Monday, 14 July, 2008 0:34 AM
2008 CMA Music Festival Attendance
Up 9.4 Percent
by John Russell / CMA
Flatts makes a surprise appearance and performs at the Nightly Concert
on the Vault Concert Stage LP Field Thursday, June 5 in Downtown
Nashville during the 2008 CMA Music Festival.
2008 CMA Close Up News Service
CMA Music Festival hit
an all-time high attendance record in 2008 with a 9.4 percent increase
over 2007 during the four-day Festival, Thursday through Sunday,
in Downtown Nashville.
"Even with gasoline
prices around $4 a gallon and weak economic conditions around the
country, we saw an increase in our attendance on every level from
local and regional participation to those fans that traveled from
around the world," said CMA Chief Executive Officer Tammy Genovese.
"I believe that speaks to the strength of the event, the popularity
of our artists, the dedication of our fans, and the entertainment
value of the Festival."
The average daily attendance
in 2008 was 52,000. By comparison, in 2007 the average daily attendance
was nearly 48,000.
"We made a decision
this year to announce our attendance as a daily average rather than
a four-day aggregate so people are not overwhelmed by a huge number
and potentially turned off from attending the Festival because they
are concerned about parking or moving around downtown," Genovese
said. "It is actually much easier than people think and we
want to communicate that in a new way."
Fans definitely enjoyed
themselves and made it known at the Box Office. Tickets for CMA
Music Festival 2009, which will be held June 11-14, went on sale
Saturday and Gold Circle four-day ticket packages sold out in a
record 15 minutes. By Sunday, advance sales bested sales during
the same period in 2007, by 4.2 percent.
"You know you are
giving the fans what they want when they put down their hard-earned
money for an event and we haven't even announced who will be performing,"
Increased sales of four-day
ticket packages and single concert tickets contributed to the growth,
as well as record attendance at CMA Music Festival's free areas
- including the McDonald's®-Dr Pepper® Family Zone, Fun
Zone, Chevy(tm) Sports Zone and Chevy Plaza.
are a hallmark of this event. And 2008 didn't disappoint. The first
night at the VAULT(tm) Concert Stage at LP Field included an unannounced
appearance by reigning CMA Vocal Group of the Year Rascal Flatts.
On Friday, Keith Urban delighted the crowd - and one fan in particular
- when he leapt from the stage, sprinted into the stands and autographed
his guitar for a stunned fan. Jessica Simpson made several unannounced
appearances including the Wednesday Block Party, the Fan Fair Hall
and at LP Field. Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn also made an unexpected
appearance to sign autographs for fans.
"We love giving
our fans something special and unexpected," Genovese said.
"It is amazing to hear the stadium erupt in applause when an
unannounced guest steps out on that stage."
And it all benefits children
and music education in Nashville. The artists and celebrities participating
in CMA Music Festival donate their time. They are not compensated
for the hours they spend signing autographs and performing. In appreciation
of their exhaustive efforts, CMA donates half the net proceeds from
the event to music education on their behalf through a partnership
with the Nashville Alliance for Public Education called "Keep
the Music Playing."
To date, CMA has donated
more than $1 million on behalf of the artists who participate in
the Festival - including $368,500 from the 2006 CMA Music Festival
and $655,600 from 2007 CMA Music Festival. Several students groups
participated in the Festival including drum corps from Antioch and
Overton High Schools, who marched in "The Fourth Annual CMA
Music Festival Kick-Off Parade." In addition, 800 students
were given tickets to attend Saturday night through the generosity
CMA Music Festival is
- and always will be - about the fans and their relationship with
the artists and the music. The theme is universal and in 2008 Festival
attendees came from every state and 28 foreign countries including
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile,
Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland,
Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jersey, Latvia, Malta, New Zealand, Norway,
Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and the United
Kingdom (which includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).
The Festival got underway
Wednesday with Grand Marshall James Otto leading the way for "The
Fourth Annual CMA Music Festival Kick-Off Parade" with an estimated
crowd of 12,000 spectators. Following the procession, the fun kicked
into high gear with "The Third Annual CMA Music Festival Block
Party" on the Chevy Plaza at the Sommet Center. Keith Anderson,
Luke Bryan, Joe Nichols, James Otto, Phil Stacey, Chris Young, and
Zac Brown Band performed for an estimated crowd of 6,000 according
on the VAULT(tm) Concert Stage at LP Field
In all, 36 acts participated
in the star-packed Nightly Concerts on the VAULT Concert Stage at
LP Field. The lineup Thursday included Jewel, Montgomery Gentry,
Kellie Pickler, Sugarland, Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts and acoustic
performances by Luke Bryan and Jennifer Hanson.
Pre-show activities included
the presentation of the Stars and Stripes by the United States Marine
Corps Recruiting Station Nashville Color Guard and a fly over with
FA-18s from The Bengals of VMFA (AW)-224 from Marine Corps Air Station,
Beaufort, S.C., a tradition that was a crowd pleaser all four nights.
Lyric Street recording artist and season six "American Idol"
finalist Phil Stacey sang the national anthem, and Nashville Mayor
Karl Dean officially welcomed fans to Music City for the 37th annual
event, which began as Fan Fair® in 1972.
Fans were treated to
performances Friday by Faith Hill, Jack Ingram, Lady Antebellum,
Miranda Lambert, Josh Turner, Carrie Underwood, and Keith Urban.
Julianne Hough performed with Turner's band. Jake Owen and Ashton
Shepherd performed acoustic sets.
Though the evening marked Hill's first performance at the Festival
in 10 years, she insisted that her appearance felt like a family
event. "Well, it's a short drive," she joked. "And
my kids are at home, so I kind of feel like I'm off tonight."
Saturday's lineup rocked
the house with Trace Adkins, Rodney Atkins, Alan Jackson, Little
Big Town, Craig Morgan, and Kenny Rogers. Jason Michael Carroll,
Jamey Johnson, and Darryl Worley delivered acoustic performances.
Sunday's lineup featured
Bucky Covington, Billy Ray Cyrus, Sara Evans, James Otto, Randy
Travis, and Dwight Yoakam. Phil Stacey, John Stephan and Chuck Wicks
Yoakam last appeared
at the Festival 20 years ago when he performed with personal friend
and mentor Buck Owens. "It's great to be here at CMA Music
Festival," he said. "It's been a long, long time."
Then, referring to the many giants of Country Music who had played
at CMA Music Festival, he added, "It hasn't been a very succinct
journey to this point for me, but the shoulder I'm standing on is
Riverfront Daytime Stages
Fan favorites Phil Vassar
and Jo Dee Messina got the 2008 CMA Music Festival off to an energetic
start Thursday morning during the kick-off concert at Riverfront
Park. Fans were waiting before dawn to see the powerhouse performers.
The dual stages bustled
throughout the four days with a rich array of performers from both
major and independent record labels. In all, 106 acts performed
more than 34 hours of concerts.
The state of continuous
commotion that's been the standard for the truTV(tm) Fan Fair Hall
was back in force with 408 artists and celebrities appearing at
the Nashville Convention Center. Exhibit booths sold out with 110
exhibitors. Attendance over the four days was more than 53,000.
For the first time, single day tickets to the Fan Fair Hall were
available for purchase Saturday and Sunday.
"This is my first time at CMA Music Festival. I'm really impressed
with the way fans form friendships here. I definitely want to become
a part of this community over the next several years," said
Taylor Young, 27, of Mountain View, Calif.
As in previous years,
dedicated fans camped out on the street outside of the Exhibit Hall
starting at 8:00 PM, not only in hopes of being the first in line
for autographs when the doors opened the following morning, but
also to share in what has become a special tradition for this group.
"I came down here at 5 this morning and found there was already
a long line to get in," said Sam Pfeiffer, 36, of Arlington,
Va., on Thursday morning. "I guess I'll have to make it earlier
tomorrow, but that just adds to the sense of adventure."
Their dedication paid
off. Aaron Tippin surprised the assembled fans and signed autographs
around 2:00 AM Thursday following his performance at The Marty Stuart's
Late Night Jam.
Country superstar Alan
Jackson made his first appearance in the Fan Fair Hall since 1998
Friday signing 300 autographs in two hours with his wife and author
Teen sensation Taylor
Swift signed in the Big Machine Records booth Saturday from the
time the doors opened at 10:00 AM until 6:00 PM - with no break.
She signed 900 autographs, the longest consecutive signing since
Garth Brooks' marathon 23 hour signing in 1996.
Kix Brooks made a surprise
appearance in the Fan Fair Hall signing approximately 500 autographs
in three hours at the Brooks & Dunn booth - after signing another
100 in the Borders® booth. Carrie Underwood signed 400 autographs
in four hours and Wynonna signed for five hours. Other popular artists
included Jessica Simpson, Kellie Pickler, Sara Evans, Julianne Hough,
Lady Antebellum, Bucky Covington, Billy Gilman, Emerson Drive, Joe
Nichols, James Otto and Chris Young.
Mary Kay® presents
Acoustic Corner, which launched in 2004 as a showcase for independent
artists, featured 30 solo or group performers. The area on the second
floor of the Convention Center hosted a steady stream of fans.
Premiere on the
CMA's official radio
partner, Premiere Radio Networks, brought 20 of Country radio's
top-rated stations from markets including Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte,
Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, Los
Angeles, Louisville, Nashville, Norfolk, Phoenix, Portland, Raleigh-Durham,
San Diego, Seattle, Tampa, Washington, D.C., and overnight syndicated
radio program "After MidNite with Blair Garner" to Nashville
for three days of remote broadcasts from the Convention Center.
More than 75 artists and celebrities participated in the remotes
reaching 10 million listeners.
In addition, Premiere
also teamed up with several ABC Television Network affiliates to
bring the excitement of the event to cities across the country.
Jack Ingram and the stars of ABC Daytime joined on-air personalities
for the first-hand reports to several markets including Cleveland,
Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Phoenix and Seattle.
"With the new television studio added to the service we've
been offering to radio at CMA Music Festival, we expect to help
participating stations reach an audience of more than 13 million
this year," said Ilycia Deitch Chiarmonte, Senior Director
of Events for Premiere Radio Networks.
Borders had locations
at the Exhibit Hall, Riverfront and LP Field. The Top 5 selling
CD titles belonged to (in order) Alan Jackson, Taylor Swift, Joe
Nichols, Carrie Underwood, and Chris Young - who all signed in the
Fan Fair Hall during the Festival. Other bestselling artists included
Lady Antebellum, Jake Owen, Kellie Pickler, Josh Turner, Keith Urban,
Whiskey Falls, and Stephen Cochran.
"One of the goals
with this event is to help build a marketing platform for developing
artists," Genovese said. "With the variety of artists
on the list, it tells me that our fans are discovering new music
at CMA Music Festival and they aren't waiting until they get home
to buy it."
CMA Music Festival
The official CMA Music
Festival merchandise line was very popular with attendees. According
to Music City Merchandise, which designs and produces the collection,
onsite sales were up nearly 11 percent over 2007. A popular item
this year was a T-shirt that listed all announced performers for
the Nightly Concerts. Music City Merchandise, which had booths at
the truTV Fan Fair Hall, Greased Lightning Daytime Stages, McDonald's-Dr
Pepper Family Zone, the Sommet Center, and VAULT Concert Stage at
LP Field, has been CMA's merchandise partner for the past 14 years.
CMA's free Chevy Sports
Zone was a huge hit with participants and fans looking for fun and
friendly competition. More thank 100 celebrities, artists and athletes
participated in Chevy Sports Zone activities during the four days.
"The Field &
Stream Celebrity Total Outdoorsman Challenge presented by Mobil
1" was a highlight Thursday with Country Music artists and
other celebrities showing off their outdoor skills with contests
in archery, fly casting, bait casting, and air rifle and attempting
to beat the two-time Total Outdoorsman Challenge Champion Paul Thompson,
who also joined the competition. In an upset that had people buzzing,
Daniel Lee Martin beat Thompson for the First Place seat. Martin's
prizes including a televised hunting trip and new BowTech bow. On
Friday, the Field & Stream held local and regional Total Outdoorsman
Challenges. Cory Jones finished first out of nine competitors in
the local qualifier, winning an all-expense paid trip for two to
the 2008 CMA Awards and moving on to the regional qualifier. Also
moving on to the regional qualifier were Scot Marcin, Paul Hughes,
and Martin (who was invited to compete in the regional qualifier
based on his scores from Thursday). Nineteen outdoorsmen competed
in the regional qualifier Friday afternoon. Chris Nischan and Martin
had the best scores and will compete in Field & Stream Total
Outdoorsman Challenge National Championship, Sept. 5-7 in Springfield,
The fur was flying during
the DockDogs® Competitions Presented by Outdoor Channel. Competitions
took place in the DockDogs' 25,000 gallon mobile pool. During the
Celebrity Challenge on Sunday, Outdoor Channel host Mike Pawlawski
and his canine partner Quasi won with a distance of 24 feet, 10
inches, setting a new record for the DockDogs Celebrity Challenge.
The Outdoor Channel's Tiffany Lakowsky and Bo won the silver medal
with a distance of 20 feet, 5 inches. Trick Pony's Keith Burns and
Cheyenne took home the bronze leaping for 19 feet, 11 inches. Also
placing in the top tier were CMT's Katie Cook and Rachel Reinhart
from the band Gloriana.
The Celebrity Sports Challenge Presented by Glaceau Vitaminwater®
Hosted by Steve Azar proved to be a fan favorite with an amazing
array of sports champions and celebrities competing along with Azar
and other artists. Five teams competed, each identified by the color
of their jersey. In the end, victory was awarded to the Navy team,
which included Todd Armstrong, Steve Azar, Aaron Benward of Blue
County, former NFL linebacker Steve Cole, Tennessee Titans punter
Craig Hentrich, and Ken Purvis.
The Outdoor Life Calling
for Conservation Competition took place Friday. Hosted by Shoot
Straight TV's Chad Schearer, this game-calling contest highlights
the launch of a new conservation program: Outdoor Life's "Project
Save-A-Stream," a nationwide program dedicated to cleaning
up our waterways. Professional and celebrity callers competed to
determine the best turkey and big game calls.
Two winners were selected:
Julie Ingram was the audience favorite, based on volume of applause,
but the judges gave the official first prize to Trent Willmon, along
with an Alberta Canada Black Bear Hunt and a check for $1,000 to
donate to the conservation organization of his choice.
The first ever CMA Music
Festival BBQ Championship took place Saturday and Sunday. Teams
from across the nation competed in four categories (pork ribs, pork
shoulder, beef brisket and chicken) for a chance to win a share
of more than $17,000 in cash and prizes to be distributed to category
The Grand Champion of
the CMA Music Festival BBQ Championship, the Lotta Bull BBQ team
from Marietta, Okla., will receive $2,500, a CMA Awards trip package
for two including accommodations, an invitation to take part in
the prestigious KCBS-sanctioned American Royale competition, and
eligibility to participate in the Jack Daniel's World Championship
Invitational Barbecue (better known as "The Jack") in
late October in Lynchburg, TN.
The CBR/RFD-TV Celebrity
Bull Riding Challenge was held Saturday with artists squaring off
against champion bull riders to see who could make the eight seconds.
The event was hosted by Tuff Hedeman, five-time World Champion and
President of CBR. The winning team was professional rider Jake Littlefield
and Jason Brown.
The Fiesta Celebrity
Grilling Challenge was held Saturday with host Lee McWright, Executive
Chef for Fiesta Gas Grills. Artists and celebrities were paired
with professional chefs in a culinary competition. The winning team
was Mark Wills and Chef Jason Brumm of the Nashville restaurant
Annual New Holland/Michael Peterson Celebrity Tractor Race"
had artists and celebrities revved up with contestants racing against
the clock through an obstacle course on a New Holland Boomer(tm)
compact tractor. The winner was singer/songwriter Darby Ledbetter
with an astounding time of .47 seconds. Trent Willmon was second
with .51, followed closely by Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel
Board, with a time of .52 seconds.
The Chevy Plaza free
area on the Sommet Center plaza buzzed with activities featuring
vehicle displays, interactive consumer experiences, games, and the
Chevy Ride & Drive event. The Chevy Stage featured 33 daily
performances. Visitors were also able to test-drive an Avalanche,
Cobalt Sport, HHR, Impala SS, Tahoe Hybrid, all new Malibu, Aveo,
Equinox Sport or one of two Silverados (1500 and 2500 HD). The number
of test drives topped 1,000 and Chevy provided 34,700 giveaway items
including hats, shirts, mugs, playing cards, and more.
Pepper® Family Zone
Growing in popularity
each year since it was introduced in 2001, the free McDonald's-Dr
Pepper Family Zone was buzzing during CMA Music Festival with activities
for youngsters and the young at heart.
The Family Zone was a popular destination Sunday for the McDonald's
Family Picnic, with McDonald's providing free sandwiches to the
first 500 attendees.
For the second year,
top high school vocalists from across the nation were in Nashville
to compete for the prestigious title "Music City Rising Star."
The Music City's Rising Star Youth Vocal Soloist Competition was
held in the McDonald's-Dr Pepper Family Zone with 129 students from
25 states competing. The Top 5 finalists were announced Saturday
on the Greased Lightning Daytime Stages. Winners from first to fifth
were Jernie Talles, 14, of Fort Pierce, Fla., Morgan Grotheer, 17,
of Savannah, Ga., Kaley Caterton, 15, of Waco, Texas, and Anna Brooke
Higdon, 17, of Sevierville, Tenn.
Close Up Presented by Great American Country
The inside track is what
CMA Celebrity Close Up is all about with a lively question and answer
format hosted by media personality Lorianne Crook. And she treated
the record-breaking audience of more than 3,400 over two sessions
to a bit of insider information with guests Bucky Covington, Sara
Evans, Joe Nichols, Jake Owen, Taylor Swift, Randy Travis and Gretchen
Great American Country
(GAC) was the presenting sponsor of the celebrity gab sessions,
which were taped for two future television broadcasts by the same
name on the Country Music-themed cable network. The first episode
is scheduled to air Saturday, July 19 (9:00 PM/ET) and the second
episode will air Saturday, July 26 (9:00 PM/ET). Schedule and times
subject to change.
artists are really in their element in front of a live crowd of
fans, and we always see a side of them we never expected,"
said Sarah Trahern, GAC Senior VP of Programming. "Answering
questions directly from their fans really gets to the heart of who
they are, and the featured artists tell us they enjoy themselves
as much as the audience does."
CMA Music Festival After Hours(tm) Presented by CMT(tm)
The fun never ends. Sixteen
clubs participated in CMA Music Festival After Hours presented by
CMT offering drink specials and activities for festival goers and
"The Official CMA
After Hours Kick-Off Concerts" were held at the Hard Rock Outdoor
Stage with performances by The Clark Brothers, Whiskey Falls, and
Mark Wills. Hard Rock Café Nashville's Stub Hub Songwriters
in the Round returned to the After Hours lineup for its second year
providing fans a glimpse into the stories behind the songs.
Drama is a staple of
both Country Music lyrics and daytime television series, and the
artists and actors met at the crossroads during 2008 CMA Music Festival
when the ABC daytime stars of "All My Children," "One
Life to Live," and "General Hospital" made their
return at the Festival.
Daytime actors that attended
CMA Music Festival included Bobbie Eakes ("Krystal Carey")
and Ricky Paull Goldin ("Jake Martin") from "All
My Children;" Kassie DePaiva ("Blair Cramer") from
"One Life To Live;" and Bradford Anderson ("Damian
Spinelli"), Rebecca Herbst ("Elizabeth Webber"),
and Jason Thompson ("Dr. Patrick Drake") from "General
ABC Block Party
The ABC Block Party hosted
by "Bachelor" alum Bob Guiney on Saturday included a performance
by Country artist Marcel, appearances by the Daytime stars including
a performances by Kassie DePaiva and Bobbie Eakes, a question and
answer session with two-time "Dancing With the Stars"
champion and emerging Country star Julianne Hough, and trivia contests
where winners received "Dirty, Sexy Money" that could
be redeemed onsite for ABC merchandise.
Special - Monday, Sept. 8
As previously announced,
the Festival was filmed for a two-hour television special "CMA
Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock" scheduled to air on
the ABC Television Network Monday, Sept. 8 (9:00-11:00 PM/ET). Hosting
the special for the first time will be two-time "Dancing with
the Stars" champion Julianne Hough, former "American Idol"
finalist Kellie Pickler and reigning CMA Horizon Award winner Taylor
Swift. Robert Deaton is the Executive Producer. Gary Halvorson is
the Director. The special was shot in high definition and will be
broadcast in 720 Progressive (720P), ABC's selected HDTV format,
with 5.1 channel surround sound.
This is the fourth year
the special will air on ABC. The primetime special debuted on the
CBS Television Network in 2004.
Both the concerts and the interaction between the artists and fans
will be captured in the special with heart-pounding performances
interspersed with heart-warming encounters between the artists and
their avid admirers. Taped exclusively for the special, cameras
followed the stories of several Festival attendees, who had their
dreams come true when they were granted a once-in-a-lifetime meeting
and personal encounter with their favorite Country stars.
by Jim Hagans / CMA
Simpson greets Ellis Woodall III from Nashville, Tenn., in the truTV
Fan Fair Hall at the Nashville Convention Center Friday, June 6
during the 2008 CMA Music Festival. Simpson also greeted the crowd
at the Nightly Concert on the Vault Concert Stage LP Field Thursday,
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