed for a few fans. I'm not a fan of theirs, but I thought that was a super nice gesture since the week is supposed to be all about the fans.

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Big&Rich with Gretchen Wilson

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Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman

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Scott Borchetta with his wife Sandi Spika

Thursday, we went to the convention center early in the morning, hoping to meet Lady Antebellum, and I think this year was the craziest it has ever been. It seems that there was more pushing than I remembered, because my dad and I have never really been in the middle of much of it in the past. I ran into the convention center looking for Lady A's sign that was handing out tickets, but I didn't see it. On the way, I saw Kellie Pickler's sign, and there were still tickets. As I was grabbing my ticket from the lady, this guy from behind me tugged at it, trying to take it from me. I'd heard of things like that happening, but had never experienced it. It was very intense! The rest of the day, we waited in the "hopeful line", hoping to meet Lady A, only to find that they didn't have time for anyone in the hopeful line. It was understandable, because they had their fan club party that night, but still sad that we'd waited all day for absolutely nothing.

However, I did get to meet Bill Cody, Jerrod Niemann, Kellie Pickler, Heidi Newfield, and The Jane Dear Girls. They were all so nice. I talked to Jerrod and Niemann and Kellie Pickler for at least 2-3 minutes I would say.

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The CMA Fest itself was great! I don't think it was quite as good as it has been in past years, but each performer still knows how to put on a great show!! The highlights for me were seeing Alabama come out for a few minutes to play with Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Scotty McCreery singing "Your Man" with Josh Turner, Lauren Alaina singing "Anyway" with Martina McBride, Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson singing "Don't You Wanna Stay?", and Shania Twain introducing Sugarland. Plus, I was just thankful the "surprise guest" wasn't Kid Rock once again.

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Saturday, was the City of Hope, Celebrity Softball game! It was a lot later this year than usual, and it was during the day, making it incredibly hot! I really hope they move it back to the night time, because it worked out so much better. It's always fun seeing everyone interact with each other, especially Lauren and Scotty this year, because they're new to all of this. I met Joe Nichols, Jake Owen, Lauren Alaina, Scotty McCreery, Dierks Bentley, Ty Brown, James Wesley, and Nan Kelley.

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It was a great week!! And of course while we were there, we did a lot of eating! We went to The Loveless Cafe, Pancake Pantry, Wildhorse Saloon, Demo's, Bobbie's Dairy Dip (that Taylor Swift had mentioned in an interview), Sweet CeCe's and many others. When in Nashville.... Eat, eat, and eat some more. But, I didn't feel so bad, because we were doing a lot of walking! ;) And there are so many good places to try.

That's all for now,

Shelby

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