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Discovering New Music at the CMAs

by Rich and Laura Lynch

You get the best of both worlds at the annual CMA Musical Festival in Nashville, Tennessee. In addition to the genre's brightest stars like Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley and Chris Stapleton there are plenty of other acts on the way up ready to slot in to the big stage when called upon. We saw many of them in action as we strolled through the multi-block layout of the fan favorite four day fest in Music City.

The rebooted American Idol was on the scene this year.

For example, the proven star maker American Idol was in town to celebrate their reboot and successful sixteenth season that saw Maddie Poppe from Clarksville, Iowa crowned as the newest winner since making a surprise return on the ABC television network. It is the show's first season to air on ABC. Southern boys included eventual runner-up Caleb Lee Hutchinson (Georgia) and finalist Cade Foehner (Texas) who were both on hand to do a Q&A plus a meet and greet for fans of the show at the packed and heavily branded tent on Third Avenue.

We had the unexpected pleasure of witnessing the compelling 11-year-old Mason Ramsey entertain on the Riverfront stage with his fabulous "Famous" that is already making this youngster a household name on country radio. The stage host gushed that the "future of country music is safe with artists like him" and indeed this young gun has already gotten farther than many of the hopefuls who play on Broadway every night. Heck, we even saw Mason traveling with a large similarly clad fan club so he may have won CMA this year.

Back at the Hard Rock we watched Tegan Marie put her considerable star potential on display as she mixed her own songs with covers like The Band Perry's "Done" and Bruno Mars "24k Magic". Austin Burke followed the perky teenager with a presentation that was proof positive that Nashville dreams still come true. The Phoenix native moved to Music City with high hopes and worked at the downtown honkey tonks wishing to someday play the CMAs. Mission accomplished!

Mason Ramsey and Tegan Marie led a youth movement at the 2018 CMA Festival.

One time Music Row songwriter Cale Dodds made a case for his being an artist on the rise. Wielding a rockin' axe and roaming the stage the performer was perhaps not content to act his age. When he crossed paths with the "Do Not Climb" sign at the end of his set during "People Watching" people watched as he ascended the rafters to perch on the large Chevrolet logo in the middle of the Chevy Breakout Stage Crowd.

An older hopeful Rockin' Rich Lynch has played the Martin guitar booth at the CMA Music Festival in Nashville, Tennessee for two years running now. On Friday, mid-afternoon temperatures in Mid-Tenn were nearing the mid-nineties and it was a hot one to say the least. RRL offered his latest single "Those Days" ( | | GooglePlay | iTunes) describing it as a love song to the music that inspired his youth and early adulthood.

"It's gotta be better 'Those Days' than these days," Lynch remarked at the end of the acoustic song that name-checked some of the top rock artists from the 70s, 80s and 90's. A man in the front concurred with an "Amen to that" and Rich got a fair amount of applause even as he was drenched in sweat in the afternoon sun. Once again the Martin Custom D Jr. Dreadnought Junior Acoustic guitar was an absolute joy to play. The only drawback as pointed out by the onsite company rep was that their location was situated right across from the Walk of Fame Park CMA stage so the Martin booth had to live with the fact that they were drowned out for much of the weekend.

Cale Dodds and Austin Burke at the 2018 CMA Festival.

Hey, CMA: I have a solution for you! Expand your manufactures present and invite some more instrument companies and set them up in a row away from competing music (hard, but doable). In my time at the Martin booth I saw several high quality singer songwriters confidently and competently deliver high caliber songs. A manufactures row at CMA would become a destination to discover additional great music and provide a better overall experience for your equipment vendors. Plus, it would give many more artists the opportunity to say they played the CMAs!

The 2019 CMA Music Festival (June 6th - 9th) will be the 48th annual gathering of the Stars of Country Music and their fans in Nashville! The CMA Music Festival is the premier event in all of country music and you can be sure to catch an eclectic mix of established and emerging artists at next year's event set to include a dizzying array of concerts, autograph sessions, meet & greets and photo opps. The CMA Music Festival takes place around three venues in the downtown area of Nashville including Music City Center, The Riverfront Park and Nissan Stadium lights.

Rockin' Rich Lynch plays the CMAs.

Related Links: For more information on the CMA FESTIVAL and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- CMA Festival | Mason Ramsey | Rich Lynch Band


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