Easing and Breezing by the Riverfront

At the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage on June 9, people spread out across the lawn, some lounging on blankets, others standing anxiously and waiting for the next artist to take the stage. The small-town, welcoming vibe made the show feel more like a community picnic than a massive Country Music festival—and the scenery only heightened that impression.

Before the 2 PM show began, the General Jackson riverboat cut through the waters of the Cumberland River behind the stage. People on the boat waved, and the fans waved back. The captain pulled the boat’s massive horn, spectators cheered and the show began.

Country’s rising power duo, Meghan Linsey and Joshua Scott Jones of Steel Magnolia, performed first. After singing one of the first songs they wrote together, “Edge of Goodbye,” Linsey had a special announcement.

“We’re going to sing a brand new song,” she told the audience, which broke into applause. “Y’all are the first ones to hear it.”

They launched into an up-tempo tune about feeling torn between loving someone and wishing they were gone. Fans were singing the song’s catchy hook, “I want all your love,” by the time they reached the last chorus.

Jones and Linsey ended their set with the song that launched their career and earned them several award nominations, “Keep On Lovin’ You.” Fans of all ages sang along, including a mother and daughter from Lynchburg, Va., Kellie and Diane Tucker.

“I loved that last one,” Diane said. “I think they will do well in their career.”

Kellie agreed. “They have good harmonies,” she said. Though this is their third year at CMA Fest, it was the first time the Tuckers had seen Steel Magnolia perform.  They didn’t stick around to watch the afternoon’s second set, but the lawn outside the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage remained packed as James Otto took the stage.

Otto worked the crowd like the seasoned pro he is, encouraging participation in many of his songs. Near the end of his set, he sang a fan favorite and had most of the crowd shouting back the chorus. The song was “It’s a Good Time (For a Good Time)”—despite blazing temperatures, it was the perfect tune to capture the mood of the audience, clapping and swaying as the final notes played.

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