June 12, 2009 — "Half of the time at concerts, I say we may play 'til 2:30 in the morning — joking," Brad Paisley observed in the early hours Friday.
Thanks to a three-hour delay caused by rain and lightning, he came close to making his joke a reality on the opening night of the CMA Music Festival, playing the final notes of "Alcohol" at Nashville's LP Field around 1:55 a.m. And it likely would've pushed 2:30 if Rascal Flatts hadn't had to bag its 35-minute set, citing travel issues associated with a Friday date in Oklahoma.
Weather was a huge concern for the festival even before it started, thanks to meteorological forecasts that predicted rain for all four days. Tellingly, Thursday morning's opening was delayed 30 minutes by a storm, though the rest of the day went without any apparent scheduling hitches. At least until the evening's stadium show.
Brooks & Dunn belted out 10 party numbers to get the night started, revving up "You Can't Take The Honky Tonk Out Of The Girl," "Put A Girl In It" and the patriotic "Only In America," wrapped in a video flag, salutes from four servicemen on stage and a blast of red, white and blue confetti streamers.
Reba McEntire made a brief appearance during their set for "Cowgirls Don't Cry," then got her own set off to a good start with three songs of her own — "Why Haven't I Heard From You," "The Fear Of Being Alone" and "Strange" — before fans were told to go into the concourse to wait out the lightning. The announcement came from one appropriately named host: emcee Storme Warren, of GAC's Headline Country.
A release sent out by the Country Music Association on Monday had indicated Julianne Hough and Jimmy Wayne would perform, but neither of them appeared onstage.
After the delay, Darius Rucker picked things back up at 12:25 with a 20-minute set that featured the same four titles he played the previous morning at GAC's Kick-Off Breakfast. This time he did them with a full band, and he wandered out into the crowd on the stadium's main floor during "Alright."
Dierks Bentley also contributed three songs to the night and came back out to join Brad on the "Alcohol" finale.=0 A
The CMA also announced a surprise addition to Friday night's lineup: Kid Rock.