CMA Music Festival 2017: 26 Best Things We Saw

From Miranda Lambert's fiery main-stage return to Luke Combs' star-making turn

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Chris Janson
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Chris Janson

At the HGTV Lodge, Chris Janson shared a secret with an intimate, shoulder-to-shoulder audience: Twelve years ago he was living out of an old Chevy Monte Carlo in the very parking lot on which the stage was built. But a fierce work ethic at nearby honky-tonk Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, where Janson played up to 16 hours a day for over a year, refined him into a consummate performer that few other artists can match. "You got to hustle," the "Buy Me a Boat" artist said, summing it up. "Fix a Drink," Janson's new single, was a sing-along favorite, but his light-speed cover of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues," with him stomping a kick drum so hard it rattled the stage, was so stunning and masterful that it left fans wondering what the hell they just witnessed. J.G.

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