Every summer, the CMA Music Festival takes over the clubs, conference halls and NFL football stadiums of downtown Nashville. It's like country music's own version of South by Southwest, with less BBQ buffets and more pedal steel guitar rigs.
Some of the best moments occur during the off-hours, like the time Charlie Worsham brought Krispy Kreme donuts to his 10 a.m. fan club gig, or Marty Stuart's late-night duet with Travis Tritt at the Ryman Auditorium. Even so, the nightly concerts at LP Field have always been CMA Fest's bread and butter, drawing crowds as big as 50,000. Attending those stadium gigs is like getting the ultimate education in country music's past and present, with a handful of rock & roll cameos— from Richie Sambora's appearance with the Zac Brown Band last year to Lenny Kravitz's fish-out-of-water set in 2013 — thrown in for good measure.
Today, the CMA revealed the LP Field lineup for this year's festival, which kicks off Thursday, June 11th, and runs until Sunday the 14th. Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Brett Eldredge, Florida Georgia Line, Sam Hunt, Alan Jackson, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Neal McCoy, Oak Ridge Boys, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Thomas Rhett, Darius Rucker, Cole Swindell, the Band Perry, Keith Urban, Zac Brown Band, and Wynonna and the Big Noise are all scheduled to take the big stage, with as many as six acts slated for each evening.
Who's missing from the list of country's elite? Garth Brooks, for starters. Nearly a decade ago, Brooks signed autographs for 23 consecutive hours during the 1996 festival, while his fans ordered breakfast in line and patiently waited their turn. Apart from a private performance during last week's Country Radio Seminar festivities, though, Brooks has yet to schedule his first Nashville shows since December 2010, when he staged a week's worth of concerts at the Bridgestone Arena to help raise money for flood repairs. Likewise, Shania Twain, who announced her farewell tour this morning, is absent from the lineup.
Meanwhile, several acts who've played LP Field in the past — including Hunter Hayes, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Jake Owen, the Band Perry and Tim McGraw — are also missing in action from this year's roster. The same goes for Kenny Chesney, although he'll be one-upping the competition by playing a much larger stadium, the Georgia Dome, that same weekend.
The four-day tickets for CMA Music Festival, which include nightly LP concert access, are already sold out.