In case you don’t know, this week is that week everyone who lives in Nashville goes into hiding… its both CMA Fest and Bonnaroo. (I still think the move to where both are the same week was a dumb, dumb, dumb idea. But no one asked me.) Thousands of music fans descend on the city bring tourism dollars, but also crazy traffic and long work hours if you work in any of the bars and restaurants downtown.
Which I do.
So the last two nights, I’ve purposely gotten at least 9 hours of sleep each night. I know that supposedly you can’t save up sleep, but darn it I am trying. The next couple of nights, I’ll probably get more like 4 (maybe 5) hours of sleep each night. If I am lucky. This week its sleep and eat as you can, plan to make up for it next week.
My body is dreading it already. I feel tired just thinking about it!
But I also embrace it. This week helps keep this city afloat… both financially and it keeps an appeal for music fans around the world. I’m looking forward to meeting people from all over as they come through the doors looking for a cold drink and a seat to rest their tired feet.
I’ve been one of those fans visiting Music City for the Fan Fair experience. Perhaps that helps me feel a welcoming attitude towards everyone.
Then I remember I’ve lived here over five years, and I remember the stress the week brings to Nashvillians. And I take a deep breath and brace myself for the fatigue of long hours, and the frustration behind the wheel as tourists get lost or forget that there are people who live and work here.
Fan Fair… the week I have a love-hate relationship with… ready or not… here it is.
CMA Fest wrapped up three four days ago, and I think everyone has recovered. Or at least close to recovered. Nashville got a much needed shot in the arm economically, and country music fans got a much needed chance to meet their favorite stars. It was a win/win week.
Well. Except for the heat. And the lack of parking. But otherwise, it was great!
For me, this was the first year since moving to Nashville that I didn’t have to be down at CMA Fest, either to work or to see my husband play. So, while every day I intended to go downtown, every day something more pressing came up close to home. However, Sunday, I made it a priority to go see what this year’s CMA Fest had to offer.
I had heard the nightmare stories about parking being non-existent from friends, but by Sunday things had died down some. Parking was no problem, much to my delight. However, the heat was just as bad as I had heard it was.
I was born and raised in Texas. I can “take” the heat. However, despite drinking plenty of water and wearing a loose sundress, the heat did start to get to me after awhile. It made me shorten my time at CMA Fest dramatically, in fact.
However, here’s the thing I love about CMA Fest: people watching. Mostly, its watching the families that are out doing this big event together. On one corner, a man had a microphone preaching about how everyone there was going to go to hell, and how everyone there is a sinner for even being there! I briefly wanted to ask the man what he thought was so bad about families going out to an event together and enjoying an afternoon together? I could see no harm in it whatsoever! It was amazing to me to see so many teens and kids NOT buried in a video game.
My husband and I both mused, though, at one point after he had walked along the Riverfront, down Broadway to Bridgestone Arena, and then over to Shelby Street Bridge: for once it was pure country coming out of all the bars on Broadway… and on the big stages was… well… “Rockin’ Country” I guess you’d call it. In other words, music that was only called country because they brought a fiddle or a steel player along. Not because it was actually what we would define as country. But, hey, I learned a long time ago… the music business is my life. It doesn’t mean I can always make sense of it!
That being said, there is one thing I do understand: music fans love their music. And that was what it was all about, no matter what. A love of music and a chance to experience a very cool festival that happens only once a year.
My husband and I went to one of our favorite “watering holes” to cool down after walking around for awhile. We’ve become regulars there, so we stopped to visit with the bartender for awhile. I asked him how the week had been, and he said simply, “Amazing.” He couldn’t get over how incredibly nice everyone had been all week, and they had definitely had a good week sales-wise!
“You hear horror stories all year about CMA Fest,” he said. “But I don’t know what that was all about. Everyone who came in this place was great. They all have great stories, and they’re all just so happy to be here. I’ve loved it!”
I love it, too, and I’m sorry I didn’t make it down for more of the events this year. A friend is talking about coming to CMA Fest next year, and I hope she does! It’ll give me an excellent excuse to go, too.
Yes it was incredibly hot. Like I briefly said, I cut my time downtown short due to the heat getting to me. And parking downtown is a pain even on a quiet weekend. But at the end of it all… CMA Fest is just a cool thing country music and Nashville does for its fans. I love that fact. I love this city. So, you know, I’m already looking forward to next year!